Disclaimer:  The following is a work of fan fiction based on White Collar which belongs to Jeff Eastin and USA. It is in no way intended to infringe on the copyrights of Jeff Eastin and USA.

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White Collar

Pre N/P/E. M/M

Lauren gave a huff of frustration, and glared at the man that sat opposite her. Neal Caffrey, convicted of bond forgery, but suspected of art forgery, art theft, and multiple counts of counterfeiting. The man had no right to be sitting here in the New York office for White Collar crime; he should be sitting in prison serving out the remainder of his sentence. But no, instead her boss, Agent Burke, had taken him out of prison on a work release program; for four years he would be Burke’s consultant. Reluctantly she recognized that Caffrey was good, and that he had been responsible for helping them close some high-profile cases.

Burke’s Crew, as Caffrey liked to call them, much to Jones' amusement and her disgust, had been working hard for the last three months, handling high-profile jobs that had started with taking down the Dutchman; she had missed that one. There had been a succession of arrests and only one high-profile failure, a particularly-nasty white collar criminal, JR Ryan; the man had slipped through their fingers, but they had gotten his brother in a sting involving a Raphael. But the underworld was talking of Ryan returning to New York with revenge on his mind.

Well, they hadn’t had time to worry about that. Another job had come up and Caffrey had been working undercover: he had been setting up an art dealer by the name of Mark Taylor when he had been kidnapped on route to their meeting. It turned out that Taylor had recognized him and wanted to get his hands on the paintings that he believed Caffrey had hidden away. Caffrey had been bundled into a car and driven off to a warehouse on the outskirts of an industrial area, where he could be questioned at their leisure. 

Caffrey had been off the anklet but had been carrying the high-tech transmitter pen they had issued him for the sting, and they had heard everything that had gone on in the warehouse.  There was no mistaking the look of concern that had shadowed Burke’s face as they had heard the distinct sound of fists hitting flesh. They had already been suiting up when Neal’s voice came over the wire; there was a note of terror to it that none of them had ever heard before, as Taylor had gloated about how Nick Halden, or should I call you Neal Caffrey, was going to sing like a bird once he got him juiced up. 

When they got into the warehouse and started moving in on Caffrey, one of Taylor’s men had seen them and there had been a firefight; Lauren clenched her fist to try to still the tremor that still ran through it. She had pulled her weapon before, but had never had to discharge it in the line of duty, let alone shoot someone; now her weapon was with forensics and there was a man in the morgue because of her. All because Neal Caffrey’s past had reared up and bit them in the ass; she glared at him, but it had no effect: by the time they secured him Caffrey had already been pumped full of a hybrid drug cocktail.

Burke had taken him to the hospital. The doctors had been reluctant to go into too much detail about Caffrey’s medical condition, they had been told the bare bones that they had done blood tests, and formed a profile of the drug; the good news was that it was non-addictive, but it was a hybrid truth drug, laced with rohypnol to name but one: it was a regular cocktail. The doctor had then explained that any further details could only be released to Mr. Caffrey’s family members.

It was then Peter had told them that he was Neal’s medical proxy now that had been news to her and that he could produce the relevant paperwork if required. She had seen the way the doctor had hesitated but stuck to his guns, family members only.  Peter had just looked him in the eye and said that he would be back, and ordered her to remain with Caffrey. From her vantage point in the corridor she had seen Burke return; he had located the doctor and pushed the papers in his hand. She didn’t have to be a lip reader to know he said “okay, now tell me.”  A few minutes later Peter had thanked him and then called her over.

“How is he?”

“He’s going to be okay, but that was one hell of a drug they pumped in him, Lauren. It’s going to take 24 hours at least to pass out of his system. It’s going to affect the way he acts; best you know that up front, he’s going to be … well let’s say that it’s going to play hell with his inhibitions.” It was then that Peter had looked at her with an intensity, making sure that she understood, “I don’t care what Neal says, short of confessing to murder, you forget it."

She had tried to hide it, but she had been disgusted by the way that Caffrey had been so clinging and needy with Burke in the hospital, for god’s sake he had been hanging onto Burke’s arm and wrapping himself around him and in the car he had all but crawled onto her boss's lap, but Burke had treated it as if it was the most natural thing in the world. The only problem was that once they got back to the office Burke had been called out with Jones on a related matter, so she had been stuck with Caffrey. Lauren swore under her breath as she noticed the growing pile of wallets in front of him; god, the man was a magpie anything bright and shiny he was attracted to.

Standing up, she cleared her throat and for the second time that afternoon said, “Ladies and gentlemen, check your wallets, please.”

Instead of being angry, her fellow agents just shook their heads in amusement and came across to reclaim their possessions from Neal’s desk, and went back to work as if this wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

Just then the phone rang and Lauren answered it; she felt the color drain from her face, it was the OPR: they wanted her in their office by 4:00 pm for an interview about the shooting.

Lauren looked up at the clock; she had less than an hour to go and there was no sign of Burke and Jones; she tried to concentrate on the file in front of her, only to have Caffrey on his feet again and heading down the office. She slammed her hand down on the desk; how the hell was she supposed to concentrate with him wandering round like a lost soul all the time.  She suddenly knew she had to get out of there. Quickly she took off down the office and caught Caffrey’s arm and dragged him back to the chair, and pushed him down.

“Sit and stay, Caffrey.”

“Woof,” he leaned back in his chair, and nearly fell out of it, grinning at her as if that had been the greatest joke in the world.

That was the last straw. Looking around, she saw Agent Jeff Miller; like her he was a probie, but unlike her he didn’t have Peter Burke as his mentor.  She hesitated and gave another look at the clock. “Jeff, keep an eye on Caffrey for me, okay? I would but I have an appointment; I can’t wait until Burke comes back.”

