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26 October 2011 @ 11:40 pm
No Light  
Fandom: Leverage
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Nate/Sophie
Words: ~2600
Spoilers: -
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
A/N: Pre-show; inspired by Florence + the Machine's No Light, No Light; sort of written for mizzy2k for leverageland's gift giving thing.



October had turned into November and, noticing the slight shift in the air, Sophie knew she had overstayed her welcome in Paris. Paris, one of the most beautiful cities in the world; one that Sophie would have chosen over many others, if she'd had to pick her favorites... and yet she never had been able to stand it in November. October's autumn glow was fading; the leaves, once colored in lovely shades of red and yellow, were now gathering on the ground, no longer adorning the trees and losing their vibrant hues to a dull, homogenous brown. They had left the trees naked, looming darkly over the streets and casting the most bizarre shadows in the fading sunlight of days that kept getting shorter.

Despite the fact that people had already begun putting up Christmas lights here and there, Sophie couldn't shake the cold, grey grip of melancholy. November was a strange time, a filler month that she couldn't imagine anybody liked very much - and yet she had never noticed or minded it in other cities. It was the quiet gloom that settled on the streets of Paris that Sophie couldn't stand. Perhaps she would come back here once December rolled around, but for now it was time to pack her bags and move on.

She had taken one last walk through the streets of Paris, one last round through the Musée d'Orsay; a last cup of coffee, sitting near the windows of her favorite café and watching the people go by: collars turned up, hats pulled deep into their faces - embodying November perfectly. Before she had left the hotel she had vowed to pack her things immediately upon her return, but now she found herself sitting in the armchair and staring out of the window. Tomorrow, she thought, a sigh leaving her lips. She would pack up her possessions tomorrow. She could be done by lunchtime and pick a destination before nightfall. If she was lucky, she would wake up the next day on an island in the Caribbean, where the sky was deep blue and the waters turquoise and brilliant. If she closed her eyes she could almost hear the sound of the waves and smell the salty sea air...

Getting up from her chair, Sophie decided that before she went to bed she would treat herself to a cocktail at the hotel bar - something tropical, something with a little umbrella, something that left the taste of sunshine and warmth on her tongue.

It didn't take long for her to get settled at the bar and - thanks to a bright smile and the batting of eyelashes - the bartender hurried with her drink. She had told him exactly what she had been thinking about minutes earlier, without putting a concrete name on the cocktail. He (white teeth and brown doe eyes with long lashes) had understood, nodded and gone to work. What exactly he was mixing together, Sophie did not know, nor did she want to know. The result, however, was just how she'd imagined it. The liquid inside her glass had the hue of a late afternoon sun and she could taste her past and future experiences on white beaches on her tongue with each sip she took. Sighing contently, she thanked the bartender and picked the deep blue umbrella from her glass, smiling at how perfectly the bartender had fulfilled her wishes. Watching him serve the other customers and fill out the orders some of the waitresses brought him, Sophie wondered what other wishes he might fulfill...

Her thoughts were cut short when she heard the hard clink of a glass meeting the wooden counter and - with a strong feeling of suspicion - she turned to find that Nate Ford had sat down next to her. Sophie dropped her umbrella and stared at him wide-eyed, before speaking his name in a husky question.

This wasn't the first time he had tracked her down in the most random places, but it still startled her, the way he was just there all of the sudden. After years of playing cat and mouse, she knew very well that he was keeping tabs on her (just as Sophie had told various contacts to keep her updated on him) and yet the fact that she was and always would be playing the mouse of this game was never less unsettling.

Examining Nate's face, Sophie thought back to the last time she'd seen him. She had attended his son's funeral - uninvited, but she had known that she needed to go. She had sat in the very back of the church listening intently to the words echoing from the high walls. There were a lot of people and she easily could have slipped out again without seeing Nate, but again it had been something she needed to do, for herself and for him.

When she had voiced her deepest condolences to Nate, handing him her black gloved hand, she had thought for a moment that he wouldn't recognize her; his blue eyes brighter than usual, contrasted by the thin red lines of tiny veins, but empty as she looked at him from under the large brim of her hat. It was his hand, lingering a little longer in hers, that betrayed his facade; the way he'd leaned in a little too much as he thanked her in a monotonous voice that startled Sophie, and how he'd inhaled her subtle perfume a little too deeply. She remembered how much she'd wanted to hold him close, feel his heartbeat and have his own arms wrapped around her in a desperate embrace, but as it was she just held his eyes a little longer, hoping her thoughts would somehow overcome the space between them.

His eyes looked different now, darker with emotion Sophie was not yet able to decipher. She looked away at the memory of the funeral, tightening the grip around her glass before asking "What are you doing here?" at last.

