AN: So Leverage isn't mine but I sure like playing in their sandbox. This story comes after; Monster, Wolf Moon, and Malédiction du Loupgarou. It could be read independently but if you want to know when Eliot became a werewolf and how the team found out you might want to start with my first two stories. Most of this story will be a memory and that part would come after Wolf Moon but before the start of the show.
This is a hurt/comfort story. There will be definite warnings on chapter 2. The rest of this story shouldn't need any sort of special warning and I will include a minor summary in the AN at the top of chapter 3 if you should decide to skip chapter 2.
Ewen is a character I introduced in Wolf Moon.
Ms. Teo is a character that I first introduced in Malédiction du Loupgarou. This is the back story on how Eliot met her.
Thinking of you.
Hardison spotted Eliot headed for the stairs up to their personal rooms above the pub. "Hey, man. Package came for you today. I set it on your bed." Usually He would have just kept it with the other mail but the label on the box had Ms. Theodosia Theriot's return address and had a handle with care sticker on it. Hardison figured that anything Ms. Teo sent that said handle with care on it might be something Eliot would want to look at in private first. It had been a few months since their job in Louisiana but Hardison would never forget or underestimate Ms. Teo.
"Thanks." Eliot called back as he took the steps three at a time.
Eliot found the small box on the end of his bed. He took out his pocket knife and carefully slit the tape holding the end of the box closed. The box was so light it almost felt empty. Tilting the box to the side Eliot held his hand out as a small cloth bag slid out into his palm. The bag was no more than four inches long, made of a rough black cloth that had grey and purple thread embroidered in several small shapes including, a cross, an eye, and several more complicated symbols that Eliot knew had ties to voodoo. The bag was tied shut with a purple string. Hanging from the string was: a blue bead that had a white dot with a black center on one side, several small cowrie shells, and two small sticks; one stick for healing and protection, and one stick for death or protection from the dead. The scent of several dried herbs drifted up out of the bag. Eliot wasn't very familiar with Voodoo or any of its variants but he recognized a gris-gris bag when he saw it.
Carefully setting the little bag to the side Eliot looked in the box and pulled out the letter that Ms. Teo had included. Flipping open the page that had been folded in half Eliot read the familiar flowing scrawl.
The bastard is dead. I have sent you one of his teeth in the gris-gris. I know you don't believe in the power but he did. Regardless, it brings this old lady comfort to know that, that darkness has been removed from the world. I hope that you are well and that those lovely people of yours are in fine health.
All my love and affection,
"Who's 'The bastard'?" The sound of Parker's voice startled him. He looked up over his shoulder at Parker who was hanging upside down just outside his doorway.
On the job
*A few years before Eliot meets Nate and the team.*
Eliot looked around at the dingy apartment in Bangkok. He'd rented it out for a month and still had a week left. His last job had ended early due to the mark trying to stiff him on the payment by calling in the authorities. He'd kept the merchandise and broken, well, quite a lot of the client who had tried to betray him. Fingers, knees, jaw, and a couple of ribs, should be enough of a reminder not only for that client but also for future clients that it wasn't a good idea to try to screw with Eliot Spencer.
Now that he had been free of Moreau for a while and was rebuilding his reputation, as a Retrieval Specialist, Eliot tried hard not to kill anyone when working a job. He had made it clear that he was no longer available for wet work and wouldn't be a part of a crew, even temporarily, that killed people to get a job done just because it was faster and easier. That didn't mean he didn't hurt people on a job. It just meant that they would, at least, still be breathing when he left.
The buzz of his cell phone grabbed Eliot's attention. Grabbing up the phone and tapping the button to answer the call Eliot held it up to his ear. "Go."
"Spencer. I have a job for you." The deep voice of Reese Hebert slid across the speaker of Eliot's burner phone.
"What's good on the menu these days?" Eliot didn't want to discuss a possible job over the phone. There were too many risks to arranging a job with another werewolf over the phone. Besides he had only dealt with Hebert once before and while they had parted on amicable terms Eliot was leery of any Alpha as powerful as Hebert.
"I would recommend the 'New Moon Special'. Yes, just place your order at the counter like last time." Reese hung up.
The introspection of a moment ago dragged at his attention again as Eliot collected the last of his things from the apartment and put them in a bag in preparation for this new job. Sometimes Eliot wondered if maybe there was something wrong with him that it didn't really bother him that he hurt people as a regular part of his job. Maybe the part of him that would have been bothered by the violence had drowned under all the blood on his hands. Eliot knew that too much introspection just made him irritable. He'd always had a short temper but ever since he'd become a werewolf his temper and inclination toward violence had required more restraint and discipline to control. Eliot grabbed his bag and started making arrangements for a flight back to the States.
