"When you can't walk, you crawl. When you can't crawl, you find someone to carry you."

The situation had gone horribly wrong in the space between one moment and the next. Intellectually Hardison knew that trying to figure out what went wrong was not as important trying to GET OUT, but he couldn't stop his mind from going there.

The blast had knocked him off of his feet, thrown him an unknown distance and landed him in an uncomfortable amount of rubble. Somewhere, in the back on Hardison's mind, far beneath the *panic* and *pain*, he was already running through the exit strategy Nate had pounded into their heads; he might be able to drag his ass to the meeting place, but there was no way he was getting out on his own.

Functioning on pure adrenaline and trying desperately to ignore the heavy pins and needles where his legs should be, Hardison crawled his way across the storehouse loft to the blocked off exit door. He couldn't see through the smoke; he couldn't hear past the crackle of the fire that was too rapidly gaining on him. All he could think about what getting to a place where they could find him.

Hardison's thoughts ran over themselves as he pulled himself along with his arms. Parker's too small to carry me out on her own and there's not enough time to rig up a harness Eliot might be able to drag me out the back if he's not dead himself and I could walk but I can'tfeelmylegs...

Running out of strength in Hardison fell to the floor with a gasp. Nate was yelling something in his ear; Sophie sounded panicked right behind him. The last thought Hardison could hold on to was thinking that at least he knew the two of them were okay.

Without warning, a cool hand pressed against the back of his neck. Parker. How can she be so cool in all this heat?

Eliot's hands were warmer, stronger, searching. Not dead. They're not dead. And if they're not, I might not be either.

In spite of the panic he had felt just moments before, Hardison suddenly felt secure. He'd found someone to carry him, and they were all going to be okay.