"Go, go, go!"
Hardison didn't need Eliot's barked orders to get him to run for the car as fast as he could. The guards with guns chasing them was more than sufficient inspiration. Parker reached the car ahead of him and she pulled open the back passenger's door before climbing into the front next to Nathan. He reached the car and felt Eliot's hand pushing him into the car. He slid over and waited for Eliot to scramble in when he heard the gun shot.
Eliot's body jerked and started to slide to the ground. Hardison grabbed him by the collar and belt and hauled him into the car over his body. He leaned over and pulled the door shut.
"Go, he yelled.
He pushed Eliot's legs to the side and pulled himself into the seat behind Parker.
"Eliot, man, you okay?" he asked. He looked over at Eliot to tease him for not being quick enough to get out of the way and the words died on his lips. "Oh God," he moaned. Eliot lay with his head on the door arm rest, his eyes starring sightlessly at the back of the driver's seat. A small trail of blood ran from the bullet hole in the center of his forehead.
"What?" Parker asked as she turned around in her seat. "Oh, that's not good," she whispered.
"What? What's not good?" Nathan asked as he glanced at the rear view mirror.
"He's dead," Hardison choked out. He reached over and closed Eliot's eyes. "What do we do now?"
"I'll take care of it, Alec. I'll drop you and Parker off at the office. You can tell Sophie what happened and I'll take care of Eliot. Just make sure that there isn't anything showing that would alarm a passing motorist."
"Alarm a passing motorist? Eliot has a hole in his forehead and I'm pretty sure the back of his head is missing. What could possibly alarm a passing motorist?" His voice kept rising until he was yelling at the end of his speech.
"Hardison, take a deep breath. Make sure that there isnít any blood thatís visible from the street. Straighten Eliot out to make it look like heís sleeping. We donít want to draw any one's attention."
Hardison stared at the back of Nateís head. "Youíre awfully cold. Donít you give a damn that Eliotís dead?"
"Yes, Hardison. I do give a damn, but freaking out isnít going keep us from getting killed."
Hardison couldn't think of an argument to that and he really didn't feel like trying to make something out of nothing, so he gently arranged Eliot's body to look as if he was just sleeping. He knew Eliot couldn't feel anything, but the older man had been a friend. No matter how much he'd teased the retrieval specialist, he'd respected and liked him. He hoped Nate was going to do something respectful with Eliot. He didn't want to think of the retrieval specialist dumped out in the wood somewhere. He thought about asking but he really didn't think he wanted to know what Nate had planned. He glanced over at Parker, but she was determinedly staring out the window.
It seemed like forever before Nate pulled up to the front of the office building but it was probably only fifteen minutes or so. Nate brought the car to a halt. "Sophie is going to ask where Eliot and I are. It's up to you what you want to tell her."
Hardison nodded and got out of the car. He opened Parker's door and waited for her to slowly exit. He leaned down and looked at Nate. "Take good care of him, man."
Nate nodded and gave him a small smile. "I will, Alec. I promise."
Hardison gave one last glance back at Eliot and then closed the door and led Parker into the building without a look back. He heard Nate pull away from the curb and he swallowed back a sob. He was not going to break down in front of any one else. He just had to hold on until tonight and then he was going to have one massive freak out session. They avoided the bar and headed straight for the elevator, even though Alec wanted a drink in the worst way. He hit the button for the elevator to take them up to the office. He really wasn't looking forward to having to face Sophie.
"You think we should tell her?" Hardison asked Parker.
Parker shrugged. "If we don't, what do we tell her?"
"Good point, and she'd be really pissed once she does find out. I vote for telling her."
Hardison nodded to himself. He wasn't sure how to do it, but he knew that he was going to have to be the one to break the news. The elevator finally arrived and they stepped into it. He pressed the button for the second floor and the doors closed.
The ride up was silent. Hardison paused at the door to Nate's apartment. He glanced over at Parker. She didnít say anything. He took a deep breath and opened the door.
Sophie came out of the kitchen. "There you are. I was wondering what was taking so long." She looked over their shoulders. "Whereís Nate and Eliot?"
Hardison stepped into the apartment. "Sophie, you might want to sit down."
She looked between the two. "Whatís happened? Where are they?"
"On our way out, some of the guards saw us. They chased us out of the building. We got to the car, but before Eliot could get in," he paused for a moment. "One of the guards fired his gun. Eliot was shot in the head."
Sophie gasped. "Shot in the-. Did Nate take him to the hospital? Is that where they are?"
Hardison grasped her hand. "Sophie, Eliotís dead."
He caught her as her knees buckled from under her. Parker ran to get a chair. He lowered Sophie into it. "Parker, go get her some water."
"No. I donít need water. Whereís Nate?" She asked.
"He took Eliotís body. He wouldnít tell me where he was going."
She looked up at him with a lost look on her face. "Alec, howÖ"
He knew what she was asking. "You know how Eliot was. He made sure Parker and I got to the car first. He was always trying to protect us. They justÖ they just got the drop on us.
"He was waiting for me to get in the car. If Iíd been faster, or if-"
"No!" she interrupted. "Donít do that, Alec. You know he wouldnít want that." She looked over at Parker. "Parker, are you okay?" She held out her hand to Parker, who tucked her hands under her arms and pulled back, looking at the ground. Sophie dropped her hand and looked back at Hardison. "IÖ Iíll be in my office." She stood up and with a last look at the other two team members she headed into her office.
