Author's note: all the usual disclaimers about not owning the Leverage characters/concept and not making any money from this apply.

Chapter 1 was really more of a teaser, so here is a proper first offering!


Eliot knew the effects of bullet wounds. He took Udall out with a single, vicious punch because he knew his shoulder had one punch in it, but couldn't guarantee two. Likewise, he knew that after the second bullet hit his left leg he could launch himself those few inches needed to add the power to his punch that would ensure a knock out, but after that and the landing that followed, all bets on strength and mobility were off. There was a split second, as he delivered the punch and felt the secondary reverberations up his arm from Udall's head hitting the floor, when he wondered if he had misjudged his strength in the other direction and actually killed the guy. It was too late to do anything about it if he had, and the thought was lost as he landed in an ungainly sprawl and the pain rolled through him. He rode the wave as it crested, then took a moment to just breathe as it receded to manageable levels. As rational thought returned, he pushed himself up and off Udall, reaching out with his left hand to check for a pulse and respirations. Eliot breathed a sigh of relief as he found both. Apart from anything else, it would be a whole lot easier for Eliot, Hardison and Parker to stay out of the official incident reports of if there was no dead body to explain.


Stretching a little further, Eliot pulled the gun towards him and emptied it of the remaining bullets before tossing it into a corner. He growled a little to himself. How many years had Hardison been watching him do this very thing to pretty much every firearm that came into his possession? And what had Hardison done? Kicked the damn thing little more than a couple of yards from the crazy guy's hand. And it wasn't like Hardison didn't know the guy was perfectly willing to kill to get his message out there: he'd helped save the 911 administrator from the hit that morning, had seen the farmer at the pig farm, and had been the one thing standing between half the FBI in Washington and incineration out at Udall's decoy trailer that afternoon. Eliot mentally berated Hardison a little more – complete with the requisite Dammit, Hardison!s – as he hauled himself off the floor and onto one of the seats in the subway car. He could hear the other two over the comms and gathered, reading between the lines of Hardison's freak out, that Parker had managed to burn off the virus. Still, they should see about getting her a dose of the vaccine Udall had used on himself. Hardison too, since he had rushed out there. Just to be safe. Eliot put this under Call Vance (and above Call Nate and let him know we'll be late back) on his mental to-do list as he inspected the damage to his leg and shoulder.

The leg would be okay. The entry wound in his quadriceps was small and neat, the exit wound in his hamstring larger and messier, and walking was going to suck for a few days, but it wasn't bleeding heavily enough for him to have to worry about any major blood vessels having been severed. The shoulder wound, which had started out miraculously small and slow bleeding, had definitely torn further open - front, middle and back - during that punch, and, by the feel of his shirt, he wasn't going to escape a stop off with the paramedics even if he could still talk his way out of a hospital visit. At least the shirt was red. If he pulled his jacket on over it, maybe he could still make it to and into a hotel without raising too many questions or eyebrows.


Or maybe not. The expressions on Parker and Hardison's faces as they tumbled through the door and caught sight of him suggested that "inconspicuous" was too much to hope for. Damn, but he was glad to see them – shaken, but whole, and hopefully unexposed to the virus.

Vaccine, he thought again. And Vance.

"Damn, Eliot," Hardison said as he got his mouth and feet moving again, eyes going from the unconscious Udall on the floor to his blood-covered friend. His hands made uncertain darting motions towards Eliot's injured shoulder, as if he wanted to help but was unsure how. "You all right?"

Eliot batted the hands away.

"It looks worse than it is," he said, shifting a little in his seat so he could reach his cell phone with his left hand. He nodded down at Udall. "Parker, can you tie this guy up or something?"

Parker nodded and got to work. Hardison was still hovering, wanting to apply direct pressure or clean the wounds or something as Eliot pulled up Vance's number on his phone. He glared at Hardison as he dialled, and the younger man subsided, hunkering down next to Parker as she finished securing Udall, still processing what the three of them had done that afternoon...what Eliot and Parker, in particular, had just been willing to do, seemingly without fear or hesitation. He wasn't sure whether to envy their coolness under pressure or to curse them for damn idiots with lousy survival instincts.

"Vance," Eliot said. "We've got him. The bomb's defused and the virus is destroyed, so you can send people down to arrest him...Udall's unconscious, though, so you might want to send a paramedic down too."

There was a pause as Eliot listened to the response.

"Uh-huh," Eliot grunted. "And one more thing. Udall made a vaccine – looked like it was stored at his house?" Eliot quirked an eyebrow at Hardison for confirmation as he spoke, getting a quick nod in return. "We're going to need a couple of doses for Parker and Hardison, just in case they were exposed while destroying the virus."

"Three doses," Parker piped up, tugging at her last knot to test it.

"I was in here when you torched the virus," Eliot protested.

"Yeah," Hardison said, "but we were all in the lab and at the pig farm, so, just to be safe, three doses."

Eliot was looking stubborn.

"I'm not taking mine unless you take yours," Parker said, looking to Hardison for solidarity. "And go to the hospital to have those bullet holes fixed."

Eliot glared at them, but they showed no signs of backing down.

"Three doses," he said into the phone, then hung up. "No hospital; the paramedics can patch me up. But we'll all take the vaccine. Deal?"

Parker and Hardison exchanged looks, then nodded.


The three of them lapsed into silence, adrenalin levels starting to ebb as it finally started to penetrate that the world was not about to either explode or be engulfed by an apocalyptic flu epidemic. Eliot wanted to say something to the other two, to somehow acknowledge the way they had stepped into the breach simply because they were there, and he couldn't do it alone. Before he could find the words, however, the subway car was filling with law enforcement and emergency medical services personnel, and he was fighting off paramedics with grabby hands who were arguing about how to get him topside given that the maintenance stairwell they had entered through was too narrow to manoeuvre a stretcher through.

"I can walk, damn it," he growled, batting away the most persistent hands and pushing to his feet.

And he could. Sort of. But when, after five or six steps, his left leg was threatening to give out on him, he didn't object to Hardison's sliding a shoulder under his left arm in support, or even to the paramedic who insisted on tagging along and grabbing his belt loops for a little extra lift on the painful journey upstairs. Parker had skipped ahead, not saying anything more than that she would be back.