A/N: I'm baaaaaack with more Leverage feels. Specifically, more Parker/Eliot feels.

Tags: Parker/Eliot Spencer (Leverage), Set somewhere during the Boston era, Fluff, Ambiguous Relationship(s), Eliot Spencer's Cooking, Just two people sharing each other's space constantly, That can't possibly end in any kind of feelings can it?

Summary: After a job, the only thing that Eliot wants to do is crash.

Somewhere to Lay Your Head

Eliot could sleep like the dead. Airplanes, the back of the van, the bed of an army truck bouncing over a road that was more potholes than asphalt - he had and would continue to sleep in any of them without any apparent issue. In fact, it was usually necessary to be able to conk out in any of the above situations otherwise Eliot wouldn't be able to do what he needed. Being on guard, ready to fire on all cylinders required being well rested.

Being in the Leverage, Inc. crew didn't change that need. Plenty of their jobs had grueling timetables which required the hitter to be awake for way too many hours after far, far less minutes dedicated for sleep. There was a crash that came after most of them, especially on the ones where various limbs and organs had taken a beating. All part of the job. All the more reason to be able to drop onto the couch and grab, if not forty, then a handful of winks on demand.

He was vaguely aware that the rest of the team struggled to address exactly what their decorum should be during these crashes. When he got to sleep during a job, well, they didn't hold off from their complaints, comments, and unnaturally loud whatever the hell it was Hardison found necessary to do over comms. It was just in the aftermath that they walked on eggshells.

Well, nearly all of the team. There was one particular thief who didn't have any inclination to change how she dealt with dead-to-the-world Eliot versus on-the-job Eliot.

Like the afternoon after their last job, for example. Hardison had ducked out with some comment about having just enough time to team up with the UK evening raiding crews on his alt account. Sophie had disappeared into Nate's shower. And Nate was down at the bar to put as much physical space between himself and her because they weren't dating, you see. How could they be dating if he was down there and not up with her? That left Nate's apartment more or less quiet enough for Eliot to flop on the couch and grab some shut eye with the white noise of the shower lingering in the background. Nearly perfect. Until Parker threw herself bodily on top of him.

Eliot grunted from the impact and resisted the urge to physically toss her off. He shoved with one arm awkwardly. She'd managed to pin him surprisingly well with her comparatively smaller mass. Or he was just that beat. "Parker, c'mon," he complained. "I'd just gotten comfortable. That's- ow." Her elbows dug pointedly into his ribs while she adjusted herself.

No amount of glaring would dislodge a determined Parker, take it from Eliot's experience. He pulled the pillow out from under his head when he was finally able to move one arm. It was ineffective but still so satisfying to swat at the crown of her head with it.

"Now who's making things uncomfortable?" she retorted. He was relieved of the pillow but at least her joints weren't still jabbing into his gut. Parker settled atop his chest, one arm tucked delicately under her head.

"You always take a nap after a job. I just want to see what that's like," Parker said like it was so obvious.

Eliot's neck was bent at a weird angle now. The pillow had bridged the gap between the cushion and the arm of the couch. Now he had to crane his neck to fit. "Parker," Eliot growled in warning. She was undeterred with a familiar frown creasing her lips. She was stubborn, possibly even more so than he was. This could easily turn into a hot-headed back and forth for far, far too long. All Eliot wanted was to relax, turn off his brain for a bit, and get some shut eye. This? Not worth the argument.

"... Give me the pillow back an' you can stay," he relented.

Immediately her face brightened and she was only too happy to lean down - elbow once again taking a detour into Eliot's stomach - to grab and return it to him.

Taking a nap with Parker on top of him was hardly a challenge. Eliot managed to drift off to sleep within a few minutes. He just didn't realize exactly what this was opening him up to.

The next job was three states over in Pennsylvania. Just close enough where flying was really not practical. Hardison had to put in extra effort to get them IDs that would pass through security and that meant an uphill battle with Sophie over what photo printed well versus showed up nice on a screen and, well, when the mark was only going to be on site for the long weekend there wasn't enough time to put up with that level of annoyance. So practicality forced them on the road for this one.

