A/N: I do not own anything in the world of Leverage although one can daydream. This is a missing scene after the episode "The Big Bang Job" so major spoilers if you have not seen this episode yet. For those reading my other stories, I have not forgotten them but was struck by intense inspiration with this one that I could not not write it.
Eliot drew out his phone from his pocket; the buzzing sound was barely heard over the noise in Washington Dulles International. The text message read "Done." Turning his head slightly, he met Nate's questioning eyes and nodded. They could both rest easier.
Leaning to the left to stuff the phone back into his pocket, Eliot glanced at the team. He was sitting on the end of the row with Nate at his right. Next to Nate, Sophie was flipping pages of some magazine she had purchased in a gift shop. Across from Sophie and Nate sat Parker and Hardison. Hardison's jaw was still clenched. He had not gotten over his betrayal by Eliot for that dunking. Parker, normally in her own little world, was dividing her attention between Hardison and Eliot. Eliot was still amazed that she'd had the compassion to not push him about what he never wanted to confess to anyone. A year ago, she'd kept poking at his bruises when he'd first tried to get into Lillian Foods and failed. Her compassion today showed how much she'd developed, how much she changed. The tears that had stood in her eyes at the park still haunted him. He never wanted to tell her, or any of them, about his actions while working with Moreau. He feared the recriminations he would see in their faces. Of them all, Nate knew the most about Eliot's past. But he didn't know very much.
As a SEAL commander, Eliot had served his government throughout numerous successful missions. One of those black ops missions had had him working for Moreau as his chief enforcer. He'd assassinated several people under his direction. Belgrade had been the last time he'd worked for Moreau. Eliot'd made a deal with Moreau for one last job before they parted ways. Uncle Sam had needed Eliot's services elsewhere and told him to do whatever it took to clear off from Moreau without burning all his bridges. They might need him to return later. The job was simple. Car sabotage to take out a general. Simple. The victim had been responsible for many atrocities during the war, so Eliot's conscience was eased a bit. But. The man hadn't been alone; unexpectedly, his family had been with him. Worse, their car had struck another. Not one dead but eight. Eight dead with Eliot solely responsible. Upon leaving Moreau's service and a brief trip home, he'd gone on to Croatia to try to wash the blood from his hands. He'd just bloodied them further. He would never be clean.
Nate broke into Eliot's thoughts. "You sure things are…" he searched for the right words, "taken care of?"
Eliot almost smiled at the euphemism. 'Yeah, she said her people could do it."
Both men's thoughts drifted back to the airline hanger. Both had been crouched over the Italian. Nate held her upright while Eliot worked to staunch her wound with his shirt.
She looked up at Eliot with surprise. "You survived," she said.
"Yeah," Eliot growled. "I took care of them. They won't be coming after any of us."
Nate started. He knew that when Eliot had picked up the gun that he meant business. Eliot said his job was to protect Nate, to protect the team. Evidently that meant with his life. Hearing Eliot entering the hanger a few minutes ago was one of the sweetest sounds Nate had heard in a long time. He didn't know how Eliot had escaped, but they were still alive. When hired by Dubenich three years ago, Eliot had reminded Nate during the standoff in the warehouse that "I don't like guns." Yes, Nate knew that. He just hadn't known why. Then or now. Yet Eliot had picked up a gun for him, for the team. And it had been a lot of opponents. Respect for his teammate grew but not fear. Eliot was always in control of himself, sometimes to the exclusion of all else.
"My phone," the Italian said reaching her hand out imperiously. She hit speed dial and addressed whoever picked up on the other end in rapid Italian. Stopping, she looked up at Eliot. "Address?" She repeated into the phone the address that Eliot identified; she'd been unconscious in the warehouse. Closing the phone, she said simply, "My people will handle this."
Nodding his head, Eliot hoped his hair would hide his expression from Nate. Now that Moreau was gone and that the danger was past for now, Eliot had allowed himself to think about all the evidence he'd left behind. His fingerprints on several weapons, the shells, the bodies. Not to mention the fire. Add to that any fingerprints of Nate's that might be found on the warehouse's door and the chair in which she'd been bound. They could be in deep trouble with the law. But the Italian or her people would know how to handle the scene. He had been wondering how he could go back to take care of that major detail himself.
Sirens could be heard in the distance. Both men jerked upright; the Italian said that her people had called for an ambulance for her. "It's covered." She reassured them. "Not all my people are traitors." The several cars with sirens that soon arrived were local PD. They completely ignored the two men and focused on the lady who spat out information about what had happened. She verbally IDed herself and gave them a number to use for verification.
