SPN, Alastair, teaching Dean the ropes (and needles and razors) of hellish torturing
Safekeeping - SPN, Alastair teaching Dean, hard R for gore
"You see, gotta get it tighter."
The rough ropes dug into the already raw and bleeding skin on the boy's wrists. Dean twisted the wheel another notch and watched them become soaked in crimson as the vinegar on the ropes helped open the wounds wider. And propel the screams higher.
"You remember, don't you?" Alastair crooned, hands sliding over the ropes and pressing them deeper, looking up at Dean over the tear-filled eyes of the kid on the rack.
Dean couldn't speak, just turned away to grab the razors, opening up quick, shallow cuts on the trembling torso in front of him. Each excruciating little slice brought forth another shriek and plea for mercy, repetitive waves of sound that Dean learned to tune out as simple background noise.
"Dean, Dean, Dean. No artistry. Take your time. Little Roy here isn't going anywhere but further down. Gotta keep him awake, engaged."
Dean glared at his teacher, one of the flying razors coming close enough to Alastair's face for him to feel the breeze, and slid a blade just under the skin of Roy's ear for safekeeping. Alastair's face split into an ugly smile, more hideous than the rest of him, as Dean turned back to the table.
Dean whipped around to look at him.
"Needles," Alastair repeated more forcefully. In his mind's eyes, he could see Dean stretched out over the wheel, a needle in every inch of skin, trembling and unable, breaking as he begged to be allowed to torture damned souls.
Defiantly Dean moved his hand to a slender whip, and Alastair grabbed his wrist. Moving Dean's hand with implacable strength, he covered his hand over Dean's and gripped two needles between their fingers.
"Pick, Dean," Alastair said, taloned hand and burning skin keeping his protégé on the straight and narrow path. Slanting ever downwards.
Dean turned to look at Alastair, his hatred a beautifully palpable force, and raised the needles high.
"I'd rather stick a needle in my eye," Dean snarled, and brought his hand down over Roy's face. The screams and struggles until now seemed tame in comparison as the boy heedlessly sawed his wrists to the bone against the ropes with his mindless, agonized thrashing.
"Oh, see no evil, Dean. Not bad. But you got to get more creative to pass this little test." Alastair's smile was venom and smoke on the pain-filled air.
At the praise, Dean's face twisted in nausea and pride. Looking over his shoulder at the blood-stained rack, and the futile writhing of the creature upon it, Dean turned to pick up more needles, under Alastair's critical eye.
Supernatural, Castiel/Dean, multiorgasmic men
Power and Light - SPN Dean/Castiel NC-17
"Cas... What are you doing to me? I-," Dean choked himself to silence, hands clutching Castiel's back, nails scoring invisible paths down his unchanging skin as he felt himself soaring, flying as pleasure seared through him. For the fifth time.
Castiel didn't bother to answer, just rocked Dean further back, pushing him up on his shoulders, making it almost impossible to brace, impossible to push, impossible to be anything but held open and helpless before the strength thrusting into him. He hadn't stopped the first time, when Dean had yelled out his name. Nor the second, when he'd screamed it, nor the third or fourth when Dean had gasped in utter astonishment.
Every time Castiel released in him was like being filled with light and power. Dean's human frame should be raw and sensitive and bleeding right now, but instead just rose in appreciation again and again, cock hard, balls tight, better and better with each orgasm.
The angel looked down at him, eyes luminous, nearly glowing in the dim light, as if the glory within him was beginning to shine through his vessel's skin. Dean didn't know what to say, his useless hands now clutching at the bed beneath him, pointlessly anchoring him when he was ready to launch into space again. Castiel's name went from a protest to a chant, exhorting him to not stop.
Castiel actually smiled as Dean's head went back, his body arching into the angel's as he came with him, brilliant energy searing inside Dean and on Castiel's skin.
"God, Cas," Dean managed, strength returning as Castiel thrust more shallowly, teasingly. Dean had taught him that, a way to tantalize one's partner, and a wicked grin crossed his face. Gathering up his lust-lax limbs, Dean twisted just a bit and pushed Cas back, settling himself in the angel's lap. He could see his face, read him better, kiss him finally, even as Cas firmly settled his hands on Dean's hips and kept up his leisurely pace.
