Title: By Paths Coincident 1/?

Author: Honorat

Rating: T

Characters: Jenkins, Eve Baird, Jacob Stone, Cassandra Cillian, Ezekiel Jones, Parker, Alec Hardison, Eliot Spencer, Others TBA as needed.

Pairing: Parker/Hardison

Disclaimer: Dean Devlin, John Rogers, TNT own these characters.

Description: The Librarians discover Leverage International. Jacob Stone and Eliot Spencer have a family past, but they aren't the only members of the two teams who've met before. Expect whiplash between light and dark.

By Paths Coincident

The shuddering of the Back Door of the Library Annex caused Jenkins to look up from his work. For a moment the door swung open on a desert landscape before the scene was blocked by the noisy and occasionally noisome Librarians in Training as they were herded to safety by their Guardian.

Jacob Stone was lovingly cradling an amphora filled with rolls of papyrus as if it were a child. Ezekiel Jones looked cheerfully amoral as was his wont. And Cassandra Cillian was bouncing with her usual enthusiasm.

"I can't believe we went to Egypt!" she crowed, waving around the scarf that had been covering her copper hair.

"I know!" Stone was scarcely less excited. "These are first century Coptic scrolls!"

"That I stole for you," Ezekiel pointed out, looking smug.

Colonel Eve Baird shut the door and wiped the unruly strands of her blond hair from her sweat plastered forehead.

"I take it that you were successfully able to prevent any further attempts to re-animate mummies?" Jenkins inquired, in the interests of assuring himself that his sacrifice of his peace was not in vain.

"Oh, yes," Baird groaned. "The dust has returned to the dust, as it were, and I'm pretty sure I'm wearing most of it. I need a shower and a good meal."

"Tell you what," Ezekiel said. "You go scrub off what's left of old Pharaoh Whatsit, and then we can all go out for dinner at this great little brew pub I've heard about. They say the food is the best in Portland."

"Are you paying?" Stone asked raising one eyebrow at the thief.

Ezekiel shrugged, "Sure. Why not? It's not like I really had to work for the money."

Jenkins rolled his eyes and began counting down the minutes before they left him in untroubled solitude again.

While he was constrained to allow them the run of the Annex, Jenkins had no desire to become mired down in the lives of mortals again. They were so short-sighted, so child-like, so . . . fragile. And damn it all to Tartarus, so easy to begin to care for. He had been alone for so long. Alone was best.

Every minute that the Librarians in Training and their Guardian spent in his domain, they spent getting under his skin, reminding him of what he had lost—of what he had yet to lose.

Cassandra Cillian, whose frail deeds danced so brightly as she faced the dying of her light, the one who, with a wild brilliance, could grasp the theory behind the magics he researched. She had become a fixture in his laboratory before he'd had the self-possession to object. It had been so very long since he had been able to share his passionate curiosity with another soul. But the sand in her hourglass was already running out.

Eve Baird, fierce protector, always the most likely to be lost due to the nature of her job, already a survivor of her own death in combat. Few humans received more than one chance. It was not safe to care about any of them, even such a valiant and splendid warrior as this one.

Jacob Stone, equally a scholar and artificer, for whom the Library was so much his native heath that he seldom spent any free time away from it, who loved books and the knowledge they contained with the pure, clear devotion of an acolyte to the divine. Stone was a source of constant astonishment and delight, the subtlety of his thoughts so unexpected in one so practical. Of all of them, he fit most seamlessly into the routine of the Annex, as if the building had absorbed him, and he was becoming the repository of all its secrets. With a feeling close to despair, Jenkins realized he could no longer imagine the Annex without Stone perched aloft with a manuscript, thumping down the stairs with a tome open in hand, sharing his discoveries as though offering his listeners the most precious treasures in the world.

Even Ezekiel Jones, with his irresponsible, incorrigible, hedonistic quest to acquire anything that he fancied, was becoming less distasteful. His wizardry with technology was a pleasure to behold. And occasionally, the boy seemed to display an actual human feeling, as though he was beginning to care about his team members as more than just skilled backup for his escapades.

Jenkins admitted, only to himself, that he was always relieved when a dangerous mission drew to a close with all four of his charges restored to the Annex in one piece. He dreaded the inevitable day when that would not be the case.

Catching himself, once again, treading on dangerous emotional ground, Jenkins roused up his irritation by mentally enumerating the ways in which his younger colleagues irritated him beyond belief. Anger was preferable to whatever these rusty and disused feelings were. The sooner these interlopers were out of his Annex, the sooner he could regain his equilibrium.

It took longer than he had hoped before they were ready to depart.

Cassandra bounded off to check on several experiments she had in progress in the laboratory.

Stone, who had to get his precious manuscripts into the humidifier, wandered off muttering something about love being the enemy of haste. He tossed a glare over his shoulder at the irrepressible Ezekiel who was making cracks about "Moisturize me!"

Jenkins shook his head in bafflement. Technically these children spoke English, but half the time he had no idea what they were saying.

With no one left to annoy, Ezekiel gallantly acknowledged Baird's precedence with regards to showering. Since he had scarcely a hair mussed, and she looked like she had been dragged behind a camel for a hectare of desert, this was only fair. However, just in case his lapse into politeness might rewrite any portion of his obnoxious code, he stole her chair at Flynn's desk and kicked back to play with something arcane on his phone.

When Baird emerged, damp and scrubbed and wearing something pastel if otherwise free of feminine frippery, the remainder of the team descended in sequence on Jenkin's shower. Thanks to Cassandra's science and Stone's knowledge of plumbing and one obscure magical artifact retrieved from the heart of a South Pacific volcano (and hadn't they all nearly died for that one), the Annex possessed an inexhaustible supply of hot water.

Jenkins protested this delay, but they claimed to be too exhausted to go home to bathe and change. Since they all had clothing stashed in the Annex for emergencies, he was left with no other efficacious method for ejecting them.

Finally, the lot of them were sanitized, clad in whatever garments they deemed fashionable, and ready to leave Jenkins to his own devices, although they did invite him to accompany them. Stone was satisfied that the papyrus was rehydrating nicely and would be fit to unroll the next day. Cassandra had recorded all her observations on her experiments. Ezekiel had accomplished nothing at all as far as Jenkins could tell. And Baird had made the unilateral decision that she wasn't appearing in another restroom stall if she didn't have to, so they would be utilizing Stone's crew cab pickup to drive there like civilized human beings.

Jenkins heaved a sigh of bittersweet relief as the young people disappeared into the entry tunnel with far more racket and energy than any person had a right to possess after a full day of saving the world.

Peace at last.

TBC