Characters/Pairing: Nate/Sophie (sort of? Mwa ha ha.)
Word Count: 2,900
Spoilers: 1x08 (The Mile High Job)
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine, not infringement intended and no revenue is being made. Also, sorry BBC.
Summary: Sophie suffers from amnesia after an accident, but she doesn't think there's anything wrong.
Notes: Thanks to The Life Ruiners for the speedy group beta effort and to steeleblue for listening to my rants and helping me title.
The accident is completely unforeseeable and equally unpreventable. Hardison, Parker and Sophie are in some sporty little two-door that Hardison is sure doesn't actually belong to any of them, heading to Nate's for a briefing on the next job, when some drunk asshole in an SUV blows through a red and hits them going six hundred miles an hour, or something close to it.
"It could have been worse," Eliot keeps saying, like it isn't the most annoying thing in the world. It isn't really, Nate reflects. But that, coupled with how he won't be still for more than three and a half seconds at the time, is making Nate want to push him down an elevator shaft.
Hardison is in shock, apparently. The ER doctor has cleared him to leave with just a few bruises and bumps, but he isn't taking the doctor's advice to go home. Instead, he's just standing next to the OR doors where they had taken Parker half an hour earlier.
The doctors are still buzzing around Sophie, flipping through charts and pulling glass shards from her scalp, but she's smiling and flirting and Nate feels himself unclench just a little. The phone call from the hospital had dropped his heart down past his stomach in the worst way, but he is slowly starting to come off auto-pilot.
"It could have been worse," Eliot says again, running his hands through his hair. Nate turns around, ready to snap at him, but Parker comes through the swinging doors with an intern and he forgets to be annoyed.
"God," Parker sighs, burying her face in Hardison's chest. She looks bone tired and mostly like she's using him to support her weight. "Broken bones suck." Her arm is in a cast and the right side of her is spotted with bruises and scrapes, but she's trying to put on her brave face and patting Hardison down to make sure he's still in one piece and Nate grins in spite of himself. For all the numbness of the last hour, this moment feels solid and real.
"Are you done? Can we leave?" Parker asks Sophie, eyeing the stitches in her forehead.
"Nope," the doctor answers for her. "Miss Baker has a head injury; she needs a CT scan to rule out any complications."
Sophie waves him off. "I'm okay, I'm fine," she says.
"Head injuries can be tricky. We just want to make sure you're healthy, Miss Baker."
"It's true," Nate says, patting her hand. "It's okay, we're going to wait with you."
"Fine," she grumbles. As she starts to complain that it's a waste of time, and she's fine, and aren't there sick people in the hospital that need a doctor more than she does, her nose starts to bleed. "Oh," Sophie says when she realizes everyone is staring at her. She puts her hand to her face but slumps over sideways before she can look down and see blood.
The hospital staff jumps into emergency mode without batting an eye, pushing Nate firmly to one side and disappearing into the secret depths of the hospital without bothering to tell the rest of the team what was going on.
"What just happened?" Parker asks, eyes wide and still clinging to Hardison.
"No," Nate says sharply, before anyone can say anything else. "She's fine." The look in his eyes was wild and no one argues with him.
There is a small scuffle when Eliot decides it's time for Hardison and Parker to go home and get some sleep. "It's been three hours," he says, shaking out his coat and pulling out his keys. "You both look like trash. You're coming with me and you're getting some sleep."
"No," Hardison says with a sharp glare. "Take Parker, she needs to rest. I'm not leaving. This is my fault and I need to... To..." He can't finish.
Eliot sighs disgustedly. "Fuck, Hardison, not it's not. Just 'cause you were driving doesn't make it your fault. That guy hit you."
"It's not your fault," Parker says quietly. "And I'm not leaving either."
They are both adamant, but neither of them have the physical strength to fight back when Eliot bodily herds them out the door. "I'll be back with coffee," Eliot offer, but Nate doesn't really hear him.
Nate stares at the doors and feels every echoing heartbeat in his chest while he waits for news. The waiting, the not knowing, it's almost fully unbearable. He wishes he knew something, anything, about what was going on behind those doors. For a split second, Nate wishes for any news, even bad news, because then at least he would be able to know and stop agonizing over not knowing. Nate hates himself more than usual for that thought.
A frazzled resident comes through the door and smiles weakly at him. "Mister... Baker, was it?"
Nate can't remember what ID he used when he showed up, so he agrees because he wants the doctor to shut up and get to the point. "The crash caused some swelling, but we were able to get it down and repair the physical damage. We won't know the full extent of the injury until she wakes up, but if you'd like to see her now, you can come with me."
He follows the guy down the hall, not even sure what he's going to find when they stop. The doctor had talked about swelling and damage and in a normal setting, Nate might know what all that means, but when it's in reference to Sophie, he can't imagine. The doctor stops short and Nate almost crashes into him.
