Neal feels sick as he walks home. That fucking art! All those priceless masterpieces, totally destroyed by some reckless fucking arsonist. He doesn't kick impotently at the stones on the street, but only because he has more respect for Berluti than making futile gestures which might scuff his shoes.
And Peter. Bah! Neal grits his teeth and walks faster. Fucker. All that fucking time cultivating a friendship, and for what? For Peter to accuse him of stealing the art - when was he supposed to have orchestrated that, in his sleep? Was Peter's fucking memory so bad he couldn't remember the events of the past few days? And really, the whole time frame and explosion would have needed more planning and effort than he'd put into it - gah, he's become just like the feds, reacting, instead of directing events. But he'd thought he was getting somewhere with Peter and to find out he just doesn't trust him, won't ever trust him, doesn't believe him even when he hasn't lied ... even when Peter'd just killed a guy to save his life, he'd rather believe Adler than him ... well, it certainly puts things in stark perspective.
He gets home fast, but surprisingly enough the feds aren't waiting for him with his anklet. What is there is a mystery; a key and a typed note:
Neal checks the street first. The feds aren't there, but Neal still doubles back and around three times before he's sure he's not being followed.
He lets himself into the warehouse building quietly, walking softly around various packing crates until he discovers what his benefactor was leading him to. His heart lifts at the same time it starts racing; the treasure unmolested is the cause of the former, but the latter is all adrenaline at the sheer moxie of taking it from under Adler and the FBI's noses. Thoughts of Peter curl in around the edges of his mind as he looks at the Nazi plunder, fragments of lies to tell, twisted truths and expressions to use, all calling for him to practise them until he's perfect. And then he's looking at it all, fighting not to touch and feel, weigh and measure. It's too much, even for him, and whoever displayed it all like this has obviously done it for him, a visual gift of excess and opulence to steal his breath and make him smile.
It does make him smile, because he knows who did it. Neal locks up and walks a circuitous route back to June's.
The feds pick him up walking up Riverside Drive, an unopened bottle of whiskey in a bag a prop in his left hand. Peter takes it off him before he cuffs him and pushes him into the back seat, seething a warning not to remove them. Jones is driving and they both have assumed a mantle of cop vs. felon. Neal can't help but think that Diana doesn't quite agree with their tactics, or she'd be here too, a key player in this parody of an edgy takedown in the guts of a disused FBI-seized building
It'd be laughable, if it wasn't so sad. Jones and Peter interview him using a lie detector. He can't really figure out why; perhaps they think that because they've known him for a while he'll be thrown by the whole interrogating friends thing and make a rookie mistake. Maybe they really don't know how well his body is trained, right down to his internal reflexes. Whatever, it's not like they actually have any information unless he gives it to them.
"What color are your eyes?" Jones asks.
"Blue." Neal flicks his monitored fingers absentmindedly when Jones doesn't meet his glance.
"Are you a criminal consultant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation?" Jones says, clearly thinking outside the box on these control questions.
"Yes," he answers deliberately.
"Okay," Jones says. "For a baseline I'm gonna need you to tell a lie."
Neal can see Peter reacting physically to the very idea, wanting, needing to see Neal as he lies. He keeps his amusement internal, but lets his heartrate flutter a little, breath quickening. "I've never told a lie," he smarms, earnest eyebrows and fake smile matching his body's tells.
Jones is visibly relieved to have a significant reaction from the machine, looking up at Peter and releasing some of the tension in his shoulders. "Great! We've got our baseline," he reports to Peter, who's standing right next to him and can probably see that for himself quite nicely.
Neal doesn't mind that Jones is nervous though, it's good that the man's off his game a little - and quite likely he thought Caffrey would have no reaction at all, accomplished liar that he is. Challenging expectations has ever been the Caffrey MO.
"Ask him about the warehouse," Peter orders, like he can't bring himself to even talk to Neal.
Neal glances up at him, and the sense of disappointment he feels in Peter's lack of trust, lack of eye-contact, makes him huff out an unsatisfied breath as he looks off into the darkness of the warehouse. It's preferable to looking at Peter right now.
"Shortly before his death, you confronted Vincent Adler outside of a warehouse," Jones says, a wry tilt of his mouth as he asks the question: "What was in that warehouse?"
