*The beginning is based on The Big Bang Job.
Eliot heads to the bar the morning after their grab of Yasmine. Eliot feels eyes upon him as he walks. Eliot surveys the scene around him as he catches a momentary waft of a familiar scent on the breeze which is a mix of sandalwood and clove. A smirk passes over Eliot's face as he realizes an old friend is paying him a visit. He only wishes it was under different circumstances. Eliot turns around on his heel, heading back towards the figure propped against the building he just passed. Eliot's approach is to takes up a position next to the woman he has seen. "Say goodnight, Gracie." Eliot adds with a rare smile as he props his leg on against the concrete.
"Goodnight, Gracie." The soft lilting voice with a British accent tickles his ears. Eliot folds his arms across his chest to soak up the sun as the conversation continues. "What are you doing here Gracie?" Eliot is very happy to see this particular old friend.
"Well, Damien is going to be the states so you know the drill." Eliot is almost relieved to hear that Damien is the reason that Gracie is in DC. He has to protect his team and Eliot does not have time to make a proper plan. Between Atherton and Moreau, Eliot is wearing thin. He takes in the face and form of his treasured friend from another life. Gracie is true to form as she stands in the warmth of the autumn sun smoking a clove cigarette with her Wayfarers on. There is a Holly Golightly vibe that Eliot has always noticed when in the presence of Grace Bond.
"Can't I call on an old friend without question as to my motivation. My reasons may be altruistic." Grace pauses for a moment taking a puff with a sarcastic smirk delicately tossed in Eliot's direction. "Hell with the current roll call in town, it is pretty much a bloody reunion." Grace follows up with a tilt of her sunglasses and an accompanying wicked little smile.
"It's really good to see you, Gracie." Eliot leans down bumping his shoulder into Grace's. Grace pushes her glasses back up her nose as she pushes away from the wall with her foot. "What can I say Eliot, I'm a bit like a bad penny. I just keep turning up." With a wink, Grace departs down the street. "See you around, Eliot." Grace blows Eliot a kiss over her shoulder.
Eliot remains against the building watching Gracie's departure from him. It has been a long time… too long and the thoughts of having old friends around is an odd comfort to him. After Gracie's departure, Eliot walks into the bar to find the other team members gathered around the table. They are talking about why Moreau is in town. Eliot knows the secret to getting an invitation. He knows his past is the key. The situation has two ways to go… bad or worse and Nate is backing him into a corner. When Eliot is backed into a corner, he comes out swinging.
Eliot reluctantly agrees to get them an invite to the auction but that invitation is going to come at a price and it will be a hell of a lot more than a two million dollar buy-in. Gracie's visit wasn't by chance. It was by intention and it was by design. Grace just might know what Nate is up to. Eliot doesn't know how but that is likely the reason for Grace's calling card. Gracie has either become psychic or she has been keeping tabs on him either way, it's time to pay a visit to his friend when the team arrives in DC.
The late afternoon sun blazes its final moments in a brilliant sunset. He knows just where to find her. Eliot heads to the Lincoln Memorial. It is one of Gracie's favorite places in the states. Grace would not miss a sunset like this simply for the colors it paints across the marble and the reflecting pools on the mall. Eliot walks along the mall as he spies Gracie staring out at the colors in the reflecting pool from a position on the steps of the memorial. Grace sits with a coffee cup between her feet like any other tourist. Eliot watches her for a moment before his approach. Grace is pretty but not beautiful. She has style and charm but you would not give her a second look unless she wanted you to but there is something about her. As Eliot approaches, Grace speaks without even looking to see who it is. "So what's on your mind, Eliot?"
"How did you know it was me?" Eliot teases. Grace gives him another wicked little smile. "All you Delta boys have a very distinctive walk, kind of like the Calvary." Eliot laughs at Gracie turning his own line back at him. "May I?" Eliot motions to the step next to Gracie. Grace waves her hand as she picks up her coffee cup taking another sip from it. "This is something you Yanks definitely did right." Grace loves how the light reflects seemingly for miles in the pool. It is a peaceful place worthy of appreciation even from a Brit.
