So sorry this chapter took so long! This is the last chapter so I wanted to make it count. Another huge thank you to whimseyrhodes, for working with me on this fic. She will also be helping me write a sequel for this story and I'm already working on it so get ready! And aren't you proud of me? This chapter is over 2000 words! I've never really done that before. Yayyy! Don't forget to read, enjoy, and review. Byeeeeeeee!
Adler had a sharp knife against Eliot's neck, about to end him.
"I guess this is goodbye," he whispered into the man's ear. Eliot closed his eyes, waiting for the worst "It's been such a good ti-"
Eliot felt the tip of the knife cut his neck and then the sound of a gunshot went off, then there was silence. His eyes had still been closed, but when he opened them, he saw Adler lying on the ground, a red stain flowing over his chest.
He turned his head and saw Parker standing at the doorway of the cell, holding a gun in her shaking hands. Her wide eyes caught his and she dropped it, the metallic clang echoing in the room.
"...par...ker?" he gasped, staring at her.
"Eliot," she mumbled, immediately running over to kneel next to him.
She quickly picked the cuffs and grunted as she helped him stand up, scanning him over. Tears began streaming down her face when she saw the hitter's condition. He was staring at her, the sparkle in his eyes now gone and pain replacing it. His stance was forced, but Parker knew that from the weight he was letting her support that he was close to blacking out.
She gently ran her hands over his chest and shoulders, as if not wanting to believe that he was actually there. Suddenly she pulled Eliot to her and smashed her lips against his. Eliot gasped, but returned the kiss.
The moment lasted for a minute before Eliot and Parker pulled away, staring at each other.
"Come on," Parker whispered. "Let's get you home."
"Uh-huh," was his only reply.
Parker slung his arm over her shoulders and helped Eliot walk out of the warehouse. He practically whimpered when walking into the sunlight, raising his hand to block the light from his now-sheltered eyes. Parker guided him to Lucille, ignoring the others' reaching hands, carefully lowering him down onto a pad of blankets.
Eliot felt gentle hands on his body and he tried unsuccessfully to open his eyes.
"Hardison, how far are we from the HQ?" he heard Sophie's voice ask.
"Well, counting the traffic, about three hours." Nate replied for him.
"It's gonna be okay, Sparky," he felt Parker murmur against his temple, her soft breath gently moving his hair. Managing to open his eyes just a little, he saw a blur of gold that blocked his vision and he closed his lids again. His head lolled to the side into Parker's hands, and her fingers lightly caressed the lines on his face.
He slowly reached for her hand, interlocking his fingers with hers.
As darkness began to take over him, he let out a small smile, finally allowing himself to fall into oblivion.
In the meantime, Sophie and Parker began the long process of tending to Eliot's wounds. They had used scissors to cut the remains of his shredded shirt off, gasping at what they saw. Cuts, electrical burns, and bruises in the shape of boots covered his entire chest. The skin on his wrists was shredded and raw, and there was a rope burn around his neck. His skin was warm, too warm, and they worried about a fever as they noticed him wheezing softly with each breath.
Shaking her head, Sophie concentrated on what she could fix, gently spreading ointment into the abrasions on his wrists and wrapping them with soft gauze. She did the same around his neck, her lips compressing into a tight line as she imagined what that particular injury was from. Each time he twitched or sucked in a sharp breath the grifter paused for a moment, her eyes flying to his face, but each time she was met with no response. The hitter was still heavily unconscious.
As Sophie worked on his wrists and neck, Parker tended the wounds on his chest. Her fingers rubbed the salve onto the cuts in his skin, lingering here and there as she admired the hard muscle under her hands. She wasn't surprised that Eliot's body was practically built out of bricks, but she'd never seen him without even a t-shirt, his beautiful physique nearly always hidden under layers and layers of clothes.
When they'd soothed and wrapped what they could, they made him as comfortable as possible. Making sure that his back was padded from the hard floor of the van, they propped his head on a soft pillow, put more under his legs, then covered him with blankets, tucking them securely, but not too tightly, around his body to help ward off shock.
When Eliot finally managed to wake up, he found himself in his own bed, back in his own room, back at the HQ. He let out a heavy sigh of relief, finally not having to not worry about someone trying to kill him. He ran a shaky hand through his hair, his eyes moving around the room, his heart nearly stopping when seeing who was in front of him.
Parker was sitting in a chair right beside his bed. She was curled up in a ball, her legs against her chest, eyes closed.
"Parker?!" he exclaimed and Parker's flew open as she jerked awake, nearly falling off the chair.
She leaned forward, a grin on her face and her blue eyes shining. "You're awake," she said softly, sitting forward.
"You...you're a-alive?" he answered back.
She tilted her head like a confused cat and frowned a little. "Um. Yeah?"
"But I heard….Adler had you, he… He tortured you. And Soph… And...and everyone." His words were slow and dazed as his eyes shifted around the room.
"No!" she exclaimed, sitting up straight and shaking her head fervently. "No! Eliot, we're all okay, we're all fine!"
"Wasn't...real?" he asked, his brows furrowing as he finally started to believe that they really were okay.
"I promise," she said, moving to sit on the edge of the bed.
He closed his eyes and his lips pressed together as the bed dipped under even her slight weight, waking the pains in his entire body. He felt something at his lips and opened his eyes again to see her holding a glass of water up. Opening his mouth, he drank slowly, only managing to finish about half of it before pulling back.
"'S enough," he rasped, panting a little at the effort of drinking a simple glass of water. "Sorry."
