Title: Law 2 Themselves Fandom(s): Leverage/2012 Summary: They made this big to do about saving the government. Saved leaders and thinkers and specialists, seemed to forget that it was a government for the people, by the people. Boston didn’t want their government.
Relationship(s): This is intended to be Nate/Eliot, but it’s not explicit or anything. So feel free to ignore it.
*Note: This is EAD excerpt, which means that it is not a finished product, may be confusing at times, have plot holes and bad grammar, and may never actually get finished. Read at your own risk.
For disclaimer information for both writing and cover art see Disclaimer.
[I admit, this one is slightly more rough than most other things I post.]
Alex didn’t pack. Eliot had taught him to keep an emergency bag in an easily accessible place and Parker had given him enough instruction that the hacker was comfortable enough easing the window open and dropping his bag out the other edge. His data had all been set to burn and wipe the instant his fingerprint registered on the emergency cabinet’s lock. A safty protocal he was pretty happy to have in place considering he didn’t have any time to do it himself.
It took all the training and coaching Sophie had ever given him to walk right past the government spoof planting the bomb on the undercariage of John Lee’s, his, car. But as just another businessman on the street walking home from work after a busy day, aged a little younger than the picture, Alec didn’t stand out. His cover as John Lee, real estate investor and broker was broken, but his life had been saved. Not everyone’s had.
There had been a hacker, codename Genisis, who liked lurking in unsanctioned areas online. He had come to the general forum with … a strange story, about a dam in china and museum in the alps, and a non-disclusure agreement written in forty different languages. But he hadn’t making sense, bouncing off the walls and promising ‘proof to bring the government down’. No one had really taken him seriously, Alec hadn’t at least. Not until Genisis had failed to show up.
It had taken a little digging and some unusual partnership working and dividing the labor between several of the hackers exposed because of Genisis, to find out that the man, Alfred Louis of Louisville, Kentucky, had been silenced by a government sanctioned hit; and that none of the other hackers involved should be answering the door anytime soon. Of the eight originally on the forum Alec could predict the silencing of at least six. Cupcake took the report seriously and had left the chat immediately, not staying to find out that several of the others ragged on her for ‘overreacting’.
The other six were confident in their firewalls and security systems and the rat’s maze of dummy information and location data they kept to protect themselves. A year and a half ago Alec would have been one of their number. He would have leaned back and laughed in arrogance that the government even thought about trying to find him. A year trying to crack Eliot hard shell, teaching Parker how to communicate, and watching Nate completely destroy their marks wihtout ever touching a keyboard or throwing a punch had taught Alec to appreciate all the skills he didn’t have.
Alec shivered lightly and tucked his hands into the pockets of his business jacket. He didn’t know what was going on, but he knew where Nate was and he knew how to contact Eliot. Everything else could come together after, right now he was just glad he’d received those tickets in the mail.
Alec never even thought to hide it. His team was made of criminals, even if he still sometimes hesitated when Sophie told him to do something, there was no one he trusted more than his team. So when they trooped in early on one of their days off and he was seated at the dinning table, papers spread out all about, he didn’t make any move to cover it up. Just waited to see how they would react.
“Come on Hardison! No more work, we deserve at least a couple of days off before we even look at another case!” Sophie whined. There was no better way to put it. She whined, and honestly, in Alec’s opinion she whined constantly.
“It’s not work Sophie.” He said quietly watching his leader, watching his hitter. Both men carefully pawed through the documents and papers on the table. Sifting and shifting, eyes sliding and glancing at what they found.
Alec knew when they both found the ‘coup de resistance’. Eliot, one eye still more than slightly swollen shut, pinned him with a stare from across the table and Nate fairly collapsed into a chair.
“Tell me this is a joke, Hardison.” The hitter scowled, “I’ll only hurt you a little, damn man, give me a heart attack.” The horseman ran a fairly swollen hand through his hair.
The hacker didn’t say anything, didn’t move, didn’t joke, and in his silence he conveyed his seriousness better than anything else. The hitter slumped.
“You’re not joking.” Alec shook his head slowly.
“Coffee,” Nate said, setting aside the paper he was looking at. “We’re going to need a lot of coffee.”
