(Chapter 1)

Neal walked out of the Burke's residence, waving back at El as he made his way out to catch a cab. It was late afternoon and he had come by to lend his palette for a dish Elizabeth had wanted to try out. Peter had a meeting to go to so he hadn't been available to get away at lunch time sending Neal alone.

The young man saw a cab coming down the road, ready to hail it when a dark sedan zoomed up and stopped quickly beside him. It was all so sudden as three men popped out of the vehicle, grabbed Neal and pulled him into the car before he could think to yell. He only had a brief glance of someone peering out of the Burke's door before the car door shut and he was trapped.

He felt a hand over his mouth, gloved with rough leather and covering his nose partially as other hands held his arms to his sides making it hard to move. Neal struggled but he was unable to escape much less breath as the hand continued to cover his mouth and soon pinched at his nostrils.

"Make sure he doesn't get loose!" Someone hissed as he felt his vision start to gray and blur, the hand covering his nose and mouth making it harder to breath. His struggles began to weaken after a moment till he felt his chest tighten up from lack of air, thoughts going hazy as his eyes rolled back and he passed out.

()()()

El saw Neal waving to her as she closed the door and turned back towards the stairs. That's when she saw the umbrella he had forgotten by the door. It had been raining earlier and he might need it so she quickly went back to the door, opened it and nearly fainted at the scene she witness.

She watched helplessly as three men popped out of a dark sedan and pulled Neal inside, their faces covered in black masks, hands gloved as the young man was taken by surprise and kidnapped before her eyes. The incident was sudden and in what seemed seconds the car doors shut and the vehicle took off with a squeal of tires, the smell of burnt rubber filling the air as a small cloud of smoke wafted up from the street, dispersing quickly. El couldn't scream, but she wasn't totally frozen in place as she quickly memorized the plates and car description, going back inside, closed the door and grabbed her cell phone as she wrote the information down.

"Pick up... pick up... Peter?" El tried to keep her voice calm but it was hard as she was shaking and trembling, her face pale.

"El? I just got out of the meeting. Is Neal still there? I need to ask him something." Peter sounded so calm as if everything were normal when El knew that there was nothing normal about what she had just witnessed. Her breath came in small gasps as she felt panic overwhelm her and she just spit everything out in a hysterical burst.

"Neal was just kidnapped!" She barely spit that out, tears suddenly rolling down her cheeks as fear hit her and El couldn't help but collapse to the floor by the door and sit. She leaned against the wall and sobbed into the phone, hearing Peter on the other side speaking although her attention was off due to her fear and panic.

"Honey... El, calm down. Tell me what happened. I'm headed your way!" She could hear Peter's voice talking to her as she cried, head nodding slightly as she held the phone between her shoulder and ear.

"They took him, Peter. I couldn't... do anything!" She continued to cry listening to her husband try to calm her as she heard movement through the phone. She wasn't sure how much time passed before she heard a key in the door and it opened.

"El!" Peter was shouting but paused when he looked down and saw his wife sitting in the entrance on the floor. He closed the door and quickly moved to her side, crouching beside her, hugging her tight. El dropped the phone and clung to him, her face buried in his shoulder as she kept crying.

"Honey, it's going to be alright. I already called the Marshalls and told Jones to keep an eye on it. We'll find him." Peter did what he could to calm his wife, helping her to stand up and walking her over to the sofa. He sat down with her, El nestling close. Peter kept holding her till she calmed down enough to talk again, the silence somewhat comforting.

"Tell me you'll find him, Peter." She was sniffling slightly as she turned her head upwards to look at him. He seemed unsure what to say but nodded with a firm look.

"I caught him twice before and I've always managed to find him since. He'll be ok, El." He continued to hold her close his arms comforting her as she snuggled against him and quietly prayed for Neal to be ok.

()()()

Neal woke up some time later, head aching, neck sore and chest feeling somewhat tight. He struggled to sit up but found himself bound securely to a table or other flat surface, arms strapped down with several metal straps that seemed to have no obvious locks. Didn't help his neck and head was also being held in some kind of vice-like contraption so he couldn't move it. It was tight enough it was causing a slight pressure in his temples and making his neck ache from not being able to move.

He moved his eyes around trying to get an idea where he was as he lay on the table helpless. The room was bare, maybe some kind of a warehouse. He wasn't sure but the ceiling was bathed in shadows, the hint of metal rafters above. He couldn't make noise or cry out, some kind of large plastic mouthpiece pushed into his mouth, clamping it shut. He gave a muffled sound as he tried to cry out but it was useless. Neal sighed inwardly, swallowing as he continued to try and figure out why he was here and who would have taken him. He heard a door open nearby and then footsteps approaching, eyes turning in that direction to see who it was.

"Let's see if our guest is awake." The voice wasn't familiar to him as he listened and waited for them to come within eyesight. Neal turned his eyes to the right and found himself looking into deep amber brown eyes that glittered down at him with anger and something he could only call disappointment. The man looked to be in his early fifties, well dressed in a suit with short crop black hair and olive tone skin that made one think of vacations to Hawaii if not some other tropical clime. There was a hint of privilege to this man that made Neal think that he was one not to be trifled with. The man turned around to another figure just out of sight, his body language indicating anger if nothing else to Neal.

"You idiot! I told you to bring me Agent Burke. Who is... this?" His voice was angry the sound of someone being slapped and a slight cry of pain obvious. Neal listened with interest, curious what was going on and who this man was that he had meant to harm Peter.

"He's not Burke? He came out of Burke's home... his wife was... she was waving good-bye to him and hugged him. We just assu..." The voice sounded frightened, male and very surprised if nothing else. Neal recognized it as the voice that had spoken when he was taken.

"This is NOT Agent Burke you moron! I can't have revenge on him if you bring me the wrong person. I told you who to look for and you bring me this... pup. He's barely old enough to look like a field agent and his clothes aren't even the right style. I can't believe I trusted you and your men with this task." The man was angry beyond words, Neal still worried about why when he heard something else.

"Get rid of him before the mistake is found. Make sure you dispose of him properly." The man's voice was cold as if he were talking about getting rid of an old suit or car. Neal struggled against his bonds but he was helpless, more faces showing up at his side. Neal felt fear grip him as those eyes looked down at him with careless disregard.

"You heard the boss. Whoever he is, he's not the Fed." A dark brown haired man said. He was looking at him from his left, pale green eyes peering down curiously but without pity. Neal stared back with a glare he hoped but he was afraid, unsure what was going to happen to him after what he heard. They had thought he was Peter and now that they knew he wasn't they were just going to get rid of him.

"Maybe the missus has a boy toy." A dark blond haired man with hazel eyes spoke, his voice full of malice and sarcasm. The tone pissed Neal off making him glare up at the man who just laughed back at him.

Well, come on already. We need to get rid of him." Another voice spoke to his right, a man with brown hair and watery blue eyes. His eyes glittered almost fiendishly as if he was happy to kill someone, white teeth peeking out as he grinned in glee. Neal felt his blood chill, pulling against his bonds. The man just smiled broader.

"I think he wants us to let him go." The man continued to gaze down at Neal like a bug under his shoe he was about to squash. The man's fist pulled back and it was sudden as the blow hit Neal across the chin. He passed out immediately from the blow, vision turning to black.

oOoOoOo

Author's Note: Took me a while to get a new plot. Been a long long week but now I'm back.
Hope you like!