A/N: So this is my first Leverage story. To be completely honest it caught me completely by surprise because I had no intention of writing a Leverage story anytime soon. I have a ton of ideas in place for NCIS and SPN that I wanted to write, and I didn't feel my skills as an author were adequate enough to do these characters (whom I love dearly) justice. However, after watching last night's episode, this idea literally stormed my brain and would not leave me alone, thus this story was born. Anyway, I hope that you enjoy this, and I am warning you it is probably a bit overly sappy, but the episode itself was just so heartbreaking, I couldn't resist

A Father's Love

He said, Let me tell you a secret, about a father's love

A secret that my daddy said was just between us

You see father's don't just love their children every now and then

It's a love without end, Amen, It's a love without end, Amen

-George Strait

Everything was happening so fast, and then it slowed down all so suddenly, Hardison briefly wondered for one ridiculous second if Parker hadn't gotten her hands on some tiny little hand-held time machine that she'd been babbling on about without any of them noticing. Between the rising panic that was threatening to overtake him and the suddeness of that thought, a manical laugh almost erupted from him... almost.

Parker was terrified. They had all seen Nate drunk and self destructive, but none of them had ever witnessed him like this. Nate got angry, Nate got drunk, Nate got hell-bent on revenge missions, but Nate never paniced and he never showed loss of control like this. Even when things were collapsing around them and missions were imploding, Nate remained steady and calm. The only time they'd ever seen him like this were occasions where his characters called for him to lose control as part of the con. Those were always acts though, this wasn't.

Elliot didn't react. He listened and observed and was completely aware, but he remained completely stoic and focused on driving. With Nate so completely out of control that someone had to maintain control, someone had to stay steady. That is until the building blew up in front of them and launched Nate back. Then all bets were off and Elliot's only concern was getting to Nate. Elliot was breifly aware of how well he and Hardison communicated silently, even without being aware of it. He didn't even have to say anything, Hardison just knew to keep the girls back and protect them, and somewhere in the back of his mind it registered that he was proud of the kid, whom he was sure was just as desperate to get to Nate as he was.

None of them were sure when they became a family. They couldn't trace it back to a particular con or scheme they had pulled, because looking back, even to their very first mission, it felt as if they had always been a family. Parker, Hardison, and Elliot weren't sure when Sophie had become a mother figure or when Nate had become a father to them, and they definitely weren't sure when they had come to expect him to always be there. Before they met, they had all relied on themselves. None of them had fathers that they could depend on and by the time they hit their late teens, they had learned how to fend for themselves in the world and survive, and rule number one of survival was to rely on no one except yourself. So what happened? Why did every single one of their hearts jump into their throats as they watched Nate get thrown backwards? Why did each of them fear for Nate as he had feared for Jimmy only moments before?

It took both Hardison and Elliot to get Nate back in Lucile with him fighting them all the way. "Why!" He yelled. "He could have gotten out! He didn't have to stay in that building to save me! He didn't have to sacrifice himself to prove he loved me!"

Finally after getting him to the side door Elliot grabbed him by the shoulders and yelled, "You can't get revenge from behind bars, Nate." Instantly the fight was gone and Nate was compliant. The drive home was silent. Nate sat silently in the back next to Sophie while she stared silently out the windows. Hardison and Elliot sat upfront, silently exchanging glances from time to time without speaking. Parker sat in the middle, by herself desperately trying to push back down the fear that had erupted in her stomach as she watched Nate fly backwards.

The silence continued as the team arrived back at the apartment and it was without question that everyone followed Nate inside before picking out different places to crash. Hardison, Parker, and Elliot all watched as Sophie silently guided Nate up to his bedroom only to reappear 5 minutes later. "He's asleep," she said in a tone that was devoid of almost all emotion, and yet heartbreakingly sad at the same time. "Watch over him and call me the second he wakes. I have to take care of some things." The team nodded, watching her leave and knowing without a doubt that she would be spending the next several hours readying any and all resources they had in case they were needed. Slowly, one by one they dozed off into a light sleep, not really wanting to but knowing they would need to be alert and ready for anything.

Parker's light doze was plagued with nightmares however, and after only an hour she found herself awake and shaking. Quietly, with a lightness that was honed from years theiving, she crept up to Nate's room without disturbing the others. Up in his room, however, she suddenly lost her nerve and turned to leave when his quiet voice stopped her.

"Parker?" He rasped sitting up in bed and looking at her. It was the first time he'd spoken since his outburst at the warehouse. Quickly wiping her eyes she turned around and attempted to stop her quivering lip and steady her shaking voice.

