A/N: Nothing really bad happens in this fic, but there's definitely whump. Caution.

Nate and Sophie were still paying attention to the screens when the door opened behind them, but Parker turned in her seat. Hardison tried to stay on task with his presentation, but when he saw Parker staring at the door, he looked up, about to voice a complaint about her lack of focus. Then, they were both just kind of watching as Eliot walked in. Well, he was nearly limping, really. There was a cut at his temple where there was a long, ugly, colorful bruise. He had a black eye and a split lip to match, and there was cloth wrapped around his left wrist like a makeshift splint.

Ignoring the younger pair's stares, he sat in his usual seat and looked at the screens, waiting for the presentation to continue. At this point, Nate and Sophie were paying attention.

"You okay, Eliot?" Nate asked skeptically.

Eliot huffed and jerked his head toward Hardison, clearly more interested in hearing about the new mark than sharing.

"O-... okay. Um." Hardison hesitated, then continued his little speech.

Nate had given Eliot a back-burner role on this con. If anything went wrong, he could step in; otherwise, he was to stay in the van with Hardison and supervise. Definitely Nate's way of punishing Eliot for refusing to explain himself. Bastard.

"Hey, man," Hardison said quietly after muting the comms. He stayed facing the screens though, not putting any pressure on the guarded guy beside him. "Uh, everything okay?"

Eliot just continued watching the screens attentively, watching in case anyone made a move on their teammates. Even the mastermind was out there working the con, and the hitter - whose job it was to be out there as active backup - was stuck in here. He almost snarled at the thought.

"It's just, you was late today, and you got those... I mean, I'd hate to see the other guy." The hacker chuckled humorlessly. "Must've been some fight."

"Yeah," Eliot replied quietly. Not meekly, Hardison decided, the hitter just sounded a little weary. Like he'd had this conversation in his head a hundred times.

"So, like, I know you've got this whole man of mystery thing going and all, but Nate's worried that something's going on, that we could be in danger. And I'm worried cuz you're my friend. I mean, I could just follow yesterday-you on traffic cams and all. Easy-peasy. But I wanna trust that you have everything under control. So I'm gonna ask before I go snoopin'. What happened?"

Eliot glared at him, and Hardison almost backed down. Almost.

"I don't like spying on my friends, El."

The hitter turned to look back at the monitors, silent for a minute. "'s nothin'."

"Don't look like nothin', have you even seen your face?"

Eliot looked at him, a little surprised, then away. "No."

"Hell, ain't you been home since?"

He shook his head slightly.

"Here." Hardison pulled out his phone and took a picture of Eliot before the other could react. He handed the phone to his friend and watched as the hitter inspected the picture (in which he looked dangerously grumpy). Eliot looked angry, and he started tapping the screen trying to delete it. "Woah, woah, woah!" Hardison cried out, startled, and he grabbed Eliot's wrist to stop him. The hacker was just anxious at having someone so clueless with tech handling his phone - who knew what could happen. But he realized too late that he'd grabbed the man's injured wrist. The hitter inhaled sharply and lashed out with a punch.

Hardison's chair was scooted back a little with the force as he reeled from the hit to the jaw. He held his chin and looked at his teammate in surprise. Eliot instantly looked a little guilty, and grumpier. The hitter held his wrist closer.

"Is that broken?" The hacker asked, shocked by how strongly he'd reacted to his wrist being grabbed.

Eliot shrugged. Then there was a moment of quiet.

"But you got the guy, though, right? Like, there's not some punk wandering around thinking, 'Haha, I knocked out Eliot Spencer!', right?"

No answer.


Eliot was about to say something. He stopped, then started again. "Don't think he knew who I am."

"What, you were just jumped by some random guy?"

"Guess so."

"And he got the drop on you, then got away without a scratch." Hardison summarized, unable to believe it. No way someone could pull one over on Eliot Spencer.

