(Chapter 11)

Later that day June came by with her personal doctor at Mozzie's request. With all the trouble with Markson and hospitals, treating Neal at the Burkes' seemed like the right thing to do till everything calmed down. Dr. Monroe checked out the young man as he rested, Neal waking up now and then but mostly sleeping. He had his staff bring some IVs and a few other pieces of equipment to monitor how he was doing. The physician checked his arm and leg for swelling or other damage but said they'd have to take him in when he was feeling better to get some x-rays and scans. Elizabeth thanked June for bringing the doctor over as they sat downstairs and chatted a bit after he left. Mozzie remained upstairs watching Neal while Peter was in the backyard by himself with Satchmo. They had finally brought the dog back from one of the agents' homes. During all the craziness of the case, they hadn't noticed the dog missing till now. Jones let them know that one of the agents had taken the dog home till everything had calmed down. El had been worried someone had hurt their pet or he was out lost but Jones let her know the agent had fun taking care of the huge lab and that the dog was more than fine. At the moment, she was more concerned about her husband, June sitting across from her at the dining table.

"I guess he's not very happy with the situation?"

June was looking towards the partially open back door, the figure of Peter just obvious in the background. El nodded her head uncertain how much to say about what was going on. June hadn't been directly involved other than witnessing Neal's illness before when Peter had been found the first time. She didn't want to tell too much for Peter's sake and whatever came of the case.

"I can't really discuss it June but he's doubting himself. That's all I can really say."

The older woman nodded back, her hand touching El's arm.

"It will be ok. He's a strong man and a good one. I remember when Byron did some things he regretted. Things he couldn't help that weren't his fault. It was all I could do to hold him together but we always came through it."

Elizabeth looked at Neal's landlady and smiled softly but she kept worrying about her husband as he sat outside alone, brooding. She chatted with June for a while longer before they had to say good-bye. June had an event to go to but promised to come by again tomorrow to visit and check up on Neal. Elizabeth closed the door and walked upstairs to check on the young con when she saw Mozzie quietly sneaking out of the room.

"How is he?"

Mozz nearly jumped but he was less jumpy than he had been as he composed himself as best he could and answered.

"Sleeping. How's the Suit?"

She smiled slightly at the nickname but then frowned as she shrugged at him.

"He's in the backyard brooding with Satchmo. I'm worried about him, Mozzie."

The conman looked at her curiously, keeping his voice down.

"I could ask my friend to come over for lunch tomorrow. Suit doesn't need to know. Maybe even dinner tonight. Up to you..."

He was looking at her with an air of mystery as she tried to figure out what to do. She was thinking about it when she heard the door close for the back and jumped slightly. Mozzie went with her to the stairs and looked over as they saw Peter come in alone with the yellow lab, Satchmo sitting on his usual pillow by the sofa and the agent slumping onto the sofa tiredly. He lifted the remote and they heard the TV turn on as they crept back away from the stairs.

"Lunch. I think dinner is too soon but lunch will be safe. Just... what does this entail? I don't want to make him any more upset. He has his appointment with the therapist day after tomorrow. It won't interfere will it?"

Mozzie looked a bit uncertain.

"I've only seen him do this once. Stockholm Syndrome is a scary thing. A mutual friend had it after a kidnapping. Took about a week to get him over the worst of it."

Elizabeth nodded uncertainly but finally sighed and put a hand on his shoulder.

"Thank you Mozz. Uhm... could you keep Peter occupied while I check on Neal?"

He looked at her as if she were asking him to mind a crocodile or a tiger but finally nodded as he headed down the stairs. She entered the guestroom quietly to find Neal awake and looking at her curiously.

"Hey... how are you feeling? Up to some food?"

She moved closer to sit on the side of the bed and he shifted slightly to sit up.

"Sure... Is Peter ok? Mozzie said something earlier but I was really tired. I didn't quite understand."

El wasn't sure what to say as she shifted to look at him better.

"What exactly do you remember him telling you?"

Neal looked at her curiously before he mentioned that Mozzie said Markson told Peter to finish this. She shuddered at the comment nodding at what little she knew of what had happened. Mozzie hadn't really told her what had actually occurred either and maybe that was a good thing but it was hurting Peter terribly whatever it was.

