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02 March 2011 @ 11:59 pm
White Collar Fic: The Curtain Falls  
Posted to whitecollarfic

Title: The Curtain Falls
Series/Universe: Vanishing Act
Pairing/Characters: Peter/Elizabeth, Mozzie, Neal, OCs
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: Season 1
Summary: Peter finds himself at the hospital covered in a lot of blood with only little hope
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ

It was only after Elizabeth arrived at the hospital and stared aghast at him that Peter realized what was wrong: he had Neal's blood on him.

He'd been pacing so vehemently, thrusting his badge at anyone he thought might know if they had been able to revive Neal, that he hadn't even looked down at himself.

After a heartfelt kiss that soothed him a little he handed over his car keys and let her get a change of clothes from the trunk for him.

In the mens room his reflection in the mirror demanded his attention with the violence of red on stark starched white.. He'd barely held Neal in his arms for seconds yet blood stains spanned his entire torso, concentrating where Neal's head had lain against his shoulder.

He'd almost been unrecognizable; they hadn't tried to spare his face at all. The discoloring of bruises along with copious amounts of dried blood to go along with the fresh told a story of repeated and brutal beatings. They'd clearly been torturing him for days, trying to get information out of them.

Peter slammed his hands down on the counter, feeling a futile rage rise up in him.

"Damn it, Neal! Why didn't you just tell them where the painting was?"

Grumbling to himself, he changed clothes briskly, shoving his dirty ones carelessly in the bag; they wouldn't be put into evidence anywhere. Knowing he was too late to prevent this was hard enough. Knowing there wasn't a damn thing he could do to prosecute the bastards who did it? It was almost unbearable.


Elizabeth's voice at the cracked open door jolted him out of his reverie and he rushed out of the bathroom to find Mozzie standing nearby.

"There's news," Mozzie admitted, still grim faced.

He turned and a doctor in surgical scrubs was walking towards them, reading a chart.

"You're here for Neal Caffrey?" he asked, looking up.

"Yes," Peter answered breathlessly, flashing his badge automatically as Elizabeth gripped the sleeve of his other arm in obvious concern. "Is he..."

"He's still in surgery," the doctor answered. "We had a hard time reviving him and we're still not sure if we can save his punctured lung - it's probably been filled with blood too long - but he's alive for now."

"Oh, thank god," Elizabeth murmured by his side.

"What are you not telling us?" Mozzie asked, ever suspicious.

"To be honest, even without the drugs in his system - and we're still not sure what they are - the damage is extensive." The doctor looked tired and clearly wasn't trying to put on any sort of reassuring bedside manner face. "The punctured lung isn't the only internal bleeding; we're still finding places broken ribs have damaged blood vessels and we can't even think about setting his broken arm until he's out of the woods. This all depends on him. If he's a fighter, he'll probably pull through."

"He's a fighter all right," Peter asserted.

"On the other hand, if he's got a good reason to give in and not struggle so hard to make his way back..." Peter's heart sank and he saw the same realization on Mozzie's face as well: Neal had a perfectly good reason not to return to a world of grief. "Just be prepared..."

The doctor nodded to them and turned to go as Peter let himself sink into a chair.

"He'll fight," Mozzie said, but his small voice resonating in the wide white hall lacked conviction.

Peter buried his head in his hands as Elizabeth sat beside him, putting a consoling arm around him.

Mozzie believed Neal would fight - he had that level of faith in his friend.

So Peter tried hard to believe it too.


It was a slow and steady beep, of a particularly annoying timbre, but the heart monitor meant Neal was alive so Peter bore it, welcomed it even.

Despite his badge they weren't letting anyone have more than fifteen minutes at a time in the ICU, but Peter showed up for his allotted fifteen minutes every hour, mostly pacing the rest of the time though Elizabeth had convinced him to eat some of the dinner she'd brought him when the hour grew later.

