Neal waited outside of June's for his ride but realized as the time passed Peter wasn't coming to get him. The young man looked at his watch with a small frown, a look of worry as he stood and brushed off his suit. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number as he paced before the entrance but there was no answer, Peter's voice mail picking up. He left a brief message before he walked back inside the building and bumped into June walking out.
"Neal... why are you still here? Did you forget something?" She looked concerned but he just shrugged.
"Not sure. Peter hasn't shown and I couldn't reach him on his cell. I was going to grab some coffee and take a cab." He smiled slightly although he was worried why Peter hadn't come to get him. He noticed she was dressed nicely and smiled more.
"I can give you a ride if you like. I was about to visit Samantha and see her play soccer. Her mother is out of town and her father asked me to watch her for the day." June was smiling brightly, Neal nodding gratefully as he ran inside, grabbed up a thermos of June's famous coffee then quickly returned.
Neal showed up at work to find everything humming like a well oiled machine. He expected to see Peter but his office was dark when he glanced up from his desk near the door. He saw Jones and Diana already working hard on cases while he wondered what his assignment was for the day. Normally Peter would give him some thing to do but his partner wasn't available so he wandered over to Jones casually and waited for the agent to get off the phone.
"Caffrey. Morning. I guess you heard already? I don't have anything for you to do but you might want to talk to Hughes." Jones shrugged helplessly, getting back to the phone as it rung again, a large pile of papers on his desk he was sorting through as he spoke. Neal nodded, walking over to Diana who just glanced up at him with her usual 'don't even think about it' look making him take the last few steps to walking upstairs to see Hughes. He wasn't scared of the boss but Hughes was a bit on the severe side. They'd come to an understanding but he still knew the only person here who really paid any attention was Peter. He sighed, shrugging his shoulders before knocking on the director's door.
"Come in!" Hughes' voice barked in his usual drill sergeant manner, eyes looking up briefly to see who was coming in. Neal gulped but entered with his usual smile as he straightened his tie and lapels.
"Sir..." He kept it simple hoping to find out what was going on with Peter. It wasn't like the agent not to tell him where he was or wasn't going to be. He saw Hughes wave him inside and motion him to sit.
"Caffrey... Burke's out sick today so you're going to be working with files. Agent Jeri will show you what you need to do. We're cataloging cases in the department and he needs help. You'll only be doing this till lunch and then you can go home. Jeri is almost finished but he needed some help on the last few shelves. Think you can handle this?" Hughes was smiling at him but it was the scary smile although Neal was sure it wasn't meant to be scary. He nodded with a grin, hiding his disappointment and nervousness.
"Not a problem sir. Thanks." He wanted to ask about Peter but Hughes was already dismissing him as he hesitated. The director nodded and smiled again.
"Burke's out with laryngitis, probably why he didn't call you. He sent his apologies in the text he sent me." Hughes sounded a bit put off by the idea of being texted but trusted Peter and they were friends. Neal nodded with a slight grin.
"The modern world... texting in sick." He saw Hughes frown at that comment then nod and smile.
"I suppose so. If it had been anyone but Burke I might have questioned it. Agent Jeri is waiting for you in the files area." Hughes nodded at him to leave again, Neal nodding back as he left the office, closing the door. He passed Peter's empty office looking inside almost longingly. The last thing he wanted to do was work with anyone else much less on files. At least with Peter, they had an understanding and he could run off on his own sometimes or chat with Jones and Diana but everyone as busy today. He sighed and went back down the stairs and headed for the files area.
Agent Jeri was about as dreary as one could be. He was a fiftyish man who apparently had done nothing but files his whole career, or so it seemed to Neal. When lunchtime came around and they were finally done, Neal was all too happy to get out of there. He let Hughes know and waved to Jones and Diana before getting out of Dodge. Neal pulled out his cell happily, frowning when he got Peter's voice mail again. He knew the man had laryngitis but he couldn't at least text him the way he had texted Hughes? Neal sighed, catching a cab and giving them an address.
A few minutes later Neal was at the Burkes' front steps knocking on the door. He rang the bell a few times but there was no answer. He was tempted to break in but maybe El had taken Peter to the doctor and that's why it was quiet. He didn't hear Satchmo so perhaps they were out. Neal frowned, walking away from the door and making his way back down the stairs and up the street. Something felt wrong but if everyone already knew Peter was out sick, he must be. It wasn't like Peter to text important things like that but weirder things had happened.
He was walking down the street a while before he noticed the car tailing him. Neal didn't turn around but he could see it trailing some yards behind him. He ducked behind a wall of a business and looked out but the car ended up not tailing him but a woman walking behind him. She stopped and talked to the person and he mentally scolded himself for feeling so nervous. Something had his hackles up and he wasn't sure what. Neal stepped back out onto the sidewalk, hailed a cab and headed back to June's. He didn't notice the dark car watching him from across the street, the one he hadn't seen tailing him.
Peter Burke was tired when he showed up Thursday evening. It had been a long week of stakeouts with Neal and the rest of the team but it was over now and he could go home and rest for a few days once Friday passed. He was happy when he showed up and Elizabeth had dinner ready for him and only him. Neal had plans so they were alone. Satchmo ran up as he entered his home and he petted the huge dog as he reached over to hug and kiss his wife when he found her hard at work in the kitchen.
