NOTE: Sorry this took so long.


White Collar : The Eye of Sita

Chapter twenty-nine

Jolted awake into a haze of pain Neal bit down hard on the cloth still between his teeth from. Blind and disoriented he couldn't decide if his head or hip hurt more. His senses were being assaulted by a screeching noise that slowly revealed itself to be some sort of music being forced on him by a pair of earbuds. Neal's headache was being made worse by the second from the incessant base thumping and distorted electronica.

The dangerously high volume music made it difficult to concentrate on what was happening in his surroundings. The Ketamine wasn't helping his mental acuity at the moment either. Deciding that he was still laying on the cold floor of the van he tugged at the restraints that Daniel had tied. With a bit of effort he managed to free his hands.

Neal instantly went to tear off the headphones to stop the pounding music. His wrist was instantly captured by a strong hand to stop him. With very few options available he bit down on his attackers hand. A bright flash of pain against his temple informed him that it was not his best plan. Neal did his best to remain conscious but he quickly lost the battle.

The next time Neal fluttered his eyes open he was greeted by a view of a white ceiling. Still suffering from the headache, the relentless throbbing in his hip, and now a similar pain across his temple Neal just closed his eyes again. He suddenly felt someone run their hand gently through his hair. Opening his eyes Neal looked up, Daniel looked down at him with an expression of concern. Daniel was sitting on the floor allowing Neal to use his lap as a pillow.

"You alive, Neal?"

"Unfortunately," Neal moaned "Ugh...I can still hear that horrible noise."

"Noise?" Daniel asked before remembering the headphones dangling around his neck. "Oh, yeah, that's the iPod. They used them to keep us from figuring out where we were gong by sound, kinda clever actually. They let me keep it."

"It's torture."

"It's 'Skrillex'."

"Torture." Neal repeated as he closed his eyes again.

"I kinda like it." Daniel chuckled.

"You would."

"Next time I'll ask them to have some Mozart on hand for you."

"That would be better." Neal agreed.

"Hard to believe you were born in Texas, clearly a mistake in the Universe." Daniel clucked. "You were always meant for New York."

"I miss New York."

"I bet."

"What about Liam?"

"He's safe. I'm sure Peter has him by now." Daniel assured. "I can never thank you enough for trading your life for his."

"We're not dead yet."

"It's the fact that you were willing to that counts."

"Any idea where we are?"

"No, but hopefully Peter does." Daniel replied. "I'm sure he does if that thing under your skin is doing its job."

"What did you do to me?" Neal asked annoyed. "My hip is killing me."

"Before I tell you, please understand that I didn't know it was going to be you at Glass' house."

"Daniel, what did you do?" Neal repeated in alarm as he sat up.

"I may have broken into a veterinary clinic and stolen a subcutaneous animal companion tracking device."

"Animal companion?" Neal asked.

"It's made for dogs." Daniel admitted.

"Feels more like it's meant for horses."

"Yeah, that's why I grabbed the Ketamine. The needle for that thing was as thick as a pencil. It's not designed to be in the muscle."

"I noticed." Neal said ruefully as he gingerly rubbed his hip.

"Is it really painful?"

"It's not comfortable, but I've certainly been through worse." Neal sighed as he took his hand away from injection site. "How does it work? If I didn't know about it, how is Peter supposed to know to look for the signal?"

"I...uh...I kinda of registered you on a national database as Peter's dog."

"What?"

"They'll call in the morning to confirm his ownership of a white male mutt with blue eyes."

"I am going to kill you." Neal snarled darkly.

"What? It might save our lives."

"I am *never* going to hear the end of this." Neal groaned. "I bet I get at least six dog collars on my next birthday."

"One of them will be from me." Daniel smiled brightly. "Speaking of which did you get the birthday cards I sent you?"

"The blank cards, that was you?"

"They're not blank."

"I tried everything to reveal an invisible ink on them."

"Silver nitrate."

"I tried silver nitrate."

"Did you peel the card apart first?" Daniel asked with a smug smile.

"I didn't think of that." Neal admitted.

"Try it sometime."

"How do you know I still have them?"

"By knowing you."

