The Coldest Heart
He felt like he had lost something, a part of him was missing. The feeling reminded Neal Caffrey of the way he had been after Kate's death. It hadn't been that long, but the pain had subsided. Now, it seemed to rise within him like a virus. Cassie was back in confinement for another year. He could visit her for an hour once a month. That wasn't enough for him. He felt like he needed to make up for all the time he had been gone. The teen needed him and he had never been there for her.
The sun had risen, but still the consultant did not get out of bed. Peter would probably be wondering where he was by now. His phone rang, a loud noise that echoed in his strangely empty room. He had never thought about how lifeless his room was. The lack of human life other than himself was now a dreadful omen to him. Maybe he was destined to be alone. Forever.
Neal drifted in and out of sleep. His phone rang more than a few times, but soon it just blended into the deafening silence surrounding him. A part of his daily routine that would never be complete. Finally, the incessant sound stopped completely. Vaguely, the consultant thought how strange it was. Peter was never one to give up. But then the thought drifted away from him, lost in the empty spaces of his mind. He didn't care. Nothing mattered. Not the trouble he had gone through to get his sister back. Not the fact that he had lost June's painting to the museum. Not the fact that Peter was knocking on his door.
It did not even occur to Neal what was happening until there was an FBI agent standing beside his bed. His blue eyes looked up into Peter's eyes. He was so dazed that at first he thought that he was hallucinating or dreaming. Angrily, he slung a pillow at what he believed to be an apparition brought on by his imagination.
"Go away," he growled, stuffing his head into the remaining pillow.
"No," was Peter's gruff reply.
When Neal did not answer, the agent bent down and gripped his hands under the mattress. The next thing Neal knew was that he was face down on the floor, a piercing headache attacking his brain and his mattress was in a destructive heap beside him. Rolling over, the half-naked consultant stared up at his partner with blood shot eyes.
"What the hell, Peter?"
A pile of clothes hit him square in the face. Sitting up, Neal fixed his gaze on the huffy agent.
"Get dressed, you can't mope around here forever, we've got work to do," Peter told him.
Neal heaved a loud sigh and stood up. He waited a full minute before watching Peter exit the room, allowing him to pull on his suit. Once he was done, he stared down at the mess they had created. He shook his head, stepping out into the hallway. Peter was waiting for him with a smug look on his face.
"About time, sleeping beauty," he said with a chuckle.
The consultant raised an eyebrow, somewhat intrigued by his partner's upbeat attitude. Even on a good day, this was strange for Peter. As they head outside, Neal asked, "What's got you on a sugar high?"
Peter Burke smiled handing a folder full of papers to his friend. They were at the car now and Neal looked at his partner with a look of skepticism on his face. Peter shrugged, opening the car door.
"Let's just say, you owe me one,"
Cassandra Caffrey was rather happy to see her brother. For a teen who had just received an extra year to her sentence, she seemed to be handling herself nicely. Neal smiled at her when she was brought into the meeting room. He wanted to hug her, but unfortunately he wasn't allowed. At first, the girl just kept smiling at him. It made him feel a little uncomfortable. As if she knew something he didn't. Except, he knew that it was the other way around.
Her hair was neatly brushed again. A better look than the one she had had while lying in the hospital bed two week before. Most of the bruises had faded, the only remaining mark of her kidnapping being the scars that marred her hands. Finally, Neal broke the silence.
"You look," he stumbled, "Happy,"
The teen's eyebrows knitted in confusion. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Neal tried to retrieve his thoughts, remember what he was supposed to say to her. Peter and he had rehearsed this. They could not let anything slip. It would ruin everything they had set into motion.
"Well, you know, you just…ummm, you know…."
The man rambled on, his sister staring at him in confusion. She smiled at him and shook her head.
"Just got out of the hospital and thrown back into jail?" she finished for him.
Neal grimaced, "Yeah, that."
