"Let him go," Parker demanded rather calmly. They were in a warehouse, and their mark, Joseph Rand, had an arm around the throat of a slightly beaten up Eliot. He was holding a needle dangerously close to his jawline. His hands were cuffed in front of him.
"I thought I told you to get out of here," Eliot said, his voice rough.
"I did. That was an hour ago. You never said I couldn't come back," she said with a sly smile.
"We're gonna have a serious talk about following orders correctly when we get out of here."
"Only you're not getting out of here," Joseph taunted. "You and your team of thieves have been messing with my business for the past two weeks."
"Your business has been gun-running, money laundering, and murder. It's specifically the last one our client has a problem with…" He interrupted her with a laugh.
"A cat burglar is going to judge me? Really? I researched your little team. Your fearless leader, Nathan Ford, who is the son of an infamous bookie, broke out of prison. Your boyfriend, Alec Hardison, has taken money away from people like the majority of your clients for years, Sophie Deuvarux once stole the first David, and who knows how many people she's hurt with her cons, and this one…" he looked at Eliot with a contemptuous sneer. "This one, the one that you're risking your life now to save, little girl, is a killer, worse than me. He worked for Damien Moreau, of all people. Do you even know half of the things Moreau has done?" He looked at Eliot again. "You know, I always wanted to know just how many families his top dog had under his belt." Eliot's eyes widened slightly as he continued to stare at Parker. Then Joseph looked at her as well. "That's right, families; as in children. Did you know this?" But Parker's face didn't change.
"Of course I did," she said brightly, much to the surprise of both men. "Why do you think Moreau is in a dungeon in San Lorenzo?" Joseph frowned.
"How do you know that's where he is?" Parker actually laughed.
"Who do you think put him there?" He started looking back and forth between them uncertainly. Just then, they heard a lot of noise just outside. "Let him go, Rand," she repeated her previous demand. "My team has called for extra help. Your goons are being taken out right now. You're done." The over confident sneer was back.
"I know you can communicate with your team, so you tell them this; back off, or I'll inject him with this." She looked at the needle warily.
"What is it?"
"Better yet, how did you get it?" Eliot added. Joseph smirked.
"You both only get to know two things; I've been expanding my operation to include drug running, and this will seriously hurt going in." It was that last part that made Parker's eyes widen, and decide to stick around to try and get that needle away from him. Eliot saw it.
"Don't do it, Parker," he ordered. "You get out of here like he said. I can handle this." Joseph looked at him.
"Yes, I suppose that you could. A guy like you could no doubt handle anything I could dish out; you managed to handle that beat-down without uttering a sound." Eliot smirked.
"Two guys kicking me doesn't even qualify as a beat-down, Rand. Don't think I have so much as a cracked rib." But Rand was looking at Parker again.
"But what about her?" he finished his thought as if Eliot hadn't spoken. Eliot's eyes widened again, and this time, Parker saw the panic in them. He started struggling, but Rand's grip was iron-tight, and he laughed at the attempt. "That's it, isn't it? Breaking her would break you, wouldn't it? And a pretty little thing like her I can break," he started whispering in his ear. "Easily. I can even break the pieces I've already broken into smaller ones, if she lasts long enough." Eliot growled fiercely, and Joseph laughed again as he looked back at Parker. "I'll tell you what...Parker, is it? You surrender to me, and I won't hurt him in every imaginable, and unimaginable, way possible." Parker paused. Oh she better not even be considering this, Eliot thought. Doesn't she know what this will do to me?
"So, let me see if I got this right," she finally spoke. "I surrender to you, and you let him go?"
"Parker, don't!" Eliot barked.
"Don't believe that's what I said. I just said I won't hurt him." Parker nodded as if she were mulling it over, and Eliot actually felt sick to his stomach. Parker, don't you dare do this to me. Don't you dare make me watch you take my punishment.
"Now, how exactly are you going to make this exchange? Cause there's two of us, and one if you, and even if I was docile, and came to you...well, let's just say that Eliot doesn't do docile in these situations." At this, Eliot growled again, this time to back up her claim. Joseph started looking nervous again.
"I could lock him up," he argued. She saw the small cage behind them just then, and nodded. It was probably there for that very purpose.
"But then, you'd lose your leverage," she smiled at the word. "Nothing will hold me, or my team, back once he's not in emanate danger...and that's assuming you can actually move him. Face it, this is a two-person job, minimum, and you're out if men." It looked like he was thinking his options over.
"You're right," he finally came to the conclusion. Parker looked relieved, but Eliot just knew it wasn't going to be that easy. This isn't going to end well, he thought. "The only smart thing to do now is get away," Joseph continued, then, in one fluid motion, he removed his arm from around Eliot's throat, grabbed a clump of his hair, tilted his head to the side, and plunged the needle into his neck. Eliot's eyes squeezed shut, his whole body stiffened, and he let out a guttural sound. Joseph let him go, and ran for the back exit as he dropped.
"Eliot!" Parker cried in horror as she raced over to him. As she helped him roll over onto his back, she was vaguely aware of a fist-meeting-face sound off to the side somewhere. Eliot's eyes were wide, his jaw was clenched, he was shaking, and breathing rapidly.
"He was right; this does seriously hurt," he said after a moment.
"What's it doing?" Parker asked, not fully understanding. His eyes were actually watering up.
"Stings," was all he could get out, knowing it was an understatement. He'd been drugged before, of course, but it had never been like this. The veins in his neck felt like acid had been poured into them. The sensation wasn't going away. In fact, it seemed to be traveling; first to his head, making his vision blurry, and then to his chest, which was quickly becoming nearly unbearable. His heart was racing so much, he was worried he was going to have a heart attack. He arched his back slightly, and squeezed his eyes shut in response. He was trying his best not to scream, knowing it would scare Parker, and whoever else happened to be listening.
"What happened?" another voice, a man's, asked. Is that Nate, or Hardison? Eliot wondered. But when he opened his eyes again, the blurry person before him seemed to be his army buddy.
"Shelley?" he said, unsure of what he was seeing.
"Yeah, man, it's me."
"What are you doing in Portland?" His friend smirked.
"Saving your butt, apparently."
"From Boston? You made great time," he muttered, starting to not make sense.
"He was closer than Boston when we called him…" Parker started to explain.
"Would someone mind telling me what just happened here?" Shelley interrupted irritably.
"He injected Eliot with something," Parker answered, just as irritably.
"Yeah, I got that much. Hardison gave me one of those coms, too. What did he inject him with?"
