+ my website with my original fiction
+You should follow my wife because she's amazing
+You should also follow my lover because she's crazy bitchin'
They’re all thieves. However, they all have their different skills before they come together to make up the team. Blaine is the mastermind, the coordinator—he comes up with the ideas, works them down and digests them to make sure they create the perfect con. But even when he does, they don’t always turn out perfectly. Puck is their muscle. Strong, courageous, once a professional hit man, he doesn’t let anybody get near them. Not if he can help it. Quinn is their resident safecracker. She’s renowned worldwide for her thievery, most famously with the largest pink diamond known to man. Artie, although confined to his wheelchair, is no less badass than the rest of them. Give him a computer and he can find out anything anyone wants to know. The internet is his best weapon. Hacker, liar, idea-planter—he can do it all.
But there’s an anomaly. Kurt. Or Elijah or David or Tall, Bright, and Gorgeous—he goes by more names than Blaine can count. He’s a grifter. He’s scammed more people out of their money from right under their noses than the American government. And he very rarely stays still. But when he does, it’s one hell of a ride.
The rich and powerful take what they want. Blaine and his team steal it back for you. They provide…leverage.
Title: The Missing Daughter Job
Word count: 8,200+ for this part / 31,000 + overall
Warnings: Language and sexual situations - and fluff. Lots of fluff.
Rating: PG-13 for this part / M overall
So, here’s what you missed on We Provide:
Blaine went to this gallery show to steal a priceless Aphrodite sculpture because it reminded him of his dead son, Andrew, but Kurt got there first and stole it right from under Blaine’s nose. Then they proceeded to run in to each other a few more times before Kurt joined Blaine’s team to help run cons on other people, except then everything got all complicated because they kissed and had sex and then saved Kurt’s dad from this loan shark guy. Also, Blaine was an alcoholic for a while after his kid died of cancer, but he stopped drinking, and then started drinking again, and then stopped again, and then started again and it all got really complicated so no one ever knows whether or not he’s sober. And then, after all that, Blaine kind of started falling in love with Kurt and when Kurt realized, he left, so Blaine got all sad.
Six Months Later:
He’d gotten the crate in the mail exactly fifteen days ago, five and a half months after Kurt’s disappearing act. It was small, wooden, and had large “FRAGILE” stickers on each side, and at first all he did was frown at it and slide it into his closet. There wasn’t a mailing address, nothing in fact that suggested it had actually been sent via truck or plane or anything so it had to be hand-delivered. He wasn’t typically in the business of trusting strange packages—not after the bomb they found in Artie’s apartment—but scans had been completed, no explosions had happened, and the package was clean. So two weeks after receiving it, he opened it.
“You should stay sober tonight,” Daniel told him over the phone as he twirled his crowbar absently. “We should be in the city in about thirty minutes. Jen’s ecstatic, by the way. She misses you like crazy.” There was a pause, a laugh, and then he said, “She says to tell you, ‘Hi, Uncle Blaine,’ and then asks if you have a present for her.”
“Of course I have a present for her. What kind of animal do you think I am?” Blaine sat down at his kitchen counter, still staring fixedly at the crate. “Are you ever gonna tell her that I am actually in no way related to her?”
“Well neither am I, but she still calls me Papa.”
“You’re married to her dad, though. You and I aren’t even related.”
He sighed heavily. “I know. Sorry. I’m just…”
“Okay, in thirty minutes we’ll all go out to dinner, reminisce, and then Jamie and Jen will go back to the hotel so you and I can go get one glass of alcohol and hang out.”
“Your husband doesn’t mind?”
“You know he doesn’t.”
Blaine nodded to himself and stood up, still considering the crate distractedly. “Okay.”
“Great! So, have you opened the mysterious box, yet?”
“Working on it.”
Daniel made a considerate noise and then lowered his voice, asking, “Are you sure it’s not a bomb?”
“Pretty sure, Danny.” Exhaling in a huff, Blaine managed to get the lid of the crate off before he set aside the crowbar. Inside, there was a sort of straw that Blaine assumed was there for protection ad he tossed it away, letting it scatter over his counter and floor before picking up the smooth mahogany box underneath.
He barely heard Daniel sigh. The other box was heavy, but gorgeous, and when he flipped open the lid after releasing the latch, he gasped.
“Blaine?” Daniel inquired.
He was speechless. It was Aphrodite—pale marble, beautiful, the woman only half covered with a sheet, all curves and pure beauty. Blaine’s heart threatened to burst out of his chest.
Kurt had had Aphrodite. And he’d given it to Blaine. Which meant…
Kurt was back.
“Blaine?” Daniel asked again. “Hello? You still there?”
“Yeah,” he said thickly. “I’m still here.”
Blaine sat down heavily, the tall chair beneath him creaking in protest. “Danny. You remember how I promised I wouldn’t steal the Aphrodite?”
“Yes. Yes, I do.”
“Well… Someone…gave it to me.”
There was a tense silence. “She was in the crate?”
“Holy shit. Do you think it was that guy? Kurt?”
Of course he’d told Daniel everything. Everything from the very first meeting to the fourteen nights they spent holed up in Blaine’s apartment, resulting in that stupid note left on Blaine’s pillow and the inability to make contact with the man Blaine had been falling in love with. Daniel knew more about his relationship with Kurt than anyone else. He hadn’t even told the team.
“Yeah,” Blaine answered. “I think it was him.”
“Does that mean he’s back? Blaine—he totally came back for you.”
Blaine shook his head even though Daniel couldn’t see him and closed his eyes so that he wouldn’t cry. “No. He… He doesn’t feel the same way. If he’s back in New York, he’s not back for me, and he’s probably not coming near me.”
