A Series of Firsts: First Boyfriend (Part 1)

Leverage: Eliot/OC/Team
Warnings: None

"Uncle Nate! Uncle Nate!"

Nate looked up as a bundle of energy bounced its way over to the car. With a huge smile, he bent and snatched up his niece as she jumped into his arms. "Hiya there Kenzie girl."

Her little hands locked around his neck in a tight hug as he planted a loud kiss on her cheek.

"Ready to go, sweetheart?" He set her down and herded her into the car. "We gotta pick up your daddy and Parker on the way home."

Kenzie gave him a thumbs up and started rambling on about her day at school. "First, Miss Jennifer maded us say the Plague of Allowance. I can says it all, Uncle Nate. Wanna hear?"

Nate chuckled as Kenzie didn't wait for an answer and just started reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

"I plague allowance to the flag of the Nited Steaks of a Miracle..."

Nate smiled as he listened, trying not to break into laughter as Kenzie continued.

"And to the um.....to the public cus it stands, one nay son, under God, invisible, with um....." Kenzie paused, her tongue sticking out in deep concentration. After a moment, her face brightened and she said, "With litter bees and juices for all."

Nate fought back the laughter threatening to erupt and nodded his head in the mirror. "Very good."

Kenzie beamed and continued on with her story as if she had never stopped to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. "After, Miss Jennifer gived us math and I gotted to count beans. Beans is yucky, but its okay cus I only hadda count 'em, I didn't hadda eat 'em.”

Secretly, Nate agreed with the girl, but there was no chance for him to say so as she continued to talk. “Then, I gotta drawed my family and I drawed you and Daddy and Mommy and Auntie Soph and Auntie Parker and Uncle Hardy. Then, Bobby becamed my boyfriend. Then, we ated lunch and Bobby gived me his jello and then you camed and gotted me."

The girl was talking so fast, Nate almost missed it. Almost.

"Boyfriend?" He asked. "You mean.. like a boy whose a friend?"

Kenzie shook her head. "Nope, like a boyfriend."

"Right... a friend who just happens to be a boy." Nate said.

Kenzie shook her head again. "No, like Uncle Hardy is Auntie Parker's boyfriend."

"Oh." Nate was shocked into silence at that. Kenzie was in Kindergarten for Pete’s sake; just starting Kindergarten. She wasn't old enough to have a boyfriend! Any rebuttal was swept away as the car rolled to a stop and two bodies got in. Parker sat in back next to Kenzie and Eliot sat up front next to Nate.

As they got a bit further down the road, Nate looked over at Eliot. "I was having the most...interesting...conversation with your kid. Kenzie, tell your daddy what happened at school today."

Eliot listened as his daughter rattled off about how her day went. Like Nate, he smiled at the mispronunciation of about half the words in the Pledge of Allegiance and tried to contain his laughter at the thought of littering bees and juices for everyone. Again like Nate, he agreed that counting beans was a whole better than eating them. And just like Nate, he almost missed it. Almost.

"I'm sorry, what?" Eliot looked over his shoulder, letting his gaze land on his daughter. “A boyfriend? You mean ..a little boy whose a friend?”

Kenzie shook her head. “Nope, a boyfriend.”

“Right... a friend who just happens to be a boy.” Eliot said again.

Kenzie gave him the biggest smile she could, dimples and everything. “No, Daddy. A boyfriend...like Uncle Hardy and Aunty Parker.”

“Way to go Junior Spark!” Parker exclaimed, high fiving the kid.

“Parker!” Eliot growled.

Parker looked up at him with innocent eyes. “What?”

“She's five years old. She does not have a boyfriend.” Eliot said, before narrowing his gaze on Kenzie. “You do NOT have a boyfriend, Mackenzie Leanne.”

Kenzie's face scrunched up in displeasure and her arms crossed in a fit. “I do to! And I'm keeping him! He giveded me his jello cup!”

Eliot abruptly turned around, growling under his breath. “I'll kill him.”

“Eliot...” Nate cautioned.

“I know. I know.” Eliot mumbled. “Don't kill the jello boy.”

After a few moments of silence, Nate cleared his throat. “You must really like this boy to give up all that stuff, Kenzie.”

Kenzie nodded. “I do.” After a brief pause, she frowned. “What stuff?”

“Yeah, what stuff?” Parker asked, intrigued.

“Oh, well.. see there's rules to having a boyfriend.” Nate said. “There's things you have to give up if you want a boyfriend before your 18...”

