Alright, here it is – the final chapter, the h/c part. Somehow I needed more time for this one than I thought, sorry I kept you waiting :-) Have fun reading and thanks again for staying with me that long. I do appreciate it.
Eliot didn't know how long he had been drifting in that dark place. He felt like he was trapped at the bottom of a deep lake, awareness simmering far away on the other side of the moving surface above him, too far away to reach. It was that place where the voices came from that were talking to him every now and then, familiar voices that were gentle and reassuring, and somehow he knew that they needed him to answer. It was impossible though, no matter how much he wanted to. The water weighed on him like a load, slowed his movements and muted every sound he tried to make.
Then there were hands, and he felt himself being moved, was aware of being carefully tugged back to lean against something soft. When the movement jostled his head, the blackness exploded into white hot pain, and for a moment that was all there was. He could hear somebody cry out then, possibly himself, and a hand clamped down on his wrist, keeping him from flailing. When the bright light hit his eyes – the left one first, then the right – he thought he was going to be sick, but by some divine intervention he wasn't. Groaning, he turned his head, squeezing his eyes shut, and when the blackness rose again, he allowed it to take over, welcoming the oblivion that came with it.
When he awoke again, the pain was almost gone. Somehow it had retreated into a small place in the back of his mind, where it had decreased into a mere throbbing. It was enough to irritate him, but nowhere close to the agony he had felt before. A part of him wanted to go back to sleep immediately, following his body's demand for rest and quiet. His survival instincts told him different though. Eliot tried to resist the urge of drifting off again, driven by the need to make sure that he was safe, that he had made it. - Made it where? His brows furrowed. He couldn't remember.
Blinking his eyes open, he found himself staring at a wooden ceiling. He was lying on a bed, he realized, his head cradled by a bunch of pillows, a soft blanket drawn up to his shoulders. It was a relief that the room wasn't spinning like he had expected. The last thing he wanted was to be sick again. Odd enough, this was no place he knew and it certainly was no hospital either, as it lacked the unpleasant smell of disinfectants and floor wax. This room actually smelled nice, kind of homey. And there was the unmistakable scent of whiskey. Something clicked into place. Nate.
Slowly he turned his head and sure enough the older man was sitting beside him, eyes fixed on a book, a strong drink in his hand. The bedside lamp was turned low, so it wouldn't disturb him. He would have looked almost relaxed if it hadn't been for the shadows beneath his eyes that bespoke a sleepless night. When he noticed that Eliot had come to, he set the glass aside.
"Hey," he said quietly. "Glad to see you awake again."
Nate pushed himself up to move the chair a little closer to the bed, and Eliot could feel his eyes resting on him, taking in every detail. The concerned expression on his face bothered him as much as it irritated him. He resisted the urge to voice it, though.
"Hey..." His voice was hoarse and sounded as if he hadn't spoken in ages. Eliot swallowed with some difficulty before he continued. "Where's this place?"
"Safe house in Medford, a little off the road," Nate explained calmly, deliberately keeping his voice low. "We didn't want to drive across half the state with you being still unconscious. Seems you're lucky, though. No internal bleeding, just some bruises and a concussion." He paused, then corrected himself. "A nasty concussion, it seems."
Eliot huffed. "I half expected to wake up in a hospital."
Nate raised his eyebrows. "You almost did. But when the CT scan came up clean, we decided to move you to a place a little more comfortable - and a little safer."
Nate didn't have to elaborate on the last point. If someone was coming after them, it was likely that they'd check the hospitals first, knowing that one of them had been injured. Eliot watched as a shadow flitted across Nate's face and he didn't have any difficulties to figure out the thought that had just crossed the other man's mind. Hospitals were always hard on him.
"I thought you would. Do you remember what happened?"
Eliot was about to nod but stopped himself right in time. No need to awaken the sleeping pain. He settled for a verbal response instead.
"One of Carpenter's goons hit me in the head." He reached up to examine the bandage on his head, flinching when he touched an especially sensitive spot. "With a fire extinguisher, as I am told. Seems like you got me out of there. I'm mighty grateful for that."
He allowed his eyes to close for a moment, trying to collect his thoughts. Somehow he was having trouble concentrating. There was something he needed to know about. Something important.
He frowned, trying to word his question, but Nate interrupted him.
"Don't worry about that. We've got things taken care of."
Eliot looked up, confused. He distinctly recalled Parker telling him that the disc was lost.
