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Title: hunted
Ficverse: Leverage
Series: five times Eliot caught Parker and one time he didn't
Rating: Gen, PG13
Length: 1650 ish / 6100 ish
Characters: Eliot, Parker
Teaser: The one time Eliot doesn't catch Parker, she is being hunted.
Notes: Yay, done! This scene took forever to take shape – it's the first one I thought of and the reason I wanted to do the series. And yet it would not work for ages. Go figure.
Warnings/Spoiler: set about a year/year-an-a-half after current events on the show (being the S4 hiatus). Uh, and thar be Angst ahead. To balance out the previous sweetness. Sorry?
Disclaimer: Stuff that's not mine is not mine.
Feedback: let's hear it. The good, the bad, the ugly....



before:
Moscow. Ten years ago.
Miami. Four years ago.
Los Angelos. Four years ago.
Boston. Two years ago.
Boston. One month ago.

Cairo. Now.

The one time Eliot doesn't catch Parker, she is being hunted.

The night air is crisp, cool, all but suppressing the scent of dust and sand clinging to the city, a scent he sometimes feels is mostly ghosts and memories and the abiding promise of the desert. He sniffs again, catching the unmistakeable smell of the water of the Nile; from his very first visit, years before, the river has been his fallback to navigate the endlessly sand-colored jumble of buildings and epochs it has tangled up upon its banks.

However, finding a fleeing Parker within the late-night racket of the streets, with their defiant riot of colorful lights, and equally colorful population, will take a whole lot more than that. Which would be why they made it his job.

He slips across the street, ignoring the ugly flares of tightness in his gut, running cold calculations in loops to quash churning-hot hindbrain desperation, raking his eyes continuously through the swirling crowds. He long ago plotted detailed path-projections for each team member in their frequented cities, based on their previous known behavior: their targets, hideouts, contacts. Tracking people or things by the trail of where they had gone was workable enough, in a pinch, but Eliot always prefered figuring out where they were going to be. And intercepting them on his own terms.

Of course, they don't know any of that. They just know he is Eliot Spencer; he is the one man who can get the job done. The men hunting Parker just know that if they managed to capture Eliot, dose him with slow-acting poison they hold the antidote for, along with a locator beacon powerful enough to broadcast from somewhere in his digestive system, and hold the rest of his team hostage, then at all costs, he will catch her. He has to hand it to this enemy of Parker's – and he would really, really like to know who that is, not to mention how the hell he'd pulled this off – the guy certainly has the brutally ruthless methodology of the region's lowlifes down. Although the poison thing is a new twist; Eliot is more familiar with the explosives-with-remote-detonator form of coercion. Given the choice, Eliot probably wouldn't have picked poison, but it does afford greater freedom of operation. Until losing the use of his limbs, anyway, but they said he'd retain that at least until sunrise. Probably.

Further along, the city block opens out to a distant flash of a wide, mercifully non-sand-colored building, the landmark he's been angling toward. The museum is big, domed, unrelentingly red, and by his calculations – and even more, his instincts – the most likely place Parker will retreat to, under pressure.

It takes him less than twenty minutes to circle around, scrutinizing the building's entrances, public, private, and roof-related, for the telltale signs that his cat burgler has passed through. To the best of his knowledge of her tactics and habits, she hasn't. He settles into a casual prowl along what he's judged to be her favorite line of approach, blending easily into the patterns of street traffic. And he waits.

The second hour-mark passes since they released him onto the streets, and it's harder not to second-guess himself. It's been a long time since his mental compartments have taken this kind of strain, and he's rusty in it; it feels like he's being torn in every direction at once. There are too many objectives, too many variables and unknowns for him to be able to formulate any real plan that would keep everything else at bay. And it's taking more effort than ever before to keep irrelevancies to the job on lockdown; things like the image of Sophie still unconscious on the dirty floor of a cell, and the looks in Nate and Hardison's eyes above their gags, and the terror of this faceless foe nipping at Parker's heels, of what would happen to her if he can no longer catch her fall.

Eliot stamps hard on that burgeoning mass of panic, when a movement half-catches in his peripheral vision – screamingly disctinctive to his eyes even among the throng – setting off a flash of internal alarms, a fresh flood of adrenaline. He forcibly stops his head from whipping in that direction, giving away his surveillance; instead, he lets his movement turn him naturally, so that her path will travel into his eyeline.

