After "Out of the Box" Spoilers!

Lots of whumpage!

Peter kissed El and gave her a quick hug before leaving their home and making his way to his car. He slipped inside and promptly felt something cold and metallic pressed to the back of his neck once the door had closed.

"Hello Agent Burke." Peter glanced up at the rear-view mirror. His assailant wore a ski mask so he couldn't see what they looked like. He sat there stiffly in the vehicle trying not to provoke the man.

"You seem to know me, but who are you?" The man just smiled in the reflection without saying a word. Peter felt a cold chill down his spine at that smile but that was all he knew before he felt electricity pulse through him from his neck. His body jerked in response and he slumped forward against the steering wheel, panting for breath. He felt another jolt and he collapsed across the front seat in a heap. He heard the sound of tape being ripped off a roll and then felt his arms pulled back tightly behind him and bound securely. The masked man pulled the agent into the back seat and lay him across the floor. He felt something soft pushed into his mouth and another ripping sound then tape pulled over his lips.

"We're going to go pick up your partner." The man spoke condescendingly and slipped into the front seat, starting up the car and taking off. Peter moved ever so slightly in the back of the vehicle, eyes staring somewhat blankly as he tried to focus. The vehicle stopped after a while and he heard the man honk the horn once. Peter looked up as the figure turned back and peered over the seat at him. He saw the taser's glow, felt another shock and then passed out.

(Beep! Beep!)

Neal heard the honk of Peter's Taurus as he reached the last stair and picked up his fedora. The young man wondered what was up since Peter was early. Neal shrugged to himself, flipping the hat up to his head in a quick motion. He turned to smiled at his friend and landlady, June as she stepped out of the dining room to greet him.

"Sounds like Peter's in a hurry. Don't keep him waiting, and oh... here's some coffee for him." Neal smiled at her and gave her a small kiss on the cheek. She blushed and grasped his arm gently.

"Such a charmer. Have a good day at work." Neal bowed to her with a little flourish, winked and turned on his heel. He left June's brownstone mansion and locked up as he trotted over to the blue Taurus and Peter. He heard the horn again and grimaced. What was Peter's problem? Geesh!

"I'm coming. I'm coming already..." He muttered to himself, the thermos from June in the crook of his arm. He heard the pop of the passenger door unlocking and opened it up, bending over to slip inside.

"Someone woke up on the grouchy side today..." Neal had barely said that when he paused finding a small automatic facing him instead of Peter. The man with the ski mask behind the gun didn't look too friendly either. They were in the driver's seat and Peter was no where to be seen. The young man felt a sick feeling come over him unsure of what to do as he stood frozen in place.

"Please, get in Mr. Caffrey. We've been waiting for you." Neal stayed still a while longer still in shock at the situation. The man seemed to realize what was wrong and pointed, gun cocked, to the backseat. Neal peered over the passenger seat and saw Peter slumped on the floor bound and unconscious.

"Either get in, or you'll need someone to clean this car out thoroughly from his splattered remains." The voice was dark and Neal nodded with a gulp, as he moved woodenly into the vehicle and closed the door. The figure smiled and slipped into the backseat while continuing to hold the gun on Neal.

"Now, get into the driver's seat and go. Don't worry where. I'll tell you as we move." Neal nodded with a blank expression as he slipped across to the driver's side, looking in the rear-view mirror at the figure and what little he could see of his friend. They drove for several miles before the man told him to take a left out of the city to the suburbs. They drove down many an uncluttered street till they reached what appeared to be a more rural area. A dirt road to the left was their next turn off and finally the man had him park in the midst of a large pasture in the middle of nowhere.

"What do you want?" Neal tried to keep his voice calm but it was hard when he was both angry and scared about Peter being hurt and himself being held at gun point. He hated guns! It was one of the few things he promised he would never take up.

His thoughts were interrupted as he heard a movement from behind and looked up in the rear-view mirror curiously. It was a moment too late because he felt a shock like pins and needles flow through him. His body jerked and he sagged forward against the seat-belt. His breath came in pants as he fought against the need to faint. He felt another shock as the taser hit his bare neck again and another shudder went through his body as he slumped forward a bit more, head pulsing with the sound of his heart. He heard a slight movement behind him and felt a hand near his right hip. There was a click as the seat-belt release was pushed and the harness pulled aside. Neal slumped to his side across the front seat and lay there twitching slightly.

