Neal felt fire behind his eyes as he slowly came to. What had happened? Why did his head ache so much? He tried to remember, his eyes slowly opening.
The room was dilapidated, chunks of cement and sheet rock around the room in large piles. It seemed to be an abandoned basement or cellar. The room was dimly lit with a small lantern in the corner and two small dirty windows just below street level he guessed. The windows were dark meaning it was probably night outside. How long had he been out?
He shifted slightly finding he was stuck in a kneeling position, his head having been slumped down, his chin laying on his chest when he had waken. He lifted his head a bit more and found he was sitting inside what appeared to be a very large safe. He tried to stand but his legs were securely bound to the bottom of the safe as were his arms which were bound behind him at the elbows then chained to some ring where his feet were also attached. Neal pulled on his bindings but it was soon obvious he wasn't going to be free any time soon. He sniffed in frustration, his mouth full of rags, a large piece of duct tape over his lips.
Neal shook his head slightly to wake himself, looking around the space, noticing something odd in the corner. He focused, his vision blurring in and out of until he could identify the item. The room was charged, the kind of explosives you see when they blow up buildings for demolition. He shifted trying his bonds again, the sight making him want to get free that much faster.
"Don't bother trying to get free. Nothing to pick." He looked up to see a man with a ski mask on his face. The voice wasn't familiar but the man was large, over six feet with dark hair but there were no other identifying marks seeing the man wore matching dark clothes and gloves.
"Nobody knows you're here, but when you don't show up for work tomorrow your partner should be looking for you. We left the tracker on for just that reason." The man's voice was deep and gravelly, tone cold. Neal turned as much as he could seeing only a hint of his anklet. The light was green. For once he wished it could have been red. Someone grasped his chin and pulled his face back, the man crouched before him, brown eyes looking at him with a smug glare.
"The FBI needs to learn to keep their noses out of things that don't concern them. Everything would be fine and you wouldn't be here if not for your keeper's interference." The man was looking at him closely as if trying to decide on something, finally letting go of Neal's chin and standing.
"Get some sleep... you have a long day ahead of you." The man's tone was sarcastic, Neal looking up at him curious at the comment. He watched the man pull something, a rag out of his pocket and press it against Neal's face. He struggled against his bonds a moment, the sickly sweet smell filling his nostrils, his body giving into the scent till his head fell loosely to his shoulder. He barely felt the rag pulled from his face as the chloroform took over.
"Sleep well, con." Neal heard his captor's voice fading into the darkness as he passed into unconsciousness.
Peter sat on his sofa, Elizabeth curled up at his side with her head leaning on his shoulder, eyes closed. His attention was on the television, the screen flickering in the dimly lit living room. The nightly news was on and he was paying attention to a particular story, turning the volume up just enough to be heard.
"In today's news, the case against Farrold Property Management has opened up a can of worms. Everything from racketeering, money laundering and accusations of 'slum lording' on the books against the owner, Jonathan Farrold, III. We tried to get a comment but he refused to speak to our reporters. The case is being handled by the FBI..." Peter turned as he felt Elizabeth moving beside him, her hand rubbing at her eyes sleepily.
"Honey, you're still awake?" She looked up at the clock and then at the TV.
"They were talking about the case against Farrold. He would have gotten away scot free if not for the inside information we found on his misappropriation of funds to his tenants. The rest may not go through but slum lording is something we can get him on. It's a start." He sounded frustrated, her hands gently reaching up to massage his shoulders.
"You've been investigating him for a long time haven't you? I think I remember the name coming up around the time you caught Neal." She spoke softly, hands kneading the knots from his shoulders and neck as he nodded, eyes closed.
"Yeah. He's a slippery one, Farrold. He cons on a whole other level than Neal. It's not considered theft when rich men do it..." He said the line as if thinking about someone. Neal had said that once and it applied to this case more than anything he'd heard. Peter turned and pulled his wife close to him, kissing her. She smiled and reciprocated, both of them rising as he grabbed the remote and turned the TV off.
"I'll talk to Neal in the morning. He hasn't been on this case but he might have some ideas."
Neal was dreaming.
He had been walking down the street towards June's, the early evening traffic passing by noisily. He didn't even notice the car stalking him, a navy blue sedan. He had just been hanging out with Mozzie and Alex, his mind a little tipsy with good wine, food and the fun they'd had. He wasn't expecting what happened.
