The Old Races ~ Chapter 1

Title: When Our Shadows Clash
Fandom:  Leverage
Pairings: Eliot/Nathan Ford; Alec Hardison/Parker
Rating: PG-15
Word Count: 6,151
Summary: Alternate Universe – Supernatural Elements. In a world where the Old Races and humans live together, Eliot is a bounty hunter/retrieval specialist. Takes place during Seasons 1 and 2 up to The Bottle Job. Episode related.
Author’s Note: 2011 Leverage Secret Santa Exchange

EM93D54

 

~ Pre The Nigerian Job ~

No one paid any attention to the black hawk perched in the top of the ancient oak that stood guard over the old mansion. With a strong leap and lazy flap of wings, the large black raptor circled the house riding the thermals. Landing in another oak tree, but hidden from sight, the bird disappeared.

~}}}~~~>

David Harmon let out a snort of disgust when he saw the large gray, long-haired tomcat sitting regally on his flagstone patio. He’d have to have a word with the neighbors about letting their pets run loose. It wouldn’t do to have his high powered corporate cronies smell cat piss when they stepped out of the house for an after dinner smoke.

He watched the big tom stalk across the patio toward the flower bed and disappear in the gray and black shadows of evening. Opening the window he yelled at the animal.

“Don’t shit in the flower beds!”

The cat ignored him.

In the heart of the night, shadows moved across the floor of the master suite and into the hallway. Blue/grey eyes reflected eerily in the ambient light of the room. A light touch made short work of opening the safes in the house. Even white teeth flashed in the dark as an ancient artifact was carefully slid into a protective pocket inside the kevlar vest. Satisfied that everything else looked undisturbed, the long black shadow slipped out the window that had been so carelessly closed only hours before.

~}}}~~~>

Turning on his phone once he deplaned at the Tulsa International Airport, Eliot Spencer saw the message from someone named Dubenich. He ignored the message and headed for the car rental counter.

Pulling to a stop in front of a small, but neatly kept house, he pulled a duffle out of the back and approached the man with a face like weathered granite and sharp black eyes sitting on the porch. He set the bag at the elder’s feet and took a step back.

“E-du-di (Grandfather), I have brought what the Council hired me to retrieve.”

Pulling open the duffel, Walter Black Dog smiled. *Such a good boy was his grandson.* Pulling out the tobacco, sage and a beautiful wool blanket, which he set aside carefully, he finally got to the real treasure. Another beautiful blanket wrapped around a wooden box. Lifting the lid carefully the old man gasped at the power resonating off the items inside.

He stole a quick glance at the man waiting patiently, standing at parade rest. He seemed not to notice the magical energies dancing through the air until Black Dog saw the arched eyebrow asking if he was done playing with him.

The old man chuckled as he re-wrapped the box. He put his gifts back in the duffel.

“Let’s go see the idiots that are going to pay you.” He headed for the Jeep, Eliot jogging to keep up.

Dropping Walter back at his house, Eliot smiled at the cash pressed against his ribs. It felt good to get several pounds of flesh back from the people who’d treated him like shit when he was growing up, but ultimately had to call him when they wanted their artifacts back from the families whose ancestors had stolen them from Tsalagi graves many years before.

By midnight he was on a plane for Chicago to find out what this Dubenich cat wanted retrieved.

~ Post The First David Job ~

Walter Black Dog watched Eliot carefully. He’d ghosted into the house a week before, but had made himself scarce most days. The boy hadn’t been this uncommunicative since The Gywdion Laird had given him and his sister into Black Dog’s care after their parents were killed taking down a warlock. The rogue had been killing humans and members of the Old Races alike, capturing their spirits for use in his workings.

His sister, Rhiannon, had become the high level adept in the family, not showing any of the talents carried through their father’s Tsalagi blood. She had returned to the Clan’s ancestral home in Scotland to continue her studies when she’d reached the age of majority.

Eliot carried the full weight of the Tsalagi and Gwydion blood. Though he was an above average mage, it was his ability to shift into any creature with a thought, and his mastery of many fighting systems that made him one of the most formidable men on the planet. If the Gwydion Clan Lord called Eliot to handle a problem, you could bet the farm the situation was dire, and the rogue beyond redemption.