Nor does he charge over to her, in spite of every muscle in his body straining to do just that. He keeps moving, allows his glance to roam around their position, mapping the places of each of the men that his procedural prowling had revealed were following him; they had him pretty well triangulated. And then there was the fourth man, hanging further back, who Eliot is pretty sure he isn't supposed to have noticed at all: insurance for if he somehow manages to spot and elude the others. Again, he has to hand it to the guy behind this, whoever he is – he knows he is dealing with Eliot Spencer, and he is taking very few chances.

He watches, but it doesn't surprise him that they haven't seen her. Her head covering makes recognition difficult for anyone not versed in every motion and gesture of each of his teammates. All he has to do is keep himself from drawing attention by watching her like a hawk, and pray that he has guessed her route correctly. That she will see, and understand, one of the signs he's left in the few blindspots he was able to find.

She turns into an alleyway and pauses slightly. Hope catches in his throat; her lightning-quick check of the street around her confirms it. He avoids her sight, peeling away on a random circuit of the perimeter he has established, as much misdirection as double-checking his tails. He keeps to his previous pace, resisting every spur of worry that she won't stay with the crude rendezvous mark, that she'll take fright and run, that she won't trust him. He grits his teeth; never in his life has he felt so much like he's driving with the parking brake on, not even when he had. He shoves the urgency down even further, refusing to give those watching the slightest hint that the quarry is near. Even if it means losing her.

He stumbles, easing up some control on the muscular pangs and cramps, letting them dictate his movements more to disguise any oddities in his behavior. He adds some muttering for good measure; drawing a hand over his face in pain and nearly stepping in front of an oncoming car is more than enough reason to slump against the corner of the building at the alley mouth, although he wishes that shaking his head to clear his vision was also staged.

"Eliot –"

"Stay," he snaps in the direction of her voice from the shadows around the corner, shaking out his head again to mask it, as well as the intense wave of relief breaking through him. "Right where you are," he mutters further, taking his time to check the men's positions again.

"What –"

He sags a little more for cover, encouraged that they are far away enough that they can speak somewhat freely. "In a minute."

She obeys, for once, and he wants to hug her for it. He draws a breath against a flush of nausea, then says, "I'm being watched. We don't have much time. Can you tell me who's after you?"

Her voice becomes all business. "I think so. Ndaji. He's –"

Eliot cuts her off, even as part of him starts revising details into the threat matrix. "Got it. Heard of him. I need you to ... to go to Plan Z."

He can feel her shock. "Eliot, Plan Z was just a joke ... wasn't it?"

"It was," he confirms, eyes still roving as though searching the crowds for her, keeping tabs on the men. "Not anymore."

"But –"

"Parker ... please." He is nearly whispering now, an effort to keep the emotion out of his tone.

Her voice shakes. "Eliot, Plan Z means that the others are –"

His voice firms. "I'll take care of them. That's my job. And I'm going to do it, Parker, I promise. I promise. But I can't do it unless I know you're safe."

It feels like forever, suspended between objectives, before she says, "Okay."

The moment she does, his plan of attack coalesces, unfurling before him with crystal clarity. Just as soon as he can get her gone. He does not waste time. "Go. Now. I'll keep an eye on my tail, but there might be more guys in the area. If the others don't meet up with you by noon, you leave, you understand?"

"Yes."

"Do you promise?" he asks, and he's burning focus to keep his whole world from collapsing down to this one answer.

Excruciatingly, she pauses. "You're going to be with them." It's trying not to be a question, a plea. "Eliot? You're going to be with them. Aren't you?"

He doesn't have to feign the crumple of his shoulders. Why did this have to matter? He scrubs his face, then returns to his vigil of the street. "I'm ... gonna try. Parker. Promise me."

He can hear her deep, painful breath. "I promise."

Eliot shatters for an instant, then pulls everything back together, building all he has left upon the scaffolding of the job ahead of him. "Thank you," he whispers, though he doesn't mean to. It's a silly thing to worry about now, but he hopes she didn't hear him. "Go," he says more firmly.

