(Chapter 1)

Neal lay slumped against the column in the Bureau parking garage, his pale blue eyes staring glassily ahead. There was a reddish yellowish glow reflected off his eyes and face as he lay there still, unmoving as if made of the very stone he leaned against. He could hear a ringing sound in his ears, blocking out all other sounds as if he were trapped in a sealed soundproof room. He heard nothing but the ringing of what seemed to be a phone or bell reverberating in his head as he lay there unaware of what was going on. The crackling of the flames of what had been a bureau vehicle made no break in his stare. A figure pushed him aside, their face hidden by a dark mask. His eyes slowly moved to watch as they stepped over him and started to lift another figure up. The other person slumped in the masked man's grasp, a tan overcoat covering what appeared to be a gray suit. The figure looked familiar.

The masked man carried the unconscious figure in the tan overcoat as they stepped over Neal once more. Neal grasped up weakly, catching the edge of the tan overcoat in his hands, gripping tightly. The masked man turned when he felt the tug, looking down with a glare of green eyes at him. Neal stared up somewhat blankly, just seeing the blurry masked figure pulling against his grip uselessly. Neal watched as another man showed, lips moving enough for him to read.

"What's the matter?"

The first masked figure pointed at Neal's hand holding the corner of the tan overcoat. The second man cursed and he read his lips.

"Bring him then! We have to go now!"

Neal heard nothing, only able to just read what was said as they looked towards him. The second man reached down and lifted him up in a fireman's carry, the con limp as he was taken away. The continued ringing vibrated in his head making him feel nauseated as they dragged them to a nearby black van, the side door sliding open as more masked men pulled them inside, the two joining them.

"Go! Go!"

Neal saw rather than heard someone say that, his eyes looking at his fellow prisoner, the man in the tan coat. He was distracted by the moving figures in the silence, only the ringing in his ears breaking it. One pushed him face down on the thin carpeting, his arms pulled back and bound tightly at the elbows. He was flipped onto his back again and tape was pulled tightly over his lips. He saw the same done with the other figure in the tan coat as he tried to remember what happened. He moved his head to look up at someone hunched over him, talking, the shadows too deep for him to comprehend over the ringing or read their lips well enough. They slapped him hard which only made him feel sicker, the ringing growing till the man seemed to grow irritated with him and he saw someone open up the door. He suddenly realized what they were going to do but couldn't react as he was thrown out of the still moving vehicle.

Neal hit the pavement hard, bouncing some as his head connected with the asphalt before he rolled towards a parked vehicle that stopped his forward movement. His eyes started to roll back into his head, the ringing still there as the bright flash of red and blue lights filled his peripheral vision and he passed out.


Just a few days before...

Neal tasted blood as a fist hit him hard across the face. He was dangling from the rafters, arms pulled tightly above him. He felt his head pulled back roughly by the hair, feeling a few strands ripped out painfully by the roots.

"Tell us who sent you here before we cut your throat!"

Neal's eyes fell down to the glittering yet somewhat serrated blade held before him. He hoped Peter would show up soon, uncertain why he hadn't already showed up with the cavalry when his watch was still broadcasting or so he hoped. These guys were crazier than they had planned, only hoping to find the counterfeiting ring they'd been searching for when the con had found so much more than the FBI file had mentioned.

"Go... to... He... elll!"

He spit it out as his hair was pulled back tighter, neck exposed and the man with the knife drew closer as Neal tried not to show fear. It looked like he was going to get his throat cut, no anger towards Peter or the other agents when he remembered the goons had knocked the watch a bit hard when grabbing him. Maybe it wasn't broadcasting anymore. Neal started to miss his anklet just a little when someone cried out:


Neal felt the hand in his hair wrap fingers around his skull that much more tighter, squeezing his head in a powerful grip as the man with the knife continued to try and kill him before they were caught. He heard their urgent whispers to finish the job when the man with the blade suddenly winced, arm dropping said weapon to the ground with a clatter as he grasped his arm painfully and Neal just saw the blurry form of Agent Diana Barrigan standing there before him.

"Anyone else feeling lucky?"

The man with the grip on Neal's head wrapped his other huge hand around the con's neck and started to squeeze when Diana looked at him, her eyes meeting Neal's and he nodded, closing them as he waited. There was a sudden pop and then he felt the grip around his neck and head lessen as the goon gave a cry.

