Um. I'm a little scared of my own head right now. No idea where this one came from, but it may have had something to do with the Gina Bellman scene in Paranoid. If you can watch that scene, look at her eyes. Think that's what made this happen. Warning: Below are graphic descriptions of torture. Also, some bad language and explicit sex (consensual) are in here. Title borrowed from the Game of Thrones book 1. Obviously I don't own Leverage. :|
"Where is he?" Sophie's voice was quiet, almost conversational. If an outsider had heard it and not been able to see the room she was in, they might have been forgiven for thinking it was an ordinary question.
Eliot tightened his grip on the guy's hair. Not that he was going anywhere soon; Eliot had broken both his kneecaps in their initial fight. If he hadn't been touching the guy Eliot might have shivered at the look in Sophie's eyes. In the years since he'd worked with her, he'd been amused at her, furious with her, even in love with her (still was). But he'd never been afraid of her. Until now.
The guy he was holding spat at Sophie, missing her by a good margin. She didn't even flinch. Eliot gave him a knee to the kidney for his insolence.
"Where is he?" she asked again. The guy remained silent. There had been two others with him in here, but both were dead. One of those kills had been Sophie; she'd informed Eliot that she was a much better shot than Nate. The guy had been at least thirty five feet from her and the bullet went through his left eye, so Eliot wasn't about to argue with her.
After a second Sophie walked outside to the car and came back with her purse. She reached inside and pulled out a set of handcuffs. Tossing them to Eliot she said "I traveled with them this time." On any other day it would have been a joke between them. Eliot secured the guy's hands behind him with the shackles.
They were in the basement of a rundown farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Upon first seeing it Eliot had remarked that it reminded him of the kind that had dominated the horror movie scene in recent years. Sophie hadn't responded.
She wandered over to a corner and came back with a length of rope. She gave a support column a shove, testing its sturdiness, and then looped the rope around it a few times. She gestured and Eliot dragged the guy over, ignoring his cries of pain as his broken knees were scraped against the concrete floor.
After tying the man against the pillar so that he was still in a kneeling position and unable to move anything except his head, Sophie stood up and looked Eliot in the eyes. "You may want to leave this room," she said. There was none of the care or concern that Eliot had come to expect from his friend and lover. It was more as if she thought that she ought to offer due to courtesy.
"I'm not going anywhere," he replied.
He could see her weighing him in her mind, picking up on things even he was likely blind to, before she nodded once and returned to her purse. She pulled out a straight razor, a disposable lighter, and a pair of latex gloves. After picking up the gun she'd dropped on a table on the way in, she returned to standing in front of their prisoner.
"Here's how this is going to work," she said conversationally. Her eyes were terrifying. "I am going to ask you questions. You are going to answer them. If you lie, or if I'm not satisfied with your answer, you get punished. I need you to understand something very clearly. You are not leaving this room alive. But you can either go peacefully" she held up the gun "or you can go screaming. To tell you the truth, I really don't care which one it is."
Sophie started pulling on the gloves. "Last chance," she warned Eliot. He swallowed but shook his head resolutely. After pulling on the gloves she looked back at the prisoner. "Where is he?"
"You don't scare me," he sneered. "You don't have the guts to do anything."
Later Eliot would think that what bothered him most was the casualness with which Sophie began torturing the guy. This was, after all, the woman who'd called MMA fighting barbaric. As she sliced off strips of skin, and the guy's former bravado turned to pleas for mercy, Eliot belatedly became aware that she'd lied during that second job they'd done as a team, when she said she hadn't hurt anyone. But no, Eliot realised, his mind taking any memory over the stark truth before him, she hadn't said that. Parker had. Soph had only said that she stole paintings for a living.
Eliot's eyes went back to the guy in front of him. Sophie had been carefully cauterising each wound as she made it, not wanting their prisoner checking out due to blood loss. The smell of blood and burning hair made Eliot want to puke, but he controlled the urge.
