So this is my take on the Maltese Falcon ending, I have never liked it that they just glossed over the fact that Nate was shot and how bad the injury could have been. So this covers what might have transpired after that until the team got back together again.

Chapter 1

Sophie felt the love pour from him the love and the desperation in that one kiss. This is what he brought her back for, this, to let her know how much he really loved her. But he was standing there, chained to a railing of a ship and there was nothing she could do. He had given himself up to get them out of the situation they were in. He had made a deal with Sterling, Sterling of all people. She looked him in the eyes and saw the love, saw the apology and her hand flew up slapping him hard on the cheek. Then she walked away, Eliot behind her giving Sterling a warning of what was to come should they meet again. Quickly they made their way to the helicopter, her helicopter, her rescue that he had scorned in favour of sacrificing himself. She climbed in and saw Eliot look back and hesitate slightly before shaking his head and closing the door before climbing into the front seat. Parker sat beside her, quiet and pouting, Hardison beside her, staring out the window at nothing. Then the chopper moved out of sight of the ship, taking them away to safety.

"He's bleeding, get an ambulance here now…" They heard Sterling say and all of them gasped at that.

"Who is this guy?" They heard another FBI man say as they saw them move closer to Nate.

"My name is Nate Ford, and I am a thief…" They heard Nate say and then laugh before a coughing fit brought that to a halt.

"Get me the keys now…" Sterling ordered as he watched Nate. When the coughing fit was over he saw speckles of blood around the man's mouth, this was not good.

Sterling un-cuffed Nate from the rails, and laid him out on the deck his shirt ripped open to show Nathans bloody abdomen.

"Dammit Nate…" They heard Sterling say. "Where is that ambulance?"

"On its way." Nevins said looking down at the prone man and shaking her head. She could see two years of her work down the drain if the man died.

"No Nate…no don't you die on me we have a deal…" The heard Sterling say and they could just imagine what was happening, Nate was obviously in a bad way. "Come on Nate breathe…" Sterling said as he performed CPR desperately trying to bring Nate back.

"Took you long enough, he's not breathing and no pulse." Sterling told the EMT's as they arrived on scene. Sophie gasped brining her hand to her mouth to stop the sob from escaping. Eliot closed his eyes against the thought that he had left his friend to die.

"Hardison…" Eliot said softly to the Hacker looking back at him and seeing he needn't have asked the man was already hacking into the phones, radios and everything else he could to find out what was going on.

As Hardison worked they listened to the EMT's working, they heard the shouted "Clear" as they shocked Nate trying to get his heart started. Then they heard them shouting about still no heartbeat and to resume CPR. They heard the charging of the paddles and then the sweetest words they had ever heard came over the coms.

"We have a heartbeat." The EMT said. "Let's get him loaded."

"Thank God." Sophie blurted out as she let out the breath she had been holding.

"Ok guys I have the radio frequency for the EMT's" Hardison said as he linked in the radio to their earbuds. They came into the conversation between the driver and the Hospital.

"White male gunshot wound to the left abdomen. No exit wound, significant blood loss. ETA is fifteen minutes."

"No…no he could not have been that hurt, when did he get shot…this can't be happening." Sophie said listening to the paramedic brief the hospital.

Eliot just looked at her. He knew Nate was injured, but he did not think it was this bad. The man had been walking, he had stood there and told them to leave, and it had not looked that bad. Damn the man. He should have stayed, he should have fought, he should have got Nate out, they had said they were with him all the way, now he was alone in an ambulance and from the sounds of it he may very well not survive. He had done this for them, to get them out. Damn the man.

Parkers' eyes had gone wide with fear. They had left Nate, they had left him and he was badly hurt, now he was alone and he might die, he might die and it would be for them. She looked at Eliot and saw the fear in his eyes. Hardison was silent. He sat back in his seat, his eyes closed trying to shut out the fact that Nate may be dying and Sophie just looked lost.

"Which hospital Hardison?" Eliot asked looking back at the Hacker. "Dammit Hardison which hospital?"

Hardison opened his eyes and looked at the Hitter then nodded. He quickly determined they were taking Nate to Boston General and then set about hacking into all of their security. The chopper landed and they piled out of it and into the van that Sophie had procured ready for their getaway. Sitting quietly they listened to what was happening to Nate, Hardison had also brought up the cameras that were located at the entrance to the hospital and in the ER.