The job itself went not quite sideways - Nate's redundant backup plans existed for a reason - but it probably hadn't been anyone's hope that it would end with getting kicked to the curb by the hotel right during the final bait and switch with the mark. In the end they got the cash back to the client, their luggage from the dumpsters out back, and - miraculously - a second car to keep the team split up so that someone wouldn't try to murder the idiot who had supplied them with stolen credit cards to use on the job that had been flagged a week before. The distance would save the team from the inevitable argument spreading itself across the whole length of the trip. Plus Sophie was terrible at actually swapping out the passenger seat up front when it was time to, so the second car would help with that, too.

Eliot took the wheel of the rental car and more or less tried to ignore the chatter in his ear. Because of course they let the comms on for a good hour or two initially. Parker was challenging the others to the license plate game, something that for whatever reason Nate found amusing enough to continue to encourage. By round six or so through the alphabet - both thieves were way too good at the stupid game - Eliot had turned off his earbud. He kept his focus on the road instead, dutifully counting down the miles between fuel-ups.

He didn't notice when Parker's earbud joined his in the cup holder, but Eliot did notice when she folded her legs to turn and face him on the passenger seat next to him. "You owe me a nap," Parker announced.

"'Scuse me?" If anything was owed, it was definitely the other way around. None of the others had volunteered to drive any stretch of the seven-plus hour long trek, assuming they didn't have any slowdown from the holiday Monday afternoon traffic. Which, based on the way the lanes around him were filling up, Eliot suspected would be another thing they didn't quite luck out on.

Parker flipped one hand to emphasize her point. "You owe me a nap," she repeated.

Eliot spared the glance away from the road to level a look at the thief. "And how do you figure that?" he asked.

The expression that slid onto her face did not bode well for Eliot's sanity and the remainder of the - oh yes - four hours, minimum, that they had left. "Because it's the end of the job, and I was supposed to get another Eliot pillow out of the deal," Parker explained. It only left Eliot feeling more confused. He returned to watching the dumbass Honda Civic in front of them that was undecided on whether or not it really wanted to stay at seven over the speed limit or if that was just too bold to keep up.

"No one told me about that deal," Eliot grumbled under his breath.

"It was really comfy," Parker chattered on the seat next to him. "Like, so comfy. I don't think I've slept that great on a couch before that. So, yeah, you owe me another nap."

Eliot had spent a not-insignificant amount of time carefully putting the recollection of Parker snoozing on his chest into a quiet part of his memory that wasn't to be revisited. For his own sanity.

"And that's the most important takeaway. That you thought I was more comfortable than a couch, so that means you- you- what? You just… get to make the rules and say that means you get to use me as a freaking pillow when you want?" He gripped the steering wheel and suddenly was beyond thankful that their comms were off and that Sophie had decided there wasn't enough leg space in the rear seat of the sedan.

Parker snorted. "Not whenever I want, duh. That's- no," she said firmly. Eliot relaxed his grip, foolishly thinking that was where she was going to stop.

"Just when we're done with a job. That's all," Parker finished. When he took another handful of rapid fire glances at her, yep, she kept grinning in that this is all wrapped up in a manic, Parker bow of totally fine fashion.

"How d'you figure that?" Eliot all but growled.

"Oh come on, Eliot," Parker said with a shake of her head. "It's not like you're busy. You always take a nap anyways. No harm in sharing, hmm?" There was some devil's bargain laced in her simple, matter-of-fact declaration. And that was exactly what Eliot didn't want to sidestep into.

"No harm in… Parker! That's not what people do!" Eliot did growl this time.

She made a noise in the back of her throat. "Well people are dumb. Waste of a perfectly warm body," Parker said. That wasn't something any normal human being said. Period.

