Title: The Dream Becomes the Man - Part Six of Six
Notes: See Master Post
It was almost dawn. Neal finished dressing quietly so as not to wake Peter and Elizabeth. He needed to leave in order to put some things into play as a backup. He knew Peter would do whatever he could, but he also knew from experience that things could go wrong in a heartbeat.
He picked up his shoes, intending to walk down the stairs in his socks, when Peter shifted, mumbling what he thought was Neal.
Hearing his name on Peter’s lips, so different from earlier when Peter shouted it as he came, made Neal realize he couldn’t just leave.
He padded over to Elizabeth’s desk and found a piece of stationary and a pencil. Folding it quickly, he wrote a message. Going back to the edge of the bed, he slipped it between Peter’s pillows. Looking at his peaceful face, Neal couldn’t help but place a soft kiss on Peter’s temple.
“Love you,” he whispered before heading downstairs to put on his shoes and let himself out.
He walked quickly down the street, head down, thinking about how things could change on a dime. Hoping that Peter could fix the situation with Kramer without too much trouble.
Lost in his thoughts, he missed the figure watching him from the shadows.
Stepping into the street, Curtis Hagen held the phone to his ear.
“It’s Hagen. I found Caffrey, and you’re never going to believe where….”
Peter woke to the closing of the front door. He knew Neal would leave, just as he knew he would be back. Everything was different, but for now, they had to pretend that nothing had changed. It was the only way to keep Neal safe from Kramer.
Peter thought about Elizabeth and Neal, about what he would have to do, how he would have to lie, to protect them. He had no qualms about doing that. It’s what you did for those you loved.
He rolled over, tucking his hand under the pillow and heard the crinkling of paper. Pulling it out, he found an origami crane. Neal. He smiled, knowing there would be some sort of message. He found it penciled in on the wings.
For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.
Peter put the crane on the nightstand and closed his eyes, smile still playing on his lips. The morning with its new worries would come early enough, but for right now, everything was perfect.
Peter called Diana and Jones into his office right after lunch. Shutting the door, he handed them file folders.
“Take that file with you when you leave and work on it as openly as you can today. It’s your cover.”
“Caffrey?” Diana guessed.
“Right. Seems as though there’s been a rash of small thefts in San Francisco that may or may not be linked to him. I want you to confirm that connection and make sure Fowler knows all about it.” He leaned back and regarded them both. “The sooner I can get him out of my city, the happier I’ll be.”
“No problem, Peter.” Jones grinned. “I’ll make it look so enticing he’ll have bought his ticket by the end of the day.”
“That’s what I like to hear. Now go work your magic. Diana, one more thing.”
Peter waited until Jones had left and motioned for Diana to close the door again.
“Diana, I need for you to do something for me. But I want you to understand that what I’m about to ask you to do, if it were ever found out, could ruin your career.”
“What is it?”
“I need for you to pull any surveillance that might in any way relate to Neal and get rid of it. If you don’t feel right doing it, I’ll understand.”
“Don’t worry, Boss, it’s already been done.” Peter’s jaw dropped at her statement.
“What do you mean, done?”
“Blake and I pulled and ‘accidentally’ deleted all the audio and video footage we have on Caffrey.” She made air quotes. “We figured it wouldn’t look good to have the Boss’s boyfriend under Militia surveillance.”
“Boyfriend? Wait, what?” Peter was sure his face was frozen in an expression of utter shock. “What makes you think Caffrey’s my boyfriend?”
“Um…the Yankees tickets, pizza, lunches, Satchmo’s basket.” She ticked the items off on her fingers. “Actually Jones was the one who figured it out.”
“Figured what out?” Peter was still stuck on her ‘boyfriend’ comment.
“That it was Neal sending everything and that he was flirting with you. Jones said the tipoff was the movie tickets.”
“Why the movie tickets?”
“Because, Boss -.” She grinned. “You have no idea who James Cameron is.”
Peter stared at her a minute and started to laugh. “Great! My entire staff knows that Caffrey was flirting with me.” He shook his head.
“Not your entire staff. Just me, Blake and Jones. We kept it to ourselves.”
“Small mercies.” He fell silent, thinking about what Diana had just revealed.
“Boss?” Her voice pulled him out of his thoughts. “I may be overstepping, but since Neal’s been in the picture, you’ve laughed more, been more relaxed. He’s good for you.”
“He’s a thief.” Peter knew it was a token protest.