. ͽϿ Ѻ Ͼͼ .
Two layovers, and a lot of bad coffee later, Eliot found himself in the French quarter of New Orleans. It was miserably hot. He wasn't sure how anybody survived a summer in the sweltering heat and humidity. As he pulled the fabric of his t-shirt away from his chest just a bit in hopes of moving a little air over his skin he decided it was the humidity more than the heat that made summer in New Orleans so insufferable. There was a small line forming at the door to the coffee shop on St. Peter St. A few feet from the door Eliot could faintly smell werewolf underneath the heady scent of coffee and lunch items.
Eliot did his best to wait in line patiently but groups of people, all wearing too much perfume, talking too loudly, pressed together and up against him, was just about more than he could tolerate. When the middle-aged woman in front of him changed her order for the third time Eliot couldn't stop the growl of irritation.
"Well I…" The woman turned with a huffy expression on her face until she saw the scowl on Eliot's face as he glared at her. He took his sun glasses off, placed them on top of his head, cracked his knuckles and crossed his arms, Eliot kept a steady menacing look on his face. The words died in her throat. She turned back to the counter, over paid the cashier, grabbed her receipt, and hustled as far from Eliot as she could get in the small shop.
The young looking man working at the counter turned his attention to Eliot. His nametag said 'Hi my name is: Hugh'. Eliot noticed the twitch of the man's nose and the way his gazed shifted to focus just under Eliot's left ear. At this distance Eliot could tell the man was a werewolf and figured that was the reason the man wouldn't look him in the eye. Looking a wolf in the eye was tricky business.
"What can I get for you today?" The Hugh asked.
"I'll have the 'New Moon Special' and a bottled water." Eliot laid a five on the counter next to the register.
Hugh lifted the divider to allow Eliot behind the counter. Eliot followed Hugh to the back. On the way through Hugh paused by a refrigerated case and pulled out a bottle of water for Eliot. "Are you Spencer?" Hugh glanced at Eliot and away as they came to a narrow stair case.
"Yes. Hebert is expecting me." Eliot cracked the seal on the bottle and took a drink.
"Do you have any weapons on you?"
"No. You should know that I don't, if you've been a werewolf for more than two minutes." Eliot's temper was still up and he couldn't seem to stop himself from snipping at Hugh.
"I've been a wolf for over a hundred years and most of those years have been with this pack. So yes, I know that you are not carrying a knife or gun but it is my duty to protect my alpha. So, do you have any weapons on you?" Hugh looked briefly at Eliot's face but not in a way that would invited a dominance contest.
"No. I came unarmed and as weaponless as a werewolf can be. As requested." Eliot considered the many enhanced abilities that were part of being a werewolf as something that made him a weapon in and of himself.
Hugh smirked at Eliot's answer but led the way up the stair. Stopping at the door at the top of the stairs Hugh knocked three times, then twice, and waited. The door opened and Eliot glanced up at the face of the huge man at the top of the stairs.
Eliot had met Cleo before on the previous job he had done for Hebert. Just like the last time, Cleo stepped back to allow Eliot into the hall at the top of the stairs. Eliot waited a moment while Cleo silently assessed him, before Cleo led the way down the hall to Hebert's office.
Hebert greeted Eliot and they sat down at the desk to discuss the job.
. ͽϿ Ѻ Ͼͼ .
Two nights later Eliot was sitting just outside of a club that he decided he liked even less than his time as a prisoner in Afghanistan. At least when he was being held prisoner there were long stretches of solitude. No crowds brushing past him, no loud music trying to overwhelm his senses and no shifting, flashy lights that made it hard to track movement on the perimeter. Yep all things considered he preferred his time being held by terrorists in a cave over the blaring, not rock, not blues, not country, mess that was coming from the stage in this club.
Reese hadn't provided him with any solid intel only the name of his mark and a picture of the item to be acquired. So far he hadn't found a solid lead on Julian McCune. The closest thing he had to a lead was that McCune frequented this club or maybe owned it. There was something Reese wasn't telling him about the mark but Eliot hadn't felt the need to push for more details at the time. If he didn't find something soon, however, he'd go back and press Reese for whatever it was that had been left out.
When he'd asked to speak to the manager she'd told him that she didn't know McCune. There was something strange about her answer but it didn't smell of an outright lie. And that was how Eliot found himself becoming a regular despite his dislike of the place. So far he hadn't been able to find a picture or solid description and things were sitting at a stale-mate of sorts.
