The Whiskey Job

The Whiskey Job 600

Banner By Paula Cas

Title: The Whiskey Job
Fandoms: Leverage
Characters/Pairings: Eliot Spencer, Parker, Alec Hardison, Nathan Ford, Tara Cole, Original Characters
Ratings: PG-15
Word Count: 5,963
Summary: For Valawenel, who wanted Nate and Eliot in trouble, and Parker fearing she’ll lose them after Sophie took off to find herself. Nate and Eliot get in trouble with Mark Doyle’s father when the Irishman comes to America in an attempt to save the family’s reputation.
Author’s Note: Takes place after The Bottle Job. Written for 2018 Leverage Secret Santa Exchange.

Grimacing, Eliot Spencer ended the phone call that interrupted his sleep for the third time this week. Ever since Nate had gleefully jumped off the wagon when challenged by Mark Doyle, he had enthusiastically embraced the alcoholic part of functioning alcoholic. Luckily the mastermind kept his drinking to McRory’s, or one of the other bars in the neighborhood. Eliot had made the rounds to leave his number with the owners and managers of those bars, so when Nate spent the evening in their establishments getting pass out drunk, they called the retrieval specialist to retrieve the team’s mastermind.

Not wanting to get his Challenger dented by a belligerent drunk, or puked in by a sick drunk, Eliot pulled his work in progress, a 1949 Ford pick-up out of his garage, and headed to a bar five blocks away, making bets with himself as to whether he’d get mean or depressed drunk Nate. What he didn’t expect to find was two strangers dragging Nate from the bar, the mastermind trying to pull away.

Jumping out of his truck, Eliot sprinted across the street, bowling over muscle head number one before landing a solid left to the glass jaw of muscle head number two. Snatching Nate by the collar, he pulled the inebriated man to his pickup and shoved him through the driver’s side door. Thank goodness for bench seats as he shoved the older man across to the passenger side, and the vintage truck roared to life.

“Eliot?” Watery blue eyes blinked owlishly.

“Yeah, you expecting someone else to drag your drunk ass home?”

“Sophie … No. Sophie left me … Us.”

“Who were your two new friends?”

“Don’t know. Irish. Could have been from old man Doyle, or maybe the Flynns. Said the ‘Boss’ wanted to talk to me about making up for the money we cost him.”

“Terrific.” Making sure he wasn’t being followed, Eliot headed for Nate’s apartment. “You should drink closer to home until we find out.” Eliot pulled his truck across the alley from John McRory’s Bar and Grill, and into the building they used to store Lucille and their equipment.

Nate held his silence until Eliot dumped him on his couch then headed to the kitchen for a bottle of water and aspirin that he shoved at Nate. Heading into the office, Eliot fired up one of Hardison’s computers the hacker used to monitor the cameras within a square mile of McRory’s. Finding what he was looking for, he printed out a copy of the screenshot of the men trying to abduct, Nate.

“What’re you doing?” If he hadn’t caught the scent of Cocoa Puffs and the herbal shampoo Parker used because Sophie said she should, his heart would have stopped in fright.

“Someone tried to snatch Nate tonight at The Penny Whistle Pub. I’m going to call in a favor to find out who it was.”

“Hardison know you can do his job?”

“No, and he isn’t going to know.” He glared at the thief.

“Awww … You don’t want him to feel unneeded.” Parker cooed.

“He’s needed. I don’t need to be stuck in the van doing this crap unless I have to.” Eliot growled. He snatched the picture off the printer and headed for the door. “Since you’re here, keep watch. I don’t know if those idiots know where he lives, and Nate’s too drunk to watch out for himself.”

She gave him a sloppy salute, but her face was serious. “They won’t get him.” She pulled her small taser, that Hardison had amped up, from God only knew where in her tight outfit.

