Title: The Homeworld Job
Fandom: Leverage; NCIS; Magnificent Seven (2016), Stargate: SG-1
Characters/Pairings: Eliot Spencer/Quinn; Alec Hardison/Parker; Anthony DiNozzo/Jack O’Neill; Tom Morrow; George Hammond; Sam Chisolm; Goodnight Robicheaux; Billy Rocks; Vasquez; Joshua Faraday; Jack Horne; Red Harvest; Cameron Mitchell; Daniel Jackson; Samantha Carter; Eli David; Malachi Ben-Gidon/Liat Tuvia; Ari Haswari; Ziva David; Original characters;
Word Count: 11,333
Summary: After the Tribunal, Leverage International, gets back to work on their list from the Black Book until the Secretary of Homeworld Security and The Primus get kidnapped. Will the Old Races Bureau of Investigations and the Leverage crew be able to rescue them in time and how does the news coming out of Israel affect the situation?
Tony leaned against the polished walnut bar watching the mating dance of wealthy young Brits and the people who wished they were. The sharks were circling, trying to cut out the weak-willed from the crowd looking for their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Tonight, he is Dante Paddington, American nephew of the current Lord Paddington. A shapely brunette, who’s dress contained about the same amount of material as his scarf, slithered up against him.
“Are you someone?”
“Everyone’s someone, sweetheart.” Tony gave her a little shove away.
“Thank you, Ms. Obvious.”
She gave him the stink eye before slinking off to look for easier prey. Dismissing her from his mind, he looked past her retreating back and spotted his real objective. Rory Leach, a handsome young man, born on the wrong side of England.
Tony cast a small glamour that focused Rory’s attention on him. Dark eyes lit up when he caught sight of Tony’s 6’3” frame slouched against the bar watching the crowd. Winding his way to his side, Tony heard Parker snicker in his ear.
“Looks like he thinks he can sample Tony’s pretzels.”
A true smile graced his handsome face, he had been told the story of Alec Hardison and Parker’s odd courtship. That smile caused an added pep to Rory’s step.
Rory Leach was the product of the generosity of the British le bon ton and their accountants. Scholarships to the best education a poor Londoner could acquire.Leach had caught the attention of the Paddingtons when Liv’s cousin, Geoffrey Buckingham hired the young man as a personal assistant and companion. Geoffrey held Rory in such regard he left the young man $150,000 pounds in his will, but when an official inventory of the Buckingham estate was taken, it was found that $50,000 pounds were missing from the household accounts.
Livonia had asked Tony … Who asked Eliot … Who sicced Hardison on the records his Aunt Liv had forwarded to their office. The family matriarch was concerned Leach would use Geoffrey’s regard to obtain employment with another of their friends to further fatten his wallet. All that led to Tony standing in a London ‘meat market’trying to snare their embezzler by appearing to be slumming with his rich friends. Tony would have rather been back in D.C. with his husband than watching a bunch of kids barely out of school pretending they had the world by the ass.
Leach shoved his way through the crowd until he noticed Tony looking his way. He slowed his rush through the crowd and straightened his spine as though he was taking a stroll to the bar instead of rushing to the Mage wiggling a worm on his hook. He pushed his way to the bar next to Tony, and ordered his drink before adding,“And whatever he’s having.” Pointing at Tony’s glass.
“He’s drinking MacAllan 25.” The bartender arched an eyebrow.
“It’s fine.” Rory winced when the credit slip was plopped down for his signature.
“That’s very generous … Thank you.” Tony dropped his voice in a good imitation of Eliot’s growl. “What do I call such a generous person?”
“Rory Leach, at your service.” He extended his hand.
Tony took the hand more to hold than shake. “Dante Paddington, a pleasure to meet you, Rory.” He let the hand go slowly as though he was reluctant to break contact.
It also gave him the opportunity to determine if the man was Old Races. Thankfully he was Human so that one less worry. A surprised look passed over the handsome face before Rory cleared his expression.
“Paddington? Any relation to the current Lord Charles Paddington?” Dark eyes lit up at the thought.
“He’s my uncle. His sister … My mother married an American.”
“So, you’re just visiting?”
“I was just visiting until Uncle made me an offer I couldn’t turn down, so I’m here permanently,working in the family business.” He ran a finger down the front of Rory’s shirt. “Tell me about you. It’s boring talking about me.” He cajoled.
“I’m between jobs right now. I was the personal assistant to an elderly gentleman who recently passed. He was very good to me, so I have time to look for a position that’s as good as the one I had. I miss the old man.”
“I’m sorry for your loss. I know Uncle would be lost without his executive assistant, but let’stalk about us.” Tony continued to lay on the charm. “I can tell you want to do naughty things to me, but I’m not that easy.”
“You always play hard to get?” Lust and greed glowed through Rory’s expression.
“I don’t play. I’m very much worth the effort … Are you?”
“If you were mine, I would be a most attentive partner.”
“I bet he’d be curled so tight around your bank book he’d look like a husky in the snow.” Eliot growled through his earwig.
“Don’t forget about the little General waiting patiently at home.” Hardison added.
“I have no doubt.”Tony gritted his teeth to keep from sniping at the hacker that there was nothing small about his General. He held up his glass in a toast. “Here’s to the beginning a wonderful relationship.” He waited for Rory to lift his glass.
“To us.” The younger man clicked his glass against Tony’s.
“Take me home?” Tony whispered in Leach’s ear.
“Aren’t we moving a little fast, Dante?”
“That’s how I live … Fast. I love hard and leave a fantastic memory.”
“I’ll need to do a lot of research before I believe you.” Rory teased back.
“I can guarantee there’ll be a lot of something.”
He led the dark-haired man out the door by the hand, convincing Leach they’d have more privacy at his place since Dante was staying with his aunt and uncle. There was kissing and groping in the cab, but the minute they were inside the apartment,Tony hit Leach with a sleeping spell. Shoving the man down on the couch, he waited for the rest of the team.
After he let Parker,Hardison, and Eliot into the apartment to search through Leach’s life, his phone sounded off Jack’s ringtone. His conversation was short and abrupt.
“We need to wrap this up and get home. George and Tom have been kidnapped. A.J. and the security detail were injured trying to protect them. Your Mate is not a happy camper.”
“I can imagine. I wondered why you just knocked Leach out … You’re not usually this heavy-handed.” Eliot shook his head.
“We get done here, we can turn everything over to Aunt Liv and Uncle Charles. Think we could get a ride home on Air Eliot instead of catching a flight?”
“As long as you’re backing me up, otherwise I won’t be able to work for at least a day.”
“No worries. I’m sure Quinn will have gotten the teams started on the investigation by the time we get home.”
The conversation was interrupted by Eliot’s phone. The conversation was short and conducted through gritted teeth.
“Trouble?” As the head of the newest of the alphabet agencies, The Elyat brought Tony the bulk of his cases. “Something ORBI needs to handle?”
“David and Haswari escaped from prison.”
“Malachi says Eli has been acting erratically the past three months and dropped off the radar ten days ago. He and Liat are on his trail. From his description, I would guess it might have to do with Jack’s little project.”
