Title: You're Coming Back For Me
Characters: Parker, Sophie, Nate, Hardison, and Eliot
Word Count: 2,897
Spoilers: Spoilers for season 2 and beginning of season 3.
Warnings: Parker-centric and nonlinear with a common plot thread. Some cursing. Some mild angst.
Notes:This is my first time writing Parker as the main character. Also my first time trying out writing in a nonlinear fashion. I hope it works.
She sits on the wrong side of the glass. She knows there are people on the other side. She doesn't like that she can't see them.
She could have escaped. Those police officers, FBI agents…whatever, they think they've done something spectacular. They've captured Parker, the world's greatest thief.
They didn't catch her. She let them take her. It was all part of the plan. She just didn't know then that the team would leave her behind. They aren't coming back for her.
Everyone always assumes that she has nightmares about falling off tall buildings because her rigs break. At least, that's what Hardison told her.
They're all wrong.
Her nightmares are about darkness and tiny spaces that swallow her whole. Not like air ducts. Those are tunnels to another destination. These spaces don't let her go anywhere. Trapped. All alone. She tried to live without other people because it was easier. Without anyone to depend on, no one could disappoint her. She let her guard down. They let her fall into her worst nightmare.
She hates them. And, she hopes every night that they come back for her.
She likes it when Sophie smiles at her. It makes her feel safe.
"Are you sure I can't just use my rig?" Parker tugs at the bottom of the dress Sophie has forced her into and squirms, nearly falling over in her wobbly heels.
Sophie grabs her elbow and steadies her. "No, I just finished doing your hair. You're supposed to come off as normal."
"I'm posing as a trophy bride," Parker mutters. "What's normal about that?"
"Just remember to let your character to do the work for you. You'll be fine. Nate will be right with you the entire time."
"Then he's going to leave me alone with the mark." Parker frowns and tries to work past the fact that her stomach feels too tight. "I don't like it. Something doesn't feel right."
"About the dress?" Sophie coaxes a strand of hair into curling and gives her a warm smile.
"No, about the job. Something seems…off."
"I'll be on the comms, so I'll talk you through it. You're going to be fine. You've done this without problem with other marks."
"It's this guy. I can't explain it."
"Do you trust me?"
Parker wrinkles her nose and tilts her head to the side as she considers Sophie before saying, "Yeah."
"Okay, then. Come on. Nate is waiting downstairs."
She feels it the second they walk into the warehouse. Everything has gone smoothly, all they need is for the mark to drop the money, and they're done. They'll disappear, and he'll have made a three million dollar investment in a company that doesn't exist.
Sophie senses it as well. "Nate, what's going on?"
Eliot is looming in the background, there in case the mark decides to bring muscle to back him up. "We've been double-crossed."
"Police are headed this way. We have to clear out." Hardison waves his phone in the air to get everyone's attention. "Come on."
They all start for the exit.
Parker whirls around to stare at Nate while Sophie steps in to reason with him. "We have to leave. None of us can afford to be caught here."
"We're not going to make it out by the time the cops get here." Parker watches his gaze drift to each of them, and she shivers. He has a plan, but the look on his face promises that none of them are going to like it. "We need a decoy."
Parker blinks, her mind racing as she tries to understand what he's saying. Eliot seems to figure it out first, but he doesn't offer an explanation. Maybe she would know if she was better at reading people. Then, Sophie starts protesting against the idea. Loudly.
"No, we are not putting one of us into jail so the others can get away. Have you lost your mind?"
"I'll do it." Of course, Nate is the one who offers to turn himself in. Parker wonders if he likes it better in prison. He certainly didn't want to leave the first time around.
"You can't. We need you if we're going to pull this off." Eliot shakes his head. "We can just outright steal the money."
"The con depends on him handing the money over. It will destroy his reputation with his company." Parker listens to Sophie talk, but doesn't say anything. The planning part really isn't her thing.
She notices Nate looking at her. "What?"
"Do you trust me?"
"Of course." She wonders briefly when that became an automatic response to that question, but she doesn't dwell on it; she can hear the police sirens outside.
"Here's what I need from you."
It's not until she's sitting in the back of a police car and glances out the rear window to see Sophie screaming at Nate and Eliot holding Hardison back that she realizes she's been played. She should have seen it coming. Would have. Three and a half years ago.
The punches remind Parker of one foster home.
It wasn't always a bad place, just when her foster father would come home and her foster mother wasn't there. Then, he would hit Parker. She wasn't there for a long time. Of course, she had also blown up the house, so that might have had something to do with her sudden move.
