(Chapter 8)

Peter watched as Jones and several agents came around the corner guns in hand. Arigosis gave up easily but the look on his face was enough to let the agent know this wasn't over between them. Someone cuffed the mobster, Peter handing up the gun to Jones as he continued to check on Neal. The young man looked bad, his face ashen with a light flush of pink. His skin was clammy, chest moving up and down but his breath rattled in his throat as he struggled to breathe.

"Do we have a bus coming, Jones? Neal's having problems breathing!"

He was trying to make the young man as comfortable as he could, his own injuries secondary for the moment. Jones crouched beside him, putting his jacket under Neal's head as someone else wrapped a jacket around Peter. He turned to see Diana standing there.

"Hey Boss."

He couldn't be happier to see anyone except maybe his wife. Peter wondered how El was as Diana seemed to read his thoughts.

"El knows we were doing this. She's waiting for you both but you need to rest, Peter. Paramedics should be here shortly."

He nodded, leaning against the wall as he sat there by his friend and partner. His hand gently brushed at a stray hair on his friend's forehead as his eyes grew heavy. He was exhausted, body aching and his hurt arm and shoulder were burning with pain now that he could finally let go a little. He thought he heard Jones talking to him or Diana but he wasn't sure as his head slumped to the side and he fell into unconsciousness.

Peter was dreaming, his mind creating horrible scenarios despite the actual outcome. He was on the side of the road, a highway or freeway maybe at rush hour. Cars zoomed past him as he stared through the traffic at a figure in the center median. They were turned away from him, their back in his view as he tried to call out but they didn't hear him. Maybe it was the traffic sounds or maybe it was something else as he tried to find a break in the vehicles to run towards them. The figure started to move away from him, Peter calling out a warning as a large truck headed towards them. Slowly the figure turned to their right, looking back at Peter and smiling. The agent started forward, finding a path through the cars like in some giant Frogger game as he moved in slow-mo towards Neal. Neal just stood there smiling, looking at him as if he didn't see the traffic or the truck about to hit him.


He woke up in a cold sweat, eyes open as he found himself laying in a strange room, left hand gripping the side of the bed, his other hand in a sling across his chest but pulled into a tight fist. His pulse was fast, breath loud in his ears as he peered around and realized he was in a hospital. The beeping of monitors made him look to his left as he saw his pulse was just a bit high. A door opened to his right revealing a young woman with blue scrubs and a white lab coat over it all. She smiled at him, busying herself with checking another figure nearer the door he hadn't noticed.


He started to sit up to move closer and get off of the bed but she hurried over and stopped him.

"He's fine. I guess you came in together? I was told by the guard outside to be discreet with any info about the both of you. You must be Agent Burke."

She had a disarming way about her that made him calm a bit as she held out her hand and they shook.

"I'm Dr. Sahan. Your friend had some minor swelling around the base of his skull but it's fixed now. He should be doing better in the next few days. We're waiting for him to wake up now. How are you feeling?"

She kept his hand in hers, feeling at his wrist and taking his pulse.

"Like a train hit me. So he's going to hear again? He won't stay deaf?"

She blinked at him then nodded as if remembering something.

"Yes, well it should work but he hasn't waken up for anyone to be certain yet. Functional wise, his ears are working. The pressure from his injuries was pressing on some nerve endings and parts of his brain that help with hearing. If those haven't been damaged, he should be able to hear just fine. I was talking to Dr. Marcos about what happened. You both have had some excitement this past week."

She finished her check up on him, writing on a clipboard at the end of the bed before she turned towards the door.

"There's someone waiting to visit with you..."

The doctor smiled, opening up the door to whisper to someone before she moved aside and a familiar face glanced inside. Peter felt his heart racing but for a good reason as Elizabeth came into the room and walked quickly towards him. She looked surprised, his own expression mirroring hers.

"Is it you?"