“Yeah well, we can’t all be perfect,” she said wryly and he laughed again. “Seriously, Peter, if he makes you and Elizabeth happy, then you should seize the opportunity.”
“Whatever works.” She opened his office door. “Time for me to do my job.”
As she left, Peter opened his desk drawer and took out the origami crane he’d brought from home. Reading the words Neal had written, he realized Diana was right. Neal was good for them.
Now all he had to do was keep it that way.
Peter’s phone rang while he was in the middle of completing an expense report. He might be Imperator of New York, but he still had to file paperwork.
“This is Burke.”
“Hello, Petey.” Kramer’s voice was smooth – his typical breathy whine.
“Phil.” Report forgotten, Peter stood up, filled with a sickening sense of anxiety. “What’s going on?”
“Just wanted to check in with you, Petey. Let you know we’ve found Caffrey.”
“You found Caffrey?” Peter tensed, a cold feeling starting in the pit of his stomach. “Where?”
“Oh, I haven’t confirmed that quite yet. But I have someone here that I’m sure will help me with that little detail.”
Peter heard the phone being switched to speaker mode, then a voice choked with tears. “…Peter…?”
“Elizabeth? Oh God! Kramer had Elizabeth. “El?”
“Peter…he wants me to find Neal.” Elizabeth was sobbing. He heard Satchmo growling and whining in the background.
“Kramer, you asshole. Leave her alone!”
“And why would I do that, Petey? Her Talent is exactly what I need to bring my boy back home. Except she’s not cooperating very well. Let me see if I can change that.” Peter heard some shuffling. Then Kramer spoke again.
“Goddammit, Kramer! Stop it!” Peter raged, his fury struggling against the terror of helplessness. All Kramer had to do was touch her to compel her to use her Talent. He didn’t need to hurt her. “Why are you doing this, Phil? Just touch her. She’ll find him for you.”
“Because you need to be taught not to keep what’s mine from me, Petey. Caffrey’s just a con man, a thief. Why do you care if he gets caught?”
“You’re a bastard.” Peter heard Elizabeth hiss the words through her pain. “Neal’s a much better man than you’ll ever be. Peter will find you and when he does -.”
“Shut up!” The slap was loud and Elizabeth’s cry of pain cut through Peter.
Kramer got back on the line, seemingly in control of himself. “You know, Petey, I could just use my Talent and make your wife hurt herself, but there’s something so satisfying when my fist connects with a woman’s soft flesh.”
Peter was terrified, understanding finally just what a sadist Philip Kramer really was. “Put my wife back on, please.” He wished like hell there was a way he could make his Talent work remotely and shut the son of a bitch down.
“Very wise, Petey.”
“El, hon. Do it. It’ll be alright, I promise.” Peter tried to soothe her over the phone. “Trust me, okay.” He echoed her words from last night.
“Elizabeth? Are you ready to help me?” Kramer’s voice was full of malice as Elizabeth moaned in pain. Peter was going to kill him.
He tried to appeal to his old mentor. “Phil, she’ll tell you. Just…please…stop.”
“Okay…” Elizabeth’s voice was small.
“Good decision. I’m hanging up now, Petey. I’ll return your wife once I have my boy back.”
“Phil! Wait!” The phone went dead. “Damn it!” He slammed the receiver down and grabbed his gun from the lockbox in his drawer.
Peter burst out of his chair and barreled down the steps, shouting for Diana.
“Diana, tell me you know where Caffrey is!”
“No, Boss, we pulled surveillance last night. What’s wrong?”
“Kramer has Elizabeth.”
“Oh, God!” Diana quickly got her gun.
“You’re with me, Diana. Jones! Coordinate backup. I’ll call you from the car.”
Peter headed for the elevator, Diana right behind him.
Fowler chose that moment to step in front of Peter.
“Out of my way, Fowler.” Peter brushed past him.
“What’s the hurry, Burke?” Fowler put a hand on his arm. Peter saw red.
His fist made a satisfying thud as it landed on Fowler’s jaw. The man spun around and crashed to the floor.
“Blake, get this trash out of my office!”
“With pleasure,” Blake replied.
The elevator doors opened and they were gone.
Peter’s house was empty when he and Diana arrived. Satchmo was locked in the laundry room and there was evidence of a struggle. A chair on its side, tea spilled over spreadsheets, a picture tilted on the wall.
“The upstairs is clear, Peter.” Diana came down the steps. “They’re gone.”