"Next time I'm not aiming for your thigh..."

He turned his head ever so slightly to see the goon that held him grasping his leg in pain and limping backwards as agents moved in to cuff the now cowed goons. They gave in without much protest, Diana moving forward to free him as Peter rushed around the corner and made his way up. He helped the agent free Neal as they gently lowered him to the ground and he sighed tiredly.

"Cutting... it a lit... tle... clo... ose?"

He smiled up at the agent almost drunkenly he thought before he slumped over and began to pass out. He felt two fingers feeling his neck for a pulse and a relieved sigh from Peter as the man mussed his hair gently.

"Call a bus here... NOW! Man down!"

He heard the agents conferring, other voices around them as the room faded away and Neal passed out.


Neal was let go the same day from the ER as they checked him out and found he had a minor concussion, a bit of bruising from being knocked around and had been drugged. The ER doctor told Peter to make sure Neal took it easy for the next few days and to bring him back if he had any odd reactions from the drugs he'd been given or effects from the concussion.

"Guess my skull's harder than I thought."

Neal yawned slightly, his eyes somewhat glassy still despite the doctor's reassurances the agent could take him home. He leaned against the door and was soon asleep. Peter was worried about the con so as the young man slept in the passenger seat, he stopped by June's briefly for some clothing and brought him back to his home. The young man didn't budge as the car stopped, Peter quietly exiting the vehicle to move around the other side as he gently rapped on the window.

"Neal... wake up."

Neal didn't move at first till finally Peter gently opened the door and the con started to rouse. The doctor had said he might be a bit drowsy for a day or two but that would go away as he healed. If it didn't go away by the end of the week, they were to bring him back in for another exam.

"I must have fallen... asleep."

Neal yawned, looking up and seeing Peter's house there instead of June's. He blinked as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

"We're at your house, Peter?"

Neal sat up a bit more, removing the seat belt and pushing his legs out of the car as he gently eased himself from the vehicle. Peter caught him as he stumbled then let him stand when he could manage.

"Come on. El's waiting for us. She brought that Chinese take out you like."


Neal managed to stay awake through dinner, everyone sitting on the floor of the den like a picnic, Elizabeth spreading out a blanket and making it comfortable with pillows and cushions. At some point Neal curled up on his corner of the blanket and fell asleep, El held up a finger to Peter to be quiet as they cleaned up the remaining food and let the young man rest. They threw a light blanket over him as they snuck upstairs to set up the guestroom for him.

"You said he had a minor concussion?"

Peter nodded with a grim look on his face. He was regretting taking this case now and having sent Neal in. The more they found out about the gang they were tracking, the more dangerous it looked than they had been initially let on to believe. Hughes was going to get back to him in the morning about whether or not the White Collar department would continue the investigation or the bureau would let Ruiz in Organized Crimes take it now that they had reports of more than just money laundering. What happened to Neal was not being taken lightly as Peter considered the consequences of what could have happened if they hadn't shown up when they did.

"He's ok, Peter. Relax."

She was next to him, arms wrapping around his shoulders and waist as he hugged her back.

"I hate when things like this happen to any of my team."

His voice trailed off despite the finality of the sentence as she nodded and kissed him on the lips.

"But with Neal it's different. He's not an agent. It's understandable."

She kissed him again before fixing the bed for their friend and walking out of the room, Peter staring after her. He knew it was Neal's job to do what they asked of him; That's why he was under Peter's custody but this case made him realize just how often the young man placed his life in danger for them. This one shouldn't have been so dangerous with the intel they had but it had been wrong. Neal had nearly been butchered!

Peter gritted his teeth, grinding them till he heard a cough and looked up to see Neal standing there.

"I never thought you were one to bite through nails but that grinding is absolutely grating on the ears. Bad for the teeth too."

At least he hadn't lost his sense of humor, a hint of vagueness in the young man's voice as he moved towards him with a less vibrant gait than usual.

"Just thinking..."

Peter turned his attention to the floor then up when he realized the young man was gazing at him a bit curiously.

"Not about you, Neal. You're fine. I don't grind my teeth about you. My hair's already turning gray as it is."

He winked as the young man nodded and smirked back a bit.

"Good. Gray becomes you. Gives you that seasoned look."

Peter sighed tiredly with a grin as he moved forward and patted the young man on the shoulder. Neal winced slightly and he apologized.

