Hello! I thought I would be nice and go ahead and give you the final chapter you've all been waiting for! I also wanted to thank you all for reading my story and for the lovely reviews. Your support is much appreciated! I do hope you have enjoyed reading the story thus far! So, without further ado...
Back on the lower floor, there was mass confusion. As soon as Parker had cut the power, Nate had taken the oppertunity to punch O'Deal square across the face. In fact, he cuffed the man so hard that he was sent flying backwards which resulted in a dropped pistol and his head being cracked against the cement. Following the man to the ground, Nate jumped onto O' Deal jerking him up so he could hit him in the face again. O' Deal blindly threw a punch at Nate causing the men to roll over with Nate being left in a compromising position. O' Deal tried to take advantage by quickly reaching down to strangle him. Feeling his airway being cut off, Nate tried to pry his fingers away, but O' Deal's grip was too firm. Knowing Elliot was entirely too busy to help, Nate did the only thing he could think of. Thrusting his head forward with as much force as possible, Nate head butted O' Deal. The man jerked back cursing and holding his now bleeding nose. Nate quickly leapt on him again and continued to angrily pound him in the face until he was left unconscious. Stumbling away from O' Deal, Nate heard several thuds followed by cries to his left. It seemed Elliot had not been lying when he had reassured him that he was trained to fight in the dark.
Sophie whipped her head back and forth trying to make her eyes adjust. She heard O'Deal grunt in pain somewhere in front of her before a body stumbled against her chair knocking it over. As her head banged against the hard floor, Sophie could not help but feel a rise of anger at what her face was going to look like after all of this was over; that is, if they all got out alive. Hearing several punches being thrown all around her, she tried to figure out what was going on. Whatever it was, it sounded like a lot of people were in pain; she just hoped it was her team. The grifter was startled when someone appeared right in front of her, pulling her chair back to a sitting position. Even if he would not have spoken, Sophie would have recognized the man as Nate because of his subtle cologne. As he gently peeled the tape from her mouth, she heard him whisper,
"You alright Soph?"
Sophie could not help but feel warmth spread through her at the genuine concern and affection in his voice.
Cupping her face in his hands, and narrowing his eyes at what he could see of her face, he murmured,
"I should've killed him…"
"No, I'm fine. Just a little tied up at the moment…"
She could have sworn she heard Nate chuckle quietly as he began to untie her ankles and wrists.
"I'm working on it." He answered, being careful to avoid causing her more pain.
When she was completely unbound, Nate tenderly put his arm around her waist while taking her arm around his shoulders as he helped her to stand. Handing her an ear bud, he instructed,
"Here, put this in… just in case."
Supporting most of Sophie's weight, Nate began to walk her toward the warehouse opening. Travelling cautiously and straining to hear what was going on around him, Nate whispered into the com system,
"Parker, what's your status?"
"Fuse box blown. Also, I left the two guards and Snider bound in the back room. I just now reached the lower floor and I'm tying up all of the unconscious bodies Elliot left behind!" Parker replied merrily.
"Elliot, how's it going? Are all of the guards taken care of?"
Elliot could be heard breathing hard as he grunted,
"Nate, I took eight guys down not including O'Deal but I can't find the last guard. He must be hiding…want me to seek him out?"
"No, we've spent too much time here already. The cops are going to show up at any moment. Meet us outside. Hardison, are you ready to go?" Nate inquired.
"Oh yea. Lucille is waiting for you guys by the front entrance. I also have the documents you asked for. Are you sure it's a good idea for me to leave them behind?" Hardison answered.
"Trust me, Banano will put them to good use…" Nate replied.
Finally reaching the warehouse entrance, Nate pulled the door aside and helped Sophie through. As they stepped out, Sophie suddenly felt a wave of fatigue and stumbled. Nate immediately caught her, able to fully see her now in the moonlight. He felt anger ebb up inside of him at her bruised face.
