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.

Special thanks to Mam711 for your beta reading, and for your feedback and editing which made it what it is today.

All errors are mine   

Happy Christmas Mam711 this story is dedicated to you with thanks.

The Nature of the Beast

The Nature of the Beast

White Collar Supernatural AU

Notes

Vampires and werewolves had come out from the darkness during the Second World War, when a greater evil had threatened the world. Like humans, they had chosen sides, but once the war was over, the lid was off Pandora’s Box, and the knowledge of their existence couldn’t be taken away.

Werewolves needed to protect the pack, which meant they had joined law enforcement and search-and -rescue; vampires disappeared back into the dark, moving like shadows through society. The most powerful of the werewolves were the Grand Lupines, or Great Wolves, which had three forms: man, wolf and man-wolf; they were the Alphas. There were only two ways to become a werewolf: to be bitten by a werewolf during the full moon, or to be born into a werewolf family.

Vampires came in two species: the Dark Vampire, who were immortal, could change into wolves, and had to sleep the day through, rising only at night, before returning to their resting place at dawn;  the Day Walker, who could eat food and drink, but needed a small amount of blood to survive, as they took some nourishment from the food they ate.  But to walk in the sunlight took a lot of their energy so if they were denied blood, they would just like their dark brethren be consumed by the sunlight and burned to ash.  Day Walkers were not immortal they just aged very slowly and were unable to change their form.

Prison Paranormal Detention Center: When supernatural creatures had first become known, the problem was what to do with them if they broke the law. Some had argued that they should be executed, but wiser heads had argued that it should be, as with humans, the final penalty. The Paranormal Detention Center had been created to contain them: the supernatural’s were kept in a suspended state, conscious but unable to move or speak, living in a nightmare world where their own bodies were their prison. A supernatural in prison had fewer rights than a dog in the pound; Amnesty International was fighting for their rights but it was a slow process.

The supernatural is no longer unusual; it's commonplace, and with it comes with its own variations of crime.

0-0-0-0-0

 

The White Collar Unit

The Present

Peter heard a yell from the bullpen and came out of his office; the next instant he was taking the stairs two at a time. Neal Caffrey, his FBI consultant, was on all fours, one hand pressed to his stomach as he coughed up blood onto the floor, his whole body shaking with the effort. As Peter knelt by him, his hand on his shoulder, in the background Jones was on the telephone for an ambulance.

Neal looked at him he could see the fear in his eyes blood foamed at his mouth as Neal’s arm gave way. Peter caught him and pulled him into his arms; he sank down to sit on the floor cradling his friend, partner and CI.

Seven years ago

Agent Peter Burke’s first high-profile case was Curtis Hagen, and it was time-sensitive. Hagen was the brother of the legendary Flying Dutchman, Johan Hagen. Every seven years he appeared, and over a six-month period would be responsible for a rash of high-profile art thefts, then he would vanish for another seven years. In the world of white collar crime he became known just as the Dutchman. The man was totally ruthless and thought nothing of leaving bodies in his wake. He had to be stopped and it was Peter that was going to do it.

So for six months Peter tracked him down, but in the end the Dutchman vanished; the only positive thing that came out of the case was that he met Elizabeth, an attractive manager of an art gallery that had lost two high-profile paintings. It had turned out that the Dutchman hadn’t taken them, but a new player had emerged; as yet nothing was known about him. It was the bond forgeries that put the new player on his radar in a file that landed on Peter’s desk.

Peter was no ordinary FBI agent: he was a Grand Lupine, or Great Wolf; unlike most werewolves that only had two forms human and wolf he had three, human, wolf, and man-wolf, which made him one of the elite alpha werewolves, much stronger and faster than the others. But much to his father’s disappointment he had studied to become an accountant and then he had become an FBI agent, turning his back on becoming the next Alpha of his home pack.

He had even turned down the chance of challenging to become the New York FBI Alpha, preferring to live his life quietly, and do what he thought was important: catching the bad guys. Because to Peter, he just happened to be a werewolf by birth: he was a husband to Elizabeth first, an agent second, and a werewolf last. Peter was all too aware of what people said: that werewolves and other were-shifters became law enforcers because of the chase; that when their blood was up, they ran their prey to earth, and this was a legal outlet for their powers.

Now, two years on from losing the Dutchman, he wouldn’t argue that, because he had his own personal prey, a handsome young con man by the name of Neal Caffrey.

Caffrey was a master con man, art forger, counterfeiter and art thief and for the last two years he had tried to run the man to earth, working his way through a maze of aliases. 

The hunt for Caffrey had taken him across America and Europe; sometimes he was so close he could smell the scent of his prey, other times he had smelled Caffrey’s blood and known that the younger man had been injured. It was then he had had to fight to stop his claws and teeth from extending, as he wanted to throw his head back and roar his anger to the world. No one had the right to lay hands on Caffrey but him; all he knew was that he wanted to eliminate any threat to the younger man, which left him puzzled and confused.

It was six months later that he finally had enough evidence to arrest Caffrey for the bond forgeries; the final pieces of the puzzle had come together when an anonymous package had been sent to his office. In it was one of the bonds and a fragment of a letter signed by one of Caffrey’s aliases; there was one fingerprint on the bond and several on the fragment: it was enough to get the warrant.

Even though nothing Caffrey had ever done made him think that the man was violent in Caffrey’s whole criminal career he had never been associated with violence Peter had gone with protocol and gone in with the FBI Rapid Response Team; he hadn’t been surprised when Caffrey had given himself up without a struggle. As he had walked Caffrey out to the car Peter had looked back at Kate; Peter had seen a smug look on her face, and he had known with a sickening certainty that she had been the one to tip them off. Why, he didn’t know, but his dislike for her was notched up even higher. A wolf was loyal to his mate unto death; the idea of a woman turning on her mate angered him, and he had to fight to keep his claws sheathed.