"Well, if you really had been paying attention to the conversation, you'd know that he made it a point not to tell us! And maybe you could ask Rand, if you hadn't knocked him out just now!" Parker started shouting. Shelley looked angry at her outburst, but Eliot had enough presence of mind to know that she was just scared. He reached out, and touched her arm.
"Parker, calm down. I'm still breathing here, which is a win," he told her. She nodded, then looked down at his handcuffs in disgust.
"Get these things off of him," she muttered to Shelley, who got up, and was out of sight for a minute. Parker's face became annoyed. "Yes, Nate, we got him. Yeah, they took his com…" she looked down at Eliot for confirmation, and he nodded. "No, we don't know what's he's been injected with. Hang on, Nate." She rolled her eyes when she looked at Eliot again. He couldn't help but chuckle a little. "Any other injuries? He said he beat you, or had his goons do it, and I know that you said they hadn't even managed to crack a rib, but…"
"Didn't lie, sweetheart. All I got are bruises, a throat that feels a little tight cos' of that stronghold, and whatever is coarse get through my veins right now." It didn't sound very serious, but Parker noticed he was still shuddering. Then she noticed the vial Rand had dropped off to the side, and picked it up.
"Well, it's empty now," she said grimly. "No chance of Hardison testing whatever was in here now."
"Keep it," Shelley said, coming back into view, and handing her something small and plastic. "Here's the cap. Put it on so you don't stick yourself with the needle." As she did so, Shelley unlocked Eliot's cuffs. "There might be some residue we can test…" he looked off to the side. "Hey!" he shouted, starting to get back up, but Parker grabbed his arm.
"Forget it; he's gone." Then her face became annoyed again. "Yes, Nate, Rand escaped," she said just before taking out her earbud. Nate will be mad at her for that, Eliot thought just as his eyes started to close. He was starting to get sleepy.
Shelley suddenly started shaking him. "Uh-huh, none of that man; you gotta stay awake until we figure this out. Can you stand?"
"Yeah," he muttered, eyes still closed as he sat up slowly. The movement made his head spin. He opened his eyes to get his bearings. Shelley was crouching in front of him, but he looked fuzzy. Eliot shook his head to clear it. When he looked again, he could see clearly...but he didn't see Shelley. His eyes widened, he gasped, then stumbled back.
"Moreau?!" Shelley and Parker looked at each other in alarm.
"Uh-oh," they said in unison. Parker quickly put her earbud back in.
"Nate, stop lecturing, and listen!" Parker interrupted his tirade about how she should never remove her comm. "Eliot is seeing things. He thinks Shelley is Moreau."
"Which isn't at all insulting," Shelley muttered, but Parker ignored him.
"Yeah, the drug Rand injected him with must be a hallucigen," she spoke to Nate as she carefully watched the cowering Eliot, who was still staring at Shelley in horror.
"How can you be here?" he demanded. "Flores would never have let you out! Did you do something to him?" Shelley raised his hands in a non-threatening manner.
"Come on, man; it's me, Shelley." Eliot put his fists up when he took a step forward. Parker waved him back, then stepped forward herself.
"What do you think you're doing?" he hissed at her.
"I'm not the one he's calling Moreau," she hissed right back without looking back at him. "Eliot, can you hear me?" she said to her friend. "Eliot, I need you to look at me." Eliot came out of it momentarily when he heard her voice, and looked at her with a confused frown.
"That's right. Listen, we gotta get out of here, so we can figure out what was given to you." Eliot looked around in confusion. He gasped and flinched several times, as if the room kept changing on him. "Eliot, do you remember why you're here?" Eliot looked back at her, then nodded slowly.
"Joseph Rand." Parker nodded. Eliot started breathing faster as realization set in. "What...what did he do to me?"
"He apparently gave you a hallucigen," Parker told him as she came closer. "You just called Shelley Moreau." Eliot ran his shaky hands through his hair and shook his head as he stared out at nothing. "It's going to be okay. We're going to go home, and figure this out." She held out her hand to him. He stared at it uncertainly, then finally took it, and let her lead him out.
Once in the van, Shelley and Nate were discussing the situation while Hardison drove, Parker watched Eliot carefully, and Sophie fretted. Eliot tried to keep his eyes closed, but they popped open as they hit a speed bump.
Suddenly, the van was a trunk he was being stuffed into. He saw Moreau smile cruelly before closing it. Apparently, his claustrophobia only left him when he chose to be in tight spaces. Of course, Moreau had sensed as much, even if Eliot hadn't realized it yet. He realized it real fast once that trunk closed though.
Eliot's breathing became erratic again, and to his horror, and everyone else's, a whimper escaped his lips. He suddenly scurried to the back of the van. Parker followed, and found him huddled in a corner, his knees to his chest. She slid next to him when it looked like he recognized her.
"Parker," he said In a low, shaky voice. "I know what memory this drug is stirring up, and I don't think I can do this again...I barely survived it the first time." Parker put her head on his shoulder, and she felt his tension ease slightly, but he was still shaking.
"You didn't have us the first time," she said quietly. "We're not going to leave you to deal with this alone." He closed his eyes briefly, and leaned his head back against the van wall.
"Did you really know what Rand was talking about back there, or were you just trying to psych him out?" he asked after a minute.
"I already knew that you killed innocent people; you all but admitted as much in the park the day we found out you used to work for Moreau. And when you talked about the worst thing you've ever done, and how you did it for him...it wasn't hard to figure out what would be worse than going after innocent people. Besides, Moreau doesn't seem like the kind of person to spare kids." She felt Eliot tense up again, so she linked arms with him, but he pulled away. "was it more than one family, like Rand implied?" She was relieved when he shook his head.
"One is still too many, Parker. Do they all know?" he asked gruffly.
"They all figured it out, yeah."
"Then why am I still on this team? How could any of you possibly forgive that…" his voice faltered.
"Because you left Moreau." He scoffed.
"That hardly makes up for it, Parker."
"You don't get it; you stopped working for him. I'm assuming it was because of that job?" Eliot nodded. "Has anyone ever done that before?" Eliot shook his head after a moment.
"I found out later that it was something he made everyone do eventually. Once they did it, Moreau would tell them that they were free to go work for someone else if they wanted. But after doing something like that...they figured they were in too deep to walk away. Not that they were really resistant to the idea…" he trailed off. Parker frowned
"Eliot, did you resist at first? Did he...force you?" Eliot's eyes widened, and his breathing sped up again. Parker was horrified as realization hit her. That's what the drug is making him relive. Before she could even try to calm him down, his body suddenly stiffened, then he collapsed on the van floor, and began shaking violently. "Nate!" she cried out.
