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o o o

Title: Vice Collar
Author: Amory Puck (pucktheplayer on LJ and Tumblr)
Pairings: Peter/Neal, Peter/El
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: angst, h/c, slash, dub-con, non-con, slavery, graphic sex

Summary: When Agent Peter Burke of the Vice Collar division agreed to acquire the contract of slave-turned-conman Neal Caffrey, he'd really only wanted him for his insider knowledge on the world of illegal slave trade. Neal, however, is determined to give the agent more bang for his buck to insure that he'll never have to play prison slave again, eventually kindling a fire between them they hadn't even known existed. (AU slave!fic)

Author's Notes: This is an AU world where slavery is legal. Vice Collar is the division of the Bureau who handles things like illegal slave trafficking and catching masters who use their slaves to commit criminal acts. Before anyone asks, no, Neal is not going to be a passively submissive slave who rolls over for everyone, but he's not going to be a liberationist, either. He'll still be full of sassiness, however, even if his motives for it may not be the same as canon!Neal.

o o o

Chapter 1: Slipping the Leash

His Mistress was his everything. When she left, he was nothing.

Preparing for his escape had taken over a month of careful planning. It would have taken longer if prison slaves weren't seen as somewhere between slugs and cockroaches on the evolutionary scale, and only reason they placed above slugs being that they didn't melt when you sprinkled them with salt.

Prison slaves were a commodity, like toilet paper and mouthwash. Most were rejects from open auctions, picked up for a quick buck. They usually had something wrong with their heads that made them worthless for better work, like maybe Mama Slave had stolen a few sips from Master's liquor cabinet while they were brewing in her tummy. How they looked didn't matter much, so they could even take slaves who would be useless for brothel work. The guys in the cells didn't care much about things like that, as long as they were small enough to make for an easy fuck. Most of the men in orange weren't pillow biters on their own time, after all. The system just wasn't kind enough to give them ladies. Though they did tend to have a certain affection for Neal's pretty features. He spent a lot of time being called 'Ladyface.'

According to the smug asshole who'd dragged him in here, prison slaves reduced inmate on inmate rape by at least 75%. Fantastic, huh? Hey, it was always good to be needed.

Neal had to say, being a prison slave sucked, literally and metaphorically. Though the rotating schedule only had him servicing inmates twice a week, it wasn't really time enough to heal the crap that Fat Ronnie liked to do with his toothbrush. Neal could only hope that the pervert didn't use the thing on his teeth afterward. No, scratch that. He hoped the SOB *did* use it on his own damn teeth. Let the bastard get a taste of his own medicine.

Prison service was bearable, though, or it had been, back when he'd still had the shining light of his Mistress at the end of the four year long bitch tunnel. It had been a slap in the face when, just a few months before his release, Mistress had shown up at the prison and let him know that they were over, that she had sold her contract, and that he would be put up for auction upon release.

Neal had been shocked. When he had first been called on his crimes, his contract had automatically transferred from his Mistress to the federal government for the next four years, the basic sentence for a first offense. A criminal contract, they called it. He had expected his beloved owner to abandon him then. Most owners would have, but Mistress had just hugged him close, kissed the top of his head, and promised to visit every week until he was hers again. She was amazing like that.

In his youth, Neal had been trained for sex, or 'pleasure', as they called it in uptown, but there was a big difference between having his body offered up like a fine wine at a high society party and being forced into filthy cells once a week to be raped by inmates with untamed pubic hair and serious body odor problems. He had been astounded at Mistress' compassion when she'd said it didn't matter to her, that he would always be her most treasured possession.

Then came That Day. That Day Mistress had arrived as usual, but instead of her usual whispers of comfort, she had thrown him away like the trash he'd become and Neal didn't understand why. If she'd planned to sell him, why spend almost four years making promises of their reunion? Why waste time to visit him so faithfully? It made no sense, no sense at all.

When Neal had still had his Mistress, he'd been willing to suffer through. Even Fat Ronny's smelly cock down his throat hadn't been enough to break him. He'd just remembered Mistress' angelic face, the gentle curves of her hips, the bountiful heft of her breasts, and it had been enough to pull him through. But That Day had changed everything.

