What, was "Rudy" on cable last night?

. . . Yes.

team-face, action trio-face
Eliot Spencer vdistinctive
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The loft above Luke's, Sunday night
"I loaned Kanan one of your scarves, by the way," Eliot said as led the way into the apartment. "The sweater the island landed him in is even stupider than mine." He switched the lights on and gave the kitchen and living room a cursory scan. "You sure you two even want to crash here, tonight? Y'all been extra -- tense about this place lately."

You know, since Hardison got trapped in here by a giant evil cat-Kenzi. Not that Eliot could blame them. His talk with Sophie had helped with the 'useless in my own skin' feeling, but he wasn't exactly cured of all fear or anxiety from the events of last weekend.

[ooc: for the bf and gf!]

"Nah, nah," Hardison said, and appreciated it if neither of his partners called him out on how extra jumpy he was. "Don't wanna, y'know, wear out our welcome at your place or whatever."

Shh, he was laying groundwork for a special conversation later! Which would also be an excellent distraction from how totally-fine-he-absolutely-was.

Parker was being bypassed by the Island, because she was already really in the holiday spirit. So. Much. Spirit.

"Also I said I'd try to make new stashes for you guys, so. I actually have to come back here, and move things around." Parker paused, suddenly looking at Megabyte. "GUYS SHE NEEDS ANTLERS."

Who's a good little reindeer? MEGABYTE!

"You can't --" Eliot started, then had to cut himself off to sigh at Parker. "Dogs don't have antlers, Parker!"

Val would love some antlers, Parker. Especially if it made you grin at her like that. She was dancing around with her tongue flopping out over how you were grinning at her.

"You ain't gonna wear out your welcome. Have I kicked you two out even once?" Eliot asked. ". . . When I wasn't all fucked up an' crazy on elder god?"

"She can have antlers if she wants to, Mr. Coldmiser," Hardison declared, stretching out a bit on the couch, his ugly sweater riding up a few inches and showing a long stretch of dark brown skin. "An', y'know, might be a first time for somethin'?"

He glanced over towards Eliot to see how he took it.

Parker was now rummaging around in the bedroom, and coming out with her spare set of antlers for Megabyte to wear. "Hold still, sweetie, you're going to look awesome!" She looked from Eliot to Hardison, then bit her lip. "Are we talking about the thing?"

Noooo subtlety to it at all. Because she was still unnerved from last week, and she really wanted to go back to Eliot's place already.

Eliot's response to the suggestion was buried under Eliot's response to that stretch of bare skin. He shrugged out of his goddamn sweater and sat down on the couch next to Hardison, where he could brush his fingers against that stretch while casually slipping his arm in between Hardison and the cushions.

"Which 'thing'?" he asked. "You two aren't startin' some new 'plan E' nonsense, are you?"

"Nope nope," Hardison said with a slight shudder as Eliot's fingers played over him. "You can ask Parker, we agreed we ain't tryin' nothin' like that." He stretched an arm out to beckon Parker over. "I may be slow-playin' stuff, cause I'm me, but we ain't tryna pull a con on you."

"No cons. No grifts," Parker confirmed, getting the antlers set pretty firmly back on Megabyte's head, before crawling over the couch to land curled into Hardison's side. "We just had an idea at the same time again. And we think it's good, but we're not sure, so. Anyway." She frowned, and readjusted her little tree-hat. "Do you like living by yourself? A lot?"

Eliot shrugged. "Not 'a lot'. Was just the easier thing, mostly." Living by himself meant not having to explain to anyone when he went running off to help Vance out with a side job in Tajikistan. For example. "This about me comin' out here to live when we first moved to Baltimore? 'Cause that was about me not gettin' between the two of you." And not having to spend all his time trying not to be in love with them. "Which is somethin' we got well and truly solved, already."

"Nah, ain't that so much," Hardison said, touching his chin. It was suddenly a lot harder to ask now that they were right there about to do it. "We were wonderin' if you still wanted to live alone."

"Because we have alternative suggestions. Like alternative revenue streams," Parker said, nodding energetically. "Which don't involve you getting another dog, although that could be fun."

"You two would just rename that one, too." Eliot shook his head, tucking the tips of his fingers under Hardison's waist band. "You know I basically ain't been living alone for more'n a year or so, right? We've been crashin' in each other's beds almost every night."

Why he couldn't just straight up answer "No, I don't mind not living alone anymore" he hadn't worked out yet. Maybe for the same reason they hadn't just straight up asked him to if they could move in yet.

"An' this's been pretty much the best year of my life, even with all of Fandom's weird games," Hardison said, lids sliding halfway closed at Eliot's fingers. He decided to pass that along by running his hands through Parker's hair. "But...yeah. We were thinkin' about maybe rather'n crashin' in one another's beds an' goin' back an' forth, we just moved into one place permanently. All three of us. Official-like."

"Ditto," Parker agreed, then hummed happily, leaning further into Hardison. "And we love our place. But not as much as we used to, since, you know. Evil Monster Kenzi." She pressed a little closer to Hardison to hide that shudder. "And your place... it's bigger, and it smells nice, and there'd be all Hardison's stuff, but really I only need a closet for my gear, and..." She paused and looked at Hardison. "And we thought we'd ask. At least."