Tony’s eyes went wide at Eliot’s conclusion. Since Homeland Security had expanded their Old Races Terrorism Task Force into the Old Races Bureau of Investigation, the Secretary of Homeworld Security had read Tony into the program. Tom insisted Secretary Hammond also read the Leverage Associates/International Council Investigators into the Stargate Program when Tony’s fiancé, newly promoted Brigadier General Jack O’Neill became head of the program. Hardison had been nearly orgasmic to learn aliens existed and deeply disappointed that most of them were megalomaniacal asses.Parker was amazed most aliens looked Human. Eliot shrugged and reminded them his security clearance was the same as O’Neill’s. The whole thing made Tom deliriously happy he could pull the Leverage crew into ORBI.
With the kidnapping of Tom and the former head of the Stargate program, now Secretary of Homeworld Security, Tony was glad to have his Pack as well as his teams working to find the men. While Tony and Eliot made plans, Hardison and Parker finished the search of Rory’s apartment.
“Okay, guys, we have to move fast. Somebody kidnapped The Primus and the Secretary of Homeworld, so is there anything we need to do to clean-up that has to be handled in person?”
“Clean and return the van to the event planner we ‘borrowed’ it from.”
“Parker and I will handle that. We’ll drop Hardison and Tony at the Paddington townhouse. You can explain everything to Liv and Charles until we get there.”
“Oooh, does that mean we’re taking the short way home?”
“Yeah. It’s still early in the States, so if we don’t dally we can sleep in our own beds tonight.” Eliot threw out the extra incentive to his Pack. Then there was no time to think as Parker grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the black delivery van.
Landing in the garden level conference room, Tony was surprised to see his husband and the members of SG-1 standing around the oval table loaded with papers and computers.
“Honey, I’m home.” Tony looked around the room as Cameron came in with a plate full of sandwiches. “I see you’ve brought the kids.” He heard a growl from Eliot at the thought of a stranger in his kitchen. Mitchell hadn’t been with the team when Eliot last did work for the Stargate program. “You should have brought them around when we were home for a first visit.” He admonished Jack.
“Yeah. Sorry about that.” He threw an apologetic look at Eliot, who was glaring at the unknown wolf in his territory.
“He’s out with Balboa. Said there was something about the feel of where Hammond and Morrow were snatched that seemed familiar.”
“Since we came in from England the hard way, why doesn’t everyone head to wherever they’re sleeping, and we’ll start over in the morning?”
“Ummm, we sort of lost track of time and we never got around to the getting a room thing.” Seeing the glare from Eliot and Parker along with a look of disappointment from his spouse, Jack finally shrugged. “I’m a dragon and they’re MY people. I wanted them with me … Okay? I know asking forgiveness instead of permission gets my ass kicked by Eliot, but we’re worried about George. He’s Human and not a young man.”
Eliot’s glare never wavered. “You’re lucky I like Tony.” He growled at Jack. “I’ll be cleaning my kitchen then I’m going to bed. Jackson … Carter.” He greeted the two members of SG-1 he knew.
The blond-haired Colonel stuck his hand out to the Alpha shifter. “Colonel Cameron Mitchell.”
“Eliot Spencer. This is Alec Hardison and Parker.” He didn’t take Mitchell’s hand. “I’d rather not smell like a strange wolf when my Mate gets home.”
“That Quinn guy … Yeah, we all met him on the way in and he was on his way out.”
“Ease up, El. They were with Jack.”
“You haven’t known O’Neill as long as I have. That is not a glowing recommendation.” Eliot grumbled at their Hacker.
Parker got in Cameron’s face. “You better not have made him too mad to make us food.” She snarled at the Mitchell. “Daniel, I found a really cool artifact for you. I’ll give it to you in the morning.” She gave the archaeologist a sunny smile before following her team up the stairs.
Tony moved to get a kiss from his Mate. “Teleporting from England is hard on him, even with mine and Parker’s help.”
“I know, Babe. I’m sorry. We’re just worried.”
“We’ll find them. Does your team know where they’re sleeping?”
“Yeah. They’re bunking next door in our extra rooms.” Jack stole another kiss.
“Don’t stay up too late.” Tony gave his Welsh dragon a wink as he followed his Pack mates up the stairs.
“Right.” Jack looked at his former team.
“Hubby took the express home, so time to sleep.” See you kids in the morning.” The General was out of the room so fast he nearly left his boots.
SG-1 exchanged smirks. “I guess we’re turning in for the night.” Daniel chuckled.
“I’m glad we’re next door, so I don’t have to get by the big bad wolf.” Cameron mumbled as he followed his team downstairs to the door that allowed them access to Jack and Tony’s house.
Eliot knew there’d be little sleep until Quinn was home, so he headed for the kitchen. Though he was exhausted from bringing the team home, he still wouldn’t rest well without his Mate. His ire at Jack dropped a bit when he found his kitchen in the same condition as when they’d left for England. Pulling several bowls from the freezer, he set to preparing a meal for his crew. It had been a long day and was looking like it would be a short night. His hands lost in the familiar routine of feeding his Pack, his mind returned to the one quirk of Jack’s that irritated him to no end. As much as he respected O’Neill, the dragon sometimes played fast and loose with the players on his chessboard believing that his, ‘What are you gonna do?’ attitude wasn’t going to someday come back to bite him on the ass. If Eliot was an unmated Alpha or not balanced out by his Mage abilities, the presence of an unknown Alpha in his territory could have caused a nasty confrontation. Mitchell seemed fairly laid back to be Alpha of the Stargate program … Sheppard would have been a better choice, but he was pretty settled on Atlantis. He’d have to have a chat with the SG-1 leader before they returned to Colorado.
Helping his Mate load the dishwasher after their late supper, Jack figured he got off easy after allowing his team to invade the Leverage Pack’s home without warning. Pushing the button to start the machine, Jack wasn’t surprised when Tony grabbed the belt loops on his BDUs and pulled him through the connecting door to their house.
After a shower and his favorite sleep pants, Eliot grabbed a beer and signed on to his ORBI work computer. Slipping his glasses on his tired eyes, he began reading through the information their teams had gathered on Tom and George’s kidnapping. He hated A.J. got hurt, but the Nemed were born warriors, and as Morrow’s 2IC at Homeland and the North American Old Races Council, he would be back in the fray in short order. He was also an eyewitness. No one better than a SEAL to remember the details. He’d also have Tony do a post-cog reading on the scene to make sure every base was covered. Looking at the timeline on Ziva and Ari’s escape from prison and Eli’s squirrely behavior, Eliot would bet Parker’s favorite climbing rig they were knee deep in the kidnapping. Tom as the North American Primus and part of the Tribunal that sent Eli’s children to prison, he could understand … It was the kidnapping of Hammond that made Eliot think the Goa’uld had somehow gotten hold of the Director of Mossad, or it could simply be a nasty coincidence. Reports from Malachi and Liat were pointing in that direction. He admonished the Israeli shifters to do what they could to get the Old Races members away from Mossad until he got a handle on the situation.
His thoughts and reading were interrupted by strong arms wrapping around his shoulders from behind.
“Put that away. I promise it won’t take long to get you caught up in the morning.”
Signing off his computer, Eliot tossed his glasses down on his desk and followed his naked Mate to bed. It was good to be home.
