Prompt: The Leverage team working together in a different time period.

This prompt was probably meant to spawn a team-on-the-job fic, but it turned into a Parker/Hardison vignette instead. Oops. Also, fair warning, this deals with historical racism as it takes place in the '20s.

Let Stormy Clouds Chase

The thing is, Parker doesn't get it at first, why Hardison is so reticent to show any affection. He'd iterated that he's taken with her—for her, unlike almost every other man she's run into—yet when she powers through her social ineptitude to tell him she reciprocates, he shies away. Initially, she wonders if it's because he's unused to a woman being forward, but that falls to the wayside; it's the Roaring '20s! Women can vote, it's right there in the Constitution! Beyond that, the economy is booming! The Great War is over, the influenza pandemic has passed!

She doesn't understand.

She runs it by Nate, who turns mightily uncomfortable and makes an excuse to hurry out the door; she runs it by Sophie, who simply blames it on the failings of his gender. Neither gives her a real answer. So, finally, she turns to Eliot—the surliest member of their group who doesn't talk much.

He'd been drafted to the Allied troops like the millions of other young men; he'd gone in with almost every one of his friends, and came back with two. He's quiet when he's around them, which he'd told them once in a rare outburst was because of all the things he had rattling around inside of him that would scare them silly. He didn't want to open up that rabbit hole inside his mind. He wasn't scary himself, in Parker's opinion, though the ease he has at adopting a new personality on their jobs, the way he slips into it so seamlessly, has more than once had her wondering if he was quite a bit more to the war effort than just a simple foot soldier.

When she asks him, Eliot slowly finishes his coffee, then shrugs. "Well, he's a Negro," he says simply. "And you're whiter 'n snow."

"So?" Parker says, baffled. So what if he has a different skin color; he's funny and nice and sweet and awfully handsome, and shouldn't that be all that matters?

Eliot laughs, a caustic, bitter thing that sets her nerves on edge. "So, you hold hands with him in the street, you kiss him in public, you may as well hold a sign asking people to beat him bloody. God forbid you get it in your head to marry him." His words are sharper than steel, and her eyes grow wide, stricken. He sighs. "Look, I'd go to bat for him any day of the week, and I have, many times over. He's a better person than most folk combined. But you and him gettin' together? It's illegal, Parker. Wake up."

He leaves her then, in affronted shock, to roll his warning around in her head. She's not as naïve as he thinks, of course: she's noticed there aren't too many black-white matches around, and she knows about all the lynchings, and she's well-aware of what the Jim Crow laws spell out. It just doesn't make sense, any of it.

She sits in Nate's kitchen, stewing, and only perks up when Hardison walks through the door, notebook in his back pocket as usual with a pen behind his ear. When he spots her, his grin is its usual sunny self, although there's a sort of strain behind it now that she'd never noticed before.

Determined, she strides up to him, cups his face, and kisses him squarely on the lips. It's not remotely chaste, her mouth devouring his. When she finally separates from him, his expression is a bit dazed. "I don't care that you're a Negro and I'm not," she says firmly. "I like you, Alec Hardison, and anyone who doesn't think it proper can go to hell."

"Parker, it's not—"

"We don't have to go out in public," she adds quietly. "It can just be you and me if you want. And maybe one day it won't matter anymore."

He doesn't answer for a while, just stares at her, long enough to where she begins to panic that he'll shy away from her once more. Then he smiles, that sweet smile he saves just for her, and initiates a decisive kiss of his own. "Hey," he says, a little sheepish. "I like you, too."