“But, the sculpture.” Daniel sounded defeated.
“I know an apology when I see one.”
“Right. He’s apologizing for leaving.”
“No.” Blaine closed the lid on Aphrodite’s case. “He’s apologizing for not loving me back.”
Daniel huffed indignantly. “Well that’s just rude. Who wouldn’t love you?”
“I gotta go, Danny. I’ll see you when you get here. Give Jamie and Jen my love.”
“I will, Blaine. You stay strong, okay? You are a strong, powerful, fabulous man and you don’t need another man to complete you.”
With a chuckle, Blaine nodded. “Okay. I’ll see you soon.”
The team was gathered in Blaine’s living the following morning. He wasn’t even kind of hung over, Daniel was already gone, and he was ready to see what they were up to next. A medical group? The mob? Anything to distract him from the box burning a hole in the floor of his closet.
“Jane Matheson,” Artie said. “She contacted us yesterday evening. I’m voting yes.”
There was a picture of her up on Artie’s screen. Pretty. Slender. Nondescript, but reasonably attractive. She looked like half of twenty-five-year-old American women did. Blaine blinked at her and then looked back down at his phone.
“Sure. Schedule a meeting for this afternoon if she can swing it.”
The sounds of typing filled the air while Artie did as Blaine had instructed, and then there was a heavy sigh. Every eye looked to Puck.
“What?” he asked defensively.
“You sigh all the time.”
Blaine arched an eyebrow. “Puck.”
“Fine.” He sat father forward on the couch, frowning. “I miss working with Kurt.”
“We all do,” Artie said, “but that doesn’t mean we can just order him back.”
“I know,” Puck whined, sounding insolent. “I mean, all I did was ask him and he barely said he would think about it—” He closed his mouth immediately, looking over at Blaine. “I mean…”
Blaine glared. “You talked to him?”
“…I was at his place.”
“You have his address?”
The whole room was tense. Puck looked from his notebook, back to Blaine, and then back and forth again, trying to pretend like he was unaware of what he’d done wrong. “Um. Kind of? I hooked up with this girl—this grifter actually, and when I was leaving her place in the morning, he was there. Apparently they’re roommates.”
Blaine stood and held out his hand. “Give me the address.”
“Blaine,” Quinn said softly, “he left for a reason. You can’t just—”
“We need him.”
Puck frowned. “I know we do. I mean, I know that better than anyone. But are you sure it’s only that? Are you sure it’s not you who needs him?”
“Give me the address.”
“If you want to help Ms. Matheson, you will give me Kurt’s address, Puck.”
“Blaine, you don’t even know what she wants from us,” Puck argued, standing up and getting right in Blaine’s face. “You don’t know if we even need a grifter on whatever con we’ll use for her—this isn’t about her and you know it. It’s about your ego. He left the team after he used us and yeah, it’s been over six months, but you don’t get to run his life unless he lets you, Blaine. You can’t barge in on him if he’s happy where he is.”
But what about my happiness?
“Trust me, I’m all for getting Kurt back, but maybe we should let him come back on his own.”
Blaine swallowed his emotions and squared his shoulders. “Fine. The grifter you were with—we’ll use her. But in the last six months, we haven’t pulled off a con half as successful as anything we did when we had Kurt. Think about that.”
He counted to twenty in the time it took Puck to collapse back into his seat and scribble something down on a piece of paper.
“I give up on you. You won’t listen to me no matter what I say but I want you to understand this.” He thrust a small square of paper at Blaine and said, “When he says no, you leave. You got that?”
Blaine nodded. “Yes.”
“And tell Rachel I say hi.”
Kurt’s apartment—that he apparently shared with a girl named Rachel—was on the top floor of a giant building in the center of the city. It was beautiful, obviously expensive, and Blaine couldn’t help but feel a little stab of jealousy. Kurt had obviously been very happy since leaving; Blaine could tell just by the fucking architecture of the fucking building. It was impossible for anyone to be unhappy while living there.
He pressed the buzzer for the apartment and a voice, feminine, snapped on.
“Hi—I’m here to see Kurt?”
There was silence. Blaine’s heart raced a million miles an hour. Then, “C’mon up.”
In the time it took for him to reach the top floor, Blaine head wouldn’t stop thinking. What if Kurt slammed the door in his face? What if he didn’t come back? What if he did come back but he didn’t want to be with Blaine? What if he came back but he had a boyfriend? What if he didn’t come back and he had a boyfriend?
Blaine felt marginally sick.
The woman, who Blaine assumed was Rachel, greeted him. She was petite, had long, brunette hair, and talked his ear off while she led him into their apartment. It was huge.
“How do you know Kurt?”
“You’re another thief, right?”
Blaine smirked. “Straightforward.”
“I like to get to the point.”
“Yeah—I run a team in the city. I met Kurt—”
“Oh, my god,” she interrupted. Her voice got high and excited, stunned, and she grabbed his hand. “You’re Blaine Anderson, aren’t you? You—oh, my god—you run the meanest team this side of the Mississippi.”
The greatest thing, Blaine thought, about being a conman, was that nobody cared whether you were doing things for good people, as long as you were doing bad things. He retained street credibility, which he apparently had quite a lot of, and managed to not feel like a major asshole.
“But Kurt—oh.” Her face pinched. “Kurt.”
“He doesn’t like me very much, does he?”
“I don’t think so.”
Blaine hoped his defeat didn’t show on his face. “We need him to come back. We have a con and we need a grifter.”
Rachel sighed dramatically. “Well, I would offer to help but I have a role in this show beginning next week and rehearsals are a drag—you know how Broadway is.”
