Title: NOT a Good Day at the Beach
Rating: T for violence and cursing
Summary: Eliot, Parker, surfing, an ocean beach and an underwater visitor who's all teeth. Mostly an excuse for some shameless Eliot whumpage.
Author's Notes: Inspired by Discovery Channel's "Shark Week".
Other Author's Notes: Not beta'ed, and I am not a doctor and don't play one on TV, so absolutely all mistakes, medical or otherwise, are mine. I also know NOTHING about surfing, so have skimmed over the surfing parts to avoid looking like a complete fool.
Disclaimer: I don't own Leverage. I own nothing, except a little belly button lint.
The con was over and they were enjoying a day of well deserved rest at a quiet North Carolina Beach. The beach season hadn't officially started, although the day was warm and the ocean cool and refreshing, and the beach had only a handful of people on it. It hadn't been a real difficult con, the only problem being that when Parker was rapelling off of a roof she had been caught by an errant strong gust of wind and tossed into the stone wall. They'd had no difficulty in completing the con, and Parker never complained of the minor bruising and the scratches on her hands and the side of her face. Eliot had growled softly when he'd seen it, prompting Parker to remind him that it would be pretty futile for him to try to grapple with an errant gust of wind in defense of her honor, but if he really wanted to…
So Nate suggested they take a day off on the beach for some downtime. He hadn't needed to work hard to convince the rest of the team. Sophie and Parker had immediately taken Nate's personal credit card so that they could go shopping for swimsuits, which left the boys shopping at Wal-Mart for some swim trunks with what little cash they could scrounge up between the three of them.
So it was that early the next morning Eliot, Hardison and Nate were left speechless when Sophie and Parker took off their plain T-shirts and shorts to reveal the swimsuits they had bought. Sophie had chosen a two piece dark colored bikini that perfectly complimented her skin tone and lithe form. Parker had gone for a one piece, saying that she preferred it for swimming, It was rose colored, with a very low cut open back, and thin spaghetti straps that tied around her neck, and open cut on the left side, revealing a slim waist and shapely hip. The only thing detracting from Parker's appearance were the bruising and scratching on her hands and face. They were freshly scabbed over, and the bruises still dark and obvious, but Parker had stated that there was no point in using cover-up makeup because she was going to go swimming and it would all wash off.
Parker had whooped and jumped into the water as soon as her jeans and T-shirt were off. The others had laughed, although Hardison and Eliot were not too far behind her in entering the water. Sophie set up a towel for sun bathing, putting sun screen on her where she could, and then handing the bottle off to Nate to get the parts that she couldn't reach. Nate had also opted to stay out of the water, wearing a wide brimmed hat and Zinc Oxide covered his nose.
The three in the water tossed a nerf ball that Hardison had brought, then Parker suggested they play "Marco Polo", of which she was impossible to catch. As they swam around Eliot caught sight of a booth that rented surf boards, and he offered to rent one for each of them. Hardison declined, stating that he had no balance for one of those things. Parker said she'd never surfed, but was willing to let Eliot teach her.
Eliot had learned to surf years ago, and while he didn't get to practice it often. "We'll start with learning how to catch a wave, and body surfing it in, then we'll get to riding the wave later." he told her.
Parker was slim but fit, and she was strong enough to paddle onto the wave that Eliot recommended. He had given her an easy one, and told her to stay flat on her board to get used to the feel of the wave, but being Parker, she'd tried to rise to her feet on her first wave, and of course, had gone tumbling off the board. Eliot started paddling over to where he'd last seen her above the water, but she popped to the surface within seconds, laughing. "That was fun!" she said, "Like being in a washing machine!" Eliot decided not to ask her how she would know what that felt like.
Parker jumped back onto her board and paddled out to beyond the breakline, waiting for the next wave. Neither of them really noticed that her tumble from the board had broke loose a few of the scabs, or paid any mind to the little drops of blood that entered the water.
They continued to surf for the next hour, and with Parker's exquisite balance she was soon riding the easier waves. She fell off a few times, once hard enough to bang her already scraped hand against the sea floor. Neither of them paid much attention to anything other than the waves and the laughter, willing to put aside a day that required them to do nothing more than have fun. They were too busy concentrating on the waves to see the large dark shape that undulated thru the water in their direction.
