Life after their first real job was pretty normal, even though sometimes they were hit with a wave of smug satisfaction. Bobbi and Raoul teased them about having a secret crush, since they were smiling so much. Jamie didn’t exactly correct that rumour, because they couldn’t very well explain ‘I broke into this guy’s office and now he’s behind bars for fucking over poor people’. Still, sometimes they got to share a knowing look with Eliot in the kitchen and that was enough.
At least, life went back to normal until they checked if their Brewpub salary was in yet. For some reason, their first thought was to wipe their phone with their sleeve, as if the numbers on the screen were some kind of smudge or dust. Then they tried shaking it. The numbers stayed the same. So they wandered over to where Hardison was working, photoshopping what appeared to be Eliot and Parker getting married at a Las Vegas Elvis Themed Drive Thru Wedding Venue. Jamie assumed it was for a future job, but who knew. The man had some weird hobbies.
“Hmm?” He did not look up, instead focussing on adding an extra inch to Parker’s already dangerously high-looking hair.
“Why am I suddenly rich enough to buy a yacht?”
That did get his attention. He looked up, beaming that sunshine smile of his. “That’s your Leverage money.”
“Is this that alternate revenue stream everyone keeps going on about?” they asked. Honestly, Jamie had thought that was just something they told clients. Because ‘we’re criminals with incredible caches of stolen goods and ill-gotten money across the globe from our lives of crime, we just do this for fun’ would probably scare people off.
“I… may have made some investments for you,” Hardison said, in the least convincing humble-brag ever. He was nearly wriggling out of his seat with excitement and glee.
“Some investments?” Jamie echoed, unbelieving. There was a deposit for five hundred thousand dollars in their bank account. As well as the wages for their Brewpub hours, of course, because Hardison was never late with those. “Wait, why the hell have I been washing dishes all week if I had this in my bank account?”
“Because Eliot will give you his ‘I’m not mad, I’m disappointed’ look if you don’t?” Hardison pointed out. Which, dammit Hardison, he was right. Instead of admitting that, though, Jamie stood up to grab their bag and shove their feet into their shoes. “Wait, where are you going?” Hardison sounded vaguely concerned as they headed over to the door.
“To get one of those extra-large Oreo cupcakes from the hipster bakery I told myself I couldn’t afford!” Jamie called out. Which they were going to do. While also clearing their head and having a mild freak out, probably. It would be rude to do so in front of Hardison, because you didn’t make the dude who just casually wired you 500k feel bad about it. But they kind of needed to freak out.
On some level, Jamie had known that the team was rich. Parker talked about her money like it was a bff she sometimes hung out with (and this being Parker, who knew, maybe she did). Hardison, of course, owned a brewpub that really couldn’t be operating at a profit with the prices they asked for food and the expenses they made. And Eliot, while he wasn’t flashy, did have the best and highest quality of the stuff he found important. That knife set he had was probably worth more than everything Jamie owned put together.
Also, there was the fact that they’d taken in a homeless teenager without apparently blinking at the costs. Jamie knew they were extremely lucky in many ways, and that never having to worry about asking for something they needed was one of them.
It’s not like they were ever really poor-poor, before. Just that kind of two income household where one or two minor setbacks could completely wipe out any savings type of poor. The kind of poor where they never went hungry, really, but asking of brand name shoes was out of the question. Hell, asking for brand name cereal was a joke. The kind of poor where you pretended ValueMore orange juice was just as good as the stuff you saw in commercials on TV.
Then of course, they’d had their stint of homelessness, which had been its own kind of nightmare. They had been hungry then. And cold. And then somehow, they’d ended up in this fucked up little criminal found family straight out of their favourite ‘everyone lives together in Avengers Tower’ fanfiction.
But they’d never really expected money like that of their own. Honestly, they hadn’t really thought that far ahead at all. Not for a long while. Their parents had kind of proven that nothing in life was certain, and you couldn’t really rely on anyone but yourself. Long term plans and goals had been on the back burner as they focussed on the basics: food, shelter, not getting caught by CPS. And then, on life at the Brewpub, learning everything they could, while making a little money on the side and putting some away just in case.
On some level, Jamie knew that Parker, Hardison, and Eliot wouldn’t throw them out. And not even just in a ‘they know too much’ kind of way. They cared, and they accepted Jamie for who they were. Even the angry, spiteful parts of them. Jamie also knew that if they asked, the team would bankroll any college or university education they wanted, even if the end goal was a Normal Person Job. They already took some online classes, but that was more because breaking into museums with Parker was more fun with some art history knowledge under their belt.
