AN: So, here's the first sequel to Leaves of Trust. I guess this can stand alone but I think it's a good idea to read Leaves of Trust first. For those of you wondering: I have no plans on turning this into slash, but how you read it is up to you I guess.
Obviously I own nothing, I'm just playing with borrowed toys.
Eliot leaves the car on the road just out of sight from his house, allowing a quick escape if needed. He can see a light is on in his kitchen, and he knows for a fact he didn't leave it that way. The knife that slides into his hand as he's closing up on his driveway feels like an extension of his coiled muscles, all prepared to fight.
His alarm was triggered over an hour ago, but he hadn't been able to get away from the BrewPub. Now he's looking at two options. One; it might have been regular, but stupid, burglars. That is okay, Eliot can deal with that, they should be gone by now anyhow. Or two; whoever tripped the alarm know exactly whose house they have entered and will try to kill him. If he lives they will all have to leave Portland, if he doesn't…
Let's just say he left the vacationing Hardison and Parker a message saying to go straight underground and not come back to look for him. In his defense he did try to reach the couple beyond their voicemails, but neither of them is picking up and even Hardison's ear buds have a maximum range.
Being who he is Eliot's got plenty of exit routes from his house, but entry is – purposely - trickier. The only doors that open from the outside are the bay door to the garage and the front door. Not very tactical choices. There is however a small basement window, hidden by plenty of greenery and protected by false bars, that he has prepared for situations like these. It's a bit of a trick to open it soundlessly but that's the point.
Landing on light feet on the basement floor Eliot listens for any sounds, but the house seems quiet. He gives his eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness before starting up the stairs.
The old Eliot would have left town without looking back, never setting foot in this house again. The new Eliot doesn't want to force his paranoia on his friends, nor does he want to make them leave the lives they have built here. This new nostalgia of his might very soon become his death, but Eliot can't – or maybe won't – do much about it. Going back to how things were before Leverage is no longer an option, he'd hopefully kill himself before becoming that man again.
The light in the kitchen can mean anything regarding the placement on the intruder. Chances are high it's a trap; either to make him think someone's in there, or to trick him that's the last place they'll be. After a split second of deliberation Eliot decides to check the kitchen first. Peeking around the doorframe he keeps one eye closed to guarantee not all of his night vision will be lost.
"Is this how you greet all your guests?" Dean Winchester is grinning at Eliot from his position by the hitter's kitchen table. The man is sitting on his chair backwards, hunched over his arms on the back rest and nursing a beer that Eliot's certain comes from his fridge. Two more bottles sits empty on the table in front of him.
Eliot relaxes his stance and lowers his knife. Winchester doesn't seem inclined to attack him, and as far as Eliot's concerned they left on good terms. It is however a bit surprising to find Dean in his kitchen like this. They hadn't been enemies, but Eliot would never go so far as to call them friends.
"What are you doing here Winchester?" The question is voiced roughly, but Eliot is annoyed and tired. He's been managing the kitchen in the BrewPub all day, whereof the last hour has been spent obsessing about who might be in his house. Now all that anxious energy won't even get an outlet in a good fight.
"Figured you owed me a beer." Dean waves the bottle. "For knocking me out, taking me hostage and what not." The answer screams lie to Eliot and he's considering picking a fight with Dean just for the hell of it.
Before he can do anything stupid he crosses to the garage door to disable the alarm. Opening it he finds the Impala sitting on the other side, it's still wet from the rain. When the red light turns to green he moves back into the kitchen and grabs the last beer from the fridge. Even from a distance his intruder reeks of smoke, and not the cigarette kind. Eliot hopes Dean isn't using his home to hide from the police after arson or something.
"Bullshit." As Eliot speaks he turns from to study Dean. The man looks beat, even more exhausted than Eliot feels, and the ever-present smile does nothing to hide it.
"Whatever man." Dean stands stiffly and Eliot thinks he must be hurt some way. "I can tell I'm not welcome. You have a pleasant evening now."
