Agent Siegel wasn't sure what he expected when he came to New York. He hadn't been joshing (much as he would have liked to con a con man) when he told Neal Caffrey his new CI that he was estranged from his rich family. Being heir to the family who had the monopoly on elevator buttons wasn't something you bragged about. It was something he hid even as a kid growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. He wasn't exactly ashamed of his past but he just wanted to be like the other kids and hang out without the stigma of being that rich kid nobody liked except for their cash. He'd managed pretty well until his parent stuck him in a prep school after 3rd grade. He'd insisted he had thrown the first punch, making up for a comment someone said about him being wimpy but his parents being the elite creme de la creme of the city had him moved and he lost track of those friends and the chance to be normal. It wasn't until College he really found his calling. By then he was more than aware (had been since Junior High) that many of his dad's friends (and some of their relations) weren't the most outstanding or honest pillars of society he had grown up to believe in. By chance he'd made friends with a girl who's father was a federal agent and that's when he decided to do something with his life. His parents weren't understanding of his choice as an FBI agent nor was his now ex-wife. Despite his reluctance, David had come to embrace some of the perks of his inheritance, owning a yacht, a townhouse along Lake Michigan in a gated area and having a beautiful wife from a high ranking family. She left him after he not only turned in an uncle for laundering money but lost a good majority of his trust fund in the process of fighting his father to turn in said uncle. He had done what was right, estranging himself from the family that raised him and a wife that apparently only liked him for his prestige and money.
David liked being a federal agent. He'd always liked the challenge of going out into the field and chasing down the bad guy, putting those that cheated others out of their earnings in prison and generally making the world a better place. When his boss told him they were getting a CI he investigated the process discovering the program was an old one but that they were going to emulate theirs after the office in New York. The White Collar division of that office had successfully raised their rates of closure in the last 3.5 years from 79% to as high as 90% in some cases. He was fascinated by the fact that someone would have a criminal informant permanently on staff much more that the same CI had been used successfully and continually outside of prison for the past 3 years. He learned more about the program and the agent who was showing that maybe criminals could be reformed into a tool used for the incarceration of other criminals.
David told his boss he was up for the challenge, a month going by before he had his own CI, Kit Jenkins. Kit, short for Kittinger, was a desperate looking man only a few years older than David but they had a few interests in common although that wasn't why the man was out. He treated Kit like the tool he was, keeping him on anklet and checking it often, but they were never very chummy beyond work. That wasn't the nature of the beast and David didn't want to get involved. Kit was smart, a master thief and a forger of some prestige in Illinois and beyond. David was friendly to a point and Kit seemed to understand their arrangement doing his part to catch other thieves and forgers and they became close acquaintances at best. Kit's connections were necessary to root out everyone from mobsters to cat burglars. They had a good closure rate but David kept checking in on the White Collar division in NYC and found they were growing exponentially to other departments including their own with their one steady CI. Caffrey was definitely a catch if they were able to keep him on the straight and narrow while still stopping crimes. There must be something there he was missing…
After two years with the FBI, Celeste wanted a divorce. David accepted that but it was hard on his job. He didn't have as much attention for Kit who liked to talk to him about how hard it was to have a decent place in Chicago on his 700 a month or how many bridges he was burning by helping them. The man was an asset but right now David didn't need more issues in his life which seemed to be changing for the worse. New York was sounding like a home away from home and there was an opening there last he looked. He wasn't sure he should fill in for the position, moving so far from everything he knew but he had nothing holding him here except a CI and his boss. With Celeste gone and most of his assets he'd kept from his late inheritance, David started to wonder why not. New York was a fresh start…
He glanced up to see his boss there, Bruce Aarons giving him a two finger wave over to his office. David nodded, getting up and putting his jacket on before heading inside. Bruce motioned for him to close the door and sit down, pushing a tablet over to him. He took the device and glanced down at the page, surprised to see what was listed there.
"I know you've been looking over the site. I think you should take it. Would make a nice change for you after everything you've been through the past month. I can give Kit to Erickson. Everything's taken care of although I'd hate to lose my best agent…"
Bruce was a friend, they weren't close but they'd gone drinking a few times after a case was done or eaten dinner together. His boss was close to the same age, rising up through the ranks quickly but he was a bachelor and while married, it was hard for David to do much outside of work not involving Celeste or his family before everything went south.
"Thanks, Bruce. I… was considering the idea but I should probably stay here."
David wasn't skittish but everything was moving so fast he wasn't feeling his usual in control self. He saw the sparkle in Bruce's eye and realize maybe the choice was being made for him. His boss was like that.
