The bomb was set, and he could only stare at the timer.
This was the stupidest fucking mistake he had made in all of his career, and he knew it.
He’d been distracted, okay? Hardison was going on and on about the job, Parker kept saying shit, he didn’t notice the guy behind him, got knocked out. And now he was here, in a cramped room, probably under the building he was scouting, with a bomb that now read 4:30.
“Hardison, how would I deactivate a bomb? Hypothetically speakin’.” Eliot pressed a finger to his earpiece, slightly relieved that that guy hadn’t found and taken it. He supposed it was because his hair covered it, but still.
“Umm, get the front off and cut the wire. Why’re you asking me this?” Hardison’s voice cut through the static-y noise building in Eliot’s ears. “It’s really that simple.”
Nate interrupted before Eliot could answer. “Focus on the job, guys,” he whispered. Apparently, Nate was near their target, but Eliot-
Another look at the bomb told him he had two and a half minutes. Get the front off, cut the wire. Easy, right?
He scrabbled at the timer, trying to find any edge he could pry at. He regretted giving in to that stupid nail-biting habit he had sometimes, as his nails were nowhere near long enough to help. Searching his pockets, he sighed in annoyance as he came up with no pocket knife. Damn it!
“Would punching the top to break it open count as getting it off?” he bit out, watching the numbers tick to 1:45.
“I would assume so.” He hadn’t realized Parker had been listening in. “One punch and you should be able to break it.” She sounded like she was smiling, making Eliot smile as well.
“All right, then. Let’s see if you’re right.” He hauled off and punched the thing, breaking the timer in half and revealing the innards of the bomb. He grabbed the wire and pulled, dislodging it at both ends. It dangled in his hand, proof that he had saved everyone’s asses, and-
The door banged open and three men swarmed in. Of course his night had to take a turn for the worse.
Scowling, Eliot stood, raising his fists. None of the men walked forward. “Come on! I need a good fight,” he barked out at them when they still didn’t move.
One man shrugged and backed away, another following. The last man simply stared at Eliot. “After you, Mr. Spencer,” he eventually said, waving his arm towards the door.
Watching the man suspiciously, Eliot did as he was told. As soon as he reached the hallway, he made a run for it,and was surprised to get out of the building with no resistance. “Anyone there?” he asked, both into his earpiece and to the surrounding area.
“I am, why are you asking?” Sophie answered, unaware of what had happened. “You need to get down here quickly, I think there’s trouble.”
Eliot sighed. There was always something, wasn’t there? “Where are you?”
“At the front of the building,” Sophie answered. “Hurry!”
Taking off, Eliot rounded the corner to see the same three men who had confronted him, now surrounding Nate, Sophie, and Hardison. Parker was nowhere to be seen, but Eliot assumed she was somewhere safe, and probably watching them.
He ran forward and rammed into the guy closest to Hardison, knocking him away from the hacker with ease. The other two turned and joined the fight while the rest of Eliot’s team backed away to safety.
Using one guy as a sledgehammer, Eliot managed to knock out another. A quick punch to the temple of the last grunt knocked him unconscious as well.
“You do realize they weren’t threatening us just yet, right?” Sophie said after a beat of silence. “I told you to get down here in case they thought of it.”
Eliot scowled. “They pissed me off. Got everything?”
Nodding, Nate walked forward to show him the folder. “Yeah. Let’s get back before they wake up.”
Hardison grabbed Eliot’s arm and pulled him away from the others. “What’s the deal, man? You’re not usually this touchy,” he asked in a low voice.
“You wanna know why I was pissed at them? I’m pretty sure they were the ones who trapped me in a room with a bomb ,” Eliot hissed. “Of course I wanted to beat their asses!”
A light thump, and Parker had her arms around Eliot’s neck. “Shhhhh. Happy thoughts.”
“Geez, Parker, you scared the shit out of me. But, yeah, I understand. Damn, if I had realized that it wasn’t hypothetical… Why didn’t you tell us?” Hardison’s voice rose, and Parker jumped from Eliot to Hardison in a second.
“That’s exactly why. Didn’t need you worryin’ over me,” Eliot said, crossing his arms.
Parker pouted. “We could have helped more,” she pointed out.
“You helped as much as you could, sweetheart.” Eliot smiled, and Parker yanked him into the hug.
“Hey, if you three aren’t busy, maybe we could get going!” Nate shouted, impatiently waiting by the van.
Sophie swatted his arm. “Leave them be. By the way, you owe me five dollars now.”
Nate looked over at her, confused. “What do you mean? Clearly, our bet is not finished, and-” He snapped his mouth shut when Eliot, who had made it to the van first, glared at him. “Bet’s off.”
“Not fair. Just because I won-” Sophie started, but Nate shook his head and motioned for silence. She watched Hardison and Parker climb in after Eliot, how they sat on either side of him easily.
Damn, she was good at reading people.