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small detour off-script

Title: The Lady Lure
Ficverse: Leverage & The Princess Bride
Series: The Princess Bride Job, 10/18
Rating: Gen / PG-13
Length: 1700 ish / 29,500 ish
Characters: Team Leverage, Westley, Buttercup, Humperdinck
Summary: Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Revenge. Giants. Monsters. Chases. Escapes. True love. Miracles. And hitter, hacker, grifter, thief, mastermind.
Notes: Sophie gets to play. And another conversation, before we can get on with the action....
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
Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten
Sophie let a sweet, yet enigmatic smile seep into her lips and made her approach, rolling the taste of the accent in her mouth. She gave Humperdinck an elegant curtsy, and her hand. “Your Highness, may I introduce myself? Lady Helene, of Macedonia.”

The prince, who had been looking arrogant and bored, seemed startled by the hand in his. He met her eyes and returned her smile, already intrigued, then raised her hand to his lips. He didn’t relinquish it when she continued speaking.

“Your mother and mine were old friends; I heard many stories of their time together at –”

“~She went to the ‘Institut Villa Mont –’ ~” Hardison began.

“– Mont Choisi, of course,” Sophie said smoothly. “Such a shame when it closed. No finishing school like it, any more.” She glanced at Buttercup and let her smile slide toward gentle, condescending fondness. “Such a shame. But I have distracted myself!”

She turned laughing eyes back to Humperdinck, and felt his hand tighten around hers involuntarily. “Because of the affection of our mothers, I felt I could take the liberty of offering myself as a help to your lovely betrothed, to prepare for her wedding day, and her duties as your wife and eventual queen.”

“Oh,” said Humperdinck, startled. “Well –”

“I need no help,” said Buttercup firmly. Until now, she had been observing Sophie, her fiancé, and the room with equal parts disinterest and inner potency, as though her life existed powerfully but wholly absent from her current circumstances.

Sophie made sure she had Buttercup’s eye before responding. “Of course, Highness.... As you wish,” she said, and gave the princess a moment for the words to register. When they did, she added, “I only hoped to alleviate some anxieties, smooth the way. This time can be difficult for any young bride, let alone one marrying the crown prince of an influential country.”

Buttercup was suddenly vitally present, and Sophie discovered, to her surprise, that the impact of the girl’s beauty surprised even her.

“Oh ... yes. Perhaps you are right,” Buttercup said, her cool composure barely containing the new glow from within.

Sophie flicked a glance at Humperdinck, who, watching her over their clasped hands, had barely noticed the change in his bride-to-be. Her look both begged permission and demanded it of him, and she added a leavening of intimacy to her smile. “Then it is settled....?”

“Of course. Anything my darling desires,” he said, the words almost automatic; the cocking of his eyebrow toward her decidedly not.

Sophie held it for a long beat, letting the rapport grow, before she let a tiny widening of her eyes and falter in her smile conclude it with the impression that she had found something she did not expect in their connection. Hastily, as though suddenly remembering he held it, she withdrew her hand, allowing her thumb the slightest unintentional caress as she did so.

A touch of breathlessness completed the effect. “Then ... we shall retire, if Your Highness permits. We have little time, and it is best to begin as soon as we may.” She turned to Buttercup, who was only too eager to leave the room with her, and waited until they’d actually exited before permitting herself a satisfied sigh.

“~Damn,~” said Hardison appreciatively. “~Is he hooked?~”

“~He’s still staring,~” Nate said, amused.

“He’s a hunter. He’ll chase,” Sophie said confidently. “It’s awfully unsporting, I know, but sometimes it’s just plain fun.”  She didn’t bother to pretend she hadn’t enjoyed that thoroughly.

“Who are you speaking to?” asked Buttercup. “Who are you?”

Sophie gave the girl a genuine smile. “For now it’s best if you just know me as Helene. Can we go to your chambers? We have a lot to talk about.”

Hardison was willing to bet that if Westley weren’t currently crippled, he’d be pacing a hole in the carpet. Since he couldn’t, he was staring out the open window, mostly concealed by the frame and curtains moving in the warm night breeze.

Hardison was trying to ignore the burning silence from that corner of the room; he was configuring the optimum placement of their remaining cams in the castle for Parker, working up a few reports implying Guilder’s relative ability to wage a war was better than it actually was, running diagnositic analyses of Humperdinck’s spy net to find the quickest way to get the disinformation to him, and occasionally amusing himself with checking in on the feed of Eliot, strapped down and pissed off. Between those and the gajillion other things the rest of the team seemed to think happened by themselves, he didn’t have a lot of time to worry about their client’s discontent.

Nate came through the door, with the kind of smile he usually wore when a plan was kicking into motion. His brother glanced at him, then looked back out, but it was enough to pull Nate over.

“What?” Nate asked gently, a conspicuous hallmark of the way he dealt with his brother, against his usual brusque style of communication. With rare self-preservation, Hardison hadn’t yet commented on this.

