Neal walked into work one morning with four year old, Ellen, in tow. Peter was standing near the door looking at a file when he saw them.
“Hey, Mozzie’s can't watch her today so,”
“It's okay.” Peter bent down to the girl, “Hey, Ellen!”
She smiled and waved with her bear Mozart in her hands, “Hi!” She adjusted the small pink backpack on her back.
Peter stood back up and told Neal, “We can bring a chair near your desk or something. Also, I’m briefing everyone in 10 minutes about our newest case.”
“...The gems were stolen right from the case in front of everyone, yet not only did the thief get away but they still aren't identified.” Peter briefed the room on a new case of a gem heist at a downtown museum.
“How did they do it in front of hundreds of people and still not get caught?” Diana asked sitting at the conference table
“It’s not that hard.” Neal commented across the table, “It’s mostly about subtlety and distraction.” He turned his head to Peter, “Peter, what’s the most valuable thing in your office?”
“My Metal of Honor. Why?”
“I bet you I can steal that by the end of the day.”
Peter was very interested now, “Oh really?”
“What if you don’t have it by the end of the day?”
“Then I’ll work the next four weekends.”
“And if you do?”
“Then you do all of my paperwork for the next two weeks.”
Peter thought for a second, before he could respond Jones piped up, “If you want to make it more interesting it should be a race. Whoever has it at the end of the day wins.”
Peter and Neal were very interested in that and wondered how they never thought of that. Diana gave Jones a look at said, don't condone this.
Neal brought up, “Well if it’s a race then it should be stolen from somewhere else. Like the middle of the office.”
Peter nodded, “Sounds reasonable.”
“How about a lockbox in the center of the office. To make it fair, it can be a simple one that even you can get open with no key.”
Peter raised his eyebrows, “Excuse me?”
“Well you don’t exactly have a criminal’s skill set. You’ve never even stolen anything. I’m clearly at an advantage here.”
Peter huffed, “I know how they act, what they do, how they do it.”
“Then why do I work here?” Neal shot back with a satisfied smile and leaned back in his chair.
Peter gave bitchface and retorted, “When was the last time you planned a heist?”
“That doesn’t count. It was for a sting and you had Bureau and Mozzie’s help, which is off limits by the way.” He teased, “Maybe you’re getting rusty.”
Neal scoffed, “I think you’re the one who’s getting rusty. If how often you need my help and how often I’ve been solving cases before you are any indication.”
Peter looked at Neal who got up and offered Peter a handshake and Peter returned it. “Game on.”
They picked partners Diana was on Neal’s team and Jones was on Peter’s. They put the plaque with the metal in a lockbox and put it in the center of the office.
Jones and Peter went into his office. Peter sat down and Jones stood on the other end of the desk.
“So do you have a plan?”
“Yes,” Peter said, voice fierce, “We are going to bring. Him. Down. ”
Jones tried not chuckle at how serious he was being about this and Peter noticed.
“Don’t laugh. This isn't a joke. I need to win. I need to beat him.”
For them it was all about proving who’s smarter.
Diana and Neal were at his desk. Ellen was sitting next to him drawing on some printer paper and Neal was watching her while talking to Diana. “We’re going to need a hiding place and a distraction.”
Diana got an idea, “What about Ellen as a distraction?”
Neal gave her a look of daggers, “I’m not using my kid as part of a heist.”
Diana nodded, “Okay, I’m just saying it would be a good distraction.”
As the day went on absolutely no work was getting done. The first few hours of the day were spent planning and making sure the other didn’t see what they were planning. The bet was the talk of the office. Other agents were curious who was going to win and even started a betting pool.
They had the odds of Neal winning 5 to 1.
Only the real risky or kiss ass agents were betting on Peter.
Around lunch a pizza guy came into the office, “Pizza for Peter Burke.” Peter had been keeping watch over the bullpen from outside and inside his office. He was immediately suspicious about a pizza that no one ordered.
He immediately went over to Jones and demanded, “Guard the box.”
“Got it.” He immediately walked down to the box.
Diana said was standing nearby, “So they’re taking this pretty seriously.”
“Yep.” Diana said, looking straight ahead, “The pool has Caffrey winning 5:1.”
“Don’t count Peter out.”
Another pizza man came in, “Pizza for Peter Burke.” Jones gave her a look. More pizza men came in, until there were about two dozen confused pizza men.