Both Nate and Shelley hurried to the back of the van as Eliot began writhing around. They held him down as best as they could so he wouldn't seriously injure himself. Parker backed away, not knowing what was happening, or if she somehow caused it.
"You didn't do it, Parker," Nate assured her, reading a team member's mind as always.
"Is he having a seizure?" Sophie asked, peering into the back.
"Worse," Nate said grimly. "Muscle spasms."
"How's that worse?" Parker asked.
"Usually, with seizures, the person is not really aware. Trust me, Eliot is very aware." Just then, Eliot proved it by crying out in agony as the spasms continued. His muscles felt like they were on fire. He didn't even know such a sensation was possible. His eyes found Nate, and pleaded with him to somehow make it stop, causing an ache in his heart.
"Burns!" Eliot told him in a pain-filled voice.
"I know, Eliot. I really wish there was something I could do. You're just going to have to ride it out." That ache in his heart soared to new levels when Eliot cried out again, feeling like it did whenever his son was in pain from fighting the cancer.
After another horrible, long minute, the muscles started relaxing, and the shaking lessened. Easy, Eliot," Shelley said, his voice quiet and soothing. "It's almost over." Finally, the spasms stopped, and Eliot was left panting heavily. Nate and Shelley loosened their grips, but didn't let go completely, wanting to comfort him somehow. Eliot squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, trying to recover. That wasn't the worst pain he'd ever experienced, but it was up there, which was saying a lot. Nate glanced at Shelley.
"It would seem so." Eliot's eyes popped back open.
"You mean, it could happen again?" He asked, hating how frightened he sounded.
"Not necessarily. It could've been just an initial reaction," Shelley tried to put him a little more at ease.
"We'll know more when we test the drug, Eliot," Nate said, letting him go, but not moving away. "Just lie there for a few more minutes." Nate looked around, spotted a blanket on the chair Hardison kept back there, and wrapped Eliot up in it. Suddenly, Eliot remembered Parker, and he resisted the urge to bolt upright, so he just picked his head up. He saw her in a corner, hugging her knees, and rocking back and forth. He sighed. He hated scaring her.
"I'm okay now, Parker," his voice raw and rough. He held a hand out to her, so she would come to him. She scurried over, and took it. After a minute, Eliot slowly sat up, brushed away her tears, and put his arms around her. "I'm okay, darlin'," he repeated. "Sorry I scared ya."
Nate, Sophie, Parker, and Eliot were dropped off at Eliot's apartment, which was deemed the safest place possible, while Hardison and Shelley went to Hardison's place to pick up miscellaneous lab equipment that could be useful. Eliot had Nate follow him to his bedroom, leaving Sophie and Parker to pace anxiously in the living room.
"You need to restrain me, Nate," Eliot said bluntly as soon as the door was closed. Nate didn't look pleased with the idea.
"Eliot, you don't do well with restraints."
"I can deal with them a lot better than I could if I hurt any of you. Without my control, I'm dangerous, Nate."
"Eliot, Parker said your hallucinations are revolving around Moreau. You seemed afraid of him." Eliot swallowed hard.
"Rand mentioned my last job with him in the hope of convincing Parker to just abandon me. That must have put the memory to the forefront…" he trailed off, getting agitated.
"And you initially refused that job, didn't you?" Nate asked gently. Eliot nodded, then trembled slightly.
"But you don't say no to Moreau. Most didn't even bother resisting; the ones that did, a little beat-down was all it took." He swallowed hard again. "It took no more than an afternoon to convince them."
"And you? How long did he have you?"
"Three weeks." Nate winced. "He finds your weaknesses, from the moment you join up with him, all your fears, so he can use them if you get out of line…" he trailed off again, took a few steps back, and closed his eyes. Nate stood by his side again, offering some silent reassurance.
"Eliot, if I restrain you, those hallucinations are likely going to be more intense, maybe even more frequent."
"I know, and even you have no idea how much I don't want to relive that…" he paused, and took a shaky breath, "but it's already happening, Nate. My own home is already starting to look like that warehouse he dragged me to…" he paused again when his voice wavered. What was it with bad guys and warehouses anyway, the stray thought came to Nate, but he pushed it aside to concentrate solely on Eliot. "I'm using whatever presence of mind I have left right now to tell you this," Eliot continued in a hoarse whisper. "You have to restrain me, Nate...please." Nate sighed.
Nearly ten minutes later, Nate came out of Eliot's room. Parker frowned when she didn't see Eliot.
"Where is he?" Nate held up his hands as if to stop the protests he knew were coming.
"He asked me to restrain him." Sophie's eyes went wide.
"And you listened to him?" She said in disbelief as Parker made a mad dash for the bedroom door.
"Parker, wait!" Nate said, taking her gently by the shoulders and crouching slightly to her eye level. Parker shook her head vehemently.
"Do you even understand what he's seeing?" she demanded, pulling away. "I know you know, because I told you, but you obviously don't fully grasp it, otherwise you would know what restraints will do to him right now."
"Yes, I do understand, and so does he, but he's afraid that he might hurt one of us, and in his current condition, Parker, that's a distinct possibility. I don't like this any more than you do…" just then, Nate was interrupted by Hardison and Shelley coming through the front door, and Parker took advantage of the distraction. She side-stepped him, and hurried into the bedroom. "Parker, stop!" Nate called after her. He followed her, while Sophie quickly told Hardison and Shelley what Eliot had made Nate do.
Parker came to a halt when she caught sight of Eliot restrained to his bed. Nate came up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders to keep her from approaching him.
"Parker, you shouldn't be in here," he whispered to her as Eliot kept his eyes closed, and tried to control his breathing. Just then, Hardison hurried in as well, after dodging Sophie.
Hardison frowned at the restraints that looked remarkably like ones hospitals used. There were two around his ankles, one around his waist, and two that kept his hands at his sides. He had taken off his outer shirt, and was now just wearing his tank top, his hair was now pulled back in a ponytail, and Nate had propped his head up on several pillows. He'd never seen a patient look more comfortable, especially in restraints.
"He seriously has a professional set-up for his restraints?" Hardison had to say it. "How are they even connected to the bed?"
"Don't ask me; I watched him connect them to the bed, and I still don't get it. This is Eliot we're talking about; I don't ask questions," Nate said, then he noticed Eliot tense at all the voices. "Okay, you guys have to leave," he said a little quieter. "Maybe we can nip this in the bud before it gets too intense…" Just then, Shelley entered.
