This was inspired by a motion of Sophie's at the end of The Girl's Night Out Job. She indicates her ear when she says "the things we do for friends." I don't own Leverage. Spoilers for Season 4.

"So, did you enjoy your 'girl's night out?'" Nate looked at Sophie inquisitively.

"Yeah, about that. Parker and Tara and I sort of ended up crashing a party full of Venezuelan diplomats and then almost getting blown up. But on the up side we did end up helping a lot of innocent Venezuelan citizens, so…" She trailed off at his look. "What?"

"How close?" She just kept watching him with her brow furrowed so he said "How close did that bomb come to killing you?"

For a second she thought about lying to him, but part of what she'd learned during her time in Europe had been that lying to a mark was one thing. Lying to family, however convenient, was a different thing entirely. So she said "About ten seconds."

His eyes closed for a second. It was the only way he could keep the fear from showing. "Oh," he said quietly.

"Nate, I'm fine. Really."

In reply to this he reached up to just behind her right ear and touched her gently. "Ow. Wait… ow? What the hell?" She reached her own fingers up and touched the same spot. It felt… prickly.

Nate stood up and lifted her hair back away from her ear. "Take a deep breath," he said softly. As she did, she felt a sharp tug. He held up a piece of glass about a quarter of an inch long. "This from the bomb going off?"

"Uh… not exactly. See, originally we were trying to figure out why this thief was targeting Parker's friend Peggy. So Tara and I went to his hotel room. Except we were only there for about a minute when these other guys came in, FBI I think. We hid but they found out we were there and there was a struggle and I distracted one while Tara knocked him out with a vase. She did pick a piece of glass out of my hair but I didn't realise any had cut me." She could feel a drop of blood oozing out of the spot. Nate grabbed a tissue and pressed it against the wound. He most definitely didn't want it ruining that dress, because she looked HOT.

"So not only did you end up near a bomb, you also ended up fighting two armed men."

"I never said they were armed."

"You didn't have to." After a few seconds he said "Actually I sort of got shot at tonight. So much for just playing poker."

Sophie's eyes flashed. "Who shot at you? And are they dead yet? Because if not I want my fair share of hurting them."

Nate smiled slightly. The fact that Sophie had a jealous streak hadn't surprised him at all; the fact that she also had a territorial and protective streak had. "It's okay Soph. It's taken care of. Let's see if the bleeding's stopped." He moved around to her side to get a better look at the area and then said "Why do you have your ear bud in?"

She carefully kept her face blank. "What?" she asked innocently. "Oh. I must have forgotten to take it out."

He tilted his head and regarded her silently for a few seconds, and then pulled it out. And started to put it to his ear. "Wait, no, don't," she tried to say, but she was too late. And really, she hadn't known his eyes could go that wide. It would've been comical if she wasn't so worried about what he was going to think of her after this.

After a few seconds, Nate took out the earpiece and handed it back. After deciding that the damage was already done, she put it back in her ear.

"Why?" he asked.

This was something new; Nate Ford actually giving her a chance to explain instead of just making assumptions. So she decided to tell him the truth.

"As a failsafe. She doesn't know him."

"Him who?"

"He's a thief. Name of Craig Mattingly. Maybe a bit older than Parker, but not much. Good looking." At this statement Nate raised his eyebrows at her and she said, a bit exasperated "Well he is. I'm not blind, you know. Anyway, to answer your question of why, Tara's my friend. While most times I'd say she's quite capable of taking care of herself, it only takes losing focus once in the wrong company and you wind up sorry for the rest of your life. This" she indicated her right ear "is something we've been doing for each other off and on for nearly twenty years. When one of us was either particularly worried about the behaviour of a certain mark, or felt like just letting go of all need to protect ourselves for one night, we'd have the other listen in. That way, if something went badly, the person listening knew immediately and could come to the other's aid. It's saved my life twice."

"But how can you…" he pointed at her ear "you know, relax enough to… when you know someone is listening to you?"

"Nate, I don't feel any shame at all about having sex. None. By now you've probably noticed." He smiled a bit and she said "Exactly. Part of it is my personality, part of it is years of grifting. Besides, Tara is my friend. Actually, at one point she was a lot more. Suffice it to say that physically, there are absolutely no secrets between us. I'm perfectly willing to put my life in her hands, and that's what this is really about. Not about sex, but about giving up control."

Nate didn't look at all surprised at her implication that she'd been Tara's lover. She'd thought he'd figured it out. He was extremely smart.

There was a question in his eyes now, but he was fighting the urge to ask it. She was about 75% sure that she knew what it was; it was, after all, her job to read people. After a few seconds she said "You can ask if you want."

His eyes were amused at her reading him. She did it all the time, to the whole team. Eliot had been angry at it, especially after the Davids fiasco, until Sophie finally lost her cool one day and told him that she couldn't help it dammit, it was who she was, and how would he like it if someone asked him to give up using one of his best talents? That had apparently gotten through to Eliot, because he'd stopped snarking at her about it.

"Does it turn you on?" Nate was looking anywhere but her eyes.

"I'm sorry, were you asking that question of the lamp? Because it didn't seem like it was addressed to me." She knew he hated this, hated her forcing him into actual emotional contact, but he needed to get used to it. He'd spent so long isolating himself that any emotional connection made him uncomfortable, edgy. After a second he sighed, met her eyes, and repeated his question.

"Does watching porn turn you on?" Her question was so calm that it took him a second to register it and start to look offended.

"Hey, who says I…" She cut him off.

"I've seen under your bed, remember?" She gave him a small smile. "So?"

"Why should I answer you if you aren't answering me?"

"Because if you know the answer to my question, then you know the answer to yours. Yes Nate, it turns me on. Of course it does."

"Oh." He looked like he was fighting off another question, but apparently he couldn't help this one, so he grinned a bit and said "How much?"

She took his hand and led him up the stairs. "You're about to find out."