A/N: Originally written for the Hurt/Comfort exchange on AO3 for wali21.
The Waffle Job
He was supposed to be in the van.
There was only one thought that's really fully there in Eliot's mind and that was it. Hardison was supposed to be in the damn van. Not that he wasn't capable on his own. Not that Eliot doesn't respect Hardison's skillset beyond being a voice in their ears. But when they went into the job tonight, they all had their specific roles and positions to play. They were radically off-plan if Hardison was out of the van.
Eliot still rolled the side door until it crunched on the end of the track, still double checked to remove the possibility that he'd simply missed the hacker from his peek through the front windows. No such luck.
"Parker, do you have eyes on Hardison?" he barked into comms. It was the final hail mary. Because if Parker hadn't seen him and Eliot didn't have him in the van now-
"He's supposed to be in the van," Parker answered.
Eliot grimaced and wasn't able to temper his response. "I know that, Parker," he snapped. "Do you have eyes on him?" He closed the van door with another growl. In the distance he could hear the tell-tale whine of sirens. Cleanup coming to pick off the remaining dumbass lackeys who worked for their mark. Except now they had the potential to sweep up the three of them instead of just the rag tag remaining criminals. The carpark connected to the mark's building was practically deserted at this time of day.
Whenever they got the cops involved, Parker got twitchy. Twitchier than usual, that was. She was rattling off everything around her into Eliot's ear in an attempt to detail how very not present Hardison was. Eliot was torn between shutting her out, the cops, and the thread of tension in his gut that came from no longer being in control of the situation.
That was how he missed the footsteps behind him as the mark's remaining lackeys escorted him out, or at least that was what Eliot suspected later on. It was tricky remembering the exact details after getting walloped upside the head with an expandable baton. Stars had exploded behind his eyes. Even with the best pain tolerance around, there was always a physical limit to what a man's skull could take before the brain decided to kick off and let things cool down from there.
What Eliot did remember, however, was getting peeled off the ground by two pairs of hands and being dragged bodily from the scene.
Later was a fuzzy mess, the fantastic hangover that came from an unceremonious knockout. Eliot blearily came to at least twice on the bed before it finally stuck on the third go around. He rolled onto his side to pull his head out of the sunbeam that was trailing in from the western window. Familiar smells came first, then the recognizable line of sneakers and boots along the wall. Eliot was tense when he woke. Seeing home and realizing exactly where he had ended up allowed him to uncoil, to exhale.
He took inventory of the aches and pains. It felt like there was a grapefruit growing out the back of his skull. When he gingerly prodded it with one hand, the lump was definitely there but nowhere near as large as it seemed. Either way, Eliot's pride stung. Taking a hit was expected - that was his whole forte - but it was always preferable to have at least realized the fight was starting before getting your ass handed to you.
The whole job took longer to bring to Eliot's attention. While he fought to summon the memories, he took in the rest of his surroundings. The pillow that he had rolled onto was just barely damp and smelled of the unmistakable scent of Parker's shampoo. Eliot patted the spaces next to where he had been sprawled. There was warmth on Parker's side but not on Hardison's.
Hardison was supposed to be in the van, and he hadn't been.
Hardison . Eliot shoved himself upright as he immediately returned to the same thread of anxiety that had taken him in the carpark. He tuned in to the sounds of the house. Just before he was going to call out for Parker - she was clearly here - he heard the sweetest sound. "I'm telling you, babe, if the GTX's are as good as the specs claim then they're gonna sweep the market. It's going to be a reckoning for the graphics card industry. A. Reckoning." Alec. Going on and on about something that was definitely too geeky for either of his partners to care about yet Parker was happily letting him ramble.
Eliot slumped back against the headboard. His head had protested the rapid motion with an encore of the stars from before. But that was fine. He could deal with it now because Hardison was alright.
One head popped into the doorframe. Parker's face split into a grin when she spied Eliot somewhat up and moving. "You're awake!" she cried. Her head disappeared for a moment as she turned to call out the news to Hardison. "Are you almost done with the waffles? He's up. I told you he'd be up."
Belatedly Eliot realized he could smell batter cooking - possibly burning - in the front room. When Parker reemerged in the doorframe she had a glass of water and the glorious sight of his box of painkillers. "Thanks, darlin'," Eliot managed. He took a swig of the water to coat his throat and knock back some over the counter meds just to take the edge off the aches and pains. "Do I want to ask how long you've been trying to cook?" he asked. It was early for dinner, but Eliot's stomach didn't mind. He had apparently been out for well over eighteen hours.
Parker ignored the question and offered an answer to another one that Eliot had considered. "Hardison felt bad that you got whacked when you were looking for him," she said in a low voice.
"Hence the waffles." Eliot filled in the blanks. Waffles were simple and worked for any meal. Of course Eliot had to spend several months getting his partners to understand that just because they could be bought pre-made and frozen didn't mean that they should be eaten like that. Hardison scooted into the room with a tray loaded with a stack of fluffy, golden disks and an array of toppings that looked more suited to a sundae bar. He pressed a kiss to Eliot's cheek before setting the tray on its legs on the bed.
"This is the box stuff, isn't it?" Eliot grumbled. That was a shortcut that he had yet to get either of them to break free from. He didn't care, not now when he was hungry and achy, but he had to give Hardison some kind of hard time since it wouldn't be fair to prod at the man who had made him apology waffles.
Parker lifted an eyebrow. "I didn't see any boxes out there. How about you?"
"No boxes in sight."
Eliot rolled his eyes. "It's still box mix even when you put it in a canister for storage." He reached for a fork to spear one of the ones that was still steaming from the waffle iron. Hardison intercepted with a swat on his wrist.
"People who don't like Bisquick get second pick," Hardison said. It spoke to Eliot's long-tested self control that he didn't give Hardison a swat of his own. He let his boyfriend wriggle into the space next to him on the bed and cut a quarter off of the waffle that Eliot had been eyeing. Parker had forgone the plate situation and was draped across Eliot's ankles with one of the earlier, cooler waffles right in hand. Of course.
Eliot only had to wait Hardison out for another few moments before the man relented and shoveled the rest of the top waffle onto a plate. He even poured on some of the real Canadian maple syrup that Eliot kept on hand and topped it with a handful of blueberries. "You're only getting this because I want a whole one to myself next," Hardison insisted.
It was Eliot's turn to reward Hardison's patience. "I'm glad you're alright, man. You had me worried," he admitted. He did, however, wait until he had taken a big, syrupy bite before returning the kiss on the cheek that Hardison had given him.
A/N: Blanket statement for my oneshots - Please do not ask if I am continuing these. They are single "chapter" fics which I am considering complete. Thank you. - DragonMaster65