It’s Amanita who finds them, through word of mouth more than anything else, because when you help people they talk about it, and if you know someone who knows someone who knows someone, you can hear about a lot. So Amanita hears about them, and it’s her idea to ask them for help.
Nomi disagrees, at first. She says they can’t involve any more people in the cluster’s problems, can’t put more people in danger. But she thinks of Will, nearly always unconscious, and Riley, always looking over her shoulder trying to take care of him. She thinks of Whispers and BPO and she reaches out to the rest of her, asking, searching for advice.
“It’s a risk,” Wolfgang says.
“But I think it’s one worth taking.” Lito continues.
“Just be careful.” Kala wraps Nomi in a hug, and Nomi takes a deep breath.
“Okay.” She nods to Amanita. “Where are they?”
It’s Capheus who does most of the driving, up to Portland. It’s Nomi who stands in front of a normal-looking brewpub, her hand intertwined with her girlfriend’s, letting Amanita comfort her. She’s shaking, almost imperceptibly, thoughts of what if they won’t help running through her head. Amanita leads her inside, and Nomi doesn’t stop her. Then she catches the eye of the man behind the bar, (Eliot Spencer, former killer for hire, their research revealed) and Nomi’s free hand opens, waiting for someone else to squeeze her fingers in reassurance. Riley does, a smile softening her tired face.
It’s Nomi who approaches the bar, but it’s Sun who squares her shoulders and stares Spencer down. He seems wary, unnerved by the way the demeanor of the woman in front of him has changed so thoroughly, so abruptly.
“Can I help you ladies?” He asks, eyes flicking between Sun and Amanita, and his smile doesn’t reach his eyes.
“We’ll think about it.” Nate Ford says, (after a job offer and an explanation and a long period of silence,) but his tone makes it clear that they won’t.
“You don’t believe us.” Nomi replies. She didn’t really expect him to.
“To be honest, I don’t know.” He admits, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms. “You definitely seem to believe what you’re saying, but it’s--”
“Crazy.” Amanita finishes, nodding, and Nate gives a little ‘well, yeah’ kind of shrug. “I know how it sounds, trust me. But I can promise you that it’s all real.”
"Please," Lito adds, pressing Nomi's hands palms-down on the table. When he leaves again, Nomi quickly pulls her hands back into her lap.
Ford looks between Nomi and Amanita, deliberating.
“We’ll think about it.” He says again, and this time it’s the truth.
A woman with more names than the cluster shows up at their motel the next morning, and introduces herself as Laura Ford (she later tells them to call her Sophie, instead, says when asked that neither are her real name but ‘Sophie’ is the one she’s most used to). She brings them back to the brewpub, and through an ‘employees only’ door, into Leverage headquarters, where the rest of her crew are waiting.
“So, you’re like a whole team, in one person.” The thief, Parker, accuses, in place of an introduction.
“Not really,” Nomi frowns slightly. “I mean, sort of. We’re all still ourselves, we can just...borrow each other’s bodies. Switch out when another person is needed.”
It's a simplified version of the truth, one that doesn't take into account the sense of being one and eight at once, the strangeness of being a ghost in your own body, the complexities of being a cluster and not knowing if you still count as an individual.
Parker squints, her expression an odd mix of jealousy and disconcertment.
“That’s freaky.” Alec Hardison says (and that’s one name Nomi hadn’t had to research).
Nomi doesn’t know how to respond, but no one seems to expect her to.
Nate comes up with a plan to take down BPO, to drag all their crimes into the light.
"It'll take a little while, and it won't be easy, considering their reach. But it'll work," he assures her. "They'll go down, all of them. All their influence, all their connections."
"Good." Nomi responds, a cold venom in her voice that's all Riley. Nomi looks down at Will where he rests in her arms, and he's pale, his mouth turned down like he's having a nightmare, even as far under as he is. Riley kisses him, lightly. Nomi feels the ghost of lips on hers. She leans closer to Amanita, who cards a hand through her hair.
"Everything okay?" She asks quietly. Nomi doesn’t answer right away. Nate looks from Nomi to Amanita and back like he wants to repeat the question but doesn’t want to intrude. Amanita pauses. “Nomi?”
"It will be." Nomi says finally, and she doesn't really know who she’s trying to convince.
"You have any guns? Long range." Wolfgang says. Eliot glances up, and gives the other an appraising look as he tries to figure out who he's talking to.
"I don't like guns." He replies after a moment.
"That's not an answer." Lito and Nomi point out at the same time.
