Title: Their Exits and Their Entrances

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: PG/K+

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not.

Summary: "Nate sent me to my room again, remember?" Eliot replied dryly. 500 words.

Spoilers: Leverage Season 4, up to current airing

Notes: Set post-4.4 "The Van Gogh Job", as a speculation on both the emerging season arc and some of the eyebrow-worthy character moments in recent episodes. Title's from Shakespeare's "All The World's a Stage" speech.


"Hey, man."

Hardison gave a chin-up nod of acknowledgement as he fell into step with Eliot outside McRory's. He wasn't all grinning and starry eyed like he'd probably have been if he was headed out for 'pretzels' with Parker, so Eliot nodded amiably back, wondering what he was up to.

"Hey. What's up?"

"Aw, nothin' much," Hardison shrugged, trudging along. He glanced over his shoulder and up at the windows of Nate's apartment above the bar, then pursed his lips. "Take your earbud out yet?"

Ah; it was about that. Eliot snorted. "Yeah. Nate sent me to my room again, remember?" he replied dryly.

He could see the laughter in Hardison's eyes, but the hacker managed to swallow it back, summoning up a concerned expression instead. "You been pretty much taking the brunt of all the meta we got going on up in there. You okay with it? 'Cause I can try and get Nate to let me and Parker take some of the heat off you, if you want."

"Nah, don't worry about it," Eliot shrugged. He wasn't exactly happy about turning the team's base into the stage of an amateur drama, no. But he understood why. As long as it didn't take another six months to resolve things, he could handle it. "I'm good."

"You sure, man? Nate acting like an ass and taking lectures on showing off from Sophie ain't nothin' new, and we're mostly just playing our original roles. You're the one he's making out to be an idiot, and it ain't even for sure there's more bugs in the apartment."

"Would you have placed just the one?" Eliot expressed his opinion of that with his eyebrows. "Besides, it's either marginalized dumb muscle or questionably loyal, and it's a little too late for any of us to start pretending there's any chance we can be bought."

"Yeah, not after all the easy money we've all turned down these last few years," Hardison sighed, a momentary pang of wistfulness crossing his face. Then he shook himself. "You're at least having some fun with it, though, right?" The twinkle was back as he shot Eliot a sidelong glance. "Heard about what y'all were up to when I called from the supply closet."

Eliot remembered pinching Hardison's face down to a tiny square on the fancy display screen, and grinned at him. "Technically challenged, that's me."

Hardison shook his head in response, his own smile widening. "Then Operation Misunderestimation is still a go?"

Eliot couldn't help but groan at that. "Seriously? How long you been holding on to that one?"

Hardison planted a flat hand over his breastbone, putting on his best earnest expression. "Just trying to make it easier for all of us to keep helping people's wings take dream."

Eliot aimed an elbow at him. "Enough with the Bushisms. I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday, you know."

"Did I say that?" Hardison laughed, skipping aside to dodge as he held up his hands in surrender.

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