Refresh your memory in Connections 'verse post two
Prompt: Eliot/Maggie, he didn’t bother to wash the blood off his hands before he picked up the phone
Her voice cut through the empty place his mind had drifted into, and he lowered the phone from his ear, staring at it, trying to remember calling her. He couldn’t, but whatever. He frowned at the rusty red smears on the shiny silver and black plastic. Sloppy. He knew better than to leave DNA evidence all over the place, at least in a country where someone might bother to do something with it.
“Eliot?” Maggie repeated, a little more loudly, sounding worried. He tossed his head, flipping his hair away from his ear, but some of it stuck to his cheek and neck, and that was just great, he’d gotten blood in it. Unforgivably sloppy.
“Yeah, I’m here,” he finally answered, putting the phone back to his ear, because it was too late to worry about the blood all over his hands and hair and face anyway. Really much too late for that.
“…are you okay?” Maggie asked slowly. “It’s a little early for you to be calling.”
It was. It was mid-afternoon in New York, he usually called her in the evening, but hey, it was a special occasion, he supposed. He leaned against the trunk of the car, probably getting blood on his pants from the rear bumper, and stared out over the dull brown expanse of the Hudson. There were lots of ways to get rid of a body in NYC, but Eliot always liked the classics.
“I can’t do this anymore,” he said absently, rubbing the thumb and forefinger of his free hand together to test how dry the blood there was. Most of it would rub off in little sticky brown balls, like cheap glue, just leaving a faint stain behind on his skin. His knuckles and fingernails would take some scrubbing, though.
“Can’t do what anymore?” Maggie pressed. She sounded tense.
He sighed, and started scrubbing his hand against his jeans. They’d have to be burned anyway. And the shirt, which was a damn shame. He liked this shirt. He picked at the front of it, the dark red splotches still gleaming wet and sticky.
He remembered, suddenly, the third time he called Maggie. He was in Pakistan, he was covered in someone else’s blood, and he was… lost. Lonely. Looking for a connection.
He didn’t feel like that now. He didn’t feel anything now but empty and calm and cold. The way he used to feel, in those simpler years after he let go of Aimee and before he joined the team. When he used to have blood on his hands all the time and no one to talk to.
He looked out over the river again and tried to remember how he got here. From Kentucky, from Pakistan, from the alley behind a dive bar. He couldn’t quite piece it together, he was too tired.
“You can’t get here from there,” he murmured. He wondered if he should torch the car. The trunk, anyway, probably.
“What? Eliot, are you alright? You’re not… making a lot of sense,” Maggie’s voice was in his ear, but he was used to that, used to voices in his ear. There should have been other voices, though. He checked his other ear for the little plastic link to the team, but it was gone. Lost in a fight? He remembered Quinn sending him flying, but that was a long time ago. He leaned forward, sore and a little dizzy, and spat blood on the dirty concrete.
“I killed a man today, Maggie,” he said, slumping back against the car again, starting to slide slowly down. His legs didn’t seem to want to hold him up, and it wasn’t like it mattered if he got more stains on his jeans at that point. He was pissed about the shirt, though. He liked this shirt. He might even have been able to get the blood out, but the big ragged hole was beyond repair.
“…oh, Eliot,” she said quietly. “I’m sorry.”
It was a weird thing to say. Kind of funny, really. He laughed a little, but it made his stomach hurt, so he stopped. “S’okay,” he assured her. “Not the first time. Won’t be the last.”
“So… that wasn’t what you meant? When you said you couldn’t do this anymore?” Maggie asked quietly.
He laughed again, spat some more blood on the ground, a little surprised at how close the ground was. When had he sat down? “Nah. This is easy. The trick, you know, the trick is not carin’. Keep it businesslike. Never make it personal.”
“Eliot…” she sounded worried, confused. He’d have been sorry for that, he supposed, if he wasn’t so wrapped up in the old familiar chill of not giving a shit. He shivered a little, and poked a finger into the slick, sticky wet hole in his shirt. Really unforgivably sloppy. He was out of practice, must be, there was blood everywhere. He was sure he used to be neater about this kind of thing.
“Damn, I made a mess,” he told her. The damp asphalt felt good under his cheek, sort of. It was cold and slimy and smelly, but it was nice to lie down. He was tired, and he hurt.
He closed his eyes, just for a moment, and he was back in the alley behind the dive bar, and there were four guys with guns closing in on him. He was starting to think maybe Nate had a point, way back when, about not taking on the mob. The first three went down easy, though, baby thugs, getting in each other’s way, moving in close enough to be disarmed, and not hard enough yet to shoot through their buddies. The last one, though. He kept his distance. He was dangerous. He raised his gun and -
“Eliot!” Maggie’s voice, loud in his ear, startled him from his reverie. “Eliot, talk to me! Are you there?”
She sounded panicked, and he felt bad for scaring her, and that feeling made him gasp and half-choke on a mouthful of blood, because it stripped away his comfortable numbness.
