Title: Old Friends, New Enemies 5/?
Rating: PG-13 for violence and swearing
Disclaimer: I do not profit from this fic in any way, unless pure enjoyment is a measurable expense now. I do not own Leverage or the team, though they are nifty!
Author's Note: All songs in this chapter are by Christian Kane and are awesome!
Setting: Season 1, any time before the First David Job.
Summary: A simple job becomes complicated when an old mark recognizes one of the team at a party and decides to settle an old score.

For over an hour Eliot was 'kept company' by Sophie. He painfully listened to her describe all her favorite stage roles, what was so great about them, the challenges of each and then she moved on to a one-sided discussion of other roles she would like to pursue in the future, weighing the pros and cons of each one and why she was perfect for them all. Eliot drowned her out for the most part and focused on flexing and moving as many muscles as possible so he wouldn't be tight and immobile should he have to move suddenly. Thankfully she never quizzed him or asked his opinion on anything she said but he wondered if this was some kind of cruel torture she had devised beforehand with Timothy as it was worse than anything else he had been put through that day.

Thankfully she eventually had to go into town to get a few things for her distraction disguise and Hardison tagged in to take over "Eliot Entertainment" duties.

"I'm so sorry man," Hardison said as soon as Sophie was out the door. "If I had known she was going to do that to you I would have muted your earpiece an hour ago."

Eliot sighed in relief that she was gone, "Just make sure somebody watches her the next time she wants to keep me company. I couldn't even pull the damn thing outta my ear."

"I hear ya man. Well, I don't know if this is what you want to hear or not but I can't actually talk too much myself, I've gotta hack this security system before tonight," Hardison told him apologetically but then continued quickly with more excitement. "But, I did find that iPod I gave you next to your bed and I see that you have uploaded a whopping 30 songs onto it. I can plug it directly into the com line if you want to listen to it for awhile."

Eliot wanted to growl something about Hardison going through his stuff but he was too impressed by the hacker's thoughtfulness to complain, "Yeah, that'd be great, thanks."

"No problem, let me know if it's too loud," Hardison requested and with a few keystrokes the music was playing through Eliot's com line allowing the rest of them to get ready without feeling guilty for leaving him alone in the dark.

Closing his eyes, Eliot was finally able to relax and try to recover from Sophie's hour of torture as the familiar music washed over him.

Nate had been walking through the room as Hardison had been setting up the iPod and asked, "How's he doing?"

Hardison half shrugged, "Good, I guess. Kind of ridiculously good because I know if it was me I would be crying and begging for my mama right now. If I didn't know better I'd think he was just out somewhere, not tied up in some psycho's basement."

"Well, as much as we don't like to think about it, Eliot's not unaccustomed to situations like this. He'll keep his cool until we get there," Nate commented but then couldn't help but ask, "What kind of music does Eliot listen to?"

"Damned if I know," Hardison replied, frustrated as though he had tried to find out as well. "None of the songs are labeled, they're just numbered. Just a second."

After hitting a few keys the music started to play through Hardison's speakers:

If you could hear it in my voice
And see it on my face
You left me with no choice
But to leave you for the chase

The song had a clear twang to it and was little more than a singer and a guitar.

"Country, what a surprise," Hardison mumbled.

"It sounds familiar but I can't place it," Nate said as he listened.

"That's Eliot and his mysteries for ya," Hardison replied, having almost given up trying to figure the hitter out.

"I suppose," Nate said distractedly. The song was very familiar, full of honesty and regret, but he didn't have time to analyze it, they all still had a lot of work to do to get ready for the job that night and it didn't help that they were all particularly unfocussed that day. It was beyond frustrating for them to be able to talk to Eliot but not help him in any way as he sat alone and hurt in some dark, cold room. Even though to Eliot it seemed like they were going above and beyond what they had to do to help him, to the rest of the team it felt like they were doing practically nothing. All any of them wanted to do was break Eliot out now before anything worse happened, but they all had to constantly remind themselves that the only way they could do that would be to get the sword first or else they had nothing to bargain with. It also didn't help anyone's mood or focus that none of them had eaten anything that day other than a snack here and there. Nate had suggested they all eat something substantial before the job but knowing that Eliot hadn't been given any food or water since being dragged away, none of them could bring themselves to sit down for a meal.

