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Satchmo was a dog obsessed.

Peter observed his Lab limping over to Neal's desk, most likely guided by his nose. He walked slowly, mindful of the minor bruises the vet said Satchmo would easily recover from.

His tail hung low between his hind legs, Satchmo paused as yet another sympathetic (and female) agent snuck him treats. He would wag its tail briefly, as if it pained him, get another treat, maybe an "Aw," before he continued his apparent painful trek to Neal's desk.

The ham.

Satchmo sniffed Neal's chair, the carpet underneath it and circled the spot twice before curling under the desk. Only his tail was visible now, wagging whenever an agent peered over the desk to check on him and maybe offer a scratch or two behind his ears.

"You're going to have a hard time getting him out from under there."

Peter glanced over to Elizabeth on the other side of his desk. Somewhere between home and the animal hospital, El had lost her ponytail and a messy, tangled dark curtain draped down to her shoulders. She didn't have makeup on, she wore Peter's sweatshirt dug out from the bottom of his locker and she looked at him with half-mast eyes. But she was alive. And she never looked more beautiful.

Something swelled in his chest, but it shriveled when he remembered her scream, only one floor away, but it might as well have been miles. He tried so hard not to bring the worrisome part of his work home with him. Look how well that had turned out.

"If you want, I can get Jones to take you home and stay there with you," Peter heard himself saying. From El's expression though, it sounded half-hearted to her as well.

"You can put me up in a nice hotel room, too," El suggested, but the wan smile on her pale face contradicted her words. She wasn't going anywhere.

"El…"

"Are they the ones who hurt Neal?"

Peter glanced down at the file in his hands, Bonelli's bloodbath typed out in an unsympathetic timeline.

"Maybe. Part of them."

El made a face at the file but her expression softened when her gaze drifted to their photo Peter kept on his desk.

Peter reached for her hands. "El, I can't say anything more. Believe me, if I thought there was any danger, I never would have—I'm sorry."

"Don't be." El got up, walked around the desk and kissed him on the cheek. "Just be sure you get them."

"I will," Peter promised fervently. "They sent people to our home, used Neal like a…I'll get them, El."

Her eyes looked fathomless when she studied him. He was humbled by the fact there was no doubt in them, only trust. Peter's throat constricted. Two people trusted him to fix this.

"Promise me one more thing," El said suddenly.

"Anything."

El rewarded his immediate response with another silken brush of lips on his jaw. As she pulled away, she whispered into his ear, "You, me and Home Depot next Sunday."

Peter blanched. "Home Depot?"

"We have some home repairs to do."

"But on a Sunday?" Peter turned toward El. "Can't I just promise to catch the bad guys?"

Laughing, El captured his hand in a squeeze. She winked. "Honey, you always catch the bad guys," she told him and left his office.

Peter tracked her down the stairs to Neal's desk. Satchmo leapt to his feet (much too many agents' astonishment) and loped obediently to her into the break area. Peter shook his head ruefully, but when he returned his attention back to his desk, that loose, warm that infused his gut chilled considerably.

The files he had Jones quietly pull were lined up on his desk: Bonelli's records, the case against Giraldi and files on Rook. That last request left a bad taste in his mouth.

"Peter." Jones stood in Peter's doorway but didn't enter.

Peter sat up straighter, the files forgotten. "Rook's finished with Bonelli?"

Jones nodded.

"He say anything?" Peter set his jaw when Jones' head now swiveled left to right. "Damn it."

"Rook pretty much hounded Bonelli about Neal's involvement."

"Damn it," Peter grumbled. "What about the other guy?" He regretted shooting the last two now. Maybe.

Jones' expression mirrored what Peter knew was on his face. "Lawyered up. Rook got him in Interrogation, too, before Hughes could transfer him over." He looked short of kicking Peter's doorway. "Rook is claiming we can't investigate because it was first Organized Crimes' case."

"That was until they kidnapped one of our people," Peter said in a voice that really wasn't fair to Jones.

The expression on Jones' face shifted. "Rook filed a complaint with OPR. Said we shouldn't be involved anyway since Neal is one of their prime suspects. Gomez heard he was petitioning a judge to transfer Neal into their protective custody."

Because they did such a great job last time.

Peter scowled. "Rook's been chasing his own tail since the beginning. The case is going nowhere if Rook stays fixated on Neal."

His eyes drifted to Rook's folder.

"Unless that's what he wants," Peter muttered.

"What?" Jones checked behind his shoulder to see who Peter might be talking to.