"I am not He," Castiel murmured.
"Close enough for me," Dean said. Christ on a cracker, Dean felt himself going for number seven. He'd once been in a threesome that hadn't involved that many orgasms between all the participants!
"Do not blaspheme."
"That was this is?" Dean asked, eyelids fluttering as Cas deepened his thrusts, effortlessly moving him how he wanted. "Punishment for blasphemy?"
"No." Castiel paused until Dean could look him squarely in the face again. "For every time you did not speak of what you wanted. For every time you denied being a good man. For every word you spoke that meant to hurt in order to help."
Dean felt a thrill of fear joining with the pleasure building in his body. He would more than glow before this was over. He'd be glass, transparent, filled with light and power and Castiel...
"Cas, we could be here a long time," Dean whispered.
Castiel twisted slightly, thrusting himself deep, and Dean gave a muted shout as his body gave up again. He clutched hard at Castiel, watching his seed disappearing into the angel's glow, and almost laughed when his body began to get interested yet again.
"It pleases me to carry out this punishment," Castiel said solemnly, his thumb brushing along the edge of Dean's hip. Dean just leaned forward to kiss him, the light around them muting as Dean captured his lips for several long minutes. His body broke again in pleasure as they breathed the same air, and Dean laughed very softly as they broke the kiss.
"Guilty as charged."
Castiel's expression became that of a stern taskmaster as he bent to filling Dean with the power and light of Heaven's merciful wrath.
Supernatural, Castiel + or / any, owl
Athena - Supernatural, Castiel-Dean, PG-13
When observing a trained Hunter, who was searching for his monstrous prey in the desolate northern woods, it did not do to be seen in a human form. The badly-confused owl's tiny soul fluttered about Castiel's greater power as he examined his brother's future Vessel.
Large eyes took in every detail of the young man stalking through the underbrush almost as silently as Castiel could fly in this body. Dean knelt, waiting for the werewolf he knew was to come, trusting his father to make the kill shot, knowing he was only to observe. Him and his brother, crouching nearby in Dean's shadow. Yet his own gun was loaded with silver bullets, the owl could hear them clicking sharply into place even better than the angel inside him.
Flexing feathery wings, a soft and weak contrast to his own, but still a welcome change from the soft-skinned vessel he would take in due time, Castiel launched himself from the tree branch and flew over Dean and Sam's heads, hooting softly in reproof as they all heard the sound of a gun go off distantly. Dean almost threw himself out of the bushes to go running towards the noise (Michael would be proud, he always ran towards conflict, no coward he), but Castiel hooted again, and Dean stopped and quickly looked behind him, at Sam.
Checking himself at Sam's astonished expression, Dean looked straight up into the dim branches of the tree, and somehow spotted Castiel, feathered and big-eyed and wings bated, long talons gripping the bark. Castiel hooted again, and Sam waved his brother back.
"Dean! Please, we don't know where it is!"
Dean looked towards the conflict, heaved a sigh, and went back to his brother, gun out to protect him from any threat. Castiel hooted once again in approval, and pushed off from the tree, silent wings sending him higher. Dean was coming along well, with courage enough for Michael, protective instincts enough for their Father. Given time, the wisdom to use properly them would come. Soaring into the moonlit night, Castiel abandoned his temporary vessel gently, letting the owl fly free.
Any, any/any, tentacles
More - Supernatural/Dean/Tentacles, NC-17. Porn, Genders-bending randomness and Alastair being mean
It started with threads, tiny little things that twined over Dean's skin, more a tickle than anything else. He almost might have enjoyed it, if he hadn't known by now that any hint of something good from Alastair's hands quickly turned into something horrible.
The threads thickened as they wound around his limbs, his neck, pressing into his thighs, circling his chest, and running into his hair. They became bigger, stronger, thicker, wetter, as they began to slip and writhe on him, the slight texture peaking his nipples and making his cock swell. He was shocked how fast he got hard, but after years, decades of being ripped open, the pleasure was addictively welcome.
