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Baby, I'm On Fire For You

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Eliot stormed into the apartment, flung a smoldering duffel bag onto the couch and shouted, "Goddammit, Hardison! When I say 'duck' I mean GET THE FUCK DOWN!"

From his seat at the kitchen counter, Hardison glanced over, his expression half-cool and half incredulous. "I'm sorry, are you yelling at the guy who just saved all our asses and caught the bad guy with the evidence we need?" He twirled a spoon in his fingers, there was a bowl of cereal sitting on front of him. He jerked, suddenly, then glared. "Dammit, Parker! Get your own cereal; don't be stealing mine!"

There was a giggle, then Parker phased into view. "But it's more fun this way!" She grinned, eating the cereal from a spoon in her hand. Hardison flinched, checking his own hand and relaxing when he saw his spoon was still there.

"Can we focus for just a second?" Eliot demanded, slamming his hand down on the countertop beside Hardison, making the other two jump. "Or do you not want to talk about how you nearly went up in flames when I threw the fireball according to the plan?"

Hardison shrugged and rolled his eyes. "Tch. As if Nate's plans ever go according to...er...you know. Plan." He looked sheepish for a second, glancing over at Parker, who patted his hand and stole another bite of cereal. Hardison started to object, then just sighed and turned back to Eliot and preened. "Besides, sending in my little army of squirrels turned out to be the exact right thing to do. Too bad we can't all talk to small rodents and get them to do our every bidding."

Eliot leaned forward until his face was mere inches from Hardison's. He narrowed his eyes and Hardison blinked and pulled his head back. "First, three squirrels is not an 'army.' Second, what part of fireball do you not get?" Eliot growled, jaw clenching and eyes flickering with tendrils of fire.

Looking offended, Hardison said, "Three squirrels is all the army I need. And I knew Parker would grab me in time," Hardison gave Parker a grin, holding out his fist to her.

She looked at it dubiously, then suddenly brightened. "Oh! I know this one." She carefully raised her fist and bumped it into Hardison's. Then she smiled triumphantly at the pair of them, pleased when Hardison gave her a 'well-done' nod, then looking at Eliot and waiting for the same. When he kept glaring at Hardison, she scowled at him.

Eliot hissed. "Oh for God's sake. Yes, Parker, good fist-bump. Can we get back to the part where Hardison nearly turned himself into a charred corpse?" Eliot held up his hand and wriggled his fingers, still glaring hotly at Hardison. "Fireballs, Hardison. Fire balls. Do you know what that means? It means I shoot fire and that the things I'm aiming for catch on fire and burn."

Hardison looked unimpressed. He took a slow bite of his cereal and chewed for a moment, then swallowed. "Then how come you never roast marshmallows for us in the living room? Parker needs to learn how to make a proper s'mores."

"Ooh!" Parker perked up. "I love s'mores!" At a sharp look from Hardison, she frowned. "I mean...s'mores, what are those?" she asked, dubiously. She shook her head sharply at Hardison, mouthing a half-formed question, then turned a bright look on Eliot that was clearly meant to be an innocent expression.

For a moment Eliot just glared at them, but then he sighed and shook his head. "Why the hell do I even bother?"

"Because you love us," Parker offered. "And we eat your pie."

"Parker, we'd eat his pie even if he hated our guts," Hardison pointed out.

Parker frowned and whispered back, "But wouldn't he make us a really yucky pie if we hated him?"

Eliot just dropped his face into his hands. "Next time I'm going to let the fireballs burn your ass," he growled.

"Nah, you wouldn't. You'd miss me," Hardison said, smugly. He lowered his spoon, then jumped, looking down. "PARKER! Where's my damn cereal?" He looked around frantically, but Parker was nowhere to be seen. He stood up and began waving his arms around wildly. "Woman, that is cheating! No fair going invisible when you've just stolen the last of my cereal! Eliot, man, you can tell where she is -- point her out to me." He swiped his arms through the air around him and, from the other side of the kitchen, there was a laugh.

Eliot just left his head down and moaned, "Why me?"

Hardison patted him on the arm. "Just be grateful, man, that we're both so very awesome." He grinned widely when Eliot lifted his head to glare at him. "But you need to buy more cereal next time you go to the store."

Eliot growled at him, then suddenly lunged. Hardison gave a surprised squeak -- then caught Eliot in his arms and tugged him in close. Eliot glowered, but didn't fight Hardison off as he pulled him in for a kiss. After a few moments, Eliot even began to kiss him back. When Hardison broke the kiss, he said, "I promise next time I will try to control my spontaneous brilliance and let you struggle with Nate's plans, even if it means you waste time, energy and burn up the wrong car."

Parker appeared behind Eliot, and propped her chin on his shoulder. "I want Captain Crunch. Can we have that next time?"

Eliot let his head drop to Hardison's shoulder. "I'm running away to Bermuda and you two can't come with me." He paused, then said, "Parker, give Hardison his wallet back."

Hardison yelped, slapping his back pocket. He glared over Eliot's shoulder at Parker. "Don't make me tell my little furry friends to follow you everywhere. They can smell you, so you can't just vanish and get away from them."

"I don't like pigeons," Parker said, wrinkling her nose. Her chin was still resting on Eliot's shoulder, one of her arms around his waist. She was holding Hardison's wallet down at her side with her other hand, clearly torn about whether to give it back or not. Eliot reached down and grabbed it, holding it up for Hardison. Parker just added, "If you ask some little animals to follow me around, can you make it ferrets? They can help me steal things."

"I can't talk to ferrets," Hardison said, rolling his eyes. "They're too sma-- big. They're too big and hard to talk to."

Eliot raised his head and grinned at Hardison. "You mean, they're too smart, and you can only get dumb animals like pigeons and squirrels to do what you tell them."

Hardison just raised an eyebrow. "Do I need to remind you who saved whose ass today with his fine army of squirrels?"

Raising his own eyebrow, Eliot asked in a near-equal tone of casual smugness, "Do I need to remind you who nearly got his ass hit with a fireball because he jumped out at exactly the wrong time and it's only because a certain fire-mage has amazing reflexes that he isn't in a burn ward right now, whining about having a burnt ass?"

Hardison and Eliot stared at one another for a moment -- still standing toe-to-toe and arms all wrapped around one another. Then Parker asked, "Can you talk to magpies? They're good at finding shiny things, too. I want a magpie to do my bidding! Oo, or a vulture!"

For a long moment, Hardison just stared at her, then he said to Eliot, "She scares me sometimes."

"She also just stole your wallet again," Eliot added. Hardison just groaned, and let his head drop to Eliot's other shoulder.