Disclaimer: I do not own Leverage
nor am I associated with Dean Devlin, Timothy Hutton or Gina Bellman.
No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: This started out as a conversation between Sophie and Maggie and morphed from there. Mostly inspired by 98 degree weather, with iced tea, a glass of ice cubes, the air, the swamp cooler and a fan. I wanted to write something summery and break out of my James Bond, snowy sort of vibe for Nate and Sophie. And so this was born.
The title means "For the prettiest one" or "To the most beautiful" from the Greek myth of the Golden Apple of Discord.
Greece is always beautiful but that summer the air was particularly fragrant. The sky was a shade bluer, the ocean a bit clearer, the streets a hint more exciting. Sophie had arrived a week earlier than she needed to and lounged in the white sand for as long as possible, collecting the kind of perfect tan that would have driven Nate crazy. She sighed, dropping her book onto her lap as he crossed her mind for the billionth time since she had seen him last. Tilting her head back against the chaise, she wondered where he was; what he was up to. It had been over a year since the disastrous Paris incident and they had 'mutually' agreed it would be best to avoid each other. Mutually being Nate didn't trust himself around her anymore.
Sophie shook her head, fidgeting with her sunglasses. She glanced from the horizon of deep blue sea at her watch sitting on top of a folded towel beside her and sighed again. Santorini was alluring, it was true, and it threatened to spoil her melancholy. She couldn't think of anywhere she would rather be but she wished Nate were with her. He was what was missing. The only thing that was missing.
Standing, she knotted her bathing suit back up around her neck and slipped into the sundress rolled in her towel. She gathered her things up into her bag and headed for the hotel. Her hair was tied back loosely, curls for once wild down her neck. The white sundress stood out brilliantly on tan skin and Sophie was right: it was driving him crazy.
Nate leaned against the wall of the church, watching her walk up the length of the beach to her hotel. Glancing down at his left hand, he slowly pulled off the silver wedding band there and pushed it into the pocket inside his suit jacket. After all, when had they ever done anything but lie to each other?
Sophie checked herself over in the mirror, from strappy white heels to the hem of an equally cool dress that draped over her curves easily. The wide neck showed off her shoulders and she smiled, grateful for that week in the sun. Lapis earrings dangled from her ears as she clasped the matching necklace. Turning, she grabbed her clutch and locked the door behind her. Sophie took a deep breath, the familiar anxiety of a job setting in. She shook it off, putting on a mysterious smile as she stepped out of the elevator and into the waiting car. This was no time for regret or Nate: she had a job to run and a party to go to.
He wasn't worried about missing her; she wasn't known for quiet entrances. Sophie was the type that when she walked into a room everyone turned around and marveled. So Nate was coolly sipping at a drink at the bar, spinning a finger around the white line where his ring should be, waiting patiently.
He didn't have to wait long for her; Sophie was only ever fashionably late. She walked out onto the patio with a cool breeze, the ocean air more flavorful just for her presence. Nate put down his drink, admiring her through suddenly dark eyes. Her hair lifted off her neck as she walked gracefully across the blue tiled floor and slipped her hand into that of Kyros Georgiou. Nate chewed irritably on an ice cube at the sight, though he had known there could only be one objective of this particular job. Georgiou was responsible for the largest collection of gold jewelry in Greece and if there was one thing Sophie had a soft spot for, it was all things shiny.
Kyros smiled at Sophie, kissing her cheeks. "Θεωρώ πολύ όμορφη Άνγκελα, έχω εμπιστοσύνη στην παραλία ήταν ευχάριστη?" (My beautiful Angela, I trust the beach was pleasant?)
"Όπως πάντα," (As ever.) Sophie murmured back, her eyes dancing. Nate strained to hear them, pulling out rusty Greek from seminary days. He shook his head as Kyros introduced her to the guests he had been speaking with. Nice man but easily duped, Nate thought to himself. That small, annoying inner voice piped up that he had been that guy once, falling into her arms, but he pushed it away.
Kyros led her onto the dance floor and Sophie followed, barely even thinking about the music. Something was wrong. No, not wrong, per se, but she had a feeling, butterflies in her stomach, like something wasn't going according to plan. She discreetly scanned the room to calm her nerves but as Kyros dipped her back, her eyes landed on Nate, sitting at the bar, as cool and composed as ever. He caught her eye upside down and smirked, winking.
Her breath caught in her throat and she missed a step. Kyros pulled her back, a concerned look on his face. "Είστε όλοι δικαίωμα?" (Are you all right?) he asked, one hand lightly pressing against her arm. Sophie shivered, her eyes wide. She nodded but before she could assure him, Nate was at their side, holding out a hand.
