Quick AN: Thank you so much for all the positive reviews. I'm glad you're liking this! I have a new chapter here and am working on the next as soon as I post this one. Once again thank you!
But My Dreams
They Aren't As Empty
As My Conscience Seems To Be
Same day roughly 8:30 AM
Nate opened the door to his apartment to find the other members of his team already assembled in the living room waiting for him. He'd contacted Hardison on his way back and had him contact the girls so they could all meet him here. He had only told Hardison they needed to meet to plan a new job. He'd neglected to tell him that the new job was to find Eliot.
He would have to tell them what he knew, but he wanted to do it face to face with all of them so he only had to go through it once. Because if he wanted to find out who had done this to Eliot, then he needed all of them to know what was at stake and they needed to work together as fast as possible; they were already a man down on this job.
"Hey man, I got us here as fast as I could. You said it was important so I told them to get here asap." Hardison stated as he watched the mastermind walk into the room and toss his keys on the kitchen bar's countertop.
"Yeah, it's important. "He said as he turned to face the three. "We don't have much time and we…" He couldn't finish the sentence. He'd held back his emotions for as long as he could, but once he saw his team he knew he was going to have a hard time keeping up a strong front. He'd wanted to believe Eliot could still be alive, but realization was hitting him hard suddenly.
"Nate, what's wrong?" Sophie immediately got up from her seat at the table in front of Hardison's monitors and she quickly walked over to him. She could see that something was bothering the man. His whole demeanor was giving her a bad feeling. She knew that today was the anniversary of his son, Sam's death. He always closeted himself away on this day; he never lost his composure though. He never let his sadness show in front of the team. Then something hit her. "Nate, where's Eliot?" She saw the shadow that passed over the man's face before he quickly tried to hide it. "Nate? Where is Eliot?" She suddenly felt something akin to panic beginning deep in her chest as she took in the fact that their hitter was missing.
"Nate, man…where is El?" Hardison quickly took in the way Nate seemed to be struggling with his emotions as he turned away from their prying eyes.
Parker, who was sitting on the back of the couch facing them, quickly sensed too that something was all wrong here. She may not understand human nature completely, but she'd come a long way with this team. Her family as she'd begun to think of them and she knew something was wrong when Nate tried to avoid their questions. "Something bad has happened to Eliot, hasn't it? Nate, tell me he's okay." The last word came out a little shaky as she too fought the panic she felt suddenly rising inside her.
"Nate! Tell us where Eliot is!" Sophie reached out and grabbed his arm and forced him to turn around and look at her. "Tell me right now!"
Nate looked at her and he couldn't help it when a single tear fell from his eye. He had to tell them what he knew. He had to; it was just hard to say.
"Nate!" Parker practically screamed at the man. "Where is Sparky?"
Nate jumped at Parker's outburst and then he took a deep breath. "Eliot's…dead." He managed to get past the lump in his throat. "There was an explosion at his safe house on Wallace Lane. Detective Bonanno called me early this morning and I met him there."
He took another deep breath as he watched Sophie let go of his arm and take a step back from him. He could see Hardison's mouth drop open and he watched as Parker slowly slid off the back of the couch and walk over to Sophie who gathered the young woman in her arms pulling her in like a mother comforting her child. He could see the tears she was trying to keep at bay brimming in her eyes.
"Not El. He can't die. The man is…he's…he's freakin' immortal, man. Eliot can't be dead." Hardison couldn't imagine a world without their hitter. The guy was indestructible. He always came back from a job. Always.
"Someone shot him through his kitchen window and then placed a bomb on his truck to destroy any evidence. There…there isn't even a body. There's just…" Nate's voice trailed off.
"Just what?" Parker asked. "If there isn't a body, then Eliot isn't dead. You have to have a body to be dead. And besides Eliot can't die like Hardison said. He always comes back to us. He would never die on us. Never." Parker knew she sounded childish even for her, but she couldn't help it. It was the only way she could get it across to them that she knew Eliot couldn't be dead. She felt Sophie softly stroking her back and she calmed down a little from this simple gesture.
"Parker, they found his…his remains."
Sophie looked up sharply at that. "What? What does that mean? There's nothing left…of…of our Eliot?"
Nate couldn't answer. He simply nodded yes as he took in his team's reactions. He hated himself for having to be the one to tell them, but he didn't want them finding out from anyone else. They were a family, his family and he needed to protect them. He needed to do what Eliot would want him to do as far as they were concerned.
"But…but that…that doesn't mean that it's Eliot. Maybe it's someone else. Like maybe Eliot killed his attacker and that's who's in the…the remains." Parker sniffed as she replied. That made sense, Eliot wouldn't go down easy, and he would take out the killer. He just would.
"Then where is Eliot, Parker? He's not at his house. He's not here. He hasn't tried to contact us. Even if he was hurt, Eliot knows we'd drop everything and come for him. He knows how to contact us without anyone finding out. So where is he?" Nate asked even though he really wasn't trying to hurt Parker. He was just as upset as she was, but he had to face the reality here. He had tried on the drive back to rationalize the remains found as not being Eliot, but it all came down to where was Eliot if he was alive?
"Maybe he can't contact us! Maybe he's hurt and can't!" Parker came back at Nate. "Maybe he's out there somewhere hurt and alone and he needs us to just find him!" She didn't want to listen to anything that made her even think about no more Eliot like ever.
Nate reached out and pulled the young thief towards him as he wrapped his arms around her. At first Parker resisted. It was one thing to allow Sophie to mother her, but she wasn't used to Nate comforting her. She couldn't deny however, the fact that his touch was just as comforting as Sophie's. She buried her face in his shirt as he gently stroked her hair.
