Disclaimer: I do not own "Highlander" or "Leverage" and I probably never will. Bummer.
AN: This story takes place after the first season of "Leverage," but will contain no spoilers for the first season; the team is in Boston. This story takes place at any time for "Highlander." The MFA is the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Peabody Essex Museum is an art museum located in Salem, Massachusetts, nearby to Boston.
The Five-to-One Job
"OK, guys, tonight's the night," pointed out Nate Ford needlessly, clapping his hands and rubbing them together. "Does everyone know what they need to do?"
"For the last time: yes," growled Eliot.
"Look, I just want to make sure this guy takes a hit. He deserves it," said Nate.
"Yeah, yeah, we know," interjected Parker. "Linwood Murrow is a bad guy. He stole this ugly, little clay pot that doesn't even have any jewels or gold in it. He is flaunting his badness by displaying it at the MFA. We are going to steal it back, plant it on him, and get him into trouble for his badness. We all know the plan." Parker finished speaking, throwing her hands into the air exasperatedly and in a way that never failed to make Hardison smile.
"Yes, and I have just received a call from a very eager curator," announced Sophie to the room. "I've arranged a private showing at the Peabody Essex Museum. He believes we are going to look at some art that he can potentially purchase for the MFA—"
"—but really he's just being distracted from the MFA," interrupted Nate. "Good, good. Well, Sophie, go steal a museum."
"Already on it."
After Sophie left the room, Nate turned to the remainder of his team and said, "While Sophie's stealing the Peabody, let's go steal Linwood Murrow's reputation."
x x x
On the other side of the city there was a very different preparation process being completed. The brunette woman dressed herself in tight, all-black clothing. She touched up her make-up, using dark red lipstick and dark purple eyeliner. She clipped on a belt holding spray-paint cans, a knife, and an electronic device to fry the MFA's security system. She inspected her nails for any chips before pulling on her black gloves. Lastly, she strapped her kodachi to her back. Although the kodachi was not her usual sword, during crime she preferred the Japanese shortsword to her habitual longsword because of the way it clung to her body and didn't limit her movements.
The Amazing Amanda smiled at herself in the mirror. She was now ready for a night on the town.
x x x
Eliot moved through the halls silently, searching for the security guards that he knew had to be around here somewhere. It was his job to take the guards out before they found Parker. He was having some trouble, however, completing his task. So far, he had not come across a single guard. He should have seen at least six already. It was making him nervous, twitchy; he didn't like it.
Where could they be? He began walking through all the galleries, even where the guards were not supposed to be; they had to be somewhere. Finally he found them—all ten of them—in one place. They all lay bound and gagged on the floor in one of the Chinese art galleries. Damn! Somebody had gotten there before him.
Just as he was about to warn the others, he felt a fist connect with his face—a fist that he hadn't even seen coming. He was thrown back but recovered quickly. Looking at his foe, he had to resist the urge to roll his eyes. In all his years as a mercenary he had learned not to underestimate an opponent based on appearance, yet he still could not quite believe that he would have to fight this lithe, pretty woman.
Turning on his Southern charm, he drawled, "Aw, come on now, hon, let's not fight. I'm sure there are much more pleasurable things we could be doing."
"He better not be talking to me," he heard Hardison say in his ear before the woman responded, "I'd rather fight. I can always find someone else to do the 'more pleasurable things' with."
Then she attacked again and Eliot found himself having trouble blocking her hits. She was fast, really fast, and well-trained. He got in a few good punches himself, splitting her lip and he was certain that he heard one of her ribs snap. Although she staggered a bit at each of his hits, she recovered amazingly quickly. He could have sworn that he had split her lip but a few minutes after the hit, her lip looked just fine again. Maybe he had taken too many hits to the head.
She was like the Terminator, she just kept coming. Eliot could feel himself tiring and succumbing to the injuries she had inflicted on him. It didn't help that he had Hardison squawking in his ear like a chicken with its head cut off.
