A Magnificent Stroke of Genius, Or Something Like It

Movieverse. Tony/Neal, Neal/Peter/Elle. NC-17. ~1650 words.
Peter seemed suspicious. Neal really should’ve known better.

A Magnificent Stroke of Genius
*
Neal should’ve known better. Anybody who bought a Pollock one day and stuffed it in storage the next wasn’t going to trot it out again six months later without a damn good reason. Mozzie had told him he should know better, the little voice in the back of his head had told him he should know better; hell, even the fence waiting up in Oregon had said he should know better.But it wasn’t until the bloody house he’d just broken into told him he really should’ve known better and offered him a drink that he honestly started to doubt his sanity.

*
Half an hour and two whiskey sours later, Tony Stark walked into Neal’s life wearing a Gaultier suit as slick and playful as the smile quirking his lips. His gaze jumped from Neal’s jacket slung over the piano bench to the classic Borsalino perched at a cocky angle on the back of the couch, and by the time it landed on the empty glass in Neal’s hand, his smile had spread slowly into a grin. “Glad to see you made yourself at home.”Cufflinks clinked onto the sidebar. Neal pointed at the ceiling. “By his invitation. And speaking of,” he added, watching Tony pour a few fingers of whiskey into a fresh glass, “you could’ve saved me a lot of trouble if you’d just sent along one of those.”

“Where’s the fun in that? Besides, this was like an invitation.” Loosening his tie, Tony meandered across the room to the couch where Neal had gotten comfortable, opting to sit on the edge of the big leather ottoman that doubled as a coffee table. He barely glanced at the Pollock, still tucked safely away inside its clear display case on the wall. “So, where is it?”

Neal heaved a weighty sigh. “Still in the crate,” he said, lifting his glass for a sip. Remembering he’d run out of drink a moment too late, he turned the movement into a negligent wave towards the fireplace. “I should charge you shipping and handling.”

Tony plucked the empty glass out of his hand and replaced it with the fresh drink he’d just poured. “We’ll talk about that,” he said, and rose with a wink to go pry off the crate’s cover. He crouched down, taking a good long look at the forgery tucked inside, and his low whistle of appreciation poured a shot of warmth into Neal’s veins rivalling the whiskey sliding down his throat.

The next moment Tony was up and running his fingers along the display case’s seal, eyes on the ceiling and lip caught between his teeth. “Oh, come on,” he said, “you didn’t even give it a shot?”

“I didn’t think you’d appreciate me breaking your toys,” Neal tried. He had given it a shot. The thing that called itself Jarvis had even applauded his attempt, its resonant voice raining sarcasm all over his parade.

“But stealing them is totally kosher.”

“I prefer to think of it as the temporary relocation and preservation of goods,” Neal said, sitting up to drain the dregs of Tony’s drink.

Tony shucked his jacket and left it in a heap on the floor. “Fair enough,” he said, coming back to prop one hand on the back of the couch, the other sliding the empty glass out of Neal’s. This close, the tiny flecks in his eyes shone in shades of copper and caramel. “Let’s talk temporary relocation.”

*
Neal clumsily shoved at a pillow, pressing his forehead to the cool sheets beneath, but the air heated too fast, his breaths shunted back into his face. Lifting his head, he managed to suck in a lungful before he lost it again, poured it all straight back out in a stumbling groan.”The Matisse,” Tony said, smearing a kiss down the length of his spine. “‘Creole Dancer’.”

Neal twisted halfway onto his side, his nerves buzzing and chest aching, his ribs battered from the inside by his pounding heart. “Allegedly,” he gasped out, the sweet ache of Tony’s cock shoved deep inside him momentarily eclipsing everything else. He clenched down on reflex, the brief flickers behind his eyelids turning to bright starbursts as Tony drew back, grated, “Oh fuck, sweetheart, do that again,” and drove back into him.

Neal would’ve said the exact same thing, if he could’ve just managed to catch his breath long enough to do more than moan.

