The Early Worm (ima_pseudonym) wrote in dealtwice,
The Early Worm
ima_pseudonym
dealtwice

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Fic: Nothing Stays Buried (1/?)

I'm a bit posting-crazy right now, so I thought, why not make this fic public... o.o God help us all.

Title: Nothing Stays Buried
Author: Ima Pseudonym
Rating: PG (Nothing overt 'yet'. Even the subtext is hazy)
Disclaimer: belongs to CW, USA, Jensen, Matt, Tim, and… er… others. I think this might need a little editing... So I'll do that on my iPod during class today, and hopefull switch this with a marginally cleaner version before many of you read it.
Summary: What happens when a cursed object and a priceless artifact are one and the same? OR "Dean gets in Neal's way, Neal gets in Dean's way, and Peter Burke gets in everyone's way."
Warning: None, really. This isn't even halfway finished. There will be at least two more installments. This, kind of, touches on everyone, and everyone will have a part to play in the plot. It starts off kind of jumpy, introducing the different players in the story, but as they all meet up, it will flow from one general point of view.

~*~*~*~



"I think I may have found something." Sam muttered, eyes still glued to his laptop.

"About frig'n time. One more day in this podunk town and I'd end up shooting someone. What's the case?" Dean attempted to read over his brother's shoulder, despite numerous requests not to. Sam only huffed in annoyance but bit his tongue about commenting on personal space. What would be the point? They spent twenty-three hours a day (he'd averaged it himself) in sight of each other. Ideas like privacy or personal space were just fallacies in Sam's head.

"A Reg Parrish was found dead in his penthouse three days ago. He’d committed suicide, apparently. But it doesn't add up. According to anyone who knows him, he lived a charmed life: Riches, good looks, respect, and a never ending stream of girlfriends."

"Rich, handsome playboys can't be depressed?"

"It's more than that..." Sam deftly navigated through the tabs and windows pulled up on the screen, pulling up a page with two color photographs: The first appeared to be a badly carved sandstone statue of a cat. Small pieces were chipped away revealing smooth black stone beneath. The second photograph held a statue of the same shape; only it was a polished onyx statue: Emeralds were set artistically for eyes, and inlaid gold hieroglyphics scrolled down the right leg.

"It said Parrish purchased the statue three weeks ago. There's no lead as to who sold it, but our guy spent a lot for the piece, and even more to have it restored. Apparently, the restorers discovered that the dirt that had encrusted the statue was actually Italian."

"Someone buried it in Italy?"

"Looks that way." Sam clicked through several more pages, before locating the pre-death article, describing the antiquity.

"So you think this thing is cursed?" Dean asked, skeptically.

"Well, the inscription on the statues leg translates to 'misery'. After Parrish had it restored and, kind of stupidly, announced his possession of it, the Egyptian government went haywire. And the FBI started breathing down Parrish’s neck. He, allegedly, purchased the cat in the states so arresting him on smuggling or illegally removing it from Egypt weren't possible. Parrish hired the best lawyers that offensive amounts of money can buy, but the Egyptians are pretty livid, now."

"As fascinating as all this is, it doesn't exactly scream cursed." Dean pointed out, but Sam held up a hand and clicked open a new window. This page showed what had been a handsome man in his late twenties, laid out in what was clearly a personal gallery, of sorts. The statue held a place of honor, displayed in the center of the room.

"At the scene of his death, Parrish scrawled 'death' on the floor in his own blood. In hieroglyphic." Sam added, and sure enough, pictograms half covered in a pool of blood lay beside the corpse.

"That, on the other hand, tends to support your theory." Dean intoned, dryly. "So where's the statue now?"

"Getting ready for auction." The page of a prominent auction house popped up, with a large photo of the statue featured. Dean was starting to wonder how anyone could navigate six windows, and twenty tabs so deftly.

"Does this seem disturbingly déjà vu-ish to you?" A psychotic child in a creepy painting came to mind.

"As far as it can be proved, only one person's died because of this statue. And since it's at least two thousand years old that's really not saying a lot." Sam said, for the first time sounding vaguely uncertain that this wasn’t just a big, disturbing coincidence.

"Unless it spent most of that time being buried in Italy.” The older brother reminded him.

