Sometimes, Parker felt too loud. Not her words, not the scuff of her foot on the wood or carpet or tile. She knew those were quiet.
Just. Parker. Parker was too loud. Or maybe that wasn’t the right word. It probably wasn’t. But she didn’t feel like searching for another word, and it’s not like anyone was going to ask her anytime soon, so she let it be.
So. Sometimes she felt too loud. And it was a 50/50 shot being around other people would help. Sometimes, her loudness could mingle with others and become white noise and she could focus just fine. Sometimes, everything became the too-sharp jangle of a screechy violin - no, not a violin, not anymore. Hardison proved that that could sound as sweet-sharp as clinking locks - ...an alarm then. Yeah. Like those new fire alarms that played five different tones over each other, all meant to catch attention and make people want to leave and did anyone know how loud that got in the vents? Did anyone think of that?
At the start of a con? Parker could definitely say she almost never felt loud - she used to, when this was all new, and she was surrounded by undisciplined thieves with their too quick faces and too sharp edges.
She didn’t feel quiet, but she did feel not loud. Settled maybe. She’d heard Sophie describe her falling into whatever role Nate asked of her as settling into a skin.
She wondered how that would feel sometimes, slipping into her skin, all soft flesh and gross insides, only to remember that Sophie probably didn’t mean it like that.
But that was entirely not the point right now. The point was that she was settled - reacting quickly to Nate’s ‘go’ as they all converged on customs, rolling through Hardison’s rundown on Keller and exactly what brought them there (though she never quite got all of that - didn’t they cover this before? She was pretty sure they’d covered all of this three hours ago back at the bar).
Ready to lift a wallet and a briefcase - taking the need to the actually find a better briefcase double when Quinn called it out as he trailed after Keller and the bodyguard.
And then Spencer walked in. She almost missed him honestly. He moved easily through the crowd, flashing a badge - what type she didn’t know, just that it was gold and badge-like and that was generally bad for people like her - and the TSA agents and security guards let him through, the badge ending up clipped on his belt.
He looked… different, up close. Not that she wasn’t expecting that of course - but she’d only had how Jacob moved (they were clo-... brothers. There had to be some similarities right?) and grainy security footage to go off of before. Add in Quinn’s muttering and grumbling, and she’d pictured someone… stiffer. More out of his skin at least. She’d seen other hitters, other guards, who got a little punch-happy, trigger-happy, just in general not-nice-happy - they were jerky, jumpy, always ready to move and strike at, say, a squeak of metal from a vent that definitely shouldn’t have made any sound.
The security footage had shown a man like that. All hard edges, quick looks, and fast hands. Spencer here though… He wasn’t soft, but he was moving easily, heading straight for Keller with a confidence that got people out of his way - except a security guard he pulled in to have a word with.
Again. She’d almost missed him.
“Spencer’s here.” She snapped, cutting off Nate - she was certain he wasn’t saying anything actually important to the job anyway. His voice had ‘Sophie-talk’ all over it. She caught Quinn’s jerk and stumble as he abruptly dropped to tie his shoe, dropping out of Spencer’s immediate line of sight. Hardison took a moment to actually react, caught up having to act like everything was just fine for a couple in his line before she saw him studiously Not Looking in Spencer’s direction. He didn't look panicked, not quite yet, but he was getting there, expression hard as his thumbs flew over his phone, no doubt pulling up whatever he had on where Spencer was supposed to be.
“Nate, I swear to God, he was not supposed to be here. Nothing flagged, and last time we checked, he was still with Moreau.” Right. In Germany, or at least, there recently. They hadn’t actually managed to get a lock on Moreau's location anytime he was actually there (and she knew that was driving Hardison up a wall), but his computers had gotten pretty good at following his trail.
And then Parker’s attention was snapped back to Spencer as a little girl made her way over to him - no, to the security guard he was still talking with. She was too far away to hear anything, but the guard looked confused, and Spencer looked downright pained and guys like that don’t talk to kids like her and this is going to be bad and they need to get over there - he dropped down to her level just as Parker was pushing through the crowd, Nate and Quinn in her ear either telling her to wait or something like that.
