Parker wakes with her face halfway smashed into a pillow and an arm curled around her waist. She lifts her head, blinking slowly and blowing out a sharp breath to clear her bangs out of her eyes. Peering over Hardison's shoulder she can just make out the clock on the bedside table. A little before eight, which couldn't be right because she remembers Hardison setting the alarm to wake them at six, for the thing, which they are clearly not doing.
"Hardison." She's whispering, because its considerate, or so she's been told - repeatedly. There's still a discontented grumble behind her, the arm around her waist tightening, sleep warm fingers sliding beneath the hem of her shirt.
It's distracting and Parker lets the rough edge of a calloused thumb tracing the curve of her rib lull her into a loose sprawl, forehead resting against the back of Hardison's shoulder.
"That's cheating," she mumbles, breathing in Hardison's scent, warm and soft.
"Can't cheat if there are no rules." Eliot's usual growl is half-hearted, a low rumble against her back. "Go back to sleep, Parker."
Parker is pretty sure there are rules, or at least guidelines for this kind of thing, whatever this is. She's pretty sure she breaks a lot of them, or ignores them. That would explain all the exasperated looks anyway.
"But the thing, we have to do the thing" Parker insists. It was a very important thing. She doesn't particularly know why it was important, but Nate said it was, and he was usually right. Except Sophie said it wasn't good for him to hear that out loud.
There's a groan and Hardison waves a hand in a limp, sleep heavy manner that she thinks is supposed to be a shushing gesture. He could also be trying to cast a spell, which tended to happen when he spent too much time playing that crafting game.
"Raymond's little outdoor shindig was cancelled because of the rain. Nate told us it's been pushed back to tomorrow so that's why we're still here, sleeping, or trying to anyway."
Parker frowns and lifts her head, and now that she's searching for it she can hear the faint patter of rain on the nearby window. Resting her chin on the swell of Hardison's arm she watches as the rain slides down the glass in little streamers. The impulse to go outside and feel it on her face, little pinpricks of cold across her cheeks and forehead is strong, to breathe in the rising scent of wet cement that always leaves her oddly hungry.
But she's warm beneath the light weight of the comforter, her legs tangled with Eliot's while Hardison's broad back shields her from the chill of the window. It's comfortable and her normal energy is distinctly absent, drawn away by the warmth and still moving fingers along her ribs.
Parker settles back into the warm hollow she'd created, which earns a grunt of approval from Eliot. She doesn't really go back to sleep, but instead dozes, drifting in and out of awareness. At one point Eliot's arms slides away and there's a rush of cold at her back. An unhappy sound is drawn from the back of her throat, and with a mutter the blanket is drawn over her shoulders, sealing away the cold once more.
When Parker surfaces again it's to the faint sounds of activity in the kitchen and the smell of something delicious. She sits up, drawing a grumble of complaint from Hardison, who at some point rolled onto his back. He doesn't move again and Parker shrugs before pushing the comforter aside and slipping out of bed. In a t-shirt and underwear she pads out into the kitchen, inhaling as the scent grows stronger.
She finds Eliot standing in front of the stove, a wooden spoon in hand as he slowly stirs the contents of a pot. She scuffs her feet against the tile as she comes up behind him, presses against his back and takes another deep breath. "That smells delicious. What is it?"
Parker peers over his shoulder to see inside the pot. She catches a glimpse of thick yellow soup with chunks of carrots and potatoes before Eliot gently pushes her back with his elbow.
"You know the rules."
Parker huffs. "I'm not trying to help. I just want to see."
Eliot shakes his head, taps the ladle against the inside rim of the pot before setting it aside. He turns, arms crossing over his chest with a look that Parker has secretly labeled his "I am being serious" face. She tends to get that one pointed at her a lot.
"I am cooking right now, which means..." He lifts his eyebrows and waits, the shadow of a smile tucked into the corner of his mouth.
Parker rolls her eyes and blows out a breath that makes her bangs flutter, and finishes with, "I am not allowed in the kitchen. At all."
