glorious_spoon: (wtf hardison)
[personal profile] glorious_spoon
Title: waking up to ash and dust
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Violence, serious injury, PTSD
Pairing: Eliot/Hardison/Parker
Summary: Eliot doesn’t like hospitals. There are a few different reasons for that.

When it happens it happens fast, scraps of thunder echoing off the steel-plated hallways in awkward harmony to Eliot’s sudden footsteps, to Alec’s own startled grunt as a hard shoulder heaves him out of the way, to the sick wet sound of impact. Blood spray across his face and Eliot loses momentum like he’s a puppet and someone just cut his strings, and then there’s a clatter, a gun on the floor, and Alec’s hands are reaching and catching only air.

Alec’s no good with speed, not this kind of speed; his work is all precision and preparation. He can think fast when he’s sweet-talking a voice encrypted lock with only half the phrases he needs or hacking bank security on the fly, but he has no lexicon for this. His hands are empty, his eardrums echoing, and he’s strangely aware of the smell of gunsmoke.

In the dark hallway, Eliot goes down fast.

***

Sirens are too damn loud, and you’d think they could turn off the lights after they parked or something. Too much light, too much noise; it’s driving Parker up one side of a wall and down the other, and Alec honestly ain’t doing that much better.

Nate and Sophie aren’t here. In their absence, he’d normally be looking to Eliot, but that’s not exactly an option right now.

Parker is holding his hand hard enough to bruise, maybe hard enough to crack bone, and when the EMT says that only one of them can ride with him, she squeezes so tight Alec could swear his joints are grinding together.

Eliot’s face is slack and tinged with gray, and his sturdy frame looks smaller than it should, laid out on the stretcher like that. It takes Alec longer than it should to squeeze Parker’s hand back, to look down at her and say, “We’ll follow in the car. Just--hey, just take good care of him, okay?”

“We’ll do everything we can for him,” the EMT says, but she isn’t smiling and Alec isn’t reassured.

***

“Drive faster,” Parker says. Alec holds up a hand without even looking at her, brakes gently as the car in front of them slows down. Every nerve in his body is humming with the need to move, but that ain’t gonna help Eliot now.

“Now look, us getting into a car accident ‘cause I didn’t obey the common sense laws of driving is not gonna make this situation any--”

Parker’s hand is on his knee, and for a moment Alec thinks she’s gonna force him out of the seat and take over herself. Hey, it’s Parker. No telling what that girl might take into her head to do.

When he looks at her, though, her face is pale and set, her eyes fixed on the ambulance four cars ahead of them. “Drive. Faster.”

The car in front of them slows, maddeningly, and pulls over. Alec hits the gas and the car, Eliot’s little red Mustang with plenty of aftermarket juice under the hood, leaps forward. Parker doesn’t squeal with glee the way she usually would, but she stops threatening to crush his knee into bone-specked jelly.

The ambulance is still running lights and sirens. That’s a good thing, right? That’s gotta be a good thing. That means he’s still alive.

***

“He’s very lucky,” the doctor says. Alec looks through the window to the limp shape under the sheets, the slow, steady rasp of the ventilator and the tubes snaking into Eliot’s nose and mouth, and shakes his head.

“You call this lucky?” Parker snaps, but Alec feels lucky. He does. Eliot’s still alive. He got shot in the chest, and he’s still alive. Alec’s seen the rest of his scars, the things that man has lived through. This is lucky, or as close to it as they’re going to get.

“Man has nine goddamn lives,” he murmurs. The doctor looks at him, and Parker looks at him, and he waves them off. “I’m fine. I’m just gonna--”

A hand goes out, gesturing ineffectually, and then his knees are folding all on their own and it’s Parker’s hard, strong little hands catching him and easing him back into one of the chairs against the wall. The doctor’s voice again. He sounds concerned, and when Parker starts talking, Alec blinks, tries to struggle into some semblance of consciousness. Parker and words, that ain’t a good combination. He’s gotta get his shit together. He’s gotta handle this.

By the time the hallway swims back into focus, though, it’s empty. Parker is sitting cross-legged on the tile floor, peering up at him.

“I made them go away,” she whispers. She sounds anxious. “Is that alright?”

