sam_storyteller: (White Collar)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-20 05:26 am

Never Leave A Trace 2/3

Title: Never Leave A Trace
Summary: Neal Caffrey can steal souls. Peter Burke has two shadows. Everything's normal...except when it isn't.

Part One

***

The next morning, Neal meant to wash the tattoo off in the showers; he'd let the guys on his cellblock see, then wash it clean. Word would get around.

And it worked, right up until he saw Peter standing at the door to the communal shower, keeping watch while the other guard did random cavity searches. Oh, the joys of prison life.

Neal had almost forgotten his face until he saw Peter standing there, two shadows behind him. When Peter caught his eye, one of the shadows jerked and flickered. Peter's face would have been priceless on the outside, but the shadow was an unknown quantity and Neal didn't know what this Peter, in his guard uniform and with his mace and baton, would do.

Peter's eyes tracked him all the way into the shower. Neal could feel the shock and turmoil in Peter's stomach; it was like the nausea was his own.

He lifted his face as the showers came on, sharply cold at first before the warm water hit. He could hear Noel's cry of pain as Neal ducked under the spray, rubbing his face. His hands came away black and red with ink. The water washed it down his arms. He rubbed again, and came away with less this time. By the time he was using soap, Noel was no longer in pain (he could see the lines of his body straighten, his movements less hesitant) and the ink was long gone.

When he walked back out, Peter stared openly. Neal kept his eyes lowered, and only caught the flickering edge of Peter's second shadow. He could feel Peter grow calmer, but not by much.

The guards never understood. They might ignore it, because they had to, but that didn't mean they understood it. Even Peter couldn't understand.

***

That day, he got a call to the visitor's room, which was weird; he couldn't think of anyone who would be visiting him. Anyone who knew he was here knew he was in cover.

It turned out to be Diana, immaculately put together in one of her best FBI Badass suits, looking not a little out of place, scowling on the other side of the double-paned glass. When she saw him, her eyes flicked over his face. Peter must have mentioned something to her, no telling what.

"Di," he said, and she gave him a narrow look. "Good to see you, sweetheart."

"Wish I could say the same," she answered. Neal leaned forward.

"Bring me any treats?" he asked with a grin.

"You're in prison. Prisoners don't get treats," she told him.

"Aw, don't be a hardass."

She smiled. "I'm here from Dad," she said. Neal almost laughed. Peter had seen the tattoo and seen it disappear and sent Diana to what, check up on him? Awfully sweet. "He wants to know how prison's treating you."

"Tell him I've become a good listener," Neal replied. "Got some advice for the family business."

"Yeah?" Diana leaned forward.

"Yeah. Tell Dad that Ward's not the guy for the job, and if he were working the night shift, he'd know that," Neal said. He could see Diana processing it: the warden wasn't the one they were after. Someone working nights was doing the heavy lifting. She nodded.

"I'll give him your message," she said, and she left.

All business, the FBI.

***

He'd been in prison for seven days before Keller actually saw him. Word must have got around by then that Suicide Caffrey was back, and Keller would have heard it. But as long as Keller didn't see him -- and the only time he would was at meals -- then everything was all right. Neal and Gutierrez were moving around the subject of Keller now, circling it because neither wanted to admit what they'd have to do.

He was in the dinner line when Keller saw him, and prison had made Keller fast. He was over the prep table behind the line and vaulting the service table almost before Neal could blink. Neal ducked back instinctively, felt a blade whistle through the air in front of him, and saw the rest of the inmates scatter away. Keller lunged again, and Neal could see the blade more clearly now: so cliché, a sharpened bit of metal shoved into the broken end of a broom handle.

"Come on, kitchen boy, couldn't find a real knife?" he taunted, backing slowly away.

"You son of a bitch," Keller growled. He had to know he didn't have the time to dance with Neal, should be pressing his advantage; the guards were already converging, Neal could feel it, and he was sure Keller could too. Gutierrez was right, Keller acted like a man possessed, but Neal could see there wasn't an inch of him that wasn't his own. And he could see, in flashes of Keller's eyes, what was going to happen. One of those inevitabilities, he supposed, as Keller pushed in, too close for Neal to dodge --

Suddenly there was a sweep of cold across Neal's face, a dimness in the room, and Peter was there, between them, taking the impact of the knife in his stab vest. Neal watched Peter's hand flick the baton out with perfect skill -- skill Peter couldn't possibly possess, couldn't have had time to learn in seven days -- and it sang in the air and landed with a sharp whipcrack of noise. Keller collapsed.

