Summary: Eliot was wanted in several countries. What if one of them got him? Eliot whump.
Rating: T, for violence and some cursing. Possible some implied non-con, but nothing graphic.
Author's Note: As always, I'm not a doctor and don't play one on TV, so all medical mistakes are mine. Also, this is unbeta'ed, so I guess all mistakes are mine.
Disclaimer: The Leverage team isn't mine (boohoo). I own nothing, except a little belly button lint.
Other Author's Notes: OK folks, last chapter. Endings are hard for me. I hope it is more or less to everyone's satisfaction.
They left Dr. Sinjh and his small clinic with twenty thousand converted U.S. dollars in thanks for his assistance. The actual bill had been relatively small, what amounted to a few thousand dollars, but the team was so happy that Eliot was up and around, albeit slowly and cautiously, that they had gladly given over the extra amount. At the very least they hoped it would buy the doctor's and other villagers discretion should anyone questioned them. They were given directions to a private airstrip where they could charter a plane to fly them to a large enough airport that could get them home.
Eliot didn't say much in the week following that he woke up. He didn't share his experiences from the prison, and none of his teammates pushed. They all remembered what the doctor had said about his injuries, and knew that the hitter would process the situation on his own for quite awhile before even considered talking to any of his teammates.
That didn't stop them from watching him with worried eyes. They knew he hadn't had a good night's sleep since he'd woken up from his surgeries, and his eyes bore a haunted look. They'd learned from past experiences to never attempt to wake the hitter from a nightmare, so none of them had born the physical brunt of his pain.
Upon their return to Boston they didn't even try to protest when Eliot insisted on going back to his residence. They'd followed Nate's lead, and Nate knew that this wasn't the first time Eliot had been tortured (although he did hope it would be the last), and he doubted that Eliot was going to be sharing his "feelings" with the team. Nate had made it clear to the rest of the team to let Eliot have his space and not to push, or they'd only end up driving the hitter away.
"The best way we can help Eliot's recovery, "Nate had told them, "is to not expect too much from him. He's not going to be sharing his feelings, or going to therapy, or anything like that. He's going to deal with this like he's always dealt with pain - holed up and alone. We'll see how he accepts it with one of us stopping in every day to check on his injuries, but I'd rather give him more space and have him come back to us, then push him away by trying to get too close and never see him again."
And so it was that Nate found himself at Eliot's front door the next day, hesitantly knocking, unsure what - if any - reception he would get. He breathed a quiet sigh of relief when he heard the front door open and Eliot was standing there, looking unsurprised. The hitter didn't question his presence, just nodded and stepped back from the door to let Nate in.
"You don't look surprised to see me," Nate said.
"I'm not, figured one of you would be here to check up on me, and figured it would be you first."
Nate didn't question Eliot's intuition, "You going to protest much when I tell you I need to check your wounds? I know you cant reach all of them."
Eliot just grunted and as they entered his living room Nate noticed the first aid supplies already spread out on the table. Nate didn't offer to help as Eliot carefully took off his shirt. The mastermind noticed that it was a button down shirt, but that only a few buttons had been done up, and that Eliot still only used a few fingers on each hand to work the buttons. Nate kept his expression carefully schooled when he saw the livid marks still covering the hitter's chest and back. Time had only partially healed those wounds.
"So, ummm, how are you doing?" Nate began as he sat down behind Eliot and picked up a washcloth that he had dipped into a bowl of warm water. He didn't like the total silence they were in, and wanted something to distract him from the discomfort that he knew he would be causing his teammate.
"Yes to the wound cleaning, no to the feelings." the hitter snarled, glaring at the mastermind.
And so Nate cleaned the wounds on the hitters back in silence, and ignored the quiet grunts and the tensing of the muscles that betrayed Eliot's attempt at stoic silence. When he was finished he wordlessly cleaned up the mess he'd made, throwing the bloody gauze into the trash and rinsing out the washcloths in the sink. He opened up the bottle of aspirin that he found next to the sink and brought it and a glass of water to the hitter that was still sitting on the couch, his hands clenching and unclenching as he fought through the waves of pain. Eliot never even looked up as he was handed the open aspirin bottle. He shook out three, washing it down with the glass of water that Nate handed him.
"I'll be back tomorrow," Nate told Eliot as he let himself out the front door. He didn't look back and he didn't wait for a response, not wanting the hitter to see the moisture that had gathered in his eyes.
The pattern went on for a few more weeks - Nate at first, then the others - going to Eliot's once a day to clean Eliot's injuries. Only Parker had the guts to do anything more, as after they were done she'd pop in a movie and put her feet up on the coffee table, ignoring his snarl, not caring if it was because of her hanging around, or putting her feet up on his coffee table.
"You can't be alone all the time," she said after the first time he'd asked her to leave, "its not normal."
He'd looked at her incredulously, "You're lecturing me on normal? Do you even know what that is?"
"Maybe, maybe not," she'd said indifferently, "but I know you can't just completely hide away from us. We're still family. I'm not asking you to share your feelings or anything mushy like that, I'm just going to hang out here and watch a movie with you."
He'd looked at her wordlessly after she said that and watched her grab a blanket from where it lay across the back of the couch and snuggle up in it. He didn't bother to protest after that, and just sat down next to her as the movie started and pulled an edge of the blanket across him. She left when the movie was over, not saying much and while the hitter wouldn't admit it, he kind of enjoyed her visits.
