Neal was listening in to the feed as Peter spoke over the wire. He had been allowed to tag along but it was a dangerous assignment and they didn't want him in the way. They did need his ears though. Peter and the gang had notice he had an usually good ear when it came to identifying sounds. The person they were chasing had an alarm system they were trying to crack and hoped that the bug they planted near it would allow them access to his stash and him if Neal could ID the sounds. He had and they were inside trying to find him and the stash of illegal weapons.
Neal sat in the van monitoring along with a few other agents and Jones who had been held back due to a bad ankle. He had hurt it over the weekend and they had benched him from anything physical till it was healed up.
"So... what was it you were doing when you twisted your ankle, Jones?" Neal was bored so he was poking around for anything to distract himself but was doing a better job of distracting others. Jones sighed.
"Not now, Caffrey. I need to listen to this feed as do you." His tone was final as Neal nodded, his blue eyes flashing slightly as he heard something loud over the earphones he had taken off. They clung around his neck like a scarf, Neal pushing them halfway on as he saw the look on Jones' face.
"We're taking fire! We need that back up now Jones if you can manage it!" It was Peter's voice and he sounded desperate. Neal pushed the earphones back up to his ears listening intently. His face paled when he heard the next voice.
"Peter! Peter get up! Agent down! Where's that back up? Jones can you hear me..." Neal knew exactly who was speaking as he listened. It was Diana. He was already pulling the earphones off from around his neck, grabbing something beside him and quietly disappearing out the door. Jones turned and found Neal missing, his manner upset as he realized what happened.
"We're sending them your way, Diana. How's Peter?" Jones tried not to say anything about Neal having left since he had to stay and monitor things.
"The vest took the brunt but he's stunned. Waiting for him to wake up." Diana sounded only slightly panicked, her voice calm but she was an experienced agent, Jones knew she would handle it till help came. He finally decided to tell her what was up with Peter out of it.
"Diana... Caffrey's gone missing from the van. When we heard Peter got hit, he vanished. I wonder if he went to help you guys out. Can you tell me if you see him? I don't see why else he would have run off at that particular moment." Jones was trying to sound calm but he knew that Peter was going to be angry when he woke up and found out what Neal had done. He heard Diana answer with a sigh.
"Sure thing, Jones. How much longer till that back up arrives? We're taking on... wait... I think I see them. (We need a medic to look at my boss here. Yes...)" Diana's voice trailed off a bit as she talked to the back up crew, gun fire still evident in the background as Jones listened. He worried about Peter but was worrying more about where Neal had run off to. The kid was smarter than most but when it came to impulse control, he was more like a hyper 2 yr old. He had a tendency to over react.
Neal heard Diana saying that Peter was hurt and panicked. He felt a cold chill run down his spine and he wanted to go see how the agent was. If Peter got hurt... He wasn't sure what he would do. How could he tell Elizabeth?
He waited till everyone was distracted as he slipped out of the van unnoticed. He avoided the worse of the fray and made it inside of the warehouse the FBI was stalking. A dangerous arms dealer by the name of Alexandre Sergislev was in the building along with his fifty or more armed goons. If not for the fact he had a good ear for sounds, Neal wouldn't be here at all. If he could pull Peter out of harms way, he was willing to do so.
It took a few minutes before he found where Diana and Peter were and snuck up along the edge. Diana drew her weapon scaring the young man half to death and herself as she realized who it was.
"Dammit, Caffrey! You know Jones is looking for you?" She sounded pissed, putting her weapon down but at the ready. Neal was shaking as he got over having her point the gun at him, noticing her own flash of fear in her eyes at what could have happened.
"So why are you here?" She was straight to the point, ducked behind the small wall in the warehouse but Peter was no where to be seen. He felt that cold chill again, his mouth dry.
"Peter... I was worried when I heard he got shot." His voice was trembling ever so slightly, her expression softening a bit as she pointed around the corner.
"Over there. The relief crew showed up and carried him to a medic. He had a vest on but he's out of it. Got hit by a large round but he should be ok. Now... get back to the van before I shoot you for insubordination. You know Peter's going to be pissed you came out here." She was back to being professional but still smiling at him with a slight sympathetic glance. He nodded chagrined and snuck back around to where she pointed.
Neal found a group of agents one of them with a med kit. He was walking forward, unsure what he might find when he heard that voice.
"I'm ok. I just... ugh... yeah that hurts! You think these vests could have a bit more padding on them!" It was Peter's voice. He was ok! Neal felt better, trying to sneak back into the background but he saw someone sit up and then two brown eyes met his and he knew he was in trouble.
"What the... Neal? Why are you out here?" Peter's voice barked, his hand raised in the usual two fingered call sign he saw Hughes and the higher ups use. Neal was trapped so he slunk forward, his eyes averted as he approached the other agents and Peter. Peter looked confused at first but slowly his expression grew angry.
