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Five Moments (1/2), a.k.a. White Collar Promptfest Fic #3
Matt TNH 1
doctor_fangeek
elrhiarhodan 's LJ is still the site of a wonderful White Collar fanfiction promptfest, which is still going strong, and in an interesting turn of events I've written another story for it.  This one got away from me, a little, in that I didn't really intend to write almost 2000 words for a fest fill.  But I did, and here it is:

Title: Five Moments
Prompt: Any character - 5 o'clock (morning or evening)
Rating: PG
Spoilers: None
Pairings: A smidge of Peter/Elizabeth, but this is really a gen piece
Summary: It's 5 am when Peter gets the call that Neal is out of his radius (though this is really an Elizabeth story).

It’s 5 o’clock on a Saturday morning when Peter’s phone rings, waking them both. Elizabeth is still half asleep when she hears her husband say, “How long ago? What was his last reported location?” There’s a pause in the conversation, and by the time Peter is telling whoever it is on the other end of the line to meet him at the office, Elizabeth is sitting up in their bed and Peter is already up and heading to the closet for clothes.

“It’s Neal, isn’t it?” Elizabeth asks, already starting to worry.

“It’s Neal,’ Peter says. “That was Jones. According to the Marshals, Neal went out of his radius about fifteen minutes ago, and about five minutes later his tracker just went off-line completely. “

Peter’s clearly upset, but Elizabeth is pretty sure it’s not because he genuinely thinks Neal has run. It’s about two and a half year’s into Neal’s parole, and although that last sliver of doubt still lingers, Peter’s first instinct – even his second – is no longer the assumption that Neal might disappear at any moment. Neal still pushes his boundaries, and Peter still grumbles about it, but Elizabeth can see past Peter’s frustration when Neal gets himself into trouble, to the genuine concern underneath.

“You don’t think he ran, do you?” It’s a leading question, and Elizabeth knows it, but she also knows that sometimes Peter still needs a nudge in the right direction.

“No, I don’t think he ran,” Peter says, and his tone tells Elizabeth he knows very well what she’s doing. She gives him an apologetic shrug.

“I do think he’s in trouble though. He went in undercover on our last case, and it might have something do with that. I’ve got to go.”

“I know, honey. Just bring him back safe,” Elizabeth says, leaning in to give her husband a quick good-bye kiss.

Peter heads downstairs, and Elizabeth pulls on a robe. She might as well make some coffee, maybe try to do a bit of work, since she’s not going back to sleep any time soon. As she bustles about in the kitchen, she can’t help but worry about Neal. If you had told Elizabeth Burke, back when her husband was chasing the con man (and thief…and forger), or even when Peter agreed to take Neal on as a consultant, that Neal Caffrey would become such an integral part of their lives, she probably wouldn’t have believed you. It was always true that her husband “likes smart,” but Neal was a criminal and her husband was dedicated to the law. Against all odds, however, they have become not just agent and CI, or even partners, but friends. And Elizabeth considers Neal her friend, as well. Whatever else he may be, Neal Caffrey has a good heart, and Elizabeth can see past his cocky exterior, to the sometimes lonely little boy underneath.

****

It’s 5 o’clock that same night, when the doorbell rings. There’s been no news from Peter, other than a call to tell her that they are following up on a lead and that she shouldn’t expect him for dinner. Elizabeth isn’t expecting anyone else, has no idea who it might be, but finds herself unsurprised to find Mozzie on her front porch when she opens the door. He’s carrying a bottle of wine – also not surprising, and what looks like a bag of take-out.

“Mrs. Suit,” he says in greeting. After all of this time, Moz still calls her that at least as often as he uses her real name. Elizabeth suspects that today it might be at least as much of a defense mechanism as anything else. Better to keep a bit of distance – perhaps it will keep the reality of the situation at bay.

“Mozzie,” she replies, and her smile is genuine. Neal isn’t the only unexpected friend to come into their lives over the last couple of years. Okay, Peter and Mozzie may never truly be friends, but they have grudging respect for one another, and a degree of trust, and they seem to accept that they are partners of a sort, at least in the business of keeping an eye out for Neal. Elizabeth and Mozzie is another story. Whatever his feelings about her husband’s career choice, Moz seems to have gotten past that where she is concerned, and for her part Elizabeth really does like Mozzie, quirks and all.

“Come in,” she says, opening the door wider and stepping aside.

“I thought you could use some company,” he says as he holds out a bottle of what looks like a very nice Sirah.

Elizabeth takes the wine, but gives a raised eyebrow in return.

“I know you care about Neal. And as much as I may be dismayed by his unsettling descent into a life ruled by the corporate/government drones – no offense to Mr. Suit – if he’s going to be domesticated, he could do worse.”

Elizabeth couldn’t help but laugh. Mozzie, thankfully, didn’t seem offended by her reaction. And the bag that had looked like take-out turns out to be exactly that, and from one of Elizabeth’s favorites – an Indian restaurant not that far from the house. She and Mozzie share what is, in fact, a very nice Sirah, and he’s brought samosas and lamb korma and tandoori chicken. And if he wants to make this about Elizabeth needing to take her mind off what’s going on with Neal, and possibly with her husband as well, that’s okay. Mozzie talks a great game, and his independence is not an act, but Elizabeth can see past it to the worry for his friend underneath.

to part 2...

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