Elizabeth was used to laughing herself silly when Peter told her stories from his day. The rough parts of his day came out in bits and pieces, in serious discussions over wine or curled up together in bed; once or twice, the really bad days, he hid in supply closets and talked to her or her voicemail, came home and collapsed against her on the couch while she coaxed it out of him. But the good parts Peter stored up for her, organised them into anecdotes with tiny details and punchlines he could share over the mashed potatoes. And Elizabeth laughed.
Peter was a marvellous storyteller.
She laughed when he came home full of a day learning to pick pockets at Mozzie and June's school for the criminally inclined, especially, and dared him to unhook her bra without her noticing. He couldn't quite manage it, however busy his fingers between her legs, but she forgave him. She's generous like that.
Enrolling in the school herself was more an accident than anything. She'd dropped by June's with soup for Neal and cookies for June, and the maid showed her in. She discovered June and Mozzie critiquing the lift Beth Reisgraf had just made in an episode of Leverage.
"Is it really that hard?" she asked, watching the long thin fingers in slow motion as Mozzie bent over, tracing something on the screen with one finger. They both looked up in surprise.
"I figured the Suit would tell you how long it took him to pick up this stuff," Mozzie said, not bothering to greet her.
June got up and gave Elizabeth a hug. El returned it warmly. "How are you?"
"Bored," El admitted, sheepishly. She'd refused to take events for these two weeks because both her employees had needed the time off, but she was already regretting it. The soup and cookies had both come out of yesterday's extended efforts in the kitchen, and she'd already dropped off similar gifts to Clinton's doorman, Christie (who painted from home), the three neighbor families they invited to barbecues, and four of her own friends who were married with families. She wanted to be with people, but it wasn't fair to drop in and then stay all day, not when the people she was dropping in on had their own lives to live, their own mouths to feed and homes to clean.
June patted her arm sympathetically. "You don't think we'd be analyzing actor's criminal skills if we had things to do ourselves? My committee meeting was cancelled."
"What about you, Mozzie?" El asked.
"Waiting for the dyes," he said cryptically, and buttoned his mouth closed again like he'd suddenly remembered she was Mrs. Suit. El didn't roll her eyes, but it was because she loved him.
June was eying her consideringly. "So we've all the afternoon off?" she said, gently suggestive.
"I suppose so."
"Would you like to learn a few tricks of the trade?"
It took her a few more sessions over the next week to pick up the tricks Mozzie claimed were basic chops. El laughed at him for calling it that.
"We're magicians, in our own small way," he said, primly. "Misdirection, illusion, flash and sparkle. And in the end, you walk away amazed."
She grinned at him and grabbed his hands to dance a few steps across the room, slipping his watch from his wrist as he spun her.
"Better," he said, when she flashed it at him. "We could even go wallet-swapping, if you like."
She declined, with thanks. Peter was going out of town next week, and she'd been plotting to keep herself occupied while he was gone. She had a lot of shopping to do.
El was used to laughing at Peter's stories when he came home, but that didn't mean she didn't listen to them...didn't listen to him. And it didn't mean, either, that she didn't do her fair share of talking. She wasn't at all surprised when he came back from Boston inclined to flush whenever she mentioned Neal's name, to grin at nothing whenever she let the silence stretch long enough to let his mind wander, but she didn't let him talk about the trip at all while she put the last few touches on the meal. She sent him out to set the table instead, to fill the wineglasses and take the bread from the warmer while she told him about the day she'd spent at the zoo with her sister, about buying a toy wildebeest for her niece.
Finally, she brought the roast out and set it on the table, leaning over to kiss her husband, long and lingering, chaste and affectionate. He smiled into the kiss.
"So," she said, "got any stories for me from Boston?"
"A few," he said, forking beef onto his plate. "But the first one you've gotta hear's from before we even left New York."
She raised her eyebrows, grinning as she put asparagus onto her own plate. "Oh? No trouble, I hope?"
"None for me," Peter said. "Federal agent, you know how it is, they hardly bother with checking me. But Neal's another story. The tracker, you know, they wanted to search everything."
Elizabeth bit her lip.
"The funny thing was," Peter said, "when they opened his suitcase, it had my clothes in it."
El bit down harder for a second so she could force herself to say, innocently, "Oh? That is a little odd."
"But there were some things I know I didn't pack," Peter went on. "And since they weren't mine, they must have been his, right?"
"That seems logical," she agreed.
"Of course, I wouldn't really expect Neal to haul out cock rings and vibrators for the kind of one-night stand he might be able to pick up in Boston, but maybe I don't know him as well as I thought."
Elizabeth, determined not to break first, said, "Maybe he's got a special friend in Boston he was planning to meet up with?"
"I think he would have told me," Peter said. "And of course, there's the matter of my clothes being in his suitcase."
"I can't imagine how that can have happened."
Peter looked at her. She looked at Peter.
"You little minx," he said, and she burst into giggles. "How'd you do it?"
"The suitcase was easy," she said. "I just threw them in while you were in the shower this morning."
"But what about the tags?" Peter demanded.
"Turns out June and Mozzie were willing to take on another student," she explained. "Apparently it's a pretty basic technique."
He looked sulky for a second. "They never taught me."
"Well, you didn't ask! Did it work?"
He gave her a long look.
"I knew it would," she said, and grinned.