Title: Will You Remember Me
Characters: Eliot Spencer/Nathan Ford
Word Count: 3,162
Summary: Prompt: Eliot … Amnesia
He was awake, but he didn’t open his eyes or change his breathing. He couldn’t remember where he was, so he was taking no chances. He listened trying to determine where he was just by the sounds. Where was quickly clarified when the intercom called a doctor to maternity.
He opened his eyes just a bit checking the room through the screen of his eyelashes. A dark curly head rested by his hip. Nate. Nate was holding his hand. Why would Nate be holding his hand? Not that it was a bad thing, but really. Had he been hurt that bad?
He started doing a mental tally on his body. Head pounding, vision a little blurry must have been pretty bad if the team was sitting vigil. He raised the hand Nate wasn’t using as a pillow. Bandage over his right temple, ribs bruised, not broken, cut on his left side. He was sure there were other bruises, but his head seemed to be the worst of the damage.
He should wake Nate and send him home to sleep instead of drooling on his hand. There was a fluttering in his chest at the thought of the older man spending time in a despised hospital room just so he wouldn’t wake up alone. Though it was probably to make sure he didn’t inadvertently hurt anyone when he woke up hurt in a strange place.
He gently pulled his hand out of Nate’s grasp. His fingers twitched to bury themselves in the curly brown hair to pet Nate awake, but the retrievalist curled his fingers to keep from touching. Nathan Ford was not for the likes of Eliot Spencer.
It only took a moment for the nurse to answer his buzz.
“Mr. Baker. Good to see you’re awake. Your brother’s been beside himself. None of your friends could talk him into going home. Let me page your doctor.”
The enforcer just stared as the nurse left chattering after she’d taken his vitals. How long had he been out that Nate was worried enough to sit vigil over him? Baker … Brothers … They must be using their Tom and Mark Baker, personas they had used when Nate was in the rehab center. The ex-investigator jerked awake when the doctor entered with the still chattering nurse. Bloodshot blue eyes snapped to Eliot. His face lit up when he when he saw the long-haired man was awake.
A short time later, the joy left Nathan’s face. When the doctor asked Eliot the date, they found the hitter had lost four months. Four months ago, Nate and Eliot were still dancing around their feelings for each other. Four months ago they were only teammates, not lovers.
Trying to maintain a calm façade, Nate left the hospital room with the excuse of calling the team and letting them know the good news. After explaining what Eliot did not remember, Nate asked them to double check Eliot’s attic room at the mansion and clear out any items that would show that he and the specialist were sharing a bed.
For all that his head pounded, Eliot could tell something wasn’t right, something that had to do with his missing time. The expression on Nate’s face when he got the date wrong was like someone had died. Instinct told him that he needed to find out what it was and fix it soon before Nate turned back to the bottle.
Sophie wasn’t the only one who’d had unrequited feelings for the ex-investigator. Eliot used to let the man get close during their chases just so he could watch him work, study his behavior, get to know him the only way a retrieval specialist could get to know an insurance cop.
He’d once sat in a booth, back to back with Nathan and his cronies when they were having an after work drink, and listened to the man go on about Sam and Maggie. They were Nate’s world, but unlike Sophie, Eliot had stayed in the shadows.
His thoughts were interrupted by the doctor coming back to start running test on his head and his hematoma. He was just about to tell the doctor where to shove his tests when he caught the pleading expression on Nate’s face over the doctor’s shoulder. With bad grace he gave his consent.
Having sent his teammates home, but not feeling safe sleeping in the hospital, Eliot catnapped until the doctor made his rounds the next morning. Eliot explained that he was leaving that day with or without consent, so the tests had better have been fine.
The doctor could find no reason that would convince him to stay so Eliot changed into the clothes Nate had brought and called a cab. Eliot slipped in the door and was about to call out when he heard voices in the conference room.
“I don’t get it.” Parker whined. “Why don’t you just tell him? You know how Eliot feels about lies.”
