His cell phone vibrating against the wood of his nightstand pulled Eliot out the best sleep he'd gotten since Sophie threw Tara at them while the grifter went off to 'find' the pieces of herself.
He tried to move to answer only to find himself pinned to the mattress. He distinctly remembered the 'I'm between jobs' sex he had before a quick shower and falling into bed wrapped around his favorite whiskey-eyed brunette. When he opened his eyes he saw the familiar sun streaked, brown head on his chest. When he draws a breath to wake the other man so he can untangle his arms, he catches a familiar scent.
He doesn't need to see her to know Parker's hand is holding his arm around her waist. Since he knows the phone has awakened them, both, he pulls his arms free and grabs the phone.
"This better be good."
"I need you at the bar by six." Nate barked.
"We need to go through client files, and pick our next job."
"Oh and if you see Parker, tell her, too."
Nate hung up before he could answer.
With a growl, he threw the phone back on the stand.
"Ah, the master's voice."
"Shut up, Quinn."
Eliot pulled the younger man in for a proper good morning kiss.
"Are you going to have sex now?" Parker asked from where she sprawled on top of Quinn. "Can I watch?"
"NO! Parker you can't watch. Nate said be at the bar by six."
"If you're not going to have sex, make me breakfast." She demanded.
Eliot rolled his eyes as Quinn snickered against his neck.
"Fine, but you have to let me out of bed."
She was out of bed and headed toward the guest bathroom before Eliot finished groaning from the thief using his ribs as a launch pad.
"At least she didn't bring Hardison."
"Shut up. You keep that up, and it's no breakfast for you." Eliot growled as he rolled to his feet.
The younger hitter was still laughing as Eliot shut the bathroom door.
Easing the door to McRory's open so the bell didn't ring, Parker sidled up to Hardison while Quinn slipped to the hacker's right putting his back to the wall, allowing him to watch the door and the room. Eliot motioned to the waitress for a beer as he continued to where Nate and Tara sat at a table in the middle of the room. A frown flickered across the rugged face when he saw he'd have to sit with his back to the door.
Quinn sipped his beer, relegating Hardison's attempt to explain vacations to Parker into the background as he watched Eliot try to relax while Nate sorted through file folders.
Watching and reading people was part of what made him good at his job. When you're standing in a room full of muscle heads you had to know which one was likely to strike first. Whoever said the eyes were the window to the soul must have been a retrieval specialist.
When the whispers told him that Eliot had reappeared in Boston a year after their dance in the airport hangar, Quinn had made a point of traveling through Logan International. Like old west gunfighters, retrieval specialists were constantly taking out the competition. Reputation was everything in this business, and when Sterling had hired him he'd been stung when the insurance cop and looked him up and down like a piece of meat.
"Since I can't get Eliot Spencer for this job … I suppose you'll do. See that you live up to your reputation, Mr. Quinn."
His own frustration has boiled over during their fight when the older man kept getting up.
"Why won't you stay down?!" He'd shouted.
Eliot had given him a red painted smile, two broken ribs, and left him unconscious on the hangar floor with a concussion. Quinn decided it was time to learn what made Spencer tick.
Eliot Spencer was his most fascinating case study to date. There were so many secrets hidden behind those pale eyes. Getting into Spencer's bed was just the icing on his cake.
Quinn straightened from his slouch when he saw Nate kick Eliot's ankle for flirting with the waitress. Since Sophie went walkabout, the mastermind spent an obsessive amount of time trying to control his remaining team.
Just as Eliot was about to retaliate for both the bruised ankle and the scolding, Nate headed to the bar with his coffee cup. Quinn couldn't hear Tara's words, but he definitely heard Eliot's distinctive growl.
"I'm not an idiot … Tara."
The blonde leaned closer to the retrieval specialist. Her eyes widened at Eliot's growl.
"Drinkin's not a problem it's a symptom."
