Disclaimer: I don't own White Collar. I do own typos and other silly errors.
A/N: I hope you'll like it.
The gun is not loaded, the gun is not loaded.
Of course Neal knows the gun is loaded, but he tells himself it's not true.
"Let him go, we can talk about this."
Oh yeah Peter, the gun means he wants to talk.
He tries to ignore most of the worried faces surrounding him and focuses on Peter, Diana and Jones. Of all places he didn't expect to get threatened in the FBI lobby.
This isn't really happening.
For some reason he must look vulnerable or something, like's he's the perfect target. He's certain his facial expressions tell bad guys to take him hostage. After all, what else could it be?
While Peter negotiates his release, Neal tries to focus on breathing properly, but the gun pressed against his head isn't helping.
Peter must've said something wrong because before he even realizes the man behind him, who's still nameless as far as he knows, pulls him with him. Neal's a part of the man's retreat to the entrance whether he likes it or not.
The look on Peter's face isn't offering him any reassurance either.
"You don't have to do this, we can work this out."
This isn't working, Peter.
Peter and the rest of the team slowly move forward in an attempt to gain more control of the situation.
"Stay back, or I'll shoot a bullet through his head."
Neal doesn't really appreciate the visualisation, but remains as still as possible.
The man behind him starts pulling him to the entrance again. There's not much Peter can do and Neal fears this situation is about to take a turn for the worst when the guy behind him opens the door.
As soon as they're outside the grip on his throat tightens, but the pressure of the gun's muzzle disappears. Neal doesn't know what the man's up to, but he's sure it can't be good. He regrets that train of thought when the creep behind him slams the butt of the gun against his head. From his position on the pavement a few seconds later he can see the perpetrator run away.
Neal closes his eyes for a moment. When he reopens them he sees Peter hunch down.
"Lousy… negotiator," Neal manages to say.
Peter smiles in reply.
"You're going to be okay."
"Just a headache," Neal confirms.
"Jones and Diana will catch him," Peter reassures while throwing a quick glance to the right, where he can see them running in the distance.
"Ready to get up?"
Neal wants to crack a sarcastic joke about pavements and comfort but decides against it. Instead he even allows Peter to help him up. He's far from steady on his feet and more than a little dizzy, but he tries to ignore it and hide it from the agent supporting his weight.
"Okay that's it I'm calling an ambulance."
Peter gives him a look that says more than words.
"Not going to a hospital." Neal winces when he hears how whiny his voice sounds.
The older man seems to consider that for a moment.
"We'll let the doctor decide. How does that sound?"
Neal knows Peter is only saying this because he thinks he's going to win this argument anyway. However, the FBI's doctor on the sixth floor is better than a hospital so he slowly nods his head in reply.
The ex-con stops Peter when he tries to guide him to the elevator.
"I'm okay, I can get there by myself," Neal insists.
Stubborn, he reads the agent's expression, but he allows him to go to the elevator on his own anyway. Neal is pretty sure Peter's only letting him go because he has a mess to take care of.
His head is killing him, but he's not about to admit that.
There's only one other person in the elevator with him when they head up. It's a young brown-haired woman he's never seen before in the FBI building.
"Are you okay?" she asks.
I'm not. "Heading to the doctor as we speak," he deflects instead.
She just nods and remains silent.
It's when they almost reach the fifth floor the elevator starts malfunctioning and after a few shocks it stops completely.
"This is not good," Neal manages to say after a few minutes. There's a telephone in the elevator that should connect him to the lobby downstairs.
"Not working," he tells the woman after trying it out multiple times.
He can feel the frustration grow inside of him and the nausea he's experiencing isn't helping either.
"Maybe you should sit down," she proposes. Before he moves she follows her own advice and sits down on the elevator floor.
As soon as he's sitting as well she gives Neal a smile. "I'm Alice Parks," she says offering him her hand.
"Neal Caffrey." He returns the smile and shakes the lady's hand.
"I don't think I've ever seen you before."
"Peter told me about you when he started working your case," she explains, "We used to work together. I was his colleague for five years."
They remain silent for at least a quarter of an hour and Neal can only be happy about that. It's not that he doesn't appreciate the company, but truth be told he's feeling like crap. He can't help closing his eyes and leaning his head against the wall behind him. All he wants is to fall asleep.
"Hey, keep your eyes open."
The young man blinks a couple of times in reply.
"I've noticed. I think you might have a concussion."
When Neal closes his eyes again, she continues talking.
"Peter once spilled coffee on Hughes' lap."
That gets Neal's attention.
"Of course it was an accident but that doesn't mean Hughes liked it."
She stops immediately when Neal's face turns green. The vomiting not much later only confirms her initial diagnosis.
