(Chapter 1)

"Mr. Lansing, you're under arrest."

Peter Burke moved to cuff the man, a short stocky balding man in a cheap suit. His dirty brown eyes glared up at the agent with disrespect as Jones kept his gun on the man and Diana flanked them. Peter was in middle of his recitation of rights when Erik Lansing suddenly threw one fist up and hit Burke right across the left side of his face. There was an obvious sound of the little guy's fist hitting Peter's face but Diana was on it immediately, throwing the stocky man to the ground and pulling his arms back as she completed the cuff. Peter was reeling a bit but he recovered, spitting out a small bit of blood but he held up a hand with a grim smiled on his face.

"Take him out of here!"

He barked at the man more than his team, wiping at the blood on his lips and taking a proffered tissue from Neal who looked at his partner worriedly.

"You ok, Peter?"

He nodded at the consultant, wincing some.

"I'm fine. Didn't see that coming. He was pretty calm for someone getting put away for a long time. I should have expected it but he'd been so quiet."

Neal nodded looking a bit surprised himself. Erik Lansing had been insider trading for some time now and a whistle blower had come to them to expose the CFO. It had taken quite a bit of work with Neal posing as an insider interested in stock tips to catch the man. The case had taken no more than month to complete and now it was over. For once they had very little excitement until Lansing's little punch of frustration at Peter. The agent laughed a bit making his partner look at him funny.

"Sorry. Just find it ironic that I was the one who got hit. He didn't seem mad to find you were the one who tricked him."

Peter was smiling good humoredly as the two men left Lansing's office and followed the rest of the white collar team down to the first floor lobby. Neal kept watching him worriedly but the agent just shrugged him off.

"I'm fine, Neal. Trust me. I've been hit worse than this in the past. Just wish I'd been a bit more ready. He really did pack a wallop for a little guy."

Neal grinned slightly at the comment but continued to look worried, watching him till they were in the Taurus and headed back to the office.

Hughes was excited to hear the case had been finished with so little fuss but was worried about what Diana and Jones had told him about Lansing punching Peter in the face. Peter shrugged it off as best he could though he wasn't going to leave it off his report.

"It was one punch. He has enough against him without adding this but if it will help put him away, add it. I'm fine, Reese."

Hughes looked as skeptical as the rest of them but he nodded.

"Fine but I want you to get that looked at ASAP. I don't need one of my best agents hurting on the job. Go home, Burke. Take Neal with you. I'll see you in the morning for your report."

Peter made to disagree but Hughes made that look no one could argue with so he nodded and walked back out of the office with Neal looking up at him. Jones and Diana were still in holding with Lansing so he didn't get a chance to say good-bye for the day as he walked over to the consultant.

"Hughes gave us the rest of the day off. Figured if I'm not around you should go home too. I do have a bit of a headache. Might take a nap and rest but I feel I should write up my report first."

Peter was serious about writing up the report but Neal poked him, his blue eyes giving him that look only a kid who is about to play hooky would.

"It's 11 am. You have the whole day to rest then do the report if you feel like it. Take advantage of it, Peter. Isn't the game on today?"

Neal's eyes were sparkling with mischief as he said that knowing Peter couldn't resist a good basketball game. His team was in the playoffs...

"Well, when you put it that way... I guess you have some plans of your own?"

Neal looked at him surprised, shaking his head.

"Actually no, I didn't expect we'd be getting off because you were punched by a short stocky insider trader. Sounds like a bad country song."

Peter smirked at his friend as he made a motion for him to get his stuff and go.

()()()

After Peter dropped Neal off at June's, he drove straight home surprising El when she looked up from the dining room table to see him home for lunch.

"Peter? I didn't know you were coming home for lunch. Where's Neal? Did something happen?"

Her first assumption was always something happened and Neal was involved. His fault probably on both accounts but she was only half right today.

"Neal's fine. Hughes gave us the rest of the day off after the case. We arrested Lansing but he didn't go without a fight."

Peter winced again feeling a tingle from where the little guy's fist had connected to his jaw. He still tasted a bit of blood but mostly from where he had bit his cheek and lip from getting hit. Elizabeth blinked at him then moved around to see him up close, gasping slightly.

"Honey, your jaw looks swollen. Did someone punch you?"

She very gently held his chin in her hands, looking at his face with a whispered "awww poor baby" as she let go and led him to the kitchen and got him some ice for the site.

"It's ok, El. It barely... ouch! hurts."

