Warning: I wasn't planning on having Eliot make another appearance until the rescue, but he just wouldn't shut up and behave so I had to put this in. Warning for a minor torture scene. Nothing graphic, just people being generally rough on our boy. Really rough on him... So you have been warned.
A/N: Thanks so much for the reviews and the alerts and the following! You guys are awesome! Please keep letting me know how I'm doing. I am more than capable of screwing this up big time, so keep the feedback coming:) Please? Us Kaniacs have to stick together and all, right?
After three hours, the team had fallen into their roles easily, as if preparing for any other job. Nate had gotten all the information he could out of Alyssa, and while it wasn't as much as he would have liked, it was enough. He knew the where, the who, the number of the bad guys involved, and the layout. What he couldn't find out was the why. When he asked, it wasn't pretty.
Alyssa jumped from the couch, fire burning in her eyes. "I told you already! They were after me, and I went to Eliot for help, and then they had trank darts and we woke up there!" She paced for a moment, then turned back to Nate angrily. "Why doesn't matter! I've told you everything you need to know, so let's go get him out!" When no one moved or did anything but turn to Nate, she tensed her arms, hands in fists, and turned to throw a punch into the drywall, which Nate deflected at the last second.
"You need to do that, there's a punching bag downstairs. In fact, that seems like a good idea. You go beat the crap out of something and when we have a plan, we'll get you, brief you, and then we'll rescue Eliot."
She stared at him quizzically for a moment, then said softly, "How did you know I was going to do that?"
Nate shrugged, trying to hide a small smile. "It's exactly what Eliot would have done."
That got Hardison's attention. "You a hitter, too?"
She almost grinned at that. "Hitter? I like that… Is that what you call Eliot? A hitter?"
Hardison nodded. "Yeah."
She returned his nod. "Then yeah, I'm a hitter too."
"Good," said Nate. "Are you any good?"
She looked indignant, but understood the question. "Eliot taught me everything."
Hardison looked at Nate, then shrugged. "Then I'd say she's good."
Nate nodded. "Excellent. Because we're gonna need a hitter to rescue our hitter. Now, Eliot trains in the basement, second door over there. Go warm up, do what you like, don't break anything, either you or the equipment. I promise, we won't be much longer."
She studied him. "You make a lot of promises, Mr. Ford. You're gonna have to start delivering on them soon."
His voice softened. "Eliot trusts me, Alyssa. Up 'til now, it's been enough. Is it going to be enough this time?"
She considered it, looking him directly in the eye, gaze travelling to Hardison, Parker, Sophie, then back to Nate. "I guess so. For now." She turned and headed for the basement.
Blood trailed down Eliot Spencer's ribs from where the skin had split under the beating he had taken. Again. He had lost track of the number of separate beatings in the last two days. He pulled again at the handcuffs pinning his arms to the pipe over his head, leaving him not only trapped but vulnerable, unable to protect himself. The pain was bad enough, but he had been in this position before and it never ended well. He pulled even harder when a bucket of ice-cold water was splashed over him, shivering violently in the cold as he strained up on his toes to keep the pressure off his shoulders. A trademark Eliot Spencer snarl curled his lip as he looked on the familiar face of his tormentor. "Got a bit of a cliché' going on here, son," he said. "I've seen this in every bad movie ever made. What comes next? Gonna lay a battery charger to me? Or pull out my fingernails unless I talk? You're wasting your time, you know I won't talk."
The man was a good four inches taller than Eliot , but not as well built. In a fair fight, it would be no contest. Had been no contest, the last two times Eliot had taken him on. Apparently the guy had finally gotten smart. Eliot liked him better stupid. He shook his head, smiling. "No, while I do have a fondness for the classics, this isn't about making you talk, Eliot. No, I do know you well enough to know that no matter what I do to you, you'll never tell me where the girl went, will you?"
Eliot growled, hatred searing from his ice-blue eyes. "You'll never touch her again!"
The man laughed. "Oh, that's where you're wrong, and I think you know that. You're just trying to comfort yourself, that your martyr-stunt you pulled letting her escape actually was worth it. But you know she'll try to rescue you. You've been her hero far too long for her not to do the same stupid thing you would. So no, I'm not gonna try to make you tell me where she is. But she'll be back. And while you will be punished, severely, for attacking my guards and letting her get away, you will still be alive when she gets here. And conscious enough to watch her die." He raised a wicked-looking machete and turned to the small metal container on the table, lighting a fire. Eliot's eyes never left the blade as it began to glow red-hot.
Carefully controlling his expression, continuing his brutal glare, he silently thought "Please, Nate, keep her safe. Even if it means leaving me behind." He wished he had told Nate about the girl… Then all coherent thought left him as his world exploded in pain.
Sophie was on Nate in an instant. "You can't possibly be planning on bringing that child with us on this job? Let alone have her doing Eliot's job?" He didn't answer her. "Nate? You can't be serious, can you?"
Parker nodded. "I like her."
"Well, of course, you like her! She'd make an excellent playmate! But we're are talking about taking down people dangerous enough to take Eliot. With a girl who may or may not even drive yet!"
"She's not as young as you think, Sophie. I'd bet anything on it." Nate purposely didn't answer her question, as the answer was obvious even before she asked.
"I'd say maybe seventeen," Hardison put in. "Did she tell you how she knew Eliot? Maybe she's like… his long-lost daughter or something… If she's seventeen, then Eliot was eighteen or nineteen when she was born… it could work."
"Wasn't he in Croatia then?" Added Parker. "She doesn't look half-Croatian…"
"Do you even know what a half-Croatian looks like?"
"Nate?" Sophie repeated, begging him with her eyes. "Please don't do this…"
Nate finally turned to her. "Look, I don't like it either, but like it or not we need her. She knows exactly where he is being held, knows the layout of the place. She escaped it, remember. And She knew where Eliot would hide his medic bag, was willing to stitch up her own arm, threw a punch just like Eliot would and it hurt like hell when I blocked it. Wish I had just made her fix the wall like I do Eliot. And frankly, guys, for this job, we need someone and if we try to ditch her, she'll try to do it on her own and that's what Eliot was trying to avoid. If she'll go anyway, she might as well go with us. Understood?"
Parker nodded instantly, and Hardison a moment later. Sophie pursed her lips, grasping for something, anything, to argue with. But she had nothing. Nate was right, as usual. It was the most infuriating thing about the man. Finally she nodded. "Okay," he said. "Parker, go get the girl. Do not startle her, assume that would be as dangerous as startling Eliot, ok?" She headed for the basement. "And I still think she is way older than you guys think…"