"I thought we were getting take out, El. You've been working all week on that catering list and we were going to rest." He grabbed her gently from behind and hugged her close, his face nuzzling her hair and kissing her cheek. She smiled and nodded.
"I know but I felt like cooking tonight. You've had a long week too and I felt it was the least I could do. Besides, we can rest this weekend. I'm free of events for once." She was smiling in that manner of hers and he grinned.
"Sounds like a date."
After dinner they relaxed on the couch and watched TV, Satchmo curled up at their feet. Not too much later they went up to their room and got ready for bed. It was a quiet evening with little excitement and no Neal Caffrey to mess it up. Peter was happy and he curled up with his wife in his arms as they went to sleep early for once.
It was just a few hours later he heard Satchmo growl and then a yelp. Peter woke up with a start unsure what to think of the sound. It didn't take long as someone grabbed him in the darkness before he could even sit up in bed and yanked him to the floor, a hand over his mouth and another around his arms holding him securely. He could just see in the darkness another figure holding El hostage, a whimpering sound coming from her mouth. He struggled to get to his wife but someone clocked him across the back of the head and he slumped in their grasp, body dropped to the floor, cool wooden beams beneath his cheek. Peter was breathing hard as he lay there, the whimpering more desperate as he heard them carry his wife out of earshot. He felt someone lean in close to him, warm breath on his ear as they spoke quietly.
"Your wife is a beautiful woman, Agent Burke. I would hate to see anything happen to her so listen carefully." The man whispered something into his ear, his voice firm and menacing. Soon the breath moved away and Peter felt something draped over his face that smelled sickly sweet. He struggled but the scent overcame him and everything disappeared into a black haze.
It was some time later that Peter finally woke up to the sound of early morning traffic and birds chirping outside. He was confused to why he was sleeping on the floor when he looked up and found the room in disarray. Peter sat up with a groan unsure what had happened beyond the fact he may have rolled out of bed which he'd never done before.
"El?" Peter felt his head throbbing as he looked around the room but his wife wasn't there. He pushed himself to his feet and stumbled to the side of the bed and sat down a moment trying to sort things out. He had been in bed holding his wife and then... what had happened after that? He shook his head and then soon regretted it as he stood quickly and ran for the bathroom. He threw up in the toilet, flushing it as he walked over to the sink and washed his hands, mouth and face. His face looked pale in the mirror and he saw something else, bruises. He blinked as memories started to come back to him.
"EL!" Peter suddenly left the bathroom and started to search the house desperately. He looked in every corner including the basement but there was no sign of his wife. He was panicked now but memories of what had happened haunted him as he tried to figure out why. He finally sat down on the couch to think when he heard the low whimper and looked behind the couch to see Satchmo hiding there.
"Satch... boy..." Peter stood and moved the sofa so he could help the dog out. The dog was bleeding from one leg, Peter scowling as he realized what they'd done. He picked up the huge dog and lay him gently near the door and told him to stay. The agent very quickly ran upstairs, changed and made it down in no time, lifting the dog again and taking him out to the Taurus. His car was luckily still there as he placed the dog inside the passenger seat and took him to the nearest vet.
Peter was exhausted when he came back. He didn't like having to leave the dog there but they said the wound was fairly deep and they needed to observe Satchmo while it healed. Peter agreed after a moment, petting the dog and reassuring him before leaving. He arrived home not too soon after thinking about everything and wondering how he was going to do it. He looked at the time and sighed. It was just after 7 am now and he had to get ready for work and pick up Neal. There was no time and he couldn't go anywhere under the circumstances. Neal would have to find another way to work. Peter pulled out his cell and started to call when he realized he couldn't do that either. The agent started to text someone, sending a message before he pushed the phone back into his pocket and crashed on the couch.
"How am I supposed to do this? How?" He was cursing to himself uncertain of something. He looked anguished but he finally just curled up and stared into space as he tried to figure out what he was supposed to do. This wasn't like him. He was a straight forward no nonsense kind of person and he had to do this but how could he? Why would they ask him to? It was necessary but it went against everything he believed in. Everything he had tried to do.
Peter sat up after a moment and stood. He paced the empty living room and wanted to scream, to curse and cry out but the neighbors would hear so he didn't. He just chewed on his lips and thought long and hard about what they had asked of him. He wasn't supposed to talk to the Feds... so he couldn't go to work. They told him not to go to the Police either or any agency for that matter. They would kill her if they saw any indication he had contacted his colleagues or anyone other than themselves. He looked on the coffee table and saw it, something he had tried to ignore but couldn't. They had left him a burner phone to use when he had to contact them, once his part of the deal was done. He cursed, lifting the phone up to throw it but stopping and putting it back down again.
"I can't do this... Why do I have to?" He muttered angrily to himself as he started pacing again. He passed a picture on the mantle and paused, his hand whipping up and hitting it off the ledge till it smashed on the floor. Peter sighed as he walked into the kitchen and came back with a broom and dustpan to clean up the mess. He very carefully picked up the broken frame and removed the photo, holding it in his hands as if it were precious.
"Tell me what to do..." He was looking at the picture sadly. He placed it back up on the mantle and sighed, glancing at the image of three people: El, Neal and himself.