"Are you sure you're ok?" He asked, holding her safely up against himself.
"I'm fine…" She said painfully. "Just a little shaky."
Meeting her eyes, Nate nodded and proceeded to help her toward the van. Hardison pulled open the back doors for them as they approached and Elliot appeared on Sophie's other side to help support her. Nate could not help but notice that his head was bleeding from where it looked like a gun butt had caught him. As Elliot went ahead and hopped into the van, Nate was about to help Sophie in when a voice from behind made them freeze.
"Stop where you are!"
It was the missing guard. His machine gun was trained on Sophie. Nate quickly moved to put himself in front of her, blocking her from view while still supporting her weight. Before Nate could try to negotiate or Elliot could leap out of the van, the man oddly began to yell and twitch before he dropped his weapon and crumpled to the ground. Nate and Elliot found themselves staring at a grinning Parker who now stood in the man's place. She switched her taser off and blew it as if it were a smoking gun.
"That's why I always have one of these babies handy…"
"Don't tase me bro…haha. Come on let's get out of here." Hardison laughed.
The team quickly piled into Lucille and took off. As they drove, Hardison could not help but grin when he saw the flow of red and blue lights race toward the warehouse. O'Deal was going to be in a lot of trouble when they found his supply of illegal weapons and conveniently placed list of prior clients he had ripped off. He would never see it coming; especially since it was due to an 'anonymous' tip dropped to Banano.
After a long ride, the team tiredly piled into Nate's apartment. Elliot grabbed an icepack and put it to his head as he exhaustedly collapsed down into the arm chair. Sophie was curled up in the corner of the couch with her head held in her hands. Nate sat beside her with Parker on his other side. Hardison stood in front of them setting up his laptop to project on the huge screens.
"Alright…so do you want to know what I've been up to? Does anybody want to know what Hardison had to do while you all were out completing a "rescue" mission? Nobody appreciates…"
"Hardison! Just shut up and show us what you did already." Elliot barked.
"Yea, what happened to his money?" Parker asked excitedly.
"Well…I was getting to that before I was so rudely interrupted…Look, we planned it so that when Nate called O'Deal, he would see the transaction being processed because technically it was…however, he only had time to check it once since he was preoccupied with Nate's arrival at the warehouse. I simply cancelled the transaction before it could be completed."
"So, technically, we still have the money?" Parker asked as her eyes lit up with excitement.
"Only until it can be distributed to the list of families that O'Deal ripped off in the first place." Nate injected, firmly bringing her back to reality.
"Right…" Parker said looking a little deflated.
Thinking for a moment, Parker perked up again,
"Can I go with you when you meet Karen tomorrow?"
Nate nodded and Parker smiled, looking back at Hardison.
"Didn't Hardison leave the documents at the warehouse?" Elliot asked, confused.
Hardison smiled and clicked to make the screens bring up a virtual copy of the documents. Shrugging, he answered,
"I'm a hacker…it's what I do."
Elliot's only response was to grunt and lean back in his chair.
"Wait…so how was Hardison able to find the warehouse address?" Sophie asked, lifting her head from her hands. "And how in the world did you pull off the camera footage at the house if you never actually went?"
"Oh that was simple. I just followed the limo on the traffic camera footage. The explosion footage was a bit more complicated. I took a clip from our little surveillance excursion to O'Deal's residence yesterday and incorporated it into the 'live' camera footage O'Deal thought he was watching. Since the cameras don't actually show the front door, I just returned the footage to normal for the explosion. I'm tellin' ya, it's the Age of the Gee…"
Elliot jumped to his feet and raised the ice pack threateningly at Hardison,
"Say it one more time Hardison, one more time!"
"But what about the virus? Did you really wipe that from the network?" Parker asked curiously.
"Haha, yea sure I did. Until I put a bigger one in its place." Hardison grinned, ignoring Elliot.