After Hardison's turn Parker took over com duties to keep Eliot company. She knew it would be too tiring for him to talk back much but said she didn't mind and that she would just pretend she was talking to her plant, which mostly didn't respond as well. Eliot chose not to question the 'mostly' part of that sentence and just let it be as Parker described a few of her best break-ins to him. Eliot actually enjoyed this one-sided conversation though as he picked up a few tricks that he might be able to use on later jobs.

Around 10pm the remaining members of the team gathered around the layout table for a final run through of the plan. Eliot had been missing for 12 hours already and emotions were running high. After taking turns talking with him to keep him company they had all noticed how the pain and exhaustion in his voice had been getting more pronounced with each hour. Now they were ready to get moving, motivated beyond anything they had ever felt before to get this job done. Before they got started Hardison went to his laptop and tapped into Eliot's com line.

"Hey, Eliot? You awake?"

The hitter had been drifting in and out of consciousness for the past several hours and Hardison was pretty sure he had woken him up when he replied blearily, "Yeah, I'm here."

"We're about to do a run through of the plan for tonight. You want to listen in or should I turn the music back on?" Hardison asked.

"I'll listen in, see what you guys came up with," Eliot replied. He made it sound like he was just curious but really he wanted to learn how dangerous this plan was and if he thought it wasn't safe he was going to do his best to talk them out of it.

"Cool," Hardison said, then hit a few keys so all five of them could talk.

Nate put a hand to his ear – he hadn't talked to the hitter in a couple of hours, "Eliot, how are you doing?"

"My nose is itchy. Other than that I'm great," he replied roughly, not seeing any point in going over his injuries again.

"Did you try scratching it with your knee?" Parker suggested.

Eliot chuckled mirthlessly, "Yeah, my ribs decided that wasn't an option."

"Just hold tight, as soon as we get the sword we'll be able to work out something to get you out tomorrow," Nate assured him.

"I know, you told me. Now get on with the meeting, pretend I'm not even here," Eliot requested.

Hardison started to open his mouth to point out that the hitter wasn't 'here' but realized that wouldn't help anything so shut it again.

"All right," Nate agreed, turning his attention to the plans laid out on the table. "Midnight, we get to Richmond's. Sophie, you head to the front as Ms. Hail requesting a late night meeting. We know he's not home tonight so this should occupy at least three guards, hopefully. Parker, you sneak in through the kitchen vents here while Hardison ghosts the cameras."

"Got it," Parker nodded.

"How is she getting past the extra guards?" Eliot asked, knowing that was supposed to have been his job.

"Hardison managed to hack into the part of the security system that controls the door locks. They all lock with a code. If any of the guards look like they are heading Parker's way when we don't want them to we're going to change the code to the door they're trying to get through and lock them out," Nate explained. He tried to sound confident but Eliot had detected the hint of hesitation in his voice.

"Hopefully they will all just think they're putting their codes in wrong, not that the system's been tampered with," Hardison added quickly.

"Are you kidding me? As soon as they think something might be wrong they'll set off the alarm and everyone's gonna come runnin'!" Eliot exclaimed angrily.

"Not necessarily. I mean, I don't think I would admit to anyone that I couldn't remember a six-digit code. I would probably just go find another door," Hardison replied.

"That's why you're not a security guard!" Eliot retorted. "I told you guys not to rush this for me! I don't want you going in there until you have a real plan."

"This is a good plan Eliot," Sophie assured him.

"Besides, I'm sneaky. We won't even need the door thing," Parker added confidently. "And it's not like you can stop us."

"Damn it, you guys said you were gonna be smart about this," Eliot growled and pulled on his cuffs. He was getting frustrated that he couldn't actually do anything to stop them other than argue his point.

"I'll be really sneaky," Parker promised him in what she thought might be an assuring tone.

