Title: Not Alone, In The Black Nothing
Author: The Artful Dodger / dodger_sister
Category: Angst, Episode Coda, General, Hurt/Comfort
Characters/Pairing: Alec Hardison, Eliot Spencer (or Eliot/Hardison, either way)
Warnings: Talk of death and being buried alive.
Spoilers: The Grave Danger Job (4x07)
Summary: Hardison can’t sleep. He doesn’t want to sleep. Post-4x07.
Word Count: 889 words.
Date Written: 09/21/13
Disclaimer: Leverage is not mine. This fic is mine. For fun, not profit.
Feedback: Bring it. dodger_sister / TheArtofDodger@comcast.net
Author's Notes: Obviously, this episode gave me a ton of feelings about Hardison. And Hardison and Eliot. And Eliot. Just a lot of feels, okay? Also, it freaked me out, because being buried alive is a terrifying thing. Man, Hardison just needs a hug.
He didn’t want to go to sleep. Didn’t want to close his eyes. Didn’t want to be back there, in the ground and the dirt and black, black nothing.
Hardison rolled over for the fourth time in as many minutes and stared at the alarm clock next to his bed.
Three am on the dot.
He knew he should sleep, needed to sleep, never knew when Nate was going to call with another job, another client, another adventure that always seemed like such a good idea at the time. Until this last one. Until Hardison had opened his eyes and found himself in his own grave.
He shook his head, wasn’t going to think about it, didn’t want to let his mind wander there.
“Can’t sleep?” a voice asked and Hardison looked over to see Eliot leaning in the doorway to his bedroom, the moon outlining him in beams of shadowed light.
“Dunno,” Hardison said with an aborted shrug. Then, “Don’t wanna, I guess.”
He looked at Eliot, at the way he stood there in his sweats and tee, barefoot and seemingly relaxed as anyone else at three in the morning. But Hardison knew him well enough to recognize the upright line of Eliot’s back, the way his arms were tightened and ready to spring, the way he was on the balls of his feet, able to push off at any given moment.
‘Is this what I’m going to be now too?’ Hardison thought to himself. ‘Like this man who can never fully let himself go again, who can never put anything in this world up to chance?’
“Did I wake you?” is what Hardison actually managed to say and Eliot just shrugged.
“I wasn’t sleeping.”
It’s what he had said last night too, when Hardison had woken scrabbling at the air for freedom and screaming into the night, “You’ve gotta get me out, get me out, get me out!”
Eliot had held him down and slapped him twice across the face before Hardison finally knew where he was and then he was on Eliot, limbs and tangled sheets wrapping around Eliot’s waist, fingers digging hard into the flesh underneath Eliot’s old grey tshirt, holding on for dear life, for his life.
“Ssshhh,” Eliot had said, soft and whispered across the shell of Hardison’s ear. “I’ve got you. I’m right here, man. Right here.”
He hadn’t known how long they stayed like that, minutes, hours, but it had been dark as that grave when Hardison had woken up screaming and by the time Eliot finally managed to disentangle them both and sooth Hardison back down onto the bed, the first rays of light had been streaming through the window.
“You don’t have to stay, you know,” Hardison told him now, voice soft and unsteady on the air.
“Don’t, Hardison. I’m not leaving you, so shut up.”
“Fine, but you don’t have to be a dick about it,” Hardison said and flopped over onto his back again.
“Then stop making me say it,” Eliot snapped, irritation laced through his voice like a sewing needle cutting through the affection.
The bed dipped then and Hardison rolled away, faced out the window, the city lights streaming out across the blackened skyline.
“I’ll sleep tomorrow night,” he said, more to himself than to anyone else, empty reassurances to justify how he couldn’t bring himself to close his eyes.
“To hell you will,” Eliot said against his back and Hardison startled a little to feel the other man crawling in next to him, sliding under the covers, bare-feet brushing against the back of Hardison’s legs. “You’ll sleep now.”
“You gonna make me?” Hardison asked with a scoff, with an anger that didn’t quite make it into his tired voice.
“I could,” Eliot told him simply and wrapped strong fingers around Hardison’s arm, squeezed just enough to remind him that he really could, if he wanted to, make Hardison sleep for a long while.
Hardison forced the words out then, past the pain crushing the walls of his chest. “It’s always so dark when I close my eyes and I always wake up, or dream that I wake up, and then I’m always… I’m always…”
“Alone,” Eliot said softly, breath across the back of Hardison’s neck. “I know.”
He wanted to ask how Eliot knew, how could Eliot possibly know what it was like to be alone in the dark and dying, suffocating, no air or light or even another living soul down there with him.
But when he thought about it, when he thought about Eliot and the things in his past, the secrets he kept hidden away from even himself, Hardison knew without a doubt that Eliot had been there before. Maybe not right there, in a grave, dying in the place where he’d rest for eternity, but there nonetheless, in the black nothing of death.
“But,” Eliot said and his voice was raw and open in the dark of the room, one arm coming up to circle around Hardison’s waist, body pressed tight against his back, “You’re not alone now.”
Hardison wanted to say ‘thank you for not letting me die down there’, to say ‘I love you too, man’, to say ‘I’m glad we both made it out of our graves, Eliot.’
Instead, he closed his eyes and whispered, “Okay. Goodnight.”