"He said the same to me. Peter won't tell me what happened and he's upset. He has to go see that therapist again day after tomorrow. Hughes is hoping this will help because Peter was already willing to give up his badge because of Markson's meddling."

Neal's eyes widened in surprise. She could tell he was upset at the idea of Peter wanting to give up his job. Peter loved his job so something bad must have occurred for him to want to give everything up. Mozzie had said something similar but he hadn't understood the full meaning till now.

"I want to talk to him, El. Please..."

He was pleading with her but she saw the heart monitor start to pick up a bit. He turned to see what she was looking at before he lay back against the pillows and it quieted down again.

"Only if you rest and let me bring you something to eat first. It's been a long day for all of us."

Neal consented as she hugged him gently and left the room. A few minutes later the door opened again and Mozzie popped back in, closing the door behind him.

"The Suit isn't very happy. He was being nice to me which in itself tells me something is wrong."

Neal just sighed, uncertain what to think as he lay on the mattress and tried not to get up. All he wanted to do was go talk to Peter and ask him what was wrong. He looked at Mozzie with a narrow glance that pinned the little guy in place.

"Mozzie... you have to tell me everything. I need to know what's wrong with Peter. Please..."

The little guy looked like he was going to run, rubbing at his chin a moment, glancing at the door for something to happen but then finally walking over and locking it before he came back and sat down.

"If I tell you... you can't let Elizabeth know. Far as I know, Peter hasn't told her and I was avoiding telling you for similar reasons. You need to rest more and worry less."

Mozzie had crossed his arms over his chest but Neal moved to get up so he finally relaxed and moved a bit closer to talk.

"Fine but you have to understand, the Suit was not himself. Markson is a real SoB for what he tried to make him do."

Neal looked at him as he watched his friend seemingly draw up the nerve to tell what he knew.

"I came with some things from June's for you. I saw Markson leaving the house and called Peter, El and nobody answered so I called Jones. I went inside and saw nothing till I heard noises upstairs and went to check on them. I saw..."

He paused, flushing slightly at whatever he was remembering. It seemed to upset him but finally his color returned and Mozzie continued.

"I saw Peter hovering over you with a pillow. He was inches from smothering you when I broke his train of thought."

Neal lay back against the pillows and closed his eyes. Peter had almost killed him on Markson's word. What if Mozzie hadn't come? Would he have stopped himself like the last time. He remembered the agent had pointed a gun at him but stopped. Would he have been so strong seeing it was a pillow and not a gun? The thought frightened Neal till they heard a knock.

"Neal? It's El..."

Mozzie moved over quickly to the door and unlocked it as he opened it up. Elizabeth stood there with a small tray of food. She was looking between the both of them as Mozzie tried to look normal and Neal just seemed distracted. She walked over to the bedside and placed the tray on Neal's lap.

"It's just soup and some greens but you can have some more solid food soon. Dr. Monroe was worried about you since you hadn't eaten much in the past few days. I told him we gave you some water but you were still unconscious."

Neal nodded as she settled him with the tray before leaving.

"I'll be back later."

She gave them a curious look filled with a little sadness before leaving the room, door closing behind her. Neal felt more guilty now. He knew what happened to cause Peter's anxiety but she really only knew the surface. He felt bad, looking at the food a moment before finally eating some of it. Mozzie paced a bit before a look from him made the little guy stop and sit again.

"I told her I'd invite Hans over tomorrow for lunch. Surprise them. She'll act it atleast and then we'll see what happens with Peter."

Neal looked up from his meal and nodded tiredly.

"Mozz... this isn't a game. If Hans can't help... He was doing better up till this incident. It has to be more than just what happened up here. If it was just that I think he would have told El the truth. They have few secrets if any."

He saw his friend nod.

"Well he did tie up his wife and leave her in the basement. Markson made him and then Markson went back and turned on the gas and locked her inside while Peter was up here trying to put you to sleep for good."

Neal blinked not having heard that part or maybe Mozzie had told him before and it hadn't registered. He ate a bit more of his food but he had little appetite under the circumstances.

