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"Clay or not" 1/4 (Numb3rs/Leverage)

Title: Clay or Not.

(working titles were “the 3 Rs” and "Neither blood nor clay")

Parts of this crossover have been sitting on my computer for over a month now…but only with the airing of the end of the next-to-last episode (and the previews for said season finale), it all slides into place.

Fandoms: Leverage / Numb3rs
Author: Keenir
Spoilers: s1, s4, current season (minus finale) of Numb3rs. Entire first season of Leverage.

Canon Character(s): Hardison, Sophie, Parker, Nate, Eliot; Amita, Don, David, Colby, Amita’s grandmother, Liz, Nikki, Larry, Charlie, Alan, Ian, Alice.

Rating: PG-13
Note: the Epicurius quote is from Principal Doctrines" or "Sovran Maxims” at Aphorisms

Disclaimer: None of them are mine.
Summary: Family is important. Parker knows this. So when Amita is kidnapped, she snaps from one job to the more important one.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~First Night:

“I’m sorry,” Sophie said with a light laugh in her friendly voice, and remarked on how he and she kept running into one another – first at the supermarket, then the video store, and now here getting take-out.

He assured her not to worry, that coincidences happen – he’d seen her, briefly, a momentary glimpse, in those places, sure. It was all by design, though – though the mark didn’t know that. Sophie did.

“We got a problem,” Hardison said through the earwigs.

“I’m sorry?” Sophie said. And while the mark repeated what he’d just said, figuring that Sophie had missed it, what with the cooks’ loudly discussing – in Hokkien, Sophie recognized – the exact preparation of a diabetic’s order...

Hardison explained: “We just got a ding.”

“Didn’t I tell you not to leave your car out?” Eliot remarked, still in the supermarket.

“Not a car ding. See, I set up the system to alert us if any of us gets in any trouble.”

“I’m still here,” Nate said. “And we know where you and Sophie are, Eliot. And since the Leverage employee in trouble isn’t likely to be talking about dings…”

“She was with us this morning,” Eliot said. “Parker could be anywhere by now.”

“We’ll find her. Sophie, pull out – we’ve done the job; this just means we won’t be ruining the crooks as deeply as we’d like. Their mark was one of three crooks in cahoots, all three being targeted by Leverage Inc.

Sophie excused herself and left, standing by the curb, Hardison picking her up not thirty seconds later.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sophie was the first to visit Parker in jail. “First time?”

“What?” Parker asked.

“Behind bars,” Sophie clarified.

“First time I’ve been behind them for so long.”

And that told Sophie that Parker was waiting for something – for the team? For her target to come visit her? “What exactly were you thinking, Parker?”

“Sophia,” Parker said, the name she had been using when she’d been arrested.

“Cute.

“Why him?” Sophie asked.

“He likes the exotic,” Parker said. “The rare, the unusual.”

“So you turned yourself into a blonde in a niqab,” Sophie observed. When I said you had no appreciable figure, Parker, I didn’t think you’d throw on a burqa.

“I tucked my bangs up after they arrested me.”

“I see,” Sophie said, understanding that, if there was no hair exposed, the mark wouldn’t have known Parker was a blonde, only that she had pale skin. “But that only answers how you went after him,” which had never been asked. “It doesn’t tell me why you went after him.”

“I had to,” Parker said.

“I see. You had to, hm? Or what? Sophia, if there’s someone threatening you, we can help.”

“I can do this myself,” firmly.

“And what will you do if I get you out of this cell?”

“Try another tactic,” Parker said.

“Against the same man?”

“Of course.”

“Why?”

“Because it has to be done.”

“Sophia,” Sophie said, enunciating the words.

“No,” Parker said sternly, like a parent reprimanding a wayward child. “Go away,” like a little kid to another kid.

Sophie sighed and headed back to the front desk, and from there to the car down the block where Nate and Hardison were waiting.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hardison was the next one in, and he strode into the jail all dressed like he was going to a black-tie dinner…or to church services. Sophie’d told him who was the guy in charge – not a difficult determination, given that there was only one guy behind the counter at this hour of the night. “Officer Crewston?” Hardison asked.

“That’s me.”

“You’re holding a lady by the name of Sophia Eppstein, right?” Maybe showing Parker how easy Internet name generators could be, wasn’t my best idea.

“I do. Who’s asking?”

Hardison smiled warmly and both hands clapped around one of Crewston’s hands. “Thanks for keepin’ an eye on my sister-in-law, man,” Hardison said. “It’s a big comfort to know that she was safe in your protection, given what the streets are like these days.”

“Your -?”