Eliot frowned and the blonde quickly vacated his personal space. Quinn looked up when the bell rang over the door. Time seemed to slow as he recognized the IYS cop, James Sterling. This was going to get ugly. He started to move, but Hardison and Parker blocked his path. Hearing the bell, Nate looked up and locked eyes with his former partner.
"Eliot I'm going to ask you not to do anything violent."
Tara looked back and forth between the men.
"What? … What are you talking about? You know I only use violence as … As a … As a … As an appropriate response."
"Hello, Nate." Sterling stood where he thought he was out of Eliot's reach.
The world stopped. Quinn heard the growl, saw a blue and white blur as Eliot spun and was on Sterling quick as flies on steaming shit. The corners of his mouth quirked up as he settled back against the wall. Maybe he'd pick up a few pointers. He still hadn't figured out how Eliot beat him while sporting a concussion and two broken ribs.
Hardison grabbed the bartender, and Parker's face lit up like it was Christmas and the Queen was giving away the Crown Jewels. Hardison was about to be one lucky bastard. Parker would probably be dragging him off to some dark corner as soon as Eliot finished choking out Sterling. The expression on Hardison's face said he was just as turned on as Parker. Damn if this bunch wasn't a bit bent, but they had a point. Watching the artistry that was Eliot at work had him at half-mast moving rapidly toward erect. Hardison wasn't the only one getting lucky later.
The Leverage team gathered around the table where Eliot was choking the insurance cop. Quinn heard the word Maggie as he peeked over Parker's head.
"Get him upstairs." Nate ground out as Eliot hauled Sterling across the bar to the back stairs. Quinn tagged along fascinated at getting the opportunity to observe 'the nastiest crew this side of the Atlantic.'
Sitting at the kitchen bar, Quinn had an excellent view of everyone. Parker and Hardison would look to Eliot before Nate as Sterling briefed the team. Eliot sat apart from everyone, telling Quinn he didn't trust Tara, and made the younger man wonder what the team dynamic had been like before Sophie left. Hardison's voice jerked him from his thoughts.
"Guys, we gotta book it ... Our flight to Kiev leaves in three hours." Hardison reminded them.
Parker threw a passport at Eliot.
"Hang on … I … You … You … I'm not working next to this guy." Eliot's tone was adamant.
"You don't have to … I'll work with him. You have a different job."Nate looked from Sterling to Eliot.
"You're the retrieval specialist … Retrieve my wife from jail. Let's go."
Nate and Sterling stayed at the condo while the rest of the team scattered to meet later at the airport. When Quinn slid into the truck beside Eliot, blue-grey eyes blazed at his presence.
"Where do you think you're going?"
"To the airport. I have a job in Turkey." He held up his plane ticket. "I could put it off for a few days … If you'd like." Whiskey colored eyes twinkled as he tweaked the wolf's tail.
Eliot's response was a growl and the squeal of tires as the old pick-up headed for the airport. Quinn hoped to finish his job quick so he could catch up with Eliot before he left Kiev. There was some unfinished business Quinn wanted to close out, and having a retrievalist of Eliot's reputation would make things go so much smoother.
The hotel maid blushed furiously at the handsome man with the ponytail that slipped her twenty dollars American as he plucked a couple towels from her cart.
"I'm here to surprise moye kokhanets (my lover)." Quinn gave the maid a wink and a grin.
She let him into Eliot's room where he proceeded to pick the lock on the adjoining door. Parker always insisted her room be next to Eliot's ... Even after she'd started rooming with Hardison. Finding the hacker's gear, he rummaged through his toys until he found a box of ear buds. When everything was put back the way he found it, he went back to Eliot's room, took a shower, ordered room service and turned on the ear bud while he waited for the crew to return to hotel. His breath stopped at what he heard.
"Chernov." Eliot's voice was low.
*Chernov could be a nasty piece of work if he thought he had the upper hand.*
"I got this one." Tara sounded smug.