"Poor Peter... no wonder he's freaking out. Why is El running around if she was in that situation? Why didn't she go see a doctor or something? Mozz..."

Neither man spoke for a long time, Neal picking at his food before they heard a quiet knock on the door and it opened revealing El again. She looked tired but under the circumstances, Neal couldn't blame her.

"Hey... if you're done I can take that tray for you now."

Neal nodded having eaten about half of what was on the tray. She had that soft smile of hers on display but he knew El was just putting it on for them. He wanted to get up and help her, talk to her a bit more but he was still too weak to do much with his leg and arm busted up. Mozzie took the tray and offered to walk down with her as Neal stayed put.

()()()

Elizabeth had been tired all day. She should have talked to Dr. Monroe but she had let him see Neal not worrying about what had happened to herself. It had frightened her to think what could have been but she was fine, really. She had to be there for Peter and for Neal. They had reached the stairs, El reaching to take the tray when her legs crumpled out of under her and Mozzie barely put the tray on the floor and caught her.

"El? I can take this down for you. Why don't you go to your room."

She was looking at him curiously, trying to think straight as she saw her husband still sitting on the couch only asleep now. El was going to go down and see if he had wanted something to eat but he had been napping on the couch since earlier. She nodded to Mozzie as she moved back uncertainly to the bedroom and closed the door. Her head was aching some but she was sure it was just stress as she lay on the mattress and closed her eyes.

It only seemed to be for a moment but she felt someone shaking her, urgently talking to her before her eyes finally fluttered open and she saw Peter hunched over her worriedly.

"El... honey? Talk to me!"

She noticed Mozzie hanging off to the side just out of sight by the door as Peter held her in his arms and hugged her close. She felt something wet drip on her cheek and realized he was crying.

"Honey... I'm ok. Really... don't..." She felt sick suddenly, pushing away from him as she stumbled over to the bathroom and closed the door. Her head was still hurting but now she was nauseated and dizzy as she finished heaving and sat on the floor of the bathroom. Peter came in and crouched beside her worriedly.

"You didn't talk to the doctor about what happened did you?"

He was worrying about her when he had bigger things to worry about. She knew he cared for her but she had tried to be one less burden during this crisis.

"I'm fine. Just a bit dizzy and my head hurts."

He helped her up so she could wash her hands, face and rinse her mouth. Elizabeth thought she looked a bit pale in the mirror but it could just be her imagination... Peter led her back to the bedroom where Mozzie was now missing as she heard voices in the other room. Peter helped her sit before he excused himself to go lock up and turn everything off below. It had been a long day with too much excitement. It wasn't long before he was back and with a glass of water and some aspirin.

"The house is locked up. I'll call the doctor in the morning. We have to take Neal in soon. He can check you out for exposure from the gas."

She finally consented, changing into something more comfortable as Peter changed into his pajamas, his eyes watching her. She still felt dizzy but El did her best not to show it. She actually felt a bit nauseated but held it back a bit longer before excusing herself to brush her teeth. She felt better this last time, sitting on the floor a moment before flushing the toilet, washing her hands and rinsing her mouth. She drank a bit of water before finally brushing her teeth and going back to the bedroom. Peter was by the door waiting for her as they walked in together. He closed the door and they got settled as he rolled over to hug her.

"I'm sorry. I love you."

He was holding her tightly, kissing the back of her neck as she turned and kissed him on the lips.

"I love you too."

()()()

The next day was a crazy morning. Peter didn't trust himself to drive so they took a cab to the hospital to have Neal looked over, Dr. Monroe had left some crutches just in case, and El got a check up of her own. The doctor said Elizabeth was doing fine with just a mild amount of gas still in her system. She had been very lucky she'd been breathing through her nose and not her mouth although the doctor hadn't been privy to how. Neal was proving to be lucky as well. There was no serious damage to either his leg or arm. Most of the tissue damage was still minor with some therapy to exercise both but overall he was doing well despite his ordeal. He was still a bit low on electrolytes but the physician gave them a diet for him to go on and to continue the IVs Dr. Monroe had left behind till he was back on his feet.

