Femme Fatale

Neal was feeling a little restless so he slipped out of June's just after midnight and took a little walk. Probably not the smartest thing to do after hours in NYC but he just had to do something other than pace the little penthouse apartment.

The night air was cool but not so much his blazer didn't keep him warm. He pushed his hat down over his face and kept walking down the sidewalk aimlessly, thoughts of things past and present swirling through his mind. He thought about the past year and everything that had happened to him including Kate's death. He had tried hard not to think about it but it had been hard not to. His whole future had depended for so long upon finding and saving her and now... everything was up in the air. Yes he had friends and a family of sorts but he couldn't and wouldn't forget Kate. She had been his life. His dream.

Neal sighed to himself, his breath visible as he noticed the weather getting cooler. He pulled his blazer closer around him, arms hugging his chest as he thought about heading back to June's. He passed an alleyway he knew was a shortcut, debating the danger of cutting through this late at night. He finally shrugged and started down the path, eyes wary and searching as he passed through the dimly lit alleyway.

Halfway down the path, Neal saw movement just beyond a distant dumpster. He slowed his steps but kept going unsure of what to think about it. As he drew closer, moving to the far side of the alley from the receptacle he realized the movement was someone's hand struggling on the ground. He paused briefly as he approached and peered around.

A man sat on the alley floor beside the dumpster, slumped against it, arms flailing weakly at his sides as he struggled to breath. He made a wet gurgling sound that scared the young con but he moved closer after a moment, cautiously scouting around him to see if it was kind of trap. When nothing happened he moved a bit closer and saw the man was bleeding from a wound at his neck, blood seeping out of it heavily and onto the man's jacket and shirt. Neal's eyes widened in horror and he took a hesitant step back before finally moving forward and crouching beside the wounded man.

"Hey!" Neal called out but the man didn't look at him, eyes glassy and staring blankly up at the hazy sky above. Neal pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket and applied as much pressure as he could to the wound while keeping an eye on his surroundings. He pulled out his cell and hit speed dial. He heard the ringing and then a sleepy voice.

"You better be half way to China calling me this late Neal..." The cranky voice of Peter Burke answered with a little yawn afterwards. Neal tried not to sound panicked.

"Peter... I... I went for a walk and found a man dying. I don't know what to do!" His voice shook and he heard a loud intake of air on the other end as the agent seemed to figure out what was going on. He heard movement and another voice in the background, possibly El's and then the sound of a door shutting.

"Neal, call 911 and then call me back. Where are you?" Neal gave his location quickly then hung up and called 911 as he continued to hold pressure on the wound at the stranger's neck. He was panicked, the handkerchief nearly soaked through and the man barely moving now, his shuddering form giving a few slight shakes off and on. After what seemed forever, Neal heard sirens in the distance and even better he saw a familiar vehicle approaching down the alleyway. It was Peter. The agent parked the car a few feet from the scene and practically ran from the vehicle. He looked down at the panicked young man and patted him on the shoulder gently as he crouched down beside both figures.

"Neal..." He didn't know what to say so he took the young man's hand and put his own on the wound in his place while checking the stranger's vitals. The man was cold as a corpse, body barely moving as glassy green eyes just stared blankly at the sky above. It was sudden but quick as those blank eyes suddenly moved down and looked at Neal a moment, one hand reaching up to grasp tightly at the young man's lapels.

"Nos...fer...a...tu..." The man's voice was barely audible but Neal and Peter both heard what he said as his body shuddered one last time and he slumped against the agent's arm. Peter looked as horrified as Neal unsure of what just happened as the ambulance pulled up from the opposite direction and parked. Several EMTs scrambled out and came to their aid. Peter let them take care of the stranger, pulling Neal aside to his car. Both of their hands were covered in blood and Neal's face had paled about three shades lighter than normal.

Peter reached inside his vehicle and pulled out a bottle of water. He held each of Neal's hands gently, pouring the cool liquid over them and rinsing as much of the blood away as he could before he handed the young man some paper towels. Neal was still in shock but he wiped vaguely at his hands and cleaned what was left of the stranger's blood from them as Peter did the same and washed his own hands. They were both quiet as they watched the EMT's work on the body and then one of them walked over.