"It's worth investigating." Sam seemed to decide for himself, as he closed his laptop, and started to pack away his equipment. As though that concession meant they should get a move-on, immediately.

"So where exactly are we heading?"

Sam grinned so evilly that Dean's hand twitched for the flask of Holy water on his nightstand.

"Start spreading the news..." Green eyes widened comically, and Dean flailed his arms between himself and his brother in a 'Stop and desist!' gesture.

"I’m leaving-- todaaaay. I want to beee a part of it," the younger man began tonelessly, with sadistic glee. Dean regretted voicing his desire to leave their current town.

"I HATE New York City."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Neal burst through the door of his rundown apartment, looking like Christmas had come early, and Santa had forgotten to double check under the con’s name.

“Mozzie, have you heard-“

“About the priceless Egyptian onyx about to go up for auction? That would be yes.” he didn’t even glance up from his laptop.

“Okay… Well, did you know-“

“That you have some grand and INSANE, I might add, notion to add that notch to your ‘Neal’s Greatest Hits’ bedpost? Again, I knew.” Mozzie finally glanced up to see a soured expression on Neal’s otherwise handsome face.

“That’s really—“

“Annoying? I’ve been told.” Mozzie didn’t seem ashamed in the least.

“Why shouldn’t I make an attempt? The payout I could get for that statue would…“ His voice softened, to just above a whisper. “That could set Kate and me up for life.”

“One, Kate and you could have been set up for a dozen lives, if you didn’t let her convince you to live so expensively… And two, we both know the FBI is a hair’s breadth away from I.D.-ing you, IF they haven’t already. And once that happens, it’s adios, my friend.”

Neal scoffed, flopping back on the elegant, but threadbare, sofa in his apartment.

“Even if they ‘do’ ID me, which they won’t,” he added to Mozzie’s skeptical look. “They’ll never catch me.”

“Right. Because a suit never caught Frank Abignale junior, either.”

“And he’s a legitimate millionaire, now.” Neal returned, feeling waspish. Mozzie sighed, picking up on the not-so-subtle aggravation in his friend’s tone. Setting his laptop aside, he gave his full attention to the young con man. Neal recoiled, recognizing that Mozzie was about to say something he didn’t want to hear.

He wasn’t disappointed.
“Do you really think that if you somehow manage to steal this piece (and fence it) without getting pinched, that Kate’s going to run back into your arms?” Mozzie attempted to keep his tone gentle, but it was like head-butting a stone wall, trying to get through to Neal about ‘her’.

“You act like she left.” Neal started defensively, but the shorter man didn’t allow him to build any steam.

“She always leaves, Neal. That’s what Kate does. She leaves, gets tired of living off her own (frankly) subpar skills, and returns to goad you into some big and dangerous heist, WHICH, I might add, is why you came to be on the Fed’s radar, to begin with. And now you want to jump the gun and do some stupid job BEFORE she comes back to tell you to?” Mozzie backed off at Neal’s expression; half defiance, half misery, all ruffled feathers.

“Which…” and it cost the older man greatly in pride to continue. “You’d need a brilliant person’s help in pulling.” It was almost worth it for the way the con’s handsome face lit up. People succumbed to Neal’s arsenal of charming faux-grins every day. It was impossible to resist a sincere smile.

Later that night, after hours of scheming, and schematics, and two bottles of cheap wine Neal collapsed in the armchair opposite his couch. Mozzie was hanging on by a pleasantly-soused thread, as well

“She’ll be back… And we’ll be happy.” Neal insisted, half gone.

“Or what?” his partner-in-crime asked, brazen enough to push buttons in his sleepy, inebriated state.

“Or she’s a bitch.” And then Neal was out.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“I’m telling you El! This is exactly the sort of thing Caffrey won’t be able to resist. He’s been stepping up his game, and he may still be brilliant, but bigger jobs mean bigger complications. He’s going to slip up and then--” Peter glanced over to his wife, and deflated a bit at the mirth written across her face. “I’ll… get him.” He finished lamely. “What?”

