Fandom: White Collar
Characters/Pairings: Peter, Elizabeth
Word Count: 1,136
Beta Credit: elrhiarhodan, miri_thompson
Warnings: schmoop, Peter acting adorable
Summary: Peter’s first date with Elizabeth doesn’t turn out like he expects.
Author’s Notes – Written for aragarna for the 8th day of my 12 Days of Christmas Meme. She requested “What Made You Laugh” – “Peter, Elizabeth
This was the worst first date in the history of first dates.
Peter stood in the men’s room scrubbing at the red wine stain on his cuff. “Great job, Burke. Way to make a good first impression.” He kept scrubbing, but the stain wasn’t getting any lighter. He would probably have to throw this shirt away, or rip it up for cleaning rags.
He sighed and looked into the mirror. He had wanted this evening to be perfect. Instead it was a disaster of epic proportions. Oh, it had started out with potential. It just disintegrated into a flaming ball of failure.
He thought back on the whole fiasco. Elizabeth Mitchell had agreed to go out with him after she’d caught him ‘surveilling’ her following fraud case from her gallery. Johnson and Meriweather had given him shit for a week when she appeared in the window with a sign that read ‘I ♥ Italian.’ He remembered turning bright red, then exiting the van and going over to ask her out for dinner.
They’d agreed on "La Cucina de Tua Nonna" and he had arranged to pick her up. When he got into his car, he’d discovered that the heat wasn’t working, which wouldn’t have been an issue if the weather service hadn’t predicted that it was going to be the coldest night on record.
The car was just above freezing when he’d arrived at Elizabeth’s. Coming to the entrance, he’d raised his fist to knock when the door was flung open and he was faced with a short, bespectacled female. She looked him up and down with a sneer, turned her head and shouted, “El, your representative of the oppressive governmental machine is here!”
Not quite knowing how to respond to that comment, Peter just nodded. Thankfully Elizabeth was ready and they’d headed out, Peter apologizing profusely about the lack of heat in the car. She’d just smiled and said everything was fine.
The dinner was delicious. Peter had managed to order without mangling the names too much – he had the Paccheri Alla Genovese; Elizabeth, the Chicken Parmigiano. It was going well – Elizabeth was smiling and laughing and they were sharing information about their childhoods. Well, that is, until he was in the middle of a story, gesturing with his fork, and spilled tomato sauce on his tie. Embarrassed, he’d grabbed his napkin to clean it up, only to knock over the glass of Cabernet they’d ordered and spill it on his shirt and her dress.
Which brought him right back to where he was – in the men’s room trying to clean the stain and figure out how he was going to salvage the rest of the evening.
“Face it, Burke,” he told himself. “This is a disaster and she’ll never want to see you again after tonight.” Giving up on cleaning the shirt, Peter headed back to the table. Elizabeth was there, a big smile on her face. The wait staff had replaced the tablecloth with a fresh one and refilled their glasses.
“Did it wash out?” she asked.
“Nope, I think the shirt’s ruined.” Peter shrugged. “I’ll just use it for a rag, I guess. I’m really sorry about your dress.”
“Peroxide and soap. Works like a charm. You should try that on your shirt when you get home.” She smiled at Peter and he was smitten.
“Okay, I’ll – I’ll try that,” he stammered, blushing as she giggled and put her hand on his arm. “Um, so, would you like some dessert?”
“No, I’m actually pretty full. The portions here are huge.” He watched as she signaled the server and asked for a to-go box. A perfect indicator that their date was over.
“Okay, I’ll just go ahead and pay the bill, then.” He handed his credit card to the server and turned back to Elizabeth. “I really had a nice time tonight and I hope -.”
He was interrupted by the server. “Excuse me Mr. Burke, but your card was declined.”
“Declined? That’s impossible. I just got a new one this week…” He trailed off. “And I forgot to switch it out.” Peter flushed. “Can you go get the manager so we can work this out?”
“Don’t worry about it, Peter. I’ll take care of the bill.” Before he could stop her, Elizabeth had given the server her card.
“Elizabeth, I can’t let you pay for dinner. I asked you out,” he began, but she shushed him.
“It’s fine, Peter. These things happen.” She signed the slip and stood up. Peter helped her on with her coat, at a loss for what to say. They walked out of the restaurant and to the car, small talk making their breath steam in the frigid air.
Peter’s car was no better. He glanced at Elizabeth and saw her blow on her hands, trying to warm them up. Figuring that the date couldn’t take a turn for the worse, he reached out and took one of her hands to warm it in his. She smiled at him, glanced forward and shouted, “Peter, look out!”
He whipped his head around and saw a cat in the middle of the road. Slamming on the brakes, he narrowly missed hitting it as it ran off. Taking a deep breath, he looked at Elizabeth. “I probably should concentrate on driving.”
They drove the rest of the way to Elizabeth’s apartment in silence. Peter walked her to her door, figuring that even though the date was a disaster, he still was going to be a gentleman.
“Elizabeth, I’m really sorry that this evening went sideways, and I understand if you don’t want to see me again -.”
Suddenly his arms were full of Elizabeth Mitchell. She pulled his head down and slanted her lips against his and Peter’s brain shut down. All he could register was that Elizabeth was kissing him.
She pulled away with a shaky laugh. “Wow. That was…”
“Yeah…” Peter was still reeling. “So I guess this means you want to see me again?” He knew the question was stupid, but he had to be sure.
“Oh, Peter, I definitely want to see you again.” Elizabeth giggled.
“Can I ask – why?” he rushed to explain. “Because this date was a major disaster. I wouldn’t want to see me again after this date.” He chuckled sheepishly.
“Because you didn’t pretend.” Elizabeth took his hand and entwined their fingers. “I get asked out by men who think it’s all about how you look and how you act. You were – you.” She smiled at Peter. “Plus you made me laugh.” She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. “Goodnight, Peter. Call me tomorrow, okay?”
With that, she slipped into her apartment, leaving Peter standing in the hallway, a big smile on his face, as he thought about what she'd said.
You made me laugh.