Diana, Jones and the newest probie, Warren, were all standing in the bullpen looking up into Peter’s office when I walked in the glass door after dinner. Nobody else was there, it was after normal work hours and everybody else had gone home.
I stopped at the sight, not something that I had ever seen before. Usually, Peter’s team was diligent and hard-working, so seeing them just standing around gawking like they were was something of a shock.
I was just about to ask them what they were doing when I caught sight of what they were staring at and I found myself a member of the enchanted masses.
Peter and Caffrey were standing in Peter’s office facing off and seemingly screaming at each other! I couldn’t hear anything more than muffled sounds, but it was very clear by the way they stood that they were in a very heated argument.
“What is going on; why do they look like they want to kill each other?”
All three of my fellow gawkers jumped; they hadn’t seen me come up behind them.
“Well, we solved the Jorgenson case.”
Diana was the one who answered; she had always been the most forward one.
“You found the Dali?”
I was thrilled; the MoMA had been on brass’ back since the painting had been stolen, and that meant the brass had been on mine.
“Yes, he had stashed it on the roof of his apartment building. It was stored in a weather-proof shed up there; when we arrived, he was just about to pull it out to move it. Jones took the painting and I had Jorgenson and was about to cuff him when he broke free. He lunged for a knife he had in the shed and went after the painting but Neal stepped in between and stopped him.”
“So now Peter is angry that Caffrey put his life at risk to save the painting.”
It was a statement, not a question, but Diana answered anyway.
“Yeah, he had Jones and Warren take Jorgenson to holding and I rode in the car with him and Neal. Peter didn’t say a word the whole way here, even when Neal tried to talk to him.”
I winced; Peter had to have been really angry if he didn’t even answer when Caffrey spoke to him. Peter wasn’t usually one to ignore problems; rather, he preferred to face them head-on and immediately.
We went back to staring silently at the events unfolding in Peter’s office until the most unexpected thing to ever happen in an FBI office happened before our eyes.
We found The Dali, it was amazing, and Neal had been instrumental in the recovery. I was looking forward to getting the thing back to the office and not being responsible for a multi-million dollar painting longer than I had to.
That’s when all hell broke loose; Diana somehow lost the hold she had on Jorgenson and he lunged for a knife and then the painting. Both Diana and I were after him, but Neal stepped in front of him and grabbed a hold of the arm with the knife.
Luckily, he got a good grip and could hold on until I got there and got the knife wrestled out of Jorgenson’s hand, but if Neal hadn’t gotten hold of him, he could easily have been the one cut instead of the painting.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared than I was in the seconds before I got to them, nor more livid than I was afterwards at the thought of what could have happened.
I ordered Jones and the probie to take Jorgenson into custody and brought the painting with me in the Taurus with Neal and Diana. I didn’t trust myself to not wreck the car if I had to talk to Neal while driving, so I didn’t say a word on the whole trip to the office. I could see the looks Diana gave me, but I didn’t really care at that point.
When we got there, I logged the painting into evidence and then motioned for Neal to follow me to my office. I let him walk in first, closed the door and then, I turned to him.
“What the hell were you thinking?”
I could hear the fury in my own voice and saw Neal’s appeasing smile slide off his face.
“Peter, I had to do it; I couldn’t let him destroy the painting.”
“No, you didn’t HAVE to do it, you wanted to do it, and it’s not a risk worth taking.”
We were going back and forth like that for a while and I was dimly aware of the audience we had in the bullpen, but even they slid in the background and I forgot they were there, which might explain why I did what I did where I did it.
Ok, I know stepping in front of a guy with a knife wasn’t the smartest move in the world, but I didn’t think it warranted the silent treatment either. It had all turned out ok; both the painting and I were fine.
Peter was pissed though, as pissed as I had ever seen him. He didn’t say a word in the car back to the office and he hardly looked at me the whole way there either. He just logged the painting and then pointed at me and then his office, which I took to mean that he wanted me to go up there.
I figured I’d better try to placate him a little, so I tried smiling at him when he turned to me after closing the door, but the expression on his face quickly had me change tactics. I tried reasoning with him, but he was not in the mood for that.
We had been fighting for a while, not something we usually do; usually, he’d just rant at me for a while and then tell me not to do it again.
This time was different for some reason; he was almost in my face and I didn’t want to back down, so we were all but shouting in each other’s faces. I really had no clue why, at least not until he said and did the last thing I would ever have expected.
“Peter, it was ‘The Persistence of Memory’; it’s an important piece of art history.”
“I know what it is, but you are more important than any painting; you are priceless, Neal; I could have lost you.”
His voice broke a little at that last part and the statement had me completely speechless, but Peter had more surprises up his sleeve because he grabbed the back of my head and pulled me in to a kiss. My surprised paralysis didn’t last long and I started kissing back. I had wanted to kiss him for several years, if I was completely honest with myself, something I always try to do, if with no one else.
When we finally broke apart, we looked at each other, trying to gouge the other’s reaction, but it didn’t last long because reality broke in and we remembered our audience. We turned our heads at the same time, looking down into the bullpen at the faces of the four very surprised people standing there.
“Shit, we shouldn’t have done that here.”
I agreed, it was a little embarrassing to have lost our cool like that in the middle of Peter’s glass-enclosed office, but I couldn’t really find it in me to regret the kiss. And the fact that Peter said here at the end of that made me ridiculously happy. It means he doesn’t regret kissing me, just the location.
Maybe, just maybe, this could be more than just an impulsive kiss in the heat of the moment; I guess we’ll find out.