sam_storyteller: (Crossover Fic)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2011-03-27 03:11 pm

Rematch 1/2

Title: Rematch
Rating: PG-13 (violence and language)
Warnings: Relatively graphic violence
Summary: Neal and Sherlock's rematch in London was the high point of the International Law Enforcement Conference -- until Neal's tracker went dark.
BETA CREDIT, JESUS: [livejournal.com profile] 51stcenturyfox, [personal profile] girlpearl, [livejournal.com profile] juniper200, [livejournal.com profile] neifile7, [livejournal.com profile] spiderine, [livejournal.com profile] tzikeh. Oh god, the commas. If you'd like to see what it's like to be beta'd by this horde, check out The Beta Quotes File for Rematch.
Notes: Sequel to Paper Chase.

Now in Russian!

Also available at AO3.

***

Two consultants were credited with catching the serial killer known as the Red Painter.

One was very good at escaping, and the other was very good at chasing. Both of them were very, very good at running.

This is what they talked about:


Murder is not an intellectual pursuit.

Murder, and the capture of murderers, is the only intellectual pursuit. -SH

In a world of pure analysis, maybe. But this isn't.

More's the pity. Still, you are inaccurate. -SH

Prove your thesis.

Imagine all works of art were ranked the same, from children's crayon drawings through Goyas and Monets. Imagine you had to create a work of art that said something, that was indeed art, but was by social convention indistinguishable (to the average police inspector) from a child's scrawls. Or imagine you had to pick that out of the mob. That is the act of murder and the act of pursuit. -SH

I call bullshit.

If that is your only rebuttal, I believe I win. -SH

I've been told that winning is an infantile concept.

Yes, but I still win. -SH


***

"Did you have anything to do with this?"

Neal looked up as Peter dropped a large white envelope on his desk.

"Almost definitely not," he said, without opening the envelope. "Why, did someone mail us our new case? Is this anthrax? The old rattlesnake-eggs trick?"

Peter gestured to the envelope. Neal opened the flap and drew out a sheaf of papers. After a few seconds spent perusing the cover letter, he grinned. "No. But I bet I know who did."

"Holmes," Peter said. Neal nodded. "He arranges immunity for your crimes on British soil, and now I'm guest speaker at a conference in London. Who does this guy know?"

"People, I guess," Neal said, waving a hand dismissively. "Peter, this is big though. Invited keynote speaker at the New Scotland Yard International Law Enforcement Convocation. You'll be the face of the FBI."

"Poster boy. Great," Peter drawled. He sighed and produced a second envelope from his briefcase. Neal stared at it. "And here's yours."

"But I don't -- " Neal frowned, opening it, and skimmed the letter. "...pleased to accept your application to present Policing From The Other Side: Criminal Views Of Law Enforcement And Informer Contact..." he started to laugh. "They want me to give a talk on crooks."

"You're not going," Peter said, turning to walk away to his office.

"Peter!" Neal rose and followed him. "You have to let me go with you. I'll wear handcuffs. I'll wear handcuffs attached to you. You can give me a twenty-foot radius. I promise I won't run. I'm going to be surrounded by cops. Where would I go?"

"Knowing you, you'd just see it as a challenge," Peter retorted.

"Peter, please. I can travel to the UK legally now. You could bring Elizabeth, show her the sights. And I'd be educating international law enforcement. I promised Sherlock a rematch in London."

"None of these are reasons I have to take you with me," Peter said. "Even if the FBI would let you travel."

"But you're going, right? I'll pay my own way. Look, our hotel is paid for. I'll buy a plane ticket myself."

"You're suspiciously excited about this," Peter observed.

"I've been stuck in four miles of Manhattan for years. I was in prison before that. I love Manhattan, but come on!"

Peter sat back in his chair, gazing up at Neal, who looked like a teenager asking to take the car out on a Friday night. He was practically trembling with eagerness. "No."

Neal was opening his mouth to launch into an extended whine when Hughes appeared in the doorway. "Burke, you're going to London. Take Caffrey."

"Take a convicted felon on house arrest out of the country," Peter said.

"Long strings are being pulled," Hughes said. He glanced at Neal. "If you run, Peter won't protect you."

"Protect me?" Neal asked.

"Long strings," Hughes repeated, an ominous note in his voice. Neal nodded, eyes wide in a combination of fear and innocence.

***

"I shouldn't think this sort of thing would be your...thing," John said, as he and Sherlock walked into New Scotland Yard.

"It's somewhat lucky I'm a genius," Sherlock said. "How do you manage to communicate with other people?"

"You know what I mean," John said. "Conference on policing. Lot of plods, lot of technology you already know about. You're not really a people person, Sherlock."

"You've noticed, have you?" Sherlock asked with a smile.

"It does make itself evident after a while."

"Must we really go through a tedious explication of my motivations?" Sherlock sighed. "The police learn from criminals. Criminals learn from the police. Back and forth they go, couldn't be more boring."

"And you're above all that, are you?"

"Of course. I learn from the evidence. That's much purer. But it's wise to keep a hand in nonetheless," Sherlock replied. "Besides, I've arranged a reward for myself."

"God save me," John murmured. "What reward?"

Sherlock paused across the bullpen from Lestrade's office and nodded at it. John turned. Through the glass, he could see Lestrade shaking hands with someone, talking animatedly. All he could see was the back of the other man's head, but he looked familiar --

And then a third man, sitting in the chairs outside Lestrade's office, jumped to his feet.

"Sherlock!" Neal Caffrey yelled.

"God save us all," John muttered, as Neal bounded across the bullpen.

"Hi!" Neal said when he reached them, grinning huge and wild. Sherlock grinned back and shook his hand.

"Neal. Pawn to E4."

"Pawn to D6."