Finally, Eliot lay panting on the floor, feeling as though he had been hit with a sack of bricks. If only he could get some rest first, he knew he could take this chick down. He could feel her standing over him, but he could not even open his eyes to look at her.
Amanda kicked him in the face, effectively knocking him out, before bending over to retrieve his earpiece.
Musing, she said to herself, "hmm, and I didn't even need my sword."
x x x
"What the hell just happened?" stormed Nate.
"I have no clue," said Hardison defensively.
Sitting in Hardison's van, Lucille, they had both been able to hear Eliot's fight with the mysterious woman and they both became very nervous when everything went silent.
"We're into the MFA's security system, right?" asked Nate for the umpteenth time.
"Yeah," replied an irritated Hardison.
"Bring up Eliot on their security cameras so we can see what is going on. He's in Gallery 115."
Hardison tapped at his keys for a few moments and the only result was the screen going black. He sat back and folded his arms across his chest, with his forehead creased and a deep frown on his face.
"Why did you stop?" questioned Nate. "Pull up Eliot."
"I did, man," replied Hardison heavily. "This is what the camera brings up." Anticipating Nate's next questions, Hardison continued, "The cameras are fine. My best guess would be that she used spray paint to black them out. Look, there's nothing I can do. I can't—
"Hello boys." Hardison fell silent immediately as the mystery woman spoke to them via the coms. She continued, "I'm going to guess that you're the ones who shut off all of the alarms for me. Thank you so much."
Finding his voice, Nate barked out angrily, "What did you do to my hitter?"
"He's alive, if that's what you're asking," she responded. Nate could practically hear her eyes rolling.
"There's room enough for the both of us. No one else needs to get hurt," said Nate reasonably.
"Sure, there's room enough," she replied. "But are there objects enough?"
"Look," said Hardison, jumping into the conversation, "all we want is that fugly clay pot being displayed for Linwood Murrow. You can take the jewels and the paintings and whatever the hell else you want."
Angrily, Nate wrote down: DON'T SAY THAT!
Hardison responded: Why not?
BECAUSE IT'S WRONG!
"Whatever, man," mumbled Hardison. Redirecting his attention to Amanda, he said, "Hey, mystery lady, are you still there?"
"Yeah, yeah, I was just tying up your hitter. I don't want any complications."
"So," drawled Hardison, "do you agree that there are enough things here for the two of us?"
"Hmm, let me think," she mused. "Um, no, I don't agree that there are enough things here for the two of us. You see, I came for that lovely clay pot as well."
"What? Why?" asked Hardison, truly confused as to why anyone would want that ugly little thing unless they were trying to destroy Linwood Murrow. Was she there for the same reason as them?
"Sentimental value," she chirped. So, thought Hardison, she isn't here for the same reason as us.
Then everyone heard a thud in their earpieces followed by a high-pitched feedback.
"I think she stomped Eliot's com, Nate."
x x x
Butterflies. Squash. Candy canes. Tasers. Canaries. Boston cream pies. Shiny buttons. These were the things that went through Parker's mind as she crawled through the air vents. These things kept her calm and happy and, in her mind at least, were sequenced together logically. Who wasn't reminded of canaries by tasers?
She could hear all the hubbub on the coms but she just cleared her mind of it and didn't let it bother her. It wasn't her job to do the thinking or the hitting. The others would take care of this buttinsky for her. All she had to do was get to the pot, steal the pot, and get away with the pot—easy-peasy.
Just as she got above the room she needed to be in, Hardison buzzed instructions into her ear, "Now remember, Parker, you need to use that wicked device you've got to crawl across the ceiling. The vents don't open up anywhere near the pot and there are lasers crisscrossing the open space. Just stay flat against the ceiling and you'll be fine."
"I know. But I don't see why I can't just go through the lasers," said Parker, more to herself than to Hardison.