Eliot ordered another whiskey-neat at the bar and went back to the table near the door. A sudden burst of air rushed through the door with the newest patron. The breeze brought with it the scent of salt air, deep-fried food, car exhaust, stale beer, and sweaty humans. It made Eliot realize that there was a whole different funk that had permeated this club. At first he thought it was just the atmosphere of the place. Too many years of drunken sweaty people in a humid climate that was given to mildew of one kind or another. But the blast of air from the outside made Eliot realize that there was something else besides, use and old wood, flavoring the scent. This new realization intrigued him and while it didn't even resemble a lead at least it gave him something to figure out until a real lead presented itself.
As Eliot settled into his seat near the door puzzling over the smell of the place, a young woman with straight black hair, an outfit designed to look like a naughty catholic-school girl, and vampire fangs, approached his table. "I've seen you here the last couple of nights. You mind if I join you." She didn't wait for his response as she settled herself into the chair next to his. "I'm Missy." She gave him a flirtatious smile and played with the leather dog collar on her neck.
"Ken" Eliot nodded at her as he gave her the name he was traveling under and didn't feel a bit bad about the deception since he could smell the lie when she'd given her name. He'd noticed an abundance of twenty-somethings in this place with vampire fangs and some attempt at goth-couture. He wasn't really looking for company tonight and even if he had been 'Missy' wouldn't have been his first choice. She wasn't bad looking in her early twenties, but something about a woman that felt the need to play dress-up made him feel like he was being hit on by a child.
New Orleans was a strange place. He'd noticed the fascination with vampires and the like on his last trip and decided that maybe the little vamp girl might help him blend in a little more with the rest of the crowd here. "What are you drinking?" Eliot waived to get the attention of a passing server.
"Appletini." Missy said with a smile that showed off her fangs. Eliot couldn't really think of a girlier drink but kept a smile on his face while he ordered. "Don't you just love the 'Smash Blossoms'!" She gushed as the cacophony died down for a moment. It looked like the band, the 'Smash Blossoms' according to 'Missy', was taking a break between sets. Eliot felt something relax as the 'music' died away.
"So I take it you come here a lot?" Eliot handed the waitress a twenty and ordered another whiskey.
"Oh sure. My cousin's in the band. They play here three or four nights a week." She took a sip of her drink and ran her tongue across her teeth pausing on the tip of one fang. Eliot had to admit that her fangs were a step up from the plastic one-size-fits-all sets that were sold around Halloween but her fangs weren't quite good enough to pass for real teeth either. Again Eliot was hit with the impression that he was sitting next to a little girl playing dress up and not with a woman that would know what to do if he took her up on her flirting.
"So is your cousin a vampire too or are you the only one in your family?" Eliot finished his whiskey just as the next one arrived.
Missy giggled. "Rupert's not into the scene like I am, but that's okay."
"I've noticed a lot of vampires around here." Eliot made a show of glancing around the room.
"Well of course. This is one of the best vampire bars in The Big Easy!" She smiled and patted his shoulder running her hand down his arm.
"Really? A vampire bar?" Eliot put a little teasing into his tone but was honestly surprised that he hadn't put it together before.
"You didn't know? So what brought you in then? If it was the music my cousin will just die! They've been getting pretty good but I didn't realize it was bringing people right in off the street!" Missy practically squealed in excitement.
"I'm actually looking for a friend. Julian McCune. We lost touch a while ago but I heard he still hangs out here so I was hoping to run into him before I have to leave town." He doubted the girl would or could tell him something the manager and the wait staff hadn't.
"Oh." She glanced away from him and played with her dog collar again. This time it looked more like a nervous habit than it did an awkward form of flirting.
"Do you know him?" Eliot gently grasped the hand she'd left on the table.
"Well, Julian's a real Inconnu." Missy shuddered but pasted a bright smile on her face.
"Inconnu?" Eliot was slightly distracted by the odd terminology but didn't miss the hint of fear and disgust in Missy's scent as she thought of McCune.
"You know, an old vampire, a real traditionalist. He really believes in all the old myths and stuff and he can be pretty harsh if he doesn't like you." She shuddered and slipping her hand out of Eliot's, hugged her elbows.
"Yah he was always pretty intense." Missy's reaction to McCune made Eliot angry. Missy was a child and he didn't deal well with people who hurt children. "You wouldn't know where I could find him would you?" Eliot gave her a charming smile.