Hardison looked over at Parker. "Do you need anything?" he asked her. Parker shook her head without looking at him. "Okay, Iíll be in my office. Come get me if you need me." He waited for a few moments before heading for his office. He passed by Sophieís and through the glass he could see her crying at her desk. He paused and then headed into his office and shut the door behind him.
He leaned back against the door and a sob escaped him. He swallowed back another sob and headed for his desk. He was going to find enough information to bury that company.
Nathan pulled into the garage of Eliotís house. He didnít know if Eliot had built the structure or if it had come with the house, but he was grateful for it. It would have been hard to explain to Eliotís neighbors why he was carrying Eliotís dead body into the house.
He turned off the car and looked in the back seat. Hardison had done a good job of arranging Eliot so that he would look asleep to a passer by. Nate got out of the car and opened the door leading to the house. He took a quick look to make sure that there was nothing in his way before opening the door to the back seat and pulling Eliot out. He carried Eliot into the living room and dumped him onto the couch. He arranged the body so that he was lying in what would be a comfortable position. He straightened Eliot's neck and was relieved to see that Hardison had been wrong. The back of Eliot's head was in one piece.
He stared at Eliot for a few moments before looking around Eliot's house. He carefully avoided looking at the bottles of liquor he could see in a cabinet in the other room. He headed for the kitchen and looked in Eliot's refrigerator. He found a pitcher of iced tea and one of lemonade. He poured himself a glass of iced tea and went back into the living room. He took a seat in one of the wing backs and waited.
Half an hour later his attention was drawn to Eliot as Eliot jerked and coughed. "Welcome back," he said, taking a sip of tea.
Eliot glared at him as he continued to cough. Finally he caught his breath and sat up. "Dammit. At least tell me the others didn't see," Eliot begged.
"'Fraid I can't do that. You freaked Hardison out pretty good. He was convinced the back of your head was blown off." Eliot reached back and felt the back of his head. "It's all there. You were far enough away that the bullet didn't have enough velocity to go all the way through." He nodded toward the bullet that was laying on the ground. "That was still inside."
"I hate it when that happens." Eliot picked up the bullet and looked it over. "Nine mil." He sighed and looked up at Nate. "Well, I guess this is it. I can give you the name of a good retrieval specialist. He's trustworthy and I think'll fit good with the crew."
"Nope," Nate said nonchalantly.
"Nope? What do you mean nope? You don't think you'll need another heavy hitter?"
"No, I don't think I'll need another retrieval specialist. I still have you."
Eliot looked at Nate with a puzzled frown. "Hardison and Parker saw me shot. They know I'm dead. I can't go back to work with them."
"Why not? The alcohol really did damage your brain hasn't it? Did you forget the fact that we are trying to keep a low profile? Letting people know that there are people who can't die isn't a good way of keeping a low profile."
"They won't tell anyone. Your secret will be safe with them."
Eliot glared at Nate. "My secret huh? You don't trust them enough to let them know that you're an Immortal too?"
"If it will get you to stay, then I'll tell them." Nate set his glass down and sat forward. "I know they are thieves and conmen, but they are also our family. They'd do anything to protect us. You didn't see Alec and Parker when they thought you were dead. Trust me, they'll be so glad that your alive, they won't focus on the fact that you're Immortal for too long."
Eliot gave him a suspicious look, but Nate knew that the other man was still out of sorts from the head shot. There were some who would say that running a con on a person with diminished capacity was wrong and in most cases Nate would agree with them, but he needed Eliot on the team. Not to mention he knew Eliot would have a lot of fun paying him back for this. Who was he to deprive Eliot of the joy of tormenting him?
"Eliot, I need you on the team."
Eliot sighed and nodded.
Nate grinned in triumph. "Great. Go get cleaned up and weíll head for the office. We donít want them to think you are dead any longer than they have to." He hurried Eliot off. He didnít have much time until Eliot started thinking clearly and he wanted to have him in a place he couldnít easily escape from. Preferably in front of the others.
Within ten minutes they were in the car and heading for his apartment. Five minutes into the drive Eliotís fist crashed down on the arm rest. Nate looked over and saw Eliot glaring at him. He guessed that the brain damage was fully healed.
"You bastard," Eliot rasped. "You donít think Hardisonís not going to focus on the fact that Iím Immortal? Let me out."
"No? Fine, Iíll jump out. Itís not like I wonít heal."
"You promised me that youíd be on the team for me." Nate kept his eyes on the road. He didnít want Eliot to see any of the amusement that he might not be able to hide.
Eliot frowned at him. "I promised you? When did I promise?"
"When you nodded before you went to get cleaned up."
"You think that was a promise?" Eliot asked with a bemused expression.
"Considering the level of brain damage you were still suffering, yes."
"Considering the level of brain damage, nothing I did or said should be taken as binding!"
Nate shrugged. "I think you were healed enough to understand that much. I choose to take it as binding. Your honor wonít let you back out of a promise."
"You keep doing shit like this and Iíll take your head."
Nate grinned in triumph. He knew that tone. It was the voice that said that Eliot gave in and agreed with him.
"Youíd be wise to get that grin off your face, and I donít want to hear any complaining if I end up killing Hardison because he wonít shut the hell up."
Nate wiped the smile from his face. It wasnít easy though. It was a good thing he was sitting down because he felt like dancing a jig. It had been so easy to get Eliot to stay. It was damn near impossible to get Eliot to do something he didnít want to do, which meant that Eliot really did want to stick around.
