Kaira Newton and Eliot Spencer were simply talking at a bar when a stout older man with wiry brown hair showed up next to them.
"Excuse me, Miss Newton, Mr. Spencer? Yeah I know about you guys." He said.
"Then you know why it's a good idea to walk away from us now." Eliot growled, his southern accent showing.
Eliot moved into a protective stance with Kaira.
"Hey, relax. I have a job for you." The man said.
"Oh really? What's the job?" Kaira asked, her northern accent showing.
"I want you to steal something back for me." The man said.
"And what would that be?" Eliot asked, sipping on his beer.
"My airplane designs. Somebody stole them." The man said.
"And you want us to find them?" Kaira said.
"No I know who took them. I want you to steal them back." The man said.
"Okay. Who has your designs?" Kaira asked.
"Pierson Aviation." The man said.
"Are there any other players we need to worry about?" Eliot asked.
"I know you two work alone, but the team I put together will help you get my designs back." The man said.
"No way. Like you said, we are a duo only." Kaira said, not happy.
"How about for $300,000 each?" The man offered.
Kaira and Eliot looked at each other. They nodded in agreement.
"Who are the other players?" Eliot asked.
The man brought out files of the team he had so far out of his briefcase.
"These are the people who I've hired so far." The man said.
Eliot and Kaira looked at the files. "How in the hell did you get these people? They all have the same rep as us. Soloists." Kaira pointed out, amused.
"I offered them the same amount of money I offered you." The man explained.
"So do we have a deal?" The man asked.
"Yeah. Just one more thing. Who the hell gets desperate enough to have thieves steal something of theirs?" Kaira asked.
"If you're asking for my name, it's Victor Dubenich." Victor explained.
Later that day, Eliot and Kaira arrived at Pierson's building on the roof. There they met with Nathan Ford, the ex-insurance investigator who at one point chased them all. Kaira wasn't gonna lie, that part was awkward for her. Then on the roof, they met Alec Hardison, a young black man with a buzz cut who was the hacker.
"Okay. Clear comms." Nate said, his light Irish/Boston accent present.
"No. No, no, no, no. No, hell no. This equipment is total VH1, bruh. It's best of the 80's. I got something nicer." Hardison said, kinda amused playing with the stuff Nate had brought.
"Alright, no surprises now." Nate said.
"I've been doing this since high school, bruh. I'm captain discipline." Hardison argued.
Hardison pulled out a box that had their comms in it. "It's a bone-conduction earpiece mic." Hardison turned around to hand one to Eliot and Kaira. "It works off the vibrations in your jaw." Hardison explained as Eliot and Kaira put their earpieces in.
"You can hear everything." Hardison said, making Kaira jump a bit.
She wasn't gonna lie the earpiece was something she'd have to get used to.
"You're not as useless as you look." Eliot said, playing with the earpiece.
"That's actually impressive." Kaira said. Eliot gave her a look. "What? It is." Kaira argued.
"I don't even know what it is you two do." Hardison said.
"Hopefully you won't." Kaira said, flashing back to the Belgrade, Serbia job from three years ago.
Then an upbeat young blond white woman swung from the ledge above them upside down.
"Can I have one?" She asked. It was Parker.
"You can have the whole box." Hardison flirted, handing the box to her.
Then Parker swung back up.
"What are you gonna do when she finds out you live with your mom?" Eliot said, unamused, putting on his black beanie.
Hardison chuckled. "Age of the geek baby. We run the world." Hardison said.
"Mm-hmm. You keep telling yourself that." Eliot said.
Kaira just chuckled at her partner. Parker set up her climbing rig as Kaira, Eliot, and Hardison got ready.
"Last time I used this rig? Paris, 2003." Parker said.
Eliot was still playing with the earpiece. "Is this thing safe?" Eliot asked.
"Is she talking about the Caravaggio? You stole that?" Nate questioned.
"Yeah, it's completely safe. It's just, you know if you experience nausea, weakness in your right side, stroke, strokiness..." Hardison explained.
"You're precisely why I only work with her." Eliot gestured to Kaira.
"I'm sure they're fine, cowboy." Kaira said.
"Wait a sec, "cowboy"? Are you two...?" Hardison questioned.
"No!" Eliot and Kaira said at the same time.
"We just work together is all." Kaira said.
"Sure." Hardison said, not buying it.
"Guys, listen up. We're gonna go on my count, not a second sooner. Parker, no freelancing." Nate ordered.
"Hey, relax. We know what we're doing." Eliot said.
"And on the count of five, four..." Nate started the countdown.
"Oh, he doesn't want to be our pal." Hardison interrupted.
"We're on the count - five, four, three..." Nate started again when Parker started running off the building.
"She's gone." Eliot said.
"Son of a..." Nate exclaimed.
The three on the roof looked down as Parker was basically running down the building.
"That's 20 pounds of crazy in a 5 - pound bag." Eliot said before walking away.
"Exactly." Kaira said, following.
Eliot, Kaira, and Hardison headed to a latch on the roof to get down into the building.
"Vibration detectors are on." Parker reported.
"No cutting, Parker, use the binary." Nate ordered.
Hardison and Kaira lifted the latch as Eliot sent the bag down the ladder. They climbed down the ladder to the elevator shaft. The metal floor clanged with the pressure on it.
"You know, Parker, anytime you want to-" Eliot was saying until the elevator went down.
It startled Kaira a bit.
"Everyone is on their way." Parker reported.
"What are you getting with security? You see security?" Nate asked.
"They don't see a thing." Parker reported.
Finally the elevator stopped with a thud.
"Doors open." Parker reported.
"Alright, guys, it's showtime. Here we go." Nate said.
Eliot, Kaira, and Hardison got out of the elevator and started jogging towards the server room.
