alinaandalion: (rachel05)
Title:  Dog Days Are Over
Author:  alinaandalion
Rating:  T
Spoilers:  Through the end of season 3
Characters:  Nathan Ford, Sophie Devereaux, Alec Hardison, Parker, Eliot Spencer, Maggie Collins, and Tara Cole
Pairings:  Nate/Sophie, mentions of past Nate/Maggie, Parker/Hardison, and Sophie/Tara
Summary:  When the zombie apocalypse strikes, the team has to figure out how to face it.




Chapter Eight:

Eliot watched Sophie pace the length of the living room.  The sun had set two hours ago, and Sophie had steadily gone from worried to pretty much batshit crazy since Nate and the others hadn’t returned yet. 

“They should be back by now.”  Sophie chewed on a fingernail and glanced again at the door.

“Soph, they had to go twice as far into the city as we did,” Eliot said gently.  “They’re probably almost here.”

“You said that an hour ago,” she mumbled, glaring at him.

Parker looked up from the padlock she was picking.  “Nate wouldn’t let anything happen to them.”

“He’s not God, Parker.  He can’t stop every bad thing from happening,” Sophie snapped back.

“He might not be God, but he’s certainly good at pretending,” Tara put in as she stepped into the room, fresh from her shower.

Eliot surveyed her outfit; she had picked some extremely short shorts that barely covered anything and a tank top that was riding up her flat stomach.  With her wet blonde hair already drying into soft curls and that smirk on her face, he was pretty sure that this was either a ploy to seduce Sophie or distract her.  Which might just be working, if the look on Sophie’s face was anything to go by.  He didn’t like the idea, but he had no intention of interfering with that clusterfuck of a relationship; once Nate got a hint of what was going on, there would be hell to pay.

“You could at least put some clothes on,” Sophie told Tara, though she didn’t look as irritated as she was pretending to be.

Tara lifted her arms over her head and stretched languidly, her tank top sliding up even more.  “I like being comfortable.”

He glanced at Parker and was surprised to see the glare she was directing at Tara.  Then again, maybe it wasn’t that unusual.  Parker was pretty invested in the idea of Sophie and Nate ending up together.

Tara collapsed onto the couch, pulling Sophie into her lap.  Eliot raised his eyebrows, but neither of the women was paying attention to him.  Tara combed her fingers through Sophie’s hair and rested her head on Sophie’s shoulder, winking at him.  Parker shifted restlessly beside them; he caught the motion of Parker’s foot poising to deliver a swift kick to Tara’s leg.

The door opened at that moment, and Eliot let go of the breath he had been holding.  Sophie leapt out of Tara’s embrace and raced to the door; he followed after her and nearly ran into her back when she pulled up short.

“Thought you weren’t coming back,” Eliot told the group with an easy smile.

Nate nodded his head.  “It took a little longer than we expected.  All of you came back okay?”

“We brought back an extra,” Eliot replied, jerking his head in Tara’s direction as she walked up behind him.

Tara waved.  “Hey.  I’ve already been checked for bites.”

Maggie and Hardison smiled at the sight of Tara, but Nate’s brow furrowed, his eyes flicking between Tara and Sophie.  Eliot groaned under his breath and pushed his way forward to grab some bags out of Maggie’s hands.

“Nate and I can unpack those,” Sophie spoke up suddenly. 

Eliot handed her the bags without speaking and shook his head at Tara when she opened her mouth.  She snapped it shut and disappeared back into the living room.  Parker appeared to take her place, the lock falling from her fingers when she saw the three unharmed.

She flew into Hardison’s arms, knocking the wind out of him and making him drop the bags in his hands. 

“You came back!” 

Hardison grinned and wrapped his arms around her waist.  “Of course I came back, girl.  Where else would I go?”

Sophie picked up the bags Hardison had abandoned and moved to the kitchen, Nate trailing after her.  Eliot followed in their wake and deposited the stuff he was carrying on the table before leaving them to talk.  He wasn’t stupid, and he knew Sophie was probably going to head off whatever was brewing in Nate’s head.  It was best to leave them to handle themselves.

********

Sophie watched Nate as she sorted through the bags.  They had set up a system; bathroom supplies in a pile on her right, medicine and bandages in front of them, food on Nate’s left, and any odds and ends between them. 

“You were worried.”  He didn’t phrase it as a question, which meant he had been studying her; she didn’t know if that was a good or bad thing.

“Of course I was worried.”  She rattled a box of tampons just to make him uncomfortable and set them down.  “You were supposed to be back before dark, and we had no way of communicating with you.”

It was one of the first times she had realized how much all of them depended on the earbuds to let them know what was going on; it felt odd now to be cut off from the rest of the team.  Nate brushed his fingers against her upper arm and reached over her to grab some canned peaches. 

“I’ll get Hardison to get the earbuds working again,” he said quietly. 

Her fingers strayed against a box of condoms, and she picked them up, raising an eyebrow at Nate. 

He blushed.  “Maggie insisted.  She said something about, um, me needing them in the future.”

Sophie laughed, both embarrassed and amused.  “Your ex-wife is pimping you out.”

“You make it sound…dirty.”

“Think about it, Nate.  Something is wrong with the whole picture of your ex-wife trying to get you to hook up with me.”

“She’s a big fan of you,” he murmured.  “Seems to think you’re good for me.”

“And, am I?”  She knew as soon as she asked it that she was pushing too hard, but her words were already out there.

He gazed down at the table and traced his fingers along the wood, and she knew that he would try to change the subject.  “It was a lucky thing that you ran into Tara.”

She was right; something in his voice gave her pause, and she looked up at him, narrowing her eyes.  “Yes, it was.”

