In retrospect, Peter realized that the seeds were planted sometime in the first few months that he worked with Neal. He didn't remember when the conversation had happened, just that it had.
They'd been on stakeout in Peter's car. It had taken Neal all of five minutes to get bored. Thus far, he'd tried to engage Peter in a game of "guess the license plate", then Punchbuggy ("Stop that."), followed by competitive pocket picking ("I said stop that.") and finally a silence that reminded Peter of the times when El's nephews would get really quiet right before they set her sister's cat on fire or tied the curtains in knots.
"You know," Neal said, speaking up after some ten minutes of blessed silence, "there's no reason why we have to stay in the car --"
"You get out of this car and I'm having your radius reset to June's apartment." Peter was starting to have the feeling that his (generally empty, mostly teasing) threats weren't having much effect. Actually, he'd had that feeling since the first few days they'd worked together.
"Give me one good reason why we have to stay in the car."
"Oh, I don't know," Peter said. He took a slug of coffee and grimaced when he realized it was cold. "Because the suspect might, I don't know, see us?"
"I can be really stealthy when I want to."
Sadly, it was all too true. "Neal, we're staying in the car because that's how stakeouts are done."
"I said a good reason."
"That is a good reason."
"Because that's how it's always been done is a good reason?"
"Good enough for me," Peter said.
Neal gave him a disbelieving stare, like he was seeing Peter for the first time. "That really is how you live your life, isn't it?"
"Only up to a point," Peter said, because the way Neal was looking at him was starting to make him feel ... old. He had an odd, irrational urge to insist that he wasn't a complete stick in the mud. He squashed it. There was no reason why he had to prove his life choices to someone who'd just done four years in the federal pen. Sure, by Neal's standards his life was a bit routine, but look how Neal's decisions tended to end up.
"Prove it," Neal said. "Have you ever, in your entire life, done anything completely insane?"
Peter looked at Neal, and at the anklet.
"Define 'completely insane.'"
Neal shrugged. "I don't know. Spontaneous. Fun. Have you ever streaked through your college cafeteria? Walked into the most exclusive restaurant in New York and ordered the most expensive item on the menu, knowing you have only five dollars in your wallet? Got on a train going nowhere specific, just because you can?"
"Jumped out of a fourth-floor window onto an awning?"
"Sure," Neal said easily. "Something like that."
"Neal, we can't all be you," Peter said. "Thank God." Then he reached for the binoculars, even as Neal opened his mouth again. "Hang on, he's coming out and he's got somebody with him."
And that was that -- onwards to the case and business as usual. But Neal, as Peter had realized awhile back, had a mind like a steel trap. It wasn't quite a photographic memory like Mozzie's (Peter wasn't entirely sure if he believed that claim anyway), but Neal remembered conversations from years ago almost verbatim. And he never missed a chance to pull something out if an opportunity came up later.
"Peter, it's not the wife. The embezzler's partner is his secretary. She's the only one who has access to his files."
"You think his wife doesn't have access to his files? Take it from a married man, Neal: she's not an innocent victim. She knows every last thing her husband is up to."
"Do I even want to know which of your many issues prompted this irrational certainty?"
"It's not irrational," Peter said. "It's based on solid detective work and gut instinct."
Neal raised his eyebrows. "Oh. Gut instinct. Right. That's not irrational at all."
"Fine." Peter reached for his wallet, peeled off five twenties and plunked them one by one onto his desk. "Want to place a little bet on it?"
Neal poked the bills back towards him. "Oh, no. I don't want your money, Peter."
"Afraid to take the wager?"
Neal grinned. "Not at all. I'm just thinking it would be more interesting to put up something other than cash."
"Neal, I'm not staking your anklet on a wager."
"I wasn't going to ask for that," Neal said, a little too quickly. "No ... if you win, I'll -- cook dinner for you and El. Whatever you want to eat, and I'll supply the ingredients. How about that?"
Peter tried to think of some angle from which this could possibly be a scam, but couldn't think of anything. "All right," he said warily. "And if you win?"
"If I win, you have to do something crazy."
Peter merely looked at him.
"Spontaneous," Neal added. "Something you've never done before. Something you wouldn't normally do. Something risky, creative, different."
"Neal, I do all of that every day at work. Why in the world would I want to risk my life on my off time as well?"
