It was a beautiful cool night in New York City but Neal Caffrey hardly noticed this as he slowly trudged into June's lovely home. He was happy to find the downstairs empty as he was in no mood to socialize. He shut the door to his apartment with a relieved sigh and leaned against it to rest for just a moment.
Neal was beyond exhausted and aching from head to toe. With all the energy he could muster he moved from his position against the door and headed to his mirror. His appearance shocked him a bit. He looked so pale and tired but the worst part was the dried blood smeared down the side of his face.
The sight of all the blood coupled with the horrible aching in his head had him running to the bathroom, expelling everything he had eaten that day. When he had finished he was almost in tears. He was sure that a few of his ribs had been at least cracked and the pain from getting sick was almost unbearable.
Neal remained on the floor until he was confident he could stand without falling over. He quickly began washing the blood off of his face, finding the gash near his temple and bandaging it. After swallowing 3 acetaminophen he left the room. He desperately wanted to change out of his torn, dirty clothes.
As he slowly changed into his pajamas he assessed his battered chest and back. Bruises marred his ivory skin, most of them boot shaped. He shuddered as memories assaulted his poor head. The need to vomit almost took him again but he tried to calm himself as best as he could, not wanting a repeat performance of before.
Neal slowly climbed into bed, not wanting to jostle his head or ribs. He knew he probably should have gone to the hospital to check for concussion, or even broken ribs but he wanted to be alone and try to process everything that had happened that day. Knowing he would never fall asleep unless the pills started working, he let thoughts of the day sweep over him.
Neal's day had started with much too loud knocking that jarred him from the most peaceful sleep he had gotten in a long while. He stumbled as quickly as possible to his door to find an irate Peter waiting for him.
It didn't take Neal long to realize that he had overslept. He tried to apologize but Peter was in no mood to listen. Peter gave him five minutes to get ready so five minutes later he found himself in Peter's car, trying not to worry that Peter was glaring at Neal more than watching the road.
He tuned out most of what Peter said on the ride to the FBI but it was grating on him. Was Peter so perfect that he had never once overslept? It wasn't like this was a common occurrence for Neal.
The rest of the agents couldn't hide their smirks as Neal walked into the briefing room. Neal knew that he looked quite disheveled. He had barely had time to dress so he had to let his hair go. He couldn't help but feel a little bit hurt that everyone else was taking pleasure in his rotten morning.
After a short meeting Peter sent Neal to his desk with a mound of paperwork to finish up from their last case. Peter seemed to enjoy making Neal into his personal secretary at times. Paperwork bored Neal to tears but he always tried to keep a positive attitude considering he would still be in prison if not for Peter.
By the time noon rolled around Neal was starving. He had not eaten breakfast so he was looking forward to getting some lunch. He stood up from his desk and started heading towards Peter's office.
He quickly noticed that it was empty. Apparently Peter's bad mood with Neal had not let up as he had obviously ditched him for lunch.
Neal almost laughed out loud at himself. Why was he so upset about this? He and Peter were acting like a couple of school age children. He glued a smile to his face and made his way to a deli on the corner. He felt much better after getting some food and went back to the office with an improved attitude.
He noticed an air of excitement as he entered the office. Something was going down and he couldn't help but feel a bit excited himself as he was very tired of paperwork. He walked up to Peter with a big smile and said, "Where are we headed parter?"
Peter barely glanced at him as he said, "You're headed back to your desk to finish up those papers I gave you. We don't need you on this."
"We don't need him on anything really," a vaguely familiar voice sneered. It was Det. Ruiz who had shown Neal nothing but dislike from the first day they met.
"Finish that paperwork before you leave tonight," Peter said as he and the rest of the team pushed past Neal.
Neal stood in the abandoned office seething with anger. He could handle any snide remarks that Ruiz made but what was with Peter not even defending him? Did Peter agree that Neal was not needed?
Neal decided that maybe Peter was having a bad day as well, but Neal was beginning to wish he had never left his apartment that morning. Negativity seemed to be pouring in from all sides.
Neal sighed in disgust as looked at the work still piled on his desk. By the time he had finished with it all it was 9pm. Peter had come to the office a few hours earlier to pick up something but he hadn't spared a word for Neal. He had left with a spring in his step while Neal trudged on. Perhaps Peter would be happier tomorrow since he obviously got to spend the evening with his wife for once.
Neal's back was aching from sitting in a chair for so long that day so he decided to walk home instead of taking a cab. It was a bit of a trek but it would work out the kinks. He was about to start his walk when a uniform pulled up beside him and told him he'd be escorting him home. Of course, Neal thought, there was no way Peter would allow him to walk outside of his two mile radius.
Neal was starving again so he asked the officer to drop him at a Chinese restaurant that was within his two mile radius. After a solitary meal in which he dwelled on what a crappy day it had been he started walking home at a leisurely pace.
He was taking a somewhat deserted path back to June's and was just beginning to realize that it was a bit too dark down the street. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up and decided to quicken his pace. He was considering turning around and taking a more lighted path home when he suddenly heard loud drunken voices nearby.
A group of men with indistinguishable features had just left a rundown house Neal was currently walking in front of. The darkness would have made them hard to notice if he hadn't seen them walk out the door. They certainly noticed Neal rather quickly however.
"Hey...look at rich boy over here," one of them yelled while the others started laughing.
Neal knew how to defend himself in a fight, but only if the fight was fair. He had no chance against the five men who were suddenly all around him. "What do you want?" he asked with as much force as he could.
One of the goons stood directly in front of Neal and said, "How bout a little payment for letting you walk through here?"
Neal gave him his wallet which had about five dollars in it. Neal was too smart to keep much in there.
"You think I'm an idiot kid? Give me everything you got right now or I'll take it from ya myself." The man was standing much too close and his rancid breath made it hard for Neal not to gag.
Neal put his hands up complacently, "I promise you that's all I've got on me.."
After that it was almost complete chaos. Neal felt his arms being tightly restrained as the head goon began rummaging through his coat and his pockets. After not finding a thing he made his anger known by throwing a punch into Neal's stomach.
Completely winded, Neal fell to the ground where he was suddenly lost in a haze of boots and fists hammering his back and chest. Neal tried to protect his head as best as he could but an intense pain shot through his skull and soon sent him into unconsciousness.
When he awoke a few minutes later he didn't move an inch. He was terrified that his attackers could still be nearby. He lay and listened for any sign of them while trying to assess just how badly he'd been beaten. His chest felt as though it were on fire and his head was pounding relentlessly. All in all he knew it could have been much worse as the men could have easily killed him.
He slowly sat up and the fire in his ribs had him gasping painfully. Tears sprang to his eyes as his head pounded sickeningly. He felt weak, cold and could not remember being in so much pain in his life. There was also a heaviness in his heart that he had not felt in awhile. He realized that he had no one he wanted to call. He felt utterly alone in the world as he made his slow painful walk back to June's.
Neal could not hold back the tears as the memories of his day overwhelmed him. He lay for hours trying to shut out the all the thoughts raging in his aching head before his complete exhaustion carried him into a restless sleep.
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