New York City… that afternoon…
Neal had wondered if telling Mozzie about his late night visitor was a wise idea. As he watched his best friend going over every nook and cranny of his apartment with a bug-detecting device with a frantic obsessive-compulsive fervor, he was starting to wish he hadn’t.
“I’m pretty sure that Nightwing guy didn’t have a chance to bug my closet,” Neal said as he worked on his computer, which had already been Mozzie-approved. “He didn’t even make it past the living room.”
“Oh ye of little faith,” Mozzie said as he finally satisfied himself with the confirmation that none of Neal’s suits were covertly wired. “The bats are so much worst than the suits. It’s not the one you see you have to worry about. It’s the three in the shadows that you don’t.” The short bald guy whipped his head around, looking for some corner he hadn’t thoroughly investigated yet. Then he made a beeline for the nearest window, opened it wide, and leaned halfway out it, continuing his sweep for bugs on the outside of the building.
“Hey! Will you cut that out? I don’t want you falling out a third story window because of your paranoia.” Neal got up from the table to try and drag Mozzie back into the building. However, before he could lay a hand on him, an insistent pinging began to come out of his friend’s bug-detecting device, and Moz chuckled triumphantly.
“Aha! I knew it!” Mozzie leaned a little bit further out the window so he could reach for something that was just barely within his reach. “If I’ve told you once, Neal, I’ve told you a thousand times. It’s not paranoia-“
“-if they really are out to get you,” Neal finished as he helped Mozzie back into the apartment. Moz then smugly dropped the nickle-sized listening device into the palm of his friend’s hand.
Over in the secret command center tucked within the penthouse suite of New York City’s Wayne Tower luxury hotel, Damian Wayne was listening to the goings on in Neal Caffrey’s home in stunned silence. “He found one of the bugs,” the teenager said in disbelief. “How does that Mozzie guy have the tech necessary to sniff them out? Who is he, Barbara?”
“I couldn’t tell you, little D,” Barbara said over the live video chat on Damian’s computer. “There is no record online anywhere of this ‘Mozzie’ character. Not even the FBI or CIA have anything on him. Whoever he is, he’s somehow managing to live in New York City without leaving any kind of digital trail to follow. He’s like a ghost.”
“Alright Moz. You convinced me,” Neal’s voice chimed in over the speakers. Damian turned his attention back to the screen. “Before you indulge in saying ‘I told you so’ let’s find the rest of the bugs.”
Back in his apartment, Neal was rolling up his sleeves and had moved into the center of the living room, examining the layout critically.
“What do you think?” Moz asked. “I know the bats had to have used more than one, but how many?”
Neal looked back to where Mozzie had found the first bug. He closed his eyes and thought for a long moment. “I think we’ll find six—no, seven. We already know the bedroom and bathroom are clean. Besides, if there’s anything of note that they want to listen to, it’ll be in this area.” He made a motion with his arms encompassing the living room, dining room, and kitchen.”
“How many bugs did you plant this morning, D?” Barbara asked curiously.
Damian grimaced. “Seven.”
For the next half hour, Neal and Mozzie thoroughly combed the apartment, both inside and out. By the time they were done, they had all seven tiny listening devices gathered together in the center of Neal’s dining table. The two men were sitting at that table, contemplating them over a bottle of wine while on the other side of the city Damian was shaking his head in disbelief.
“They really are quite a marvel of high technology,” Mozzie said as he picked up one of the bugs and examined it with a jeweler’s eye loupe he had in his pocket.
“Yes, they are,” Neal added.
“Whoever you bats are listening on the other end, I send my props to their architect. He or she is a technological virtuoso of the highest standards.” He sighed, then turned to Neal. “They certainly are works of art. I almost feel bad about what I’m going to do to them now.”
“Almost. Hammer please.”
Neal handed him a regular, everyday claw hammer. Then he silently watched as Mozzie methodically and thoroughly smashed each bug into scrap.
Once Moz was certain that the listening devices were, indeed, all dead, he breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
“Do you feel better now?” Neal asked.
“Much.” He wiped his brow. “I knew there was a chance that doing the Wayne security test job was attract the attention of the bats, but to go to all this?” Mozzie waved at the collection of scrap now cluttering the table. “You really didn’t get away with anything yesterday, did you?”
“For all this trouble, I’m wishing I had,” Neal remarked then shook his head. “But no… I don’t think they’re looking at me so close just because I got through their security.” He reached over to his laptop and pulled out a piece of paper that had been tucked underneath it. Then he gave it to Mozzie, who scanned it quickly.
“Okay…” Moz said. “Why are the suits comparing your DNA with some guy named Timothy Drake-Wayne? Do they think you’re some long lost Wayne heir?”
Neal turned the laptop around so that Mozzie could see what he was researching before he got up to help him with the bug hunt. His eyes widened when he saw the old Gotham Gazette news articles Neal had found from seven years ago.
“I had a run in at the gallery yesterday with Wayne’s oldest and youngest sons,” Neal explained. “The older one seemed to think I looked just like his missing younger brother, so much so that he asked the FBI to check if I was or wasn’t.”
“Wow… The resemblance is uncanny,” Moz said. “But why sic the bats on you?”
Neal shrugged. “Maybe Grayson just didn’t want his little brother to vanish without a trace again before he got confirmation of who he was? He was pretty emotional this morning when Peter gave him these results.”
