Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Summary: "I made Peter assume that the first time I met Alexandra Hunter was when I got involved with Adler. But that wasn't the truth; I'd known her a lot longer than that and without Alex the con Mozzie and I were pulling wouldn't have worked."
A/N: While I liked the back story for Neal I just felt it didn't match what we were previously shown. Especially about Alex, she seemed to be a lot more than a one night stand. So I'm going with Neal wasn't completely honest with Peter.
"The truth is rarely pure and never simple." – Oscar Wilde
The Whole Truth
After Peter left I sighed and rubbed my temples. I felt guilty for keeping things from Peter after all I do consider the FBI Agent a friend. But I knew I couldn't tell him everything. So I told him only what he needed to hear. I changed some things, including some of the dialogue so it would match the story I was telling.
I reached for the origami crane that Alex had left on the table and smiled as I let it spin around in my hand. I remembered when I first taught her the Japanese art of folding paper. When she got bored she used to get fidgety and jumpy, she needed to be doing something constantly. I had painting to calm myself down; Alex couldn't draw a straight line if her life depended on it. But she did have steady hands, was very meticulous and liked everything to be neat and ordered. So I figured she could do it. I was right, it helped her clear her mind and think. And when she got good enough she left them as a calling card whenever she had a job for us.
I made Peter assume that the first time I met Alexandra Hunter was when I got involved with Adler. But that wasn't the truth; I'd known her a lot longer than that and without Alex the con Mozzie and I were pulling wouldn't have worked.
"We need to step this up" Mozzie said to me as we were sitting in my barren apartment. "We need you to find something big so he knows he can trust you"
I had been with Adler for a month now and while he liked me, I was still just an employee. While we could do this on our own, having help would get it done faster and we did have a deadline."We need to bring someone else in"
"No" Mozzie shook his head. "We're not bringing anyone else into this"
"We need too, she can help us"
"She?" Mozzie asks. "Who is she?"
"She knows her stuff Moz" I told him. "If you ever need to know anything about antiques she's the one to ask and Vincent Adler has lots of antiques."
Mozzie puts his hands together and walked closer to me. "Let me rephrase the question. Who is she to you?"
I look down, and then back at him. I knew he wouldn't like the answer but I had to tell him the truth. "An ex"
Mozzie's looked at me. "An ex, you want to bring in your ex?" Mozzie asked incredulously.
"She's good and she'll get me the trust I need from Adler" I say to him. I know she can help and I know Adler will take the bait.
"Did you break up with her or did she break up with you?" Mozzie had to ask.
"I broke up with her"
Mozzie's head starts shaking back and forth rapidly. "No, no. I don't want any romance drama involved with this."
"She's very professional and she'll make Adler start to question how safe his records are"
The next day Mozzie was pacing around his apartment, he stopped when there was a knock on the door. I went to answer it. "Hey" I say to her. She looked good, more grown up and professional then I'd ever seen her. Her business must be doing well she was wearing a tailored black skirt with a low-slung belt and a silvery lattice-printed shirt.
"Hey" she says back with a weak smile. I moved over to let her inside. I saw her eying me up and down too. She'd never seen in me in a suit.
"Thanks for coming" We had worked together a few times after we split up. We knew how to work as a team and some jobs required her skill set. Mozzie asked me if we could trust her, I told him we could. She betrayed me once but I was young and stupid and told her we should take a break in the middle of one of our jobs. She took the piece and left me stranded but I kind of deserved that.
"You said you had a job that would interest me" she says waltzing into the room like she owned the place. That's the type of woman she was, demanding, intelligent and exotic. And I loved her once.
"We do" I tell her. "Mozzie this is Alex, Alex this is Mozzie" I say as I introduced them. They both looked at each other sizing each other up, as cons we don't look at the size of a person we look at their intelligence.
I told them to sit and I explained the plan to her.
"So let me get this…you want me to start digging through Vincent Adler's acquisitions and then you're going to turn me into him?" Alex asked with the skepticism clearly evident on her face.
