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White Collar Sentence Fic (a.k.a. They may just be sentences, but I kind of like them)
Matt TNH 1
So the ever-wonderful elrhiarhodan  hosted another Promptfest, which ran for a month from March 10 to April 11.  This time around, the 'fest was a "Single Sentence Challenge," the idea being to try to tell a whole story in just one sentence.  I found myself intrigued, but a little daunted, wondering just what I could do with single sentences.  I discovered that one thing I could do was make liberal use of dashes, semi-colons and parentheses. :-)  The process was at times challenging (How can I fit everything I want to say into just one sentence?), and at times liberating (Hey!  I may not feel capable of writing a whole story featuring Top!Sara, but I can write a sentence's worth.).  In the end, it was a blast, both to write for and to read.  I was humbled and awed by what many of the writers were able to do with just one sentence.  And, as has happened in the past with these 'fests, it got me writing again after a lull.  Also, since everything was sentence-length, I was able to find time to write here and there, despite being buried by work a lot of that time.  I kind of went back and forth about posting, as, well, they're "just" sentences, but after a bit of thought (and a bit of prodding), I decided, "Why not?"

And so with that background, I give you 29 sentences of White Collar.  Most of these are gen, a few hint at more (though none are really explicit), and they are just presented in the order I wrote them.  Subtitles are the prompts that I was filling.


Neal - Chocolate

When Neal was small one of his favorite things in the world was when his mom would make hot chocolate for the two of them – the kind with the little marshmallows was Neal’s favorite – and they would sit on the sofa and she would tell him stories about his father; it took years, after he learned the truth, to be able to even look at a box of the stuff without feeling the pain of innocence lost.

Hughes – Linger

Reese knows how everyone sees him, as the stern boss, always focused on the job, but he sees more than they realize, understands more than they know - he sees how Caffrey's eyes follow Peter, lingering just a bit longer than they should, how Peter's hand lingers just a bit too long on Caffrey's shoulder, or arm, or back, and he knows he should stop this thing that's happening between them, but he also sees - to his own surprise - that it's good for them, both of them, and so for now he keeps his counsel and waits.

Neal – Pain

Neal Caffrey, con man extraordinaire, always smooth, always in control, and yet somehow Peter has gotten under his skin, and Neal is genuinely surprised by the pain that cuts him like a knife as hears Peter's voice again and again in his head, saying those five damning words, "You let me down Neal."

Sara – No more flirting

"What did I tell you about flirting with the waitresses?" Sara asked, one elegant finger lifting his chin, forcing him to meet her gaze, and though her tone was deceptively mild, Neal - on his knees and wearing nothing but her collar - knew better than to answer.

Peter – Sneezing

He is unsurprised to learn that Peter is a terrible patient - the kind who, despite near-constant sneezing and a 101 degree temperature, insists that he is not that sick and should be working - but Neal is under orders from Elizabeth to, "Make sure he takes care of himself and gets some rest," and both Peter and Neal know who is really in charge in this household.

Neal – Aching

Neal Caffrey is six years old when he has his tonsils out, and despite the trip to the hospital (not that he was scared, or anything), and the achy throat, he thinks the whole thing is a pretty good deal - after all, he gets to have ice cream for dinner, twice, and best of all his mom takes the day off from work and they spend an afternoon together playing games and watching tv, until he falls asleep on the sofa, waking up just long enough to feel his mom picking him up and carrying him to bed.


Neal understands what Peter sees – Neal Caffrey the con man who always lands on his feet and has somehow managed to go from a prison cell to a fleabag motel to a mansion all in one day – but he also knows what Peter doesn’t see, that despite the opulent surroundings, despite June’s warm hospitality, without Kate by his side what Neal feels most is not so much lucky, but alone.

Satchmo’s POV of P/E/N

Satchmo tilts his head to give Mr. Neal better access to one of his favorite scratching spots and thumps his tail in approval; he likes Mr. Neal and is glad that he is part of Satchmo's family now, though honestly, if it had been up to him it would have happened much sooner - Satchmo is an excellent judge of character (as dogs often are), and he knew way before dad that Mr. Neal was worth keeping.

