Languages are hard.
Or at least, that’s what Hardison learned after being around Eliot.
He always thought it was cool how Eliot knew so many languages and how Parker knew Spanish, and he was always aware that it must have been difficult learning all of those languages since he felt like he barely knew any of the high school Mandarin he learned. But it wasn’t until they got to know each other -- like, really got to know each -- that he realized this whole language thing had more layers to it than he expected.
Parker didn’t notice. She thought it was normal, most likely because it was normal, for her, at least. But for him, it only took a few slip-ups here and there for him to realize that Eliot’s silent and brooding demeanor was one part intimidation, one part who he was, and one part him not wanting to accidentally misspeak because it happened more often than Hardison would’ve expected. When he first noticed it, he was surprised to see Eliot actually trying to cover up his embarrassed and flustered state, which then caused him to snap at him, but by that point, Hardison had already learned that most of Eliot’s supposed anger towards him lacked any real heat. And when the three of them finally got together, these little slip-ups only got even more endearing.
Still, it didn’t stop him from poking fun at Eliot on occasion.
Hardison looked up from his laptop to see Eliot headed towards him, a frown on his face, but that wasn’t exactly uncommon.
“Have you seen the thing?”
Hardison’s brow furrowed. “The Thing? Like, the movie?”
“No, I mean the thing,” Eliot repeated. “The thing in the bathroom.”
“Uhhh...you’re gonna have to be a little more specific than that.”
Eliot growled when he saw that Hardison was still confused. “You know, the thing. The thing!” He began pinching his fingers together. “The this thing!”
“Scissors? Chopsticks? Tongs? Safety pin?”
“What? No!” Eliot ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. “Why would chopsticks be in the bathroom in the first place?”
Hardison shrugged causing Eliot to roll his eyes.
“God, what the hell is the word in English?” he grumbled to himself.
Hardison shook his head. “Look, just say it in whatever language you remember it in and I’ll translate it, okay?”
He held out his phone for Eliot to speak into, but only got a glare. He knew how Eliot felt about these automatic translators, but they did serve their purpose occasionally. He gave the phone a little wiggle, making it dance as he smiled, before Eliot finally sighed, grabbed the phone, and spoke into it.
A ding was heard.
“Tweezers,” came the robotic voice.
“Tweezers!” cried Eliot, throwing his hands up. He patted Hardison’s shoulder. “Tweezers! Yes! Thank you. That’s the word. Tweezers!”
Hardison grinned, glad to be of assistance, but his expression soon shifted back to confusion when he saw Eliot walk off again.
“Wait, hey, didn’t you wanna know-” The sound of a door closing cut him off. “Okay then. Fine. Guess you don’t wanna know where the tweezers are after all.”
The two of them shared a wide-eyed and sheepish look before pretending to ignore the ire in Eliot’s voice as he stomped into the room. Both of them tried to look pensive as they continued watching the movie on the screen, but Eliot moved to stand between them and the tv, arms crossed as he stared both of them down.
“Which one of you did it?”
“Did what?” Parker asked innocently.
“Yeah,” added Hardison. “Did what?”
Eliot grumbled and sighed. “Don’t lie to me. Where are they? What happened to the macarons?”
“Macaroons? Oh, you mean the little cookies?” Hardison chuckled and shook his head, trying to act casual. “No idea. None at all. We’ve been watching this movie the entire time.”
Hardison pointed at the screen to prove his point, but Eliot didn’t turn around. Instead, his attention shifted to Parker, who grinned widely. Eliot still looked rightfully pissed, but Hardison could see his frown lessen ever so slightly and knew he wasn’t as angry about this as he appeared.
“Yup! That’s it. That’s what we’ve been doing,” Parker chirped in. “Just watching this movie here.”
Eliot grumbled in frustration again, throwing his hands up. “Dammit, y’all! They were supposed to be for all of us! Do you have any idea how hard it was to make them?!”
“Hey, man, calm down. We’re sorry. We didn’t mean to-”
“I got chocolates from that one Belgian chocolate maker that Parker likes in Bruges. I got Dekopons shipped overnight for you. You think I’d settle for cheap whisky for my whisky caramel? Hardison, it wasn’t just hard to make these! I actually paid money for ingredients and I didn’t get to taste a single one!”
Parker opened her mouth to try and apologize, but Eliot cut her off with a growl as he ran his fingers through his hair and began pacing the room.
“I swear, one day, I’m gonna show y’all where crawfish hibernate,” he muttered to himself.
“Where crawfish what?”
Eliot froze and slowly turned to face Hardison and Parker, both with matching smirks. He straightened and did his best to keep his expression neutral, but they all knew he had slipped up again.
“Where crawfish hibernate,” he said casually, clearing his throat. He crossed his arms over his chest again and shrugged. “It’s a, uh, a Southern thing. You wouldn’t understand.”