She had gently touched the ice pack to his jaw and he winced again as she helped him take off his jacket and led him upstairs. She put his hand on the ice back to hold the pack in place as she pulled out some comfortable clothes for him.

"Change Peter and rest. I'll make you something soft to eat. How about some chicken noodle soup?"

He nodded, leaning down to kiss her before she left him alone. Peter placed the ice pack on the nightstand as he slipped out of his suit and pulled on a comfy pair of sweats and a tee, hanging his pants and shirt along the edge of the bed neatly. He picked up the ice pack as he sat on the bed and yawned, his head hurting as he leaned back on the pillow and without thinking about it, fell asleep.

()()()

Peter woke up some hours later, three to be exact to find El quietly shuffling around him as she grabbed up his clothes to hang them up or wash them. She looked a bit sheepish as she moved closer and sat on the edge of the bed beside him.

"Feeling better honey? Still looks pretty swollen. Maybe you should see a doctor about it. You're long over due for a dental appointment."

Peter rolled his eyes a bit at her but nodded with a smile.

"I'm fine, El."

He reached up and pulled her close, hugging and kissing her despite the wince when they touched lips. She clucked her tongue at him.

"See the dentist, Peter or see a regular doctor. I want you well."

She waggled her index finger at him in a mock threatening manner, his hand catching hers and kissing it till she laughed.

"Fine, I'll go in the morning after I write out my report. Too late to make an appointment now."

She shook her head.

"Actually... I called Dr. Alex. He was out but his colleague will see you, Dr. Markson. Your appointment's at noon. I'll stop by the Bureau to go with you a little before. Maybe we can get some lunch?"

Peter nodded smiling at his wife as he kissed her again and sat up, pushing his feet over to the side of the bed to hang over as he yawned (with a wince) and stretched.

"I still have soup and sandwiches if you like. Probably soup. Don't want to work your jaw too much."

Peter stood and pulled an arm around his wife as he kissed the top of her head.

"Maybe one sandwich? I haven't eaten anything since breakfast."

()()()

Peter groaned softly, his jaw hurting more than it had. And hour had passed and he had tried eating a sandwich but something cracked when he did. He tried the soup but the heat of the broth stung like he'd been punched again. One of his teeth hurt like the dickens in both cases so maybe Lansing had gotten a better blow in than he had thought. Peter leaned back on the sofa and sighed inwardly.

"Yes... you can see him around 9 am then? Thank you Dr. Markson for pushing his appointment up. We'll see you then. Honey, he's going to see you earlier. Darn it... I have a meeting with a client at 9:30..."

El was looking worried about not going with him as she pulled out her appointment book.

"I can't cancel this one or move it. They're going out of the country for a week and this was the last minute arrangements before they come back and do the event."

His wife looked torn between work and going with him to the dentist when Peter reached over and pulled her into a hug. He had a fresh ice pack on his face but he looked pained as he spoke with a muffled tone.

"It's ok. If I have to take a cab I will."

She shook her head.

"The doctor will probably give you something for that and you'll be out of it. Take Neal with you. He can make sure you come back home safely till I'm back."

Peter made a face which made him wince when his cheek pulled from the action.

"I said I'm... fine."

He leaned back on the sofa and she just sat beside him and frowned.

"Honey, take Neal. Someone needs to be sure you come back home. Remember the last time you went alone and got that cavity filled? Hughes had to send you back home with Jones to drive you. The cop was convinced you were drunk and disorderly till he knew what had happened. Just let Neal go with you so you're ok. Take a cab if you like but have someone there."

She kissed him gently on the lips and he finally consented.

"Fine, I'll take Neal with me but if he makes one comment about how I look... He's going back to prison."

She laughed at him, gently tweaking his nose.

"You're probably going to be so out of it you won't know if he made fun. Besides, he has your back. He'll keep you from doing anything... well he'll get you home in one piece. I'll call Neal and let him know soon as I let Hughes know you'll be out tomorrow morning. Now rest."

()()()

Early the next morning Neal showed up on their doorstep as El opened up the door and let him in.

"Good morning, Neal. Thank you for doing this. Peter doesn't like the dentist much although Dr. Alex is one of the few he likes but he's out of town. Just be kind, ok? I want him back home in one piece and happy."

She wasn't really warding him off being his usual self but just asking him to be kind. Neal nodded solemnly.

"Morning, El. Not a problem. I'm not much for the dentist myself. Mozzie... well you don't want to ask him what he thinks of dentists. Might as well ask a fox what he thinks of the hound."

