Disclaimer: If I owned Hustle or Leverage would I be writing fanfiction?

Summary: Sequel to Alone. What's a favor between friends? Takes place post Sophie leaving in The Two Live Crews Job.

Pairings: Eliot/Ash Friendship, Could be read as pre-slash if you squint (though that's not how it was intended)

Explanation: For those who don't know Hustle is a British show about a team of conmen, who only steal from the guilty. Leverage is it's American counterpart. Eliot (Leverage) and Ash (Hustle) are the hitters/fixers of their respective teams.

Favors

Their parting happened just as suddenly as their meeting did. One day they're together, and then the next there's a letter from Sophie with a play ticket enclosed, ("Oh, Eliot would you please come?") and a visit from, Mickey, recently returned from Australia ("Ash, I need you…"). That's all it took for the two of them to part ways. True they're friends, but in the end their teams will always come first.

They promise to keep in touch, and in the beginning they do. There are phone calls; ("We have these two new kids on the team, because Danny and Stacey decided to stay in America. If they should happen to cross paths with you, let me know, would you?") and e-mails ("So today we stole a hospital. Yes, I am serious."). There's even one disastrous attempt at a video chat. (Hardison hasn't stopped laughing at Eliot for that one.)

But that's only for the first few weeks. Soon the calls and e-mails get farther apart, and within a couple of months they've stopped. Neither Ash nor Eliot has time to call. They're each too focused on their team. Too busy basking in the feeling of having a family to protect again to think about the person who kept them sane through the months when they were alone.

So when the call does come, it's completely unexpected.

"Sophie's on her way to London," Eliot began the conversation without preamble. "She's got it into her head that all the aliases she's used while grifting have somehow destroyed the real her, so she's on her way to London to 'find herself'." Eliot's voice left no doubt as to how annoying he found that. "I don't much like the idea of her being in London by herself. But I can't leave the team. Will you keep an eye on her for me?"

"Of course," Ash heard himself replying. Like there was ever any other answer. Apart from Mickey, Eliot is Ash's best friend. And there is nothing Ash wouldn't do for a friend.

So Ash did just as Eliot requested. For weeks he spent every spare moment discreetly tailing Miss Sophie Devereaux. Whenever he couldn't follow her directly, (because he did have to do things like eat and sleep occasionally) Ash called in favors from other cons to keep an eye on her.

But this couldn't go on forever, and eventually a day came when Ash couldn't watch Sophie, and none of the cons he would normally ask could either. So he turned to the one person he knew had the afternoon free. Sean. It's not something Ash particularly wanted to do, but he had little choice in the matter. Someone's had to watch over Sophie, and anyway, Sean could use the practice tailing people. At least that's what Ash told himself as he headed off to play his part in the con. Still, he couldn't completely ignore the niggling feeling in his gut that something wass going to go wrong.

His worst fears were confirmed when, after the job, he headed to Sophie's current location. (Which he knew down to the block. Eliot had apparently implanted trackers in the heels of every pair of shoes Sophie owned, as well as sewn them into the hems of her clothes. Ash was actually quite impressed, when he considered the time it must have taken. Sophie has a lot of clothes.) As he pulled up at the locale he was only a little bit surprised to see Sean backed up against the wall as Sophie held a can of mace menacingly in his face.

"Who are you?" She hissed. "Why are you following me?"

"I… I… I…" Sean stuttered, frantically looking for a way out. Then he caught sight of Ash's car, "Ash! Help me!"

Ash sighed. He was halfway tempted to leave him to his fate. It could teach him a lesson or two about properly following someone. But Mickey might get a tad bit cross if he let Sean get maced, and therefore unable to perform his role in the con. Slowly he got out of the car and paced over to Sean and Sophie.

"I should just leave you here, you know. Might teach you a few things about tailing someone," Sean was to dumb-struck to speak. "But Mickey might get cross at me if I do." Sean still couldn't say anything. Ash could only sigh as he pushed Sean in the direction of the car. "You get back to the car now. We'll discuss what you should have done on the way back to the penthouse."

Ash tried not to laugh at the bemused expression on Sophie's face as Sean scrambled back to the car.

Putting on his most charming smile Ash turned back to Sophie. "I'm Ash Morgan. Sorry about him, ma'am. Sean is still young and hasn't learned the proper way to tail someone yet."

Sophie blinked. "Then you admit you've been tailing me."

Ash nodded, "A mutual friend asked me if I would keep an eye on you while you're in London."

Confusion showed on her face for a second, "Who would?" Then it clicked. "Eliot…" She hissed. "That… that misogynistic bastard. What does he think he is? Does he think I can't take care of myself?"

"I don't know ma'am, all I know is that Eliot asked me to make sure you were safe and that is what I intend to do." He caught sight of the Con who was supposed to replace Sean on guard duty. "Now, if you'll excuse me I have to get that one home so he can play his part in the con. Someone will always be around , so if you find yourself in need of help just yell."

A few days later Sophie approached Ash while he was following her through a astounding variety of stores. "Look," she began without preamble. "I still don't know how I feel about Eliot asking you to follow me. But," she put up her hand to stop him before Ash could protest, "I do understand why he did it."

Her expression brightened; "Well, as long as you're here you might as well make yourself useful." Gleefully she began to load him up with her multitude of shopping bags.

Ash sighed. Eliot owed him big time for this one.

AN: Here it is at last, the sequel to Alone. I might write another chapter to this in which Eliot does Ash a favor, but we'll see. They'll definitely be at least one more story set when the Leverage crew is in London during The King George Job.

Anyway, drop a line if you liked the story.

Til Next Time,

Regal