“Agent Burke.”

“It won’t be a problem, just make sure that Caffrey stays put, and for god's sake don’t lose him; he’s off the anklet.”

 Jeff Miller nodded and turned back to his file, and then out of the corner of his eye he saw Neal Caffrey get up on his feet again, swaying; jumping up, he caught hold of him and spun him around, dropping him back into the chair. “Stay put, okay.”  

Miller had only just sat down again and begun on the file when sure enough he looked up and Caffrey was gone again; he frantically looked around for him, then he saw him the man was picking the lock of one of the agent’s desks.  The young probie couldn’t understand why none of the other agents were stopping him. Quickly he took off after his wayward charge, grabbing Caffrey’s arm, spinning him around and away from the desk. The last thing he was expecting was Caffrey to smile and offer him a treat from an opened red and white packet, as he asked, “cookie?”

“You picked a lock to get some cookies?” Miller said it as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“They're triple blended Belgian chocolate cookies; Agent Cox buys them for me,” Caffrey said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.  Taking a bite from one of the cookies, Caffrey leaned into him as he added in a whisper that could be heard half-way across the room, “the shop is outside of my radius.”

Miller knocked the cookie from his hand and grabbed the packet.

 “Hey, no snatching, you can’t have all of them,” Caffrey said indignantly, then pointed a finger at him, waving it under his nose, as the con man  added, “I am telling Peter you grabbed my cookies, he won’t like that; he likes to get his hands on them himself.”

Miller tried to ignore the female agents as one of them stage whispered, “Forget Burke, I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on his cookies,” and high fived her friend.

 Miller slammed the packet down on the desk, and frog marched Caffrey back to his chair but not before the con man blew a kiss at the female agent, as Miller, trying not to make eye contact with any of the other agents, could feel his face heating up.

Pulling out his handcuffs, he cuffed Caffrey’s hands in front of him that, he decided, would restrain him, but wouldn’t be too uncomfortable and pushed him down to sit on the chair, and then settled down to work on his file. Only to hear a voice next to his ear, “what're you reading?”

Spinning, he found himself nose to nose with Caffrey; the con man smiled at him, and then dropped the cuffs on the table. “That was fun, want to do it again.”

Getting up, Jeff led Caffrey back to his chair. “Turn around.” The con man did as he was told, offering the other wrist once Jeff had cuffed the first, and then allowed himself to be pushed back into the chair.

He had just settled back down; “want another go?” It was Caffrey and he was free again.

Jeff colored as he heard the other agents laughing; this time he was less than gentle as he bundled Caffrey back into the chair and this time handcuffed him through the upper rung, this way Caffrey’s hands were tethered uncomfortably high behind his back, and he tightened them close around his wrists. He wasn’t going to be made a fool of for a third time.

When he straightened up, Miller found himself looking into Caffrey’s face; the look the con man gave him was one of total loss, then sheer panic.  Caffrey pulled roughly at the cuffs, rocking the chair. Miller clamped his hand down on his shoulder. “Stay put or you're back in prison,” Miller threatened, in a harsh whisper, pleased when he saw the flicker of fear flash across Caffrey’s face.  Miller nodded his approval; now he could get some work done.

Agent Carr came up; he dropped a hand onto Neal’s shoulder. “Miller, let him loose; he’s not going anywhere.”

“He’s off his anklet; you want to explain to Burke when he goes into the wind, because I am not.”

“He’s not going to run,” Carr leaned into Miller and dropped his voice, “if he wanted out of here you think this cracker box is going to hold him, he busted out of prison using the magnetic tape off a cassette; get real.”

“The cuffs stay on,” Miller said firmly.

Carr nodded but went back to Caffrey; Miller heard the click of cuffs being opened, and was on his feet. “Look, Carr.”

The other agent ignored him as he removed them, and helped Neal sit back in the chair; the anger was plain as he took in the broken skin around the con man’s wrists from where he had hurt himself, when he had struggled. He re-cuffed him, this time his hands in front and loosely; he caught Neal’s face and made sure that the other man was focusing on him. “Don’t slip them, okay.”

“Okay.” 

Carr was just starting to walk away when he turned back. “I know picking cuffs are like a compulsion with you, Peter told me, so don’t pick them either.”

“Okay, spoilsport,” Carr was just turned away when Caffrey added, “hey, you left your wallet.”  Caffrey beamed at him, holding it up in his cuffed hands.

Miller was on his feet when someone tapped him on the shoulder.  He turned fast, ready to give them a piece of his mind; his mouth dropped as cold gray eyes bore into him. “What the hell are you doing to Mr. Caffrey, Agent Miller, he is a member of this department and an official consultant. Bring him to my office now.”

Miller stood there watching Director Hughes take the stairs to his office.

Two hours later....

Peter came out of the elevator and looked around; not only was Lauren missing, so was Neal. He saw Director Reese Hughes step out of his office and wave him up.

“I was just …” he trailed off as he saw Neal lay stretched out on the old couch in Hughes’s office; by the side of it was a zoo of origami animals, made from sheets from a yellow legal pad.

“It seems you misplaced something, Peter,” Hughes said drolly.

“Neal wasn’t any trouble, was he?"

“Apart from stealing everyone’s wallets, no, he didn’t do anything.” Hughes paused. “Of course there was the medley of Rat Pack tunes that he sang.” Hughes allowed a trace of a smile. “He’s actually got quite a good voice on him.” The older man paused again and there was a look of annoyance on his face now. “When I found him he was handcuffed to the chair; even though he is still out of his anklet, in his current condition that is extreme.”