"A U-boat," Neal answers loudly, in case Peter thinks he's hiding things by being quiet, he leans back, body language open. "German. Recently dredged off the coast of New York State."
Peter rolls his eyes.
"And inside of that U-boat?" Jones prompts.
Neal flicks his eyes back to Jones, good manners prompting him to speak to the person asking the question. "A collection of art plundered by the Nazis."
"What happened?" Peter pours all his restraint into those two words.
"The warehouse burst into flames," Neal answers, his tone indicating you know this, Peter!
Peter visibly controls himself, walks round the table and pulls up a chair, leaning forward and glaring into Neal's face. "Did you steal the art?" he growls.
Neal meets his glare with his own expression, wounded self-righteousness, and doesn't blink. "No."
The needle wavers, but Neal doesn't care. This is a face-off between him and Peter, and this time he's not distracted by a woman.
"Do you know who did?" Peter pushes.
Neal lets a little you're clutching at straws seep through his façade accompanied by a smirk. "No."
"According to the readout, he's telling the truth." Jones' voice tries to interrupt their staring contest, but Neal's learned how to blink and win.
"It's two o'clock in the morning, Peter. Are you gonna keep me here all night?"
Peter chews the inside of his lip and nods aggressively. "Until I'm satisfied."
Neal would be more amused by that remark if this weren't such a inappropriate time for innuendo. He acquiesces with a small it's your party shrug.
"Next question," Peter says.
Peter lets him go by seven am. He can smell himself, a heady mixture of sweat and cordite not wholly dispersed by a quick rinse in the men's bathroom, but he doesn't want to go home just yet. He has an errand to run first.
He pops by to see Sara Ellis, lets her know he needs an alibi. She's pretty perceptive; a paradoxical mix of Mulder and Scully, she wants to believe him but can't forget who he is. He knows there's a devil in him that just wants to make her believe just once, but that'd break her so he dances around the edge and heads back to June's - the shower and his bed calling his name pretty loudly.
Mozzie's there, outside on the terrace; a cheap hula doll frozen in stillness on the table. Neal flicks her and she rattles, wiggling in poor imitation of Tanjore dolls.
"Her name is Lolana," Mozzie says, just adding another quirk to an already filled resumé of idiosyncrasies.
Neal plays it out. "She from any island in particular?"
"Whichever one your heart desires," Mozzie shrugs.
Neal huffs a laugh. "And she's visiting us because ..."
Mozzie half-turns in his seat, a small frown on his face. "Wait -"
Neal wanders out onto the terrace to find him holding two glasses and retrieves one, swallowing down champagne like it's lemonade. "I needed that!"
Mozzie stares at him. "You didn't take the treasure?" he asks.
"When was I supposed to be doing that?" Neal queries. "I know Peter has an overinflated view of my capabilities in this regard, but you, Moz? In my off-anklet hours this week I've been interrogated by the FBI last night, on Peter's couch the night before, and with Sara the night before that. In daylight activities, I was being kidnapped, drugged, forced to open a mined U-boat with an enigma variation, drugged again, tied up, almost blown up and then had a gun pointed at me, all before being accused of stealing by someone I thought was a friend."
"Aw crap," Mozzie sighs. "I went after the damn stuff myself, but I was too late. I thought for sure it was you. I got us a plane and everything."
"Sorry to dash your hopes," Neal says insincerely.
"Of course, it means your studio can have your paintings back," Mozzie says pragmatically, ignoring Neal's blank expression. "You can pretend they're as good as priceless stolen art, as they are now actually price-less stolen art."
"Thanks," Neal says drily. "What exactly were you going to do with my art?"
"Blow it up," Mozzie says, in the tone of a man who thinks the answer is obvious. "Arty stuff had to burn, Neal, or it'd look suspicious."
"Well, apparently it looks damn suspicious anyway, to Peter," Neal grumbles, another thought coming to him. "And did you think about what might have happened if all the fake art hadn't burned?"
"We'd have crossed that bridge when we came to it," Mozzie waves away the criticism before his glance alights on Lolana. "Oh dear, I'm going to have to go to Friday for a few days."
"What? Why? Wednesday too full of woe?" Neal says, thinking privately that his own Wednesday will be spent asleep.
