Disclaimer: I do not own Leverage or White Collar.
Characters/Pairings: Gen with canon pairings
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Warnings/spoilers: Violence towards children, OC character death. Spoilers through all seasons of Leverage and vague spoilers for seasons 1-4 of White Collar.
Word Count: 17, 163
Summary: After the fiasco with Michael and his followers, life settled down a bit. Eliot still did jobs for the Order of Thanatos, and now that Nate and Sophie had left the game, he, Hardison, and Parker were all set to take their crusade against corporate greed international. Then one day an old acquaintance of Eliot's shows up, calling in a favor owed. He has a job for Eliot, one which could not only get him kill, but start a war if the wrong people found out about it.
Sequel to: Sinner's Prayer
“Can ya’ll hear me?” Hardison asked, his voice carrying over the comms. “Eliot?”
Eliot turned his head slightly from where he was studying the two sculptures before the Temple of Dendur.
“I’m in position.”
“Good,” Hardison said. “I don’t have ya’ll on camera yet and I need to know where ya’ll are.”
Eliot stayed silent, continuing his trek around the outer perimeter of the exhibit. Waning sunlight poured through the stippled glass wall, and glinted off the reflecting pool surrounding the temple’s main structure. Through the glass wall, he could see people stretched out, enjoying the warm evening in Central Park.
Sophie and Neal continued to charm the director of the museum, both smooth and utterly in the characters they were playing. A part of Eliot mourned Neal’s deal with the FBI. If they’d had the conman on the team, he and Sophie would have been unbeatable. And maybe they wouldn’t have had to resort to some of Nate’s more outrageous plans.
“Parker,” Hardison said. “How’s it going?”
“The Lady is busy at the moment,” Mozzie said, sounding putout.”Don’t you know better than to interrupt a master at work?”
“Okay, I’m done,” Parker said, sounding cheerful. “I’m headed out now.”
“He’s on clean up. He should be out soon,” Park replied. “I can see Sophie and Neal. They’re almost to Eliot.”
“I’m in,” Hardison said. “The system is ours.”
“Eliot,” Nate said. “They’re about to head your way.”
“Roger that,” Eliot replied. He walked around until his back was to the glass wall, facing the temple. He could see his reflection in the waters before him.
He heard them before he saw them as Neal and Sophie glided in. She looked every inch the duchess she was playing, and Neal, with his vintage suit and perfect smile looked right at home by her side.
“Now, this is more like it,” Neal said, his accent just as soft and sophisticated as Sophie’s. He turned a besotted look her way, and patted her arm. “Isn’t it perfect, my dear?”
“Oh, it’s lovely,” Sophie said as she broke away and walked towards Eliot’s spot. “We can set up hors d'oeuvres over here.”
He continued his slow circuit of the temple, coming around the front just as Sophie passed him. She slipped the keycard into his pocket without missing a step, and he ambled over to the front of the temple, pretending to read the antiqued graffiti decorating the walls. Apparently a John Dillard had visited the temple in 1825.
“I‘m going to regret those two meeting aren’t I?” Peter muttered.
Eliot couldn’t hide his snort. “I’d worry more about Mozzie and Parker.”
“Now you’re trying to give me nightmares,” Peter said.
“Not funny, man,” Hardison said. “Now I’m stuck in the van with a grumpy G-Man.”
“Welcome to my world,” Neal said, not bothering to hide his amusement.
“Don’t forget Nate,” Parker said. “He’s always grumpy.”
“Neal,” Peter’s voice was saccharine as it came over the comms, and Eliot winced. “I’m sure I can find plenty of mortgage fraud cases for you to look over if the van’s too much for you.”
“I’m pretty sure that counts as cruel and unusual punishment, Suit.”
“Sorry, Neal, you’re on your own.”
“Whoa,” Parker said, her awe clear for everyone to hear. “He’s got Nate like powers.”
Eliot choked off a laugh, making it sound like a cough. Neal’s glare as he passed him let him know he hadn’t been very successful.
“All right, everyone,” Nate broke in. “I think it’s time we wrap this stage of the plan up.”
“On my way,” Eliot said. He followed the crowd as it headed towards the exit, the museum about to close in fifteen minutes. He could hear Sophie and Neal giving their own goodbyes as his feet hit the sidewalk.
“I’m clear,” Eliot said. “I’ll meet ya’ll back at the hotel.”
Eliot shut the comm off, taking it out and putting it in his jacket pocket. The night air had cooled, spring not yet ready to give way to summer. Eliot took a moment to admire the view as he relaxed some. Skyscrapers lit up the city, and people’s voices mingled with the thrum of engines, creating a symphonic harmony that was strictly New York. Standing on the steps of the Met, it was easy to see why this city held such a fascination with the rest of the world.
About a block from the museum, Eliot got into the back of Mozzie’s cab, a frown settling over his face when the meter turned on.
“I ain’t paying you,” he said as Mozzie pulled into traffic.
“I’ll have you know this is a legitimate business,” Mozzie said. “Just ask the Suit.”
