So I don’t really like high school AU’s that much, and I don’t think a Leverage
one would really work. Like at least with these guys, just high school isn’t enough to truly give them a chance to become
masters in their fields—they need to mature a bit.
Not to mention high school au vs college au there’d be so many more cons to do. These wouldn’t be children taking on
adults, without almost any training or experience. It’d be adults vs adults, albeit adults in training, kinda. Part of the possible
corruption in colleges are just how big
they are. Sure, you can have a high school with maybe 5,000 students, but that’d
be a small-midsized college. There are so many things to go wrong, just in
their own college. Administrative issues, club issues (who has more funding,
clubs trying to get approved but they keep getting blocked by someone on the
administration for a bs reason), tenure—most professors are older white men,
how could there not be issues—biased teachers,
bribed teachers who give certain student A’s, exclusive clubs, hell cheating, test score fraud (not just SAT’s,
there’s the tests you need to take for post-grad education), scholarship
competition. Hell, some asshole professors make it so there’s a pre-set number
of A’s in the class—do you know the kind of sabotage that could
Hell, we were given an episode about an exclusive fraternity abusing a psych
experiment, along with the episode about safety standards and cheerleaders.
Shit happens at college.
And if they’re in a city like Philadelphia or New York City, there could be dozens of universities around. There’s
not going to be a lack of people needing help.
Parker originally wasn’t supposed to be there, but the track coach once
timed her running and well. They promised her lots and lots of chocolate if she
actually went to school enough to be on the track team, so she got a
scholarship for college. She doesn’t really care that much, but she likes math
and the calculations she learns help her plan heists. The amount of times the
Physics department professors have had a discussion w Parker about ‘theoretical’
issues that she brings up and. Well. It’s Parker. She also has a minor in
Political Science bc she thinks it’s interesting (Listen. Remember how in the
Hockey episode she knew about Schilling’s Theory of Rational Deterrence during
the Cold War. I don’t make the rules Parker does.)
Also, by being on the track team she gets to travel around a lot, and it’s a readymade alibi as for
why she’s in that area. She doesn’t always
plan heists around the places she visits, and she goes plenty of times by
herself, but it’s pretty good cover.
Since she has a scholarship, they pay for her meal plan and her housing, along
w books. No, she never actually uses that
room bc hello, waaaaaaaay too obvious, but that’s the point. If everyone expects her to be one place, that would be the
first place they’d look for her, give her some time to get away—classic misdirection.
She has like 3 other apartments and
like 4 warehouses that no one knows about that she rotates through, both
sleeping AND keeping loot. But she takes the free meal plan, she doesn’t have
to actually pay for them so more money for her. Not to mention some of the
books have good ideas. I’m not saying she gets all A’s in her classes, but she
And really, who’d think a college
student is a world-renowned thief? ‘Academic’ is not exactly synonymous with
that kind of crime, especially a pretty, 21 year old blonde Physics major.
She’s also a (sporadic) part of the outdoors club. What can she say—they have
some pretty good climbing gear, and sometimes it can be hard to constantly get
rid of gear. Just a few things—the high tech stuff she gets herself, but the basic
things that aren’t easily traced to her? Yeah, it’s convenient. Plus if she’s
ever caught, asking why do you have
climbing gear becomes a whole lot easier to answer. Also good practice.
Nate is an Art History undergrad, Philosophy grad student who’s the team’s TA.
He and Maggie were high school sweethearts, got married their junior year,
Maggie had their son a few months after graduation. Nate’s now a grad student.
He worked for IYS two years after graduation, interned for them every year
during summers in between school and was well on his way to being their star
investigator when his 3 year old son died, and they wouldn’t pay for his
He and Maggie later got divorced, and he’s back at school. They give him a stipend for school, and he doesn’t
have to pay for tuition. And well. A constantly drunk Philosophy student is
almost expected—he doesn’t really get
in trouble with his job.
Aaaaand Hardison. Now, Hardison’s a bit more unexpected. You’d think he’d be Computer Science, but
Hardison would run rings around any
comp sci professor he’d have—he was only 21, tops, when the series started.
Like there is not really that much of a difference between Hardison in the
first season and this one in regards to computer ability. He’s a sophomore, and about 19-20.
