Eliot jumped at the sound of a knock on his door. He frowned at the reaction because any intruder wouldn't knock first. Hell, pretty much the entire team didn't when they visited. He didn't know if Nate knocked because Nate had never been to Eliot's place.
He opened the door, and Sophie smiled at him as she slipped inside.
He bolted the door as he said, "Should have been expecting you."
"Well, I would have just let myself in, but I was worried that you might snap my neck on accident." She perched on one of the bar stools at his kitchen counter.
"I look that rattled?"
"No, but you are." She fixed a look on him that made him shift his feet and duck his head.
"Go ahead, ask."
"Will I get an answer?"
He grinned and shook his head. "Of course, darling."
She raised an eyebrow in response. He moved to the other side of the counter and pulled two beers out of the refrigerator, opening one before sliding it across to her. She wrapped her fingers around it, picking at the loose label with a perfectly-shaped nail.
"Is Hardison doing okay?"
Her eyes locked onto his as she shrugged. "He's still furious with you, but Nate's keeping him focused on the job."
He clenched his fist, an action that didn't escape her notice, and he took a long swallow of his beer. He watched the foam crawl up the neck of the bottle.
"I was counting." He looked up at her, knowing he was pleading for her to understand. "I wasn't going to let him die. I counted every second."
She leaned forward and stretched her hand across the granite countertop until it was a few inches away from his fist. "I know that, and so does Hardison."
"Really? Because I'm pretty sure he thought I went over the line."
"He hasn't walked away, which means he still trusts you. He is very angry and upset, though." She licked her lips and took a dainty sip of her beer. "I was a little surprised that you took Hardison."
"Instead of you?" He laughed when she didn't answer. "Ain't my call. You'll have to take that up with Nate."
She smiled at that, and they lapsed into silence; he drained most of his beer before she spoke again.
"How exactly were you planning on keeping us from taking on Moreau?"
"Thought about handling it myself."
"Why didn't you?"
He drank some more before muttering, "Afraid to."
"He would have killed you."
Her matter-of-fact tone wasn't what he expected, but he didn't comment; it did look like he wasn't the only one with dead bodies in the closet.
"But he let you walk away once."
He really didn't like her less-than-subtle digging, but he felt unable to keep silent. Maybe it was the day's events or the fact that he trusted Sophie, which was a pretty frightening thought.
"It was a mutual agreement. Moreau has done some really bad stuff, but he don't make you stay if you want to go. I was done doing what he wanted, and I got the hell out."
He finished his beer and grabbed another from the fridge. He felt her gaze on him as he twisted the top off and took a long swallow; nervous anticipation at her next question clawed at his intestines.
"What did you do for him that was so awful?"
"I ain't going to tell you that."
He bit the words out before he really processed the question, his first instincts flaring to life and urging him to lash out. Her expression was untroubled; she was goddamn waiting, like eventually he would give her an answer.
He just might if she stuck around long enough.
He narrowed his eyes and looked at her dead-on. "You don't got a right to know that."
"I know." She sighed, tilted her head as she pulled at her bottle's unraveling label. "I just thought that maybe talking about it…"
"Some things don't need to be discussed."
"Would help you sort through the issues you have with Moreau," she continued on like she never heard his interruption.
"Ain't going to change that we still have to take Moreau out."
She pushed her beer to the side and leaned forward. "I know you don't like the situation, Eliot, but I can promise you that no one on the team does. We have that horrid Italian woman breathing down our necks, and to be honest, I'd much rather take Moreau head on than hide in a corner and wait for her to finish us off."
He could see her irritation bubbling to the surface. He just nudged her bottle back along the counter until she could close her fingers around it.
"My job is to protect you. Keep all of you safe. And, no matter what, I'm going to do that. No matter what it takes."
"What will that cost you?"
"Don't matter, sweetheart. It's my job, the job I chose."
"You're not just a hitter."
"Sophie, that ain't the point."
He gave her a tired smile and was surprised to see that her eyes were shining with tears. They sat in the silence for awhile. She finally finished her beer, and he dumped the empties into his recycling bin.
She reached across the counter and grabbed his hand, squeezing it between her trembling fingers so tightly. The touch only lasted a moment before she let go, scrambling off the stool, muttering about how late it was.
He tried to smile at her, but the muscles refused to work, exhausted after a long day and the heavy burden of secrets he had only resettled on his shoulders. Then, she was gone, and he was left standing in the dark kitchen, fingers clutching to his bottle of beer.