"Here." Eliot said, handing Hardison his thing to get the combination of the server room lock.
"Got it." Hardison said.
A few feet ahead was the door. Hardison plugged in his gizmo in the electronic lock and Kaira kept watch with Eliot.
"Okay, you got any chatter on their frequencies?" Nate asked Parker.
"No. Why?" Parker asked.
"Nate do we have a problem?" Kaira asked.
"There's eight listed on the duty roster. And there's only four at the guardpost." Nate reported.
"I can't even tell how many guys are in the room. How can you tell who's who?" Parker questioned.
"Haircuts, Parker. You count the haircuts." Kaira cut in.
"Exactly." Nate confirmed.
"I would have missed that." Parker said quietly.
"What?" Nate questioned.
"Nothing." Parker said.
"Problem?" Eliot asked.
"Uh...maybe. Run the cameras." Nate said.
Hardison was still trying to hack the electronic lock.
"Ten digit password? I salute you, sir." Hardison said, impressed.
"Got them. They're doing their walk-through an hour early. Why the-" Parker reported.
"Shit!" Kaira exclaimed.
"Because it's the playoffs. Yeah. Game five of the play-offs. They're doing their rounds an hour early so they can watch the play-offs. All right, where are they?" Nate asked.
"They're at the stairwell." Parker reported.
"Okay." Nate acknowledged.
"What's the play here, Nate?" Kaira asked.
It was quiet for a moment.
"Okay, guys, here's what we got to do. We got to squelch them. Eliot, Kaira, what I want you to do is clear the zone and use Hardison as bait." Nate said.
Both Kaira and Eliot took off their black jackets and left to get ready.
"Bait? Hold up, hold up. Wait a minute. They ain't talking about me. I ain't nobody's bait." Hardison argued.
Eliot and Kaira hid behind a wall, waiting for security to come.
"Come on, baby. Come on. Work for me, baby. Come on." Hardison said, freaking out a little about the speed of the gizmo.
A moment passed.
"Hardison, they're almost there." Parker informed the hacker.
"Come on, baby. Come on. Just come on, man." Hardison said, getting anxious again.
Hardison stayed a couple of seconds.
"Forget it." Hardison said.
He grabbed the bag and left, leaving the gizmo in the lock. Just as he was walking towards where Eliot and Kaira went, four security guards rounded the corner.
"Hold it right there." The guard ordered, cocking his gun.
Hardison put his arms up, staying put. Then Eliot and Kaira appeared behind the guards. Hardison let go of the bag. Kaira and Eliot went to work, disarming and knocking out the guards. The last guard was taken care of just as the bag hit the floor. Eliot and Kaira looked at Hardison as Eliot ejected the magazine from the security guy's gun and tossed the gun behind him.
"That's what we do." Eliot and Kaira said at the same time.
Hardison looked impressed. Then Hardison's gizmo beeped and chimed. Then the door to the server room opened. They walked over. Hardison chuckled at his work.
They walked in as Hardison got to work at the computer.
"Guys, guys, you got to talk to me, okay? 'Cause I don't know what's going on." Nate said, impatient.
"It's all good. I'm stripping the drives now." Hardison reported as Eliot grabbed the bag.
"Come on, baby." Hardison chuckled.
"Hmm. Got all the designs, got all the backup. We're leaving this cupboard bare." Hardison reported.
"Drop the spike." Nate ordered.
"What did you do exactly?" Kaira asked.
"Did you give them a virus?" Eliot asked.
The servers went dark as they started walking out.
"Dude, I gave them more than one virus." Hardison said.
"Problem - those guards you ganked, they reset all the alarms on the roof and all the floors above us. We can't go up." Parker reported.
"What now?" Kaira asked, the three stopping in their tracks.
"Every man for himself, dude." Eliot said, starting to walk.
"Go ahead. I'm the one with the merchandise." Hardison said, causing Eliot to turn around and stop.
"Yeah, well, I'm the one with an exit." Parker said.
"I just want to get paid." Kaira said.
"And I'm the one with a plan. Now, I know you children don't play well with others, but I need you to hold it together for exactly seven more minutes. Now get to the elevator and head down. We're going to the burn scam." Nate said.
Eliot, Kaira, and Hardison started walking towards the elevator.
The trio got in first and started changing. Kaira put on a blue button shirt and took off her black pants to put on white ones.
"Going to plan B?" Hardison questioned.
"Technically, that would be plan G." Nate said.
Then the elevators opened up again so Parker could get in. Hardison and Eliot were in suits. As soon as Parker got in, she took off her black shirt. Eliot, Hardison, and Kaira looked away, as she wasn't wearing a bra. Kaira felt awkward.
"How many plans do we have? Is there like a plan M?" Hardison asked.
"Yeah. Hardison dies in plan M." Nate said.
"I like plan M." Eliot said.
"Hey cowboy, be nice for a little longer." Kaira said, giving Eliot the stink eye.
Hardison turned towards Eliot, hurt.
After they changed, Eliot put a brace on Parker's leg as Hardison applied special effects makeup to Parker to looks like burns, telling her to stay still. Then Kaira gave Parker the crutch and the door opened. They walked out, acting like a group of friends. There was a guard in the hallway.
"Nice. Why don't you stare a little more?" Eliot said, defensively.
"Sorry." The guard apologized, feeling embarrassed.
"You got to be kidding me!" Eliot exclaimed as they kept walking.
"No, Tom, it's okay." Parker said, pretending to try to calm Eliot down.
"No, it's not okay. Hey asshole, quite staring at my sister." Kaira got defensive.
"Sorry, sorry." The guard apologized again.
"I understand." Parker said, pretending to get emotional.
"Look at what you did. Feel good about yourself?" Kaira retorted, opening the door.
