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Saving Eliot

By Mary Boatright

Romance / Adventure

Chapter 1

SAVING ELIOT

No One Knows What It's Like

To Be The Bad Man

To Be The Sad Man

Behind Blue Eyes

-The Who-

3:00 AM on September 7th, 2011 a Wednesday

It was three in the morning and Eliot had just finished working out in his current safe house's spare room which he'd recently converted into a makeshift gym. He was in need of a shower so he stripped off his sweaty white wife-beater, but left his jeans on for now. He ran his fingers through his hair and stretched his arms over his head to ease the ache of overworked muscles. He was hungry first then he'd shower; then maybe an hour or so of much needed rest.

As he walked into the large kitchen to forage some breakfast, he glanced out the large picture window over the sink area. The storm outside seemed to be getting worse, he thought as he took in the rain spattered glass. He watched as the lightning flashed briefly and it seemed the wind was picking up. It was probably going to be a hell of a storm before it was finished.

Eliot had grown up in the Midwest and was no stranger to bad weather, especially thunderstorms. He'd been through a tornado or two living in Oklahoma which was right up Tornado Alley. This weather was nothing to him, but he knew Bostonians may not think the same about it. He smiled as he remembered a time when he had been around thirteen and his mamma had found him on the back porch of their home watching the huge funnel cloud that was heading their way. He had just been watching; the cloud had been so damned mesmerizing.

She'd been mad as a wet hen, his father recounted later. When re-telling the story he told of how she'd herded her eldest boy down the basement stairs and to safety. She'd given him hell for a month after that about scarin' the crap outta her and she'd threatened everyday to tan his hide if he ever did anything fool crazy like that again. He actually chuckled out loud at the memories of that month. It'd been hell; his mamma had been on him every minute of every hour.

He could laugh now at the memory of just how upset she'd been seeing him just standing there watching the huge monster twister heading for them. Eliot knew his mamma was strength personified, but whenever a tornado came into the picture, the woman became a nervous wreck. Until that day, Eliot had not known that his grandfather, his mother's father, had been killed while standing outside the cellar watching a similar storm cloud threatening his family.

He'd been swept away and had never been found. Eliot sobered at the thought of just how sad his mother must have felt at losing her father. She had been an only child and her father had been her hero. Her white knight. That's what Eliot remembered his mother always telling him when she did talk about her father.

Eliot once saw the movie Twister and couldn't help thinking the scene where Helen Hunt lost her father as a child was exactly how it must have happened for his mamma. He'd never watched that movie again.

He'd felt bad after that incident with his mamma and hadn't wanted to cause her to worry and he'd sworn to her that he'd never be that reckless with his life ever again. At least he'd kept that promise to her for four years right up until he'd lost her when that drunk driver had hit her car head on. That crash took not only his mother, but his younger brother and baby sister as well.

Eliot had lost a lot that day and he'd sworn he'd never let that kind of hurt happen to him ever again. He'd worked in his father's hardware store every day after that to try and keep his father from hittin' the bottle himself in an effort to squash the demons he saw every night when he closed his eyes. His father had taken his mother's death hard and it basically became Eliot's job to watch over himself and his remaining sister, his twin. She was only older than him by all of two minutes, but she loved to remind him of the fact she was still the oldest.

He'd taken care of them all until he just couldn't do it anymore. Once he'd graduated from high school he joined the military and had gotten out of there. It wasn't home for him anymore. It stopped being home the day his mamma took her last breath on earth. He'd left everyone, his sister, his father, even Aimee.

He'd found out later that Aimee and her family had moved to Kentucky and he'd seen her again about three years ago when his team had helped her and her father with Kentucky Thunder. He'd said his formal goodbyes to her then and he'd apologized for leaving her alone before. That was the best he could do. He'd also made up for leaving his sister as well. He tried to kept in touch with her more; if you could call dropping an email or text every few months or so keeping in touch.

But he hadn't spoken to his father since the night he'd left his home to report for basic. He'd fought bitterly with his father that night and a lot of things were said between the two of them that Eliot figured couldn't be unsaid. He wished sometimes things could have be different with his father, but he had made peace with the fact that he'd tried hard to reach out to his father during the time after losing his mother. He'd tried, he really had. He just felt he hadn't tried hard enough. Maybe someday he'd have a chance to try again.

Eliot sighed as he turned from the window to reach into his fridge for the eggs and milk. He began making himself some French toast. He loved French toast; his one indulgence when he had the time to enjoy it. The good old-fashioned bread soaked powder sugar ooey-gooey sticky messy French toast his mamma made every Sunday when he was growing up. It was no where near anything gourmet, it was just down home family cooking and he'd loved it because it reminded him of his mom.

He'd never let anyone know, especially Parker whom he was always riding about eating her sugar coated cereals and downing fortune cookies, just how much he loved it. He felt under the circumstances of his current memories he needed a good feeling and so he needed French toast.