Having Eliot home thrilled the Guardian, but the anger and hurt clouding Eliot’s aura had him concerned. His boy had been working with two humans, a Tuatha De Danann Fae, and a member of the Reynard (Fox) Clan for almost a year with little in the way of true complaints until he showed up at the door injured, and looking like an Oklahoma thunderhead about to spawn a tornado.

When Walter had tried to get him to talk, the retrieval specialist had shifted to his silver pelted wolf form and with a growl trotted away from the house. He’d returned three days later thinner, but in better humor no longer growling, but still not talking.

A month passed. Everything that needed fixed around the small ranch had been. A half a dozen more artifacts had been liberated from private collections. One of Eliot’s less than savory contacts had started to veer into dangerous territory until Eliot paid him a visit that resulted in the coyote shifter acquiring the religion of Elyat, a shadowy reference to his adopted grandson that always made Black Dog smile.

He inhaled the tantalizing aromas that wafted from his plate. Once Eliot was settled at the table, knowing black eyes caught dull blue/grey.

“When are you leaving?”

That his Elder knew shouldn’t surprise him.

“Tomorrow.”

“Are you going back to your lone wolf ways, or do you return to your new family?”

Taken aback, Eliot scowled at the old man.

“I’m going to take care of some … Unfinished business in Los Angeles.” He gestured with his fork. “That’s all.”

Black Dog didn’t bother hiding his snicker.

“You should act your age.” Eliot growled as he pointedly ignored his grandfather’s antics.

~ Post The Second David Job ~

The next time Walter saw Eliot, it was near Christmas. The enforcer was more relaxed, his aura as clear as someone with Eliot’s past ever got.

He came bearing brightly wrapped gifts, too much food, and a small strong box he bent over like a starving wolf with a carcass. Walter was about to question his youngster when Eliot sat the box and its key in front of him. Black Dog gasped and sat down heavily after opening the box. Eliot had continued collecting artifacts while he’d been away. He looked up at his boy.

“Eliot?”

“I’m leavin’ for a while, E-du-di.” Eliot looked away.

Walter wanted to rain curses down on the people that put the wary look back in Eliot’s expression, but knew the youngster would have put protections on these people he cared about, but seemed destined to hurt him.

“Where?”

“Can’t say.” Eliot huffed.

Eliot saw his Grandfather stiffen at his words. He unbent a little.

“If you need me call the number.”

~}}}~~~>

He lay perfectly still—keeping his breathing steady. The shadows in the room told him dawn was still several hours in the future. His heart stopped as he felt warm breath on his face.

“Where’s Eliot?” A strident voice demanded.

The flash of light from his bedside lamp temporarily blinded him, but at least his heart had started to beat again albeit a little faster than normal.

Blonde hair, dark blue eyes that were narrowed to slits as they stared at him, and a whiff of Eliot’s magics gave Black Dog a clue to the woman’s identity.

“Eliot’s little Fae friend.” Walter muttered before he could censor himself.

“What!”

“I said,” Black Dog sat up, running his hand over his face to encourage his brain to wake up, “you must be Parker, Eliot’s Fae friend.”

“Oh. Yeah. Guess I am. Anyway. Where is he?”

“Not here.”

She rolled her eyes as she perched on the edge of the window seat.

“I already know that. I wouldn’t have woke you up if he was here.”

He pulled on his robe and headed for the kitchen. Parker stayed where she was.

“You coming? You woke me up so you might as well join me.”

With a grin, Parker scuttled around the Elder and practically skipped to the kitchen.

Walter smirked at the wide eyed expression on the thief’s face when he set a cup of hot chocolate in front of her. Delicate as a cat, Parker took a sniff before a smile broke across her face.

“This smells like what Eliot makes me.” She took a sip savoring the rich flavor.

“He makes me up a batch when he’s here. Always seems to know when my supply is getting low.”

Walter sat across from her.

“Why are you here, Parker?” He asked quietly.

“I’m bored. Eliot was teaching me to fight before Sop … Before we had to scatter, and I wanted him to teach me some more.”

“Eliot’s not here, and before you ask I don’t know where he is. He never says except to say it’s safer if I don’t know, but you’re welcome to stay if you’d like.”

The midnight blue eyes lit up and went wide at the offer.

“You can use the spare room. It used to be Eliot’s sister’s but she doesn’t visit anymore.” His tone held a touch of sadness that pricked Parker’s curiosity.

“Okay.”