Tony and Eliot mirrored each other as they pinched the bridge of their noses to ward off a headache they both felt starting behind their eyes. The ORBI teams had been collecting lab reports from Forensics, and working their myriad of contacts, combining their information into workable leads when Jack and SG-1 marched into the office. Tony had snatched his husband by the arm and frog-marched him into his office, slamming the door. Wanting to break the awkward silence that followed, one of Tony’s team approached Colonel Mitchell with his hand extended.
“Joshua Faraday, Infiltration and Demolitions.”
“Colonel Cameron Mitchell, Air Force pilot, Leader of SG-1.”
“Yeah, we’ve done a couple gigs for O’Neill.” Joshua pointed to an older black man. “The rest of my team … Sam Chisolm, SSA, and ramrod, Goodnight Robicheaux 2IC and sniper, Billy Rocks, weapons specialist, Jack Horne, psych, Alejandro Vasquez, tech, Red Harvest, Medic. On the other set of desks … Ric Balboa, SSA, Chris Pacci, 2IC, Paula Cassidy, and Cassie Yates, undercover. Over there is The Elyat’s team … Quinn, 2IC, Alec Hardison, geek wizard and Parker, mastermind thief.” Faraday rushed over the thief part of the introduction.
“Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter, Astrophysicist, engineer, pilot, Dr. Daniel Jackson, linguist, archaeologist.”
“As pleased as we are to see fresh faces around here.” Faraday crossed his impressive arms across his chest. “Why are you here?”
“Joshua.” The man introduced as Vasquez hissed at the auburn-haired agent.
“What? It’s the question everyone wants to know, especially since Big Boss Man snatched his husband into his office like an errant schoolboy.”
“You been hanging out with Goody, Faraday?” Red Harvest teased.
“I read.” The man sputtered.
That broke the tension in the room. Joshua offered coffee showing SG-1 to the break room where he left them to wait for Jack. Settled in chairs with the best coffee they ever had out of a law enforcement breakroom, the trio looked at each other.
“What just happened?” Sam asked her teammates.
“I’d say we were politely moved out of the way.” Daniel cleaned his glasses on his shirttail.
“Faraday was real slick about, too.” Cam chuckled.
“I have a feeling Jack may be sleeping on the couch for trying to butt in on Tony’s territory.” Daniel added.
“You know how he feels about George.” Sam nodded.
“Plus, stealing from a dragon.” Mitchell shook his head at someone’s stupidity.
SG-1 sat back to enjoy good coffee and a few minutes of peace.
Eliot leaned back against the door, his arms over his chest letting Tony take the lead as was his due as Director of ORBI.
“Why are you here, Jack?” Jack and Eliot could hear the anger in Tony’s voice.
“To help. You know what George means to me and the teams.”
“I do, that is why security is not hauling your asses out of the building. This has to be done by the book or we risk the case being thrown out of court or the Tribunal.” The Mage scolded.
“There’s no way this is going to any court.” Jack growled.
“Regardless of the fact that members of my teams are ex-military and former mercenaries, we are law enforcement and George and Tom are the heads of one of the biggest law enforcement agencies in the country. The only reason we’re not fighting off the FBI is Tom being The Primus.”
“But, SG-1 is the best.” Jack argued.
“At what they do, but we are the best at what we do. Eliot has some news that if it’s true, we will need you and your team, but right now it’s all supposition. Having to deal with this …” Tony waved his hand at Jack. “Is slowing us down verifying that information.”
“Jack, do I come to the Mountain or the Pentagon, and tell you how to run your command?”
They could see the effort the General was making to not run roughshod over Tony. He finally realized he was dealing with the Director of ORBI and not his Mate.
“Okay, but can we at least show you what we found?”
“It’s inadmissible because it was probably obtained through questionable means.” Jack started to protest. “But there may be something that would point us in a new direction. After that, you’re out of here until we need you.”
“I can live with that, and I’m sorry for trying to steamroll you.” The contrition in Jack’s expression caused Eliot to slip out the door before the Mates got to the PDA section of the program.
“Everything straightened out?” Sam asked Eliot.
“Yeah. Get Jack’s team back here and start picking their brains for any new information.”
“Don’t think we’ll get much. Most of what the Lt. Colonel had on her computer is stuff we already have.” Hardison grinned.
“Faraday.” Sam jerked his head toward the break room.
“On it.” The agent headed out to fetch the Air Force people.
After the exchange of information and finding the ORBI team had the same information and more, it was a red-faced General herded his team toward the door. Just before they left, the team Hacker gave Carter a final word of advice.
“You should look at upgrading the security on your computer … Ma’am.”
“My security is … Top notch.” Sam glared.
“I guess it’s important you think so.” Parker giggled.
“Parker quit picking on the Air Force.” Eliot glared at the Fae thief. “And give them back their stuff.”
With a pout, she started making a pile of watches, wallets, and high-security access cards.
‘I gotta learn where she hides that stuff.” Faraday hooted.
“Guero.” Vasquez hissed at his teammate.
Joshua sobered when Eliot glared at him. “Don’t y’all have leads that need following up on?”
Heads bowed over reports and computers as the door closed behind the Stargate crew. The post-cognitive reading Tony had done at the abduction site had yielded little. Weather and the kidnappers’ apparent knowledge of how to frustrate the ORBI investigators left little for them to find. The surrounding cameras had shown a male and female wearing masks and gloves.
Everyone’s first thought was Ari Haswari and Ziva David since Tom had been on the Tribunal responsible for sentencing the siblings to life in prison for the death of four wolf shifters.
Cassie waved a paper she’d printed out. “I’ve got a panel van that our guys were thrown into pulling into a hangar at a private airfield west of D.C. Airport manager says the flight plan filed was for Atlanta. It never landed.”
“Find that plane.” Sam barked.
The teams worked for several hours when Quinn started going through the drawer in Eliot’s desk that contained several different phones. Finally finding the one that was ringing, the handed it to his Mate. Eliot’s email notification indicated incoming mail at the same time.
“Eli’s security detail has been killed and the Director has disappeared.”
The pictures the raptor shifter sent caused a deep growl in Eliot’s chest. He sent them to the printer in Tony’s office. Eliot finished his call with Ben-Gidon as he stepped into the Director’s office.
“I’ll call Jack.” Tony’s tone was flat as he printed out more copies of the pictures.
Eliot passed out the pictures while Tony called O’Neill back to the office. The entirety of ORBI had been read into the Stargate program after the newly minted Secretary of Homeworld Security had briefed Morrow and Chegwidden. The men had exchanged a look then went on to convince Secretary Hammond that the Old Races Bureau of Investigations would be perfect to become the official investigators for both Cheyenne Mountain and Area 51. It was the main reason Tony took Eliot’s recommendation to hire Sam Chisolm and his team of misfits.
While they waited on Jack and SG-1, Eliot had pulled Hardison and Vasquez to the side and asked the computer whizzes to discretely check on the high ranking officials around the world for unexplained absences or odd behavior.
“You thinking the Goa’uld are trying for a takeover from the inside, Jefe?”
“I’m not ruling anything out.” He handed the men a photo. “Since you’ve all seen the results of death by ribbon device, you can see that’s how David’s guards were killed. Either Eli is already snaked, and he did it, or he was kidnapped to become a host then dropped back into his life. In either case, we need to know.”