Neal clipped another hunk from his beard, staring stonily at himself in the tiny mirror. His heart was pounding like mad, every thump from the corridor making him flinch, eyes flickering to the doorway. He worked as quickly as possible, 'til his face was once again the smooth picture of beauty that had always kept his Trader's Suggested Retail Price so high. Though now that 'prison slave' had been added to his pedigree, Neal wasn't sure what his TSRP value would be. Ten dollars? That's about how much he felt like his ass was worth when the inmates pushed him to the ground and climbed aboard like he was a freaking yacht.

Finally clean shaven, Neal grabbed a small sack from the floor, ditching his traffic cone orange scrubs for a hard-earned PSS uniform. He'd had to suck Bob Hamilton six times on his off days before the oversized lug of an inmate agreed to jump the Public Service Slave that delivered the toilet paper and steal his clothes for Neal. Poor guy was probably still tied up somewhere in the guts of this shit hole prison, but Neal didn't have time to feel sorry him. Fellow slave did *not* equal friend, especially not when Neal's ownership depended upon it. He had to see Mistress.

Neal stuffed the scrubs in the back of the toilet, using the dirty water to slick his mass of curls into something more manageable, then straightened the front of his ugly tan jumpsuit. Grabbing the keycard he'd rewritten using the tape player a guard gave him in exchange for a three hour fuck, Neal squared his shoulders, staring at the bathroom door like it might grow teeth and chew him to pieces if he tried to step out.

This was it. If he went out now, it was done. If he was caught, the guards could kill him on the spot if they wanted to. And he was pretty sure they *would* want to, just for making them look bad. Why not? He was only a slave, after all, and sometimes they died. It wasn't like offing an actual inmate or anything.

It was time to be brave.

'Mistress, Mistress, Mistress.' Neal chanted the word in his head as he took a step out the door, forcing himself to throw his shoulders back and saunter down the hall like he owned it. Pulling a con was all about acting natural, acting like you belonged. Hiding the terror inside was par for the course.

As he passed a bank of prisoners working on some sort of machinery, Neal saw Ronny give him a long look. Time seemed to freeze as he stared back at the obese bastard, trying to keep himself from puking as a disbelieving look crossed the man's fat face. He couldn't get caught now, not when he was this close to seeing Mistress again. Please, please, please…

After what seemed like forever but couldn't have been more than a few seconds considering that Neal was still walking down the hall, Ronny gave him a tiny thumbs up, a grin spreading across his face as he ducked his head back down and went back to doing… whatever they did on those machines.

For the first time since he'd arrived here, Neal had an incredible urge to hug Fat Ronny. For this he would forgive the man every sharp, angry thrust of that damnable toothbrush. He was going to see Mistress again.

At the security gates, Neal lifted up his keycard, sliding it quickly. The door popped open with a buzzing sound and Neal stepped through, holding his breath as the light in the guard box began to flash and beep, alerting the dozing fat ass that a slave had passed through the gates, the electronic registration chip embedded in the back of his neck setting off the scanners.

The guard blinked over at him lazily and, seeing his PSS uniform, waved him through with a sour face, eyes drooping back into sleep.

As Neal slid his card through the final gate, he was hit with a rush of adrenaline at the realization that he was one step away from *real* slavery, not this farce of a government system that kept good stock like him shut up with slaves who could count their IQ scores on their fingers and toes. He was one step away from being slave Neal Caffrey, property of Mistress Kate Moreau once again.

The gate opened with another buzz and Neal choked down the urge to run across the concrete of the parking lot, whooping. He needed to stay calm; he hadn't made it yet.

It didn't take long for Neal to hot wire an old van—anything made before 1998 was a flippin' breeze—and he was off, wind whipping his hair as he slipped in a cassette tape, grinning broadly at the irony of the old soul song that began to blare.

"Hold on, I'm comin'!"

o o o

Agent Peter Burke scowled as he watched the safecracker turn the knob, his every movement achingly slow. This was taking forever and, as badly as he wanted to catch the Dutchman, El really was going to kill him if he missed dinner tonight. Some of her friends from her art gallery days had purchased a new baby boy last week to be a playmate for their seven month old son, Kevin, and they were holding a 'Forever Home' party for the little slave. El had made it very clear that his attendance *would* be required.