Neal Caffrey had gone down for four years; for the first couple of weeks Peter knew that his boss, Director Hughes, was worried about him, afraid that he was suffering reverse Stockholm Syndrome. Finally Hughes had put his listlessness down as anticlimax after three years of chasing his prey, nothing unusual it happened to even the best of them and he had prescribed a three-week vacation. But Peter had known differently: a piece of him was missing, and he could feel it tugging at him: that feeling he knew wouldn’t go away until Neal was out of prison.

Elizabeth understood, better than possibly he did. She stood in the doorway of the kitchen and watched her husband seated on the couch; he was hunched forward, his hands in his lap, paying no attention to the file in front of him. She should have felt jealous, but somehow couldn’t: Peter was the love of her life; no woman could have had a more loving, strong, supportive husband and mate. But the wolf in him had found his second mate. It was unusual for a wolf to have two, but he was not just any wolf: he was a Great Wolf. She would accept that, and god help Caffrey if he wasn’t worthy of Peter. So she sat next to him and took his hand, her thumb stroking across the back, and then she raised it to her lips and kissed his hand and pressed it to his heart.  She smiled softly as she saw the feeling of contentment come over Peter, as he felt her heartbeat, as he leaned into her and inhaled her scent. A look of peace had come over him, and when he had with a sigh finally eased back, she asked, “So when are you going to claim him?”

“Who?”

“Hon, you know who I mean, I’ve watched you hunting him for the last three years.” El slid one hand from under his and laid it against his face. “When you first saw me, you stalked me.” She smiled as he started to shake his head. “Yes, darling, you stalked me, and caught me.” El paused. “You've done the same with him; four years, it isn’t long, we ...” She saw the look and allowed her smile to soften. “... yes, we will have him here. You’re an Alpha, Peter, you can have two mates. Am I jealous? If it was another woman, yes. But this is Neal: I have watched you, and I know that this is right.” She leaned in and kissed him lightly on the lips. “Don’t worry, we'll wait for him together.”

Three months short of the four years, Neal Caffrey escaped and walked out of a maximum security facility; it took Peter less than 24 hours to catch him, because the younger man had given up the minute that he had found the wine bottle and realized that Kate was lost to him. Justice had to take its course, and Neal was sentenced to another four years. Peter had kept his word and a week after Neal’s arrest had sat opposite him as the con man had pitched his idea of an FBI work placement program. He had walked out on Neal that first time; he sat at home and spent three months debating if he could do it, because he knew that once he had Neal out, the cards would land as they fell. Could he risk it?

El had stepped in at that point and reminded him of their talk four years ago: she had told him to go and claim his mate; only now did Peter go to Hughes, and talked him into getting the deal accepted, so it wasn’t long after that he had become Neal’s handler and the younger man had become an FBI consultant. 

Even as Peter settled down to working with Neal on the re-emergence of the Dutchman, Peter was aware that a lot of people were watching them. One false step on Neal’s part and this experiment would end with him going back to prison for four years.  For Peter that was not an option. It was catch the Dutchman or lose Neal.

When Neal left his radius and ran, Peter’s heart plummeted, and he led the chase; it was only as they neared the warehouse that he began to think that Neal might be up to something. He had never felt anything like the relief he felt when he had entered the warehouse with the FBI Rapid Response Team, technically in pursuit of a fleeing felon, to catch the Dutchman with his forgeries, one day shy of his disappearance. Imprisoned in a ward-protected prison, the Dutchman would serve out his sentence based on his seven-year cycles. It was that case that confirmed Neal’s addition to the team of the White Collar unit.         

Peter would be the first to acknowledge that his time with Neal had been rough and smooth, but one thing was sure: they had become closer, and Peter had detected the change in Caffrey’s scent the younger man was interested in him and El. But he wasn’t able to take it further; he was frightened: something he had never associated with Neal Caffrey. Neal was  frightened to put his emotions into words, in case it won him a one-way ticket back to prison. For Peter, Neal had to make the first move, because he couldn’t; if he did then Neal might come to his bed because he thought it was a condition of staying out of prison. Free will: as a Great Wolf, Peter’s mate had to come to him willingly; it had to be Neal’s choice.

It was the boiler room case that brought everything to a head: Neal had showed great trust in him when he had forced the breathing tube on him, telling him that he trusted him. But when Neal had jerked back to life after he had stopped breathing because of the vacuum in the room, Neal’s blue eyes had been red, and the long canines had dropped. Peter had seen the look of horror as Neal had thrown himself sideways and tried to struggle to his feet, only for Peter to catch hold of him, help him to his feet, and half carry, half drag him out of the room onto the steps to catch his breath.

“A vampire?” Peter said slowly, wracking his brain, because he hadn’t seen any trace of that in the man that sat next to him.

Neal ran a shaking hand through his hair. “A day walker.”

“How old are you?” Peter saw the shaky smile at the question. He waved a hand. “Okay, I guess that all vampires are asked that.”

“Hardly a new question, but I was changed in 1865, in New Orleans,” Neal answered, then added with a shrug, “New Orleans, how Anne Rice of me, but it’s true. I was attacked and got away with my soul intact, but changed.” 

“Did you fight in the war?” Peter asked, more out of something to say as he tried to come to terms with what he was hearing.

“I was at Gettysburg, Peter; it was a slaughterhouse why do you think that I won’t touch guns now? I saw too much death in those five years.” Neal looked down at his hands as he marshaled his thoughts, then he looked back up and met Peter’s gaze levelly. “I have killed, Peter, I won’t lie to you.  I was at Pickets Charge; how could I not kill, but I swear, I haven’t taken another life since the war ended. Not in anger or to feed. Those I have taken from give their blood freely to me, and don't suffer at my hands. I promise you that.”

