-Suit-

A con, a felon, someone to 'be knocked off my pedestal and dropped down a peg' – that is how so much of the world only sees us. I guess we are. Some of us got here because, well like me, I – Mozzie – chose to be. I wanted to get something for nothing. I'll be the first to admit, I grew up with a 'me first' attitude. I think I was born selfish from the room. I'm proud to say there is not a hustle or a scam or a dare I haven't done. Sometimes I do it because I need the money. Sometimes I do it for spite, because the 'innocent victim' has wronged me or someone I care about. Most of the time though, I confess, I do it for kicks. I do it for the rush, the hit of adrenaline. I do it for the ego boost, proving myself as good or better then anyone else. Its really none of the different reasons people use for cheating and plagiarizing, for cheating on a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend, or taking credit for someone else's work. When you want something, whether or not you're entitled to it, you can usually find a moral or mental justification for doing whatever it takes to get it. Its funny how morals and ethics can twist and one set is applied to me and another set for everyone else, don't look so shocked, Suit. You do it yourself.

I know you're lying to Neal. Aw hell, I'm often either lying to Neal or concealing bits and pieces of this strange anomaly known as the truth. We do it to protect him, or at least that is what we tell ourselves. I wonder though, who is the hypocrite and the con now? A con conceals truth to meet their ends. I know, you are probably choking on your wife's fancy coffee at the thought of me daring to put you in our criminal lot. I know. I've heard you lecture Neal about his sins and crimes. I know about the victim impact panels you've forced him to attend to beat his self esteem into the toilet. Thank you for trashing over twenty years of hard work. You're just going back and recreating his damn drunken foster fathers crap. You will be glad to know that underneath his fancy cool veneer, he is back to feeling lower then dog crap. This must make you feel morally righteous. He understands a victim's pain, better then either of us.

He was twelve when he stumbled into my life, yeah, literally stumbled. The kid was skin and bones. He had wild, dirty, matted hair and glasses taped together with entirely too much duct tape. His fingernails were filthy. He looked akin to a Dickens 'street urchin'. He wouldn't look me in the face. His eyes were always down or darting from side to side. His voice was soft and he stuttered a little, usually when he was upset or nervous. If you listen really carefully it comes back under extreme stress. I'm not sure you noticed that though. His shoes were barely hanging on and he smelled like he'd never had a bath. He wouldn't let me touch him for a very long time. He wouldn't tell me why and to this day, I don't want to know. I'm afraid I will break my own codes and kill a few sons of a bitches.

He hadn't been to school since the third grade, if that. Seems his foster mother died and his foster father just dumped him off. Yep, drove him to the bus station, dumped him on a bus to New Orleans and took off. He can't remember his real parents, just gun shots, hiding, and a faceless figure 'eater' who protected him. He ate scraps, garbage, or panhandled to get by in New Orleans before me. He probably did other things to survive, but again I put that in the 'don't ask' category. I figure a kid who came through rough times deserves his secrets. It's his life, his past, and frankly Suit, I don't think it is our right to know. I fed him and eventually it became a regular occurrence. Eventually I took him in, cleaned him up, and began his education. All that stuff he knows about art and languages and math? I taught him. I found everything I could so no one would ever call that boy stupid. I homeschooled him and followed every law I needed to follow to a tee. He tested out of the 12th grade higher then a lot of the so called 'good normal kids' did.

I also taught him how to survive in the school of hard knocks. You tell me, Suit? Is it better to dump a kid on a bus with no money or to teach that kid to survive and thrive, even if it means breaking the law? Where in the hell were your sainted laws and codes then, when he was thrown away like garbage? Where were they when doctors turned us away when he had strep and was barely alive because I didn't have insurance? He nearly died in my arms and I vowed that this boy would grow to one day show them wrong. I trained him to pick pockets. I trained him to pick handcuffs and any lock current or ancient. He had a talent for art and I nurtured it. I had him trained by the best money could find, legal or otherwise.

Yes, I taught this innocent lump of clay I was given to be proud. I told him they were victimless crimes. I read him 'Robin Hood' and told him that that was what he was. I told him he was non-violent. We never held a gun to anyone's head. We never broke into a house and stole a grandmother's last five dollars. We never stole from a common person. I taught him the code and you'd never believe this, but he made me give a percentage to the poor. He has a fondness for coffee cans with the picture of a kid on it. I think because inside he feels a closer kinship to the kid then he wants to admit. He came to me so damn broken. I healed him. He was full of shame. I removed that shame and I gave him pride. The 'fault' for his 'pedestal' lies with me. Children learn what they are taught. I taught him well.