“Got it.” The two techs headed back to their desks.
When Jack and the SG-1 team returned, Jack headed straight to Tony’s office. Chisolm asked Carter to help Hardison and Vasquez, He asked Mitchell and Jackson to contact their sources looking for rumors or proof of their suspicions.
“Can we see the files?” Daniel asked.
Quinn set them up with a computer showing the reports and the pictures. Mitchell called Teal’c, who had remained at the Mountain, asking him to put a call into the Tok’ra about any intel they had about the Goa’uld infiltrating the Tau’ri from within.
By the end of the day, they had a list of Eli David’s properties and a half-dozen heads of various intelligence services in Egypt and Africa who were acting out of character. Jack had the Odyssey beam SG-1 back to the Mountain to brief the teams that would be dispatched to evaluate those officials. Jack and Tony came out of the Director’s office to send everyone home, only to find the Leverage crew already gone.
“Anyone know where Eliot and his team went?” Tony looked at Chisolm and Balboa.
“Eliot growled something about need to know and we didn’t need to know, so we took that to mean they were giving us deniability.” Balboa winked at his old friend.
A dozen thoughts flashed through Tony’s mind about what his Pack could be getting themselves into. He knew The Elyat had talked to The Gwydion and the other members of the International Council of Old Races and tasked them with doing checks on the top people in their regions for symbiotes and parasites that might be influencing their hosts. He exchanged a looked with Jack.
“We need to get home. I’m afraid of what Eliot and Rhiannon came up with to accomplish their goals.”
Red Harvest and Joshua Faraday were sent with the Director as his security detail as the rest of the teams got ready to leave.
“You do remember I’m a Mage that does regular training with Eliot Spencer, Quinn, and Parker?”
“Don’t matter. Rules are rules.” Faraday tutted at his boss.
“Anybody record this? Joshua is pushing to follow the rules.” Cassie teased.
“Hey … I follow rules.”
“When?” The Siren gave her total attention to Faraday.
“Now.” The Phoenix flushed. “I’ll be just out here.” He pointed at the door. “Vas, I’ll see you at home.”
“Stay out of trouble, Guero.” Vasquez teased.
“You just had to go there.” Red Harvest glared at their tech as he followed Tony and Jack out the door.
With the size of the Massachusetts Avenue mansion, it was not unusual to not see anyone. Frustrated in their search, they went through to their own house. After getting comfortable, they headed back through the connecting, and let their noses lead them to the kitchen where they found dinner. Quinn and Hardison were cleaning the kitchen while indulging in Eliot’s spicy brownies.
“Where’s Eliot and Parker?” Tony’s watched the two for tells that they were lying. They may have gone semi-straight, but they were still thieves.
“Eliot’s workroom.” Hardison finished putting the leftovers in the refrigerator as he shoveled another piece of warm brownie and ice cream in his mouth.
“Doing …?” He’d had a few ideas while at work about how they might track their missing bosses, but he hadn’t shared them with anyone.
The Beta shrugged. “He didn’t say, I didn’t ask. Parker was dancing around like a worm on a hot griddle, so he may be teaching her something new.” Quinn volunteered.
Tony looked back and forth between the two men. “You do realize that when Eliot doesn’t tell anyone anything it’s because he’s the only one that’s going to get hurt?”
“He’s your Mate.” Jack snipped.
“He’s The Elyat and an Adept Mage.” Quinn reminded.
“Point. I better go check on them.” Tony sighed.
“Eliot said you have to eat first.” Hardison pointed to the oven.
“What did we have?” Jack grabbed a plate.
“Pot roast ala Spencer.” The Hacker hissed when his computer dinged. He began typing furiously. Quinn threw a worried look at the computer screen.
“Working on a new program?” Tony plated his and Jack’s dinner while the dragon buttered several warm rolls.
“Yeah. Working on a program to track you guys using your magical energy. I’m having to cobble together different programs to even begin to attempt to read the energy waves.”
Tony’s smile was wicked as their Hacker was so engrossed in his program, he didn’t realize he was being interrogated. “How’s that working out?”
“It depends on who I’m tracking. I was planning on asking you to be a guinea pig for me before the big guys got kidnapped. Parker’s still learning, so she’s easier to track than Eliot. Eliot’s so used to being on the down low that I can’t track him unless he leaves a pinhole in his shields. You’re kind of between the two extremes.”
“You have trackers that magic doesn’t scramble?”
“Seriously. After all these years I’m appalled at you doubting my abilities.” The genius snarked at their Grifter.
“So, where are they?”
“Naw, Man. I’m on to your tricks. Eliot and Parker are still scarier than you.” Hardison wagged a finger at the Mage.
Tony frowned at his pack mate. “I’m scary.” He looked at Jack and Quinn.
‘Of course, you are, Dear.” Jack shoved another bite of gravy covered bread in his mouth.
In a shielded room under the garden level of the mansion, Eliot and Parker sat across from each other staring into a large slab of polished obsidian. A sketchbook laid across her knees.
“You sure about this?” The Fae thief chewed on her bottom lip.
“I talked it over with Walter and Rhiannon. If Tom weren’t a Mage it probably wouldn’t work, but since I know his energy signature …” Eliot shrugged as he finished setting candles around the large scrying mirror.
“Then why was Quinn frowning so hard?”
“It’s an extreme measure. Whoever took them knows us and how to cover their tracks. We’re not getting anywhere using mundane methods. With no leads, we need something extreme.”
Parker centered herself and gave Eliot a nod. “What do you need me to do besides draw what I see?” This was their bailiwick. They handled the hard things.
“I’m going to try to keep everything contained, but if I start to fade, I’m depending on you to keep me here.” He handed her a black silk cloth. “Don’t touch me but take this and place it over the mirror. It’ll cut the flow of energy.”
Face serious, Parker nodded as she picked up her sketchbook and pencil. “Be careful.” She whispered to the man who was her brother in all but blood.
“Always, sweetheart.” He gave her a wink as he placed Hardison’s tracker doodad on his temple, then turned his attention to the obsidian scrying mirror.
Tom Morrow looked across the room at his fellow prisoner. Retired General George Hammond was as mentally tough as they come. He wouldn’t have held the position at the top of Stargate Command if he didn’t have the fortitude to face the unknown. When Hammond was introduced as the new Secretary of Homeworld Security, Tom used his magical and mundane senses to take the measure of the man. Tom had even gone so far as to ask George to sit on the North American Council. It was unusual for Humans to be represented on the Old Races Councils, but there was something about George … The Primus wouldn’t be surprised to find Old Races blood in the Hammond family tree.
The two men had been leaving a meeting of the North American Old Races Council when they had been attacked. One thing Tom noticed … Their attackers used tranquilizer guns, being careful to knock out A.J. and their security details. He worried about his second in command, as it had taken more than one dart to bring down the Nemed warrior, and the men and women that had been left lying in the street. The two men had regained consciousness in the room where they had been for the past three days. A collar that dampened his magic made it impossible for him to teleport away from their captors. They were fed twice a day, their suite had a full bath and a comfortable bed, but they had not seen or talked to anyone. Hearing a key turning in the lock, it looked like they were about to get some answers.