Neal was a master con man a professional liar but at that moment, Peter believed him, and he reached out and gave Neal’s shoulder a gentle squeeze of reassurance. The younger man was his friend and partner, and because of that he believed him; Neal had once said that he had never lied to him. Bend the truth, yes, but lie no. Now so many other things were beginning to make sense.

Neal’s escape from prison: the way he had walked out of a maximum security facility, as if it was a stroll in the park. As a day walker he would have been able to glam anyone that stopped him. But that still didn’t explain why he hadn’t escaped earlier, then he suddenly knew.

Neal had been trying to be human, prepared to wait out the four years to keep his human cover intact.

He had a good idea of how Neal had gotten the blood that he needed in prison: everything there had a price and Neal was an attractive man glam could only take him so far. But now wasn’t the time to ask him. It was clear to Peter the toll this confession had taken on him; no day walker would willingly tell an outsider what they were. Most people tarred Dark Vampires and Day Walkers with the same brush: the sins of one reflected on the other. So questions could wait another day.  But one thought ate away at him: how could he, a Great Wolf, not know that his would-be mate was a vampire? He should have known. One thing was sure: now that he knew, he would have to tell Hughes, because the Supernatural Affairs Bureau the SAB would have to be notified about Neal’s status.

Learning of Neal’s vampire nature had made it even harder for Peter when it came to the artworks that Neal had forged. Or allegedly forged; since Neal was over one hundred years old, and more than likely had been forging art for that time, it meant that some of his older work had already been hanging on the walls of collections and international museums for decades. And since these so-called originals were used to verify other works supposedly by the same artist, it meant that Neal could use these works to legitimize his new fakes, because all his old masters had impeccable provenances: they should, because Neal had faked them. Which gave Peter one hell of a new headache.

Then things had gone to hell: Neal had run, and all Peter knew was that he had to stop Neal from leaving the country. He had  arrived at the private airport on his own; his backup was trailing behind him. Neal was walking towards a Lear jet when Peter arrived, and he recognized the woman framed in the doorway of the jet waving to Neal as Kate.  Peter had barely managed to stop a growl of anger spilling from his lips; his dislike of Kate was strong  overwhelming since her betrayal of Neal and Peter had to fight against his inner wolf that battered against his consciousness and wanted to claw her to pieces for trying to take what he considered his.

Then his world had dissolved into fire and smoke as the jet exploded. The pressure wave from the explosion threw Neal back towards him. The younger man had landed hard and rolled; coming up, he started towards the burning plane, screaming for Kate. Peter had been knocked flying by the pressure wave from the explosion, but he came up fast off the ground, powered forward and caught Neal around the waist, bringing him crashing down before he could throw himself into the flames in a doomed attempt to rescue Kate.

Neal fought against him, trying to free himself to get to the jet; only the fact that Peter was a werewolf gave him the strength to hold the vampire pinned against the tarmac, refusing to let him kill himself in a fruitless rescue attempt. Even the flashing of fangs, and the snarling harsh hiss of anger, pain, and grief didn’t deter Peter; it only made the great wolf increase his grip.  Then just as suddenly Neal became still; in the distance the wail of emergency sirens could be heard. Peter spoke levelly, but he knew that Neal was beyond hearing him; he could only stare at the burning plane.

“I am sorry, Neal; there was nothing you could have done.”

Neal had looked up at him with such a look of loss that all Peter had wanted to do was pull him close and shield him from what he knew would come.

“You should have let me die, Peter.” Neal sounded lost.

Diana and Jones arrived at that moment; Peter waved them away he would take care of Neal. Like all law enforcement officers he carried silver-infused cuffs that would hold a human or a supernatural. Neal made no effort to escape the cuffs; he accepted them placidly. It was only as Peter tried to lead him away that Neal began to struggle. “She could be alive; I have to check, Peter, she could be trapped; she....”

Peter ignored the looks of the other people and pulled Neal one-armed against him as he turned him away from the burning wreck, as he said, “Neal, you can’t do anything; she’s gone, kid.” Holding Neal might not have been the correct thing to do but at the moment he wasn’t holding a criminal, he was holding a man who had just seen his lover killed.

Neal looked slowly back to the plane, as if seeing it for the first time. Nothing could have survived the inferno that had engulfed it, and his body sagged against Peter as the realization hit him.

Peter tugged firmly at his arm. “You’re under arrest,” and he began to read him his rights; as he finished he saw the look that Neal gave him: the younger man was completely and utterly lost. “I am sorry about Kate.”  It was not clear what he was apologizing for, that Kate was dead or that he was arresting him or both, but Neal didn’t care; he just stood there looking at the thick column of black smoke rising from the burning shell of what had once been a jet, the funeral pyre for the woman he loved.

0-0-0-0-0

With the fallout that followed, it had taken three months for the paperwork to come through allowing Neal out of prison back to the work release program. This time, instead of being sent to Maximum Security, given his status as a day walker, he was sent to the Paranormal Detention Center.

0-0-0-0-0

Prison Paranormal Detention Center

Peter walked into the prison, through the hallways to the vault, as the Paranormal Detention Center was called. Instead of cells there were bank after bank of drawers set into the walls. Peter shuddered: it reminded him of a gigantic morgue.

The two orderlies led the way; Peter was flanked by two guards, which was standard policy when anyone other than staff entered the vaults. The orderlies paused at one of the drawers, checked the coding against the paperwork they held, nodded and pulled it out. Peter moved forward and looked down. Neal Caffrey, convicted bond forger and day walker vampire, lay naked inside it. A feeding tube had been put down his throat, so that it could administer just enough liquid food to keep his body functioning as dictated by law. A catheter had been inserted into his body to remove waste into containers built into the base of the drawer, pads connected him to built-in machines that lined its side and that monitored his body temperature, brain patterns, food intake and waste output. 

Seeing the look of disgust on Peter’s face, the senior orderly, Charles Barker, said almost defensively, "it’s the only way we can hold them, vamps that is,  and given the fact he broke out of prison once already, the orders were clear on the matter. Caffrey had to be restrained, to the full letter of the law.”

