Title: Offer
Fandom: Leverage
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: brief mild language, implications of evil guys, memories of violence, and oh yeah—getting slashy
Characters/Pairings: Nathan/Eliot (definitely headed this way now), mentions of OFC client
Disclaimer: Y'all know I don't own Leverage, right?
Feedback: Is worth a hundred times its weight in gold.
Summary: There's a reason Eliot isn't going home.
Notes: Follows Barcode and Puzzle. And yeah, we're officially headed towards Nathan/Eliot slash. \o/

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Eliot was reading Kant's Critiques for the forty-third time.

He took his time, reading as slowly as he could stand, digesting every word—but it had been less than two hours and he was barely fifty pages from the end of the first.

They'd set up their trip to the precinct. They would get the complete case file tomorrow night. It would be slightly more complicated than a typical case, since there was human, not just machine, validation involved in getting to the file and they had to be sure no one at the precinct knew any of the thieves' faces.

Dammit.

Eliot focused on the words again, trying in vain to block out the invading thoughts. He knew that girl, and considering he'd done such a good job of forgetting where he knew her from, it left a very short list of places he might have met her. He knew the Aquarius Corporation, but he couldn't remember where he'd heard that one either.

Nathan knew. He knew.

Eliot became abruptly aware that his hand was running over the barcode tattoo. He slammed it down on the chair arm.

The book had declined in importance; Eliot wasn't even looking at the pages now. His mind was… elsewhere. He ducked his head forward, letting his hair hide his face. He didn't like the way he looked. The way they'd trained him to look.

Eliot could swear he smelled blood. He looked at his hand and found that he'd dug four crescent-shaped wounds in his palm with his nails.

He closed his eyes, forcing his mind back to the present. This wasn't there; he was out. Safe. He was never going back. They didn't control him anymore. He didn't have to listen to anyone else, go on what should have been suicide missions for the privilege of staying alive and breathing fresh air; this was his life. He'd created it. It was safe.

But he could remember the feeling of bones breaking in his hands as he slammed the first attacker's arm down over his knee. He could remember that little boy's terror as for the first time, he thrust a thumb tip into the pulse point, hard enough and in just the right spot so that the blood vessel burst.

He was good at what they'd taught him to do. He still did it.

What the hell had he been thinking? He'd practically shown Nate the tattoo. What were the odds that he wouldn't say something?

A hand on his shoulder snapped him back to reality. He turned, standing from the chair and grabbing the hand. Without thinking, he bent the person's wrist into a hold that would make it very painful for them to resist. He lunged forward and was an inch away from delivering a blow that would have snapped the person's neck—

And he stopped.

"Nathan?"

"Yeah." Ford was holding very still. "Mind letting go of my arm? I'd like to be able to use it tomorrow."

Eliot blinked, then remembered what the other was talking about. He let go and stepped back fast, trying to make his body relax from its fighting readiness. "What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I wondered why you were staying here," Nathan said. Eliot could see that it wasn't the real reason, but he answered anyway. Of course, he lied. He was a thief, after all.

"I was here. Figured I'd just stay here."

Nathan didn't believe him. "Right," he said. Eliot recognized the tone from the talk they'd had at the pool table. It was being turned on him. Irony really sucked sometimes. "Because, being a multimillionaire, you couldn't possibly afford to go to a hotel."

Eliot wanted to look away or duck his head, but that was against the rules of this game. So he smiled.

"Didn't feel like it," he said. "Is there a point to this?"

"Is it because of them?" Nathan seemed to be trying to X-ray Eliot with his eyes. "Are they watching?"

"I just stayed here." The smile vanished. "What's wrong with that?"

"Nothing," Nathan said. "Unless you wanted to stay somewhere else."

Eliot frowned. "What?" Nathan couldn't possibly mean what had just jumped into Eliot's mind. Hell, Eliot didn't believe he'd just thought it.

"If they're watching your place…" Nathan looked uncomfortable. Either he'd meant what Eliot thought, or he wanted to be clear that he didn't. "…You could stay at mine. Until it's safe to go back."

Eliot shook his head. "Thanks, but I'm fine here." He smiled again, not quite so empty this time. "You should go home, though. Can't have our fearless leader falling asleep on the job."

Nathan nodded, waved a hasty good-bye, and hurried out the door.