Follow Up To: From Nowhere To Somewhere
Pairings: Eliot Spencer/Quinn; Parker/Alec Hardison; Sophie Devereaux/Nathan Ford
Word Count: 4,144
Summary: They brought Eliot home, but will Eliot come home to stay. Set after The Last Dam Job
Author’s Notes: A lot of people wanted to know what happened after the crew took Eliot home off the streets. A timestamp for From Nowhere To Somewhere.
Walking toward home, Parker kept hold of his right hand while Quinn walked on his left and Hardison brought up the rear. Parker chattered about all the things they’d done on the ranch, ‘her’ horse, and all the things that had happened since she’d seen him. Nate and Sophie walked in front of him pushing Rowena’s stroller. Everyone happy their family was back together. They stopped in front of Eliot and Quinn’s house.
“Grab a shower then come up to the house. I’ll cook for you for a change and you can get reacquainted with Ro.” Nate said.
Eliot looked at the expectation on their faces. He did need to eat, and he did want to spend time with his favorite girl, but he was so exhausted.
“I know you must be exhausted so we’ll make it an early evening.” Sophie cajoled.
He followed Quinn into the house. Everything was just as they’d left it. Keys in the bowl by the door, boots and shoes on the rubber mat, and jackets hanging off the hall tree along with the shoulder holster made for his knives. Eliot sat down heavily and unlaced his heavy boots. All he really wanted was a hot shower and his bed. He was emotionally drained, and after a month in the hands of Moreau and a month on the streets, Eliot feared flash-backs and triggers.
Quinn’s shadow fell over him as he straightened from unlacing his boots.
“Need a hand?”
So many emotions floated through Quinn’s brown eyes that Eliot didn’t have the heart to tell him no, and though he knew he could take care of himself, he would be in his own decadent bed a lot soon if he accepted Quinn’s help.
“Yeah … Sure.”
He stood and let Quinn help strip off the outer layers. He heard a sharp intake of breath when he pulled off his watch cap, and Quinn saw his shorn hair.
He breathed out.
“Knew you’d be lookin’ for a guy with long hair, and it was easier on the street.” He explained.
“Okay. Shower then bed.”
Quinn followed Eliot to make sure his exhaustion didn’t cause him to take a tumble on the stairs. Once he was safely in the shower, the young hitter headed to the kitchen to put Eliot’s clothes in the laundry room, and for some light snacks and bottled water. He needed the time to get his emotions under control after seeing the scars as Eliot shed his clothes.
He’d expected bad. He’d been there to witness what Moreau had done. Doc Jules had told them how bad it was, but to see the shiny pink lines crisscrossing Eliot’s body, and the thin pink lines that followed Eliot’s bone structure like macabre face painting had Quinn’s stomach churning.
Emotions back under control, Quinn set a tray with chunks of French bread, cheese and sliced ham along with bottles of water on the dresser just as Eliot came out of the bathroom rubbing a towel over his shortened hair.
“I brought a bite to eat …”
He turned to see Eliot studying him. Silence reigned as he slipped into sleep pants and shirt Quinn left on the bed.
Eliot retreated to the overstuffed chair with his bounty. Quinn showered giving Eliot time to eat and settle a little more before things got serious. When he came out of the bathroom, Eliot was sitting propped against the headboard, arms folded across his chest.
“Before I can even think about closing my eyes in the same house let alone bed with you … I have only one question.” Eliot said quietly.
Quinn settled cross-legged facing Eliot.
“What is it?”
“I didn’t have a choice.”
The slight narrowing of blue/grey eyes was Eliot’s only response.
“Flores said he called me first because we were together. He made it clear if I turned him down he’d make calls until someone said ‘yes’ … Someone who wouldn’t care if you made it out alive. I knew I couldn’t stop Moreau … The best I could do was damage control. I kept him off the grid and on the move. You took out the muscle he hired until there was only me … You knew me … You hesitated … I didn’t. My plan was long range-tranqs to keep down the body count, but Moreau had this fetish about watching you fight. It was really creepy.”
