It was an easy arrest for once as Peter, Neal and the rest of the White Collar department cuffed one of the heads of the local Russian mob, one Dmitri Korsa and the rest of his crew. Neal had gone undercover with the mobsters, fitting in with some help from Mozzie who schooled him in the intricacies of being from that culture. Apparently the little guy had some acquaintances who had formerly been in. Neal was arrested with the rest of them, cuffed by Diana until the rest of the mobsters had been taken away and they were alone. It was better that way than to have one of the gang come after Caffrey later. Peter was tired but relaxed now that the case was over and Neal was no longer in danger.
"I still can't believe you went on that con with the gang, Neal. I told you to stay in the background and not do anything illegal."
He was only slightly angry, concern evident as his partner smirked, rubbing at his wrists once the cuffs were off. Neal was often too cocky for his own good but he was the best at what he did so Peter could only worry so much about his headstrong charge. Neal was Neal... plain and simple.
"It was a test, Peter. If I had found a reason to stay behind it would have been suspicious. I didn't actually steal anything. That was all Dmitri and his gang. Were you worried?"
That smirk had grown but it was all cover, Neal's mask fully in place. The younger man didn't like to show his true emotions but it was obvious despite his false bravado he was touched by the agent's concern. Peter shrugged.
"Maybe... ok, a little but... nevermind. We need to find the ledger you said they had. Show me where Dmitri hid it."
Peter spent the rest of the day looking over the ledger they had found in Dmitri's office at the Bureau, Neal downstairs working on his own accounting of events but currently slouching in his seat doing something other than work. Peter sighed, his eyes going back to the book as he tried to follow the money trail. There was an odd smell to the leathery cover and a strange brand with Cyrillic type branded on the inside at the back of the ledger. Peter would get someone to decrypt that but the rest for now was in English and easily readable although the gangster's handwriting left something to be desired. They had Dmitri on the usual stuff but this little book would also incriminate him with everything from prostitution to drugs if he could find the right pages. His eyes hurt from reading the badly written journal and the monitor of his computer as he searched for more info based on what he was seeing, his throat dry from stale coffee and little else. He could finally relax and forget about the case until the trial. Most of all he could finally put aside the worries he had for Neal's safety.
That's not yours... Put it back.
The voice was low, almost a hissed whisper as Peter glanced up and found he was still alone. There was a certain hint of accent to the voice but he figured he was tired as he went back to looking at the book, turning the page and finding another entry to flag. It was an open admission, a diary entry really from Dmitri himself on an incident that they were still investigating from another case in Violent Crimes. It was something he could pass along to Ruiz once he finished with his own investigation. He rubbed at his temples, squeezing the bridge of his nose as he took another swig of cooling coffee and kept digging. His vision swam slightly before he heard that mystery voice yet again.
Return what you have taken!
Peter stood up this time, the voice louder as he tried to figure out what kind of hallucination this was. He was still alone, only a few people still in the offices this time of day as they worked on the case against Dmitri. He must be exhausted, his eyes looking at the clock as he saw it was after 7 PM. Nearly 12 hours he'd been working, his head hurting as he put the ledger down and sighed. They could work on this tomorrow as Hughes would say, his boss out for the next few days at a conference. He wiped at his face, Peter pushing the ledger and a few other items into his briefcase to take home and look at further. He grabbed up his jacket, throwing it over his arm as he grabbed his bag and locked the office. Neal was still slouching in his seat, paper cranes cluttering his desk as the agent walked over and coughed, blue eyes looking up with a less than guilty look. He saw redness there, exhaustion and he could only imagine he looked the same as he motioned for the door. Neal was obviously more relaxed, no longer undercover with one of the most dangerous men in the city. They both deserved some long accrued r&r.
Neal blinked sleepily and nodded back, stifling a yawn as he slipped what looked like a completed report into a manila folder and pushed it under his arm with his jacket, fedora in his hand.
"Elizabeth call you finally? I thought I heard reports of a missing husband in the Brooklyn area."
The consultant smirked, Peter too tired to argue but smiling sarcastically at the joke nonetheless.
"Very funny. No. I just thought we should probably rest and work on this with new eyes tomorrow. Dmitri isn't going anywhere."
Peter watched his partner nod back tiredly with no complaint as they entered the elevator and they both leaned back on the railing waiting for it to reach the lobby. Once the doors opened again, Peter hesitated as Neal exited first then he followed both men quiet due to the exhaustive hours they'd put in for the past 2 weeks. At least for this case, the hard work was done and there would be some rest while doing research into the gangster's ledgers before the next big case. They drove mostly in silence for once, too tired except for very minor chit chat. Mostly the con leaned against the window and seemed to doze off and he let him. Peter dropped Neal off at June's, waving at his partner before heading home. He gave a yawn, glancing in the backseat at his briefcase a moment through the rearview mirror before turning his eyes to the road again.
