Disclaimer: White Collar belongs to Jeff Eastin and USA, The following is a work of fan fiction based on the CBS television series, The Magnificent Seven. It is in no way intended to infringe on the copyrights of CBS, MGM, The Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp, or anyone else who may have legal rights to the characters and settings.  

Antoinette for your beta reading, MAC for all your support.  

Forced FED 2

Continues on from : Forced FED

Note: Shill: an accomplice in a con game.

C/V implied

M7 x White Collar

Ezra Standish had accepted the deal that was on the table, he would work for the FBI as a white collar crime consultant, for the remainder of his sentence of five years and in return he would get out of prison, but at any time he could be sent back to finish his sentence at the discretion of his handler Special Agent in Charge Muller.

He had been good, and the team his team had gained at 92 percent clearance rate, then for no reason he could fathom, they had hit a lean patch, was to be expected, as a former professional gambler as well as a con man he knew the odd that it would happen. But Muller was angry at him, blaming him, and he had been thrown back into prison a couple of times as an attitude correction. Soon after that the casual violence had started, Muller had set the tone for the whole office, and those that resented him being there could finally show him what they thought of him.

All of it had just changed ATF Agent Buck Wilmington who had been helping out on a interagency mission had returned to the office only this time he wasn’t alone.

Ezra stood up, and held out his hands to Vin Tanner, the ATF agent shook his head; instead he reached and took his arm to lead him out of the FBI office. That had surprised Ezra, he had waited for the handcuffs to be slapped onto his wrists, it wouldn’t have been the first time he had been removed from the White Collar Unit in handcuffs, doing the perp walk in front of all the office, his handler Nick Muller had liked to make sure that the team never forgotten that he was there on sufferance. That any time he could be thrown back into prison, on a whim of Muller’s, and there was no way he wanted to go back.

His knowledge had been instrumental in helping Muller and his team, now it looked like they were unloading him onto the ATF.  As he was marched out of the office, Wilmington moved in to flank him the other side, “You’re going to be all right Ez, you’re ATF now.”

Ezra didn’t answer, one Fed was no different than the next, they would threaten and bully to make sure they got their cases closed, and if he failed, he was the perfect scapegoat.

Now he would have to get to know a new group of feds, learn who would use their hands on him in the stairwell, or the holding cell or the parking garage when a case didn’t break right, who would leaving him hanging because he wasn’t worth the consideration they gave a dog if the case went south while he was undercover. Who would leave him locked up over the weekend in holding because they didn’t want to take responsibility for him? He was a quick learner; as a conman and a gambler he had to be able to size people up. But now it was even more important, because it was run or stays, because one thing was certain he wasn’t going back to Super Max, they knew he was an FBI consultant, and next time he wouldn’t walk out of the prison alive.

The walk to the ATF office was in silence, but Ezra couldn’t fail but notice how people moved out of the agent in black’s way.

0-0-0-0-0

The Present

SAC Peter Burke entered the office of Team 7 with his consultant Neal Caffrey, and Agent Clinton Jones a member of his team.

Before Peter could speak Neal stepped ahead of him and Jones, Ezra Standish matched his posture mirroring it back to the younger con man, and then Standish smiled “Hello Neal, mother said to send you her best.”

Peter stopped dead in his tracks, “oh shit, there’s two of them.” Somehow Burke just knew it was going to be a long three weeks, he muttered “they don’t pay me enough for this.”

Ezra shook hands with Neal Caffrey, and then pulled him into a warm hug, which the younger man returned. Finally breaking apart Ezra turned to Chris, “SAC Larabee, I would like you to meet my younger brother, Neal Caffrey. Neal, Chris Larabee AFT.”

The younger con man looked Chris up and down, his smile never faulting even when Chris turned one of his calculating looks on him. Neal put a hand out, for a moment it hung in midair and then Chris shook it, as he looked from one brother to the other. As if reading his mind Neal said “same mother different fathers, so why am I here.”