Peter’s attention was focused only on his partner. Neal’s skin was deathly white; putting a hand out slowly, Peter touched his shoulder: he was ice cold.  Neal’s eyes were open, and his lips were pulled back around the mouth guard of the feeding tube, in a snarl, showing long fangs. Peter didn’t see any recognition in Neal’s face that he knew who he was, and that was worrying.

“Neal, it's Peter.” The older man leaned forward as he spoke; it was then that Peter saw the white flecking on the con man’s thigh and across his stomach. The anger began to build in him as Peter leaned down and inhaled the scent; there was no mistaking the smell of semen that was clinging to Neal’s skin. A low growl rumbled from Peter’s throat: it had to belong to one or more of the guards or the orderlies the temptation of taking one of the prisoners was too great for some, and a prisoner as good-looking as Neal would be difficult to ignore. In this state Neal would have been unable to fight back or even been able to tell anyone about what had happened to him. All he could do was suffer in enforced silence, helpless during his rapes, attacked by the very people that supposed to look after him.

Peter clenched his jaw; once he had Neal safe he would deal with the people that had abused him he would find out who they were and then they would pay the price for abusing a werewolf's mate. 

Senior Orderly Barker coughed. “You need to step back, sir; if you want him woken we need room to work.” He paused. “If you want him defanged, we can do that now. We find that it keeps them more docile; most parole officers have them defanged every six months or so as standard”

“What?” Peter snapped at him, his voice cold and deadly. “He’s not an animal to be domesticated; he’s a man, so you bring him back, and you only do what I say.”

Stepping back, Peter gave the orderlies space to work on him. the junior orderlies unclipped the side of the drawer as Barker began to remove the monitoring equipment; together they withdrew the feeding tube.  Once it was removed, Barker began to wipe away the blood at Neal’s mouth from where the tube had stuck to his dry lips and ripped the skin when it was removed.

In response to the touch, Neal began to snarl at him, then suddenly Neal cried out in pain as the junior orderlies removed the catheter. Barker  immediately rounded on the younger man, “What the hell have I told you, Murphy.  Stand there until I tell you different, and you don’t touch the vamps unless I tell you.”

Murphy nodded, clearly uncomfortable at getting chewed out in front of Peter.

Barker looked at Peter. “Sorry about that, Agent Burke; he’s still got a lot to learn. Now I best check he hasn't damaged him.” The moment Barker placed his hands on Neal’s thighs he began to snarl and hiss, showing the long fangs in anger.

 Neal was getting more and more agitated as the guards started to move forward.  Peter pushed past them to get to Neal; he caught the younger man’s face in his hand, leaning over so that he could look him in the eyes. “Neal, I won’t let anyone hurt you; you have to trust me, you are safe.” But Neal ignored him, and the hiss snarl grew louder. 

“No good talking to him, Agent,” Barker told him. “He won’t understand you.”  The gurney was moved against the drawer. Barker said over his shoulder, “Okay, Jerry ...” Barker motioned to one guard. “... you take his feet; we lift on my mark. Agent Burke, you need to let go of him and step back; it’s not going to help anyone if we drop him.”

Barker looked at Jerry. “Okay, on three, 1, 2, and 3.” Working together they lifted Neal’s dead weight and laid him on the gurney; working quickly Barker and Jerry enclosed Neal’s wrists and ankles in strong restraints.

“What happens now?”  Peter asked.

Barker paused. “I best explain. When Caffrey was put in here, he had two injections. The first one paralyzed his body. The second was because it was ruled cruel and unusual punishment to keep a human conscious and trapped in his own body. Means that we use Serum 666.” He shook his head. “And they say the white coats don’t have a sense of humor.” He paused. “Anyway, it affects the lizard side of the brain, makes it the dominant part. The human side of the vampire that contains all the things that makes life worth living is suppressed, leaving only the pure animalistic vampire, therefore it’s considered acceptable to keep a dangerous creature in these conditions. I don’t know if it’s true, but some vamps say there are times during their sentence the human side comes back, but it’s only fleeting. Vamps are arrogant bastards; they pride themselves on their iron control, and this punishment takes it way from them.”

“How do you bring him back?”  Peter’s voice showed his concern.

Barker laid out three syringes. “This is a three-stage process. I won’t tell you it won’t hurt him it’s the nature of the reaction to the drugs but we’ll do our best for him.”

The next three hours were a hell that Peter vowed he would never put Neal through again; the sound of the younger man’s snarling and screams of pain would live with him forever. But finally....

 “P…e..t…e.r...” The voice sounded as if it had been dragged over glass; each sound was as painful to hear as it was for Neal to speak it.

 “It's okay, Neal; you’re getting out of here.” Peter promised. leaning over him and gently brushing the sweat-soaked hair out of the younger man’s eyes, pleased when Neal leaned into his touch.

The guard began to protest, “He’s unstable, you can’t, he’ll….”

Peter ignored him and turned on Barker. “I am taking him out of here now; just tell me what I need to know.”

Barker warned, “He will be flying as high as a kite for the next few hours, and then he’s going to crash and burn. It will take at least 24 hours for the drug to finally leave his body; normally we keep them in lockdown until they stop seeing the pink elephants. But since you’ve made it clear he’s coming home with you.... You need to have some restraints until the drug’s left him, and for the first three days, start off with a thin nourishing soup, and gradually build up to more-solid food. He will need more blood than normal and …”

Peter listened and took on board what was needed; finally, when Neal was feeling strong enough, he slowly helped him ease up into a sitting position on the gurney.

Neal suddenly cramped up, and would have fallen if Peter hadn’t pulled him close, wrapping his arms around him as he shook uncontrollably against him. Keeping him anchored with one arm, Peter used his other hand to shed his jacket and then wrap it around Neal. The younger man buried his face against him; over his bent head, Peter glared at the orderlies.