"Like I said, she's not quiet awake yet. I'll be around to check on you in a few minutes." He holds the door open for Nate.
Sophie is still asleep, like the doctor warned, but even asleep Nate can tell something is different. He stands uncomfortably next to the bed, staring at his feet.
"Sophie?" he finally works up the nerve to say. Of course, she doesn't answer. "I want you to wake up soon," he tells her. "We're all really worried about you. Eliot almost had to punch Alec out to get him to go home." Nate smiles softly to himself, as if this is a treasured memory and not just another example of their special brand of family dynamic. Compared to everything else this day has brought them, it practically is a treasured memory.
He stands with her in silence for another few minutes until the first doctor comes back with a handful of other doctors. "We'll call you if there is any change, okay? You should go home and get some rest, Mister Baker. I'm sure you're feeling exhausted."
Nate protests, but finishes his sentence with a yawn and the doctor has a nurse escort Nate back to the emergency room doors. "We'll be sure to call you if anything comes up."
"I should be here when she wakes up," Nate says, looking back over his shoulder. "She'll be upset if I'm not."
"Your wife is going to be just fine," the nurse soothes. Nate doesn't correct the error.
Eliot and Parker go out early the next morning, headed to some remote drop-off to meet their current mark's secretary as part of the job, but only after Nate promises he'll text the moment he knows something about Sophie's condition. Hardison comes with him to the hospital.
"Mister Baker, good morning. We've been expecting you. And this is...? Visiting hours are for family only, you know." The nurse at the desk looks Hardison up and down apologetically, but the way her arms are folded across her chest indicates she's not afraid to get physical if someone tries to break the rules.
"He's our son," Nate says shortly. He marches past her, steering Hardison by the shoulder.
"Oh, Mister Baker!" The resident, still in his clothes from the night before, stops Nate and Hardison right before the door to Sophie's room. "I need to talk to you before you go in there," he says. There's a tight smile on his face, very forced, and Nate's head is suddenly spinning and he simultaneously wishes he hadn't had a drink with breakfast and that he'd had five or six more drinks with breakfast.
"What?" he says, knowing it sounds confrontational. Hardison puts his hand on Nate's elbow to steady them both.
The doctor breezes right by the animosity. "I just want you both to be prepared for what's going on. In cases like this, cases with a head trauma during a stressful event like an accident, that a little amnesia is not uncommon. It should pass in a few days and she'll be right back to her old self. You just need to be patient with her until then, alright?"
"Amnesia?" Nate repeats, uncomprehendingly. "She doesn't remember who she is?"
"No, no, nothing that severe. She's just having trouble recalling the little details as to what happened. She knows she's in the hospital and that her head hurts, but not why or how. Like I said, we're confident she'll regain these memories in the next few days. Now, Doctor Sampson wants to keep her here for a another day or two for observation, despite her phenomenal recovery thus far, but she's adamant that she be allowed to leave. Because she's had a head injury, it falls to you, the medical proxy, to make that choice, okay?"
Nate continues to stare blankly just past the man's left ear. The sudden influx in his polite doctor talk had combined with the sharp smell of hospital-grade disinfectant and he's having unwelcome flashbacks.
Hardison is sympathetic to this fact, so he only elbows Nate once in the ribs. "What my dear father here is trying to say is that, yes, we'll be taking my Mom home with us. If it's what she wants, we'll do it, head trauma or not. We can always bring her back if something isn't right, right?"
"Of course, of course," he assures them. "But are you certain you wouldn't rather keep her here a bit longer and --"
"She's coming home. Get the paperwork ready," Nate snaps, before turning his back to the doctor and heading into Sophie's room. Hardison shrugs in half-hearted apology and follows Nate into the room. He stops short to avoid running into Nate who's hanging back just beyond the privacy curtain. Sophie hasn't noticed them yet. She's sitting up and flipping idly through a magazine and other than the fact that her head is still bandaged up with white gauze, she looks just like her normal self.
"Hey there," Hardison says softly, approaching. "How are you feeling?"
Sophie smiles brightly. "Hello, I'm feeling fine. Just a bit of a head ache. But Doctor Greenberg said that was normal."
"Right, right. There, uh... Was a pretty big accident," Hardison says carefully. Nate recognizes the guilty sound in his voice and it's familiar enough that Nate suddenly feels guilty too.
"I don't remember," Sophie says shortly. "I told the doctors that. Are you another doctor?"
Hardison blinks, then shakes his head slowly. "No, I... Sophie?"
"Who are you, then? A nurse? Are you from the police department about the accident?"
Hardison looks helplessly back at Nate, but before Nate can say anything, the doctor shows up at his side with paperwork. "Ahh, Sarah Jane, are you having some trouble recognizing these good looking guys? That's okay, we can work through it. This is your husband and your son. Do you remember?"
