It took him a couple of months to find the video online. Hardison wasn't expecting it to be easy with the amount of aliases they all had. He suspected they had enough aliases combined to fill a football stadium and, he wondered how they hadn't all developed multiple personality disorder already.
He wasn't looking for it specifically, he didn't even know it existed until he found it. He just wanted to know more about them all. It was the hacker in him. The challenge of finding new information, digging deeper into the internet and finding things long forgotten.
He found the video after five hours of hacking into Chinese government archives and going through three bottles of orange soda and a giant pack of cheetos. It was at least five years old when surveillance technology still wasn't brilliant. He could barely make out what was going on in the fuzzy black and white video, but Eliot's frame, his hair, was easily distinguishable walking into shot.
He watches as two Chinese men come at Eliot from the other direction. They are skilled and moved fast, attacking Eliot with quick moves that the camera only catches in jerky movements. Eliot blocks every single move with exact precision, the same precision he's seen firsthand. He doesn't know where Eliot learned to fight like that and he's not sure he wants to know. All he knows is he doesn't want to be on the receiving end of Eliot's anger.
He's seen Eliot take down a group of armed men in seconds. What he's never seen is Eliot pull one of the men in front of him as a shield as the second man runs at him with a large knife. The knife goes straight through the man's chest. The knife is pulled out and Eliot lets go of the dead man before ripping the knife out of the remaining man's hands, pulling the man to him and slicing the knife through the man's neck. The second man is dropped and he falls over the first man. Eliot stars down at the bodies for only a moment before he turns and looks up at the camera.
The quality of the video is too degraded to see the expression on Eliot's face, but Hardison's not sure he wants to see it. He blinks when Eliot throws the knife at the camera and the video turns to static. The video stops playing and he stares at the black screen.
He doesn't know how to act around the retrieval specialist after that. Every time he looked at Eliot he saw the video in his mind, Eliot killing that man over and over again. He has no clue what to do with what he's learnt. Does he confront Eliot? Talk to Nate? Or keep it to himself. He can't just forget he ever saw the video, it's like trying to believe Santa is real after your parents tell you the truth, it just isn't possible.
He has so many questions he wished he has the answer to. How many people has Eliot killed? Does he liked it or does he lay awake at night with the faces of his victims haunting him? He finds himself studying Eliot's face for some answers, the clues of sleepless nights or skeletons in his closet. Eliot knows he's being watched and meets Hardison's eyes. He looks away quickly, not wanting to be caught, and turns back to his laptop. He types on autopilot, knowing the other mans eyes are still on him, an eyebrow raised.
An hour later Hardison finds himself being pushed into his darkened office by a strong hand, "Woah," He sounds out when he is forced back against the wall. His head hits the hard surface and he winces slightly, "What's your problem man?"
"What's my problem?" Eliot repeats incredulously. "What's yours?"
"I have no problem with you," Hardison practically squeaks. He's not going to admit that being on the receiving end of Eliot's muscle and piercing gaze is more than a little intimidating. He understands what makes Eliot the top dog in his field of "retrieval"
"You've been starin' at me all day Hardison, you think I haven't noticed?" He growls. "Tell me why I've become so fascinating before I make you tell me," Hardison didn't doubt for a second that Eliot meant it. He wasn't sure what it would entail but he had a pretty vivid imagination.
"Okay okay!" He slips out from Eliot's grasped and goes to his laptop sitting on his desk. He opens the lid and clicks a few buttons before twisting the computer around to face Eliot. "I found this last night," He says quietly. He watches Eliot's eyes as they flit from recognition to anger with a myriad of emotions in between. His hands ball up into tight fists at his sides and his jaw tenses.
"Where did you find that?" He asks and Hardison's surprised at the cool tone in Eliot's voice.
"I hacked into some Chinese government files," Hardison admits.
"Well that was stupid," Eliot stalks forward and slams the laptop shut, like he can't bare to witness himself killing a man, though Hardison couldn't either if it was him. "Why?" Eliot asked. "Why were you looking?"
"It's in my nature okay? I'm curious."
"Well curiosity killed the cat!" Eliot snapped. "My past," Eliot started, stepping into Hardison's personal space, his voice low and dangerous, "Is none of your business," He warns. Hardison receives the coldest glare he thinks he's even been given before Eliot turns away and makes his way to the door.
"You killed a man," Hardison blurts out and instantly wishes his mouth and brain communicated more so he would stop speaking before he thought.
Eliot froze, "Yeah, I did," he answers, his whole body still turned away.
"It's not the only time is it," Hardison continues.
Eliot slowly turns around and meets Hardison's eyes, "No," he says simply. It's the truth though, that Hardison knows.
"And in the future? Will you kill again?" Hardison needs to know. He's working with a damn murderer, he deserves to know.
"Maybe, I don't know," Eliot shrugs. "If it's a choice of my life or his? I know which one I'm going to pick."
"What if it's my life? Or Sophie's or Parkers....would you kill for us?"
Eliot is silent for a moment and Hardison wonders if he'll actually answer the question, if he would stand back and watch any of them be killed. Eliot turns and walks towards the door where he stops again and twists his head round. He meets Hardison's gaze again. "I'd die for you," He finally speaks.
Those four words were the last thing he expected coming from Eliot's mouth. He knew Eliot put himself in between them and the bad guys on numerous occasions; he just ever knew how far Eliot would go for any of them. It was more than a surprise, but then Eliot had always kept his cards close to his chest and his thoughts and feelings to himself. When he finally snaps out of his thoughts there's an empty space by his door where Eliot had been standing.