“Justin Ryman,” it was Ezra that answered, “Hypothetically could you paint one.”

Neal arched an eyebrow, “hypothetically with immunity, I think I could put paint on canvas,” he smiled back.

“Ez, you take your brother to your desk, Agent Burke, Jones, we have some business to conclude.”

“Neal” the younger man corrected with a 100 watt smile, as his eyes swept over Chris again this time with more heat in them, as if assessing him with a knowing look. 

Buck waited for Chris to blow, but his old friend just shook his head, “he’s certainly got the balls to be your brother Ez. Buck make sure that Neal here doesn’t wander off.” Turning Chris took the other two men to his office, at the same time as calling Vin over. The Texan was his second in command and he wanted him in on this meeting.

Ezra took Neal over to the coffee machine and stopped him as he reached out for one of the pots. “Coffee like tar, try this one,” he picked up a second pot “Ethiopian Vanilla, hazel nut blend.” Buck rolled his eyes, as he watched Neal Caffrey savor the drink, the man looked as if he had stepped out a of a vintage equivalent of GQ right down to the Frank  Sinatra fedora

“So you’re a conman like Ez here.”

“A reformed conman Mr. Wilmington,” Ezra answered “Neal has renounced the big game just as I have done.”

Before Buck could answer, “Caffrey” JD repeated the name, and frowned, his fingers tapping on the keyboard, “bond forgery, art forger, counterfeiting, and confidence…” He didn’t get to finish, as Neal cut across him, “I was falsely convicted of bond forgery,” he shook his head “prejudicial jury, and it was alleged art forgery, and alleged counterfeiting.” Neal’s tone had never changed, from being polite and friendly, his smile never faulted, but that made it all the more killing to JD when he added “ I know you’re not FBI, but you should get your facts right.” JD blushed red at the rebuke.

“Hey, just a minute here, you might be Burke’s pet con, but.” Buck heard the intake of breath and turned to Ezra, “shit, sorry Ez.” Buck could remember all to clearly what Muller’s men had called Ezra, and the way the  southerner had hated the nickname, and that nickname brought back bad memories, but it had led to some good ones…….

Earlier

Over the following weeks Ezra had joined Team 7 of the ATF, he had spent the time learning as fast as he could about his new team members. Watching out for the pit falls that could send him back into prison, his new boss was Special Agent in Charge Christopher (Chris) Larabee, an ex-SEAL, he wore black not as a fashion statement, but still in deepest mourning for his dead wife and son. His temper was formidable, but for all his reputation he was not a man to abuse another, as he had found out after one of the jobs went sour, it had blown up in their faces due to an impulsive local police officer.

So in the confusion of the fouled mission, when the various agencies were yelling at each other, and blame was flying thick and fast, blame that he knew would cascade downwards. Ezra knew where it was going to land, on him, the ex con, the perfect scapegoat, and for the first time in his life he let fear govern his actions, he already had two strikes against him, he couldn’t go back to prison.

Ezra had taken the opportunity to take off, he had been two blocks away when he had stopped running, he had leant against the wall of a cheap burger joint, pulling air into his burning starving lungs.  Where the hell did he have to run to, he wouldn’t make it out of the city before he was caught, and dragged back, and given his reputation, Larabee would beat the crap out of him first, it’s what Muller would have done, so why would Larabee be any different. Just then the mobile phone in his pocket began to ring, he fished it out, and saw the caller’s Larabee. The phone rang again vibrating in his hand, this time it was a text, GET YOUR ASS BACK NOW L.

“To run or not to run that is the question.” Ezra spoke out aloud, and then shook his head, and turned back towards the warehouse, he had to figure that they would have to put him into a holding cell first, and he had a way out of there, that’s if he could move after Larabee got finished with him.