Westley didn’t answer straight away, but gave a grudging sigh when Nate prompted him again.

“I want to see her, Nathan,” he said, tamped-down frustration straining his voice. “All I can think of is walking in, taking her hand, and getting her away from that place. From that man.”

“We can’t –”

Westley gave him a withering look. “I know that.” He thought about it. “At least, I know your reasoning. That doesn’t mean I agree.”

Nate was shocked by this, although he shouldn’t be, as far as Hardison was concerned. “Westley, if we give Humperdinck any excuse to –”

He cut him off again. “Yes. War. Terrible.” He faced him fully. “Tragedies happen every day, Nathan. Cataclysms, every other month. You think you can prevent them all?”

Nate stared at him. “Are you suggesting we don’t even try, when it’s right in front of us?”

Westley slumped a little. “No,” he said eventually. “You should. I suppose. It’s just.... I’ve spent five years on the most dangerous pirate ship in these seas. I wasn’t a pirate proper, for those years when we killed everyone in our path, but ... I was close enough. And although I do what I can, as captain, we’re still a long way from innocent.... The truth is, I just don’t really care that much about anyone in these stupid, piddling countries but Buttercup.” He looked Nate in the eye, lacking any apparent remorse. “I’m not the good guy here, Nathan.”

Nate had on his blank face of surprise, so Hardison couldn’t tell exactly how hard Westley’s measured explanation was hitting him. Just that it was.

He didn’t really see the problem, himself. Westley’s priorities were completely understandable, and pirates, much like thieves, were not known for their altruism – dirty-rich-and-reformed thieves excepted. He wondered just how much Nate had been deluding himself about his baby brother’s career as a professional bad guy.

Nate strove for some kind of bottom line. “Look. When you called us in, you agreed I’d call the shots. That’s the only way this works.”

“Yes. I agreed. I can still hate it.” Westley raised his eyebrows. “If Maggie had been in this kind of situation, how would you like having any other man in charge?”

Nate granted this. “I’d ... take over.”

Westley’s smile thanked him for not trying to pretend otherwise, and he nodded. “This – all of this – is just wrong. She’s mine to rescue. Otherwise what are we? If my love can’t rescue her when she needs it – if her love can’t depend on me to – then what worth is it? It’s a fairly shoddy love that does not act upon itself. It’s not love at all, or anything more than a warm and intoxicating feeling.”

Hardison had given up paying attention to anything else. “Hey, go easy on yourself, man. You did call us in as soon as you needed to – and she is trusting that –”

Westley acknowledged the attempt, but was not consoled. “Sending somone else to do it for me? That’s not me, that’s –” he broke off and waved in the direction of the castle, then finished his sentence with a world of contempt, “... him.”

Hardison shrugged. “Yeah. Point.”

Nate shook his head. “But, on the other hand, anyone could have chased after her like that.... Well, any elite, super-fit, highly motivated ... anyway, the point is, just retrieving her doesn’t qualify your love as true or not. Maybe in the olden days, that’s all you had to do – just charge up, throw the girl across your horse, and ride off – but these days.... I mean, Eliot runs down things all the time, people even. It’s got nothing to do with loving them. It’s just what he does.”

Westley glanced at the screen, where their hitter could be seen trying to get some sleep, considering this. “I’ll concede the premise. What’s your point?”

“That – life is bigger than that now. That if you want to prove your love, a one-off rescue isn’t so important, no matter how impressive it is. I’m saying ... live a whole life worthy of her. Make the world worthy of your love together ... you know, together.”

Westley blinked at the passion in Nate, and tried to keep the answering smile off his face, or at least make it a cynical one. He failed.

“How ... idealistic,” he said, and he couldn’t make that sound as cynical as he wanted, either. “You do dream big, Nathan.”

“Nothing else is worth dreaming,” Nate said, unabashed.

“Perhaps not,” said Westley softly, giving no sign he was off the fence yet, but having lost much of his ire. “So. What happens next?”

Chapter Eleven


( 2 speakses — have a speak )
Apr. 16th, 2010 08:48 am (UTC)
I love Sophie's perspective as she sets the bait for Humperdinck. It's so calculated, finely calibrated, and he just falls for it like so many marks before him. I'd feel sorry for the bastard if he weren't, you know, a bastard ;-)

And your description of Buttercup suddenly waking up from her walking fugue state is great.

I was a bit puzzled by this bit, though:

Hardison was willing to bet that if Westley weren’t currently crippled

Did I miss something? What happened to him?

I'm way behind with my reading, so I'm off to the next chapter now :)
Apr. 16th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
Just that he'd broken his leg. The idea of him pacing back and forth with his crutches was kind of ridiculous in my head, I couldn't see him doing it.

I'm enjoying writing Sophie's craft; I kind of picture it like the back-and-forth of physical action of the other two, only it's psychological. And yeah, I don't feel sorry for him at all, either :D
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