“I figured.” Peter was pacing, thinking. “Kramer hung up before El had a chance to tell him Neal’s location.”
“Any idea where Caffrey is?”
“No, but I bet I knew someone who does. Come on.” They left the house.
They made it to June’s mansion in record time. The staff let them in and directed them upstairs to the balcony. Mozzie and June were seated at the table, a game of Parcheesi in progress. Peter was still vibrating but he knew he had to calm himself to talk to Neal’s friend.
“Peter.” June rose to greet him. “What’s wrong?”
“I need to know where Neal is.” This was directed at Mozzie.
“I don’t know of whom you speak.” Mozzie wiped his glasses with the napkin from the table.
“Cut the crap, Mozzie. Yes I know who you are, and we’ll discuss all the invasion of privacy issues later,” Peter growled as the smaller man flinched. “Kramer has my wife and he’s after Neal. You need to tell me where he is.”
Mozzie’s demeanor changed immediately. “Kramer’s got your wife?” he shouted. “Do you know what that man’s capable of?”
“Yes. I’ve seen firsthand what Kramer can do.” Peter was losing what little patience he had left. “Where’s Neal?”
“He’s at Wednesday.” The little man got up and hurried into the apartment, Peter trailing him.
“One of my safe houses. I go there on Thursdays.” Mozzie rummaged around in one of the kitchen drawers. “Hah!” He pulled out an antique box. “Let’s go.”
“To Wednesday. You think I’m just going to let you invade my space?” He looked appalled.
“Fine. You stay behind us at all times, got it?”
“You won’t hear me arguing.” They hurried down the stairs. “Oh, and Suit?”
Startled by the nickname, Peter turned to him. The look on the other man’s face chilled him. “We’ll get your wife back. Neal, too. Then we’ll make Kramer disappear.”
Peter could not have agreed more.
After threatening to insert a tracking chip into Mozzie’s ass, Peter finally was able to contact Jones with an address for the safe house.
They pulled up in front of an old building in the Flower District. Jones and backup arrived moments later. Peter buckled on the Kevlar vest Jones gave him and tested the two-way transmitter.
“Listen up, people. Kramer is not rational and he has Neal Caffrey and my wife.” Peter adjusted the vest and checked his gun. “Diana and I will go in first. The rest of you enter on my signal.” He looked at Mozzie. “Let’s go.”
Mozzie took them in the back way. As they crept through the labyrinth of back rooms, Peter could hear voices getting louder.
“Leave her alone, Kramer! I said I would go with you!” Neal’s voice was shouting in anger.
“That may be true, Neal, but you need to learn what can happen when you don’t listen to me.”
Peter heard Elizabeth cry out. It was all he could do not to go charging into the room, forgetting his Militia training. Diana put a hand on his arm.
“Peter, look at me!” She hissed her words in his ear. “You’re not going to do either of them any favors if you go barreling in there like a rookie.”
She was right. He took a deep breath and snuck a quick look around the corner.
Elizabeth and Neal were on the floor, Kramer standing over them. He was holding a gun. Elizabeth was crying and Peter could see blood on her face where Kramer had hit her. Neal had put himself between her and Kramer, but Peter knew it was a thin shield if Kramer used his Talent.
He stepped back and told Diana what he saw, pretending it was just another takedown. Trying to convince himself that it didn’t involve the two people he loved.
“You stay here,” he told Mozzie.
“Only have to tell me once, Suit.” The shorter man moved into the shadows.
“Diana, on my mark.” Peter focused his thoughts and prepared to do his job. “Go!”
The two of them slid into the room.
“Drop the gun, Kramer!” Peter moved quickly to get a better vantage point.
“Ah, Petey, so glad you could join us.” Kramer sounded like they were at a cocktail party instead of a kidnapping. “I was just explaining to Neal here that bad behavior does have its consequences.”
“It’s over. Put the gun down.” Out of the corner of his eye he saw Diana circle around to get nearer to Neal and Elizabeth.
Peter stepped slowly closer to Kramer. “Give me the gun, Phil.” He spoke softly, coaxingly, his hand out like he was facing an unfamiliar dog. “We can talk about this back at the office.”
“No.” The room stilled at the coldness in Kramer’s voice. “We’re not going to the office. Caffrey’s coming with me. He’s dangerous.”
“He’s not, Phil. Neal’s not dangerous. Just put the gun down and we can talk about it.” Peter began to inch forward, stopping when Kramer pointed the gun at him.