"Definitely," Mozzie answers, with feeling. "And also, I'm not in the mood for loving and giving right now, and Friday makes me feel better."
"You keep girls at Friday?" Neal teases, as Mozzie tucks Lolana inside his jacket.
"Not everything fun has to be done with girls," Mozzie replies. "I'll see you when the wind changes, Neal."
"Okay, Moz," he answers, letting him make his own way to the door. "Sorry about the lack of islands in our near future."
"It's alright," Mozzie's voice drifts back up the stairs. "Success is determined by how you handle setbacks."
"Not the motivational quote calendar again!" Neal calls after him.
"IT'S INSPIRATIONAL! Oh hi, June, sorry, I was just -"
Neal closes the door and smiles, turning and leaning on it. "Hey little brother," he says softly.
"Hey big brother." His twin appears from the walk-in closet, identical mirth in his pale blue eyes.
"You expecting me to be proud of your little heist-splosion?" Neal asks, then grins. "Because I kind of am."
"Eh, by-product of a more vengeful goal," Bryce shrugs. "Adler coming out of hiding was too good an opportunity to pass up."
"I thought I told you he was mine?" Neal frowns, pushing off the wall.
"What's yours is mine," Bryce winks, insinuating himself in close for a brotherly hug, and withdrawing before Neal can land the inevitable brotherly headslap. "And frankly, I could've taken him out anytime in the last ten years, so count yourself lucky you were there for the finale."
"I'm going to count myself lucky you're here to make breakfast while I shower," Neal retorts. "Then I'm going to sleep, and we can do the rest of this discussion later. Along with apostrophe practise."
"You got boring," Bryce snarks, but he finds the omelette pan and heads for the fridge even as Neal slides into the bathroom.
Neal wakes up around three pm, head fuzzy with daylight sleeping and mouth tasting unpleasantly of stale coffee. He stumbles to the fridge to pour juice, and is halfway down the glass before he notices with bemused horror that his ankle is naked.
Oh no, please, no. He can't find his cell, but Bryce's is there on the table next to the laptop. He picks it up and calls his own number.
His wayward little brother picks up on the second ring. "Hey!"
"Neal!" Neal says softly, because he doesn't want anyone 'accidentally' overhearing the wrong name. "What the fucking fuck do you think you're fucking doing?"
Bryce laughs at him. "I'm busy today," he answers brightly. "Gotta lot of work on here. Just heading out to meet Mozzie right now, actually."
"No. No no no no." Neal can feel every no becoming more ineffectual. "What devil got into you?"
"You," Bryce answers pertly. "Mit Fußkettchen. What a fascinating man your Peter Burke is."
"I think you'll find you got into the anklet," Neal growls. "Please tell me you haven't screwed with Peter."
"Not yet," Bryce voice is light, and Neal can feel his heart race at the implication.
"Don't!" he says. "Don't. He's an FBI agent, for fuck's sake. And he's a good person -"
"He's keeping something from you," Bryce says shortly. "He was taunting me with his attitude earlier. Just so keen to bring you to your knees."
"He's not like that," Neal says hurriedly, aware, even as he says it, that Bryce isn't going to buy that. "He's just - he - I don't know, what happened this morning?"
"He threw a file about Gary Rydell at me," Bryce answers. "Wants you to take up the role again to catch an old connection, David Lawrence. Peter's a dangerous man though - loves to admire the genius just before he condemns the criminal. He's no good for you. Asked me what I'd do if I were one step away from pulling off the biggest score in my life. Asked if I could I let it go. Wait, I'll call you back, I can see Moz."
"You rarely let anything go," Neal says to the dial tone, staring at the cell for a moment before opening up the laptop.
Bryce had obviously hacked the tracking data and manipulated it; it doesn't show so much as a blip since Peter returned it to his ankle last night. He pulls up the locator page, seeing his own little dot wandering off round New York City, thankfully within his radius. He doesn't have a lot of options, with Bryce out there being him; he makes a light brunch, showers, drinks coffee and starts painting, because it's something constructive to do that eases filial stress and it fits in nicely between bouts of impotent frustration with sibling phone calls.