~ • ~ • ~

Passed out deep in his cups, something in Nathan Ford’s lizard brain was signaling that he needed to wake up. The first several times the Irish whiskey soaked part of his brain rolled over and resumed snoring. Finally, he got the message it was morning, and someone was watching him. As he was attempting to peel his eyes open, his tender head nearly split open when …

HE’S AWAKE!” Parker shouted from where she sat cross-legged on the floor watching him sleep.

“Then he can get his hungover ass off the couch and get his own coffee.” A familiar growl came from the direction of the kitchen along with the smell of breakfast.

“Parker, can you keep it down?” Nate mumbled.

His answer consisted of the cover being yanked off him as the thief rolled him off the couch.

“Eliot cooked. You’re going to miss it.” She insisted.

Groaning from his place on the floor, he shoved the curls falling into his eyes back as he glared at the beaming blonde, but before he could yell, his front door banged opened as Hardison bounded through the door.

“Good morning, all.” He sing-songed as he hauled a pile of boxes through to the office space.

“Why is it so noisy this morning?” Nate whined.

“It’s always this noisy. You’re usually upstairs with your pillow and covers over your head.” Parker reminded him.

Pulling himself off the floor, he resisted rolling his eyes in deference to his hangover. Grabbing his coffee off the bar, he trudged up the stairs where he doctored his coffee with the hair of the dog that bit him the night before then indulged in a hot shower. He felt mostly clear-headed as he headed back down to a plate of breakfast food guaranteed to set easy on his abused digestive system.

“Did I imagine it, or did someone try to kidnap me last night?” He looked across the table at his hitter.

“Didn’t imagine it. If the bar manager hadn’t called me, you’d be keeping company with Conall Doyle … Mark Doyle’s father.” Eliot glared over the edge of his teacup.

“He still trying to get a foothold here?”

“Nature abhors a vacuum, and we left quite a vacuum when we took down the Flynn family.”

“How did you find all this out?” Nate rubbed his temple that was finally beginning to feel better.

Dark brows rose. “Seriously? Retrieval specialist.” A disgusted snort made the exclamation point.

“Sorry. Hungover.”

“Like that’s news.”

“Eliot …”

“Save it, Nate. Your word’s not worth much at the moment, but until we get this thing with Doyle settled, you don’t go anywhere alone. You want to drink, do it here or downstairs. No wandering the neighborhood.”

“Where’s Tara? If Papa Doyle has graced Boston with his presence, we need to see about sending him back to Ireland.”

Eliot shrugged at his question.

“She’s been schmoozing some guy at the Boston Harbor Hotel.” Hardison offered.

“Once a spook, always a spook.” Eliot muttered.

“How do you know this?” Nate moved to the living room with Eliot.

“Pinged her phone. Don’t tell me you’re trusting her on Sophie’s say so?” The hacker scoffed.

“Uh …”

“Figures.” Parker blew out a raspberry.

Nate looked around the living room. In all the chaos of Sophie faking her death and leaving to ‘find herself’, and him taking a swan dive off the wagon, he had forgotten that his team were each at the top of their fields when they got together, so them taking the initiative should not surprise him. Parker and Eliot were each a mastermind in their own right, and Hardison’s genius was not to be overlooked because of his youth.

He watched Parker and Eliot exchange a look before the blonde turned her attention to Hardison.

“Run it.”

A picture of the man that appeared to be in his early sixties with dark salt and pepper hair appeared on the big screen. Some part of Nate’s brain thought the man looked like the actor, Pierce Brosnan.

“Conall Doyle, sixty-five, a big deal in the Belfast underworld, rumored to have ties to the Irish Republican Army, or what’s left of it. Sent his oldest kid to Boston to work as a loan shark in the small neighborhoods to stay off the Flynn family radar until we took down the head of the Flynns and left them in chaos.” A picture of Mark Doyle joined Conall’s on the screen.

“That’s the guy we ran The Wire on.” Parker exclaimed.

“Yeah.” Eliot chuckled. “Sent him and his boy, Liam and Liam’s brother back to Ireland with their tails between their legs.” He and Parker gave each other a high five.