He was across the street, staring at June's when he felt a hand wrap itself around his mouth and another around his chest. Neal struggled but he hadn't been prepared, something sharp poking him in the neck. The hands continued to hold him, more hands keeping him still till whatever was in the needle had entered his system and he felt his legs starts to wobble.
"Hurry up and get him in the car!" The voice was low, gravelly. Neal felt himself carried, his feet dragging on the ground as they pulled him over to a dark blue car. He saw the trunk open up, his arms pulled back behind him and tied securely as were his legs. He felt rags stuffed into his mouth and tape pulled over his lips. He didn't struggle, the drug making him lethargic, eyes rolling up to see dark figures standing over him.
"He's looking at us!" One of the two men peered down, all them with ski masks. The other one just shrugged.
"He can't see our faces. Close it already!" The man walked away, leaving the second to reach up and pull the door down. Neal felt a kind of fear as he saw the trunk closed and everything went black.
Neal opened his eyes, his head leaning forward against his chest. His body ached, his legs and arms nearly numb from the position he was forced to kneel in. He lifted up his head with a muffled groan, looking around in the dim light. It took him a moment before he remembered where he was and why. He winced slightly, the after effects of the chloroform making him feel nauseated but he couldn't be with his mouth full of rags and covered with tape. He swallowed hard, trying hard to control his breathing since he could only breathe through his nose. The lantern from the night before was gone, the pale light of early morning filtering in through the two small dirty windows he'd noticed previously. He heard footsteps nearby and saw the man with the ski mask again.
"Ah... you're awake. Good!" The man brought something small and set it up in front of the young man. It was a large screened laptop, images on the display that looked like video from a surveillance camera. Neal blinked a few times to focus and saw it was a multi-display of several scenes around and inside a construction site. He saw the man set it up on a crate at eye level with Neal.
"I thought you might want to watch this. Your friend has already put in a query to your whereabouts and we're just waiting for him to show. I guess he cares if he worried about you not being there for him to pick you up." The man smirked, Neal starting as he realized they were monitoring June's. Peter must have gone to pick him up and found he hadn't come home. Neal gave a muffled protest, his head swimming as he moved. The man chuckled.
"Wouldn't do so much moving if I were you. Your lack of activity and the chloroform won't mix so good." The man didn't sound concerned, his tone more matter of fact than anything. Neal was pretty certain he was going to be a statistic by the end of the day. He looked at the monitor trying to take his attention off his nausea, the man smiling.
"I'll be leaving now. This building will be demolished in about..." the man looked down at his watch, an expensive one Neal noted with something inscribed along the side he couldn't quite read.
"... one hour. Enjoy your last few minutes while you can. Your friend should have figured out where you are by now. I know he checks your anklet information." The man saluted him and left, Neal struggling weakly but stopping when the nausea threatened again. He couldn't afford to be sick in the state he was in. He would just choke. Neal closed his eyes and shifted as much as he could, the numbness in his arms and legs killing him. He could barely feel his body, a very slight tingling from his limbs despite it efforts. It was making him dizzy or maybe that was the after effects of what they gave him mixed with the chloroform. He shook his head a bit, turning his attention back to the laptop. There was movement on the screen.
Peter? He saw someone that looked like his partner on the screen in the upper right-hand corner. The monitor showed Peter walking towards what appeared to be a portable trailer, a tall man with dark hair turning to look at him.
Peter was surprised when Neal wasn't waiting outside for him. He parked the car when the young man didn't answer his phone and stepped out, walking over to the ornate entrance and knocked. June answered, smiling at Peter in surprise.
"Neal's not here, Peter." She watched him blink in surprise, adding a look of her own.
"His bed wasn't slept in this morning. I figured you knew. He went out last night with Mozzie and didn't come back." She shrugged helplessly, inviting him inside but he shook his head.
"Thanks June but I really need to get to work. If you see Neal, have him call me." He watched her nod as he walked back to the Taurus and got in. He sat there a moment before starting the car and pulling back into traffic. Peter pushed a button on the dash and said: "Call Marshalls." The dash dialing the number for him.
"US Marshall's, how may I assist you?" The female voice replied crisply from the other side.
"FBI Agent Peter Burke requesting details on tracker 9305 Alpha. Neal Caffrey." He waited while they typed in the information. She replied almost immediately.
"Tracker 9305 Alpha is located at the corner of fourth and Roosevelt. It appears to be an abandoned building, Agent Burke. Did you need some assistance?" Her voice was still professional but he shook his head.
