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"Oops," was all the warning they got, Parker's voice not nearly apologetic enough over the comms as the elevator plummeted into a freefall. Hardison ended up on top of Eliot when the emergency brakes kicked in a heart stopping ten seconds later. Arms and legs were everywhere when the lights went out, and Hardison had one brief nanosecond of panic before the backups kicked in and his professionalism took over.

"Oh Hell no! Parker what the hell was that?" he said as Eliot shoved him off. And ow! That was his ankle and it fucking hurt. "Ow, ow ow!" Hardison rolled on the floor and eventually made it into a sitting position, his right knee clutched close.

"You okay?" Eliot, the bastard, was already on his feet.

"I think I broke my ankle."

"Let me see." Eliot squatted and batted Hardison's hands away. "Does this hurt?" He squeezed and bright pain shot through Hardison's foot, spiking when he jerked it out of Eliot's grasp.


"It's not broken."

"It's broken!"

Eliot rolled his eyes. "Parker?"

Damn man didn't feel pain; of course, he would think it wasn't broken.

"Nate? Sophie?"

And it sounded like they had bigger problems than a broken ankle right now. The silence from the comms was ominous, and not in the We've Set You Up way, but the Shit, We've Been Made way. Above him, Eliot wasn't panicked per se, but that frown between his eyebrows was out in full force and Hardison knew that look well. That was Eliot Is Not Happy and Heads Are Getting Busted Look.

"Oh, this is not good," said Hardison, pulling his comm out of his ear and checking the LED that only told him the damn thing was on and not much more.

"Way to state the obvious. Are we being jammed?" demanded Eliot.

"Not my fault!" said Hardison. The job so far was a corporate switch around. Corruption, a little bit of espionage, and a lot of creative accounting. Nate may have gone a little overboard when he's said "let's go steal the Stock Market" - Hardison didn't even want to get into how complex setting up the programing side of that - but it had also required hijacking the marks' computers at the source, which had gone very well until they'd dropped in the freaking elevator and Hardison had broken his ankle.


"Probably, all right?" The security was tight, but he and Parker had gone over it and it wasn't the system that was the danger. "The head of security must have twigged to something. Probably your hair."

That earned him a kick in the side - "hey, broken ankle here!" - and a growl of anti-sympathy that Hardison nobly ignored. "I'm just saying, wasn't me frowning all over the place up there."

"No, you were the one going over the top, cracking stupid jokes about sheep and accountants."

"It's called being sociable. You know, so people like you? I know you're not too familiar with the concept. Now can you please get us out of here?" Hardison did not want to be in here when the brakes on the elevator blew. He's seen Speed; he knew how this shit went down.

Eliot was glaring at him again. "This ain't the movies. In case you hadn't noticed," he gestured at the ceiling of the elevator that was covered in tasteful panelling that reflected the value of a five hundred million dollar company with no convenient emergency hatch visible.

"And you can't punch through that or something? Pry it off?"

"You got a screwdriver on you?"

If they had been doing anything else on the twenty-fifth floor and weren't dressed for business, Hardison probably would have had more than a set of lock picks on him. Eliot snatched them from his hands and grunted when Hardison asked why he didn't have a knife or something.

"You ever seen me carrying anything?" Eliot asked back.

"You're the Scary Man, and you've got all those knives and things in your kitchen. And I've seen your dartboard, man, don't lie."

Eliot stretched up with the picks and tested the edges of the panelling, his coat and the sides of his shirt riding up. Hardison wasn't looking but it was right in his line of sight, and anyway he was too distracted by the fact that Eliot was too short to reach all the way up.

"We are going to die," he said when Eliot unsuccessfully tried to jump and shove the tiny lock pick someplace it would do some good.

"Shut up," said Eliot and then used Hardison as a stepping stool.

"Oh Hell no!" But somehow Eliot was on his shoulders, and Hardison was grasping his ankles trying to keep him from falling on Hardison's head. "I've got a broken ankle!"

"It's not broken!"

Then Eliot stretched too far and unbalanced all over Hardison's head after all and ended up sprawled in his lap. The fall made Hardison jerk, surprise and adrenaline and smashing his broken foot on the floor so if it wasn't broken before it sure as hell was now.

"Ow, ow, ow!" It hurt like a motherfucker, sharp pains up and down his leg and his shoe cutting into his skin. He thumped Eliot hard in the chest and couldn't even shove him off, it hurt so bad. "Eliot." And that did not come at as a whimper. It was very manly yelling that was so restrained it just sounded softer.

"All right, calm down." Eliot twisted off of him, not even hurt the bastard, and knelt by Hardison's broken foot. This time he was gentle, though it still hurt as he worked his fingers from Hardison's lower shin down over the sharp bones, cradling Hardison's heel in his palm.

"It's still not broken," he said when he was done, but there was none of his earlier impatience. "It's sprained and you should keep off it after we get out of here." He bounced to his feet again, this time prowling at the doors. "Sorry about falling on you."

"You better make it up to me. That was my head you fell on."

"Parker better make this up to us," Eliot muttered at the elevator buttons off to the side.

"Hell yeah." Hardison's attention was back on the edges of the panelling, looking for any way through, but it was solid. The whole elevator was solid. "How long you figure before security opens the doors?"