Dean experimentally tried to move as the slick muscled tentacles crowded up his thighs, and found his limbs stuck fast, his hands only free to caress the strong boneless limbs that slid along his palms. Living ropes encircled his cock, each one squeezing in beautifully coordinated pleasure, slick and hot. Jerking his hips into their grasp, Dean let out a moan as he felt the sweet fire burning in him.
"Yes..." He choked off his words in the next second as more tentacles slid across his ass and then in, delicately touching, testing, sliding across every spot until they found the one that made Dean open his mouth in a wanton gasp, hips bucking back and forth to try to thrust his cock forward and simultaneously impale himself deeper on the tentacles inside him.
They seemed to get the idea and swelled, writhing in him in a way that turned his bones to jelly, even as his cock was have every inch caressed with its own personal tentacle masseuse. As Dean's mouth fell open, more tentacles forced their way inside, dripping something musky onto his tongue. At the taste, Dean abandoned reason and sucked hard, feeling his body being slammed back and forth by the slick grip on his limbs, each wave driving him higher.
More! he shouted mentally, and the tentacles spewed into him, burning hot liquid that made him seize and thrash, fire and lights going off behind his eyes. Weakness gripped him as he felt his body seem to liquefy in the tentacles' grasp.
"You want more, Dean?" Alastair's unwelcome voice invaded his haze of intense pleasure.
Drowning in the first good feelings he'd had in twenty-nine years of unimaginable pain, Dean nodded, hands grasping the slick hardness across his palms. The feeling of weakness intensified, along with the rising wave of another impending orgasm, and Dean felt his body shift.
Shrinking, he became small, petite, no longer able to fight the strength wrapping up every limb. Breasts blossomed, sensitive and new, nipples aching to be touched. Dean felt himself scream, high and thin, when a few tentacles diverted to wrap around them, tugging, squeezing, and sucking. There was no cock now, just another hole, open and needy. More slick and writhing tentacles filled him up, pushing, licking, pulsing out tiny bursts of hot fluid, making him scream around the thickness in his throat.
It was too much, too strange, and not enough. Not nearly enough. Dean crashed between the thick ropes holding him hostage, burning and coming, thrashing helplessly in his bonds, pushing for more penetration, more thickness, more filling him up, more to take away the pain and fill the hollow void left behind by Alastair's knives.
more... Dean clenched hard around the invading tentacles, feeling himself stretched to the limit as more and more slick ropes of muscle raced to fill him.
More... His throat was full; he could barely breathe, but it didn't matter, as long as they kept filling him with their come, kept making him orgasm again and again, it didn't matter.
MORE! It didn't matter what shape he wore, or how helpless he felt, as long as the tentacles kept it up, let him come, made him come over and over and over-.
"Very nice, Dean."
Alastair looked down at Dean, suddenly back in his old form, strapped to the rack as usual, and grinned. "It's going to feel so great, now that you've had a little break." He picked up a freshly-sharpened razor and leaned over his victim with a pleased and ugly smile. Dean, so recently wrenched from a sea of endless pleasure, screamed in agony as the razor came down for what felt like the very first time.
SPN, Dean/Jo, John and Bill arrange a marriage between their children, a common practice in established Hunter families.
Together – Supernatural, Dean/Jo – PG-13
When Sam Winchester was three months old, and Joanna Beth Harvelle was five months old, John and Mary Winchester took their eldest son to meet his future bride.
"She looks little," Dean declared, looking into her crib with some fascination.
"She'll grow," Ellen promised, her arm around her husband. "She'll be big and strong as your mom, someday."
"She should marry Sam. They're the same age!" Dean said.
Mary smothered a laugh and hugged little Sam closer. "But you're the big brother, first born, and so is Joanna."
"Like, first in a race?"
"Like first in a race," John said, nodding.
"You like her, Dean?" Bill Harvelle bent down until he was at Dean's eye level, and put his hand on his daughter's crib. Dean stared at Joanna very carefully, and finally nodded.
"She doesn't smell, like Sam."
The adults chuckled softly as John reached down to shake Bill's hand.
