Summary: A bullet to the brain can rock your world, and not in a good way either, so when Neal wakes up with nothing but his own name, a paperclip and three caps, he knows he's screwed. Complete and utter AU set in a post-apocalyptic world.
Rating: T, likely to change to M in the future
Based on the PC game Fallout: New Vegas. And no, I don't own White Collar, just the computer this was written on and a version of the game.
Two pairs of hands push on his shoulders, forcing Neal to his knees. One on each side signaling that there is no way that he can get out of this one, not even with minimal injury sustained to his person. This must be the end all those other couriers spewed about. Thing is, Neal wasn't a courier, well, 80% conman and 20% courier. The conman side of his past introduced him to the man currently pointing a gun at his head, right between his eyes.
Mister "I-have-giant-bananas-for-hands" shoves his right hand into Neal's pockets, his left secured on Neal's right shoulder. When grabby-hands finds what he's looking for, he pulls his hand back with such force, that he actually tears the breast pocket halfway down. If Neal just happened not to be facing imminent death, he'd be giving this brute a piece of his mind.
Shifting in irritation at the manhandling of his clothes, and well, the fact that he's about to be shot between the eyes, Neal feels sharp rocks press into his knees. Neal can feel blood starting to escape his skin with the force that he's being pushed down. He wants to snap at the idiots, yell at them to stop pushing him into the ground, it's not like he's going anywhere and their force sure as hell won't push the earth down a fraction of a millimeter.
Mozzie always animatedly gave his opinion that Adler will get him killed one day. Neal never listened. Always one more day, a little more information, a few more caps, and now…now he's going to be another nameless body in a shallow grave outside of a shitty nameless, useless, middle-of-nowhere town in the middle of buttfuck nowhere.
Keller steps forward, pressing the action end of the gun right between Neal's eyes. The sharp contrast between the cold weapon and his overheated skin is enough to almost make him gasp. As much as Neal tries to convince himself otherwise, he's going to die in this godforsaken desert. No one deserves to be put down like a diseased dog, not even Neal Caffrey, conartist, thief, forger, liar extraordinaire. Mozzie would be proud with his inner monologue. Keller draws Neal's attention back when he cocks his gun, the sound quieting even the soft melody crickets in this graveyard are singing as tribute to the moon and stars.
"I had to kill three people to get to this Caffrey." Keller grins and shakes the package grabby hands liberated from Neal's now dead breast pocket. Keller slides the package into his pocket, the tiny chip inside never to be seen by Neal's eyes again, seeing as he knows he's one cheeky comeback away from ending up ghoul food. Neal forces his shudder down. The thought of insane, radiation infested, skin-peeled ghouls just sickens him.
Keller pulls a cigarette from a packet he stashed somewhere on his person, and lights it up. He probably got those from the Maggots. Damn useless junkies will do anything for anyone, just as long as they get their caps to buy the products needed to make their happy-juice. Maggots are worse than scum, but nowhere near as bad as Caesar's Legion. Maggots rape and then kill their victims or acquisitions as they like to call them. The Legion rape them, torture them and sell them as slaves. A fate far worse than death. In death you don't get passed around as a village bicycle where anyone can get a ride for the right amount of caps paid to the owner.
"Congratulations, you found it." Neal practically spits at Keller, only causing Keller's grin to grow wider. He's stepping closer again, crouching low to he can look Neal in the eyes without Neal having to crane his neck.
"Kate practically mewled the truth the moment I had my hands on her, around her, in her." The hatred in Neal's eyes flare, but he forces himself not to head butt Keller, knock some teeth loose and force him to swallow them down along with his own blood. But he doesn't. That's not how Neal Caffrey operates. Violence and weapons are beneath him, a statement people call him an idiot over, seeing as they live in a world filled with killers, rapists and monsters.
"Kate spilled everything, where to find you, what you were carrying with you… so quickly, so easily. It's too bad Caffrey, slitting her throat was like running a hot knife through butter." Keller grins even wider at Neal's horrified expression. Keller blows smoke from his nose straight into Neal's face.
"You won't get away with this Keller. Adler wants that package, and he's not above killing you for it. We both know that, even your idiotic goons know it." Neal bites back. Keller barks out a harsh laugh, nearly dropping his cigarette.
"Adler wants the package?" Keller leans in close to Neal, the overpowering scent of cigarette smoke, sweat and rotting cabbage fills Neal's nostrils, causing bile to move up his throat slightly. "Who do you think sent me?" Keller whispers, before standing up and moving a few paces back.
Neal feels nauseated, he can't be sure why exactly. The fact that Kate sold him out to this bastard, Adler basically signing his death warrant or Mozzie being right all along about Adler and Kate, that they'd both cause him more harm than they are worth. But Kate would never….