Neal – At the edge

Contrary to popular belief, Neal can be quite pragmatic when he needs to be, and he is also well aware of the benefits of two miles of New York City real estate compared to an eight by ten foot prison cell, but he still sometimes finds himself standing, just at the edge of his radius, and wanting desperately to be able to take just one more step forward.

Diana – Distance

She knows the danger in what Peter Burke is asking of her (and really, anything involving both Caffrey and OPR can’t be good), she knows she should keep her distance from the whole mess, but Diana also knows that Peter is not only one of the best agents she’s known, but also one of the best men, and she will always remember that he’s also the man who not only asked a brand new agent, fresh out of the academy, for her opinion on the Caffrey case, but listened to what she had to say.

Elizabeth – All it takes

More than ten years into their marriage, and still all it takes is her catching a glimpse of that wry smile, or of that look of fond exasperation at Neal’s latest “shenanigans,” or of the pure affection on his face as he looks at her in a quiet early morning moment, and Elizabeth is reminded of the many reasons she loves Peter Burke.

Any – Cheese (from surreal_44’s “random word” prompts)

It isn’t until she insists that Neal come and stay with them while he recovers from his latest run-in with a suspect who is more than okay with guns that Elizabeth discovers that however refined his palate, comfort food for Neal is a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup (of course, with goldfish crackers on top); it’s a while longer before he is at home enough in their house to tell her why.

Elizabeth – Hold

“Just…just hold me?” Elizabeth says, and Peter Burke sits down on the bed, scooting closer to his wife and gathering her in his arms – they may not have planned on children, but they’d both embraced this unexpected addition to their family, and now, just as unexpectedly, she has been taken from them before they’ve even had a chance to know her.

Any – Sore (a companion piece to 'No more flirting')

Neal winces, just a little, as he rolls over in the bed, but he’s smiling at her even as he catalogues the myriad little aches and pains he’s feeling; his knees are sore (not surprising considering how much time he spent on them today), as is his ass (though he has no one to blame for that but himself – he knows better than to talk back to her), and as he watches her sleep he wonders if she knows how often his ‘lack of control’ is really him asking her to take him in hand (and he thinks the answer is yes, she does).

Neal – I look up

Neal turns his gaze up to a sky that has no right to be that sunny or blue, not right now, not when he is on his knees on the cold concrete of the city sidewalk, hands pressing down, desperately trying to stem the flow of blood from the gunshot wound in Peter's chest, and he prays to whatever god will listen to please, just let help arrive in time.

Peter – Chase

Peter loves the chase, and when he catches Neal Caffrey the first time, after the most exhilarating chase of his career, it’s a triumph; when he catches him the second time, though, Caffrey isn’t even running anymore, and though it’s Peter’s job to put the cuffs on him and send him back to prison, when he sees Caffrey there on the floor of the empty apartment looking so lost and forlorn, the victory seems hollow and a part of Peter (a very small part, he tells himself) feels like he’s the bad guy here.

Melancholy Man (Three fills for the price of one prompt!):


The face that Neal shows the world, carefree, always with a smile and a peck on the cheek for June as he leaves in the morning, always with an easy quip for Peter, or Jones, or Diana, isn’t altogether a lie, it’s just not the whole truth – there’s another face, somber and melancholy, the one he wears in private moments like this one, lying on the sofa in a quiet apartment, absently staring at the glowing green light of his tracking anklet.


Mozzie once told Elizabeth Burke that if Neal was going to be domesticated, he could do worse than she and Peter, and he meant it, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get melancholy sometimes, watching Neal drift further and further into a new life.

Satchmo (and Peter)

Satchmo doesn’t quite understand what’s going on, but he misses Mr. Neal, who always had time to give him a belly rub, and who was good at making Satchmo’s mom and dad smile, but he’s been gone for days now and if the sad look on dad’s face is anything to go by, Satchmo’s not the only one who misses him.

Neal – Splinter

Neal finds himself on his knees on the hard tarmac, Peter’s arms tight around him, holding him fast, and all he can do is watch as not just the plane explodes, but so too his dreams of a new life with Kate, splintering into so many fragments of burning wreckage in the cold winter air.