"You take this one," Eliot said to Parker, "It looks like a good one."
Parker smiled happily and paddled out to meet the next wave. She gotten about thirty yards away when Eliot noticed the fin breaking the water and heading unerringly in her direction. "Parker!" he yelled, "Shark!"
But the sound of the rushing water and Parker's whoop of joy drowned out Eliot's yell, and she was unprepared when she felt something slam into the bottom of her board with the power of a speeding truck, launching her out of the water. Eliot had leaped off his surf board as soon as he saw the fin, swimming powerfully in Parker's direction. He was only a few yards away when Parker was launched out of the water. He continued to swim forward, and as Parker was coming back to the water he launched himself into her, pushing her out of the way. The shark had already rolled its eyes back protectively, and it closed its teeth around Eliot, rather than his intended prey.
Eliot cried out as teeth closed around his left knee and thigh. He was whipped back and forth in the water much like a dog would shake a stuffed animal, then pulled under the water. The breath had been forced from his lungs when the shark had bit down on his leg, and he'd been unable to draw another breath. His lungs burned as they cried out desperately for oxygen. The water churned blood red as the shark's teeth tore into the hitter's leg. The shark continued to shake him back and forth for a few seconds before diving down, taking Eliot with it.
Eliot saw the water get darker and he was unsure if it was due to the shark dragging him down or lack of oxygen causing his brain to shut down. Either way, he knew he had to get free from the shark, and desperation began to fuel him. He thrust desperately at the top of the shark's snout, something in the back of his mind telling him that it was one of the most sensitive areas of the shark and would frequently cause the shark to let go. He pounded the shark with his forearms, ignoring how the shark's sandpaper like skin cut his forearms open. He was rewarded when the shark let go, disoriented, and Eliot swam desperately to the surface. He broached the water several yards from where he had been dragged down and drew in a shuddering, gasping breath.
"Eliot!" Parker yelled, "Oh God, Eliot!" She stayed on her board and paddled over to where he had come to the surface. Eliot was weak from blood loss and he struggled to stay on the surface. He felt himself going under, unable to keep himself afloat on his own. He only barely felt Parker's hand closing over a flailing wrist, but he had enough presence of mind to help her throw himself onto her board and lay across her back. He tried to help her paddle into shore but he was too weak from blood loss to have any force behind his strokes. Blood poured into the water and there was a trail of blood left behind them as Parker paddled desperately for the shoreline. Eliot struggled to stay conscious, aware that if he fell off the board he'd never make it to shore alive.
The three team members on the shore had seen Parker get launched out of the water, and then watched helplessly as the shark dragged Eliot under the water. The sound of screaming from both the water and the shore had attracted the other people on the beach, who came running over. Immediately someone called for 9-1-1, and a few others grabbed at Nathan's arms as he attempted to run forward into the surf.
"No!" the unknown person yelled. "You'll only put yourself in danger. Park rangers are on their way with rescue boats."
Nate wrapped an arm around Sophie as he stayed on the beach and watched Parker and Eliot paddle to shore. As the two came closer those on the beach could see the trail of blood following the surf board. Sophie turned to Nate and buried her head in his shoulder when she saw all the blood in the water, "Oh my god, there's so much blood."
The ex-insurance agent scanned the water urgently for a resurgence of the shark. As Parker and Eliot got closer to the beach he started to breathe a sigh of relief when he didn't see a fin break the water. When he saw them get to within fifty feet of shore he broke away from the group and raced to the water. A few other men followed him to the shoreline and into the water. When Parker had the board close enough they grabbed Eliot off of the surfboard, carrying him at a run onto the beach. Sophie and Hardison met them at the edge with blankets and towels, and the men carrying Eliot laid him atop a blanket. Immediately towels were pressed against the gaping wound on Eliot's leg.
Eliot cried out in pain and tried to roll away when he felt the unknown hands grab at his leg. He felt as if his leg was on fire. He struggled when he felt hands on his shoulders, pressing him down onto the blanket.
"Eliot, Eliot, don't move." he heard Sophie say, her words getting thru to him thru a haze of pain, "It'll be okay, just let us do the work."