When they finally returned home it was nearly lunchtime, Elizabeth receiving a call from Mozzie to make sure lunch was still on. She was debating with all the excitement of the morning but finally figured better now than later. They were all in a better mood than they had been, Neal on the couch for the meanwhile while Peter went to walk Satchmo. She hoped Mozzie's friend wasn't too off the wall knowing Peter.

The doorbell rang about thirty minutes later. Peter had already come back from walking the dog and opened it up as Elizabeth fixed lunch for them all. Neal was up on his crutches in the kitchen with her, peeking out when he heard the doorbell.

"Hello Suit. We have a lunch engagement with your wife."

Mozzie was a bit more formal than usual, turning to introduce a quite distinguished looking older man in his late 50s with a salt and peppery beard and good head of hair. Compared to Mozz, the man looked pretty normal if not like a stereotypical college prof.

"My friend, Hans. Hans... the Suit..."

Peter blinked as the man around the same height as himself smiled broadly and held out a large weathered hand.

"I apologize for Mozzie. He has a manner of nicknaming people according to his own little mental foibles. It's nice to meet you Mr. Burke."

Peter blinked again, nodding ever so slightly as if he thought he were dreaming or this was a joke. He turned back uncertainly.

"EL? Uhm Mozzie brought a friend for lunch?"

He heard a kind of rattling of pans and she ran out quickly looking most apologetic.

"Peter, I'm sorry. I promised Mozzie I'd help his friend with an event." She emphasized the last part that made him wonder what they were up to but he shrugged, moving aside to let the two men inside. He was wondering if his wife was going crazy inviting Mozz and one of his weird friends although the man didn't give off a weird vibe so much as no vibe. He seemed fairly normal which was more frightening.

"I'm just finishing up the salad and some sandwiches if you want to sit down. I'll just get some coffee or would you prefer something else?"

Hans took her hand and shook it, kissing the back of it slightly which made Mozzie blush, Neal smirk and Peter look even more uncertain of this new guest.

"It is a pleasure to finally meet Mrs. Suit. Mozzie, you never told me Mrs. Burke was so pretty or for that matter, a great hostess."

Yeah, this was one of Mozzie's friends if not someone Neal knew. Peter was certain now as he watched the scene, his wife a bit flushed from the compliment before she excused herself for the coffee and food. Hans sat on the sofa with Neal while Mozzie sat in a chair next to Peter. All four men just sat in silence till Elizabeth came back in with the coffee and said she would have the sandwiches ready soon. Mozzie offered to help, disappearing with her into the the kitchen.

"So... how long have you known Mozzie?"

Peter was in agent mode suddenly as he was less than obviously interrogating the man. Hans seemed quite at ease with the situation.

"For only a very short time but he has an incredible mind to pick at. I'm a professor of Psychology at NYC. I also have a part-time private practice. What is it that you do, Mr. Burke?"

Neal was watching the whole scene curiously, wondering if Mozzie hadn't told Hans about Peter's work or if the man was toying with the agent. Peter blinked as if he were thinking the same thing considering the usage of the word Suit in the conversation.

"I'm surprised Mozzie didn't tell you. I work for the FBI. If you have anything to confess, please feel free."

Peter may or may not have been joking, Neal wasn't certain as he watched the two play a kind of game as if there was an invisible chess board in front of them. Hans never wavered.

"Well there was the one time when I was a child in Germany. I took a small wooden figure from the local toy store. My mother made me take it back the next day and my father used a switch. Let's just say, I never stole anything again."

Neal wanted to laugh but he kept quiet as he shifted to a more comfortable position as Peter looked like he was trying to figure out his next move.

"Well the statute of limitations are up on that one and you did return it with some punishment involved. I can't imagine the switch. My father was a disciplinarian but not as much as that."

Hans smiled ever so slightly, taking a small watch from his pocket and holding it up till it swung in the light a bit.

"I can never read this unless I hold it just so. Have you ever had that problem with an object, Agent Burke? My vision is probably the reason but I refuse to get glasses when I can see most things without them."

Neal watched the man swing the small time piece ever so slightly as it caught the sunlight behind him and flashed a bit onto Peter's face and eyes. The agent's eyes seemed to follow the glimmering flash off the watch as Hans kept talking quietly about nothing till finally Peter seemed to stare ahead without really seeing, eyes blank. Neal had to turn his attention away not realizing what was up till now. He saw Mozzie peek in and blink at the situation.