Eliot is fed up. The fake smiles, the quiet suffering and the constant avoidance of any truthful conversation is grating at his frayed nerves. He wants answers dammit.
"Sit down." The words are threatening but as Dean lowers himself back on the chair he looks resigned rather than worried. "What are you doing here?" Dean looks away.
"Don't tell me I'll have my house surrounded by feds in a few minutes." Dean shakes his head at that, and Eliot catches a glimpse of his face. It's enough to calm his anger considerably.
There hadn't been time to name the emotion displayed, but it might have been shame, or hopelessness. Eliot can relate, almost too much. It bothers him how easy it is for him to read the other man. What's even worse is how he feels himself letting things slide when it comes to Dean. Usually he would keep on pressing until he got his answer, but not met with this. It reminds him too much of himself.
"The other's can't hear you. They're sitting on a paradise beach sipping drinks." Eliot has no idea what made him give Dean that information.
"You weren't invited? Dude, that sucks." Dean's looking at Eliot again, clearly glad for the distraction.
"I was." Eliot offers. "I just don't like beaches." It's true, he doesn't. Or rather he doesn't like gallivanting around in nothing but swim trunks while lots of random people stare at his impressive collection of scars. There's a line for how much he's willing to share with Dean though.
The beer is finished and Eliot can use something for distraction so he walks into the living room and brings a bottle of bourbon from the shelf there. On the way back he notices dark stains on the back of Dean's shirt.
After pouring a liberal amount of spirits in a pair of glasses Eliot leaves the bottle on the table and sits down opposite Dean. He doesn't mention the injured back. The man's a grown up, if he wants help he can ask for it. Eliot is already far more accommodating towards Dean than he usually is with anyone, and the two of them can't even be considered friends. They're hardly acquaintances, this being the second time they meet.
It's not the first time that Eliot's wants someone to speak, and that person is uncooperative. However the difference with Dean is that Eliot can bet that he actually wants to tell his host what he's around for, otherwise the man would've left already. As such the hitter's usual interrogation techniques is luckily not needed. Eliot doubt's he could have used them on Dean anyway. In this situation all Eliot should have to do is wait and keep his focus on Dean. Not many people can stand silence for very long, and he doubts that Dean is one of them.
When Dean smirks and is clearly about to spew out some annoying comment Eliot simply raises his eyebrow. To his pleasant surprise Dean keeps his mouth shut. It takes five minutes before Dean gives off an annoyed sigh.
"You're the worst host ever." Clearly Dean only starts with an insult to cover the fact that he lost the staring contest. "I just needed a favor."
"What?" Eliot can already guess the answer, but he's damned to make Dean say it.
"You've seen my back." It's not a question, but neither is it completely true. Eliot's only seen the blood stains on the man's shirt. "Hospitals tend to be a bad idea for assumed dead murderers." Dean doesn't even seem to have the energy to be irritated any longer.
"There are places that don't ask questions." Eliot's been a patient at those establishments himself once or twice.
"I bet there is." Dean's obviously never heard of them. "You think they'll take a fake credit card and a hundred dollars earned playing pool for payment?" This time the smile isn't meant to look real.
"And you have so few friends that the guy who stabbed you, broke your ribs, knocked you out and abducted you is your best choice?" As soon as the words have left his mouth Eliot regrets them. "What about Charlie?" He tries to cover with the one buddy he knows Dean has.
"She'd just faint. She's more cyber-hero than actual Rambo." Eliot's first question remains unanswered but he has a sneaking feeling the rest are all dead.
"What'd you do?" It feels easier to steer the conversation back onto the practical stuff.
"This asshole blew out a window right behind me, totally wrecked my jacket and did a number on my back. I won though, he won't bother anyone anymore." A cocky grin spreads on Dean's face, and Eliot combines it with the smell of fire in his kitchen.