They didn’t think they wanted a normal job anymore, though. They enjoyed the whole School Of Crime thing they had going on. They enjoyed learning things that felt a little dangerous, a little forbidden, and a whole lot cool. And they really, really enjoyed watching rich, powerful assholes face consequences for once in their entire lives.
And apparently, that came with more than just getting to participate in The Gloat. That came with a casual 500k in their bank account on a Friday afternoon.
They wouldn’t have to worry about being kicked out anymore. Sure, they were still underage, but with that much money, surely they could find a motel to stay at with someone who could be bribed to look the other way. They didn’t have to worry about medical bills, or buying new shoes, or hell, technically they could probably buy a house with that money.
So why the hell were they freaking out so much? It wasn’t like this was ‘get the hell out of our house’ money. It was ‘hey you’re part of our little criminal Avengers Team and here’s your cut’ money. It was just… a lot of zeroes. They pondered it over, checking and rechecking their bank account on the way.
After going to the Overpriced Hipster Bakery and buying one of everything they had ever seen in the window and told themselves they couldn’t afford, they stopped by Parker’s favourite donut place and did the same. By the time they’d made their way back to the brew pub, they had consumed one large Vegan Oreo Cupcake, a pumpkin spice iced coffee, a maple cream pastry, and an oatmeal cookie the size of their head. They were actually vaguely nauseous, and they weren’t sure if that was because of the pastries, or because it had just sunken in how much money five hundred thousand dollars was.
That was how Eliot found them, sitting at the table, staring at their phone, surrounded by baked goods. They couldn’t even muster up the worry about his probably upcoming rant about bringing that much sugar into the house. They just pushed a not-overly-sweet carrot cupcake with perfect cream cheese frosting in his direction. He stared at it, suspicious, before swiping his finger through the frosting, tasting, and nodding in approval.
“Did you break one of Parker’s rigs?” he asked, sitting down next to them and gently peeling the adorably bunny-themed paper away from the cupcake. Which was a fair assumption, because a table full of mostly chocolate-y goodness did kind of scream peace offering slash please-don’t-kill-me directed at Parker. Maybe they should put some of this stuff away before she got back.
Instead of answering, they passed Eliot their phone. The obscenely large number on their bank account app hadn’t changed.
“Dammit, Hardison,” Eliot shouted out in the direction of Hardison’s office.
“Did… did Hardison add too many zeroes?” Jamie asked, cautiously. That might explain it. Maybe they had like, all of the Leverage International slush fund sitting in their bank account.
Hardison made his way down the hall to them, scoffing at the remark. “Excuse me? Did I add too many zeroes? You think I’d make that kind of typo? I am extremely good at what I do, I’ll have you kn-oooh, donuts!” He dove for one of those donuts, with crunched up Oreos on top, and bit into it. Eliot scowled.
“You don’t just throw five hundred thousand dollars at a teenager without warning and expect it to go well,” he scolded the hacker, who was more focussed on catching the crumbs from his donut than the very angry hitter in front of him. “It’s irresponsible! No offense, kid,” he added, voice immediately softening when he spoke to Jamie.
Jamie shrugged and waved at the table full of baked goods. “I mean, clearly you’re right,” they agreed.
“I see no problem with this,” Hardison said, taking another bite of the donut, his other hand already reaching out for one of the cookies. Eliot smacked the back of his hand, before grabbing his wrist and pulling him close, their noses almost touching.
“You are going to sit down,” Eliot… well, menaced, basically. “And you are going to walk them through setting up some safe off-shore accounts and savings.” He gave Jamie an encouraging smile. “We’ll talk about drop boxes with Parker later.”
So Hardison grabbed his laptop and sits down with them. “Sorry, I thought it would be a fun surprise,” he apologised, slightly sheepish. “Parker agreed with me.” Which should have been his first inkling that maybe he should rethink that plan, because Parker and money had a weird, weird relationship.
“It’s five hundred thousand dollars, Hardison,” Jamie said. “A fun surprise is like, a nice crisp hundred dollar bill in the tip jar. Five hundred thousand dollars is me worrying I need to get an accountant and a will.” At Hardison’s face, they squinted. “Hardison, do I already have a will?”
“Technically, everyone at Leverage Inc. does,” he said, awkwardly rubbing the back of his head like he only just realised that drafting someone a will without their knowledge was incredibly creepy. “Eliot insisted. All your money would go to your favourite charities. Also, you don’t need an accountant, I fix literally everyone’s taxes.”
His eyes glazed over a little as he stared into the distance, and suddenly Jamie realised that all those late nights he spent on his computer working on aliases made a lot more sense. They’d heard the story about how Hardison’s aliases were so good they got jury duty. They couldn’t imagine what tax season was like, even if he was just hacking into the IRS to pretend all their aliases had done and paid their taxes correctly.