"So soon, Hans? I thought we'd wait till after lun..."

The German shushed him as he leaned forward towards the agent and held up a hand for everyone to remain quiet.

"Agent Burke... Peter is it?"

The agent nodded as if in a trance which it seemed he was as Hans continued.

"I know you can hear me so listen well. Everything that happens will not hurt you. You are safe, ok? You will not act on anything except what I tell you to act upon. Ok?"

The agent nodded again, his eyes still staring blankly ahead.

"I want you to tell me what the voice in the back of your head says. I know someone put something there. You feel it don't you? Can you still hear it?"

The agent nodded slowly as his face contorted a bit, Peter obviously fighting something he didn't like.

"Markson... he's talking to me. Telling me things. Put me under in the office when my tooth hurt. Told me to give him information on someone who fingered his boss. They want him dead. Have to get him the info but..."

Peter's face twisted again, brow furrowing as he looked upset about something. He seemed to be resisting whatever he was hearing, head cocked to one side as he listened.

"Go on, Peter. Tell me what Markson wants you to do. What has he told you?"

Peter's face seemed to twitch a bit but he finally answered, a pained look on his face.

"Finish it... he told me to finish what was started. I was holding something... a pillow. Didn't want to do it but he told me was for the best. Can't let him live if he snitches. Just like Angelos. Has to be finished."

Peter's face turned slightly to look at Neal with a cold impassioned look as he sat there but looked like he could pounce the con. Neal didn't know how he felt as he listened and Hans just held up his hand again.

"Yes... tattling is bad unless you do it for the right reasons. Your friend and partner, he helps you by telling you about his craft does he not. Does that make him a snitch in your eyes, Peter?"

Neal swallowed hard as he wasn't sure he wanted to hear the answer. Peter looked conflicted again, hands covering his ears as if to keep out some sound.

"Yes... but he's... no... No he's not, but Markson... He said my partner is a snitch just like Angelos. I couldn't say no but I... I disagree. Neal isn't a snitch. He doesn't like to tell me things but I know he will if he has to. I wish... he'd talk to me more."

Hans smiled with a slight nod of his head.

"So you appreciate that he helps but you don't think he's a snitch or a turncoat to his craft? You like him? He's your friend?"

Peter nodded without hesitation, smiling with a relaxed air as he leaned back in the chair and looked comfortable.

"Yes. He's my friend. I worry about him. We promised no secrets but... I kept some. Protected him but hurt him too."

Neal held back saying anything, hearing the truth from his friend strange and yet comforting. He quietly got up and hobbled over to the kitchen without the crutches, Mozzie helping him as they left the two men alone. Elizabeth was leaning against the counter, wringing her hands.

"He's doing it isn't he? I heard some of it. I can't watch although Peter would never say so much if he wasn't under some kind of trance. He's proud if not private. You understand, right?"

She was looking at Neal who nodded as he leaned there with her, one arm around her.

"It was like finding out your favorite super hero's secret identity. I need to sit this one out. Peter needs his secrets even if we promised none."

Mozzie looked between the both of them curiously.

"It was weird watching the Suit talking openly. You're both so conspiratorial you know."

Neal smirked at his friend as Elizabeth gave a small chuckle before she sighed worriedly.

"I just hope this works. Hans seemed to be getting through but how deeply?"

They all just stood there in the kitchen hiding out till they heard a loud cough from the other room. Mozzie went to peer out first, then Elizabeth who assisted Neal as they went to see what was going on.

Hans was smiling slightly as he looked at Peter who turned to see everyone peeking over at them.

"I don't even remember you getting up Neal. I must have dozed off. I apologize. Is lunch ready?"

Everyone was quiet as if holding their breath till Elizabeth saw the wink from Hans and nodded.

"Yes. Everyone come and sit. Let me bring it out."

As Elizabeth went back into the kitchen, Neal hobbled over to the two men with Mozzie as Hans pulled him aside and Mozzie distracted Peter a moment. The older man whispered to him.