"Don't tell me you burnt down a house with people in it." Eliot's voice is definitely not weak, or so he tells himself. If Dean's able to smile like that after arson they should've given him to the police. Eliot should know, he had once burnt a whole family alive and those screams… Even the man he had been then had cringed at the sound.
"Whoa cowboy, hold your horses. There was nothing human in that house." Dean's shock seems genuine enough.
A taped confession springs to Eliot's mind. Hardison had found it in Dean's file the day after their confrontation and had shown it to the team. It was almost eight years old and showed Dean giving a fake confession to allow for his brother to break out. The cocky kid on that tape had spoken of ghosts and monsters. 'There was nothing human in that house.'
"You really do believe in ghosts, don't you?" The question's out before Eliot can stop himself. Dean shrugs and looks Eliot straight in the eye.
"And then some." No lie can be detected in Dean's face. "You don't?"
"No." Eliot almost wishes he did believe though. It would be easier than the knowledge of what humans willingly do to each other.
Hardison and Parker had formed a vigilante theory about the Winchesters, based on the timeline in Dean's file. Crimes happen, the Winchesters show up, the crimes stop and the brothers move on. Maybe Dean's way of dealing with the evil in humans is to see it as the works of something supernatural. What worries Eliot in that case is how he tells the difference, who qualify as a monster?
Not up for a belief discussion that none of them can win Eliot trudges on. Dean's here for a reason after all, and since Eliot can't make himself believe that Dean is evil he will help him. He really is getting too soft in his old age, and his bad conscience after the friend comment earlier isn't helping.
"Let's see your back then." Eliot rise to close the curtains.
Dean gives a wicked grin as he's unbuttoning his shirt. "Now what are your neighbors going to think about you Spencer? Shutting them out as an incredibly hot man gets undressed in your kitchen."
"They can think whatever they want, as long as they don't know I'm the field medic for a wanted murderer." The answer shuts Dean up so effectively that Eliot allows himself a small twitch of his lips before turning away from the last window.
Cleaning up Winchester's back is slow work. Most of the shards are small, and they haven't penetrated that deep, but they need to be removed. The three bigger ones are in a way easier to get out, but it's a fine line if the gashes they leave behind need stitches or not. Eliot decides they don't. If he puts stitches in Dean's back someone will have to remove them, and no matter his current hospitality Eliot's not interested in having Dean hanging around his house more than necessary.
To Dean's defense he doesn't put up a fight when Eliot gives him a local anesthesia before starting on the worst places, and as a concession Eliot uses it only there. The areas around the cuts are red and swollen, even before Eliot starts poking around, and he hopes that it hasn't been long enough for the possible infection to have reached Dean's blood stream.
Seventeen pieces of glass later Dean forces Eliot to rinse the wounds with holy water before he applies the antiseptics. It's a stupid idea, increasing the risk for infection even more considering the stale water, but Eliot doesn't have the energy to cause a fight about it. The water is colored pink from old and new blood as it's soaked up by the towel Eliot's placed on the floor beneath Dean's chair.
It takes almost a full bottle of antiseptics before Eliot's confident he's done as much as can be done to stave off infection. Waiting for it to dry Eliot stands to throw away the trash and Dean flexes his back contentedly. Two of the cuts that have just stopped bleeding reopen and send a pair of crimson trickles down the back.
"Don't. Do. That." Eliot feels like he's scolding a kid.
"Do what? This?" Dean rolls his shoulders again and a third trickle appears. Eliot can hear the cursed smile even without seeing it.
"Idiot." It leaves Eliot mumbled, and might sound more like idjit, but its meaning can't be mistaken. Out of the corner of his eye Eliot sees Dean stiffen momentarily at the word. The man's expression hasn't changed but Eliot knows he hit a nerve somehow, that the word held some special meaning he hadn't been aware of. At the very least it keeps Dean from aggravating his back further.
Applying a few butterfly strips and a bunch of compresses over the lacerations takes next to no time considering the job Eliot's already done. Dean throws the ruined shirt in the thrash and disappears out to his car to get another one. When he returns he stops in the doorway, leaning against the frame with crossed arms.
