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Friendly Misdirection

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"We should have sex," says Parker.

Eliot keeps walking down the street, says nothing. It's morning, he's going jogging, and if he ignores her, Parker might go away.

Parker jogs beside him, keeping perfect time. She doesn't say anything else as they run though, and after twenty minutes, Eliot decides that was just Parker's version of making conversation.

Except, when they slow down and then stretch, she follows him back to his apartment and stays right on his heels when he heads for the shower. He turns around and crosses his arms, leaning on the bathroom door. "You shower after me."

"You want to get clean before we have sex?" Her face is screwed up tight in that way it gets when you talk about human things, like feelings or pets or food. "I read that sex is supposed to be dirty."

Eliot's brain suffers a temporary short, and he asks, "Haven't you had sex before?" He doesn't want to know, please, God, let her ignore the question, because it will do things to him if he knows he could be the first to have sex with her except that Hardison has absolutely, one hundred percent, unequivocally staked his claim.

She does answer, but only by waving her hand at him dismissively before taking off her shirt. "I need to be good at sex before I can be Hardison's girlfriend," she says. She reaches for her pants and he grabs her hand reflexively.

"No. I—. You—. Hardison!" he shouts. He points at her and says, "Put your shirt on," and pulls out his phone to call the man in question.

Twenty minutes later he still smells like hell, the French toast smells divine, and Hardison is walking through his front door like Eliot forgot to lock it.

Parker is perched on the back of his couch, wearing one of his t-shirts and a pair of his boxers. Her hair is dripping around her shoulders, and he congratulates himself on handing her a black t-shirt instead of a white one.

"You know," says Hardison, digging into the bacon, "if you feed me like this every time, I'm going to keep encouraging your interpersonal crises, Eliot."

The wording wouldn't have tipped him off by itself, but Parker's smirk into her orange juice gives the game away. Eliot thinks about bourbon, but it just doesn't work with French toast. He gets a split from the standalone wine cellar in the back corner of his pantry and pours half of it in a flute.

"You're not going to share the mimosas with the rest of the class?" asks Hardison, shaking his head and effecting severe disappointment.

"No," says Eliot, shortly. There will be no mimosas; Parker's finishing off the orange juice. "What sort of con are you trying to pull?" And why are you trying to pull it on team?, he thinks, but doesn't say.

Parker rolls her eyes and says, "Con's such a hard word." There's syrup on her lips, and she licks at them.

Eliot swallows and redirects his gaze to Hardison. Hardison looks good this morning: long-sleeved t-shirt that's a little tighter than usual, and his skin is just a little…shiny. He's got a thumb working the handle of his coffee mug; it's an over-sized mug, and Hardison's hand makes it look like a teacup. "Ain't nothing criminal, man. She wants to sleep with you."

Eliot drinks all of his champagne and closes his eyes. "You good with that, Hardison? You planning to watch?"

Hardison clears his throat and says, "I want to sleep with you."

Eliot slits his eyes open and takes a peek. Hardison's stretched out and fake-relaxed, one hand playing with Parker's hair, but there's a faint maroon flush on the side of his neck and his free hand is silently drumming the tabletop.

Eliot opens his eyes, deliberately runs his fingers along the stem of his glass. "You couldn't just ask?"

"I, uh—."

"He's a little bit scared of you," Parker says. "He likes that." She grins. "If I talk about you and a knife when he—,"

"Oversharing, Parker." Hardison cut his eyes at her and his free hand clenches up.

Eliot smiles, makes sure to show too many teeth. "You know the thing I like best about this apartment?"

"Restaurant quality kitchen?"

"Skylight access?"

Eliot lets his smile soften a little, shines it up with a bit of 'aw shucks.' "Shower's big enough for three."