Author: liebedero PM
Sara never saw Neal's new passport, and now, only a couple weeks later, Neal and Mozzie have cleared out successfully, and able to live the life of freedom that both have so desperately fought for. But Peter follows the trail, enraged. AU.Rated: Fiction T - English - Crime/Drama - Neal C. & Peter B. - Chapters: 6 - Words: 12,147 - Reviews: 26 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 30 - Updated: 07-22-12 - Published: 07-27-11 - id: 7225579
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Not another one Peter!" El sighed.
"Just one more hun, I promise," he muttered without turning to face her, on hand outstretched in a gesture, begging for her acquiescence. Peter was scanning the screen of his TV, looking for the tell-tale smile and bright blue eyes, sparkling with laughter. It was the third or fourth televised gallery opening in the past three months and the date for the Statue of Limitation was unstable. If anything were to show up…
"Unfortunately our sponsor for this evening, Mr. Moreau, has just flown out to Germany on business so-"
Peter had been alert since the announcer had said the name Moreau. It was so tantalizing…he couldn't have been that cocky…no…
"- he has kindly sent us a piece he requested we read:
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you all for being here this evening. The new Gallery opening this evening, I'm sure, will intrigue and fascinate you. The pieces are the most beautiful of all my collection, though not, perhaps, the most treasured. Among them are a Monet, a Rembrandt, but who painted a piece should never determine its grandeur.
My most treasured piece will be temporarily on display, the crown jewel in my eyes. An anonymous oils pastel of a man in a filed, gazing out at the towing stone turrets in the distance. It's place in my heart cannot be challenged, because it reminds me of myself. I always dreamed big. I still do. And those dreams haven't always come to fruition. But once, some friends of mine taught me that I could be happy where I was with what I had. Needless to say, I didn't listen very well, or I wouldn't be where I am today, but I haven't forgotten that lesson, and I never will.
Today, I dedicate this gallery to them. May I present, the Burke Gallery,"
The curtains opened and the announcer stepped aside as the crowd clapped politely.
The Burke household was in utter silence.
Peter had never been so happy in his life to have a tape recorder. The playback was still unbelievable, even to him, the coincidence too good to be true. Only one question remained.
Who the hell was Victor Moreau.
Vic's cell rang.
"Do you need to take that?" Robbie asked sounding slightly irked. He had welcomed Vic and Denni into his …safe house… and that was under confidence. He was still paranoid as ever and nothing was going to change that. Victor nodded in the negative.
"I'll just let it ring. If it's important, they'll leave a message," A moment later the message tune rang.
"If you'll excuse me," he stood and strode from the room.
"Do you mind Robbie, where's the bathroom?" Denise asked.
"Oh, no problem, it's right through that door, and then down that hall at the third door to the right. She stood and went down the hall and then waited and doubled back.
"This is bad,"
"What's bad mon frère?"
"It was Peter, Moz,. Peter,"
"That's for the love of Emerson, Neal, what did you do?"
"Listen – 'Hello Mr. Moreau, my name is Peter Burke, I'm with the FBI, and I noticed that you recently donated your art collection to the Chicago Art Museum. I've got some questions for you concerning how you came about it. If you wouldn't mind contacting me as soon as possible…' – I donated my extra art as a private gallery. I dedicated it to them. The Burke Gallery. I wasn't even there Moz! He thinks I bought the art from myself. He suspects it, Moz, I know he does,"
"Why'd you do a stupid thing like that, Neal? That uncharacteristic generosity is going to get you locked up for parole violation at best, and you were supposed to start selling stuff so we could be sure that the Statute of Limitations would cover us. Why'd ya do it Neal? Why risk everything we worked so hard for?"Mozzie threw his hands up in the air, exasperated. "You have forever soiled a pure birth certificate! The one with your name on it! Victor Moreau, Neal. That was a clean name! Now you've tied Caffrey to Moreau, and sent a message to Peter in blinking red lights that says 'Come and arrest me for betraying your ill placed trust!'"