"Nothing." Peter tapped Rook's file on the desk. His jaw worked as he considered it. His mind was made up when Satchmo returned to Neal's desk with El. The dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on Neal's desk and stared woefully at a mug filled with pens.

Peter tucked the Rook file into a desk drawer.

Damn it, Neal. I hope you're wrong about this.

"Jones, where's Bonelli now?"

* * * * *


"Well?"

"Nothing." Something kicked his legs, nudging them out of the way. He could feel himself moving but not of his own accord. Large hands slipped under his back and rolled him to the side.

"You're an idiot, you know that? World class idiot. Told you grabbing that knife was a lousy idea. How're we supposed to find it now? Hold a fuckin' séance?"

He was dropped down on something that bounced. He frowned to himself, or at least he thought he did.

"We could ask him. He had the bright idea. Maybe he knows where Docks hid it."

"Yeah, call him. Go ahead. He's going to get so pissed. His suit might wrinkle."

Twin sneering barks burned his left ear.

"Boss isn't going to like this either."

"Hey, he could fix it. Boss is paying him more than Uncle Sam ever has. He should get his money's worth."

The tiny musical tones of a phone followed. Talking that was too fast for him to follow. There was a voice inside of him that said to move. His left knee shifted.

The surface he was on gave underneath. He could feel hands on his collar, his tie tugged loosed around it. A hand drifted to his trousers and yanked hard, hard enough his hips jerked up. He tried to move his hands; move anything but he was pinned by an invisible weight. He could feel cool fingers slipping inside his collar and wrapping around his throat.

The solid warmth of someone straddling him was not a sensation he thought should be there. He fidgeted.

"Sorry, Caffrey," a voice said, coarse, like rolling over rocks. "Nothing personal. Gotta make it look good."

Before he could try to form a question, the hands around his throat began to squeeze.


It took a few seconds before Neal realized the binding around his legs was only a blanket.

It took a few breaths before he remembered where he was. Another to remember that this time, it was of his own choosing.

Neal pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes. When he could easily feel his lungs expanding and throat contracting, Neal lowered his hands. He scrubbed one eye and focused.

It couldn't have been long; the sun was only now saying farewell. The random pattern of skyscrapers piercing the horizon reminded him of van Gogh's Willows at Sunset. Neal gave the view just a fleeting glance though. Today, it looked too much like blood for his comfort.

Past the couch, eyes still focused on the leather bound volume cradled in his hands, Mozzie muttered, "I've determined The Federalist is encrypted."

Neal squinted one-eyed at Mozzie in the armchair. "Let me guess. Treasure?"

"Hamilton was a freemason," Mozzie reminded him.

Neal closed his eyes and let his head dropped back on the armrest. His left arm felt overheated by the pillow someone had tucked under his bandaged wrist.

"Suit left you a note," Moz added, almost begrudgingly.

Neal turned his head and blinked at the bundle of colored pencils, bound together by a rubber band with a Post-it topping it. He sat up carefully. The room gave an obligatory spin but settled quickly. Neal counted it as a victory. He pulled the yellow square off.

Diana said you might want these. P

Neal grinned. He could almost hear Peter's question in the simple line. If anyone can convey suspicion, disapproval and curiosity in ten words or less, it would be Peter Burke. He tested the weight of the bundle in his hands. They were the good pencils, too—artist grade, sharpened to gleaming, vibrant spears.

"I suppose that's code for something?" Mozzie grumbled as he scowled into his book.

"Maybe," Neal said. He eyed the paintings on the wall. The long rectangle one was an interesting shape. He rose to his feet, waited before taking another step. He shook his leg briefly to straighten out his trouser cuff. A Devore wasn't made to be napped in. The move nearly threw him off balance though.

"What are you doing?"

Neal made his way carefully to the selected wall. "Going to make use of the pencils."

"By committing vandalism?" Mozzie grunted. "That's a little puerile, don't you think?" He sat up, watching Neal anyway as Neal ran his fingers under the frame for an opening.

"Harmless distraction." Neal tapped the matte surface. "What do you think?" He nodded toward the space. "A little Hals? Bondone?"

"Bondone?"

"He started out in frescoes; thought it would be apt." Neal shrugged as he tightened his fingers on the frame. He cringed and cradled his left.

"Need help?"

"I got it." Neal flexed his left hand and tentatively rotated it. The tightness eased and he could feel his fingers again.

"You sure? I don't think you're supposed to use your left ha—"

"I got it," Neal repeated. He grimaced at the silence that hung between them now. He forced himself to uncurl his left hand and latched them onto the frame. It wouldn't budge. He didn't see any point in anchoring a print so securely to the wall. He checked again. No, still worthless.