"I didn't say dangerous," Neal retorted. "Just something a little different." He smiled ingratiatingly. "After all, if you're right, you don't have to worry about it. Or are you saying you aren't sure?"
"I am sure."
"Mmm-hmmm," Neal said, poking at the files on Peter's desk. "Doesn't sound like it to me."
"It's the wife, Neal. You're in denial if you think it's not."
"You're that sure."
"I'm positive," Peter said.
"So you'll take the wager?"
"You're on," Peter snapped, and it wasn't until Neal left his office that he got a distinctly bad feeling about this.
"How the hell did you know it was the secretary?"
"Detective work," Neal said. "And gut instinct."
Peter glared at him.
"What, I can't be right every once in a while?"
"You rigged this somehow," Peter said. "And I'm going to figure out how."
"Oh, for -- Diana, back me up and tell him that I didn't cheat."
"Sorry, boss," Diana said. "Not that I make a habit out of agreeing with Caffrey, but as far as I can tell, he beat you fair and square. What did you wager, anyway?"
"And what in the world prompted to you make a bet with Neal in the first place?" Jones wanted to know.
"I think this meeting is over," Peter said, briskly corralling the papers on the conference table. "Don't all of you have work to do? And desks to do it on?"
"He's not going to tell us," Diana said to Jones on the way out of the conference room.
"Must be something really dire."
Everyone left except Neal. Peter looked at him over the stack of files.
"Hey, you got into that bet of your own free will," Neal said. "Actually, I seem to recall that it was your idea in the first place."
"Don't remind me. I still think you rigged this somehow."
Neal shrugged, and stretched out his legs to prop up his tracker-monitored foot on one of the conference chairs. He began juggling rubber band balls -- somehow he'd acquired three of them from somewhere. "Feel free to believe that, but in the meantime, I understand that you owe me one spontaneous act, effective immediately."
Peter froze in the act of sorting the files. "You never said anything about immediately."
"Or whenever," Neal said, shrugging. "I just thought you'd want to get it over with."
"I need time to think about this," Peter said. "Maybe talk it over with El."
"You do know the meaning of the word 'spontaneous', don't you?"
Peter snapped his fingers. "I'll pick up takeout on my way home, from that new Vietnamese place that just opened around the corner. That's spontaneous. And different."
"And entirely not in the spirit of our wager, and you know it." Neal tossed one of the rubber band balls at him.
Peter caught it. "What do you expect me to do, then? Jump off a building? Move to Paris and change my name to Pierre?"
"That would be very --"
"Neal, I'm not changing my name to Pierre."
"Not even for a day?" At Peter's glare, Neal said, "Apparently not."
There was a brief silence.
"You're drawing a blank, aren't you," Neal said.
"Can't think of a thing, no."
"Come on, Neal. Give me a hint. Throw me a bone here."
"Peter, I'm not going to help you do something spontaneous. That defeats the entire purpose of spontaneity."
Peter just looked at him. After a moment, Neal's faintly martyred expression faded into a grin.
"On second thought, I'm not doing anything this evening. Sure. I'll help you be spontaneous."
"No name changes," Peter said firmly.
"Of course not."
"And I'm not doing anything illegal, or anything that's likely to get me or someone else hurt."
"Peter," Neal said in a shocked tone. "I'd never dream of suggesting such a thing."
"Or anything humiliating. Or expensive. Or likely to damage my career. Or someone else's career. Or cost the city money. Nothing political. Nothing --"
"Would you like me to get a lawyer in here to draft the contract?"
Peter gave El a call to let her know that he'd be home late -- he didn't go into specifics; there was undoubtedly going to be enough laughter at his expense when he did tell her, even before he got around to relating whatever embarrassment Neal was probably even now planning to inflict on him. "Say hi to Neal for me," El said, which probably meant that she knew him far too well.
Then he gathered up his coat, took a deep breath, focused on getting into "mission" mindset and gave Neal a short, stiff nod. "Let's go."
"You look like you're prepping to go raid a drug dealer's den," Neal said. "This is supposed to be fun."
"I don't recall 'fun' being in the mission description anywhere."
"Peter, tonight let's try to be a little less General Patton and a little more ..." Neal rolled his hand in the air, obviously trying to think of something. "... Ferris Bueller."
"I'm doomed," Peter said. "Doomed. You know, I want you to remember that I do in fact have the legal right to arrest you."
"This promises to be a whole barrel of laughs," Neal murmured, picking up his hat.
