oper_1895: Neal Caffrey in a suit. (Default)
[personal profile] oper_1895
Title: Best Case Scenario: Affronted
Author: oper_1895
Fandom: White Collar
Rating: R
Pairing: none
Words: ~4000
Spoilers: Front Man, kinda.
Contains: Socially enforced power-play/indentured servitude, humiliation, bondage, and kidnapping, oh my!
Notes: I offered to fill prompts for my lovely readers (it's still open!). [personal profile] yamx asked for a continuation of Best Case Scenario. This fic follows the events of Front Man.

(p.s. All gifts will be filled by Boxing Day :D )

Betas: Many many thanks to [personal profile] jumpuphigh and [personal profile] bientot who helped me get this into shape.


Neal stared at his reflection then tugged his shirt collar up a bit, to cover the metal collar on his neck. That only lasted a moment before he bared the collar again. Technically he wasn’t allowed to cover the symbol of his status, but if there was one thing Neal was good at it was distraction. Bright tie, sharp suit, brilliant smile and very few people actually noticed the collar. He didn’t let it bother him that much now. While Peter essentially owned him, he was a good man and most of the time Neal could forget he was less than human in the eyes of the law. But today Neal was nervous. He tugged his collar back up again.


Neal tweaked his shirt once more, and thudded down the stairs to where Peter was waiting. Peter took one look at him and sighed.

“You know why we’re doing this.”

“I know.” Neal distracted himself with making sure his cuffs sat just so.

“The more of an asset you are to the bureau, the easier things will be for you.”

“I know, Peter.” They’d been over this already, Neal was starting to feel like a kid sent off to his first day at school.

“It’ll be one day, two at the most,” Peter held out a cell phone, “and take this with you. Call me if you need to.”

Neal gave Peter a smile as he tucked the cell into his pocket.

“Agent Rice is a good agent. A bit of a stickler for the rules, but she‘s not going to hurt you. Remember, no one‘s allowed to hurt you.”

Neal didn’t bother to respond as he lifted his chin for Peter to attach the leash. Technically no one but Peter was allowed to hurt him, but it’s not like he had any recourse if they did and they knew that.

“Now get going. She’s waiting for you.” Peter gave him one final pat on the shoulder. Neal pasted on a smile and opened the front door.

Rice didn‘t even bother to say hello before she demanded that he remove his coat and tie.

“What?” He spent a lot of time this morning trying to find just the right outfit to blend into the background, but still looking like he considered this important.

Rice frowned. “I didn’t think I’d have to tell you that you’re not to speak unless I ask you a direct question. It’s too easy for you to hide things under the coat, and you’re using your tie to help hide your collar. And that’s the only explanation you’re getting all day. Take them off.”

Neal shut his mouth and slipped off his coat. Rice immediately started going through he pockets. She held up the cell phone with a raised eyebrow.

“Peter gave it to me.” The words felt pathetic even as they came out of his mouth. Rice slipped it back into the coat, then tossed the coat and tie into the trunk of the car.

“Hands on the car.“ Neal felt awkward in his shirt sleeves, half dressed and exposed, his leash dangling down against the side of car as Rice efficiently searched him. He didn‘t know what she expected to find, what illicit materials he could possibly have hidden on his person in the distance between the front door and the car. Neal sighed, wondered if the Burkes were watching, hoping they weren‘t. Hoping they were so Peter could put a stop to this whole debacle. When Rice was finished, she pulled him away from the car and reached into the trunk. “Hands.”

Neal held out his hands, resigned. Spending the day in cuffs would really just round out the whole experience nicely.

But it wasn’t handcuffs that Rice pulled out. She wrapped his hands in stiff leather mitts, forcing his hands into loosely curled fists. Neal flexed his hands experimentally, they were comfortable enough to wear, but with no flexibility and his thumbs tucked in with the rest of his fingers his hands completely useless.

“Come on,” Neal protested, trying a charming grin as Rice reached around him to open the car door. Mitts were typically used for non-violent but completely untrusted felons. “I’ve been working for the FBI for months-”

“Shut it.“ Rice shoved him down into his seat, reached across to fasten Neal‘s seatbelt. “You’re here to consult. You won’t need your hands for this task, and if you don’t control your mouth, I will gag you until I need it.”

