A/N: I read the article about the art heist this morning and fictional character be damned, the first thought that came to my head was, "Neal Caffery." Can we imagine an episode of White Collar "ripped from the headlines?"
Con fessions of innocence.
Neal nearly spewed out his mouthful of Italian roast coffee as he read the newspaper article. Of all the times for him to be in the midst of an undercover operation. The anklet was off. With a hint of trepidation and a careful look skyward, he wondered if he'd get the benefit of the doubt via a phone call first, or the full force of the FBI attack team swarming into the loft from every conceivable avenue.
A thief, apparently acting alone, broke a window and smashed a security grill when he was caught on a video surveillance camera early Thursday morning, entering the Paris Museum of Modern Art, across the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower. The tape showed a masked man exiting with five paintings, "Le pigeon aux petits-pois" by Pablo Picasso, "Pastoral" by Henri Matisse, "Olive Tree near Estaque" by Georges Braque, "Woman with a Fan" by Amedeo Modigliani and "Still Life with Chandeliers" by Fernand Leger. The paintings are estimated to be worth a total of half a billion euros.
Thinking it would be better to be led away in chains fully dressed rather than in his pajamas, robe and slippers, Neal barely got to the French doors before two men surrounded him.
"You're here," the surprised announcement came in stereo, on one side Moz and on the other side Peter.
Neal felt insulted on a number of levels. One - that both men immediately thought that he was the thief (on this he also felt flattered), two - that he hadn't run, three – that if he had taken the paintings that he would still be here, four – what professional thief worth his black mask would need to stoop to breaking a window and they'd think he was so rusty that he would have been caught on surveillance video. After all, as much as he admired Adrian Tullane, Neal knew he could have pulled off that heist of the pink diamond without the wave and flirt which tied Tullane to the heist.
Looking from one man to the other, Neal didn't know which direction was worse. Moz looked up at Neal with a sly expression, his eyebrows doing a bit of a happy dance as he alternating smiled knowingly at Neal, and innocently at Peter.
On the other side, looking down at Neal, Peter's frown had reached new stress points and his expression needed no tutoring in how to look menacing, no matter at whom he looked.
Neal stepped away from the two of them, "I know neither of you are going to believe me but I didn't do it," said Neal.
"Uh, huh," said Moz.
"I really didn't do it."
"Where were you last night?" asked Peter.
"Here and I was sleeping, alone in my bed, so no, I don't have an alibi."
"You know, Mr. Suit," Moz said looking around the loft from where he stood, "The paintings aren't here."
"Thank you, Moz."
"It would have been too difficult to transport them so he probably just stored them in Paris."
"Moz!," Neal exclaimed looking horrified that his, friend, would have said such a thing.
"I would agree," said Peter. "But there's been no activity around your suspected stashes in the last 24 hours, however Investi Brigade de Répression du Banditisme is keeping them under surveillance."
"He might have taken them across the border to Belgium or Spain."
"Moz, you're not helping."
"No, the time factor is already slim enough. I dropped him off here last night at 6 p.m. and there's a six hour difference. The broken window was discovered before 7 a.m. their time. That would have given Caffery, (Neal noted how he was now Caffery instead of Neal, bad sign,) a seven hour window of opportunity."
Neal looked from one to the other in amazement.
"So let me get this straight. You suspect me of being able to not only fly to Paris and fly back and rob five paintings and hide them all in seven hours? Who do you think I am, Superman?"
"He wouldn't have robbed the Museum, Caffery," said Peter.
"But, you have given off the impression from time to time that you're superhuman," Moz said with a significant look.
"And you have scaled walls," remarked Peter.
Neal rolled his eyes. "Repelled, repelled down a wall, not flew."
"There were some people who thought that when you wear glasses, you do look a little bit like Clark Kent.'
Peter relented, "Okay, okay, I guess that it would be a bit beyond your capabilities to pull that off."
"Am I supposed to feel insulted or challenged?"
"I'd feel relieved if I were you and be grateful I'm not hauling your ass back to prison," Peter walked over and sat down at the patio table, "Any coffee left?"
Neal and Moz joined him and just picked up the pot when Alex barged onto the balcony.
"Caffery, wow, five paintings and one of them a Picasso; I'm stalling at least 10 buyers already."
"Peter, please, just shoot me now."