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
Eliot woke the next morning to a stiff body and pounding on his door. Not surprisingly Neal wasn’t there. He’d stayed long enough to make sure Eliot would be okay before leaving. He had left an origami wolf on the nightstand. It was made out of gray paper and was positioned to look like it was howling at the moon. Next to it had been two pain pills and some water. Eliot downed those before he’d crawled out of bed and headed to the door.
Seeing Hardison’s grinning face made him want to punch something. Instead he cursed in several languages, and turned leaving the door open so Hardison could enter.
“Hey, E,” Hardison said as he shoved passed Eliot. He held up two bags, his smile getting bigger. “Look what I brought.”
The first bag held several wires, some game controllers, and a few games and DVD’s. The other had a game console and a DVD player shoved in it. Eliot rolled his eyes. He just knew he wouldn’t be getting any peace today, and led Hardison into the living room. Looking around a scowl settled on Hardison’s face.
“Where’s Caffrey? I thought he was supposed to be looking after you.”
“He left earlier,” Eliot said sinking down onto the couch. “Now what are you doing here?”
“I decided to keep you company since you have to take it easy today.”
“I’ve got work to do, Hardison,” Eliot said. “Now get out.”
“Nu, uh,” Hardison said. “The police are still crawling all over that store you got shot up, and Burke advised us to lay low for a while. Besides, Nate doesn’t want you going anywhere until we come up with a game plan.”
Eliot felt his shoulders tighten and his wings twitch. The movement caused pain to race through his shoulder and sides and he winced.
“This is my job,” he growled out. “I call the shots, not Nate.”
Hardison ignored Eliot and got to work setting up the DVD player and game system. The stack of DVD’s and games went next to the television stand as Hardison hooked up wires to the proper plugs.
“You know,” he said as he sat back and tested his handy work. The screen on the television changed to the symbol of the DVD company, and he grinned. “That Burke guy isn’t half bad.” He pushed another few buttons and the logo for the gaming system lit up the screen. “It’s too bad he’s all truth and justice. He’d make a hell of a mastermind.”
Eliot leaned forward and buried his face into his hands. “I didn’t want ya’ll involved in this.”
Hardison set down the controller and turned to face Eliot. “We’re a team, we’re always involved.”
Eliot shook his head. “Not in this,” he said. “And definitely not in Order business.”
“Why?” Hardison asked. “Because it’s too dangerous? Please. We followed you all over DC, remember?”
“Because this isn’t your fight!” Eliot shouted. He stood and started pacing, running his hands through his hair. His shoulder screamed with the movement, and his breath hitched at the pain in his side. Eliot grimaced. “You don’t have a sentence hanging over your head like I do.”
Hardison stood, and placed his hands on Eliot’s shoulders, mindful of his injuries.
“Eliot,” he said. “You are the best fighter I have ever seen, and you are a better man than you give yourself credit for.” He gave Eliot’s uninjured shoulder a squeeze. “You protect us on every job we go on, and you protect the world even though it doesn’t know it needs protecting. You’ve been fighting this battle on your own for too long. Let us help. That’s what we’re here for. We family, man.”
Eliot lowered his head and squeezed his eyes shut. For years he’d felt like this fight, this curse was his to carry. He had enough blood on his hands to warrant an eternity in hell. When he’d been given this chance, he’d taken it with the knowledge that he’d have to walk this path alone.
Looking up, Eliot searched Hardison’s eyes. He saw nothing but love and worry in the hacker’s dark gaze. Sometimes he surprised Eliot. It wasn’t often he showed there was a mature human being underneath all that geeky armor.
Eliot released a deep breath and settled back on the couch. The tension bled from his body and he sunk into the soft cushions, just letting go of the worry for a little while.
“Fine,” Eliot said, pointing a finger at him. “But if you get yourself killed, I’m tracking you down in the afterlife and kicking your ass.”
Hardison laughed as he joined him and handed him one of the game controllers.
“Very funny,” Hardison said as he started up the game.
Eliot stayed silent, just raised an eyebrow and kept his gaze focused on the other man.
“Really?” Hardison asked, brow furrowed. “You can do that? Seriously?”
“I know people,” Eliot said. He could tell the moment Hardison remembered just who and what Eliot was doing this job for.
“Right,” he said turning back to the game.
