A/N: Warning! This story contains abuse, if you are easily triggered or have been abused before I suggest that you do not read it.
Looking back now Hardison had to wonder how they had missed it. All the signs were there; it was a perfect textbook example. He supposed that they hadn't wanted to believe it; hadn't wanted to think that one of their heroes, the man who had been like a dad to them, was capable of doing such a horrible thing. It started not long after they got back from wherever that little backwater country was where Damien Monroe had gone. It had been little things at first, a couple of bruises nothing unusual. But flinching whenever Nate walked by? Yeah that had definitely been strange especially since it was Eliot. Eliot never flinched, not even when he got shot.
Hardison had almost forgotten about the flinch when something happened that brought things to a climax. He and Parker had stayed late one night, playing Monopoly in his office when suddenly Eliot burst in. There was a fresh bruise on his cheek and his lip had been split open. Before Hardison could ask what was going on Eliot grabbed him and Parker by the arms and dragged them to Eliot's office. Once there Eliot moved aside the filing cabinets and pressed a spot on the wall. The panel slid up revealing a small hole big enough for the two youngest members of the team to fit through. He shoved Parker in who, for once, didn't ask stupid questions then Hardison felt himself getting shoved in. He braced his hand against the wall, preventing Eliot from pushing him in and turned to ask a question when the door to the office flew open. Nate stepped in, obviously very, very drunk.
"What're you doing?" Nate slurred.
"None of your business," Eliot growled.
In response Nate hit Eliot, knocking the younger man over with a thud.
Hardison's eyes were wide in both shock and fear. Had Nate really knocked Eliot to the ground without Eliot hitting back? It occurred to Hardison right then that something was very, very wrong. As Nate kicked Eliot in the ribs again and again Hardison suddenly felt scared; something he hadn't felt in a long time. Eliot rolled over and looked at him, his eyes telling Hardison what to do. Hardison was about to get out and knock Nate wall-eyed but Eliot shook his head. He was mouthing "Parker" and inclining his head. Hardison turned around and saw Parker huddled in the corner, shaking as she hugged herself. Hardison's shoulders slumped and he finally nodded. After crawling into the tiny room he pulled the panel down and minutes later heard the sound of the filing cabinet being shoved in front of the door.
Focusing his attention on one thing and one thing only Hardison wrapped his arms around Parker and began trying to soothe her. "Shh," he whispered. "Eliot won't let anybody hurt us, you know that."
"But he's getting hurt," she whispered.
"Because that's what he does."
"That's a stupid reason," she muttered and Hardison was inclined to agree with her.
Hardison had no idea how long they waited there, listening anxiously for any sound. Parker was almost asleep when the sound of the filing cabinet being moved caught their attention. They straightened and Parker huddled close to Hardison who wrapped his arms tighter around her, determined to protect her at all costs. Relief filled them when Eliot's face appeared and he made a "come here" motion with his finger. They crawled out of the tiny room and Hardison opened his mouth to ask questions but Eliot held up a hand, silencing him. "I'm leaving," he said. "You guys can come with me or you can stay here. Your choice."
"We're coming," Hardison said after exchanging glances with Parker.
Eliot nodded. "Grab the stuff out of your offices that you can't live without. You have ten minutes."
It took less than ten minutes for the two of them to pack what they considered important although Hardison did bemoan the loss of his computer despite the fact that he had downloaded all of the information from it onto a Flash Drive. After they had gone downstairs Eliot ordered them to go to wherever they lived and pack what they needed. They had one hour and then they were to meet him at his apartment. Not knowing where they would be going or how long it would take to get there Hardison decided to pack only the really important stuff. All the information from all of his computers was downloaded and transferred to his laptop which was packed. Next went in some jeans, shorts, jackets, t-shirts, socks (his Nana had always said that you could never have too many socks), and some pictures. He hesitated over one of the photo albums however because it had pictures of Nate in it and after what he had seen tonight he wasn't too sure that he wanted to remember him. After an internal debate he finally packed it, deciding that he could always cut Nate out.
When he arrived at Eliot's apartment it was to find Parker already there and Eliot's truck loaded. "You're bringing all of that?" Eliot asked; looking dubiously at the seven bags Hardison had dumped onto the ground.
"Hey," Hardison said. "I had no idea where we would be going so I had to pack for all types of weather. I mean, suppose we go somewhere where it's snowing? I need my jackets and gloves for that and if we go to the beach then I need my shorts and…"
"Okay," Eliot sighed. "Just…shut up and help me load the truck." In the end Eliot wound up loading the truck by himself as Hardison claimed that he had sprained his arm earlier. Once the truck was loaded Eliot said, "Get in," in that particular tone that meant 'do as I say or die'.
"What about Sophie?" Parker asked suddenly as she was getting into the truck.
"Yeah what about her?" Hardison chimed in. "We can't just leave her."
"She made her decision," Eliot finally said after a few minutes. "She decided to stay. She loves him too much to ever leave him."
"Even after what he did?" Parker asked softly.
Eliot nodded. "She thinks she can change him. I told her it wouldn't do any good but she said that she had to try. I did tell her to call me if she ever left."
"She won't," Hardison said.
They stood there for a few minutes, feeling slightly lost. The man that they had loved like a father had been beating Eliot up and the woman that had become their mother wasn't coming with them. For just a moment Hardison wanted to cry then he looked at Eliot and Parker who were standing around the truck as well. Suddenly Hardison didn't feel so abandoned anymore, knowing that Eliot would look after them and protect them no matter what.
Eliot finally moved and climbed into the truck and waited until they were in as well before he cranked the engine. After making sure that their seatbelts were buckled he backed out of the parking lot and headed for the interstate. Hardison didn't know where they were going but as long as he was with Eliot and Parker anywhere would be home.
A/N/N: This is my first Leverage story. Please let me know what you think.
A/N/N/N: I know that Nate seems a little out of character but drunks do lose their heads and become completely different people when they've had too much to drink. If Eliot allowing Nate to beat him also seems out of character then just let me remind that abused people sometimes forget that they're stronger than their abuser and allow fear to control them.
A/N/N/N/N: For those of you out there that are being abused or if you know someone is please remember that you are not alone. There are millions of people out there who are going through the exact same thing. I would suggest that you call the Abuse Victim Hotline (1-877-448-8678)