But this is Hardison. Hardison, who isn’t just a wiz with computers—anything
he touches, he can do. “I’ve hacked history” he (correctly) proclaims after
figuring out a way to duplicate a 17th century journal in just 24
hours. And then there’s the time Sophie was explaining the history of a piece
of art when Nate interjects, saying they already knew all of that, when Hardison
interrupts, saying he doesn’t know that much before the 1980’s. Hardison’s a
damn sponge when it comes to learning.
The dude literally became a lawyer in one day.
So, he’s not going to be a computer science major. He wouldn’t actually learn anything from that, there’s literally 0 point. He has so many minors–an art and design minor,
a music minor, and a chem minor. He’s also part of band (hello, Hardison the violin prodigy). So, he’s a mechanical
engineering major—a computer, he can buy himself, but a bunch of the gadgets
and gizmos he can’t get himself—or at least not easily—he can get for free at the
university. Not to mention access to state of the art labs.
He mostly does it at first for his Nana, and then he finds out he genuinely
loves learning. And he has a scholarship, and the cafeteria has orange soda, so
everything’s all good.
And remember how excited Hardison got in the cooking episode, when he got to
fire a laser? Yeah, he gets excited for
all the gadgets he has access to.
But he still isn’t on the straight and narrow at all. He’s a hacker, first and foremost.
And Eliot. Oh Eliot. He’s a bit older, maybe enlisted at 17 (he kinda
sorta lied), and now 22 and going to college on the GI Bill (I think that’s
right). Eliot is almost more of a Jack-of-all-trades than Hardison, and it’s
much more unexpected. Like in the episode they made a guy think aliens are
real, he had a discussion with Hardison up Fermi’s paradox in regards to other
life forms, and Eliot brings up Drake’s equation saying that with a hundred
billion stars in our galaxy there’s up to 10,000 technological civilizations “you
never know when you have to fight an alien.” Eliot is smart, both street smarts AND book smart and just knows a bunch
about every topic. So, he double majors in Liberal Arts and minors in
After going through his first semester and joining the cooking club, he also adds
Culinary Science to his major.
Eliot isn’t a D1 or D3 athlete, but he does a lot of intramural and club sports. From judo to archery to badminton
to table tennis, he does it all.
As for Sophie, she’s a Psych grad student, Art History/Linguistics undergrad.
Yes, you’d think she’d be a Theater major, but that’s way too obvious. A grifter,
who’s a Drama major? Too obvious. Yeah, the reason why Sophie never gets caught
is because she never gets audition—she’s a horrible
actress when people are looking. You don’t really think “great liar.” I do
think she genuinely tries, but it’s also another misdirection.
So much of what Sophie does is an understanding of people, how they tick,
their behavior, why they do what they do. She went to a different university
for undergrad, and she’s mid 20’s—and ofc, both undergrad and grad school are
using an alias. But what Sophie does is mostly enacting her interpretation of
human nature. God, Sophie could come up with another approach to psychology
with how much she knows, could go down in the textbooks if she wanted.
As for what she’s been doing in between, well, she has a very good cover story for that. But she
needs to lie low for a little bit, and fleshing out more of an alias can always
help. She developed that Charlotte Prentice alias for 7 years, it’s not out of
the realm of possibility she’d do this, especially if she needs to lay low. It’s
her first year at this school, and she’s not really that invested but like
Parker, it can be a good cover.
She’s met Nate before, same as in the series—he’s chased after her.
Although, now that he’s not working at IYS, he doesn’t really care—it’s a big
school, they don’t really interact.
And just because they’re now at a university doesn’t mean the first episode
would go any differently, at least at first. Or, maybe there’s a faraway
professor, named Victor Dubenich, who yes, assembles the team, but doesn’t actually realize Hardison, Eliot, and Parker go to the
same university as Nate—he’s much more public than the others. And maybe they don’t realize they all go to the
same college, at first. Like they realize that they all live near each other,
but the same college?
Because one of the advantages to being that young is that sure, you have fewer contacts and fewer scores and assets but you also have less of a record, less of a trail, fewer chances for people to find out the details of who you are.
But yes, things can get competitive
in academia, especially when those plans could be sold for millions of dollars.
Except, it turns out it wasn’t even from another professor. It was from a
(sleep deprived) grad student.
They still take him down, and makes a seriously ridiculous amount of money.
And they all enjoy it more than they thought, like what they’re doing. They start
to go their own ways—except not really.
And then they walk into their Intro to Philosophy class, the one that the
school requires every major to take,
even Sophie, and guess who’s the TA but Nate Ford?