"Yeah, that's the plan" I siad with my charming smile.
"And if he kills me?" She asked.
"He won't" I tell her. "Because you're not actually going to take anything, just poke around to get his attention."
Alex hated having people know who she was unless she wanted them too. "And you know this for a fact?"
"He's not a killer" I tell her.
"Then I want 20%"
"No we agreed you'd get 10" Mozzie says speaking up for the first time.
"If I'm going to show my face to him, therefore putting me on his radar as a thief, I'm being more than agreeable with 20%. It's fair or I can just walk and you guys can take care of it" I knew she'd ask for more because she knew I wouldn't have called unless I needed her. I turn to Mozzie and plead with him. I explained to him before she got here that with this Adler will trust me more than ever.
"Fine" Mozzie finally says clearly showing how unhappy he was with the new arrangement. But he wanted the cash more.
"Ok" Alex said with a smile. "Time to see what toys the CEO of Adler Financial likes"
Two weeks later I walk into Adler's office with news of my discovery. I brought to his attention earlier, letting him know that someone had accessed his records of the antiques in his private collection.
"You found the culprit" Adler says more then asks. He was very interested when I told him. I should've known that there was something up but I was too focused on the con.
"She talked her way in; she seems mostly interested in your South American acquisitions"
"And you got her to come here in person?" Adler asks this time not hiding the impressed look on his face.
"I had the foundation feed her story that they were impressed with her research, she thinks she's here for a job interview"
"Bring her in" he says to me.
"Yes, sir" I say and walk to the door. "Miss Hunter" I say to her when I open the door. She walks past me without as much as a look in my direction.
"Alex Hunter, it's a pleasure…" She began introducing herself.
"Have a seat" Adler says interrupting her. Miss Hunter, your passion for antiquities is unusual for such a young woman."
"Every object has a story to tell and if find those stories fascinating" She says.
"That was almost convincing. Who are you working for?" Adler asks cutting through the bullshit.
"I don't work for anyone, yet that's why I'm here" Alex says keeping up the part of the clueless woman.
"You can drop the act. Someone is paying you to get into my records" Adler says standing. Suddenly he's right in her face, his hands on either side of the chair she was sitting in. "Now who is that why don't you tell me"
Alex jumps a little and tries not to look at me, but I know she's scared, so am I. I didn't expect him to do that. "Sir, maybe it would be best if we…" I say trying to interrupt him, I promised Alex she wouldn't get hurt but now I wasn't so sure.
"What are you looking for?" he asks still leaning close to her and locking his eyes on hers.
"There were rumors that you made big discoveries, I got curious." She replies as calmly as she can. "I thought you wanted to share your art with the world?"
"That for me to decide, you accessed my private database, made copies of my records I should bring charges." He told her, he lingered for a little while longer than backed away. "Everyone gets one mistake in life and one opportunity of fix it. I believe in second changes I believe you're clever to know what I mean." He tld her as he sat back down at his desk.
She walked out of the room, giving me a look that said. I hope you're right about him because he knows what I look like. But our plan worked out perfectly. That day Adler told me to call him Vincent and handed me a substantial payment which I then invested in his company.
I was looking at Kate talking with her boyfriend when she joined me. "Is this job all work and no play or we can grab a drink or something?" She asked me. I looked once more at Kate; she was all over her boyfriend. I try to hide my disappointment when I turn back to her. "Sure" I told her.
We ended up in bed like I told Peter and that is when she told me what she was looking for the Music Box. So that part was true, Alex turned me onto the Music Box.
While our con didn't go according to plan, rooting in around in Adler's records Alex found more information on its whereabouts. Adler had traced it to Copenhagen. That's the real reason he acted the way he did with her. He didn't want anyone else getting near the Music Box before he did.
I was worried when Adler got in her face, I promised her she'd be safe and I wouldn't let anyone hurt her. Alex was the only one that really knew who I was, before Kate, before Mozzie, before I was the Neal Caffrey I am today. She knew me when I was just a boy looking to make a quick buck.
