Fandom: Avengers/Leverage/The Bourne Legacy/X-Men
Word Count: 4,965/20,243
Pairings: Eliot Spencer/Clint Barton; Nate/Sophie; Tony/Pepper; Natasha Romanoff/Phil Coulson;
Warnings: language; a little sex, a little violence
Disclaimer: I don't own them. They belong only to themselves, and the people that created them. This is a figment of my imagination--fiction. No money made. Any mistakes are mine.
Summary: Sophie told Eliot he was no longer the same man that worked for Damien Moreau. The Leverage Team finds out he is still that man plus a little more, and that's okay because a Hawk and a Spider have his back.
A/N: Spoilers: Season 5 Leverage to The Gimme A K Street Job.
Fury met the news of Eliot hiding the Operation Outcome files with a brief tantrum before throwing a file on the table glaring while Eliot read its contents. When he finished he pinched the bridge of his nose. It was a tell he was going to have to eliminate.
"Is there any way I can convince you not to do this?"
"We use independent contractors all the time, Agent Spencer. They're the best at what they do, and with your influence they've also been very helpful to SHIELD. Don't you want them under our umbrella of protection?"
"Dammit, Nick. You're not protecting them or there wouldn't be half the alphabet sitting in front of a bar in Boston."
Eliot refused to let Nick Fury rattle him. When Jean Grey turned his precognition back to the levels he would have naturally developed even without Operation Outcome's tampering, she'd left behind an instruction guide. Only Clint and The Phoenix knew what she'd done, and the psi-talents that worked for SHIELD weren't strong enough to 'see' other than what the two men wished.
"Once Nate has all the pieces, he'll see through your little farce."
"Are you going to give him those pieces?"
"I won't need to-I'll be calling Nate, who's going to tell me to meet them in Washington, and when it's all said and done he'll be making noises about moving the team back to the east coast since I won't leave Clint or The Avengers."
Fury spun around from where he'd been watching the repair crews put the finishing touches on the helicarrier. They'd be back out in open water by this time tomorrow. The smirk on Spencer's face told the director he hadn't hidden his reaction.
"You're right. Leverage and Associates is an asset I need out there, but I need them close to you. I'm asking a lot for you to ride herd on them and The Avengers, I want Coulson back to being my 'one good eye', and I'll see what I can do about getting you a competent assistant that the children will tolerate."
"Now you're just being a tease. You know I hate paperwork." The smile faded. "You're not expecting Coulson to return to full field status?"
"I expect he will-eventually. That's why I'm keeping him."
"I leave you to tell Agent Romanoff. Love may be for children, but she considers Phil to be hers and like Stark, she doesn't like people to take her stuff."
"I thought you and Barton belonged to Widow?"
Eliot chuckled at the puppet master's confusion.
"We do, but telling her Loki killed Phil made her realize he's belongs to her on a deeper level. You need a scorecard, Nick. You're losing track of your players. Movie night has become quite the bonding time at Stark…I mean Avengers' Tower…there's beanbags and giant couches…piles of bodies everywhere. You soon lose track of…."
"ENOUGH! TMI, Spencer. I'll let you handle Ford as you see fit, but get me an answer, and keep Alec Hardison out of my systems. Dismissed."
"You're in luck-JARVIS doesn't like Hardison and has become fiercely protective of any systems with information about 'his people'."
Eliot didn't stay to see the Director's reaction to that comment, but he could hear the man shouting for Agent Hill as the bridge door closed behind him. After their conversation he looked for Fury to name Coulson and Hill to both be Assistant Directors-Hill to stand beside him while Coulson skulked in the shadows around SHIELD's pet projects.
He could feel Clint's surprise and laughter as he let parts of his thoughts flow through their new bond. Thanks to The Phoenix, it went from a strictly empathic to a full blown telepathic bond. The archer met him at the gangway with a few more of their things that had been found during the clean-up.
Clint took care of stowing the gear they'd brought back to the Tower while Eliot went to start dinner. They silently discussed Eliot's meeting with Fury, agreed that they would miss having Natasha with them, but were happy Phil had someone who understood him and would push him to get back to normal.