"I'll checkmate in forty moves. You're getting better," Sherlock said.

"I cheat," Neal answered.

"Yes, I'm aware."

"Caffrey!" a familiar voice barked. John saw Peter Burke leaning out through the door to Lestrade's office. "Get in here."

Sherlock followed without invitation, and John followed Sherlock as they crowded into Lestrade's office. Lestrade looked like he wanted mood stabilisers.

"Should have known you two bad pennies would turn up," he said to John and Sherlock. "Right, let's get this ceremony over with."

Neal hiked up his left trouser leg and placed his foot on the table. Burke held up Neal's tracker, which had come with them in his carry-on from Manhattan, and offered it to Lestrade. "Your jurisdiction, your honours."

This seemed to be some kind of police dance; Lestrade looked satisfied, as if this had been the right thing to say, and fixed the cuff around Neal's ankle. Neal dropped his foot, bounced briefly on his toes, and nodded.

"You're restricted to the conference grounds and hotel for now," Lestrade told him. "While you're in London, I'm in charge of your radius. You need to step outside of it, come to me."

"I can work with that," Neal said, grinning at Burke.

"Off you go," Lestrade said. "Check in tomorrow at eight for the conference. We're run off our feet with this bloody conference until then, so if you're going to get into trouble, for God's sake wait until tomorrow afternoon."

"Neal won't be getting into any trouble," Burke said, resting a hand on the back of Neal's neck. It looked like a tight grip.

"I was talking to him," Lestrade said, nodding at Sherlock.

***

Neal unlocked the door to his suite and tossed the keycard on the entryway table, dropping comfortably into the sofa in the small reception room. Next door, he could hear Peter and Elizabeth moving around, talking, unpacking: Elizabeth's pleased, excited voice and Peter's more reserved rumble.

"So," he said, as Sherlock shut the door and walked to the tall windows, looking down on London. "Do we argue about murder, or do we plot some trouble of our own? Where'd Doc go?"

"He elected to visit the bar," Sherlock replied. "Said it would be easier on his blood pressure. How's the van Gogh coming along?"

Neal cocked an eye at him. "Okay, I won't ask how you figured out I'm doing a canvas at the moment. Explain how you knew it was a van Gogh."

"You reek of linseed oil. Dark blue under your left index fingernail. Picasso would be too suspicious after the recent cache that was uncovered in the south of France, but you favour well-known artists people claim to know more about than they do. Van Gogh was a logical guess."

"Just keeping my hand in," Neal told him.

"Forgery is pedestrian."

"That's my alleged vocation you're slamming," Neal said, without any particular rancor. Sherlock looked like he was about to reply, but then he held up a hand, pausing. The door connecting Neal's suite and the one next to it opened.

"Did you do this?" Peter asked, looking annoyed.

"Do what?" Neal gave Peter his best innocent look.

"I'm pretty sure the conference committee didn't spring for suites," Peter pointed out.

"Maybe they understood the importance of keeping foreign visitors happy," Neal suggested.

"Caffrey."

"Nobody wants to stay in a hotel full of cops, Peter. The suites were open, I had a conversation with the concierge. Don't worry, we're not paying the difference."

"That's a reason not to worry?" Peter asked pointedly.

"Peter, is anything ever not a reason to worry with you?" Neal replied. "Just enjoy it."

Peter grumbled something incomprehensible, but he shut the door.

"It's a diversion, to be sure," Sherlock said, as though they hadn't been interrupted. "But it seems a waste of potential, not to mention time, especially when you don't plan to do anything with the forgeries."

"So what should I be doing?" Neal asked, plucking up an apple from a fruit bowl on the table and tossing it in the air. "I like painting. Forgery's more challenging."

Sherlock just gave him a dry "you figure it out" look, and returned to the window.

"All those thousands of little people, living their little lives," he said thoughtfully. "Why do they bother, do you suppose?"

"Anyone ever tell you you're gloomy?" Neal asked.

"Now you sound like John."

"Well, we do share a love of adventure. Speaking of which, how hard do we have to work on that Lestrade guy to get ourselves a rematch?" Neal asked. He waggled the tracker on his ankle. "I'm pinned down right now."

"Lestrade won't be a problem," Sherlock said. When Neal gave him a look, he added, "He's competitive."

"So it's just Peter we have to sweet-talk."

"I'm sure he's aware of the motive that brought you to London," Sherlock replied. "The police are so predictable, by and large. I leave him in your hands."

"Why am I doing all the heavy lifting?" Neal asked.

"Because I can't be bothered," Sherlock replied. "Strategy is dull. You have far more interesting assets to offer."

Neal grinned and took a pack of cards out of his pocket, shuffling one-handed. Sherlock sat down in a nearby chair and accepted the pile of cards he was dealt.

"So," Sherlock said. "The job with the Euros in Berlin. Tell me about it. Leave nothing out."

Neal tossed a pound in as ante. Sherlock rolled his eyes and did the same. Neal smiled approvingly.

"Alex and I were in Berlin planning another job -- not important -- but we went drinking with a guy who, it turned out, worked for a paper company. He was on vacation...."

***

John was multitasking in the bar, covertly watching a game on the bar television while he chatted up an Italian delegate to the conference when Lestrade elbowed in between them. The woman rolled her eyes at John over Lestrade's shoulder and turned away.

"I was getting on there," John said, reproachfully.

"Letting you loose amongst the international police community is a peril," Lestrade replied, ordering a pint.

"I'm not the problem," John said. "Sherlock might be."

Lestrade laughed. "And where is your worse half?"

"He and Neal had some catching up to do," John said. "Everything in place for Saturday?"

