Hardison lifted his hand to knock on Nate's closed office door, but hesitated, leaving it hanging in midair. Closed door is weird enough, but what the hell...? He frowned as he tried to listen more closely. Noises. Strange noises, now that he was thinking about it. Soft squeaking, like someone was bouncing on the couch. An occasional thud. And... was that... moaning?
His eyes flew wide open and he hastily retreated two steps. He continued staring at the door as if he would suddenly develop x-ray vision. It didn't work, but his hearing was excellent. Yes, definitely, moans. Loud ones. And a squeaking couch. Combine that, Alec, and you get... "Whoa!!"
"Are you trying that Jedi mind trick thing on the door?"
Hardison nearly jumped out of his skin at the sound of Parker's voice directly behind him and whirled around. "Parker! Woman, you can't sneak up on people like this! People like Eliot, they would throw a punch and not think twice, people like me get a heart attack!" He shook his head at the blank expression on Parker's face and decided not to dwell further on this particular subject. He turned around again and stared at the door again, unconsciously taking a step backwards. "I... don't wanna get in there."
Parker laughed, her expression changing to gleeful curiosity. "Why not? Is Nate naked?" She tried to walk around Hardison, already reaching for the door.
Hardison almost squeaked and grabbed her arm to hold her back. "You may be... actually right about that!" He pointed at the door with his free hand as another moan was clearly audible. "Don't you hear that?"
Parker frowned. "Hear wh... oh." Her eyes widened as the moaning got louder and was now clearly identifiable as Nate's voice.
"Ungh... yes, oh God, yes, that's good... a little more... to the right... oh yeah, there..."
Hardison's eyes widened even more and he and Parker now stared at each other wordlessly while they listened. After a few moments of silence Hardison finally shifted on his feet and tugged at Parker's sleeve. Parker blinked, but followed him a few steps back. She narrowed her eyes. "Who's in there with him?"
Hardison swallowed and scratched his neck nervously. "Uhhh... Sophie, I guess..."
At that moment, the front door opened and they could hear Sophie's voice chirping a happy "I'm back with cupcakes, everyone!"
Parker's jaw dropped. She pointed at Hardison, voice almost accusing now. "You said it's not possible for people to be in two places at once! So how can Sophie do it?" She looked nervously over her shoulder and whispered "Is she a wizard?"
"Witch, and no Parker, she isn't," Hardison corrected automatically while his brain refused to draw the obvious conclusion.
Parker frowned. "She isn't a witch or she isn't in there?"
A loud moan interrupted her and the next understandable words from Nate's office left no doubt. "Whoa... gnn... shit, Eliot, that's it, right there..."
Parker mouthed "Eliot?" with an almost delighted expression, and Hardison's eyes were now dangerously close to bugging out of his skull. Both their heads spun around as Sophie cheerfully entered the room and headed straight for Nate's door, carrying a big brown paper bag.
Hardison snapped out of his stunned state. Oh no no no. No way. He all but leaped towards her and grabbed her arm. "Uhh... Sophie, you don't wanna, um, y'know, go in there. Really. No, you don't. Not now. Not in the, the, the next half an hour or so. Nate said not to disturb him, he's, ah, busy." He gave Sophie a wide smile that felt fake even to himself. "I could really use a cupcake, you know. With coffee. Coffee from the kitchen." He tried to steer her away from the door, but Sophie remained in place and gave him a curious look, completely ignoring his last sentence.
"Busy? He didn't mention anything urgent this morning, what is it?"
Hardison felt his smile becoming even more forced. He scratched his neck and coughed. "I, uh, I dunno. Uh, stuff?"
Sophie raised her eyebrows and looked sceptical. "Hardison, you're not convincing here! I can see right through you. You're hiding something." She gave him a very sweet smile for a moment, but it faded quickly. She narrowed her eyes. "What's going on?"
Hardison opened his mouth, found that he really didn't have a coherent answer and closed it again. Damn you Nate. Why am I the one who has to explain this? He threw Parker a helpless glance, but she wasn't even looking at him. She had pressed her ear against the door, happy smile on her face and listening very intensely, obviously trying to catch every tiny bit of noise. Hardison groaned inwardly and looked back at Sophie who gave him another pointed look but froze as the next sound coming from the office was a loud groan.
"Holy fuck, Eliot, could you use a little more of that slick stuff? I'm getting all raw here!"
For the first time they could hear Eliot's voice. "Oh shut up Nate. Just relax, I need to get deeper to release tension. Just breathe."
Hardison's brain tried doing three things at once: wrapping his mind around the idea of the words "sex", "Nate" and "Eliot" in one sentence; trying to suppress every visual popping into his head; and between all that he actually wondered how Eliot's voice could still sound like always - gruffy and impatient and not at all exerted. Not even a little bit breathless. Does... does that mean he's not enjoying it? He almost slapped himself in the face. No. Nonono. Not thinking about it. Brain bleach. Now. Aw hell, I hope Nate has turned off the security camera in there. He turned to look at his companions. Sophie's jaw had dropped while Parker was now trying to suppress her giggling.
She beamed at Hardison. "They're fucking!" she exclaimed happily.
Sophie made a weak squealing noise and sagged onto a chair, looking thunderstruck. Hardison could hear her muttering "Oh Nate, how..." before he covered his ears to avoid more Parker-esque comments.