"Your equipment is set up, Hardison…" he started to say, causing Nate to put a hand to his head and groan. Eliot's eyes popped open, and he glared in their general direction.
"And maybe not," Nate muttered.
"Moreau," Eliot growled at Shelley, who threw his hands in the air.
"Great, that's not going away," he grumbled.
"I won't do it, Moreau! You want it done, do it yourself, for a change, you coward!" Shelley looked startled.
"Okay, did he actually say that to Moreau, cause that's gutsy, even for him," he said to no one in particular.
"Okay, everyone out, now!" Nate ordered as he began herding everyone out of the room.
Once in the living room, Hardison went to the makeshift lab with Shelley to test the residue in the vial.
"Nate, we can't let this happen," Parker said once they started to hear Eliot struggle against the restraints with grunts, shouts, and frustrated growls. "He told me himself, he can't go through this again...and when he says something like that, you know he means it. Whatever Moreau put him through, whatever he made him do, it was the worst of the worst." Nate cupped her face in his hands and looked at her sadly.
"I know, Parker, and believe me, we're trying, okay? But our presence just seems to be aggravating him more right now." Parker retreated into a corner, and Nate prevented Sophie from following, saying she needed her space right now.
It took 15 minutes for Hardison and Shelley to come up with a drug name that Nate couldn't even begin to pronounce. Who even came up with these names; doctors who liked to sound smarter than they actually were?
"Symptoms?" He asked, staying close to the bar.
"Hallucinations, obviously, disorientation, and in large doses, eventually death." Hardison looked at Parker with dread. "How much was injected into Eliot?"
"The vial was full," she said in small voice.
"And the muscle spasms?" Nate asked. "Will they continue?"
"Doesn't look like it. Shelley must have been right; it was an initial reaction, and probably not a common one, since it's not even on here." Nate gave a small sigh of relief.
"Thank goodness for small miracles," he muttered. "Hardison, antidote?" Please let there be an antidote, he said to himself. Hardison fiddled with his computer, then rattled off another unpronounceable drug. "Where do we get it?"
"I have no idea. It don't even look like the doctors prescribe it."
"Rand would have it, wouldn't he?" Sophie said.
"Does he seem like the giving type, Soph?" Nate asked, trying to at least sound calm. Hardison looked at Shelley.
"Maybe someone needs to...talk him into it," he suggested.
"Do you have his location?" Shelley asked.
"We know where he lives, and we know he has to go home sometime. It ain't far, man."
"What's the time frame, Hardison?" Nate asked. "How long before it kills him?"
"This is just an estimation, but I'd said between twelve to eighteen hours. Could be a little more, or it could be a little less." Shelley started to pace. That wasn't a whole lot of time. Nate, having run out of whiskey, went to the refrigerator for a beer.
"Okay, Shelley, you go to Rand's house and see if he has the antidote. If he's not home, ransack the place; maybe we'll get lucky. He lives alone, so you don't have to worry about family interference. If you still can't find it, wait for him until he comes back."
"That's a whole lot of wasted time, Nate," Parker spoke up.
"There's nothing else to do, Parker," Nate said, suddenly sounding tired.
"There may be…" Shelley trailed off as he stopped pacing. He found a scrap of paper, a pen, and wrote down a number. "Okay, while I'm 'having a chat' with this Rand guy, or waiting to 'have a chat', as the case may be, Hardison, you call this number. It's an army base. Ask to speak to Sargent Collins. When she answers, say this sentence," he pointed to the sentence he just wrote down, "then tell her Elliot's condition, and the drug we need. When you're done, contact me and let me know what she says."
"Uh, okay, but why…"
"Hardison, do we really have time for questions?"
"Nope. I'll do it."
"Okay. Now, tell me this dude's address." As Hardison wrote the address down for him, Eliot started up a new series of shouts and struggling.
"You really going to make him do this alone?" Parker said to Nate, with so much venom, that he actually flinched. Good, she thought.
"Okay, we'll try this one at a time, though I doubt it will do any good. I'll go first." He set the beer bottle down, then went into the bedroom just as Shelley left the apartment.
Nate approached the bed cautiously. His exhausted and panting hitter had stopped struggling for the moment, and eyed him.
"Your boss can keep trying, but I'll never agree to it," he growled. I guess that makes me a henchman, Nate thought wryly.
"Do you know who I am, Eliot?" he asked. He wasn't expecting him to give a name, he just wanted to see how much Eliot could interact with his surroundings. He was surprised when he got one.
"Chapman. You want my job." Great, now I'm the man who'll become Moreau's #2, Nate thought. At least Eliot is responding. "Why don't you kill the family for him; he'll make you his go to guy, and end this. We both get what we want." Nate was sure he didn't want to know what 'this' entailed. He folded his arms as he looked down on him.
"I've already proven my worth to Mister Moreau," he ventured. Just keep him talking, so he can avoid reliving 'this.' Eliot let out a bitter laugh.
"And I'll bet you enjoyed every minute of it, didn't you, Chapman?" Nate smirked, even though he felt sick to his stomach.
"And you don't enjoy it? You don't enjoy the fear your name inspires now, how the mere mention of it sends people in a panic to do your bidding?" Eliot smirked.
"I enjoy getting paid, and surviving...at least, I did."
"So, now you suddenly grow a conscience? Kids come into the picture, and you of all people become mister softy? You knew he has everyone do this, didn't you?"
"How was I supposed to know that when I started, Chapman? It wasn't exactly in the job description," Eliot snapped.
"What was exactly in the job description, Eliot? What did you expect you'd be doing for someone like Moreau?"
"Intimidate people, protect him from his enemies, maybe even hurt them and make them disappear. They're all just as evil as we are, Chapman, so I have no problem with that. But kids are innocent; they aren't like us. And they haven't done anything to him, so what's the point? Now I have to go after a six and a nine- year- old to send some kind of message that most of the bad guys won't even get, that won't even stop them anyway…" Eliot broke off, and his face twisted with rage and sorrow for a moment, making Nate's heart sink. Oh Eliot, you're not evil, Moreau is, he wanted to tell him, but he knew it would fall on deaf ears, so he sat in the straight-backed chair by the bed. Eliot looked at him with a frown. "Just what do you think you're doing?" he said gruffly.
"I'm not supposed to leave you alone. You're a flight risk right now." Eliot smirked.
"But I won't be by the time Moreau's done with me, is that it? He underestimates me." He looked at him when he didn't respond. "Cat got your tongue, Chapman?"
