p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: 0.5in; text-align: center;"span style="text-decoration: underline;"strongHis Only/strong/span/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum watched as the presumably armed men escorted Parker into the building. He stared daggers at them as he exited his car, softly closing the door and following in quick pursuit. He glanced upwards, seeing the faint but standard fencing indicating the helipad on the roof. His mind expertly raced as he thought, and he headed to the stairs./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Upon reaching the stairs, he noticed three men standing guard, facing the stairs. Tilting his head, he causally walked towards them, slamming the heads of the nearest two, causing them to crumple to the ground. The third man quickly turned around, but Callum swiftly slammed his palm into his throat, silencing him, before landing a solid elbow to his temple. Callum smiled to himself as he stepped over them, heading up the stairs quickly./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Once he reached the rooftop, he saw four men facing away from him, with Parker in front of them and another man in front of her, seemingly in charge. Across the roof, Callum spied a woman and a small statue, but he didn't perceive her as a threat. Deciding to be patient and wait for a better opening, Callum watched as slowly the men walked away from Parker, and the woman circled around the roof./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You know they have men at the bottom of the stairs, right?" Parker asked the woman./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Of course," the woman replied. Callum noticed that the men were on the opposite side of the rooftop, and he felt his moment was right./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Yet as he revealed himself from hiding, the woman and Parker concluded their conversation, the woman revealing to Parker that she was wearing a harness. Parker raced towards her, unaware of Callum approaching from behind her, and soon they both disappeared off the edge of the roof, where Callum made eye contact with the woman before she disappeared./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Instinctively, Callum felt that the woman wasn't a threat to Parker, and he refocused his efforts on the five men in front of him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Bloody hell," the leader said, looking over the edge of the roof. He turned back around to address his men and stopped as he saw Callum. "Who might you be?" Callum smirked./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Today, I'm your nightmare," Callum answered, throwing a hefty punch across the nearest man's face. Swiftly and with evident practice, Callum fought the four guards, ending with them laying sprawled across the roof. Finally, he approached the leader, who nervously attempted to back away. Callum studied him, grabbing him by his tie and leaning him backwards, edging off the rooftop./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Depending on the tie," Callum said, slowly leaning the man backwards. "At its weakest, it only takes about twenty-five pounds to rip." He watched the eyes of the man widen. "Now, normally I would ask if you feel confident in your tie but seeing as how Parker was unharmed and is presumably safe, I'm feeling mildly generous." He quickly wrenched him away from the ledge, sending him flying. The man rested his hands on his knees as he took a few deep breathes./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You were here just for Parker?" the man asked. Callum raised an eyebrow./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I don't expect you to understand…" He opened the man's wallet he had lifted and pulled out his ID. "Sterling." He put the ID back in the wallet and tossed it to Sterling. He turned around, crouching down and studying the small statue on the ledge./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""One of Michelangelo's Davids…" Callum said, sighing. He stood up, turning back around. "Better lock it up tight Sterling, don't want to make it too easy for me, right?" With that, Callum left the roof, heading to his car and driving away./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"strongem-Meanwhile- /em/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Parker, who was that man on the roof, just before we jumped off?" Sophie asked, continuing to drive away. Parker frowned./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Sophie, you know who Sterling is," Parker said, chuckling. "But if you're talking about the other guards, I don't know." Sophie sighed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""No, just before we jumped off, there was a man there, he wasn't wearing a suit and tie like the grunts," Sophie explained. "He had a dark blue Henley on, black gloves, dark jeans, brown hair." She glanced at Parker, who seemed to know exactly who she was talking about. "I couldn't tell his eye color." Parker swallowed nervously./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I didn't see him," Parker said evasively. Sophie frowned, never having seen Parker react in such a way about anything./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""But you know who I'm talking about?" Sophie asked. Parker looked out the window./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""No," Parker lied./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Parker, you don't have to tell me, but please don't lie to my face like that," Sophie pleaded. Parker exhaled heavily./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I don't want to talk about him," Parker said, continuing to look out the window. Sophie could see that whoever it was had been important to her, but she didn't press the issue. Instead, she continued to drive in silence, hoping that Parker would open up on her own./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"strongem-3 Months Later-/em/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum watched as Parker exited the museum with four others, frowning. He watched as they all made their way together, following discreetly. Callum estimated that they were heading for a mostly remote area, so he continued to keep his distance. As they entered a property, Callum stopped a bit of a way back, making the short trek to close the distance. As he arrived, he noticed that only three of the five of them had entered the large house, although Callum generalized it as a mansion. Silently swearing, he turned around to see the two younger men emerge from cover./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Why you followin' us?" the one with longer hair said. Callum sighed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Eliot Spencer," Callum addressed him. "I'm not here for anything malevolent." Eliot glared at him, unsure of what to think. Callum knew Eliot from a job they had competed on a while back, though Eliot never saw him, and Callum knew that as good as he was at hand to hand combat, Eliot would win./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Then what are you here for?" Eliot asked. "And who the hell are you?" Callum slowly raised his hands./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I'm making sure Parker is safe," Callum admitted bluntly. The other man frowned./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Wait, Parker?" he asked. He and Eliot were both clearly confused. "Just Parker?" Callum studied the tall African American, unable to put a name to his face./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I don't know you," Callum noted, studying him. He noticed that his clothing was laid back, in its own unique way, while his hands appeared soft, indicating a lack of physical work. "You must be a hacker." Immediately, things began dawning on him. "Oh, I understand now. A hacker, a hitter, a thief, and two others. Presumably what, a grifter and a mastermind?" Eliot grabbed him and slammed him against a car./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You better start talking," Eliot warned. Callum frowned./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Three months ago, you all let Parker come into danger," Callum noted. "I've been making sure that mistake doesn't happen again." Eliot shoved him, releasing him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Three months ago, we all got ourselves into danger," Eliot said. "Parker was unharmed."/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Wait, hold up," the other said. "How did you know that?" They both looked at Callum for an answer./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Depending on who you ask, humans possess twenty sum senses total. I just happen to have one more," Callum answered. They both frowned./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I'll ask again," Eliot said. "Who are you?" Callum sighed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Callum Orson," he said, leaning against the car and glancing back at the mansion. He quickly saw that none of the windows contained Parker curiously peeking, leading him to understand that this confrontation was private. Eliot studied him for a while, recognizing the name./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Callum Orson?" the hacker asked, searching his name in his phone. "Wanted in… SEVENTEEN countries? Mostly theft and murder? The Shadow?" Callum flashed a quick smile./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Most of the murders on that list weren't actually me," Callum admitted. "But most of any deaths I did have a hand in weren't discovered. And I didn't pick the name…" Eliot stared at him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""How do you know Parker?" Eliot asked, frowning. Callum shrugged./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""How do you two?" Callum retorted. "She's a thief. Thieves cross paths with people."/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""But you're going out of your way to make sure she's safe," Eliot said. "That means somethin'." Callum sighed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""That's our business," Callum said. He looked at both of them. "And this little confrontation is ours and ours alone… Right?"/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You mean don't tell Parker? What? Of course we're going to—" the hacker started to say before Eliot elbowed him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Between the three of us," Eliot agreed. "If you tell us how you know her." Callum nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""We used to work together," Callum said, no longer leaning against the car. He saw their somewhat skeptical looks and continued. "She really doesn't like horses…" Eliot and the hacker glanced at each other again./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You don't want to say hi?" the hacker asked after a silence./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Hardison," Eliot warned. Callum smirked. "He wouldn't be trailin' behind us if he wanted her to see him." The hacker called Hardison nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Oh, right, my bad," he said, looking at the ground. Eliot extended his hand./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Sorry 'bout the mix-up," Eliot said. "Can't be too careful." Callum shook his hand and nodded. "I appreciate what you did in Bagdad, I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you." Callum shook his head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You had done the same relative thing for me in Serbia," Callum admitted. "Although I suppose it was a little different." Eliot smiled lightly./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Bagdad, Manchester, Mexico City, and Buenos Aires," Eliot responded. Callum shook his head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Actually, Manchester wasn't me," Callum told him. Eliot frowned./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You telling me that wasn't you?" Eliot asked, frowning. Callum shook his head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""That was actually the Telenev Cartel," Callum answered honestly. "I was offered the job, but I decided to give them some tools instead. Tools make pretty good money too."