January 2011

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Sunday, December 26th, 2010 08:08 pm
Author: J. Rosemary Moss  
Genre: White Collar; Gen / Friendship / Family 
Rating: PG 
Disclaimer: Alas, I don’t own White Collar 
Summary: Neal tries for some father-son bonding with Peter
Notes: Part of my 'My Old Man' verse

~oOo~

Neal woke up to a wet tongue licking his face. He smiled, but then made a face at the dog breath that accompanied the tongue. “Morning, Satch.”

He pet the dog for a few minutes and scratched behind his ears. But then he sat up and furrowed his brow, trying to figure out how best to handle Peter for the day.

Peter might be expecting him to go home—he’d been staying in the guest room for the past week. But that was Peter’s fault; the agent had played the ‘Dad card’ on him and grounded him for refusing to take his GED’s.

Lucky for Peter, Neal had decided to accept that in good part. Besides, it was all settled now. Neal had won. Well, he had agreed to take the GED’s, but Neal considered it a victory anyway.

Last night, in the midst of their test of wills, Peter had mumbled and blushed his way through an offer to make this father-son thing between them official. The man really did think of Neal as his kid—at least in part. That fact had astonished Neal, but he figured it made for a check in the win column.

“What do you think, Satch?” Neal asked. “Should I try for some kind of father-son bonding today?”

It seemed the right thing to do. He hadn’t given Peter an answer yet—about Peter officially adopting him, that is. Of course, it was just theoretical now. It would have to wait until the anklet was off and Neal was no longer in Peter’s custody.

Neal already knew his answer was an unqualified “Yes, yes, please, pretty please, as soon as possible!” But if he had come out and said that last night, he would have scared Peter off. Even though this was Peter’s idea, the man still needed time to get used to it.

So bonding seemed the way to go. But Neal had no idea how to bond with a father figure, and Satch didn’t have any useful input on the subject. He bit his lip as he thought it over.

Presumably the bonding involved baseball. That’s how it was in the movies, anyway, and Peter certainly seemed the type. Well, why not? Neal could survive one game, right?

He reached across Satchmo to pick up his cell phone and dialed his best source. “Hey, Mozzie,” Neal said. “I need a favor.”


~oOo~


“’Morning everyone” Neal called out as he strode down the stairs. “Moz has three tickets to the Yankees he can’t use today. Want to go to the game?”

Peter and Elizabeth were both seated at the dining room table. They glanced at each other and then up at Neal.

Peter raised his eyebrows. “Haversham‘s a baseball fan?”

Neal gave him a look of pure innocence. “Why wouldn‘t he be?”

Elizabeth stifled a giggle as she shrugged at her husband.

“Ok,” Peter said. “We’re both free. But, ah, the Bronx is outside your radius.”

Neal flashed him his most dazzling smile. “Yes, but I’ll be with you.”

Peter’s eyes were warm and amused as he answered. “Yeah, you will be. Fine, I’ll make the arrangements.”

Neal nodded, disguising his relief by taking a seat at the table with practiced nonchalance. “The tickets will be at the call window. Moz says maybe we‘ll see A-Rod hit his six hundredth something or other.”

Elizabeth seemed to swallow another smile as she buttered her bagel. “Home run, sweetie.”

“Right,” Neal said. “That was it. I take it that’s impressive?”

“It’s not shabby,” Elizabeth said.

Peter grinned. “And you care about A-Rod since when, Neal?”

“Since today,” Neal said, grinning back. “I can get into the game—especially if an important stat is on the line.”

“Well, I hope Alex gets it soon,” Elizabeth said after taking a bite of her bagel. “The Yankees will be on a long road trip after this series. Have some breakfast, Neal.”

Peter started talking about how he liked seeing A-Rod play small ball, just getting good, solid hits instead of swinging for the fences, so Neal let the conversation drift over him as he took a bagel for himself and spread some kind of lox-cream cheese over it.

He leaned back in his chair, marveling that a beer-and-baseball guy like Peter could also discuss art history when he chose. Maybe not with Neal’s depth, but the man’s knowledge was respectable.

Then he felt a pang of envy as Elizabeth laid her hand on top of her husband’s. Not for the touch, exactly, but for the fact that these two so obviously belonged together.

But Neal didn’t feel out of place sitting here at the table with them. Peter was his friend, after all—and now a little more than that. They were sort of family.

So maybe he belonged here too, baseball discussions notwithstanding.

~oOo~

Neal leaned back against the wall, smiling at his partner. He and Peter were standing on line to see the new Monument Park. Or maybe it was the old Monument Park transferred to the new stadium. Whatever it was, it had Peter grinning like a little kid in anticipation.

Elizabeth had already seen it, so she elected to watch batting practice instead. Peter had seen it too, but he insisted on taking Neal. He seemed to nourish a dream of infecting Neal with more than a polite interest in the game.

“Long line,” Neal commented.

Peter took a sip of his outrageously-priced soda. “Yeah.” Then he paused to cock his head at Neal. “You know you didn’t have to do this, right?”

“Do what?”

“The game, the amazing seats . . . Neal, you don’t have to shower us with elaborate gifts. I appreciate it—I do—but I’d be just as happy to sit and watch the game with you at home.”