"No. Thanks." He hung up and spoke to the dash again.
"Call Hughes." Peter wiped at his brow nervously, unsure what he was going to tell his boss. He didn't think Neal was up to no good but when he hung out with Mozzie, things happened. The phone picked up, Hughes' curt voice answering.
"Hughes... Ah Peter. What's up?" Peter gulped despite the actual calm sound of his boss' voice. He took a deep breath and spoke.
"I'm going to be late for work, Reese. Neal's missing." He heard quiet on the other end then a cough.
"Missing how, Peter? I thought he had gotten this whole 'running' thing out of his system." Hughes sounded controlled despite the topic, his tone mild but still curt as always. Peter flinched slightly even though it was a phone call. He could imagine the look on his boss' face and it made him feel badly.
"I went to pick him up and he wasn't there. June says she hasn't seen him since last night and I can't get him on his phone. I honestly don't think he ran but I have an address for his tracker. I'm going to investigate it now." He waited for Hughes reaction, a moment of silence again and then a positive grunt.
"Did you want me to send Jones out there? What's the address?" Peter gave Hughes the address and sighed to himself hoping whatever was going on was explainable but with Neal, nothing was ever easy. He heard Hughes grunt again and they said their good-byes.
Peter headed for the address he'd been given by the US Marshalls and arrived at the edge of Neal's two mile tether. It was a part of town just past the park that was under major urban renewal. The abandoned building had a large sign on it marked: Coming Soon! from Farrold Property Management Group. Under the words was an image of a concept drawing for a high end hotel and shopping center. Peter frowned, looking at the three story building. It looked to have been a tenement of some kind and the area was cleared for several hundred feet. Peter drove around till he found the trailer with the construction crew and pulled up. He parked and stepped out into the sunlight, walking over to the trailer and a man that looked like a foreman.
"Hi..." Peter smiled as charmingly as he could. How was he supposed to explain that Neal's tracker showed up here to this man? Well he had his badge. That should be official enough. He heard the man barking orders over his cell and then looking back at him curiously.
"I'm sorry sir, but the area is closed to the public." The man was polite but there was a hint of suspicion, the man noting Peter's suit. Peter noticed, holding out his hand.
"My name is Agent Burke. I have reason to believe there may be someone hiding here on the premises. I need to check it out." Peter spoke politely but he saw the expression on the man's face turn from being startled to indifference quickly.
"Agent Burke was it? I can't let you onto the property. We're scheduled to blast the building in less than 30 minutes." The man wore a nice suit with a safety orange vest over it and a hard hat on his head along with safety glasses. Peter noticed the watch on the man's wrist under his sleeve, an expensive looking timepiece.
"There may be someone hiding on your premises. I need to look for them." He flashed his badge, the man eyeing him curiously but still shaking his head and yelling over the sounds of the alarms, crews and equipment.
"Someone's hiding? How? This place has been checked out already today. We found nobody on the premises, Agent Burke." The man shrugged at him, Peter feeling a tension in his neck from frustration.
"Just give me five minutes to look. Please." He yelled to the man over the noise.
"I can't do that! The blast is on a timer and cannot be turned off if you don't get out in time. I can't be responsible for your safety, Agent Burke!" The man shrugged again as if helpless to do more. Peter gently grasped the man's arm, getting his attention again.
"I have to insist you let me check your premises." Peter saw the man look at him again, that same hint of surprise there as if the man were hiding something but it disappeared the moment the man started to speak.
"If you can get a search warrant; Fine." He thought he saw the man smirk before turning away from him and giving him the cold shoulder. Peter was mad now. Not just because Neal was possibly hiding here but this man was obviously obstructing him from looking inside. He was about to approach the man again when someone tugged on his coat sleeve.
"Peter!" Jones stood there, a curious look on his face. He smiled at his subordinate.
"Hey." He pulled Jones a few feet away and leaned closer.
"Neal's tracker says he's in this building but the foreman won't let me...in." He looked as Jones pulled a sheet of paper out of his jacket with a grin.
"Hughes said you might need this. Shall we?" Jones was smiling broadly as was Peter, nodding and leading the way. He tapped on the foreman's shoulder, the man turning and looking at him without hiding his annoyance.
"Agent, I already told you I can't..." He saw the paper in Peter's hand and his face paled slightly. Peter was smiling stiffly.
"I believe we have 20 minutes for you to give me a quick tour around. I think we'll both need a hard hat and vest."