In A Moment

Written, spellchecked, etc. by JanieMarple.

Standard disclaimer: I do not own White Collar, nor any of the characters therein, all non-recognizable characters are not up for grabs. Yes this goes AU and yes there is a pairing in it that is AU. Don't like it? Don't read it. Originally written as a gift for my best friend.

Neal didn't even consider running, all night, GPS tracker or not. He did not want to go through that again and he did not want to be curled up somewhere not knowing where he was if he did run. Rae did put the new tag on him in the morning, and he could have cared less. He was in no shape to give it a run for its money. And it was maybe a little more stylish than the one he'd worn before.

Peter came to get him at six. Rae handed Peter the medications Neal needed for the day, with the times and instructions written on the bottle. Peter looked at it in disbelief as they headed out to the car. "Geez Neal, you're pretty well drugged, I don't know that I should take you to the office at all," Peter said. "Don't know how I'm going to remember this crap, either."

"I can help, Peter, I want to go," Neal pleaded. "Well alright then, you keep an eye on these yourself," Peter said, handing him the bottle. Neal tucked it in his coat pocket.

The Taurus wouldn't start. Peter swore. Rae came down from the house. "Just leave it, Peter, you can take one of the other cars," she said.

Neal immediately wondered if she'd sabotaged the Taurus. "Rae, if I'm just tooling around in the damn thing it won't be any good for a sting," Peter protested.

Rae shrugged. "The Scaglietti is getting repainted next week. It'll be good as new after that," she said. Neal's ears perked up.

"Scaglietti?" he asked. "Ferrari Scaglietti? The real deal?"

Peter sighed and nodded. "The real deal. You can't have it, Neal," he said quickly. Neal was about to protest, but thought the better of it, because at the moment he couldn't drive one anyway. Peter wouldn't let him out of the Taurus to watch Rae set up the Ferrari to go. Rae had to be doing something to all of the cars, what that was Neal wasn't sure, but it had to be something interesting if they'd let him live here around nice vehicles. Peter finally retrieved him from the Taurus and they got into the Ferrari to go to work. Neal was filled with glee at the idea of tooling around in a Scaglietti.

"Frickin' bitchin' car," he muttered, having to smile.

"Don't get used to it. I'll have the Taurus back this evening," Peter said flatly. "Rae will get it fixed."

"I hope it dies again," Neal said brightly.

Peter scowled. "You're lucky you're hurt or I'd smack you," he said. "I just like the sexy Italian car better," Neal chuckled, holding up his good hand in surrender.

When they got into the office, people were a little surprised to see Neal yet, but he went right back to work with Peter. And he was considerably less useful than usual, simply because he wasn't entirely with it due to the medications. But Hughes had insisted he earn his keep, so he was here, mostly as a paperweight. Peter was a little surprised by how quickly Neal tired out, and how sensitive he was. It didn't take much for Neal to get cold, shivering in his corner without voicing a complaint because he knew it was only him. And it didn't take much of a change of tone of voice for Neal to shrink back, not sure of himself. Neal was considerably better than he had been, but he was still far from recovered.

Neal shouldn't be here. Not yet. He was too breakable. And there were more than a couple people who would love to exploit that. And that was just here in the office. Around one, Peter called Rae. "I know I'm bothering you. But do you have a little time to come get Neal? He's not holding up well," Peter said.

"Sure. On my way," she said.

Neal was happy to see her. He just wanted to lie down and sleep, and that wouldn't be appropriate here in the office. "Come on, Neal, let's go," Rae said simply, and Peter handed him off. And Neal was glad to be picked up in the Mercedes, too, because that was far more comfortable than the Ferrari.

They hadn't been gone long at all when Hughes walked into Peter's office.

"Where's Caffrey?" asked Hughes, not seeing the convict in Peter's office. "Neal? I had Rae come get him. He's really not with it yet," Peter said, looking up from his mountain of paperwork. Hughes looked annoyed.

"Either he earns his keep or he goes back to prison, I'm not going to molly-coddle a felon," Hughes said sharply. "Hughes, he's a day out of the hospital, he can't do everything yet..." Peter started.

"Call Rae and tell her to bring him back," Hughes said sharply.

"Hi Rae, um, can you bring yourself and Neal back? Hughes wants to speak to him," Peter said, somewhat uncomfortable with this. "Sure, I'll just turn around, be there in three," Rae said simply.

"Reese you can't just send Neal back to prison right now, he's recovering from nearly losing his life in a botched op," Peter protested. "If there's no point in having this kid out of prison, he doesn't need to be out of prison," Hughes said.

Peter almost gaped at his boss. How was Neal going to stay where he was safe?

"Alright, Neal, listen to me. This doesn't sound promising. You stay here in the passenger seat, and don't move a muscle. And if you run, there's not a damn thing Peter or myself can do to help you," Rae said flatly, pulling into the parking lot again.

"Can you leave the heat on?" Neal asked sheepishly. "I'm actually going to leave the car running," Rae said simply, parking it where it was easily seen from Peter's office window. "Trust me, Neal, when I come out we're headed home."

She dug through the console, pulling out a sheaf of paper. "You promise you're not taking me to prison?" Neal asked softly. Rae looked at him in surprise. "What? No, I won't do that," Rae said. "I can promise that as long as you don't move and the car doesn't move."

"Then you have my word, such as it is," Neal said. "Good. Don't unlock the car unless it's me or Peter, alright?" Rae told him, and got out, marching quickly across the parking lot.

Peter and Hughes were arguing in Peter's office as Rae walked in. A feeling akin to anger flared within her, she was getting very tired of Hughes pushing his limits as far as what he thought he could make the agents do. She walked right up there, papers still in hand.