"So how are we going to do this?" Eliot asked.
"Tell them Iím not dead. I donít think just blurting it out would be a good idea."
Nate couldnít argue with that. "Well, I was figuring youíd wait out in the hall. Iíd go into the apartment and Hardison will ask what I did with your body. I thought I would just go from there and start explaining things to them. When they demand proof, thatís when youíd come in."
Eliot was silent for a moment. "And we made you the mastermind of our team. What were we thinking?"
"Do you have a better idea?" Eliot was silent. "Yeah, I didnít think so."
Nate maneuvered the car into the reserved parking spot in the building garage. "Okay, come on. Time to face the music."
Eliot got out of the car. "I still canít believe Iím doing this. The one thing I swore I wasnít ever going to do again."
Nate looked at Eliot sympathetically. "Didnít go well the last time, huh?" He pressed the button for the elevator.
Eliot glared at Nate. "Itís never gone well. Not once has someone finding out what I am ended up positive."
"Really? In all of your years, youíve never had anyone take it well?"
Eliot snorted. He got into the elevator and pressed the button for the second floor. He leaned back against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest. "Well, if you want to call, being shot at, stabbed, hunted, or hanged people taking it well."
"When was the last time you told someone?" Nate asked.
"I donít remember exactly. Sometime around the Civil War I think. After that I gave up."
Nate nodded. "Times have changed, Eliot. People are more used to the fantastic than they were back then."
"Yeah, well, weíll see." Eliot stood up and looked away.
"Just donít take my head when I say ĎI told you soí," Nate said with a smile. The smile grew to a grin when Eliot didnít respond.
The elevator stopped and the doors opened and they stepped out into the hall. Nate strode over to the door. "Iíll come get you when itís time. Make yourself comfortable."
Eliot looked around the sparse hallway and snorted. "Yeah. Right."
Nate gave him an understanding look and then opened the door to the apartment. None of the others were in sight. He headed toward the offices. He could see Sophie through the glass of her office door. She was wiping her face.
He knocked gently before opening it. "Hey," he said softly. "How are you doing?"
She looked up at him and tears welled up in her eyes. "Oh Nate," she sobbed.
"Hey, hey, itís okay. I promise, Sophie, itís okay." He hurried to her side and pulled her to him. "Come on, letís get the others. We need to talk."
He led her out of the office and into the living room. "Take a seat. Iíll be right back." He waited until she sat down before heading to get the others. He knocked on Hardisonís door and then opened it. Hardison was seated at his desk punching away at the keyboard.
"Alec, could you come out into the living room? We need to talk," Nate said.
"Yeah, let me save this and Iíll be right there," Alec said not looking up from the computer screen.
Nate shut the door. He wasnít going to make Alec face him until Alec could clean up. Heíd seen the tear tracks on the younger manís face. He headed for Parkerís office last. He was hoping she was in there and hadnít taken off somewhere to grieve. He tapped on the door and pulled back as the door was yanked open.
"What?" Parker demanded.
"I want to talk to everyone in the living room. We have things we need to discuss."
"Fine," Parker said shortly. Nate was forced to step back as she came out of her office and marched down the hall. He followed her down the hallway. The moment he stepped into the living room, Hardison started asking questions.
"What did you do with Eliot? You werenít gone long, you didnít just leave him somewhere did you? Like the woods?"
Nate held up his hand to stop the flood of words. "I didnít leave him in the woods. I didnít do anything with him."
"You didnít do anything with him? Heís still in your car?" Hardison interrupted. He leapt to his feet and headed for the door. Nate tried to stop him, but Alec made it to the front door and threw it open. He came to a halt at the sight of Eliot leaning against the hallway across from the office. Alec stared at Eliot, his mouth opening and closing but no sound escaped.
Eliot looked past Alec and raised an eyebrow at Nate. "It didnít go well?" he asked.
"He didnít let me finish. He just took off," Nate replied.
"What did you say to him?"
"He wanted to know what I did with your body, I said I hadnít done anything, he took that to mean you were still in my car."
Eliot shook his head. "Told you it wouldnít work." He turned his attention to Hardison. "Alec, itís okay." He took a step towards Alec. He started to reach out to the younger man, but Sophieís shriek halted him.
Eliot winced. "Hey, Sophie."
She jumped into his arms. "They said you were dead," she cried.
Eliot glanced over at Nate, his expression clearly begging for help. Nate just grinned at him. Eliotís expression changed to a promise of a long slow death for the other man. He turned his attention back to Sophie and he patted her on the back.
"I know, Sophie, I know. Why donít we go inside and Iíll explain everything. I really donít want to do this out in the hallway."
Sophie reluctantly released her grip on Eliot, but kept a hold of his arm. Alec stepped to the side to let Eliot into the apartment, but kept his gaze locked onto the older man. Parker stood next to the couch.
"Hey, Parker," Eliot said. Parker gave him no response. She just continued to stand there with her arms wrapped around her middle. Eliot looked over at Nate.
"Okay, people, into the living room." Nate herded the team in front of him. He waited until the team settled into their usual seats. "Okay, as we can all see Eliot isnít dead."
"Yeah and Iím kinda wondering how that can be. Cuz I saw the bullet hole man. There was no way you survived that," Hardison interrupted.
"Youíre right. I couldnít have survived it, and I didnít. I was dead, Alec," Eliot replied.