Barker just shook his head. “He’ll have to ride it out now; there’s nothing we can give him to make it easier. Good luck with him, Agent Burke; you'll need it.”

When Neal was finally ready to move, it was Peter that supported him and kept next to him every inch of the way as he was processed out of the vault. Every protective instinct in Peter was tuned into Neal, and any threat to him would be dealt with ruthlessly; the tension only left Peter once he had the tracker on Neal, the con was sitting in his car, and he was heading home with him. Neal was still suffering under the influence of the drugs they had given him, so even if he had been cleared to return to June’s house, Peter wouldn’t have let him.  Peter tried to tell himself it was because of the drugs, but the wolf in him knew different.

On the way home, Peter stopped and bought a four-pack of synthetic blood. It took some encouragement, but finally Neal all but inhaled the first pack, only slowing down on the second; by the time they reached Peter’s house Neal's head rested against the passenger window, asleep, clutching the other two packs to his chest.

0-0-0-0-0-0

The Burke’s house

Getting Neal out of the car had been an experience; the younger man had clung to him like a vine, almost as if he was trying to crawl into his skin. There were a couple of neighbors that Peter knew he was going to have some explaining to do to. But what the hell, Neal was home and in his territory and that was all that mattered.

Peter was thankful that Elizabeth had accepted Neal’s arrival in their home, out of his mind on drugs, so well.  So when Neal had just stood there in the doorway swaying back and forward, only kept in place by Peter’s hand to the small of his back, refusing to enter until she had invited him, she had smiled her welcome and put a hand out to draw him in as she had said, “Enter, Neal Caffrey, at our express invitation.” Neal had been coming and going since he had first been released, and she'd had no way then of knowing then that her innocent first invite, when he had turned up unexpectedly at  her door, had invited not only a known criminal into her house but a vampire. She hadn’t been frightened when Peter had revealed Neal’s true nature to her, so she willing renewed her invite: why he needed it again she didn’t know, but she didn’t question it, and gave him what he needed.

For a long moment Neal hadn’t answered; he had just cocked his head from side to side as if trying to place her and then he had smiled. “Mrs. Burke, it’s good to see you again.”

“Again?” El had mouthed.

“I saw you at the Fuller opening; you had that blue dress on, it made your eyes into flashing pieces of the sky.”

“Thank you, sweetie; that was very nice of you, but I think you need to rest,” El said and helped Peter to get Neal to sit on the couch. 

Peter shook his head; at the moment his vampire partner was too far gone to actually know what he was saying: he seemed to be living in the past. Neal was clearly feeling no pain, still under the influence of the revival drugs; when El went into the kitchen, Neal turned his attention to Satchmo and was fussing over the dog, stroking, petting and cooing over him, chatting away to the dog a mile a minute, holding a long conversation with the canine, nodding in response to answers only he could hear. Knowing that Neal wasn’t likely to make a snack of his pet, Peter went into the kitchen to talk to El.

Now standing in the kitchen, Peter filled her in on what had happened at the PDC.

“They wanted to pull his fangs,” Elizabeth repeated; her anger was a living force, and it had brought out every maternal instinct she had. “Peter.”

“Don’t worry, El; he’s still got all of his teeth.”  Then he added, “You sure you don’t mind him staying overnight? It’s just he's like ... this.” He broke off as he heard the laugher coming from the front room; he shrugged. “I couldn’t leave him alone.”

“No problem, hon.” She kissed her husband lightly on the mouth, a promise of what was to come later.

If Peter had any concerns, they vanished in the first couple of minutes as El tucked Neal very firmly beneath her maternal wing. Which was just as well, as later, as Neal stretched out between the two of them on the couch, he began to talk the drug didn’t allow the young con man to censor his words, and the whole truth of what had happened to him in the vaults came tumbling out. He told how he had been abused when they checked up on him, and how, paralyzed, he could do nothing but feel their hands on his body, their hardness pushed into him.… All Peter and El could do was hold him close, and make him understand, even in his drugged state, that they were there for him. In the morning he didn’t remember a word of what he'd said, and they never pushed him.

Three months later

The partnership had worked well, picking up from where they had left off. But slowly it was becoming clear to Peter that there was something very wrong with Neal; on the surface he was his usual charming self, but con men wore masks and he was wearing one now. It was the small things that gave him away: when Neal had been drugged trying to help his landlady's granddaughter and Peter had manhandled him, he had felt Neal’s ribs. Neal was lean but strong those designer suits covered sleek muscles; he was no wimp but he had lost weight he couldn’t afford to. Also Neal seemed to be becoming less tolerant to the sun. A day walker had to drink blood not as much as a dark vampire; they also eat ordinary food as well but it was the blood that gave them strength and their powers. Peter noticed that Neal was wearing dark glasses more often, ok, vintage rat pack shades, but dark glasses all the same; he was beginning to think that Neal was starving himself of the blood. Even a day walker when starved of blood could.…

Peter woke before dawn; there was feeling of dread running through him, and he began to drag his clothes on all he knew was that he had to get over to Neal’s apartment.

“Peter, what’s wrong?” El asked.

“It’s Neal; I can’t explain it, I.…” But already El was getting dressed as well, and he didn’t argue when she came with him. By the time they arrived at June’s house and got entry, dawn was already breaking. The door to Neal’s apartment was locked. Peter hammered on the door again and again; not getting a reply, he took his shoulder to it and it splintered like toothpicks. Neal was standing on top of the balcony, his eyes closed, arms out as he embraced the rising sun.

Peter slowed. “Neal, you have to come in, now.”

“It has to be, Peter, sorry.” Neal hadn’t even looked around when he answered.

Edging closer, Peter could already see the smoke beginning to whisper up from Neal’s arm and head as the sun began to rise high in the sky; it was only a matter of time before he embraced the sun.

