Title: Sinner's Prayer
Disclaimer I do not own the characters of Leverage.
Characters/Pairings: The team, Shelley, original characters.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Warnings/spoilers: Spoilers for season four. Some violence and fictionalised religious fanaticism.
Word Count: 10K
Summary: The world is awakening, and the old ways are becoming obsolete. Agents of the Order of Thanatos are dying, and if one person has their way, Eliot will be next.
The crowd cheered as the ball was snapped. The quarterback danced back while the offensive line held back the defense. A quick glance to the left and the quarterback let the ball sail down the middle. An open receiver jumped to meet the ball. The play clock ticked down, the last few seconds of the game being eaten up by the home team’s Hail Mary pass. Eliot edged forward in his seat, eyes on the receiver as he juggled the ball, feet coming down in the end zone. Another loud cheer went up and carried through the speakers—
“Sorry! Just give me a minute and I’ll fix it.”
The screens in the apartment went out, the silence hanging in the air like the calm before a storm. Eliot turned to look at his soon to be deceased team mate. Hardison was half hidden underneath the new touch screens he was installing, long legs splayed out across the floor. Parker was next to him, a pile of tools and wires resting on her left.
“Hardison,” Eliot said. His voice was flat, calm. It was the kind of tone that had sent many opponents running for their lives. The noise coming for under the screens stopped.
In what took only a few seconds, Hardison was up and gone, a trail of wires left dangling in his wake. Parker stood and followed at a more leisurely pace, her laughter echoing in the room.
“I wish you wouldn’t do that.”
Eliot laughed, shaking his head at Nate’s exasperated tone. “It’s funny.” Standing he walked over to the fridge and grabbed another beer. “Besides, it keeps him on his toes.”
Eliot shrugged. “With all the crap I have to put up with from him during cons, I’ll take my revenge where I can get it.”
“You don’t seem upset about the game,” Nate said.
“That wasn’t the game I wasn’t waiting on.” Twisting the top off, Eliot took a sip just as his phone rang. Setting the bottle on the counter Eliot pulled his phone out and answered with a distracted, “yeah?”
“Spencer,” the familiar voice rang in his ears.
“Michael,” Eliot said, moving away from Nate. “What can I do for ya?”
A pause greeted his word. “It’s Reagan,” Michael replied. “He’s dead.”
“Fuck.” Eliot ran a hand through his hair. “How’d it happen?”
“He had a job down in Philly,” Michael said. “He didn’t make it out.”
“How’s Ellie holdin’up?” Eliot asked, keeping his tone businesslike.
“She’s with her parents right now,” Michael replied. “The funeral is gonna be on Friday.”
“Where and what time?”
Grabbing a piece of paper, he jotted down the information, before responding with a quick ‘good bye’, and hung up. He was quiet for a few minutes, just staring at his phone.
“Anything you want to talk about?” Nate asked, setting down his book.
Eliot sighed. “An old friend, Billy Reagan, just died.”
“The job finally got him.” Eliot stared at his phone for a few seconds. “The last time we spoke he was heading out to help another Order agent hunt down a pack of ghouls harassing the homeless in Philly.”
Eliot ran a hand through his hair. “I just don’t get it. Reagan was supposed to be on desk duty. He hadn’t been cleared for field work yet.”
“Is this something we should look into?” Nate asked.
“Not yet,” Eliot said, plans already forming. He needed more information. Then he’d know what to do. “I need to gather more information first.”
“How long do you need off?” Nate asked, and Eliot felt relief course through his body leaving only grief behind. The last thing he wanted to do right now was be the center of a team meeting.
“About a week,” Eliot said, his thankfulness clear in his voice. “I’ll call if it looks like it’ll be longer.”
“Keep us up to date,” Nate said before going back to his book.
Eliot nodded as he left the apartment. “Will do.”
Reaching his place in record time, Eliot made his way to his bedroom. He already had a bag packed, just in case he ever needed to leave in a hurry. Kneeling down, he reached into the back of his closet. Finding the false wall he shoved it aside and pulled out the case inside. It joined his bag by the bed before Eliot closed up the hidden section.
Turning to his nightstand, Eliot pulled out the top drawer. Removing the envelope underneath, he sorted through the credit cards, choosing an alias he hadn’t used in awhile. The cash went into his bag, beneath his clothes.
Gathering up his things, Eliot turned to leave, phone held to one ear.
“Shelley, you hear about Reagan?” Eliot paused long enough to lock his door and set his security. “Yeah, I’m meeting Michael there. We’ve got a lot to discuss.”
Eliot settled into his seat, coffee in hand. The sun shone brightly, warming the summer day. People were scattered at the different tables, enjoying the beautiful day, glad that the rainy spring was finally ending. He let the chatter drift by as his eyes scanned the area. He had been lucky. When he’d reached the airport he’d been able to get a seat on the next flight out. He’d arrived in DC by early afternoon and been able to get a room fairly easily. Now he was waiting for Michael and Shelley, both who had already been in the city. He spotted two familiar figures a minute later.
