I don't own White Collar or the characters, just having some fun with them until January.
Author's Note: I have reworked Peter and June's conversation. Thank you to Ultracape for pointing out a little discrepancy.
The morning air was cold, and it hit like little razor blades across his face as he stepped from the warmth of his town house. The low gray clouds threatened the snow that the weather man had been predicting. He pulled his dark gray wool overcoat tighter around himself and smiled. Not even the weather was going to dull his good mood this morning. There was a slight skip in his step as Special Agent Burke headed for his car. It was only two weeks until Christmas, and this year was going to be special. He whistled to himself as he unlocked the car door. A smiled crossed his face as he thought of his plans for the evening. He was looking forward to surprising his ex-con turned consultant by taking him along to pick out this year's Christmas tree. He, and his wife, Elizabeth, already saw Neal Caffrey as family, and it was about time they started treating him like it. The smile never left his face as he drove in to the office.
Peter could feel tension in the FBI bull-pen as soon as he opened the glass doors. The team should have been happy; they had closed a huge case the night before. One of the city's major crime bosses was finally going to jail, and they looked to have an easy case load for the next few weeks. He glanced at Neal's empty desk as he walked through the room. Peter was early today, but Neal usually beat him to the office. No matter, he told himself as he kept walking, Neal wouldn't be late. Neal was never late. Peter gave a slight shrug of his shoulders and headed up to his office to finish the paperwork he had left from last night. He was still whistling under his breath as he removed his coat, and took his seat behind his computer.
There was a knock on his door that made him jump slightly as it broke his concentration.
"Peter." The door opened to reveal Agent Diana Barrigan. She was tall and slender, and fairly attractive. Peter had worried about her when she was a Probationary Agent, but now she was a trusted member of his team.
"What's up Diana?" He didn't even look up from his computer screen. He wanted to get this report finished and on Hughes's desk so he could leave early.
"We have a problem." It was more the tone of her voice than what she said that made Peter tense. When his eyes met hers, he felt a knot form in his stomach.
"Neal?" He didn't want to know the answer, but he saw the answer in her eyes.
"He's cut his anklet. It went offline around midnight."
"Midnight?" He was furious as he jumped up from behind his desk and started pacing. "Why weren't we informed earlier?"
"The Marshall's tracking system was doing a software update last night at midnight, and nobody noticed the discrepancy until this morning."
Peter felt the knot in his stomach tighten. Neal had seemed so settled lately. What could possibly have possessed him to cut his tracking anklet? He stopped pacing to push a hand to his temples to keep back the headache that was trying to form. He could feel the heat rising in his cheeks. Neal could be so stupid sometimes. Now, he had blown it. There would be no more second chances, they would throw him back in jail this time, and there wouldn't be anything that Peter could do to stop it.
"I'm going over to check his apartment." Diana offered, as she watched confusion, hurt, and anger flash across her boss's face.
"Alright. I'm coming with you." Peter grabbed his coat, and led the way out of the office.
Peter approached the three story white stone house. June, the caring widow who owned the house had taken a liking to Neal, and had been renting her upstairs apartment to him. It was more than an apartment though. It had one of the best views of the city. It was a mini palace, with its fashionable décor and antiques. It fit Neal's personality to a tee, and he and June had become quite close. Peter was a little taken back when the front door opened before he could knock.
Peter found himself face to face with June. The woman's face looked unusually tense.
"Peter. I'm so glad you're here. I was just on my way to find you. Something has happened to Neal."
"He's running June. He's cut his anklet, the Marshall's received the signal." Peter watched the older woman consider his statement. Her face only grew more hardened, and her eyes narrowed as she looked him over before answering.
"No, he's not running Peter. I fear something worse has happened to him." She paused, and took in a long breath. "You need to see his apartment."
Peter noticed that June hung back behind them, as he and Diana approached Neal's apartment. He could feel the cold air coming from under the door. That was odd. He gave Diana a cautionary look as he pulled his sidearm, and held it with one hand at his side, while pushing the door open with his toe.
"Boss…" The tone in Diana's voice matched the thoughts in Peter's head. Panic churned in his stomach as he took in the scene he was staring at.
The small dining table and chairs that normally stood in the middle of the first room were turned over. The paintings on the wall now hung crooked. All the contents of the kitchen counter were strewn across the floor. As Peter cautiously stepped into the room, sending Diana around the other side of the table, he heard the sound of broken glass under foot. He looked down to find the stem from a wine glass, and what was left of a bottle of wine, just in front of him. The wine had created a puddle around the broken glass shards. Peter bent down and felt the stain on the floor. It was almost dry.
"Boss, you need to look at this."
Peter looked up to find Diana standing in front of the glass doors to the balcony. As he crossed the room to join her, he felt an uneasiness starting to creep into the back of his mind. One of the doors had been shatter. Most of the glass was lying on the stone floor outside. Peter found it hard to swallow as his eyes rested on a puddle of blood on the far side of the balcony. Lying amongst the blood and glass was a large chopping knife and small black object.
"It's Caffrey's anklet." Peter just nodded when he heard Diana's statement. He wasn't sure he could move. The anger that had had him leaping out of his desk was now replaced with fear and guilt. Had he actually doubted his friend when in fact his friend was in danger? He pushed the thought to the back of his mind.
"Call Jones. Get a team out here. And bag that knife." He closed his eyes and clenched his teeth. Neal was gone, and Peter had no idea who had taken him.