After spending all day working in the Vice Collar division, the last thing Peter really wanted to do was go hang out with a bunch of artsy fartsy types who believed in keeping lifetime contracts on slaves so that they would always serve the family in their 'forever homes.'

Not that Peter didn't think it was a cute idea-very Humane Society meets PETA meets open adoption, but he spent all day dealing with the scum of the slave trade. It was his job to track down slave owners who used their slaves to commit crimes and pin down the illegal markets that were so common in the slave trade, not to mention keeping a close eye on big slave trade corporations like SlaveMart and Adler Industries. Slave traders had very dirty hands, indeed, and Peter honestly didn't want to have to think about it at all when he clocked out. That was one of the reasons he and El hadn't even purchased a shared contract for a house slave. Peter just wanted to leave it at the office.

But Macy and Jacob were no doubt ecstatic to have another little boy to play with, and Peter didn't want to ruin their joy with descriptions of how the supposedly metaphorical concept of purchasing a 'whipping boy' for your child rang true with some of the richer elements of society. Of course, having 'youth companion,' the modern version of 'whipping boy,' listed as the suggested product use on your papers was a hell of a lot better than what some child-slaves ended up with.

Just last week Vice Collar had raided the house of a slave trader they'd caught selling slaves already trained in sex work who were way under the legal age. Their registrations had been faked, the chips in their necks stolen from God knows where and implanted on the fly, as attested to by the small scars on their necks.

Twelve was the minimum age for a slave to be assigned 'sexual entertainment' as the suggested product usage section of their registration papers, but that didn't stop people from selling them under the table. And while training and selling child-slaves for sex was not an uncommon thing, actually having enough evidence to bust a trader was a rare triumph.

Truth was, it was just too hard to build a damn case. A slave's testimony wasn't admissible in court, though it was sometimes enough to get them a search warrant, but it was a rare day that any slave would speak against their owner anyway, no matter how Peter begged and bribed. He didn't know if it was loyalty to whoever held their contract at the time or fear that it would get back to the major slave trade corporations who, in all odds, would eventually own them again, but slaves did *not* want to talk.

Though your average joe might not know the kind of stuff that went down in the major slave corps, there wasn't a slave out there who didn't know that if the corporations got wind of any disobedience toward an owner, there would be major repercussions. And by 'major repercussions,' Peter didn't mean a slap to the face. Those companies worked off of their reputations for providing well trained slaves, and they didn't play around when it came to disobedience and rebellion.

Vice Collar wasn't an easy job, not at all, but there was a reason he did it, first and foremost being the chance to catch scum like that trader they'd taken down. Peter still couldn't bleach the image of at least a dozen kids sitting in cages, stripped naked and collared, watching the raid in complete silence with heads politely lowered and hands clasped behind their backs. From their reluctance to break position even when bullets were flying and people were shouting, Peter had to assume they'd been in training at least two years or more. Considering that one of them couldn't have been more than six, that was pretty stomach-turning.

"Okay, the first number is… 3."

Peter sighed, glancing at his watch again. He really needed to get out of here if he wanted to make it to the dinner on time, but dammit, he was so close to the Dutchman that he could almost smell the bastard. El wouldn't kill him if he was a few minutes late.

"And a 2…"

There was an excited murmur as fifty Harvard grads shuffled around, practically vibrating with anticipation. Peter… he was just tired, to be honest. The Dutchman really was like a damn ghost. They had finally managed to decrypt a message from him to the criminal trader they'd busted last week, leading to this safe. When they had run a web scan for similar encryptions, they had come up with links to over a dozen slave traders suspected of illegal trafficking. If they could get the Dutchman, they'd have a chance at taking them all down. Very exciting, but still not enough to get Peter's energy level up. The long hours were killing him.

"Okay, and the last number is…"

Peter took a deep breath, tugging nervously at his tie. They were so damn close…

"It's a 4. The code is 3-2-4!"

Cheering broke out amongst the gathered agents, and someone slapped Peter on the back, but he just frowned, something nagging at him. He should be thrilled, but… Something was wrong. What was wrong? 3-2-4… 3-2-4… The code was 3-2-4…

Oh, shit.

