It’s Eliot who notices it first, a flash of blonde hair out of the corner of his eye. He’s used to noticing the people around him. He’s used to keeping count of every person in his eyeline, no matter how many people are in the room.
And this blonde woman should not be there. She should not be there when he has to force his way into a safe, but there she is. All in black, legs crossed on the desk beside him, ponytail swishing. “God.” She rolls her eyes. “A blowtorch. How crude.”
He glances over to her, but like a mirage, once he’s focused, she’s gone.
Two days later, Eliot’s about to deck a security guard when another woman shows up. Brunette hair and a lovely accent. “She’s gay,” the woman says. “Seduction won’t work no matter how hard you try, so you’ll have to find a different thing you both have in common.”
Eliot looks down and sees the tiny pin on her blouse. A pink ribbon.
“There you go,” the woman says. All he has to do is tell her a story about a sick little sister, and he has her eating out of the palm of his hand. Then the woman is gone.
And then he shifts. It’s a quick blink. One moment he’s in standing on a street corner, and then next he’s in a chokehold. Instinct kicks in. He throws back an elbow and it meets flesh. One hit, two hit, three hits later, and there are two bodies on the floor.
Eliot shifts. In the center of the circle, panting heavily, stands a tall black man. “What the hell–”
But then Eliot is gone again.
“It’s a sophisticated scheme,” the man with the bottle of Jack tells him. Eliot has already knocked two men two the ground, but there are more coming, and the fight isn’t over yet.
“You get someone’s credit information and start opening credit cards in their name. Then, you catfish some poor idiot and say you’re adding them to your credit card account. You get the idiot to buy you things for you on your card. Everything’s good until the credit card company gets wind of the fraud and shuts everything down, but by then you’ve cleaned everything up and moved on to greener pastures.”
“Dude,” Eliot growls, “I’m just here to get a necklace back.”
The man shrugs. “Was it insured?”
Eliot finishes slamming a goon’s head into the nearest table. “What does that matter?”
The man shrugs, and then he’s gone.
Parker doesn’t even really bat an eye. She kinda actually likes her new friends. Sure, the smelly guy with the weird hair is a bit odd, but he’s helpful in his own way. He can see the big pieces when she’s too distracted with the shiny things. He’s the one who figures out a fence is going to betray her long before she would have.
Then there’s the one who calls her “girl” all the time. He drags the word out too, like it’s prettier than one of the glittery diamonds she nicks. She likes him. She likes how he smiles at her, how he lingers in her presence a little longer even after he’s helped her figure out the code for a 15 digit lock.
The punchy guy, well, he took a little more time to warm up to. She’s not really a fan of fist fights. She’d rather hide. But when a security guard finds her and she can see the guy pulling his hair back into a ponytail, she smiles a little.
“Go for the eyes,” he tells her, holding up two bent fingers and pushing them forward in the air. She does, and it’s kind of satisfying.
“Oh dear,” the lady says to her every time she shows up. “No no no you mustn’t…” and then she goes on to tell Parker exactly how she’s not talking right. Parker kind of appreciates that. She’s not so great with the words thing. People are hard. Locks are easy.
Except these four people. They haven’t been hard. They’ve been like locks with easy combinations. Parker feels like she kind of knows them. Like the locks she picks again and again. She knows how all their inner workings are.
And that’s really nice.
Okay so the blonde is gorgeous. The blonde is gorgeous and the British lady is really good at talking her way out of problems. Hardison isn’t really sure what the point is with the dude who shows up to yammer on and on about cons and how Hardison might get himself caught if he does one thing or another. But even when he’s very clearly drunk, he’s still been helpful a few times.
So has the gun who is always hitting people. He’s gotten Hardison out of more than one scrape because Hardison has never done guns, will never do guns, and really really really doesn’t like being in the same room with people who want to hurt him.
And yeah, his knuckles really really hurt—his whole body hurts, actually— after the fighter helps him out of a few bad situations, but it’s better that than losing a pinkie. Or a toe.
So yeah, Hardison is okay with the people in his head.
Nate needs another fucking drink.
Sophie comes to see them all sort of like children. One is angry, one is hurting, one is lost, and one is alone. She’s the one who realizes they need to be brought together. She’s the one who realizes they are the solution to all of their problems. She is the one who sits beside a drunken Nate and helps him set out asprin and water for the morning. She is the one who sits quietly with a silent Parker as she picks lock after lock and studies countless blueprints.
She is the one who stands in an empty, threadbare apartment with Eliot when he cooks himself an extravagant dinner only he will eat.