He opened his eyes and looked into her worried brown ones. His chest heaved, adrenalin rushing from his body, leaving him exhausted and gasping for air. He looked around at the unfamiliar faces, then turned his head farther to the side as he heard sirens and saw rescue workers arriving.
The rescue workers worked in unison and quickly had pressure bandages wrapped around Eliot's leg and an IV inserted into an arm. An oxygen mask was placed around his face, irritating Eliot, but the arm that reached up to pull it off was weak and intercepted by Hardison and placed firmly back to his side with little effort. "Leave it man. Just let them help you."
The hitter looked at him thru bleary eyes and hazy vision. All he knew was pain and confusion and strange hands grabbing at him. He shivered from blood loss and looked uncomprehendingly at the black man. For a few seconds he continued to struggle ineffectually, until the shock and blood loss caused his vision to go black and he lost consciousness.
A quick, whispered conversation between Nate and Hardison while the paramedics were loading Eliot gave them a chance to work out the names and relationships that the team would be using. Shark attacks frequently garnered news coverage, and they wanted to keep their identities safe. Nate jumped into the ambulance with Eliot before he could be stopped, advising the paramedics that he was a good friend of "Mark Elliott". He stayed near Eliot's head while the paramedic worked on stabilizing Eliot, as his blood pressure had dropped dangerously low due to blood loss and shock. "Try to get him to wake up," the paramedic told him, "He's in pretty bad shape and he's going to have to fight if he's wants to survive."
"He's tough. He can handle this." Nate told the paramedic confidently, but he did as he was told and whispered urgently into Eliot's ear, "Eliot! I need you to wake up. Come on, fight." There was desperation in Nate's voice, so much so that it surprised him. He hadn't realized just how much this group of "criminals" had come to mean to him. Losing Eliot wouldn't be as simple as hiring a new hitter, but would mean losing a trusted friend and someone he was actually beginning to consider family. The forced separation he had endured from his team had been agonizing, and several times he was tempted to call them, to check in with them and make sure they were alright. He had contented himself with checking in with them from afar, reminding himself that they had made a successful life for themselves on their own long before he had brought them together as a team, and each of them was capable of working alone again. He'd realized he didn't want to work alone anymore, and if the actions of the rest of the team were any indication, neither did they.
Eliot didn't regain consciousness in the fifteen minutes it took the ambulance to arrive at the hospital. By the worried look on the paramedics face Nate judged that this was not a good sign. When they arrived at the hospital the paramedics wasted no time in rushing Eliot out of the ambulance and into a trauma room. Nate watched helplessly in an out of the way place while a team of nurses and doctors swarmed around the injured man, shouting instructions that Nate had no hope of understanding. He was too stunned to protest much when a nurse appeared and gently guided him away from the trauma room.
"Sir, you can't be in there." the nurse told him, "Why don't you come with me. We'll get you cleaned up and then I'll find you somewhere to wait while the doctor's work on your friend."
As her words sunk in Nate looked down at himself, only then realizing that he was shirtless and Eliot's blood covered his arms, chest and legs. He barely remembered to keep the cover he and Hardison had quickly decided on when he responded to the nurse, "His name is Mark Elliott. I'm a friend of his, John Curtsinger. My wife, and a couple other of our friends should be here shortly."
The nurse led him to a bathroom and gave him a set of hospital scrubs to put on, "Why don't you give me their names and I'll notify reception to send them here when they arrive. Meanwhile, you need to clean yourself up a little."
Nate nodded dumbly. The situation had rapidly spiraled out of control, and the life of a teammate - a friend - was now hanging by the balance. The fact that it wasn't in a con, in a situation where lives were on the line, was not lost on him. As much as he tried to control things, to put everything into its proper place, the rest of the world didn't always fall into line, no matter how hard he tried.
It was only a few minutes later when the rest of the team showed up. They were escorted to where Nate was waited anxiously, nursing a hot cup of coffee that a sympathetic nurse had given him. "How is he?" Sophie asked.
"I don't know. He didn't regain consciousness in the ambulance at all, and no one has come out to update me on his condition."
"Well, uh, I guess no news is good news, right?" Hardison said nervously.
Nate took a sip of his coffee, looking sideways at the hacker, "Yeah, right."