"And yet youíre sitting right here, breathing and talking. So what, are you a zombie? Or how about one of the undead?" Alec snarked.
Eliot took a deep breath. He knew that being sarcastic was how Alec hid, so he wasnít going to respond in kind, though he was sure Alec would think he was. "No, Alec, Iím not. Iím immortal."
Alec scoffed. "Immortal? What does that mean exactly?"
"It means I canít die. Permanently," he interjected before Alec could interrupt. "Unless my head is cut off, then Iím dead for good."
"Your head is cut off?" Sophie asked, her face scrunched up in disgust.
"Yup. I can come back from anything else."
"How do you know that your head getting cut off is the only thing that can kill you for good?" Alec asked.
"My teacher told me. Plus Iíve died a few times in my life. Not to mention seeing whatís happened to others like me."
"Others like you? There are more of you?"
Eliot looked over at Nate with a raised eyebrow. Nate cleared his throat. "Yes, Alec, there are more people out there like Eliot," he paused for a moment, "and me."
Alec turned his head to stare at Nate. "And you? Youíre immortal too?"
"Yeah," Nathan said with a wince.
Alec gaped at him for a moment before shaking himself. "So, how old are you guys? I mean, you don't look older than dirt so you aren't that old, right?"
Eliot and Nathan looked at each other. "I'm three hundred and eighty-eight years old," Eliot said.
"I'm only one hundred and nine," Nathan replied.
Alec sat back in his chair in shock.
"Three hundred and eighty-eight? Seriously?" Sophie asked in shock.
"Yup. I was born in 1620."
"You don't look it," Parker said quietly from her chair.
"Immortals stop aging with our first death. Before that we age like everyone else. We don't know we are immortal, we think we're like everyone else. Then we die and come back. Some people are lucky and are alone when it happens but others aren't so lucky. They die in front of people. That usually doesn't end well. There have been cases of immortals being buried alive, or driven out of their homes because they were possessed by demons. We've become very gun shy about people finding out what we are."
"Is that what happened to you? Did you die in front of people?" Sophie asked Eliot.
"No, I was lucky. I was on my way to a military post to train some horses. My horse spooked and threw me."
"Um, what happens if one of you dies at like two months old or something?" Alec asked.
"Then that immortal will be two months old until another immortal finds them and cuts off their head. Their brain won't develop or anything. It would be a horrible thing," Nate broke in. "There is a case of one of us dying at about 13 years old or so, he lasted a surprising length of time. He used the fact that he looked like a kid to lure in sympathetic immortals. He was finally taken down a few years back."
"How did you die?" Parker asked Nate.
"I was in World War Two. I was a spy working with the French underground. There was an air strike. I didn't make it."
Hardison winced. "Man, that sounds like a crappy way to go."
Nate shrugged and took a swig of water. "I don't really remember much about it. I think I was knocked out before I was crushed by the wall. The hard part was digging myself out later. Didn't know what had happened. Everyone thought I got lucky. Hell, I thought I had gotten lucky."
"So how did you find out?"
"That I was immortal? Ran into another one of us. Luckily he was a good guy. Catholic priest. He'd given up the Game, tried to help people. He told me what I was and then found me a teacher. I was taught how to use a sword and I went back to the war."
Hardison frowned. "The Game?"
"Yeah, that's what we call it. It's the rules and the goal of our lives. Or what someone decided was the goal. Apparently there's something that says that there can be only one and that we all have to fight to the death until there is only one of us standing. There are others, myself included, who think the Game is nothing but hogwash. There's no proof that the game exists. Unfortunately there are some immortals who believe it whole-heartedly and have become head hunters. If they find an immortal they try to kill them and take their head.
"There are rules to the game, some of them are iron-clad. Others have a little more leeway." Eliot paused and took a pull from the beer bottle that Nathan had placed in front of him.
"Like what kind of rules?" Alec asked impatiently. He hated the habit that both Eliot and Nathan had of doling out information in little bits.
"Rules like, one on on fighting. No ganging up on one immortal. No involving mortals in the fights. Bladed weapons only. Those are the rules that some immortals have taken to be voluntary. I faced down one who thought it was fun to shoot immortals and while they were down to take their heads. He was real damned shocked when I took his gun from him."
"And rules that aren't voluntary?"
"No fighting on Holy Ground. And that's any Holy Ground. Catholic Church to Pagan circle."
"What happens if someone does?" Sophie asked.
"You know the eruption that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD?" The team nodded. "It's believed that two immortals fighting on Holy Ground caused Vesuvius to blow. No one knows for sure, but no one is willing to risk it."
Alec swallowed hard. "Yeah, yeah that... that sounds like a great idea. No testing that one."
"So, can we be done with the questions for now? Because I really don't like talking about this. You know the basics. You want to know more, ask Nate. I'll be in my office." Eliot rose to his feet and grabbed his beer.
Alec also rose to his feet. He walked over to Eliot's side. "Yeah, we can be done for now. But man, I'm so glad you are alive."
Eliot tensed as Alec grabbed him and wrapped his arms around the immortal and held him in a tight hug. "Breathing is still needed for immortals, Hardison."
Alec let go and stepped back. "Yeah, yeah, sorry about that."
Eliot patted Hardison on the shoulder. "Yeah, well, just don't do it again." He gave them all one last look and then headed for his office.