"I don't wanna hear this. Don't need to hear this. Not listening, man, no way." he muttered to himself.
Another heavy groan was followed by Eliot's voice saying "There. Feeling better now? I gotta wash my hands. This stuff's a bitch if it gets in your eyes." Hardison could now hear footsteps coming towards the door. Obviously Parker had heard them too. She jumped back and stepped closer to Hardison, who carefully took a few steps back and tried to get his horrified expression under control. If Eliot thinks we'd been eavesdropping, then we're in trouble. Capital T. He stared nervously at the door as it opened. Eliot walked out, hands slightly outstretched with something slimy covering them, whistling to himself and..
Eliot stopped when he saw his team mates, frowning. Hardison quickly glanced at the girls. As expected, Parker was grinning happily. Sophie for once didn't have her expression under control, but was staring at Eliot like a rabbit cornered by a snake. Hardison tried his best to grin innocently at the hitter, but flinched inwardly as he saw Eliot looking from one to the others and back, his frown deepening. "What?" It wasn't quite a growl, Hardison decided, but not far from it. Eliot scowled as no one answered. "There another creepy contest going on? Ain't got time for that!" He made vague hand motions. "Gotta wash my hands. That's horse balm, an' it stings if you get it in the face."
Horse balm? The realization of what had really been going on in the office dawned on Hardison now. Hysterical laughter bubbled up in his throat and sent him into a coughing fit as he tried to hide it. Eliot glared at him and walked towards the bathroom but then stopped again, looking at Hardison with a very defined scowl, voice definitely growling now.
"All y'all are crazy. Hardison, breathe, goddamit! Parker, slap his back, will ya? What's wrong with you?" He huffed impatiently as he watched Parker patting Hardison's back. Shaking his head and muttering curses to himself, he turned to Sophie. "You're in this too? D'ya mind tellin' me what's goin' on?"
Sophie had leaned back in her chair with a relieved sigh, closing her eyes for a moment. She now looked up and at Eliot and tried to smile. "Horse balm...?" she asked, voice still a little weak.
As far as Hardison could tell through his watering eyes, Eliot nodded, a little confused and a lot more cranky-looking. "Y'all act like you've never heard of it! If ya must know, Nate pulled a muscle yesterday and it all cramped up pretty tight. Couldn't stand an' could barely move. It's good stuff for like that, helps relax sore muscles, eases out tension and prevents stiffness. Usually for, well, horses, doesn't make the coat sticky, y'know? But also works..." He now seemed to notice that Sophie was just staring blankly at him, looking like she hadn't heard a word of Eliot's explanation. Eliot shook his head, now clearly pissed off. "What is wrong with you?" He looked at the others, motioning around. "Anyone?" Everyone carefully avoided his glare, not really wanting to explain. Eliot waited a moment and then stormed off with a wordless growl and kicked the bathroom door shut hard behind him. At the same moment Nate walked out of his office, tucking in his shirt.
"Ah, nothing better than slowly fading pain... guys? What are you staring at?" He looked from one to the other, frowning at the stunned look still on Sophie's face. "What? What's wrong?"
Hardison now had his breathing almost under control again. He gave Nate a helpless look. His mouth moved silently as he searched for a way to explain but was saved from that by the bathroom door opening again. Eliot stepped out, wiping his hands on his jeans as he looked at Nate. "They think we fucked in there." His voice was still a growl, but his lips were twitching and he actually looked as close to a laughing fit as anyone had ever seen him.
Nate choked on his words. "Wha.. what??" Hardison could tell by the expressions running over Nate's face how he mentally rewound the whole scene. Nate began to laugh, a little amused, a little unbelieving. Hardison met his stare with a smile, trying to submit that no, of course he didn't think that, not at all, not one second. A small smirk told Hardison that he hadn't been convincing. Nate looked at Parker who started to giggle hysterically, and then at Sophie who slowly began to breathe more evenly. "You... you thought..." His grin got even wider and he slowly shook his head. "Guys. Really? Me and Eliot?"
Parker scoffed. "Well, it did sound like sex. All that groaning and moaning. I never do that when I get a massage. And..." She pursed her lips, looked thoughtful for a moment and then frowned at Nate. "You haven't been in the harness for a few days now, so how did you pull a muscle? Or did Eliot give you hand combat lessons?"
Hardison was dangerously close to choking up again as his brain happily - totally uncalled for - turned Parker's innocent remark into an innuendo, but he forgot about it as he saw Nate's grin faltering. The other man now shifted on his feet. "Uh..." He suddenly looked a little embarrassed and fidgeted with his shirt. "Well, it might have, uh, something to do with, uh..."
Hardison started to grin delightedly. Nate. Oh Nate. You're not gonna live this down the next twenty years. He looked at Eliot and they both exchanged a smirk before Eliot slowly turned around and looked pointedly at Sophie. He just raised his eyebrows, sporting a very suggestive grin. Hardison and Parker simultaneously turned their heads to Sophie just in time to see her starting to blush heavily. Parker started to bounce on her feet, grinning excitedly and clapping her hands. Hardison's grin widened at the sight of the usually quick-witted grifter now stuck on explanations. Priceless. Really priceless. God, I hope the surveillance camera gets all this.
Sophie gave a little embarrassed laugh, tried to pull herself together and beamed a very wide, very exaggerated smile. She held up the paper bag.