"Don't open it!" Peter shouted, waving his hands like a madman. "Don't open—" His words were cut off by a blast, followed by a huge cloud of dust raining down on them. "Dammit!" Peter shouted, throwing his phone to the ground just to make himself feel better. "Dammit, people! I said not to open it! What the hell is wrong with you?"

Maybe it was a little harsh, considering that everyone was still coughing and trying to make each other out through the dust cloud, but Peter was pissed. Really, really pissed. He was going to be late to dinner because of a fucking setup! El was going to have his balls because of a goddamn setup!

"B-Boss," Jones managed to croak out, wiping at his eyes. "H-h—" He coughed loudly. "How did you know it was gonna blow?"

"3-2-4," Peter said flatly, gritting his teeth. "The combination was 3-2-4." Everyone just stared at him, puzzled looks on their face, and he let out a loud sigh. "Look at your damn phones. 3-2-4. What does it spell?"

"FBI," Jones said after a moment of fumbling with his cell. He sounded pissed. Good. At least now Peter wasn't the only one pissed. Maybe he could take Jones home with him and let El rip *his* balls off. "It was a setup."

"Yeah," Peter said dryly. "It was a setup. Dammit! All that time, we're this close to the Dutchman, and BOOM!" He threw his hands up to emphasize his point, not that it needed emphasizing considering that there was still a shimmer of dust floating in the air around them.

Peter scowled, catching a glimpse of something on his jacket. He grabbed it, raising it up so he could look at it better. It was definitely plastic, though since it was only a sliver he couldn't tell any more than that. "Does anybody know what this is?" He questioned, holding it up. The group stared at him blankly, and he rolled his eyes. "God, how many of you went to Harvard?" Hands started to go up everywhere and Peter gritted his teeth again, shaking his head. "Don't raise your hands! God, someone get this to the lab and figure out what the hell it is. Jones—"

His directive was cut off as the new girl—Diana?—suddenly pushed her way to the front of the group, a serious look on her face. "Boss," she said, voice low. "I need to talk to you."

Peter sighed, gesturing toward the mess behind him. "Now is really not a good time—"

"Boss," she cut in again. "Neal Caffrey's escaped."

The words took a moment to sink in. Neal Caffrey… had escaped? From a goddamn government contract job after almost four years playing the good slave? She had to be kidding him. "Please tell me this is a joke," he said, rubbing tiredly at his forehead.

She shook her head, mouth quirking up a little at the look on his face. "Sorry, Boss."

Great, just what he needed. El really was going to kill him.

o o o

"This is where they stuck him?" Peter questioned, eyeing the prison with disdain.

The man nodded, pushing his glasses up his pointy little nose as he flipped through some paperwork. "Yes. It was determined that a prison setting would be compatible with his skill set in every way. His criminal training could be contained while making use of his registration's original suggested product usage."

"What the hell does that even mean?" Peter muttered, making a face as they came to a stop outside the main gate, looking in on a filthy yard. What the hell could they possibly use Neal for here? Peter guessed it depended on what 'Neal Caffrey' was registered as having been trained in. He'd chased the slave under a dozen different registrations, with his suggested product use listed as everything from 'culinary arts' to 'administration skills' to 'garbage transportation.' He was the best con-artist that Peter had ever seen, despite being a damn slave.

Peter still wasn't sure what 'Neal Caffrey'—if that was even the slave's real name—was registered as having trained in since his current Mistress, Kate Moreau, had refused to allow him to view Neal's registration without a warrant. Since there was no evidence whatsoever that the crimes Neal committed had anything to do with Ms. Moreau, Peter hadn't been able to get a warrant for her property. Neal was a criminal on his own orders, something very rare in a slave. Usually that sort of thing was beaten out of them in training. The slave corps were harsh like that.

It was kind of amazing how much you could know about a person without really knowing anything at all. Back in the day, before they had a clue who he was or that he was even a slave, they had called him James Bondage, since he was always stealing expensive bondage equipment from rich slave masters, museums, auction houses… anywhere, really, as long as it was expensive and slave-related. A sort of a joke on them, Peter guessed, though it had backfired in the end. His insistence on stealing only slave-related items was how the profilers had figured out that their conman was a slave himself. A silly mistake on Neal's part, but now that Peter had met the slave, he figured the boy hadn't been able to help himself. He was just cheeky as hell, through and through.