The guard tried to help, but Kaira argued and opened the door herself as they pretended to argue a bit. Then once the guard left, they saw Nate in the car and speed-walked over. Parker got shotgun, and Hardison back driver's side, Kaira in the middle, and Eliot back passenger side. Nate sped off.
They arrived at a roof nearby and Hardison got to work. It was taking too long.
"Oh, come on. It's only taking you all night. Come on." Nate said, impatient.
"I-I got a couple wi-fi networks but some crappy bandwidth." Hardison said.
Then the computer beeped. "There you go. The designs are sent." Hardison announced.
"Alright, alright. The money will be in your accounts later today." Nate said, signaling the end of the job.
"Anybody else notice how hard we rocked last night?" Hardison questioned, excited a bit.
"Yeah well, one show only. No encores." Eliot said.
"Yeah. I only work with him. Though it was fun last night." Kaira said, walking away with Eliot, arms connected.
"I had already forgotten your names." Parker said.
"It was kinda cool being on the same side." Hardison said.
"No, we are not on the same side. I am not a thief." Nate said, clear on his view.
"You are now." Parker said.
"Come on, Nathan. Admit it. It was fun being the black king instead of the white knight." Kaira said. Nate didn't answer.
The group walked away. Eliot and Kaira went back to their place. They got changed and sat on their own beds. Then Kaira walked over to Eliot. She sat beside him.
"I kinda miss those guys." Kaira told Eliot.
"We are a duo only, Kaira. You know that." Eliot argued.
"Yeah, but it can't be just the two of us together until we retire. We need people to watch our backs. If you died Eliot because I couldn't get to you in time, I don't know what I'd do." Kaira argued back.
"You'll never lose me, okay?" Eliot said.
"That's not the point Eliot. I care about you. I know you trust me, but I'd feel better if more people looked out for you." Kaira argued.
"Do we have to do this now?" Eliot questioned, laying down.
"I'm sorry. I should head to bed." Kaira got up.
Eliot grabbed her hand to stop her.
"Princess, I know you're worried about losing me. But that's why I have you. That's how it's gonna be, okay. I care about you too." Eliot said.
Kaira smiled and went to her bed. She fell asleep.
It was early in the morning when Eliot woke Kaira up.
"Princess, we have to leave." Eliot said.
"Why?" Kaira asked, getting up.
Eliot sat on her bed. "I just got a call from Victor Dubenich." Eliot said.
"What? Why?" Kaira asked, concerned.
"Apparently the designs weren't sent to him." Eliot explained.
"That's not possible, I saw Hardison send them." Kaira said.
"I did too. He's freezing the payments until we sort this out." Eliot said.
"Dammit. Where are we meeting?" Kaira asked.
"An aircraft hanger in an hour, so get ready." Eliot said.
Kaira quickly got ready and Elliot drove them to the hanger.
They arrived and parked. They walked in.
"Hello?" Kaira called out.
They were met with Hardison who pointed a gun at them.
"Hardison?" Kaira questioned.
"What the hell? Hardison, put the damn gun down." Eliot said, not happy but calm.
"You want to tell me what happened to the designs?" Hardison questioned.
"What makes you think we know what happened?" Eliot asked.
"Forget you, man you did it. When we were coming down from the elevator." Hardison argued.
"Hardison, seriously? Now why would we?" Kaira asked.
That's when Nate came in.
"You had the file every second." Eliot said.
"Hold up, Cujo. I did my part. I transferred the files. What did you two do?" Hardison said.
"We saved your sorry ass from the security!" Kaira exclaimed.
"Hey!" Nate yelled.
They turned. Hardison pointed the gun at Nate.
"Nate?" Kaira questioned, curiously.
"Did you do it?" Eliot asked.
"You're the only one that's ever played both sides." Kaira observed.
Hardison had the gun pointed at Eliot.
"Yeah, and you two seem relaxed for having a gun pointed at them." Nate said.
Eliot and Kaira looked at Hardison.
"Safety's on." They both said.
"Like I'm gonna fall for that." Hardison argued.
"Uh, no, no. Actually they're right. The safety is on." Nate said.
"Give me that." Nate said as he grabbed the gun from Hardison.
"Are you two armed?" Nate asked.
"No. Never been a fan of guns." Kaira said.
Then another gun could be heard and Nate turned around and pointed the gun at the noise. It was Parker. She walked towards them.
"My money's not in my account. That makes me cry inside in my special angry place." Parker said, coming around back. She had the gun pointed up.
"Okay. Parker." Nate said, slowly grabbing the gun from Parker.
"Now would you come here to get paid?" Nate asked.
"Hell no. Transfer of funds man. Global economy." Hardison said.
"Suppose to be a walkaway. We're never supposed to see you guys again." Eliot said.
"And the only reason you guys are here is because you didn't get paid..." Nate started laughing. "... And you're pissed off, right?" Nate questioned.
"I mean, I wanted to know what happened, but yeah I want to get paid." Kaira said.
Nate kept laughing. "I mean, matter of fact, the only way to get us all in the same place at the same time I-is to tell us we're not... getting... paid." Nate pointed out.
It was silent for a second before Kaira had a realization.
"Shit. Run!" She yelled as the gang started running.
As they reached the door, Hardison tripped and Eliot and Kaira got him up and they ran again. They crawled underneath the door, Nate staying to close the door behind them. Just a few feet ahead of the door, the explosion happened. The explosion pushed them down and Kaira was knocked out.
She woke up in a bed next to Nate, who was still out. She saw Eliot was handcuffed to a chair and she tried to get up, but she was handcuffed to the bed.
"Oh, finally you're awake!" Eliot said, relieved.
"Are you okay, cowboy?" Kaira asked.
"Yeah. We have problems though." Eliot said.
"What problems?" Kaira asked.