"Your friend is fighting the programming. Here."

He pushed a small tape into his hands.

"Just so you know I did nothing you wouldn't approve of. I have nothing to gain here. Mum's the word."

Neal nodded thankfully if not a bit surprised. He didn't know Hans well if any but knew Mozzie liked the old man to pick his brain when they played chess at the university. Hans seems to know more than he let on but was obviously an honorable man. Neal quickly pocketed the tape and went to join the others.

()()()

Peter seemed more at ease after that despite a minor bit of tension still remaining from what had happened the day before. Maybe he was just happy El wasn't sick or hurting and Neal was doing better. Maybe Hans had done some good. They wouldn't know till he saw his therapist the next day. Hans left after lunch having a previous engagement at the university. Mozzie left with him since he had one as well. Neal hadn't told him about the tape yet and he wasn't sure he wanted to. The young man wasn't sure he was going to listen to it but something about what Hans had said made him curious if nothing else.

"Neal?"

He looked up from the sofa and his thoughts as El addressed him. She sat beside him as Peter went to walk Satchmo.

"He sounds better than he did. I think Mozzie may have hit something there. Peter seemed happier I think."

Neal didn't want to say much of anything but she nodded with quiet understanding. They were both at odds at knowing what had happened and having seen this other side to the man they knew. El was more familiar with Peter than Neal was but still it was a shock to see someone so open regardless of the circumstances. Peter had seemed almost naked in a way and being witness to that was in a way scary if not frightening.

"Did you need help upstairs? I guess Mozzie isn't coming back?"

He shook his head and she smiled at him, turning on the tv.

"Let me know if you need something. I'm going to finish cleaning up."

El vanished back into the kitchen where he soon heard the soft tinkling of dishes as she washed them. Neal wished he could help but he was still hurting with his leg and arm. He couldn't even dry if he had tried, the con sighing as he pulled the tape from his pocket again and looked at it. It was one of those micro-cassettes so he knew Hans didn't have a copy. This WAS the copy. Hans was good to his word. Neal could destroy the copy now or he could listen and decide what to do. Neal had heard most of the session but had been afraid to hear the rest or maybe it had been respect he felt for Peter. It was wrong to listen in to something so intimate as what he'd witnessed. He quickly pushed the tape back to his pocket when Peter came in through the back door with their dog in tow. The agent gave him a curious look.

"Whatcha doing?"

Peter removed the leash from the huge lab and walked over to sit beside him on the sofa. He must have looked guilty of something.

"Just watching TV. I wanted to help El with the dishes but I can't." He sounded disappointed for certain, Peter nodding.

"That's why you look like you did something wrong? I'll buy that for now. I'm in a good mood. By the way, Mozzie's friend Hans was very interesting to talk to. I'm sorry I fell asleep but with all the excitement of the past few days I haven't slept much at all. He seemed to understand. So..."

Peter didn't change the channel for once considering a game had to be on and he always changed the tv to the game. Neal was watching him through the corner of his eye but mostly he was thinking about the tape and the session with Hans. Peter didn't seem any more aware it happened which was interesting. He'd have like to see what the old prof had said to bring Peter back.

"So..."

Both men seemed kind of quiet as they sat there on the sofa, Peter finally channel surfing a bit till Elizabeth joined them. She curled up next to her husband as Neal sat on the opposite end and watched them. There was still some tension there on both sides but he was happy to see they were at least still together. They'd been through far too much the past month. He quietly got up when they had fallen asleep there on the sofa, hobbling over to the stairs and looking at it with some foreboding. He'd been helped up and down and it had only been a day since he started moving around. Neal started to ease himself onto the first step when he felt a hand around his shoulders, under his arms.

"Are you trying to get yourself on disability, Neal?"

Peter stood there, helping him up the stairs as they both turned back briefly to the sleeping form of Elizabeth Burke. She looked relaxed if anything which made both of them feel better as they finally reached the second floor and made it to the guestroom. Neal eased himself onto the bed's edge and sat, leg elevated as Peter helped him settle.

"Don't think I don't know what you did there."

Neal gulped wondering what Peter was talking about when he saw the man smiling at him.

