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24 February 2011 @ 02:00 am
White Collar Fic: Off the Grid  
Posted to whitecollarfic


Title: Off the Grid
Series/Universe: Vanishing Act
Pairing/Characters: Peter, Mozzie, Neal, OCs
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: Season 1
Summary: Peter's willing to go outside the law to get Neal back but he might be too late
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ


Neal stopped keeping track of the beatings, unsure when one ended and the next began since he kept fading in and out of consciousness. He'd figured out what triggered the guards to drug him more and he welcomed the respite from torment, egging them on to shoot him up.

At least a day had to have passed because when his abductor came to visit again he had an entirely different, and equally expensive, suit on.

Fyodor Belanov did two things very well: dress sharp and leave a trail of bodies in his wake. It had been his signature back in Europe: automatic weapons fire to take out anyone breathing who even looked like they might be in the way of what he wanted. Torture was just what his employees excelled at.

"So," Fyodor adjusted his perfectly draped suit, "My men? They have succeeded in persuading you to help me?"

Neal managed to pull himself up into a sitting position, hiding a hiss of pain at what felt like fractured ribs.

"Oh, your men are very persuasive." He gave them a weak thumbs up in a smarmy salute. "Whatever you budgeted for goon squad? You're definitely getting your money's worth."

Fyodor examined him with a cock of the head that was part disgust and part superiority.

"You're a fool. The painting means nothing to you. Why do you persist in annoying me by making me wait?"

"Why should I tell you?" Neal huffed. "You're just going to kill me anyway."

"Ah, no," Fyodor clucked his tongue. "In this country we have to be a little more, how shall we say? Discreet? Too many bodies means too much attention." He carefully hiked up his elegant slacks to crouch down, eye to eye with Neal. "So if you don't tell me? I let you go."

Neal eyed him warily. "That's it? You'll just let me go?"

"Well, not exactly." Fyodor rose, pulling a piece of paper from his inner jacket pocket. "We would deliver you to the FBI as the wanted fugitive you are. You see, when we cut off your tracker anklet and took you we left a lovely forgery like this behind." He tossed the paper onto the ground where Neal could read it.

It was a goodbye letter, in his handwriting, with a perfect signature. Even Mozzie couldn't forge his hand that well. This was a top notch job, no expense spared.

Fyodor really wanted that painting.

"So you see," Fyodor continued. "They believe you escaped, so when we bring you back to them? It's off to jail you go." A malicious chuckle followed that left Neal more chilled than the concrete floor had. "Now, in jail? It's much easier to kill someone. And no worries about the police! So convenient."

Neal pushed the letter away.

"I still won't help you."

Fyodor let out a put upon sigh then turned to his thugs.

"I grow impatient," he told them with a wave of his hand at Neal. "Start breaking things."

o--o

"Wait!"

Peter had strode so fast from the car Mozzie had had to run to grab the back of his coat to keep him from heading straight into the antique store that was the front for the fence who Uri had confessed was representing the party who wanted the Vermeer.

"What?" Peter snapped, impatient.

"You can't go in there cold," Mozzie told him, looking around as if afraid they were being watched. "There are ways we do things."

"Watch how much I don't care," Peter scoffed. "You can see how I do things: I go in, flash my badge and gun and this guy tells us where to find the guy who took Neal. End of discussion."

Mozzie shook his head vehemently. "You do that and Neal's as good as dead. I know this guy, that's how I was able to arrange a meet. If there's any mention of cops he'll play dumb and we'll never find anything out. His front is good, man, totally legit. You could spend months looking through that shop and never find a clue he's one of the top fences for European art in the city."

"So if I don't show him my badge what incentive does he have to tell us anything?" Peter huffed, checking his watch.

Mozzie pulled out a roll of bills - a thick one and the hundred on the outside of the roll probably wasn't for show. "I'm Neal's accountant, you might say, so I'm authorized to draw on his funds as needed and this is exactly what he needs right now."

"A bribe?" Peter tugged Mozzie away from the street, lowering his voice. "I can't bribe a fence! I'm a federal agent! Besides, it would taint the chain of evidence. There's no way I could get warrants based on bribed leads from a felon! How are we going to put these guys in jail?"

Mozzie looked exasperated.