"Doesn't matter now… you've been accepted. White Collar New York is waiting for you, David. This isn't an opportunity that comes every day. Always good to make a new start. The choice is yours..."
That was just over a month ago. Now he was in New York; the Big Apple; Empire City; Gotham… He smiled at the last one although he wasn't really the "superhero" type nor one who read much about them as a kid. He had liked comics but the reality of what he did for a living was far from the glamorous work of Batman or Superman. The job was gritty, telling and exhausting plus all the paperwork that never seemed to end. David didn't mind hard work. He had pushed himself away from his family and wife to make a new start. Bruce was right about one thing. He'd said his goodbyes to the few friends he had at work and to Kit. He had driven over to the not so great side of town to see how his CI was doing, curiosity at not seeing him at the office the day he was leaving. He drove up along the curb, parked and that's when he saw it. Two men were sitting on the stoop outside of Kit's apartment building, one of them was Kit and one of them… He knew that Jimmy the Jokester wasn't on the up and up but why he was with his CI was beyond him. There were no cases involving taking the bookie down but something was definitely going on as he pulled out specs and took a closer look.
"So how is it going with Caffrey?"
ASAC Peter Burke had called him into his office, David nervous of course after everything that had gone down with his first case. It had only been a month but he already felt the odd man out despite the last case they'd run which was still on-going. Everyone in the White Collar department was nice, everyone knew everyone and their birthdays but despite the warm welcome David was still feeling quite the outsider. Caffrey was a handful even if he didn't want to begin to rant about what the man was possibly doing on his off hours. He just grinned and bared it while he got his bearings and figured out exactly how to handle the situation and the job at hand. Caffrey's anklet information was straight forward but something about the man made him realize not everything was so. Burke seemed to be aware of the same thing and unphased which made him ever more confused and curious about their relationship. He'd never been close to Kit but the longer he watched his boss with his old CI, it was evident they had been friends and Burke was concerned with Caffrey in more than a working relationship. This both worried and intrigued the new guy but it wasn't his place to say anything… yet.
"Good… well as good as it could be."
He added the latter to see what his boss might say, Burke giving him a raised eyebrow but when David said nothing more, his boss just seemed to shrug it off.
"Yes, that's about the gist of working with Caffrey."
They spoke a little on the case, including the one before, but mostly David watched the ASAC's reactions gaining more than he ever needed to know about Burke and Caffrey. They were close, more so than it seemed a Fed and Con should be at work but it was something more that he could only guess at. With more time he might figure out exactly what was going on but for now he was just getting used to the job, the city and the offices. Thankfully Caffrey had given him a good start pointing him towards Chelsea. He'd been curious how accurate the con might be in guessing his likes and dislikes and Neal had hit it straight on. The place was just what he remembered liking of Chicago and then some. He had never had such a candid friendship with anyone beyond a few close friends but here everyone felt like family... even the CI. It was a tight knit group and one he almost felt comfortable joining. He just had to figure out what was up with Caffrey and his new boss. There was something there to be discovered.
The robbery of the painting from the Gershone had been one big fiasco. Caffrey's intel had been impeccable and now they were on the hook for a stolen painting worth thousands of dollars and no one to pin it on. The man with the odd hair had looked familiar to him but right now he was more concerned with Caffrey. It was too convenient the man had been gone when he needed him and showed up when the thief had disappeared with the painting. It didn't mean he was guilty of anything but Caffrey seemed to vanish mysteriously. Had Neal pulled this stunt with Burke and just where had the CI been. What was he up to? It seemed there was more to the ex-con than what he had been told. Burke had warned him Caffrey was a confidence man, ready to fire him on day one when he thought David might not be up to par. That had given him his first hint at what was expected but not what to expect when working with Caffrey. The man was wiley and disappeared at will. The anklet was accurate far as he could tell but Neal… that was a whole other story.
Burke yelled at them both, mostly David telling them how they were now responsible for the theft and the gallery was less than pleased with the results. He felt small, tiny almost and angry about losing their suspect. Neal seemed very genuinely contrite as they waited for the outcome. Soon after, two agents brought in a mousey red head, her manner scared and nervous but not guilty. He read her body language as genuinely confused about what she was being brought in for but Caffrey, there was a pallid look when the CI saw the woman come in. This might be interesting…
David was glad he had a few minutes alone with Rebecca. Peter had taken Neal aside and it looked like something important was being discussed in their conversation but for now he had to deal with his suspicions on Caffrey on his own. The only connection between the theft and this woman who was suspect was the CI. Neal had over talked everyone including her during the initial interrogation. Gone was his usual carefree manner to a more official and strict persona that didn't suit the con but did suit someone trying to pull something over on them. It wasn't in Caffrey's background to be a strong arm so why now?
