I do not own or profit from the White Collar characters - I just love the show.
I hope you enjoy my first fanfic. Comments are appreciated!
No sound. Just the racing of his own heart and the blood pumping in his head. The thick air made it difficult to breathe, and Peter coughed violently, trying to catch a breath. Without realizing it, the silence had transformed into a piercing ringing, pounding through his already sore head. He couldn't see anything in the blackness and wondered briefly, wildly, if he was blind. Or worse, dead.
Peter felt, rather than heard, movement beside him. He shook his head, trying to clear the ringing, but it wouldn't stop. He tried his voice.
"Neal?" he called out, into the darkness. The sound was like an echo, traveling underwater. He could feel the vibrations of his own voice, but he could barely hear it. The explosion must've caused what he hoped was temporary hearing loss, but he couldn't worry about that now. He knew that he wasn't dead, and now he had to worry about Neal. If Neal had caused that movement beside him, then he was still alive.
"Neal?" he called again, this time louder, or what he hoped was louder. His throat was dry and choked with the dust that now filled the air. Shapes were starting to take form as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. He hoped that Neal could hear him. He tried to sit up but fell back again with a cry as the pain shot through his body. Colors burst across his field of vision, and his mind clouded with agony as everything went black again.
A sound. A small, distant sound. He realized he was dreaming of Elizabeth. Was he at home, sleeping in bed? Was she calling to him? He desperately wanted to answer her, to roll over and feel her warm body next to his.
But Neal was here too. He could feel his presence, or the memory of it, nagging at the back of his mind. He sensed that he was forgetting to do something important, that he desperately needed to remember this vital task. The dream of Elizabeth faded away, and he became aware of his aching body once more.
He made himself open his eyes. The fog cleared, and he remembered where he was. Peter felt like he was waking up from a vivid dream, when you couldn't discern fantasy from reality. The remains of an office hallway were now collapsed around him. Peter couldn't even remember what floor they had been on. He smelled smoke, and maybe that was a siren in the distance. But he still couldn't shake the ringing in his ears.
Neal had been with him, walking down a hallway. He tried to remember what they were doing here. . . following a lead, of course, but he had no idea that they even needed backup, much less a bomb squad. Now the feelings and images came rushing back, bit by bit. He remembered that it had been a little odd that nobody was here. Once a thriving office building just the week before, there was no sign of life now, not even a potted plant. But he and Neal had stupidly soldiered on, going up to the office on the. . . what floor was it? Well, whatever office that Reynolds had occupied.
"Maybe they left some shredded documents behind," Neal had said, shrugging, with his hands in his pant pockets. "We might find something useful. It's worth a look."
And Peter had agreed. As the elevator shot up through the ghost town of a building, he had felt a little nervous without knowing why. He had pushed aside his doubts, thinking that the "company" had moved on after getting wind of the FBI investigation. It wasn't unusual. These people packed up and leaked out of town, only to colonize later somewhere else under a new name, to prey upon a new city.
But Neal had been right. They had left something behind, and plenty of it. Desks and file drawers and boxes were visible through the glass windows of Reynolds' office, full of evidence. After Peter opened the door with his gun drawn, just to be safe, he heard the click. Adrenaline was already pumping through his veins as he grabbed Neal's arm and shouted to "RUN!"
They never had a chance. For once, Neal listened, but they couldn't even make it to the stairwell before the bomb went off.
Peter forced himself up on one elbow, to get a better look at his surroundings. Yes, the pain was unbearable, but Neal probably needed his help. Peter was alive, and he could move, no matter how excruciating it may be. He looked down at his own body for the first time and immediately looked away. Bright, white bone was protruding from beneath his bloodied knee. His head swam and bile rose threateningly to his throat, but he choked it down.
More sound was starting to reach his ears. Yes, those were definitely sirens, but who knew how long it would take for rescue to get here. He couldn't tell how close they were, especially considering his own voice still sounded miles away.
Peter looked around at what was left of the hallway, only seeing debris and parts of desks and broken walls. And sky. A huge hole had been blown in the side of the building, thankfully letting fresh air inside. But a new fear gripped Peter in the depths of his stomach. What if Neal had. . . ? No, he wouldn't let himself think that. Peter had been thrown clear of that area, so he hoped that Neal had as well.
The movement, again. Peter whipped his head around, wincing at the pain, but desperate to locate its origin. And there he was. Or there Neal's shoe was.
Poking out from a splintered piece of wood, what must've been a door, was a dusty black leather shoe. Probably an incredibly expensive shoe, too. Peter started dragging himself toward Neal, trying not think about his leg. If a compound fracture was the worst of his injuries, he should be thankful. The adrenaline was the only thing that kept him moving, allowing him to work through the pain. He knew it would get worse later, once the rush wore off, but for now, he would use it to get to Neal.
Finally within reach of his leg, Peter reached out and shook Neal's foot.
"Neal, please. Can you hear me? Are you okay?"
Peter tried to keep his panic under control as he dragged himself the final few feet, coming up even with where Neal's body must be buried. He struggled to push the debris away, cursing his own weakness.
He was alive, then.
"Neal!" Peter shouted. Feeling the renewed surge of energy that could only be described as hope, Peter was able to push the hugest piece of wood off of Neal, revealing his upper body.
"Oh, my god." Peter felt sick again as he took in the horror of Neal's broken body. His face was ghost white under a huge gash in his forehead, pouring blood down the left side of his face. One large splinter from the wooden door had lodged itself into Neal's side, and his white collared shirt was almost completely soaked red beneath his torn jacket.
And that was just what Peter could see. He almost didn't want to move the rest of wreckage away. So he didn't.
"Neal, can you hear me?" Peter pushed himself up to the wall Neal slumped against. He carefully picked up Neal's wrist, checking for a pulse. It was weak, but it was there. Peter swallowed his fear and put his hand now against Neal's cheek.
"Neal, please, can you open your eyes?" Peter was begging now.
But Neal obeyed. His eyelids fluttered open, but the blue eyes registered no recognition as they rolled to the side. He closed them again, drifting away.
"Neal, no! It's me, Peter. Please say something."
Neal tried again, and this time, he actually saw Peter.
"Peter?" he said, croaking from the dust in the air.
"Yes, Neal. It's me." Peter couldn't ignore the relief that flooded through his body.