Out on the street, the sun was low and the canyons of the city were filled with shadows. Neal caught Peter's arm as he started towards his car.
"Uh, Neal, car's this way."
"Forget the car," Neal said. "Spontaneous, remember? I've never liked cars; they insulate you from the world and tie you to a schedule. Why do you think I don't own one?"
"Because you recently got out of prison, can't go more than two miles from the place you live, and there's nowhere to park in Manhattan anyway?"
"Well ... yes. But also because I like to experience the city on foot rather than seeing it from the inside of a metal box moving at fifty-five miles an hour." Neal tugged on Peter's arm. "Come on, you're the one who decided to monopolize my evening, remember? So this is my advice to you. Walk, don't ride. You'll thank me for it."
Peter took a couple of steps down the street, then stopped. "Which way?"
"You're really having trouble with this whole 'spontaneous' concept, aren't you?"
"Seriously?" Peter said. "You just want to wander around the city until something interesting happens?"
"It usually does," Neal said.
"I could make a comment on that, but I want it noted that I'm being the bigger person and abstaining."
Neal sighed. "Be that way, then." He flourished a quarter, bringing it out of thin air between his fingers. "Flip a coin. Let random chance decide. Or fate, as the case may be."
"There are four directions, Neal, and only two sides to a coin."
Neal gave him a look of disbelief. "Flip it twice, then. You're just being difficult, aren't you?"
A few flips of the coin determined a direction. Peter tried to hand the coin back to Neal, but he shook his head.
"Nah, keep it." An impish grin peeked through. "It's yours anyway."
"First rule of the evening, Neal: Keep your hands out of my pockets."
So they walked.
Peter was not about to admit it, but Neal had a point. It wasn't like he never walked around the city -- he walked all the time. Or ran. Usually in pursuit of someone. But when was the last time he'd really looked?
The sun was catching the buildings, turning them to sheets of beaten gold. As they drew near the waterfront, the sidewalk population of businessmen and women in neat, sober-colored suits began to mingle with, and then were replaced by, camera-wielding tourists in cargo shorts and laughing teenage girls with heavily gelled hair and tight skirts.
Neal looked relaxed and comfortable in a way that he rarely did in FBI headquarters. He was clearly in his element here, gracefully navigating through the city's complex web of life and human interaction, leaving barely a ripple in his wake. In fact, at the moment he was --
Peter maneuvered himself close enough to grab Neal's arm. "Neal," he murmured, leaning to speak into his partner's ear. "What did you just take out of that woman's purse?"
"Nothing," Neal said with an expression of wide-eyed innocence.
Peter kept tight hold; he also kept an eye on the briskly receding woman and her bobbing, bright-red purse, just in case he had to track her down and return a stolen wallet.
"Peter. Seriously. Nothing. Do you think I'm brazen enough to steal someone's wallet right in front of you?"
Peter took a breath and started to answer.
"Never mind. No -- you're not wrong about what you saw, though," Neal added hastily, as Peter's face darkened. "I just didn't take anything. I like to keep a hand in, make sure I still have the touch." He smiled, looking satisfied. "She didn't notice a thing, right?"
"No touching. And no hands in anything. Not while you're with me."
"C'mon, Peter." Neal twitched his arm free with a graceful, boneless ripple, giving Peter the impression that he could have done it at any time; he'd just been letting Peter keep hold of him. "We're off the clock."
"I'm still a federal agent, Neal, and I won't hesitate to arrest you if I see you take so much as a stick of gum that doesn't belong to you."
"I'm thinking that we need to move on to a new stage of the Spontaneous Tour of New York, because clearly you're still working on the whole Ferris Bueller thing." Neal tilted his head back, looking up at the great dark swathe of the Brooklyn Bridge silhouetted against the sky. "Peter ... have you ever walked from Manhattan to Brooklyn on the bridge?"
"No," Peter admitted. "I always meant to. Just never got around to it."
Neal flashed him a bright smile. "I can't think of a better time than sunset, can you?"
They purchased fish sandwiches to go from one of the restaurants along the waterfront. Accessing the pedestrian walkway required a walk back along the freeway -- or, rather, under it. "Cars do make it a bit faster to get from one place to another," Peter remarked, starting to unwrap his sandwich.
Neal smacked his hand.
Peter gave him a look of shock.
"Not here," Neal said. He pointed up. "There."
