Author's Note: Well, I've been sucked into another show with fantastic characters (blame it on the inhumanly long hiatus of V) so I thought I would try my hand at playing with the characters of Leverage. It's turning out to be much more fun that I thought. I'm attempting at trying to write this as a novelized episode but if I have to deviate into more of a novel, I'll do so. I hope you all enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Leverage and am not making money off of this story.
The Blue Line Job
Chapter One: Wolves in the World
Joella Wyatt hadn't even gotten out of bed before the chaos started. She laid there motionless for a few seconds, hoping her two nieces would somehow work out the use of the one bathroom she had in her house, while her mother sang Peace in the Valley at the top of her lungs from the kitchen. Well, Elvis may have known there was peace in the valley but there hadn't been peace in Joella's home in a long time.
Before her feet hit the floor, Jo's door flew open and in stalked her youngest niece, fourteen year old Meg. "What is it?"
"Amber won't let me in the bathroom and we have to leave for school in five minutes and-"
"Use mine then," Jo pointed in the general direction of the bathroom and heard the door slam. And so begins the day. She found her flip flops in the corner of the small bedroom and shuffled her way down the hallway, knocking on the hallway bathroom door along the way. "Amber, five minutes and I'm coming in after you." She didn't pause long enough to hear the seventeen year old's response.
"Those girls are getting to be a handful, aren't they?" her mother asked.
Jo poured herself a cup of coffee. "Getting to be? They've been a handful since they could walk." Jo always had a soft spot for her nieces and still did but three years of trying to single handedly raise two teenage girls who lost their parents was harder than she imagined. "At least the nightmares stopped for them."
Her mother set a bagel down in front of her. "The girl's lunch is already packed and I went over their homework with them last night."
Okay, so maybe she wasn't singlehandedly raising the girls. "Thanks, Mom." Jo stood up to open the living room blinds but her mother stopped.
"Wait until the girls leave before you do that."
The fuzz of sleep was driven from her brain as red fury replaced. "Again?"
Her mother sipped her coffee with a resigned air and Jo slumped back down into the chair.
"Unbelievable. They keep asking for money but how can they expect me to pay them when I have to constantly replace my front window?"
Her mother opened her mouth but quickly shut it as Amber and Meg came into the kitchen. Amber picked up her bag and looked at the closed blinds with a grimace. "Again?"
Jo nodded her head solemnly.
Amber huffed. "Guess I can kiss equestrian camp goodbye this summer."
"Now, now," Jo's mom got up from the table. "The only thing we're kissing goodbye this morning is you two. Off to school, both of you."
Jo gave the girls a hug, slipping fifteen dollars to Amber as she did so.
"Grandma packed our lunches?"
Jo nodded. "Share with your sister."
Amber nodded and both girls left the house for school. Jo turned back to her coffee and waited for her mother to start in how she needed help with the loan sharks. But it didn't happen as Amber came back into the kitchen, looking pale faced and serious.
"They got your car this time."
Jo jumped up and ran outside. Sure enough, her little red Focus was in shambles. All four tires had been slashed, the windows and windshield were shattered and the tail lights were broken. But what disturbed her more was seeing tears in Meg's eyes as she too surveyed the damage.
"It's all our fault, isn't it, Aunt Jo?"
Jo put her arms around Meg. "No, it's not your fault at all."
"It's Dad's fault," Amber answered bitterly.
"It's not your Dad's fault either," Jo answered. "There's just bad people in this world. It'll be fine, girls. Go off to school." Jo watched as both girls, one angry and one tearful, got into their thankfully untouched car and left for the local high school. She felt her mother come up to her side and a rock with a note tied to it was handed to her. Jo took the rock from her mother and opened the crumbled note.
Pay your debts.
Jo wanted to find the person who wrote it and shove the note down their throat. She wanted them to know it wasn't her debt to pay, not anymore.
Her mother cleared her throat. "Have you called those people yet?"
Jo shoved the note into her pocket. Her mother had handed her a business card a few days ago for a company in Boston that helped people in her situation. She threw it out only to find a couple dozen more stuck all over her house. Perhaps it was time to call them since the loan sharks were upping their level of destruction.
"No, Mom, not yet. But I think I'm going to do that now."
"Good. I'll get Mr. Dodge's business card."
Jo stared at what was left of her car and as she walked back into the house, the shattered front window was hard to miss too. A strange thought struck her as she re-entered the house and shouted to her mother.
"I thought his name was Ford."
McRory's Bar, Boston, Massachusetts
Nathan Ford stared across the table at the two women from Fitchburg. It was very obvious that they were related by their facial structure but the similarities stopped there. The mother carried a few more pounds than her daughter and her auburn hair was cut short and graying. The daughter had longer hair, no gray, and was physically fit, which wasn't surprising when he heard she was a police officer. Both had the same weary expression of fighting a broken system. He had seen it too many times before today.
"So," he started, "let me get this straight. Ryan, who was your son" he pointed the mother, "and your brother," he pointed to the daughter, "was killed in an automobile accident along with his wife. There was another family who lost their eighteen year old son but it was Ryan who was the drunk driver and was responsible for the accident."