"How about Delacroix?" Moz quietly suggested after a few seconds.

The Death of Sardanapal, The Massacre at Chios, The Natchez...

Neal made a face. He checked over his shoulder at Moz, one eyebrow arched. "A little dark, isn't he?"

Moz's shoulders went up a fraction. "Feels apt." He looked meaningfully at Neal.

Rolling his eyes, Neal turned back to the wall. He pulled at the frame, tugged harder—did they solder them into the walls?—Neal found himself panting by the time he realized he was only jamming it deeper into its hook. He could feel Moz's stare at the back of his head. He didn't look over. He rested his head on the stubborn print, hands curled on either side of it, the floor seesawing under him like it was on rollers.

There was a loud cough as Moz got up. A beat later, Neal heard the sucking pop of the mini fridge opening.

"Beluga," Moz muttered, darkly.

Neal smiled wearily to himself. He closed his eyes briefly. When the cramping of his fingers registered, he took a steadying breath and straightened. He lifted the frame up and out. He colored at how easily it came away from the wall. He set it down and rubbed his fingers together. He made a face at the sticky dark smudges that coated the tips. They needed to clean behind them.

Neal pulled his hand away and stared at his fingers. He gave them another rub.

"Neal?"

"I think," Neal began. He raised his fingers for show. "I know where that list is."

* * * * *


"I'm suing."

Bonelli followed Peter with his eyes and a scowl as the agent circled the table. The large man made a show of inspecting his nails despite his handcuffs. He winced, showing more pain than warranted for the graze on his bicep.

Peter had made very sure he was left as a witness.

"Taking me out early from the hospital," Bonelli griped. "Isn't there something about cruel treatment of prisoners?"

Peter ignored him as he continued his orbit.

"Hey, I'm dying here."

"I'll get you an aspirin," Peter muttered. He stopped in front of Bonelli, his arms folded.

"You know, I've seen this rerun." Bonelli smoothed a palm over his black t-shirt as if it was a five hundred dollar suit. "You got me for breaking and entering. Can't charge me twice for it. I only went into one house, fed." He smirked as he watched Peter tapping a knuckle on a folder.

"You yuppy feds wanna charge me for writing a bad check, too?"

Peter leaned toward Bonelli. His voice dropped to a whisper. "Giraldi sent you to my house to find out where Caffrey has the list, didn't he?"

Bored eyes drifted up to Peter. "List? I went in there for your stereo and your television."

"A four man team with Sig Sauers? For a home invasion?"

Bonelli gave a shrug that went up to his ears. "What can I say? Times are tough. Don't you read the papers? We're in a recession." He languidly rubbed a finger under his nose. He smirked. "I don't know anything about a list."

"Or," Peter circled the table again, "maybe you got the list, but thought to keep it for yourself. You went along with everyone else thinking Caffrey has it."

"You cook up a good story," Bonelli snorted. "Maybe you can write a book. Be famous or something."

Peter waved a hand lazily by his ear. "Nah. But I could make you famous." He leaned back on the two-way mirror, his arms folded in front, still smiling. He could see it unnerved Bonelli.

"Maybe we'll make you our star witness."

Bonelli barked out a laugh. "I'm not testifying."

"Giraldi doesn't know that. I wouldn't be surprised if Giraldi has his eye on things. Put you in the roster for the grand jury. Giraldi sees your name, Docks is dead, no list." Peter's mouth pulled at the corners. "Don't need an accountant to put those three together."

Bonelli's flinty eyes stayed on Peter's face, but after a beat, he grunted and looked away.

"Giraldi knows I won't testify. He ain't stupid," he drawled.

No, but I was hoping you were, damn it, Peter thought. He stayed where he was though, thinking quickly as he stood over Bonelli.

"You sound pretty sure."

Bonelli shrugged one shoulder. "Giraldi doesn't hire fools. He pays well."

"Must not be well enough since Docks was willing to flip Giraldi."

Pointedly, Bonelli looked past Peter's ear.

Peter's jaw ached from holding back the scowl that wanted to form. It was no wonder Rook was willing to let Peter have a go at Bonelli. The man wasn't budging.

"Giraldi must have thought he was being clever, having Docks killed and letting Caffrey take the fall. No one would be the wiser because, hey, it was Docks." Peter felt a bad taste in the back of his throat as he went on. "He was a sadist pervert. No one would have been surprised. We wouldn't even blame Caffrey for it."

