A/n: This is a companion piece to my fic "Rescue" since it seems there are many out there who share my love of Eliot torture. While I think this can stand alone I may be tempted (or I suppose threats, bribes, or gifts would work too) to continue it further.
Silence. Nothing but silence, cold steal beneath him, restraining him, and blackness all around. He was blindfolded, some kind of sensory deprivation hood that blocked out noises and smells already beginning to send terror threatening to escape careful control. Just keeping his fear of this blackness under control was proving much more a task than it should, his mind working slow and slippery. It took him a few minutes to realize they'd probably given him some mild sedative.
Whoever it was they were smart. They knew they'd managed to catch one of the best and they weren't taking chances one him escaping.
"Good morning mister Spencer." A voice whispered in his ear, a com unit inside the hood no doubt but just the right volume in the silence that his slippery mental state almost had him wondering if he was hearing things. "We're very happy to have you here."
Someone was touching him. His heart rate spiked. He didn't like people touching him by surprise any day. In this helpless position he was instinctively straining at the restraints. The next series of touches made him go very still.
You know you've been in the business too long when you're only half lucid and still recognize the feeling of electrodes being attached to your chest.
"This may be a little shocking my dear boy but we need a bit of a spark to start this conversation."
A moment of quiet, like the last minutes before a storm.
Like a sharp breath before a scream.
The offices were quiet. After the chaos of the past four days the quiet should have been a nice break. It shouldn't of felt alien. They'd rescued Eliot. They'd planed and pulled a con in four days and now Eliot was back with them, unconscious but with them. He was stable, alive, and it was just a matter of time before he woke up.
So why did the silence bother them all so much? Maybe it was the echo of dread it held. The way Eliot had gone quiet when he'd realized what needed to happen to get the others out safely. Or the way their coms had gone quiet after Eliot had told them to run from the other side of the door before taking the com out so none of them would hear what happened afterwards. That silence had felt more like a goodbye than any words ever shared.
Maybe it was how those screams they'd heard as they made the final steps to recover Eliot had gone silent and they'd all felt nothing but dread wondering if they were just a few minutes too late. To think only seconds before they'd all been mentally begging the screams to stop not understanding silence made it worse.
He was back now so why did it still feel like that first hour where all they knew was that Eliot had been taken and might be dead already?
Sophie had taken over first aid, with help from Hardison who had spent any downtime he had had for the past four days torturing himself by reading about torture techniques. He at least managed to pick up a good deal of tips for aftercare. Nate wasn't sure how the man's imagination hadn't driven himself crazy but from what he'd seen maybe it was a rather masochistic way of keeping focused. Alec never seemed to do well under stress but his famous focus issue hadn't come up at all this job.
Parker… Nate's eyes looked too their thief and a moment later he walked over to her. She was curled up in a little ball in a chair, still as stone with her eyes locked on the man on the couch. Nate made himself follow her gaze in time to see Hardison look ready to puke at the mass of electrical burns that crisscrossed Eliot's chest.
Nate was feeling queasy himself. This wasn't getting easier. As much as they tried to separate this someway, like they always had disconnected the knowledge that those in Eliot's line worked under the threat of capture and torture every day, they couldn't do it. This wasn't some vague experience they were somewhat sure might of happened. They were dealing with their unconscious team mate who had been against the plan to begin with. Who had chosen to come along to look out for the rest of them.
Who sacrificed himself because he knew he could survive what the captors would do to him.
This had happened to Eliot because of them. And not one of them knew how to even begin to deal with that idea right now.
As Eliot began to shiver Sophie wrapped a blanket around him as gentle as she could. Nate tore his eyes away from Eliot and looked back to Parker, she still hadn't moved an inch. Slowly Nate moved to stand in front of her and block her view of Eliot before kneeling so their eyes were level. "Parker?" He asked, trying to get through to her. "Parker. I need you to go to Eliot's place. Get him some clean clothes." Parker's eyes slowly focused on Nate and she nodded, uncurling and going to do as asked.