"Rebecca? I understand you worked at the Gershone for the past year…"
He was trying to establish something of her background, the young woman nodding, wiping at her eyes where a hint of tears were obvious. She was terrified and he didn't blame her but he had to make sure what he thought was true was indeed so. He handed her some tissues and let her wipe at her face a moment before continuing.
"Yes, I was hired to be their librarian in the special readings area. I never… expected something like this."
She was distraught, face in hands a moment then finally she calmed down and smiled slightly at him although a bit nervously. He smiled back.
"I don't think you're the person we're looking for. I know you said you had your key-card on you but was there any chance, anyone you've forgotten that may have been close to you?"
He was trying to say things in such a manner maybe Rebecca would confirm his thoughts. Burke was still talking to Neal, the ASAC looking upset about something. They had taken him away from his evening out and David would expect he'd have been grumpy too. His thoughts wandered a moment, watching his boss and CI then moved his attention back to Rebecca.
"No one… well, there was Neal. He… I don't want to get him in trouble."
She was blushing now, a glint in her eyes he could only identify as lovestruck. Rebecca looked embarrassed but he pressed her on.
"Neal was only doing his job I'm sure. He's a professional… a CI."
He threw out the rank there and she glanced at him curiously, the blush fading back to her original peachy complexion.
"So… he's not an agent? I… well then I guess…"
She was flustered, pausing a moment before finishing her thought.
"I really thought maybe… well he had come in to look at the Codex and asked if he could read it but of course… But you're not interested in that."
She had started to babble but stopped herself, blushing a bit again before continuing.
"He was friendly and put an arm around my shoulders when I was leaning over to read some old manuscript he brought for me to look at after work. It was pure nonsense, something about UFOs and well… it doesn't really matter. He seems like such a nice guy and smart…"
She stopped herself again, a dreamy look in her eyes for a moment and then that look of fear as she remembered where she was. Rebecca wasn't a criminal or even someone who'd help one. David knew about Neal's past and she was the perfect mark for someone who'd need a keycard to get into a gallery but why report a robbery you were committing then investigate? This case was getting more complicated and they still didn't have a suspect or a why. He excused himself, talking to the agents outside and then going next door to find that Neal was gone and his boss was alone.
"Sir… I don't think she's the person we're looking for. She was just in the wrong place at the right time."
He watched Peter glance up and nod, motioning him inside.
"So you think she was duped then? Just another mark…"
Burke replied then seemed to be thinking hard about the case but it was more than that. He could see a mix of emotions behind those honest brown eyes quickly hidden as the agent spoke.
"David… I want you to know that I went to see how your stakeout was going today. I want to make sure everything goes well on this case so I will be helping out. This is still your case but I want to be on top of things. Are we clear?"
Peter smiled at him but he seemed to be apologizing for something. David was curious why the ASAC would take such interest in their case, his old boss would never do that unless it was something of a huge scale. This was just a robbery but he sensed some other intention. Apparently Peter wasn't the typical ASAC.
"No problem sir. Whatever you feel is right. Should I let her know she's been released then?"
He just wanted to go, an uncomfortable truth settling over him. Burke was suspicious of something with Caffrey he had missed or maybe he was just a hands on sort of boss. David knew it had barely been a month since Peter had gotten this position but it felt like the man missed being on the ground pounding the pavement. Burke seemed much like himself but David didn't want to make any assumptions.
"Yes of course… Just get her contact info. We may have to get in touch with her in the future…"
He was staring at the screen, watching Caffrey's anklet moving through the city within the confines of New York and never leaving. They weren't working yet and it was early but the anklet wasn't set for 2 miles while the con was working. It was after 7 AM so the change was automatic for Caffrey to move within New York and get to work. Today was no exception but David had a feeling, something about the robbery irking his sensibilities. Burke might not see it or maybe he was ignoring something as was the rest of the department. Jones seemed a sensible agent but Caffrey was one of them. Even Diana, a tough woman he discovered seemed protective of the young con. He had never felt this kind of cohesion at his workplace in Chicago much more from his own family. He had started to confront Neal about what Rebecca had said and then stopped, Peter coming in to talk to them. It hadn't seem the right thing to say and then he back peddled hoping for a better time with more info. If he could prove something terrible was being done, all the better but it was obvious Burke had been unhappy with his comment about putting his CI in prison back in Chicago. It was part of the job but it was more than that with Burke and Caffrey. He had to know what the con was up to and if it was something his boss needed to be informed about. Burke wasn't corrupted but he seemed to have a soft spot for his former CI even after the fact. Siegel didn't want to break that trust but if it meant bringing back the lost painting, he would do it.
