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Too late

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Five years he had been waiting for her. Patiently, quietly. Always staying in the background, giving her time, allowing her to learn, figure herself out. From time to time, he would make a small no, a tiny move. Pushing just enough to see how she would react, just to retreat again, back into the shadows. Patiently waiting. After all: he had promised her to wait and he had been ready to wait for as long as she needed.

A decision he now regrets. Patience was a virtue, his Nana used to say. He just never thought the virtue might turn into doom one day. Slowly he draws in a breath. Cold air in springtime. Birds are singing nearby. Tiny creatures. Sturdy enough, though, to survive the cold of winter. The first blossoms on the earliest of flowers slowly open up. Like one would crack an eye after a long night's sleep they carefully crack open their blossoms. You can only guess the colors hidden inside.

Hardison draws in another breath. He listens to himself breathing. All but steadily. He was shaking. Every breath he drew sounded like the stutter of an air condition just before failing. Just before going quiet for good. That is how he feels. Just before breaking. Just before the end.

Using up all his willpower, he unclenches his fist. The rose slowly falls and falls and falls. She would love that, the thought crosses his mind, bringing new tears to his eyes. With a low thump, the flower hits the coffin. Now he should walk away. However, he cannot move. This time the funeral is not part of a scam. This time it is real. They really have to bury one of their own, one of the team.

“Hardison” Sophie whispers and pulls him slowly away from the open grave. Nate just stares. God knows what is going on in his head. He has not said a single word since the day she died. Sophie suggested, that probably he was running through that awful day over and over again, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. Trying to see, where the plan had failed. He certainly blames himself for Parker's death.

As does Eliot. He is gone. The hitter left the team without a word, five minutes after the doctor told them that Parker had not made it through surgery. Where he was now and why he had left, Hardison could only guess. If he just had the energy to guess. He feels like a puppet that Sophie pushes away from the grave. He just lets her. Unwilling to act. With Parker, he put half of himself in that coffin. His will to live, that fire that always kept him going. It's gone now. As is she. He had promised he'd wait for her. He never thought it would end this way. He never thought that he might wait too long. Too late now. She is gone. She will not come back. And with her - the whole team had died.