Characters: Nate, Sophie, short appearances by Eliot, Hardison, and Parker
Spoilers: Up through the end of season 3
Summary: Nate is hurt on a job, and Sophie is the one who takes care of him.
It was an odd scene, one that had become too familiar. Nate was lying on the couch, Eliot bent over him with his hand buried in Nate's shoulder, Parker watching with inappropriate fascination. Hardison had excused himself; he didn't do well with blood. And, Sophie was standing close behind Eliot, observing his work and occasionally glancing at Nate with irritation.
"That hurt," Nate grumbled, trying to use his free hand to push Eliot away.
"Maybe next time you should wait for backup instead of running in alone," Sophie suggested, her voice like a whip. "I told you that posing as a police officer in the middle of a drug bust would not end well."
"You've been telling me that for the past half hour," Nate muttered. He grunted again. "Damn, why haven't you given me any medicine?"
"Hardison is taking care of that," Eliot answered. "Hold still. Parker, a little help here?"
Parker jumped up from her post on the arm of the couch and rooted through the medical supplies to hand over gauze, a needle, and thread.
"The bullet went straight through," Eliot explained as he pushed the needle through Nate's skin.
Sophie's face tightened at Nate's hiss of pain. "How long will it take him to recover?"
"He needs to rest to make sure he doesn't open his stitches." Eliot paused, turning his head to look at Nate's face. "I will not be redoing your stitches this time. You screw up, it's your problem."
Eliot finished the stitches and taped them down before wrapping a bandage over Nate's shoulder. Nate pushed himself up with his right hand, grimacing as his head swam.
Sophie appeared behind him, supporting his weight so he could prop himself against the couch pillows. "Don't overexert yourself, Nate."
"I just wanted to sit up. You don't need to hover."
Hardison walked through the door. "Okay, I have drugs for the nurse on duty."
"Nurse?" Nate asked, frowning at Sophie.
Eliot caught the white bag Hardison tossed to him and handed it off to Sophie. "You think you can handle him?"
"I'm still here."
Sophie smiled and tousled Nate's hair, ignoring him when he swatted her away. "Of course. I'll call you if I need you."
"Okay, I'm heading out," Eliot replied. "I'll see you guys later."
Parker yawned. "I think I'm going to leave, too."
"Peace out," Hardison called over his shoulder as he followed Parker out the door.
Nate groaned and let his fall back against the couch armrest. Sophie shook her head and walked off, taking the precious white bag with her.
"Wait, I need that," he protested.
She didn't answer.
"Whining isn't attractive, Nate," she murmured, holding out a glass of water and two pills.
He took the pills from her and swallowed them. She waited for him to drink the glass of water and took it from him when it was empty. Placing it on the coffee table, she slung his right arm over her shoulder and helped him to stand up.
He steadied himself and smiled. "You're not too bad at this."
"I've had too much practice." He headed to the stairs and looked back when she said, "I'll be up in a minute."
"You're sleeping in my bed? With me?"
"How else am I supposed to keep an eye on you?" She cocked her head to one side and smiled.
He sighed and trudged up the stairs. "As you wish."
He woke up the next morning with Sophie cuddled close to him. He started to reach out to brush the hair out of her face, but decided to let her sleep. He pushed himself to the edge of the bed and started to stand up, stopping when her hand caught at his wrist.
"Where are you going?" she asked, her eyes still closed and her voice thick with sleep.
"Just to the bathroom. I'll come back."
She nodded her head and rolled over. "Okay."
He couldn't help smiling as he left, and when he came back to his bed, he tugged on her arm until she rolled over with a groan and rested her head on his uninjured shoulder. He pressed a kiss to her forehead and drifted back to sleep, his breathing slowing to match hers.
"I ran a bath for you."
Nate looked up from his book. "Okay. Can I have a minute to finish this chapter?"
She shrugged her shoulders, leaning in the bathroom doorway. "I don't care. The water might get cold, though."
"Fine." He put the book to the side and groaned as he swung his legs off the side of the bed.
He trudged to the bathroom and paused when Sophie didn't budge, her back turned to him.
"Are you going to stay?"
"You're going to need some help bathing."
He sputtered. "Um, no. That's not happening."
She turned around, rolling her eyes. "Just your back and your hair. You can't lift that arm without opening your stitches, so there's no way you can take care of that."
"And, you can't leave until I need you?"
"You would try to do it yourself. And, I don't really fancy calling Eliot to tell him to cancel his date because you're a stubborn ass."
"You know you could stitch me up."
"I won't, though."
He grinned. "You can be a very cruel woman."
She raised an eyebrow in response. "Get undressed, Ford. I'll be back in a minute."
He waited until she left the bathroom and closed the door behind her to gingerly take off his clothes, wincing as he moved his left arm. Maybe she did have a point. He eased himself into the hot water and relaxed against the back of the tub.
He was bathing when she came back, and his initial reaction was to jump and then cover himself with his hands.