The team of doctor's that worked on Eliot managed not only to save his life and leg, but get him out of the hospital and on his way home in three days. His leg was heavily swathed in bandages, and he maneuvered slowly on the crutches he had been provided with, but he was glad to be out of there, and took the indignity of having to maneuver on crutches and take an inordinate amount of antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and pain medication in relatively good stride. He had tried to avoid the pain medication, stating that it made him loopy, but the damage done by what they discovered to be a 10 foot bull shark was severe, and even he had to admit - albeit privately - that he would need Vicodin for a few more days. He had absolutely no memory of the attack, stating that the last thing he remembered was playing "Marco Polo" with Parker and Hardison. The doctor's advised that the memory lapse after a traumatic event was normal and he may or may not recover some memories of the event in the future. Eliot was nonplussed by their explanation, telling them that he didn't want to remember anyways so he wasn't going to put much effort in recovering his memories. He jokingly told Hardison later that he wished this sort of thing happened every time he got hurt - it would make the recovery a lot easier. Hardison wasn't sure how to reply, and just nodded at the hitter.
The ride home in the SUV was done with Eliot being doped up and stretched out in the rear seat of vehicle. The others peered over the seat at him worriedly, but the medication made him sleepy and fortunately for them he slept most of the way home. Of course, sleeping in the back seat of an SUV for eight hours left him stiff, which made him irritable, and he growled and batted away his teammates helping hands when they tried to assist him out of the vehicle. He slowly hobbled to the elevator on his own, not waiting for the others to unpack the vehicle before he hit the button for the 2nd floor and their office. Parker just barely managed to slip in before the elevator doors closed. He gave her a dirty look, wanting privacy, and irritated that the medication had made him sleep all day, and still left him feeling like he should go back to sleep.
She smiled impishly, ignoring his look and waved something that jingled in her hand, "Keys!" she said brightly, "Unless you want to sleep in the hallway."
"Shut up." he whispered harshly.
When the elevator doors opened a moment later to let them out on the second floor Parker skipped out in front of him. She opened the door to the condo and turned back to wait for him, "Are you coming, hop-a-long?"
Eliot didn't deign to give her a reply, and looked down at the floor while he slowly hobbled across the floor on the crutches. He went straight to the couch, breathing a sigh of relief when he finally sat down on the soft surface. Parker was at his side a moment later with his medication and a glass of water.
"Doc said you need to take these every four hours, and you're half an hour overdue."
Eliot was too tired and sore to protest, and took the proffered medication without any discussion, washing it down with half a glass of water. By the time the rest of the team arrived with the bags he was half asleep, his injured leg propped up on some pillows that Parker had procured, and a blanket draped over him. He watched them enter with half lidded eyes but didn't say anything. They respected his silence and didn't attempt to talk to him, instead making their way to their respective offices to put their bags up. Nate ordered several dinners from the bar below, and took a few more blankets and pillows out and spread them on the empty chairs, knowing that his team wouldn't want to leave, and in point of fact, he didn't want them to leave either. Parker had already taken a spot on the floor next to Eliot. She had appointed herself his "servant" while he healed, knowing how close she had come to being in his place. Eliot was too tired and hurting to protest, and for once, Parker had managed to mostly say the right thing, or in her case, had managed not to say much at all, which didn't irritate the injured man very much.
The food arrived twenty minutes later and twenty minutes after that the team's appetites were sated and they lounged marginally comfortably on the furniture. Nate offered up his guest bedroom upstairs, but no one took him up on the offer. He had his own bed he could sleep in, but as he curled up on an overstuffed chair, eyes getting heavy as he half listened to the movie on the center screen, he looked at the rest of the team that was similarly situated and realized that there was no place he'd rather be.
He was almost asleep when he heard his name being called.
"Hey, Nate?" Eliot's deep southern drawl called out, "Next time we take a day off, let's not go to the beach."
Nate laughed, and he heard Hardison chuckle from across the room, "Sure, okay. But you need to break the news to Sophie, as she's been planning a team trip to the Bahama."
Eliot half snorted, starting to drift back off to sleep, "'kay" he whispered. A moment later he heard Eliot's breathing even out and knew the hitter was asleep. Before Nate allowed his eyes to shut fully and allowed himself to drift off to sleep he looked around at the team, glad to see them together, HIS team.