Disclaimer: Leverage is still not mine, heartbreaking through it is
As always guys and gals, any and all comments are not only welcome but appreciated and encouraged!
A stern face frowned, watching the video replay before him and his obvious displeasure grew. He reached back, posture stiff, and silently demanded the charts for 'Tom Baker' as he watched the corpse become reanimated on screen.
Behind him the young doctor who had attended the patient and a nurse gawked, shocked at the unbelievable sight. Naturally as soon as they had realized a body was missing, ID tags strewn on the floor, the hospital had taken the video footage from the camera out for examination. When the body was shown moving itself, they called for advisement and had been sent a specialist. He had the badges and paperwork to backup his claims.
"You are sure the patient was deceased?" The rigid figure demanded, voice booming and leaving no room for question.
The doctor fidgeted with his stethoscope, nodding his head in a nervous manner. "Y-yes, sir. I checked myself several times. He was the f-first patient I lost. Another doctor was standing in and can confirm."
The nurse nodded in agreement, not needing to see the report to remember that case.
A third nurse was staring, just as wide eyed, but her mouth pulling into a sloppy grin of amazement. "Cool! It's a real, live zombie!" She squeaked, hands clasped just under her chin as the man on the screen removed his name tags.
Slowly three sets of eyes turned to her.
"What? I didn't say I wanted to be in the room with him but you have to admit, it's kind of cool." She protested with a defensive frown.
Annoyed, the strict figure turned back to the report and looked over the offered information critically. He opened a manila folder he had brought with him and froze the video. With a flick of his wrist he pulled out a photo and compared it to the man on screen. The resemblance was unmistakable.
"If I may," the first nurse chimed in. "He was most certainly deceased when that report was filed. I remember seeing the doctor here deliver the news to his family myself. A wife and brother, another pair with them. Should we inform them of this mishap?"
He retorted, "And tell them you lost a walking cadaver of a loved one? Absolutely not. You were right to report this, madam, and we will see to it the family is properly informed. This could be a dangerous epidemic and we need to see that it is dealt with properly in case of contagion. Is the known information on his family in this file? We need to know how to contact them when the time comes."
She nodded an affirmative. "A copy of everything we had on file is there."
He pressed, "And you said blood samples will also be available? We need to investigate what caused the problems from the start you understand."
She nodded again, "Of course sir. The man you sent down to the lab already took care of the samples."
The man offered her a grim smile. "You did good madam, I thank you."
Carefully concealing his picture within the patient files, the man closed them all into the folder. They had been keeping an eye on all the hospitals hoping he would show back up. It looked liked luck was with them. Their specimen had managed to survive longer than expected and the fact he was walking on his own power put him scores above other examples.
He dismissed himself with ease, joining his men in the parking lot and not saying a word until they were well onto the highway. Unbuckling himself from the passenger seat of the van he moved into the back, handing the folder over to a man ready at a computer system that took a better portion of the van's back.
"I want the blood and DNA samples you received run against the subject. Check against the fingerprints if they are available." He ordered.
The computer man whirled in his chair, not bothering to look up from the information he had already taken the time to put together. "Yes sir. We ran the prints taken from the original subject as ordered and got a hit. He positively identifies as Nathan Ford, prints brought up from an old job with a company called IYS. He appeared to have been a reputable insurance cop. After he quit there he basically dropped off the radar. There were no recent medical records available to run against for blood or DNA samples. The closest thing brought up was a boy named Samuel Ford, deceased for two years. He was the son."
The other man took in the information, nodding, "Good work, Stewart. Run our new data for a comparison analysis. If there is a confirmation I want everything you can get me on Nathan Ford, alias 'Tom Baker'. Double check the prints. That should be our man. You will find the name of two relatives listed in that file. If 'Tom' is an alias you can bet those likely are too. Get me any information you can on them."
He turned to address the small crew gathered in the van. "Gentlemen, you are on a job of the utmost importance. As soon as the information is definite and readily available I want this man and anyone associated with him discovered. It is paramount that the subject is taken alive, preferably unharmed. The others are conditional for circumstance. No extreme actions are to be taken without direct orders from me. Remember that the subject may be dangerous. We need to get as close as we can without spooking him. Understood?"
"Yes sir!" The elite group saluted in union.
