Chapter 1

So this is an alternative to the Walkaway Job, from the view that Nate left the team instead of them forcing him to leave. I hope you enjoy.

He sat alone contemplating his next move. They were all asleep, even Eliot. It had been a long harrowing last few weeks and he had come close to losing them. Too close. He had stood and watched as a doctor worked on Sophie and she had nearly not made it. Eliot had been shot, Hardison and Parker also had not escaped without injury. His mind was working overtime. He held a glass of whiskey in his hand which he sipped slowly as he thought about their situation and what came next.

The job was done. It was over they had won and the danger had passed. But this, this thing they did, it was getting harder. Not because the jobs were getting harder. No, he thought, they were the same as before, high risk and high danger. So what had changed, why was this so hard for him?

It had been a little over three years that this team had been together. They had been through a lot and after the job that had got him arrested and the team almost caught, it had seemed to get harder and harder to do this job. Not because he did not enjoy it. Nor he thought, because he was not doing something he believed in. He was a thief now. He had admitted as much to Sterling and them. He knew they had heard, they all had coms in. That was the first time he really knew, had admitted to them, they were family and he would do anything for these people. They were no longer his team. They were his family, his only family, and he had told them as much that day. Then there was Sophie. He loved her. He had loved her for a long time. Not that he would admit that openly, and she had nearly died. Not because she was off grifting and doing her thing, but because of this thing that he had brought her into. They had all nearly died because of it. Died because he had made a mistake, because he had failed. But that is what made this situation so damn hard for him. The last time he had loved a family he had lost them. He was scared to lose them. To lose a family again. Like Sam. Like Maggie. He knew, deep in his heart he would not be able to come back from that. He also knew he did not want to go through it. In their line, in their profession, the people they were, it was going to happen. So what did he do? This job had brought it home for him and now he was contemplating his future.

"Hey Nate you OK" Eliot's soft voice cut though his thoughts. He was worried about the Mastermind. He knew Sophie getting hurt really shook the man and the rest of the team taking a few hits had not gone down well with him either. Add to that he had not walked away unscathed either and the drinking. He was not sure that the man's head was in a good place. Ever since the end of the job Nate had been distant, not only from him but the rest, even Sophie.

"Fine." Nate replied quietly. "Shouldn't you be resting?"

"I'm good." Eliot replied taking a seat opposite the man and looking at him intently in the dimly lit environment.

Nate raised his eyebrows but said nothing taking another sip of his whiskey.

"You shouldn't be drinking when you are taking pills." Eliot said softly then waited for the backlash that he usually got when he made those kind of comments.

"Yeah." Nate nodded taking another sip of whiskey and closing his eyes against the look of worry he could see in the Hitter's eyes.

"Talk to me Nate."

"Nothing to talk about Eliot. Jobs done. All is good." Nate said not wanting to get into a conversation just then. He knew Eliot sensed something was wrong. He knew these people so well. His mind drifted back to the first job they had done and his statement that he and Eliot were not friends. Well that still stood today. He was not friends with this man, he was family and he would do anything for him and that scared the living hell out of him.

"Ok". Eliot said standing up and moving towards their kitchen. He needed some coffee, he was done sleeping for tonight. His stomach was churning. It was a feeling he hated. A feeling that told him trouble was coming.

About two hours later the rest of the house started to stir. First Hardison and Parker made their appearances, both heading for the kitchen for a much needed cup of coffee, Sophie emerged about a half hour later.

"Hey Nate." Sophie said as he took her seat at the table next to the Mastermind.

"Hey Sophie. How you feeling today?" He asked looking at her intently.

"Fine."

Nate raised his eyebrows slightly and his eyes told her he did not believe her.

"Ok so I am a little sore still." Sophie confessed. "How are you doing?"

"Fine." Nate said rising to get himself another Irish.

"So we are clear." Hardison said as he took his seat at the table. "I have us tickets on a plane home tomorrow."

The team all nodded at his words, they were all happy to be going home and putting this job behind them.

"I have to take a detour Hardison." Nate said looking at the Hacker.

"What?" Hardison asked looking quizzically at Nate. "Where we going?"

"No Hardison. I said I have to take a detour." Nate said. "I will meet up with you guys later."

"Where you going Nate?" Sophie asked softly.

"It's… personal."

"Ok well has it got anything to do with…"

"No Sophie I said it is personal, can we leave it at that please. I also have a life outside of this team." Nate said a little more harshly than he meant to.

"Fine." Sophie said a little taken aback by not only Nates words but his demeanour. Something had changed after they had closed out the job. Something in Nate had changed and it scared her.

"Need tickets to where?" Hardison asked, hoping that if he made the travel arrangements they would at least know where he was going.

"No thanks." Nate smiled at the Hacker. They liked to keep tabs on him he knew. Not only because of the jobs but because of the drinking.

Eliot watched the little scene play out and that feeling in his gut got stronger. Something was not right and Nate was going to do something none of them liked, he could feel it. But what? The job was done. The mark was in jail and they had no new job lined up. So if it was not a job then it was personal and Eliot thought that scared him a little more than it being a job.