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... and they all lived happily ever after.

Title: The Ambush Negotiation
Ficverse: Leverage & The Princess Bride
Series: The Princess Bride Job, 8/18
Rating: Gen / PG-13
Length: 1600 ish / 29,500 ish
Characters: Team Leverage, Westley, Buttercup, Humperdinck, Rugen
Summary: Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Revenge. Giants. Monsters. Chases. Escapes. True love. Miracles. And hitter, hacker, grifter, thief, mastermind.
Notes: Safely out of the Fire Swamp, and everyone's reunited. For a given value of "everyone".
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: Most of The Princess Bride, eventually.
Concrit: go for it

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

Chapter Eight
Nate inspected the large, lavish suite overlooking Florin City’s main plaza. Sophie had done well.

The Revenge had turned out to be extremely useful – or at least its loot was. Sophie had been able to source nearly everything she needed for her countess, posing as one of the small influx of spare-change nobility arriving for the royal wedding, two weeks hence. Westley had also come through with a reasonable slush fund, at least until Hardison could rustle up some currency. Nate had promised Westley, over his protests, to pay him back.

“No chance you’ll be recognized?” Nate asked Sophie, as Hardison fussed over his setup.

She shrugged lazily, inspecting her outfit carefully in the wardrobe mirror. “Among this lot? Doubt it.”

“Yeah, well, even so.... Hardison, I want everything you can get on the guest list. This job’s already had too many surprises.”

The hacker nodded. “I don’t get it, though. We got the princess. Why are we still worrying about Humperdinck?”

“Because. If his goal was to go to war with Guilder over her death, then her disappearance is almost as good an excuse. So, we have to find a way to neutralize him. In this economic climate, it’ll ruin both countries. I mean, that’s our best-case scenario here.”

Hardison almost hated to ask. “And the worst-case?”

“Worst-case scenario is that the rest of the EU gets dragged into it, becomes more destabilized financially ... and from there, who knows?”

“Yeah,” Hardison said thoughtfully. “Let’s not do that.”

“~Nate, I think we’re out,~” said Eliot, matter-of-factly.

Hardison checked his screen and agreed. “Looks like it from here.”

“Good.” Nate’s tone was equally matter-of-fact, not betraying the relief on his face. “Head for the channel. Westley will find you.”

“Westley, you’re around twenty minutes from their position,” said Hardison.

The pirate in the skiff sounded almost as cool and collected as Nate or Eliot, but there was a suggestion of a goofy grin in his voice. “~Good.~”

Then Eliot spoke again. “~Wha– Oh, I don’t believe this.~”

His sour exasperation alarmed everyone. “What?” Nate asked him, but Parker answered.

“~It’s Humperdinck.~”


Eliot took in the situation at a glance, and the situation was: not good. What had been the brilliant idea of salvaging some line from Parker’s rig, buried in the lightning sand, to tie them all together like mountain climbers now meant that he was tethered to the princess and couldn’t attack anyone.

At least Parker had already untied herself before this, and had backed out of the kill zone of the ambush. He and Buttercup, on the other hand, were right in the middle of it.

“Surren–” Prince Humperdinck began peremptorily, interrupted immediately by Count Rugen.

“Aim at the boy!” he shouted, causing a blink of confusion for Eliot, until he remembered that Parker had put on his own mask, after losing hers in the lightning sand. With her loose shirt and men’s clothing, it was easy to mistake her for a youth. Unfortunately, the men with the crossbows had not shared his confusion.

“Stay where you are,” Rugen ordered Parker, who now had all five arrows aimed at her. “If this man even thinks of moving, or on my order, shoot,” the count finished.

Eliot stood very, very still.

“~Eliot, what’s going on?~”

Sometimes Nate’s twitchiness really got on his nerves. He didn’t answer. Nate could hear everything that was going down anyway.

Rugen nudged his horse a little closer, attention fixed on Eliot. “I apologize, Highness,” he said, “but I know this man. The worst place to aim is – at him.”

Nate and Hardison had started to argue about how the hacker couldn’t see through a forest to warn them of the ambush, and why he hadn’t tracked Humperdinck’s movements after the ravine. Rugen’s statement, however, cut through all that.

“~How far am I?~” Westley asked urgently.

“~Too far,~” said Hardison. “~Fifteen minutes at least.~”

“~Damn it!~”

“~Can you stall for time?~” Nate asked Eliot.

“How?” Eliot answered under his breath.

“~Just stall! And don’t let them shoot Parker.~”

Easy for him to say.

“Untie the princess,” Humperdinck said to Eliot, inspecting him with a kind of aloof curiosity.

With emphasized slowness, not wanting to give anyone’s trigger finger an excuse to fire, but also knowing there was nothing that would take long enough for Westley to reach them, Eliot turned toward Buttercup. He gritted his teeth. He did not want to face her and acknowledge his failure. Nor could he afford to give any hint to the men watching that he was anything more than her abductor. If the prince or the count suspected Buttercup was no longer an aimless pawn in their hands, it could get very ugly for her.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered when he was close enough, taking his sweet time with the knots.