"Then it's official. Wedding in eighteen years!"
Mary Winchester survived Azazel's first attempt on her life three months later, but died when Sam was four, to a surprise attack by a vampire. John was almost inconsolable, but Dean knew they had to pull through, not just for Sam's sake, but for Jo's as well. In ten more years, it would be Dean's turn to take care of the family.
The orbits of the Winchesters and Harvelles crossed randomly, as the Impala carried them past the Roadhouse, or Bill's truck would catch sight of their car in some haunted little podunk town. Dean and Jo would spend a few precious hours catching up whenever they could, exchanging hunting stories and shooting techniques, showing off scars, and wondering if each felt as strange as the other when they entered a new school. Dean at least had Sam for company on the road. Jo only had Dean's letters.
"And what about that Kristen girl?" Jo asked when she was fourteen. Dean bit his lip, maintained stoic silence, and tried not to blush about the prom date he'd had at his last high school.
"I'm not an idiot," she added, into the awkward pause. "The guys at the Roadhouse talk plenty."
"Um..." Dean managed.
"We're not married yet." Dean heaved a sigh of relief. "By the way, Dad gave me a knife for my last birthday. Want to see?"
Dean lifted a cheap ring for himself in the next town and began to wear it as a reminder. Jo was damn good with that blade.
When Jo was eighteen, Sam left for college.
"He got a squeeze. Civilian, named Jessica. I think she's good for him. Him and Dad... it got ugly. He just need some time off, I think," Dean said into the phone, rubbing his head with his hand.
"I wish I'd had a sister," Jo said. "I think he kinda wished he had someone..."
"We'll do something, Jo. We gotta make this work."
When Jo was nineteen, she made her dad invite John Winchester to her wedding. Bill Harvelle had lost an arm to a bad hunting trip with John, but Jo hadn't let her parents call off her wedding. She'd been waiting all her life for it.
Dean pried Sam out of college with a crowbar, and made him find an excuse to leave Jess behind.
"It's a Hunter wedding, Sammy. I don't think you want to explain everything to her, right?" He had to have Sam there to witness; he'd been waiting most of his life for this.
They'd gotten married on consecrated ground, over the site of an old church, not far from the back of the Roadhouse. Salt ringed the sanctuary, and they'd put a devil's trap around the alter, just to be safe.
Dean gave Jo blessed hunting knife, she gave him a pearl-handled automatic .45. They'd gotten married in leather and denim, weighted down with every tool of their trade. Ellen had been the one to perform the ceremony, with a few additions to the vows that if Dean ever hurt her little girl, she'd flay him alive and sacrifice him to a wendigo.
"Yes, ma'am!" Dean agreed, impressed by her vehemence. Jo shot a warning glance at her mother and pulled Dean in for a hard kiss. He bent her back, returning the embrace with eighteen-plus years of interest, and finally pulled away to see their new combined family beaming at them. Most of them weren't speaking to each other, but maybe they could fix that, in time.
Supernatural, Sam & Dean, the sum of all fears: Clowns on a Plane
Get These Mothertrucking Clowns Off This Mothertrucking Plane! - Supernatural, Sam & Dean, PG-13
"Oh God," Sam moaned, very very quietly over the din of squeaky noses and horns, whoopee cushions, and balloon animals.
"It was your damn idea to fly," Dean said, teeth clenched and fingers digging into the arms of his seat as the floor tilted beneath them and the ground fell away. He closed his eyes, turned green, opened them again, and turned greener. And paler.
"I didn't know the Ringling Brothers Clown Reunion was going to Denver too!" Sam said faintly, flinching as a cheerful, polka-dot clown paused by their seats, twisted them a balloon giraffe, patted Sam on the head, and continued up the aisle.
Sam shuddered all over and shooed the giraffe onto Dean's lap. Dean didn't even react, as he was simultaneously trying to look out the window, not look out the window, and not throw up.
"Why the hell did there have to be a snowstorm in April and block the roads?" Dean managed.
"Oh, the usual," a new voice commented. Sam and Dean turned simultaneously to see a clown in a blue and yellow striped suit, his face painted with a red smile and blue eyes. He grinned widely at them and handed Sam a balloon angel.