Under normal circumstances, Alec might be tempted to ask just how she managed that. It’s Parker, after all, and if she tasered the doctor or something, that’s probably something he ought to know about sooner rather than later. Now, though, he just nods heavily, reaches down toward her. After a moment, she places her hand in his, but he doesn’t try to pull her up to him. He just holds on.

“Yeah,” he manages. “It’s fine. You’re fine.”

***

“What happened?” Nate asks sharply.

Alec gestures at the hospital door. Really, he thinks, that oughta be all the explanation Nate needs, genius like him. “What does it look like happened? He got shot, man!”

His voice breaks on shot, and Nate blinks at him, brow furrowed, then peers into Eliot’s room again. He still hasn’t woken up. The doctor said that they were weaning him off the meds, so he should be up any minute now, but he still isn’t awake.

Eliot never takes anything stronger than Aspirin. Never. Not in all the time Alec's known him, which has included more than a few spectacular beatings. One Aspirin, an ice pack, and a nasty attitude for a few days. No narcotics, no matter what. Alec asked about that once, when Eliot was in a halfway decent mood for a change, and got a shrug in return. “Nah, man. I don’t like ‘em. Make me slow.”

That’s what he said, but there was that little bit of something underneath, an ugly something that Alec didn’t ask about. He’s got a nosy streak a mile wide, but there are some things about Eliot Spencer that he just does not want to know.

Sophie touches his arm. Her fingers are soft and warm and her eyes are concerned and even though he knows she’s probably using one of her grifter tricks to mess with his head, he can feel himself calming down, can feel his heart finding its rhythm and his breath slowing. He opens his mouth to start explaining, see if there’s anything out of this goddamn mess of a job they can salvage, but before he can say a word there’s a crash on the other side of the door, a shout, the familiar sound of a growl.

Sounds like Eliot just woke up.

***

It's Parker who pushes the door open, and Parker who's the first to step into the room; Alec feels like the floor is tilting beneath him, like he can't find any kind of balance here at all. Behind him, he can hear Sophie's small intake of breath, Nate's stifled curse.

What he sees is this: Eliot is on his feet, God knows how because Alec can see the sweat slicking his face, an unearthly sheen in the bright lights, and there's blood all down the side of his smock like he pulled his stitches or some damn thing. He's got the doctor in a headlock and a scalpel in his free hand. His eyes flit over them as they come through the door, alert but strangely distant, like the eyes of a wild animal assessing a threat. There's no recognition in them, none at all.

Alec opens his mouth, then shuts it again. He can't think of the right words for this. He doesn't know if there are right words for this, but if they don't do something pretty damn fast it's gonna be hospital security busting through the door behind them--

"Eliot," Parker is saying. Her voice is strangely calm; detached even. "Eliot, I really don't think you should kill the doctor."

The doctor, hanging from Eliot's powerful grip like a petrified balding squirrel in the paws of the world's meanest cat, doesn't look reassured. Eliot's eyes flick past her again like she's not even there, or like she's just one more obstacle between him and the door and he's assessing just how long it will take to get her out of the way.

Parker steps closer, because Parker is fucking insane, and Alec would put out a hand to pull her back but she's already out of reach.

He should feel bad about that. About wanting to pull her back. It's Eliot, after all, and the dude just took a bullet for him.

"Eliot," she says again, softly, and Eliot's flickering gaze skitters over her again, then stops.

There's a strange, frozen moment where Alec feels like he can't even breathe, and then something shifts in Eliot's face. The blade comes down, his grip relaxes. The doctor tears himself away and scrambles backward so quickly that he falls on his ass; he's breathing hard and panicky but it's Eliot that Alec is focused on. Eliot blinks. His eyes focus; he shakes his head twice, jerkily, like he's trying to clear something out of it and his voice is raspy when he murmurs, "Parker?"

Alec feels a weird and totally irrational twist of jealousy, but before he can even begin to process that, Eliot's bloodshot eyes are on him. "Hardison. You okay?"

"I'm--am I okay?" Alec sputters. Eliot is still staring at him, though, so he manages, "Yeah, Eliot, I'm okay. I'm fine, Jesus Christ, I'm absolutely fine, okay?"

