AN: Hello again! Long time no publish, but I guess I mostly write when life IRL isn't that great so that's not altogether bad. Yet, after a crazy year at work, I'm now on sick-leave due to burnout for a while, and as such watch a lot of TV and is also writing more again. I have a few ideas I'm throwing around, and some that I've started on but has yet to finish. After watching Lethal Weapon (and reading among others the fic mentioned below) this sort of wrote itself in the course of a day. I hand it over to you after what is probably not enough proof-reading, but the Leverage/Lethal Weapon crossover section could really use more works, and I figured I better post before I decide it's too bad to be put out there.
If you have not watched Lethal Weapon it has Clayne Crawford playing a cop (Martin Riggs) who's moved to LA after losing his wife and unborn child on the way to the maternity ward.
If you have not watched Leverage you should definitely do so, it's my favorite show of all times. It has Clayne Crawford as the side character Quinn, who's a hitter, same as Eliot.
This work is inspired by Making Friends with the Wolves of the Night by DarkqueenKat, the first chapter of which just sort of continued in my head into this. It's from there I got the thing with Riggs leaving messages for Eliot, only he gets them much later due to hospitalization. Credit should go where credit is due, and I can recommend you read it! (It can be found on AO3)
It's the end of shift and Roger has his partner by his side as they walk to the employee parking lot. The day has been uneventful to the point where it's almost been slow. Calm days, in a city like LA, are far in between. Even further apart since he got Riggs for partner. Roger is certain that he's had more shots fired at him, and by him, in the last months than in his whole career before that, and it's been a long career. Not to mention the explosions, jumping out windows and off building, car crashes, and other similar crap that Riggs draws to him like bees to honey.
Afterwards Roger can't remember what it was that they were talking about. Probably it was a version of their usual bickering that could so efficiently drive the rest of the office mad. Riggs freezes. He's in the middle of a sentence when all movement just ceases – including his mouth which Roger never thought could happen.
"See," Roger says, "I told you it's…" He throws a look over his shoulder at Riggs and falls silent himself.
Roger has never claimed to be the most perceptive guy. He's not great at reading other people's emotions and is even worse at reacting correctly to them. He knows it makes him insensitive sometimes. He jokes when he shouldn't and he pushes in all the wrong moments and none of the right ones. But he's gotten better at understanding the clusterfuck of mixed up signals that is his partner, and right now something is clearly wrong.
Riggs gets obnoxious and loud when he wants to hide something. It's annoying enough that it works most of the time. Riggs smiles bullshit smiles and says provocative things, and gets a special glow in his eyes when he throws himself into situations that might kill him. Most of the time the sadness and desperation is clearly visible through the cracks in his façade. Roger has only seen those underlying feelings full on a handful of moments, and each time it's ached in a place deep inside him.
One thing however Riggs does not; he doesn't go blank. Not until now.
"Eliot Spencer." There's something off about Riggs' tone, but Roger can't quite pinpoint what it is. Instead he turns around to see what his partner sees and finds a man standing not fifteen feet from them.
"I got your messages." The man has his hands in his jeans' pockets and looks completely at ease but after years in the field Roger knows not everything here is what it seems. He just doesn't know what it is yet.
"You got my messages?" There's disbelief in Riggs' voice. "Fuck, it's been over nine months and now you just show up and tell me you've got my messages?" Rage is taking over.
"There was a job, okay? I got laid up in hospital. Checking messages where quite far down on my list. I heard them five months ago and then it took some time to locate you." Spencer tosses his head so his hair gets out of his face, clearly annoyed. "I'm sorry." He says and it's softer, his body language back to being placating.
Riggs laughs, and it's the most broken sound Roger has heard from him yet. It makes him want to get Riggs out of here, but there is no time for him to intervene. "You're sorry?" Riggs says. "This is all your fault." He spits it out like venom. Spencer takes it without even blinking.
"I told you I'd kill you and you should have listened. You and that whole team of yours." Riggs is out of Roger's reach before he can catch him, gun being pulled from his pants and swinging towards the man who might be a stranger to Roger but clearly isn't to Riggs.
"Riggs!" Roger gets out. His partner is a loose cannon, but this is too much. They're in the LAPD parking lot for God's sake, and Riggs sounds awfully ready to follow through with the threat. He didn't have to worry. In a split second Eliot Spencer goes from still, reassuringly calm to deadly calm and in action.
Roger hasn't even reached them before Spencer has taken Riggs' gun from him and have the man pinned to the ground. A knee holds Riggs in place as the magazine is released, the bullet in the barrel is removed, and the pieces goes in different directions.