/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Y'all are just best buds now aren't you?" Hardison asked. Eliot and Callum ignored him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Are the five of you looking to steal the Davids?" Callum asked. Hardison and Eliot glanced at each other./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I mean, that might be on our bucket lists," Hardison answered. Callum nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I guess I'll find something else to steal then," Callum said, nodding. "Good luck." With that, the mysterious Callum walked back to his car, knowing full well that they would keep their interaction private./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"strongem-Break-/em/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"As night fell, Callum watched as the graveyard shift began, debating in his mind whether he would steal the Davids for Parker and her group. He knew all too well that for Parker it was about the thrill of the theft, not the rewards, but apart of him was unsure of how to feel. He couldn't help but feel jealous that she had a new group to work with, but he did his best to ignore it./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Still unsure, Callum began to run his mind through the possibilities. Parker and he had always preferred the solace of the night, where guards were more likely to be unaware and there were less people around. He knew that the Davids case would be untouchable, except for the base. From there, he knew that the cameras would all be trained on the Davids, making his theft clearly visible to the guards. He figured that any tampering with the glass would set off a lockdown, which he would have no intention of activating. He contemplated the idea of taking out the guards before disabling the security systems, but he knew from experience that was a last resort. Finally, he sighed before heading to his hotel room, crashing on the floor behind the door./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"strongem-Meanwhile-/em/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Any of y'all ever have any partners? Like work partners?" Hardison asked the group, suddenly. Eliot shot him a look, but quickly shook his head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Nope," Eliot answered./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""My ex-wife and I used to work together, but not literally, no," Nate replied./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Not partners, per se, but I worked with the occasional companion," Sophie answered. She began to go on a tangent while Hardison and Eliot looked at Parker, who seemed zoned out./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""What about you, Parker?" Eliot asked, interrupting Sophie. As the silence continued, Parker became increasingly aware of the numerous eyes staring at her, expecting a response./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""A thief's work is better done alone," Parker said, almost as if she was rehearsing the line. Hardison and Eliot glanced at each other again, but they all seemed to take it as an answer./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;" /p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Over the next few weeks, Callum visited the mansion that Parker stayed at frequently, in between scouting the museum. He would identify that Parker was in the house, having placed his own unique bugs along the exterior, the bugs uniquely collecting and translating the vibrations that voices caused similar to how ears function. He was extremely proud of his design, although he rarely used them in an effort to keep them his own. He heard the plans of her team, even learning all of their names./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Yet as Callum listened, he began to understand their dynamics more. He realized that they were a close-knit family, all with their own personal skeletons and secrets that they kept to themselves. Parker's level of openness with the others continued to create a pang of jealousy erupt in Callum, but he continued to attempt to stave it off./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Several times, Callum found himself standing at the entrance to the museum, doing his best to refrain from simply entering and stealing the Davids himself, appearing at Parker's doorsteps with the Davids in hand and giving them to her. But even as he thought it, a course of guilt ran over him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"'Parker left for a reason,' Callum would remind himself. 'She never came back for her own reasons. It's not in my place to go to her, no matter how much I want to.'/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"And so, Callum would leave the museum, heading to his hotel room or Parker's mansion, occasionally even stopping by a pawn shop or electronic store for his own hobbies./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Finally, the day of the theft arrived, and Callum decided to use his specially altered frequency scanner to listen in, his persistent fear of something happening to Parker getting the better of him. He put the Bluetooth in his ear as he found their comm frequency. Now, rather than piggybacking, which he knew after extensive research that Hardison the hacker would immediately become aware of, he instead joined the frequency, muting his Bluetooth device./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum had clearly heard their plans for the museum, and he was surprised to hear that the two Davids were not the intended targets. With this in mind, Callum grabbed his altered 'camera' and entered the museum. He saw Parker at the desk, and quickly removed himself from her line of sight before entering the main gallery. He knew that the display had its back against a pillar, which he found confusing. Moving carefully and subtly, he stood from the side of the display, gently holding down the camera button as he outlined a large square on the back of the display. Then, he waited./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Patient as always, Callum mixed among the crowd until he finally saw the deep cloud of smoke fill the case. As the panic ensued, Callum quickly pushed the corroded wood into the display, gently and carefully reaching in and applying the same chemical to the upper lining of the display before leaving and waiting just outside the door./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"After everyone had left the gallery, Callum swiftly doubled back and arrived just in time as the casing collapsed into the display, allowing for Callum to grab them with ease. He smiled to himself as he calmly and swiftly left the museum, passing by Sterling completely unnoticed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"As Callum began to drive away, he heard Parker's team through their comms./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Guys, where are the Davids?" Nate asked. There was silence as no one was able to answer. "Come on guys, the Davids weren't apart of the plan…"/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I didn't take them," Parker said. "Don't get me wrong, I wanted to, like, really badly, but I didn't."/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Don't look at me," Eliot said./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""What am I gonna do with two little naked dudes?" Hardison asked./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""As much as I would like to take them, I didn't," Sophie defended herself. Nate sighed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Let's just get to work," he said, unaware of what had happened. "Parker, Sophie, I'm going to need the fakes you were going to swap with the real Davids."/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum arrived at their mansion, carefully placing the Davids in a gift box with a unique note only Parker would recognize before leaving it at their front door. He quickly left the mansion, heading back to his hotel room, removing himself from their comms and falling asleep behind the door./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Over the next several months, Callum carefully kept tabs on each of the members of Parker's team, although he personally tracked Parker's movements. After she stole the Hope Diamond, Callum was confused as she put it back a few days later. After she had left the country, Callum felt compelled to steal it back for her, but again, he tore himself away from the idea, instead following her./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum was extremely surprised to see that Sophie invited the four others to one of her shows and was then equally surprised to find them all there. Keeping his distance, he watched the show, though he found Sophie's on stage acting quite horrendous. Once the show was over, Callum carefully maneuvered to find himself outside a bar where the five of them were chatting. Thinking critically, he fought yet another urge to speak to Parker, as well as another twinge of jealousy./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"After being patient, Callum saw a man that all of his instincts screamed against enter the bar. Callum sighed as he got out of his car, bored. He knew that a bar was no good place for a hit, but he also had a vague recollection that Nate lived in the condo above. Callum trusted is instincts as he climbed through the second floor window, finding himself inside Nate's condo. He admired the cleanliness as he hid behind the door, checking his phone for the time occasionally./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Sure enough, it wasn't long before Nate entered the room, and Callum watched as the door didn't close all the way. He focused as the door opened, and the same man he had seen entered behind Nate, holding a knife./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Moving swiftly, Callum grabbed the man's wrist, twisting it hard as he slammed his elbow into the man, sending him doubling over before he kneed the man in the face. The man quickly turned and ran, and Callum heard a yep from Sophie as the man rushed past her. Callum made a move to chase him but decided against it as he knew Parker was down there, where she would be sure to see him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Are you here to rob me or just protect me?" Nate asked him. Callum sighed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You took care of Parker, I'll take care of you," Callum answered. He turned around, extending his hand. "Callum Orson." Nate sighed, recognizing the name before shaking his hand as Sophie entered./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Nate? Who was that?" Sophie asked, entering. "Who is this?" There was a moment of