Eliot stopped. He stepped over to the staircase.
“We’re not lying to him Parker. The doctor says it’s better for him to remember on his own.” Nate explained patiently.
“I still think you ought to tell him. Isn’t that what you do when you’re a couple? You tell each other stuff.” Parker was insistent.
“Parker, we’re doing this for Eliot’s own good.” Sophie’s British accent drifted out of the room.
Eliot was shocked. He and Nate were a couple. They weren’t going to tell him. Nate didn’t want to tell him. Yes, he’d heard the part about remembering on his own, but still, why would Nate agree to that? Maybe Nate didn’t want to be with him anymore … Maybe that was why he agreed with the doctor. He was so consumed by his own pain he almost missed hearing Hardison.
“Man I gotta agree with Parker. Since that Davids thing, Eliot’s hinky as hell about secrets. He finds out before he remembers, and … Well personally … I think he’ll bail. We need him worse than he needs us. Well except for Nate here … I’m just sayin’, ya know.”
They must have been giving Alec ‘the look’ that told the hacker he was pushing the envelope since his voice trailed off.
“No, we follow the doctor’s recommendations. We’ll wait and see if he remembers.” Nate’s voice was firm.
“Yeah well, what if he doesn’t remember?” Parker was getting petulant.
“I don’t know, Parker. I haven’t thought that far ahead. I’m hoping he’ll remember before any of this becomes relevant.” Nate sighed.
“You’re supposed to know. You always have a plan and a plan B. Eliot’s my friend so I want to know what the plan is besides ‘wait and see’. That’s not a plan, Nathan.” Now she was scolding him.
Eliot’s heart warmed as he listened to Parker. The two most annoying members of the team who were the ones that he always told exactly what he thought, and not always in a nice way, were his biggest defenders. Who’da thought? Suddenly exhausted, Eliot went up the stairs without letting anyone know he was in the house.
Eliot locked the attic door and slept through the panic it caused when Nate checked with his doctor about when he could be released. He slept through Nate yelling at Hardison to track the enforcer down. He started to stir when Parker slid in the window, but on some level he recognized the thief as not being a threat and relaxed into a deeper sleep.
Sophie, Nate and Hardison were about to throttle Parker. The thief had appeared an hour ago, perched herself on the arm of the couch and grinned like the Cheshire cat.
A noise from the kitchen had the three charging that way with a still grinning Parker strolling behind. There they found a freshly showered Eliot rummaging through the refrigerator.
Not thinking, Nate engulfed the shorter man in a hug like he was something precious. He buried his nose in the damp hair and took a deep breath of the scent that had come to mean home to him.
“God we thought we’d lost you. Where have you been?” Nate scolded.
“Yeah, man. The hospital said you checked out this morning.” Hardison added.
Still stung by the conversation he’d overheard, Eliot pulled away from Nate with a scowl.
“I was upstairs sleepin’.” He growled. “Parker was up there. She knew where I was.” He glared at the blonde thief.
The others turned to glare at the blonde, but she was only interested in Eliot, who was back in the refrigerator.
“How’d you know I was there! You were asleep.” She glared with her bottom lip stuck out.
“I always know when someone’s around, Parker. I feel your crazy vibes or somethin’.” He wrinkled his nose at her as if to say ‘so there’.
“If ya’ll get the hell out of my kitchen so I can fix somethin’ to eat, I’d appreciate it.” The sharp growl sent them all scrambling, except Parker.
“Did you really know I was there?” She whispered.
“Yeah, Darlin’ I did.” He grinned and gave her ponytail a tug.
“How?” She had to know how she’d been caught. She hated repeating mistakes.
“You stole some of Sophie’s lilac bath stuff, didn’t ya?” Eliot grinned wolfishly at the young woman.
“Weeelll, okay , maybe. How’d you know?” she jumped on the counter next to him.
“Lilacs make my nose itch.” Eliot whispered in her ear.