“Glad we understand each other,” Eliot said as the game’s music began to fill the room.
They spent the morning playing games, Hardison winning most by virtue of having played them all. At around noon Neal slipped in, taking a seat at the table and placing a couple of brown paper bags on the surface. He ignored Hardison’s disgruntled look. He had a smirk gracing his face and Eliot could feel the headache forming already.
“I like your team,” Neal said, taking a sip of his drink. “Mozzie is jealous.”
Eliot snorted and put the controller away. “Has he asked for autographs yet?”
Neal laughed. “I don’t think he’s forgiven me enough yet.”
Neal shrugged. “Secret government agencies give him hives.”
“Are ya’ll done yet?” Hardison asked.
“Yeah, there’s a problem,” Hardison said. “Today is not for work. Today is for letting your injured ass recover.”
Eliot rolled his eyes and grabbed one of the bags. Inside were several cartons of food, all smelling suspiciously familiar. The last time he’d been faced with such an offering had been after he’d baled Neal out of a con involving Matthew Keller and a dead body.
It had been messy, and the human authorities had been crawling all over the case. He’d ended up burning several favors to help Neal get out of the country they’d been in. The meal had shown up on his kitchen table with an origami bouquet. One paper flower had been a scarlet geranium, signifying stupidity. Another had been a pink rose for friendship. Eliot gave Neal a look and received a nod in return.
“Is this what I think it is?”
“I put the recipe in the other bag.”
Hardison reached around Eliot and snagged a container and a plastic fork. “Well, if you two are finished swapping recipes, I’m gonna eat.”
Eliot laughed at Neal’s affronted looked. “He lives off frozen food and orange soda.”
“You leave my hot pockets out of this.”
“Anyway,” Neal said as he dug out the rest of the containers. Eliot snagged one with a lemon cod and another with asparagus and began eating. “Once we’re done eating, we’re supposed to go meet with the Order representatives.”
“Can’t,” Hardison said. He pointed his fork at Eliot. “Dude got the crap beat out of him yesterday. Oh and he was shot. He’s supposed to be resting.”
The implied You were supposed to be looking after him. hung in the space between them.
Neal gave him a sympathetic smile. “We don’t have a choice,” he said.
Eliot nodded, looking down at the food in his hand. It tasted like ash in his mouth.
“No,” Hardison said. He put the food down and crossed his arms. “I don’t care what super secret club you belong to, he’s supposed to be resting.”
“They don’t care,” Eliot said. “A job went south, and the police got called in. There will be a lot of questions and they want answers.”
“Fine,” Hardison said, grabbing his jacket. “Then let’s go.”
Eliot and Neal shared a look before he turned back to Hardison.
“You can’t,” Eliot said.
“If they found out he’s told you about them he could get into serious trouble,” Neal added.
“What kind of trouble?”
Eliot shrugged. “They could make sure I receive a harsher sentence.”
“They’d send you to hell?” Hardison eyes widened and his voice went up in pitch.
“They could,” Eliot said. “They probably won’t, considering all the people we’ve lost. But they most likely would have me removed from the team and stationed somewhere else.”
“We’d just find you then,” Hardison said.
“They’d make sure you didn’t remember knowing him,” Neal said, voice soft and eyes filled with firsthand knowledge.
“That’s not right,” Hardison said. “They’re supposed to be the good guys.”
Eliot snorted. “They only care about the greater good.”
“Ordinary people seem to get forgotten,” Neal added. He turned and placed a hand on Eliot’s arm. “Come on, we don’t want to keep them waiting.”
Eliot nodded and turned, he gave one last glance at Hardison, noting the scowl marring his face, before closing the door.
The meeting place was held on the fourteenth floor of a building undergoing renovations. Floor to ceiling windows let in the late afternoon light. Drywall dust covered the floor. Eliot could see his boot prints as he walked. Loose wires hung from the ceiling, and stacks of construction equipment were placed off to one side.
A group of three people waited for them in the center of the room. A tall man and woman, both wearing matching suits watched them with somber expressions. The third made Eliot’s heart sink. A woman with dark hair and a flowery dress sat in the only chair. She held a deck of cards which she shuffled before placing them face down on the table.
“Agent Spencer,” the woman in the suit said. “I am Agent Hawthorn; this is my associate Agent Barrett.” She turned and gave Neal a smile. “Thank you, Agent Caffrey. That will be all.”