The moment that he had entered the warehouse, he had been pinned by Chris’s gaze, Buck had grinned at him, patting his shoulder as if he was trying to reassure him, “Glad to see you Ez, we got worried there thought you had gotten hauled off by the   cops.”

“No as you can see I am still here Mr. Wilmington.” But even as he said it he knew that Chris didn’t believe him, and neither did Vin Tanner, the Texan stood behind his boss, and a sniper rifle cradled in his arms, dressed in the all black of a SWAT assault team member. Of course Tanner was their eye in the sky, their guardian angel; he would have seen him take off.

Chris closed the distance between them, Ezra refused to break their eye contact, when the ATF leader was just a stride away from him, he offered up his wrists to be cuffed, fully expecting to be knocked to the ground for resisting arrest, it had happened before.

But instead of stopping Chris brushed past him, “later Standish,” then he was heading out of the warehouse to where their vehicles were parked, leaving Ezra stood there with his hands raised offering his wrists for cuffing, before they fell down to hang by his sides.

From the looks the other members of the team gave him he knew that they all aware that he had run out on them. He was surprised when he got out of the warehouse to find the team vehicle was still waiting for him, it wouldn’t been the first time that he had been left behind to make his own way home. The ride back to the Federal building was in silence.

Now three hours after the official end of the mission, he had finished typing up his mission report, and was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Ezra looked round the office, and ran over in his head what he knew of his colleagues, Dr Nathan Jackson was on the phone with his wife, in the short time he knew them, and he had always seen the doctor call in once a job was finished to reassure her he was okay. Josiah Sanchez a double PhD had about four books opened in front of him, and was cross referencing something obscure, this was his way of unwinding, to sink himself down into academia..

JD the kid was in charge of all things technical and was chattering a mile a minute, as he worked on the communication equipment they had been using earlier. Buck Wilmington was their explosive expert and in charge of all things female that had a pulse was sat back in his chair his feet up on his desk, throwing and catching a mini football, lost in the retentiveness of the action. Vin Tanner the deadly sniper was resting against the desk his head on his arms and sleeping soundly. Not the Ezra would attempt to wake him; he had seen what had happened when one of Team 3 had gone to shake Vin awake. The man had been on the floor with a glock biting into the back of the head before he had realized what was happening, Vin was a human weapon, and he was just thankful that he was on his side. For a  man who that could move with such lethal speed and power, Vin was remarkably laid back and easy going, but then he had to be, because Ezra was pretty sure that Vin was more than just a good friend of the  unpredictable leader of the Team 7. That led him to Chris Larabee….  Ezra was jerked from his thoughts as Chris Larabee suddenly loomed up in front of him, talk of the devil he mused.

“Standish my office now.” Chris turned on his heel, and stalked back into what Ezra thought of as his lair.

Ezra got slowly to this feet, and tugged on the cuffs of his jacket into place, this was the only good suit that he had, and that was what he had been wearing when he had been sent down for five years. The rest of his clothes were brought from the local  thrift shop, with the small amount of money left over after the government paid the flea pit of a hotel in Purgatory for his room. By cutting out breakfast, and buying the old bread, and out of date tins he could make ends meet, and have a little left over for bus fares, and the cheap whiskey which was keeping him warm at night, by sleeping in his thrift clothes he didn’t have to put money in the meter for the heating and saved himself a couple of bucks.  At night sitting alone in the dark, all he had all the time in the world to think over what he would do if he ran, and managed to get his hands on his stash of money and stolen goods that he could fence, it was a pipe dream but one that kept him sane.

“Take a seat Standish,” Chris’s words snapped him back to the present.

Ezra eased himself down into the seat, “JD ran a trace on your tracker, and you know what it showed me.” Chris leaned back in his chair; he left the question hanging into the air.

“It would show that you have evidence that I ran after the bust, and that I came back. But it’s enough to cancel out my probation if you want to push it” Ezra put in levelly.

“Why did you run?”