Spencer looks at Roger as he pulls his own gun and aim it at him. "Point that somewhere else." It's closer to growl than actual speech and the eyes that meets Roger's have a steely darkness in them that drives home the point that, whoever Eliot Spencer is, he's not to be taken lightly.
"Better do what he says Rog." Riggs' voice is muffled by the asphalt his face is pressed against. "Don't want you to get hurt."
Roger almost, almost, points out that he's the one with a gun here. But the way Spencer dealt with Riggs is still fresh in his mind so he concedes and shifts his aim slightly to the side of his target. The man huffs but switch his focus back to Roger's partner.
"You're drunk," Spencer says, leaning down so he has his face right next to Riggs'. "So we both knew how this was going to play out. I'm also relatively certain that you won't go after my team?" He gets no answer, which seems to be enough. "Then what's this really about, huh? You trying to rile me up? Hoping I hurt you? Kill you?"
Riggs eyes are closed in the silence after Spencer's outburst, and his face as turned away from the man as possible. Roger feels like he's watching something he shouldn't, but at the same time he cannot look away. He tells himself it's because he has to keep an eye out so his partner doesn't get himself injured.
A small sigh escapes Spencer and something about him softens. Maybe he reads the answers in Riggs' posture as easily as Roger does. "Dammit, Riggs…" The tone is far more annoyed than Roger think is appropriate, but he bites his tongue hard and keeps silent. All fight seems to have gone from his partner at the moment, and the situation feels brittle. This Eliot Spencer, whoever he is, is the first connection Roger sees that's from before the accident, and maybe that means he can reach out to Riggs in ways none of them can.
"Eliot, please?" Riggs says and Roger knows he keeps his voice low to keep his words between him and Eliot, but it carries. "I can't do it myself… You owe me one." There are tears trailing down Riggs' nose and falling to form a small puddle on the asphalt. Roger feels like he's taken a punch to the guts.
A hand leaves its grip as Spencer rubs it across his eyes. "Anything but that." He says. "You know I can't do that." He leans back slightly and lets Riggs go.
Roger watches as his partner throws himself into a new attack at Spencer. It's dealt with as efficiently as the first one. This time instead of throwing him to the ground Spencer locks Riggs into a clinching hold tight against his own body. It looks very, very much like a big – uncomfortable - hug to Roger, and he wonders how much of that was planned. Still, God knows Martin Riggs isn't one to allow hugs freely and he's fighting this one with all his might but his arms are trapped in between the two bodies.
"Okay, stop. Stop!" Spencer shakes Riggs. "I won't hurt you, and you won't get out of this one in the shape you're in so bloody stop. Do me a favor instead and explain to me how you came to the conclusion any of this is my fault?"
It's unclear whether it's the question or the tone that gets through to Riggs, but he stops struggling and draws a breath.
"It was the job, okay? The fucking job!" The words wrench out of Riggs like raging beasts. Roger can't see his partners face; his forehead pressed against Spencer's shoulder and his unkept hair falling down to conceal his profile. The fact that he sounds angry again is in a way a relief.
"I walked away from it thinking maybe things could be different. That if you… And I found I couldn't do it no more, I wanted out, I wanted…" Roger can hear the shudder in Riggs' breath in the sudden silence.
"So you walked away, and you went to Texas? Home?" It's the first time since he said he was sorry that Eliot's voice is soft, warm. "But leaving the life doesn't mean leaving the memories, does it?" Roger is beginning to understand that this is about before, about coming home from serving overseas. He's suddenly very happy he never signed up.
"She saved me…" Riggs says. "And it was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, and I came to the hospital, and they…" The voice fades out.
"I know, I'm sorry."
Roger thinks he should walk away now, but he doesn't dare to move, to do anything that might draw attention to himself.
"What if I'd been home? What if I'd been driving?"
"It was nine days early, you couldn't know that. And I read the report, the only difference would be that you'd be dead too." Roger realizes that Spencer, for all that he hasn't been around for any of this, apparently has done his homework more thoroughly than Roger himself has. The details about the accident are still unclear to him, and he didn't want to invade Riggs' privacy. Maybe he should have.
"Sounds like a better deal," Riggs mutters.
"I know." Spencer's eyes are closed and he's hard to read, but Roger thinks there are more being said than the words he can hear.
"What if it'd been them?" Roger can't tell if Riggs throws out the question to escape and evade or because he genuinely wants to know.
"If I can't be the first to go I just hope it doesn't happen because of me. With what we do…" Spencer takes a breath. "I would..." He shakes his head, changes direction. "But I realize that's not so different to how it was before them. So it'll break me, but only because they put me together enough to break, and I can't wish that undone for anything."