"Really. What're you going to say to him … 'Cause we got no cover story … No background on this cat …"
"Okay. That's it then. I won't say anything." Tara quipped. "Really. Not one word. Just when he turns around and looks at you … Do that thing with your eyes that scares people."
"What? I don't … Know … What you're talking about."
"Ooohhh you know exactly what I'm talking about." Tara teased.
Eliot's dismissive growl was that last thing Quinn heard before he was interrupted by a knock on the door.
Quinn made sure he was in full sight when the knob quietly turned on the door adjoining Eliot and Parker's rooms. The stealth being used told the younger man he'd disturbed something when either he or the maid had opened one of the doors. Whatever was disturbed had sent Eliot into protector mode. Quinn would have never known Eliot was there if he hadn't been watching. Seeing Quinn … Eliot relaxed ... Slightly.
At that word, Parker darted around Eliot and pounced knocking the air from his lungs.
"Why are you here?" Eliot crossed his arms over his chest.
Parker was still using him as a trampoline.
"Winner, winner, chicken dinner." Quinn wheezed. "Decided to come watch the professionals ... Maybe learn something from the 'old man'."
"He can babysit … I mean … Protect Hardison in the van." Parker bounced excitedly on Quinn's ribs.
"Only if you stop bouncing on his ribs so he can breathe, Parker." Eliot leaned against the door jam, grinning.
A quick change of clothes and Eliot herded the youngest members of the team into the van while Nate and Tara rode with Sterling. Once everyone was inside the Embassy, Quinn looked at the hacker.
"Do you think this thing smells like cabbage?"
Hardison laid his head against his keyboard. "Somebody better bring me some canapés." He grumbled.
Quinn tuned out the other voices to listen for Eliot's. He wanted to be ready if they needed an extra hand. Besides this was like a master's class.
"Nate, he's hired some local security on the payroll … Watch yourself."
Quinn listened to Eliot and Hardison work to find the egg. He was beginning to understand why Eliot stayed with this bunch. They could be as annoying as hell, but it sure cut down on time spent and the chance of being compromised having the con moving at a real time pace.
"Alright, Parker, they just shut off the feed to the egg room. Okay. Now, whoever is in that room is going to be coming out." Eliot warned.
"I can't get past him." Parker hissed.
"I'm out of position." Tara sounded off.
"Me, too." Eliot added.
He was moving toward the van door when they heard the sound of a drunken Sterling distracting the guard.
"I've got the package." Parker sighed.
They all breathed a sigh of relief at her words. Quinn chuckled at Hardison causing feedback to cut off the lecturing harangue coming from Sterling as he and Parker left the Embassy. Eliot and Tara continued to search for Nate until security began eyeing them suspiciously … They regrouped at the IYS offices.
"Mr. Quinn." Sterling arched an eyebrow at the younger man, "You're hanging about with the man that beat you unconscious?"
"That was business." Quinn shrugged.
"Seriously?" His answer seemed to agitate Sterling.
"You use them." Quinn sneered.
The ringing of the phone was all that saved Sterling from the beat down he was heading toward.
"That's Nate's cell."Hardison started to type.
When the call ended, Sterling pulled out his phone and started to dial.
"Wait … What are you doing?" Tara asked.
"Calling the police." Sterling looked at the grifter.
Eliot snatched the phone from his hand.
"We're not calling the cops. Two hostages means they can kill one to make a point." He growled.
An uneasy silence fell over the room. Three sets of wide eyes turned on Eliot. Quinn was stupefied. He thought he knew everything about Eliot's career. His information had come mainly from other people in their line of work, and former clients, but there were always stories, rumors, and whispers in the dark about Eliot Spencer. None of them had mentioned him doing kidnap and rescue. The first thing Quinn was doing when he got a minute alone was calling an old contact who worked in that sector.