"Gabriel?" Sam asked, too shaken by the hideous clown wig to sound angry.
Dean started groping in his jacket for something lethal, and jerked his hand out in shock as a squeaky toy gun tumbled out into his lap.
"Just enjoy the flight, boys," Gabriel said. The plane gave a full-body shudder as it hit some turbulence, and the sound of honking noses filled the cabin.
"This is worse than Hell," Dean opined. Sam couldn't agree with him more.
Supernatural, Castiel, Dean, Sam, + any, the trouble with having more than two people in the Impala is...
The Trouble Is... - Supernatural, Castiel, Dean, Sam, PG
The problem with having more than two people in the Impala was that after several years of only having two people in the Impala, it was hard to adjust. Dean and Sam were used to slinging bags of food or supplies in the back seat without looking. They must have clocked Castiel in the face with fast-food bags at least a half-dozen times. They couldn't hurt him, but Sam was always nervous about accidentally disrespecting the angel.
Then there were the times that Sam and Dean were out of cash and had to crash in the car for a night or two. No problem with two, one in the backseat, one with the passenger seat cranked all the way back over the other's feet, but if Bobby was with them, that made a problem. Cas didn't sleep, but it seemed kinda wrong to kick him out of the car while they tried to contort themselves into something resembling comfortable.
There was also the problem with the speakers. Dean could listen to his albums with Sam in the front while they talked, no problem, but it made it really hard to hear someone talking from the back seat. This was particularly awkward when Castiel was trying to explain some nuance of Heavenly lore over AC/DC.
Above all, the trouble with having more than two in the Impala is Sam's damn digestive problems. Now he got to disgust two or three people instead of just Dean. A week after Cas joined their daily road trips, Dean banned burritos. Forever.
Pull, Crowley/Castiel, supernatural sex, R
I always wanted to touch them, you know? Like pulling a girl's pigtails in class; it's so fun to do what you know is going to get you in trouble. It's what makes me the best at what I do. I know what tempts people the most, and I let them give into it, for an appropriate price. And being able to give into your own personal temptations, well that's the perks of being the King of the Crossroads, isn't it?
It helps that he's drunk. Two whole liquor stores, now that's something impressive even from my own admitedly jaded standards. And anything that can impress me is a bit of a turn-on. When it's an angel that's doing it, so sloppy drunk that he's letting a demon toy with his wings and groaning into the mattress like he just found Heaven there... That's more than a bit of a turn-on.
Just for fun, I tug on them a bit harder, running my hands through the feathers to see if I can get any new noises out of Castiel. Ah yes. Those noises. So good to get the kind that make all the muscles in his ass flex and the back of his neck turn red. Lovely to see him push into the pulling, begging for more.
Never used to be able to do this before, mind you. Would have burned my hands to a crisp touching him a year ago. Now there's just sweat and the sweet stink of liquor and an angel rutting against a bed because even though Dean Winchester is a walking receptacle for VD, he "doesn't see Cas that way." Someone might sell their soul to ease the frustration after hearing something like that.
I dig deep into the feathers, crushing them in handfuls and pulling back hard. He spasms, helpless, and there's a new tang on the air. Lovely. He doesn't resist when I pull him back flush against me and let him feel what he wants. The sounds coming out of him now are bloody Enochian gibberish, angel sex-talk, as I run my hands up and down the arches of his wings. He's trembling, a flushing virgin of all the damned things (and I know most of them), wanting without the least idea of what he's in for.
"Say 'pretty please,'" I growl, low and rumbling enough to imitate what he really wants. I punctuate the move with running my hands down the soft feathers near his back, and have to keep myself from nearly purring when he melts into my hands. It's criminal, even for me, to have this kind of softened butter on my tongue.
Doesn't stop me though. Demons don't play fair, and I play with loaded dice, always.
Dean doesn't know what he's missing. A pull on those feathers, and he's yours. I grab on with both hands and hang on for the ride.
