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White Collar Ficlet - Small Comforts (for Caffrey-Burke Day) + Bonus Teaser!
Neal - airstrip
Title: Small Comforts
Rating: G
Length: ~750
Spoilers: Missing Scene from "Out of the Box" (S1 finale)
Characters: Peter, Hughes, Neal
Summary: See entry for "Spoilers" above

AN: I feel a bit bad about this, because I wanted to write something news for Caffrey-Burke Day, but it just wasn't in the cards. I am writing a new ficlet, and that fic would fit C-B Day, but it's not done yet. Apologies, therefore, to the wonderful folks who were at the WC Fan meetup near DC in September, as you all have seen this before. It's also really a scene between Peter and Hughes, but I think it is as much about the relationship between Peter and Neal as it is about Peter & Hughes (and kind of about Hughes & Neal). Thanks to kanarek13 for the amazing picture prompts that fueled our writing games over the course of the meet-up weekend, elrhiarhodan for being a major driving force in the meet-up happening in the first place, and pooh_collector for being an awesome roomie. And because I feel kind of guilty posting something not really new (even though I haven't actually posted it on my LJ yet), and not as Peter-Neal centric as I'd like, I'm including a really brief teaser for the fill I'm writing for miri_thompson for my never-ending (as in I'm taking forever to write for it) drabble and/or time stamp meme.

Prompt picture:

Peter sighed as he made his way up to where Reese Hughes was standing outside of his office. He knew his boss had been more than a little reluctant to agree to Peter’s proposed deal with Neal. And, if Peter were honest with himself, he knew that the older man had had good reason. Heck, Peter had turned Neal down flat that first day, when he’d made good on his promise to meet with him in prison. It was crazy. Neal was a hyper-intelligent con artist who’d found a way to walk out of a maximum security prison almost on the spur of the moment to chase after his missing girlfriend…the same missing girlfriend that Peter had known Neal would be chasing after the first chance he got if Peter wasn’t careful.

But Reese had agreed in the end, and Peter and Neal’s unlikely partnership had, against all odds, worked. And as much as people saw Reese Hughes as a hard taskmaster, as the tough, by the book boss (and he was all of that), there was more to the veteran FBI agent than that. He cared about his people, his team. And Peter had seen the man with his grandchildren, knew there was a warm heart underneath the stern exterior. Reese Hughes was not for a minute taken in by Neal’s big blue eyes, or his con man’s smile, but he was a good judge of people, and Peter knew that it wasn’t just their closure rate that had his boss warming to the New York White Collar Unit’s embedded CI.

“It’s not right,” Peter said, dispensing with even the courtesy of a greeting.

Reese didn’t call him on it, just held up a hand to forestall the argument he must have known was coming. He didn’t look happy either, Peter realized, and then his gaze followed his bosses’ and they were both looking down into the bullpen. Neal was still dressed in the dark slacks and black turtleneck he’d worn to the airfield, but his shirt was untucked, his hair in disarray. The blanket that the EMTs had draped over him when Peter had made him submit to an examination had somehow made it back to the FBI building, but now lay discarded at Neal’s feet.

“He just saw the love of his life die, right in front of him,” Peter said, speaking quietly even though he was under no illusion that Neal was aware of his surroundings. “And we’re going to toss him in a cell?” This was all wrong, and Peter was angry, both on Neal’s behalf and because he knew that there really wasn’t anything he could do to help his friend. “He wasn’t trying to escape.”

It was Reeses’ turn to sigh.

“You may be right,” he started.

“He had a deal with OPR,” Peter interjected.

Reese gave Peter a quelling look.

“I believe you, Peter, but it’s out of our hands.”

Peter looked back down to where Neal was sitting, unmoving except for a slight shaking of his shoulders. He’d struggled with Peter at first, determined to get to the plane, to try to save Kate despite the fact that there had been little left but a flaming ball of wreckage. Then the fight had gone out of him and he collapsed into Peter’s arms, had been unnervingly quiet and docile as Peter had shepherded him over to the EMTs, then into the car and back to the FBI building. He hadn’t moved from where Peter had left him, sitting by his usual desk.

Hughes glanced down at Neal as well, and Peter saw the sympathy in his eyes. “We have to play by the rules, here, Peter. You know that. You’re looking at a suspension and a hearing as it is. You have my support – you know that, too. And I can’t stop them from taking him, but I’m not entirely without influence. You need to back off right now, let things run their course. But my official position, when I need to have one, will be that there is still a place for Caffrey here in White Collar.”