She'd just started to move when the sound they all had been waiting hours for broke the silence.
A long pained groan broke through the room as Eliot moved slowly towards lucidity.
The group gathered around as Hardison helped him sit up and Sophie retrieved a glass of water from the nearby table. She put the cup to his lips even as Eliot's eyes opened slowly and he blinked groggily at them trying to figure out what had happened. It was hard to tell what he said but it hurt a little bit when Nate heard the disbelief in that pain slurred "You saved me."
"Yeah." Was all Nate could respond with but the moment wasn't one for big speeches. Eliot had gotten caught protecting them and more than that he was one of the team, part of this crazy family they'd found. They'd always come save him.
Understanding passed over that pained face. If there was some extra shine to those blue eyes and if their retrieval specialist was crying a little they all chose not to notice at the moment. He'd been through hell, everyone would be a little shaken after that. "Thanks" He said after finally taking some water and those blue eyes closed against everything. Hardison lowered him back down, sleep reclaiming Eliot before he was even down all the way.
"Man didn't think we'd be savin' him?" Alec asked, sounding somewhere between pissed and exasperated though hurt and sadness weren't too well hidden undertones.
"He always worked alone." Sophie said sadly. "He always had to face this alone." She tucked the blanket around Eliot again, needing something to do with her hands. If anyone else saw them shake they had the good sense not to note it.
Quiet returned but the silence wasn't so deafening. Parker left to go get Eliot some clothes, Sophie wandered away to take care of wrapping up loose ends of the last job. Nate poured himself a drink and relaxed into a nearby chair as Hardison went to his office returning a few minutes later to set up his laptop. They stood, or sat, a silent vigil together as the night wore on. The only sounds were the click of keys, liquor in a glass, and Eliot's slow pained breathing.
Eliot's life had rarely had rhythm or patterns. It was safer to be without habit, it helped prevent those out to hurt you from getting the jump on you. There were a few things though. The rythym of his heartbeat and breathing as he worked out or fought, the pattern of find travel do return pay that each job had like his own scewed internal clock that dictated when to rest and when to move, this new give and take like a dance he was developing with his team, and the painful rhythm of interrogation.
It had been during those three months he'd found the pattern behind it. Rest, pain, question, pain, frustration, pain, and rest once more. The rest was only there if they didn't want to kill you before they got the information they needed. It was always better to have something your captors needed you alive to get. It kept you alive and gave them reason to be careful.
He was in the rest stage now, still strapped to the table, still immobile, still hooded and just barely drugged enough to make him groggy but not enough to dampen anything the past two hours had brought. He was shaking, fire coursing it's way through his body even after they'd left him alone for some small stretch, sweat dampened skin adding to the room's chill.
But he wasn't letting himself think on anything he was feeling, or that at any second it could start again. He had to reqroup. He had to pull it and hold it together. He had a strong will but these drugs were making his mind slippery and for the first time in his life he was being tortured for information he actually had.
Their terms had been simple and clear. He tell them where the others could be found and they'd take his place. His tormentors would end his pain.
Eliot wasn't stupid. He knew that this would only end in death or escape.
And the thought of the others like this… in the silence he was trapped in he could hear the ghosts of their screams as the current was turned up as high as it had been… he could almost see the wisps of Parker's hair peeking from the bottom of a hood, or Hardison's back arch in pain… Nate and Sophie…
It made his blood boil. It took all his self control not to thrash against the bonds one more time to see if he could break out and take these people all out blind.
The voice in his ear spoke again. "You're in luck, we've found you a little playmate." There was a voice, Parker, she was speaking, asking where she was then the voice returned. "Theres still a chance. Tell us where the others are and we won't hurt your friend here."
Eliot was silent, jaw clenched, not making a sound. He recognized what she was saying. He could almost say for certain she'd said it hours ago and they must of caught some kind of recording of it.
"No? Pity." There was a little whimpering sound followed by a scream.