Ezra couldn’t help but sitting up a little straighter, and he knew that he was showing his surprise, where were the threats, the infamous Larabee temper.

“The bust went wrong, I knew that you were going to throw me back to prison, it’s happened before, Mr. Larabee, I make a good scapegoat.”

“But you came back?”

“Where did I have to run too, Mr. Larabee? Put it down to a knee jerk reaction” Ezra shrugged it was then Larabee surprised him again when he smiled, okay as smiles went it was like a great white eying up a fat little seal, but it was unexpected.

“You’ve been a bad boy what do you expect.” Ezra couldn’t help but give Larabee a shocked look; the last thing he was expecting was playful. Then Chris continued, “The bust went down the toilet,” when he was about to cut in Chris had raised a hand stopping him. “But that was the fault of the local PD, their Captain tried to drop it onto us, but Travis stopped that in its tracks. Next time, wait before you take off, no one fucks with my team, and that includes you Standish. You do your job, and I’ll have your back, you run again figure you’re dead.”

Ezra couldn’t repress a shudder as he saw that Chris Larabee meant every word of it.

“That is a deal Mr. Larabee.”

Chris nodded and got up, collected his black duster, “We’re all going to the Saloon, you coming.”

“No, I am.”                                                                                                                                   

“Let me rephrase that Ezra, you are coming.”

And that was how Ezra found himself three hours later, sat at a corner table, a glass of beer in front of him, picking at the pizza, Team 7 had ordered. Instead of holding him at arm’s length, they where including him something that was an alien concept after the last team. So maybe he would stay around a little longer and see what Team 7 was like.

Chris Larabee’s voice cut into this thoughts, “how many jobs have you run with us now?”

Ezra arched an eyebrow, Chris knew very well, but he answered him all the same. “Three in the last six weeks.”

“How many hit the fan?”

“One, Mr. Larabee as well you know, I think I have over stayed my welcome.” Ezra started to get to his feet, only to have Chris’s hand latch onto his arm and pull him back down into his seat, rocking his chair backwards.

“You’re not getting the point, Ezra,” Chris shook his head, “you did good work we’ve got to work on the trust angle thought.”

“I told you I wouldn’t run.” Ezra said, and then added with a cocky smile, “trust is a two way street, Mr. Larabee remember that.

“That flea hole of a hotel, are you attached to it.” Chris said swirling the drink round in his glass.

“I’ve had better, but the FBI made the choice I didn’t.”

“You’re not FBI any more, you’re ATF, and you have a two miles radius to play around with, find a better one, and as long as you can prove that you’re paying for it from your FBI allocated account, I’ll sign off on it.” Chris paused as he saw the look on Ezra’s face, “you are using your FBI bank account. DAMN,” Chris exploded “what else did Muller fuck up on, you’re getting paid.”

“A payment voucher from the accounts department each week, the bank across the road cashes it for me.”

Chris was doing the maths, after the rent on the room was paid, Ezra would have been short of money, seriously short. Quickly he racked his brains, Ezra only wore that one suit, but then he and Vin weren’t the most fashion conscious men of the Team 7. But even so how the hell did he miss it. When had he seen Ezra eating at work? Other than the free pizza and cakes that seemed to appear from time to time in the clerical offices. The anger building in Chris wasn’t aimed at Ezra Standish but at himself. All his men had come to him during the last month, concerned that an attempt at friendship was thrown back at them, so in the end they had decided to wait for Ezra to make the first move, all of them aware of the casual abuse that he had suffered at the hands of the last team. But it seemed that even that had been wrong, shit how many more ways could he screw up with his new consultant.

“Okay tomorrow, I will arrange for your bank account to be accessed, the same rules apply as when you were inside, and had a  commissary account, your   money can only be deposited into your bank account  from nominated sources, and we can audit it at any time, to check the origins of your income.” Chris held Ezra’s gaze “and don’t make me regret it.”

