SnowBalls

"Oh come on Peter! Its almost Christmas, why are you so grumpy?" Neal leaned his chair back in Peter's office. With a notebook laid out in his lap, Neal glanced around the office. "And why do I always feel like I'm in a fish bowl when I'm in your office? I'm guessing the FBI doesn't care too much about privacy?"

Peter rolled his eyes and glanced at the clock. Only one more hour to go and he'd be free for the weekend. "Do you have anything on the case?"

"Yeah, I think its a bank teller. Can't be too certain considering I don't have any information on her." Peter immediately glanced up and looked at Neal in shock.

"You think you might have the answer? Why would she have been the one to steal the cash? She's not even on our suspect list." Peter took the folder from Neal and read through the case briefly, before shaking his head. "Its too late now. We can't exactly get any proof five years after the crime took place."

"Then why did you even have me look at it?" This time is was Neal's turn to roll his eyes. When Peter looked back to the file incredulously, Neal muttered, "She had means, motive, and opportunity. How could she have not been a suspect?"

"I'm not seeing any of that Neal. Explain." With a sigh, Neal maneuvered his chair to Peter's side of the desk and began to point out details of an old bank robbery. Peter had placed Neal on the old case when they finished up their most current case three hours before; Peter had quickly grown tired of Neal's free time being spent with the woman, single and married, in the office.

"Well I'm finished. You want a ride back to Junes?" As Peter put his coat on, Neal jumped up for his and grinned widely.

"Thanks, but no. I can't believe it snowed last night. It never snows so much in Manhattan, and we had two feet? I'm pretty sure we've witnessed a miracle, Peter." Neal tried to un-stick his grin but the anticipation of the walk home overcame him.

"Miracle? Ha. You know, I just don't see miracles where people like you do. How could two feet of snow be a miracle? I consider it a bad omen." With a shrug Neal pulled his gloves on as he took the stairs two at a time.

Neal had quickly learned that Peter Burke despised snow when he first entered the office that morning. The man had been grumpy all day because of it, and if Neal was anything but a romantic, the mood would have carried over to him.

"Have a great weekend Cruz! Jones! Cameron...Stephenson..." Neal trailed off as they passed the White Collar division and entered homicide and organized crime. These agents were notorious for being unfriendly and cold, especially to any convicted or alleged criminals. But Neal always took their looks good-naturedly and made sure to learn all their names. "See you Monday, Ruiz!"

Ruiz took a brief look at Neal and, without reaction, focused on finishing his paperwork.

"I don't even know why you still try, Neal. I can't even get them to like me. Of course, I blame Ruiz for their new attitude, but this division has always been a little more difficult to work with, one of the reasons why I avoid it like the plague." Peter slid his key card across the lock on the door to check himself out as he left the building.

"One day, Peter. One day I'll break through their thin barrier and you'll see organized crime and homicide for what they really are: awesome people who simply see too much violence." Neal tipped his hat to a woman walking up the stairs. She smiled at him while continuing on, and Peter enjoyed watching her expression when she paused for a moment to glance back at Neal. It was common for women to pause in their tracks when Neal flashed his grin at them.

A few times, while working on cases, women were actually speechless when Neal also stopped to talk to them while. The simplest thing Peter learned to do was grab Neal's arm and pull him away, generally lecturing his partner along the way.

Today that wasn't a problem. Neal remained two steps ahead of Peter the entire time, whistling "Winter Wonder Land" as he made it to the front lobby. Neal's attitude was a little contagious, and Peter couldn't help but pick up his feet a little as they made it outside.

The snow had melted considerably, but almost everything remained untouched. The people of Manhattan did not seem to want to disturb the snow. Except for shoveled sidewalks and plowed roads, the city seemed untouched. Everything looked clean to Peter, and he began to understand why Neal was so content.

Neal was more than content. He truly had been up before the birds this morning when he heard it was going to snow. Of course, the first thing he did, at six in the morning, was shovel and salt the stairs in front of June's home and the sidewalks leading up to it. After that he worked on the roof, making sure that June would be well taken care of when she got up. The thought of her slipping in front of her home sickened Neal.