He spoke quietly as she nodded at him and they hugged. He winced only slightly but he didn't care now that his wife was with him again. He missed her so much as they kissed and she nestled her head against his shoulder.

"I was so afraid and then Neal came... he could hear again! He said they were going to get you back."

She turned her head with a sad expression to the unconscious young man by the door. He looked so pale, still and innocent. Peter hugged her as close as he could.

"He saved my life, El. I wouldn't be here but for him. They say he should wake up soon and have his hearing but it's too soon to say."

She nodded, brushing at his hair as she sat beside him.

"I'm glad you're both ok but most of all I'm glad you've come back to me. You know you missed dinner..."

She saw him look at her curiously before she smirked back.

"Ah yeah... dinner. Kind of hard to be there when things like this happen. I'll do better next time. I promise."

They tried to make light of it to ease the tension but their eyes moved to Neal, a sigh coming from both of them as they worried about their friend.


Neal passed out, a cold feeling encompassing him as he lay in the darkness. He no longer ached but the ringing in the background continued. He dreamed he was looking up at an alarm in a room without doors or windows. He couldn't escape the sound, hands over his ears as he tried to keep from hearing.


He heard a familiar voice under the sound of the bell, someone gently taking his hands in theirs and removing them from his ears.


He opened his eyes and saw a blurry figure there at first but slowly they started to focus... brown hair, brown eyes...

Neal found himself awake suddenly, eyes looking up at the ceiling and then slowly downward as he swept the room around him. The room was quiet but for the soft beeping of a monitor. Beeping... He turned and looked to see a monitor beside him, the wire connected to his finger. He took it off a moment and the sound changed, a smile on his face before he put it back on again and sat up with a soft groan to get a better look at the room he was in. He saw another bed to his right across from him, a figure laying with their head turned from him. He coughed, not just because he wanted their attention but his chest hurt a bit. Neal watched the figure move slightly then turn their head towards him. Two brown eyes met his and a smile.


He was surprised for a moment nodding dumbly before he found his voice again.


There was a sense of relief from both of them, Neal smiling back as Peter sat up.

"Hey buddy. You had us worried there for a bit. Wait... you heard me?"

Peter's face seemed to light up as Neal nodded.

"Doctor wasn't sure if you would or not... hear that is. You had a few good cracks to the head."

Neal noticed the concern in his friend's voice, worry evident about him. He lay back and sighed.

"The ringing stopped finally. I don't feel that pressure any more. Body hurts though."

He could feel the pain from his aching ribs among other things. How he had been running around with so many injuries was beyond him. He heard Peter make a similar sound.

"I know that feeling. El should be back shortly. She was worrying about you but had to go call a client back. She's been away from work long enough she's behind. Her assistant's been doing most of the work without her feedback and the client was getting concerned she'd abandoned them."

Neal nodded his head, eyes shut as he thought about everything and everyone impacted by the last week or so. He heard Peter cough and opened his eyes to look.

"Mozzie came through. He faked out Arigosis men before the cavalry ran in. One of the reasons we're here today... along with that carnival knife throwing bit you did. Never saw that coming nor did Arigosis. Thanks!"

Neal smiled tiredly back.

"I didn't think I could do it. I was seeing double and then you moved so that helped. I could have aimed between the eyes if I'd tried but I don't like knives any better than guns."

He watched Peter nod back as he started to drift off. The conversation was taking too much energy from him trying to stay awake. He heard a quiet buzz.

"Sleep, Neal. I buzzed the nurse but they can check on you if you're asleep."

Neal nodded back as he fell back into a much more peaceful rest.


It was another week before Peter was let go with his injuries and yet another week after that Neal was pronounced well enough to go home with some minor breathing issues. The injuries to his ribs had bruised his lungs and caused some problems including an infection that had turned into a mild form of pneumonia which was part of the reason Neal had been having issues breathing among others. He was relegated to his rooms at June's, El going to visit with him to help out while she caught up on her business. They had him taking heavy antibiotics and resting something Neal didn't argue with for once, his body too tired to fight June, El and even Mozzie who seemed intent on keeping him in bed till he got better. Peter was on leave, his own injuries still keeping his chest wrapped up, shoulder and arm in a light sling as he got over the incident. He'd stop by to visit with Neal but the young man slept most of the time so their talks were brief if any for that first week out of the hospital.

