By Thursday, Peter was growing tense, and it could be felt throughout the whole office. Alex had claimed that it would take Adler least to the end of this week to get the goods shipped to Europe. While he wasn't necessarily going to believe Alex Hunter at this point, there was a chance the treasure would be out of the country tomorrow.

However, all leads seemed to have dried up. No one could find anything about the treasure. Even other departments had pitched in to share intelligence, but no agent, no paid informant, no CI had brought in anything useful. They had run across a couple of other stolen items in the process, but nothing that coincided with treasure that might have come from a 1940s Nazi U-boat.

Peter's relationship with Neal still wasn't properly back on track either, and that just added to Peter's irritable mood. He missed having Neal around, but he just couldn't bring himself to be sure. After searching Neal's apartment, he had to admit that he Neal did seem innocent. But what if that was just his friendship with Neal getting the better of his FBI intuition? Other agents who weren't in the White Collar division had suggested often enough that Peter had become blind to Caffrey's criminal nature.

And even though he really was beginning to think that Neal couldn't have stolen the paintings, he still got the impression that he was hiding something. Neal certainly hadn't jumped in to find who had stolen the treasure, as well as his own paintings. Sure Hughes had told him to stay out, but since when had Caffrey listened to something like that when he had a vested interest? No, if Caffrey had wanted the thief found, he would have been doing his own research, and that, most of all, was what was keeping Peter from really reconnecting with his con/partner/friend.

Hughes broke Peter's reverie as he turned into Peter's office. "I just got a call from the NYPD; we have a new case."

Peter looked up, "We don't have time for another case! The U-boat treasure could be gone after this weekend. We can't let this go!"

Hughes held up this hand, "Look, I realize this U-boat case is important. Trust me, my superiors have been harassing me constantly, asking for updates, but right now we are fresh out of real leads. All of our major suspects are dead ends right now. Adler is dead, and his men have finally confessed to the other charges. If they are holding out on us, about the treasure, I don't see what we can do. Haversham, or whatever he calls himself, has been a dead-end as has Alexandra Hunter. We still don't even know his real name, and we have absolutely nothing solid on either of them. And Neal is sitting under our noses." Peter tried to interject but was cut short. ""I'm not pulling you from the U-boat case."

Peter tilted his quizzically, "But.."

"However," Hughes continues, "This new case is a big heist, and I'm going to put part of the team on it. It's not like you really need everyone until you have a new lead, and at least we know what we are looking for in the new case."

Peter sighed, "Alright, so what are we looking at?"

"Last night the Metropolitan Museum of Art had one of its more famous pieces stolen from the Cloisters."

Peter knew that the MET's security was top notch. The Cloisters was its own building dedicated to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. The building itself was actually made out of pieces of 12th century castles and garrisons. Between the thick masonry of the ancient and the technologically advanced security of the modern, the place was supposed to be incredibly difficult to rob.

"Wow, I guess that is big," Peter admitted. "What did they take?"

"It's a very famous set of tapestries known as 'The Hunt of the Unicorn.'"

Peter's eyes widened even more. He remembered seeing those back when he was on a grade-school tour. It was a series of 7 tapestries that depicted a unicorn being hunted, being penned, being killed, and being brought back to a castle dead. It was very famous.

"As I said, I'm not pulling everyone off the U-boat case, but right now this is more immediate and more concrete. Let's send Neal and Jones over to the site. Neal can look around, and Jones is more than capable of handling official matters. He'll be our point man for the case. They can have a couple of guys from the Harvard crew assist as needed," Hughes lined face left no room for questioning this time, and Peter didn't really want to question it. He understood the wisdom of the plan, though the lack of progress on the U-boat case still frustrated him.

Glints of purple and red sparkled around Jones and Neal as they walked through the gothic archways of the Cloisters. The area was beautiful in an overwhelmingly grand way. However, the room they were led into was considerably different, having more the feel of a hunting lodge than a medieval church. Thick wooden beams matched the wooden floor and a solid oak fireplace with intricately carved hunting scenes graced one wall. Only the perfectly white walls stood as a reminder that this was indeed a museum, not a hunter's dining room, and these walls were covered by seven ornate tapestries.

Neal went over to look at the one across from the door on the right. The work was beautiful. And it was a fake. "Yes, your Unicorn in Captivity seems to have broken out of captivity." Jones rolled his eyes.

The head curator who had been showing them around explained, "The electricity to the whole wing, lights and security, went out for 52 seconds at 4 pm yesterday. Security found a blown fuse, and we assumed the construction across the street had blown the power. The before and after tapes showed nothing suspicious either near the power box or any section of the Cloisters. It was half an hour laterwhen Felix Salton, one of our regular visitors, noticed something amiss. Felix is a Medieval scholar, and he could tell that the textile pattern had a mechanical texture, as opposed to a hand woven texture."

"And do you know that it wasn't replaced earlier? That the blackout wasn't just a coincidence?" Neal pondered.

"No, no. We actually just had the room repainted, and each piece was replaced yesterday morning by a team of experts who certified the safety and authenticity of each tapestry. There was also a lot of interest surrounding the re-opening of the room. Dozens of scholars were in and out all day. Someone would have noticed it sooner," the curator explained, his frustration evident.

Neal paced the room. It was 12 feet by 36 with only one door. He went to examine the fireplace. A small person could certainly fit inside it, but it would be difficult. When he asked the curator, he replied that the police had checked the flue. It was never used and had a solid iron cap on which no traces of tampering could be found. There were also security cameras on the roof. They had also been down for the 52 seconds, but no unusual activity had been seen on them before or after the outage.

"A snatch and grab while the lights were off?" Jones prodded.

The curator chimed in, "Security tapes after the event show no one leaving the area, and we've been able to contact every person who was in the vicinity. The regular police couldn't find a thing. That's why we decided to call you guys in."

Jones continued listing off option, and every time, Neal or the curator came up with an objection.

Finally Jones sighed in frustration. "Well how would you have stolen it Neal?"

"If it were me," Neal said with a grin, "I would have walked out with under my arm, never having turned off the security camera in the first place. You'd be surprised how little people pay attention as long as you act like you are supposed to walking off with an $8,000,000 painting. I mean if I were to ever hypothetically try to steal some art."

"So you're telling me that you think whoever it was just walked out with it?" Questioned the curator slightly agitated.

Neal's grin fell, "No, because you are right. The security tape evidence, and your security system don't back that theory up."

"Well great," said the curator throwing up his arms. "Apparently the tapestry just magically transformed itself as it seems no one is capable of stealing it. Not only do we not know who it is or where it might be, we don't even know where to start looking!"

Neal wasn't going to admit it out loud, but whoever it was, they were good. Possibly even better than himself.

Stopped at a red light on the way back to the bureau, Jones asked, "So, tell me. You steal something that famous, what do you do with it? Hypothetically of course."

"Well, generally you either sell it or keep it for yourself." Neal replied.

"But what about you? Do you just let some rich collector have it? Let it while away in some private back room?"

"Well as much as I'd love to have my own private collection, it's not so easy to carry a truckload of art when you're moving from one hotel to the next, aiming to stay incognito. Anyways, you still have to pay the bills," Caffrey shrugged.

Jones pulled forward as the light turned green, "So that's it, it's just for the payday? I just can't see the appeal."

"No, no. It's the thrill. The adrenaline of knowing that you just pulled it off; that you bested the most expensive security system, made away with one of the most guarded treasures in the world."

"Now that I can relate to," Clinton said. Neal tilted his head quizzically. "Why do you think I became an FBI agent?"

"Well I'm sure it wasn't for the paperwork," Neal quipped as Clinton turned into the FBI garage.

"Ha, no. It's that feeling when you know that you just returned a priceless heirloom to a family, that you just brought down one of the most elusive thieves out there, and when at the end of the day you know that you put all of your brainpower in and proved yourself smarter. That's why I do my job."

Neal looked at him, "Hmmm, you know, you might not have been a bad con," he said as they got out of the car.

Jones chortled, "Not a chance, but you know, you aren't such a bad agent yourself."

As always I welcome any ideas on how to improve my writing. I'm not sure I was completely back in the swing of the story as I wrote this chapter.