Disclaimer – Leverage is owned by Electric Entertainment and TNT. If I owned it, we'd have more episodes, and Eliot would have a lot more screen time!
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Author's Note – Takes place sometime during the second half of Season Two.
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They sat in McRory's, joking and laughing, and gradually coming down from the rush that a successful job always gave them. Well, Hardison joked, Parker laughed, and Eliot mostly rolled his eyes and flirted with the waitresses.
Nate had gone upstairs as soon as the client left, and Tara had left shortly afterward. None of the team's three younger members felt like calling it a night yet, so they'd commandeered one of the coveted tables, and they showed no signs of giving it up anytime soon, much to the annoyance of the pub's other patrons.
The Sox were down in the Bronx battling the Yankees, and the Lakers were in town as the Celtics fought for a playoff spot. The pub was packed -- even more than usual for a Saturday night -- and the intermittent cheers and boos were loud and raucous.
Hardison was mid-punchline when Eliot abruptly stood up and left the table.
"What -- where you goin'?" Hardison sputtered.
"Need a drink," Eliot answered curtly as he shouldered his way through the crowd toward the bar.
Parker glanced at the hitter's mostly full bottle of beer. "He's gonna drink two at one time?" she asked, confused. "He never even drinks more than two at all."
Despite the crush around the bar, Eliot found a spot with no problem. People tended to unconsciously give him space, as one would an explosive device or a half-tamed wildcat. His friends' eyes widened as the bartender slid a shot of Jack in front of him. He toyed with the glass -- spinning it slowly on the bar but not drinking it -- as he smiled at the gorgeous blonde in the short black dress, seated on the stool beside him. She smiled back, and something he murmured had her throwing all that long blonde hair back as she laughed.
Hardison huffed in annoyance. "Seriously? He ditched us to flirt."
Parker shrugged. "She's prettier than you are."
Someone in the throng bumped into Eliot, and they watched as the normally graceful hitter staggered, knocking heavily into the man next to him at the bar. He patted the guy on the shoulder in apology, and Parker gasped and sat bolt upright.
"What?" Hardison asked, alarmed.
"He just lifted something off that guy!"
Hardison stared at her. "What?" he asked again. "Nah, he didn't. I didn't see anything."
She looked at him in disbelief. "You really missed that?"
Hardison set his drink down with a thunk as Eliot palmed a cell phone they'd never seen before. "No freakin' way."
Parker smiled like a proud parent. "He's been practicing."
"Yeah, okay, but why?" Hardison watched, baffled, as Eliot nonchalantly thumbed the phone as if texting or scrolling through the menus. The woman he'd been talking to had half-turned, talking to one of the other women she was with. "What's he doing?"
Parker swallowed the last of her drink. "I don't know. Let's go find out!"
She was up and halfway across the pub before he registered it.
"Park -- wait!" He sighed, tossed back his drink, and followed her.
He glanced back, unsurprised to find their table already occupied. "Never gonna get that back," he said sadly.
He caught up with Parker just in time to see Eliot close the phone and glare briefly at her, warning her off before he returned his attention to the blonde, who'd just turned back to him. Parker lingered in the crowd, several feet away from Eliot.
"He's working something," she whispered -- Parker-whispered, of course, which meant that half a dozen people crammed up against them turned their heads to stare at her and Hardison.
"We'll just watch from here," Hardison murmured warily. If the hitter was up to something, he didn't want to be responsible for screwing it up. Eliot was always vaguely annoyed at him anyway, and he'd seen what happened when "annoyed Eliot" Hulked into "supremely pissed off Eliot".
The hitter still held his mark's phone in his cupped palm, below the level of the bar, as he chatted and flirted with the blonde. It was only when he felt the man shift beside him that he glanced away from her, as if distracted. Crouching down, he slid the phone from palm to fingertips, as if picking it up.
"'scuse me, sir," he said politely. When the man glanced at him, he added, "This your phone?"
"Yes!" the man exclaimed, the alarm in his eyes clearly visible from where Parker and Hardison stood, even in the pub's dim light. "That's mine!"
He practically jumped for it, but Eliot kept it just out of his reach.
"You sure?" Eliot asked doubtfully. "Now that I look at it, looks kinda like mine." He patted at his jeans with his free hand.
"Gimme my phone!" the man yelled, loud enough to have the bartender and several patrons turn to stare at him. He grabbed for his phone and, as if surprised by the move, Eliot deftly bobbled it, managing to flip it open and hit a few buttons as he did so.