Eliot had to smile at that. Asking first wasn't actually something either of them really excelled at, when it came to other people's property.

Since, you know, thieves.

"I 'preciate that. And yeah, you two are welcome to it. I kinda thought you already knew that." How much of their stuff already lived at his place? "Thought -- I dunno. You still wanted. . . ." Yeah, it sounded dumb when he said it out loud. "Yeah. I mean, I still don't want a giant mess of tech in my living room. That's supposed to be a nice, peaceful place. But -- yeah. Yes. Move in with me." How many times in one statement was he going to say yes, here? His smile just kept wanting to get bigger each time. "Yes."

"I promise I won't leave all my tech stuff in your livin' room," Hardison said, deliberately not looking at all the tech strewn about their living room. "But either I'mma need a place to stash it or you're gon' be real upset about the state of the bedroom."

Did they really need to eat in the dining room?

"An' we'll have to figure out a way so it's encroachin' on your space an' more alla us makin' a home together, but...yeah. I'd like that a lot. The three of us together. Like we're s'posed to be."

"Yes!" Parker had been punching the air as soon as Eliot said his first 'yeah', and was now dancing in place, beaming at Hardison as he spoke, then back to Eliot. "Because we don't want to be invaders. Or change it much. This is going to be so fun." She threw herself over Hardison to hug Eliot. "Thank you for wanting us!"

"You can have any room you want. Just, you know. Not the living room." Or the kitchen, but let's be real, they already knew that was Eliot's domain. "Hell, half the place is empty, anyway. I been thinkin' about putting a dojo or somethin' up in that attic, but other'n that, take your pick."

"I ain't goin' up to the attic," Hardison said, trying to sound flat but grinning too widely to pull it off. "There's dust an' mites an' creepy vampires up there."

"If there's no creepy vampires, it would be nice, maybe," Parker said, still a little dubious. She poked at Hardison, grinning back at him. "If you're going to train us Eliot, then maybe we'll go up there...?"

"One vampire," Eliot said. "One time. And there were -- very extenuating circumstances."

She was a hot crazy woman with stripes, he was drunk, and the island had everyone high on sex pollen. Things happened.

"And it's not like it'd just be a dusty attic, man, it'd be finished. All cleaned up. Just like another room." He tilted his head. "Could be useful, actually. If we all got our own, like, office space. A room to do whatever in, and then the rest we share."

Hot crazy and crazy-hot. That was Navaan.

"Depends on how often we all planned to be up there," Hardison said, not willing to let go of his mistrust of attics easily. "Like, it'd be one thing if we were all up there at the same time, but I dun wanna be all exiled to the attic while y'all are putterin' around downstairs."

"No exiling! Or sexiling. I head about that on TV." Parker shuddered and hugged Hardison harder. "And can I go up on the roof?" And jump off the roof?

"There goes my plan to just randomly lock you up there," Eliot said, rolling his eyes. "It ain't like I'd give you, like, trainin' homework to do up there alone. Just . . . I'd take the attic, you two can have whatever other rooms you want, and the rest we share." He nodded to Parker. "Includin' the roof. Garden only takes up maybe half of it, and y'all are welcome to plant your own stuff there if'n you got the interest."

The place had four floors, including the basement and the attic. There was plenty of space.

"I don't need no room on the roof," Hardison said quickly. "Y'all can have my spot. It's cool."

Look, he ended up being pushed off of roofs too often to be comfortable on them.

Parker snickered, then reached for Eliot's hand to play with his fingers. "So, this is a plan? After Christmas? After New Year's, or something?"

"How 'bout the basement, then," Eliot suggested, a faint growl in his voice. What was the point of Hardison moving in if he was going to be afraid of half Eliot's house? "You can have the whole thing to yourself."

Don't get prickly now, Eliot. You already welcomed them in with open arms.

"Tru's fussin' at me again about comin' to visit maybe during the holiday. Should at least make sure I got time for a video call or whatever. But yeah, other'n that, any time you two are ready. We'll hire a buncha rickshaws and make them do the work."

The roof was barely a part of the house! It didn't count!

"You ain't listenin'," Hardison said, reaching over to poke Eliot's skull like he was Parker or something. "It's more fun doin' my thing if y'all are around."

Sure, he'd take the basement and make a server farm out of it, assuming there were no bear traps around for him to get caught on. But when he was working, he liked having his crew nearby. Like where he could look up and see them doing their own things, too.

"I want to meet Tru. Someday." Like, when Parker had plenty of time to prepare scenarios and to get her best manners in place. "Does she know about us, and you?" She couldn't remember if Eliot had told her about that before. "And can I put up some Christmas lights at your-- our place?"

Just say no, Eliot. Stop her, Hardison!

Eliot growled again at the poking. The growl that they'd both long since learned was just a meaningless noise he made sometimes when he got poked. "Then bring your tech wherever," he said. "Just -- don't store it all over the place."