I'm not ashamed, but I hear Neal at night. I hear him when he thinks its all quiet. I hear him being upset. I don't go to him anymore. He'll push me away now and deny it. He doesn't want to hurt or disappoint me. He also though is seeing through you that there is a different way to live. He doesn't know where he belongs now. He wants your world but is scared to leave the only world he knows. He's afraid that if he does, he will lose me in the process. He no longer really wants to stay here in my world. I can see that in his eyes when he's unguarded and thinks I can't see. He's seeing some white picket fence, a dog, a house in the suburbs, a sensible car, and the whole nine yards. He's heard your song, Suit, you cagey "Pied Piper of Hamlin". He wants what you offer. He wants what you are showing him he can have. My influence is declining a bit as yours is ascending. He is taking more and more of his cues and his understandings of proper behavior from you.

I still can't believe his momentary stupidity. He was without that anklet. He could have run anywhere. No. He sits down and waits with you. He lets you put on the cuffs and escort him back to prison, trusting you would figure out how to get him out. I charged down and I just ripped into him. He wouldn't say a word and then just looked up at me when I stopped to breathe. He looked at me, forgetting to put the guards up, hurt and surprised. "It's right. Peter will fix it." Six words and deep inside a dagger went into my heart and it twisted. I knew then I had lost him. I knew his talk of 'busting him out' was more to appease me and get revenge then following his heart. He couldn't con me though. I knew the real score. I knew that afternoon when you left where Neal's loyalty really lay.

I'm being forced into a situation I do not like and that I am not comfortable in. If I want to keep Neal in my life, I have to stop this little 'war' between us. I need to wave the white flag of truce. I love my boy too much to pull him like a stretch doll, especially when I know you'll win in the end. I have to swallow my pride and trust you. I have to hand over some of the responsibility for a truly beautiful and gentle soul to a society that I detest, a government I don't trust, and you, a man I know has as many secrets as I do. I know too that you will never give him up. You searched for him for years. I could take him to the depths of hell and you would come down there and get him. Your eyes warn me not to get into a contest with you for Neal. Your eyes warn me of many dangers and that you won't lose. I think you know what's hidden in the damn box like I do.

You think I did this all deliberately. You don't trust me totally, wondering how far in I am. I know who Neal really is as well. No, I won't confirm it in this letter. First, I don't know who else but you will ever see it. Second, I don't trust you totally either. You have earned Neal's trust, now you have to earn mine. The proof you are seeking is in the box. OK, I also dread putting the truth in words. I dread losing him to you forever once the shadow kings are at rest. You are the 'eater' he calls for in the nightmares with a faith that if you come all the demons will go away. You are the person he looks for every time he feels proud, or hears a good joke, or feels scared and lonely. You are the face he can't remember of the brother he can't forget. You're the one whose birthday comes and he spends it shrouded in a thick cloak of depression but can't remember why.

Meet me in the park. You will do the paper. You'll meet me at least half way. We both are too important to him to walk away. Oh, and YES you will do the birds. Give me a break, unlike my boy, I still have a reputation to protect. Being seen to close to Suits might be bad for future business prospects. Sorry, I am happily unrehabilitatable. Same time and place as last time. Lighten up and don't look so damn suspicious.

-MH-

Peter folded the long letter with perfect penmanship and put it back in the unmarked envelope. Deep down, he had to admit there was something fun about Mozzie and his cloak and dagger. The bird shit was too much. He felt that was simply Mozzie's way of annoying the hell out of him. Well, Neal, or Nicky as Peter called him in his memories, was well worth it. There were some things a big brother just did for his little brother. He put the envelope back in his suit pocket, feeling grim that this was another secret to be kept until it was safe for Neal. The shadow kings must feel the children of Agent Burke Davis were dead until the ball was in their court. Until then, only El and Hughes could know. Fowler's death would free him to tell Neal the truth. It couldn't come soon enough to suit Peter; no bastard tried to kill his baby brother and lived. He bought the paper, flipped it to the right page and headed to the bench.