Stay With Me
Tag to White Collar 2x08: "Company Man"
Summary: Neal just wants Peter to stay with him.
Disclaimer: I don't own it. I'm just borrowing them for a short time.
This is not beta'd so any and all mistakes are mine.
No, no no! Neal fought blind panic as he started running, leaving a shocked looking Jessica standing on the sidewalk alone. This couldn't be happening. Peter's earlier concerned reproof echoed in his mind: See that's what worries me. I'm not sure if she wants revenge or justice. He'd brushed off the agent's concern, admitting he didn't blame her for wanting revenge on the bastard who'd killed the man she loved. Neal wanted revenge himself on the man who killed Kate. In that way, he and Jessica were very much alike. He understood her. And he should have known she would do something like this.
Neal raced into the Novice company lobby, straight to the front desk. "Hey! I need to get to the top floor."
The security guard looked at him like he was crazy. "Nobody gets to the top floor."
Intellectually Neal had known the guard probably wasn't going to let him pass. It didn't make the denial any easier to hear. Every instinct was screaming at him that Peter was in trouble. "This is an emergency, sir."
"Oh, what's the emergency?"
The disregard sent Neal's temper flaring, but he couldn't waste any time. "Please!" Neal cried, not bothering to cover his desperation.
"All right," the guard said, moving towards the phone, "I got to check with Mr. Kent and then my supervisor."
"Yes, yes, check with Kent," Neal immediately seconded, running past the desk and around the corner. Without slowing he leapt over the trestle and bee-lined towards to elevators. Behind him the guard was shouting, ordering him to stop. There! An open elevator.
"Call 911!" Neal yelled back over his shoulder as he darted inside.
The guard came running into the hallway, shouting: "Get back here! I will call the police!"
"Good," Neal snapped back, smashing the button to close the elevator doors, "Call the paramedics!"
Fists slammed on the elevator doors just as they slid closed. Neal quickly examined the panel, finding the screw he needed to remove. His heart pounding in rising fear, he scrambled to find something to undo the screw. His tie clip!
From beyond the elevator a stern, angry voice ordered; "You need to exit the elevator now, sir."
The screw was loose! Neal yanked it out, dropping it on the ground. "Will you send me up to Kent's office?" He asked, already knowing the answer.
"Then I can't."
Neal could care less how pissed off the man sounded. Peter's life was at stake here and nothing was going to stop him from reaching the older man in time. Neal vaguely registered the guard demanding back up as he pulled the panel out. Hot wiring an access panel had never been so hard. His hands were shaking so much he almost didn't get the wire in the right place.
The keypad blinked green reading "access granted". Neal pushed the panel back into place and punched the button for the 44th floor.
He exhaled sharply in relief as he felt the elevator jerk and begin moving upwards. Yes!
The floors seemed to creep by and Neal wished the elevator would go faster. Without being able to move, except shifting his feet in agitation, all he could do was think. Peter hadn't told him that he had the music box and had known Diana had it. He knew and didn't tell him! Neal wanted to be angry, should be angry. But all he could feel was terror. Whatever anger and hurt he felt initially at Mozzie's revelation on the phone, it did not compare to the utter terror of realizing Peter had most likely been poisoned with Kent. The agent was undercover, and was giving Kent a phony audit clearing the company. At the same time he would set the bait by bringing up Jessica and her involvement with Hayes. Since Peter was offering the man great news at the end of the day, there was no doubt in Neal's mind Kent would offer a celebratory drink of his Armagnac. How could the agent refuse? Peter himself said that Kent was kissing his butt!
Ding! Finally! Neal raced out of the elevator and down the hall towards Kent's office.
"Peter!" He shouted, fervently hoping to hear his friend answer. He raced up to the open office door and skidded into the room. Peter lay crumbled on the floor. No! Neal mentally screamed as he dropped to his knees, fingers blindly seeking a pulse. No, Peter, you can't leave me! Please Peter!
There! It was thready and faint, but Peter's heart was still beating! Thank God! Sweat beaded Peter's unnaturally pale face and his eyes were still closed, but now Neal could see his chest rising and falling slowly. Neal spared a glance at the couch where Kent was slumped, looking just as awful as Peter.
He had to get Peter out of here! Neal pulled on one of the agent's arms, lifting him enough so Neal could get his other hand underneath Peter's bicep. He pushed up, sliding his arms underneath Peter's, tugging the older man tight to his chest as his scrambled to his feet.
Neal grunted, not fully prepared for his partner's sheer weight. Peter was bigger then him in height and most likely matched him in muscle mass. The combination however meant Neal was backing out Kent's office, barely keeping the older man up, Peter's long legs dragging across the floor.
Gritting his teeth, Neal chanted to himself: It'll be okay. It'll be okay. Get to the elevators. Paramedics are on the way. It'll be okay.
A low groan from his burden startled the young con man, and he almost dropped the older man.
"Peter!" Neal exclaimed, relief momentarily filling him. He glanced down. Peter's head rocked to the side, bumping against Neal's arm. The fear surged. He could literally feel his partner's heartbeat slowing down.
Jessica's haunted voice flooded his mind, describing the effects of the poison that had killed her lover, Joseph Hayes.