“You never mentioned your…unique relationship with her.”

So that was it; he knew.  She let out a long sigh and separated out a pile of make-up from the plastic silverware Nate was fumbling with.  She tucked her tongue into her cheek and organized her thoughts as she organized the shampoo by type and color. 

“It’s not something that comes up in casual conversation,” she finally said.  “It’s nothing to get worked up about.”

“What is it, then?”

“Friends-with-benefits.  Just sex.” 

His eyes snapped up to her face, and she could see his jealousy and the hurt that he hadn’t known about this.  Damn it.  Real friendship, even with him, came harder than it should, and she always forgot that at the most inconvenient times.

“Why?”

She shrugged. “It gets lonely being a grifter.  Sure, you can have lovers or boyfriends, but they don’t last long.  Can’t last long.”  Her thoughts wandered back to William and all the mistakes she had made with him.  “I found that out the hard way.  Tara and I had an understanding, and it worked out.”

“So, this means that you’re…”  He coughed and ducked his head.

She rolled her eyes.  “Bisexual is the word you’re looking for, Nate.”

“And you seriously never thought that was important enough to mention?” 

She looked at him, then, careful to keep eye contact; her voice trembled a little.  “When you already know who you want, everything else doesn’t matter as much.”

She watched his eyes widen with the weight of her words, the knowledge she had just handed him, and she looked away; this kind of exposure made her squirm, uncomfortable in her own skin, because of how easily he could throw it all back in her face.

“Sophie…”  His voice cracked, and she looked back up at him.

She barely had time to register his lips being so close to hers before he kissed her, his hand landing on the back of her neck to hold her against him.  She gripped the front of his shirt, almost pushing him away out of instinct, but she slanted her mouth under his, moving closer even as a small whimper escaped her. 

His other hand closed around her right hip, his fingers sneaking underneath her shirt to rest against her heated skin; he traced his tongue along her bottom lip, pressing gently.  She opened her lips and slipped a hand into his unruly curls as his tongue rasped against hers, delving deeper into her mouth even as he groaned and shuddered against her. 

“Well, hot damn.”

Hardison’s voice broke against her fuzzy brain, and she fumbled as she tried to slip away from Nate even as he pressed closer; he snapped to attention a moment after her, and they both turned to glare at Hardison.

Hardison just waved a camera in the air and snapped a picture.  “Just for the future generation,” he explained, already backing out of the kitchen.  “You two get back to business, and we’ll make new sleeping arrangements.”

He slipped out the door, and Sophie tilted her head back to catch Nate’s eyes.  Red crept up the back of his neck, and she giggled at the sight; Nate’s gaze landed on her, and he smiled softly, stepping forward and nuzzling his nose into her neck. 

She sighed.  Now, this, this was something she could get used to far too quickly.

“We never can find any privacy,” he murmured, angling his head and pressing light kisses along her jaw.

She hummed in the back of her throat at the attention and smiled.  “It could have been worse.  At least they’re all happy about it.”

“True.”  He took a step back from her, but he slipped his arm around her waist.  He leaned his forehead against hers, a smile teasing at the corners of his mouth.  “So, Miss Devereaux, I have a question for you.”

“I’m listening.”  She shifted enough to press a soft kiss to his mouth.

“Will you be my girl?”

The absurdity of the words made her laugh, but her head still spun giddily with what he was giving her.  She locked her hands against the back of his neck and kissed him, teasing his lips with a quick dart of her tongue before pulling back.

“You’re a silly man, Mr. Ford.”

********

Maggie smiled as Parker bounced around the room with the camera she had swiped from Hardison.  For all that she had conspired with Hardison to push Nate and Sophie together, she hadn’t expected it to happen so soon.  However, with zombies wandering around outside….  She shuddered.

Tara took a seat next to her after examining the photos Hardison had managed to get, and she smiled at Maggie.  “You know, not all women would work so hard to make an ex happy.”

“He’s a good man.  He deserves some happiness,” Maggie replied.  “Unless you disagree?”

“You won’t hear any argument from me on the subject.  Besides, Sophie’s happy, too, so it’s all good.”  Tara relaxed back into the couch.  “So, do you want your own bed or is Parker going to take it?”

“I was thinking you could have the bed to yourself.”  Maggie had gotten attached much too quickly to Parker sleeping beside her.

“If that’s what you want.  I think Parker will be thrilled.”

Maggie smiled at that.  “Maybe we should work on her and Hardison next.”

“Are you proposing that we start some sort of matchmaking service?”

“What else are we going to do?”

Tara’s eyes sparkled with her amusement at the idea.  “I think we can manage that in between target practice.”

“Are you suggesting that we all use the zombies as a way of becoming better shots?”

“They have nothing better to do.”

Maggie laughed until tears streamed out of her eyes and down her cheeks as Tara did the same.  Parker approached the couch and poked Maggie’s shoulder.

“What’s so funny?”

Tara shook her head.  “I think it was a matter of the moment, Parker.  Probably wouldn’t be funny to you.”

Parker poked out her bottom lip and stared at Maggie until Maggie sighed; she was powerless against the blonde thief.

“Tara was suggesting we use the zombies for target practice,” Maggie explained with a wide smile.

Parker’s mouth curved into what could only be described as a shit-eating grin.  “When do we start?”

Maggie raised an eyebrow and glanced over at Tara.  “Tomorrow morning.”

Parker nodded her head.  “Good.  Hardison needs the practice.”

She whirled around and crossed the room, presumably to explain her plans to Hardison, and Tara caught Maggie’s eye.  Maggie ducked her head and laughed softly. 

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alinaandalion

July 2012

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