“Oh… Nothing, honey. It’s just you get SO excited when you’re talking about this guy.” She said the last word with a little regret. They’d had a running bet on the gender of this ‘criminal mastermind’. Elizabeth insisted the con man was too smooth, too light, and too charming to not be female. But a month ago, an eyewitness to his last crime identified him as a young man. Unfortunately, the woman was a seventy-year-old former debutante, who was so flustered and flattered by the thief’s apparent charms, that she hardly seemed to notice (or care) that her Renoir had been taken from her gallery. She hadn’t been wearing her glasses, and it had been dark… Allegedly. So all they had known for certain was that the criminal was male; And young… ish. All the same, Peter had won the wager with Elizabeth.

And then, not two days ago, they’d finally matched a half-fingerprint left behind from a much earlier crime (which was only connected to the con artist, by some clever deduction on Peter’s part) with a name: Neal Caffrey. Peter would never own up to exactly how amazing it felt to be that much closer to his quarry. At the least, his wife had her suspicions. The White Collar division working under Peter on the case was still frantically trying to dig something up on the name. They hadn’t even located a picture yet. Either Neal Caffrey was also a genius with hacking, or he had some fiendishly clever friends. But nothing stayed buried forever.

“I do not get exci-“ Peter started, to her accusation (more like an ‘honest assessment’), but thought better of it. It was true, after all. Neal Caffrey was one of those rare cases, you prayed to come across. He was brilliant, non-violent (even non-threatening), quick, and, had he mentioned ‘brilliant’? You could enjoy the thrill of the case, and not worry that anyone had been hurt (physically) because you weren’t fast enough to bring him in. Peter couldn’t have resisted the allure of the case any more than he could resist breathing. Even as agent, after agent called dibs on the chase, and Peter watched them all succumb to a smarter foe, he knew he could do it. He felt like destiny was telling him, ‘This one’s for you, Peter Burke.’ Peter had never admitted to El that he’d worked on the Caffrey Case for months before it was officially ‘his’.

He would also never admit it, aloud, but Peter was an honest man in his mind, and he knew he likened the chase to the unadulterated thrill he felt when he was dating Elizabeth. Catching Caffrey would be a major boost to his career, yes. But, more than that, there was some deep and frighteningly powerful joy in the chase, itself. A small, sobering voice reminded him that catching Caffrey could be the best or worst moment of his life.

“I’m telling you, El. He’s going to go after this cat statue. He’ll be there. And so will I.” Peter dropped his newspaper, opened to a full-page ad for the private viewing, and (later) public auction of several antiquities, including the recently headlined statue. The Egyptian government had not exactly condoned Peter’s plan to use the statue as bait in this showing/auction, and only the promise of a showdown with Caffrey had convinced Hughes to allow it. Everything, more or less, banked on Caffrey showing up. And from what Peter knew about his elusive con… Caffrey would not be able to resist.

“Whatever you say, dear.” El smiled into her coffee cup.

~*~*~*~*~*~

“Where’d you get that?” Sam asked, eyeing the authentic-looking invitation in Dean’s hand.

“I have friends in low places…” Sam blinked, unimpressed.

“You met that Ricker guy in the subway?” the older sibling scoffed, derisively.

“N- Well… Maybe, yeah. But it’s legit. And this case had better be, too, because I only had one favor, and now we’re even. If this turns out to be nothing…”

“Then at least you’ll get to attend a fancy party.” Sam tried not to smirk, as Dean sputtered.

“Me? No, no… No, no, no, little brother. ‘You’ are going to this shindig. This whole artsy crap business is ‘your’ domain. I’m more… Y’know… hustling pool, and starting bar fights.”

“Hmm…” Sam agreed, absently.

“Why don’t you want to go?” Dean asked, suspecting something was up.

“Alright. Fine. I’ll go. But you’ll owe me fo-“ Sam reached for the ticket, and Dean jerked it back.

“Wait a second… Now you’re all—you thought I was going to fight you for the ticket, so you’re using all that smart-kid reverse psychology on me. What’s so great about this stupid party?”

“Nothing. Really, Dean. It’ll be boring. I’ll go. Just-“ He was using both hands now to swipe at the engraved cardstock, but Dean backed out of reach.

“What’s so great about a bunch of stuffy people sipping the weak cat piss they call overpriced liquor?”