Eliot shrugged, messing with the buttons and sticking his fingers in the fireman's lock. "Depends on how far between floors we are. We've been in here five minutes already. Another five maybe. More if Nate's running interference." He wasn't having much luck.

"I am never leaving home without my screwdriver set again," said Hardison. This was way beyond messed up. He looked at his watch wondering how late they were for the next phase. With the computers linked to Hardison's fabricated Stock Market, they idea was to switch over as soon as he and Eliot got back across the street. Thirty minutes tops from entry to exit that was now about two minutes from rolling over. Nate might be able to handle it, but Hardison wasn't about to hold his breath. Nate treated half of what he did like magic, no appreciation for hard work and the intricacies of making machines dance.

The loud bang of Eliot smashing his fist into the button panel made him start again. "Hey! Broken ankle here!"

"I hate this!" He kicked the wall this time, hard enough to make the sound bounce around.

"Hey, calm down, man!" Hardison said. This wasn't like Eliot, to lose his cool like this on a job. He was a man in control, and the look on his face right now was nothing but pissed. He did not want to calm which only made Hardison roll his eyes. "You done now?"

Eliot took off his jacket, throwing it on the floor, and loosened his tie. "I hate being stuck."

"Well, I hate having a broken ankle and you don't see me complaining about it."

"Yeah. You haven't said a word." Eliot gave him that Look again and started pacing, looking at his watch, and generally making Hardison dizzy just watching him. The excruciating pain in his ankle had reduced to throbbing, and the cold of the elevator wall was seeping through his jacket. Worse, his mind was starting to spin, with nothing to keep it occupied besides the sure dread that any minute now the elevator doors would be pried open and they'd be frogmarched to some tiny little office where Eliot could fight their way out. On second thought, that wasn't so bad really, except for the job getting blown.

Nate would be pissed if they blew the job.

"Eliot, would you sit your ass down? You're giving me a headache."

"Something's going on out there. I can hear them running." Eliot didn't sit but he did stop pacing long enough to run a hand over his face. If he listened close, Hardison could hear something, though nothing so distinct as running.

"They coming for us?"

Eliot shrugged and pushed his hair from his face. He looked like your typical overworked stockbroker in his shirtsleeves, not that Hardison was looking. Stuck or not they were still on the job after all.

"Doesn't sound like it which is a little strange if they stopped the elevator."

"Maybe Parker did something, punched the wrong button." She'd been doing something up on the roof that Hardison hadn't been too clear about.

"Probably rigged the wrong shaft. Since security's not pouncing, I figure we have another minute or two before she gets us out of here." He crouched by Hardison's ankle again. "How's it feel?"

"Hurts," said Hardison pointedly. "And I'm cold."

"You're such a baby," said Eliot, grabbing his jacket from the floor and twisting it around his ankle. It was swollen now and Hardison had to bite back the protests because he wasn't a baby.

"Ow!" he said anyway, because it fucking hurt. "You owe me pancakes for this."

"Parker owes us pancakes," Eliot set his foot down gently and twisted to sit beside him, warm against Hardison's side. So over this trapped in an elevator crap, Hardison wiggled and shifted until Eliot was between him and the wall. Screw the job, his ankle hurt.

"Parker owes us pancakes on a platter in bed."

Eliot wasn't big on showing his affection, worse than Hardison about distractions while they were working, but his arm snuck around Hardison's waist. The tension wasn't gone but the anger finally was.

"Blueberry pancakes."

"With whipped cream."

The ceiling thumped, the person above them light and quiet.

"That's our ride," said Eliot, disentangling them. He got Hardison to his feet while Parker opened the emergency hatch and unlatched the panel from the outside, nearly braining them.

"Hey, broken ankle down here!" Hardison called as Parker stuck her head in.

"You're alive!" Parker grinned.

"You owe us breakfast in bed," said Eliot, steadying Hardison as he reached for the edges of hatch. "What the hell happened?"

"An alarm went off so I shut the building down. Nate got made."

"Nate?" both Hardison and Eliot said. Hardison managed not to hit his ankle on anything as he pulled himself up, Eliot was right behind him. "What happened to the comms?"

"Don't know, they just went out after I cut the power. How about my special cereal?" She handed them carabiners off her rig to hook to the short line between them. They'd have to climb up to the next floor it was safe to get off on.

"No! Absolutely not!" Eliot vetoed. "I've seen that stuff and no way. No you are going to do something nice like pancakes."

"Blueberry pancakes."

"With coffee."

"And whipped cream."

Parker looked up with a frown from stowing her rappelling gear across her body. "We're not wasting whipped cream on food."

Now that was his idea of paying a debt.

Eliot slapped the back of his head. "Ow! What was that for?"

"Getting out of the elevator shaft? Rescuing Nate? Any of this ringing a bell?"

Parker was already half way to the next floor and Hardison was next. His ankle was throbbing worse now and he flinched when he had to put weight on it. "I hate this job," he muttered.

"Just one rung at a time," Eliot murmured, close behind him. "Then we'll get done and take you home. Take care of that ankle."

"You better kiss it better," said Hardison, hopping up the first rung. "And I expect to be waited on, hand and foot."

"You are such a baby," said Eliot, but he was grinning, Hardison could tell.

From above, Parker asked, "How about hamburger eggs?"

Hardison didn't quite roll his eyes, too happy to be moving again. "No!" One rung at a time, they were getting out of here.