The most infuriating thing is that Eliot knows it's his fault and nobody else's, because it's his job to make sure they don't end up in situations like this. But be as may, they're here: he and Parker, trapped on the edge of the cliff, and Hardison loud and terrified in the car below and in their earbuds, and men with guns close on their heels - too many of them, and way too close, and there's nowhere to hide or ambush to run.
If it was a river below, he'd risk a jump, but there's not, and they're not going to make it down with people shooting from above. The cliff is sheer enough so it's unclear if they could make it down regardless, but Parker will have a chance, maybe, if he gives it to her.
A slight chance, no more, but better a sliver of it for Parker alone than none at all for both of them.
"Darling," he says, "climb it down, get to Hardison. I'll clean it up and follow."
Parker looks at him sharply, and he swallows a prepared speech about how it's going to be easy and quick and stares back instead, lies with his eyes and hands and body best he can. She always trusts him, for all the important things, and he counts on this truth and uses it, furiously glad to be able to pull this last lie off, and so she kisses him, light, and disappears over the edge.
He lets it go. If anybody can do it, Parker can; and he, comfortingly, won't have an opportunity to find out. The goons are already here, and he exhales, flicks the earbud out, gives them his best at ease smile and gets to work.
Everything is too quick, too slow. He drops the first two, gets an advantage on the third, catches a bullet in his thigh from the fourth, nails the fifth anyway, but they're driving him back to the edge, and he need to get her just a bit more time, just - a bit -
He staggers back from the second bullet, feels the emptiness yawning behind him, and then there's a shadow and a gust of wind, and stunned disbelief on the remaining goons' faces - and two rail-thin, strong arms closing around him and yanking him into the air.
Nothing makes sense, but he relaxes into the hold anyway, holding it, because the arms are Parker, and they're plummeting, except they're not not. There are gray feathers at the edge of his vision, great unfurled banners - great wings, Jesus Christ - and above him Parker is shouting furiously, words snatched away by the wind, lies and kill you and hold on, and holy mother of God, Parker can fly.
Not that he ever doubted.
Down below, Hardison hugs the both, mindless of Parker's wings - wings! - at first and then shouts at them, and helps Eliot stem the blood, and all the while Parker's wings are just there, a grandiose wingspan, enough to cover them both with a softly rippling dome of feathers, and Eliot just can't help staring.
Parker says, "So... I can sort of do that."
Hardison says, "Babe, why didn't you say? This is so, so, this is so amazingly cool, holy shit, I can't believe you never shown us this."
"You don't - you don't think it's weird?"
Eliot's lightheaded now, blood loss and exhilaration of flight catching up to him, but stretches his hand out, touches the feathers with half-forgotten reverence. Says, "It's maybe the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, darling," and watches the fading sunlight through the shimmery grey.