"Need some aspirin?"

Neal nodded a bit more enthusiastically than he probably meant to as Peter went to grab the bottle from the medicine cabinet. When he came back Neal was already sitting on the edge of the guestroom bed, eyes looking like they might close soon. He had a cup of water in the other hand, moving closer to give them to the young man.

"Take these before you pass out. I'll leave the bottle and bring a pitcher up if you need more water."

Neal nodded sleepily, popping the two pills, downing the water and laying back against the mattress. His eyes were closed as his head hit the pillow, Peter tucking him in with a quick brush of hair from Neal's face before he quietly left the room.


Neal had horrible nightmares about what happened to him as he twitched slightly in his sleep.

He was taking photos of the operation when everyone left him alone a moment. The rest of the gang was supposed to be out. He had come back under the premise of forgetting something. He was supposed to be safe, taking pics with the small spy camera when he felt a firm grip on his shoulder and felt himself suddenly tossed aside. He bounced off a pillar and felt as well as heard the crack when the base of his skull connected to the concrete. Neal slipped down to the floor limply, his vision blurring in and out of focus as he felt a kick to the back and then hands flip him over as they grasped his neck and raised him up again. His head was smacked against the pillar again as he kicked weakly with his feet, one hand trying to reach up and pull at the hand around his windpipe before he passed out.

His memory was murky after that in the dream, a pinched feeling in his arm as someone gave him something that made him feel less achy but now he wanted to talk which is why they had drugged him only they weren't happy about it. His vision was barely clear enough to know who he was talking to much less his thoughts organized so that he made sense. He thought he recalled talking to someone about how to do a 3 card scam on people and then something about how much he liked pie. That got him quite a few laughs and then a number of hard smacks across the face before he passed out again and he woke up to the two men as they tried to slit his throat. As the man with the serrated knife came closer he woke up, breath coming fast, pulse racing.

He was achy, his head hurting him as he reached over to the nightstand and saw the silhouette of a pitcher of water. He sat up and tried to pick it up to pour water into the cup so he could take more aspirin but knocked the container over so that it shattered on the floor, water spilling everywhere as he slumped back on the bed and felt even worse. Neal's head was splitting as he heard voices, a door open and then footsteps coming closer before the guestroom door opened and Peter entered the room.

"Neal? Are you ok?"

He started forward when Neal hissed at him, his voice too weak to do much else.

"Glass... watch out."

Peter nodded, turning on the light and seeing the broken pitcher and water on the floor as he left a moment. Neal just slumped there feeling too tired to move, his body still aching from the abuse by those men. He heard footsteps again as Peter returned with towels, dustpan and broom. He carefully swept up the glass as he soaked up the water with the towels and cleaned up the mess without saying anything. Neal just watched, arm hanging lazily off the edge of the bed as he lay there on his stomach breathing a bit harder than he should. Peter finished cleaning up and threw the glass in the wastebasket before he came over and felt Neal's forehead.

"You're not feverish. Must just be the concussion. Doctor said you might be a bit off for a few days. Did you want some more aspirin?"

Neal nodded ever so slightly but even that seemed to upset his head enough he felt a bit nauseated.


The agent understood as he helped him up and to the bathroom. Neal stumbled to the toilet, kneeling as he threw up. He did that a few times before he flushed the toilet and Peter helped him back to his feet to wash his hands, face and mouth. Neal's cheeks were flush when he saw himself in the mirror, his skin paler than usual and slick with sweat. He felt a bit better now but not much as he'd like. Peter filled a cup with water and they walked back to the room to take some aspirin.

"Did you want anything to eat?"

Neal shook his head as he downed the pills with the water and lay back on the bed afterwards. Peter sat on the edge of the bed beside him. Neal wouldn't say so but he was glad for the agent's presence as he felt Peter gently brush his hair. It relaxed him as he slowly closed his eyes and started to fall asleep.


When Neal woke up next he rolled over to find another figure sitting in bed beside him. It surprised him at first till he saw who it was and almost laughed. The con smiled, seeing Peter's face relaxed and calm as he sat along the edge of the bed there, eyes shut as he slept, a soft snore escaping his lips. Neal felt better than he had although not by much as he quietly and gently slipped off the other end of the bed and then moved back around to ease his friend onto the bed and make him comfortable. He left the room, closing the door with little noise till he heard a cough and turned.

