A/N: Okay this came out a little darker than I expected overall but hey, what can you do? Enjoy x
He doesn't remember exactly how it came about, but somehow Parker discovered another of Eliot's hidden talent; he seemed to be able to fix just about anything. Little trinkets, intricate watch mechanisms and antique clocks. He could also fix machines like trucks and motorbikes and cars and kitchen appliances. And plates, and tables and roofs and windows...
The list went on and on.
At first it got on Hardison's nerves, in a BIG way. Not that Hardison himself was useless in that department; he could fix anything computer related and he worked damn hard to focus and constantly putting copious amounts of time and effort into researching and improving his skills. But Eliot, well he just seemed to stare at things for a little while, then poof, he just got to work and it miraculously was fixed. It galled Hardison that it just seem to come so easy to the man. Eliot didn't have to put in any effort whereas he found himself slaving away.
He was glad the guy didn't go near computers unless absolutely necessary. If Eliot could fix computers too he might get homicidal on his ass, not that he'd have a snowball's chance in hell against Eliot but that wasn't the point!
The other thing that annoyed Hardison of course was the fact that Parker seemed to just present Eliot with things to fix; relied on him. No. Just... NO. That was not okay. He knew he was being ridiculous and petty and just plain old jealous (not that he'd ever admit that to anyone else of course!) Of course this all changed when he found out why Eliot was so good at fixing things.
It had started with him losing his temper.
"My freaking television broke!" Parker announced as she walked in slamming the door sounding seriously annoyed and uncharacteristically making a noisy entrance. "I was in the middle of watching the Meer cats and it just broke!"
"You want me to fix it?" Eliot asked nonchalantly. "I got..."
"Oh for God sake! Do you have to be able to fix everything! What, are you afraid you aren't manly enough already? God why don't you just dress like a cave man and go round bonking people on the head with a club? Oh wait, you already do that."
Hardison had no idea where that had come from or when he had developed this apparent death wish. Eliot just looked confused and annoyed (although he always seemed to look a little annoyed – it seemed to be his default setting so he couldn't be certain this was connected to what he had said.)
"Did you just call Eliot manly?" asked Parker innocently.
"What! No! That's not what I meant!"
"What the hell is your problem? Her TV's broke, so I'm offerin' to fix it. There's no hidden meaning Hardison I'm just tryin' to help okay? And why the hell am I explainin' myself to you?"
"You know what? Whatever man, just whatever!"
"Did I miss the part where I did something wrong? Are you... jealous? You wanna fix the damn TV you go right ahead. That'll be less work for me. No? Then what... well come on then, ya got somethin' to say to me boy?!"
Then Hardison 'stormed out like a little girl' as Eliot put it when he recounted the story back later to Sophie and Nate. This marked the start of several days of awkwardness and cold looks and glaring, a serious lack of cohesion between the two. This culminated in a con going pretty much sideways and a rather bruised looking Eliot finally losing it at Hardison when they returned to Nate's apartment.
"Okay you and me, we deal with this right now! I'd suggest going somewhere a little more private but I'm not sure you'd make it back with all a ya fingers talk right now!"
Eliot was really mad. So mad that for the first time Hardison was actually afraid he might hurt him.
"Look I'm really sorry man, I didn't mean it." Hardison said quietly hoping to assuage the man. It didn't work.
"Didn't mean it!? Didn't mean WHAT!? For me to almost get my teeth kicked in or for screwing up the con by acting like a ten year old!?" Hardison was speechless for a second. Then he lost his temper too.
"Oh, right, this is all my fault! 'Cause you're Mr Perfect in all this! If you hadn't a..." Hardison stopped abruptly suddenly realising Eliot had no idea what they were supposed to be arguing about.
"Hadn't of WHAT!"
"WHY DO YOU HAVE TO FIX EVERY LITTLE THING THAT BREAKS AROUND HERE?!"
Now Eliot just looked utterly confused. Where had that come from?