"I'm sorry but he's gone." Neal's eyes just about popped out of his head. They didn't know the man from Adam but seeing someone die like that was just horrific and apparently it was just too soon after what happened with Kate for the young man to deal with. He slumped a bit against the side of the car, sliding down to a crouch and looking ill. Peter crouched beside him but Neal stood up suddenly and ran to a corner and started to throw up. Peter watched the young man helplessly, holding up a hand for the EMT to wait while he went and helped his friend. He took the hat off Neal's head and rubbed the young man's back gently as he vomited. Finally Neal stood up again and leaned against the agent.

"Home..." was all he said his face pale and blank. Peter nodded, leading the young man around to the passenger side and getting him settled before he closed the door and walked back to the EMT.

"I'm sorry. We didn't know the man. My friend called me when he found the stranger in the alley bleeding." Peter flashed his badge at the medic who nodded. "You guys are FBI? Do I need to send you any statements about the case?" Peter blinked realizing he was involved now even if he hadn't meant to be.

"No, but here's my card. Can you let me know what happens." Peter pulled out a crisp card from his jacket and gave it to the EMT. "I'm not here officially but since my friend was involved, I'm sure the cops will be asking questions of any witnesses. Have them contact me. He's uhm... well he just lost someone close to him so this is kind of traumatic in more ways than one." The EMT nodded and looked around at the young man staring blankly from inside the car.

"Not a problem. I'll be sure to keep you up to date." The medic left and Peter walked back to the car and slipped inside. He glanced over at Neal who just sat there slumped in the seat staring out the window. Peter started up the car, backed out and turned around making it back out the alley the way he came in. Neal didn't speak or move the whole time they were in the car, eyes staring out the window at nothing. Peter could only imagine what he was thinking about or seeing in his mind's eye and shivered thinking of the nightmares they were going to have after this.

It wasn't till they parked that Neal seemed to wake up and blink at his surroundings and sat up looking around. He turned and stared at Peter curiously and pointed out the window.

"This isn't June's." Peter shook his head and removed his seat-belt as he started to get out of the car. "I thought it best you come stay with us. The police may contact you too so it's better you're with me when all this happens." Neal nodded vaguely at the agent, removing his seat-belt after a moment and opening the passenger door. He started out of the car and nearly collapsed but Peter was there to catch him. Neal leaned on the body of the vehicle, his face still very pale as Peter closed the door and helped the young man up the few steps to the Burke's residence.

Peter opened up the door and lead the young man in first, closing the door behind him and locking it. He helped Neal out of his jacket and put it up on the rack by the door before leading Neal to the sofa and sitting him down. When he was settled, Peter removed his own jacket and hung it up on the coat rack and walked back, sitting beside the young man. Neal just slumped against the sofa back looking pallid and sick. Peter squeezed his shoulder gently.

"I'm sorry..." Neal turned and looked at his friend curiously.

"No need to be... my fault for going for a walk. My fault for choosing a shortcut home. My fault..." He stopped and started to sniffle like he was going to cry, eyes shiny. Peter pulled the young man over towards him and lay Neal's head on his shoulder. The young man started to sob despite everything, his body shuddering. Peter looked up as he saw a figure descend the stairs, holding up a hand for them to stay back. It was El, a worried look on her face. She nodded and went quietly back up the stairs.

Neal stopped crying after a few minutes slumping slightly against the agent. Peter gently pushed the young man away from him and found Neal had passed into a kind of light sleep, eyes closed, face semi-relaxed. Peter lay the young man across the sofa as comfortably as he could, finding a throw from a nearby armchair and putting it over the young man. He also pushed a cushion under the young man's head and quietly started to step away. Neal's hand grabbed his and Peter paused looking back. The young man stared up at him through half-opened eyes.

"Don't leave... please." It was only a momentary thing but his grip went slack against Peter's hand as he fell back into an exhausted sleep. Peter looked at his friend worriedly. El had come back down by now. She looked over at Neal and motioned for Peter to come over.

"What happened?" El's voice was soft but she made a little gasp as Peter told her the story. She looked worried and concerned hugging Peter close.

"I'm so sorry. And the man just... died? No wonder he's so upset. It's too soon after..." She didn't finish her sentence just putting one hand over her mouth in shock. Peter sighed.