“I don’t care,” Eliot said. “And you still owe me for Hamburg.”
“Of course,” Mozzie said, shutting the meter off.
They pulled up to the hotel about twenty minutes later. Eliot climbed out, giving Mozzie a nod goodbye. He watched the cab drive off into traffic before shaking his head and heading inside.
When he reached his hotel room, he found it already occupied. Parker had taken over his couch, while Hardison sat on the floor by the coffee table spreading out cartons of takeout. Nate had claimed one armchair and Peter the other, so Eliot shoved Parker’s legs out of the way and sat down.
“Neal and Sophie should be here soon,” Hardison said.
Eliot leaned forward and snagged a carton of fried rice and a pair of chopsticks.
“They were right behind me as I was leavin’,” Eliot said as he began eating.
A few minutes later they walked in, chatting like old friends. Neal held a bag full of beer, and Sophie carried a bottle of wine.
“Eliot,” Neal said as he set the beer by the coffee table. He handed one to Peter before snagging some food for himself. “You should have introduced me to Sophie years ago.”
“No, he shouldn’t have,” Peter said, pointing his beer bottle at Neal.
Sophie laughed and patted Peter’s shoulder as she went to settle by Nate. “Oh, you’re adorable.”
Eliot grinned at the affronted look on Peter’s face.
“That’s only cute coming from my wife.”
“When are you going in?” Nate asked, eyes focused on his drink.
Eliot took a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair. “Tonight, around midnight.”
They chatted for a bit, sharing bits and pieces of their lives that they could. No one wanted to put Peter in a position where he could not turn a blind eye, and some details of certain cases couldn’t be openly discussed. Food was passed around and regularly stolen when someone wasn’t paying enough attention.
It ended up turning into a competition between Neal and Parker, the latter taking it more seriously than the former. As good a thief as he was, Eliot knew Neal didn’t believe himself to be in Parker’s league. His real talent lay in forgery and grifting.
After an amusing tale about a job they’d pulled, Nate had ended up covered in blue jello, Nate stood, and held out a hand for Sophie. She rose, giving the room a soft smile.
“I believe it’s time we left since we’ve got a long night ahead of us,” Nate said. “We’ll see you later.”
Parker dragged Hardison off soon after, and Peter quickly followed. Eliot didn’t blame the man. He’d spent more time in the company of criminals than he’d been comfortable with. Neal gave him a knowing look and stood.
“I’ll see you later,” he said and Eliot nodded.
“Thanks,” he said as Neal stood in the open doorway. “You didn’t have to get involved, but, thanks.”
Neal nodded. “Anytime.” The look he gave Eliot spoke of their shared past, and grief over friends lost. “You don’t even have to ask.”
The door closing rang with a sort of finale that Eliot was familiar with. He rose and headed towards the bedroom. He had a job to get ready for.
“I’m in,” Eliot said as he carefully let the door close behind him.
The exhibit was dark, only the emergency lights on. Eliot stayed in the shadows, careful of the large glass wall to his right. Even at this hour, people still liked to stroll through Central Park, and the last thing they needed was the police being called.
“All right, man,” Hardison said. “I’ve got the security cameras, and the guards are on the other side of the building.”
“This rooftop is amazing,” Parker said. “Hey, Neal, want to go jumping? Oh, and the perimeter of the museum is clear.”
Laughter drifted over the comms, and Eliot rolled his eyes. Parker had warmed up to Neal after he’d told the story of how he’d base jumped off the side of a building in order to switch out a real painting with a forgery.
“Parker, stop trying to get Neal in trouble.”
He slipped the bottle of water from his jacket pocket as he entered the inner section of the temple. This was the area where offerings were made, and it was off limits to guest.
Kneeling before the back wall, Eliot sat the bottle down and pulled out the paint brush Neal had given him. It had a sleek long black handle and fine kolinsky hair for the bristles. He needed an all natural brush for this, and Neal had given up one of his brushes for the job.
“All right, I’m going silent,” Eliot said. He switched the comm off and put it in his pocket. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes and found his center. It was time to start.
Opening his eyes, he set the brush on his thigh before reaching forward and opening the bottle of water. He then picked up the brush, dipped it in, and started painting sigils on the floor of the temple. The wet lines barely showed on the stone floor, but Eliot could feel the call resonating out with each line he drew. The power grew as he began reciting the prayer, his words coinciding with each stroke of the brush.
This was the hard part, he had to keep his concentration up, and trust that his cobbled together team would watch his back. He knew Nate, Sophie, and Peter would be cautious about rushing in, and that for the most part, Parker would follow the plan.
Hardison had the tendency to overdo things, getting too cocky; thinking the stuff he read online somehow made him an expert. The kid was way too smart for his own good, but Eliot was hoping Neal could halt any reckless actions. If not, then Peter could scare Hardison into staying put. Besides Neal and Nate, he was the one who seemed to understand exactly how dangerous this whole job really was.
As he reached the end of his prayer, he painted the last line on the ground. The symbol glowed briefly before disappearing and a doorway opened up before him. A soft, warm light lit up the doorway, beckoning him forward.
