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26 March 2012 @ 08:19 pm
FIC: Fall From Grace  
Title:  Fall from Grace
Rating:  PG
Characters:  Neal, Peter, Mozzie
Spoilers:  None, Pre-Series
Warnings:  Maybe a little glimpse of naked Neal
Word Count:  ~ 3,700
Fill for this prompt from ivorysilk on at the White Collar Freedom Fest - During the chase years, Peter actually tracks Neal down--while he's in hospital. 

Summary:  Peter has a chance to capture James Bonds after after a series of unfortunate events.  But, a series of unfortunate obstacles might just get in the way.




Fall From Grace

Neal’s first attempt at base jumping had been fantastic.  Lauterbrunnen Valley Switzerland, jumping through clouds so puffy and white they had to be cotton, into a sky so pure and blue, past craggy cliffs of grey down to a valley floor swathed in more shades of green than Neal had previously thought existed.  It had been so exhilarating, so freeing, feeling the wind buffet his body, as he first plummeted to the valley floor and then glided gently the remaining distance.

The second time Neal base jumped was somewhat less than spectacular.  Unfortunately, Chicago isn’t nicknamed the windy city for nothing. 

The CEO of Aon Corporation had a stellar collection of art hanging in his office.  Building security was designed for general offices, with no high security measures in place anywhere, even on the highest floors where the company bigwigs resided. 

It was easy enough for Neal and Mozzie to hatch a plan to get in and get two of the CEO’s paintings quickly replaced.  They could move the replacements in gently folded into a messenger bag, but bringing the originals out safety would require a tube and a tube would attract the attention of the security cams even it was only after the fact.  And, neither Neal nor Mozzie wanted to risk their faces being caught on camera carrying a tube out of the building.  So Neal being Neal suggested he base jump from the CEO’s balcony. 

Mozzie had protested.  There had to be a safer way to get out of the building without risking life and limb.  But Neal had reminded him about Peter Burke, the FBI agent who had been on his trail for nearly a year now.  It would not, repeat not, be in Neal’s best interest to leave any breadcrumbs for Peter to follow.  So Mozzie had relented. 

While Neal worked on the forgeries, Mozzie cased Aon learning the CEO’s schedule down to the minute.  On Mondays he had lunch in his offices.  On Tuesdays he played racquetball, but sometimes he skipped that for a high caloric lunch.  Wednesdays he usually just grabbed something on the street, he seemed to have a love of vendor hot dogs.  Thursday was the pick.  That was the day that he and a ‘friend’ would have lunch in room 312 at the Waldorf Astoria. 

The day of the heist Neal dressed to the nines complete with trilby to use as cover against the cameras on his way in.  Mozzie dressed in a Teleflora uniform.  While Moz delivered the largest bouquet of flowers known to man, hiding his face from the cameras and then the CEO’s secretary’s view from her desk, Neal slipped into the office, gloved up and meticulously removed the paintings from their frames and replaced them with his versions.  Then he pulled a collapsible tube and his parachute from the messenger bag.

With the paintings secured, Neal made his way out onto the balcony filled with adrenaline from the rush of the con and the anticipation of the jump.  He secured his chute, climbed over the railing and shoved his hat inside his jacket.  With his heart racing and his blue eyes wide Neal pushed off and out into the air. 

The first moments were as much of a rush as he remembered from Switzerland.   The only difference was the view wasn’t natural and verdant, it was manmade metal and glass.  He waited for as long as he felt was safe to pull the rip cord.  He wanted the rush to last as long as possible. 

Moments after he pulled the cord he briefly flew up, his stomach leaping, another sweet rush blooming through him.  His hands tingled, his heart thumped, he was flying and it was amazing. 

Then he was sailing gently toward the street below.  As he neared the tenth floor he braced himself for touchdown.  But Chicago decided to intervene in Neal’s gentle landing.  A sudden gust whipped though the street between the buildings Neal was sliding by, ripping the chute and Neal, backward and up and precariously close to the Aon building. 

Neal’s heart stopped for a moment as he struggled to regain control of the chute.  And then all seemed calm again and he resumed his gentle downward motion.  He was back around the 50th floor and he was heading toward the sidewalk now instead of the middle of street, but he could work with that.

Unfortunately he hadn’t anticipated the flag poles that reached out from the side of the building at the 30th floor.  His chute caught, was pulled taut and Neal waited helplessly, staining to see, praying that the chute would just pull free before he was slammed into the side of the building.  But, it didn’t pull free.  Instead it tore viciously sending Neal plummeting to the sidewalk below.  