Gracie's accent comes through in spades. One of Eliot's favorite things about Sophie has always been the fact that her accent brought back memories of chats with Gracie though he would never admit that out loud to anyone outside his own head.
"So why are you mixing it up with Damien again? You were out Eliot, you were out for good." There is a twinge of concern in her voice. Eliot knows the concern is not misplaced. This is a dangerous situation for him... for everyone and his history with Damien is well known to Gracie. Grace had her own relationship with Damien.
Eliot watches the shadows dance on the water to gather his thoughts before he answers Grace. "If you are asking me if I went looking for Damien… I didn't… Damien found them… us. I have to protect them, Grace." Eliot controls his tone to not give away his concern.
"So that's your new merry band of misfits?" Eliot is not surprised that Grace knows of his new team. Grace captures his gaze, her eyes are the one feature that suck him in like a vortex. Her eyes are as grey the granite she sits upon and they are still the warmest eyes he has ever seen. She may not been the prettiest woman he has ever laid eyes on but Grace has her moments and this is one of those moments with her face light up by the waning light of the day.
"Yeah, they are good people, Grace." Eliot faces forward breaking his gaze with Grace. Grace knows that the entanglement with Damien is bringing Eliot's past a little too close to his present.
"Well guess we are just going to have to get you out of this predicament alive then won't we, Puddle Duck." Grace stands and taps Eliot on the nose. Eliot also stands taking another gaze into Grace's eyes. Eliot can see the fire within them. He knows she will be at his back. Eliot leans down and kisses her cheek. "It's really good to see you, Gracie." Eliot smiles some time fate smiles down upon you other times it is just a girl.
The Next Day:
Eliot does all of the preparation that he can before heading to the hotel with Hardison. Hardison has a plan but what Eliot has not told him is that they don't need a plan. He is all the plan they need. As they approach the guards, Hardison is flabbergasted that Eliot's plan is to tell them that he is Eliot Spencer.
What the hell kind of plan is that. From the opening doors, apparently it is a plan that will work but… seriously.. what the hell, Eliot. From the number of guns in their faces, apparently Damien's men and Eliot have made a previous acquaintance. Hardison watches the scene unfold in front of him with horror in his heart. A con is a con, the trust is another matter.
Eliot stands face to face and toe to toe with Chapman surrounded by automatic handguns pointed at his head. Eliot does not provide Chapman with the slightest reaction. Eliot surveys the man that he trained and that Damien has chosen to lead his detail. It would seem that even Eliot can be replaced. Eliot laughs to himself, not replaced so much as someone had to take his place. Chapman is still the sniveling psycho path that he always was which will make this easy peasy but Hardison is not going to like it one bit.
Damien walks out of the sauna. Eliot can barely look at him. It turns his stomach to be here but it is what is necessary to keep all of them safe. Eliot can feel Hardison's eyes boring a hole in his skull as they stare through him but he must focus on Damien. Eliot knows there is a test coming. He just doesn't know what it is yet.
Damien calls Eliot out on the fact that he works alone. Eliot cannot let it be a tell. "Things change." Damien asks Eliot if this is a retrieval with his normal condescending flair. Eliot knows that statement means that Damien has been keeping tabs on him as well. Grace's visit was an unspoken warning to him. Hardison and Eliot do their dance of explaining why he is there when the moment of the test comes. Damien kicks Hardison into the pool. Eliot fights every instinct to react. This is a test of loyalties and a test of will. Eliot knows that Damien is looking for any give away that this is anything but what Eliot says it is. It is at that moment that the rub comes; the invitation is going to come with a contingency. The in is killing Atherton. Eliot agrees to the terms to save Hardison, there is time to figure out the how and that will be later, much later.