"Alright." Eliot's tone stopped the speculation. "There are three types of calls we can get next. One ... Amateur ... Cash and a dump site. Number two ... Professional ... That's wire transfers and multiple drop-offs, and three ... Targeted."
Eliot kept stealing looks at Sterling. All this sub-text between him and the IYS investigator was beginning to make Quinn's skin crawl.
"Targeted toward us?" Hardison asked.
"No. Towards a specific ransom demand." He looked at the egg. "Not cash."
"You're not giving away a nine million dollar egg on a hunch." Sterling yelled.
"It might be their only chance." Eliot talked over the older man.
"Let me run this." Sterling insisted, looking at the others for support. "We'll track the calls find out whomever it is … Let the police in on what we've found …"
Eliot turned away and walked to stand with his teammates.
"Sterling, I'm the retrieval specialist. That's my job." Hands on hips, he dared Sterling to argue.
Quinn watched Tara throw a look questioning Parker about Eliot's ability. The thief glared back at the grifter. Tara looked at Sterling. Deciding Eliot was the lesser of two evils she kept her mouth shut.
"You're friends lives hang in the balance, and you're going to take your cues off a punch-up artist instead of me?" He slammed the lid shut on the egg. "Call me when you need me. 'Cause you will need me."He stalked off in a huff.
Quinn wanted to follow Sterling out of the office and beat him just to watch him bleed for causing the hard, dead expression on Eliot's face, but instead he headed to the nearest restaurant for food, coffee and the tea Eliot always drank when he was in the Ukraine.
Getting off the elevator with bags of food, he heard the sounds of Nate bickering with Maggie. They must be watching the proof of life Eliot would have demanded before agreeing to any exchange. The kidnapper must not have been watching the time because when Eliot cut the call, Hardison was smirking. He'd found the kidnapper's location.
Looking through the glass walls into the conference room, seeing the worry and tension on the team's faces ... Seeing nothing on Eliot's face, Quinn stopped. What was he doing … Why was he even here? He could be on a beach full of scantily clad hard bodies the only thing on his mind the arrival of his next beer, and which tanned beauty to coax into warming his bed. He was smarter, quicker, better looking. Wasn't the only reason he was fucking Eliot was to learn what made Eliot Spencer top of the retrieval specialist heap so he could knock him off?
He'd purposely flown into Logan ... Purposely gone to McRory's. If that ill conceived job he'd contracted from Sterling had taught the younger hitter anything, it was that Eliot took the protection of 'his' people very seriously. Yet here he was, Mr. Fuck'emandleave'em Quinn, on his off time, voluntarily playing gofer because he wanted to lighten his lover's worry.
First reaction to this realization was to drop his packages on the table and run straight to the airport and to keep running until he forgot Eliot Spencer and all the things the older man caused him to feel. Second reaction was stubbornness. Nobody told Mr. Quinn where to go or what to do unless they were paying a very high price. There was no profit here for him. The only thing here was hot sex, great food, and the possibility of one day standing on the opposite side of a job from Eliot.
Watching the people inside the conference room, Quinn convinced himself he needed turn around and hop a plane to Boston, grab his things from Eliot's apartment and head out for places he hadn't thought about in months. Then he made a mistake.
Feeling eyes on him, Quinn looked up from where he'd been staring at the door, and was captured by eyes the color of winter. As he stared transfixed, winter changed to spring when Eliot saw him at the door, his arms full of food and drinks. Walking over to meet him, Eliot reached to take some of his burden pausing to rest his forehead against his.
"Thank you." He said quietly.
Straightening his shoulders, Eliot turned back to the room.
"Eat first then Parker and Quinn will check out the building, Hardison get to hacking that building, Tara, cause as much chaos with Lundy's transportation as possible without getting caught. I will deal with Sterling and our kidnapper."
Quinn felt the heart he had hardened on the other side of the glass, melt as Eliot's assigning him to watch over Parker said, 'I love and trust you', louder than any words.
