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Back on track – sort of. The beats that happen at the top of the ravine between Westley and Buttercup need to find a way in, which is working out to be in the Fire Swamp. How romantic....

The more I try to hear and write Buttercup's voice, the more I actually like her (rather than just tolerate her). Go figure.

Title: The Bearings Breakdown
Ficverse: Leverage & The Princess Bride
Series: The Princess Bride Job, 6/18
Rating: Gen / PG-13
Length: 1600 ish / 29,500 ish
Characters: Team Leverage, Westley, Buttercup
Summary: Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Revenge. Giants. Monsters. Chases. Escapes. True love. Miracles. And hitter, hacker, grifter, thief, mastermind.
Notes: The Fire Swamp is turning out to be a gloomy place to write.
Disclaimers: Yeah. None of it's mine, apart from the idea to mix'n'match, and in abstract that's not mine either. I am now directly lifting some lines from the PB screenplay, as if anybody can't tell.
Spoilers: The tiniest hint of Eliot's past relationships, as played out in The Two-Horse Job and season one of Leverage. And, of course, still a whole lot for The Princess Bride.
Concrit: go for it


Previously, on "The Princess Bride Job":
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five


Chapter Six
Parker perched on a huge tree root, peering curiously at the ominous tangle of trunks and vines blocking out the sun, and feeling for bruises. The light rig, currently sitting propped behind her, had caught her shoulder hard when she fell down the ravine. Eliot had checked her over carefully and while a lot of her was sore, nothing was broken; the rig, on the other hand, was looking pretty bent and sorry.

Technically she was watching over the princess while Eliot scouted ahead, but Buttercup was still passed out, lying on the adjacent root where he’d left her, so she wasn’t going anywhere. Unfortunately, neither was Parker, as per Eliot’s orders.

She inched away from a nearby vine. They draped limply, where she and Eliot had chopped them apart, but even so they were creepy. She was keeping the knife they’d taken from Vizzini unsheathed; the vines had made weird groaning noises when cut, and fallen with a little more wriggle than they should have. It had dampened her interest in climbing, even though the trees and branches were so broad you could practically live in them, and just sitting around wasn’t all that fun.

Although she could clearly hear Eliot talking with Hardison over coms, the occasional echo of real sound that filtered back from wherever he was, further in, was oddly reassuring.

Hardison’s research didn’t seem to be going well. “~I’m not finding much. No one seems to know what causes it. Some kind of sulfurous deposit, maybe.~”

“That’s what stinks like farts?” she asked.

Eliot snorted a laugh that became a muffled yelp at a popping, whooshing noise. He offered his opinion. “~Whatever it is, it’s a pain in the ass.~”

“~The good news is, it’s not really that far to the other side. Like four or five miles, and it’s contained by the ravine as it widens out. Don’t climb any slopes, and you can’t get too lost. You’ll come out near the channel, down from Florin City.~”

“~Yeah, piece of cake.~”

The hitter’s tone was more sardonic than snarky, and Hardison only laughed in commiseration. “~I’ve got your cell position, so if you get off course, I’ll let you know. Maybe we can find a way to pick you up on the other side, I’ll ask Nate.~”

Next to Parker, Buttercup moaned, then flailed awake.

Parker waited for her eyes to focus, then said, “We’re in the Fire Swamp, okay? Don’t freak out or faint again, got it?”

Buttercup looked from Parker, to her knife, to their dank and smelly surroundings, and nodded carefully.

“~She awake?~”

“Yeah.”

“~Okay. I’m coming back. Stay there.~”

The moment Eliot came in view, Buttercup straightened, watching with nervous defiance as he came up to her.

He sheathed his sword and crouched in front of her, openly studying her exquisite face. Then he removed his mask, and gave her a tempered smile. “Okay, princess, we’re going to try this again. Okay?”

She nodded more in concession than agreement.

Eliot checked his irritation. “If we wanted you dead, there are easier ways than this, you know.”

“I do,” Buttercup said, and it occurred to Parker that the princess had just spent the last night and day being dragged around by guys intending to kill her. What was it with people not being able to tell the difference?

“I’m not a pirate, and my name is not Roberts,” Eliot continued. “We’re here to keep you alive, and safe.”

“Are you trying to tell me you’re the good guys?” she asked dubiously.

Eliot let his amusement show. “Well, that’s something up for debate. But good guys or not, we’re the only thing that’s going to get you through this swamp. Can you trust us that much?”

She looked at them, plainly exhibiting the fright and exhaustion of the last twenty-four hours. She was completely at their mercy and they all knew it.

She nodded again in resignation. “I’m sorry for pushing you,” she offered to Parker honestly. “And for making us come this way,” she added, to Eliot.

Parker was surprised. “Aw, that’s okay.” It wasn’t often people apologized for trying to kill her. “You didn’t know any better,” she said comfortingly.

“And we weren’t in the strongest position, up there,” Eliot said, in turn. “You may have even done us a favor.”

She stared this fresh evidence of madness. “We’re in the Fire Swamp,” she said slowly, clearly wondering if this had somehow escaped his notice.

Eliot shrugged. “True.”

She kept staring. “Who are you people?”

