. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Nate
Lindsey stares at Nate from across the chess board, trying to predict his next move, and the three moves after that. He narrows his eyes, watching for a tell.
“You’re thinking too twisty, Linny,” Eliot grins from his seat next to him, as he loses, again.
Thirty-two minutes later…
“Not twisty enough. Try harder,” Eliot says, then giggles.
Lindsey growls and shoves his brother away so that he’s not
leaning on him. “Stop helping me!”Three hours later…
“Check. Mate,” Lindsey says, and grins triumphantly at Nate. “Yes!” he pumps his fist, “See that, Eliot? Can too.”
Looking down, he realizes that the warm weight making his legs fall asleep is the brother whom he has only just noticed is lying half in his lap and half on his own chair, with his head cushioned on Lindsey’s thigh and one arm dangling limply off of the chair seat. It looks to be a very uncomfortable position, but the slow, even breaths say otherwise. And the drool. Eliot’s drooling. On Lindsey’s lap. Ew.
“He’s been asleep for the last twenty minutes,” Nate says softly.
Lindsey blinks down at the sleeping boy in his lap. Even now, after he has gotten used to the fact that his big brother is now a kid, moments like this, when Eliot allows his vulnerability to show with such childlike trust, make Lindsey pause and contemplate the (oftentimes crazy) what-ifs and wherefores of their lives. He puts a hand on the slumbering boy’s head and runs his fingers gently through the perpetually-tangled curls.
He’s essentially raising his twin brother. He thinks, well, maybe this time, this time, he can change things, certain things, so that Eliot won’t grow up to be one of the world’s most effective and experienced killers, so he won’t have to lose that tentative innocence that has been restored to him. Maybe, maybe it’s a second chance. Maybe…
As he’s reflecting, he realizes…
“No witnesses. I won and there were no witnesses.” His head bounces off of the cleared chess board with a dull, despairing thud. “No fair.”
“Nope,” Nate says with a small smile, as if he knows exactly what Lindsey had been thinking a minute ago, “New game?”
Lindsey groans. “I gotta put the kid to bed first. Meanwhile, you can pour me a stiff one, and then we’ll see how many times I can beat you again.”
Nate smirks. “You mean how many times I can beat you
again, don’t you?”
Lindsey scoffs over the softly snoring Eliot’s shoulder. “As if. I’m gonna beat you at your own game, Ford. Just you wait and see.”
Nate looks after the unlikely pair, an odd ache in his chest even as the corners of his mouth threaten to turn up. Eliot’s transformation has caused the entire team to change and adapt to their hitter’s new size, but none of them has evolved as much as Lindsey has. He had once been a sullen, disillusioned young man, but now, he has become less selfish and more open, caring more about others’ feelings. And most importantly, he has learned the value of trust.
As he pours whiskey for himself and gin for the hitter, he reflects on the significance of Lindsey allowing Nate to pour him a drink without him standing nearby, carefully watching to ensure that no drugs or potions are slipped in with the drink.
Lindsey walks back into the room just as Nate’s resetting the board. “He’s out.”
“How’re the nightmares?” Nate asks, handing him his glass. Ever since Lindsey’s installation in the Leverage team, Eliot has alternated between Nate’s apartment and Lindsey’s, gradually spending more and more time at his brother’s place than at Nate’s.
Lindsey frowns for a moment, as if taken by surprise by the question. “He still has them.” He snorts softly. “Ends up in my bed about once a week at the very least.”
“You don’t mind.” It’s not a question.
Lindsey shrugs, still slightly uncomfortable about sharing his brother’s vulnerabilities, even with Nate. “Nah, we shared a bed for the first thirteen years of our lives. Subconscious probably remembers it or something.” He sets the glass down on the table and begins to say something, but stops.
“Alright,” he says instead, seating himself, “White goes first. That’s you.”
“Wanna switch?” Nate asks, in a deceptively off-hand manner as he sits across from Lindsey.
Lindsey’s eyes snap up to meet Nate’s. “You’re always white.”
Nate simply smiles and spins the board a half-circle. “Now you are.”
The ex-lawyer blinks a couple of times. “How’s my hat?” he asks softly, hesitantly.
The mastermind allows the smile to spread. “A little more faded than it used to be. It suits you.” He glances down at the board. “Your move.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
AN: The hat thing is a reference to the obvious “white hat” line from Leverage,
but it is also a self-reference to “The Sky’s Gonna Open,” when Lindsey scoffs at the idea that he is a good guy and mentions that his hat is still a lot greyer than Eliot’s.