Kramer considered him, his eyes narrowing. He glanced over to where Elizabeth was crying softly into Neal’s shoulder.
“You want to keep him.” He started to laugh. “You and Elizabeth. Oh, now that’s amusing.”
“Can’t you see that Caffrey’s taken you in, Petey? He’s beguiled you both with his looks and charm.”
Kramer began waving the gun, using it to make his argument.
“Petey, I’m just trying to protect you. He’ll ruin you. His kind always does. They lie, cheat, steal. He’ll make you think that everything is perfect until one day you wake up and it’s all gone. He’s just a con. They never change.”
“Neal’s different.” Peter spoke quietly, hoping the tone in his voice would calm the other man. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect.
Kramer snorted. “You keep believing that. Believe that he’s not playing you. C’mon, Petey, you know better. You see criminals like him every day. You see what they do, how they destroy. Look at Elizabeth.” Kramer gestured to her tearstained face. “He did that – brought it on her. IT’S WHAT HE DOES!”
“Don't buy it, Peter.” Neal’s voice was rough from screaming. “He doesn't care about you - this has nothing to do with protecting you. He wants me back in DC, back under his thumb because I can make him look good. He's used his Talent on me for years - it's how he works. And he likes making it hurt. Yeah - I'm a thief, but I won't be his puppet."
"Be QUIET!” Kramer screamed. He grabbed Neal, forcing his Talent on the other man. "How can you believe a word that comes out of this man's mouth. He's a thief and a liar and he'll say anything to turn you against me." He shoved Neal away.
"Neal's had nothing to do with my opinion of you, Phil. I've despised you and your methods for years.” Peter couldn’t help the anger that colored his voice. Calming himself, he held his hand out for the gun. “Neal’s a good man and has done nothing to you. Just give me the gun, Phil and we can work something out.”
Breathing heavily, Kramer turned to Neal. “You have them fooled,” he whispered bitterly. “You think that they would really want someone like you?” Kramer spat the words out like they tasted vile. “Once they figure out what kind of man you really are, Petey will snap his fingers and you’ll be buried in some cell where you’ll be forgotten.”
Peter watched in dismay as Neal flinched at Kramer’s words. He wanted to call out to him and tell him that Kramer was a liar. That they did want him.
“When did you stop putting faith in people?”
“When they stopped deserving it! Wake up, Petey! Open your eyes. You’re his mark. Caffrey’s run such a good game on you he’s got you thinking that you and Elizabeth will come out ahead in all this. He needs to go back to DC to face justice.”
“This isn’t about justice anymore, Phil, and you know it.” Peter was disgusted. “Neal pissed you off and now you want to hurt him.”
“Just control him!” Peter could tell that Kramer was becoming unhinged. “It’s the best for everyone.”
“Phil, you don't have to do this.” Kramer was imploding and Peter needed to stop him.
“I can’t let you take him, Petey.” Kramer pointed his gun at Peter again. “I’m sorry, I have to do this.” Icy fingers skittered down Peter’s spine as Kramer’s finger tightened on the trigger.
Peter saw movement out of the corner of his eye. Neal had shifted away from Elizabeth and was preparing to launch himself at Kramer.
“Neal, no!” Peter shouted but it was too late.
Neal dove for Kramer’s gun, knocking it out of his hand. The two men became locked in a surreal embrace. Twisting and turning, they wrestled for dominance, looking for the moment of weakness that would signify success. Neal’s nose began bleeding as he and Kramer battled for the upper hand. Peter realized that each was using his Talent in an attempt to overcome the other.
Shit! Peter couldn’t get a good shot while the two men fought. The only way to end this was to use his own Talent to block them. Dropping his gun, he charged onto the mix, praying that his gut was right. He seized their arms.
And the world went white.
He heard the voice but wasn’t sure where it was coming from. It wasn’t his mother – her voice was not as smooth as the one calling him. This voice was beautiful. A hand ran through his hair. It felt good, soothing. He turned his face towards it, seeking the warmth.
“Peter, it’s time to wake up.”
Maybe it was his mother. But it was too early. And he was so tired.
“Five more minutes, mom,” he mumbled. The voice laughed quietly.
“Come on, Peter, you need to open your eyes for me.”
He wanted to see the face behind the beautiful voice. He opened his eyes to see Elizabeth sitting in a chair by his elbow.
“Welcome back, hon.”
“You’re in the hospital.” She took his hand and kissed it. “You’ve been unconscious for three days.”
