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The Groundhog Day Job

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“Let’s go steal a day.”

It’s not the craziest thing they’ve heard come out of Nate’s mouth.

“Over and over again.”

Well. That might be.

 

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loop one.

The mark wakes up in his hotel room bed, some annoying tune playing on the radio, and the hotel is well and truly snowed in.

“But how?” Parker asks in that voice of hers, the one that demands answers that no one will be able to give. “Did Nate make it snow? Can Nate control the weather?”

Hardison just smiles while Eliot shakes his head.

“Parker, focus,” comes Nate’s voice over the comms.

Half an hour later, the mark is at breakfast downstairs and Parker’s as focused as ever on stealing his chair out from under him.

 

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loop three.

“This is fun!”

“Doing the same thing over and over again is fun to you?” Eliot growls at Parker. Everyone knows he wants to add his customary “There’s something wrong with you,” but after the last four times, the rest of the team put a moratorium on that.

“Yes. I get to steal all his stuff in all the different ways! Next time, I’m gonna do it with my eyes closed.”

More nearly silent growling from Eliot, and Hardison’s pretty sure he heard Sophie snort.

 

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loop twelve.

“Nate, we need to wrap this up soon,” Sophie complains over breakfast. “I can’t take this much longer. We’ve been pulling the same con for nearly two weeks in a row!”

“I know.”

His lack of a reaction makes Sophie even more indignant.

“Naaaaate.”

“What do you want from me, Sophie? I can’t make this go any faster. Just a few more days.”

Sophie huffs, but relents.

“Fine. But you’ll owe me. When this is over, we’ll go shopping.”

They’re alone, but the comms are always with them, and Parker’s excited-voice comes booming through.

“Oh, can I come?”

For Parker to show even the slightest interest in any kind of shopping-related activities is a huge step (though only Sophie will call it a step forward), and Nate knows Sophie’s even more determined now. That’s when Hardison becomes part of a conversation that was, just a few seconds ago, only the two of them.

“But Parker, I thought we were gonna see Jurassic Park after this?”

“I don’t like dinosaurs,” Parker replies. That makes even Eliot suck in his breath, right along with the rest of the team. “Too far, Parker,” Sophie whispers. Not that that it makes any difference; Hardison is on a roll now.

“You don’t like— How does anyone not like dinosaurs??? I’m not even talking to you right now.”

It’s his wounded voice, and they all know what that means. He’ll be unbearable for the rest of the con.

 

---

 

loop sixteen.

This time, Eliot’s the one complaining.

“I thought you said just a few more days?”

“So you were listening, too,” Nate just says. It’s not even a question anymore, even though Sophie sometimes thinks it should be.

“Listen, I want this to be over, too,” she jumps in. “But we couldn’t have predicted that storm the other day. Or the festival in town.”

They’d had to knock the mark out for two whole days because of those, and Eliot had not been happy.

“Can we please just wrap this up now?”

“Two more,” Nate says, and Sophie echoes it. Eliot just rolls his eyes.

 

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loop nineteen.

Or three more, as it turns out.

But this one is It.

Parker’s done her part and is waiting to rescue Hardison from the room he’s stuck in while Eliot does his beating-people-up thing and Nate and Sophie are going through their now customary routine with the mark.

“Hardison,” she only-sort-of whispers into the comm. “Are you done yet? Are you?”

“Parker!” comes the annoyed reply while he types furiously. To his surprise, she’s quiet after that, at least for half a minute.

“I think someone’s coming!”

She’s breaking him out even as she says it, but they’re too slow. And of all people to find them, it has to be the hotel owner. “I thought you said you sent him away for three weeks?” Eliot asks in his ear. Hardison whispers back, “I did! How should I know he’d come back from Tahiti two days early. Who leaves Tahiti two days before they have to?”

“I can’t get to you any time soon, and Nate and Sophie are still with the mark” Eliot says, “You’re on your own.”

“No problem,” comes Parker’s confident reply, and then she’s dragging him into the next room. The honeymoon suite.

“Is he gone?” Hardison asks, tensing when Parker shakes her head.

“I know what we’ll do!” she declares, that gleam in her eyes that makes his skin crawl—and not in a good way. “Let’s make out!”

Oh, well. That works.

Twenty minutes and a whole lot of making out later, they have the mark; hook, line and sunk.

 

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“That was fun.”

They’ve played this game so many times now that Hardison doesn’t even bother asking anymore. Parker’s not to be pushed—unless it’s off buildings—, and he’ll give her whatever time she needs to sort it out. Plus, there’s that other matter…

“I still can’t believe you don’t like dinosaurs.”