also 9, 18, 29, and whichever other one you have the most potent Idea(TM) for, for leverage/dishonored au~??
GOD I love that AU so much yeah let’s do that. Starring Empress Parker, Lord Protector Eliot Spencer, and Natural Philosopher/Inventor Hardison. I lost this in my drafts, sorry about that.
9. What is the most embarrassing thing they have done in front of each other?
Hardison has blown himself up in front of his Empress and her bodyguard so many times that he should be over getting embarrassed by it, but he isn’t.
Parker knows she didn’t actually die--admittedly, the recovery time from jumping over the rail, sorely wounded, and landing badly in the water below the overlook was long enough that she doesn’t hold it against everyone for thinking otherwise, to say nothing of the rest of it--but she hates knowing she lost that fight. It was an attack she couldn’t have hoped to see coming, literally out of nowhere, and if even Eliot couldn’t stand against it, she didn’t have a hope in hell, but. She hates knowing that she lost that fight, and she hates knowing that she lost it in front of Eliot, and she hates what happened afterward, and she hates what it did to her people, and she hates what it did to Eliot, condemned to torture in Coldridge for a regicide that didn’t happen, what it did to Hardison, left lying to save his own life in the new court so that he could try to prove Eliot’s innocence, and it’s not embarrassment, it’s so much worse than that, but-- It’s close.
Eliot is both extremely embarrassed and not remotely embarrassed about falling more or less to pieces, when he finds Parker alive. On the one hand, he’s her guardian, he’s not supposed to look weak in front of her, it’s literally his job. On the other hand, she’s been dead over a year, Eliot and Hardison have been mourning her like a severed limb for over a year, and now she’s here, scowling and rubbing her wrists where he cracked the cuffs off her after handling Moreau in a very permanent fashion, and--
He’s entitled to a little bit of a breakdown, he thinks.
18. When they fight, how do they make up?
So...Coldridge changed a lot.
It wasn’t actually Coldridge, it was everything, but if you asked any of them, it was Coldridge.
Eliot and Parker have had some fucking arguments in their day, mostly early on, when Parker was a recently corralled and unwilling imperial heiress and Eliot was a Lord Protector that she picked because she thought he would be easy to convince into slacking off. Unfortunately for her, Eliot has never slacked off a day in his life, and the first time he caught her sneaking out via rooftop, he shouted at her like no one had dared shout since she was crowned. She yelled right back at him, but--
Ultimately, the thing is, he was only angry with her when she put herself in danger. She learned to think a little more carefully about what was likely to get her killed in a way that Eliot couldn’t protect her from, and Eliot learned to let her run a little wild, for her own sanity, as long as she took him with her and didn’t do anything actively stupid.
Eliot and Hardison bickered constantly, of course, and if either of them crossed a line, they’d go out of their way to make it up to each other--Eliot would leave one of Hardison’s favorite meals on the table so he’d remember to eat while he worked, or Hardison would build Eliot some new inadvisable gadget and invite Parker to come watch them test it for an hour or three. On the rare occasions that Parker and Hardison really fought, Parker would hide for a few hours and then Hardison would corner her and they’d have an emotional conversation about it and then they’d be fine.
And then...well. Then Parker was murdered, and Eliot was blamed for it, and Hardison was forced to lie for a year to stay alive in Moreau’s new court, and--
A lot’s changed.
Parker just wants things to go back to normal, as if she’d never been presumed dead for a year--she can’t bear the way they treat her like glass. Hardison is being eaten alive with guilt for what he said to the court, the lies he told to survive--he can’t let himself be angry with Parker or Eliot, under any circumstances, when he feels so much more to blame for everything. And Eliot--Eliot can’t speak. Can’t sleep much. Doesn’t like to be touched without a warning, doesn’t like to be alone, doesn’t like having his coat taken away from him, never goes anywhere without three knives. He hates teaching them sign language, but he hates not being able to talk to them more. Parker suggests bringing in a tutor, someone who knows the Serkonan sign language Eliot learned as a teenaged sellsword, and he scowls deeper and deeper until finally he just. Walks out of the conversation.
Parker is in possession of what could be called interrogation records, if you wanted to make the understatement of the century, so she knows that Eliot’s voice is gone for good. So does Eliot, if he’s forced to admit it. Too much damage from that time he almost cut his own throat, from his tongue being cut out, from screaming until he tore all the tissue to tatters. He just--hates it. He hates it.
He takes a few hours to pull himself up onto the roof he used to yell at Parker for crawling on, and just sit there and mouth curses in every language he knows. Then he takes some deep breaths, and climbs back down, and goes back and finds the Empress again.
29) Why do they fall a little bit more in love?
After they fix things--as much as they can fix, dragging every one of Moreau's lies into the light and scorching the fucking earth on his entire network--Parker sits up late at night, in the darkness of her quarters lit by the dull glow of the city below her windows. This isn't particularly new. None of them sleep all that well anymore. God knows she woke up from a nightmare. But tonight is...quiet. She's the only one awake.
Hardison is still asleep on the lounge, a sketch for a new kind of crossbow open under his hand and his head tipped toward the bed. Eliot is asleep on the bed, his back to the wall--Parker made them move her bed into the corner, after she came back, after probably decades of the imperial bedchambers being unchanged. He's curved toward her like a parenthesis, and he slept through her waking, something he hasn't done since she returned. The dim blue light of the city softens all the scars of the last year and a half, until Hardison's hands are clear of burns and Eliot's throat is unmarked. Parker can see them both breathing, slow, almost perfectly synchronized.
It's only because she's watching so closely that she sees Hardison stir and grimace, flexing his pencil hand and cracking all the knuckles. She holds a finger to her lips, and he nods, and she gestures him toward them.
That does wake Eliot up, the motion of the mattress sinking down as Hardison settles on her other side, and her guardian jolts up automatically. He makes a gesture toward the pair of them, not sign but an obvious pantomime of switch with me.
"You gotta sleep, man," Hardison says quietly, gently, and Eliot's face goes forbidding, and Hardison reaches out across Parker, moving with a syrupy half-asleep slowness that's probably at least half genuine, but also gives Eliot plenty of time to knock him away. Eliot doesn't, and Hardison pinches Eliot's sleeve and tugs on it like a kid, the way he used to when Eliot was ignoring him.
Parker blinks at Hardison's arm, stretching over her, and grabs Hardison by the wrist. He lets her manhandle him without a fight.
She sets his hand on top of Eliot's, and then wriggles down until she's lying down between them, their joined hands on her belly, rising and falling with each breath.
"There," she tells Eliot. "This way, if we move, you'll wake up."
Eliot's hand is clenched around Hardison's fingers so tightly that it makes his knuckles white, and Hardison squeezes back, and Parker wonders if maybe it's not worth it, if maybe they should just let Eliot go back to watch and stop trying to honeypot him into a full night of sleep. But then--then Eliot lets out a breath and visibly forces his fingers to relax, and rubs a thumb over the burn scar on the back of Hardison's hand.
He nods, and Parker nods back.
She doesn't know how much Eliot managed to sleep, by the time they wake up in the morning, but his drawn, grey pallor is a little less in the sunlight.
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