The next thing Neal had done was make a small snowman and situate it next to the front door. He used little rocks to form the face and had one stick pointing along the side of the snowman as if to say: "Welcome to this happy home."

As if to mock Neal for his happy attitude, Neal's foot hit a patch of ice on the first step out of the FBI's office building and Neal felt himself come down hard. He reached back with his elbow just in time for it to break his fall and he felt himself turn in just the right angle to roll the rest of the way down the stair.

"Neal?! Are you all right?" Peter's worried voice broke Neal from his daze and he looked up into his partner's face.

"What happened?" Neal should himself as he sat up on the bottom stair.

"Ice. You hurt?"

"Not at all." Neal winced though when he straightened his arm. "Maybe my dignity...yep....that's in shambles. Where'd my hat go?"

Peter laughed and stuffed Neal's hat on to his head, a little harder then he probably needed to. He then sat down next to Neal and opened his mouth to give a lecture. Neal recognized this immediately and stood.

"What did I do wrong this time?" Peter always got that look in his eye when Neal flirted too much or playfully teased one of the agents in the Organized Crime Division. Neal learned to avoid it at all costs, as it always resulted in a lecture about work ethic and respect.

Peter knew Neal recognized that look as well. He shook his head. "Nothing, except you probably wouldn't slip or stumble over things if you looked down at where you're going, you know." Peter had noticed that Neal never looked down when he walked. While everybody else kept a wary eye near their feat when they walked, in case there was something they could trip over, Neal kept his eyes up. This certainly had resulted in several stumbles throughout the last few months. But they were never so bad that Peter felt inclined to mention it. Until now.

"Rule number one. People trust you more if you keep eye contact. Everybody knows a defensive person looks away more: avoiding eye contact or just avoiding people in general. To get somebody to trust you, you show no fear."

"Sounds like a con-artist motto to me." Peter smiled, and gently teased Neal. "I thought you were rehabilitated?"

"Oh, I absolutely am." Neal glanced over at Peter as he said this. Well, he was trying at least. "But I wouldn't call it a con-artist motto, you don't necessarily need to have a con planned for somebody to want to earn their trust."

"Hmm. Well in that case, don't worry about falling on your butt in front of your coworkers. Enjoy having no dignity. I'm going to get away from this blasted snow." Peter stood up and started walking away.

Blasted snow? Neal's pride certainly did sting, as he probably rolled down ten stairs in front of Peter and who knew how else had seen it from their windows, but Neal knew, at that moment, that Peter needed to learn about the wonders of snow.

Neal bent over and scooped some snow. It had partially melted throughout the day and had become the perfect consistency for a snowball. He packed the snow between his hands and threw the snowball lightly at Peter's head.

Perfect. When the snowball hit Peter's head it had been going slow enough to stick. It slid down the back of Peter's head and Peter jerked slightly as a good portion of it fell down the back of his suit. Peter turned.

Neal looked behind him. There was nobody there to frame. Nobody to blame it on. Not that he had expected to get away with it. But he just now realized how much Peter hated the snow.

"Well...I only have one question for you Neal." Peter shook himself for a second and slowly stalked toward Neal.

"And what is that, Peter? I hope its quick. As you were just saying, you want to get away from this 'blasted snow.'" Neal took a step back, he was now standing in the snow near the bushes lining the FBI building. Was he about to get arrested?

"Have you ever been white-washed?" Peter jumped toward Neal and Neal bolted back toward the stairs. Peter may be fast, but Neal knew that in a race, he could beat Peter easily.

Peter made a swipe at Neal but Neal easily avoided it and jumped past Peter again. He must have hit a second patch of ice because he felt himself come down hard. Again.

"You don't enjoy keeping your dignity, do you Neal? All you had to do was look down and you would have seen that patch of ice!" Peter started laughing, as Neal laid face up on the ice, still a little dazed.

Peter grabbed Neal's arm and pulled him to his feet. Neal shook himself and realized where Peter was taking him. The little patch of lawn in front of the FBI building!