"Rae, where's Caffrey?" Hughes asked as she walked in. She pointed out the window to the parked car.

"Right there," she said. "Well that works. I want you to take him to the prison, we're not keeping him as a pet and if he's no use here there's no point in keeping him at all," Hughes said.

"No," Rae said firmly.

Hughes gaped. "Agent Gilmore, are you being insubordinate?" Hughes asked in shock. "No. I'm standing completely within the rights I'm given by my legal responsibilities in this situation," Rae said.

Peter looked at Rae in surprise. So there was steel beneath that ice. Very, very sharp steel. "And what rights exactly do you think those are? Caffrey is bound by the law as Agent Burke's consultant and he's only on lease from the prison until Burke can't use him," Hughes threatened.

"These ones," Rae said, placing a sheet of paper on the table that outlined her rights and responsibilities as a patient's legal guardian. "That's null and void, Caffrey is able to make his own treatment decisions now," Hughes said.

"These ones too," Rae said, laying down another sheet of paper from the Bureau underlining her responsibilities protecting the witness to a violent crime who may still be threatened.

"Actually, how about all of them." she added, laying all the sheets of paper on the table.

They pretty squarely made Neal her problem until he was well. "And what if he runs?" Hughes challenged.

"Caffrey is sitting in a running car. It hasn't moved," Rae replied, pointing to the Mercedes still sitting there.

"It's only a $128,000 car," Hughes scoffed. "Yes, and an FBI asset," Rae said. "Why the hell should we coddle Caffrey?" Hughes protested.

"Because the FBI asset sitting in that car is worth a hell of a lot more than the car," Rae hissed. "Caffrey is easilly worth 128 million. I'm not going to let you just throw that away by putting him back in a prison when he's basically helpless and mentally fragile."

Damn Hughes, she just told you.

Peter was really quite happy to see that Neal now had another agent to go to bat for him. And Rae had really done her homework on this. "I've half a mind to fire you, Gilmore," Hughes spat. Rae raised an eyebrow. "Really Hughes? That's impressive. If you were my boss I might care," she replied. "You know I don't answer to you."

Now Hughes gaped and took a step back. Rae was actually playing her cards now. Peter was more than a little surprised to hear it. There'd always been scuttlebutt that Rae was on loan from another office and she didn't have a superior here. Rae had never confirmed or denied that, but she was definitely throwing down the gauntlet now.

"I've half a mind to report you for violating basic medical guidelines," she added. "Since Neal shouldn't be back at this office for weeks yet."

Hughes had no response. She'd kicked him to the curb and back, and all Peter had done was be an audience. And the car was still running, and Neal was still in it, and it still hadn't moved.

Damn, the Ice Princess knows what she's doing...

"Now, gentlemen. I bid you good evening. Peter, I'll email you an update on those codes you needed when I get home," Rae said, and headed back out.

Neal was quite happily dozing in the passenger seat, warm and drowsy, serenaded with classical music. Rae pulled the spare keys out of her pocket and opened the driver side door, quietly sliding in and putting the car in gear to take Neal home.

Don't ever wake the lioness if you think you want to mess with the things under her care. Rae was typically very calculating, very quiet, very laid back, at work at least. But she could get pissed off. It wasn't really that easy to push her that far, but she could be pushed that far. That sleeping pretty boy in the passenger seat? Yeah, she owned him now. That was officially her property. You did not want to push it where he was involved now.

Possession is nine-tenths of the law.

She kept the trip mostly to the nicer roads so Neal wouldn't be jostled much, and when she finally pulled into the driveway she felt a little bad that she'd have to wake him. She parked the car and shut off the engine, then walked around to the passenger side of the car. "You're gonna have to wake up, Neal," she said quietly, gently tapping his good shoulder.

Those aquamarine blue eyes snapped open, startled. "Come on Neal, let's get you to bed for real," Rae coaxed. "What'd Hughes want?" Neal asked sleepily as she helped him out of the car.

"Anything but you," Rae chuckled.

"I think he needs better coffee. Or more coffee. Whatever comes first," Neal yawned. Rae shook her head and rolled her eyes, parceling Neal off to bed, and when she was sure he'd gotten there, she got back to working on those codes for Peter. Her cell phone rang, and it was Peter's name that came up.

"Yeah Peter?" she asked, answering the call. "How's Neal?" Peter asked.

"Sleeping," Rae said, looking across the hall to the small form curled up in bed.

"Did you change his tracker?" Peter asked. "Yes. He can't break the one he has on now," Rae replied. "That explains a lot." Peter chuckled. "What, the actual triangulation that has his location down to inches?" Rae laughed. "Yeah. I kind of like it," Peter admitted. "Codes are coming your way as we speak," Rae said, hitting send.

"Alright great. And Rae, thanks for sticking up for Neal," Peter said. "It's much easier when you're not the only one."

"I don't think he's half what Hughes thinks he is, honestly. Caffrey is far more fragile than most of them realize, but it is what made him so successful," Rae admitted. "Very clever, but there's only so much that wiry body can do."

"It's not the body you have to worry about, it's the mind," Peter warned.

"Oh I'm aware of that. I'm eager to see what a little trust can do, though," Rae said. "I think if we handle it right, Caffrey is going to be quite the cornerstone if he wants to be."

"If he gives up on chasing after Kate, maybe," Peter sighed. "There is of course always that," Rae agreed.

"Well alright Rae, thanks for the codes, and keep Neal out of trouble," Peter said. "Sure thing," Rae replied, and hung up.

She watched Neal breathe, laptop balanced on her knee. He might be a convicted felon, and he might be guilty of everything they had ever suspected him of, but somehow, somewhere in there, Rae thought there was a salvageable person.

Somehow, Neal, you are going to have to find a purpose in life that is honest.