Fandom: White Collar
Characters/Pairings: Peter, Neal, Satchmo, Mozzie, mentions of Kramer and Senator Pratt
Word Count: 2,564
Beta Credit: firesign10
Summary: What happens when Satchmo rescues a kitten from the rain.
A/N: Written for round five of runthecon. My prompt was “what a coincidence.”
I found this quote – “Coincidence is the word we use when we can't see the levers and pulleys” – and since I can’t seem to do things literally, this sort of took a side trip into AU-land. (plus there had to be some thriller tossed in, cause that’s how I roll)
Also - thank you to firesign10 for my title card
I tag pooh_collector with the prompt “sometimes a hug is all you need."
The rain was pounding down in torrential sheets as Peter Burke scrambled out of the coach. He’d been held up in meetings, listening to the old men of the Council drone on and on about the glory days of the Republic. Frankly, if it hadn’t been for Jones subtly poking him with a pen, he’d have fallen asleep in his chair.
The driver tried his best to keep Peter from getting drenched, but his simple black umbrella was no match for the weather. Peter was sopping wet by the time he let himself into his brownstone.
The house was warm, lamps glowing softly throughout the rooms. Satchmo raised his head from the dog bed and huffed, giving Peter a look that embodied the statement ‘can’t even come in out of the rain.’
“Don’t look at me like that,” Peter commented, putting down his briefcase and taking off his overcoat. Shaking it, he regarded his dog. “I’d have been home before the rain if Kramer hadn’t started in on how much the old guard was needed in this modern time of turmoil.”
Satchmo huffed again and turned around on his bedding, stamping it a few times before laying down with a sigh.
“Yeah, I feel that way about him, too.” Peter hung his coat up on one of the hooks and tapped the button next to it. A slight hum let him know that the heater turned on and the coat would be dry by morning.
“So, what sounds good for dinner?” Unbuttoning his cuffs, he rolled up his sleeves to the elbow, looking forward to seeing what his housekeeper Elizabeth had filled his refrigerator with today.
Satchmo woofed and followed him into the kitchen. Peter opened up the refrigerator and found several containers with labels on them. He pulled one out and had to laugh at Elizabeth’s note - ‘Beef Stew – don’t eat it out of the container again and make sure you share it with Satchmo’.
“Yes mom,” he commented and popped it in the microwave. While he was waiting for it to heat up, Peter set the table and opened a beer. The buzzer dinged and he took the container out, splitting it with Satchmo.
“Be careful – it’s hot.” Satchmo just side-eyed him and went to work on the food.
Peter was halfway through dinner when a combination of things occurred. There was a loud clap of thunder, the sky lit up like a neon sign, and the power went out.
“Crap!” Peter got up and almost tripped over Satchmo who had darted under the table, shivering in fear. “I know you don’t like the dark, boy. I’ll fix it.”
He rifled through a drawer and came up with candles and a flashlight. With a snap of his fingers, they were lit and glowing. He looked down at Satchmo. “Don’t tell the Council I did that, okay?” Satchmo grinned and crawled out from under the table.
Peter walked through the house, placing candles around to dispel the shadows. He pushed the button for the gas fireplace and smiled as the flames leapt merrily in the grate. “There you go. You can curl up here until we’ve got to go upstairs.”
Normally Satchmo would have dragged his dog bed over already, but Peter found him at the front door, whining softly.
“Satchmo, it’s storming out. No way are we going for a walk right now.” Peter tried to coax the dog away from the door. “You know you don’t like the rain.”
Satchmo didn’t move, but kept whining and scratching at the door. He butted his head against Peter’s leg several times.
“Fine,” Peter sighed. “I’ll open the door and let you look out.” Peter flipped the locks and opened the door.
He winced at the rain pelting him and Satchmo. The streetlights were out, plunging the road into darkness. Peter could see the trees whipping their branches in the glow of the passing headlights. He frowned. This was not a typical storm.
Satchmo pushed past him and dashed down the front steps. “Satchmo! No!” Peter ran after him, cursing the dog as he almost tripped on the stoop. “Come back!”
Satchmo stopped next to the neighbor’s car and was shoving his head under the running boards, like he was searching for something. Peter got to him just as he wriggled under the car, his butt and tail the only things visible.
“Damn it! Get out from under there!” Peter tried unsuccessfully to pull him out, just as another car drove past, covering them with water and mud. “Great!”
Satchmo backed out, a dark object in his mouth, and headed quickly back up the stairs.
“Oh no! You are not bringing a rat into the house again!” Peter ran after him, his shoes squelching.