“Eliot!” Michael said, weaving through the crowd, holding his own cup of coffee.
Shelley was a few steps behind.
“Michael, Shelley,” Eliot said, rising to greet them. Both looked tired. Michael’s dark hair was messier than Eliot had ever seen it and his clothes looked like he’d picked them up off the bedroom floor. The man had always been very particular about his appearance. “It’s been awhile.”
“It has,” Michael said as everyone took their seats. “I just wish it could have been under better circumstances.”
Eliot nodded. “I hear ya’. Ya’ll gonna be at the funeral?”
“I'm not sure yet,” Shelley said. “Baylor’s running it.”
“Fuck,” Eliot said, running a hand through his hair. Baylor was Reagan’s brother. “How’s he taken this?” The other men were quiet, dark heads bent low. Finally, Shelley looked up, weariness heavy in his eyes.
“Eliot,” Shelley said. He took a deep breath and leaned forward. “Reagan wasn’t killed on the job, he was set up.”
“How’d the ghouls know they were coming?”
“They didn’t,” Michael said. “It was a hard fight. Whoever did this caught him while he was down.”
“He was supposed to be back up,” Eliot snapped. “How the fuck did he end up in the field?”
“His back up got called off on an emergency case,” Shelley said. “There wasn’t time to send anyone else.”
“Like hell there wasn’t,” Eliot said, his voice filled with barely leashed fury. “Those bastards know I’m stationed in Boston. It would have taken me no time at all to reach him.”
“Eliot,” Shelley said. “Michael and I’ve been doing some digging. He wasn’t the first of the Order to fall this way.”
Eliot leaned back in his chair. “How many?”
“Twelve so far,” Shelley replied.
Silence fell to their table, the three men absorbing the gravity of recent events. Eliot thought back to all the fallen friends, and comrades, over the recent years wondering, if perhaps, twelve was too low a number.
“What’s bein’ done about it?” Eliot asked as he took a sip of his coffee.
He needed a plan, a target, so he could take his rage and channel it on those who deserved it. The last thing he wanted was to sit around like Nate with the lights off and a bottle of something alcoholic.
“A notice is being sent out,” Michael said. “We are to keep our guard up and not travel alone.”
Eliot raised an eyebrow. “Right. And just how am I supposed to explain my new shadow to my team? It’s all I could do to keep Nate from digging around in our business when nothing’s going on. He hears about this and there won’t anything left of the Order by the time he’s done."
“Surely one man won’t be that much of a problem,” Michael said, his disbelief clear.
Eliot snorted. “You don’t know Nate Ford. When he found out what we do I spent five hours getting interrogated. He’s probably got detailed files on everyone hidden away somewhere just waiting for an excuse to rain down some hell. Besides, it’s not like I’d stop him either.”
Michael and Shelley shared a look.
“I can go with you,” Shelley said. “We can tell them I’m a friend of yours from the army.”
“That would work,” Eliot said. “Just don’t hang around ‘em too long. None of ‘em knows the meaning of the word privacy.” Leaning forward, Eliot rested his arms on the table and looked each man in the eyes. “Now that that’s settled, tell me, what are we gonna do about these murders?”
The funeral was held outdoors. The graveside service packed with mourners, all huddled together in grief filled clumps. Trees and benches dotted the landscape, placed strategically between gave stones to offer visitors a shaded place to rest. The bright sun and vivid blue skies seemed to mock the somber atmosphere, and Eliot couldn’t help but feel the weather should match the mood. He stood a bit off from the main group, back resting against one of the shade trees and waited for the service to begin.
“Quite the turn out,” Michael said as he came to stand next to Eliot. His dark suit fit the occasion, and he held a small bouquet of bee balms in his hands.
“I don’t think that’ll go with the other arrangements,” Eliot replied, nodding towards the easels holding up large rose filled bundles stationed on either side of the gleaming brown casket.
“Reagan would appreciate the meaning.”
“Reagan would have preferred a beer,” Eliot said drawing a snort from the other man.
The minister cleared his throat then and the crowd gathered around the gravesite. Eliot started forward and took a place at the back of the group. He barely knew Reagan’s wife and most of the people gathered were strangers.
The service lasted for two hours. The minister spoke of God’s love and eternal peace, handing out Bible scripture like it would make the grief lessen. Family spoke through tears and friends shared stories of a man who loved life, and the occasional crude joke. Eliot kept to himself while Michael edged his way towards Ellie, Reagan’s widow. He knelt by her chair and offered the bee balms. She gave a grateful smile, taking the flowers and Michael’s soft words with a few of her own.