Neal nodded, his lips pressed into a tight line. He carefully placed hands on his lap and tried to pretend he was anywhere but where he was as Rice got them on their way. All he had to do was get through this assignment.


Of course, Rice didn’t give him any warning. Neal’s mind raced, trying to adjust to this new piece of information. It’s not like the fact that the person kidnapped was Stuart Gless’s daughter would be of any use to him. As soon as they walked in the door, Neal saw Gless take in his collar, leash, clothes and mitts, and smile faintly, satisfied despite the situation. Neal could feel the heat rising to his face and a sick rush of adrenaline that left him jittery. He ducked his head, kept his eyes down at the floor and tucked his hands behind his back in an attempt to cover his reaction. He tried to distract himself by focusing on the conversation, but that just reinforced the fact that there was no real reason to have him here, except to show him off and humiliate him. His fists clenched, and he forced himself to take deep breaths. He didn’t want to be obnoxious, that would just reinforce any negative impressions, but he really needed to be out of there, right now.

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” Neal began. All eyes swung to him. Rice didn‘t look pleased. “It‘s just- did Wilkes give you any way to contact him? Any demands? ”

“Excuse us, Mr. Gless.” Neal barely registered the words before Rice was jerking him out into the hallway by the leash.

“What the hell was that?” She looked at him expectantly, eyes flashing.

“You brought me here to help.” Neal widened his eyes, pasting on his most innocent expression.

“Help, not interfere, not put yourself forward. You are a just a tool in my belt, Felon, and I will use you as I see fit. Now get in the car.” She shoved him down the stairs. He stumbled, clutching at the railing awkwardly without use of his thumbs.

“I’m going, I‘m going.”

“And shut up.”

She herded him out into the car, tying his leash tight to the struts of the headrest. Neal looked with distaste as she pulled out a gag. “Convince me that you don’t deserve to spend the rest of the day wearing this.”

“He likes to use found objects. I’d suggest checking gloves under the sink for fingerprints.” Neal knew that would be a good enough tip that Rice would have to acknowledge his helpfulness, even if only to herself.

She just nodded and shut the door, leaving him leashed in the car like a pet.

Neal entertained himself or a few moments determining that his hands were about as dexterous as his elbows right now, and that the only thing he could actually adjust were the window controls. It wasn’t an overly useful ability, but at that point Neal was willing to take whatever he could get. If he could get out of the leash, he could probably do more with his mouth, but he wasn‘t willing to risk being gagged just to satisfy his curiosity.

With nothing else to do, he leaned back into the headrest to wait. Just a tool in her belt. Neal supposed he should be thankful that she was at least willing to accept that he could be useful, even if she didn’t care enough to couch it in niceties. At least he wasn’t being stared at anymore. Maybe he could annoy her enough that she’d just leave him in the car for the rest of the day, or at the office. That would be ideal.

More likely though she’d just get more creative in her humiliations.


Neal was bored, left waiting for Rice to come back from whatever interesting thing she was doing this time. He had thought they had been getting somewhere when they stopped for lunch. She‘d taken off the mitts to let him eat and she‘d actually let him talk. She seemed engaged and interested and they passed around theories. Neal had told stories of his previous experiences with Wilkes. He was willing to admit that he played up the more entertaining sections, but it was in his best interests to make keep her happy. He thought he was doing well, but then all of a sudden she’d shut down and dragged him off again, shut down any further attempts at conversation with the threat of a gag. Now the mitts were on again, Rice hadn’t made eye contact since the diner, and he‘d been left behind in the car. Again.

He really wished he could give Peter a call, partially to get him out of there, mostly just to hear his voice, but the phone was still locked up in the trunk. Neal let himself be distracted by the buzz of activity at a restaurant down the street when the driver’s side door opened again.

“Hello, Neal.” Neal turned to see Wilkes, holding a gun, slipping casually into the car. Fuck.

“Wilkes.” Neal struggled to keep his voice steady against the pounding of his pulse in his throat. He was suddenly very aware of the seatbelt, the mitts, the collar, everything holding him in place.

