blowing smoke-ring halos (smokeringhalos) wrote,
blowing smoke-ring halos

First Principles (Leverage, Eliot-centric, PG)

Title: First Principles
Fandoms: Leverage
Pairing: none
Rating: PG
Warning: my ships are showing
For: silensy, commodoresexual, meredevachon, just because.
Summary: Eliot thinks about what he'd tell his temporary replacement about the team.

It’s Eliot’s job to have their backs and get them out of Nate’s insane schemes with as much of their skin intact as possible. For the best crew on this side of the Atlantic, they don’t make it easy on him. He’s not sure that they can, and most of the time he doesn’t want them to. It’d be boring. At least they keep him on his toes.

But sometimes when he’s waiting on Nate’s count and Parker isn’t, he wants to kill them all. He’s got plans for how to do it, too. Each of them. Except Sophie. He’s not sure he could ever kill Sophie. She’s killed herself so many times, she’d probably just rise up and reinvent herself as Anna or Kitty or someone else they haven’t met yet.

Sometimes they make him shake his head and grin with stupid pride, though. Like Hardison in that minivan sitting on top of that bomb and not freaking out until it was done. Or Sophie, holding that vase bomb and telling them all to get out; it’s something he would do. Tara’s surprise skill with a cleaver hit him right in the chest, and, Parker makes him proud so often it’s kind of stupid. If he weren’t proud of Nate, he wouldn’t do it. At all.

Other times, they have no idea how often, he stares at Mikel’s number in his little black ops book and thinks about it. He thinks about calling her to bitch about his team to the one person who he just knows is gonna understand. All the same, he knows he’s never going to do it. He might let Sophie tell him what conditioner to use and let Parker crash on his couch sometimes, but he draws the slumber party line at gossip. One of these days, he’ll call her for the slumber party, though, and tell her to bring the cuffs.

Instead of calling Mikel, Eliot makes lunch and lists. Today, he’s chopping broccoli for a broccoli and gruyere soup. Yeah, Parker, he got the recipe from Emeril. Bam! While he’s pushing the broccoli under the knife, he formulates a list of ‘first principles’. Ie, what he’d tell his version of Tara if he needed someone to fill in for him. Not that he has a version of Tara - he worked alone before this and he made it a practice never to owe or be owed. The only person he can always rely on is himself, and if he’s started to trust this screwball team, Eliot still knows that. Which means someday he might end up calling Mikel or the like for more than a slumber party.

1. Parker’s crazy but not stupid.

Count on Parker to do something that makes you want to stick her in a psych ward or a straight jacket roughly twice per job. But just when you’re ready to smack her between the eyes with a two-by-four, she’ll turn out to be the one you can rely on the most. Parker needs the team to stay intact. Because of it, she’ll listen if she trusts you and improvise intelligently when you need her to. Win her over, and you’re halfway to keeping the rest of them safe.

2. Tara’s stupid but not crazy.

Tara’s not stupid stupid. She’s not Sophie, but that thing with not talking and scaring information out of the guy was seriously fucking brilliant, man. She’s not as well-trained a fighter as Parker’s turning out to be, but Tara’s not going to die on the spot if she has to mix it up a little. The problem with Tara is that she’s not always smart about her limitations or the rest of the team and it makes her reckless. She also likes to play both ends against the middle, which is smart when you’re on your own, but dumb as dirt when you’re part of a team. That’s the kind of stupid that gets people killed. Remember she’s still used to playing lone wolf and treat her accordingly.

3. Hardison’s neither stupid nor crazy; he does what he’s told.

For a hacker, Hardison’s got his head pretty clearly in the game and on this planet, if you know what I’m saying. He knows what he can’t do, except the part where he thinks he’s a grifter. Do not leave the man to improvise a character for more than five minutes. He seriously falls apart, and you’ll all die if he doesn’t have help by minute nine. But when it comes to everything else, Hardison’s your straight man, your solid guy. He does what he’s told when he’s told to do it. No bullshit and no heroics. Roll your eyes at the whining, call him pal, and don’t waste time worrying about him. He ducks like a pro.

4. Sophie’s neither stupid nor crazy; she does what she’s told unless she doesn’t want to.

In some ways, Sophie’s your biggest problem. In others, she’s the least of your worries. Sophie’s smart, she’s sane, she knows what she and everyone else is capable of, and she cares about the team more than you’re ever going to. But that’s your problem right there. She cares too much, which means she’s going to be one up on you, thinking about things you’re not, seeing things ways you won’t, and making up her own mind about what you tell her. The woman’s had more lives than Madonna, so you can pretty much count on her being okay. On the other hand, she’s gonna be worrying about how everyone feels, and nice as that sounds, it can be a real pain in the ass when you’re staring down the Butcher of Kiev and she wants to give a girl a wedding. Don’t forget Soph’s going to care about the clients almost as much as the team, count them into your plans, and clue her in. Oh, and one more thing. Don’t fuck with her about Nate. Just don’t.

5. Nate’s both stupid and crazy; he does what he wants when he wants to.

Most of the job is watching Nate’s back. No, scratch that, Nate is the job. The whole job. The man’s brilliant when it comes to devising and running cons but he tells you less than half of what you need to know, and he does that less than half of the time. He plays so close to the vest, you’ve got to be in his ass to cover him. It’s worse when he’s drinking, but he knows that and doesn’t give a good goddamn. And while he thinks that’s his problem, it’s yours. If Parker has to tell him his job is to “be Nate Ford” and you find yourself agreeing with her, look sharp, because he’s about to do something so ungodly stupid and crazy, even two years of working with him won’t help you see it coming. The best you can do at that point is take care of everyone else and hope Nate’s having a magnificent bastard day instead of a noble idiot day. The two don’t balance out as much as they used to.

If Nate’s letting you take my place, then remember this: he’ll back you six ways to Sunday with everyone else. But your rules and plans don’t apply to him. I don’t care. Get him out anyway if you have to club him over the head to do it. The team needs him, and he needs them. Oh, and that thing about fucking with Sophie about Nate? It goes triple the other way around.

The broccoli’s done and finally so’s Eliot (hey, he has six people to cook for and the broccoli’s not chopping itself). Mostly. As he reaches for the spices, the ingredients that change the flavor, it occurs to him they have their own. Onto his imaginary briefing, he tacks three closing notes.

Everything he just said about Nate applies to Sterling except the drinking and the possibility of noble idiocy; the last time Sterling did something noble, his dick shrank an inch and he’s been scared to do it since. They might be the thieves, but Sterling’s evil. So imagine Nate, evil, and remember, no matter what he says, he’s not on your side.

And then there’s Maggie. Everything he just said about everyone goes out the window when Maggie’s around. The only person on the team who’s not in love with her is Sophie, and that’s only because she’s in love with Nate. So if Maggie’s around, protect her first. No one will listen while Maggie’s in danger.

The last thing Mikel needs to know or whoever he’d find to do his job (if Nate’s too damned stupid and impatient or Sophie’s too damned compassionate to wait for Eliot to wake up from the coma he has to be in to be handing this off) is this: it’s Eliot’s job to get the team out of Nate’s most recent insanely brilliant cockjob, and that makes Eliot his temporary replacement’s biggest problem.
Tags: alec hardison, eliot spencer, james sterling, leverage, maggie collins, nate ford, parker, sophie devereaux, tara cole

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