"Calm down Moz, I can get out of it. There aren't any pictures of me. No way to securely connect Caffrey and Moreau,"
"You mean connect you then to you now?"
"Semantics. But that isn't the point. If I call him he'll recognize my voice. I'll use a secure email. All my current business dealings are legitimate, so Moreau is still concrete. The only way to play it is at a distance. I'd need a middle man. Someone completely out of the loop, who will believe what I say – that I bought the art from someone in a deal I couldn't resist,"
"Yeah that someone is Neal Caffrey and when they start showing pictures our clean middleman gets ideas,"
"We pay him good or create another solid alias for me, without any photo evidence and frame someone else," Neal offered up.
"That's all fine and dandy, but you never answered my question," Silence led the expectation
"Why did you dedicate it to them?" More silence, then…
"My attempt at an apology,"
"Are you admitting to the most incriminating emotion expressly forbidden in all con men? Guilt! You! Neal Caffrey feels ashamed? If that's the case, you've fallen far mon frère,"
"So my conscience kicked in a little late, alright?"
"And at the worst possible time! Murphy's law, man, there is no denying it is a curse on our kind!" Mozzie objected.
"Yeah, I know Moz. So who are we going to get?"
"Maybe we should ask your new girlfriend?"
She sat at the table, both 'Mozzie' and 'Neal' (she still thought of them as Robbie and Vic) standing over her, the former glaring, her pseudo boyfriend blank faced. They had caught her listening and Robbie, obviously a casualty of paranoia, was less than happy.
"Look, you planned on telling me anyways, so this way, I already know," She rationalized.
"Yeah, but we might have censored some things, you know, for your own good," the short, balding man retorted in an anxious manner.
"Denni, will you help me?" Neal asked her, and she knew he was trying to play her feelings. They had never gotten too very close, and that was a good thing, she surmised. Till now, she supposed, they'd been playing the plausible deniability card on her, just in case.
"I'll help, but I want to know the details, and, well, you could cut me in,"
It had been as simple as that. She wasn't going to say no (money was just a plus) and they couldn't afford for her to flip on them to the feds. So she said yes. And the games began.
Peter walked through the doors of Moreau's acquisitions headquarters and up to a desk where, unsurprisingly, a pretty young woman sat. She was brunette with large dark eyes and tanned skin, and on her desk was a plaque reading the name Denise Albricht, Secretary. "Hi there, Denise," He held up his badge. "I'm Agent Peter Burke, FBI. I'm here to speak with Mr. Moreau. Can you arrange that for me?" The pretty girl looked up at him.
"Unfortunately he isn't in right now and won't be for some time. You've caught him on his half day. It changes every week. Mr. Moreau doesn't believe in a set routine. Variety is the spice of life. I will, however, be sure to let him know that you were in. I can even send him an email right now, if you'd like," She waited expectantly.
"Email?" Peter asked cautiously.
"Yes. It's more discrete, so as to avoid being rude around customers. My employer isn't a fan of texting, and so he refuses to communicate in such a way. Email is his preferred form of contact. Would you care to send him one? "
Peter hefted a breath. "Can you set me up with an appointment? We think that he may inadvertently know something about some rather priceless art that was stolen from a recovered U-boat in New York a couple years back. The culprit is thought to be a master forger and con artist who goes by the name Neal Caffrey. Here's my card. If you could give it to him when you set up an appointment..."
She took it from his hand and read it over accordingly, which was more than he had expected, and then brought up a calendar on the computer screen to her right – she had three of them – and actually added him in for a tentative appointment.
"I'll confirm with you through the telephone contact you've left when I've spoken with Victor,"
At her use of her boss' first name, Peter perked up. "Victor, eh?" She blushed.
"Yes, Victor. We were friends before we were employer and employee. Now if you'd excuse me, I do have some forms to attend to. This is not my only job,"
"Really? What else do you do?"