“What are you all talking about?” Sophie slung her bag into a seat and snagged a paper from the table, “this is just another job, right? We’ve dealt with bad guys before.”
“Unless you can con Mother Earth into not blowing up, than I’m gonna guess that no, it’s not just another job.” Alec slumped in his seat. “I can’t tell you how hard I’ve looked at the data, trying to get it to tell me something different. But it just says the same things:,” waving a hand from one side of the pile to the other, “death, destruction, and failure of life. We’re all gonna die.”
Parker, who had gone straight to the couch in front of the tv, originally waiting for Eliot to join her, now crept closer. “We’re going to die?”
“No.” Nate said, leaving no room for an argument. “We’re not going to die, we’ve done to much come to far, to die because some scientist in a suit says that there’s no hope.”
“How, Nate?” Eliot asked, pulling Parker to sit between him and the hacker. “We can’t con Mother Earth.”
“No, we can’t.” Nate agreed as his brain spun on a thousand different threads. “And right now, I don’t even know how. But this,” The Mastermind slid the stapled sheaf of papers to the hitter, “tells me that someone does.”
It was a list, several columns wide and about a hundred pages long. The first couple of pages that Eliot flipped through were figures, ethnicities in the first column and then a series of percentages, always attached with a weighted figure. They were hard to read, but Eliot could give a guess as to what they were supposed to be.
“Values. On life?”
The mastermind nodded, “Mathematical reasoning for genetic diversity, percentages on genetic anomalies, best chance scenarios for repopulation.”
Alec snagged the sheets from Eliot and groaned, “Man, you know how long I’ve been looking at some of this data? Can’t make heads or tails of a lot of it.”
Parker whistled softly, “I follow to a point, but what’s the last value? The funny little weighted one?”
Eliot shrugged, giving a glance to the Mastermind, “Political appreciation?”
The former insurance investigator nodded, “probably. The worth of their arguments and worth in the current system, heavily weighted in the favor of the White Anglo Saxon demographic of the world. The question remains,” he spun the coffee cup carefully between his hands, “is what do we do with this information.”
“No.” Sophie said flatly, dropping the papers back onto the table. “This is some sort of game, and it’s not funny Hardison. Cut it out!”
“Hey,” Parker began before a hand from the hitter by her side laid like a weight and a warning against her thigh. She watched as he carefully eased from his seat and moved from around the table. Closer to Sohpie, and closer to Nate.
“You don’t get to do this!” The grifter near shouted at the still seated mastermind. Her eyes were dilated widely, almost too much, and there were drops of sweat ringing around her hair line and under her lip.
Sophie hadn’t handled the situation well. It was freightening that the world could end. That if Hardison hadn’t found evidence than they would have been just one more group that wouldn’t have known the end of the world was coming. Eliot dealt everyday with the fear, more for his new friends than himself, that today would be his last day. But Sophie was an artist; she was used to talking or walking or sometimes even sleeping her way out trouble. She wasn’t used to the finality of her death or even the idea that the planet had an expiration date.
Eliot, even when he wanted to believe Alec had set up an elaborate hauox, had seen how tired the Hacker was. There were dark bags under his eyes. His eyes themselves were bloodshot and there was a tremor in his hand. If the hitter had to guess, he’d say Alec hadn’t been sleeping well. Probably hadn’t been sleeping well for a while.
In a few minutes, once Sophie was dealt with, he’d put Alec to bed. The couch in front of the screens was a surprisingly comfortable sleeper; some hot chocolate and soup, there was a nice vegetable and beef that everyone had liked a couple weeks ago still in the freezer. So he’d thaw that out and put on a Disney movie, one of Parker’s, and feed his family as the gentle noises of Beauty and the Beast or Pocahantus lulled the tired Hacker to sleep with their thief.
He’d stay in the background with Nate and try to devise some sort of structured plan to at least try to attack his problem. He’d keep the Mastermind fuel with coffee and in the morning, when most of them would be feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable, he’d make a big breakfast. Tell them without words, that no matter what happens, they were still a family.
But first Sophie needed to calm down.