Leverage, Eliot, insomnia
Retirement plan, Leverage, Eliot, PG 13
Hazard of the profession, that's what some would call it. Hardison might stay up all night playing video games by choice, or Parker might spend the early morning hours timing security guards, but neither of them had problems sleeping afterward. Sophie slept in the security of her own lies, and Nate... Well, half a bottle of something off the bar and he would be out, no problem. Whatever sorrows he was drowning he managed to keep quiet at night.
Eliot didn't have that luxury. He held the coffee cup loosely, back to the wall of the all-night diner, eyes on the door, sipping the allegedly calming chamomile tea Sophie had slipped him under cover of the typical cup of joe. No point in staying in his apartment, staring at the backs of his eyelids. No point in risking overdoing a workout just to get rest.
He had to be at his best, had to be ready to defend his team. He'd worked with a torn bicep in Botswana, a badly sprained ankle in Cambodia, cracked ribs in Afghanistan, and worse in other places. He'd crawled through mud with broken bones and still beaten the living tar out of guys who'd been in his way. He'd gotten the job done and depended on no one but himself.
And they depended on that expertise. His team depended on him to shield them from threats with his body and skills, to take those hits and shut down the bullies so justice could be done. Eliot Spencer, from hired thug to Robin Hood do-gooder. He grinned slightly behind his mug and swallowed another gulp of warm tea.
It wasn't his conscience that kept him up, as poetical as that might be. If he'd been truly troubled with his chosen profession, he'd have gotten out years ago. He didn't worry over the people he'd hurt; he worried over the people that he'd seen hurt, with no way to defend themselves. Taking down trained mooks was one thing, beating up those who couldn't defend themselves was quite another.
Eliot felt his grip on the mug tighten and deliberately loosed his fingers. They creaked a bit, and he took another long gulp of tea, stretching his neck to ease the strain. That, right there, that was the only thing he could pinpoint that kept him up. That strain. The aches in his body before he warmed up.
Being a hitter was a young man's game, particularly if they distained weapons as Eliot did. A hacker, a grifter, a mastermind, they could keep working their magic until they were old and gray. And hadn't Parker's mentor proved that even an old thief was far from harmless? If she could no longer flip through laser beams or rappel down elevator shafts, she could fall back on other skills to get the job done.
Eliot could see the end of his road, and it was frighteningly bleak. One day he would move too slow and be unable to block a deadly blow. Something would break in his body, and Hardison or Sophie, Parker or Nate would pay the consequences. They liked him, trusted him even, but if he couldn't protect them? What then? He knew a few things they didn't, but not as much as Nate, not as much that Hardison couldn't find out.
Yes, he knew how to cook, he knew fashion, he knew how to tend a horse and ride, fix a car, he could sing and play a guitar. He knew two hundred ways to kill someone with his right hand, and had a price on his head in a half a dozen countries. Retirement would be... chancy. At best.
Looking out the window, Eliot sipped his tea, stretched out the aches in his body, and watched the sun slowly dawn on a new day.
Leverage, Eliot/Any (or unpaired), For the longest time, his dream was to go down saving the life of someone who deserved to live
Better With Them – Leverage, Eliot, R for darkness
He feels the strain in his legs as he lunges, then the mule-kick of the bullet in his chest. She screams, blood-smeared but safe, and all her dreams along with her.
Eliot twists in the vice of arms, trying to get the right amount of leverage, and the mercenary gets his hands into position alongside his head. Eliot shouts for his charge to run, watching him disappear out the door, and knows he won't let the injustice stand. Eliot feels his neck break with a surge of hope.
The edge of the roof loomed, too close, but Eliot didn't stop for a second. He and the bodyguard would go over together, twenty stories down, and the one he was protecting would be safe, free to keep doing his job of saving people.
Bleeding was a slower death than he'd like, but it was inevitable this deep into the woods. He'd shot the flares, given her all his supplies, told her how to keep herself safe, and hauled himself far away from her so the bears wouldn't find her. She'd learn, she'd figure things out, and she'd be one of the best people in the world.
Better them than him. The world would be better with them in it.
Eliot woke up with echoes of pain all over, chest and neck and deep in his bones, and smiled. He didn't need to tell the team; they'd assume he had a death wish. It couldn't be farther from the truth. He just wanted them to live.
