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15 September 2011 @ 12:13 am
The Empath  
Title: The Empath
Rating: PG-13 for sexual references
Pairing: Sophie/Nate, Parker/Hardison, Parker/Hardison/Eliot, Parker/Eliot/Sophie
Summary: Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another sapient or semi-sapient being.
Notes: Written for leverageland: Team Hacker, Challenge: TV Tropin'.



Eliot fell to his knees and puked.

He hugged the off-white toilet in the master bathroom and let the agony of death and pain and suffering wash over him like a tidal wave. He felt every single man’s death, every punch he landed on them and every drop of blood they lost from every man on the docks. He felt every bruise he left, every concussion, every blacked eye and damaged windpipe and broken bone. Eliot felt like he had been hit by a semi.

He could feel Hardison and Parker in the bedroom of Hardison's apartment and tried to focus on them. They only felt of concern-worry-fear and that was more comforting than the memories of the men he’d killed. Hardison’s fear of him hurting himself were palpable enough to paint a picture and he could practically see the blanket and cup of chicken soup Parker had ready for him, when he finally left the bathroom.

Everything hurt and he was puking bile, thin and yellow and burning, and Eliot didn’t even care. It felt like he deserved it. He’d hurt them; he’d killed them; he deserved the agony of their deaths.

Eliot closed his eyes and remembered; it had been the fifteenth of April and he walked out on Damien Moreau and swore not to use a gun again. He never learned what was special about that day. He never told anyone, though he thought Hardison and Parker guessed at it. No one really knew. No one would ever know.

On the fifteenth of April, he’d lifted his gun. It was a PPK with a specially carved barrel. Damien had paid for it and Eliot had bet his life on it. He’d killed too many people with it, spilled innocent blood with guilty. He had stopped counting before he’d turned thirty. With Damien as an employer, counting was unreasonable.

He lifted the gun and fired. He imagined he felt the bullet leave the chamber. He felt it in his own chest when the bullet entered the girl and he had fallen to his knees. He remembered that, in the back of his mind, he was happy he was alone. It was a luxury for Damien’s head of security and that day, that April morning, he had been trusted enough to chase Maria alone.

He’d been sick for days after that. He told Damien he had the flu. Damien believed him after Eliot got sick on his shoes. Eliot hadn’t known what was wrong with him. He knew he didn’t have a fever, but he was sick ,so sick, like he’d never been before. He had the chills and his whole body ached and he even bled a bit, exactly where he’d shot Maria.

This felt like that again. He'd taken out more men that he had any right to. He'd let his fists fly even when the only thing in the world he understood was agony. Nate was worth it. Sophie was worth it. Parker and Hardison were worth of this and more. Keeping his family, his only family safe, was worth every time he knelt over toilet, sick from the post-con pain.

He felt Hardison come into the bathroom rather than hear or see him. When the feeling was strong, when he’d been in a fight or near pain or war or suffering, he was as good as blind or deaf. It was why he liked physical fights. He could find them with his hands, his feet, his head, know where to hit by the feel and touch and pain and pleasure.

“God, man,” Hardison said, wrapping Eliot in a blanket. Eliot felt his hands like they were firebrands on his skin, sharing the worryfearhelpeliothelphealhelpsave that was like a balm to the wounds Eliot never had. He stumbling, allowing Hardison to catch him because it felt so good to have him do it. “There has to be a better way.”

Eliot felt even better when Hardison pushed him into the big bed and climbed in after him. Being wedged between Parker and Hardison was the best thing this side of heaven. Not even Nate and Sophie could rival it, though they were getting there. They cocooned him in their worries and fears and their primal need to see him safe. Parker had soup in a thermos and force fed it to him, but Eliot barely noticed.

He never told them what happened when someone got hurt. He never told them why he didn’t use guns or what it was like when he woke from nightmares that were really memories and could feel sixteen years of pain in a matter of minutes. He never told them, at first, because it wasn’t any of their business. Then, he didn’t think they’d believe him. Finally, he realised he could never tell him because they would try to keep him safe. And that would mean failing his team.

In the early years, after learning that guns hurt and would leave him out of it for days, when he got better at controlling whatever this was, Eliot learned that there was a certain high that came with fighting. His mentors called him superhuman. His enemies learned to use his name like he was the Devil himself. And Eliot lived for fighting.

In everyday life, it was a bother. He knew when Nate and Sophie first slept together, could feel it in the air like they told him. When he stayed in a hotel room or an apartment with thin walls, he could feel it when two people were fucking or fighting. The first time he felt a stranger’s orgasm, he’d showered for three hours without stopping. Hospitals and nursing homes were the worst. He learned to cope. Sex was suddenly amazing, realising how good he could make someone feel. Arguing was a hundred times worse, feeling the other person’s pain. Living away from people, cutting himself off seemed sensible. He only let himself get lost in other people when he hurt them. And then he always hurt them bad enough that he could ride it for days.

He never thought it could get better until he joined the team and Hardison found him one night, stretched out on his office floor, staring into forever and shaking like a junky. Hardison thought he was on something, especially when Eliot moaned and leaned into his hands, like some kind of deranged cat. But he’d felt so good. No one had felt like that before, not the girls he picked up everywhere, not the occasional guy, not even Aimee anymore. And when Parker found them, Eliot with his head on Hardison’s knees, his clothes stained and hair tangled, it was better than sex, even that threesome in Sweden.

So he fought even harder. When he rode the high that came from pain and death, it was so much easier to feel them. Suddenly the high didn’t come with the heavy crash, the endless feeling of pain and death. When Eliot knew they would be there, and they always were now, he could fight into oblivion and they smoothed it out for it him. They surrounded him with hopelovefearlustcaring so strong it overrode the residual pain of the broken and dying.

