In A Moment

Written, spellchecked, etc. by JanieMarple.

Standard disclaimer: I do not own White Collar, nor any of the characters therein, all non-recognizable characters are not up for grabs. Yes this goes AU and yes there is a pairing in it that is AU. Don't like it? Don't read it. Originally written as a gift for my best friend.

Our cover is blown, where is Neal? We have to get out of here.

Peter bolted toward the vault that Neal was looking for the ledger in.

I should stop telling him he'll go back to prison if we can't crack the case, he can't always function like that.

Avery grabbed one of the many rifles that had been on display. Peter recognized it, mentally cataloging the caliber and the muzzle velocity. M-1 Garand, .30 caliber. 2,800 feet per second. That could go two ways. You'd either never know what had hit you, or it might just go through you. You might have a shot. Maybe. Bones wouldn't slow it much though.

"Neal!" Peter shouted. Neal looked up from the box he was examining in surprise. "Neal, our cover is blown," he said quickly. Neal looked at him in surprise, then looked back behind them. "Peter, get down!" Neal said quickly, pushing Peter to the ground.

Peter heard a shot fired, and then the heavy lexan door slid shut. "Did he get you?" Peter asked, getting up quickly. "We have to find the kill switch," Neal said, handing him the breather. "We'll both use it, Neal," Peter said. "No. That's only two and half minutes for each of us, and that's not enough. We have to find the kill switch," Neal said, and scrambled to his feet to find it.

There was panic in Neal's eyes, he was afraid. "I trust you, Peter," Neal said, trying overcome the panic.

Peter looked all over the walls, not even noticing that Neal's hands were shaking. Neal finally got his attention, trying to show him the kill switch was here on the wall, because Neal was very quickly giving in to lack of oxygen. Peter ran over and got there just as Neal crumpled to the floor. Avery was already aiming for Neal on the other side of the lexan.

Hit the button, let the air back in the room to save Neal, and let Avery shoot him instead? Neal didn't have a hope in hell. And there was already blood on the carpet. Neal had taken that bullet. His chances were not good to begin with, Avery not withstanding. As Peter hesitated, Jones and crew rushed up behind Avery and Reed. Peter hit the button, dropping to the floor beside Neal. He raced to pull Neal's shirt back from his wound, needing to see the extent.

"Dammit Neal, you can't just die on me, you owe me four years!" Peter hissed.

"Jones, we've got a man down!" Peter yelled. Jones radioed it in, requesting an ambulance, as Peter tried to find Neal's pulse.

Three agents came into the vault, putting down their weapons, one of them taking off her flak vest. "Rae, I need your help," Peter said quickly, glancing at her. Rae knelt near Neal's head, her fingertips going to his jugular furrow. "No heartbeat, Peter, need you to do some chest compressions, see if we can get him back," Rae said, lifting Neal's head so she could open his mouth and try to breathe for him.

His lips were tinged blue, lack of oxygen had pushed him to collapse for sure, but the lack of a heartbeat could have been the loss of blood, in which case there would be no coming back. As Peter began CPR, Rae grabbed the cigarettes out of Jones' pocket, pulling the cellophane off of the package to use to cover the gunshot wound. Peter paused the chest compressions, and Rae tried to force breath into Neal's lungs, trying to revive him. Nothing. No heartbeat. No breathing.

The EMT's showed up, charging the defibrillator. Rae moved Peter back as they put the paddles to Neal's body. "Clear!" said the one, and Peter watched in distress as Neal's body jerked in response to the shock. Nothing. Could Neal come back from this? Was it too late?

The other EMT administered epinephrine as they charged up the defibrillator again. Another clear, and they tried to shock Neal's heart back into rhythm once again. Ah, this time there was a sign of life, Neal's heart decided to try to beat. "He needs intubated, I don't think he can breathe on his own," Rae put in. "And I don't know if the bullet went all the way through or not."

Very quickly the EMTs threaded a tracheal tube down Neal's throat, hurrying to get oxygen back into his system, trying to nullify the near suffocation. Rae's cellophane quick fix had worked fairly well, only she hadn't gotten to the exit wound. They rolled Neal to his side carefully, then covered that as well, nixing the sucking chest wound. Neal hadn't even come close to regaining consciousness, and Peter wondered how much damage that meant there was.

The EMTs got Neal prepped for transport, having Jones radio for medevac.

If they're calling in a helicopter, this is bad.

Jones recognized Peter's fear that he'd basically killed Neal. "Rae, I want you to drive for Peter," he said. "You know they'll take him to Bellevue."

Rae acknowleged the order and moved to obey. Add to that that Rae was one of the best drivers in the department, and she might not be that much slower than a helicopter. Rae hurried Peter along, not letting him stare at them loading Neal into the helicopter for very long.

"I'm gonna warn you now, his chances aren't good but they're better than they could have been. If the wound was in his left lung I think I'd write him off, but it is his right lung and there's less chance for damage to his heart," Rae said, unlocking the black Mustang. Not a typical department vehicle.

"Rae, I don't want to hear it," Peter said, getting in the passenger seat.

"You need to," Rae said, starting the car and throwing it into gear. "Suffocation and a sucking chest wound, a collapsed lung, serious blood loss, Peter he could very well be brain damaged even if he makes it."