"They processed us." Eliot informed her, holding his hand up so she could see his fingers.
Kaira looked at her own hand, and the ink was still on her fingertips.
"Shit." Kaira exclaimed, laying down.
Then Nate woke up, gasping. He looked at the handcuffed hand and groaned.
"You don't like hospitals." Eliot pointed out.
"Not much." Nate says, looking around.
"It's about time." Parker said.
She was in the next room, which shared a vent.
"What the..." Nate said, quietly.
"Cops and firemen got there just as we were waking up." Parker filled in the blanks.
"Where are we?" Nate asked.
"We're at county hospital. Local cops, they responded to the explosion." Hardison explained.
"Have we been processed?" Nate asked. Eliot showed him his hand, and Kaira showed him hers.
"They faxed our prints to the state police." Eliot informed Nate.
"Yo, if the staties run us, man, we're screwed." Hardison said.
"How long?" Parker asked.
"30, 35 minutes depending on the software." Hardison said.
"They printed us 20 minutes ago." Eliot said.
"Which leaves us ten minutes to get out of here before we go to jail." Kaira said.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, alright." Nate said, thinking.
"Kaira and I can take these cops." Eliot said.
"Don't you dare. You kill anyone, you screw up my getaway." Parker said, not happy.
"Hold up. I'm still handcuffed here. I can't even go to the bathroom. I got to go." Hardison said.
"Parker, get me a phone." Nate ordered.
"What we're gonna do is we're gonna get out of here together." Nate said.
"This was a one time deal." Eliot reiterated.
"So you've said." Kaira retorted.
"Look guys, here's your problem. You all know what you can do. I know what all you can do. So that gives me the edge. It gives me the plan." Nate said.
"I don't trust these guys." Parker said.
It was silent for a moment.
"Do you trust me?" Nate asked.
"Of course. You're an honest man." Eliot said.
Kaira nodded her head in agreement.
"Parker. Phone." Nate repeated.
"This is gonna suck." Parker said before Kaira heard retching and Hardison freaking out.
The doctor came and told Parker that she could have a concussion and to tell the police if she had any more symptoms.
Then Parker put the flip phone through the vent and Nathan grabbed it. "So, the trick is to give them what they want. They're expecting a phone call, right?" Nate explained the idea of the con.
He tossed the phone to Eliot. Eliot dialed and a cop answered. "Yeah this is Detective Lieutenant Carden with the Illinois State Police. We got those prints you sent us. Uh, the problem I have is, they're sending up all kind of red flags. And I've got somebody on the phone for you from the FBI down there in Washington. Can you hold, son?" Eliot said in a Midwest accent.
Eliot tossed the phone to Nate.
"Yeah, Deputy Burns, this is Deputy Director McCumber, uh, FBI. Yes is our man all right?" Nate asked into the phone.
Kaira tried not to laugh at the names used.
"Deputy, listen to me, the man you have inside there is ours, actually. He's been in deep cover for three years." Nate said. "That's correct. You should be receiving a fax any moment now confirming what I'm telling you." Nate continued. "Most of what I told you is classified. I need to know I can trust you, can I?" Nate continued stringing the Deputy along.
Nate hung up the phone and soon they were being escorted by Hardison to a police car. Kaira was in the middle and Parker on the outside as Nate was shotgun. Hardison hit Eliot's head against the door frame. He growled.
"Walk it off. Walk - get inside. Get inside." Hardison said as Eliot went in the cruiser.
"Men... fills my heart with tears of joy, what you guys do." Hardison said, saluting the officers outside. Then he drove off.
It was almost dusk before they arrived at some apartment building. The place was huge! "Five first-class seats to anywhere but here, coming up." Hardison said walking to his computer system.
Parker whistled. "Whose place is this?" She asked.
"It's mine." Hardison said.
"Nice." Kaira complimented.
They gathered in the living room.
"I'm gonna beat Dubenich so bad even the people that look like him are gonna bleed." Eliot said, holding up his fist.
"You won't get within 100 yards. He knows your face. He knows all our faces." Parker pointed out.
"He tried to kill us." Eliot reiterated.
"More importantly, he didn't pay us." Parker said, leaning up against a beam.
"How is that more important?" Eliot asked.
"I take that personally." Parker explained.
"There's something wrong with you." Eliot said, looking at Parker weirdly.
Eliot and Kaira sat on the arms of a couch. Nate was leaning against another beam, thinking. Hardison was at his computer.
"Hey, hey, hey, heads up. Heads up. Look." Hardison said, getting their attention.
They looked towards him.
"Dubenich's story is 90 percent true. He is the head of Bering Aerospace, big rival of Pierson. But check out what my little web crawlers coughed up." Hardison said.
He pulled up a new story.
"We've lost research that we've been working on for over five years. Our servers have been sabotaged. Now we're gonna pursue these perpetrators to the full extent of the law and with all the resources we have at our disposal." Pierson said in the article.
"Could be a cover story." Nate said.
"Here's the log of last nights rip. Internal time stamps on the project. 2003, 2004 - they're way, way down in the code. There's no reason to fake those, man." Hardison explained.
"So we didn't steal the plans back?" Eliot questioned.
"No. We just stole them. That bastard." Kaira said, upset.
"Why would Dubenich lie to us?" Hardison asked.
"Because you're thieves. If he hired you for a straight up crime, you'd know he was a bad guy like you. You'd be suspicious. This way, you just saw another citizen in over his head. And that's why you didn't see the double-cross coming." Nate explained.
"And why didn't you see it coming?" Parker asked.
"Because I'm not a thief." Nate said.
"You know what? Maybe that was the problem." Eliot said, getting angry.
Kaira had to hold him back.