"Sweet dreams Caffrey." Keller practically purrs. There's a loud bang that makes his ears ring, a splattering sound and overpowering darkness surrounding Neal in less than a second.
Jones disappeared quite a while ago to sell their haul to the little brat running her daddy's local store. Sometimes Peter just wants to charge Sara the prices New Vegas residents pay for their haul, but he knows things are tight in Eadon. His pocket jingles. Peter wants to curse, but Diana is sitting next to him and he's sure that no matter how soft the utterance, June will most definitely hear him and smack him upside the head.
Peter shifts and his pocket jingles again. Damn caps. When the world ended and the little moles who hid in bunkers all over the world, crawled out of their holes like termites struck with a flash flood, the economy crashed and paper money had absolutely no use. So humanity resorted to one of the few things they had an abundance of. Caps. Yes, bottle caps. People learned the hard way not to carry too much on their person, in case a Raider or a Maggot got an earful of the jingle in your pocket. Before Peter can further internally rant his hate of the new monetary system, a distinctive pop sound fills his ears.
Peter jerks his head up at the familiar sound. Diana perks up too. They know that sound, they've heard it many times before, they've been the ones to make that sound too many times to possibly count. Peter stands, moving the bar stool he was perched on aside.
"Boss-" Diana starts, but Peter cuts her off.
"Stay here." Peter says gruffly before making his way to the creaky wooden doors of this fine establishment. He knows June does her best and keeps the place as clean as possible, but in Eadon, hell anywhere except New Vegas is impossible to keep clean and dirt free. They are in the desert for heaven's sake.
Peter closes the door behind him, stepping into the cool night air. The smell of smoke and vomit tends to cloud his senses along with the noise. There's a shuffling noise up on Eadon Cemetery Hill. Peter has a bad feeling that the awfully familiar sound came from that damned cemetery.
Pulling his 9mm handgun from its holster on his hip, Peter quickly and stealthily makes his way up the footpath leading to the cemetery gate, diverting only once he is roughly a meter from the light created by the torches surrounding the perimeter of the cemetery, ducking behind a scrawny tree before sneaking his way along the wooden bars.
Peter spots two large men push a limp body into a shallow grave in the middle of the cemetery. A third man, sucking on a cigarette stands off to the side. A shining silver weapon clutched lazily in his right hand as he stares up at the Eadon night sky, smoke escaping from his mouth, making him resemble a dragon. Peter remembers them from when his mother used to read him stories from the old days. It's his best memory of his mother.
"Don't bother burying him. Come on, let's go." The third man instructs the two elephant like men. "Nice knowing you Neal." The man chuckles and throws his cigarette into the shallow grave.
The men disappear down the path leading out of town and Peter waits. Five minutes seem to drag by before he emerges from his hiding spot to jog to the shallow hole in the ground, filled with a young man lying motionless and in an awkward position, right leg leaning over his left, right arm bent awkwardly in front of him, while his left arm is bent underneath his body. His face is only partially visible, dark floppy hair falling over his forehead. Peter muses he'd be quite the stunning sight to behold, if it wasn't for the hole in his head and blood seeping into the ground.
Peter bends down, pulling the young man up by his right arm, hooking both hands under his armpits once he can reach his left side. He's learned enough from Hughes to know that he should get the body to him as quickly as possible before the ghouls smell his blood and flood into town killing everyone.
Peter pulls the young man fully out of his grave and carries him bridal style out of the cemetery. He hurries quickly down the path leading into town, taking a left, up to Hughes' house. It's not like he can knock, so Peter kicks harshly at the door until Hughes furiously yanks the door open. He looks ready to yell at whoever is bothering him at this godforsaken hour, but once he sees Peter covered in blood from the shoulder down, a young man with floppy hair cradled in his arms, he shuts up, telling Peter to move his big ass into the surgery.
Peter sets the young man down and backs away. Hughes bends over and examines the wound. The last thing Peter expects is for Hughes' face to light up and to reach for his worn black rubber gloves.
"What the hell are you doing?" Peter demands when Hughes pulls his tray filled with operating tools closer.
"Whoever tried to kill this young man used regenerated bullets. You know how their quality is horrible, and their effectiveness isn't that of new bullets, so that's why they're cheaper too. Cheapskates tend to be stupid as well as cheap." Hughes replies with a glint in his eyes. "Here, help me." Hughes hands Peter a piece of equipment he's never seen in his life, but does as Hughes tells him.
"Hold the entry wound open with these." Hughes explains when he sees the confused look on Peter's face.
"Are you telling me this guy is still alive?" Peter asks, his astonishment evident in his words and on his face.
"That I am Burke that I am."
AN: Soooo…my first chaptered WC fic.. Everything will be explained in detail later on, I swear. There's only that much I can get into the first chapter without spoiling everything.. Thank you for reading, and please leave me your thoughts!