"I'm a legal secretary, Agent Burke," She answered him matter-of-factly.
"Oh, well, thank you for your time, Ms. Albricht," Peter turned away from her and began to walk back down the hall, but something was niggling in the back of his head.
We were friends before we were employer and employee.
She was brunette, she had a Degas themed desk calendar.
She could be his type.
Peter pulled out his phone and pressed the speed dial. It rang for a moment before he heard Diana's familiar tones.
"Hey Di, can you get me a workup on a Denise Albricht. I want to know everything she's been doing since Neal ran, especially the past year. I want to know how long she's known this Moreau, and when she started working for him,"
"Sure thing boss, I'm on it,"
If there was one thing he knew about Neal, it was that he couldn't resist a pretty face, and that if he got attached, it wasn't a hard angle to work. He swallowed his guilt. If Denise's heart got caught in the crossfire, he could handle it if she were ignorant of Neal's crimes. If not, then so be it.
If Neal was involved, then Peter would take him down, no matter the cost. As he hailed the cab to his FBI issued hotel, he thought of El's face, and he thought of Neal's. Since everything had happened, he had tried his hardest not to remember how much his former friend had been a part of him, how his betrayal had been like the loss of a limb.
The conversation that he had had with El before he left for Chicago came flooding back to mind.
"Peter, please, if you find him, don't let your personal emotions get in the way of doing what's right. He betrayed you but we don't know everything. We never have and you know that. Please. Statute of Limitations covers him, don't bring up unnecessary hurts. I know how much he still means to you. Otherwise you wouldn't be on his case like you are. You're mad because he was doing so well. You're mad because you believe in him, and he proved you wrong. You're mad at yourself for not seeing it, for not preventing it. You're mad at yourself for not being able to have kept him on the straight and narrow,"
"El, I just…it slays me that he left. I thought…I really, really thought that he'd changed,"
"People don't change, Peter, they evolve and grow. But that takes time and patience. Neal had multiple forces acting on him. Mozzie, other friends that we don't know about. Peter, he was a like a trapped animal. When they are afraid, they run, irrational. They make bad choices and they often end up dead. Don't let that be Neal, hun. Please, don't let it be Neal,"
"I can't go easy on him, El, without retribution from the Bureau. And I don't want to. He needs to be punished accordingly. He needs to get what he deserves. If he doesn't receive proper punishment, then who's to say that he won't try something again? He'll never learn El, if he's rewarded for doing something wrong. It's like when we housetrained Satchmo…" El brought a hand to her husband's cheek, rubbing it with her thumb lovingly.
"Alright Obi-Wan. I get it. You're disappointed for him, not in him,"
"Star Wars, really?"
"Look. There was good in Darth Vader, and Neal a lot less evil than he was. It isn't as though he's committing genocide or anything. He's a thief, but not evil,"
"I'll be sure to remember that. Does this make you Amidala, because that would be awk-ward," He smiled, and she smiled back. It was the first time he'd made a real joke during a discussion about Neal, and she'd even got a chuckle out of him.
He saw Neal's smile in his head, but it was marred by the Neal he'd seen occasionally in passing. The Neal whose smile fell when he thought no one was looking. The mask, the façade. The greatest con of them all.
If he caught Neal, Peter wasn't sure whether he'd end up being the father figure that El had made him out to be. If he caught Neal, Peter didn't know what he'd do at all.
A/N: So here you go. I've got it back up and started again. It helped that I found some hand written stuff with Peter and El that I'd forgotten about so I typed that up. Also:
Please, if you know what happened to LStuds and the amazing young!Neal story, Damage Control, please, please tell me. I really loved it, it was my guilty pleasure and I reread it like 3 times. I was looking to do so again, but It's jsut gone and I'm horribly unhappy. If anyone can put me in contact with LStuds, I'll write you into a chapter, somehow, or give you an honourable mention.
Also: PETER NO I LOVE YOU DON'T GO.