Quinn stopped to take a drink of water. Between his nervousness and talking more than he had since this mess started, he felt parched. Eliot’s unblinking stare made him feel like he was in bed with a cobra poised to strike. It was a startling reminder that he shared his life and bed with one of the most dangerous people in the world.
“Every day I looked for a way to get us out, but Moreau was so fucking paranoid it was hard to get away to take a piss let alone escape. I didn’t want to leave you with him that last day, but I was afraid if I pushed too hard he’d kill me and you both. When I got back, Moreau was dead and you were gone. When I left the building to find you that son-of-a-bitch Sterling had the place covered. By the time I got away from him you had a four hour head start. I got to the office just as the others were arriving home from Texas. I explained what happened, and after convincing Parker NOT to taze or kill me … I spent every waking moment on the streets. Getting information, even from Jules, was damn near impossible. Hell, we only found you by accident. If Parker didn’t hang out in trees we’d still be looking.”
He received a curt nod as Eliot slid down into the comfort of the thick mattress. Wrung out both mentally and physically, Quinn moved to get up when a strong hand snagged him by the back of the neck and pulled him down. He allowed Eliot to manhandle him until he was pinned against the older man’s chest. With an exhausted sigh, Quinn relaxed and let sleep and Eliot win.
When he woke the next morning, the bed beside him was cold. He rolled out scrambling for jeans and a shirt, his inner hitter chiding him for his panic. He cursed the voice, but did slow down before he broke his fool neck trying to pull on his pants while running down the stairs.
His ass met the stairs with a thump when relief turned his legs to water as the sounds of Parker’s voice drifted out of the kitchen.
“I wanna see.”
“No, Parker you really don’t.”
“You made me leave you.”
“We’re family … We’re supposed to help each other.”
“He would have killed you.”
“He almost killed you. He made you go nowhere.”
Eliot’s protest was soft, and Quinn heard the sound of a shirt being removed.
The silence that followed got Quinn moving off the steps. Bare feet were silent on the wood floor, but he only moved until he had them in sight. Any closer and the still hyper-vigilant Eliot would have heard him.
He watched the slim fingers of the thief delicately trace the lines of scars on Eliot’s face and body. Tears ran unnoticed down her face, but she was smiling.
“Proof of life. Most of these will fade, but you’ll look like one of those warriors from Hardison’s thing with the magic and swords.”
She slapped Eliot hard across the ribs.
“Don’t make me leave you again.” She wiped her face.
Eliot pulled the shirt back over his head..
“You don’t have to put your shirt on on account of me, but you can make pancakes to cheer me up.” She wheedled.
Full of pancakes and coffee, Eliot headed to the office with Parker and Quinn not two steps behind. Though it was obvious that Eliot didn’t want to be touched, he endured hugs from Hardison, Sophie and Nate. When Sophie plopped Rowena in the retrieval specialist’s arms, she giggled and waved her arms.
To anyone watching, it appeared that Eliot was occupied with Rowena, and she did have the bulk of his attention. Along with cataloging the changes in the baby, he was also watching how they all interacted with Quinn. Other than giving him the occasional frown when looking at him, Parker and the others acted as they always did around the young enforcer.
There was a part of Eliot that wanted to lose himself in his feelings from before, but he would close his eyes and see the syringe coming toward him. The feel of his skin slicing open would force his eyes open. He’d close his eyes to dispel the image, but when he opened them he was back in the warehouse watching Quinn stare at spots of his blood decorating the walls to avoid watching what Moreau did to him.
At lunch they used the back room at The Brew Pub because Eliot refused to go in the front. After picking at his meal he announced he was going to see Jules, Quinn jumped up to go with him.
“That’s okay. You go back with the others. I got this.”
“I need to talk to Doc and get some things straight.”
Quinn had given him a hard stare before nodding his reluctant agreement.
They were beginning to worry when they closed up the office for the day, but when supper time came and went without any sign of Eliot, Quinn chewed his cuticle while staring at his phone as Hardison grumble in the background about tracking devices and subcutaneous microchips.