She is the one who sees the late nights where Harrison binges on bad TV and orange soda.
She is the one who realizes that these people, whose pain she feels as if it is her own, all need each other.
Like she, when she’s tired of her fake names and her Rolodex of personalities, just needs them.
Living with her loneliness, her isolation, is like suffering under a terrible weight.
you’ve heard of losers club high school hcs, now get ready for
losers club shitty british secondary school hcs
oh boy here we go
- the losers club on a duke of edinburgh expedition. that is all - the uniforms. dear god the uniforms. richie and bev are constantly in detention for breaking the dress code and it’s how they became best friends. bev customised hers with badges and embroidery and rolls her skirt up way past the knees to defy sexist uniform codes. she’s always stopped in the hall by the pedantic deputy head who seems to be employed for the sole purpose of telling girls off for having short skirts. richie wears his tie way too short and always has his shirt untucked and his top two buttons undone. his blazer is also mysteriously at home 24/7 - stan and ben have this really intense, passive-aggressive war to become head boy. stan eventually gets the role and ben has to deal with being deputy - whenever someone does something stupid in lessons the whole classroom erupts with ‘waaaaayyyy!’ this is usually led by richie. - the school is in a really crappy part of town and at lunchtime the losers go to tesco to get food and sit in the park affectionately known as ‘druggy park’ - in year 8 they tried to fit eddie into a locker and that’s how he broke his arm -they all refer to each other as their surnames, and the teachers as their first names -richie once drew a dick on the board in his form room with permanent marker by accident so mike turned it into a tree -eddie’s always in the nurse’s office, to the point where they’re so close she sometimes gives him lifts to and from school - mike’s a really talented photographer and wins all the local competitions. his pieces are on display boards all over the school - in terms of clubs, richie runs the school radio and is into drama, bev runs textiles support sessions for the younger years with a few of her classmates and is also on the debate team with stan and ben, eddie is a peer mentor for students struggling with mental health issues and is also involved with art club, bill is on the rugby team as well as writing articles and short stories for the school newsletter, stan is friends with the headteacher bc he attends chess club which the headteacher runs and he also helps the younger years with maths, ben is a student library assistant and mike goes to gardening club. he’s really proud of the carrots they’re growing behind the science block. -stan and bill get the same bus. there was nowhere else for stan to sit on the first day of year 7 and that’s how he and bill became best friends - the school has wild parties in the name of charity. at one, richie got so drunk and gave eddie so many hickeys he had to be taken to the er by his mum as she thought he had a skin disease. it didn’t help that he was super hungover either so he looked like death warmed up. needless to say it’s ‘the story’ of the night and the talk of the whole school (including teachers- they join in with the students’ conversations about the parties in class) for like a month - they have a sleepover at mike’s and he unashamedly owns ‘angus, thongs and perfect snogging’. they all agree it’s a british classic -eddie went through a sherlock phase in year 10 that threatened to become a superwholock phase. it was a dark time for everyone. -the whole squad get a cheeky nando’s -richie and eddie make out in the common room and stan’s head boy office during frees. richie’s given eddie hickeys in there too. stan is disgusted when he finds out. there’s also a hidden path next to the train tracks that they go to if either of those places are occupied -bill is hailed as a god by the younger students. they say ‘yes then big bill’ and high five him when they walk past him - richie is known as the archbishop of banterbury throughout the school. what an icon - on the last day of sixth form they all hit the local ‘spoons and make the most of the 2 for £12 pitchers by buying like 10 -mike’s dark secret is that he was on an episode of ‘dick and dom in da bungalow’ once. he’s vowed to take it to the grave. richie broadcasts this to the whole school via the radio as soon as he finds out.
bonus round for things that actually happened during my experience in secondary school:
- there’s a weed scandal in like year 9. somehow a wildly untrue rumour about stan hiding weed in his locker is being spread round the school - beverly hides the clocks in her form room in the ceiling. her tutor buys a new clock. it goes in the ceiling. her tutor buys another clock. into the ceiling it goes. you get the idea. soon staplers and whiteboard pens start making their way up there - richie and eddie make a meme gallery. it’s taken down in time for open day but some of the teachers genuinely think it brightens up theirs and the students’ days - the losers are in the same teaching group in year 7. their pe class has to do chair dancing to hey big spender (it’s best not to ask) and it becomes a recurring joke for them throughout the years -richie had a house party where stan got drunk for the first time and ended up chundering in his sink the next morning