Peter wanted to keep arguing, but he knew there wasn’t really anything more to say. Moments later he watched, helpless, as a couple of stone-faced Marshals marched through the bullpen to cuff Neal and take him away. He shook his head in disgust, then turned to see a genuine sadness on Reeses’ face. It was a small comfort, but it would have to be enough for now.

And, since I promised...this is from the meme fill follow-up to "Bad Day in Red Bank" (my AU to my own Old West AU):

“He doesn’t have a badge!” the boy announced, pointing at Neal now.

“Samuel!” the boy’s mother exclaimed, sounding scandalized. “I’m sorry,” she started to apologize.

Peter gave Neal a look that clearly said, “Just let it be so we can get rid of them.”

Neal smiled back.

Peter frowned.

“Let’s go, Samuel,” the woman said. “We should leave these men alone.”

Samuel, for his part, kept his eyes trained on Neal, even as his mother put a hand on his shoulder.

“That’s all right, ma’am,” Neal said, still smiling. “Samuel here has a good eye – I don’t have a badge,” he continued, turning in his seat, then lifting his left arm and tugging gently on his handcuffs. The chain jingled. Samuel’s eyes went wide. His mother gasped. Peter sighed loudly and gave Neal a dirty look.

“You shoot somebody?” Samuel asked.

“Samuel!” His mother said. Again. It was maybe a toss-up whether she was more upset by her son’s abruptness, or by the fact that she’d been smiling and blushing at Neal just a few minutes ago.

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I can totally see this conversation as part of canon. I love Peter's frustration at the injustice and Hughes was perfect - a balance of compassion and realism.

And, poor Neal sitting alone shell-shocked and hurting.

Hey, there! Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving that lovely feedback. And apologies - I'm still behind in reading BB fic. Hopefully I'll grab a chunk of time for catching up soon. Glad Hughes rang true for you.

Yay I always thought we needed missing scenes after the season 1 finale. And Reese....I love him soo much. Thanks for sharing.

There was definitely something missing between the end of "Out of the Box" and the start of "Withdrawal" I'm glad you liked my take on one part of that missing time.

I loved the tag, poor Neal *hugs him* Hughes is a gruff ole teddy bear really *hugs him too*

Also enjoyed the AU scene at the end, made me laugh! Oh Neal!! :) :)

I always liked Hughes. And right? Neal sees the love of his life die in front of him and what happens? He gets hauled off to jail. {{{hugs}}}

Also, thanks for commenting on the teaser snippet. I have about 1200 words of the ficlet it comes from. Hopefully I'll work out the last bit soon and post.

Loved the scene between Reese and Peter. Peter frustration and Resse helplessness and pragmatism is nice

Glad you liked it. I always liked Hughes, but I rarely write him. Thanks for commenting!

Awwww! Loved both of these :3

I love the conversation between Peter and Hughes--and how we see both Peter's righteous fury on Neal's behalf, and Hughes's more subtle determination to do right by their CI. Excellent!

And thank you sooo much for the teaser to that fic! Hee--Neal just couldn't resist engaging with Samuel . . . much to Peter's chagrin (and to Sam's mother's chagrin, it seems). Can't wait for the rest!

Thanks for the feedback! I always liked Hughes and haven't written him very much. And right? Peter is righteously (and rightfully, I think) angry, and Hughes is more reserved, but still doesn't like what's happening.

Also, you're very welcome re: the teaser. I have around 1200 or 1300 words and I think I may have figured out both the transition I was missing and (more or less) the end, so hopefully I'll have something to post soon. :)

I love this tag. It is great to see Reese being so supportive of Peter and Neal.

"But my official position, when I need to have one, will be that there is still a place for Caffrey here in White Collar.” : )

The scene of Neal sitting alone in the bullpen is heartbreaking.

Edited at 2014-10-29 11:21 pm (UTC)

Awww. Thanks so much for your lovely feedback!

Just perfect. Peter's anger and inability to help Neal; Hughes' acceptance of biding time until he can sway justice his way.

Ah, this is so awesome, loved it the first time I read and now even more ♥ Anything with Hughes is a win \o/ Poor Neal... and poor Peter, too, because he can't help him they way he wants to *pets them*

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