Title: Bait and Switch
Pairing: none, team gen
Notes: Short and rather silly.
Summary: Parker and Sophie need to get out of a tricky situation.
The lift went flawlessly.
Sophie was dancing with their mark, a charming guy called Lucien Christoph. Through his earpiece Nate could hear the orchestra, Sophie's artful laugh. Somewhere in between complimenting her eyes and trying to cop a feel, Sophie snagged the keycard and replaced it with a duplicate, her partner oblivious.
Out in the van parked a block away, Hardison sat with his laptop balanced on his knees. Nate was beside him, the two of them watching via security camera as the song ended and Sophie politely disengaged, making her way off the dance floor.
"Ugh," Sophie murmured, clearly glad to be free. "I hope you all saw just where he tried to put his hand just then."
"Respect, Sophie," Hardison said. "Taking one for the team. We appreciate it."
"I mean there was only so many times I could accidentally stomp on his foot."
"Don't worry, next time Eliot does the dancing," Nate said.
From the front of the van, in the driver's seat, Eliot snorted. "Yeah that's right, just keep pimping us out, man. One of these days, it's going to be your turn."
"No, see guys, that's why I'm in charge. It's called delegating."
"Guys, guys," Hardison interjected before anyone else could make a retort, "come on now, lay off our fearless leader. Maybe have a little sympathy. Clearly, the man's lost his touch."
There was answering laughter in the van and over the earpiece and Nate rolled his eyes. "Yeah," he leaned in towards Hardison and said pointedly, "delegation."
Hardison's eyes widened a little as he no doubt considered all the things Nate could potentially come up with a perfectly legitimate reason for making him do in the course of a con. Legitimate reason number one being, 'Nate is an evil bastard who can hold a grudge like nobody's business'.
"Uh, okay then. Working here, people, no more of this harmless kidding around and whatnot. It's distracting from our serious business here."
Satisfied, Nate refocussed on the security feeds, quickly picking out the figures of Sophie and Parker. Sophie was weaving her way between tables, on a trajectory to make the pass-off to Parker. Parker would then make a discreet exit, while Sophie remained to keep an eye on their target until she was clear.
The casual observer would have seen two women pause to greet each other. There was air-kissing and a few minutes of small talk. Nate was watching for it, and he barely managed to catch the real exchange. Then, giving each other bland smiles, Sophie and Parker moved off in different directions. All fairly routine, no problems here, except -
"Wait," Nate said. He pointed a finger at one of the camera feeds showing on the screen. "Stop that one, rewind it a few frames. And that one, go back to the dancing."
Eliot twisted in his seat to look back at them. "What?"
A second viewing was all he needed to see what had nagged at him. "Yeah, Christoph's second in command, the one who's always with him everywhere, he followed Sophie off the dance floor. He could have made the pass-off."
"What?" Parker's response was sharp and immediate.
"No, I don't get made," came from Sophie, equally indignant.
"Yeah, well we'll deal with egos later. He's still with you, Sophie, he suspects something, anyway."
"Well that's fine, I'm not going anywhere. I'll just act casual, while Parker gets out of here."
One of the security cameras showed Parker leaning against a wall by a potted plant looking bored, but her words were urgent. "Nate, do I go?"
He didn't like it. And as he watched, Christoph's guy lifted a cell phone to his ear. Well that wasn't a good sign. "No, Sophie, I want you both out of there. We're going to plan C. You'll get out the way you came in."
Suddenly the van's engine came to life. "We're on the wrong street for plan C," Eliot snapped, steering them out into traffic with little regard as to whether the traffic was ready or not.
The two women were already moving, Hardison's fingers flew on the keyboard, switching camera feeds to follow their progress. Sophie slipped through the swinging service doors just moments after Parker. Once they were clear of the ballroom, a few corridor turns and a set of stairs took them down into the labyrinthine service levels beneath the main floor of the hotel.
"Damn," Hardison said, just as the live feed cut out.
"Get the cameras back," Nate said.
"The ca- oh the cameras? On this level? The ones I shut down so that we could sneak in there in the first place? I'm going to have to reboot the entire system, and that -"
"Okay," Nate spoke over him, "we're blind out here. How's it looking?"