Peter knew that Neal organized this and he also didn’t see Neal anywhere. “JONES! THE BOX!”
He muttered to himself, “He wanted me to know when he got it...or it’s a great bluff.”
Peter, Jones, and Diana wondered through the crowd of confused pizza guys. They soon cleared and Neal was standing behind his desk.
Neal smiled back, “What do you mean?”
“You ordered all those pizzas.”
“Come on, Peter, big shows aren’t my style.” Peter picked up the box. Neal remarked, “Yeah check the box.”
He opened the box and nothing was there.
“Your move.” Neal gave him a satisfied smile. Since Peter was not going to take his eyes off the box Neal thought that chaos and confusion would be the best conditions to steal it under.
Peter started back towards his office and motioned for Jones to follow.
Peter sat down with a smile.
“You’re smiling, but Caffrey has the plaque.” It then came to him, “But that’s what you wanted.”
“I know Neal better than he knows himself. I knew he would try something first. By him making the first move it’s easier for me to get the plaque when it’s not sitting in the middle of the office.”
Jones was impressed, “You used Caffrey to move the plaque. Where do you think he moved it?”
Jones was surprised he knew. “How?”
“He wasn’t there during the pizza chaos but he was when it ended. So he left, but somewhere close. Really close. I’m looking at the elevator camera footage and he gets off on Evidence Storage.”
“So he’d be on video there.”
“No, he’s not that stupid. He avoided the camera.”
Jones was in a confused shock, “H-h-how?”
“He’s Neal, but I know it’s up there. Send a probie up to get it and put it in the spot we discussed.”
“Got it.” And Jones left the office.
Neal told Diana, “I’m going to check the plaque.”
“How many times are you going to sneak into evidence today? How the hell do you even know how to do that?”
“You don’t wanna know.” Neal responded innocently before leaving.
When he came back she asked discreetly, “So?”
“It’s gone.” Neal sat down and turned his attention to his child who was sitting at the desk drawing.
“Peter must have found it somehow. I knew he’d find it. Now we have to get it back.”
Peter continued to watch the bullpen, knowing he now held the plaque. He noticed Ellen coming up to his office.
“Hi Uncl’ Peter!”
“Whatca doin’?” Ellen asked as she came around his desk.
“Someone took something and I’ve trying to get it back.”
“Oh okay. Taking things is bad.”
Peter chuckled, “Yeah, it is.” He had the thought as soon as she came in his office, ‘ Did Neal put her up to his? Would he use his kid as interference?’ “Did your Daddy send you here?”
Ellen shook her head, “Nope. I’m bored. Daddy’s too busy to play.” She pointed out into the bullpen where he and Diana were talking.
“He’s just working. It’s okay.” Peter then got an idea and wondered if it was a little too devious...but he did it anyway, “Hey, do you want to play a game?”
Ellen perked up, “Yah!”
“How about hide and seek?” Peter asked with a smile, she nodded, “Okay, go hide. Hide really well, okay. Just stay on this floor. No using the stairs or elevator. Got it?”
“Got it!” She gave him a thumbs up and ran off.
Shortly after Ellen left Peter’s office Neal and Diana disbanded to start their plan and he immediately noticed that Ellen was nowhere to be found. Under normal circumstances he would go into a panic attack...but he knew exactly what happened.
He stormed up to Peter’s office, “You ass!”
Peter played innocent, “What?”
“You’re trying to distract me by using my child against me.” Neal was pretty irritated.
“She came up here because she was bored so I suggested that we play hide and seek...I haven’t found her yet.” Neal gave him a death glare, “You know, she really takes after you. She’s very good at hiding.” He gave Neal a satisfied smile. “You only have,” He looked at his watch, “Three hours to find the metal after you find Ellen.”
"I'm going to win and you know it."
"Don't be too sure about that, Neal." Peter leaned back in his chair with a smile.
Neal stormed out and met with Diana outside the interrogation rooms where he explained what happened. “...He knew this would be the only thing to take me out for a while and waste time until the end of the day.”
“Sounds like he seized an opportunity. Toddlers run off. It’s what they do.”
“In this bet, he’s still an ass. Go find the plaque. I’m going to find my daughter.”
So Neal spent the better part of the afternoon looking for Ellen. He later found her in a rather large cabinet in the storage room on the floor. The plaque changed hands another two times before four that afternoon when Neal had it again and was hiding it in his desk.