I walked into the pawn shop with a purpose; I went straight to the counter and laid the bracelet carefully on the counter so the diamonds would sparkle in the sunlight. It was on impulse that I broke into the woman's apartment, I didn't plan on it but I pulled it off without a hitch. I've lifted wallets but that was my first B&E and I was proud of myself. I only grabbed a couple of pieces the ones that looked like they were worth some money. When I got back home I went to the library to see if I could find how much they were worth.
I knew I couldn't go to an appraiser with stolen goods and I knew I couldn't go anywhere in my neighborhood I didn't want to be recognized so I took the bus to the next town over. The first few pawn shops I went to the owners didn't seem to know anything about what I was holding, they were offering me hundred bucks or less, so I just walked out. It was getting late and I knew I had to get home soon or my mom would start to worry. So this was the last pawn shop I could go to today.
The man at the counter looked like a middle aged frat boy with a slight beer belly he had a brown hair that fell into his eyes but he was dressed in a collared shirt and slacks, which was a step above the others I saw today.
I watched him eye the piece; he picked up and examined it. "I'll give you $500" he said to me.
"$500, this piece is worth at least a grand" I tell him getting bold, that was the highest offer I had but I knew it was worth more. I saw him look up and tilt his head so I follow his eyes and saw her. She had long brown hair fell in waves down her shoulders; she was dressed casually in jeans and a concert t-shirt but she walked with a confidence that not very many girls her age possessed and that made her seem more polished despite the clothes she was wearing. I couldn't take my eyes off of her as she walked behind the counter. She pulled on white gloves, picked up the piece and studied it under the light.
"18 karat gold, French mine cut" She paused to think. "…from the late 19th century and it is in mint condition." She said the man.
I tried to hide my reaction. I had spent days looking for a book with that particular piece, and she knew what it was by sight. I had to force myself to think of things that didn't interest me because looking into her dark brown eyes, hearing her voice talk about historical facts about the bracelet I stole was making me fall in love with her.
So I panicked and started rattling off excuses as to why I had it. "It was my mother's handed down from her mother and so on" I told them. "She died last month and we need the money now"
"I don't care where you got this, son" The man sighed. "I'll give you $1000"
Again I tried to hide my reaction I wasn't expecting that much. I knew it was worth about couple hundred more, but it was stolen and they knew it so it was fair. I was too busy watching him count the money that I didn't notice the girl had left. I looked all around the store for her but she was gone.
I stuffed the money in the inside pocket of my jacket and walked out of the store.
"I know it's not your mother's" Her voice startled me and I turn around to see her leaning against the brick wall, she had been following me.
"Don't worry we won't turn you in" She said to me with a smile. But I could see she was shyer now than before when she was just talking about the bracelet. That she knew how to talk about without a problem but talking to me made her timid. "I just want to know…if you have more…from that collection?"
"I do" I told her.
"Well if you're interested in selling we'd take a look at them" She said her nervousness know showing. "So you know you stop in…if you want" She said and turned around to start walking away.
"Wait!" I call out after her. "What's your name?"
I smile at the name "I'm Neal"
Like Nick Halden, Alex wasn't her real name. Keeping with her Greek heritage she took the name Alexandra from Alexander the Great who was a great patron of the arts and a brilliant strategist that knew how to take what he wanted. She chose the last name as a play on her profession. She considered herself a treasure hunter of sorts.
Alex was never that great of a con artist but that's the one she's pulled off convincingly. Anyone that met her after her name change as only known her as Alex Hunter; her integration into becoming her was extraordinary. She had a birth certificate, a social security number and family story, so for all intents and purposes Alexandra Hunter was real. Only a tiny little scar put a blemish on her perfect alias, which was the only reminder she allowed of the girl she used to be, the girl she wanted to forget. But I knew her as Nicole Callis, the sixteen year old antique historian and thief that worked in her uncle's pawn shop.