Eliot jabbed a finger in her direction. His train of thought was derailed as he moved into the passing lane and was immediately cut off by that goddamned Honda. They proceeded to drop their speed even more as though the universe hadn't handed Eliot enough karmic bullshit to deal with today. "This isn't- You're not- We aren't gonna take a nap together," Eliot sputtered in an attempt to retake control of at least one of these two situations. For good measure he flicked his high beams on to piss off the Honda hopefully as well.

He caught the edge of Parker's eye roll in the corner of his vision. "You still owe me a nap," she insisted.

"In! What! World! Do I owe you a nap?" Each word was enunciated sharply.

Parker sat up straighter in the seat and somehow her expression turned even more concerning. "Okay, so did Hardison tell you about that multiple universe thing, too? Because I think he might be onto something. There's supposedly like a bajillion alternate realities where everything has happened because of butterflies or moths or something like that. I stopped paying attention because right around then he said there was a world where I wasn't a thief because, uh, yeah right," she rambled. "But like. I think it's this world. Because you do. Owe me a nap."

If Eliot hadn't used his personal - heavy air quotes, of course - credit card for the rental today, he might have snapped the steering wheel right then and there.

"There's something wrong with you," he insisted furtively. Whether he was talking to himself or Parker remained to be seen. He tuned out Parker for the next little while, focusing instead on painfully crafting the perfect opportunity to weave through traffic where he would cut off that Honda and keep them from getting to their offramp. It was the little things in life that kept a man going.

When finally, mercifully they got to leave the car a whole five hours and twenty minutes later, Eliot didn't have it in him to protest when Parker flopped on top of him. He was too damned tired.

Some small part of Eliot knew that when Sophie settled herself on the barstool in front of Nate's kitchen it wasn't just to try and snatch the fries that he was shaking out onto paper towels to cool. For one thing, Sophie was notoriously picky about what fried food she consumed. For another, she had that arc to her eyebrow and purse to her lips that screamed agenda! to the hitter.

Eliot greeted her politely still and tucked the wire basket back into the pot of oil he had going on the stove. It needed another minute or two to get back up to temp before he would put the next batch in. The trials and tribulations of cooking in Nate's apartment. Then again, buying a deep fryer would mean committing to staying for long and no one had really broached that topic with any level of seriousness. Nate still got fiddly when he came in some nights to see the team sprawled out across his furnishings.

"You've been in a good mood lately," Sophie offered simply, a casual observation. Too casual. Eliot could feel her eyes on him even while he faced the stove. He busied himself with digging out the thermometer from the drawer rather than return to the bar. He could read the simmering oil well enough to know when to stick the next batch in. This just gave him time to assess exactly the right way to address the grifter.

He didn't look back over his shoulder, calling in response, "Sure. Things haven't been too bad. Stayin' in Boston's been nice. Like getting back to normal again."

"We're all settling in. Picking up habits, routines," Sophie said. Again her tone was light, controlled. Eliot smothered a grimace. She was handling him like a damn mark. Sure, sometimes Sophie couldn't turn off the grifter in her, but when Eliot could pick up on it? That still pissed him off.

The thermometer was reading right smack in the range he needed. Eliot took his time again tapping the excess oil off the needle and placing it on the array of paper towels that he'd spread around the stove to deal with any spatter. "That a bad thing?" he asked.

He'd spent the past hour carefully juliening fresh potatoes, soaking off the excess starch, and then doing the first round of blanching in oil. If Hardison complained again that these didn't taste like the McDonalds' ones, he wouldn't be walking out with a working mouse hand.

There was a distinctive crunch from behind him. Eliot turned over his shoulder and leveled a glower at Sophie. She had two fries in her hand and - for once - a guilty expression on her face. "Those are for dinner," Eliot said. When he pointed back down to the other cooling fries, Sophie had the good grace to put them back.

"They're good," she offered in consolation.

"I know," Eliot retorted.

"New habits," Sophie said. After a beat she added, "And the fries. Is that the same seasoning they use at that little surf and turf place on the waterfront?"