She doesn't fight a lot. Eliot is always there for that part of the job. He's shown her a few moves in case she gets caught, but he never lets her use them. She's better at escaping and hiding. She wishes there were somewhere she could hide right now.
The fight has nothing to do with her. She's just caught up in the violence sweeping through the prison yard and is on the unlucky end of someone's fist. She manages to dodge a few punches, but even she can't move fast enough to avoid ten limbs flying through the air.
"Hey, Eliot, what do you do when you can't win a fight?"
"Never been in a fight I can't win."
"But, what if you are? What would you do?"
"When I hit the ground, I would stay down and take the punishment until it was over."
"What if the person was trying to kill you?"
"Just one person?"
"Fine. People. Whatever."
"I'd take as many out as I could before they took me out."
Her face hits the concrete ground, the rough surface scrubbing away some of her skin. She blinks and rolls over. Feet scramble around her, but there aren't any fists down here. She decides to stay down. It might be a little safer. She stares up at the sky. It's grey, shot through with blue. No sunshine today. She wonders if that means anything.
She counts the footsteps she can hear. One, two, three, four, five…fade away.The guards patrol up and down outside the cells. She could pick the lock and leave. She's thought about it, kneels next to the cell door and whispers to the lock as she watches the guards pace. She hasn't, though; unfortunately she doesn't have a reason for that, which bothers her more than anything.
Her cellmates ignore her. She wonders if they think something is wrong with her. Eliot always said so.
"Twenty pounds of crazy in a five pound bag."
"There's something wrong with you."
"Normal people don't…"
She likes it better when they ignore her anyway. She doesn't need friends or family. The last ones she had (of both) abandoned her. Now, the world can go to hell and take them with it. She doesn't care.
Except for when she sits at the table in the cafeteria and wishes Sophie was there to talk to her and teach her how to act like everyone else.
Or when she wakes up in the middle of the night from a nightmare and wants to sneak to Hardison's place so he can stay up with her watching old cartoons.
Or when she's at a loss for what to do and her hand flies up to her ear to look for a missing earbud and Nate's steady voice that keeps her focused.
Or when she's lonely, and there's no Eliot to bother until he growls or finally gives in and makes her something to eat.
So, she stays in her cell. She has a collection of bobby pins hidden under her mattress, and one screwdriver she lifted off an oblivious handyman. She waits. There has to be a plan. Nate always has a plan.
Hardison hands a bottle of water off to her as he cracks open his orange soda. "You did a good job."
"Well, it's easy when I just have to stand there and look pretty."
"Still, you didn't stab him with a fork. So, you did good."
"Is anyone ever going to let that go? I only did it once."
He laughs. "I know, mama. It was just funny as hell."
"No one laughed when I did it." She frowns. "Was it one of those things where it was a
quiet funny and no one really laughs? Like when everyone gives Sophie compliments after one of her plays?"
"No, not exactly." He turns in his chair to face her, nudging her leg with his knee. "We were worried about you and blowing the con. Afterwards, when no damage was done, yeah, it was hilarious."
She smiles a little. "You guys were worried about me?"
"I was. Remember what I said?"
"Yeah. We're a little more than a team."
She takes his hand on an impulse and laces their fingers together. Ebony on ivory. They look like magic.
She loves her rigs. All gleaming metal and wiry cords that slip and slide and stop. It's like flying, the wind in her face and her hair.
She wasn't afraid her first time. Archie had strapped her up into the harness, and she jumped. It had been…perfect. Everything.
It belongs only to her. The others, they'll use her rigs if they have to, but they don't like to fall and stop an inch away from death. She doesn't understand. It feels like what every religion should be. She's never freer than when she's suspended in the atmosphere, gravity guiding her down until the cord pulls taut and delivers her to where she's supposed to go. She could fall forever.
She doesn't remember her parents. There have been a lot of people who came in and out of her life, asking to be called mother and father, mommy or daddy…she ignored them all and didn't call them anything. She might not know who her mother is, but she knows that they aren't.
She wonders if she might have known her mother for a little while, because she only thought about her mom, not her father. Or, at least, she didn't think about him as much. Archie was the one who almost captured that title first.
She loves Archie, almost more than anyone or anything. He is the reason that she is the best thief in the game. But, that's not why he was almost her father. He took her in and cared for her. He liked her. He talked to her. But, he wasn't the man she was looking for because he wasn't looking for a daughter. And, she couldn't have a father when he didn't want a child.
