Yes! it's me! JoeNeal! I'm back! I never really thought I would be back to writing but a very very good friend and a very loyal reader of mine, ''Shalimar70'' has been a great source of inspiration to me. so Yvonne, this one is specially for you ;-)
Those who have read Lost and Found And Life Ever After won't find difficulty in following this fic but new readers, i suggest you read them 1st :-)
I still don't own White Collar or Neal for that matter :(
FBI Agent, Peter Burke's voice carried over in the warehouse. His eyes searched frantically for his son. He mentally cursed himself for the millionth time. He shouldn't have brought Neal into this operation. He should have known that this case was going to end this way. It always ended this way when Neal was involved in any of their cases. But Neal being Neal, was adamant on joining Peter and his team on this case and Peter couldn't refuse him. Even Agent Hughes hadn't disagreed with Neal. He always knew when to cash in the real asset like Neal.
Even though Peter who had agreed with Neal was not happy, he had no other option but to let Neal go alone in the warehouse, as the perp they were hunting wanted to meet Neal alone. He just hoped that after all this was done, he could get Neal safe and sound back to the Burke home, back to El, back to Neal's Winter Wonderland.
*How it all started*
Peter and his team had gotten a lead on the very famous art forger Marcus Gustav. Not only that, they had somehow managed to get to deal with him after several attempts. But there was a catch. Marcus Gustav had agreed to deal with them on one condition. They had to prove him that he was dealing with one of the best art forgers in the world.
When Peter discussed this case at dinner in the Burke house, Neal was quick to grab this opportunity to help Peter on this one as he himself was once the very best in art forgery. These were Neal's words at the dinner table, ''I was the best, Dad! You have to let me go with you. I have dealt with cases like these so many times.'' His eyes shone when he talked about his best work.
Peter had cringed when he had heard these words from Neal. He still didn't like the fact that Neal was once a criminal. No, he didn't doubt him anymore. He didn't think Neal would ever go back to being a criminal again but it still gave him chills. He and El loved more than anyone else. He was their world. But still Peter wished that he could have changed Neal's past. No, not for him or his track record in his FBI office but for the sake of Neal's life.
''Neal," El began but Peter cut her words
"Neal, we have trained agents for that, kiddo. We don't need a 17-year-old kid to go on a dangerous mission like that.
"Come on, Mom! I am not a kid!" Neal protested.
El raised her right eyebrow challenging her son's statement.
''Okay! Okay! I may still be a kid. But come on! I can do this! It's a piece of cake for me.''
''No, Neal, we don't want to take any risk. We don't want you to get involved with your past life again.
Neal's face fell. He knew his parents loved him but his past life always reminded him that he was living a life that was not supposed to be his. It was some kind of a fairy tale that he was living. A fairy tale where he and the Burkes were living happily ever after.
El, sensing Neal's sad state of mind quickly got up from her chair and went around him. She wrapped him in a warm hug from behind, kissing his head.
"Neal, sweetie, we love you so much, kid. We can't put you in any sort of danger.''
Neal melted in the hug and twisted himself to see El better while answering her. "I love you both too, guys.'' His eyes travelled to the side just in time to see Peter's wide smile.
''But, Please, let me do this. I want to help Dad and I know I can help him. Please, please. Just my name would be enough for Marcus to make the deal with us."
''Neal.." El spoke.
''Okay, Neal. Let's do this." Peter interrupted once again.
''YE..'' Neal started excitedly but Peter stopped him.
''Only after Hughes agrees to this grand plan of yours, okay?" He admonished him.
El stared at Peter as if he had betrayed her. The latter pleaded her mentally to understand why he took such a decision. He didn't want Neal to think that they didn't trust him. El nodded telling Peter that she understood her husband.
''Yes! I tell you, Dad. You won't regret this! I promise!'' Neal yelled excitedly.
Both El and Peter had to control themselves from rolling their eyes. They knew that whenever Neal made such promises, things turned out the exact opposite of it.
Peter then enveloped both El and Neal with his arms in a tight warm hug. ''I just want this operation to get over soon. Then we can plan for some mini vacation. What say?"
Neal, who was squished by El and Peter didn't complain at all. In fact, he was loving all the love he was getting. He had just opened his mouth to give a positive reply when Satchmo came barking into the kitchen. The Golden retriever sensed that the family was having a hugging moment without him and he didn't want to be left out. He curled himself onto Neal's leg. The Burkes all gave out a happy laughter.
Peter had agreed Neal to be a part of the mission only to pacify his son but to his dismay, Neal was the center of the mission.
Marcus had quickly agreed to deal with the famous Neal Caffrey. Yes, even though Neal had long forgotten his old life, people from his old line of work still were in awe of him. He was going to present the fake painting to Marcus and while the transaction would be on, Peter and his team of agents would apprehend the infamous criminal.
The day was the deal had soon arrived and everything was set. Neal was ready with the fake painting for the criminal and comms for Peter so that Peter could hear everything going that would be going on in the warehouse. Neal had walked into the warehouse and greeted Marcus with his usual charm. Everything was going according to the plan. Peter was satisfied with how Neal had handled everything, not that he had ever doubted the once conman.
But then, suddenly, everything went downhill. Marcus' voice was harsh on the comms.
"You might be too young to be a conman, Mr. Caffrey. I might be too old to be an art forger, but did you think you could trick me?''
"I would never dream of that, Mr. Gustav" Neal replied, flashing his stunning smile, hoping to ease the tensed atmosphere.
"Then, What the hell, are those comms for, Mr. Caffrey?" Marcus questioned.
Neal's smile faltered while he replied, ''Which comms. Mr.-
''Stop it. Enough of your nonsense! Who has sent you?" ordered Marcus in a stern voice. This time his voice was way too close to Neal for Peter's liking.
"I.. I have no idea what are you talking about, Mr.. '' Neal started to say but was cut off by Marcus.
''You really take me for a fool, Caffrey?" he demanded harshly.
"Ouch! Let go off my hand! It hurts!" Neal pleaded.
"Shit!" Peter cursed loudly. ''I should have never let Neal go inside. El will kill me if anything happens to our kid there. He haphazardly threw the mics and ran out of the van. Agent Diana and Agent Clinton Jones spared each other two seconds glance before rolling out of the van too and following their agent.
Peter stealthily reached the warehouse where his son and Marcus Gustav along with his henchmen were having a heated argument. Peter decided to wait out a few seconds to enter at the right moment but the sound of a gunshot fired made his blood drain out of his body.
He barged into the warehouse throwing all sorts of precaution away, thinking only about one thing or only one person, 'Neal'.