It started with a nightmare, Neal twitching in his sleep as he lay on his back shaking ever so slightly. His arms seemed to be pinned at his side, although he was free of any fetters, as he fought to move but couldn't, eyes closed tightly.
"No... Please, don't."
He spoke softly, face tight as if he were in pain as the dream continued. Neal looked scared, eyes moving quickly back and forth beneath closed lids before they popped open and he sat up. Sweat beaded his brow, dripping down his temples as he breathed hard and tried to figure out what had happened.
Nightmares. They had started recently on their current case, one that reminded him of a heist he had done in his younger days. It was a memory he chose to forget or maybe he just let it fall to the side thinking it would never come to pass but now, the dreams were back.
"Neal... are you awake?"
June was at his door calling to him. He slipped out of bed, exhaustion from a night of fitful sleeping and nightmares taking its toll as he tiredly pulled on his robe and padded towards the door. He tried to give himself a quick glance in the mirror on the wall before practicing his morning smile as he opened the door.
"Hey June... kind of early in the morning. What's up?"
She looked tired herself, her normal smile a bit tight.
"Samantha. She's very ill. I need to go to the hospital to be with her. Will you be ok? The staff is off for the weekend. I left numbers of where I will be."
His landlady seemed like she was barely keeping it together as he hugged her gently and nodded.
"I'll be fine. Go be with Samantha. Call me if you need anything, June."
She nodded with a slight smile as they parted and he closed the door. Samantha had been doing so well, her new kidney about to be transplanted in the next week. He wondered if he should go with June as he turned to walk over to the kitchenette and start some coffee. He was up despite the hour, his eyes viewing the clock tiredly: 5 AM. It was Friday but he was off for once, Peter taking a day with Elizabeth to spend time with his wife. Neal had a day to himself and the weekend.
10 years... you will be cursed for your transgression.
He jumped, turning to see who spoke but nobody was there. He was being silly, Neal shaking his head as he finished setting up the coffee and moved towards the back hallway and the bathroom. He stopped at the walk-in closet and choose a pair of tan khaki pants and a light blue linen shirt. The weather was nice and he wanted to be comfy. Maybe Mozzie was free for something or Sara but she had been busy with her own business lately. They had the occasional dinner date but her job at Sterling-Bosche had been non-stop so he was lucky to see her once a month. He gave a sigh, laying out the clothes he wanted and ducking into the bathroom. He slipped out of the robe and silk pajamas and ducked under the shower, hot water warming him as he closed his eyes.
Suddenly he found himself underwater, his arms bound at his sides, lungs fighting for air as he was pulled down into the depths, something heavy attached to his tied legs. Neal struggled, the imagery so real in his mind as he fought for the surface and tried to breathe.
Steal from us and pay the price, thief...
Neal was still fighting when he came to, his body sore as he found himself on the floor of the shower. There was blood dripping down his temple where he hit his forehead against the tile. He had just been dreaming, his arms bound to his side, his legs were tied to a heavy stone as he sunk deeply into the water, the weight pulling him downwards...
It was a dream... nothing more.
That's what he thought to himself to push aside the worry. He had just slipped in the tub because he was tired. That heist was ancient history and curses... they didn't exist in the black and white world. He might live in the gray area but curses didn't exist even in his reality. He had been out of it with fever at the time so maybe his mind was just playing out the nightmares because the current case was so similar. He shook off the negative thoughts as he eased back up onto his feet. He was tired. He could go back to sleep technically but he was far from sleepy as he washed the small gash and dried off. He slipped into boxers and a tee, pulling his robe around him as he went out into the main room to finish dressing. There was a certain chill in the air which made him turn around cautiously in the empty room but nothing was there.
"Get a hold of yourself, Neal."
He sighed, pulling on his pants and socks, tucking in his tee and wearing his shirt out for once, half buttoned up as he went onto the terrace and stared out at the wakening city. It was already bright for so early in the morning as he peered at the glimmering buildings. Something bright flashed in his eyes a moment, blinding him. There was a moment he felt weightless before he felt hands grab him and pull him backward, holding him fast. Neal fought for a second, arms wrapped around him but he broke free as he turned and made out the faint outline of Peter Burke through his partially blinded eyes. The sky seemed so much brighter as he focused on his friend.
"Neal... what were you trying to do?"
The agent looked afraid of something, worried and concerned about him but he wasn't sure why, his memory just remembering the flash of light and nothing else until he felt hands grab at him him.
"Peter? What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be with Elizabeth today?"