Soon, she was hooked up to an IV and placed onto a stretcher. With the flurry of technicians working over her, Eliot and Nate had stepped back. Eliot was trying to figure out what to say to Nate and to the others. Nate had known how deadly Eliot could be but the others…They had never had the knowledge that he could kill with such ease pushed into their faces so directly. They had only seen him punch, kick, pound people into unconsciousness but never take their lives. They knew he had killed before but as Sophie said, "he wasn't that man any more."
Walking slowly to disguise his discomfort, Eliot approached Nate, looking over his own shoulder seeing the others enter the hanger. Eliot knew he had to make a decision now. "The rest of the team, they don't need to know what I did," said Eliot hoarsely. He knew Hardison might cut him some slack if he knew what Eliot had faced, but then they'd all have to deal with the fact that Eliot still was that man. Right now, only Eliot and Nate knew the truth.
"I don't know what you're talking about," said Nate. With that sentence, Nate affirmed that he accepted Eliot's actions and would not break his confidence. Eliot relaxed tense muscles that were beginning to ache all along his shoulders and across his back. In fact, his body was one big mass of pain, his knees and shins especially.
Together, they all approached the Italian on a stretcher outside the ambulance.
She spoke and argued with Nate. "You couldn't touch him in your own country, how can you touch him in his?"
They all turned away from her.
"What now?" asked Sophie.
"Now we go get him," shot out Nate.
"To San Lorenzo?" Eliot was frustrated.
"To San Lorenzo," repeated Nate forcefully.
"Nate, what are we going to do when we get there?" Sophie wondered.
"Finish the job," replied Nate. Sirens from the approaching Feds' cars cut off further conversation as they approached the door that Eliot had first entered through.
"I've got the tickets for our return to Boston," Hardison spoke as he held up his new phone.
Smiling a thank you, Nate led his team away from the light and into the waiting darkness.
Two hours later, they were at the gate waiting for their plane home. Eliot had isolated himself from the others by choosing to sit at the end of the row. Nate's presence beside him was a silent affirmation that Nate did indeed trust him. Hardison was another matter entirely.
His new prototype 7, the gift from Nate and Sophie, had him occupied, but he kept glancing over at the hitter and muttering angrily under his breath. Parker, seated on his right, divided her attention between what Hardison was doing on his Smartphone and watching the others. Sophie had suggested she turn into a people-watcher to learn how people interacted with each other. Parker was close to turning around to say something to the oblivious parent whose child was bouncing up and down in the connecting chair and driving her to distraction when the family left the area and boarded the plane leaving at the next gate. Saved from verbally attacking the woman, Parker turned back to face the team.
Sophie was engrossed in her magazine; it wasn't an act. She actually cared about what she was reading. She could feel the undercurrents of emotion in their little area but decided to step in only if Nate couldn't diffuse it.
Nate was looking at the ceiling, his lips moving as he talked to himself. He would be planning their next move. On Nate's left, Eliot was slumped in his chair. His eyes were focused on something only he could see. Taking in the whole picture, Parker was confused about what was on his pants. Each leg from the knee downward looked wet. But it wasn't water. Water would have dried by now. So what was it? She stood up and approached the wall of windows behind the others. As she passed Eliot, she sniffed deeply. With both hands pressed against the window, she tried to break down the odors. Sweat of course. Smoke but not cigarette smoke. When had Eliot been near a fire? And she smelled something else she could not define. Whatever it was, Eliot reeked of it. Maybe Nate…no, she didn't think he'd tell her. The two men had gone to the meet but it hadn't been the meet. A trap instead. They had escaped but how?
Going back to her chair, Parker sat down to surreptitiously examine both men. Neither man was hurt so it hadn't been that bad. She was confused. Eliot had no bruises on his face and his knuckles were not bruised or bleeding like they would have normally been after a fight. Yet he was walking as though he was in pain. What had happened? Maybe they would explain when they all were home away from other ears. She turned her attention back to Hardison and what was scrolling across his phone's screen.
A constant reminder of Eliot's betrayal came from the bag at his feet. He could still smell the chlorine on the clothes packed away. What seemed to be an even greater betrayal was Nate's almost immediate acceptance of Eliot's actions. Hardison glossed over the memory of Eliot in the park almost pleading because for him the word please was a plea, to not have to confess prior actions. The discomfort he'd felt at the tone in Eliot's voice Hardison'd shoved down below his indignation. He felt Parker's attention once again as she tried to see his phone's screen. Childishly, he turned it slightly so she could not see. It really didn't matter much. The team would share the info he was looking for once they returned home. Nate had already committed them to going after Moreau. There was no way any of them would be safe so long as he was free.