"I must have been hearing things..."
He was thinking about the voice he heard in the office but he had been close to dozing off at the time. He was still tired as he pulled up to his house and parked along the curb. His eyes looked up into the rearview mirror, a shadow of someone hovering over the briefcase surprising him as he turned and found nobody there. He was tired. That's it... he grabbed up the briefcase as the thought left him and he felt a bit more awake after the false scare. He would nap and then work on the book until bedtime. He opened up the door to find Satchmo running up to greet him and his wife nowhere to be seen.
There was no answer as he poked his head into the kitchen, checked the back door which was locked and then went upstairs, briefcase left on the sofa. He glanced into the bedroom but nobody was there, a sigh escaping his lips as he kicked off his shoes, changed into some old sweats and a tee and collapsed on the bed. It suddenly occurred to him his wife had told him she had an event tonight so he was alone. Possibly for the best, Peter thought as he just needed a quick nap and then he'd work for a bit. Maybe his wife would be back home by then. His head slumped against the pillow as he relaxed and fell asleep.
Peter dreamed immediately after he closed his eyes, finding himself back at the residence they'd caught Dmitri at. It was an old brownstone, maybe 100 years old at best with a long history of speakeasies and mobsters in it's past. He was walking through the house, up to the room with the ledger but he was alone or so he thought as he glanced inside the empty safe Neal had showed him.
Put it back...
He turned, seeing a shadow in the corner that was either a man or just a trick of light. Peter wasn't sure which as he started to leave but found someone blocking his way, an old shriveled up man glancing up at him from the doorway with dark glittering eyes.
You have to return what you took. It's not yours...
The man was looking up at him, glaring darkly with eyes that had no whites. Peter wasn't sure if he was afraid or not, uncertain what he was seeing or why. He tried to leave again but the thing grabbed his arm, pointing at the safe with his other hand without letting go. The agent was still confused as to what the man meant, pulling to free himself when suddenly sharp yellowing teeth sunk into his wrist and he cried out, a feral smile on the old man's face.
Give it back or suffer the consequences!
Peter backed away, looking for another way out when he found himself suddenly awake, blue eyes hovering over his face. It was Elizabeth, a surprised but happy smile on her face.
"Hey hon... didn't mean to wake you. Long day?"
Her tone was also tired but content, reaching down to kiss him as he fought to overcome the shock of the dream he'd just had. El seemed to notice as she sat beside him and kicked off her heels.
"Are you ok, Peter? You look like you saw a ghost. Is Neal ok?"
Now his wife looked worried as he sat up, hugging her and shaking his head.
"Neal's fine. We finished up the case today other than minor details. Just a long day. How was the event?"
He wanted to change the subject, the dream vague in his mind but still present as fear slowly faded away. El nodded back, talking about the party as she took his hand in hers and gasped.
"Whatever did you do to your wrist?"
El's tone surprised him, making him look down and see what appeared to be a dark red mark, freshly bruising on his right wrist. On first look it appeared to be teeth marks but how... He thought back to the dream but that was all it was. He must have hit himself or something as he glanced at the wound curiously and shrugged.
"No clue. It's been a long day. I probably hit it on something and didn't notice. Doesn't hurt... I promise."
He watched his wife nod, wrapping an arm around him before she stood up and stretched.
"Let me change into something more comfortable and we can eat some of the leftovers I brought back. I'm sure you're hungry."
She winked at him, insinuating more than just food as Peter stood and hugged her, kissing her neck and lips before letting her go freshen up. He should probably walk the dog a bit before bedtime as he let El know what he was up to, going downstairs. Satchmo was laying on his pillow, the yellow lab sleepy but alert as Peter walked in.
"Come on boy. I'm sure you need to go."
Peter had pulled on his jacket and some shoes, putting the leash on Satch before they both left. It was a quick walk down the sidewalk before they turned and headed back. A delicious aroma hit his nose as he entered their home and made his mouth water as he closed and locked the door, releasing the lab from the lead and heading into the kitchen where El was warming something in the microwave. She handed him a cold beer.
"It's almost ready, hon. Did you want to sit at the table or sofa?"
El was wearing yoga pants and a comfy top, her blue apron wrapped around her loosely as she took the food out and started to stir it. He walked over and wrapped his arms around her waist, head on his wife's shoulder as he kissed her again.
"Sofa is fine. We can snuggle."
He let his voice drop a bit, El giggling like a girl back at him as she winked and smiled.
"Sounds like a plan, mister."
It was a nice impromptu dinner listening to music in the half light as Satchmo sat quietly in the corner and Peter and El got to relax and talk about their day. Once they were done eating and cleaning up, they headed upstairs again, Peter leaving his briefcase on one of the dining table chairs. He looked at the wound on his wrist briefly, the bruising more obvious since El had first alerted him to its presence. It was an odd mark like a bite but he probably just banged his arm against something he'd forgotten about as he pushed the thought out of his mind and curled up with his wife in bed. The dream he'd had of Dmitri's home and the odd figure was fading away and soon he was asleep with El in his arms.