They spent the rest of the afternoon setting up different bank accounts in non-extradition types of countries. Most of the money was put into an account in San Lorenzo. Probably just so Jamie would stop freaking out about the big number on their ‘normal person’ bank account. A nice chunk was directed to their savings account, which made all their previous attempts at saving look cute but pathetic. Still, Hardison commended them for it. They didn’t have the heart to tell him that was their ‘in case you guys kick me out’ fund.
They got their first shell corporation. Enby Enterprises had a spectacularly vague entry in the chamber of commerce and a tasteful logo with a yellow, white, purple and black colour scheme. At Jamie’s request Hardison wrote them a program that would automatically deposit the same amount as their Brewpub paycheque from Enby Enterprises to their account every month.
A bunch of money was earmarked for Eliot and Parker’s Drop Box Lecture later on, Hardison explained, and then the last twenty thousand, he refused to do anything with. “That’s your fun money,” he said.
“Hardison ,” Jamie ground out, sounding more like Eliot every passing second. “I can’t just have twenty thousand dollars to throw around.”
“Why not?” Hardison asked. “Not every job is going to pay out this much. It’s really only when we go after the really big companies, there are plenty of sleazebags who don’t work at Fortune 500 companies.” And honestly, the thought of getting another payout like this hadn’t even registered yet. Hardison saw the look on their face and laughed, promising them that next time there wouldn’t be a surprise yacht worth of money in their regular account, but that they’d sit down together and go over everything, until Jamie had the hang of it.
So, what did you do with a sudden windfall and the promise of lots more coming from doing something you would probably do for free because the criminals that housed you gave you free food and a bed and a normal job already? Clearly, going crazy and buying one of everything that sounded good at two different bakeries wasn’t a sustainable option.
Instead, they took out their phone, ignored the urge to check their banking app again, and started to make a list. They still wanted to put money aside for emergencies. They’d make themselves a college fund, and a retirement fund or a 401k or something mature like that. Maybe invest money in some green initiatives or something. They should probably start saving for a house, or several. Maybe even in different countries, like they were Tony Stark or something. Or like the mysterious Sophie and Nate the team kept talking about.
They had a feeling that after the Dropbox Lecture, Parker would probably give them a ‘buying random real estate to throw people off your trail is smart and living in a giant empty warehouse with a thousand creepy dolls is a valid life choice’ lecture. She didn’t really live at the warehouse anymore. Jamie was pretty sure she mostly kept it because Hardison and Eliot wouldn’t allow her to move the army of Baby Joy-Rages into the apartment. And so she’d have somewhere to set up the laser obstacle course she’d been having Jamie practice with. But the secret base thing was probably a good idea.
They made a list of their favourite charities that they could set up recurring monthly donations to. Then they went through their social media and made a list of their favourite artists and creators with online shops, commissions, patreons, and donation buttons. They added a subheading about checking individual fundraising pages for people struggling as well. There was a blogger that did a round-up every week, they could use that as a jumping off point.
And then, at the bottom of the list, they added a little section called ‘charity trolling’. With great power comes great responsibility, Hardison liked to echo, and they also knew that drawing too much attention to themselves was a big no-no. But they couldn’t just not use their newfound riches to both do good in the world and get some quality laughs in. So they decided to knock off an item every few months or so, just to be chill about it. Also, so they could have the time to enjoy their nonsense to the fullest.
Some of their first ideas were pretty simple. There was that zoo that allowed you to name a cockroach after someone you hated, so they could get the team one named Sterling. Jamie was sure they’d get a kick out of that. Number two was e-mailing the local animal shelter how much they would have to donate for a promise to name the next extremely grumpy looking stray that came in Eliot.
There were the old classics, like donating vaccines in name of anti-vaxxers and to LGBTQ charities in name of phobic politicians. Donating to a fund to buy former hate church buildings to make them into community centres for the things they hated most.
Then they wrote down some more out-there ideas, that would require a little more research. A memorial bench at the park where Hardison had once fallen into the duck pond because he’d been too busy arguing with Jamie about which Doctor was the best Doctor to look where he was going. (They may have not warned him about it because he had been So Wrong he deserved it.) A scholarship for Eliot’s friend’s cooking school called the ‘Mr. Punchy Scholarship for Excellence’. They wondered how much it would cost to get a raccoon rehabilitation centre named after Parker’s favourite dumpster raccoons, Hardy Junior and Professor Trashmouth.
With their list done for now, they looked at all the small ways they could make a big difference in the world. And suddenly, the idea of all that money wasn’t so daunting anymore.