As they part, Damien twists the knife. Belgrade. A single word cuts like a thousand daggers. Eliot escorts a very damp and pissed off Hardison out of the room as quickly has he can. Hardison interrogates Eliot on the entire ride to meet the others.
Hardison and Eliot meet up with the others in the park with Hardison continuing to bitch the whole way there. Eliot knows that Hardison will tell them. The truth is supposed to set you free. This feels like a death sentence. It begins with a simple phrase.
"Tell them what you did, Eliot." Hardison pokes at him. Hardison has no idea what that phrase means. He has no idea who Eliot was before he was with them. Eliot's past is a deep, dark rabbit hole that Eliot does not want to take them down. Eliot wants to tell him that he had no choice that he had to do what he did to survive in that world. Eliot does not know how to tell them that he is not that man any more. Eliot did his time in the dark as has come back into the light. Eliot knows Hardison feels betrayed. The others will feel betrayed. Eliot cannot explain it to them. It is not time, he buried the man he was in the past. He made a promise to never go back and he is going to keep that promise. There was no try only do. It had to be this way. Eliot knows he cannot make Hardison understand it. Eliot knows in his heart that there is no way to make any of them understand it.
He waits for the tide of anger to rise and fall in his friends… in his family before he lashes out. "I was trying to protect you. Last time I checked that was my job." Eliot takes a deep breath to control himself, to center himself. He tries to maintain eye contact with them but he can't. The shame kicks in with the fear.
"We are out of our league, every one of Moreau's men has innocent blood on their hands. Every one of them are worse than me." Nate stares at Eliot. He can feel all of their eyes staring through him as Eliot continues to speak.
"You think you know what I have done… you have no idea what I have done. The worst thing I have ever done in my life. I did for Damien Moreau… and I'll never be clean of that." Eliot's emotions are on rare display, he is in capable of hiding it. He can feel it, the wave of questions on their lips. The questions they want to ask but won't. He looks up to she her eyes. He can hear the waiver in her voice as she speaks. Not Parker… please not Parker.
He gazes up noticing the tears welling in her eyes. "What did you do?"
"Parker, please don't ask me that… because if you ask me… I am going to tell you so please don't ask me." He chokes on the words as they leave his mouth.
Parker can see the weight of the burden written across Eliot's face. She knows to hold her tongue. She cannot hurt him this way. Sophie acknowledges that they all have a past. It is at that moment as if it were by fate that the conversation is interrupted by a familiar voice and the lilt of another English accent. "And some things are best left in the past, where they belong." Grace's voice is bright and clear on her approach and could not have been more timely if Grace had actually planned it.
Eliot breathes again at the reprieve. He takes the momentary distraction to center himself again.
All are shocked to see the approach of a woman who seems to know exactly who they are. The question is who is she? Nate can see that the shock and awe of the woman's approached was timed as if it was part of the play. It would seem that they are not yet privy to all of Eliot's secrets yet today.
"Nate, Sophie, Hardison, Parker." Eliot motions towards each one of them. "Grace Bond."
Sophie's reaction is immediate and profound. The grifter has a tell and both Nate and Eliot noticed Sophie's subtle tell, this is not the first meeting between Grace and Sophie but that will have to be a conversation for another time . Hardison can't resist an English accent and the last name Bond. "Bond, Grace, Bond." It flows from his lips without a second thought.
Gracie knows the moment can use a bit of levity before Eliot's next reveal. "Well it would seem that joke never tires, Mr. Hardison my Astin is currently double parked." Hardison has a confused look upon his face until Sophie reveals.
"Ms. Bond here is actually with MI6." Sophie is aware that her tell was on display and it is best to acknowledge the obvious. She can control this moment and the story of her and Ms. Bond is best left to the ages. Eliot is surprised to hear Sophie acknowledge that they do indeed know each other or at least know of each other. Eliot has a feeling that Gracie's appearance at this particular moment is most certainly again, not random chance.