“35, Nate, 35.” Eliot said quickly.

Nate met the hitters eyes, dancing with amusement. “Oh, that's right. It changed last year.” He looked at Kenzie through the rear-view mirror. “There's things you have to give up if you want a boyfriend before your 35 years old.”

Parker frowned at that. “What things?”

Kenzie was frowning right beside her. “Yeah, what things?”

“Well... the tooth fairy for one.” Eliot said, getting in on the con now. “Little girls who have boyfriends don't get to have the tooth fairy come to visit them anymore.”

Kenzie frowned harder, thinking that over. She was still losing her baby teeth and she liked it when the tooth fairy came to see her. The tooth fairy left a whole quarter for every tooth she put under her pillow! But still.... she got free jello cups from Bobby the Boyfriend. Quarters....Jello....Quarters....Jello....that was an easy decision.

Kenzie gave a small shrug. “I don't need no quarters, Daddy. Uncle Hardy gived me them all the time and he aint a tooth fairy.”

Eliot growled under his breath. “Dammit Hardison!”

Nate, seeing Eliot starting to lose it, kept the game up. “Don't forget about the Easter Bunny, Eliot. The Easter Bunny doesn't visit little girls who have boyfriends either.”

Parker sucked in her bottom lip as she listened with growing interest.

“The Easter Bunny?” Kenzie's face fell for just a few brief moments, before it brightened slightly. “Auntie Parker gots en-a-nins all years long... she shares.”

Nate glanced at Eliot, then back to his niece. “Can't trick or treat either. Only grown up girls have boyfriends and grown up girls don't trick or treat.”

Kenzie's face fell even more. “None?”

“Nope.” Eliot shook his head, hiding a smile as he glanced over at Nate. “We'll have to have Sophie take the princess dress back since Kenzie won't be needing it.”

Kenzie's mouth opened in shock and tears sprang to her eyes. “Daddy!”

“That doesn't include parties, right?” Parker frowned. “Sophie is wearing a costume. So am I. We're going to a party and they'll have candy there. I'll bring some back and she can keep the costume to play dress up or something with her tiny ankle biter friends.”

Kenzie looked at Parker, then to her daddy, then back to Parker, then back to her daddy. “Yeah, I could does that.”

Eliot closed his eyes, silently cursing the thief. “I... I suppose you could, baby.”

Kenzie's tears dried up and a smile lit up her face.

“I have to say, I'm very impressed Kenzie. Giving up the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny is one thing, but to be able to give up Santa Clause....” Nate whistled. “I don't know that I could have done that at your age.”

Kenzie's eyes widened and her mouth dropped open in shock. She couldn't even gather any words to express at how unfair that was. Kenzie scowled. It was all Bobby the Boyfriend's fault! First, she had to give up her quarters from the tooth fairy. Then, she had to give up her Easter basket. If those two weren't bad enough, she also had to give up trick or treating. And now, she had to give up Santa Clause! It just wasn't fair! Bobby the Boyfriend's jello cups weren't that good.

Eliot glanced back at his daughter and stifled a smile. He looked over at Nate, meeting the older man's gaze. “There is that 'Get out of a boyfriend' thing...”

Nate nodded, then shook his head. “But she probably wouldn't be interested in that.”

Kenzie lifted her eyes at the mention of a “get out of a boyfriend” thing. “What gets outta boyfriend thing?”

Parker looked over at the two in the front seat. “Yeah, what get out of a boyfriend thing?”

“Well, it's nothing really. If the little girl decides that she can't give up all those things, or even just one of those things, then she makes a “Get out of a boyfriend” card and gives it to her father.” Eliot said.

“Right and then to heal her heart, because breaking up with someone hurts...” Nate paused, glancing over at Eliot before going back to Kenzie. “He buys her her own jello cups.”

Kenzie thought about that. “Wiggly jello or chocolate jello?”

Nate smiled. “Both.”

Eliot joined in with a smile of his own as Kenzie sat back to think about it all.


Nate's Loft......

Hardison looked up as Nate, Eliot, and Kenzie came into the room.

Kenzie ran over to him. “Hi, Uncle Hardy!”

“What's up, Shorty?” He answered back giving her a high five.

“Can I getted a paper?” She asked him. “I gotta make something.”

“Sure thing, Shorty.” Hardison gave her a few pieces of paper out of his printer and she snatched them up and skipped off upstairs to Nate's room. He looked over at Nate and Eliot, taking in their smirks, and raised a brow. “What's going on?”