He winked as she smiled at him and they turned to hear footsteps coming down the stairs.

"Peter, honey... Neal's here. Be nice."

She hugged and kissed him lightly before walking them both back to the door. Peter was wearing a more casual shirt and slacks as he pulled on his jacket and followed Neal out.

"I'll be home by 2 PM. Take good care of him Neal."

Both men nodded as she waved them off and Neal walked along side Peter to the waiting taxi. He let the agent go in first as he followed and they waved to Elizabeth standing by the door. Peter looked a bit off as he held an ice pack to his jaw and groaned quietly. Neal was surprised to hear the sound of pain from his partner as he turned and put a comforting hand on Peter's shoulder.

"Are you sure you're ok, Peter? We could go to the doctor afterwards..."

Peter held up a hand and shook his head.

"Dentist is bad enough. I just want to get it over with. I think I might have to press charges against Lansing for pain and suffering."

Peter narrowed his eyes at him as Neal smirked back.

"Well at least you haven't lost your sense of humor. Better you than me."

He watched Peter give him an arched brow as he winked back.

When they reached the dentist it was in a very expensive looking building uptown, the agent's face looking a bit worried upon arrival. Neal whistled as they exited and paid the fare.

"Fancy place. Sure you can afford this guy with your insurance, Peter? Dr. Alex must think you're rich to send you to a place like this."

Neal had never met the other dentist but this place looked like they charged cover just to enter. Peter made a face for him to shut up as they entered the sliding glass doors to a very plush lobby with thick beige carpeting with a large silver logo in the middle for the clinic. The walls were a combination of silvery chrome and high gloss eggshell white. Everything looked very clean, sterile and expensive with fancy track lighting and a pretty receptionist at the front. Even the chairs were very upscale and comfortable looking compared to any dentist's office they'd seen before.

Neal moved forward when Peter did but took the lead as the reception smiled with perfectly straight white teeth.

"Welcome to the Markson-Anderson Clinic gentlemen. Do you have an appointment?"

Neal nodded as he pointed at Peter and smiled his best smile.

"Peter Burke. 9 AM."

She nodded with an efficient shake of her head as she opened up a small log book on the desk and scrolled down with one finger till she smiled lightly and looked up.

"Yes, here you are. Peter Burke. Go ahead and sit down and the doctor will see you soon."

She continued to smile at them till Neal and Peter had gone to sit on one of the cushy chairs and her expression quickly returned to a blank slate. Peter leaned back with a happy glance, ice pack still pressed against his cheek.

"I wish Dr. Alex would get some of these in his office. So much nicer to wait in."

Neal smiled seeing his friend feeling so much more comfortable when a 50ish man with salt and peppery hair walked out in a white lab coat. Underneath he wore a nice gray blue turtleneck sweater over black casual slacks with dark gray top-sider loafers. He talked to the receptionist a moment who pointed across the large lobby towards Neal and Peter. The man nodded as he turned, Neal noting he had slate blue eyes and a goatee as he walked towards them with a large friendly smile.

"Mr. Burke?"

The dentist looked between the two men as Neal gently nudged a half sleeping Peter who sat up and nodded.

"I am Dr. Markson. Dr. Alex sent you to me. What seems to be the trouble?"

He sat down beside Peter giving him his whole attention. Neal watched as the two men talked and he tried to get a feel for the man. There was something about the dentist that seemed off but maybe it was just his usual phobia of doctors and all the years of listening to Mozz. He shrugged it off as Peter and the doctor stood and started to walk away.

"I'll be here... waiting."

The doctor didn't turn to acknowledge him but Peter did, his eyes rolling at him a moment before turning back to the doctor as they disappeared around a large chrome pillar deep in conversation. Neal stared around the huge lobby boredly as he tried to think of what to do. He tried to read a magazine or two but most were not his usual cup of tea. Neal even tried flirting with the receptionist but she seemed immune to his charms, her manner colder than it had been before. He did notice something odd when he had walked up to talk to her. There were other names on the customer roster but only two had red X's next to them, Peter's and another name he didn't recognize but thought he should. He went back to the lobby seat and sat, folding customer questionnaires into little origami forms for what seemed a long time till he heard footsteps and watched Peter and the doctor come out again. The agent looked more than a bit out of it.

"The gas should wear off soon, as should the Novocaine. Just take these pills as needed for the pain, no more than 6 in a day."