Nate studied the two men. If Conall was as nasty as his son seem to think, Mark was probably busted down to carrying the old man’s briefcase after returning to Belfast with empty pockets.

“This is Conall’s pride and joy since Mark turned out to be such a disappointment.” A picture of a young woman appeared on the screen. A beautiful square-jawed brunette with vivid green eyes appeared on the screen. “Branna Doyle, MBA Trinity College in Dublin, stands at her father’s right hand and makes Catherine the Great look like Little Orphan Annie.”

“I do like them mean.” Eliot chuckled.

“Seriously?” Nate frowned at his hitter.

“What? A man’s got to have goals. She traveling with daddy?”

“Yeah, Mark isn’t allowed back in the States as part of the deal Conall made to keep him out of prison. She’s the reason Tara’s been striking out at hitting her mark.” The hacker chuckled.

“So, what is so interesting about Boston that would cause someone to uproot his business from Belfast?” Nate asked. “Gambling, drugs, protection, and prostitution are everywhere. What is it about Boston?”

“Smuggling.” Eliot tossed in the mix. “Lots of places to put in a small boat where no one watches. All kinds of black market goods can be brought in under the radar.”

“Add that in with what’s left of the Flynn organization, you have revenue streams on both sides of the Atlantic.” Parker said, her eyes blazing at the thought of the specialty items that you wouldn’t want to go through Customs.

“So, why did Conall’s bully boys try to kidnap Nate?” Hardison looked at Parker and Eliot like Nate wasn’t in the room.

“He can’t be too happy with us after we ran that con on Mark.” Eliot offered.

“He would have had him shot just for that.” Parker nodded like it was a good idea.

“What if he thinks Nate’s like his father?” The hacker asked.

“He’s worse. Not just mean but creepy.” Parker shivered.

“I am still in the room.” Nate pouted.

“Quiet, we’re thinking.” Parker chastised.

“He wants Nate to mastermind his smuggling route. If it doesn’t work, he kills him.” Eliot shrugged.

“I don’t want Nate to die. Sophie fake died, but she’s still gone.” Parker curled up in the chair with Eliot.

“I’ll go with him.” Eliot promised.

“You will?”

“Yeah.”

“They have guns. You don’t like guns.” Hardison reminded the retrieval specialist.

“I have back-up.” He winked at Hardison.

“Got your back, E.” Hardison’s voice was solemn.

“Now just a minute.” Nate sputtered.

“You want I should hack his calendar for an appointment?”

“I have a feeling he’ll be showing up downstairs in the next few days. Those boys were working hard to get Nate in the car.”

“Shouldn’t I be doing the planning?” Nate growled.

“You’re hungover. Why would we let you plan this.” Parker asked.

“What about Tara? What’s her part?”

“She’s already doing it.” All three turned to look at Nate.

“Seriously?”

“We had to have something to do while we were waiting for you to wake up from your drunken stupor.” Parker climbed out of Eliot’s lap and headed for the kitchen. The hitter and hacker followed the thief as though the three were attached by strings. They disappeared into the office space after Parker grabbed a bowl of her favorite cereal.

Nate gave the thief a pained look at her blunt assessment. In the moments when he was most honest with himself, Sophie’s leaving felt like it did when he lost Sam and then Maggie. He stopped drinking when the team split after taking down Ian Blackpoole. He did it for Sophie. His mastermind brain knew it was a bad premise to hang his sobriety on, and with Sophie gone, he reasoned he no longer needed to deprive himself of his liquid comfort. This being the first case to walk through the door since they’d taken out Mark Doyle, maybe he could lighten up his daily alcohol intake. His three youngest had come up with the good beginnings of a plan, but until they actually met with the elder Doyle, they couldn’t formulate the rest of the plan.

Since he was alone, he dug his phone out of his pocket to complete part of his daily routine.

“Hey Sophie …” He said to the voicemail.

~ • ~ • ~

“I got nothing.” Tara threw her arms in the air as she flounced through Nate’s condo. Eliot arched an eyebrow at the blonde grifter. “I can’t get past that Banshee he calls his daughter.”