A bleary eyed Tony and Bruce wandered through the kitchen on their way to the dining room…Tony to the bar and Bruce to set the table.
"If you're talking to Legolas tell him I've got some new toys to check out after we eat."
Eliot studied the genius for a minute wondering if Tony was that intuitive or if the energy from the arc reactor was close to the same frequency as psi energy. Speculations of what would happen if he touched the arc reactor energy ran through his mind.
Pepper and I might have a thing or two to say about you feeling up Stark's chest.
Clint sent through the bond.
That's not the only place there's an arc reactor.
Don't you think we've been experimented on enough for one lifetime?
The fatigue and fear that came through had Eliot feeling contrite so when Clint walked in the kitchen he pulled him close and murmured apologies against his throat.
If they were unusually clingy after Clint and Tony came from trying out the new toys, the others didn't tease though Natasha quirked a questioning eyebrow from where she sat with Phil's head in her lap. She relaxed at the wink Clint gave her.
Mentally and physically exhausted they headed for their room. Realizing he hadn't called Parker, Eliot saw it was only nine o'clock in Portland.
"Are you coming home?"
"I am home, Parker. As much as I miss being with you guys, I have to be here, but you can come visit."
"What about the jobs?...the Brew Pub?"
"You guys will have to keep saving the world one bad guy at a time. I'll be here doing the heavy lifting."
"Who's gonna teach me stuff?"
Eliot's heart clenched at the forlorn question.
"You're fine, Parker, but if it gets bad you can visit and drive Tony crazy."
"Yeah, but just you-JARVIS would probably drop Hardison down an elevator shaft without a rig."
"I know the feeling. Hey! Call Nate. We got a job in DC and he said he needs you 'cause Quinn and Shelley aren't you."
"As soon as we hang up I'll call him." Eliot chuckled.
"When I get to the airport where do I tell the cab to take me?"
"Stark Tower even though some people are calling it The Avengers' Tower."
"Will you cook?"
"I always cook, sweetheart."
"Can I push your boyfriend off the roof?"
"You won't have to-he'd jump before you and probably without a rig."
"Cool. Nate's yelling so I gotta go inside. I didn't want anyone listening."
"I don't jump off buildings without a good reason. What is it with everyone? A building crumbles under you and people think you're some kind of daredevil."
Clint huffed as he pinched Eliot's side in retribution. Eliot grabbed a handful hair and pulled back the archer's head kissing him deeply while the phone dialed Nate's number.
He grinned at the glazed expression in grey eyes.
"Parker said you wanted to talk to me."
"You talked to Parker?"
"That's what I said, but if you don't need anything I've got a hot body in an obscenely decadent bed."
"What…oh…yeah…we…uh…have a job. I need you to meet us in DC in two days."
"Things are quiet at the moment. I can probably arrange some time. How long?"
"Three-four days at the most."
"Send me the file and where you're staying."
"We're getting ready to run it. Hardison can pull you into the conference."
"Security protocols. I'll have my guy handle it. I'll be right there."
He cut the call and powered up his Tablet and threw the screens out where Clint could watch.
"JARVIS, can you patch us in, capture the files, but only show me?"
The Leverage offices appeared with everyone present on one screen while Hardison's Power Point appeared on another.
"Eliot, you're looking well." Sophie said.
Hardison smiled but his tone was a bit sullen. Parker waved.
"Now that we're all here, run it."
At breakfast the next morning, Eliot pulled Pepper to the side and asked when she was returning to Washington.
"You could have asked JARVIS." She admonished.
"Your schedule is none of my business unless I need to find you because Tony is injured."
"You're scheduled to take off at 7pm. The limo will be out front at 6:15."
"Thank you, JARVIS. Need a ride?"
"If it's not an inconvenience…"
"Never. It'll give me time to pick your brain on some things."
