Title: The You're Welcome Job (Part 1)
Word Count: 921
Summary: Nate knew his team wouldn't leave him in the lurch. He knew they'd try and get him back. But he seems to have underestimated the lengths to which they'll go...
This story is a sequel to The Ties that Bind Job. In case you don't feel like going back and reading all forty thousand and change words of that particular story (even though I, personally, think it's one of my better ones and I worked really, really hard on it with my coauthor), here are some of the things you need to know.
1. The entire Leverage team is aware of the existence of vampires, as they met Faith and Angel and assisted them in eradicating a vampire nest
2. Lindsey is Eliot's twin brother. The entire team is aware of this, as Angel mistook Eliot for Lindsey for most of the story, and even signed him into the hospital under Lindsey's name. A little bit of digging by Hardison turned up Lindsey's existence, and the team pieced the situation together from there.
3. The entire team is also aware that Lindsey is dead, as the matter of mistaken identity was eventually cleared up due to one of the doctor's pulling up Lindsey's coroner's report.
4. Due to a rather frightening breakdown on Eliot's part, the entire team knows that the issue of Lindsey is very touchy, very emotional, and very triggering for Eliot.
That should be it. Hope you enjoy - let me know what you think!
His team hadn't left him in the lurch. Nate had known they wouldn't, that they'd try somehow to get him out, but the fact of the matter was that Jim Sterling – Interpol – knew their faces. He knew their methods, knew their habits, and knew they wouldn't rest until they'd figured out some way to get Nate out of jail.
Fortunately for Nate's continued peace of mind, the team had kept their actions since fleeing from the shipyard that day subtle and largely legal. They sent him gifts, so he'd know that they hadn't forgotten him, and that they remembered the last words he'd said to them that day and felt the same.
Eliot sent him books, because he knew how restless Nate got if he didn't have something to occupy his mind. None of Parker's gifts actually made it through the prison's stringent screening process. She kept trying to send him baked goods with various tools stuffed clumsily inside – the first one had actually been a cake with a nail file in it. Nate loved her for trying.
Hardison's gift was more indirect. Hardison was the one who made Sophie's gift possible via fake ID cards and careful monitoring of the prison's million and one security cameras.
Sophie visited. Once every few weeks the grifter would sneak into the building dressed as a laundry woman or a janitor, and somehow arrange her work so that she could linger outside his door for a little while. She'd stay and talk about everything she knew he wanted to know.
Typically, he wanted to know first about the team. Sophie repeatedly assured him that they were only ever in Boston during her visits. Otherwise they stayed in a "holding pattern", moving from place to place around the state every few days.
He loved them for sticking close, but at the same time Nate couldn't help wishing that they'd just scatter already. Sterling had agreed to leave them alone, but that would only hold as long as they didn't give him the slightest excuse to back out of the bargain.
Nate knew he couldn't live with himself if that happened. Not after everything he'd done to guarantee their safety.
So the days passed, blending one into the other. He kept himself occupied with Eliot's books, and amusing little tidbits about whatever baked good Parker had tried to send him that week, and looked forward to Sophie's visits.
He knew that Sterling would let him out one day, but Nate also knew that day was probably a long way off.
For the sake of his team, he was content to wait. He wasn't badly treated. He was bored and impossibly lonely, but he wasn't badly treated.
He almost never saw Sterling, which was a blessing. Nate was proud of the self-control he'd developed over the last two years, but silently resolved that if Sterling ever placed himself within reach of the bars of his cell, any judge would agree he'd been justifiably provoked.
Sterling had found other things to do.
Until, one day, he apparently hadn't.
"You have a visitor."
Nate looked up, folding down the page to mark his place in The Sign of the Four. Yes, there stood James Sterling. There stood James Sterling, if Nate was any judge, just out of reach of the bars. Only just. Three inches, at most.
"Really?" he asked, pasting on his most polite smile. "How nice." It wouldn't have been his team – they'd been visiting him. It might have been Maggie, but Nate had been in here for a month and he knew that the team would have told her what had happened right away. She wouldn't have waited a month.
So who would be here to "visit"? A client, maybe?
Sterling did not elaborate on his statement. He summoned a prison guard to unlock Nate's door and handcuff him. Nate continued to smile politely – blandly – because if you were polite and bland and quiet, you usually didn't get handcuffed behind your back. Today was no exception. He had no plans for escape – not now at least – but it was still nice to have options.
Sterling walked in front of him, and the nameless prison guard followed behind. They took him straight to the visiting area, where a man sat at a table spread with papers. Nate couldn't make out quite what their purpose was. The man looked familiar at first glance, but he had his head down when they'd entered.
The guard sat him down and left the room. Sterling remained, standing by the door.
This put him behind Nate – something he was immediately grateful for once he'd sat down and could see exactly who was on the other side of the table. He was used to dealing with surprises and unexpected challenges without batting an eye, but when the man finally looked up and met his gaze it was an honest to God effort for Nate to not react with the amount of shock he felt.
No, not you…
"Nathan Ford?" Eliot's expression gave no hint whatsoever that they'd spent the last two years working as teammates, becoming friends. It was an unsettling look, to say the least – going all the way to his eyes – but on some level Nate realized he was also quite proud of his hitter. He must have studied for weeks with Sophie to perfect that poker face.
Nate finally managed to swallow his shock long enough to accept the proffered handshake. "Yes."
"Lindsey McDonald. I've been hired as your attorney."