silence./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Callum Orson," Nate said, not taking his eyes off Callum. "Thief. Information specialist. Engineer." Callum shrugged./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Ok, is he here to kill you?" Sophie asked./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""No, the other guy was," Nate said, finally looking at Sophie. "Callum here saved my life." Callum shook his head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I did a favor for a friend," Callum corrected. Nate studied him and there was another moment of silence./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You mentioned Parker?" Nate asked. Callum opened his mouth to speak, but someone else spoke first./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""What about me?" Parker asked, entering the room. Callum's heart raced as Parker laid eyes on him for the first time in years, the shock settling on her face. Callum's face twisted in shame as he looked away, unable to meet her eyes./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Callum?" Parker asked, as Hardison and Eliot appeared behind her, glancing at each other. Everyone looked as Callum's face was filled with shame and pain that only he knew was because he had reentered Parker's life uninvited./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I'm sorry," Callum said softly, looking at the floor. "I'll go now, just forget you ever saw me." He began to walk towards the window he had opened, but Eliot spoke./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Wait," Eliot said, earning looks from his friends. "At least tell us why you broke into Nate's condo." Callum sighed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I saw a man enter the bar. Been doing this long enough to know why he was here, and I knew Nate lived upstairs, so I entered through the window to make sure the man didn't succeed," Callum answered./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Why were you…" Hardison started to ask./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Were you following me?" Parker asked. Callum sighed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I have…" Callum admitted. "Ever since you were caught by Sterling."/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""That's why you looked familiar," Sophie said. "You were on the roof just as Parker and I jumped off." Callum nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I just wanted to make sure you were safe," Callum said, glancing at Parker, swallowing heavily. Parker sighed. "But I'm sorry. I'll go now." He began to head for the window again, but Parker spoke./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Wait… No, you don't have to leave," Parker said. Eliot silently gestured everyone to head back downstairs, and they did so, leaving Parker and Callum alone. Parker swiftly closed the distance between them, standing very close to Callum, but nervously rubbing her arm./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You stole the Davids," Parker figured. Callum nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""As a gift," Callum said. Parker swallowed. "I was going to steal the Hope Diamond too… but…" Parker chuckled./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I enjoyed the Davids," Parker said. "I thought the message was just a manufacturing accident…" Callum smiled weakly./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I'm sorry. I should have left you alone," Callum admitted. "I know you don't want to see me…" Parker looked at the ground, playing with her hands./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""It's not that I didn't want to see you…" Parker said. Callum glanced at her./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You don't owe me an explanation," Callum told her. He pulled something from his pocket. "But I owe you this." He handed her the small bag, which he laid in her hand./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""My half of the Felix Puzzle," she said, smiling. Callum nodded. Suddenly, Parker threw her arms around Callum, hugging him tight./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I never went anywhere without it, in case you came back for your half," Callum said, smiling softly. Parker slowly let go off him, looking down. There was a moment of silence while Callum looked at her with a caring gaze./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Here," Callum said, handing her a second bag. "I was going to give you my half too if you came back for your half." Parker shook her head. "It's worth more with both halves." Parker refused to take the bag./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You should keep your half," Parker said, still looking down. "It's yours. Um…" she shook her head. Callum studied her, his mind expertly running through what Parker meant. Finally, he smiled softly as he put his bag in his pocket./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Sure, she had refused his half, which Callum felt mixed feelings about, but Parker hadn't offered hers after he noted they were worth more together, indicating that she wanted, on some level, something to keep them attached./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I…" Callum felt nervous as he spoke. "Can I ask you what I did to make you leave?" His voice quavered for the slightest moment, and he saw Parker swallow, shut her eyes, and shake her head. Callum understood, and he hugged her briefly, conveying that he understood and did not need an answer./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Even after all this time, Parker remembered their non-verbals, opening her eyes and relaxing in his arms. Yet just as she did, he broke the hug, smiling lightly as he stared into her eyes./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Mob," Callum said suddenly. Parker frowned for a moment but recalled Callum's process./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Are you sure?" she asked him. Callum thought for a moment before nodding./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Clothing plus method," Callum answered, thinking. Parker nodded. Callum sighed, thinking a million things./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I know…" Callum started to say. "I know you can take care of yourself… But I…" Parker gently placed her hand on his arm. Callum stopped and nodded slightly./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I don't mind," Parker told him. Callum smiled./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Now that we've lifted each other's phones, I'm only a phone call away," Callum said, holding up her phone. Parker beamed before lifting up his and shaking it./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Are you staying?" Parker asked. Callum's smile flickered away./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Do you want me to?" Callum asked. Parker looked at his genuine eyes, feeling another spark of nostalgia and something else, something she had long since buried./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""The mob has deep pockets," Parker started. Callum smiled slightly./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Might take two sets of hands to steal it all," Callum finished. Parker smiled and nodded. Callum nodded and went to the door./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Only a phone call away," Callum said, gesturing to her phone again. Parker nodded and held up his./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Don't wander too far," Parker said, recalling that was what he had said to her many times while they were partners. Callum smiled at her role reversal and nodded before heading out the door, down past her friends, and out the bar door, the faint smile on his face matching his energized eyes. He reached his hotel room not long after, holding her phone close as he laid behind the door, resting his eyes, unable to sleep./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"strongem-Meanwhile-/em/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"While Callum rested, Parker went downstairs to rejoin her friends. Once she had, she saw the expectant faces greeting her. Her face had a small smile, but it quickly disappeared as she saw the expectant faces./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""So, you had a partner," Hardison said, nodding. "That's pretty cool." Parker nodded sharply, and Sophie responded by doing her best to replace the attention. Instead they discussed who would want Nate dead and why. Parker was unusually quiet, which Sophie noticed and discreetly dragged her away. But before Sophie could say anything, Parker quickly spoke./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Callum said that the attacker was a mob guy," Parker announced quickly. Sophie frowned, taking it in before recovering./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Noted," Sophie told her, studying her. "Do you want to talk about him?" Parker crossed her arms and shook her head. Sophie nodded. "Okay, that's all I wanted to ask." She began to walk away, but Parker sighed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Wait," Parker said suddenly, looking away. Sophie turned around, patiently waiting for Parker to continue. Sophie saw Parker's tapping foot, realizing that Parker was struggling to speak./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Is it about Callum?" Sophie asked, trying to help. Parker nodded, meeting her eyes. "Alright, is it about the past or present?" Parker thought for a moment./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Present," Parker said sharply. Sophie nodded, thinking of how to narrow it down./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Were you happy to see him? Or did you never want to see him again?" Sophie asked. Parker looked away again./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""First one," she answered. Sophie sighed and nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Okay, um…" Sophie said, thinking./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I want to work with Callum again," Parker said finally, hoping that Sophie would understand the holes she was leaving./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Oh! Um," Sophie said, surprised. "Well, we're not a team anymore, Parker, you can work with who you want." Parker shook her head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I think Callum…" Parker started to say, nervous./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You think he doesn't want to work with you?" Sophie guessed. Parker shook her head. There was a moment of silence./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""IthinkCallumwouldbereallyhelpfultoourteam," Parker said extremely quickly. Sophie took a moment to process what she said./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Oh, well," Sophie sighed. "If we can get the team back together, I can talk to Nate about it… But I can't promise anything." Parker nodded, her foot no longer tapping, and she appeared somewhat relieved./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Is there anything else?" Sophie asked her. Parker shook her head. Sophie saw that Parker still had something hidden, but she thought it best to leave it alone./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"As the night went on, Parker found herself going through Callum's phone, seeing a vague list of phone numbers he had called, no texts, one the single mobile phone game that Parker remembered he had enjoyed. Her