Eliot watched the waiting room of the clinic empty. He watched until the only person left in the building was the doctor before slipping through the back door.
He heard the doctor coming down the hall.
“Anne? Did you forget … Eliot!”
The big man reached out a large hand and pulled Eliot into a hug, ignoring the growling from the smaller man. He shook Eliot lightly while he still had a grip.
“You disappear on me again and I’ll kick your ass before patching you up with no anesthetic.”
Dr. Julian Anders let go the retrieval specialist long enough to grab his hood and pull it down.
“Off. I want to see how you healed.”
“I mean it, Eliot. I want to see how my handiwork healed. I haven’t seen you since I took out your stitches … So strip.”
“You’re always trying to get me naked.” Eliot actually teased.
“Just because I prefer girls doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate pretty boys.”
Jules noticed the storm gathering on Eliot’s face.
“You can stop pulling your frowners down, Eliot Spencer you’re still the prettiest boy I know.”
Doc was still scolding and Eliot was still frowning by the time Eliot was standing in his boxer briefs. He went still when Jules began running gentle hands over his scars.
The retrieval specialist didn’t flinch until Doc cupped his face to examine the pink lines in a better light. Eliot jerked like a head shy horse.
“Eliot, put your pants on and come here.”
Wary, Eliot did as he was asked.
Grabbing up the rest of his clothes Eliot followed Jules into another room where Jules closed the door behind him. When he spun around he came face to face with himself in a full length mirror. He glared accusingly at the big man. Ignoring the glare, Jules asked …
“What do you see?”
“Someone who’s outside now matches their inside.”
Knowing Eliot would never hurt him, Jules pinned the smaller man to his chest.
“You know what I see?”
Eliot struggled but didn’t strikeout.
“I see a brother, a friend, a man with a heart so big he lives with the pain of not living up to his preconceived notions that in the long run have nothing to do with reality.”
He grabbed the cleft chin and forced him to look. He turned Eliot’s face so he could see it in all lights and angles.
“I see a damn fine stitching job that’s so good it will be barely noticeable in the next six months.
As the doctor talked, Eliot finally began to listen. By the time he relaxed against the broad chest, Jules thought he’d made progress with Eliot until he mumbled against the broad chest.
“You want to repeat that when you’re not talking to my buttons?”
“I’m going to Texas.”
“You’re way too young to think about retiring. Quinn’ll be bored in a week.”Jules studied the stubborn set of Eliot’s face. “You are taking Quinn?…Dammit Eliot!”
“I can’t, alright. I love the kid, but I don’t … Can’t trust him. Every time I close my eyes I see what he did and what he didn’t do, and before you say anything I know he thought he was doing the only thing he could under the circumstances. Normally I’m okay with being bait, but I wasn’t in on the plan … He didn’t tell me what he was doing. All he had to do was tell me he was working for Flores and I’d have got my head right, but he didn’t and I didn’t, and I can’t stay with someone I don’t trust no matter how I feel.”
Jules watched as Eliot struggled to bring his breathing and trembling under control.
“Have you told any of this to Quinn?”
“He knows. Well … Not the Texas part … But the other.”
“Quinn’s the longest relationship you’ve had since Aimee. Don’t you think you should see if you can fix it?”
“I don’t know, man … The team will be fine with Quinn, Nate and Sophie can raise their daughter without me around as a reminder to Nate …”
“I’m calling bullshit, Spencer. You weren’t here to see how upset they were when you disappeared. Quinn acted like he expected Parker to take out her frustrations on him, and he was feeling guilty enough to let her. Rowena loudly voiced her opinion of everyone being on edge. You can’t just walk away from that. Besides you and Sophie are the sanest of the bunch. I shudder to think of Rowena at sixteen without you.”
“Fucking hell, Jules, can’t you just let me retire in peace? I don’t trust myself not to flashback and hurt one of them. We could be in the middle of a job and something trigger me and the whole job go sideways. I could get them all killed.”
Eliot paced the office like a caged animal.
“I still call bullshit.”
Jules leaned back into his oversized couch. Eliot stopped in his tracks and shot a glare at him that could have started a forest fire.