“Kurt’s hiding, by the way. He always hides from people who know his real name.”
Blaine’s mouth went dry. “Rachel, can I please see him?”
Rachel looked him up and down for a moment. “Wow. You really like him, don’t you?”
“I—that’s not what this is about. The con. We need him for the con.”
She snorted but gestured over her shoulder to a hallway. “Have at it, Mr. Anderson. And good luck.”
The second Kurt laid eyes on him, his mouth fell open.
“Who’s dead?” he asked, a hand on his chest. “Not Quinn—oh, please, not Quinn. Not any of them. Not Puck, right? Not Artie—oh, my god, Blaine.”
Blaine, shocked, reached out and held on to Kurt’s shoulders. “No, no, of course nobody’s dead—why would you think that?”
Kurt’s face turned to steel. “You’re here and nobody’s dead?”
Barely managing to avoid stuttering, Blaine said, “We need a grifter,” as he dropped his hands back to his sides.
“There are hundreds in this city, I’m sure.” Kurt crossed his arms over his chest.
“None of them are you.”
Kurt rolled his eyes. “Don’t be a suck up.”
“I know you gave me the Aphrodite sculpture.”
Kurt shifted, squirmed, looked everywhere except at Blaine, before saying, “I wanted to. When I got back a few weeks ago, I wanted to ask if I could join up again but I… I was worried you would hate me.”
“Kurt, of course I don’t hate you.” He resisted the urge to say, I love you, and just waited for a response.
“What kind of con are you running this time?”
“We’re still working out the logistics. I’m meeting with the client this afternoon.”
“So you’re not sure you really need a fifth.”
Blaine smiled cheekily. “Oh, I’m sure. We’re always better with you, Kurt.” When Kurt didn’t respond, he continued, “Everyone misses you. Let’s do this. Please?”
Apparently, that was all the convincing it took.
Jane Matheson was a young, gorgeous woman who was seated at Blaine’s kitchen counter, looking like she was trying not to cry. She took another deep breath—her fifth since she’d arrived—and said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Anderson. I just… I don’t know what to say.”
“It’s okay. Take your time.”
“I know you said you could help but I just don’t see how…” Another deep breath. “Everything’s so complicated.” She lifted her head and looked around the loft. “Your home is beautiful.”
“Thank you,” Blaine said quietly. On the other side of Jane, Kurt was sitting with his legs crossed, examining the woman with a careful gaze. “Why don’t you tell Kurt and I what happened.”
There were white Irises sitting in the corner of Blaine’s kitchen, a bit a homey decoration that Quinn had added when they started spending more and time in the apartment. There were other floral arrangements around, along with pictures and new bookshelves. Quinn thought that Blaine’s place was too “dark and lonely,” whatever that meant. When Jane saw the flowers on the opposite counter, she smiles.
“Blue Irises,” she said with a wet smile. “They were Mr. Franklin’s favorite.”
Choosing not to comment on the color, Blaine cleared his throat. “I’m very sorry for your loss.”
“How did you meet him?” Kurt asked.
“I run a nonprofit. We move children from foster care into adoption.” She sucked in another breath. “One day, I got a call from Mr. Franklin. He said he’d read about us in the newspaper and wanted to help. I figured he would make a donation and then that would be that, but”—she smiled hugely—“his checks kept coming, each one bigger than the last.”
Blaine nodded. “That’s not so unusual. You know, men like Franklin, the end of their lives, looking for a bit of redemption.”
“When his health started to fail, I would visit him; show him pictures of the kids he was helping. He loved it. He loved being involved.” She looked down at her hands, wringing them together. “And that’s when he told me about his will.”
Kurt looked over at Blaine pointedly. “Who is Mr. Franklin?”
“Albert Franklin,” he explained. “He was rich beyond belief. He has wings in two hospitals named after him, a building at a private college upstate, and he’s donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Ms. Matheson’s organization in the last year alone.” Jane nodded in agreement and Blaine ignored Kurt’s questioning glance, turning to the woman. “Go on.”
“A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Franklin told me that he had drafted a new will, leaving his entire estate to my charity.” A single tear trailed down her cheek and she wiped it away immediately. “I was stunned.”
“Did he ever show you the new will?”
She shook her head. “No. After that, his lawyer, Vincent Hardy, wouldn’t let anyone see him. I knew he was going to, um, pass on soon so I snuck into his room at the hospital to visit him.” Jane sniffed again and Kurt’s hand went over hers on the counter. She looked up at him gratefully. “He didn’t even know who I was. He called me Bee.” She swallowed tightly, closed her eyes briefly, and took a shuddering breath. “He’s never called me that—he knows… He knew who I was.”
“It’s all right,” Kurt told her. “Will or no will, we’ll make sure Mr. Franklin’s wishes are followed.”
“Thank you,” Jane said. “Thank you so much.”
When she was gone, the two thieves stood in the entryway of Blaine’s apartment, just looking at each other.
“I have a plan,” Blaine said finally.
“Oh, yeah? And what’s that?”
There was a pause, and then Kurt threw his head back and laughed. “Wow, you’re kidding me, right?”
“Bear with me—I mean, I don’t normally like the law, but I think, in this case, it can help her.”
Kurt shook his head immediately. “No. No way.”
“Let’s talk it over with the team at least. They get here whenever I call them.”
With a roll of his eyes, Kurt threw himself onto the couch closest to the door and put his hands under his head. “Great. I’ll wait.”
Blaine didn’t even try to hide his satisfied grin as he headed upstairs to make the call.
All five of them seated in the living room, it felt like home. It felt right. With all of them back together, they could do anything, beat anyone. And Artie, with the clicker in his hand and a picture of the wise, old Albert Franklin on the screen, was going to make sure they began the race at a comfortable sprint.
