Peter turned on the White Collar Unit office's lights on his way in, and as he passed the kitchen area cursed the fact that there was no coffee made. He was the first one in this morning, which wasn't really surprising, as he'd gotten up and headed into the office especially early today. He'd told Caffrey to meet him first thing, and he wanted to be ready to hit the ground running when Neal showed up. And anyway he couldn't sleep, anxious to find the murderous Matthew Keller before the Russian mob did, and take him down. Put him away for good, Peter grumbled to himself, if only they could figure out a way to get enough evidence to do so, and keep him from slipping through their net once again.
As his office computer was booting up, Peter glanced through the FBI file on Keller yet again, hoping to find something, anything useful that he'd missed the first dozen times. Studying it, he remembered how Neal had called Keller the blue-collar version of him, and well, yeah, in some ways they were alike. They were both Renaissance criminals, so to speak, dabbling in lots of different areas of criminal activity, in some cases the same criminal activities. They were both very good at what they did, going for long periods of time without being caught (never, in Keller's case).
But on the other hand, they were nothing alike. Neal would never murder someone in a hit-and-run, and he'd never be stupid enough to get into bed with the Russians. Keller was more the anti-Caffrey, the Bizarro Neal. And Peter wanted him, badly. He sighed and put the file down. There was nothing new in there, which he knew all along, but he just had to look.
Peter turned to his computer, since it was up now, to check his mail. He was surprised to find a message from the U.S. Marshal's Electronic Monitoring Compliance Unit about Neal. They sent him e-mail instead of calling if it wasn't urgent, but he hadn't had mail from them in a while, months, he thought it probably was. Peter shrugged and opened it up to check it out. Probably nothing important, maybe the tracker needed its ten thousand mile tune-up. Once he got it open, though, he was a bit surprised by what it said.
It was a notice informing Agent Peter Burke that Neal Caffrey, detention tracking anklet 93-05-alpha, had stepped outside his tracker's assigned radius for 5 seconds last night on Water Street at exactly 8:02PM.
Not that there was anything unusual about that notice, really. Peter used to get them all the time. After all, the tracker didn't warn the bearer that he was approaching his radius, so you only knew where it was exactly after you'd passed it and the tracker started beeping and flashing a yellow light. The Marshals knew this and set it up so that the detainee had fifteen seconds to get back into range before they sounded the alarm (which in Neal's case meant calling Peter, or if they couldn't get him, calling the White Collar offices, or if all else failed, notifying the NYPD). It was sort of a gray area, where he was out of his radius, but there was no alarm (yet).
If Neal did get back into range during the grace period, the EMCU just e-mailed Peter to let him know. Back at the beginning, for the first few weeks, every day when Peter got into the office he'd have one (or more) of these notices. And when he'd check the anklet's map for the previous day, he'd see where Neal had stepped out. He rarely had to ask Neal what he was up to, as generally it was obvious, based on where he was. The instances had dropped off noticeably after the first few weeks. Peter had figured that Neal by then had mapped out exactly where the radius was in all the places he frequented, so he knew where he could go and where he couldn't.
This one piqued Peter's curiosity, though. He was unfamiliar with Water Street, what was there or why Neal would be there at eight o'clock at night. Just as he was starting to bring up an online map of New York City to search for it, there was a knock at his door. He looked up to see Jones standing there, holding out a folder.
"Agent Burke," Jones said, handing Peter the folder. "This just came from Weatherby's. They received the Franklin bottle this morning and sent this over."
Peter took the folder and glanced at it. 1785 Chateau Du Munn champagne. Pictured included. "Thank you, Jones."
Jones nodded and was about to leave when Peter stopped him. "Oh, hey, Jones, are you familiar with Water Street? Caffrey went there last night, and I don't know what's there."
Jones shrugged. "There's nothing there. The entire thing is under construction. Some kind of urban renewal or something."
"Construction, huh? Thanks. And thanks for coming in early." Jones gave Peter a little smile and left.
Peter frowned. Now why would Neal go to a construction site at night? Peter's instincts were telling him that Neal was up to no good, so he pulled up the anklet's map for yesterday. (Over the months, he'd gotten out of the habit of checking it every day, but now he was thinking maybe he should start again.) Yup, there it was, in yellow on the map. The map showed green when Neal was within his radius, yellow when he was in the gray area, and red if the anklet was cut or Neal was out of his radius past the grace period. Peter ran the tracking data in real time to see how long he was there. Huh, three and a half minutes or so (stepping over the line for the specified five seconds part-way through), then he left. What the hell was he doing for three and a half minutes at a construction site at eight o'clock last night?
Wait a minute, Peter thought. He talked to Neal last night, must have been around eight. Now that he thought back on it, did Neal sound a little off when he said he hadn't gotten any information on Keller? Maybe he did. God, if Neal met with Keller last night... Peter steamed. He couldn't wait for Neal to show up so he could give him what-for.
When Neal did show up (on time, at least that was something), he headed straight for Peter's office. Peter didn't even give him a chance to settle before he started in.
"What were you doing on Water Street last night?"
Neal froze for a second, then tried to cover by acting nonchalant and giving Peter one of his brilliant smiles. "Checking my anklet again, Peter?"
Peter scowled. "You stepped outside your radius. They tell me about these things."
Neal's smile faltered and he tensed up. "And I stepped right back inside. I thought I had fifteen seconds –"
Peter interrupted. "You did. You do. That's not the issue. What were you doing there for three minutes? Please don't tell me you were meeting with Keller."
Neal opened his mouth, then closed it again without saying anything. For Peter, that was as good as an admission.
"You saw Keller."
"Damn it, Neal..."