The Maze
==========

Neal was sleeping, curled up under his warm duvet when he heard a voice calling.

"Neal?" The voice was soft but familiar, the young man moving softly, eyes fluttering in response as he started to wake up.

"Neal?" The voice repeated itself and finally Neal opened up his eyes and looked around the darkened apartment, focusing in the dim light on the various shadowy forms of furniture and shadows from the French doors that led to the terrace. He sat up and rubbed at his eyes sleepily, pulling the duvet aside as he pushed his socked feet to the side and stood up. He pulled his robe on from the foot of the bed and wrapped it around him as he yawned and padded towards the door.

"Neal?" He recognized the voice as his landlady's, June. Something must be up if she was waking him up at this time of the morning. He had only quickly glanced at the clock to see it was 3 am.

"June? What's the matter?" He unlocked the door, barely turning the knob when it flew open knocking him back and onto the floor. He sat there fully awake now and surprised. He looked up to see several figures dressed in black with masks and gloves. He scooted back quickly against the wooden floor boards, finally turning to stand and run to where... he didn't know, but someone jumped him and he fell face first to the floor. Someone held him there, cheek pressed against the cool wooden boards as his arms were pulled back and secured. He struggled against them, feeling his ankles also being bound. Once he was fully secured someone pulled his head back by the hair and a plastic bag was wrapped over his face. Neal strained, his lungs fighting for air but he was still being held down by the same people. He could hear their quiet laughter but little else, blood pounding in his ears, until finally he felt his chest burning and his eyes rolled back as everything faded to black.

()()()

"Is he dead?" The man holding him dropped the young man's head back to the floor, Neal's body limp and lifeless. He shook his head and removed the bag as he flipped the con over and pressed something that looked like a respirator over Neal's nose and mouth. It took a moment but the young man's body thrashed and shuddered as he started to breath again, a sputtering cough escaping his lips. The figure smiled, stuffing a rag into Neal's mouth and pulling a piece of duct tape over his lips before lifting him up.

"Let's go..."

The figures closed the door and dragged the young man down the stairs and past another figure who lay tied up and watching at the bottom. It was June. One of the men bowed to her sarcastically.

"Thank you for your hospitality. We'll be going now." He left something on the floor by the stairs. It looked like a tape recorder. They left out the back way through the kitchen. There was a black van waiting, the side door opening as they approached. They tossed the mostly unconscious man inside, someone placing gauze over his eyes and wrapping over it in duct tape as a blindfold. Neal struggled weakly, a muffled groan escaping his throat as they finished and slammed the door shut.

()()()

Neal was vaguely aware of being dragged down the stairs and seeing June, his eyes barely open. Someone lifted him up into a van, the metal floor cool against his cheek. A blurry figure pushed gauze against his eyes as he made a muffled protest before they covered it in duct tape. He was too weary to move or struggle much, his chest still hurting from being suffocated. He coughed despite the gag, groaning softly. Neal heard the slam of a sliding door and then felt the van start to move, his body bouncing as the vehicle took off. He rolled around with the movement, pulling at his bonds but they had secured him at the elbows with a combination of plastic ties and duct tape, his arms nearly impossible to move and aching from the position. He gave up after a few minutes becoming aware of another sound.

"uuuuuhn..." Someone else was in the van with him. He heard their muffled moans from nearby. Neal turned his head trying to pinpoint the sound but with the car noises it was hard to zero in. He rolled around till he bumped something or someone actually. He could just feel the terry cloth of their robe around them. He wondered what other unlucky person had been taken with him. He couldn't see or do much so he just lay there after a minute and tried not to think about what was about to happen. He had no clue who had taken him or why. As he listened to the rushing of the wind around the vehicle and felt the rocking of the car, the motion drew his already exhausted body into a semblance of sleep.

()()()

June's arms were bound behind her and to the railing of the staircase. She was crying, watching as the figures in black dragged a limp and half-conscious Neal Caffrey out of her home. She was afraid for him, unsure of what was to come as they left her to watch their exit out the back of her palacious home. She couldn't scream or move, her mouth covered with duct tape and filled with one of her scarves. June sat there helpless, waiting and hoping someone would come. It was early morning so maybe in another hour or so Peter Burke would show. She could only hope.

Several hours went by before June woke up to feel someone untying her arms from the banister. She started, looking up through bleary eyes to see Mozzie. His face looked worried, his usual nervousness even more so as he untied her and removed the tape from her mouth. She spit out the scarf and looked up at him curiously.

"Mozzie? What are you doing here? Where's Agent Burke?" She sounded confused, looking to see that the sun had long risen in the sky and realizing she had been asleep a while. Mozzie finished untying her and helped her up, walking her to a nearby sofa. June trembled slightly, the little man grabbing a nearby throw and wrapping her in it. She thanked him, looking around and then back at Mozz.

