A/N - Okay, so here is my first Leverage fic. As such, I'm still working the kinks out, testing the waters so to speak, so please give me some feedback so I know what to do next time. Also, may I just say that the finale was AWESOME! ...Ok, now on to the fic.
It took longer than it should have for them to turn around. Long minutes that were wasted, out of stubbornness, or pride. But finally the time of indecision passed, and Nate and Sophie turned around at exactly the same instant, locking eyes and smiling, until their peripheral caught sight of the empty air where the rest of the team should be.
It took much too long for them to turn around. But it was that same fierce stubbornness which compelled them to seek out their teammates, now that that was what they wanted. Sophie wondered if Nate could see the irony, that he was once again seeking out these same thieves, only now with a grifter by his side and different motives behind his actions. This time he sought them out not for wanting what they had stolen, but for wanting them. Missing them, though he was reluctant to admit it.
Sophie enjoyed their time together, the familiar closeness that it bred, reminisce of times past. But as much as she enjoyed having Nate to herself, she was glad when they found Hardison, two weeks later, up to old tricks, chilling in a penthouse under the name "Denzel".
He was more than eager to come back, greeting them with a grin and an amused "Well what too you so long?"
He quickly helped them locate Parker, (whom was standing conspicuously outside the Sears Tower with a funny smile) who was also quite happy to rejoin their little group.
It was nearing a month later when they tracked down Eliot, in some backwoods little town, outside an old country bar. Sophie noticed the small smile playing at the corners of Nate's mouth as he took in the white Stetson perched firmly atop Eliot's head, as the retrieval specialist swung a guitar case into the back of an old rusty Ford.
When he turned around a brief look a surprise crossed his face before it was replaced by a blank mask and cool blue eyes. Parker leapt at him, hugging him like she had outside the rehab center, and Hardison grinned and slapped him on the back, and her and Nate greeted him warmly (and with Nate's obligatory comment about the hat), but Eliot barely even smiled, and when he did it didn't reach his eyes.
When they asked him to come back, silence reigned, for long, agonizing minutes, before he replied softly "I can't." Without looking at them, he got into his truck and drove off, leaving a trail of dust and stunned teammates in his wake.
Undeterred, they showed up at the bar the next day as well, a few hours earlier, and were shocked to see him on stage, his long fingers coaxing music from an old acoustic, and singing in a voice like fine whiskey, rough, and smooth, and heartbreaking. When his set was over, they cornered him at his truck again, and this time, unwilling to settle with an "I can't," Parker frustratedly exclaimed "Well why the hell not?!"
Deep blue eyes swept slowly over them, before coming to rest on Sophie's own, and suddenly she could hear his voice in her head, clear, and slightly lost. "I was just getting used to it." She had smiled and asked if he meant having an office, but she had felt her heart clench painfully when he had replied "Being part of a team." And when he had exclaimed "You apologized to him first?" she could barely look at him, knowing she deserved his fury, because after all, it was he who got hurt because of her, he who was bruised and bloody and broken because of her betrayal. She remembered painfully the angry and wounded and searching quality to his voice when he asked "Why am I last?!"
And here they were again, the four of them reconciled, reunited as a team, a family, as Eliot stood solitary against a stark and darkening sky, and Sophie could see that question swimming in his too-blue eyes.
Why am I last?
It took longer than it should have for her to answer.
And by that time he was already gone.