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team grifter

Team: Grifter
Title: Thieves

Rating: PG
Wordcount: 1400ish
Pairing: Ensemble
Time: Ancient civilizations
Summary: Performers and thieves have more in common than one would think.
Notes: The Leverage crew visiting Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.




The roads were packed all around the town of Capua. The festival celebrating the opening of the new arena drew thousands – senators and merchants, soldiers and free men and slaves by the hundreds and scores of entertainers looking to make their fortune.

"Nate, I told you we should have left earlier. We can't rush the set up. You know what happens when we rush the setup."

Nate waved Hardison off. His young apprentice was forever complaining about something. Youthful exuberance was exhausting when it wasn't your youth being exuberant. Nate finished his wine before answering.

"Hardison, we left in plenty of time and the set up would be finished now if you would help Eliot instead of complaining."

At that, Hardison headed over to where Eliot was staking out a space for their performance area. The festival should bring them a decent amount of coin. Nate didn't like relying on should though which was why Sophie and Parker were out looking for marks. Wealthy citizens with more coin and jewels then they knew what to do with. He and his little troop were more than happy to help them keep it at manageable levels.

With that in mind, he left the site intending to meet up with Parker and Sophie and if he managed to encounter a wine merchant along the way, well, a man in his position was expected to be hospitable. And Nate was a very hospitable man.

******

Hardison and Eliot finished setting up their performance area, mostly in silence, at least on Eliot's part. Hardison, however, kept up a running commentary on Nate's faults, the heat, the crowd, the location. He only stopped when one of the lanistas, a small, ferret-faced little man with close cut curls, passed through with a string of gladiators trailing after.

Eliot barely paused in his work to acknowledge the spectacle, though one of the gladiators reminded him of his friend Quinn. It couldn't be Quinn, but for a minute he let himself think maybe it could be. Hardison was mesmerized though. Like most of the rest of the world, Hardison was fascinated with the fighters.

"What was it like? Fighting in the arena? Do you ever miss it?"

"Dammit, Hardison! You know I don't talk about the past."

"But you were good at it. You won your freedom. There are not many fighters who can do that."

"That's right. Most of them die on the sands if the gods decide to favor them and in the mines or the Pit if they don't. You don't know what's like and thank the gods you never will."

"Apologies, my friend. I meant no offense."

"None taken, but you occasionally might want to spend more time thinking than talking."

"How long before Nate returns?"

But Eliot had caught the eye of one of the house slaves attending the magistrate's wife. Young and pretty with dark, sleepy eyes, she would make an excellent distraction if he could manage to spirit her away from her mistress for a time. Maybe she could provide a way into the magistrate's house after dark if that was decided.

"Eliot!"

He smiled at the girl, making it as friendly as he could, but with a hint of danger. Good girls always went for bad boys.

"Depends. If he's out looking for Sophie and Parker, it could take a while, but not as long as it would if he runs into a wine merchant. In that case, the girls would probably be back first."

"And if he goes looking for a wine merchant?"

"Pray the gods he hasn't. He won't let anything interfere with the job, but there can be a lot of leeway between what Nate considers interference and what Sophie considers interference."

*****

"Parker, but that back. You can't just take things."

"But that's what we do. We're thieves. Thieves take things." Parker did put the bracelet back. The tall, red haired woman had never even noticed it was missing.

"Lower your voice." Sophie truly despaired of ever getting Parker to behave like everyone else. "We don't want to get caught. Especially not now."

Sophie paused and smiled brightly.

"The boys are graciously letting me do the monologues from Antigone. Though one of them will have to drag me off to the cave to be buried alive. It should be Eliot. He's far scarier than Hardison. Though Hardison does have his height going for him. Parker!"

Parker's hand dropped to her side. She hadn't intended to reach for the earring the man was wearing, but it was just so big and shiny. It wasn't a pure gold. Parker could tell that even as far away as she was, but it would still bring a good supply of coin if sold to the right buyer.

The man with the earring turned toward them, the sharpness of Sophie's cry catching his attention. He looked at both ladies with appreciation.

"Welcome to Capua. Are you here for the opening of the arena?"

"Indeed we are. I am Sophie and this is my sister, Parker. We are performers with the Leverage Group. Our last performance was in Naples." Sophie knew she was talking too much, but she couldn't help it. Parker had gotten them too close to being caught.

"Performers! How delightful! Will you be staying on in Capua after the festival?"

"We have a pressing engagement in Rome, but who could resist the opening of a new arena," said Nate smoothly, appearing as if out of nowhere and sliding his arm around Sophie's waist. "I've been looking for you. Eliot and Hardison have finished the set up. We have performances to give."

"We never passed the wine merchant," said Sophie, taking in the slave boy following Nate with two jugs of wine.

"Sure we did. You made this strange noise when you saw it."

Sophie would gladly have shaken Parker's eyes out of her head just then, but earring man intervened.

"My name is Solonius, by the way, just an humble lanista. My friend Batiatus and his wife, Lucretia, were looking for entertainers to perform at their ludus after the opening. Shall I pass your names along?"

"Gratitude, that is most kind of you, but I fear we will not be staying past the arena opening. Rome waits for no man."

"As I well know. I look forward to seeing your performances. May your time in Capua be bountiful."

"You will be most entertained. I promise." Sophie gave him her most winning smile as he departed.

"Really? Him?"

"At least he knows how to treat a lady."

"How much do you think we can get for that earring?"

*****

The performances had gone well, or as well as could be expected in Sophie's case, though Parker's acrobatics more than made up for Sophie's acting. That Solonius fellow managed to appear at every performance. He didn't even grimace as much as the rest of the audience during Sophie's monologues. Nate knew who his choice for the mark would be.

"That little rat faced lanista has plenty of coin and many jewels for that wife of his. He'd be perfect."

"I talked to one of his gladiators. They live a good distance outside the main city on a cliff with two dozen gladiators living under the main house," said Eliot.

"In other words, very bad idea," added Hardison.

"What about earring guy? Sophie could distract him while we clean him out."

"Parker, what is it with you and that earring?"

"It's big. Really big."

Everyone nodded. It wasn't bad as reasons go.

"To continue," said Hardison, "what about the magistrate? You know he'll have plenty of coin and the best jewels."

"And guards."

"We can get around guards."

"Why, when we don't have to? There are plenty others with coin and jewels to spare."

"Eliot's right. There's no reason to make this more difficult than it has to be. Eliot, what about Solonius?"

"Who?"

"Earring guy."

"Oh. As close to perfect as we could hope for. Slaves, but no real guards. He is successful, but doesn't draw a lot of attention to himself. Doubt there will be many jewels, but there should be plenty of coin to make up for that."

"So, we're decided. We take Solonius down tonight."

"No, we are not!"

"Yes, we are Sophie. Parker, Eliot and I are in agreement. Hardison doesn't care, do you?"

"Leave me out of it. I just want to get some coin and get gone."

"Four to one. Sounds like a decision to me."

"Fine, but make it quick. We're leaving early in the morning and I need my beauty sleep."