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Story Notes:
Known as the massive crossover of doom that just kept growing… We had fun with it though!

We're setting this in the following timelines, which all match up for this to happen on the same day for all crews.

Psych: Post-series
Leverage: Post-series
Blindspot: Mid-hiatus between Seasons 2 & 3
Lethal Weapon: Shortly after the Season 2 premiere

Happy birthday, veggiewoppa!!

Standard disclaimers apply.

"I cannot believe that, of all the banks in California, we gotta come to the only one where there's not a teller to flirt with to cause a distraction," Eliot grumbled, surveying the array of middle-aged men and women behind the counters. Not that there was anything wrong with middle-aged people, of course… but he didn't want to flirt with them. Even though he could. (He totally could.)

"Yeah, I don't see why you gotta flirt to cause a distraction," Hardison chided over the comms as Parker chuckled in the background. "I can think of, like, ten different ways to cause a distraction off the top of my head, and not one of them involves flirting with the tellers."

"That's only because you don't know how to flirt, Hardison."


"Why do we have to cause a distraction in the first place?" Parker wanted to know. "Why can't you just go up to the counter and withdraw money like everyone else person? Or go through the vents and break into the vault in the ceiling? You know, the normal ways to take money out of a bank?"

No part of that sentence was normal, but Eliot was not about to comment on it. Besides, there were lots of good reasons. They needed to get his phone close enough to the teller's computer to be able to copy the security protocols, for one. And that was going to take at least two minutes and forty-six seconds, which was like, ten minutes in bank teller time. If he didn't do something to keep the teller's attention on him instead of his cell phone or the bank computer screen, then they were going to have a problem. And the team needed this information. Their client's former landlord ran all of his bad business through this bank. Ergo, they had to get the information off of these servers.

There were other reasons, too, but that was the main one. And he would have told Parker that, but then his attention caught on a man in a green polo who was standing in the far line -- and who had apparently just noticed Eliot as well.

Swearing felt like the appropriate response to the situation, but Eliot tried never to swear (at least not as severely as he wanted to right now) in front of Parker. Instead, he quickly averted his eyes and tried to focus on anything besides his inevitable doom. Maybe if I'm really really quiet, he'll just lose interest and go away.

"Eliot! Hey, cousin! Long time no see!"

Apparently, Eliot's attempts to avoid an interaction had failed. "Shawn," he growled, "what are you doing here? Last I checked, you don't live in Los Angeles."

Shawn shrugged and kept grinning. "Well, yeah, but Gus's work conference is here." He nodded as if that explained everything. "And this is the bank we use for Psych, and I needed to make a withdrawal."

"Well, nice to see you, but I really gotta go," Eliot tried to excuse himself. The last thing he wanted right now was to get dragged into a conversation with his younger cousin that would almost certainly be full of pop culture references and lame jokes and at least five mentions of food of some sort. He had a job to do, after all.

Shawn tilted his head. "But you haven't done anything at the counter yet," he pointed out. Then his eyes widened. "Wait," he whispered, leaning in close and looking probably the most conspicuous anyone had looked in the history of ever. "Are you here on a job?"

"Eliot?" Hardison interjected in his ear. "Who the heck are you talking to?"

"It doesn't matter," Eliot dismissed the question, then his stomach dropped as he realized Shawn was studying him intently.

"You are here on a job!" Shawn exclaimed. "Oh my gosh dude, that's so cool! Can I help you?"

"Not so loud!" Eliot grit out. "Somebody's gonna hear you!"

Shawn rolled his eyes. "Right, and nobody ever notices you just whispering into thin air?"

"Not usually." Eliot glared at his cousin. "And, if you must know, no. I'm not on a job. I'm just running an errand." Said errand might have had something to do with a job happening in the near future, but this, right here, right now, was not a job itself. And he was absolutely not letting his weird younger cousin tag along either way.

"Hey, Eliot, not to interrupt whatever this family reunion is that's happening right now," Hardison spoke up, "but if I'm gonna hack into the system anytime soon, I need you to get up to the counter and close to someone's computer. And we don't got all day, man."

Meanwhile, Shawn's attention had been attracted by something on the far end of the room, and he was squinting studiously as he studied whatever it was.

"What's wrong?" Eliot sighed. "Shawn, you're making that face you do when you've noticed something." He almost couldn't believe he was asking, but he was intrigued.

"Those detectives who just walked in are talking to the manager now," Shawn said, gesturing a little too obviously for Eliot's liking. "Do you think something's wrong?"

Eliot opened his mouth to ask why his cousin thought the pair who had just walked in were cops but then shut it again almost immediately because Shawn was actually right. They were cops. They had a very distinctive look. But it didn't seem to be particularly urgent, so he decided there was nothing untoward going on in the bank right that second. "They're probably here following up on a case of their own," he muttered. In spite of Shawn's obvious gawking, he was doing his best to look casual and blend in. "And I'm sure they would really appreciate it if you didn't get involved."

"Oh, I don't know, cuz. The cops always seem to appreciate it when I get involved."

Eliot was ten hundred percent certain that was a lie.
"So Patterson, on a scale of one to crap my pants, how nervous should I be about the pair of detectives who just walked into the bank?"