"Dammit, Neal! What are you doing here?" He was looking around for something or someone, Neal thought to take him back to the van. Peter was furious but trying to hide it.
"I thought... I heard the gun shots and Diana said you were down. I... wanted to make sure you were ok." His voice sounded tinny even to him but he was telling the truth. He saw Peter comb a hand through his hair tiredly as he nodded but still managed to look pissed off.
"Fine... but you picked a hell of a time to come out here. We're nearly surrounded by gun fire. Someone get him out of here and back to the van. And make sure he stays there! Handcuff him if you have to!" Peter was worried about him too but he had more pressing things like the operation to think about and so Neal nodded, his face flushed with shame as an agent in SWAT gear put a hand around his arm and started to lead him away. They hadn't walked far when the agent poked him and smiled.
"Well I see why Peter likes you. You're definitely not stupid although walking in here regardless was a hair-brained..." The agent didn't finish his sentence as he slumped forward onto Neal, something wet and warm gushing from his helmet. Neal tried to catch the man falling over into a crouch as they both slipped to the ground. The man was dead, his head bleeding where the bullet had pierce his helmet. Neal looked at his bloodied hands with wide blue eyes, a look of horror on his face. He tried to shake the agent awake only just aware of someone walking up behind him. Neal turned to see who but something hit him hard across the back of the head and slumped to the ground next to the dead agent.
Neal heard voices, strange voices at first till he realized they were speaking another language. He tried to figure out what but his mind was slowly fading away as the hit to his head knocked him out and he fell into darkness.
Peter and Diana were hunched down behind a huge slab of concrete, remains of some highway project they figured. It looked to be an old street divider but it didn't matter so long as it kept the worse of the bullets from Sergislev's men off of them. They were talking in low voices, looking over occasionally to get an idea how to get a shot in when someone came up behind them. Peter pushed Diana out of the way, both rounds hitting him hard in the chest. She managed to get a shot in before the shooter could continue, killing them. Peter fell to the ground, the world graying out as he lay there, his eyes staring upwards blankly.
Peter? Peter get up! Agent down...
He heard someone talking to him but he was so out of it, his chest hurting a bit too much. He was gasping for breath but heard very little other than his own heart beating in his ears.
He came too a few minutes later, several agents standing around him, one he recognized as a medic and another couple from some other departments.
"Am I really... all that interesting, guys?" He joked despite coughing a bit, his chest still hurting. The medic laughed, looking at him with a cockeyed grin.
"You took a couple of rounds but I think you'll be ok. Just a few bruised ribs far as I can see. Couldn't find anything broken. How are you feeling, Pete?" The man was still grinning a bit of salt and peppered hair showing underneath. Only Mandow could talk to him like that, Peter smiling at the man.
"I'm ok. I just... ugh... yeah that hurts! You think these vests could have a bit more padding on them!" Mandow had poked at his ribs a bit as he wrapped them with gauze, handing him back the vest bullet free.
"Better put this back on, boss. Diana was worried sick about you. You have some devoted team members." Mandow was grinning, watching Peter sit up and wrap the vest back around himself when his eyes spotted someone just beyond the group. Peter wasn't sure he was seeing who he thought till he saw the figure shrink back a bit.
What was Neal doing out in the line of fire? Dammit he thought as he yelled over to his partner and motioned him over like the higher ups. Neal looked like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Peter was definitely angry that the young man was out here without permission not to mention it was dangerous but when he asked him and found out why... he couldn't stay angry. He acted like he was to make sure he wouldn't do it again having an agent walk Neal back to the van. Last thing he needed was to find Neal's dead body when they left and wanted to be sure the con was safe regardless of why he came out.
Mandow allowed him to get up after a bit, telling him to take it easy even if they were in a gun fight. The man knew Peter wouldn't stay back if he was able to work. Peter got up and said he'd walk back to make sure Neal and the agent were at the van before he joined them again. He sent message to Diana that he was going back.
"Uhm Peter... Caffrey isn't here yet." Jones' voice came over the receiver as Peter finished speaking, the agent blinking as he took what his subordinate said.
"He's not? But I sent him back with Zucker." Peter felt a cold chill wash over him as he grabbed another agent and they headed back towards the van. Mandow followed them both and saw the grisley remains of Zucker on the ground, blood around his face as well as tracks of bloodied foot and hand prints. Peter recognized those thin prints as his none other than Neal's.
"What happened? Do we have any visuals on where Caffrey may have..." Peter stopped when he saw drag marks nearby and realized what happened. His heart skipped a few beats as he turned around to scout the area, panic threatening to take over.