“What?” Peter snapped. “Lauren was babysitting him.” He looked at Neal and saw the bandages around his wrists. “What the hell happened to him?”

Hughes raised an eyebrow at that, and then continued. “Caffrey was bleeding from the wrists when I got in; they had been put on too tightly.  So I had him brought up here; it was either that or call the Marshals and put him in lockdown.” He held a hand up when Peter was about to apologize. “Caffrey did good work today, kept his head together, so none of this will go against him. Take him home, Peter; you can email your report in. And Peter, get a tracker on him; it makes the whole department nervous when he runs free he’s just too good.”

Peter knelt down by the side of the sleeping con and gently shook him awake; the smile he got from Neal was bright and unguarded, and in his hand Neal was clutching his wallet.  “Okay, time to go home.”

“I’ve got your wallet.” Neal waved it, an earnest expression on his face as he added, “I didn’t steal it.”

“I know; why don’t you keep hold of it for the moment, Neal; I keep on losing it,” Peter said straight-faced, fighting the urge to grin.

Neal nodded his head solemnly and held it tighter against his chest. Peter helped him to his feet. The con man swayed and leaned into the older man, throwing his arm around Peter to keep himself upright as his legs gave way under him; at the same time, Peter grabbed him around the waist to keep him from falling, leaving them nose to nose.

The younger man grinned at him. “Whoops, is that your gun or are you just pleased to see me,” and began to giggle in a completely un-Neal-like way. 

Peter gave a long-suffering sigh and looked up to the heavens for help, as Hughes shook his head in total disbelief, trying to stifle a chuckle at the sight of his best agent and said agent's wayward, but brilliant, consultant locked in an embrace. But to give him his due, Peter just rode with it, and soon had Neal Caffrey standing on his own feet again, even if he still had to have an arm wrapped around Caffrey’s waist to keep him upright. 

Hughes looked at the heavily-blood-stained shirt that Neal was wearing the head wound had been more bloody than serious and took his own FBI jacket down from off its peg behind the door as he said, “you keep hold of him while I get this on him.” 

It was like trying to put pants on a pig, near impossible since Neal was refusing to let go of Peter’s wallet which he was clutching, so his hand wouldn’t fit down the sleeve, and his other hand was locked tight on Peter’s shirt and he was equally reluctant to release his hold on the FBI agent that had become his friend and rock.  Finally Hughes managed to get the wallet off him, only to find that Neal was inconsolable, but its loss quieted him just long enough to get the jacket on him, then Hughes pressed it back in Neal’s hand.  The smile he got was breathtaking, as Neal made a great show of putting the wallet into the pocket of the jacket, then patted the pocket to double check it was still there, then, just as solemnly, as Peter led him out of the office, Neal handed Hughes his own wallet back.

Hughes watched the two men leave, and the Director couldn’t help but muse on how fast the young ex con man had managed to integrate himself into the department so quickly, as he saw the looks of concern that Neal was getting from his agents.

0-0-0-0-0

Neal had always been comfortable invading his personal space, and in fact routinely gave small touches to his arm and wrist to get his attention. Peter mused but like this in the elevator under the influence of the drugs he was plastered right against him, his head resting on his shoulder, his arm loosely wrapped around him. He gave a sigh; any other person would have gotten the rough edge of his tongue, but this was Neal, and he wasn’t himself.  But even so, Peter couldn’t help a soft sigh of relief when he finally got him out of the elevator and into his car.

Even that wasn’t easy as Neal kept undoing the seatbelt, only for Peter to have to lean over him and do it up again. In the end he caught Neal’s face and tugged it so that he was looking into the owlish eyes of his friend. “You really aren’t feeling any pain, are you, kiddo?” Peter drawled as he saw the way Neal’s pupils were blown. “You don’t touch the belt again, okay.”  When he didn’t get a reply, he added, “you do that and I’ll promise we'll do whatever you want to do.”

“Promise,” Neal breathed the word as if it was the most important thing in the world.

“Yeah, sure, Neal; I promise.”  Peter released his hold and then took out his cell phone. “El, its okay, honey, we're both safe. Neal got drugged.” He paused. “Hon, it’s okay, he’s okay; I’ve got him, and he’s a bit spaced out.” Peter rolled his eyes and looked up to the heavens and loved her all the more as he answered her. “Of course I'm bringing him home, like I said he’s totally spaced out, so if he say anything....” He heard his wife laugh, and then added, “Thanks, see you in 15.”

Neal snuggled down in the seat and rested his head against the window, closing his eyes as they drove out into the sunlight; he was going home, and that was all that mattered.

0-0-0-0-0-0

Burke Home

Getting Neal up the steps to his front door had been interesting, to say the least; it was like wrestling an octopus: the younger man’s hands had been everywhere. El had opened the door, which had been the signal for Neal to push away from him and immediately engulf her in a hug, as the younger man had buried his face into her long dark hair.

El hadn’t panicked; she had just returned the hug, holding him for as long as it had taken, until he was ready to pull away.  He cocked his head to one side and then leaned forward and gave her soft kiss to the cheek. When he tried to sit down on the couch, Peter caught his arm, “Not yet, Neal; let me get the blankets down first. El wants to make it really comfortable for you.”

When Peter turned towards the stairs, Neal was in front of him again, blocking him; when he move to the right Neal mimicked it, only to be saved by El. “You stay with him, I’ll get them.” Neal moved in close again, wrapping one arm around his neck, giving a soft sigh as Peter held him, and allowed him to rest his head on his shoulder. If this was what Neal needed, Peter had no problem giving it to him.