His hyper-alert ears hear the hesitation, and the moment she turns and heads away. He waits several more minutes, until he's sure the men detected neither her presence nor her departure, and he allows himself one small smile.

If it's the last thing he ever does, this job is getting done.

Comments

( 9 speakses — have a speak )
workerbee73
Nov. 28th, 2011 11:25 pm (UTC)
I just have to say that although I have never watched Leverage, this makes me want to. And your style is so elegant and easily accessible; I could read it all day long. You do an amazing job of weaving action, narrative and emotional content together.

((please please please let's consider collaborating on some bsg stuff. **squeaks just a little**))

I've got to post the last chapter of spypilots tonight, but just know that I'm coming back to these snippets to take the time with them that they deserve (and maybe even watch a little bit of the show to see who these characters are that you describe so beautifully).
themonkeytwin
Nov. 29th, 2011 06:14 am (UTC)
please please please let's consider collaborating on some bsg stuff. **squeaks just a little**

YES THIS PLS. *squeaks a little too*

Thank you for such lovely compliments! And I'm glad you are interested in Leverage now, it's such a fun show. One of the reasons I love to write fic for it is because it's so skillfully balanced; it's got a pretty great mix of the elements that make story FUN. In fact, that's one of the guiding stars of the writers' room: "Don't stop the fun train." But not at the expense of it becoming meaningless braincandy. Plus it's pulpy, and gleefully plays the advantages of that to the hilt. AND the characters very much tend to appeal to anyone with a competency!kink. IT IS COMPETENCY ALL OVER THE PLACE.

And the reason for all this, I firmly believe, is because the showrunners have a VERY strong grasp on story mechanics. They are in control; they are not about to get bitch-slapped by their own arcs and mythology and ponderous philosophies. Not to mention understand that the stories may be theirs, but they're for us. One of the creators, John Rogers, has a blog, where he has been opening question posts for each episode (and doing what he can to do answer posts in response, although after around mid-season 3 he's been falling behind, not that I blame him). He's very generous and is as much a fangeek as any of us, so he gets it. (RDM! *shakes fist*)

(Plus? Mark Sheppard guest star. As maybe my favourite character of his, period.)

I've got to post the last chapter of spypilots tonight

I saw! I started to read 6/part2, but then realised I didn't have the time to really enjoy it. I'm saving it all up for tomorrow. *is excited*
workerbee73
Nov. 29th, 2011 05:18 pm (UTC)
Respect for the story?

Respect for the viewer?

Fannishhness?

FUN????

MARK EFFING SHEPPARD??????

I'm sold. I also mentioned your comments to Mr. Bee (who is much more well-versed than I am in just about everything of consequence), and he completely agrees with your assessment. So Leverage, here I come!! :D

OMG, bsg collaborations. Oh my brain. It may have exploded just a tiny bit.

.... and spypilots. :O
You have no idea how excited I am to see what your brain makes of the final three installments. I'm pretty sure I saved the best for last with this story.

**tries really hard not to sqeuak, as such behavior is completely undignified**

**fails entirely**
themonkeytwin
Nov. 30th, 2011 04:59 am (UTC)
IT TICKS ALL THE TICKY BOXES.

So Leverage, here I come!!

YAYAYAY! The fannish madness begins! I'm sure you (and Mr. Bee, should he have to good sense to join in) will enjoy it mightily.
workerbee73
Nov. 30th, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
I shall definitely be back to discuss once I've had a chance to watch. :D
downbythebay_4
Nov. 29th, 2011 05:25 am (UTC)
Gorgeous. I love it. Well worth the wait. Parker has some twisted enemies, but not after Eliot gets a hold of them. Plan Z sounds funny, but also very scary.
themonkeytwin
Nov. 29th, 2011 06:26 am (UTC)
Thank you, and thanks for reading! She does – but yes, I believe Eliot is equal to it. Plan Z ... I don't even want to know! :)
hanahanachan
Apr. 9th, 2012 03:58 am (UTC)
aww its so angsty but sweet how far Eliot goes to protect Parker!! I really liked this series!
themonkeytwin
Apr. 9th, 2012 07:18 am (UTC)
Thanks! Once I noticed that particular interaction on the show, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Eliot and Parker are always a fun dynamic to write. :)
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