For Eliot and Hardison, it seems like just a word, a word they’ve heard their whole lives, in a million different contexts. Growing up, in the military, in the online world. It’s normal, for them.
But Parker doesn’t like it.
It takes a while for her to say anything, which means she listened to it–about herself and other things–for years before she even spoke up. When she does say something, it’s accompanied with a seemingly sudden outburst of screaming, disappearing out a window, and not coming home for three days. When she gets back, Eliot and Hardison are very easily resolved–the word is gone.
They slip up from time to time. Hardison is better at catching slip-ups–”Girl, you know that’s crazy” becomes “Girl, you know that’s cr-creative” partway through, because that’s what they mean, that her brain is creative and sees things they’d miss, and it’s amazing, and Hardison wants her to know it.
Eliot’s not as good, makes more slip ups, despite how hard he’s tried. The word is long since ingrained now, though he works his absolute hardest at it and makes fewer and fewer slip ups over the weeks and months, until he’s down to practically nothing. He mends the mistakes he does make with words as careful and assuring as he can make them, and whatever food Parker wants in whatever excessive quantity she wants it, and sometimes liberal applications of cold, hard cash, and a promise to himself that he’ll do better. It works.
They both get better, and the word and everything that relates to it fades out of their vocabulary. Parker is happier. To tell the truth, they are all happier. Making sure Parker is happy and nothing is upsetting her, making sure nothing is making her feel bad because she has nothing to feel bad about, is important to Hardison and Eliot.
Of course, just because they’ve learnt doesn’t mean everyone else has.
“That crazy bitch!” yells the thief attempting to rob the brewpub as he recovers from Parker’s taser.
Eliot and Hardison exchange glances as soon as they seen the shut down look on Parker’s face that she always gets when confronted with that word, the look they should have been able to recognize long before they did. Hardison pulls out his phone, set on ruining the man. Eliot cracks his knuckles.
“Buddy, you are gonna regret that,” he promises lowly, stepping towards the thief as he says it.
Parker doesn’t like being called crazy, and she deserves to have things exactly how she wants them particularly when it comes to what words are used about her and around her. Hardison and Eliot can change their own vocabulary, their own attitudes. As for everyone else…well, they can help them learn that’s not okay to say.