Leverage, Eliot + grocery shopping, Who knew going to the market for vegetables would require a black belt in judo?
Caprese - Leverage, Eliot, PG-13
He'd picked out the meat himself yesterday, so he could have time to smoke and cook it low and slow so it would come out perfect. He had grown all the herbs himself, dug up his own potatoes, but had found, much to his dismay, that the swiss chard and tomatoes were just not up to par. The tomatoes weren't going to be ripe in time, and the two days they had been on a job in Miami had allowed bugs to get at the swiss chard.
Clearly, this wouldn't do.
Eliot was at the farmer's market at the earliest possible hour, and prowled amongst the booths and stalls to find the freshest possible produce. He found the swiss chard soon enough, and a surprisingly good bunch of ramps to go with it in the wilted greens. Someone had absolutely fresh mozzarella, with free samples to assure him of its quality. Farm fresh eggs would have enough time to be deviled before the barbeque tonight, but he had to find fresh tomatoes, or he might as well call the whole thing off.
He spied a bit of red at the end of one row, and took a beeline straight for the display of heirloom tomatoes. Even on a casual glance, they looked perfect, ripe and unblemished, with excellent color. On a more critical stare, they looked even better.
"I'll take eight," he said, and realized someone next to him had said the exact same thing.
He turned to face his competitor, a lanky brunette he recognized as a frequent visitor to his usual dojo. Lauren, he remembered, had a black belt in tae kwan do, and could break four boards with her feet.
"I need those tomatoes," he growled, giving her a stare that strong men hadn't been able to face.
"I have a dinner party," she said, narrowing her gaze and not moving an inch.
"My friends are coming over. And this caprese salad is going to be perfect," Eliot said, glaring daggers.
"I'm making my father's famous hamburgers."
"Not with these tomatoes."
Lauren put her canvas bag of purchases down on the ground and handed her purse to the lady tending the booth. Eliot gave his bag to the guy in the booth across the way, with a stare that promised if he didn't get the bag back in the same condition it had been given to him, limbs would be extracted.
"Let's go, caprese," Lauren taunted.
"Ready when you are, hamburger."
Lauren launched herself at him with a kick that could have sent him flying half the length of the row. Eliot twisted, grabbed her ankle on the way past, and helped her make the journey herself. She skidded into a display of flower pots, came up spitting mad, and lunged for him again.
Lauren was sweat-soaked and exhausted, but not really hurt, while Eliot was sporting a bruised knee, wrenched shoulder, cracked rib, and had a gash on his nose where her fingernails had inadvertently scratched him. He didn't like fighting women, as a rule, and was holding back from hurting her. Unfortunately, he was going to lose those precious tomatoes if Lauren didn't give up soon.
"Ready for a break?" she asked, foot sliding into position for another one of her devastating kicks.
Eliot sighed, but at that moment, a car alarm went off, and then screeching tires could be heard in the parking lot. Lauren looked behind her, eyes open in shock.
"My car!" she shouted, and sprinted for the vanishing vehicle.
Eliot wasted no time in paying for his tomatoes, getting his bag of purchases, and getting them safely home.
"Wow, Eliot, this is amazing!" Sophie said, eyes rolling up as she tasted the fresh basil, mozzarella, and tomatoes, lightly seasoned and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.
"Seriously man, who'd you have to fight to get this? It's awesome," Hardison said. He was on his second plate, and already had his eye on the smoking grill Eliot was tending near the table.
"Fifth-rank tae kwan do black belt," Eliot said blandly, checking to make sure the ribs were getting just warm enough.
"Either way, we really appreciate this," Nate said, sipping at the white wine that was the only alcohol Eliot had provided.
Parker wandered over to the grill and watched Eliot fiddle with the flames with open fascination.
"You're sure she was a fifth-degree black belt?" she asked, eyebrows furrowed.
"It's a very distinctive style."
"Cool." Parker tossed him the keys to Lauren's car as she went back to join the group.
Grinning to himself, Eliot took the ribs off the grill.