"Yeah. We're passing the news, word of mouth only. Should be a pretty good turnout. I have to say there's been more enthusiasm about this than last year's international law enforcement footie match," Lestrade said. "Eight different European nations at least want to watch Sherlock pin Caffrey down and humiliate him. The Canadians are pulling for Caffrey, oddly enough. Interpol seems torn. I think they think if they couldn't catch him, nobody else should be able to either."

"Sherlock offended someone in Vienna somewhere." John waved a hand.

"Ah, that explains it."

"She's married, you know," said a new voice. Both John and Lestrade turned, startled. Sherlock was looming over them, having approached silent and unnoticed.

"Who is?" Lestrade asked.

"The Questore John was chatting up," Sherlock replied. "John?"

"I'm summoned," John said to Lestrade, and finished the last of his beer, tossing some cash on the counter for it. "Done playing fetch with Caffrey?"

"Enlightening afternoon," Sherlock said, as they left the bar.

***

The conference officially opened on Friday morning, and Neal was scheduled to present his talk in the late afternoon. Elizabeth, with a kiss for Peter and a promise of attendance for Neal, abandoned them to go sightseeing.

"You ready for your speech?" Peter asked, paging through his conference schedule.

"Piece of cake," Neal replied.

"Oh, that's right. You used to teach art history at Yale," Peter said.

"Well, I hear I bear a strong resemblance to a Professor George Baxter who used to teach there," Neal replied. "But, as you know, I don't have the educational qualifications for something like that. Anyway, after thirty Ivy League sophomores, a couple dozen cops don't scare me."

"Yes, traditionally your relationship with the police has not been one of fear," Peter drawled. Neal shot him a grin. "Are you going to the workshop on blood forensics?"

"No, science is boring. Anyway it overlaps DI Lestrade's thing on community crowdsourcing," Neal said, uncapping a pen and crossing out a series of presentations, seemingly at random. He caught Peter watching. "There are...certain things I can't attend," he said.

"Why?" Peter asked.

"I have a history," Neal hedged.

"I'm aware."

"Some of these people don't like me. At all," Neal said.

"Avoiding trouble? Not like you."

"I avoid trouble all the time!" Neal protested. "Sometimes trouble finds me. I dunno, you allegedly steal one little Antioch manuscript, they never forgive...."

***

Neal's lecture hall filled up fast that afternoon -- partly because his was one of the last talks of the day, but mostly because a lot of people wanted to get a look (or possibly take a swing) at the one who got away. John, who had slipped into the room during the previous talk and secured third-row seats, leaned out into the aisle and whistled shrilly when he saw Elizabeth at the back. She beamed and joined him, settling in next to Sherlock.

"How was your day?" John asked her, leaning around Sherlock.

"Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels," Sherlock recited. "Quick stop at St. Magnus the Martyr -- excellent choice, by the way, brilliant interiors -- lunch at Bertorelli, pesce spada, afternoon at the British Museum, cab to the conference centre."

John sighed. "Sherlock, we've talked about this."

"Sorry. Do go on," Sherlock said to Elizabeth, his tone one of long suffering.

"It's all right," she said, smiling merrily at Sherlock. "He nailed the highlights."

"We're working on small talk," John informed her. "Have a good time, did you?"

"I had a great time," Elizabeth agreed, then looked up and past him. "Hi, sweetie!"

"Hey, hon," Burke answered, squeezing past them to sit next to her. "Have a good day?"

"Too much lemon on the swordfish," Sherlock murmured.

"Sherlock!"

"It was fine." Elizabeth kissed him on the cheek. "Excited?"

"More worried than excited," Peter said. "Neal really likes captive audiences," he added, as Neal passed them on the way to the front of the room. He didn't have a laptop, or even a flash drive; he spoke a few quiet words to the tech guy standing at the front, clapped him on the shoulder, and sent him hurrying away. The room settled slowly; John craned his head around and saw several people standing at the back of the room for lack of seating.

"Good afternoon," Neal greeted them, leaning on the little table at the front of the room, legs crossed in front of him, tracking anklet visible. "My name is Neal Caffrey. I am an alleged international art thief and a convicted felon. Let's start with a show of hands," he said, pushing himself upright. "How many of you have, in the past, worked on an investigation where I was a suspect?"

About half the hands in the room went up.

"Wow," Neal said. "Are any of you armed?"

Laughter rippled around the room.

"Okay. Anyone study my casefile?"

A few more hands went up.

"Now, raise your hand if your work on my file led to a conviction."

Every hand went down. John saw Elizabeth elbow Peter.

"Aw, c'mon Peter, put that hand up," Neal said. Peter rolled his eyes and raised his hand.

"That's the ratio of people who have chased me to people who understood me well enough to catch me," Neal said. "We all know what people like you think about people like me. Today I'm going to talk to you about what people like me think of people like you. Now, this seems," he said, beginning to pace back and forth along the little raised stage, "like an excuse for me to insult a bunch of cops to their faces. I like to think of it as helping you reduce my alleged competition. So!" he rubbed his hands together. "Let's talk about law enforcement."

***

Peter genuinely liked Greg Lestrade. They were both law enforcement and they weren't ever going to compete for jurisdiction, which engendered a spirit of fraternity. Especially since Lestrade had none of the usual American cop disdain for Feds.

"Burke," Lestrade said to him, as they stood together near the front of the room, watching the crowd file slowly out of Neal's talk. "How much of that was the truth?"

"With Neal? Difficult to tell. Some of it I can vouch for," Peter replied. Nearby, Neal was bestowing post-talk charm on some of the attendees. "I'm never sure what side he's really on anymore."

"I know exactly what you mean," Lestrade replied.

"At least Sherlock isn't going to try and steal a priceless map of Vinland," Peter sighed.

"Well, he would if he thought he needed it. I've been shop-talking all day, though. I'm for dinner. You and your wife care to join me?"

