Work Header


Work Text:

They have nothing to do for a change. No downtrodden masses crying out for the sort of justice only they could provide. So there are no plans to be made, no practising to be done, no information to be hounded out of the many and varied computer networks of the world.

They could be off doing their own thing, having their own fascinating lives.

Instead they seem to have all drifted to Nate, possibly on a whim, or because they have nothing better to do. Or, in some cases, because that's where the dramatic displays of multiple widescreen television goodness currently were.

Sophie's taking advantage of that fact, and so is Eliot.

Hardison's taking advantage of it in-between doing things on the internet which Sophie is only going to ask about if she gets very bored, or very curious. Or if something explodes. It's always good to not only have priorities but to know which order they're in.

Parker is making a series of complicated, and possibly imaginary, measurements over by the window. Which Sophie isn't entirely sure she wants to ask about. Just in case it involves something horrible. She's always thought that Parker's flights of fancy might be better off remaining in her head for the good of everyone.

Nate is...somewhere, at least he had been a minute ago. Glaring at them all- oh not a real glare, something more of a gentle simmer- complaining about how they had nowhere else to be.

Sophie rather thought that was more true than he thought.

At least nowhere they could be their own socially awkward kleptomaniac selves without people looking at them funny.

"I'm just saying we have the skills and the intelligence to get in pretty much anywhere, get in, get out," Hardison says, with all the certainty of youth.

Sophie shakes her head, makes a noise of experience, or at least that's how she likes to think of it.

"There's always the unexpected. You have to plan for the unexpected. Whether it's five minutes from the beginning of a job or five minutes from the end of it. A last minute change of travel plans, a familiar face, a language you don't speak. All of which you have to deal with on the spur of the moment. You just can't have a concrete plan with no flexibility. And one day there'll be some sort of unexpected evil in an area we have no expertise, no way to penetrate, no ability to slip in an inside man." She makes a gesture that Hardison raises an amused eyebrow at.

"I think we're prepared for pretty much anything," Hardison says through a nod.

Sophie briefly eyes the many and varied TV screens for something that would pose a significant challenge, and finds it.

"There could be a ballet," she decides.

"What's evil about ballet?"

"Clearly you've never been to a ballet," Sophie tells him and shakes her head. "It's loud, brutally competitive, hot, rushed, and most of the ballerinas spend their dancing lives poor, exhausted and hungry. Even the ones that headline. You can be a swan one minute and in the background dancing nine hours a day the next."

Sophie interrupts the tragic story with crunching; then retrieves another chip and stabs it in Hardison's direction.

"That's before all their bones and tendons start to deteriorate, due to repeated over-use, leading to horrible crippled middle age, longing for the days when they could jete the day away."

Hardison has stopped typing.

Sophie nods. "I'm telling you it's just a matter of time before one of them snaps, and starts - I don't know - murdering and eating her rivals or something appropriately gruesome."

"A ring of cannibalistic ballet dancers?" Hardison says dubiously over the top of his computer.

Sophie points a chip at him. "Yes, exactly, that's exactly right. And Eliot would have to go undercover into their dark and misunderstood world." Sophie pauses to eat the chip she'd been gesturing with.

Eliot's lost interest in the TV in favour of glaring at her.

"What the hell do I know about ballet?"

Sophie shrugs elegantly.

"Nothing, I just think I'd enjoy watching you fight in tights." She crunches to cover the expression that thought makes her face slip into.

Eliot's own new and interesting expression tells her that he's clearly offended by whatever's going on in her brain.

"That's not going to happen," Eliot decides, possibly on the spur of the moment. Sophie can't really imagine that the thought had ever occurred to him.

"It's hard to be manly when you're wearing a leotard," Sophie allows.

"I never said I couldn't."

"Awh, Eliot, I know. I have faith in your ability to be scary while dressed like a fairy princess."

"Who's dressed like a fairy princess?" Parker demands, she's been drawn towards them, though Sophie couldn't honestly have said whether it was the smell of chips or the possibility of amusement in the form of Eliot in a leotard.