Bryce breezes back in just before six and smiles beatifically, strolling over to look at the splashes of paint on canvas. "You always were good," he remarks, but tugs Neal's arm away from continuing. "We have a problem. Mozzie was telling me he took a load of your art to the warehouse to swap, and now he can't find some pieces from the place he stashed them ... and the reason he can't find them is because I added them to the burning pile." Bryce throws him a wince, and Neal just closes his eyes.
"O - kay," Neal answers, breathing very calmly. "So this thing that Peter's got on me might be real evidence."
"Not for long," Bryce assures him with easy confidence. "But yeah, at the moment. Can we find out what he knows?"
"El might spill the details," Neal muses, "or Peter'll lock it away in his office."
"El seems easier," Bryce thinks aloud. "I'm quite enjoying being you. I'll do it again tomorrow, but I'm not sleeping in this thing." He crosses to the laptop and taps away for a few moments. In under a minute, the anklet is sitting quietly on the table, blinking greenly.
Neal glances across at him. "You don't think I'm going to get bored, you running around here being me?" he asks pointedly. "I might just run off and be you, and then where will you be?"
"Anywhere I like, bro. Caffrey'll be easy enough to ditch, and I think we've proved you can't hide from me ..." he smirks.
Neal pouts. "Milo Kavanovic took you a while, if I remember rightly."
"You went walkabout; no contact, off the grid," Bryce reminds patiently. "And I still caught you in three weeks!"
Neal gives in. "Fine. But explain to me why I can't be me tomorrow."
"I want to meet Peter's wife!" Bryce pulls out of the air.
Neal shakes his head, so Bryce has another go.
"I want to go fencing?" he offers.
Neal purses his lips with a bored air.
"I want to see what it is about the FBI that has you so turned around," he says finally. "I want to know why you like it so much."
"What? The consulting?" Neal asks. "Or the anklet and the constant suspicion?"
"You wouldn't have stayed if you didn't like something," Bryce pointed out. "Although, I'm tempted to say you stayed for the wardrobe."
"Oh, bite me," Neal snarks. "Are you seriously saying this isn't about Lawrence and Columbia?"
Bryce frowns. "No. I'd have told you if it was that. He wouldn't even recognise me from that mission."
"Right, but you're including Mozzie in this - he'll be a good wingman for you. And you're not going anywhere without comms and a cam."
Neal doesn't find sitting in the van to be much fun at the best of times, but even from June's, listening to his brother quip and sally his way through his day when he could be doing it is akin to torture.
Bryce amuses himself as they take his anklet off, and Neal sighs, because he can hear Bryce not being him. When he's with David Lawrence he listens more to the repartee, but "That was my tie!" kind of throws him off.
"That was my tie?" he queries, catching sight of a bit of purple material flying toward the window. "That was my tie? You are in so much trouble."
Neal hasn't forgotten the tie incident a moment later when Bryce is in close and winning the bout with Gary's signature move.
"Cocky bastard," he tells his brother roundly. "Trying to be a better me than I am?"
Bryce, wisely, doesn't answer.
On the way back to Federal Plaza, there's not a lot of talk that isn't Bryce pushing for Peter to take him home to shower and change and Peter shooting him down, but finally they get back up to the twenty-first floor.
Bryce pushes the door open, complaining. "It is cruel and unusual punishment for you to bring me back here like this."
"Yes," Peter rejoins. "But I'm finally smiling. What's your plan for moving Lawrence's money?"
Because I live to make you smile, Neal thinks, but he's not giving Bryce food for thought. All he says to Bryce is, "I've got spare ties in the second drawer down."
"Take it out by boat," Bryce says, injecting the obviously through tone alone.
"Why a boat?" Diana asks.
Bryce launches into a show and tell, minus the show, on smuggling by sea, to entertain and inform Diana and Peter. Neal can only see the ties Bryce's hands are worrying through, but he can hear Diana's friendliness in her voice, and guesses he made an accurate assessment of her earlier, even if she doesn't know he's not himself.
"Plain red, or blue," he advises, as Bryce fingers a few, picking up a couple.
"Blue," Diana says, and Neal enjoys a small thrill of approval.
"I've driven you to dumpster dive?" Bryce's voice is unimpressed and cold, but he doesn't turn, so Neal can't see what he's remarking on.