"I have to guard you, I don't have to talk to you," he said, still playing his role. "What would we talk about anyway?" he asked, hoping he'd come up with a topic, because Nate had run out of those.
"Well, I was expecting some long-winded, detailed explanation of what's going to be done to me to make me a good little soldier boy again. I heard you revel in that sort of thing." Yeah, that's not happening, Nate said to himself.
"Don't believe everything you hear."
"So, what, you're just going to stare at me now?"
"Pretty much." Eliot just smirked again, and turned his head away from him.
An hour passed before Nate came back out. "Progress?" He asked. Hardison scowled as he held a phone to his ear.
"Rand was home, getting ready to pack up and leave dodge, apparently. He doesn't have the antidote. Why would he want to cure whichever enemy he gave it to...his words. He doesn't know how to get a hold of it either. Shelley ransacked his place anyway, in case he was holding out on him."
"What did he do with him when he was done trashing the place?" Hardison smiled slyly.
"With him? Nothing. Didn't even beat the living daylight savings out of him for what he did to Eliot, just roughed him up a bit to get information. But he did was plant drugs in his house before leaving, then he called in an anonymous tip. He told them that some shady characters busted into this house as he was walking by, and he could hear them trashing the place, and thought that maybe they were roughing up the homeowner. He told them that it seemed like a drug deal gone bad. Then he watched as the cops came. Not only did they find the drugs, but they also found his stash of unregistered guns, along with paper trails he had yet to shred that will lead the F.B.I. right to his smuggling operation. The dude really should have kept all that stuff anywhere other than his home. I love it when the mark is as dumb as a brick. Anyway, Shelley said they just hauled him, and the evidence, away." Nate nodded, although he couldn't be happy, since none of this helped Eliot.
"And the army base?" Hardison went back to scowling.
"They've had me on hold this whole time, man."
"They also told you that the doctor is in surgery," Shelley said over the coms.
"Why would they be doing surgery on an army base? Ain't no war going on around them."
"Do you really want me to bore you again with how the military works?"
"I'd rather you didn't," Nate answered for him. "Okay, Shelley, head on back here."
"Not quite yet, Nate."
"And why not?
"Look, this kind of thing is common when dealing with contacts; that's why any soldier worth his salt has more than one. I can call a couple of people, maybe visit a couple more. Hardison can stay on the phone with the army base. If that drug is in this country, we'll find it."
"Keep us posted, Shelley."
"Will do. And Nate?"
"How's Eliot doing?"
"He thinks I'm a dead goon named Chapman." There was a pause.
"Well, that's better than being Moreau, at least." Nate smirked at that. "Take care of him," he added before going off coms to work the phone. Nate sighed, then looked at Sophie.
"Go check on him. Just play along with whoever he calls you. Maintain a safe distance; we don't want him to feel like he's being attacked." Sophie nodded before going in.
Eliot smirked when he saw her, then he went back to staring at the wall...or was it the ceiling? Sophie couldn't tell.
"Beautiful women are just as deadly as one of Moreau's men," he said dully.
"Not sure if that's a compliment or an insult," she replied honestly. Eliot looked at her again.
"I don't know you. You an assassin? Has Moreau finally decided to end this?" Sophie shuttered at the word 'this.' Let's just stay clear of the topic of 'this', she thought.
"I'm not an assassin." Eliot didn't seem to like that. His eyes widened slightly, and he struggled to control his rapid breathing. Of course he wouldn't like that, she thought, wanting to kick herself. That meant more of 'this.' What had his mind already make him relive? Sophie had to think fast to calm him.
"Moreau said to leave you alone for now." The fear seemed to leave him, and he smirked before looking away again.
"Yeah, he does that after sending nearly a thousand volts of electricity through you. Wants you to really feel the aftereffects." Sophie's eyes widened in horror, and her breath caught, causing Eliot to look at her again, but he seemed to mistake her repulsion for what he went through for confusion. "You're wondering why you didn't hear any screams, aren't you? I'm an ex-soldier, babe, special-ops. This ain't new to me." Outwardly, Sophie regained control, but inside, she resolved that they weren't going to let him relive the 'new thing' that evidently broke him.
Sophie stayed with Eliot for another hour, even though he largely ignored her. When she came back out, she was apparently just in time to hear someone finally get on the phone with Hardison.
"Is this Sargent Collins?" Hardison looked relieved at the answer. "Finally! Oh, okay, um, the sentence," he grabbed the piece of paper Shelley had given him, then eyed everyone warily, suddenly self-conscious. "The horses are loose, and there's been a stampede," he read the confusing sentence. He listened for a moment. "Uh, yeah, the horses stampeded Eliot." He looked at the others and shrugged. While all of this was going on, Parker was slowly inching her way to the bedroom door that Sophie had left partially opened. When she heard a loud moan, she went in. Nate heard it too, and followed her.
"Parker, I don't think you're ready for this," he told her as Eliot started struggling with the restraints again. Parker wisely hung back, but didn't leave the room. Nate turned his attention to Eliot. The look on the hitter's face wasn't a look of defiance, resignation, or even anger; it was pure fear. "Eliot?" Nate called to him warily as he inched closer. Eliot's eyes started darting around, but he didn't move his head.
"Nate?" he said in a voice the mastermind barely even recognized. Still, he perked up hopefully at the mention of his name.
"I'm here." Eliot looked confused.
"I...I can hear you, but I can't see you."
"I'm right here with you, Eliot."
"You...on coms?" Nate sighed, but decided to play along.
"Yes, I'm on coms." The fear returned in his eyes.
"Nate, you gotta come get me, man," he practically whispered just as Sophie came in. She stood in the back with Parker. Nate closed his eyes briefly at Eliot's words, feeling helpless.
"We're trying, Eliot."
"I know. We're trying. You have no idea how hard we're trying…" Eliot was full-blown hyperventilating now.
"Nate, he's gonna make me kill them," he voice was so frightened, it was downright frightening. "The whipping, the cutting...burning hot metal...never done that before…"
"Eliot, stay with me! You're not back there, I promise you," Nate said desperately, but it was clear that in his mind's eye, he was back there. Eliot started struggling even more than he ever had been, and it looked like he was on the verge of screaming, when Parker had enough. With a strength and speed she didn't know she had, she started backing Sophie up, and pulling Nate to the door at the same time. Caught off guard, they were easily pushed out of the room, then Parker locked the door, and turned to Eliot. The sudden motion distracted him from the horrors he'd been on the verge of reliving, but she knew that wouldn't last long.
