: Forging Allies (3/?)author
: Teen - just in case future chapters get violentsummary
: Peter's shot, Elizabeth is missing, and Neal is out of his depth. But he has a favor to call in. Sequel to Forging Contacts author note
: Beta by the inestimable mitchy
. ***If you have trouble keeping track of the many, many aliases, leave a comment and I'll add a reminder at the beginning of each chapter.
Word count: 1437
Haversham reminds Fiona of Barry, assuming that Barry ever wore tweed, smoked enough pot to think the couch was attacking him, or considered a slightly worn, windowless van as a transportation option. She’s not certain if she’s more amused or insulted when he visibly relaxes after Sam and Michael exit the van.
She finds it interesting that Caffrey inspires enough loyalty for Haversham to stick around while Caffrey participates in his very special work-release program with the Feds. Though from the outside, it probably doesn’t look all that different from her relationship with Michael. Fiona glances at Haversham again out of the corner of her eye, idly wondering exactly how similar their relationships are to the burned men in their lives.
“So, have you known Neal long?” She does her best to keep her tone concerned rather than flirty, and keep nosy out of her expression.
“Twins separated at birth, can’t you tell?”
“Let me guess, you’re the youngest?”
Haversham glances away from the mostly empty street – the sun has just risen, so traffic consists mostly of cabs and buses – and delivers a wicked smile. “And prettier and smarter.”
“Meaning you haven’t been caught twice by the same Fed?”
He laughs. “Meaning I’m too smart to be caught. My idiot brother(,) on the other hand. Somewhere our parents went wrong, and he actually developed the tiniest bit of conscience.”
They’ve apparently reached their destination, as Moz pulls the van to the edge of traffic. Ahead, two cones mark out a handicapped parking space in the middle of the block. “Be a dear, and grab the cones.”
“Nice. No walking two blocks with the luggage. I like you already.” While he parks the van, Fiona scopes out the neighborhood. By New York standards, it’s a slow street. She counts only four open businesses on the block – a shoe repair shop, a pizza place, a dry cleaner, and a liquor store. Clearly, the area has seen better days.
She turns back when she hears Haversham get out of the car. “Second floor – no elevator, but no neighbors either,” he says as he walks away from the van.
“Aren’t you going to help?”
He shakes his head and leans against the building. “I’m just going to stand over here where no one could mistake me as having anything to do with your luggage. Like I said, I’m the smart one.”
Fiona opens the back of the van and glares at the pile of bags. At least she didn’t wear her heels when they left Miami. Still, all this heavy lifting means that when Michael takes her out, she’s ordering the best bottle of wine she can find on the menu.
While Mike changes, Sam heads downstairs to call Fiona to see if she’s arranged transportation yet. June interrupts as he starts to dial. “He’s in trouble, isn’t he?”
Sam puts on his best Everything will be all right, but not flirting
smile. “No, of course not.”
June’s you’re not fooling anyone and I wasn’t born yesterday, but I won’t call you on it because you’re cute
glare cuts the wind out of Sam’s sails. “I suppose you’ll need transportation while you’re in town not helping Neal, then?” The hand she’s holding out contains a key ring with a single key on it.
“Are you sure you don’t mind?”
“Just keep him from getting in any more trouble. Or coming home with blood on his clothes. Devore shouldn’t be disrespected like that unless there’s a fight over a girl,” she says.
“Thanks, I’ll look after it.” Her answering smile tells him that she knows he’ll look after the kid too.
Of course, Mikey comes down the stares at the exact moment that Sam takes the keys from her. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he says.
“Hey, she offered!”
“Of course she did. They always do.” When they head outside to the car, Mike just sighs even more loudly when he sees it’s a brand new Caddy. “If you wreck it, Neal will probably be living on the street.”
The kid blanches at Mike’s suggestion. “The last one wasn’t my fault. And the time before that I did it to save your ass,” Sam reminds Mike as he starts the car.
“Maybe someone else should drive?” Caffrey suggests. If he wasn’t in the back seat, Sam would be tempted to cuff him on his head for his insolence. Instead, he settles for his best reproving glare – it doesn’t seem to have much of an effect.
The drive to Peter’s house doesn’t take long, which is good. Neal hasn’t had quite enough coffee to fully combat being awake for almost thirty-six hours (sleep caught in hospital waiting rooms really does not count), especially when one has had as many adrenaline crashes as he experienced in that time.
Satchmo wriggles in excitement when Neal opens the door (almost thirty seconds to pick the lock proving that he needs some rest. Peter really should just give him a key). Once the leash is out, Satchmo’s exuberance takes on a more purposeful cadence. “I’ll get that,” Sam says, taking the leash.
“He knows me, and I know the neighborhood.”
“And anyone that’s cased this house knows you. We’re not going to be very effective if you go missing,” Sam points out.
Neal acquiesces. After Sam and Satchmo leave, he watches Carmichael work. If forced to guess, he would have assumed that Carmichael’s process would be just like Peter’s. He’s not sure why – nothing that he’s known or observed about Carmichael has led him to believe that the man has a background in police work. Military maybe, the way he carries himself.
Maybe it’s just because Peter’s way has been so effective in Neal’s experience (after all, it was the only way that caught him.)
So he’s surprised when Carmichael doesn’t examine every drawer, knock on the tables for false legs, flip through books, or check the freezer. Instead, he examines every light switch and wall socket, sticks his head under the sink, studies the pictures on the mantle and hanging on the walls, and generally confuses the hell out of Neal.
For his part, Neal tries to spot things that are out of place, but fails to find a single thing. Everything appears to just be waiting for Peter and Elizabeth to walk through the door and continue their lives as if the past two days never happened.
When Carmichael heads upstairs, Neal stays on the first floor and heads over to the answering machine. In his gut, he knows there’s a lecture in his future about letting strange men wander around the Burke’s bedroom unescorted, but it’s not like Carmichael is Moz. And he doesn’t think he could take it if there is evidence in the bedroom and no where else in the house.
It’s weirdly Peter-esque
that he and Elizabeth still have a physical answering machine instead of employing the voice mail service option that comes with landlines nowadays. Then again, hacking a physical machine is more difficult than voicemail services, so maybe he shouldn’t be surprised.
The rapidly blinking new message light reminds him of the monitors that are hooked to Peter, except without the concomitant beeping. Focus, Neal
. He presses the play button.
Peter, it’s Elle. I couldn’t reach you at the office, so I guess I’ll catch later when the boat hits land. Mom’s excited about the cruise. Oh, I got some shopping done while we were waiting to board. I found you the perfect tie – It’s silk, black with silver stripes. It matches the new suit you bought with Jones last week. Gotta go – Mom’s calling for me. Peter, I love you.
Satchmo’s bark makes Neal jump. Turning, he sees Sam closing the door. “Any clues?”
“She bought Peter a tie to match the suit he bought with Jones.” Sam’s eyebrows rise. “Peter still wears the same suits he had when he was chasing me the first time. You couldn’t force him to go shopping at gunpoint, but if he did, I doubt he’d do so with Agent Clinton Jones.”
Sam nods as he kneels to remove Satchmo’s leash. “Definitely not.”
They both turn at the sound of footsteps on the stairs. Cell phone in hand, Carmichael descends. “It’s almost time for visiting hours, Sam. You should take Neal and visit with Burke.”
“Need me to drop you anywhere on the way?”
Carmichael shakes his head. “I’ve already called a cab.”
“Did you find anything?” Neal asks.
“Not yet, but we will, don’t worry.”
Somehow, Neal doubts it’s going to be very easy to take that advice.