Peter sounds smug as he walks away. "A souvenir of Neal Caffrey's imperfect moment? Priceless."
"Nice guy," Bryce mutters. "Taking a fucking trophy? You'd think he'd cut it!"
Bryce heads out soon after when Peter's busy, going home to shower and change. Neal points him to a toasted sandwich and gives him Peter's address when he's changed. It's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission, of course, and Neal experiences a thrill of anticipation as the cab starts turning into Peter's road. Will she notice a difference?
Bryce runs up the steps and raps smartly on the door.
Elizabeth answers, looking beautiful but guarded a few moments later. "Hey, Neal."
"Hey," Bryce answers.
"Peter's not here," she says, evidently still wondering why he's there.
"I know. I wanted to see you." He shrugs when she blinks in surprise, and the tiny camera moves with the movement. "I was hoping we could talk."
She takes a step back and turns. "Come on in."
"Thanks," Bryce follows her, shutting the door quietly.
"You - uh - want some coffee?" she asks, closing a book she was evidently reading and placing it underneath a pile of mail on a glass side table.
"Subtle," Neal groans as Bryce's cam takes in the whole scene.
"I never say no to good coffee," Bryce replies.
"Okay. Well, then, why don't I pour?" Elizabeth fetches some mugs. "And you tell me why you dropped by knowing my husband's not here."
"Thus the feminine mind," Neal muses in Bryce's ear. "Waiting for the lie. Tell her you're after her body. Maybe get her to call Peter."
"Hmmm," Bryce murmurs, and Neal can hear his smile. "I don't know. He suddenly doesn't trust me."
"That works," Neal approves, watching Elizabeth's expression.
"I don't know how sudden it is." Elizabeth says sardonically. "Breaking out of prison, stealing the music box, almost shooting Fowler. You want me to go on?"
"Not particularly, no," Bryce says, taking a slug of coffee.
"You can take a picture under the table," Neal interrupts. "Distract her."
"Look, he wants to trust you," Elizabeth is earnest and amused. "But you have this - I don't know - habit of doing the wrong thing for the right reasons."
"You're saying I'm impulsive but I have a good heart?"
"Oh she didn't buy that. Also, hello distraction?"
"Maybe you can try and balance the two?" she pulls a face at him, half coaxing, half exasperation.
Bryce lets her have the win. "You make a fair point. And a great cup of coffee. But I like a little bit of milk in mine."
"Yes." Her wide smile is almost guilty, and Neal wonders if she was deliberately testing him.
Bryce is quick on his feet, camera already set up, sliding it under the table and taking a photo of the front cover, before returning to the counter.
"Okay." Elizabeth returns with a small jug. "Tell me when."
"When," he says after a moment, then raises his mug. "To the right things, for the right reasons."
Elizabeth clinks his mug with a smile, but it's secretive, and Neal guesses she thinks she got away with her little deception.
Bryce returns not long later with a copy of Modernist Painting: The rise of steel and glass.
"Picked up a copy on the way home," Bryce says. "No doubt you'll see a connection."
"Thanks," Neal, flicking through it until he comes to a recent project of his. "This has to be it."
Bryce leans over his shoulder, warmth seeping through his shirt into Neal's back. "The Chrysler Building?"
"Yeah," Neal answers, thinking furiously. "Peter was here the night before the fire. This painting was on that easel. Was this one of the ones you toasted?"
"What if it didn't burn?" Neal isn't quite wild, but it's only because his brother is here, grounding him.
"If he had it, we'd be escaping federal custody and fleeing the country already," Bryce notes pragmatically.
"No. I know him. He'd want to be sure." Neal likes having something concrete to do when he's worried. "I gotta call Moz."
"You do that," Bryce says, heading for the door. "I gotta go and be you some more."
"Mozzie!" Neal practically yells when the man picks up. "I need your help - went to see Elizabeth and think it's the Chrysler painting they've found. Need to know what they've got, but Peter's on my ass and I've got to go back to the office."
"Won't the feds be testing it?" Mozzie asks. "If they've got -"
"If the Bureau'd run the tests, he'd have the results by now," Neal interrupts.
"He doesn't want the FBI involved!" Mozzie surmises.
"He doesn't want it on the record!" Neal can't keep the hopeful tone out of his voice.
