alinaandalion: (quinn02)
Title:  Dog Days Are Over
Author:  alinaandalion
Rating:  T
Spoilers:  Through the end of season 3
Characters:  Nathan Ford, Sophie Devereaux, Parker, Alec Hardison, Eliot Spencer, Maggie Collins, and Tara Cole
Pairings:  Nate/Sophie, mentions of past Maggie/Nate, Parker/Hardison, and Sophie/Tara
Summary:  When the zombie apocalypse strikes, the team has to figure out how to face it.

Chapter Six:

They ended up stopping at a house outside of Reno, Nevada. Eliot liked it because it wasn't in the city, which meant plenty of open land to see any possible zombie intruders long before they could attack; Parker just liked the fact that she could dangle out the windows on the second floor. The others could care less as long as they could get out of the vehicles. It was getting a little crowded, and after the third game Parker had played of "Get Sophie and Nate Together," Sophie was about to go insane. Nate wasn't talking to anyone, and Maggie didn't know whether to find it all amusing or disturbing.

Eliot climbed out of the driver's seat of the van. "Okay. We need to work fast if we want to get everything inside before it gets too dark. I'll check to make sure the place is clear. Wait here."

"Won't you need help?" Sophie was edging her way away from Nate and Maggie. "It could be dangerous for you to be in there alone."

"I think I'll be fine." Eliot gave her an amused look. "Don't worry. I've handled worse."

He headed off towards the house as Parker sidled up to Sophie.

"So, I have an idea," Parker started.

"Parker, I swear to God that if you start up your silly ideas again, I will not be responsible for my actions," Sophie interrupted.

"I was talking about using my rig to fight off zombies, but if you don't want to hear about it…" Parker's voice trailed off as she scuffed her shoe along the ground.

Sophie sighed. "I'm sorry. Tell me about it."

Hardison hauled a large box out of the back of the van. "Hey, Nate, can you help me out? I have a lot of equipment to get inside."

"Is all this really necessary?" Nate surveyed the interior of the van. "It looks like you brought your entire apartment with you."

"This is for any possible emergency. I even have a couple of satellites in case I need to rig up a decent Internet connection." Hardison grinned.

Eliot came out of the house, his gun slung across his shoulder. "It's all clear inside. Whoever was here left in a hurry, so there's even food in the cupboards."

"Cereal?" Parker asked, her eyes hopeful. She had run out of her supply three hours into the trip.

"You have a problem," Eliot replied. "But, yeah, you can check." She started to run off towards the house. "After you help get everything inside."

She turned around and glared at him, but she grabbed the box Hardison was struggling with and marched off to the house. Hardison stared after her, and Eliot laughed. Sophie reached into the trunk of the car she had been in and tossed out a few duffle bags. Maggie scooped up two, and Sophie slung the remaining three over her shoulders, leading the way to the house.

Eliot looked at Hardison's array of equipment. "Traveling with a geek is such a pain in the ass."

"I'll have you know that this is the only way we can stay connected to the rest of the world." Hardison shoved an armload of wires into Eliot's chest. "The least you can do is help carry it around."

Eliot growled. "Not my department. Don't people just use radios anymore?"

Hardison adjusted his grip on the tangled wires and said, "Nobody, man. Well, maybe third-world countries and backwoods militia men. Excuse me while I go set up my stuff that could save your pathetic ass."

"I wouldn't count on that."

Parker dangled out of a window on the second floor, her knees hooked over the sill. "Hey, are we going to wash clothes or something? I'm fine, but Sophie's almost out of underwear, and I don't think she'll just not wear it like me."

Sophie glanced up as she walked outside and continued onto Nate. "I don't have clothes appropriate for this anyway. Everything I have is…impractical."

"Aren't all your clothes impractical by nature?" he asked.

"Not for my job. I've never heard you complain before."

"You must have not been listening."

Hardison craned his neck to stare up at Parker. "Do you think she really doesn't wear underwear?"

Eliot shrugged. "I actually didn't ever want to know. Don't think too hard about it. Probably a little too much for your little virgin brain."

Parker waved to the two men and called, "I'm sure Hardison isn't a virgin. He's at least watched porn."

Hardison spluttered as Eliot laughed, slapping him hard on the back and heading into the house.

Nate looked away from the exchange and focused again on Sophie. "We can venture into the city tomorrow. We're going to need more weapons and supplies anyway."

Maggie had disappeared into the kitchen, and she examined the contents of a cupboard, noting the varied boxes of cereal. Parker would be pleased. She smiled at Eliot when he walked into the room.

