Alright. Things get a little…warmed up in this chapter. (Get it? Not 'heated' because they're in the snow storm, but warm because… Never mind.) Fluff—definitely fluff in this one.
It may be a little OOC, but I tried to keep they character's personalities in check.
Thank you for the comments and suggestions! Let me know what you think of this one. There should be one more after this; probably wont be more than that. I'm trying no to drag it out unnecessarily.
About another half hour passed. Parker had laid down and tried to sleep—upon Eliot's request. She squirmed in her sleeping bag for 10 minutes straight. Eliot had closed his eyes, meditating—or trying to. With the day they'd had, he needed a calm mind to see them through it. The constant moving from Parker, however… He couldn't take it anymore.
With a sigh, and asked, "What's the matter, Parker?"
She rolled one more time from her good side to her back. "I don't know."
Figuring that was the only explanation he was going to get, he nodded. "Ya don't have to sleep. Just sit still. You're drivin' me crazy."
Giving up on laying down altogether, Parker started to sit up.
"Hey, take it easy. Let me help ya." Eliot moved closer and grabbed her good arm to help her sit. She yanked her arm away, surprising him.
"I got it," she insisted, sounding annoyed.
He put his hands up in surrender, moving back again.
More awkward silence fell between them. Eliot was about to open his mouth to ask if she wanted more water, when he notice the tiny fire from their propane heater started dimming.
"I guess it's going to get a lot cooler in here," Parker commented, watching Eliot fiddle with it.
The hitter sighed. "There must not have been a lot of gas in there to begin with." He made sure it was off and moved it aside.
After a moment, Parker spoke up again. "Want to bet on how long this storm lasts?"
Eliot glared at her. "You want to make a bet that depends on our survival?"
She shrugged innocently, wincing when it irritated her wound.
"There's something wrong with you."
She played idly with the fingers hanging from the sling Eliot had made her.
"What's on your mind, darlin'?"
She blinked a few times before answering. "I'm sorry about earlier."
Thinking back, she must have meant their 'situation' when fighting over the vodka.
"I don't know…why I felt it was okay to straddle your lap and get that close." He rolled his eyes at her unnecessarily detailed description. "I normally keep my distance and like it that way. Getting close…means being left behind. It happened with all of my foster parents. They gave me up and left me alone. I can't…won't let it happen again."
Eliot's large, warm hand grasped hers gently, squeezing it. "No one here is leaving you behind, darlin'."
She looked around their tent. "It's…just you and me here."
"I won't be leavin' ya any time soon. I can't speak for the others," he admitted, though hated saying, "but…if ya need me, Parker, I'll be there. Even if we live in separate states, or countries, I'll be there for ya, darlin'. In a heartbeat."
Parkers heart fluttered. Just hearing someone say that was never enough, because they were likely to do it anyway. But something about the look in his eye, and the promise in his voice made her believe him. Eliot kept his promises.
Shifting gears, she added, "And I'm sorry for snapping at you just now. Maybe its altitude sickness?"
He shook his head, releasing her hand. She immediately missed the warmth. "I don't think that's how altitude sickness works."
"Do you know what it is? What caused me to be so…feely? Its bugging me."
He shrugged. "Sorry, hun. I got nothin'."
In fact he was still pondering that himself, though he was trying very hard not to think about it. For reasons he was not about to talk about with Parker.
She looked at him curiously then. "Hey. How come you're not all hot-and-bothered by this?"
Eliot had never been so mad at someone so quickly. "'Hot and'— God damn it, Parker!"
"Sorry! Wrong words," she said, realizing her mistake. "I meant why aren't you mad that I yelled at you?" she corrected.
Eliot composed himself. "Because…you're in pain, clearly confused about something, and probably starving. Your actions are justified by the current situation. I believe 'hangry' is what Haridson calls it. When you're so hungry that you're angry."
"Aren't you 'hangry'?" she asked, using air quotes.
He shrugged reaching for the flask. "I've survived days with no food. I'll be fine." He took a swig of the vodka, letting the burn calm his nerves.
"Hey! How come you can have so much of it?" she pouted, trying to reach for the container.
The hitter swatted her hand, annoyed that she was trying to drink again. "Three reasons. One, I can. Two, I haven't been shot in the last 24 hours. Three, I can."
"You said 'I can' twice," she pointed out, giggling.
