Disclaimer: I still don't own them. Dammit.
Spoilers: If you haven't read 'Missing Something?' first, I suggest you do, since there are major references to it.
A/N: 'Missing Something?' is complete, but here is a spin-off of it, since some kept begging for it. I took one of the many other ideas bouncing like Mexican jumping beans around my noggin and twisted it to fit here. Hope y'all enjoy.
I Found What You Lost
It had been a long few months of recovery for Eliot after what had happened out at the Montana Skies Ranch. He had suffered bouts of dizziness and sometimes blackouts from the massive blow to his skull that resulted in a severe concussion, as well as the ever present threat of pneumonia from his near drowning. That threat never materialized fully, but enough of it had to bring on a month long battle against a nasty cough from deep in his chest and constant congestion. The long slash on his back healed slowly but steadily, and he was able to wear shirts without pain after a couple of weeks. The bone deep bruising on his ribs, hip and thigh from the horses hooves gave him the most pain. Nate and Hardison helped rub the liniment into his bruises every night, and then discreetly left him alone to battle the pain and muscle spasms that resulted. The balm helped though, and for that reason, and for the fact that Caroline had recommended it, he continued.
Leverage, Inc. turned down many job offers those first couple of months, on the grounds that it was rebuilding from the 'undetermined' explosions that leveled their former offices while Eliot stayed at the new estate, healing and exploring the extensive house and grounds.
A month after that, Leverage, Inc. took on a few clients, restricting the jobs to those with light duty for Eliot, and within five months of the incident at Montana Skies, the team was back in full swing.
"Aw, man…. Eliot, man, slow the hell down," Hardison panted as Eliot whipped around him to sink another basket.
The two men had found the basketball court in the back of the estate a couple of days after they moved in. Now that Eliot was feeling better, he was getting more than restless and had challenged Hardison to a game of pick-up.
"Dude," the hacker panted again, "Dude, just…just stop."
"Oh come on, Hardison," the specialist growled playfully, "I can't get back into shape if you keep wussin' out on me like this."
Hardison hunched over with his hands braced on his knees and cocked an eye at the shorter man who was channeling the energizer bunny. The muscles on his chest and back were well defined, and those in his legs bunched as he bounded up for another two-pointer. The bruises that had been almost black a few months ago had faded so that they were almost gone, but the hoof prints could still be seen, and the slash that had once been an angry red line of stitches had turned a pale pink in contrast to the dark tan he was getting from the sun.
Eliot landed and turned to face his opponent, sweat shining off his bare chest, his breathing just a little bit heavy. He grinned and tossed his hair back as he threw the basketball back to Hardison.
"Man, with just those long legs and arms I thought you'd put up more of a fight for the basket."
"Against you? Ha! Tryin' ta catch you is like chasin' a Tasmanian devil! Yeah, yeah, that's what I'm gonna call you now; Taz. Freakin' devil, that's what you are. All jumpin' an' spinnin' an' runnin' an' stuff."
Eliot laughed as he followed his grumbling teammate back to the shower room to wash off before the briefing.
"Eliot, wait. Oh, Eliot, slow down!" Sophie panted delicately as she jogged after him in her designer sweat suit and tennis shoes.
Eliot turned around, still bouncing from foot to foot, as he waited for her to catch up. They had decided to take a jog around the estate, but whereas Sophie thought it meant once around the track in the back, Eliot had meant 'around the entire estate'. He had run around the track beside her, then coaxed her off onto the grass beside it, then continued to meander across the lawn heading for the trees at the far edge, increasing his speed.
"Eliot, I can't," she whispered as she took deeper breaths, slowing to a walk. "You, you just go on ahead."
"Ya sure, Soph? Come on, you'll get a second wind, just keep goin'," he tried to reassure her.
"We've already," pant, "run for more," pant, "than a mile!" Pant.
Eliot just cocked a brow, and said, "Suit yourself," and headed off in a sprint, his legs churning as he covered the distance in moments. He continued to push himself harder and harder, desperate to get as strong and as fast as he could.
Sophie watched him in admiration, wondering about the depths of reserve he was building up as he worked out almost feverishly. She waved her hand delicately in front of her face as she turned and walked up the incline to the house, ready for a long hot bubble bath.
Parker gave Eliot a look that said in no uncertain terms, "there is something wrong with you."
She stood in the middle of the gym, her hands fisted on her hips, blond ponytail swinging as she just shook her head. Her breathing was labored, and she looked at the crazy man in front of her.
They had started out stretching, each getting ready for their own particular brand of exercising. Parker preferred Yoga and Pilates, as it stretched and honed the muscles, lengthening and strengthening them without getting too bulky. It helped her keep the lithe strength and grace she needed for her jobs.