"Hey, hey. I have five tickets to London, Rome, Paris, and Sao Paulo, all matching the I.D.'s that you gave me." Hardison said, giving them the tickets.
Nate was looking at the monitor.
"You're running." Nate said.
"Yes, sir. You got a better idea?" Eliot questioned.
"No, no. You're running. Now that was a high-risk play. You got your balls tied to the stock price like a cinder block. Shareholder meeting coming up. We can't let this guy have any time to cool down." Nate said.
"You want to run a game on him?" Kaira questioned.
"You?" Eliot questioned.
"Yeah, I mean, how do you think I got most of my stolen merchandise back? I mean, this guy, he's greedy, thinks he's smart. He's the best kind of mark." Nate said.
"He does think he got rid of us." Parker pointed out.
"Element of surprise." Hardison said.
"What's in it for us?" Eliot asked, gesturing towards Kaira who was next to him.
"Payback. And if it goes right, a lot of money." Nate said.
"Sounds good to me." Kaira smiled.
"What's in it for me?" Parker asked.
"A lot of money. And if it goes right, payback. Hardison?" Nate said.
"I was just gonna send a thousand porno magazines to his office, but hell yeah, man. let's kick him up." Hardison said.
"What's in it for you?" Kaira asked.
"He used my son." Nate said, looking through everyone.
Nate thought a second.
"Alright. Let's go get Sophie." Nate said, walking away.
Everyone followed except for Eliot and Kaira.
"What the hell's a Sophie?" He asked.
"I don't know." Kaira said, walking away.
They arrived at a theater and watched Sophie perform. She tried, but she wasn't that good. The team complained. Nate told the team this wasn't her stage.
After the play they waited outside at the car.
"No. No. I vote no." Eliot said.
"Ah, Parker's right. Dubenich knows us. And we need a fresh face." Nate said.
Sophie started walking down the ally as Nate clapped. He walked towards her. They talked a bit. Kaira could tell there was something going on the two. She didn't ask. Nate clapped his hands again.
"Alright! Let's uh, go break the law just one more time." Nate said.
They all got in. Kaira ended up sitting on Eliot's lap so they all fit. Kaira wanted to kiss him right there, but she couldn't bring herself to. She was nervous about what would happen to their friendship if she made a move. That's how it was for her ever since they met. Just subtle glances that showed they wanted each other but were too scared to make a move.
Finally, in the morning, they arrived back at the apartment and Hardison started his presentation.
"Victor Dubenich, Executive Vice President in charge of new technology development over at Bering aerospace." Hardison explained.
Eliot came in with popcorn and two beers for him and Kaira. He went over Hardions and Parkers legs and sat next to Kaira as Hardison continued explaining.
"Uh, rich daddy, trust fund, Yale M.B.A., blah, blah, blah." Hardison finished.
"Victor. Now, when was the last time you met a Victor?" Nathan joked.
"Vietnam. Town called Ban Houei Xai." Eliot said.
"I remember that!" Kaira said, excited.
"Chinese border." Sophie said.
"That's an odd thing for you to know." Eliot said.
"That's an odd place for you to be." Sophie said with her light British accent, flirting a little.
Kaira was jealous. Eliot didn't say anything, just looked at her. Kaira kept as straight of a face as she could. Nate just smiled.
"Now, Bearing is in charge of all the big fat government contracts, some Department of Defense research, very classified stuff." Hardison explained.
"Can we use that?" Parker asked, grabbing popcorn.
"No, I don't think so. Dubenich is in charge of their commercial airline business." Hardison explained.
"I know when you sent Dubenich's designs, you weren't suppose to make any copies." Nate said.
"No, I promised, and that would be very wrong." Hardison said.
"Show me your copies." Nate said.
Hardison pulled them up on the screen, chuckling.
"It's an airplane." Eliot pointed out.
"That's a short-haul domestic airliner. Yeah, usually one hour flights. It's the fastest growing segment of the industry. Very fuel efficient, high tech. Very nice carbon nose. It's got the titanium wrap, three to one. You know, you - you pick up on a few things here and there." Nate explained, getting up and walking behind the couch by the end of his explanation.
Everyone had surprised looks on their faces.
"You pick up on a lot of stuff." Hardison pointed out.
"Ha!" Parker laughed.
Eliot looked at her.
"And check this out - Now, Dubenich and Pierson, they were head to head for five year trying to grab the lead in an industry that's worth, like, eleventy billion dollars." Hardison explained.
"So Pierson got their first. Dubenich took the short cut." Parker said.
"So he's got a rival. He's got a rival that pisses him off so much he hired us to steal his designs - this is good." Nate said, pacing behind the couch.
"What are you thinking Nate?" Sophie asked.
"I'm thinking Nigerians. Yeah. Nigerians will do nicely." Nate said.
He walked away. The rest just sat on the couch, confused.
"Well, he hasn't changed a bit." Sophie said.
They got ready and headed to Dubenich's office the next day.
Kiara was with Hardison and Nate in a room. Parker, Sophie, and Eliot went to the office to set up Dubenich. Hardison sat down at the computer and started typing. Kiara was nervous, not being around Eliot. She couldn't back him up if things went wrong.
"Here come's a mountain of suck." Hardison said, opening up the comms.
"You government?" Dubenich asked.
"No, no. Private business consortium. We are looking to encourage infrastructure development and economic renewal." Sophie said in a South African accent.
"I have no idea what that means in English. W-what does it mean?" Dubenich said, confused.
"We create jobs and trade in Africa, keep the graft and the stealing manageable." Sophie said.
"She's not awful." Hardison said, impressed.
"This is her stage. Sophie Deveraux is the finest actress you've ever seen... when she's breaking the law." Nate said.
They listened back into the conversation.
"...keep graft and stealing manageable in Africa. Good luck. I don't think I can help. I don't think any human being on Earth could help you with that. Sorry." Dubenich said.
