Peter walked into his bedroom, heading towards the nightstand to grab up his cell phone for the day. He heard voices below, laughter from his wife and another more deeper voice. He smiled to himself realizing his partner had showed up early this morning. The agent rolled his eyes slightly wondering what had brought his partner in so early when the phone rang, Peter grabbing up the cell, eyes not recognizing the number as he picked up.
There was silence a moment then a hint of breath on the other end before someone spoke.
"Been a long time, Peter."
The voice was quiet, calm and somewhat cool as the agent sat down heavily upon the end of his bed. This was a voice he hadn't expected to hear so soon, eyes glancing over at the open bedroom door.
"Simon... This is a surprise. It's not time already is it?"
He felt a certain nervousness about the call, knowledge as to why the man was calling making him feel a bit tense. It had been 8 years since the first call was made and he had obligated himself to the cause. He hadn't understood all the facts right then but over time it had made sense why they were doing what they did. Besides, his uncle had asked the favor of him and the man was someone he could never say no to.
"No Peter, it's not time but with Miss Parker's death things are beginning to escalate. I heard there was a video..."
The agent was surprised the man knew so much but his uncle had always had a hand in many pies and connections in all sorts of organizations he shouldn't have underestimated what he would know. He nodded his head.
"There is. I haven't seen it yet but when I do I will let you know what's on it. It's from Miss Parker directly through the Marshals from what I've been told. His friend came to me and let me know about it. He's been a very valuable asset despite his paranoid tendencies."
Peter heard the sound of a chair squeaking in the background and something like a keyboard being typed on before a low beep caught his attention. His uncle was in his office or study on the PC.
"Yes... He thinks he's off the radar but our files on him have been very accurate and reliable. If he were just an ordinary citizen I might help him find his real parents..."
The man's voice was coldly bemused on the last comment, Peter feeling a slight chill despite himself. His uncle had always been his hero, a force to be reckoned with from his youth. His father had always admired the man for his sense of self and strength. The man was ruthless in his pursuits at best or worse.
"He's quirky if anything. So... what is it you want me to do? I'm guessing this isn't a social call."
He heard a soft chuckle on the other end, Simon's voice anything but comforting yet Peter had learned to admire the man's forcefulness as his father had. It had helped him get where he was today even if it didn't appear that way. Simon was an expert manipulator, Peter having learned from the best and it had helped him with his current assignment in more ways than he could admit.
"No but I'm guessing your charge is there? We will talk again soon, Peter."
Simon's voice was almost ominous in his tone, something in his uncle's manner making him shiver at the hint of danger there. There must be a move happening soon and for once, Peter wasn't ready for it much as he thought he would be. 8 years was a long time to be on an assignment and not be contacted. His life had changed during that time and where as he was working on the plan, things had a way of going awry and changing. El had been a surprise he really hadn't expected despite wanting to please his uncle and do this job for him.
He glanced up to see Elizabeth standing there, her blue eyes looking at him curiously as she smiled. He still had the cell in his hand, his uncle having hung up without so much as a good-bye. It was typical of Simon not to be courteous in that manner unless he was working a deal. Peter found himself trying to do the opposite to keep up appearances, the manner of saying Hello and Goodbye second nature now where it hadn't been before.
"Sorry, was just getting my phone. Is that Neal I hear downstairs?"
He stood, walking over to kiss and hug his wife. She was definitely not something he had expected to find during his assignment, his family less than happy for the distraction but when Simon realized her added value to the job he had approved wholeheartedly. Neal liked El and that was a plus where his work was easier than it could be.
"Yes, he's making breakfast for us. You hungry?"
She was smiling still, her arm wrapping around his waist as he did the same to hers and they started downstairs. Whatever was being cooked it smelled delicious, Peter always amazed that the young man had such talents as cooking but he was a con. You learned what you did to get a job done and sometimes you gained some real skills during a job. Peter always wondered if this was one said talent or something Neal had developed on his own. He was learning more about his charge than he had before, hoping the video would pan out.
