Chapter 16

Nate woke shortly after midnight and lay with quietly in the bed staring up at the stark white ceiling above him. he could feel Sophie holding his hand. He raised his head slightly and looked down at his side, she lay with her head on the bed his hand wrapped into hers. He smiled slightly then looked to his other side and saw Parker resting her head on the bed asleep as well with Hardison sprawled out uncomfortably beside her. Then he looked up and saw Eliot sitting in a chair his eyes closed and his head resting against the wall behind him. He closed his eyes again briefly and then opened them at the sound of Eliot's voice.

"How you feeling?"

"Like I have been shot. How are they any damage?"

"No nothing." Eliot assured him.

"Good. So what is the plan now?"

"We go home." Eliot said looking at him intently.

"Home…" Nate almost whispered.

"Yes Nate, it's over, it's done and now we go home." Eliot said. "Your home, our home."

"What time is it?" Nate said averting his eyes from the man, he was not sure what he was going to do or where he was going to go to be honest with himself, he had not decided as to what came next.

"Just after midnight."

"I think I am going to get some more sleep." Nate told him not wanting to talk about it anymore and not wanting to wake the others, he was not ready to talk to them either. He closed his eyes and soon his breathing had become even, and Eliot knew he had fallen back to sleep.

He stood watching him for a short time then went and sat down again. He looked around the room, the easy part was done now came the difficult part, and he just hoped that Nate would accept this second chance, would allow himself to return to their family again. Well those are tomorrow's problems he thought with a sigh and then he too closed his eyes and drifted back into sleep.

By the next afternoon Nate had been released and they were all sitting on the Interpol Jet preparing to return to the States. The atmosphere was thick with tension as nobody had spoken about what had happened and what was going to happen now. Sophie had tried to get close to Nate but he had avoided her, and them except for thanking them for the plan and getting it done.

Nate sat in his comfortable chair with a blanket that Sophie insisted on draping over him and watching them all. He knew this was going to be a long flight in more ways than one. They had not insisted on speaking, but the flight was ten hours to New York and then another couple to Portland and he was sure they were going to use the opportunity to talk about everything, seeing as he would be a captive audience.

The plane took off and once they were at cruising speed Sophie rose and poured him a whiskey, handing it to him she took a seat beside him and the other three slid into the seats opposite.

"You want to talk." Nate said looking at all of them and taking a sip of his drink.

"Not about the past." Sophie stated and Nate looked at her with raised eyebrows. "Only about the future." She smiled at him.

"Ah…" He said and looked down at his whiskey contemplating that statement. The future, what was the future, was it with them, could it be?

"We have lost three years we don't want to lose any more." Parker said drawing his eyes to her.

"Yeah man, we are just happy you are back." Hardison said.

"No strings Nate, just the offer, we want you back in our lives, in our family so what do you say?" Eliot added.

"Guys…"

"Don't say no." Parker said suddenly. "You can't say no."

"Parker it is not as simple as that."

"Why not?" Eliot asked.

"Because I…well…"

"The worst things I ever did Nate was for that man and you never asked, you never questioned, and you never judged, we won't either 'cause it don't matter. Whatever went before is done, this is now, this is a new beginning, we are giving you what you gave us and just asking that you take it."

"Nate…" Sophie's soft voice drew his gaze to her. "I know it has been hard, it has for all of us, but it is over. I love you Nathan Ford and that will never change, no matter what, so now it is your decision, we want you like Parker told you, but we won't force you, if you chose not to…not to come back to us, to your family we will respect your wishes because you mean that much to us."

"We will never speak of this again unless you want to, because it really doesn't matter, none of what you did or did not do, none of it matters Nate except that we are a family and we always will be even if you don't want to come back." Parker said her chest hurting at the thought that he was going to say he did not want to come back to them.

Silence then settled over the group as they waited for Nate to say something, there was nothing more they could say, nothing more they could do, it was now up to him to decide and then they would take it from there.

Sophie watched him closely, she felt the same way she had that first time they had split up at the end of the first year they were together. She had not wanted to go then, none of them had wanted to split but Nate had insisted. Then when they came back and Nate had told them he was out, not interested they had all decided that was unacceptable, they had wanted him back then, just like they did now and then he had come back to them and she could see they all hoped he would this time too. She was not sure what she would do if he said no, and she was not sure how they would react either. They had discussed it and decided to leave it up to him and that they would accept whatever he decided but she was not sure she could if he said no to them.

"I have missed you all." Nate said softly and Sophie felt her heart beat a little faster. "I…I would like that."

"Oh Nate…" Sophie said grabbing his hand and leaning in to kiss him on the cheek. "Thank you…I…thank you."

"Nothing to thank me for Sophie, I love you and I missed you all. You are right Eliot it is done now, over and I…well I would like to…to find what I lost."

"You never lost anything Nate, you never lost us, and you never will, you were just…on a job." Parker said smiling at him.

"Well then it seems to be settled." Nate said squeezing Sophie's hand.

"It does." She said then leaned in for another kiss as he turned towards her. "Now Mr Ford it is a long flight, and you need your rest, the doctor said it would take some time for you to recover fully so why don't you get some sleep."

"Sounds good." He said as he lay his seat back and she pulled the blanket up over him before kissing him gently again.

"Thank God." Sophie said as they moved to the other side of the plane while Nate slept. "I thought… just for a second I thought maybe he would not want it."

"Yeah, me too." Eliot said. "After the way he acted in the hospital."

"I knew he would come back." Parker said smiling broadly.

"Now we go home and then we get back to our lives." Hardison said, the family was back together and now life could go on.

"You know Sophie…"

"I know Eliot, it is not going to be easy, and he is going to have a lot to deal with, but he will, we will all of us together."

Nate lay and listened to them. Sophie was right he thought, he had a lot to work through, but he regretted none of it, he had never done anything to innocents, those he had killed it was either kill or be killed, or like Cartel to protect them and he regretted none of it. He had not though for an instant he would be back with them. He would never have returned if it had not been for the fact that there was a hit on Eliot and he had to do something to protect them then, to protect his Hitter. He was simply happy that they had felt the same, that they wanted him back and had made it clear to him, because as much as they had worried about him not wanting them, he had worried about them not wanting him. He smiled slightly to himself as he heard them making their plans for when they returned to Portland and then he did drift into sleep secure in the knowledge that he was here, with his family and all was right in his world for the first time in a long time.

OK well that is the end, I hope you all enjoyed. Bettamax I hope I did your pompt justice.