He rolled his eyes. "Okay, two reasons then. My point is…" He trailed off. What was his point? Did he even have one? Why did he feel so…fuzzy?
The answer was right in his hand; the answer he was about to bring to his lips once again. Annoyed with himself, he capped the flask and thew it across the tent, which wasn't much distance.
He shouldn't have even tempted himself. Now, with more than half that flask gone and having had nothing to eat since that morning, the effects of the alcohol were staring to get to him.
Parker watched him for a second. She'd seen Eliot drink countless times. A few beers—or even glasses of bourbon—in and he still acted perfectly fine. So why did a few sips of vodka seem to bother him? Realization washed over her. She made an 'o' with her lips, trying not to laugh at her companion's inner turmoil.
Eliot caught her expression. "Don't."
She bit her lip to keep from laughing. "I…didn't say anything…!"
Eliot counted in his head how long he thought it would take before she cracked.
"Eliot, are you drunk?"
He sighed heavily. "Not…drunk. Just…fuzzy."
He put his head in his hands, hoping he wouldn't get a headache from the lack of food. The warmed water that had long since cooled sat beside him. He sipped it, refraining from downing it all right then and there.
"So…does this mean I can have another—?"
"No," he cut in, knowing what she was going to ask.
She pouted. "At least let me finish my—"
"—sentence!" she continued, batting at his arm, playfully. Eliot flinched.
Then, to both of their surprise, Eliot laughed. A straight forward, honest laugh. He couldn't help it—damned alcohol. But it was nice for her to know what it was like trying to get her to listen.
Parker was taken aback. She had never heard Eliot genuinely laugh before. The way his eyes crinkles, similar to when she caught his very rare, genuine smile. The way his lips curved into perfect arches. The way his pearly-white teeth peeked past his lips. The way he ducked his head, as if trying to hide it. Parker saw it all happen in one beautiful, fluid motion.
A strong gust of wind whipped the tent hard, starting both of them. Eliot cleared his thought. The moment was over.
"Anyway, I don't think this storm is going to let up anytime soon. And it's starting to get dark."
Parker took in the dimming light outside their tent. "How long have we been in here?"
Counting in his head. "About an hour and a half, give or take. It could last another hour…maybe longer."
Neither of them had brought their cell phones with them. There had been no point on this particular mission, considering their coms got better ranger than their phones. But, due to the storm, even the coms proved to be useless.
Eliot inclined his head toward her arm. "Lemme change the bandages. Better to keep as much moisture off the wound as possible."
She nodded, giving him permission to come closer.
Eliot didn't want to make her uncomfortable. After all, he still hadn't forgotten that they were in this mess because he couldn't do his job.
With the med kit in his lap, he rummaged through it for more gauze and tape. Carefully, he unwrapped her bandage.
Parker watched him work. She watched every move his hands made, from searching for tape, to handling her arm. She was always fascinated by his hands—more-so now than ever before. His hands could knock someone unconscious with just one punch; or could break an arm like he were snapping a twig. They may be calloused, rough, and scared from years of training and abuse, but they were also gentle. Eliot seemed to know exactly how much pressure was needed just to hold her arm in place, and seemed to know exactly what he was doing. She trusted him to take care of her, and he was doing just that.
"What are you thinkin' about so hard?" he asked out of the blue, very aware that her eyes were trained on his work.
Tentatively, she touched the hand that was placing the last piece of tape on her bandage. "Do you hate your hands?"
It was a weird question, but considering it was Parker asking, he'd play along.
"Um, no?" He eyed her curiously. "Why are you askin'?"
She took his hand gently in her hers (ignoring that her dried blood as literally on his hands), turning it over, palm up. She traced the scares and calluses with her eyes, committing them to memory. "You don't hate that there's so many scares?"
He raised a brow, dodging her question. "Why are you askin', Parker?" he repeated, willing her to look at him, but she didn't. Her eyes staying firmly on his hand in hers.
"I don't hate them. I'll admit, I was afraid of them in the beginning, having witnessed first hand the damage they could do." Eliot visibly winced, not liking that she had at one point been afraid of that he was capable of. "But that lasted, like, 2 weeks. They may be strong and dangerous, but I've seen the good they can do, and how gentle they can be."
She formed his hand into a fist, and then, one by one, she brought out each of his fingers. Cooperating with her, he held out each finger exactly where she'd placed it. Looking at his hand now, he did notice just how scared and worn they were. He'd never really thought about it until now.