"I'm guessing my husband is in there?"

She reached for the doorknob and looked inside a smile forming on her lips before she closed the door again. Elizabeth waved to the young man to follow her downstairs as they tiptoed down the stairs to the first floor.

"Feeling any better?"

El spoke as they went out of earshot and Neal shrugged.

"A little I guess. Head still hurts."

She nodded, telling him to sit on the couch as she went to put the coffee on and some breakfast. He found himself slumping back against the cushions of the couch until his eyes shut and he was asleep again. It didn't seem like much later when he heard voices and he started to come to.

"I know how much he hates doing case files but after this last case I'm going to insist we stick with them for a while until I know he's ok. I don't want another scare like that."

It was Peter's voice speaking, a kind of anger in his tone mixed with a bit of concern. He didn't like worrying the agent if he could help it, never having had anyone really worry about him before. He continued waking up, listening to the conversation.

"You have every right to be concerned Peter but make sure you let him know that."

There was a short silence and the sound of someone sipping coffee before El spoke again.

"You know what I mean. He's going to think you're punishing him with desk work if you don't explain why. Neal's... you know how he is. If you don't tell him what's going on he goes on the defensive. Just talk to him first before you do this. It will do you both a bit of good."

His eyes finally opened as he blinked back the sleepiness and peered across the room at two figures sitting at a dining room table. He didn't sit up at first, uncertain if he should make his presence known yet.

"You're right, El. I'll talk to him once he wakes up and eats. Hughes said I could have the day off considering everything but I need to type up my statement so I may go in long enough to do that."

There was a crunching sound of someone eating something and Neal took that as his cue to make himself known.

"Is there a construction crew nearby because it sounds like someone's grinding gravel in here."

He saw El's face redden a bit as she tried not to laugh, hand over her mouth to stifle her chuckle as Peter turned slowly, a piece of toast still held in his hands.

"Funny, Neal... come and get it before I kick you out on the curb."

Neal nodded obediently, standing up as he stretched to get the kinks out and made his way with a slight hobble to the table. El quickly put a plate together and pushed it over to him as he thanked her and smiled at them both.

"I guess I needed a bit more sleep than I thought."

He was quiet after that, filling his mouth with eggs and bacon to keep himself from saying anything else as his friends finished up their own plates. Peter turned to him with a curious look.

"Head still bothering you?"

Neal looked up from his eggs and nodded slightly, eyes looking over at El who was trying not to look too concerned despite what he had heard them talking about: him.

"I might have something a bit stronger if you want to try that, Neal."

He nodded to her with a smile, eyes looking between the two and his plate of food. He was hungry but knowing they were worrying about him and having heard the conversation made him a bit uncomfortable.

"Neal, let me get that medicine for you..."

Her voice trailed off, Peter looking at her as she made a face at him she didn't think Neal would see. He pretended to not notice as he continued eating his breakfast. El left them alone and after a moment, Peter cleared his throat.

"I was thinking..."

Neal looked up at the agent and his friend speaking more out of defensiveness than anything.

"Good past time..."

He watched the easy going glance turn to a mild bit of annoyance as Neal held back his tongue and stuffed some bacon into his mouth. Peter saw the act and sighed slightly.

"I think we should take it a little easy after this case."

Neal gazed up at the agent and blinked.

"I'll save you the rhetoric Peter. I didn't want to say anything but I heard you and El talking. I understand. You're worried. I'm fine. I can take care of myself."

It wasn't what he had planned on saying but his first instinct to cover his tail popped up and he was doing the dance he always did. A part of him mentally bopped himself on the back of the head for being so stupid but it was too late. He had spoken.

"You did?"

Peter seemed surprised and then his own walls came up as if he felt whatever needed to be said was said already. The agent was never comfortable with deep talks and Neal knew that. Peter seemed to give a glance across to where El was in the kitchen before he spoke next in a hushed tone.

"Good then. So... Want to take a ride to the office with me? I'm just going for a few minutes."

They had solved little if nothing and neither had said what they meant to say which should have been:

Neal: I know you're worried about me and just know I appreciate it.

Peter: Of course, you're my partner and friend. I just want what's best for you. (insert uncomfortable yet brief bro hug or affectionate arm punch here)

That's not what happened and so Neal merely nodded.