"Θα ήθελα κλέβουν ο βουλευτής για μια χορός, Kyros? Είναι πολύ καιρό έχω παρατηρήσει ξαναδεί," (Might I steal the lady for a dance, Kyros? It has been too long since we saw each other.) Nate said, smiling congenially.
Kyros stepped back, switching to English. "But, of course, Nate. I didn't realize you and Angela knew each other?"
Sophie nodded dumbly. "Ye-es," she stammered, before clearing her throat to compose herself. "Yes. Ah, I believe the last time was… Paris?"
Nate absent-mindedly rubbed at his shoulder where she had shot him, a guilty look crossing his face. "I think so." The memory was still fresh and raw even after thirteen months.
"Well, don't let me keep you. Please, dance, dance," Kyros said with a smile, motioning to them as he walked back to his associates. Sophie slipped her hand hesitantly into Nate's, meeting his eyes for the first time.
"I thought we agreed," she snapped sharply.
"We did. But I still have a job to do." Nate raked his eyes over her, lingering in all the right places before pulling her to him.
Sophie swallowed hard, heat spreading across her exposed skin. Her face softened as he pressed against her, the music picking up. "Oh Nate… What took you so long? I've been dying to see you," she murmured, relaxing in his arms.
He looked away, avoiding her eyes. Finally, he said quietly, "I know. You're not that hard to track."
Letting that sink in a moment, Sophie smiled very slightly. "You checked up on me. Are you telling me I followed the rules and you didn't?"
Nate rolled his eyes. "Just dance with me."
"Later we'll dance. I have a job to do, remember?" She winked, not bothering to lie to Nate or hide how much she wanted him to do all those things he wanted to do her. There was never any point. "We can't have Kyros thinking his insurance agent is screwing around with his girlfriend."
"Kyros is smarter than that. He knows you're a passing fling," Nate jabbed back.
She smacked his arm but didn't correct, leaning against him. They danced like that, twined together but with enough space to maintain a barely friendly appearance as the last rays of warm, island sun sunk beneath the horizon. The music ended, much to each of their dismay, and she pulled away. "Later. Please."
Nate nodded, kissing her cheek. As his lips pressed delicately to her skin, he cupped his left hand over her other cheek so she could feel the lack of cold metal there. Sophie's eyes started to drift closed but they snapped wide open as she processed what he was trying to tell her. Reaching up, she pulled his hand down into hers. "Nate?"
He clenched his teeth together. "Yeah. Maggie and I… you know, maybe it just… wasn't meant to be."
Sophie squeezed his hand, feeling as though he had just handed her the world. "Later. Definitely later," she whispered as Kyros joined them.
"Won't you join us for dinner, Nate?" he invited as Sophie dropped Nate's hand.
"Actually, I'd like a word with you, if you don't mind." Nate looked pointedly at him and Kyros nodded, puzzled but trusting.
"Of course. I'll be in in just a moment, Angela." Sophie took the hint, knowing full well Nate wanted to talk about her anyway. Kyros wouldn't listen, she would get her jewelry and Nate would meet her down on the beach in a couple of hours, but he had to make an attempt to do his job, at least. She disappeared into the house with the guests, anticipation making the party seem that much more stressful.
"What is it?" Kyros asked, folding his arms.
"It's Angela. Her real na-well, the name I know her by, is Sophie Devereaux. She's a grifter; she works her way into people's lives and then robs them blind. Trust me. You want to see what she did to me last time I got in her way?" Nate grimaced at the description. Sure, you want to see my unfaithful heart that hasn't beat since the last time I saw her?
Kyros scoffed. "We did a thorough background check on her. Paranoid and invasive, perhaps, but necessary, as you always tell me. She's absolutely clean aside from a few parking tickets." He patted Nate's shoulder. "Are you coming to dinner?"
Nate stuffed his hands in the pockets of his trousers, almost singing at the man's naivete. "No. No, I just wanted to check in. You know where to reach me if you need to." Kyros nodded and started to turn away but Nate held up a hand. "Actually… wait. I won't have my cell on for a few hours; you'll have to call back to the hotel."
"Certainly. I hope you have a date you don't want disturbed. You're so uptight," the Greek joked.
Coughing, Nate smiled. "Something like that."
He almost fell asleep waiting for her; the party dragged on as she waited desperately to be able to sneak outside. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, Sophie came into view from Nate's spot in the shadows, leaning against a wall of the stucco mansion, arms folded. She glanced around and he stepped out into the light from the tall windows. Running through the sand, Sophie threw her arms around his neck, holding on for dear life.