"Not very."Rich could practically hear Patterson rolling her eyes. "You're not even doing anything illegal yet; you are going into the bank to make a transaction, maybe flirt with your teller for a minute while the device picks up the new security protocols. You literally aren't even stealing anything they'll miss. Just relax."

"Yeah, you say that. But you are not the one walking into the bank full of armed guards and cops in a Hawaiian-print shirt that screams, 'Look at me,' are you?"

"Rich, it's two cops. They're not even paying attention to you; look. They're talking about something in the back. Just get in, make your deposit, and come back out again. Besides, you're the one who picked that shirt in the first place."

That was all well and good, but Patterson had at least been trained for field work before she left the FBI. There was a reasonRich had committed his best crimes through the safety of a computer screen. If she was wrong and those cops were after him, he was totally going to kill her.

But before Rich could ask her why she thought the cops were there if not to arrest him, the door to the bank flew open and three figures in ski masks barged into the lobby.

"Nobody move!" the guy in front shouted, waving a handgun in the air. "This is a robbery!"

Well. Rich was definitely, certainly going to die today.

He hated this day.
"Nobody move! This is a robbery!"

Now, Martin Riggs had not gone into this day intending to do anything crazy. In fact, he rarely intended to go off the rails, despite what his partner might have to say about it. (His partner who was, ever so conveniently, home with the flu and absent from this little misadventure.) This time, he really was just trying to do his job. But there was something inside him he never could quite shake that forcefully rebelled whenever he was faced with a command. Even a good and intelligent one like "don't move."

Naturally, he stepped toward the robbers with a little grin, even as he heard Bailey hiss his name behind him. "Howdy, boys. What can I help y'all with today?"

Although the bad guy doing the yelling was wearing a ski mask, Martin could see the slight flash of confusion in his eyes at being disobeyed. "Do you have a death wish, man?" the guy yelled. He waved the gun as if to back up his words. "I said don't move!"

"Well, now, see," Martin shrugged, "that doesn't really bother me much. I know what you're probably thinking. You're thinking, 'Wow, I actually tried to rob a bank in front of the only guy in LA who actually has a death wish. Well crap!' Am I getting warm?"

The man's eyes crinkled as if he were frowning under his mask.

Martin nodded. "So I'm more than warm!" He grinned. "Guess today isn't your lucky day, huh, buddy?"

"Everybody just lie down on the floor! Right now!" the robber finally spoke again.

The other hostages (well, most of them, anyway) obeyed, but Martin frowned. "But you just told us not to move," he rebutted. "So, which is it? Do you want us not to move or to lie down?"

From across the room, a man in a green polo, one of the only others still standing, raised his hand. "I admit I was confused about that as well. A little clarity would really be appreciated here."

Martin frowned at that. He really hadn't expected any of the civilians to do anything but obey what the robbers were telling them to do. Was there really another guy in LA with a death wish right then? Because that certainly would be an odd coincidence. It would also be highly inconvenient, seeing as how Martin was trying to keep the bad guy's attention focused on himself and away from the civilian hostages.

"Oh, a bunch of comedians, huh?"

The other two robbers were already behind the counter, where they had pushed the frightened tellers aside and were filling their sacks with cash. One of them looked over at the exchange going down in the main part of the lobby.

"You said you had this," he snarled at his associate. "Handle it!"

"Yeah man, you gotta handle it!" Martin agreed. "Don't wanna lose control of your hostage situation, after all."

"Would you stop antagonizing them, please?" Bailey hissed, her eyes doing something weird Martin couldn't be bothered to interpret. "We are outgunned, and they have the drop on us."

Martin glanced back across the room at the green-clad stranger, and this time, he noticed the man's companion -- who was crouching about halfway to the tile floor and looking about as pleased as Bailey did at that moment. Maybe even a little less pleased. Then he looked back to Bailey and grinned. "No worries, Bailey. I totally got this under control. I got this under control, right, buddy?" he asked the man in the ironically loud Hawaiian shirt who seemed to very much be trying to disappear into the floor next to where Martin and Bailey were standing.

The man swallowed and glanced up at Martin with a wide-eyed look as if he couldn't believe anyone was still talking at the moment. "Of all the banks you could have chosen to walk into today, and you picked the same one I did," the guy moaned. He did not seem to have very much confidence in Martin's ability to control the situation, which quite honestly was a little insulting even with the whole death wish thing in play. Just because he didn't care about dying didn't mean he was going to let everyone else get shot. Martin deserved some credit!

He thought he heard Bailey mutter something like, "He gets that a lot," under her breath, but he chose to ignore her.

He also chose to ignore the fact that it wouldn't have mattered if he'd been there that morning; these bad guys would still have shown up. And without Martin and Bailey, what kind of trouble would the rest of these people be in then?

"Hey!" the masked guy with the gun yelled again. "Everybody just shut up! Can't you people just do what you're told?"

"Um, I'm still confused on what you want us to do," the guy across the room said again. "Did you want us to not move or to lie down? I'm getting some very mixed signals here, and that's before we start taking the spirits into account!"

Even with his own track record of crazy things, Martin had to say he hadn't seen that one coming.
Before the newest arrivals had burst through the door and taken everyone hostage, Shawn had known something was going on. Not of the masked-robbers variety, but more of the cool-con-artist-team variety. And although he was still keeping a curious eye on the two detectives who were talking in low tones with the manager, he couldn't help turning to Eliot with a grin.