After each subsequent cut Sophie would again ask the guy where Nate was. After about half an hour, despite Sophie's care, the guy was kneeling in a pool of his own blood. But he still hadn't told them the name.
"Eliot, go get me the bolt cutters out of the car please." Eliot wanted to argue, wanted to tell her to stop this, that he didn't want her to become this… thing she was becoming. But the words stuck in his throat. He'd been shocked at first, when he'd realised he was in love with her. And he'd been even more shocked when he realised he was in love with Nate too. He'd thought it was just sex, that he was just a casual third to them. But somehow Friday nights had turned into Sunday afternoons, he and Nate curled together on the couch and Sophie casually making fun of their emotional involvement in 'American' football (she never forgot the air quotes.)
When she met his eyes he could see her reading it all. His worry, his fear about losing Nate and maybe losing her too, his distaste for the entire fucking situation. But all she did was repeat the order in a tone of voice that brooked no argument. So he got the cutters.
"He needs to be cuffed in front for this," she said to him when he returned. He dropped the cutters and switched the guy's cuffs. The man tried to fight, clearly having some inkling of what was coming, but he was so weak from pain and blood loss that it wasn't really much of a fight at all. "You don't have to stay." Sophie met his eyes again. "You don't need to see this."
Eliot simply planted his feet and stared at the floor. He wasn't sure if she sighed softly or if it was his imagination.
"I'm going to ask you again. For each time you don't answer, you lose a finger. At ten, I'm simply going to douse you in gasoline and watch you burn to death. Where is Nathan Ford?" Sophie's voice could have been giving a weather report. The guy stayed silent. "You were warned."
Eliot wasn't exactly sure if it was finger number three or four that sent him lunging for the door, ending up leaning with a hand against the side of the house as he retched helplessly. He'd seen torture, hell, participated in it, in his younger days. But never like this. Never when it was someone he was in love with that was going about it in such a business-like manner. He dragged a hand across his mouth angrily and kicked the wall, thankful for the pain it caused and the distraction it brought. After a second he stood up straight and walked back inside.
Sophie got to eight before the guy finally cracked. "Alright, please, I'll tell you anything just please stop," he sobbed, tears and snot running down his face. "Look, I dunno where they were taking him. But the guy I get my orders from works out of Mexico. His information is stapled to the inside of the roof of my car, under the fabric. Please don't hurt me anymore" he cried.
Sophie met Eliot's eyes. He was already moving. Two minutes later he was back, a paper clutched in his fist. "Guadalajara," he said.
Sophie nodded. "Go start the car," she said softly. His eyes went to the guy leaning against the pillar, to the two dead men on the floor, and then his mind traveled back to what Parker had looked like when they'd found her two days ago, barely alive. With one last look at the soon to be dead man, he walked away. He didn't look back at the gunshot, the sudden heat from behind him as the old house went up like a piece of tinder. And he hoped that the screams he was hearing were only in his mind, that Sophie really had killed that guy and not left him to burn to death.
When Eliot almost dozed off for the second time in the last half hour, he conceded that either Soph was going to have to drive for a while or else they needed to stop very soon. He refused to die in some stupid car crash before they rescued Nate.
When he pulled into a service station Sophie was just instantly awake, from dozing to fully conscious in less than a second. She hadn't said a word since they left that farmhouse, had been drifting in and out of sleep for the past four hours. Several times she'd cried out, sometimes Nate's name and sometimes his, but Eliot hadn't had the heart to wake her. She'd had less than 3 hours sleep for each of the last five days.
"I need a coffee," Eliot said. "And somewhere in the next hour we need to find a place to spend the night."
It was a mark of how tired she was that Sophie didn't even protest, just nodded. "I'd drive but I'm probably closer to impaired right now than you. I can't keep my eyes from closing."
"You want anything?" Eliot offered as he climbed out. Sophie just shook her head. He'd need to badger her into eating something later, Eliot thought. She hadn't had anything but a protein shake since yesterday.
