Fandom: White Collar/DCU
Genre: Drama, Family, Action, and Angst are the main ones.
Disclaimer: Neither White Collar nor DCU are mine; I am simply borrowing them.
Spoilers: In White Collar, to the season 3 season finale. In the DCU, none really.
Summary: Neal thought that he’d be safe on a tropical island. Unfortunately, someone managed to track him down, and it isn’t the FBI…
Chapter Summary:Peter should have known that his quiet night wouldn't stay that way.
AN: First I’d like to thank my lovely beta reader, leonie_alastair for the help. This is, of course, written pre-season 4, so nothing revealed within the new season will be found here. In the DCU, I am ignoring the recent revelations at SDCC. Comments and construcitve criticism is always appreciated. I hope you enjoy the chapter.
It’s been two months since Neal left and Peter still watches the door, expecting the conman to stroll through it with that easy-going grin and a swag to his stride. Except, he never does, and Peter isn’t sure if he should be relieved or disappointed.
He settles for both.
Telling Neal to run was the hardest thing he’s ever done. Rescuing El, dealing with Keller or Adler, being kidnapped and having to escape -- none of it was easy. But he had Neal at his back, and he realizes that he has come to rely on the man more than he would have ever expected…or possibly wanted.
It’s too late now.
Neal’s cakes are still in the freezer. Tracking down Ellen Parker was a dead-end; not only were the Marshals stonewalling them, but she had disappeared without a trace. Mozzie has disappeared as well, and Peter knows they must be together. Kramer is still lobbying to go after Neal, but he too has been “put in place.” The job belongs to the US Marshalls, and the FBI has clearly shown its inability to keep track of the man.
Peter is lucky he still has a job.
But he’s missing a friend.
He closes the latest mortgage fraud file and leans back in his chair. The case can wait until tomorrow. He can’t concentrate now. Neal has always been intrusive, but it’s amazing how intrusive the man is through his absence. I could really use a new view, he thinks to himself. Neal was always good with numbers and mortgage fraud, even though he loved to complain about the cases. They weren’t his passion, but like everything else Neal attempted -- including escape -- he did with a finesse that was singular to him.
Peter bids good bye to his team, shaking his head when Diana raises a questioning brow, and waving off Jones, who makes to follow after him. They are worried about him, have been since the day Neal left. And Peter also knows they are worried about Neal, dropping hints here and there. But Peter has nothing to give them, and he doesn’t know if he would give them anything if he could.
The ride home is long, but El is waiting for him and dinner is excellent as usual. Satchmo curls up by their feet as they watch a performance of The Magic Flute on PBS, and even though opera really isn’t Peter’s thing, he nods his head when Elizabeth comments on it, and tries to pay attention.
Then the doorbell rings.
“It’s nearly eleven,” Peter mutters, as he untangles himself from the El’s legs and the blanket. He steps over Satchmo, who is so content he doesn’t seem to care that there’s someone at the door.
“Be careful, hon,” El says, turning to watch the door. Peter nods and slowly walks over, opening the door just a crack.
“Hello?” There is a boy on the corner, mid to late teens. He’s wearing a courier’s uniform and holds out a package and a clipboard. “Mr. Satchmo? I’ll need you to sign.”
Peter blinks. Who on earth would not only send him a file by courier late at night, but also ask for his dog?
And then it hits him, a memory of an undercover operation when he and Neal had only first started to work together. “That’s me. Do you know who sent this?” He reaches for the clipboard and package, scrawling a name that is illegible but vaguely looks like it starts with an “S” and possibly ends with an “O”.
“Short guy. Bald. With a moustache. Wearing a Hawaiian shirt and sandals. Just dropped it off and left. Didn’t leave a name.” The courier shrugs. “Is there a problem?”
“Oh no,” Peter hands the clipboard back and looks over the package. “Just a game with friends. Have a good night.”
“You too.” The courier hops on his bike and rides off. Peter waits until he is gone, watching the street and wondering if Neal or Mozzie will appear. It would be so stupid of them, yet brilliant at the same time, because it has just been a week since surveillance was pulled off of the Burke residence, and only Neal would be so bold as to stroll up to the Burke’s front door. When a few minutes have passed and nothing has happened, Peter closes the door and opens the package.
He can hear a soprano belting out an aria, but doesn’t know which it is. El has turned back to the performance, and Peter walks in holding a blank DVD. “Elizabeth.” He waits until she has muted the TV and turns toward him. “We need to watch this.”
