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White Collar Fic - Meme Fill (more Old West A/U)
Matt TNH 1
Has it really been three months since the last time I posted a fill for this meme? Ouch. In any case, this is for miri_thompson, who requested a time stamp for Bad Day at Red Bank, the A/U I wrote of an older Old West A/U. The time stamp she requested didn't really work, but in the comments to the original story she'd mentioned wanting to see more of the train trip that that story ends with. That's what I ended up writing. You really ought to read the original fic first, as this one pics up pretty much right after that one ends. In other news, these fills keep getting longer - this one checks in at 2601:

Neal shifted in his seat again in an attempt to get more comfortable. Regrettably, he’d had to admit that Peter was right. They’d boarded the train as a US Marshal and his prisoner, and it wouldn’t do to have the conductor or any of the other railroad employees see them as anything else. Or any of the many passengers who’d likely already have heard that there was a captive outlaw on board. At least Peter, for all he was having far too much fun with this whole charade, had allowed that it was unreasonable to make Neal spend the whole trip with his hands tied behind him. That said, Neal’s pleasure at having won that argument had been tempered just a bit when, after cutting him loose, Peter had dug into his saddle bag, pulled out a pair of handcuffs (which apparently the Marshals’ service, well, okay, Peter in this case, could afford), and proceeded to shackle Neal’s left wrist to the armrest of his seat, with a stern look and the admonition, “Do not. Pick. This.”

Neal had given him his best, “Who, me?” look, but of course Peter knew better and just rolled his eyes in response before settling in in the seat next to Neal.

Neal sighed and shifted again. Peter looked at him and smiled, just this side of smug. “Is the great Neal Caffrey sulking?” he asked

Neal just scowled at him, used his free hand to tip down the brim of his hat, and closed his eyes. Maybe he could catch a nap – he was tired, after all, and if Peter was going to drag him out at the crack of dawn and not just play his part as the big, bad US Marshal, but be all smug about it to boot, then what better response but for Neal to ignore him totally. And it’s not like that didn’t fit the part Neal was playing too. He was an infamous outlaw, and certainly not overly concerned by his current circumstances, however disadvantageous they might seem. Okay, so Neal really was an infamous outlaw – that wasn’t a part he was playing. But being blasé enough about his situation that he could ignore it in favor of catching up on his sleep was both a response Neal Caffrey might have to a real lawman, and one that might annoy his partner. And really, how many people could be getting on a train from Red Bank to Harleyville, anyway? Maybe if the two of them had the car to themselves he could convince Peter to back off on the verisimilitude just a bit.

Unfortunately for Neal, not only was he unable to fall asleep, but apparently the first train out of Red Bank (and really, how in the heck did Red Bank warrant its own train station in the first place?) was unfathomably popular. He cracked an eye the first time the door to their car opened, but it was just the conductor’s assistant. He snuck a look the third time, and cursed inwardly when he saw that several of the seats toward the front of the car were now occupied. He finally gave up the charade of sleep just in time to see a young woman and her son come through the door and head in his and Peter’s direction.

“Ma’am,” Peter said with a nod as the woman stopped a couple of rows in front of them. “Good morning,” she said with a hint of a smile.

Neal followed suit, giving her one of his best smiles and adding a, “Good morning, Ma’am” of his own.

Her smile grew in response, and a slight blush colored her cheeks. Peter shot him a glare. Neal gave him his best innocent look in return. Peter, of course, didn’t buy that look any more than the “Who, me?” one Neal had given him earlier, but, Neal knew, he also didn’t want to make a scene if he could avoid it.

The boy, probably five or six years old, stood halfway behind her, peering shyly at Peter and Neal. Something seemed to have caught his eye, and he took a tentative step closer.

“Are you a Sheriff?” he asked, pointing at Peter’s badge.

“Close,” Peter replied, sounding all too serious. “U.S. Marshal.”

The boy looked suitably impressed, and Neal found himself wondering about the hierarchy of law enforcement officers from the perspective of a six-year-old.  Then a pair of big brown eyes turned themselves on him. He watched as the boy looked from Peter to Neal then back. And back again. The little brow furrowed.

“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.

It didn’t take long for Samuel to get over his shock. “You shoot somebody?” he asked.

“Samuel!” His mother said. Again. It was maybe a toss-up as to 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.

Neal looked the boy in the eye. “It’s a fair question,” he said, and, at least for the moment, he was completely serious. “No. I didn’t shoot anyone. Don’t like guns. They’re dangerous and messy. And people get hurt.”