"Love to," Peter said, as Neal deftly extricated himself from a little knot of people and joined them.

"Did you like it?" Neal asked, beaming. "I think I killed. DI Lestrade, good to see you again."

"You were great, sweetie," Elizabeth said, pushing through to join them. She gave Neal a kiss on the cheek, which he accepted as a due reward. "Nice timing on the jokes, and I say that as someone who has suffered through way too many speeches for this lifetime."

"El, this is Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade," Peter said. "DI Lestrade, my wife, Elizabeth. She's here to stare at your landmarks."

"We do try to impress," Lestrade replied, shaking her hand. "I was just inviting you and Agent Burke to dinner."

"Great! I'm starving," Neal said. Peter gave him a dirty look. "What? Sherlock knows this Italian place. I bet we could invade it. Sherlock!" Neal called, waving at the back of the room. He held up his hand and signaled, three fingers twice. There was a brief pause while Sherlock conferred with John, and then everyone's phone beeped at once.

"I don't know how he does that," Lestrade muttered, taking out his phone. Neal had his out too, and Elizabeth was digging through her purse for hers. Peter didn't even bother.

"Table for six in fifteen minutes," Elizabeth read aloud. "That's nice of him."

"Probably Doc's doing," Neal put in.

"I'd better call about your anklet," Lestrade said to Neal, who gave him a bright look.

Angelo's was a small restaurant, a pleasant few minutes' walk from the conference centre. Apparently Sherlock had once done the owner some kind of favor; when they arrived there was a long table set up for them, and Angelo paid special attention to John, which seemed to fluster him. The food was good, though, and there was plenty of wine. Neal and Sherlock hadn't stopped talking the entire walk there, and were still talking now, heads bent close together over the table.

"He's like a dog with a chew toy," Peter said.

"Which one's the chew toy?" Lestrade asked.

"Good point."

"This is nice," Elizabeth announced, leaning back with a pleased look on her face. "I have an entourage. Not every night I get to have dinner with five handsome men."

Peter raised an eyebrow. She smiled and patted his arm. "Don't worry, you're still number one. Oh! Though I need to ignore you; John said he'd show me what sights to see tomorrow morning," she added, turning to John, who was seated on her other side and looking annoyed that Sherlock was ignoring them.

Lestrade turned to Peter, while Neal and Sherlock furiously debated the greatest crime of their time ("That's so typically American." "Elitism won't get you anywhere!") and Elizabeth and John studied a tourist map. "Our lads have a little game planned," Lestrade said, in an undertone.

"I thought they might," Peter sighed. "Did you hear about the New York chase?"

"I have to say, it sounds like something to see. And better supervised than at large, I suppose."

"Don't encourage them," Peter remarked, sipping his wine. "Last time, they terrorized a couple of cops, raided a gay bar, and ended up in a bomb shelter."

"Who won?"

"I did," Neal and Sherlock said in unison. Lestrade looked up sharply. Peter just rubbed his eyes. Sherlock gave Neal a significant look.

"See, clearly we need to establish my supremacy once and for all," Neal said to Peter.

"I'm not comfortable letting you run loose in London," Peter replied.

"Are you going to let Sherlock claim he's better than you?"

"Are you seriously going the appeal-to-my-pride route?" Peter shot back.

"I have about five other backup routes if you want me to try them all," Neal said. "Number two is convincing Elizabeth to make you say yes."

Peter leaned back and regarded them. He glanced at Lestrade, who looked a little too innocent.

"Your beat, your call," he said, shaking his head. "I'm only responsible for making sure Neal doesn't hop a plane to some island with no extradition treaty. Nobody said he had to come back alive."

"Thank you," Neal said pointedly.

"Right," Lestrade leaned forward. "Ground rules."

"They're so obsessed with rules," Neal said to Sherlock.

"Tedious but necessary," Sherlock replied.

"The both of you be quiet," Lestrade ordered.

"Let me save you the trouble," Sherlock offered. "No real crime, no civilians involved, injuries are an automatic end to the game, we both wear trackers and wires -- "

"Wires!" Peter said. "Was that your idea?" he asked Lestrade, who nodded. "Damn, I should have thought of that last time."

" -- and I'm willing to offer a seven-minute head start," Sherlock finished, looking annoyed. Neal gave him a curious frown. "Well, you're playing on my patch now. Two minutes more seems apt."

"I have been to London before," Neal said.

"Don't take it if you don't want it."

"No, I'll take it, I have no pride."

"Obviously -- "

"Children," Lestrade said, and they both settled down. "You two decide stakes?"

"I'm playing for the Crown," Sherlock said. "When I win -- "

"If you win," Neal interrupted.

"I want what you nicked from the Tate Modern," Sherlock finished.

There was a long, awkward silence around the table.

"That's never been proved," Neal said.

"No, of course not. They're not entirely certain what's gone missing, in fact," Sherlock answered. "But 'if' I win, I want to know which items are forgeries, and I want the whole lot of them returned."

"Not that I know where they are," Neal said carefully, "but if you win, I'll look into recovering those for you."

"And your stakes?"

Neal considered him. "Eight hours of your time."

Sherlock tilted his head.

"I want to do a portrait. If I win, I get eight hours of you holding still for me, for a portrait." Neal cast a sidelong glance at John when he snorted in amusement.

"The only time Sherlock's still for that long is when he's sulking or asleep," John pointed out.

"I'm sure he'll sulk if I win," Neal said loftily. "And you pay for supplies," he added to Sherlock.

Everyone looked at Sherlock. He seemed to be weighing eight hours of inactivity against millions of dollars in art.

"Done," he said finally, offering his hand. They shook on it across the table.