"Just rest, Mr. Caffrey. You'll have a surprise waiting for the both of you when you wake up." Neal tried to turn his head but could only move his eyes. He saw the masked man press a rag up to his face. Something sickly sweet filled the young man's nostrils and he made a weak attempt to move but the rag was draped across his face and soon everything started to go hazy. He heard a loud tearing sound and was just vaguely aware of the masked man pulling his arms behind him and securing them.

"We're going to have so much fun. Trust is such a strong word. I wonder what it means to you." The man's words blended into one big murmured sound and everything went black.

(Rude awakening)

Peter woke up to the worst headache he could think of. He'd never drunk much of anything but this was about as close to the one time he overdid it, only worse. He thought he might actually die from the pounding in his head so he continued to lay against what felt like cool tile, eyes shut till the pounding began to recede enough he thought he might survive. He cracked open one eye and found that the room was dimly lit and bare, a single bulb on a wire hanging high overhead. He opened up the other eye and found the little bit of light was enough to make his head ache and closed his eyes yet again.

Where am I? I was going to pick up Neal...

He tried to remember what happened but his head ached too much so he just lay there and tried to recover. The pounding slowed to a mere rattle in his brain and Peter opened his eyes once again. He saw the room was small, sparse and made of cement if not cinder blocks. He saw a metal door without a knob to the far side of the room which was maybe 20 ft away. He pushed himself up onto his elbows and groaned softly. He had been tied up but now he was free. He started to push himself up against the wall to sit when he heard a rattling and saw the source of the sound.

Around his right ankle was a manacle of metal with lots of tiny spikes on the outside. It was attached to the wall he was now leaning against and had maybe 4 feet of chain attached to it if even that much. He yanked on the chain a bit but it was secure. He sat there and sighed wondering what hellish nightmare he had waken up to. He started to think of those horror movies the kids liked nowadays but shuddered at the thought of that actually being truth. Maybe he was dreaming. He closed his eyes and tried to think of his house and bed. He thought about El sleeping next to him and opened them again to the same bare, gray room.

"Agent Burke. I see you're awake." He heard a voice resonate from some hidden speaker. It was the man who had been wearing the ski mask. He'd remember that voice anywhere. Now it was all coming back to Peter.

He had gotten into the Taurus and then someone had tased him and tied him up. The man had mentioned going to pick up Neal. Peter felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise in horror wondering if Neal was here as well but saw nobody else in the small enclosure. He looked up at the ceiling and the light fixture for the source of the voice as it spoke again.

"Your partner is still sleeping. Don't worry. He's OK for the meanwhile. Once he wakes up we're going to play a little game." Peter felt a cold shudder run up and down his spine at the last word. He felt a bit of rebellion rise in him and he spoke aloud.

"Game? Why did you bring us here?" He wondered if the mystery person could hear him at all but then the voice replied.

"Oh, I like to call this game: Trust. Call it an unofficial corporate exercise in how far you can trust your partner to have your back as they say." Peter heard a soft menacing chuckle in the background and shuddered again. Whoever he was, the man knew enough about them to have caught them unawares. He just hoped that Neal was indeed as OK as the man claimed but he wondered for how long either of them would be safe.

Peter sat there in the small room and stared at the blank gray walls feeling a wee bit claustrophobic. He didn't have a tendency towards that feeling but at the moment he felt more trapped than he had ever felt in his life. Peter worried about Neal's well-being as well as what El must be thinking at the moment. He had no idea how long he had been out or if it was still the same day or not. He knew he must have already been here waiting a good hour since the voice spoke but he couldn't even be sure of that without a clock to verify.

He noticed that he was missing anything that could remotely be used as a weapon or means of escape. His belt and shoes had been removed, wallet, his gun of course, holster and jacket. He was left with only his clothing and socked feet. He kind of wished he had his jacket at the moment, the room a bit chilly as he felt the coolness of the cement through his slacks and thin shirt. It might just be an after effect of the taser perhaps but he was certain the room wasn't the warmest he'd been in.

He must have dozed off at some point because he woke up to the sound of a metal door opening up. He pushed himself up slowly to a sitting position again, neck sore from sleeping on the hard floor. A masked figure approached him and stopped about halfway. They held some kind of remote in their hand. Peter looked directly at the person without fear. The man smiled and pushed a button on the remote.