This chemical…it drops the heart rate. Spikes the blood pressure. You can't see. And a few minutes later you can't feel. You're dead.
No! Neal's conscious rallied in defiance. He wasn't going to lose Peter. The poison couldn't have him!
"It'll be okay," Neal declared, trying to sound confident. "It's gonna be okay."
With a surge of strength, Neal dragged Peter the rest of the way to the elevators.
"Its gonna be okay," Neal repeated, his certainty slipping as he lowered Peter against the wall. He hastily slapped the elevator button a few times and then knelt. Without really thinking, Neal grabbed Peter's torso, preventing him from slipping down the wall.
"All right? Hang in there." It was a plea. A plea to the one man Neal had come to depend on to be his rock, his guide. Damn it, Peter was so pale! And his breathing was getting worse by the second. Neal's stomach twisted into an even tighter knot as Peter's glassy eyes skimmed over him and to the floor.
"Get Kent." The order was low, breathless, and completely unexpected. Neal gaped as Peter's head lolled against the wall.
"No!" Neal answered sharply. "No, Peter. We don't have time."
Are you crazy? Neal wanted to scream. How could Peter be thinking about Kent now? The whir of gears announced that the elevator was on its way. Neal's fingers wrapped around the older man's coat sleeves and he tugged gently.
"Come on. Come on," he muttered. Whether he was talking to the elevator or his now agitated partner, Neal couldn't say. The obstinate agent was now shaking his head, whole body rocking with the motion.
"Can't leave 'im behind," Peter mumbled.
Fury and terror swept through Neal at the man's stupid disregard for his own life. He yanked on Peter's arm, forcing the older man's upper body to turn towards him.
"You are dying, Peter!" Neal shouted, his eyes wide as he uttered the words he had been desperately trying to deny since he found Peter on the office floor.
Something warm and solid grasped his shoulder. Peter's hand. For a moment, Peter's brown eyes were clear as they peered up at him. There was no fear, just calm and determination.
"Neal!" Peter cut in, his gruff voice buoying the younger man in his panic. "Neal. We don't leave anyone behind."
He declared it like it was so simple, like his life was of no consequence. But what made it worse for Neal was the belief in Peter's eyes. The quiet certainty that Neal would listen to him.
Neal glanced back over his shoulder towards Kent's office, and back to Peter. Peter was shaking his head, mumbling about not leaving Kent behind. Once more Peter's eyes were becoming cloudy. Peter was running out of time.
Exhaling sharply, Neal jumped up and ran. Every step away from his wounded partner sent another shaft of fear through him. He shouldn't be listening to Peter now. The man was dying and all he could think about was his job! Anger burned through Neal's veins. Damn that man and his nobleness!
The anger fueled Neal as he grabbed Kent's unconscious form off the couch and dragged him back to the elevator. He wasn't paying attention to the CEO at all. Neal's blue eyes were focused on the slumped form by the opening elevator door.
Peter's eyes were closed again, his chest rising and falling like a slowing wind up toy.
Quickly, Neal dropped Kent inside the elevator, not caring how the man fell. He'd only gone back for him because Peter told him to. He really didn't care if Kent lived or not. Peter mattered more.
Grabbing Peter underneath the arms once more, Neal pulled him inside the elevator. He smacked the button for the lobby as he went, the doors closing just as he hauled Peter inside. Neal sank back against the elevator wall, hands twisted in Peter's suit jacket.
"I got Kent," he gasped out. He shifted so that the bigger man was leaning back against the wall beside him. "I got him, Peter."
The older man's eyes fluttered, but didn't open. Neal wanted to howl in denial.
"Peter!" Neal cried, gripping the older man's bicep so hard he was probably leaving bruises. "Peter, no! Stay with me. Stay with me!"
Neal didn't care that he sounded like a child right then. He just wanted Peter to wake up and tell him everything would be okay. He wanted Peter to make a joke or something—anything! Anything but be completely still. Because there was nothing Neal could do now, except pray the paramedics were in the lobby waiting.
"Stay with me," Neal practically sobbed, tugging on Peter's sleeve. "Don't leave! You said we don't leave anybody behind!"
The older man's head rocked to the side, limp as a rag doll. Glassy brown peered at him for a moment before they were hidden away once more. But it was enough. Peter could hear him. Peter was fighting to stay.
Suddenly there was a flurry of activity, as paramedics seemed to swarm in out of nowhere. Peter and Kent were loaded on to gunneries swiftly.
Neal trailed behind, his hand keeping a tight grip on Peter's pant leg as the paramedics pushed the poisoned man through the lobby.
"Heart stopped. I need the needle," one paramedic said suddenly. Peter's gunnery came to a halt as the other medic fished through his back.
Neal felt like his own heart had stopped. No, no, no, no!
"Come on," Neal mouthed, his voice unable to work as the medic plunged the needle into Peter's chest.
Seconds ticked by.
"Clear! He's back with us," the medic declared after checking for a pulse. "Let's get him out of here. Carson has the antidote waiting."
The young consultant inhaled sharply in relief. Peter was okay. He was going to be okay. The gunnery pulled away and Neal let it go, hands coming up to rub his face and push back his hair.
Peter was going to be okay. He wasn't leaving Neal behind. It was gonna be okay.
Stay with me.
So, what do you think?