"O-kay." Lestrade rubbed his hands. "So, tomorrow night, six o'clock. We'll be monitoring you from the convention auditorium. You'll have a three-and-a-half kilometre radius -- "

"What's that in American?" Neal asked. It was probably impertinence. Peter knew Neal could do complex calculations with speed, and he'd know how to convert metric to imperial.

"Little over two miles," Lestrade supplied. Neal looked satisfied. "I'm putting the north side of Blackfriars at the centre."

"Nice," Neal said. "National Gallery, British Museum -- "

"The Dungeon, the Tower..." Sherlock finished for him.

"Is this some kind of trash talk?" Elizabeth asked John.

"I'm not entirely sure," he answered.

***

Saturday was Peter's turn in the sun, giving the conference's keynote address at the all-attendance luncheon. He'd be the first to admit it lacked the flair of Neal's lecture, but ethics and management and their impact on international legal politics were important subjects that deserved at least a PowerPoint presentation. And anyway, he got a few laughs and made two really bad puns with a straight face, so he called it a success.

The disadvantage of being a lunch speaker was, of course, that you didn't get lunch. By the time he'd finished and joined Elizabeth at the table, he was starving, and all the food was gone. He lingered long enough for Elizabeth to tell him he'd done well, and for Sherlock to offer the unsolicited opinion that it was "Anthropologically not entirely boring" while Neal elbowed Sherlock in the ribs, and then he went to find the nearest place to get something edible.

"Was there anything else you wanted to go to this afternoon?" Elizabeth asked, paging through his conference booklet while Peter devoured a steak at the hotel restaurant.

"Couple, but I'm missing one as we speak, and I'd have to leave halfway through another one to get to the auditorium in time for tonight," he said. "Neal and Sherlock are a go at six; we have to have them wired and do a GPS check an hour beforehand."

Elizabeth gave him a smile. "It's not an op, you know."

"It's Neal on the loose in an unfamiliar city. I can't shake the feeling this is a bad idea."

"Your gut?" she asked. Peter shrugged. "Well, if you're going to be up all night, maybe you should take the afternoon off. Get some rest."

"It feels like I'd be wasting an opportunity," Peter said.

"Like skipping class?" Elizabeth's smile widened. "Trust me, the principal won't care."

"Are you sightseeing this afternoon?" Peter asked. "Wait, you're shopping, right? You said you wanted to shop."

Elizabeth gave him a look that said he was being stupid. Admittedly, most of his mind was on the steak right now.

"I'm skipping class too," she said significantly.

Peter paused. "Oh," he said, and fumbled to signal for the check.

***

Being a friend of Sherlock Holmes was like having a backstage pass to reality, Elizabeth reflected as she watched Peter and DI Lestrade do GPS tests on the auditorium stage.

She wasn't sure she could really consider herself his friend; John Watson obviously could, and she had yet to meet anyone Neal couldn't make friends with, but Sherlock was a little catlike otherwise -- self-sufficient and wary. Maybe not "friend", then, maybe "associate" -- but either way, he just saw so much. It was like Peter turned up to eleven, and it had taken her a while to get used to Peter's own investigative skills. Sherlock saw everything and made remarks about most of it out loud, which was amusing for her -- but it sometimes felt like he was pulling back some kind of veil over the unpleasant inner workings of the world.

Neal and Sherlock were standing just below the stage with a couple of techs, one of them checking Neal's anklet while Sherlock adjusted the fit of the small GPS unit strapped to his arm. Sherlock's GPS also had an audio transmitter, though it was a clumsier model than the watches Peter and Neal used at work; Neal was fussing about having a wireless transmitter taped down to his collarbone, making the tech adjust the fit a few times before he was satisfied with the way it sat under his black turtleneck, the microphone resting just below his ear. He was in full cat-burglar gear, all black and nearly skintight. Which, Elizabeth noted, wasn't exactly hard on the eyes.

"Sound check, test one two," Neal's voice rang around the mostly empty auditorium. "Nice," he added, sounding pleased. At the back of the auditorium, a door opened and shut quietly. "Sherlock?"

"Test," Sherlock said tersely. One of the techs adjusted the volume slightly. Elizabeth turned to see who had come in; it was John, along with an older woman who was looking around her curiously. "Right. Any other poking and prodding needed?"

"Got you both on the map," Peter called, as the big auditorium screen flickered to life with a white-on-black layout of London. In one of the lower corners, two green dots glowed brightly.

"This is a massive misappropriation of Yard funds," Lestrade remarked, not as if he minded, just as if he wanted someone to be aware. Elizabeth laughed. The woman who'd entered earlier made her way down to the front row, taking a seat a few down from Elizabeth. When she was settled in, John left her there and walked over to Sherlock.

"I think it's edu -- " Neal broke off over a whine of feedback. He cupped his hand over the wire, and one of the techs tapped a few keys, switching the mics off for now. "Educational. How many people get to watch this kind of pursuit in real time?"

"And that's what I will be putting on the expense report," Lestrade answered. "Hello, Mrs. Hudson."

"Hello, Detective Inspector!" the woman near Elizabeth called, and then turned to her and offered her a small paper bag. "Hello! Would you like a roasted nut?"

"Thank you," Elizabeth said, taking a few. She studied the woman curiously; she didn't look like a police officer, though she did look very excited. "Are you here for Neal or Sherlock?"

"Oh, Sherlock. He's a dear, isn't he? He and his Doctor Watson rent from me." She gave Elizabeth a proud look. "I'm here by Doctor Watson's special invitation. Martha Hudson."

"Elizabeth Burke," Elizabeth replied, shaking her proffered hand. "I'm a friend of Neal's."

"From New York! How exciting."

"It has its moments," Elizabeth replied.

"Are you enjoying London?"

"I get the feeling I'm about to enjoy it a lot more," Elizabeth said with a smile.