"Um well, I haven't seen him here in a while. But Jenny might know. You want me to ask her?"
"Would you do that? That would be really great." Eliot smiled at her and hoped he wasn't overplaying the sunny sweet attitude.
Missy hopped down from the tall chair and held her hand out to him. "Come on."
Eliot let her take him by the hand and lead him through the club. As they wound their way to the back Eliot noticed several small rooms that had been separated with heavy red velvet curtains. Eliot could smell a lot of scents coming from behind those curtains, food, drugs, sweat, blood, sex, and he began to wonder just where Missy was taking him. Finally Missy stopped in front of a small room at the very back of the club. Unlike the other rooms with velvet curtains the velvet curtains in this room were tied back and seemed to be putting the three people inside on display.
The small room had a heavily padded bench that ran on three sides and several large over-stuffed pillows mostly on the floor. There were two men and one woman in this little room and while nothing overtly sexual was going on Eliot still felt like they'd walked in on something. One man was sitting on one of the pillows on the floor and reclining back against the bench. He was shirtless but wearing leather pants and a black cord around his neck that had been tied to look like a noose. His short black hair was artfully mussed and his eyeliner was perfectly applied. The second man was wearing black jeans and a tight black tank. His long brown hair was pulled back in a slick tail and several gold and silver necklaces hung from his neck. He was sitting on the bench opposite the first man with his left foot braced against the first man's shin. Eliot took those two in with a quick glance but they mostly appeared as set dressing for the woman holding court in the center. She was tall and blonde with pouting pink lips. Eliot noticed the shade of her lip gloss matched perfectly the pale pink leggings that she wore. Her top was some shimmery silver material that was almost sheer in places.
"Mistress Jenny." At the sound of Missy's voice Eliot glanced at her. She had clasped her hands in front of her and bowed her head.
"And just what have you brought me?" Jenny kept a pretty expression on her face but sounded annoyed at having been interrupted.
"He is looking for Master Julian." Eliot wanted to shake his head or roll his eyes at all the Mistress and Master crap but if that's what it took to get some answers he'd try to keep his opinion to himself.
"Really?" Jenny licked her lips as she stood and stepped past the men. Standing in front of Eliot she held her chin in her left hand for a moment as though she was considering him. She dropped her hand and darted toward him suddenly. Eliot couldn't believe the speed at which she moved. She wasn't human but Eliot hadn't smelled a wolf. Before he could do anything to stop it she placed a delicate looking hand on his shoulder and with the other hand she had threaded her fingers into his hair and gotten a grip. She was stronger than any human and despite her delicate look Eliot wouldn't be able to break her grip without causing a scene. She forced his head slightly to the side so that his hair fell away from the left side of his neck. She was several inches taller than Eliot and she had to lean over slightly to bring her face close to his neck. She inhaled deeply, muttered something that sounded like 'sang du loupgarou', and then she licked up along the corded muscle of his neck as she rubbed up against him. There was a frisson of anticipation that coursed through him and it took him a couple of deep breaths to regain his composure. With those deep breaths he noticed her scent. Pomegranate without the usual undertone of formaldehyde that most perfumes carried, and decay, like old paper or wood that crumbles under a touch.
Eliot reached up and tightly grasped the wrist of the hand that still had a grip in his hair. His grip would have broken her wrist if she'd been human but she barely seemed to take notice of it. "Jenny is it? Buy me a drink first huh." Eliot squeezed her wrist until he felt her grip on his hair loosen. Eliot did what he could to control his physical and emotional responses because he was pretty certain that vampires were just as good at picking up on smells and hearing heartbeats as the wolves were.
Now that Eliot had smelled her he knew that that was what the odd smell in this place was. The smell of decaying paper or rotting wood was the smell of vampires. His friend Ewen had tried to describe the smell of vampire once, but recognizing such a subtle smell from description alone was not, apparently, something Eliot was ready for. Besides, Eliot had been completely thrown off by the look of the vampire. He couldn't get the images of Dracula from the old horror movies out of his mind and that had left him totally unprepared for the blonde bombshell in front of him.
"I'm afraid there has been some kind of mistake." Eliot felt a little light headed and shook his head to clear it. It didn't seem to help. Deciding something was wrong he turned to leave. Eliot noticed the smug looks on the faces around him. Knowing vampires might be involved in this job was enough to make him want to retreat and reassess. Unfortunately before he could take even two steps, the world tilted on its axis and dropped him into darkness.
AN: Sang du Loupgarou is French for 'blood of the werewolf'.