Walter‘s expression was thoughtful as he watched the slim woman go to her car and retrieve her bag. Even for a Tuatha De Danann she was a tad strange though he seemed to remember Eliot grumbling about Humans trying to raise Fae, and twenty pounds of crazy in a five pound bag. He hadn’t known why Eliot had been angry, but now he understood.

The following week was never dull, once Black Dog got used to Parker appearing right under his nose. He was feeding the horses one day when a voice from the barn rafters informed him that ‘horses don’t really kill clowns, and she was glad Eliot didn’t marry Aimee because she was too high maintenance for a guy like him.’

Well that explained a lot the Guardian thought as he threw a smile toward the shadows and continued his chores. Walter smiled as he watched Parker trying to make friends with him. Things disappeared then reappeared. She would watch him with her old eyes before asking him something incredibly profound or incredibly off the wall.

“What do you know about me?” She asked one evening.

Walter looked up from the turtle shell rattle he’d been putting together.

“Not very much. Eliot isn’t much of a talker.”

“Pfft. I know that, silly.” She flapped her hand to show that wasn’t the question. “I mean Fae me not me me.”

He laid the rattle aside and gave the blonde his full attention.

“Usually my field of expertise is the Old Races native to this country and their abilities, but I know a little bit about the Tuatha De Danann, and some from other countries.”

Holding up a finger for him to wait, Parker dashed to the kitchen, grabbed a bowl of cereal and was back, curled up on the couch before Black Dog could ask what she was doing. When she nodded that she was situated, the old man began his stories.

~}}}~~~>

It was deep in the night when Walter stopped talking. He looked over at the couch to see Parker just as bright eyed as when he’d started. She’d asked a few questions, but mainly listened, carefully remembering every word he said. He laid down the finished rattle and cleaned up his tools.

“On that note it’s time for this old man to go to bed.” He rose from his chair.

Parker’s face turned thoughtful as she watched him carefully lay the turtle shell rattle among fans, bells, and bits and pieces of what looked like costumes she’d seen in some of the horse magazines she often found at Eliot’s. When Walter started toward the hall her expression became stubborn.

“There’s one of the Old Races you didn’t tell me about.” She called after him.

His face was calm when he looked back at her.

“You didn’t tell me about Eliot.”

“Eliot is … Eliot. Complicated, simple, highly intelligent but sometimes a tad thick.” He held his hand up to stop her protest. “Anything else you will have to learn from him.”

“But …”

Walter Black Dog turned his full attention on Parker. His immovable expression actually gave her pause.

“Eliot will tell you what he wants, but I will not for I will not damage to the trust we have built. Now. You are welcome here as long as you wish, but the only tales told of Eliot will be the ones you tell me about your jobs.” He turned back toward his bed. “Pleasant dreams to you, Parker.”

Parker started to complain, but snapped her mouth shut when it occurred to her that she would not like it if Eliot tracked down her mentor. A smile lit her face—at least she learned more about being Fae. Eliot had been teaching her, but Sophie’s little stunt ended their sessions just as the enforcer was getting to the good stuff. *Damn it, Sophie!* She thought as she got ready for bed. She’d stay another day or two … Maybe get Walter to help her practice some of the things he’d told her.

~ Somewhere in the Middle East ~

The Shaheen falcon rode the thermals as it hunted the outcroppings and cliffs along the mountain valley. The group of people below gave no thought to the beautiful raptor as they kept a careful watch of their surroundings. The falcon disappeared from sight obviously having no luck while sharing the pass with humans.

As the shadows lengthened, they began hunting for suitable shelter from the chill of the mountain night. A short canyon to the left looked promising. The group started that way when the falcon appeared from nowhere flying toward the man at the head of the group. The falcon screeched and flew in the opposite direction. With a last look toward the canyon, the group turned to follow the agitated bird.

Darkness was falling rapidly, but still the bird flew on until it banked right and disappeared. The man in front of the group lamented the falcon’s sanity and bloodlines as the group continued to walk despite their exhaustion only to turn to the right and stop at the sight of the silver pelted wolf glowing in the twilight. The man who’d been walking point looked down at the wolf.

“Seriously?”

Blue/grey eyes twinkled as the wolf stood and headed through the rock fall. The man was dressed in native clothing, but heavily armed as he directed the people to follow the wolf bringing up the rear—erasing any signs of the group’s passing.

The wolf led the people to a fire reflecting off the pool of water at a small oasis, the armed man watched their back trail.