Peter lunged, caught him by the waist and pulled him backward off the balcony, sending him crashing to the floor; Peter suddenly had himself an armful of a spitting, snarling vampire, but Peter was a rock. In that split second Peter morphed into his most powerful form, the third form of the alpha werewolf: the man-wolf; he managed to finally get Neal trapped under him, covering him with his body. He did the only thing that he knew: he would bind Neal to him, show him he something to live for; he managed to flip Neal onto his stomach even as Neal sank his teeth into Peter’s hand, tearing at the flesh, trying to get him to release him or kill him.  Peter’s fangs pierced the base of Neal’s neck; the taste of his blood flooded through the older man’s mouth at the same time as Neal tasted his. It was like mainlining lightning; his mind was washed by a white heat that made Peter throw his head back and roar the sound that came from his throat was no longer human: it was a primal wolf, claiming that was his.

The gasp that he heard made him pull back, his head snapping around. It was Elizabeth, one hand clasped to her mouth. Peter refused to look away from her. He expected to see disgust on her face: it was one thing to say that she understood and accepted his need for Neal; it was another to see him take him in front of her. But what he saw was a soft smile which widened; she understood. Every day he counted his blessing for being given a woman like Elizabeth; she was his rock. He had been forever thankful that when he had been courting El she had taken his clumsy flirting and courting in her stride. Even when he had told her he was a werewolf she hadn’t run screaming into the night; she had moved into his arms and told him that she loved him, no matter what. El had even stood up to his family when his father tried to break them apart because she was human. Perhaps she alone had understood the complicated dance he had been doing with Caffrey since the moment he was assigned his case. It would have been so easy to have taken Neal: as Alpha Great Wolf no one would have challenged his right to the younger man once he claimed him. But he didn’t want that; he wanted Neal to come to him of his own free will he had seen the way the younger man had looked at him. Now he had done just that, taken him by force.

He was brought back by El’s hand on his shoulder. “We have to get him inside, Peter, he’s hurting.” She disappeared into the apartment.  Neal was beginning to struggle again. Peter bent his head down so that he could inhale Neal’s scent, only for the con man to nearly head-butt him in his attempt to escape. Peter managed to pull back in time; there was no anger in him for that, and he would expect nothing less from his feisty independent mate. Mate: that had a good ring to it.

Lost in thought, the sudden surge of strength from Neal caught Peter out, and he was thrown to one side, losing his grip on one of the vampire’s wrists.  One hand free now, Neal slashed out his long nail-like talons, just missing Peter’s throat; he snarled and hissed as he twisted and somehow managed to get his legs under him. He was just powering up to go over the balcony when Peter took his legs out from under him. 

Neal landed heavily. Peter knew he couldn’t play nice; he caught the back of Neal’s head and thudded it against the wooden decking, and Neal went limp as he was knocked out. The sleeve of his jacket started to ignite even as Peter pulled him back into the shadow of the balcony, tucking the limp body close to him. El came rushing out, throwing the blanket over Neal, blocking out the killer rays of the sun.

“El, run a cold bath; we have to get his temperature down before he implodes." When he saw the look of horror on her face, he added, “It’s going to be all right; I am not going to lose him now.” Getting up, he scooped the limp body into his arms and walked into the apartment as she hurried ahead of him.

The claw-foot bath sat in the center of the bathroom. El had the cold water tap running full. Peter laid Neal onto the floor and opened up the blanket; the sight of the blood on his face, and the raw scrapes and burns on his hands sickened Peter. But Neal was alive and that was all that mattered.  Working quickly they stripped him naked now was not the time for modesty. Peter pressed a hand to Neal’s stomach; he could feel the core temperature in the younger man’s body rising. Picking him up, he laid him in the bath, easing him down so that only his face was above the water; El began to wipe his face down with a washcloth.

“He’s not breathing,” El said, a touch of panic in her voice.

“His body is closing down; it’s working to heal, only he’s not got much reserve to pull on.” Peter swore. “I should have seen it; he hasn't been feeding. I’ve allowed this to go on too long.”

“We're here now, Peter; you felt his pain and we got here in time.” She reassured him, “We won’t lose him.”

Slowly Neal’s eyes opened. The usually vivid blue eyes were dull and listless; Peter pulled him up and against him, and tried to get him to feed from him, only for Neal to look away from him. Fishing one-handed into his pocket, Peter pulled out his penknife and opened the blade; he looked at El and saw her nod if he did this, there was no going back.

Using the blade, he cut his arm and pushed it against Neal’s mouth; the vampire had to feed. But Neal tried to turn his head away; even only partly conscious he was fighting him. But Peter wasn’t going to let him: he smeared the blood on Neal’s lips; without even thinking Neal’s tongue flicked across his lips and he tasted it. There was no way Peter was giving up; he kept pressing the wound against Neal’s mouth until finally with a hiss, Neal sank his teeth into the flesh of Peter’s arm, and began to feed.

Peter pulled his arm away a few seconds later knowing that his werewolf blood was rich and strong, and would help Neal heal; the corner had been turned, and all he needed to do now was rest. Neal’s eyes closed and his head rolled against Peter’s chest.

Finally Neal's core temperature dropped; carefully Peter picked him up out of the bath and wrapped him in towels. Between him and El, they dried him off and then laid him into the bed. El tugged Peter’s arm and they settled Neal between them, cuddling him close, their hands moving up and down his body, to get as much warmth in him as possible. 

Neal made a soft moan, his fingers digging into Peter’s shirt and anchoring himself; the older man pressed a chaste kiss to the top of his head as he tucked Neal close to him, He looked at El and she smiled and wrapped herself around Neal’s back. He would learn that even though Kate was gone, he wasn’t alone.

Time seemed to stand still, and El couldn’t help but think back, to when Peter had first told her about Neal; she had been shocked, and then realized that what he was wasn’t as important as the type of man he was.