"Someone shot Zucker and dragged Neal off... Mandow can you let Diana know we have a man missing... Jones get some people out here to look for Neal. I never should have brought him but he was the only person we had to get us into the building." Peter rubbed at his face tiredly. He hoped it was another agent that dragged Neal off but as the reports came in and they searched for him amid the fight with Sergislev's men, it was beginning to look more like someone in the mobster's crew had dragged him off.
"Diana, can you hear me?" Peter was talking through the two-way, the sound of gunshots from somewhere nearby evident. Finally he heard a few shots and then another voice.
"Yeah, Boss... what's up? Did you find Caffrey yet?" She sounded worried but distracted, people shouting near her.
"No but... I need you to get a message to Sergislev that I want to talk to him. Tell Hughes what's going on Jones and get back to me stat!"
Neal continued to hear voices around him even as he felt his body lifted up and dragged away, the sound of gunfire fading only a little bit. At some point someone pulled his arms back tightly and secured his wrists at the elbows with what he could only guess were zip ties. His head continued to throb and his mind replayed the event with the agent who had died beside him. A part of him cursed that he had been so stupid as to come looking for Peter but why wouldn't he? Peter was his friend. He just wanted to help but he wasn't thinking, running out into the middle of a gun fight. This wasn't like his jumping a turnstile or hotwiring an elevator to save Peter from poisoning at Kent's... this was serious and now he was caught. Did Peter even know he was here? Did anyone?
The voices kept talking, their accent strange yet not unfamiliar. He could almost pick up a word here or there as they spoke but it wasn't a language he was fluent at though he knew a little.
"... American... agent? No... not agent I think... too skinny... puny civilian. FBI let civilians in here?... think not... collateral... FBI will talk with hostage... Agent calling to talk." The voice was deep. Almost gutteral in it's tone as the Russian spoke. Russian... the man was from the Romanian section if he had to guess. He knew enough of the accents from his travels but his head still throbbed and so he tried not to think too hard letting what little bit of consciousness fade again.
Neal was out of it, dreaming strange things, mostly memories of a visit long ago to somewhere in the Ukraine. Alex had been with him at the time. The memory was vague, something about a castle when he felt his body started to wake up again and he could feel someone shaking him, a hand slapping at his face hard. Neal's head whipped hard to one side, hanging loosely between his shoulders. His eyes fluttered open slowly, blurry forms looking down at him as he gazed into cold emerald green eyes. He made to back away but several hands held him in place, his arms bound securely behind him, ankles also bound which gave me little leverage to scoot away. He gave a muffled reply to the blurry figure talking to him, something stuffed in his mouth. He felt it removed, the figure speaking to him again before it registered what they were saying.
"I'm not a mongrel..." Neal growled, suddenly throwing something back at the man in the original language. The man's face was first surprised then red with anger, his huge hands coming up to hit Neal when someone spoke up.
"Don't hurt him Iosif... you're the one who called him a name thinking he didn't know what you were saying. How many times have I told you NOT to underestimate these American's. Go check on the fighting. I hear someone wishes to speak with me."
The man's voice was rough but reminded him of Sean Connery from "Hunt for Red October." The man was older maybe just a slight bit more than Peter but he had a glint in his ice blue eyes that showed courage if not tenacity. He recognized the man immediately as his mind went back to the case files he'd read with Peter. This was Alexandre Sergislev, the mobster himself! Neal gulped a bit but put on the bravest front he could. He knew how these Russian mobsters operated from his little experience with them and information Mozz had told him.
"So you speak Russian? I'm surprised. You don't look like FBI and many of them don't speak my mother tongue. It is a local dialect. You must have visited my area to have learned it." The man was pacing before Neal, his eyes glancing at the young man sizing him up like a tiger about to charge an antelope. Neal kept his face firm and free of fear.
"I've been to many places in my travels and no I'm not FBI." Neal spoke firmly, quietly the man nodding with something like respect. They were doing a dance of sorts to see who would bow down first and so long as Neal stayed firm with his glance and voice, he was probably going to live. The man who tried to hit him before came back in and whispered something to the man.
"Ah... your FBI friends want to negotiate for you. The sheep that left the flock although being not FBI you are the black sheep?" He laughed a hearty but scary laugh, Neal nodding ever so slightly as he smiled but didn't join in the laughter.
"Watch him but do not hurt him... yet." Sergislev left as he was handed a phone and started to talk quietly. Neal tried to listen in to what was said but could only catch a word or two with the man's thick accent. After a moment the mobster handed the cell back to the huge henchman and smiled back at Neal.
"They say they want you back and will give me talks about the crimes I have supposedly committed if they can get you back. Are you really so valuable?" Sergislev drew closer, his long fingers wrapping around Neal's chin tightly and moving his head up to glance closer.
"You shutter your expression from me. You hide things very well and know my language. I suspect you are mobster like me or have worked with such men. That makes you a criminal or a spy. Which is it?"