"Listen, Suit. We're way past that now. I had to go off the grid just to get this meeting so that means you're off the grid too. Forget your chain of evidence - it comes down to this..." He fixed Peter in a grim gaze. "Do you want to put them in jail or do you want Neal back alive? Because it's an either or, man. You can't have it both this time."

o--o

"One moment..."

Fyodor ordered a halt to Neal's beating so nonchalantly it seemed as if he was merely bored with the waiting.

Neal spit blood on the already filthy floor, breathing harsh from his lung filling up, likely punctured by one of his now cracked ribs. He held the one arm that wasn't broken across his torso in weak protection, but even he had to realize they were just playing with him until their boss gave the order to finish him off.

His heart beat loud in his chest and his ears strained for the sound of sirens - proof that Peter had found him and everything was going to be fine. But then, the only basis he had for hope was that Peter wouldn't believe his farewell letter despite it being perfectly forged. That tiny glimmer had taken hold in his mind - that of everyone, Peter would be the one person to refuse to accept such an abrupt disappearance.

"I think we may have to find another Vermeer," Fyodor said, sounding frustrated. "This one seems to be too much of a bother."

"What do you want a Vermeer for anyway?" Neal managed. "He's only going to impress a few crusty curators in the Netherlands."

"My son," Fyodor bragged, "was raised in the best schools - even went to Oxford. He knows his art and so does his fiancée." He huffed out a little chuckle. "She's got royal blood in her - can you believe that? Illegitimate, of course, but still..."

"You're kidding me..." Neal could barely draw a breath, but he couldn't help himself. "You're ready to kill me so your kid can give his girlfriend a nice present?"

"A wedding gift," Fyodor corrected. "It's important to maintain appearances. I'm known as an international businessman in London, an art collector. The girl's family already has an impressive collection of their own so it will take something truly special to prove our status and have them accept him."

"But everyone knows it's stolen!"

Fyodor snickered, a mostly humorless sound. "I did say they had an impressive collection, did I not? And not all rich people have ethics when it comes to getting the pretty things they want. This girl? She likes Vermeer. So my boy says get her a Vermeer." He shrugged. "I put out the word and what do I hear? You were the last to have your hands on a very special Vermeer painting."

"I won't tell you where it is." Neal wiped the blood from his lower lip. "You'll just kill the people it belongs to to get it."

Fyodor considered that. "Probably." He let out a long breath and turned towards the door to leave. "Only now I'll just kill the owners of a different Vermeer." He waved a hand to his thugs. "I have no further need for him. Kill him and dispose of the body."

"Wait!" Neal cried. "I thought you were going to let me go! Make the FBI put me back into prison!"

Fyodor just looked down at him, a malevolent sneer curling one side of his mouth.

"I lied."

o--c
 
 
 
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on February 24th, 2011 10:00 am (UTC)
Confession
Welcome to Part 3 in the six part series of Vanishing Act!

I confess I have a special place in my heart for Mozzie's little speech to Peter.

"Listen, Suit. We're way past that now. I had to go off the grid just to get this meeting so that means you're off the grid too. Forget your chain of evidence - it comes down to this..." He fixed Peter in a grim gaze. "Do you want to put them in jail or do you want Neal back alive? Because it's an either or, man. You can't have it both this time."

The same way Neal's totally willing to go off the meter to get Peter back safely, Peter's faced with the harder choice of going against all he believes in - justice and law - to ensure Neal stays alive. Mozzie? He's already thrown out the rule book; he just needed to remind the Suit about the way things are in their world.

Very special thanks to First Reader photoash for her assistance with this fic.

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
ladygray99ladygray99 on February 24th, 2011 10:55 am (UTC)
Peter. This is your cue for a rescue.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on March 9th, 2011 12:30 am (UTC)
Most definitely! But then again, that's just what they'd be expecting... Muahahaha!
rubynyerubynye on February 24th, 2011 04:26 pm (UTC)
You write spine-tingling suspense! Eeep!
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on March 9th, 2011 12:31 am (UTC)
Such a lovely complement from you, hon! Thank you! ♥
oh these heroes come and go;micheleeeex on February 24th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
great chapter!
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on March 9th, 2011 12:31 am (UTC)
Thank you for supporting the series!