Neal Caffrey vaulted over the rusted iron divider with ease, hard on the heels of the stock broker's bodyguard who ran ahead. The bodyguard had stumbled slightly in the darkness and Neal was closing the distance when he caught sight of a gun in the guy's hand. Skidding to a sliding halt behind a dumpster he heard the gun fire, unnaturally loud in the alley between two brick buildings. The bullet stung the dumpster in front of him. Neal ventured another look; the guy was up and running. He started to give chase but was rewarded with the welcome sight of Clinton Jones at the end of the alley, gun raised and yelling, "FBI! Gun down, now!"

The perp immediately saw he couldn't outdraw a trained FBI agent and stopped, throwing down his weapon. Neal smiled and turned around. No one behind him. No one at all. He frowned and then went back, looking over the divider.

He smiled when he saw Peter Burke lying on the other side; evidently Peter didn't make the jump over the top. This would be good for some jokes in the near future. "Hey, Peter, what happened?"

Neal didn't really get a coherent response, just some garbled noise that could have been cursing or groaning. He went back over the top, taking care not to land on Peter.

Even in the shadowed darkness of the alley, Neal could see Peter's eyes were open. "Guys your age gotta watch these obstacles," Neal teased, not resisting the temptation. One of Peter's legs sprawled out in an unnatural angle and Neal bent down to gently move it back in line.

Once he picked up the leg he noticed a wet stickiness and that dark glistening on Peter's pant leg registered. Blood. Quite a lot of it too. Suddenly, Neal remembered. The gunshot. Two gunshots perhaps? It was way too loud for one.

"Peter! What happened? Who shot you?"

Even in the weak, watery light of the moon and distant streetlights, Neal could see Peter's eyes looked really weird, out of focus. Peter flailed an arm toward the darkness. "Some guy," he croaked.

Neal suddenly felt vulnerable; unnoticed before, there was a shadowy recess in the building. He and Peter were wide open here. Neal turned quickly but there didn't seem to be anybody there.

He could hear Jones and Diana yelling irritably in the distance. Sucking in his breath, Neal approached the darkened area.

A figure brushed by Neal, shoving him aside in a furious dash for freedom. Running footsteps took off down the alley, in the direction Peter and Neal had come in from. Neal yelled. "Jones! Diana! Back to the van; we've got a shooter escaping!"

He heard their yells of acknowledgment and he saw the figure approach the street. The street light however, was not his ally; Neal heard Diana's voice, saw the guy raise his gun and then there was gunfire. Suddenly the guy was down. Diana Berrigan stepped forward, kicked the gun away and put her foot on the guy's chest, holding him down.

Neal turned back to Peter, who was moving around in a jerky, disjointed fashion. "Hey, take it easy, partner," Neal said, trying to project soothing tones. "Jones and Diana got both of them."

Jones yelled, "Caffrey, what's wrong? Where's Peter?"

Neal stood up. "Peter's down! Get an ambulance here right away!"

Jones, at the other of the alley, shoved his prisoner in front of him and Neal heard him speak on the radio. Glancing in the other direction, Neal saw Diana had gotten the cuffs on her prisoner and had him up against the van they'd all sat in for so many hours watching and listening.

Neal knelt down to Peter, who was still trying to thrash around. "Peter, stop it! Quit moving around. Everything's OK and everyone's all right." Except you.

Peter, as usual, didn't seem to be listening and actually tried to get up. Neal, not caring about his suit or Peter's in the filth of the alley, easily pushed him back down. "Peter, what's wrong? Are you hit somewhere else?

Peter didn't seem to be able to see Neal; his eyes roamed around but focused on nothing. "My head. Hit it hard. Hurts."

"OK, OK." Neal felt better; he had something to work with now. He ran his hands around Peter's head and found a bump on the back of it. Buried in the debris on the ground was a rusted iron bar with a flat raised edge. This had to be what Peter hit when his leg was shot out from under him. "Wow, you did hit it pretty hard, buddy. But there's no blood. Just relax; help's on the way."

"Can't. My gun. Lost it." Peter was still twitching around.