A smile lit up her face as she hopped off the counter after giving the retrievalist a hard squeeze.
“You told me a secret!” She squealed and ran out of the room.
With a slight smile, he continued to prepare dinner.
Everyone chattered about the cases they were looking into, what information Hardison had found, and just mundane things for the team of thieves. Relegating himself back to the fringes of the group, Eliot sat and listened. When he finished, he grabbed a beer and shut himself in his office.
Whenever anyone stuck their head in the door, it was quickly withdrawn when met with a growl and a snarky remark.
After four hours of trying to catch up on the last four months, Eliot pulled off his glasses and rubbed his tired eyes. His head was pounding again so he grabbed a couple aspirin and headed for the kitchen. He continued up to the attic without running into anyone though he had a feeling Parker was lurking close by.
They fell into a pattern of sorts. The other four members of the team were trying to censor their words and actions around Eliot, and Eliot resenting it. He’d come up on them several times, arguing. When they’d notice him they all shut down, even going as far as Sophie yelling at him to quit skulking around, which set Parker off yelling at the grifter for yelling at Eliot. He’d get flashes from the Holder job in Eugene, working on the mansion. One dream woke him night after night, but it never got any clearer and it always left him shaking in a cold sweat.
He found files in his room showing that he’d been scouting various pieces of property around Portland to use as a bolt hole. When the dreams woke him or his friends got particularly obnoxious, he’d leave the mansion, not returning until everyone was gone or in bed.
And Nate … Well Nate fretted. He fretted that Eliot would remember them, he fretted that he wouldn’t remember. He tried to draw Eliot back to him, trying to get him to remember ‘them’ or if Eliot never remembered, they could build a new relationship. He kept trying to engage the younger man, but Eliot was being skittish as a wood’s colt.
About the time he felt like reaching for the bottle, he would catch Eliot watching him. It was disconcerting to have those pale eyes and that keen mind focused on you.
One night after the others had left he had been reading files for their next job. The house was quiet and the only light came from the one on his desk. Something made him look up and when he did, there was Eliot leaning against the door jam, arms across his chest, the blue/grey eyes had such love and longing in them that it caused Nate’s chest to ache.
“El …” He rose to go to the hitter, but Eliot bolted.
A few days later, the specialist came to him saying he had found a property that with a little work would make a good place if they needed to hide. When they stepped out of the office, Nate paused when he saw the dilapidated pickup sitting at the curb.
“Will that even get us to wherever we’re going?” Nate sneered.
With an arched brow and a smirk Eliot took a verbal swat at the former investigator. “Judgin’ a book by its cover, Nate?” His tone was snide.
“That’s not what … I didn’t … Sorry.” Nate stumbled.
“Been hangin’ ’round Hardison too much, you need to get out more.” Eliot climbed behind the wheel.
The smooth rumble of a high performance engine practically vibrated his bones as Eliot pulled into traffic.
Nate realized Eliot’s wisdom in his choice of vehicles when they entered the industrial area. The old truck would attract a lot less attention than Eliot’s new one. His face lost all color when he saw the building where Eliot stopped.
The two of them had been scouting this building six weeks ago when a squatter had taken a board to the side of Eliot’s head.
“It’s shabby lookin’ on the outside, but from I’ve seen so far, the inside could be fixed up so the five of us could hole up here and let things cool down. Wouldn’t be too hard to get Hardison all his connections, plus I’ve got some connections that could get a lot of what we’d need at cost.”
Nate wasn’t paying attention to Eliot’s ramblings, he was seeing the younger man stretched out on the concrete floor bleeding from where he’d been hit several more times before Nate could stop the man with the 2 x 4.
Eliot finally stopped talking when he noticed Nathan was still standing by the doorway.
“Nate?” He followed Nate’s line of sight to the dark stain on the concrete. “NATE!?” Eliot raised his voice trying to snap the man out of his trance.
“Uh … What? … Oh. What were you saying?” His head snapped around to where Eliot stood.