“Okay, technically a bit more,” Hardison confided. “See, she’s my sister’s husband’s sister. Eppstein’s her maiden name.”

“So, that outfit she has on…. You’re not -”

Hardison snorted. “We’re not fundies, man, we’re Mormons. Sophie there, she just likes to make political statements.”

“Oh. Okay,” and unlocked the door so Hardison could walk down the corridor of jail cells to the one holding Parker; and waited where he was so Hardison could talk to Parker.

“Hey,” Hardison said.

“Hey,” Parker repeated, still standing where she’d been when the real Sophie had left.

“Comfy?”

“My butt itches. Other than that, like Alice White’s shoes all over me.”

Anyone who didn’t know Parker’s experience in the jury, they wouldn’t understand the meaning of and in that sentence.

Hardison just waited patiently.

“Well?” Parker asked.

“Well what?”

“Aren’t you going to tell me you want me to explain what I was doing?”

“If you want,” Hardison said indifferently.

Eliot would’ve gone ‘huh?’

Parker just looked at him.

Hardison looked back. He’d learned how to do this when he was a kid.

“My atta asked me for help,” Parker said at last.

“Your atta?” Hardison repeated.

“Yes.”

“Why didn’t you ask any of us for help?”

Parker frowned, but only a small mild one. “Because my atta asked me,” emphasis on the final word.

“I see. Well, now that the rest of us know you’re in here, would you be willing to lead the team effort?”

Parker stood there.

Hardison waited. Pushing Parker was never pretty, nor did it end well.

“Okay,” she said.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hardison and Parker were on their way out of the police station, innocently chatting with Crewston, when an armored Federal van pulled up. And out from the driver’s-side door was an FBI agent that Hardison remembered well: “Remember me, Hardison? Agent Browder,” said Amanda Browder.

“Two for the price of one,” said her partner, some guy that Hardison didn’t recognize from the last time Browder had been after him. The two agents came out and over to the entrance. “I’d not suggest anything fancy,” said the agent to Hardison and Parker.

“Can I help you?” Crewston asked.

Browder flashed her badge at him. “We’re here for your prisoners – and so you know, they’re the pair standing right next to you.”

Browder’s partner tensed, preparing himself for the moment when one of the two criminals took Crewston hostage and tried to get away.

But that didn’t happen: Hardison held out his arms, wrists clasped together.

Parker mimed his action reluctantly, unsure of what her co-worker was up to, but certain he had some plan cooking.

“Don’t feel bad,” Browder said to Crewston. “This guy’s good at pulling the wool over peoples’ eyes.”

“I’d bow,” Hardison said, “but you folks got guns pointed at me.”

“It’s not nice,” Parker agreed in that voice of hers that had most people torn between saying ‘I’m sorry,’ asking to see proof of age, and ‘you’re got to be kidding me.’

“You’d prefer handcuffs?” Browder’s partner asked.

Parker scrunched up her face, and Hardison couldn’t help but wonder if she was about to say ‘you’re not my type.’

“He new?” Hardison asked Browder.

“Get in the van,” she answered.

Hardison complied, and the first half of the trip was uneventful. Just him and Parker sitting in the armored back compartment of a van that’d been converted to transport risky individuals.

“They used to put money back here,” Parker said with an appreciative sniff that Hardison hoped was just an affectation or something to denote emphasis – not even Parker could smell money after body work had been done to this wheeled beast. He was pretty sure of that, anyway.

And it was true that this used to be something that delivered cash – and loads of it – to banks and federal reserves.

Hardison started tapping….dun-dun-dun-dum dun-dun-dun-dum, so very like a certain Time Lord’s incessant drumming.

After five minutes of it, Browder decided she’d had enough: “Not even the Master can save you now, Alec,” she told him. “So shove it.”

Hardison resumed tapping.

“Shut – it – now - !” she commanded.

Silence.

When they reached their destination, Browder opened the door with her partner’s gun at the ready…