"No," he said, answering her earlier question. "I don't hate my hands. They can do some damage; they protect—protect the team."
She noticed his hesitation, but didn't interrupt.
"I've…done a lot'a bad things with these hands, Parker—killed people. Targetin' Damien Moroue was a mistake. I know what he's capable of, though I'm sure his hands have never done is dirty work. I…I don't know if my hands are enough to keep…the team safe."
Slowly, she brought that hand up and gently rubbed his knuckles against her soft cheek. "They may have killed back then, but they don't now. And they've saved more than just our lives. So many people would be hurt if it weren't for you. I…" She paused, meeting his gaze. "I'd be dead in the snow without you, Eliot. You saved my life. So…thank you."
He was at a loss for words for a long minute. How is it she didn't understand how to deal with her own emotions and feelings, but she knew exactly how to play with his?
He lightly dragged his thumb long her jaw-line. She happily leaned into his now open palm, sighing contently.
"There's something…about you," he commented.
She looked up at him through her lashes. "Good or bad?"
The corner of his lips tugged. "Depends; good for you, bad for me. You see the good in people that they don't, no matter what they've done. And you use it against them in ways they could never fight against."
They sat there for another long moment, until Parker realized that it was happening again. She was letting him get close to her—touch her.
Seeing and sensing her discomfort and panic, he pulled his hand back. Parker pulled her legs to her chest, hugging her knees. He watched the gears in her head turn, trying to piece together puzzles.
"Why?" she asked abruptly. "Why is this happening? Why does it feel okay when you touch me, or get close to me? Why is it when others get near I feel…unsafe and squirmy? Like I'm trapped without an exit strategy?"
So many questions, he though to himself, wondering how he was going to answer this without scaring her. Maybe it would help if he shared another story.
"When I left the service and joined Moroue, I knew that my life was forfeit. I would live and die for whatever jobs would bring me. And when the first one didn't kill me, I'd move on to the next, wonderin' which one would." He started cleaning up the mess from the med kit. "A few years after joinin' Moroue, I met someone. She lived and breathed everythin' pure. She was a nurse, a volunteer, a donor, and so many other things. She said somethin' very similar to what you were telling me. She convinced me that my hands weren't meant to kill, but to help and be helped. I didn't have to be alone to be saved. She saved me, and I loved her."
He let the words hang in the air. Parker was always smarter than what people took her for. She may be innocent and naive about some things, but her mind was as quick as a whip.
"Love…" The word fell from her lips like a heavy rain drop. "Is…that what this feeling is?"
Eliot set the med kit aside and turned to her. "I can't tell you that, darlin'. I'm not like Sophie, playing on other's feeling to get them to feel what I want them to feel. All I'm saying is you and…Sam had something in common. You see something that no one else does. She told me she loved me before she died in my arms, and I believed her."
The hitter's heart ached terribly. He hadn't said her name since the day she died—he'd never even told anyone about her. He's pretty sure even Moroue doesn't know why he'd left.
Parker's eyes widened and started to water. "She… You… Eliot, I'm so…"
He didn't know what possessed him to do it, but he gently and with ease pulled her to him, letting Parker dry her tears in his shirt. "Shh… Don't cry, Parker."
She hiccuped a sob. "B-But I can't help it! She died, and you loved her."
He nodded, resting his chin on the top of her head. "Yes, but knowing that she loved me didn't make me weak. In fact, it made me strong. After she died, I left Moroue, vowing to never kill again, because she taught me that I could be better—stronger than the man that I was."
She just nodded into his chest, calming her sobs.
"Do you know why I told you that story, Parker?"
She shook her head, blonde strands of hair rolling in her face. He gently tucked them behind her ear.
"What I'm trying to say is you not have to love the idea of someone getting close to you, but you can trust that I will never be the one that hurts you."
"Intentionally," she added, quickly, motioning to her left arm.
"Intentionally," he agreed. "And maybe you don't feel the same way about me being near as you do when other people are near is because…you knew—even before I couldn't figure it out myself—that I wasn't capable of hurting you."
She mulled over his words, letting her tears dry on her cheeks where they fell.
After a long minute, she spoke again. This time is was with absolute clarity. "Safe. I think I feel…safe."