"What? Fix everything? What are you talking about? Wait, this is about that argument days ago? I didn't even have a clue what the problem was then. Y'know what? You're pathetic. Damn it!" he hissed lent too hard on a bruise. "I need some damn ice."
"Oh I'm pathetic?" he stepped closer to Eliot putting on a 'girl' voice and said, "Oh no! I've got a tiny bruise, I must ice it immediately or I might break into itty-bitty pieces!"
There was a collective intake of breath from the others. Okay he was officially insane and suffering verbal diarrhoea... and did he mention insane. Eliot's voice dropped to a terrifyingly lethal whisper.
"You think this doesn't hurt? You think I do this for fun? Get away from me." No reaction. "GET AWAY FROM ME!!" he roared shoving Hardison clean across the room before swinging round alarmingly and putting his fist through the cupboard behind him and proceeded to smashing every piece of china inside it. "GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT! ALL OF YOU! GET OUT RIGHT NOW!!"
So they fled, all of them. They could hear the smashing continue inside, the sound of rage and destruction.
And then, there was silence.
They all looked to each other, wondering what the hell to do. They had never seen Eliot lose control like that. Nate took charge...
...And sent in Sophie.
This was not cowardice on his part it was just that Sophie was better at the whole soothing thing. Plus he knew with absolute certainty Eliot would never, ever hurt her so she was the sensible choice. There was no fear involved, honest.
She tapped gently on the door.
"Eliot?" she called softly. "Eliot, I'm coming in."
He was sat with his legs folded to his chest, his forearms resting on his knees with his head hanging. He was taking deep, calming breaths. His arms were crossed at the wrists and she could see blood dripping down onto the floor.
He had his back to the reverse of the couch. Sophie lowered herself down next to him.
His voice was absolutely emotionless when he spoke.
"Don't worry; I'll clean this mess up."
"That's not what I was worried about but I'm sure Nate will be glad to hear it though." She glanced around at the devastation. The others sidled in, assuming it was relatively safe as they hadn't heard any screams. Eliot continued speaking in that flat monotone voice.
"You want to know why I'm so good at fixing things. When I was a kid my house looked like this a lot. So I fixed the broken things that I could because I thought if I fixed them all maybe I could fix the other broken things in my house. And then maybe things would stop getting broken." He stopped for a second. "Turns out I couldn't fix those things though. Those people."
Hardison heard the silent implications in the cold, detached words. He felt a little sick. How could he have been such a jerk about Eliot fixing things? And about the other things too. He knew that Eliot was so meticulous about icing his injuries because it reduced the swelling, because swelling meant pain and limited movement. And that mean he couldn't protect the others as well as he should or felt he should.
He constantly put his life on the line to keep them safe and Hardison had thrown it back in his face.
Eliot got up and walked away. Hardison felt his stomach clench as he stared after him. He suddenly feared he might never see him again.
"Wait!" he shouted running after him. "Eliot, wait! Eliot...I'm so sorry!"
Eliot stopped but didn't turn around. He said simply, "I know." No emotion; void of anger, of hate, of blame. Void of anything. And then he just carried on walking away.
The next day Eliot arrived back at Nate's for the briefing. The relief at his return was palpable. Hardison stood and unable to look him in the eye said, "I can go if you want."
Eliot tilted his head to look the other man in the eye before saying softly; "It's okay." Then he added, "I'm sorry for scaring you all. I'd never hurt you. Not ever."
Hardison was going to protest that Eliot had no need to apologise before deciding against it. Eliot needed him to accept it; so he did. "Sure thing"
They tidied Nate's apartment together; sorting through the chaos and the ruins. They salvaged what they could and replaced what they couldn't.
And just like that Eliot forgave Hardison. Even if Hardison didn't think he deserved it. And things gradually just went back to normal. Hardison's harsh words were forgotten. The memory of Eliot putting his fist through a cupboard to stop himself putting it through Hardison slowly faded. Their broken friendship was fixed. Their broken team was fixed.
And one day, Hardison hoped Eliot might be fixed too.