Parker winced as the pain in her side intensified. She was a little too slow to dodge a bullet and it ended up hitting her left side. It was bleeding, but she knew it could have been much worst…it might not even need stitches. That wasn't the least of her injuries. She also sported a handful of bruises and scrapes from a fist fight and two-possibly three-cuts from a knife.
It was supposed to be a quick and easy job. Slip in, pick a lock, and leave…except she wasn't the only one getting paid to do so. Her temporary employer decided to insure the theft by hiring not one but two thieves to get the job done without telling either one. And once the surprised of seeing each other had passed, they realized quickly only one of them would be getting paid. Parker already had the package in her hands and tried to scramble back into the air vent she had entered through. Thief Number Two grabbed for her, catching her leg and pulling her out. Somewhere in the chaos of escaping, she took several blows and barely managed to kick the knife out of her assailant's hand. The bullet came as she found herself on the rooftop seconds from throwing herself over the side of the building.
A pissed Parker, still under the influence of an adrenaline rush and hadn't realized she had been shot, opened the package she had stolen. She hadn't really asked or cared to know exactly what she was being paid to steal. She had taken the job out of boredom while Nate was looking for their next job. After looking through the papers she had stolen, she wished she had done a little more research about who hired her. He was a bad man-very bad-and all indications pointed out the need to bring this matter to Nate's attention. The guy had personal information of foster kids of various ages along with names of some very bad people. There was one name on the list that stood out and he had been the final straw in her decision to leave the foster care at an early age.
She tucked the package away, and took off towards a safe location. But the name on the list had brought back memories and the bullet wound decided to make itself be known, and Parker's state of mind quickly retreated back to her formal scared self. She needed to find a safe haven. Irrationally, she thought of Eliot Spencer. He was the team's hitter, and part of his job was to protect all of them and take out the bad guys that wanted to physically harm them. Her pain induced mind could only think to locate his home. It was the only way for her to insure she would be safe.
And that was how two hours late, she found herself curled up and hiding in his bedroom closet. Filled with pain and confusion, Parker's mind supplied her with memories of keeping herself safe inside closets and other small spaces during her stint in foster care. She removed her harness and pulled her sticky shirt away from the bullet wound. She could hardly tell anything about it in the dark. It was still bleeding. Parker used one of Eliot's shirts to staunch the flow of blood.
Eliot knew something was off when he entered his home. His sixth sense never proved him wrong before. He was careful to remind quiet as he cleared each room. He was frustrated when he came up empty. No one was there, and nothing seemed out of placed-nothing was gone or added. He came back to his bedroom still trying to shake the feeling of something wrong when he discovered a tiny trail of blood. He followed it to his closet.
The hitter threw up the door with his gun aimed and ready to shoot his injured intruder. He blinked in shook at the sight of the blond thief curled up in a ball in the corner of his closet. There was a slight sheen of sweat on her forehead and a delusional gleam in her eyes.
"What the hell, Parker?" he yelled as he lowered his gun.
Parker flinched from him. "Please," she whispered. "Don't hurt me anymore."
Eliot had never seen that scared look on her face before. He crouched down to her level. "It's okay, sweetheart. I'm not going to hurt you."
"Eliot?" She wiggled slightly. "He shot me." She sighed as she sluggishly brought herself back from the memories of the past and into the present. She was safe here. Eliot would keep her safe
Eliot cursed. They slowly got Parker out of the closet, and he could finally see the full extent of her injuries. It wasn't as bad as he feared, but he still needed to get a look at her gunshot wound. The wad of cloth at her side was soaking up blood. He gentle pulled it away, noticing it was one of his shirts. He peeled her black shirt up and away.
"Just a grazed," he commented. "It's going to require a few stitches."
He pulled her to the bathroom and told her to take her shirt completely off. Her bare midriff revealed more bruising. There was nothing he could do about them, and besides, he was concerned with cleaning and patching up her side right now. He had her sitting on the sink to get better access to her wound.
"How did this happen?" he asked, trying to distracted her from the pain.
She winced at his care. "Side job went south. How dare he hire a second thief?"
"Why are you taking a side job?" He couldn't hide his anger from her.
She shrugged her shoulders. "I was bored. And it was supposed to be an easy job. Also," she said smirking, "it gave me the perfect opportunity to test my new harness."
"It's perfectly safe. I designed it myself."
"You don't test a new harness on a job!"
Parker rolled her eyes but remained silent. This was an old argument, and one she knew that neither one would win. "We have to do something! I won't let him hurt anyone else."
"Did you get a good look at him? With Hardison, it won't take long to track him down."
"I can't forget his face," she whispered. "He haunts me…like a ghost." She shivered. "I haven't forgotten what he did."
Eliot frowned. He had a feeling they weren't talking about the same person anymore. "Who, Parker? What did he do?"
Parker blinked. "It doesn't matter. Not to me anyways. But it matters to those kids… They don't deserve that. No one does. We have to do something."
He prepared a needle and thread. "What kids? What are you talking about?"
"The package… I peaked at it. Foster kids…foster kids like me-their pictures, their histories. Kids people won't miss. And another list…a list of bad people-bad people who like to hurt kids." She glanced down at Eliot's head as he stitched up her wound. "You have great hair." She used her right hand to touch it.
He pulled a little tighter than he meant to. "Focus, Parker," he barked. "How do you know they are bad people?"
Her arm dropped to her side to grip the countertop. "Aren't we supposed to be focusing on the kids? We need to find them, make sure they are safe."
The hitter turned healer tied off the stitches and set his medical tools down. Parker was pale-paler than normal. Her silence, her evading his questions…they all spoke louder than words. They all knew the foster care hadn't been kind to her, and the girl she had been had suffered for her to become as unstable as she was now. He could only imagine the horror she might have seen-the scars that could never be healed. She must have recognized a name on the list from her past.
He growled in anger, wishing he could have protected a younger Parker.
"You get used to things: little angry taps, the wandering hands… But these guys? These guys do more than that. They take kids, use them, and once they are finished with them they never come back the same. Never, Eliot." In desperation, she reached for him. She clenched his shirt between her fists. "I was quick. I escaped. Most aren't as lucky as I am. We have to help them. Please…Eliot…"
He reached up and covered her hands with his own. "Parker, sweetheart, we'll get him. We'll make sure he never hurts another kid again. You got that?"
Parker nodded slowly. "Alright."