Neal was exasperated. "Look, just stay quiet. I'll get your gun. Promise me you'll stay there."

Peter didn't acknowledge and if the situation hadn't been so serious, Neal might have used Peter's own handcuffs on him. Still keeping an eye on Peter, Neal stood up and looked around. After a few moments, some light glinted off the gun barrel and Neal picked the up gun, brushing off some debris.

"Here. Relax now; I have it." He held it up in front of Peter.

Peter must have seen it because he finally quit trying to move around. "Good. Good."

They heard sirens getting closer. "The cavalry here's, Peter. Don't worry about anything. Jones and Diana have the suspects and you're going to be taken care of." Neal suddenly remembered something. "Look, I know Elizabeth's out of town but I'll call her right away and then you can talk to her when they get you cleaned up, all right?"


Neal sighed in annoyance. "What do you mean, no?"

"She worked hard. Really hard. Tonight is the big party. Call her tomorrow."

Neal was perplexed. "Peter, she's going to want to know about this. I don't want to face her when she finds out no one called her right away."

Peter gripped his arm. "Don't spoil it for her. All she's talked about for a month." His eyes still wandering around, he added, "I have to take care of Satch."

Neal heard footsteps approaching but didn't look up. "I'll get Satchmo, don't worry." He paused. "Look, you and Elizabeth didn't have a fight, did you?"

"No." Peter suddenly started moving, limbs flailing out in all directions. Neal grabbed his friend tightly, hanging on for dear life.

The ambulance guys came on a run. After some quick exams, they muttered words like head injury and convulsions. Neal was moved out of the way by Clinton Jones, who stood there with the same petrified look Neal had.

They milled around the hospital waiting room, feeling useless and in the way. Neal Caffrey felt conflicted. He still hadn't called Elizabeth. Reese Hughes showed up at the hospital, talked with the nurse and made the decision to wait. Neal wasn't sure if that decision was for him as well but for now, he went along. Peter had been adamant. But Peter had also cracked his head against some iron bar in a dirty alley. He was hardly thinking straight, let alone talking sense. But Hughes decided to wait to hear what the doctors said, so Neal stewed in worry and indecision.

Jones had booked his prisoner. Neal had ridden with Diana, whose prisoner was in the operating room now. No one felt any remorse for him though, least of all her. He would recover. She paced the waiting room like a caged tigress. Neal knew she must be thinking of the time she'd lost Charlie, her childhood bodyguard. And praying lightning wouldn't strike twice.

At last the doctor came out.

"You're here for Agent Burke?"

Neal, Jones, Diana rose and stood beside Hughes. "We are," Hughes replied. "I'm Reese Hughes, Agent Burke's immediate superior."

The doctor, a young, harried type, barely acknowledged the introduction. "I'm Doctor Wilson. Agent Burke's gunshot wound is not too serious; the bullet went through. There is some tissue damage, of course, but he should recover barring any infection. I understand he was shot in an alley, so naturally we have him on very strong antibiotics."

"What about his head injury?" Hughes asked brusquely.

For the first time, Wilson's attitude seemed a bit more compassionate. "We just did a CT scan. Agent Burke has a brain contusion; a brain bruise for lack of a better term. The scan showed a small amount of blood at the impact area but I think we can handle this with drugs rather than an operation. There isn't a skull fracture, which certainly helps. Right now, I have him on a ventilator in ICU, under constant monitoring. If the situation should worsen, we will have to operate."

They all stood still, digesting the news. Finally Hughes said, "I need to call Agent Burke's wife. Is there anything else I can tell her?"

Wilson pursed his lips. "If they're religious, say a prayer. Agent Burke might come out of this with just a bump and a very bad headache. If not…. Right now he is in a light coma."

Neal Caffrey felt ill. Glancing around, he saw stoicism on Jones and Hughes' faces, sadness on Diana.

This isn't happening. This can't happen. This started out to be an ordinary night. A little while ago they had all sat in the van and groused about the boredom. How could it turn into life or death? Neal couldn't wrap his head around the change. Soon, he would wake up and this would be a very bad nightmare. It just had to be.