“Is it…?” She doesn’t speak his name, but Peter knows what she means and nods.
“I think so.” He places it in the machine and presses “play,” before sitting back on the couch. In a few seconds Neal appears, dressed in casual, yet classy and definitely expensive beach wear. He looks good -- there’s color in his cheeks, but there’s something about his eyes that makes Peter worry, and clearly El too, as she grips his hand tightly.
“Hey, Peter. Elizabeth.” Neal nods to the camera. The background is a white sheet, and the camera is close enough to Neal that Peter can’t make out any other details in the room. “You’ll have to excuse my decorating -- I have to be sure that if this falls into the wrong hands, I can’t be found.” He clears his throat. “Mozzie and I have been…traveling, as I’m sure you know. At an undisclosed location without an extradition policy with the US, I ran into two men.” He holds up two photographs, and Peter recognizes them as being pulled from the Justice League website. “These are two men from the League of Assassins, and they seem to be after me.” Neal pauses, and Peter’s heart pounds.
Neal has never shown any connection to the cape and tights crowd, be it on either side. He’s seen the man’s blood work -- he was tested for any trace of meta abilities when he was arrested and sent to prison, since many of his “alleged” feats made certain people wonder. Nothing was found, and after some digging and even direct inquiries to the Justice League, it was deemed that Neal was human: brilliant, and incredibly lucky, but had no powers to speak of.
After that, Peter let all inquiries and suspicions go. He, like most law enforcement agencies, was more than content to stick with the human population, and let the superhero crowd deal with the supervillains. Peter has never met a superhero, besides a cursory glance at a vigilante once, one he couldn’t even recognize, and was perfectly happy to leave it that way.
The League of Assassins being after Neal is a huge problem, and one he is distinctly uncomfortable with.
“I’m not worried about me, Peter.” Neal continues after a moment of silence. “But if they were able to track me down, then they’re desperate to find me. And that means they might just be desperate enough to try to flush me out. You and Elizabeth need to leave now. I don’t think they’ll go after June, though I’m also sending her a DVD. I sent one to Sarah as well, and Diana and Jones. But you, Peter -- you need to get out now. Your DVD is the only that has this message: Thursday.”
The screen goes blank.
El grips his hand so hard he can barely feel it. “Peter,” she whispers. “What --?”
“Neal isn’t a hero -- or a villain. He’s perfectly human. So why would the League of Assassins want him?” Peter grinds his teeth. “And if they’re going to come after us…damn it, Neal.” He stands up. El looks frightened and Peter isn’t sure who he wants to hurt more at this point, Neal or the League of Assassins. Not that he would have the slightest chance at bringing down the organization, but it’s the principal of the thing. And Neal, once again, has managed to drag both Elizabeth and himself into some dangerous situation. Even if the con never actually means to.
“What are we going to do?” Elizabeth stands up, and Satchmo, sensing the disturbance, gets up as well. “Are we going to leave?”
Peter purses his lips. “Yes. Thursday -- it’s a Tuesday and I can’t imagine Neal wanting us to wait around so long, so I bet it’s a hideout. And I know exactly which one it is.” He sighs, leaning his forehead into a hand. “We need to get packed. And find a place for Satchmo; I don’t think we can bring him with us.”
Half an hour later, a pet sitter has been set up and Peter and El are ready to leave. Peter grabs a prepaid cell phone, one Neal had given to him as a gift months ago, joking that having a burn phone was always handy, one Peter had tried to throw out many times but never succeeded actually doing so. He and El each have a small bag with clothing and some mementos, and he closes his eyes as he shuts and locks the door.
Hopefully they will be back.
Then they take off across the street and walk two blocks before calling a cab.
“This is…nice.” Elizabeth looks at the furnishings. The loft has been refurnished, but with cheap chairs, a table, a bed, and a couch from a nearby thrift store instead of luxurious furnishings it once held.
“Hmm.” Peter walks around. There is no trace of Neal or Mozzie, and for a moment Peter wonders if he misunderstood. But this has to be right, he decides eventually. There is no other connection to “Thursday” he can think of.
Then the elevator hums.
Peter pulls his weapon from its holster, and motions Elizabeth to duck down and hide behind one of the cement columns. He crouches down behind the couch, holding the elevator in his direct sights. The elevator opens and --
For a split second, Peter considers shooting the man before holstering his weapon. “Damn it, Neal. Now is not the time for games.”