"To protect me!" Neal feels good about his assumption for a couple of seconds.
"Or - to protect himself," Mozzie says, bringing reality sharply into focus. "Who else could test it for him?"
"Elizabeth?" Neal offers. "She comes from an art background."
"I should keep an eye on her," Mozzie's amusement sounds rich on the phone. Friday has obviously been good to him.
"It's worth a shot, Haversham." Neal grins, and cuts the connection.
Peter's not best pleased to have had a wayward Caffrey dancing about all over town. Bryce performs his role with Lawrence, but Peter's got a bee in his bonnet about knowing where he is.
"You are to check in every two hours on the hour. You go from home to the office, and that's it."
"I know the drill," Bryce responds, evidently bored.
But Peter wants to drive the message home. "You're not off anklet for good behavior!"
Bryce struggles to retain his composure being treated like a child, leans back and breathes. Mostly because Neal is saying in his ear, "Don't worry about it, he's always like this. Unclench your fists and take them out of your pockets and pretend you're interested."
"After Lawrence gets you to his money, take him to the harbor," Peter reminds him.
Neal assumes that for his brother, the ex-CIA operative, being told how to conduct a covert mission is a little galling. "We've been over this. Anything else?"
Peter doesn't take the hint. "Yeah. What's step three?"
"Step three is you arrest him." Bryce pours a portion of scornflakes on the conversation.
"Oh. Good thing you didn't tell him."
Neal can't help it, he pulls the comm away from his mouth and guffaws until he can breathe again.
"I thought you might like that," Bryce's comment is just for Neal.
"Hmm." Peter is not a subtle man. "Heard you talked to El."
Bryce's tone suddenly changes. "Look, Peter, whatever you think I have done, you and me - Hey, we're on the same team."
Neal is wholly offended.
Neal’s phone suddenly rings and Bryce looks mildly surprised. "May I?"
"Yes. Get out!"
"Thank you. Talk to you in two hours. And two hours after that."
"That's what I like to hear," Agent Burke responds in Peter's voice.
"Hey, Moz," Bryce answers, switching so Neal can hear too.
"Our hunch may be correct. Mrs Suit is chatting up her old boss at the DeArmitt Gallery."
"What'd she say?"
"Oh, what a spring we're having. Blah blah blah. Oh, she's asking him about a lab test. Oh! Sh-she's giving him a scrap of burnt painting,"
"Is it mine?" Bryce asks for Neal.
"Oh, sweet Elvis Costello! It's your Chrysler painting!"
"It didn't burn," Bryce breathes, looking around to see if anyone's watching him.
"Flame is a fickle mistress," Mozzie says. "We're gonna have to steal it."
"No no no no!" Neal chants in Bryce's ear. "Swap it!"
"No. No, no, no, no. Peter will suspect me. Let them run the tests. We'll swap it out."
Bryce gathers his things up, looking around again. Peter and Jones are looking at paperwork, but it feels odd.
"Risky but not impossible," Mozzie muses aloud. "We need a swatch of canvas and some paints from the 1930s."
"Tell him there's a guy I know can get him into Christie's storage on 49th, no questions asked," Neal says urgently.
Bryce blinks and heads for the door. "Hang on, Moz. Las paredes tienen oídos. Let me give you a call in a min."
"I'll be me for this bit of the game," Neal interjects in Bryce's ear. "And you can be the invisible man. Come back."
Neal's barely got himself settled with a new canvas when Bryce talks in his ear.
"Jones really thinks he looks like a homeboy when he takes off the suit, doesn't he?"
Neal laughs, "Yeah, he's a hood with a heart of gold. You getting back here anytime soon?"
"Yeah, just gonna ring Moz back and tell him I won't be making it - anything you want him to know?"
"He's scraping for paint; tell him to pull the primaries, and a Monestial blue. I'll mix the rest."
"Roger, roger," Bryce signs off with a robotic voice and Neal just rolls his eyes as he goes back to priming the canvas for another Chrysler interpretation.
Bryce comes back before Mozzie arrives and esconces himself safely in the secret room when they hear the door downstairs.
Mozzie walks in on Neal painting, and if he's surprised by how much Neal's done, he doesn't show it. "Practising?"