Cassie dropped her gaze to her hands, feeling a little uncomfortable herself. Since she had gotten back, she had been forced to create a facade. There were inmates inside this place that would eat her alive, if they guessed that she was a coward. Tough criminals ran this place, even though it was a minimum security. That just said they weren't a danger to getting out. Inside the jail, however, they were a definite threat. There was only so much protection that being Neal Caffrey's sister could bring her.
There had only been one woman that helped her. The woman had held her brother in total awe, so much that she had protected Cas. No one could touch Cassie as long as this woman was around. There was only one little problem now that Cassie was back. Her protector had been released. Now it was up to the teen to convince the other inmates that she could protect herself. She looked up, a look of courage in her eyes. A look that made Neal see the adult his sister really was and not the child-like pretense she had created years ago.
"Let's just say I've got a broader outlook for my future," she replied, cryptically.
Neal had no idea what she meant and she was glad. The last thing she needed was her brother interfering. If she got her butt kicked in jail, then that was her problem. Not his. There was a cough behind them. Cassie turned to see the guard pointing at his wrist. He wasn't wearing a watch, but it was obvious what he meant. Visitation was over. Cassie's face fell and she stood up, slowly.
"It was good to see you, Neal. Don't forget to come back next month," she said.
This was it; this was where he had to say his line. If he missed this, then all was lost. Neal stood up too, watching his sister calmly. "There won't be a next month,"
Confusion settled into the girl's face. Neal thought he even saw a flash of fear appear in her eyes. There were thousand of things that his line could mean. Not a single one of them would she get to find out as the guard led her away, away from her brother once again.
Peter was sitting in the driver's seat of his car, waiting. As soon as he saw Neal walking out of the detention center, he stepped out. He waited until the consultant was only a few feet from him before speaking. "Did you say it?" he asked.
Neal nodded, "Exactly like you told me to,"
A smile broke out on both their faces as Neal settled onto Peter's hood. He could not hold back his giddiness. He chuckled, shaking his head at what they were all about to do. He turned to look at Peter only to find the agent glaring at him. "What?"
"Get off the car,"
The young man rolled his eyes, but slid off the car hood anyway. Peter was stock still as he leaned against the car. As serious as he was trying to look he could not help, but smile. He looked over at Neal who was fiddling with a large gray object in his hands. Playfully, he popped the younger man's hands.
"Stop playing with that," he hissed.
Neal stopped, his only thought that Peter was ruining all the fun in this. The silence stretched on for a little longer. Boredom started to sink and he started fiddling with the object again. Peter cleared his throat and the consultant sighed. He let his hands fall to his sides, turning his head to look at Peter.
"How long before she gets the news?"
The agent lifted his arm, pulling his sleeve down to look at his watch. He looked up, his eyes dancing as he smiled. "Right about now,"
The bed was not at all comfortable. Not that Cassie could really care about how the bed felt. Her brother's words in the meeting room were still ringing in her ears. What did he mean? Neal was always cryptic; it was just the way they worked. But this, this was worse. The message almost seemed like a good-bye, like she would never see him again.
The youth stared at the only sketch in the room with a faraway look in her eyes. Her brother had abandoned her a few times already. It almost seemed like she should be used to it by now. Inside, she knew that it still hurt. There had never been anyone else that she needed more. Neal had taught her how to paint. He had created a splint for her when her wrist had broken and she refused to go to the hospital. He had been the only one who cared enough to throw his life away, just to save her. Neal meant everything to her. But apparently, it seemed she meant nothing to him after all.
Rest time was the worse, Cassie thought. When she was locked inside her cell, once during the afternoon and once again at night. The other activities through the day were actually interesting, even the working part. However, being in the cell reminded her that she was a prisoner. That this was her cage. She was a bird with clipped wings, unable to fly for another year.
