Leverage College AU
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 happen?
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 passes.
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 treatment.
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 kinesthesiology. 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?