"Yeah, I figured I should have a copy of the Chrysler lying around in case Peter came looking for it," Neal answers "You get everything?"
"Some canvas and a spectrum of pre-war paint that would pass any Wood's light or IR spectroscopy they want to throw at it." Mozzie preens before showing him his prize: "The red is from Femme assise, robe bleue."
Neal's impressed, no doubt as Mozzie intended. "The last person to mix this paint was Picasso. We're taking from masters."
"Oh, Picasso was a communist," Mozzie dismisses. "He'd be happy to share."
"What's the plan for the gallery?" Neal prompts, and then Mozzie's off, spilling timings and details excitedly, as if they're pulling a heist, not getting Neal out of trouble. The man knows how to plan though, and Neal lets him control the running of it, offering up June's granddaughter as an accomplice without the flicker of an eyelash.
Neal doesn't technically have to lose his tail, with two of him around to confuse the FBI, but he's nothing if not a showman, and for that, Magritte is excellent inspiration, especially when Neal so rarely gets to be faceless.
Bryce knows more about internet communication than he does, so Neal allows him to place the ad online.
"I swear to you, brother or not, you'll regret it if I get a flash mob performing Singin' in the rain," Neal warns him, as Bryce appears to be using a million more keystrokes than he needs to.
Bryce just grins, so Neal paints a stripe of white from cheek to cheek across his nose.
"Yeah, yeah," Bryce whines, wrinkling his nose. "I'm delivering already."
The following day, Neal's in a dark Burberry suit and white Charvet shirt, teamed with a Brioni tie and John Lobb shoes. Bryce sends him off after he's cloned his cell, but if Neal knows anything, Bryce will be patrolling the streets nearby like a caged tiger until the deed is done, just in case they need rescuing. It's cute, if unflattering.
Jones follows him down the street, and while it's wet, it's not pouring. Neal doesn't put up his umbrella until he enters the park and then Jones has more potential Caffreys than he needs.
Neal calls Mozzie. "Okay, Moz. You're up." And then the plan rolls into action.
Neal's been working for a good twenty minutes when his cell buzzes quietly. He pulls it up to his ear, trying to keep working.
Peter's angry voice crawls through the speaker. "You gave Jones a nice run-around."
"It was Jones?" Neal tries to disguise the fact that he's talking quietly. "I thought that could have been Lawrence. I didn't want to blow my cover."
"Mh-hmm." He imagines Peter is grimacing into the cell right now.
"Why d'you put Jones on me?" he asks, totally innocent.
"You really want me to answer that?" Agent Burke responds, stern and humourless. "You at home?"
"Where else would I be?" Neal says.
"What are you doing?"
"You know, arts and crafts. The usual," Neal says, applying another layer of ochre.
"Jones will be at your place in twenty minutes. He's gonna stay on you. You're gonna let him," Peter orders.
"No problem," Neal answers.
"You have one fucked-up relationship with your handler," Bryce observes in his ear. "Is it always like this?"
"Well, he doesn't usually suspect me of stealing billions of dollars worth of Nazi loot, so no," Neal says softly. "But if you mean the whole Where are you? What are you doing? How? Why? and Who with? then yes, he's always like this."
"I didn't know you had such a thing for being dominated," Bryce chuckles, secure in the knowledge that he's not close enough to suffer.
"Oh hush. Get back to June's already and open up the cellar door for me, I'll only be about ten minutes behind you."
Neal's already in the old tunnel when he hears Mozzie talking to Bryce. "You know Jones is outside, right?"
"Yeah, I know. Thanks for the help, Moz."
"Don't mention it," Mozzie says. "A problem shared, and all that!"
Neal climbs in through the tiny doorway and bolts it closed again, moving the old caskets back to their original position. He gives the place a once-over with a brush to move the dust about, and heads upstairs without his shoes on.
"Coming up," he whispers.
Bryce coaxes Mozzie out onto the terrace with a drink, so Neal can steal into his own apartment. It's while he's changing that the call from Lawrence comes in, and then Bryce takes point, heading out to Gramercy and calling Peter, while Mozzie goes about his own business.
With Jones out following Bryce, Neal's his own man again, but with the operation underway he can't relax. It's just as well, because Jones-the-exceptional-undercover-operative gets himself caught, and Lawrence wants to kill Jones, baulks at the whole mission and won't entertain leaving by ship.