"Don't be so jumpy," she said in a bored voice. She threw the pillow in her hands on the floor and leaned over him to grab the soap. "Lean up."
He obeyed, grumbling under his breath. She lathered the soap against his back and massaged it into his skin. He smiled at the feeling of her fingers, but they were gone in a moment, and she was running water down his back from her cupped hands. When she was done rinsing him off, she offered him a towel and helped him to stand up. She averted her eyes while he dried off and held out a fresh pair of boxers.
Once he was decent, he said, "Okay. I'm done."
She bent over to push the pillow against the side of the tub. "Sit down and lean your head back over the edge."
She perched on the tub as he got comfortable. Smoothing the hair back from his face, she used his showerhead to wet down his hair, her fingers working through some of the tangles. She grabbed his shampoo bottle and massaged a healthy amount into his scalp. As her nails scraped along his skin, he hummed in approval and closed his eyes. She took her time, wincing with him when her fingers hit a stubborn snarl.
When she was through rinsing the soap out of his hair, he sat up and let her use the towel to sop up the extra water that was starting to run down his back. He managed to get to his feet on his own, but he stumbled into her, grabbing onto her waist to catch his balance. She sucked in a breath, her dark eyes widening as his lips came dangerously close to brushing against hers. He stepped back and attempted to smile at her.
"I might have to get you to do that more often," he said, clearing his throat. "You know, washing my hair. It was nice."
She let out a nervous laugh. "Yeah. I'm, um, I'm going to make us something to eat. Do you want anything specific?"
"Whatever you make will be fine."
"Well, I'll let you know when it's ready. You'll be in bed?"
"Actually, I think I'll come and keep you company." She stiffened, a sure sign that he was crossing into dangerous waters. He ignored the red flag, though. "Unless you don't want me around…"
"Don't be like that," she reprimanded him, managing to fish out a smile and plaster it onto her face. "Pathetic doesn't suit you."
"Can I at least get a shirt?"
She pulled one of his old dress shirts off the counter and helped him to slip it over his shoulders. She started to button the shirt up, but he grabbed her hands, stopping her.
"I can handle it, Soph," he said. "I'll be downstairs in a little bit."
She gave him a small smile and slipped out of the bathroom. He buttoned his shirt, using his right hand to adjust his collar before leaving the bathroom and walking slowly down the stairs. She was already in his kitchen, a pot of boiling water on the stove, and she was pouring some kind of thin pasta into the pot.
She glanced up from her work and nodded to one of the stools at the island. "Do you want something to drink?"
"Not while you're on medication. How about orange soda?"
She whipped out a bottle and passed it off to him. "He can afford to buy more."
She returned to the cutting board on the counter, chopping portabella mushrooms into fine pieces. Her dark purple sweater was falling off her shoulders, and he allowed his eyes to linger on her backside as she turned to the sink; she was wearing yoga pants or something similar, and he was having a hard time tearing his gaze away from the sight. She pushed back the hair that had escaped from her messy bun and dumped the chopped mushrooms into a pot of red sauce.
"Can I help you with something?" he asked, fiddling with the top of his bottle.
She shook her head. "No. Everything should be done in a few minutes."
"Okay." He propped his elbow on the counter and rested his head on his hand. "Do you want to watch a movie later?"
"Sure." She tested the pasta to see if it was done, and smiling in satisfaction, she took the full pot and carried it over to the sink where she poured its contents into a colander.
Nate picked up a spoon and swiped a small taste of her sauce. "Mmm, this is good."
She turned and leaned against the edge of the sink. "Thank you. I stole the recipe from Eliot."
"I didn't know you could cook."
"Well, I can. I'm just not as good as Eliot, so I don't offer when he's around. Besides, I think he would get upset if he felt like I was horning in on his territory."
She walked over to the stove and switched off the burners. She dumped the pasta back into its original pot and grabbed two plates from his cabinets. Nate slid off his stool to gather the silverware and napkins. She almost dumped the steaming pasta down his front when she turned around and he was right behind her.
"Damn it, Nate, I said that I could handle this."
He backed up and said, "Sorry. I'll just go wait at the table."
He slouched off and she sighed. He settled into a chair in time to see her bearing the two plates full of pasta and sauce over to the table. Sliding one plate in front of him, she sat down on the opposite side of the table. He opened his bottle of soda and held it up for a toast.
"Cheers," he said quietly.
She tapped her own bottle against his. "Cheers."
Nate looked away from the black and white movie on his TV screen when Sophie walked into the room. She raised her hands over her shoulders and stretched, rising up on her toes; she had changed into a black lacy camisole and red pajama pants, and he smiled at the sliver of skin her shirt revealed as it slid up her stomach. She ambled to the right side of the bed and collapsed onto the mattress.
"What are you watching?" she asked.
He leaned back into his pillows and motioned for her to lean against his side. "The Scarlet Pimpernel."
She smiled and moved closer to him, pillowing her cheek against his shoulder. "Classic. It's one of my favorite movies, you know."