Alec collapsed back into his chair. "Man. This... this is insane." He glared up at Nate. "Why didn't you tell us? Why did you let us think Eliot was dead?"
"I couldn't tell you without Eliot's permission. I needed him to be willing to come out to you. It's not easy. Especially for the older immortals. Think about it. When he was born, and first died? People were still being burnt at the stake for being witches. He died before the Salem Witch Trials. They had to learn to hide themselves. For us younger immortals its not as bad. Most people who can't handle it just leave. There's not real risk to us. If they went to the press everyone would think they were insane."
Alec grimaced in understanding. "So you knew that he was an immortal when you first met him?"
Nate nodded. "Yup."
"How? I mean, do you guys have a special handshake or something?"
Nate laughed at Alec's question. "No, no secret handshake. We have a sort of alarm system. We can feel each other. It's hard to explain. It's kind of like a mild electric shock. If another immortal comes within a certain distance we know it. The older immortals have a better alarm system. They can detect immortals from further away. It's one of the reasons I had so much trouble catching him. He could feel me long before I could feel him."
Alec raised an eyebrow. "That seems awful handy for him. How did you ever manage to catch him?"
Nate gave him a wry smile. "I'd catch him when he let me catch him. Sometimes it worked to his advantage to get caught. Sometimes we were going after the same item for the same client. A client of IYS wouldn't trust us to be able to find their item so they would hire Eliot." Nate grinned. "Those were kind of fun."
"I still can't believe he's older than you," Sophie interrupted. "I would have figured that you might have been born three hundred years ago, not Eliot."
Nate shrugged. "It's different for the older immortals. They've had a lot of practice at blending in. They've had to. Can you imagine what it would be like to be burnt on the stake, or buried alive because they think you are a witch? They are true con men. Their sanity depends on it." He took a deep drink of his coffee. "Some immortals can't handle it. They are so stuck in the time of their birth that they can't deal with the changes. Think about all the things that Eliot has seen. He was here, on this continent before the American Revolution. He's watched Empires come and go."
The team was silent as they thought about what Eliot had seen through his long life. Finally Parker broke the quiet. "So, if you and Eliot can't die, can I use you as a moving target for gun practice?" The team stared at her in shock. She held up her hands. "It was a joke!"
Nathan just gave her a look before standing up. "I'm going to go talk to Eliot for a bit. He's gonna have some things to say to me I'm sure." Alec gave him a smirk that he ignored. Sophie stood up and followed him out of the conference room. He stopped and faced her.
"Why didn't you tell me before?" she asked.
"Because we've learned to keep it quiet. Sophie, I only told Maggie what I was the weekend before our wedding. We are taught to tell people only when we have to."
"How did Maggie react?" she asked softly.
Nate smiled. "She didn't believe me at first. I had to give her a demonstration." He held up a hand to stop her from speaking. "No I didn't kill myself. I just cut my hand. We heal extremely fast. She couldn't ignore that. After that she took a couple of days to figure out how she felt about the whole thing, but in the end she decided that she loved me and she thought I would be a great dad for her baby."
Sophie frowned at him. "Her baby?"
"Immortals can't have kids. We are all sterile. Maggie was pregnant when I met her and she wanted nothing to do with the father. The father didn't want anything to do with them either. I legally adopted Sam. He was every bit my son." He stared over her shoulder lost in the memories for a few moments. He gave himself a slight shake and looked at Sophie.
"Would you have-"
"If you're going to ask if I would ever have told you?" He shrugged. "I don't know. It would depend on where exactly we go."
She looked away from him. "I see."
"I'm sorry. I know it's not easy to hear, but I won't lie to you."
She put on a brave face and faced him. "I understand. Well, you wanted to go talk to Eliot. I'll let you do that."
Nate watched her walk away. He sighed and headed for Eliot's office. He knocked on the door before letting himself in. Eliot looked up at him from his computer and motioned him towards one of the chairs.
"I don't think I'll ever figure out when the best time to tell some one is," Nate groaned as he sat.
Eliot gave him a questioning look.
"Sophie just cornered me in the hallway. She wanted to know why I didn't tell her before. There's no good way to tell someone that it's because you don't trust them."
"Yeah, and Sophie isn't the type to take that well," he said with an understanding smile. "And it's not like you guys have been working on the same side for long. None of us knew how long this whole thing was going to last."
"I wasn't expecting you to be so calm after everything," Nate said settling back into the chair. How ever pissed Eliot might have been at him earlier, he'd obviously gotten over it.
"What would you rather I do? Challenge you? Punch you? It ain't worth it. What ever damage might've been done has been done. I learned to go with the flow a long time ago, Nate."
"So what do you think about their reactions?"
Eliot shrugged. "They seemed to take it okay at the moment. We'll see what happens after they think about for a while."
"So you aren't going to kill me for talking you into this?" Nate asked with a sly grin.
Eliot laughed. "No, I ain't gonna kill you. I'm just gonna make you wish I would. I'm thinking you need some fight practice."
Nate winced and took a sip of his coffee. He knew that Eliot would get back at him for taking advantage of his time of diminished mental capabilities. "Sword or hand to hand?" he asked cautiously.
Eliot's grin looked more than a little evil. "Both."
Nate sighed and stood up. "Let me know when and were. I have to try and figure out how to salvage this con. We still need to help the Dwyer family."
Eliot's expression sobered. "Yeah. If you need any help..." his voice trailed off.
"I'll give you a yell." Nate left the office and Eliot turned back to his computer.