"I'll be going then." It's the first words the man has said since Eliot's idiot-comment and there's something behind them that Eliot can't interpret. "Thanks." Dean continues. "I owe you one."
There's something indeterminately vulnerable about Dean right then. Truthfully, Eliot isn't sure if it's actually there or if he's reading too much into the other man. What he does know is that he doesn't want to drive the man away just yet.
"You hungry?" Eliot asks. "I sure could use something to eat." In fact he's already had dinner but he'll eat again if it means Dean don't get behind the wheel with that look in his eyes.
"You know you're supposed to do dinner before the getting undressed part, right?" A ghost of the cheeky grin is back on Dean's face and Eliot counts it as a victory. However, he doesn't lower himself to responding to the comment.
As Eliot throws together a quick omelet Dean's back in his chair and is working his way through a full glass of bourbon. Eliot demonstratively puts a pitcher of water on the table along with their plates.
"What?" Dean questions. "Doctors use alcohol to prevent infections. I'm just continuing your cleaning work." Eliot puts the bottle back in the living room before taking a seat. "You're even worse than Sam." Dean mutters.
If Eliot sets the plates down with more force than necessary it's not an accident. "Eat." He says, and it's weird how he can care even one bit about someone as annoying as Winchester.
"Such tableside manners, you and Gordon Ramsay should become buddies." Dean foregoes his knife and splits his omelet with the fork.
"Yeah, 'cause shouting obscenities at people is the way to make them perform." The sarcasm is clear in Eliot's voice.
"How do you know if you haven't tried?" Some normalcy is beginning to resurface in Dean's demeanor.
Eliot shrugs. "I've been in armies." Dean knows enough about his past that Eliot lets the word slip out in the plural it's supposed to be in. "Let's just say I've seen enough bad examples." There's also the little detail of Eliot not wanting to be reminded of his days under command more than necessary, and especially not in the kitchen. Not that Dean will be hearing that.
If the dinner had been between two regular acquaintances Dean would have followed up the comment with the question if Eliot did run a kitchen somewhere. They would have chatted about the BrewPub until Eliot switched the subject to the Impala or something similar, leaving Dean in the spotlight. It would have been polite, and maybe slightly impersonal, but it was how people behaved.
As it is; neither of them have energy enough to bother with pleasantries and Eliot thinks that maybe it doesn't matter. If you've started the evening with breaking and entering and then moved on to cleaning wounds and applying compresses it might be okay to eat mostly in silence.
The omelet turned out okay, it's not up to Eliot's usual standards by far but to his defense it's past midnight. He might not sleep much but he tries to spend the tranquil night hours resting in what way he can. Not that cooking can't be relaxing, but then it's more slowly simmering stews where he has the time to go through each step meticulously. There's nothing resting about throwing together flimsy omelets for unwanted guests with dark looks in their eyes.
Judging from the scraped-clean state of Dean's plate he at least enjoyed the food, and Eliot thinks it might not have been a complete waste of ingredients. As he puts away the dishes he can hear the sound of tearing paper and the click of a ballpoint. Turning around he finds Dean pinning a piece of an envelope on his fridge. Just in case it says, with a phone number scribbled underneath.
"If you ever need that favor, or just find yourself needing my expertise." The statement is followed by the mandatory grin. Eliot wants to hit Dean in the face for it.
"Whatever." It's not a thank you but it's not a punch in the face either so Winchester should be grateful.
"See you around then sunshine." Dean disappears into the garage. Eliot can't bring himself to follow him, even if civility dictates he should. Instead he stands in the kitchen as the car comes to life and the garage door opens. Not until the usual night silence has reigned for quite some time does Eliot finish the dishes and prepares to go to bed.
AN: That's it for this time, Dean's left and Eliot needs some sleep. I have other sequels planned but I'll need to work out the details and then put them in writing before I can post them.