Then one month later

Ezra entered the main office, Buck was grinning widely at him as he heard Chris’s voice from his private office “Standish get your ass in here now.” 

“Our master’s voice Ez, best not keep him waiting.” Buck said.

Attempting to back out Ezra came to a halt as he backed into Josiah, the big profiler, hand pushed him forward, Ezra batted his hand away, made an effort of straitening his jacket, and brushing some of the dust from, and sauntered to the door of Chris’s door. He gave it a sharp knock, “You bellowed Mr. Larabee.”

“Plant your ass in that chair and tell me where the hell you got enough money to move into the artist’s quarter.”

“My mother died.”

“Try again.”

“My mother didn’t die”

“Your mother had died and come back more times than Lazarus, but keep going.” Chris drawled, as he made himself comfortable, knowing that this could take some time.

Ezra ignored him, “She sent me some money via my bank account she was after all a nominated source on my commissary account, allowing me to add that to the money that the FBI pays me and I moved to Clifton House, and.” Ezra broke off as he saw Chris’s finger lightly tapping the file on the desk.

Ezra’s mind was whirling, as to if Chris had found out that none of the money that had gone into the commissary account had come from his own private stash, funneled through an old friend using his mother as a blind.  Maude Standish was the reason he was in prison, and her maternal instinct didn’t extend to sending him money, family was family, money was something sacred. But so far he had been unable arrange access to the FBI controlled account, like he had to his commissary account,  for his shill, and that meant that he was desperately short of funds, which had prompted him to take risks.

“Gonna have another try Ez.”

Ezra knew that the use of Ez, reassured him that his leader wasn’t going to throw him back into prison, when Chris Larabee meant business he didn’t fool around, if he was going back he would already be cuffed and on his way to the holding cell.  No Chris was playing a game again, only he hadn’t told him the rules yet.

“It depends on the statue of limitations, now if.” But it was a day that Ezra wasn’t going to get to finish his sentences.

“Why don’t you tell me about the illegal poker game, in the gentleman’s club?” Chris paused and then added “the game at which you helped that DPD uncover agent out with, and nearly got your head blown off by some gun happy thug.”

“Arhh, that game, that game.”

You’re repeating yourself, Ezra,” Chris said, one blond eyebrow rising.

If Chris knew about the poker game, Ezra looked at Chris and saw the twist of the lips in a knowing smile, as he kept his gaze as he flicked open the file, and pushed a small discreet card across the table, Ez didn’t have to look at it to know what it said.  He wasn’t going to lie,  the odds where Chris knew how he had made the money, it hadn’t taken him long to meet the wealthy blue haired ladies, the ones that wanted a pretty face and a strong arm to lean on, the fact he was a paroled ex con, with a tracker giving him a forbidden edge. A few discreet escort jobs and he were in funds again.

Chris just looked at him, and he felt himself become uneasy, he had used the money to move into a better apartment, the escort work was no different than when he had been setting up a mark. If Chris threw him back into prison, for this, then it would be through the grape vein with a few embellishments within hours of him getting to  Super Max, half the prison would want to fuck him and the other half would want to kill him for being an FBI consultant.

Ezra favored him with a smile, “I am sure that we can reach an agreement,” He thought he had seen a heat in Chris’s eyes when he looked at him, and was quite willing to play up to it if it would keep him out of prison.

 That must have pressed the wrong buttons because the next second Chris’s voice dropped to a deadly growl, that made Ezra shiver, but at the same time made him hard, Ezra shifted in his seat and crossed his legs to try and hide it, not wanting to find out what Chris’s reaction would be if he found out. Chris snapped at him, “You listening to me Standish,” the older man paused and then added “that mouth of yours is going to get you into trouble one day Ez, and you’re going to regret that. And I am not talking about you going back to prison, you just get this warning once, if you try and play me like a con, you’re not going to like the consequences.”  Chris’s seemed to be waiting for him to answer, Ezra didn’t trust his voice, and just nodded “Cat got your tongue Ez,” Chris asked.

