Log in

No account? Create an account

yesterday | tomorrow

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |

The video wasn't the best.

Peter stood, hip leaning against a chair as he stared at the flat screen while Jones brought up the traffic cams. Sitting made him want to pace, but Peter found standing only made him want to throw things as he watched the tiny, gray Accord stop in front of a red traffic light and Neal scramble out. Peter watched, jaw working, as Neal fell halfway out with the car door, head jerking back as an arm whipped out of the car and grabbed him by his throat.

Access to the traffic cams took longer than it should have. Peter knew if Neal or Mozzie know how many letters of the alphabet he had to go through before the DOT reluctantly gave up its feed, he would never hear the end of it. Luckily, Hughes made a few calls; "calls" being the diplomatic way of referring to the yelling and gesticulating Peter spied going on in his boss' office. But as he stood here, watching the feed, he wasn't feeling grateful for getting it.

"Geez," Jones uttered angrily to himself as he stared at the laptop. Keys clacked loudly and far too rapidly as Jones pounded his request to blow up the image into the system. The computer picked the unfortunate moment of Neal's head connecting with the glass to pause on. The image blurred into blocky pixels before enlarging once, twice, close enough, Peter had to step away from the chair before he really threw it.

"Anything on that reflection?" Peter asked gruffly. He pointed to the blurred spot on the door's glass, above the dark head slumped against it.

Jones replied with a couple of hard taps. The reflection stretched to fill the screen, sharpening.

"Bonelli," Jones confirmed.

"Can you get the front? We need to I.D. the driver. Bonelli's not giving us anything."

"Maybe. Traffic cams caught the vehicle coming and going." Jones scowled at the laptop. "No plates though. Plate's missing."

Great. Peter rubbed the back of his neck, but the knot there wouldn't go away. "They probably took them off because they knew about the cameras on West End."

Jones grunted. "Everybody knows about those cameras."

Peter squinted as the screen split into four images. He took another step closer. Smirking, he pointed to the bottom of the windshield.

"Looks like they forgot about their registration sticker though."

"I think I can get it," Jones declared. He bent over the laptop. Nothing was heard from him or the assisting tech, save the demented clicking of keys and the mouse.

After a few moments, Jones straightened.

"I can only get a partial number," he grumbled. "Running them through DMV to see if we ge—"

A new voice cut in. "Don't bother. I know whose car that is."

* * * * *

The right amount of pencils under an open door gives him a door stop.

The right amount of pencils under a shut door gives him two minutes.

Neal could hear four of them shouting as they tried to break in. Moz shoved another pencil under the connecting door and then pushed the armoire over to cover it. As soon as Neal heard the door in the other room finally give, he and Moz slipped out from the adjacent room.

The carpet muffled their running, but it didn't dampen the hard hollow sound of the emergency door shutting behind them. He snagged Moz by the sleeve. Moz gave him a curt nod. Talking was not necessary; they'd spent a good chunk of their careers running, although usually from disgruntled marks.

About six flights down, Moz halted, his shoulder butting up against Neal's because it felt like Neal's legs were still moving.

Down below, they could hear running, feet pounding up the stairs.

The fire door on the twenty-fourth floor rattled when Neal slapped a hand on the panic bar. As the door took its time closing behind them, he heard an explosion of feet ten floors above them as well. But only two. Neal eyed the elevators on either side of the corridor. Both were going down, both were nearing thirty.

"Neal." Moz grabbed him by the wrist before Neal walked into the corner that he thought was more to the left.

Before Neal could dwell on it, or on how his back felt like it was unraveling with each step, they were through the other emergency exit and down the stairs, just as Neal heard one of the elevators open.

On the seventeenth floor, they found a maid who thought she was letting in a couple of forgetful guests into room 1720. They waited inside the room until they heard their pursuers dart past and took the exit opposite.

On the eleventh floor, the elevators were both stopped, their emergency buttons pushed. Neal wondered what the hotel maintenance would think when they found cobalt blue and verdant green pencils jammed into the doors' tracks.

They were nearly caught on the ninth floor. Luckily, no one bothered to pick up the room service trays there. Neal wondered if the FBI would pay for the bullet hole on 903's door.

On the fifth floor, Neal nearly collided with Mozzie when he stopped by a maintenance closet. Moz picked the door easily and they both ducked inside.