Well, a child like her.
She never knows how to answer the few questions she's been asked while in prison. One woman asks about her parents, and Parker stares at her. It's not that she doesn't have an answer. She does. It just isn't the one she expects. The woman goes away before Parker gets around to speaking.
So, Parker buries the answer; she still doesn't shake the memories of Sophie's gentle smiles. The way Nate always smells like coffee and sometimes alcohol after a long day. Eliot's fingers dancing along the neck of a guitar. Hardison teasing and laughing over the comms when the jobs run into late nights.
She wakes up in the morning and her pillow is damp.
The chaos pulls her from her dreamworld. She was in the middle of going through the plan she used to steal the Hope Diamond when her cell door is pulled open.
She bolts out of bed and stares straight at Sophie.
"Don't just sit there," Sophie says with a smile. "Come on."
Parker doesn't ask any questions, just bounds off her bed and heads towards Sophie. She runs back to grab a couple of bobby pins and the screwdriver from under her mattress. They might come in handy.
Sophie guides her through the prison, explaining as they run, "A prison riot has broken out. In the confusion, hopefully no one will stop us."
Parker glances at Sophie's clothes and realizes she's dressed like a guard. Parker then looks down at her orange jumpsuit.
"What about a change of clothes?" she asks.
Sophie shoves her down a side corridor. "No time right now. Hardison has looped these cameras, so no one is going to see you anyway. I have something for you to change into in the car."
"Waiting to be called in if we need him."
"I thought you weren't coming."
That makes Sophie stop for a moment so she can place her hands on Parker's shoulders and look her in eye. "Parker, I would never abandon you. I promise."
The alarms are still blazing around them, and Parker can hear the female prisoners screaming as they fight deeper in the building. She feels lighter, as though she's been dragging around chains that have kept her fixed to the ground.
She lets her lips curl into her first smile since they left her behind. "Okay."
She lets Sophie grab her hand and runs after her through the corridors into the blazing sunlight where the rest are waiting with a car. Hardison pulls her into a bone-crushing hug, his lips pressing into her hair, before she can stop him, but she doesn't struggle because he smells like orange soda and sweat, and she wonders if he would taste the same as he smells.
Eliot pats her on the shoulder, and Nate grins at her before pushing them all towards the car. They speed away from the jail. She doesn't look back this time.
She sits on the counter in front of the televisions, watching as Eliot chops vegetables in the kitchen and Hardison waves a gadget in the air, explaining the finer points about it. She wants to take it from him so she can press the buttons, but he's still a little too protective of it. She'll have to wait until Eliot is done cooking and Hardison is too busy eating to pay attention to anything else.
Sophie passes by the counter and gives her arm a squeeze as she heads to the kitchen.
Parker gazes at the three in the kitchen now as Sophie steals pieces of carrots and gently teases Hardison while Eliot laughs.
"I would have thought you would be in the middle of them."
She doesn't jump when Nate comes up behind her; she turns her head so she can see him, his hands shoved into his pockets as he watches her face. "I like watching."
He nods his head and steps up to the counter to lay something beside her. "I found this under the couch."
She runs her fingers over the harness and rig, noting the snapped wire. "It broke. I forgot I put it there for safekeeping." She bites her lip and looks at him, feeling like again like that little girl who had been dumped into the foster system. "Why did you come back for me? Why did it take so long?"
"We had to set up a good enough plan to get you out alive. And, we didn't want to get caught. I was always coming to get you."
"Why?" Her voice cracks a little, and she darts her eyes away, blinking away the rising moisture.
He reaches out and places a gentle, hesitant hand on her shoulder. "Do you trust me?"
She breathes and thinks. Looks straight at him. "Yes."
"That's why." He gives her a half-smile and walks away.
Hardison comes over a little later and jumps onto the counter beside her. She pulls the square-shaped gadget from his hands.
"What's it do?" She's already pressing buttons.
He fumbles to stop her fingers and sighs as she whips away from him, intently studying the small screen. "Well, I would show you…"
She shoves it back towards him and waits as he pushes a few buttons and turns it back around so she can watch what he does.
"Now, see, you press this button to…"
She's not really listening because watching his fingers tap-dance along the buttons is more fascinating, his face so intent and focused. She leans over. Kisses him. She pulls back first, but she smiles. He tastes like orange soda.
"What was that?" His eyes are wide. "I thought, you know, that…"
He grins, because if there is one thing he's good at, it's deciphering her. This time, he reaches for her, pulls her close. She closes her eyes and leans into him.