A/N I don’t have any psychotherapy experience except with my own therapist lol so sorry if you actually have a psych degree or know more than I do. Also if you have an idea for a title, please let me know.
Sophie was not looking forward to her new job. She was good
at identifying problems for individual people, one at a time. Group therapy was
not her forte, but she needed the job: college was particularly expensive.
“So we’ll start you with a nice mixed group.” The director
had given her a tour of the facility, which she appreciated. “I believe they’re
all in here.” He guided her to a small room where four people were sitting in
hard plastic chairs arranged in a circle. One was empty.
“Thank you so much for the tour,” Sophie thanked him.
“If you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.” The director
winked. Sophie smiled kindly, but when she turned around she rolled her eyes.
Adjusting her glasses, she took a breath and walked forward, taking her place
at the head of the circle.
“Hi, my name is Sophie, I’ll be your new group therapist. Why
don’t we all go around and introduce ourselves and why we’re here.” She
gestured towards the man to her left. He looked up and cocked an eyebrow. He
rolled his eyes and sighed.
“I’m here cause I have to be.” Sophie’s brow furrowed. Was
this how they were all going to be?
“She asked for your name, dumbass,” one of the other group
members contributed and he glared at them.
“Nathan Ford, functioning alcoholic.” He finally said,
leaning back in his chair. “Like I said, forced to be here.”
“Well if you’re an alcoholic, we can work that out-“ Sophie
began, but she was cut off.
emphasized, “Functioning alcoholic. I don’t need to be here.” The only woman in
the group let out a loud laugh, and all eyes turned to her. She pretended as if
“Thank you, Nathan – “
“Nate, for that, and you?” She addressed the younger black
man sitting next to Nate. His eyes hadn’t left the floor, save to stare at the
young blonde. His eyes didn’t leave the floor as he introduced himself.
“Alec Hardison,” the rest of his introduction was mumbled
and Sophie asked him to repeat himself. “Alec Hardison, anxiety.” Nate’s
“Son, you don’t have a committable problem.”
“Nathan.” Sophie’s voice was almost venom as she chastised Nate. “If he’s here,
he’s here for a reason, same as you.” Nate rolled his eyes again and crossed
his arms across his chest. Sophie’s attention turned to the young blonde, who
suddenly seemed like she didn’t want to be there anymore.
“Parkerkleptomaniac,” she said quickly, almost not even allowing Sophie to
process what she had said.
“One more time, darling, I didn’t catch that.”
“Parker.” Sophie nodded. “Kleptomaniac.” Sophie smiled.
“Nope.” There was a pause where Sophie wasn’t quite sure
what to do.
“Thank you, Parker.”
“Eliot Spencer, depression, PTSD.” The final man was stiff, his
back rigid against his seat. From his posture alone, Sophie could tell he was a
military man. Taking a breath, Sophie smiled once more.
“Thank you, Eliot, now, let’s go around and elaborate a
little more on why we’re here.” The blonde girl raised her hand. “Yes, Parker?”
“Well, it’ll give me more to go on. It can help me figure
out what I need to do to help you get better.” She nodded. Ok, Nate, why don’t
you start.” Another eye roll.
“I’m here because my wife divorced me and I lost my job.”
Sophie was startled by this confession. She thought it would have been harder
to pull something personal out of him.
“I’m sorry to hear that, what did you used to do for a
“Insurance. Can we move on?” He asked quickly. Sophie nodded
and looked expectantly at Alec Hardison.
“I don’t know, my Nana said that I needed to get better so I
could start leaving the house, I don’t know. Normal stuff, whatever.” His eyes
were practically glued to the floor.
“Do you not like going outside?” Sophie asked calmly.
“I don’t like people. They’re unpredictable. Code is
predictable. Code I can deal with. People, not so much.” Sophie nodded. He was
a tech kid, which was probably going to make his case a lot harder.
“Thank you, Alec,” she said, turning her attention to
“I don’t know, I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, its
just habit now.” Sophie nodded, understanding.
“I was in the war, two tours, girlfriend left, simple
stuff.” Sophie sighed. Alec and Eliot were definitely going to be the hardest
nuts to crack.
“You’re back!” The director seemed surprised, and extremely
happy to see her.
“It’s my job…?” She answered, letting her statement also be
“Yeah, well, see, I’ll tell you what, that group in there is
the hardest of the hard. No therapist has ever come back after being with one
of them, and the groups they were in didn’t like them, so we stuck them
together. Figured kill two birds with one stone, eh?” He smiled and winked,
elbowing Sophie. She smiled, purely out of professional courtesy.
