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Theory and Practice

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To have a successful relationship, some rules needed to be repeatedly and overtly enforced. Trust was important, as was the ability to count on one's partners to respect one's boundaries. There were some things that those who loved you just shouldn't do.

“It-It's about integrity, man,” Hardison insisted. Again. “It's about purity and keeping realistic expectations. It's—”

Eliot lowered the glossy magazine he'd been perusing and hit Hardison with a glare over the top edge. “It's just a magazine.” He glanced at the front cover and scowled in disdain. “And not even a particularly good one. How can you read this crap?”

Hardison dumped the box he'd been carrying onto the table and crossed his arms. While he generally didn't care what Eliot thought of his interests, he did care about what Eliot might say. Especially in this case. “Knowledge is power, man. You know that. 'Cept this time the knowledge has to wait until we done with this mission and I can properly devote myself to my studies, and I would appreciate it if you'd get that magazine out of my sight.”

“Why?” Parker asked, looking up from where she sat on the floor. Her climbing rig was spread around her, and while Eliot read and mentally prepared himself, she'd been checking over her gear in preparation for her part. Tilting her head, she took in what Eliot was holding and Hardison's posture and caught herself up on the conversation in her own unique way. “Oh! Are we talking about the thing? I want to talk about the thing. I heard—”

Hardison slapped his hands over his ears. “I can't hear you! La, la, la...”

Except, he could hear Eliot just fine when he slammed the magazine down onto the coffee table and said, “It's a movie, dammit, not a state secret. Anyone with $10 and a couple hours to kill can go see it. You can't expect people to stop talking about what they saw just because you were too busy to be one of them.”

With a sharp gasp Hardison registered his scandalization. “A movie? A movie?! Star Wars is not just 'a movie.'” And, as soon as he had a couple hours to spare, he'd definitely go to see it. In fact, he expected to need a day to spare as he planned to see it several times. The illegal download he had was for after he got the big screen experience. “Just because I had to actually save the world instead of getting to opening night does not, I repeat does not, make it OK for you to discuss things that could be—” He choked up, unable to adequately express his outrage.

Parker watched him for a moment, waiting to see if he was going to find his words again. When he didn't, she finally inquired, “Spoilers?”

Hardison thrust his finger at her and nodded his confirmation while fighting back tears. She was starting to get it! A little more work and maybe Eliot would understand, too.

Though he wasn't there yet, he was at least willing to play along. Eliot stood up, rolling the magazine and sticking it out-of-sight in his back pocket. “Fine,” he groused, “it's not like I care what happens to Spock, anyway. I'm going to grab a snack before we head out.”

As he brushed past a sputtering Hardison on his way to the kitchen, Eliot threw him a wink and drew his pinched fingers across his lips in the sign of zippering his mouth. And that was all Hardison needed to know their relationship was on the right track.