Peter caught Satchmo just inside the door. “Sachmo, stay!” Grabbing a jacket from the hooks, he wrapped it around the thing Satchmo was carrying. There was no way he was going to touch it. For all he knew it could be alive and really pissed off. “Give!”
“I said, GIVE!” Peter tugged at it, but Satchmo wouldn’t let go. He tugged harder.
The jacket let out an angry squall. Whatever was in there was alive, and Peter was right – it did sound pissed.
The dog didn’t budge. The jacket squalled again, this time sounding more frustrated then angry. Peter figured it didn’t sound like a rat, so he let go of the jacket.
It slid to the ground, revealing a very soaked, very irritated kitten.
Peter started laughing. “A cat? You ran out in that downpour so you could bring in a cat?”
Satchmo – and the kitten – did not look amused. Meowing again, the kitten struggled, stopping only when Satchmo growled low.
Peter sighed. “Give it here.” He held out his hands, waiting for Satchmo to let go. “I promise I won’t hurt it.”
Satchmo looked at him, then gently placed the kitten in Peter’s hands.
“Hey there.” Peter cradled the little cat. “Let’s go get you both dried off.” And me too, he thought.
He headed to the back porch to grab one of the towels he used for wiping off Satchmo when he went digging in the garden. Gently he dried the kitten, chuckling at its annoyed noises. “Relax. This will be over soon.”
The cat hissed at him, wriggling out of his grasp and leaping to the floor. Peter laughed again. “I guess ‘soon’ means ‘now’.” He swore the cat gave him an irritated glare as it began grooming itself.
“Ok, Satchmo, your turn.” He quickly dried Satchmo and hurried downstairs to the laundry room to change his clothes. A faded t-shirt and sweats warmed him up and he hung up his clothes so they wouldn’t get musty.
While he was changing, he wondered what to do with their new roommate. He’d never had a cat before. Peter considered himself more of a dog person, but he wasn’t going to toss the feline back out in the rain. However, he didn’t have any supplies at all, and that was going to be a problem.
Peter headed up the stairs, mulling over what he needed to do.
He burst into laughter at the sight of Satchmo and the kitten in the living room. Satchmo had pulled his dog bed in front of the fire and was currently curled up, holding the kitten down with one paw, licking it.
The kitten was not happy with the arrangement, and Peter watched in amusement as it tried to escape, only to be held down with paw and tongue.
“Hey, buddy. How about you let me see our houseguest so I can make sure it’s okay?” And figure out if it’s a boy or a girl.
Satchmo paused and looked at Peter like he wasn’t quite sure he wanted him to touch the cat, but then took his paw off. The kitten scrambled up and shook itself. It walked daintily towards Peter as if it knew he wanted to see it and leaped into his lap.
Peter steadied it. “Hey there.” He petted it, feeling the rumbling purr under his hand. “You are definitely gorgeous.”
The cat’s purr got louder and it blinked its eyes in obvious enjoyment.
He had to admit – it was a beautiful cat.
Now that it was dry, he could see the real color of its fur, even in the dim light of the candles and fire. The deep brown had highlights of gold that were enhanced by the flames. Peter’s mother had had a fur coat that looked like that – she’d called it sable. It was a perfect description.
But it was the kitten’s eyes that mesmerized Peter. He’d seen cats with blue eyes before – Siamese, Himalayans – but none of them had a hue like this cat. The rich blue rivaled any sapphire, but it was the level of intelligence that took Peter’s breath away. It was almost as though the cat understood what Peter was saying.
“Okay, let me take a look to see if you’re a boy or a girl.”
In a flash, the kitten narrowed its eyes and leapt from Peter’s lap to the coffee table. Sprawling out, it lifted its leg and proceeded to wash what was definitely a well-endowed set of balls.
“So…boy,” Peter said. “And obviously proud of it,” he murmured.
The cat stopped his bath and stared at Peter a moment, as if to say ‘And your point is?’ before returning to grooming himself.
“I’m going to need a name for you. Can’t call you ‘cat’.”
The cat finished his ablutions and hopped back onto Peter’s lap. He looked up at Peter and gave a meow.
One that sounded awfully like the name ‘Neal’.
“Neal?” Peter couldn’t believe he was asking the cat, but it seemed to be the right thing to do. He was rewarded with a lick on the hand. “So I guess Neal it is.” He looked down at Neal. “So…you hungry?”
Neal chirruped and jumped down, leading the way to the kitchen, his tail waving perkily in the air.
Peter looked down at Satchmo. “Guess he’s hungry.”