Eliot's stomach flipped at the warm smile with devilish twinkle in her eye. He might have to rethink flying commercial. He'd face SAVAK interrogators that didn't worry him as much as Pepper Potts.
Once they got to Washington, she insisted he share Stark Industries' residence at the Ritz-Carlton while he was in town. Though he knew he wouldn't see much of it, Eliot agreed enjoying the smile that lit her face-even Happy was pleased that she wouldn't be staying alone. Lucky for him the rest of the team except Parker were staying in one of the suites at the Ritz.
Sophie answered his knock.
"Eliot, come in. We were expecting room service, but this is even better."
He kissed her on the cheek and gave her one of his rare smiles.
"El, my man, you're lookin' good."
Eliot eyed him warily. The crap he'd been through with the CIA because of Hardison's poking in corners was not so far back in his memory as to dull the pain of his injuries.
"Good. Let's get started. Eliot you're Steven Trent…"
While running the game, Eliot watched the others. Nate hovering in the background while letting the four of them run loose through the halls of Congress had his precognition working overtime. When Nate kept sending him back after LaGrange instead of stepping in to take control, Eliot's hackles rose-he knew all the Congressman's weak spots, no one ran background checks like JARVIS, but he wanted to see what game their mastermind was playing. By the time the PEP Athletic CEO was in custody, and the cheerleader bill passed the committee, he still didn't have enough information.
When they climbed out of the cab at the hotel there was surprise waiting. The SI limo sat out front with Happy leaning against the door. He straightened when he saw Eliot and opened the back door revealing 'Agent' Clint Barton. He stepped out of the car and waited until the others gathered behind Eliot.
"The Director sent me to bring you and your team into the office."
Eliot could hear Hardison suck wind to launch a tirade when Happy started to crack his knuckles. He heard the hacker's jaw snap shut. He wanted to laugh at Happy's antics, but he was too busy pulling back the reins on his anger at Fury.
"It's fine, Sophie. Go pack your stuff. We're going to a meeting after which you can go shopping in New York City."
"As long as it's nothing serious…"
"I'll brief you on the way to the airport after you get checked out."
He had them herded into the elevators before they realized what he was doing, Clint stood silent sentry at his shoulder, their mental bond lit up like the fourth of July.
What the fuck?
You know Fury.
He keeps on he's going to need Phil to be both his eyes. He didn't listen to a damn word I said.
He listened he just didn't accept your 'No.' for an answer. Fury gets what he wants one way or another.
This couldn't have waited until tomorrow? Am I packed?
No and yes. Happy let me in the SI Residence. When was the last time you slept?
It was going to be tonight so do not start. Is this why you've been blocking the bond?
I'm just the messenger.
You're going to get the message when we get back to the Tower.
Eliot was glad for his habit of leaving his shirt tail untucked as the emotions Clint sent down the bond got an instant response from his body.
Fifteen minutes later he was herding everyone into the limo the stern visages of Clint and Happy keeping everyone quiet-though Parker did give Clint a wink. When everyone was settled he explained Nick Fury's plan.
"You'd be independent contractors taking whatever jobs you wanted, but every once in a while SHIELD would throw you a case file. In addition to the usual 'alternative income streams' you'd receive some kind of recompense, and the protection of SHIELD should things get dicey with the LEOs, Sterling, various and sundry other agencies."
"A 'Get Out Of Jail Free' card?" Parker asked.
"In a manner of speaking-the idea still being, don't get caught, Hardison cleaning up after, SHIELD techs would double check that all the I's were dotted and T's crossed. Leverage keeps doing what it's been doing, but carrying a full time client on the side."
"What about you?" Nate asked.
"I stay where I am plus act as liaison between Leverage and SHIELD."
"You'll still punch people for us?"
Hardison's question earned him a punch in the arm from Parker.
"Ow, Momma. You don't have to hit so hard."
Flashing SHELD ID gets them waved through airport security with little delay. Their luggage is loaded in the Quinjet while Clint runs pre-flight and Eliot gets everyone buckled up before taking the co-pilot's seat.