Neal realized he was standing in Peter's second shadow. It was cool; almost placid. It felt powerful.

Then it swept away and the humid warmth and light of the dining hall rushed back, as Peter turned and grabbed Neal by the front of his uniform, shoving him into another guard who pinned his wrists behind him. Neal watched, helpless, as Peter knelt and pulled Keller to his feet, Keller groaning in pain. Sounded like cracked ribs. Peter pushed Keller into another guard, who hauled him away, and then holstered his baton.

He turned to the guard holding Neal and gave him a sharp nod; Neal felt his arms released. The whole thing, from Peter's arrival to Keller's disappearance, had happened without Peter speaking a word. Neal could see the rips in his shirt and stab vest where Keller's knife had landed.

The inmates formed slowly back up into a line, watched over by the guards. Peter left the room, and Neal could feel every footstep as Peter walked down the hallway towards the guardroom to make a report.

"Nobody ever landed a hit on Keller before," one of the inmates whispered to Neal.

"That one did," Neal whispered back.

"He got two shadows. I dunno, man."

"Me neither," Neal said. He didn't. The shadow hadn't felt malevolent. If anything, it felt like being with Peter. Calm assurance, tranquility, absolute confidence in Peter's power. And Peter had managed to hit Keller, which was apparently a first.

When he sat down, the Italians crowded around him.

"So," Vincenzio said. "You want us to take Keller down?"

"Everybody knows that's not going to happen," Gutierrez replied, seating himself next to Neal. "Buzz off, Vincenzio."

"Yessir," Vincenzio said, sliding down the table. Neal glanced at Gutierrez.

"I got 'em thinkin' I'm a saint," Gutierrez said with a grin. "Pretty cool, huh?"

"No saints in prison," Neal said.

"Hell no," Gutierrez agreed. He leaned in close. "So what'd you see, Suicide?"

"We gotta do it," Neal said. "And it's gotta be soon. One way or another I'm not here much longer."

"Okay then," Gutierrez said. "Can you get into his block?"

Neal shook his head. "Not after lights out. He'll be in seg, anyway."

"Might've been the plan all along. He knows we're after him, he gets locked down alone in seg, keeps him safe." Gutierrez shrugged.

"Do we even need to get to him? For what we're planning?" Neal asked, around a mouthful of chicken that tasted like metal.

"I don't know," Gutierrez said. "I think we gotta get our hands on him."

"I can't do that," Neal said.

"But you know someone who can," Gutierrez said with a grin. "Okay, no more right now. Think quietly. I have some people to talk to."

At the end of dinner, a handful of names were called, Neal's among them; random drug test, lucky him. On the other hand, when he trooped into the secure infirmary cell with the others, Peter was standing at the door to the toilet. When he went inside to piss in the cup, Peter came in with him.

"We have about five minutes," Peter said. "Piss. Talk fast. Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Neal replied, lowering his uniform pants as Peter turned away politely. "You all right? He nicked your vest."

"Bruised, nothing major. You want out?" Peter asked. "Keller can't be your only enemy, and I can't follow you everywhere. That was dumb luck today. Another guard would have let you get stabbed."

"It's fine. Keller was the only one going after me. The others know better," Neal said.

"I can pull you. The lead you passed through Diana was good. I'm on swing shift now, and there's definitely something going on."

"Seriously, I'm okay," Neal said, screwing the cap on the cup and pulling his pants up again. "Hey, off the central guardroom there's an office, right?"

"Captain's office, yeah," Peter said, looking intrigued. "You think there's a ledger?"

"If there is, that's where it is. The captain might not even know it. You guys have a couple of master keys floating around to the outside offices."

"I'll see what I can find," Peter said. Neal held out the cup, and Peter took it, sighing. "You were right, you know."

"About what?" Neal asked, washing his hands.

"I don't understand what goes on in here," Peter told him. He sounded a little lost, which was more lost than Neal had ever heard him. "I swore, on your face a few days ago..."

"Try not to think about it," Neal said, but he hesitated. "Peter, look behind you."

Peter, perplexed, twisted to look at the blank wall. "What?"

"How many shadows do you see?" Neal asked. Peter looked back at him.

