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What, was "Rudy" on cable last night?

. . . Yes.

resting grump-face
Eliot Spencer vdistinctive
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75 Godiva Street, Early Tuesday morning
It was inevitable after what had happened over the last week, even with Parker and Hardison and Val all right there in the bed with him. Last night had been blissfully dreamless, but it was never destined to last.

The sun beat down so hard on the barren hills it blinded him. Eliot squinted into it, shading his eyes with his hands, but it didn't help. All he could make out were silhouettes of trees and mirages.

Don't worry, Eliot. Kathy turned and raised her fingers in a V.

Dammit, child --

The world exploded in a volley of gun shots and Eliot ducked behind a broken piece of concrete, pressing his helmet down harder on his head.

не брините Елиот. She stood in the center of the broken road and smiled at him. ви ћете доћи да ме видиш , зар не? The heat warped the air around her in waves, and she vanished. Eliot vaulted over the edge of the barricade with a shout, but the warehouse had already gone up in flames.

He couldn't reach her. He couldn't reach any of them.

Hands landed on his shoulders and he spun, drawing his weapon and catching the first figure holding him on the side of the head. Al Swearengen collapsed at Eliot's feet, and Eliot fired at the second, square between the eyes. Wild Bill dropped to his knees, aces and eights.
Don't hold me back, Eliot begged. Don't you dare hold me back. Al grabbed for his ankle and Eliot swung the gun again and again, until his face was putty and blood coated Eliot's hands.

Now look what you fucking went and did, Al said, and Eliot stared down at the body of the man beneath him, tall and dark skinned and wearing a tattered leather trenchcoat. He twisted and looked back, and saw Parker staring at him, blue and cold, the bullet wound like a third eye on her brow.

Eliot's whole body clenched and he came awake on a ragged inhale, instinctively holding still and quiet until he could recognize his surroundings. He forced his hands to release their grip on the sheets as he recognized his bedroom. He could hear Hardison and Parker breathing beside him. He tried to close his eyes and will himself back to sleep, but the moment they shut all he could see were his bloody hands and his crew on the dusty ground.


He wasn't going to be getting back to sleep any time soon. Time to go for a run.

[ooc: for those in the bed. Dream contents bloody and violent, and NFB, natch.]

Parker was awake as soon as Eliot stiffened, the change in warmth and breathing and balance enough to have her slitting her eyes open to watch him.

Nightmare? ... nightmare.

She held her breath, hoping he'd stay. Or come closer. When he straightened to get out of bed, she whispered, "Going somewhere?"

Edited at 2015-08-04 02:48 am (UTC)


He couldn't look back at her yet. Not with the image of her at the end of the dream still burned into his mind. He leaned forward and focused on breathing, his hands fisting in his hair.

"Just --" His voice was choked. He'd have to work on that. Dead giveaway, Sophie would not approve of his technique. "-- Need some air."

"So breathe. Don't leave." Parker didn't reach out to touch him, exactly, but she moved closer, one hand still on Hardison's chest. "It wasn't real. None of it."

Not the dream, not the simulations.

"I know that," Eliot ground out, louder than he'd intended. He closed his eyes and breathed in slowly through his nose, and lowered his voice. "Doesn't always help."

Parker folded her lips together, watching him closely in the darkened room. She really didn't know what to say, or how to ask about it.

Right, she needed back-up for this. She pushed at Hardison so he'd roll over into the mattress. "HARDISON. Wake up. Eliot's having a nightmare, you have to help. Now!"

"Huh? Whuh?" Hardison startled awake, flailing around in the bed. "I ain't even--what?"

He blinked up at Parker and Eliot. "Bae, you're havin' a nightmare? What's up?"

"Obviously I'm not having one right now," Eliot growled. What with being awake and all.

He should just stand up. Walk out the door and go for a run anyway.

Any minute now, he was going to stand up and go for a run.

He attempted to curl in on himself even tighter.

Parker slithered closer, leaning against his back, out of immediate reach of any expressive arm-flailing, weighing him down in place. (Not by much, to be clear: but Eliot wouldn't hurt her if he was thinking straight.)

"He needed air." She held out gimme-fingers to Hardison, silently asking him to get closer. "It woke him up. I don't know what to do now. It isn't the same like it was with you."

'Cause they didn't save Eliot, he saved himself.

