Title: "The Ties That Bind Job" (Part Seventeen)
'Verse: Leverage/Angel
Characters: Entire Leverage team plus Faith and Angel
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 794
Summary: Life moves on. The truth comes out. Nate and Faith have to deal with what comes next.

Apologies for the tiny epilogue. I just didn't feel that tacking this on to the end of last chapter would have done Elior or Faith justice. Their stories really needed to be resolved separately.

Angel had left almost immediately, heading back to Los Angeles. Nate suspected Faith was the only one sorry to see him go.

Faith agreed to stay around until their test results came in. Nate had pointed out that it could take as long as ten days. "Got no place better to be," had been her reply.

At his insistence, she moved from the suite at the Seaport, into his apartment over McCrory's. She'd refused to come with him to the hospital, on his daily visits to watch over Eliot, but he appreciated the fact that she was home every night when he returned.

Watching my flat screen and blowing out my stereo speakers, he thought ruefully, wondering on an almost daily basis what kind of eardrum shattering music he would be treated to when he finally walked through his door.

"You wouldn't trade it for anything," Eliot had said during one visit. He was still pale and weak, but he was following instructions, and the doctors were finally starting to talk about upgrading his condition.

Nate shrugged. "The tests aren't in. We still don't know for sure."

"Blood will out," was all Eliot would say.

He stayed at his teammate's side, until Hardison came in to relieve him. Eliot had fallen asleep by that point – a more natural sleep than he'd managed up until this point, without the aid of his nighttime medications. Which was fine by Hardison – as long as the hospital had a steady wi-fi signal, the hacker was good for the night.

Nate was surprised to see Faith waiting for him as he left the hospital – perched on the low wall that bordered the street-side perimeter of the front lawn. Her legs were swinging back and forth, lightly kicking at the stone surface. "Evenin', pops!" she called as soon as she caught sight of him.

"So I'm really going to be a 'pops'?" he asked, stopping beside her. "Not 'dad'?"

Faith grinned at him, her dark eyes shining with mischief. "I don't think you want 'daddy', under the circumstances."

Nate had to concede the point. A young woman like Faith calling him "daddy" was going to raise all the wrong images. "So…" he said, "to what do I owe the pleasure?"

Faith raised her right hand, showing an official-looking white envelope. She waved it significantly in his direction.

Here we go, Nate thought, his heart suddenly pounding in his chest. He reached out and plucked the envelope from her fingers. "You didn't open it?" he asked, noticing that the seal was intact.

Faith shrugged. "Figured we should do it together." She paused. "How's Eliot?"

Nate dug his fingernail under the edge of the envelope, and tore. "Good," he said, answering Faith's question. "He's behaving." He looked up, meeting her eyes. "You could visit him, you know. He's been asking about you."

"He has?"

Nate realized that he didn't like the sudden look of interest in her eyes. "Ah…do me a favor," he said. "Don't. Just…don't."

Faith laughed at his discomfort. "You haven't even gotten that envelope open, and you're already trying to dictate my love life?"

"Just…don't," Nate repeated, only half-joking. He didn't seriously believe that anything would happen between Faith and his hitter, but on the off-chance he was wrong…

To distract himself, he pulled the sheet of paper out and unfolded it. Mr. Nathan Ford…Ms. Faith Lehane…blood drawn…results… He inhaled sharply, scanning the critical piece of information.

Laughing, Faith reached out and snatched the sheet of paper away from him. "Bet you're a load of fun to play poker with," she said. He watched as she read, seeing the complicated emotions play across her face when she read the truth.

"Well." She wouldn't look at him right away, instead making a show of re-folding and re-creasing the paper. "Now we know."

Hardly daring to breathe, Nate reached out and took the document away from her. "Faith?"

Startled at the sound of his voice, Faith met his gaze. "It's all good," she said, reading the worry in his own expression. "Really. Just…overwhelming, yanno?"

He nodded. "Ah…I don't even know what to say," he managed at last. "Congratulations seems so self-absorbed."

That got him a small smile, at least. "You're happy then?" she asked, and Nate suddenly saw a glimpse of the lost little girl he'd never had a chance to know.

"Oh yes," he said, nodding – even as his heart ached for all the years they'd never be able to recover. "Very happy."

She studied him for a long moment – gauging the truth of what he'd said, he was certain. Finally she slid off the wall and bounced to a stop beside him, threading her arm through his. "Well then – pops – how about you buy your little girl a steak?"