Past Haunts: Chapter 24

Ok, hoping to knock your socks off here... It's the final chapter! I stayed up late tonight finishing it up just for you! Thank you to all who have stuck by through this whole thing. I greatly appreciate the support and please, feel free to send me suggestions. You never know, what I might post next ;)


Warnings: -_- really guys? you should know the warnings by now...

Disclaimer: I don't own white collar, just this plot line and OC. *sigh*

The Finale

Frank It was Frank Neal almost passed out right then and there from shock. He couldn't take it. What more could happ- No. He didn't want to know.

Frank growled as he was shoved into the room. His blue eyes shone dangerously at anyone he could see, then... he saw Neal. His sneer deepened.

"Always screw everything up; dontcha? Must be one of your special gifts." He turned to Crowley. "Alright. I'm hear. What do you want?" Anyone who didn't know Frank as intimately as Neal did, wouldn't have noticed the subtle way he shifted feet, or how tense he really was under his ratty denim jacket. It was a very rare sight, but not unheard of. Frank was afraid.

"It's good to see you, Frank. Been a long time, hasn't it? Glad to see that you got my invitation." Frank crossed his arms over his broad chest.

"Well, how could I refuse? Though I must say," Frank spared a glance at a too-shocked-to-move Neal. "Your...motivation for showing up was a bit lacking." Crowley laughed, full out laughed. His cackling went on for some time. Neal was full of dread and closed his eyes, praying for his nightmare to end. Crowley finally reigned himself in and clasped a hand on Frank's shoulder, making sure to keep a bruising grip on it as he spoke.

"You are one frigid man, Mr. Smithson, almost as frigid as my old man. I figured you would at least come to get me off of your back. Now, to business." Crowley's arm slipped around Frank's shoulder conspiratorially, and he leaned in close, as though sharing a secret.

"You stole something from me. It was taken by the FBI. You stole it back from the FBI." Crowley walked them both over to stand in front of Neal.

"Neal, here, is the only one able to open the box, and the only one able to get you to come out of hiding. Getting the picture, Mr. Smithson? I'm sure Neal has by now. Haven't you, Mr. Caffrey?" Neal was too out of his mind to even nod. His thoughts were bouncing around and getting all tangled together. He knew his only hope at this point was for Peter to come busting through the door. Peter, hurry!

"Mozzie, hurry! " Peter, Jones and Diana were all pacing behind a racing Mozzie. The bald man had shown up a half hour after Peter had called, but they had had to wait another hour and a half to get the clearance and equipment they needed. Suffice to say, they were all on edge.

"I can not work any faster under duress, Suit, than I already am." He had been at it for a while, too long in any case, and had hit every block he could. Mozz growled in frustration. "They have to have used a cloaking device along with the jammer. I need to scramble that before I can locate the jammer's signal and disable that." His fingers flew across the keyboard.

It would be another hour and five more crumpled dixie cups of coffee before he did it.

"Got it! Got it! 7th and Brackton! There's an old construction site owned by a Uriah Black, one of Crowley's aliases. Neal is there! " The agents didn't need any further prompting. They were down in their cars, sirens blaring in a matter of minutes. Mozz could only pray they got their fast enough.

Obadiah had the box in his hands and was casually observing it. His men had been working the con over for thirty minutes, and he still wouldn't budge. Neal had refused to help, unsurprisingly, and had to be... motivated. That was where they were at now, but Crowley was not known as a patient man.

"Stop." The fist raised slowly lowered itself back down and rested. The only sound was Neal's heavy breathing as his nose dripped blood onto the floor. He turned and spit a glob of red over the arm of the chair, making sure to aim for the muscled man's shoes. Crowley smirked.

"Now, now, Mr. Caffrey. Manners." The man turned to Frank, who had been a silent observer through the whole process, and had been not so subtly been casing the place for escape routes. Needless to say, he hadn't found any. "Mr. Smithson, perhaps you would like to motivate him into helping us, seeing as it is your life on the line here." Frank met Neal's eyes, liked the fear he saw in them, and knowing he had no other way out, happily accepted the offer.

"It would be my pleasure," he replied as he walked up to stop right in front of Neal. When Neal lifted his eyes to try and appear undisturbed and defiant, Frank shot a hand out to squeeze around his throat. He tightened his grip until Neal was tearing up and turning red rapidly. Frank let his other hand travel suggestively down the younger man's barely covered chest, his shirt taken as being unnecessary. Neal squirmed in vain.

"You will help, boy. This was my plan to start with. Mr. Crowley just happened to pick up the pace a bit. So," His wandering fingers found a fresh bruise and pressed as hard as he could manage. Neal's sapphire eyes bugged out, and his hands fought against the restraints, wanting to reach up and claw Frank's iron hand away from around his neck. "You will do this, Matty. Your hands are the only thing that have any worth about you. Well," His hand finally released his wind pipe, allowing him to catch a breath. Frank brought it up to brush brown curls out of the way, then taking a fistful of them and ripping Neal's head back.