"Dude, you are on a job!" he exclaimed excitedly to his cousin as soon as he realized what was happening. "And I'm sensing you need a distraction to properly pull off whatever it is you're doing, right? Well, I can totally be your guy!"

"Nope, not happening," Eliot growled.

"Aw, come on, dude." Shawn was not past wheedling. It always worked on Gus eventually. Granted, his cousin was not Gus (and Shawn remembered from their visits as kids that Eliot was usually impervious to begging), but it didn't hurt to try. "I can help! Please? I've always wanted to be on your team! And here's the perfect opportunity for you to give me a test run so I can show you what I'm made of."

Eliot just raised an eyebrow.

This was a lot harder than convincing Gus of anything. "Come on, Eliot," Shawn pressed. "Don't you owe me that favor anyway? From when I set you up with Suzy Willis back in high school?"

"What?" Eliot laughed. "You did not set anyone up, Shawn. As I remember, you creeped her out by waiting outside her house."

Shawn nodded seriously. "Making her say yes when you finally asked her out. See? You owe me. You got, like, two dates out of that!"

Pausing to listen to whichever of his teammates was talking in his ear, Eliot leveled a look at Shawn. "Listen, Shawn, I don't care what you think I owe you; I am not going to say yes to you joining my team, not even for five minutes. This is not some little psychic con in a beach town, got it?"

"Oh, I got it all right," Shawn nodded agreeably. And he really did understand. Eliot wasn't going to say yes to him, but what he was trying to say without saying yes was yes. And because Shawn was a psychic (he practically was!), he knew that and would be able to behave accordingly. "I'm just one of the customers, not remotely connected to you at all…"

"Stop it," Eliot hissed, rolling his eyes. "I know what you're doing."

"Of course you do. I'm doing nothing. Just like you asked." Shawn winked.

"You're doing that thing where you pretend to do nothing but you really try to get involved and screw up the whole job!"

"Aha! So you admit it's a job!"

Eliot pinched the bridge of his nose. It seemed like he was trying very hard not to punch Shawn in the face, which would have been a gross over-reaction to the situation at hand.

"Come on," Shawn pushed again. He figured his cousin would crack at some point. Just where that point was, exactly, was something Shawn wasn't quite sure of yet, so he figured he might as well keep going until their conversation reached that point. "Eliot, you know I know you're on a job. And the longer we stand here and argue, the longer it'll be before you get what you came for. It's not even anything dangerous, right? You just need somebody to distract the tellers while you do whatever it is you came to do." He waggled his fingers near his temple. "I'm sensing… you just need some information, right?"

Eliot made a face. "Shawn, we both know you're not psychic."

"Shhhh! Not so loud!" Shawn was offended Eliot would even say such a thing. "Some of these people might be potential customers!"

"Right, because you're suddenly opening shop in LA?" Eliot rolled his eyes. "How'd you figure it out? The fact that I'm in the main lobby of a bank with no weapons on me?"

Ha! That was a trick question. Eliot never carried weapons. Shawn grinned. "Now, Eliot, don't be the shirt from my dad's closet that somehow ended up on a random guy over there." He paused and made a face. "Okay, wait, it's worse than my dad's. Who let him into the wild like that?" Shawn was momentarily distracted by the horrendous, fluorescent pattern of the shirt. He blinked a few times. "Wow, that pattern could really blind a guy."

When he turned back to his conversation with Eliot, Shawn suddenly realized his cousin had moved away from him toward one of the tellers' lines. Shawn sighed. He would just have to cause the distraction on his own. That would prove his worthiness! Eliot was going to witness the best distraction he'd ever seen. Then he'd have no choice but to let Shawn join in on the job!

But just as Shawn started forward, movement near the doors caught his attention. He turned and his eyes widened slightly as three masked figures burst through the doors.

Well… that was definitely a distraction if Shawn had ever seen one.
While Shawn and the Texan detective (he had a very distinctive accent -- and what was a cop from Texas doing in LA?) were going back and forth with the robber, Eliot was listening to Hardison ramble in his ear.

"Okay, before you kill me later, just let me say those guys seemed to come out of nowhere. They just pulled up and all hopped out of the van and ran inside. I barely had time to blink, much less warn you."

"He's right," Parker chimed in. "Are you gonna punch him in the face later?"

Hardison coughed. "'Scuse you, woman. I am busy trying to save his life here, okay?" There were some sounds as the hacker's fingers ran over his keyboard, then he continued, "Eliot, I'm tryin' to get the security camera feeds, man, but somebody else is in there too."

Well that was just perfect. If these guys had somebody on the outside, that made Eliot's job a whole lot harder. "And you didn't think to mention it?" he growled, keeping his voice as low as he could.

"I just mentioned it, didn't I? Geez, man! Ungrateful. Okay, there. I got it. Now, I see three guys, but it looks like they're the only ones, so if you--"

"If I what, Hardison?"

"Man, this guy just snatched my feeds again! He's good, whoever he is. But I'm better, don't worry," Hardison added quickly.

Eliot was not impressed. "Look, Parker, is there any way you can get in here? It might be a good idea to have you as backup in case this thing goes south. At least there will be one person they don't see coming."

"Ha! Can I get in?" Parker cackled, and Eliot took a moment to thank God she was on his side for this. "It'll be like taking Crown Jewels from the Tower of London!" Which, in the language of Parker, probably meant something like 'very, very easy.'