“I'll tell you later.” Nate said. “Have you heard from Sophie?”

Hardison nodded. “She's just finishing up shopping for the Halloween bash in a couple weeks. We're all supposed to meet her for a late lunch in about half an hour. Where's Parker?”

Nate looked around. “She was right behind us.”

“It's Parker, Hardison.” Eliot growled. “She's off being Parker.”

Hardison rolled his eyes at the man. “Fine, you guys go meet Sophie. I'll go get Parker. We'll meet you there.”

“Kenzie! We gotta go, girl. Grab your stuff.” Eliot called out.

A few minutes later, Kenzie ran out and handed Eliot a card before skipping out the door after Nate. Eliot read the card and beamed as he tucked it into his pocket. On the front cover, it said “To Daddy” and had a pretty picture of a rainbow with the sun and clouds. Inside was a framed sentence with the words: “This is my get outta boyfriends card. I wants red wiggly jello and chocolate jello.”

Nate, Sophie, and Eliot walked into Nate's loft. They'd waited for well over an hour for the rest of the team to show up, but neither had. They'd dropped Kenzie off downstairs with Cora, asking the bar owner to watch the kid until they made sure everything was okay upstairs.

“Hardison! Where the hell have you been, man? We waited for over an hour.” Eliot snapped, seeing the hacker standing in front of the couch. “Where's Parker?”

Hardison slowly turned, almost as if in a daze. “Parker.... I.... I don't know.”

“You don't know?” Nate asked, glancing around. “You always know where she is.”

“Just trace her on that GPS thingy you got in her shoe.” Eliot said.

Sophie glanced closely at the hacker; studied him. She could tell that there something else going on. She walked over to him, letting her hand brush against his arm. “Hardison? What's wrong?”

Hardison turned his shock filled eyes to her. “She broke up with me.”

“What?” Immediately, Nate and Eliot turned their way.

“Why?” Nate asked.

“What did you do to her?” Eliot demanded. “I swear, Hardison, if you cheated on her...” He let the threat fade off knowing that Hardison would get what he meant.

“What? NO!” Hardison shook his head, his hands lifting in a self defense mode as he took a step back. “I didn't cheat on her! I would never cheat on her.”

“Sophie touched Hardison's arm again, in a comforting and reassuring manner. “We know that, Hardison. So, what happened?”

Hardison shook his head, focusing only on Sophie. “I don't know. She came in her raving on about how I was forcing her to give things up.”

“Have you been?” Sophie asked.

“Of course not.” Hardison said. “Why would I want her to give something up?”

“Are you sure? Maybe there's a habit that you asked her to break? Or, something you told her not to say?” she asked.

“No, absolutely not. She wouldn't be Parker if I started plucking out all these little things like a feather from a chicken, Sophie. I want Parker as Parker.” Hardison firmly said. “I always have.”

Nate cleared his throat. “Hey Hardison, what things exactly?

“Huh?” Hardison glanced over at him distractedly. “I don't know, Nate. She just said things.”

“But she must have listed off a few things, right?” Nate prodded. “Food? Music? Games? Jobs?”

“No, no, no, no. Look, she came in, said that she was willing to give a lot of things up for me, but that he wasn't one of them and I couldn't make her. That's all she said. That's it. Every single word.” Hardison said. “I don't even know who 'he' is.”

Eliot glanced at Nate, before eying Hardison. “Well, Parker's crazy, man. She probably won't remember she broke up with you tomorrow.”

“Yeah, I guess. Listen, I'm just gonna go home.” Hardison gathered his things. Right before the door, he stopped short and turned back. “Almost forgot, she left something on the table for you, Nate.”

The instant Hardison left the loft, Sophie turned on the two remaining men and narrowed her eyes. “I'm taking Kenzie to the park. I don't know what you two did, but you better fix it.”

Without waiting for a response, Sophie whirled around and stomped downstairs. Eliot and Nate watched her go and then turned to the envelope Parker had left on the table.

Eliot shook his head as Nate picked it up and looked inside it. “She couldn't possibly have....”

“Oh.... I'm pretty sure she did.” Nate said, holding out the envelope to him.

Eliot took the envelope addressed to Nate and peered inside. Inside the envelope was an old Monopoly “Get out of Jail Free” card. The word “jail” had been crossed off and “a boyfriend” written in its place. Behind it, was a small scrap of paper that said, “I don't like wiggly jello. I like chocolate jello.”