“Uh, no, it’s not,” Hardison countered. “That is definitely not a Southern thing.”
“Well, it is.”
“It is!” Eliot snapped, but it only caused Parker to burst into giggles and fist bump Hardison. With a huff, Eliot began stomping out again, but stopped just before he reached the door. He turned and pointed at their smirking faces. “Just don’t eat all the macarons next time!”
They gave him salutes in response, Parker with the wrong hand, and he rolled his eyes before finally leaving them be.
“Was it Russian?” Parker called out.
> Mr. Punchy: Hey can one öffentliche you Pick up eine Milk am Coffee in the Way home? Er ran put thus Morning. Maybe her some more verrät toi.
> Parker: I can’t read this.
> Ice Man: uhhh you having a stroke or something? is this a code?? U kidnapped???
> Mr. Punchy: Shit. No. Wrong keyboard.
> One of you needs to pick up milk and coffee. Maybe some bread too. We ran out this morning and the bread is nearly gone.
> Ice Man: why cant u do it?
> Mr. Punchy: Hardison, you and Parker dropped me off at the airport just a few hours ago. I’m not at home, remember?
> Ice Man: oh shit u right
> my bad
> Parker: Can we get ice cream?
> Mr. Punchy: No
> Ice Man: Yes!
Hardison turned around to look at Parker. “You okay, baby?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
Parker flashed him a smile from where she was lounging in the back seat. It did nothing to ease his worries and he sighed before turning back around to look at Eliot. He’d been silent the whole ride home and Hardison knew he was likely beating himself up over what happened, even though it wasn’t his fault that Parker happened to trip as they were running away. Usually, it was Eliot that got hurt during cons and even if Parker only had a sprained ankle, Hardison knew that he and Eliot wouldn’t calm down until she was fully healed and back to leaping off buildings.
Reaching over, Hardison patted Eliot’s thigh, giving it a reassuring squeeze. He flashed him a smile of his own when he glanced over and let out a sigh of relief when he saw Eliot’s shoulders relax. They saw movement from out of the corner of their eyes and realized Parker was now between the two of them, elbows resting on the backs of their seats.
“Can we get McDonald’s?”
“Oh my god, yes!” Hardison exclaimed. “Can we? I really want a McFlurry and there’s a McDonald’s coming up down the road.”
Eliot grunted. “No,” he repeated. “We have food at home.”
Hardison’s shoulders dropped, ready to give up, but Parker was not deterred.
“Please, Eliot,” she begged. She flashed Eliot that doe-eyed look with the little pout and Hardison smirked when he saw Eliot do a double take, hands gripping the steering wheel a little tighter. “I want a McFlurry too.”
Eliot continued to stare straight ahead, focused on driving, but Hardison and Parker combined was a bit too much and even without one of them, Hardison knew that Eliot was a lot softer than he appeared to be. It wasn’t long before Eliot sighed and switched on the turning signal.
Hardison and Parker cheered, high-fiving each other in celebration. Parker leaned over to kiss Eliot’s cheek before sitting back down and Hardison did the same, further adding to the blush that Eliot would no doubt deny if someone pointed it out. He sighed again as they pulled into the McDonald’s.
“Did you wanna go in or did you wanna...vroom-vroom around?” Eliot mumbled, waving a hand.
“Did we wanna what?”
Hardison gave him a knowing look and Parker’s laughter from the back was all he needed to know that she had caught it too. Eliot, on the other hand, refused to look over and instead gestured ahead again.
“I said did you wanna go in or did you wanna use the drive thru?”
“Oh no, that is not what you said,” Hardison said quickly as he pointed at Eliot. The blush on his cheeks grew and he tried to hide behind his hair. “You said vroom-vroom around!”
“Shut up,” snapped Eliot. “I’m the one driving and I will not hesitate to go home instead.”
“Just admit it, babe. You forgot the word for drive thru.”
Eliot huffed. “Did you want McFlurrys or not? Because I am still the one driving this car.”
“We do. We do,” said Hardison as he pulled out his wallet. “You know we think it’s cute, right?”
He reached a hand over to jokingly pinch Eliot’s cheek, which was promptly slapped away. Eliot shot him another glare.
“I’ll buy you an apple pie to make up for it, okay, babe?”
“...Make it two.”
“Hey, Hardison, what’s a honey bear and am I one?”
Hardison looked over at Parker who was kneeling on the couch next to him. He gave her a curious look, but she stared back at him expectantly, waiting for an answer.
“Are...are you a honey bear?” he asked tentatively. “Is that what you’re asking?”
“No? I mean, I don’t even know what a honey bear is, so...why?”
“Eliot just called me that and then ran off, so I couldn’t ask him what it meant.”
“Eliot called you a honey bear?”
“And then he ran off?”
She nodded again.
