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Title: Pope
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Minor spoilers for season 3
Word Count: ~1500
Summary:  Neal finds himself at church.  Peter surprises him there.

Wind rushes past Neal's ears as he wheels around a corner, hand pressing lightly on his black fedora to keep it from flying off. The streets are relativity clear giving him no good place to blend in. However, he has a good lead on the goons behind him. He could find something. Still, better get ready if he gets caught. Neal gropes into his suit pocket and pulls out his phone getting ready to dial Peter if something doesn't come soon. His lead isn't that great.

Dashing around another corner, Neal spots a crowd of people just ahead walking into a building. Well dressed. Perfect for him. The goons wouldn't even see him join the crowd. Pocketing the unneeded phone he looks about. No sign of the two following him yet. Smiling happily, he ducks into the crowd and follows them up the stairs and through a pair of large wooden doors. Once inside, he pivots glancing out the window in time to see two beefy men shoving past the trickle of people still entering the building to continue sprinting down the street.

Sighing in relief, Neal glances around to find out exactly where he has landed. Through the crowd he spots crosses lining the walls and two priests standing at the entrance to a small chapel. A church. The chatter of voices starts to die as people pass through the doorway to find their seats. Neal shrugs. Might as well take a break and sit through the sermon.

Neal takes off his hat and walks past the priests taking service guide they are handing out and sits down in the last row away from the doorway. At least he's dressed for a church service. The goons will probably pass by on their trip back to the office building of the mark. Neal will have just disappeared, one of his better acts. Other then getting spotted at the very end, of course. The look on Johnson's face – Anyways, Peter would never have to know and as long as he could avoid going back to see Johnson, Peter never would.

This current case is one of the more exciting, unlike the tedium of mortgage fraud. Peter will probably be a little angry that he went off on his own. Again. But Peter is often unreasonably upset about such minor things, that what difference would this make. Neal could tell him exactly where the jewels are hidden and time would be saved. Neal's smile widened. He still probably shouldn't have gone to see Johnson today. Now he needed a reason he couldn't go to the take down. Sprained ankle, maybe, if Sara would play along. At least the goons had missed him. Not that they were very bright in the first place.

The light filtering through the stained glass windows colors the room with rich reds and yellows and Neal wishes he would thought to grab a sketch book this morning. This was going to be a long wait but at least Peter isn't expecting him till noon.

A little girl sitting in front of him turns and stares. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a quarter showing it to her. Curling his hands into fists he lets the quarter slip into his sleeve and displays his empty palms. He leans forward and pulls the quarter from her behind her ear and her face lights up. She grins at him before turning to her mom tugging on her sleeve chattering excitedly.

Neal leans back contentedly grinning to himself. As the service begins, he lets his mind drift to the treasure trove that sits safely locked up in the warehouse. He dreads finding that manifest. It would be the end of his time with Peter, El, June, Sara, and all the people he had meet here. He wants the manifest so bad it hurt. Once he sold the art, he could do anything. Buy an island. Travel the world. Fly to Mt. Everest and climb to the top. He needs something crazy and extravagant.

Not being able to see the artwork causes an itch that he just can't scratch. Yes, Mozzie set up the camera's so he could monitor it, but it isn't the same. The camera's don't have the detail he needs: the smell of the old canvases, the flecks of paint tilting upward causing a shadow, the beauty of standing next to – Neal takes a deep breath. He needs that manifest.

Peter will work just as well without him. They make a good team but Peter doesn't understand. Neal needs the rush that the con brings. The heart pumping while he throws himself into danger and walked out the front door with the goods in his hand and nary a scratch – he can't leave it behind. While working with Peter has been much better then any jail cell, the tether of the tracking device has started to chafe badly and he just needs to escape. Florence is nice this time of year and –

“You should probably hit the confessional after the service.”

Neal jumps slightly at the unexpected whisper. His eyes dart to the fire exit, the chapel doors, the windows that are behind the organ player, before the mask is back up. It's just Peter. How he didn't notice Peter sitting down next to him – he shakes his head, not important. He checks Peter's face to see if he had noticed Neal's slip. Peter's smile is up but Neal notices the slight furrowing in his forehead and the edges of his lips twitch down. So, that would be a yes. And Peter is pretty pissed too. So he found out about Neal's little escapade.

“The Pope gave me a pass to get out of that, signed and everything. Come to June's and I'll show you. Anyways, this isn't a Catholic church. No confessionals.”

“I have no doubt that you could produce a note signed by the Pope. I just doubt he'll remember signing it.”

“Peter. I am hurt. The last time I was in Italy, I had–”

“Save it. I told you to wait till–”

“Shh! You can't talk in church!” the little girl hisses as she turns around to glare at Peter with a finger on her lips. The girl's mother turns and blushing slightly mouths 'Sorry' as she turns the girl back to the sermon. The mother bends over to start scolding the girl. Though Neal can't quite make out what she's saying, he thinks he might have a good idea how she feels right now.

Peter leans over to Neal's ear and whispers, “We are talking later. I told you not to go in without backup and–”

“Peter, I – ” Neal rolls his eyes.

Raising his voice to cut across Neal's protest, Peter continues, “You're lucky those goons didn't see you cut in here. We are going to talk after this and not even a note from the Pope himself will get you out of it.”

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I like it. No idea what's going on in the bigger sense. But I like this bit.

hehe. Thanks. This is more supposed to be just a slice of life kinda fic. I don't really have anything bigger planned for this story. I just felt like writing and this is what came out. :)

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