Samuel looked thoughtful for a moment, then nodded, apparently satisfied with that response. “So what’d you do?” he asked, all childlike curiosity. His mother said nothing. She had apparently given up on having any control over the conversation.

“He swindled some people out of a lot of money. Oh, and cracked a few safes,” Peter offered before Neal could reply. Neal had to admit that Peter was pretty good at this – he sounded every bit the put upon lawman. Then again, maybe it was the fact that the ‘put upon’ part was real that gave his performance its ring of truth.

“Allegedly cracked a few safes,” Neal interjected.            

“And the swindling?”

“It’s not like they couldn’t afford it. Bankers and businessmen getting rich on other people’s money.” Neal countered.

It wasn’t really like Neal to admit to any of his crimes, and he’d deny it all if pressed, but he was enjoying himself now. If Peter expected Neal to let him keep him under lock and key for this whole trip, well, Neal could have a bit of fun too. And frankly, the sincerity in his voice just now was as real as Peter’s frustration had been a moment ago.

“So you stole from rich people? Like Robin Hood?” Samuel asked, sounding excited now.

“Except for the part where he gave the money to himself and not the poor,” Peter grumbled, continuing to play his part all too well.

Not that it mattered. Samuel was looking at Neal like he was the hero now.

Peter Burke, meanwhile, was trying to figure out just when (and how) he’d lost control of the situation. Neal had been forced to concede that they would have to continue their charade, at least until their train reached its destination. And perhaps it was (at least partly) Peter’s own fault – he had to admit that he’d taken more than a little pleasure in Neal’s frustration. But could he really be blamed? It was a rare thing to see the consummate con man let his irritation show.

Of course Peter really should have known that Neal would find a way to turn things to his advantage and that little details like the handcuffs tethering him to his seat, or having a US Marshal as his traveling companion, would do little to dampen Neal’s charm.

And the whole Robin Hood story was bound to capture a little boy’s imagination. To Neal’s credit, he’d actually talked young Samuel out of some of that burgeoning hero worship. It wasn’t that Neal felt particularly guilty about his chosen profession – he didn’t, as Peter well knew. And Peter was willing to not only look the other way, but to join in on occasion. What Neal had said about the type of people whose money he went after was true, after all. But Peter also knew that there was a part of Neal that, in contemplative moments, was prone to thinking about the “what ifs.” What if he’d grown up with two parents? What if his mother hadn’t been barely able to take care of herself after his father died? Peter still didn’t know all the details of Neal’s past, but he could hear the melancholy in Neal’s voice as he counseled a little boy on a train to listen to his mother and not travel down a path that could end with him in handcuffs. Even if said handcuffs were, at least in this case, just for show, the threat itself was real enough, and Peter was both glad that Neal seemed to have perhaps gotten through to the boy and relieved when Samuel and his mother headed off to their own seats.

Of course it hadn’t ended there. There’d been the young woman on her way to start her new job as a teacher, who’d looked at Neal like he was a wayward student who just needed a bit of tenderness and care. And the elderly couple whom Neal reminded of their grandson and who’d brought him a piece of the pie they were taking with them on their visit to said grandson’s family.

“I hope that’s all right?” the woman had said to Peter when she’d arrived back at his and Neal’s seat with it and Peter had decided it was more trouble than it would be worth to turn her away.

For the most part Peter had just gone with the flow, but he’d finally drawn the line at Neal’s pickpocketing of the conductor’s assistant on the way to the toilet. Yes, the man was annoying, but they didn’t need to attract any more attention (or trouble) then their mere presence on the train was already bringing.

So Peter carried on walking Neal to the little cubicle at the end of the car and waited for him outside. And then, when Neal stepped back out into the main compartment, Peter took him by the arm and physically moved him away from the door.

“All right, Caffrey,” he said, voice stern. “Hand’s up.”

Neal looked startled at first. After a moment the surprise on his face was replaced by a frown – not surprisingly as it wasn’t as if the manhandling had been necessary – but he did as he was told.

Peter patted him down, using the frisking as an excuse to crowd Neal and get into his space.

“You’re unbelievable,” he said, under his breath

“Seriously, Peter? You should know better by now,” Neal replied with a smirk. “And you still love me.” This last was even quieter, barely a whisper in Peter’s ear.

“Yes. And yes. But we don’t need some self-important railroad employee making a stink when he finds out his wallet is missing, and causing trouble. So you are going to give it back. And you’re going to be a good little prisoner and behave yourself the rest of the way to Harleyville. And maybe I won’t tell Elizabeth what a troublemaker you were. Understood?”