Eliot stood, shoving his chair back, and left the van. Hardison watched. He waited until Eliot was gone a few minutes, then pulled up local establishments' security cameras and traffic light footage. He searched for a while, starting with the time stamp matching when the hitter had left the offices the night before. He found that on tape, then followed Eliot's path by switching between streams of data and footage dexterously. Eliot had gone home for about an hour - and Hardison felt both pride and shame at having found the elusive man's home - then to a bar. He drove for a good half hour until he got to the bar, which made sense because the hitter probably had to switch up his routine a lot. So he was in the bar and nothing much was happening there. Then a guy sat down next to him and they were talking. Hardison watched as it looked like his teammate was wary at first. 'Good', the hacker thought. That was like him. But then, on the film, Eliot laughed. They were talking and drinking, having a good time like old friends. The hacker fast-forwarded through the next 20 minutes of conversation, then resumed when video Eliot stood up. He was swaying as he headed toward the nearest exit, followed by the other guy, looking concerned.

By now, Hardison assumed this guy was the crook he was watching for. Asshole probably slipped something in the hitter's drink, though even the vigilant hacker who had expected something to happen hadn't seen it. No way the hitter could have seen it happen.

Alec switched to the camera on the wall outside; it had a wide view of the alley there. Eliot stepped out, looking around warily as he tried to stay upright. The door to the bar opened and shut again, and the same stranger that had just been laughing and chatting was now shoving the hitter into the alley wall. He grabbed a fistful of Eliot's hair and smashed his head into the brick wall. He said something into the other's ear, then spun him around to face him. Eliot tried to fight back, throwing a sluggish punch and trying to slip out of his attacker's grip. The other saw it coming and got in some solid punches. He didn't stop, continuing to beat the hitter. Eliot reeled from each blow and tried to block them, but eventually he suck down a little.

His attacker grabbed him by the neck and pulling him back up against the wall, then moved closer, and forcefully kissed him. Hardison watched in shock as the hitter struggled. The man seemed angered by the relentless fight, so he pulled back and punched the other a few more times before going for another violent kiss. This continued for a few minutes until he threw Eliot to the ground farther from the alley's outlet to the street. Eliot was trying to get up, but his attacker would not have it and kicked him until he was lying on his stomach. The man straddled him and began to undo his belt.

At this point, Alec was watching with wide eyes and he had forgotten that he was watching a video, that he already knew Eliot had made it out of this. The hacker kind of felt more scared than he'd ever been.

The hitter's struggles grew in desperation, and he was able to knock the other off by twisting. He got his legs under himself and he stood uncertainly, heading toward the alley's exit.

His attacker grabbed his ankle. Eliot went down, his head hitting a dumpster. Hardison cringed as his head bounced off the metal edge. There was no audio, but he could imagine the terrible sound that impact made.

It looked like Eliot was losing consciousness as his fight grew weaker. His attacker was livid. He raised his fist again, and the hitter flinched. Then, red and blue lights, faint at first, flashed down the alley. The bad guy looked startled, then resigned. He snarled down at the man beneath him, then got up and ran away. After a minute the lights were gone. The cops weren't even coming for him, but the lights and sirens had scared him away. He didn't come back. Hardison could breathe again.

Eliot tried to get up, but he passed out in a few seconds.

Alec fast-forwarded again, looking for when his teammate had made it out of there. He skipped through a few hours of footage. At 4:36 AM, Eliot moved. He'd come to. It took him a while to get up, since he kept passing out with the first attempts. When he was vertical, he looked around, looking more himself than when he was drugged, and then left the alley limping.

Hardison turned off his phone and sat back in his chair. Wow. No wonder the hitter didn't want to talk about it. Alec hadn't even been the one to experience it, and he felt like he'd never be able to get over the fear of watching it. Eliot was probably angry, anxious, disoriented by it - and considering his role in the team, he had the added stress of the responsibility to know every risk and to eliminate it. It must suck to not be able to identify and find the man that attacked him, knowing that guy was going about his daily life today, able to do it again to someone less Eliot Spencer-y.

The hacker breathed deeply, then almost crapped himself when Eliot reentered the van.