Parker's Warehouse

Parker didn't acknowledge the knock on the door or the sound of it opening and closing. She lay curled on her bed with Bunny safely tucked into the crook of her arm. Upon looking at her face, Eliot and Nate could tell that the girl had been crying. In this position, they were reminded of just how much of a child Parker really was. She still believed in things like the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause. At the time, they hadn't given it any thought, but now they realized that they should have.

“Parker?” Nate slowly approached from one side, Eliot from the other. “Can we talk? I think there might be a misunderstanding from what we said to Kenzie in the car.”

Parker sniffled and slowly sat up, hugging Bunny closer. “No, I understood.”

“I don't think you did, Parker.” Eliot said. “That was for Kenzie, not you.”

Parker shook her head, making a face. “You said it was for girls under 35. You both did. I'm under 35.”

“Yes, you are, but it's different for you.” Nate said.

“How?” Parker asked.

“You already have all your grown up teeth, so the toothfairy doesn't visit you anyway.” Eliot said.

“And you said yourself that the Easter Bunny hasn't visited you since you were seven when he left Bunny in the closet for you.” Nate said. “And, you've never gone trick-or-treating, so there's nothing for you to give up there either.”

“Santa visits me. Every year. He never left me after all these years.” Parker said sadly. “How could I just leave him like that?”

Nate and Eliot looked at each other. This was going to be harder to explain than they originally thought. Parker's connection to Santa Clause ran deep. He was the only person who had never left. When that's the only stability you've had in your life, it was impossible to give it up.

“Did you bring jello, Nate?” Parker asked, peering over the bed to see if he was holding a bag.

“No, I didn't.” Nate said, holding up his empty hands.

Parker's face fell. “Oh. I understand.”

Nate came closer, but didn't sit down. “I didn't bring any, because it wouldn't work.”

Parker looked at him. “Why not? Because you aren't my real dad?”

“Because you don't know everything about the rules, Parker.” Nate said. “We didn't mention everything to Kenzie because not everything applies to someone her age.”

“What didn't you mention?” Parker asked curiously.

“The Permission Redemption Exception.” Eliot supplied.

“The Permission Redemption Exception?” Parker repeated. “What's that?”

“It's when the boyfriend contacts the girls family and gets permission to be the boyfriend before asking her out.” Nate said. “It's only for girls who are under 35, but over 18.”

“I'm over 18.” Parker looks hopeful for a second, then her hope crashes. “I don't have a family, though. Not a real one. Not a blood one.”

“Blood doesn't mean family, Parker.” Eliot said as he sat down on the bed beside her and tapped her leg. “We're your family. You're real family.”

Parker looked up, back and forth between the two. “Really?”

“Of course.” Eliot said.

“Did Hardison....” Parker let her voice trail off, leaving the obvious question unspoken.

Nate nodded. “He did. He came to all of us, Sophie included.”

“He did?” Parker moved to kneel on her knees, Bunny pushed to the side as she smiled nervously.

Eliot nodded in agreement. It wasn't a lie. Hardison had approached each of them to see what they thought and make sure it would be okay with them since it would be altering the group dynamic. They'd all said yes, obviously. There was no reason for them not to. The two were a good fit with each other.

Parker jumped up excitedly. “That means... I have to go talk to Hardison!”

Before the two men could blink, Parker had given them an awkward squeeze resembling a hug and bounced out the door. Nate and Eliot looked at each other.

“Should we call and warn him?” Eliot asked.

“I'm sure Parker will explain in her own way.” Nate responded. He looked once more to the door, then back at Eliot. “To the park?”

“To the park.” Eliot nodded as the two walked to the door. “You do realize that if this doesn't work, Sophie's gonna kill us, right?”

“It's Hardison and it involves Parker.” Nate said. “It'll work.”


The next day at the office......................

Eliot and Nate stood in the kitchen, each one leaning against the counter on opposite sides.

“Looks like it worked.” Eliot commented.

Nate nodded. “Told you it would.”

They watched as Kenzie and Sophie had a tea party on the rug in front of the couch. To the left of them, in one of the chairs, sat Hardison. Parker was on his lap and both of them had a big smile on their face and a tea cup in their hand. Grabbing a tray of snacks, the two men took their seats next to Sophie and the entire family stopped work to join their favorite five year old for Jello cups and make believe tea.

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January 2013

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