Sophie chuckled. "Come on. Let's go and talk somewhere a little less formal, eh?" Sophie suggested, flirting a bit.
Dubenich was stumbling, which nearly caused Kiara to break out laughing.
"Okay, and... now." Nate ordered.
Hardison typed on his laptop. Hardison hacked into the desk lady's computer and put up a blue warning screen, causing her to call I.T., which was Parker.
"Hello, I.T." Parker answered in a southern accent.
"Yeah, this is Victor Dubenich's office. My computer just completely crashed." The lady explained.
"Oh, well, I'm sorry to hear about that. Have you tried turning it on and off again?" Parker asked, still in the accent.
"That's a computer thing I, uh - I told her to say that." Hardison said, proud of himself.
"Well done." Nate complimented.
"We've got someone on your floor already." Parker said the the lady.
"Thank you." She hung up the phone.
"Somebody call I.T.?" Eliot asked.
"I represent a group of investors who are looking to start an airline for short-haul flights in Africa." Sophie said, giving more of the bait.
"Out of Johannesburg?" Dubenich asked.
"Okay, he's testing you. You want Bloemfontein." Nate said.
"Keep away from the hubs. Revitalize the regional airports. In South Africa, Bloemfontein, for example. But really, it's Nigeria we're focused on." Sophie said.
"Yeah, perfect." Nate complimented.
"She's scary good at this." Kaira said.
"Lagos airports are a mess." Dubenich said.
"I believe new airplanes will make people feel comfortable while we renew old runways." Sophie explained.
"Uh-huh. I don't recall saying anything about new airplanes." Dubenich questioned.
"Victor, both you and your chief engineer are scheduled to speak at a shareholder's meeting." Sophie said.
"I think you know more about my business than I do." Dubenich said.
"I've done my homework. I find you fascinating." Sophie said.
Meanwhile, Eliot was busy distracting the secretary so Parker could do her thing.
"That's good. It's good to have a passion, you know." The secretary said, liking Eliot.
"It is. It is." He said.
He kept distracting her while Parker went to the office.
"Shouldn't I be playing the computer guy?" Hardison questioned.
"No I want you to actually be the computer guy." Nate said.
"You are strong for a computer guy." The lady complimented.
"Thank you." Eliot said, taking the compliment.
Kaira was jealous. She couldn't help it. Nate just gave her a sympathetic look.
"I like to work out. I'm trying to stay big. 'Cause I love dressing up like a Klingon and going to all the conventions, you know. Baghk-Lah!" Eliot yelled, causing Kaira to jump.
"Sorry." He apologized.
"That's okay. Baghk-lah!" The desk lady yelled back, but not as powerful.
"Oh, don't you tease me." Eliot faked warned.
"Oh, hold up, man. That's not - that is not cool. That is not cool. We are gonna have a strong talk when you get back." Hardison said, unimpressed.
Kaira had to tune out the rest until Eliot was done flirting. She focused on the conversation between Sophie and Dubenich.
"Uh, is it-s-sorry, is it Gunshot?" Dubenich questioned.
"I'm sorry." He apologized.
"Gunstott." Sophie corrected him.
"Gunstott." Dubenich repeated to get it right.
"I'm really sorry." He apologized again.
"Anna." Sophie said.
"Anna. Thank you. How's this? If we announce a new product, then you can order as many as your little heart desires." Dubenich said.
"Okay, you know what to do. Hit him." Nate told Sophie.
"We'd also like to build the planes. More jobs. Build them in Africa, fly them in Africa, sell the rest around the world." Sophie explained.
"That's very ambitious." Dubenich complimented.
"You have the manufacturing facilities to do all that?" Dubenich asked.
"Ah, we can easily raise the funds to build the facilities... if we know for certain we're going to get the contracts." Sophie said.
"Attagirl." Nate complimented.
"Anna... I'm really sorry, but I can't help you." Dubenich said.
Hardison and Kaira looked defeated.
"That was a nice try, man." Hardison said, calling it.
"Wait for it." Nate said.
"And..." Dubenich was about to say.
"I understand." Sophie said. "... I really do have..." Dubenich said.
"I'll take it to Pierson." Sophie said.
Kaira and Hardison's eyes went wide.
"Piers - no, Pierson's a great company. Sure, go ahead. I don't think they can help you, but-." Dubenich was saying before Sophie cut him off again.
"Oh, they have a reputation for long term investment. You don't. They're innovators. Yeah. It's probably a better fit." Sophie said.
"I know - I'm aware that you're manipulating me, Anna." Dubenich said.
"I should hope so. Hundreds of millions of dollars in new contracts, a lot of good press - all at your door." Sophie said.
It was silent for a few seconds.
"Okay, I give up. I'll take the meeting." Dubenich said.
"I'll have my office call you." Sophie said.
"What? Yeah." Dubenich said, flustered.
"Day after tomorrow?" Sophie questioned.
Dubenich confirmed, still flustered. They wrapped up the chat. Nate hit Hardison in the shoulder and laughed.
"Damn she's good." Kaira complimented, impressed.
They shook hands. They finished and went back to Hardison's apartment.
It was late at night. Kaira was playing pool with Eliot and Nate. Nate checked something with Hardison at the computer. Nate walked back over to the pool table.
"Your shot." Eliot said, offering Nate a beer.
"I'm fine. Uh, no thanks, five, corner." Nate said.
Eliot handed the beer to Kaira as he took his shot.
"You look better. Than when we started." Eliot said.
"Yeah." Nate said.
"It bothers you, doesn't it?" Kaira asked, sipping her beer.
"Well, I mean, this isn't suppose to feel..." Nate started explaining.