"What? You're just gonna let her go in there, all headin' into danger and stuff? Are you nuts?"

"You wanna keep her safe? Then get those cameras back!" Eliot rolled his eyes. Their mark's bank account numbers were hardly worth this.
"So, um, Rich, I don't want you to panic…"

"What, panic?" Rich gave a humorless chuckle. "Who's panicking? I'm not panicking. I'm just stuck on the gross, germy floor of a bank being held hostage by a bunch of cowboys in ski masks while a couple of idiots egg them on! I am freaking zen right now!"

"Okay, that's fair." Patterson actually sounded almost sorry, which was something Rich hadn't expected. At least not directed toward himself. "Well, my news doesn't get any better. I've got the security feeds for inside the bank, but there's someone else trying to plug in. I think your bank robbers might have someone on the outside."

"Oh, that's just wonderful. That's perfect; wow. I am going to die here today, but at least the bad guys will have control of the cameras when it happens!" It was getting difficult not to raise his voice. He hoped the gunman was distracted enough arguing with the cop not to notice Rich griping at thin air from the floor.

"Look, I'll see what I can do. A bunch of cops just showed up out here, maybe--"

Oh, great. Because law enforcement was known for handling things delicately. "Maybe you can stall them so they don't turn this already very delicate situation into a freaking shootout!"

Just then, the two men behind the counter finished emptying the registers and came back toward the lobby, bags slung over their shoulders. The hostages on the floor all tensed, Rich included, although neither of the two idiots who were arguing with the other gunman seemed very worried. Rich wasn't sure if it was because they knew something he didn't or if they were just exceptionally stupid. (If he had to make a guess, he would say it was the latter.)

"You!" the tallest of the gunmen pointed his gun at an older man in a suit. The poor guy's name tag identified him as the manager, and the bad guys had apparently noticed this. "You're going to get us inside the vault. Now!"

The manager didn't try to argue, probably due to how much he was currently trembling. As soon as he got to his feet, the second gunman from behind the counter grabbed him by his shirt and pushed him toward the back of the bank.

Meanwhile, the first gunman nodded to his third associate. "And you keep these people under control! If anyone gets out of line or mouths off, shoot them."

Much to Rich's surprise (and relief) neither of the two idiot customers said anything at that. They both wore disconcerting smirks, but that was as far as any response went from them. Rich should have known it wouldn't last long, however.

Also to Rich's surprise (but not relief), the next interruption into the hostage situation didn't come from either of the idiots. It didn't even come from one of the other customers on the floor of the lobby. No, this came from what sounded like the ceiling. Or rather, Rich corrected himself once he'd recovered from the mini heart attack the sudden banging had given him, the air ducts in the ceiling.

The idiot in the green polo grinned even wider now. "Ohh, you hear that, buddy? The spirits are very angry with your behavior right now."

Rich should really have stopped being surprised at that point in the day, but somehow, he still was.
Patterson almost couldn't believe it. Banks got robbed every day all around the country, but it was such a small percentage, considering. What were the chances bad guys would hit the bank where she and Rich happened to be that day? It had hardly even been a concern in their minds when they were planning this job. Patterson and Rich weren't robbing the bank, because that would be wrong. They just needed the account information for certain disreputable humans. Some of those funds simply needed to be… re-appropriated into more deserving hands.

Which is what they had been trying to do until these three masked goons had shown up.

If this had been a case six months ago, Patterson would have had at least one other team member who could have assisted her with the situation at hand. But she was no longer FBI, and none of her former teammates knew what she was doing right now. There was no help coming from that direction. Which meant she was going to have to put on her best "I'm lying through my teeth but I can't let you know or else you'll arrest me" face and do her best to get control of the situation.

It was a good thing she kept her old FBI jacket on hand.

Technically, she should have turned it in before leaving New York, but when she'd found it in her duffel bag when she was packing, she had felt a strange urge to keep it for some reason. Who knew it'd come in handy during a bank robbery in Los Angeles? A little voice in the back of her mind told her what she was about to do was probably (no, definitely ) illegal, because she was technically impersonating a federal agent. However, seeing as how she was an FBI agent until recently and there was a hostage situation going down inside the bank, Patterson was willing to argue it was more of a gray area than anything else right now. She could probably get away with it.

Either way, that was Rich in there, along with a number of other innocent civilians, and Patterson was not going to just sit by and watch things happen.

Firmly resolved, she climbed out of the van and checked her reflection in the side mirror, before making her way toward the police cordon. And then stopped in her tracks when she noticed a tall, familiar-looking man -- also in an FBI jacket -- heading toward the scene on the other side of the alley. He was muttering to himself, something along the lines of, "...Nobody appreciates all the work I put into these dang things!" and "Tough guy can't do everything at once, can he?"

It took her a minute to place him. Patterson had flipped quickly through her mental catalog of FBI agents she had worked with and come up empty. But his face did belong in an FBI context. And then suddenly it clicked. "Oh my gosh, you're Alec Hardison!"

The man flinched, then, almost as quickly as he had reacted, he straightened up and quickened his pace.

Patterson narrowed her eyes. She was definitely right; this man was a world-renowned hacker who had good reason to boast. (He wasn't quite as good as Patterson, of course, but was anyone?) The FBI had been after him for ages. So what in the world was he doing in downtown LA wearing an FBI windbreaker to a crime scene?

