: Let The Fates Decide Author
: White CollarSummary
: There was a time for action and a time to let the fates decide. Now was a time when Reece had to sit back and watch things unfold, even if he didn't want to.
Characters: Reese, Peter, Neal, ElizabethGenre
: Hurt/Comfort, FriendshipSpoilers
: none, reallyRating
: PG-13, I guess...A/N
: I wrote this for the runthecon
challenge with the prompt 'Let the fates decide' from tjs_whatnot
. I now tag halfshellvenus
with 'legal crimes'.
Reese Hughes was a man of facts and evidence, of law and order, not a man to wait for a sign from a higher power to let him know how to proceed. But today, when an asset of the bureaus, a man that was close to more that one agent he looked after and was more than partly responsible for a startling closure rate, was taken hostage for twelve stressful hours while undercover to take down a seemingly harmless embezzlement scammer, then got stabbed while being rescued, well, then he decided that he could let someone more superior, more influential, decide the fate of Neal Caffrey, even if he wanted nothing more than to yell at the young man until he listened to his command to not die.
Don't get him wrong, Reese did believe in God, some order in this world of chaos, but he did not think he was the one to look to whenever you needed a hand. Now, though, now he needed someone else to take the reins as he was not capable of controlling this situation. Caffrey's life was out of his hands now and he had to let the fates decide.
Peter Burke, one of his best agents, who sat two chairs away from him in a busy waiting room with his distraught wife, seemed to be most effected by Caffrey's precarious situation. Burke was part of the team that took down the man that had held Caffrey hostage, and the one that killed that man.
Their unlikely partnership had become something more than the professional admiration that it had started as. Hell, Caffrey often had dinner with Burkes' wife and now it seemed almost as if both of the Burkes had adopted the wayward ex-con as one of their own. Lord knew that he needed guidance and an occasional pat on the back when he did right, something that Reese highly doubted he'd had as an adolescent.
Things really could have turned out much different for Caffrey if he'd had parents like his current surrogates. The kid was smart, smarter than most criminals Reese had taken down in his days as a law enforcer. He would have been one hell of an agent, if he'd chosen that path, but it seemed that the fates did not choose that for him.
Sitting in a waiting room full of people anxiously waiting for news on Caffrey and drinking stale coffee that rivaled the office coffee for worst in the city, Reese wondered if Caffrey knew how many people really cared for him.
The Burkes would've been devastated if Caffrey didn't make it through the surgery, and while other agents wouldn't really say it to the man's face, Reese knew that there were now more agents that respected and even liked Caffrey than those that didn't.
Hughes also knew that that short, balding friend of Caffrey's was lurking around the hospital somewhere, waiting for the same news as everyone else. What would become of him? As far as Reese could tell, those two were nearly inseparable. It was actually quite the competition between Burke and Mozzie on who was closer to Caffrey now. Burke gave Caffrey the father figure he always needed and Mozzie gave him a steady friend that would always be there for him. He needed the both of them in his life, to guide him in their own unique ways. Mozzie was definitely
not the best role model, but he was a rock in Caffrey's unstable life and helped him through many of his difficulties.
If Caffrey was to die in surgery, the world would never be the same again. Yes, life would go on, but things would never be the same. Every time Reese would see a jauntily donned hat or nicely cut suit or even a ball made of rubber bands, he'd think of that conman that somehow wormed his way into many hearts that were trained not to trust criminals. Without anyone even knowing, Neal Caffrey had become one of the team and no one would be able to bear loosing him.
Regretfully, Reese had to return to the office to take care of the mountain of paperwork that always came his way when someone he looked after was injured. If he hadn't, other agents would have had to and Reese didn't have the heart to make Burke leave his wife and waiting room vigil.
After four hours of paperwork and a few not-so-pleasant phone conversations with governmental fat cats that wanted to know what the hell happened today, a probie informed him that Caffrey pulled through the surgery and was well on his way to recovery. Reese finally let himself relax for the first time since the sting was originally compromised.
Later that day, once the last t was crossed and i was dotted, Hughes gave into the uncharacteristic urge to go back to the hospital to check in on Caffrey.
Predictably, Burke was sitting by his partners side, waiting for the kid to wake up and start pestering him again. "Reese," Peter greeted with no small about of surprise in his tone. It wasn't common for Hughes to personally come to see a fallen CI - he'd usually just send a card or, more likely, have his secretary do it for him - but this situation and, more importantly, this man
was an exception.
"Peter," Reese said back, glancing at the pale, unconscious man in the bed. Caffrey looked better than he had when he had been wheeled out of the office of the idiot that stabbed him, red blood against pale skin, but he still had a long ways to go. Reese had no doubt that he'd be the most stubborn patient, and Burke would be the only one that would be able to keep him in line.
The notable smell of Elizabeth's sweet perfume was still in the air, so Reese guessed that she had just left to either go home to get some rest or some more unbearable coffee. Seeing the way the Burkes cared for the young man in the hospital bed in front of him, Reese guessed that it was the latter.
"How is he?" Reese asked quietly as he walked farther into the room, his eyes going back to Caffrey again. The man had roughed him up to show that he was serious, the dark bruises on Caffrey's face the result.
"The doctors say he's damn lucky, which isn't a surprise since it's Neal we're talking about," Peter said with a fondness that he reserved just for Caffrey, though that fear was still in the agent's eyes as he gazed down at his unlikely friend.
The fox and the hound, that was what Caffrey and Burke were, Reese's realized suddenly, Caffrey being the fast and agile fox and Burke the hound, a hunter that wouldn't give up once he caught a scent. Two individuals that were meant to be mortal enemies, but were, against all odds, friends and coworkers. Reese had seen many CI's come and go in the years, but he'd never seen the connection that these two shared.
"He's one tough kid," Reese agreed.
"Yeah," Peter said as he nodded his head absentmindedly. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, Burke's hand was intertwined with Caffrey's smaller one. Burke saw where Reese's gaze was aimed and held on tighter, absolutely no shame in the outward display of affection. For some reason, that made Reese proud.
Elizabeth came back into the room right then, holding two cups of coffee in her hands. "Reese. Hi," she said as she spotted Reese, less surprised than Agent Burke had been. Mrs. Burke gave her husband one of the coffees, gave Neal a concerned and loving glance, then turned back to Reese. "I would have gotten you some coffee too if I would have known you were coming."
"That's fine, Elizabeth. I was just checking in," Reese said, then addressed Peter as well, who was now standing while still staying close to Caffrey. "I see that Caffrey will be just fine. He's in good hands," he said with a meaningful look. And with that, Reese took his leave.
Caffrey was a terrible rule follower, never did things by the book and constantly got into unnecessary danger for what seemed like just the hell of it, but if Reese had the chance to go back and tell Burke no when he asked for Caffrey to be let out of prison, he wouldn't change a thing. Caffrey might have been a pain in the ass and his moral compass needed a whole lot of reconfiguring, but he was a good man. Call it fate or call it luck, but Neal Caffrey was going to live another day and Reese was grateful for that.