Chapter 1: Parker, bunny
Parker checks her gear one last time before heading out for the designated meeting spot. She's not nervous. She's not.
"He's on our side," she says. "He's one of us."
Bunny sits on her bed, silent.
Chapter 2: Eliot, flip-flops
So he's in Hawaii, just for a few days, and it's part vacation, part recon. He figures he's got at least a week before the guy with the monkey arrives and after that thing with the Aussies, he's learned to do a full-on recon of the drop site.
Besides, surfer girls are hot.
So he's in Hawaii, and he's trying to blend in (what? he can blend!) which is why he's wearing the damn flip-flops when the three goons jump him in the alley beside his hotel. And, ok, maybe he isn't quite as prepared as he could be for this since he was mostly thinking about that hot blond who just gave him her room key than he was about the job, but still. He can take three North Korean Special Ops (it's a very distinctive fighting style) blindfolded.
Except the damn thong on his cheap-ass flip-flops snaps just as he's executing a perfect roundhouse kick to goon three, preparatory to spinning back and punching goon two in the solar plexus, and the goddamn thing ends up flying off and smacking him in the face, which gives goon one time to jab a syringe in the side of his neck and the next thing he knows, he's stuffed in a wooden dog crate in the cargo hold of a 747 (it's got a very distinctive engine).
And he still doesn't have the goddamn monkey.
Chapter 3: Hardison, They've learned the hard way not to take Hardison into a Home Depot
"Hell no," Hardison says when they arrive. "Do you see these hands? These are the hands of an artiste."
"Yeah?" Eliot says. "And these are the hands that will beat your ass if you don't stop complaining and grab a damn cart."
Hardison sighs and grabs one of the shopping carts out of the rack. "Fine," he grumbles. "But I don't—"
"Not one of those. One of the flatbed ones." Eliot's consulting the list Nate gave them before they left his apartment. Man's got no sense of humor, apparently, and it wasn't like Eliot cut through a retaining wall or anything. "We need lumber."
"We need for me to not be here, is what we need." Hardison pushes the cart and of course it's got a wonky wheel which makes it skew right into the back of Eliot's heel.
"Ow! Damn it Hardison!"
"Not my fault you're making me work with inferior tools here." Hardison sniffs primly and wrangles the cart back into line. "Forcin' me to do manual labor. Like that's even right."
"Making me shop with you is what's 'not right'," Eliot grumbles. "I could be in and out of here in ten minutes if I was on my own."
"You sayin' I'm the slow one here?"
"Yeah, Hardison. I'm saying you're the one slowing us down," Eliot says as he grabs a box of something off of a shelf. "And what kind of a man doesn't own his own cordless drill?"
"I know, right?" Hardison says, then adds, affronted, "What you think I only play computers in my spare time? I build shit."
"Like little model planes?"
"For the last time, they're called 'X-Wings'. X-Wings." Hardison rolls his eyes and continues pushing the cart. "And my planes could kick your planes' asses if they wanted to."
"Yeah, sure." Eliot has headed straight for the power tools section and he's eying a hammer drill like it was a hot twenty-two year old who'd just done three shots of tequila. "We need that, right?"
Hardison nods, because there are things he can do with a hammer drill. Oooh, and a new welder. And maybe a set of torque wrenches. And is that a laser level?
By the time the store manager kicks them out, they have not only failed to obtain the wood and nails Nate requested, but Hardison may have also built a sentient toilet robot using the floor model, the guts of a walkie-talkie, the wheels cannibalized from two shopping carts, and Eliot's cell phone.
"Damn it, Hardison!" Eliot growls as he watches yet another DIY-er run screaming in terror.
"What?" Hardison says. "What? Like this is all my fault?" He sniffs again and looks to the side. "Like y'all didn't know this was going to happen. I mean really. Asking me to make home repairs."
Eliot glowers at Hardison and it'd be intimidating if he weren't covered in neon-pink paint from when a granny pushed him into the paint mixer while fleeing from Hardison's toilet.
"Run," he says. "Because I swear to god—"
"Dude, chill. There's, like, a perfectly good Lowes two blocks away."
Eliot's right eye begins to twitch and Hardison grins.
Chapter 4: Nate/Sophie, "Read the ending first"
For fic_promptly prompt "any, any, read the ending first"
The thing that she thinks Nate so often forgets is that Sophie abhors mysteries. Even as a child she'd found the whole idea of waiting to learn everything until the very end absolutely absurd – what was the point of all that? It was far better to know everything in advance and proceed accordingly; after all, how deadly boring would it be to be led down the garden path only to realize at the very end that the garden path led to something awful, like A-levels and pregnancy, instead of the promised sweet shop? Always read the ending first – that's her motto, and it's so easy to read the final page of any person's book. Not the literal final page, of course, for that's the same for everyone, but the…metaphorical one, as it were. The end of this particular chapter of any person's life – the chapter where she breezes in and out of their story, a Southern Belle, or grand Duchess, or petty minded bureaucrat. She arrives, they react, and she holds all the strings; she pushes and pulls and taps and prods and smiles and flirts until they all twirl about her, unconscious of the way she leads them in the preordained steps of their dance.
It's rather like what Nate himself does, she often thinks, but with far less drinking and much better clothes.
And of course, she knew instantly what sort of dance they would lead when she met Nate oh these many years ago. She would run and he would chase and it would be mad and wonderful and romantic, and eventually she'd let him catch her. Eventually.
Of course, things didn't work out quite as well – or as soon – as she had hoped. Oh she had run and he had chased and for a while it had been everything she'd thought it would be. And then for a while she had run and nobody had chased and when she saw Nate again, he had been a different man entirely. He had been a mystery, and she did so abhor a mystery.
She thinks on that now as she watches him drink – two fingers of Jameson poured not-so-discreetly into his coffee cup, and it's not quite gone five past eight – and he's not quite so mysterious after all. She runs and he chases, and it's a far more staid courtship than she'd ever thought it would be; well, as staid as these things can be with the other three around; as staid as it can be within their madcap life.
No, things are not so mysterious, for she is still a woman and he is still a man, and though they push and pull each other for control, she knows that in the end she will win. She knows how their story will turn out, for all of Nate's apparent resistance. She has read the ending of their story – read it far before Nate even knew they had a story – after all.
But, she thinks, smiling fondly at Nate from across the kitchen table, I shall so enjoy the middle.