Parker notices things. People don’t always realize she does, but she always notices things.
She notices how often Hardison touches his chin or how twitchy he gets is directly proportional to how long he’s been away from a keyboard. She notices the way Eliot moves between them at every little noise, always protective.
She notices Eliot’s hair.
Everyone notices Eliot’s hair. It’s long and pretty and no hitter beside Eliot has hair like that. People think it’s a vanity thing, that it’s so pretty that Eliot just can’t get rid of it. Or else they think Eliot is so overconfident that they’re making a statement with it, that they can win a fight even with the hair.
People are stupid. Eliot never does anything except for practical reasons, even if what Eliot would consider practical may be different than everyone else.
Eliot’s hair is important and Parker realizes, at one point, that even Eliot doesn’t really understand why.
Eliot wears their hair depending on how they’re feeling that day. Sometimes it’s girl hair—feminine, Hardison had told her that word once—sometimes it’s boy hair—masculine—sometimes it’s neither. Sometimes Eliot manages to mix them together.
The hair is a better indication than clothes, than behavior, than everything but Eliot flat-out telling them, which they pretty much never do because they’re still shy, even though Parker and Hardison try to show Eliot that they don’t have to worry. Parker knows, nine times out of then, and she can clue Hardison in, and they can just be there for Eliot, even if Eliot is still being shy.
Hardison’s picked up the clues by now too, after Parker explained them to him and made him watch. Now they both know, most of the time.
She understood Eliot and their hair and what it meant far before she and Hardison managed to convince Eliot they wanted them in bed and everywhere else in their lives, the three of them, together. But after they make Eliot theirs and make the three of them a them, things are different. Eliot doesn’t mind when she and Hardison get close, doesn’t twitch and look weird anymore.
So she goes behind them in the bathroom one morning, dragging Hardison behind her by the hand, standing what Eliot used to consider too close. They’re looking into the mirror, contemplating their hair.
“Can we help?” she chirps. Hardison looks at her, confused, but she doesn’t look back.
Eliot shakes their head. “You wanna…help? Just fixin’ my hair.”
She nods, though, so Eliot sighs. “Sure, whatever. You can help.”
Parker grins and reaches for the brush, running it through Eliot’s hair. Eliot’s eyes close, briefly. Hardison brushes his teeth while she and Eliot focus on Eliot’s hair, but he’s watching the who of them the whole time.
She sets the brush down. “What do you want to do with it?” she asks. She thinks she knows, or at least can guess what type of day it is, what type of hair day it will be, but she needs to hear Eliot say it.
Eliot shrugs. “Was gonna braid it,” they say. “With the, uh, beads. It’ll take a while; thanks for brushing it.”
She points to the closed toilet. “Sit down and we’ll do it,” she says.
Surprising both of them, Hardison nods over Eliot’s protests. “Got nothin’ but time,” he says. “Let us help?”
Eliot raises an eyebrow. “Do you know how?”
Hardison grins and shrugs. “Guess we’ll find out.”
Eliot sighs deeply but sits and lets them touch their hair.
Hardison’s attempts at braiding turn out pretty decent, and Parker thinks they should all do this more often.