“Don’t beat yourself up, Tara. You were able to get close enough to clone their phones.” Hardison grinned. “Now let’s see what’s so tempting about Boston.” He settled at the counter with an orange soda and his laptop.

Nate and Eliot had been spending their evenings downstairs, sitting at the bar, tending bar during the employees’ lunch and breaks, or sitting in a booth going through files with news stories or personal entreaties for help. The rest of the team stayed out of the bar in case they needed a new face in another part of the job.

The fourth evening, Eliot sat in a booth with a book and a cup of tea while Nate sat at the bar talking to Cora in between customers. It was close to midnight on when a casually dressed Conall and Branna Doyle strolled through the door. They took a table for four in the center of the room and ordered two shots of Redbreast whiskey neat.

Seeing Nate’s interest, Cora got his attention with a hand on his arm. Nate patted her hand reassuringly before pouring his shot of whiskey in his coffee and sauntering over to their table after Cora delivered their drinks. Eliot marked his place and laid his glasses on the book as he watched Nate begin his dance with Conall.

Conall held out his hand. “Conall Doyle … My daughter, Branna.”

“Nathan Ford. What brings you to Boston, and why did your bully boys try to kidnap me?”

“You’re very blunt, Mr. Ford.” Branna’s soft Irish burr challenged Nate.

“You’re among ‘friends’  here. They understand the way of the world, but they were glad to see the backside of your brother, Ms. Doyle.”

Nate sipped his coffee and leaned back in his chair. At the Doyle name, several people decided to call it night.

Branna gave Nate a shark’s smile. “We must apologize for their ham-handedness. They’re not quite used to how things are done in the Colonies, Mr. Ford.”

“The reason I wished to speak with you, Mr. Ford …” Conall looked around the room. “Is there somewhere more private we can speak?”

“Certainly. Cora, we’ll be using the back room.” At her nod, he noticed the empty glasses on the table. “Bring the bottle of Redbreast and some glasses.”

“Aye, Nathan.” She kept the anger in her eyes at having the Doyles in her bar behind her teeth.

As they left the room, the red-head smiled when Eliot collected the tray from her. “Your things’ll be behind the bar when you’re finished.” Cora promised.

“Thanks, Sweetheart.” Eliot gave her a grin to ease her mind.

Closing the door behind him, Eliot set the bottle and tumblers on the table along with a carafe of coffee for Nate. Eliot frowned when the cup was soon more Redbreast than coffee. Nate’s expression dared the retrieval specialist to object. Not wanting to break character, Eliot crossed his arms over his chest in front of the locked door.

“You won’t get more private than this, Mr. Doyle.” Nate settled back in his chair.

“The reason I wished to speak with you, Nathan … I can call you Nathan?” At Nate’s nod, he continued. “As you know from your confrontation with my son, Mark, we’re interested in expanding into the States. With the collapse of the competition in Boston, we felt this would be a good place to start. Had I known my boy was stepping on the toes of Jimmy Ford’s boy, I would have directed Mark to a different neighborhood.”

Eliot rolled his eyes from where he stood behind the Doyles.

“I’m glad there’s no hard feelings, Conall. If you wanted a toehold in Boston, you could have talked to me and avoided a lot of these pitfalls you seemed to have encountered.”

“That’s why we’re coming to you now.” Branna refilled their glasses. “We have very exclusive items that we need to get into Boston with few questions asked. Our clients are very private people.”

“What my daughter is trying to say … You have a certain reputation for leading a crew that can get things done under the nose of law enforcement without stirring a hair on their heads.”

“My people are the best at what they do.” Nate nearly snorted his doctored coffee when Hardison’s voice came over the coms.

“Damn straight we’re the best. I work my fingers to the bone to keep us under everyone’s radar.”

“Hardison … Hush.” Parker scolded. ”I’m trying to listen.”

“If you can share the details, we can see if we can develop a course of action … For a price, of course.”

