Season 4, through 4.12, Brass Tacks

Disclaimer: Characters are all from the brilliant mind of Jeff Eastin. Thanks!

The last time Mozzie had to help Neal up the steps and into bed was that time in Switzerland, when Neal was replacing several small gold figurines from the Landesmuseum Zurich with his own exquisite copies, and he'd missed a foothold climbing down the exterior stone wall. He ended up with a severely sprained ankle and a mild concussion from the combination of landing badly and hitting his head against the wall. In his defense, the ice storm that had occurred earlier in the day probably had something to do with his slip.

Except for the breaking and entering, the forgery and the ice storm, this time didn't feel all that different to Mozzie. At least the result was the same (well, minus the gold figurines). He and Neal had finally identified the bit of New York skyline that matched Ellen's key; now they just needed to figure out exactly what it meant. Neal was determined to honor his promise to Elizabeth and not involve Peter in their search. Strangely, it was Mozzie who was having second thoughts about keeping the Suit out of the loop. Of course, that may have had something to do with Neal being chased by a pair of goons on Senator Pratt's payroll and then slipping off a rain-slick metal fire escape, severely spraining his ankle and getting a mild concussion from the bad landing and subsequent head-banging on a brick wall. At least he had escaped from whomever had been chasing him.

They decided it would be better for all if they spent a few hours at a safe house instead of heading straight to June's. Monday was Mozzie's only safe house currently in Neal's radius. He had to leave Neal on his own for a few minutes until he could flag down a cab, when it became apparent that Neal wouldn't get to Monday or anywhere else under his own power. In the five minutes Mozzie was gone Neal had managed to crawl into an impossibly small space that was nothing more than a shallow gap between two buildings. Mozzie's normal paranoia cranked up exponentially until Neal finally responded to Moz's quietly panicked calls.

"Neal, we've got to get out of here," Moz said, a little desperately. "They might come looking for a body and we shouldn't let them find one - or make one." He pulled Neal out from his hiding space and to very unsteady feet. When Neal's only response was to sway forward and back Mozzie just draped Neal's arm over his shoulders and dragged him to the cab.

Under normal circumstances Mozzie would have had the cab drop them off a few blocks away from the safe house - fewer prying eyes, not to mention the cab's GPS sensor. Of course, Neal's GPS sensor would allow him to be found even faster, should anyone care to look, but Mozzie decided to deal with one crisis at a time. And the timely crisis to deal with immediately was Neal's swelling ankle, newly-blossoming shiner, and unnatural lack of coordination. Mozzie settled for getting dropped off about a block and a half from Monday, which put them conveniently in front of a neighborhood bar. Anyone seeing them would think he was helping a friend who had over-imbibed, and Moz tipped the cab driver sufficiently to ensure that he'd forget them as soon as he dropped them off.

By the time Mozzie opened the second of two doors leading to Monday Neal was about as pale as Mozzie had ever seen a living human being, and he was pretty sure the death grip Neal had on his shoulder would leave a mark.

As much as he wished it would be the last time (but was pretty sure it wouldn't be), Mozzie settled Neal in the aforementioned bed (futon, actually) so that all parts that needed to be elevated were, in fact, elevated. He retrieved his orthopedic emergency first aid kit from its place behind a copy of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (because the orthopedic kit was the one in which he kept the compression bandages and not the antibiotics) and extracted chemical ice packs and bandages. The first pack he placed gently on the side of Neal's head, where a lump had already formed.

"How badly does this hurt?" he asked.

Neal made a sound somewhere between a grunt and a groan. "It'll be okay," Neal eventually said as Mozzie put a second pack even more gently over his bruised eye. Mozzie kept up a steady stream of patter while he carefully wrapped Neal's ankle. Neal could do stoic with the best of them, but even he whimpered once or twice while Mozzie made certain his battered joint wasn't broken. Neal dozed off midway through, and Moz let him sleep - he'd wake him soon enough to run through the usual concussion questions.

It wasn't until Moz had finished wrapping and icing Neal's ankle that he could finally step back and consider their second problem - this issue of getting Neal out of the Pratt's crosshairs. He had already mulled over every option he could come up with, and none of them worked without Peter Burke. Sighing, he carefully lifted Neal's cell phone from his inside jacket pocket. Not carefully enough, apparently, as Neal's fingers wrapped around Mozzie's wrist.

"Moz?" he asked hoarsely.

"I just thought I'd call the Suit without needing to burn another phone," he replied.

"No. We have to keep Peter out of it. I promised Elizabeth."

"That's fine, Neal, but don't you think he's going to notice if you go to work tomorrow -" he looked at his watch - "later today with a black eye and a limp? You'll need to tell him something, and it has to be good enough to get you off anklet. We need to do that sooner rather than later because it's just a matter of time before they find you again."

"Sorry, Moz, you're right, and I'm sorry that you'll have to burn another safe house."

"Yeah, well, at least I don't have to waste a phone."

Mozzie texted Peter a brief message ("neal's in danger. calling you in one minute - dh."). It turned out to not matter, as Neal had fallen asleep again and didn't hear what Mozzie told Peter, anyway. Peter, being the agent that he was, would not take Mozzie's word that Neal needed to be off anklet "for his own safety and yours, Suit," but did agree to meet them both someplace public in an hour.

So Mozzie had to drag an increasingly miserable Neal off the cozy futon, back down the steps to the warehouse beneath Monday, and crosstown to a garishly lit diner that brought out the blue in the swelling over Neal's left cheekbone.

"What the hell have you two been up to?" Peter demanded as soon as he saw them at a booth opposite the door. Neal was slumped against the wall, his face nearly matching the white porcelain coffee mug in front of him.

"Peter, I -"

"What, Neal?" he asked after a ten count when it became evident that Neal was not going to finish that thought.

"Pratt's people are after him, Suit. They were chasing him, he got away but he fell. They're going to find him again if he can't get off his anklet." Mozzie polished his glasses with the paper napkin on the table while looking at Neal, whose eyes were unfocused. "Please just get him off-anklet and I'll tell you the whole story."

"Moz, no." Neal shook his head as he became more aware of where he was. Neal had learned that people often underestimated Moz, at their own peril; it wasn't something he himself had done. He did, however, occasionally forget how dangerous his friend could be, until he realized Mozzie's silence was practically screaming. Putting his glasses back on Moz turned toward Neal with a cold, hard look.

"I will not watch you die for this," Mozzie said, barely above a whisper.

Peter was stunned. He had never seen that look on Mozzie before, and certainly never expected to see it used on Neal. He broke the tension by pulling out his phone. "Alright, but you'll tell me why I'm doing this as soon as I get back," he said, leaving to call the Marshals from the privacy of his car. When he returned a few minutes later Mozzie had his hand on Neal's shoulder and was talking to him softly. Peter couldn't tell if the expression on Neal's face was one of exhaustion or resignation.

Mozzie slipped out of the booth as Peter approached, key in hand. Peter frowned but was silent as he removed the tracker from Neal's swollen ankle. Mozzie had done a nice job wrapping the compression bandages around the anklet. "Car's out front" was all he said.

Continued in Chapter 2