Some people claimed Eli David only lived for his ambition. That he cared only for the power he could wield from behind the scenes of his country’s government. Some said it started with the death of his beloved wife first wife. Kinder people said that was only the beginning. He arrogantly believed he could have a family while still climbing the ladder in Israel’s counterintelligence community. The death of his youngest daughter seemed to seal his emotions behind a shield of protecting the sovereignty of Israel.
Making a name for himself as he sacrificed his remaining children and his remaining emotions lead to a craving for the power and recognition that flowed like energy from the mere Humans that supplied sustenance for his family. The family of Djinn became a force to be reckoned with until his half-Palestinian son, Ari, kicked over the traces and with his half-sister, Ziva, ran away from Israel, leaving a trail of dead wolf shifters behind them.
Memories of their trial and punishment at the hands of the International Council of Old Races flowed as he sipped arak in the privacy of his study. Five years he had searched for someone to break the spells that had shackled their Djinn abilities. He was contemplating the contents of his glass when his study was filled with blinding light. Alarms sounding throughout his home brought his Kidon guards into the room, weapons ready. Eli threw himself under his heavy oak desk, out of the way of weapons’ fire. Looking up, he grabbed the pistol kept for such emergencies and looked around the edge of his desk when he heard bodies hit the floor.
A strong hand wrapped around his ankle and pulled him out from under the desk. He came face to face with a man dressed in strange armor with a symbol for Enki tattooed on his forehead. Forced to his knees, Eli saw a man dressed like he stepped out of a museum exhibit about ancient Babylon except his eyes glowed as did the palm of his hand. When the palm touched his forehead, it felt like his brain was being sucked through his skin. Self-preservation kicked in and the Mossad Director engaged his Djinn abilities and used the skin to skin contact where the creature held his wrist to begin pulling energy from his captor. One of the guards grabbed him and the next thing he knew something was being forced in his mouth. Eli became a passenger in his own mind as something calling itself Enki took control of his body and mind. He looked over to see an overdressed body sprawled on his office floor.
Not one to give up control in anything, Eli began to fight whatever this Enki was for control, but the creature was millenniums old. It held on until Eli exhausted his mental capabilities then shoved David’s personality to the corner of his mind.
“This one will suit our needs. It has some interesting abilities that will allow us to remain hidden while we continue to conquer these Tau’ri from the inside.” Enki continued rifling through Eli’s memories until he found Ari and Ziva. “This is even better.” He looked at his entourage. He pointed out a couple that would blend better into the populous than his Jaffa. “Yn’ik, you will accompany them to find these two people.” He grabbed a picture off the desk that showed the siblings. According to this one’s memories, they have escaped from their prison and are supposed to call in two days’ time. I want them found before then.”
The three bowed to their god before leaving to carry out their tasks.
While their respective teams were scrambling to find the Secretary and Undersecretary, the two men had been busy trying to find a way to free themselves. They scoured their suite for anything that could be used as a weapon, or at the very least find a way to get the inhibitor collar off Tom’s neck.
“This thing isn’t going to zap us if we tamper with it?” Hammond fiddled with the locking mechanism.
“Since we were kidnapped by two escaped murderers, I doubt they could afford to deal with the type people that could booby trap the collar. It takes an Adept level Mage and a lot of money.” Tom tried to stay still as George continued to work on the lock. “Where’s Parker when I need her?” The Mage mumbled.
“Parker’s your reformed thief?”
Tom chuckled. “No one on the Council’s team is reformed anything. They’re just very good at what they do.”
“I know Spencer … He’s done retrieval work for the Program. I don’t know the rest of his team.” Hammond’s hope was starting to rise as he felt the second tumbler click open.
Both men paused as they heard a key being inserted in their door lock. With a quiet curse, George pulled the wire out of the lock and moved to sit by the window and recovered a book he’d been reading. By the time the door opened, they appeared to be doing the same thing they did every day of their captivity … Nothing.
Ziva David set the dinner tray on the table for their captives. Both men’s faces were blank as they watched her. They had never attempted to engage her or Ari in conversation, find out what their fates would be, or cajole them into releasing them for fear of the consequences. Their stoicism amused Ari but irritated Ziva to the end of her patience.
“Now you know what it is to be without those abilities you have had since birth.” She sneered at Morrow. “Not such an imposing figure are you, Primus?” When neither man rose to the bait, she flounced toward the door in a snit. “Tomorrow we take you to Father. I am sure he will have some interesting ideas for making your stay most uncomfortable.” The door slammed and locked.
The two men exchanged a look. It just became imperative they get Tom out of his collar.
To save the Mages and Fae on their teams from depleting themselves, and to minimize information being leaked, Jack used the Odyssey to beam the Leverage team, Chisolm’s team, and SG-1 to Israel. Eliot called Malachi and Liat to make arrangements for housing, weapons, and vehicles. What had Eliot and Quinn wearing self-satisfied smirks was the intel the raptor shifters included with their map of the David family’s real estate holdings across Israel. It showed there had been activity at both the David’s ancestral home outside Haifa and a vacation home in the mountains west of Jerusalem.
After sending Parker, Quinn, Faraday, and Billy to check out the neighborhood and bring back food, Eliot, Jack, and Tony settled around the dining table with the maps and information let for them by the Old Races members of the Mossad.
“The vicinity of the vacation home to the prisons … That’s probably where Ari and Ziva are hiding. That leaves Eli hiding out at Haifa and gives him plausible deniability.” Eliot pointed at the map spread across the table. He turned his attention to Jack. “If Eli has been snaked, will the Goa’uld have Jaffa or implanted servants with him?”
“Good point. SG-1 will take the Haifa location, and have Colonel Davidson use Odyssey’s scanners to search for the Goa’uld’s ship.”
“Good idea. Take Sam, Goodnight, and Billy, too.” Tony added. They had the armory on the Odyssey issue them zats before we beamed down.” Jack opened his mouth to argue until he saw the expression on both Tony and Eliot’s faces.
“Fine.” The dragon pouted.
“Low key, Jack. We’re trying to do this without causing an international incident between the US and Israel … Old Races and Mundanes.” Tony growled at his Mate. Rubbing his hand through his hair, he looked back at the map. “Does the thought of a Goa’uld with the powers of a Djinn give anyone else the willies?” He looked around the room to see everyone present raised their hand. “Glad I’m not the only one.” He gave a rueful chuckle.
After reporting what they’d found around the neighborhood, the teams settled down to enjoy the fresh food picked up from the local marketplace.
“Okay.” Eliot clapped his hands. “Get settled, relax, we move out at dawn.”
Shoved into a van with heavily tinted heavily tinted windows. Seat belts were buckled with a glare as Ziva dared the men to try anything because their hands were cuffed in front of them. George and Tom took stock of their surroundings looking for landmarks to get a clue at their location. As soon as Ziva settled, Ari headed away from the place that had been their prison for the past week. The men held their silence as they listened to the siblings speculate on their father’s reaction to their escape from prison and kidnapping of a Cabinet Secretary and the Undersecretary of Homeland Intelligence. By the time they turned into the driveway of a home in Haifa, the two men were ready to strangle the two for their arrogance and entitled attitudes.
