Notes: Written for Deanangst PDF inc. (Poisen Dart Frogs Inc) and the prompt they left me: "Eliot overly tired or hurt. Just some reason for Nate to have to use the Daddy voice and send Eliot off for a nap. Nate and Sophie really playing up the Dad/Mom rolls without even noticing."
Eliot wasn't really sure how this happened. No, he understood full well how this had happened. He knew the wedding job had gone off quite well if you discounted the whole butcher of Kiev and appetizer incident and that he'd stayed up most of the night for their post-job celebration and he'd gone off on a job of his own that weekend and didn't tell anyone he was going. He knew he got knocked around a bit. He also knew that he didn't get back until seven o'clock in the morning and he had gone in to the offices at nine without sleeping more than a couple hours on the plane.
Chronologically speaking he had no problem following the chain of events that led him physically to be where he was right now.
But that didn't mean he didn't find himself sitting here wondering. "How the hell did this happen?"
Nate was the first one to notice Eliot was having a hard time paying attention during the final debriefing for the wedding job. He was listing to the side a little bit, staring at Hardison with eyes that didn't stay focused for more than a minute or two at a time, his face flushed more than normal.
Okay, he probably wasn't the first person to notice but he was the first person to speak up about the issue.
"Eliot are you alright?" He asked, interrupting Hardison. Eliot turned to blink at him owlishly, eyes not quite tracking right for a second before he all but physically shook himself to attention.
"I'm fine Nate."
"Yeah right man, you look like hell." Hardison said. Clearly Nate wasn't the only one who'd noticed.
"I'm fine!" Eliot said without effect as Sophie got up and came around the table to put a hand to his forehead. The fact Eliot didn't even bother batting her hand away was a little concerning.
"You have a fever." Sophie declared. "You should go lie down. Where were you all weekend?"
"Runnin' a job in Mexico." Eliot grumbled.
"You ran a job in two days?" Sophie asked. "When was the last time you even slept?"
"On the plane back home this morning." Eliot more growled than said.
"Before that?" Nate asked. He knew Eliot didn't normally sleep while on a job. Eliot's lack of response spoke of how long it had been.
"Small wonder your coming down with something." Sophie said in answer. "You should go lie down for awhile before you get really sick."
"I'll be fine!" Eliot growled again tugging his shoulder away from Sophie trying to help him to his feet. "Nate!"
A surprised but sad smile crossed his face at the almost pleading tone in Eliot's voice. It sounded so much like Sam when he had a bad cold and Maggie would try to keep him from going outside to play.
"Listen to your mother."
"Listen to Sophie." Nate said the same tone in his voice he used with Sam. "This team needs you healthy. We can't afford to have you down for the count." Eliot growled and tore away from Sophie's grip but relented, climbing to his feet under his own power and heading outside the conference room for his office. "I better not find you playing with your knives later." Nate called after him.
Parker giggled and Nate looked over at her. "Want me to go check on him dad?"
"Yeah dad." Hardison put in. "I can put a surveillance camera in his room to make sure he's good."
"You both can get on with the meeting." Nate growled but after a sigh relented a little. "Or I'll send both of you to your rooms."
It was really hard for anyone to concentrate on the meeting after that.
Eliot hated being sick. When you lived alone and got sick everything was hard. But as it turned out it wasn't even that great to be sick when you weren't alone.
After leaving the conference room Eliot had gone back to his office, dimming the lights and relaxing in the big arm chair he had in the corner for when he needed to catch a quick nap. Once he was lying down a nap really did sound like a good idea and the next thing he knew he was waking up a couple hours later feeling like his head was stuffed full of cotton balls.
He didn't even notice there was someone else in the room until Parker was shoving a thing of drinkable chicken noodle soup under his nose. "It's good for colds." She said after he got over the shock.
Eliot took it from her and started drinking, if only because he was a little worried she'd try to feed it to him herself if he didn't. "Thanks Parker." He mumbled.
"Want something?" She asked, sounding at least like she was trying to be helpful and looking so eager Eliot gave in. He pointed to a book sitting on his desk. "What page?"
Eliot blinked a second then sighed, indulging her because this was Parker and even if there was something wrong with her she was still Parker. He put up with her and he'd beat the stuffing out of anyone who didn't. "232."
