Teaser: Kidnapping…Ransom…Betrayal…Who will be left standing?
DISCLAIMER: White Collar belongs to Jeff Eastin and USA Network.
A/N: So, finally I've got another story in the works. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do, and please let me know what you think!
9 a.m. Wednesday
Peter was sitting at his desk filling out paperwork for their last case wondering why Neal hadn't shown up yet. Before he could leave his desk and ask if anyone had seen Neal, his phone rang. Assuming it was his consultant, Peter was really hoping said consultant had a good explanation for being late.
"This is Agent Burke."
"You have 12 hours or the lady dies."
"12 hours to do what?"
"We want $287,500 in unmarked bills to be delivered to the abandoned Market Solutions building on 4th Avenue. Be there at 9 p.m. sharp and come alone."
"Who is this?"
"You're smarter than that Agent Burke and I'm sure you even recognize my voice. How could you possibly forget?"
"Who do you have? A name might be helpful."
"If you can figure out who I am, then you'll have no trouble figuring out who she is. I'm offering you the chance to buy her back. The deal is only good for 12 hours; otherwise she dies. She's of no use to me anymore."
"How do I know you have her? I want proof of life before I do anything."
Peter could hear mumbling in the background and it sounded like people were arguing. Finally, Peter could faintly hear what sounded like "Agent Burke wants to know how you are."
A soft feminine voice came over the phone, it sounded shaky but determined.
"Indigo. You were right."
Peter breathed a sigh of relief; it wasn't Elle's voice. His face paled as he realized the voice did sound eerily familiar although he hadn't heard it in many years.
The gruff voice Peter assumed was the kidnapper came back on the line.
"Satisfied, Agent Burke? Remember, 9 p.m. at the abandoned Market Solutions building on 4th and come alone. No other feds; I'll be watching."
"I'll be there."
Peter had just hung up the phone when Diana appeared at his door.
"What's wrong, Boss?"
She forgot her original question when she saw Peter's face was white as a sheet and she was concerned with whatever had triggered this reaction.
"I need a minute Diana, please?"
"Sure thing, I'll come back later."
Completely forgetting he wanted to ask Diana where Neal was, Peter picked up the phone and dialed his wife. Elle answered on the first ring.
"Are you home?"
Peter's question was more abrupt than normal without even a word of greeting; Elle became slightly worried.
"Yes. I'm home yet. What's wrong?"
"In our bedroom closet, on the top shelf, there should be a box of stuff from when I was a kid. I need you to find it for me while I'm on the phone. I need to know if something is still in there."
"Ok. Give me just a minute to get up there."
Elle started walking up the stairs toward their bedroom.
"Is your day going ok? You sound really stressed!"
"I can't explain right now. I just need you to find the box."
"Ok. Ok. Just calm down Peter; I'm almost there. I'm going to put the phone down for a minute, but I'll turn it on speaker, ok?"
"Fine, just hurry."
Elle turned the phone on speaker, set it on the bed, dragged the small footstool over to the closet and stood on it. She moved a few things around until she found the shoe box tucked away in a back corner. She carefully took it down and set it on the bed.
"I found it; what am I looking for?"
"There should be a colored index card with the colors of the rainbow listed."
Elle rummaged around in the box until she found a light pin index card.
"Ok. I think this is it. Red is I'm hot, Orange is I'm thirsty…Green is…"
"I need Indigo. What's Indigo?"
Elle consulted the card again.
"Indigo is I'm scared. What does this mean Peter?"
"I can't explain right now Elle, but thanks. I love you. Bye."
Peter hung up quickly and Elle just stared at the receiver. She had a strange feeling something was very wrong. Elle perused the list further; interested because she had never seen it before. All the colors of the rainbow were listed with different feelings beside them; most of them at least seemed to make sense. Red was I'm hot and orange was I'm thirsty. Elle wondered if this was a reference to orange juice. Yellow was happy, which must be the sun; green was sick, which was totally understandable. Blue was listed as cold, which again was self-explanatory. Indigo was scared. Elle was curious as to why Peter would be so interested in someone or something being scared. She finally concluded he must have a new case to protect someone, although what it had to do with his childhood was beyond her. The last entry was purple; it was listed as I'm hungry. Purple didn't seem to make sense at first, until she remembered Peter had once made a comment when she had served beets for dinner. He said it had reminded him of being a child because he had helped his mom can beets and his fingers had been stained purple. It seemed rather odd that Peter would think of code words and write them down on a pink index card, but then Elle realized even as a child he was probably already pretending to be an FBI agent and had come up with a secret code. The problem, Elle realized, was that for a code to work you needed someone to pass messages too. She could only reason that it must have been a childhood friend. Peter had never mentioned having any brothers or sisters, and judging by the pink index card, it had to be a girl. Elle was now intrigued about this mystery person and made a mental note to ask him about his childhood friend when he got home.
Diana rapped a bit louder on the door trying to get his attention. Peter finally looked up, but it seemed to take him a few seconds to realize who was at his door.
"What can I help you with?"
"You look awful and you didn't respond when I called your name."
"I'm sorry what was it you wanted to tell me?"
"Neal called in sick. He said he isn't feeling good and won't be in today. Are you sure you're ok?
"Yeah. I'll be fine. I got a call this morning…a woman has been kidnapped. They didn't leave a name, but apparently I'm supposed to figure it out. Also, the ransom demand is very specific; $287,500 by 9 pm tonight."
Peter scribbled two names on a blank piece of notebook paper and handed it to Diana.
"I need you to pull any records you can find with these names…bank records, mortgage records, known associates. Concentrate on the mortgage records first; I want to see that before anything else."
"Frank and Grace Corleone. I've never heard of them."
Peter didn't look Diana in the eye; she sensed something was wrong, but couldn't quite figure out what it was yet. Peter seemed to sense her question, but didn't want to discuss it quite yet.
"Please, just bring me the mortgage records first."
"Will do, Boss."
Diana had turned around and walked several steps to leave Peter's office when she stopped and looked back at Peter.
"Do you think Neal had something to do with this? Is that why you're upset?"
"Neal doesn't do kidnappings; it's not his style. Kidnappings generally involve guns."
"But…you don't really think he's sick do you?"
"I think it's suspicious. He was fine yesterday, although maybe he took celebrating our case success a little too far last night."
"You could check his anklet and make sure he's at June's."
"I think I will."
Diana turned around to leave again and Peter pulled up Neal's tracking data. Peter was just a bit surprised that the data showed Neal was indeed at home. Peter was beginning to wonder if he trusted the tracking data as much as he trusted Neal; both had a history of reliability issues. Peter looked down and noticed that his hands were shaking. He was glad Diana hadn't said anything because he didn't want to admit the call had shaken him up quite a bit. It had started as a routine run-of-the-mill kidnapping; a person he needed to find in a short period of time or else, no emotion involved. The call had ended becoming a lot more personal than he could have ever imagined.