“Hey Parker,” Eliot says, sitting down beside her on the couch while she’s going through the blueprints of the building they’re planning to break into tomorrow morning, “you know how this is going to be your first February with Hardison?”
She takes her attention away from the piles of papers to send Eliot a confused frown.
“No it’s not, we’ve known each other for almost five years. Are you feeling okay?” Parker says and immediately grabs for Eliot’s forehead with the back of her palm the way Sophie does it whenever she thinks one of them has gotten sick - not that Parker ever gets sick but… other people.
Eliot bats away Parker’s hand and follows it up with one of his annoyed glares, she immediately goes to touch his head again just because it’s funny now.
“Stop it, Parker.” Eliot says and Parker cackles. “I meant together. This will be your first Valentine’s Day with Hardison when you’re dating.”
“So?” Parker says, amusement fleeing and attention immediately returning to the table, she suddenly has a feeling this is going to be one of those ‘Parker doesn’t understand something obvious conversations’ and she’d really rather not be looking at Eliot for one of those.
It’s not that they make her feel stupid, she’d have long since bounced from this family if that were the case, it’s just that something in her chest always starts hurting when the team brings up one of these things and looks at her with their eyes all… weird, when she says something wrong back.
Except when it’s Alec, she likes how Alec looks at her more like he’s mad together with her instead of for her.
“I just wanted to make sure you remembered to get something for him. We all know the kid’s going to do something big and romantic and not mind at all if you don’t. But… you should probably get him something.” Eliot says, voice all gruff and pretending like he doesn’t really care either way in a way that just makes it clear that he does.
Sometimes Eliot’s even worse than she is about this mushy friendship stuff.
“Okay.” Parker says but doesn’t look up until Eliot’s patted her shoulder and left with a whispered ‘see you tomorrow’.
Then she quickly grabs the phone from the pocket of her hoodie and immediately googles ‘what to get boyfriend for valentines day’.
The answers prove to be all kinds of useless.
When in doubt, go to Sophie.
She waits until they’re finished with the con she’d been going through those blueprints for, and then grabs Sophie at the first free opportunity.
“Parker!” Sophie exclaims as she’s pulled into Nate’s closet to trip over a pair of his shoes. “What on earth-”
“What should I get Hardison for Valentine’s Day?” Parker says before Sophie can go into a lecture about breaking legs and scaring people to death - as if that’s a thing.
“Oh.” Sophie says stopping in her tracks at once and starting to smile at her like she’s the most adorable thing she’s ever seen in her life. Parker grimaces, maybe she hadn’t thought this all the way through. “Well what do you think he’d want?”
“I don’t know.” Parker says and feels like her teeth are being pulled out alongside the words. She hates not knowing, shouldn’t she know? Alec always seems to know.
“Well, chocolate and flowers are always popular.” Sophie says.
“That’s boring.” Parker says back immediately, not sure she actually believes that but google certainly seemed to. And anyway chocolate is more a her thing than an Alec thing, he seems to like those tiny rich people snacks though so maybe- but no, that’s actually boring.
“Well, Parker, it doesn’t really matter what you get him as long as you do it from your heart.” Sophie says with a smile. “You know that Hardison won’t care what you give him as long as you show him that you put thought behind it.”
She does know. But she also remembers the time he gave her a parachute, and the time he danced with her at the ‘reunion job’, and the picnic where he brought the stars to them, and the million little moments where he showed her that he cared about her and never made her feel like he was mad at her for having to wait.
And she doesn’t know how to do things like that, and yet she wants to do them so that he’d know too.
“Okay.” Parker says even though she’s no closer to figuring out what to do than she was.
“And Parker?” Sophie says, taking her shoulders and looking into her eyes. “I’m proud of you.”
A pleasant warmth blooms inside Parker’s chest that she doesn’t really know what to do with but finds herself not wanting to let go of.
They leave the closet together to be met by the sight of three men eyeing them with scrunched eyebrows.
“Girl talk.“ Sophie says with a toss of her head making her hair do that pretty shampoo commercial thing, and walks past them to take her place by the kitchen table, where Eliot’s cooked them victory dinner.
Eliot started this mess so Parker thinks it’s only fair that he helps her fix it too.
“What are you doing in my apartment Parker? How did you even get in- you know what, never mind. What do you want?” Eliot says the next afternoon.
Getting in had actually been a bit of an exercise, Eliot is very paranoid and in reflection of that his security was rather good. Not Parker good though, then again nothing so far has ever been good enough to stop Parker.
