Author's Note: Leverage characters and world are, sadly, not mine. I'm not trying to infringe in anyway… I've just got to get this stuff out of my head before it starts keeping me up nights. (You know what I'm talking about, right?) I want to thank the creators and writers of the show for gifting us with such a wonderfully fun show. But honestly, did you have to make the Eliot character so darn adorable that I had to come out of fanfic retirement? sigh

The Retrieval Job

Chapter One ~ Save Me

"So we're going to Paris, then?" Parker asked.

"We're going to Paris," Nate nodded.

"I better get some time for shopping this time around," Sophie said with a theatrical snarl in Nate's direction.

As Eliot pushed away from the table, his cell phone vibrated against his hipbone. He pulled it free and looked at the display. Nothing but a scrambled mess of numbers and symbols. Eliot debated answering it as it vibrated again.

"Hardison, I thought you said this new toy would decode anything…" Eliot complained, holding the phone so Hardison could see.

Hardison sighed and walked toward him. "It's decrypting, not decoding, and…" Hardison stopped as he examined the phone. "Damn…! That's…!" Hardison grabbed the phone as it vibrated a third time and turned it over as if he would find some answer there. He shoved it back at Eliot. "Well, answer it! I've got to know who's topping my tech!"

Nate, Sophie, and Parker stared at him. Eliot shook his head slightly. "This can't be good."

"Just answer it!" Parker snapped.

Eliot grabbed the phone, flipped it open, thumbed the button, and put it to his ear. "Yeah?"

There was a brief pause, then a sharp intake of breath. A female voice murmured something so quietly he couldn't understand it. "You're gonna have to speak up, darlin'…"

During the following brief pause Eliot thought he heard the woman breathing hard as if she were running or…

The woman's voice came back a fraction louder, "Is this Atlas Towing?"

A ripple moved through his muscles and everybody in room noticed. His heart began to beat a little faster. Putting on his heaviest southern drawl he said, "Yes, ma'am, it is."

"I need a tow… my car… it won't start…"

Eliot listened desperately during the ensuing silence. He heard footsteps moving fast. But not high heels… in fact it sounded like she was barefoot. His palms started to sweat.

"We'd be glad to help, ma'am. Where is the car located?"

"A parking garage," she breathed, "… Michigan Ave and Randolph… it's a black Cadillac STS. Illinois plate Lucky 1. You got it?"

"Yes. Does the vehicle have onStar?" Eliot asked.

The only reply he got was a digital beep followed by a scraping noise. He wanted to yell out her name, but knew better.

"Eliot…?" Nate asked cautiously. Eliot met Nate's gaze for just a moment and the concern he saw there made him feel uncomfortable. Eliot slid his eyes up to the monitor just over Nate's shoulder.

Men's voices carried over his phone. Eliot realized she had put her phone on speaker. There was some shouting and then a gunshot. Eliot instinctively jerked the phone away from his ear. He felt the adrenaline burn into his blood stream.

"Okay! Okay!" He heard her voice and brought the phone it back up to his ear.

There were some scuffling noises and a man's voice. "Get down on your knees! Put your hands on your head!"

Eliot made his free hand into a fist.

"Did you really think you could get away that easy?" another man with a thick Irish brogue asked.

"I'm seriously surprised I didn't. It's not like I'm dealing with Mensa here…"

Eliot pulled the phone away and stared at it. "Why do you do that?!" he growled silently. When he put the phone back to his ear, he heard the distinctive sound of a fist making contact with flesh. He gritted his teeth, struggling against the mental image forming in his brain. For several moments, all he heard was the sound of punching, and he couldn't be sure but maybe some kicking. He listened carefully for any sounds from her, but she made none. They hadn't pushed her past her point of control.

"Give me one reason why we shouldn't kill you right here!" the one without the brogue said.

When she spoke, her voice was strained, "Because that would be morally wrong…? Oh, wait… wrong crowd…"

"We can't kill her because Mickey's not done with her… yet," the Irish accent said.

