(Chapter 1)

Neal glanced down at the now buzzing phone in his hand. He had a new text, the young man pushing a button on the cell so he could read it.

Peter: Neal. Come by the house. Need to talk.

Neal stared at the message wondering what Peter would need to chat with him about on a Saturday. He dialed a number, pushing the phone up to his ear.

"This is Peter Burke. Leave a Message."

Neal sighed, pushing the phone back into his pocket as he walked up to the curb and held his hand up for a cab.

()()()

Neal arrived at the Burkes' home a few minutes later, walking up the few steps, hand up to knock when he paused. He looked down and saw the knob of the door knob hanging just enough off to say someone had pried the door open. He cringed at the thought that something may have happened to his friends, pushing the door open quietly with his foot as he peered inside the quiet home.

The consultant looked around the empty house as he took a quick glance, closing the door behind him. Nothing was out of place but it was too quiet. Maybe they weren't here (he hoped) but someone had broken in regardless. Neal walked through the main floor then into the kitchen and basement but nothing. He heard a soft creak from upstairs and made his way back towards the stairs.

Neal reached the top of the stairs having made little noise. He knew the Burkes' home well enough that only one stair would have given him away and he avoided it deftly. He peered into the guest room and found nothing, the bathroom looked empty but Peter and Elizabeth's bedroom door was slightly ajar. He hoped he wasn't breaking in on anything but considering the front door, he was certain this was just a burglary or possibly something else. He probably should have called for backup but till he knew what was going on, he was going to deal with it on his own.

He opened the door quietly and found the bedroom empty. Neal glanced around with a sigh thinking whoever had been here must be gone but why break in and then not take anything? What was the purpose? He made sure the room was clear as he turned and started out. He had barely made it out to the hall when someone clocked him across the back of the skull. Neal fell to the floor with a loud thud, his vision blurring in and out of focus as he lay there stunned.

"Stupid Con... fell right into the trap. You should have checked the closet. Guess you're not as smart as your keeper thinks." The voice wasn't familiar as he felt rough hands pull him up and drag him towards the bathroom. He was leaned against the tub, shower curtain pulled aside noisily. The masked man pulled out a roll of duct tape, taping Neal's arms behind him tightly, then working on his legs and ankles. Once that was done, the man placed him in the tub, head under the faucet. His vision blurred in and out as he moved ever so slightly but was still too stunned to react. The man was smiling.

"Open wide..." The man forced his mouth open and stuffed some of El's clean washcloths into it before pulling a large piece of duct tape over Neal's lips. The con was waking up a bit more now, struggling despite the blow to his head but the man wasn't done with him. He saw a syringe in the man's hands, eyes widening as he looked up at it, head pushed aside. The needle was pushed into his neck, Neal giving a muffled groan as he felt the drug injected into his system. Almost immediately he felt his body start to relax, his heart and breathing slow. He swallowed but that was about the extent of his movement as he realized his whole body was paralyzed but he was still awake. The man smiled down at him, hand on the faucet handle above his face.

"This drug will keep you awake and able to feel but unable to move. I wonder if your friend will come back before you drown although at this point it won't take much to drown you if you can't move." The man chuckled, turning the faucet on to a fast trickle. The cold water hit Neal's face and was dripping into his nose but he couldn't move or struggle with the drug holding him captive in his own body.

No! Please... let me go!

Neal was screaming in his head but it was hard to think as he felt the water trickling into his nostrils, his only means of air. He swallowed weakly but there was nothing else he could do as the man left him, closing the shower curtain as he heard footsteps fade into the background.

()()()

"I'll be fine, El. Yes... Yes... Of course. If you want me to. Sure... See you in about two days? Love you." Peter was smiling as he walked up the steps to his house, keys in hand. He wasn't paying attention as he pushed the phone back into his pocket with a sigh. He missed his wife but she was out of town visiting her sister for a few days. She had taken Satchmo with her so he was alone, the agent sighing as he started to push the key at the door and blinked.