Five minutes later El was back downstairs and had finished laying the blankets onto the couch, and turned to Neal and her husband. “I’ll put some soup on, see if we can get Neal to eat something; I am sure he’ll feel better for it.”

Peter nodded his thanks and helped Neal over to the couch as El headed into the kitchen. Neal was swaying back and forward; Peter slowly eased away from him, but kept one hand out just in case he was going to lose his balance and fall.  The next thing Peter knew Neal has closed the distance and was in his face, and then a hard push and he found himself sprawled back on the couch with Neal straddling his thighs, hands pressing down on his shoulders holding him in place.

Peter caught Neal around the waist to stop him from falling, and looked up into the vivid blue eyes that now pinned him in place, as he leaned into him.

“Question, Peter?”

“Let’s get you comfortable then I’ll answer it, Neal.”

“NO!” Neal’s voice went up, “want an answer now, you promised.”

Peter shook his head; now wasn’t the time but if it would keep Neal calm. “Okay, what’s the question?”

“What do you want from me?” Neal cocked his head to one side, staring at his face as if he was one of his beloved impressionist masterpieces. “Do you want to fuck me, Peter, is that your price?”

Peter laughed out loud; drugged out of his head, Neal had lost the guard he usually had on his emotions, and the pain and sadness showed plainly on his face. It was then that Peter knew that this was no con Neal was serious, totally serious.

Neal raised a hand slowly, just like he did when Peter had arrested him for the second time, when he hadn’t wanted him to react or see his actions as threatening, and with the back of his hand stroked down Peter’s cheek and jaw. Whatever he had thought Neal was going to do, he wasn’t prepared for the younger man leaning forward and kissing him. The first touch of Neal’s lips was soft, and then he deepened it; Peter pulled back, breaking the kiss, as Neal breathed, “you’re the only one I trust, the only one I would willingly let touch me.”

“I trust you too, Neal.” Peter held Neal’s gaze; the odds were that the younger man wouldn’t remember any of this, but if he did, he didn’t want him to think that Peter was disgusted by what he had done or said.

But something must have shown on his face because Neal suddenly panicked, and began to pull at his belt. “I can do better, make you feel real good; don’t send me back.” His words had become garbled and he was talking faster as he tried to undo Peter’s pants.

Peter caught his wrists in a tight grip; Neal pulled against him, trying to free himself.

“I can’t go back, I….”

“No one’s sending you back, Neal. Oh, hell,”  Peter could see that in this state Neal wasn’t taking in what he was saying, so he did the only thing he could think of: he quickly tugged Neal down by his side and wrapped his arms around him, holding him close.  Neal struggled and then slowly calmed as Peter spoke softly to him, and with one hand stroked his back and shoulders, soothing him. Finally Neal gave a contented sigh and Peter felt him bury his face against his neck.

Neal yawned and said, his voice muffled against his skin, “you got me out; can’t give you anything else, only got me,” then he yawned again and snuggled down and within minutes was asleep.

 Elizabeth was standing by the stairs. The last thing she had expected was to see her husband lip-locked with his consultant; her husband’s face had been a perfect picture. But then the smile had faded away as she heard what Neal had said. It had made her heart break for him. Neal was a young man, she realized, that had lost too much of himself along the way; he needed a sturdy moral rock to cling to and people that wouldn’t walk away from him. She was determined that would be them; Neal just had to learn that there wasn’t always a price to pay.

0-0-0-0-0

Late Afternoon

Peter knelt down by the couch and lightly put a hand to Neal’s forehead; the doctor had told him that he would run a fever and that as long as it didn’t go over 100 to just keep him comfortable. “Looks like his fever's broken.” Seeing Neal’s eyes open he added, “Hi, buddy, you’re back with us again.”

“Peter,” Neal’s voice was dry and croaky.

Elizabeth was by his side with a cup of water. Neal’s hand was shaking and the water was slopping over him, so Peter took the cup and helped him drink. “Better in you than down you, buddy.” Neal sank back down on the pillow; his hair was plastered around his face, the sweat glistening on his skin, and he looked uncomfortable and as weak as a kitten.

“Okay, come on, Neal, let’s get you squared away.” Peter leaned over him and managed to get him to his feet with El’s help and together they half carried, half walked him upstairs into the bedroom. Neal would rest more easily once he had had a shower.

There was no way that Neal could stand, so quickly, while Elizabeth was getting the water temperature right, Peter stripped down to his boxers and then sat Neal on the side of the bed and got him out of his clothes, and helped the slender naked con man into the shower.

Elizabeth stripped down to her slip, and stepped under the water; Peter started to position Neal so that she could help support him while he did the washing. But Neal was heavier than he looked and began to drag her down. Quickly Peter changed position with her; taking Neal in his arms supporting him, as Neal rested his head on his shoulder, with a soft sigh, and wrapped himself around Peter.

Soaping up the washcloth, Elizabeth began to wash him, the back of his neck, across his shoulders, then down his back and flanks, she paused looked at Peter and shrugged, smiled at him, then worked her way down Neal’s buttocks and legs. Peter managed to ease Neal onto one arm; taking the cloth he  quickly wash the younger man’s throat, chest and stomach, before dropping it into the corner of the shower stall. Neal, eyes closed, tilted his head up and sighed contently as the water splashed down on his face, as he reveled in the feeling of the warm water on his skin and the feel of fingers carding through his hair as it was washed.

Elizabeth turned the water off, then between them dried Neal off and wrapped him in warm towels and helped him into the bedroom, sitting him on the edge of the bed. Quickly changing into dry clothes, she began to dry Neal’s hair as Peter changed.

