“We have the building surrounded, Sir.”
“All exits and entries are locked down.”
“We have another team on standby.”
“What’s the course of action?”
“Peter, what do you want to do?”
Peter shook himself. He was standing on the sidewalk, staring into space. The voices seemed so far away. The double doors of Midtown Mutual stood before him, the lights bright inside the bank as FBI agents searched the building for any sight of Allen or Maverick.
Neal had been taken, but Peter didn’t know how.
And how did they get him out so quickly?
But those questions weren’t what stunned him, putting him into a frigid daze.
“Looks like we meet again, Caffrey.”
Peter looked up. Diana was standing in front of him. She was holding a radio, and Peter heard dozens of agents relaying statuses over the machine. Diana was staring at him, a certain concern in her eyes.
“Yeah, Diana, what is it?”
“This is your team,” she said slowly, firmly. “They want to know what your plan is. What do you want them to do?”
“Search everything.” said Peter mechanically. “Find any trace of Allen, Maverick or Neal.”
Diana just shook her head. “We already have. They found nothing. The bank is empty. No security guards, no employees working overtime, nothing.” She let out a breath, staring at the bank. “They seemed to disappear into thin air.”
“No security?” asked Peter, his brows kneading. That doesn’t sound right.
“Allen’s manager,” said Diana with a shrug. “He could have easily called off his own dogs.”
Peter huffed out a sigh. “Did our agents get inside the vault?” he asked. “Did Allen and Maverick get away with whatever it is they were after?”
“Agents are working their way inside now. We have Midtown employees on the way, one of them has access.”
Peter ran a hand through his hair. “How did this happen?” None of this made any sense. Why did they take Neal? If Allen and Maverick stole what they wanted, what good was it to take Neal? And even if they didn’t steal what they came for, what did Neal have to do with it?
“You took something from us five years ago.”
Peter’s eyes narrowed as Maverick’s words snaked into his mind. Five years ago. Five years ago was the heist at Midtown, the one Maverick attempted. Why was he blaming Neal for taking something?
No. Neal couldn’t have been there. He had no reason to be. Why would Neal have been at Midtown that day? Peter was there. Peter would have seen him. And besides, Maverick didn’t mention—
“I was framed.”
That’s what Maverick kept repeating: that he was framed. Could Neal have…
Could he really? Would he really have robbed Midtown Mutual all those years ago? But…
That was it. Neal’s been acting strange all week, ever since this case began.
Because he was involved.
Peter looked back at her again, snapping out of his daze. Diana was glaring at him.
“I have to go.” he said suddenly, backing away.
Diana looked taken aback. “Go? Go where? This is your job, Peter!”
“That’s where I’m going,” said Peter, raising a hand and hailing a taxi. “To do my job.”
Peter banged on the door. There was a only a small chance that he would be there and Peter prayed that he was. After he hit the door the fifth time, Peter heard a shout from inside.
“I’m armed and not afraid to shoot!”
“Mozzie!” yelled Peter. “Open the door!”
The door opened a second later. Mozzie looked at him, puzzled. “Suit?”
Peter strode through the door and Mozzie shut it behind him. Peter turned and looked at the little man, and realized Mozzie was holding a lamp.
Peter raised an eyebrow. “That’s your weapon?”
“Desperate times,” he said. Mozzie set the lamp back down on Neal’s table and asked, “What are you doing here? Neal isn’t home.”
“I know, I came here to see you.”
Mozzie’s eyebrows kneaded. “Why? Isn’t Neal supposed to be with you right now?”
“That’s why I’m here,” With a heavy sigh, Peter said, “I need you to tell me what happened during the Midtown Mutual heist five years ago.”
Mozzie straightened immediately. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Mozzie,” sighed Peter, running a hand through his hair. “I don’t have time for games. Were you involved or not?”
“Is this an interrogation?” asked Mozzie skeptically.
“I’m asking you a question.”
Peter huffed out another sigh. I don’t have time for this! “No, it’s not. Just tell me!”
“Whatever you tell me could save Neal’s life.” said Peter finally, the words heavy.
That finally got Mozzie’s attention. Concern etched into his face and he looked speechless for a few seconds. If the situation hadn’t been so serious, Peter might have reveled in that. “Neal? What do you mean? Is he in danger?”
Peter steeled himself. “He was taken an hour ago by two men named Roger Allen and Maverick—”
"Maverick?!” exclaimed Mozzie, eyes widening behind his glasses. Peter started a little at the sheer amount of fear in the man’s gaze. “No, no, no! Suit, you don’t understand, you need to find Neal now—”
“I’m working on that!” growled Peter. “Maverick told Neal that Neal stole something from them five years ago. Was Neal at that heist?”
Mozzie was suddenly quiet. The fear was still strong in his eyes but there was something else now. A different kind of fear. A hesitation. Peter knew why; if Mozzie told Peter what happened, he was admitting to guilt.
Peter sighed. “Alright.” He took his badge from his jacket pocket and threw it on the table. “Full immunity. I’m granting you full immunity for anything you say now.”
Mozzie hesitated, then walked to the table and picked up the badge, inspecting it. “Is this a fake?”
“No, Mozzie!” snapped Peter. “It’s real, I’m serious! Full immunity. Now sit down and tell me everything that happened that night!”
Mozzie sighed, dropping the badge back on the table and pulling out a chair. Peter followed. Peter stared at the smaller man, waiting for him to speak. Before he did, Mozzie stood and went to Neal’s wine collection and poured himself a glass, bringing it to the table and sitting back down.
