Disclaimer: I still don't own them. Dammit.
Spoilers: If you still haven't read 'Missing Something?' first, you're just gonna be real lost. Also note: Dr. Daniels is a creation of mine from the fic "Trophy", in case you're curious. No spoilers from that tho.
A/N: Still working on the 'c' part of 'h/c'….seems I get bored with it awful fast, unlike the 'h' part. I think I'm evil. Heh
A/N2: I was listening to 'Canyon Heartbeat', a CD from Native American Musician Richard 'Blackhawk' Kapusta while writing the last part of this chapter. I really recommend any of his CD's, as they are powerful and enchanting, as he is himself, and I consider myself blessed to know the man personally.
I Found What You Lost
Eliot finally managed to convince the others that he would be alright if left alone for the night. They weren't completely reassured, but realized that the retrieval specialist needed his space. Only after he agreed to keep his door open did they relent, and then they meandered out into the hall and to their own bedrooms to finally sleep, even though dawn was breaking outside.
Grateful that he had had the foresight to install light-blocking curtains; Eliot let himself sink back into the soft pillows to rest, allowing the extra feather mattress to gently support his battered body.
Instinctively he began cataloguing his injuries. His head ached from pounding into the floor repeatedly, but he dismissed the thought of concussion. He vaguely remembered hearing Sophie say something about a bloody eye and dismissed that as well, knowing that it was simply a capillary that had burst and there was nothing to do but wait until it healed. In the meantime, it wouldn't affect his vision at all. His jaw hurt from clenching his teeth from the electrocution, but a few applications with ice would set that right. If he could find the motivation to get out of bed and get some. Thinking on it, he decided to just live with it.
He found himself focusing on the minor injuries of aches and bruises before he realized that he was shying away from the effects of electrocution and another near-drowning. His body still tingled from the electrical currents, but as he concentrated on them he found they were diminishing. Every once in a while they would sneak up on him and he would tremble for a moment, but he was able to keep from making any sound, riding it out until it passed.
His lungs and chest hurt fiercely. He remembered how it had felt after Dubravko had caught him the first time, and worried that this time was worse. He had only just recovered from the first non-voluntary introduction to breathing water, and he hoped that he wouldn't get anything worse than a bad cold.
Satisfied that there was nothing he could do for the moment but rest, he closed his eyes and let himself fall asleep.
Even though they had been up for a day and night straight since rescuing Eliot and staying at his side until he regained consciousness, the rest of the team did not sleep soundly. Nate and Parker found themselves walking together towards Eliot's room, and after stopping in to make sure he was sleeping comfortably, they made their way to the kitchen with the excuse that they were just hungry and had only been getting up for a snack and that checking on Eliot was just on the way. Eliot's room was in the opposite direction from the kitchen, but neither of them mentioned that.
Parker jumped up after eating her sandwich and hopped out of the kitchen, leaving Nate to clean up the few crumbs. He did so, and then headed back to his room, catching sight of Sophie heading into Eliot's room just as he rounded the hall to his own. A bit later he heard her returning to her own room adjacent to his, closing the door, and turning on a classical music CD, its soft and gentle strains soothing him to sleep.
Eliot slept for more than twenty hours. No one was particularly worried, except when Parker started to show signs of getting bored. She prowled around Eliot's room, playing with the various weapons she found stashed in odd places.
Finally, when Parker had yelped for the third time, nearly slicing her hand with the current sharp and shiny, Nate shooed her from the room. He understood her desire to be close in case Eliot woke up and needed something, but he didn't really want her to wake him up because she had skewered herself with something.
Late on the third night, Eliot woke up with a measure of lucidity. Having ascertained that it was his bladder that told him that he'd better visit the little boy's room quickly at the risk being quite embarrassed, he slowly levered himself upright. Someone had foreseen the possibility of him awakening in the night, and had therefore left a small nightlight by the bed, and another in the bathroom, the door of which was thankfully open. Eliot sat on the edge of the bed for a moment, giving his body a chance to realize that it was in a vertical position, and then carefully transferred his weight to his legs. Satisfied that they would keep him from faceplanting on the carpet, he slowly shuffled to the bathroom.
After finishing what originally led him there, he began to feel a bit warm. He leaned against the wall for a moment, the heat rising quickly in his neck and face. Suddenly overwhelmed by the need to retch, he fell to his knees and braced his right arm against the toilet seat and wrapped his left around his aching chest as he heaved. Somewhere between the bouts of uncontrollable sickness, he was able to thank God that he had already flushed. A dry chuckle tried to come forth, but all that it resulted in was another round of vomiting.
After what seemed like an hour, he finally realized he was done. Shaking with weakness and reaction, he flushed the toilet again and hauled himself up, turning to the sink and running cool water to rinse out his mouth. The water felt so good that he dipped a washcloth in and, bending over to rest on the edge of the counter, laid it on the back of his neck for a moment. He repeated this several times.