Not a word had left Nate's lips since Sophie had noticed him and the silence made her uncomfortable... and now all he did was signal the bartender, raise his glass and tell the young man who had moved to the back of Sophie's mind already, to get him "Another one, please."

She sighed in frustration, tore his eyes off his and turned her attention to her drink again, while letting her dark hair fall to keep her face out of view for Nate. He was torturing her and for once she had done nothing to deserve such treatment. There was no way he could write off this meeting as a coincidence, her hotel and its bar were much too specific for that and they did not run into each other - he had been waiting for her. He could easily have watched her from the shadows on a table in the back of the bar, but instead he'd come here and sat down next to her, clearly looking for confrontation or conversation... and yet neither was happening.

While taking small sips of her cocktail through her straw (suddenly it had lost most of its magic and her mind was far away from the tropical island she had dreamed of only minutes before) while listening to the soft clinking of the ice cubes in Nate's glass. It was his turn, and if he didn't take his chance soon, she would finish her drink and leave him here, Sophie decided, casting a glance at him. He was staring at her, and the motion of lifting the glass to his lips seemed almost automatic.

Taking another look at him had been a mistake. Already she felt her heart tugging in the opposite direction of her head, her fingertips aching to reach out for him, skin tingling in anticipation. Sophie swallowed hard and bit her lip. This evening wasn't going according to plan at all. She closed her eyes and tried to block Nate out, grasping at the shreds of tropical islands and handsome bartenders in her mind, but failing. Whenever he was near her he seemed to have that effect on her - everything else fading away, leaving only Nate in her head. It had gotten worse since Sam died and she often found herself worrying over him. How unnatural and unsettling for the mouse to worry about the cat's welfare... but she couldn't help herself, it just kept happening.

When she looked again, Sophie noticed Nate's hand had crept a little closer, and without actively wanting to, her own mirrored the movement until their fingers touched. She almost felt the spark going through her skin, felt it even more when Nate linked his hand with hers and pulled her closer. Unable to do anything to stop it, she slipped off the bar stool and found herself standing close to him.

They remained in that position for a moment, before Nate leaned in, telling her "I need you." making it hard for Sophie to swallow, or even breathe. Their attraction had always been very obvious and blunt, but until now Nate had been mostly passive about it and it had always been clear to her that he'd never cheat on his family. But now... This is a bad idea, a voice in her head was telling her, but then he'd already gotten to his feet and wrapped his arms around her, holding her tight and burying his face in her hair.

"Nate..." Sophie tried, but any words she had planned to say got lost on their way.

To Sophie it seems like hours pass, when it's only minutes. She knows they're attracting the attention of other people, but to her they might as well have been completely alone in the room. "Come on, let's go to my room." she suggested after a while, her tone almost sounding as if she were talking to a child. Part of her was fearing the turn of events if she led them both there, but what was the use of standing in the middle of a crowded hotel bar - such an impersonal and public place for the intimacy this moment bore.

He loosened his grip, and she reached for his hand.

Together they slowly made their way to the elevator, while Sophie's mind kept drowning out the sound and motion that surrounded her. Her hand in his...

The strange sense of intimacy overwhelmed Sophie as they stood next to each other in the crowded elevator, making the situation almost seem indecent to her. She glanced at Nate, wondering if he was feeling the same, but he kept his eyes fixed on the tips of his shoes and maybe it was better that way. She closed her eyes and counted the seconds until the elevator had reached her floor, again filled partly with dread and partly with anticipation as they wandered along the corridor, closer and closer to her door.

Before she made use of the key in her hands, she looked at Nate once again, trying to decipher his expression, but again her usually so reliable skills failed her.

Once inside, Sophie found herself pressed against the back of the door, hungry lips searching for her own while strong hands held her in place.

She did nothing to stop Nate. She had wanted this to happen for such a long time... and yet, when Sophie regained her senses, she slipped out of Nate's grip. "Not tonight. Not like this," she told him from a distance, regret in her voice.

Nate made a second attempt, following her to the window and again she let him kiss her for a moment, oddly enjoying the taste of alcohol and desperation on his lips; breaking away from him seemed like the hardest thing she'd ever done.

This time she used both her hands and all her willpower to push him away and shook her head decidedly. "It's not right."

At last, something seemed to click in Nate's head and he nodded with resignation. "I'm sorry." he said softly, avoiding her eyes. "I don't know... I wasn't thinking." was his attempt at an explanation, before he sat down on her bed and buried his face in his hands.

He sat there for a while, unmoving, before Sophie sighed, slipped out of her shoes and crawled over the bed from the other side. She kissed him on the cheek, wrapped her arms around him from behind and joined his state of motionlessness until she felt his body relax under her touch. With a little help from Nate, she managed to get him into a straight position on the bed and pulled off his shoes, before covering with a blanket.