“Yes,” said Mozzie at last. “Neal and I were… involved.” Mozzie said the last word almost as if it was yanked from him. Peter was surprised he still didn’t reflexively throw an allegedly in front of it. Then Mozzie looked at him, puzzled. “Wait, didn’t Neal already tell you?”
“Tell me what?” asked Peter. “Neal didn’t tell me anything.” Neal never tells me anything.
“Neal, everything okay?”
A pause. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“You’ve been acting strange all week.”
Peter felt guilt run a hot line through his veins. He knew Neal better than anyone. Better than even Neal himself. Peter should have known there was something bothering his CI. He should have pressed. Neal might not have said the words, but he’d told Peter enough.
Peter just hadn’t been listening.
“He told me he was going to tell you!” Mozzie rubbed his face.
“Tell me what?” demanded Peter, irritation and anger with himself running hotly through him.
“Maverick has it out for Neal,” explained Mozzie. “If he has Neal now…” Mozzie trailed off.
Peter rubbed a hand over his face. “What happened? That heist; what happened?”
Mozzie let out a breath and took a long sip of the wine, as if readying himself for telling so much truth. “Well, it was five years ago. You were hunting Neal down and we were still in New York. We needed money but you and your little friends were making things difficult.”
Peter raised an eyebrow. “I’m not going to apologize, if that’s what you’re waiting for.”
“Anyway,” said Mozzie, continuing, “Neal, Kate and I—”
“Kate was involved, too?”
Mozzie rubbed his face. “Suit, please, do you want me to tell you the story or not?” Peter held up a hand in surrender and Mozzie continued, “We needed cash, fast. We wanted to get the hell out of the city. So, Kate became a new employee at the bank, and she was our in. That night, Neal and I snuck into the bank as security guards. Things were going well until some guy, that Roger Allen, stopped us. He let Neal go but told me to resume my post outside—”
“That was you!” exclaimed Peter. “Allen said something about running into two security guards but… But he looked at Neal and stopped talking.” That was why. He’d recognized Neal.
“Yeah,” Mozzie went on, “well I was supposed to have gone to the vault with Neal. With us separated, Neal would only be able to carry half the amount of money. I mean, it would still have been something.” Mozzie shrugged. “But, anyway, I went back to my ‘post’ where Allen left me, and then I initiated phase three of the plan. I set fire to one of the offices.”
“So the fire was you, too?”
“It was well under control,” assured Mozzie. “Security ran to deal with that and then I made a clear path for Kate and Neal to escape. But things didn’t go as planned.” Mozzie’s expression darkened. “Kate was supposed to meet me but she never showed. But I had no idea what was happening to Neal. I had to wait a good five or ten minutes before they came out of the back door. Kate was half-dragging Neal out of it. Neal said that there was another thief there—Maverick—and Kate said that he’d run into Neal and shot him. We got Neal out of there as soon as possible but by the time we made it back to the car, Neal was unconscious. Kate and I drove him to a hospital outside of Queens. He didn’t wake up for two days.”
Mozzie fell silent. Peter clasped his hands together. Neal had almost died that night, and Peter had been only feet away from him. They were in the same building.
“Is that gunfire? Were you hit?”
Peter froze. The phone conversation from that night jumped into his mind.
The employee who called, saying Maverick was trying to kill him.
Someone who knew Peter’s number offhand.
Someone who had been shot.
“Mozzie,” said Peter, “did Neal say if he called—”
“—you?” finished Mozzie. “Yeah. He did.”
“That was him.” Peter rubbed his face, several emotions clashing in his veins. “All these years, I’ve been wondering… and it was him.” An uneasy feeling settled in his stomach. That employee—Neal—had been terrified. He remembered Maverick’s yelling. The gun going off. The employee’s agonized cry of pain.
Neal’s cry of pain.
And now Maverick had him again.
“Alright,” said Peter, heart picking up a bit in speed. “What happened between Neal and Maverick?”
“Neal framed him.” said Mozzie. “He filled a bag with—”
“—$1.5 million—” Peter interjected.
“—and left him pinned underneath a shelf.”
“Neal broke into Midtown tonight.” said Peter, guilt still swarming inside him. “Allen and Maverick found him and they seemed to disappear into thin air. How—”
“There’s a manhole outside the back door. Well, now it’s underneath a dumpster.” said Mozzie. “Hard to see. That’s how we got in and out, and that’s probably how they did, too.”
Peter lifted his head, pieces fitting into place. “That makes sense, there were no getaway vehicles.”
“It leads to an empty warehouse in Queens.”
Peter smiled grimly. “Looks like we have a lead.”
“Where’s the drive, Caffrey?”
Maverick’s voice jumped back into Peter’s head. The drive. What drive? What did Maverick mean by that? Flash drive? That must be what they’d been looking for.
“Mozzie,” said Peter, “do you know anything about a drive? A flash drive? Hard drive? Anything from that vault?”
“No.” Mozzie shook his head. “But if it was in the vault, there would only be a handful of people who knew about it. Like—”
“—the previous manager.” said Peter. He sighed. “Did Neal take whatever it is Maverick was looking for? This drive?”
“No.” said Mozzie, a shadow crossing his face. “He didn’t take anything except a bullet that day.”
Peter read the hurt in Mozzie’s eyes. It was such a raw emotion; Peter didn’t see that in Mozzie very much. It was unsettling. “We’ll find him, Moz. I promise.”
Mozzie didn’t look reassured.
“Maverick still thinks that Neal took whatever it is that he and Allen want; this drive.” said Peter. “Neal is still valuable to them, and Neal will play that to his advantage.” Suddenly he wondered if he was trying to convince Mozzie or himself. Peter shook himself and leveled a strong, sincere gaze with Mozzie. “He’ll get out of this. He’ll be fine. It’s Neal.”