Enki watched a van pulled up in front of the house. He’d had his Prime and three of his Jaffa teleported to the David family homestead from his office in Tel Aviv while the others had gone in search of Eli’s children. His Jaffa were out of sight so as not to raise the suspicions of whoever was visiting. Stepping outside the front door, the Goa’uld sifted through Eli’s memories and identified the faces of his son and daughter through the window of the van. The memories also showed they should be in prison. Enki allowed Eli to take just enough control of his body to allay any suspicion.
Hoods pulled up to hide their identities, no one noticed the Bateleur eagles perched in the ancient fig and olive trees shading the ancestral homestead. Eli/Enki shoved the fugitives inside the house.
“You were supposed to wait for my call.” Eli/Enki hissed.
“We found those who were sympathetic to our plight to help with our plans.” Ari sneered.
“We have brought you a gift, Father … Besides our presence.” Ziva stepped between the two men.”
“What kind of gift?” He looked over his children’s shoulders to see his Prime Jaffa looking around the corner. With a shake of his head, the guard pulled back into the other room.
“Let us get them out of the van.” She dodged around her father for the door.
“Wait!” Pull your vehicle through the gate. We do not want everyone in the neighborhood knowing our business.”
With a nod, Ari headed out to the van while Ziva went to unlock the gate into the compound. Once the van was secured behind the gates, Ari opened the side door and pulled the two men out of the van. Ziva and Ari escorted them into the house.
“Undersecretary … Or should I say, Primus Morrow? How nice to see you again. Who is your friend?”
“No one you need to know.” Tom snarled at the Mossad Director.
The captives exchanged a look when they saw the flash in David’s dark eyes.
“Make our guests comfortable, then meet me in my office. We need to make plans.” Eli/Enki frowned.
This was not what he needed right now. He needed time to establish himself as Eli David and get his people in place. He did not have time for whatever disaster David’s children were plotting. Causing an international incident with the kidnapping of Tom Morrow was not the type of attention Enki needed right now. Once he was sure Ziva and Ari were on the other side of the house, he set his Prime to watch the two captives.
Now, to deal with his children.
Eliot cursed as he disconnected his call. “Hold on!” He shouted as he yanked on the steering wheel and spun the SUV around in the road. He was glad it was early enough for there to be no traffic on this stretch of highway as he slung the big vehicle around.
Yells and curses came from everyone in the vehicle except Parker, who gave him her vicious grin and yelled, “Go! … Go!”
“What the hell, E!” Hardison yelled as he gathered his scattered equipment.
“That was Malachi. Ziva and Ari just showed up at the family homestead with Tom and George. Someone get on the phone to Jack.” Eliot asked the big vehicle for more speed.
“What’s up, Tone? Miss me already?”
“We just got a call from Ben-Gidon. Ari and Ziva just showed up at Eli’s with Tom and George.”
“We’re already heading your way. I’m surprised we haven’t stopped so Eliot can teleport us.” Tony joked with his Mate.
“Ask Jack how traffic is where he’s at.” Eliot prompted.
”How’s traffic, Babe?”
“Zilch. Anybody with half a brain is still sleeping.” Jack grumbled.
Before Tony could reply, the called ended and there was a feeling of displacement. “Eliot, what did you do?!” Tony yelled from the back seat.
“That was so cool.” Faraday shouted from the third seat.
Eliot had landed them neatly in front of the SUV containing Jack, SG-1, and three members of Tony’s team. Both vehicles slowed then stopped on the shoulder to allow the Shifter/Mage to catch his breath. There was a great deal of yelling and stomping around and then some more yelling as Quinn made sure his Mate hadn’t depleted his energy too badly.
“I’m good.” Eliot growled after downing a sports drink and several ration bars. “These things haven’t gotten any better.”
“They’re probably was left over from Desert Storm.” Mitchell quipped.
“Not quite.” Eliot grinned at the Stargate Alpha. “Those smelled like camel dung. Let’s get loaded. We don’t get to David’s soon Tom and George will rescue themselves.” Eliot turned and headed back to the driver’s seat.
“Jack, the plan stays the same. Your team take care of the Goa’uld and Jaffa, and we’ll take care of everyone else.” Tony reminded both teams.
“You betcha.” The General grinned at this Mate.
That set everyone to scrambling for doors, and they were soon rolling toward their target.
Quinn and Faraday were left with Hardison, Vasquez, and the vehicles. Vasquez deployed a small drone while Hardison hacked into the house’s security. The Davids’ paranoia about their privacy hid the two teams from the infrequent vehicle that passed by the homestead as they waited for intelligence from their computer techs.
While they were waiting a pair of eagles shifted into Malachi Ben-Gidon and Liat Tuvia. “We will be accompanying the Director where you take him for treatment.” The expression on the Kidon agents faces brooked no argument.
Jack tried to glare the pair into submission, but they removed to budge. “Fine.” He growled. “Daniel.”
The archeologist/linguist came forward carrying a tablet. “Read and sign.”
“We …” Liat started.
“You don’t sign, you don’t get near your Director.” Jack growled. “It’s a non-disclosure agreement, not promising me your firstborn.”
With a return glare, both shifters initialed and signed not bothering to read because, for all that Jack was a US military, he was also Old Races, and wouldn’t allow them to trap themselves in something untenable.
“What have you got?” Tony asked Hardison and Vasquez.
“We’ve got three Jaffa guards on the outside. One at the gates, one each at the front and back door.” Vasquez reported.
Hardison was next. “I have six heat signatures. Three in the room closest to the front door … Two sitting close together. Three in the back of the house with only the windows for exits.”
“Parker?” Eliot touched his ear.
“The gates are unlocked. The guards are standing in front of the van.” The thief reported.
“Get clear.” He knew she was using her Cloak of Invisibility since the yard had no cover.
“Okay, soon as I do this.” They heard the sound of a taser through their earbuds. “Dammit, Parker.” Eliot headed for the gates followed by the rest of the teams.
Tom and George exchanged a look. For the past few days, they had gone with the flow waiting for an opportunity. Having finally worked the latch open on Tom’s inhibitor collar, the two men were waiting for an opportunity to escape.
Eli, Ari, and Ziva had disappeared into the office. After seeing the design on the forehead of the Jaffa, Tom raised an eyebrow in inquiry. George shook his head indicating he didn’t recognize the Goa’uld marking.
With the collar loosened, Morrow casts a quiet spell to unlock their handcuffs. Casting around the room, the two men looked for items that could be used as a weapon. George nudged Tom when he noticed movement outside the window. The men exchanged a grin as they got ready to move.
Hearing a sound coming from the entryway, Enki’s Prime turned his attention away from the captives. The two Tau’ri had sat quietly on the couch, so the Jaffa warrior ignored their presence when he heard the scrape of boots on the tile floor.
Parker scowled at Daniel when the SG-1 member scraped his foot across the floor. The linguist blushed at being sloppy because he felt safe being on Earth. Everyone had their zats at the ready as they spread through the house. Eliot’s team had disabled and restrained the Jaffa outside and were coming through the back of the house while SG-1 entered the front.
Mitchell fired his zat when the Jaffa Prime stuck his head out of the room to the right. At the same time, he was hit in the back by a flash from inside the room. The big man dropped to the floor without uttering a sound. The team spread to cover the entrances to the left and right.