She opened it to the page, came over and perched on the arm of his chair. "'Now you have got it out of your system,' I said. 'That imp, that worldly, physical side of you'"
"Parker I can read it myself." Eliot said with a long sigh.
"But this is interesting. You're reading fantasy! You should tell Hardison!"
"It's a biography. They're using metaphor." Eliot said reaching for the book.
"Parker!" Nate said from the doorway, stern tone in his voice. "I said you could go check on Eliot, not harass him."
"But Nate!" Parker protested. "I was reading him a bedtime story to help him sleep."
Nate rubbed the bridge of his nose. Looking like he was developing a headache. "Look, I need you to go get some cold medicine from the CVS. He might need it later." Parker opened her mouth but Nate cut her off. "Yes, you can steal it. Just nothing else."
She put the book in Eliot's lap, gave him a glare that said "finish your soup" and left without a word.
"I don't-" Eliot started once she was gone.
"Need cold medicine I know. It's just easier to give her something to do." Eliot nodded and went to open his book only to have it slipped from his hands. "Resting isn't reading eight-hundred page biographies."
He was gone before Eliot could protest.
His next visitor was Hardison who came a little after noon some DVDs. He spent the next twenty minutes mumbling to himself about his Nana and how to take care of someone who was sick until Nate came in and sent Hardison out to get crackers and ginger ale. He also took the DVDs, though Eliot was a little more grateful. He wouldn't have to explain to Hardison why he hadn't watched "Serenity" and a tv show called "Firefly" if Nate took them away.
It was close to five o'clock and the team should have been going home when Eliot woke again, the feeling of nausea that had been growing throughout the day reaching it's peek. That feeling of panic you get when you know your gonna hurl and there's nothing you can do about it was rising like bile in his throat as he pushed himself from the chair and went for the door, trying to make it to the bathroom before he puked.
He got three steps out of his office before Sophie saw him and hurried over, trying to waylay or help him. Eliot wasn't sure which.
All he knew was the next moment Sophie's impeccable outfit was now decorated in Cambles Drinkable Chicken and Stars, some crackers, ginger ale, and stomach acid. There was a tense moment where Eliot was trying very hard to catch his breath and waiting for utter vengeance to be visited upon him in his weakened state.
The felt that feeling again, covering his mouth to try to fight his bodies reaction. Suddenly surprisingly strong arms wrapped around his shoulders and were pulling him the rest of the way into the bathroom so he finished losing the contents of his stomach into the toilet.
As he dry heaved, his stomach empty but not ready to give up, a hand rubbed soothing circles into his back while another pulled the hair out of his face and it wasn't until he could take a breather he realized Sophie wasn't going to murder him.
Leaning exhausted against the wall Eliot finally looked up in time to see Sophie take her hand off his back and stand, making a little face at her ruined outfit but not overly angry. Hardison had come and was offering him a glass of water to rinse his mouth out. Parker stood with Nate just outside the door holding the cold medicine she'd gotten earlier and a spoon like a overeager Florence Nightingale looking for a chance to swoop in and make everything better.
"Go change your clothes." Nate told Sophie before taking her place with Eliot on the floor. "I got him for a bit." Sophie lingered a moment by the door before nodding and excusing herself.
"Here man." Hardison said, offering the glass again. "And drink some. Nothings worse than dry heaving. It'll help if you start puking again."
Eliot said nothing but nodded his thanks.
They should have all been going home around then, but the team ended up deciding they neither wanted to move Eliot home or leave him alone so they all camped out at the offices with him. It took a few hours and plenty of trips to the bathroom to worship the porcelain god but in the end they were all settled on the floor and couch of the break room with Eliot close at hand if he needed them sometime.
It was strange but having them close by was comforting, like having your family all around you when you were sick.
And that was what he couldn't quiet get. When had Parker become his annoying little sister he'd willingly beat the stuffing out of anyone for? When had Hardison become the only marginally less annoying little brother and middle child who he managed to get along with well all the same? When had Sophie and Nate become the "Mom and Dad" of this little family?
How the hell did they become a family?
How the hell did this happen?
As Eliot drifted off to sleep, wondering how the hell he'd gotten here, he had to admit just a little bit that however he had gotten here he had no intentions of going back.