Eliot smiled, glad that she had pieced most of the pieces together. "Good."
With the heat of the moment gone, as well as their small heater, Eliot felt Parker shiver. He leaned her upright and pulled her coat around her shoulders.
"Try to get some sleep," he coaxed, opening her sleeping bag for her to crawl into once again. "I'll wake you when the storm passes."
She nodded. And without warning, and expertly fast, the young thief stole a kiss from his cheek. "Thank you…for helping me figure it out." Without another word, she turned to her side (her back to him) and pulled the sleeping bag to her chin.
He smiled, taking the cup of water and sipping it lightly. "Happy to help, darlin'."
Another half hour passed. Eliot sat in silence, listening to the wind hole outside. The temperature had dropped drastically since their miniature fire went out, and the sun had almost completely set, leaving no rays to warm the chilled air. The small buzz from his alcohol adventure was fading as well, leaving him drowsy and cold. He had pulled his coat back over him, wondering if he should have zipped Parker's coat before she laid down.
A small sneeze rang through he air, startling Eliot slightly.
He frowned, pulling the blanket he was sitting on over top of her, trying to keep as much heat as possible around her. Almost immediately, she threw the blanket off.
"No," she croaked, grogginess from sleep deep in her voice. "I'm warm enough."
"You're not warm, Parker. You're shivering."
She fought him again, this time letting her jack slip away from her wounded arm. Eliot noticed something…off about it. It was damp, despite him having changed it very recently. It was…leaking, but it wasn't blood.
"Parker. Let me see your arm." She didn't fight him as he unwrapped the bandage, yet again. He noted how cold her arm felt to the touch, despite her saying how harm she said she felt. When he gently pulled the bandage away, his brows furrowed. "Damn it…"
"What?" Parker asked weakly. "What's wrong?"
Eliot refrained from literally punching himself. How could he have let it get this bad? Her wound looked fine when he checked it earlier.
"Sparky…?" Parker's worried voice pulled him back; she was almost panting, as if she'd just run a mile.
"Your wound…is infected." He quickly grabbed the med kit again. "I know what it is; I've seen it before."
When he didn't find what he was looking for, he took his anger out on the ground below him. Pain shot from his hand and all the way up his arm. He ignored it.
He took a long, deep breath, finding his center. "It's called Sepsis, or Septicemia. It's when an infection gets into the bloodstream. Your body can't fight it off without an antibiotic."
"Which…is w-what you didn't…find in the med-med kit," she guessed.
"You have cold sweats, a fever, probably have low blood pressure, and you're visibly shaking. Eventually you'll go into Septic Shock… Your body will start to shut down because it's going to devote all its energy into a fight it can't win…"
Eliot didn't want to think about what would happen if she lost that battle.
He re-dressed her arm, trying to keep it clean. He sat her up and pulled her coat around her shaking form, zipping it closed with her left arm folded to her chest. He worked without speaking, not trusting his voice.
Parker let him work, though she didn't like his silence. She knew he was mentally beating himself up again.
"Hey." She tried to catch his eye, but he just kept working on zipping the sleeping bag up around her legs. "Eliot."
He looked up at her, frustration in his eyes. Not toward her, but toward himself.
"Everything w-will be…okay." She grabbed the sleeve of his coat. "You-You wouldn't leave…me. S-So why…would I leave you?"
'One man out here alone… Never stood a chance.'
His own words from earlier that day had come back to haunt him.
His brows knitted together in… Sadness? Pain? She couldn't be sure. Her head felt a little fuzzy…
The cup of water appeared before her. Eliot held it out to her, urging her to take it. "Drink it—all of it. You need as much fluids as you can get." There was about half a cup left. She felt bad because she had drank most of their supply as it is.
"Don't argue," he commanded, having seen that look of defiance in her eye. "Just drink it."
She did what was asked of her, bring the cup to her lips and drinking it eagerly, not realizing just how dry her throat had been.
Meanwhile, Eliot had moved behind her, sitting himself down cross-legged. "Sorry in advance," he said.
Parker gulped the last of her water. "Sorry for wha—?"
She yelped in surprise when Eliot lifted her into his lap. Quickly, and before she could fight him, the pulled the blanket from earlier and wrapped it around them both, cocooning them in warmth.
"You're internal temp is too low," he explained. "You may have a fever, but sittin' in the frigid air won't do you any favors."