The smile stopped her. Spencer smiled, and from this distance she could hear him responding in another language - Arabic? Maybe? - before taking a look at her ticket and offering her a hand. The little girl took it without hesitation and let herself be led over to a group of TSA agents.
She’d had barely a chance to relax, catching the tail end of the worried look Hardison shot her and he finished processing Keller but pushing it away as something she couldn’t approach right now - middle of a job, middle of a mess, Nate was about to get them out, she was sure of it.
A couple things happened at once. The alarms went off - not as annoying as those fire alarms but pretty damn close, and they set her teeth on edge even though she knew they weren’t for her - the little girl was being carted away for - a quick look - smuggling, they were yelling about a statue, Nate was in her ear talking about how the TSA agents were going after the wrong smuggler, Spencer had a handful of seconds to look confused, then startled, then pissed - and oh, there was the guy from the security footage - before he went still. Staring into the crowd.
And then Quinn was cursing over the comms and Parker followed Spencer’s gaze right to their hitter.
She was loud again, even as everything went into salvage mode, the sounds around her fading into white noise. She shoved a luggage cart into Spencer’s side as she was passing, ducking into the crowd with a startled curse chasing her heels; Quinn, out of the corner of her eye, pulled his pilot’s hat down low and made his way out of the terminal as fast as he could without drawing more attention; Hardison begged off on break; and Nate talked Sophie down from going after the little girl, saying something about her family that he must’ve spotted while everything else was crashing down.
The last minute call to clone Keller’s phone almost came too late, but a turn on her heel and she’d lost her hat, her staff shirt wrapped around her waist, disappearing her into the crowd past the gate long enough to sidle up to Keller for all of a moment, only to do it again just before he left the airport to return the phone.
He felt sick. No one had said a word about the kids. The smuggling? Sure. That’s why he was here in the first place. Damien needed Keller for a job coming up - or his contacts, at the very least. They’d lost Kadjic, and while Keller dealt mainly in art and artifacts, he had to know plenty who didn’t. Eliot was supposed to keep an eye on Keller - losing Kadjic out of nowhere had set Moreau… not on edge, not really, but he was slower to trust his network with the bigger plans - see if he could actually manage what Damien needed. Being given as extra security for a couple meetings in that time was apparently a bonus.
He’d been told to meet them at the airport in Boston - why there and not in London he had no idea, though he was pretty sure it was just Chapman fucking with him again, petty little shit.
And he should’ve looked. He had enough contacts around he could’ve gotten information on what Keller was doing in Boston today, anything he might be moving in and how. But he hadn’t. And now that little girl was stuck with fucking ICE, confused and scared and likely to be stuck there for months and no one deserved that, and he’d basically served her up on a silver platter.
And then on top of that mess, there had been a moment in noise - right before a luggage cart had winged him, which, what the hell - that he’d thought he’d seen Quinn. Sure, it had been awhile since he’d last seen the guy (five years now?) but he wasn’t about to start doubting his own eyes.
So. Quinn in a pilot uniform that was definitely not his.
Jet lag wasn’t a thing he believed in, but he couldn’t deny that his mind was going too many ways at once after a flight from Berlin to Boston, and another to London in less than twelve hours. The hell was Quinn doing there like that, how quickly could he get someone into that holding cell to get that little girl - fuck, he hadn’t gotten her name before she was scooped up and swept away - what was Keller going on about…
Right. Auction he had to go to. His own head of security had been shooting Eliot a side-eye basically since they’d met in Boston, and he was pretty sure the man had twitched when it became clear Eliot was going to be tailing the entire way. Eliot couldn’t even blame him - he got twitchy when Damien switched security without warning. Though more because of the possibility of a knife to the back than because he hadn’t had a chance to vet them thoroughly. That was Chapman’s job now anyway.
He’d backed off as much as he could. Sure, he’d been offered as extra security, but if Keller’s men wanted to keep things local and keep him out of it, he wasn’t going to put up much of a fight. He was here to watch, not hold their goddamn hands through their normal routine anyway. And if his men couldn’t handle a normal day’s fuck ups, they shouldn’t be working for Damien anyhow.