DISCLAIMER: I do not know nor have I at any point owned any thing associated with the show Leverage be it plot, characters or otherwise. This is for entertainment purposes only and I will not be making any fiscal profit whatsoever.

SPECIAL THANKS: To TinySpite who has been a wonderful Beta for everything from shooting ideas around, helping me center my ideas, fixing my grammar mistakes and everything in between. She's is so awesome and for the record, a great fanfic writer in the MD:TAS fandom. Thanks my dear!

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Please bear with me folks, this is my first Leverage fanfic. As with a fandom all constructive criticism, advice, or comments are welcome and actually encouraged. I wanted to do a Halloween themed fic for the show and this was the result. It just got officially started today instead of finished like I had hoped.



Nathan Ford glared towards the door as his 'escort' departed, leaving him locked in the cell. He looked over towards the small blonde where she sat pouting in the corner.

He moved to be nearby, sliding down the wall at her side. She had pulled her knees up to her chest, arms wrapped around her legs.

Three days. It had been three days since they had gotten involved in this mess and he wasn't any closer to figuring out exactly what they had stumbled into let alone where they were.

Parker poked at the newest bandage to decorate his arm, her pouting lips slipping into a frown. "You're bleeding."

He looked down at the thin gauze, barely noting the spotty red line that had seeped through.

"They were cutting again," he answered in a calm tone. He was acting like it was all fine, that they weren't trapped and in the control of nameless lunatics experimenting on them.

"Who are they?" Her eyes narrowed in a way that made her look like a confused child. He knew she was actually very observant despite her appearance, knew Parker was asking because she hadn't been able to figure it and was silently begging him to see what she couldn't. If they had answers they would have information, information would mean leverage and a plan for them to escape. She was waiting for Nate to take over and save them like he had so many times before when things went unexpectedly wrong.

The problem was he knew as little as she did, possibly less. At no point in his career had he ran into something like this and he was at a total loss for what to do. The best he could tell was that they were at some kind of medical testing facility. He wasn't even sure why they had been taken to begin with. He had been out with Parker, insisting she return a priceless artifact that had yet to be noticed as missing. One minute they were doing just that and the next they were ambushed.

The only room he ever saw except for the one he was currently in was one he had been dragged into at least twice a day since they had been captured. People suited in scrubs and lab coats always stood at the ready while he was manhandled onto a table and strapped down. Sometimes they drugged him and he didn't know anything until he woke up in this godforsaken cell. Other times he felt every agonizing minute of it.

Once he came to because Parker was shaking his shoulders and as near to tears as he had ever seen her. She told him he hadn't moved for hours and she could barely hear his heart.

"I don't like those kinds of games," she had insisted. "I don't like when people pretend to not wake up." Her face had been frightening in how vulnerable she looked when she had forced out those words. A sharp feeling of protectiveness had flared deep in his chest at the sight. No one should ever be able to make a girl like her look like that.

He looked her over now with a careful gaze and felt the same protectiveness from before.

It was something he hadn't felt since Sam. But she looked so very small, young and afraid like a child who had just crawled into her father's bed after a horrible nightmare. He wished more then anything he could pull her close and sooth her fears with softly whispered promises of protection.

Only this wasn't a dream and there was no waking up from it. He had failed to protect her. The too dark and yellow marks scattered over her pale skin between bandages and bindings were a testament to that.

"Nate? What do they want with us?" she pushed further snapping him out of his reverie.

"I don't know," he admitted after a moment's hesitation.

She sucked on her lower lip at that. It hadn't been what she had been hoping to hear.

Nate slipped his arm around her shoulders, gently pulling her body against him. He couldn't promise her safety but at least he could be there for comfort.

A disturbing through passed through his mind when he felt some bandaging under her clothes. Twice a day. They took him from the room at least twice a day but the experiments they were performing seemed minor, something that could be handled with one session. Usually when they returned him Parker was gone. They always took her after he was in another place, when he couldn't help her. She was returned hours after he was, each times with more bandages from one session then he had seemingly gained from most of his time here.

A hand moved up to caress her soft hair, cradling her head against his chest. Whatever they were after she was taking the brunt of their handy work.

"But… we're going to get out of here." Parker spoke up as she settled against him. It wasn't a question. "Pay them back." There was a startling amount of venom in those softly voiced words. A promise.