They ate leaning against the iron guardrail of the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian walk, the suspension towers rising above them like cathedral buttresses holding up the sky. The sun was setting, and Brooklyn was in flames, while the buildings of Manhattan were dark shapes against a blazing purple sky.
Neal leaned over the guardrail with a wadded-up ball of waxed paper in his hand. "What do you want to bet I could hit that --"
"No littering," Peter said. "Besides, you could kill someone from up here."
"Peter, do you spend all day, every day thinking of horrible consequences for each and every last one of your actions?"
"That's why we have laws," Peter said. "So that you don't have to think about it; the thinking is done for you. Because, otherwise, yes. That's what other people do, Neal: they consider the consequences of their actions on other people and on society."
"Thank you, McGruff the Crime Dog." Neal very deliberately -- ostentatiously, even -- folded up the trash and tucked it into his pocket. "I'm constantly impressed by your ability to turn even the most innocuous situation into an opportunity for a lecture."
They strolled towards the Brooklyn end of the bridge, in no particular hurry. The wind whipped Peter's hair around, giving him, he suspected, the look of a closely cropped but slightly deranged haystack. Neal's hair, as usual, stayed in place; his hat didn't even blow off. Peter had a feeling that if he ever were so foolish as to try to wear a hat around Manhattan, it would be constantly blowing off his head and getting knocked off by elevator doors.
"I don't lecture," Peter said at last.
Neal's only response to this was a small, polite cough.
"... inappropriately," Peter said. "Any lectures that may occur are completely necessary and appropriate to the time and place."
Neal's raised eyebrows were more eloquent than words.
"Look, I'm not going to apologize for trying to keep you out of trouble," Peter said. "Which is a full-time job, by the way."
"Hey, I never said anything." Neal raised his hands. "However, as far as Operation Spontaneity is concerned, you're on your own from here on out. I'm not going to do all your thinking for you tonight."
"You mean there's more?" Peter said in disbelief. "I thought the bridge was -- you know. It."
Neal shrugged. "It can be. If you want it to be. You did something new; now you can go home to your couch and whatever sporting event is on TV. It's what? Nine p.m.? Ten? Definitely time to call it a night."
Sneaky bastard. But he played along anyway. He'd never been one to back down from a challenge, especially when it came from Neal Caffrey. Peter said the first thing that popped into his head. "Staten Island."
Neal's head whipped around. "Say what?"
"Staten Island," Peter said, louder, committing himself. "That's where we're going next."
"Why?" Neal asked, his eyes narrowing. "No one goes to Staten Island, Peter. Because there's nothing there."
"Precisely," Peter said. "I've lived in New York City for twenty years and I can count the number of times I've been to Staten Island on the fingers of one hand. Well, maybe both hands. Almost always for work. So let's go there tonight."
A slow smile spread across Neal's face. "You liked the bridge, though. Admit it."
Peter sighed. And grinned. "Yes. I liked the bridge."
They caught a bus on the far side of the bridge, which produced a look of mild horror from Neal.
"Now who's having new experiences?" Peter said.
"Peter, tourists ride the bus. We're New Yorkers. We take the subway."
"Good luck getting the subway to take you to Staten Island."
A few bus changes got them onto the island. Peter glanced at Neal when he got up at one of the bus's many stops, and followed him out of the bus onto the curb. "What's around here?"
"I have no idea," Neal said. "Spontaneity, remember? Besides, I don't plan to sit on a bus all night."
They were standing in a low-rent commercial district shading into low-end suburbia. There were a handful of restaurants offering pizza and Korean food, a check cashing place (closed), a pawn shop (open), and a gas station with an all-night liquor store attached. Neal moseyed into the liquor store, and moseyed out with a brown paper bag that clinked.
"Open containers in public places --" Peter caught himself, and set his jaw. "Spontaneity," he said between his teeth.
"Spontaneity," Neal agreed.
They walked. It was almost midnight, and, as they left the commercial district behind, very dark outside the light pooling under intermittent street lights. The street they were following threatened to turn into a highway, so Neal turned off, which led them almost immediately to a head-high brick wall bordering the road.
Neal broke into a grin. "Cool," he said. "Cemetery." And to Peter's astonishment, he tossed his hat over the wall, then caught hold of the top and boosted himself up with catlike agility, apparently not hindered in the slightest by the paper bag.