Neal grins, but it doesn’t quite meet his eyes. “Hello, Peter. Nice to see you too. You’re very welcome for the ‘heads up,’ because someone already tried to blow up Jones’ place. I guess they thought they’d start their way at the bottom of the list and work their way up? Where’s Elizabeth?”
Elizabeth peeks her head out and gasps. “Neal! My God, what happened? Is Jones okay?”
“He’s fine.” Neal speaks into his watch. “It’s okay, Moz. Come on up.” The elevator hums again and Neal turns back to her. “He got out with about five minutes to spare. The bomb was meant more of a warning than anything else, because besides his apartment being pretty trashed, the rest of the building’s occupants are going to be fine.”
“Why is the League after you?” Peter jumps to the point, unwilling to play games with Neal when lives are on the line. “What the hell have you gotten yourself -- and us -- into, Neal?”
Neal turns to him, and for a second, his eyes are full of fury, his fists are clenched, and Neal looks like a…a killer, even though Peter knows his dislike of guns and firearms is legendary. But it is only there shortly before Neal calms and bows his head. “I didn’t do anything, Peter. I don’t know why the League chose to come after me, especially now. But they did, and they are ruthless killers who don’t care about casualties, and are more than willing to do anything in their mission if it will bring me to them. And…I can’t let that happen to you.”
“Neal, I can’t say I understand, but…” Elizabeth reaches out and draws him into a hug. “At least you’re here and safe right now.”
“But not for long.” The elevator has arrived and with it, Mozzie. The shorter man steps out, holding a laptop computer out in front of him. “We’ve got to leave now. Someone just pinged on my electronic trail and if it were anyone else, I wouldn’t worry since I have it routed about a thousand ways. But with the League? I’m not going to underestimate super villains, not if I want to stay alive.”
“How much time?” Peter asks, surveying the room. The only way out seems to be the elevators, though he wouldn’t be surprised if there was another entrance -- or two, knowing Mozzie and his suspicious mind.
“Um, forty-three seconds.” Mozzie slams the computer shut. “Let’s go.” He runs to a column and presses against it in two places, and a trap door opens in front of it. “We have to get out of here now.”
In a flash, Neal is pulling Elizabeth towards the door. Mozzie motions for Peter, who grabs the two bags they had thankfully not gotten around to unpacking. El disappears down the hole first, followed by Neal. Peter ducks down into the dark staircase and hears Mozzie enter behind him and close the panel above their heads. “Come on!” Neal yells ahead of him. The staircase is lit with LD lights on the steps, and Peter rushes as fast as he can, though he doesn’t dare take the stairs more than one at a time. He has no idea how far they have gone when the ground starts to shake and he drops the suitcases to brace himself against the walls.
“Elizabeth!” He shouts, but Mozzie pushes against him.
“Suit! Don’t worry, Neal has her. Move!”
Peter nods and picks up the bags again, nearly running down the stairs. Finally he gets to the end of the staircase where Neal is waiting with Elizabeth in front of another concealed door Neal has opened a crack. “We’re in the sewers, but I know where we’re going. Follow me.”
Peter nods, but doesn’t dare say anything. He wants to -- he wants to yell, he wants to scream, he wants to ask what the hell Neal is playing at, but he knows that they need to be silent. Whatever is going on, it’s big.
They walk maybe a mile in the sewer, before Neal reaches a ladder built into the wall and pulls himself up, unscrewing a metal plate and heaving himself up, reaching for Elizabeth. She looks back to Peter, who nods. Whatever is going on, he knows, somehow, that he can trust Neal.
After Elizabeth disappears into the hole, it is Peter’s turn. He reaches the first bag up, having slung the second one over his back. El reaches down and grabs it, while Peter starts to climb. Soon he too is in the darkened room, while Neal is helping Mozzie up.
Just in time for another explosion to rock them backwards.
“Shit.” Neal swears, not something he is normally prone to doing. Peter whips his head up in shock. He can barely see the man, but his gut tells him that something went wrong.
“Everyone okay?” He calls out. Everyone answers in the affirmative, except for Neal who winces.
“I fell face first into the wall and cut my head, but I will be fine.” Peter can hear him moving, getting up. “And it doesn’t matter, because we need to move. Now. I don’t know how the League is tracking us so well, but we’ve got to go.”
“Right.” Peter grabs the other suitcase and reaches for El. “Let’s go.”