“Oh absolutely.” He pulled a business card out of his pocket and wrote a name and room number on the back. “Meet me at my hotel tomorrow at one. I’ll order lunch and we’ll talk about what we can do for each other.” The man’s smile was all teeth.

Nate stood. “I’ll be there.”

“Until tomorrow.” Conall and Branna turned to leave but seemed startled to see Eliot standing between them and the door.

“Eliot, if you could escort our guests out.”

With a nod, Eliot unlocked the door and indicated that they should precede him. As he opened the door to the street, Eliot spoke quietly to Conall causing the man to pale.

“Cuimhnigh. Táimid ag faire i gcónaí. (Remember. We’re always watching.)” Holding the door, he quipped. “Watch the steps. Have a safe trip.” He shut the door so fast if nearly caught Connell’s coat tail. A flip of the locks, he turned to retrieve his book and glasses from Cora.

“’Bout done?”

“Yes. The night’s take is in the safe, and I’m ready to kick my shoes off with a wee nip.”

“I’ll walk you to your car.”

“Eliot …” He gave her a soft smile that she never could resist. “Fine. You win.”

“Of course. My mama would haunt me from the other side if I let a lady walk alone to her car this hour of the morning.”

“You remember Cora is like a daughter to me.” Nate growled.

“Eliot working that southern mojo.” Hardison crowed.

He closed the car door after Cora settled in the driver’s seat. “Good night, guys.” Eliot’s voice held a smile as he listened to his team tease him.

~ • ~ • ~

Black dress shirt, a sports coat over black jeans and boots had men and women of all ages turning their heads as Eliot and Nate moved through the hotel lobby.

“I feel like such a piece of meat.” Eliot muttered.

“I’d take a steak off that.” Parker giggled.

In the elevator, Eliot took his earbud out. Nate gave him an incredulous look as he dropped it in the top of his boot.

“What are you doing?”

“You don’t think this is going a bit too smoothly. The Irish aren’t known for being forgiving of a slight.”

“No one knows that better than I do, but this is a little paranoid even for you.” Nate sneered.

“The man was IRA back in the day. If I’m wrong, then nothing lost. I pull the earbud out of my boot and we go home, but if not, and they find your earbud then we still have a way to communicate with Hardison.”

“I like that plan. Glad I put in that little GPS chip.” Hardison sounded relieved. “Just don’t get it wet.”

“Thought you were working on that.”

“It’s a work in progress.”

“Terrific.” Eliot schooled his expression as the elevator reached the Doyles’ floor.

“Let’s go steal us some black market clients.” Nate stepped off the elevator with Eliot two steps behind and one step to the left.

~ • ~ • ~

Patted down for weapons, the two men were led into the suite’s living room.

“Your man doesn’t carry a weapon?” Conall seemed surprised.

“He is a weapon.” Nate quipped.

“Could have used a man like him back in the day.” Doyle smiled.

Branna acted as her father’s hostess as they enjoyed an excellent lunch from the Boston Harbor Hotel kitchens. Talk was kept to mundane topics until the dishes were cleared away and coffee served.

“Our plan is to use our shipping company to carry certain specialty items along with their legitimate cargo. We’ll stop while still in international waters and transfer the specialty items to a smaller boat. What we need from you is a plan to get these items on shore without notice of  your Custom officials.” Branna leaned back and crossed her exquisite legs while sipping her coffee.

“We’re not talking about anything living … Are we?”

“No. More likely liquor, wine, paintings, rare food items, rare books, possibly an automobile. The type of things the very rich and bored buy.” The Irishman chuckled. “The type of things you used to insure for IYS.”

“Yes, well, perhaps you’ve heard how that turned out for Ian Blackpoole.” Nate said through gritted teeth.

“Ah yes, the man indirectly responsible for your son’s death. Tragic that.” Conall baited Nate.

Wanting badly to explode in Doyle’s face, one glance at the glare on Eliot’s face had Nate taking a deep breath and settling his temper.