"Um, because they're lasers," replied Hardison, uncomprehendingly, "they'll cut you to ribbons."
"Well, I wouldn't walk through them silly," said Parker, snorting in a decidedly un-ladylike manner.
"Parker, go across the ceiling," reprimanded Nate.
Easing herself slowly out of the ceiling, entirely silently, Parker attached her device and began crawling across the ceiling. It was slow work and after nearly five minutes she glanced towards the pot to see how much progress she had made. She was so shocked she nearly fell off the ceiling. Not only was she only halfway across the ceiling, but a pretty woman was standing next to the pot's glass case. Worse still: she was holding the pot in her hands. Parker was sure the woman had not been there when she had first entered the gallery. How had she gotten over there? And without making a sound?
Parker began sliding across the ceiling again, going as quickly as she could, determined to catch the woman. She stopped, however, when she heard a laugh. Looking back at the other thief, she couldn't help the anger that quashed down her feelings of joy and serenity. The woman was smirking and waving. Why was she waving? Where could she possibly go?
Without saying a word, Amanda began tumbling through the lasers as though they were not even there. She moved like a cat, graceful and precise. Parker was in awe.
"How did you do that?" whispered Parker reverently, after Amanda had gotten safely to the other side.
"I used to be in the circus."
"Not a clown?" checked Parker.
"Not a clown," assured the acrobat.
x x x
"We lost," stated Parker, utterly confused.
"We lost," agreed a dejected Hardison.
"Have we ever lost before?" asked Eliot, icing his aching head.
"Well, there's a first time for everything," responded Sophie, imperturbable as always. She had been shocked when she returned to Nate's apartment early that morning and had found the team sitting in a state of depression and confusion, telling her that another thief had gotten the best of them.
"I'm not ready to admit defeat yet," said Nate, sweeping into the room. "We can still get it back. Hardison, pull up the cameras from the museum from the last two days. Parker, Eliot, sit with him and go through them. You two saw her. Find her. She must have done some recon work."
After hours of poring over security footage, finally Parker shouted, "Aha!"
"What?" yelled Nate and Sophie simultaneously, rushing over.
"That's her," said Eliot, pointing to the pretty brunette that Hardison had just placed on their big screen.
"Great," said Nate, clapping and rubbing his hands together. "Now we just need to find out who she is and steal it back."
"No," said Sophie forcefully, with a small smile on her face.
"What?" asked Nate.
"I know who she is and we can't steal it back."
"Care to share with the class?" asked Nate, a bit testily.
"It's Amanda—the Amazing Amanda," stated Sophie dramatically, sweeping her arms widely to show the distinction of the person they were dealing with. "We can't beat Amanda. She's the best in the game."
"She kicked my ass," said Eliot grumpily.
"And she out-thieved me," said a smiling Parker, not in the least bit grumpy. She was still in awe of the Amazing Amanda and even had a bit of a girl-crush on her.
"Amanda!" yelled Nate. "That was Amanda? In all my time at IYS I never even got close to taking her down! We're finished! We're done! She won!"
"Dude, we'll find another way to take Murrow down," comforted Hardison.
"Yeah," said Nate quietly, slumping over in his chair and glancing at his liquor cabinet.
x x x
Amanda lay on her couch, reading a book and attempting to stop fidgeting. She couldn't help it. For the twentieth time in the hour, she dropped her book, stood up, and walked over to the mantle. Gingerly picking up her newest acquisition, she looked fondly at the little clay pot.
Turning it over, she grinned as she ran her fingers over the artist's signature. Despite being a thousand years old, the "R" was just as prominent as ever. R for Rebecca.
Smiling, Amanda put it down and returned to her couch, knowing fully well that she would be back in a few minutes to look at it again.
Brownie points to the person who recognizes the name of the man that the Leverage crew is trying to take down.
Also, I have no actual knowledge of the MFA's security. This is pure fiction on my part.
Also, also, Rebecca was Amanda's teacher.