“What happened?” Peter tried to piece things together, but the effort caused his head to hurt.
“You remember the warehouse?” Elizabeth asked.
“Bits of it. I remember Kramer and Neal. And you. They were fighting and I tried to stop them. There was a gun. Then I think I blacked out at that point. That’s all I can remember.”
“We’re not completely sure what happened.” Diana’s voice startled him. He hadn’t noticed that she was in the room. “The little guy thinks that when you touched Neal and Kramer, you created a closed loop that short circuited your Talents and knocked you all out.”
“Kramer?” Peter was afraid to hear the answer.
“Alive, but he’s in a psychiatric center. His Talent got burned out permanently, plus they think it might have caused brain damage. The doctors are monitoring him, but they’ve said he will never be in any condition to leave.”
Peter closed his eyes in relief. It was over.
“Hon, are you okay? Do want us to leave so you can rest?”
Peter opened his eyes so he could look at her. He gazed at Elizabeth’s face, seeing the bruises and the cut lip where Kramer had struck her.
“Oh God, El. He hurt you.” He ached for what she’d been through. “I’m so sorry.” I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you.
His face must have shown his thoughts because Elizabeth squeezed his hand. “Peter, I’m fine. You saved me. And Neal. Both of us.”
“Neal? Where is he? Is he okay?” Peter started to get up. Elizabeth put her hand on his arm to calm him.
“Neal is fine.” She chuckled. “In fact, he’s doing so well he managed to slip out of the hospital last night. Don’t worry, I’ve got an eye on him. He’s at June’s. Seems as though our evening kicked in my Talent permanently when it comes to him and now I always know where he is.”
Peter smiled tiredly. Neal was not going to like it that Peter could check on him whenever he wanted.
“Okay, Boss, I’m going to head out. I’ll tell everyone you’re awake.” Diana gave him a light hug. “They’ll be glad to know you’re back with us, especially Blake. Jones has been running him ragged.”
“Bye, Di. Tell Jones to take it easy on Blake or I’ll give him permanent van duty.”
“Will do.” She closed the door as she left.
“I buzzed the doctor, so he should be here shortly. Are you thirsty?”
“I could use some water.” Elizabeth poured a glass and handed it to him.
The water soothed his dry throat. Handing it back to her, he rubbed his eyes wearily.
“How can I be tired when I’ve been out for three days?” Peter knew he was complaining, but he hated hospitals. “When can I get out of here?’
“You’re recuperating, hon. You and Neal both were unconscious when they brought you in. Your Talents are fine, but the doctors said you took the brunt and you need to rest. You’ll get to leave when they say it’s okay.”
“How is Neal, really?” Peter was worried. He knew Kramer’s derision at the warehouse had made an impact and he was worried that Neal had taken the comments to heart.
“I think he’s confused,” Elizabeth replied. “He won’t admit it, but what Kramer said hurt him.”
“I know, El. His face -.” Peter never wanted Neal to look like that again. And he wouldn’t if Peter had anything to say about it. “I’m afraid he’s going to run.”
“And he might. But I’ll always know where he is and you’ll always catch him.” Her voice was matter-of-fact. “I have faith in you. Neal will too. You just have to show him.”
“And how do I do that, exactly?” He raised an eyebrow in question.
“Just be you. The man that loves Neal Caffrey.”
“And what if he says no?”
Elizabeth leaned in and kissed him on his nose. “Then I guess you’ll have to build Satchmo an addition to his doghouse.”
It was after midnight when Neal slipped into Peter’s room. Peter was sleeping, the soft lights casting his face in shadow.
Neal watched him breathe, his chest rising and falling slowly. It amazed him how quickly he had grown to love the man in front of him. Which made the choices he had to make all the more difficult.
He wanted to stay, but Kramer was right. He wasn’t good for Peter or Elizabeth and it was stupid for him to think otherwise. Peter was good at what he did and having Neal around would destroy everything he’d managed to achieve.
Neal gazed at Peter, drinking in all the lines and curves of his face, memorizing everything so he could recall the memories of happiness that had slipped through his fingers.
He turned to go. He and Mozzie had to make plans to leave.
“So are you going to make it a habit of coming to visit me in the middle of the night?”
Neal stilled. He turned around and saw Peter struggling to sit up. Hurrying to the bed, he helped him adjust the height. Once Peter was comfortable, Neal pulled up a chair to sit next to him.