The man cursed when he saw a silver flash in the failing light.

“Dammit.” He hissed after the wolf.

His squad had been chosen for this job because they worked well with the Old Races. Their Captain had told them the shifter was in charge. The man’s plans were meticulous, and most of the time he and his men were merely backup to shifter’s actions. The long haired man never said his name so they’d taken to calling him ‘Lobo’, which had caused a smirk the first time one of they had used it. Now he was watching the wolf head back the way they’d come to collect the rest of his squad who were helping the majority of the men move their sheep and goats to their new location.

Two hours later he heard the sounds of men and animals moving through the dark. They’d done this a half dozen times before without a hitch. This was the last one before their unit returned to the States, and they were all more than ready. He didn’t know what Lobo did when they weren’t with him, and watching his Captain’s expressions when he read the man’s jacket, he was glad to be ignorant of those details.

~ Newcastleton, Scotland ~

Seamus Eliot looked out his window toward the ruins of Hermitage Castle, the ancestral home of the Eliots. The frown marring the rugged face was not usually seen, for it wouldn’t do to scare the tourists staying at the Liddesale Hotel. As owner of the hotel, Laird of Clan Eliot, and The Gwydion, paying customers were not something you took for granted.

When he’d sent Eliot Spencer to hunt down the rogue wolf shifter and Djinn that were hiding among the Taliban, he hadn’t expected to receive a phone call from a man identifying himself as Eliot’s former CIA liaison congratulating him and asking where he wanted the Gwydion Clan’s share of the reward for three Taliban leaders that had turned up on the news dead in the last six months. When he’d asked for clarification, he’d been informed Spencer had taken his usual cut, but the CIA needed updated information from the Clan. The man had said he usually spoke with Rhiannon on such matters, but since he had THE Gwydion on the line, he’d ask him.

Seamus had quietly transferred the call to his wife. The new receptionist had thought she was sending the call to Accounting, but got him by mistake. He gave it a few minutes and when his wife didn’t come to him, he went looking for her.

He practically crashed through her office door to confront her about her brother’s activities when the sight of his wife nursing their newborn daughter took all the wind out of his sails. Female high level adepts rarely had children. The stress of the magics on their bodies made pregnancy and birth difficult and dangerous. That Rhiannon had given them not only a son, but also a daughter was a miracle in itself. He sat down in the chair across from his wife with a thump.

“You pimped your baby brother to the CIA, again?” He kept his voice low in deference to his daughter, but the bite of his anger was evident.

With a sigh, she put the baby over her shoulder before answering.

“He was headed that way anyway. I just took advantage of the situation.” She cringed inwardly. The words sounded cold even to her ears. The baby fussed.

“All the weeks of worry, sleepless nights, roller coaster of emotions you went through when he’d go missing for months in some backwater country … You being the one responsible for him being there in the first place.” His voice grew louder until the baby burped than started to react to her parents’ emotions.

“Eliot’s an Alpha. He did what needed done.” Rhiannon Spencer’s voice was firm as she contained her emotions, and soothed the baby.

“He was a boy!” He practically shouted as Rhiannon settled their daughter in her bassinet before rounding on her husband.

“That boy did what was necessary to protect his family and his Clan.” She hissed as she pulled her husband into the hallway.

“Does Black Dog know?”

“I had to tell him, especially after Eliot returned to Oklahoma so suddenly when he was supposed to be here receiving his magical education. He probably would have been Adept class if someone hadn’t wolfed out and challenged him. Eliot knew this wasn’t his pack, that’s why he wouldn’t fight you, but he refused to let his sister live in poverty because the Clan coffers were empty. Why do you think I cajoled The McKenna into training me to take over the Clan’s finances?” She practically growled.

The Scotsman paled under his tan.

“His time with …” Seamus clamped his jaw shut on the name.

Eliot had been practically feral when he’d come to their door all pie-eyed and snappish after his years with Damien Moreau. When he’d finally relaxed, they’d find him in odd spots—curled around their son, or with their Irish wolf hounds … Seldom in his own bed. When he left he hadn’t come again until the birth of their daughter.

Rhiannon didn’t tell her husband how profitable that time had been. Eliot’s work for the alphabet agencies in the US and UK had brought their finances into the black where they’d been ever since. There was money to pay other hunters besides Eliot, plus keep in operation one of the few refuges for the Old Races to come and learn about and practice their talents and abilities. The reward money from the Taliban members would keep them solvent for years to come.