Eliot would have preened at the comparison, but he was still on edge from Sophie's line of questioning. "It's my own mix." He turned back to the stove to click the heat up another notch. There shouldn't have been too big of a drop in temp from adding in the fries, but better safe than soggy. If he had to leave the fries in longer, they would turn from deliciously crispy to greasy. No thank you.

He knew that by turning away he was handing Sophie the perfect opportunity to make her next strike. She'd jump in three… two… one… "Do you think that you're going to keep your… new habits?" Sophie asked curiously.

Eliot exhaled quietly. He was trapped here, tethered to his cooking and completely at Sophie's mercy. If he knew better - and he did - he would suspect that she had planned this. The distinct lack of the others had been a boon initially. Less prying eyes and hands while he prepped. But it had left him open now to Sophie's interrogation.

"If people keep munchin' on things before dinner's ready, no I don't think I will keep this particular habit. I've got better things I can do on a Saturday afternoon," Eliot retorted. He knew that wasn't what Sophie was getting at. But it damn well wasn't her business.

Parker wasn't subtle in her approach for anything that wasn't a job. If she thought something, chances were it was already leaving her mouth. Plus, well, nine times out of ten Eliot was crashing on the couch here instead of taking the fifteen minute drive through the city to his place. The whole point of the end-of-job crash was to recuperate just enough to be functional and then he would either be able to join the team down at the bar for a celebratory drink or make the trip to a proper bed. Eliot didn't know if Sophie had caught on just after the last job with the museum curator or if she'd picked up on things earlier.

"So it's just a casual kind of thing, then? Nothing serious? If you've got something better to do, that is," Sophie pressed.

If Eliot had not spent so long on these damn fries at this point, he would have just walked away at this point. He prodded unhelpfully at the wire basket and instead tried not to snap at Sophie. "Can we skip the double talk?"

Sophie sniffed, "Fine by me. I'm trying to figure out if Parker is on the same page that you're on. That's all."

"If Parker…" The fries were turning golden on the edges. Eliot tugged the basket out and dumped them unceremoniously in the bowl of vinegar and seasoning. Now that he could finally turn his whole attention to Sophie's crusade. He folded his arms over his chest and leaned against the counter to face her at the bar. "You know that she's the one that started it, right?"

Sophie's eyebrow arched higher. "Somehow I doubt that you fought that too much. You men have a thing about flexibility where you get all blind to everything else," she said, her tone matter-of-fact. Eliot's jaw just about dropped at that.

"I just want to make sure that you realize if she gets attached then that could be messy for the team. And Parker's not one to take kindly to being toyed with and put aside. She's not like your normal sort of lady friend."

Sophie was talking and, sure, it was English, but Eliot was really only processing about every third word or so. He was supposed to be watching out to make sure Parker didn't get attached? Parker? Eliot cleared his throat and cut Sophie off finally.

"Soph, you've got this all wrong. Like, completely," he insisted. When she tried to speak up again, Eliot waved a hand. "We're not a thing. There is no Parker and I."

"You're sleeping together, Eliot!" Sophie hissed. "That's pretty together!"

"On the couch!"

"Oh, do not tell me the gory details. Save that for your boys' poker night."

"You've seen us!"

Sophie snorted. "If you're all wrapped up with each other in public, that certainly doesn't bode well for what you're doing in private."

Eliot pinched the bridge of his nose. It was all that he could do to assuage the headache that had instantly burst to life in his forehead. He might have expected this kind of reaction from Hardison - the hacker's crush was adorably obvious to everyone except its target - but Sophie was a woman who prided herself on being able to read people. And she was so, so wrong here.

He took a deep breath and growled, "Sophie, we're literally sleeping. Like eyes shut, countin' sheep sleep. That's it. But either way, my intimate business is none of yours. And neither is Parker's."

Sophie blinked owlishly, her lips in a circle while she processed what he had said. "Oh. Oh! So that's… But why?"

That level of confusion Eliot could get on board with. He lifted one shoulder and dropped it. "Like I said, she started it." When Sophie still had her forehead furrowed, Eliot offered, "Said I was comfy. Who am I to argue with that?"