"Just mine. Why?" he asked. Neal shook his head.

"Never mind. Hey, can you get me word when Keller goes into seg?"

"Is that important? Are you planning something?"

"I'm not going to break into seg, I'm not insane," Neal said. "Why, is he there already?"

Peter glanced away. "He has a couple of bruised ribs. They treated him and sent him down."

"Good," Neal said, and went to leave. Peter stopped him, a hand on his chest.

"The guards call you Cat," he said quietly. "The inmates call you Suicide. Should I worry?"

Neal wished he could risk a quick kiss, but there were cameras everywhere in the public areas, and someone was bound to be watching. "No. Come on, they're going to wonder what happened in a minute."

***

That night, he and Noel sat on Noel's bunk, side by side -- Noel crosslegged, Neal with his knees pulled up to his chest, arms crossed on top of them. Noel was fiddling with an ink pot, twisting the cap on and off again.

"You and Gutierrez are moving on Keller, right?" Noel asked finally.

"Yeah," Neal said. "I don't know what we're doing yet. Gutierrez doesn't either."

"He's a lifer, you know. Gutierrez."

"I know," Neal sighed. "He won't leave, anyway. I offered last time."

"He'd miss God," Noel said. "Besides, nobody messes with him. Like us. Gutierrez been here twenty years. I think he's afraid of the outside."

"Sometimes I am," Neal admitted. "Things are so...different there. But it's good, too."

"What do you do on the outside, Neal?" Noel asked. Neal tilted his head back.

"I live in this big open place on the fourth floor of a mansion," he said. It sounded like a fairy tale. "June owns it. She's a widow. She gave me all these old suits her husband owned, really nice suits. You should see me on the outside," he added, and Noel turned to give him a smile. "I got style, Noel."

"Bet you do," Noel agreed. "What about the husband? He don't mind?"

"Byron? No. When I got there I talked to him once or twice. Nice guy. He's not really there there, not like DeLong," Neal said. DeLong was an inmate who'd died in Block C and hung around; inmates in that block said he was harmless as long as you left out a little bit of food for him once in a while. "The house has some powerful protection though. Byron was one of us," he added, waving at the cell. "He knew. When he got out he made sure nobody would hurt them. Anyway, there's pieces of him here and there, but he's pretty much moved on. He's just waiting for June, I think."

"Love story," Noel said. "Nice."

"Yep. So, I paint, or I sculpt sometimes, when I'm there. In the mornings Peter picks me up and we go do cop shit. I'm on a work release, I help them out."

"Snitch," Noel said, but he was grinning.

"Nah, I just explain how things work. We bust guys like me."

"Gotta be weird."

"Not so weird," Neal mused. "It's all a con. This is just the other side of the coin. Sometimes we go out for lunch, summertime we sit outside and have a beer," he said, because Noel seemed hungry for the little details, the sensual pleasures he couldn't get inside. "I can come and go, you know? I'm on a two-mile radius, but if I want to leave the room I can just get up and leave. If someone picks a fight with me I can walk away. Nobody telling me when to eat, when to shower. If I need something I just go out and buy it."

Noel nodded. "You forget what it's like, after a while."

"I know," Neal said. "So, then, end of the day, he takes me home, most of the time. Sometimes I go home with him. He's got a wife, man, Noel, she's unbelievable."

"You fuck?" Noel asked. Neal laughed. "What? You want me to frill it up?"

"No, it's -- yeah, we do," he said. "Not often. It's good though."

"What about your girl? Saint Kate?" Noel asked.

"She died," Neal said. Noel looked at him. "It was a while ago now."

"You seen her since?" Noel asked. Neal shook his head.

"She's not waiting for me," Neal said quietly. "I can't find her."

"Sorry, man."

"Doesn't matter." Neal shrugged. Noel turned and rested his chin on Neal's shoulder, thoughtfully.

"What you want tonight?" he asked. "I could do Saint Kate for you. Maybe inside your skin, she'd talk to you?"

Neal shook his head.

"I need protection," he said. "I need power. You have anything like that?"

Noel nodded, chin digging into Neal's shoulder. "On your back," he said, standing up. Neal stretched out on the cot and Noel went to the little desk to prep his tools. When he came back he swung a leg over him, sitting comfortably on his stomach, and spread a hand over Neal's chest, pressing down, feeling for something. Then he went to work.

