Fandom: White Collar
Characters/Pairings: Peter, Elizabeth, Neal
Word Count: 1,666
Beta Credit: elrhiarhodan
Summary:Elizabeth sends Neal to cover for her on her first date with Peter.
Author’s Notes – Written for kaylashay for the 9th day of my 12 Days of Christmas Meme. She requested “I was meant to be someone else – P/E/N”. This is probably going to be the start of a longer story.
“Channing Museum, this is Neal. How may I help you?” Neal Caffrey browsed through the shipping manifests for their upcoming exhibit of Degas’ New Orleans paintings.
“Neal, I need you!” He chuckled, hearing the frantic tones of his best friend, Elizabeth Mitchell. “I have a situation.”
“What’s it this time, El? Did your caterer cancel again?” Elizabeth worked at the Powell, another New York City museum, but they were always sharing contacts and information.
“No, I have a date tonight and I’m going to be late. I need for you to go for me.”
Neal laughed. “You are kidding me. You want me to go out on one of your dates? Can’t you just reschedule?”
“No. Between his schedule and my schedule, this was the only day that would work for us.” Elizabeth sounded unhappy. “Please, Neal. You just need to go and keep him company until I can get there. I swear I’ll make it up to you.”
“Uh, huh.” Neal switched the receiver to his other ear and turned toward his windows so no one in the office could see his face. Lowering his voice he said, “You know it’s going to cost you.”
Elizabeth chuckled, a deep throaty sound. “Of course. How about dinner at my place, then if you’re lucky I’ll do that thing with my tongue that you like so much.”
Neal palmed himself and groaned. “Fuck, Elizabeth. Working here.” He thought about end of year figures and seating arrangements to will his erection down. It really was amazing how much of an effect she had on him.
“So will you do it? Please?” Elizabeth had that coaxing tone in her voice that he could never deny.
‘Yes, Elizabeth. I will go out on your date for you.” He smiled at her delighted laugh. “But I want tiramisu for dessert.”
Not a problem. You’re the best! I’ll text you location and time.” His phone beeped with the information.
“Great. What’s his name?” Neal grabbed a pen and paper. “And let him know I’m coming.”
“Peter Burke. He’s an FBI agent. And I will.” Neal heard some background voices. “I’ve got to go. Thank you so much!”
Neal hung up and shook his head. He adored Elizabeth. They'd been best friends for years - friends with benefits, too. But it was more than that - they could rely on each other without question. There was nothing that Neal wouldn't do for Elizabeth and nothing Elizabeth wouldn't do for him.
Which is why he was going rescue Elizabeth’s date. Sighing, Neal mentally flipped through his wardrobe, thinking about what he would wear.
Peter was frantic. The Morganstern art theft case was stalled and the brass was breathing down his neck because the man in question was a friend of the mayors.
He checked his watch – 5:30. He was supposed to meet Elizabeth Mitchell at seven at Donatella’s but wasn’t sure he could make it in time. He should just call her and cancel. Which was a shame because he’d really liked what he’d seen when they’d bumped into each other at the local watering hole.
Brunette, long legs, blue eyes – just his type.
“Go home, Boss.” Diana Berrigan looked at him with a smile. “We can handle this. Go get ready for your date.”
“I probably should stay…” he began, but was cut off by Clinton Jones.
“Peter. Nothing is going to change if you go out on your date.” Jones picked up some files and put them in a file box. “Trust me. We can pick this up tomorrow.”
Peter sighed. “You’re right.”
“And it’s about time you went out and had some fun.” Diana grinned as she poked him in the arm. “You need to relax more. Makes it better for all of us.”
“Are you saying I’m cranky?” Peter protested with a smile on his face.
The other agents laughed as they walked out of the conference room. “If the shoe fits, Boss….”
Neal straightened the cuffs of his Thomas Pink shirt and brushed the lapels of the Armani suit Elizabeth had insisted he buy. He had no idea why he was nervous. This really wasn’t his date. Truthfully, he hadn’t been on a date with anyone, male or female, in a long while. He just hadn’t found anyone who interested him. But tonight, for some reason, he felt twitchy, a strange energy running through his body. Mozzie would say that he was on the cusp of change.
He entered the restaurant. The maître-d’s stand was unoccupied so he looked around, trying to see if he could determine which one of the patrons was Peter Burke.
Neal dismissed the couples, the single females and any male over 60. That left four possibilities.