As Sophie wrestled her worldview back into order, she remained on the barstool. There was a rattling at the door and the tell-tale back and forth of Nate and Hardison discussing whatever game had been on the TV downstairs. Eliot resisted the urge to let out a sigh of relief. The interrogation was surely over. Eliot turned his attention back to the fries to finish seasoning the last batch. Next he could pull the pot off the burner and swap it for a griddle. The burgers weren't going to cook themselves.

Not every job ended smoothly. Sure, at the end of the day Nate would get them the win and more or less Eliot was able to sleep at night. But sometimes the win felt just a little small compared to the crushing weight of the systems they were fighting against. For every dirty deal they were able to dismantle or overturn there were three more hungry corporations ready to make an offer only marginally better.

At least this time Eliot hadn't gotten himself wrecked. That was a win in and of itself. He sat on the bumper of the van with Hardison while Nate and Sophie were giving the good news to the client. They had successfully ousted the previous corrupt leadership from the after school program making the client a vice president no longer and officially rejecting the real estate deal that had nearly gone through. Without the building being sold out from under them, the program would be able to open up again starting next week; assuming that their stunt to push the CYO's paperwork to the top of the city controller's inbox wasn't foiled by spilled coffee or, god forbid, a competent secretary who actually looked at submission dates on things.

There was a definitive lack of slightly-off-kilter commentary joining Eliot and Hardison's conversation. Even by the time that Nate and Sophie left the office and rejoined them at the van there was still no sign of Parker. She had been on her own during the last leg of the con, though, with her responsibility being focused on cleaning up their presence in the ex-president's office. When the other four reached the bar and Nate's apartment, Eliot expected to see the blonde thief perched on the coffee table ready and waiting for their routine. He wasn't expecting the stone that sat in his stomach when she didn't materialize for the rest of the evening.

Sitting in the bar with a beer that was warm and still half full, Eliot could not get into whatever story Hardison was regaling the others with. He was able to beg off staying another hour by promising something he would surely regret later. He just wanted out of there. Before the front door closed behind him, Eliot had dialed up Parker's number.

Of course it rang through to voicemail. Eliot's voice stuck in his throat and he hung up without leaving a message. He didn't know exactly what he wanted to say. Whatever it was didn't belong on an answering machine. He was worried about her, sure. That didn't need to be memorialized forever.

He could have turned around and rejoined the others. Or he could have recruited Hardison to do something with cell phone towers and techno jargon to figure out exactly where Parker was. They all would do that for Parker at this point. Their little crew wouldn't leave one another out to dry.

It was just a feeling, though, and nothing concrete where Eliot wanted to involve the others. How could he explain anyways? Parker didn't show up to our not-a-date nap session and that might mean something bad. Or maybe she had something better to do. Or maybe she decided the same inexplicable, unannounced way this all started that she didn't want to anymore.

No, explaining would be weird and after the mortifying conversation about this with Sophie, Eliot was more than prepared to deal with this on his own. He got behind the wheel of his Challenger. Pulling up Parker's address - her actual one, not the spoofed ones she tried to pull on them at first - he hemmed and hawed for another miserable handful of minutes.

She wouldn't have put this much thought into showing up unannounced at his place. Hell, Parker had very little compunction about doing exactly that. In the one-outta-ten times that Eliot crashed back at his place, Parker had let herself in to join him. Every time.

This was just paying back the favor, right?

If he leaned a little hard into the gas, that wasn't terribly different than any other time he needed to cross the city quickly. Actually getting out and going to the storage unit's door - because of course Parker didn't live in a normal apartment - took Eliot a moment. There was something unnatural about seeking out Parker in her home. But this wasn't the time to worry about that.

Eliot slammed on the door with his fist to give her the option to let him in, first. Then he tried the keypad. Surprisingly that only took a few iterations of the team's names and birthdays to figure out what would pop the lock. He filed away the fact that she had used Sophie's alleged real name as something to be revisited later. For now he still wanted to verify that Parker was actually safe and sound.

