Disclaimer: Blood is red bruises are blue, I don't own, you don't sue.
Warning: Very gruesome, blood, torture, highly angsty dark fic. Not for the faint of heart, but well worth it for those who love the highly emotional, very angsty hurt/comfort.
Summary: White Collar meets 'The Collector' and let's face it, who wouldn't want to collect Neal Caffrey?
Neal likes going under cover. Neal likes that the FBI… that Peter trusts him to go undercover, even if sometimes he really has no other options. No one is as good as Neal at what he does, no one could be as convincing, as knowledgeable… so even if the FBI doesn't so much trust him as have no choice but to send him, Neal is still happy with that round about acknowledgment. He is even happier when they begrudgingly cut his tracker off his ankle. They HAVE to trust him now…Peter has to trust him.
He could run…
But he won't.
Neal finds, to his utter surprise, he doesn't even want to.
Neal, as a rule, doesn't like danger. Undercover ops all come with some element of danger, but to Neal those are mitigated by the ear wig he wears hidden in his ear, the camera inside his glasses, the tracker, and the microphone he wears in his watch. Neal is happy to pretend there is no danger as long as Peter is on the other end of his gadgets, listening to him through the microphone, tracking him through his tracker, seeing what he sees through the camera and talking to him through the ear wig. Peter will keep him safe.
Besides, Neal has something to prove now, to the FBI and especially to Peter. After he almost ran with that new identity Fowler provided him with- nearly getting blown up, watching his girlfriend get blown up, which is still giving Neal nightmares, though not as much as the hurt look Peter gave him when he realized he was choosing Kate over him- he had been given a second chance by both Peter and the FBI, and he needed to prove to both he was worth it, even if it meant taking on an especially dangerous under cover op.
It had taken some time, but Neal had finally gotten in good with a fence going by the name of Roy. No last name. Roy No-last-name was more than just the average fence. He sought out and tracked down rare valuables and then had cons and thieves such as Neal go and get them for him to sell at a profit they would split. Most fences didn't have that much involvement in a heist, and therefore usually weren't on FBI radar, but Roy No-last-name liked to get his hands dirty, sometimes with blood. He had no qualms about killing a mark or one of his associates if he deemed them to be in the way. He had left a trail of bodies a mile wide in his wake. In Neal's book and, thankfully, the FBI's as well, he just had to go down.
This undercover assignment was rather complex in the fact that Neal had to go undercover while going undercover. His undercover alias Nick Halden, well known for his thievery within the circuit and therefore easily capable of gaining Roy No-last-name's trust, had to go under cover. Neal Caffrey would be Nick Halden posing as Arkin Stewart… it's an odd name, he prefers the more common, blend in with the crowd kind of names for his alternate identities; he, for obvious reasons, doesn't want to stand out, and he doesn't know where Roy has gotten it, but he doesn't ask. He uses the alias provided for him despite his worries.
He has been casing their mark's joint for over 2 weeks under the pretence of being a handy man, another thing Roy put into place for him… he doesn't question any of the decisions Roy has made, regardless of how bad they seem. He knows Peter has his back if this should all fall through, and he doesn't want to do anything to piss- or tip- Roy off. It's a good thing he is good with his hands and capable of doing the menial work required of him.
He is pretty sure tonight's the night he is going to be sent in to retrieve the goods even if, again, Neal thinks it's a bad idea. He had worked again all day putting bars on windows, painting molding, fixing doors, and had learned the family may or may not go out that night for dinner, depending on whether or not their 6 year old twins have recovered from their colds or not. The little boys had been snot rags all day and Neal is leaning towards not. He tells Roy this, but Roy still demands they meet at 6pm.
Neal has time enough to take a shower and unwind with a cup of June's Italian roast before he has to get a move on.
He fastens the watch on his left wrist, perches the thick black framed glasses on his nose and pushes the tiny earwig listening device into his ear canal, past the bend where it can't be seen; in fact, Neal isn't entirely sure he will be able to get back out without surgery.
He goes and meets Roy in a sleazy club. A half naked lady hangs from a pole doing something Neal assumes she thinks is dancing. The air is so thick with smoke he doesn't dare breathe it in to deeply. The music is loud and bad and it hurts his ears. All and all, a real classy joint.
Really, upstanding establishments like this shouldn't open until all the kiddies are tucked safely in bed, but Neal wisely keeps his opinion to himself and follows Roy out into the already, dark, cold December evening. They walk out the back to an expensive looking black car and Neal slides into the back seat after Roy. The look on Roy's face is enough to send shivers up his spine, but Neal is entirely too suave to let his misgivings show.
The locks click shut and Neal is trapped. He is terrified, but shows no fear. He is too good at what he does to give away his true emotions. He doesn't indulge in tells, scared eyes or cold sweats.
"You've had two weeks." Roy says menacingly, flicking his lighter's flame on and off dangerously.
"These things take time and patience." Neal says, seemingly effortlessly keeping eye contact, his voice calm and cool even as Roy brings the flame closer and closer to him. Measured breaths; Neal doesn't even let his heart rate quicken.
"Time's up, my patience is gone." Roy announces with a flick of the flame dangerously close to Neal's face.
"Would it matter if I told you I think this is a really bad idea?" Neal asks as the flame dances awfully close to his right eye. When the flame disappears again, he can't help but reach up to see if he still has an eyebrow.
When Roy glares and goes to flick the lighter on again, Neal grins and swallows a bout of nervous laughter.
"Okay, so tonight…" Neal agrees with a nod of his head.