“Albert Franklin,” he said, “the late and great. He made his fortune the old fashioned way: polluting, union busting, supporting sweatshop labor, and his personal life was even worse. Drunken driving accidents, chasing women, paying off the mob.”
Quinn hummed. “So why haven’t we ever heard of him?”
“Because, to the rest of the world, Franklin was a pillar of New York society, thanks to one very hardworking lawyer, Vincent Hardy.” Artie clicked another button and a picture of Mr. Hardy appeared. He was short, stout, middle aged, and very angry-looking. Quinn frowned at the screen. “He’s a blueblood Harvard law graduate who became Franklin’s personal janitor. He paid off the cops, paid hush money, and he was rewarded, by Franklin, when he became the sole beneficiary of Franklin’s estate, in the event of his death.”
Kurt whistled. “Damn. No kids?”
“Nah.” Artie brought up the file they had on Franklin. “A couple ex-wives way, way back in the day, but Hardy’s the closest thing he has to family.”
Puck leaned back in his seat. “Guess he didn’t count on Franklin having such a giving side.”
“Yeah.” Blaine stood up. “Funny how that works.” When he was in front of the screen, he spread his hands and said, “What happens to rich people when they know the end is near, it’s amazing. And… Well, I don’t know that we have a legal angle to play here because in three days, Hardy is going to present the will in probate court and assume control of the estate and our client’s charity gets nothing.”
“Hardy was the keeper of Franklin’s secrets,” Kurt muttered, talking mostly to himself. “So that’s our way in. We need a skeleton from his closet.”
“Tons of skeletons,” Blaine agreed. “Something so scary that it makes Hardy run for his checkbook.”
Quinn raised her hand. “I can case Hardy’s office. He’ll have a safe, files locked away. I can look through those, see if there’s anything he wants to keep quiet.”
“He’s there all the time—how would we get in?”
Blaine’s face lit up within a second of the sentence leaving Artie’s mouth. His team stared at him.
“I know that look,” Puck sighed. “That’s Blaine’s idea look.”
“I,” he said with a grin, “am about to become a really terrible lawyer. Quinn, follow me.”
“So, Hardy is going to go to trial with a probate court judge tomorrow. That gives us time for me to get into his office and talk to him, and for Quinn to tackle his safe in his waiting area. His secretary’s off running errands all day.” Blaine sucked on his teeth for a moment and rolled his shoulders. “Okay. Let’s do this.” His hair was slicked back, he was wearing a tacky blue suit with a disgusting orange tie, and he was chewing gum so loudly that he was annoying even himself. Quinn, on the other hand, was dressed in plain blue jeans and a simple Coca-Cola T-shirt, dressed for comfort, mostly so that she could crawl through air ducts. “Ready?”
“Um. For what?” she asked.
He gestured to the law office in front of them. “For some of the best acting you’ve ever seen in your life. Actually, you’re not gonna be seeing any of it, just listening.” He tapped his ear. “Artie, you got the coms up?”
“Up and running.”
“Great. Quinn, to the air ducts. Artie sent the schematics to your phone so you can find the office—no one laugh at me, okay? I lived with a lawyer for years. I realize that what I’m about to do is not professional and, since we’re working off script, probably ridiculous, but if you laugh, I will hit you. Clear?”
“Crystal,” Puck said with a laugh. “I can’t wait to hear this.”
Quinn scurried off and Blaine said, “Okay, Artie, tell me what you got.”
“Skeleton number one: Hardy paid the mob to kill someone called Ben Barclay. I’m looking him up now, but I don’t really have anything on the guy. I assume he’s a danger to Hardy’s inheritance somehow.”
“Good thinking.” Blaine loosened his tie. “I’m going into the meeting. Hurry up and try to find something—you have six minutes.”
The room Blaine entered was lined with bookshelves, all filled with boring law books. Blaine recognized some of them and smirked at the thought of Daniel finding out that he was impersonating a lawyer.
He was the only one there, standing next to a table meant for Hardy, and waiting. When the other man entered, Blaine said quietly, “Showtime.”
In noticing Blaine, Hardy crossed his arms over his chest, spread his legs. It was a defensive stance. Blaine tried not to feel proud.
“Vincent Hardy,” he introduced himself.
“Timothy Combs,” Blaine told him. “Esquire.”
“Uh huh. You don’t have an appointment.”
“No. I don’t.”
Hardy arched an eyebrow. “I’d like to know who I’m dealing with.”
“Oh, of course,” Blaine said, reaching into his inside jacket pocket. He flopped a stack of papers down on the table. “Have at it, my friend.”
Hardy picked up the bundle and his eyebrows reached for the ceiling. “Timothy Combs, graduated from University of Nevada, Reno Law School, 2019. Took the Nevada bar exam… Three times.”
Sitting down, Blaine smiled sheepishly. “It was a hard test.”
“And, of course, disbarred two years ago.”
“No,” Blaine said, leaning back in his chair. “Suspended. There’s a difference.”
“What brings a suspended lawyer from Las Vegas to New York today?”
“Hmm…” With a silly smile and a waving of his pointer finger, Blaine rested his forearms on the table. “You know what? You strike me as a Harvard man.”
“Class of ’87.” Hardy radiated pride. Easy hit.
“Yes, of course.” Blaine nodded, playing impressed. “I’m wondering—sitting here, wondering what it must have been like for you, a Harvard man, to get those calls at three o’clock in morning from Albert Franklin.” He saw fear flicker in Hardy’s eyes. “A sports car wrapped around a tree?” he continued. “Another pimp with an unpaid bill? See, I like to know who I’m dealing with too, Mr. Hardy.”