Moving over to the cabinet near the stove he reached up for the bowl he liked to use most often for mixing, when he suddenly felt something wasn't right in his world. Call it a hunch, his spidey sense as Hardison had started calling it, but Eliot had been bred to know when something wasn't right. And with the way the hairs were standing on end at the back of his neck, he knew it was bad; really bad. He turned back to the window just in time to make out the slight glow coming from a tree in his backyard.

Just seconds before the window exploded from the bullets penetrating it, Eliot had one coherent thought. Oh shit, they'd found him. Then he felt the pull of the first bullet as it entered his body and he felt the slam of the second as he was propelled backwards dropping the milk and bowl as his body fell to the floor.

He distinctly felt the pull of the bullets as they tore through his body pulling apart muscle and bone to lodge deep in his upper chest. He could actually feel the bullets inside him.

He knew he was in trouble, big trouble. He turned his head slowly to look at the kitchen counter where he'd set his cell phone down, but he knew there was no way he was going to be able to reach it. His last sight before the darkness claimed him was the two men coming through his kitchen's back door armed with heavy assault weapons and wearing military gear. Yep, he thought. They'd definitely found him. They'd finally found Eliot Spencer.

Damn it, he should have completed the work on the house by installing the damned security system and bullet proof glass on the kitchen windows, but he'd been busy with the last few jobs back to back; and now he'd be discovered. He should have known better than to let something like that happen.

He watched as one of the men moved towards him as if in slow motion and kneeled down by his head. He seemed to be saying something, but Eliot found it hard to understand the man at first.

"Hello Mr. White Hat…"

The voice echoed in Eliot's head as he slowly gave in to the blackness that claimed him body and soul.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Roughly 6:00 AM

Nate Ford sat on the stool at McCrory's staring down at the glass of scotch in his hands. It was taunting him, he thought. He had known that for him today would be one of the hardest he'd have to deal with, but he'd always been able to lose himself in the bottle before. Every year when this day rolled around he spent it deep in the nearest bottle he could find. It was the anniversary of the day Nate's life had been changed forever. It had been five years ago today, September 7th. Five years since he'd lost his son; five years since Sam had died.

He knew his team wanted him to stop drinking, especially Eliot and Sophie, but they didn't understand just how much this sweet slow burning goodness kept him going from one day to the next. And he needed to keep going. It was always hardest facing his demons like this, but the drinking really did help no matter how dependent he had become on this crutch in a bottle.

It had been almost a year since the group had put Damien Moreau away on that job they'd done for the Italian and the team was just coming off the job of helping Sterling of all people, that ass. Nate chuckled to himself as he thought about James Sterling. The man had used them, but Nate could understand after finding out the man had a daughter. She was young; a little older than Sam would have been if he were alive. Thirteen. Sam would have been thirteen this year.

A teenager with nothing more to worry about other than school and girls. But Sam had been robbed of that life by Ian Blackpoole and all of those asses at IYS. Nate had to shake himself to force the images of the man from his brain. The last thing he wanted to think about was the man responsible for taking Sam away from him. He turned to see the sun was just coming up outside the bar's windows. He looked down at his wristwatch. A little after six in the morning; a new day. A nice day considering the storm that had passed through hours earlier. This day promised blue skies and falling leaves and the last throws of a late summer. But it was still the day his son had died and that took away all the beauty he should have felt for the day.

God he wished Sophie was here right now, or Eliot. Sophie would guilt him through this day and Eliot would goad him through it. Sophie was forever pushing the bottle out of his reach any way she could and Eliot would just sit there and give him that look and that growl that told him he needed to face other things instead of a stupid bottle of overpriced alcohol when a beer was better than that stuff any day.

But Sophie had been tired from a long day of scouting out the mark on their new job, and Eliot… well El had said he needed a few hours down time to recoup from the back to back jobs they'd taken lately. And neither were here now to push him away from this glass.

It was no secret to the team that during the weeks before and after Sam's death anniversary that Nate tended to either lose himself in the bottle or deep in another job. The team didn't seem to mind the work, it kept them all on their toes when they were working, but Sophie had been a bit more subdued lately. More than usual it seemed. Especially since they'd come out with their relationship to the rest of the team. They'd both enjoyed their secret time, but they knew the team needed to know what was going on in case it ever became a problem during a job.

So far it really hadn't, but that didn't stop them from focusing in on the fact that Nate was a little more protective of Sophie than before. Nate smiled though as he thought about that. Sophie had become very important to him and that only meant she'd become more important to the team. Knowing now that Nate's attention could be diverted if something happened to Sophie put the others on a higher alert to make sure the jobs didn't turn out bad.

And they'd all done their very best to protect both of them without really showing that they were. Especially Eliot. Eliot, Nate thought with a smile. The man was so deep it was scary. To most people they didn't see much past his gruff exterior, but his team – no wait – his family knew him to be the most fiercely loyal member of their team. Eliot found himself their protector and he took his role very seriously. Sure he'd lied to them by omission of his connection to Moreau, but he'd done so to protect them. Because he knew exactly what Moreau had been capable of doing to them.

