Subconscious
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Peter yawned as he parked the car and switched the engine off. He'd had a cold for the past few days so he didn't feel all that great with a runny nose and stuffed head. He could barely hear half the time he was so congested but he just soldiered on as best he could. He opened the door and stepped out into the street closing the door and pressing against the vehicle as someone shot by narrowly missing hitting him. Peter grumbled to himself as he locked the car and started around towards a large manor looking building across the street. He made it across the street and knocked on the front door which was glass with a scroll metal design on the outside. It was very 1930s New York, something from another era. He waited, seeing a figure in a maid's uniform approach the door and let him in. Peter nodded to the housekeeper and she locked up as he wandered into the huge foyer and looked around.

No matter how many times Peter entered June's home, he couldn't help but be fascinated by the largeness of it. Even the hearth was big enough to spit a cow on if someone were in the mood for that kind of medieval act. He turned as the housekeeper touched his arm. He hadn't heard her speaking to him due to his cold.

"June is already gone for the day but is up on the terrace." Peter nodded, reading her lips more than he heard what she said. He stuck a finger in his ear, shaking it slightly as he tried to clear some space to hear but to no avail. He made it to the top of the stairs still unable to hear much of anything, stopping before a light blue wooden door. He knocked once and waited. Peter was surprised when Neal didn't answer. He knocked again, turning the knob and finding the door open. He knocked once again and peered inside cautiously.

"Neal? Hello?" He looked around but didn't see his friend and partner anywhere. Peter pushed the door open slowly, peering around but not seeing Neal. The room appeared empty but something else was wrong. The bed didn't look slept in. Peter called out again wondering if the young man could be in the bathroom.

"Neal? It's Peter... Hello?" He approached the bathroom door and knocked. It was quiet but he thought he could hear running water in the background. Peter tried the door but it was locked. He knocked again.

"Neal? Hello?" The sound of something crashing to the ground made Peter jump and push at the door. He didn't want to ruin June's door so he pulled out his lock picking kit and worked on the door till it opened. He turned the knob and pushed the door open. A cloud of steam escaped into the room.

The bathroom was small but roomy enough to hold a large marble counter with a sink and mirror, toilet and walk-in shower. The sink was running, hot water pouring from the faucet. He turned it off. Slowly the mist cleared so that Peter could see that the shower door was steamed over. He walked towards it when he jumped. He saw a hand from the inside press up against the frosted glass and streak down with pinkish red down the bottom half. Peter immediately pulled the shower door open and saw Neal fully dressed laying there on the tiled floor. There was a small pinkish red puddle around his head where he lay. Peter turned the young man over and saw a gash where he had hit his head on something maybe the faucet and was bleeding. Otherwise the young man looked well as Peter pulled his friend from the shower. He did note one odd thing before he left with Neal, there was a small bath stool flipped over inside the shower and a thick scarf slightly shredded around the young man's neck.

Peter pulled Neal out into the main apartment and untied the scarf from around the young man's neck with some effort. It had been tightly wound in a noose-like manner. He noticed blotchy bruises where the scarf had cut into the young man's neck and he started to remember the stool trying to put two and two together. Neal coughed after a moment, his face slowly regaining some color as he started to wake up. Peter pulled a cushion from the sofa and pushed it under the young man's head before standing up and walking over to the small kitchenette. He looked around till he found a box of bandages he remembered seeing before, along with a clean washcloth. He dampened the cloth and went back to Neal, dabbing at the wound gently before applying a bandage. Neal winced a bit, Peter apologizing softly as he finished putting the bandage on the gash. It was slowly swelling up to a nice bump. The agent winced looking at it.

"uuuuuhnnn..." Neal groaned audibly, eyes fluttering open and looking up. He squinted till he finally seemed to be aware of things. Peter smiled down at him.

"Hey." Peter gently pushed the young man back down to the floor as Neal attempted to sit up. He looked around the room and then at himself, hand reaching up to touch the bump / gash on his forehead. Neal winced again.

"What happened? I don't... Why am I soaked?" He kept trying to sit so Peter helped him up slowly and leaned him against the sofa, cushions behind him for support. Neal groaned but managed to sit up more or less on his own. He peered around the room still looking confused.

"I found you in the shower fully dressed but unconscious. You got a nasty bump." Peter stood and walked over to the bathroom rummaging in the drawer till he found a bottle of aspirin. He filled a paper cup from a dispenser there with water and came back handing the cup to his friend. Neal blinked, eyes slightly dilated looking and roaming around their sockets loosely. He seemed disoriented.

"Take these. Should help with the pain." Peter put two pills into the young man's hand and helped him take them and drink the water. Neal asked for more water, Peter getting up and refilling the cup till his friend was satisfied. Neal slumped back against the sofa, eyes still loosely rolling around in their sockets. His pupils were a bit too large for Peter's liking so he pulled the young man up to the sofa and then up to his feet.

