"Well, that was a bust."
Peter sighed as he and Neal exited the newest witness's home. All she could remember about the suspect was that "he might have been wearing a shirt with that guy on it". Neal grinned, happy to be out of his radius, even if it was just to interview old ladies.
"You're just sad she ran out of cookies to go with tea."
He teased, flipping his hat and walking slightly ahead of his partner.
"What, and miss out on the amazing coffee and stale Saltine combo they have back at the office?"
Peter asked, rolling his eyes and quickening his pace to keep up with his sprightly friend.
Neal opened his mouth for another retort, but froze mid-sentence. He stopped, leaving Peter to barely avoid bumping into him in the narrow alleyway.
He asked, looking around for anything suspicious.
Peter opened his mouth to tell him exactly who needed to shh right now when he heard what Neal must have been listening to all along.
It was a pathetic, wailing sort of meowing coming from a dumpster in the alley.
Neal, a weird look on his face, approached it cautiously. He opened the lid and peered in, his fancy suit like a sore thumb among the garbage.
Neal cried suddenly, breaking the silence that had descended between the two of them. Well, the three of them, since Neal was now carrying a tiny kitten in artist's hands, still mewing pitifully.
"Neal, put that down! You don't know where that came from!"
Peter hissed, cautiously shuffling towards his partner.
The conman simply glared and went back to the kitten, petting down it's damp orange fur and talking softly to it.
Peter, closer now, dared another look. He could almost feel himself melting as he looked upon not one, but two, pleading pairs of blue eyes.
"Peter, we have to take it."
Peter steeled himself, determined not to look at either of them too long.
"Neal, that thing could belong to anyone!"
Neal shook his head sadly and reached back into the bin. He pulled out a grubby cardboard box reading Free Kittens! In messy black font, still holding the kitten in the other hand.
Neal, if he was the cat, Peter was sure he would have been growling by now and was holding the box none too gently.
"When they couldn't get rid of him, they just threw him in the dumpster. We have to take him."
Peter looked back and forth from the dumpster, the box, the kitten, and Neal. The FBI agent threw up his hands in defeat.
"Fine! Take the stupid thing!"
Neal beamed, grabbing a cleaner box and placing the kitten inside. There was a flash of orange fur, and there was a kitten back in Neal's arms again.
He said simply, placing it on his shoulder like this was regular and walking away, dropping the box back into the dumpster on his way out.
Peter just followed, shaking his head.
Along the way, the kitten had gotten a small bath from Neal with a handkerchief and a bottle of water. Although he was determined not to, Peter kept glancing over at the two when they reached a stoplight.
Neal was grinning, although Peter couldn't tell if it was because he suckered Peter into this or because of the small thing sleeping on top of the heater.
Either way, they couldn't take it back to June's and now were on their way back to the FBI offices. Because the witness had been so unhelpful, it looked like they were going to have to go straight back and work overtime for a while until they found a lead.
Neal seemed okay with it, placing the kitten back on his shoulder and sauntering into the office. The security guys barely looked twice, while the receptionist appeared to be taking a picture and adding tiny, cartoon hearts and a black and white filter .
Peter struggled not to make a truly awful pun involving Rat Pack and cats, but decided against it when Diana handed him a file, then promptly proceeded to pluck the kitten off Caffrey's shoulder and play with its whiskers.
She asked when she caught Peter staring at her.
"I can't like kittens and semi-automatics?"
Peter fought back a smile at that but instead coughed.
Diana turned to Neal, who was standing on like a proud Papa.
"What's his name?"
She asked, running her fingers over the kitten's tiny stub of a tail.
"He doesn't have a name, he found it five minutes ago-"
Peter was interrupted by Neal mid sentence.
Neal announced, glaring at Peter again, as if leaving the cat nameless was an unthinkable act.
"That is the most adorable thing I have ever heard."
All three of them swiveled to look at Agent Blake, who busily typed on his computer and pretended he hadn't said anything.
Diana cooed over Devore (darn, now he was doing it) as Jones walked up with a file. He handed it to Peter, started to walk away, and then backtracked.
"Do I want to know?"
He asked, watching Diana place a hat Neal had folded out of an old report onto the kitten's head.
He muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose.
To Peter's surprise, Neal still had his tiny charge the next day when he walked into the office.
At his questioning gaze, Neal shrugged and told him calmly,
"He doesn't like to be alone."
Over the next few months, Devore became a permanent fixture around Neal, and the FBI offices. He grew into a beautiful, sleek cat despite all the junk food agents were sneaking to him.
Devore even helped out with a few interviews; kids who didn't trust them enough to tell them exactly where Mommy said she was going after she went to the bank, an old man who had recently lost his wife and had clicked on the "I'm a prince from Nigeria" email, a deaf man who didn't trust his FBI assigned therapist.
The fridge in the break room was always mysteriously stocked with enough milk for a little saucer full, and someone (Peter suspected Jones, the softie) bought a tiny scratching post that sat a sunlit spot.
Everyone pretty much put off telling Hughes, and they weren't even sure he knew Devore was there until one day. He walked into the office slightly late, looking apologetic, and walked straight up to Neal and Devore, who were paused mid-pet.
"Sorry about this, Caffrey."
Before anyone could get alarmed, a small girl came hurtling through the doors. She squealed, her light up sketchers making a small tap tap on the floor as she sprinted in.
"Grandpa, I thought you were lying about the kiiitttyyyy!"
She squealed, and Hughes was seen escaping into his office.
Sara Ellis clacked her way into the White Collar division of the FBI. It had been a while since she had seen Neal or Peter, but she needed their help with a stolen Matisse that admittedly had her stumped..
She almost fell down off her navy blue high heels as a small blur darted in front of her. She considered going for her baton, but Agent Diana stepped in front of whatever it was.
She murmured, stepping around the shape, which on further inspection, was a cat.
Sarah fought to keep her mouth shut and not look agape at the small orange thing resting next to the bust of Socrates on Neal's desk.
Diana, not seeming startled at all, directed Sara to wait for Neal and Peter, as they were coming any minute now.
She tossed over her shoulder as she walked away, giving the small cat a pet under its chin and leaving Sara to gawk.
The cat yawned lazily, the small collar around its neck making an almost imperceptible jingling.
Before she could check its tags, maybe figure out why it was here, she heard the familiar arguing that announced Peter and Neal's arrivals.
"All I'm saying is, you didn't have to accuse him of cheating on his girlfriend while she was right there!"
"But he was!"
Sara rolled her eyes as the pair reached her.
"Oh, hey, Sara."
Peter greeted cheerfully, argument seemingly forgotten.
"You can talk to me about the case in the conference room, but first, I have to meet with Hughes."
Peter said, already walking away.
Neal grinned at her, leaning on his desk like there wasn't a small feline laying on it.
"There's a cat on your desk."
She remarked bluntly. He shrugged, leaning down a little. The cat jumped swiftly onto his shoulder.
"This is Devore."
He introduced, tipping his head a little and thus making the cat do so too.
It was not adorable, she told herself mentally.
She said instead, grabbing her purse and walking to the conference room.
Peter still wasn't sure if he liked the cat or not. Everyone else certainly did. And the other day, when he had gone to Neal's house on the early morning to discuss a case, had found the two asleep with the cat resting on Neal's dark curls, both practically purring.
Still, he didn't mind when Dev curled up in the sunniest spot of the place - the chair in Peter's office - and that was something.