"Let's focus on the escape for now," Nate murmured.

All their personal belonging had been taken from them when they had been forced here. It had been something so simple but went to hell so quickly. One minute Nate was standing by making sure Parker returned a certain item that should never have been in her hands to begin with and the next she let out an annoyed 'hmph' and his whole world went black.

By the time he had gained consciousness he was trapped in the cell and his clothes had been replaced with a hospital gown. Parker was strewn out on the other side of the room, not moving with a nasty cut over her brow.

From what he could figure it was simply a matter of wrong place, wrong time.

Did the others even realize something wasn't right? They weren't working a case and it wasn't exactly unusual for Parker to disappear for a few days without a word to anyone. There was really no reason for them to be at his apartment to realize he was missing… of course that had never stopped them from just making themselves at home before.

If they were lucky the alarm bells had went off in one of their teammates' head and they were working a search and rescue right now. If they hadn't…

He pushed those thoughts away. They wouldn't be any help to them now. Instead he rested his cheek on Parker's head and closed his eyes. A sigh escaped as he tried to clear his thoughts.

Escape. For now they had to assume they were on their own.

"The vents?" He asked softly, knowing she would have already scoped the room for them.

"The one on floor level is too small for me to possibly get through. You'd never fit."

"Any others?"

"A ceiling vent near the main lights. It's too high to get to. They're the only ones."

His eyes opened, shifting to study the one above their heads. "If you could get up there would it be big enough?"

"Well yeah but…"

"Would you fit?" he interrupted as he mentally did some measurements.

"Easy." She looked at him curiously.

"I could get you up there if you stood on my shoulders. The ceiling's not that high. If you think you can dislodge the cover without too much noise you should be able to pull yourself up from there."

Her eyebrows sank before her nose scrunched as she though out the plan. "Won't work."

He looked towards her now. "Why not?"

"Even if I get the cover loose I wouldn't be able to pull you up."

"But you could get up there?"

"Nate no! I won't do it." She twisted away from his hold, finding her feet with feline ease and glared down at him.

Nate looked down studying his bare feet. "There's no other way Parker." She opened her mouth to protest, but he continued with his voice softer this time. "I need you to do this, for me, please. You can get out, get help."

She was sucking on her lower lips again, her bright eyes distant when he looked up.

"Black King."

"What?" Nate asked, looking up confused.

"You're the Black King, right? Our Black King. You can't fall or the game's up."

He blinked in surprise. Her intense gaze settled on his, eyes shining with determination.

"Our jobs are to protect you, not the other way around. I'm not stupid Nate. I know if I leave you here I'm probably not going to see you again. I'm not going to let someone else die over me. You're family and family takes care of their own no matter what. They don't abandon each other to save their own skin." Her head cocked to the side at his look of astonishment and an unexpectedly cheerful grin pulled on her lips. "Eliot said so. Besides you can't get rid of me that easy."

His tactics had been completely wrong. He had made the mistake of assuming her trained need of self preservation would control her actions. What he had failed to realize was how much she had come to enjoy her make-shift little family. It was no secret to him that her past had been a difficult one but the few details he knew were vague at best. Apparently being on the team had shifted a few priorities in her.

He was proud of her and he was certain it showed on his face.

Now he needed to figure out how to push her away for her own good. He let out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding as he stood with a messy sort of grace. 'Forgive me Parker' he mentally asked of her. He knew what he had to do.

All emotion was wiped from his face as he walked away from where she stood, arms crossed over his chest.

"Nice speech, really." He started as he slowly turned back to see her, voice monotone. He leaned against the wall, studying the way her look of accomplishment fell to confusion. "The thing is we're not family. You work for me, that's it."

She shook her head, hurting warring with annoyance to show on her face. "You protect us. That's what family does."

"I protect the team because you are useful, like a good investment. You help me succeed."

'Come on Parker, get mad at me. Yell at me and leave me. I need to get you out of here', he begged her in his mind. He knew if he pushed her far enough she would take a hint and hopefully not feel the loyalty needed to stay back. At least one of them needed to survive this fiasco. Hopefully when she calmed down and had gotten away she would understand why he had to say what he was saying.

"You were a tool, a means to an end, nothing more. I wanted revenge and I needed you and the rest of the team to get it. There's nothing else between us. Why would I want to associate myself with a lowly thief? Men like me don't get involved with your type of people unless you're good for something. Face it I was using you," He finished coldly.