"I made them leave," she stated, unsure where to go from there. Eliot looked around in confusion. "They're gone." She approached the bed, until she was standing a mere foot away. Eliot responded by growling and attempting to lunge at her. But Parker didn't back away; she didn't even flinch. "I'm going to get you out of those restraints, now," she said matter-of-factly, ignoring Nate and Sophie's protests in her ear.
"You do, and I'll kill you," Eliot warned.
"No, you won't, Eliot, because you know me. I'm your friend." Eliot scoffed at this.
"I don't know you, so that makes you my enemy," he growled, but it didn't faze her.
"I'm your friend, Eliot," she repeated, "and I'm here, too, and I'm scared, and I need your help." Eliot looked startled, and Nate and Sophie fell into stunned silence, not sure where she was going with this. Parker started removing the restraint around his waist. He flinched at her touch at first, but then settled back down as she freed his legs.
Once the last of the restraints were removed, Eliot scurried off of the bed and to a corner of the room, watching her suspiciously. Parker sat on the floor to wait him out. She drew her knees to her chest, and hugged them, trying to look the part of a frightened girl.
After a few minutes, Eliot frowned, and, still crouching low to the ground, cautiously crept closer, but stopped again after only moving two feet. Parker just stayed as she was, watching him. His frown deepened as he inched closer.
"Parker?" This surprised her. She was expecting him to see her as a frightened child, or maybe a young woman; just a fellow prisoner that needed protecting. But now, he recognized her? His past and present must be getting mixed up, she thought, though she didn't understand how or why. Parker nodded in response, and Eliot suddenly became visibly upset. "No, no, no, Parker; you can't be here! Why are you here?" Parker heard Nate start to give her an answer, when Sophie stopped him.
"Nate, I think she's got this." Thank you, Sophie, she said silently.
"I'm really here, Eliot. I... I came back." This just made Eliot more upset.
"Parker, Moreau is here; why did you come back?"
"I heard you tell Nate to come get you, and I guess I jumped the gun a little." His face fell further, and Parker felt bad for making him feel guilty, and for having to lie to him, but it was better than the alternative. Eliot put his arms over his head, hiding his face for a moment as he processed this. That's when she noticed scars on the side, and under, his left forearm. She'd never seen them before, but maybe that was because he rarely wore tank tops without another shirt with long sleeves over it. Did Moreau do that? They were too big to be from cuts, and they didn't look like electrical burns. The hot metal? Like a fire poker, or a blade of some kind? The thought enraged her. She tentatively reached out and touched them, and was surprised when he didn't jerk away. "Did he do that to you?" she asked in a small voice. His sad smile said it all.
"It's nothing I can't handle, sweetheart," he said, gently taking her hand in his. She knew it was a lie, but it didn't surprise her. Of course he'd try to protect her from his injuries, old or new. She withdrew her hand, and Eliot came closer, resting a hand against her cheek and looking around at the same time. "I'm gonna get you out of here," he assured her, then he crept to the door.
"No! Eliot…" she stopped him, panic in her voice that wasn't entirely fake. If he somehow made her leave, he'd be dragged back into his living nightmare. Whippings, cutting, burning hot metal...that's what he told Nate. Not on my watch, she used a line that Eliot had often used while protecting them. Eliot came back to her side instantly at the sound of her panicked voice. She grabbed his forearms, and let the fear show in her eyes. "Please don't leave me," she whispered. Eliot seemed torn.
"Parker, I gotta get you out of here…" But Parker shook her head.
"Eliot, the mistake of jumping the gun has already been made once; we just have to wait for Nate and the rest of the team. They won't just leave us here."
"But if Moreau comes back, he'll hurt you. He knows that you mean something to me, and he'll make me watch as he…" his voice broke at the very thought, and he stroked her hair in an affectionate, brotherly way. "I can take a lot of things, Parker, but I can't take that, and he knows it." She shook her head again.
"He won't touch me. You're not restrained anymore, Eliot; you can keep him away from me now. Just please don't leave me alone, not even for a second. I'm scared…" she trailed off and shook a little. She was scared...for him. Eliot immediately gathered her in his arms, and held her tight.
"I'm not gonna leave you, Parker; I promise," he whispered to her. After giving the door a last glance, as if daring anyone to walk through it, he helped her up, and sat them both down up against the wall, where he could watch the door and guard her at the same time. She laid her head against his chest, and was reassured that he was okay when she felt his steady heartbeat.
Outside of the door, everyone breathed sighs of relief. Leave it to Parker to find the most unconventional way to help their hitter.
Hardison had explained the situation to Shelley and Eliot's mysterious doctor-friend, telling her the name of the drug now in Eliot, and which one Shelley needed. He got Shelley in on the call at some point, and he arranged to meet her at a 'neutral location', although Hardison didn't understand why that was necessary. Two hours after Parker had 'rescued' Eliot from his imaginary horrors, Shelley returned with the drug.
"Okay, I'd say that an actual injection at this point would be a very bad idea, so…" he got two bottles of water, then just left them on the counter. Everyone frowned at him in confusion. "He's hallucinating, which means his paranoia will be worse," he explained. "If I gave him bottles of nice, cold water, he'd be suspicious. I'm going to let them sit for a while, then put the drug in."
"Why two bottles?" Hardison asked. Now Shelley frowned.
"Uh, cos' there's two of them."
"But you're not going to drug Parker, are you?"
"Of course not! Just, everyone relax now; I got this from here on out." The team shrugged, and backed off, trusting him.
"Okay Parker," Shelley said after 15 minutes. "He'll get sleepy when he drinks this; just keep reassuring him that he's not in danger." Then, he opened the door using Eliot's skeleton key he found in a hollowed out book.
Eliot immediately held onto Parker, even tighter than before, and growled at what he perceived to be Moreau. Shelley smirked, staying in character.
"Relax, Spencer; it's not time for that," he said before rolling one bottle to him, and the other to Parker. Eliot eyed them suspiciously, and Shelley laughed. "Really, Spencer; what would be the point of drugging you now? I already have you, and you've been very docile with your little friend around. Go on; drink it. You must be thirsty." Then he left. Eliot and Parker finally picked up the bottles, and drank.
After about five minutes, Eliot started feeling tired. He looked confused for a moment, then Parker watched apprehensively as realization dawned on him.
"That son of a…" he started to say as he struggled against the effects of the drug.
"What is it, Eliot?" she asked, playing along.
"He drugged me! The liar drugged me!"
"No, I don't think he did," she. Said calmly. "Why would he?"
"To separate us!"
"But mine wasn't drugged."
"Why would he drug yours? He wouldn't have anything to fear from you." She gave a sly smile.