Searching for something that Neal would eat proved to be an adventure in itself. Peter tried all the regular items – tuna, milk – but Neal turned his nose up at them. Literally. Peter had never seen such an expression on a cat’s face before. Exasperated, he grabbed a container of sushi that Elizabeth had made up for his lunch the next day.
“Ok, Neal, it’s either this or you go hungry.” He put the container down on the ground. Neal looked at it, and then looked at Peter. “What?”
With what Peter would swear was a sigh, Neal leaped onto a kitchen chair and put his front paws on the table. Looking at Peter again, he turned his head toward the sushi and then back to the table.
“You want me to put the food on the table?”
Neal’s meow sounded just like the ‘Yas’ cat that Diana had showed him on YouTube the other day.
“Unbelievable.” Peter put the container on the table and watched in amazement as Neal delicately nibbled at the fish.
Satchmo woofed and nudged his bowl towards Peter. “Okay, fine.” Peter spooned the rest of the stew into his bowl and proceeded to make himself a sandwich.
Sitting down at the table, he looked at his makeshift family. “So, Satchmo, should we keep him?”
Satchmo replied with another woof and went back to finishing the stew. Smiling, Peter bit into his sandwich.
The rain had lessened to a steady patter. The power still hadn’t been restored, but the house was comfortable thanks to the fireplaces.
Not that it mattered to Neal. His fur was plenty warm.
He raised his head from where he’d been curled up on Peter’s bed and gazed at the man who was tucked under the covers. Peter was asleep, his breathing soft and even. Neal was amazed at how gentle he’d been when Satchmo had brought him into the house. It didn’t help that Peter was gorgeous – better looking in person than on any Media outlet. Neal could look at him for days.
Sighing, he rose from the foot of the bed and stretched, first his front paws, then the back ones. Leaping easily to the ground, he padded down the hall and down the steps.
Neal crossed the living room, his limbs elongating and his fur receding into his skin. Satchmo raised his head as Neal passed, letting out a soft whine.
“Everything’s, fine, Satch. Just need to call Mozzie.” Neal stopped and rubbed Satchmo’s head, the low fire turning his skin golden.
He headed into the kitchen where Peter kept the cordless phone. Thanking the powers that be that Peter was old fashioned in that regard, he quickly dialed Mozzie’s number.
There were several clicks and squeals before a tinny voice answered. “Winter’s Pet Emporium. Please leave a message at the beep.”
“Moz, it’s me.” Neal whispered after the tone. “Pick up!”
“Neal! Where are you? Are you okay?” Mozzie was frantic.
“I’m fine.” Neal took a deep breath. “I’m at Peter Burke’s.”
“What?! Are you crazy?”
“I really didn’t have a choice. Satchmo found me half-drowned in the street outside Burke’s house. You know what a mother hen he is.”
“And thank the gods for that. What were you doing in Brooklyn?”
“Pratt’s men were after me.”
“Oh, Neal. How close?”
“Too close.” Neal leaned against the counter. "I had no other options except to head towards Peter’s.”
“Did they see you shift?” Neal could hear papers rustling on Mozzie's end.
“I don’t think so. The storm helped – it slowed them down.”
“So what are you gonna do?” Mozzie asked, after the silence grew. “The Council is going to be sending Peter Burke after you tomorrow.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“You could always stay there at Burke’s.” Mozzie’s voice changed and Neal recognized his planning tone. “It actually would work. As long as you stay feline, they won’t be able to track you. I’ll pass information to Satchmo if there’s anything you need.”
Neal was about to reply when he heard footsteps in the hall. “Gotta go! Peter’s awake.”
He hung up and shifted back to feline just as Peter entered the kitchen. Looking up at him, Neal uttered an innocent meow.
“There you are. Was wondering where you’d gotten to.” Peter picked him up and petted him. “Just don’t be climbing the drapes, okay?”
Neal snorted and scrambled up to perch on Peter’s shoulder. He balanced himself as Peter filled a glass with water. Neal batted at it until Peter tilted it towards him. “Thirsty?”
Neal took a drink and then nudged it away with his head.
“Okay. Back to bed.” Peter switched Neal to his arm and started scratching him under the chin as he headed back upstairs. Despite himself, Neal started to relax as he stretched his chin so Peter could reach the good parts.
Peter put him on the bed and crawled in under the comforter. He clucked at Neal and patted his chest. “C’mere.”
Neal crawled up and curled himself under Peter’s chin. Tomorrow was going to be a whole new ball game, but for tonight, he was dry, warm and oddly enough - safe.
He closed his eyes and fell asleep to the sound of the rain.