"Oh yeah, and you say that with the FBI hot on your tail?!"
"Yes, Alex" Neal rolled his blue eyes.
"Did you not even think that Burke'll arrest you at the first chance he'll get?!" Alex was doing her best to keep her voice down, but her frustration was building by the second. Neal couldn't help thinking about how alluring she looked, her dark honey-colored hair in waves and her eyes sparking.
"He's not that-" Neal bit his lip, suppressing the feeling to need to defend Peter. He just played with his IV line instead.
"He's not that what? Not that into arresting you? Not that into arresting us?" Alex folded her arms and glared rather menacingly at Neal. He shrugged weakly, not really wanting to reply.
"Fine. Have it your own way. I'm leaving" Alex jerked the door open and slammed it behind her. Neal sighed and rubbed a hand over his face, he knew Alex would come back sooner or later. As Alex left in a huff, Peter slipped back into the room with folded arms and a scowl rather similar to Alex's.
"What was that all about?" he asked, rather suspiciously.
"Nothing. Said something cheeky and she got upset" Neal grinned impudently; doing his best to act like it was nothing.
"She an acquaintance?" Peter asked, a shadow of doubt still cast over his face.
"Nope. Never saw her before. But you gotta admit, she's gorgeous."
Peter rolled his eyes. Only Caffrey would say that.
"I mean it, that-"
"Neal" Peter gently cut the young conman off.
"What's up?" Neal asked, apprehensively noticing the worry on Peter's face.
"We really need to talk. About Adler. About the painting. About everything."
"Alright…what do you want to know?" Neal said slowly. He knew Peter was trying to coax the information out of him, rather than flat out interrogate him, but it wasn't really working. Especially since Neal had already caught onto it and, according to what Peter had said last time, they hadn't even gotten started.
"Tell me about the painting. Why you had it, where you were going, and who was going to get it."
Neal opened his mouth and Peter held up a hand and Neal snapped his mouth closed.
"And don't give me any of that crap about Adler's wife. The guy wasn't married."
Neal fiddled with the blankets and looked down at his lap. He looked up at the ceiling, at the floor, the door, in fact he looked everywhere except for Peter. And for the first time, Peter realized that Neal, the ever-sleek and immaculate conman was scared to admit the truth.
"It had something in it" Neal finally blurted out. Peter raised his eyebrows at this and waited for Neal to continue.
"An expensive diamond. It's supposed to be the twin of the Hope diamond. It's blue."
"But why did Adler want it so much? And for that matter, why does the entire world want it?" Peter asked.
"It's worth a lot."
Peter glared mutinously at Neal.
"I figured that much" he growled.
"It's supposed to be part of a larger thing. There's supposedly a great fortune in art, hidden somewhere that the diamond leads to." Neal sighed.
"And you were going to find it?" Peter pressed.
"No. The diamond wasn't in the painting" Neal looked up for the first time since he and Peter had started talking.
"So that's why you let it burn?"
"I didn't want to. It was a gorgeous piece." Neal fidgeted.
"Yeah. Well sometimes you can't judge a book by its cover" Peter stood up, "I'll see you in the morning kid. Try not to get into any trouble."
"Peter" Neal gave him a patronizing glare and held up his arm, a shiny handcuff attached to his slim wrist and the bedrail.
"I know you could pick it" Peter didn't even bother to look at Neal's smirking face and closed the door behind him, less loudly than Alex, but still powerfully enough to be classified as a "slam".
"Hon, I'm home!" Peter called out as he rubbed Satchmo's ears. Strangely enough, he was in a remarkably good mood. With everything that had happened in the past month, he was looking forward to a night of relaxing with his wife and dog.
"Hello" El kissed him and pulled back, smiling.
"What is it?" Peter asked, warily. He noted the fancy black dress and heels she was wearing and vaguely wondered if she had invited someone over. He hoped she hadn't.
"Satch, go show daddy." El bent down and stage-whispered this to the yellow lab that happily trotted off in the general direction of the kitchen.
Peter trailed behind his dog, El poking and prodding him every so often, just to keep him moving. He stopped when he saw the kitchen table. It was covered with a pearly white tablecloth and there were long tapered candles at either end, their flames flickering merrily. El's favorite porcelain had been laid out and there was a steaming plate of something in the middle of the table.
"Hon, what's this for?" he asked, completely surprised.
"Celebrate what? Did I forget your birthday or our anniversary?" he asked, suddenly worried.
"No, hon" El rolled her eyes, "your birthday."
Peter smiled, trust El to remember his birthday and surprise him. He took his seat and shook out the white linen napkin onto his lap. Across the table El smiled happily, the light reflecting off her silver jewelry. The meal was quiet and rather subdued until El asked him about work and Neal.
"So hon, when's Neal getting out of the hospital?" El asked.
"Tomorrow. Hughes is thinking about putting him in juvie."
"Well he was in possession of a stolen painting." Peter pointed out drily. He leaned back in his chair, arms folded, and dinner forgotten.
"How do you know he stole it?" El challenged.
"I have a confession."
"You interrogated him?" El asked, outraged.
"No. I didn't have to, he told me." Peter held up his phone, "And I recorded the whole thing."
"What are you going to do?" she asked softly.
"Give it to Hughes in the morning" Peter's reply was instantaneous.
"Hon…are you sure Neal deserves this?"
"El, he's a criminal. Of course I think he deserves it."
"I know, but…"
"But what?" Peter had a sinking feeling about where this conversation was going.
"I thought we could adopt him." El looked Peter straight in the eye.
"Hon, we already have a child" Peter protested and gestured to Satchmo.
"Peter. I want to adopt him." El's tone was firm.
"El we can't just-" Peter already knew he was fighting a losing battle.
"Peter, please. Do it for me, if not for Neal."
"Oh it's definitely not for Neal."
Moi- I just wanted to say a HUMONGOUS thank you to everyone who has read/reviewed/favorited/followed this story. It means so much to me! :) Just a heads up, there will be about 5 more chapters or so left for this story.