None of the inmates were allowed to talk during rest time. Usually anyone who did was pretty quiet about it. Thus when loud voices starting muttering down the hallway, interest sparked inside the girl's brain. Sitting up, Cassie waited, trying to make out what the voices were saying.
What's going on? Is this a drill?
Two guards stopped outside of the cell followed by a man not dressed in a uniform. Cassie looked at them in bewilderment. Only one of the guards walked down the hallway during rest time. And they definitely did not have the determined look that these guys had. The plain clothes man perplexed her even more. Inmates could only talk to non-guards in the meeting rooms. One of the guards started to unlock the door while the other glared at the girl, making sure she stayed put. The teen did not need an further warning; she wanted nothing to do with this strange man. Not after all that had happened.
Opening the door, the guard let the plain clothes step forward. Surprisingly, the man seemed nice and almost instantly he put Cassie at ease about the events taking place. He looked pretty young, barely a few years older than her, his tanned face clear of any scars or wrinkles. His eyes were a kindly brown and his hair a trimmed black that probably looked better as a mess than brushed neatly. The man flashed a shining grin at the young teen.
"Hello, Cassandra. I'm Ryan Kowalski, your probation officer,"
The nineteen year old stared at the man, unblinking. "It's Cassie," was the only thing she could bring herself to say.
The man nodded, smiling at her still. He bent over and laid a pair of civilian clothes down on the bed. Without another word, he turned to walk out of the cell. Before he closed the door he looked back at her.
"Get dressed, you're going home,"
Ten minutes later, Cassie exited the detention center, Officer Kowalski dead on her heels. She kept walking, not sure where the man was leading her. That was until she caught sight of the black car parked right in front of the gate. Leaning up against the hood, their smiles too wide to miss were Neal and Peter.
The teen restrained herself, calmly keeping her pace even until she reached them. Kowalski came up behind her, saying nothing as she hugged her brother tightly muttering something about him being a jerk for toying with her. When the moment was over, she looked up to see Peter staring at her with is fatherly gaze. She frowned looking from him to Officer Kowalski at his side.
"Uh-oh. Why do I get the feeling that all this comes with a catch?" she asked.
Peter replied, "Because it does,"
Kowalski was the next to speak. "You are on probation for an entire year starting today. You will stay with your brother during this time,"
Peter took over from there making the girl almost sure that this had been rehearsed before hand.
"You must check in with me every morning and Officer Kowalski every two weeks. You will not be allowed in any museums or any place that displays art without an escort. You must be in June's house between the hours of ten at night to seven in the morning and you cannot leave the two-mile radius you now share with Neal," the agent stopped to take a breath and looked at the two men standing near him. "Am I missing anything?"
Neal piped up about this time, holding up the gray object he had been fiddling with.
"And you get a wonderful piece of jewelry as a prize," he said, trying to keep a smile from appearing on his face.
Cassie couldn't help, but laugh as Kowalski fitted the tracking anklet onto her ankle. A year under the intense supervision. She did not exactly know which was worse. Prison or this new development. But feeling her brother's protective arm around her, she suddenly realized that this was worth it. At least now there was no cage. She was free to roam, two-miles at least. And that was so much better than only three feet.
His business at the detention center done for now, Officer Kowalski said good-bye and disappeared into his car. Neal steered his sister, who was still in shock towards the car.
"Come on, Cas, let's go home,"
The girl repeated the word softly, liking how it sounded coming from her mouth.
Author's Note: That's it you guys. I can't believe it's over. I had such a great time writing this. I'm so glad that people enjoyed it.
I already have a few one-shots and some more fanfics planned, but I'm still taking requests. So if you've got an idea for me, don't be afraid to tell me. I've only got so much that I can do with my own imagination. And it's not much when I don't know what everyone else wants.
Thanks again for all the reviews. And I hope you enjoyed it.
(And yes to those who have already read this chapter, I messed up something and deleted it by accident. Thus being forced to repost. Sorry and thank you for the wonderful reviews you left me.)