Wilkes smiled, taking in every detail. “I like this. It’s like Christmas.”

Neal shifted back as far as he could, but that didn’t prevent Wilkes from pressing the muzzle of the gun into his forehead.

“I told you I’d kill you the next time I saw you.”

Neal tried to project calm while furiously going through his options. He could move his head a couple of inches before he came up to the end of the leash. His arms were free, though limited slightly by the seatbelt. He couldn’t grab, but he could spoil Wilkes’ aim and maybe cause some damage, but that would only put off the inevitable. In the end, there was no way Neal was getting out of this car without help, and his only possible help was Rice who had apparently sold him out. Now Neal understood the hesitation, the sudden harshness at the diner; she hadn’t wanted to get too attached.

“What’d you do- promise the FBI the girl in exchange for me?”

“You always were a smart one, Caffrey. The life of a influential man‘s daughter for the life of a Felon? Not much of a decision there.”

“You don’t really want me dead though. I could be useful to you.”

“No, I think I really do want you dead. But you‘re right in one thing; you going to be useful first.” Neal barely had a moment to flinch before Wilkes lashed out with the butt of the gun and everything went dark.


If you behave, you’ll live a bit longer. It wasn’t the best incentive, but it was all Neal had right now, and alive for a bit longer was much better than being dead right now. Plus, for the first time in months, Neal was in public without a leash or a collar. He’d almost forgotten what it was like to not be stared at constantly.

Neal loitered around the Elite Voyages banner ad on the wall of the arrivals area of the airport, hoping that his jittery nerves would be read as happy anticipation, and not anything that would make Security concerned. He kept a close eye on the flight arrivals, half hoping that the flight he was looking for would be delayed.

“For the record, I think this is a horrible plan. I don’t even care what your plan is; it’s bad.” Mozzie’s voice came from just behind Neal’s shoulder. This was the first good thing that had happened all day.

“Glad you could make it.” Neal turned, grinning broadly.

“Glad I figured out your invite, you mean. Misspelling an alias in a travel agency’s spam? That‘s an obscure clue, even for you.”

“And yet, here you are.” Neal gestured broadly.

“And here I am,” Moz agreed. “So what’s up?”

Neal quickly filled Moz in on his current situation, and watched as Moz looked less and less impressed with each word.

“Well, I see your first problem right away; the man carrying the case you‘re supposed to take is Edward Riley. But-” Mozzie held up a finger “you’re in luck because I also have your first solution.” He pulled two badges out of his coat. “I came prepared.”

“Zig zag scam?”


“I don‘t know what I‘d do without you, Moz.”

“Die a horrible, painful death.”


“Okay. Now what?”

Neal barely heard Mozzie. He was too entranced by the possibility in the briefcase on the table. Riley had believed them, left them with the case in exchange for their completely unofficial official silence. Now Neal was standing in an airport with his primary partner in crime, a fortune in pre-loaded credit cards, and no tracker.

The only thing between him and freedom was the life of a teenaged girl. And the minor detail that he’d be running without a plan. He could certainly wing it if he had to, but it was sloppy and dangerous. Escaped felons didn’t have much of a life. Anyone harbouring him would be at risk. He’d have to hide from everyone associated with the government. They had his face, his prints, his DNA; he’d have to avoid hospitals. If he got caught, he’d probably be dead. He certainly wouldn’t end up with Peter again, and with Peter he at least had the possibility of future freedom.

Neal shut the briefcase with a snap, suddenly feeling every hour of the last day and a half. “We’ve got half an hour before I need to meet Wilkes with these cards. I need a phone.”

“I have a phone. What are you going to do with that phone?” Moz asked, wary.

“I need to call Peter.” Neal had been unconscious for most of the trips to and from the warehouse where Lindsay was being held, but he’d spent some time in it. He had some ideas as to its location.

“I don’t think that’s your best idea.”

“Wilkes still has Lindsay.” Neal explained as he dialled. No matter what else happened, he had to give Lindsay every chance he could.

Something in Neal relaxed the moment Peter answered his phone. “Hey Peter, it’s-

“Neal? Oh thank God. Are you okay? Where are you?” Peter sounded stressed, and genuinely concerned.