"Definitely and that scent is delicious... is he trying to butter me up for something?"
He watched his wife's reaction to his comment as non-committal, smiling at him with an understanding glance.
"I think he's just trying to impress you and me. He was flipping eggs in the air like a pro."
When they arrived downstairs, Peter noted the table had been set as if for a restaurant setting, candles in the middle and some flowers he had noted on his wife's desk yesterday. He felt a little gasp of happy surprise from El, her blue eyes glittering happily.
"Did you do this, hun?"
She shook her head at his words, a smile on her lips.
"No... I think he must be here for other reasons after all."
Her voices was full of mirth, something he loved about his wife. He had grown up in such a coarse household, his father a friendly man but tough on him. The stories he had told Neal were more or less truth but he had left out the more gritty instances of his father's love towards him. Tough love. They were whispering about the setting and aroma when Neal popped his head out, a towel over his arm like some sort of maitre de.
"Monsieurs... Mademoiselles... Please be seated."
It was a pleasant surprise, the eggs, toast and everything more than perfect. If Peter didn't know it better he would think Neal was buttering him up but as they had talked over breakfast he realized the younger man was just excited for the case they were working and of course things he wasn't discussing with his wife about the con's past. For now he was keeping El out of it although Diana was off the clock following Sam around and giving him intel. Now that Simon had called him he assumed it was time for him to start honoring what he had started so many years ago and hand over the file he had been building. There were things in there he was certain his uncle had no access to, a part of him rather proud to think he might have one up on the man when it came to resources.
"Rembrandt for your thoughts..."
Peter snapped out of his reverie, glancing up to see his wife playfully batting at Neal for his comment and an equally playful smirk on his partner's face as those intelligent blue eyes sparkled back at him. It was odd how he had come to read the moods of his partner by nothing more than the color of the man's eyes. It was true the eyes were the window to the soul but something about this particular man... Caffrey had a way about him that could be both so innocent and so grown up depending on the mood. Mostly he was just a big kid looking for someone to depend on and thankfully for his assignment, Peter had ended up being that shelter in the storm. Things had worked out far better than planned even not being in the loop on everything that applied to what he was supposed to be doing. Simon had only given him a certain amount of instructions and then he had to figure out the rest as he went along. Lucky for him, Caffrey had... Neal had come into the trap willingly.
"Just wondering how I'm going to concentrate on work when I have all this food in my stomach. I think we should probably go, Neal."
He stood up, his tummy happier for the food but definitely more full than he was used to. Even the coffee had been good, something Peter had not expected as he sniffed the lovely Italian Roast of June's he had come to enjoy. Neal had taste and that was something he liked about him among other things. El moved to his side, an arm wrapping around his waist as she hugged him and gave him a kiss, eyes twinkling up at him.
"Don't forget about dinner tonight... You were bringing the case over for a late night, weren't you?"
She glanced between the two men, Neal nodding after Peter did.
"I think Jones and Diana might be joining us too. I need to check on that. I'll call you at lunch. Later hun..."
They kissed again, Neal doing his hat trick with a gray fedora up over his wavy dark hair as he smiled but said nothing of their public shows of affection. If anything, Neal seemed a bit jealous but there was almost an admiration there for their love. The con had had very little affection in his youth from his own mother, Ellen the one who had raised him. Peter had only been made aware of that fact lately when reminded of the reasons why his partner had gone rogue. James Bennett had been a hard man to trace after what happened and it had been harder once he and his family had disappeared into WitSec nearly 30 years ago. They'd found Ellen and he wasn't certain if his uncle had been responsible for her death or not. He may not have pulled the trigger but much as Peter had wanted to help on this case, it had not been hard to refuse being the triggerman. He didn't like violence for violence sake. Still, he wanted to think of himself as a hardened person in some aspects but there was still an element of life in him and maybe a soft side. He wasn't a killer so he hadn't been offered that particular job. El had made him see that softer side more than he liked to admit.
"We going or is Hughes going to have to send over a search party?"