Peter walked in two weeks after his partner's release, talking to June along the way as she told him about Neal.

"He's doing so much better. I got him to go out on the terrace today for a little bit but everything seems to make him winded. How are you doing, Peter?"

She gently squeeze his arm as they went up the stairs towards Neal's room.

"Still a bit sore but the meds are helping. I've been walking Satchmo now that he's back home to get my strength up. I may bring him by when Neal feels better. Thanks for watching him."

She nodded at him, smiling gently as they paused before a familiar door and knocked gently.


There was silence a moment before they heard footsteps and the door opened. June smiled but Peter blinked in surprise. Mozzie stood in the doorway looking up at them, eyes narrowing on the agent.

"Hey June... Suit... Neal's in the shower. I was just drinking some of that wonderful coffee..."

He opened the door after a moment and let them in, June excusing herself as the phone rang downstairs leaving Peter and Mozzie alone. The two men stood around looking any where but at each other a moment before the con cleared his throat.

"You're looking well, Suit. How is and the dog?"

Peter looked at the bathroom door, walking out to the terrace with Mozzie following.

"Thanks. Elizabeth's been here so you know how she is, Mozz and you helped dog sit Satchmo."

He saw the con think a moment then nod.

"I did... so..."

Peter looked at the little guy nodding.

"So... How is he?"

He kept his voice low, looking at the bathroom door again and then back at Mozz. The little guy shrugged.

"As good as he can be under the circumstances. Lucky to be alive like you. Arigosis never leaves witnesses behind. I'd watch your back."

He sounded almost ominous making the agent nervous. He had read the file after the fact so he knew the con wasn't trying to scare him but was telling him the truth. Fortunately they had caught and disbanded a good chunk of the tycoon's operations, or at least Ruiz and Organized Crime had after everything that had happened. Peter was glad it was over as he heard a door open and turned to see Neal coming out in his robe, pajama pants and slippers with a towel over his head as he finished drying his hair.

"Mozzie? I hope you didn't drink all the coffee June brought."

The young man sounded a bit irritable but not angry, moving the towel down to around his neck when he peered up and saw Peter there. His blue eyes held a look of surprise a moment before his glanced turned casual.

"Hey Peter... I didn't realize you were coming. Give me a moment?"

The agent nodded as he went back outside to the terrace and peered over the side at the view. It was a spectacular city scape that he was somewhat envious of but he would never let his partner know that. Cappuccino in the clouds was how he termed it as he thought back to that first day he'd found Neal Caffrey had moved here.

"Suit... you look a bit too thoughtful. Have some coffee."

Peter nodded as he turned and sat at the wrought iron with the con. Neal came out to join them a few minutes later looking between the two. There were only two chairs and both were taken as he moved forward and glanced at the nearly empty glass ewer of coffee.

"Sorry Neal, we started without you..."

Mozzie was matter of fact, Peter smiling slightly but standing up.

"Take my seat. I've been sitting more than I like the past week or so."

Neal nodded thankfully, as he sat down and Peter took a walk over to the edge of the terrace to look over the side again. It was hard to talk to Neal when they weren't alone not that he didn't like Mozzie but some things weren't meant to be public and he was bad enough with his feelings as it was. June took that moment to come in, her eyes spying the scene and motioning to Mozz.

"I wanted to ask your opinion on something, Mozz."

The little guy looked reluctant to leave his coffee, taking his cup with him as he followed her out of the room, the door closing behind them. Peter took his chance having seen June wink at him before she left. He took the empty seat that Mozzie left and poured himself some more coffee.