“What about today?” Seamus asked.

He really did care about his brother-in-law, even though the man scared the daylights out of him, and he prays every day Eliot never challenges him to be The Alpha.

“An added bonus along with the rogues. He doesn’t have to do any of it for the Clan anymore.” Rhiannon assured him.

She had truckloads of guilt over what her brother’s life had become to keep their clan in hearth and home, but he had survived and come out the other side. Other than what she read on paper, she had no way of knowing what he’d gone through since Eliot had cut their familial bond when he’d gone into Delta Force.

“He’s making a quick stop to see Maeve and Eirnin on his way back to the States.” Rhiannon informed her husband as she opened the door to her office.

Maeve was sleeping soundly now that the high emotions between her parents had calmed.

Before going back to work, Rhiannon brushed her lips across her husband’s.

“Eliot doesn’t want your place, Love. He just wants a little peace and maybe his own family.” She walked back in her office and shut the door.

Angry that his wife and enlisted her brother to keep the Clan afloat, but relieved that money was no longer a problem The Gwydion Laird headed to the Hermitage to let the ancient ruins soothe his ire.

~ Pre The Beantown Bailout Job ~

After the debriefing of his last mission, providing proof of identity of the two rogues, and the Taliban members he’d killed … Eliot Spencer caught a ride to the airport, and used the ticket Sophie had bought him under his Mark Baker alias to get back to the US. He smirked as he entered the jet way, the idiots that had been tailing him still watching the gate for the flight his CIA liaison had booked.

Eliot settled into the plush first class seat letting the drone of the jet engines lull him into a meditative state. His senses were still hyper-aware from being in a war zone, so sleep was out of the question, but meditating was almost as good. Bones and muscles ached from the multiple shifts in a short span of time so he concentrated on relaxing each of his muscles until he dropped into a light doze that lasted until half way across the Atlantic. He spent the rest of the trip wondering if Sophie was planning a team reunion, and how they would be with each after being separated almost a year.

“You know we’ve been doin’ some really hinkey stuff in Pakistan.” Hardison marveled as they sat at the bar consoling Sophie. “Where were you, Eliot?”

All eyes turned to the retrieval specialist. “Pakistan.” He hesitated. “This do gooder stuff gets under your skin.” He growled as he reached for his beer.

Stretched out on Nate’s bedroom floor with Parker tucked against his chest, Hardison on the other side, Sophie commandeering the bed with an unconscious Nate on the couch, Eliot marveled at how they came back together so seamlessly. As for himself, Parker and Hardison, they weren’t quite ready to place their full trust in the now sober Nate or Sophie. He’d been nearly ready to throttle Parker when she whispered in his ear that she’d met Walter, who was teaching her about being a Fae.

“He’s our secret.” She whispered against his chest. “Now I have a live family.” She’d let out a little sigh, and went to sleep.

Eliot cursed Walter and his affinity toward strays then gave in to the inevitable. He’d been adopted by Walter and Parker. Trying to change either of their minds was right up there with moving mountains and draining swamps … It just didn’t happen. His mouth curved upward as Parker wound around him—Walter was always happiest when he had someone to mother hen. With Parker in the picture maybe he’d get a little breathing room.

~ The Tap-Out Job ~

Leaning on the ropes, as he watched Sophie walk away, Eliot wondered at the grifter’s attention to him. Was she interested in his mental state through all this because she actually cared, or was she simply studying him like a bug on a pin? Sophie was, after all a Reynard. The ‘Fox’ Clan weren’t shifters—they were Talents—carrying a charisma that made them great at being politicians, televangelists, and grifters—among other things. Turning back into the ring, he tugged his gloves off and began a series of katas to cool down before heading to the showers.

Changing positions in his seat in an attempt to get comfortable, Eliot wished he was someplace where he could shift. He always healed faster in animal form. Letting his form shimmer with the change when he knew the flight attendant was watching got him the distance he needed from everyone except Parker, who didn’t let the fact that he was beat up and surly stop her from using him as a pillow. He glanced up in time to catch Hardison looking at the blonde pressed against his side like someone kicked his puppy. Rolling his eyes, Eliot started a list of the reasons it was better to work alone.

For a week after they got back from Nebraska, Nate fussed and hovered until Eliot was ready to divulge his true nature just to get the mastermind to back off.