Neal's voice was sarcastic as the agent nodded back, taking one last kiss from his wife as they left and she waved them off. He slipped around to the driver's side unlocking the Taurus, Neal slipping in on the passenger side as they both sat down, the agent putting the key into the ignition and starting it up.
"You were thoughtful today. Something I should know about Peter?"
The consultant seemed worried, giving him a look he had hidden from El but was comfortable showing him. Peter shrugged.
"Just thinking about this case. I know you're excited about going into the field but these men are dangerous, Neal. They're counterfeiters whose partners show up dead. Are you certain you want to do this?"
Peter was worried about the con regardless of his assignment otherwise. They were partners and the younger man was his responsibility as any agent was during a case. He'd be equally worried about Jones, Diana or any of the other agents he worked with on a daily basis. There was a certain element of risk they hadn't anticipated with this case but Neal seemed all the more excited despite that fact.
"I told you, Peter... I've worked with Cyrus before. He knows me and I'm not a liability. Unlike some n00b he might want to cross off his list, he sounded excited to hear from me. Plus he's unaware of my current position. Mozzie had a few feelers send out word I was looking for someone to work with on a project. Don't worry so much."
Much as Neal sounded calm, the agent knew he worried a bit about presentation, whether or not he was really in the safe when it came to his position as a CI. They took the anklet off of him and he was out on his own like the old days hoping they had his back. Usually they gave him the GPS watch with the receiver or an earwig but they had to be careful with Cyrus. The man was dangerous and checked everyone for bugs, smashing watches and jewelry at a moment's notice. They needed this case but Peter was worrying about logistics.
"I know what you and Mozzie said. Your safety is my concern, Neal. You know how much I hate paperwork..."
He saw the con smirk back, hand reaching to mess with the radio when Peter smacked his hand like an older brother at a sibling grabbing their toys.
"No touching the radio."
At the office the day was normal enough. Peter left Neal by his desk near the door as they walked in, moving up to his own offices near the back on the second level. He gave a quick friendly greeting to Diana and Jones, both agents already putting their own things away in anticipation of the meeting to come. Today was the big day before Neal went out into the field with their current case. They had a few kinks to work out but by tomorrow everything was supposed to be ready if Cyrus contacted Caffrey or Nick Halden to help forge a few things for him. Mozzie had told them it was on but just waiting for some last minute intel to come in from his own contacts. At least, that's what Neal's comments told him. He unlocked his office door, sat down and turned on the PC as he draped his coat and jacket over the back of the chair. He saw a message pop up on his screen before he hit the button for his mail program, the agent curious who had written him since it was marked urgent.
"Boss... we're getting set up in the conference room. You want anything?"
Diana was standing there, her smile fierce as always. She was the perfect agent he thought with just enough force to scare anyone once they realize she wasn't just another pretty face. He shook his head.
"I think we're going to cater out this time. Tell Blakely to bring us the usual."
He watched her smirk back and nod.
"Ah... you must be in a good mood today."
She gave him a wink before going back down and talking to another agent, Blakely who was a newcomer. As much as he hoped some of these newer agents would grow into their roles, Jones and Diana seemed to be the ideal of what agents should be with Neal... well much as he hated to admit it, his partner was giving them a run for their money with his knowledge, skills and talents. If he hadn't gone into crime and become a cop as he had intended, this assignment may not have ever happened.
He opened up the urgent email once Diana had left, seeing it was from Simon. It was in code of course, something vague and benevolent looking enough that nobody would guess the true contents. He was used to such emails from his uncle but this one had a more timely manner to it. Simon wanted to meet soon about what was going on with the video. Neal had promised to get back to him soon but the agent didn't want to push the con. Mozzie was also curious about the tape, offering up a player and having been the one who let him know about it in the first place. Now his uncle was back in the picture again. Peter had almost forgotten what he was supposed to be doing although in the back of his mind he had thought of it off and on again. His life since taking on the responsibility of Neal Caffrey had caused things to be interesting and brought him his wife.