“Nothing. I’m just better at sneaking then you are, anyway. Not to mention blending in.“ Sam’s fingers brushed the ticket.

“Says the hairless Sasquatch. And like hell you’re better at sneaking! I taught you everything you know!” Dean struggled to keep the ticket out of his little brother’s massive reach.

“Dean, this is stupid! Just give me the ticket.” Sam stumbled forward where his brother had just been, as Dean sidestepped him.

“Can’t… I’ll be needing it to hobnob with the rich and… richer.” And Dean was out the door, he’d just come through.

Sam smirked, as he resettled himself before his laptop.

“Idiot.” He said aloud, but his tone was fond.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The onyx statue had, overnight, become the focal point of the auction the next day, but it was not the only valuable item up for viewing at the ‘party’. The massive viewing room held art from around the world; most of it ancient. Only the super rich could afford to possess these items, let alone buy them. Every piece was in a temperature controlled case that monitored humidity, and deflected bullets. Dean noticed a hairline crack around the inner edge of the cases, and seeing nothing like a code panel, deduced that the items were raised (through the floor) into their permanently-sealed cases. Smash and grab was pretty far from being an option.
Armed security stood at every window, door, or staircase.

It had not been an easy feat for Dean to get in, even with his legitimate, hologrammed (for God’s sake) invitation. The bouncer-looking doorman had looked ready to toss him to the curb when he’d caught sight of his plaid over shirt. The boots hadn’t helped, either. A pretty far-fetched idea came to mind, and with nothing to lose, Dean acted on it.

“I made my fortune in oil wells, and there’s no call for fancy-dressing in that business. I don’t put on monkey suits when I’m walking through my personal gallery, and I sure as hell ain’t going to for the trinkets here.” He delivered his ridiculous speech in his best southern drawl, drawing some attention to himself, and the doorman. Dean was mildly astonished when the doorman apologized, sounding genuinely contrite for the scrutiny, and let him pass.

The display room was a large, wood-paneled affair. A three-piece orchestra sat in a corner, playing something that was just shy of ‘overly’ pretentious. And there was a long table set up with all of the fancy crap Dean could never quite fathom. On the other hand, free food was just that.

On that same token, free booze was just that. He reached for the last glass of champagne on a passing tray, and his fingers brushed someone else’s.

“Go ahead.” Dean offered, automatically, as the other man said the same. The first thing Dean noticed was how much better dressed his liquor-competitor was. Whereas Dean’s jeans were mostly clean, and his boots were (currently) mud free, the other person was dressed to the nines in some fancy three-piece suit, that Dean was sure had a specific name.

The man’s hair was a little like Sam’s… Only darker, and better controlled. And his eyes were a stunning shade of blue. It irritated Dean that someone was contending for the self-granted role of best-looking man here.

“It’s all yours.” Dean reiterated, gesturing to the glass, and the waiter looked aggravated, but said nothing.

“I insist.” The other man pressed, and Dean grinned, grabbing the drink by the flute, without regard to the stem. Something in the other man’s face seemed to blanch at the poor manners. Dean’s inner rebel cheered.

“Nick Halden” blue-eyes offered his hand, and there was nothing but curious good-will written on his face, so Dean accepted, wondering if his hands felt as coarse to ‘Nick’ as Nick’s felt unusually smooth to his.

“Steve Walsh.” Dean offered.

Nick’s eyes seemed to light up in some amusement. “Have we met? I feel like I know your name, from somewhere…”
“Uh… No. I don’t think so. Just, heh… Y’know. One of those names.” Dean began, awkwardly, but just then the curator called the room to silence. The crowd shifted back to clear an area at the center of the room, where a large display case was covered with a heavy red sheet. As the crowd moved, Nick knocked against Dean, and champagne drizzled down the hunter’s hand.

“Oh I’m sorry. That’s so embarrassing.” The well-dressed man muttered, righting himself. Dean took a step back, unsure of the protocol for how to react to someone spilling your liquor, at a rich person event.

“I’m sorry.” Nick repeated, and Dean was so flustered by the effusive apologies, and his crumbling (although admittedly lackluster) alias, that he never noticed as his wallet slid up Nick’s sleeve.