face betrayed her, allowing a smile, as she typed in her phone number and proceeded to text Callum./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"P: We should steal the Hope Diamond together one day/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum smiled as he felt the phone buzz, turning it on to see Parker's forward message./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"C: Or we could race. Like in Florence./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Parker's face beamed as she read his reply, grateful that everyone else had fallen asleep in Nate's condo./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"P: You let me win in Florence./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum absentmindedly shook his head as he read it, still smiling./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"C: I was trying to slow you down. But it happened to help you span style="font-family: 'Segoe UI Emoji',sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family: Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family: Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-char-type: symbol-ext; mso-symbol-font-family: 'Segoe UI Emoji';"😊/span/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Parker felt her face grow red, remembering Florence./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"P: You should have won. Your rig was better than mine./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum's smile grew brighter./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"C: I think you have it backwards. Your rig was better than mine. And faster./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"P: You switched our rigs. You're lucky you didn't break your neck./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum smiled, remembering that he had switched their rigs, forgetting until it was too late that Parker's rig wasn't designed to handle his weight./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"C: I probably would have if you hadn't attached me./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Parker beamed with pride, remembering her fast and fluid movements that had attached Callum to his original rig, which withstood both of their weight./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"P: That taught you not to switch rigs for fun./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum laughed aloud in his hotel room./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"C: And that taught you that maybe you needed a higher weight threshold for your rigs./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"P: Do you remember London?/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"C: Which time?/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"P: The second time, with the Devarti./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"C: I remember, are you talking about the guard?/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"P: Yeah, where you attached him to your rig and just went with it/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum laughed as he remembered the sight of the guard, panicked and thrashing, while Callum flew down the rig./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"C: He didn't have to choose to follow me./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Over the next few minutes, Callum felt a nervous panic as the seconds ticked by with no response, while Parker felt a rush of emotions./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"P: Why were you following me?/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Parker felt a twinge of guilt as she sent the message, unsure of what she was thinking. Callum read the message and sighed, understanding what she was actually asking./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"C: I don't blame you for leaving. I'm not angry about it. I just wanted to make sure you were okay, and unless you tell me to leave or leave you alone, I won't hesitate to do just that./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Parker stared at the phone, another wave of mixed emotions rushing over her. Callum waited patiently, not expecting a quick response./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"P: It's late. I need to sleep./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum sighed as he read the message, but he understood. Emotions had never been Parker's strong suit, not even with him. He knew she was avoiding the impending question that he refused to ask, and she knew that Callum, despite his persistent quest for an answer, would patiently wait for as long as he needed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Even on the cold, rainy night that she disappeared, Callum had waited. He had patiently stood, arms crossed as the chilling rain trailed down his back. Hour after hour, Callum had waited, until finally he left to check to see if she had been caught, discovered, anything, despite knowing deep in his heart that she was perfectly safe./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"C: I understand, that's okay. Goodnight, Parker./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"P: Goodnight, Callum./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"And with that, both criminals put down their phones and laid there, looking at the ceiling, their minds unable to sleep, attempting to sift through the constant fluctuation of emotions. As Callum finally began to fall asleep, a loud bang of a car door caused him to jump, waking up and looking around. Callum carefully glanced through the window, seeing a harmless couple exit their car, smiling and laughing as they entered their room across the parking lot./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Shaking his head, Callum went to the sink and grabbed a glass, filling it with water. He stared at himself in the mirror, wondering to himself if he was close to the answers he felt as though he needed, or if he was running in the wrong direction./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum sighed as the door to his hotel room burst open, and he looked back to see three armed men holding guns standing in the doorway. Slowly, he turned around./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Shouldn't have done that," Callum told them. The men frowned, oblivious to the small device attached to the edge of the door that was currently emitting a thick cloud of something. Callum dashed into the bathroom as the bullets began flying, throwing on one of the hidden gas masks that he had kept stashed away in various places./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Once the bullets stopped flying, Callum emerged from the bathroom, seeing the three men unconscious on the floor, the cloud dissipating. Waving his hand through some of the thicker areas, he took off his mask, glancing to see a confused and panicked man standing at his door./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""The gas is harmless," Callum told the man briefly, partially unsure if the man was panicked about the gas or the gunfire. "And I don't have a gun." The man outside swallowed before quickly running off, and Callum quickly grabbed his bag and device and put it in his car, deciding to leave the men to the police that were sure to arrive./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum drove aimlessly, unsure of where to go. He knew that his earlier intervention must have caused their chain of events, nevertheless, Callum decided to go to the once place he knew was safe./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"As Callum arrived at the bar he had recently been to, he reached under one of the seats and withdrew a device of his own invention, which would carefully pierce glass to cut out a desired shape. Shaking his head, he stowed the device back under his seat, heading upstairs to where Parker and her friends were staying./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum stood at the door, unable to bring himself to knock. He paced back and forth, debating with himself whether he should, finally deciding to curl up in the corner and sleep./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"strongemIn the Morning/em/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum's eyes shot open as he heard the familiar clink of silverware on glassware, seeing the door to the condo open and Hardison step through the door, glancing down the hallway, evidently confused. Callum quickly hid behind the conveniently placed bush, unsure of what to do./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Oh, Callum, you didn't have to watch out here for anything," Hardison said, offering his hand to help him up. "Anyone coming through the door would've woken us all up." Callum took his hand, standing up. Callum frowned, his mind racing./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Well, now that you guys are awake, I'll be on my way," Callum said, his decision to stay there the previous night becoming more and more questionable. He stopped for a moment, looking at Hardison./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Why are you dressed like a reverend?" Callum asked curiously. Hardison smiled./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I'm going to rob a safety deposit box," Hardison said, nodding. Callum frowned./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I can't think of any bank around here that can't be broken into," Callum noted. Hardison's smile disappeared./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Why you gotta ruin this for me?" Hardison asked, gesturing to his outfit. "Who's going to deny a missionary a safety deposit box?" Callum blinked a few times, still confused./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Why would a missionary need one?" Callum questioned, still confused. Hardison shook his head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Look man, we're stealing some papers, nothing crazy," Hardison said, shaking his head. Callum thought for a moment./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""My day's clear. I'll meet you at the bank," Callum decided, beginning to leave./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Hold up, I didn't even tell you which bank," Hardison called. Callum glance back, smirking./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You don't have to," Callum said, his mind already finding the bank they were thinking of./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Moving rapidly and carefully, Callum went to a department store and obtained the necessary clothes. Then, he quickly created the documents he needed, using a library printer to accomplish what he needed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"As Callum headed to the bank, he took a deep breath and ran through his act. Words and people also weren't his strong suit, but he could pass when he needed, and suddenly he realized something. He realized that Hardison had been friendly towards him, without reason or explanation. Callum struggled to find a reason, and it wasn't long before he arrived at the bank./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Entering swiftly and confidently, his chest slightly puffed out, Callum smiled as he approached the front desk./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Hello, Mark Slorick for Mr. Mathews?" he said, smiling. The lady frowned but gestured him to the office./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Go on ahead," she said, resuming her duties. Callum thanked her, nodding, and went to the office, entering