Hardison woke up in a hospital bed to the sound of crunching directly by his ear. Turning his head to the side he winced from the sharp pain shooting through his skull and neck. When his eyes opened again, he was face-to-face with Parker.
She was resting her chin on the side of the mattress, eyes red, eyelids sagging with exhaustion as she shoved one potato chip after another into her mouth. "Where am I?" Hardison barely got the words out past his dry throat, and Parker passed him a plastic cup full of water, supporting him as he took a few sips.
"Hospital," she responded, pushing another chip into her mouth, spraying a few crumbs on the mattress. "I really hate this place. The nurses keep giving me mean looks just because I keep breaking in to sit with you guys after visiting hours. It's not my fault their alarm system is a decade old."
"People don't usually break in to hospitals Parker, they usually want to break out." Hardison laughed softly, wincing as his head began to pound again.
"I was ready to break you out, but Nate wouldn't let me," Parker said in a resentful tone, as she crumpled up the now-empty bag of potato chips and shot it into the trash. "He said you needed to rest here, where they could monitor you."
"Nate's here?" Hardison looked around the room as much as he was able.
"He and Sophie are with the doctor about when we can get you and Elliot out of here." Stretching her arms over her head, Parker arched her back over the chair, stiff muscles popping and shifting.
"Elliot's here? What the hell happened to him? Is he ok?" The words flew panic-stricken out of Hardison's mouth as he shot upright, head spinning.
"Oops." Parker's eyes shifted to the door as she edged towards it. "I wasn't supposed to let you know about Elliot. Nate's going to be really mad at me."
"Parker, get your ass back here!" But Parker had already slipped out the door. "Shit, she's probably up in the air ducts by now," Hardison groaned. Grabbing the call button, he pounded on it until a nurse came sprinting in, followed by Nate and Sopie.
"I'm fine, I'm fine," Hardison insisted, waving the nurse's ministrations away. "What is going on with Elliot?"
"The nurse glanced over at Nate, and they met eyes, Nate giving a slight shake of the head. "I'm afraid I'm not supposed to release that information to you, sir," the nurse said softly, checking Hardison's blood pressure. "Oh my, your blood pressure is really high."
"Of course it is!" Hardison snapped. "No one will tell me about Elliot!"
Nate and Sophie exchanged a quick look, which Hardison caught. "Tell me what's going on with Elliot, or I'm going to unhook these machines, get my ass up, and find someone who will tell me. Or better yet, I'll just hack into the hospital's records and find out for myself."
"He will," Sophie said matter-of-factly to the shocked-looking nurse. "We'll deal with this, thanks for your help." The nurse hurried out of the room, shooting one backward glance at the group in the room before closing the door behind her.
The second the door closed, Hardison opened his mouth. "What. Happened. To. Elliot," he demanded.
Sophie sighed, and helped Hardison stand up without dislodging his IV. He swayed slightly from the dizziness, but stayed on his feet to pull the curtain aside.
Elliot lay on the hospital bed, hair disheveled, face wan, as Hardison moved as quickly as he could to his side. "Elliot, what the hell happened?" Hardison asked frantically.
"He was shot," Parker said matter-of-factly," dropping gracefully down from the air vent. "I stole you guys some Jello." She proudly displayed the blue and green cups in her hand.
"Shot?" Hardison couldn't stop himself from moving even closer to Elliot, reaching his hands out to gently pat down Elliot's body.
"Way to just blurt that one out, Parker," Elliot snapped, slapping away Hardison's hands.
"Sorry," Parker mumbled around a mouthful of Jello, shrugging her shoulders. "I figured he'd figure it out when he saw the hole in your side."
"Hole in your side?" Hardison yelled.
"It went in and out," Parker announced. "Missed all the major organs. The doctor said if it had been one inch to either side it could have done some major damage."
"One inch?" Hardison yelled again.
"Parker, stop talking, Hardison, stop repeating." Elliot sighed in irritation, rolling his eyes. "Nate, when can we get the hell out of here?"
"The doctor thinks you need some more rest," Nate began, but stopped when he saw the look on Elliot's face.
"I'll take care of him." Hardison spoke up, passing a hand over his eyes to try to stop the room from spinning.
"Don't think I didn't see that," Nate said sternly, but then sighed, relenting. "You two will come stay at my place. We're temporarily suspending any cons, and we're not taking any new jobs, until you're both completely healed. Completely."
"Agreed," Elliot said immediately, and made as if to sit up. A sharp hiss of pain slipped past his lips, and Hardison gently lay his hands on his shoulders, easing him down softly.
"Whoa there," Hardison whispered, eyes meeting Elliot's. "Don't go getting ahead of yourself there. I'll chain you down to this hospital bed if you start getting yourself hurt again." Elliot held his gaze for a minute, then nodded, once. Neither man noticed the satisfied nod from Sophie, or the knowing glance she shot at Nate.
"I miss hitting things," Elliot groaned, laying his head back against the couch cushions.
"Well then you are going to love this," Hardison said with a grin, settling in next to Elliot and handing him a controller.
"What is this?" Elliot asked, staring at the device in confusion. Then Hardison turned the projector screen on, and Elliot's face literally lit up.
Parker came in thirty minutes later to find Elliot and Hardison on the couch, Elliot's fingers flying as he controlled the man on screen punching his way through a horde of thugs. "Cool game," she said, plopping down onto the nearest armchair.
"Hardison made it," Elliot said proudly, grinning as he completed another round.
"That was nice of him," Parker stated, arching back over the arm of the chair to look at Elliot and Hardison. "That's a cool way to say thank you for what you did. Not as cool as Jello though.
"Parker…" Elliot said warningly, biting his lip as he shook his head at her.
"What did he do?" Hardison interjected, turning from the game screen to meet Parker's gaze, putting a hand up to stop Elliot.
"Got shot beating up the guys who hurt you," Parker said matter-of-factly, grabbing a controller and restarting the game. "This is really fun."
Hardison snatched the controller from Parker's nimble fingers, and moved to stand in front of her. "Details, Parker."
"Parker, don't, please," Elliot said, voice serious, tone almost pleading, but Hardison held Parker's gaze.
"The mark found your van, and sent some thugs," Parker said softly. "They beat you up, gave you a concussion. Nate was coming up with a plan when Elliot-"
Elliot suddenly reached out a hand and grabbed Hardison's arm, pulling him into the nearest room and closing the door. He sat down on the bed, letting go of Hardison, refusing to meet his eyes. "Look, I got pissed ok? They hurt you, and I got pissed. So I tracked them down, and kicked the shit out of them. But I was a little…distracted, and one of them got the best of me. Only because he pulled out a gun, but still."
"You could have been killed," Hardison choked out, hand reaching out unconsciously to hover over the bandages still wrapped tightly around Elliot's side.
"Yeah, well, they hurt you," Elliot replied, eyes still on the floor. Hardison moved suddenly, taking advantage of Elliot's distraction, and grabbed his face, forcing his eyes upward.
"You can't ever do that again," Hardison whispered fiercely, hands clutching at Elliot's skin. "Ever again."
"You either," Elliot responded, a growling huskiness back in his voice as he grabbed Hardison's arms, controlling his flip onto the bed. Hardison lay on his back, looking up into Elliot's eyes. Suddenly Elliot lunged forward, smashing his lips into Hardison's. He pulled back just as suddenly, hovering above Hardison's body.
"Now that you should do again," Hardison whispered, and Elliot laughed, deep and low, before moving in for another kiss.