“Maybe it’s for the best that you got the last glass. I suppose I’ve had enough, already. If you’ll excuse me?” He disappeared into the crowd without waiting for Dean’s reply.

“Some of you may be wondering about the statue so generously donated by the Parrish estate.” The curator droned on, oblivious to the interchange between two of the guests. “In an effort to bring some drama to the viewing, and in light of the controversy surrounding the piece, it will be ‘dramatically’ unveiled in twenty minutes. Please enjoy the party until that time.” Short and sweet, thank god. A thrill seemed to go through the crowd, and Dean couldn’t help the bitter expression on his face. The wealthy and privileged were excited like the statue was a Halloween prank about the bogeyman. They were tittering in nervous excitement because a statue was going to be ‘unveiled’. Just last week, he’d scraped ectoplasm off his windshield; and he’d done it without giggling.

Dean went in search of the food table, to assuage the unease he felt around so many ‘normal’ people. He’d as much as known there was no chance of him stealing the statue ‘during’ the viewing. But eventually, he’d have to find a way past security, to see if an after-hours theft was possible. The room he was in seemed to rely more heavily on human surveillance, than on cameras. Which worked in his favor, because cameras didn’t blink. All the same, he decided to wait and see the stupid statue before trying to con his way upstairs. Maybe he could slip through, as everyone crowded in to look at something they’d seen (repeatedly) in the papers over the past week?
As Dean loaded his cocktail napkin with all the recognizable foods he could see, he wondered how exactly he was going to steal the statue. Getting upstairs might be possible, but if the central case was anything like the others, then the only way to get to the piece would be from the basement. Plus, the auction was the next day, and that tended to add strain to an already stressful situation. Dean was already adjusting the plan from stealing it ‘from here’, to stealing it from the high bidder. (And hoping that whoever that might wouldn’t end up in self-served pieces, before he could destroy the cat.)

His phone buzzed in his pocket, and he stuffed the last of his handful of shrimp in his mouth, to the apparent horror of a woman nearby, so he could dig it out.

“SUM?” He attempted to articulate without spraying half-chewed seafood on anyone.

“Dean… First… What the hell? Secondly, be careful. I think the FBI might be involved in all of this.” Dean swallowed heavily, and in a second, he could feel sweat prickling on his forehead.

“You wanna run that by me again, Sam?” Immediately, his eyes darted around the room. No one looked bored or repressed enough to be an agent at a quick glance.

“It should have occurred to me earlier. Why would they be auctioning off this piece, when it could start an international incident with Egypt? They wouldn’t. Considering the circumstances involved with Parrish’s death, and the fact that the Feds were involved in that case, and—“


“SAM. Whoa. In English. Simply.” Dean considered flailing to get his point across, but he was already receiving less than friendly looks.

“I think, for whatever reason, the FBI staged the auction of the statue. Either they want to see who buys it, or… They’re staking the place out to see if someone is going to steal it. I don’t think I need to tell you that if that statue ends up in anyone else’s hands, things could get bad.”


“Alright. I’ll…” he lowered his voice. “I’ll keep my eyes open.” Dean flipped the phone shut as the curator called for attention. Nick Halden quietly reappeared at his side at the same moment. His expression was neutral but Dean could tell by the tensed lines of his body that he was anxious about something. Or excited. Or… hell, he didn’t come here to analyze another man.

The curator removed the sheet, and there was a long moment of confused silence, before everyone began muttering.
The statue wasn’t in the case.

“Oh. I think this would be a good time for me to- uh… leave, now.” Nick Halden mumbled, seemingly to himself, and began to slip away. Sensing things were quickly going south (if the other man’s apprehension was any indication) Dean was fast on the other man’s heels. Just as they made the entrance of the building, an authoritative voice called out from the crowd behind them ‘FBI! Everyone please stay where you’re at!”

The doorman, apparently, hadn’t heard, because he barely registered the two men leaving at a brusque pace.

“Hold on a second!” Dean grabbed the other man by his arm, a block away from the building, forcing him to turn or wrench his arm out of its socket. The suited man twisted around, in a move that would have freed him from someone who hadn’t sparred with his father and brother since he was seven. Nick Halden seemed genuinely surprised at the unbroken hold on his (now bruised) arm.

