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There are days when Parker isn’t sure she deserves Hardison--not because she’s down on herself, but more for crazy reasons. Like--so, she’s totally fine watching movies with Alec, but that’s more because she likes watching him get excited about things than because of the movies themselves.

And then, she’s seen a couple of them enough that she can say the dialog along with the actors, which really makes Hardison happy. She likes it that he’s happy, but she’s not really doing it because she loves the lines, but because her brain just picks things up and won’t let them go. (This is true for everything except The Princess Bride. She can recite the entire movie, word for word, but that’s sheer love.)

She knows he’s happy that she apparently likes the movies he does and she can’t quite bring herself to tell him the truth. She hopes that doesn’t make her a bad person, and just keeps on trying to actually like them.

Tonight, he’s got Independence Day going on the big screen while he’s sitting on the couch with his laptop. Parker’s figured out that that’s a wordless invitation for cuddling (if it was something really important, he’d be on his tower, but the laptop means he’s doing stuff that’s low-key and doesn’t need a whole lot of computer power.) She’s also figured out that he’s totally okay if it’s one of those nights when she’s not okay with it (some nights it’s awesome, some nights it makes it hard to breathe.)

Tonight’s somewhere in between so she sits down next to him and lays her head back against the cushion. Alec smiles at her and then goes back to his screen. Parker snuggles into the cushions a little deeper and waves to where Eliot’s clashing around in the kitchen, playing around with a dozen jars of spices, concocting the latest version of his dry rub for the ribs he’s making over the weekend.

It’s nice, Parker thinks, surveying the condo they’ve been staying in for the last couple of months. Kind of domestic. That’s a little too nerve-wracking to think about, so she tunes back into the movie before she freaks herself out. They’re right at the part where the President is finding out that Area 51 isn’t such a urban legend after all, and Parker says, “That’d be kind of cool, wouldn’t it?”

“Huh?” Alec looks up from his screen, blinking at the movie. “Oh. Yeah, yeah, that’d be awesome, but you know, baby, that’s one of those things I’ve really looked at and can’t find anything on it.”

“That’s no fun,” Parker says, and right then notices that Eliot’s stopped moving in the kitchen, which is… weird. She rolls her head so it looks like she’s looking at Alec, but where she can still see Eliot out of the corner of her eye. “I guess it’s just one of those urban legend things.”

She elbows Alec as she’s talking, nodding toward the kitchen when he looks up, and he’s just in time to see Eliot’s shoulders relax, like he’s taking a deep breath of relief at Parker’s words. It’s subtle--hardly anyone would notice it. Probably not even Nate. Maybe Sophie. But Parker sees it, and so does Alec. Also, this is the prime time for Eliot to be telling them they’re crazy, but instead he’s all into moving his little baggies of spices around, but not really putting anything into the stone bowl thingie he uses to grind stuff up.

Again: really weird.

Parker tilts her head toward Alec, who arches a very interested eyebrow at her in response, so she smiles and calls, “Uh, Eliot? Something you’d like to share with the team?”

That’s a little unfair of her--she could have just said ‘us’--because Eliot Spencer does not like feeling as though he’s letting his team down. He turns right around at that, and the look on his face says he doesn’t appreciate the manipulation at all. Parker actually feels a little guilty, but then Eliot sighs, and comes into the the living area, wiping his hands off on the bar rag he has tucked into the waistband of his jeans.

“Eliot?” Alec says, a wild excitement growing in his eyes.

“What’s the line from the movie?” He jerks his head toward the screen, where the President is in the middle of being all president-y and growling to be let into the lab.

“‘Uh, excuse me, Mr. President? That’s not entirely accurate,’” Parker quotes with a dawning excitement of her own.

“Yeah,” Eliot says. “That.”

“Which part?” Alec asks, almost whispering.

“All of it,” Eliot sighs.

Parker whoops with glee before slapping her hands over her mouth and settling down. If she’s not careful, she might break Alec, who looks like he’s seeing the Second Coming.

“All of it,” Alec repeats reverently. “All. Of. It.”

“Don’t tell anybody,” Eliot warns. “I don’t know who’s in charge these days, but I probably still have clearance.”

Parker squeaks. Alec’s fingers are flying on his keyboard.

“Oh, is it this one?” he asks, killing the movie and projecting his laptop display on the big screen. He drags the cursor and highlights one line of the paaaaages of lists, one for each of Eliot’s valid IDs. “The one that isn’t connected to any of the Alphabets or DoD?” Eliot grunts noncommittally, and Alec starts typing again.

“If he can get us clearance, too, will you take us?” Parker says. “Like, for Christmas?”

“I--what?” Eliot stares at her. Parker opens her mouth to say it all again, but he shakes his head and says, “It’s in the middle of the desert.”

“Aliens!” Parker counters.

“Scientists. The dull, squinty types.”

“A-L-I-E-N-S.”

“Boring.”

“Dude,” Alec mutters. “You seriously think that’s going to put either of us off?”

“I’m being serious,” Eliot says. “It’s the most boring office you’ve ever seen. It’s part of their cover.”

“‘Sok,” Alec says. Parker nods vigorously. “We’ll be boring, too.”

Eliot puts his head down in his hands. Parker leans over and pets him gently.

“Oh,” Alec says to his laptop. “Oh, now hold on just one second--”

Parker knows that tone; it’s the one where things didn’t go exactly as planned, so now they have to wing it. It’s the fun tone (at least she thinks so. She’s not so sure about the other two, but they usually keep going, so it’s not really a big problem.)

Eliot stands back up and heads toward the kitchen, muttering under his breath. Alec is fussing and scowling at the laptop. Parker thinks about putting the movie back on, but then decides she doesn’t really need that crutch. Watching her guys is a hundred times more fun, so she just sits back and reaches for the popcorn.