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At first Breanna thought that she liked Eliot as an elder mate. Or more like a father, which she has never had in her whole life. And Eliot actually acted like a protective dad.

He doesn't allow her to drink. Like, at all. He grabs glass or a bottle of beer (which she tried to steal from his own reserve, just as an improving her thief skills… and because it's fun) out of her hands every time he sees it, no matter of her arguing that she's an adult, and grumbles something about Hardison's lightweighting and genetics.

 

"You know that Alec and I are not blood relatives, don't you?" Breanna asks sarcastically, but that doesn't help at all.

 

He teaches her of self-defence, but never — how to attack first with all those supercool tricks. "You don't need to use violence, when there is no need to," says Eliot in response to Breanna's begging puppy eyes. "I'm here to protect you. That's my job. Do yours, and be the best at it."

He fills her in on the details of their cons and job in common. He teaches her life. Sophie and Parker do this too, but Parker is like an elder sister, which Breanna has a lot, and Sophie… Breanna thinks of her as a mentor. Adult, wise leader of their thief gang. But Eliot… In some ways he never grows up, just like Hardison told in his stories of their past. Just like an ideal dad has to be, in Breanna's mind.

 

He calls her "kid", and it feels so special — no one else calls her like that, neither Sophie or Harry, nor Alec and Parker.

Eliot is wise, and strong, and tough — and so protective. So open to listen to her, to keep her going regardless of all the troubles and hard times.

Yeah, he is like a dad she never had. That is how she was thinking of him.

 

And then this Marshal came up.

 

Of course, they all shamelessly started to make fun of Eliot texting the lady cop (but strictly in these ten seconds he allowed them to), and Breanna made the first shot. But before she even finished her "you call 9-1-1 if you want some booty ?" she sensed this unpleasant inner feeling — just a touch, like a needle for a second — but there was no time for it at that moment. They had a job to be done, Breanna herself had to deal with that asshole Cheng.

But when it's all over, and she sees Eliot texting the Marshal again, she notices this unpleasant feeling again. Breanna obviously doesn't like the fact that Eliot keeps sending messages to Maria, and this surprises her. Why does she even care?

Eliot is funny: he pretends that messages from the Marshal are a bit of annoying, but when no one observes him (or, as he thinks, no one observes — cause Breanna does), this satisfied smirk appears on his face while he is obviously texting back to the Marshal. Breanna wonders what she writes to him, and at some moment she is determined to hack Eliot's phone to find out… but she has to stop herself. First of all, this is unfair and just so mean to Eliot.

And second… Oh shit.

Oh shit .

 

Breanna is jealous. She is really jealous of Eliot over this Marshal. She realises that in the moment when Eliot is cooking breakfast — for Breanna only, cause everyone else is still asleep, and Harry hasn't come yet to their house. Her eyes follow Eliot's deft hands, cutting and whipping ingredients for the omelette, and for the first time she's mesmerized by what she sees. She points out the shape of Eliot's hands, the muscles, and remembers that these hands can cut an enemy's throat as quickly and masterfully as he's cutting veggies now. That looks just beautiful. Both ways.

His phone rings. Eliot takes a quick look on the screen and puts it away even quicker. So, this is the Marshal again. Breanna doesn't like it. Maria annoys her. She distracts Eliot's attention from Breanna and her breakfast that Eliot is making for her. And now Breanna knows exactly the feeling she has. It's jealousy. 

And here you are, stupid little girl.

 

It just can't be. Eliot is too old for her. He is… like a dad. Except he is not. And never was. You are floating in your stupid childish dreams, girl. You have no right to claim his attention and time, and love. Neither as a father… nor a man. Because no one can admire a man's hands so hard and consider him as a dad.

Luckily, the Leverage team has no new clients for now, and Breanna uses her day off to slip away from home. She needs to think. Like a lot. And definitely to drink. A lot as well. And no single Eliot can stop her. So she is wandering around the town trying to pick up the best hot spots, hacks all the pass systems, but after all finds no better option than to take a stand at some abandoned corner on the embankment.  

 

Honestly speaking, Eliot is not old. It's Breanna who is too young for Eliot. He and his Marshal Maria are so… mature and self-sufficient. Maria can fight. And Eliot definitely likes this about her. And Breanna? She has no life experience. Well, she knows a lot about technologies and hacking that Eliot doesn't understand at all. But he hates not knowing stuff, it only annoys him. So, her only advantage makes no sense. And that stupid maple syrup she stole in absolutely enormus quantities? Oh, Breanna remembers that look Eliot granted to her! Like she is a complete child doing all these childish things. So embarrassing.

But no more doubts — she likes Eliot. Not like a father or a person. Better to say, more than father or person — she likes him as a man.

 

Breanna finds on Youtube a short fragment from the Office show — that one where Steve Carell desperately screams. Just for fun, because it's exactly her mood right now. She presses "play " over and over, whispering loudly with the old man Carell "NO, GOD, PLEASE, NO! NOOOOO! ", and laughing almost hysterically — what else could she do?