"Eliot," Hardison tells her, in a way that's obviously enjoying this a little too much.

Parker's clearly annoyed that no one told her this before.

"I was never dressed like a fairy princess," Eliot says fiercely. Maybe in case anyone got any ideas.

Sophie eats another chip.

"It's just a matter of time Eliot."

"They'd make you put your hair in a bun you know," Parker tells him seriously. "I don't think it would suit you."

"And that's before they eat you," Hardison adds absently.

Nate appears behind them all, with a paper and coffee.

"What on earth are you all talking about?"

"Cannibal ballerinas," Parker tells him with far too much relish.

Nate's expression proves that that really didn't help at all. Maybe, one day, he'll eventually lose that expression of bewildered suspicion. But Sophie sort of hopes not.

Eliot turns around and drapes himself over the back of the couch.

"Promise we'll never do a job involving ballet," he says fiercely.

Nate shoots a questioning look first at Eliot's angry face and then at everyone else.

"We'll never do a job involving ballet," Nate tells him over the top of the paper. Though there's an air of uncertainty about the statement. A 'you'll tell me why we're never doing a job with ballet later, I assume?'

Parker and Hardison are whispering, possibly about cannibalistic ballerinas? It's amazing where conversational tangents can take you.

Sophie doesn't catch the beginning of the conversation, but she catches the end.

"Weird isn't always bad," Parker tells him. "Sometimes weird is funny."

Hardison raises an eyebrow at her, in a way that seems to be continually surprised by how deep the vein of diamond crazy in Parker actually runs. But Sophie sort of thinks he's too far gone to care. She shuffles along the couch, dragging her chips with her. In case Nate wants to sit down.

"Oh, we left you some coffee," Hardison tells him.

Nate manages to scowl at all of them, like they're disobedient children who are all taking advantage of him. Which maybe isn't so terribly far from the truth.

"Why thank you, since this is my place and you've all apparently moved in."

"It does make an excellent base of operations," Hardison allows.

"I like the windows," Parker provides when some sort of opinion seems necessary.

"This place is starting to feel like a hotel," Nate complains, mostly to the back of Eliot's head.

"Or a commune only without all the unsavoury sex and mind control," Sophie suggests. "Not that it wouldn't be fun with them," she adds around a mouthful of chips.

Eliot gives her a look.

She shrugs, admitting to her shamelessness without shame.

Eliot's distracted by Parker, who's much closer and more intent than she was a moment ago.

Sophie really doesn't blame Eliot for being unsettled. Parker is kind of scary when she's focused.

"What?" Eliot demands.

"I'm still picturing you in a leotard," Parker says seriously, and Sophie most definitely doesn't laugh, not even a little bit.

Eliot glares at her.

"A pink one."

Hardison pulls a face.

"Aw, dude, now I'm picturing you in a leotard and I can't turn it off."

"It's like a virus, a terrible virus," Parker agrees.

Sophie laughs then, unattractively, there are bits of chip everywhere. Nate still looks like he desperately wants someone to tell him what's going on.

"Do you want to go out the window?" Eliot's voice is conversational, though his hair looks quite angry.

Hardison shakes his head and then points a finger at him

"I don't know if I can take you seriously now, it's like my whole world is ever so slightly wrong."

"It's that episode of the twilight zone where everyone was evil," Sophie offers. "With the little evil double beards and the scary children."

"You," Eliot finger-points at her. "This is all your fault." He leans forward far enough to steal Sophie's chips.


"Eliot," Nate says sharply.

Eliot scowls but sinks back into the couch. He doesn’t give them back though.

Sophie thinks Eliot secretly likes being told what to do, and Nate secretly likes telling him what to do. It will be a sad, sad shame if that doesn't end somewhere naked and sweaty. Because that's the sort of art that Sophie can appreciate.

She wonders what she'd have to do to bribe Hardison into providing surveillance?

Nate gives her a suspicious look, he always seems to know when she's thinking something dubious.

She smiles back at him.

He'll quietly fret about it later.