Outside Hardison's window, San Lorenzo was celebrating. Part of him wanted to be out in it. Part of him wanted to sleep for a week straight. Most of him was happy to be sitting on a giant bed in a five-star hotel room, drinking orange soda straight from the bottle and letting the post-election euphoria scroll endlessly by in one corner of his monitor. Email, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter...hell, #SanLorenzo was trending worldwide. That wasn't anything to sneeze at. He leaned back against the headboard and crossed his arms behind his head. "You know, sometimes I amaze even myself."
Parker looked over at him. She was sitting cross-legged on top of the big desk by the window, watching the crowd stream by on the street three stories below. Occasionally someone below would shout something patriotic and she'd raise her arms and grin and yell back cheerful gibberish. "Are you styling?"
"Trending," he sighed, "trending . And yes."
"Cool. You should let Eliot know."
He shot a look at her. Eliot wouldn't know what a Trending Topic was if it bit him on the ass. She smiled back at him like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. "He doesn't care. And he and I - we're fine. Don't worry about it."
"Okay." She rummaged in the gift basket beside her and tossed a bag of gummy frogs at him. Let it never be said the room service at San Lorenzo's finest hotel was anything less than phenomenal. They'd even found a few boxes of Parker's sugary off-brand cereal.
He opened the bag and popped a few into his mouth. "Besides," he said around a mouthful, "he's busy. Making San Lorenzo safe for democracy or whatever."
"He'd be the cavalry," she said, and laughed to herself. Then she swung around to rest her feet on the seat of the chair. "He's sorry about the thing with the pool, you know."
Hardison blew a raspberrry. "I can handle getting dunked. He should be sorry about lying to us all this time."
She was getting better at controlling her reactions, but she wasn't Sophie. Her casual face was way too casual. "What?"
"Nothing. You're right."
"Not but. And." She held out her hands, palms up. "And I don't think he thought of it as lying. I think he thought he was protecting us."
"Maybe it should."
She shrugged. "Okay." She lifted her feet and turned back toward the window.
"We could go out there, if you wanted," he said, to let her know he wasn't mad. "Be part of the experience."
"I like it up here," she said, and smiled at him sidelong to let him know she wasn't mad either. "With you. It's nice."
They sat in companionable silence for the next few minutes. The drumbeat of boots on the fire escape was Hardison's first clue that the conversation wasn't as over as he thought it was. His second was the door splintering in. His third was Eliot and what looked like half the damn army pouring into the room with weapons drawn.
His fourth was Parker holding her cell phone up and bursting into laughter.
"Parker," Eliot said in his softest, scariest voice, after the last of the troops had filed out and dragged the door shut behind them. "In a volatile situation like this, when you send a text saying room 307 come right away I don't assume you mean let's chat soon ."
She flopped back on the bed next to Hardison and wiped tears of mirth from the corners of her eyes. "The look on your face, though."
Eliot turned his glare towards Hardison, who held up both hands. "Man, I didn't even know she'd texted you. Though you may have overreacted. Just a teeny tiny bit. Moreau's gone."
"First of all, not all Ribera loyalists were bought by Moreau. Some of the real diehards might be looking for retribution." Eliot walked from window to window, closing the panes then dragging the heavy drapes shut. "Second, Moreau's been in prison for about an hour. Don't count him out quite yet."
"His whole security force ditched him before he even entered the country, El. Believe me, I checked. And Ribera turned on him in, oh, about five minutes. The kind of scumbags who work for Moreau - " Parker's hand landed softly on his arm. Hardison paused and took a breath before continuing. "Look, I don't know what he was like back in the day, but he doesn't seem to have earned a lot of loyalty lately. I don't think we have to worry about getting assassinated in the next few hours."
"Yeah, well, what you think we have to worry about and what we actually have to worry about don't overlap that much." Eliot dropped into a big armchair facing the door and ran his hands through his hair. He looked tired, which was strange. He sometimes looked, after a bad fight, like a strong breeze might knock him over, but he didn't often sit around with his shoulders slumped and his hands loose on his lap and dark bags under his eyes speaking to weeks without a good night's sleep. That was more Nate's thing. "I just want us all to get on that plane tomorrow, okay?"
Parker and Hardison exchanged a look. "We're safe here," Parker said, propping herself up on her elbows. "And we'll be careful. Sorry about the text."
"It's okay. Sorry I jumped the gun." He sighed and stood up. "I'd better - "
"You should stay," Hardison said. He stood, too, ending up about halfway between Eliot and the door. "Flores and his men can handle whatever needs to be handled."
"I don't know." Eliot's eyes searched his face. "What are you guys doing, anyway?"
"Well, Parker's been yelling nonsense out the window. I'm, you know, overseeing the digital aspect of our ongoing international - " Eliot cocked an eyebrow at him. "Yeah, I'm marathoning Psych on Netflix." Hardison looked over his head at Parker, who flashed him a thumbs up. "And we're trending."
"I have no idea what that means."
"I'm sorry about the pool," Eliot said, dropping his gaze to a spot on the floor between them. He suddenly looked breakable, like he had back in that park, although at the time Hardison had still been too mad to care.
Hardison moved close enough to clap him on the shoulder. "Yeah, I know."
"And about - "
"It's okay." Hardison tried to look deep and mysterious. "We all have our secrets."
"Hardison, you don't have any secrets."
"How dare you," Hardison said. Eliot didn't laugh, exactly, but the skin around his eyes got all crinkly and for the first time in days he didn't seem like he was about to collapse under the weight of the past. It was a good look for him. "Come on, stay. And keep in mind we have a high-speed Internet connection and about fourteen pounds of gummy frogs. God knows we need some supervision."
Without waiting for an answer, Hardison climbed back onto the bed and pulled the laptop around so Parker could see the screen. She scooted up and put her head on his shoulder. After a moment Eliot sat gingerly on the other side of her. Hardison felt her lips curving into a smile and couldn't suppress a grin of his own. Maybe he didn't have Eliot's sixth sense for danger, but as far as Hardison could see? All was right with the world.