In the few days that had passed the team was slowly starting to fall into a sense of normalcy; at least as close to normal as they were able to be to begin with. Parker was still a little suspicious of Nate's miracle recovery but for the most part seemed at ease as long as she wasn't alone with him. As it turned out that wasn't much of a problem since Nate was rarely allowed to be alone. Someone tended to stay close at hand, typically Eliot who seemed to have taken a private vow about not letting the mastermind out of his sight for more than a few minutes at a time.
Interestingly enough Nate didn't put up a fuss. Rather he showed a slight aversion at the idea of being left alone. In fact, since his return he tended to be a little more hands on where before he preferred to avoid touching when it was unnecessary.
Since the scare of his 'death' the members of the team had started to stay together more often than not. Presently they were gathered in Nate's apartment for a movie night. Nate and Eliot were sprawled out on what had been designated as 'their couch', namely because the couple had a habit of commandeering it. Sophie was curled up on the smaller couch, a steaming mug of hot tea cradled between her palms. Beside her, using Sophie as a buffer was Parker with her legs crossed Indian style, under her reaching hand a bowl of popcorn was propped between her knees. Hardison was sitting in his usual seat, a 2-liter of Orange Soda at his feet and a hand buried in a newly opened bag of gummy frogs.
The movie, despite having been picked out by the hacker, was actually entertaining. Rather that's what Eliot had thought when he had been able to focus on the screen. It was becoming an increasingly difficult task compliment of the man nuzzling into his neck. Things had started out innocently enough with Nate nestling himself against him with the insistence of being cold, something not unusual these days. Eliot had answered by wrapping an arm around his waist and pulling the older man close. Supposedly at some point he had nodded off. Now Eliot was starting to question that fact and the motivation behind it because the hot breath ghosting over his skin and soft kisses that had somehow traveled under his chin where starting to give him distracting thoughts. Any more space lost between them and there wasn't going to be any question about it.
He ran a hand soothingly down the length of Nate's back, fingers light and careful to not press into areas that would encourage the actions in an attempt to settle him down. Granted that was easier said than done considering that Nate seemed physically sensitive to the touch since his return. He seemed more sensitive to everything actually: hearing, touch, taste…
When Nate started using his tongue between kisses Eliot was forced to concentrate on not making a responsive noise.
Nate's attention had shifted slowly from his chin down the length of Eliot's neck, tongue lapping leisurely over the area.
Eliot tightened his hold in his lover, hands making small circles against his back. The idea had been to make him stop, when he felt blunt teeth graze over his skin. A shudder worked through his body, eyes fluttering closed at the nip the followed. At the moment he wasn't sure if he needed to ignore the tempting actions, bring an end to it or to flip Nate under him then and there. The only thing holding him back at this point was the presence of the others. It'd been too long and Nate wasn't making things easy.
Blue eyes snapped open when he felt something rubber bounce off his head and he immediately turned a glare towards the hacker who had another gummy frog aimed, "Man, would you take him to bed already? Seriously. He's been trying to get your attention for the better part of an hour and I for one have no interest in seeing your private life in action, even if it's just foreplay. Nobody wants to see you literally kissing up to the boss."
Eliot growled his annoyance, the sound vibrating from low in his chest. At the sound of the growl Nate nipped a little harder, the motion clearly not affectionate this time.
Surprised Eliot jerked back, bumping against the cushions of the couch.
Hardison, not sure what had just happened, cackled at the display. The look on Eliot's face alone was priceless.
Parker paused with a handful of popcorn half way to her mouth, torn between being amused and alarmed.
Beside her Sophie looked calm but the tiniest tug of a smile had pulled on her lips, the teas mug still cradled close.
Eliot scowled with his eyes on Nate. "What was that for?"
Nate blinked a few times, looking for all the world like he had just woken up as his eyes adjusted to the dim lit room. "What are you talking about Eliot?" he asked quietly, looking over his shoulder at the paused screen. "What happened to the movie?"
Eliot stared at him, "What am I talking about? You bit me or did you not notice?"
Sophie, wide eyed, reached towards Parker and stole some popcorn from the bowl.
Nate looked even more confused. "I what?"
Eliot's face softened at his confusion. "You really have no idea, huh?"
Nate shook his head, uncertainty clear in his eyes. He had pushed himself back to the edge of the couch, swallowing and trying to ignore a small feeling in the back of his mind urging him to react to the questioning.
A sigh escaped Eliot. He was puzzled but damn if he knew what to do about this. Nate was starting to look panicked about the lost time.