"Damn right you're not." Eliot gives her a look that is not fair, really, she thinks the chocolate sauce had gone rather well with the chicken. Sweet and tangy considering the onion juice Eliot had been using before Parker decided to add something a little extra to the recipe.
Eliot's eyes narrow as if he knows exactly what she's thinking, Nate is already the creepy mind reader they do not need another one thank you, and points to the kitchen table. "Go sit down where I can keep an eye on you. This is almost done."
He turns back to the stove and Parker looks at his broad back, tucks her tongue between her teeth as she considers whether or not she wants to push. She likes to do that, especially with Eliot, poking sharp fingers into his bruises and lying on the kitchen table, eating cereal out of the box where he can see it. It's tempting and she thinks it could turn interesting once she winds him up enough, that time on the counter for example.
In the end she sighs and retreats to the table because as much fun as it would be to distract Eliot, the soup he's making smells delicious and she doesn't want to put up with his brooding if he ends up burning it. She sits on the table though, right in the center with her legs crossed, grins wide and happy when Eliot shoots her a look over his shoulder.
The bright side of doing what he says, this time anyway, is that she gets to watch him. She has no interest in cooking, the extent of her skills starting and ending with cereal and whatever liquid she can get her hands on. Captain Crunch and Hardison's orange soda had not been a good idea, although Nate's coffee had proven interesting.
Watching Eliot though, it's easy to see how much he loves it, the way Hardison lights up when his fingers fly across a keyboard, or when Sophie gains the mark's trust. The way Nate's eyes gleam they take down the bad guy.
Eliot had explained it to her once, the both of them sitting quietly in the kitchen, lights off and the sounds from the street below filtering in. He'd said it was about creation, making things when he's spent the majority of his life learning the most efficient ways to destroy. She can see echoes of that life as Eliot moves from the sink to the stove, quick steps and the easy confidence with the knife. It's beautiful and dangerous and Parker figures being banished from the kitchen isn't so bad as long as she still gets to watch.
There are footsteps behind her and a warm hand settles on the back of her neck, lips pressing against her temple. "Good morning." Hardison straightens with a yawn and a stretch that makes his back crack.
Parker looks up at him. "Eliot still isn't letting me in the kitchen."
"That's what happens when you mess with the man's cooking. Seriously girl, what were you thinking?" He shakes his head at her with a mocking click of his tongue, wandering into the kitchen towards the fridge. As he passes Eliot he reaches up to squeeze his shoulder, but doesn't stop. "Whatever you are making smells delicious."
"Old family recipe." Reaching up into a nearby cabinet Eliot pulls down a couple of bowls. As he ladle's out the soup Parker catches another glimpse of heavy yellow broth and a piece of potato sliding out of view. "My Ma used to make this whenever it rained."
Parker doesn't move, sees Hardison freeze behind the bulk of the fridge door, orange soda in hand. It isn't often they get to hear about Eliot's past, and Parker knows better than to attempt digging it up on her own. Better to wait and watch for the perfect moment, to keep from making any sudden moves for fear the tumblers will slip and undo all her hard work.
Eliot doesn't say any more and carries two of the bowls over to the table, Parker moving out of the way. He looks back at Hardison and indicates with a jerk of his head that the remaining bowl is for him. He slides into the seat across from Parker, setting the second bowl in front of her.
She takes a bite and has to close her eyes, a grunt of pleasure joining the rich flavor of corn and bacon. She's being spoiled and she feels like she should object but figures as long as she keeps Eliot forever she'll never be disappointed. Hardison makes a noise in the kitchen and when Parker turns to look he's leaning against the counter, bowl in hand with the spoon never straying far from the path between the bowl and his mouth. She thinks he might have the right idea, staying so close to the pot.
Eliot digs into his own soup, smirking behind the fall of his hair. Parker doesn't say anything, is too busy keeping her mouth full and for a while the only sounds are the click and scrape of spoons, and the faint sound of rain.