Spoilers for everything up to the end of season four. I don't own Leverage, or The Gambler, by Kenny Rogers (though it would be really awesome if I did.) This is mostly Nate/Sophie sex, just a warning. Also, slight dub-con related to neuro-linguistic programming.

The first day they spent in the 'bat cave' Nate was kept busy setting things up and trying to figure out how to take down both Latimer and Dubenich. He barely spoke to the team and even his greetings for the extra members of the crew they'd gathered were perfunctory, automatic. The team had seen this often; they knew to leave him be. Only when he had the plan firmly worked out in his brain would he come back out of his shell.

They'd picked a hotel that wasn't far from the closest entrance to the tunnels; Eliot had made sure that each one of them understood that they were never to leave the tunnels until it was dark outside, and they were always to be back before first light hit the sky. If they were still in the hotel after it got light out they were to stay there. Period. Sophie had argued that she could walk out there in broad daylight and no-one would know who she was; Parker had grumbled that she'd made a living not being seen and there was no way she'd get caught.

Eliot's response, to the room at large, had been that any person that he caught violating this simple rule would be punished the same way he'd punish a kid that couldn't behave: with a clear explanation of what they'd done wrong, followed by a spanking to make the lesson stick.

Sophie had been outraged at the thought that he'd actually spank one of them. Parker had simply gotten that look that said if he wanted to do it he'd have to catch her first. All of the team remembered the time she disappeared on them because a mark had hurt her. They'd had to search for two days before they finally found her curled up in an air vent in Nate's apartment, dehydrated and starving and looking like nothing so much as a wild animal caught in a trap. Sophie'd had to go in and get her; when Eliot and then Nate had tried to touch her she'd actually swiped at them with a knife (one of Eliot's).

At almost 11 pm of the third night they were there, Sophie attempted to pull Nate away from his plans and his drawings, frustrated at the thought that they were wasting time they could be spending in a comfortable hotel room. And burning darkness, which it being summer and all, there wasn't as much of in the first place.

But it was the fourth night, the one right before the day where their plan was all going to culminate, that Sophie grabbed Nate by the arm and actually dragged him away from the screens, from the plans, from all of it. He went, of course; Nate Ford wasn't an idiot, and he'd recognised the look in her eyes. When she led him further into the tunnels instead of outside and up to a comfortable hotel room, he'd been a bit surprised but had shaken it off.

He really hadn't been expecting this tonight; he'd pissed her off, he knew, when she'd tried to talk to him about why killing Dubenich was a bad idea. "The Gambler?" he'd teased. His rejection of her had cut, and probably a lot more deeply than she'd ever allow him to see. He'd also turned Eliot away not long after that, by simply not giving the man any assurances that he wouldn't make himself into a murderer.

So he was shocked when she grabbed him by the front of his shirt, pushing him up against the stone wall of a room in a way that he was certain would leave bruises. She fused her mouth to his, kissing him with more passion than he'd felt since that first time, standing on the Maltese Falcon with a bullet in his side and pain in his heart.

Her hands were in his hair, pulling roughly, holding his mouth so she could have the best access possible. Her nails had grown out a bit, and he could feel them scraping his scalp, sending shivers down his spine. When she pushed her tongue against his lips, demanding entrance, he let her have what she wanted. That part at the back of his mind that never shut up was telling him that this was all about possession, about trying to tell him in some visceral way that he belonged to her and she refused to give him up without a fight.

He wasn't sure what it was that had him kissing her back with the same desperation. He'd never been anything but gentle with her, never left marks. It had frustrated her in the beginning but she'd found a way to work with it, and he'd never even considered that he might be missing something. That sometimes gentleness had no part in this.

She was panting by the time the kiss ended. Casually, as if they were in the middle of his bedroom and not a semi-public place, she pulled off her shirt and tossed it aside, followed by her bra. His shirt she simply looked at for a second, then ripped it off, sending buttons flying and drawing a half protest from Nate. He'd liked that shirt. Then he realised that he might be dead tomorrow, so he decided to worry about it the day after.

Sophie kissed him again, dragging a hand down his chest and back up again, nails raking just shy of drawing blood. It was a surprising turn on, the pain all mixed up with the pleasure and making his head spin. He was rock hard inside his slacks, and he knew she could feel it when she brushed up against him. The hand that had been exploring his chest drifted lower, fumbling with his belt and never stopping the kiss to do it.

He groaned when her hand finally made it inside his pants. She wrapped her fingers around him, cool against the heat of his flesh, tightening and releasing in a rhythm that he knew was meant to frustrate. She wanted him to lose control, he realised with a bit of a shock. She wanted him to be a little rough, wanted this as close to pain as pleasure could get. He took a deep breath.

"If you let me hurt you I swear to God I'll have Eliot hold you down and I'll spank you myself," he said, blue eyes burning into hers. She stared right back, unwilling or unable to back down from the challenge he posed. Sometimes, in his drunker moments, he wondered if she wouldn't have been smarter to give in, just get over him and move on. But she was a moth and he the flame; dancing in so close to the heat and trying not to get burned, even though his very nature pretty well guaranteed it.

"Unlike you, I have no problem admitting it: I need you. And I'm still going to need you after all this is over and done. I won't stop fighting until you're long gone. But none of that will be resolved tonight. So just shut the hell up and fuck me, Nate. Help me forget, even if it's only for a little while." She kissed him again, and he had to bite back a curse when he felt her teeth on his bottom lip and then tasted blood.