Eliot didn't even know he had reacted until a blinding pain jolted out from both his shoulders, "PARKER" a scream somewhere between agony and desperation roared from within him. He fought the steel bindings, his whole body jerking until he felt an agonizing pop as he wrenched his shoulders from their sockets in his efforts.
A needle bit into his arm and haze clouded his mind.
Someone undid the hood, removing it slowly. In front of him Parker writed on the table screaming.
But that hadn't happened…
Eliot jolted painfully into waking world. He was close enough to it this time to feel fire awake across his body before he opened his eyes. A hitch in his breath and a moan would of given it away to whoever had him this time that he was awake. He mentally steeled himself against the coming onslaught, tensing when hands touched his shoulders, unable to stop a desperate shake of his head. No more. He couldn't…. The thought might have made it to his lips.
"Eliot." It was Hardison's voice. "Eliot you're safe now man. Relax. We got you back." The events the last time he woke up came slowly back to him. He tried to steady his breathing, take back control of his body that had already given way to signs of pain that bounced around inside of him. "I know it hurts man. The morphine's all out of your system by now. You need to relax."
Eliot went to move, Hardison's words and questions bouncing around inside his head. His body protested but his arm obeyed and he was about to try to rub the grogginess away from his face when his eyes snapped open and his slippery grip on lucid thought went out the window. He was restrained.
In a fraction of a heartbeat Eliot's relatively calm "I'm out of commission but being taken care of" state of mind flared into letmegogetmethefuckout. He thrash against the cloth and leather restraints not even really registering Hardison's panicked shout. Pain, white hot shot from his every part of his body and sent him into more of a frenzy not even realizing right then that movement was what was hurting him.
"Eliot!" Someone had their hands on his shoulders and were forcing his upper body to lie still, pain flaring to new hights and pulling a cry from his lips at the pressure on his shoulders. "Eliot!" Someone said a good deal louder. Nate. It was Nate. "Eliot lie still."
Like someone hit an off switch Eliot collapsed back into stillness, a few twitching mussels the only testament to his freak out. The pain died a little and the pressure was eased off his shoulders. Slowly Eliot's eyes focused on Nate and the man nodded. "They dislocated both your shoulders and worked the rest of you over." He slowly undid the restraints. "You were having nightmares and we were worried you'd hurt yourself further."
Eliot didn't even dignify that poorly thought out plan with a comment, letting it sink into their heads why that might have been a bad idea. The moment the last restraint was gone he shifted, forcing himself into a sitting position despite the white hot pain that exploded across his body making his vision gray and his breaths come in pants. It was a moment before he even heard Hardison trying to tell him to lie down.
"Parker?" He had to know she was okay, that it really had been all a trick and she hadn't been there. He didn't have the mental energy to question why that meant so much to him right now.
"Getting you some clothes. Why?" Nate asked but Eliot didn't bother to answer or listen to whatever came next. It was all okay.
Eliot closed his eyes, trying to force his breathing to stabilize. He was getting soft, pain shouldn't ever slow him down. Another breath in and out, trying to accept the pain and ignore it. He already knew nothing critical had been hurt but he took a moment to take stock of himself. Shoulders throbbed from dis and relocation, his chest burned with a pain that seemed to lace through him but he knew from experience it hurt a lot more than was proportional for the damage done. Aches and pains under the throb told him that he'd been worked over and stiffness suggested not moving for three days was as bad for you as you'd think.
Nothing life threatening. He had to be careful with his shoulders but he could do that.
The room was shaking beneath him, the corners of his vision going dark and he was finding breathing beginning to be an issues. Hands gripped his collarbone and someone was forcing him to lie back down, Hardison was overhead but Eliot couldn't make out what he was saying.
Funny, he normally could read lips.
The pain was fading in and out, breath coming a little easier now and Eliot admitted that maybe he should stay down for a little longer. He needed to get back on his feet to get back to doing his part but he could wait a little longer.
He closed his eyes and focused on making his body stop shaking. Someone pulled the blanket back over him. He flinched when someone put their hand on his head but after a moment there was something almost safe about the light pressure, like a connection, grounding him.
Keeping him safe from the dark and silence.