***

"You talk to God?" Neal asked Gutierrez in the yard, on the eighth day. There were a couple of other inmates around, watching Neal do tricks with a lit cigarette, but they were mostly paying attention to the ember, not to Neal.

"Sure, I did. I do every night," Gutierrez told him.

"So? What'd God say about Keller?"

"He said to ask you," Gutierrez said. Neal fixed him with a level look, but Gutierrez wasn't kidding this time.

"You ever think maybe God's fucking with you?" he asked. Gutierrez smiled.

"Little bit. But man, God's got more important things to worry about than us," he said.

Neal sat and thought about it, twirling the cigarette, blowing on it occasionally to make the ember flare, flipping it and catching it. Finally, when it was almost to a stub, he put it between his lips, inhaled once, blew out the smoke and stubbed the cigarette on the pock-scarred surface of the table.

"I think we should bring him to us," Gutierrez said. "Not in the block, though. Somewhere neutral."

"Infirmary?" Neal said.

"Dangerous. Lots could go wrong." Gutierrez considered the matter. "Can you get in?"

"Sure. I go in today, I can be there three-four days. What about you?"

"Looks suspicious if we both get sick at once. You go. I'll figure out a way."

"You sure?" Neal asked.

Gutierrez nodded. "No problem."

"So, come tomorrow night." Neal tapped his finger in the still-warm soot where the cigarette lay. He sighed. "Coulda used Marlow for this," he added, and smeared the black residue into a streak, then rubbed a few stray lines in it with his thumb. Gutierrez watched.

"Enough," Gutierrez said finally, after the third or fourth line. "That's enough."

"Yeah, probably," Neal agreed. He licked his fingers -- ugh, what a taste -- and stood up. The crowd of men around them were stock still. Neal snapped his fingers and they broke out of it; a couple of them looked annoyed, like they knew what Neal had done, but they let him walk away.

By the time he got called for a cell search that afternoon, Neal was pale, a cough lodging uncomfortably in his throat. He stood at the bars of his cell, wrists cuffed, and sniffled indecorously while Peter tossed his room. He'd acquired a lot of stuff in just eight days: gifts from inmates, some things he'd bartered for, some things he'd quietly stolen that nobody would miss. Peter talked as he worked, obviously not looking for anything or expecting to find anything, just going over the new details he'd been able to dig up about the case. Neal nodded and offered opinions once in a while in a voice that was scratchier by the minute.

Finally, Peter unlocked the cuffs and hauled Neal into his cell, putting himself between Neal and the still-open door.

"Take your shirt off," he ordered. Neal, reluctantly, pulled the uniform shirt over his head, shivering in the chill.

The tattoo Noel had given him was pure, flat green, starting on his pectoral, sliding down his sternum. It was an abstract pattern so far as Neal could make out, but Noel said it was powerful. Peter looked at it, then put out a hand without even bothering to ask permission and touched the dip where his chest muscles met. His skin was still red and swollen; Neal flinched, not from pain but because he knew somewhere in the yard Noel was feeling it. Peter took his hand away and held it up to study it; there were smears of green on his palm. He looked at Neal, who shrugged.

"You're planning something," Peter said, wiping the ink off on his black uniform trousers. "Don't."

"You think I'm going to hit Keller," Neal replied.

"Aren't you?"

"It's not revenge," Neal said.

"Oh, hit him before he hits you, is that it?" Peter asked, crossing his arms. Behind him, the second shadow flickered.

"No, that's not it." Neal shook his head. "It's -- protection. Not for me," he insisted, when Peter's skepticism deepened. "I'll be out soon, it doesn't matter to me, but Keller poisons the food. He'll do worse if he can. He has to be stopped."

"By you?" Peter asked. Neal raised his wrist to his mouth to cover a cough.

"Someone has to," Neal said. Peter gripped his arm before he could lower it, pulled him in close. Neal couldn't see the second shadow now, and he couldn't see anything in Peter's eyes but flat brown, like any ordinary person.

"You're going to the infirmary," Peter said. "You're going to get that cough checked. You're not going to put a hand on Keller. You understand me?"

Neal nodded. Peter was so warm, and he was freezing. He swayed into the warmth and Peter let him, but he didn't give an inch.

"Promise me you won't touch Keller," he said.

"Promise," Neal groaned, his other hand gripping Peter's belt. Peter's fingers slid up his arm, around the muscles of his neck, twining in his hair.

