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Taking Care

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“Ugh,” Parker says, shedding her sweat soaked and dirt caked clothes as she heads to the shower, leaving them in a haphazard line behind her.

“You got that right,” Eliot says, picking up the clothes as he follows Parker, depositing them into the bathroom hamper and leaning against the door jam as Parker gets the shower started.

“Fun shower or solo shower?” he asks, appreciating Parker’s casual nudity but not assuming anything.

“Solo,” Parker says. “Skin hurts.”

Eliot nods and gives her an easy smile. “Want me to get the water right?” he offers.

Parker nods and steps aside so Eliot can fiddle with the knobs in the shower until it’s the temperature he knows irritates her skin the least. Still, she looks at the pouring water with apprehension that Eliot notices.

“It can wait until morning,” he says. “The worst of the dirt was on the clothes, anyway.”

Parker shakes her head and crosses her arms against her chest securely. “It’ll be worse,” she says. “I don’t want to wear clean clothes when I’m this filthy, or sleep in a clean bed.”

“How about a bath?” Eliot asks. “I can wash your hair for you with a cup. No shower-head pressure to worry about.”

Parker slumps slightly at that, and Eliot can only hope it’s with relief.

Please,” she says, voice cracking slightly.

 

 

Eliot bends back down, switching the shower flow to the tub faucet and making sure the water is still the right temperature.

“Bubbles?” he asks, putting the back on the ledge when Parker shakes her head. “Lavender body wash?” he offers instead, and Parker nods.

When the tub is adequately filled, he holds Parker’s arm steady as she steps in and settles herself into the water, letting it go so she can submerge everything but her head in one go.

“Can you get the light?” Parker asks. Eliot nods and flips off the bright bathroom light and plugs in the soft nightlight they use for overnight bathroom trips.

“Better?” he asks, keeping his voice low.

Parker nods, giving him a grateful smile as she floats. She takes the bodywash and a deep breath, before scrubbing herself down as quickly as possible. She finishes and looks over at Eliot expectantly, who is sitting beside the tub waiting.

“Hair time?” he asks, holding up the plastic cup they keep under the sink for these occasions.

“Can you use the fancy conditioner?” Parker asks. “It will knot less.”

“I knew you loved my fancy conditioner,” Eliot teases, but pumps it into his hands anyway. “Dunk your head real quick for me.”

Parker steels herself and then does, staying underwater for just long enough for her hair and scalp to get properly wet.

“I’ll be quick,” Eliot promises. He lathers the conditioner into Parker’s hair, rubbing her scalp with only the slightest pressure and working it through the rest of her hair gently. She doesn’t lean into the touch like she might on a good day, but she doesn’t pull away either, so he takes the win.

“Sit up for just a minute, baby,” he says. Parker does and leans her head back obediently as Eliot gently tilts it and pours the cup of water over her hair. He pours a few more cups of water before stopping and tilting her head back down. He gets up and turns the sink on until the water matches the temperature of the bath and fills the cup again, crouching to give Parker’s hair a final rinse with the fresh water.

To his surprise, Parker stands up in the bathtub and nods over at the sink. “I want to rinse off like that,” she says, words titling into a question. Eliot shrugs easily and goes back for another cup of water, holding out to Parker, who takes it gratefully. She pours it slowly over her body before handing the cup back to Eliot for a refill. They do this a few more times before Parker deems herself clean enough for bed and steps out of the tub, letting Eliot wrap her up in the softest bath towel they own.

“Thanks,” she says, her skin finally starting to settle now that she’s not so overwhelmed with sights and sounds, and no longer buzzing with adrenaline.

“Of course,” Eliot says, leaning in and pressing a sweet kiss to Parker’s temple. “You need my help with pajamas?”

Parker shakes her head and gives him a crooked smile as he bends over again to flip the bathtub switch so that the water drains.

“I’ll be ok,” she says. “Go shower off this shitty day and then come to bed. We have to call Hardison anyway.”

“Aye aye, captain,” Eliot drawls, looking forward to the hot shower in his immediate future as Parker heads to bed.

 

By the time Eliot is done with his shower, Parker is sitting up in bed in one of Hardison’s soft t-shirts, getting the tablet ready for their video call. Eliot changes into sleep shorts quickly and settles onto the bed, towel draped over his shoulders while his hair dries. He gives Parker a good foot of space on their king sized bed, and she gives him a fond look as she notices.

“Hello, lovers,” Hardison’s voice comes up before his picture, and Eliot laughs at their boyfriend’s cheesiness.

“We survived,” Parker says in greeting when Hardison’s smiling face finally pops up on the screen. He’s in a cramped looking bedroom with thankfully empty bunkbeds.

“Glad to hear it,” Hardison says wryly, even though they all know he means it.

“How’s Nana?” Eliot asks.

“Getting better every day,” Hardison says. “I should be able to come home in a few days.”

“That’s good,” Eliot says.

“Nana getting better or me coming home?” Hardison asks, having to tease just a little bit.

“Both,” Eliot says, huffing. “Asshole.”

“We miss you,” Parker says, leaning slightly closer to Eliot to keep them both in frame.

“I miss you,” Hardison replies, sharp eyes taking in the sight of them. “Rough job?”

“It was alright,” Eliot says. “Just long.”

“I was really overwhelmed,” Parker admits quietly.

“Hey,” Eliot says firmly. “You did great. You held it together until we got home and it was safe to fall apart a little.”

“You ok, babe?” Hardison asks, looking at the screen with concern.

“Much better now,” Parker says. “Eliot took good care of me.”

Eliot gives little shrug and then a smile when Parker creeps closer to him and rests her head on his shoulder.

“I’m really tired now,” she says, yawning around the words.

“Go to bed, you two,” Hardison says, smiling fondly at them. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“Goodnight,” Eliot says. Parker waves at the screen with a tired smile, and Hardison ends the call.

 

Finally, all is dark and quiet, and Parker feels like she can breathe properly again as she stretches out in bed next to Eliot. He’s lying close enough to just barely feel the heat from his skin, but not close enough to actually be touching, and Parker has to swallow down a lump of emotion in her throat at how much she knows he must care about her.

“Fun shower tomorrow,” she whispers, smiling when Eliot snorts out a laugh.

“Deal,” Eliot replies. “And in the morning? I’m making waffles.”

“Ok, Donkey,” Parker laughs.

Feeling lighter than she has since the job began, Parker closes her eyes and falls into a deep dreamless sleep.

 

THE END