She tweets stupid DILF jokes in her secret account on Twitter (so secret than even her brother doesn't know about it, and God forbid him to find out ever), because what's the point of having a crush on a middle-aged guy if you can't joke about it?

 

Her phone vibrates receiving a message.

"Where are you? "

 

Breanna doesn't want to answer, but no way she can ignore Eliot. Probably something important.

"We got a client? "

 

"No. Just haven't heard anything from you the whole day, and it's becoming late, kid. "

She feels an overwhelming warmth growing in her desperate little heart. He is just so protective.

Breanna wishes she could think of Eliot as the best and beloved foster dad in the world, or at least a good friend, but she doesn't know how to get back there, when he meant to be only this to her.

 

The way he calls her "kid" is still sweet, but now she'd rather prefer to hear "baby". There is a slight difference between these two words, and Breanna never heard Eliot saying the second one. It seems like Hardison calls everyone "baby" (even Eliot, and Breanna wonders how he allows her brother to do it), but the chance to hear Eliot calling you like that would make this word really special.

She knows about his ability to charm every woman around him, which the team used in their cons quite a lot. Breanna saw Eliot flirting with other women, so she knows how he acts in this case. And she knows that he has never behaved this way with her. Oh, she wishes he has.

All this, of course, doesn't change the fact that Eliot is a very tough person to deal with. He loses temper very easily, he doesn't allow people to touch him if there is no need to (and just one touch from him — and you can easily die, poor human bag of flesh and bones). But all this makes Eliot — Eliot. The guy she admires from the times when Alec shared their cool life of modern Robin Hoods in bedtime stories for her and her brothers and sisters. And in real life it's way cooler than in stories.

 

When Breanna almost comes back home, she finishes her today's way round the town with thoughts — no matter Eliot would never look at her the way he looks at the Marshal or any other gorgeous woman, no matter Breanna will always be a "kid" for him. At least she has this guy in her life, and she knows that she is a part of his family now. As well as he is for Breanna.

She opens the inner door and steps inside the hall. Eliot stops beating his boxing bag the moment he sees her. His t-shirt and hair are wet, and sweat highlights the lines of his muscles. Breanna has to remind herself everything she was just thinking of.

He is just a friend. He is a family. And so be it.

 

"Where've you been?"

 

"Just walking around. Here and there, you know. Why?"

 

"Was worried about you. Seems like this job around Cheng's system was kinda exhausting for you. You're okay?"

 

"I'm fine. Really, don't worry about me. I can handle myself. I'm a big girl, you know."

 

"You definitely are." Eliot is frowning, and Breanna cannot say if he's serious or not. But he's already turned back to the boxing bag.

So be it.  


 

Breanna still has a lot to learn about cons, all these tricky schemes, acting in public and in front of the worst grifters. Life among these amazing guys — Eliot, Parker, Sophie, Harry — is just exciting and so thrilling, that she could never become tired of it.

What is not exciting — is being stabbed by some shitty bastard, who, on top of everything, has locked her and Eliot in this big cold container. Thank God, it was Eliot. He knows how to deal with wounds.

 

"I told you to stay away! Dammit, Breanna," Eliot is so pissed right now. He presses hand on her wound to stop blood, and his eyebrows look even angrier than usual.

 

"I was trying to help," she almost whispers.

 

"I don't need your help!" now Eliot shouts, and she just can't handle the way he looks at her.

 

"Please, don't be angry at me," her voice might sound so miserable right now, but she can't control it. Eliot's face changes with these words. The eyebrows are raised now.

 

"I'm not angry with you, kid."

 

"Looks like you are."

 

"I'm angry because of what happened to you. Hardison is gonna kill me… And for the first time in my life I will not stop him." Eliot chuckles for a second, and Breanna makes a short laugh too. But this causes a new spasm of pain. Breanna starts to cry silently, tears just run down her face and she can't hold them. Her pain threshold is total shit.

 

"Hey, hey," Eliot's face softens, he gently wipes her tears with a thumb. "The bleeding almost stopped."

 

"It hurts," she whispers with panting. 

 

"I know, I know. It's alright, baby. You're gonna be okay." The way Eliot is saying this makes Breanna want to cry harder, but the emotion now totally differs. She buries her face in his shoulder, and feels his arm holding carefully around her. "They are on the way, they know where we are. Soon we will take you to the hospital."

 

"I don't want a hospital. I wanna go home."

 

"You need to take care of this wound."

 

"You can do it. You never do hospitals, I know that. You can take care." Breanna knows, it sounds too selfish. She can't make Eliot take care of her even more. But no matter what happened today, she feels safe in his hands. She just wants to prolong this feeling and this moment, just a bit longer. And she hears:

 

"Don't worry. Of course I will take care of you, baby."