He's here to rob the bank, she realized. For a moment, she wondered if he was working with whoever the bad guys were inside. But, just as quickly, logic dismissed the notion. Hardison didn't do guns. If he wanted to rob a bank, he didn't need muscle, he just needed a wifi connection and like, two minutes to transfer the funds. A cowboy-style bank robbery was not his style. But if he's not robbing the bank, then what is he doing here?

Confused, frustrated, and vaguely offended he was ignoring her, Patterson jogged up to the man and tapped him on the shoulder.

He spun around, flailing his arms wildly in what looked like it was meant to be some sort of martial arts he wasn't coordinated enough to execute. "Lady, what the heck are you doin'?" he demanded. "You don't just run up to a highly trained FBI agent and grab 'em like that! Geez! Y'all kids nowadays are crazy."

"You're Alec Hardison," she repeated her earlier statement. This guy may be a criminal, but he was also a legend. "You're one of the top five hackers in the world right now."

"Top five?" He looked offended for a split second before seeming to remember he was lying about his identity. "I'm afraid you're mistaken, honey. My name is Special Agent Alan Thomas, here to get control of this robbery situation. I've already got people inside, and we'd like to make sure everyone goes home safe today."

Patterson really didn't have time for this. Rich was in there, probably having a panic attack and making everything worse. She wasn't here to bust a cyber-thief, as much as she might want to; there were guys with guns in the bank who were much higher on her list of priorities. "Fine, whatever. You're FBI; so am I. I have a guy in there too, and high-stress situations aren't really his forte. So maybe instead of having this little argument right now, we work together and worry about who's who afterthe bad guys are in jail."

Hardison looked at her suspiciously, then nodded. "Okay. Okay, sure. Uh, you said you had a guy in there right now? With your FBI team?"

He was clearly enunciating the way he repeated her words, and Patterson suddenly realized he probably had an earpiece, the same as she did. Which meant he was communicating with whoever he had inside. She stopped herself from trying to figure out which of Hardison's known associates might be in LA. Right now, the only thing that mattered was stopping the bad guys with guns. Like she'd told him, they could figure the rest out later.

"Yeah," she replied simply. She glanced toward where the cops had set up a line across the street from the bank. "Now, what do you say we go talk to the local authorities and keep our people out of any more danger?"

"Okay…" Hardison nodded slowly. "What's our story? Are we… partners?" Patterson wasn't sure if he was happy about it or just intrigued, but at least he was willing to play along.

She shrugged. "Would make the most sense." Squaring her shoulders, she looked back at the cop cars. How exactly she was going to convince them she was FBI with only a windbreaker and no actual badge or gun was another question entirely.

Thankfully, it was as if Hardison had read her mind, because he held up a badge and winked. "Follow my lead," he told her.

Under any other circumstances, Patterson would have argued the point, but the man had just offered her a way in. She wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth, if only for Rich's sake. "Okay," she acknowledged, holding out a hand in the direction of the LAPD. "Lead the way, Agent Thomas."

That made him pause. "Right. And you are…?"

"Patterson," she replied. Before he could press, she raised an eyebrow. "Now, are we going to leave our people hanging or are we going to get moving?"

He nodded. "Right. Okay." And taking a deep breath, he turned and headed for the police.

Patterson followed behind him, hoping he was as good of an actor as his reputation indicated. If he wasn't, they were all in trouble.
So far, today had officially sucked. His best work shirt had come back from the dry cleaner's with a tear in it, which he hadn't noticed until he'd put it on, and then there had been so much traffic on the freeway he'd been late for work. (Who was he, Riggs?) And now there was this bank robbery. Admittedly, that was worse than any of his other problems, but piled one on top of the other, it was just a lot of stress. Oh, and Murtaugh was sick, which meant he'd sent Bailey with Riggs to talk to the bank manager earlier in the day -- which meant it was highly possible no one was keeping control of Riggs. Not that Bailey wasn't capable, of course, but Murtaugh was more versed in the man's shenanigans than anyone else.

But if there was one thing Captain Brooks Avery was not, that was a quitter. So he was just going to have to put the morning behind him and focus on the situation at hand.

He was wrapping up discussing things with the SWAT leader when two approaching figures caught his eye. Avery turned and frowned as he noticed their navy windbreakers emblazoned with yellow letters. What were the feds doing here already? He hadn't called them yet; his team was perfectly capable of handling this on their own.

The taller of the two pulled out a badge as he stopped in front of Avery. "Special Agent Thomas," he said in a clipped, professional tone. "And this is my partner, Agent Patterson. What's the situation in there?"

"Brooks Avery, captain," he introduced himself, shaking the two agents' hands. "I'm sorry, who called you?" Avery was all about transparency, and he wasn't about to turn down help if he needed it, but he was still very much confused as to what was going on.

"Ah, nobody," Agent Thomas replied with a tight smile. "See, we were, uh, running an operation in this bank today. Weren't expecting a robbery, of course, or else we would have alerted you all. But we were just down the block when these cowboys ran inside waving their guns, and then you folks pulled up, so we figured we'd come on over and see how we could help."

Avery blinked as he followed the explanation. "Right… okay. So, how many people do you have inside right now?"

The two agents exchanged glances.