“You’re Hardison’s best friend. What do you think he’d like me to get him?” She says, going straight to the point.
“That’s not how this works.” Eliot says, dropping the groceries in his hands on the table and moving into the living room to look up at her. She’s sitting on top of his wardrobe - though is it still a wardrobe when it’s actually filled with a knife collection?
“Why not?” Parker says, exasperated.
“Because it doesn’t.” Eliot says, crossing his arms.
“Well what do your girlfriends usually get you?” She tries instead.
“I’m not telling you that!” Eliot says and his face seems to go through ten different mini-expressions in half a second, all of them looking like he’s suddenly in pain. Or like he’d like to scrub his brain out with a toothbrush.
Parker scrunches her nose at him. Gross.
“Ugh, boys.” She says and rolls her eyes.
“You could try cooking him dinner or something.” Eliot says, obviously trying to steer the conversation off of himself, and clearly not having thought his words through at all.
“…Okay.” Parker says, grinning wickedly and crouching for a leap from the wardrobe to the windowsill. She didn’t get everything she wanted from this conversation, but this is simply too good of an opportunity to pass up.
She’s already scaling up toward the rooftop when Eliot’s mind looks to have caught up with him. His head hangs out the window showing a face looking suddenly rather panicky.
“Wait Parker! Don’t try cooking him dinner. Parker! Parker!”
Google, Sophie and Eliot have failed her. And she can’t ask Hardison. That leaves Nate.
And Nate is a disaster but he was once married to Maggie, so he must have some actual experience with this. Maybe.
You never know with Nate.
“Hey Nate.” She jumps on the couch beside him while his attention’s focused on whatever it is he’s reading in the newspaper.
“No.” Nate says.
“I just wanna know what I should get-”
“No.” He says again, flipping the paper closed and getting up.
“I’m not getting involved in this.” Nate says and quickly moves across the living room to lock himself in the bedroom.
She falls back onto the couch. Foiled again.
It’s February 10, she has four days till The Day and still no actual plan.
What does Hardison love? There’s his computers. The team. Her, obviously. Playing elves and ogres with his pretend friends. Watching old science fiction shows. His Nana. Lucille 3.0.
Wait! Her mind goes through the list again and she smiles. She needs to get some plane tickets.
“Hey babe!” Hardison says as soon as he walks through the doors and sees her standing nervously in the middle of the room. “What’s up?”
“Today’s Valentine’s Day.” Parker says, hands behind her back and eyes somewhere over his shoulder.
“Yeah, speaking of, I got you someth-”
“Me first.” Parker interrupts and finally looks at him to be greeted by the sight of his eyes going from curious to soft. Her heart starts jumping around like a rabbit late for tea. “Here.”
She pushes two of the tickets she got four days ago into his hands and nervously starts biting her lip.
His eyes scan through the information and stop on something that catches his attention.
“Los Angeles? Parker-”
“I know you miss your Nana, and I thought you’d like to see her. With me. We could go see her together. If you want.” Parker says, rushing through the words more quickly than she’d planned to when she practiced them before.
For a moment he just stares at her and Parker’s suddenly not sure if she chose the right gift after all and then…
“I love you.” Hardison says a smile blooming on his face and infecting Parker with one too. Then he takes her face with the hand not holding the plane tickets and pulls her into a kiss.
For a moment the world is just Hardison and her, all the nerves that have been attacking her for the past two weeks dissolving into nothing, and leaving behind a bubbly sort of happiness she’s still not quite used to but would kill to protect.
“Happy Valentine’s Day.” Parker whispers, eyes still closed when he pulls back to put their foreheads together.
“Happy Valentine’s, Parker.” Hardison says back. “I got you-”
“I stole you a Dalek too.” She says.
“I wasn’t sure if getting us tickets to your Nana counted as a gift exactly so when I said I wanted to go check out the new security at London National Gallery a few days ago I lied, I actually went to Cardiff. I stole you a Dalek.”
“Oh.” Hardison says, voice suddenly high and choked up. She finally opens her eyes to see his are already jumping around the room, looking for his other gift. She grins, pleased with herself.
“I put it in the closet.” She says and receives a quick peck to her lips before he’s gone.
She finds him with his arms around the Dalek and a cheek pressed against one of the bubble looking things.
She doesn’t know what Alec got her yet but she’s still suddenly sure that she wins this Valentine’s.