Neal nodded, and then gave Eliot’s arm a squeeze. “I’ll be waiting outside.”
Eliot let a small smile show as he watched Neal leave. Then he turned to face the other people in the room. He stood, at ease, despite his aching shoulder. Old habits were hard to break after a lifetime of living them.
Agent Hawthorn folded her arms across her chest and gave Eliot a bland look.
“The ghouls in the Garment District,” she said, getting straight to business. “How did that job go south? It was fairly straightforward for someone of your talents.”
“It should have been,” Eliot said. “But the information was incomplete. The ghouls had set up shop in the store. One of them had stolen the previous owner’s identity.”
“And the gunshots?” Agent Barrett asked.
“One of the ghouls showed up armed,” Eliot said. “Before I had a chance to engage, the ghoul opened fire, hitting me in the shoulder.”
“Why would a ghoul carry a gun?”
“They had a stash of illegal weapons in a storage closet in a backroom.” Eliot kept his gaze focused straight ahead. He’d given reports like this dozens of times, and he saw no reason to do anything different. “It’s believed that the ghouls were selling them on the black market.”
“How was this room missed?” Agent Hawthorn asked. “It is protocol to search the area before engaging the enemy.”
Eliot straightened his shoulders, and took a deep breath. “The ghouls showed up halfway through my search.”
“So they didn’t make it to the room before engaging you?”
Eliot nodded his head. “No, Ma’am.”
“So how did you know about the back room?”
“Agent Shelley told me.”
“And you had no way to counter this?” Agent Barrett asked.
A slight touch skated across his thoughts and Eliot paused. He went to answer and it happened again, stronger this time. He looked towards the woman with the cards. She had a serene smile on her face and her dark eyes were locked onto him.
“Leave us,” she said, her voice soft and lilting. “I wish to speak with Agent Spencer.”
Eliot straightened to attention as the other two agents bowed and left. Soon it was just him and the other woman. She smiled and leaned back in her chair, cards on the table, and hands in her lap.
“Hello, Eliot,” she said. “I take it you know who I am.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Eliot said, fighting to keep his voice polite. “Though what Thanatos’ Oracle wants with me, I don’t know.”
She nodded. “You can call me Esdras.” She stood and came to stand before him. “You are the only one to survive the attacks.”
She placed a hand on his injured shoulder, a look of deep sadness crossing her face. Eliot couldn’t help the flinch, and she removed her hand.
“I had help,” Eliot replied, though he didn’t elaborate. Esdras’ look told him she already knew.
“You’re not like the other agents.”
“I’m just trying to do my job, just like everyone else,” he said. Fear started to grip his heart. She knew about his team.
“No,” Esdras said. “You are different. It’s why he chose you.”
“No offence, Ma’am,” Eliot said. “But Michael and his followers were a bunch of crackpots.”
“I wasn’t talking about the traitor.”
Eliot frowned. “Kalen offered me the same deal all the others got.”
She shook her head, a slight smirk on her face. “Thanatos has always had a soft spot for you.”
“I ain’t some chosen one,” Eliot snapped, grief filling him over the loss of friends, and all for some fancy words on ancient parchment.
“Then why has Khepri contacted you?”
Eliot stiffened, his eyes widening at her words.
“And you thought it was due to a favor being owed.”
“What’s going on?”
“Prophecy,” Esdras said. “Destiny. Both.”
She placed a gentle kiss on his forehead before leaning back and handing him a card from the table.
“This will help shed some light.”
Eliot looked at the card in his hand; it had a depiction of Thanatos painted on the back, wings spread and sword in hand. When he looked up, the room was empty, the table and chairs gone too. Taking a deep breath, he put the card in the inner pocket of his jacket and left. He didn’t want to stay in the building any longer than he had too.
Neal was waiting for him in the lobby, a concerned look on his face. He stayed silent as they walked out into the early evening crowd. Eliot was thankful for his tact. His mind was filled with questions, the card a damning weight on his heart like chains around his neck, or the wings on his back.
They walked a few blocks, making their way to a secluded area of Central Park. Neal stopped at a vendor and bought two coffees before they sat down. Eliot took his with a nod of thanks, the warm liquid providing him with a way to focus his thoughts. He took a deep drink, letting the hot bitter liquid sooth his nerves before setting his cup aside.
