CHAPTER 6


"Have you found anything more about the typewriter?" Neal asked anxiously as he walked with Mozzie.

"No one seems to know. For all we know, it could be something sitting in a museum," Mozzie said.

Neal stopped walking, "You think it's something in a museum?"

"I'm just saying it's a possibility," Mozzie said. The two resumed walking. "I checked out the private antique collectors I was able to find. There were only a couple of them who even had ribbons in them to show me what the print looks like."

"How did you get them to show you the print?" Neal asked.

"I just asked," Mozzie replied as if Neal had asked a ridiculous question.

"Do we know which museums might have this particular model typewriter?" Neal asked.

"There are only two in the United States. One is in Lancaster, California. The other is in Dallas, Texas," Mozzie replied.

"What about outside the US?"

"I'm afraid I have no information on that, my friend," Mozzie replied.

The two men walked on in silence as Neal contemplated what to do next.

"Maybe it's time to ask your lady friend," Mozzie suggested.

Neal stopped, shoved his hands into his pockets and looked at Mozzie but did not speak.

"She has connections and she can provide the best cover through her network in the Harper Group," Mozzie began. "You could suggest that she look into buying unusual and interesting items for the Harper Gallery to create an American Retrospective exhibition."

"Or I could just tell her why I want to know," Neal finally said.

"Or you could just tell her why you want to know," Mozzie repeated.

They started walking again. When they had reached June's house, Mozzie asked his friend, "Are you sure you trust her?"

"Yes," Neal replied.


Once inside her car, Stephanie made a phone call.

"I think we're close," Stephanie said.

"Has he asked the question?" the voice at the other end asked.

"Not quite," Stephanie replied. "But I think he will very soon."

"What makes you say that?" the voice asked.

"For the first time, Neal can't crack the code," she replied. "He wants answers. He's off the hook with the FBI for now but he knows Peter is not going to give up until he knows exactly what happened to the art. And now that we've wrapped this case that's been keeping Peter away from looking into the explosion, Neal knows his time is running out."

"OK," the voice said simply.

"Are you ready for what may come next?" she asked.

"I've been waiting for 30 years."


Neal had spent the night tossing and turning in his bed. He checked the time on his phone. It blinked 3:42. It was too late to call Stephanie at this hour.

He finally gave up trying to sleep and got out of bed. He took the note with the typewritten address of the storage room out of his pocket again and stared at it.

He wondered if "YOU'LL THANK ME" was supposed to be a secret message that he was meant to know.

Neal walked out onto the terrace, the cool air nipping at his bare skin. He stared out into the Manhattan skyline and wondered if this new life was just another version of the prison he had spent four years of his life in. Of course not, Caffrey! The voice inside his head told him this was the life he had gone after when he met Mozzie, when he started working for Adler. It was the life he had dreamed of sharing with Kate.

But now Kate and Adler were gone. Mozzie was still the ever-loyal, ever-present friend, confidant and mentor that he needed.

Peter. The father he never had. The brother he never had. The epitome of good, if ever he'd seen one. He suddenly felt totally inadequate at having let Peter down far too often than he deserved.

Neal reminisced about all the crimes he had committed with Mozzie by his side. Then he thought about all the crimes he had solved by Peter's side. He could not imagine his life without either or both of them.

Last but not least, there was Stephanie. Like it or not, she had entered his life in a most unexpected way. Peter had wanted to know what their relationship was, not in an ex-boyfriend jealous way, but as a concerned friend to both. He was not sure he had quite figured it out himself yet. She had trusted him with secrets that even Peter did not know about; secrets that Peter could never know about or she would be on the fast-track to prison.

Neal watched the sun rise over the terrace. After a while, he checked the time again. 5:58. He quickly showered and got dressed.

He waited till 6:30 and picked up the phone. Stephanie picked up on the second ring, sounding a little sleepy, "Hey, I missed you last night."

"I'm sorry I didn't call," Neal said. "Can you meet me this morning?"

"Where are you taking me for breakfast?" she asked.

"I need you to meet me somewhere," he said.

"Oh?" Stephanie said with surprise. "OK, give me the address."

"77850 Ganesvoort St. I'll meet you in front of the building in half an hour."

"I'll be there."

Neal checked himself one more time in the mirror, picked up his fedora, made sure the key to the storage room was still in his pocket, and left.