Hardy’s face was stone cold. “What do you want?”
“Me? Oh, Mr. Hardy, I just want to tell you a story. A story about a man who wrote a check for fifty thousand dollars in 1992.”
“I write a lot of checks, Mr. Combs,” Hardy said, seating himself across from Blaine. “I don’t remember all of them.”
“Oh, of course! I’m sorry, I should be more specific.” His smile dropped. “We could play this game, Hardy. Or, we could start talking compensation.”
“Shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit—Blaine.” Artie’s voice in his head made Blaine look down at the table and ignore whatever it was that Hardy was saying. “No, Blaine, the check wasn’t to a Ben Barclay, that’s why I couldn’t find any connection to him and Franklin. It was to Beatrice Barclay—the signature was cut short so it looked like a shorter name. And it wasn’t a hit—no mob involved. I—man, I’m sorry, but you got nothing.”
“Blaine? Can you hear me?”
He cleared his throat.
Artie groaned. “Look, okay, fine—Beatrice Barclay was a stripper. The fake company the fifty thousand was wired through was for her to receive the funds—not for the mob to kill her.”
“Mr. Combs?” Hardy asked. “Are you all right?”
“Beatrice Barclay,” Blaine said too loudly. “Name ring a bell? Stripper? Yeah—your blueblood client, Franklin, fell in love with a stripper, didn’t he? I know what you did here.” He was talking more to himself than to Hardy then, trying to work it out in his head.
“No,” Artie argued through the com. “You don’t. But please, go on ahead.”
Hardy seemed appropriately interested in whatever it was Blaine thought he knew, so he gestured for him to continue.
Blaine, always the improviser, took what he knew, and spat out, “You sent her to Vegas with fifty thousand dollars that was laundered through a holding company.” Hardy’s expression returned to stony agitation. Blaine resisted the urge to pat himself on the back. “I bet you didn’t even tell Franklin you sent her away, did you?”
“It was for his own good,” Hardy spat. “He wanted to marry her. She was a whore. And, Mr. Combs, I will cede that it would have been a scandal, but Mr. Franklin is dead, so I’m afraid I don’t see the relevance.”
Artie coughed. “Blaine. You got relevance?”
“You don’t see the relevance?” Blaine asked, ignoring Artie. “Really?”
“Yeah, apparently he’s got relevance.”
Puck hissed, “Shut up, man. He’s on a roll.”
“Beatrice Barclay was pregnant,” Blaine announced. “That relevant to you, Mr. Hardy?”
“Artie,” Quinn said, sounding amused, “was she pregnant?”
“I don’t know!” the young man mumbled angrily. “I can’t even find her social security number! Give me five seconds! Go back to cracking your safe.”
Blaine cleared his throat and the rest of his team shut up so that he could continue with Mr. Hardy. “How would you know, right?” he asked. “She wouldn’t say anything, not when you sent her out to Vegas with that much money and a threat that she would be tossed in the river if she returned. What you have here, Mr. Hardy, is a situation where your millionaire’s natural born daughter has come out of the woodwork and wants a payout.”
He wanted to shout. He wanted to high-five himself, do a little victory dance, and then sit back and count the money, but Hardy’s self-satisfied expression made him hesitate.
“Okay. Well then where is she?”
“…where is she?”
“Yes,” Mr. Hardy said. “Where is she?”
Kurt said, “Um, Quinn, you might wanna walk the two steps away from the waiting room and over to Blaine now. We don’t need his locked-up files if we’ve got this.”
“Hey,” Quinn muttered, “good plan. Blaine?”
Blaine stood up. “Would you like to meet her now?”
“Yes,” Mr. Hardy said. “I would.”
He opened the door to the office and beckoned Quinn in, winking at her bravely. She smirked.
When Hardy saw her, he pursed his lips, taking her in.
“Mr. Hardy, may I present Susana McIntosh, born Susana Barclay.”
“What was she doing out there?”
“Waiting.” Blaine blinked. “Yes. Waiting. So that we could get all of this, y’know, um, over with. And, boy, does she clean up nice for a judge! When she starts crying about growing up without daddy—whoa.” He chuckled, clapping his hands together. “We can’t lose.”
“You’re playing me,” Hardy accused.
“Oh, really? Really? I’m playing you? Then let’s go to a judge right now—or you can strike a deal with her just like you did with her mom, only add on a few zeros.”
Mr. Hardy looked like he was considering it. Then, “No, I don’t think so.”
Blaine licked his lips, fidgeted. “Really? You’re sure? Because we’re not afraid to take this to court.”
The lawyer didn’t even blink. “Goodbye, Mr. Combs. I’ll see you in court tomorrow.”
As Quinn and Blaine headed away from the office, Artie spoke through the coms. “Okay—I’ve checked the court datebook. Your thing with Hardy is tomorrow, late afternoon, one of the last meetings of the day. And, I have literally everything on Beatrice Barclay. You’re welcome.”
“We’re on our way to the apartment. Talk to us.”
“She was three years younger than Franklin, failed her driving test twice, was colorblind, wore a size five dress, size seven shoe, and… Was pregnant.”
Blaine laughed triumphantly. “Told you.”
“What happened?” Kurt asked.
“She gave the baby up for adoption,” Artie informed them. “It was a girl.”
“And what about Beatrice?”
Artie clicked a few buttons. “Died a decade ago. Cancer.”
“How’d you know, though? That she was pregnant?”
Blaine shrugged. “Franklin had a bunch of women on the side, right? But he avoided a lot of scandal. So what made him decide to marry Beatrice over all of those women?”