They saw the ambulance arrive with Sterling climbing out before they pulled Nate out on the stretcher. They had an oxygen mask over his face, he was bare from the waist up and they could see the blood that had seeped from his wound. They had hung and IV with fluids for him and he was pale and deathly still. The doctor rushed out and met them. Sterling had obviously removed Nate's earbuds as the coms were quiet. They watched as the EMT's handed Nate over to the ER doctor and watched as they ran along moving quickly through the doors to the trauma and operating rooms leaving the Leverage crew blind and deaf.

"Where we going?" Eliot asked Sophie softly. There was nothing more they could do for now. They had to get somewhere safe.

"Back to Nate's." Sophie replied then seeing the question mark in all their eyes she sighed heavily. "Nate made a deal with Sterling…he won't come after us, none of us, Nate's apartment will be safe, unless…" She paused fighting back the tears. "Then we will have to make another plan." She finished and they all knew what she meant. If Nate died, his deal with Sterling was off and Sterling would come after them.

Eliot nodded and gunned the motor setting off for Nate's apartment. He was still caught up with the fact that he had left Nate, abandoned him to his fate, to Sterling, to maybe his own death. The drive to the pub was quiet. Once there they made their way up to Nate's apartment, none of them spoke, all of them wondering what was happening with Nate.

Hardison immediately pulled up the images from the hospital and tied into all of the communication devices he could hack. They saw Sterling and Nevins sitting in the waiting room, obviously also awaiting news on Nate. Then he joined them sitting down on the sofa and accepting the glass of whiskey that Eliot had poured for him and downing it he felt the burn and welcomed it.

"He'll be alright." Parker said softly. "Nate is always alright." She was not speaking to any of them, she was trying to convince herself that Nate would be fine. None of them spoke, none of them answered.

Sophie stared at Sterling, damn the man, damn him for doing this to Nate. She had their escape planned, she had come to rescue Nate, to show him that he could rely on her. He had called her, told her he needed her and almost said the words she had wanted to hear for so long. She was here for Nate. Now he was in a hospital, a place he hated, he was alone and he could die. She may never get to speak to him again, never get to hold him again, and her last action had been to slap him. He stood there bleeding and he let her slap him. That kiss, that kiss had told her everything. It was desperate, it was needy and it was full of love, and she had slapped him and then walked away. She would never forgive herself if he died. That would be his last memory of her, her walking away from him again.

Five hours later nothing had changed. Sterling still sat waiting as did they, but Eliot knew that meant at least that Nate was still alive. None of them had moved from their positions and there had been relative silence throughout their long vigil. Nobody wanting to say anything. They were all angry with Nate for what he had done, and they were all frightened for him at the same time. They were all also angry at themselves for walking away. For not knowing that he was injured, for leaving him to the mercy of Sterling, leaving him to perhaps die, alone in a hospital room. It was what Nate had wanted, it was how he had saved them, but that did not make it any easier.

"We should be there." Hardison said softly his eyes fixed on Sterling. "Not him. We are Nate's family."

Yes they were. Parker thought. He had said so. His only family. Now they sat here and waited, unable to even be there for Nate in his hour of need. His last words ringing in her ears. Then they saw the doctor emerge from behind the doors and walk towards Sterling. They could not hear what was being said but they could all read body language, and Sterling's was telling them that the doctor was not imparting good news. Nate was not dead, of that they were sure because both Sterling and Nevins's would have reacted differently if that were so, but he was obviously not in a good way.

Before Hardison was even asked he was busy on his computers. He would hack the records, he was not sure how that would help, but Eliot had at least of sense of what went for what medically and they could have an idea of what Nate was facing. They watched as Sterling turned to speak to Nevins and then they both walked towards the agents standing at the door.

"Ok, he made it through surgery, he is in recovery but will be moved to Surgical ICU. He is in critical condition." Hardison said giving them the sparse details he was able to obtain. "It will take them a little while to upload the history but as soon as it is available we will have it."

"Critical condition." Sophie whispered. Looking at Eliot who met her gaze, they both had the same thought, they were going to lose Nate and they would never get a chance to tell him how they felt, how they all felt about him.