He fell hard, thankfully, on the sidewalk itself and not a pedestrian and was then dragged several yards down the sidewalk by his chute and the treacherous wind.  Finally, he managed to unclip the chute and he struggled to gain his feet. 

An indescribably piercing pain shot up his left leg sending him back to the ground.  For a moment he lay there with his eyes squeezed shut, helpless, trying to regain his breath.  When he opened his eyes again a crowd was starting to gather.  Apparently, his decent and unfortunate landing had not gone unnoticed as had been the plan. 

He struggled to his get on his hands and knees.  He had to get away, had to get around the block to where Moz was waiting in their getaway vehicle.  There were hands on him, people were talking, he could hear sirens in the background.  He had to move.  He regained his feet, his left leg screaming in agony.  He felt around his back to make sure the tube was still secured to his pack and then he stumbled forward.  A couple of the onlookers attempted to stop him, to get him to ‘wait for the cops and the ambulance’, but Neal pulled free, out of desperation and pushed his way through the crowd.

By the time he made it to the car, he was shaking, nauseous and sweating from the pain.  He threw his pack, the empty messenger bag and the tube into the backseat, pulled the passenger door open and essentially fell into the car.

“Geez Neal, cut it a little close why don’t you?”  Mozzie whined as he pulled the car out into traffic. 

Neal wanted to reply, wanted to throw some snarky response back at Moz for not even noticing the state he was in, but he was too busy trying not to scream.

He sat there in the car breathing through his nose hoping to squelch his nausea while nearly biting through his bottom lip fighting the pain coming from his leg as Moz traversed the city streets in a dash to the highway.

Finally, Moz eased the car up the ramp and into traffic on the highway.  Neal couldn’t hold back anymore and he moaned.  Mozzie turned his head and really looked at Neal for the first time since he got in the car.  He didn’t like what he saw at all.

Neal’s face was a pasty white and covered in sweat.  His once immaculate grey suit was torn and grimy.

“What the hell happened to you?” Moz blurted.

“The jump didn’t go quite as planned.”  Neal replied through clenched teeth.

“I’d say the landing was probably the bigger problem.”

Neal really wasn’t capable of handling Mozzie’s snark at the moment so he remained quiet.

Mozzie looked again at Neal.  He was clearly in a lot of pain.  This was so not good.

“What hurts?”

Neal had closed his eyes and was still trying to breath past the nausea and the pain.  “Left leg, it’s definitely broken.”   

“Looks like you’ve got a nasty case of road rash going on too.”

Neal could only nod. 

Mozzie’s mind was whirling.  They were out of their comfort zone.  They didn’t have any resources in Chicago.  And, Neal needed a hospital.  There was no way they were making it back to New York without getting Neal some medical attention first.

They were on 1-90 heading south, if they kept going to the state line and took a left at Calumet City, they’d end up in Gary, Indiana in under an hour.  And, crossing state lines would make things tougher for any cops who might be on their tail.  Gary, Indiana it was. 

“Hang on Neal.” 

Peter sighed in relief as he left the conference room of the Chicago white collar unit.  It had been a very long morning of meetings.  He was definitely overdue for another cup of coffee.

Two other agents were lingering next to the coffee machine when he arrived at the staff lounge.  They were talking about some incident that had occurred that morning. 

“Yeah, he actually base jumped.  Apparently it was rather dramatic.  The guy’s chute got caught on a flag pole and ripped and he basically free fell twenty floors to the sidewalk.”

 “Geez, was he hurt?”

“Oh yeah, supposedly he landed bad, and then he was dragged across the sidewalk before he was able to disengage his chute.”

“Ow!  And, then he somehow managed to take off?”

“Yeah, which is why the LEOs think that it wasn’t just some stunt.”

Peter couldn’t help himself.  The tale was pretty fascinating… and familiar.  So he jumped in.  “What do they think this guy was up to?”

“They aren’t sure, but he apparently jumped from the office balcony of the CEO of Aon Corp.  Could have been some corporate espionage thing, or the guy has a pretty big collection of art hanging in his office?“  The agent shrugged.

Peter’s head was spinning.  His need for coffee forgotten he headed out into the hallway as he hit his speed dial for Jones.  Peter didn’t even let his subordinate say anything when he answered.

“Jones, I’ve got a lead on James Bonds.  I think he just hit a corporate office here in Chicago.  And, followed it up by hitting the sidewalk during a failed base jump.  I’m pretty sure he’s going to be looking for a hospital.”