“If you truly thought you were not in total control you would have walked right under Parker’s nose and she’d have never recognized you. You wanted to come home.”
His ass hit the couch with a bounce.
“It was better when I didn’t feel anything.”
He pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Fucking Parker always worming her way into places she doesn’t belong.” He grumbled.
“Your little thief stole your heart.” Jules chuckled.
“Ain’t you a funny guy?”
With an eye roll he pulled on the rest of his clothes. With one last hug, Jules let Eliot leave his office.
“I expect an invite to dinner at least once a month … Talk to Quinn!” He shouted as an afterthought.
Eliot answered him with a one finger salute.
Eliot had been home three months, and they’d celebrated Rowena being six months old when Eliot finally worked a job where he wasn’t in the background.
No one had looked uncomfortable, starred or acknowledged that Eliot was anything other than the character he was portraying. The mark’s wife and son had tried to outdo each other in an attempt to get in his pants with Parker texting Quinn the gory details.
Quinn’s job had ended several days after the team returned to Portland. He buzzed through the office long enough to drag Eliot across the street to their house, and hadn’t stopped until they were both naked as he growled about every text and picture Parker had sent leaving marks behind to punctuate his displeasure even if it had been part of the con.
Bumps in the road were plentiful. It took months for the nightmares to fade. Quinn sported bruises and black eyes, but refused to let Eliot out of their bed when he woke thrashing.
Sparring between the enforcers often moved from practice to serious when Eliot felt Quinn letting him beat on him as a form of penance for letting Moreau get his hands on Eliot. They attended Rowena’s first birthday party sporting bruised ribs and split knuckles.
Quinn and Eliot had been sparring using various items around the room as weapons. Something Quinn picked up had triggered Eliot, and by the time he’d come back to himself both men were battered and bloody. The episode was also cathartic for Quinn as it broke down the walls around the guilt he carried for the past year.
Sitting in the middle of their gym with blood and sweat running in rivulets down their bodies, Quinn asked Eliot to marry him.
Eliot stared at the younger man in disbelief. Quinn gently pushed the sweaty curls behind Eliot’s ears.
“I was going to ask a year ago, but Flores called, and our lives went to hell.” He blushed deeply. “I still have the rings I bought.”
When Quinn looked up, Eliot’s eyes were clear and warm.
Two days later the Leverage crew crossed the river into Vancouver to stand witness for Eliot and Quinn’s marriage. Hardison had closed The Brew Pub, and when they got back the employees, Sophie’s acting students, and a few of Eliot and Quinn’s friends including Shelley who’d brought Captain Bonanno celebrated Rowena’s first birthday and their marriage.
Their lives settled into a weird rhythm of cons for the crew and jobs for Quinn. Parker wouldn’t marry Hardison, but the hacker did convince the thief to wear ‘his’ ring when they weren’t on a job, and Rowena kept them all honest with themselves.
In celebration of their hard won family and Rowena’s second birthday, Sophie declared a family vacation to New York City. There was shopping for her, theater for her and Nate, pretty baubles in high security museums for Parker, and restaurants for Eliot … A perfect Leverage Consultants vacation.
The weather was perfect their penthouse perfect, the city spread before them while Eliot critiqued their meal holding Rowena in one arm while he and Quinn ate.
Not big on Broadway shows, they’d volunteered to babysit while the others had a night on the town. Quinn looked across the table and pondered the strange turns his life had taken. If you’d have told him six years ago this is where’d he be, he’d have punched you for even hinting at a relationship between him and Eliot Spencer, and babysitting … Pfft, that suggestion would have gotten you laughed out of the room. Now there was nowhere else he’d rather be.
While Quinn was giving Rowena her bath, Eliot sat where he could watch the bathroom door then grabbed Hardison’s computer and started typing. He’d heard a voice in the lobby while they were taking a turn around the block with Ro. A voice he hoped never to hear again.