It was only after they'd realized James Bondage was more like James *in* Bondage that they'd figured out his biggest con. Forget selling yourself in an interview, Neal Caffrey had flat out been selling himself. He'd come up with a new persona, lure in the customer, send the payment to an offshore account, then rewire his chip with new information and take off back home to his Mistress. He managed to sell himself every time.

Those roguish good looks *were* pretty damn irresistible, Peter couldn't argue with that. He wasn't attracted to men, but that slave just had something about him that made a guy want to smile. And possibly fumble with the crotch of his pants. In a completely heterosexual way, of course.

Peter had tracked the slave for three years before he'd managed to snag the little bastard trying to sell 'Nathan Gerrit,' a twenty year old slave whose suggested use was 'house work' and who just happened to have Neal's face. When he'd finally caught him, Peter'd been surprised to see just how beautiful he really was, despite the many eyewitness descriptions. The pictures they had really didn't do him justice. But hey, it explained why people were willing to pay so much for a slave whose registration listed their suggested product use as 'window washer.'

El had spent plenty of time teasing Peter about his Neal Caffrey obsession during his years chasing the man, especially after she'd seen photos of the handsome slave. It was true, Neal had managed to get into his head more than any other criminal he'd tracked. There was just something attractive about a person who could lower their eyes respectfully, call you 'sir,' and still sound snarky as hell. It intrigued Peter, a slave with as much free will and bravery as Neal had. Most slaves were too afraid of the whip to use their head like Caffrey.

Oh, and did he mention that Neal was astoundingly beautiful? In a very much heterosexual way, of course.

Peter sometimes wondered how the man had avoided ending up a sex slave. Maybe he had been awkward as a child, or had bad acne as a teen or something. It wasn't exactly professional of him to root for the criminal, but Peter was kind of glad the slave had ended up a conman instead of in some brothel somewhere. While he wasn't exactly anti-slavery, sex slaves in particular rubbed him the wrong way, and he liked Neal well enough to be glad that the man hadn't ended up as *that.* A four year criminal contract was nothing compared to a lifetime locked up in a cage waiting for someone to pay your master for a fuck.

It did strike Peter as odd, however, that they'd put Neal in a prison. Usually slaves under criminal contracts got the worst of the government jobs, not actual jail time. They cleaned the sewerage pipes, gave donations of non-essential organs, worked over a hundred hours a week in factories, served as human furniture at country clubs, and did a million other jobs that no free man in his right mind would want to do. He had never heard of a criminal contract job at a prison, though. Maybe they had decided he was too dangerous for anything outside of eight foot fences topped with barbed wire and stuck him in as an inmate?

"So, tell me again what happened?" Peter said, glancing over at the prison administrator.

The man ran a hand nervously over his bald head as they were buzzed through the gates. "It went down this morning. Caffrey woke up, shaved off his beard, put on a Personal Service Slave uniform, and walked out the door with a keycard he'd made with a cassette tape player."

Peter frowned deeply. "How did he get a PSS uniform?"

The man's pudgy little cheeks turned a deep red color. "Uh, we found the PSS tied up naked in one of the janitor's closets this morning."

Huh. Tying up innocent slaves and stealing their clothes. Didn't really sound like a Caffrey thing to do, but whatever. "What do you mean he shaved his beard? Neal Caffrey doesn't have a beard."

The man's brow furrowed up. "Um, from what I can tell from the video tapes, he'd been growing it for awhile… About a month."

Peter's eyebrow shot up. "Oh? And what happened a month ago? Anything?"

"Hm…" The man chewed nervously on his lip. He *should* be goddamn nervous, having let a criminal slave waltz out his front door. "Ah, I believe he had a visitor… His Mistress? She came every week, though, so nothing unusual." He paused, cocking his head to the side, a strangely off putting look coming over his face. "Except she hasn't been here in awhile. I always remember her when she comes. She's very beautiful." He smiled widely, nose wrinkling up in an unattractive way. "Very, very beautiful. Especially her legs. And her breasts. And her thighs."

Peter grimaced. Great, he was stuck with a pervert. "Yeah, yeah, okay. How about you show me those tapes?"

o o o

Neal stared down at the bottle, not sure whether he wanted to clutch it to his chest or break it into a thousand pieces.