Eliot grabbed some snacks along with his coffee, mostly mixed nuts and beef jerky, and then added a bottle of Jack Daniels to the pile. He paid and returned to the car, tossing the bag in the back seat. Sophie had programmed the GPS to look for hotels and it indicated one only about twenty miles down the road. Eliot gunned the engine and peeled out of the parking lot. The sooner they got there the better.
"You want first shower?" Eliot asked. Sophie had sat down in a chair at the room's computer desk and was staring off into space. Eliot had to repeat his question before she looked up.
After a second she stood up and took his hand, leading him into the bathroom with her. She stripped out of her clothes and turned on the water, and then turned back around, pulling at his belt when he didn't undress fast enough for her. She went to her knees right there on the tile floor, taking him in her mouth and sucking hard enough that his world went white around the edges. He coiled one of his hands in her hair and used the other to brace himself against the sink. She raked her nails against the small of his back, dipping one finger down and penetrating his ass. He came embarrassingly fast, calling her name as she sucked him dry.
Eliot pulled Sophie up against him, hugging her briefly and then picking her up and stepping both of them under the hot spray of the shower. She stayed with her eyes buried in his shoulder, content to let him smooth soap over her skin and rub shampoo into her hair. He was grateful for the spray of the shower that disguised the tears he could feel in his eyes.
Against his will he felt his body responding to her again, the feel of her soft breasts against his chest and all that smooth skin under his fingertips. She noticed, of course. It would have been hard not to, although Eliot tended to believe she would have known anyway, just because of who and what she was. She tilted her head up and captured his lips, her tongue dancing with his and her teeth pulling at his bottom lip. He could taste some trace of himself on her lips and it only turned him on more.
After a minute she looked him in the eyes and then turned around, bending a bit and bracing her hands against the wall of the shower. Eliot didn't waste any time pushing into her slick heat, astounded as he always was at how tight she felt around him. He reached around her, tracing the line of her inner thigh before gliding his fingers over her clit. It was a bit unnerving to have sex with Sophie and not hear her making any noise; Nate and him had a running joke about how they were going to gag her if she got them yelled at one more time by Nate's next door neighbor.
Eliot almost wondered if Sophie was even feeling what he was doing until her breathing started to speed up and she began moving herself back against his thrusts. He was relieved when she tightened around him, a sound that was closer to a groan than anything else coming from deep in her throat. Eliot followed about four thrusts later.
"We should call Hardison." She was lying on her back staring at the ceiling. He was leaning against the headboard. Neither of them had bothered with getting dressed.
She didn't reply, but after a moment she reached up to the nightstand and grabbed her phone. She didn't even dial, just held down one number, and then handed him the phone. Four rings later Hardison said "Hello?" He sounded groggy, so he'd probably been dozing.
"Hey, it's Eliot. How is she?"
"Oh, hey man. She's… still the same." Eliot could hear the fear in his friend's (brother's) voice.
"You still at the hospital?" Eliot asked.
"Yeah man, they tried to get me to leave and but I told them no friggin' way. I'm not goin' anywhere till she's better." There were anger and conviction both in the youngest team member's voice.
"Good. Don't let them tell ya what to do. Sterling said you guys are good, nobody will come after ya, and he owes us one."
"Is there… Did you guys find out anything?"
"Yeah," Eliot said. "We're going to Mexico. Figure we'll leave my car at LAX and fly out of there, since we're pretty close anyway."
"Let me know what aliases you're using and I'll get you a flight. Where you going?"
"Guadalajara," Eliot replied. "I'll go as Jason Carter. Soph has her Sarah Jane Baker passport, so go with that. We can be at LAX by ten am if we get up early."
"Aiight, I'll text ya the details soon as I've got them." Hardison paused and then said "Do you… do you guys wanna say hi to her?"
Eliot swallowed against a sudden lump in his throat and then said "Sure. Put us on speaker."