Neal was nearly falling asleep under her gentle touch, but when El tried to move away enough to give him a chance to lie down, he caught her hand. “It's okay, sweetie, I am not going anywhere,” she said to reassure him. El climbed onto the bed and pulled the pillows behind her, and then opened her arms; it didn’t take much more encouragement for Neal to crawl into them, and wrap his arms round her and bury his face against her throat.  Peter stood at the door watching him; he knew he should be jealous of seeing another man resting in his wife's arms, but this was Neal and somehow it made it different. Once Neal was comfortable, El waved Peter over and he climbed on to the other side of the bed, and carefully curled his body around the younger man, protectively.

Peter met El’s gaze and then, leaning over Neal, kissed her sweetly on the lips, as they settled the younger man between them, silently acknowledging Neal’s importance in their lives.

0-0-0-0-0

The next morning....

The drug was still burning through Neal’s system, opening doors in his mind that he had long closed as the truth drug continued its insidious work.

Kyle Ryker woke to the sunlight streaming through the window, and to the smell of a decent roast coffee bean. Blinking to focus his eyes, he saw a pretty brunette sitting on the edge of the bed, holding a steaming mug of coffee; he knew her but he couldn’t put a name to her.

 “Morning,” her voice was bright and breezy, but there was nothing fake in her concern for him. She held out the mug of coffee, but when she saw how his hand was shaking she helped him drink; when he had had his fill she placed the mug on the floor and reached a hand out and felt his forehead as he tried to pull back. She frowned. “How are you feeling?”

“I'm fine.” But when he caught the look she gave him, he amended. “I feel a bit shaky.”

“An honest answer; you’re doing well, sweetie,” the woman said, trying to reassure him as she coaxed him back down on the pillows.

Things were really getting puzzling; what the hell had happened? She was his type, but he didn’t sense any sexual history with her in the way she spoke to him or touched him.

Kyle wracked his brains; the last thing he remembered was going down in a hail of gunfire, the hospital and a man helping him escape. Memories of being in prison came back to him, fragments of a fight in a shower room, breaking a man’s neck as he dropped the man’s cronies. Kyle shook his head, and a headache began to hammer behind his temple. He allowed himself to close his eyes as a wave of nausea swamped him, and he fought to not bring the coffee back up, but before he could panic, he felt her soothing hand stroke his face. The world began to spiral and he let himself drift back to sleep. 

El waited until Neal was asleep and then made her way downstairs; she would check up on him later, that is, if Peter didn’t beat her to it first.

0-0-0-0-0-0

When Kyle next woke the pounding headache was gone; he slowly sat up in bed, then padded over to the chair, and pulled on the clothes he found there. They smelled freshly laundered. Looking around the room, without even having to think about it he found the gun safe. It was ridiculously easy to open. Inside it were two boxes: one was empty, the other housed an automatic; he checked the clip that lay near it, and slapped it in place.  Sitting back down on the bed, he picked up the phone and began to punch in a well-remembered number. 

0-0-0-0-0-0

June’s House

Mozzie was sitting with June in the middle of their book club when his phone rang; this was the one that he never expected to hear ring. It was a phone from the past, but for some reason he had never let it go.

“Hello,” Mozzie said carefully as if the phone was a bomb that might go off at any minute.

“Hello, Moz-man, long time no hear.” 

Mozzie swallowed hard. It was as if he had been hit in the stomach; it was a name he hoped not to hear again, that could only mean one person. “Hello, Kyle.” Over the phone he heard the slide of an automatic being cocked. He added quickly, “don’t do anything rash. Where are you?” He heard Kyle walk around, and the sound of curtains being pulled back.

“Looks like a town house, and....”

Mozzie tuned him out as he tugged a second cell phone from his pocket; there were two missed calls on it, a quick check of the calls showed Burke’s cell phone number.

“The people you’re with are not in the game, they don’t know who you are, your cover is intact. They know you as Neal Caffrey, con man, art forger, counterfeiter, the usual. The man is FBI agent Peter Burke; you’re on parole work placement.” Mozzie paused. “Long story, Kyle, but he’s your handler, you're working White Collar Crimes. The woman is his wife Elizabeth, she’s a real good friend; they both are. Listen to me, I am on my way over. Sit tight and you are on amber hold, repeat amber hold.”

 The phone call cut off, and Mozzie found himself looking at a concerned June.

“I don’t understand what you just said, Mozzie, but is Neal in trouble?”  June’s face showed her concern for the young con man; she treated him more like a favorite nephew rather than a tenant.

“It’s going to be okay, I just have to get to Neal now.” Mozzie picked up his bag and hurried out; the situation had just gone to defcon 1.

0-0-0-0-0-0-0

Kyle tucked the gun into the small of his back, pulled his shirt down over it, and made his way barefoot down the stairs, one hand clamped to the banister to keep himself upright. As his head began to spin, he paused to take a couple of deep breaths.

Before he could stumble, the man Mozzie had called Peter Burke was there catching his arm and helping him to the couch, allowing him to sink down. A dog came up and bumped against his knees to get his attention; Kyle rubbed him behind the ears as he watched Burke answer the phone, striding up and down as he took the call.

“That was Hughes, Neal. We have to stay here and batten down the hatches; there’s a possibility that Ryan is going to come after us, because of the Raphael sting. He’s going to post some agents outside of the house.”  He paused. “I won’t let him get to you, Neal.” As he spoke, his wife came in from the kitchen. She looked worried; Peter slipped his arm around her, and hugged her close.