As we all know, every member of the Leverage OT3 has horrible nightmares from time to time. Hardison likes being cuddled afterwards while Eliot and Parker would rather, like, sit in silence and enjoy the comfort of the other’s presence. Most of the time. Only one night Eliot wakes up confused and scared and grabs at the nearest safe warm thing he can find, which happens to be Hardison. And he just cries quietly into Hardison’s chest for a minute and Hardison has this “what the fuck is happening” look on his face, but he just goes with it. (Parker is not sure what is happening either so she just starts petting his hair or something). And then Eliot realizes what he’s doing and pulls back and is just like “We do not speak of this again, this does not leave this room” and tries to go back to sleep.
Part of the reason Eliot wants to pretend it never happened is because of the whole Eliot Thing where Eliot can never admit that he has had an emotion, and also because he doesn’t want to Burden His Innocent Partners with his Inner Darkness. However, part of the reason is also that Eliot does not want to encourage Hardison, because…
…Hardison is such a sleep-cuddler. Like, every three mornings or so Eliot wakes everyone up with a “damn it, Hardison”, because Hardison is hardcore snuggling him, like, with his face pressed into Eliot’s neck and everything. This annoys Eliot so much, because he likes to get up early and cook breakfast for everyone before they wake up, but he can’t do that if he has to yell at his boyfriend and wake everyone up.
It also annoys Eliot because he is worried that if he allows Hardison to sleep-cuddle him, sooner or later, he will get the urge to sleep-cuddle him back. Which is unacceptable, partly for Eliot Feelings reasons, but also partly because he is worried that he will involuntarily injure Hardison in his sleep, and Eliot, careful and considerate baby wooly mammoth that he is, cannot allow that to happen.
Hardison does not have this problem with Parker because Parker will not stay still long enough to be cuddled. Parker is constantly moving around in her sleep and ends up in a new weird position every morning. It is not unusual for Eliot and Hardison to wake up with Parker’s feet in their faces and at this point they just shrug and accept it.
Also, Parker snores. Look, I’m only on season 2, I don’t know if this (or anything I’m writing), is contradicted by canon somehow, but. Parker snores. She’s this suave expert cat burglar thief and she fucking snores. And of course she had no idea until Eliot and Hardison told her.
Basically Parker is the most annoying person in the world to sleep in the same bed with and she absolutely revels in it. And once a week Eliot is like, “smh Parker if you do that one more time you are sleeping on the goddamn couch” but everyone knows he doesn’t mean it.
a hacker who is probably the most emotionally mature of the group. a black man who is undeniably a genius. a geek who gets the girl not because of some weird entitlement thing or because he changed, but because he’s compassionate and patient and lets her enter into things at her own pace. a child from the foster system who grew up kind and with a stable home (once he got to his nana of course). a nerd who is exceedingly charming
OH GOD THEN THE PANIC WHEN ONE OF THEM GOES ‘SILENT’
s c r e a m i n g
Like, they’d learn pretty damn quickly what it feels like in their heads when Eliot has a concussion, what it feels like when he’s been knocked out and they need to go rescue him (which, okay, has happened, like, once, in the entire time they’ve been connected, but still.) It was terrifying at first, because lbr concussions do not feel great, and being knocked out is like a concussion combined with a bad trip for Eliot.
But they’ve never felt the complete and utter panic they felt when Eliot is just… gone. They’re both stuck on the same thing, obvs. That Eliot is dead, that they had failed at protecting him, that if the telepathy couldn’t tell them when he needed them then what fucking good was it?
And like. They race to the last place they knew Eliot was, because fuck. Fuck. They can at least- They can’t give him a proper burial, but they can… do something. Except he’s not there.
Hardison has never been so glad for sticking a tracker in everyone’s shoes than he is right then.
So they find him, fight their way through a bunch of Bad Guys, because it’s for Eliot, so obvs they are desperate and ruthless enough to just. Cut a path through them, figuratively.
And they’re finally at the room his body’s in, and they both pause outside the door because neither of them knows if they can do this. They’ve been holding the panic at bay by like. Concentrating on getting to him. But now that they’re almost there… Parker looks like she’s about to cry, and Hardison is kinda shaky. And finally, they’re like, we have to go in and they force themselves to open the door.
Eliot is strapped down to a chair, and drugged to the gills, but very, very obviously alive. Just… not conscious.
