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29 November 2011 @ 01:52 pm
Stuck in a glass elevator with a mime. Again.  
Fandom: Leverage
Rating: PG
Words: ~1588
Spoilers: -
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
A/N: Written for leverageland's Grab Bag Challenge with the prompts “Stuck in a glass elevator with a mime. Again.” and “A race.”

Once again it was one of those days; one in a line of many. The team hadn't had a case to work on in a few weeks and instead of using the unexpected free time for themselves, they all found each other in Nate's apartment eventually. Parker had eventually ran out of ways to 'break into' the house from all angles and had resignedly settled on using the door again some days ago; Hardison had taken the opportunity to turn the wall of screens into an online gamer's paradise (it was getting harder and harder to get him off the couch); Eliot, in the meantime had tried out a bunch of new recipes and kept himself occupied with preparing new meals for the team for every time of the day (unless he was working out). Sophie was usually the latest to show up (if she hadn't slept at Nate's place), being all actress in this aspect. Sometimes she would convince Parker to go dress or shoe shopping with her and she had casually started expanding the guys' wardrobe piece by piece, but more often than not she sat at the kitchen counter and watched Eliot cook (and steal pieces of fruit or vegetable here and there) or sat in a quiet corner with Nate (trying hard to keep her fingers off him when the rest of the team was still around).

Nate was the most elusive of them all. Despite Hardison's headphones, he had expressed his annoyance at the Hacker's games more than once. Around the kitchen he felt useless (if he was quite honest with himself, Eliot's skill set intimidated him a little), and Parker made him jumpy when she popped up unexpectedly from air vents or windows. He often disappeared to the bar or other secret hide out places, sometimes looking through newspapers in hopes to pick up a client, sometimes trying to read a book (John Irving, or Hemingway), but most of the time he just enjoyed the peace and quiet of the bar downstairs (sometimes Sophie would join him for a while and they'd sit together silently, but just a little too close to be completely platonic).

They had all somewhat found their daily routine by the time he rushed in with a rolled up newspaper in his outstretched hand.

“I know what we're going to do!”

Parker instantly jumped off the couch and curiously came closer to Nate. “What is it?” she asked, already giddy with anticipation. Hardison was taking longer to remove himself from the tv screens and Nate's sofa, but then he, too, advanced, while Sophie and Eliot stayed in the kitchen area.

Slapping the newspaper next to Sophie's elbow (causing her to nearly jump off her chair), he elaborated: “A race! We're doing a charity race!”

The sizzling zucchini slices were finally done and Eliot turned off the stove before facing Nate. He looked quite taken with the idea (as did Parker, who eagerly reached for the newspaper, unfolded it and quickly found the article). “Tell me more,” Eliot said, nodding vaguely into the direction of Parker and Nate. Before Nate could even open his mouth, Parker was already reading out the add:

“Boston Christmas Race – Running for Charity. For every participant crossing the finish line, our sponsors will donate one Christmas present to the Safe Haven Orphanage...” Parker's voice trailed off and she looked at Nate with a bright smile on her lips. “Let's do it!”

Nate nodded and gave Parker a brief smile before fixing his eyes first on Hardison, then on Eliot and Sophie. “How about it?” he asked, though his tone was not one that would allow much resistance. Hardison mumbled a “Fine with me.” and even Hardison nodded in agreement eventually, after glancing at Parker who had continued reading the article silently.

And so only Sophie remained, her nose wrinkled in disgust. “A race!? Really, Nate? You know exactly that I only run from the police or you!”

Smiling sweetly at the Grifter, Nate completely ignored her comment. “It's settled then.”


The next few days, their habitual routine was shaken up by a strict training program that Nate had asked Eliot to contrive and was now overseeing himself, very strictly and sternly. Sophie's resistance had been competently oppressed (to tell the truth, Nate had some rather clever ways of blackmailing her) and she had been forced to quietly give in and join the rest of the team in their training schedule.

