I don't own Leverage. This has been working itself out in my head since The Radio Job. Spoilers for that if you haven't seen it.

For almost four days after his father died in that warehouse, Nate didn't speak a word. When it first happened, the team was so focused on getting him to safety that they didn't notice. Eliot was the first one to notice Nate's silence; he was checking him over upstairs at his apartment for damage caused by being too close to the explosion. He was asking him questions and getting no answers. For a few seconds, he thought maybe Nate couldn't hear him. He knew all too well how close proximity to a bomb detonation could effect hearing. But Nate quite clearly could hear him, because he looked right at him and nodded yes or no. But he wouldn't talk.

When Eliot had satisfied himself that most of the damage was only messy, not actually dangerous, he went and found Sophie, who was currently sitting at Nate's kitchen table, staring off into space. Eliot had to call her name twice before she looked at him. "Damage?"

Eliot shook his head. "Superficial. Other than the fact that he needs to wash out his ears so the blood doesn't congeal, he should be okay. He might be dizzy for a couple of days but as long as he's not falling over it's alright. He's got a few scrapes on his chest and stomach from the splinters that were flying around, but as long as he puts some antibiotic ointment on them they'll heal up. But that isn't the damage I'm worried about Sophie." She continued to watch him. He went on. "He wouldn't talk to me. I know he heard me, he even nodded to answer my questions, but he wouldn't say anything. Not one word. Considering how much he usually talks that's not a good sign. He needs to be watched."

"I'm not going anywhere." She hesitated for a second and then said "I want you guys to stay away for a few days. I need..." She dropped her eyes and stared at the table. She took a deep breath and continued "I need you guys to let me do this. Let me take care of him. If you guys are here he'll keep trying to pretend that everything's okay, because he doesn't want you to see him as being vulnerable. But maybe he can trust me enough." For once, there wasn't much confidence in Sophie's voice.

Eliot walked over and sat down beside her, pulling her into a hug. She rested her head on his shoulder and tried not to cry. All the work she'd done to try to help fix the damage to Nate, and now this. For all she knew the man upstairs in that bed might be an exact replica of the one she'd found that first year on this team. Funny, intelligent... and as close to being dead as a person could get emotionally.

"Love sucks, huh?" Eliot rested his chin on her head. She didn't say anything, but nodded against his chest. "Sophie, if you need us, tell me you'll call."

"I'll call."

"Are you lying?" He looked at her.

"I have absolutely no idea. I guess we'll find out if I need you guys." She pulled away, dragging a hand through her hair. "I'm going up to see him. You need to go home and find some ice packs. As it is I bet you'll be peeing blood for a week." He tilted his head and gave her a weird look, and she shrugged. "I heard them hitting you. And you walk like you wish you could forget your lower back exists."

He nodded. "I'll keep the others away."

Sophie walked into Nate's room. He was lying flat on his back on the bed, staring at the ceiling. She said his name softly. He didn't move aside from a shifting of his eyes toward her. "Come on," she said softly, tugging on his hand. "You need a shower."

He tried to stand up off of the bed and nearly did a face plant onto the floor. She quickly pushed him backward. Then she stood there for a minute, thinking. How the hell was he going to stand up for a shower if he was that dizzy? Sure, she could get him in there, and it wouldn't be the first time she'd washed his body (despite her attempts to stop it, she couldn't help her body's response thinking about the last time they'd had sex in the shower). But she couldn't hold him up and wash him at the same time. Finally, she remembered that there was a folding plastic stool in Nate's closet. She got it and set it up in the tub and then stood him up, keeping hold of him this time and draping an arm around his waist. She led him in and sat him in the tub and then stripped herself, figuring that if she was going to get wet washing him, she might as well shower at the same time.

He watched her undress, but the desire that was usually in his eyes at the sight was missing. She tried not to let it hurt, but she couldn't help it. So she acknowledged the fact and got on with what needed to be done.

He winced a bit when the warm water hit the scrapes on his chest. There were some on his back as well, from when he'd hit the ground. She did her best to be gentle while she was washing him with a cloth but she wanted to make sure they didn't get infected. Lord knew his immune system couldn't have been the greatest, with all the alcohol he'd put in it. Suddenly she smiled out of nowhere. He noticed but didn't look the slightest bit curious. She decided to tell him anyway.

"I was just thinking about you telling me 'well I drink so much alcohol no bugs could live in my blood'." He looked at her when she spoke, but he still didn't say anything. "You can hear me, right?" He nodded. "Okay. Good, because I want you to close your eyes so I can wash your hair." He obeyed, closing them and keeping them like that. She grabbed his shampoo (and 2 in 1, really? Lazy) and poured some on his head. When she washed it out, a bunch of dirt and blood and who knew what else came with it. She wasn't satisfied she'd gotten it all, so she did it again. "You can open your eyes now if you want to," she said when she was finally satisfied that she'd got rid of all the dirt. "Tilt your head," she told him, turning the shower head onto its softest setting and directing it toward his ear. For a few seconds the water coming back out was red. Then it faded to pink. When it was finally running clear she repeated the process on the opposite side.