No matter what the odds, Eliot would throw himself on the gauntlet if it meant his team walked away safe. And they were always safe as long as Eliot was watching their backs. Nate looked down again at his drink as he mused over the way Eliot as well as Parker and Hardison had now become his kids so to speak. He was responsible for their being a part of the team now even if he hadn't been the one to select them in the beginning. He was very protective of them in his own way. He really was their father figure.

Nate smiled again somewhat sardonically as he slowly realized that he may have lost Sam, but he would always have the memories of his son and in some ways he now had two more sons…and a daughter. A somewhat crazy bunch, but family none the less. He slowly pushed the drink aside as he reached for a coffee cup instead. He thought maybe he just needed to start his day with a cup of coffee instead as he watched the sun begin to slowly stream into the bar.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Still roughly 6:00 AM

Detective Captain Patrick Bonanno looked around the mess of a crime scene as he slowly followed one of his CSI guys through the house. It was a shambles. The car bomb on the Chevy pickup truck that was now mostly in pieces in the attached garage had also reeked havoc on the house itself.

The living room of the house which was on the garage side had probably sustained the most damage he'd ever seen at a bomb crime scene. The wall that shared the living room space was gone. Literally gone. The front bay window was blown out and the wood framework hung in pieces letting the rain outside slowly seep into the room's carpeting. The storm was mostly easing up now as dawn approached and two of his men were busy putting up a tarp to try and preserve as much evidence as possible from the rain.

But it was the kitchen that showed the most evidence that something really bad had happened in this home. The huge picture window over the sink showed the evidence of two bullet holes and there was a huge blood pool on the floor below the area. He guessed there had to be at least two to three pints on the floor. That was a lot of blood for someone to lose and still be alive, he thought. He didn't know his math well, but he knew 40 percent of your body's blood was too much to lose.

There were smear marks as if the person who had been injured had either tried to crawl to safety or perhaps had been dragged towards the living room to get to the adjoining door to the garage. The smear continued across the carpeting from the kitchen's stone flooring but it ended just at the door.

The steps down into the garage held some droplets of blood, but no more smears were found. Whoever made it this far had either been lifted or was somehow able to regain his footing and the detective felt very strongly that the person injured could not have possibly been able to do that on his own.

He figured the person may have tried to make it to his truck to escape whatever danger was after him, but he knew he had not made it past these steps and therefore he could not have triggered the pressure device found on the bomb on his own. There was evidence that the person had died in the bombing if he hadn't already been dead, because there was blood, tissue and bone clinging to all the surfaces of the garage as well as some that had been blown into the living room when the wall had basically disappeared during the blast.

Det. Bonanno knew someone had helped the victim to the car and somehow had triggered the bomb remotely because while there was a lot of carnage, his CSI guy was adamant that there was only one victim based on what evidence he'd collected so far.

He sighed as he took in everything his guy was telling him and pointing out about what he felt had actually occurred in this house. The victim had been shot in the kitchen as detailed by the bullet shattered glass and based on the blood loss he most likely expired there.

From there the body had been moved to the garage and placed in the truck. Eliot's Spencer's truck.

Bonanno sighed again as he took in the carnage and the reality that most likely the remains were those of his friend, Eliot. He reached into his pocket as he carefully made his way outside into the early morning just as the sun was working on breaking through the dense clouds.

"Ford here." Came the somewhat laid back reply.

"Nate? It's Det. Capt. Bonanno."

"Det. Capt.? Must be all business if you're announcing yourself as a cop before you even say good morning."

The detective heaved another heavy sigh that could be heard through the phone. "Yeah, so it seems this is all business."

"What can I do for you Det. Capt. Bonanno?" Nate asked as he wondered why the man could be calling him this early.

"Actually…I think I'm gonna need you to come to me. I'm at a crime scene and I need you to answer some questions for me." He paused. "Some hard questions."

Nate took that in. He knew that meant something was wrong, something bad had happened. He felt it in his bones. One of his family was involved. "Which one is it?"

The detective wasn't at all surprised that Nate would know instinctively this involved one of his team. "It's…it's Eliot. I'm at his house on Wallace Lane…and it's…it's bad, Nate."

Nate swallowed the lump suddenly developing in his throat. Not Eliot. Of all his family, Eliot was the least he could handle losing right now. The man was invincible and if he went down, then he'd went down hard and it was highly possible he wasn't gonna get back up. "Is…is…how…how bad?" He managed to ask fearing the worst.

Patrick Bonanno looked up at the new late summer morning dawning as the birds were chirping away in the nearby trees. Eliot had a lot trees on his property he thought as he ran this through his mind. "It's…it's bad." He repeated. "It seems Eliot was attacked and shot early this morning and somehow his truck was blown up. Must have been rigged with explosives beforehand. It seems he's…he's dead, Nate."

"I'll be there in five." Nate Ford replied softly as he felt that familiar pain in his heart again. Five years ago Nate had lost his son to cancer and today he'd lost another to his past. Someone had taken Eliot from him and he didn't know if he could handle another hit, not today. "I'll be there in five minutes." He repeated as he hung up his phone and slipped it back in his pocket.

AN: I hope I've got you hooked.

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