He handed a plastic amber bottle to the agent who nearly dropped them, Neal catching the item and placing it in his pocket. Peter's head bobbed like a buoy in choppy water as Neal made to take the weight of his friend from the dentist's hold. The agent looked a bit more spacey than anyone should after a dental exam.

"Dr. Markson... what was wrong with him in case his wife asks?"

The dentist turned and studied him a moment as if uncertain whether or not he would actually answer. He finally spoke with an almost callous manner, slate blue eyes shuttered of emotion.

"His top second molar was loosened by the impact to his jaw but I was able to save it. I reset the tooth and he should be fine. He just needs to keep on soft foods for now. His copay took care of this so you can take him home now. I made another appointment for him for a week from today."

The dentist smiled an oddly menacing smile Neal thought or maybe he was channeling Mozzie. He nodded at the man with a certain amount of caution as he placed an arm around Peter who was weaving a bit like he was drunk.

"NEAL!"

The agent was shouting, the receptionist looking up a moment from her call as she spoke into the headset then looked away again with a small grimace. Neal blushed slightly as he helped Peter outside, his phone in one hand as he tried to call for a cab. It was hard with the agent leaning on him rather drunkenly from whatever the dentist had given him. He still felt a weird vibe off the doctor but threw it aside as he hailed a cab that passed by and practically dragged Peter towards it.

"NEAL! We should... we should do something you want to do."

Neal blinked at his friend's sudden generosity as he closed the door and gave the driver Peter's address. He watched the agent shake his head.

"No No No... we should go to... what's that museum you like? The foofy one. Wait... they're all foofy!"

Peter started to giggle uncharacteristically as Neal rolled his eyes and thought of taking advantage of the situation but figured in his current state it would be harder to keep track of Peter not hurting himself or making a scene rather than just taking him home to rest.

"It's ok Peter. I'm taking you home. El should be there soon and then you can rest up till tomorrow."

The agent bobbed his head at him again quite loosely it seemed it might fall off but it didn't. Peter started to curl up in the back of the cab, his hands folded under his head as he mumbled something only partially coherent. Neal sighed, watching his friend slump over and fall into a strangely quiet sleep. He'd been to a dentist before but he wondered what drugs Markson had given Peter to get him to act so crazy. It didn't seem right but he had been in pain. A broken or loose tooth would require more painkillers but it had been a good two hours before Peter had returned. Something didn't add up despite the obvious reasons why it should as Neal pondered his partially unconscious friend.

When they arrived at the Burke residence, Neal had to really shake his friend back to wakefulness. Peter barely moved, his mouth still mumbling something he couldn't quite understand. He paid the cabbie before half carrying his friend out of the vehicle and up the steps.

"Peter... I need the... keys."

The agent was slumped against him as he felt around Peter's jacket for the keys, found them and opened up the door. He carried the drugged up agent inside and closed the door with his foot. The agent was kind of heavy and he considered taking him upstairs but at this rate he'd be lucky to get him to the couch as he half dragged him into the den and placed Peter prone across the couch, removing his shoes.

"Nelson... Angelos..."

Neal paused hearing the name and trying to figure out where he'd heard it before. It was on the tip of his tongue when he got distracted by Satchmo trotting over with a look like he needed to go out. Neal draped a throw over the agent as he took the dog to the door, put on his leash and took him out. He forgot about the name a moment as he locked the door and left the agent alone.

()()()

Elizabeth showed up just before 2 PM with food. She found her husband out cold on the sofa, snoring noisily away, Satchmo on his pillow watching his master and Neal out cold in a nearby chair. She wasn't sure how the young man was sleeping till she called to him and noticed he didn't answer. She touched Neal's shoulder and he jerked awake, pulling something out of his ears.

"Hey El. I don't know how you sleep with Peter sawing wood all night. Are you sure he wouldn't have been happier as a lumberjack?"

El rolled her eyes and smiled at him good humoredly as Neal yawned and stretched, getting up from the chair.

"Are you hungry, Neal? I brought some food. What did the dentist say?"

She was unloading some bags she had as Neal went to help her and started to assist her with setting the table.

"Just that he had a loose tooth but Dr. Markson was able to save it. He gave him some pain pills."

Neal reached into his pocket and handed her the bottle.

"No more than 6 a day he said and he setup another appointment for next week. Peter was pretty out of it so he might not remember much. I had to practically carry him inside."

Elizabeth nodded as she finished setting up the food and Neal clucked his tongue.

"Hmmm... Peter might not be able to eat much of this. Dentist said soft foods for now."

