The thing is, Peter should never have let Neal come along on the stakeout because Neal has all the patience in the world when it comes to replicating that Haustenberg brushstroke for brushstroke, but not when it comes to sitting in Peter's Taurus waiting for Ace Stevens to get back from a night out with his girlfriend.
"Ace Stevens," Neal said for the tenth time. "There's no way that's actually his name."
"You didn't have to come," Peter told him.
Neal shrugs and turns to look out the window. The streets were filled with the usual late night crowds: couples leaning close to each other as they made their way down the street, groups of young men hailing cabs, a lone cyclist weaving amid the traffic. Peter was used to the mess and hum of the city streets, taking it all in while not letting himself be distracted from the task at hand. Neal would follow the same person from one end of the street to another, tracking their every move, learning all their quirks, learning all the best ways to get them to do whatever he wanted with just a few words and that disarming grin.
Peter smiled to himself and turned back to Stevens's building, sweeping the crowds. It was early yet, but when it came to Stevens, Peter had learned that it was safer to expect the unexpected. Neal sighed and shifted in the seat beside him. A moment later, Peter looked down at Neal's hand on his thigh then up at blue eyes and a cheshire grin.
"The second Stevens walks out that door, we have to move. If we lose him--"
Neal's grin vanished, and a small crease appeared between his eyebrows. "Then you probably shouldn't be watching me, then. He could be on his way out right now."
Peter's eyes snapped back over to the front door of Stevens's building. There was no one.
But there was still Neal's warm palm on his thigh, long fingers sliding closer to their goal.
"Neal," Peter tried again, grabbing his wrist, stilling him.
He could feel Neal watching him, waiting. Neal would stop if Peter told him "no" flat out. But Peter was having more and more trouble saying no to Neal lately.
Peter cleared his throat, but his voice was still a bit ragged when he said, "Later?"
Neal smirked and gave Peter's thigh a final squeeze before withdrawing his hand, turning his gaze back out the window.
Peter swallowed and sat up straighter in his seat. His years in the FBI had given him all the tools he needed to catch Neal. But they had in no way prepared him for what to do once he finally had him.