In protest she was running extra slow, lagging behind the rest of them, quietly enjoying Nate's heavy breathing (one might even call it wheezing) and delighting herself at the sight of Hardison's uncoordinatedly flailing limbs, as well as Eliot's angry shoves when the Hacker came too close to him, which eventually resulted in Eliot quickening his pace and eventually catching up with Sophie herself. He would stay with her for a while, match his strides to her unhurried ones; in return for his company, she would mockingly point out the three remaining members' bemusing styles of running when they weren't jogging next to each other in silence.

Eliot noticed that Sophie was in no way as untrained as her attitude towards running might have suggested; she kept fit some way or other (Eliot suspected something like Yoga or Pilates, but whatever the Grifter was doing, it was certainly working out for her), which made him wonder why she kept the negative attitude towards running.

When he finally asked her about it, she was evasive (for how could she tell him her disdain for running had mainly originated when, one day, a long, long time ago, she was running to catch a bus and her heel had broken off, resulting in a badly twisted ankle? It was hardly her proudest moment and she knew she was mostly being childish about it, but still. She would never admit that running wasn't as bad as she made it out to be – especially not to Eliot, or even worse: to Nate) and Eliot had no choice but to let the issue rest.


The day of the race came and everyone felt at least reasonably prepared (even Nate whose wheezing had eventually ceased). They had all agreed to meet at a previously determined meeting point half an hour before the race was, but time kept on ticking and when the people in charge started calling the participants to the starting line, Sophie still hadn't shown up. Nate tried calling her phone, but there was no answer, and she didn't reply to Hardison's text messages either. While the men of the group had already decided that this was Sophie's way of protesting the executive decision forcing her to enter the race with them, Parker was visibly getting fidgety and clearly worried about the Grifter.

Soon they had all let themselves get swept away by the general buzz of excitement in the air and Parker was literally bouncing up and down before the starting signal rung through the air at last. Sticking to the rules they'd discussed, they stuck together as a group (Nate clearly being its weakest link, followed by Hardison; but they were flanked by Parker and Eliot who kept a steady pace despite both their inclination to push through to the front of the runners).

Despite gradually getting slower, they still managed to reach the finish line as a team.

The exhaustion was clearly showing on both Hardison and Nate's faces (the latter's having turned an extraordinary shade of red) although (on the contrary to Nate) the Hacker did not try to hide his wheezing breaths, but Eliot seemed fine and Parker oddly energized by the race. It was the blonde thief who spotted Sophie in the crowd, bouncing up and down again and waving at the Grifter crazily. “Sophie! There's Sophie!”

Less excited and more disappointed in her, the others turned to see Sophie wave back.

“Where have you been?” The question was posed in several voices and from all sides when Sophie was finally within reach. Apologizing profusely (but not being quite as sorry as she might have been), she told them the reason for her unexplained absence:

“I'm sorry, I really am! But I was stuck in a glass elevator with a mime--” and before she even had the chance to finish her sentence, the team's simultaneous responses cut her off abruptly.

“Oh you gotta be kidding me!” “Really, Sophie? That's the excuse you came up with?” “Excit-- no? Bad Sophie?” “Again!?”

At the last word, everybody's eyes were turned on Nate. “She used that excuse before, when some street pantomime in Paris charmed her into staying with him and missing the lunch appointment we had,” he explained grumpily. “Remember that, Sophie?”

“But,” the Grifter in question started protesting. “The glass elevator was real this time!” which merely elicited more groans and shaking heads from her team mates. “I swear it was! It was actually quite frightening, hanging tens of meters above the floor in a glass box and it took forever for help to come! The mime nearly drove me insane--”

Her defense went unheard as the team collectively decided that Sophie was paying for their drinks, and swept her away to the nearest bar, while she was still quietly insisting that her encounter with the mime in the glass elevator was not a lame excuse.