Neal raised his eyebrows. “Just as happy? When you could be right behind home plate?”

Peter grinned, knowing he was caught. “All right. Almost as happy.”

Neal grinned back. “I like giving extravagant gifts, Peter.”

“I know. But they’re not necessary. And please tell me that you and-or Haversham didn’t con anyone out of these tickets.”

Neal opened his mouth to respond, but he was interrupted by some guy calling Peter’s name. Peter turned around as recognition lit his face. A conversation began, and Neal figured out that the guy was an old high school buddy.

“I thought it was you, Peter!” the stranger was saying. “Here, let me introduce you to my daughter. This is Sasha.”

“Hello, Miss Sasha,” Peter said, shaking the kid’s hand. She looked to be about ten or eleven and, judging by her clothes, she was already a die-hard Yankees’ fan.

Neal swallowed. This was the moment of truth. Peter wasn’t going to ignore him—but how would he introduce him ? As his friend? As his partner? As his pet convict?

“Jim, this my son Neal,” Peter said, pulling Neal forward a bit.

Neal fell back into his practiced nonchalance so that he could cover up his surprise and pleasure. Suddenly Peter’s offer seemed real; maybe it didn’t scare the man so much after all.

“Nice to meet you,” Neal said, nodding and smiling at the guy. The man looked a bit surprised that Peter had a grown son, but he treated Neal to a beefy handshake.

Neal turned to Sasha next, but someone in the crowd bumped her, causing her to drop her program and score sheet and that little pencil that came with them. The woman who had banged into her didn’t even have the grace to stop, but Neal knelt down to pick the stuff up.

“Thanks,” Sasha said, smiling at him. “Hey, what’s that on your ankle? Is that one of those Lindsey Lohan anklets? Does it keep track of how much you drink?”

Neal silently cursed the fact that the anklet had shown when he stood up again. Then he glanced at Jim. Neal could tell by his expression that he recognized the anklet for what it was. He was probably in law enforcement too; he had that look. No use pretending, then. He’d only tell his daughter in confidence later.

“Ah, not quite. That anklet means that I spent some time in prison, and now I’m out on parole.”

Sasha’s eyes widened. “Wow. What did you do?”

“I forged some stock certificates. It’s a long story.”

Peter opened his mouth to speak, but Jim interrupted him.

“Don’t worry about it, kid,” Jim said to Neal, smiling a little. “I know Peter from way back—I’ll bet he was a damn hard-ass raising you. No wonder you rebelled.”

“Hey,” Peter said, playing along.

Neal should have let the moment pass. He’d conned Peter’s neighbors into thinking he was a teenage indiscretion on Peter’s part. Why couldn’t he go along with this guy’s save and tease Peter for being such a difficult dad?

Because he felt a chivalrous need to defend Peter’s honor. He didn’t want anyone thinking that Peter had been less than a perfect father.

“Actually, the problem is that Peter didn’t raise me,” Neal said, flashing the man a half-charming, half-apologetic smile. “He’s not my biological father—he’s the agent who caught me.”

“And now he’s working with the Bureau, and we’re looking into the adult adoption process,” Peter finished. He paused, giving his friend a keep-this-to-yourself look. “But, ah, considering he’s under my custody, it might have to wait. As Neal said, it’s a long story.”

Jim nodded, and then gave Neal a long measuring look. “Sounds like it’s a story with a happy ending,” he said. “Well, we’ll let you guys go back to standing on line—but we should get together at that old Italian place for supper. You remember where it is . . .”

Neal didn’t listen to the rest. He didn’t care where they met Jim and his family for dinner. He was too ensorcelled by the idea that Peter’s offer was genuine.

Peter shook his head at Neal once Jim and Sasha walked off, but in a good way. Neal wasn’t sure, but it looked like there was admiration in his eyes as he put an arm over Neal’s shoulders. “I would have been a hard-ass father, you know.”

“Not a chance, Peter. I would have had you wrapped around my finger.”.

“Is that right?”

Neal shrugged. “Come on. How many other con artists could have charmed you into the deal you gave me?“

“Is that what happened?“

“Yeah. You took one look at these baby blues and you knew you’d do anything for me.“

Peter laughed and patted his shoulder. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“What question?”

“DId you or Haversham con someone out of these seats?”

Trust Peter not to let a suspicion go. “No,” Neal said. “Moz just called in a favor from someone.” That someone may have conned the seats, but there was no reason to burden Peter with that knowledge.

Peter gave him a look that was still half-suspicious, but apparently he decided to let the matter rest.

Neal smiled at that and gave him a mischievous glance as he leaned into him. “So this means I am family, right? I can, you know, come over for the holidays? Thanksgiving’s only a few months away.”

Peter pulled him a little closer as the line moved up. “Of course,” he answered. “Thanksgiving’s a full day of football--you’ll love it.”

Neal rolled his eyes. “What about Moz? Can I invite him?”

That elicited a long sigh from the agent. “We’ll see.”

~The End~
Tuesday, January 4th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
I am insanely in love with this series. I read each part with a stupid grin on my face. Well done! (heh: CAPTCHA says "near paramour")