A/N: Wow, here finally comes an update. I know it has been a long time since I updated any of my stories *sighs sadly* and it's probably not the story most of you wait for... but at least it's an update *smiles sheepishly* but I'm really working on the new In the Darkness chapter, but I want it to be as good as possible *grins*
And I really hope you enjoy the new chapter, no matter if it's a little short *hopeful smile*
Comments would be most appreciated *puppy dog eyes*
Thank you to TheNaggingCube, R3G3, Shingalala, McCoy's Secret Lover, Eldritch Fire, Yammy1983, fro-chan, Jesco123 and Kittendragon for all your kind words for the last chapter *hugs you all*
Warnings: This story is totally AU, because Sam is alive in the story and so the team coming together will be under a little different circumstances, which will be explained throughout the story
Disclainer: None of the Leverage characters belong to me and I just borrowed them for this little story... this story doesn't mean to offend anybody… this is just for fun… and not for money either...
It had been twenty minutes since the doctors and nurses had ushered Nate and Sterling out of the room and Nate and Sterling were getting really worried. None of them said a word and the nurses that rushed in and out of the room barely spared them a glance, let alone answered any of their questions. They also prevented them from looking into the room.
Sterling was still pacing the hallway in agitation while Nate was too paralyzed with worry and fear to move at all. He knew that he should move, do something, call the others and let them know what was happening here, but Nate just couldn't bring himself to do anything of that. He was afraid that if he moved, something terrible was going to happen and that he wouldn't be here when the doctors were finally ready to tell them something.
Nate glanced at Sterling, his eyes the only part of his body that was ready to move. The other man really seemed concerned, a concept that Nate had never before associated with Jim. But just seeing his former colleague so agitated and worried started to convince the mastermind that Sterling had actually told the truth and that he really cared about Eliot, no matter how improbable that had seemed mere hours ago.
"You really worry about him, don't you?" he questioned, even though it wasn't a real question but more of a statement. Sterling simply snorted.
"Is that so hard to believe?" he wanted to know. Nate just looked at him incredulously at that.
"Kind of," he gave back.
Jim leaned against the wall and looked at Nate, running a hand over his face warily.
"By now you should really know that I'm really good at hiding things. And Eliot never told you about this, because he wanted to keep the team intact, especially in the beginning," Sterling explained softly and Nathan had to admit that that sounded like a perfectly reasonable explanation. The team's dynamic had been very fragile, especially when they had first gotten together and if Eliot had told them that he and Sterling had a friendly past, then that wouldn't have gone over well.
He wanted to ask more about that shared past between Eliot and Sterling, because that would give him a much needed distraction, but then the door to Eliot's hospital room opened again and this time a doctor walked out slowly, coming towards them, a grim expression on his face. Jim and Nate looked at each other, an uneasy feeling settling in their stomach. Nate ran a hand through his hair and gulped nervously. It didn't help when the doctor slowly shook his head and lowered his eyes, before he said that one sentence that pulled the floor from under Nate's feet.
"I'm sorry, but there is nothing we could do. Eliot is dead."
For a moment there was stunned silence between the three men, before Nate asked, no matter how stupid the question was: "What do you mean dead?"
Nate stared at the doctor in shock and Sterling seemed to be speechless for once.
The doctor looked sadly back and forth between the two men and after a short hesitation he put a hand on Nate's shoulder. Of course the doctor had seen how much Nate cared about Eliot and he generally hated to be the bearer of bad news.
"I'm really sorry, Mr. Ford, we did everything we could but in the end the damage to his lungs was just too severe and they collapsed. And there was nothing we could do to prevent that," he explained, hating how clinical he sounded, but as a doctor he knew how important that was to net get too attached to his patients and their friends and family or he'd never be able to do his job.
Nate just blinked and stared first at the hand on his shoulder and then at the face of the doctor. His whole body was tense and the mastermind just couldn't believe what the doctor had just told them.
Eliot couldn't be dead... Eliot Spencer was invincible.
But deep down Nate knew, that Eliot was everything and a lot of things, but invincible unfortunately wasn't one of that things, no matter how much he had seemed to be sometimes. Nate still had no idea what to say or what to do. The world around him seemed to have stopped, narrowed down to that one little fact, that seemed unimportant for most of the world, but it was the most important thing to Nate right now: Eliot was dead...
"Do you want one of the nurses to call someone?"
The doctor's words snapped Nate out of his trance a little and he shook his head wildly.
"I'll... I'll do that myself," Nate started and then he buried his head in his hands, before looking at Sterling, not sure why, but he just did.