Neal was forced to smile. He did still have the cards, at least the ones that he hadn't destroyed by trying to develop the invisible ink. Neal looked around the small featureless room. There were scuff marks on the floor along with a few small scraps of paper. The door was nothing special, just an average interior door. The room was lit by a double strip florescent light.

"Not exactly a high security cell, eh?" Daniel asked as he noticed Neal taking in their surroundings.

"No. Looks like a basement storage room."

"My thoughts exactly." Daniel nodded. "I could break that door down with my shoulder, and now that you're awake I think will."

"I assume there is an armed guard outside."

"Only two. I can get them both without any trouble."

"Get them? Daniel, no killing."

"What do you mean 'no killing'? They are going to kill us."

"We are better off waiting for Peter. Whoever these people are they need us. They want that statue finished or they wouldn't have bothered with having you bring me and it here."

"Correction: they need you."

"They must still need you or they would have killed you by now."

"They know who you are, they know who I am. They'll threaten me to get you to finish the statue."

"There will be no need for threats. I'll work on the statue to buy us some time."

"Neal, right now we are under very light guard. We shouldn't rely on Peter to get us out of trouble, he needs to be a last resort."

"Murdering two men needs to be our last resort." Neal said firmly.

"Men? No, 'scum'. Neal, these people kidnapped and tortured my son."

"And they'll all be arrested, I promise you that."

"I don't want them arrested!" Daniel spat. "I want them dead!"

"So you're just going to go through the building slaughtering everyone you come across?"

"Pretty much, yes. That was my plan."

"Plan? Wait, you didn't bring the GPS tracker with you to Glass' to help rescue the artist he hired, you did it to track these men down to kill them."

"Yes."

"No." Neal insisted. "No killing."

"You act like these men's lives mean something. The world will be a better place without them."

"That's not the point."

"What is the point?"

"The point is..."

Neal stopped as he heard a key grinding in the simple lock on the door. Daniel narrowed his eyes and got to his feet. Neal scrambled to his feet as quickly as he could and put himself in front of Daniel. He could see that Daniel was preparing to launch himself at anyone who came through the door. More than worrying about Daniel killing someone Neal was also concerned that Daniel would get himself killed in the process.

"Daniel, please."

"Fine." Daniel sighed in defeat.

The man who had lead the group at the abandoned parking lot stepped into the room. He looked more bored than anything else. Neal got the distinct impression that he was just a high level hired hand. The man orchestrating this preferred to keep his hands clean. The leader looked Daniel and Neal over before making a motion for them to follow him.

"Let's go." He demanded.

Neal could see Daniel's jaw line sharpen as he ground his teeth in barely contained rage. Trying to keep the situation from escalating Neal put his hand on Daniel's chest before turning around to follow their captor. Making a noise of irritation Daniel agreed to follow peacefully. The two armed guards brought up the rear.

There was nothing in the long hallway to suggest that they were anywhere other than a random office building basement. Each door had a small tag with a number next to it. Eventually they came to a stairwell and went up three flights before stepping out into another hall. This one was well decorated with rich red carpeting. The doors had electronic card locks on them, and brass plates with number on them like a hotel.

"Fancy." Daniel noted.

"Quiet." The man hissed.

Coming to a door at the far end of the hall the man pulled out a card and slid it through the lock. A small green light on the lock let him know it was open. Pushing the door open he stepped aside to let Neal and Daniel pass through into the room. The room was a large hotel suite that had been stripped of all furniture and decorations. The door that lead to what Neal assumed was a patio had a thick piece of plywood nailed over it.

What impressed Neal the most was the fact that they had managed to get the half done statue into the room unharmed. Up against the right was was a pile of boxes that Neal assumed were filled with sculpting supplies. Sitting at the base of the statue was the box of diamonds that Glass had given him.

"Finish it." The man demanded.

"Alri..."

"Why should he?" Daniel interrupted. "You're just going to kill us when he's done."

"Death is not the worst thing that can happen to you."

The man gave his men a silent order and they approached Daniel. Neal had little doubt that Daniel could quickly bring down both men, but to his surprise Daniel made a clumsy attack and was quickly given a powerful strike to the ribs. Doubling over Daniel fell to his knees with a cry of pain.

