(Sequel to "That Voodoo that you Do.")
Neal was standing on the edge of the castle parapet, looking down at the vertigo inducing two-story drop to the moat below. He was dressed all in black, a small sack slung across his body securely. He wore a tight black ski cap on his head, keeping his wavy locks at bay. Neal smiled thinking about the item he had just stolen, a very rare piece of jewelry from Egypt. Alex would be proud but she hadn't shown up yet and he was getting tired of waiting and worried. She was never late. He didn't want to leave her behind.
"Neal?" Her voice broke through his thoughts as he turned. Alex stood there as he remember her from that fateful day. She had jumped with him from the top of the castle as they'd been chased and she broke her arm on the way down. He had managed to drop her off at a hospital before disappearing, the local police looking for him. She had been overlooked, safe as a Jane Doe but Neal had felt badly leaving her alone.
"Alex. You're late. You weren't late before." He watched her walk towards him, a strange smile on her face.
"I wasn't was I. I guess your memory must be getting bad or this isn't just your dream." Her voice had turned cold and oddly unemotional, a chill running down his spine. Something was wrong but because he was dreaming he just didn't get it yet.
"This is a memory, why would it change?" He was talking to himself, the question more rhetorical than anything. Neal was trying to piece it all together when she touched him gently on the arm and a kind of tingle sparked between them. He felt his body go limp as he collapsed to the floor of the parapet, Alex never letting go of his arm. She crouched beside him, her other hand moving to his face and gently caressing his cheek and temple.
"Has it been so long that you forgot about me already, Neal? I never thought it would be so easy to draw you back, but your vulnerability is so enticing. You are such a willing vessel, I just had to try convincing you again." Her voice deepened and suddenly he saw two sparkling green eyes staring back at him in the darkness. Neal made an attempt to struggle but the touch kept him drugged, his body refusing to move. The man who stood in Alex's place smiled evilly.
"So easily taken in. You were my favorite client, Mr. Caffrey. I think I'm going to like being you." Goru's voice held a frightening excitement, Neal unable to do more than make a gasping sound despite knowing this was a dream. He was under the man's control, trapped inside his own mind.
"Let's see... since you took away all my minions, I will have to make new ones. Perhaps I will start with your friends. In your body it will be easy to draw them in and nobody the wiser." He laughed, continuing to touched the young man's cheek, Neal's eyes rolling back as he felt his energy being drawn from him.
"That's it. You're going to be my vessel to restart my empire. This time I will use your skills to my advantage." Goru laughed eerily, the scenery changing from the castle to the familiar setting of the sterile operation room that Neal remembered from before. He found himself strapped to a gurney, medical tape pulled over his lips. His eyes widened, his body twitching as he tried to escape but Goru shook his head, clucking his tongue in a dismissive tone.
"Shush... All you have to do is stay here as I take control. Your energy will fuel my reincarnation and Neal Caffrey will be a saint among men... literally."
June knocked on the door to her boarder's room gently. There was no answer so she rapped one more time and opened the door speaking quietly.
"Neal? It's June..." She paused as she looked inside and saw that the bed was empty, sheets strewn aside. Her eyes moved around the room till she noticed the open French doors and saw a figure sitting outside, back to her. June quietly made her way forward, watching the figure sitting in what appeared to be the lotus position, arms at their side on the tiled terrace. She reached to touch his shoulder when his head turned and looked up at her with bright blue eyes startling her. June gave a little gasp and then laughed.
"Neal... you scared me. I hope I didn't interrupt." She quickly caught herself wondering why she had this odd feeling around him. He stood up without much effort, smiling back in a strange and unfamiliar manner.
"June... I'm sorry. I was meditating. A friend told me I should try it. Was there something you needed?" Neal's tone seemed different or maybe she was just seeing more than there was.
"Yes, I wondered if you wanted some French toast. Maggie was making some today." She smiled but still felt a kind of oddness about her boarder. The young man gave off a different vibe she just couldn't put words around. Neal smiled and nodded.
"Sounds good. Thank you June." He reached for her hand, a slight tingle between them as he did so and kissed it gently, his blue eyes staring up at her with an almost greenish tinge she had never noticed before. It was only a brief exchange but she felt as if her breath had caught for that instant, heart beating quickly.
"It should be ready by the time you're ready for work. I'll send Peter up when he shows." She watched Neal nod and smile that odd smile back before she found herself again and turned to leave, closing the door behind her.
June paused at the edge of the stairs, holding onto the banister and trying to figure out what it was she had felt while in the younger man's presence. It had been a very odd feeling, cold and frightening but in a strangely exciting manner. She couldn't explain it to herself as anything but the doddering of an old woman who was obviously not fully awake yet. She shrugged the feeling off, descending the stairs.