“Yes, well, we’ll need to do some recognizance work and look into the details of what you want. I’d insist my people handle the transfers. That will cost you twenty percent off the top along with the set-up fee, yet to be determined, to set this all in motion.”

“I have to insist several of my people be present to protect my interest at fifteen percent.” Conall insisted.

“One person.”

“One person, fifteen percent, and your set-up fee.”

“Done.” Nate held out his hand.

“Excellent.” Conall smiled big. “This calls for a drink to celebrate.”

“Already poured?” Nate frowned.

“I admit to anticipating us coming to an agreement. Branna said you’d drive a hard bargain.” They each picked up a glass. “To a successful partnership.” Conall toasted.

“Slainte.” Nate clinked his glass with the other two, watching as they drank.

Hoping he wouldn’t regret it, Nate allowed the high shelf whiskey to flow into his mouth just as Eliot knocked his glass away with a shout as Branna hit Eliot on the back of the neck with a taser.

“Eliot said this would happen.” Nate groaned as the sedative took effect.

“You should have listened to your man. He obviously knows human nature better than his boss.”

Conall’s sneer was the last thing Nate saw as he collapsed on top of his hitter.

~ • ~ • ~

When Eliot regained consciousness, it was propped up against a block wall with his hands and feet zip-tied and a headache from getting tasered. As his eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, he saw Nate lying on the floor next to him, also zip-tied. He didn’t see or hear anything else in the vicinity to indicate their location. With a mental snort, Eliot thought Doyle would have come up with something more original than an abandoned warehouse, so he was sure there were some nasty surprises left for them to avoid if they wanted to escape alive.

The first thing he did was check his boot for the knife he kept sheathed there. He was not surprised to find it missing. The next thing was his earbud. Pulling off his boot, he frowned when the earbud fell out in several pieces. If they’d been rough enough with him to break the bit of plastic, he knew he would soon start to feel his bruises. He still felt his wallet in his pocket, but not his phone. Guess Doyle wanted someone to know who he was after he died. Nate was beginning to stir when he reached under his shirt. He heaved a sigh of relief to feel his necklace was still there. He was pulling the necklace over his head when Nate sat up.

“We’re tied up in a damp moldy basement with no com units, and you’re worried whether someone stole your necklace?” Nate groused.

“Wow, someone woke up on the wrong side of the warehouse. You just couldn’t resist that one drink.” Eliot growled. “At least we’re not sitting around wondering about Conall’s plan.” Eliot mused as he started to pull his necklace apart.

“What are  you …?”

“I picked up a few things when I was in eastern Europe.”

It was a little time consuming with his hands tied together, but he finally got the necklace apart. Inside the beautiful walnut wood covered by a Viking dragon was a beautiful little knife that could shave the hair off your arm.

“Beautiful and practical.” Eliot grinned at Nate as he began cutting the zip ties off their legs.

~ • ~ • ~

Parker paced around Nate’s living room. “They should be back by now. It was only lunch.”

“Slow down, Little Mama. Give the genius time to work his magic.” Hardison tried to soothe the thief. “Did you get a hold of Tara?”

“Yeah. She’s checking out the hotel. We should hear something soon.” She nibbled on her cuticle.

“Damn.”

“That’s not a good damn. What’s damn mean?” Parker bolted over to look over his shoulder.

“Eliot’s com unit stopped working right here.” Hardison pointed at the map. “That’s getting out where there’s not much except shut down canneries and old warehouses.”

“What about Nate’s?”

“It’s not on, but it shows him being at the hotel.”

“Can you turn it on? Listen in.”

“Let me try … There.”

“Is it done?” Conall Doyle asked someone.

“Easiest dump we ever did. Even if they wake up and get loose, we left a few surprises we used in the old days for them. If they make it out, they’ll only be a part of the men they used to be.” Everyone in the room laughed.

“Well, he won’t be needing this little baby anymore.” Branna said before the signal ended.

“NO! Hardison, we have to find them. Eliot will protect Nate, but if they hurt Eliot …”

“Parker! Get a grip. We can’t help them if we can’t find them. Now look at the map and help me figure this out before we go looking for them.”

