Neal had met up with Mozzie just for a walk. He was on his way to the office, and it was a good time to chat. To his astonishment, his friend had dressed up. Of sorts. Mozzie was a man who blended in, who dressed to not be noticeable. Today was this not totally the case.
"You're wearing an ascot."
The only thing added to the humble dress code of an invisible man. An orange ascot.
"You know, the Duke of Windsor considered ascots the elegant morning wear," Mozzie replied as if Neal had question it. If he questioned any of it, it was the combination of an orange ascot with the rest of his friend's mundane clothing and that shoulder-bag, placed front to keep it under his watchful eyes all the time.
"Great, if this were 1874..." Ascots were not the latest fashion last time he looked. "Or you were about to open that Shackleton Brandy you intercepted."
"I'm not allowed to look debonair?"
He had chosen that ascot with care. He wanted to look sophisticated. But why? He had known Mozzie for many years but still, he knew little about what he did the time they did not spend together. Even if it did not seem so many days, they did not share many of the day's hours. He respected that Mozzie did not want to tell him where he lived. Sometimes he wondered if he even had a home in regular meaning.
"You on your way to undercut that antiques dealer? Making your bookie pay for tea at the Carlyle?"
"You know, this, what you're doing," Mozzie said, "projecting your boredom with your humdrum, nine-to-five existence onto my day, where I am free to color outside the lines as I choose."
Neal smiled. One thing Mozzie would never understand was that his con friend enjoyed working for the FBI with regular hours. It was a blessing to not have to run all the time. He was done running.
"Don't let me stop you, Picasso."
"If you'll excuse me," Moz said with the tone of the sophisticated man he had dressed up as, "I have somewhere important to be."
It had been one of those productive mornings Peter enjoyed. The conference room was filled with files and agents working.
"Good work, everyone," he praised as it was closing in on lunchtime. "We're closing in. Whoever cracks this identity-theft ring on the Upper East Side wins this..." Peter brought out one of his favorite pens. "My Quantico pen. Don't make them like this anymore." Now they were just ordinary cheap pens with a logo. This pen was the real, good stuff.
"The victims all used their credit cards at a silent auction last month," Diana said. "Check the list of people who worked the event."
"Organic produce, dry cleaning, gyms, all set up on monthly accounts," Jones said followed another track. "Maybe someone got in this way."
"Well, it's written all over their faces," Neal added, standing with a file, leaning against the wall. They stared at him. "What? They share a dermatologist." Peter blinked. How had they missed that? "Someone from the office is selling patient information. I want that pen."
"Blake, run indices on all these," Peter said, "starting with Dr. Botox and his office staff. When I get back from lunch with Elizabeth, let's see who gets the pen." His guts told him that Neal was closer than Jones and Diana.
The kid obviously felt he had secured the pen because he left for lunch and walked to the elevator.
The motivation from the others dropped.
"Alright, let's go for lunch," Peter sighed.
They walked to the elevators. They had four of them. But they were not alone in the building. They had twenty-six floors of hungry agents. One of the elevators seemed to get stuck on every floor on the way down.
"At this rate, I'm gonna have to kiss my wife, put her in a cab, and grab a hot dog on my way back here."
A door pinged behind them.
"Finally!" Diana said.
Out from the elevator backed a man with a cart and inside was a whole water-cooler equipment going up.
"Obviously the universe is trying to rob me of my lunch hour," he said as he watched the door closing.
Peter considered the stairs, but it was twenty-one floors. It had to be faster with the elevators or something was utterly wrong.
A door pinged.
"Took long enough."
They moved towards the opening doors and stopped baffled as Neal Caffrey stepped out from the elevator. The kid stared back at their surprised faces.
"You guys do know we have stairs, right?"
Then he moved into the office and the others filled the elevator. Peter lingered and almost missed his chance but got inside in time. Had that elevator ever reached the bottom floor? And he left for lunch and returning with a file under his arm?
"You noticed it too?" Diana asked beside him.
Neal compared at the photos in the files.
"They share a dermatologist. Someone from the office is selling patient information," he concluded, dropping the files back on the conference table. He leaned forward. "I want that pen."
Peter was not about to hand the pen over. Not yet. Good. It was more fun if he had to fight for it.
"Blake," Peter said to their newest recruit, "run indices on all these, starting with Dr. Botox and his office staff. When I get back from lunch with Elizabeth, let's see who gets the pen."
Neal left, leaving Blake to find what he already knew. His phone buzzed. He glanced at it as he stepped into the elevator. An unknown number had texted him "20th floor". He frowned. Then he pressed the button of the floor below.
The door closed, the elevator got moving. A second of fear washed over him before the car stopped, pinged, and the door opened. In rushed Mozzie in sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and a coat so long that he almost swept the floor with it. The man pushed a bunch of the buttons in random.
"Moz," he whispered, "what are you—"
"What are you doing in a federal building dressed like Truman Capote?" Neal asked as the doors closed. He noted that Mozzie placed himself in the corner beside the door, under the camera, as out of sight as possible. "You want to explain why you're here?"
"I have a friend in need."
"Girl from the diner?" he asked as the elevator pinged and opened the doors.
"You know about Gina?" Mozzie asked as he threw himself across the door, preventing anyone from entering. "No, no. No, no. Sorry."
"Yes, I know about the girl from the diner," Neal said, though 'know' was a bit of overstatement since it was June who told him about Mozzie's waitress friend. "What I don't know is why you wore an ascot to meet with her."
"Oh. Gina likes orange." Mozzie grinned for a second before turning serious again. "And she's in trouble."
"What kind of trouble?"
"The serious kind. These two guys came into the diner. Gina got really nervous, and she told me to read a book."
"Wow. That's definitely cause for alarm."
"Neal, it was 'Snap of the twig,' and she knows I already read it!"
"That's your proof?"
"You sound like the Suit," Mozzie complained. "Right before she walked out the door of the diner, she asked me if I knew anyone in the FBI."
Once again the doors opened. Mozzie once again blocked the door.
"Oh, uh, my friend is very claustrophobic. He could get violent." Neal backed away. He did work in this building. This was not funny. "It's okay. It's okay," Mozzie soothed him.
"Don't get near me. Don't get near me." Sometimes his friend was just too much.
"Okay, look, let's give it 24 hours," Neal tried. "If she—"
"We might not have 24 hours!" Mozzie yelled. "Do you know what the plot of 'Snap of the twig' is? It's about a girl who gets in too deep and ends up being kidnapped. She said she really got 'caught up in it.'"
Had his friend met someone as happy as expressing herself in codes as Mozzie, or did his overly sensitive friend over-read things?
Once again the doors opened
"Do you guys smell that?" Mozzie asked.
"Is that burning insulation?" Neal wondered.
"Oh, sometimes these things can just..." The agents backed away and the door closed. "Gina was trying to send me a message. It was a cry for help."
"This isn't the kind of case that Peter normally handles, if it's even a case."
"They owe me, Neal. I have never even asked for one favor before."
Mozzie had a point.
"Okay. I'll look into it. Can you give me Gina's last name?"
His friend had dug up a folder from his bag.
"Oh, and then some."
Neal opened the file. Way to much information about a favorite waitress in a diner.
"This is a little creepy."
"Oh, that's nothin'." The door opened and he was gone.
Neal pressed the button for the 21th floor. Lunch had just been canceled. It was easier to get started when Peter was not around. To his surprise Peter, Diana, and Jones was waiting when the doors opened. He stared, wondering. Then he realized that they were just waiting for an elevator in lunch hour.
"You guys do know we have stairs, right?"