Riggs, Roger realizes, is crying. He can only see it in the way his shoulders move and hear it in the hitch in his breaths. He's still locked in tightly by Spencer, who gives no impression he's going to let him loose anytime soon. People are moving about the parking lot around them, but they seem to understand not to get to close. Roger thinks he has never been so grateful for anything ever, or at least since he woke up from his heart surgery and got to meet Harper for the first time.
The silence stretches and Roger feels uncomfortable standing here, seeing this. He knows Riggs probably needs to cry, it's crossed his mind once or twice as a healthier alternative than his regular coping mechanisms. Roger even has a few scenarios thought out for how to act if his partner breaks. None of them can be applied here. This is Spencer's show, and as everlastingly grateful as Roger is about that, it also makes him feel very much like the third wheel. He still stays, because he doesn't want to break the spell, and because he needs to know that Riggs will be okay.
"Did you know Nate and Sophie got married?" The shift in conversation throws Roger, but far be it for him to question anything Spencer does at this point. "He got down on one knee and everything, but Parker had to remind him to say the actual words." Spencer at least smiles at that, and meets Roger's eyes for a moment as he does so.
"They got out, and left us kids to run the business." Roger can't help but wonder what it is Spencer do, it's a bit hard to piece together.
"So who's in charge without Nate around?" Riggs has stopped crying and his voice is lighter again, more like it usually is.
"Parker." It's met with a snort if laughter.
"She's crazy." Riggs says.
"Yet surprisingly good at it." Eliot's lost most of the softness and Roger is beginning to find it easier to breathe. "She told me to make you chili, and chocolate pancakes, said it makes the bad days better."
"She doubts my ability to take care of myself? I cook you know." Riggs tries pushing against Eliot's hold, without success.
Roger sees his cue to make his presence known, should either party have forgotten it. "No, you don't. Most I've ever seen you do is break into my kitchen and eat stuff straight out of jars. You, my man, do not cook."
"Maybe not when you see it." Riggs says.
"Hardison," Eliot cuts in before they can get the discussion really going, "tells me to thank you for throwing Chaos off that platform and into the water. He found it on one of the security camera feeds and still has it saved on a hard drive somewhere." Riggs laughs again.
"Look man," All joke leaves Spencer's voice. "I'm not saying you can ever replace the family you lost. They are gone. But it's possible to add new people. There's two empty chairs at our table if you want in, but I'm getting the feeling that you might be liking the weather here better than the Portland one?"
Spencer looks at Roger as he speaks, and Roger gets him loud and clear. As if Riggs being a part of either the team at work or Roger's family was ever a question to anyone but Riggs.
"Yeah man, rain seriously messes up my hair." Spencer shakes his head and tells Riggs his hair is a lost cause.
"Are you gonna let me go?" Riggs asks. "My necks killing me."
"You done fighting me?" Spencer throws back instead of answering.
"Sure, whatever." Roger watches as his partner rolls his shoulders and turns his head from side to side as he's let loose. Then in one smooth motion he sweeps his leg out and drives a hand into Spencer's ribcage to drop him to the ground. He lands on his back making with the air rushing out in an "oumph".
"What the hell man?" The anger from Spencer seems to be mostly for show.
Riggs smirks at Spencer. "That wasn't fighting you, that was payback. Now get off your lazy ass and come meet my partner. Rog, meet Eliot Spencer." Riggs waves at the man on the ground as he rises muttering about being "too old for this shit" and how he'll "show Riggs what payback means as soon as they're out of sight from the police headquarters".
"Eliot," Riggs goes on, "meet Roger Murtuagh, my partner." To Roger's surprise Spencer doesn't go for Riggs but offers his hand instead.
"Nice meeting you." Eliot sounds like he means it. "Call me Eliot."
"Eh, Rog," Riggs breaks in, pulling his hair from his face. "Could we maybe borrow your kitchen? Since Eliot's making me chili?"
"What about your kitchen?" Eliot asks, turning to Riggs and raising his eyebrows.
Roger smiles at the question. "Oh, he doesn't have one," he says before his partner has a chance to answer. "He lives in a trailer with nothing but beer and moldy stuff in the fridge."
"Seriously?" Eliot says, still turned to Riggs. The object of his focus makes a face at him. "Seriously? What's wrong with you?"
His partner laughs at the question, dispelling Roger's initial worry that they'd derail back to fighting. Or worse; into emotional territory. Instead it's somehow decided that Eliot will in fact be making chili in the Murtuaghs' kitchen, and Riggs tries to make that count as if it's him making them dinner.
The chili turns out to be amazing, as are the pancakes the next day. Eliot goes home shortly after that, but Roger thinks that maybe, just maybe, things might turn for the better soon enough.