swiftly and smiling./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Hello, Mr. Mathews, I'm Mark Slorick," he lied, extending his hand. "My office informed me you needed a quick appraisement of the building?" Mr. Mathews stood, shaking his head, frowning./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Um, I don't remember requesting an appraisement," Mr. Mathews said, sitting down. Callum waved his hand./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""That's alright, that happens frequently," Callum said, sitting down. "You probably requested this a month or two ago, and we got all of the necessary paperwork filed." He reached over, handing the file to Mr. Mathews. "Please read through this, sign the bottom, I'll go around the offices, making sure everything is tiptop, a few pictures, then I'll return, and we can head down to the vault area." Before Mr. Mathews could protest, he got up and left, miming his duties as he quickly walked around, before returning to the office./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Well, Mr. Slorick, here's the paperwork," Mr. Mathews said, handing the folder back./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Excellent," Callum said, smiling and nodding. "Now the vault area?" Mr. Mathews nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I do have some other stuff to take care of, so I'll let you in before I return to my office. The safety deposit boxes need two keys to open anyway, so it'll be fine," Mr. Mathews said. Callum nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Great," Callum said, letting him lead the way. As he did, he carefully grabbed the keychain of keys from his waist, shoving them in his pocket and pressing the master key he needed against some putty he had in his pocket before discreetly pretending to trip, reattaching the key chain./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Are you alright?" Mr. Mathews asked. Callum nodded, and he let him into the vault area./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Thank you, I'll be out of your hair soon enough," Callum said as he left. Quickly, Callum pulled out his putty and placed each side of the imprint against a small, square device he had in his pocket. There were a few small beeps before the device spit out a small plastic key./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum patiently waited a few rows down before he heard Peggy enter, mentioning something about a missionary. Callum heard Hardison's voice, with an accent, flow through the large room, until finally Peggy left./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""And here's your key," Callum said, appearing in front of Hardison with a plastic key. Hardison and Parker both jumped before Callum noticed Parker was there. "Oh."/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Dang, man, how'd you find which bank?" Hardison asked, confused. Callum blinked. Wordlessly, Parker produced her own plastic key and smiled. Callum smiled back at her./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""This bank has the most mob ties," Callum told him. "Why go to a separate bank?" Hardison shrugged and nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Makes sense," Hardison said./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Although I wouldn't have needed to be here if I knew Parker was coming," Callum said. Parker smiled again, opening the box they were looking for./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You think I wouldn't have had a plan?" Hardison asked, surprised. Callum frowned and shook his head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Your plan would have been different from mine," Callum told him. "Mine usually is similar to Parkers. Case in point," he held up his key. He handed Hardison the key. He started to leave when Parker spoke./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Want to help us clear out the boxes with money?" Parker asked eagerly. Callum smiled, eager to do anything with Parker again./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I have nothing better to do," Callum noted, smiling before he began helping./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Wordlessly and fluidly, Callum worked alongside Parker, opening box after box, while Hardison took the money out. Both thieves stole glances of one another, enjoying their synchronization. Before long, most of the boxes had been emptied, and Callum stopped suddenly, aware of the door opening. Parker quickly closed the box they were on, while Callum grabbed Hardison as they hid behind one of the shelves. Callum peeked slowly around the corner, seeing the three men who had attacked him yesterday standing there, walking towards their box./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Why we gotta move the papers?" one of them asked. "No one knows they're here."/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Shut up," another said. "Someone knew we were gonna hit that one insurance guy, and that other guy was expecting us, who knows what else they might know." Callum sighed silently as his mind raced./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Um, Nate? We got a problem," Hardison whispered. Callum glanced at Parker, who nodded to him, understanding what he was thinking./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""No problem," Callum whispered to Hardison. He moved from the shelving out into the open, quickly standing in front of the entrance before moving towards them and speaking./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""It takes about 900 pounds of force to break your femur," Callum said quickly, causing the men to face him. "Imagine what I could do with a fraction of that." Quickly and ruthlessly, Callum slammed his fist into one of the men's stomachs, quickly slamming his fist into the base of the man's skull. Next, he caught the fist of the second man, twisting hard, grabbing his neck, and throwing the man into his knee. Finally, Callum grabbed the gun from the last man, swiftly switching the safety on and tossing it before grabbing the man's arm, throwing it across his chest, turning him around, and putting him in a choke hold. Callum silently counted to ten, before releasing the man, checking his pulse. Sighing, Callum got back up, looking back at Hardison and Parker./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""We're good," Hardison said, staring in awe at the sight. Parker grinned from behind him, evident pride in Callum. Callum smiled back at her./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Did you know they'd be here?" Parker asked. Callum shook his head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I'm just as surprised as you," Callum admitted. Hardison shook his head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Man, are you a thief or a hitter?" Hardison asked. "Cause now I'm concerned for other guys' wellbeing." Callum smirked lightly, while Parker beamed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I do what I have to," Callum told him honestly, the words echoing in his soul, while only Parker knew how true those words were./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""We'll be fine," Parker said. "We're on our way back."/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Do you want them to disappear?" Callum asked Parker, gesturing to the three men on the floor behind him. Hardison shot him an alarmed look, but he didn't see as he was looking at Parker. Parker smiled softly, remembering how careful he was since he first surprised her./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""No," Parker said, and Hardison looked at her, frowning. "They're better off alive." Callum nodded in understanding, opening the door for them./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""That's fascinating," Callum said as they reentered the main area of the bank. "I never knew so much about how complicated missionary work was. Or dangerous!"/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Oh yes, it's very dangerous," Parker replied, keeping character./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""We must be extremely careful about every little law some countries have," Hardison added. Callum feigned being impressed as he walked out with them, ignoring the somewhat curious looks that the workers gave them. Once they were clear, Hardison turned to him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Thanks for the help," Hardison said, extending his fist. Callum smiled and fist bumped him, while Parker studied him, searching his face for her own personal sign. Her faint smile didn't go unnoticed by either of them, Callum nodding softly before he walked to his car./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"strongem-Meanwhile-/em/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Why was he there?" Sophie asked Nate, who shrugged./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""He's clearly very protective of Parker," Nate noted, thinking. "After an extended period of time away from her, he's… trying to reconnect." Eliot glanced at him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""He didn't know Parker was going," Eliot said. "He went there for Hardison." Nate did a half-nod, shrugging./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Yeah, well, maybe he knew something we didn't about the mob guys," Nate suggested. "Or maybe he just is trying to…"/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You think he's trying to join our team?" Sophie asked, frowning. Nate frowned./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""What? We're not a team anymore," Nate said, still in denial. "This is a one time thing." He turned around, thinking. "No, he's… he's trying to show Parker that people who mean something to her are people he wants to look out for." Nate stopped for a moment. "Maybe he's just trying to convince Parker to join up with him again?" Eliot frowned./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""No, that doesn't sound right," Eliot said, shaking his head. "Back with the Davids, Hardison and I talked to him. He couldn't even bring himself to greet her, let alone tear her away from this." Nate shrugged./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Well, that was a while ago, and now that we're no longer a team, and Parker's seen him, maybe he's gradually trying to bring her back," Nate suggested. Sophie frowned./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I was more under the impression that Parker held his reins," Sophie said. Nate and Eliot stared at her. "What?"