Hardison snuggled closer, wrapping his arms around them both, resting his chin on Parker's side.

"The sim?" he asked softly. "Sounds like you dealt with some heavy shit in there. You wanna talk about what happened? Or your nightmare? Or whatever?"

"No, it's --" Keep breathing. A team shouldn't see their hitter hyperventilate. "It all brought up some -- old shit. With the new. I ain't -- I never had to deal with this in front of people."

They felt good there, though. Wrapped around him. Warm and alive. Like they could hold him together, if he let them.

"Like what?" Parker whispered, leaning her head next to his ear, keeping her voice low. It was easier to ask with Hardison there. He'd stop her if she asked the wrong things, or too much. "You don't have to tell us. We don't want you to be alone. So if it's a choice, you don't have to tell."

Hardison slid his hand into Eliot's hair, stroking gently. "Man, you know you can tell us anything, right? You ain't gotta be strong all the time. That ain't why we're here with you, bae. Just talk to us."

Eliot leaned into Hardison's fingers and breathed. Every time he thought he had a handle on it, they said something like that. Most of the dream had faded already -- they always did -- but the last moments stuck, and Eliot knew from experience that they'd follow him all day.

"I killed you," he said finally, so quiet he wasn't sure they'd hear. "I was angry and scared and I killed you both."

Parker listened, and then gave him a kiss on the nape of his neck. Leaned into him harder.

Saying it wasn't real again wouldn't help, she thought. Reminding him that they were both here, and listening, well. Maybe?

She looked at Hardison over Eliot's shoulder, eyes sad.

"Ain't never gonna happen," Hardison said firmly. "Never, ever. I seen you angry. I seen you scared. You ain't never come close to hurtin' us. You got more focus an' control than anyone I ever met."

"I know." Eliot swallowed, finally feeling his breathing start to steady. "Knowin' doesn't always help when you got too much shit in your head."

"We'd never let you," Parker murmured sleepily. "We didn't before. Remember? Tasing you? And we can't fight you, but we can stop you." She threaded one arm around him. "We trust you."

"Hell yeah," Hardison said. "We are your first an' last line of defense before everyone else. Includin' you. We ain't never gonna let you hurt anyone you don't mean to, an' we ain't gonna let anyone hurt you."

Jesus, they were going to make him cry. "I know that," he growled. "It ain't -- you can't logic it better. You don't do what I've done and come out whole. It's just something I deal with."

That was so sad. And so wrong. And... Parker hung onto him, and threaded her fingers through Hardison's. "You don't have to be," she whispered. "We just.. .wanted you to know."

"Ain't tryna convince you," Hardison said at the same time. "Just remindin' you. Makin' sure you know that you ain't gotta deal with this alone. You wouldn't leave me after my nightmare, would you? Or expect me to keep it to myself? We're the same here. You can have your space if you need it, or be quiet if you wanna, but that ain't gonna stop us from bein' here for you in whatever way you need."

Dealing with it alone was the only thing Eliot knew how to do. Eliot's breath shuddered on something frighteningly close to a sob.

He usually ran to drown it all out. Exhausted his body until his mind had no choice but to shut up as well. Let the images play out over and over until they lost their power. He couldn't bear to do that with these though, couldn't press his tongue to them like a toothache. Parker and Hardison dead was never something he wanted to get used to, even in his subconscious.

So he'd replace it, then. A bloody hand traded for a wet cheek pressed against Hardison's palm. Dead, staring eyes for smell of Parker's hair. Terror for tear-salted lips, making contact on whatever skin he could find.

They were warm. There. And alive. Anything else was details.

Eliot was crying.

Panic wanted to rear its head, but Parker stomped on it. And glomped Eliot tighter. And wished she could fix it for him, somehow. But he said it couldn't be fixed, and he was perfectly Eliot anyway, so...

She matched her breathing to his, and kept her eyes on Hardison as an anchor, and held on.

Edited at 2015-08-04 05:14 am (UTC)

Hardison pressed his lips softly against the back of Eliot's neck, lacing his fingers with Parker's, a pattern of light and dark over Eliot. His other hand kept carding through Eliot's hair, soft and soothing. "We're here for you, man, we got you. As long as you're here, with us, you're safe."

It didn't really matter what he said, honestly, so long as it came out as a calming rumble.