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In My Time of Dying (Follow Up to Something to Remember Me By) by angelskuuipo
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Author's Notes:
This is dedicated to Sulien on Twisting the Hellmouth. Sulien gave me some fabulous feedback on my Leverage crossover stories and part of that inspired this follow-up to Something to Remember Me By. Iím including it as part of my Fic-A-Palooza because I hope to have seven pieces written for my 7th anniversary. Thanks be to Elisabeth for the beta.
Written: January 22, 2011
Word Count: 1,458
Summary: Follow-up to Something to Remember Me By. Nate is self-destructing. Eliot opens up to let him know he isnít alone.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Watching Nate slowly self-destruct was hard. They all tried to help, tried to give him a reason to keep going. Eliot did his part, too. Nate was a good man, if not a very nice one, and the world would be less without him in it. But this, watching while he put everything they were doing in jeopardy, this was where he called bullshit. It was gonna hurt, but enough was enough.

“You’re not the first person to lose someone you love, Nate,” Eliot nearly yelled. He wasn’t sure who was more surprised: him or everyone else.

Parker’s eyes went wide even as she went still in that if-I-don’t-move-no-one-will-notice-me way she had sometimes. Eliot reached under the table and squeezed her hand to let her know it was okay. She squeezed back then bolted from the conference room.

Hardison looked like an idiot with his mouth open and his bottle of orange soda halfway to his lips. When Parker left he wisely followed suit, casting worried glances between Eliot and Nate. Eliot caught Hardison’s eye and gave the barest of nods. That’s right, it’s all good; nothing to see here.

Sophie looked like she wanted to stay, which didn’t surprise Eliot at all, but she showed great aplomb when she stood and quietly murmured, “I’ll just give the two of you a moment then,” as she left the room. She even closed the doors behind her.

Nate was just glaring at him, but that was fine with Eliot. He glared right back.

Finally, Nate said in the most condescending tone Eliot had yet to hear from the man, “Aimee’s still alive, Eliot. You left her, you didn’t lose her.”

“Oh, fuck you, Nate. I’m not talking about Aimee and you know it.” He was halfway out of his chair and his fist was clenched before he even realized what he was doing, but he made himself sit back down. Unclenching his fist took a little longer. As much as he’d like to punch Nate, that wasn’t the point of this little venture.

Eliot took a deep breath and re-opened a wound that he knew would never really heal. “Someone I loved with all my heart died about three years ago. There was nothing I could do and it nearly destroyed me once I got over being numb.”

Nate blinked at him and just seemed to deflate in front of Eliot. Nate slumped in his chair and looked at Eliot. “I’m sorry,” he said sincerely. “What was her name?”

Eliot swallowed. He’d brought it up. He had to be willing to follow through. Eliot shifted and pulled out his wallet. He opened it up and removed a worn picture. It was a reprint of the one Willow had given him just before she died; he kept the original in a safe place. He really should think about replacing it. He handed it to Nate. “Her name was Willow and she was unlike anyone I’ve ever known.”

Nate looked at him for a moment longer then unfolded the photograph. Eliot watched Nate take a peek into a part of him he rarely showed anyone. After several minutes of silence Nate gently folded the picture and handed it back. Eliot unfolded and took the time to trace his Willow’s smiling face before he put it back in his wallet. He looked up and could see that Nate wanted to ask. He saved him the trouble.

“She died saving the world,” Eliot said almost conversationally. One of Nate’s eyebrows rose in disbelief. Eliot went on, giving the cover story that was actually more truth than lie, and not really caring if Nate believed him or not. Willow had died saving the world from annihilation and he would never belittle her sacrifice.

“The organization she worked for provides aid and education for disadvantaged girls all over the world. There was a situation in Africa a few years ago. She was killed. I was on a job and didn’t find out until it was already over. I came home and the house was empty except for a letter from her apologizing for dying. We always knew it was a possibility, but…” He trailed off for a moment before he got himself together again to continue. “Anyway, her best friend found me a week later. He was a wreck, but he came. It wasn’t pretty.”

Eliot stopped talking, not wanting to get into just how wrecked he had been when Xander had found him. He had been a ghost wandering around the house he’d shared with Willow and her girls. Xander had pretty much been the walking dead; he’d taken a bad hit on his blind side and was barely walking with the help of a cane. He also had shiny new scars on his face to go with the eye patch. They’d made quite a pair before the fog of grief had lifted. Then they’d gotten angry and became legends. As far as Eliot knew they were still being talked about in hushed whispers at the Council.

Nate cleared his throat and asked delicately, “Did you find out who killed her?”

Eliot smiled grimly and he knew there was death in his eyes when he answered Nate. “Oh yes.”

The conference room faded as Eliot got lost in the memory of the bloody swath he and Xander had cut through the remnants of the demon clan responsible for their pain. Buffy would have joined them, but she’d been in a coma at the time. He and Xander had taken their pound of flesh for that as well. That was blood Eliot didn’t mind having on his hands.

Nate coughed uncomfortably and brought Eliot out of his memories. Eliot scrubbed his hands over his face and through his hair as he got his thoughts in order.

Finally he sighed and said, “I loved Willow. I was planning to ask her to marry me when I got back from that job. I wanted to die, but I held on. I know losing her isn’t the same as losing your son, Nate, but I’ve been where you are. It sounds trite, but it’s the truth: You will get through it.”

He saw Nate start to shut down and held up a hand. “It’s always gonna hurt and you’re always gonna wonder if there was something you could’ve done differently, and you’re gonna hate the world for a good long time, but here’s the thing: You. Are. Not. Alone.”

Nate frowned and Eliot made his final push. “We all care about you, Nate. If bringing down Blackpoole is what you need to do then we’re with you all the way. But sitting by and watching you make stupid-ass decisions and drinking yourself to death is not what I signed on for. You’ve lost your world, but there’s another one waiting for you if you just hold on.”

Nate was silent for so long, Eliot figured he hadn’t accomplished a thing. He was about to give it up for a lost cause and go get himself a beer when Nate said, “I think that’s the most I’ve ever heard you say in all the time I’ve known you.”

Eliot gaped at him then chuffed out a laugh. “Well, I finally had somethin’ worthwhile to say.”

Nate gave him half a smile, but it quickly faded. “I don’t know if I can get past this.”

Eliot shrugged. “On your own you probably can’t. That’s my point. In my time of wanting to die I had people around me that wouldn’t let me give up. You’ve got that in me, Parker, Hardison, and Sophie.”

Nate nodded slowly then he stood. “I’ll, I’ll think about it,” he said softly. Nate started for the door, but paused before he opened it. He looked back at Eliot. “Thank you.” Eliot looked at him and Nate explained. “Thank you for telling me about Willow. I can’t imagine it was easy.”

Eliot shifted uncomfortably. “It wasn’t. But you know what? It didn’t hurt as much to talk about her as it used to.”

Nate nodded again and opened the door. Before he left the conference room, Eliot said, “I might need a couple of days.” Nate looked back at him and Eliot gave him a crooked grin. “I think I should probably check in on a friend.”

Nate returned his smile and gave him a nod as he left. Eliot drummed his fingers on the table then pulled out his cell phone. He hit one of the speed dials and waited, hoping at the last second that he wasn’t going to wake anyone up. The line was answered and Eliot said, “Xander, hey. It’s Eliot. I was wonderin’ if you had a couple of days free…”

-30-

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