Standing, he left the brush and the water bottle where they lay, shook out his wings, and walked through the door.
The power tingled over his nerves, dancing over the feathers in his wings, and lighting up his vision. He knew if he looked over his shoulder, he would see his wings, solid, with grey feathers, stretched out from his back.
The dagger Khepri had given him slipped into his hand as he walked the short hallway. The room he entered looked like the rest of the temple, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics etched into the wall. The colors were still vibrant, though, as if they had been put up yesterday. Incense burned from braziers, and torches kept the room well it. A large bed covered in plush blankets and pillows dominated the center.
Eliot eyed the three gods on the bed. The dagger felt heavy in his hand, and his heart cried out for him to just stop. The scene before him broke his heart, but he knew what must be done. Things could not continue as they were, things were getting messy enough as it was.
“Thanatos’ Heir,” Isis said, dark hair spilling over her shoulders. She regarded him with fathomless eyes, and Eliot felt small and weak in comparison. “We knew you would come.”
“He does not know what he does,” Osiris said.
He held the small boy, his head resting in his lap. He ran long fingers through sweat dampened hair, his gaze locked on Neper’s sleeping visage.
“I know,” Eliot said, unable to keep his voice from cracking. “Khepri told me.”
Osiris looked up, dark eyes filled with the wisdom only a God could handle.
“The world has changed so much,” he said, his voice filled with grief. “The humans have forgotten most of us.” He looked back down at Neper and sighed. “Some of us handle it better than most.”
“Some of ya’ll still get your dues,” Eliot said, his gaze tracking towards Isis and back.
“That is true,” she said. She gently drew a wet cloth along Neper’s head, washing away the sweat covering his skin.
“Can he be helped?” Eliot asked.
Osiris looked up, an odd expression flittering across his face. “No.”
Eliot gripped the dagger tighter and stepped forward, his heart sinking to his feet.
“I’ll make it quick,” Eliot said. “I promise.”
Osiris nodded. “Thank you.”
Isis scooted back as Eliot walked forward and knelt on the ground. Neper’s skin was pale, speckled with purplish bruises. His eyes were sunken in, and dark circles were prominent.
Eliot reached a hand out and settled it on the child’s shoulder. Locking eyes with Osiris and Isis, Eliot gave a solemn nod and brought the dagger up. He carefully placed the tip where the brainstem meets the spine. Osiris rested a hand on Neper’s head and Eliot took a deep breath.
Using every bit of skill he’d gained over the years, plus the strength that had been given to him when he’d joined the Order of Thanatos and gained his wings, Eliot pushed the dagger in. It was quick, sliding through bone and muscle with very little resistance.
Blood squirted out, spraying him in the face and chest. It was hot, and sticky, coating his skin and leaving a coppery scent in his nose. His stomach rolled and he forced away memories from when he’d done similar acts for less noble reasons.
Neper’s chest stopped moving and Eliot could hear the moment his heart fell silent. He’d never opened his eyes. The dagger came out just as easily as it had gone in, and Eliot turned it over, handle facing Osiris.
“Here,” Eliot said. “I think it’s best if I leave this with you.”
Osiris nodded and took the blade before handing it off to Isis.
“There is a basin in the outer chamber you can use to clean up,” he said. He turned his gaze back to Neper, grief plain to see.
Eliot stood and left, not bothering with anymore words. All that needed to be said had been, and his job was done. The alliance was finished, and it was time he left them to mourn.
The water in the basin was warm and smelled of kapet incense. Eliot took off his flannel shirt, leaving him clad in just his tank top. He used his shirt to wash off the blood from his face, neck, and hands.
He scrubbed the wet shirt over his hair, getting most of the blood out. He’d still need to take a shower when he got back to the hotel. There was only so much he could do with what he’d been given.
When he finished he wrung his shirt out, and laid it over one shoulder, before leaving the temple. He picked up the bottle and the paintbrush on his way out.
Neal was waiting for him a block from the museum. He took the bottle and paintbrush, falling into step beside him without a word. When they reached the street that would lead him to June’s house, Neal gave Eliot a brief pat on his shoulder and headed off, the dark night swallowing him up.
Eliot waited, the noise of the city singing to him as it refused to rest. He started counting in his head, reaching three when Parker skipped up to his side, and Hardison appeared on his left.
“Nate and Sophie took the van,” he said. “They’re dropping Peter off at his place.”
Eliot started walking then, Parker bouncing along beside him, Hardison with his hands tucked into the pockets of his hoodie.
“Can we go home now?” Parker asked as they waited for a light to change. “I miss Portland.” She slipped in between him and Hardison, her arms looping around theirs.
Eliot and Hardison shared a look, before Eliot shook his head. He knew he’d have to face the consequences of his so called destiny soon enough, but for now he felt lighter, free of the obligation of a debt owed. He was still sad that the job had to be done, but he knew it was for the best. Some things just could not be ignored.
“Yeah, Parker,” he said as the light turned green, signaling it was their turn to cross. “We can go home now.”