He pulled up his email program and signed in. He opened up a new email and typed in an address. He typed 'FYI' into the subject line and then tabbed down to the message box.
'Victor, just to let you know, the team knows. I died. Nate convinced me to stick around. I might kill him.'
He hit send and signed out. His office door opened and he looked up to find Sophie standing the the doorway.
"Hey, Sophie." He rose to his feet. "You doing okay?" he asked, motioning her into the office.
She closed the door behind her and then walked up to Eliot. She wrapped her arms around him. He gingerly returned the embrace, patting her lightly on the back. "Hey, hey, everything's okay. I promise."
"I can't tell you how relieved I am that you are still alive. When Alec and Parker told me that you were dead-" A sob interrupted her words.
He pushed her back a small amount so that he could look into her eyes. "I'm alive, Sophie. I know it must have been upsetting, but it's over."
She nodded and pulled away. She sat down in the chair that Nate had recently vacated. She looked down at her clasped hands in her lap. "All I could think about was that I hadn't told you how I felt about."
Eliot closed his eyes and ran a nervous hand through his hair. "Sophie, don't let this get to you. It's Nate you're after. Not me."
Sophie looked up at him. "That's where your wrong, Eliot. Yes, I have feelings for Nate. They might even be love, but that doesn't prevent me from having feelings for you. I know that your attracted to Nate, I can see it in your eyes when you watch him. Nate feels the same for you. Nate cares about me. I care about the both of you. The only question is how do you feel about me."
"So what are you asking for, Sophie?" he asked exasperated. "You want us to, what, bed hop? You in Nate's bed tomorrow, then mine the next day?"
"No. That's not what I want. I want all three of us in one bed together."
"Sophie, you're going to have to learn that you don't always get everything you want."
"But I can have this. We can have this. I know Nate would be up for it. All you have to do is agree," Sophie said in a low voice. She rose to her feet and sauntered her way over to Eliot's desk. "Imagine it, Eliot. The three of us in bed together. How would you like it? Would you like to be in the middle, you fucking me while Nate fucks you? Or maybe Nate in the middle. Or me. Would you like to take turns? Just say yes and you can have that."
Eliot looked up at her. "No. I'm not a plaything, Sophie. You say Nate would go for it. I don't know that. And I'm not going to risk this team for a roll in the hay. Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's be fantastic, but I've seen teams break up for less. I know this is partly because you almost lost me today and you want to hold on tight, but I'm not your property." He stood up and took her face between his hands. "Go home. Get some sleep, you be thinking clearer in the morning."
Sophie laughed. "I've been thinking about this for months. Sleeping on it isn't going to change my mind." She pulled her face away from his light grip. "I'll go for now, but I'm not going to give up on this."
"That's fine, but I'm not going to just jump into bed with you. Good night, Sophie."
"Good night, Eliot."
She left the office and Eliot collapsed back into his chair. That woman was a menace to every sane person alive.
Sophie opened Nate's office door without knocking. "Are all immortals so dense?" she asked taking a seat in one of the chairs in front of Nate's desk.
"No, I don't think many of us are dense at all," he replied cautiously. "Those who are don't tend to live a terribly long time unless they have someone helping them. Why?"
"Eliot. I offered him the chance of a lifetime and he turned it down."
"And that chance would be?" He picked up his coffee cup and took a sip.
"An opportunity to have the three of us in bed together."
Nate choked on his coffee. "You what?" he sputtered in between coughs. "Why would you do that?"
"Oh come on, Nate. I've seen you around him. You practically drool when he walks into the room. You love to watch him move."
"I'm appreciating the training that he's received. I'm watching to pick up ideas and suggestions for fighting. Fighting is rather important to my survival."
"Oh please," she scoffed. "You aren't watching his footwork, or his grip. You're watching his ass. No that I blame you of course. It is rather pert and lovely and just waiting for a nice squeeze."
"Oh please, you can't fool me. You aren't a prude and you can't try to make me think you are. Look, you're attracted to Eliot and me. I'm attracted to the both of you. Eliot is attracted to the two of us. What's the problem here? It would be a win-win situation."
"Sophie, I have to concentrate on fixing this job okay? We can talk about this after."
She uncrossed her legs and stood up. "Fine. But I'm not going to forget about this."
"I know you won't, but I really don't have time for this."
She strode out of the office and Nate dropped his head into this hands. He gave a snorting laugh and turned back to his computer. He really didn't have time to deal with Sophie's messed up libido.
Alec knocked on Parker's door. "Come in." He opened the door and saw Parker standing by the window looking out. He stepped inside and closed the door behind him.
"How are you doing?" he asked.
She shrugged. "I'm okay."
"Yeah? Cuz I'm not sure I am. That's some crazy stuff. I mean one minute I've got Eliot's blood and brains on me and the next he's up and talking."
"You never had his blood and brains on you," she chastised.
"I was using it to prove a point. The man was dead, and now he's not. It's crazy."
"I don't know. It kinda makes sense. Eliot is way calmer that I would expect for someone who does what he does. And Nate? He knows way more than any person should know," Parker said, turning to face Alec. "He's way to planny too."
"Planny?" Alec raised an eyebrow in question.
"Yeah, you know, he can come up with plans out of thin air. And now that he's not drinking anymore? Oh he's even worse. Sadistic too."
Hardison frowned at her. "Sadistic? What are you talking about?"
