Reversal 11

(Chapter 11)
(Thursday, 4:30 am)

Peter, Mozzie and the still mostly unconscious Neal were sitting behind some bushes near the front of the "My Other Home" Storage area. Peter wasn't taking any chances being out in the open with the shooter and arsonist still at large. Mozzie started making motions like itching at his arms and legs after a bit rather than complaining outright on his discomfort. That made the agent think that atleast the little guy had recovered a bit from his near death experience. Neal lay on the grass, Mozzie's jacket under his head, oblivious for the most part to what was going on. Peter knelt on his good leg, gun pushed into his belt but at the ready in case something came up.

After they had been sitting out in the cool night air a while, a set of headlights turned down the road and slowed as they coasted into the storage area parking lot. Peter put his hand on his belt near the gun and tensed up. He heard loud breathing behind him and turned to see Mozzie speaking softly in a mantra.

"It's not the man with the gun... it's NOT the man with the gun." His voice was gaining a kind of quiet cadence as it rose in panic. Peter turned back and kept watching the car as the lights turned out and a figure stepped out of the driver's side. It was Jones. Peter relaxed and turned, touching Mozzie on the shoulder. The little guy jumped a bit and stared up at the agent.

"It's Jones. We're good." Peter saw the little guy nod in a kind of vague manner, obviously not as good after his near death experience as he had appeared to be.

"Jones!" Peter called out and stood up gingerly, his one leg still stinging from the bullet graze. He waved to the agent and limped forward.

(Realization)

Neal came to slowly. He heard a familiar voice chanting something in the background and realized it was Mozzie. He heard someone else moving around and opened his eyes. Sitting next to him was Mozzie, rocking slightly, arms wrapped around his knees. In front of him was a familiar figure. At first he felt nervous until the figure turned to look his way and he saw it was indeed Peter Burke. The man didn't seem to notice Neal was conscious, his attention on Mozzie. Peter turned away again, hand on his belt, body tense as headlights turned into the lot in front of them. Neal saw a gun at the agent's side and saw Peter touching it lightly, ready to draw.

"It's Jones. We're good." Neal heard Peter say as the agent stood slowly, almost painfully. He saw the blood soaked tie around the agent's leg, watching his friend limp towards the vehicle. Neal tried to push himself up, trying to sit up when he saw a glint of something across the lot to the right. He saw Peter walking out from the bushes towards Jones and into the line of sight of a shooter. Neal suddenly leaped up and tackled Peter as the flash went off across the road. He felt something hot burn against his right shoulder as they tumbled to the gravel drive, sharp bits of gravel digging into his arms and legs. He heard Peter let out a "whumph" sound as they hit the ground, Neal's weight holding him down. He was vaguely aware of Jones shooting back from the vehicle.

Neal lay there a moment, shoulder burning from the bullet. He rolled over to his back and groaned softly. He felt a hand touch his arm gently.

"Neal? Where are you hit?" Peter had barely uttered those words then he ducked again as another shot rang out nearby. Neal felt himself lifted up and Peter pulled him towards the vehicle and Jones, leaning the young man in a sitting position against the car. The con winced some but tried to be as quiet as he could. Neal turned and saw Mozzie in the bushes across the way looking towards him like a scared rabbit. Peter carefully removed Neal's jacket and tore a sleeve off and wrapped the young man's wound in a makeshift manner before looking across the hood.

"Jones!" Peter hissed across the vehicle. The other agent turned and nodded as they made hand signals.

"Hold on Neal... be right back." Neal nodded, watching Peter run around the vehicle to his right and vanish. He heard several shots from Jones and then more across the road before he heard one last shot and silence. Neal shifted slightly, trying to look over the hood.

It was quiet. Too quiet. He heard a shifting of someone nearby and realized it was Jones. The agent's voice rang out across the suffocating silence.

"Peter!? PETER?!" Finally after what seemed forever there was a sound of shuffling from the bushes across the way and he heard the cock of Jones' gun then the sound of it released back to safety.

"I'm ok! We got him, Jones!" Neal sighed in relief hearing his friend's voice and slumped a bit against the vehicle. His shoulder was aching and his head still hurt from all the recent activity. He was just aware of Mozzie in the bushes to his left looking like some kind of wild animal hiding from a hunter. He saw Peter walk past the front of the vehicle and talk to Mozzie. He couldn't hear what was said, his head fuzzy all of a sudden as he slumped a bit further onto the gravel of the drive. It dug into his cheeks a bit but he didn't care. He just wanted to sleep. What little energy the adrenaline had given him earlier was now used up and he felt empty like a car running on fumes.

Someone shook him after a moment but he didn't respond, eyes already closed.

"Neal, wake up. Come on..." It was Peter but he was too tired and faded away into the darkness and much needed sleep.

(Thursday 5 PM)

Peter woke up from what had seemed the longest nap ever.

When they had arrived shortly after 6 am, El had been ecstatic to see him and covered him with kisses when she saw how beat up he looked. He didn't tell her what had happened between Neal and himself but just let her baby him and lead him upstairs. Jones helped carry Neal up and dropped the young man in their guest bed. Peter helped remove the young man's soiled clothes leaving him in a tee and boxers. El took care of their wounds simultaneously and tucked Neal in before leading her husband to their own room and making him take a few aspirin and rest. When Peter was settled he heard El talking to Mozzie and something about a sleeping bag. She must have put him in the guest room because he heard a door open and close down the hallway. She returned a few minutes later and waggled a finger at Peter telling him to rest before she hugged him gently and curled up next to him.