"Agent Burke? I guess at work. Didn't Neal go with him?" He sounded confused but more concerned as he sat beside her and tried to help her calm down. June looked around again till she saw the clock. Her eyes widened.

"Is that really the time, Mozzie? I wonder why Peter didn't come to pick up Neal. I know the housekeeper is off today but I gave him a key for emergencies." Her voice trailed off as Mozzie snapped his fingers to bring her thoughts back to him.

"June... What happened? Who did this to you? I'll call Neal..." She stopped him before he could pull out his cell phone and dial, shaking her head.

"They took Neal. I don't know why but they did. They made me record my voice into that device..." She pointed at the recorder still sitting on the floor by the stairs. Mozzie walked over and grabbed it pushing play.

"Neal?" was all that came out of the device. It was a small digital recorder and had been set on "repeat." Mozzie paled.

"Clever but devious. I need to call The Suit." Mozzie pulled his phone out and dialed Peter Burke. It rang and rang till voice mail picked up.

"Peter Burke. Leave a Message." He heard the beep and spoke plainly.

"You know who. Need to talk to you urgently. Neal's been taken. Call me." Mozzie hung up the phone and tried another number. It also rang a few times before an answering machine picked up.

"You've reached the Burke Residence. Please leave a message at the beep." It was Peter's voice again on their land line. Mozzie hung up before the beep and scratched his head. Something was wrong. He tried one more number. It rang a few times before he heard motion as someone fumbled with the receiver.

"Elizabeth Burke." A soft perky voice answered, Mozzie smiling as he spoke.

"I need to talk to The Suit. Can you tell him it's important?" Mozzie tried to sound friendly but he was nervous and realized he was being quite abrupt, a little intake of breath on the other side.

"Mozzie? Uhm... I can't bring Peter to the phone. I'm out of town at my sister's... 'Sorry personal call, I'll be done in a moment.' Mozzie, just call his cell. Peter will pick up. What's the emergency?" She sounded distracted, the sound of other people in the background. Mozzie shook his head speaking quickly.

"No emergency. I'm sorry I bothered you. Have fun with your visit!" He coughed and hung up quickly although he felt badly after wards. She was going to know something was up but if she wasn't at home and Peter wasn't answering... Mozzie sighed, turning when June put a hand on his shoulder.

"Did you get Peter?" She sounded a bit confused by what she had heard him say. He shook his head at her.

"Apparently El is out of town with her sister and The Suit isn't answering. This is REALLY beginning to worry me." Mozz' voice was starting to get high and crack slightly which meant he was feeling even more worried and possibly scared. June patted him on the shoulder and stood shakily.

"I need to call the police. Will you help me, Mozz?"

()()()

Elizabeth Burke heard the abrupt closing from Mozzie and a click as he hung up. She called Peter's number but got his voice mail. She tried Neal's number but got his voice mail too. Something was wrong; She could feel it but wasn't sure what she could do about it as she hung up the cell and pushed it back into her purse and walked back over to the table. El scooted back into the booth across from her sister and saw a look of concern on her sister's face.

"El, something's wrong. Tell me." Ellen looked at her sister with soft brown eyes that matched the lighter color of her hair compared to her sister. She reached over and held El's hand and smiled softly.

"Was that Peter? Is everything ok?" Ellen's voice was quiet, Elizabeth shaking her head then nodding.

"Everything's fine but that wasn't Peter. It was... well I can't really explain but would it be an inconvenience if I left tonight. I know I've only been here a day but something's come up." Elizabeth knew if Mozzie had called asking for Peter and Peter wasn't answering his cell, something must be up. She had to be sure everything was ok. Ellen seemed to understand.

"Not a problem. I'll help you pack. Do we still have time for lunch?" She looked at El who nodded with a slight smile. If nothing else she could wait till after lunch just in case Peter called her back. If he hadn't then she would know something was up for sure.

Lunch ended up really good, Elizabeth getting the shrimp mandarin salad while Ellen got a calamari shrimp and pasta plate. They had been sharing between plates when her cell vibrated in her purse. El excused herself and got up to take the call.

"Elizabeth Burke... Reese? How are you?" She was surprised to hear her husband's boss on the phone. He sounded a little off his usual gruffness at a minimum.

"I'm doing well. I was just wondering how Peter was feeling. I hope everything is ok."He sounded concerned as she answered in a quizzical manner.

"Uhm... he should be. Why do you ask?" Now she was worrying. First Mozzie now Hughes was asking about Peter. The agent coughed and continued.

"Well he wasn't at work today and I didn't receive a call. Caffrey isn't here either so I thought maybe something had happened." His voice was definitely worried and now Elizabeth knew she had to go home immediately.

"I'm actually out of town but you're the second person to call and ask me where Peter is. I haven't heard from Neal yet." She heard Hughes cough again and realized he was definitely concerned.