“I’m okay. Listen, Lindsay’s in a warehouse.”

“Hold on a second.” Peter cut him off, then Neal could the echo of background noise that meant he’d been put on speaker. “Repeat that.”

“Lindsay’s in a warehouse.“ Neal dutifully repeated. “By the water, brick, pre-civil war construction. Her guard had takeout from Wok of Fire.”

“There’s a lot of water around New York. Do you have anything more specific?” Rice cut in.

Neal didn’t bother to conceal his flare of irritation. “I’m not talking to you.”

“Neal.” Peter again, and Neal could read the ‘play nice’ in his tone as clear as if he had actually said it.

“Take me off speaker, Peter. I‘m not talking to her.”

There was a shuffle then Peter’s voice came clearly though the phone. “I‘ll make allowances for the fact that you‘ve had a rough day but-.”

“No.” Neal suddenly wanted this day to be done, and right now he didn‘t really care what the outcome was. “Peter, she had me mitted all day. She left me staked out like a sacrificial lamb for Wilkes to find. I’ve been tazed, beaten, and haven’t slept or eaten since you last saw me, all because of her decisions. I’m now standing in an airport with a case full of pre-loaded credit cards and no collar. So don’t push me.”

“Shit, Neal.” Petter muttered. “Why didn’t you call me?”

“I was mitted, Peter. All day. And she took the phone. Explain to me how exactly I was supposed to call you,” Neal hissed.

Peter sighed heavily, “I’m sorry, Neal. ” He sounded completely sincere in his apology. Neal hated him a little bit for it. If he’d been a jerk, Neal’s decision would have been easy.

“So, what’s your plan?” Peter’s voice forced him back to reality.

Neal absently tracked a plane through its takeoff. Mozzie was standing off to the side, pointedly not listening, which meant he was memorizing every word. “You try to find Lindsay. I’ll try to stall Wilkes. The guard wasn’t wearing a mask. Once Wilkes has the cards, he‘s gonna kill her.”

“Then, we’ll find her first.” Peter said, with all the confidence Neal didn’t feel.

“Yeah. I gotta go.”

“Wait, Neal.” Neal paused with the phone half way from his head, waiting. “No matter how this turns out, Neal, you‘ve done well. I‘ll see you later.”

Neal slid the phone shut.

“You’re going to go back.” Moz’s tone was pointedly non-judgemental.

“If I get caught, I’m dead. Peter doesn’t hurt me, and there’s the possibility for actual freedom with him.”

“You think you can give up a chance like this?” Moz gestured to the briefcase, the airport.

Neal grinned, suddenly feeling the rush of confidence from what they’d just pulled off. “I think that we’re good enough to make our own chances. I can afford to wait until I have a better plan than ‘get on a plane’.”

“Hasten slowly,” Moz stated with a small smile, “and ye shall soon arrive.”

Neal let out a breath he hadn’t known he was holding. “Thanks, Moz.”


“Moz thinks it’s Stockholm.” Neal said absently, as he stood at the bottom of the stairs, considering the advantages of his old room on the main level, which didn‘t have any sheets, windows or pillows, but it also didn‘t involve stairs. It was a good enough distraction from thinking about what he had given up today.

“Who’s Moz?” Peter asked at he nudged Neal up the stairs from behind.

“The flyer. The friend you wouldn’t let me communicate with.” It came out more bitter than Neal intended, but he didn’t bother to correct.

“Ahh,” Peter remained silent until they got to the landing upstairs. “I suppose that’s not completely inaccurate.”

“Great. That makes me feel so much better.” Neal groused as he collapsed onto his bed. His day hadn’t ended with the stand-off over the briefcase. That just meant that Wilkes was arrested. Then, Neal had to go through FBI interviews and Marshall interviews and EMS interviews and then a hospital visit and every time Neal had tried to stop and think, someone else started asking him questions and demanding answers. Now that he’d finally stopped, he found he couldn’t think anymore.

“Or it could be that you know a good deal when you see one,” Peter offered.

“That might have been what I told him,” Neal replied softly as Peter knelt to take off his shoes. He roused himself slightly when Peter tapped his flank, “Come on, pants next.” Neal shifted and pushed his pants down past his hips. Peter to tugged them off the rest of the way, leaving Neal in his boxers and white undershirt.

