Disclaimer: I do not own Leverage or Alec and Eliot. Sad I know!

Author's note: So even though I promised myself I wasn't going to write for this fandom/pairing until I got some of my other stuff done, I did anyway. Gr. Oh well. Please...

ENJOY!


Stricken

Ever since he was a kid, Hardison would get horrible nightmares. As he had gotten older though, the frequency of them dissipated but when he did get them they were horrific and Alec found that he couldn't sleep for at least three days after one. He had learned to adapt to them over the years and if it meant he couldn't sleep for a few days to ensure that the nightmares had passed then so be it. For a time, Alec had control over the situation if not over the nightmares themselves.

But that had all changed as soon as he had teamed up with Nate and the others. For the first few months, everything had remained as it always had. He would have nightmares, stay up for a few days straight and then he'd be able to sleep for a while without disturbance. That all changed as he and Eliot started becoming closer on a more intimate level.

After he and Eliot had become closer – on so many levels – the nightmares escalated to the point where Alec was terrified to even think about closing his eyes. The only time that the nightmares didn't grip him was when he slept with Eliot after an intense session of sex. Only when he was worn-out to the most humanly amount possible did Alec sleep in comfortable darkness. But even that wasn't all that frequent.

More and more Alec found himself having to stay awake for days on end and even when he did succumb from the need to sleep the nightmares still ripped through him. His method failed him and he didn't have any other tricks up his sleeve. The intensity and frequency of the nightmares were getting to him and affecting his work. Eliot, as well as Nate, was starting to notice but every time he asked if he was okay, Hardison would dodge the question.

The hacker's breaking point was starting to become apparent to everyone on the team and it wouldn't be long before he finally broke into a million pieces. Luckily, Eliot wasn't going to just sit back and allow that to happen.

A day or two after yet another horrific and soul shredding nightmare had wrenched Alec awake, gasping desperately for air in the process; Eliot had cornered the hacker while he was getting his twelve coffee of the day.

"Alec," Eliot whispered directly into the younger man's ear as he came up behind him in the kitchen. He placed his hands on the counter, effectively trapping between the counter top and his chest.

"What?" Hardison gulped as he felt Eliot press himself flush against the hacker's back.

"When was the last time you got any sleep?"

Alec immediately tensed at the question and he knew that just by this reaction that Eliot knew he had hit a nerve. "Last night, you were there, you know." He knew it was probably futile to lie to Eliot but a guy's got to try, right?

Eliot stepped closer to Alec and removed any small bit of space between them. "You're lying," he spoke softly. "I know for a fact that when you thought that I was asleep you snuck out of the room and forced yourself to stay awake all night."

Crap, Alec mentally groaned. "And just how would you know that?"

"'Cause I waited until you had gotten yourself all situated in the livin' room before checking up on you," Eliot said quietly. "Now, you wanna tell me why you're pushing yourself to stay awake all night, darlin'?"

Alec sighed, he knew he wasn't going to escape from this situation and even if he did somehow manage to escape, Eliot would catch him and then it would be even less pleasant of a situation. Better to just get it over with, Hardison thought as he relaxed into Eliot's chest. Automatically, the hitter's arms left their position on the counter top to wrap around Alec.

"You can tell me anything, darlin'."

The quiet murmur against his neck made Alec smile. For all of Eliot's muscles he was still such a softie at heart. "I get nightmares," Alec confessed quietly. "Always have, ever since I was a kid. I eventually found a way to manage them. After having one I'd stay up for a few days straight and then I could sleep again for a couple of weeks before the next one hit. Not anymore though."

"What changed?" It's not just a couple of days anymore. You're up for almost a week straight before you crash and even then it ain't that long before it starts all over again," Eliot spoke, worry coloring his voice.

Alec couldn't help the smile that spread across his lips as he listened to Eliot's quiet observations. "Us, that's what changed."

"Us? What do you mean?"

"As we got closer, the nightmares became more graphic, and started happening more often. I don't know why but they just did. I can't explain it and I don't understand it either and that freaks me out."

Eliot could practically feel the unease running off of Alec in waves. So, the hitter tightened his grip on Alec before slowly walking backwards into the living room. Upon reaching the couch, he sat down, pulling the hacker into his lap. It took a moment before they got themselves comfortable. Alec ended up nestled against Eliot's chest and with his head buried in the hitter's neck, before Eliot asked his next question.

"What are they about?"

Alec knew this question was going to come about but he still didn't know how to respond. "When I was a kid, they were about the usual things; the Boogieman, monsters under the bed, things in the closet and my parents' deaths. They eventually faded with age expect for the last one..."

As Alec trailed off, Eliot tightened his grip on him in reassurance. It was the only thing he could think to do to offer the hacker some form of comfort. He had known about Alec's parents but he had never bothered to think about the younger man being haunted by dreams of it but it made sense at the same time.

"The ones recently though," Alec paused as he gathered his thoughts. "These ones aren't easily solved with just wearing myself out mentally and physically. Even when I'm dead on my feet, as soon as I fall asleep they're plaguing me. Nothing I do seems to work anymore and I can't bring myself to go to sleep."

They sat in silence for a few moments and the weight of what was haunting Alec at night made Eliot want to do anything and everything in his power to bring some sort of relief to his lover. "What are they about, Alec?" Eliot stressed when he realised that Alec had never specified what the current ones were about.

Alec shifted uneasily in the hitter's arms before grasping enough courage to speak the fears that haunted his mind at night. "They're about you. I keep seeing you die over and over again on a job. You're either shot before any of us can reach you or mauled by junk yard dogs while running from a blown cover. It doesn't really matter what the back-story to the dreams are, they just all end up with you dead in one way or another. They're horrific and graphic and it terrifies me to think that some day that one of these gruesome scenarios playing over and over in my head is going to be how you leave me one day. "

Eliot was at a loss for words. The emotion behind Alec's words shook him to his very core. The hitter was floored by how hard these nightmares had ripped through Alec and left him fearing his own subconscious. What really hurt Eliot was that he didn't know what to do to make it all disappear and stop it from haunting the younger man's mind at night. He was never going to leave Alec if he had any say in the matter but there was always a chance that one day he wasn't going to be able to have the chance to come out of something alive.

So Eliot just gripped Alec tighter to him and hoped that holding the hacker tight would help to elevate some of the darkness enclosing on his mind. It might not help Alec sleep but Eliot was determined to find some way to make it so that he could once again get some sleep.

He just didn't know how he was going to accomplish such a task.

With a heavy heart and the knowledge that ridding Alec of this was going to be a long time coming, Eliot just gathered the hacker ever closer and whispered soothingly in his ear that nothing was going to take him from Alec.

END