Short preamble then the story:

Darn! Someone should have warned me about how addictive writing could become. I never expected to be writing multiple chapters or ever contemplated putting this many words down. What a pleasure, and how wonderful to receive the advise and guidance of others.

This story took on a life of its own. Yes, there is violence but I tried not to drag it out, I just needed the push to be there. You can let your own imagination fill in any blanks or skip without loosing the story. I've hopefully spent more time on the interplay, emotions, responses and history. The details are as factual as I can get and hopefully I haven't tread on anyone's toes (the food, the places, the art is "real", but no characters are intended to represent anyone real, past or present).

I like the banter between Peter and Neal but other characters are important too. There should be something for everyone here. So please enjoy.

Thanks to Jeff Eastin, WhiteCollar cast/crew and UsaNetwork for sharing with us. For allowing us all some diversion. And letting us mess with their characters.

Once upon a time, I had to apologize for multiple errors, but mam711 kindly, and heroically, offered to Beta for me - Oh, wow thank you so much, but I'm still claiming any errors as solely mine 'cause they are. Swanpride, thankfully, provided invaluable nudges along the way to keep the story rolling. Reviews are welcome and appreciated.

Cheers!

O O O

01 SEEN


Neal sat at the far end of a long dark teak bar. The little bistro was tucked along the edge of a tall, relatively mundane building. The owner had spent time adding character to the narrow structure but it was the large sliding doors that opened to the street that set this location apart. It had taken Neal several months to find the location. He sighed and sipped slowly on his favorite coffee, savoring the smooth richness, with a slight kiss of Glenora malt whiskey to finish the aromatic delight.

Neal breathed in the faint scent of the perfume worn by the woman three stools down from him. Her occasional soft laugh tickled at his right ear, as she chatted to a friend. Neal tipped his fedora lower over his eyes. It was nearly time, the reason this little spot was perfect to him.

The streets outside buzzed with the last remnants of the workday. The tall buildings encompassed the cars and the people, dwarfing their very existence. Neal peered down the corridor created by the buildings, a dark gray concrete building to the immediate left and a glass-shrouded building on the right, followed by numerous creations past his vantage point.

Neal could see the first soft rays falling across the glass building. Then the setting sun slowly slipped into view, making the gray corridor turn to a blaze of orange, red and a softening pink. The rays stroked down the sides of the buildings and lit the entire street up. The rays continued to spill down the corridor of buildings until they slid into the bistro and fell at Neal's feet. Now the bistro had the perfect ambiance. Neal beamed.

Neal picked up his coffee, just touching it to his lips when he became aware of a new aroma. Coarse, musky and nowhere near to his liking. He put the coffee down.

A hulk of a man hawked over him. He pressed close into Neal. His husky voice rasped into Neal's ear.

"Mr. Caffrey, I have someone waiting to see you."

The man latched onto Neal's arm before Neal could turn to face the voice.

Neal grimaced as the grip tightened.

"Now."

Not that Neal planned on protesting the mass of a creature that stood next to him. The man was not only massive in stature but the girth of his neck, cut of his shoulders and arms in the black suit jacket he wore spoke volumes, literally volumes, of the muscles that powered the hand tightly gripping Neal's right arm.

Neal caught the man's stern, emotionless face but he stopped short when he met the soft brown eyes that were in stark contrast to everything else.

Before Neal could offer up one of his typical sideways comments, the man had pulled him from his stool at the bar and was ushering him out into the last rays of the setting sun.

The man moved him down the street at a steady pace. To anyone passing it was obvious that Neal was not exactly a walking companion, nor a willing companion of any sort to the man. Being New York, however, to the others passing the two were no more than another obstacle impeding their own progression down the street.

Neal had expected his chaperone to shove him into a nearby vehicle, not to take him on an evening stroll. Neal kept watching the man, still dumbstruck by the sheer audacity of anyone "kidnapping" someone by taking them for a walk along busy New York streets.

They rounded a corner, the skyscrapers casting them into shadow. Neal felt the coolness of the evening. He felt the warmth of the sun dulling into dusk, the impending darkness soon to follow.

Neal shuddered.

The man stopped and turned Neal to him. He narrowed his eyes and glowered at Neal.

"What?" Neal quirked.

The Man's eyes were now slits, the soft brown replaced by a darkness that sent another shudder through Neal.

"We're here," the man stated bluntly.

He spun Neal around and into a side door of a nondescript building. Neal hadn't realized they had moved into an alleyway. He'd been distracted by the man's unrelenting march down the cavernous streets.

They entered into a tight back corridor.

The thump of cabaret music filtered through the walls, while the smell of stale beer permeated the air.

Liquor cases were stacked along one wall, making the corridor narrow even further. The man shoved Neal in front of him. He easily held him up as the action caused Neal to stumble down the corridor.

They took a left, right, then two flights of stairs.

When they reached a landing at the top of the stairs the man tapped on a large steel door. The door unlocked with the metallic click of an electronic mechanism. They passed through a control room of sorts. Two men looked up from several monitors, glancing at the large man, then very quickly dropping their eyes and returning to their tasks. Neal may as well have been invisible to them. Things were happening way too fast.

Neal suddenly felt his gut wrench. He should have been looking for outs sooner than this. He wasn't even sure what last street they had come down, nor what building they had entered. He chided himself for being lulled into a greater sense of security working with the FBI and Peter. He'd come to rely on Peter being there for backup during cases.

Hello, this wasn't a case. Not yet anyway. Hopefully not. Of course, the location couldn't be outside his radius. No, conveniently he was likely well within his radius. Peter's "verifying" wasn't likely to occur until the a.m., and shit, it was a Friday so that was out the window. Great, just great, Caffrey, you screwed this up royally, again.

Neal's self-chiding thoughts were stopped as the man brought him up in front of a carved oak door.

The man opened the door slowly, almost cautiously. Only when the man's entry had been acknowledged by some unseen figure was Neal yanked behind him and through the doorway.

Neal stood in an office overlooking a nightclub - a bar, seating areas, a dance floor and twirling lights could easily be seen through heavy one-way glass at the far end of the office. Opposite the glass sat an ornate oak desk; behind it a man, close to Neal's own age, rocked comfortably in a leather and oak chair. His feet were propped up casually on the desk. His hands were folded in front of him except for his index fingers and thumbs, which were pressed together tightly. His eyes rested calmly on Neal.

Neal had the eerie feeling that he should know the man but couldn't place him.

It wasn't like him to have remained so quiet but then he wasn't used to being kidnapped, at least not like this.

The obvious boss, and the man waiting to see him, abruptly stood up.