/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""That's… That's not a saying," Eliot said, frowning. Sophie rolled her eyes and shrugged./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Either way, I got the impression that Callum would bend over backwards for Parker," Sophie said. Nate frowned./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Alright, alright, let's get back to the matter at hand," Nate said, waving his hand./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"strongem-Later-/em/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum sighed as he wiped his forehead, setting down the device he was working on. He sat on a stool in his storage unit, a faint light and fan in the corner. He pressed a button on the device, the device made a whirring sound before suddenly puckering out. Callum sighed again, nodding expectantly, before he picked it back up and began to work on it again. Just as he did, Parker's phone rang./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"He quickly set down the device again and answered the phone, standing up./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Hello," he said over the phone. "Parker's phone." He heard Parker snicker./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Phones can't answer themselves," Parker said, laughing to herself, earning a smile from Callum./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Hello, Parker," Callum said, making his way to the cot he had set up in one of the corners. "To what do I owe the pleasure?" Parker snickered again./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I just thought I call, let you know that we got rid of the mob stuff," Parker said, almost nonchalant. "Basic, everyday work." Callum chuckled./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Getting rid of mobsters is basic and every day for you?" Callum asked jokingly. "Almost sounds like you're the police." He heard Parker gasp as suddenly the call was dropped. Callum stood there, thinking to himself, unsure of Parker's reaction. He knew it could have been what he said, but it also could just as easily have been an outside source./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Yet as Callum pondered Parker's response, he thought it would be better to wait for her to call back, feeling that she was safe, Parker, eyes wide, whispered to Sophie./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Sophie!" Parker whispered urgently, violently gesturing with her head to the side. Sophie frowned, but went over to her./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""What's wrong?" Sophie asked. Parker stared at her, panicked./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I almost told Callum that we're the good guys," Parker said quickly, her eyes searching Sophie for a reaction. Sophie frowned, her mind racing./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""And do you think that would be a bad thing?" Sophie asked, thinking about what she had told Nate and Eliot earlier. Parker frowned./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Well, he's still a thief thief," Parker noted. Sophie sighed and sat next to Parker./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""If he's going to stick around you, he'll probably find out eventually," Sophie noted. "Wouldn't it be better to hear it from you than suddenly find out?" Parker thought for a while, not responding. "You mentioned that you wanted him to join the team. Shouldn't you make sure he wants to first?" Parker sighed, thinking./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""He will want to," Parker knew, "So, I should just tell him?" Sophie nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""If he's going to find out eventually, there's no reason to keep it from him now," Sophie told her. Parker nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Okay, thanks," Parker said, getting up and going somewhere more private, where she dialed the phone./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum eagerly picked up the phone as Parker called, holding it to his ear./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You wanna get a beer?"/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"strongem-Break-/em/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum walked into the bar, seeing Parker sitting on a stool, smiling as she saw him. He smiled back as he settled down next to her, and she handed him a beer./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Everything okay?" Callum asked, subtly conveying a question about the sudden hang up. Parker winced./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Yeah," Parker said, trying to play it cool. "Just, um, work stuff." Callum smiled softly, understanding./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I take it that's what you want to talk about?" Callum asked, taking a drink. Parker nodded, looking away./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Do you remember Egypt?" Parker asked. Callum chuckled to himself./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I'll never forget Egypt," Callum said. Parker suppressed a smile./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Well…" Parker started to say, tilting her head. "That's kinda like what I do all the time, except for the weird people." Callum read through the lines, understanding. Callum thought for a while about it before nodding./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Alright," Callum said, taking a drink and looking at her. She frowned, staring at him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You're not panicked? Or against it? Nothing?" Parker asked, her own surprise coming as a shock to her. Callum shrugged and shook his head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Parker steals what she wants, from who she wants, and why she wants," Callum told her, smiling as he met her eyes. "You're still Parker." Parker blushed slightly, suppressing a small smile./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I know you wanted to work with me again," Parker said, taking a drink. "That's why you came back." Callum took his own drink./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Partially," Callum admitted. "But mostly I just wanted to make sure you were safe." He looked at her again. "You have a family here. I understand that." Parker took a long drink, unable to meet his eyes./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""What if… What if you wanted to help the weird people?" Parker asked vaguely. Callum sighed, nodding./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I would do anything for you, Parker," Callum said, taking a drink. Parker glanced at him. There was a minute of silence, while Callum answered the question to himself. "Helping the weird people is something I should have started doing long ago…" A smile grew over Parker's face./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You should know now, the weird people are really helpless," Parker told him. Callum nodded in understanding./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""When aren't they?" Callum answered. Parker chuckled and took a drink./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I will still have to talk to Nate," Parker said, experiencing a rush of emotions. "But I know Sophie's on my side. And you know Eliot right?" Callum took a drink./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""We've been on the same or similar side before," Callum told her. Parker nodded eagerly./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""And I think Hardison likes you, but I also think that he feels threatened," Parker noted. Callum frowned, but shrugged it off./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You don't have to do this," Callum reminded her. He met her eyes, his face serious. "As much as I would like to work with you again, you don't owe me anything." Parker understood what he was saying, and she nodded. For a while, she didn't speak, but finally she placed her hand on his wrist, pulling back the sleeve and gently tracing one of the now visible scars./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum stared at her somber face as she did, understanding what she was conveying as if she had spelled it out for him. She wanted to work with him. She had no hesitation. She trusted him. Smiling softly, Callum gently touched her wrist, causing her to meet his gaze. He nodded slightly, which Parker nodded back before removing her hand and taking a drink./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Are there any rules?" Callum asked her. Parker frowned, thinking./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Don't touch Hardison's orange soda," Parker noted. "Don't touch Eliot's stuff. Don't bother Sophie while she's in the bathroom." Callum smirked and nodded as he heard them, smiling to himself. He took a quick drink./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""And what are Parker's rules?" Callum asked, looking at her. Parker cracked a small smile./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I don't have any rules," Parker said. Callum looked her over, studying her before nodding slightly./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""If you say so," Callum said. Parker's smile grew a little, and they each took a drink./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""What are your rules?" Parker asked. Callum smiled./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""We'll have to find out," Callum said. Parker smiled./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"strongem-Break-/em/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""What? No, absolutely not," Nate said, shaking his head. Parker frowned, glaring at him, while Sophie stood up./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Why not?" Sophie asked. "He's capable, he's trustworthy, he has skills that create some overlap if we need it. What if we need Eliot to hack a computer, there's no time to switch him out? Or Hardison needs backup? Or Parker needs more than two hands?" Sophie gestured at each of them, who shrugged. Nate sighed and shook his head again./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""This guy, Callum, he's a phantom," Nate said. "He—He- He disappears, he- there's not much known about him. Hell, with all the technology in the world, there's only been a handful of pictures, and they're all spotty. He's an unknown. Hell, he's so invisible, half the crimes attributed to him are only because there was no trace of anything." Eliot looked at him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Look, Nate, I understand you being hesitant. Even I am a little," Eliot said. "But I've worked with him before, usually unknowingly, and he looks out for the people on his side." He rolled up his pant leg. "This scar is only a scar because of him. I looked into it after, he went out of his way to stop the sniper from taking me out." Eliot shook his head. "He did that even though we weren't even doing related jobs." Nate rubbed his head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""This guy beat me to a bank without me telling him which one," Hardison pointed out. "He talked his way in, talked his way out." Hardison shook his head. "Speaks volumes, man, volumes."