Neal was just walking into the bathroom when he heard the quiet buzz of a cell phone. He turned to see something flashing at the nightstand just inside the Burkes' bedroom. He dropped his stuff off in the bathroom before he ducked inside curious who the call was from. He glanced down at the number as it rang and his eyes widened. He was about to answer when he heard voices coming nearer and he reluctantly slipped out of the room and back to the bathroom, closing the door and locking it. The voices of Elizabeth and Peter moved past him as he leaned on the door and thought about what he'd seen.

"So you boys had a nice talk then?"

There was a moment of silence as the footsteps paused.

"Yes and he understood. I'm going to take him with me to the office on my errand and then we'll be home for lunch."

He was surprised Peter lied or semi-lied to his wife. Neal had heard their conversation so he knew what was up but Peter acted like they had chatted, which they had, but not in so many words. He stopped listening when they got a little more personal as he turned on the shower, disrobed and ducked under the hot water. It made his aching body feel much better considering it had only been the day before he'd been pummeled, beat up and drugged by the gang they were investigating. At least they had gotten two of Arigosis' men, the Greek tycoon and kingpin probably less than happy about it. That's why he had been worried about the call. It was an unlisted number but it was one of Arigosis' burner phones calling Peter and he didn't know why. If Peter looked at his cell maybe he would mention it on the way to the office. Neal didn't want to bring it up if he could but it scared him to know that the mobster had gotten Peter's cell and was calling. This couldn't be good.

Neal started when he heard a loud rapping on the door.

"I hope you intend on paying the water bill if you stay in there any longer, Caffrey!"

It was Peter's voice being somewhat sarcastic as Neal reluctantly turned off the shower and toweled off. He pulled on his boxers, tee and a robe over it all as he walked over to the mirror and wiped away at the glass. He had a bit of stubble but he could come back and shave in a moment as he heard sounds from outside. Neal wrapped the towel around his neck and opened the door to find Peter poised as if he were going to knock again.

"About time. I had better have some hot water left."

Neal smirked at him as he heard the door close and headed for the guestroom. Elizabeth was in there fixing up the bed as he paused in the doorway.

"Hey. Don't worry about the pitcher. Peter told me. I'm just glad you're feeling better."

She walked over and brushed a wet hair from his face, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek before she left the room. Neal wasn't sure what to make of that other than she seemed worried about him. He walked over and closed the door before he removed his robe, finished toweling off his hair and started to pull clothes from the bag Peter had apparently gotten from June's. He found some comfortable khaki slacks, dark brown socks and a comfy white linen button up shirt. He looked in the mirror in the room to make sure he looked ok before slipping on his black suede loafers and exiting the room. Peter was just coming out of his own bedroom dressed in blue jeans, a tan polo type shirt and brown top-siders. Neal passed him in the hall to go shave quickly as he brought his toiletry bag with him. It only took him five minutes to finish up and clean his face before they were ready to go.

"We'll be back for lunch, El. Have a great day hon!"

Peter called back as Elizabeth rushed out to hug him.

"You too, hon."


When they arrived at the office, Peter led the way to his office, Neal following as they make some quick hellos to Diana and Jones. Hughes was out at a meeting as they went up the few steps to the landing above. Neal sat in his usual spot by the door as Peter plopped down into his seat and turned on the PC. He quickly started to fill out the report he needed to make, his fingers typing quietly but rapidly on the keyboard. He turned around at some point to pull something from his desk when he smiled softly. Neal had leaned forward on the desk, his head cradled in his arms as he quietly snoozed. Peter kept smiling as he was careful not to waken his partner as he grabbed what he needed and kept typing. Once he was finished with the report he stealthily moved from the chair and around the desk, leaving the sleeping figure of Neal as he left his office and closed the door quietly behind him.


He turned to see Diana there as he walked to Hughes' office with his printout. She was smiling somewhat as she peered into his office at the sleeping consultant.

"What's wrong with Caffrey?"

She looked a bit worried but still smiled seeing the con so relaxed. Peter shrugged.

"Doctor said he might be a bit drowsy from the concussion till the worse of his injuries went away. He was lucky."

Peter looked back over at his partner a moment with a worried look, Diana placing a comforting hand on his arm.

"None of us expected what happened. It was lucky the watch started to broadcast again and we got that fix on him. Reggie says it was busted up pretty badly. Have you asked him what happened yet? Hughes will want his report with yours."