"Docks was a sick son of a bitch. Maybe your boy did do it." Bonelli glanced sideways toward Peter, the corner of his mouth pulled up in a leer Peter wanted to smack off.

"Your boy shouldn't've been leading him on like that." Bonelli half-snorted, half-snickered. "Least Docks went out happy, I guess."

"You didn't hear?" Peter said, innocently.

Bonelli narrowed his gaze at him.

"Agent Rook must have forgotten to mention. Caffrey didn't do it." The AFIS printout unfurled easily from his pocket. Peter slapped it on the table.

"You thought you'd find out where that list was and leave Neal with the murder rap. Only Docks wouldn't give it up, would he?" He observed Bonelli's gaze never wavered. "You don't look like the patient type. I bet you killed him before you could find the list. We can put you and your buddy on the scene."

Bonelli didn't twitch. He even smiled patronizingly up at Peter. "With a fingerprint? That's pretty desperate."

"As desperate as Giraldi's going to be when he hears you're testifying in order to cop-out of a murder one charge?"

Bonelli stared up at him with a bland expression. "He knows I'm not testifying."

"You're putting a lot of faith in your boss," Peter remarked. "I doubt Giraldi would return the favor."

Bonelli sniffed, scratched his nose and proceeded to pick at invisible dirt in his fingernails. "Giraldi knows I ain't ever testifying."

"You sound sure about that." Peter canted his head. "No, actually, you are sure Giraldi will know you won't testify. Now why is that?"

Bonelli folded his thick gorilla arms across his chest and said nothing.

But it was enough.

Neal was right, Peter thought, his stomach sinking. "Giraldi has someone here on his payroll. He'll know if you're testifying or not."

A twitch…at the corner of his eye.

Peter retrieved the file and stared at the top of Bonelli's head. There was an urge to kick his chair out from under him.

"You've been a great help," Peter drawled. As he reached for the door, he added, "I'll be sure everybody knows that."

The flinch Bonelli couldn't hide felt darkly satisfying.

* * * * *


"I hate to admit it, but I'm with the Suit on this one," Moz declared.

Moz looked as happy as he had been about the music box job with Alex. "Giraldi thinking you have the list is bad enough. Now you want to have it for real?"

Neal beamed. "Exactly. Everyone already assumes it. Why not?"

"This is exactly why people fall for psychics. That self-fulfilling prophesy con could only spell doom."

Neal's grin faded into a glare. "Thank you for your support, Moz."

"I said I'll help you figure out where that list was, but I said nothing about getting it or painting a bull's-eye on you."

Neal pinched the bridge of his nose. Going from the wall to the couch and already his body was screaming for a nap. "Mozzie…" he said wearily.

Moz was unmoved. "Why can't you just tell the Suit? Full disclosure, he'll like that."

"There's a leak somewhere in the FBI." Neal smothered the thin edge he could feel creeping up in his voice. It didn't look like it worked when Moz held up his palms.

"While I approve your concurrence on the corruption of big government and its agents of complacency, I think we should let him know where the list is." Moz squirmed. He levered off the armchair and wandered to the window. He peeked out, his head swiveling left and right. "Send him a code. The Suit will get that. That's what they're trained for in Quantico."

Neal rolled his eyes. "Peter's FBI, not CIA."

"You say potato. I say—" Moz stopped. He leaned closer into the glass.

"What is it?"

"The van's gone." Moz closed the drapes.

Neal struggled out of the couch, his limbs sluggishly obeyed. "Are you sure?"

"Neal, it's the most conspicuous inconspicuous van in all of Manhattan." Moz's arms waved up and down like he was flagging down an airplane. "Of course I'm sure!"

Staggering to the door, Neal peered through the peephole before he cautiously opened the door.

"What are you doing?"

One hand up to halt Moz's words, Neal glanced down to the end of the hallway. In the distance, he could hear an elevator's faint ding.

His chest squeezed. Neal shut the door. He called for Moz over his shoulder, but Moz was already ducking into the bedroom. He could hear him fiddling with the connecting door to the next suite.

"Moz, it'll be locked from the other—"

The other door clicked and swung open.

"Remind me to teach you that one, grasshopper," Moz said as he came back and grabbed Neal by the elbow. "Come on."

Neal started for the bedroom. Several footsteps walking in tandem, heavy and loud despite the carpet, approached the room. He halted when he spotted the pencils.

"Let's go." Moz's tug nearly unbalanced him.

Neal looked at the door and grabbed the pencils.

"I got an idea."



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