A Broken Man.

Summary. . . . . . . . . How do you break a man, when pain is an everyday occurrence and can be controlled? Eliot and the team are about to find out, when an easy con turns out to be anything but.

Disclaimer. . . . . . . . Not mine, no money is being made; I'm just testing the waters of a new fandom.

A.N. . . . . . . . . . . Thanks to everyone who has read this story, reviewed this story, or added this story to their favorites list; to know that someone out there is reading you work, is the biggest motivation in the world. Peanut x x

Epilogue. . . .

It took longer than any of them thought it would; took longer than any of them would have liked. Parker and Hardison had imagined that Eliot, after his first talk with Nate, would bounce back as he always did. Hell even Nate had been cautiously optimistic, only Sophie expressing doubts; doubts that turned out to be true. Eliot had tried, he really had, but too many old wounds had been ripped open, and too many new ones created both mentally and physically, wounds that stubbornly refused to heal.

Each and every day was a test, each and every day they waited patiently to see how he would be; would he be calm and cool and almost back to the Eliot they loved; would he be angry and hurt and filled with a rage they had never before bore witness to; or would he be the one they hated the most, sullen and timid and scared.

They learnt to give him his space, to allow him even more time alone, to patiently wait whilst he sorted out his emotions and place a mask upon his face, a mask they hated and wished they would never see again. Each night they all crept into their own beds, each praying that the new morning would bring with it and old Eliot.

After a month of too much molly coddling, too much mother henning, he had insisted he be allowed to return to one of his safe houses, insisted he knew best how to break through the funk that shrouded him, the others reluctantly relenting only after he told them where the house was, what defenses he had installed, and even then only after he promised to allow one of them in every morning. Although he hated the rules he agreed, the need to try and get back to normal consuming him, and if getting that normalcy back meant losing a tiny shred of privacy then he could live with that.

The rest of the team all had their concerns though, all managed to find themselves at some point or another invading that privacy even more; Parker slinking her way into his air ducts; Hardison installing hidden security camera's; Nate and Sophie, more upfront, just plain knocking on his door insisting they were just in the area, and just happened to have an extra portion of food with them; Eliot at first putting up with it, knowing it was just their way of showing he was not alone anymore, knowing they were just scared too. Eventually though it got too much, eventually he snapped, eventually he stole away, eventually he realized, he needed to be alone, he needed to be completely alone, no camera's, no phone's, no team.

Packing up meager belongings, he fled into the night, Parker finding the note he had left the next morning; a note that pleaded with them to respect his wishes and not to follow him. He insisted he would be safe, insisted he would be back, insisted he would check in every day, twice a day. He told them he had taken a tracking device with him, promised he would keep it on him at all times, but pleaded that they try and not follow him, but allowed him to recover, to heal, the best way he knew how.

They, of course, hated the idea, wanted to follow him, to bring him back; hated the idea that once again he was apart from them and hurting, but in the end they respected his wishes and allowed him his time and space; each of them waiting in anticipation for his check in time to come around. As the days passed that anticipation gradually grew less and less, until their days once more became normal, so that when the time came that Eliot missed a check in, it was a few hours before they remembered.

They panicked once they did remember though, all talking at once, all blaming each other for forgetting until Parker remembered the tracker, and all eyes turned to the big screen as Hardison tried to locate their missing hitter; all eyes opening wide as the screen came to life and the red dot that indicated where Eliot was, was clustered together with their own, and a gravelly voice spoke softly from behind them, "I see something's never change," before it's owner was engulfed.

Later that night found Eliot in the small kitchen with only Nate for company, a tumbler of whiskey before each of them, a serene quiet between them, a quiet that was broken when Nate finally asked the questions they had all been wondering.

"Have you chased away your demons? Are you Eliot again?"

Eliot thought long and hard before answering, drowning most of his glasses contents before replying. "No! I don't think I'll ever lose them. I don't think I have been Eliot for a very long time. But I'm okay with that, I'm becoming happy with who I am again and that's all that matters."

Nate looked as if he was going to ask more, looked as if he needed to ask more, but in the end he chose to instead raise his glass and tilt it towards the younger man, and action that was soon repeated, a small chink of china sounding out.

"To Eliot, to the team, to what the future may bring."

The End.

A.N. . . . . . . . . . . Well what can I say? I'm actually sad to see this one finish! I'm sorry it took so long to complete, getting through my first Christmas without my Mum was harder than I thought it was going to be, but I hope it was worth it. Catch you soon, Peanut x x