"Okay, okay!" he said in surrender. "If you're sure it's your phone..."
He moved as if to hand it over, and then stopped.
"Hey," he said in surprise, pulling it back. He turned to the blonde beside him, showing her the open phone as the man sputtered with rage. "Hey, Michelle... isn't this you? D'you give this guy permission to take a picture of your legs?"
"Oh, hell, no," Hardison said angrily, just as the color drained from Michelle's face.
"What?" she cried. "No!"
The man tried to lunge over the hitter's shoulder to get his phone, and Eliot reached back with his free hand, planting it on his chest and grasping a handful of shirt to hold him. He flipped to the next picture on the phone. "This one kinda looks like your friend there's chest. 'scuse me, miss -- I think Michelle said your name was Jenna? Is this you?"
"What?" Jenna exclaimed as her drink slipped out of her hand and shattered on the floor. "Me?" She glared at the man Eliot held. "You asshole!"
People were definitely staring now, and the man nervously licked his lips. "I don't know what you're talking about, man," he said as he began struggling to get away. "That's not even my phone! That's your phone, or something. Hey, man, let me go! I'mma kick your ass!"
Eliot snorted at that, effortlessly holding him as he glanced around him to the man on the other side of the "photographer". "You hear him say it was his phone?" he asked the man, who was watching the action, enthralled, beer halfway to his mouth. "Twice?"
Lowering his beer, the man nodded. "Yeah," he said, and now there was anger in his voice. "I heard him."
"There's over three dozen pictures on here," Eliot said, and his genial con voice was gone. His words were a low snarl, vibrating with fury. "Twenty different women. You've been snapping pics all night!" He grasped the man's shirt in his hands, slamming him up against the bar so hard that glasses and bottles rattled, drawing even more attention.
The man was trembling now, shaking his head wildly as tears streamed down his cheeks. "No! I just -- please!"
"Shut the hell up!" Eliot growled, and the man whimpered and cringed as the hitter let go of him with the hand that held the phone, raising it.
"Don't!" Hardison yelled, leaping forward as he recognized Eliot's intent to smash the phone -- either on the bar or the bastard's head, he wasn't sure. The hitter's gaze swung toward him. "Don't break it, man. That's evidence."
Realization dawned in Eliot's eyes, and he nodded. He gestured to Michelle and her friends. "You ladies wanna press charges?"
"Charges?" Michelle repeated faintly, but the word seemed to snap her out of her shock. Fury leapt into her eyes, and with a shriek, she rushed the man. Eliot deftly nipped out of her way, leaving him to her.
The pub -- which had gone fairly silent -- was suddenly filled with shouting and shrieking. Eliot handed the cell phone to the bartender for safekeeping. "In case they get around to the charges," he said. "After. Might wanna call the police," he added before stepping around the quickly developing brawl.
Normally, he'd have joined in, given the asshole a couple of bruises and breaks to remember him by, but he was still feeling the aches from the job they'd just finished. And he wanted to get Parker and Hardison out of the pub before things got out of hand. Which they were rapidly starting to do.
"Let's go," he ordered as he reached them. "Cops'll be here soon. We need to be gone before then."
"They're gonna tear him apart," Hardison observed as they started wading toward the door.
Anger tightened Eliot's features again. "Bastard deserves it."
"How'd you know, man?"
Eliot shrugged. "He looked nervous. Noticed he had his phone out every time he was near a woman, had it out longer if she was in a short skirt or low-cut top. Been tracking him since we got in here. I didn't know for sure until I got his phone."
"That was a good lift!" Parker told him.
Eliot nodded in acknowledgment, the pride and amusement in his eyes briefly banishing the anger.
"What would you have done if he'd caught you?" Hardison asked.
The hitter scowled at him. "He wasn't gonna catch me!" he snapped. Then he shrugged again. "I'd have just kicked his ass."
There was a fresh shriek of female fury, and the man -- now on the ground, trying to protect his head and vital organs -- howled in pain. Eliot smiled. It wasn't a friendly expression.
"This way's better, though," he said. "C'mon, let's go wake Nate up. I'm hungry."
"Ooh! Pancakes! Make pancakes!" Parker demanded, and Eliot rolled his eyes as he shoved them both out the door, leaving chaos behind them.
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Author's Note II -- Something vaguely similar to this has happened to two of my female acquaintances within the last year. It's despicable, and I really wanted someone to pay. Originally, Eliot was just going to beat the hell out of the guy, but the women decided they wanted him.
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