The hacker watched as the thief actually shook like a dog shedding water. When she stopped, she was calmer. He could see in eyes she was back to Parker, master thief … Not Parker, scared five-year-old.

Before he could comment, his phone rang. Seeing Tara’s number, he put the phone on speaker.

“Anything?”

“Eliot’s truck is still in the neighborhood and the housekeeper on Doyle’s floor saw two big men in regular clothes pushing a laundry cart to the freight elevator.”

“Regular clothes?”

“Yeah. All the employees wear hotel uniforms.”

“We’re getting ready to follow the signal for Eliot’s earbud to where it stopped then figure out where we go from there.”

“Wait for me. I’ll go with.” They could hear Tara digging for her keys.

“No.” Parker stuck out her bottom lip.

“I can help you look.” Tara insisted, tired of being on the outside looking in at Sophie’s close-knit little group.

“Yeah, but we need you here looking out for Cora and the bar. McRory’s is where Mark Doyle lost face and the Doyle money and reputation. It’s the first place Conall and Branna will head if they think there’s no one to protect Cora.”

“Can you handle that?” Hardison asked.

“Now that I don’t have to keep a low profile … You bet I can.”

“Good, ‘cause Eliot and Nate will be pissed if anything happens to Cora.” Parker’s tone was hard.

“You go find the boys. I’ll take care of things here. In fact, I’m on the way.” She ended the call.

“Let’s ride.” Parker grabbed Hardison by the wrist and yanked him toward the door.

He had just enough time to grab his laptop before he was out the door and down the stairs, headed toward the garage.

~ • ~ • ~

Eliot was beginning to think all of this hell-spawned warehouse was underground. They had climbed three levels working their way through a maze of booby traps set by someone who obviously missed the bad old days with the Irish Republican Army. If they got out of here alive, he was going to hit Conall so hard, Mark would feel it in Belfast.

The drugs in Nate’s system made his usually agile brain sluggish. Eliot’s ears still rang from a booby trap the mastermind had stumbled over before Eliot could get it disarmed. They were lucky there was a cement block half wall close enough to shelter them from the blast. They were bruised, and Eliot carried over a dozen small cuts from flying concrete, but they were still functional.

“Stay behind me until we get outside. Do not go wandering around on  your own.” Eliot growled.

“Yeah. Good idea.” Nate sat down and held his head as Eliot worked on the next trap.

The sedative mixed with the amount of alcohol Nate had in his system before his lunch with Conall and Branna was not settling very well.

“Probably feel better if you puked.” Eliot finished disarming the trap.

“No thank you. I hate throwing up.” He let Eliot pull him to his feet.

“Shouldn’t be much further.”

“We can hope.” Nate groaned.

Eliot pulled Nate’s arm over his shoulders as he helped the older man up the stairs. He was checking the next door for tripwires when it was yanked open. Knife held between his fingers, he prepared to fight his way out.

“You’re here!” In the bright light coming through the door, Eliot saw Parker.

“Dammit, Parker! I almost stabbed you.” Eliot growled.

“Where’s Nate?” Her tone was anxious.

“Over there trying not to puke.” He turned around to haul Nate up from where he was sitting.

“Ewww. I hate to puke.”

“Focus, Parker. Booby traps?”

“All taken care of. Hardison’s waiting with Lucille to take you home.”

“Good.”

Eliot on one side and Parker on the other, they got Nate to the van where both men grabbed water out of the cooler. Eliot poured another bottle over his head to help soothe his headache until the aspirin out of the first aid kit started to work. After he did a quick check on Nate, he turned back to Parker and Hardison.

“Once we’re out of here we need to call someone to collect all those explosives.” Eliot looked at the hacker.

“Already done. I’ll keep an eye on the file, and take care of any evidence found that leads to you or Nate.”

“Good man.” Eliot patted him on the back as he climbed inside the van to settle in the back. “Where’s Tara?”

