Disclaimer (just to get it out of the way first): I don't own any of the White Collar anything. Nothing is mine except for Toby. Toby is mine, and I will love him, and pet him and call him George, er, Toby. So yeah- Toby and maybe other people not in the White Collar franchise are mine, everyone else belongs to USANetwork.
AN: This is a little bit before Home Invasion. And it will involve Home Invasion, maybe. Possible. You may find out. Oh, and I don't live in New York, never been to New York, dream of going to New York. If something is off and someone notices it, please tell me. I'm begging here.
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"Black?... Grey?... Black…"
Reformed con-man Neal Caffrey stood before the full sized mirror in the apartment he currently occupied, trying to match a favored fedora with a favored Devore suit. He flipped the smooth black one on and studied the look. He then twirled the grey one on and repeated the process. Close to finally deciding on which hat to choose, a knock on his door drew him from his dilemma.
Might be June with breakfast, Neal thought with a quick glance at his watch. It was a good 30-45 minutes before Peter was suppose to come get the ex-con for their joyous exciting day of mortgage fraud! (yippee)
"Hey, June," the oung man said as he reached to open his door, "I think you may be able to help me. I'm not sure which…" Neal looked out the door to find, not his gracious landlady, but his FBI handler Peter Burke. "Peter, you're early. I don't think June has even made her Italian roast yet." The young man flashed a small charming smile, having not expecting Peter so early. He was caught a little off guard.
"Yeah, well, we gotta make a stop before going to the office. It's a little out of the way, so I figured we would go early," Peter stated matter of factly, taking in the sight of the Great Neal Caffrey being caught off-guard. If only for a moment. But, then again, Neal was going to have a few of those moments today. Neal's smile slowly slipped off his face, trying both his hardest to not make his best attempt at a fish out of water impersonation and to figure out what Peter had planned.
"Um, okay," the younger man said, straighten slightly, "Just let me finish getting ready and I'll meet you down stairs?" he asked as he started back into his apartment.
Peter nodded, himself turning to head downstairs. "Yeah, maybe June has made her Italian roast after all," Peter started down the stairs with Neal closing his door.
"Oh, and go with the black one."
Neal just grinned as he headed in to his bedroom.
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It didn't take more than 6 minutes for Neal to finish everything he needed to do. He sauntered down the flight of stairs, black fedora in hand, while the carpet absorbed the sound of his footsteps. On the second landing he heard two voices. Really it was like watching Charlie Brown, the voices sounding like the parents with no real words. He slowed, listening to June and Peter conversing.
"She said she'd come around 9:00. You sure this is no problem?" Peter asked in a low voice, trying to be quiet in the plot he was cooking with June.
"Oh, I think it's a great idea. It'll be good for him. Both of them, really. And Chester could use the company," stated June, soft smile obvious in her voice and graced her lips.
Neal stepped on to the last landing just in time to see the small pug come trotting up at the call of his name. He looked up at June with a quizzical head-tilt as if to ask "You called, Madame?" June's smile grew, if that were possible, as she picked the dog up and cradled him. Chester was just content to be with the one he called his loving master.
"Something going on that I don't know about?" Neal asked as he absently petted Chester's headed. The pug returned the gesture by licking his hand.
"Nope, just June and El planning to spend the day together," Peter stated. He was trying to hide his smirk, the corners of his mouth twitching.
Neal made a face of mock horror. "Oh, this will be a fun day for you, won't it?" Neal smiled at his also loving landlady, gracing her with a small hug as she graced him with a thermos.
"Oh, you have no idea, Neal. Now go, before you're late. And here is your coffee."
With the perfectly roasted liquid of the gods in hand, Peter followed the younger man out the door and straight to the Taurus.
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"So what is this 'stop' we have to make?" Neal asked once Peter pulled into traffic. Having had his coffee, he was more aware of his surrounds.
Like Peter, for instance. Peter was hiding from him. It wasn't the fact that Peter was hiding something that bothered him. It was the fact that Peter was so enjoying tormenting Neal with the half-covered whatever he was hiding.
"We need to go pick up a little boy, name is Toby. He was a part of a family in one of Ruiz's cases that White Collar got involved in. Right before you got out, actually. We would usually just leave Toby in the system. They normally don't have problems. But, Toby has a little trust issue. He was really just a show piece, kept in a small space, no real attention. He's a little frightened of people." Peter paused and glanced at Neal, who was listening intently. Oh, today is gonna be a good day.
"When Hughes heard about what was happening, he went to a few of the top brass and a specialist to see if it would be good for someone in the White Collar Unit to take him, namely you. Some of the head bosses think you have a few responsibility and trust issues yourself. They arranged it so that this has been tacked onto your 'work-release/rehabilitation' requirements."
Neal's baby blues opened wide. "Peter! How am I suppose to take care of a kid?! You keep saying I can't take care of myself and that I am a kid! Who was smoking the crack on this decision?!" Neal was floundering, trying to make sense of why the FBI would trust him with a human kid. Not that he didn't like kids, but he couldn't take care of one. Not properly.
"Whoa, whoa. Calm down! We aren't giving you a kid to take care of." Neal looked at him and his recently grown second head. "We are not that insane. And I never said Toby was human." Peter just smiled as he parked the Taurus next to a curb. "Get out, we are here."
Neal opened the car door to reveal the local animal shelter.
"Toby is a dog."
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'Acquiring a dog may be the only opportunity a human has to choose a relative.'
AN 2: So yeah that's the start. I hope you like it and want it to be continued? Milk Bones for everyone who review! Or a cookie, take your pick. Oh and I named June's pug Chester after my grandmother's pug who loves to watch tv. My grandmother loves WC and loved the June had a pug. Thank you for reading and hopefully reviewing! (the button is right down there *points to review button*)