He felt confused, looking at the clock on the terrace to see it was now almost noon. How had he lost 7 hours or was there more to this. Peter gently grasped his chin, looking directly into his eyes and then let go as Neal struggled to get free, pulling away as the spots before his vision started to fade and he could see better. He didn't like the look he was getting from Peter as if he had done something foolish or perhaps wasn't quite in his right mind.
"She's home with the flu. Not sure how but she woke up feeling poorly so she's in bed. El said I should come and see you. I'm glad she did..."
Neal still didn't understand why his friend was acting so strangely. He had just been looking over the side of the terrace. There was nothing else to say as he tried to figure out what was bothering Peter.
"Go take care of your wife, Peter. I'm fine."
He suddenly had this feeling he wanted to be alone, a sternness to his voice he didn't mean to express as he watched Peter gazed at him with that worried look again.
"I'll go if you tell me one thing..."
There was a certain tone there Neal found strange, narrowing his glance at his friend as the agent paused.
"Peter... what's wrong with you? You didn't just come here because Elizabeth told you to."
The agent shook his head.
"No, I did come because El said so. Neal... why were you standing on the ledge of the terrace?"
The tone of voice was concerned, worry evident but the words were what shocked him more. Standing on the ledge? Peter must be crazy to think... Suddenly something flashed in his mind, the bright light and slowly a voice in the background.
You are cursed. Nothing can save you from what your fate. Those around you will suffer loss until we are appeased.
He could suddenly see the cars below as if he had stood up higher than normal. It was only a flash of memory before Neal felt dizzy, strong hands keeping him upright until he found himself slumped back in a chaise lounge, Peter looking down at him even more worriedly.
"Something's wrong. Tell what's going on, Neal."
Peter had his phone in his hand but he hadn't started to dial yet when it rang, his eyes widening in surprise as he answered.
"El? Hun... what's..."
The agent looked upset, ignoring Neal for the moment. The con was still recovering from the odd voice he had heard in his head and the feeling he wasn't in control of himself but seeing his friend upset made him curious. Peter started for the door but he grasped the agent's sleeve, the agent stopping short.
"El... something wrong. I need to go home."
Peter looked devastated but he didn't immediately pull away as Neal nodded, standing up and finding he was feeling a bit more himself. His worry for his friends gave him strength.
"Let me go with you."
Neal wanted to help, feeling badly he hadn't gone with June when he had the chance but not wanting to leave Peter in his time of need. The agent nodded, grabbing him by the arm briefly as they headed for the door. Neal grabbed up his jacket, phone, keys and wallet as they exited. He felt his phone buzz in his pocket, picking it up as they approached Peter's Taurus.
"June? What's wrong..."
She sounded upset, the young man trying to hear her words as he slipped into the car and saw Peter staring at him curiously. The agent had his phone attached to the dash now, phoning a doctor it looked like with the hands-free option.
"I'm with Peter. How is Samantha?"
He kept nodding, listening as she told him what had happened. He felt the color drain from his cheeks as Peter glanced over. Neal didn't know what to think as he listened.
"I'll be there soon."
Neal hung up reluctantly, brown eyes meeting his as he turned and saw Peter in the middle of his own emergency.
"I just called our physician. He's going to meet us at the house. What's wrong with June's granddaughter?"
Peter looked worried despite his concern for Elizabeth and Neal himself.
"Samantha's very sick. It was sudden so she's at the hospital waiting to see what can be done. Her fever spiked up to 105."
He saw Peter blink, the frown on his face deepening as he heard the news and nodded, starting up the car.
"Let me check on Elizabeth first then I'll take you to the hospital to visit June."
Peter started up the car and took off, Neal nodding back in reply as he leaned back against the seat and stared out the window. June had sounded so upset but he couldn't blame her. Her granddaughters were her life. He hoped Samantha would pull through as he felt himself falling asleep, eyes heavy as he watched the passing city.
Discord will follow you wherever you go until the payment has been made.
The voice whispered coldly in his head, Neal turning to find he was no longer in the car but sitting in a dimly lit stone room. He wasn't afraid or surprised, standing up from the stone step he sat on and using a small lantern to guide his way. He had been here before, a place he had forgotten about amongst the many heists he had performed. He walked through the semi-darkness and slowly a pedestal appeared in the ring of light from his lantern, an ornate box sat on top. This wasn't why he was here but he was lost and tired, only instinct and greed leading him on. He gingerly reached for the box, an energy washing off of the item as his hands touched it. It was locked but that would soon be fixed. He pulled out his picks, fiddling with the heavy lock when a hand touched his shoulder and he turned to see Peter staring at him.