Clint and Eliot eavesdrop, while listening to the radio chatter from the helicarrier and Eliot gives Clint a sharp look as they continue over the water. After twenty minutes of arguing, the consensus is they listen to the offer before making a final decision. Parker and Nate are the 'Aye' votes-Parker because it gets Eliot back and Nate because it dovetails with his other plans. Sophie and Hardison the 'Nay' vote.
After an hour of flying over open water, Clint finally radios for landing instructions.
"Q4387 what is your payload?" The Air BOSS asks.
"Delivery for the Director."
"Say again Q4387."
"Above your security clearance, Air BOSS. Set us down." Eliot's tone is cold.
Clint brought the Quinjet to rest at Fury's private entrance.
"Leave all bags, electronics and weapons on the jet. It will be secure until we depart for the main land."
He watched and waited. Clint lowered the ramp and Eliot watched a little longer before Hardison and Parker both grumbled, but threw a few more things in the basket Eliot set on the seat. The retrievalist turned his stare on Sophie.
"Seriously, you think…"
With a huff several more items hit the basket, and only then did Eliot turn to lead them off the Quinjet, Clint followed behind after grabbing his bow and quiver.
Loaded for bear, darlin'?
With this crew-you bet. I may shoot Hardison in the ass just for grins and chuckles.
The Glock and knife would have been enough.
Honoring the brand. It's not Hawkeye without the bow.
I can see I'm going to have to separate you and Stark.
Their internal dialogue was cut short as Eliot motioned for them to sit at the conference table overlooking the bridge. Eliot and Clint exchanged a smirk at Hardison's bug-eyed expression.
He spun around to go for the stairs and promptly ran into a leather and body armor wearing Nick Fury. With a yelp and a leap that would have done an Olympic athlete proud, he got in behind Eliot while Clint fought to keep a straight face and Hill and Coulson acted the perfect agents. Eliot rolled his eyes at Nick's smirk. Hardison sat between Sophie and Parker.
"I am Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD. These are my Assistant Directors, Hill and Coulson. Agent Spencer briefed you on why I asked you here today so I'll get right to the point. Yes or No?"
"As you know Eliot is a man of few words so before we give our answer we'd like to hear the long version as opposed to the cliff notes."
Nate sat back and crossed his arms over his chest.
"Bottom line, I wanted to haul you all in, sit you down at a table and tell you to sign the contract in front of you or I was going to let all the alphabets and Interpol fight over who got to put you in jail."
At the word jail everyone's attention snapped onto the one-eyed king.
"Agent Spencer made his displeasure known for that idea and as I have a certain fondness for my right eye and sleeping, we came to a compromise."
Everyone turned to look in the same direction as Fury when he glared at the three agents leaning against the rail and each other, the curvy red-head twirling a small dagger over her knuckles. The others turned their attention back to Fury, but Hardison continued to stare until cold green eyes met his and the grip on the dagger shifted. The hacker snapped his head back to watch the director and his assistants.
"I like her." Parker whispered.
Eliot bumped Natasha with his hip and gave her a wink as Coulson activated the smart table.
"In front of each of you is a contract. It's a standard contract in these situations-non-disclosure, terms of the agreement between the parties, etc. We will have an agreement before you leave today, or I guarantee you will feel the heat like never before. AD Coulson will take care of any changes or addendums, but I for one recommend you do NOT undo all of Agent Spencer's hard work."
They all looked over at Eliot who presented them with the same bland special agent face everyone else was wearing. Four heads bowed over the table.
In his office, Fury watched the monitors. He watched as the brunette, Devereaux, looked at Eliot. He watched as she looked at the contract then back to where he still leaned against Barton with Romanoff leaning against them both.
"Eliot, what did this cost?"
Her expression said she didn't believe him.
"You don't have to do this. This is not who you are."
"That's where you're wrong, Sophie. It's exactly who I am, and have always been. That's why Dubenich wanted me. That's why Nate called me back in Los Angeles."
Brown eyes jerked from Eliot to Nate who shrugged and continued to read. Sophie signed her name.