Dully, he realized that he was only getting warmer, not cooler, with the application of wet cloths. Deep in the back of his mind a tiny alarm sounded, prodding him to seek help. A year ago, that alarm would have been resoundingly squashed and permanently silenced, but in the last few months he had been giving in to it little by little. The small allowances that he made for the rest of the team had not been thrown back in his face, making him less and less wary of being thrown out to fend for himself. Knowing by now that the rest were able, and in fact eager, to help, he turned to exit the bathroom fully intent on seeking their assistance. However, his drastically depleted strength chose at that time to finally give out on him.
Halfway to the door of the bathroom his legs collapsed and he fell to the floor. He had a moment to revel in the delicious cool of the ceramic tiles before darkness claimed him once again.
Hardison was up just before dawn, eager to resume his hacking. He had left numerous sleeper programs on several key systems in order to ferret out information concerning Dubravko, and was more excited than a kid at Christmas to see what kinds of gifts they left for him. First things first though, he went to check on the man those programs were intended to help.
Passing Nathan in the hall, he entered Eliot's room and saw that the bed was empty. Hoping that the hitter had just answered the call of nature, he walked to the bathroom door and knocked softly.
"Hey man, don' mean to be bustin' about your business, but, uh, you are just, uh, takin' care of it, right? Um, business, I mean?"
He waited, cringing, for the scathing response that Eliot would fling, but received only silence.
"Hey, Eliot man, answer me. I mean, I don' wanna be breakin' inta anything, if ya know what I mean…."
"Okay dude, I'm gonna open the door. I'm givin' ya warnin', so don't be jumpin' on me with the hittin' and smackin' and stuff…."
Hardison took a deep breath, ready to start running if he indeed interrupted anything, and opened the door a crack. He gasped and flung it wide open when he saw Eliot sprawled facedown, unconscious on the tile.
"Nate!" he called over his shoulder as he dashed to the specialist's side, his hand darting out to the pulse in his neck. Finding it thready and fast, he also noted that Eliot's skin was over-warm and wet with sweat.
Nathan arrived in moments, shocked to see Eliot lying on the floor with Hardison kneeling next to him. The hacker held a digital thermometer in his hands, and looked worried when he read the temperature to Nate.
"We've got to get his temperature down now. Hardison, get the water running in the shower, no warmer than room temperature for right now, we don't want to shock his system."
As the other man turned on the water and started regulating the temperature, Nathan rolled Eliot onto his back and gripped him under the arms, then dragged him towards the shower. The stall had no lip on the edge; it simply started a slight decline so the water naturally flowed into the drain, which saved Eliot from a rather nasty scrape along his recently healed back.
Laying the specialist down on the slick floor of the shower, Nate took the hand held sprayer from Hardison and directed the water onto Eliot. After a few moments, he indicated for Hardison to lower the temperature. Ten minutes later and cooler water yet, he reached for the digital thermometer and took Eliot's temperature again.
"103.8, it's down, but not enough. Lower the temp a bit more, and can you reach those washcloths?"
Alec turned the water temperature down more, and handed Nate one of the cloths he had indicated. Previously he had avoided spraying Eliot's face, but now he placed the cloth over the younger man's eyes so that he wouldn't get water in his eyes should he wake up and turned his head so the water wouldn't run into his nose. That done, Nathan drenched Eliot's hair and then sprayed across his chest and up his neck.
"Good Lord, what happened?"
Both of the men were startled at the soft British voice. Nate recovered first and said "Sophie, get that featherbed off Eliot's bed; with this fever he doesn't need to sink into that extra fabric. Then cover it with some towels again. And have Parker get some ice packs, wrap them in towels." He included the young thief's instructions because he saw the blond head peeking out from behind Sophie.
When he turned back to his duties, Hardison already had the thermometer ready.
"103.1. It's coming down well now," Nate said, "A little more and we can get him back to the bed. Hopefully the ice packs will keep it down longer. I'll have to check in with Dr. Daniels at the clinic and see what he'll recommend."
An hour later Eliot was dried off and settled back in the bed, lightly covered with a sheet, his head and chest elevated on pillows. They had wrapped ice packs and tucked them against his sides, along his inner thighs and around his ankles. Dr. Daniels had recommended azithromycin, which Parker found in Eliot's large store of medical supplies. Shortly after her raid on his medicine cabinet, Eliot woke long enough to take the pills, then sank back into restless sleep.
The next two days were a blur to the young hitter as he fought the fever, coughing and bouts of nausea. He would lie listlessly on the bed as one of his teammates tried to keep him cool with fans, ice packs and cool cloths only to toss painfully as another round of coughing would hit, trying to curl up around his aching chest. He would be held upright over the bucket held in front of him, but his retching would invariably be only dry heaves, since he hadn't been able to keep anything down for days. After a while, he would relax a little and be able to lay down to rest, until another catch in his throat would make him gasp. That would set off more coughing, and the wet rattle in his chest worried them more than they would admit.