“But how did you know the baby was a girl?”
“Oh. No, that was a guess.” He glanced over at Quinn and then back to on the road. “Can we find the real daughter?”
“No. The adoption records are sealed. Paper only.” He gave a heavy sigh. “Look, all of this works out really nicely for us until Hardy wants a DNA test. As high tech as I am, I can’t rewrite Quinn’s genetic code.”
“So, we just have to convince him that asking for the DNA is a bad choice.”
“And how do we do that?” Puck asked.
“We don’t. Kurt does.” He was pulling up to his apartment building as he spoke. “Quinn, go up and sort through the background check with Artie. Kurt, come downstairs. We’re gonna go back to your place, get you a suit, and run through a believable script as fast as we possibly can. We’ll take the coms out for a bit, yeah? So that we can focus? Call me if you guys need anything.”
“On my way.”
Once in the car, Kurt glanced at the other man. “So. What am I doing exactly?”
“Artie, I need you to tag the adoption record for Beatrice’s kid onto the medical records of one of Quinn’s aliases. Social security, taxes, record of anything you think is necessary. Make it so that anybody short of the CIA is gonna think it’s all as legit as it can get. Or, y’know, CIA would be nice too.”
“Kurt’s only gonna be in Hardy’s office for about two minutes and he has another hour left on his day before he packs up and goes home—that should give Hardy enough time to contact me for a settlement deal.”
“Wait,” Kurt interrupted. “What am I doing?”
Blaine grinned at him. “Being Jane’s lawyer.”
“It’s easy—put on a suit, go in his office, and say that some asshole called Timothy Combs came into your office and insisted you pay him to keep Beatrice Barclay’s daughter a secret. You suggest a DNA test, give Hardy the file Artie’s building on Quinn, and then he freaks out and suggests settling so that he can keep his money on the off chance that Quinn actually has Franklin’s DNA.”
“We won’t get the complete inheritance, though.”
“No. But we’ll go back for the rest of it.”
Kurt was quiet as they drove. Blaine shifted in his seat, suddenly all too aware of the fact that he knew nothing about Kurt’s life over the last six months. And the sculpture—what was with the sculpture? He knew it wasn’t the time to be asking questions, not with them smack dab in the middle of a con, but he couldn’t help himself.
Blaine plucked out his earbud and held his hand out for Kurt’s. Silently, Kurt gave it to him, and Blaine put them in a compartment in the dash.
“Why’d you give me Aphrodite?”
Kurt paused. “You wanted her more than I did.”
“How do you know that?”
“I could see it in your eyes.”
Blaine cleared his throat. “Thank you.”
“You could tell me why you’re so attached to it, you know.” Kurt licked his lips, stared straight ahead. “That way I might feel a little better about never seeing her again.”
“You know, though. Don’t you?” Blaine had always been pretty sure that the whole team knew. He’d run background checks on all of them when they’d joined up. He’d assumed that they had done the same.
“I’d prefer you be the one to tell me.”
Blaine didn’t speak.
“You don’t have to talk about it, though. I just… When you were using the name Andrew, I wondered—”
“Let’s not.” His voice was thick. He coughed, blinked, and continued to watch the road. “Let’s just not. I don’t talk about it. Ever. Not even with Daniel.”
He refused to look over.
“Blaine, I don’t know who Andrew is.” His voice was soft and earnest. He was telling the truth. “I never—I never researched you or anything, okay? I thought maybe Andrew was an ex or something, like Daniel. If I’d run a background search on you, don’t you think I would’ve known who Daniel was when we saw him at the Picasso job?”
Heart thumping too loudly and palms sweaty, Blaine nodded. “Andrew’s not an ex. And maybe I’ll tell you one day who he was, but I don’t really want to do it right now, okay?”
“Sure. One day.”
The next morning, Blaine rolled out of bed to find a message on his cell.
“Hello, Mr. Combs, this is Vincent Hardy. Listen, I’ll pay your settlement. I’ve texted you an address where we can meet—bring Barclay’s daughter.”
Puck listened to it when he arrived at the apartment along with the rest of the team. “I don’t like it,” he said. “It sounds like a hit.”
“That’s because it is a hit,” Blaine said. “I planted a bug in Hardy’s office when I was waiting for him and Kurt and I listened to the recording after his meeting with him yesterday. They’re gonna kill both of us and get to the courthouse to collect the estate and there’s nothing we can do.”
Quinn stared at him. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Of course I’m kidding—who do you think I am?” He rolled his eyes. “Listen, Puck, you come along with us on the meeting, take down these guys, and we’ll do this all one step at a time, yeah?”
He was met with nods from the rest of the team.
“Good. Kurt, you and Artie are gonna go to the courthouse with Jane, get her all settled in and ready to go. She trusts you. Puck, Quinn, and I will meet you there afterwards. Let’s go.”
The meet was in an abandoned parking lot, filled with gravel and surrounded by old, dead buildings.
“Appropriate,” Quinn said, looking up at the decaying structures. “I always thought if I was going to be murdered, it would be in a place like this.”
“Relax. Puck’s watching out for us. And you’re acting like you’ve never been shot at before.”
As if on cue, a shot rang out. They both dropped, listening as the glass of the front right window on the car shattered. At the second shot, the front right tire deflated. Then Puck was behind whoever was shooting—Blaine and Quinn were crouched too low to see—and they could hear the grunts and slams of skin on skin, knuckle to face, to stomach, to jaw, as Puck beat the living daylights out of the hired hit man.
Finally, they saw the guy running away, blood staining his face and hands, and when they saw Puck again, it looked like he barely had a scratch on him.