Nate glanced around the room, looking in vain for somewhere even vaguely comfortable. But Soph was distracting him, had dropped to her knees in front of him, and hell no, there was no way he was letting her do that right now. He'd be lucky to last two minutes, and he had plans. So he pulled her back up. "No," he said shortly. "Not like that. You wanted me to fuck you, so that's what I'm going to do." He guided her over to a ledge that was just above waist height on her. "Face the wall. Hands on the ledge, and don't move them."

She looked slightly mutinous at his ordering her around; generally she tended to have the upper hand in the bedroom. But not tonight. After a second of hesitation, probably just to prove that she didn't wholeheartedly enjoy being ordered around, she put her hands on the ledge as instructed. Nate dragged his hands up her sides and then brought them around to caress her breasts. For a few seconds he just enjoyed teasing her, drifting his fingers around and beneath her nipples but never actually touching them. Her knuckles were white where she gripped the aged stone in front of her.

"Dammit, Nate, stop teasing me!"

He leaned down and whispered in her ear "Now you know how I felt. But unlike you, I'm not about to walk away." He dragged his teeth down to her shoulder, pressing enough that she gasped but not enough to really hurt her. She growled, actually growled at him. He couldn't help but grin.

Finally he let his fingers caress her nipples, already beaded tight in anticipation of his touch. She whimpered slightly at the sensations that were washing over her. Her hands never left the ledge.

"Never would've guessed I could get the great Sophie Devereaux to submit to me," he said, trying for a reaction.

"Helps when you do things right."

"Like this?" he asked, moving his hands down her body over her hips. Her skirt was nothing, just a thin wisp of fabric that disappeared easily once he'd pulled down the zipper.

And holy God. She wasn't wearing underwear. In an effort to hide how much that gesture affected him he went on the offensive. "What, you run out of laundry? Or you had this all planned out ahead of time?"

She groaned as his fingers slid into her. "Let's just say I was fairly certain how this would end up." He dragged his fingers up, caressing her clit, and she gasped.

"More," she ordered.

"Ask nicely."

Even standing behind her Nate could see Sophie bristle at the fact that he was 'making' her ask. After a second she must have decided it was worth the bruise to her pride, because she let out an irritated sigh and said "Please."

He smiled against her shoulder and complied. "See, that wasn't so bad."

He wasn't sure what language she was speaking in but it damned sure wasn't English. He got the gist of her message from the tone though. "Let me guess, you're calling me an arrogant son of a bitch again?"

She couldn't help the amusement she felt, even if none of it showed. "Something along those lines."

"Mmm. Well you wouldn't want that kind of guy to touch you, would you?" He drew his fingers back, running them up and down her inner thigh instead. She groaned angrily at the loss of contact.

"Why haven't you let go yet?" Nate asked curiously. "I'd have lost my patience way before now." He moved his hand back up to touch her again.

Sophie swallowed a gasp and then replied "You all joke about me 'programming' Eliot… I'm not the only one who can do that. It's hard to ignore that programming, even if it has been years."

"Oh." Nate was quiet for a second and then he pulled back and said "You can let go whenever you want. I didn't know it was me stopping you… sorry."

Sophie let out an exasperated sigh as she turned around. "Nate, did it seem like I wasn't enjoying myself? Sometimes it's nice not to be in control." She kissed him again. "Someday maybe I'll be able to teach you how not to think so much." She'd reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet (he thought about teasing her about always having been after the damn thing, but decided against it) and she flipped it open and pulled out the condom she'd made him put there when they'd started all of this… thing between them.

He got rid of his pants and then looked around again. After a second he sighed and kicked his pants against the wall and then sat down on them. Then he pulled Soph down in his lap. "Look at me," he said in his best command voice. She met his eyes and didn't look away, and he could actually see the pleasure there when she sank down onto him. When she finally started moving they groaned in unison, and then both of them laughed slightly. It was the utter absurdity of this, of them, that was amusing; neither of them had ever really believed they'd make it here.

She was trying for more friction but in the position she was in it wasn't working. Then her eyes fell on the ledge she'd been gripping earlier and she had an idea. Using her arms she pulled herself up, almost all the way off of Nate's shaft, and then sank down again. And it was definitely better. For him too, if the dazed look in his blue eyes was any indication. Though her breasts were kind of in his face, so that may have had something to do with it. He was helping her move her weight, his hands cradling her hips.

Not long after that she felt the first spirals of pleasure beginning deep inside her. It was uncanny how well he could read her; he could feel that she was close so he moved one hand from her hip back to her clit, not teasing anymore, stimulating with the direct result of making her lose it. And it worked, because she was coming, and calling his name throughout. He was only a short couple of seconds behind her, and he held her against him so she wouldn't fall over when she let go of the ledge.

It was the wetness against his shoulder that let Nate know she was crying; she was eerily silent when she wept. He just hugged her, rubbing her back, wanting to reassure her about tomorrow but not knowing if it would be a lie. Eventually she pulled back with a bit of an embarrassed look on her face and in her eyes. He tilted her chin up so she'd look him in the eyes, and told her "You're entitled to cry you know."

He kind of expected her to give him the pot/kettle/black lecture, but she simply shrugged. He was at a loss. And then inspiration struck. And he started singing.

On a warm summer's evening,

On a train bound for nowhere,

I met up with the gambler…

The smile he got for that was one he'd remember for the rest of his life.