Nate's smile was genuine now.
"Sophie stole it from Carpenter when she was in his office impersonating an IRS agent. It's a longer story."
"I can imagine." Eliot let the new information sink in. "So, we got him?"
That was good. Actually, that was all he had been wanting to hear. Relieved, he shifted under the covers, trying to find a position which was a little easier on his sore muscles and he winced when the movement caused him pain. Suddenly he was uncomfortably aware of Nate's gaze resting on him.
"What?" he growled.
There was a short silence, and he had the impression that Nate was carefully wording his answer.
"There are some pain meds on the nightstand, if you want any. Nothing strong, just Tylenol. It might help though."
Eliot had to admit that it was a reasonable suggestion. The analgesic was mild enough not to cloud his mind and it would take the edge of the pain, allowing him to get some real sleep. He sighed his approval.
He struggled to sit up, wincing when agony flared up behind his eyes. The arm that caught him around his shoulders was welcome for once.
"Take it easy, okay?" Somehow Nate sounded awfully far away.
The room seesawed and Eliot briefly closed his eyes. When he opened them again, he was looking at Nate's open palm holding two white pills in it. He reached for them with a shaking hand. Then a glass of water appeared in his vision.
"Thanks," he rasped.
The cool liquid felt nice against his parched throat, although it almost took him an eternity to finish it. When he did, his view was blurring and he squeezed his eyes shut, taking a deep breath.
He swallowed, fighting down the sudden wave of nausea. It didn't take long until Nate had figured out what was wrong.
"Come on, lie down."
His voice was nothing but gentle and Eliot felt the arm around him tighten, as the other man slowly urged him back down. It was bliss when he could feel the pillows beneath his head again and Eliot just lay still, grateful when he noticed that the sickness was slowly starting to ebb away. When he felt a hand on his arm, he turned his head to look at Nate's face swimming before him. He didn't like the look of worry on his face, but he had to admit that it was probably justified. He blinked and the blurriness retreated a bit.
Eliot could feel himself drifting. "Yeah..."
"You sure? You look pale as a sheet."
He managed a wan smile. "I'll be fine."
Eliot frowned when the worried expression deepened on the other man's face.
"Listen, Nate. T'is not the first time I got a concussion. Probably won't be the last time either. I ain't gonna lie to you – I'm not feeling too great right now. And, hell yeah, my head hurts. But it'll pass. Just let me sleep it off and I'll be fine."
Nate held his gaze, pondering the response. Eliot could see his mind working and he could tell that he didn't entirely believe his words, probably didn't have any problems seeing through the understatement. However, Nate just gave a short nod.
"Alright," he resolved, "Get some sleep. We'll talk again tomorrow."
Eliot allowed his eyes to drift shut, but even with his eyes closed, he could still feel Nate's gaze weigh on him. It was annoying.
"You gonna keep on sitting there?"
"Actually... yeah, that's what I's planning to do."
Eliot hesitated, considering to argue about it, and then found he was too tired to do so. It wouldn't be much use anyway. The doctors at hospital had most likely advised the others to keep a close look on him for next couple of days. It wasn't like he didn't know the drill.
"Fine," he replied, defeated. "But you don't have to."
"Just get some rest," Nate said, lightly touching the other man's arm. The armchair squealed at the movement.
There was silence for a moment, and when Eliot heard the soft rustle of pages, he knew that Nate had resumed to reading his book. Suddenly, his body felt heavy with fatigue, the exertions taking their toll, and he tried to relax in spite of the throbbing behind his eyes. Maybe it was the painkillers taking effect, as he found that it didn't bother him as much as before. Sleep would come easy now.
Drowsily, he allowed his thoughts to wander and it occurred to him that Nate hadn't even asked him what exactly had gone wrong down there at the sublevels, how it had been possible that the hitter had gone down like that. Maybe Parker had already told him. It just didn't seem much like Nate not to ask for a second version. Beside him, he heard the soft clink of glass touching glass, followed by the sound of a liquid being poured. So Nate was drinking again. Eliot tried to think on the implication, sensing that it held the answer to his question, but it kept on slipping away, as sleep was already pulling him under. Very well then. He could still think about it tomorrow. Now it was time to rest, and he knew that he needed it.
- the end -
Okay, that's it – my first leverage fic is finished. I hope you had as much fun as I did. Let me know if you liked it :)