"But…but…I thought…" Hardison wasn't sure where to look.
"Since Eliot and Parker have the most to lose if one of Nate's plans goes sideways then I agree."
"Do I get to play with all your cool toys?" Hardison grinned at Coulson.
"No. Agent Spencer has put safeguards in place that will burn you to ground if you try."
"Now that's just harsh. I thought we was bros."
"Yeah…well you almost got me killed poking around the CIA so sign the damn contract and get your ass on the jet."
Eliot stalked out of the door while the agents that remained stared at Hardison like he was next on their hit parade. He signed. Coulson turned them over to Agent Sitwell who got them ID's that gave access to parts of SHIELD such as medical.
"Agents Romanoff and Barton will escort you back to the flight deck. Welcome to SHIELD."
Sitwell smirked at the two Avengers as he continued down the hall.
Clint fed Eliot a running commentary through their bond as he watched Hardison pant after Natasha. Parker dropped back to walk beside him. Nate and Sophie dropped back until it was Hardison and the Black Widow.
"She's going to hurt him isn't she?" Parker asked.
Clint gave a nasty chuckle.
"She's a Black Widow. What do you think? Don't blink."
The hacker reached out and laid his hand on the small of the red-head's back.
"Hey little Momma maybe you could…"
Was all he got out before he was being strangled by a clean musk smelling vice while being hit with a Widow's Bite. As he crumbled to the deck, Natasha tucked and rolled to her feet while Hardison twitched on the deck. She looked at Parker.
"He's yours-you bring him."
Parker picked up a foot and started to drag the hacker toward the flight deck, his chin bouncing on the deck.
"At least get him on his feet." Sophie said.
The thief rolled her eyes and with Nate's help got Hardison on his feet. Between the two of them they got him in the Quinjet. It was a subdued group that landed at the SHIELD heliport and herded into a black Suburban. When Eliot stopped in front of the Trump International Hotel it was just after midnight.
"You've got two nights here on SHIELD's dime. That'll give you time to sleep and get plane tickets back to Portland."
"What about you?"
"I'm taking my boy and going home-well what passes for home or an insane asylum depending on how long Tony's been awake." He mumbled.
Parker grabbed his arm.
"Yes, Parker, just not at the ass crack of dawn."
She hugged his neck so hard he felt like Natasha had him between her thighs.
"Come for breakfast."
The blonde grabbed her bag and a key card from Sophie and sprinted for the elevators. With a tired sigh he turned to climb in the SUV.
He turned to look at Nate. Sophie and Hardison were trailing behind Parker.
"What did you give Fury for our deal?"
"Nothing I haven't given before."
The door shut in the mastermind's face.
Sleeping through the night had put Eliot in a much better frame of mind, but he was still relieved when the elevator opened to only Parker. JARVIS would take care of jamming any tracking devices Hardison stuck on her so he relaxed to her familiar kind of crazy.
She got a little shy when the others started to wonder to the table, but was soon asking Natasha to show her the move she did on Hardison. Tony sat and stared while he inhaled his first cup of coffee.
"Have you ever stolen from me?"
Parker looked puzzled.
"Who are you?"
"Cute. Tony Stark-Ironman-genius-billionaire-
Parker stared at Tony.
"OH, the guy in the suit that did the thing. Yeah. No, I've never stolen from you. I promised Eliot. You give money away-are you crazy?"
"Okay then, you can stay."
"How's she doing?" Clint asked as he filled his coffee mug.
"Just one more inmate."
Parker was arguing harnesses, alarm systems and rigs with Clint and Tony while Eliot slipped off to his office. With Fury taking back Coulson and making him one of his Assistant Directors, his work load increased. If Nick didn't soon get him someone to handle the drudgery, he was going to ask Pepper. That woman had better sources than SHIELD.
Seeing the time, Parker hopped off the couch.
"Gotta go. They'll be having a fit 'cause I'm flying under the radar."
"Come on Barton, Parker's given me some ideas for expanding your quiver while keeping down the bulk."
