Follow Up Care

Mady Bay

January 28, 2010

A/N: Follow up to the bar fight between Eliot and Sterling in the beginning of The Zanzibar Marketplace Job. This started out as a short/sweet PWP h/c. Then it got schmoopy. Enjoy!!

Eliot smiled, admittedly taking pleasure, as he cranked Sterling's arm up a little higher, causing the man to let out a small grunt of pain.

"You're lucky," he whispered into Sterling's ear, shoving him up the stairs toward Nate's apartment.

"Oh, do tell, Spencer," Sterling replied tiredly, waiting for the inevitable "I could have killed you" speech.

"If you're waiting for the "I could have killed you speech," Sterling, you're out of luck," Eliot said. "With scumbags like you, I prefer the "to the pain" speech."

Sterling just rolled his eyes as they reached the apartment door. "Maybe next time, if you manage to get off Ford's leash," he said, willing to receive another crank up on his arm and shoulder to get the dig in.

Eliot replied with expected twist of the arm and shoved Sterling over toward the sofa, glaring at the man. When Nate and the others arrived, he eyed Nate quickly before heading toward the bathroom.

Once the door was closed securely, Eliot took several deep breaths, letting out the stress and pain he'd been feeling since the fight downstairs. Leaning on the vanity counter, he squeezed his eyes shut and dropped his head down, breathing in through his nose and out through his mouth, quelling the painful groans that wanted to escape. After a minute or so, when he felt he had his body under some semblance of control again, he reached a hand back and felt his left hip and lower back, where he'd taken multiple strikes from Sterling's ASP baton, gently palpating the areas, paying special attention to the area over his kidney.

He didn't feel anything out of the ordinary, other than the pain. No immediate swelling, no firmness that would indicate any major internal bleeding. He lifted his shirt higher and then dropped his pants. He turned this way and that, looking in the mirror and directly at the bruising flesh. He wished he had time and privacy to put some ice packs on. "Gonna be some pretty colors there soon," he murmured. He moved toward the toilet then and after relieving himself, took a look – no blood in the toilet yet, but he also knew that it was too early to really expect any anyway.

After finishing cleaning himself up, he grabbed a couple of Tylenol from the cabinet. Reaching for the door, he took one last cleansing breath, and then headed out to meet with the others to find out what Sterling was up to.

Upon his return to the group, Nate made eye contact, silently asking if all was okay. Eliot gave him a quick nod in response and joined the team.

LLLLL

Nate saw the quick wince indicating pain as Eliot exited his seat and headed down the aisle. He'd watched the fight between Eliot and Sterling and he was the one that picked the ASP up off the barroom floor when it was over, closing the extended baton and pocketing it. His retrieval specialist had indicated that all was okay, back in the apartment. Now, though, four hours into their flight to Kiev, this was Eliot's second trip to the plane's bathroom since takeoff.

He followed shortly after, planning on checking on Eliot. He did not want Eliot risking his health, his life, for the job. Even if it was for Maggie…

Nate waited patiently outside the bathroom door. When Eliot emerged a few minutes later, he blocked his return to his seat.

"Passing any blood?" Nate asked quietly.

Eliot feigned confusion at first, but when Nate just stood waiting, he let out a sigh that was part resignation and part irritation.

"Not enough to worry about," he reported.

Nate raised an eyebrow. "Not enough" meant there was some.

"I stocked up on cranberry juice and Tylenol. No worries," Eliot added, taking a step away.

Nate put a hand up onto Eliot's shoulder, halting his progress and said, "You'll let me know if this becomes an issue."

Eliot didn't bother to answer. It would not be an issue.

He stepped around Nate and headed back down the aisle. Nate followed and continued to watch as Eliot again tried to hide the pain as he sat back in his seat.

LLLLL

Throughout their whole time in Kiev, Nate kept tabs on Eliot. Nothing overt – he didn't specifically ask if he was in pain, didn't follow him into the restroom or even ask Eliot to lift his shirt to check for bruising. Parker had done the last two. He hadn't known that the others had also seen that Eliot was hurt. He'd shaken his head at the realization, though – observation was what this team was about. Of course, Eliot had just glared at Parker and given her the "you're not right" line that had become the joke of the team.

