Title: Like It's 1999
Fandom: White Collar.
Pairing: Mostly Gen. Could be seen as Peter/Neal.
Summary/Notes: For kishmet. Who is about the only person to convince me to post fanfiction. It's been a year. A whole damn year. And then a bit more. Useless piece of sap, but hey. It's fluff Friday?
Peter remembers the first.
It had been three long months into the ‘Caffrey’ case, and who knew how many headaches – Peter sure as hell hadn’t been counting. The lights had been dim in the office, as he’d poured over multitudes of paperwork, nursing a coffee that had long since turned cold.
There’d been a rap at the door, hesitant. Peter had been in a foul mood since Neal had managed to give them the slip, just outside of Wrigley Stadium. Cooper – an agent that had long since moved on from their department – had pushed an envelope across the desk. “Left at reception for you,” he’d said. “Sir.”
There hadn’t been a card inside. At least, not a birthday one. Rather a picturesque painting of a vineyard – Italy, Peter had always assumed – on a postcard.
‘Like a fine wine, you get better as you age.’
The calligraphy was perfect. Neat and precise. Peter should have torn it up. Left the pieces in the bottom of the trashcan by his desk. But he hadn’t. He’d slipped it back inside the envelope and kept it. Kept it through the long, long years of chasing Neal across the world.
Along with all the trinkets he’d been given from every godforsaken country Neal had deemed to saunter through – yes, even that tacky ashtray from Bulgaria, around the time when Peter had started smoking cigarettes like they were precious air.
The thing is, Neal had gotten a head start on him. Years of cards and gifts had accumulated and what? What had Peter ever done in return? Sure, most of the time he’d wanted to strangle Neal to within an inch of his life. But now?
He looks across the office to where Neal is stood, chatting with Cruz about god knows what. He notices Peter looking and smiles, tipping his hat.
Peter has a lot of catching up to do.
The thing is, Peter has never been all that good at the gift giving thing. He lets it slip one night over dinner, and El is gracious enough to not laugh in his face. She offers some warm advice.
And calls her caterer.
It’s about a week until Neal’s birthday – Peter knows. Even if Neal has lied and forged almost every personal record the F.B.I has on him. He knows it, like he knows Neal wasn’t born in a Walgreens, just outside of Pasadena.
And what had started out as a well-intentioned attempt at ‘getting back’ at Neal, has turned into the biggest thing at the office since Jones and Cruz were caught in the Janitor’s closet on New Year’s Eve.
Neal, of course, is still in the dark about the whole thing - as far as they’re aware. It’s hard to be sure when it comes to Neal. He’s crafty.
The cake looks really good though.
Peter isn’t sure how they manage to pull it off. He pretty much convinced himself that Neal had seen the paper hats – though Jones had pulled a quick spin about a niece. Everyone knows Jones doesn’t have a niece, but maybe Neal had bought it.
When he ushers Neal through the door, and everyone jumps out of their hiding places, it genuinely looks like a surprise. Maybe he’s done well after all – even if he’d been relegated to keeping Neal busy, while El and the others had orchestrated the whole shebang.
Maybe he’s not so good at parties either. Or secrets.
It’s around two am when Jones and Cruz leave, stumbling out the door and into their taxi, a spirited round of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ echoing in their wake.
“So,” El says, clearing up the wine glasses from the table, dregs of that expensive vintage red lingering in the bottom of them. “Should we call it a success?”
She looks across to the pair of them, settled comfortably on the sofa - the end credits of a film she can’t even remember they’d put on rolling across the screen. Neal’s cheeks are rosy from the wine, and he looks so happy and content.
Peter nudges Neal. “I know you’re not asleep,” he says. “So stop drooling on my shoulder.”
“Don’t spoil my fun,” Neal grouches, but he’s smiling.
Yeah. It was a success.
Current Mood: accomplished