"Seriously?" she said. "So, if you had to give a number, how many days before he is done with me…?"

There was a derisive laugh. "Oh, it could be weeks before he's done with a lass like you," Irish said.

Eliot knew what she was trying to do. She was trying to give him a timeline.

"I've got weekend plans... maybe you could explain that to Mickey."

"You think you're a real funny bitch, don't you…!"

Eliot heard the distinctive sound of a gun making contact with a skull followed by the sound of a body hitting the pavement.

"That wasn't necessary," Irish said.

"Maybe not, but it felt good… smart ass bitch."

"We'll see how good you feel after you carry her back to the warehouse."

There was some unintelligible grumbling, some scuffling noises, and then footsteps. Eliot listened, straining to hear street noise or sirens or something. But all he heard was the sound of… seagulls?

He pulled the phone away from his face and stared at it. "Can I activate the transponder or not?! Shit!"

Hardison stepped up and grabbed the phone from his hand. "Is the connection still good?"

Eliot's mind was spinning, going over the conversation, trying to pull out any clues to what she had gotten herself into, and making plans on how to proceed. He looked at Hardison. "Huh?"

Hardison was already attaching the cell phone to his computer. "Never mind, I got it."

"Eliot? What's going on?" Sophie asked, slowly walking toward him. "Who was that?"

"I guess Paris is out," Parker pouted.

Eliot could barely interpret what they were saying. His mind was suddenly very foggy and he hated it. He looked at Nate. "I don't know whether to activate it or not…"

"Got it!" Hardison said, "Connection is still good… triangulating location…"

Nate put a reassuring hand on Eliot's shoulder as he moved past him. Nate stopped behind Hardison, looking over his shoulder at the laptop. "Please not Chicago…" Nate said.

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure she's in Chicago…" Eliot heard himself say.

"Uh huh," Hardison confirmed tapping on his computer. "Somewhere very close to the lake… wait… pulling up satellite photos…" Hardison looked up at the bank of monitors as he projected his computer onto them. "Looks like a bunch of warehouses."

"That can't be good," Eliot muttered.

Nate turned slowly to face him. "You want to walk us through what just happened?"

Eliot held up his hand and opened his mouth, but didn't know where to start. He suddenly became very aware of the second hand ticking away on his watch. He looked at Nate and said, "No, I don't." He pushed past Nate and grabbed his phone off the table.

"I beg your pardon?" Nate asked, turning to follow Eliot's movements.

Eliot pulled the cord out of his phone, breaking the connection with Hardison's computer. He pressed a couple of buttons on the phone, switching over to the GPS program.

Nate moved in closer. "What are you doing, Eliot?"

"I'm activating the transponder…"

Nate snatched the phone from Eliot's hand and took a step away from him. White heat flashed behind Eliot's eyes and the muscles in his neck hardened. He looked at Nate. "What do you think you're doing?"

"You're acting out of emotions…"

"I am not…!" Eliot said taking a step towards him.

Hardison stood up and put himself between the other two men. "Yes, you are."

Eliot moved his glare to Hardison. Then from behind him he heard Sopie, "They're right, Eliot."

"Yeah, it's weird," Parker chimed in, "I didn't know you had emotions."

Eliot took a breath and tried to reset. "Look, I know what you're trying to do, and I…" he hesitated, looking for the right words, "I appreciate it. But there's no time for a scam here. I'm not even sure there's time for a simple retrieval…" he shook his head. "Who am I kidding… nothing is simple when she's involved…" Eliot stopped, not knowing where the words were coming from.

"She who?" Hardison asked.

Eliot looked at him and then at Nathan. Seeing the determination in both men's eyes, he dropped his head. "Loki. Her name is Loki."

=-=-=

We've been on this walk before
And I can't take it lightly any more
Save Me
by Sister Hazel