'Sarah Jane' narrows her eyes and tries to focus on them. "Of course," she says, but she doesn't sound quite so sure.
"Your husband, Tom, and your son..." the doctor pauses for a second, trying to recall Hardison's name. Considering they'd only met briefly the day before in a bustling ER, it takes him a very short time to remember it. "Your son, Francisco."
"Of course I remember," Sarah Jane says again. "I said 'of course', didn't I?" She drops her magazine to hold a hand out to Hardison, who takes it carefully. The doctor beams, like he's just come up with the cure for ingrown toenails and hands Nate a clipboard full of papers to sign.
"Are we going home now, Francisco?" Sarah Jane asks and Hardison nods, still looking a bit bewildered. Sophie is a great actress when they're on the job, but they're not on a job and she's really convincing right now. Nate understands why Hardison looks so uneasy. It's the same thing Nate's feeling.
"Tom, what's wrong? Come here." Sarah Jane says, beckoning to Nate. No one had told her which fake identity he was using today, so how does she know?
They manage to get her out to Nate's car without further incident, but even as their driving back to Nate's apartment, she calls them by the wrong names.
"I know the doctors asked all these questions already, but... Can you tell me what your name is?" Nate has a weird feeling he can't shake, like all the moisture in his body has evaporated at once. He feels like one strong gust -- of wind, of emotion, of anything -- is going to make him crumble and disappear if Sophie doesn't come back and give him the answers he's looking for.
"Sarah Jane Baker," she sighs, touching his arm. "I'm fine, Tom, really. And to save you any further questions. I was born May fifteenth, nineteen eighty, my parents names are David and Elisabeth, I grew up in the Carlisle. We married ten years ago and... Oh. Was it eight years ago? Sorry, dear." She folds down the sun visor and checks herself out in the mirror. "I can't believe they had to shave it off..." she flips the mirror away quickly and touches the bandage covering her bare scalp. "Hats for the next few months, I suppose."
Hardison is in the middle of texting Parker so she and Eliot are prepared when they all meet up next that he almost misses the mental math. "Wait," he whispers to Nate, leaning between the seats from the back. "She is not thirty-one." Nate just shushes him and focuses on the road. Anything to keep from crumbling.
Eliot leans forward in his seat and lowers his voice so Sophie won't hear them from the kitchen. "So she actually thinks she's this Sarah Baker person? I know head injuries are bad, but what are the odds on that?"
"Pretty good, actually." Hardison looks up from his netbook. "I'm checking out Miss Sarah Jane Emily Baker here, and Soph did a pretty great job making her back story. Born in May, nineteen eighty, grew up in Carlisle... There's birth certificates, school records, medical records, even. I think this is one of Sophie favourite aliases. Well, besides Sophie Devereaux."
"It's why she's so comfortable like this. And Hardison and I fit right into it because we didn't openly contradict it." Nate may be talking to the rest of the group, but he's watching 'Sarah Jane'.
She's puttering around in the kitchen, opening cupboards and peering in, touching things, running her fingers along the counter and faucets. She's relearning where everything goes as if she's part of this room.
"I don't like her. I want Sophie back," Parker says bluntly. "How do we fix her?"
Before anyone can admit they have no idea whatsoever, Sarah Jane comes over to where they're sitting around the table and smiles easily. "I'm going to make lunch for us. Does everyone like tomato soup?"
Everyone smiles back and nods and when she beams and wanders back to the kitchen, Parker sighs explosively. "I hate tomato soup. Sophie would know that."
Nate pushes his chair away from the table and stands up. "Parker, enough," he says. He helps Sarah Jane make lunch.
They tell Sarah Jane that Parker and Eliot are Nate's niece and nephew and they all sit down for a tense, quiet lunch. It's tense because they all feel tense and no amount of Sarah Jane's forced cheerfulness in the face of the tenseness is making that go away. Plus, the soup is terrible.
"I don't care how messed up her brain is, if the food was that bad, she's still Sophie," Eliot says to Nate while they wash up. Nate rolls his eyes, but there's a little spark of hope that flares up when Eliot talks. It's true. No one is quite as bad a cook as Sophie is.
"Hey there," Sarah Jane says softly as Nate is putting the last carefully dried glass into the cupboard. Eliot makes himself scarce.
"Is something wrong, Tom?" she asks. Nate shrugs.
"No, no, it's --"
"You're worried about me." Even though she has no idea who he is, she can still read him like a well-worn copy of See Spot Run.
Nothing else in her life is being honest with her right now, not even her own mind. Nate can't lie to her now any more than he could fly to the moon backwards. "More than you know, actually," he tells her.
She leans in and kisses him, more softly and sweetly than Sophie ever had before, and even though he's going to hate himself for it in half an hour, he kisses her back. Sarah Jane might be overwhelming right now, but he knows his Sophie is still in there somewhere.