Mozzie had used his down time to go out and get some colored pencils and had started a piece of art on Neal's cast. It was an odd way of communing with an unconscious friend, but Peter somehow knew whenever Neal woke up he'd see it and know Mozzie had been there with him. A part of him wished he had some visible show of friendship himself, but there wasn't even an anklet on Neal to remind him of his partner.

Peter pulled his chair in close, knowing he only had a few minutes left before the nurse ejected him again.

He kept his voice low, more because this was private - between him and Neal - than anything else.

"Some doctors believe unconscious people can hear when someone's talking to them, so I guess I'm figuring you're one of those overachievers who will if it's possible at all." He cleared his throat, all humor disappearing from his tone. "Listen, Neal. Whoever you were protecting by saying no to Belanov? Whoever you thought he was going to kill for the Vermeer? You saved them, I'm sure of it. But he's going to go after someone else, you understand? He's going to kill someone who owns a Vermeer, maybe even a whole family..." Peter knew he was playing on Neal's empathy. He'd only chosen to commit non-violent crime for a reason; he didn't want anyone to get hurt - ever. "So I need you to help me stop him. I need you..." Peter closed his eyes tight for a moment, giving himself a few seconds for his voice to be strong again. "I need you to come back to me. We're a team - you and I. Partners. And I can't get the bad guys without my partner."

"Sir?" The nurse loomed in the doorway. "I'm sorry, your time is up. Mr. Caffrey needs his rest."

"Yeah, sure..." Peter rose, giving Neal one last look, then - even under her watchful eye - gave Neal's uninjured hand a squeeze. "I'll be waiting..."


Peter could no longer taste the vending machine coffee. He'd long emptied the thermos Elizabeth had left him with when visiting hours forced her and Mozzie to leave for the night and was now just running on caffeinated sludge and hope.

His badge had allowed him to stay and the overnight nurse had ended up more lenient; he could remain in the room with Neal as long as he wasn't disruptive.

Three, four, five passed on the clock and then dawn began to seep through the blinds. Peter's stomach rebelled at the acid invasion, but he knew Elizabeth would be back at seven with more food and a hand to hold that wasn't still and cold.

It should have felt strange, holding a man's hand, but he'd wanted Neal to know he was there, wanted him to know he was there for him.

From time to time he'd try a little squeeze, praying for an answering one in response.


"Good morning!" Apparently 6AM was time for the shift change because Peter didn't recognize the nurse who pulled the curtain around Neal's bed the rest of the way open to let the light in.

"Morning," Peter managed, watching her as she went through the steps of checking all the machines hooked up to Neal.

She was gone all of five minutes before she returned with a doctor in tow who went through all the same steps.

"If you could excuse us?" the doctor said politely as the nurse gestured to usher him out.

"Is everything all right?" Peter asked, fresh worry straining his already depleted adrenaline.

"Nothing to worry about." The doctor gave him a reassuring nod. "We're just going to give Mr. Caffrey a chance to breathe on his own - see how he does."

Peter exited the room, but watched from outside as they extubated, replacing the tube forcing air down Neal's throat with a simple oxygen mask - his nose likely still too battered inside for a nasal cannula.

After monitoring Neal's breathing for a while the doctor left, looking satisfied and the nurse remained, making notes on a clipboard. She glanced over and saw Peter hovering and beckoned him in.

"You can sit with him," she offered. "Just don't do anything to rile him up."

"Thank you." Peter settled back into the chair beside Neal's good arm. He wanted to make a crack about how it would probably take nothing short of a brass band to rile Neal up in this condition, but there was no humor to be found.

At 6:25AM the nurse finally finished up her work and left them alone.

At 6:35AM Peter's stomach growled in complaint at him.

At 6:45AM Neal's eyelashes fluttered.

If Peter thought he had no adrenaline left for a reaction he was wrong - the rush that went through him at such a tiny sign of life left his whole body abuzz.

"Come on, come on," he urged, holding Neal's hand tighter than he probably should, as if pure force of will would make him wake.