“Mr. Secretary and Undersecretary!” Colonel Mitchell grinned as the two older men lowered their hands when SG-1 acknowledged them. Parker slipped by them and began the liberal use of zip ties on the Jaffa Prime.
“Tom … George. It’s good to see you both in such good shape.” Jack grinned broadly at the former captives. “What snake are we dealing with?”
“We don’t know. Whoever it is has gained control of Eli David.” The former head of Stargate Command informed his team.
“Enki.” Everyone turned to look where Daniel and Sam were examining the tattoo on the Prime’s forehead.
“Wonder what rock he crawled out from under?” Jack growled. “I thought we’d killed most of the System Lords that want to expand their territories to include Earth?”
“Maybe he’s a late bloomer … A little slow out of the gate.” Mitchell snarked.
“Chisolm, Goodnight … Rocks, keep an eye on him, George and Tom while we round up the rest of this crew.” Jack informed the Odyssey the name of the Goa’uld whose ship Teal’c and his team were boarding. He indicated to Mitchell and Carter take point as he listened to the chatter in his earbud.
Staying out of the line of sight of the people in the room, Eliot pushed the door to Eli David’s home office open. When three heads turned toward the door, the Mage/Shifter stepped through, his right hand lit up with a spell. The rest of the team fanned out behind him, weapons at the ready.
“Well, isn’t this a homey family portrait.” Eliot drawled. Ari and Ziva started to reach for their weapons. “I wouldn’t do that if I was you.” Noticing Eli reaching into his pocket, Eliot flicked the spell that had been lingering on his fingertips at the Mossad Director. The hand fell limply to his side.
“What did you do?” Eli/Enki yelped as he tried to move his arm.
“Just a little numbing spell.” Eliot’s grin was full of sharp teeth.
“I think he was looking for this.” Parker let the ribbon device dangle from her finger.
“Bless your little pickpocketing heart.” Tony smiled at the Fae.
“I’ll take that.” Daniel reached for the ribbon device.
Parker stepped out of the archaeologist’s reach. “I like this. I might keep it. It’s gold and very pretty.” The light in her eyes was a bit manic.
“Parker!” Eliot ground out. “Now is not the time to get your crazy on.”
Frowning at her team leader, Parker slapped the ribbon device against Daniel’s chest. “I’ll find something better before we leave.” She flounced out of the room.
Eliot glared at SG-1. “Make yourselves useful.” He pointed at Eli. “Take his little friends with you, too.”
“No!” Ziva started to rush forward until Liat grabbed the Djinn by her braid. She slipped zip cuffs on the woman while Tony did the same with Ari. “You’re both traitors. You’re supposed to protect our father.”
“We are protecting the Director. He will soon be back to his usual unsavory self.” Malachi cuffed the Director before leading him into the yard where Major Carter and Colonel Mitchell had gathered the Jaffa warriors into an area where the Odyssey could beam them to the ship to extract not only the Enki symbiote but what information they could from the Jaffa.
Ari had been silent during the scene playing out before him. “What becomes of us?”
“We have someplace special for you. As you were already serving life without parole, adding escape and kidnapping to your sentences is not going to make that much difference. You’re lucky The Primus and the members of the North American Council lived through their kidnapping, or I’d put you down where you stand.”
“You …” Ziva started to protest until she looked at Eliot then Tony then Parker.
“Eliot and I do what the others can’t.” The serious expression on Parker’s face sent a chill down the spine of the siblings.
Tony was startled by the blunt truth of Parker’s statement, but his expression never changed. He intellectually knew Eliot was The Elyat for the International Council, and he knew Leverage Associates took down some heavy hitters. He’d participated in a lot of their cases, but other than a few fist fights, and taser burns, there had never been a body count. He’d never gave a lot of thought what all being ‘investigators for the International Council entailed. As his sharp mind started connecting dots, he shut down that line of thought. It was not for him to pass judgment on what the leaders of the Old Races asked their people to do.
The Director of the Old Races Bureau of Investigations was jarred from his thoughts by a growl from Eliot.
“Tony. You with us, Bubba?”
“Yeah. My brain took off on a tangent.” He answered truthfully.
“Hardison and Vasquez are getting Tom, George and the team home, so if you can take care of getting everyone organized, I’ll take care of getting these two back in prison.” Eliot grabbed Ari and Ziva by the arm.
“Eliot?” Parker’s voice was questioning.
“I’ll be fine, Darlin’.” He assured the Fae. “I’ve got Quinn with me. We’re going someplace only a few people know about. Someplace where there’s no one to help them escape again. Help Tony wrangle everyone home.”
Giving Eliot a sloppy salute, she grabbed Tony’s hand and pulled him out of the office. “Let’s go … Let’s go. We’re burning daylight.” Parker continued to drag Tony behind her.
Tony looked helplessly over his shoulder at Eliot, who gave him an evil grin before disappearing with Quinn and their prisoners.
Ari and Ziva looked around the rock and steel structure. “Where are we?”
“An uninhabited rock in the North Atlantic.” A woman came up to them with an injection gun. Still cuffed, they tried to rub the injection site at the back of their necks. “Tracking devices.” Quinn offered.
They went through an intake process much like when they’d first entered the prison in Israel while the Mates watched. Standing with them was a red-haired woman who wore her long hair in an elaborate braid. When they were finished and dressed in what looked like gray hospital scrubs, the brother and sister were taken to a conference room where Quinn, Eliot, and the red-head were waiting.
“This is Ailsa Burnett. She runs this prison. There is little contact between prisoners and personnel. The personnel are all members of the Old Races.” Eliot stepped back to give the floor to Ailsa.
“Cell doors open at 7 am and close at 9 pm. What you do with your time other than your assigned jobs, is up to you. Everything you need to know is in the packet you received with your clothes and bedding. Your jobs are rotated every six months. You should resign yourself to your life here as no one will help you.” She warned as two guards stepped into the room. “These guards will escort you to your new home for the rest of your days.”
As their cell doors sealed shut behind them, they realized there would be no escape.
It was early evening by the time the military transport carrying the ORBI team, the Secretary of Homeworld, The Primus, and two of the Leverage team. Tony had official statements about the kidnapping and had arranged larger security details for the two men.
Balboa and Red Harvest met them at Joint Base Andrews with SUVs to haul everyone back to the office.
“Where’s Eliot and Quinn?” Balboa asked Tony.
“Escorting Haswari and David to their new home.” He looked around at his exhausted teams. “When you get to the office, everyone head home. Reports can wait until … Let’s say … Be there at noon tomorrow. Then we’ll make it an early weekend.” That seemed to energize the teams to get their gear loaded in the vehicles and head out. “Let’s escort Undersecretary Morrow and Secretary Hammond to the base clinic for a medical exam after their whirlwind tour of Israel.” Tony prompted Balboa.
“Yes, Sir.” The Kelpie pulled away from the airport.
When the two men would have complained, the ORBI Director gave them a look that silenced both men. “I think our own words were about to come home to roost.” Tom grinned at George.
“I believe you’re right, Tom.” He held out a hand for a phone. “I need to call my wife, and let her know I’m back in the area and will see her after my exam.” Goodnight and Billy handed over their phones.