“You want me to start calling hospitals in Chicago looking for guy who did a humpty dumpty?”

“No, I’m sure the locals are on that.  But our guy won’t stay here, even hurt.  He’s going to get out of the city.  He’s probably even going to try to get across state lines.”  Call around to every hospital an hour or so out.  Start with Indiana and then move on to Michigan.”

“You’ve got it Peter.”

Unfortunately, Neal had needed surgery to pin both the fibula and the tibia in his leg.  Fortunately, they had gotten him into surgery pretty quickly and Neal was now in a regular room, the anesthesia mostly worn off. 

Mozzie had just left to find him something to wear, since they were planning to hightail it out of the hospital within an hour or two.  What of Neal’s suit that had not been ruined by the sidewalk had been ruined by the emergency room personal cutting it off of him. 

Neal sighed and closed it eyes.  He knew he needed to rest until Moz returned.  It was going to be a long drive back to New York.  They couldn’t risk flying.  Apparently Neal’s little escapade had made the afternoon news.  Even though they had managed to leave Illinois, the possibility of the FBI being close on their heels was not remote at all.

Neal’s phone buzzed.  It was Moz.

“Moz?”

“Neal, you need to get out of there now.”  Mozzie whispered urgently.

“What’s going on?” 

“The suit, Burke, I just saw him in the lobby.  Get out of there man.  I’ll pick you up outside the emergency room entrance.”

Peter strode purposefully up to the front desk of the hospital.  Jones had scored big, finding a man fitting James Bonds description who had checked into a hospital in Gary, Indiana with a badly broken leg suffered from a fall.  The man had needed surgery and Peter was hoping he had arrived before the suspect was out of recovery.

Peter knew he had little hope of nailing him for whatever had really happened in Chicago today.  There was no way Bonds would have any evidence on him and the jump itself would only be a misdemeanor and carry a small fine, but that didn’t matter if he really was Bonds.   Peter couldn’t help the gleeful smile that crossed his face at the thought of getting this guy.

He stopped briefly at the desk, learned that his suspect had been assigned to room number 612 and headed toward the elevator. 

Neal was feeling pretty frantic.  They had brought a pair of crutches to his room, but he wasn’t supposed to be using them yet, so they were leaning against the wall across from his bed.  Then there was the little inconvenience of his lack of appropriate clothing.  His hospital gown was the sum total of what he was wearing at the moment.  There was however no time to do anything about the second issue.

Neal levered himself to a sitting position.  The injured skin on his left hand, arm and side protesting as it stretched.  Thankfully, his leg was still pretty numb though he was fairly certain that wouldn’t last too long if he was forced to put any weight at all on it.

Carefully, he swung his legs off the bed.  Okay, that wasn’t bad.  Standing on the other hand, wasn’t so good.  He became so dizzy that his vision started to tunnel.  He feared that he might pass out as he stood leaning heavily on the bed, breathing deeply.  Eventually, his vision cleared and his head stopped spinning. 

Neal was painfully aware of the fact that time was ticking by as he began his trek across the room, hopping on his good leg, leaning on the bed for as long as he was able.   He was breathing heavily by the time he reached the crutches.

Neal had used crutches once before, for a con, but he had never actually needed to use crutches.  Nor had he used them with the extra weight of an actual cast to throw off his balance. 

“Here goes nothing.”  He muttered as he shoved the crutches under his arms and took his first step toward the door.

He was out of his room and on his way down the hall when he heard the elevator ding.  Neal stopped, butterflies swarming in his stomach.  He knew without a doubt that Peter Burke was on that elevator.  Neal spun as quickly as he could and began heading in the other direction.  He was certain that there had to be another set of elevators on the other side of the floor.

Peter got off the elevator at six, quickly glanced at the sign on the wall indicating which direction 612 was in and then turned to the right.  At first he was so focused on getting to Bonds’s room that he failed to notice the guy crutching his way down the hall wearing nothing but a hospital gown.  But then he looked up, saw the guy’s ass cheeks waving in the breeze and couldn’t help but snicker.  The guy was rather awkwardly making tracks down the hallway apparently obvious to the fact that everyone and his brother was getting a free show. 

Then, Peter took another look.  The guy was trying to move pretty fast.  He was lean, wavy dark hair, broken leg, Bonds!

“Hey, FBI stop!”  Peter yelled as he picked up the pace.

As Peter suspected would happen, the kid didn’t stop, he actually managed to crutch faster instead.