"I'm sorry Parker. You're right." Nate said between looking down at the young girl and the other two in the room. "We'll just go with the facts for now, but not accept Eliot's gone until we get the official word from the detective."
"We…we will?" She asked looking up at him.
"Sure. I gave Detective Bonanno the contact info for Dr. Navaro that we've used in the past. He'll be discreet and he won't tell the detective anything he shouldn't. He can't anyway. Doctor patient confidentiality prohibits discussing anything about Eliot's actual care. He'll just supply his blood type and sample DNA to run against the samples found at the scene. Then if the DNA matches we'll know for sure." He said as he continued to hold onto Parker. He reached out with his free hand and pulled Sophie into his other arm to hold onto both women. He would try his damnedest to make sure that he was there for them.
"And if they don't get a match?" Hardison asked softly.
Nate looked at the hacker. "If they don't match, then we are gonna find our hitter and we are gonna find him wherever he is." He said.
"Yes. If the DNA doesn't match then we stop at nothing to get our Eliot back here with us." Sophie added.
Nate smiled at her determination. He smiled at all of them. They stood there as a team and Nate knew they would find answers and then they'd find Eliot and God help him, but he knew that none of them would stop until they had what they wanted. Eliot.
Somewhere in Eliot Spencer's past
"Spencer! What the hell are you doing?" Came the caustic demand of Eliot's training sergeant.
The man was looking at Eliot like he had no brains whatsoever. Eliot knew that the man's job was to make his men feel like idiots, but Eliot was not an idiot and he hated being made to feel like one. Sergeant Whitmore may be his training sergeant and he may be trained himself to treat the men under his command as idiots, but Eliot Spencer was not going to take this. Even in the Army. No, he was not gonna be called an idiot.
Eliot hadn't signed up to be treated like an some freakin' moron or as a pack mule. He'd joined up to make a difference. To make up for what was lacking in his life. He'd joined up because that's what the men in his family did. That and to get out of that small town he'd spent his entire life in. Where he was beginning to suffocate from the way his life had turned into one day after the next of the same damn thing. Over and over again. He'd joined because he wanted to be able to breathe.
"I asked you a question Spencer! What the hell were you doing out there?"
"Sir, I was thinking that it would be better to actually try and save the victims here before we destroyed the target. These people needed to get to safety first, Sir." He added that last sir with a bit of sarcasm as he stood nose to nose with the man. "This whole mission seems to have been going downhill anyway, so I thought it best to salvage what I could and get innocent people out of the line of fire."
"You thought?! You thought?!" The man got in Eliot's face. "You are a soldier Spencer! A poor excuse of a soldier, but still a soldier! The Army owns you and they pay you to be a soldier! They do not pay you to think! They pay you to do exactly as you are told!"
"Well, then that's the problem with the Army, Sir." Again with the sarcasm. "I'm not gonna let innocent people get caught in the crossfire. Especially the Army's crossfire!" Eliot came back at the man.
Neither man noticed the Major that walked up to stand just behind the other troops as Eliot faced off against his CO. The man just stood back as he watched Eliot stand up to the other man.
"You're lucky this is a training exercise Spencer! If this had been a real mission, you would have failed your platoon and gotten them all killed just so you could save a few villagers. You do not work alone! You're platoon is your team and you have to think of them before anyone else!" The Sergeant turned to face the rest of the platoon and in doing so he noticed the Major standing just behind the men, but he gave no indication that he had noticed him. "Let this be a lesson to all of you! You are only as good as your weakest link and today that link was Spencer. Platoon dismissed!" He turned back to face Eliot. "Except you Spencer. You are on report and you will have KP for the remainder of the month. You like working alone so much then you get to run the kitchen by yourself. Dismissed."
Eliot turned and walked away from the man. Eliot really hated this guy, but truth be told, he didn't mind kitchen duty at all. He liked to cook and wouldn't mind taking over the kitchen. Hell, he may even learn a thing or too. He'd probably give anything to actually get some real instruction in the culinary arts, but he'd make do with being given free reign of an Army kitchen for now.
The Major stepped over to the Sergeant. "So, what do you think?"
"I think he's arrogant, pig-headed, impossible to train, he'd rather work alone and he's a real pain in my ass." The Sergeant turned to look at the Major. "And I think he's exactly what you're looking for." He added as he grinned slightly.
The Major also smiled. "I think you're right, Whitmore. I think you're right."
"And I think we're gonna get some great meals over the next few months. I hear the kid's got a knack for cookin'." Whitmore added. "Mad skills with a knife."
Roughly about 8:30 AM
Detective Bonanno looked at the Chief Medical Examiner as they both stood over the table where the remains found in Eliot Spencer's garage lay. "Can you repeat that last part, Les. I'm not quite sure I got that since you don't seem to be speaking English anymore."
Lester McEvoy couldn't help smiling at that. Patrick Bonanno wasn't an idiot. He understood most of what he was telling him; it just didn't seem to be making much sense to him. Which Lester could understand.
"I'm saying these remains are not those of Eliot Spencer, but they do have seven alleles or genetic markers in common with Spencer. I just got the report back from CSI and whoever this is laying here is somehow related to the man. Could be an uncle maybe. A father or brother is also possible. If Spencer was older I'd even go so far as to say it's possible this is his son."
Bonanno took that info in. "So somehow this person is related to Spencer and he was the one blown up in the bomb. Not Spencer himself." He mused out loud. "Okay. So if this is not Eliot, then where the hell is he?"
"That, detective is the million dollar question now, isn't it?" The medical examiner answered.