"You're done. You want to get out or wait for me?" When he didn't say anything, she shook her head. Right, yes or no questions. "Are you okay to sit there until I'm done?" This time he nodded. She did her best to hurry; she didn't want him sitting there too long. When he tried to stand up as she went to get out of the shower she rested a hand on his shoulder. "Wait till I get a towel around me and then I'll help you get out." He stopped moving. She didn't bother to get dressed, just dropped the towel at the end of the bed once she was dry.

When she'd put him back in the bed she grabbed the first aid kit and dug through it until she found a tube of Polysporin. She applied it to all of his cuts and abrasions, and then pulled a t-shirt and some boxers out of his drawer. Generally speaking he didn't wear anything when he slept, but the ointment would stain his sheets.

"Are you in pain?" The second the question was out of her mouth she felt like an idiot. "Physically," she clarified. He shrugged. "You don't know?" He nodded. Wonderful.

She went back downstairs and grabbed her purse and a glass of water and one other item, checking to make sure the door was locked before going back to his room. The other item was the gun she'd sworn she'd never bring into an apartment full of crazy, immature or drunk individuals. But she was glad it was here now. There was no guarantee that the people who'd killed Nate's father wouldn't be coming here next. She still didn't know who it was. In his rush to get them to the warehouse he'd never said. She checked the safety and then put the gun in her purse, because no matter how safe it would make her feel there was no way she wanted Nate knowing it was close enough to be available.

When she re-entered his room he was back in the same spot where he'd been before, lying on his back and staring at the ceiling. She had a feeling he wasn't really seeing it; if it hadn't been there he'd likely have still kept looking.

Sophie pulled out some Advil from her purse and handed them to him. He put them in his mouth and swallowed. She shook her head. "Sit up and have a drink Nate. Dry swallowing pills is stupid. They can get stuck on the way down and irritate your esophagus." He did as he was told, mechanically. She wanted to cry. All the times she'd wished he would just shut up and agree with her, and now it that it had happened she wished like hell she could take it back.

It took her a few seconds to realise that she actually was crying. The only reason she knew was because he reached out a hand and brushed against her cheek with his knuckles. It may have been the softest touch she'd ever received from him. After a few deep breaths, she wiped her face on the towel she'd left on the end of the bed and then hung it on a hook to dry.

Nate lifted up for her so she could pull back the covers. She slid in next to him naked, resting her head on his chest. His hand came up and stroked through her hair, being gentle enough that he didn't even pull on any of the tangles that she knew must be there, since she hadn't bothered to brush it after her shower. She shifted closer, draping one of her legs between his... and felt the unmistakable bulge in his boxers. Apparently his libido hadn't gotten the hint that he was in serious pain.

Lifting her head, and praying he wouldn't push her away, Sophie met his lips with hers. He was slower to respond than he normally would have been, but there was definite participation on his part. She kept kissing him and shifted so that her weight was on his hips. He thrust up against her, and she couldn't help moaning at the sensation. She pulled back from him to take a breath, since oxygen was important and all, and reached down, pushing his boxers down as far as she could reach without moving. Then she kissed him again, and he slid into her body. About ten seconds after he started thrusting into her she realised: they weren't using a condom. And she wasn't on birth control.

"Nate," she said, alarmed, "you don't have a condom on! And this is exactly the wrong time of the month for us to be having unprotected sex!" She tried to pull back, pull away, but he stopped her. She met his eyes. He was totally aware of what they were doing. He'd known. She could see it in his eyes. And he hadn't stopped her. At this point it didn't matter; for all she knew what they'd already done might have been enough to get her pregnant. She swallowed hard, and then started moving. Slowly at first, grinding her pelvis against his, gasping a bit at the pressure it created on her clit. Her pace picked up, and he matched it, reaching between them to run his fingers over her. She kissed him again, needing to taste him, needing to feel his mouth against hers. Fairly quickly the kisses became open mouthed, because that was the only way she could breathe at this point. He didn't stop moving his fingers on her clit, and the orgasm came as a shock. It always did, with him. It was one of the things about him that she both loved and hated simultaneously; his ability to make her lose control so easily. The feeling when he came inside her was incredible, not necessarily because of the hot jets of semen, though that felt amazing. But because he didn't even try to pull out of her when it happened. He kept his eyes on hers the entire time (and she had no idea how, because who the hell manages to keep their eyes open during an orgasm?) and he pulled her down into another kiss.

After a few minutes just spent breathing, waiting for heart rates to slow to something approaching normal, she slid off of him and went into the bathroom. She gave herself a quick glance on the way by the mirror, but didn't linger. She was afraid of what she might see in her eyes.

When she came back out, he was holding the gun she'd brought up to the room with her. For a second her heart leapt into her throat, but then she realised he'd taken the magazine out of it. He was pointing it at the ceiling, staring down the barrel, as if sighting a target. When he noticed her watching him, he picked up the magazine, slid it back into place, and checked the safety. And then held it out to her to take. She managed, with great difficulty, to suppress the sigh of relief that was trying to make its way out of her lungs. She took the offered firearm and put it into the drawer of her nightstand (and when the hell had it become her nightstand, her side of the bed?) She shook the thoughts away and settled back down against him. Within minutes she was snoring softly. So she missed the tears that ran down his cheeks, still tinted pink from the damage done by that bomb. So much damage.