Series: Jukebox Musical
Pairings: pre Nate/Sophie
Warnings: Minor angst
Word Count: 1406
Disclaimer: If I owned it, it would be nothing but introspection.
Summary: Sophie is running the longest con of all.
Sometimes Sophie doesn’t know why she stays.
It’s not as though Nate makes it easy to care about him when he’s arrogant and alcoholic and far more interested in his own pain than finding happiness. He takes her for granted constantly, insults her ideas and ignores her input until he needs her to run a con for him. Although, honestly Nate does that to everyone – he runs the team as a one-man band instead of a democracy – and this habit becomes annoying fast.
Nate might be their mastermind but Sophie has been grifting far longer than he's been planning cons and she doesn’t need a former insurance agent telling her how to play a part. Every member of their team is a master in their own skill set and it would be nice if Nate would actually acknowledge their role in his success sometimes.
Yet despite these flaws, Nate is also one of the most intriguing men that she’s ever met. He’s intelligent and calculating, he trusts her as much as he trusts anyone, and he thinks that her acting is fabulous. It’s not even a lie when he says it – she’s a grifter, she knows these things – but Nate honestly enjoys her performances, even that awful one in Birmingham that the entire city roundly panned. He thinks she’s brilliant but he doesn’t listen and Sophie doesn’t always know which one matters more to her.
So she thinks about leaving even though the rest of her teammates are quickly becoming friends as well as colleagues, long experience telling the grifter that nothing good ever lasts. Not when it relies on other people instead of gold or art or cold hard cash.
That’s why she always leaves herself a way out; why she jumps on the chance to have both Davids in her possession when the moment comes. Because this will turn Sophie Devereaux from a legend into a goddess amongst grifters and ensure that her name becomes part of history. She doesn’t even feel particularly guilty about the deception since her plan is also meant to give Nate the revenge that he so craves.
Maybe once Blackpoole has been ruined, Nate will finally be able to look toward the future instead of the past and she’s always thought there could be something special here. Sophie has thought that ever since Nate managed to corner her in Paris before she shot him, the two of them dancing around each other after that for years.
But even though their team has been working together for months now, sometimes she feels farther away from Nate than ever and it certainly doesn’t help when his ex-wife arrives. Nate obviously still cares about Maggie and Sophie has never been in the practice of adultery when real hearts are on the line. She’ll play along for a con, but anyone who wants to love her had best be willing to pay her court properly since Sophie Devereaux is never second best.
Perhaps that’s why she does leave eventually, long after their team has lost and won and found each other one more time. Because she wants Nate to love her and admit it; she wants them to grow old together and if that’s going to happen, she needs to be real.
She needs to know who Sophie Devereaux actually is, or rather, who she wants to be when all the masks are gone. To tell the truth, she hasn't recognized herself in the mirror for a long time, not since she began the role that chased her from the land where she was born. She lost herself in that part more deeply than any other – except perhaps for Sophie Devereaux.
So she leaves and Nate stubbornly refuses to admit that he misses her at all. Instead he calls on a hundred different pretexts, asking her advice on how to manage their teammates and even the cons as well.
It's a small concession but not the one that Sophie wanted and she isn't going to return home until she knows whether there's something for her there. Though the fact that she's thinking of the Leverage bar as home means that Sophie will be going back soon enough. It's inevitable but she doesn't want to admit it either, even if she can't hold back a smile every time her phone rings.
Sophie is traveling across the world to find herself, but her thoughts are back in Boston with her family. They are her family: Parker and Hardison the younger siblings that she has always wanted and Eliot the elder brother who guards them all. They're her family and she misses them dearly while she's gone.
Phone calls are hardly the same; though Eliot's endless frustration with the others always serves to make her laugh. But no matter how often her teammates call her, how often Nate calls her, Sophie never hears the words that she's been waiting for. So eventually she stops waiting because she's always preferred to act instead. Sophie Devereaux does not stand around waiting for her prince to come and neither does Lara Cavendish; she goes out and kidnaps him instead.
Perhaps it doesn't matter how many masks she's wearing as long as she knows what will make her happy. And Sophie does know what will make her happy: running cons and socializing Parker, eating Eliot's latest gourmet creation, and listening to Hardison chatter on.
She's happiest when helping Nate cheat some poor sap out of his life's treasures, their team taking vengeance for wrongs done. She's happiest when sweeping in to save the day after their mastermind lets things get out of hand and so that's exactly what she does. Because of course Nate has managed to lead the team into trouble while she was gone; Tara's practical sensibility not enough to rein him in.
The situation is bad enough that Nate actually calls Sophie to apologize, not that she can hear more than a few scattered words over the roar of her helicopter. But she understands his meaning by the tone and the cadence and that is all she needs.
So Sophie returns to Boston to sweep in and save the day again and the delight on Nate's face when he sees her proves that her choice was right. However, despite the grifter's careful planning, the rescue didn't occur quite as she'd planned. Sterling has a way of ruining things with his smug smiles and his lackeys and Sophie panics slightly when Nate starts bleeding on everything.
Yet that panic quickly turns into a sort of pride when he turns Sterling's triumph into something else entirely. Because Nathan Ford declares himself a thief before bargaining for the freedom of his teammates and Sophie cannot wait to see the sort of man he will become. She wants to see what Nate can do now that he's no longer fighting his own nature, his brilliance shining like the polished jewel that it should be.
Only that will have to wait until the team manages to break Nate out of prison since they cannot hope to stand against the FBI right now. They have to leave him even though Sophie hates every minute of it, only the knowledge that Sterling won't let him die allowing her to walk away. The man may be a bastard but letting Nate bleed out would rob him of his satisfaction and that he'd never give away.
But Sophie still watches Nate as long as she can after Eliot pulls her to the helicopter and the rotors start. Only once she cannot see Nate any longer does she turn to the rest of her teammates, opening her arms just in time to catch Parker and Hardison's enthusiastic hugs.
They're all so glad to see her, even Eliot unbending enough to smile over Hardison's shoulder as he clasps her on the arm. And in turn she's missed them, missed them enough to tell them what she discovered about her past and herself. Sophie tells the team her real name as proof that's she's staying, though she also makes all of them promise to keep it to themselves.
Because Sophie knows how she feels about Nate and she knows how much he appreciates a challenge and thus the man will have to earn the right. He's a thief now and she's a grifter and this is going to be the longest con of all.