He perked up when he saw Caffrey was walking with another man, one with hair and glasses but the face and shape was unmistakable. This was the man from Little Star…
Teddy Winters was alive!
David felt a relief his instinct had told him right but why was Neal with the little guy and what was their connection? He continued to watch from afar, seeing first the little guy hand Neal a bag and leave then Neal vanish through a small alley way between buildings to the park beyond. He pulled around to the opposite end, pulling out specs and watching. There was a man, one that seemed familiar but David wasn't sure why as he watched and waited and finally the bag was exchanged between the two as Caffrey stood there and the other man left. Neal didn't look happy about the meeting and there was a genuine unhappiness about the con. What was the CI doing that he had to sneak around like this? It wasn't the exchange of the painting as he expected so… what had been in the bag?
The next day was wet, raining cats and dogs almost as David Siegel decided to check out the man who had taken the bag from Neal. He had a feeling the CI was involved with something more than just forging lottery tickets. Kit had been into the least of crimes but something about Caffrey's meeting had made him check out further details. Curtis Hagan, a forger with possible homicidal tendencies was now out on parole. They had been working on the Little Star, Teddy Winters case (one he hoped to close soon once he confronted Neal about his little friend) when Neal had vanished in the building. Peter had seemed unfazed but now it all seemed to tie in together. The man who'd met with Neal in the park was walking from a nearby building, David leaving his warm dry vehicle to follow. He had dressed for work but he hoped he didn't stick out too much as he continued his pursuit.
The storm grew in its intensity, David keeping his head down. The man had turned a corner so he rushed to follow, Hagan no where to be seen. He kept walking but more slowly, hoping he had just missed a doorway or entrance the forger had slipped into.
"Is there a reason you were following me?"
The cold English accent cut through the sound of rain and made him turn. Siegel was face to face with the first case that Burke and Caffrey had solved together. The man was 40ish, not in the greatest of shape but dangerous looking none the less. They stared the other over a moment, gauging their strengths and weaknesses before he saw the other man smile.
"Just minding my own business… how about you?"
David tried to play it cool but the man wasn't backing down, the smile growing to a cold calculating grin.
"Well, I don't see why an agent of the FBI would be following me without a reason. Do you, Agent Siegel?"
Hagan had made him and David was feeling foolish now. He was alone without backup when he should be at work. He'd called in to say he was running late due to the weather but really he had come to check on his hunch.
"I see you have the bag from yesterday, Hagan. Any reason why you had my CI deliver it to you?"
He kept his tone even, strong and determined but it didn't change the cold grin on his opponent's face. Hagan seemed to be judging him and then after a quick frown the man's eyes flicked somewhere back over David's shoulder quickly then back.
"So he didn't tell you. I honestly didn't think he would make such a mess of things. I am not fond of cleaning up after others but if I must…"
It was sudden, Hagan making a hint of signal to someone behind him. David realized his mistake even on the open street. This wasn't the best area to be in even in the daytime and with the rain and thunder he hadn't heard the silencer. He glanced down to see the blood soaking through his light gray suit, Hagan's eyes still looking straight into his.
"I think an anonymous tip about someone being mugged will be called in soon. It's a shame you couldn't have warned Agent Burke what his friend has been up to all this time. No loose ends…"
David felt his legs collapsed under him, body going numb as he lost blood and finally feeling. He was going to die and it was all because of Caffrey. Dammit! Why did he come here… why… Hagan was kneeling beside him now, another man standing nearby with a gun in hand. The Dutchman never did his own dirty work, he should have recalled that from the file.
"Caffrey has his reasons for helping me. You won't be able to tell anyone but… He's not doing this for himself. Goodbye Agent Siegel…"
Slowly he realized what the man was hinting at, his mind recalling some detail he had pushed aside in his research coming here. Burke had been in prison, certain to be indicted for murder and lose everything but then new evidence had freed him. Caffrey had been involved but how he didn't know and now he understood. Hagan was blackmailing the con against his will. Neal who looked sad although he hid it well when Peter's name was mentioned or they were in close proximity. It all made sense now… but it was… too… late…
Author's Note: Thought after last night's clincher I had to write something. I didn't think I was going to like Mr. Siegel and I ended up gaining some respect for him near the end. His role was far too short on the series but maybe it helps to push Peter and Neal back together and get at the truth. I hope you liked this interpretation of David Siegel's last moments on earth.