"Fuckity fuck fuck," Neal says, dialling Mozzie and cutting the connection immediately. It's better if it comes from Bryce. "Hey, tell him you've got a plane, then ring Mozzie and he'll sort it."
He won't be pleased, but he'll sort it. Neal has faith in his friend.
The conversation with Mozzie goes as well as can be expected.
"Pack of wolves!" Lawrence raves, clocking Jones round the head. "They probably know about the dock. The whole thing is blown. Kill him. Dump the body."
"No - stop him!" Neal commands.
"W-w-wait a second," Bryce interjects. "This guy is useless dead. Alive, he's leverage."
Lawrence looks back at him blankly. "For what?"
Bryce smirks. "You forgot step three. Attaque compos'ee - feint left, thrust right."
Lawrence frowns, but he's listening now. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about a backup plan," Bryce says confidently, already dialling Mozzie. "When it all goes to hell, this is why you hire me ... I've got a plane."
"Hey, Neal - long time, no see," Mozzie answers.
Bryce puts on his most professional voice. "I'm here with the client. We're putting step three into effect."
"Er, what?" Mozzie is already fumbling for something in the background, Neal can hear it.
"The client and I are moving the cargo to the airstrip." Bryce informs him.
"Client?" Mozzie says. "Don't tell me you're talking about Lawrence. And the airstrip? Neal, I cancelled the plane!"
"That's right," Bryce says calmly.
"No no no no!" Mozzie wails down the phone. "Unless we're going with him to spend that sixty million?"
"Make sure it's gassed up and good to go." Bryce softens his voice. "All right? Grab your suit and meet me there."
"No suits!" is the last thing Neal hears before the connection is cut.
The actual arrest goes off without a hitch, mainly because for a small eccentric man, Mozzie has mad skills in getting what he wants, though Neal is going to owe him big for this. Possibly island big.
Bryce is getting bored with the lack of action though, and Neal can feel that the decision to ditch Caffrey or not is going to have to be made soon. Nevertheless, for Neal, it feels like an age since he's actually seen Peter face-to-face. To come across him snooping through his apartment, looking at the Chrysler painting, brings mixed feelings. He might have conned Peter this week, but the man doesn't trust him as far as he can throw him. And as he can throw him back in jail, that's a consideration.
Neal steps quietly through the door Peter left open and waits a beat.
"Hi, Peter," he says, face politely blank, eyebrows raised in faint remonstrance.
Peter's head whips round fast, and he stands up slowly; guilty and sheepish. "I let myself in."
"Yeah," Neal says, unable to stop the incredulous expression that he can feel passing across his face. "Yeah, you did." He forces himself to walk across the room and appear normal, dropping his jacket over the back of a chair. "Just clearing out some space for storage," he says putting his hands in his pockets, totally at ease. "You like that one?"
"Yeah," Peter says, not really knowing what to do with the painting now he's picked it up.
"You can have it," he offers Peter an olive branch and a sharp smile. "I've already got the view."
Peter smiles, perhaps acknowledging he's been beaten, but unable to confirm his suspicions. He does, however, ruin his cover by putting the painting back on the easel.
"I'm calling a truce," he says, mirroring Neal's stance. "I may have rushed to judgment."
Neal isn't impressed. "Oh, you had judgment on speed dial."
"I'm trying to be gracious," Peter says, but there's a warning in there somewhere and Neal isn't unaware of it.
"You kept," Neal makes a slicing motion with his hand, "my severed tie."
"I was pretty pissed off," Peter answers.
And that makes it alright? "And now?"
"Look at this. I'm smiling again."
Because of course, it's my job to make you smile, Neal sighs. "I like it," he lies.
Peter's cell beeps a text message and he looks at it briefly.
"I got to go."
"Okay." Neal waits a beat then decides to drive the knife in. "Peter ..."
He turns. "Hmm?"
Neal smiles wide and fake. "Door's open - anytime."
He can't tell if Peter gets the message or not. The man just says, "Thanks," and closes the door behind him.
Bryce comes in a moment later and just looks at Neal.
"Alright," Neal says, clasping Bryce's hand. "Let's go."