After he was healed, Nate continued to touch, pet, and get in his space until fed up with his antics, Eliot had bluntly asked him if he was trying to get in his pants. Nate had blushed, sputtered and stuttered until the shifter mage had pulled him into a kiss that short circuited his rapid fire brain.

Later when Eliot’s softened cock slid out of this body, Nate had asked in a bleary voice why they hadn’t done this before.

Raising himself on hands and knees to move off Nate, blue eyes met.

“I don’t do drunks … Functional or not.” He said simply as he went into the bathroom to clean up.

He returned shortly with a cloth and with quick and easy strokes wiped Nate down. He was settled back in the bed with Nate pulled against his chest before Nate spoke.

“So we wouldn’t have done this if I was still drinking?”

“That’s right.”

“If I start again?” He asked, his brow furrowed in thought.

“We’ll stop doing this.” Eliot answered bluntly as he turned out the light.

~}}}~~~>

They were good together. Nate stayed out of the bottle and Eliot let himself fall. If the drive to win no matter the cost kept Nate out of the scotch, Eliot was willing to pay the price. In the back of the retrieval specialist’s mind always loomed the possibility that his staying in one place for an extended amount of time would allow his past to rear its violent head.

~ The Two Live Crew Job ~

Standing in Sophie’s apartment as she held the vase full of explosives, he was so angry he wanted to snap and snarl at them all. Instead his voice was blunt, but calm when he and Parker explained their options. Giving Parker a look that had the thief shoving Hardison out of the room and pulling on Nate’s arm, which was almost impossible because the mastermind kept trying to pull away.

“I’m staying!” Nate insisted.

Eliot heard the desperation in Nate’s voice as he fought against Parker. He knew Nate and Sophie had a lot of history, but what he heard in Nate’s voice didn’t leave any room for him. Gritting his teeth against the stabbing pain in his chest, Eliot stopped just outside the apartment door and watched as Parker shoved Nate toward the stairs.

Hearing Sophie running from the apartment, he began his incantation. He grabbed her as she ran out the door just as he said the last word of the spell, the world erupted in flames. Keeping the brunette pulled tight against him, the fire licked around his shielding.

Shock kept Sophie pliant so she didn’t fight Eliot when he pulled her toward the stairs. Only when they stood at the door to the lobby did he let the shield drop. It was also at the door to the lobby that Sophie regained her equilibrium.

“What!? Eliot!? What’s going on? How did ….” She stopped in her tracks. “You’re one of the Old Ones!” She gasped. “Why …?”

“Why do you think?” Eliot growled as he stalked through the door in front of the grifter.

“But we could use your …”

The glare Eliot turned on her froze her blood and her words.

“Typical Reynard.” He spat. She paled.

They headed out the back of the building, away from the gawkers and emergency personnel. The blast had blown out the cameras around the buildings giving them the chance to smuggle Sophie out without anyone the wiser.

Sophie watched Parker sidle up against Eliot, offering him comfort in her blunt backward fashion. The hitter had given her a tight smile, which communicated more than the grifter could decipher until she caught Parker giving her a steely eyed stare while Nate and Hardison watched camera footage from around her building.

The grifter in her marveled at the interaction between Eliot and Parker—she wondered briefly if they were lovers, but Eliot had treated the blonde more like an annoying sibling than anything else. Parker being protective of Eliot … Perhaps she was privy to his little secret. Her imagination had often fancied Parker as something more than human, and the body language between Eliot and Parker screamed ‘SECRET!’. She wondered if Nate knew his ‘boy’ was one of the Old Races. She was still a little peeved at Nate for taking Eliot to his bed instead of her, but her apartment exploding had just given her the perfect opportunity.

She’d let Eliot and Parker have their secret, but when she finished her little sabbatical to settle all the different pieces of herself, she would be taking Nate back from Eliot, or maybe she’d keep Nate and Eliot. The scene with her last lover had left her shaken. With Nate and Eliot she could be herself, and not have to worry about keeping her personas straight.

Now all she had to do was break the news to Nate and the team.

~}}}~~~>

Seeing Sophie lying so still in the casket actually made a twinge in Eliot’s chest. He didn’t have to fake the emotions showing through his words as he eulogized ‘Katherine’.

After Sophie’s departure to ‘find herself’, it took several jobs for them to find their equilibrium. The one place Eliot could not find his footing was with Nate. The mastermind was grieving like Sophie was really dead and not off on a world tour, making things rocky between them.