“Let’s take a cab,” Puck said gruffly, tossing the hit man’s sniper down onto the dirt after emptying it of ammunition.
“You look impressive.”
“Thanks—I do this for a living, you know.”
“Guys.” Artie’s voice rang through their earbuds. “I got Kurt to put a bug on Hardy’s phone when they met the other day. Your hit man’s calling him.”
“Yeah? Now what?” Blaine asked.
“Well—oh, ouch.” Artie made a tsk tsk tsk noise. “Your hit man is a hired cop. Hardy got the poor guy to shoot himself in the leg and then call it in to his friends—say that Quinn did it and that she was headed to the courthouse. The second she steps in that building, she’s gonna get cuffed.”
“So we’re going in disguise?”
“Looks like it.”
Blaine nodded. “Okay. Puck, get her to the courthouse, no matter what.”
“Where are you going?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll meet you there.” He hailed a cab and tossed a few twenties at the driver, rattling off the courthouse’s address. “Artie, you and Kurt at the courthouse yet?”
“Affirmative. Jane and Kurt are inside the trial room, waiting for Hardy with the judge. I’m hanging out in the lobby.”
“Give me some good news.”
“I wish I could,” Artie said, disgruntled. “I just got an APB alert. They’re really going after Quinn hard. Shooting an officer, resisting arrest—something about drugs too.”
With a groan, Blaine pulled out his phone as it started ringing. “It’s Hardy. Hold on.” He slid his finger over the screen and rolled the tension out of his shoulders. “Yeah, Hardy, your guy just tried to kill me and my—”
“My guy,” Hardy interrupted, “was making a deal with your girl when she freaked out and gunned him down.”
“That will never hold up,” Blaine argued.
“Maybe. But is she willing to bet five to ten years of her life on that?” He paused, apparently to let Blaine consider, and then said, “Combs, the smartest thing for her to do right now is crawl back to Vegas and disappear.” With that, Hardy hung up.
Blaine squirmed. “Artie, Hardy’s gonna be at the courthouse in minutes. I need you to stall him.”
“Is this a bad time to interrupt?” Puck asked. “Because the cops just noticed Quinn and we’re…running.”
Blaine closed his eyes tight. “Kurt, please tell me the judge is getting impatient.”
“Yup. She’s already asked me twice if the opposition will be attending.” He sounded pleased with himself. “But, honestly, I don’t have much of a case to present unless you get here now.”
“Aw, Kurt, all you had to do was tell me if you needed me.”
“Stop flirting,” Quinn hissed. “I’m running from the cops!”
“You say that like it’s never happened to you before.”
“You’re welcome,” Artie cut in. “Me and my imagination just set off a million alarms in the security check of the front door of the courthouse. Everyone in line got at least five keys in random pockets that will take forever to check, and oh, look at that, Hardy just walked it. I got something special for him.”
Blaine grinned. “Yeah? Like what?”
“How’s aluminum foil shaped like a gun stuffed into his briefcase when he’s distracted by the beeping?”
“I like it. Carry on.”
“Also,” Quinn said, sounding out of breath and slightly happier, “I really love stun guns.”
“I’m guessing you made it past the cops?”
“You’re guessing correctly.”
Blaine nodded in thanks at his cab driver and sprinted up the courthouse steps. “All right. Let’s do this.”
“You’re here?” Kurt asked, a nervous lilt to his voice.
“Approaching now. I’ll use the other line, slip past Hardy—he’s looking pissed, by the way. Nice job, Artie.”
“Thanks. I try. But, uh, I have a feeling that—”
“Timothy Combs,” Blaine announced as he entered the courtroom. “My apologies, your honor. There was an incident at security.”
The judge—a young woman with her hair in a studious bun and bright pink glasses perched at the end of her nose—nodded. “Take your seat, counselor.”
The door didn’t even close before Hardy was there, jogging up to his seat and collapsing, his breathing heavy. “Vincent Hardy, your honor,” he offered. “I apologize for my tardiness.”
“Very well, counselors.” She opened her arms and leaned back in her chair. “Shall we begin?”
Blaine, in his seat next to Kurt, swallowed tightly. “Quinn, forget this. I have something different for you to do.”
“Good—because there was no way I was gonna make it through security.” She locked arms with Puck. “Where are we going?”
“Kurt, you’re up. Go be a lawyer.”
His eyes widened. “Blaine.”
“C’mon. You can do this.” He smiled. “I trust you.”
Kurt’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed, but he stood nonetheless, and approached the center of the courtroom. Once Jane was on the stand, Blaine had worked things out with Quinn, and everyone on the team was appropriately dumbstruck at Blaine’s supposed plan, Kurt opened his mouth.
“Ms. Matheson, when you saw Albert Franklin last week, what was his mental state?”
“He didn’t even know who I was,” Jane said. “He kept calling me Bee.”
“How does that compare with your last visit with him two months ago?”
“Completely different.” Jane shook her head, looking distraught. “He had been frail then, but his mind was still sharp.”
Kurt glanced back at Blaine, who nodded. “Thank you,” he said to Jane. And then, to the judge, “No further questions, your honor.”
She nodded. “Mr. Hardy, your witness.”
The grey-haired man stood, buttoned his jacket, and leaned over his table. “These are Albert Franklin’s medical records, which have been entered into evidence. They state that he was declared incompetent over two years ago. Isn’t it true, Ms. Matheson, that even if you could produce this new will, which you can’t, it would have been the product of a man deep in the throes of dementia?”
“No,” Jane said insistently. “He was fine. He—he was perfectly fine. Happy, even.”
Hardy smirked. “Unfortunately, Ms. Matheson, your opinion is not relevant. I rest, your honor.”