One of the options was a man about thirty-five, a frown on his face, texting on his phone. Neal ruled him out immediately, knowing Elizabeth’s opinion about texting at the table.
Number Two was a blonde, Nordic, body builder, that from Neal’s perspective looked to be about 5’6”. He crossed him off the list – Elizabeth had a penchant for size, and not just in a man’s equipment. Neal skated right under the height limit, but according to Elizabeth, everything else completely made up for him being under six foot tall.
Man Number Three was bald. Enough said.
Number Four – Neal’s eyes widened. Number Four was perfect.
Number Four was sitting in a corner booth, a glass of red wine in front of him. Dark, brown hair, deep chocolate eyes, wide shoulders. Long legs peeking out from under the table indicated that he was tall. A classic Brooks Brothers suit and tie. He was perfect for Elizabeth.
He was perfect for Neal.
This was not good. Neal was half tempted to leave the restaurant and explain to Elizabeth that he had been held up, when Number Four glanced at him and then did a double take. He looked Neal up and down like he was a delicacy that he wanted to sample, flushed and pulled his eyes away.
Interesting. If this was Peter Burke then Neal was pretty certain that he played both sides of the fence. The maître-d returned and asked if he had a reservation.
“Reservation for Burke.” Neal prayed that Number Four was not Elizabeth’s date, but his hopes were dashed when the maître-d brought him over to the gorgeous man’s table.
“Excuse me, are you Peter Burke?” Neal smiled the smile he used to win over patrons.
Number Four looked up at him in bewilderment. “Yes. May I help you?” Neal almost melted at the rough timbre of the man’s – Peter’s - voice. He could imagine it whispering all sorts of decadent enticements in his ear. Calm down, Neal. This is Elizabeth’s date, not yours.
Squaring his shoulders, he locked down his thoughts and prepared himself to play the part of the good friend.
Peter was early. He’d told Elizabeth that he wasn’t sure when he would get out of the office and that it would be better for them to meet up at the restaurant. He’d actually had time to go home and change into a clean suit and shirt.
He was looking forward to seeing Elizabeth again. When they’d run into each other – literally – in Davis’s Place, he’d been completely charmed by her sense of humor and intelligence. Her blue eyes, dark hair and curvy body hadn’t hurt either.
He’d ordered a glass of Malbec while he waited and perused the other patrons. Several couples looked like they were celebrating anniversaries. He envied them, hoping one day to be sitting across from a significant other sharing a milestone.
A few of the single women kept eyeing him and smiling. He smiled back politely.
Several tables had single men at them. Covertly, Peter looked, but none really spoke to him. He wouldn’t have approached them in such a public place anyway, even if he wasn’t waiting on Elizabeth. That part of his life was secret, boxed tight so no one would have any inkling that Peter Burke liked men and women.
When he couldn’t hold back the need, there were places where he could pick up a willing body, get his dick sucked, maybe fuck someone, then go home and pretend like it never happened.
Peter picked up his wine and took a sip. Elizabeth would be here soon and that would keep him from straying into darker territory.
He felt a breeze and looked up to see the most beautiful man he had ever seen waiting at the maître-d’s stand. Slender build, thick brown hair, eyes as blue as the ocean after a storm. Peter couldn’t help himself – he let his eyes roam over the man’s body, taking in the Armani suit, the tailored shirt, wondering what it would be like to peal the clothes off him and reveal what was underneath. Flushing, he looked away and toyed with his wine glass. God, he hoped Elizabeth would show up soon.
“Excuse me, are you Peter Burke?”
Peter looked up to see the beautiful man standing at his table. Confused, he answered, “Yes. May I help you?”
“Elizabeth didn’t text you, did she?” The man was smiling. Peter could get lost in that smile. Mentally shaking his head, he realized that this man knew Elizabeth.
“No, was she supposed to?”
“Yeah, but I’m not surprised.” He chuckled. “She was in the middle of a crisis at the museum and asked me to come over and keep you company until she got here.”
The rational part of Peter’s brain shouted No while the hedonistic portion was cackling in glee to have this man’s attention, at least for a little while.
The man held his hand out for Peter to shake. “And I’m being remiss. I’m Neal Caffrey.”
Peter shook Neal’s hand, feeling the strength in his grip, and wondered what it would feel like wrapped around his cock. Looking into those blue eyes, Peter realized something.
He was so screwed.