"Neal!" Peter hissed up at him. "Trespassing!"
"It's only trespassing if they catch you," Neal said softly, looking down at him. "Look where we are. Actually ... God knows where we are. But somehow I doubt they have a lot of security guards. Besides, you can just flash your badge and tell them that you're on a case."
"My badge is not an excuse to --" But Neal had already vanished from sight. "Neal!"
Peter heaved a sigh, looked both ways up and down the deserted street, and then scrabbled at the wall until he managed to heave himself up, over, and facefirst into a bush on the other side.
"I knew you couldn't stay away," Neal's voice said from nearby. It was so dark under the trees overhanging the wall that Peter couldn't see anything but the faint, pale blur of Neal's face and white shirtfront. "Here." Something cold was pressed into Peter's hands: a 40-ounce bottle of beer.
"I cannot believe I'm doing this," Peter said, but he cracked it open.
Out from under the trees, it was less oppressively dark. The city's glow lit up the sky with sulfurous orange. There was enough light for Peter to see Neal ruefully studying the cork in the bottle of wine he'd purchased -- probably the most expensive wine that could be had in an all-night liquor store in some random part of Staten Island. "I think I forgot something."
"Luckily for you," Peter said, "I was an Eagle Scout." He flicked out the corkscrew blade on his utility knife -- it had been a gift from El two Christmases ago, and he almost never got to do anything with it.
Once they'd wrestled the cork out, Neal clinked his wine bottle against Peter's. "To spontaneous acts."
"Acts of trespassing and other misdemeanors," Peter said, but he drank. "This is not actually the first time I've been in a graveyard after midnight, I'll have you know. When I was a kid, my cousins and I used to sneak into the local cemetery all the time."
Neal affected shock. "Peter! Does the FBI know about your youthful indiscretions?"
"Only if you tell them."
"Lips? Sealed." Neal's teeth flashed as he grinned. "So what did you do there?"
"What does anyone do in a cemetery in a small town at night? Drank. Tried to get lucky with girls. We never spray-painted headstones or anything like that -- too many of those headstones belonged to either distant relatives of ours, or people who were related to friends of our parents."
This cemetery was bigger than the one he remembered, but still a small one; the only thing that remotely resembled a tomb was a wide, flat slab of stone with angels at each corner, installed at the cemetery's highest point. They sat on the edge of it and, the beer bottle being empty by this time, passed the wine back and forth.
"You?" Peter said.
"Sneak into graveyards when you were a kid?"
"Not really," Neal said. "I used to go walking on train tracks, though."
Bits of information from Neal's childhood were a form of rare coin that Peter carefully collected -- small tidbits of information, each one a new piece of the enigmatic jigsaw puzzle that made up Neal Caffrey.
"Train tracks, huh?"
"Yeah. There was a trestle bridge nearby, and someone was killed on it, walking the tracks, when I was really young. I grew up hearing that story, and I always used to wonder why he stayed on the tracks -- why he didn't jump into the river below."
This almost doubled the amount of information on young Neal Caffrey that Peter had managed to collect so far. "You would've."
"I used to think anyone would've," Neal said. "I mean, if the choice is jumping into a river or getting hit by a train -- yeah, it was high, and the fall might've killed you, not to speak of the old rusty cars on the riverbed and such. It wasn't a deep river. But at least that way, there would be a chance. The train would kill you for sure."
"It's not always easy to jump if you don't know what's at the bottom," Peter said.
"It always has been for me," Neal said, sounding thoughtful.
"Other people," Peter said, "need a little push occasionally."
Neal laughed softly, and lay down, stretched out on the marble slab with his head pillowed on his arm. "Don't worry, Peter," he said, his voice soft and sleepy. "If we're on a trestle bridge and a train's coming, I'll be sure and take you with me when I jump."
Peter didn't know quite how to express how disturbing and yet weirdly comforting that was. Besides, a horrible thought had occurred to him. "Are you planning on walking any railroad tracks tonight?"
"Only if you find some."
Peter lay down, too, and looked up at a scattering of stars overhead, the few that weren't obscured by the city's glow and a patchy, growing cloud cover. "I don't really feel like looking for any."
"Yeah," Neal said quietly. "Me either."
In his defense, Peter didn't actually plan to fall asleep.
He dreamed that he was drowning, and Neal was pulling him under -- not meaning to, just as a casual afterthought, swimming like a fish and dragging Peter down and down. Waking, he found his mouth and nose full of water, and sputtered for air. It was pitch dark and pouring rain.