"That's not good enough, y'all aren't gettin' caught cause of me," Eliot hissed back. Then in the dark of the cold room he lifted his head towards the door as he heard the first sounds all day that weren't coming through his earpiece.

"Look Eliot, we don't have …"

Nate was cut off by Eliot's, "Shh."

The hush hadn't been angry. It was focused, calm and serious, indicating that for the first time in hours something was happening on Eliot's end of the com line.

"Eliot, what's going on?" Nate asked, whispering as though the sound might travel past Eliot's earpiece and down the hall. They could all hear the hitter grunting in pain as he pushed himself to a standing position despite the protests of his bruised limbs and broken bones. After taking a few steps towards the door Eliot could hear the footsteps in the hallway more clearly – there were at least three men coming, none of them light on their feet. In fact, one of them was walking very heavily and unevenly, meaning he was probably limping.

"Shit," Eliot cursed. It could only be Marcus, the guy he had pissed off in the car, and if he was bringing two friends with him he knew they weren't just passing by on a stroll. "Someone's coming. It's at least three guys. I don't think it's room service."

Back in the cabin his teammates shared terrified glances, worse case scenarios running through each of their minds. They all opened their mouths to speak but nothing came out. What could they say? Eliot had nowhere to run or hide, probably wouldn't even if he could, and as much as they wanted to be there with him he was completely alone.

Eliot knew that if something bad was going to happen to him the team wasn't going to be able to stop it so he saw no reason why they should hear it. And he knew they would listen, to all of it, no matter how bad it got, no matter how much it terrified them or broke their hearts with feelings of frustration and helplessness, they would listen to it all, trying to help but ultimately feeling useless.

"Turn off the com link, now!" Eliot demanded not willing to put them through that.

This was followed by a moment of gaping silence before anyone could speak.

"Eliot, whatever's going on we're not just going to leave …" Sophie started to say haltingly as she tried to deny to herself just what was probably about to happen.

The door was opening. Eliot only had time for one more message before he could no longer acknowledge his teammates in his ear. Deciding to appeal to their leader, the man who knew the most about him, Eliot whispered softly, "Nate, turn off the coms. Please."

Nate squeezed his eyes shut and hung his head – even while they were trying to save him Eliot wanted to protect the team. The heavy footsteps could be heard by everyone now, quickly followed by a cracking sound and a cruel, chuckling voice, "Did you miss me?"

"Earpieces out, now, all of you!" Nate decided hitting a button to mute the com line and putting a hand out, waiting for the small devices to be handed over.

Parker, Hardison and Sophie didn't move, not truly wanting to hear any more but unwilling to walk away and abandon Eliot.

"But he'll be …"

"You heard the man Parker," Nate bellowed strictly, palm still upturned. "He doesn't want us listening. Earpieces, now!"

There were no more arguments as the thieves slowly removed the devices and put them in Nate's hand.

"Good, now go eat something and get ready. We're leaving in two hours," Nate confirmed, face set in a stony mask as he sat down heavily at the table. Again there was no movement, forcing Nate to bellow again, "Go!"

Parker and Hardison did as instructed, their faces haunted and steps unsure as they left the room.

Sophie lingered behind – Nate hadn't taken out his earpiece.

"You're not going to …"

"No, I'm not."

Sophie accepted this with a nod and shuffled forlornly from the room, not sure where she could possibly go now.

Nate sighed heavily, preparing himself as he opened the line back up.

"Eliot, the others are gone, I took their coms. I know you want me to leave too but I'm staying, I'm not going anywhere," Nate said apologetically, speaking loudly to be heard over the quickly escalating situation on the other end. He knew Eliot couldn't respond but he waited with bated breath for some sound or sign that he was doing the right thing, that he was doing anything. His eyes lighted on the iPod still hooked into the com lines. "I … I don't know if this will help … distract you maybe. I'm going to turn your music back on. But I'm here Eliot … I'm here and I'm not going anywhere. We're going to come get you. Just hold on."