Peter started to close the gap.  But just as Bonds ducked around a corner, a nurse pushing a wheelchair complete with a man with an elevated and casted leg came trundling out of a room right in front of him.  Peter couldn’t stop his forward momentum and he slammed into the chair, eliciting a startled yelp from the nurse and a string of curses from the man. 

“Sorry, I’m sorry,” he muttered as he disentangled himself from the chair and resumed his pursuit. 

By the time he had rounded the corner his target has regained his lead. 

Neal didn’t know what had slowed Burke down but he was eternally grateful for it.  He was sweating, breathing heavily, his armpits ached and every swing of his casted leg sent a wave of agony up to his groin. 

He turned another corner and saw a bank of elevators just down the hall.  If he could make it to them, he had a chance. 

The sound of running footsteps came from behind him again.  “Stop!”  Burke yelled.

Neal didn’t stop.  Just in front of him there was a cart filled with dinner trays.  As he passed it he turned and used one of his crutches to lever the cart over, scattering trays of hot food, juice cups, salad bowls, and utensils across the floor. 

It caused enough of a commotion that several people turned to look, and two staff members began to try and right the cart, putting up even more of an FBI roadblock.

Neal smiled as he launched himself toward the elevators. 

Peter saw the kid’s smirk and doubled his resolve.  He was not going to let this latest obstacle keep him from reaching Bonds before he made the elevators.  Peter attempted to jump right over the mess, the cart and the two people attempting to right it.  But, his foot hit an errant juice cup, his ankle twisted and Peter went down into a puddle of meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

He was able to regain his composure just in time to see the elevator doors close behind his suspect.

“Damn it,” he cursed.

Neal let out the anxious breath he was holding once the doors closed completely and the elevator began to slide downward.  He was exhausted and hurting worse than he could have imagined possible, but he still had to make it to the emergency department and out the door.

Peter scrambled to his feet, slipping in the mess and ran to the elevator bank.  The elevator that Bonds had entered was headed down.  He was headed to street level.  Peter quickly looked left and right and spied a stairwell just down the hall.  In moments he was headed down one flight and the next until he reached the main level.  He pulled open the hallway door and ran for the elevator.  It was on its way back up again.

“Grrrr,” Peter snarled in frustration.

Neal huffed and panted as he headed toward the emergency department.  Somehow he had made it safely out of the elevator.  He could do this.  He actually had a chance despite the broken leg, the surgery, the pain and the crutches of escaping.  He was starting to feel kind of dizzy, but there was enough adrenaline in his system to get him to Mozzie, at least he hoped there was. 

The hallways were a lot busier down here and he was getting some strange looks especially from the back.  But he kept moving.  The emergency department wasn’t far.

Peter turned to head back down to the main entrance of the hospital.  But, there was no sign of crutches or skimpy hospital gowns.  So he switched directions and headed toward the back of the hospital and the emergency room. 

He hadn’t gone far when he began to hear people snickering ahead of him and then he caught a glimpse of his fugitive turning yet another corner further down the hall.

Peter sped up.  He had him now.

He rounded the corner, Bonds was just ahead going through the double doors into emergency.  The kid turned back just as he went through the door.  He spotted Peter and Peter could swear he saw genuine fear in the kid’s eyes for the first time.

Then the doors closed and he was gone.

Neal saw Burke just behind him.  He was close, really close.  He had one chance but it would leave him even more crippled if it didn’t work.  But, Neal was certain he would be caught if he didn’t put up one last obstacle.

Decision made he took the crutch from under his right arm and shoved it into the looped handles on the doors.  Then he turned and took off down the hallway hobbling as best he could with just his one remaining crutch. 

Peter reached the doors to the emergency department moving at full speed.  He grabbed the handle, pulled and was whipped forward into the door nose first when it didn’t open.

He cursed, and pulled again.  The kid had just gone through it 20 seconds ago, what the hell, he thought as he rubbed his aching nose.

Peter pulled and pulled to no avail.  Then he started banging on the door.  “Hey, someone the door is stuck, emergency!”

It took way longer than he thought it should have but eventually the door opened.  As he ran through he noticed a single crutch in the hand of the person who had pushed the door open for him.

He booked it through the department, dodging gurneys, wheelchairs, patients and personnel.  As he approached the front desk he could see Bonds just outside the doors at the curb.  He was opening the back seat door of a non-descript looking silver sedan.  Just as he was about to climb in the wind whipped viciously lifting the flimsy hospital gown completely up around the kid’s head.  Peter stopped, blinked and couldn’t help the laugh that escaped him as Bond’s flung himself into the car head first his naked, tanned and taut body following. 