"Uh, three," Agent Thomas replied.

"Do your guys have weapons of any sort?" Avery asked. "We need as much information as possible right now, especially if there's any chance your team might try to take down these criminals."

Patterson shook her head as Thomas looked her way, then the man looked back at Avery. "Nah, none of our team had weapons on them. It was strictly an informational gathering operation, and we thought it might cause trouble if any security guards happened to notice." There was a slight twitch to his face as he spoke, but Avery wasn't quite sure what it meant, so he just filed it away under his growing list of things to think about when there was not a hostage situation in progress.

"Right, okay," Avery replied, nodding.

"But look," Thomas continued, "our guys know what they're doing. In fact, we got a plan to take the gunmen down happenin' right now. So don't let your guys go in all guns a-blazin' until we have a chance to get this all sorted out, 'kay?"

Avery wasn't sure he liked the sound of that. "You want us to stand down and let this play out?"

Now Patterson spoke up. "We're not saying you wouldn't be able to handle it," she quickly assured him. "But we were in there first, so we're just asking you to let us finish what we started. You can take over at the first sign of anything going wrong, promise."

"Ha. Well I mean… what my partner here said. Even though we didn't discuss it." His eyebrows did some weird things then, but Avery had seen too much of that between Murtaugh and Riggs to think anything of it. He wasn't about to get tangled up in their FBI chain of command crap. Rescuing the hostages and apprehending the robbers. That was their priority.

Avery sighed and nodded. "Okay, I'll give you ten minutes to get something sorted out with your team, then come back and we'll regroup. Also," he added, looking between the two agents, "if there's any sign of the situation escalating, we're going in. There are civilians in there, not to mention some of my own people."

"Roger that," Thomas nodded. "Would you mind if we had a minute in that van over there? Ours is coming, but you know what the traffic in LA is like. They'll be there as soon as we can, but, in the meantime, we'll do our best to get some eyes on the inside."

"Of course, whatever you need. Officer Crawford will help you out."

"Thank you," Patterson tossed over her shoulder as they hurried toward the tech van.

Well, if they could somehow hack into the cameras, that would be something. Avery just hoped Riggs could keep from blowing up the bank in the next ten minutes.
One thing Parker loved about crawling around in air vents was she could see what was happening underneath her but no one knew she was there. This came in handy when pulling off heists or spying on marks. Or, as the case was currently, being able to sneak around a bank that was being robbed without anyone seeing her. The possibilities were endless.

Like right now, for example. She could see the hostage situation down below, that there was only one guy watching the couple dozen bank patrons plus Eliot, who was far away but could probably take him. She could see the other two bad guys grabbing the bank manager, who already had his access card in his hand and held it out almost before they even got to him. And she could just barely see the door to the inner part of the bank where the vault was.

(It was a really nice vault. She'd studied the bank's blueprints before they went in. She could practically have married that vault.)

After observing the situation for a minute, she decided Eliot could handle one jumpy guy with a gun. He probably could have done it in his sleep, with one hand tied behind his back. Which meant she should probably follow the guys to the vault and figure out what they were gonna do to the poor thing.

The manager and the two robbers had already disappeared past Parker while she was studying the situation in the lobby, and so they were already in the vault by the time Parker scrambled through the duct to reach the grating overlooking it.

"Ow!!" That was the bank manager. He turned around to glare at the two bad guys, pulling free of their grasp and brushing off his sleeve. "You didn't have to squeeze so freaking hard, you know."

"Hey, you're the one who said to make it look real. There's cops in there! You think they don't know the difference between play-acting and really roughing someone up?"

Parker's brow furrowed. She glanced at the cameras near the front of the vault. They were only trained on the front of the room, but she was pretty sure they'd have caught the exchange currently going on. "Hardison," she hissed as loudly as she dared. "Are you in the cameras?" She'd heard him ask for the police tech van a few minutes earlier, so, hopefully, the people gathered outside were getting this scene loud and clear.

"Mm-mm, would you look at that," Hardison said, and Parker could just imagine him pointing out what was happening to whoever else was around him. "Looks like this was an inside job if ever I saw one."

"Well, did the police see it?" That would be helpful. Not that they needed to rush in just yet, but when they did, it was always so much easier when they arrested all the bad guys the first time around. "Can you make that happen?"

"Girl, can you eat an entire box of Fruit Loops in two minutes flat? I got this. It's like takin' candy from a baby."

Parker wasn't exactly sure why everyone thought that was such a fun pastime; it seemed stupid and pretty mean. Why not take candy from a store instead? There was lots more, and you wouldn't make a kid cry. But this was not the time to have that conversation. She turned her attention back to the men in the vault below her in time to hear the manager continue muttering.

"Just stick to the plan," the man was saying. "We don't have a lot of time before either the cops in here or the ones out there make their move. We have to hurry."

Well, that wouldn't do at all. Parker trusted Eliot a lot, but even he needed a few seconds to take down a bad guy. And then there was dealing with all the scared hostages, which he was much less good at. That would be at least five or ten minutes. She couldn't let these bad guys get out and escape with their ill-gotten gain (which she would highly prefer to be her ill-gotten gain but that wasn't the job this time) before Eliot had had a chance to get all the people to safety.