"I always say travel broadens the mind," Mrs. Hudson agreed.

People began to trickle in then, sidling through the doors as only cops know how; Elizabeth was intimately familiar with the Guilty Police Sidle. She kept up absentminded chat with Mrs. Hudson while Peter had a final few words with Neal and Sherlock. It was just starting to get crowded when the pair of them walked off, quietly, without any fuss.

"All right," Lestrade said after another few minutes, stepping up to center stage and holding up his hands for silence. "You all know why we're here, and I'm trusting everyone here knows how to keep their mouths shut."

"He's so commanding," Mrs. Hudson whispered to Elizabeth. "Mind you, our Sherlock does need a firm hand now and again."

"I know just how you feel," Elizabeth whispered back.

"You have two very simple rules," Lestrade continued. "Don't talk about the paper chase outside of this room, and don't throw food inside of it."

A ripple of laughter washed over the audience.

"The rules of the chase are for the safety of all involved. Mr. Caffrey is to commit one crime per hour," Lestrade continued, putting audible airquotes around 'crime'. "He is to leave sufficient evidence for Mr. Holmes to follow. Mr. Caffrey's task is to evade capture," Lestrade said. "Mr. Holmes's task is to have Mr. Caffrey in custody at six tomorrow morning. Capture at any other time is not a win, unless Mr. Caffrey remains in Mr. Holmes's custody for the duration of the chase. Any serious injury is an automatic end to the game. Agent Burke and I will arbitrate any disputes. Agent Burke?"

"Turn on the wires," Peter said to one of the techs, and suddenly there was a soft noise in the auditorium. "Say hello, Neal," Peter said, into his phone.

"Hello, everyone," Neal said, sounding chipper. "Sherlock, say hi."

"Hello." Sherlock did not sound chipper, but then Elizabeth had serious doubts he ever could.

"Point of departure is the north end of Blackfriars Bridge," Lestrade said. They could hear the two men getting out of a car, doors slamming behind them.

"We're ready when you are," Neal said over the wire. There were a few seconds of silence while Peter watched the clock on the auditorium screen.

"Neal, go," Peter said.

"And gone," Neal answered. There was the sound of heavy breathing, and then Neal's voice again. "Man, I love this city."

***

Neal liked London a lot. He hadn't spent much time there in comparison to some places -- New York, Tokyo, Amsterdam -- but what time he had spent had been very satisfying. It was old and crammed with people, which made it feel pleasantly like Manhattan, and it had all those museums.

Being a crook in London was getting harder, of course. It also had all those surveillance cameras, one on every street corner it seemed like. If Neal were committing real crimes, he'd be worrying a lot about those cameras. As it was, they were just a fun excuse for him to commit a few of the night's fake crimes in disguise.

By habit, when he was working the shadier side of the law, he didn't talk much unless he had to charm someone. Now, though, he was aware of the wire taped to his chest, and he felt he owed them a little entertainment.

"When I came to London the first time, I was here specifically for the National Gallery," he said, making a note of some road construction nearby, for when he circled back. "Well, that and Madame Tussauds. Just because it seemed interesting, I guess. I was a young American tourist, the kind native Londoners probably hate, if the way we hate them in New York is anything to go by. Now, the National Gallery is tempting, but last time -- " he grunted as he jumped a low fence, " -- I missed the British Museum. Always regretted that. I have to say I find their Reading Room pretty epic."

He kept up his prattle as he ran, not slowing for a second when that seventh minute ticked past and Sherlock would have been given the signal to go. After that he stopped talking quite so much, so that they could listen in to Sherlock as well.

"Okay, gotta shut up now, this part's tricky," he said, as he approached the British Museum. "Time to climb."

Free-climbing urban buildings wasn't easy, but then rock-climbing anything with convenient handholds and toe-grips was for amateurs. Neal gazed up at the wall of the museum, spat on his hands (mostly for show) and started on his way towards the great dome of the museum's Reading Room.

***

"Is he seriously going to climb the British Museum?" Lestrade asked. On the map, Neal's dot wriggled a little but stayed more or less in one place. "Your lad's bloody insane."

"Unfortunately, that's what makes him so good," Peter sighed. Sherlock's dot, obviously in a cab, was heading steadily towards Neal's dot.

"Get him!" someone in the audience called, in a French accent. There were a few cheers.

Sherlock's dot went zooming past the museum.

"No! Look behind you!"

"This is better than panto," Lestrade observed.

"What's panto?" Peter asked. Lestrade sighed.

Sherlock corrected pretty quickly; they could hear him over the speakers abruptly tell the cab driver to stop and turn around. A few minutes later he was observing the slight traces of Neal's passage up the wall.

"Kind of him to leave his paper trail on a high ledge rather than the dome," Sherlock remarked. "A trifle condescending, though. Hm."

Neal, meanwhile, was humming A Foggy Day as he descended the other side of the museum. Peter took out his phone.

"Hi!" Neal answered, on the second ring. "Don't tell me Sherlock's surrendering already."

The audience laughed.

"Having fun?" Peter asked.

"Yes, Peter," Neal said warily.

"Good. Stop humming."

"Yes, Peter," Neal sighed, and Peter hung up.

"Is Berkeley Square in the radius?" Peter asked Lestrade, peering at the map.

"Yeah, but damned if I know what he'd do there," Lestrade replied. Sherlock was muttering to himself, trying to decode where Neal would go next.

"Taxi!" Neal called, over the speakers. "Berkeley Square, please."

"Guess we'll find out," Peter observed.

Using wires as well as GPS to track their progress made the whole thing much more entertaining. Neal liked to give little lectures on the places he was hitting, and Sherlock tended to wield a certain dry wit when questioning bystanders. Neal's target at Berkeley Square turned out to be Maggs Brothers, an antiquarian bookseller -- "It's the most haunted building in London," Neal said proudly, as he picked the locks on the bookstore.