“Sophie, I need you to take a deep breath.” Nate said slowly as leaned forward, blocking Parker and Alec from Eliot’s, and Sophie’s, view. Eliot carefully counted seconds as his fingers wrapped around her wrist took her pulse. He gave the mastermind a nod once it was back in normal ranges. “This is scary, I know, but it’s not something you have to deal with immediately, so how about we get you a nice bottle of wine and put on a movie upstairs.”
Sophie slowly calmed, though still not in her best frame of mind as Nate led her up the stairs and into the bedroom.
“Parker,” Eliot said as he mainlined for Nate’s kitchen. He had a small stash of everybody’s favorites for the inevitable job that would eventually go horribly wrong. “Go get a bottle of the zinfindel from Abby downstairs, Hardison can you arrange for Sophie’s favorite movie to play in Nate’s room? I’ve got her favorite chocolates in the kitchen.”
The younger members of the team scattered without a complaint to get everything done. Things were changing even more than taking down bad guys or learning to be a family
The night went as predicted. Sophie slept the sleep of the drugged upstairs in Nate’s bed while Parker and Alec cuddled together on the couch. Up was playing on the screen, ostentatiously because Alec wouldn’t watch a movie about a princess. Eliot thought it was more likely the hacker genuinely enjoyed the fact that even as an old man Mr. Fredrickson was still able to create his own family. It sounded a lot like what happened with them.
The hitter was still smiling when he set the vegetable and beef soup in front of his leader. Moving away papers against the man’s desire and replacing the man’s pen with a spoon.
“Hey, now, I wasn’t finished with that.”
“Regardless of what happens, or when it happens,” the sometimes-chef pointed at the fromer drunk, “you still need to eat.” The hitter curbed his words with a curl of his lip. “Besides you wouldn’t want to insult the chef, would you?”
The mastermind surrendered with a half-hearted scowl. “Fine.”
With a chuckle Eliot reached over to look at the paper his friend was jotting notes on. A list of names. “Explain this, who’re these guys?”
Nate wiped his mouth against the napkin, “Possible players.” Another bite of the soup, “What I’ve been able to recreate from department directives, memos, partial email addresses; it’ll grow as we continue to work on it.”
“The wonder of bureaucracy,” Eliot said remembering, “the amount of paperwork required to tell a lie.”
“Hmm, and somewhere in there,” Nate pointed with his spoon, “is someone who has the truth.”
The hitter leaned over the list and circled a single name in blue pen. Carl Anheuser. “This guy,” he tapped with the pen cap. “He’s got a lot more power than he should.”
The mastermind dragged the paper back toward him, forcing the hitter to move closer. “Carl Anheuser? Who is he? What does he do?”
Eliot shrugged, “White House Chief of Staff, wasn’t always.”
[Insert details about Chief of Staff]
“He’s probably at the center of this mess somewhere, calling the shots.”
“Hmm.” Eliot hummed, “Sure, the President is unlikely to be calling shots on a project this big. Too vulnerable a position, being at the top. I wouldn’t be surprised if the currant President doesn’t even know what’s going on.”
“Or only knows enough to feel overwhelmed.”
Parker and Alec lay carefully in the nest of cusion and bedding that Eliot had created for them. Cuddling into each other’s body heat, reminding without words being necesary that they were together, as a family. Alec and Parker were just a small piece of a larger unit that was going to through it. Regardless of what happens, they would survive it together.
Alec leaned his head a little closer to the thief’s blond locks. “I haven’t been sleeping well.”
“I always make sure to get at least ten hours of sleep before a job,” he tightened his fingers into the weave of the afghan. “You and Eliot rely on me to have everything in order, so I did. Couldn’t let you guys down, not on my watch.”
Parker sighed, “You never did Hardison.” She ran gentle fingers questing over his skull, “but you should talk to Eliot, about whatever it was you were using to sleep or stay awake.” She shrugged, “He knows a lot about what’s good and what’s not, and what you can mix together.”
“Can I tell you?” the hacker breathed against her skin, so causious to need something from the thief that she couldn’t provide.
“About the nightmares? Sure, but I’m not to good at listening.”
“You listen fine.” He tossed a little, squirming on the weird couch-bed set up they had going on, no longer comfortable in the one position. “Besides, I just need to talk.”