At the floor for Tony's workshop, Parker stopped Clint.
"You'll watch him? Sometimes he gets caught…inside the memories."
Clint smiled warmly at her concern.
"We're the Hawk and the Wolf-it's what we do, sweetheart."
"Nate's worried. He's afraid about what Eliot promised the one-eyed king for us."
"So am I, Parker-so am I."
The archer gave her a warm, dry kiss on the cheek.
"Take care, little thief."
She stared wide-eyed at the door until it stopped.
"This isn't the lobby."
"I thought perhaps you would like to say goodbye to Agent Spencer." JARVIS said.
"I should, huh?"
"I believe it would help raise his spirits."
"Thanks, JARVIS. Do you watch out for everyone like you do Eliot?"
"They're becoming Sir's family so I watch over them."
Eliot looked up from his computer.
"Going back to the hotel?"
"Yeah. I'm sure Hardison's giving birth to some kind of farm animal because he can't track me."
"It's not my business so I'm only going to say this once. I know you've got bolt holes all over the world, but if you need some place that's not Archie, promise me you'll use that phone I gave you or come here."
"Good. Now I got work…"
The words were cut off when Parker pressed a brief kiss on his lips before darting out of the office.
Things settled. Eliot was moving between Leverage and The Avengers with little conflict. Fury had given him Agent Jasper Sitwell. While Clint was away with Sitwell on a mission, Eliot sequestered himself and called for JARVIS. After the AI had answered Eliot's questions, Eliot began securing his office.
"If I may inquire where you're going?"
"I'm sorry, JARVIS, but I can't put you in a position to go against your main programming."
"I'm not sure I understand."
"If I tell you my plans and Tony asks you where I am what do you tell him?"
"Where you are-your reasoning is sound."
"Thank you, JARVIS."
For the next month, Eliot disappeared for days at time, never giving any explanation on his return. Clint was beginning to worry. There was little the two men didn't know about each other, but whatever Eliot was doing he was hiding it away so deep it couldn't be seen in their bond. When he'd asked JARVIS, the AI seemed evasive so he went to Tony.
"Sir, I was not being evasive with Agent Barton, I simply do not have that information. Eliot specifically said he wanted me to be ignorant of the matter for this very reason."
"Son of a bitch, I'll put an arrow through his good eye." Clint growled.
"What…what have you got? Something about Fury?"
Stark started flipping screens.
"We are in SHIELD's system, Sir, but there is nothing about any mission for Agent Spencer."
"No. This would only be on paper or in the Director's head. That's the way the most secret stuff is handled. Paper only-eyes only."
"You think Agent would know?"
"Sir, Agent Spencer has returned and his currently in the quarters he shares with Agent Barton."
"He appears to suffering mild dehydration, exhaustion, bruises, and several wounds that have healed to the point I cannot determine their cause."
"That would be my cue. Thanks, Tony, JARVIS."
The next several hours were spent trying to mentally and physically sooth Eliot into sleep. The dreams were jumbled, and while Clint could pick up bits and pieces it wasn't enough to put the pieces together. He'd just gotten Eliot settled back into deep sleep when their door cracked and a slim blonde slipped through. She kicked off her shoes and slipped under the covers and tucked herself against Eliot's chest. With Clint curled around his back and Parker tucked against his front, the retrieval specialist finally relaxed.
Nick Fury locked the door to his quarters. His black leather coat landed on the chair. Three fingers of Bushmills in a glass. He started reading through a stack of reports on his desk when several newspaper clippings fluttered from amongst the crisp white sheets. Picking them off the floor, he smiled as he read the names. Lt. Col. Eric Byer, Retired, Victor Dubenich, Admiral Mark Turso, Retired, and Damien Moreau-all dead from natural causes. They'd served their purpose, but had become liabilities to his plans.
A satisfied smile lit his face as he leaned back in his chair and propped his feet on the desk. His wolf was back with his hawk, and he had a shiny new set of assets to deploy.
All hail the one eyed king. Long live the king.
~ Fini ~