“Maggie,” he whispered raggedly, blood trailing warm and wet down his cheek. “Maggie. I’m here.” And he really was, completely, for the first time since he’d called her. It occurred to him that he might be in shock.
“You’re scaring me, Eliot,” she told him, but she sounded more angry than scared. Eliot approved of that. Anger was a much more useful emotion.
“Sorry,” he murmured, and pressed a hand to the hole in his shirt, where the blood was still welling up hot and wet and fresh. Son of a bitch shot me, he thought, and let some anger of his own take hold, setting a small fire in his belly behind the pain. It warmed him a little. Maybe enough.
“Maggie, I’m kinda… bleeding. Shocky. Lost my earbud, I need to… to call somebody,” he told her, told himself.
“I called Nate on another line when you… stopped talking,” Maggie said, choked up and tense and sharp. “Hardison’s tracking your phone, they’ll be there soon. You just… just hold on, okay?”
His team was coming. Coming to find him covered in blood, his own and someone else’s. Coming to the place where he dragged a corpse out of a stolen car and dumped it into the river, operating entirely on autopilot, because that kind of thing just came naturally to him. Because that’s who he was, at the end of the day. He was the one with the blood on his hands, and he always would be.
“I can’t do this anymore,” he said quietly.
“No, Eliot, damn it, just hold on!” Maggie yelled at him.
He blinked his eyes open again at her vehemence, and laughed a little, which turned into a thick cough as he spat out more blood. “S’okay, Maggie, s’okay, this ain’t gonna kill me. Promise. Had worse. S’okay,” he assured her.
She drew a shaky breath, and he could tell she’d been crying, which was… he didn’t even know. Silly? Nice? Crazy? Didn’t matter, he supposed, it just was. He was bleeding out on some broken down wharf, and Maggie was crying about it. That was his life.
“Then what is it, Eliot? What can’t you do anymore?” she asked shakily.
He looked up at the sky, and he wished it were blue, but it stayed dull and gray. If wishes were horses, he thought. If wishes were horses, I’d be riding so far away from here.
But wishes, Eliot knew, they weren’t horses. They weren’t anything but pain and regret waiting to happen.
“This is my life, Maggie,” he said slowly. “It’s dangerous, and violent, and it’s probably gonna be short. I kinda… I went a little crazy, I guess, when you told me you loved me. It made me want to give you things that… well, that you don’t even want. Made me want things that I can’t have.”
“Eliot, please, we can… we can talk about this later, please save your strength,” Maggie pleaded.
“Hey, you asked,” he pointed out, smiling a little. “I’ll be okay, Maggie. This is what I do.” He sighed and looked up at the gray sky. “I just can’t keep pretendin’ I can do, or be, anything else.”
She went quiet after that, and he shivered, feeling the cold dullness of shock trying to drag him under again. “Maggie?” he asked, a little worried she’d hung up.
“I’m here,” she said quickly. “I just… I’m sorry, Eliot. I’m sorry I –”
“Hey, don’t,” he murmured. “S’okay, Maggie. Not your fault. Just… just talk to me? Just stay with me.”
“I will,” she told him. “I’m here. I’ll stay, I’ll talk, whatever you need, just don’t… don’t leave me, okay?”
And that just wasn’t fair. But he let it slide, because the team’s rented van came screeching to a halt just down the wharf about then.
“Not today,” he agreed, watching them pour out of the van and run toward him, wondering how he was going to explain what had happened, what he’d done. “Not leavin’ today.”
Then he let someone take his phone, and let his team flutter and fuss and be generally useless as they waited for an ambulance, Nate the only one with sense enough to press a wadded up jacket so hard into his wound it made him want to scream.
“Not leavin’ today,” he murmured to the gray sky above. Today he could handle, today he could promise. Tomorrow, forever, those were just horses he was never meant to ride.
Prompt: Eliot/Maggie, Shame on the Moon (Bob Seger)
Until you've been beside a man
You don't know what he wants
You don't know if he cries at night
You don't know if he don't
When nothin comes easy
Old nightmares are real
Until you' ve been beside a man
You don't know how he feels
Maggie sighed and shifted carefully, not wanting to disturb Eliot as she settled herself a little closer against his side. Nate and the others had him set up with an IV of the best pain medication Parker could steal short of morphine, but she’d been warned it might not be enough to keep him knocked out completely.
She was being careful not to disturb him, but she needed to be close to him.
Despite the risks, Nate’s team had smuggled Eliot out of the hospital in New York as soon as he was stable, and driven him back to Nate’s apartment in Boston. It all had to do with gunshot wounds and police reports and fingerprints and the mafia, Hardison had babbled explanations at her until she gave up her arguments and they did what they’d probably intended to do anyway, whatever she had to say about it.
It had been strange to knock on Nate’s door again so soon, and the team hadn’t been as welcoming as the last time she’d been there, just a few weeks earlier. Parker had been standoffish, Hardison had been friendly but his smiles seemed to have an angry edge to them, and Sophie had pinned Maggie with a direct dark stare on her way out the door and said flatly, “Be absolutely certain this is the life you want, or don’t be here when he wakes up.”
