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There's a God damned racket coming from Eliot's right side that breaks his sleep wide open. His arm moves on instinct, but stops a bare moment later when he wakes up just enough to remember –

Hardison's over there. On that side of the bed. That's— Eliot's brain tries it out a few times, because they've tried it out a few times, and Eliot's gut knows that means something— That's Hardison's side of the bed.

So the racket shouldn't surprise him, probably. But he just can't quite process it. It sounds like hell on earth, it sounds like the decade he'd spent trying his best to guarantee the door to heaven had a permanent KEEP OUT sign on it where he was concerned, it sounds like--

Bye bye bye-yiy

He groans, pained, and rolls away from it, fingers twitching for the knife that hasn't been under the pillow since they'd started this… thing a few weeks ago. 'You gotta be freakin kidding me.'

Hardison makes a noise in his sleep, kind of a snort-snort-groan. It's completely not endearing, no ma'am, even if Eliot finds his fingers twitching for a different reason real quick.

'Hardison,' he grunts into his pillow. The racket continues. 'Hardison!'

Hardison makes another noise, this one almost maybe like a word, then rolls into Eliot, only smushing a little of the duvet between them. His nose is warm on the back of Eliot's neck; Eliot stills for a moment, but it's a shorter moment than the times before, and that's all right.

Until he realizes the racket is still happening.

'Damn it, Hardison!' He shoves at the pillow with his nose until he's facing the other direction, eyes screwed shut as if that'll somehow shut out the boy band, and knocks foreheads with Hardison without any real force. At least, he thinks it's without any real force, but Hardison huffs out a breath like he's offended.

'Wha'sat for?'

Eliot just extends an arm out, pointer finger aimed at the side table, but he still ain't opening his eyes. There's fumbling noises, then the blessed thing finally shuts off.

'Sorry not sorry,' Hardison says, and Eliot notices the space beside his face getting colder, and the mattress compressing in a different way as Hardison sits up. It sounds like he's rubbing at his face and Eliot has the dirty suspicion—although he refuses to visually confirm—that he's actually awake at this point. It's confirmed when Hardison opens his mouth again. 'I gotta get to the gym.'

Well, that's just dumb. 'No,' Eliot says.

Hardison pauses. 'No to the boy band, no to the alarm, no to the working out, or no to the universe in general?'

'I have to pick one?' Eliot grumbles. It's slightly muffled, but it's at least a real sentence. Without curse words.

'Only if you're done pretending this is a one-time thing and can admit we need to start conversing like grown-ups. In full sentences.'

Silence. Eliot's considering his pillow-knife again. He swears he can hear Hardison roll his eyes, but then Hardison leans in and heats up Eliot's back real nice, and it nearly distracts him. 'I've gotta go, Eliot.'

Eliot doesn't wanna hear it. He turns just enough to tangle their legs together again, handily keeping Hardison in place. 'Why?'

'Why do I have to go to the gym?'

'Did I stutter?'

Hardison's smile breaks against the bridge of Eliot's nose. It's a weird feeling. 'Aw, you learned that line from me.'

'Shut up,' Eliot grouses, not to be distracted. 'Screw the gym. You don't need it.' And just to prove his point, not to…do anything else, his fingers tap Morse code out on Hardison's overly-defined abs, far under the covers.

The tensing of the muscles and Hardison's exhalation of breath are satisfying. But do not shut him up. 'Just being youthful does not this beautiful body make. Did you think I woke up like this?'

Eliot twitches. It could've been a shrug but it's four thirty in the fucking morning, if his internal clock is anywhere near correct, so he just doesn't give a enough of a damn to make it happen. 'You don't see me runnin to the gym at the asscrack of dawn, but I could still whup your ass.'

Hardison seems non-nonplussed by this. 'You eat clean,' he says, far too reasonably, as he sits up again and begins to extricates himself. 'I eat terribly.'

Eliot stops, then lifts his head up enough to squint one eye at Hardison, who is pushing the covers aside. 'So if you just--'

Hardison gives him a Look over his shoulder. 'Give up my mac n cheese just for another hour of sleep? No. Hell no.'

