Title: Rashomon Redux
Summary: The morning after the night before. Four mostly-reliable narrators, three hang-overs, two head traumas, and the Dagger of Aqu'abi.
Spoilers: Season Three
Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm just taking the Leverage crew out for some cheap fun. I'll get them back to Electric Entertainment and TNT in the morning.
Author's Note: I'm posting chapter by chapter as I proofread, but this one isn't a WIP. Unlike Family Collision. ;-)
Chapter 1: Nate
Bang. Thump. Thump. Thump. Clatter. BANG! Thump. Thump.
Nate eased into consciousness gradually. He was lying on something soft, something that felt like his own bed. So far, so good. His brain took a little longer to isolate and identify the noises he was hearing. The banging seemed to be coming from downstairs. Someone in his kitchen? That wasn't unusual. The refrigerator and cabinet space hadn't belonged to him in years. The persistent thumping, however, seemed to originate inside his skull. Hangover?
He opened his eyes. It was definitely daytime—sun streamed throughout his room, illuminating the stack of books on the bedside table and his small collection of pictures—but the brightness wasn't overly bothersome. Maybe that was a 'no' on the hangover, then. By the angle of the light peeking through the blinds and around the curtains, he guessed it was not quite noon. What the hell had happened last night?
Nate hauled himself upright and paused at the edge of his bed as he considered the question. The last thing he clearly remembered was locking up McRory's. He had volunteered to close the bar...why, again? An image of the Dagger of Aqu'abi shimmered into his mind, along with the memory of Sophie's voice covetously describing the prize:
"10th century, four perfect emeralds, six rubies, gold filigree..."
Ah, yes, the dagger. Fueled by more than a little alcohol and spurred on by a collective desire to rectify past failures, the team had impulsively declared war against the CEO of Baron Oil, the dagger's current owner. And just as impulsively, Nate had gone along for the ride. So what did it mean that he was now waking up safely at home but with a wicked headache and absolutely no memory of what happened after he left the bar in pursuit of his team?
There was only one way to find out. Nate moved about his bedroom, dressing haphazardly in the first t-shirt and pair of slacks that he could lay his hands on. He finger-combed his hair, and turned toward the spiral staircase that led downstairs to the rest of the condo. His face felt rough with stubble, but shaving could wait. His head still hurt—in the process of trying to flatten his unruly hair, he had discovered a large bruise on his right temporal bone. Hopefully the person or persons making a racket in his kitchen could explain. And even if they couldn't, coffee with Irish whiskey beckoned. If he were lucky, there might even be an ice-pack in the freezer. He buttoned an Oxford shirt over his t-shirt, stuffed his feet into moccasin slippers, and mentally steeled himself for any possible disasters he might encounter below.
The scene downstairs only bemused the mastermind further. Instead of mayhem, he found sleeping teammates. From the base of the staircase, Nate surveyed the open expanse of Leverage HQ. Parker was the only person actually up and about. She was the cause of the kitchen clatter, although it wasn't immediately clear to Nate how eating cereal could be heard an entire floor away. Parker's clothing didn't reveal anything about last night's job. She was seated at the end of the kitchen counter, dressed unremarkably in black leggings and a long-sleeved plaid shirt. Her hair was gathered loosely in a side ponytail, and there was no rigging in sight.
He checked the sleepers for clues. Sophie was stretched out on the couch beneath the window. She was turned away from the room, toward the back of the couch, and burrowed so completely under the green blanket that only the spill of wavy, dark hair across a pillow identified the sleeping figure as the grifter. The pillow, Nate noticed, was nicked from his bedroom and he wondered when she had obtained it. The shoes peeking out from beneath the couch were a pair of black leather flats. Without additional cues like wardrobe, jewelry or make-up—heck, even nail color might help—this footwear didn't tell him much. Either Sophie had been playing a low-key character last night, or else she had changed once they returned. She did tend to use the office—his apartment!—as additional closet space. Nate reminded his sluggish brain to focus. Moving on...
Hardison was also sleeping, although he didn't look as comfortable as Sophie. The tall young man was draped sideways over one of the square cushioned chairs that matched the couch. Two or three fleece airline blankets were spread over his form—Parker's work?—but the blankets couldn't quite cover the hacker's gangly limbs. His right knee was bent over an arm of the chair, while his left leg stuck out straight to the floor. He still had on his shoes. The hacker's head was tipped back at an awkward angle, and he was snoring softly. A laptop lay open nearby on the floor, its screensaver an infinite starfield, but there was no pile of orange soda bottles or candy wrappers to indicate that he had spent a significant portion of last night hacking from headquarters. Nate rubbed his forehead wearily as he turned in the direction of caffeine. Had they gone after the dagger, or hadn't they?
Nate passed Eliot on the way to the coffee maker. The hitter was slumped at the dining table, with his head resting on his folded arms. A bag of frozen peas was sandwiched between Eliot's brow and his forearm, answering Nate's question about the current availability of ice-packs, and Eliot's eyes were closed. Nate assumed the other man was sleeping, until he heard a muffled snarl from under the peas.
"Parker, if you don't stop that banging, I swear to God I will burn every single one of your cereal boxes. And I won't take out the hidden money before I light the match, neither."
"Shows what you know, Sparky," retorted the thief with cheerful unconcern. "After we got rid of the loan shark for Cora, I found new places for my emergency stash."
Parker continued to munch her cereal, but the metallic clanging ceased. Turning towards the cabinet for the whiskey to add to his coffee, Nate realized that Parker had been kicking a partially open drawer while she ate. The drawer's vibrations, along with the rattling of its contents, had been the source of the noise.
"I just want everyone to wake up," Parker complained, when she realized that she had been caught out. "We should be celebrating."
She looked from Eliot to Nate in expectant appeal. Both men stared blankly back at her. Nate wracked his brain to remember what it was that Parker thought they should celebrate. Was the dagger around here somewhere? Should he risk waking Sophie and Hardison by turning on the news?
Eliot just closed his eyes and laid his head back down.
"There's something wrong with you," he grumbled.