The hitter shook his head, "I hate to say this but I think Hardison is right, we need to get you to bed."
Nate frowned at that. For one thing he wasn't sure when Hardison made any such comment. For another he didn't like being put to bed like he didn't know how to deal with himself.
Eliot saw the look and knew what the mistake was in his phrasing. "Come on Nate, you know I don't mean it that way. You're just obviously tired. The flick wasn't that good anyways. It had me nodding off."
"I will have you know that…" Hardison started but shut up the second he met Eliot's glare.
Nate's eyes stayed on Eliot. His pride was a bit ruffled but at the same time he didn't want to cause a scene in front of the others. He slid the rest of the way off the couch, feet catching him at the last possible moment and straightened.
He cocked his head, thoughts conflicting. Part of him wanted to turn on heel and just leave them there, go upstairs where he could try and sort this out with a little privacy. Another part of him didn't want to be alone, wanted to know Eliot was right there by his side. He felt his throat tighten in an attempt to make a noise that felt suspiciously like a whimper but he chocked it off so it came out as nothing more than a muffled squeak.
Parker watched with mounting fascination, numbly shoving the half forgotten handful of popcorn into her mouth.
Running his tongue over his teeth Nate reached out, offering Eliot a hand up. He was entirely too conscious of the eyes on him. Despite knowing well who was in there it still unsettled him in his current state.
Eliot slipped his fingers through Nate's, slowly pushing himself into a sitting then a standing position. He didn't know exactly what the other man was expecting at this point.
With a tug, Nate pulled him towards the stairs. Eliot's face actually reddened slightly at the stifled chuckle that could only be Hardison. He didn't even want to guess what the hacker was making noises about.
He went along with it though, questions set aside for later. Whatever was going through Nate's mind could be settled behind closed doors. Of course that didn't stop him from wishing he would drop some kind of clue, for Nate to give him a signal on what he was supposed to be doing.
Nate didn't release his hand until they were closed inside the bedroom. Already decked out in jogging pants and a tee-shirt he sank down onto the bed, watching him, "Happy now?"
Eliot followed suite and sat beside him. "You know I didn't mean anything by it."
"I don't need to be treated with kid gloves you know," Nate defended.
He sighed and scrubbed a hand over his face. "I know. It doesn't mean that I'm not going to react from time to time. Things are still taking some adjusting."
"You mean I am." He said quietly. He stared down at his lap before looking back up, cutting off whatever Eliot thought he was going to say. "Let me see."
"You said I bit you. I want to see."
Eliot didn't respond for a second, not sure if that was such a good idea. "It wasn't a big deal you know. It didn't even hurt. It was just unexpected is all."
Nate didn't look convinced. "Indulge me."
He wanted to disagree but knew he would just end up dragging things out. Grabbing the neck of his shirt he pulled it aside, revealing the tanned skin there for examination.
A bright red mark was visible across the collarbone, small indentions showing where blunt teeth had been. Nate traced the area with a forefinger. "I'm sorry."
"Told you it was nothing." Eliot insisted lightly.
"You call being bit without provocation nothing?" He leaned down kissing the mark.
Eliot let himself smile. "I call it unexpected but not entirely non-enjoyable. I have to admit, I'm kind of liking the results. Besides, technically I did growl."
Nate snorted against his skin and laid another kiss there. "And that just begs bite me."
Too much teasing. Eliot shifted so his hands were holding onto thin hips and flipped his lover under him, grinning down. "How about we make it fair since you are so worried and I leave a few marks on you?"
Eyes brightening at the prospect, Nate wrapped his arms around Eliot's neck. It was hard to worry with the feel of the younger man on top of him. "I think that just might do the trick."
"Thought as much. It's a good thing too. I would have taken a no but I wasn't going to like it."
"Then stop complaining about what might have happened and do something about it." Nate challenged him with a wicked smile.
Not needing anymore encouragement Eliot let himself be pulled down and captured soft lips with his own because God he had missed this man, missed this. He had been patient long enough and Nate's need for closeness was driving him insane with remembering to keep his hands to himself.
Fingers caressed his face, trailing down the line of his neck, stroked along his side. Nate responded, hands moving down the hard muscle of Eliot's back, nails scratching and legs tangling in an attempt to get closer.
Eliot pulled away long enough to breath and admired the sight of the man trapped under him.