He laughed quietly, wrapping his arms tightly around her waist. "Miss me?" he teased.
"Is it true? Or is this some cruel ploy to catch me?" she demanded, pulling away, her face deadly serious.
"I'm not you, Sophie," he answered, perhaps a bit too cryptically but his lips on hers cut off any skeptical thoughts. She gasped, closing her eyes in agony. One hand drifted to his cheek as he kissed her, unable to think or move or react.
He pulled away and she moaned, feeling desperate and needy. "Look what you've done to me," she whispered, brushing her fingers over her lips. Nate tightened his hands on her back, clenching his teeth.
"You have no idea," he promised, his voice shaking. She rested her head in the crook of his neck for a moment before he pulled away, sliding his hand into hers. "Come on. Walk with me."
Sophie nodded, twining their fingers together. "You should know I don't do things like this. I'm not a romantic like you."
"Sure you are," Nate murmured, glancing over at her as she pulled off her heels, carrying them in her free hand. She met his eyes softly, the breeze lifting her hair off her neck. "You're so beautiful."
Laughing, she leaned against him, tugging at his white jacket. "How about we go slip into something more comfortable, hmm?"
"You mean nothing at all?" Nate countered, pausing to run his fingers through her hair. She bit her lip but didn't disagree. Pulling him down the beach, the white sand soft and warm beneath their feet, she dangled her shoes over his shoulder so she could kiss him. His thumb brushed across her ear and he relished in the sweet burn of her lips. So long he had waited for this, never imagining he would ever get it. The tide washed over their feet and they reluctantly pulled away.
"You're so beautiful," he said again, eyes bright with something exotic she would only find there on a night like that: warm and clear and dreamy. Sophie smiled, shaking her head as her gaze dropped to the sand.
"Well you're not too shabby yourself," she teased, squeezing his hand.
"But no Kyros, right?" Nate cleared his throat, running a hand over his face. "I'm sorry."
Sophie smiled thinly. "Kyros doesn't hold a candle to you."
He 'mhmm'ed, not believing a word of it. Dropping her hand, he slid his arm around her waist, kissing her temple. "Θεωρώ Αφροδίτης," (My Aphrodite.) he whispered, briefly closing his eyes.
"That makes you what?"
"One of many affairs."
Sophie swatted his chest with the back of her hand. "It's only an affair if one or both is otherwise spoken for," she corrected as he caught her hand in his.
"Right." He was quiet and she didn't want to know why so she let him kiss her fingers and change the subject. Placing his lips over her shoulder, he pulled her to a stop at the base of the natural path up to his hotel. "Sorry. Only four stars," he said, taking the steps two at a time, her hand clutched in his behind him.
Sophie chuckled as they reached the top slinging one arm around his neck. She pressed her lips lightly against his, glancing over his shoulder at the moon reflected back at itself in the rippling water below. "Isn't it beautiful?" she murmured, her eyes shining.
Nate nodded, wrapping his arms around her waist and resting his forehead against hers. She slid her hands beneath his jacket as he kissed her, the moon still bright in her mind's eye. She heard him whisper how much he loved her, but her heart sank even as it swelled. Pulling away, she walked away to the edge of the rocky cliff, her hands tight on the railing there.
"What is it?" he asked, coming up behind her, his hands settling on her shoulders. She shrugged them off, rolling something between her fingers.
"You don't want this," she answered quietly but with the sort of tone that left no doubt she was serious.
Nate's brow knit in confusion. "Sophie… I'd like to disagree with that one."
She shook her head, turning around to face him. "No, no, I know you want me. You want me more than you ever have and, believe me, all I feel like doing is letting this go and choosing to be blind for once but Nate. That guy you really are, not the one that's buried inside you, madly in love with me, he doesn't want this." She held up his wedding band between two fingers. "You wanted, maybe subconsciously, me to find this because you don't want it to go that far."
Nate swallowed hard, unable to look at the glint of moonlight on his ring. "Sophie, I love you."
"I know. But you love Maggie, too, and you have a promise to her." Pressing the silver into the palm of his hand, she folded his fingers over it, kissing his cheek.
He let her start toward the stairs but held out a hand after her. "Where are you going?"
"In a few minutes that guy is going to kick in and he's going to lock me up. I have to get out of here before he catches me," Sophie said, slipping her shoes back on with a small smile. "I'll see you around, Nate."
He watched her walk down the steps and across the beach until she disappeared into the dark night before slipping his ring back on. He had lost her again, even with 'cruel ploys'. Pressing a hand over his heart, he sighed, knowing all those myths about Aphrodite and her power over love were true.