Hardison gave a snort and shook his head. Parker frowned, brow furrowed in that cute way that happens when she was confused, and Hardison wrapped an arm around her to kiss it away.
“Don’t worry, baby. I’m pretty sure Eliot had another slip-up again.” He gave her another kiss. “Though, I do agree that you,” he tapped her nose, “are a honey bear.”
Parker finally smiled and nodded, seemingly satisfied.
“But just in case.” He turned away from her and looked down the hall. “Hey, Eliot!” he called out.
It didn’t take long for him to appear, peering out from around the corner. “Yeah?”
Hardison smirked. “Honey bear?”
Eliot growling and stomping off was all the answer that he needed.
Hardison sighed and snuggled further into Eliot’s side. The man was a human heater, so in these colder months, it was unanimously decided that Eliot had to be in the center of the bed, even if he grumbled about Parker shoving her cold toes against his legs and Hardison being like a lanky koala that never let go. He felt more than heard Eliot chuckling, the vibrations running through him, and Eliot pulled him closer to kiss the top of his head. He heard him do the same to Parker, who was already out, while he smiled to himself, relaxing, as he began drifting back to sleep. His eyes were about to close completely when he felt Eliot’s grip tighten every so slightly and he took a deep breath.
“Hey,” he whispered into the night. “I know y’all are asleep and I know I should probably say this when you’re awake, but I hope y’all know that I love you.”
Hardison debated answering and he squirmed around as he did so. Eliot seemed to take that to mean something in his dreams were plaguing him though and began running his hand up and down his arm, doing his best to soothe him without waking him up. Hardison let himself relax once more, but remained silent as Eliot sighed again.
“I know I don’t say it as much as I should, but I really do love y’all.”
Hardison stayed silent, taking in Eliot’s words. It wasn’t long before he heard him softly snoring and tilted his head up to look at him. He smiled gently, taking in the sight of Eliot’s serene expression, and placed a kiss upon his chest, whispering his own ‘I love you’ to go with it, before falling back asleep.
Eliot may not say much, but Hardison knew that when he did, it meant everything.
Coming home to see Hardison and Parker crowding around a laptop wasn’t unusual, but Eliot has since learned that he needed to have some degree of worry when the two of them were left bored at home.
“What are you two doing?” he asked as he walked over.
They both had earphones in, so it took them a moment to register his presence. When they did, they broke out into grins and Eliot found himself smiling as well when Parker waved at him excitedly, removing an earbud.
“Bonjour!” she greeted. “Comment-allez vous?”
Eliot nodded and turned his attention to Hardison, looking for an answer. Hardison mirrored Parker’s previous action and grinned.
“Hey, so because we both know you know, like, a billion languages, I thought it’d be a good idea for us to learn a couple more to help you out, so you’re not our only translator,” he explained. “It’s tough, but I think we’re making good progress.”
At this, he turned to Parker. She cleared her throat, sitting up straighter, and held out her hand.
“Je veux de l’argent.”
Eliot smiled and nodded, thinking that was the right response, but instead, it caused Parker to scowl. He turned to look at Hardison, who was looking at him expectantly, nodding towards Parker.
“Je veux de l’argent,” she repeated, holding her hand out again.
That caused both Parker and Hardison to frown instead, and Eliot found himself even more confused as he watched Hardison flip through some pages for something. He finally found what he was looking for and looked up at Eliot again, the same hopeful expression that Parker had earlier on his face.
“Voulez-vous frapper quelqu'un?”
Eliot smiled and nodded again, still confused about what was going on. Again, Hardison and Parker frowned, eyeing him curiously.
“I said,” Hardison repeated. “Voulez-vous frapper quelqu'un?”
“Uh, you’re doing great? Keep up the good work?” Eliot shrugged.
Parker huffed. “You’re supposed to answer that,” she hissed.
“Why? I don’t speak French.”
“You don’t sp-” Hardison threw his hands up and got out of his seat. Shaking his head, he came to stand before Eliot, who was still very confused. “You speak all these other languages and French isn’t one of them?”
“Hey, like you said, it was already hard enough learning ‘a billion languages.’ Sorry French isn’t one of them,” Eliot snapped. “Besides, I might not be fluent, but I know the important stuff. Like ‘bonjour,’ ‘au revoir,’ ‘merci.’” He smirked suddenly. “And ‘Voulez-vous couchez avec moi?’”
Hardison’s face twisted into one of disgust and he shook his head again, walking away from Eliot to rejoin Parker.
“What? It’s important!” he exclaimed. “Besides, you weren’t complainin’ last night.”
Hardison continued looking at him with disgust and disappointment, but Eliot had no shame and merely shrugged in response. Parker, however, was now leafing through a dictionary and when Hardison noticed, he promptly tried to pull it away from her.
“Parker, don’t look that up.”
“But I don’t know-”
“Don’t look it up, baby. Don’t look it up.”