As Nate listened to the sounds on the other end he knew that Eliot couldn't respond even if he had wanted to. A vice began to squeeze around Nate's heart as he listened silently, cringing and jerking with every terrible sound. Running his hands through his hair Nate stood up and poured himself a double of scotch – he would need it to drown out the sounds of agony coming through the other end of the line.

Eliot tensed when the door of his cell opened. He was standing, leaned up against the wall, doing his best to prepare for a fight, which wasn't much with cuffed hands and a broken body. What he hadn't been prepared for was the flood of light that filled the room, blinding him painfully after twelve hours in the dark. He squinted and turned his head away from the doorway to let his eyes adjust. He could hear several things happening at once – footsteps entering his cell, harsh laughter and Nate demanding the rest of the team take out their earpieces.

Thank you Nate, Eliot thought briefly as his eyes made out three figures in the doorway, the closest and biggest being Marcus.

The big man was limping only slightly now and smirked triumphantly as he looked Eliot over, "Did you miss me?"

Silence over the com line. The team was gone; Eliot was free to be a defiant smartass without worrying or scaring the others.

"About as much as Europe misses the plague," he replied cockily, blinking rapidly to right his vision as he stood up straighter.

Marcus moved closer, shaking his head with fake disappointment and smile on his face, "Still running your mouth I see."

Eliot tried to dodge the punch that followed but the big man was fast and Eliot's reflexes were not at their best. The fist hit him in the jaw and knocked him down; he managed to land on his arm in an attempt to keep his broken ribs from puncturing a lung but the bones still grinded together on impact, effectively knocking the wind out of him.

Marcus leered as he bent over him, "You'd do well to show a bit more respect when Mr. Power asks you a question."

"Thank you Marcus, I think that's good for now but if he seems to forget his lesson feel free to remind him."

Eliot hissed when he recognized the second voice as Timothy. Apparently the boss had come down to play. Turning his head he saw the taller man stepping just past the doorway, still dressed immaculately in his over-priced suit, he was eyeing the room and Eliot with disdain.

"So, we have a lot to discuss don't we, Eliot, was it?"

Coughing as he started to roll up onto his knees, Eliot sneered, "You can call me 'sir'."

The kick to his back sent him down to the floor, winding him again. Timothy knelt down now, looking him over as he writhed.

"Now let's be civilized. I really did just come down here to talk, so tell me, what has my Isabella told you about me?"

Eliot laughed with the little breath he had. He was easily able to see through the man's casual demeanor – he still loved Sophie, he could tell, but he hated her too and he desperately needed to know how she felt and Eliot was the only source of information he had.

"You stupid son of a bitch, she's never even brought you up. She tends not to talk about the dumbasses that she's conned before," Eliot hissed out with a smile, delighted that he could get a barb in that would seriously hurt this guy.

He was stubbornly trying to pull himself to his knees one more time when Timothy himself kicked him hard in the stomach. As he curled in on himself another boot from Marcus hit his lower back ensuring he stayed down.

"You are a very uncooperative man. Don't think that I would have any qualms about returning you to Isabella in a body bag," Timothy hissed.

"Wait, wait," Eliot coughed out desperately, rolling to relieve the pressure on his ribs. "She did mention you … once."

As Eliot spent a moment heaving in several huge breaths Timothy crossed his arms impatiently.

"Well, I'm waiting."

"She used to talk about this guy who … who she used to date," Eliot's desperation suddenly morphed into cockiness as he sneered, "She laughed about how he could never get it up. I can only imagine she was talking about you."

Timothy's face immediately grew red with anger and he growled as he viciously knocked Eliot to the ground for a final time.

"Marcus!" he bellowed, fists clenched. "Our guest seems to have trouble staying down. Why don't you do something about that."

Eliot would have been concerned about this comment but he never heard it as the static in his ear had reappeared just as he was knocked down. A moment later Nate's hesitant voice started to speak to him.

"Eliot, the others are gone, I took their coms. I know you want me to leave too but I'm staying, I'm not going anywhere."