Ten minutes later, they heard Sherlock laugh.

"The bastard's left me a comic book," he said, and there was a rustle of pages.

"Sherlock, language," murmured Mrs. Hudson.

"Sorry, Mrs. Hudson," Sherlock added as an afterthought. Mrs. Hudson beamed.

After a tea break at a nearby cafe -- and a hasty retreat when Sherlock got too close -- Neal's next target was Buckingham Palace. Neal took a cellphone picture from some ledge high up on the palace and emailed it to Peter, but it was too dark to make out much.

"If Batman can do it, I can do it," Neal announced, and they heard soft noises as he started to climb down again.

***

Neal knew Sherlock was closing in, but he was pretty sure he had at least ten minutes before he'd need to run for his life. He was planning to blow nine of them shopping.

Last time he was in London, he'd used this one little vintage store for all of his disguises, and shipped a few prime pieces back to Mozzie as well. He was pleased to see the wall of second-hand wigs was still in place, although there was a rack of skinny jeans sitting in front of them, offending him with their existence.

"C'I help you?" a sulky-looking boy behind the counter asked. He was wearing a pair of jeans that had clearly been taken from the rack of doom.

"I strongly doubt it," Neal replied, gravitating towards the hats. He'd never properly appreciated hats before Byron's hand-me-downs.

He'd never even considered the possibilities that bowler hats offered to a man of taste and criminal inclination, but they had a certain appeal. Sherlock looked like the kind of guy who could wear a bowler hat well, and Neal had spotted a really fine example of the breed in a corner of the hat racks. He slunk past the racks of fedoras and newsboy caps at the front, crouched down, and rescued the bowler from its perch of iniquity.

The boy behind the counter snorted when Neal brought it up to the register. "Really?"

"It's a gift," Neal protested.

"For someone you don't like?"

"Oh, no," Neal said with a grin. "Listen, my pal's gonna show up here in a couple of minutes, asking about me. I want you to give him this," he indicated the hat, "and these," he handed the kid a few slips of folded paper (he'd written Counterfeit bills! on them in Sherlock's handwriting, for laughs), "and this is for you," he added, slipping a ten pound note into the kid's palm.

"You mean him?" the kid asked, tipping his chin at the window. Neal turned just in time to see Sherlock gazing through the window.

"Aw, crap," he moaned, already moving. The kid didn't even try to stop him as Neal vaulted the counter and bolted through a bead curtain into the back room, stacked high with boxes of old clothing and the odd pair of shoes. He pulled down boxes behind him, blocking the way as he ran. He heard a muffled "No you don't!" and what was probably the thump of skinny-jeans-boy being flung aside by Sherlock.

He still had the bowler in his hands and technically he'd paid for it. He gripped it by the brim and turned, arm arcing outwards as he pulled open the back door. He released the bowler with a flick of his wrist, flinging the hat into Sherlock's face right as he hurdled a stack of fallen boxes. Sherlock flailed, a sight Neal felt he would cherish forever, and Neal slammed the door behind him, holding it shut with his foot braced against the wall.

Sherlock cursed on the other side of the door for a few moments and then, apparently assuming Neal had jammed it, kicked the door once and fell silent. Neal waited a count of eight before relaxing his grip on the door. Sherlock was probably circling around. He opened the door to creep back through --

"Ohshit," he blurted, as Sherlock loomed out from the shadows inside the building. Neal scrambled backwards. Sherlock's hand caught the very edge of his sleeve, and the fabric slid through his fingers.

Both of them overbalanced, but Neal pivoted hard on one heel and let the momentum carry him along the alley a few feet before he got his equilibrium back and ran like hell, Sherlock fast on his heels.

In a distance contest, Sherlock could probably outpace him, but Neal was really good at running. At a sprint he could put some distance between them, especially in a crowded street. He darted down another alley, jumped for the bottom of a fire escape, and managed to disappear against the brickwork as he dangled from the bars, his arms killing him.

He waited until Sherlock was around the corner at the other end of the alley before he dropped silently to the ground again. He wasn't sure precisely where he was.

Clothing store, clothing store, empty storefront, pub...

Neal grinned. There was a little sign hanging above one of the clothing stores: Neal's Yard.

"Hey, can you guys see where I am?" he asked, amused. "I think I'm showing great restraint in not stealing a couple of signs around these parts. Man, that was close. I need a drink," he added, heading south towards a pub.

***

"Undoubtedly he thinks he's clever," Sherlock said over the speakers when he realized where Neal had hidden himself. Neal's wire was playing the kind of ambient noise generally associated with a pub on a Saturday night.

"Come on, Neal, get out of there," Burke murmured, just as Neal thanked the barman and announced that it was time to move on. John grinned at him.

"Sherlock knows London like nobody I've ever met. He's going to catch him," he told Burke.

"Neal just outpaced him in a foot race," Burke pointed out.

"Long time to go yet," John retorted, because it did gall a little that, at one point, Sherlock had run straight past Neal.

In the meantime, it almost looked like Neal was stalking Sherlock. They were both circling a single block, but just before turning a corner right into Sherlock, Neal broke off and headed south towards Waterloo Bridge.

"Crossing the bridge!" Lestrade called out, and there were vague cheers from the audience. He leaned against the tech table on the stage, turning to John. "This makes me feel a lot better about what Caffrey got away with last time he was here," he said confidentially.

"Ten quid says Neal's going for the London Eye," John told Burke.

"You're on," Burke answered. "He's done too much climbing already, he's probably looping around to the Tate Modern."

"No, I tell a lie," John corrected, watching Sherlock veer away from the bridge, south along the Embankment, anticipating some move of Neal's. "Big Ben, do you think?"

