Disclaimer: I don't own Leverage, and even if I did, THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN!
A/N: I was listening to Nickelback, and got inspiration from "If Today Was Your Last Day" and "Never Gonna Be Alone" for this story. It wouldn't leave me alone, so I just decided to write it down. I know ya'll are gonna hate it, but, sorry, my muses are sadistic.
With the Dawning of the Sun…
Eliot was sitting in Nate's apartment, reading. His glasses sat perched on the bride of his nose as his eyes skimmed over the words of War and Peace when he felt a headache coming on. sighing, he rubbed his temples for a moment before discreetly pulling out a bottle of Tylenol, popping a couple in his mouth and washing them down with a swig of water. The headaches were greater in number and were getting more intense. There must not be much time left then…
"I'm very sorry Mr. Spencer, but there is nothing we can do."
"Do you have any idea how long?"
"There's no way to be sure. It could be days, it could be months. But…to be frank…I am afraid to say I don't think you will see the new year. I'm very sorry Mr. Spencer."
The hitter's eyes flew open and he saw Nate looking down at him. "Yeah?"
"Well, the job's done, how do you feel about going out tonight to celebrate? Sophie is already on her way over." The mastermind was regarding him carefully. He had never found the hitter asleep in his apartment before and it worried him.
"How about I make something for all of us? Then Hardison can go wild and crazy with the movies."
Nate nodded and hollered at Parker, who was at the moment hanging upside down over the railing on Nate's balcony, to call Hardison. As he walked out to make sure the thief didn't get herself killed, Eliot stood and walked over to the kitchen, pulling out some salmon fillets he had stored in the freezer for us such an occasion.
Hardison was there in a couple of minutes and Sophie wasn't that far behind him. After Eliot got the fillets on the grill, he set about making a spice mix for the fish and recruited Sophie and Parker to help him cut up some vegetables to grill. Nate and Hardison sat on the opposite side of the island, debating what movies to watch. They laughed and more than once Eliot saw Parker chuck a piece of carrot or zucchini across at the hacker, eliciting a knowing look between the two.
Many times over the past several months had found Eliot arguing with himself as to whether or not he should tell them he wouldn't be with them much longer. Every time the no side one. If you tell them Nate will take you off of every job. You won't be able to protect them and someone will get hurt, if not worse. Don't tell them.
And he hadn't, but he had made sure to take certain steps so that when he was gone they would understand. There had been close calls, and looking back Eliot knew that if he had told them Parker would be dead, Sophie would be half way around the world thanks to a human trafficking ring and Hardison would have been beaten to a bloody pulp at least six times. They needed Eliot to protect them; that was his job.
Once dinner had been cleaned up they all gathered around the view screen as Hardison put in The Thomas Crowne Affair. Nate was seated in his normal chair while Sophie sat on the edge of the couch closest to him. Parker was in the middle of the couch while Hardison sat on her other side and Eliot occupied the other chair.
Not long in everyone was commenting on how they would pull off the job, except for Hardison who actually tried to pay attention to the movie. After that, it was Night at the Museum, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (who Parker INSISTED was real, she had seen her), and The Relic.
It was well after midnight when the last credits rolled. Nate turned off the TV and then looked around fondly at his team. Sophie's head was resting on her folded arms, smiling softly in her sleep. Parker had curled herself up against Hardison and the hacker's arms were snaked around the thief, holding her tight. And Eliot was looking up at Nate through half lidded eyes. "Are you staying?" the mastermind asked.
"Yeah, might as well," he said, letting his head fall back as he got more comfortable.
Nate walked over to the closet he had downstairs and pulled out two blankets, draping one over his thief and hacker and carefully arranging the other over his half-awake hitter. Returning to Sophie, he gently scooped her up so as not to wake her. The grifter snuggled closer to him, her arms coming up to wrap around his neck as he carried her to the stairs. "Nate?"
The man turned to look at the hitter. "Yeah Eliot?"
Nate paused, those two words hitting him oddly, but he nodded. "No problem Eliot. I'll see you in the morning, sleep well."
"You too," Eliot replied, watching as Nate carried Sophie up the stairs and he heard the soft rustle of blankets above as he tucked the woman into bed and got in next to her.
