Summary: It's at night, when all's quiet and still, when he's trying to clear his mind to get the sleep his body tells him he needs, that they come. The ghosts of the people he's killed. Based on what Eliot said in 4.11 "The Experimental Job."

How awesome is it that I write a story with Eliot and homeless people, and then the next episode after that has ta-da! Eliot with homeless people? Poesie is mucho awesome. That's right. ;D Okay, I'm done congratulating myself on my psychic connection with the writers of Leverage.

Title is a line from The Waste Land, by T. S. Eliot. It was used in the episode (the poem Hardison and his "buddies" have to memorize).


A Heap of Broken Images

It starts with exhaustion. He's used to that. On the job, and a few hours after, he's usually so wired up that he can't fall asleep. When the adrenaline fades away, the fatigue closes in, and he goes and lies down on his bed for his requisite ninety minutes. Some nights he can sleep, and others he can't.

This is one of those nights.

They won't let him sleep, won't let him rest. It's at night, when all's quiet and still, when he's trying to clear his mind to get the sleep his body tells him he needs, that they come. The ghosts of the people he's killed, each and every one of them, one by one, all of them together.

The man had asked him, Do you keep count? How many have you killed? What's the count?

He doesn't have to count. He knows. They're always there.

In the day, they're there, always, always there, hovering around the edge of his vision, but at night, they come, they appear before him, and look at him with their dead eyes, wordlessly asking him, Why? Why did you kill me? Why is my blood on your hands?

Some of them are (no, were, they're dead, they're dead, dead, dead, gone) soldiers, who died for their country, died for their people, died for their rights. They were willing to fight, willing to die, but not ready to die, and they needn't have, no, not most of them. But he had killed (or would have been killed), and he'd done his duty, for his country, for his people, for their rights.

No, they're not the ones whose questioning, knowing, accusing eyes are the worst.

Nor is it the silent glares of the people like him - killers, assassins, hired muscle - who he has killed. They'd all known what they were getting into. They'd known the risks. It was kill or be killed, and he had killed. Some of them deserved it. Many of them. Most of them. Just like he does. Someday, someday, someone will kill him, and he'll deserve it. Someday, but not today, no not today. He's not done paying yet. Not nearly.

Is it the women's sad eyes that hurt the most? The innocent bystanders'? The children.

The children. Boys, not much older than sixteen, some as young as eight. They had guns. Guns too big for them, guns designed to be held, to be shot by grown men, to shoot men. Not children. They're too young. But they had guns. Kill or be killed. He'd made his choice.

They look at him, silent, sad eyes accusing, hating, so scared, so petrified of what would happen if they didn't pull that trigger. So he'd pulled it for them. They stand there in front of him, behind his eyelids squeezed shut, in the darkness of the night, and they ask him, Why?

Every night, they come. Every night, they're there. Every day, he sees them. And they ask him, Why?

Some nights, he answers them, I had to. They told me to. If I hadn't, it would be me asking you why, why, why. Others, he can't lie, he can't lie to them. Other nights, he doesn't have an answer.

Why? they ask.

You tell me, he replies, turning over on his side. I don't know anymore.


AN: I hadn't read T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land before, but there's a section of it called A Game of Chess. I guess that's why the writers chose this particular poem of his, huh?