"The victim was young too. Not much older than Neal at worse. He... The man said something odd." El looked at him as they moved into the kitchen and she started a pot of coffee. Peter peeked out a few times to check on Neal but the young man was sleeping. Finally El had poured him a cup of java and they sat down.

"What did he say?" El looked curiously at her husband as he sipped at the coffee.

"He said... well... it's like something out of a bad movie but... he said Nosferatu." Peter took a long sip of the coffee and stood up walking around the kitchen with the cup in hand, a thoughtful worried look on his face. He peeked out once more but Neal was still asleep. He seemed relieved as he sat back down with his wife.

"Nosferatu? You mean like the movie? A vampire?" Her face looked puzzled by the comment and Peter just shrugged continuing to sip at his coffee.

"Yeah. I just don't understand the reference. And to make it odder, the wound was on the man's neck." El gasped, putting a hand over her mouth and looking horrified.

"Poor Neal. I know how sensitive he is about violence." She hugged her husband, kissing him on the cheek. "It can't have been easy for you."

Peter shook his head and looked at his hands. There was still a bit of blood under his nails and around them despite having washed them. He stood up and walked over to the sink and ran the cold water, putting plenty of soap on his hands and scrubbing hard. El walked over and hugged him.

"It's going to be ok." She continued to hug him as he finished cleaning his hands and dried them.

"I'm just worried about..." He stopped as if listening to something. He looked at El and she peered at him curiously. Suddenly she perked up and they both looked at the kitchen door. They could hear voices in the other room or more they could hear someone talking softly.

(just a dream)

Neal cried. This was only one of a few times in his life he could think of that he had faced death in the face. The man hadn't been much older than himself, dark blond hair, pale tan skin and green eyes. So much blood! He couldn't stop thinking of the blood as he cried and the idea of death just brought back memories of losing Kate. He felt Peter pull him closer and the young man leaned on his friend's shoulder and kept crying despite everything. Once he had cried himself out he just slumped against his friend, falling into a light sleep almost immediately.

Neal felt gentle hands lay him down across the sofa and cover him with a warm blanket, pushing a cushion under his head. The young man was too exhausted to do more than let them as he lay there trying to forget all that had happened. He sensed movement around him and reached out, eyes opening a moment, as he grasped Peter's hand.

"Don't leave... please." It was only a momentary thing but his grip went slack against Peter's hand as he fell back into an exhausted sleep. Neal was asleep. Nightmares plaguing him as he found himself trapped in his memories. He wanted to escape. To be free...

"Wake up, sleepy head." Neal heard a soft feminine voice speaking to him. He didn't recognize it but it didn't matter. It was soothing and a scent like someone familiar drew him towards the voice. He opened his eyes and looked up to see a young woman looking down at him. She was beautiful, long dark hair flowing over her shoulders and pale alabaster skin like a Grecian statue. Her eyes sparkled a deep violet beneath long dark lashes. She smiled at him and touched his cheek gently. He must be dreaming. She was too perfect to be real.

"Who..." She put a finger to his lips and shushed him quietly.

"Whomever you wish." She smiled enticingly without revealing anything, her lips moving down to his cheek and touching lightly. Then her lips warm and soft touched his neck and he felt her teeth scratch at his skin sharply. Something cold seeped through him from where her teeth scratched him. Neal shuddered slightly, his eyes rolling back into his head.

"Kate..." He murmured softly and he felt the woman kiss him and her voice changed.

"Neal, I missed you so much." He opened his eyes and he saw Kate there, smiling down at him. He reached to touch her but she turned towards the kitchen door and pulled away. Neal looked at her with a longing look and she put a finger to her lips and vanished out the front door silently. He stared after her, the coldness still with him. He murmured weakly.

"Kate..." Eyes rolling back into his head as he slumped against the sofa. He heard voices and sensed movement as someone moved towards him and touched his forehead.

"Neal... wake up!" Someone was nudging him but he felt too weak, body cold and numb. He felt someone nudge him over and over till his eyes finally fluttered open and he peered up at a blurry figure.

"El... look at his neck. What is that?" He could make out Peter's voice, worried and concerned.

"I don't know. I'll get the first-aid kit." He heard movement as El walked away and then returned. Neal was just conscious of things in the periphery but felt strangely numb. That woman... no Kate... she had been here. She was alive!

"Kate..." He murmured softly, a slight smile coming to his face as he lost consciousness.