“Are they in the same room?” She asked, quickly changing the
“Ah, yes, down here.” The director escorted her back to the
room. She smiled, and thanked him before entering the room again. They were in
the same order, as if someone had given them assigned seats.
“Based on yesterday’s experiences, I figure you guys aren’t
really the touchy-feely kind of people. So I’m not going to ask you to tell me
how you feel today. Instead, I think we’re going to do something a bit
different,” Sophie adjusted her notes, nervously. She had been up all night
trying to figure out what to do with this strange group of people. “Now instead
of doing normal group therapy things, we’re going to admit we have a problem.
That’s the first step in sobriety,” she ventured a glance at Nate before continuing,
“And while we’re not all addicts, mental illness can be detrimental in similar
ways.” She looked over at Nate.
“I don’t understand what you want me to do. I’m an
alcoholic. There. I mean it’s not really a problem, I was managing it, but
that’s what everyone considers my ‘problem’.” Sophie pursed her lips.
“That’s a good start. Alec?”
“I have anxiety. It’s a problem because my Nana said it was.
I don’t really know.”
This gave Sophie an idea. She scribbled it onto her notepad
and gave him a reassuring smile.
“Thank you, Alec. Parker?”
“I’m a klepto, I steal things. It’s a problem because most
people have a problem with stealing things.”
“PTSD, depression, it’s from the war, I know why I’m here.”
Sophie gave him a small smile.
“Ok, that was a really good start, everyone. Did anyone
notice what all of your explanations had in common?” Everyone, save Alec, began
to shift their eyes to meet each other’s. “No? Well let’s look at it this way.
Nate is here because of his wife left him so now he has a substance issue,
driven by depression; Alec is here because his Nana wants him to get over his
anxiety about meeting new people; Parker is here because other people think
stealing is wrong; and Eliot is here because he went to war.” There was silence.
“You all, while admitting your problems, brushed it off onto another person.
Your wife,” she pointed at Nate, “Your Nana,” she pointed at Alec, “Other
people,” she pointed at Parker. Eliot cocked an eyebrow.
“You are the only one here who blames yourself when you
“I don’t need your pity.” He was angry, as was the rest of
the group. They began to all talk at the same time before Sophie spoke over all
“I think I’ll leave you all here for today. Think about what
I said, I’ll be back tomorrow.”
Several weeks went by and Sophie was beginning to feel like
nothing she was doing was making any progress. She had begun to make her
sessions with the group more like conversations than like group therapy. She
learned Parker’s favorite color was green, Alec liked to invent things, Eliot
loved to cook, and Nate had a kid. He only mentioned it once, and it was more
like it slipped out accidentally. Sophie didn’t press it, but she knew,
eventually, she would have to. Today, they were talking about family.
“My parents died when I was 21, and I was an only child. It
was hard, but I managed.” Sophie began.
“My dad kicked me out after I joined the army, so I don’t
really have any family.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Sophie said. This was why they all individually
trusted her. She genuinely cared for their well-being. When she said she was
‘sorry to hear that’, Eliot knew she was telling the truth.
“I don’t have any family.” Parker said. “Not any real family
“Me neither.” Hardison said. He looked over at her. She had
been staring at the floor, and she looked over at him. “Foster kid?” She
nodded. He smiled at her.
“I had a wife, kid, not anymore.” Nate said after a minute.
“I’m sorry. What was
your kid’s name?”
There was a pause, and then Nate replied simply, “Sam.”
Sophie smiled. Progress.
This is the moment I truly fell in love with Sophie Devereaux. Her instinctive reaction to Parker (whom she hardly knew at this point) saying she was sick was to check on her, to offer a caring touch that Parker may not have felt in a very long time. I was surprised. I mean, femme fatales I know. Maternal figures, I know them, too. But a femme fatale with a motherly side? I sat up and took notice.
That’s how Leverage got me. It took all these tropes, shook them all up, added a pinch of this and that, and somehow gave us complex human beings we’d want to get to know and understand. So we got a femme fatale who mothers everyone, an emotionally intelligent tough guy, a charming and outgoing geek, a mastermind whose own life is out of control, and a childlike innocent who is perhaps the most dangerous member of the crew. And by the time the show’s over, not one of them has remained the exact same person we met in the first season–they’ve all changed and grown, as a family and as individuals, they’ve let their edges melt and overlap into each other while settling more comfortably into themselves. And we saw it happen.