Neal was on his way back from the nearest coffee cart; even coffee cart beans were better than the sludge the FBI came up with; he exited the elevator on Peter's floor, nimbly dodging the FBI clones without dropping the four cups of coffee in his grasp. Entering through the glass doors, he came to a stop when he realised there was someone new in Peter's office. He could only see the back of her; long wavy brunette hair down to the small of her back, smart office wear – not off the rack and killer heals that were swinging as she perched on Peter's desk looking out over the city.
"Who's that?" he asked Jones as the agent was attempting to free a coffee cup from his grasp.
"Her?" Jones nodded up at the woman, "no idea. She wandered in five minutes ago and said she'd wait in Peter's office."
"She said 'Peter'?" Neal asked, with a quirk of his brow.
"Yep," answered Jones, taking a sip of the coffee and pulling a face, "at least it's better than the stuff out of the pot."
Neal climbed the stairs to the conference room next to Peter's office and handed over the second cup to Diana. He took his own and left the fourth on the table for Peter.
"So, Jones doesn't know her, do you?" he asked Diana.
"Yes, she's got credentials," Diana answered, shuffling through the files on their most recent case.
"She's a fed? In those heels?" Neal said incredulously.
"She's from a group you won't have heard of," Diana answered as Peter sauntered through the glass doors below.
The entire office watched as he crossed the floor and climbed the stairs to his office, he turned, raised his brow at them all and shut the door behind him giving a false sense of privacy.
All that could be heard for the next few minutes was the low murmur of conversation. The rest of the office quietly drifted back to work leaving only Neal actively paying attention. From where he was sat at the conference room table he couldn't see either Peter or the woman, but he kept his eyes on the office for any signs of movement.
Finally Peter appeared in the doorway between his office and the conference room, the woman in full view behind him. Neal had to try very hard to keep his cool and not react; at the most Peter would be thinking he was finally noticing someone female since Kate, which was so very far from the truth it was laughable.
The woman winked at him as they all stood to great her; something that would have been lost on the others if they hadn't been in room of fully trained FBI agents.
"This is Dr Dawn Summers, she is part of NSC and we will be joining her on one of their merry goose chases today," Peter said clearly unimpressed with the apparent change in chain of command, "Summers, you've met Diana on our last case and Jones on your way in. This is my CI, Neal Caffrey."
Summers smiled at Diana, nodded at Jones and then smirked, "Hey, Uncle Neal."
So, that was how she wanted to play it, at least part way out in the open. He was stepping back into the shoes of Neal Caffrey, Joyce Summers' little brother.
"Dawnie," he grinned, ignoring Peter's sudden floundering, "no big sis back up today?"
"Nope," she rolled her eyes, "they do let me out on my own every so often."
"Since when?" Neal asked. As far as he knew there was always someone with his niece, always.
"Since Uncle Neal would be here to make sure I'm safe," she said in a whiny teenage voice.
"Uncle Neal?" Peter spluttered in the silence that followed her repetition.
"He didn't actually spring full formed from a pod," Dawn answered. Pulling case files from her briefcase and handing one each to all three feds and Neal, appearing to absently tap the corner of Neal's as it landed on the tabletop. Neal opened it an angle away from the others, understanding that his copy may have information not available to the others.
"Now, for those of you who haven't played with us before and those of you named Uncle Neal, the rules. These aren't the Rules with a capital 'R', although you will find a copy of those in the back of the file. Number One – I'm the boss, not Peter," she began, counting off on the fingers of her right hand, "Number Two – those files only leave this room the way they came into it; Number Three – no matter how stupid an order sounds, you do it. Is everybody clear?"
Neal nodded then studied his niece waiting for everyone else to agree. She'd changed in the last four years, grown her hair a couple of inches, finished her doctorate, worked on the attitude some more. He grinned; both his nieces had picked some version of the Caffrey charm over the years.
"The photo at the front of the file shows the piece we're looking for," Dawn began after Jones nodded, "one of the jade sanzaru, specifically kikazaru, from the Japanese collection of the British Royal family."
"We're looking for a 'hear no evil' monkey?" Peter asked, disbelief clear on his face.
"Did you miss the words 'jade' and 'British Royal family'?" Neal asked.
Sighing Peter asked, "How much is it worth?"