"You were trying to let El and I be alone. Thanks but don't try and go up the stairs or down by yourself again. I don't want to fill out the paperwork if you hurt yourself again."

Neal blinked at the agent as he smirked back.

"I was joking. Sorry..."

Peter ran a hand through his hair nervously, licking his lips before sitting beside Neal on the bed.

"I'm glad you're back."

Neal looked at his friend curiously, the agent placing a comforting hand on his good shoulder.

"Thanks. I could say the same for you."

Peter blinked this time but nodded with a kind of shrug.

"I guess El told you about what I said. I wanted to give up my badge. I still think I do if Markson's programming can't be reversed. I won't be any good to anyone if I can't be certain of my own actions. I don't want to place anyone under that danger especially you."

Neal nodded but then he pulled out the tape and held it up.

"Do you have a micro-cassette player, Peter? You might want to hear this."

()()()

Peter came back after a bit of digging in his closet and pulled out a small mini recorder. He went back to the guestroom more than curious at the small cassette Neal had showed him. He was wondering what could be on it and hoping it wasn't anything incriminating to his partner. The last thing he needed was some startling revelation of something from Neal that could get the ex-con or both of them in trouble. He handed the small device to Neal who pushed the tape inside almost reluctantly it seemed.

"I was going to destroy this but I think... well under the circumstances you might need to hear this. The FBI shrink won't give you this kind of feedback."

Peter blinked at the comment not really understanding till Neal pushed play.

"Agent Burke... Peter is it?"

There was silence with just some minor background noises.

"I know you can hear me so listen well. Everything that happens will not hurt you. You are safe, ok? You will not act on anything except what I tell you to act upon. Ok?"

More silence with very little noise.

"I want you to tell me what the voice in the back of your head says. I know someone put something there. You feel it don't you? Can you still hear it?"

There was a sound of someone breathing, sounding panicked.

"Markson... he's talking to me. Telling me things. Put me under in the office when my tooth hurt. Told me to give him information on someone who fingered his boss. They want him dead. Have to get him the info but..."

Peter was looking uncomfortable the more they listened. He got up at some point as if he were going to leave. Neal stopped the tape but the agent turned and stared at him curiously.

"Turn it back on... Please."

Neal wasn't sure he should have dropped this on his friend but Peter was asking so he turned it back on. They had passed the point where Neal had originally heard the conversation and were coming up to where he had missed the last part of the session.

"Peter... I can call you that can't I?"

There was silence where he could imagine Peter nodding ever so slightly while in his trance.

"You're a man of the law. A suit. You see things in black and white according to my friend, Mozzie. What made you get into law enforcement? What made you so curious about Mr. Caffrey? There must be a reason."

There was silence, a long interminable one that made them wonder if the tape had stopped till finally someone spoke.

"I like figuring things out. I like solving things... fixing..."

There was a slight sound of movement as the speaker paused and then someone spoke again.

"Fixing is the wrong word. I'm not fixing anything. Neal is smart. I like how he thinks. He doesn't need fixing. He's fine the way he is. He just needs direction. A friend."

Peter paused, looking back as he heard Neal stop the tape again. They just stared at each other a moment and then at the recorder before Neal pulled the tape out and started to slowly pull the cassette apart, the magnetic film slipping out of the casing.

"You know I'm never going to say that ever again to your face."

Peter didn't say it like a threat or a negative thing, just a fact as to how he expressed himself. He wasn't good at words but somehow this other Peter had been. Neal just kept pulling the tape out and pulling it till it tore.

"I know..."

Neal saw the agent smirk at him a bit then really look at him and sigh.

"I'm going to wake up my wife and see if she wants to order something in for dinner. You hungry?"

Neal looked at him and nodded before the agent left the room. He looked at the tape he'd destroyed and tossed it into the small wastebasket beside the bed. He'd heard enough and so had Peter. Everything would be fine. He was certain of that.

(The End)

oOoOoOo

Author's Note: I thought this would be the best kind of ending. I really hate doing the whole rehab thing but trust me... nobody ever doesn't get well in my stories if I can help it. I don't mind sad endings but I prefer happy ones if I can do it after the roller coaster ride they went on. :P