And, idk, they beat up the scientist after making sure it’ll wear off. And when Eliot comes to back home, there is a lot of, like. Clingyness and residual panic because now they know what it’s gonna feel like, when Eliot finally is killed. How there’s gonna be just an empty spot in the back of their brains, a dead spot that they can feel all the time.
That night, while Eliot’s sleeping and Parker and Hardison are both too keyed up to actually sleep, they make a pact, that no matter what, Eliot’s not gonna die without them. They change together, they die together. Full stop. Because living with that empty space… it’s literally unbearable. And stuff.
OTHER THINGS I HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT: How this would affect – and how they would be affected by – Eliot’s PTSD. (Like, we can agree that the flashbacks in s1 aren’t actually funny, right? Because like, yeah, he’s learned to shake them off p quickly, but they’re still- Like, you know?)
“Not it!” Parker interrupted, holding up her hand.
“I hadn’t said three yet,” Eliot snarled.
“When has playing by the rules ever gotten any of us anywhere?” she countered with a smirk.
“Well, there was that one time,” said Hardison, ticking off a mystery point on one finger, “oh, and that other,” two fingers, “and that one - oh yeah, we played by the rules so good that time, and–”
“Not helping,” said Eliot through gritted teeth, heaving a sigh. “Look, Parker, we’ve been over this. Hardison and I can’t play the couple, it’ll draw too much attention.”
“Why? Gay marriage is really common now!”
“Hey, not gay!” Hardison protested.
“Great, and now he’s not gay.” Eliot rolled his eyes. “Why don’t you two get hitched, then, ‘not gay’ and ‘not it’ are made for each other.”
“I am not gay,” Hardison repeated emphatically. Parker rose from her chair, slipped behind him, and pantomimed his movements and speech pattern. “I am pansexual and queer and when you disrespect my identity you disrespect me and dammit where did Parker go, she’s standing behind me, isn’t she? Yeah - of course she is. Look, it’s easy - I need to handle the security system, so you two go get hitched, and let me work. Ya’ll hurt a guys feelings, arguing about which of you want to be married to me less, I get it, okay? Just a…” He trailed off, mumbling, poking at his phone.
“Fine,” said Eliot, throwing up his hands. “Parker, let’s go check the jewelry stash for matching rings that fit. We’ve wasted enough time on this argument.”
“Wait, which of you am I married to?” asked Parker.
“Neither!” Hardison and Eliot said simultaneously.
Parker pouted until they pulled out the casket where the jewelry was kept. Nothing cheered her up like more gold and gems and platinum and jade than she could hold in her cupped hands. Seeing her smile, Eliot’s sour mood eased. They were both idiots, so much younger and less experienced than he, so determined that this threesome when work when it had been the two of them originally and would be the two of them long after Eliot finally did something stupid enough to get himself killed. But until then, he could indulge them, he supposed.
The hardest part was to get Parker to stop picking out pretties and stashing them in her pockets.
Hours later, Eliot had to amend that thought. The hardest part hadn’t been getting a ring on his finger. The hardest part hadn’t been trying to play two different men simultaneously, one married to Parker, the other married to Hardison. The hardest part hadn’t been when he got caught mid-change and the job went to hell. The hardest part hadn’t even been taking a few hits so Parker could make a clean escape.
No, this was definitely the hardest part.
“Are you insane?” said Eliot.
“Hey, hey, we do not use the ‘i’ word–”
“That really hurt my feelings, Eliot.”
“–we know it hurts Parker’s feelings, come on, baby, Eliot didn’t mean it, he’s just surprised.”
“I meant you, Hardison! If you guys want to make this real by all means, go for it! No one is holding you back!” Can we please just stop talking about this? I want it too much for any of this to be okay with me.
“No! Nate and Sophie, they taught me to be honest about my feelings, and this is me, being honest! I’m marrying both of you.”
“You can’t do that, Parker!”
“Why not?” she asked with actual confusion. Eliot raked a frustrated hand down his face.
“Hardison, for the love of…talk sense in to her!” he said.
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll do that, right after I…” Hardison stopped typing with a flourish. “Alright, boys and girls…uh…boy and girl, we are good to go.”
“Thank friggen God, I can’t wait to put this whole shitshow of a job behind us and–”
Hardison flicked over his phone and an image appeared on their projector - an engagement announcement for Parker, obviously in her Alice White alias, to one of Hardison in that damned Ice Man bullshit outfit he’d pulled.