"That's okay, Sparky," Parker said, smiling. "I'm just glad you didn't get dead."
He looked over at her to see her happy grin, the brightness of her smile making her positively glow.
"How… How long?" he managed to ask, his throat raw.
"Over a month." Her glow dimmed.
His brows rose at her whispered confession and he felt his jaw drop open a little. "A….month?"
Parker pulled back a little and bit her lip as she nodded. "I missed you," she whispered sadly. "A lot."
"I just can't…. You're alive," he whispered again, his eyes fixed on her face.
"We all are," she said, her voice almost as soft as his.
Eliot raised his hand, his fingertips lightly touching her chin, and then her cheek. The thief didn't move, letting him prove to himself that she was real.
His arm shook with the effort and then finally dropped back to the bed as his exhausted body gave out for the moment.
Parker tilted her head again and frowned a little. "For what?"
"For believing….that you were dead. For letting Adler win."
"You didn't," she shook her head.
"He almost killed me," he breathed, his voice nearly silent.
"But he didn't," she insisted. "You're still alive."
He shook his head. "I gave up," he said, his masks cracking. "I gave up…"
"Eliot," she leaned in to cup his cheek. "Eliot, you never gave up. I could see it in your eyes, you were fiercer than you realize."
His brows furrowed in disbelief but was too weak to argue any further. He took her words into his dreams as he passed out.
Throughout the next few days whenever he woke up, Parker was there. Her presence became a calming influence on Eliot as he slowly got stronger. It was hard to reconcile the hyper twenty-pounds-of-crazy thief with the attentive blonde who now seemed content to stay near him for whatever he needed.
It took determination for the hitter to regain some of his strength back, but he forced himself to eat whatever the team brought to him and drink as much water as he could to combat the extended deprivation he'd endured. He chafed at his body's need for rest yet realized the need, so as much as he didn't like being inactive, he listened to his body's demands and slept as much as he could.
He began to count on Parker to be there when he woke, and looked forward to seeing her smile. He wondered about the kiss when she had rescued him, but didn't want to bring it up for fear that she would brush it off.
During that time, the rest of the team- minus Parker, who was doing her best to try and take care of their hitter- tried to search for Tony Adler's brother, Greg. With Eliot still healing, they wanted to make sure he was in no other danger. At least for now.
In the end, they found no traces of Greg Channing, and decided to leave the case for the time being. Instead, they wanted to focus on helping Eliot recover, which they knew would take a long time considering what the interrogator had done to him.
In a couple of weeks, he had almost fully recovered, but a new challenge now plagued him: nightmares.
He would wake up every night, sweating and panting from all the severe dreams that haunted him each day. They never let him sleep for very long, waking him up nearly every time he managed to fall asleep, which left him exhausted for the whole day.
At one point, Parker took notice of that and began studying Eliot's behavior, to try to figure out what was going on.
She had been in an air vent just above Eliot's bed when she suddenly heard small whimpers. She scooted closer to the vent cover to take a look and saw Eliot, tossing and turning, muttering her name. She jumped out of the vent and ran to his bed, trying to wake him up.
"Eliot, it's okay. Everything is okay. I'm here!" she pleaded.
Eliot lurched up out of the nightmare, his back stiffly straight and wide eyes fixed on the wall in front of him. His entire body trembled and his breath sawed in and out of his lungs.
"Eliot….Sparky, you're okay," Parker soothed, her voice quiet and calm. Her hands settled gently on his shoulder and he jerked, his head whipping to the side. His eyes were still wide, his pupils blown, but he started to focus on her as she continued to talk to him like he would a spooked horse.
"...par…..Parker?" he finally whispered, his voice harsh. "Parker?"
"Yeah, I'm here," she said, watching his shaking hand rise to touch her cheek. She leaned a little into his touch.
His eyes started to water against his will and she slid her arms around him, pulling him close. His head rested on her shoulder and his hands went around her waist and he held her surprisingly tightly as his shoulders shook, and Parker belatedly realized he was crying. She caressed his hair, her fingers threading through sweat dampened curls until he finally calmed and pulled away, head down in embarrassment.
"Sorry," he rasped, looking away.
"Don't," she said.
He turned his head, looking her with a frown on his face.
"Don't be sorry, Sparky." She cupped his cheek, her thumb sliding softly along his cheekbone.
His eyes dropped to her lips as she spoke and he felt himself leaning forward. He was surprised when he was met halfway, her warm, dry lips landing on his. He heard a soft sigh and he lifted his hand to slide under her hair, settling on the back of her neck as they kissed slowly and gently.
Parker practically felt Eliot's heart beat out of his chest as he kissed her. She brought her hand and entangled it with his hair, wanting this moment to last forever.
The kiss lingered on for about a minute, before they both pulled away.
Eliot stared at Parker with confusion written all over his face. He picked up his hand- which had started to tremble even more than before- and nudged a strand of her hair behind her ear. Parker came in to kiss him one more time, smiling as he returned the motion.
The next thing they knew, they were laying beside each other, Parker's head on his chest, Eliot's hand protectively holding onto her small form.
"Thank you, Parker." Eliot whispered into her ear, kissing the top of her head.
"You're welcome, Eliot." Parker replied, taking his hand.
She lightly drew small patterns on his hand and arm until finally, they were both asleep in each other's arms.
As Eliot drifted into darkness, he thought about everything that had happened. Even throughout all the pain he was put through, he still survived. And with Parker cuddled beside him, he began to understand how… and why.