Peter watched with satisfaction as Neal’s eyes went wide and he sucked in a breath – though it was a toss-up whether that was in response to Peter ordering him around, or the threat of Elizabeth, or both.

A couple of minutes later, they were back at their seats. Neal had conveniently “found” the wallet the conductor’s assistant had apparently dropped in the aisle, frowning when the man thanked Peter for its safe return. Peter waited for Neal to sit down, then dangled his handcuffs in front of Neal’s face. Neal sighed but held his hand out so Peter could snap one of the cuffs around his wrist before again locking the other one to the armrest.

“I’m sure I don’t have to tell you,” Peter began, frowning down at Neal.

“I know, I know,” Neal said with a sigh. “Don’t pick this.”

Peter just gave him a questioning look.

“Do I still have a chance at that reward if I’m a good boy the rest of the trip?” Neal said with a grin.

Peter just shook his head in disbelief and flopped down into his own seat.

Neal let out a sigh as the door closed behind them. Finally. To be honest, the trip hadn’t been overly uncomfortable, even if he’d spent most of it shackled to his seat. And he’d honestly enjoyed watching Peter successfully convince the train conductor, his staff, and even a couple of apparent Good Samaritans that he had the situation under control, that he didn’t need help, and that there was no need to send for the sheriff to come and meet them at the station. Peter was far better at getting people to do what he wanted than he gave himself credit for. And now, finally, the two of them were alone in the rooms Peter had gotten at the boarding house on the outskirts of town. They’d need to leave town pretty soon, before anyone realized that they weren’t going to the sheriff at all, but surely there was time for…

…and before Neal could even complete the thought in his own mind, Peter grabbed him by the arms and spun the two of the around, then leaned in and kissed Neal, hard.

Neal’s eyes slid closed, and he let himself be pushed back into the closed door behind him, his bound hands digging into the small of his back. When Peter finally came up for air, Neal was breathing hard, and he could feel the heat pooling in his groin. Peter took a half step back and looked Neal up and down.

“There’s no one here but us,” Neal said. “So how about you cut me loose and we can both get our reward?”

“Not so fast,” said another voice, and Neal’s breath caught as he looked past Peter to where Elizabeth had just come through a door he hadn’t even realized was there. Presumably that’s where the bathtub was, as her hair was just slightly damp and she was dressed in a nightgown and robe. And she was, well, Neal could only describe it as stalking across the room toward them. Nudging Peter aside, she took Neal’s chin in her hand.

“You’re a bad man, Neal Caffrey, aren’t you?” she asked, but it wasn’t really a question and she didn’t give him a chance to answer. “I think you’ll need to prove to me that you deserve that reward first.”

Neal’s eyes cut to Peter, who just shrugged, a sly smile on his face. They both knew who was in charge of this show.

“As you wish,” Neal said, lowering his gaze and trying not to smile himself. Getting there might just be as enjoyable as the reward itself.

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Absolutely loved this! Peter and Neal are both perfect here: Peter so smug in his chosen role, Neal so cheekily defiant . . . this sort of banter between them is oh-so-familiar, yet it's all in such a different context--a sexy and fun context! And of course, there's El taking charge at the end, which both boys seem completely fine with. :D

Meanwhile, this was a great line: Neal found himself wondering about the hierarchy of law enforcement officers from the perspective of a six-year-old.

Hee! Thanks for an excellent fill.

Edited at 2014-11-24 02:44 am (UTC)

Yay! I was so close to being done with it, but I got stuck on a couple of little things near the end, and then I needed to find time to read over the whole draft to take care of any minor editing...blah, blah, blah. :-)

I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much (even if it wasn't the prompt you left here). And I'm glad the banter was familiar but also worked in this other context.

Thanks for the feedback!

Oooh, I love this. This 'verse is always so enjoyable :)

Aww. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

That was a lot of fun to read. Great banter between the Guys. Peter looked like he was having a lot of fun ordering Neal around. I love how El showed up at the end to show who was really in charge.

I hope you get the chance to write more. Maybe a prequel about how they all meet. : )

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the banter - I do enjoy writing it. I'd like to write more Old West AU at some point. We'll see. Thanks again for commenting.

Awww, hee, so much love. There's just something so very squee-worthy about our boys on horses in the wild west :D

There has to be a manip in there somewhere :D

OMG! How much would I love a manip/art for Old West WC. :-)

Also, glad you enjoyed the story & thanks for commenting.

I found this pic a while ago and then lost track of your story. It's by ladykalitha, here's the link to her deviantART page (

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