Blaine stood. “Your honor, I represent Mr. Franklin’s missing heir. If I may…?”
She nodded. “Proceed, counselor.”
“I’d like to offer into evidence, your honor, these papers that show Mr. Hardy made a payment to a woman named Beatrice Barclay. The woman who, I contend, bore Mr. Franklin’s child.” He picked up the folder sitting next to Kurt, who grabbed his wrist and whispered, “You can’t pretend to practice law, Blaine. This is idiotic.”
Blaine smirked. “Stick around. I’m gonna practice medicine too.”
“Your theory is ridiculous, Blaine. She’s not—”
“Kurt.” His eyes bore into the other man’s. “Trust me.”
Kurt released his hold on Blaine’s wrist and nodded. “Okay.”
“Your honor,” Hardy said when Blaine handed the judge the documents, “this ambulance chaser came into my office, spinning the exact same fairytales, but I only have one question. Where’s the girl?”
Blaine nodded at the judge. “I could produce her, your honor, if you just allow me to ask the witness one question.”
“One question,” she said. “Just one.”
With echoing footsteps, Blaine stepped in front of the stand and looked Jane straight in the eye. “Ms. Matheson, what is the color of my tie?”
She looked at him with questioning eyes. “I don’t know. I’m colorblind.”
Blaine could hear Quinn gasp through the coms. “Shit, Blaine. You were right.”
“It happens occasionally,” Puck grumbled.
“Your honor.” Blaine stepped back into the center of the room and grabbed a folder off of Hardy’s desk. “What I have here—these are the medical records for Albert Franklin, which Mr. Hardy was kind enough to enter into evidence.” He winked at Hardy before turning back to Jane. “Mr. Franklin was colorblind, wasn’t he?” He walked back over to the table Kurt was seated at and picked up the file Artie had gotten for them earlier. “This is Beatrice Barclay’s record—which states, on her application for a driver’s license, that she was colorblind.
“Now,” he continued, pacing slowly, “it’s rare for a woman to be colorblind, yes? It takes a colorblind father and a colorblind mother to produce a child who is colorblind.”
Jane’s eyes widened. “Are you…? Are you saying that I’m Albert Franklin’s daughter?”
Blaine shrugged. “It’s no coincidence that you started a program to help foster kids get adopted, isn’t that correct, Ms. Matheson? You did that because you were adopted yourself, weren’t you?” She didn’t respond, and Blaine continued. “Yes. In 1994. You were two years old, the state of Nevada.”
Stunned, she nodded. “Yes. That—that’s correct.”
“And the last time you saw Albert Franklin, he called you by a different name. What was it?”
“Um. Bee. Bee—he called me Bee.”
“Short for Beatrice, no doubt?” Blaine met Jane’s gaze evenly, trying to comfort her, be gently. “That’s who he was looking at when he saw you that day, Jane. The spitting image of your mother, the love of his life.”
Jane, mouth open, eyes wide, stared at him as he backed away and looked up towards the judge.
“Your honor, Albert Franklin didn’t call Ms. Matheson out of the blue to donate to her charity. He called her because he searched for her—he searched for his long lost daughter.”
“I move to strike Mr. Combs’ evidence from the record, your honor,” Hardy said in his booming voice, but it did nothing to break the spell over the courtroom. Everyone was transfixed. “His evidence is circumstantial and I have not had adequate time to review these outlandish claims.”
Kurt stood up. “I agree with Mr. Hardy, your honor.” Blaine spun around, glaring at him with a question in his eyes. “I would also like to order a DNA test, to put to rest any doubt that Ms. Matheson is Mr. Franklin’s daughter.” She smiled over at Jane. “The truth will win out.”
The judge cleared her throat. “Motion granted. When we get the results, I expect I will be rewarding Ms. Matheson the Franklin estate.” She lifted her gavel and the spell broke as she cracked it down. “We’re adjourned.”
Quinn appeared then, sliding right up next to Hardy.
“Hi, there,” she said with a sweet smile. “Sorry I’m late. I was just at your office, clearing out your safe.” Hardy’s face pinched up, his jaw clenched, and Blaine felt ridiculously pleased. “Wow,” Quinn continued. “That was a lot of dirt. Gave them to your special cop friend. The one who you made shoot himself? Yeah—he was happy to get those, especially since now you can’t pay him off with the money from the Franklin estate.”
“So, you should probably run. The cops will be on their way.”
With one last glare, Hardy rushed out of the courtroom, Quinn and Blaine watching him go. Kurt appeared at his side, elbowing him gently. “So. You were right.”
“I’m pretty smart sometimes, don’t you think?”
With a smile, Kurt nodded. “Yeah. Sometimes.”
Blaine blinked at him. “You wanna go get a drink?”
“Are you still doing that? Drinking, I mean.”
“Occasionally. I… I tried being a sober criminal, a sober honest man, a drunken honest man, and then a drunken criminal, so now I’m balancing both of them and seeing what happens.”
Kurt bumped him with his hip. “Yeah, let’s go get that drink.”
“Wait.” Blaine grabbed his elbow. “Kurt. Now that the con’s over—I have to ask if you’re staying.”
“Do you want me to?”
“You know the answer to that.”
He swallowed thickly. Blaine watched his throat move. “Are you sure it hasn’t changed? Are you sure that nothing—nothing else—has changed?”
Blaine blinked at him and his gaze fell to Kurt’s lips. “I want you to stay, Kurt. I’ll always want you to stay.”
“Okay.” Kurt slipped his elbow down so that Blaine’s arm was looped in his. “So? A drink?”
Blaine smiled. “A drink.”