The darkness contorted around him. Neal shut his eyes and gulped as he rested his forehead on the door. It felt like there was a thin wire between his temples, twisting tighter and tighter, pulling all his senses askew.

Peter. He needed to call Peter.

There was a floaty sensation, like déjà vu, as Neal fumbled out his phone, trusting his fingers to find the keys by memory because he didn't trust his eyes even if there was light in here. He really wanted to sit down. His left wrist felt like it was three times its size now.

"Don't call him."

His cell phone was snatched out of his hand. Neal stared toward where he knew Moz to be.

"Neal, whoever the leak is might have a trace on the Suit's phone."

"We can't stay here," Neal pointed out. "They somehow called off all of the protection detail." He opened the door a crack. He heard someone squawk in protest as people darted by down the hallway. Neal carefully shut the door again.

"We need to get to the list." Neal plucked the cell phone out of Moz's double grip.

"What?" Moz lowered his voice further. "Neal, they're looking for us right now because of that list."

Neal squinted. His vision refused to sharpen enough as his numbing fingers frantically tried to make out the keys.

"Neal, we can't risk call—"

"I'm not. Not really. But we're going to need the FBI there."

"Great Morello's ghost," Moz bemoaned. "I never thought I'll see the day we want Big Brother."

"Done," Neal announced as he sent the text message. Hopefully, Peter will understand. No, he will. Neal yanked out the battery and tossed both pieces of the phone into the laundry chute behind them. He wiggled his toes in his right foot. He didn't stop to wonder why the heavy weight of the anklet felt reassuring. And the thought of his next move was knotting his insides.

"I'm going to need a knife."

* * * * *

"Tracker number 9305A is still located at Two East Sixty-First Street."

Peter grumbled his thanks and ended the call. He eyed the file in his hands and the agent standing in front of him. "Why?"

Rook peeled his eyes away from the frozen image of Neal, half pulled back into the car.

"Last night…" Rook's shoulders lost its defensive hard line as he turned toward Peter. "In here."

Peter tensed. To his surprise though, Rook's expression didn't return to the previous smirk.

"Caffrey's one hell of a con," Rook sighed, "but there's no way he could have faked that." He returned his attention to the screen. "So it got me thinking."

"Finally," Jones muttered under his breath. He ducked his head after Peter gave him a look. If Rook heard him, he gave no sign.

"Checked bank statements, LUDs, everything. He was clean. Perfect. J. Edgar couldn't have been prouder by his poster child, but then I looked into his family, dug deeper." Rook shook his head. "Guess who bankrolled his college education?"

"Giraldi." Peter grimaced. The Mafioso's claws ran deep.

"Bastard must have been feeding Giraldi all this time." Rook thumped a fist on the table. "Giraldi's own little informant from the inside, right from the beginning."

Peter looked down at the file. It was no wonder Giraldi had slipped away so easily before. "Is he under orders or on his own this time?"

"Who the hell knows?" Rook snarled, unhappy at the reminder. "You got Caffrey stashed away so it's only a matter of time before you'll find out firsthand." He grunted. "You better have enough men covering Caffrey's ass over there. Giraldi's pull can buy a lot of Bonellis."

Before Peter could comment—Neal wasn't even where Rook thought he was— his cell phone chimed in. He fumbled it out, his throat working when he saw it was a text message from Neal. His eyes scanned it quickly. His chest seemed to squeeze in a sudden vise. He swore.

"Damn it, I think Neal's going after the list."

"You said Caffrey knew nothing about that list," Rook exploded, his sympathetic lapse gone.

"He didn't," Peter shot back as he punched the speed dial for Neal. He gnashed his teeth when Neal's cheeky voicemail replied cheerfully in his ear. "He must have figured out wherever it is. He was to stay put and…" He froze. And the bottom of his stomach dropped.

"Burke?" Rook glowered when Peter ignored him as he redialed the last number.

"US Tracking Monitor Com—" As always, they were quick to answer.

"Still," Peter snapped, not waiting for the operator to finish.


"When I called before, you said 'still located.' Did someone else called before me?" Peter shook his head at the silence on the other line. "This is Federal Agent Burke, badge number 53862. I need the time of the person who requested tracking information for tracker 9305A before the most recent call."

The operator was nonplussed by Peter's tone. "Location for tracker 9305A was requested seventeen minutes ago by Federal Agent—"

The call ended the same time Peter jerked his head toward Jones. To his credit, Jones didn't ask a single question. He dashed out of the conference room and headed straight for Hughes.