*
Tony’s bedroom held no clocks, but the windows were dark and the voice from above remained reassuringly silent as Neal rolled carefully out of bed. He ached in a dozen tiny ways, all wonderful little twinges that reminded him of Tony’s hands on him there, mouth on him here, as he quietly dressed. He belatedly discovered he’d lost a few buttons on his shirt somewhere between the couch and the bed, and with a shrug exchanged it for Tony’s. The soft white cotton smelled as warm and clean as Tony’s skin had before they’d gotten around to wrecking both the bed and each other.Before he left, he signed the back of the forgery and left a note on the bottom of the stairs containing his thanks for a lovely evening, his hopes that they could maybe do it again sometime, and his fond wishes that Tony would enjoy being the only person to ever own a confirmed Caffrey semi-original.

*
A week later, a private courier showed up at Neal’s door bearing gifts of the Pollock’s detailed provenance and a gold-lettered invitation to the Stark Foundation’s Fall Restoration Gala.
*
Or Something Like It
Peter seemed suspicious.After three months, two days, and approximately seven hours, Neal thought that he’d be used to Peter Is Suspicious. Comical protestations aside, he knew he was thief, Peter knew he was a thief, the entire bureau knew he was a thief, but like an unfortunate overbite or Peter’s woeful lack of anything even remotely resembling fashion sense, it tended not to matter so much.

Sometimes it was a little bit of an embarrassment, but generally speaking.

In any case, not even Elle’s polite but firm elbow to Peter’s gut could dislodge the formidable line of disapproval drawn between his brows. “When,” he said, each syllable carefully controlled and precisely enunciated, “and how, do not leave out how, did you manage to steal this.”

“Peter,” Elle said, loving yet disappointed. “It’s a wonderful gift.”

Since Peter didn’t seem interested, Neal turned his smile her way. “Thank you. I’m glad you like it.”

“Don’t encourage him,” Peter snapped.

Neal picked up the envelope that he’d set out on the mantle and handed it over. “The provenance is right here, clearly stating how it very legally came into my possession.”

“See?” Elle touched the edge of the frame, moving it a fraction of an inch to the right. “Have a little faith, Peter.”

Peter grumbled something under his breath, eyeballing the painting as Elle nudged it back to the left. He flipped through the documents until he came to the latest addition, lips moving faintly as he read through the careful script. When he was done, he slapped the pages. “You could’ve forged these, too!”

“Oh, Peter,” Elle said, still loving but now slightly disgusted.

“In all honesty, I’m insulted,” Neal said, opting for a dramatic flop onto the couch. “You heard me,” he said, pointing a finger at Peter’s bug-eyed stare, “insulted. That was a gift to me from a very good friend, and the idea that you actually believe I’d give you a stolen painting for your anniversary is, well, it’s insulting, that’s what it is.”

“I- But you-” Peter frowned and cleared his throat. “You expect me to believe this guy just gave you a Jackson Pollock worth-” he glanced at the paper again, then squinted and yanked it closer. “Holy shit.”

“A bit less in today’s market,” Neal said. “Hang on to it for awhile.”

Elle frowned at him, absently edging the painting half an inch to the right. “You know we wouldn’t sell it, Neal. It’s perfect right where it is.”

Neal shrugged, the warmth in his belly spilling out into his smile. “Good for a rainy day.”

“Okay,” Peter said, pacing to the dining table and back, papers still clutched in his hand. “All right. It’s not that I don’t believe you-”

“Yes it is,” Neal cut in.

“Not that I don’t want to believe you, but you know I have to check this out. If I don’t, the bureau’s going to want to know why.”

“Of course.”

“I’ll just go make a quick call, get the ball rolling,” Peter went on, already headed for the kitchen with his cell in hand. “I’m sure it’ll be fine,” he added, watching Elle rearrange the candles on the mantle.

As the door swung shut, Neal looked up and said to her, “You don’t have to worry.”

She waved a hand dismissively. “I know, and he knows it too, Neal. It’s just his job. Sometimes it gets to him.”

Neal shrugged, more than willing to take a little bad along with the good. “Back to the left,” he suggested, nodding at the painting.

With one last tap, Elle stepped back, crossing her arms with an air of contentment, her smile finally finding its way back. After a moment, she asked, “Who was it that gave it to you?”

“A guy I know out in California,” Neal said. “He really is amazing, but honestly, a lost cause when it comes to art.”

Elle laughed, about to say something more, when from the kitchen came Peter’s disbelieving shout of, “Who!?”

Neal sat back, arms tucked behind his head, and smiled.

End

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