"Daniel!" Neal rushed to put himself between the men and his fallen friend. "There's no need for further demonstration of violence, I'll work on the statue. Just leave him alone."

"Ask the men outside for anything you require."

The leader turned away and left with the others. When they were gone Daniel got right back to his feet. Neal had feared he was badly injured, he'd never seen Daniel dropped to the floor so quickly. However Daniel looked no worse for the wear.

"Why did you do that?" Neal demanded. "There was no need to bait him like that."

"It would look suspicious if we just cooperated."

"True." Neal admitted. "How are your ribs?"

"Bruised but not broken." Daniel replied as he rubbed at his side. "So, how long can you stall working on this?"

"I could spend a lifetime on the statue."

"What?"

"Leonardo da Vinci once said 'Art is never finished, only abandoned'."

"Neal...you are *such* a dork."

"Listen just because I pick up a book every once in a while..."

"You're right, I'm sorry." Daniel held his hands up in surrender. "But seriously I don't think these guys are going to wait for you to 'abandon' this."

"We shouldn't need more than a few hours after Peter gets informed that his wayward 'mutt' has been located."

"Good. I'm sure it is morning by now."

"So we only need a few hours. I'm going to get started so that they don't feel the need to come in and actually break any of your ribs."

"Sounds good. I'm going to get some sleep if you don't mind."

"I don't."

Neal was surprised when Daniel decided to sleep with his back against the door until he realized that it meant that no one would be able to come in the room without waking him. Neal briefly wondered if stealing secrets was the only thing Daniel did for the NSA. He spoke about killing the guard so casually. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts Neal went over to the boxes to find the supplies he needed.

Six hours of work later Neal was ready to start embedding the diamonds into the still soft clay. Daniel stirred and sat up to stretch the kinks out of his back. He looked up at the statue with a concerned look. Neal flashed him a sad smile.

"Neal, have you been working really fast or have I been sleeping for hours?"

"You've been sleeping for hours."

"Not good. Peter should be here by now."

"I know. I've been thinking about that. I have a theory, and I think I just figured out a way to test it."

"Oh? Do tell."

Neal put down the sculpting knife that Daniel had been sizing up. He let Daniel know that he wasn't about to let him use it as a weapon by picking it back up and tossing it into one of the open boxes. Daniel rolled his eyes. Neal went over to the door and knocked. It opened and one of the guards stepped into the doorway with a gun leveled at Neal's heart.

"What?" The guard growled.

"I need some hot tea."

"Tea?" The guard repeated doubtful.

"Yes. Hot. No sugar. No milk."

The man just stared at Neal.

"You're boss said you're to get me anything I need." Neal pointed out. "Well, I need this. Daniel, you want any?"

"Um...no."

"Just the one then." Neal informed the guard. "Thank you."

The guard hesitated for moment before nodding and closing the door. Daniel came up to Neal and looked at him expectantly. Neal just smiled brightly and said nothing. It took nearly fifteen minutes for the man to return with the tea. As Neal expected it came to him on a silver tray in a silver pot with a white china cup. Neal accepted the tray and took it over to the statue to sit down and pour a cup of the bright amber colored tea. He brought the cup up to his face and took a deep breath.

"Neal...what the hell are you doing?"

"Confirming my suspicion."

"You have a suspicion about tea?" Daniel asked doubtfully.

"Sort of."

"I've never understood you." Daniel shook his head sadly.

Neal took a sip of the flora and muskily fragrant liquid. The slightly astringent tannic tea was thin-bodied, yet amazingly flavorful. He opened the tea pot and inspected the loose leaves that were floating in the hot water. There was a large amount of long wiry tip leaves, the highest of whole leaf quality.

"Well?" Daniel asked. "How is it?"

"Amazing. It's authentic Darjeeling."

"So?"

"So you rarely see Darjeeling of this quality outside of India."

"Neal, I think I would have noticed a sixteen hour plane ride. We're not in India."

"No, but I'm willing to bet that we are at the DC India Embassy."

"That's not good."