Turning a page in her file and indicating the others should do so as well Dawn answered, "A lot, but monetary value is not the issue. Returning it to complete the set is."
Neal tuned out of the rest of Dawn's little history lesson for the FBI and commentary on Japanese jade being the issue again and read the file quietly. Catching the parts of the file that showed the real reason the NSC wanted the kikazaru; somehow the set had been imbued literally with the power to see no, hear no and speak no evil. The disappearance of part of the set had disturbed the balance and had at some unfortunate points disrupted the hearing of several slayers. The location of the piece had been narrowed down to New York, thus Dawn's transatlantic trip to visit her uncle.
"So why come to us, Summers? It's perfectly clear you could do this all by yourselves," Peter grumbled when Dawn had finished her briefing.
Dawn hadn't yet managed the art of not blushing in embarrassment; she sighed and then got up to pace the length of the windows, "you remember last time?"
"Yes," Peter answered in his get to the point voice.
"How many people came from the NSC?" Dawn said, a frown crossing her face.
"You and two others," Diana answered, "Kennedy and Vi."
"Right, only they're busy in London and the boss is at Langley and Xander's still in Kenya and-" Dawn continued until Peter had had enough.
"Summers! The point? Please," he asked his plea softening his harsh tone.
"Neal," was her answer.
"You're kidding me?" Neal blurted out, "Buffy-"
"Is at Langley," Dawn said, looking away suddenly.
"You're here asking us because Neal Caffrey is trusted to make sure you're safe?" Jones asked, trying not to laugh.
Jones was suddenly on the receiving end of a full force Dawn Summers 'you're going to wake up on fire' glare, "the only reason my
sister and I still use the Summers name rather than Caffrey is because Uncle Neal felt it would be safer."
Remembering that conversation Neal smiled, the look on Buffy's face had been priceless – until he had explained that there were enough bad guys in the world on their tails that they didn't need his bad deeds catching up to them as well. Then she'd brought up him teaching Dawnie a few skills over the years and, let's say the argument had lasted a while but at least the girls had kept the slightly more innocuous surname of Summers.
"Basically, last time went well and Neal's here," Dawn said to fill the silence.
"I'd hate to see what you call 'badly' if that fiasco was 'well', Summers," Peter said, letting the topic lie.
Several hours, four cups of coffee and reams of print outs later Peter stretched out his arms above his head and stood, "Ok, people," he said, "El's expecting me in half an hour, you all have homes to go to, I assume."
Jones and Diana both heaved sighs of relief and left to grab their belonging from their desks and go. Neal looked over the table at his niece about to speak.
"Dinner?" she asked, beating him to it, "we can grab some Thai on the way to yours and feed it to Moz when we get there."
"She knows Haversham?" Peter shouted from his office where he too was grabbing his things.
"Of course", was the answer Neal gave to both as he threw his hat on and threw out an arm for Dawn to slip her arm through.
"Good night, Peter," he called and Dawn echoed as they headed towards the elevators.
They caught a cab, phoning in their order before leaving the federal building, and collected their order on their way back to June's. They were unable to slip in the back way as June had been waiting up to see Dawn who'd dropped her things off earlier.
"Now, Dawn," she began, "you remember to come back down when you're ready for bed. I had the maid set up a guest room for you."
"Thank you again, June," Dawn said, hugging the older woman, "the floor would be no fun."
"Anything for a relation of Neal's," was June's answer.
"I wouldn't say that if I were you," Neal said, tugging on Dawn's arm to pull her towards his room.
"Oh?" June said, arching a perfectly teased brow.
"Her sister will eat you out of house and home," he grinned.
"She would," Dawn laughed and they headed upstairs.
Neal barely had his door open when Dawn was flinging herself into the room and squealing, "Mozzie!"
"Dawn," Mozzie coughed as he gently hugged the girl, "you've, uh, grown."
"So," Dawn said as she pulled out crockery and cutlery from Neal's cupboards and set the table, "tell me everything."
"Everything?" Neal asked.
"Not you," Dawn rolled her eyes and pointed at Mozzie with a fork, "him."
"Everything?" Mozzie asked, "You know I couldn't do that Dawn."
"Sit, eat," Dawn rolled her eyes again, "tell me all that isn't too classified for me to know."