Jo, the daughter, nodded her head slowly.
"All the money that you received from the life insurance company went to pay off the law suit the other family filed against you."
Nathan sat back. "Okay. What's the rest of the story?"
Jo shifted. "After the family was paid their money and Ryan's two girls moved in with me, the loan sharks started coming around. Apparently, Ryan had racked up various gambling debts and owed $25,000. I had no more money to pay them so I took out a second mortgage on my home and paid that off. Now, they're saying I owe another $15,000 in interest and all my assets are gone. I've been working overtime when I'm allowed at the precinct but even that isn't cutting it now."
Nathan nodded. "And that's were the broken windows and busted up car come into the picture."
Nathan started running scenarios in his mind of how to get this woman's money back for her but there was one problem. "Do you know who the loan shark is?"
Jo frowned. "No. I send the payments to a PO box the next town over. I've tried doing a stake out myself but I work so much and every time I go, no one picks up the mail that day."
Nathan filed that bit of information away for further thought. "I'm going to have to talk to my team about this case. It's going to be a two part job. The first half, we'll have to locate the loan shark himself and then the second part is to find a way to con him and get your money back."
Jo's cheek twitched. "How much is that going to cost?"
"For you, nothing. We don't get paid unless you get paid. We work our expenses into the con amount. It sounds like you've paid enough already though. I have your cell and I'll call you tomorrow."
Jo extended her hand and Nathan took it. "Thank you, Mr. Ford."
"Oh, I haven't done anything yet."
"You've listened. That's more than anyone has done so far."
"Hopefully, we'll be able to do much more than that." He watched the two women walk out of the bar and when they drove off, he started for the elevator. "Did you all get that?"
"Yup," Hardison's voice rang in his ear as if the hacker were standing right next to him. "Think it's legit?"
Nathan punched the elevator's button for the top floor. "If you could have seen their faces you would know it was legit. Did you find the background information on them?"
"Calling it up now."
"Are you sure we want to get involved with a cop case?" Eliot countered. "I mean, we're all technically criminals."
"She knows that." The doors of the elevator opened and Nathan removed his ear bud. "She needs help and the police are the problem for her. She's trustworthy enough for a client. So, Hardison, what did you find?"
Hardison pointed the remote to the TV screens and files blossomed across the screens. A picture of Jo Wyatt in uniform drew his attention more than any of the files. Unlike most serious photos that are the equivalent of cop mug shots, Jo had a slight cheeky smile and glint of mischief in almost translucent green eyes. The woman who just sat in front of him had lost every ounce of fight she had in her. The words of a young girl in a hospital room echoed through his mind.
There are wolves in this world. Nathan shook his head. Those wolves feed on the spirits of good people but that was why his team was formed, to starve the wolves.
"Officer Joella Nell Wyatt," Hardison began, "veteran of the Fitchburg PD for the last twelve years. Pretty amazing since she just turned thirty-two. She has the best record in the department. She brought in the most perpetrators that were then convicted. 97% of her arrests are still in prison. Until..."
"The new police chief took over," Nathan finished.
"Bingo." Hardison brought up a picture of a slightly overweight police officer. "Chief Reilly. No sooner did Reilly enter the position as Chief and Wyatt's career started going south. Convictions were being overturned, arrests were nulled and she was reprimanded twice for not filling out the correct paperwork."
"So why didn't she file a complaint with her union rep?" Sophie asked.
"She needs her job." Nathan answered.
Hardison produced two school photos of teenage girls. "Enter Wyatt's nieces. Amber and Meghan Wyatt, seventeen and fourteen respectively. Their father was driving home from a New Year's Eve party with his wife while under the influence. He crossed the center lane and hit a car head on, instantly killing the other driver, as well as himself and his wife. The life insurance money," official paperwork scans replaced the pictures of the three victims, "went to pay off a law suit that the other family filed against Joella since she inherited the estate."
"But what she also inherited," Nathan continued, "was $25,000 worth of gambling debts with the added interest of $15,000."
"I found the second mortgage she took out on her house. Her mother is living off of social security, if you can call it living. All four women reside in a three bedroom rancher in Fitchburg."
"Any luck in finding out who the loan sharks are?"
"No, man, but I might be able to find out more information by talking to Wyatt and scoping out that post office."
Nathan nodded. "I think I'll have Parker watch the post office the next time Wyatt sends a payment."
Parker huffed. "There's no stealing in this con."
"Sure there is," Nathan smiled. "I need you to lift the wallet of the guy who picks up the mail. Hardison, I want you to review all the complaints that were filed against Wyatt. See if there's anyone on the force that has a grudge against her or her brother." Nathan looked at the screens again, studying each paper and picture that was displayed but still getting the feeling that there were missing pieces. "We're going to have to send her partner away for a couple weeks and replace him so we can gather more information before planning the actual con. Sophie will deliver the good news and Eliot, you'll be Wyatt's rookie partner."
Nathan turned around and faced his team. None of them looked mutinous, except for Eliot but that was most likely due to the "rookie" comment. "Hardison, make arrangements for us to stay in Fitchburg. We'll leave in the morning."