On his first visit after the revelation of his true self, Neal had nervously stood at the door even though he had entry to the house; he had treated it as if it was his first visit: he had stood there holding his hat, fingering the brim of it. She had said the words that he needed to hear, and it was then that Neal had entered the townhouse and had sat opposite her on the couch. Slowly he had explained that he was a day walker, that he could eat and drink and would cast off waste, and seed; she smiled to herself as she remembered the delicate way he had described it. He couldn’t change into a wolf or fly, but the talents that he did have led him to being an alleged art thief. He was not immortal: he could die, he just aged slowly, and like Peter would live to a great age, as long as he didn’t do anything stupid.

Now, El mused, they just had to convince Neal they had a life together. At some point during her reminiscing she must have dropped asleep.

When she woke it was to find herself alone on the bed; turning towards the voices she saw Peter talking softly to Neal, the younger man it didn’t matter that he was a vampire, he looked younger, and certainly with his lack of impulse control where paintings were concerned he acted younger. So she would treat him as such.

Neal sat on the floor in the corner of the apartment with Peter between him and the door to the balcony; he was rocking back and forward, his arms wrapped around his knees. He was shaking his head violently.

El crossed over slowly; Neal looked up and for the first time she saw the long canine teeth. He buried his face against his arms. She nodded to Peter and then knelt down next to Neal, reached out and buried her hand in his dark hair, and gently stroked it.

 “Kate's gone.”  El had never heard such misery in two words.

 “I know, sweetie, and now is the time to mourn her and to let her go.”

Suddenly he launched himself at her, wrapping his arms around her, knocking her back against the wall, but before Peter could drag him off, El shook her head; he knew he wouldn’t hurt her, even when he buried his face against her throat. She felt his body heaving against her, and finally the dampness of tears on her skin, as he could no longer hold back; he was sobbing his heart out. El just held him closer, rubbing his back, giving him the support he needed.

Finally he said, his light baritone voice rasping and cracking, “She doesn’t even have a grave; I couldn’t even give her that.”

El hugged Neal. “Together we’ll make sure she has what she needs.”

“There wasn’t even a body to bury,” Neal said.

“There doesn’t have to be one, sweetie; we know she’s there and that will be her special place.” Whatever El felt for Kate and what she had put Neal through, she was willing to put those feelings to one side to help Neal move on and find closure; if that meant giving him an empty grave to mourn she would do that anything to stop him trying to walk into the sun again.

You wouldn’t help me; if you knew the truth you would hate me,” Neal said suddenly as he pulled back. “If you only knew.”

“I could never hate you, Neal. I think you have to tell me, sweetie, what is going on in that head of yours.” Reaching out, she gently brushed his hair back out of his eye. “Because I don’t think that this is all about Kate.” She added softly, “Is this about Peter?”

“Peter.” Neal nodded to El; he looked totally miserable. “You must know that I have feelings for him.”  Neal shook his head. “Yet you help me. I couldn’t keep on like this. Seeing Peter being here with you as well, wanting, needing more, but knowing that you….”

“We are a package deal; is that going to be problem, Neal?” she said, waiting as he slowly lifted his head.

“You want me?” The question was said with an almost childlike simplicity.

“Who wouldn’t, sweetie?” She gently kissed his forehead and tucked him back against her; his body went limp against her as he slid into sleep. When Peter offered to take him, she shook her head. “He’s resting; let him sleep, hon.”

No one could say that the next few days were easy; Peter had taken Hughes to one side and made him aware of Neal’s new status as his mate. Seeing the look on his old friend's face he smiled. “Look at this on the upside, Reese, there’s nowhere that Neal can run now that I can’t find him.”

Reese Hughes watched his lead agent walk out of the office, and noticed the way that the other werewolves in the office gave him a wide berth. Peter didn’t even realize it he was projecting the Alpha side of his personality, something he had never done before.

Three days later Peter entered the bullpen of the office with Neal; his hand rested on the middle of the con man’s back that was nothing new, Peter had always been protective but now he was projecting that protection as a warning to all the others that if they went for Neal they would have to go through him first.

One week later, Peter and El flanked Neal at Kate’s funeral, both of them holding his hands. During the burial service, when the priest was finished, Diana came forward with a bouquet of flowers. Neal nodded his thanks as he took it, and then, kneeling down, placed it on her grave. Peter took a single rose from Diana, and with one hand on Neal’s shoulder bent down and placed it next to the bouquet.  He was followed in turn by El, Jones, and Mozzie, each leaving a flower for her. Technically it was Kate’s funeral but in reality there wasn’t one person at the funeral except Neal that was actually mourning her. The rest were there to give support to him.

New York two months later

Peter returned from his vacation; it had been a belated wedding anniversary present for his wife. He felt relaxed and contented and ready to find out what had gone on during the seven days he was gone. He pulled up in front of the lavish townhouse that was the home of his FBI consultant and mate. It vexed him that Neal refused to move in with them, but the vampire was stubborn to a fault on this, so for the moment Peter was trying to keep the Alpha in him on a leash, and let the younger man have his way. Peter knew something was wrong the minute he set foot in the house; June was angry, and wasn’t shy in telling him why.

“The day after you went on vacation the Marshals came. They would have kicked the door down if I hadn’t allowed them into his room; they arrested him, Agent Burke. Neal showed them his credentials; he held them in front of him, told them it had all been arranged that Agent Jones and Berrigan were handling him. Do you know what they did, Agent Burke? They just knocked the wallet from his hand, slammed him into the wall, cuffed him and frog marched him out. He’s in the PDC: he doesn’t deserve that; he didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I’ll get him back; it was a mistake.”