Eliot was hurt and wanted go to ground between jobs in order to heal, but Parker’s anxiety and anger over losing her connection to ‘how to act normal’ led to Hardison’s flailing while he tried to figure out how to comfort the skittish thief. They kept Eliot trapped in Boston as he somehow became the linchpin that kinda sorta kept them focused. When Sophie threw Tara Cole at them, it was close to being the straw that broke the retrieval specialist.

Eliot tried to hold on, but everyday Nate pulled further away … Constantly calling and talking to Sophie’s voicemail, so when Mark Doyle challenged him to drink with him, Eliot and Parker had silently pleaded with him from across the bar not to take the drink. There was a minute pause as if he might be thinking of what he was losing by taking the drink, but he looked directly at Eliot with a challenge rather an apology in his bloodshot blue eyes as he threw back the shot of Jameson’s, then turned his attention back to Doyle.

Devastated, Eliot and Parker turned their attention back to Doyle’s boys.

~ Post The Bottle Job ~

Nate woke the next morning … Head pounding, sick and alone. Dragging himself to the shower, he felt slightly more human, but as he moved from the bathroom to the bedroom there was a ‘wrong’ feeling about the room. The feeling grew as he moved carefully down the stairs. The chill darkness of the apartment caused a shiver to run down his spine. Waiting for the coffeepot to produce badly needed caffeine, his eyes roamed over the apartment.

Seeing the time, he was amazed that Hardison wasn’t puttering around the room, though it been close to dawn when they’d wrapped up the job. He and Cora had sat reminiscing about her father over shots for another hour or so before she’d gone back to the office and stretched out on the couch.

Pouring a generous dollop of Bushmills in his coffee, he turned on the television to see the results from the information McCann, Donnelly and Cabella had gotten from Doyle. He grinned maliciously watching various members of the Irish Mob doing the perp walk.

Brain beginning to function, Nate still couldn’t shake the feeling of something missing. If Parker had begun lifting things from the apartment to show her disapproval of his falling off the wagon, she was going to catch the sharp side of his tongue. The expressions on her and Eliot’s faces as he’d downed that shot was …

Eliot.

His coffee cup danced precariously on the counter with the haste he set it down and dashed up the steps. All the small touches that said Eliot was settling into their relationship were gone. Almost falling down the spiral staircase in his haste to get back to the kitchen, he tried to remember where the enforcer kept ‘his’ things.

Empty. Empty. Gone. Gone. Cabinet doors and drawers hung open as the mastermind checked them all.

He didn’t know many things about Eliot, but the one thing he’d known to the bottom of his soul was that Eliot was a man of his word. Apparently he’d not only retrieved his personal belongings, but Nate’s hacker and thief as well.

His alcohol abused body finally refused to obey the adrenaline pumped brain and collapsed on the couch as the bloodshot blue eyes stared unseeing at the pictures of chaos they’d caused in Boston’s Irish community. He searched his pockets frantically. Finding his phone he hit the number 1.

“Sophie, please pick up. I’ve really screwed up, and I need you.”

~}}}~~~>

Sharp black eyes watched the cloud of red dust rolling across the field from under the wheels of the pickup truck that rolled to a stop in front of his small, but neatly kept house. The black eyes twinkled as sharp ears heard the complaints from inside the vehicle. He didn’t know what caused the sudden silence, but knowing two of the three people in the truck, he could imagine.

Before he could blink, his arms were full of a squirming, grinning blonde hugging the breath out of him. Quickly whispered words and his arms were empty when like quicksilver the Tuatha De Danann was tugging a young black man from the front seat of the crew cab truck.

Black eyes darted to the haggard looking man climbing from behind the wheel. Everything about him screamed of being in pain though he could see no wounds. Blue/grey eyes locked with black.

“E-du-di?” The gravel whisper was choked.

The Elder gave a nod. In a breath a silver pelted wolf stood by the Fae. Parker threw her arms around the wolf’s neck and buried her face in his ruff.

“I’ll take care of it.” She whispered as she let go.

In another breath the wolf was gone, streaking across the grasslands.

The Elder grinned at the pole-axed expression on the youngster’s face. With mischief dancing in dark blue eyes, Parker grinned at the old man.

“Grandfather, meet Hardison.”

~ Finis ~

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