Only to find that the pair of prisoners had vanished. And you’re plum out of get-out-of-jail-free cards, Alec, Amanda thought to herself.

~~~~~

A while later that night, Parker and Hardison stood at the edge of a parking lot for a veterinary clinic. Got no spare clothes for either of us to change into, Hardison considered. “We’re going to have to wing it.”

Parker nodded, and they headed indoors. Once inside, she asked the receptionist, “Do you have a phone we might use?” asking in a voice that was dainty.

The receptionist nodded, and started to hand them hers. “We kinda need a room,” Hardison said.

“Oh?” the receptionist asked.

Nodding, he said, awkward from fear more than embarrassment, “Now, I ain’t from the wrong side o’ the tracks or nothing,” Hardison said, “but her daddy still don’t entirely like me. So he’s gonna be mighty loud when we call him.”

Nodding, Parker said, her voice quaint and demure, “And it has to be a speakerphone, otherwise mah daddy won’t believe that I’m not lying in a ditch abandoned.”

The receptionist nodded, and Parker wondered just how many actual people like them – like they were supposed to be at the moment – this woman saw come in here and make exactly that request. “Follow me, please,” the receptionist said.

“Thankya kindly…Judy,” Hardison said, reading her name tag. “Come along, sweety,” to Parker, playing the role.

“Just doing my duty,” Judy said, “good Samaritan and all. When you’re done, just hang up and you can wait in here if you like.”

“Much appreciated,” Parker said. Once Judy had left them, Parker said, “Nate’s not going to be happy.”

“Neither of us is incarcerated,” Hardison said, already dialing.

“I could have gotten out of that truck on my own.”

“Sure.”

“I could.”

“Don’t doubt it.”

“Nice to hear your voices,” Nate said on the other end of the phone line.

“Yeah, same here,” Hardison said. “We’re fine, by the way.”

“It was weird,” Parker said.

On the other end of the line, they could hear Eliot mutter something about a pot.

Parker continuted: “That lady wanted to bone Hardison.”

There was an awkward silence. Finally, Sophie said, “Parker, I think you mean that you think the woman wanted Hardison to bone her.”

“I -” Hardison started to say.

Nate interrupted: “Whatever sort of relationship Hardison’s one-time arresting officer may or may not desire to resume pursuing with him, we need to know something.”

“What’s that?” Hardison asked.

“We need to know why, Parker.”

“Why what?” she asked, perfectly innocently.

“Oh you know what. That book you were trying to steal from Mr. Gemmel.”

“Oh that,” lightly. Flat and serious, “I couldn’t let him auction it off.”

“Out-bid him,” Eliot said. “You’ve probably got enough in your bank accounts to buy all the Smithsonians.”

And that book of Gemmel’s was going to be donated to the Smithsonian if Gemmel was the highest bidder at his own action, Nate knew. Which is why the FBI had shown up to pick up Parker from the jail. “Care to explain, Parker?”

“I made a promise,” Parker said. “I’m going to carry it out. And I can do it on my own.”

“We’re not abandoning you, Parker,” Sophie said.

“Easy as it’d be,” Eliot said, “it’s not something we’ll do.”

“Amen,” Hardison said.

“Now that we’re all agreed, maybe you can tell us what this op is,” Nate asked Parker.

“I’m going in alone,” she said.

“Oh hell no,” Hardison said.

“The book belongs to my grandmother,” Parker said. “I promised her I would get it back.”

“Then you most definitely need us, Parker,” Nate said. “Even if it’s just to keep the law off your back.”

“I can handle -”

“Parker!” Nate said. “Gemmel doesn’t have the book. It was stolen from him.”

Parker muttered a curse word Hardison had managed not to have come across before now. “Who?” she asked, and even that sounded faintly obscene and profane.

“Tobias Kluny,” Sophie said.

“The cult leader,” Nate said.

“It’s not hard to get a following, Nate,” Eliot said.

“Somehow,” Sophie said, amused, “I believe they were expecting me to say that.”

“You go in there, Parker,” Nate said. “Hardison’ll stay in the neighborhood in case things go south. As for the rest of us…we’ll make ourselves useful.”

“Damn right,” Eliot said.

“Too right, Eliot,” Sophie corrected. “Too right.”

It didn’t take long at all for the two Leverage employees to cross the state border and dive deep into southern California.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~At That Same Time:

Amita had felt her pulse return to almost what was normal for her. And her breathing was no longer unsteady or uneven. But she was still kidnapped in a moving vehicle.

A vehicle that finally came to a stop, the side door sliding open. “Where…where are we?” Amita asked as the door finished opening and they picked her up by her arms to half-carry and half-pull her towards the house on a modest rise of a hill above this driveway.

“Tobias wants to talk to you,” said one of her handlers.

“Couldn’t he have called? Made an appointment, maybe?” Amita wasn’t sure if she said that because of the silliness of what she’d been told, or if her brain was being irrational after being struck.

“Tobias wants you,” said the other handler. “Bar none.”

“You’re important,” said the woman behind Amita. To the handlers, “And that’s enough chatter.”

The handlers shut up.

Amita had a bad feeling…one that was on top of the pit of unease and concern she already had…like whipped cream atop a brownie.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~tbc
Tags: amita, amita ramanujan, crossover, leverage, leverage fanfiction, numb3rs, numb3rs fanfiction, parker
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