Eliot preferred boxing, weights, martial arts, and other high impact, close contact exercises.
With a grin he had impulsively challenged her to a wrestling match, which he had been sure she would refuse. Parker, being Parker, had decided it would be fun to play and had accepted eagerly. At first, it was hard to keep a hold of Parker. She used all of that grace and lithe strength to keep slipping out of his arms. 'Like wrestling with an eel,' Eliot thought to himself, beginning to wonder if this was a good idea.
After accidentally jabbing him in the ribs with a sharp elbow, Parker decided it would be more fun to change it into an all-out, no-holds-barred brawl.
She wasn't too sure now that that had been a good idea.
She had elbowed him in the ribs more times than she could count, tripped him and sent him sprawling, and even kneed him in the back a couple of times, but he just kept getting up, grinning, and inviting more. He crouched across from her now, legs slightly bent, hands outstretched towards her. It was hard to believe that less than two months ago he could hardly stand, but here he was, all lean and muscular, waiting for another challenge.
So Parker decided she'd take his outstretched arms for an invitation, and launched herself straight at him, wrapping her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck in a huge bear hug. Surprised at the unconventional maneuver, he fell back onto the mat, with her landing on top of him.
"HA! I win!" she crowed, and bounced off of him towards her locker room before he could object.
Bemused, Eliot raised himself onto his elbows, and then laughed as he rose to his own shower.
Letters reached Eliot at the estate from The Montana Skies on a regular basis. Life went on, mares were bred and dropped their foals, and Bill had been persuaded to come back to the ranch. Carson still refused, but Eliot could understand. The boy had been young and naïve and being roughed up was something some people just couldn't handle. Even with Randy back from his mother's, the ranch was still shorthanded, so Eliot had contacted a couple of trustworthy friends who agreed to sign on, both for ranch work and for protection, though only they and Eliot knew that particular part of the job description. With Dubravko Pupojec and his goons still at large, he would do his best to protect his Montana family, even though he couldn't be there himself.
He wrote back when he could, assuring them that he was regaining his health, and insisting that they not worry about him or Pupojec. He worded it delicately, but knew Thom and George would be able to read between the lines and know that he and his team were searching for the Croatian miscreants.
Nate and Eliot had discussed in detail what Pupojec had said when he had promised that he would find Eliot again. Combining that with the seriousness of the job, (and Nathan, Alec and Sophie's incessant nagging) Eliot reluctantly agreed to have a tiny transponder placed subcutaneously behind his ear. He felt like a tagged rabbit now, especially when Hardison rattled off his whereabouts the next day, but he accepted the concern of his friends. Hardison also accepted the concern Eliot professed about his well being when he leaned over Alec's chair and whispered a succinct and scary warning to him about the dangers of magnets and computers meeting. Hardison decided that the information the transponder gave him just wasn't very interesting anymore.
About two weeks after the comment about magnets, Eliot found himself hoping that Hardison had gotten bored and was watching the transponder again. Eliot could touch it in such a way that it would set off an 'alert' signal, and he had done so ten minutes ago.
He had been staking out an abandoned warehouse district on the docks for possible use in future heists on his off time. Pre-planning like this was what enabled the team to set up such quick scams if needed. Eliot had a knack for finding buildings and office spaces that were either abandoned or for short-term lease, and would regularly gather intel on various sites.
The previous day he had walked the sixth and seventh warehouses in this particular compound, having finished the rest at an earlier date. He entered the data he had collected in his own shorthand code and had started to leave when a warning bell had sounded in his head. Silently moving to the shadows, he waited and watched for 45 minutes before letting himself relax. He had been extra careful on his exit, and still hadn't seen anything unusual but the tingling sensation on the back of his neck hadn't settled until he parked his truck in the garage at the estate.
Today he had planned on telling Nate about the internal warning he had felt the day before, but it looked like the rest of the team were off on their own errands. He left a note on Nate's temporary desk instead, and returned to the warehouses, intent on finishing his job.
An hour ago his 'Spidey' sense attacked, sending him into a dark corner. Thirty minutes ago he had heard the sound of a boat on the water south of the building. Twenty minutes ago the soft scrape of a shoe on gravel three floors below. Ten minutes ago he had managed to slide his hand to the transponder and turn on the alert. Two minutes ago a chemical bomb had exploded on the steps behind him, sending knockout gas spiraling around his feet. Thirty seconds ago he whispered, "Oh, shit," as he slumped to the floor.
TBC. Yeah, you knew it was coming ;)
A/N: You know, I find it very inspiring when I have a split screen with my story on one side and Christian staring out at me from the other. *drool*