Kyle cocked his head to one side, and frowned slightly. He could feel emotions for them. He wanted them to be safe; he wanted to go to bed and….  Just then the back door came flying open and three men came in hard and fast. Peter was unarmed and started to lunge towards his gun on the table but pulled up short as he saw the guns now trained on them.  Kyle knew he couldn’t get to his weapon in time so had to bide his time.

Ryan came in; the man was smug and swaggering. “You cost me, Burke, now I am going to make you pay.”

“Get out while you can, Ryan; backup's on its way.”

“Good try, Burke.” Ryan said, “Now I had to choose, and leave my brother behind, so you get to choose as well, your boyfriend or your wife: which one are you going to save?”

“Neal’s not my boyfriend.” Peter started to protest, needing Ryan to understand and leave the younger man out of whatever his sick game was.

“Sure, and the way you were holding him in the hospital didn’t mean anything. Surprised? I’ve been having you watched. He’s your partner, your fuck buddy; hell, man, according to that little sweet treat from your office everyone in your unit calls him your boyfriend, does the wife know about him?” He gloated, turning to Elizabeth, “how’s it feel, to know your husband is fucking his consultant? What do you do, Burke, bend him over the desk when you work late? He’s prison-trained, got a lot of practice there, getting down on his knees; he blow you, Peter? “

Ryan looked the young con man up and down and then Elizabeth. “So you get to choose, Peter, which one we fuck, Caffrey or your wife, your choice; if you don’t, we do them both in front of you. So what’s it going to be?”

Before Peter could answer, Kyle got to his feet, “You want to fuck, you do me, or aren’t you and the boys man enough to take me on.” Kyle sneered at him.

“Neal.” Peter grabbed at his arm, only to have it shaken off.

“It’s not your choice, Burke, I’ll be all right." He turned back to Ryan. "You want me, then take me.”

Ryan grinned. “Boys, take our toy upstairs, and Caffrey, if you're good enough, maybe we won’t need the lady.” Kyle was caught hold of and they started to drag him upstairs. “Their bedroom, fuck him on their marriage bed, and leave some of him for me.”

Elizabeth’s fingers dug into Peter’s hands and tears ran down her face, but facing the guns there was nothing that he could do. Peter understood what Neal had done; he knew that he would choose El, his wife, over him, but in doing that it would destroy him, so Neal had volunteered so that he didn’t have to say the words. Upstairs they heard a cry of pain and then the heavy sound of a body hitting the floor, and the crash of something being overturned. Peter started up from the couch, only to have El catch his hand as Ryan’s gun leveled straight at his face, and the man laughed.

0-0-0-0-0

Peter saw Neal suddenly appear behind Ryan, blood running down his face from a reopened wound. The first thing Ryan knew of it was when the cold metal of a gun was pressed against the back of his neck.

“Drop the gun now.”  Kyle’s voice was ice cold and deadly.

“You won’t do it, Caffrey, you shoot me and Burke dies, a bullet to the stomach.”

“My first bullet will sever your motor control function, Ryan; you won’t even be able to twitch, so drop the gun now.”

“I’ll count to five, Caffrey.” Ryan tried to bluff.

“I don’t count,” Kyle said,

Ryan swallowed hard, as he suddenly knew that Caffrey wasn’t bluffing, he threw the gun away from him, just as a fist slammed into his kidney and doubled him over, only to have a foot stamp on the back of his knee, sending him crashing down. 

Kyle had been trained to take the threat out, fast and permanently; he caught Ryan’s hair, arched his head back, and ground the barrel of the automatic under his jaw, as he heard Peter Burke call him.

“Neal,” Peter called his name, but when the younger man looked at him, Peter saw the eyes that burned into him were cold and emotionless; it wasn’t Neal it was a stranger wearing Neal’s face that looked back at him.

The voice was hard and deadly as Kyle hissed into Ryan’s ear, “you don’t get to hurt them, you bastard.” He increased the pressure on Ryan’s throat with the gun, his finger tightening on the trigger.

“Neal, no.” Peter took a step forward. “You can’t kill him, and you’re not a killer.”

“Huh, Peter, Peter, you don’t really know me, do you?” Kyle drawled.

“I know you don’t like guns, I know you had to use one to save us; let me take him, and get the cavalry here.” Moving slowly, Peter got the cuffs from the pocket of his jacket and moved forward. Then the younger man stepped back and pushed his foot between the shoulder blades, forcing Ryan down onto his belly, as Peter roughly pulled Ryan’s hands behind his back and cuffed him as Elizabeth called 911.

Kyle started to walk away when Peter caught his arm. “Neal, the gun, you can’t have that when the police arrive.” Ryan rolled onto his side and started to mouth off; Kyle expertly kicked him in the head to silence him, and then pressed the gun into Peter’s hand.

“You need your gun, G man, there’re another two upstairs, remember.”

Peter handed the automatic to his wife, “both of you keep your eyes on him,” he jerked a thumb at the unconscious Ryan, “and if he tries anything, shoot.”  Before she could open her mouth, he added, “backup's on its way, Neal can’t be seen with a weapon, and I can’t leave you unprotected, but I have to see to those others.” She nodded her understanding, as Peter collected his own gun, and went upstairs.

Elizabeth gave a shudder as the reaction at what had happened came home to her; she reached out with her free hand, her eyes never leaving Ryan’s crumpled form, and took Neal’s hand, hanging onto it as she drew comfort and support from him.

0-0-0-0-0-0

The Burke House

Mozzie was worried; there wasn’t a moment when he didn’t have some real concerns, about the government, how many shooters were on the grassy knoll, the postal service, to name but a few. But they paled compared with the one thing that he knew wasn’t a conspiracy, that was in fact cold hard facts. The secret was one he had kept for the last ten years, and now it looked as if the lid was coming off that particular Pandora’s Box.