"You're not really going to...are you?" Neal struggled against Peter but at this point Peter had a firm grip on Neal's arms. It was the kind of grip agent's had on struggling suspects, the kind Neal wouldn't be able to get out of unless he wanted to cause himself some damage.

When Peter made it to the snow he threw Neal down and put a knee on his back. As Neal felt his face near the snow he twisted away and just barely rolled out of Peter's swipe. For good measure, Neal stuck his leg out and locked it behind Peter's right ankle. As Neal yanked back, he felt Peter lose his balance and topple over. With all his weight behind that pull, Neal felt himself fall back into the snow as well. He quickly rolled out Peter's way, and stood on the other side of the small stretch of lawn.

"Ha! You can't get me Peter! You'll always lose when its just the two of us!" Neal grinned when he saw Peter shaking in laughter. They were both covered in the snow, and truth be told Neal was a little worse off. Neal scooped up another snowball and began patting it between his hands when Peter tackled him.

Now, when in a race against Peter, Neal knew he would always win. But in a wrestling match, Peter took the title easily. They rolled around a bit. Peter would nearly pin Neal and Neal would barely squirm away. Neal got a few face-fulls of snow along the way, but he usually gave it as good as he got.

The sound of laughter broke Peter and Neal away from the war, and they looked up to see nearly twenty FBI agents watching them.

"We heard you were having some trouble with your convict, Agent Burke. Need some help?" Ruiz stepped forward as he spoke, a smile on his face. It had to be the first smile Neal, or even Peter, had ever seen on the severe agent.

"I think I'm teaching him pretty well. But you're more than welcome to join me." Neal gave Peter a shocked look, but shrugged it off long enough to pack another snowball and throw it at Agent Ruiz. It hit Ruiz squarely in the chest, leaving a wet spot after the wet snowball fell away. When Ruiz gave a shocked look back and then proceeded to make a snowball of his own, Neal had the good sense to pull Peter in front of him.

Ruiz's snowball hit Peter directly in the face and the resulting war lasted for another half hour. The agent's workday had been completed, and a war had begun.

Unspoken, the White Collar Division teamed up against Organized Crime and Peter found himself on the same team as Neal, again. When the agents were all laughed out, and Neal had received several white-washes from both sides, the miniature battle died off and everyone began to pack up to leave.

Neal grinned as he watched his soaking wet friends break away and begin to leave, all of them smiling at the childish play they just participated in. Peter was looking for his wallet, he thought it must have fallen out of his coat at some point during the snowball fight. Neal didn't think Peter entirely believed it had actually fallen out, though, not with the suspicious looks Peter kept throwing at him. A good thing too, Neal planned to give the wallet back to Peter, minus a few twenties, but Neal wanted Peter to suffer for a few minutes first.

"Caffrey." Neal turned to see Ruiz standing there with his partner. The two had teamed up against Neal fairly early on in the fight and Neal knew he would still be getting that whitewash if it hadn't been for Lauren Cruz coming to his rescue. Of course, she did throw a snowball at him just a few minutes later.

"Yes?"

"Nice job today. White Collar Division really held their own. I always thought they were just a bunch of little girls playing with stolen pictures and pretty jewelry."

"Well. Besides the little girl part, you're pretty much right." Neal grinned as the two men shrugged and nodded at the admission. "You guys did pretty good yourselves, I've never been cornered before."

The two agents laughed and shook his hand before they walked away. Neal turned back to Peter and saw the agent shaking his head in wonder, having watched the exchange.

"I really didn't think they'd ever warm up to you, Caffrey. You just create you're own miracles, don't you?"

"I blame the snow and some good exercise, Burke." Neal reached into his pocket and pulled out Peter's wallet. "I found this for you, by the way."

Peter humphed. "Oh I'll bet you just found it in your pocket. And I expect you to give me back my money Caffrey."

Neal smiled and walked away, fingering the forty dollars he just "earned."

…..

A/N: I hope you all enjoyed the story. Please review if you get the time. I'm working on a multi-chapter story right now, but I don't plan to publish it until its all finished. It would be great to have some helpful reviews to keep me going. Thanks for everything!