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Burton Guster woke up slowly, luxuriating in the decadent hotel sheets. He had no need to get up as his pharmaceutical conference ended yesterday. Today was going to be spent sightseeing with his best friend. He rolled over, prepared to start Shawn’s wake-up process, but he wasn’t there and the bed hadn’t been slept in. Gus bolted out of the bed as he remembered what had happened the past two days. Shawn had used the trip to connect with old friends – some in the FBI and one an ex-con. The ex-con, one Neal Caffrey, had pissed off crime boss Mark Ridley years ago and now he was out for revenge by framing both Neal and Shawn. They had been cleared, but the FBI decided to set up surveillance in case Ridley tried to make contact.

Now Shawn was gone. Yes, he had a tendency to wander off like an unsupervised two-year old, so it didn’t necessarily mean he had gone off and done something. The rumpled spread could just be from him falling asleep watching TV. He could have just gone for coffee.

Gus used the bathroom and came back out to change. Still no sign of Shawn. He looked around for his cell phone but couldn’t find it. He went to the room phone and dialed his own number in order to locate it with no luck. Shawn must’ve left it somewhere. Right now, it was the least of his worries. He used the hotel phone to call Agent Burke.

“Burke.”

“Agent Burke. Peter. It’s Burton Guster, Shawn’s friend?”

“Gus, right? What’s wrong?”

“He wasn’t here when I got up and the bed’s not been slept it, He’s a messy sleeper, so I’d know.” Gus’ eyes settled on the nightstand between the beds and saw the notepad with Shawn’s scribbling. “Damn it, Shawn.”

“What did you find?”

“There’s a note with what looks like a phone number and meeting place. The damn fool went to meet him!”

“Okay, I’m almost at Neal’s and then I’ll come get you. If Shawn was smart enough to leave a note, he probably left other signs as well.”

“Yeah, you’re right. He can be smart when he tries.” Gus allowed himself a small smile.

Gus ended the call and sighed. “So help me, Shawn, if you’re dead, I will kill you.”

*************************

Peter drove the rest of the way to Neal’s, worst-case scenarios running through his mind. Most likely Ridley was using one as leverage against the other. After hanging up with Gus, he called the Marshal’s Office and asked for an update on Neal’s anklet. According to them, he was still home. Maybe Shawn had woken early and headed over. One could hope, anyway.

He parked and checked with the agents on duty who reported no activity. Instead of putting him at ease, it made him more anxious.

He was met at the door by June who was on her way out to walk Bugsy. “Good morning, Peter. I don’t know if Neal’s awake yet. I believe he had a late night.”

Peter paused on the stairs. “Did he have any visitors?”

“Not that I’m aware of.” She started out the door. “I’ve had Wendy make some coffee for your agents!” she called over her shoulder.

Peter shook his head. Neal’s landlady never failed to surprise him.

He knocked on Neal’s door but there was no answer. He opened it slowly. “Neal?” He walked into the apartment carefully, hand resting at his holster. The apartment was empty. “Damn it, Neal!”

Peter called Jones. “Neal and Shawn are missing. Get a trace on Shawn’s phone and I’ll tell the Marshals that someone’s hacked them.” He checked out the apartment. There was nothing he could see with such a cursory search. He’d have the agents outside come up and keep an eye on the place.

Jones was saying something. “What?”

“Do you need me out there?”

“No. I’m going by Shawn’s hotel to pick up his friend. Apparently Shawn left a note of a meet with a phone number. When I’m done there, I’ll be in.” He ended the call. With one last look around the apartment, Peter left.

***************************

Gus used the wait time to pack knowing he wouldn’t have a chance later. He’d just leave the bags with the concierge until he knew when he was leaving.

He was on his knees looking under Shawn’s bed for his phone when there was a knock on the door. He looked around for something, anything to use. He spotted a kitschy statuette on the desk and raised it over his shoulder as he approached the door. “Who is it?”

“Gus, it’s Peter.”

Gus peered through the peephole to see the agent. He lowered the statuette as he unlocked the door and let Peter inside.

“Thanks for calling me, Gus.”

“I wasn’t sure what else to do. I didn’t see the note until I was talking with you.” He showed Peter the paper.

“When did you last see him?”

“I fell asleep while watching a movie. Maybe 10:30?”

“And what time did you wake up?”

“Maybe around 7:30. I didn’t look at the clock. I should’ve called the moment I realized he was gone.”

“That’s a nine-hour window. I don’t think your calling me any earlier would have made a difference. They’re most likely at their destination already.” Peter ripped the page off the notebook. “Too bad Shawn didn’t think to jot down the time as well. The phone’s most likely a burner, but we should be able to access Shawn’s phone records and find out when the call was made.”

A frisson of fear crept up Gus’ spine. “Oh, Lord.”

“What? Did you remember something?”

“I have to call Mr. Spencer and tell him Shawn’s missing.” He patted his pockets before remembering he didn’t have his phone. “May I use your phone? I can’t find mine.”

“We’ll call him from the car.” Peter picked up Shawn’s bag.

Gus took one last look around the room to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything. He then picked up his bag and followed Peter out of the room.


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