"I always keep track of where Moreau is." Eliot's words rose in Hardison's thoughts again. Gahhh! He tried to hold onto the anger with all that he had. His friend had betrayed him almost to his death. Just stood there while Hardison was drowning. Reason rose up which he squelched. They had all been furious and shocked upon learning about Eliot's past connection with Moreau. He had hidden that connection all this time. That connection might have helped them…Hardison sighed. Eliot had said that they were out of their league. Had as much as admitted that he did not want them to confront Moreau at all. Eliot knew what they faced, and he didn't want the others to face it. He seemed almost afraid. Not of Moreau for his sake but for their sake.
But instead of going alone to the meet with Moreau about the auction, Eliot had taken Hardison with him. Why? As a witness to his perfidy? As a way in? Eliot said he was the bodyguard of Hardison who was the middleman. Had Eliot known that Moreau would put Hardison's life in immediate danger and weighed the pros and cons and decided the risk was worth it? That he could save Hardison if he needed to? Nate had scoffed at Hardison's desire to run his own crew saying Hardison didn't have the guts to do anything and everything needed to get the job done. Like Nate did. Like Eliot had. Moreau pointed out that Eliot worked alone. Eliot had always done what was needed to get the job done. When he was alone. Now he had others to consider. He said he was keeping them safe. That was his reason. His job. So why had he almost gotten Hardison killed? Had he known it was a test? What exactly had been said between the two men while he was under water? Beyond the deal to kill the senator. Was there more? Was Eliot still a part of the team?
Hardison raised his phone higher so he could look at Eliot out of the corner of his eye. The man was just staring into space. No expression on his face at all. Normally, Eliot looked pissed or frustrated. Except when he was cooking. Then he seemed calmer. Now, he seemed to be…lost. Hardison mentally shook his head. Eliot never lost control. Control of his anger. Yes. Control of himself. No. Never. What had happened with the warehouse meet? There was some undercurrent going on between Nate and Eliot. That phone message seemed to settle them both down. Hmmm. He opened another window and within a few minutes had hacked Eliot's phone. What did done refer to? His curiosity not sated, Hardison watched Nate turn away from Eliot and look at Sophie's magazine over her shoulder. Eliot continued to focus away from them all.
Eliot could feel Hardison's eyes on him. He knew Parker kept looking at him as well. It was gratifying that Nate was satisfied with Eliot's explanation in the park. He should be because he meant everything he said. Eliot couldn't remember the last time he'd let his emotions come forward that much. Not even when he was talking with Amy that last time. No. She had been right. This was his family. The hurt look in Parker's eyes, the tears that made her eyes shine. Her trust in him that let him off the hook of telling them all about his shame. The shame-driven vow that had kept him from picking up a gun when he was not on a military ops. He overcame that vow not for himself but for Nate and all that Nate stood for. The loss of Nate would have destroyed Sophie. The loss of Eliot might have affected the others but they could have gone on. Eliot's decision to take up a gun again had not been for his own life but for Nate and the chance to destroy Moreau that the Italian promised him. Destroying Moreau had been a driving force in Eliot's life. Then he had reentered Eliot's life with the threat against them all. And that threat was still there. Moreau might never be able to set foot in the U.S. again but he could send others. He'd find men to replace those that Eliot had killed. Chapman would be easy to replace. Goons like that were common.
The many men he had just killed. The last time he had killed someone was in Germany right as he received the phone call bringing him back to the states and Leverage Consultants. He had hoped that he'd left that life behind him. He'd served his country and served it well. He'd given a portion of his soul in that service following orders. He'd left and made his own life and chosen what jobs he wanted to take. Some of those decisions had been bad but they'd been his decisions. Not decisions of someone using intel from another.
Now his life and the lives of them all depended on the intel that Hardison found. Maybe Eliot could help there. General Flores was supposed to be in San Lorenzo. Maybe he could help them. If they really were going to go after Moreau. If Nate or any other the others chose not to, Eliot decided that maybe he'd call in some favors, get a flight down there, and take care of unfinished business. To keep them all safe. It all depended on the team and their decision.
Happy holidays to you all. I hope all you Leverage fans and grifters enjoy my present to you.