June nodded then said softly, “There has to be trust both ways.” When she saw the expression on his face, she added, “I am no fool, I understand what Neal is: he’s your mate, but not being able to protect him isn’t going to cut it, Peter. This can’t be allowed to happen again. Trust works both ways. Neal is no dirty little secret for you and Elizabeth, he’s your mate. It’s about time you stood up and told the rest of them that.”  June reached into her pocket and took a black badge wallet out. There was an outline of a shoe on it: it had been stood on. She pressed it into his hand, and then turned and left. Peter stood there thoughtfully.

0-0-0-0-0-0

El smiled, opened the refrigerator, took out the box, and removed a bottle of blood; there was synthetic blood on the market, but she had made a special effort when she knew that Neal was coming home. Her anger at hearing he had been take to the PDC had been formidable. Peter had only just managed to stop her going to the prison with him to get Neal. El might not be a werewolf, but her spirit was the perfect match for one.

She had gone out and bought donated blood, something a little special: AB negative, which was appreciated for its rarity and special taste. It had been expensive but he was worth it, but that was only part of it. Blood could sustain him, but it would be a sterile, lonely existence; what Neal needed was an emotional connection, to have the warmth of human interaction, to be touched, to be loved. Neal thrived on affection, and that was what they would give him when he came home: all the affection that he could ever want.

El heard the front door open and close. As soon as she came into the room, Neal was immediately on his feet. When she saw the look that Neal gave her husband, she just smiled and went to him, and let her actions speak for her. She kissed Neal and then he caught her hand; he hesitated and looked at Peter, who rubbed his shoulder to encourage him. Neal kissed the pulse point on her wrist as she lightly carded her fingers through his dark hair and he moved into her touch. She felt his fangs lightly score her skin, and she knew that he was lightly mouthing her wrist, giving light nips that made her blood sing. Slowly they were making him understand that he didn’t have to ask Peter’s permission to touch her, but it was slow work, and like this, after being thrown in the freezer, Neal would be a little insecure.

With a soft sigh he released her wrist, but El smiled and pulled him gently into a hug, not letting him pull away, holding him for as long as he needed to. Finally, when he eased back, she caught his arm, and tugged him over to the couch; sitting down, she coaxed him to sit next to her so that his head could rest on her shoulder, She felt the lean body relax against her, and he buried his face against her throat and breathed in her scent. 

Peter left them together knowing that El could give Neal what he needed for the moment; he looked back and saw her running her hand up and down Neal’s back and arm, talking softly to him, making sure that with touch as well as words he knew how much he had been missed and how much he was loved.  Later Neal would feed and then they would eat, and afterwards Peter would sit watching the game on television, with El curled up against him on one side, and with Neal on the other. He knew the con man had no interest in sports, but he would sit dozing through the game, reveling in their warmth, and love, letting it washing over him, and later he would settle in their bed, contented and at peace.

 

The Present

Peter tore open the sleeve of his shirt and pressed his wrist to Neal’s mouth. “Drink, buddy, you’ve got to drink.”

Neal shook his head, and instead buried his face against Peter’s shirt, trying to stifle the coughs that racked his body. “Damn it, Neal, drink.” But Peter knew why Neal was refusing; the department had at least six werewolves in it, and they treated him on sufferance. The Alpha of the FBI pack, Agent Ruiz, barely tolerated him. To feed in public would be an insult to the whole pack. Peter looked up, and was pleased to see that Diana and Jones were standing in front of them protectively.

“You have to; I can’t lose you now.” Peter said the words even as he heard the scandalized intake of breath from the other werewolves. Peter’s head snapped up. “Neal is my mate: understand that.” He had allowed Neal to hide their bond, and in doing so made his vampire mate a dirty secret, but that was over. Raising his hand to his mouth, Peter bit into it with his fangs and then pressed the bleeding wound to Neal’s mouth. There was a new pain as he felt the vampire’s fangs puncture his skin, and then he felt the pull as Neal drank.

Finally Neal pulled back with one final flick of his tongue across Peter’s palm to seal the oozing wound. He didn’t fight the hold that Peter had on him, only stiffening as he heard Agent Ruiz's sneering voice.

Peter tightened his hold on him. “Neal, this ends now.”

Straightening up, Peter got up, taking Neal with him and pushed him gently into one of the seats, nodding his thanks as Diana and Jones moved to flank Neal. It was then that Peter turned to face Agent Ruiz of Organized Crime.

Ruiz started in on Neal, calling him a bag of blood, a leech and—

It was then that Peter let go; his body began to transform as a Great Wolf it didn’t matter that it wasn’t a full moon, it just hurt more in his man-wolf form he topped seven feet, with razor-sharp claws and teeth. In two strides he had Ruiz by the neck and lifted him off his feet and shook him like a terrier did a rat. He brought Ruiz right up level with his face, the smaller man’s feet kicking in the air; his blows to Peter’s face and chest were  nothing more than lover's taps to the Great Wolf. He shook him one last time, and growled low; deep throated he struggled to voice the words, but they came, “You are no longer the Alpha; live with it or die.”

He tossed Ruiz to the floor and then turned to his mate; Neal was shaky but got to his feet. Diana went to help him, but at the growl from Neal she dropped her hand. Neal for the first time went full vampire in the White Collar unit: his fangs were long, his nails extended into razor-sharp talons. He moved into the Great Wolf’s personal space where no one else would dare, and allowed the huge creature to encircle his body with its powerful arms; claws that could vivisect him held him gently, as the large wolf head lowered and nuzzled at him.

Publicly Peter was making a statement when he looked up and met each of the werewolves' eyes until they looked down; then he threw back his head and roared, before lowering it again and biting Neal’s throat, publicly marking his mate.

Standing at the rail overlooking the bullpen, Director Reese Hughes watched as Peter took his place as the Alpha of the FBI, and it had taken Neal Caffrey to make it happen. It was a new dawn for the White Collar department.

But first they would have to find out who had tried to kill Caffrey, and god have mercy on them when they did, because Peter Burke wouldn’t show any. 

 

The end.