“Thank you, Gentlemen.”
The SUV driven by Red Harvest headed for the highway while Balboa turned to the base’s medical facilities.
After watching Ari and Ziva being led away by the guards, Eliot and Quinn thanked Ailsa before Eliot teleported them to their house at the Elliott Clan compound. A night wrapped around each other, the Mates appeared at the ‘big’ house for breakfast with The Gwydion.
A day with spent with Rhiannon, Seamus, and the kids left Eliot and Quinn feeling rejuvenated. The late night flight across the Atlantic got them home in time to spend time with the Pack before Eliot showed Quinn how pleased he was to be home with nowhere to be until Monday.
Because Eliot had teleported them from the airport to their suite, they hadn’t seen what had happened to the historic mansion while the Leverage pack had been home without adult supervision. Quinn’s smile widened with every step down the wide staircase as he followed Eliot to the kitchen.
Ropes of lights and artificial pine garlands wrapped around the banisters on all the staircases and crystal ornaments hung from all the light fixtures.
“She better not have touched my kitchen.” Eliot growled as his Mate snickered through rooms strewn with boxes of trees and decorations.
“This is her favorite time of year.” Quinn’s face and tone softened. “Every year she still has Archie is a blessing.”
“Hmph.” The pair finally made it to the kitchen through the maze of boxes to find Tony had commandeered breakfast preparations.
Eliot set a pot of Irish Breakfast tea to steep as Quinn grabbed a coffee and a fresh cinnamon roll. “Where’s Parker and Hardison?”
“Council Investigations Office spewing Christmas before breakfast.” Tony chuckled. “Next weekend we’re scheduled to finish whatever Sheena and Davin didn’t at The Farm since they’re run ragged by two toddlers.” He set dishes of food buffet style along the long counter.
Quinn filled two plates and put them in the dumbwaiter before picking up his plate and heading for their offices on the street level floor.
“Jack’s people get Eli de-snaked?”
“Yeah, but it took most of one day to get him stabilized. Seems the Mossad Director doesn’t exactly keep kosher, so his age and physical condition worked against him. He should be back in his office Monday morning with Malachi and Liat as his security detail like nothing happened.”
“They find Enki’s ship?”
“Yeah. Teal’c and his team gave the scientist Christmas early when they got their very own Tel’tak to reverse engineer. Teams are still checking other top government officials for Goa’uld, but Landry’s handling that, so Jack’ll be home this evening.”
“He ought to give Davis some kind of medal for holding off the Joint Chiefs while O’Neill runs off to play with his old team.”
“Maybe he’ll give him something nice out of his hoard for Christmas.” Tony hinted.
“Good luck with that.” Eliot smirked.
It was a well-known fact Dragons rarely parted with anything once it caught their eye. Jack had come to the ORBI office when several of ‘his’ Marines had been witnesses on a case. He’d taken one look at Tony’s green eyes and the chase was on. A week later, General Jack O’Neill had moved into the mage’s suite. Six months later they’d married and bought the building that shared a common wall with the Belgian Renaissance Revival mansion as the Dragon’s hoard began to overrun their storage in the Leverage pack house. The addition of an interior connecting entrance made it easy for the couple to live with the pack and have room for Jack’s hoards. The extra bedrooms were a plus when SG-1 and Atlantis teams were in town for meetings.
“It’s a work in progress. We spent our honeymoon cataloging Colorado, and our last vacation cataloging Minnesota. I keep a running tally here.”
“I’m sure you’ve already picked something appropriate and have it boxed and wrapped.”
“You’d be right. I have to keep my skills sharp, and I have a lot to offer to sweeten the pot.” Tony waggled his eyebrows in a comic leer.
“Quinn and I are going out to The Farm on the 20th. The teams are invited out anytime during the holidays since no one is scheduled after the 15th. We’ll be coming back to D.C. after New Year’s … Unless you catch a case you need Leverage’s kind of help.”
“It’s been quite the year. I’m crossing my fingers things are quiet for the rest of the year. The paperwork on George and Tom’s kidnapping will be a nightmare. Reports have to go to our government, the North American, and the International Council.”
“The Elyat being on the case will help. The Councils will be satisfied with the summaries since they can hear directly from Tom. You’re on your own with your Powers That Be.” Eliot began to gather the dirty dishes.”
“Jack and I will be taking some time and The Farm will be good for Jack since we won’t be able to go to Colorado or Minnesota. He can fish to his heart’s delight and probably get a flight or two over the bay.”
“Sounds like a plan.” He gathered the empty plates out of the dumbwaiter then started the dishwasher after he added the last of the dishes.
Leaving the decorating to everyone else, Eliot set bread to raise then headed for his office to work on his reports for ORBI and the two Councils. He’d given Seamus and Rhiannon a verbal report when they’d make their quick stop at the Elliott Clan house.
Finally finished, he headed down to the kitchen. Pulling the roast out of the refrigerator, he turned on the oven and began preparations for dinner. Roast in the iron Dutch oven, and slid in the oven, he began panning the bread he’d set to raise before he did his reports. He pulled vegetables out of their bin to wash and chop for adding to roast about an hour before it was done. Hardison must have let Parker run wild through the bakery as they had plenty of choices if someone wanted something sweet for dessert. Grabbing a bottle of water, he went to find the rest of his Pack.
Leaning against the entrance to the living room, Eliot’s mind wandered back ten years to his first Christmas with Parker, Alec, Nate, and Sophie. How hard he’d fought to retain his lone wolf status … How hard he tried to keep his scarred heart separate, especially from the younger members of the team. Nate and Sophie’s retirement had left few marks on his heart as he had never truly trusted the older couple. Making a home to lure Hardison and Parker to east coast had been his way of offering a family to the younger couple.
Eliot was sure Walter Black Dog was laughing his ass off for the years Eliot had lived in the shadows, avoiding his sister and her family, and the rest of the Old Races. The Elder Guardian would be arriving on Sunday to spend the holidays with his makeshift family.
His attention was drawn back to the Christmas tree decorating when with a flutter of wings, Parker rose off the floor to place her favorite angel on top of the tree. Moving backward, she settled back to the floor gracefully as Hardison plugged in the lights. Bouncing on her toes and clapping … The childlike wonder on the thief’s face made Eliot’s heart ache for after all she’d been through in her life, that she still carried this one seed of innocence.
Feeling an arm curl around his waist, Eliot returned the gesture and pulled his Mate against his side. “How’d we get here, Hoss? Who’d have ever thought the four of us would become respectable, standing at the line between the Old Races community and the Mundanes?”
“You mean we as in the two of us lone wolves who were used as the boogeyman to scare the bad people.”
“Once upon a time the number one retrieval specialist in the world worked with four other people who were all number one in their professions to steal an airplane. Somewhere along the line the number two retrieval specialist tried to take out number one and got his ass handed to him, beginning a beautiful relationship.” Quinn nuzzled behind his Mate’s ear.
“It did … Didn’t it?” Eliot looked back at his Pack as he pulled Quinn tight to his side.
“I’m your huckleberry.” Quinn grinned as he looked up to see a sprig of mistletoe over their head.
~ Finis ~