When it was all over, everyone gathered at Ellie’s home for the reception. It was a single story family home with enough room for the people who lived there. As it was, people milled about, some outside, some pushed into corners, idle chatter filling the air. Food and drinks were set out on a table in the dining room, more flowers filled up the rest of the available space in the house, and there was hardly any room left to stand.
After giving Ellie his condolences, Eliot soon found himself on the back porch drink in hand. He was alone for the moment, away from the prying questions from sympathetic friends and family, all wanting to know how he knew Reagan. Leaning against the porch railing Eliot dug out his phone, bringing up Nate’s number. It rang three times before he answered.
“Eliot, how is everything going?”
“It’s going,” Eliot said, a hint of the day’s stress creeping into his voice.
“Do you wanna talk about it?” Nate asked. Eliot could hear the low murmur of the TV over the line and nothing else.
“Are the other’s not hanging around today?” Eliot said instead. He didn’t want any eavesdroppers for this conversation.
“It’s all clear,” Nate said. “Now talk to me. Is it anything we need to worry about?”
Eliot let out a deep breath and ran his fingers through his hair. “I don’t know.”
Nate fell silent, then Eliot heard the distinctive sound of something alcoholic being poured into a glass.
“The job didn’t kill Reagan,” Eliot said. “Someone set him up. They took him out while he was down.”
“Are you sure?”
“Nate,” Eliot said. “It wasn’t a pack. They only found one ghoul at the scene. Injured, or not, there’s no way that thing could have taken him out.”
“Eliot, even easy jobs can go south.”
“Then explain why twelve others have fallen in the last six months?” Eliot growled out. “Explain why, when it was clear he was only supposed to be back up, no one called me in to help. It’s a five hour drive down to Philly. I could have been there to help him out.”
“How’d the others die?” Nate asked. A hard note had entered his voice, the one Eliot most often heard associated with rich bastards who hurt kids.
“Reagan and three others supposedly died on the job,” Eliot replied. “The others were suicides, freak accidents, and one suffered from a heart attack.” Eliot paused and took a deep breath, lowering his voice. “Suicides are common. The job ain’t easy. The things we take out are considered myths, and before that most of us did things to deserve our sentence.”
“Unless you inherited the position, or stumbled on it by accident, you gotta be damned first,” Eliot said, cutting Nate off. “A man can’t find redemption without fucking things up a bit first.”
“Is that a direct quote?” Nate asked. “Or are you just making stuff up?”
“More like paraphrasing. Kalen wasn’t known for his brevity.” Eliot laughed. “He also wasn’t known for being sober either.”
“He sounds like a good man,” Nate said. “Who was he?”
Eliot could hear the clinking of ice as Nate took a sip of his drink.
“He trained me for this job. You would have hated him, though,” Eliot said, his voice fond despite his words. “He drank more than you and rambled like Hardison.”
“What happened to him?”
“He passed on a few years ago.”
“Eliot,” Nate paused and took a deep breath. “Watch your back; we’re not there to do it for you.”
“Always,” Eliot replied, and then hung up. His phone went back into his pocket, but he didn’t return to the reception. It was too crowded inside, the air to full of grief.
“I didn’t take you for hiding.” Shelley’s voice followed the opening and closing of the back door. He settled against the railing beside Eliot, shirt sleeves rolled up and suit jacket missing.
“Too much togetherness,” Eliot said with a shrug and a lazy wave of his hand. “We missed you at the funeral.”
“I don’t do funerals.” Shelley shrugged. “Besides, Reagan would’ve hated it.”
“Reagan would have been seein’ double and singing show tunes by now,” Eliot said.
“Remember that time in Monaco?” Shelley nudged Eliot’s shoulder.
“Which one?” Eliot asked, eyebrow raised. “You talkin’ about the time with the poltergeist, the time Neal lost his shoes down the sewer, or the drunk vampire?”
“I vant to suck your blood.” Shelley snickered, voice taking on an accent right out of a B horror movie.
“That was definitely a mercy killing.”
“And when it puked on Reagan’s shoes…”
“Ugh, don’t remind me. The stench clung to him for days.” Eliot could not suppress the shudder the memory caused. Unlike human vomit, the vampire’s had been nothing but blood. It had left behind a rust colored stain and had smelt like decomposing meat. “It did win me that bet with Kalen though.”
“We were good then,” Shelley said, voice turning soft. He played with the cup in his hands for a moment. “Whoever is doing this,” Shelley paused and met Eliot’s steady gaze. “We gotta stop them.”
“We will,” Eliot said. “I’ve already called Neal, and I’ll bring the team in if I have to.”
“You really think your team could help?” Shelley asked.
Eliot favored him with a serious look. “We took down Moreau.”
“Point.” Shelley laid a hand on Eliot’s arm. “What about Michael? Should we bring him in on this?”
Eliot shook his head. “Nah, let’s keep this between us. The less who know, the less we have to worry about.
“And if something happens?”
“Call Nate,” Eliot said. “Either way, one of us calls Nate. He’ll know what to do.”