Chapter 3

Four days later and Nate was still in ICU, they had however removed the ventilator but the Mastermind had still not woken. The Leverage crew had sat virtual vigils at his bedside through the cameras that Parker had installed. Nate was mostly alone and that broke Sophie's heart, he should not be alone, not in a hospital, a place he hated and, well feared. Sterling came in every day to see him and get an update on his condition and then there were nurses and doctors, but nobody else.

On the fifth day in the early morning Nate finally emerged. He opened his eyes and but lay still. He heard the sounds of the hospital, sounds he hated, and sounds that brought back so many memories.

"He's awake." Eliot said as Sophie approached the bench. "Couldn't sleep again?" He said looking at the woman. None of them had really slept well in the last five days since the disaster aboard the Falcon, but Sophie even less than the rest.

"That's good." Sophie said taking a seat and watching Nate as he lay staring up at the ceiling. She did not bother to answer Eliot's question.

"You know it was a good plan." Eliot said softly. "Good rescue." It was and it would have worked if Nate had not been injured he thought to himself.

"Yes Eliot, just not good enough." Sophie sighed. Eliot put his hand on her arm and then left to get them each a cup of coffee.

"He always made sure we all got out, all of us." Sophie said almost to herself. She had prided herself on her plan, on her rescue, but they had not all gotten out, Nate did not get out, the one person she had gone there to save.

"He did this time too Sophie." Eliot said placing her coffee in front of her. "We are all out, we are all safe."

"Except him." Sophie said softly.

"You know Sophie, we have been a team for two years now, and every time there was a chance of something going wrong he has always had contingency plans, most of those involved him taking the fall, he has never had to use them, but he did this time. He was always willing to take the fall for us. But we will get him back."

Sophie looked at the Hitter. He had an unwavering loyalty to Nate, they all did and she was not entirely sure why that was. From that first job they had stuck by him, even when his drinking got out of hand. Those six months they were apart, they had all missed him, missed his presence, and missed the job too. But it was for Nate they went back for. They were all so happy when they had roped him back in. Then she left. She left because she had too. She had been lost and she needed time to find herself. She loved Nate, she always had, and working with him, seeing him every day and knowing he loved her but was not willing to take that step. Then her 'boyfriend' breaking up with her for the reasons he had, he was right of course, he had not known her. The only person in the world that knew her, really knew her was Nate. So she had left. During those months Nate had gone from bad to worse, he had started drinking again and was taking more risks that usual. Tara had of course kept her informed as she had agreed and then finally with the Bonano job, well Nate had completely lost it. That phone call. The one where she could barely hear him, that phone call had made her heart sing. He had not said the words but the emotion was there, the fact that he needed her, wanted her that alone would have brought her back. Then tears welled as she remembered the kiss. The desperate, passionate and loving kiss, the look in his eyes, the expression of love and of need. She had slapped him then, slapped him because the kiss had told her what she wanted to know, but he had done it when they could not be together, when he was handcuffed to a railing and was giving himself up so that they could have their freedom. She had been so very angry at that moment, and she had slapped him and walked away. She had not known he was hurt, if she had she would not have left and that is why he had made sure they did not know, because he knew they, all of them, would never have left him. Now she sat and watched him as he lay in a hospital ICU alone.

"Sophie are you ok?" Eliot asked looking over at the woman.

"What…oh yes, just thinking about everything that happened." Sophie said softly.

"Well now that he is awake they will probably move him out of ICU, then we may get our chance." Eliot said also watching the man intently, also noting that his vital signs had improved and knowing that they would move him soon and that would give them a chance at a rescue.

"I don't think he will allow that." Sophie said looking earnestly at the Hitter. "He made a deal with Sterling, but besides that without his testimony Kadjic will go free and the Mayor and Nate will not allow that to happen. No he will ensure he testifies, then maybe he will think about letting us get him out." Sophie said knowing the man well enough to know he was not going to let Kadjic go free so that he can gain his own freedom.

"Yeah…" Eliot sighed. He knew she was right, that was who Nate was. "But when this is over, I am going to have a long chat with him about this whole affair. He had no right to con us, to do what he did." Eliot growled, he hated that Nate had conned them and then did what he had done, hated it.

"I know." Sophie said smiling at him. "Thanks for the coffee, I think I am going to get cleaned up, see you for breakfast?" Is was not really a question, Eliot had ensured that they had all had a good breakfast to start the day and she knew he loved cooking for them, taking care of his family.

Eliot smiled and nodded then turned back to Nate. The Mastermind had drifted back to sleep. We will get you out Nate, and then, then we are going to set some ground rules, you don't con your own team man, you just don't do it Eliot thought to himself.

Three hours later the Leverage crew were sitting at the breakfast table enjoying one of Eliot's breakfasts with Nate in the background still sound asleep in the ICU of Boston General.