Sophie remained sitting on the edge of the bed, watching Nate and worrying about him, until he seemed to be sound asleep; but as she tried to quietly slip away to spend the night in the armchair, his hand reached out and wrapped around her wrist.

"Stay with me, please."

The plea was unexpected and Sophie hesitated for a moment, before she granted Nate his wish. The armchair really did not look all that comfortable and the bed was big, she reasoned. Her fingers found his again as she laid down next to him, carefully putting a 'safe' distance between their bodies. She curled up with her back to him, but their hands stayed connected - and once Nate's breathing had turned into a steady rhythm, Sophie was lulled to sleep faster than she thought she would.

Even though the evening had still been young when Nate and Sophie had gone to sleep, morning came surprisingly soon. Nate had woken up with his hand still intertwined with Sophie's, but despite his throbbing head he had managed to get up quietly. It wasn't until he had almost reached the door, planning to sneak out while the grifter was still dreaming, that Sophie instinctively noticed the space his body had left on the bed and opened her eyes. She sat up and found herself looking into Nate's bright blue eyes that seemed cold and empty in the clear morning light, having lost the drunken glow of passion she had noticed the night before and almost seeming as if they belonged to a different person.

"Nate..." her voice cracked as she reached out for him. There was so much she wanted to say - especially how much she wanted him to stay - but safe for his name no words passed her lips, the silence between her thoughts and what she said stretching endlessly as she watched him casting down his eyes and leaving, dark and quiet like a fading shadow giving way to light.

Sophie was left with a void, stretching out over the sheets and into her mind. Daylight suddenly seemed too bright and violent for her eyes, so she closed them and hugged her knees, trying to think of something she could have said or done to make him stay, while at the same time she knew there simply had been no way for her to make this right.

Minutes felt like hours and Sophie had lost all track of time, but eventually she got up, putting the experience of the previous night behind her, her mind made up to focus on the tropical island waiting for her instead.

When she left the hotel, she took one last look at it and briefly remembered the taste Nate had left on her lips. Then she disappeared into the crowd.

.

You are the hole in my head
You are the space in my bed
You are the silence in between
what I thought and what I said

You are the night time fear
You are the morning
When it’s clear
When it’s over your start

You’re my head
You’re my heart

No light, no light in your bright blue eyes
I never knew daylight could be so violent

 
 
Current Music: Florence + The Machine - No Light, No Light | Powered by Last.fm
 
 
 
The Lost Girlirishjeeper on October 28th, 2011 05:14 pm (UTC)
Lovely darling!
my name spells emergencymidnighthour on October 28th, 2011 05:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you ♥
<<Addy>>: leverage: sophie natemizzy2k on October 29th, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
There's just some beautiful turns of phrase in this pace.

October's autumn glow was fading; the leaves, once colored in lovely shades red and yellow, were now gathering on the ground, no longer adorning the trees and losing their vibrant hues to a dull, homogenous brown.

So evocative!

It was his hand, lingering a little longer in hers, that betrayed his facade

This is so in character - Nate never ever says what he's feeling, and it has to be interpreted by the small slips he doesn't intend on making. You succinctly put it here: Before she made use of the key in her hands, she looked at Nate once again, trying to decipher his expression, but again her usually so reliable skills failed her. That all she has is these small clues to pick up on, to tell her how he feels. That even Nate himself might not know how he's feeling - in denial, wrapped up in his upbringing and grief and even more denial - so maybe those small slips, the cracks in his armour, are all either of them have, and Sophie's the only one that can see them. Which is why he needs her to be his voice of reason sometimes.

no words passed her lips, the silence between her thoughts and what she said stretching endlessly as she watched him casting down his eyes and leaving, dark and quiet like a fading shadow giving way to light.

Really pretty metaphor.

I liked the subtleties in this and how well you wield Nate against Sophie, like a weapon. Which is exactly how Sophie must feel most of the time.

Lovely, lovely work. <3



my name spells emergency: Leverage [Sophie]midnighthour on October 29th, 2011 05:30 pm (UTC)
Ohh thank you for the lovely review :) I'm glad you liked it, especially since I technically wrote it for you ^^

To tell you the truth, you probably thought more about the words than I did when I wrote them (which is probably how most authors feel, having poor lit students pick their texts apart xD), but I'm glad that they make even more sense than I originally thought.

theron09theron09 on October 29th, 2011 10:54 pm (UTC)
I love this! Loved the analogy of cat and mouse and the gorgeous first paragraph and all the pre-show Nate/Sophie goodness.

<3
my name spells emergency: Leverage [Team Grifter]midnighthour on October 29th, 2011 11:00 pm (UTC)
Aw thank you darling! I'm glad you liked it :3