He didn’t say anything, just reached into his jacket pocket and handed Neal the card. The sharp intake of breath at his side, told him all he needed to know.
“The mark of Thanatos’ Heir. Well, this certainly changes things,” Neal said as he handed the card back.
“You can’t tell the others,” Eliot said giving Neal a hard look. “Not even Burke and Mozzie.”
“They’ll know about the hearing,” Neal said giving Eliot a hard look of his own.
Eliot stood up and finished off his coffee, throwing the cup into the trash. “I’ll tell them I got lucky.”
Neal stood, throwing his cup away as well. He then put his hands into his pockets and faced Eliot.
“They’ll find out you know.” Neal let his gaze wonder off to focus on the distant buildings. “It’s better if they hear it from you.”
“Speaking from experience, Caffrey?” Eliot snapped. He regretted his words when Neal flinched. He knew all about having ones past and present colliding in a disaster.
“You’re one to talk.” Neal’s words were sharp, biting, revealing wounds that had yet to heal.
“I’ll tell them after this job is taken care of.” Eliot offered him an apologetic look and Neal nodded.
“Fine,” Neal said as he fell into step with Eliot. “But I won’t keep this from them forever.”
“I’m not asking you to.”
Silence fell as they continued back to the hotel. When they reached Eliot’s room, they found the entire group gathered there, an agitated Hardison pacing the floor.
“What’s going on?” Eliot asked as he and Neal entered. All eyes turned towards them and Eliot soon had a face full of angry Parker.
“Where have you been?”
Eliot backed up, shoving her hand away from his chest. “I told Hardison,” he said. “Now what’s going on?”
“You disappeared off the map!” Hardison said. He waved towards the laptop sitting on the coffee table. “I couldn’t even track his anklet.”
“What?” Neal asked, looking from his leg to Peter. “But I didn’t leave my radius.”
“I know,” Peter said. He showed Neal his phone, the red dot indicating Neal’s location. “On all FBI equipment, you showed up in your radius. On his, however, you’d disappeared.”
Eliot and Neal shared a panicked look.
“I didn’t report it,” Peter said.
Neal relaxed and sat down. “We went to a building a few blocks from here.”
“We weren’t gone that long,” Eliot said, a scowl settling over his face. “There was no reason for you to be tracking me.”
Hardison crossed his arms and lifted his chin. “I ain’t letting them whisk you off to some uncharted territory.”
“What did they want?” Nate asked, taking a drink of his whiskey.
Eliot pinched the bridge of his nose. He knew that tone. That tone meant small governments were in danger of being toppled, and crooked CEO’s were to soon be facing jail time and public ruin.
“They wanted to know about the incident from the other day,” Eliot said. “I told Hardison this earlier.”
Nate gave Eliot a look, letting him know he’d already figured most of it out, and he’d be very happy if Eliot just filled in the rest of the blanks. Looking around the room, he noted the concern on Sophie, Parker, and Hardison’s faces, as well as Peter’s own version of Nate’s look, directed at Neal.
An irritated huff beside him was his only warning as Neal drew out the card he’d thought was in his own pocket and placed it on the table.
“Thanatos’ Oracle was there,” Neal said. “She gave him this.”
“Damn it, Caffrey!”
Nate picked it up, and a dark look settled over his face.
“Eliot, start talking.”
“I didn’t know she’d be there.”
“What’s this mean?” Peter asked, his tone of voice eerily similar to Nate’s.
“We’re not sure,” Neal said, holding up a hand to forestall any interruption. “She knows about the job Eliot is here to do, but we don’t think the rest of the Order does.”
“Don’t know why she hasn’t spilled the beans,” Eliot said with a shrug, going along with Neal’s version of events. Neal may not outright lie to Peter, but that didn’t mean he told the whole truth either. “Something like this goes against the treaty they signed millennia ago. The higher ups in the Order made sure we only went after monsters that targeted humans, and left the Gods of Old alone.”
“Nobody wanted an all out war between us,” Neal said. “The Gods of Old couldn’t interfere with humans unless asked, and we didn’t have enough power to challenge them directly.”
“If you were no threat to them, then why’d they call for a treaty?” Peter asked.