"What?" Rook demanded, hot on his heels as Peter took to the stairs two at a time.

Jones was already reading the other agents in. Some were nodding curtly, others were on their phones. There was a second when Rook stood at the top of the stairs, blinking at the sudden burst of activity.

"I alerted Barrigan," Jones said.

Peter was redialing his phone with one hand, the other trying to struggle out of his suit jacket. "Get NYPD to cordon off Lexington to Fifth Avenue. I want either side of that hotel covered. Damn it, why isn't he answering his phone?"

"Burke!" Rook growled, trying to recover his brief moment of immobility as he followed.

Peter impatiently waved him off, his face contorted as he punched Neal's number again, feeling like he's been through this too many times already.

"Damn it, Burke. What the he—"

"He knew Neal's real location," Peter grated out. He talked right over Rook's sputtering. "We only let out the location you knew about, but he pulled Neal's tracking data, used his badge and got his actual—damn it."

"Peter?" El emerged from the break area, her eyes questioning, Satchmo hugging close to her calf as he eyed the activity around them with interest.

Caught with one arm into his Kevlar, Peter froze. El stared at him as if she'd never seen him before. And she hadn't. Not this way, armored, weapon in hand. Peter always made sure she only saw her husband going out to work in his suit and tie; they were both happy to pretend he didn't also need to wear his gun and holster to work.

"El… "

El gripped the hand that wasn't holding the gun. Her eyes were overly bright, large and said everything she herself couldn't say. She gave him a tight nod.

"We'll be waiting here." El told him, her smile brittle.

Peter could only bring up a constrained smile of his own as he reached for her. Mindful of his team and Rook around him, he grazed fingers down her arm. He cleared his throat.

El simply nodded.

Peter opened his mouth, because he should say something anyway, to reassure her she was going to get her suit and tie husband back very soon. But Jones came into view.

"US Marshals just called," Jones reported. "Neal's tracker stopped transmitting."

"He got the list and now he's running," Rook cursed.

"Neal wouldn't do that," El argued. Others around them murmured in agreement.

Peter pulled out his cell phone and stared at Neal's text message again.

This time the invite's for real.

Peter grinned. "Jones, call Diana back. I know where Neal's going."

* * * * *

"That," Neal grumbled as he leaned heavily on a lamp post, "was not fun." He made a face as he looked around it toward their target. It was open despite the late hour.

"Everyone takes the subway," Moz scoffed. He struggled out of the reflective vest Neal borrowed from the construction site inside the short building they'd leapt onto from the hotel's third story balcony. Moz had insisted they needed hard hats in addition to complete the guise as MTA workers, but he balked at the suggestion of wearing someone else's tool belt.

"A taxi would have been just as fast."

"I can see the headlines now." Moz waved a palm across the sky. "Bystanders have throats slit while sitting in Midtown traffic." He set down the hard hat. "When in Rome."

"This is Manhattan." Neal hurriedly continued before Moz could verbally volley, "It's still open. We can go through the back service entrance."

"Do you see the federales?"

Neal checked up and down Hudson. The cobblestoned street was empty of any cars.

"No sign of Peter, but no sign of our friends, either."

"Your friends, maybe," Moz muttered darkly. He rubbed his palms briskly over his jacket to get them dry and flexible. "Okay, what's their system like?"

"Raynor Gold alarm, motion and temperature detection when they're closed." Rattling it off felt like a mantra. Neal could feel the churning in his stomach calming. "When they're open, everything's armed with pressure and heat sensitivity. Wires located on the backs." Neal frowned to himself. "Docks must have turned off its alarm that night," he murmured. He rubbed his fingers together.

Moz stepped in closer. His eyes darted across the street. "I can go in by myself," he suggested, subdued.

Neal shook his head. "Just give me a second to catch my breath, Moz."

It looked like Moz wanted to say something, but he changed his mind. "They could be right behind us," he reminded him quietly, but made no move to hurrying Neal either.

Another deep breath and Neal straightened from the lamp post. The walk sign above him clicked and hummed. It sounded like it was counting down to something no one told him about.

"Ready?" Moz stayed by Neal's elbow.

Neal focused on Blackman Galleries. It felt like he hasn't been here for a long time rather than the four days. He nodded in the direction of the service entrance.

