The Solo Job(s) Ch 2
A/N: Leverage is owned by TNT, Dean Devlin, et al; I'm just writing in their world with their characters and gaining nothing but the fun of writing and some nice comments from readers. Spoilers for Season One
"Hey, Billy! When did you get back into town?" A heavy hand clamped down onto Eliot's shoulder as an accompaniment to the words. Tossing soaked hair out of his eyes, Eliot turned his head to look at Tony's hand and then across at the burly fighter. Cocking an eyebrow and a shoulder, Eliot smoothly moved back and away unconsciously taking a fighting stance.
Tony held up both hands and laughed. "Easy sport! No harm, no foul. Glad you're back; I've been looking for a good bout for a while. Up for it?" Eyeing the younger man, Tony noticed that although his shirt was soaked, Billy did not even look winded. Shaking his head, he wished he had the stamina of youth.
Eliot had not taken the man's arm off at the elbow which was his first instinct. Here, he was just a business consultant looking to find challenging sparring partners. Here, at Chuck's Gym, many practiced and competed in Mixed Martial Arts events. It was the perfect training ground for Eliot. No one here knew what he really did, and it was better that way. For him and for them.
Eliot had been coming to this gym for several months; it was a good place to work out with no curious questions asked. He knew that several members routinely engaged in underground fight clubs. A few had invited him, but he'd declined. He had to stay off the radar and drawing attention to his fighting prowess was not the way to do it. Billy was how he was known here at the gym.
When they'd first gotten that big payoff from the Dubenich job, Eliot had used some of the money to get three new identities. The first was that of an air marshal. He would use it only when he needed a quick flight and paying with cash for a plane ticket would raise too many red flags. The second was that of William Ray. It was a limited persona that would withstand a cursory check. He used Billy for when he needed a light cover such as a gym membership. The third was John Langston. J.T. was who Eliot would become if he lived long enough to retire. Sophie had bought a retirement home or three with her money. Eliot didn't need a place; he needed a whole new identity. J.T. was built from the ground up and would withstand the deepest of background checks. For now, J.T. lived in a safe deposit box.
But right at this moment, Eliot was Billy. He'd already spent time doing cardio and free weights. Nate's snarky comment about jumping rope still galled him a bit every time he picked up a rope. There had been an implied insult about being "just a thug" just as when Nate'd shown his surprise that Eliot could cook. It was hard work staying at the top of his game, and the others hadn't seemed to appreciate it or understand him. Not that he gave them many windows into his life often, but he'd let a few things slip. They knew about Aimee, he'd mentioned his religious nephew, and they knew of his passion for watching the Dallas Cowboys play football.
Shaking his head to dispel the unwanted memories, Eliot grinned at Tony and said, "Sure." He could use a good workout as well. Running himself into the ground would help him sleep tonight. He had an early start for a new job. His flight left at 1:15 a.m. for Ho Chi Minh City.
It was already noon by the time he got back to his apartment; luckily he'd showered at the gym. He still had boxes stacked around the perimeter of the main room. He hadn't yet decided on his course of action when the six months were up. Eliot was nothing if not stubborn, so he hadn't decided to give up on the crew they'd built but still…that niggling little thought in the back of his mind regarding trust made him uncertain of where he wanted to go. "Just one more job" had been his inner mantra regarding Nate and the others. They had all agreed after helping Corporal Perry to work "one, maybe two more jobs." They had worked more than just two jobs but that last one. . .that betrayal. Eliot stared off into the distant memory. But she was just one member of the team. There were the others too. He didn't have to decide right then, but no one chased Eliot Spencer away from anything. Not without a big fight at least. And maybe they could rebuild the team.
Going into the kitchen, Eliot rummaged in the freezer for ground beef. While it was thawing in the microwave, he went to his room. Strewn all over the bed was his gear. Grabbing a suitcase out of the closet, Eliot packed relatively light. Looking fondly at the ceramic knife he'd taken off of Dan Erlick, he decided not to risk taking it through customs. It would be easy to find a good knife in Ho Chi Minh anyways. Clothes, hat, gloves, maps, compass. Going over to the safe in the closet, Eliot pulled out the stack of passports. Which one? Reading through each one to make sure "he" had never been to Saigon, Eliot finally pulled one out of the stack. This persona had lots of U.S. mileage but not much overseas and definitely not outside of Europe. He should clear customs easily. Once all he needed was crammed into the bag, Eliot took it out and left it by the front door.