She'd just have to buy him some time.
After the other two robbers had left with the manager in tow, the remaining guy had seemed even more nervous. Martin was pretty certain it was because the man now was alone with over a dozen hostages. Most of them were cowering on the floor, sure, but still. It was one bad guy against all of them.

From his initial assessment of the room, Martin knew most of his fellow hostages would pose no risk to their captor. Even the guy in the polo who'd been mouthing off alongside Martin wasn't a physical threat. The muscular guy who'd been glowering the whole time was the only one who might be competent enough to handle the situation, but he was pretty far away.

Speaking of Polo Guy, he was currently waving his hand in the air like a kindergartener. "Do we get a bathroom break during this thing?" he asked as soon as the gunman looked his way.

"Are you serious?" the robber growled. "This isn't a field trip."

Out of the corner of his eye, Martin saw Bailey inching forward while their opponent's attention was fixed on the vocal hostage. He glanced her way, and she raised an eyebrow in response. Obviously, she needed him to continue the distraction, and who was he to deny her?

"Come on, man," Martin spoke up as soon as Bailey had edged out of the bad guy's line of sight. "You and your friends are the ones with guns, right? And the doors are locked? Where's he gonna go besides the little boys' room?"

"He might try to call the police," the guy pointed out, shifting from foot to foot. His body language fairly screamed anxiety. "And all that's going to do is piss my friends off."

Martin couldn't help it; he laughed out loud at that. "Call the police?" he wheezed between breaths. "Brother, I am the police. And I guarantee there's a whole horde of 'em outside, too. They're just looking for the safest way in."

The man's brow furrowed, and his finger twitched against the trigger of his weapon. Martin could work with that.

Apparently, Polo Guy had similar thoughts because he cleared his throat and continued. "Yeah," he nodded in agreement with Martin. "I mean, the police showed up really soon after all of this started, so there's really no point in me calling them if they're already here. Although I'm sensing…" and here the man put his right hand up to his temple and scrunched his face in thought.

Oh great, Martin thought. What was this guy? A psychic?

Oddly enough, Polo Guy smirked and raised an eyebrow. "And yes, I am a psychic in case you were wondering."

Martin wasn't sure about all of that, but what he was sure about was the bad guy in front of him now looked even more nervous. Polo Guy might not actually be gifted, but either way, at least it was keeping the bank robber off his game. With any luck, it would last long enough for Bailey to get the drop on the guy.

"The spirits are very disappointed in you," the maybe-psychic continued. "This is no way to pay your doctor bills, no matter how high they are."

When the robber's eyes widened, Martin had to admit he was somewhat impressed. This guy was either extremely intuitive or actually psychic.

"Wait, but how could you possibly know--?" The end of the guy's question was cut off by a sudden explosion of movement from Bailey, who had taken advantage of the distraction to get close enough to the robber to rush him.

There was a flurry of movement as the two of them went down, and, a moment later, the man's gun went skittering across the floor. Seeing Bailey had the situation well in hand, Martin hurried to recover the weapon before anything crazy happened. He was pretty sure all the other hostages, with the possible exception of Polo Guy, were too scared to do anything with it, but it never hurt to play it safe.

Out of the corner of his eye, Martin saw the muscular hostage he'd noticed earlier hurrying toward the back of the bank, but before could make a move to stop the man, the guy in the eye-searing Hawaiian shirt leaped up and attached himself to Martin, clinging tightly.

"Hallelujah, you've saved us all!" he wailed, pressing himself into Martin's chest. It was… very uncomfortable. And strange. This was a fully grown man, acting like an anxious teenager. And Martin really didn't like being touched.

"Him?" Bailey scoffed, her voice still a little tense as she was in the process of cuffing her guy's wrists behind his back. "What do you think he did besides act like a complete idiot while I did the heavy lifting?"

The weird guy shifted but didn't let Martin out of his bear hug. "I'm sorry, sweetheart; you were brilliant too. But this man has eyes that pierce the soul… and some very well-developed pectoral muscles."

"Okay! That's enough." Martin firmly extracted himself from the man's grip and put some distance between them. "You just… stay over there or something."

"I'm just trying to express my gratitude!"

"Yeah, well express it from eight to ten feet, or I'll have to arrest you for assaulting a police officer!" Martin did not have time for this crap. Who did the guy think he was?

As soon as the creepy guy had backed off, Martin straightened his shirt and turned for the rear of the bank. He needed to find out what that other man was up to before anything else happened.

This day just kept getting better and better.
As soon as the cop chick had tackled their gunman and Eliot was sure the patrons were out of danger, he took off toward the vault. He trusted the local law enforcement to deal with their guy, but he had to make sure the remaining robbers and the bank manager (of course it was an inside job, it was always an inside job) hadn't planned anything tricky that might get someone hurt. They'd obviously left their least useful man to guard the hostages, but that didn't mean the rest weren't still armed and dangerous. And desperate bad guys did desperate things to get out of a tight spot.

He hadn't gotten very far, however, when he ran into Parker. She was doing a leisurely jog toward him, whistling to herself.

She grinned when she saw him. "Eliot! That was fast. I thought you'd be letting all the pretty tellers cry on your shoulder and stuff. Did you get the gunman?"

"The cops have him," he grunted. His attention was only partially on Parker, most of his thoughts still devoted to finding the remaining robbers and dealing with them. "What the heck are you doing back here? The guys with guns could be coming back out any minute."