"Neal? You sure you're ok?"
The agent was giving him a worried look but he just nodded, his usual smile firmly in place. They had parked but he had been unaware of much of the trip as he had dreamed of the past.
"Just tired. Give me a moment?"
The agent nodded before exiting the vehicle and heading up the stairs to his home. There was a man already waiting there by the door, graying dark brown hair in a white polo and black pants. That must be the doctor he thought, a large black leather bag in their hands. They entered the home, Peter only looking back briefly at Neal before they disappeared inside. Neal thought about what he had been dreaming about as he finally released his seat-belt and slipped out of the vehicle. His mind was thinking about June's granddaughter and Elizabeth both being ill. It was an odd coincidence, his mind going back to what the voice said.
You are cursed. Nothing can save you from what your fate. Those around you will suffer loss until we are appeased.
The words rolled around in his brain, a flash of light off a window momentarily disorienting him until finally he came to, the sound of a car honking loudly as it woke him from his reverie. He turned to see a taxi heading straight for him as he quickly ran from the street and back to the safety of the sidewalk before the Burke home. How had he ended up in the road? Something was wrong with him, his memory fuzzy to several things as he finally moved up to the stoop and entered his friend's home. The door was unlocked as he peered inside and saw Satchmo was absent. Neal felt a strange chill in the air as he had at June's, the hair on the back of his neck standing on end.
He made his way to the stairs, looking at all the pictures of his friends happily smiling back as he slowly walked up each step. The cold chill seemed to increase the closer he got to the top. Neal walked down the short hallway towards the Burke bedroom, a room he had only been in once when he had gotten the copy of the manifest. It was something he still hadn't admitted to Peter, his shame at what he had done still bothering him.
Your goodwill cannot help until your fate has been passed...
The voice spoke from nearby, Neal turning to see the figure of a woman, dark and veiled passing into the same room he heard Peter talking in.
"El? Wake up... What's wrong with her? Why isn't she waking up... El, hun?"
His friend sounded despondent, upset as Neal walked over to the open door uncertain of what he might see as the chill grew and he shivered slightly. The dark figure joined another by the beautifully linened bed Elizabeth Burke lay slumped upon. Her hair lay messily around her face as Peter crouched beside his wife and tried to wake her. Neal wasn't sure he was seeing the two dark figures or just imagining them, two more he knew were real distracting him as the older grayer man spoke.
"Her fever is very high. I'm going to call the hospital to send over some IVs and other monitors. I don't think it's safe to move her while she's in this state but I will make sure one of my assistants stays to monitor her when I have to go."
The man's voice was calm with only a hint of concern and confusion. Elizabeth had been healthy only two days ago when Neal had seen her visiting at the office. There had been nothing wrong with her and now suddenly she was ill, the two dark female figures hovering around her. Peter and the doctor didn't seem to see them as he moved closer and heard one of them hiss back. He hesitated only a moment, reaching out for the one that gently caressed El's forehead, the woman twitching ever so slightly as they repeated the action. It seemed to be hurting her. He moved to pull them away and as his hand touched hers, he felt something cold, darkness washing over him like a tidal wave. Neal couldn't stand the feeling of nothingness as he yanked his hand away, Peter staring up at him curiously.
"Neal? She won't wake up... Elizabeth..."
The agent didn't seem to notice how he was staring at the dark figures and not El, black abysmal orbs gazing coldly back at him from the spectres' faces. He felt a certain pull there, one woman's hand reaching for his now while the other took her place near Elizabeth's bedside.
Accept your fate, thief. Don't let others suffer for your sins...
She held out her hand but he shrunk back, the other one continuing to caress the fevered brow of Elizabeth. She was paling by the moment but he was uncertain what was going on.
Neal turned to run from the room when he saw Satchmo laying in the corner. Suddenly the dog started to growl at him, sounding less like the sweet lab and more like a wolf. Peter turned briefly, surprise on his face as he saw what was going on.
The dog kept growling, Neal looking from the doctor and Peter uncertain what was happening. Something cold wrapped itself around him, a hand touching his neck.
Selfish man... your friends suffer when you should.
Neal felt the cold seeping into him, eyes rolling back as he collapsed to the floor. Satch continued to growl at him but now he realized the dog was looking behind him but it was too late. A cold hand continued to caress his cheek, a rush of feelings and memories of all the worse things flashing before his eyes until his mind could take no more and he passed out.
Author's Note: I found enough story in me to continue this. I'm also going to be working on something for LJ's White Collar Big Bang soon. Not sure what so look out for another story coming later on. :)