When nothing else happened he laid his weary head on the bed, forehead pressed against their joined hands. All of this couldn't be for nothing. The escape, their deal, taking on Fowler, the jet exploding, Neal hesitating for him, and only him, instead of just getting on the plane...

That one word - just his name - so filled with meaning unspoken...


It resonated in his head again and it took a split second to realize it wasn't a memory.

Neal had spoken it aloud the same way he had at the airstrip.

Peter's head darted up and he watched as Neal's eyes opened to mere drugged slits.

It was hard to see beyond the hazy confusion in his eyes but he was in there - Neal was still there and he recognized him.

Squeezing his hand and relishing the answering - if weak - response, Peter let out a breath in deep relief.

"I'm right here."

Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on March 4th, 2011 02:17 am (UTC)
Welcome to Part 5 in the six part series of Vanishing Act!

Ah, the H/C laundry list of salty goodness: waiting room angst, ardent hand-holding, tense ICU visits and heartfelt proclamations. And then of course the emotional reunion when the person who almost died finally wakes up. HEE! Too bad this series isn't slashy. I'm only missing declarations of love as far as my H/C jones are concerned. (I gave up having an intense ambulance ride in favor of my carry kink. Hehehe)

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


Emma DeMarais
One Part Exuberance; Two Parts Obsessionpenguingal on March 4th, 2011 02:49 am (UTC)
This just keeps getting better and better. My heart hurts for Peter. And my whole body says ow ow ow ow ow ow ow for Neal.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on March 9th, 2011 12:22 am (UTC)
/♥ you/

It hurts so good, you know?

Final part's up now!
oh these heroes come and go;micheleeeex on March 4th, 2011 03:18 am (UTC)
great chapter!
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on March 9th, 2011 12:22 am (UTC)
Thank you! Last part's up now!
ladynikoladyniko on March 4th, 2011 05:16 am (UTC)
HUGE sigh of relief - they got him to the hospital in time. :)

I was hoping there'd be an update to this fic today & lo & behold, there was! Hoorah!

Thanks for filling my desperate need for Neal!whump. :)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on March 9th, 2011 12:23 am (UTC)
You are most welcome! The world needs more Neal!whump and I'm delighted to have made a contribution on that front. /grins/

The final part is up now. Thanks for reading!
Ursula4xursula4x on March 4th, 2011 05:50 am (UTC)
I loved Moz leaving art messages and Peter in the dark, talking to unconscious Neal with all of his heart.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on March 9th, 2011 12:24 am (UTC)
Re: Lovely
Thank you! Those are some of my favorite bits as well. I'm a sucker for hospital hand holding and unconscious declarations - people begging loved ones to come back to them. /sniff/

Final part's up now, btw.
Dani: Kris SQUEE!umbralillium on March 4th, 2011 04:49 pm (UTC)
YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! *runs around room happily* Yes, I know, he's got a long road to recovery ahead of him, but he's taken the first step!
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on March 9th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)

He's still in recovery in the final part, which I just posted, but he's our Neal again and that's what matters. :-)

Thanks, hon!
ladygray99ladygray99 on March 5th, 2011 02:04 pm (UTC)
You do do the H/C thing well but you really kept us hanging on this one.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on March 9th, 2011 12:24 am (UTC)
Thanks! All six parts are up now, btw!
dragonfly.dreamwidth.org on March 7th, 2011 04:46 pm (UTC)
Whew! He's alive and even recognized Peter. Loving this.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on March 9th, 2011 12:24 am (UTC)
Thank you! Last part's up now!
Deb: Bomerdamietta on March 9th, 2011 02:54 am (UTC)
I loved the part where Moz drew on the cast. That would be something he would do! I'm actually catching up on this; I saw part 6 and am working backwards!
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on March 9th, 2011 06:36 am (UTC)
Hee! Well the series post is supposed to make following easier, but it's not like I don't have it easy enough to find on my LJ as it is (I used to write tons more than I do now).

I wish I was a more visual writer; I'd love to have had some idea what Mozzie drew so I could have shared it with readers.

Thanks for reading!