He had had to wait for the police and the FBI to go, before he could approach the house, but whatever had happened there, Neal, or rather Kyle, hadn’t been taken away in handcuffs.

For the tenth time since it had gone quiet he marched up and down outside of the house of possibly the only suit that he trusted, Agent Burke, and his lovely wife, Elizabeth; the problem was would they believe him. Or would they laugh at him, until the body count got into double digits. He had a story to tell, and Peter Burke was possibly the only person that had a vestige of interest in helping him make sure that it all came out okay.

Finally he went up the steps and knocked on the door; it was Elizabeth Burke that answered. He took a deep breath. “Mrs. Suit, we need to talk.” Looking past her, he asked, “anyone die?”

“No.” Elizabeth was shaking and Mozzie patted her arm, doing his best to comfort her.

“Then he’s showing restraint.”

“Who?” Elizabeth asked.

“It’s a long story, and …” he broke off as he saw Kyle Ryker coming down the stairs; the smile he had was one that reminded him just how dangerous Ryker was.

Just then the younger man’s hand went to his head and his legs gave away and he would have hit the floor, only Peter’s quick reactions stopped him.  Carefully Peter laid him on the couch as Elizabeth called 911 for the second time that day.

0-0-0-0-0-0

General Hospital

Mozzie was twitching as he paced; he didn’t like hospitals and for the fourth time in half an hour he washed his hands with an antiseptic wipe, but he refused to leave his friend.

Peter finally blocked him, “Mozzie, you have to talk to us; that wasn’t Neal, no way was that Neal. I chased him for three years; he’s not violent."

“That wasn’t Neal Caffrey; it was Kyle Ryker. Ten years ago, I was working a certain job in Miami, and my crew crossed the path of White River One, a black ops department of the Agency.”  When Mozzie saw the look on Peter’s face he added, “This isn’t paranoia, Suit, this is real. Ryker was one of their operatives; he specialized in wet work, but he had a cover and a very real talent. That cover was Neal Caffrey. I met him first as Caffrey, and he allegedly provided me with a painting. The payoff with the third party went sour and he saved my life and told me to get the hell out of there.” 

Mozzie lapsed into silence; he walked towards the window and stared out of it. “The next time I saw Neal was in New York; he scared the hell out of me, I thought he had come to finish me off. But he hadn’t he had gone rogue, we talked, Suit, and he told me his name was Kyle Ryker. Later, as he went to leave I gave him a cell phone number told him I owed him, then he turned back at the door and said, 'call me Neal'.”

Mozzie looked back from the window “One night I got a call on that number. It was a hospital. A man had been brought in with no ID; he was in a coma, serious head injury. All they had was that number. It was Kyle Ryker. I paid for his medical bills and when he woke up six weeks later he was Neal Caffrey and living his cover, only now it was his life.

"I never saw any trace of Ryker in Neal, until one night when we were in Italy. Neal had to get close to a mark; the man liked what he saw he was rich and slipped Neal rohypnol, only it didn’t go the way he thought. That night Ryker came back, and it wasn’t pleasant.” Mozzie threw his hand up. “He didn’t kill anyone, just protected himself. Once the danger was over, Neal came back, but he didn’t remember anything that had happened when he was Kyle.”

“Ryker is he dangerous to us?”

“No, he would never harm you; he feels a connection to you. What he did in the house giving himself up so that you didn’t have to choose was very much based on the emotions that Neal has for you both.  Kyle was channeling them; he was there to protect you. If he hadn’t, then Neal would have done the same, only ...” at the point Mozzie’s eyes glistened with emotions, “Neal would have given himself up, given his body to protect you, and to hell with the consequences.”

Mozzie gave a shudder, “I can’t believe I told you all that, Suit. You tell anyone I’ll deny it, but you needed to know.” He paused. “Because Neal needs you.”

Just then El came rushing up, a smile on her face. “Peter, Mozzie, Neal’s coming around.”

0-0-0-0-0-0

Four hours later

Peter watched as Neal, or rather Kyle, paced up and down in his front room. He could see the exhaustion that was leaching the energy from the younger man, as the last of the drug cleared his system.  Each time they coaxed him to lie on the couch and walked out of the room, they would turn around to find him standing behind them; they would lead him back, only for it to be repeated. Peter was thoughtful; if Kyle couldn’t sleep then perhaps they could talk.

For a minute they sat there in strained silence, then with a sigh Peter said, “let me fill in the blanks for you and you do the same for me.”

Elizabeth curled up on the couch near Peter as she heard him tell Kyle about the deal he had with Neal Caffrey, the good work that he was doing, and how he had taken down criminals, and the partner he had become to him, and the friend that he had become to both of them.

“So Neal was a cover for you, but he’s more than that to us,” Peter shook his head. “I still find it hard to think how you could fit everything into your life that you did; you're what, 31?”

“It wasn’t hard, Peter,” Kyle cocked his head slightly as if testing to see if it was all right; he wasn’t as confident at using Peter’s first name as Neal was, so Peter nodded.  “I lost my parents when I was young; I knocked around the foster homes, a few good one.,” He smiled softly. "They looked after me, helped me with my drawing, but others....” Elizabeth saw the shudder that went through him, and every maternal instinct she had made her want to hold him close. “I did some time in juvi, escaped, and joined the Army before I was legal, and when I was tested they detected I had a certain mortal flexibility.”

Kyle leaned forward and yawned. “White River One recruited me, and given my artistic abilities, Neal Caffrey was born; the rest you know or think you know.”

Elizabeth asked, “is it true you stole the Monet from the Met?”