Neal doesn't really know Alice but somehow he doesn't mind that she starts rubbing his back. He locks eyes with her as soon as he finishes retching.
"I'm sorry… made a mess."
"It's okay, I've seen worse."
The ex-con doubts that's a good thing. The smell isn't very appetizing either. He eyes the small pool of vomit and is happy there's enough room in the elevator to sit without getting near it.
"Really sorry," he repeats.
Neal closes his eyes again, but this time he can't resist giving in to the sleep his body needs so much.
He hears her voice in the distance and feels her shaking his body, but he knows it's not helping. Wanting to stay awake is one thing, being able to is another.
The man in question looks up from his desk to see his junior agent smile.
"Technician says he can get the door open now."
"Good," he replies, dropping everything before following Diana to the elevator.
The elevator door's already open by the time they get there. He can't see Neal, because the doctor keeps obstructing his view. The small puddle of vomit is something he can lay his eyes on unfortunately. He's already calling an ambulance before the doctor can turn around and order him to do exactly that. The man gives him a nod, telling him he's doing the right thing.
"I can't get him to wake up," the doctor admits.
The EMTs manage to get him to open his eyes a few times on the way to the hospital, but most of the ride passes in a haze for Neal.
When Neal wakes up in the hospital he knows it's not the first time. It feels like the millionth time. First it was just the doctor waking him up asking him silly questions, now it's the nurse.
"Can you tell me your name?"
He wants to roll his eyes but that would probably increase the headache he's experiencing.
"Consultant for the FBI."
She gives him a sweet smile. "That'll do for now, you can go back to sleep."
Neal waits for her to leave before turning his head on the pillow and throwing a look at Peter.
"Only three questions, I'm surprised," he adds.
"You're just sad she didn't ask for your phone number. How's the head?"
"What do you think?" Neal replies sarcastically.
"Someone's grouchy. In case you're interested, Jones tackled the bastard."
"Good." Neal can accept that. He shifts a bit in bed in an attempt to get more comfortable and finally closes his eyes again.
It's not a nurse who wakes him up less than an hour later, it's his stomach. He hates concussions, especially the part where he feels the need to puke his guts out. Elizabeth's right there, holding something under his chin. He can feel her hand on his shoulder, offering some support. As soon as his stomach settles a little he looks at Peter, who's still sitting in the chair near the window.
"Slightly embarrassing," Peter tells him.
El shoots Peter a look that tells him to shut the hell up.
"Not… as embarrassing as spilling… coffee on your boss' lap."
Peter frowns at that.
"I've never told you that, how do you know?"
"Your ex-colleague told me, the girl in the elevator."
The agent shrugs in reply. "Must've missed her. Did she tell you her name so I can send her a death threat?"
"Alice… Alice Parks."
"What is it, honey?" Elizabeth asks.
"That's impossible," he finally says.
"Why is that?" Now it's Neal who's confused.
"Neal, Alice Parks died three years ago in a car crash."
"Then who was the girl in the elevator?"
"She was already gone by the time I got there, I'll ask around."
"You look tired, get some more rest, Neal," Elizabeth tells him.
Neal knows it's an order and not a request.
Peter and Elizabeth don't allow Neal to go home to June's with a concussion, not when the young man needs someone to keep an eye on him.
"Don't need a babysitter," Neal says the moment he's sitting on their couch.
"I don't remember the doctor telling us it was just a recommendation."
Peter grows quiet for a moment.
"Neal, I've asked around. There was no one in the elevator with you."
The younger man just stares at Peter, dumbfounded.
"Maybe it was just the concussion?" the older man suggests.
"Then how did I know about the coffee?"
"I don't know, maybe someone else told you in the past and this was just some sort of dream or hallucination?"
Neal doesn't look convinced at all.
"Get some rest, I'm going to walk Satchmo. If you need anything, El's upstairs. Just give a shout and she will hear you."
Neal gives Peter a nod in reply before leaning back and closing his eyes. Not much later he hears Peter leave the house.
"How's the head?"
The ex-con opens his eyes again only to find Alice Parks standing right in front of him, wearing a simple yellow dress.
"Alice Parks is dead."
That's when he sees the red stain on her yellow dress.
"How?" He wants to say more but can't find the right words.
"Doesn't matter. What matters is that you're still alive."
"You kept me awake."
She nods again.
"I've got to go, Elizabeth will be down soon."
She smiles. "You're welcome. Take care of Peter."
Then she's gone.
"Neal, you okay?"
Neal looks up and finds Elizabeth staring at him.
He nods his head. "I'm fine." Somehow the words feel true.
A/N: Okay tell me what you think. Push that review button.