"Westminster Abbey has this beautiful manuscript in the Undercroft Museum," Neal said, sounding only a little out of breath. "Always wanted to get a better look at it."

In the audience, money exchanged hands.

***

Near Westminster Abbey, Sherlock found a lump of wax.

When he split it open, there was a hollow inside; it was two pieces that had carefully been melted together to preserve, on the interior, the impression of a key. He turned it over and over, noting Neal's fingerprints on the outside, and then carefully took his keys out of his pocket. There was a slight hint of wax in one of the teeth of his house key.

"He's going to Baker Street," he announced. Then, thoughtfully, "If he looks in the refrigerator he's going to be very surprised."

***

Neal had, of course, studied the map of his chase-radius thoroughly. He'd looked into the security of several of the museums, and he'd also noted that Sherlock's home address, 221B Baker Street, was at the outermost northwestern rim of his radius. He'd wondered if Lestrade had set the edges on purpose, and decided the DI deserved more respect than Neal had given him.

After all, Sherlock had broken into Neal's home during the last chase. Only fair to return the favor. And anyway, Neal wanted a snack.

Half a block from 221B, there was a soft beep.

Neal, mindful of the wire, managed to stop himself from swearing again; he looked down and saw a yellow light on his tracker, right as his phone buzzed. He took three careful steps back, hid in the shadow of a convenient set of stairs, and answered.

"You're at the edge of your radius, Caffrey," Lestrade said.

"Yeah, I see that," Neal replied.

"Heading for Baker Street?" Lestrade asked.

"Well, until about ten seconds ago, that was the plan," Neal admitted, already rifling mentally through the other heists he had in store -- some created for this chase, some years in the planning and never executed because Peter and prison got in the way.

Which was when he saw it. A little sign, designed for tourists. MADAME TUSSAUDS.

"Caffrey," Lestrade called into the phone.

"Gotta go. Crimes to commit, you know how it is," Neal said, and hung up.

He had to circle south to get to it, moving around the perimeter of some huge building that was inconveniently in the way, but it gave him time to come up with a plan. There wasn't much to steal at Madame Tussauds, at least not of any value, and stealing technology from the nearby Planetarium was just crass. He could break into the gift shop and take something tacky to give to Elizabeth as a memento of the trip, but the one unspoken rule of the chase was that his crimes had to be worth it. Petty crime was just too easy.

He was still working out how to criminally defile Madame Tussauds, talking it out into his wire, when he reached the sidewalk across the street from the museum.

"I don't think I could get away with grabbing a wax model; they're not exactly small. An old friend of mine once told me never to steal anything I couldn't shove under my shirt, and it's pretty good advice. Anyhow, walking around with a wax model is really creepy," Neal added. "I guess I could steal one of the death masks. It'd be interesting to hold something in your hand that Tussaud actually touched. But that's probably creepier. And what am I going to do with a death mask?"

He cocked his head at the museum, thinking.

"Okay, let's assume death mask," he sighed. "Should give time for Sherlock to -- "

Something tightened around his neck, coming out of nowhere, and Neal jerked and twitched, struggling for breath. For a second he couldn't put the pieces together and thought the collar of his turtleneck had caught on something; he reached up and found a thick piece of wire around his throat. He managed to choke out "Peter!" before he was tugged back into the shadows.

***

Chapter Two
ladyyueh: (Default)

[personal profile] ladyyueh 2011-03-27 08:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Damn you, Sam.

I'm all squee'd out. Though, I will oh, my gosh! for Neal's Yard! It's like it was meant to be! I'd forgotten all about that place. Now, I'm hitting myself because I'd always meant to head into the cheese shop.

So very happy we got an epic sequel. The crossover is strong in you.
illian: A black and white picture of an iron maiden, the left hand side as you are looking at it open (Default)

[personal profile] illian 2011-03-27 10:22 pm (UTC)(link)
Eilzabeth gave him a look that said he was being stupid. Admittedly, most of his mind was on the steak right now.

"I'm skipping class too," she said significantly.

Peter paused. "Oh," he said, and fumbled to signal for the check.


Misspelled her name there but otherwise I was cackling because I could entirely see the interaction between the two of them.
illian: A black and white picture of an iron maiden, the left hand side as you are looking at it open (Default)

[personal profile] illian 2011-03-27 11:07 pm (UTC)(link)
My brain is stuck in Editor mode from going over my own stuff. :) I've been trying to get it to give it a rest by reading other things but it has been slow going.
changeling: (Default)

[personal profile] changeling 2011-03-28 12:53 am (UTC)(link)
"He's going to Baker Street," he announced. Then, thoughtfully, "If he looks in the refrigerator he's going to be very surprised."

Except he shouldn't be, since John mentioned the head in the fridge in Paper Chase. (I remember because I was listening to the podfic last night while doing the dishes.)
changeling: (Default)

[personal profile] changeling 2011-03-28 02:57 am (UTC)(link)
Haha! Knowing Sherlock, it could be ANYTHING.
perevision: (tim squee)

[personal profile] perevision 2011-03-28 04:23 am (UTC)(link)
I haven't even read it yet, I just wanted to say:

OMFG YES!

Thank. You. So. Much. For writing this.

[identity profile] firestorm172001.livejournal.com 2011-03-31 11:24 pm (UTC)(link)
Being a crook in London was getting harder, of course. It also had all those surveillance cameras, one on every street corner it seemed like. If Neal were committing real crimes, he'd be worrying a lot about those cameras. As it was, they were just a fun excuse for him to commit a few of the night's fake crimes in disguise.

I wonder if Mycroft and his associates have popcorn.
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)

[personal profile] azurelunatic 2011-09-02 06:00 am (UTC)(link)
This just got creepy!