Parker gave a sharp laugh. "Ha! No they won't."

Eliot sighed. There was a reason he was the tactical expert of this group, but he had hoped Parker would have picked up something in the years they'd been working together. "Parker," he tried patiently. "You do realize there's not a back way out of here, right? They're going to have to come back this way if they want to escape, and I have to catch them before that happens."

"I mean, it's going to be pretty hard for them to get out of that vault from the inside. Especially since I disabled the door controls." Parker held up a fist full of colored wires and grinned. "Oh, Eliot, the vault is beautiful. Fort Knox could only dream of having security like that. It was almost a shame I had to break it."

Following Parker's trains of thought was always a bit of a mental gymnastics session, but Eliot had had some practice. "Wait, you locked them inside the vault?" he asked.

"Obviously. How else was I supposed to keep track of them?"

Well… Eliot didn't really have a better answer for that. He just hoped the cops didn't have too much trouble getting the guys to surrender their weapons. But that was what they were trained for; they would handle it. And meanwhile, it was time for the team to split before they overstayed their welcome.

"Come on," he grunted, taking Parker's hand because that was the best way to keep track of her in high-stress situations. "Let's get out of here."
The flood of hostages pouring out of the bank and SWAT cops pouring in was a welcome sight. And also, the cue for Patterson to find Rich and get the heck out of Dodge. She and Hardison hopped out of the van they'd commandeered and shook hands.

"Look, it's been fun, but I've got to find my partner and get out of here," she said apologetically. "It's, well, complicated. But I really don't think he'll do all that well giving official witness statements. But it's been a pleasure, Mr. Hardison."

"Girl, I told you, it's Agent Thomas." But he was grinning, looking pleased with the compliment. "But same to you. You take care now."

"Thanks." She hurried away before she could get all emotional or nerdy because she had just worked with freaking Alec Hardison! It was the work of moments to find Rich among the freed hostages, practically hyperventilating, and take charge of him and lead him away back toward their van. Unsurprisingly, he was a fountain of complaints the whole way.

"I hate field work," he grumbled. "That sucked! It was a terrible idea; I don't know how I ever let you talk me into this."

"Rich, this was your idea."

"I know! And I have terrible ideas; you're always telling me that! Ugh, and there was some weird psychic there who gave me the creeps. The cops were kind of cute, though..."

Patterson sighed. She had a feeling she'd be hearing about this for a long time.
"It was all an inside job, of course!" Shawn was saying, one hand on his forehead and the other one waving mysteriously in the air. Gus always told him it looked stupid, but he knew his friend was just jealous he didn't get to look that cool. "The spirits gave me a vision of the manager, planning, sneaking. He had just been turned down for a promotion, you see, and he knew he wanted revenge…"

"So he robbed the bank?" Detective Riggs asked, looking somewhere between unimpressed and morbidly curious.

Shawn nodded in response, glancing beyond the cops to where his cousin's team was pulling away in their van. Shawn smiled to himself; Eliot might've told him he couldn't help with the job, but Shawn was totally helping. Even if all he was doing was providing a distraction so the team could leave unnoticed. Which totally made Shawn a part of the team.

Turning his attention back to the crowd gathered around him, Shawn waved his hand again and continued. "He found a few others with their own motivations for stealing, and together, they hatched a plot!" Then Shawn chuckled. "What they didn't count on, though, was choosing the exact time we'd all be inside."

"And who exactly is 'we all'?" the crime scene's version of Chief Vick asked, crossing his arms. (Which, okay, made him… really nothing like Chief Vick. But they were both in charge! That counted, right?)

"Why," Shawn spread his arms, "you fantastic boys and girls in blue, plus me, plus those FBI agents." He flashed a wide grin at the other man. "Good thing I was here, too, or else who knows what might have happened in there!"

"Yeah, pretty sure we would have been just fine by ourselves without your help," Riggs said with a shake of his head.

Shawn smirked. "Aw come on, Rin Tin Tin; you don't mean that."

The detective's eyebrow twitched, and Shawn noticed the LAPD captain trying to hide a smile.

The female detective who had done the epic football tackle inside the bank snorted and shook her head. "Yeah, you did nothing but make the guy more mad." She smirked and gave Riggs a side eye. "Rin Tin Tin here could have done that all by himself."

"Hey now!" Riggs exclaimed. "Nobody's calling me that. And if eitherof you tell Rog," he pointed between her and the captain, "I'm disowning you. And you're not psychic anyway." Riggs turned his attention back to Shawn. "Anyone could've seen those IV scars on the gunman or noticed the manager being too quick to respond to the robbers."

Shawn waggled his eyebrow and put his right hand back to his temple. "Aww, I'm sensing you're--"

"About to shoot you?" Riggs finished sharply. "Because I am."

"You don't mean that," Shawn returned, shaking his head.

The detective didn't look impressed. "Try me." Then he turned on his heel and strode away.

His… partner (although Shawn was pretty sure they either weren't full-time partners or at least hadn't worked together long) gave Shawn a look and then hurried after Riggs.

That left Shawn with the captain, who sighed. "Mr. Spencer, we just need to take your statement. The officer there will assist you."

Shawn nodded in acknowledgement, then watched the captain head over to speak with another uniformed cop nearby. The pseudo-psychic grinned widely; Gus was never going to believe any of this!

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