"Good," Eliot says, then sways on his feet. He looks down at his own chest like he's just noticed that it's covered in blood and then, so smoothly that it almost looks intentional, his knees fold and he falls, he’s falling, and Alec is once again too slow to catch him.

***

“He’s lucky he didn’t bleed out,” the doctor says. A different doctor. She’s tall and dark and calm, hair cropped short and a face like a carved sphynx; she looks like she might be made out of sterner stuff than the first one, who got led out of the room to sit down somewhere quiet and probably be plied with copious amounts of money by Nate, Alec does not know or care.

“But he’s going to be okay,” he says. His voice is tight and panicky. “Right? I mean, he’ll be alright.”

“He’s going to be in a lot of pain,” she says, which doesn’t exactly answer his question. “We aren’t sedating him right now, but for obvious reasons I’m not comfortable leaving him unrestrained. Furthermore--”

“Wait, did you just say restrained?”

Her eyes are flat and uncompromising, a basilisk stare that almost reminds him of Eliot. “This is a hospital. I have to consider the well-being of my other patients. And,” she adds pointedly, “my staff.”

Alec scrubs his hands over his face. His skin feels gritty and he can feel his beard starting to come in; he doesn’t need the mirror over the nurses’ station to tell him that he looks like nine kinds of crap. “Okay. Is there--is there any reason he can’t be moved to a private facility? I mean, he doesn’t need any more surgery, or anything, does he?”

“He’ll need around the clock care. Professional care. The expenses involved--”

“I can take care of the expenses,” Alec says, and it’s true, damn it, even though he can see the skepticism in her eyes as they slide over his Legend of Zelda t-shirt (vintage, completely ruined now, from Eliot bleeding all over it) and slouchy jeans. He smiles the most charming smile he can manage under the circumstances. “I’d really rather have him in a private facility if at all possible.”

That’s true, too. Hospitals are a nightmare to secure, and he knows, he knows how Eliot would feel about being helpless, drugged, strapped down to a bed in a place where he can’t account for every name and face that could have access. If he’s being perfectly honest with himself, Alec will admit that this isn’t the only reason, but he generally doesn’t make too much of an effort to be perfectly honest with himself, so it’s all good.

The doctor still looks skeptical, but she nods. “I’ll have one of the nurses get you the paperwork. I assume you have the authority to make medical decisions on his behalf; you’ll need to demonstrate proof of that.”

She turns on her heel and walks away. It’s pretty damn obvious that she’s just trying to tangle him up in paperwork to keep him out of her way, but if there is one thing in this goddamn situation that Alec J. Hardison can deal with, it’s paperwork. He sinks down onto one of the hard benches, pulls out his iPhone, and gets to work.

***

“A private facility?” Nate has materialized at his elbow; he’s carrying a greasy paper bag of something that smells vaguely edible. “Last I checked, we don’t have one of those.”

“I got a spare room I can clean out,” Alec says absently without looking up.

“Are you sure that’s the best call?”

“No. You know what I am sure about? I’m sure that if anybody gets wind that Eliot’s currently strapped to a bed in Mercy General, it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to send in a few more guys with guns, and seeing as how our hitter is out of commission right now, I’m thinking that’s something we might want to avoid.”

Nate crunches thoughtfully on something from his bag--seriously, the smell is gonna make Alec hurl--for a few minutes. “That was good,” he says finally. “Very well thought out.”

“Oh, screw you,” Alec says, and Nate beams at him.

***

It takes him most of a day to get everything set up. The doctor he finds is one of Eliot’s ex-military buddies, a tall, scar-faced woman named Gina with a crew-cut and at least three handguns that Alec can see. He vets her to hell and back, digging into fifteen years worth of financials and cell phone records while Parker sits cross-legged on the floor, flipping one of Eliot’s knives over and over in her hand and staring intently. She doesn’t look away until Alec closes his laptop with a sigh. “Ok. So you’re on the up and up.”

“Wouldn’t say that, exactly,” Gina says. Her accent is deep South country cracker, slow like molasses. “But I owe that dumb son of a bitch. Least I can do.”

“If you let him die, I’ll drop you off of the roof,” Parker says seriously, and Gina, to her credit, just nods like she’d expect nothing less.