"How are you?" Peter asked quietly, as Neal's shivering subsided. Neal crowded closer, turning them so that Peter's shoulders hit the cinderblock wall. He kissed him -- not on the mouth, not where Peter would taste the ash and sickness, but down his jaw, sucking over his pulse point. Peter groaned.

"You're sick, and we don't have the time -- " he started. Neal bit down. Peter's body jerked.

"I want it. Nobody will see," Neal promised, against Peter's collar. "And if they do, so what? You think this is the first time it's happened?"

Peter's grip tightened. "You -- "

Neal leaned back a little, managed a smile. "Not me. Others, sure. Helps to have a guard on your side," he added, sliding down Peter's body, working at the buckle of his uniform pants, pressing up against the solid heat of his thighs. Peter's head thudded back against the cinderblock.

"They'll look away," Neal said, easing open his belt, tugging his pants and briefs down around his thighs. Peter caught his breath. "They always do. Even if they watched, they wouldn't tell anyone."

"Prisoner abuses..." Peter's thoughts, he could tell, were straying and shattering. Neal was impressed with his self-control. "We should -- report..."

It'll always be the same, he wanted to say, but his mouth was busy -- licking down Peter's cock, sucking the tip in, smiling and trying not to cough as Peter groaned and bucked under his hands. He was so warm, and there was so much power here, even more power than the tattoo running off his chest. Peter was practically glowing, the second shadow dancing madly along the wall. Neal groaned and tried to breathe and suck and curl up into Peter's heat all at the same time.

Peter caught his head and held him, steadying him, hips canting slow and smooth. Neal wished, momentarily, for Elizabeth, for that sense of a circuit closing when he was with them both, like he was conducting them through himself. Still, this was good, power surging into him, Peter struggling to hold on and struggling not to make a noise. As if anyone cared when a guard took advantage. Somewhere, sometime on the outside, he'd make Peter tie him up and he'd torment Peter into letting go, really for once taking what he wanted. He'd court the shade.

The thought made him inhale sharply, and Peter finally moaned, full and deep, and came breathing his name: "Neal, Neal -- "

Neal swallowed, wiped his mouth, and rested his face in Peter's bare thigh, waiting to catch his breath. Finally, with a little laugh, Peter tugged him to his feet, his other hand pulling his pants back up.

"You're a piece of work," Peter said to him, kissing him, forcing his lips open. He liked that, tasting himself in Neal's mouth. Neal clung to his shirt, let Peter run his hands down his bare chest and cup his soft cock. Peter made a surprised, interrogatory noise.

"M'sick," Neal said, pulling back reluctantly. He gave Peter his best grin. "You can owe me."

"Mm," Peter said, afterglow fading, a frown forming on his face as he buckled his belt. "Infirmary. I don't like the way you sound."

"Liar," Neal said, but he let go of Peter's shirtfront and picked up his own shirt. The tattoo was barely even visible at all now, just green traces here and there. Neal put his hands behind his back, anticipating the cuffs, and let Peter fasten them around his wrists. Peter gave him one last, proprietary caress, fingers drifting down the nape of his neck, and then closed Neal's cell door, walking behind him down the hallway.

After Peter checked him in, the infirmary doctor diagnosed the flu, and Neal was given a bed in the ward with wrist and ankle restraints. Charming. Still, it was hard to blame the infirmary; there were a lot of sharp items floating around, even if they were locked up, and prison medical staff didn't get to carry batons.

They buckled the ankle restraints but left his wrists free; as he watched, the orderly rubbed his hands together and then pressed them over Neal's left thigh. He considered a couple of smart remarks, but it paid to be nice to the staff, so he just kept an eye on the guy as he repeated the process on the right. When the orderly stepped back, Neal's legs wouldn't move.

Clever. Neal could pick a lot of locks, but what did you pick when there was no lock to start with?

Still, at least this way he had his hands free.

"Be a good boy," the orderly said, "and I'll let you up to pee."

"What would I do, cough my way to freedom?" he asked. His throat felt like it was full of pinpricks.

"I heard about you, Caffrey. We hear what the inmates say."

"Yeah?" Neal asked, leaning close. "What do they say?"

"Like you don't know," he said.

"Maybe I do," Neal said with a grin. "Hey, you treat Keller in here yesterday?"

