Fandom: White Collar
Characters/Pairings: Peter, Elizabeth, Mozzie, Neal
Word Count: 1131
Beta Credit: elrhiarhodan
Summary: There's something not quite right about the Burkes....
A/N - Written for Remix Redux 11: The Eleventh Hour – Remixing Speculation by Teaotter.
“I think Mozzie suspects something.” Elizabeth finished chopping the carrots and added them to the salsa she was making.
“Why do you say that?” Peter rooted around in the refrigerator for a beer. Finding one, he leaned against the counter and twisted the top off. Taking a drink, he waited for her answer.
“The day he came over to sweep for bugs? He was paying unusual attention to the bathroom.” She moved about the kitchen, setting the table and decanting the Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce.
“That doesn’t mean anything. Mozzie pays attention to the weirdest things.” Peter took the salmon that was waiting on the planking board and headed out to the grill.
“I know, but when I came back upstairs he was mumbling something about ‘deciduous scales.’” Elizabeth followed with the plate of vegetable kabobs. “I think he found something because when I spoke to him, he jumped and hid a plastic bag under his shirt.”
“Could be anything, maybe he found evidence of an alien presence in the tub drain.” He winked at her.
“Peter Burke, are you implying that I don’t clean the drain well enough?” Her mock outrage made him laugh. Leaning over, he kissed her forehead.
“I never would infer that you are not a good housekeeper, Ms. Burke.”
“Good, because I would have to refer to your office on the third floor in my defense.” Their teasing was cut short by a knock at the door. ‘Oh, that must be Neal and Mozzie.”
She took a few steps towards the door and paused. “And Peter? No teasing. I would like a relaxing meal this evening.”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
He couldn’t help it, really. Peter was in a mood and Mozzie was such a perfect foil. He knew Elizabeth would make him pay for it later, but right now he was thoroughly enjoying himself at the little man’s expense.
“Peter, the fish is fantastic.” Neal had been praising the salmon all evening. “I thought your grill was sacrosanct – only beef allowed.”
“Usually, but I had a desire for fish tonight.” Peter looked straight at Mozzie. “The seasonings are my grandmother’s secret recipe from the old country.”
“Old Country?” Neal’s face was interested.
“Yeah, a little town off the coast of Norway. My ancestors were seafarers. My grandmother knew everything there was to know about fish.”
He saw Neal wince and knew Mozzie had kicked him under the table. There was a sharp pain on his ankle and he saw Elizabeth’s glare as she did the same.
“So Neal, how’s June?” That was Elizabeth’s way of changing the subject.
“She’s fine. Working on another one of her charity events.”
The conversation meandered about a bit until Peter thought Mozzie looked settled again.
“Oh hey, El, I was cleaning up in the basement and found some of your old swimming trophies in a box. What do you want to do with them?” He plastered an innocent look on his face – dangling the bait.
“Swimming trophies?” Mozzie grabbed his wine and took a gulp.
And the fish was on the hook.
“Oh yeah. Didn’t you know? Elizabeth was State Champion for her swim team in high school?” Peter leaned back and put his arm on the back of Elizabeth’s chair. “Relay, freestyle, butterfly – she did it all.”
“It’s one of the things we have common.” Peter continued. “I was on the swim team at Harvard. Won my share of trophies as well.”
“Oh…of course you did.” Mozzie’s voice was strained.
“Yeah. El and I love the water.” Peter paused. “Anything that deals with the sea, actually. Except that movie with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hanna. Can’t ever remember the name of it.”
“‘Splash’.” Elizabeth’s tone was dry.
“That’s it! Hate that movie. It’s so unrealistic.” Peter took a drink of his beer. “It’s right up there with ‘The Little Mermaid’ by Hans Christian Anderson.”
“You hate ‘The Little Mermaid’? Why?” Neal was amused. Mozzie was pale.
“Because everyone knows perfectly well that Anderson’s concept that mermaids don’t have souls is completely wrong.” Peter waved his fork in emphasis. “And the only way for them to get one is to kill the one they love. That is totally incorrect. Mermaids - .”
Mozzie pushed his chair back.
“Um, thank you for dinner but I really need to leave. Let’s go, Neal.” Mozzie was out the door in a flash.
“Okaaay…I have no idea what prompted that.” Neal looked confused. “But I guess that means the evening is over. Thanks for dinner, both of you. It was delicious.” He followed Mozzie out into the night.
The minute the door closed, Elizabeth whirled on him. “Peter Aloysius Burke you are an evil, evil man! ‘Mermaids don’t have souls’?”
“What?!” Peter tried to look like he didn’t know what she was talking about but he couldn’t help bursting out laughing. “Okay, Okay. I’m sorry. I just couldn’t help myself.”
“Poor Mozzie.” She began to chuckle. “It does play right in to his conspiracy theories, doesn’t it.”
“Yeah, it does.” He laughed quietly. “What say we clean up and then go for a drive? It’s a nice night to be out.”
“Sounds good.” Elizabeth began clearing the table.
About an hour later, they wound up at a public boat dock at Oyster Bay. Peter and Elizabeth sat on the hood of the car, enjoying the summer night. The smell of the water, the sound of the seagulls and the warmth of the breeze had made the ride a pleasant one, but Peter was happy to just sit and relax.
“So…should we tell Neal?” Elizabeth leaned back against Peter’s chest.
Peter considered it. “Maybe some day. After the anklet. But not right now.” He wrapped his arms around her. Leaning, he whispered in her ear, “Hey Mrs. Burke, wanna go for a swim?”
“I thought you’d never ask!” Slipping out of his arms, she ran towards the water, pulling her clothes off as she did. Grinning he followed her, his form disappearing into the waves.
Later that night, Mozzie turned on the news while he waited for Neal to finish up the copy of the Botticelli they needed for the sting they were running on Antonio Donati.
“In other news, reports have come in from several areas around the Long Island Sound this evening of what appear to be mermaids.”
Mozzie choked on his wine.
“Residents around the Sound have claimed to see two figures with what looked like tails swimming in the water. All efforts to photograph or capture the individuals have been met with failure. We’ll keep you posted.”