“No,” Ezra coughed and tried again, “Yes, Mr. Larabee, I understand.”

“And understand this as well, for the next month, starting tonight, your radius is going to be cut to 5 feet from your building, so from the minute Buck drops you off to when he picks you up in the morning that is going to be your life, the only exception is if the building burns down, then I better see the burned out shell, because anything else and your ass will be warming a cell in Super Max.“

Chris looked down at the file in front of him, then back up again, “you still here Ezra.”

Ezra left the office and sank down in his chair, he avoided looking at the other members of Team 7, but heard the door to Chris’s office open and close, and when he looked up Vin Tanner was missing.

 For the next month, when he wasn’t working with the team, his radius off the clock was cut savagely back, the art galleries, and all the places that made his life worth living was denied him, also after hours, when the team went for drinks he was taken and dropped off at Clifton House. The first time he sat in his apartment, and told himself that it didn’t matter, he didn’t need them; he wandered over to the window, and looked out at the street below. The palm of his hand pounded the wall near the window, in frustration, who was he kidding. He wanted to be in the Saloon, the Teams watering hole, he wanted to be listening to JD’s corny jokes, and watch the female bartender, shoot Buck down when he tried to pick her up. He wanted to watch Vin Tanner, play pool, that lean body draped so elegantly, and sensually over the pool table, but done without any conscious knowledge that he was turning heads, of every woman and even a few straight men in the bar. He wanted to see Chris Larabee holding onto his sanity by his finger tips as he watched his lover, and he was sure that Vin was that at play. He didn’t even care if he had to listen to Josiah call him son, and Nathan, telling him off, it would all be worthwhile if he could regain his place with Team 7 again.  Looking at this clock he knew that the Team would be celebrating their latest win against the bad guys. Just then his cell phone rang, he saw Chris Larabee’s name come up, “I am at home Mr. Larabee, you...” Ezra broke off and suddenly smiled, “I can be with you in 20 minutes,” he broke off as he heard a car horn, crossing quickly to the window he saw Vin’s battered Jeep, “I will see you shortly Mr. Larabee,” Ezra grabbed his jacket and hurried downstairs and into the street, pulling open the door and slide inside the old rust bucket of a car that was Vin’s pride and joy.

“Glad to have you back, Ez.” Vin drawled, and he drove away he added, “Got me two plump ducks from DPD SWAT at the bar, feel like plucking them,” Ezra saw the smile and matched it.

“Lead on Mr. Tanner, lead on.”  Ezra sank back into the chair, he was back, where he belonged.

Present

Ezra took his younger brother by the arm and led him over to his desk, leaning in close as they talked. He saw the tracker that Neal wore, and raised an eyebrow, “you’re still wearing it.”

“So far Peter is loathed to take it off except when I am working a con for them.”

“I think they call them stings,” Ezra said with a grin and a nod towards the other members of his team.”

“Peter’s the same; it’s a sting when they do it and a con when I do it, go figure. So how did you get Mr. Congeniality to cut your tether?”

“Well it was like this……………………….”

The tracker had come off when he had been taken to hospital after he had tackled a drug dealer who was about to pull the trigger on Nathan Jackson, while the doctor was working on JD after the kid had been hit. The speed he hit him, with had taken them both off the edge of the loading ramp, and he had ended up with a dislocated shoulder, concussion and a badly bruised knee and twisted ankle. So when the anklet was cut off and it was never replaced, that had been a sobering moment, up until then he had told himself that he couldn’t run because he was tethered to his team, that if he ran he would be hunted down. But once that tracker came off it because a personal choice, to live clean or to go back to the con game, and gambling that had been his life up until his capture. 