Peter shook his head knowing he was going to have to talk to Neal soon. He was going to do it today after lunch or maybe dinner. Peter just wanted to give the con some time to relax and not think about things and he also wasn't sure he wanted to know what happened. Just seeing what he had seen was scary enough without more details.

"He looks relaxed enough but you need to talk to him about this."

Peter nodded as he dropped his report in Hughes' office and walked over to the break area with Diana to get some coffee. Jones joined them as they spoke of the case and chit chatted a bit.


Neal was having the same nightmare he'd had last night only this time it was Peter being threatened. Neal was tied up as he was forced to watch them slit the agent's throat. He was trying to scream, struggling to get free but they had gagged him. His eyes were full of tears, his breath catching as he tried to breath normally but found himself unable to do so. He started to wheeze, his eyes twitching beneath closed lids as his lips parted slightly, face reddening some as he continued to lay there, head on his arms.


He felt himself trying to call out still, no sound as he struggled against the bindings that held him and the ropes. Arigosis' men were laughing, holding his face up in the dream so he could see the agent dying. Neal tried to turn away but found himself unable to as he finally felt a scream escape his lips and he woke up.

Neal's breath caught in his chest, his face feeling warm and flushed as he tried to relax but his body was achy, head throbbing still from the concussion as he felt himself slip down to the floor and slump there against the thin carpeting. He heard calm voices at first, the sound of a door opening and then hurried footfalls as someone hovered over him and he felt a hand touch his shoulder and then his face gently.

"Neal? Hey... buddy. Neal... Diana, get me some water and ice. He's warm."

Peter was still talking to him as he started to feel his breath and pulse slow and his body relax. His temples continued to beat as if someone were playing a drum solo on it but the images from the dream stayed with him despite knowing Peter was beside him, alive and fine.

"Hey... Neal... come on... sit up for me. That's it."

Neal was leaning against a strong shoulder, someone holding him up. He had his eyes closed, images bombarding him he didn't want to see. He felt something cool placed on his forehead and another cool damp rag wrapped gently around the back of his neck. It felt nice as he leaned into the body holding him and started to fall asleep again. He felt safe despite that feeling of unease from the nightmare. He was going to have to tell Peter what happened and what was on the cell. Neal hadn't mentioned it yet knowing the agent might ask why he was looking at his cell in the first place. They had to discuss it but right now all he wanted to do was go to sleep, his body slowly relaxing as he lost consciousness.


Peter sat on the floor watching his friend rest as Diana came back with a pillow and blanket from the clinic on the 4th floor. With as little motion as he could, the agent lay his friend on the carpeting with the pillow and blanket as he stood up and moved the chair away from the sleeping con. Neal looked like a little kid, hair mussed and cheeks slightly red as if he'd been running. He didn't understand what had happened as he called the doctor from the day before and asked if they could see him. They wouldn't be able to go in till the following day but that would work for now. Peter would just have to wait till his friend and partner woke up to take him home. El was expecting them for lunch which was in another hour or so. Diana and Jones quietly crept up and peered through the glass.

"How is he?"

Jones looked worried but Peter just shrugged uncertain what to think. He was wondering what exactly the consultant was experiencing.

"He's sleeping. I called the doctor that worked on him at the hospital. He made an appointment for us to come in tomorrow. I need to call my wife."


Neal was confused when he opened his eyes and found himself looking up at a chair and desk. He slowly sat up and looked around as he noticed the pillow and blanket and heard a distinct sound coming from the other side of the desk. He started to stand up and saw Peter slumped back in his chair asleep, mouth slightly open as he snored softly. The younger man wanted to laugh at the sight but was happy to know his friend was at least relaxed as he moved quietly over, nudging the agent.

"Peter? Hey... wake up."

The agent nearly fell out of his chair as he sat up straight, scaring Neal who backed up a few feet before Peter blinked, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

"Neal? I guess I dozed off a bit myself. Feeling better?"

Peter's voice was full of concern as Neal nodded. His neck ached a bit from the hard floor but he'd live.

"Yeah... but I needed to talk to you about something. It has to do with the case."

Neal was already pulling the chair over as Peter nodded and wiped at his face a bit before giving his full attention to his partner.

"I had hoped you would have checked by now but maybe you didn't... I noticed your cell phone buzzing earlier at your house."

