Chapter 10

Peter was home sitting on the sofa with Elizabeth. For some reason he felt cold and his shoulder hurt. Must have injured it playing basketball earlier. He leaned against his wife and smelled her perfume. How he adored this special woman! Why had she married such a common man like himself? The relaxed G-man looked down and spied an ice-cold beer on the coffee table in front of him. He had never felt so thirsty before. Peter reached down and picked up the cold glass. He was about to bring it to his mouth when Elizabeth grabbed his arm and shook it. "Hey," he cried out, "don't. I don't want to spill a drop." Again, she shook his arm! The beer spilled down his shirt. Peter could feel it sticking to his right shoulder. Somewhere in the distance he heard Neal's voice calling his name. He tried to ignore it. The voice wouldn't go away.

Peter's eyes were closed but he sensed a person next to him, "You spilled my beer!"

He was very agitated. He opened his eyes and tried to get his bearings. Why was it so dark? Was there a power outage? Neal Caffrey appeared at his side. For some reason Neal was pulling on his left arm and speaking too softly.

"You have to be very quiet, Peter, "whispered Neal. "Lean forward and I'll get these cuffs off you."

Neal maneuvered the older man forward and fiddled with the handcuffs on Peter's wrists. He gently took them off and tried to bring Peter's arms forward. Peter still disoriented, gasped in pain, and shoved Neal sideways with his body. The agent felt agony in his shoulder and spasms in both arms. The room was spinning and he felt chills course through him.

Neal again took his arm and held him firmly. His blue eyes mirrored concern. "You have to get some circulation back in your arms. Let me slowly move them forward. I have more experience in cuffs than you." Neal gradually positioned Peter's limbs in a natural position rubbing them and trying to avoid the shoulder wound.

Peter slumped against Neal. He was glad for his company. Was Neal here to rescue him? He needed to remember something important. What was it? All he could concentrate on was trying to slow his breathing and stop shaking. Why was it so cold in this room?

Neal leaned near his ear. "I'm going to lift you on my back and we'll go quickly down the hallway. Remember no talking!"

He positioned the heavier man on his back and staggered to the door. He quickly opened it and checked the hallway for any sign of movement. It was clear. Before he could proceed forward, Peter leaned down and stage whispered, "If you drop me Caffrey do it on my left side." Neal smiled with nervous relief. Peter was coming out of his stupor.

Neal had scouted the area several times during the day. Since Peter was cuffed and in poor shape White's men had left him locked securely but posted no guard. Big mistake Edwardo, thought Neal. Sweating profusely and staggering under his welcome burden, Neal continued down two corridors and reached the back of the warehouse. Don't say a word yet, Peter.

Neal was worried that someone would overhear any conversation in the corridor. With great relief he spied the room in which he had chosen to barricade himself and his friend. Neal slipped inside and deposited Peter against the wall. He quickly went to the metal door and slid the bolt shut. The room was used for storage and built to be fireproof.

Neal turned on an overhead light. He pulled a water bottle from his suit coat inner pocket, took off the cap and handed it quickly to his mentor. Peter promptly grabbed it and drank quickly. He had an irrational fear that someone would bump his arm and spill the precious liquid. Never had water tasted so good.

The jouncing Peter Burke had experienced on Neal's back had caused added discomfort to his injury. At the same time the pain had helped clear some of the fuzziness out of his thought process. He looked around at the room and scowled with disbelief at Neal.

"What are we doing here?" questioned Peter.

"I just rescued you from White," replied Neal.

"This is your escape plan?" responded Peter incredulously. His eyes were brightly glazed. He then slowly proceeded to smile for the first time in 24 hours. "You keep me in the same warehouse prison only now I'm locked in a room with you! What's the next brilliant step?"

Peter felt some of the fear and tension slowly leave his body. His charge had not left him to the wolves.

Neal smiled broadly. He quickly and clearly stated his scheme. He told Peter how he had picked a phone off "Bernie" the henchman and called Clinton Jones just moments before removing Peter from his first prison cell. Help was on the way and Jones promised to contact Elizabeth.

"Your cavalry will arrive and have the warehouse surrounded very shortly. We should be safe here until they can storm the building." Neal hesitated, "I'm so sorry, Peter, it just wasn't safe to move you until now."

Neal removed his suit coat and draped it around the wounded agent. He sat down against the wall close to his friend.

"I never betrayed you, Peter. At first I needed to find out what White was planning." He continued with apprehension, "The bogus document floored me. When I realized he probably held you here I wanted him to believe I would set you up. He had warned me not to contact anyone for help. If my plan was to succeed even you had to believe I turned traitor."

Peter watched the honest, conflicted emotion on Neal's face.

The agent shifted with discomfort. "I knew all along you were conning him," Peter lied. "Partners protect each other. I played along."

Both men knew they would not discuss their thoughts of deception with each other. The thoughts would eventually be buried under exclusive memories of camaraderie. They would go on to share even greater trust.

Peter closed his eyes briefly and sighed. He fought to stay alert. He was so tired. Neal noticed how pale his skin was. "I told Jones to bring an ambulance," said Peter's consultant. "Hughes will probably give you several weeks off."

"Don't think so," Peter replied. "And you, Deputy Fife, will be doing all my additional case file paperwork for me! I'll have an enormous backlog."

The sounds of sirens intruded in the background. With some trepidation, Neal questioned his associate, "Peter, I cut off the tracker before coming here last night. What does that do to me?"

The agent smiled and retorted, "The bureau can take the cost out of my pay." He paused, "Neal, before our people arrive I want to say 'thank you' for saving my life."

Peter grinned widely and continued, "Elizabeth will always be grateful."