Carefully, Eliot pulled the envelope out of his pocket and held it in his hand. If he woke up in the morning, it would be before the others and he would put it away and make breakfast. If not…
Eliot Spencer was tired, in the physical and mental connotations of the word. He didn't want to leave them behind, but he knew the time was coming. He just didn't know when. That wouldn't matter anyway; he had done what he wanted to do with his last days. He had spent them with his family and used his time to keep them safe. That would be his legacy.
* * * * *
Nate was lying on his side, awake, watching Sophie sleeping next to him, grinning. The small smile from the night before was still pasted on her lips. He was getting ready to go out and get donuts for the team when he heard a mad scrambling downstairs and then Hardison was shouting up the stairwell, "NATE!"
Sophie's eyes flew open and both of them were out of bed in an instant, running down the stairs to find Parker on the floor, her back against the door, knees hugged to her chest, eyes wide and body shaking, and Hardison leaning over Eliot. Sophie ran to Parker's side, pulling the younger woman into her arms while Nate joined Hardison.
Eliot was cold. So cold, and so pale. He looked like a ghost and for a moment, Nate wasn't in his loft, he was in the hospital room with his dead son in his arms again. "No, Eliot!" he whispered, voice choked as his hand flew up and checked for a pulse, but there was nothing. Staggering backwards, Hardison stopped only when the couch was behind him and he was falling into it. Nate turned and saw both Sophie and Parker were crying, but he didn't know what to do to help them.
He looked back down at the hitter and saw an envelope in Eliot's hand. He looked to the man's face, eyes closed forever, before he reached out and took the paper from his hand and opened it up, pulling out a single sheet of paper.
"Guys…guys, you need to listen," Nate rasped as he looked over the words. Licking his lips, Nate took a deep breath before starting.
Listen, I know this is probably an awkward moment for ya'll, but I don't want it to be. I knew it was coming, and I wanted it to be this way. Goodbyes have never really been my thing, but I'll do this for you.
Nate, don't you dare blame yourself for this. There was a good reason that I didn't tell you I was sick, because I knew what you would have done. Just for your information, there was going to be no way that I was letting you take me off of a job when I was perfectly capable of going out and doing what you needed me to do. There was nothing you could've done, nothing anyone could've done, just leave it be.
Sophie, I know that I haven't exactly been your best mate since the Davids' job, but I'm not mad at you anymore. I haven't been mad in a long time. And I do trust you darlin', just wasn't always very good at showin' it. But I need you to keep an eye on them for me, make sure that Nate doesn't get everyone in too much trouble.
Parker, you are twenty pounds of crazy in a five pound bag, and there is most definitely something wrong with you, but I wouldn't have you any other way. You're like a little sister to me and don't you worry, I'll keep any eye on you from where I am. Just talk to me if you need to, I'll be listenin'.
Hardison, you are such a geek. I swear, Parker, you have permission to punch him if he goes into too many geek spirals on one job, alright? You keep an eye on them, you make sure all of your intell is right and why don't you try going to some conventions and speaking Klingon? Never know what could happen.
I know I'm leaving you guys short, so don't worry, I called Donny. He knows what's going on with me and he knows, that if you call, it's 'cause you need him there. Don't worry about me guys, don't worry that I didn't do what I wanted with my life, because I did exactly what I wanted. I spent the time I had left with ya'll and I wouldn't change it for the world.
I'll be keeping an eye on you guys, and I swear, if you one of you does ANYTHING stupid that would give me cause to roll over in my grave, I'm just going to climb out and beat you over the head with something! I'll see you around. Take care of each other.
Nate looked around at his team, every one of them, even him, in tears. Hardison had gone over to Parker and Nate grabbed the phone before joining Sophie and wrapping his arms around her as he dialed a number. A phone rang on the other end, and then there was an answer.
"Hello? Donny? It's Nate…yeah, he's gone…we need you…"
* * * * *
Eliot was watching them from above and he had to grin. He knew they would be okay, they always were. He made sure of it, that was his job.
A/N: I am expecting several "You die now!"'s in my reviews, so don't feel bad if those are your sentiments. But honestly, I would like to know how you feel, and yes, I did almost cry when I wrote the letter.