"Well, this is unpleasant," Neal said next to him as Peter sat up on the slab.
Peter lit up his watch to read the time: 3:49. "I'm guessing there aren't going to be a lot of buses running right now," he said. His suit clung to him like a wet paper bag. "I suppose I could call El to come pick us up. I'm sure she'd appreciate that."
"Your car's at the FBI building."
"You think she's worried?"
"El? No. Well, probably not much. She's used to my weird hours." He felt a guilty urge to call her anyway, but she was certainly asleep now. If she'd been too worried, he knew she would have called him.
"Which leaves us," Neal said, "soaking wet in a cemetery in the middle of the night."
"I'd like to point out that climbing into the cemetery wasn't my idea in the first place."
"No, but Staten Island was."
"You're the one who insisted on an evening of gratuitous spontaneity in the first place."
"Yes, but the wager was your idea, Peter."
"This isn't getting us any drier," Peter said after a moment.
As soon as they slid off the slab, the two of them made the startling and unpleasant discovery that the grass was covered with earthworms.
"Nightcrawlers," Peter said. "They come up when it rains. Didn't you ever catch nightcrawlers when you were a kid?"
"To what possible purpose?" Neal demanded, trying, from the look of things, to step on top of the blades of grass without touching anything.
"Do I look like the fishing type to you?"
Actually, in his neatly tailored, once-immaculate suit, he looked like a wet cat. His hat was drooping. Peter suspected that he himself didn't look any better.
"Cabs," Neal said. "Even on Staten Island, there must be cabs."
He already had his phone out when Peter's hand shot over and closed on it.
"You can't possibly tell me that you have objections to this," Neal said, struggling to extricate himself.
"It feels like admitting defeat," Peter said.
"As Napoleon undoubtedly also said, when his generals counseled him to turn back at Waterloo," Neal retorted. "Peter, there's spontaneous adventure and then there's simple martyrdom. I don't think it's a failure of our manhood to call a cab to rescue us from the wilderness."
"This is Staten Island, not Alaska."
Neal shook the phone free of Peter's grasp. "Close enough for me."
The cabbie seemed remarkably unsurprised to pick up two soaking wet men in suits and ties outside a cemetery at 4 a.m. Peter supposed that it probably wasn't the weirdest thing someone in his line of work would have seen in his career.
When the cab pulled up outside the Burkes', Peter nudged Neal, who seemed to be falling asleep on his shoulder. "Hey. You can have him take you on up to June's, or come in and crash on the couch for --" He checked his watch. "-- okay, about an hour. We may not have rooftop gardens and sexy art students, but we have hot showers, and El makes a mean omelet."
"Hot showers," Neal said reverently. "Yeah. I'm all over that."
Satch greeted them with enthusiastic wagging and no concern at all about their bedraggled state. Peter tiptoed around the bedroom gathering dry clothes, and tiptoed back down to find that Neal had stripped off most of his wet clothes and wrapped himself in El's grandmother's pink and green afghan off the back of the couch.
"Help yourself to whatever you need, food or otherwise," Peter said, tossing a set of sweats on the couch -- probably miles too big for Neal, but dry, at least. "I've got dibs on the first shower, since it's my house. There are blankets and pillows in the hall closet if you want to try to catch some sleep."
Neal nodded and yawned, running a hand through his drying hair. As Peter padded back up the stairs, he said quietly, "Hey, Peter. I meant it about the train trestle."
"I know," Peter said. He leaned on the railing and looked down at Neal Caffrey on his couch -- wrapped in an old afghan that had gone fuzzy with too much washing, his hair a mess, looking nothing at all like the con man who'd once lived a high-flying, globetrotting lifestyle. Not many people, Peter thought, had seen Neal like this. Not many people at all. "Meanwhile, I'll take a shot at catching you if you try to jump off for no particular reason."
"There's always a reason," Neal said, his tone somewhere between teasing and defensive.
"A reason that isn't worth the risk of the rusty cars at the bottom." And, because he knew the effect it would have on Neal, he added, "That's what partners do, right?"
Neal's smile was brilliant, and unexpectedly open.
"Admit it," Neal said. "You had fun tonight."
"I admit nothing," Peter said, and escaped to the privacy of the upstairs hallway before his answering grin could break through.