"Listen guys, you all did your jobs well. Thank you for coming through. O'Deal will have all of those cases brought up against him now that he has no leverage. That plus the overwhelming amounts of evidence that can be used to testify against him. Henry O'Deal is going to be in prison for a very long time." Nate said.
"So Nate…are we getting a pay cut?" Parker asked curiously as she bumped into him with her shoulder.
"Oh, you mean besides the money you stole from his safe?" Nate asked with a smirk.
Parker looked offended and stood up,
"I don't know what you're talking about…"
She walked pass them as she pulled out a wad of bills from her jacket and held them to her nose to smell. Smiling, she walked up to Sophie and surprised her by giving her a quick hug.
"I'm so glad you're alright Sophie. Things would have been boring without you."
"Well…thanks Parker." Sophie answered not sure whether to take it as a compliment or not.
Sophie exchanged a stunned look with Nate, surprised at the thief's display of emotion.
"Well, see you guys later! I think I'm going to go work on these night vision goggles..."
Looking up to the left as if thinking, she nodded scrunching her nose,
"Yea…they need some work. Night!"
Giving Hardison a high five, she skipped to the door and left. Nate shook his head and smiled.
Elliot stood with a sigh and walked over to Sophie. Putting his hand on her shoulder he said,
"Glad your back Sophie."
Sophie smiled up at him and could not help but notice the seriousness in his eyes. She had a feeling that Elliot would not have forgiven himself had anything happened to her.
"Guess I'm calling it a night." Elliot said grabbing his stuff.
Hardison, who had already begun to pack his stuff when Parker had left, threw his laptop bag over his shoulder and walked up to them.
"Yea I think I will too. Don't get into any more trouble Sophie, you already owe me a new ear bud." He joked.
"I'll try hard." Sophie laughed.
"Night Nate." Elliot said before heading toward the door with Hardison.
"Night guys, good job today."
"Oh yea, nice punch by the way." Elliot said stopping at the door and grinning back at him.
Nate shrugged and replied,
"I learn from the best."
Elliot shook his head and they left, closing the door behind them. Nate stretched his arm out on the back of the couch and glanced at Sophie. She was starting off into space with a troubled expression on her face. She was still in the same black dress she had started the con in, only this time her heels were kicked off, her legs were curled underneath her, and one of the straps was broken. Her lip was cut and there was dry blood there. Nasty bruises were beginning to show on her face from all of the abuse she had gone through.
Overwhelmed with emotions he could not quite explain, the most overwhelming being an odd sort of protection, he slid closer and asked quietly,
"Soph…I need to know. Are you ok? Did he…did he do anything to you?"
Sophie looked up and met his eyes, noticing his guarded anticipation. Of course he would be worried about O' Deal hurting her. The man was known for sexual harassment. Smiling tiredly, she reached out to cup his face in her hand,
"No. Your timing was once again perfect. I told you Nate, I know how to take care of myself."
She did not miss the relief written all over Nate's face. Reaching his hand up to hold hers, he looked down as if embarrassed before meeting her eyes again,
"I…well, the team was worried. I mean…that's why we work as a team…you don't have to do things on your own anymore. It's why you have us…" Nate tried to explain, cursing himself for not being better with his words.
She shushed him and smiled,
"I know…I know that now."
She unexpectedly pulled him closer to herself and leaned her head against his chest while closing her eyes. Looking down at her, Nate was momentarily surprised before he slowly put his arms around her and held her protectively. Feeling the warmth of her body and the beating of her heart against his own somehow reassured him. Cradling her now sleeping form into his chest, Nate barely heard her when she whispered,
"Home is here…"
Nate could not help but feel a smile begin to form on his face as he gazed down at her. It seemed the plan had worked after all. Sophie was safe.
I hope you liked it! Again, if you have any comments, questions, complaints, just let me know! I would love to know your thoughts on the story! (Especially how I did on characterization!) Thanks again for reading :)