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Retaliatory Strike

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Eliot opened his eyes.

Yeah, everything still hurt like hell.

He sighed and sat up, intentionally not wincing.

There was a note taped to his wall.

He frowned and walked over, knowing before reading that it was going to involve Parker and Hardison being pains in his ass.

Rules for Eliot Spencer

Hi Eliot. Since you were a stubborn meanface and refused to see a doctor last night, we posted an ad saying that we were hiring doctors to consult on a new tv show about the medical field. We got an application, and we called the doctor and asked what to do about someone who has a bunch of broken ribs and bullet wounds in his arm and leg. The doctor said that this ‘character’ should definitely be in the hospital. Also, he should get bed rest for several weeks and not try to walk or bathe unattended for the first few days. He also recommended some antibiotics, which we stole for you. You’re welcome.

So anyway, until you are better, you will be required to follow these five rules.

Eliot growled. Who did these two idiots think they were? They didn’t get to tell him what to do. He would definitely have to nip this in the bud.

Rule 1. Stay in bed. Get some rest! We will get you anything you need.

Rule 2. No kicking or hitting things until you feel better.

Eliot rolled his eyes. What an impractical rule. They really were dumbasses if they thought he would listen to that.

Rule 3. No walking around. That includes gardening. We’ll take care of your garden until you’re better.

Yeah, right. That’d be a horrific death to his herbs and vegetables. His plants didn’t deserve that kind of cruelty.

Rule 4. That also means no cooking. We’ll cook for you.

Okay, now that was just ridiculous, Eliot thought. Two bullets and a few kicks to the ribs were nothing compared to the torture that eating Hardison’s cooking would be. And Parker’s would be even worse. Eliot shuddered then, remembering the time Parker had made cupcakes. They were hard as a rock, and she had used salt instead of sugar, but that wasn’t even the worst part. She had topped the cupcakes with a frosting made of ground up shrimp mixed with melted white chocolate, since she had thought the pink color would be pretty. He wretched a little at the thought of how it tasted, even though the motion sent a stab of pain through him.

Rule 5. Call us when you want a bath or shower. You have to let us help you. We’ve seen your junk so many times for sex, I really don’t see what the problem is.

Eliot rolled his eyes again. He certainly didn’t need any help to take a shower.

Though, now that he thought of it, he probably did need a shower – he was starting to get a little ripe.

He walked over to his bathroom, stripping his clothes and bandages off and putting them in the hamper, ignoring the pain of the movements. A hot shower would help his sore muscles but be sharp and brutal on his bullet wounds – still, it would help keep everything clean and make him more awake so he could weed his garden and do some stances and reps for exercise. Regardless of what those two pests said.

Eliot stepped into the shower and closed his eyes. He let the water run over him, soaking in the heat and comfort, ignoring the pain.

When he was done, he dried off, put on new bandages, and went to get his clothes.

His t-shirts were exactly where they always here. But… his jeans weren’t. Or his other jeans. Or even his sweatpants. Or the dress pants he used when he was playing a role for a job.


Weirder still, his underwear drawer was empty. No underwear anywhere. He walked over to the hamper and dug in; the dirty underwear he had just put in was also gone, even though his shirt was in exactly the position he had left it at the top of the pile in the hamper.

Okay, that level of thieving expertise at least made it clear which one was responsible.

“Dammit, Parker!” Eliot yelled.

“Hey, Eliot,” Parker said, infuriating smile on her face as she popped her head in the doorway.

“Parker! Where. Are. My. Underwear.”

“Rule 5,” she answered cheerfully.

“I’m not listening to your stupid rules, now give me my jeans and underwear NOW!”

“Nope. You break a rule, you walk around pantsless. That’s how it goes until you’re better.”

Eliot growled. “Don’t test me, Parker.”

She laughed and ran away.

Eliot looked for her but couldn’t find her – thieves are really good escape artists – so he stormed into Hardison’s game room.

“Pants! Now!” Eliot snarled.

Hardison paused his game and looked up. “You want me to take my pants off?”

“Not your pants! My pants! Where are they?”

Hardison laughed. “I don’t know, man. You lost your pants?”

“Parker stole them! Which you know because of your stupid rules!”

“Oh, yeah, Parker and I were serious about those rules, man. But Parker’s in charge of enforcing rules 2 and 5. I’m doing rules 3 and 4. We’re working together for rule 1. Judging by your freshly shampooed hair, I’m guessing you broke rule 5, so that’s between you and her. I don’t know where she put your pants – you know she doesn’t share where she puts her stolen goods.”

Hardison went back to playing his game.

Eliot briefly considered destroying his console but decided that yeah, Parker wouldn’t tell anyone where she had put stolen anything, even underwear, so he might as well wait until he caught sight of her again to get that intel. So he said, “Don’t even think about telling me what to do or I’ll shove those rules where the sun don’t shine, Hardison!”

Hardison just waved.

Eliot needed to calm down. His jackass boyfriend and girlfriend were going to be way worse for him than any bullet.

Gardening. That always calmed him. And besides, Hardison knew he was mad so he wouldn’t do anything too exasperating about it. He wasn’t Parker.