Peter sighed, closing up the mail and putting it in a private encrypted folder before deleting all traces of it from his account. No chances taken if he could help it as he printed out a few things they needed for the case at hand and he answered some of the more legitimate work related mails he needed to get to before the meeting. He heard sounds from next door of his agents and Neal talking as they set up and stood, files in hand. He also spied Blakely coming back with food and coffee as he had requested. If this ran smoothly as he planned, they would be finished with the case quickly and he could sit down with Neal and the video. He was actually curious for his own sake what might be on it.
"So... Cyrus Foxboro is our target. He's originally from Athens which is where Neal originally met him. Neal will be our go between on this. Our inside man. All we need is to hear that the job needs to be done by Foxboro to take him in."
Peter went on to talk about their target's background, his known and suspected crimes but none had stuck since he seemed to have strong ties to some higher power that always pulled the strings for him to get out of prison. There were suspicions the man had a sponsor but for now they just needed to catch Cyrus red handed wanting Neal's services. The agents in the room asked questions, buzz about who the sponsor could be but Peter held up a hand.
"If we do find out who he is working for, good. If not, Cyrus is a good catch and may lead us to his unknown benefactor."
The meeting went into some of the usual chatter after that, agents with questions, comments about how this was going to be done and then they broke for lunch, Neal following Peter to his office next door.
"So, Peter... I wanted to talk to you about something."
The agent glanced back at his partner, seeing a look there he rarely saw. Neal was going to reveal something to him. He gave a slight nod of his head.
"Close the door. I'm guessing this is private?"
He watched the consultant nod back, the door shut as he moved closer and sat down. There was a seriousness to his friend so this must be something big, a hesitation in the younger man's manner.
"The tape... I want you to see it with me... and Mozzie."
The agent blinked back at those words. Neal wanted to share the tape? This was definitely a change from his usual redirects and attempts to hide things. He already suspected the con had met with Sam at least once and this was a huge breakthrough. He gave a surprised gaze back, sitting up, their eyes meeting.
"Ok... how about... tonight? We need to discuss the case here and you need to be close incase Cyrus contacts you. I have an old VCR in the attic..."
He watched his partner smile slight, shaking his head.
"Mozzie is bringing the player. It's a... well, Ellen sent me a betamax."
He saw a slight blush to the cheeks, a little bit of an eye roll too which made him laugh despite himself. Would figure the tape wouldn't be a normal one. He wondered if Ellen had done that on purpose or not. He nodded, the two standing up as Peter grabbed up his coat and jacket.
"Let's discuss this quietly over lunch. El's working from home and said I should bring you over for sandwiches today if we had a chance. What do you say, Neal?"
The rest of the day went without much of a hitch. There was no call from Cyrus but they had all the preparations for when it did happen (hopefully soon) and plans to watch the video that evening. Neal had contacted Mozzie when they had gone to Peter's for lunch. El was told the minimal until Neal agreed to let her in on it. She hugged him much to his chagrin, the younger man like a little boy with a blush to his cheeks. El apologized for the scene but told him she was glad he was sharing his past with them. It was the least he felt he should do as he smiled back almost happy to have her there to support him and Peter. It was after 5:30 when they finally made it home, Neal stopping off at his place first to change and get the tape. Peter went home, waiting with his wife and Mozzie who had already showed up for the consultant to show.
"I don't feel right with you touching my wires. If you mess anything up..."
They argued about the conman bugging him or otherwise messing things up but Mozzie argued back about his wiring being ancient. Finally there was a knock and Peter went to answer, Neal standing in their doorway with an odd expression of worry or something else on his face. Nobody knew what was going to be on the tape but only Neal really had a reason to worry. Peter put a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder and smiled as warmly as he could.
The agent almost felt like he meant it, something in the words sounding real to him despite knowing otherwise. Was he beginning to believe the lies? He sighed inwardly, the younger man handing over the tape with that worried look still present.
"I should watch with those I trust, right? Thanks, Peter."
Author's Note: Yes, Peter is not the Peter you've come to love and know. There is more to this tale. I promise. This is the Anti-Peter if you want to call him that.