Author's Note: It has been established that he Leverage crew had “met” each other at least once before they joined together as a team (even if they did not know it at the time) in The Rashomon Job. What if a few of them had met before and did know it -but chose to keep that fact to themselves? Verse/Setting: Pre- series for Leverage.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from Leverage and am not making money from this fic.
Warning(s): suggestions of parental discipline toward an adult

Before the Jobs

Nate recognized him the moment he saw him across the room. This one had been at the gala event where someone had made an attempt to steal the dagger. The fact that the dagger in question had been a fake was another matter entirely- and the events of that night had led to the arrest of one Gutman- a high level trafficker that they had been glad to take down.

Nate hadn’t really given any thought to there being any other players in that night’s escapades- although there had been several suspicious characters in attendance- since the fake had ended up in his possession anyway and they had been able to recover the money and missing knife from Gladstone. But this young man- he recognized him, even if the jeans and flannel shirt he was wearing made him seem ten years younger.

Now, it was one year later and Nate was watching the young man through hooded eyes, trying to decipher what exactly the boy was doing here. He had already concluded that the kid was up to no good. The name given at the door did not match the name the young man had given the year before- when he had introduced himself as a doctor- which meant, the kid had likely been involved in the attempted theft of the fake knife. That or he’d planned to do something else that required a false identity. In any case, he’d obviously been up to no good then- which put his motives now into question.

Feeling that he had reasonable cause to be suspicious, Nate motioned over several guards and asked them to arrange for ‘Mr. Rogers’ to be detained in the main office. He smirked as he wondered to himself if the kid would recognize him.

# # #
Elliot frowned as he paced around the empty office, wondering just why he had been asked (although he hadn’t really been given any choice in going) to wait here for an interview. The only thing that kept him from just slipping out a back door and disappearing entirely was the fact that he didn’t know for certain that he’d been made- and if he had, who had figured it out. It was always a good idea to know who knew your face and might be an enemy so that you could avoid them in the future if necessary.

When the door opened and a tall dark haired man entered the room, Elliot wanted to curse. Only years of practice keeping his feelings close to heart- and the fact that he didn’t want to give anything away if he could absolutely avoid it- kept him quiet. Nathan Ford. Every retrieval specialist worth his salt knew who Ford was. It was just his luck that Nathan Ford, an insurance inspector who was respected if not liked by most people in his business due to the man’s shrewd mind, was involved in this particular job. Going up against Nathan Ford and not getting caught was considered quite a feat and would raise his credibility in the retrieval world by a lot. Of course- that was only if he could keep his cool and not give his game away. He doubted Ford had anything on him at the moment or he’d already be in handcuffs. But the suspicion was there- Elliot could see it in the older man’s eyes.

“Mr. Rogers?” Ford smiled faintly at him as he asked his question. Elliot tried to hide his swallow as he answered, “yes?” It was obvious Ford didn’t believe that was who he was. Maybe he should have disappeared after all. As far as he knew he hadn’t given anything away, and yet the insurance investigator looked like a bloodhound on the scent of an escaped fugitive. Elliot wrinkled his nose slightly, irritated at himself. That was so not the image he needed to imagine in regards to Nathan Ford and himself.

He glanced toward the door as a younger woman entered and handed Ford a file, his eyes darting back to Ford in wariness.

# # #
Nathan turned toward the door as his assistant handed him a file before leaving the office again. Opening the file, he chuckled softly, looking back up at the younger man who was beginning to look more and more like a caged panther. He would have to be careful with this one. Everything he knew about Elliot Spencer indicated the man was dangerous. Maybe he was not as prone to random acts of violence as some in his trade- but when pushed, more than capable of taking out men twice his size.

“So, Elliot- May I call you Elliot?” Nate asked pleasantly, deliberately not commenting on the fact that the boy had introduced himself with a totally different name.

Elliot didn’t try to hide his swallow this time. Ford knew who he was- even had a file on him- so there wasn’t a lot of use keeping up his pretense now. But he still hadn’t been arrested, so it would be beneficial for him to remain calm and hear the other man out.

“Let’s cut to the chase. Why are you here, Elliot?” Nate waited a second before continuing, “Because I have to tell you, if it is the painting you came for- it’s already been moved to another location. Right now you haven’t done anything legally wrong- at least not today. Don’t give me a reason to have you arrested son.”

Elliot winced at the term of endearment, giving the insurance man a disgruntled look. “Don’t call me son. You ain’t my daddy.” He mumbled, since protesting his innocence and that he hadn’t been up to anything didn’t seem like a smart move to make.

Nate slanted his head, considering the younger male. “No. I’m not. If I were, I wouldn’t let you be working any job like this.”

Elliot snorted. “And just how would you stop me? It’s a little too late to turn me over your knee and teach me to be a good boy.” The retrieval specialist smirked at the impatient look Ford gave to him for the rejoinder.

The smirk quickly slid off his face when Nate replied, “You’re never too old to be taken in hand, if needed.”

Nate gave a tiny smile and held up a placating hand. “No more will be said on your choice of occupation. But I will offer a word of warning. IYS has a file on you. We don’t have a lot- and unfortunately for us, nothing that will enable us to take you down-yet. But we know who you are and we are watching. Now do you still want to go after that painting?”

# # #
Elliot, in fact, did want to go after that painting. It was a matter of pride and a desire to thumb the nose of the insurance firm (and Nathan Ford) that he had carried for two and a half more years. It was while he was planning the ‘retrieval’ that he’d learned about Ford’s son and the agent’s subsequent leaving of IYS- and that the man had become a drunk. If that knowledge had taken a bit of the elation out of obtaining the painting- and had even caused him to feel a slight sense of sorrow and guilt (and he hadn’t felt guilty about stealing in more years than he wanted to admit), no one would know it but himself.

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