Neal held out a cup of coffee for Stephanie as she got out of her car.

He gave her a quick kiss and said, "I'm sorry to get you out so early."

"It's OK," she replied. "I didn't sleep very well last night anyway."

Neal noticed she had not asked him why they were meeting there but he did not question her.

She followed as he walked ahead of her and led her to the door marked "UNIT A", inserted the key and walked inside.

He held the door for her and watched her expression carefully as he turned on the light to expose all the Nazi art that had been switched from Adler's warehouse at the pier.

"I see you don't look too surprised," Neal commented.

"No," she admitted, looking straight into his eyes.

"You did this," he said. It was a statement rather than a question.

"I had help," was her simple reply.

"Why?" was his first question.

Stephanie opened her bag, took out a thick file and handed it to Neal. He looked at the label on the cover with "N. CAFFREY" written in large capital letters.

"Why do you have a file on me?" Neal asked.

"Open it," Stephanie said.

As Neal flicked through the file, he quickly realised this was not about him.

"This is about my father?" Neal asked.

"The reason you never found anything on him is because his records were sealed and he was in Witness Protection."

Neal suddenly felt weak at the knees and sat down.

"My father was a dirty cop," Neal said, matter-of-factly.

"Yes, he was. That was 30 years ago. He was a young man with a new family to support. He thought it would be easy money," Stephanie said. "How much do you know about your Dad?"

"I did some research. Found newspaper articles. I knew he was working for Tony Di Lorenzo, who ruled Hell's Kitchen back in the day. Racketeering, counterfeiting, general neighbourhood terrorism," Neal replied.

"That's what the papers reported and that's what was recorded in his official NYPD personnel file," Stephanie explained.

Neal looked puzzled.

Stephanie sat down next to Neal and took his hand in hers. "Your Dad was a good man who made the wrong choice and paid a high price for it. When he realised what he had done and how many people he had hurt he decided to turn on Di Lorenzo. He walked into the FBI's Organised Crime Division and dropped a pile of seriously incriminating evidence against Di Lorenzo in their lap, all of which resulted in his eventual conviction. Your Dad was ready to testify against Di Lorenzo."

"I don't understand…why didn't the FBI protect him? They had to know his life would be in danger if he was going to testify against a crime boss! The reports said Dad died in a hail of gunfire when the cops caught him?" Neal said.

"That's what everyone was supposed to believe. That's how the FBI reported it," Stephanie replied.

"So there was no gunfire?" Neal asked.

"Oh, there was gunfire and according to FBI reports, Nicholas Caffrey died on the operating table. He sustained major injuries and was operated on but as soon as he came out of recovery, the US Marshals took him into custody, gave him a whole new identity, and hid him in a safe house until he was fit to travel."

"Where did they send him?" Neal asked.

"Oregon," Stephanie replied.

"If they gave him a new identity, how do you know all this?"

"Because your Dad and mine were partners," Stephanie said.

Neal's jaw dropped with surprise.

"My Dad never believed that your Dad was dead. He knew the FBI had offered to put him, you and your Mom into protective custody but he had refused. Even as they lowered Nicholas Caffrey's coffin into the ground, my Dad was convinced he was alive somewhere. They had made a pact to look after each other's family should anything happen to either of them but shortly after your Dad supposedly died, your Mom took you away. My Dad did everything he could to make sure you didn't get into trouble," Stephanie said.

"I'm sorry," Neal apologised regretfully. "I didn't mean to make it such a tough job."

"Well, I think he called in every favour he ever earned with every cop he'd ever met to try and keep you out of prison for as long as he could," Stephanie said. "He spent the rest of his life looking for Nicholas and he gave me this file just before he died. He never found him but he made me promise to keep looking and to look out for you."

Neal was trying to process all this new information and suddenly pulled his hand away from Stephanie's. "How long have you known this? Is this why you got close to me?" he demanded, as he flashed back to every intimate moment he had shared with the woman sitting in front of him.

"When the FBI offered me this job after Dad died, I realised it was the perfect cover for me to find your Dad. I had no idea what I would do if I ever found him or how I was supposed to look out for you," Stephanie said.

Neal stood up and began pacing the room as his own history was being laid out in front of him.

"I tried for years to look for you, your Mom and your Dad without luck, until you turned up at Adler's doorstep. I couldn't believe it. But there was little I could do when I realised why you were there. I had to let your con play out to protect myself, and Ryan," Stephanie continued.