Were you fully prepared for living with an ex-soldier's sense of orderliness, Hardison? Were you?

"How many is 'some'?" Eliot asked Parker. This was an important detail. "We still wanna be able to sleep, darlin'." Please. Like Parker slept at ALL on Christmas. "And yeah, I told her. Pretty much first thing after we started talkin' again. That's why Hardison forgave me for ditchin' y'all on Mother's Day awhile back, remember?"

"Man, sleep on Christmas, what a novel idea," Hardison pretended to grumble. Of course, he'd rather have their bouncy and unstoppable girlfriend making sleep an impossibility than the ferret she'd been last year.

"An' of course I ain't gonna store my tech everywhere," he said. Innocently. "That would be wrong."

Hardison, that is the Voice of Overselling the Con. Parker gave him the look of Seriously? in return for that.

"Okay, I'll just put-- one layer of lights? Along the top and edges?" They would be icicle-drippy lights, the kind that made everything else super pretty. Blue-white and shiny.

Back to the topic of Tru, Parker said, "She could come stay with us. You know, after she gets to know us." She sighed happily, kicking her silvery-tree-wrap feet. "And we can show off everything to Nate and Sophie when they come." YAY.

Eliot yelling about Hardison's tech was going to be a Thing. He could see it now. "I ain't kidding, man. The living room's s'posed to be a peaceful place."

Also, probably an argument about what constituted "peaceful."

"Tru's got kids, darlin'. She'll appreciate the invite, but I'm guessin' she's not gonna want to drag her whole family of five around."

Hey, they hadn't had a new Thing in awhile. This might be fun!

"I find the hum of electronics peaceful," Hardison said, mostly because he, too, scented the new Thing on the horizon. "That beepin' an' the monitor's blue glow is very restful."

Hey, there was that argument Eliot had been expecting!

Parker gave them both tolerant looks, and then rolled her eyes in favor of getting up to get cookies to eat while watching the Drama. "We still have to steal a wedding for Nate and Sophie too."

"Beeping is not relaxing!" Beeping to Eliot tended to mean 'count down counter on a bomb.' So the opposite of relaxing. "Nobody finds beeping relaxing!" He was pretty sure Nate would back him up on this. "We don't know anyone havin' a big ceremony, Parker. I'm pretty sure Jono and the doc gave up on that completely."

Also, they'd gone and gotten quietly married already.

Finally. Watching them muddle through had nearly been enough to put Hardison off the idea of matrimony.

"I'd say find a mafioso marryin' off his daughter again, but I have a feelin' Sophie wouldn't approve of their style."

"I'm going to keep a lookout. But if it's not the right wedding, they just won't do it. Or Sophie will cry. One of those." Parker looked very thoughtful about this. "I have some ideas. Gimme 'til after Christmas Day." Because there was still all kinds of celebrating up until Epiphany!

"Take all the time you need, darlin'. If you two are gonna be movin', you're gonna be pretty busy."

As would he. Damn, he was going to have to do some cleaning up, wasn't he. It wasn't quite a bachelor pad, and they had plenty of stuff there already, but Eliot's house was definitely not ready to be a shared home yet.

"It's true," Hardison said, thinking of the sheer amount of stuff in their apartment. And there was plenty of stuff squirreled away that he didn't even know about. "Probably better to finish that up before tryna throw Nate an' Sophie a weddin' they don't even know to expect."

And Parker had to make new stashes for her guys, too!

"Okay, that's fair," Parker said reluctantly. "Should we rent out the apartment?" It just occurred to her it would just be sitting there. "Or keep it for a back-up place?"

"Dunno," Eliot said, frowning faintly. "Which'd you two rather do?" He wasn't really sure about having strangers live right upstairs from his diner.

Hardison's voice was small when he mumbled, "You 'member what we talked about, right after Kathy--right after? We were gonna offer them the apartment for a bit, since they couldn't go back to the dorms?"

Back when there'd still been some hope that they'd all come driving home to safety.

"Well, I'd like to still give it a bit of time. I'm still workin' to hack a portal. We may still get..."

Eliot leap-frogged right over Parker's ping leaned in to cut Hardison off with a kiss. "You're right. Of course."

It wasn't that he didn't have hope -- for Raven at least. He was just too used to losing people; at a certain point, he'd learned to lock the hope away so he could deal with the loss and move on. He was more thankful than he could say that Hardison kept reminding him they were still trying to get her back.

Hardison also leapfrogged over Parker, WE LOVE YOU WE SWEAR! kissed Eliot back, clutching him a little more than he ordinarily would if he wasn't still a little fragile. "Thanks," he said.

Thanks for believing he might be able to do this. That he wasn't wasting his time in trying. That his hope wasn't a stupid thing to cling to.

Parker didn't have hope. But she had faith. If there was a way to do it, Hardison would find it. And Eliot would make it happen. Raven just had to hold on; Kathy just had to stay in one piece.

She leaned in to kiss Hardison after Eliot did, then kissed Eliot. "Yeah. This'll be their place. Plan."


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