“Would it help if he came by for a visit?”

“Who?” Neal asked, confused and wondering if he’d missed a chunk of conversation.

“Moz. Your friend,” Peter said as he tugged back the blankets. He spoke casually, as if this wasn’t something game changing.

“Really?” Neal forced himself to pay attention to what Peter was saying. Up until now Neal had limited interaction with the outside world. They’d exchanged occasional glances on the street, and Neal had been able to drop infrequent notes to let Mozzie know that he was still okay, but until the meeting in the airport, they hadn’t had the chance to just talk. That hurried conversation had simply reinforced how much Neal missed his friends. Peter would have to be feeling pretty guilty to suggest this, but Neal was perfectly willing to take advantage of that.

“The visits would be supervised,” Peter continued, “but he could at least reassure himself that you weren’t being abused.”

Neal refrained from pointing out that if Mozzie thought he was being abused, there was nothing that would convince him otherwise short of Neal’s full release. And even then, he’d be suspicious.

“Thank you,” Neal said, though he couldn’t quite make eye contact. Even if Peter was doing this out of a misplaced sense of guilt, he was still paying enough attention to know how significant this would be to Neal. That level of attention was unnerving.

“Just get some sleep, Neal. There’s water on the beside table. Come get us if you need anything.”

Neal made a soft noise of acknowledgement as he pulled the blankets over his shoulders, curling in close as he drifted off to sleep.


“How is he?” Elizabeth was waiting right outside Neal’s door.

“He doesn’t hate me. He didn’t run. Of all the ways for this debacle to have gone, I think we got the best.” Peter wrapped his arms around his wife, rocked her silently in the hallway. That had been a significant concern, that Neal would blame Peter for everything that had happened, that the trust that they had been building would be destroyed and they’d have to start from the beginning again. But he hadn’t. And most importantly, Neal’s decisions today had proven that their plans were working. Neal was beginning to understand that he could have a life within the law. He had chosen to come back to them, and the chance for a clean slate.

Elizabeth poked him in the ribs. “Which was going to be my next question, but I wasn’t at the hospital, how is he?”

“He’s fine.” Peter leaned back slightly to meet Elizabeth’s gaze. “He’s probably not going to be up for doing much tomorrow, but he’s fine.”

Elizabeth hummed happily and leaned back into Peter’s chest. “So what are we going to do now?”

“Same as before. Rice is facing a disciplinary hearing. Neal might end up being called in for that, but I think it would be best if he stayed out of the office for a few days.” Peter didn’t want to think about tomorrow and all the drama and paperwork that would bring. He’d been able to slip out today with the excuse of escorting Neal home, but tomorrow the official response would begin. “I also promised him he could have a friend over.” Peter admitted.

“Really?” Elizabeth stepped back, looking surprised. Then her eyes narrowed. “Peter? How are you feeling?”

“I pushed him to do this,” Peter admitted.

“So that’d be ‘guilty’ then.”

“El-” Peter protested, a bit plaintively at her assessment. He knew there was no way he could have known what was going to happen. But there were so many ways that this could have gone terribly wrong. He should never have let Neal get into that position in the first place.

“Does Neal blame you?” El pressed.

“No, but he might once he’s had more than 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep.” Neal was complacent now, but he was also exhausted and burnt out. Who knew how he’d react once he was back up to par. Of course, Peter was willing to admit he wasn’t much better. After Rice, he hadn’t been able to trust anyone else to take over the search for Neal. Jones and Diana had shut him out around 3am and refused to help until he’d caught a couple of hours on the couch, but Neal had been his priority until Neal was safe at home. “He had everything he needed to run, and he chose to come back.”

“But that’s a good sign.” It was a good thing; El wasn’t wrong in that. He could have even disappeared after he knew the girl was safe, in the confusion of the retrieval teams and jurisdiction. But he didn’t. And Peter was afraid of what was going to happen.

“He made the right decision,” Peter allowed. “Except now, he’ll always be wondering ‘what if?’”


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oper_1895: Neal Caffrey in a suit. (Default)

February 2012

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