“Watching out for Cora and the bar in case the Doyles show up.” Parker grinned.

“She’ll be mad there’s no money in the job.” Eliot snarked.

“There could be a little.” Hardison pulled away from the warehouse. “Seems Conall was setting up bank accounts here in Boston. It’s a shame some terrible error caused all that money to disappear.” Hardison chuckled.

“If he’s still in town, I’m going to make him wish he never left Ireland.” Eliot grumbled.

~ • ~ • ~

Parking Lucille in her garage, Nate, followed by Parker and Hardison entered McRory’s from the back while Eliot went around front. They saw Tara standing between the Doyles and Cora.

“Conall, good to see you and Branna again.” Nate called out as the sounds of a fist meeting flesh filled the bar before the thuds of bodies hitting the floor could be heard.

Everyone turned to see a glaring Eliot standing over Conall’s bully boys, who were sprawled out on the floor. He stepped over the bodies toward Conall and Branna. Parker stood at the kitchen doors practically leering at the scene in front of her. Hardison was totally prepared to take advantage of Parker’s love of watching Eliot fight.

“Stay down.” He growled as he walked away. “Sorry about the mess, Ms. Cora.”

“No problem. I’m sure you’ll be taking out the trash after Mr. Doyle carries himself out of my bar.”

“Yeah. He’s about to carry himself and his daughter all the way back to Ireland and forget his plans to expand into Boston.”

“That’s good to know.” Cora turned back to washing glasses.

“Now see here …” Conall’s statement ended in a squawk when Eliot grabbed his tie and smacked his head on the solid oak bar.

Branna started toward her father, reaching in her bag when Tara grabbed her wrist and raised her other hand in a fist. The younger woman raised her hands in surrender.

“Give me a reason.” Tara said to the wide-eyed woman.

“You have 24 hours to be on your way back to Ireland.” Nate chimed in.

“You have no right.” Conall growled.

“The FBI and ATF will probably have a few questions if you’re still here when they finish processing that wonderful warehouse where you left us.” Nate’s smile was nasty. “Goodbye, Mr. Doyle.”

The mastermind went out the back and up the stairs to his condo followed by Parker, Hardison, and Tara.

“Did we make anything from this little dust-up?” The blonde grifter asked.

“Your twenty percent is already in your account.” Hardison snapped as he let the door close in her face.

“That works for me.” She headed back down the stairs.

Eliot stayed in the bar until the Doyles and their men left the neighborhood.

“With luck and a lot of prayers, may we never see those two again.” Cora practically spit on the floor as the door closed behind them.

“You have any trouble, I’m upstairs.”

“Thank you, Eliot, but it looks like you could do with a shower and some sleep.”

“Next on my list.” He winked as he headed for the stairs.

~ • ~ • ~

Nate was already in the shower when he made it to the condo. Hardison was ordering Chinese while Parker fluttered around the room. Seeing their retrieval specialist coming through the door, she ran toward him and jumped, expecting to be caught. The solid body hitting his bruised ribs caused Eliot to grunt in pain as he hugged the thief.

“Where’s Tara?”

“Gone after she was told the money was in her account.” Hardison grinned at him.

“Good. More food for us.” Parker slid to the floor after she got her hug.

Eliot turned serious as he made sure Parker had her feet under her before walking over to the couch. He grabbed Hardison’s shoulder.

“Thanks for coming for us.”

“It’s what family does, Man.”

“Yeah.” Parker hugged Eliot once more before shoving him away. “You need a shower.”

Eliot chuckled as he headed for the shower in their workroom. It wasn’t long before they were all sitting around enjoying dinner and having everyone home in one piece.

Nate sat back with his tumbler of whiskey watching the antics of the youngsters with Eliot. When everyone had gone home, Nate picked up his phone. He had one more thing to do before today turned into tomorrow.

“Hey Sophie, it’s me.” He spoke to the answering machine. “What started out as a really crappy day turned out to be pretty good …”

~ Finis ~

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