“Did you take it?” Dean demanded harshly, but there was something like panic in his voice.

“Let go of me.” Nick warned, and the expression might have been vaguely intimidating… To anyone else in the world.

“I need to know if you took it.” Dean insisted, and he shook the slighter man a little, in his urgency.

“I said back off, Dean.” Blue-eyes snapped, and finally managed to jerk his arm away from surprise-slackened fingers.

“How did you--?” But Nick was already twenty feet away. Dean patted down his jacket, and didn’t feel the tell-tale shape of his wallet. He suddenly recalled the other man ‘bumping’ into him.

“Son of a-“
He gave chase.

‘~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Diana,” Peter resisted the urge to tug on his hair. He’d already loosened his tie in concession to his frustration.

“Tell me you have something.” The past two hours had been a bust. Every person in the gallery; patron, waiter, or musician, had been questioned, offended, and had made vague or direct threats to sue for the FBI’s impertinence. The curator was going crazy, and Hughes was calling non-stop to relay how livid the Egyptians were.

“Tell me you have something. Even if you don’t.” he begged, and his probie held up a hand in placation.

“Agent Walker found out ‘how’ the statue was stolen. Someone managed to make it to the basement through a disabled dumbwaiter shaft. The statue was being kept in the basement with other valuable items (which… well, they weren’t happy about us seeing them) but the only thing taken was the statue. It was on a conveyer that went up through the floor, directly into the display case. Somehow they found the code, and managed to steal the statue, before sending the empty conveyer back up. The elevator shaft led to the third floor, where the panel ‘had’ been sealed off. Someone cut a hole in the drywall, (no clue on ‘when’ they did this), and made their escape, via the roof. As soon as you called it in, our men out front saw a shadow jumping to the adjacent roof, and… they pursued. Unfortunately, that means they missed the two young men who allegedly left just before we locked the building down.” Peter groaned. So the statue was well and truly gone.

Two other agents approached them; each clearing 6’4, and intimidating as all hell. “The perpetrator on the roof managed to get away. We couldn’t follow… There was a ventilation shaft two buildings away, that…” ‘neither of them could fit through’, Peter filled in the blanks for himself. He manfully bit back the urge to insult them, for no other reason than that they were too big.

“I don’t suppose you got an ID on this person?” he asked instead, in as polite a tone as he could manage. To Peter’s credit, they looked suitably chastised. Peter Burke did, after all, have a reputation. Disappointing him was censure in and of itself.

“All black, and a mask… Black messenger bag, even. But the perp was definitely female.” One said.
“Young, thin, average height… Athletic.” His partner volunteered. A resounding ‘Duh’ to the last description hung in the air, uncomfortably. But this was proof, at least that Caffrey, himself, hadn’t stolen the statue.

However, he KNEW Caffrey had something to do with this. Caffrey had to have been one of the men to escape. Everything he knew about the criminal suggested he never missed a pre-crime soiree if he could help it. Unfortunately, Peter had not glimpsed someone who matched the official, and imagined description of Caffrey in the sprawling viewing room. But the security cameras would have.

“Sir…” Diana continued reluctantly. “Even if Caffrey is involved in this.” She carried on bravely at the withering look he shot her for suggesting this was an ‘if’ scenario. “Even so, he would never have had direct access to the statue.” ‘Until he left and rendezvoused with the actual thief.’ Peter thought bitterly. Neal Caffrey had been in the same room as him, tonight. And he’d still managed to evade him.

“I want to see the security footage. And just who, exactly, left when the statue was a no show.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Neal Caffrey was fast; and more than a little agile. He also had the advantage of being on his home turf. But Dean was also fast, and also agile. And he could be worse than a bloodhound on the scent of a fox. Neal Caffrey was never more than twenty paces in front of him, for all his dodging and weaving.

Where Neal’s advantages failed were in matters of pride, and occupation. Wingtips may look great, but they were never invented for track. And even though Neal was in no way out-of-shape, he hadn’t spent most of his life, chasing down (or running away) from disemboweling supernatural creatures.

In the end, Neal screwed up. He’d turned to flee down a clichéd dark alleyway, when he realized it was a dead end. He’d barely had time to stop, before he was being barreled into. Both men went sprawling into a pile of limbs, and litter.