The night was quiet until El woke him up to the sound of something crashing to the floor and breaking from below. Peter told his wife to stay put as he grabbed his gun and cell, moving downstairs to figure out what was going on. The noise was low now, a growl evident as he figured whomever had broken in had upset Satchmo. There was barking now and the sound of their lab running across the wood floor chasing someone as Peter continued to ease down the stairs and peered around the corner. He was shocked to see the living room was a mess, pictures off the shelves along with books all broken or torn up and the dining room table on its side, his briefcase ripped apart including all the papers. The only thing not messed up was the ledger as he looked around for a suspect and only saw locked doors and windows. Satchmo peeked coyly out of the kitchen after a moment and Peter pushed the cell into his pocket and sighed, an angry look on his face.
"SATCH! BAD DOG!"
He saw the signs the dog had possibly done this, chew marks evident on what was broken and paw prints everywhere in the dust. He turned when he heard footsteps and saw El coming down the stairs. He stopped her when he saw her bare feet.
"Be careful hun, there's glass! Satchmo... I don't know what got into him."
He was pissed, putting his gun on the coffee table before he started to clean up, El putting on some house slippers and joining him, her eyes wide at the scene. The dog looked nervous, clinging to her like a frightened child.
"Why... Satch? What happened boy?"
She was crouched near the animal but he looked scared, a growl still low in the lab's throat as if something had frightened him but all signs pointed to this being caused by the dog and not an intruder. Peter was just happy the ledger wasn't damaged but his briefcase was no longer usable, teeth marks and signs of claws having ripped it open obvious. Satchmo didn't do things like this but maybe... well, every animal has a bad day but this was a disaster. They finished cleaning up as best they could, El picking up all the broken frames and books that were still salvageable as Peter took the dog to the cellar and walked it down.
"Hun... what are you doing with Satch?"
El was talking to him but he was still angry, coming back up and bringing the food and water bowls down along with the dog's pillow and some toys.
"He's sleeping down there for the rest of the night. I'll deal with this in the morning. Nothing for him to tear up down there."
Peter wasn't in the mood to be nice, both of them upset by the mess and odd behavior of the dog as the cellar door was shut and locked and they went back upstairs. He couldn't deal with this right now, a slight sting on his right arm as he looked down and saw the bruising was worse. He probably banged it up cleaning all the stuff the dog broke. El was looking at him curiously as they got ready for sleep again. It was 3 AM, too early to get up and too late to be awake.
"Hun... Satchmo was scared of something. Did you think to check... well, maybe he was chasing a mouse or rat? I don't see how..."
She would have said more but he held up a hand, a deep sigh escaping his lips. Satchmo's behavior was much like Neal breaking a rule unexpectedly. Not that he liked comparing his partner to his pet but sometimes the con was a little too impulsive like one.
"I don't want to think about it right now. Rat or not, he wrecked the living room and ate my briefcase. I doubt the rat was in there."
Peter spoke more pointedly than he meant, El giving him a hard look before he reached over and kissed her.
"Sorry hun... sleep on it?"
He watched his wife nod, a look of uncertainty still on her face as they turned off the lights and went back to bed. Peter couldn't sleep though, something about the whole incident bothering him. He had heard Satch growling and running around but something about the sound and what he'd found below didn't seem to match up. He kept thinking about the ledger being the only item not damaged in the area and how most of the broken items were near the dining table. Coincidence he thought as his eyes started to close.
Give it back or risk the consequences!
The voice was loud, Peter opening his eyes to see dark glittering ones above him. He moved to sit up but something held him down, his neck tight as if someone were choking him. There was a heavy weight on his chest and he struggled silently for breath, his wife sleeping contentedly beside him unaware.
Peter struggled finally feeling the pressure released as he gave out a low gasp for air and could move again. The heaviness was gone but he felt as if someone had really been trying to strangle him as he got his breath back to normal. His wife was still asleep so Peter didn't wake her. It hadn't really happened, right? It was a vivid nightmare at worse, his mind trying to find a reason behind the odd occurrence. Peter wondered about the dream he'd had earlier in the evening with that old man. It must be the same thing but why was he dreaming of it? It was curious but he had to sleep, leaning over to kiss his wife in the dark, a sleepy murmur from her lips as he hugged her and finally eased back to dreamless slumber. A strange exhaustion hit him as he slept, his face warm and flush as the darkness swallowed him up.
Author's Note: Uh oh... something's wrong and I don't think it's Satchmo's doing. I wonder whose voice Peter keeps hearing and why. More in the next chapter!