"You doing alright?" Nate asked quietly, his voice low and intent through the comms.
"Oh… you know. Same old, same old." Kyler's joking tone was impeded by a pained groan and his best friend bit his lip.
"Just try to relax, Ky. Eliot will be there soon."
"The worst is over." Sophie's voice assured him, speaking with a soft British lilt.
"Yes, I know. You all don't have to keep reminding me." Kyler assured them, slightly tired of the words that had been repeated to him countless times a day for the past week. Sophie looked at Nathan, who was running a hand wearily over his face.
"The worst is over, Nate." She repeated softly. "Get some sleep."
"I'm fine." Nate insisted, shaking his head. Some things were more important. Kyler frowned, trying to think over the past five days, for a time when Nate's voice hadn't been in his ear, murmuring low assurances and comforting words.
"Nate, when was the last time you slept?" The Irishman asked quietly. Nate gritted his teeth, throwing a glare Sophie's way. She rolled her eyes and answered for him.
"About two weeks ago." She replied irritably.
"Nate!" Kyler swore. "You've got to sleep, mate."
"I'm fine." Nate insisted again.
The door burst open to reveal a grim-faced Hardison and a small, livid woman that Nate hardly recognized as Robin. He tugged his comm. out as she strode across the room, straight towards him. Her palm was hard on his cheek, the sound echoed around the small office, and the force left Nate's jaw stinging. "You bastard!" Robin shouted, tears in her eyes. "For a week, you tried to keep me in the dark while my brother was in pain! What the hell is wrong with you Nathan?!"
"I was trying to-" She slapped him again.
"Just shut up! I don't give a damn about your excuses! Give me my comm.! I want to talk to my brother!" Nate dug her earpiece out of his pocket and handed it to her. She slapped him once more as she put it in. "Kyler?"
"Rob…" Kyler's voice was weak, but he made the effort. "Nate let you back, huh?"
"I'll kill him for it, Kyler. I can't believe he did that."
"Robin, I'm right-" Her palm collided with his cheek yet again, and Sophie quickly stepped between them.
"Shut up, Nathan!"
"Aw, Rob, come on. You know he only did it because-"
"I don't care why he did it! It was wrong for him to think that I didn't deserve to know!" Robin ranted furiously.
"Nate, maybe we should give Robin a few minutes alone…?" Sophie suggested, tugging lightly on his arm. Nate nodded.
"Everyone out." Robin shot him a glare just for speaking, and Sophie glanced at her irritably. She was the only one who was allowed to slap Nate. The grafter pulled him out of the room quickly, waving towards Parker and Hardison, who both followed after her, Hardison watching Robin nervously and Parker gazing at Nate with curiosity.
"She really, really hates you." Parker said cheerily, tugging her comm. out. Sophie did the same. Nate winced.
"Yeah. She's not happy." He agreed wearily. "But who should have to listen to their brother go through that?"
"You put your brother in jail, didn't you Nate?" Hardison asked. Sophie shivered and Nate slipped a comforting arm around her shoulders.
"Yeah, but my brother's an asshole. Kyler's a good man." He replied, shrugging. "Besides, that's completely different. Jail isn't poison."
"Fair point." Hardison admitted.
"Nate, you know that she was just worried about her brother. Things will go back to normal in a few days." Sophie murmured assuredly. It was Nate's turn to shiver.
"You don't know Robin like I do. She can hold a grudge like you wouldn't believe." He said miserably. "She's going to be pissed off at me until I save her brother, and then she might still be angry. No one has a temper like an Irishwoman."
"Maybe she should go to meetings for that." Parker said. Nate, Sophie, and Hardison just glanced at her. It was Parker. Suggestions like this were always random and very common with her. You got used to it.
"Just don't worry so much, is all I'm saying." Hardison shrugged. "She's cool. She'll be good."
"I hope so. It's not going to be easy coordinating saving Eliot and Kyler with Robin breathing down my neck." Nate murmured. "And worse, if she decides to actually try to hurt me, she could." That comment earned a look from every member of the team. It would be like Hardison saying that he gave up World of Warcraft, and Nate knew it. "She started martial arts training when she was four. She's probably a match for Eliot." He explained.
"Ohhh." The team nodded their understanding in unison.
"So we have an angry, protective sister, who is well trained and angry with Nate. Do you really think you should go back in there?" Sophie asked, looking nervously at the mastermind.
Nate nodded. "I'll be fine." He assured her. He carefully opened the door. "Robin, are you done?"
"You told him to try and pretend that we don't exist?! For a week?! While he was in pain!?" Robin was more furious than she had been previously, if that were even possible. Nate winced. He knew he was in for it when her footing changed: Her right foot slid back, at a right angle to the left, which faced straight ahead. He pulled the door closed behind him, leaving his team in the hall as Robin advanced on him. "Nathan, you are going to regret that." She promised, her voice deadly calm and her eyes filled with fire.
By the time Sophie managed to get the door open, Nate was on his hands and knees on the ground, one arm wrapped around his chest as he attempted to draw breath. His lip was bleeding, and one eye was slightly swollen. "Nate!" Sophie dropped to her knees at his side, helping him sit back on his heels. "What the hell, Robin?"
Robin glared at Nate. "It wasn't even fair. He didn't fight back at all." Sophie pulled Nate to his feet, wincing when he gasped in pain and clutched his ribs more tightly.
"Of course he didn't. Nate doesn't fight women." Sophie sniffed. "Especially not his friends."
"He shouldn't deceive them either." Robin replied, still glaring at Nate. She moved forward quickly and Nate moved, turning so he was between Sophie and a heavy kick that landed in the middle of his back. He pressed his hand against the wall, catching himself before he crushed Sophie against it. "Don't come back, Nathan. You're done trying to help my brother. All you've done is make things worse. Stay away from Kyler and me!" She shouted. Nate flinched, and Sophie pulled him carefully out of the room.
"A fine way to thank your friend." She growled. She slammed the door behind her. "I'm taking Nate home. We'll meet back up in two days. Parker, tell Eliot and Kyler."
"Got it." Parker screwed her comm. back into her ear as Sophie led Nate down the hallway.
"I can walk, Sophie. You don't need to help me." Nate muttered.
"You're limping, Nate. You need help." Sophie replied frankly, helping him into the elevator and all the way into her car. She drove to her place and got him inside, sitting him gently down on the couch and tugging his shirt off. "My god, Nate… you're covered in bruises. Are your ribs okay?"
"Nothing's broken." Nate assured her, wincing. "I'm fine."
"All the same… you're staying here for a few days so I can keep an eye on you."
Nate didn't have the energy to resist, so he just nodded. "Alright."