She gave him a look that made it very obvious how stupid she thought he was being. "Like you don't know. Just look at what he did to that guy in the hospital. He made him think he was so sick that he gave himself a nose bleed. Normal people don't do that."
"Well, neither one of them are normal. We know that now." He grinned suddenly. "Of course knowing that they'll come back to life certainly makes interesting possibilities. The next time Eliot annoys me I can shoot him."
"Yeah, cuz when he comes back he won't find a way to get back at you at all."
Alec winced. "Okay so you have a point."
"Look, this is weird. We need time to get used to it. Just, I don't know, go sleep on it."
He stared at her. "Sleep on it? Seriously? That's your advice. Sleep on it."
She shrugged and turned her attention back to the window.
"Fine, I'll sleep on it," he sighed. He left her office and headed back to his.
"Hey, Hardison." Eliot calling him stopped him.
"You wanna come in and talk?"
"Seriously? Talk about what?"
Eliot rolled his eyes. "What do you think, dumbass?"
"Hey, I didn't know if you wanted to talk about it or something else. It might be too personal."
"Please, I've had almost four hundred years to get used to the whole thing. I'll let you know if you get too personal."
"Um, that doesn't mean you'll let me know with a fist right?" Hardison asked while leaning away slightly.
Eliot rolled his eyes. "No, I won't hit you. I'll just tell you."
Hardison straightened and grinned. "All right then. Let's talk."
Eliot sighed as he stepped back to let Alec in. "I'm gonna regret this."
"Nah, this'll be cool. It's us getting closer. Better buds."
"I don't need to be closer to you, Hardison. I'm close enough." Eliot sat down at his desk.
"See, that's part of the problem. You hold your self separate. You say you like being part of a team, but you don't actually want to get close to any of us. You hold us at arms length. Which I understand, it can't be easy trying to hide a secret like your's but man, you can trust us. We ain't gonna break your trust. Well, Sophie did, but she apologized for that and she ain't gonna ever do that again."
"Take a breath, Hardison. Look, when I was born it was every man for himself. I got a job with the Spanish military training their horses. I went with them to the new world. Yeah, I had to trust the soldiers around me, but we were never close. Getting close to people, that's not what I know, or what I'm comfortable with."
"Aw see, that's what I'm talking about. Sharing yourself with us. Can't you feel us getting closer with every word?"
"Oh for the love of-. I knew this was a mistake." He started to stand up.
"No, no. Don't go. I'll stop. But seriously, it must suck for pretty much everyone you know and care about to die. You have some immortal friends though right?"
Eliot relaxed back into his chair. "I had a few, but even they've been killed. My teacher died about ten years ago. He was the last one until Nate."
"That sucks. What happened to your teacher? Another immortal?"
Eliot nodded. "Yeah. Something bad happened and he changed. I was on my way to take him down myself but another one of us did it."
"Wait, you were going to kill your own teacher? This isn't like an immortal rite of passage is it?"
"No, just drop it, Hardison. It's not something that most immortals even believe is real, much less want to talk about."
"Okay, cool. Cool. So is your name really Eliot Spencer?"
"No. It's a name I took a few years back. And no, I'm not going to tell you what names I've used in the past. You like challenges."
"I thought you were going to answer questions."
"You have to ask the right questions."
Hardison sighed. Eliot was never going to change. He sat up straight. "Hey, wait, you mentioned a nephew before. What's up with that? And that girl with the horses. I thought you two grew up together."
Eliot smiled to himself. Alec was always going to bounce back from any roadblock put in front of him and find a way around them.
"I was helping to train the family's horses. She was around a lot. She was sixteen when I started there and nineteen when I left the last time. She reminded me of one of my past wives. Same kind of fire and passion. It was easy to fall for her.
"As for the nephew, there are people who know who I am and I guess have kind of adopted me. Linda's one of them. I met her when she was twelve. I saved her life. She'd been kidnapped and I rescued her. I was killed during the rescue however and she saw me come back to life. She protected me and my secrets. I've watched over her ever since. I'm Uncle Eliot to her son."
"Wow, I thought no one else knew about your immortality?"
"Linda is different. I didn't tell her, she found out. She was also a kid. Kids take things like this better. It's not so fantastic to them."
Hardison nodded. "I can see that." He eyed Eliot speculatively. "So you have a sword? Can I see it? Why kind is it?"
Eliot snickered. "I wondered how long it was going to take you to ask that." He stood up and headed for his closet. "When I'm here I keep it in the closet. Best place to hide it." He pulled the sword out. It was a Spanish Saber.
"Huh. I'd expected something a little more." He waved his hands through the air. "Showy, I guess."
Eliot frowned at him. "Showy? Do I look like the showy type to you?"
Hardison held up his hands. "Showy was not the word I was looking for. It's just, with the martial arts you do I guess I was expecting something like that. You know a katana or Chinese sword. Not a... a..." He floundered for a word that wouldn't insult the other man.
"It's a sword, Hardison. It happened to be the sword I had on me when my teacher found me. It's what I learned to fight with. None of the other swords showed a massive improvement and were less familiar to me."
"Okay. Okay, I got ya. So you mentioned this teacher of yours. Who was he?" Hardison asked. He breathed a small sigh of relief. Eliot's temper wasn't always so easily appeased. "There couldn't have been that many immortals in the new world."