"Parker?" Eliot called out from the doorway. The interior was a spartan affair with the main section lit by a ring of ceiling lights but otherwise was dark and empty. They were going to have a conversation about unlit spaces and the availability that gave folks who would gladly use Parker's quirks against her.

There was a noise above him, soft and indistinct. Eliot let the door close behind him. He squinted as he tried to make out the shapes in the darkness. No other sounds or figures lingered around the space. There was just the one noise up in the rafters. Three guesses who would choose to spend their time up high; the first two don't count.

"It's just me, Parker," Eliot called out. "Wanted to check on you."

There was a muffled response which included some variation of the phrase "I'm fine." Eliot sighed when he recognized, yep, that was definitely Parker. Still, that didn't mean he was convinced by her claim. He wove his way through the darkness, one eye locked on the lump on the criss-crossing beams that had a slightly brighter - blonder - blob. Stopping by her table, Eliot leaned against it and crossed his arms.

"I could go up there and get you, you know," he said. It wasn't a threat, just a fact.

That got Parker to pull her face out of her arms and knees. The more that Eliot's eyes adjusted, the more he could make out. "You can go now," she snapped.

"Yep, I can. Don't feel like it, though." Sometimes the key to dealing with Parker was to throw a little Parker back at her. The grumbling noise she made wasn't quite soft enough that he would miss it. After a minute where neither one of them backed down, he saw the lump shift. Without warning she threw herself from the rafter. Eliot darted forward without thinking, a curse spilling over as he wasn't close enough and-

The rig whined as it slowed her descent enough where she wound't hit the ground at full force. It was still over ten feet, maybe fifteen, and not a drop that Eliot would have relished taking on a whim. Parker tossed her hair back into order and shimmied out of the harness. All this took a handful of seconds, and then she was shouldering past Eliot to tug open an absolutely miniature fridge.

"See, I'm alive. Perfectly fine. You can tell Nate you saw with your own eyes and go," Parker said. There was no bite to her words now, just a bone-deep tiredness. She frowned at the fridge's contents and slammed it shut without taking anything in the end. Eliot was still standing in the middle space between the light and the dark, more thoroughly sucker punched than he had been in the PA job.

He turned to face her again. She was chewing on the side of her nail bed and not making eye contact. "Nate didn't send me," Eliot said. There was an edge of confusion he couldn't keep from the words. The fact that she would assume he was here just for Nate, that bit at him in a way that he really shouldn't have let happen.

"Fine. Sophie."

Eliot huffed and crossed his arms. "Believe it or not, but I'm more than capable of being worried about my- about you on my own," Eliot corrected himself before he said something stupid. He didn't have a good way to end that comment before. This way was better.

Parker remained locked in place. She was mirroring him, her arms tight around her chest. The only part of her that was moving were her eyes. They were darting from him to the roof to the door back to Eliot in a fervent, unpredictable motion. The skin around them was puffy and the tip of her nose was red from swiping at it.

He took one small, slow step towards her. "Can you tell me why you up and vanished today?" He had theories, questions, educated guesses based on their recent client's priorities. Parker was a foster kid. Their whole job this time had been focused on restoring the one after school program that was still standing in the bad side of town. It didn't take a rocket scientist to assume Parker probably had spent a lot of time in programs just like it. Their work today wasn't a silver bullet, either. The program would stay open but it wasn't exactly flourishing. There was probably still only a 50/50 shot that the client would be able to keep the doors open for the rest of the school year.

Parker's arms rose and fell with her chest as she sucked in a deep breath. Eliot paused in his approach until her breathing returned to a more normal motion. There was a long handful of heartbeats before she finally answered him.

"I don't… I don't want to talk about it," she blurted out.

Eliot held up his palms in concession. "Fine," he agreed. "We don't need to talk about it." He did however take another small step. This time Parker shuffled on her feet. There was a wild edge to her eyes now. Whatever was bothering her was kicking the thief into fight or flight. More than likely it would go the latter way, and Eliot did not want this to be the time to test whether his retrieval talents could outwit Parker's always-have-an-escape instincts.