/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Guys, look, random acts of kindness or showmanship doesn't make him a trusted person," Nate argued. "It's-span style="mso-spacerun: yes;" /spanit's- It's not what we need right now. We don't need a sixth person, we don't need someone who can overlap. We are the best." He scanned everyone's face as he spoke. Sophie sighed and rolled her eyes./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Nate…" Sophie said slowly. "Parker, Eliot, and Hardison are all vouching for him. I haven't interacted with him, but even I feel compelled to give him a chance. He saved your life Nate. He didn't have to, but he did." Nate took a deep breath, thinking. There was a silence./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Callum knows what he's doing," Parker spoke finally. "He can steal almost as well as me. He can beat up anyone except Eliot. He knows a little about hacking, probably no where near Hardison though. He can put on a smile when he's in pain or ask someone about their day when he just wants to kick their teeth in. He's always careful, taking precautions I never would have thought twice about…" Nate heard the hidden emotions in Parker's voice and sighed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Sophie, can I talk to you alone please?" Nate asked. Sophie glanced at the others, who nodded and left, leaving the duo alone./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Look, I heard the way he spoke when he saved my life," Nate told her. "Parker is all he cares about. He saved my life for Parker's sake… I don't think it would be smart to have him join our team." Sophie sat down, shaking her head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""He might care about Parker the most, but ultimately he cares about what Parker cares about," Sophie argued. Nate sighed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You and I both heard Parker," Nate said. "She's—"/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""She has a connection to him," Sophie finished. There was a moment of silence where Nate nodded. "You and I have a connection, does that mean we shouldn't work together?" Nate frowned./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""That's not what I meant," Nate protested. Sophie shook her head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""The same night Callum came back into her life, Parker told me she wanted to work with Callum again, but she didn't want to leave us," Sophie explained. "That was the only thing she would tell me, and even then, she said it in her own way." She leaned forward. "They both mean the world to the other, but neither of them seem to fully know how they feel. All they want to do is see the other safe and happy, willing to put themselves at risk for that. How is that different from us?"/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""We don't even know if he's willing or ready to be apart of the good guys," Nate protested weakly./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Were any of us?" Sophie asked. Nate sighed before nodding weakly./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""This next job, we'll bring him as a trial," Nate decided. "If I don't like what I see, that's it." Sophie nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Perfect," Sophie said, standing up. "I'll go tell Parker." As she walked away, Nate's mind raced, wondering if her explanation of Callum and Parker was an acute observation of their own dynamic or simply a unwitting confession./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"strongem-Break-/em/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum placed his device on his table, looking it over. He made sure that everything was properly connected, a faint blue light indicating that it was powered. Taking a deep breath, Callum nodded to himself as he pressed the button, the light immediately turning green./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"For a moment, nothing happened, and Callum groaned to himself, but suddenly a violent shrieking in his ear sent him kneeling on the ground, his ears screaming with pain. Struggling, Callum winced as he reached for the device, finally pressing the button and falling to the floor, taking deep breaths. His ears were still ringing, and Callum blinked a few times, thinking./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"As Callum slowly regained his hearing, he finally realized that Parker's phone had been ringing, and he quickly answered./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Hi," Callum spoke first./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""We're going to Nebraska!" Parker said excitedly. "I don't know what's in Nebraska, but we're going to stop a bad manager or something!" Callum smiled at Parker's enthusiasm./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""That sounds great," Callum said./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Are you okay? You took a while to answer the phone," Parker asked. Callum's smile grew slightly./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I'm fine," he said, touching his ear. "Just was working."/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Did you get something to work?" Parker asked. Callum chuckled./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I did," he said, glancing at the device. "Not sure when it'll be useful, but, well, I have it." There was a moment of silence while Callum understood./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I'll meet you in Nebraska," Callum told her. He could almost see Parker's smile through the phone./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Actually, Hardison booked us all tickets on the same flight," Parker said. "Meet us at the airport in 30?" Callum smiled to himself, despite his mind racing with questions./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I always have my go bag ready," Callum said, glancing in the corner. "I'll see you soon."/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"strongem-Less than 30 minutes later-/em/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum glanced around, wondering how early he was, before he saw Parker wave her hand in the air. Smiling softly, he walked over to her, seeing the rest of her team standing there with her. His smile disappeared by the time he stood next to her, seeing the skeptical eyes of Nathan Ford studying him. He felt compelled to shift uncomfortably, but he fought it, smiling and nodding to him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Hello, Callum," Sophie said, extending her hand. "It's wonderful to finally meet you." Callum smiled and nodded, shaking her hand./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""It's nice to meet you too, Sophie," Callum said. Everyone except Parker frowned for a moment, unsure how he knew her name. Callum glanced around, seeing their frowns./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Here's your ticket," Nate said, handing it to him. Callum nodded to grab it, but Nate held it tightly. Callum quickly understood and nodded to him before Nate let go. They moved towards security together, with Callum and Parker falling to the back./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Nate doesn't want me here," Callum whispered to Parker./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""That's okay, he'll warm up to you," Parker whispered back. "He's usually grumpy around people he doesn't know or like." Callum understood what Parker meant, nodding. As they reached security, everyone calmly went through, and once it was Callum's turn, a guard approached him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Sir, would you please come with me?" the guard asked. "Random security check." Callum nodded and followed the man, without looking back. Upon entering the room, Callum handed the man his duffel bag./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Inside you'll find some items not in compliance with FAA regulations, but you will also find a special ID badge indicating the exception," Callum explained calmly. The guard raised an eyebrow, finding one of his devices, raising it and examining it before placing it to the side./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""As you can see, the device is not charged," Callum noted. "Which is why it is allowed under my certificate." The guard frowned, pulling out the badge Callum was talking about, examining it closely./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You must be some engineer, getting a pass like this," the guard said, resuming his search through the bag. Callum shrugged./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I've done a lot of specialized work, and I can't exactly drive to some places in the time needed," Callum told him. The guard finished searching the bag and put everything back in./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Sorry about that," the guard said. Callum shook his head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""It's no problem," Callum told him. "Just doing your job." The guard gestured out the door, and Callum walked back to everyone. Nate had an eyebrow raised as Callum returned, and everyone finally went to their plane and boarded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"As they got on the plane, Callum looked at his ticket for his seat, finding it was against a window. He discreetly checked Parker's ticket, seeing it was directly next to him. Once he reached the right row, he placed his luggage in the overhead compartment and gestured for Parker to go ahead. Smiling her devilish smile, she threw herself in the seat, and Callum quickly sat next to her. Hardison sat on his other side, putting on headphones and leaning back./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Thanks," Parker said, tearing her eyes away from the window to look at Callum, who nodded and smiled./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I remembered you like window seats," Callum told her. Parker smiled./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum never forgot she liked window seats. He remembered the first time he had sat there instead of her, she had practically leaned across his lap the entire time to see out the window. Callum didn't mind; he was never bothered by anything Parker did. Although it had made it difficult for him to do anything, he could've thought of worse people for the job./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Once the plane finally took off, Callum reached into his pocket and withdrew one of his smaller devices and a small screwdriver. Carefully, he adjusted a few parts with the screwdriver, before placing it on the small tray, and its faint blue light appeared shortly after. Callum pressed a button on the device, turning the light green, and the device suddenly shot out small plastic disks still attached to the device, each with small holes in the center. He used the screwdriver to press a second button, and the small disks began to move, circling around the rest of the device. Callum smiled to himself as he played his little game, attempting to put the small screwdriver through the holes in the disks, changing the pace of the circling as he felt./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Excuse me, sir?" the flight attendant asked. Callum turned to her, a calm look in his eyes./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Pencils, Styrofoam, frayed wire," Callum told her. She frowned, but he quickly continued. "This device is more harmless than any of those three things." The attendant kept her frown, but silently walked away. Callum resumed his game, and Parker turned to him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You still play that game?" Parker asked, smiling. Callum smiled softly, and wordlessly handed her the screwdriver. Parker took the screwdriver, and after three failed attempts to hit one of the holes, she handed it back to him. Callum took his turn, attempting three times before handing it back to her. After a while, Hardison took off his headphones and looked at them./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""What is that?" Hardison asked, watching curiously. Callum wordlessly handed him the screwdriver./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You try and get the screwdriver in the disk," Parker explained, stopping the movement and causing the device to groan quietly. She quickly let go, and Hardison shook his head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I swear, we need better hobbies," Hardison said, attempting three tries. After his third try, Callum took it from him, showing both him and Parker how to do it. Three attempts in a row were successful, and Callum handed the screwdriver to Parker./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Lots