Everyone – Zombie Show Tunes (from the 'The 'Fest is winding down, lets do crack prompts prompt list)

They were camped out in Thursday, Mozzie having ultimately decided that ‘zombie apocalypse’ trumped secrecy in this case, and that his casa could be ‘suit casa’ again, just this once; also, Thursday had a view, which was good for keeping track of how things were going on down on the streets, and from which Peter, Neal, El and Jones were currently observing what appeared to be real-life performance of ‘Thriller,’ except that upon closer observation it became apparent that it was actually ‘West Side Story,’ and who knew that zombies liked show tunes anyway?

Anyone – Homeward Bound (Neal – A Life in Eight Sentences)

Neal  Caffrey is five years old, his hero is his father – a policeman who died in the line of duty, and home is the apartment he shares with his mom, which he looks forward going back to after morning kindergarten, because she always makes him the best lunches – his favorite is grilled cheese with the crust cut off and tomato soup with goldfish crackers in it.

Neal Caffrey is ten years old, and home is still the little apartment he and his mom live in, but he’s a big boy now, the man of the house, and he tells himself that he doesn’t miss his mom picking him up every day from school, and that he it’s okay that she has to spend so much time at work these days.

Neal Caffrey is fifteen years old, and he is angry, and he wishes that home were somewhere other than his mom’s apartment because so many times, being there reminds him of his childhood, and how he used to play at being a policeman, being a hero like his dad, but now he knows that it was all a lie, and he wonders how long he can stay here.

Neal Caffrey is twenty years old, he’s been on his own for a few years now, and he’s not sure where home is, or who he is, but he knows he couldn’t stay in that town, and he knows he doesn’t want to be his father’s son, and if that means turning into someone else, he guesses that’s what he has to do.

Neal Caffrey is twenty-five years old, and though he lives in a small apartment in New York, he dreams of a different home, a real house, with a yard – even if there’s not really a white picket fence, and plenty of space for him, and for Kate, and for the children they will have together.

Neal Caffrey is thirty years old, and he refuses to let himself dream of the house that he so wants to share with Kate, because home is an eight by ten foot cell, and the yard is concrete and surrounded not by a white picket fence, but by tall chain link and barbed wire.

Neal Caffrey is thirty-five years old, and Kate is dead, and so, he thinks, are his dreams of home.

Neal Caffrey is forty years old, and although he’s now free to go anywhere in the world, no longer tethered to two miles of New York City real estate, he has no desire to leave; he may not have Kate, or a white picket fence, but he has a family, one he’s chosen – he’s found home, and it is this house in Brooklyn.


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These are lovely! I especially adored "Any - cheese" and "Sara - flirting." :-)

Thanks so much for stopping by! My poor sentences were feeling lonely. :)

Thanks also for the feedback. I must say that I find it interesting that your two favorites are a very gen slice of life and the least gen thing I've probably ever written.

How are you doing, btw?

Aww... Poor little!Neal, with his bittersweet memories evoked by the hot cocoa with marshmallows and the soup and grilled-cheese sandwiches...

::hugs Kid!Neal::

Kid!Neal does need hugging, doesn't he?

Thanks for commenting!

Also, new kid!Neal icon. :-)

Where'd you get it? Is that a close-up screen-cap of a pic from the show?

I just realized I'd never answered your question. Sorry! I screen-capped Judgment Day, when Neal is looking at the picture Ellen gives him, and then cropped it to make a userpic.

These are wonderful! I kept thinking I had found my favorite but then a whole new favorite would emerge.

Thanks so much for commenting.

I was a bit uncertain about the idea of sentence fic when Elr announced that promptfest, but I ended up really having a good time. Sometimes it was a challenge to do everything I wanted in one sentence, but I found that it also allowed me to explore things that I might not have felt up to doing in a full scale fic. I mean, top!Sara? Where did she come from? ::grin::

Glad you enjoyed the fic!

These are lovely. They're all great but if I had to pick favorites, I think I'd pick Chocolate, Linger, Cheese, Chase, and Melancholy Man

Thanks for the feedback. I'm really glad people are finding and enjoying these. They were fun to write.

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