” Nate asked.“Third floor,” Eliot said to someone and to Nate; Hardison glanced at the feed, clicked a couple of times, and brought up a packed elevator. “Eliot, they’re Lamont Security Services.”“You are,” the woman said. Didn’t seem right that security didn’t have cameras inside, and he said as much.“No, it’s not,” Nate agreed. Moments later, someone banged on Lucille’s back door, just before Eliot and Parker climbed in.“You okay, mama? “I know the cameras now, and we can track their routine,” she said reasonably. We’ll do this another way.”Hardison reached over to turn Sophie back up.From what Hardison could hear, she sounded skeptical. I need to call you in.” She raised her wrist to her mouth. We had an attempted break-in, so we’re holding someone in here.”“How was she caught? Hardison heard an engine start, probably Nate’s car. “We’ll discuss it in the office.”“Yes, we will,” Nate said, his tone a shade darker. “I must do some verification before we can complete this, of course,” she said. ”He switched the camera feed to the one outside the VP’s glassed-in office. Never should have happened.”“Everyone slips sometimes.”Hardison reached over and touched her cheek.”That left a jumble of Sophie, Nate, and Eliot talking; for his own sanity, Hardison turned down Sophie and Eliot to listen in on Nate, as much as he ached to know if Eliot could see Parker. You can find out all their patterns and habits, and we can find out about their other ethical violations.”Eliot grimaced, but pushed open the door again; as soon as he jumped out, Nate climbed in. Who happened to be played by Hardison, since Nate had to be the middleman because he was a control freak. So he was in a basement, cuffed to a table, two Norwegians—Norwegians, who would have thought they would be hardasses like this? At least he had his earbud still.“She’ll pay,” Hardison said confidently.“You don’t deserve it. And I imagine we’re in a shoddy part of town, aren’t we? Sophie stood in front of them, wielding a camera with a huge flash attached, and he glared ineffectually at her. Hardison began to deny it, then realized he had his head tucked almost under Eliot’s chin, hand on his thigh, and Parker under his other arm.If he could, he’d keep her safe, Hardison knew, but that didn’t change facts.“She was heading for the vault,” the security guard—no officer about it in Hardison’s mind—was saying. Damn it, Hardison, we told you not to oversell it, and what did you do? ”“That really narrows it down,” Eliot grumbled.“Hardison, keep talking. He cleared his throat and shifted, taking his hand away from Eliot’s leg.” Eliot demanded.“She said we were adorable.”“I’m not adorable,” Parker said, so matter-of-fact that Hardison didn’t feel like arguing.“She say anything else?” Eliot asked.“Didn’t mention my hand on your thigh, if that’s what you’re asking.” He glanced back at them. ”“Parker, let the man heal in peace.” Hardison tossed him an icepack, which he caught with his better hand and slapped to his wrist.She gave Parker a speculative look, but didn’t say anything.“I mean, none of what I’ve seen.
None of him looked old then.”Eliot gritted his teeth, but he didn’t say anything.“Doesn’t mean he’s not old,” Hardison said.“If he’s old, what does that make me? ”“I’m working on it, Nate, I’m doing like five things at once. “We’re in business.”“Let us know if you hear anything that sounds like they might have her.”“Got it.”“Security audit, at least that’s one thing in our favor,” Eliot muttered. We’ll get a full report once we’re sure the suspect isn’t going to die.He managed to push himself to his feet and stagger to the refrigerator, pulling out a bottle.Later, when Sophie had gone to find Nate and Eliot and Parker were watching Hardison’s fingers fly across the keyboard, he said casually, “She took a picture.”“She what? Remember when you took the thingy with the glowing thingy and then you used it to kill the guy who was on the shiny stuff and then also there was all this magic? Parker: They're an elf, a dwarf, and a thing with a tail...pretty sure they're pretend.” Sophie asked.“Elegant,” he said without missing a beat.“Excellent answer.”When she’d left again, Parker slid closer to Eliot on the couch. She handed it over with a smile of her own and pointed him toward the restroom, and Hardison watched the cameras follow Eliot down the hall, caught him vanishing into the restroom and then reappearing with his hair tied back and one of those security comms hooked to nothing in his ear, and to the elevator. The four of them said nothing, and in the silence, Hardison felt his pulse pick up. Personally, Hardison would have sniped it at him.“Hardison, which badges do you have? A red light flashed on Hardison’s screen, and he clicked, then grabbed a headset. In the meantime, she’ll be taken out as my prisoner.”“Sure, Detective,” Eliot said.