“God, I hate you.” Dean groaned but the extent of his motion for all the animosity in his voice was to fling his arm in the other man’s general direction. Judging by the ‘Oomph!’ of discomfort, he’d hit Mr. Halden in the stomach. ‘Good.’ His own scraped knees seemed to suggest.

“I’m not really keen on you, at present, either.” The other man panted. The chase, and resulting collision had done a fairly good job of robbing him of his breath, and the urge to continue fleeing.

After several unproductive minutes, Dean pushed himself into a sitting position, and rudely outturned the other man’s pockets until he found his wallet. ‘Nick’ only continued to catch his breath, and glance away, so he wouldn’t see alley sludge being smeared on his finely-tailored jacket.

“I take it you don’t have the statue hidden somewhere on you…” Dean paused, casting a suspicious and disturbed look towards the shorter man’s expensive slacks. Neal was finally pushing himself up, as well, when he caught on to the implication.

“What? Ugh, no!” Nick looked angry. Dean supposed he would be, too, if someone had tackled ‘him’ (however inadvertently) in a back alley somewhere in the ass hole of NYC.

“So why’d you run?” Dean asked, finally back on his feet, he brushed away the worst of the grit and grime from his shirt sleeves.

“Why’d you chase me?” Neal demanded.

“For one, you had my wallet.” Dean replied matter-of-factly. Neal had already opened his mouth to retort the other’s reasoning, but he snapped it shut at that, actually managing to look abashed.

“Oh… Well, you can never be too careful. It’s always good to have leverage on a person who introduces themselves as a member of Kansas.” It was Dean’s turn to gape, uselessly. Suddenly, the blue-eyed bandit smiled, and Dean’s stomach flip-flopped. He didn’t have time to dwell on the sensation, as the man held a slightly-scraped hand out, expectantly.

“Not that I’m much better. Neal Caffrey.” Dean hesitated, but the situation was too absurd already. What could a reintroduction hurt?

“Well, Neal Caffrey-Not-Nick-Halden… I’m Dean. And if you stole my cash—“ Dean began, assuming the most ‘hard-ass’ stance within his capabilities. Neal put both hands in the air, palms out.

“You’ll be happy to know your two tens were unmolested in my care.” he assured, and it was painfully apparent by the open smile that reached the thief’s eyes, that Dean’s intimidation skills were getting rusty.

“Damn straight they weren’t.” The hunter tried to ignore the way that smile made him want to smile back.

“So… Why do you care if I stole a statue, or not? Not that I’m suggesting it’s not the socially accepted definition of ‘wrong’, but a person with six fake IDs in their wallet doesn’t strike me as the most morally upstanding person.” Neal grimaced at the streaks of mud (God he hoped that was mud.) on his dress jacket. With a mournful sigh, he slipped it off, and tossed it at a nearby dumpster.

“I’ll have you know I’m the epitome of moral fiber, and upstanding-ness-osity.” Dean asserted, and found his cocky grin had met its match in Caffrey’s ‘charming’ smile.

“Well, now that we’ve established what a good citizen you are… Again, why do you care?” It was apparent, ‘Neal’ wasn’t going to drop this. Dean sighed, not for the first time, wishing there were easier ways to do the job, and remain covert.

“Let’s just say it’s crucially important I get that statue from whoever ‘did’ steal it.” Neal pursed his lips, but his eyes glittered with some unknown challenge Dean had inadvertently issued.

“It’s crucially important that I find it, as well.” The shorter of the two remarked mildly, and he repeated to himself ‘For Kate’, but if he were honest for a moment, even to himself, he’d admit that the thrill of the chase had become his number one motivation.

“As long as we’re going to continue bantering, why don’t we have a beer?” Dean suggested, surprising even himself. His mind came to his rescue, supplying several reasons it was a good idea. He was fairly certain this Caffrey guy didn’t have the statue, but at the same time, he felt he might be useful… Plus, if worse came to worst, Dean would need to keep a close eye, and make damn sure that Neal never actually touched that statue.
“Only if I choose the bar.” Neal returned, and something like that tense anticipation Dean had seen at the show, returned. Dean strongly felt that no good would come of this.

TBC…

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Tags: fanfiction
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