A/N: I'm supposed to be working on a little oneshot featuring Sophie and Eliot, but Sophie is being stubborn and this idea wiggled into my head and provided a distraction. Who am I to argue?
This assumes DVD order of the episodes, in which The Mile High Job directly follows The Snow Job, and also assumes the events of my story The Finding Trust Job. Some things may make a bit more sense if you read that first, but it's not 100% necessary. Slightly angsty friendship, oneshot. I don't own Leverage.
Parker hadn't felt like a scared little bunny in a long time, but she used to feel that way a lot, when she was younger. There were wolves in the world, and wolves did things far worse than just eating bunnies. But bunnies could protect themselves too, by being small and quiet and learning to hide very well. And so Parker imitated the ways of her floppy stuffed Bunny, and survived.
Not every person in the world was a bunny or a wolf, of course. Most were just plain old boring people who she didn't understand. But Parker understood the bunnies. And she also understood the wolves. And for as long as she had been able, Parker tried to avoid the wolves.
Parker told herself she wouldn't always be helpless, and so this bunny also learned to use her claws. But a bunny's claws aren't always a match for a wolf's teeth, and so she still relied primarily on stealth and silence.
But now, Parker worked with a wolf nearly every day, but she wasn't so sure he was the same kind of wolf. He growled like a wolf, he glared like a wolf. He fought like a wolf. But he didn't hurt her like all the other wolves in her past had. Habits were hard to break, and Parker was used to being silent and sneaky, but she made an effort not to sneak up on this wolf, it was one of the ways she tried to show she wasn't scared of him.
Even now, he was growling at the emergency personnel who were trying to accost the team, and Parker realized he was providing a distraction for them to slip away. Sophie showed up just then with a vehicle she somehow managed to grift or steal, and that made Parker feel like pouting. If Nate wanted a vehicle, why not ask Parker to get it? Then Parker remembered she was still a little conspicuous in her flight attendant uniform and, okay, there was some blood on it.
Oh, that was why Eliot kept growling at the paramedics. They wanted to poke and prod her and he was worried she might have a taser or a knife or something on her. Well, she didn't need a weapon now, Eliot had taught her a few things and she could probably knock them out with a simple punch, if he let them get close enough to her. Which he wouldn't. Because they were just trying to do their jobs.
Maybe a wolf's teeth could be used to protect?
Parker got in the backseat, and Nate got in the passenger side, and Eliot glared Sophie into the back with Parker. Eliot got behind the wheel and managed to weave the car out of the traffic jam caused by their emergency landing. He and Nate were having one of their not-quite-yelling arguments over how far they should go before holing up in a hotel for the night. Hardison was gamely trying to keep up and make reservations for them...Parker removed her earbud, Hardison was getting too loud in her head.
Sophie had produced a handkerchief from somewhere and was dabbing at the cuts on Parker's arms. If Sophie had been anyone else, Parker might have tasered her. But Parker knew the difference between right and wrong, even if she didn't always like it, and Sophie was just trying to help.
After what seemed like forever, Eliot pulled up to a mid-price motel, nice enough to satisfy Sophie, nondescript enough to satisfy Eliot. They had two rooms, with two beds each and that meant Parker would be rooming with Sophie. Parker wondered if she could get away with sleeping on the roof. Otherwise, Sophie was just going to end up smothering Parker with concern, and Parker really didn't want to stab Sophie.
Parker wanted to go out and help steal some clothes and food for the team, but Sophie reminded her about the blood and the uniform, so Parker stayed behind and grew more and more antsy. She wasn't entirely sure why she felt like a skittery bunny again, but then Sophie returned with several bags of clothes, and the Wolf came in the room with her.
Parker felt her pulse speed up, and her eyes go wide, and she wanted nothing more than to disappear down a hole somewhere, but there was no hole, and Eliot was blocking the door. He had a bag of bandages and stuff and Parker knew he was going to insist on checking her cuts and bruises because he cared about things like that.
Maybe a wolf's claws could be used to heal?
Parker tried to insist she was fine, but Sophie betrayed her and sided with Eliot. And she let him check her over even though his touch made her skin crawl. It wasn't his fault, and he was gentle, and entirely proper, and Sophie was there...But she just didn't like the touching. It reminded her too much of the time when she was still a bunny without claws.
It wasn't the same as when Eliot was teaching her to fight. He had to touch her then too, and it didn't bother her because she had asked him to teach her, and he did nothing more than that, and always made sure he didn't make her feel uncomfortable. And he was showing her she had more than just claws. She had teeth, and a shield, and a laser gun, and a force field...she was like a character from one of Hardison's games!
Parker was feeling a little calmer now and her mind had wandered, but she focused on Eliot again when he asked how she managed not to hit her head on anything when the cargo shifted. And she simply told him she learned how to protect her head really well when she was a kid. And she didn't really understand why Eliot's jaw clenched then and why Sophie drew in a breath so sharply and covered her mouth with a hand. Should she not have revealed that?
She started feeling nervous again, and her hands itched to reach for a taser...or a knife...or a...oh, he was done. And he gave her a sad half-smile, like he knew exactly what she had been thinking the whole time...and didn't blame her for it.
And, she thought, this wolf was entirely safe.