"I'll send Jones by the house to see what's up if you like." Hughes suggestion made her sigh in relief.

"Will you? I'm about to pack and head home to check on him but if Jones was there... Thank you Reese."

()()()

Elizabeth was just finishing up her packing when she heard her cell ringing. She practically ran over to answer it, pushing it to her ear.

"Elizabeth... Hi Jones. Yes, I'm well. Thanks. What? Ok... did you check on Neal?" She waited for Jones to finish while she paced the floor of the guest room in her sister's house. Finally he answered her and she nodded with a deflated look, eyes wide with worry. Ellen took the time to enter at that moment through the open door and saw her expression.

"Thank you Jones... I'm glad June isn't hurt. Thanks." Elizabeth hung up the phone and stood there a moment staring at it as if it were a curious beast till a cough from Ellen woke her up. She turned and saw her sister staring at her curiously.

"El, what's the matter?" Ellen looked startled as Elizabeth started to cry, running over and hugging her.

"El... tell me what's wrong." Ellen was hugging her tightly, Elizabeth crying a moment more till she pulled away and wiped at her eyes.

"I'm sorry. Something's wrong... I don't know what but Peter isn't answering his cell, he didn't show up at work and something happened to his partner." She was still shaky, voice trembling with emotion as she sat on the edge of the bed and put her face in her hands. Ellen sat beside her, placing an arm around her.

"Elizabeth, I'm so sorry. I know you told me a little about his partner... young guy right? FBI consultant? What happened?" Ellen lifted her face so their eyes met and Elizabeth sniffled trying to figure out how much she should tell her sister. She hadn't lied to her before except in the case of Neal. She never told her the truth about his real associations but it didn't matter really...

"Home invasion... his landlady was found tied up by a friend and she said someone kidnapped him. Now Peter's missing as well. Nobody knows where he is and he's not answering his phone. I'm worried." She sniffled a bit more, wiping at her eyes and standing as she finished packing.

"I need to go home now. I'm sorry Ellen. I really am. I wish... I just need to go." She saw her sister nod and smile.

"It's ok. Call me when you get back?" Ellen hugged her and she hugged her sister back tightly glad she was with her.

()()()

Neal woke up when he rolled and banged against the inside of the van. He gave a muffled groan, shaking his head and trying to remember what was going on. He heard the sound of people moving outside and then the loud click of someone opening and pulling aside the door of the van. He struggled slightly as hands grabbed at him and pulled him groggily out of the vehicle. Neal was being carried, his feet dragging slightly over what felt like a gravel drive, the sound of another figure also being carried beside him. He turned his head as he listened to the men around him talking. Their voices were soft but he picked up one word: Maze. He wasn't sure what it meant but it didn't sound good the way they used it and he was guessing it wasn't corn they were talking about.

He heard the loud sliding of a huge door, something like at a garage or warehouse, as his socked feet dragged over smoother ground possibly cement. He struggled slightly as they dropped him to the hard floor and he heard another thud of another figure dropped nearby. Someone held him down and he felt something cutting at the tape around his face which was removed along with the gauze, the dim light hurting his eyes. Neal squinted at the blurry figures in black, their faces hidden behind black masks. He looked around himself slowly taking in the bareness of the room. There were two chairs bolted to the floor with straps. He shivered looking at them as he continued his quick look around and saw another still form laying nearby. They were clad in plain gray sweat pants and a white tee covered with a well worn maroon terry cloth robe. It was Peter Burke. Neal sat up and tried to move towards them but someone pushed him back, his head connecting to the hard floor with a painful thud. Neal winced and gave a muffled groan looking at his captors and then back at his friend who was bound, gagged and still blindfolded. One of the men smiled broadly at him.

"Well now that we have you here Mr. Caffrey, we're going to let you go..." The man's voice trailed off as Neal blinked at him, replying with a muffled sound. The man laughed.

"But you have to play our game. You like puzzles. How would you do with a maze? You think Agent Burke would like to play too?" The man was still smiling that evil smile, walking over and kicking Peter in the ribs. The agent groaned softly, moving ever so slightly. Neal was relieved his partner and friend was still alive but he was worried about these men. Who were they and why had they taken them?

"You wonder who I am? Well if you make it through the maze, perhaps I'll tell you unless you think of it before you escape... or not." His voice was cold, emotionless, that smile still on his lips.

"But before we start... we have to prepare the maze. Can't have you seeing can we?" The man continued to smile, two men grasping a firm hold on Neal as a third pulled out a syringe, liquid spraying from it as he approached. He struggled weakly as they held him down and bared his neck, the needle digging into his skin a moment. Neal felt something warm enter his system, his body beginning to relax. He slumped against the two men as they let go and he lay on the cool cement floor, head lolling to one side.

"It's ok... sleep, Mr. Caffrey. When you wake up, you'll be in the maze. I hope you'll be ready."