'But you'll give up—' Eliot's mouth shuts with a snap. That was real dumb, too. He lies back down and glares at the ceiling.

Hardison, luckily (or unluckily) for Eliot, has a severe allergy to bullshit. Quicker than Eliot's expecting, the covers are off of them both and instead he's got a blanket made of Hardison.

'It's been a month,' the Hardison-blanket says, his voice all quiet and serious, his eyes on Eliot's with that dogged persistence he has. 'And what, five years before that?'

'What's your point?'

Hardison's expression holds nothing back. Eliot feels his neck start to heat up, but doesn't break eye contact, even when Hardison opens his mouth to say something surely dumb.

'My point is that I'm coming back. Ya knucklehead.'

Eliot squints up at him. He could flip them, and he contemplates it for a second, but then…doesn't. He knows when he's been beat, and he is down for the count, here.

He can still grump about it, though, as he hooks his calves firmly around the back of Hardison's knees. 'You better not think I'm gonna have breakfast waiting.'

Hardison grins, shaking his head, then presses his mouth against Eliot's, quick-like but not without something behind it. 'I don't think it. I know it.'

Eliot does flip them, then. And holds Hardison down easily, although, to be fair, Hardison doesn't exactly seem like he's trying to fight back.

Which is just fine with Eliot. His eyes, now that they're open, can't stop runnin up and down the great dark expanse of skin in front of him. His fingers follow without his explicit permission, but he doesn't stop them.

He sees Hardison's smug look, and has to fire something at it. 'Told you I could whup your ass.'

Hardison hooks an arm behind Eliot's neck and pulls him down, easy kisses easing the pain of early morning away, before he talks and ruins it all again. 'I never argued with that part. I'm just saying, some of us like to work out without having to like, you know, give people a beating.'

Eliot cannot believe he's in bed--literally and, apparently, metaphorically--with a person fitting that description. 'Where's the fun in that?' he mutters, but his mind is focused elsewhere. He's awake enough now to be forming up tactical maneuvers for Operation: Keep Hardison's Ass In Bed, and they mostly involve his hands and his tongue.

Hardison is not immune to these efforts; his breath shallows out a bit and a Eliot can feel fingers tightening on his shoulders. And yet, there he is, answering a rhetorical question just because he can: 'Gives me time to catch up on Law & Order. And don't think I don't know what you're doing.'

Eliot looks up, blinking with something he knows comes nowhere near innocence, but hell, he can get points for trying, right?

'You do get points for trying, though,' Hardison says, and Eliot's so startled he pulls back a little. This gives Hardison just the opportunity to grab him around the waist and haul him up until they're somewhere near the pillows again.

'God damn it, Hardi--'

But he's kissed before he can finish. 'I'm going,' Hardison says against his mouth. 'I'm going and then I'm coming back and I am going to wake you up in a manner that will make it all worth your while. You got that?'

Eliot stills with the strength of all the shit rushing through him. It's good shit, but it's all so unfamiliar it just freezes him up for a moment.

Maybe two. But less than before.

He lunges up enough to extract one more kiss, on his own damn terms. Then he shoves, knocking Hardison far enough way that he can grab the duvet and form a barricade with it. 'Whatever. I can't even believe that I know you.'

There's a flash of teeth as Hardison lingers in the doorway, gym bag in hand. 'You know that I like my eggs over-hard.'

The pillow flies just over his head. His reflexes have definitely gotten better in the past month, Eliot tries not to note as he glowers in that general direction. A glower which has zero effect on Hardison runnin his mouth.

'And would French toast kill you?'

Second pillow comes closer, because Hardison's laughing too hard to really duck with any sort of accuracy. He has to grab twice for the doorknob. Eliot's eyes get stuck on that small sign of hesitation.

He shakes his head. 'Go on!' he hollers as the door shuts. 'Get!'

Hardison's laughter reaches Eliot's ears despite the walls between them. That sound, that there sound is familiar. Eliot rolls over and punches the pillow with his grin.

The rest of it is getting there.