"That punk," the orderly rolled his eyes. "He a buddy of yours too?"

"Not exactly," Neal murmured, coughing. He glanced up at the long tempered-glass window between admissions and the infirmary, and saw Peter watching carefully. Neal gave a little shake of his head and Peter nodded, hurrying away.

He spent most of the afternoon bored out of his mind, coughing and mildly feverish, uninterested in dinner (despite the fact that it looked like the most palatable meal he'd had since coming here) and restlessly tracking Peter, who was not only as bored as Neal but also worried. Neal closed his eyes and tried to disappear, but that had never worked on Peter, and it wasn't going to work now.

He slept fitfully. Keller laughed his way through Neal's dreams.

Neal woke up with a headache, no voice, and the very clear warning in his head: Coming for you, Neal.

***

The next morning, Neal was eating breakfast when Diana was shown into the ward. She looked concerned, especially when she saw how washed-out his skin was in the white infirmary pajamas.

"Sweetheart," Neal managed, but it was mostly breath; the noise didn't carry very far. Diana waited for the orderly and the guard to leave; the guard just stepped back, up against the far wall.

"We're taking you out of here," she said quietly, face and voice both so serious. "Peter made the call last night. He wants you out by noon."

"Why?" Neal asked. Diana gave him a look.

"You're sick and there are people waiting to come after you, and you're in a prison infirmary," she said. "You can get better care outside."

"It's the flu, I'm not dying," Neal croaked. "And I'm not sure that's true, anyway."

"You're not useful here, Neal -- "

"That's definitely not true," he breathed.

"Your job was to listen," Diana continued, soft, intense. "Who are you listening to here, Neal?"

"The staff," he said, flailing desperately for a convenient lie. They couldn't take him out, not before he and Gutierrez took care of Keller. "The orderlies. One of them might be in on it. Trying to find out now."

Diana raised an eyebrow. "So this was convenient, wasn't it? Getting the flu?"

Neal gave her his most level look, which probably wasn't as impressive as it would have been if his eyes weren't rimmed with red. Diana didn't fall for most of his crap and she was difficult to manipulate at the best of times.

"I'm staying in," he said. "Try to take me out and I'll blow cover."

"No you won't," Diana replied. "You wouldn't sabotage a case."

"Try me," Neal challenged. It hurt to talk. And Diana was right, but once you were in a bluff you had to see it through.

Diana leaned forward a little more. "You're lying, Neal. You wouldn't kill the case out of petulance."

Neal gave her a sullen look.

"Peter's going after the ledger tonight," she continued.

"So pull me tomorrow morning. If he finds it, great. If he doesn't, I've done all I can," Neal managed, ending the offer with a coughing fit. Diana rubbed his back; Neal pretended it was because she liked him and not for show in front of the guard against the wall.

"You are a pain in my ass," she said in his ear.

"Love you too, Di," he grunted, reaching for his water. The guard cleared his throat and Diana gave him a discontented look, but she stood up followed him out. Neal, done with trying to cram reconstituted applesauce and dry toast down his throat, lay back and concentrated on walking the fine line between 'too sick to go back to gen pop' and 'not quite sick enough to vomit'.

***

"You let him do what?" Peter demanded, and saw Elizabeth wince at his volume. He made an apologetic face at her and rose to step outside as Diana explained her discussion with Neal in the infirmary.

"I think he has a point," she said. "He believes some of the infirmary staff might be in on it. If they are -- "

" -- if they are -- "

" -- then Neal can get it out of them. So I held the paperwork."

Peter closed the door behind him and rubbed his eyes. Working swing shift was already taking its toll; as nice as it was to be around the house in the daytime, he wasn't used to routinely getting home at midnight or sleeping past five in the morning.

"I asked you to get him out of there, not argue with him," Peter said.

"Neal wants to stay in. I respected his wishes," Diana replied.

Peter sighed. "How'd he look?"

"Sick. Not too bad. He was eating." He could practically hear the shrug in Diana's tone. She was probably right; Peter was too close to this to make the call to keep Neal in or force him out.

"Fine. Everything goes according to plan, he'll be out tomorrow anyway," Peter said. "You ready for tonight?"

"Jones is standing by," Diana said, sounding amused. "He's thrilled about going undercover as a pizza guy, by the way."

"Just have him ready to show up when I text," Peter replied. "I'm not going to have a ton of time to get the ledger out of there during my shift. Warrant come through for the office?"