The sign above him clicked as it switched to a green light and, like a starter's pistol, they darted quickly across the street.

* * * * *

She was still being neglected.

Neal could see her, tucked by the corner, no crowd of appreciative viewers, no lighting to cast the shadows away.

The caterers elbowed by, muttering as they maneuvered around Neal and Moz. They stood by the restroom on the pretense of waiting, hidden from public view.

"Is that it?"

Neal nodded, eyes glued to her, just out of reach. She was by no means safe though.


Something dropped over his head. Startled, Neal reached up. When his fingers felt the powdery crush of felt, he smiled.

"I wondered where it went," Neal murmured as he readjusted the fedora. He squared back his shoulders.

"Found it by the service door," Moz whispered out of the corner of his mouth. He made a show of checking his watch as a waiter paused, openly curious. "Must have been the cheese," he explained in a disgusted voice, thumbing toward the restroom. Neal grimaced.

The waiter made a face and moved on. Quickly.

The weight on his head felt reassuring. Neal reached up and ran two fingers along its brim, straightening out the dent he could feel. The taut line down his spine eased. Neal exhaled slowly.

"So what now?" Moz checked around. When he sighted the room he needed, he nodded slightly toward it.

"Remember the Loeb job?" Neal said without moving his mouth. He could sense Moz perking up. "Opposite of that thought," he added hastily and braced himself.

"What?" Moz lowered his voice when one of the servers shot them a look before she went out with more of the 2008 Monte Rose.

"I need a distraction," Neal murmured.

"For them or for me?" Moz groused.

"We're not stealing it." Neal smiled as another server drifted by. "Just stopping whoever it is from stealing it."

Moz grumbled. He sighed, his posture of the longsuffering martyr as he pulled out his chopsticks. At Neal's eyebrow, Moz brandished them at him before shaking his head and slipping away.

Neal watched as Moz easily melted into the lines of servers and guests looking for the restrooms and coat check. After counting to three, Neal politely excused himself as he squeezed past everyone. He didn't need to see where he was going, he knew where exactly she was, but he kept his eyes opened regardless. The partitions seemed closer than he remembered. And was it always this cold?

Lady by the Window hung, yet again with no bids, on the wall. She sat there, staring out a rainy window as mysterious as before. Her eyes were painted with a faraway look; the hand under her chin was pale, almost luminescent.

His chest ached. The temptation to sit down on the floor was overwhelming so he locked his knees. Just as well since he felt someone staring at the back of his head.

"Peter?" Neal whispered hopefully.


Neal spun around in time to see a tiny burst of light spark in the newcomer's hand. There was only a faint pop, lost among the chattering at the other side of the gallery and the auctioneer's booming voice.

A line of heat lanced over his head, close enough that the sudden heat jolted down to his limbs. Neal staggered a step. Almost immediately, he tasted blood trickling down the side of his face. He blinked the blurriness that sprang up to his eyes and focused on his attacker.

"Hello." Neal winced as blood dripped into his eye. "Agent Dunbar, was it?"

Dunbar no longer looked like a lost intern. His spare figure in the dark suit made him look more like a shadow.

"Well, Mr. Caffrey, you led us on a merry chase. Taking the subway, with all those innocent bystanders. My man almost lost your trail until I realized where you must be heading." The smile on Dunbar's face looked ghoulish. He tucked his arm close to his side as he gestured with his gun at Neal's head. "To show you I'm serious."

"Oh, I believed you the first time," Neal told him. He glanced around the gallery.

Dunbar tsked. "They call these silencers for a reason. Of course, if my men were to start shooting in here, it wouldn't really be silent, would it?"

"Your men?" Neal flinched as a trickle of blood crawled down his face. He could feel his entire body stiffening, as if he was trying to breathe under tight quarters again.

"Your men?" he repeated. "Or Giraldi's men?"

"Show me where the list is and they'll be my men," Dunbar answered, unperturbed.

"I guess that answered my question," Neal muttered. He eyed the partitions. Where was Peter?

Dunbar smirked, amused. "And what question is that?"

"On whom you're working for: Giraldi or yourself?"

The gun went higher as Dunbar drew closer.

Neal stepped back, his hands up. The gun poked him in the ribs.

"What do you think?" Dunbar hissed.

| next |

TV Quote of the Day

Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?

~ Gandalf "The Hobbit"

Latest Month

July 2015
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow