I wrote this for no other reason other than I wanted to. These characters are so much fun to work with, that I thought I'd have a go after years of non- writing. I hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer. You will understand which characters I have borrowed from Mr. Eastin and which ones are my own. I make no profit from this, it is just an opportunity to escape reality for a little while, and I have returned them unharmed. Any similarities between people living or dead is purely coincidental. Thank you x

Chapter one

The view across the Manhattan skyline was breath taking and the solitary figure sat quietly on the rooftop patio savouring the view. His profile was silhouetted against the city horizon as he gently allowed his gaze to sweep the panorama. This was his favourite time of the day, the hours just after midnight and an imperceptible smile crept along his lips as his subconscious replayed a series of fond memories from his past. Yes, he agreed. Apart from the four enforced years he'd spent in high security accommodation, this was definitely his favourite time of the day. The young man pensively finished the remainder of the red wine in his glass and allowed himself to drift slowly back to the present day. Glancing at the Omega watch on his wrist, he noted that the hour was late and decided it was time he retired to bed. He stood up in one fluid movement and nonchalantly picked up his Sy Devore jacket which had been draped gracefully over the back of a chair. As if loathe to leave the freedom of the night, he cast his piercing eyes one last time over the vibrant city vista, before accepting it was finally time to go indoors. Moving with a confident, self-made authority he could easily be mistaken for a stockbroker, financier or even a film star but Neal Caffrey's life choices had placed him in a totally different category. He was arguably one of the best in his profession, many would say an expert in his craft but his particular field of expertise lay on the wrong side of the tracks. Neal Caffrey was a highly successful thief, con man and forger, who until recently had been residing in a maximum security prison for bond forgery. His story, like everything else in his life was complicated. A few months ago he had orchestrated his release from prison into the custody of Special Agent Peter Burke of the FBI and since that time he had enjoyed every precious moment of his newly acquired freedom, even if there were strings - or in his case a tracking anklet - attached.

He looked down at the small, grey box hugging his left ankle; its green light blinking silently in the dark and he had to smile again. It was a natural smile that lit up his striking, youthful features in an easy and relaxed manner. He had actually proposed this mini minder himself, when Peter had caught him for the second time. He had to admit that the man was good! Being arrested once could be considered unfortunate, but being arrested twice was careless. Neal had never, and would never, consider himself reckless and it still hurt his ego to think that he had actually been caught – twice - by the same Agent. Mozzie his friend, partner in crime and fence had warned him at the time that he had to be careful; the Feds were getting close, but Neal had never encountered the like of one Special Agent Peter Burke before and so heeded the warnings with a youthful disdain. It was certainly no surprise to Mozzie at least, when shortly afterwards Neal had been arrested by said Agent Burke and convicted of bond forgery.

Neal let this perturbing memory slide as he continued back towards the house. He crossed the patio and entered his expensively appointed room. How he had landed on his feet with this place, he mused.

He had been fortunate to meet his landlady, June, upon his first day on the outside. June had been in the thrift shop donating her late husband's suits and it was a lucky day for Neal when their paths had crossed. With his film star good looks, easy going manner and obvious style, he had used his con man charm to coax the widow into letting him have the expensive suits and had even managed to persuade her to rent him the guest room in her beautiful Manhattan home. How did Caffrey, a convicted felon, do it? Peter Burke had later wanted to know. How come he had never found bargains like June in a thrift shop? Neal had simply shrugged and smiled in his ingratiating manner by way of explanation. A few months had passed since that day and this was now Neal Caffrey's new life, but although he was living in luxury, in many ways he was still in prison.

Once inside his room he removed his Pink of London shirt, Italian silk tie and equally expensive underwear and put on his night attire. It was then that a noise downstairs caught his attention. His senses were sharp; they had been fine-tuned over the years due to the nature of his work and so he recognised when a sound was out of place, not quite right. Turning his light off, he soundlessly moved out onto the upper landing keeping his body tight against the wall. He then moved over to the bannister and peered down into the hall; the light was on in the parlour, very strange at 2 am. Curiosity, always a problem were Neal was concerned, got the better of him and he started to move down the stairs. It was then a thought struck him, that whoever was downstairs may not be of a friendly disposition and since he was dressed only in his night clothes that would put him at a distinct disadvantage. The thought of being attacked by some intruder and possibly having to travel to hospital in his pyjamas, (albeit Calvin Klein's) was disconcerting. He decided therefore, to quickly put on some other clothes and grab something to use as a weapon. Neal didn't like guns and so the only item he could find that was easy to carry, was an umbrella. Not very James Bond but it would just have to do. The light was still on downstairs when he reappeared a few minutes later and so once again he crept out onto the landing. He effortlessly navigated the stairs like an athlete, making no noise whatsoever until he arrived on the ground floor. Keeping his movements to a minimum, he gracefully crossed over the marble surface of the hall and secreted himself in a doorway. He blended seamlessly into the shadows and listened.

He was certain he could hear two voices. One of them he surmised belonged to June and that surprised Neal because she was not usually awake at this hour. He could not actually hear what was being said, but he could get an impression from the timbre and inflections in the conversation that it was not a friendly exchange. The second voice cut in and it was obvious that it was a man. He sounded angry, constantly having to check the volume of his voice as the occasional word escaped and drifted out into the quiet of the hall.

"Byron owes me!" Those words were clear enough and menacing. It took all of Neal's self-control to remain in his hiding place and not charge in waving the umbrella.

June's quiet voice was heard next. Her words were indistinct and it was obvious that she was trying to remain calm but her voice quavered occasionally. Neal was torn whether or not to intervene but the decision was made for him in the next few seconds when the man stormed out of the parlour and into the hall. Neal held his breath and tried to press himself further into the doorway even though there was no more room. He couldn't see the man's face but from his back he appeared to be about 70 years of age with a good physique. He held a hat and wore an expensive overcoat; Dolce and Gabbana Neal guessed judging by the styling and he looked as though he had money. June followed him to the front door looking subdued.

"One week, June." The male visitor was saying. "You've had it for long enough now, so I am giving you one more week to get it back to me and then we are quits. Should you decide to renege on our deal, I know where your granddaughter goes to university. Pretty girl, she should be careful who she talks to in future, New York can be a very violent city."

June was obviously shocked at the man's words but held it together like the pro she was.

"I have explained the situation to you. I cannot promise anything, but you have my word I will try my best to get it."

The man gave a derisory laugh. "Good acting, June, I commend you, but for your granddaughter's sake I hope your best is good enough. I look forward to hearing from you."

He put on his hat and grabbing the door handle, flung open the front door before disappearing into the New York night.

Neal remained perfectly still. This was not the time to confront June about what had just transpired, so he watched, albeit painfully as his landlady locked the front door, turned off the parlour lights and went slowly up the stairs to bed, her eyes wet with tears.

It took June a few minutes to get up to her room and it was only when Neal heard her door close that he finally stepped out of the doorway into the peace and quiet of the majestic hall. He let out a breath, not realising he had still been holding it, and replayed in his mind what he had just witnessed. Gently running his fingers through his dark hair, he sighed again, his eyes not focussing on anything in particular. Lost in thought, the young con man stayed in the hall for a few minutes before finally shaking himself free of the trance. Absently using the umbrella as a walking stick he quietly ascended to his room where he lay down purposefully on his bed, knowing he wouldn't be getting much sleep that night.