Eliot pushed the speaker button on Sophie's cell as well, and they could both hear Hardison say "Hey, Parker, Soph and Eliot wanna say hi, okay? Go ahead guys."
"Hey crazy girl. You listening? You gotta wake up soon, k? Hardison's looking after himself right now and we all know how bad that can get, right? So come on, you gotta come out of there," said Eliot.
Sophie had pulled herself up into a sitting position. "Parker, I know it's hard but you have to come back. Hardison is right there with you, and as soon as we get Nate back we'll be there too and we'll help you, okay?"
"Okay guys, I'll send you that info as soon as I have it. Get some sleep." Hardison's voice was tight, and Eliot didn't need to be a grifter to know there were probably tears running down his friend's face.
"Take care, bro," Eliot replied, then ended the call.
After he hung up the phone Hardison looked at Parker, whose eyes were open and unblinking. "Come back, Parker. Just come back." He dropped his head down onto the bed beside her briefly, then wiped his eyes and got to work on those plane tickets.
"Please tell me that wasn't just a pleasant lie. That you really believe we'll get him back." Eliot looked into Sophie's eyes, pleading for reassurance.
She dropped her gaze and shrugged. "You're the retrieval specialist. You tell me."
He tilted his head back against the headboard with a clunk. "I think I'll say a prayer tonight. First time in twelve years."
There was a wry twist to Sophie's lips that the unobservant might have called a smile. "I don't believe in God." After a second she turned off the lamp and shifted down under the blankets. Eliot followed suit, wrapping her in his arms.
He was almost asleep twenty minutes later when a stray thought hit him like a freight train. "Shit! We didn't use a condom."
Sophie's shoulders shook slightly against him, a laugh or a sob or both. "If we don't get him back, it won't matter. I won't live nine days beyond his death, never mind nine months. Not if he leaves me this way."
Eliot couldn't figure out what to say to that, so he just tightened his hold on her briefly. "I love you," he murmured into her hair.
By six am they were already in his car, heading down the interstate at better than 20 miles past the speed limit. By midafternoon they were in Mexico.
Eliot gunned the engine on the shitbox car they'd 'borrowed'. Well, tried to gun the engine. It didn't make a damn difference. "Goddamn stupid import garbage," he growled. "Wonder why I drive a Challenger." He'd been keeping up a steady stream of like comments for the past half hour.
"Left up here," Sophie said, staring at the map she was holding. It was written in Spanish, but that didn't seem to disturb her any.
Eliot took the indicated turn and then coaxed the shitbox up to about forty miles an hour. "We're not just driving up to this place Soph. This is the kind of country where owning an automatic weapon is considered poor taste, not a crime."
She nodded. "We'll drive by once to check it out and I'll record a video on my phone. Then we'll stop somewhere and do some planning."
He grunted in assent. "Let me know ahead of time so I can slow down."
It turned out to be a rambling villa, twelve foot walls topped with barbed wire over them surrounding the entire place. There was a front gate with a speaker. Eliot counted four guards just on the short video Sophie had gotten.
"This is gonna be messy," Eliot said. "I can take this place but…" He mumbled something about 'wish I still had my strike team', and continued studying the feed.
"A frontal assault is only one alternative. We need information on who lives here, what they do, where they spend their time. I may be able to get in and out without any casualties at all." She rewound the video. "There's a coffee shop across from there. We'll go sit there, pretend to be tourists, watch and see what goes on."
Eliot had to admit that it sounded better than his approach. Even though he didn't want to rest until they got Nate back, he knew that going into a place half-cocked was a good way to end up dead. "Let's find the closest motel that looks habitable and grab some supplies. We're eating a real meal tonight. And I mean 'we'."
Sophie gave him a look, one that made him feel about eight years old. "I'll either eat or I won't. But trust me, you can't make me do it."
"Nope, but I won't stop trying," he said. He started the car (shitbox). "Let's find that motel."