Leverage, team, Con Air
The Aruba Job - Leverage, team, PG
"Ladies and gentlemen, if you'd please bring your attention to the front of the cabin..." Sophie began the safety lecture as if she'd done it a thousand times before. And, truthfully, she'd probably seen it that many times. Being a constantly-traveling grifter had more perks than merely the obvious.
With all the attention focused on her, except for a handful of bored businessmen who probably had seen the lecture as often as she, Hardison was ready to take control of the plane's transponder, making it continue to broadcast it was going to Aruba, while he monitored the surrounding airspace to be certain they weren't going to bump into anyone they shouldn't.
"Parker, you ready up there?" he asked quietly.
Parker, tightly squeezed into an overhead compartment, muttered something as she wiggled out into the wider spaces between the plane's skin.
"Give me two point six minutes," she offered, sliding around live wires and conduits until she reached the transponder and plugged in Hardison's brand new gadget. "Done!" Wiggling around the struts and braces until she found a comfortable position, she rested her head on her arm, padded by her parka to keep warm, and took a snooze.
"Did she fall asleep? Parker? Seriously?" Eliot demanded, tugging at the throat of his captain's uniform.
"She got it done, FAA thinks we're on course. Just get us down in Puerto Rico and we can hand Mr. Franks and his suitcase full of cash to the marshals," Nate said calmly.
"Last time I commandeered a plane was when I got the first price on my head," Eliot muttered.
"We're not exactly commandeering it so much as... delaying it a bit," Nate pointed out.
"Besides, Puerto Rico is lovely this time of year," Sophie said, tinkering in the galley to deliver Mr. Franks his doped cup of coffee.
"I like birds," Parker added sleepily. "Can I get a parrot?"
"Is she sleep talking in the middle of a plane heist?" Hardison asked incredulously.
"Shut up, all of you," Eliot snapped, as the plane soared over the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Leverage, team, it doesn't end with happily ever after
The Last Job - Leverage, team, R for darkness
Sophie disappeared into one of a dozen false identities, in any number of her homes, in any number of countries where she had built a life for herself. She had to go alone; it was too dangerous to contact anyone else. From what Hardison could tell, she never let anyone else close ever again.
Eliot's past caught up to him, despite everything the team had tried to do to throw up roadblocks for the people after his head. He fought valiantly for five years, taking up small protection jobs on the side regardless of the risk. Hardison found out why Eliot had dropped off the map when he realized someone had collected on his bounty.
Parker was the best of them at her chosen profession, and also perhaps the most paranoid. She was arrested four times, and each time was out of prison before the sun went down on her first day in. Five times as many thefts could be credited to her, with no evidence to show for it, logically. She visited Hardison a couple of times, and then vanished completely, saying she owed it to him to not get him caught. The number of close calls he'd been having took an abrupt nose dive after her last visit, and he had learned to be content knowing he had a psychotic blonde guardian angel out there. Somewhere.
Nate, he no longer had to keep tabs on. He'd been the one on the front line when that last job had gone so far south. Oakdale Cemetery was his home now, and Hardison made sure (though several false fronts and identities) his grave was kept up. Maggie had sent an anonymous message of thanks to one of those false names.
Hardison had been safely cocooned in his electronic world on that last job, far enough from the job site to avoid detection, and had been the only one to avoid having his face and identity splashed all over the criminal underworld. He'd gotten away clean and empathic protestations from everyone else had made him stay that way.
"You try to fix this and get yourself in the same mess, I will kick your ass from here to your nana's house, go it?" Eliot had told him, looking ready to enforce his threat even with a broken arm.
"Nate wouldn't want you to get caught for our sakes, and neither would I. Don't try to find me, Hardison, I can take care of myself," Sophie had said to him, expression a determined veneer over sadness. Her clothes were still spattered with Nate's blood.
Parker had grabbed him, kissed him on the mouth, and then dove out the window, her short, burned-off hair flying in all directions.
He had never tried to find them. But he still kept tabs, jimmied records where he could, and kept up a few important things. The Nate Ford Leverage fund for legal troubles was only one of them, but it helped keep their team alive.