Finally they called Dr. Daniels to come and assess his condition. Worried about the young man's dehydration and wheezing, he prescribed an intravenous drip of nutrients and antibiotics. Finding that his oxygen saturation was less than 90, he decided to utilize the oxygen he had brought along as a precaution. After the doctor had inserted the IV and adjusted the oxygen mask for Eliot, his rest seemed a little easier.
Dr. Daniels also added an expectorant with guaifenesin for the cough, in order to help Eliot cough up as much of the mucus as possible. During this time the rest of the team was to get Eliot to drink as much liquid as possible, and continue to combat the fever, which hovered steadily around 102 degrees.
By now there was a schedule of caregivers around the clock, overlapping in rotating teams of two. Since the doctor's arrival, Eliot had been lucid more often, and they were able to make him drink water and herbal teas, even though they didn't always want to stay in the company of his stomach.
Vaguely Eliot realized that his teammates were once again around him, helping him fight through this sickness. He didn't look forward to Nate and Hardison's shifts very much. Although it was somewhat amusing to listen to Hardison get on Nate's nerves (when he could muster up enough energy to actually listen), it was another matter when they had to help him cough up the crud that was accumulating in his lungs. They woke him up more often than he'd like to drink the nasty cough medicine that Dr. Daniels had prescribed, and unfortunately it did as it was supposed to and loosened the gunk in his chest. He'd feel it rattling in his lungs as he tried to breathe as shallowly as he could. Unfortunately, sooner or later it would creep up on him and he'd start a coughing fit, then Nate would lift him up to rest against his chest, his arms holding the younger man up. While Alec held that infernal bucket in front of him, he coughed until he thought he should be able to see his lungs in the bottom of the pan, but he still kept coughing. When he was done, Nate would gently wipe his mouth and lay him down against the pillows again, replacing the oxygen mask and placing a cold cloth on his neck.
Eliot hated the helplessness he felt. His body was betraying him; he could hardly move without assistance. Never before had he been so sick. Wounded, yes, plenty of times. Feverish from injuries, of course. Weak from torture, dehydration, starvation, yes – yes – and yes. But actual sickness, well, he was blessed with an otherwise healthy immune system when it came to that. Therefore this experience was unique, both in the sense that he had never endured it, and that he had never had anyone to help him through it. And he found that, since it had to be endured, at lease it was easier to endure with friends at his side.
The time that was spent with Parker and Sophie was surprisingly the easier of the shifts to tolerate. He was exhausted from the hours of coughing, his chest hurt unbearably and he didn't think that it would be at all relaxing to be in the company of two chattering women. His muscles ached from being overworked, but Sophie had discovered something that enabled him to rest. She had seen him rubbing at his chest after one particularly vigorous session with Nate and Alec, and got a curious expression on her face. Before Parker could ask, she dashed out of the room and returned a few moments later with a bottle in her hand. She sat on the edge of the bed and opened the bottle, spreading the oil onto her hands.
"Easy, Eliot," she said softly, "a light massage might just loosen up those tight muscles of yours."
He couldn't imagine that he would feel any better after letting her pummel him with a massage, but he didn't have the strength to argue. Her fingers started to press into the sore spots and he didn't remember any more until Nathan woke him up hours later.
"Well, his lungs sound much clearer, and his temperature is finally down to a more acceptable level. We can start to wean him off of the IV if his stomach accepts solid foods," Dr. Daniels told a grateful Nathan as he finished his exam.
It had been three days since his first visit, and the enforcer was doing much better. Although he was gaunt from lack of solid food and the hollows of his body were more pronounced, the fluids had cleared from his lungs, and with a lot of food and rest, he would quickly recover. Now that the doctor had allowed them to stop the cough medicine, Eliot would be able to sleep for an extended period of time, allowing his body to heal.
Eliot slept for another day before he woke, this time with a growling hunger. Parker brought him a bowl of chicken noodle soup, and at the murderous look on his face, quickly explained that she read someplace that chicken noodle soup was supposed to help you get better when you were sick. Because he didn't want to hurt her feelings, since she was obviously trying to help, and because he didn't have the strength to get out of bed and make something for himself, he drank the soup. Surprisingly, it filled him up more quickly than he would have expected, and he waited with dread for it to make a reappearance. When it didn't, he relaxed, and the next thing he knew, he was waking up again.
Over the next few days, he steadily regained his strength. His muscles lost their shakiness, his appetite grew, and the dark bags under his eyes began to go away.
After two weeks, he received a clean bill of health from Dr. Daniels, and gradually began to work out again, harassing Hardison on the basketball court, running laps around Sophie, wrestling with Parker and even cajoling Nate into tossing a baseball back and forth a few times.
Eliot got a phone call two months after that and quietly disappeared. There was a note on Nathan's desk that he read with obvious anger, but wouldn't tell the others what it said. He also wouldn't, or couldn't, tell them where Eliot was. The hitter returned five days later, cut up, bleeding and limping badly. When asked what had happened, all he would say was, "Dubravko won't be back."
THE END!! (For now, anyway, heeheehee!)