Neal was sitting at his desk, just waiting until the end of the day. He only had to keep the plaque another hour to win. He wanted to defeat Peter more than anything , just so he could say he did it. All they wanted to do was defeat each other.
Ellen, being the curious child she is, was playing with the drawers in Neal’s desk. Neal unlocked the bottom drawer where the metal was and put some files on top of it. Ellen saw the metal and got curious, “What’s dat?”
“It’s an award.”
She went to pick it up to look at it. Neal went to stop her, “No no no. It has to stay in there for now.”
She looked up at him confused, “Why?”
“Because it has to stay hidden for a game.”
Ellen looked interested, “A game? Can I play?”
Neal chuckled, “I’m sorry, sweetie. Maybe we can play another game.” Ellen gave him an overdramatic frown and turned back to her pink backpack with some toys in it. Before Neal could relock the drawer he was called away by another agent.
He came back a few minutes later and quickly noticed that his bottom drawer was slightly opened. He sighed and opened it, “Damn it.” The plaque wasn’t there anymore. He knew that Peter must have stolen it again and the other agent was a distraction.
He called Diana over and updated her. They had under an hour to find and take the plaque again.
When five o’clock rolled around Peter slowly walked to Neal’s desk. “It’s the end of the day, Neal.”
Neal looked up and smiled, “Yes it is.”
Peter crossed his arms in annoyance, “So let’s get this over with. You won, you bested me. You happy?”
Neal immediately realized, ‘ He doesn’t have it. He thinks I have it. So if neither of us has it, then who does?’ But Neal went with it, “Of course I was able to best you. I am smarter than you.” He gave an annoying smile, “It’s okay though. It’s only natural to get rusty with age.”
Peter death glared at him. “Can I have the metal back now so I can go home?”
Neal thought, ‘ Shit...I don’t have it.’ Before Neal could try to talk his way out of it Diana admitted,
“We don’t have it. We thought you did.” Peter was confused
“So if neither of us has it, then who does?”
“I don’t know.” Peter took a hard look at Neal, trying to see if he was lying or not. He didn’t think Neal was lying.
“When did you last see it?”
“Probably an hour ago. It was in my desk.”
So they looked around the office and asked around. After a while of searching they decided to go home and pick it up in the morning. They figured it had to be in the office somewhere, even though no one in the office knew where it was.
Neal told Ellen, “Ellen, grab you bag, we’re going home.”
“Okay!” She was happy to go home. She grabbed her small backpack and her stuffed bear, Mozart. The bag wasn’t zipped close so when she picked it up the front flap fell down revealing the small amount of contents inside.
“Uh-oh.” Ellen said and put it down so she could try to zip it. Neal turned around and immediately thought, ‘ Noo. It can’t be.’
“Ellen, what’s you got there?”
“My stuff.” She replied while she zipped the bag.
“Can I see it real quick?”
She was confused but she handed him the backpack with her two small hands. He opened it and sighed in defeat.
“Peter, I found it.”
Peter was behind him, ready to leave, they were going to walk out together. “What?”
Neal pulled the Metal of Honor plaque from the kid sized backpack and showed it to Peter. Neal had an embarrassed look of defeat on his face.
Peter’s jaw slightly opened in shock, “You’ve got to be kidding me?”
Neal kneeled down and asked her, “Ellen, where did you get this?”
She pointed innocently to Neal’s desk. “You said I can’t play in your game where you hide the ‘ward. I was mad. So I took it so I can play.”
Neal rubbed the bridge of his nose and sighed. By now the few left, including Jones and Diana, were listening and trying not to laugh.
Jones said, trying not to laugh, “I didn’t see that coming. She’s exactly like you, Caffrey.”
Diana added with her hand slightly over her mouth, trying to hide laughter, “If she’s like you, you’re going to have problems with her. Good luck.”
“You’re both getting rusty. You were beaten by the next generation.” Jones commented
Peter took the plaque from Neal and brought up a semi-related point, “...So who actually won this?”
“Well, she’s my kid so I say I win by default.” Neal gave a smile.
Peter shook his head, “No no no. You can’t win ‘by default.’ No.”
Ellen piped up, “I win!”
Everyone chuckled, Neal bent down and picked her up with a smile, “Yeah. You win.” She cheered.
Peter smiled but said determined, “You know what this means. Rematch.”
“Oh you’re on. And I’m going to win this time.”
“Don’t be too sure about that.” They smiled and left the office.