Neal smiled as he watched June's reaction to his touch. She would make an excellent addition to his collection being an even more generous benefactor once she saw things his way. He made his way towards the bathroom, grabbing up the silk robe and touching it with loving fingers. Silk... something he had missed in his time of nothingness. Goru thought he must have been lucky to have come across this young man. Fate had in store for him wonderful things as Neal Caffrey. The more he learned about his new charge the more he knew that his life would truly be blessed with power and opulence as this young and clever figure. He stared at his face, Neal's face in the mirror and knew that he would be far more successful in this form than he had been in his own.
Neal started the shower, the hot water steaming quickly to humid smoke. Goru smiled, stripping down and admiring himself before he entered the shower and enjoyed the feeling of warmth again. He would have fun with this form and nobody the wiser if he played his cards right. It was lucky that the ex-con had access to not only underworld connections but those of the government through his FBI friends. That meant he would have a whole team of government agents at his disposal if things worked out right and why wouldn't they? He... Neal Caffrey, would never be suspected of what Goru had planned. It was the perfect plan.
Neal smiled, finishing his shower reluctantly as he exited and toweled off, pulling the soft robe around him. How Goru had missed the finer things in that darkness. He blamed Agent Burke for his downfall, his revenge complete had he taken Neal with him. But now, he would have his empire again and those minions he lost would be replaced soon enough.
Peter yawned as he pulled the Taurus along the curb just across the street from the huge estate owned by June. He locked the car, looking both ways as he traversed the large street and made his way to the entrance of the building his partner and charge lived. June's place was like something out of a fairy tale, a place he never would have imagined ever living in with his blue collar upbringing. He wasn't jealous so much as impressed how the younger man had come into this arrangement. Peter stifled a yawn as he rang the bell, waiting for someone to answer. He saw a shadow approach, the door opening to reveal June.
"Agent Burke, good morning! Neal's upstairs eating breakfast." She was smiling brightly at him but he saw the hint of something that seemed to be off from her usual friendliness. Peter walked inside, June closing the door behind him as she gently took his arm in a brief squeeze. He felt a strange tension there as they walked into the large foyer, pausing before the stairs. He sensed a hesitation in her as she looked upstairs and then back at him.
"Neal should be dressed already. He was up early today. I found him doing yoga when I went to check on him." Her voice had thrown that in as if asking him something but he wasn't sure what it was she was trying to tell him. Peter nodded and smiled.
"Well I did tell him he ought to find some ways to de-stress. Maybe he took my advice and asked someone about methods." He shrugged slightly, June nodding slightly.
"There's some French toast and coffee if you'd like some. I made extra just in case." She squeezed his arm one last time, excusing herself. Peter watched her disappear into the dining room as he turned and made his way up the stairs. About half way up he heard a strange quiet whine, looking around for the source when he realized it was his phone. He pulled the cell from his jacket pocket and turned it off when the feedback wouldn't stop. He wasn't expecting any calls so turning it off a few minutes wouldn't hurt. Peter reached to knock on the door when...
"Come in, Peter. It's open." Neal's voice called out through the wooden door, Peter surprised his partner knew he was there. He turned the knob, the door opening with a low creak as he peered inside and found Neal sitting out on the terrace. The CI was dressed in a beige suit with a white linen shirt below sans tie for once and his trademark fedora missing. Neal looked like he was going on a yacht rather than to work which made the agent curious at this choice in clothing.
"You look well rested. June told me she saw you doing yoga?" He smirked ever so slightly as he walked across the room and out onto the terrace, taking the empty chair across from his partner. Neal nodded, pushing a plate of food and an empty coffee cup next to the agent.
"I may have taken your suggestion and read a bit on the subject. So, what's on the agenda for today?" Neal sounded different to the agent, Peter staring up at his friend as he heard the word "agenda" come up. Something stunk here but he wasn't sure what.
"Ok, Neal. What's your game. You sound far too enthused about going to work. Tell me what's up." Peter poured some coffee into his cup and took a sip, his brown eyes looking up at the young man suspiciously. Neal's blue eyes blinked innocently.
"Nothing. You told me I should be more excited about work and I am. Is that a sin? There is just no pleasing you, is there Peter." Neal's eyes flashed playfully at the agent, the color seemingly green for just an instant as Peter tried to read the expression. The coffee distracted him, waking him up. He also tried a bit of the french toast and smiled, eyes closing happily.
"My compliments to June's chef. You really are lucky, Neal." Peter smiled at the young man as both started to stand. He knew something was up but for now he would ignore it.
"Come on, Neal. Hughes is expecting us." Peter waved to the young man to hurry, picking up the cup for one last sip and stealing a piece of french toast as he headed for the door, Neal a few steps behind him. June met them downstairs, smiling warmly at Peter but flushing ever so slightly as Neal appeared. It was an odd reaction that made the agent wonder if something had happened although everything and everyone seemed the same. They said their good-byes and made their way to the Taurus.
The trip to work was quiet for once, Neal staring out the window in a curious manner that made Peter wonder if something was up with his partner. He coughed ever so slightly drawing the younger man's attention his way.
"Something on your mind, Agent Burke?" Neal's voice was facetious although the tone made Peter think back to something he couldn't quite place at the moment.