of practice," Callum said, looking at Hardison. Hardison frowned./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Wait, you made this?" Hardison asked. Callum nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I'm not very good at software, but give me pieces and I'll make something," Callum told him. Hardison jokingly clutched his heart./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""A man almost after my heart," Hardison joked, creating a small smile from Callum. Parker handed Hardison the screwdriver./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I would have thought you made a new one by now," Parker said. Callum smirked, reaching into his jacket pocket and handing Parker a flat square. Parker took it, curious, and pressed a button on the side, causing the square to suddenly expand into a small rectangular device. Curious, Parker pressed the button and watched as the top of the device extended slightly, and small pieces of string dropped down. The top began to move slowly, while the strings began to move up and down, and the ends of the string were tied into circles. Parker smiled devilishly, turning up the speed and swiftly putting her fingers into the string as they passed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I made this one for you," Callum told her, smiling. Parker didn't respond, instead reaching with her left hand to gently squeeze his wrist. Callum understood. Parker was grateful, and she enjoyed the game, though she didn't want to take her eyes off, and Callum also knew that Parker didn't want to bring up their time apart. Hardison handed him the screwdriver, perplexed by the device Parker was playing with./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Damn," he said softly. "Do I get one?" Callum's smile grew, and he shrugged./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""What kind do you want?" Callum asked./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"strongem-Break-/em/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum sat on the couch as Nate explained the plan. He listened carefully, and although vaguely understanding, he didn't question Nate's plan./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You got that?" Nate asked Callum, who silently nodded. Nate studied him for a second, then sighed before walking away. Callum glanced at Parker, who didn't say anything about it, shrugging./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""How can you watch this?" Sophie asked after watching the MMA fight that Eliot had turned on. "Two grown men, beating the stuffing out of each other?" Eliot shot her a look./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""It's more than just two guys beating on each other," Eliot said, glaring. Sophie frowned, so Eliot continued. "It's about control…" He continued to explain to Sophie the hidden aspects of fighting, eventually offering a demonstration./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Parker, come here. Hardison, you too," Eliot said. Callum watched curiously./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""You remember that thing I taught you?" Eliot asked. Parker nodded, and for the next few minutes, Callum watched as Parker used Hardison like a training dummy, and after it was over, no one seemed to listen to Hardison's pleas to be let go. Callum swiftly walked over to them, offering his hand to Parker, who released Hardison and took his hand, before he helped Hardison up next./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Thanks," Hardison said, standing and brushing himself off. "At least someone heard a man in pain." Callum sat back on the couch as Hardison walked off, shaking his head and rubbing his shoulder. Parker bounced next to him on the couch, watching the fight./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""He taught you those?" Callum asked her. Parker shot him a sly look, shrugging./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""It doesn't hurt to get a refresher," Parker said, "Like lemonade…" Parker stared off into space, and Callum smiled in understanding, getting up and going to the small hotel fridge in hopes that there was a lemonade. Mildly surprised, he found a can of lemonade and pulled it out of the fridge. He closed the fridge door and saw Nate in the corner of his eye, sitting at the table, watching him or the room, Callum didn't know. Callum didn't say anything, instead going back and handing Parker the lemonade. Parker eagerly took it from his hands, opening it without a word. He calmly watched the fight for a while, before Nate spoke./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Callum, don't you have someplace to be?" Nate asked expectantly. Callum frowned, specifically recalling that Nate had said 'tomorrow morning'./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I thought you said tomorrow," Callum said, standing. "But I can go now."/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I said right away, today," Nate lied, nodding. Callum didn't argue, though he knew he was right, and ruffled through his bag for a while, finding the clothes he wanted before changing and leaving the hotel./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Nate, we all heard you say tomorrow," Sophie said, shaking her head. "What was that supposed to prove?" Nate didn't answer, walking away. Eliot sighed, shaking his head but keeping quiet, while Sophie chased after him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Hardison didn't even give him an earbud yet," Parker noted, taking a sip of her lemonade. Eliot nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Nate, I thought you said you were going to give him a chance," Sophie said, crossing her arms. Nate nodded./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""I am," he argued. "I'm making sure he can set himself up, making sure he lives up to expectations." Sophie sighed and shook her head./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Look, you-" she glanced behind her before lowering her voice. "You sent him without an earbud, without a Hardison backstory. You're setting him up for failure, Nate." She glanced behind her again before continuing, "I know you're being protective of Parker, but—"/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;""Parker?" Nate asked, whispering. "You think this is about Parker?" He shook his head, taking a drink from his mug. "This is about all of us. We can't have any weak links, or it'll get us all caught or killed." Sophie scoffed before walking away without another word. Nate shrugged and took another drink, his mind racing./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"strongem-Meanwhile-/em/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"While Nate and Parker went golfing, Callum walked into the training gym, glancing around. He did his best to be discreet, finding a solitary dummy in the corner, setting his bag down, and beginning to practice. He paid no attention to the numerous looks that the other trainees gave him, and for the next several hours, Callum wailed on the training dummy. No one approached him, no one said a word to him, and he only left to refill his water or eat a granola bar, nothing more./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Finally, once the gym was closing, Callum decided to call it a day, leaving the gym without a word and heading back to the hotel. Once he arrived, he entered into the room across the hall from everyone else, keeping in time with Nate's plans, and decided to find something to eat. He found a small bag of chips on one of the counters, deciding to eat that for the night./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"The rustling of the cellophane of the bag of chips was the only noise in the room. Callum could hear almost every minute sound, feeling an almost unnatural silence as he ate. He sat at the table, his back to the wall, as he watched the room, finding it almost unnatural how quiet everything could be in the middle of nowhere./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Once he was finished with his chips, he threw the bag away, going to his bag and withdrawing one of his devices. He went over to the door to place it, like he usually would, before he stopped, staring at the handle. In his mind, he debated placing the device, arguing his own habits and safety against the expectations that the others would be able to enter and speak with him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Sighing, Callum put his device back, instead laying against the door, resting his head on his arm as he fell asleep, tired, and confused. He wondered if Nate's treatment towards him was simply impulsive distrust that would eventually fade away, or if he would be forced to deal with it. He expected that Nate didn't want him there, and Callum wondered if Nate had the executive decision concerning his place on Parker's team. He rolled over; his eyes closed./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Of course, if Parker wanted him nearby, far away, or anywhere, Callum wouldn't hesitate to go. Parker was the only person he had ever been able to trust, and he had previously been the only person Parker trusted. Callum felt disheartened as he thought about Parker having an ultimatum, him versus her team./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Attempting to fight the mixture of emotions and conclusions he was feeling, Callum got back up, getting a drink of water, and casting a wayward glance at his bag. He fought his feelings as his mind raced, accenting the pain. She had left. Without a word, without a reason. She knew how to find him, or at least get him a message. She didn't. She left him, working alone before finding a team. She would choose her team over him./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum shook his head, going to his bag and beginning to rifle through it. She didn't owe him an explanation. She didn't owe him anything. She was going out of her way, putting her neck on the line to try and get him on her team. He would always do what she asked in a heartbeat. He would always protect her in a heartbeat. He would do anything for her. Callum reminded himself this as he pulled out a small pill bottle from his bag. Callum opened the bottle and looked to see only a few pills left. Callum sighed as he thought before shaking his head and putting the bottle back in his bag./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum laid back against the door, curling up slightly as he tried to fall asleep. His mind was still racing, but he relaxed, letting his mind aimlessly wander. Callum began to fall asleep as the chaos in his mind continued, and just as he was about to fully fall asleep, he fell./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum kicked awake, feeling his heart racing, pounding, as he realized where he was. He was in a hotel room, not a basement. He was safe, with no reason to fear. Nothing was happening, and there was no sign that anything was going to./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"Callum sighed as he laid back on the floor, shaking the panic from his mind. He glanced at his bag one last time, thinking heavily on the bottle and its inhabitants. He felt his left hand begin to shake as he thought, grabbing it to keep it steady as he turned his back on the bag, forcing himself to think of anything else and fall asleep./p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: .5in;"A/N: Feel free to let me know what you think! Should I continue? What was your favorite (or least favorite) part?/p