Peter felt pain. Horrible pain that wound its way up from his ankle and throughout his body. The chain was electrified! He slumped over and trembled on the floor in a semi-fetal position. He could just make out the figure approaching him, his vision blurring in and out. The man pushed the remote again and Peter felt more agony like fire burning, a strangled scream escaping his lips. It finally ended and he lay there panting, eyes rolled back into his head. He was only slightly aware of someone releasing the manacle from his ankle. His arms were pulled back behind him and strapped into place securely before he felt himself dragged unceremoniously from the room.

"Your partner woke up, Agent Burke. Time to play our game."

(Where am I?)

Neal dreamed several vivid nightmares of watching the plane explode over and over again as he tried to run to Kate. In one of them he actually got on the plane as Peter watched him leave. He hugged Kate close to him just before she said.

"Good-bye Neal." He looked at her curiously when suddenly heat and pain assaulted his senses and he felt as if someone was trying to cook him alive. He tried to scream but it was too late in the inferno that erupted around him. He watched Kate vaporized before him as he felt his own body seared by the explosion.

Neal woke up in a cold sweat, breath coming to him in shallow gasps. He couldn't catch his breath, his chest feeling as if an elephant were sitting on it. He lay against a cool hard surface and tried to move, his body unresponsive as he fought for air. His arms flailed uselessly beside him as he tried to sit up. He couldn't scream or cry out, a whistling sound escaping his lips as he lay there helpless.

"Neal, breathe." He heard Peter's voice in his head like the time he had almost died in the vault at Avery's. The air had thinned out and he had passed out and stopped breathing at some point. Peter had brought him back. The young man started to calm down thinking about his friend and mentor. Slowly the pain in his chest eased up and he was able to breathe normally again with some effort. The whistling sound became more of a raspy wheeze and he was able to cough.

He opened his eyes and waited for his vision to focus on his surroundings. He found himself in a dimly lit cement or cinder block room. It was sparse and gray to say the least. A single bare bulb hung high above him from a cord and flung a small amount of light in a circular pattern around the room. The young man managed to sit up after a moment and pull himself up against the wall. The room was cool as were the walls and floor. He noticed a metal door without a knob or handle about 20 ft away across the room. He made a move to stand and noticed his shoes were missing as was his belt, cuff links, wallet and jacket. The other thing he noticed was the rattling sound from his right ankle. He had a new accessory: a large metal manacle, with several small spikes around it, clinging around his right ankle. It was attached to the wall he leaned on and looked to have about 4 feet of chain. Neal made a pull on the chain but it was secure and he didn't like the look of the manacle.

He had barely assessed his surroundings and anklet when he heard a voice resonate around the room.

"I see you're awake, Mr. Caffrey. How is Agent Burke's pet con feeling?" Neal bristled at the title and made a move to stand but didn't when he remembered the chain. He heard a menacing chuckle echo around the room from some hidden speaker.

"Did I hurt your feelings? I apologize. What kind of host would I be if I were rude to my guests." There was silence and then the voice continued.

"Now that you've woken up, we're going to play a little game." Neal glared up at the ceiling unsure where the hidden camera was but determined to show he wasn't afraid. He wondered where Peter was and hoped they hadn't hurt him.

"Oh, don't worry about your keeper. He's been awake for a few hours already although he's currently napping. So, are you ready to play our game of trust?" The young man looked around the ceiling and spoke.

"Trust? Why should I trust you? What do you want with us?" He sounded angrier than he ever had but he was worried about Peter. How long had they been here? He thought about Elizabeth and what she must be going through. His brow furrowed in anger as he glared up at the ceiling again. He heard the same menacing chuckle.

"Oh, it's not me you're going to have to trust. I won't give anything away. The game will begin soon, so be ready." The voice cut off and Neal was left in silence again. He pulled his arms around himself, the chill of the room getting to him. His head ached just a little from the after effects of the chloroform but overall he wasn't feeling too badly. Mostly he worried about Peter. Where did they take him and why were they both here, wherever here was.

He didn't have long to wait as the metal door suddenly slid aside and a masked figure appeared, gun in hand. Neal saw something like a remote in their other hand. They pushed a button on it and he heard a click as the manacle released from his ankle. He sat there a moment unsure what to do.

"Please stand, Mr. Caffrey and walk towards me slowly." Neal nodded reluctantly, pushing himself up to his feet with the help of the wall. The world swam drunkenly around him a moment before he caught his balance as well as overcame his nausea and took a few tentative steps forward. He felt like he was learning to walk for the first time but slowly his muscles began to work again and he no longer felt he was sinking into the floor with each and every step. He saw the masked man watching him, gun pointed at him dangerously. The man moved backwards towards the door as Neal moved in the same direction and they exited.