She settled her head on the pillow next to Eliot’s, and pressed her forehead gently to his temple. When she was here, next to him, she couldn’t think of anywhere else she wanted to be. And that scared her.
Not quite as much as the thought of never being beside him again, though. She knew that much now, at least.
She was starting to realize there was a lot she didn’t know. She knew what Eliot’s first retrieval job had been, but not how he liked his coffee. She wasn’t even sure he liked coffee. She knew he often let his opponents throw the first punch so he could gauge their strength, skill, and fighting style, but not if he ever wanted someone to help him deal with the bruises and pain in the aftermath.
She knew all the details of his life that could be shared over a phone, but none of the reality that could only be learned by actually being there, being a part of it.
She slid her hand across his chest and up his neck into his hair, gently turning his face toward her. His eyes were flickering beneath the closed lids, and whatever dreams troubled him had drawn a frown on his face. She tried to smooth it out with light touches and gentle kisses, but he only frowned harder and moaned softly. She sighed and pressed her forehead to his, feeling his breath warm on her face, and let a few tears slip down her cheeks.
She loved Eliot Spencer. She’d almost lost him. And she didn’t really know him, because she’d never let herself get that close. She could have lost him, and now she realized she’d never really had him.
She opened her eyes, startled, when she felt clumsy but gentle fingers in her hair.
“Hey, Maggie,” Eliot murmured, frowning worriedly at her. “Shh, s’okay. Don’ cry, darlin’.”
“Eliot,” she whispered, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to… wake you up…” And then she was curling into his side, pressing her face to his shoulder and trying to stifle her sobs. He stroked her hair gently, his touch growing lighter and more coordinated.
“Aw, Maggie,” he whispered, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“You’re sorry?” she said, lifting her head to frown at him through her tears. “What are you sorry for?”
He eyed her warily, clearly uncertain how to answer that question. “Uh… for gettin’ shot? For…killing that guy? For telling you about it? You didn’t need to know about… any of that, I just…”
“But I did, Eliot,” she said firmly. “I did need to know, because it’s you, it happened to you, and I want, I want you to be able to, to tell me anything, I want… I want to be there when you need me, I don’t want you to feel like you can’t –“
“Hey, hey, calm down, sweetheart, it’s okay,” Eliot murmured, cupping her cheek in his hand and brushing lightly at her half-hysterical tears with his thumb.
“It’s not okay,” she insisted. “I told you I loved you, told you I wanted you, and then I put limits on how much of myself I would give you, and that wasn’t fair, Eliot, it wasn’t right, and I’m sorry –“
“Maggie, Jesus, don’t – it’s okay, darlin’, I understand, alright? I know how things went down with you and Nate, and I get that, I don’t need –“
“Yes you do, Eliot, you do need, you told me what you need, what you want, and… and you could have died. You could have been gone forever, and all that, that crap I said about what happened with Nate… that had nothing to do with you, and I shouldn’t… If I love you, Eliot, and I do, then I have to trust you. I have to be fair to you. What you need has to be important.”
He sighed. “Maggie… I understand you’re…upset I got hurt. It’s natural to feel that way. Don’t worry about it, it’ll pass. And I won’t hold you to… anything you say, until it does.”
“Dammit, Eliot, I’m trying to tell you I –“
“I’m a killer, Maggie,” he cut off her tirade with that flat, cold statement of unequivocal fact.
That totally irrelevant, long-established unequivocal fact.
“I already knew that,” she pointed out dismissively. “I have been listening to you all this time, you know.”
He scowled at her. “Well, there’s knowin’ and then there’s knowin’, I mean –“
“Eliot!” she snapped. “Would you shush! I’m transferring to IYS’ New York office!”
He stared at her for a moment, eyes wide and startled. “Wait… what?” he finally asked weakly.
She sighed and shook her head, smiling ruefully. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to… scream that at you.”
“But… Maggie, why… you’ve got a life in L.A., you can’t just –“
“And I’ve got you in Boston, and you require supervision, and I can’t keep flying out here every couple of weeks,” she overrode him with a smile, bending down to kiss the furrow between his brows. “Eliot, sweetheart, I almost lost you a few days ago,” she continued quietly. “And I really don’t want to lose you.”
“Maggie,” he sighed, closing his eyes, “I’m not –“
“You are,” she said, and silenced him with a kiss.
When she pulled back with a smile, he was still frowning. “I just don’t want you to do anything you’ll regret,” he said.
She sighed, stroking his hair. “It still won’t be perfect, but New York City is a lot closer to Boston than Los Angeles is. I think we need to spend a little more time actually together, to really get to know each other.”
He cocked an eyebrow at her. “Like I said, things you’ll regret,” he muttered.
She smiled, and snuggled a little closer to his unwounded side. “I really don’t think I will.”