Eliot shrugged. "I'm sure there wasn't, but I got lucky. His name was Kol'Tec. He was Souix. He saw me before my death and knew what I was so he started following me. Chances were good I'd die early. People didn't last long where we were. Too many dangers. He was there when I came back to life and told me what I was." The smile on Eliot's face was a sad one. "He was a good man. He helped people."
"I take it he's not alive anymore?" Hardison asked gently.
Eliot shook his head. "No, he tried to help the wrong person and it backfired on him."
"I'm sorry. That really sucks, man. Did it happen a long time ago?"
"No. He was killed in 1995."
"Damn, I'm really sorry. Did you ever get the guy who did it?"
Eliot shrugged. "It was taken care of." He looked at Hardison. "If that's all you have for me?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'll, uh, I'll get back to you if I have any more questions. Gotta let this all settle in my brain you know. It's not every day you find out that immortals are real and that two of your teammates are some of them." Hardison left the office and Eliot resisted the urge to bang his head on the desk.
He still couldn't believe that he let Nate talk him into staying. Even with the brain damage he should have known better. He was starting to go soft. He actually liked these people. They drove him insane on a regular basis, but they were still good people. He'd been touched by how hard they seemed to have taken his death. He wasn't used to people actually caring about him. Even Amy had seemed more in love with the idea of him rather than him.
His computer beeped as a new email came in. It was from Nate. He opened it and quickly scanned the short message. Nate was telling them all to go home and get a good nights sleep and that in the morning they were finishing up the case and they already had another one lined up. Something about recovering funds from an indicted funds manager that was under house arrest and being watched by the FBI. Oh yeah. That should be fun.
Eliot stood up and stretched. First thing he planned to do when he got home was to work off some of the energy that coming back to life had left him with. He knew some immortals were exhausted by the process of reviving but it had always made him feel like he could run for hours without a rest. He had set up the gym in his house in California with that in mind. It had a professional treadmill, punching bag, bench press, and a sparring area. He occasionally had a guest who was almost as skilled as he was in hand to hand combat.
He still missed that house. He'd been working to set up a similar set up in his new place in Boston but he hadn't had much time. He'd been able to transfer the equipment, but finding room to put a sparring area was proving to be more difficult.
He grabbed his jacket and headed out of the office. He was stopped by Parker waiting for him at the door.
"You coming back tomorrow?" she asked. She stood with her arms crossed and a determined look on her face.
"Yeah, Parker. I'm coming back. No sense in running now, the cat's out of the bag."
"Good." She darted forward and wrapped her arms around before quickly stepping back. "I'm glad you aren't dead," she said quickly before hurrying out of Nate's apartment.
He smiled and laughed as he headed out. He looked over his shoulder and saw Nate watching him. "Don't look too smug, Nate. You and I still have a sparring session to take care of."
Eliot grinned as the smug look on Nate's face vanished. He gave Nate a wave and left the apartment. He made his way to his own apartment. He opened the door and tossed his keys on the table before spinning and grabbing the fist that had been heading for the side of his head. He grabbed the man's wrist and felt a leather brace. He shifted and used the other person's momentum to toss them to the floor. He took a defensive stance as the attacker jumped to their feet. The leather brace fell to the floor.
He blocked a leg swipe and snapped a punch to the other man's face. He stood up straight at the grunt that was expelled from the other person as the punch landed.
"Vic, what the hell are you doing here?" Eliot asked as he flipped on the light. His attacker had his head back and was pinching his nose. He grinned at Eliot with teeth stained with the blood streaming from his nose.
"I think you broke my nose," Vic complained.
"You deserved it." Eliot went to the kitchen and grabbed a towel and tossed it to the other man. "I'll ask again, why are you here?"
Vic caught the towel and held it up to his nose. "I got your email and had to find out the whole story. You told your team? Seriously?"
Eliot rolled his eyes. "I didn't really have much of a choice." He pulled a gel pack from the freezer and wrapped it in another towel. "Has the bleeding stopped?"
Vic pulled the towel away and gingerly checked. "Yeah, I think so."
"Good, here." He held out the wrapped pack. After Vic took it Eliot headed for the living room. On his way he picked up the leather wrist brace from the floor. The laces were snapped. He dropped down into the recliner. He watched as Vic stumbled over and sat down on the couch.
"So what do you mean you didn't have a choice? Did you come back to life in front of them?"
Eliot tossed him the brace. "You'll need stronger laces for that if you want it to survive to cover up that god awful tattoo on your wrist. You'd think the Watcher's would have a better place to put that thing. Any way, no, I didn't come to life in front of them, but I had been shot in the head and I was fully healed when Nate got me to agree to stick around. It happened too fast."
Vic laughed. "You got played by a guy less than half your age. That's hilarious."
"I'm glad you find it amusing. I got to spend the afternoon answering questions and dodging the sexual advances of Sophie."
Vic stared at him. "Seriously? What did Sophie want?"
Eliot shook his head. "You really don't want to know. Oh, you might want to tell Nate's watcher that he and I are going to be having a nice sparring session in a few days."
"Ooooo really? I'm so going to be there. I wanna watch you kick his ass."
Eliot glared at Vic. "Go. Talk to Nate's watcher. I'm gonna work out, take a shower, make dinner and go to bed."
"Fine. I'll see you later man." He gave Eliot's knee a light tap with his fist and then climbed out the window.
Eliot rolled his eyes. "Moron." He stood up and headed for his bedroom to change into his workout clothes. He'd worry about what today's events meant later.
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