"How can you be so goddamn cold, Rae?" Peter spat, angry. "I'm not being cold. I'm realizing there could be a problem we don't know about yet," Rae shot back.

Freakin ice princess. I should have known Rae was this cold. How else would she hold her own? God El's gonna kill me, I can't have killed Neal, I can't have.

"Bellevue is the best trauma center in the city, Peter. If he's got a shot, they're the ones who can save him," Rae said, nudging her boss. "I know Rae, I know," Peter said, his elbow resting on the door of the Mustang.

Rae swore softly, and hit a button on the dash, kicking the Mustang up a little harder.

She does have the lights rigged up on this thing. It is a department vehicle.

"You damn well better be buckled," Rae said, pushing the car into a turn Peter would never have thought it could make. Peter clung to the door handle for dear life, wondering if he was going to make it home tonight.

Rae has never been in an accident, she knows what she's doing. Just pretend you believe that.

If anything, when they did get to Bellevue, they were five minutes behind the helicopter. They were immediately told to wait, because there was nothing to tell them yet. Peter sat down with a sigh, pulling his cell out of his pocket to call Elizabeth.

"Peter are you alright? I heard someone got shot!" she exclaimed, answering him on the first ring. "It wasn't me, El," he tried to reassure her.

"Was it Lauren? Or Jones?" Elizabeth asked, distressed. "No, El, it wasn't. It was Neal," Peter sighed.

"Neal's been shot?" Elizabeth asked softly. "Is he alright?"

"I don't know yet, El. We're waiting to see," Peter said. "Is anyone there with you?" she asked. "Rae. Rae drove," Peter replied, seeing Rae coming back with two cups of coffee.

"I'll be there in a few minutes, but I want to talk to Rae," Elizabeth said.

Rae supplied Elizabeth with all the pertinent information, pleasantly enough, and handed the phone back to Peter. And then went off to try to work her charm on someone for more information. She came back just as Elizabeth showed up.

"Well they do know for sure that there's some serious internal bleeding, and the bullet broke his shoulder blade," Rae said, raising her hands in a gesture of defeat. "He's in the OR right now, quite the team they've got working on him."

"What are we going to do with him when he gets out? We can't very well just leave him with June. She shouldn't have to nurse him," Elizabeth mused.

"It'll be a while before he gets out," Peter said in surprise. "If he lives."

"Pretty sure he will," Rae said, somewhat amused.

"We should keep him with us, Peter, he'd be safe there," Elizabeth said. "Whoa no. I need Neal-free time. You need Neal-free time. That's not gonna work at all," Peter protested.

Rae spotted the potential conflict. "I'll take him," she offered, not really sure if she wanted to. "Oh sure so he can work his charms on you, too," Peter scoffed. Rae raised an eyebrow.

"He's more likely to end up on the floor," she said. "I work white collar too, Peter. I'm pretty well aware of the legend of Neal Caffrey. I just don't get to work the glamorous end that you do."

Peter opened his mouth to protest, and then realized that Rae had him on that. She was the brains of the outfit most days. And there was no Harvard jab he could make at her, because she was Southern and had no respect for Harvard either. "I give, Rae. If you think you can take him, by all means," Peter shrugged.

"I'm a little outside your two miles," Rae laughed.

"I can have them change the location. I was thinking about upping it to five miles without telling him," Peter shrugged.

They waited for what seemed like forever, not sure what they expected to hear, not sure what they wanted to hear. Then finally the nurse at the desk waved them over. "Mr. Caffrey is out of recovery, we're moving him to the trauma wing. It's looking pretty good, though. We're going to keep him on a ventilator until we're reasonably sure he's not going to have his lung collapse again or edema," she said softly. "So probably about another fifteen minutes and you can go see for yourselves."

"Is he conscious yet?" Peter asked.

"He was briefly conscious in the recovery room. He's not conscious now. He won't be for a while, Agent Burke, he's in a medically induced coma so he can't move that shoulder," the nurse replied.

"Brain damage?" Rae asked.

The nurse shrugged. "No idea yet. Some is likely, simply from the oxygen deprivation. But it's something we won't be sure of until he can be awake," she said. "We can run some cognitive tests then."

They waited their fifteen minutes, and then someone came to lead them to Neal's room. One of the surgeons met them there. "I heard you were worried about possible brain damage?" he asked Peter. "Yes, we were in a vacuum sealed vault..." Peter said.

The surgeon nodded. "The EMTs said that. There is a possibility for brain damage, but I think for the most part he may have gotten away unscathed. He had substantial strokes of luck," he said. "He'd have bled out if that bullet had been a millimeter higher."

"Can we see him?" Elizabeth asked. "Sure. All I ask is that you be as quiet as possible," the surgeon said.

Neal was so quiet and still, lying in that hospital bed, the cardiac monitor beeping away, the hiss of the ventilator. His shoulder was pretty heavilly bandaged, an IV line in his other arm. He looked so peaceful. Elizabeth took his hand in her own. "Hi Neal. It's El. You're going to be okay," she said, even though she knew he wasn't with it. "Yeah, and you can't very well run from me in this state," Peter cracked softly.

They kept their visit short, and Peter and Elizabeth headed home, while Rae kept up her offer and met with a couple of the doctors to learn Neal's prognosis.