He trusted Eliot, though. In his own way, Eliot kept Nate up to date just by continuing to do the job, giving him small cues – a tip of the cranberry juice filled cup, a nod of the head upon entering a room – letting him know that all was good.

And then again, he also should have known to trust Eliot to downplay all of those cues…

During the last hour of the flight home, as the flight attendants made some last checks of their passengers, one of them was startled to find out that one of them was sick.

Nate was alert to the tone of voice she was using, as was the rest of the team, and moved to Eliot's seat.

"What's wrong?" Parker asked.

Nate took in Eliot's demeanor – he was sitting rigidly in his seat, sweating and breathing quickly – he was obviously in pain.

"Eliot? I take it this has become an issue now?" he asked.

"Maybe," Eliot managed to say.

Nate rolled his eyes. He looked at the flight attendant and said, "My colleague here was injured in a car accident while on our trip. We thought it was just some bruising, but apparently it's not… "

"We'll make sure an ambulance is waiting when we land," she replied and headed for the intercom to let the pilots know what was happening.

"How bad, Eliot?"

"Bad enough that he's showing it," Tara remarked, standing behind Nate.

Nate didn't like her tone of voice, but he had to agree. "How much blood?" he asked Eliot. "What can we do?"

"Not a lot of blood. Hell, not a lot of anything," Eliot replied painfully. "Right now, ain't much anyone can do."

"You got any meds? Anything for the pain?" Hardison asked. He'd seen one of Eliot's first aid kits.

"Already took some Percocet."

The flight attendant returned. "We've been given a priority landing. An ambulance will be waiting," she reported. "But until then, you'll have to return to your seats."

Nate looked at the others and motioned for them to do so. He took the seat next to Eliot, though.

"Next time, Nate… I ain't gonna go so… easy on him," Eliot said, turning his head to meet Nate's gaze.

Nate replied with a nod before looking away. He wished for a drink then.

LLLLL

As promised, an ambulance crew met the plane upon landing. The paramedics boarded the plane and checked Eliot out. He went along with Nate's story about being hit by a car the day before. Within half an hour he was at the hospital.

Nate and the rest of the team met up in the waiting room. Tara posed as Eliot's wife in order to get updates on his condition, which unfortunately, were far and few between. They'd been there several hours before they were given anything definitive.

"Mr. Jackson's kidney has been badly bruised," the doctor told them. "The blunt force trauma he received did cause some internal bleeding, which began to clot on its own. Normally, that's a good thing. In Mr. Jackson's case, though, the clot was large enough to block the kidney's flow, similar to a large kidney stone."

"So how is he? Have you fixed it?" Tara asked.

"Yes, it's fixed," the doctor reassured them. "Right now, Mr. Jackson is resting comfortable – his prescription for the next few days is to rest and drink plenty of fluids."

"Thanks, doc," Nate put in, shaking the doctor's hand.

LLLLL

Later that evening, with the others gone home by his orders, Nate entered Eliot's darkened hospital room.

"Hey, Boss," Eliot greeted him tiredly.

"Hey, yourself," Nate replied. He thought about sitting down, but didn't. "Glad you're going to be okay."

"Like I said, not enough to worry about."

Nate half smiled and let out a puff of breath. "But we do, Eliot," he said. "You're going to have to remember that."

"The job got done."

"It's not just the job, Eliot," Nate cut in. "We're a team. No. We're more than a team now." He let the words hang there a minute. "I don't want you getting hurt any more than anyone else."

"I'm a hitter, Nate," Eliot argued back. "It's my job."

Nate closed his eyes for a second and sighed. "You're more than that, Eliot. Hell, you show us that every day." He paused again when he saw that Eliot wasn't liking where the conversation was headed. He put up his hand. "How about this: can we at least agree that if there are any injuries, they will be dealt with immediately? No more wait and see and hope for the best?"

Eliot looked at Nate, saw in his eyes that this had nothing to do with being able to do a job, but everything to do with being a friend. He wasn't sure how to handle that – it was a new sensation. Finally, he nodded, saying, "Yeah."

"Good. Now get some rest. I'll pick you up when the doctor says you can go home," Nate told him.

A/N: cookies for anyone who can reference the "to the pain" line!