"God... how am I going to tell them?" he murmured, closing his eyes, hoping against hope that in a few seconds he'd wake up in the uncomfortable plastic chair beside Eliot's bed and the hitter would still be alive.
A hand on his shoulder, different from the one before, stopped Nate from panicking completely. Sterling looked at him and Nate was surprised and almost shocked to see the grief on Jim's face and the unshed tears in his former colleagues eyes.
"Do you want me to call Maggie? Maybe she can tell the others," Sterling questioned and he might as well just have started speaking in an alien language, because that would have gotten the same kind of reaction from Nate... total disbelief.
Nate would never really have imagined that Jim Sterling could really care about one of his team so much. And yet, here he was, looking as broken up by Eliot's death as Nate did and trying to offer honest comfort, no matter what had happened between them.
And surprisingly that somehow helped Nate to focus for the time being.
"Thanks for the offer," he started, no matter that it was a little hard to say "thank you" to Sterling and then he continued: "But no, I'll call them and tell them myself. I owe as much to them... and I owe as much to Eliot."
Nate hesitated for another second and then he said with a small, sad smile: "And from what I gathered earlier, and if you were telling the truth, you have your own important phone call to make."
Sterling simply nodded and then he turned to the doctor.
"Can we... can we go and see Eliot?" he asked, his voice wavering a little and Nate looked at Jim in surprise. He hadn't even thought to ask about this, but he also wanted an answer to this question.
A weird expression crossed the doctor's face for a second and then he shook his head slowly.
"Not right now, maybe later... but believe me, the way he looks right now... that's not the way you want to remember Eliot," the doctor told them and Nate really wasn't sure what to think about that. But then again, maybe the doctor was right.
"But we can see him later, right?" he questioned, because he really wanted to say goodbye to Eliot. And he was pretty sure that the crew would want to say goodbye too.
The doctor had a small smile on his face and nodded without hesitation.
"Of course you can, Mr. Ford," he agreed.
"We'll let you know as soon as we're ready," he added, before sighing a little.
"And now you really need to excuse me, I have other patients to look after," he said and Nate and Sterling nodded in understanding.
"Of course, doctor, please let us know as soon as we can see Eliot," Sterling said and the doctor nodded and then he walked away to leave the two men alone with their grief.
Nate and Sterling watched him go and then Jim turned to Nate.
"Maybe we should make those calls now and then meet here afterward?" he suggested and added, when he saw the confused look on Nate's face.
"Right now I'm not your enemy. I'm here for Eliot, just like you are and you won't be greeted by FBI as soon as you're all here. I promise on my daughter's life," he explained and Nate, still a little in shock about the news, found himself believing the other man.
"I trust you, don't make me regret it," he demanded, even though there was also a little pleading in his voice and Jim gave him a rare, honest smile.
"I won't," he promised and again Nate found out that he believed Sterling. And then he straightened his shoulders, his face a mask of grief and sorrow, but still he held himself together.
"I'm going to make some calls. I'll see you later," Nate whispered and then he walked away from the room Eliot still was in, to make some of the hardest phone calls of his life...
Jim Sterling watched Nate walk away and his expression changed a little from grief to guilt.
"Believe it or not, Nate, but I'm really sorry about all of this. It needs to be done, however, for your safety and the safety of your team," he murmured and ran a hand through his short hair for a second. Then he slowly turned around and walked into the opposite direction from Nate.
He walked directly into a private wing of the hospital, where only authorized personnel was allowed and Sterling had to endure a retina scan, a fingerprint scanner and enter a security code before he had access to that wing.
Sterling sighed again when he stopped in front of a single room.
In front of the door stood two guards and one greeted Sterling with a slight nod, while the other gave a small salute.
"Everything is as requested, Mr. Sterling," the man informed and Jim nodded, feeling a little tired all of a sudden. He stepped closer to the door and looked through the small window in it. Inside the room two nurses were bustling around and a doctor, the same doctor that had told Nate and Sterling that Eliot was dead only a few minutes earlier, was checking vitals, nodding with a satisfied expression on his face.
Jim closed his eyes for a second and then he focused on the bed, where a pale figure with shoulder long brown hair lay, hooked up to all sorts of machines, but clearly not in a coma, just in a deep, healing sleep instead. Sterling let his eyes linger for a second, especially on the vitals that clearly showed that the patient was awake.
And then he turned away from the door with a grim expression on his face and one thought running through his mind.
/I just hope that you know what you're doing and that this whole thing won't backfire on you, Eliot./
to be continued...