Dammit Nate, Eliot growled in his head. He hadn't wanted any of the team to hear what was going on, especially now. He didn't need to see their pity if he got out of here or have them unfocussed while they tried to bust him out, but at least the others weren't listening anymore.

Gasping on the ground he could barely even struggle when he felt a boot roll him onto his stomach followed by a knee pressing into the small of his back to keep him down. His broken ribs spasmed from the pressure and his body jerked in pain. This was followed by his handcuffs being undone around one wrist but his freedom was short lived as his arms were wrenched forward and cuffed again in front of his body.

"I … I don't know if this will help … distract you maybe. I'm going to turn your music back on," Nate continued, his voice shaking with a fear he desperately tried to squelch.

Eliot had no time to enjoy the blood flowing back into his lower arms as his wrists were stretched out in front of him and a heavy boot belonging to Timothy's second goon crushed down on his hands, holding him in place and forcing him to stay facedown on the floor.

"But I'm here Eliot … I'm here and I'm not going anywhere."

With a grunt Eliot tried to pull his arms free but he had no strength left and the large man's foot just pressed down harder, crushing Eliot's wrists. As Eliot groaned in pain he could hear Marcus chuckling, thoroughly enjoying himself as he snapped open a pocket knife and cut the shirt away from Eliot's back.

"We're going to come get you. Just hold on."

Eliot felt the chilled air hit his skin as Marcus stood up and there was a snap of leather. Eliot didn't have to look up to know what the large man was now holding and he shifted his energy from trying to escape to tensing his muscles in preparation. As the first strike of the lash struck his back, Nate hit play and familiar music washed through his ears.

It's been a long time
Since I wore this rattlesnake smile
And a lotta my friends haven't seen it in quite a while

As his back exploded in pain Eliot grit his teeth to keep back a yell. He grunted with the impact but was thankful that at least Marcus seemed to be using a belt and not a whip. The leather strap came down again, across Eliot's shoulder blades directly where the crowbar had hit him hours before. This time he couldn't stop the exclamation of pain or his body's involuntary response to try to escape. His knees curled up beneath him to try to move despite his hands being pinned down but Marcus laughed and brought the belt down again on the exact same spot, shocking Eliot's body with enough pain to put him flat on the ground once more. As the pain ratcheted up Eliot did as Nate had suggested and tried to focus on the music, mouthing the lyrics in a desperate attempt at distraction.

I feel my eyes rollin' deep inside my head
And there's a feeling of misconception in the air

Yeah, I'm startin' to see
Yeah, I do believe

Strangely enough the song reminded him that he had to look around. When this beatdown was over he knew the lights were going to be shut off again and he needed to take stock of where he was while he could still see. He had to get the team as much information as possible because they were coming for him. He knew they were coming for him.

I used to have a soft southern glowing face
I used to lead my heartaches away on the chase
When you get stung with the heart of a little child

His forehead was currently pressed against the floor to hide the pain on his face from his tormentors but he willed himself to look to the left. He shut his eyes as the lash fell again, this time on his lower back drawing blood, but when he opened them again and took a breath he took in everything about the room – one door, steel, deadbolt, brick walls, bare, smooth, no openings, Timothy smirking contently by the door, boot-clad feet belonging to Marcus. Absolutely nothing useful.

Another strike fell eliciting yet another grunt of pain. As his body shuddered from the after-effects Eliot forced his head to look in the other direction.

Two things immediately caught his eye. The next shout of pain that left his mouth covered the brief chuckle he let escape his lips.

Well, that's how you get that rattlesnake smile

Even as the strap fell again he grinned through the agony. He knew how he was getting out.


So, Eliot's not free yet, hehe, maybe next time. But I did resolve all my issues with flow and pacing so I'm quite pleased with the end result. Eliot probably isn't though as it ended with him being whumped, oh well. Hope you all enjoyed!

Oh and I have another Leverage fic in the crossover section of the site. I know most people don't check that part regularly so I just thought I'd let you know, it's a crossover with Psych and only has Eliot and Hardison but it's fun. Thanks.