“~No!~” Westley shouted.

She didn’t answer. Her face was a perfect mask, watching him, impossible to read.

“Pretend nothing’s changed,” Eliot continued. “It could be dangerous for you.”

Whether this made any sense to her seemed almost irrelevant.

Finally, very low, she asked, “He will come for me?”

He met her eyes, and saw the turmoil below her consummate control. He made the promise without a second thought. “We all will. Trust me.”

She nodded imperceptibly, walked to Humperdinck on his horse, and let him help her up. When they wheeled and galloped off toward Florin City, she never looked back once.

Eliot watched them go, then looked at Rugen, who smiled.

“Eliot Spencer,” said the count, drawling with a pleasure that did not bode well. Eliot set his jaw and said nothing. “If ever a man was to survive the Fire Swamp.... Well. You don’t know ... how happy this makes me.”

“The boy goes free,” said Eliot. “Right now.”

“Of course,” Rugen said. “Just as soon as you allow one of my men to bind your hands behind you.”

“~Eliot,~” Parker said, quiet enough to be heard only on coms, but with an insistency that made him turn his head to look at her. “~He’s got six fingers.~”

He frowned at her in question, which Nate then voiced. “~What?~”

“~The guy. The count guy. His right hand has six fingers.~”

“~The man the swordsman was talking about, who killed his father,~” Westley filled in for her, his fury at the thwarted reunion evident only by the sheer force of control in his voice.

Now that she mentioned it, Eliot did recall something about that, although mostly what he remembered was dangling hundreds of feet over nothing but air, being painfully pulled to the top in a harness that was too small for him. Pity, since he could have told the guy – Inigo, was it? – who to look for. Which, depending on how ballistic Inigo was about killing Rugen, might even have saved them this whole mess.

He sighed. Somehow, things just never went that smooth for them.

“~Uh. Well ... spotted, Parker,~” said Nate. “~Eliot, I take it this is going to be ... bad.~”

“Mm-hm,” Eliot murmured affirmatively, covering it with a grunt when one of the guards wrenched his hands behind him. However backward the country of Florin was, they’d mastered the technology of knots pretty well.

Once he was secured, he jerked his head in Parker’s direction. “Let him go.”

Rugen hesitated for a moment, raking his eyes over Parker in a way that set Eliot’s teeth on edge. Then he waved dismissively. “Of course. I am a man of my word.”


Parker turned and ran, not stopping until she was safe inside the Fire Swamp. She hated that she was shaking, and she was going to stop it real soon, but ... that was a bad man. Bad through and through, wearing his wrongness with a smile.

She could still hear his lying voice over coms, acting like he was Eliot’s friend. The sound of it was shuddering up and down her spine. She had to fight not to wrench her earbud out.

“~I can’t imagine how you got caught up in our little matter here ... but I am so glad you found your way back to Florin at last.~”

Eliot, naturally, was staying silent. Talking never got you anywhere with this kind of man.

She climbed instinctively, getting high up enough in time to see Rugen bring the butt of his sword down on Eliot’s skull.

She was still shaking, but it had become anger, and that was fine with her. She would happily claw Rugen’s face off right now if she could, and if she ever saw Inigo again, she would break him into Rugen’s house, anytime of day or night, to do whatever he liked.

“Rugen knocked him out cold. You got him, Hardison?” she asked, as the guards manhandled Eliot onto Rugen’s horse.

“~Tracking his cell as we speak,~” Hardison said.

Rugen trotted off. He was surrounded by Humperdinck’s guards, or she would have been tempted to just try jumping him with the knife. “Nate – we have to get him back. Rugen wants to hurt him.”

“~I know, Parker. We will.~”

Parker didn’t think Nate really understood. She had to make him see. “No, I mean, really wants to hurt him.... Really, really hurt him.”

There was a silence, and then Nate said soberly, “~Okay, Parker. We’re not going to let anything happen to him. To either of them. We’re going to get them both back, I promise.~”

Chapter Nine


( 2 speakses — have a speak )
Apr. 4th, 2010 11:27 am (UTC)
Oh, wow - tension and angst galore! I like Parker's reading of Rugen, and Buttercup's acting ability, and Eliot's stoicism. Putting the Florin-Guilder situation in the context of destabilising the EU is awesome, and gives us an idea of the stakes involved.

Coincidentally, my friends and I watched The Princess Bride on Saturday night! I was telling the fannish ones among them about your awesome fic, so you may get some new readers soon :)
Apr. 4th, 2010 04:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks! And for the rec.

I suddenly realised at the beginning of this chapter that if all the team was trying to do was rescue Buttercup, they'd basically succeeded. Thankfully, Nate never lets this kind of thing go, so the reason they were still setting up to infiltrate Florin Castle became clear. Bless that man's obsessiveness :)
( 2 speakses — have a speak )

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