Maybe Boston wasn't so bad ... Maybe there were still some things he could learn from the world's top retrieval specialist, who let the world's craziest thief braid his hair ... With beads, and made sure this team of misfits, including himself, survived from one job to the next.
When Quinn made it down from the roof with Parker's rig, Lundy was leaving the remains of his stomach in the trashcan, Parker giving him her unique brand of comforting.
"It's okay. First bomb's always the hardest."She thumped him on the shoulder and handed him a rag.
Parker rolled her eyes as the others tried not to laugh. Nate tried to make light of the situation, but Maggie refused to be drawn into their usual squabbling. Seeing he wasn't going to get a rise out of his ex-wife, he turned to Eliot for a sit-rep.
Hardison finished explaining about Eliot having him speed up the elevators so he could stop them long enough for Parker to exchange the bomb for the egg. He'd just finished when Tara came around the corner.
"They do what we thought?" Eliot asked.
"Oh yeah. Ran right to their little Embassy car and headed straight for the airport fast as they could." Tara smirked as she tossed the diplomatic license plates on the floor.
It only took a few minutes for Eliot to explain the plan to the mastermind.
"It's 101 man, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out."
Eliot looked over Hardison to make sure the younger man was unhurt, and to forestall any snarky comments.
"You know, people underestimate you, Eliot." Maggie turned on the charm.
Quinn and Nate ground their teeth at her flirtatious tone and body language. She'd had a soft spot for Eliot since they first met, when he played Adam Sinclair, art appraiser.
"That's kind of the point." Nate frowned at his ex-wife.
Seeing the expression on Quinn's face, Nate broke the moment before the young enforcer could move to stake his claim on Eliot. The moment was further broken by Lundy looking for the Faberge egg.
"To get Sterling to let us use the egg, he made some additions to the plan." Eliot sneered as he began herding everyone into the elevator.
It was time to get out of Kiev while Sterling was causing a distraction.
The door had barely closed behind them when Eliot pinned him to the wall and began relieving him of his clothes. Quinn was absolutely feeling like a wolf's chew toy as Eliot kissed and nipped his upper body while dragging him to the bedroom … He didn't resist.
It seemed like hours later they lay sweaty, sticky and satiated. The comforter was absolutely headed to the laundry. Quinn's attention was pulled from the sad condition of the comforter by Eliot lifting his head off his chest and looking him in the eye.
"I just want to say thank you for coming to Kiev and havin' my back." He paused and looked away, biting his lip. "When I looked up and you were standing there with food for the team it … It … Meant a lot … You, believin' in me. It made me realize how much I've come to care for you, and that I want you by my side."
Whiskey brown eyes went wide at the older man's confession. As the silence stretched, Eliot turned away to hide his hurt at Quinn's silence. That broke Quinn's stupor. With a quick twist, he had Eliot pinned to the bed.
"Ah … Ah … Ah… My turn to talk." He reached down and stole a kiss.
"Standing at the conference room door, I had a bit of dilemma. I kept asking myself, what the hell was I doing? That one day I would look up and we'd be on opposite sides of a job. Then you looked at me like I was the best thing you'd ever seen, then you gave me Parker to protect, and I was good and caught."
He stole another kiss before dragging Eliot to the shower.
They'd gone down to the bar to grab a bite to eat when the newscaster began talking about Sterling going to work for Interpol. The piece ended with loud complaints.
"We didn't even get paid." Tara groused.
"Nope." Hardison confirmed.
"I hate this guy."
"Now ..." Eliot tapped his beer bottle against the blonde grifter's, "You're part of the team." He said following Quinn back to their booth as Tara gave him a considering look.
"They really don't know you, do they?" Quinn asked as they watched Nate and Maggie's goodbye.
"For the most part ... Nate does, Parker's got an inkling." Eliot shrugged. "No one's ever asked."
"And if I asked?" Quinn asked coyly.
"Just call me Scheherazade." Eliot said.
~ Fini ~