They regarded each other in silence. Neal could see the tiredness in Peter’s eyes which he was sure mirrored his own.
Finally Peter spoke. “You’re thinking of leaving, aren’t you?” Peter wasn’t asking him a question. “That’s why you showed up now.”
“Peter -.” Neal felt helpless. “Peter, I’m a con.”
“You’re a man first, Neal,” Peter replied. “You have integrity, no matter what your life choices may be. And I’m proud to call you my friend.”
Neal’s chest closed up. Mozzie was the only one who ever called him a friend. Until Peter. And Peter was too good of a man to waste his life on Neal.
“I’ve - I’ve got to go.” Neal stood up, shoving the chair back. He walked quickly to the door, tears threatening to spill from his eyes. He had just reached the entrance when Peter’s voice cut through his anguish.
“You know El can find you all the time now.”
Neal froze, his hand touching the door handle.
“Her Talent is always active when it comes to you.” Peter continued. “She can find you wherever you go. And you know my wife, Neal - El will have no problem telling me where you are.”
Neal knew she would. A part of him – a big part – wanted her to. He wanted the certainty that someone cared enough to know where he was.
Peter’s next words stunned him.
“Neal, if you run, I will catch you." Peter paused, waiting for the words to sink in. "And when I do, I will prove to you that you are worth us loving you. Kramer is wrong, Neal. And I promise that Elizabeth and I will do everything in our power to make you see that.”
Peter’s words wound around the hurting places in his soul, filling in the broken bits until he was almost whole.
“Please turn around so I can see you.” Peter’s voice was gentle. Neal let go of the door handle and turned to look at him.
“I can’t force you to stay, Neal. It’s got to be your choice. But before you make your decision, I want you to have something.”
Peter reached into the nightstand and pulled something out of the drawer. He held it out to Neal with a soft smile.
Neal walked over to take it from Peter. His breath caught when he saw what it was. Peter had handed him the origami crane.
A bit crumpled, one wingtip torn. Neal couldn't believe that Peter was carrying it.
"I know it’s only been a couple of days, but I've kept it with me since the night you gave it to me. Look at the left wing."
Neal saw the words that he had penned the night he'd put the crane beneath Peter’s pillow. Below them was something in Peter’s handwriting.
We love you. Please stay.
"Neal, just listen. We don't care what you did before. It doesn't matter. You matter. We love you." Peter’s voice got small. “I love you. Please. Stay with us."
As Neal watched emotions run the gamut across Peter’s face, he knew what his answer would be. Sliding his hand behind Peter’s head, he leaned in and brushed his lips against his lover’s mouth.
“Okay,” he whispered, resting his head against Peter’s. “I’ll stay.”
“Oh thank God!” Peter collapsed in relief. “I don’t know what I would have done if you’d said no. El threatened to make me sleep with Satchmo if I couldn’t convince you to stay.”
Neal laughed. “You could always have gone on the road with me and Mozzie.”
“Actually, that’s a perfect lead-in to something I wanted to ask you about.” For the first time that evening, Peter looked uncertain. “How would you feel about working with me?”
“You want me to work for the Militia?” Neal was stunned. “Is that even legal?”
“You wouldn’t be working for the Militia – you’d be working with me as a special consultant.” Peter had a look on his face that Neal could only compare to a little kid asking his best friend if he could come sleep over.
“You can do that?”
“I’m the Imperator. I can do anything.” Neal counted to three before Peter broke and started laughing. “Seriously, though. We can figure out the details later if you’re interested.”
“What would I be doing?” The offer sounded very tempting.
“Cleaning up New York from the unprofessional criminals.” Peter’s tone was dry.
“I can run cons?” The thought of running government-sanctioned cons was a thrilling one, he had to admit.
“The government doesn’t run cons. They run stings.”
“No, they’re really not.”
‘Actually -,” Neal began.
“Neal…” Peter’s voice held a warning, but it was tempered with a smile.
“So I’ll be running stings. I could live with that.”
“You’ll do it?”
“Yeah. I’ll do it.” Peter’s smile was so blinding that Neal couldn’t help himself. He captured Peter’s mouth with his. This time the kiss didn’t just mean yes, it meant forever.
Breaking apart so they could breathe, Peter started chuckling. “So…I’ve been wondering something. Now that you’re going to be legit and all – tell me about the Antioch Manuscripts.”
“Well…” Neal smiled as he settled on the bed next to Peter. “It all came down to carrier pigeons…”
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