Prompt: Parker and Hardison. …even them sitting around staring at a wall. …so long as they’re there, being awesome…
written in the Leveragexchange fun.
Character(s): Parker, Hardison.
Summary: Parker and Hardison are out in the middle of nowhere as part of a con. What can they personally salvage from this situation?
Beta: Sororcula, who also suggested this fantastic movie.
H.P. Lovecraft’s writings (Leng, Ry’leh)
Cinema (How to Steal a Million)
“Did I or did I not tell you it was a bad idea to steal the map to Leng?” Hardison had asked back when they had run out of dirt road, forcing them to continue on foot.
“We had to make sure they would follow us,” had been Parker’s answer.
That was an hour ago.
Even after sitting for ten minutes, Hardison’s feet were still sore and protesting from the long slog they’d made over sunbaked stone and cooked dirt. Even in the shade of the brick wall he had his back to, Hardison was hot. And why exactly is there a wall out here in the middle of the middle of nowhere? After a while, he broke down and asked Parker if she knew the reason.
“I put it here,” she said, having been sitting next to him the whole time. Her feet didn’t look more than a little tanned where the tongue of one shoe was missing. Definitely not hurt or sprained or callused.
“Why?” Hardison couldn’t help but ask.
“This is my safe place,” Parker said with a smile on her face.
You did tell Nate we were going to your safehouse, Hardison thought to himself. But I … “I thought your safehouse would be…you’know, a house.”
She smiled and gave a half-second-long giggle. Shoving his shoulder away from her, she said in a friendly tone, “Don’t be silly. People can sneak up on you if you’re in a house.”
“True,” he said, conceding that point. “But what if you have to – I don’t know, if you -”
“That’s what the other side of this wall is for.”
“And this wall’s supposed to keep us out of sight of Penden’s goons?” Hardison asked. Penden had been the owner of the map prior to he and Parker removing it from Penden’s possession.
That tiny giggle again. “There’s no way anyone can come here without us seeing them.”
Hardison couldn’t help but have worrisome thoughts of sagebrush-and-sandstone-colored camo on the snipers getting into position as the two of them talked.
“So why is it a bad idea?”
“Which part?” Hardison asked.
“That we took the map to Leng, instead of anything else,” Parker clarified. “I nearly picked up a map to Ry’leh on our way out – should I have?”
“No.” Oh hell no.
“Why not?” Parker asked.
It doesn’t exist. “For one, it’s under water,” Hardison said.
Hardison took a few moments to recover from the mental image of this thief in a wetsuit. “An’ for two, it doesn’t exist.”
“This place used to be a beach,” Parker said.
I suppose there’s something there to join those two points, Hardison thought. “What?” Hardison asked. “What happened, the rivers silt up?” thinking of what happened to places along the American Gulf Coast, Turkey, and England.
“No, the dinosaurs died out.”
Not really sure what there was to say to that, Hardison was quiet. After a while, he started thinking… Sure hope Sophie and the others get their part of the plan accomplished too…otherwise we’re up a creek and there’s no paddle on top of there being no canoe. There was supposed to be a pager message sent when the mission was complete, and one that would be sent if backup were needed or if the plan had gone haywire.
So far, his and Parker’s pagers were completely silent. And there was still no sign of the guys who’d chased them for pretty nearly the entire length of the paved road and nine-tenths of the dirt road. Sticking with their overturned cars? Or heading back on foot? Hardison wondered. Thinking of Sophie and Nate and Eliot, he said, “They’re okay.”
As unpredictable as Parker could be, she surprised Hardison once more: she stood up and started pacing, muttering to herself the whole while. Hardison didn’t ask what was the matter, but it was a moot point, because soon enough she was talking loud enough for him to overhear. “Sophie gets all the good roles,” even if she doesn’t think so. And aside from that stay in a psych ward, “I only got to take the lead in Serbia and in Harbin. Why do I only get to take the lead when we’ll be dealing with psychopaths? They hit on me, you know,” she told Hardison.
“Actually,” Hardison said, “that last guy was trying to get Eliot’s number.”
Parker’s hands flopped to her sides. “Great,” she grumbled and came over to drop back down alongside Hardison.
“You got me,” Hardison told her, thinking it would help.
“That’s because your feet are sore and I can’t carry you to the car.”
“Well you could walk away, but that ain’t what I meant when I said I’m here.”
Parker blinked, looked at him, nearly squeaked, “Oh,” and hopped up to dart around to the other side of the wall.
“Niiice,” Hardison said to himself. Why do I do this to myself every damn time? I always say the right things – but never to the right girl. What I told Angie four years ago, that would’ve been better for Parker’s ears…and what I told Parker, probably would’ve been better if Angie had heard it. He considered banging his head back against the bricks, but that thought quickly died when he remembered the situation: no medical care for more than a few miles in any direction.
When things had gone south in Harbin, their mark had thrown a little potted cactus at Hardison – whomever she’d been trying to hit, it had struck him. And after Parker said, ‘I don’t play doctor,’ Hardison had to wait for Eliot to come back with the towels he’d gone to get to handle the blood and the thorns.
So Hardison just sat there, breathing in air that smelled of sage and peppermint and…woodsmoke?…and dryness. There was nothing more for the two of them to do on this, nothing but to wait. They were out here because the plan had called for dividing Penden’s forces, and – so far as Hardison knew – the only way out of here was back past the overturned cars that’d pursued the pair of them so far into the boondocks.
It was early evening when Parker came back around the wall, slowly softly, carefully lowering herself to sit alongside Hardison. Didn’t ask or anything – not that Hardison minded.
Are you snuggling? he thought, sparing a glance at the little blonde cozying up nearly into his side. “You okay?”
“Am now,” she said.
“Okay,” Hardison said, maybe a bit too quickly.
Looking up at his face, Parker asked, “When we get back, do you want to watch How to Steal a Million with me?”
Hardison’s first instinct was to say Yes, to agree to it. Then he asked, “It’s not an instructional video, is it?”
Parker frowned. “Kind of. Was Peter O’Toole in any other instructional videos?”
“Not that I’m aware of.”
Assuming she meant the movie, Hardison said, “Sure.”
He liked her smile.