Then the car was gone.

Peter shook his head in disgust.  It was going to be hard to explain how he had lost a disabled and barely clothed Bonds.  Then he noticed the state of this clothing and shook his head in disgust again.  He looked and smelled like he had lost an argument with a smorgasbord.   Oiy.   



 
 
 
ivorysilkivorysilk on March 27th, 2012 03:02 am (UTC)
Oh, that was awesome! I loved the sense of urgency--and yet total silliness--of this chase! Thank you so much for writing this for me!!! That was seriously brilliant. I don't know who to feel sorrier for--poor hurting Neal or poor humiliated Peter!
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on March 27th, 2012 03:19 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it.
sinkwriter: WC - Neal - Meeeep.sinkwriter on March 27th, 2012 03:34 am (UTC)
LOL. Oh Peter... nice try.

(And that final image of Neal cracks me up. Yet somehow I'd believe he'd be that persistent to get away, even if it meant flashing half the city. *GRIN*)

P.S. This was amusing to read right from the start. I used to live in Chicago, and a friend of mine used to work in the Aon Corp. building. Hilarious. She said they were the evil empire. Apparently Neal and Mozzie think so, too. LOL!
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on March 27th, 2012 03:40 am (UTC)
That's interesting to know. I sort of picked the building at random, after googling tallest buildings in Chicago. Good to know I picked a good one.

Thanks for reading.
wyncatastrophe: Ryn's Italian photographwyncatastrophe on March 27th, 2012 03:34 am (UTC)
Oh, this is beautiful. Snarky and funny and hurried and just great. :)
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on March 27th, 2012 03:42 am (UTC)
Thank you! That's exactly what I was going for. ;)
oh these heroes come and go;: [wc] what's the plot again?;;micheleeeex on March 27th, 2012 03:36 am (UTC)
I love this!
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on March 27th, 2012 03:42 am (UTC)
Thank you!
pipiljpipilj on March 27th, 2012 05:56 am (UTC)
This was really funny. Loved Neal quick thinking and Peter perseverance. Felt a bit sorry for both.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on March 28th, 2012 12:20 am (UTC)
Me too.
Sholio: WhiteCollar-Neal hatsholio on March 27th, 2012 06:39 am (UTC)
*grin* Fun!
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on March 28th, 2012 12:21 am (UTC)
Thanks, it was fun to write.
nieseryjnanieseryjna on March 27th, 2012 10:00 am (UTC)
*delighted laugh* that was delicious!
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on March 28th, 2012 12:22 am (UTC)
I hope your not referring to the meatloaf and mashed potatoes. ;)
elrhiarhodanelrhiarhodan on March 27th, 2012 01:15 pm (UTC)
Adorable! Sort of White Collar meets The Keystone Cops! Poor, poor Peter - he'll eventually get his man.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on March 28th, 2012 12:22 am (UTC)
Yes, he will. Glad you enjoyed it.
Winterwinterstar95 on March 27th, 2012 09:14 pm (UTC)
Cute!
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on March 28th, 2012 12:23 am (UTC)
Thanks!
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile hatfrith_in_thorns on March 28th, 2012 12:05 am (UTC)
Oh, Neal! *glee* This is very fun! :)
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on March 28th, 2012 12:24 am (UTC)
Thank you! It was fun to visualize as I wrote it.
rude02rude02 on March 28th, 2012 04:48 am (UTC)
LOL!
Not a boring minute
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on March 29th, 2012 02:58 am (UTC)
Thanks, glad you liked it.
sheeniannisheenianni on April 1st, 2012 04:49 pm (UTC)
This was just so funny and amazing :) I love it :)
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on April 1st, 2012 06:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
noiproksanoiproksa on April 5th, 2012 05:31 am (UTC)
Heee, that was a fun read! Thanks for sharing!
pooh_collector: pooh2pooh_collector on April 7th, 2012 05:08 am (UTC)
Thank you, it was fun to write.
story_unfoldingstory_unfolding on April 11th, 2012 03:10 am (UTC)
I would love a follow up piece to this - Peter and Neal discussing it years later :) Or Peter putting the pieces together that Neal base jumped and was telling the truth. Great story!
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on April 11th, 2012 03:45 am (UTC)
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. I'll think about a follow up, it's an interesting idea.
Ferryboat GeorgeFerryboat George on May 3rd, 2012 03:59 am (UTC)
That was hilariously tense, I loved it.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on May 3rd, 2012 02:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you, it was pretty fun to write too.