An hour later the food was all gone and Dawn now had a lot more ammunition against her Uncle should she need it, but thankfully Moz had left out some of the more embarrassing stories and huge chunks of the Kate saga.
"Ok," Dawn said, rubbing her stomach, "time for bed for me, tomorrow's going to be a busy day."
"Night Dawnie," both men said as she hugged them both and left to find her guest room.
"How come she gets a guest room?" Mozzie moaned.
"Caffrey charm?" Neal grinned and ducked the napkin Moz threw at him.
"Any luck on the Kate front?" Neal asked as soon as he heard doors shutting downstairs.
"I haven't traced the call yet, but I'm working on it," Mozzie answered.
"Found it!" Dawn shouted, jumping up from her spot below the conference room windows the next morning, dragging Neal up with her and forcing him into a joint Snoopy Dance as the rest looked on bemused smiles on their faces as the usually immaculate Caffrey jumped around like a lunatic with his niece.
"Ok," Peter said with laughter evident in his voice, "what did you find?"
"Oh," Dawn blushed, "sorry, research party rules. I found the kikazaru."
"Great, let's go get it," Neal said, heading for the door.
"Hold your horses, mister," Dawn called out, halting his process across the floor, "No such luck. I said I found it. I didn't say it would be an easy pick up."
Everyone fell into their places around the table waiting for Dawn to explain.
"Ok-" Dawn said about to begin, only to be stopped by her cell phone ringing, "one second."
"Hi Buffy," she said into the phone, "Yes, I'm in a federal building two feet from Uncle Neal and Peter Burke. Uh huh. Uh huh. Fine."
"For you," she said, passing her cell to Neal.
"Buffy?" he said.
"Hi, Uncle Neal. You'll keep her safe, right? I don't need to bring out any violent and non-vague threats, do I?"
"She's fine," he answered, smiling at her fierce protectiveness, "just caught our first break in the case too."
"Did she make you Snoopy Dance?"
"To my eternal shame, yes, yes she did," he answered groaning as she laughed at him.
"Let me know the minute you need back up of the proper kind, ok? Rona's in Princeton dealing with a Miquot problem."
"The one's with the Mohicans?" Neal asked, running through various demons in his head.
"Yeah, and the organic blades."
"Great," he said, "I'll call if we need anything, but I'm pretty sure we can handle this."
"Ok, keep safe."
"You too," he managed before she hung up.
Handing the phone back to Dawn he ran a hand through his hair, "so now I've been sufficiently threatened by one of the most powerful women on the planet, whilst being told to keep safe at the same time, what was the problem, again?"
"It's in a safety deposit box owned by a particularly nasty guy in a pretty highly secure bank," she said and then followed up with, "and this is one of those stupid sounding orders: we need to steal it."
Everyone looked to Neal, and then back at Dawn. Neal could see the thought running around their heads, just how much Caffrey is there to Dawn Summers?
"Oh, it's not illegal," Dawn said at their looks.
"I'm pretty sure it is, Summers," Peter countered.
"Well, it'd be illegal if you guys did it, not so much for NCS," she sighed as their faces grew more surprised, "in certain cases we have a license from most world governments, including the US, to do what we need to keep everything running smoothly."
"And just how does stealing a jade monkey keep the world ticking?" Peter asked.
"You know I can't answer that, Peter," Dawn said with a sigh, Neal got the feeling that on her previous visit to New York and to Peter Burke's team this was a conversation they'd had many times. Peter Burke was not a man who let things go.
"So, the problem is stealing the monkey out of safety deposit box in a bank?" Jones asked.
"You do know what your Uncle does, right?" Diana asked.
"He's working off his debts to society by helping out the good folk at the FBI," Dawn answered, in a ditzy voice, then sobered, "I know what he did and does. But he can only get us so far on this one."
"What do we need?" Peter asked.
"Willow's not available so we'll have to make do with me," was the only answer she gave.
It was nine at night and the sun was in the last throws of the day. Dawn Summers and Neal Caffrey sat side by side in matching dark outfits in the FBI surveillance van. The van was parked with a view of the New York branch of the little known, but international, Tarakan Bank. The bank was known for its extreme measures in security and absolute secrecy when it came to its clientele. In the demon world it was known as the monetary arm of the assassins, formed around the same time as the main group as a way of securing the funds gained in their line of work.
