Another long day at the office, Alec Hardison thought as he stepped into his dark loft. He dropped his suitcase and souvenir duffle just beyond the door. He locked and bolted the door and set his security system. One consequence of working with a diverse team was his new found respect (read: fear) of their areas of expertise.
Hardison ignored his bags for the time being and headed toward the kitchen. The flight back from San Lorenzo hadn't been that bad. He had sat with an uncharacteristically upbeat Eliot in first class, catching up on his email and sipping mimosas like a middle aged housewife, while Sophie pouted in business class avoiding anyone who would notice how not martyred she was.
Hardison opened his fridge and pulled out a Jones soda. Weeks old take out would need to be thrown out along with his milk. He went to the cabinets thinking of the large case of cheese puffs he had purchased not that long ago. They got the bad guy, they had stolen a country, and now he was expected to be back to boring, cold Boston, not undermining democracy for personal gain or whatever. Hardison felt restless and tired. He couldn't tell if he wanted to take a month long vacation or jump immediately into the next job. He knew something was missing, he just didn't know what it was. Maybe if the team had ended the night at McRory's like usual, he would feel back in his own element. Or maybe if he had said goodbye to Parker at the airport…
That was the thing about Parker: she was there and then she wasn't. It's what made her the world's greatest thief, but it was also annoying as hell. First she's having you help her lift what has to be a couple hundred pounds of gold off a luggage conveyer, next you can't find her to ask to split a taxi. Not that she'd give her real address but still! First she craves pretzels, then you're too busy overthrowing a government to… be pretzels, do pretzels? He wasn't sure exactly, but he wanted to find out dammit! Screw cheese puffs, he probably still had ice cream in the freeze.
As Hardison turned back towards his fridge, he noticed from over the breakfast bar that his tv was on. It was a sign of how long his day was that Hardison's first instinct was to try to see if his comm was still on. He remembered they had all stowed them before the flight. A week straight with four extra voices in your head really made you appreciate your privacy. Something the little blonde head he could see over the back of the couch didn't seem the understand.
"Parker! The fuck."
"You should make popcorn," she called out, not even turning her head.
Hardison knew Parker had been to his apartment before. Not to hang out or anything. Hell, he wasn't even sure he had been there at the time. Just certain comments she had made in passing made it clear she was familiar with his place. Like that he had a Return of the Jedi poster in his room and that she liked his water pressure. (Elliot had made a face like Hardison had squeezed lemon juice into his eyes at that one.) The jump start his heart had when he noticed a intruder didn't steady. Having Parker waiting for him on his couch may sound like it would still his heart, but it had the opposite effect.
Did this mean… He had said he felt like his day didn't feel over because she wasn't…
He walked towards his leather sectional couch. Parker had her feet up remote in hand. She was wearing the same thing from the flight. Had she even gone home? He cleared his throat as quietly as he could, "I think, I'm out."
"Did you check over the stove?" Her voice sounded absent-minded. His sounded like he got kicked in the shorts. She finally looked back at him smiling, her face guileless.
"No- I." How often was she here? "Hang on." Sure enough, there was Butter Lovers.
"So did I forget to lock a window?"
"No," but she was smirking so that had been her way in. Except he lived on the fifth floor in a busy part of town.
The popcorn button on the microwave gave his two minutes to think. Parker wanted to watch a movie and eat popcorn. It felt like middle school or an after school special (or Disney Channel Original Movie to anyone born after the 80s). Parker was one of the toughest people he knew; she had had a hard, gut wrenchingly tragic childhood. It left her with a confused moral compass. She was both occasionally, sadistically violent and also a firm believer in Santa Claus. Middle school could be what she was comfortable with. That was probably when she stopped attending school so developmentally, at least socially…
Or Hardison was just building this up in his head like he had their first kiss.
Hardison dropped into the cushion next to her bowl of popcorn in his lap, you know, in case she wanted to share. "Alright Mama, what we watchin'? Mystery Science Theater 3000? Fifth Element?"
"Eliot mentioned a movie where these Nazis' faces melt off!" The shine in her eyes was not cute. It was scary. "Actually he said that really happened, but Nate said it was just a movie."
"Raiders of the Lost Ark is a classic, girl. Harrison Ford coming off his laurels of Star Wars, beginning another fantastic trilogy. Which would later be ruined by more movies," he muttered at the end. He tapped his remote with his right hand as he gesticulated grandly with his left.
He queued up the movie, explaining the difference in genre and odd tidbits about the movie. Parker dug out a large bag of M&M's and poured them into the popcorn bowl. Hardison's voice trailed off as the Latin American jungle took over his screen.
She didn't look tense though or nervous. Parker just didn't normal looks relaxed. She was always bursting with energy, almost vibrating trying to keep all of it contained. He could convince himself this was her (awkward, wildly inappropriate) attempt at friendship. He wouldn't even be that disappointed, two weeks ago.
But she was trying in her own way, and so he'd be cautious and patient. If she was trying her best, he could respect her pace. Even if they skipped to make-yourself-at-home on the first date. Not that this was a date. Right?
If they were going to do this like middle schoolers, he was going to go all cheesy middle school on this. He skipped the fake yawn and lay his long arm along the back of the couch behind Parker's head. Not touching, just there, open, you know, in case.
When Indy exchanged the weighted bag with the relic, Parker snorted into her melted chocolate and popcorn filled hand, "Amateur."
Hardison was beginning consider the parallels in Indiana Jones's career and his own. Finding lost treasure could be a fun break from stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. "Do you think Nate would let me get a monkey?" Parker leaned into him, trying to get his attention. "It could be my sidekick."
He let his arm slip down around her shoulders and he argued vehemently against teaching a monkey to cat burglar. He balanced the instinct to try to flirt, to whisper in her ear while still trying to signal that this wasn't a platonic hang out. So they joked and agreed that Marion reminded them of Sophie and the French guy of Evil Nate. After the face melting, Hardison noticed Parker was starting to doze off against him. "Hey," he whispered, "what did you do with the gold bars?"
Parker snorted softly.
When he woke up hours later, Parker was gone. Her spot on the couch cool to the touch. An odd crinkle sound revealed that she hadn't completely vanished. A small bag of airplane pretzels lay on the couch next to him.
A/N: I watched all 4 seasons of Leverage on Netflix and had a few thoughts rolling around in my head. This and a new little snippets are all I found when I looked back months later. I'd like to add more, I even had thoughts of a plot, but I lost the voices since I've seen it and I think they took it off Netflix. A little encouragement wouldn't hurt though. I'd love to hear your thoughts!