- For cartography on LJ, for her prompt "Nate/Sophie - Dark Alley" as part of The Snogging Meme.

the dark alley job (and other time-honored cliches)

Hardison flatly refuses. Eliot gives a particularly passionate speech about marbles, brain cells, and a few institutions he'd be happy to lock Nate up in if necessary (or not). Parker merely shrugs, sniffs the tool-belt she's cleaning, and sighs. Sophie considers it for a moment, then agrees - with one condition.

"I want to run The Blacked Out Supermodel."

Nate halfheartedly tries to get Eliot to play The Bachelor.

"it-it's just - it's just complicated, and - and this job needs someone - needs me - to be, you know, on the- on the outside, right? So, you should play The Bachelor-"

"I'm not playing The Bachelor."

"-and I'll work the angles from- from out here."

Nate stares at him with wide, hopefully eyes.

Eliot glowers. "I'm not playing The Bachelor."

Hardison doesn't understand the play, so Sophie explains: "There's The Bachelor and the Supermodel-"

Parker: "Oh! I know this one - they walk into a bar."

She grins expectantly. Hardison sighs.

"Let's just do this," Eliot snaps, swiping his earpiece off the table.

Across the room, Sophie catches Nate's eye and smiles.

There are problems. Naturally.

The back door is closed, The Prostitute never shows up, Eliot has to incapacitate an extra seven people (including an old lady); Parker has to make an emergency jump out a twelve story window, and Sophie looks way too hot in a bikini.

"Nate. Nate, did you hear me, man? Nate. Can. You. Hear. Me."

Sophie's voice lilts in reply: "Don't worry, Hardison. He can hear you just fine."

They're nailed half-way through and then un-nailed twenty minutes later. Nate places his courtesy call to Detective Bonanno while Hardison rewires millions of dollars like it's Monopoly money.

"Do not pass go, do not collect 12.6 million dollars," he boasts, tapping the last commands into the computer with an extra flourish.

"Good job, Hardison," Nate says:

And then the alarms go off.

Eliot, Hardison, and Parker make it to the van. Sophie yells at them to go, get out of there, grabs Nate's hand and runs.

Nate leans his head back against the wall, panting. "Think we lost 'em?"

Sophie peers around the corner and groans. "Not quite," she sighs; then pushes Nate further into the shadows, fists her hands around his bright yellow collar and kisses him. It isn't the cliched "Pretend You're A Couple to Hide from Contract Killers" kiss that he's…well, heard of and seen on television; it's a bit flat and a bit hasty but otherwise real and warm and Sophie and his hands eventually stop their frantic waving and find purchase on her back, pressing her in just that much closer. Her robe is smooth silk but her skin is softer; he remembers. He tries not to - tried, for so long not to - but he remembers, and her hands slide up between them to frame his face.

"Sophie," he murmurs. "Wh-why did you…?"

She rolls her eyes. "Oh, don't ruin it."

"I-I wasn't trying to-"

"You always do this, you can never just let-"


"-things be what they are, you always have to define everything-"


"-and keep everyone at arm's distance and-"

Nate flips them suddenly so her back's against the concrete wall and his hands cup her cheeks and he kisses her because he doesn't quite understand how he's managed not to all these months before.

"Oh," she murmurs.

He shifts awkwardly. "Um. Yeah."

She smiles gently, and brushes the back of her knuckles against his cheek. "Not everything's a con, Nate," she says softly.

His expression doesn't change. "This was."

Sophie frowns. "No, I-"

"The guys. They stopped following us around Baker Street."

She stares, eyes wide, until he lets a small smile lift the corners of his mouth. She slaps his arm. "You! That was ten blocks ago!"

He shrugs. "Needed a dark alley."

Sophie glares, but her hand grips his tightly. "You're paying for my new heels."

He kisses her again, soft and chaste, pulling back just as her eyes begin to close. "As you wish."