"You mean trying to run without looking like we're trying to run?" Sophie said under her breath.
"It's easy," Parker hissed, "as long as you don't actually need to run."
"It's not like there's any reason for us to be here," Sophie continued. "And it's a maze down here but he could still catch up at any moment. We are doing this in heels, you know."
Nate actually knew from experience just how elusive Sophie could be in any kind of footwear, but that didn't mean he wasn't worried. Parker, for her part, had complained more about the shoes as they were preparing than the dress Sophie was sticking her into. And on his cell phone just now, the guy could easily have been calling in backup.
"You want me in there?" Eliot looked over at him. They were stopped at a red light.
But other than Eliot abandoning the vehicle and diving through a reinforced window, Nate wasn't sure how that was going to happen. He held up a hand. "Okay, so you're just retracing your steps. We don't have another way out except the service entrance -?"
Beside him Hardison was shaking his head in the negative. "Uh-uh."
"Not that Sophie could fit through, anyway," Parker added grimly.
"What? You're wider than me."
"Focus! Could we focus here, please?" Nate said. His racing mind offered up one solution. "Okay, well it's simple, we'll just, we'll stick to the classics. You're at a party, there's champagne, you're seen slipping out together..."
"The classics, right," Sophie said. "No problem."
"We've got it," Parker said with easy conviction.
"Hell, it'd work on me," Eliot threw in.
"I mean, Sophie's wearing that dress," Hardison added.
"Oh, thanks," came Sohpie's distracted response.
"Yeah," Nate said. "Yeah, and Parker's..."
"Parker," finished the two other men.
"I'd say thanks," Parker said, "except I don't know what that means."
"Shh," came from Sophie, and then there was no more talk from either woman.
Nate, though he would not have admitted it, strained to hear.
Eliot said, "Hardison, got the damn cameras yet?"
"Still working on it."
"And make sure you're recording."
"Hey," Nate protested half-heartedly. "Guys, wanna grow up?"
"Oh no," Sophie said under her breath, "you should definitely record it, it's going to be good."
There was an echoing silence in the van.
A long moment passed. Hardison tapped at his keyboard. Eliot drove. Nate tried not to fidget. From over the earpiece, he could hear something, he wasn't sure what but his imagination was more than willing to fill in the details.
Another moment, and then Parker laughed, and Sophie said, "Come on." A few seconds later she added, "Okay, we're on our way out, there's the stairs up to street level ahead."
"Yeah, we're almost there."
Eliot took a corner way too fast, then turned for a quick glare at Hardison. "Seriously, you missed it."
"Seriously, this is, you know, science? Not like just wishing hard enough or saying the magic words."
"Oh, seriously? Is that what it is?"
"Okay, let's move on," Nate interjected, rolling his eyes. It was like dealing with teenagers.
Then the van was screeching to a halt. Nate threw the sliding door open to find Sophie and Parker waiting. They quickly climbed in, finding seats in amongst the detritus of jobs past, as well as current. He looked the two of them over. Safe, yes, that was good. Also, they were both a little flushed, out of breath, and grinning.
"Well that was fun," Sophie said, smoothing her hair as Eliot pulled away from the curb.
"So," Nate said, "uh, it uh, it went okay?"
Sophie and Parker exchanged a look. "Fine," Parker shrugged.
"What -" he began. "Uh, how -" Well, so much for Eliot and Hardison being the juvenile ones. "Never mind."
Sophie just shrugged. "Well, you said to stick to the classics. And that's what we did."
"It was kind of awesome," Parker confided. "We got a little ahead of the guy, and waited for him around a corner. And when he got there, Sophie grabbed him and kneed him in the balls, and then I kicked him in the head. Then he fell down."
Sophie was nodding along with her. "Yeah, and when he didn't get up, we ran for it."
Nate stared at them. "Oh," he said.
"Oooooh," added Hardison.
"Oh man," grumbled Eliot from up the front.
"Why," Sophie said, her eyes wide and just a bit too innocent, "what did you think we were going to do?"