A million thoughts ran through his brain. Guilt, fear, rage, sadness, disappointment… once again he believed in his father. Just when he was beginning to rebuild that hero image that his mother had toughly painted for him as a kid, James had to step on the single most important piece of humanity that Neal has left. Peter. Nobody messes with Peter, not even his own father. The pain originated from James' betrayal opened up old wounds but just like he had managed to do back then, he just regained the overload of confidence, dominance and control over everything –including his feelings-, as a way to overpower the hurt. The conman had been born out of this betrayal as a coping mechanism. Now it was time to put him to good use. Bring back the dark side to aid the force. Neal chuckled out of his mind's ramblings and dark sense of humor. He had to do something. Quick.
He didn't have his anklet so, in order to help Peter, he had to run and hide before Calloway could make him useless. He grabbed his cellphone and ran out of June's. Before he could go any further, he ran into Hughes who was just about to knock on the door.
"Reese? Um… Peter…" he managed to say hesitating.
"Caffrey, save it. Come with me" the older man said with a determined glare before taking Neal's arm to push him into his car.
Neal felt the moisture in his hands, dry mouth and constricted throat. If there was a person who could reduce him to a stuttering scared five year-old was Reese Hughes. So much for the pep talk he just had with himself about confidence.
"Peter needs our help" said Hughes with his eyes on the road and then turned briefly to look at Neal before saying "I'm sorry about your father. Like I told you once, you might be a son of a bitch but you're nothing like him"
Neal couldn't look at him, he felt ashamed. He almost wanted to cover his ears and eyes and scream to erase James Bennett from his genealogy but appreciated Hughes words so he quietly answered "Thank you sir"
Gripping the wheel with white knuckles, Hughes chuckled and continued "I'm in deep here as much as you, Neal. I was the one who told Peter to play outside of the law through your… methods. So this is my fault too. We can share the guilt this time". And he turned to look at Neal with a small smirk.
Neal's look was almost comical. He couldn't believe this man but he respected him even more.
The ride continued quietly until they arrived to an alley and then to a warehouse next to the pier area. A lot of turists here. Weren't they supposed to hide?
They entered a big warehouse with nothing else but a big old wood table with computers and papers and high ceilings. No windows. Around the table, looking busy watching some papers, were Mozzie, Alex, Josh Bryson (assistant US attorney, the prosecutor who was caught with Delancey's girlfriend) and Sara. Wait! Sara?!
They all looked up to see them momentarily before going back to their business. All except Sara, who remained looking at Neal with a small smile on her lips and as if reading his mind she said "This time, someone did call me, Mozzie did"
"Alright, what do we got" said Hughes taking the lead like old times.
"I think we might have a chance" said Josh. They needed a lawyer for Peter and even when he was used to prosecuting the criminals, Peter was no criminal and he was going to defend him like hell. He owed it to the man.
Neal just stood there frozen, not knowing what to do, feeling grateful for having all these people willing to help him clean this mess. "Not everyone betrays you… or abandon you" said a voice in his head.
He felt a hand on his arm and turned to see Sara with a concerned look "Neal, you ok? You look a million miles away"
"Sara, what are you doing here? I mean, aren't you supposed to be leaving…" Neal couldn't finish his sentence when Sara put a finger on his lips.
"I am where I'm supposed to be. Peter needs us all" was Sara's answer. Plain and simple. Always with a clear head.
Neal wanted to scream "I need you too" but his pride didn't let him. He knew once this mess was cleared, Sara would leave. But to have her a few more moments was a really nice surprise, Neal thought. So he just nodded in agreement and said "Thank you, Sara" hoping she understood every feeling he was implying on those words.
"Neal, it's Diana. Fill her in on everything that went on with James" interrupted Reese passing on his cellphone to Neal. Sara just stood there, caressed Neal's cheek briefly and left him to talk on the phone.
Even though he wasn't wearing orange yet, Peter couldn't help but smile and almost laugh hysterically at the irony. He was in that little room, the "waiting room" before going into jail. He couldn't help but remember the words of the persuasive Ms Shepard "Your boy Caffrey, he's slippery. He waltzes between the line of right and wrong. And when you follow him across it, it will cost you everything. I hope I'm wrong but if I'm not, call me". Boy, was she right. Maybe he could call her? It would make her day. She was almost like a wizard, predicting the future and everything.
"Hey boss" said Diana almost shyly. Diana, shy?
"Hi you" was Peter's answer trying to smile. "You wanna take a picture of me behind bars so Neal can frame it for posterity?" attempted at a bad joke.
"Boss… James disappeared. He threatened Neal if he didn't let him escape" provided Diana with a stern look.
Peter just grunted really pissed off. He couldn't believe James. How could he screw up his son this bad? Twice! He had a second chance of doing things right and he just did it again. How could he?! Peter was fuming. Neal didn't deserve this. Poor kid.
"How's Neal?" asked Peter controlling his temper.
Diana was surprised to see Peter more concerned for Neal than his own situation.
"He's fine... But Peter, all odds are against you. Hughes has put a team together to see what we can do"
"Yeah. An underground team of course. Hughes' seven" said Diana with a smile.
Peter chuckled. He loved that man. "Alright. What can I do? I mean, given my situation"
Diana looked at him with a sad smile "You relax boss. It's our turn to help you. Enjoy your time here, later on you can share best practices with Caffrey" was her attempt at a joke.
Peter smiled "Thanks Di. Keep me informed and please be careful. Calloway is not to mess around with"
"Sure thing boss. There's someone here to see you" said Diana before leaving.
"Hi hon" were the soft words that came from Elizabeth looking gorgeous all dressed up.
"Raincheck on that sushi?" said Peter sheepishly.
Elizabeth just ran to hug her husband and cry herself to oblivion in his arms.
"It's ok hon. We're gonna be fine" said Peter while rubbing her back and kissing her head.
Once El had calmed down, she looked up at her husband and between sobs she said "I should be really pissed off at Neal but I can't. I love that idiot and I know whatever he did, he would never hurt you on purpose. I'm sorry"
Peter laughed good naturedly "Hey, there's nothing to be sorry for. I understand. I think at this point, I would forgive Neal for anything". Peter kissed her briefly on the forehead and whispered "he conned his way into our hearts"
Elizabeth looked incredulously at his husband and playfully said "Don't go all soft on me Agent Burke".
Peter just laughed and hugged her again swaying a little.