"I was just worried that you'd skipped town. Or worse. But clearly that's not what happened. And I'm glad. For the most part." Eliot turned aside, making the deliberate decision to break eye contact with Parker's wary gaze. He dropped onto the edge of her bed which was somehow the best place to sit in the space. The only other seat he spied was a stool tucked underneath the high table, and that was past Parker. No chance he was getting there.

She didn't startle and she even dropped her arms down to her sides. The more that Eliot uncoiled from his own tense worry about Parker, the more she mirrored him and relaxed herself. "For the most part?" she parroted back.

Eliot's lip twitched into a tight smile. She had taken the bait. "Yeah, I mean there's still one thing that I'm not happy about," he answered vaguely.

Parker tipped her head to the side. "What?"

He pointed at her while his smile broke into a rueful grin. "You owe me a nap. I got back to Nate's and wouldn't you know? I couldn't get comfortable. Was like there was something missing. I mean I thought we had a deal, and here you are running off on me?" he said.

She might have been dealing with whatever turmoil and trauma the job had uncovered, but Parker did still manage to snicker into the heel of her palm. In fact, Eliot would have put money on the lifting of the emotional floodgates as the reason why Parker ended up doubled over laughing at him. Either way, Eliot felt a hell of a lot better seeing Parker wiping at her eyes because of his stupid ribbing instead of the alternative.

"It's a miracle that I didn't rip Hardison's head off," Eliot continued. "How's a man supposed to wind down after a tough day beating down bad guys without a decent nap?"

Parker punched him in the shoulder as she dropped onto the bed next to him. "Alright, alright," she relented. She flopped back onto the mattress to stare up at the rafters above them. "You win. I concede. I shouldn't have run off."

It was Eliot's turn to mirror her. He had to shift slightly to get his legs all the way on the bed, but then he was shoulder to shoulder with her again. "There's nothing wrong with running. You just…" Eliot trailed off while he let his thoughts catch up with his tongue.

"You didn't need to run off on your own," he finally decided on saying. Parker shifted next to him and he could feel her eyes on him now. He felt far too aware of exactly where she was versus him. And of course they were on a bed now, not a cramped couch. There were too many choices now of where Eliot could or should put his limbs. Eliot kept his attention on the dark rafters and didn't move. It helped.

He had no problem opening up to his team and certainly not with Parker, but Sophie's prying from last month was suddenly knocking around in Eliot's head, too, along with the things he was trying to convey to Parker. He wanted Parker to know he was there for her and not just for the simple things like being a warm body to snooze on. But if he offered that and she opened up with her own issues, would they be able to keep doing the simple things? Sophie had been worried about Parker getting attached. Eliot didn't have a problem with that; he'd realized that sometime in the past weeks. But did Parker have a problem with that? Maybe that was why she had vanished and why she hadn't reached out when she got overwhelmed. They all started off as people who only worked alone, no exceptions.

Eliot's worries were ricocheting off one another with reckless abandon. Not all of them were necessarily related, either, but that didn't stop them from linking up and cascading into bigger concerns. He was knocked out of that avalanche of concerns when he felt Parker rest her head on his shoulder.

"Thanks, Eliot," she murmured simply.

"'Course," he replied. She wriggled as she tried to relax more comfortably against him. Eliot pulled her against his chest reflexively, like every other time. She settled into his arms without the usual fidgeting or sharp elbows. This was old hat for either of them at this point.

"Need a pillow?" Parker asked. Her voice was half-muffled by Eliot. He very nearly answered yes until he recognized the tired flutter of her eyelids. There was a crash coming for Parker, one that he very much could relate to.

He shook his head though he doubted that Parker registered it. She muttered another "thank you" into his chest. Within a handful of breaths, Eliot could tell Parker had conked out. Soon enough, that would make two of them.

A/N: Blanket statement for my oneshots - Please do not ask if I am continuing these. They are single "chapter" fics which I am considering complete. Thank you. - DragonMaster65