A month later Eliot was given clearance to start working out from the private doctor that Nate had hired. The guy hadn't said much about Eliot's injuries, courtesy of the large amount of cash that he'd been given, and he had the resources to take care of all of Eliot's physical needs. Nate knew that Eliot had been working out before the doctor had cleared him, but Nate hadn't said anything, trusting in the hitter to be careful about it. They'd also been told that Eliot's wounds had healed sufficiently to be allowed to finish healing on their own
So Nate planned the first con since Eliot's capture. He'd found them a small, easy one that would not be likely to require the services of a hitter. Eliot made no protest as he played the supporting role of the cab driver. If he spent more time in Hardison's company then was normal they made no comment, and Hardison never thought to mention if he thought it odd that Eliot was paying attention to how he worked the computers. He'd enjoyed showing off his knowledge when Eliot asked him about the internet and how he went about finding certain people. Hardison was maybe too young to understand the ulterior motive, and maybe a little natively thought that Eliot might want a new trade after the beating he'd taken.
Two days later Nate called a meeting to discuss another con. They didn't worry when Eliot didn't show right away. After two hours they started to call him, and when they didn't receive any answer they went to his home, afraid for what they might find. A quick scan of the outer perimeter showed no sign of forced entry, and all the doors and windows locked. Knocking got no reply, and Parker cautiously picked the lock to let them in. The inside showed no sign of a struggle, and on the counter they found a note addressed to them all.
"Had a few things to take care of. Be back in a few days. Eliot"
"So what do we do?" Sophie asked nervously.
"Do? We don't do anything," Parker said, "He had a few things to take care of, he'll be back."
"But where did he go? Is he strong enough?"
"If he wasn't he wouldn't have gone. You have to trust him." Parker replied.
"Parker is right," Nate interjected, "As much as we want to be watching out for him right now, we need to let him do his own thing. I expected he would do something like this, although maybe not this soon."
Hardison nodded in understanding and turned on Eliot's computer. When it booted up he began to type away, exclaiming when he found out what he'd been looking for. "He went after Sterling!"
"What!?" Sophie cried, "He can't! He's not strong enough."
Nate put a comforting arm around the grifter, "Sterling thinks he's in a prison in Myanmar - or dead. He won't be expecting Eliot to show up."
"But I don't understand why he's doing this alone. We would've helped him." Sophie responded.
"Would you?" Parker said abruptly, "He's not going to have a talk with Sterling. He's going there to kill him. It's what he does - but is it something that you could do? Would you help him with that?"
"No, I guess not, but -"
"I know." Nate said, "There's a part of me that feels the same way. He's not fully healed, but I think he has to do this. He needs to put this behind him, and this is how he does it."
"But what if he's going after the warden? Would he go to that prison on his own?" Sophie contested.
"I don't think he is." Nate replied.
"He's not." Parker interjected.
"Girl, how do you know that?" Hardison looked at her quizzicly.
"He kind of told me that he didnt blame him."
"After everything they did to him? Are you kidding me?" Hardison replied incredulously. He'd seen - and cared for - some of the wounds on Eliot, and knew that if their positions were reversed - and he'd survived - he would certainly have blamed the warden.
"Eliot said that the warden and Markhra were a product of their environment, that they did those things because that was the only way to survive in that environment."
"When did he tell you this?" Sophie asked. She was still worried about Eliot, not believing that he was either physically or emotionally ready to be out on his own.
"We were watching an action movie one day, about some ex con getting revenge on the guys who had hurt him so bad. That's when he said he didnt blame the people at the prison - he hated them, but that revenge on them would be all about the ego and he wasn't in the business of serving his ego."
"But Sterling?" Sophie asked hesitantly.
"He said Sterling wasn't a product of his environment. He said that Sterling MADE his environment. I asked him if he wanted to kill him, but he wouldn't say, just told me to shut up and watch the movie."
Nate nodded, having no reason to disbelieve what Parker had stated. He turned around and led Sophie to the door, "Let's lock this place up and get out of here. Hardison, keep a monitor on the news and let us know when you hear something. I have a feeling this will end up being public, one way or the other."
A few days later they were all at Nate's apartment when Eliot walked thru the door. They weren't surprised at the hitter's arrival. Hardison had been monitoring various news stations when a regional west coast station advised of Sterling's death. The newsman reported that it appeared that the man had been tortured before being killed, and as of yet the police had no leads. A hasty hack into the police computers by Hardison confirmed those facts. So intent was he on the internet search that he didn't hear the next story from that same news channel, that advised that an anonymous donor had made a five hundred thousand dollar donation to a charity that specialized in treating victims of torture and abuse.
Eliot entered the apartment with a few bags of groceries, acting as if he'd left for a few hours to do some shopping, rather than gone on a trip to torture and murder the man who'd been responsible for his own torture. He smiled amicably and began setting up to make dinner.
"You're late," Nate said, "I've got a job that's been waiting. You ready?"
Eliot looked up from the vegetables that he'd been cutting, "Yes," he said simply, "I am ready."
Ending Author's Notes: Phew! Made it to the end! What a ride! (*LOL*) I know some of you are thinking I left a few things unresolved, or not resolved to your satisfaction,and i have to admit I did that on purpose. See, I have a sequel planned - in fact, I've even written some of it. Don't know when it will be ready. Guess it depends on how many people want me to continue?