She was gone. She was really gone. Mistress had left him. He wasn't hers anymore.

A tear trickled down his cheek.

It was all over now. He would go back to that horrible place for at least another four years, that is if the government didn't decide to make a lesson out of him by putting him down in the middle of the street or something dramatic like that. A bullet to the head, maybe? Or a slice to the throat? Those were some of the kinder deaths that the government gave rebel slaves.

Not that Neal was a rebel. In fact, he considered himself to be among the best of slaves. There was no one in the whole world he cared more about than his Mistress. Everything he had done had been for her. That's why he'd done it all without her permission, so that if he ever got caught none of the blame would fall on her.

Maybe it made him look like a rebel, but he'd had Mistress' best interests in mind. She deserved to have anything she wanted, anything at all. She deserved to wear diamonds and drive fancy cars and drink the wine that *really* came in that old bottle.

"Hey, kid."

Neal started at the voice. He wasn't surprised they'd caught him, but he hadn't expected it to be quite this fast. He craned his neck, eyes widening as he took in the man standing behind him.

Strong was a good way to describe Agent Peter Burke. Neal had been trained as a youth to submit to anyone, but Agent Burke was the kind of man that *really* made a slave like Neal want to get down on his knees. It went beyond his big shoulders and beefy hands to a confidence deep within. It was the way he held himself, the way he walked, the way he practically radiated that he was The Man In Charge. Agent Burke had very masterful qualities, and being around him made Neal feel both safe and vulnerable at the same time. The man made him want to submit.

He knew it was just a gut reaction born out of his training, and that men who were willing to hurt you were *not* a safe haven just because they protected you from everyone else. Suave, intelligent conman Neal Caffrey knew that well. But they'd started the brainwashing young, and it took a certain amount of effort for Neal to push past that emotional barrier to something more clear headed, especially when it came to Agent Burke.

It irritated Neal, how the agent's mere presence made the broken little boy-slave he'd once been want to rise up and take over, leaving him groveling at the man's feet. That was why he did his best to be as sassily cocky around the man as possible, despite the fact that doing so kind of scared the shit out of him. He guessed he was just masochistic like that. Ain't nobody gonna keep Neal Caffrey down. Not without ropes, anyway.

It certainly didn't surprise Neal that Agent Burke had been the one to find him. The man had chased him relentlessly for three years, like a cat playing with a mouse. Except Agent Burke hadn't really been playing and, in the end, he'd shown his claws. The mouse had gone down, hard, and the cat had taken home its prize.

There was no doubt in Neal's mind that Agent Burke was behind his prison slave contract. Agent Burke was a powerful man who commanded respect, and the prison contract was a perfect way for him to remind Neal that he was the weaker man. Talk about a double whammy, locking him up behind bars to cut him off from everything *and* putting him down in the most degrading way possible, all without having to lift a finger himself. Very masterful, indeed.

Neal didn't know whether to hate him or admire him for it. It was one of the many twisted side effects of the sort of intensive slave training he'd received: A tendency to appreciate the people who were best at knocking him down. But it was hard *not* to appreciate Agent Burke, so powerful and intelligent and handsome… If he hadn't locked Neal in a room to be gangbanged for four years straight, even his more clear headed self might find the man attractive.

"Hello, Agent Burke," Neal said, bowing his head politely, not feeling up to the playful banter that had become their usual form of communication once Neal had decided that he was *not* going to let this man see how much he simultaneously frightened and attracted Neal.

"Hello, Caffrey," the agent replied dryly, shaking his head as he looked around the empty apartment. "Funny seeing you here."

"Hilarious," Neal agreed, lifting his head up to look at the man, a sick feeling growing in his gut as he imagined what the prison warden would do to him when he was back in the pen. No doubt this was a huge embarrassment for the balding, weasel-eyed bastard. Good bye off days, hello spending every day, all day butt naked in the communal showers. He swallowed hard, pushing the images away. No need to imagine; he'd be feeling it soon enough. "Weren't you wearing that suit the last time you caught me, sir?" he questioned, pasting on a jaunty, carefree smile that he didn't feel at all.

"Hey!" Agent Burked said, pretending to be offended as he tugged at his lapels. "The classics never go out of style."