El wasn't there when he woke up. He heard some faint murmurings from the first floor and the sound of people moving around. Carefully he pulled the blankets aside and pushed his feet over the side of the bed. The floor was a bit cool against his bare feet but he found his slippers and robe and pushed his feet into them, tying the robe warmly around himself. He padded softly to the bedroom door and was about to open it when he saw the knob turn. The door opened and Neal stood there looking surprised if not a bit ragged. They just kind of looked at each other a moment in awkward silence before Peter smiled.

"Hey... have a good rest?" He saw the young man nod, his good arm which wasn't in a sling back behind his neck rubbing at it nervously.

"Yeah. Still feel a bit achy. You?" Peter nodded and did the same with his own arm.

"Good. Nothing like 48 hours of hell to give you a good night's sleep." He saw the young man look at him curiously a moment before a smile cracked his lips.

"It was that, wasn't it." There was still a little tension between them but it was slowly warming up. They fell into an awkward silence again before Neal looked at Peter and seemed to remember something.

"Oh yeah. El came to check on me and since I was up and feeling better, she said she was making some dinner. She sent me to see how you were doing in the meanwhile." He smiled with a slight blush, closing the door behind him and leaning on it. Peter seemed to know what was on his mind and motioned him to come sit on the few chairs in the corner of the room. Neal looked pretty nervous but his eyes met Peter's regardless.

"I haven't told El what happened. I didn't tell Jones yet either. It can be our little secret." He held out his hand to the young man and waited. Neal just stared at Peter's hand and then away as if unsure what to do.

"Secrets... I... I don't think I can just forget and push this one away. I could have killed you!" Neal's voice broke as he placed his hands in his lap and wrung them. His eyes lowered and looked at the floor as if he didn't feel he could stare his friend in the face. Peter's hand gently grasped his good shoulder and squeezed lightly.

"I understand, Neal. Really. Trust me. I was mad. I... it took some doing but I realized you weren't in your right mind. They messed with your head. They made us turn against one another or they tried to. They didn't anticipate the strength of our friendship. Our trust in one another." He mussed the young man's hair as Neal looked up at him finally.

"You took a bullet for me, Neal. You didn't have to but you did." Neal looked up at Peter with those blue eyes and nodded slightly, his cheeks still flushed pink. The awkward silence returned a moment and then there was a soft knock at the door and it opened. Mozzie stood there still in the same clothes, looking mousier than ever. He looked at the scene and his nose twitched nervously.

"Am I interrupting anything? El was wondering why nobody was ready for dinner." Peter blinked as did Neal. They shook their heads simultaneously which initiated yet another twitch out of Mozzie. He closed the door and stood there looking at them.

"Neal... uhm anything I said before about the suit is wrong. You can trust him." Neal blinked looking between the both of them and looking like he had just seen something strange. Peter gave a little chuckle and motioned the little guy to sit with them. Mozzie shuffled over and sat down on the edge of the bed.

"So..." Peter's voice trailed off and Neal looked at him expectantly.

"Yeah... uhm... you might find this an odd request but... uh when do you put my anklet back on?" Neal was looking straight at Peter who's expression was incredulous.

"Oh... yeah I told Hughes you didn't have it on. I thought you would feel less restricted that way with everything... uhm whenever you want." He shrugged at the con both of them turning to see Mozzie looking a bit wide eyed and gaping like a fish.

"The suit being unsure about the anklet and Neal Caffrey sure... what topsy-turvy bizarroverse have I fallen into?!" Neal and Peter looked at each other and started to chuckle a bit both men shaking hands. Neal gave Mozzie a little shoulder squeeze.

"Mozzie, after the past three days, I think it's better I have some way for you guys to find me. Besides, I need to accessorize." He winked and Mozzie just rolled his eyes, removing his glasses to rub at his eyes.

"I think I'm going to just forget I ever heard this conversation before I change my mind about what I said." The little man stood and walked to the door, turned as he opened it and gave them both a strange look before leaving the room. Neal gave a little stretch and yawn and stood looking at Peter and pointed at the open door.

"Don't want to keep the wife waiting. She's making all our faves tonight." Peter stood and stretch a bit himself, limping a bit off his bad leg.

"Deviled ham?" Peter said excitedly while Neal crinkled his nose and shook his head.

"God, I hope not. That stuff stinks." He pinched his nose and headed out the door with Peter not too far behind.

"Stinks? It's supposed to smell that way. Means it's good. Like limburger cheese and sardines. I mean geesh, you like fish eggs and pate. How is that any different?" Neal paused half way down the hall and turned as the agent exited the room.

"You don't see anyone spending $100 bucks a pop on deviled ham." Peter paused and gaped at Neal a moment thinking up a witty reply when they were interrupted.

"Wash your hands! Neal... Peter!" El's voice rang up from the first floor and they both glanced back at the upstairs bathroom and made a dash for it pushing at the door as they tried to beat each other inside.

"Get out of the way, Neal!" Neal just pushed harder and squeezed through first and stuck out his tongue. Peter rolled his eyes and waited his turn in the hallway.

"It's all yours. See you downstairs, slow poke." Neal grinned in his usual charming manner and started down the hallway to the stairs. Peter muttered something about jail and washed up before following him downstairs.

(the end?)