"Are they always like that?"

"Hardison and Parker? Yeah, basically. The two idiot kids can't figure out what to do with each other. Of course, they've got nothing on Nate and Sophie." When Maggie stiffened, he said quickly, "Sorry, shouldn't have said that."

She waved him off with an impatient look. "No, it's fine. It comes with the territory of running around the country with my ex-husband."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"With you? Not really."

He shrugged. "Okay. But, I'm here if you ever do. I'm going to find some wood to board up the windows on the first floor. Might get Hardison to help me even though he's useless with a hammer."

Maggie laughed. "I'll come help in a moment."

"Don't worry about it." He smiled. "But, I bet you'll do a better job than Hardison."

She grinned in response as he left the room. Sophie swept through the door next, and when she saw Maggie standing there, she started to back out of the room.

"Hold it." Maggie braced herself against the counter and waited as Sophie turned around. "Okay. We need to talk."

"What about?" Sophie shifted her feet and pushed her curls behind her ears.

"Nate."

Sophie jutted her chin out in defiance. "There's nothing to talk about."

"There shouldn't be," Maggie corrected. She sighed and folded her hands together. "He's my ex-husband, Sophie."

"I know that." Sophie's dark eyes were large and shiny. "I understand that."

"I don't think you do. I divorced him. He isn't my husband anymore, which means that whatever is going on between the two of you is okay. It's more than okay, actually."

Sophie gave her a tired smile and shook her head. "Don't bother lying to me, Maggie. I won't fall for it. It bothers you."

Maggie huffed and crossed her arms across her chest. "Fine. It does bother me a little."

"You know, he never cheated on you. He didn't even think about it."

"Now who's lying." Maggie gave her a tight smile. "I've never been a fool. He didn't do anything wrong, but that doesn't mean he never thought about it. Chances are that he did. It doesn't have anything to do with now, though. Nate is not the man I married. I'm not in love with him. The rest is up to you."

Maggie nodded her head firmly and headed for the door; she was going to find Eliot to see if she could get hold of a hammer. Hitting something sounded like a very good idea.

"I'm sorry. For everything. I'm just…so sorry."

Sophie's voice cracked on the last few words. Maggie considered staying, but she kept walking. Sophie sniffled and took a deep breath. The tears pushed aside, she left the kitchen as well.

***************
 

Eliot was surprised at Maggie and Sophie's willingness to help saw the wooden tables down into rough boards. Hardison had disappeared on him awhile ago, but these two worked in vicious silence.

"You know, Sophie, hard labor can create calluses," Eliot mentioned as he watched her shove the saw deep into the wood.

She shrugged and blew some hair out of her face. "It doesn't matter. I don't have to impress anyone."

Eliot just stared at her. This was not the woman he remembered starting this journey with. Sophie Devereaux always shied away from manual work; he could count on one hand the number of times she had washed the dishes. Of course, now that he thought about it, that could have something to do with Parker's obsession with cleaning the dishes. He studied the women, and he wondered at the cause at what was causing this kind of rage in them. He would put his money on Nate. That man was the only one who could send Sophie into such a spectacular snit, and he suspected the rule might stand for Maggie as well. Eliot was determined to not get caught up in that mess, so he didn't ask anymore question and just took the boards to nail them across the windows.

Parker appeared beside him, and he almost dropped his hammer. "I don't understand why being outside in the dark is such a big deal. It's not like the zombies only come out then like vampires."

"It's harder to see them at night," Eliot grunted as he finished pounding a nail into the wall. "Bigger risk, especially with people who can't handle a gun."

"I can shoot just fine."

Eliot gave her a sly grin. "Hardison can't."

Parker just leaned against the wall and pouted. "I wanted to use my rig. I just finished fixing it, and Nate won't let me test it."

"Cheer up. We're going into the city to get supplies tomorrow." Eliot motioned to the pile of wood on his right. "You can help me for now. Grab a hammer and some nails. Don't put them in your mouth."

Parker wrinkled her nose as she looked at him. 'You do. Why can't I?"

"You could swallow one. It could go down wrong and kill you because we can't just take you to a hospital."

Her eyes lit up, and she grabbed a handful of nails from the open box. "Cool."

"Don't give her any ideas, Eliot," Sophie warned, sitting back on her heels to survey her work. "I've run out of wood."

"How much wood can a woodchuck chuck?" Hardison asked as he wandered into the room, phone held aloft.

"Can woodchucks even throw wood?" Parker wondered as she hit a nail enthusiastically with her hammer.