Peter finally noticed the damage to his door, the knob hanging loosely as he gently pushed the door open with his foot. He didn't have his gun since it was a day off. He would have to go upstairs to get it if he wanted it but who knows if the person responsible for breaking in was still there. He peered inside and glanced around the interior of his quiet home. Nothing looked out of place. He wondered if the neighbors had heard anything but when he turned he could see their car wasn't parked in the usual spot. Peter pulled his cell out again and dialed a number.

"Jones..."

Peter was glad the agent had picked up as he spoke quietly. So far the main floor was clear and the backdoor hadn't been messed with.

"Jones... It's Burke. I need you to come over. Someone broke in. I'm about to call the cops." Peter heard the agent give a sharp intake of breath on the other end.

"Someone broke in? Was Elizabeth home?" Jones sounded concerned as Peter shook his head at the phone and started upstairs.

"No... she's out visiting her sister for a few days with Satchmo. I'm here alone but the door was broken when I got home. I'm about to head upstairs but come quickly. I'm going to call the cops." Peter was worried if not angry as he wondered who would have broken in and why. The music box incident was mostly behind them while they figured out some other aspects of the case. He couldn't think why anyone would come in and not steal anything unless it had to do with a case. He was thinking El's visit to her sister's couldn't have come at a better time.

"Ok boss. Be right there. Be careful!"

Peter nodded as he hung up and started to call the cops. He had barely dialed when he heard the sound. He pushed the phone back into his pocket and headed for the bathroom, the sound of water obvious. He went into the bedroom first and grabbed up his gun from the drawer before going back to the bathroom. Peter quietly walked over to the door and pushed it open, gun at the ready.

The bathroom was empty but the curtain was partially open, the sound of water still evident. Peter held his gun ahead of him as he pulled the curtain aside and gasped. He immediately place the gun on the edge of the tub and pulled the pale figure within out of the shallow water.

"Neal? Oh God... Neal wake up!" He was shaking the pale figure, pulling the tape from the consultant's mouth and removing the water soaked rags. More water poured from grayish blue lips, dull blue eyes staring blankly at him.

"Neal! Neal wake up!" He pulled the man from the tub and lay him on the bathroom floor, cutting his bonds loose and starting CPR when he didn't feel a pulse. The young man felt cool to the touch.

"Don't do this, Neal. Breath..." He was gently pushing on his chest to start the young man's heart again before clearing water from his mouth and breathing for him. It took a few minutes before he got a pulse and then another before he could sense breath, water pouring from Neal's lips in a sluggish manner. Peter hugged the young man to him, Neal's arm hung across his back, hand weakly gripping at his shirt. Peter felt the fingers grasping and ungrasping in a rhythmic pattern he finally recognized as code.

D R U G G E D

C A N T M O V E

Peter pushed the younger man away gently, leaning him against the wall as he gazed into those blank, blue eyes. The hand had let go, now hanging limply at the younger man's side.

"Who did this, Neal? Tell me?" Peter pulled Neal's hand back to his hoping for another coded answer. He felt a weak squeeze then a tighter one as those blue eyes widened ever so much.

"Neal? Neal what's wrong?" Peter was gently shaking his friend when he felt a gun on the back of his neck.

"You should have left him to die, Fed. He'll be the death of you." The voice was cold but not unfamiliar.

"Saunders. I thought you had a life sentence, last I heard." Peter said it with a mild bit of sarcasm but winced as the gun was pressed harder against his neck, the sound of it being cocked.

"Always relaxed and calm. I remember you trying to talk me down although it didn't help your colleague at the time. I hear he had a wife and kid. Too bad for them." The man's voice was mocking, smug if anything making Peter want to turn and beat the man. His only consolation was that Jones would be here soon. He wished now he had finished calling the cops.

"No words? Hmmm... well your partner here is stuck watching you die. He can't move or help. Isn't that right?" He just pressed the gun harder against Peter's skull as he spoke, the agent uncertain what was going to happen.