"I may have bitten the hand of one of his goons when he grabbed me; drew blood and everything." Eliot chuckled tiredly.
"That's my girl," he said. His words were like those of a big brother, and she couldn't help feeling good at hearing his praise, even though she didn't think she'd done anything to deserve it. In fact, she thought the opposite. She was lying to him, after all, conning him, and everyone knew how Eliot felt about that.
"I think you're just tired, Eliot," she said soothingly. "You've been here a long time; longer than me."
"Maybe you're right," he agreed sleepily.
"Just go to sleep now, I won't leave you, I promise," she assured him. Moments later, his head was resting in her lap.
"Guys, did it work?" she called out to the team once she was sure he was really out. Nate, Hardison, and Shelley came in, while Sophie waited by the door. They lifted Eliot out of Parker's arms, and gently laid him down on the bed.
"Sophie, I need to draw his blood, and get it tested to see if it worked. Doctor Collins is waiting at a secure clinic not far from her. Does Eliot have anything like…" he stopped when she handed him a blood test kit. "Stupid question, of course he does," he finished before drawing a sample, then standing up. As the others moved away, Parker lay on the bed next to Eliot, and watched him carefully. Sophie stood by the bed.
"Parker, you did real good today," she said gently. "Now he just needs rest. There's nothing more you can do." But Parker shook her head.
"Yes, there is, Sophie. You heard me promise that I wouldn't leave him. He has to know that I'm still here when he wakes up." Sophie looked at Nate, who nodded, then she turned back to Parker.
"Alright. Call us if you need anything," she said before following Nate out.
The sun was just setting when Shelley contacted them with the news that Eliot was in the clear. Everyone was more than a little relieved.
Eliot slept through the night, with Parker never leaving his side. The others were too exhausted to go to their own homes, so they all just sort of dropped in various places in Eliot's apartment. All except Nate, of course.
It wasn't like he didn't try; the worry made him just as exhausted as everyone else. He curled up on the over-stuffed recliner, with Sophie practically on his lap, for a couple of hours, but who was he kidding? He gently moved Sophie so as not to wake her, then got a six-pack of beer from the fridge. He made a mental note to buy Eliot more alcohol, hoping he wouldn't forget, before going to sit at Eliot's bedside. He finally passed out just before dawn.
Eliot stirring made Nate sit up in his chair. Ignoring his stiff neck, he looked at his watch. It was 9:00 a.m. Eliot was just opening his eyes. He blinked a few times before staring at the ceiling.
"Eliot?" Nate said gently. Eliot rubbed his eyes a little, and yawned.
"Where am I?" he asked groggily.
"You're home." Eliot frowned.
"Home?" He finally looked at him, and his frown deepened. "Nate? What are you doing here?" He saw the empty beer bottles that littered the floor under the chair. "Did you drink all my beer?" Nate didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so he made a sound that was a little bit of both, causing Eliot to go from being confused to being concerned. "Nate, what's going on?" Now Nate was concerned.
"You don't remember?" Eliot shook his head, then tried to sit up, but something…no, someone was partially on top of him, preventing him. He noticed Parker for the first time, and then it suddenly started rushing back to him. His eyes grew wide.
"Moreau?!" he bolted upright, nearly knocking Parker off the bed. At least she was awake to calm him, because Nate had no idea how to do it.
"Easy, Eliot," she cooed as his eyes darted around. "You're okay; you're safe."
"Is in San Lorenzo, remember? We put him in the tombs, as your friend called them, 2 years ago." Eliot put his hands on her shoulders, as if making sure she was real. "Eliot, remember Joseph Rand? The mark we'd been reeling in for two weeks?" Eliot frowned, struggling to remember.
"Rand…caught me?" Parker nodded, and Nate was relieved that it was coming back to him. "He…gave me something. I…I thought I was seeing Moreau." She nodded again. "Shelley? You guys called Shelley?" He looked at Nate for confirmation on that one.
"Yeah, well, we thought he'd be better than Quinn. Don't want to owe him another favor, do you?" Nate said.
"No, Shelley was a good idea." He sat quietly for a minute, trying to remember more. "So, Moreau was never here? He didn't come back?" Parker shook her head, but Eliot saw a little fear in her eyes. "Then what's wrong?" he asked her gently. Her lip quivered slightly, but she tried covering it up by looking at Nate.
"Nate, could we have a minute?" Nate nodded, and stood.
"I have to buy more whiskey and beer for Eliot anyway," he said with a wink before leaving. Eliot rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"Crazy drunk got to my whiskey, too?" he muttered before turning his attention back to Parker. She gave a half shrug.
"A worried Nate tends to do that." He gave her a small smile.
"Yeah, and a worried Parker tends to act scared."
"I'm not worried."
"Then why are you on the verge of crying, darlin'?"
"Because I am scared," she whispered.
"Why are you scared, sweetheart? I'm all better." She nodded numbly.
"Eliot, what's the last thing you remember?" Eliot took a minute before answering.
"It's kinda fuzzy right now. I was injected with a hallucigen, right?" She nodded. "I must have been pretty out of it, huh?"
"Considering that you thought most of the team was working for Moreau, I'd say so, yeah." His eyes widened slightly.
"I did?" She nodded.
"You actually though Shelley was Moreau." Eliot winced a little.
"Well, I'm gonna have to make that up to him somehow," he muttered.
"And you thought Nate was some dead goon named Chapman." Now Eliot groaned and put a hand to his head.
"I should text him and tell him that the booze is on the house," he said as he started to get up to search for his phone, but Parker put a hand on his shoulder to stop him.
"Do you remember who you thought Sophie was?" Eliot started to shake his head, then something came to him.
"I think I called her an assassin," he said sheepishly. Now, how was he going to make that up to her? "Maybe I should take her shoe shopping…ya think?"
"Might be a good idea," she said with a sad smile.
"What about Hardison?"
"He came in once, but it was with the others, so you didn't really seem to notice him." Eliot nodded, then he frowned.
"Only once?" he sounded a little disappointed.
"Well, he was kind of busy; testing the residue in the vial, looking up drug information, trying to reach a contact of Shelley's over the phone." Eliot looked relieved that his best friend hadn't forgotten him, or hadn't been scared of him in that condition.
"Do you know who the contact was?" he asked curiously.
"A Dr. Collins, I think." His eyes widened a little at the name. "You're probably going to have to explain to Hardison what the phrase, 'the horses are loose, and there's been a stampede' means." Eliot smiled slightly at that.