Neal gave a soft snort as he rolled his eyes, not caring if it was disrespectful as hell. He was about a hour away from having his ass reamed by every fat inmate in E Block and this was the man who'd put him there. He'd damn well be disrespectful if he wanted to.

"What's with the bottle?"

Neal looked up at the agent again, surprised by the question. Or, to be more precise, surprised by why Agent Burke gave a shit. Okay, technically slaves weren't allowed to consume alcohol, but he doubted that the FBI gave a damn if he'd sipped a little vino in his days.

"It belonged to Mistress," Neal said, reaching out to gently grasp the bottle, cradling it against his chest. "When my Master at the time left my contract to her, she couldn't afford anything like this." He stroked the glass, wishing desperately that it was Mistress' face, her breasts, her legs, her feet… anything. "So we would go to the grocery and she would buy that cheap wine in a box. I'd pour it into this bottle and serve her, and we'd both pretend it was fine wine." He sighed. "It was a promise, I guess, of what Mistress would have someday, a promise of a future where I would serve her the wine she deserves."

"And what does it mean now?" Agent Burke asked, voice curious.

Neal set it back down on the floor, pushing it away from him. "It means goodbye, sir," he said softly.

The silence stretched between them for a few moments before the agent spoke, his voice matter of fact. "You know you're going to get another four year criminal contract for this, at least."

"I don't care," Neal said, voice sharp and angry as he was struck by a sudden desire to throw that damn bottle across the room. "Sir," he added belatedly in an attempt to diffuse the harshness of his words to the other man. He took a deep breath, forcing himself to relax, buring his face in his hands so that he didn't have to look at Agent Burke. If the man was enjoying Neal's pain, he didn't want to see it. "It was worth it, to try and find Mistress."

The words didn't ring quite as true as Neal would have liked, little slivers of doubt rising up in his mind even as Neal tried to pound them down. Had it been worth it, really? With just a few months left on his prison slave contract he'd taken off like a lovesick fool, as if a slave has any right to decide who owns him, totally ruining his chance of escaping the hell hole Agent Burke had stuck him in. Or, to be more fair, that he'd landed himself in after committing about a thousand crimes. But who cared about being fair? Agent Burke was an easy target when it came to the blame game.

Neal rubbed his eyes, wiping away the unshed tears. It had been worth it. It *had* to have been worth it. Otherwise Neal had just wasted his life. He loved Mistress, and she loved him. It was worth it for her, had to be worth it for her. Except… except she'd promised that she'd never sell him, ever. But she had. Mistress didn't want him anymore.

A tear ran down Neal's cheek and he rubbed it away with his shoulder, hoping Agent Burke wasn't looking. He was already the helpless one, the slave at the free man's mercy. He didn't need to give the already so-powerful Agent Peter Burke any more to hold over him.

It was just so hard to hold the tears in. Mistress was gone, and he was going back to hell. He was going back to prison slavery, possibly forever if the government wanted.

"Okay, come on then, Caffrey," Agent Burke said lightly, gesturing for Neal to stand.

Neal obeyed like a good slave, placing his hands behind his back, right hand clasping the left wrist, and dropped his head. It wasn't like there was any way out of this place. He hadn't been trying to get away, not really. If he had, definitely wouldn't have come here.

Time to go back to hell.

Agent Burke reached out, wrapping an arm around Neal's shoulders in an almost comforting way, directing him toward the door.

Neal blinked back more tears as the simple motion of walking made his ass ache terribly, the cuts inside of him from Wednesday's fuckings still not totally healed. God, this was horrible. He'd worked so hard to escape, and within twenty-four hours he was going to be right back where he started, playing bitch to some oversexed bully. He hoped that Agent Burke had a real good time jerking off at night to images of Neal on his knees, choking back the vomit as dick after dick plundered his mouth. At least then one of them could be happy.

Something caught Neal's eye as they walked past the window, the fading sunlight flickering against a small piece of plastic on Agent Burke's suit. He stopped abruptly, breath catching a little as his admittedly brilliant mind began to whirl, eyes locked on the plastic. If that was really what it looked like… Maybe… maybe there was a way out of this after all.