She nodded, moving with him, and making a liar out of his previous statement it took a minute or two before Alec could gather his thoughts.
“I dreamt we all died. That I’d failed to get the information fast enough and that we’d all died.” He shivered and Parker cautiously reached out to enfold the man in a hug. “Over and over I would dream of all the ridiculous ways we could die, but I never figured out how to save you. Over and over.”
Parker ran careful fingers and palms in soothing caresses across her friend’s arms and shoulders. Telling him without words that she was still listening, that she was still there. That he hadn’t failed.
“I just don’t know what to do anymore.”
“You don’t have to.” She murmured into his ear. “Let Nate and Eliot figure it out. They’ll read through what you have and think about it, then they might talk about it, make notes-”
“They’ll all be on paper too.”
She smiled lightly, “They will. But when you get up in the morning, they’ll have questions and avenues of research and Eliot might start some additional plans. We won’t leave to flounder Alec, we never would. You’re family.”
Nate sat back in his chair. “What do you think?”
“Me?” Eliot’s head snapped up. “you’re asking my opinion?”
“Yes,” Nate smirked, “I’m asking the opinion of the world’s greatest hitter, a man who has been in and out of Top Secret government programs, war zones, refugee camps, and criminal conflicts, for his opinion on what the government would do; and,” he shrugged, “what we should do.” Then he frowned, “why is that surprising?”
“You just,” the hitter ducked his head, color rising to his cheeks. “Never want an opinion and when you do, it’s usually Sophie’s.”
“First,” the older man frowned, “I rarely want Sophie’s opinion, she just gives it anyways.” The hitter chuckled at that, there was no greater truth than the fact that Sophie Devereaux would have her opinion know come hell or high water. “For that matter, I very rarely even listen to it.”
“You just, never -” Eliot still wasn’t watching his leader when he cut himself off and Nate was treated to the perfect view of an old scar, slightly swollen from a rough abrasion, bruising peeking just out from the collar of his shirt. The mastermind had a suddenly chilling thought.
“How often do I send you into a situation you don’t feel comfortable with?” He leaned forward and gently nudged the man’s eyes up.
“Not so often,” Eliot murmured turning away from the rest of the apartment, toward the stillness of the small alcove by the kitchen. “Never more than I can handle, and you always get us out.” He shuddered, “I hurt worse under Moreau.”
“That, is not an encouraging statement Eliot.” Nate frowned.
“I’m your hitter, Nate. I can take the punishment, I can-”
“No,” the mastermind interrupted. “You’re my friend, and just because you can take it, doesn’t mean you should. We work on stealth and secrets and lies; we don’t need you to be the hitter every time.” The man gently ran his fingers around the edge of the nasty bruise on the hitter’s face. “If we’re doing it right, we shouldn’t even need a hitter.”
Eliot tugged, conflicted about whether he wanted to stay or to go. “Then why am I here?”
“Because you are more than your fists Eliot. I see the lust for a fight in your eyes and the utter satisfaction you get out a body that works exactly the way it should. The way you can’t help but need the fight. I give you the fight because you want it, but you ever think you’re not going to walk away from that fight, then you call it.” Nate tugged lightly with the hair in his hand. “I need you to make it home.”
When he couldn’t get any more out of the hitter than a soft nod the Mastermind moved on. “So, Eliot, What do you think?”
The hitter took a deep breath as both men moved back in their seats.
“It’s not just the U.S., best guess they’ll pull in the powers closer to first world: china, india, the uk, maybe a conglomerate of the European Union. And the government’s first plan would be to build a base right in the middle of the conflict region, the midwest. So best guess, however they’re planning to survive this; it’s not being built on US soil.”
Nate sighed and nodded, agreeing with the argument. “Who do you think?”
The hitter shrugged, “China. They have the land and control over their population, the monetary influence if not the physical resources. Any place else requires a little too much luck to succeed.”
“We don’t know enough about the science yet to predict what they’ll build or how, right?”
“Right,” Nate pulled his chair up to the table and settled in, pushing his soup bowl to the side. “I’m going to try to make heads or tails of this, see what more can be gleaned.”
“I’ll put the coffee on.”