"And you? Who did I think you were?" Parker got that fearful look in her eyes again, and it filled him with sudden dread.
"You thought I was just me," she said in a small voice. He studied her carefully. Parker thought it was kind of like when he was checking her over for injuries after a job gone wrong.
"Parker, did I hurt you?" he asked, trying to keep the fear out of his voice. Parker's eyes widened for a moment.
"Of course not; you didn't hurt any of us. But…I may have hurt you. Or, at least, maybe I will, when you remember what I had to do." Eliot had to keep from smiling.
"Somehow, I doubt that, Parker."
"Eliot, do you remember anything involving me in your hallucinations?" She really wished that he would; it would make this confession a lot easier. He frowned slightly, thinking.
"I may have thought that Moreau had captured you too." Parker looked away. "Parker, come on; talk to me. I promise I won't get mad, and you know I don't take those promises lightly." She knew that. Everyone knew that Eliot Spencer's promises were always kept. But she bit her bottom lip uncertainly, still hesitating. "Is that what I thought?" She nodded.
"You thought that because I made you," she blurted out, trying to control the tears in front of him. "I had to con you, Eliot. I'm sorry! I know you hate it when team members do that, but…" He smiled to himself. Clearly, she hadn't noticed that he wasn't as strict about that ever since he did it himself with the incident involving Moreau.
"Parker, look at me," he said. She turned towards him, but wouldn't look him in the eye. He gently tilted her face up so that she would, then brushed away her tears. "I'm not mad. This was an…unusual situation. I'm sure you had a good reason." She nodded.
"Your mind was going to the worst place it could go, and I couldn't let it." Eliot frowned.
"The worst place?" he repeated numbly. She nodded again.
"You said it yourself; you barely survived it the first time," she whispered. "It was the only thing I could think of to distract you." And just like that, the fog lifted.
Eliot remembered Joseph Rand, trying to make Parker leave him behind by telling her what he did for Moreau, then finding out in the van that she and the rest of the team had not only figured it out already, but had forgiven him for it. He remembered his mind starting to go back to the warehouse, reliving the beatings and electrocutions, telling Nate that it was about to happen again; the things that finally broke him those last few days…and then, everything suddenly changed. He remembered that Parker was suddenly there, scared, and needing him. He was suddenly protecting her from Moreau, who he'd thought had escaped from the tombs in San Lorenzo. She didn't want him to leave her, not even for a second. So, he stayed, instead of trying to provide an escape for her, and focused only on protecting her.
"Eliot?" Parker said warily when he started shaking and staring wide eyed off into space. Is he angry? she wondered, eyeing the door, trying to decide whether she should make a run for it. He finally looked at her again, and now there were tears in his eyes, but, typical Eliot, he was refusing to let them fall. But his lip was quivering along with the rest of him. He touched his forehead to hers, closed his eyes, and swallowed hard, not daring to speak just yet. Then, he embraced her with a shaky breath that almost came out like a whimper. Only when she could no longer see his face did he let silent tears fall. Parker wasn't really sure what was going on, but since he didn't seem mad at her, she hugged him back.
Eliot kept trying to find the words, but he couldn't. No one had ever done anything like this for him before; no one had even tried. No one ever cared enough to. But this innovative little thief had somehow found a way to protect him, and not from anything physical, but from his own mind. The words 'thank you' weren't enough, but those were the only words he could think of. So, after willing the tears to stop, which he hated to admit took a few minutes, he took a deep, steadying breath.
"Thank you, Parker," he said with all his heart. Parker thought it was a little weird for him to be thanking her for lying to him, but she decided to let it go, and to, for once, not say the first thing that popped into her head.
Later that afternoon, while everyone had gathered around the t.v. for a much-needed day off, and after a little brotherly bantering between Eliot and Hardison about the fact that Eliot had clearly lied a few years ago, when he claimed he didn't own a t.v., there was a knock on the door. Nate got up, and let Shelley in.
"Hey guys," he greeted. Eliot looked up from the couch and smiled. "Ooh, Die Hard," he said when he saw what they were watching. "I love that movie."
"Who doesn't?" Eliot said.
"We decided to finally see why the guys like it so much," Parker explained, sitting in between Eliot and Hardison.
"It's actually not bad," Sophie admitted. Nate, who was once again sitting in the recliner with her, looked at her and smiled. "What?"
"That statement might be more convincing if I didn't have to warn you when the really violent parts were coming up so you could hide your face in my shoulder." She smiled slyly, and a little seductively.
"Well, then I wouldn't like it, now would I? Besides, admit it; you like it when I hide my face in your shoulder." Nate rolled his eyes rather than admit it. Eliot looked at Shelley again with his own eye roll over the couple bantering.
"Don't worry, you learn to tune them out," he told him, not quietly. They didn't even seem to notice. Shelley just smiled. "Come on, man, sit down and watch it with us."
"Wish I could, but I gotta get going. Just came back to see how you were doing, and to say goodbye." Eliot looked a little disappointed that he couldn't stay, but he nodded, stood up, and smiled at him.
"Let me walk you out." They headed for the door. "You still coming to the poker game next Friday?"
"Of course." Once out in the hall with the door behind him closed, Eliot grew serious.
"Thanks, man," he told his friend. "Seriously, I owe you; both for saving my life, and for calling you Moreau several times. Sorry about that." Shelley waved that last part off.
"Don't worry about it."
"So, how's Collins doing?"
"Still a Mother hen. She wants you to call her." Eliot winced a little.
"She must have been pretty worried, huh?"
"Well, considering that we've never had to use that code we came up with when we were in the same unit before, I'd say that's a safe bet."
"Is her private number still the same?" Shelley nodded. "Okay, I'll call her tonight. So, where are you off to." Shelley smiled mischievously.
"Classified." Eliot laughed.
"Of course it is." They gave each other a brotherly hug and an affectionate slap on the back. "Just stay out of trouble, okay?" Eliot gave him their customary farewell before letting him go, which Shelley returned with his usual grin.
"You too, brother." And then he was off. Just then, Parker popped her head out.
"Come on Eliot," she called to him, causing him to turn around. "Hardison won't stop whining about you missing what he says is the best part."
"Whining?" they both heard Hardison repeat from the couch. "Girl, that hurt." She rolled her eyes, not really believing him.
"Everything okay?" she asked Eliot. He smiled at her affectionately before nodding, something he didn't do enough of with anyone on the team, always trying to hide his feelings. But, after all she did yesterday, she deserved to see how he really felt, just this once. She smiled back. Putting an arm around her shoulder, they went back inside.