Eliot grabbed two shirts, fashioned a simple skirt for himself, then went to weed the garden, and sure, it hurt, but it was satisfying to leave a nice patch of soil to nurture his peapods and carrots and tomatoes and herbs. His peppers were coming in nicely, too.

He came in and sat down and grabbed his phone to check out some hockey scores.

Instead, a video of two dogs and a rabbit dancing to disco music in an open field popped up. He couldn’t close it no matter what he did.

“Dammit, Hardison!”

He kept trying to look up information, then check his email, but nothing worked. Everything just made the rabbit and dogs video come up.

He tried to text Hardison “I WILL END YOU HARDISON” but instead of going through, the video just popped up again, this time replacing the words of “It’s raining men” replaced with the words “I will end you Hardison.”

Eliot walked to where Hardison was setting the table. “What the hell, Hardison?”

“You brought this on yourself, Eliot. Rule 3.”

Eliot threw his phone in the garbage. “I’ve been months without human contact. You think I can’t go without a smartphone?”

“Actually, the video wasn’t the retaliation. It was the invasion of privacy I used to select that video.”


Hardison smiled. “I know you’ve watched that video with the horse making friends with the dog and sheep like a hundred times. That is so sweet, Eliot. That’s why I chose the rabbit one for you.”

“That’s… I was watching that in case one of our targets sends a dog-horse team after us and – you know what, shut up, Hardison! Don’t hack my phone ever again!”

Hardison looked perplexed. “Dude, I have access to every bit of data that every team member has ever been associated with. Usually I ignore the personal stuff, but this time I didn’t. But this “not hacking” thing you’re talking about? Where is that coming from, man? You do know what year it is, right?”

Eliot managed to not completely lose his temper. But he really needed to calm down.

“Hey, here’s some soup,” Hardison said, getting a bowl from the kitchen.

“I don’t want your molecular gastronomy freeze dried soup, Hardison.”

“No, it’s homemade,” Hardison objected.

Eliot looked skeptical

“Okay,” Hardison said, “I home-made an algorithm that would tell me which restaurants would make a soup that most closely matches your taste.”

“That’s… actually very considerate.”

“See, Rule 4 is working great already.”

“I’m not following any of your stupid rules, Hardison!”

“Okay, sure thing, just eat your soup, you rebel, you.”

“Don’t take that patronizing tone, Hardison.”

Hardison just handed him a spoon.

Eliot rolled his eyes and took a taste.

It… was actually really good.

Just then, Parker burst in. “You didn’t cook that, did you Eliot!?” She strode toward him, eyes blazing, so intent that Eliot had to remind himself not to take a defensive stance.

“Relax, mama, I bought it for him,” Hardison said.

“Oh. Good,” she said. “Just remember, no practicing fighty stuff.”

“I have to keep up my skills, Parker,” Eliot said, eating his soup and trying to ignore them and not get enraged, “And besides, I need to do some drills to calm my mind or I might just tell the nerds trying to boss me around to go to hell.”

“First, Hardison’s a nerd, not me,” Parker said.

“I take that as a compliment,” Hardison said.

Eliot replied, “You would.”

“Second,” Parker said, “If you’re well enough to do fighty fighty practice--”

“Don’t call it fighty fighty practice.”

“—then you’re well enough to have sex.”

Eliot finally looked up from his soup.

“Gentle sex,” Hardison said. “Very, very careful gentle sex.”

Parker frowned. “But he’s supposed to get bed rest. So we’ll just have sex in the bed. That’ll be fine, right? We don’t have to be careful if we’re in the bed.”

“Ummm, “ Hardison said, then looked at Eliot, apparently hoping he’d explain it.

Eliot smiled. “Look, I appreciate that you’re both trying to take care of me. But that’s not me. So I think spending some time in the bedroom sounds like a real fine idea. But you’ve gotta know that I don’t want all this hovering or bossing me around. That’s just not going to stand.” He tried to be as kind but firm as he could. He knew that these two dorks loved him. He just wasn’t about to let anyone – even them – tell him what to do.

Parker and Hardison narrowed their eyes.

“Okay,” Parker said. “Let’s be clear. We’re going to blow your mind in the bedroom and make you get bed rest for the next two weeks. But if you don’t follow the rules, we’re going to not have sex with you for… two days!” She looked over at Hardison to check if that sounded severe enough, and he whispered in her ear. “For six months!” Parker said then.

They folded their arms and stared.

“Six months, man. Is being stubborn and macho really worth six months of celibacy? Six months of rabbit videos, and no pants and no underwear and no sex?” Hardison said. “Wouldn’t it be better to just… heal up so we don’t have to worry about you so much after you almost got killed right in front of us?”

Eliot paused a long time. Then he rolled his eyes. “I hate both of you.”

They apparently didn’t hear him, because they both grinned and hugged him. Parker, shockingly, even remembered to hug him gently.

“Back to bed!” Parker said then, and they each took him by a hand.

Eliot let them lead the way. Only to lull them into false security so he could retaliate when he was better, he promised himself. That was the only reason….