"You've always had your mother's pretty looks." He leaned in real close so only Neal could here his next words. "And you are such a slut, just like her. You are nothing, yet I took you in. I gave you all you would ever need, loved you even, and this is how you repay me? No, you will do this. You owe me."

Something inside of Neal snapped then. His time with the Burkes had pulled him out of the dark corner of self-loathing he had buried himself in so many years ago. They showed him that he had people that really cared about him. He had a family. He wasn't nothing, not anymore. He turned and glared at Frank, then spit in his face.

"I owe you nothing." Frank's eyes burned with the brightest rage Neal had ever seen, but he met them without hesitation. He wasn't afraid anymore. He wasn't alone anymore. He was free.

Frank lost it. He lashed out at Neal with all he had. Neal had lost consciousness under the barrage, but that didn't stop Frank from hitting him.

Crowley stood back, slightly amused for a few moments, until it seemed he would lose the only one who could do the job he needed done. He stepped forward, calling to his men to pull Frank off of Caffrey, when the door burst open

Neal was in and out. All he recognized was pain, leaving him blind and deaf to all else. Then... it stopped abruptly. The last thing he heard before he let go of any sort of awareness was,
"FBI! "

Peter couldn't get the car to go fast enough, though Jones assured him that if he pushed on the gas pedal any harder and jumped onto any more sidewalks they would be flying instead of driving at break neck speeds. Peter was sure the higher ups were personally keeping track of how many people dove out of the way of his car so they could list them one by one in a hearing. Well, he thought, he couldn't care less about that. He just needed to get to Neal.

They finally reached the address Mozzie had given them. The building was tall but completely bare. A quick peek at Neal's tracking anklet system (Mozzie had 'cleared the air' for them, leaving them able to actually make use of Neal's jewelry) showed them he was on the ninth floor. Peter checked to make sure the ambulance was standing by; they didn't know what state they would find Neal in, but either way, Peter wanted them here and ready. Without looking back to see who followed him, Peter ran inside the building, gun drawn and mind already playing in his head what he was going to do to the monsters that had his son.

They went straight for the stairs. By the time they reached the fifth floor, Peter was praising the Lord for those cardiac exercises he learned in FBI training. He was breathing heavily, but he had a strong suspicion that it was not just from the exertion but from his fear and worry. His son was being held and having who-knows-what done to him. Peter's face hardened. Someone was going to die today.

On his way up all of those steps, Peter made a promise to himself. When he gets Neal out of there (there would be NO 'if'), he is going to make sure the young man understands his place in the Burkes' hearts. Peter doesn't want him to think he'll have to deal with all of this alone. He and El will be there for him every step of the way. They will stand by his side, his family.

It was with an adrenalin and anxiety induced trembling hand that he pushed open the thick steel door when they reached the ninth floor. His gun was up and cocked like that.

"FBI! On the ground NOW!" He rushed in, Jones and Diana right on his heels. Peter didn't even register the burly men with guns around them. (They were smart enough not to fire on a group of federal agents.) He didn't see the very man they had been setting a trap for standing off to the side looking furious, yet trying to hide it under a smug smile and noxious cologne as the closest agent slapped cuffs on him. Peter only had eyes for what was directly in front of him. His vision was soaked in red. It was like he had blinked, and then he was being pulled off of Frank Smithson's unconscious body. His knuckles bore the marks of many powerful, well-aimed blows, as well as Frank's face.

"Peter. Peter, Boss! You gotta stop!" Peter felt an immediate desire to growl at the other agent, but with a deep breath or two the want dissipated. That's when his mind jogged again, and he lost his breath.

"Neal!?" Peter pushed past everyone else. A couple of agents had gathered around the unconscious man in the chair and were trying in vain to rouse him. Diana saw her boss's trajectory and deftly pulled the two out of the way. Peter didn't even notice. He fell to his knees in front of his son, unfelt tears running down his cheeks. Peter placed his hands on either side of Neal's face and stroked his cheekbones gently. He knew Neal was alive due to his ragged breathing, but that wasn't enough. Peter needed to see his blue eyes looking back at him.

"Neal. Buddy, come on. You need to open your eyes for me. Come on." Nothing but breath after ragged breath. He felt something die a little in him in that moment. A gentle hand was laid on his shoulder.

"Peter? The EMT's are here. You need to move, so they can do their job." He was numb. He couldn't catch his breath. Peter dumbly moved away at the gentle prodding of Jones and Diana, and watched his son be looked over and then carried away to the ambulance. The agent wasn't sure how, but he had managed (no doubt with a significant amount of help from his two favorite agents) to get down all of the stairs and make it into the ambulance before it took off for the hospital.