Nate was lying against the pillows, lips swollen and face flushed with a mess of curls haloed beneath him.
Reaching up, Nate brushed some errant hair behind his ear. Eliot pressed his cheek into his palm as he started to move away, laying a kiss on the exposed skin.
The only thing able to disturb the peaceful moment was the sound of someone just outside the door. Eliot's face pulled into a frown and the hitter paused, listening for a tell-tale sign.
Nate met his look with raised brows, feeling the way his body had tensed. It didn't take a grifter to know something was wrong.
Eliot groaned in annoyance. "I don't know what they are up to but I'm going to handle this. Gonna wait for me?"
"Wouldn't dream of moving," Nate promised.
"I'll try not to take too long." Eliot grinned and stole another kiss before rolling off of him.
He opened the door with caution of a trained man but wasn't honestly too worried when he didn't see anyone. There was no way anyone got passed the others and up those stairs. Which meant one of the three was the culprit. Scratch that, two. Sophie was beyond snooping at doorways.
Flashing Nate a parting wink he made his way down the spiral case.
"Back so soon?" Sophie asked in a voice tinged with amusement, slowly adjusting to the couple.
Eliot gave the gathered group an annoyed glare. "Actually I was just… Wait, what do you mean so soon? What did you think I was doing?"
Parker had mysteriously relocated herself to the large couch and looked ready to comment.
Eliot held up his hands warding off any potential answers. He should have known better than to ask. "You know what, forget I asked. Just… Seriously? Can't you keep your minds out of the gutter?"
"So you two were, or are gonna…"
"Parker!" Sophie reprehended cheeks glowing pink with how blunt she intended to be.
"Well that's what it sounded like!" She answered defensively and pouted, "What if he bites you again?"
"Isn't that kind of the point?" Hardison pointed out.
"Alec, not you too." Sophie sighed.
"I knew you were listening at the door!" Eliot accused, pointing at Parker.
She frowned at him, "I was just curious. Someone had to make sure he didn't turn on you! Besides, I like the mental pictures."
Even Hardison cringed a little at that one. "Parker, that just ain't right. You have to respect people's privacy."
She looked confused, "Why? What's wrong with a naked Eliot?"
"I did not just hear that." Eliot groaned and covered his ears.
"Hold up, you've seen him naked?" Hardison ask, sending the hitter a hard look.
"Only in my head." She chirped before turning serious again. "I mean it though. Isn't biting bad? I mean, what if he tries to drink your blood or something?"
Sophie shook her head, "Parker, dear, I don't think Nate intends to drink anyone's blood."
Parker persisted, "Then why did he bite Eliot?"
Eliot tried not to roll his eyes, "It was on my collar, not my neck. Big difference. And there are a lot of reasons for biting that don't involve vampires. "
She kept on, "So you two were about to…"
"Let it go Parker." Eliot insisted, shaking his head. "I just came down here to make sure everything was alright. I knew someone was outside the door up there."
Sophie offered him a sympathetic smile. "We didn't mean to disturb you. She was just there one minute and gone the next."
Hardison took a second to look around himself, "Speaking of, where are my gummy frogs?"
Parker shrugged her shoulders. "What, why does everyone automatically look at me?"
"Something wrong with her," Eliot said more to himself than anyone in the room, rolling his eyes. "Look, if you guys are good I'm going to head back upstairs."
"We'll make sure the door gets locked on the way out," Sophie offered. "Goodnight Eliot."
He gave her a grateful smile at those words. "Thanks Soph. Goodnight guys."
"Have fun!" Hardison called up after him.
Eliot laughed when he was sure he was out of sight, shaking his head again. No one in their little oddball group was right and frankly he liked it that way. Something about it made things seem just a little more like home.
Opening the door to the bedroom, he started to say something but stopped at the sight that greeted him. True to his word Nate hadn't moved from the place he had left him in. In fact he was in the same exact spot, just curled up and sound asleep.
With a soft smile Eliot brushed a stray loose curl from his lover's face, replacing it with a kiss.
He took a minute to cover him up and make sure he was situated before shedding his own clothes and sliding under the sheets next to him. Nate mumbled in his sleep, snuggling closer to the other man.
"What am I going to do with you?" Eliot asked quietly, not expecting a response and not getting one. Content for now he pulled him closer, burying his nose in dark curls. It'd be a long while before he actually fell asleep but there was nowhere else he would rather be.