He almost sounded like he felt sorry for Peter, the young man looking over at her snoring husband on the sofa. Satchmo whined a bit, Peter twitching in his sleep as he started to come to. Elizabeth walked over and gently roused her husband.

"Peter... honey. Wake up."

Peter made a few noises but stopped snoring at least as he finally opened up his eyes and gazed up glassy-eyed at his wife.

"El... I had the weirdest dream. I was hit by a little guy who was balding... not Neal's friend but some one else."

Peter sounded like he was still rolling on whatever the dentist had given him, El tempted to let him continue resting but he needed to eat something.

"Then... then I want to see this doctor and the lights... the lights were bright and voices. They were talking about some... thing..."

He started to close his eyes again but she shook him, Peter gazing up at her again.

"Honey, I have food. There's wonton soup and some dumplings. I'll bring it over here ok?"

Peter nodded his head up at her as she helped him sit up and turned to look at Neal. He nodded as he started to make a small plate of food and poured some soup into a bowl then brought it over.

"Look, Neal brought you some dinner."

Peter was looking at them with a look that made her worry. His eyes were still very dilated and he sounded like he wasn't all there.

"I wonder what Dr. Markson gave him. I've never seen him so out of it."

El watched Neal shrug as he placed the food on the coffee table.

"I was wondering the same thing. He was weird for a dentist. Dr. Jekyll creepy."

She turned and blinked at him before helping Peter with his food.

"Go ahead and dig in, Neal. I'm going to help Peter eat. I'm guessing you both haven't eaten a thing since breakfast."

Neal nodded as he went back and made his own plate of food and one for El that he brought over as he sat in a nearby chair. She thanked him as she tried to keep Peter awake and feed him and thought about what Neal had said. He sounded a lot like Mozzie but she knew he wasn't keen on doctors any more than her husband was on the dentist.

()()()

When Neal finally took a cab home around 5 PM, Peter was starting to sound a bit more like himself. Whatever Dr. Markson had given the agent he was feeling better but the pain was still there. El had given him two of the pills with some more soup and dumplings when Neal decided he should leave. It had been a long day and he wanted to go home and rest.

"I heard someone punched out the Suit. How's the hand?"

Mozzie's humor was its usual dry charm when Neal walked in and found his friend sipping his wine as if he lived there.

"Not me, Lansing. I wouldn't bother punching out Peter but Lansing didn't seem to care even though Jones and Diana had guns. Braver than me. Loosened a molar. Peter's been out of it since seeing the dentist earlier today."

Mozzie blinked sitting up from his chair and looking a bit pale.

"Dentist? You should have the Suit check for wires and mind control devices. Dentists are evil!"

Neal smirked as he removed his shoes and jacket and sat down on the sofa tiredly.

"Maybe so but it's worse when you have to babysit a drugged up FBI agent who can barely put two words together. Was a little strange because he was very open to letting me do what I wanted but I didn't take advantage."

He sighed, Mozzie walking over to join him.

"You're just getting too used to that leash around your ankle, Neal. Next thing you know he'll put a piece of paper marked anklet around your leg and you'll still stay in the 2 mile radius like those elephants they break in India. They could break the rope but they've been trained to think otherwise. A domesticated con man is an unhappy con man."

Mozzie sipped at his wine as Neal just arched a brow at him and shrugged.

"There was something though... the dentist. Ever hear of a doctor named Markson? His office was way beyond the poshness of any doctor's office much less a dentist's. He gave me a weird vibe."

Mozzie seemed to think a moment but shook his head.

"All doctors have weird vibes, Neal. I can look him up through my EMT friend. He does some dentistry on the side. Only person I trust with my teeth."

Mozzie smiled broadly as Neal rolled his eyes and grinned.

"Let me know what you find. I just found him oddly clinical. I had the feeling he took some kind of advantage of Peter."

He saw Mozzie looking at him curiously.

"You're worried about the Suit. You're used to him being in control and for once you were. Very understandable."

Neal turned and blinked then sat up as he stood and walked over to the kitchenette and poured himself his own glass of wine.

"Maybe but it's more than that, Mozz. There's something strange about that Dr. Markson and it's nothing to do with any fear of the dentist you might have instilled upon me."

Mozzie paused before he spoke and nodded, getting up to refill his glass.

"If you say so. I'll look him up and see what I find."

oOoOoOo

Author's Note: If you fear dentist (I don't but I know some do) don't read this. ;) Sort of a phobia story... or is it? Read on to find out!