Nate found him once, back in San Lorenzo, after the job in the warehouse with the guns. Eliot had wondered if he was dying and he was sure it was only Nate’s overwhelming fear and the blinding memories of Sam that pulled him from the brink. Nate needed Eliot, needed the team, and it made Eliot feel good. He could trust Nate because he could read him more easily than anyone in the world.

Sophie was another story. She’d never seen him like this. Once, she’d walked in on him and Parker in Nate’s bedroom in Boston. According to Parker and her memories, which were always as bright as fireworks, Eliot had been mostly passed out and moaning like a two dollar whore every time she forced him to drink water or fussed at the blankets. When Sophie got involved, Eliot apparently embarrassed himself completely. Eliot was really happy he only had the second hand memories from Sophie and Parker about that incident. Since then, Sophie made sure to stay away after fights.

Hardison wrapped an arm around him and Eliot let out a stuttery moan that even he knew sounded pretty sexual. But it felt so damn good, especially when Hardison turned on some old Dr Who and Hardison got his own smooth high of comforthappymemoriesofNana that he always got when he watched Dr Who. The memories of Nana were the best and he was close enough, emotionally and mentally tied up enough, with Hardison that he could sometimes even see her on the back of his eyelids.

And when Parker rested her head on his chest and tucked Bunny into his arm, he got to feel those things that were perfectly Parker. When they first met, he thought there was something wrong with her, the way her thoughts and emotions shattered like glass and bled like Eliot’s victims. But now that she was part of him, he realised she was Parker and perfect and she needed him and loved him just as much as Hardison did. Bunny was as good for her as Dr Who was for Hardison. Eliot just wished he had something he could give back to them.

Sometimes, though, wrapped up in Hardison’s big bed with the Batman sheets, wrapped up in the amazing feeling of Parker and Hardison needing him more than anyone had any right to, knowing that they loved him even when he was tripping on pain and love and broken bones and some unnamed emotion that went beyond family and beyond lovers into Leverage, Eliot thought this might be it. Sometimes, when they weren’t on a case and Parker and Hardison sat in the corner booth of McRory’s, Eliot would feel a spike of fearconfusionfear from Parker and angryupsetafraid from Hardison and, even when Sophie grabbed at him, he would go over to help. And just being there, living a third wheel in a tricycle, fixed it. Parker would smooth into memories of 1920’s safes and Hardison would slip back into his ones and zeros and Eliot knew it was okay.

Maybe, somehow, whatever had broken him, fixed them. Maybe that was his real gift to the team.
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( 11 rides — Hitch a ride )
mystizan: Castle: squeemystizan on September 15th, 2011 04:42 am (UTC)
Why is this so beautiful, whhhhhhhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? I just want to crawl up into this universe & stay for a long time. And then turn puppy eyes on u & beg for sequels. (Yes, plural. Yes, I am greedy). How happy am I that ur on my team? VERY. (Also, what trope is this?)
Chasechik: oxford commachasingtides on September 15th, 2011 04:45 am (UTC)
Oh trust me. There are four stories in this 'verse already itching to get out. Including a really long one with Parker turning invisible and watching Hardison comfort Eliot a lot.

And the trope is The Empath.
mystizan: Burn Notice: Mike/Fi lolmystizan on September 15th, 2011 05:07 am (UTC)
Oh goody! I look fwd to more. Ummm what's an Oxford comma?
Chasechik: green carchasingtides on September 15th, 2011 11:23 am (UTC)
"The serial comma (also known as the Oxford comma or Harvard comma, and sometimes referred to as the series comma) is the comma used immediately before a coordinating conjunction (usually and or or, and sometimes nor) preceding the final item in a list of three or more items. For example, a list of three countries can be punctuated as either "Portugal, Spain, and France" (with the serial comma) or as "Portugal, Spain and France" (without the serial comma)."
mystizan: Dark side cookiesmystizan on September 15th, 2011 01:12 pm (UTC)
Ahhhh. Thx :) I was taught _not_ to do that.
hannasus: leverage hardison/parker fuck yeahhannasus on September 15th, 2011 02:33 pm (UTC)
I love this! I especially adore the way you subverted the trope by making Eliot the one with the empathy. And it works so well that way, too! Fantastic! Team Hitter salutes you!
Culuyetille: VGculuyetille on September 19th, 2011 01:10 am (UTC)
I love this. Can't wait to see more stories in this 'verse =)
jendavisjendavis on September 20th, 2011 06:37 am (UTC)
EEE! I read these backwards, and it still totally works (though now I've an excuse to go back and reread "We Can Rebuild Him"(YAY)). Seriously great concept and awesome writing.

And I'm very stoked to see that there are other stories in this verse. Seriously looking forward to reading them. :)

*bookmarks* XD
belladhannabelladhanna on September 20th, 2011 01:00 pm (UTC)
Jesus that is just beautiful. I read Hardison's first, but now I get it. These are just excellent. I can't wait to see what you have for the rest of the team.
The Teasemaster: leverage - ot3tinylegacies on October 3rd, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
Excellent fic! I love the relationship between the three of them and I like the way you got inside Eliot's thoughts.
kanecrazy: Eliot regretskanecrazy on May 5th, 2013 02:05 am (UTC)
The Empath
Beautifully written. I would have never thought of Eliot in this capacity but you have addressed his strengths and weaknesses with this particular ability in such a way that I can see it clearly and I really love it. Eliot was obviously always my favorite character not just because of his beauty but because of his troubled past and his moral ambiguity and so I always enjoy a good writer's view into his psyche. Great work!
( 11 rides — Hitch a ride )