"Good? It's not that hard to figure out. Dubenich screwed you. He cheated by stealing from that other company. And your good guy brain sees him as the bad guy. Your conscience is clear." Eliot said.
"You want to take your shot?" Nate told Eliot.
Eliot sipped his beer. "Listen, I'm sorry about your kid." Eliot said.
Kiara gave him a sympathetic look.
"You don't know anything about that." Nate said, not happy it was brought up.
"Everybody knows. Guy like you goes off the street, a lot of people notice. And it was a bad story too." Eliot said, sympathetic.
"How did the company justify that, Nathan? Not paying for the treatment that would've saved your kid." Kaira asked.
Nate had a sad look on his face.
"They claimed it was experimental." Nate answered.
Eliot took another swig of beer.
"Should have kept one of those Monets you found. Hmm? You fence that -" Eliot said before Nate cut him off.
"Eliot, Kaira, we are not friends." Nate said, defensively.
"Right, Right. 'Cause you have so many of them." Eliot said.
"Listen Nate, I know you look down on us because we're thieves, and you're an honest man, and I respect that. I do. But we do have morals. My rules: I will never take a job that requires me to hurt a kid; I don't kill people unless it's me or them, and never use anyone's kid against them. Dead or alive, it doesn't matter. Dubenich crossed that line. So I will make him pay for that. Whether or not you like me after this, I don't care. That is your decision. Think about that Nathan. Incoming." Kaira said, sipping her beer and walking away with Eliot as Sophie walked in.
Kaira took Eliot aside. "Listen I need to be honest with you for a second, Eliot." Kaira said to Eliot.
"Shoot." Eliot said.
"So this thing we have, I like it, I really do. But today I ran into a problem. When you were flirting with the secretary, I got jealous." Kaira said, honest.
"I understand. Do you want to pursue something more or stay where we are?" Eliot asked, honest.
"I'm worried if we pursue something more, it won't feel the same. I like how it feels now between us, I just don't want to mess that up." Kaira explained, pacing.
"I've actually been thinking about that too. I care about you, Kaira. You've been my partner for what, four years now? I trust you. And those same doubts hold me back every time." Eliot said, sipping his beer again.
Kaira smiled a bit.
"I care about you too, cowboy. You know, in the cop car back at the hospital, I so wanted to kiss you. I got nervous so I didn't." Kaira admitted.
"Me too. What's stopping us now?" Eliot questioned.
"What?" Kaira asked.
"From kissing." Eliot said, getting close to Kaira's face.
"Not enough alcohol I guess." Kaira sipped her beer.
They both chuckled.
"Maybe it's time we let go of all of the doubts. After this job, how about I take you to dinner. My treat. And we can see how it feels and go from there. I'll jump if you jump." Eliot said.
"I'd like that cowboy." Kaira said, hugging Eliot.
There were smiles on their faces. They loosened and held each other's arms. There was something drawing them closer together. They inched closer and closer together until they finally locked lips. All of the tension was released from Kaira. Eliot's lips tasted like the beer they were drinking, which made Kaira want more. Kaira reciprocated the kiss, then let go.
"We should probably head to bed." Kaira said, walking away.
"Hey. Did I do something wrong? 'Cause if I did, I'm sorry..." Eliot said before Kaira interrupted.
"No Eliot. You did nothing wrong. I just panicked for a second. I liked the kiss too much if you know what I mean." Kaira explained.
"Okay. I don't want you to do something because you think I want to do it. I want you to decide for you." Eliot said. Kaira chuckled.
"My cowboy. Always looking out for me." Kaira smiled.
Kaira kissed Eliot's cheek.
"Thank you. I needed that." Kaira said, walking away.
Everyone went to bed. Kaira slept okay, but she couldn't stop thinking of her and Eliot's kiss. What did that mean for them? Kaira ultimately decided that after her and Eliot's future dinner, she would see.
In the morning, everyone got ready. This time, Kaira was walking up steps with Eliot to go to the floor, Parker was ready, and Sophie was about to get ready. Nate was sitting across from the building with Hardison.
"Sophie he's on site." Nate reported.
"What? No, I'm not ready." Sophie said.
Kaira got nervous.
"If you don't meet him right now in the lobby, he's gonna go to the building directory and look for the office number. Guys, we are not in the building directory." Nate reported.
"And why aren't we in the directory?" Eliot asked.
"I-I don't know, maybe because they're fake offices." Hardison retorted.
"There's no elevator." Sophie reported.
"What office building doesn't have an elevator?" Kaira retorted.
"Alright, I'll distract him. Parker you got ten seconds to get Sophie to the lobby." Nate said.
Parker called for Sophie, then told her to put on a harness and Sophie could be heard screaming as Parker was way too excited to be rappelling. Kaira and Eliot ran up the steps and switched out the signs.
Dubenich complimented Sophie and they went up in the elevator.
"One thing - the, uh - the gentlemen bringing you this opportunity to work with their government, they'll, um — they'll expect some compensation. Not a bribe of course." Sophie said.
"No, no. A finder's fee." Dubenich said.
"Exactly." Sophie said.
"I thought your job was to eliminate graft and stealing." Dubenich questioned.
"No. My job is to keep it manageable." Sophie said.
Eliot and Kaira finished switching out the signs just as Sophie and Dubenich arrived.
"Nice job on the zipline." Nate complimented Parker.
"Totally thought she was gonna break a leg. Not bad for her first time." Parker said, chuckling.
The group listened to the deal.
"She's closing it up." Nate reported.
Sophie finished out the deal and the gang met her in front of the building.
"We got him?" Nate asked.
"We own him." Sophie said.
"Okay, gang, let's go. We got a busy day tomorrow." Nate said.
They began to walk away.
"This is gonna work, right?" Sophie questioned.
"I guarantee it." Nate said confidently.