"What are you doing?" Eliot said and gestured to the phone in Hardison's hand.

Hardison sighed. "I'm trying to get an Internet connection. It looks like someone picked the one house that still uses dial-up. I mean, seriously? Who in the twenty-first century still uses dial-up?"

Parker rested her hammer against her shoulder. "How did the woodchuck get the wood?"

"Parker, it's just a…" He shook his head and looked back at Hardison. "I didn't even have an Internet connection at my place."

Hardison's eyes went wide. "Seriously, man? What is wrong with you?"

Sophie chose that moment to leave. She ran into Nate on the stairs.

"Hiding out?" He sank onto a step, leaving enough room for her to join him.

She sat down beside him, wincing at the tight squeeze. "It's the same as always. Apparently, Hardison feels that Eliot's lack of appreciation for technology is more pressing than the zombies that could be outside."

"Just a normal night."

"Yes, I suppose so."

"Maggie didn't feel the need to escape?"

"She's still fascinated by their bickering. I suppose it is amusing if you haven't listened to it every single day for the past three years." She sighed and attempted to stretch her back. "Did you look at the sleeping arrangements?"

He scooted back a step and started to massage her shoulders. "We have four bedrooms, four beds. I was thinking we could keep similar arrangements to when we were in Los Angeles, and give Eliot and Hardison their own beds. I'm tired of listening to their complaints about that issue."

Her muscles tensed under his fingers, and she stood up. "I'll share a bed with Parker. Give Maggie her own bed. You can share with one of the boys."

"Did I miss something?" His forehead creased as he studied her. "You didn't have a problem sharing with me before."

"It's not the best idea right now."

"I don't understand."

She started up the stairs. "Figure it out, Nate. You're not stupid."

"I just don't see the issue here." He got up to follow after her.

"And, that's the problem." She gave him a sad smile. "I'll leave it to you to tell the others."

She continued up the stairs; he groaned and ran a hand through his messy hair. Apparently, this would be a very normal evening, complete with him sticking his foot in his mouth and upsetting Sophie. He wondered for the umpteenth time if bringing Maggie along with them wasn't causing more problems; of course, it wasn't like they could have just left her on her own. Maggie wandered up the staircase towards him, her hand trailing along the banister.

"Need something?" he asked, sagging against the wall.

Her mouth turned downwards. "I take it that things aren't going well with Sophie?"

"If they're even going at all." He gave her a rueful smile. "Not that you really want to talk about that."

"I wouldn't ask if I didn't want to discuss it."

"Well, let's just drop it."

"What should we talk about, then?"

"Are we okay?"

She shrugged. "I think so." When she looked up at him, she sighed and laid a hand on his arm. "Our marriage is over, Nate, and it has been for awhile now. I'm over you."

"Good to know," he muttered as he moved out of her reach.

"I'm trying to help you." She could feel the migraine throbbing in the back of her mind. "Make up your mind about what you want."

"I have." His face crumpled for a moment, and he met her gaze with an open, boyish look that reminded her of their early married life and Sam. "At least, I think I have."

The pain clenched around her heart; she almost stumbled off the stairs. "I have to go."

"Where?"

"Just, please, Nate."

She made her way down the staircase, her legs barely holding her weight up. Nate sighed, a long hiss of breath that didn't help at all with the heaviness weighing him down.

***************
 

 

 

Parker cracked the door in an attempt to get a better look at the stairwell. "They stopped talking."

"Really? I hadn't noticed." Eliot moved away from the door. "Come on, get back to work."

Parker turned her head to look at Hardison, not noticing when her hair whipped Eliot's face. "Why are they all upset?"

"Go ask Sophie." Hardison brandished his phone and motioned to the door in front of him. "If you'll excuse me, I have an Internet connection to establish."

Parker moved out of his way, but she grabbed onto his hand and held on for a few moments, giving his fingers a small squeeze. Hardison gave her a small grin; Eliot cleared his throat and motioned to the half-finished windows.

"Do the two of you want to help me finish this up so zombies won't snack on you in the middle of the night?"

Hardison shook his head and waved his phone through the air. "Na-uh, man. I have, um, important things to do. I might have to rig up a satellite or something. Yeah. But, good luck with your little project. All working together for the greater good, am I right?"

He raised his hand for a high-five. Eliot stared at him, a hammer cradled loosely in his fingers, until Hardison glanced around nervously and backed out of the room. When Hardison was gone, Eliot looked for Parker. She had disappeared.

"Nate had better give me my own bed," he grumbled as he lifted the hammer to pound a nail through the wood into the wall.

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July 2012

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