His arms came around her, and that feeling from earlier made another appearance deep in her belly. She still wasn't sure what that feeling was. It wasn't just safety. Whatever it was, she liked it.
Once settled, Parker let her tense body relax. Her head lulled, digging her surprisingly cold nose into the heat of his neck.
He tried not to shiver, but couldn't hold it back.
"Sorry," she said, leaning her head onto his chest instead.
His thump creased the back of her hand softly. "It's okay. You soak up all the warmth you need."
A small smile played at her lips. "You a-are awfully…giving to-today. Stories, all o-of our water, your b-body heat…"
He chuckled. Parker enjoyed the light rumble of his chest. "What can I say, you are just so needy."
She laughed too, which dragged a small cough from her lips. Eliot's smile dropped.
"Relax. I've got ya."
And he did. He had her in his arms. He knew she was fading fast, and the only thing he could do was hold her. His current situation was so similar to what happened with Sam that his heart burned with pain. He couldn't bare the thought of losing someone else this close to him.
The wind had started to let up, which helped Eliot relax a little. The others would come for them as soon as they could. He knew Parker needed a hospital, and was thankful that he had had the foresight to tell Nate to get them a helicopter.
"Feelin' any better?" he asked after a comfortable silence.
She just nodded, though she didn't tell the whole truth. She was uncomfortably warm, and she was getting very, very tired. But she didn't want to worry him anymore than she had. She just hoped that the others were coming for them soon.
"Do you…th-think the others…will b-be here…soon?"
He continued drawing a pattern on the back of her hand with his thumb. "The worst is over. I'm sure they'll get here as fast as they can." Eliot left out the part where he had said that earlier that day, and it came back to bite him in the ass.
"I…I think I f-finally know what…what that feeling is."
"Still worryin' over that, are ya?" He shifted his legs out in front of him, hoping he hadn't jostled her too much.
"I think its…w-what Sam…felt."
Another hard squeeze to his heart.
She continued on. "Can you…do me one m-more…small favor?"
She pulled her head from his chest, looking deeply in his eyes, and said, "Kiss me."
This time his heart not only ached, but starting pounding. Parker was asking him—no, begging him—to kiss her. If it were literally any other girl, he would have been more than happy to oblige. But Parker… Parker was mentally fragile, and he was afraid of what would happy if she didn't find whatever it was she was looking for in that kiss.
Her eyes pleaded with him. "I need to-to know if…'that' is what I feel…wh-when you're near me. I need…your help, Eliot. Please…"
There she was goes, pulling my string again.
Her head rigged in defeat. She was sure that he wasn't going to do it. Why would he? She'd asked something impossible of him. That story he told about Sam—how her and Sam were similar. If Sam had felt whatever Parker was feeling, then… She just wanted to understand—to know for sure what this was. She'd hoped a kiss would—
One of his hands poked out from under the blanket, gently lifting her chin to look at him again.
He'd given into her demands. Again. Why, he couldn't be sure. But after what she'd gone through, he'd give her anything.
It was hard to see his face clear in the dark, but his eyes shown bright blue. She'd known they were blue, but never noticed that they were that blue before.
Slowly, painfully slow, he dipped his head, holding hers still with the knuckle of his finger.
"Just this once…" His voice barely a whisper as his lips finally met hers.
There was no heat; no fireworks. Just a simple kiss.
However, neither of them could deny the electric current that shot through their bodies.
Everything disappeared but that feeling; the feeling that Parker was trying to make sense of. That same twist she felt in her belly. She was calm and safe. There was no fever, no chill in the air, no hunger pains. Just that kiss.
Eliot held the kiss for a long few seconds before pulling back. Parker's eyes were closed, as if she were concentrating, but also like she was in another place. When she opened her eyes again, he smiled.
"Did you find what you were looking for?"
A smile tugged at her lips as well, resting her head back on his shoulder.
A noise came from outside the tent. Eliot's head whipped to the side, stretching his senses to hear it. It was in the distance. It wasn't an animal, or human. It was, mechanical. A motor? No, an engine. Snowmobile.
Several bright lights flickered on and off the tent.
Help and finally arrived.
Yup. I'm leaving you hanging right there. Like I said earlier, there will be more to come. My medical reasonings may be a little off, but I just rolled with it.
Until then, thank you for reading other chapter!
Stay safe out there!