“Elizabeth,” Peter put in quickly.

She smiled, pleased to see the smile return to Neal’s face; there was just no way could she think of him as anything but Neal.

“Hypothetically I might have for god, country and the CIA”

0-0-0-0-0

Neal woke warm and with a feeling of being safe; it took him a moment to realize two things: one, his pillow was breathing and two, arms were wrapped around him and there was a soft weight on his back.

“Hi.”

Neal jolted but was held close with a firm hand keeping his head in place against what he suddenly realized was Peter Burke’s chest; it was then the panic set in.

“Easy, Neal, you're safe,” Peter said.

The con man felt like laughing, he was lying in bed in the arms, correction he was lying near naked in bed with …

“Morning, Neal.” A woman’s voice.

Elizabeth, Neal mentally corrected; he was lying near naked in bed with the FBI agent that had caught him and his wife: god, he was so screwed.  But at the same time he felt safe; the weight of Elizabeth’s head was on his back, and the light stroke of Peter’s hand was making him relax and he felt himself pulled towards sleep. He would worry about it later.

Just as he closed his eyes he heard Peter’s voice soft against his ear. “Welcome back, Neal.”

Peter ran his hand lightly over the younger man, who was nestled against him, reassuring himself that Neal was safe, then he yawned; it was still early, they could afford to sleep for a little longer. Confident that Neal couldn’t leave without both of them knowing, Peter tried to follow him back to sleep, only sleep wouldn’t come for him. Peter knew they had come so close to disaster in the last 24 hours, and it made him sick to his stomach: it had been too close. Without thinking about it he cuddled Neal closer, as he buried his face into the younger man’s hair.

One thing Peter knew was that it didn’t matter what Neal called himself; he had shown the depth of his feelings for them when he had offered himself up to Ryan in return for keeping them both safe.  What had shaken him was the knowledge that Neal would have done the same thing even without Kyle’s combat skill; he would have given his body up to protect them both and to hell with the consequences.

He remembered clearly how surprised Kyle had been when they had offered to share the bed with him, rather than let him sleep on the couch.  Kyle had pulled back slightly, and in a very un-Neal like way muttered softly that he would take the floor instead; it was then that El had taken charge, and before Kyle could turn away she had caught his hand. She had understood that for all Kyle’s training, there was still a part of him that must have been terrified when he had been attacked; he hadn’t spoken of it, but Kyle was only human and he had nearly been raped, and no one walked away from that without it leaving some sort of mark on them. El had gently overridden his protest and brought him into their bed, settling him between them, and like that he had finally gone to sleep.

Overnight, Peter mused, the last of the drug must have left Kyle’s system because that had been Neal that had woken up with them. As much as he hated having to do it he knew that he would have to talk to Neal about what had happened, and how much he remembered from when he had been Kyle Ryker.

“Hon,” El’s voice called him back to the present; she had propped herself up and was peering at him from over Neal’s shoulder.  With his free hand Peter reached out to her, and linked his hand with hers as she made herself comfortable against Neal. “It’s going to be all right, Peter; between us, we'll look after him.”

“Doesn’t he get a say in it?” Neal said, yawning, his face pressed to Peter’s shoulder, his breath warm against his throat.

Together they said, “NO”, then Peter added almost accusingly, “you’re awake.”

“Duh, how could I sleep, you thinking so hard it would keep anyone awake?”  Neal said as he pulled back enough so that he could look him in the face. Time seemed to stand still for Peter; it was as if he was waiting for something to happen that would set the world on its head.

“Either you’re going to like this or my ass is going to be grass.” Neal said softly and then he leaned forward and the next thing Peter knew he was being kissed.

Hell, he wasn’t just being kissed by him, Neal was putting everything he had into that kiss, as if he was scared that it was the only chance he would ever have; his hands clutched at him tightly. At the moment he felt Neal start to pull away, Peter took control of the kiss, rolling Neal over and onto his back, as he began to kiss him back, plundering the younger man’s mouth, giving Neal back what he had given him, passion for passion. When he finally eased back it was to look down into Neal’s stunned breathless face.

Peter grinned; it looked like he had robbed the smart-talking con man of his abilities to string words together. “Wow, you certainly are…. Wow.” He trailed off, then to Peter’s dismay, Neal lost all his color. “El.”

But before he could panic, El leaned down and then dropped a kiss onto Neal’s lips; it was soft and tender. She pulled back. “You, mister, are going nowhere; you need to rest, and it’s still early, and we need to talk.  So rest now, talk later.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Neal said, then added softly, “I could get to like this.”

“You better, because now we’ve got you we're not letting you go,” Peter said and his tone showed he meant it.

Peter tugged Neal so that he rested in the crook of his arm, and then reached across him with his other hand and took El’s hand again, interlacing their fingers as she leaned over and kissed him before curling up around Neal, their hands protectively resting across his waist.

Peter and El didn’t need words; their eyes met over the younger man and they silently vowed that they would make sure that Neal knew clearly his place in their lives.  It wouldn’t be easy; Peter was all too aware that for Neal words were his coin in trade as a con man—he could spin them into a bouquet of lies actions to Neal spoke more clearly to him. In the morning Neal would try to distance himself from them, try and make out that his kiss had been nothing more than the aftereffect of the drug. But Peter wasn’t stupid; he now recognized the longing and sadness in Neal’s eyes for what it was.  A yearning for something he thought he couldn’t have, that he didn’t deserve. Well, Peter thought, that ends now.  In the morning they would talk and leave him in no doubt that he was loved and wanted; with a yawn Peter dropped a kiss on his forehead and went back to sleep.  

 

 

The End