"We have a view of every entrance to the building," Peter said, running through some last minute detail, "there are agents all along the front and back sidewalks. But, once you're in there you're on your own. We've never been able to get anything on the Tarakans, and that's not what we're here for-"
"But, if there's anything…" Neal trailed off and grinned at Peter's answering nod.
"You know your entrance and all possible exits?" Peter asked for the third time since they'd entered the van.
"Yes," Dawn said, "we're using the hole in the basement wall and entering from the building next door. There are five possible exits ranking from the most workable to the idiotic."
"Ok, people, look sharp," was all Peter said as they left the van.
They crossed the street at the far end and made their way slowly, like a couple taking an evening stroll, along the sidewalk. After they passed the bank they walked into the building next door, a hotel, and made their way to the basement quickly.
They looked through the hole in the wall. It was barely large enough for Neal to crawl through, but he would manage it.
"Ready?" he asked, readying himself to go through the hole.
"Hold it," she said, stopping him in his tracks. He watched her root around on her belt and pull out a small vial with a blue liquid shimmering inside, "just got one little security measure to bypass."
She pulled the stopper from the vial and Neal had to breathe through his mouth suddenly at the smell of rotten vegetables. She threw the contents at the hole in the wall and they watched as it shimmered red and then green.
"We're good," Dawn said, crawling through the hole and waving Neal through.
"Did it need to smell so bad?" he asked, following her through, careful not to knock any more bricks out of the hole.
Dawn just laughed and waited for him to right himself.
"Right, left and two flights?" Neal checked, even though he remembered the directions perfectly.
"Yep," Dawn answered and she followed him through the basement in silence. They paused at the stairs checking that their intel from Dawn's visit to a local snitch that afternoon was correct. It was; the guard stationed to their left was too busy watching a basketball game to notice as they moved quickly upwards.
At the top of the stairs they waited as a pair of vampire guards in game face mode patrolled the corridor above before moving another flight up. Once the guards were gone Dawn conjured up a spotlight, a modified find me spell, to glow ahead of them. They counted off doors until they found the room they were looking for. It wasn't covered by a guard on the mistaken belief that if anyone got past the perimeter wards they wouldn't get past the guards. The door used a similar locking system to hotels that used keycards, so Neal only needed a minute with a gadget and they were in.
"Which box?" Neal asked.
"Two seconds," Dawn said as she pulled something from her jacket pocket, "There."
She threw a fine powder into the air in front of the wall of boxes and chanted in a low voice in a language Neal didn't recognise. Neal watched in awe as the powder coalesced into a more precise grouping and flew towards a box. He hadn't realized he niece would be performing magic beyond the sort of stuff that was pre-prepared by Willow or another NSC affiliated witch.
He continued to watch as she moved in front of the box; eyes closed and held her hands out, palms up as though she was holding an open book. She began chanting again; this time Neal could feel the power rise as an unseen wind began to ruffle her hair. All of a sudden the feeling was gone and the monkey was lying across her palms.
"Woo," was all the sound she made as she opened her eyes and turned to look at him, relief clear in her eyes. He pulled the carved wooden box she'd given him to carry earlier of his shoulder bag and held it out, open, as she placed the monkey inside. He closed the box and returned it to his bag.
"Ready?" he asked, worry bled through into his voice. Just how powerful was his niece? And how much had that taken out of her?
She shook her hair out and took a breath, "ready. We should go. One of them might have felt that."
They couldn't take the same way out as the route they'd already used. In the time it had taken them the basketball match would have finished. Their plan was the roofs exit another two floors up, past the pair of guards that had been above them earlier.
As far as the FBI knew the plan at this point was a combination of Caffrey sneak tactics and pure luck. In reality the plan now was more likely to evolve into stake and run; Neal feeling relieved that he'd paid attention and done well in the training classes offered to family members of slayers and other NSC personnel.
They had climbed the two flights of stairs as Neal mentally prepared for his first NSC sanctioned vampire fight. Buffy would have a fit if she knew that he'd had to stake and run on more than one occasion since his first release from prison.
They were face to face with the two guards. Dawn had a stake in her hand and was walking forward.
"Hi," she said.