The phone was ringing, and before it reached the second trill, it was yanked from its cradle and held against El's ear.

"Hello? Peter?" There was a moment of silence, then-

"We've got him, El. We got our son back...Meet me at Clark County Hospital." Elizabeth felt the air woosh out of her, first in utter joy, then in an anxiety so strong, the couch just barely caught her. Peter must have known her distress. "He's gonna be okay, Hon. That's what the doctors said. It's just gonna be a little while before he wakes up, and I know you'll want to be here for that-"

"I'll be there in ten." Satchmo stared at the phone on the floor in front of him and as the front door closed rather harshly, he wondered if it tasted any good.

Neal's head hurt like hell. He could swear that someone was whistling really loud in his right ear, but figured, 'Why would someone be whistling in my ear?' Made sense at first, but when faced with that logic, his hypothesis fell apart. What could he say? He really wasn't that good in science class. So, no one whistling, but someone was definitely in the As him. Okay, laying about never got anyone anywhere, so the con was just going to have to suck it up and open his eyes. But when he tried, Neal found he couldn't. He started to panic, fearing that this was some sick game Frank was playing with him, like he used to. It was all a dream. He was back in that house with him. He was back in that closet, cowering under all the crap shoved in there after years and waiting for the sound of footsteps to retreat, but they never did.

Neal flinched when he felt something brush against his forehead.

"Shhh. It's okay. You're safe now, Sweetie. You're okay. You're okay. Go back to sleep. You're safe. I promise. Just go back to sleep." His whole body released the immense tension he had found in the full fifteen seconds he had been 'awake', and he didn't fight the pull of the dark around him.

Peter never entered into the FBI, so he could get some satisfaction of revenge on criminals or anything like that. He went into the bureau to help ordinary people like him that had been hurt, taken advantage of, victimized. It was satisfying seeing the criminals behind bars, yes, but he never stopped wishing they might take something positive out of it all. Like a complete life make over. But Peter would never deny the feeling of happiness when he was informed by Hughes that two days after they had dropped Frank off into holding, they had somehow gotten wind of his fancy for young boys. It was like throwing a steak into a river of starved piranhas.

It had been about a week since they had saved Neal from that building, but beyond a small fit (which El talked him down from), he hadn't woken up. The doctors assured him that his son's body was just taking a much needed rest after all of the untreated trauma he had suffered over the past couple weeks. But Peter wasn't a fool. He was a trained FBI agent and could tell the doctors were concerned. Peter almost lost his lunch when he overheard two doctors talking about Neal and mention the word 'brain damage'. Every day since, Hughes had let him take some much needed time off. He had accumulated about a month's worth of vacation days, and in the eyes of his boss, he deserved every one of them right now.

The hospital chairs sucked, but what were you gonna do? So, the agent propped his feet up on the corner of Neal's hospital bed and watched him sleep. El was currently passed out on the small cot, the nurses had been kind enough to provide. They had tried to shoo them out at first, but one flash of the badge later, and they begrudgingly gave in. Besides, they had all taken an immediate liking to the handsome man in room 248.

Peter was just nodding off, when there was a groan to his left. His head whipped up so fast, he knew it would hurt tomorrow; but he didn't care.

"El," he hissed. He wanted to scream for joy, but figured the last thing Neal would want was the room to be flooded with irate, love-struck nurses. Another groan, and then Neal's face scrunched as if in pain.

"Neal? Bud? Can you hear me?" Neal jumped at the voice in the room that had come out of nowhere, but upon recognizing it, he quickly faced it and ripped his eyes open.

"Dad!" There was an awkward silence, where Peter was struck dumb at the declaration and singing praises in his head, and Neal was shocked with embarrassment at what had just flown out of his mouth unbidden.

"It's good to see you awake, Son." Neal's flush deepened, but a smile had found it's way onto his face. Then, he suddenly couldn't breathe. He deduced the reason to be the gorgeous woman he thought of as a mother suffocating him in a hug. It took some effort, but he managed to lift his arms to lay around her and give a gentle squeeze back.

"Oh! Neal! Sweetie! I am so glad you're okay! We love you so much, Hon. Like a son, and..." Neal just let all of it wash over him and cocoon him in what he had been missing from his life for a very long time. He met eyes with his da-Peter over El's shoulder and smiled warmly at him. Peter reciprocated and finally felt that, for now, all was right with the world. They would make it through whatever backlash this brought all of them, and they wouldn't let their past haunt them any longer

The End

Awwwww! It's over! Well, i hope you all enjoyed it. Thank you all once again. You are lovely people, the lot of you. :) Please review!

PS Quick! Yes or No! Do you want a family therapy one/multiple shots where Neal reveals the rest of his actual past with Frank? Let me know!:)

Stay tuned for future white collar fics. :)