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FIC: A Walk in the Park (part 1)

Title: A Walk in the Park
Characters: Neal, Peter, Jones, Diana, OFC
Word count: ~4200
Spoilers: for Front Man, On Guard
Warnings: None

Summary: It started out as a simple walk in the park. Then there was a shot fired. Maybe.

NOTE:  Posted in 3 parts, because apparently LJ is unhappy with me.

Fills the prompt for panic attack on my h/c bingo card

Disclaimer: Jeff Eastin's characters are welcome. And belong to him, not me.

Artwork by the wonderful kanarek13


Neal sat in the Mt. Sinai emergency department waiting area, disgusted with himself for both causing Peter to need emergency treatment and his own reaction to it all. He kept mentally replaying, in an endless loop, the events of earlier that afternoon. Was there really a gun? Did someone actually fire a shot at Peter? Maybe not, probably not, but Neal thought he had seen the barrel end of a rifle in the bushes in the park's North Meadow and pushed Peter out of the way, breaking Peter's wrist when they fell to the concrete path.

They had waited, laying on the ground together, their only cover a wooden bench as they listened for a second shot that never came. After Peter was able to stand with his horribly mangled-looking left wrist cradled to his chest, he told Neal to stay put and call for back-up - to stay safe - and he carefully made his way to where Neal were certain he had seen the gun. There was nothing, no one. Peter looked at Neal oddly, quizzing him about what he thought he had seen, and what he did or didn't hear. Now Neal had doubts, and while it was rare that he second guessed himself, he was no longer sure of exactly what had happened. He had felt a pinch in his side as he and Peter hit the ground but it was gone almost as quickly as it came. Must have pulled something, he thought at the time. Peter had even asked him if HE was alright, because the normally calm and always collected Neal Caffrey was actually starting to sweat, in spite of the mild temperature.

"Just a little warm," Neal had said, taking off his jacket and draping it over his arm. He felt that pinch again, but when he discretely rubbed his hand over his side it didn't come back covered with blood. That was encouraging.

Diana and Jones arrived just then, and since there didn't seem to be a crime scene they, too, looked from Peter's wrist to Neal.

"Damn, Caffrey, you're shaking. I'm sure Peter's not planning on pressing charges," Diana said lightly as she guided him to their car.

"Yeah, well, it's not often I knock my boss to the ground and break his arm," he replied.

Now Peter was waiting to have his broken wrist set while Neal was sitting in the emergency waiting area as far from everyone else as possible, elbows on his knees and squeezing his head between his hands. The headache hurt as badly as a migraine without actually being a migraine. He felt sweat covering his back and chest, and, just because the universe really had to punish him for breaking Peter's arm, he was getting nauseous. In its best Peter Burke voice his brain told him to cowboy up, that this was no time for this crap. It didn't work. He tried to take deep, steady breaths, but that only made him dizzy, probably because he couldn't actually take deep breaths. Shallow breaths weren't coming easily, either. He suspected this breathing thing was the reason he started to see little black specks dancing in his eyes, slowly choking off his peripheral vision. He squeezed his eyes shut so he wouldn't notice it as much. He found it almost funny that, in all of his years of pulling high stake high risk cons, thefts and forgeries, four years of prison (with a couple of repeat visits) and numerous undercover operations with Peter and the FBI he never once had anything even remotely approaching an anxiety attack; he was pretty sure that he was having one now. Damn it damn it damnit damnitdamndamndamn. If he could only control the nausea, he'd consider it a win. He wished he could see. He wished he could stand without falling. He wished the pain in his head would dial back to merely awful. He wished his stomach would stop roiling. He wished he could catch his breath. He wished he was alone. He wished he hadn't pushed Peter. He wished that he never thought he saw a gun.

He was aware that someone pulled a chair up right across from him. All he could make out was a fuzzy pair of black shoes. Then he heard Jones's voice. "Caffrey, are you okay, man?"

In what demented fantasy world would this ever be okay?

"Be fine. Please. Go." He was gasping.

"Neal, look at me," Jones said, with a tone that sounded suspiciously like Peter. And because it sounded like Peter, even though Neal knew perfectly well it wasn't, he had to lift his head. And open his eyes. Jones was not unaware that Neal had brilliant blue eyes, but the irises usually had pupils in the middle. Neal's were practically non-existent. It was more than a little creepy.

"Neal, you look like terrible. I'm getting a doctor."

Neal groaned and crossed both arms tightly across his stomach.

"Feel like you're going to be sick?"

Neal nodded, his head dropping to his knees.

Jones managed to get a waste can at Neal's feet just in time for Neal to brush his jacket onto the floor and heave. Jones turned to give him some privacy, well, at least from him, and bent to retrieve Neal's jacket. A narrow plastic cylinder fell from it, and Jones started to pick it up until he saw that it had a barbed point. He pulled a latex glove from his inside jacket pocket and picked it up carefully. The cylinder was partially filled with a light tan liquid.

"Caffrey, have you ever seen this before?" he asked Neal in between bouts of vomiting. Neal glanced over and shook his head.

With Neal jacketless and leaning forward with his arms extended Jones looked at Neal's back and sides and saw a small slit and just a drop or two of blood on the side of his light colored shirt.

"Oh, damn," he said and ran to the desk.

"I need help over here, I think my friend's been poisoned," Jones said.

The triage nurse looked at what Jones was holding, rushed over to Neal and helped him sit up. He held the stethoscope to Neal's chest with one hand while lifting each of Neal's eyelids in turn with the other. He gave Neal a reassuring pat on the leg and said something that sounded like "right back," and sprinted back to the desk. Almost immediately they heard over the hospital PA system, "rapid response team to emergency department waiting area for possible hazardous materials response. Rapid response to emergency waiting area."


part 2 over here