"I uh... I just wanted to check on you and make sure you hadn't snuck off on us again," she attempted to smile, but the look on his face told her she was unsucessful. Looking at him, she could tell that while the shock hadn't completely warn off, he seemed to mostly be back with them. His expression, however, was plain as day, he wanted the truth. Suddenly, Parker couldn't fight back the tears anymore. "You almost died, Nate!" she accused. "You almost died right in front of us, and you don't get to do that!" She said brokenly, moving toward his bed. "I know that he was your dad and you were trying to save him, but... but your our dad and we need you!" For a split second Parker paused, realizing what she said. Part of her wanted to turn around and run like she had always done in the past, but the other part, the part that had developed in the last few years of working with the team, forced her to stay and finish what she started. "I never had a real father, or anywhere I fit in until you brought us together." She continued on much softer, trying once again to control her tears as she looked down. "I was so scared today when we watched you get blown back, we all were." Finally finding the courage to look up at him once again, Parker sat down on the bed trying to make him understand how much they all needed him. "We all need you Nate, and we all get that he's your dad and that you want revenge, and you know that we'll do anything for you and back you every step of the way, but... but please don't get yourself killed. You said that he died to save your life so you can't throw that away, and... and you've already lost your dad today, please don't make us loose ours." She finished desperately as the dam broke once again and she began sobbing.

Not sure how to respond, Nate put a hand on her shoulder, only to find himself engulfed in hug by the blonde as she cried on his shoulder. For a split second Nate stiffened; it had been years since he had had a crying child in his arms. As he felt her body shake with each sob however, every paternal instinct he'd ever had flooded back into him and wrapped his arms around her, doing his best to soothe her. "I promise I wont get myself killed." At that moment, Nate wasn't sure it was a promise he could keep, but it was what she needed to her. After a few more minutes the sobs subsided and he realized Parker had drifted off to sleep.

"She's right ya know," came a whisper from his door. Nate looked up to see both Elliot and Hardison standing in his doorway. Taking a few steps forward, with his hands in his pockets, Elliot continued. "We're a team, and we need you so don't run off half-cocked thinkin' that you're keeping us safe. You go for revenge, you do it right. You have a plan, and you include us. I've lost too many people in my life, I ain't loosin' you too just cuz you ain't thinkin' clearly."

"He's right man," Hardison said coming to stand next to Elliot. "An' so was Parker. Somewhere down the line we became a family, an entirely dysfunctional family, but a family. An' if my Nana taught me one thing, its that there ain't nothin' more important than family."

Nate didn't respond, he just continued to rub circles on Parker's back. After several moments, Elliot stepped forward and began to lift the theif up, intent on carrying her back downstairs with him and Hardison so they could all get a few more hours of sleep, but as he began to pick her up, she began to stir. "It's ok," Nate said, speaking for the first time. "Just let her be," he added, meeting Elliot's eyes for the first time all evening and silent promising he wouldn't do anything stupid. Nodding his head, Elliot carefully readjusted Parker so she was curled up in a little ball next to Nate. When he turned around, Hardison had taken up residence on the floor next to the bed and was close to falling asleep himself. Smiling slightly to himself, Elliot simply walked to door and slid down the wall right next to until he was sitting facing the rest of the team. Within minutes, the three of them were once again out. Glancing from the ball next to him, to the little bit of the top of Hardison's head that could see at the side of his bed, to Elliot asleep against the wall Nate realized he couldn't leave them. He had been planning on going off on a revenge mission, and he hadn't cared if he had gotten himself killed as long as he took the man responsible for his father's death down with him. He had no doubt that the other's would survive without him, its what they did, Sophie, Elliot, Hardison, and Parker, they were all survivors. However he knew now that it would also break them a little. He wasn't quite sure how it had happened. After Sam he had known he would never be a father again, he would never know that kind of love again, never give it or recieve it and yet, somehow these three had become his children. Sam would never be replaced, but he had failed Sam, he wouldn't do it again to these three. Those were his last thoughts as he drifted off to sleep himself.

The next morning, when Sophie arrived she had a brief moment of panic when she walked in and couldn't find anyone downstairs. Once she found her way to Nate's room, she couldn't help the small smile that found its way to her mouth. She hadn't really thought any of them would get any decent sleep, but she was relieved to see that she was wrong. Elliot was dead asleep sitting against the wall, still guarding them even in his sleep. It looked as if Hardison had fallen asleep sitting up against the side of the bed, but had toppeled over onto his side on the floor at some point. Parker was curled in a ball near Nate except for one hand that appeared to be reaching out toward Hardison. And finally Nate was asleep on his back with his head turned toward the other three. Sophie had no doubt that the days ahead of them would be as rough and turbulent as they'd ever seen, but seeing them all like this, she suddenly felt a calm wash over her that reassured her that her little family could survive the impending storm no matter how bad it got, as long as they were together.