"Judge signed it this morning. Stop by the office and I'll have it ready for you."

"Then we're good to go," Peter said. Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw something, a flicker of movement across the patio; when he turned, all he saw was his shadow.

He thought longingly of his suits and ties, his wing-tip shoes and his shoulder holster, his plain brown belt that didn't have a baton and a can of mace and a radio weighing it down. It was...well, it was interesting, working with the guards. Educational, maybe, a very different life and a very different set of men from what he was used to. It was oddly pleasing to walk down the patrol alley and see the prisoners duck their heads or look away. But it didn't feel like it should be. It stirred up something dangerous that Peter wasn't sure he liked about himself, and it made the baton easy in his hands.

When he'd taken Keller down, he hadn't felt the knife hit the stab vest, and he hadn't even really been thinking about Neal. Without the slightest consideration he had seen a target, and his hand had gone to his holster, flicked outwards and landed a blow across Keller's torso. No hesitation, like with a gun; no stand-off. Just a swift, sure swing with a twenty-one inch Smith & Wesson tac-grade baton. The shock on Keller's face had been gratifying, and that frightened Peter.

He had to get the ledger tonight and get the hell out of supermax before it got to him. And get Neal out before Keller got to Neal. There was something creepy and bewildering about Neal as a prisoner. His eyes were paler, and he held a frightening amount of sway over the other inmates.

When Neal had gone in the first time, gone in because Peter had caught him, Peter had flagged his prisoner file. He'd expected, with some dread, to see Neal in the infirmary -- for fighting, for worse things. Pursuit aside, Peter had liked Neal, who was just a kid and beyond that a likeable guy. He didn't want to see him hurt. The first flag that came up was over a year in, though, and it was only for food poisoning.

Now Peter understood why. Neal, as he always did, had made himself useful, and he had the devil's own luck.

Peter remembered Neal, fresh from prison: raw, grasping, sneaking, heedless, headstrong. He had few redeeming features, just the ability to close cases and the inability to lie to Peter. Peter had tried to make him into something better, the kind of person Neal could have been; he'd rechanneled all that brilliance into something good, or at least mostly on the right side of the law. He thought he'd done pretty well.

Starting over again now would be impossible, but if he didn't get Neal out soon he worried that was where they'd end up.

"Sweetie?" Elizabeth asked, leaning out the door. Peter turned to look at her, startled. It seemed like, this past week, her eyes often drifted past his face, like she was looking for something behind him.

"Sorry, just thinking," he said, and came back inside, kissing her on the way.

***

He can turn himself into a stranger
Well they broke a lot of canes on his hide
he was born away in a cornfield
A fever beats in his head like a drum inside


Part Three
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)

[personal profile] azurelunatic 2010-11-04 07:49 am (UTC)(link)
Oh my! I like Peter's shadows.

[identity profile] rabidchild67.livejournal.com 2010-11-08 01:24 pm (UTC)(link)
OMG, I am loving this AU so much. Not done yet, but have to comment NOW on how absolutely wonderful and imaginative this story is!
ext_348818: Jack Harkness. (Default)

[identity profile] canaana.livejournal.com 2010-11-08 06:14 pm (UTC)(link)
"You ever think maybe God's fucking with you?" he asked. Gutierrez smiled.

This chapter is funny and gorgeous and hot and oddly sweet. I especially liked little exchanges with Gutierrez and the oddly gentle friendship between Neal and Noel. I'd love to see what happens when Noel gets out, and Neal helps him set up his own little tattoo parlor.

Somewhere, sometime on the outside, he'd make Peter tie him up and he'd torment Peter into letting go, really for once taking what he wanted. He'd court the shade.

And speaking of things I'd love to see . . . what kind of bribes do you take? Because oh my gods, I so want to see the scene that results when Neal finally goes courting the shade.

Neal put his hands behind his back, anticipating the cuffs, and let Peter fasten them around his wrists. Peter gave him one last, proprietary caress, fingers drifting down the nape of his neck,

The blow job was tender and hot and inappropriate and completely perfect. But weirdly, this was my favorite bit--the moment of Neal surrendering to the cuffs, and the D/s dynamic of Peter's both cuffing him and caring for him here.
meret: (lovetoread)

[personal profile] meret 2011-03-22 05:20 am (UTC)(link)
Terrific story! Very original. :)