"Peter? I don't remember anything..." Neal's voice sounded far away and distant, sleepy almost. He started to close his eyes but Peter slapped at his face gently.

"Stay awake. I think you have a concussion. I'm going to take you to the ER. Stay with me Neal, ok?" The young man nodded at Peter's words although vaguely. Peter helped him down the stairs and out the door to the Taurus outside. Peter sat Neal in front seat, strapping him in securely. The young man slumped against the door once it closed as Peter hurriedly entered on the driver's side and nudged his friend as he strapped himself in. Neal's eyes rolled towards him although his head stayed leaning on the door.

"Stay awake for me, Neal. Please?" He saw his friend blink at him dully in response as he started the car, pulling out quickly into traffic at the first opportunity. He managed to make it to the hospital in record time despite everything but it probably helped he had his light with him. At the ER he immediately grabbed the nearest person in scrubs and asked for assistance with Neal who appeared to have closed his eyes. Peter shook his friend gently, looking down at him worriedly as he waited for a stretcher. Neal's eyes slowly opened and he smiled almost drunkenly.

"Just resting my eyes. Have to check to make sure there's no cracks in the eye lids." He grinned slightly, lopsidedly, eyes looking less blue and more black by the minute. Peter tried not to panic, smiling back.

"Yeah, always a problem if you see light under your lids but keep them open for now. Someone's coming with a stretcher for you." Peter brushed at the young man's hair, removing it from his face. Neal just blinked again, looking like he was trying to stay awake after a long night of drinking. Neal's hand reached out blindly and touched Peter's shoulder.

"Thank you, Peter." Neal stared at him as directly as he had since Peter found him in the shower. It didn't last long as Neal's eyes rolled back in his skull and he slumped over against the agent. The ER crew showed up then and helped pull the young man out of the vehicle and onto the stretcher, checking pulse and vitals. Neal was alive but he was unconscious. One of the people in scrubs pulled Peter aside and asked him questions.

"What's wrong with your friend, Mr..." Peter looked at the man but his attention was on Neal on the stretcher.

"Burke. I don't know. His name is Neal Caffrey. I found him in the bathroom at his apartment when I went to pick him up for work this morning. He had slipped I guess and hit his head. I bandaged it as best I could. His eyes were dilated so I kept him awake as long as I could. I only found him within the last hour. I don't know how long he may have been there." Peter sounded rather dull as if he wasn't sure how to react. The physician nodded, patting Peter on the arm.

"Has he taken any medicines or other substances lately?" The physician looked directly at Peter who shrugged.

"I had him take two aspirin after he woke up for the pain and swelling but I don't know if he took anything else before that. Is he going to be ok?" He watched Neal wheeled into the ER and out of sight. The Physician led Peter into the waiting area and kept talking to him.

"We'll take good care of him." The physician led Peter to a seat and patted him on the shoulder. The agent nodded, his face still in shock trying to piece it all as he was left alone. He finally pulled his cell phone out after a few minutes and phoned work. He told Hughes he had an emergency and wouldn't be in. Once that was taken care of he called Elizabeth.

"Elizabeth Burke... Peter?" Her voice sounded surprised if nothing else. Peter gulped before he spoke.

"El, I'm at the hospital but before you panic, it's not because I'm hurt." He heard her give a loud intake of air then an almost relieved tone.

"Peter, what's happened? Why are you at the hospital?" She sounded concerned.

"Neal, I found him at June's unconscious in the shower. He had a nasty bump on the head." He heard her give another audible intake of breath and movement. He thought he heard a door shut.

"I'll be right there. I'm so sorry, honey." He nodded at her voice over the cell wishing she was here and glad she was coming to be with him. He didn't think he could say what he had noticed about the scene over the phone.

"I'm in the waiting area of the ER. Hurry."

()()()

Elizabeth Burke showed up within 30 minutes and Peter was more than glad to see his wife. She wrapped her arms around him and he nestled into them gladly. He was still waiting to hear about Neal but nobody had heard anything about the young man yet so he could only wait and see. El sat beside him in the waiting room and they clasped hands tightly, Peter leaning his head gently against his wife's shoulder.

"He's going to be ok. He's strong. But... are you sure of what you saw? I mean... well... he just doesn't seem the type to do something like that." Her voice sounded certain as much as he knew that Neal wasn't suicidal, he had seen the evidence. He sighed and sat up straight, brushing at his hair with his free hand.

"I just know that scarf was tied like a noose around his neck and the stool... it was just so oddly placed. I don't know how I heard anything. My ears have been stuffed up but I heard the crash of it against the tile just enough to know he was there. I don't know what could have happened if I hadn't been there." Peter's eyes pleaded with her as he tried to think of everything that could have gone wrong. She hugged him and brushed at his hair gently.

"It's ok, Peter. We'll figure this out."