Eliot sighed and ran a hand through his hair. There were days when Eliot hated the way Nate’s brain worked, how quickly he picked up the pieces and came away with a complete picture. Now he was faced with another man, just as smart as Nate, and just as deadly, asking questions he wouldn’t let Eliot dance around.
There was no friendship holding them together, no years of trust built up that let Eliot leave out the ugly details. Peter Burke trusted Neal, he did not however, extend that same trust to anyone else in the room. Eliot knew that if he decided they were a threat, he’d do his damndest to take them all down. Eliot could respect that. He’d do the same thing if their roles were reversed. It didn’t mean he had to like it though.
“When the Order started, the Gods of Old got angry. They felt Thanatos was gathering an army to challenge them.”
“The fight left a lot of people dead on both sides,” Neal said.
“How come we’ve never heard of this?” Sophie asked, voice holding a note of panic. “I mean, sure it wouldn’t be told as actual history, but the legends would have said something.”
“You have,” Eliot said. He gave her a soft look. He wished he could spare them this knowledge. “It was talked about in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias.”
“Atlantis? Seriously?” Hardison asked. “Seriously?”
“What is this job you’re doing” Nate asked.
Eliot took a deep breath, knowing his next words would shatter the fragile calm they’d achieved.
“I have to kill a God.”
Glass shattered against the wall as Nate stood. His movements were clipped, and he favored Eliot with a look usually reserved for the people they took down.
Everyone fell silent and Eliot felt his shoulders tense, his wings drawing close to his sides. He and Nate faced each other, a scene remnant of the time he found out about Eliot’s past with Damien Moreau. The tension was just as think, the emotions circling the room nearly tangible.
“I owe Khepri,” Eliot said, voice soft and steady. “And whether you like it or not, that means something in my world.”
Nate didn’t respond, he just stood there, arms crossed, eyes locked onto Eliot. Eliot spared a glance at the others. Peter seemed to be on the same page as Nate while Hardison, Parker, and Sophie were unsure who to stand by.
A hand on his shoulder had him relaxing. Neal stood solid by his side, a challenging look of his own leveled at the people in the room. Seconds later, Hardison and Parker were on side and Sophie was giving Nate a look that meant she was on board as well, and if he knew what was good for him he’d follow along. Nate nodded and Eliot felt the tension leave his body and he exhaled in relief.
Peter sighed and settled back onto the couch, burying his face in his hands. “I never thought I’d miss the days when all I had to do was chase thieves.”
“Hey!” Parker said, scowling at Peter. “Thief here.”
“Not what he meant, Parker,” Eliot said, his relief clear in his words.
“So, what do we have to do?” Peter asked. He then held up a hand before Neal could argue. “I’m not letting you do this by yourself, and no they don’t count.”
Eliot laughed at the other’s affronted looks. He loved his teammates, not that he’d ever tell them that, and the last thing he wanted was his obligations to Khepri tearing his family apart. It eased the burden to know they were stronger than that.
“I need to find out where Neper is,” Eliot said. “Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but I can’t go through my usual channels.”
“How does one find a god?” Sophie asked as she leaned into Nate.
“Road blocks and wanted posters?” Neal’s voice carried heavy sarcasm, and Eliot shoved him.
“Not helping, Caffrey.”
“Actually, he is,” Peter said. Seeing their skeptical looks, he held up his hands. “Just listen.” He looked to Nate. “How’d you go about tracking these guys when you worked for IYS?”
“You want to conduct a manhunt,” Nate said, voice carrying a thoughtful tone.
“Something like that, yeah.”
“That won’t work,” Hardison said, then paused a frown marring his face. “Will it?”
Neal grinned. “You know we could…”
“No,” Peter said, his voice gruff, but a hint of a smile could be seen.
“But there’s seven of us.” Neal gave his most imploring look.
“I said no,” Peter said. “Besides, I don’t think we’ll need to go quite that far.”
“He’s right,” Nate said. “Though I’ll keep that in mind, just in case.”
Neal sat back on the couch, satisfied.
“This is still my job,” Eliot broke in, beginning to feel overwhelmed, the emotional upheaval of the last few minutes crashing down on him.
“Oh course,” Sophie said, patting him on the arm, before going back to arguing with Nate and Peter. Parker had a speculative gleam in her eyes, and Hardison was busy tapping away on his computer.
Eliot shook his head and sank down next to Neal. He knew them meeting was a bad idea.