“Then how did you get this? Did the suit give you a copy?”
“Of course not. This is the copy Grayson tried to slip out of Peter’s office when he wasn’t looking. I’ll put it back tomorrow.”
Mozzie gave the page another look-over, as well as the newspaper article on the laptop. “You know, Neal-“
Neal sighed. “Moz, you know I have no problem with a little identity theft now and then. But this-” He tapped the computer screen. “-would be crossing a line.” He got up from his chair and walked over to window, which was still open from their bug hunt. Neal sat on the windowsill and looked out over the neighborhood. “It’s one thing to take the identity of someone alive and well, or someone who is dead and buried. Timothy Wayne is a missing person. He’s probably dead, but there are members of his family still clinging to the hope that he’ll one day be found alive. Even if I had the freedom to go to Gotham City and try to pull off this level of con, I couldn’t take advantage of a grieving family like that, no matter how wealthy they are.”
Moz gave a mildly disappointed smile. “I suppose we all have our limits as to how far we’ll go for the next big score. It’s too bad that your line is there, but I can respect that.”
Neal leaned against the window frame. “Besides… I don’t have time to be distracted by people like Wayne or bats like Nightwing. I have bigger fish to fry.”
“You’re talking about Fowler, aren’t you?” Mozzie said, all traces of his smile fading.
“I need to find him, Moz,” Neal said grimly. “If I find him, I can find out why Kate died, and who is really responsible for everything that’s happened.”
“And for that, we need the music box.”
Neal nodded. “Diana’s got it. I know Peter wouldn’t trust anyone else with it at this point.”
“I’ll see what I can dig up concerning her and the music box. If we can get a hold of it, we can use it as bait to draw Fowler out-“
“-and then I’ll get some answers, one way or another.”
When Mozzie looked at Neal, he noted the dark expression on the younger man’s face as he brooded over the too recent death of the woman he loved. It made him uneasy. He knew that seeing Kate die right in front of his eyes had changed Neal. Exactly how much it changed him still remained to be seen.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Dick Grayson had finally returned to the hotel where his brother was examining the device Neal had given Nightwing.
“Wait? He found all the bugs?” Dick asked in surprised after Damian updated him on the lack of surveillance. “Every one?”
“Found them. Chatted to us through them. Then smashed them.” Damian sounded frustrated as he pulled out a small circuitboard from the device and put it under his microscope.
Dick shook his head and massaged his temples. He was still happy that they had finally found their brother, but all the questions and mystery surrounding his current identity over the last seven years were absolutely maddening.
From the FBI and Interpol records, Neal Caffrey was allegedly a brilliant criminal mastermind suspected of over fifty different white collar crimes across the United States and Europe. However, only one charge was ever successfully pinned on him, and that was a bond forgery here in New York. The only man to ever capture Caffrey was Special Agent Peter Burke. And for some insane reason that Dick still could not wrap his head around, Neal broke out of prison with just four months left on his sentence only to be recaptured by Burke yet again a few weeks later. However, instead of being sent directly to jail (do not pass GO… do not collect $200), he was offered a job as a consultant for the FBI. Things seemed to be going well for awhile there. He helped the FBI solve quite a few cases. He seemed to be on track to staying on the straight and narrow.
Then things happened. Things that involved an amber music box, a corrupt FBI agent, an exploding plane, and unfortunately a dead woman who happened to also be Neal’s long-time girlfriend.
As Dick began to wonder where the aspirin was in the hotel room, the com link to Oracle began to ping. “I really hope you have some good news for me, Babs,” he said after opening up the web chat.
“I wish I did, Dick,” Barbara apologized. “I just got the info you wanted. You’re not gonna like this.”
“I already don’t like this. Just, please, give it to me quick. Like ripping off a band-aid.”
“Alright.” A new window popped up on the computer screen. “I ran the DNA the FBI and Interpol have for both Neal Caffrey and Timothy Wayne. The DNA for Neal Caffrey for both of them matches my DNA records for our Tim.” Barbara frowned. “Their DNA for Timothy Wayne ended up matching someone completely different in my records. This wasn’t just a glitch or a clerical error. Someone hacked those agencies and changed Tim’s DNA record on purpose.”
Dick felt that migraine strengthening behind his eyes. “So who’s DNA is listed as Tim’s at the FBI?”
At the sound of his name, the teenager lifted his head from his research. “Yes, Barbara?”
Babs shook her head. “No. I mean it’s Damian’s DNA they have on record.”
“Wait, what?” Damian’s eyes went wide. “You don’t think—You can’t think that I’d-“
“Don’t worry, I’m not accusing you, little D,” Babs said in a reassuring tone. “These records were hacked back when Tim first went missing. At that age, there was no way you could’ve hacked either of those agencies.”
Dick felt his expression darken. “No… There’s only one person I know with both the resources to successfully hack those agencies and the access to Damian’s DNA.” He slammed his clenched fist down hard on the table and glared balefully at the computer screen. “This is no coincidence. This is a god damn calling card!”
And the plot thickens. In the first part we have Neal and Mozzie having a pleasant afternoon of bug exterminating. Though it was interesting for Neal to learn that he was being mistaken for the lost Wayne heir, it’s a development that pales in comparison to his quest to find Kate’s murderer. On the other side of things, Dick gets his first solid lead into who could’ve turned Tim Drake into Neal Caffrey.