The government held Neal's criminal contract. Agent Burke worked for the government. Neal's contract could be given to Agent Burke. Agent Burke worked in the Vice Collar division. Neal knew pretty much everything there was to know about the vice surrounding collars. It would be a win-win situation if he could somehow manage to convince Agent Burke that his ass was worth more serving him than serving a bunch of prison fuckwads.

"Sir," he said, voice a little breathy as he turned toward Agent Burke, plucking the little plastic strip from his suit. "What is it worth to you if I tell you what this is?"

Neal held his breath, hope surging through him. There was no way that Vice Collar had the info on this tech yet. The only reason that Neal knew about it was because yesterday Mozzie had visited, spending the whole hour going on and on about the Canadian conspiracy to wipe out the indigenous population of Alaska. Oh yeah, and also about their advances in the slave trade.

Seriously, there were days that Neal was really grateful for his former trainer's insanity. And insane Mozzie certainly was. 'A liberationist slave trainer,' he called himself, as if that made any fucking sense at all. He wouldn't let Neal call him 'Trainer' or 'Master' or 'Sir,' but, he'd trained Neal to be the perfect con artist. Everything Neal knew, he'd learned from Mozzie. Well, except the parts involving sex. Neal had learned that stuff at a much, much earlier age, but Mozzie didn't want to know about that stuff so Neal didn't talk about it.

Agent Burke stared down at him, eyes suspicious. "You know what it is, Neal?"

Neal licked his lips nervously. He was treading in dangerous waters here. By law, he had to tell Agent Burke anything he knew because he was a government slave. But that would mean showing his hand before the game even started.

He had to ease into this, especially since the agent probably wasn't going to like Neal's little flash of inspiration. He was, after all, the one who'd set him up to be a prison slave, implying that he'd want Neal to *stay* a prison slave. But Neal had heard stories of slaves with criminal contracts helping out various government offices. Okay, well, they were more like myths than stories, but he'd grasp any straw as long as it would keep him out of the hell so innocently labelled 'The Personal Entertainment Room'.

"You know that you have to tell me anything you know, boy. It's your duty as a slave."

"And I will!" Neal said quickly, putting on his best face, flashing his million dollar grin. "I will, sir. I just… I want one thing in exchange."

"You're a slave," Agent Burke said, shaking his head. "I don't have to give you anything. I could just tie you to that pillar over there and whip the skin off your back with my belt if I wanted to." His tone had a hint of teasing to it and he looked more amused than serious, but it still made Neal's stomach lurch.

It would be okay. Even if Agent Burke did decide to strap him down and beat him, a belt definitely wasn't the worst he'd ever had. Hell, it wasn't even in the vicinity.

"Trust me," Neal said as evenly as he could manage. "I am very aware of your power here, *sir,*" he put an emphasis on the word while simultaneously shooting Agent Burke a somewhat condescending look, forcing himself not to finch when the man rolled his eyes. Again with the masochism. "I'm just asking. One little favor to help you out."

The agent sighed, and for a second Neal thought he was going to hit him, despite showing no actual signs of being riled up. The man was just so big, so strong, so *powerful*. And nothing made Neal as nervous as big, strong, powerful men. But the blow never came.

"What do you want, Caffrey?" Agent Burked asked, sounded a little tired, like he was ready to go home.

Neal's heart sped up. "I want you to visit me, at the prison, in one week. That's all I want, okay? Sir? One little visit, sir, and I will tell you what this," he lifted up the piece of plastic, "is."

Agent Burke stared at him for a long moment before letting out another sigh. "A visit. That's what you want?"

Neal nodded rapidly. One week would give him enough time to come up with the best way to reel Agent Burke into his plan. He'd also have time to think about what a man like Agent Burke would want in a slave and make sure he fit the mold perfectly. Though he wasn't entirely sure he *wanted* to think about what a man who sent slaves off to be raped by hundreds of men would ask of his own personal slave.

Neal pushed that thought away. Even if Agent Burke was as kinky as hell, it couldn't be as bad as having at least thirty men a week fuck him up the butt. Not unless the man was using an unhealthy amount of Viagra, anyway.

"Okay, fine. I'll come see you in prison in a week." Peter sounded exasperated. "So tell me. What the hell is that?" He pointed to the plastic.

Neal couldn't quite hide his self-satisfied smirk. "It's the bio-plastic covering for the new Canadian slave registration implant."