They went back to the apartment and got ready for tomorrow.
The next day, the gang packed up their things and left to go to the offices. Sophie met with the Nigerians while the rest got ready. Sophie met with Dubenich to get the meeting ready. The gang minus Sophie left with boxes of stuff, which nobody noticed because shreds of paper were falling and FBI agents were everywhere.
Nate and Kaira met with Pierson to smooth things over. Nate called Dubenich as he met up with the group, Kaira walking with him down the ramp.
"Yeah, you should have just paid us." Nate said.
"I found the transmitter." Dubenich said.
"No, you found the transmitter with the blinking light. Yeah, we wanted you to figure some of it out, and we just gave you what you were expecting." Nate said.
"I am Victor Dubenich. I am gonna beat this." Dubenich said, obviously upset he got played.
"Aren't you forgetting about the bribe?" Nate asked.
"Who cares? You can't prove anything. I didn't get any money." Dubenich said.
"Yeah, no, it doesn't account for all of it. Sophie kept a little to buy an impressive amount of shoes." Nate said before pausing a moment.
"See, if a company's stock price falls 10%, 15% in one day and you see it coming, you sell short, you make a lot of money. If it's gonna fall 30%, you can make shattering amounts of money. Ah, we didn't need the FBI to take you to jail. We just needed them to show up and take boxes out of your office. All-day long. In front of TV cameras. Scaring your investors. You going to jail is just a bonus. Oh, and say anything about us to the Feds, next time we won't be so nice." Nate finished, hanging up the phone.
Nate and Kaira joined the rest who were looking at the checks they received.
"W-come-" Sophie stuttering at her check.
"Job well - whoa." Nate said looking at his check.
Kaira opened her envelope as she stood by Eliot.
"Holy shit! That's a lot of money." Kaira exclaimed, also confused a bit.
She looked at Hardison for an explanation.
"There was an overlap in the London stock market. Valuation carried over to NASDAQ and then - I'm just very good at what I do." Hardison explained.
"This is the score. The score." Parker said, excited.
"Age of the geek, baby." Hardison reiterated. Eliot smiled.
"Someone kiss this man so I don't have to." Eliot said, hitting Hardison with the envelope.
Kaira went over and placed a quick peck on Hardison's cheek to show her gratitude.
"So... we're out. Huh? I mean, we're out. This is retirement money. Go legit and buy an island money." Hardison said, a little sad.
"Yeah, uh, pleasure working with you." Nate said.
"Yeah, one show only. No encores." Eliot said.
Kaira had a sad look on her face. She liked working with these guys.
"I already forgot your names." Parker said.
It was silent for a moment when Nate cut through Hardison and Eliot to leave. Then they all left, going in different directions. Kaira and Eliot stopped after a few seconds of walking. Eliot and Kaira had sad looks on their faces. They both stopped.
"What's on your mind, cowboy?" Kaira asked.
"I think we should go with Nate. Maybe start a crew with him. I mean, someone has to be there the next time he falls apart." Eliot said.
"I agree. This is our shot for something new. Be apart of something more than just us. We can help people." Kaira said, looking at Eliot, holding him.
"Yeah. Let's go find Nate." Eliot said, smiling.
They let go and started walking in the direction Nate went and found him with Parker and Hardison behind him.
"Want to know what I think?" Eliot asked, he and Kaira walking with the rest.
"Not really." Nate said.
"How long before you fall apart again?" Eliot questioned.
"Oh, I'm touched." Nate retorted.
"Yeah, well, a guy like you can't get out of the game, all right? That's why you were a wreck. You need the chase." Eliot said.
"Yeah, I'll manage." Nate said when his phone rang.
He answered it. "Yeah?" He said into the phone before spotting Sophie on the bench.
She got up to meet them.
"You know, Nate, I think the six of us can do some good in this world. I've done some bad things in my past. This can redeem me. Redeem us for the bad we did and the people we hurt." Kaira said.
"You pick the jobs." Sophie offered.
"My job is helping people. I help find bad guys." Nate said.
"Well go find some bad guys. Bad guys have money. Black king... white knight." Sophie said.
Nate ended up agreeing to the idea. Kaira smiled. She had a new opportunity and a change at redemption. A chance to break the cycle of bad she was in.
As Eliot said he would, he took Kaira to a nice restaurant and went on a date. The date went well. Kaira and Eliot decided one more date and they'd make a decision whether or not to pursue a relationship.
It was a little later when Nate called them to meet a client. It was an older couple who contacted them after losing their 17-year-old daughter due to a malpractice thing. They met the couple and got the story. The woman was crying and the husband did his best to comfort her. Sophie consoled the couple as Nate sat on a sofa and the other three behind them in suits and a dress.
"I'm sorry." The woman said through tears.
The man consoled her.
"Please, take your time." Sophie said, consoling the poor woman.
"She... she was 17." The woman said, still emotional.
"I know." Sophie said.
"They - they killed her. They said it was an accident, but that company killed her. I want them hurt!" The woman said, still emotional.
"Now... we can't pay you." The man said.
"That's okay. Want to tell them Sophie?" Kaira smiled.
"We work on an... alternative revenue stream." Sophie told them.
The wife calmed down some.
"I don't understand. The judge said we couldn't appeal. What are you gonna do?" The man questioned, confused.
"People like that... corporations like that, they have all the money, they have all the power, and they use it to make people like you go away. Right now, you're suffering under an enormous weight. We provide... leverage." Nate said.
They got more information and left. The crew completed the job and got the compensation for the couple and took down the company. The crew gave their numbers to each other and went their separate ways for the time being. Kaira really enjoyed working with this crew of people. Each one had their own skill set that allowed them to help the others out. Kaira really liked the dynamic of that. She really hoped that Nate would call her soon for the next job.