"Carry him... we're going to the basement. We need some privacy for this event." Saunders' kept the gun on Peter, taking his gun from the tub edge and pocketing it as Peter picked up Neal and carried him as much as he could down the stairs, across the den and into the kitchen. He managed to open up the basement door and carefully carried the paralyzed consultant at gun point down stairs to the basement floor and lay him down, kneeling beside him.

"Perfect! Stay in that position, Agent Burke. He can see you die and it's like some kind of strange holiday tableau. The holy agent tending to the not so holy ex-con and consultant. Such a touching scene." Saunders' voice was grating on him now, the smug tone annoying but Peter had to hold back enough in hopes the man would delay killing either one of them.

"Talk to me, Dammit!" Saunder's voice was frantic suddenly as Peter turned his head to look at the man. The criminal was a tall wiry man wearing a dark turtle neck, ratty jeans and a black ski mask. He was waving the gun dangerously, a hint of reddish hair under the mask a fiery red from what he could remember. Peter swallowed hard, standing up as he turned and stared into wild green eyes. The man was insane but that gave him now right to do what he he was doing.

"I'll talk. I'll tell you that if you kill me they're going to put you away for so long you will never see the light of day ever again. That is what you have to look forward to, Saunders." Peter knew he was just adding fuel to the fire but he was a dead man regardless knowing Saunders' M.O. and if he could distract him from Neal, that would be something. He just wished he had been able to see Elizabeth one last time.

"You stupid smug bastard!" Saunders' voice was acid as he held up the gun and pointed it right at Peter. The man pulled the trigger back...

()()()

Neal had tried to warn Peter about the figure standing behind him but he could hardly move as it was with only the limited movement in his hand. He squeezed as hard as he could to make the agent understand but Peter had thought he was hurting and didn't turn. Now the agent was held at gunpoint and both were prisoners of a madman.

Saunders, their captor, was familiar with Peter from a past case, making the agent carry him downstairs to the basement where he did what he could to push the agent's buttons. Neal saw the look on his friend's face, Peter trying not to react but finally rising and turning to face the man his brown eyes fiery with anger.

Neal heard the exchange and knew from the look on Saunders' face he was going to kill Peter. Neal had to do something but what could he do when he couldn't move but a few fingers. The consultant felt his fingers move as he tried to grasp the cuff of his friend's pant leg. He just had to pull...

There was a soft pop as Neal pulled hard on his friend's leg feeling Peter turn aside. The agent had moved some but it hadn't been enough as he saw the bullet hit Peter on the side of the head and ricochet off, blood splattering as he spun around in response only to collapse limply beside Neal. The agent didn't move, his eyes closed as he lay on the floor of the basement, a pool of blood forming around him as it dripped from the wound in his head. Neal made a strangling noise as he tried to speak but couldn't, his one hand weakly grasping at his friend.

Peter? Peter wake up! Peter!

He was yelling in his head unable to speak, only a weird gurgling sound escaping his lips. Someone stood over him, the gun pointed at his skull suddenly as Saunders looked down at Neal.

"You couldn't save him and he couldn't save you." The man started to laugh, a cold dark laugh as he pulled the trigger back. He had barely cocked the gun when Neal noticed the dark stain forming on the man's chest. Had there been a gun shot? He was in shock still from seeing Peter shot and the man's threat. Saunders' smug face relaxed and he fell across the consultant heavily.

"Caffrey? Burke?"

Neal moved his eyes after a moment and saw a blurry figure moving towards him. They were holding something shiny and dark in their hands. Their voice seemed to be fading as consciousness began to leave the young man.

"Neal? Hey... Neal... Oh my God... Peter? Peter?"

Jones' voice faded into the darkness as Neal passed out.

oOoOoOo

Author's Note: Finally able to post a new story. I should finish it but more slowly now that I'm doing NaNoWriMo. I reached over 12k in words as of Sunday, Nov 7th. Happy Happy... Joy Joy! :D I also went to a NaNoWriMo "I survived the first week" get together. But back to Fan Fics for now while I work on my story. Enjoy and hopefully I can write the next chapter soon. I won't leave you hanging.