"No. I don’t have any guns. What do you even need one for?” Eliot looks wary.
“Whispers is in Will’s head.” Nomi reminds him. “No matter what happens to BPO, Whispers will still be there.”
“So you’re gonna kill him?” Spencer raises his eyebrows, his face somewhere between skeptical and concerned.
“Wolfgang is.” Nomi feels a tug, and slips aside for Lito to take over. He continues, “If that’s what it takes to keep ourself safe.”
Eliot’s expression intensifies, but after a period of brittle silence he looks away again.
“I’ll talk to Hardison about that gun.” He says.
Lito smiles sincerely, if a little sadly, and slips away again.
“Thank you.” Nomi says. Eliot doesn’t reply.
Ford was right. It takes a lot of work, to get into BPO. It takes longer than the Cluster seems to have patience for, but somehow still less time than anyone expected, and as the noose around the company’s neck tightens every day, Nomi starts to get quieter, more tense, like an animal that knows a thunderstorm is coming. It’s kinda freaking Amanita out, if she’s being honest.
“Babe?” She asks one day, when she brings over a plate of leftover pizza and Nomi seems to stare right through her. “You okay?”
“Whispers knows something’s happening.” Her girlfriend says, eyes still glazed over and distressed. “I’ve been tracking what he’s doing, and he’s trying harder than ever to get to us. Will woke up for a few minutes today, more than he’s been so far, and Whispers was there. Riley couldn’t even get Will to look at her. He was just shaking, Neets. He was just--”
Amanita puts the pizza down on the coffee table, and holds Nomi close while she cries.
“I’ve got you.” Amanita soothes, putting a steadying hand on Nomi’s head, and knows she is not comforting just one person, but many. “I’ve got you.”
They’re supposed to stay in the van with Hardison.
“Your faces are too recognizable right now, especially in there.” Nate motions to the BPO facility down the block. This is what all their work’s led up to, and Amanita and Nomi are expected to sit in the van and...wait. Watch from Alec’s computer and let everything happen without them. Their faces are too recognizable right now, Nate reasoned.
They stay in the van with Hardison, but they aren’t happy about it.
Wolfgang is at her side, waiting for his role. BPO is gone, torn down from the inside and out, and that’s a weight off their shoulders, but they all know this isn’t over yet. She can feel the others in the back of her head, shared thoughts of hope and dread and love and worry and comfort, all stretching across the bond at once. Her fingers shake, and Amanita grabs them, kisses them gently until they’re steady enough that Nomi can smile, gratefully. She takes a deep breath, and grabs the bag at her feet, the one with a collapsed sniper rifle inside.
“Be careful.” Amanita says, a plea and an order. Nomi nods, kisses her once before opening the door and stepping out of the van.
“I thought you’d try to stop her.” Eliot admits, from his spot in the driver’s seat.
“She knows what she’s doing. They all do.” Amanita replies, and she hopes it’s the truth.
"This wasn't the plan." Nate says in a low voice, his hand on Nomi's arm. He followed them to Whispers’ hotel. Of course he did.
"This was always the plan." Wolfgang replies, his lips twisting up in what's not quite a smile when he turns away from the scope to look the man in the eye. "And we think you knew that already."
"Have us take BPO down; take away Dr. Matheson's shield." Nate nods. "But that was so the law could take care of him, not so you could."
"The law will fail." Sun says. She pulls her arm away, and Wolfgang takes aim again, waiting for the man he knows will come into view any second.
Nate doesn't try to stop them again, and Whispers falls with a hole through his skull.
They’re in the brewpub again, beers in hand, imminent argument over guns and laws and morality put off for now, when Nomi sits at attention and nearly drops her drink.
“What is it?” Parker asks (or, asks first, as everyone else closely echoes her).
“Will.” Nomi breathes, her voice full of something so relieved, so happy it’s impossible to name. She slumps in her seat, lets out a long breath that sounds like both a laugh and a joyful sob, seeming to relax to a degree Nate realizes he’s never seen before.
He decides to further postpone the laws argument. It’s not like he was going to win it anyway.
“Thank you.” Nomi tells them all again, right before leaving, and it’s not really Nomi, Sophie knows, but whoever it is grabs Sophie’s hand in both of theirs and just holds it, smiling brightly.
“You gonna be alright now?” Eliot asks, and there’s the shift, the tiny change behind Nomi’s eyes that says that she’s back to herself. Nomi looks at Amanita, leaning back against their new rental car with her hands in her pockets, and then she smiles again, softer than before.
“Yeah.” She replies finally. “I think we will be.”