Her eyes turned glassy with unshed tears but her features went cold, "Who needs you anyway. You were just holding me back with your goody-two-shoes cases. I'd be better off without you."

She sniffed but no tears escaped. Instead she turned her back to him and started toward the floor vent just to prove she could get out even without his help.

'That'a girl', he thought with a bittersweet smile. At least this way she stood a chance of getting away.

The victory was a short lived one. Parker had been moments from getting the vent cover free when the locked clicked audibly and the door swung open. A group of men in lab coats entered. They seemed eager about something, too excited when they came into the room.

An important looking figure stood among in a decorated uniform. The man, obviously some sort of official, and their excitement made them careless and they forgot to separate Nate from her this time. In fact they paid him no mind as they headed for the seemingly cornered blonde.

Parker pulled her face tight, body tense as she watched their approach.

The one seemingly in charge reached into a case another one held open for him, pulling from it a syringe filled with a yellow-green liquid.

"Come here girl," the head official attempted to coax Parker over.

Nate watched through narrow eyes, sure they had forgotten him. This was new. Unusual even. Typically they were dragged out separately by an armed guard and didn't see the white coats until they were going to be experimented on. This time a guard wasn't even with them.

He closed his eyes for a second to consider his options. There was no way to get Parker out of here now and it was clear from their actions that they intended to inject her with… whatever that was. They had drawn blood before, cut him and even ran tests but this was new. They found whatever they had been searching for in her and it scared him.

He squeezed his eyes tight as he forced his breathing to be even and drowned out the sounds of Parker's frightened retreat. He was no Eliot but he had no choice. He had to get that needle away from them, away from her.

Catching her eyes with his own he nodded in what he hoped was a comforting gesture. He needed her to keep them distracted.

Understanding the silent message she did just that, making an impossible attempt to dive towards the half opened vent.

Not going to waste his only opportunity Nate eased forward as they watched her, lunging towards the man with the needle the second she moved for false freedom. Chaos ensued and ended with Parker pinned to the wall by a nameless man in one of the white coats and the decorated official was glaring to the other end of the cell where Nate had pressed himself into a corner, the large syringe in his hand.

"Don't be stupid," the official ordered him in an annoyed tone. "There's nowhere for you to run so you might as well hand that over now and make this easy on yourself. You have my word it's not meant for you."

Nate met him with a hard glare. "No you were going to put it in her."

"Maybe so. Look son…"

"Don't call me son," Nate growled out.

"Look, I'm an understanding man. I'll make a deal with you. Hand over that needle and we'll let you out of here," The official spread out his hands in a placating manner, clearly trying to appear trustworthy.

"And her?"

"She stays but you'll get your freedom. Isn't that what you want? To go back to whatever life you had before this? Besides it's not like you owe her any favors," He waved a dismissive hand in Parker's general direction.

Nate glared at him, "We're family."

"We've checked your blood thoroughly. You're not related to her," One of the men in white coats nodded in confirmation at the official's words.

"She goes with me or you don't get this back," Nate threatened, indicating towards the needle.

The official signaled some of the white coats, one keeping Parker pinned while the others advanced.

"You don't have a choice. Now hand it over."

"Let her go and I'll stay in her place." Nate attempted to compromise.

"Not an option. It has to be her."

"Why her?"

"She meets the criteria and I'm tired of this word game. Hand it over or suffer the consequences. Make your choice," The official returned to a more rigid pose, signaling this was his final offer.

Nate studied the official. Years of experience let him see the man's nervousness, the way he eyed the syringe like someone else might a priceless artifact. It was valuable to them. These people had put them through days of testing to make sure someone was a close match, there had to be the reason, instead of just injecting both of them and seeing what happened. Whatever made the stuff must be hard to come by or combine thus making the liquid rare. That much was obvious to him.

It crossed his mind he could just smash the syringe against the hard tile floor but it was risky, too risky. If it didn't break they would have it and he wouldn't get an opportunity to take it again. If it did shatter… He looked to where they successfully still had Parker pinned. What would they do to her?

There was only one real option.

"As you wish," he said clearly with a rueful grin directed towards Parker. "I've made my choice." Not wasting a second he extending his arm, shoving the long needle into it.