"I was about to ask you the same thing. You seem rather quiet today. If you feel like talking..." He was interrupted as Neal shook his head and gave a little laugh. This was definitely not the Neal Caffrey he was used to. Something had changed.
"I'm fine. You told me to relax and I have. Did you think I was going to remain the angsty young man you knew forever?" Neal's eyes flashed brightly, that sense of green still there when Peter stared into those eyes. Something was different that sent a small chill down the agent's spine. He saw Neal laugh and roll his eyes.
"I'm pulling your leg, Peter. Sorry." Neal sounded more himself as he spoke that time, Peter nodding back with a relieved glance but still sensing that odd coolness surrounding the con. He had little time to consider it as they arrived at the FBI building and parked, heading up to the office. Once inside, Neal didn't hesitate, redirect or anything else. He just went to his desk and grabbed up his notepad and pen, dropped off his jacket and followed Peter up as if it was normal. The agent blinked at the reaction as did Jones who seemed to have noticed the odd turn of events. At least Peter felt he wasn't the only one seeing a changed Neal. Jones followed up after a moment and they all piled into Hughes' office.
"Good, you're all here. Jones, close the door." Reese's voice was gruff but no more than his usual tone, a smile on his lips.
"We're actually working on finding the inside man to a recent gallery robbery." He pointed at the folders on the table. Everyone started to open it up including Neal, his eyes scanning the folder quickly as he flipped through the pages. Peter watched his partner with interest, his attention returning to Hughes when he realized the older agent was curious at Neal's sudden buttoning down.
"The thief stole several large pieces and replaced them with some excellent forgeries. Every one's fingerprints shows somewhere near the missing paintings because it is a small gallery and all employees are hands on. Because of this we need someone to go in and pose as a possible new charge to get to know the people and find which one did this." Hughes was looking directly at Neal who glanced up after a moment and blinked.
"Sounds like my kind of job. When do we start?"
Neal went to sit at his desk, quietly taking notes on the case file for the gallery job and being relatively unNealish, Peter peering down to see the young man doing his work for once. Even Jones kept looking up at the CI curiously, distracting him from his own work. Hughes noticed this unusual activity and walked across the small second floor to Peter's office and knocked as he walked inside.
"Burke, is something the matter with Caffrey that I should know about?" His tone was his usual gruff manner but with a hint of confusion mixed into it. Peter looked up and shrugged as he continued to peer across the floor at his partner.
"I have no clue. I've been trying to figure it out since I picked him up this morning. June said he was doing yoga when she went in to wake him up. I get the feeling she noticed he was acting oddly too. Perhaps it's his way of coping. It has been about a year." Peter left it at that, Reese nodding back stiffly.
"I guess so. Well, keep an eye on him. We need him for this job and I want him top of his game." Hughes gave another nod and left the office, Peter looking after him a moment before his gaze turned back to Neal. There was definitely something different about the younger man that he knew he should be able to figure out. He hoped it was just a phase. Neal not being Neal was just odd. Peter left the thought and went back to working on his PC.
At the end of the day Neal was glad to be rid of Peter if only for a little while. The agent had dropped him off but Goru knew that the agent sensed something wrong about his charge. He did his best to act as he knew the younger man would which seemed to ease the agent's mind if only for a bit. Soon it wouldn't matter what Burke thought. Once Goru had used Neal to take control of most of his friends and colleagues, Peter Burke would be out-manned and easily taken. He might even go willingly if he thought it would free Neal but Goru had plans, great plans for this young man.
"So obedient. I can see why Agent Burke likes you. Your very nature is non-aggressive and so easily tamed." Goru was in that sterile room standing over the bound Neal who looked up at him with dull blue eyes. The man grasped Neal's chin in his hand and drew their eyes close together as he smiled down at him.
"You're doing well for being drained of your very life force. Your mind may not be doing well but your energy will last me long enough to finish what I need to do and take over. It's a shame you won't be there to see it but I will let you out briefly when I go on this job. I need your expertise." Goru gently slapped the young man's face drawing a glare from those dull blue eyes. He laughed.
"Still trying to fight. Stubbornness is one of your strong points but don't fight me, Neal. I wouldn't want to have to hurt that lovely benefactor of yours. She seems easily won." Goru grinned, watching Neal struggle helplessly at the mention of June, dull eyes glittering slightly more blue. Goru continued to smile, his fingers taking a light hold of Neal's temples.
"Mmmph!" Neal gave a strangle gasp, body arching some at the touch as Goru used the young man's anger to fuel himself.
"So easily manipulated. Anger is a great force and it just makes me stronger... but fear. I should work on that emotion with you. Perhaps we could wait for your agent friend to join us for that lesson." Goru watched as Neal's blue eyes rolled back to white and then back again, that anger still burning.
"Another time, Neal. We have work to do. You must teach me all you know for tomorrow." Goru had pulled on a surgical mask, his voice slightly muffled as he turned and grabbed some tools off a nearby table. The whirling sound of a drill was evident.
"Let's pick that brain of yours, shall we?"