Staring at the computer he could feel his body preparing itself for battle. A high pitch squeal and a childish giggle pulled his attention from the screen. The warm, loving tones in Quinn’s voice as Rowena splashed bathwater grounded him in the present. He cleared the computer and joined the two most important people in his life.
Dark eyes opened slowly surveying the room. The blue numbers told him it was 3 am, but there was no hint of what had awakened him, his instincts screaming ‘DANGER!’ He sat up and reached for the light, glad for once his wife had remained at home.
“You might not want to do that unless you’re ready to admire your handiwork first hand.” A deep gravel voice came from the shadowed chair by the window.
“Spencer?” He snapped on the bedside lamp, but his assassin turned friend turned savior to his country was still in the shadows. “They said you had disappeared.”
“Shame that’s not quite right-would have tied everything up in a neat little package for you. All that nasty baggage gone-just like that.” The retrieval specialist snapped his fingers.
President Flores shivered at the dead tone in Spencer’s voice. General Flores understood it perfectly.
“You know,” he continued conversationally, “you would think after getting fucked over by my own crew so many times that it wouldn’t matter when someone I considered a friend, who I put my life in jeopardy for not once, but three times, would think it perfectly okay to do the same thing. I mean after all I’m a bad man-a mercenary, Damien Moreau’s pet assassin, I have the blood of countless lives on my soul so that made it perfectly justifiable to convince my lover, with not only a huge chunk of money from the treasury, but a good piece of your personal fortune that putting my life and the lives of my family in the sights of a psychopath was acceptable collateral damage.”
Flores flinched when Eliot leaned forward, but he simply rested his elbows on knees clasping his hands together as he continued. He was captivated by how loquacious the normally taciturn man had become. He must have said it out loud because there was a nasty chuckle from the shadows.
“Got no problem talking when I’ve got something to say, just not so in love with the sound of my own voice that I talk just to make noise.” He stood and walked to the window and into the light though his face was still in the shadows. “Quinn’s usually a bright boy, but you really sold him with how he could protect me, control the scene, and control Damien Moreau.” This time the laugh was bitter. “No one ever controlled Damien. His unpredictability was what got him to where he was until he met the perfect foil to his insanity-Nathan Ford-a psychopathic genius with a Jesuit guilt complex-that and he can still be trained.” Eliot shrugged and turned back toward the bed. “I’m sorry if I ruined your plan for cleaning all the skeletons out of your closet by surviving.”
“I knew you would survive.” Flores stated quietly, unable to predict the outcome of this conversation.
“I almost didn’t. You almost succeeded where countless interrogators on countless missions didn’t.”
Flores paled as Spencer stepped into the light. The ruggedly handsome face he’d last seen tan and smiling across his dining room table was still handsome, but the thin silvery lines would be carried forever as a reminder of a betrayal of love and trust. He moved back into the dark.
“When I came here tonight I didn’t know whether to kill you or leave you with your own reminder of the consequences of your actions.”
Pale predator’s eyes watched the man sitting on the edge of the bed. Flores saw the thin band as the left hand as it tugged on the patch of whiskers under the full lower lip, but before he could appeal to whatever the ring meant, Spencer continued his monologue.
“But I am not that man anymore. When I was lost in the nowhere, a good friend told me to sit tight that someone would come for me because he had seen how much I mattered to them. So I’m not going to kill you. That would be too easy for you, and I want you to live a very long life with the memories of what you did, and what you lost.”
Eliot cut him off with a shake of his head.
“We will never speak again.”
He threw something on the bed as he walked out of the room.
A shaking hand reached out and turned the picture Spencer had thrown down to the light. It was a picture taken of the Flores family when Spencer had introduced them to Quinn. He remembered the peace and happiness Spencer had projected that day. Tears filled his eyes as it finally struck home what he’d lost by his own hand.
Stepping outside Flores’ hotel room, he stopped and breathed, letting everything he’d just gone through slough away like a snake shedding its skin. Always aware, he was not surprised at the honeyed voice in his ear.
“Can we close this book, now?”
Turning his head to meet whiskey colored eyes, he smiled.
Side by side they walked away from the past and into the future.
~ Fini ~