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The Opposite of Eating Your Feelings

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After their crew went from five to three, Hardison didn't consider all the ways it would change things. The big things, like taking orders from Parker, those came easy. He trusted her with his life and his heart. He didn't anticipate that they'd spend less time with each other when they were running a job because they had fewer sets of hands to keep all the plates spinning.

Eliot liked to point out when Hardison missed a small but vital piece of the puzzle. It was just that he usually he did it with a lot of yelling and finger-pointing. Literal finger-pointing right in Hardison's face like Gordon Ramsay or something. No, this time Eliot pointed it out with a sandwich.

"What are you doing here?" Hardison asked when Eliot opened the door on Lucille 4.0, entering his lair. "Aren't you running surveillance on Dawson?"

"The man has a sweet tooth worse than yours. He's at the dentist getting a bunch of cavities filled, so I had a few hours to kill," Eliot said and handed him a brown bag.

"What's this?"

"I made that stupid thing you like," Eliot said. He lifted his chin and muttered a goodbye and was out the door again.

Hardison opened the bag and found the Philly cheesesteak of his dreams. He texted Eliot his favorite happy emojis, and then crammed that sweet sandwich in his face.

About an hour later when he was checking in with Parker, she said, "Eliot brought me those black noodles that make me feel things."

"I'd argue that the man has too much time on his hands, but I'm unwilling to deprive myself of delicious snacks," Hardison said. It didn't really come together until Hardison and Parker found Eliot in their loft when the job was over. He was in the kitchen plating something that smelled heavenly. Hardison had been angling for date night, but gave up immediately because Parker was already sitting at the dinner table gleefully clutching a fork.

"What's all this?" Hardison asked.

Eliot shrugged. "Family dinner night. I thought it'd be nice."

Hardison threw back his head and held out his hands. "Give me a plate of whatever that is before I hug you."

Eliot handed Hardison a plate and didn't let go of it for a moment to eyeball him. "Hug me and I will punch you in the face."

"You know violence gives me indigestion," Hardison said as he grabbed a plate for Parker.

Family dinner night was nice. They ate everything that Eliot made and then demanded snacks for the beers they brought out afterward. Eliot smiled three times and loaded up the dishwasher before he left.

Hardison collapsed onto the couch next to Parker and patted his food baby. "Do you think Eliot's lonely?"

Parker blinked at him. "Why would he be lonely? He has us."

"Yeah, but we're an us and he's not."

Parker stared at him for a long time, so long that Hardison had to check over his shoulder. When he turned back around, Parker put her hands on his face. "There's something I've been meaning to talk to you about."

Hardison tried not to panic. "What is it, baby?"

"I've been avoiding it because I don't like talking about my feelings," Parker said.

"I should warn you that my anxiety over what you're about to say is increasing exponentially the longer you stall," Hardison said.

Parker frowned and took her hands back. "Exponential. That's the one that looks like a hockey stick?"

Hardison made an agitated keening noise.

"I think Eliot should be our boyfriend," Parker said.

Hardison blinked hard. "That was not what I was expecting you to say."

"I've been thinking about it for a while. It just feels right."

Hardison's entire brain was exploding and rearranging itself into new possibilities. "Girl, is that why you insisted on the California King?"

Parker nodded. She didn't look guilty, just pleased with herself.

"Why would you even think that I'd be interested --"

Parker laughed in his face. Hardison honestly thought he'd hidden it better than that, but it was impossible not to stare at Eliot's biceps when he wore T-shirts that tight. And Eliot was just the right size for cuddles. Hardison liked cuddles.

"Okay, then. Why do you think he'd be interested?"

Parker squinted at him. "Usually I'm the one who has to call Sophie to work things through."

"Okay, just because he'd do anything to keep us safe and he keeps making delicious things for us to eat doesn't mean -- oh, my god," Hardison said, and maybe did some jazz hands, whatever, Parker had seen him do worse. Eliot loved them.

The thought of having Eliot around all the time to tease and touch was doing things to Hardison's heart. He'd spent years dying to know everything about the dude. He hadn't thought waking up next to Parker and Eliot every day was an option.

"You sure this will work?"

Parker nodded. "I'm sure."

"Let's do this," Hardison said. Parker clapped her hands and bowled him over on the couch.

They tried to be subtle by inviting Eliot over for movies and pizza, but they gave themselves away by exchanging too many significant looks.

"What the hell is wrong with you two?" Eliot asked when Parker tried to nudge Hardison with her elbow and ended up knocking him off the couch.

"Just tell him," Hardison said as he picked himself off the floor.

"We think you should move in with us so we can have sex with you," Parker said.

Eliot stared them down. "Seriously?"

Nervous, Hardison opened his mouth to deny it, but Parker acted first and grabbed Eliot's hand.

"Seriously," she said.

Hardison took his other hand. "Seriously, man."

Eliot's face went soft. "If you're fucking with me, they'll never find your bodies."

Parker threw up her arms in victory.

"Roshambo for who gets to kiss him first?" Hardison asked.

Eliot complained loudly while they did best of three. Parker won.