On autopilot, he began to make burritos, searing them in butter and frying them. He had pretty broad tastes, but you often never knew what you'd get to eat in Cambodia. He wanted a favorite meal to remember for a while. He really hated eating rat.
This latest job would take him back to South Viet Nam. He planned to cross the border into Cambodia along the Mekong River heading into Phnom Penh. He should only be gone about ten days if all went well. The flight itself would take almost 19 hours each way. Then there was the need to find transport, actually sneaking across the border before he could even reach the drop where he was to pick up the harddrive.
Sitting at the kitchen table, plate in hand, Eliot booted up his laptop. Hardison had tried to install programs on it but Eliot had resisted all but a spyware program. Eliot only used his computer for e-mail and, now that he knew what to do, the occasional Photoshop job. That skill could come in handy later on.
In his mailbox was a message from one of his regular "employers." It was the final details about this job. There was no way the team could have ever done a job like this one. Too dangerous. Military weaponry and supplies were vanishing from supply depots. This kind of theft had been going on for years but now a computer harddrive had been stolen from an office that contained sensitive material. It had ended up in Cambodia where it was being offered to the highest bidder. An undercover GAO agent had purchased it with the understanding that it would be picked up by a person. Eliot was that person. While the military had plenty of covert operatives, sometimes they used mercenaries when they were shorthanded and on the clock. Like now.
There was no guarantee that the drive hadn't been copied; Eliot now understood how easy that was. But, his contact had insisted, there was data not readily noticeable on the drive that required a cipher to even have it pop up as an option to open. Then there was another cipher needed to open the files. The encryption was very complicated. Eliot breezed out over the technical jargon and just focused on his mission. His drop point for delivering the drive had been changed. Now it was here in the U.S., so he would have to get it through customs as well. That changed things a bit. He glared at his computer screen.
Stuffing the last bite into his mouth, Eliot went back to his room and dug into his closet. Not there. Where? Closing his eyes, Eliot tried to remember the last time he'd seen…oh, yeah. Grabbing a knife, Eliot tore open one of his boxes labeled linens. Buried halfway down was a cheap laptop. He would be able to place the harddrive into the computer to get it here. Damn it! He needed a different passport. He needed someone who would be carrying something like this. Ah, of course, his corporate courier had the paperwork and clearances to carry sensitive materials over international lines. He switched out passports and added the laptop and case to his pile.
Cleaning up the kitchen took a short time; he watched the game as he washed up. Sitting on the couch with beer in hand, Eliot felt a bit…off. He wouldn't use the word lonely, not even to himself, but he felt more isolated than usual. His lifestyle did not foster friendships. He had no one to really talk to. Sure, there were casual acquaintances from bars and strip joints but no friends. No one to whom he could talk to.
He had never confided deeply personal thoughts to the others, but the time spent with them meant he wasn't stuck alone inside his head. He had a very good memory, and many things he remembered were not pleasant. At times, he wished one of his concussions would remove his memories for good. He was dark inside, and the team had shone a little light into his soul.
Luckily Dallas' game was done by 2:30 so he could wind down to get some rest before heading out to the airport. His room had light-blocking curtains and within fifteen minutes of lying down, Eliot was asleep.
The alarm brought him out of his traditional nightmare. Clutching the left side of his chest with one hand, Eliot forced his breathing to slow down. Heading into the bathroom, he turned on the water in the shower as hot as he could stand and stepped in. Standing with his arms braced against the wall, Eliot tried to remember his dream. He hadn't had that dream in months. In fact, the last time he'd had it had been before Dubenich had hired him. It was always the same. Always the night before a dangerous job but luckily never during a job. He never remembered any details but it always ended with an intense pain as his chest was ripped apart by a bullet as he jolted awake. The really bizarre aspect of it was that he always had the taste of raspberries at the same time. Where that came from he had no clue. If he had needed a sign that things in his life were back to normal, this was it.
Getting dressed, he walked into the kitchen room to get the leftover burrito out of the fridge. His neighbors were at it again. He could hear them fighting, him screaming, her crying. If it wasn't that he was on his way out, he would go over there… Eliot snorted. And do what he asked himself. He so wanted to take that guy down a notch. Someday, he promised himself as he grabbed his bags and headed out the door, he would deal with it.
Thanks for reading this chapter; I hope you liked it and if so, please let me know in a review. A big thank you to those who reviewed chapter one; I hope you like this one too. There will be a few more chapters since there is only a 3 month time span to cover. However, I'm working on a few stand-alones right now.