|The Disadvantage of Beauty
Author: True Love Lives Forever PM
Neal has taken on numerous assignments that have put his life in danger. But when Peter tells him about his latest undercover mission, Neal fights it as if his life depends on it. What can possibly be so horrifying about this assignment?Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor/Parody - Neal C. & Peter B. - Words: 2,120 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 12 - Published: 08-13-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7281923
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Disadvantage of Beauty
By: True Love Lives Forever
Summary: Neal has taken on numerous assignments that have put his life in danger. But when Peter tells him about his latest undercover mission, Neal fights it as if his life depends on it. What can possibly be so horrifying about this assignment? (Just some joking around at Neal's expense.)
Setting: Nowhere in particular, but I was thinking about season 2 where Neal and Peter had a stronger, more easy going relationship, whereas currently in season 3 their bromance is tainted by mistrust, in my opinion.
Disclaimer: Don't own anything.
Author's Note: This is my first White Collar fanfic. I would really appreciate some feedback. I was shooting for a weird sense of humor here. But now that I've written this one-shot, I think I failed and the characters are rather OOC, so consider this as a warning of sorts.
"Blake, try to find anything you can on all the employees there." Agent Peter Burke's voice resounded in the conference room of the White Collar Unit as they started working on yet another case and he gave one of the last orders for this meeting, not counting the main undercover operation of it, of course, but just the research part of it which was just as important in any case they handled.
"Already started, Sir," came the easy reply from the probie agent, eager to please and work with an agent of Peter's caliber.
"Does anyone have any questions so far?"
The shaking of heads came as the easy response, which was enough to satisfy the senior agent.
"Good. Meanwhile, we've got an undercover operation to oversee. Hughes is right now confirming a spot to place one of our own men on the inside so that we can have eyes and ears. Nobody there will know about the FBI affiliation, except for the manager, of course. Apparently, these 'accidents' that keep occurring are not very good for the business, and nor is having money 'disappear into thin air,' as Mr. Phillips phrased it. Therefore, he said he'll do whatever he can to help us, but at the moment he has no clues who can be behind this. Someone in that building has to know what is happening and it's our job to find some paper trail as well as to whom it leads us." Peter turned his attention to look at Jones and Diana, "Looks like we'll be once again stuck in the lovely van, making sure things go smoothly inside. Hopefully we'll be able to gather valuable intel before the press gets wind of this and we'll get thrown into the middle of a media circus."
A chuckle interrupted Peter, forcing his eyes on a certain man a few feet from him, who was slowly moving his hand around in the air as he continued playing with and twirling the infamous fedora that was really starting – or rather further continuing – to get on Peter's nerves. Seriously, was Neal even listening to a word he said?
"And who's the unlucky fellow to get this undercover assignment?"
As Peter heard Neal's question, he realized that conman must have heard at least something. But then he did have the uncanny ability to jump in into any conversation and at any point in it, making it appear that he fit right in. That was the best and sometimes most annoying part that made Caffrey so good at what he did – charm and con others.
Well, this was as good an opening as any to break the news to his partner.
A pointed stare with a sinister smile in Neal's direction seemed to do the trick.
Neal's lips melted from his usual charming smile, which only seconds ago held a hint of sympathy towards the "fellow," and went straight into a frown as his hand froze in mid-twirl and caused his beloved hat to fall onto the carpet. It didn't stay there long as the conman swiftly picked it up and placed it onto the table before his eyes, for the first time appearing serious in a long time, returned to meet the amused gaze of his handler.
A few snickers could easily be heard in the conference room. One look at Diana and Jones from the periphery of his eyes showed Peter that they were not even remotely trying to hide their amusement either, just like himself, but unlike some of the other probies and interns who did try, only without much success. Apparently everyone knew who was going undercover as the agents observed "Burke and Caffrey," "cop and robber," "con and his handler" or whatever phrase they might have used about them behind their backs at the water cooler.
The silence didn't last for very long, as a firm, no-nonsense reply from the person holding most of the attention in the room obviously gathered his wits and his tongue – to a degree, "No."
"No way. I won't do it." It was kind of fun watching Neal squirm in his seat. It really didn't happen often enough, so Peter was going to enjoy this moment while it lasted, even if he did know they sometimes appeared childish when they had moments like these.
"Of course you will take this assignment. You'll fit right in. It's right up your alley. All that sense of fashion and style, putting on that charm of yours that makes everyone fall at your feet, not to mention…"
"You know me better than to expect me to do this." Was that a hint of exasperation in the young man?
Jones chose that moment to add his five cents in. "Oh, come on, Neal. You're the one that keeps pointing out that all of us don't have much of a fashion sense in the office."