“What’s goin’ on with you, man? Did something happen here. Is this where I got hit in the head?” Eliot asked.
“Why would ask that?” Nate looked everywhere but at the hitter.
“The way you’re actin’ like you saw a ghost, for one.” He watched his boss closely. “This is where it happened isn’t it?”
“Yes, Eliot this is where you got whacked on the head and ended up with amnesia that made you forget that …” Nate’s mouth snapped shut before he could finish. This place really had him rattled.
“Forget what, Nate? What is the big fuckin’ secret? I didn’t kill the person that hit me did I?” Eliot threw his hands in the air. “You guys aren’t lettin’ me run around with a target on me ’cause the doc said to let me remember on my own?”
“No. Nothing like that.” Nate looked at the floor.
“Then what?” Eliot pleaded.
“We … I … I can’t.” Nate’s voice asked for Eliot’s understanding.
“Fine. Ya’ll keep your secrets an’ your lies an’ your cons. I’m done.” Eliot threw the truck keys at Nathan.
Faster than he could gather his wits enough to stop the specialist, Eliot was out the door.
“Eliot! Wait! Dammit come back here and talk to me. Please Eliot.”
By the time Nate got to the street there was no sign of the younger man. He snatched his phone out of his pocket.
“Hardison! Just shut and listen. Eliot’s going to ground. I need you to find and track him.” Nate snapped into the phone.
Nathan cursed himself ten times the fool as he drove back to the office. Never in his career had he caught Eliot. He hoped with help from the others he stood a better chance this time.
A week after the incident at the warehouse there were still no sign of Eliot. Hardison was frustrated enough that when Nate snapped at him, he snapped back, Parker walked around with an ‘I told you so’ smirk, and Sophie was just trying to stay out of the line of fire.
A month after the retrieval specialist’s disappearance, the others had forced Nate out of the mansion for dinner and to see Sophie’s new play. They constantly nagged him to eat and sleep, but to everyone’s relief he had not returned to his former level of inebriation.
What they didn’t know about was the night that he had tried to find the bottom of a bottle, the combination of alcohol and his own creative imagination had caused nightmares about Eliot and all the things that could be happening that were so bad they’d have scared Stephen King.
Nathan was admonishing Parker and Hardison about babysitting him as they filed through the door. The three stopped and stared at the bruised and bewildered man standing in the foyer. Pale eyes glazed with pain captured Nate’s.
“Nate?” The voice sounded small and confused.
All three started toward the long haired man, happy that he had returned, firing questions about where he’d been … What he’d been doing.
Parker grabbed Alec’s arm and pulled him to a stop. He was about to admonish her when she pointed at the enforcer.
“Eliot? What’s wrong?” Nathan reached out a hand to his lover.
“Don’t know.” The speech was hesitant and slurred. “Head’s been pounding … Won’t stop.”
A sudden spasm of pain sent him to his knees.
Nate motioned Alec to help him. They got the smaller man to the couch and got him situated. When Nate moved away, Eliot grabbed his wrist.
“Stay? Please?” He asked.
Never one to deny Eliot anything, Nathan settled on the couch and drew the shorter man in against his chest.
“What happened?” Nate asked quietly.
“Don’t know. Don’t remember. Just knew had to get to you. I’d be safe then.” His voice slurred more as he drifted toward sleep.
“Safe from what?” The others held their questions ready to move if someone nasty had followed Eliot to the mansion.
“Nothin’. Took care of it. Nobody gets to you guys … Ever.” He squirmed deeper into Nathan’s embrace.
“Eliot, where have you been for the past month?” Alec flicked a look at Nate as he asked.
“Can’t tell. Paid good. Missed you guys annoying me. Missed Nate.” He turned in Nate’s arms and kissed the corner of his mouth. “Love you.”
Before anyone could respond, Eliot was out. Tears sprang to Nathan’s eyes as his arms tightened around his greatest gift since Sam had died.
~ Fini ~