“Won’t be the first time, likely won’t be the last,” she says when Alec asks if she’s done this before. She doesn’t ask how Eliot got shot or what they were doing, but she does a thorough sweep of the perimeter before declaring the spare room satisfactory for their purposes, which is equal parts comforting and disturbing.

An unmarked black car pulls up to the ER just as they get Eliot’s stretcher loaded into the ambulance. Five men in tailored suits and shoulder holsters get out. Alec decides not to think about how close they’re cutting it.

***

It’s after midnight the next time Eliot wakes up. Alec feels the mattress shift under his cheek, startling him out of a doze just before Eliot’s hand comes down on the back of his neck.

He freezes, but Eliot’s grip is gentle. “Hardison,” he says, raspy, and then lets go. Alec sits back up, spine protesting the whole time. He’ll be embarrassed to be caught napping at Eliot’s bedside like a lovesick fool some other time. Besides, Parker is there too, curled like a cat in the narrow space at the foot of the mattress. She lifts her head when he moves, the dim light reflecting off of her eyes.

“Hey, Eliot,” Alec says, and yawns hugely.

“Hey.” Eliot’s bloodshot eyes flicker over the day-glo stars on the ceiling, the WoW poster on the back of the door. “What is this, your spare room?”

“Figured you’d prefer it to the hospital,” Alec says. Eliot glances at the IV pole next to his bed, and his free hand makes a suspicious little twitch. Alec catches it before he can think better of it. “It’s just antibiotics, man, I swear.”

“No narcotics.”

“Swear to god.” He curls his fingers around Eliot’s and squeezes. “You scared the hell out of us.”

“Sorry,” Eliot says hoarsely.

“You better be. What kind of dumb-ass move was that, anyway?”

“My job.”

“Oh, hell no. Your job is to keep us safe, remember?” He’s squeezing so hard that he’s probably bruising his own fingers. It has to hurt, but Eliot doesn’t try to pull his hand away. “How the hell are you gonna do that if you’re laid up with a bullet-hole in you?”

The bed shifts, and then Parker is slithering up to insinuate herself into the narrow strip of mattress between them. “Hardison isn’t really mad,” she tells Eliot, very seriously. “He was just worried.”

Eliot smiles a little,cups her cheek with his free hand. “I know, sweetheart,” he says, and lifts his head enough to kiss her briefly on the mouth.

“I really am mad,” Alec says, but even to his own ears it sounds weak.

“You’re lying,” Parker observes matter-of-factly. She kisses the corner of his mouth, then slides back down to the foot of the bed and curls up again.

“I’m not lying,” Alec says.

Eliot’s bandaged chest quakes as he chuckles, then coughs. “Yeah, you are. You kinda suck at it. C’mere.”

“I do not suck at it,” Alec grumbles, but he dips his head and kisses Eliot anyway. His beard is coming in, and his lips are chapped and taste faintly of chemicals and blood. But he’s warm under Alec’s hands, alive and laughing at him. “I’m an excellent liar. And I’m mad at you.”

“Sure you are.” Eliot’s hand is on Alec’s shoulder, pulling him down until his cheek is resting against the mattress again. “Now shut up and go back to sleep.”

“I get a crick in my neck, I’m blaming you,” Alex mumbles, but the sheet is soft and Eliot is rubbing slow, soothing circles on the back of his neck, and he really can’t put much heat into it at all.

Date: 2013-06-24 09:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kissofcinnamon.livejournal.com
I really want to be incredibly clever in my feedback because this deserves it. Unfortunately you've blown my mind a little bit and I'm too busy picturing that whole last scene to find the words. You've got their voices down pat, and that's a wonderful thing and I could just see the whole thing playing out in front of me. Thanks for delicious diversion.

Date: 2013-06-27 11:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glorious-spoon.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! That last scene took forever for me to write, so I'm really glad it worked for you.

Date: 2013-06-24 11:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] valawenel.livejournal.com
Wow! Excellent work!

Date: 2013-06-27 11:57 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-06-25 06:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lmx-v3point3.livejournal.com
Fantastic, wow. I want to hug all of them!

Date: 2013-06-27 11:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glorious-spoon.livejournal.com
I'm glad you enjoyed!

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