He smiled, genuinely this time. “We’re friends.”

Parker nodded. “The kind of friends you want to have when you’re stuck in a Fire Swamp.”

                                                                      

With what was becoming a familiar popping noise, fire belched out of the ground, adding its heat to the clammy air of the swamp. A less-familiar shriek quickly followed, pulling Eliot back in a rush to find Buttercup’s skirt alight. Parker had pushed her to the ground, and was dumping scoops of dirt on it. He grabbed the fabric and finished smothering the flame.

“I’m sorry,” sobbed Buttercup. “I tried to get out of the way – but –”

“Were you burned?”

She shook her head, and Eliot helped her up onto the low branch she’d been trying to get to, to avoid the fire spurt.

“Rest a bit,” he said, as gently as he could, surreptitiously checking for any vines hanging too close.

It didn’t take an expert, although he was one, to see that the princess was reaching the end of her emotional, mental, and physical resources. She was shuddering, but silently, and with a pang he realized she was spending energy she didn’t have to waste trying to conceal her vulnerability from them.

This was going to be problematic. He was sorry for her misery, but more important right now was that she was not going to make it much further in this kind of state. He couldn’t haul her the whole way. This called for some delicate handling.

He shifted next to her and put an arm around her shoulders, rubbing soothingly as he would a child. “It’s not your fault. If I had to wear those skirts, I’d have been on fire five times by now.”

She gave a little hiccup of laughter, which he’d been aiming for, and then burst into tears and collapsed against him, which he hadn’t. On the other hand, the outburst was definitely overdue, so may as well get it done now.

Parker came over and patted her encouragingly. “You’re doing really well,” she said, with chirpy insincerity. Luckily, Buttercup was too overwrought to notice.

Eliot kept a firm arm around her, waiting for her to cry herself out.

“~Eliot?~” It seemed Nate had decided to rejoin the party. Their leader did have a knack for timing.

“Mm?” Eliot answered as quietly as he could.

“~We need to ask the princess some things.~” There was a pause, then, “~Is that crying?~”

“~Is she alright?~” Westley asked, with what seemed like more concern than he’d intended to feel.

“Gim’minute,” Eliot muttered, unwilling to truncate Buttercup’s teary catharsis only to have it spill over again at a less convenient time.

Nate didn’t question this, which was one of the good things about working with him. “~Can you listen while we read you in?~”

Eliot gave another non-verbal assent.

“~Okay. Basically, the story here is that, uh, five years ago, Westley and Buttercup were involved.~”

Eliot was suddenly acutely aware of Buttercup’s hands tangled in his shirt, mostly using it as a kleenex. He gave Parker a look which he hoped she’d take to mean, “Don’t say a word,” and not, “Tell Westley his ex is draped all over me.”

She gave him a mystified expression in return, which meant it could break either way.

“~Westley left to get some money together, but something happened and she got news he was probably dead. Circumstances meant he couldn’t really contact her for a few years, so she doesn’t know. What we do next kind of depends on if she still loves him, or if she’s moved on, now that she’s engaged to Humperdinck. We just ... need to know.~”

Well, that sure as hell sounded familiar. Eliot’s eyes narrowed thoughtfully.

“~And, of course, depending on if Humperdinck was the one who arranged to have her killed,~” Nate added, as an afterthought.

Eliot indicated understanding. In a few minutes, when Buttercup’s sobbing began to subside, he squeezed her shoulder and pulled back from her a little.

He looked around; time to regroup, and here was as good a place as any. First things first.

“Parker, are you okay to look around for some water? If it’s rained recently, there might be some in the hollows of rocks or tree forks, or something. Make sure it’s fresh, and, here –” he gave her the bottle they’d taken from Vizzini’s picnic, “use this. Get a good drink yourself if you can.”

She nodded, shrugged off her rig, and took the bottle from him.

“Just search nearby. If you can’t find any, we’ll keep moving together. Don’t go out of my sight, got it? And keep the knife ready. If something moves, stab it.”

“Yeah, got it. Not an idiot,” she said pointedly, seeing as how he seemed to need a reminder that the useless chick was the one crying all over him.

“Just – be careful,” Eliot said, not rising to the bait.

“~Seconded,~” said Hardison, echoed by Nate and Sophie.

Which got Parker out of the way. He turned to the princess, whose sniffling was mostly under control by now, and smiled, trying to figure out how to ask the question, “Which do you want more, the new rich fiancé, or the old back-from-the-dead criminal boyfriend?”


Chapter Seven

Comments

( 2 speakses — have a speak )
deepbluemermaid
Mar. 31st, 2010 11:08 am (UTC)
Aww. I like Buttercup's confusion and attempts to understand what the hell is going on. Parker continues to be awesome (It wasn’t often people apologized for trying to kill her). And poor Eliot, realising the similarities between Westley's situation (well, minus the piracy) and his own life. The last line is just briliant!
themonkeytwin
Mar. 31st, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)

Yeah, the similarities between Eliot and Westley have surprised me a bit. The way Eliot was likely to relate to Westley's story just sort of dawned while writing. I didn't expect this kind of complexity from the story when I started, but yays for hidden synchronicity!
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