Neal hesitated before continuing as Peter nodded with a confused look.

"Well, I went in your room to see who the call was from and I think I recognized the number."

Peter blinked back at him curiously as if not understanding what he meant.

"I'm not sure what you mean. I saw some unlisted numbers but when I checked the messages they were telemarketers. I get them off and on and they're deleted now. Are you sure you saw one of Arigosis' numbers there?"

Neal nodded, pulling out his cell and showing him.

"This is the number I saw. I'm certain of it. Arigosis had several burner phones he used between men in the operation while I was on the case. I took note of several numbers. I know I saw this one on your phone earlier today, Peter."

The agent nodded back, a thoughtful look on his face as he nodded again.

"Thanks for telling me. Maybe we can get a location on it if he's spamming my line. He might be trying to send a message about having taken his men into custody. Do you have those other numbers? I'll give them to Diana and Jones to process but we might be giving this case up to Organized Crime soon. I was discussing it with Hughes since we weren't informed of the other elements involved."

Neal gave a short nod as he sat back in the chair and Peter picked up the phone and called Diana and Jones in.

"Hey Caffrey. Feeling better after your nap?"

Jones was cheerful and Diana smiled in a relieved manner as he nodded back.

"Like a million bucks or some priceless artifacts."

Peter sighed obviously as he finished writing the numbers down and handed the list to both of them.

"Check out these numbers. They might not turn up anything since they're associated with burner phones but let me know what you do find. We're going to head out now. Tell Mary that we appreciated the pillow and blanket."


Once they returned to the Burkes' residence, Neal went upstairs and locked himself up in the guestroom to rest some more. Peter let him go as he looked around for his wife, her head peeking out from the kitchen as she heard them enter.

"It's nearly 2. I thought you were coming home for lunch today?"

She sounded worried but more curious as Peter walked over to hug and kiss her.

"We would have but Neal passed out at the office. He only just woke up a little while ago. I meant to call but I was tired from sleeping in the guestroom all night I nodded off at my desk a while too. Got the report done and Neal told me something interesting about the case."

El looked interested as they moved arm in arm to the kitchen where he saw a salad and some sandwiches on a plate.

"I have more in the fridge. I was just taking some out for myself when you didn't show. I meant to call but got busy trying to get off the phone with a nosy telemarketer."

Peter perked up at the comment, gripping her arm a bit tighter as she made a sound of protest and he let go.

"Sorry. Did you say nosy telemarketer? What were they asking about?"

He was already moving over to the main phone to check the caller ID as he noted the number, Elizabeth looking at him curiously.

"Mostly if the address correct on their listing, what kind of hours we kept... I told him I didn't give out that kind of information and hung up but he called back again. I finally just took the phone off the hook. I was going to report him to the FCC if not the Better Business Bureau."

El was obviously upset as he compared the numbers and saw it was the one that had showed up on his phone as he opened his cell. His expression darkened. Arigosis was coming after him or at least trying to scare him but to what purpose? He dialed a number on the cell waiting.

"Jones... FBI."

Peter held up a hand to his wife for a moment as he grabbed up a piece of paper and pen and wrote a message for her to see as he spoke to Jones.

"I need that information on those numbers I gave you asap and if you could send Diana over here. I'll give you both the details why later."

Peter hung up the phone as he saw El glance at him worriedly.

"Honey... are you telling me that telemarketer was someone from the case you were on? One of the people who might have hurt Neal?"

She spoke in a quiet breath as if someone could hear other than them but he just took her in his arms and nodded.

"Unfortunately. Neal told me he saw my cell buzzing this morning before we left and identified this number as one he knew from the case that the gang was using. I'm going to have Diana come over and stay with us as backup. If you have to go out, take her with you. Neal and I will be ok."

She nodded worriedly as she clung to him and they went back to the kitchen. El handed him a sandwich and a glass of milk as they walked back out into the dining room. She was suddenly very quiet, her eyes looking up.

"He's worrying about what happened if he was checking your phone. Neal is very perceptive. Maybe you should tell him about this?"

Peter swallowed his bite of sandwich and shook his head.

"Later. He needs his rest. For now, I'll handle this till I can talk to Hughes."


Author's Note: Finally getting back to this story. I couldn't come up with a good enough plot and now I think I can make it work. Let me know how you like this. It was requested some time ago and I finally feel comfortable writing on it again. :)