"Hi?" Neal asked, "That's what you say? Did you fail your sister's class on punning whilst slaying?"
"I figured I'd try the scare the crap out of the enemy by letting them figure out who you are lesson this time," Dawn said as the two vampires, brighter than your average Sunnydale vamp had been, began to edge away.
"Oh, I liked that one," he answered, "but just in case they haven't figured it out. She's Buffy Summers' sister, Dawn and I'm Neal Caffrey, their Uncle."
As he finished Dawn pounced the vampire closest to her and staked him, his shock stopping any reaction he might have had to her movement. As she staked him Neal moved in on the other vampire who'd had time to get over his shock and was grinning.
"How much of New York would be mine if I took out you two idiots?" he asked, stalking towards them.
"You wouldn't have more than three people under you before an army descended," Dawn answered surety in her answer showing on her face.
"But you wouldn't be here to see it," the vampire gloated as he lunged for Dawn. She jumped backwards letting Neal lean in with his stake and catch the vampire mid lean.
"Well," Neal said, "that was a little too ea-"
"Ah!" Dawn shouted, putting a hand over his mouth, "don't jinx it."
"Sorry," he muttered as they headed for the end of the corridor and the roof access.
Once they got to the roof Dawn looked out over the street below and spotted something she'd rather the FBI didn't see. She pulled out her cell and dialled Peter.
"Summers. Are you on the roof?" Peter asked as soon as the line connected.
"Almost," she answered, "but you need to get all your teams out now."
"What?" Peter roared, "Are you kidding me?"
"No, Peter, you know the rules. You can bitch me out later," and then she slammed her cell shut with a wince.
"Dawn," Neal said, "why did we just get rid of half of our escape route?"
"Because there's a bunch of funky looking demons at the other end of the block and too many FBI agents to pass it off as some drug induced hallucination," she answered as she headed across the roof to the emergency ladders. Another security measure overlooked by the bank who thought vampires were generally enough of a deterrent.
"Would the funky looking demons be coming after us?" Neal asked as he began to follow her down the ladders.
"Probably," Dawn answered as she hit the ground below him.
"Probably? A couple of vamps we can handle, a bunch of demons, probably not," he worried.
"The other reason we needed to get rid of the feds," Dawn answered as she held her right fist in the air as the demons came round the corner of the building. The demons laughed at them and started betting on which of them would scream for mercy first.
The laughter stopped abruptly as Dawn opened her fist to reveal the purple stone in her hand.
"I see you know what this is," she spoke clearly, "you will know then, what happens if I drop it?"
Not a demon moved.
"I'm waiting for an answer," Dawn continued letting her arm waver, "or my arm might just get tired."
"Geez, lady," a puce coloured demon with violent eyes said, "no monkey's that important!"
"Good," Dawn said, "and I'll put my arm down when I'm sure you're all gone."
Neal and Dawn watched as the demons moved almost as one away from them and began breaking off the group in ones and twos further down the block.
Three minutes later Dawn put her arm down and Neal hailed them a cab. After giving the address of the federal building Neal turned to Dawn, "what was that thing?"
"This?" she asked, holding out her hand, "plastic bead from a bead shop back in the UK."
"What did they think it was?" he asked thinking what Buffy would say about Dawn pulling off even the smallest of cons.
"A device the NSC is known to have that would have made reproduction very difficult for every one of them in a two mile radius," she grinned, "we would never use it, too many balance issues, but those idiots didn't know that."
They were standing around in the conference room again, it was three in the morning and everyone was ready to go home. Reports were written. Dawn had the monkey secure in her bags and her 'chartered flight' to the UK was ready.
"Maybe next time I'll bring Buffy with me," Dawn said as she picked up her suitcase from the floor and added her bag to the top of it.
"I must admit seeing Neal getting ordered about by family has turned out to be a new joy in my life," Peter smirked as he looked down at her.
"Hey," Neal protested as he gave Dawn a hug. Dawn laughed as she headed to the elevator leaving her uncle and his keeper to bicker.
A/N: As far as I'm aware the particular jade monkey in the story does not exist – I made it up. The 'Miquot' first appeared in Homecoming and was seen again in 'The Initiative'.
Challenge response note: given the current timeline of the show I was unable to fit more than a mention of El into this one – maybe next time? I don't think I answered everything yet.