Fandom: White Collar
Title: Man Down
Author: Olivia Sutton
Categories: Hurt/Comfort, Angst, AU Missing Scene / Episode Dependant ("Vital Signs")
Parts: 2, Chapters: 4
Spoilers: Vital Signs (Mentions of other episodes, previous to "Vital Signs"). Written prior to "Out of the Box", does not take into account anything after "Vital Signs".
Characters: Neal Caffrey, Peter Burke, Elizabeth Burke (NON-Slash)
Feedback: Yes, please.
Archive: Fanfic Net, otherwise please ask.
Disclaimer: I don't own White Collar, and I'm not making any profit from this. This is for the enjoyment of other fans. Feedback and reviews are most welcome.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Date: 3 February 2010
A/N: I recorded White Collar on my DVR last summer, but only watched it just before the new episodes started up again. The summer finale and first new episode of the season (I'm thinking the titles are "Free Fall" and "Hard Sell" but I'm not sure) hooked me on the show.
A/N2: With special acknowledgement to Dawnwind from the fanfic_med list. She's a fantastic beta-reader, medical expert, and really encouraged me on this story. All mistakes are still my own.
Summary: An alternate, more serious view of the scene in the med clinic in the episode "Vital Signs" - because, in the previews - didn't Peter say "Man down"? Don't you hate it when networks cheat in the previews?
by Olivia Sutton
Part 1, Chapters 1 and 2
Elizabeth Burke put the finishing touches on dinner when she heard the front door open and slam shut.
Peter entered the kitchen.
"Honey, there's something we need to talk about..." said Elizabeth. Now that Peter was finally home for the evening she was hoping to tell him her news.
Peter interrupted her, "El - I swear, I didn't do anything!" Peter snapped, looking embarrassed, he added in a softer tone, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't snap at you, I'm a little wound-up."
Elizabeth just nodded, her husband was always "wound up" when he was working -- and he was working all of the time - well, most of the time, at the New York FBI office's White Collar Crime Unit. "No, no, that's not it..."
But she was interrupted a second time by a squeal from their phone/fax. "Honey, are you expecting a FAX?"
"No, I didn't even know that thing was still plugged in," answered Peter, walking from the dining table to his wife's side.
Elizabeth approached the FAX machine and grabbed the paper that it spit out. "Who's Jimmy Burger?"
"Neal!" said Peter.
Peter Burke drove as fast as he could to the Hauser Clinic, hoping he'd get there before Neal Caffrey got himself into too much trouble, or the case was blown wide open. Why was it that Neal always seemed to think he could take matters into his own hands? Didn't he realize how dangerous the criminals they dealt with were? Most criminals, even white collar criminals, were not the "gentleman criminals" or Robin Hood Wannabees that Neal seemed to think they were. Most criminals were not like Neal Caffrey. Peter slid through a red light, glad for the official light he had slipped on the top of his car. "Damnit Neal!" Peter said to himself, as he slammed his left hand on the steering wheel.
A block from the clinic, Peter turned off the siren so he wouldn't give away that he was a law enforcement officer and pulled the official light from the top of his car. He drove at top possible speed to the clinic. He parked in the clinic's underground garage, went inside, and looked for Melissa Calloway.
The cool, statuesque redhead was partnered with Dr. Powell in running the clinic as a front for illegal organ transplants. Peter saw her at the top of the clinic's main staircase, and joined Melissa, hoping his face wouldn't betray his worry for Neal or even his annoyance at pretending to be interested in her. Peter slipped away from her as soon as he could, to search for Neal.
He rushed down a deserted hallway, stopping to open each door for a quick look. The third one he opened revealed a terrifying sight: Neal Caffrey was strapped to a hospital table with his shirt sleeves rolled-up. He was unconscious. Peter's heart leapt to his throat as he ran over to his partner.
Peter quickly reached for Neal's neck, muttering, "Oh, god," under his breath. He pressed down on the carotid artery; there was a strong, quick pulse.
He checked for breathing. Neal didn't appear to be breathing at all, but when Peter leaned over his friend, he could feel faint air movement against his cheek. He grabbed his phone to call his team, nearly dropping the phone when he heard a harsh wheezing sound. Peter gasped, Neal's face was flushed, clearly puffy and swollen and the tight raspyness when he breathed in was not a good sign.
"No, oh no, not again, no!" Peter said. Neal must have been given something he was allergic to, and was having an anaphylactic reaction. Peter had seen such a reaction twice before: the first time - an anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting had nearly taken El from him before they were even married. The second time he had a lost a partner, despite his best attempts to save him.
Peter took a deep breath, pressed the speed dial button to his team, and shouted "Man down! Repeat, man down! Caffrey went off at his own and we're at the Hauser Clinic. They shot him up with something and we need help down here, now!" He clicked off that call and dialed 911, gave his badge number and rank, and ordered an ambulance. He described Neal's condition in rapid fire speech. While doing so he barricaded the door with a straight-backed chair, stuffing the back under the doorknob. It wouldn't do to have Doctor Powell or any of his staff walking in.
"Calm down, sir!" the Dispatcher stressed. "First, check the patient's breathing. Is he breathing at all?"
"He was, barely," Peter tilted Neal's chin up to open up his airway as much as possible but the wheezing, whistling sound had died away, "Oh no! He doesn't seem to be breathing at all now! If he is, I can't even detect it by putting my ear to his mouth and listening."
"Sir, do you know how to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation?"
"Put the phone down. Do you have a speakerphone?"
Peter clicked the button marked speaker on his phone and set it down, "Yes, I'm trying mouth-to-mouth now." He pinched Neal's nose shut, covered Neal's mouth tightly with his own and blew air in, but the conman's chest didn't move. "No good - his throat is so swollen the air's not getting to his lungs!"
"Do you think you can get a tube into his throat? I can walk you through it, if you have the materials."
"I... I tried something like that once before. It didn't turn out that well. Ma'am," Peter said tightly, his voice cracking with anxiety and fear. "His lips are turning blue." Peter took another long steadying breath, readying himself for what he knew would come next.
"We'll have to try. You'll need a small sterile blade, sterilizing solution, sterile bandages, tape - either surgical or Scotch tape, some sort of a tube - even a hollow pen will work, bottled oxygen, and gloves for yourself."
"Wait, you want me to try to trach him? I'm not a doctor, I'm a Fed!"
"Try to get some air into his lungs."
Peter fit his mouth over Neal's nose and mouth and breathed out, but there was still no oxygen getting to the lungs. Neal's chest didn't move, "It's not working. When will the ambulance get here?"
"It will be at least fifteen minutes. Sir, we're going to have to try this. Your partner's oxygen saturation is dropping if his lips are blue, and he doesn't have time to wait. You're going to have to do the tracheotomy - it's his only chance."
"I might kill him!" said Peter, panicking.
"It's his best chance. If he doesn't start getting enough oxygen, he could suffer brain damage or die."
"What do I have to do?" said Peter.
"Now gather everything we need. Find a small bowl and fill it with alcohol, sterilize the blade, the tube, and lastly your hands. If you have gloves, put those on after you have sterilized everything."
Peter rushed around the room, frantically pulling open cabinets and drawers, until he found what he needed. The scalpel and tube were sealed and already sterile. He quickly washed his hands with Purell, and pulled on the surgeon's gloves, cursing as his fingers seemed to want to go anywhere but where they belonged in the gloves.
He brought everything over to Neal's side and spread it on a tray. "OK, I'm ready."
"Check his breathing again, we don't want to do this unless we have to."
Peter tried to breathe air into Neal's lungs. Again, very little of the air made it past the man's swollen throat and into his lungs. "No go, ma'am, and his face is blue and sweaty," said Peter to the dispatcher.
"Is the patient lying flat on his back, facing straight up?"
"Now, feel along his throat, below his Adam's apple there is a small bump, place your scalpel next to the bump and press down lightly, make a small incision, only slightly larger than the tube you found."
"Here it goes." He made the cut, wincing at the sight of blood, "A rush of air just hit me in the face - from that cut!" Immediately, Neal's lips pinked up and he inhaled, his chest heaving with the effort, "He's already looking pinker."
"Good, good - that means you hit his airway below the blockage on the first try. Now insert the tube, make sure it goes into his airway."
Peter slipped in the tube, fortunately, that seemed fairly easy. "Got it." He was glad to see Neal take in another breath. His wound was bleeding freely, though. He wrapped gauze around the wound, then used more, with tape, to secure it in place.
"Wrap bandages around the tube and wound and tape the tube in place."
"Now, connect the oxygen tank to his tracheotomy tubing, to get more oxygen into his lungs."
Peter grabbed the oxygen tank, turning the knob until he heard a hiss of escaping air and attached the tubing to the trach tube to get oxygen into Neal's lungs. He was rewarded by seeing Neal taking an easier breath.
"Continue with the oxygen. If he wakes up - keep him calm. The ambulance should be there any minute."
"Thank you, thank you so much."
"Just doing my job, do you want me to remain on the phone until the ambulance arrives?"
"No, no, I think my team should be here soon. It will be OK." Peter stripped off one of his gloves and ran a hand through Neal's dark hair, "It will be OK," he said, quietly, half to Neal and half to the dispatcher.
Peter reached for the phone, hit the end call button, then dialed his team. "Lauren?" he asked.
"Yeah, boss," she said.
"We need to get Caffrey's medical records. We're looking for severe allergies - anything that would cause anaphylactic reaction."
"Right. How's Neal?"
"Unconscious, but at least he's breathing. When will the team be here?"
"Any minute now, they left as soon as you called."
"Good." Peter heard his name being called from the hallway, "In here!" he shouted, holding his hand over the phone. Putting the phone back to his ear, he said, "They're here, Lauren. Call me when you get his records, and you may need to meet us at the hospital."
Peter dropped his phone in his pocket, and went to the door. He pulled the chair barricading the door out of the way. Jones was walking down the hall just as the elevator opened and two paramedics rushed into the hallway. "Down here!" Peter yelled, waving. Everyone flooded into the room with Neal. Peter stripped off the other glove and dropped it to the floor, walking over to stand near Neal's head.
The paramedics converged on Neal, one on each side. They quickly checked Neal's vital signs, one calling numbers to the other who recorded the information.
The stocky red-headed man nodded slightly as he looked Neal over, "For a quick field trach, you did a good job, he's breathing."
"When will he wake up?" Peter asked.
"We'll get him back to the hospital, check on what he took. Do you know?"
"I don't know what they gave him! I found him like this, his airway was completely swollen."
The other paramedic, a brunette woman, had started an IV so fast that Peter didn't see her insert the needle into Neal's arm. Neal moaned and struggled weakly, which had to be a good sign.
Peter moved closer, "Neal, calm down, let the medics do their jobs."
"We'll give him some IV Benedryl and Epinephrine," the redhead said, helping his partner transfer Neal onto a stretcher.
"What's going on?" asked Jones.
"Caffrey didn't want to wait, he decided to take things into his own hands. He must have gotten caught, they shot him up with something, and, and..." Peter started to shake with reaction, "When I got here he was barely breathing." He tilted his head towards Neal, "I had to trach him, Jones. And you remember what happened the last time I had to do that on somebody."
Jones nodded sympathetically, "It wasn't your fault what happened, you know."
Peter just shook his head dismissively, "Yeah, I did the required time in counseling, Jones."
"He's stable. We're ready to take him to the hospital now. Meet us at Mercy General Hospital," said the red-headed paramedic.
"I'd like to go with him in the ambulance, if that's alright?" Peter asked.
"That's not a problem, sir," said the female paramedic.
"Jones," Peter addressed his agent, "Take over here, get the records of this clinic. Now that we're here, we should be looking for proof of what we suspect is going on."
"You got it. Call me with an update on Caffrey's condition?" asked Jones.
"You bet," Peter answered.
The paramedics had covered Neal's legs with a red emergency blanket, and strapped him to the gurney. The older, red-haired paramedic opened the office door to start transporting Neal out, only to have their way blocked by the arrival of a new agent.
The new agent was young and blond, and wore red-rimmed plastic glasses, "We're restraining Palmer and Calloway downstairs."
"Good," said Peter, "Mannelly, work with Jones to get the records and finish up here."
"Yes, sir," answered Bob Mannelly.
"We need to get him to a hospital," the red haired paramedic urged.
"Of course," said Peter, then he made shooting motions towards Jones and Mannelly who moved out of the way.
Peter, watching closely as Neal's chest rose and fell, walked just behind Neal's gurney and the paramedics. They went out the door, down the hall, to the elevator, and from there to the waiting ambulance.
The screaming ambulance reached Mercy General Hospital in less than ten minutes. Two nurses met the ambulance and helped the paramedics wheel Neal into the examination area. He was moved from the wheeled gurney onto an examination table.
Peter hovered behind the paramedics, trying not to be in the way, yet anxious to find out more about his partner's condition. Nancy Bartlett, light brown-haired older nurse, checked Neal's vitals, while Betty Able, her younger blond partner started an IV of Lactated Ringers, and slapped leads on his chest to monitor his heart on the overhead screen.
The E/R doctor, an extremely thin, tall blond man with wire-rimmed glasses, approached Peter, "I'm Dr. Greenbean, Can you tell me what happened?"
"He works with me, I'm an FBI agent. He went undercover, over his head, and got caught. Persons unknown gave him something, and he appeared to have an anaphylactic reaction. Emergency dispatch talked me through giving him a tracheotomy." Peter pulled out his black leather badge and ID case and flipped it open, to let Doctor Greenbean examine his credentials.
"Do you know what he was given?"
"No idea! But my people are checking his records. Hopefully that will narrow it down."
"Dr. Greenbean, he's shocky, heart rate one ten, respiratory rate in the fifties, O2 sats is sitting in the low nineties and his blood pressure is low," Nurse Bartlett reported, as she adjusted the oxygen tubing on Neal's trach. Betty was preparing a tray with a plastic trach appliance and ties to hold it in place.
"Nancy, go ahead and crank up his IV rate, give him a lactated ringers bolus, and another round of Benedryl and Epi," Dr. Greenbean said. He noticed Neal's anklet. "What is that?"
"Tracking anklet. He's a consultant, work release. Look - it's complicated, just take care of him, please?"
"Of course we will," said Dr. Greenbean. He ordered the E/R staff, "Do a tox screen, urine and blood, CBC, cultures, coag studies, and a chem 7 - and let's clean up that trach, OK?"
Betty drew blood from Neal's IV tubing, while the two paramedics gathered their equipment and left the exam area. Peter brought a hand to his face, scrubbing away the tiredness and the fear he felt. He knew the one person who could help him calm down and deal with this mess. He went to pull out his cell phone, but noticed a white and red sign with a cell phone blocked by a red circle with a line through it. Immediately below the no cell phones sign was a white phone with another sign identifying it as a courtesy phone. Peter slipped his cell back into his pocket and walked to the phone, to dial El at home.
"Hello?" came his wife's sweet voice.
"Hi, honey," said Peter.
"Peter - where are you calling from? The caller ID didn't pick up anything. I almost didn't even answer, but...."
Peter interrupted her, "I'm at the hospital, El."
"Oh, god, Are you all right? What happened?"
"I'm fine. It's Neal. Someone at the clinic shot him up with god-knows-what and he had a reaction. He was barely breathing when I got to him. I..." Peter stopped, then started again, "He should be fine, El, the doctors are with him now."
"Which hospital? I'll be right there."
"Mercy General Hospital, I'm in E/R waiting. They've taken Neal in for treatment. I..." Peter left off. His hands were shaking. In fact, his whole frame was trembling, and he wanted nothing more but to sit down somewhere, preferably near his wife.
"I'll be there as soon as I can. Hold on Peter, it will be all right, you'll see. Neal will be just fine."
"Yeah, thanks El. See you soon. And El? I love you."
"I love you, too, Sweetie."
Just as Peter was hanging up, his cell rang. He looked around, walked outside the waiting area, and answered the call. "Hurry, I'm in a no cell zone," he said, tersely.
"Peter, it's Lauren. I found Caffrey's records. He has documented allergic reactions to Morphine, Codeine, and shellfish."
"And shellfish? Are you sure?"
"Yep, that what it says here -- Morphine, Codeine, and shellfish -- he's had reactions to all three."
"Thanks, Lauren." Peter clicked off the phone, and turned it off, then went back to the waiting room. So, Neal was allergic to shellfish, huh? He thought, So what would he be doing at an Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station? He knew Neal had been lying about that. He just knew it.
Elizabeth Burke rushed into the emergency room waiting area at Mercy General Hospital. She glanced around her, heart in her throat, until she saw her Peter. Even though they hadn't talked long, she'd noticed Peter had sounded off on the phone. She was very worried about her husband. She suspected that Peter would be affected by his own bad memories as well as worried about his partner.
Peter Burke was slumped in one of the dirty white plastic chairs that lined the waiting area. El rushed to his side, "Peter?"
Peter stood and wrapped his arms around his wife, pulling her into a bear hug. "I'm so glad you're here."
"What happened? Is it Neal, is he worse?"
"No, no, the doctors are still treating him. No one has come out to speak to me since he was brought in."
"Then what, honey?" El prompted, gently.
"I had to trach him, El. He was barely breathing, and I had to do a field trach, with equipment from the med clinic and instructions from an emergency dispatcher." Peter's voice shook as he spoke.
El placed a hand on his shoulder sympathetically, "But he's going to recover, right? You got to him fast enough?"
"I think so," said Peter. "I mean, he was breathing at first, but then he stopped and... I had no choice, but.... I was so scared, El, I had to do it, but I was just so scared."
El lightly placed her hand on Peter's upper arm, then drew him into another hug, "It will be OK, you'll see, he'll be just fine."
Peter looked off into space, then mumbled, "It was like Alan all over again, El."
"What was that, honey?"
"I said, it was like Alan."
El took a deep breath, and put her hand on Peter's arm, as memories hit her full force.
Continued in Part 2