Ezra shook his head ruefully, Team 7 could be the most infuriating people out, not backing off when he tried to shut them out, and there when he need them, he was still surprised when he remembered coming round in hospital with Chris and Vin sitting by the side of his bed. The fact the two of them had sat by his side all night had been unsettling no one had ever cared about him enough to do that. One time he had had a con go wrong and had ended up at the wrong end of a beating, he had managed to drag himself into a local hospital, and escaped as soon as he was able, but it had been a sobering time laying in pain, to know that no one cared enough to look for him. Oh his mother had been the soul of concern afterwards, but there was no way he could contact her, she moved around a lot, often out of the country. Now he had six men who seemed to hell bent on looking after him.

“What about you Toon.” The childhood nickname made Neal smile; it was a long time since he had heard it.

“Mozzie told me that you sent him the information about the release program.”

Ezra nodded Mozzie was a small mole of a man with thick glasses with enough phobias to keep an physiatrist happy for life, but he could be trusted  Ezra knew especially were Neal was concerned to make sure he got the information he needed to free himself.  “The ATF aren’t stupid enough to let me have totally unrestricted, unmonitored access to the internet, but I knew that by the time JD caught the email, that Mozzie’s account would be inaccessible, I guessed that he would use one of the self collapsing router accounts. I just told him to look at my case, and that it set legal precedence in US law, and you could use it if you played Peter Burke right. You know it amused the hell out of me that they never made the connection between us. The look on their faces was well worth it.” He grinned and it was mirrored by his brother, “after all we can’t let them have it all their own way.” Ezra’s smile faded “then I got a computer hit on you,” Ezra leaned forward, “I can’t believe that you escaped prison three months shy of your release date, what the hell happened.”

“Kate she stopped coming, I knew something was wrong, I couldn’t wait,” there was an edge of desperation to Neal’s voice that only his brother could detect. Personally Ezra had only met Kate Moreau twice, and although she was a pretty girl, and Neal was head over heels in love with her, there was something about her that set off all his alarm bells. But if anyone could get Neal to break out it was her. “So you got caught by the same FBI agent that had caught you the first time SAC Peter Burke. Rather careless wasn’t it”

“When I got to the apartment, I had missed her by two days; somehow it didn’t seem important to keep running.   Before they took me away, I asked Peter to come to the prison in a week’s time, by then Mozzie had given all the information I needed to put the idea forward to Peter. He made me sit and stew for a couple of weeks but he came round in the end……”.

Attica Correctional Facility- New York

SAC Peter Burke was stood outside of the prison, Jones one of his probies had volunteered to come with him, to collect Neal Caffrey when he was released, but Peter had waved him away, Neal was no threat, the one thing he had learned very quickly was that Neal Caffrey was not violent, he went out of his way to avoid conflict, relying on his quick wits and a good turn of speed to escape.  He halted Neal before he stepped outside of the prison, making him show him the tracking device on his ankle, where Caffrey was concerned he couldn’t afford to underestimate him.  Neal grinned at him, and Peter patted his pocket making sure his wallet was still there, it was ridicules Caffrey was nowhere near him, but there was something about that grin, that made him double check.  He had spent three years chasing this particular ghost, the younger man was without doubt one of the top art forgers, at the apex of his talents, one of the top conmen in the country, and a hopeless romantic. Now it was going to be his job to keep Neal on the straight and level, because if this failed and he went back to prison he would never see the outside again, third strike and life.  Peter vowed there and then that was not going to happen.

“That isn’t  to say Ez, that he hasn’t threatened to send me back a few times, but he’s a decent men, and one that,” Neal trailed off, as if he was saying too much.”

“You trust him don’t you?”

“The only person outside of family that I do. Pathetic really considering our history.”

“Not really, I feel the same with Team 7, I think for once we were lucky,” Ezra paused “could almost make you believe in a higher power.”

Neal cocked a head towards the door, as the office door opened, “talking of which,” he said.

Chris Larabee stood in the door way, “Caffrey, Standish, in here now.”

The two con man exchanged a look between themselves and headed into the office.”

To be continued in Forced FED 3