Neal finally stopped pacing. "OK…but you still haven't answered my question. Is this why you got close to me?" he repeated the question.

"No," she replied simply.

"I don't believe you," Neal raised his voice.

"I'm not lying to you, Neal. I've always answered every question you've ever asked."

"But you've never told me the whole truth either," Neal accused.

"Isn't that what cons like us do?" Stephanie asked. "I've been watching you for years but I never really knew you until we met a couple of months ago. You and I have always had much more in common than you realised. I couldn't tell you all this until I knew you trusted me enough to tell me the whole truth – that you had the treasure the whole time."

"You figure this is how you get me to trust you?" Neal asked, feelings of betrayal starting to run through his mind.

"Neal, it might not seem that way to you but I've had to give up everything in my life to keep my promise to my father so that he can keep his to yours," Stephanie explained. "I could have said no to the FBI when Bancroft recruited me in college. I could have married Peter and had the kind of life with him that he has with Elizabeth. Instead, I lied to the only man who ever truly loved me and rejected him, married a thief and living with his cache of stolen art that I don't know what to do with, and had an affair with a man who tried to kill you. Neal, I have no way out of this life. I made my choice nearly 20 years ago and this is what it all comes down to: you."

There was a long silence as Neal tried to process all this.

"Does Peter know about my father?" Neal finally asked.

"No. Not yet. It's not my call to make," Stephanie replied.

"Is my father still alive?" Neal asked.

"Yes," came the simple reply.

"Do you know where he is?" Neal felt the sudden rush of adrenaline coursing through him.

"Yes," again came the reply.

"How did you find him?" Neal asked.

"Actually, he found me, through June and Byron," Stephanie replied.

The shock on Neal's face was apparent. "June?"

"They met years ago in Atlanta. I believe Byron was trying to pull a fast one at the casino and your Dad caught him but he didn't report him. They talked, became friends and your Dad asked them to find you. The web of cops and robbers are far more intricately linked than you'd think," Stephanie said.

"Are you telling me that meeting June at the thrift store when I was released from prison was no accident?" Neal asked, somewhat disbelieving.

"There are no coincidences or accidents in life, Neal, you've had angels looking out for you all your life. You just didn't know it."

"What about Mozzie?" Neal was suddenly wondering if there was ever anyone he crossed paths with who'd be sent there to help and guide him.

"Well, Mozzie is one of a kind," Stephanie said, letting a slight smile escape her lips. "He was nobody's plant. But I'm sure if you two hadn't met, your Dad would have somehow managed to make sure you did."

Neal stared at Stephanie for a long time. Finally, he asked, "What now?"

"Now?" Stephanie replied as she stepped closer to Neal. "Now you have to choose."

"Choose what?" Neal asked.

"Now you have to choose a side. Are you going to tell Peter the truth or are you going to find your Dad and run away with the treasure?"

~The End ~


Final Author's Note:

I'd like to dedicate this story to my "WCHBO" crew…you know who you are. It should come as no surprise if you saw your first or middle name mentioned at some point in the story. There are other mentions of places that may also be familiar to you – you know who you are! The steam room scene is for you!

A reminder that I wrote and completed this particular story prior to watching the Season 3 premiere and that this story is purely representative of what I thought happened to the treasures, who was responsible for stealing them and why.

Since writing my first fanfic "Crossing Paths" last year, I had wanted to include some mention of Stephanie holding a key to Neal's past with regards to his father. However, at the time, I simply had no idea how it would fit and the idea was shelved. When Under the Radar aired and the treasures disappeared, I had the idea that perhaps Neal's father wasn't dead and had been responsible for switching the art. I don't think this is what actually happened but it just fitted with my version of events

The talents of the White Collar writers give me such inspiration everyday and I applaud the work that they do. I hope I have done justice to the characters that they have created. If at any point while reading this story you felt you could almost see Matt Bomer or Tim DeKay acting out these scenes, then I feel I have done my job. The talents of these two, along with Willie Garson, know no bounds.

As always a very big thank you to my Tweetpea, Claire, for beta'ing my stories to make sure all the commas, fullstops and apostrophes are in the right places, even if she may get distracted by the naked/shirtless Neal scenes on the odd occasion! This one was a particularly "war and peace" story to beta and I thank her for her patience and dedication!