"That makes sense."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Well, it's a movie about a nobleman who cons the French Revolution out of the nobles they're trying to execute. Adventure and high romance. Perfect, right?"
When the movie was over, she sat up, pulling the pins out of her hair. He watched with appreciation; he loved her hair when it curled.
"I should probably change your bandage," she remarked as she slid off the bed and headed into the bathroom.
He grimaced and straightened his back, still leaning against his pillows. "Are you sure?"
"Eliot told me I should change it at least once," she replied as she carried the gauze wrapping and tape back into the room. "It shouldn't hurt."
He snorted but sat still as she unbuttoned his shirt and pushed it off his shoulder and down his arm. She snipped the tape with a pair of scissors and unwrapped the bandage from his shoulder.
"It looks like its healing up nicely," she remarked as she unraveled the gauze and started to wrap it around his wound.
"Good. Maybe I can actually do something tomorrow," he said, watching her nimble fingers secure the wrapping and tape it into place.
She pulled his shirt back up to cover his shoulder and stood up, leaning over to press a kiss to the top of his head. She left and put the supplies away in the bathroom, slipping back onto the bed when she returned.
"I still don't understand why he wasn't just honest with her," Sophie said softly.
"He was trying to protect her," he replied. "He loved her."
"He could have prevented the whole mess, though, if he had just told her the truth. She was his wife. She deserved to know."
"You're forgetting one thing, Soph," he told her, a slight smile on his face. "He risked everything to get her back."
She bit her lip and glanced at him out of the corner of her eyes before nodding her head. "He did. Still, I think…"
Nate reached up to cup her cheek. "Everything. He would have given up everything for her."
He lowered his thumb to trace her bottom lip, feeling more than seeing her shiver at the touch; her dark eyes bored into him, challenging him to make the first move. He was tempted to withdraw, to frustrate her, but he was tired of playing the same old game. He moved his hand and pushed against the bed to get closer to her, managing to capture her lips in a sloppy kiss. Her hands went to his head, fingers running into his hair, and she steadied him against her body as she responded to his kiss. She tasted exactly the way he remembered, rich and soft and real. Her teeth pulled at his bottom lip, and he shifted so she could straddle his lap, his left hand reaching out to cradle her hip. He pushed his tongue into her mouth, no longer bothering with trying to be gentle. She moaned and rocked a little against him; He grinned, moving his mouth along her jaw and to her neck, sucking at the tender skin there.
"Nate," she hissed, one of her hands bunching in his shirt.
He moved back to her mouth, groaning when she slipped her tongue into his mouth and pressed against his chest. She pulled back and smiled as she unbuttoned his shirt; he tried to lean forward as she slipped the shirt off his shoulders, and somehow, she ended up binding his arms in his sleeves as he fell back against his pillows.
"Ow," he muttered.
She giggled and shook her head, kissing his forehead. "Sorry."
He waited as she climbed off the bed and first slipped his left arm out of the shirt, pulling the rest off. A mischievous smile played with her mouth, and she grabbed the hem of her shirt and slid it over her head. Before he could say or do anything, she whipped off her pants and underwear and clambered back on top of him. His breath caught at the sight of her.
"God, Sophie," he moaned, sliding one of his hands up her stomach to cup her breast. "You're so beautiful."
As his calloused fingers slid over her nipple, she whimpered, pressing her hips insistently into his. He pulled her forward, sitting up enough to take her breast into his mouth, his right hand moving over the other. A low groan rolled out of her mouth. She could feel him through his boxers, and she reached a hand behind her to grasp his hardness. His hips bucked up, and she smiled as she moved back. He grumbled at the loss of contact with her, but as she slid his boxers off his body, he locked his eyes on her, fascinated. As she crawled back up to him, she paused to press kisses along his thigh to the skin below his bellybutton.
"Tease," he murmured, reaching out with his right hand to pull her back up to him.
She grinned, her hand ghosting almost low enough. "I think that's the pot calling the…."
He cut her off when he managed to tug her back up to his mouth, pulling in her small gasp of surprise. She guided his hands to her hips and poised herself on her heels; biting her lip, she slid him into her body, moaning at the sensation. He cupped one of her breasts roughly as she rolled her hips, her nails clawing at his chest. He rocked his hips up to meet hers, and as her breath quickened, he tugged her down closer to him so he could kiss her, the heat of her mouth making him groan.
"Nate…" Her words stuck in her throat when his lips found the swell of her breast, his teeth leaving a small mark.
He swirled his tongue lower, savoring the tang of the sweat on her skin; her eyes were wide, dark and consuming, and as she looked down at him, she shuddered and arched her back as her muscles clenched around him. He rolled his hips up into her and released, groaning out her name. She slumped forward to rest her head on his chest, her cheeks flushed.
"You're glowing," he whispered, smoothing her hair away from her face and kissing her forehead.
He could feel her small laugh. He wanted to complain when she rolled off him, but he was placated when she snuggled up against his side, one of her legs draping over his thigh. He adjusted the covers over her shoulders and closed his eyes, her soft breathing lulling him to sleep.