The younger man didn't look at him right away, his attention on something else a moment. He waited but when Neal didn't say anything he reached across and gently nudged his arm.

"Did you say something? Sorry... mind is elsewhere."

Neal looked tired, bags under his eyes and he still looked pale from his long illness. The doctor said he would get over it with rest and El and June had made sure he rested.

"Hughes said I should be back at work in another week or two. Just waiting for the ok from the doctor. Body's still a bit achy. How are you holding up?"

Neal looked up at him, blue eyes still a bit dull looking and his breath slightly wheezy even as the young man breathed normally.

"Good. Just tired all the time. I think you could have left the anklet off a while longer. This illness has been more than effective at keeping me within my 2 mile radius if not within 2 feet of my bed. I'm looking forward to some sunshine soon that isn't relegated from the skylight or terrace."

Peter nodded remembering his own healing that first week or so. El had babied him and he had been more than happy to stay within the house. He only left to walk Satchmo once but that was the one time El had to leave for a client meeting and couldn't walk the lab. Even that small walk had been a bit more than he thought till he'd built up his strength again. He knew exactly where his partner was coming from.

"Well we aren't beat yet. Arigosis is getting life and his operation is out of business. They caught everyone last I heard. I think we're ok on that front. Ruiz wanted to tell us thanks for helping him bust the case. He mentioned you to Hughes personally which says something."

Neal blinked, glancing at him curiously as he nodded at the comment. It was pretty much the same reaction he'd had when Hughes had called to say that. Hughes had told them well done and that they'd do more intel in the future to prevent other incidents like the last case.

"Wow... he thanked me. He didn't even thank me when I found that discrepancy that last time we worked with them. He pretty much told me to keep my mouth shut and move along."

Neal shrugged, Peter sighing in reply.

"Hughes said we did good work but he'll be sure to look into cases more carefully in the future. We definitely got more than we planned out of this last one."

He patted his friend on the shoulder, Neal nodding.

"So, want to take a walk or we could drive. I was thinking of checking out that cafe down the street."

Neal nodded with a smile.

"Sure but we're going to have to take Mozz. He helped us out quite a bit. Consider it your favor owed."

Peter rolled his eyes with a grin.

"Any time. He saved our butts with that voice changer much as I hate it it was useful. My only complaint, it sounded like he was trying to fake my voice. Want to comment on that?"

Neal blinked back innocently as they both stood up and started to walk back into the apartment.

"Scout's honor, I don't know why that would have sounded like your voice. Mozzie does things of his own volition. I'm not his keeper."

They turned at the sound of a cough noticing the door open and Mozzie standing there.

"Who's not my keeper?"

Both men looked at the other before Peter spoke with a mock sense of resignation.

"Just commenting about how you helped out on the case. Would you like to get some coffee? We're going to the new cafe."

Mozzie blinked, eyes looking at Neal who nodded as if to indicate it wasn't a trap before the little guy nodded back.

"Sure... I heard they have a gluten and lactose free menu too!"

Peter rolled his eyes at Neal who just grinned back as they all grabbed up their coats and headed out.

"I call dibs on the front seat!"

Mozzie's voice rang out when Peter turned and looked at Neal.

"We're walking... not driving, Mozz."

Mozzie turned to look back at them.

"No I meant in the booth. I want to be on the end in the front."

Peter looked at Neal again with a "do we have to bring him look?" Neal just shrugged.

"Fine... let's get going already."

Peter sounded more testy than he meant as they headed out June's front door into the crisp air. The sun was out and it was for the most part a pretty good day.

(The End)


Author's Note: Sorry for the delay on the ending. Been trying NOT to get sick as my head reacts to all the changing weather (sinus gunk) plus other distractions like work since it's been getting busier as it nears finals. Students start asking more questions and I have to go fix more stuff (Finals is when more things don't work or break down. Call it Murphy's Law!) :P I hope you like this ending. Thanks for reading! :)