"That's not true. I never said 'everyone.' I just said 'Peter' wouldn't see fashion even if it smacked him in the face." Pointing in the vicinity of his partner standing next to him and the table, Neal had to prove his point as his eyes eventually returned to the subject at hand, "Just look at that tie. I mean, is it actually supposed to be a tie or was there just an explosion of paints that occurred nearby and colored that 'thing' in blotches of every color imaginable on this planet?"
"There's nothing wrong with my tie." Peter's defensive response was retorted by one in return along with an arched eyebrow, "Really? Where would you like me to start because I can go on forever?"
"Enough about my tie. Besides, there's always prison that awaits your arrival." Peter was definitely smirking now, but Neal held his own with an expression that was a cross between laughter and a scowl. "Really, Peter? Two years down the road and you're still playing the prison card?"
Momentarily trying to forget the attack on his wardrobe and the attention of the agents still sitting in the room, all of whom surely got used to the oral sparring between the two, Peter tried to redirect the conversation to the assignment – sort of. "If that is what it takes to get this assignment done, sure, I'll bring the prison card in a heartbeat."
"Fine." Slowly rising out of his seat and moving the few feet that separated them, Neal now stood right next to Peter and then extended both his arms towards the agent, supposedly waiting for the cuffs to encircle his hands. "Then at least arrest me now so that they can start processing me into the prison before they distributed dinner, if you can call it that." Turning his head, Neal once again addressed Jones, "And for the record, having a sense of fashion and style has nothing to do with this assignment. Sitting in prison in those orange jumpsuits beats this assignment in not only a style sense but also in self-respect."
Peter obviously did not expect such a gesture from Neal, if his facial features were anything to go by. The young man obviously called his bluff – and everyone in the room also knew Peter wasn't going to arrest Neal for nothing and the conman could technically turn down a few assignments here and there without repercussions such as their deal being shattered. While Neal was obviously playing with him, and vice versa, this time there seemed to be an air of determination to the conman's decision on this assignment.
With his brain being occupied trying to read his charge, the agent apparently didn't notice Hughes who managed to sneak up behind him through the semi-open door of the conference room. "Did I hear something about arresting Caffrey again?" When nobody seemed to answer right away, not knowing if jokes like this occur around the Special Agent in Charge because of how he might potentially react – Hughes continued with the purpose of his visit.
"Anyway, I just confirmed the details with Mr. Phillips. He'll hold a position for a male model until we can get Caffrey in place." He looked over to the conman and continued, "You'll still have to go through audition and the photo shoots, but he'll try to hold off on shooting the actual advertisements as long as he can – probably a week or two at most – and hopefully we'll catch a break by then."
"Great. Are there any other, actually better, news with that?" Neal's excitement, or rather lack of, was sadly obvious. He was one of the world's best professional liars after all, but apparently he was not in the mood for even trying to use his skills now.
But then a curious expression crossed Neal's face instantly as he perked up – it was an expression Peter wasn't sure how to read, but interpreted as Neal getting one of his crazy schemes crossing his mind and taking control of his being. But whatever Peter expected, it was not what came out of Neal's mouth: "Where's Agent Ruiz now?"
Peter really could not believe his ears. Did Neal really ask about Ruiz's location, of all agents? The agent hardly even realized that a stunned "huh" left his mouth, but Hughes seemed to respond, something about Ruiz being on an assignment in a division of some other city, his voice giving away some of his apprehensive curiosity into this development.
Just as Neal had gained enthusiasm, it seemed to deflate. "Figures. He's gone the one time I actually need him. Ruiz was my last hope. He probably wouldn't have any qualms about putting a bullet in my brain. I really miss him right now."
As everyone looked at the conman as if he'd lost his mind – which sure seemed to be the case by now with that comment – Neal continued, either oblivious to the reaction of everyone in the room or simply being his usual, entertaining self. The latter seemed to be the case as far as Peter was concerned, or at least hoped.
Ok, he was convinced Neal didn't have a death wish, least of all by Ruiz's hand. This was just the type of person Neal was sometimes – extra dramatic due to his life-long experience as a performer for his cons and an entertainer of sorts. He might say some things that were kind of crazy, but most of the time it was just hilarious to watch him, that is as long as he didn't get over his head as he had a knack for with other much more violent criminals and murderers.
Oblivious to his handler's thoughts, Neal still had some things to say about this particular undercover job.
"I can take a lot. Going undercover and infiltrating a human trafficking or a terrorist group sounds really good right about now. I'd take it in a heartbeat. But walking around basically naked, showing off some underwear brand while photographers take pictures for magazines and see who should be shot in a commercial ad for said underwear – that is just… just… No case can possibly be worth this, even if it leads to catching who is behind everything evil in the world." The last sentence was finished with a whoosh of air leaving his lungs in defeated acceptance, "I should never have made this work-release deal. I obviously did not plan far enough into the future."
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