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White Collar Ficlets - Part 2
Countermeasures - June
This is the 2nd half of my "new ficlets post."  See previous post for the general intro:

Ficlets, Part 1!

To repeat part of that general info: No real spoilers to speak of, though the 1st one makes a very general reference to events in "Dentist of Detroit."  All are pretty much G-rated, though the last one could be read as being somewhat suggestive. :-)  ETA: I can't put all four ficlets in one post, so the first two are here, and the last two will be in a separate post.

And on to the rest of the fic:

Prompt: Defiance (any character prompt) - Neal
Characters/Pairings: Peter & Neal
Summary: One possible future
Word Count: 675


The last time Peter Burke catches Neal Caffrey, he doesn’t feel triumph, or even satisfaction.  He’s angry, and disappointed, and maybe even a little bit sad.  Okay, more than a little.  Peter has Neal dead to rights, and Neal knows it.  He’s standing in the middle of the fancy hotel room, fingers laced together behind his head, watching the doorway – and not the guns pointed at him – when Peter comes in.  On the surface, this is just a script both of them have acted out before.  Except it’s not.  After all they’d been through together, after four years in which Peter saw Neal go from a risk he decided to take, to someone he began to tentatively look at as his partner, to a man he thought of as not just his partner but his friend, this is not somewhere Peter expected to be.

Peter waves his agents back a bit, pulling out his cuffs as he moves forward – Neal is his responsibility, his mistake, and he’s going to do the job himself this time.  Neither man speaks, as Peter steps behind Neal and reaches up to snap a cuff on one wrist.  The sound of the metal ratcheting down is loud in the quiet of the room.  Peter pulls Neal’s cuffed hand down behind him, a little more forcefully than necessary – Neal isn’t resisting – then takes hold of his other hand and brings it down, locks the second cuff in place.  He pulls in a couple of deep breaths, trying to compose himself, then spins Neal around to face him.

“Why?” Peter asks.  He should be reading Neal his rights, or handing him off to one of his subordinates to deal with.   Really, he doesn’t even have to be here at all.  But he does, he knows.  And he has to ask.  Why did Neal throw away everything that he had accomplished in his four years with the FBI?  Despite all of the initial skepticism, Neal won over a lot of people at the bureau, enough so that he could have stayed on in a paid position.  And then there were the museum directors, gallery owners, and businessmen.  Peter knows that Neal had offers – real, legitimate offers, some of which would surely have paid Neal handsomely for his rather unique skills.  But as soon as the anklet came off, Neal was gone.  He’d even begged off the dinner invitation El had sent with Peter on Neal’s last day with the FBI.  She’d been sad.  Elizabeth thought of Neal as family.  But she’d understood – or at least she’d thought she had.

“He’s been stuck here in New York for four years,” she’d reasoned.  “And he was in prison for almost four years before that.  I’m sure he just needs some time to himself, and he probably just wants to be away from here for a while.”

It made sense.  Neal needed to spread his wings for a while.  He’d be back.  Or at least he’d send postcards.  But he hadn’t come back.  And there were no cards on Peter’s birthday.  In fact there was no sign of Neal at all, until the first theft almost a year later.  A Rafael, no less.   The theft had the authorities in San Francisco baffled, and when Peter heard about it, looked into the case a bit, he knew.

It took him over four years this time, but he’d done it again, and here they were, Peter leading a team of armed agents and Neal in handcuffs.

“Why?” Peter asks again, anger and disappointment clear in his tone.

Neal looks at Peter, puzzled at first, then with an almost defiant expression on his face.  “You really don’t know, do you Peter?” he says, shaking his head. 

“We were partners, Neal.  I thought we were friends.”

“And you thought that would change me,” Neal says.  He sighs, looks down at his feet, then back up with what Peter thinks may be genuine regret.  “This is who I am, Peter,” he says with a sigh.  “This is who I’ll always be.”

Prompt: Collector (any character prompt?) - June
Characters/Pairings: June (mention of Neal)
Summary: Everyone has it backwards
Word Count: 67 (sentence fic)

She is a collector of beautiful things – that lovely china tea service, a handsome baby grand piano, the exquisite Oriental rug in the sitting room – and she simply can’t resist the gorgeous young con man when she sees him that day at the thrift shop, so she is happy to let him think that he charmed his way into her home, and not the other way around.

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I LOVE both of these. I like their honesty and the way you put a non-sunny spin that's not villanous or unbelievable but realistic

Thanks for the lovely & thoughtful feedback. Those aren't necessarily my usual takes on the characters, but the prompts took me in somewhat unexpected directions. I'm so glad the results felt realistic.

Beautifully written--but I'm sobbing! (Ok, I know you're across the table from me right now--I'm sobbing inside, damn it!) You've made the idea that Neal has stuck in his head--that he can't change--seem frighteningly realistic. Ack! In my head, Peter and Neal will find some way to fix this . . .

Thank you so much for the lovely feedback! I'm so glad that it rang true for you. I am usually more of a happy ending person, but that's not where the prompt took me this time around. I'm so glad it worked for you. Sorry I made you sob (even on the inside).

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