Eliot had never been interrupted by a silent cocky grin before, but there was no answering that look on Hardison’s face. Hardison flicked over his phone again and another announcement turned up - Parker and Eliot, as themselves - and another flick interrupted Eliot’s next strangled attempt at an interjection, Hardison and IT guy Eliot.
That had been a good look for him…the glasses…Parker loved him in the glasses. With a sigh, Eliot deflated.
“Really?” he asked. Though his tone was resigned, there was a warm glow in his chest. He couldn’t deny that he wanted this. But it was a terrible idea.
“Really,” said Hardison and Parker, staring at him hard.
“Unless you’re going to keep being a little bitch about it,” Hardison added.
“Hey, you love it when I’m a little bitch,” Eliot said pointedly.
“Yep, we both do,” said Parker with a gentle smile. Eliot sighed again. God, no matter how hard he tried to do the right thing - the wrong thing? whatever - these two always twisted him around so damn easy and the worst part was…
“Fine,” he conceded.
“Yes!” Parker gave an adorable jump, punching a fist in the air, and Hardison smirked like his damn mouth had gotten stuck like that.
…the worst part was he absolutely loved them for this kind of bullshit.
Hardison is Jewish. This makes Eliot’s life harder than it should be.
Hardison looked up from his computers when a plate landed on the table next to him. Eliot was standing over him and his arms were already crossed.
“It’s been two days. I don’t know how much you’ve slept, but I know you haven’t eaten.”
Hardison glanced at the plate and had to control his initial reaction, because it was one of Eliot’s special sandwiches - the kind he normally only made for himself - and it was nice to know how much he cared.
“Can’t, man. It’s Passover.”
Eliot blinked a few times. "You’re not Jewish.“
"I am,” Hardison confirmed with a nod.
“No, you’re not.”
Hardison threw himself back in his chair. "Man, I am so Jewish. I read the Torah, dance the hora, and I don’t eat bread during Passover. Thanks for the thought.“ Eliot was still glaring as if he thought Hardison was pulling a con. "Look, do you want to hear my haftorah? I spent so much time learning the damn thing I think I’ll know it forever.” But Nana had been so proud of him being bar mitzvahed he didn’t think he really minded.
Eliot grabbed the sandwich and stormed out of the base, muttering something under his breath that Hardison couldn’t quite make out. Having been distracted reminded him that Eliot was right and he’d been working two days straight after taking two off to go home to Nana for the Seders. He stretched, used the bathroom, and grabbed an orange soda. When he got back to his station, he saw that there was a lot of activity on the Internet of Eliot’s phone. He filed that in the back of his mind as unusual, then dove back into his research.
It seemed like moments later, although his computer’s clock told him it was nearly an hour and a half, when another plate crashed down next to him.
There was turkey on it, thin sliced and folded just so. Mashed potatoes steamed gently, the hole in the center spilling clear gravy (no flour) onto the turkey. The stuffing was filled with vegetables and had enough identifiable pieces of matzah to be sure of. The plate even had a steaming roll - the same kind Nana always made out of matzah meal - cut open and buttered on one side.
Hardison gaped up at Eliot, who had his arms crossed and was studiously avoiding looking at him. "It’s all new dishes, too, so you have no excuse. Eat!“
It was lucky that there was a table in between them, because thought he might have hugged Eliot to death otherwise. No one had ever put up with his occasional quirks of Jewishness before. But Eliot - he must have been looking up what it was all about and making a whole new meal just for him! He shifted his chair to the side so he wouldn’t get anything on the computers and made every appreciative noise he knew as he ate the food.
Eliot’s face flushed more and more as Hardison ate and he grabbed the plate and left before he could verbally thank him. Hardison watched him go, then turned back to his computers. Before returning to work, he searched for the best living weapon smith to make a custom order.
Nate and Sophie were out on a date, so Eliot, Hardison, and
Parker were just hanging out around the restaurant. Hardison was working making
the coms better; Parker was scaling the ceiling – again. Eliot was fixing dinner.
Left picture by Torkil Gudnason, 2001. Right side by Ruven Afanador, 2000.
When Iman first got to America in 1975, the media tried to insinuate a “fight” between her and the “other” black supermodel at the time, Bethann Hardison. Hardison had been the first black woman to get on the cover of Vogue. But instead of fighting for the one place the media was willing to give to black models, Iman and Bethann united forces to fight for more representation - and eventually became close friends, with Bethann being Iman’s maid of honor at her wedding in 1992.