Disclaimer: If I owned Hustle or Leverage would I be writing fanfiction?

Summary: What happens to the protectors when those they protect leave them? Takes place between Seasons 1 & 2 of Leverage and Series 4 & 5 of Hustle.

Pairings: Eliot/Ash Friendship, Could be read as pre-slash if you squint (though that's not how it was intended)

Explanation: For those who don't know Hustle is a British show about a team of conmen, who only steal from the guilty. Leverage is it's American counterpart. Eliot (Leverage) and Ash (Hustle) are the hitters/fixers of their respective teams. At the point this story takes place both teams have broken up leaving their respective protectors alone.

Alone

Eliot meets Ash in a bar. They're drawn together as if their souls sense a kindred spirit. They're hitters. Fixers. Conmen. Completely and utterly alone, desperately mourning for the teams, the families they had had oh so recently. Struggling to once again find their place in the world without their teams to ground them. (For what is a protector, without the ones he protects?)

They down shot after shot of the hardest alcohol the bar can provide. Neither talks much, though at one point Ash mumbles something about the bar not being as good as Eddie's. All either wants tonight is to forget.

But the night is long, and the alcohol flows freely. Before they really know what they're doing they find themselves talking of the teams they've so recently lost. They talk of determined masterminds, (Mickey, Nate, planning cons on the fly, never know where the next turn'll take you), of gorgeous, untouchable grifters, (Sophie, Stacie, brilliant grifters, yet always, always falling for the one man they can't have), and of the young cons who became the younger siblings they never expected, (Danny, Hardison, Parker, Billy, so confident, so eager to prove themselves, always thinking they're so much better than they are, If something happened to them…). Eliot laughs when Ash talks about Albert, that wise old con who guided his team. He wonders if the Leverage Team would have stayed together if they had had someone like him. One look at Ash banishes that thought.

They end up back at a hotel. Drunk and more than a little depressed they fall into bed together. They don't sleep. They are after all both cons, with enemies who have taught them that sleep is a luxury they can ill afford. But they don't do anything either. Tonight they simply take comfort in the sound of another person breathing. For now at least they aren't alone. There are no teams who have packed up and left, (For Austalia, America, Prison, who knows where. And damnit it hurts to be alone again.)

Tonight they are each other's rock. Each will stay as long as the other needs them. Until the day they learn to live, to be whole without their teams again, they'll be there, a quiet presence in the night reminding the other that they aren't alone anymore.

AN: I know, I know, it's been forever. But I have a good excuse this time. Really I do. My harddrive crashed, leaving me without the latest drafts of basically everything. On a slightly related note, the next My Big Brother... Story will not be Trusts (Peter/Neal, White Collar), but rather Hides (Tesla/Druitt, Sanctuary), as I need to rewrite large portions of Trusts.

As for this story, well it was born out of my newly discovered love of con shows, and my discovery that there were no Leverage/Hustle Crossovers on FF. I think it turned out quite nicely. In fact I'm thinking of continuing it. I can see a whole universe of stories about the friendship between Eliot and Ash.

What do you think? Continue it or no? Drop me a line and let me know.

'Til Next Time,

Regal