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symptoms of peculiar regard

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Eliot had never had much trouble drawing an appreciative eye. He took good care of his body, he moved like he knew what to do with it, and he had awesome hair; he'd never be a Sophie Deveraux, but he'd mastered his share of grifter's skills to go with his hitter's repertoire.

The plan for infiltrating the WC Holdings headquarters had been deliberately designed to take advantage of that. The usurpers had set up as a girl's school with a mostly female, twenty-something staff of administrators; Eliot had let Sophie pick his clothes, then headed in with a story about a spoiled, newly orphaned niece in need of strict structure. Between money, hormones, and tragedy, he'd been supposed to be irresistible bait for your typical faux do-gooder.

If these ladies were typical anything, though, he would cheerfully eat the designer shoe pressed against his throat.

"I think maybe we got off on the wrong foot here," Eliot rasped, trying on his best charming smile.

Blondie raised a frosty eyebrow in reply. "Check him, Faith. Anyone trying to run a con on Slayer HQ has got to be too dumb to be human."

Whatever the hell that meant. Eliot had no idea how they'd even twigged to him; nothing about their behavior was matching up with the mid-life crisis meets fortune hunter theory Wyndham-Price had sold them.

"You got it, Bee," the brunette replied, stooping to grab hold of him.

Eliot tensed, waiting until Faith shifted her balance forward, then scissored his legs in an effort to drop her to the floor. He jerked his throat out from under Bee's heel before she could retaliate, lunging for the door-- but Faith recovered before he could make it that far, clamping his wrist in the steely vice of her fingers. She was unbelievably strong, and she wasn't alone-- Bee wasted no time tackling him back to the floor with all the force of a miniature Mack truck.

Eliot hoped Parker had already emptied the safe, 'cause he didn't want to even think what the students elsewhere in the building could do if these were their teachers.

"Had enough yet?" Faith asked, poison sweetness in her voice.

He panted into the carpet for a second, then bared his teeth in a fierce smile. "Just... gimme a minute to catch my breath, here."

Golden laughter was his only reply: and the way his heart was pounding, if circumstances had been different he'd have taken that as his cue to shift gears to another kind of hand-to-hand altogether. He no longer wondered at Wyndham-Price's nemesis, Dr. Giles, for following the blonde like moth to flame; maybe, if they ever figured out what was really going on, he'd come back and try this all again on purpose with her fiercer sister.

That would have to wait, though: it was time to get the fuck out of Dodge before the team did something stupid trying to rescue him.

Eliot tensed, then lunged upwards again, exploding into motion.