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Parkers steals their clothes.

She’s always done it, right from the start, which surprised exactly no one, because, well, thief. Crazy thief. Crazy thief who might be secretly plotting to kill you.

(Alec feels guilty when he remembers thinking that. Eliot doesn’t, but he finds enough other reasons to feel bad.)

But the point is: Clothes. Stolen. By Parker. It’s a thing.

She used to do it to stay in practice. Well. They think.

(How many items of clothing can someone steal right off someone else’s body without that someone else noticing? Well, if the someone is Parker, and the someone else is Alec, it turns out it’s a lot. An no, none of them are ever going to let Alec live that one down.)

She also did it to mess with them. They think.

(Clothes will go missing. That’s just a fact about their offices. Anything you take off will probably not be where you left it when you want to put it back on again. You might find it one chair to the left, or on the table in the other room, or on top of the fridge. Or it might just vanish, and turn up in your own apartment a few weeks later. It’s a gamble, is the main thing to remember, so strip at your own risk.) 

And then things got more complicated. That, they definitely know.

(Because things happened, things got messy, some things broke, and when they finally got the main things more or less under control with their metaphorical duct tape and string, they looked up only to realize that they’d somehow ended up taped together and tied to each other.)

Eventually, the clothes stopped reappearing.

(And, well, yeah, theoretically each of them could have bought up all the clothes in the city without pitting much of a dent in their funds. But some clothes just aren’t replaceable. That old sweater that you’ve had for years, and that’s baggy in all the right places? That leather jacket that you’ve just broken in? That pair of jeans that’s practically a miracle, because it hugs your curves and smoothes your lines and stretches just the way you need it to? Would you be willing to give those up without a fight? Exactly.)

So Alec sewed trackers into his, one after the other, and thanked his Nana for making sure he know how to use a needle and thread. She was thinking of buttons and maybe zippers, but the best knowledge is always adaptable knowledge. He finally found his favorite hoodie in one of the air ducts, along with one of Eliot’s headbands, a dress that had to be Sophie’s, and a jacket that looked like it belonged to Nate. It wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it wasn’t exactly not one, either.

(What any of them would consider surprising is usually vastly different from what most people would consider surprising. Like, there aren’t just oceans between the two concepts, there’s interstellar space. But sometimes, especially in situations that don’t involve money or crime, well. Some things aren’t that different after all.)

And Parker completely refused to surrender any of her loot. 

“Do you know what air vents do? They move air. It gets cold up there!”

Well, that made sense, at least in the way that Parker was starting to make sense to him. He traded her one worn hoodie for the other. And the never said anything to anyone, but both he and Eliot started wearing and losing a lot of scarves and hats and general winter clothes.

(Sometimes some of those still reappear on top of the fridge – a different fridge, now – in a sort of nostalgic way. Probably in part because air ducts are generally kind of small, and don’t come with closet space. So you develop a recycling process.)

And then, well. There was… more change. Some of that change happened to them, and some of it they chose to make happen, and on the other end of all that, well. Their relationship suddenly involved a much greater absence of clothes.

(Parker wouldn’t put it like that. Alec would put it exactly like that, and Eliot would acquiesce to putting it like that because he wouldn’t want to have to think of another way to put it.)

Anyway. With that came a certain degree of What’s mine is yours. With the addendum of Because if you want it, you’ll just take it anyway. And the definitely unspoken subtext of And I trust you to understand what not to take.

That doesn’t mean they don’t bicker over who has what when, mainly because nothing in the world could stop them from bickering. But it does mean that on days when she feels like wearing loose clothing, Parker can slip into some of theirs, and it’s just a thing, like all their things. Alec can grab one of Eliot’s t-shirts if he runs out. (Eliot has a supply of shirts that’s technically not actually infinite, what with all those pesky rules of reality still applying, but that does a damn good job of acting like it is.) And sometimes, when it’s cold, Eliot can sneak on one of Alec’s hoodies. (Though not often, because style, man. Seriously.)

What it also means is that Parker simply taking their clothes can’t really be called stealing anymore.

(The rest of this shouldn’t need saying, because, well, thief. Clothes. Stolen by Parker. It’s a thing, and always will be.)

So she plans it well. Or maybe she acts on instinct in the spur of the moment. Who knows?

What they do know is that she waits for the perfect moment – or rather, doesn’t wait. While Alec and Eliot are still trying to catch their breath, and maybe figure out where they are and what cloud they fell from, Parker’s already jumped out of bed. And while Alec and Eliot try to untangle themselves from each other – or rather, pretend to, while really trying to at least sneak a cuddle with someone – Parker snatches up whatever she wants from the bedroom floor.

And that’s why, when Tara drops by for a surprise visit, a cackling Parker opens the door, while Alec and Eliot have only one pair of boxers and one improvised loincloth between them, and are fighting over a nightgown.

The sad thing is, this isn’t the first time this’s happened.

(And by sad, of course, we mean beautiful.)