Hitters Make the Worst Patients

Everything went to plan getting the load of cars to take to the dock. Should have been straightforward. Give Penzer Auto a load of stolen cars for him to clone and try to resell.

He didn't know where things went wrong, but he knew he needed a getaway. He threw the keys to the load of cars into the air and ran. Early. Penzer's men showed up early. It seemed impossible to have one job that didn't get derailed.

Lucky and his men continued to fire as Eliot ran for the shipping containers.

Keeping the containers to his left, he looked for a place to take cover. Bullets whizzed by his head and pinged much too close for comfort.

His momentum propelled him past the end of the container, but he slowed his footsteps and pressed his back to the steel. The men were closing in on him. The gunshots sounded closer with each second.

Can't go back, Spencer. The edge of the dock loomed just ahead; the water below that. Only one option. Make a run for the dock. He had always been a strong swimmer. A glance back proved the men weren't going to give up easily. One on six normally wouldn't worry Eliot. But he was pinned down and he couldn't take down all six gunmen without getting hit.

Now or never. Eliot pushed himself away from the container and sprinted toward the water. The sounds of gunfire rang loud in his ears. Maybe that was why he didn't hear the car.

The world turned upside down. Pain bloomed in his shoulder and head as he hit the windshield, tumbled from the hood, and splashed into the water.

.

.

.

A fight after a swim in the harbor wasn't his best idea. He hurt all over and a concussion headache loomed on the horizon.

Before he could go downstairs he needed to clean his various cuts and change into dry clothes. No sense being wet, cold, and in pain.

A quick dose of acetaminophen later and he joined the team at a table downstairs.

Nate, Hardison and the girls enjoyed their meal while Eliot nursed his beer. The throbbing in his head made food a bad idea.

He and Nate had engaged in light-hearted banter about his car. That didn't make him feel better. A car had run headlong into Eliot after all. No way was he going to admit the car blindsided him, resulting in his head playing a game of chicken with the windshield. As he tumbled from the hood and into the water, he was sure the car had won that round.

Eliot tried to ignore the dizziness that assaulted him when he stood. Damn head injuries. He realized the team was watching him when his muddled mind registered the silence in the room.

He consciously held his shoulder still. "What?" Maybe if he injected his customary growl, they would stop staring at him.

"Nothing, man." Hardison's eyes shifted from Nate to Eliot. "Nate was just asking if you were calling it a night."

"Yeah. I'm callin' it a night." The irritation built as the team continued to watch him. "A man doesn't have to sit around and talk about it all night, does he?"

Nate leaned back in his chair with that damnable smug look that made you think he was watching the wheels of your mind turn. Creepy, Parker would call it. "Kinda early, isn't it, Eliot? You didn't even join in our meal."

Damn. There's the eyebrow quirk. Sophie's eyes bored into his skull which he swore made his headache worse. Better get out fast, Spencer. Unless you want to be here all night talking over your feelings with Sophie.

"I'm heading home. Is that a problem? I know I only got shot at, hit by a car, thrown in the river," he pointed at Parker. "Survived a car ride with the speed demon here and still got you and Sophie out. I guess since the car didn't break any bones, she thought she'd try by bouncing me around the backseat. Excuse me for wanting to unwind."

"Here we go with the hit by a car thing again." Parker's perturbed look would have been comical if he didn't have a jackhammer drilling behind his eyes.

"You ever been hit by a car, Parker? Huh? No?" She appeared unaffected by his growl and that pissed him off even more.

He grabbed his jacket on the way to the door.

"Where are you going?" Nate's voice hinted at curiosity.

"Home." He slammed the door to McRory's behind him and put on his jacket. He wanted to go home and take care of this headache. A sharp pain reminded him of his nearly dislocated shoulder. The jangling noise of his keys grated on his nerves as he dug them out of his pocket and headed toward his car. Metal gouged his palm as he tightened his grip to stop the tinny sound.

He paused with his hand on the door handle, thinking about the drive home. The shifting earth under his feet didn't give him confidence.

Dropping his hand to his side again, he decided walking was the best plan of action. The night air would be just the thing he needed to clear the fog from his brain. He walked to the back of the building, intent on walking to his own apartment.

He'd feel better tomorrow.

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Eliot shoved open the door to his apartment and set the alarm behind him.

He'd love nothing more than to go to bed and forget Penzer Auto, boosting cars, and even the team for a few hours.

His nose hurt. Knives pierced through every inch of his head and he swore he felt the bruises forming on his shins from the car bumper.

He dropped his jacket and over shirt on the leather couch and headed for the kitchen. The fridge held his usual beer, but with a head injury, he opted for a bottle of water. The peal of his cell phone broke the silence. With a weary sigh he settled himself on the barstool and dug the screaming thing out of his pocket.

"What do you want, Hardison?"

"Just checking in, man. You left pretty quick."

Eliot pinched the bridge of his nose. My head is gonna explode. "I thought hit by a car was self-explanatory." He felt sure he was masking any pain in his voice well enough to fool the hacker. At least it hadn't been Sophie that called.

"Parker was upset. Thought you might wanna-"

"All I want to do, Hardison, is take a couple days off and try to forget about that damn near fatal ride with Parker." Eliot heard a rustling in the background and other voices whispering to Hardison. The damn team is feeding him lines. The British accent sounded quiet, but it was there. Shit.

"Tell the team I'm fine. I don't need motherin'." Thank you very much, Sophie. "What I need is for people to leave me alone so I can relax."

"But, Eliot-

He disconnected the call without feeling the least bit guilty.

After he finished his bottled water he forced his limping, bruised legs to propel him to the bathroom. He felt sure he could stay awake long enough to take care of his various pains.

The light bathed the bathroom in a too bright glow. He squinted at his reflection, and frowned at the cut in his right eyebrow. His left shoulder already had red splotches appearing that would become a kaleidoscope of colors in a few days.

He peeled off his shirt and jeans as he stumbled for the bed.

A miscalculated step banged his shin into the armchair in his room. "Fuck!" That will be a fantastic shade of dammit tomorrow.

He skipped a night spent reading in his overstuffed chair. He set an alarm to wake him every two hours, and collapsed into bed.