"It's for Caffrey."
Peter looked annoyed for a moment, before the agent smirked. "Put it on speaker," he ordered.
The ex-con just rolled his eyes. "Really," he huffed. "Do you think I would be stupid enough to have someone in the business call me here?" Neal asked as Jones hit the appropriate buttons.
The lights on the phone changed position as the call was transferred, and a cold voice came through the speakers. "Hello Nealan."
The blood drained from Neal's face, leaving it a pasty white. His coffee cup dropping from nerveless fingers to shatter on the floor. No, a little voice within him whispered. Not him, it couldn't be him. But it was. He would never forget that voice.
"What?" Now the voice sounded amused. "Nothing to say to me?"
Slowly the fear drained from Neal's bright blue eyes to be replaced by fury. "Drop dead."
The man just laughed. "That was note quite the answer I was looking for," he answered. "But there will be other times. We will speak again Nealan, and soon." A loud dial tone filled the suddenly silent room.
"Get this off," Neal spat yanking his pant leg up. His fingers searched desperately for a latch that wasn't there. "I have to go."
"Go?" Peter asked concerned. "Go where?" He had never seen the other so out of control.
"Anywhere!" Blue orbs shone with an emotion that could only be described as terror. "Just away!"
"Calm down," Peter shoved his unofficial partner into a chair, pushing the brunette's head between his knees. "Just breath okay."
Slowly, Neal nodded, taking in a slow shuttering breath. He had to calm down. He had to think.
"Why did that man call you Nealan anyway?" Peter asked knelling beside him.
"Because it is my name."
The agent frowned. "No it isn't." Neal Matthew Caffrey, that was what it said on the ex-con's birth certificate, and he should know.
Almost imperceptivity, Neal flinched. "Of course it isn't," he tried for nonchalance. "I was just making sure you knew."
Peter's eyes narrowed even further, suspicion blooming in his mind. "Neal," he said slowly. "Please tell me your records aren't forged."
Neal looked up at Peter as he heard a soft plea from the man. He knew that Peter wanted to believe that Neal hadn’t forged his records but he could hear that tinge of doubt. “Okay, so I didn’t forge my birth certificate,” he whispered but his eyes were telling a different story. He wanted to get caught in the lie, to have it all come out. After the moment of panic – of wanting to just run like he had been told to many years ago – he calmed down and realized he could have the help of the FBI. He could track down the man on the phone but he realized he would have to give something first. He wasn’t sure what was left of him to give.
“Christ Neal,” Peter said as he sat down in another chair. “How old were you when you did that?”
“Fourteen,” Neal said quietly. “I was sent to live with my Aunt Sophie. She taught me what my mother couldn’t. That included forging my birth certificate.”
“Why?” Peter asked as he kept his eyes on him. “Neal – I want to know about the guy who just called here. They’re running a trace, especially after you had that reaction to the phone call. But I need whatever you have locked in your head. I need it in order to help you.”
Neal nodded a yes as he let out a slow breath. “My mom – she was good at what she did. It’s the family craft, something that we all learn at one time or another. She was going to go straight until she got pregnant with me. She used to say that I was her greatest work – her shining jewel. My aunt Sophie agreed with her and I was going to be the one to go straight. Get through school, go to college, maybe even law school or med school.”
“Too bad it didn’t happen,” Peter said as he smiled at the thought of Neal as a doctor or a lawyer. He made a mental note to share that with El later. “What changed everything?”
“The guy on the phone,” Neal said quietly. “His name is Emmanuel Grey or at least he was going by that when – when everything happened. He wanted mom for a job that only she could do. I never knew what it was, but he wanted her and her alone. She continued to say no over and over again, so he upped the ante. He kidnapped me and held me for a month. She got me back and made me go into hiding with my Aunt. While we waited for her, we got everything ready. That included a new name for me and for mom. She just – she never showed up. He killed her.” He didn’t realize that as he told the tale, his voice got softer and softer to a whisper. “I need to get him. I need it off to deal with him in my own way,” he said in a quiet voice but his eyes showed that he meant to kill.
“You know I can’t,” Peter said with a soft sigh. “But I can do the next best thing – we’re going to find him. And then let you have a swing at him.”
Neal smiled at that. "Thank you, Peter."
“You're welcome,” Peter said. “For now, we’re going to get you home and I’m going to stay overnight. I know you have a couch there I can sleep on.”
“What about El?” Neal asked. “I have a lot on my plate right now. I don’t want to invoke her wrath as well.”
“You won’t,” Peter replied. “I’ll call her when we get there and explain everything. For now, the important thing is to keep you safe.”
“Thanks,” Neal replied quietly with a soft sigh.
“Neal, when you were kidnapped, did you go over state lines?” Peter asked.
“What?” Neal asked, looking at Peter oddly.
“When you were kidnapped, did you go over state lines?” Peter asked again, this time slowly so Neal understood the question.
Neal’s eyes widened in understanding. “Yeah. We went from Ohio to Indiana.”
“Then your kidnapping is a federal crime. Those have no statute of limitations,” Peter said with a grin. “We have you as the victim as well as a witness to your own kidnapping. If you aunt wouldn't mind testifying, it would just help everything."
“Maybe not my aunt,” Neal said. “I need to call her now. She said to call if this happened again.”
“Do so when we get home. We haven’t bugged June’s phones,” Peter said to him. “Don’t tell anybody I told you that.”
“Secret’s safe with me,” Neal said with a smile.
“So, Nealan,” Peter said with a chuckle. “You didn’t think shortening it would just be a give away?”
“I liked it better shortened, but thanks for the vote of confidence,” Neal said with a bit of a smile. “Home then?”
“Yes – we’ll leave the celebrating to another day,” Peter said as he motioned to Jones. “How are we going on the trace?”
“It’s going,” Jones replied. “The guy on the phone jumped through a lot of hoops in order to call here. It would help if we had a name, boss.”
“Emmanuel Grey,” Peter answered. “Run it through everything. Also, we want him for kidnapping.”
“Who’d the guy kidnap?” Jones asked, looking confused.
“Neal, when he was fourteen,” Peter said in a tone and look that said that it stayed between their inner group.
“I’ll get on that,” Jones said with a nod as he turned to go back to his desk.
“Let’s go,” Peter said as he turned to Neal. The two walked out of the building with Peter keeping close to Neal as he did so. The two got into Peter’s car and drove in silence to June’s place.
As Peter made an apologetic call to Elizabeth, Neal just stared at the phone. Neal finally picked it up and dialed a number he was only supposed to use in extreme emergencies. He cursed mentally as all he got was the voice mail message. “Hi,” he said, his voice cracking as he did so. “Sorry to call on this but I wanted to let you know that he’s back. Peter’s going to help me get him and I’ll just – I’ll try again later. Bye,” he said quietly as he hanged up the phone. He sat down on the couch again, putting his head in his hands as he just waited for the horrible night to end.