Sorry guys for the very long wait. The story just froze in my head and I was just lost as to what to do with it. But I now have a solid storyline and there should be more regular updates. And this story is now dedicated to Kiki Cabou.
Disclaimer: Again, I only own Toby. I do not own White Collar, sadly.
Neal had opened the back door of the Taurus to let Toby hop in as Peter walked out of the shelter. "Not gonna put him up front, Neal?" the agent asked as he walked around the front of the car. Neal shut the back door and moved to the passenger's seat in the front as he answered.
"I figured I'd let him chose where he wanted to go. If he wanted to stay in the back, he can. If he wants to come up here, he won't be forced," the conman reasoned as Peter pulled out into traffic. The younger man looked towards the backseat where his smallest partner in crime was exploring. Toby was making his way from the passenger side window to the driver's side, sniffing and nosing anywhere he could reach. Occasionally, the puppy would look out the window when a car honked or went by quickly. Toby's little explorations went on in a comfortable silence for several minutes.
"Seems like he's a bit of an explorer back there," Peter mused when he checked the rear view mirror. "Just make sure he doesn't relieve himself back there. You'll be cleaning it if he does!" The agent almost busted up with laughter at the look on his charge's face. "Hey, don't give me that look. He is your responsibility now. You look after him, you take care of him."
"I know that, but I am not cleaning your car. Don't you have probies for that?" was all Neal could get out. He went back to watching the little one in the back finally decide to sit and lay down on the middle of the seat, eyes directed at Neal. Almost feels like a stare off.
Peter did laugh at that. "No, I've gotta something better. I've got you." Peter was now pulling the car in to the parking garage of the federal building. "Now come on, you have to introduce Toby here to the rest of the office. He stays with you at all times. Don't leave him with the leash tied to the desk."
Neal put a mock-hurt expression. "Why Peter. I'm insulted that you would even think I would do that." Neal got out of his seat as quickly as he could to get Toby out. When he opened the door, Toby remained where he was seated, watching Neal to determine if it was safe to get out of the vehicle. The consultant moved slowly for the leash and gently gave a tug to get the dog out. Toby obeyed very quickly, hopping straight down and moving to seat by Neal's feet.
The former career criminal just stood in shocked silence, enjoying that the puppy at his feet might just warm up to him yet. Then Neal hit a crossroads. He wanted to praise Toby, tell him what a good boy he was and pet his head. But he remembered that moment earlier at the shelter and decided that might not be such a great idea. He looked to Peter, practically begging with his bright eyes as to what he should do. The senior agent again just chuckled and handed Neal a dog biscuit he got from Satch's treats. "Here, just give him part of it and tell him he did good," was all the older man said as he walked past.
And Neal did just that. He broke the bone shaped treat in two and past half of it to Toby. Neal placed it in his palm and waited for Toby to take it. Slowly and cautiously, the dog sniffed and shifted closer to the consultant's hand only to snatch the treat quickly. Neal just grinned and quietly praised Toby's behavior and bravery. With that, Neal started after Peter, guiding Toby toward the elevator doors.
"So, how am I supposed to afford all of the amenities for him, Peter? I'm gonna need to go get dog food, treats, a bed, bowls, toys. Not to mention the fact that I'm going to need to fence in the balcony so he doesn't fall. I'm not going to be able to pay for that and still get all of the groceries, pay the rent, the bills," Neal asked once the elevator doors closed with its three passengers inside the car. "I'm gonna need to get a bed and bowls for the office too, if he's going to have to stay with me there. And what about vet visits? Those are getting really…"
Peter waved his hands to try and calm the close to panicking man in front of him. "Relax, Neal. The Bureau is going to pay for all of Toby's needs. It's not coming from what we pay you. The toys and extra treats are coming from you but we have everything else covered," Peter explained. "We already have the food, bowls and bed set up here. Just breathe."
Before Neal could retort, the elevator doors dinged open, causing Toby a small flinch. "Hey, it's okay. It's just the doors. Your fine," Neal coaxed as he guided the puppy out of the elevator and through the glass doors in to the FBI's White Collar division. Toby followed closely by Neal, staying right beside his foot.
Peter stopped half way in to the bull pen and called everyone's attention. "Alright guys, listen up. We have a new addition to the White Collar unit. His name is Toby and he will be staying with and by Caffrey." Peter swung his hand back to indicate the puppy to the whole office. "Please, guys, be careful with him. Don't pick him up yet, don't try and pet him. He is very skittish and we don't want to frighten him by everyone going up to him. So let's just get back to work and give Toby time to adjust. Thank you." And with that announcement, Peter went up the stairs and into his office. Thankfully the office took Burke's advice and stayed where they were, just watching Toby nervously scan the new room. Jones and Diana were they only ones to get up and head towards Neal's desk.
Neal had already taken his seat and was getting Toby to move closer to him when the two junior agents made it to the ex-conman's desk. "I see you two come bearing presents," Neal said as he took the little dog bed from Jones and placed it in between Toby and the desk. "You guys are a life saver." Neal accepted the water bowl and water bottle from Diana and again placed the item between Toby and the desk. And as per Toby's normal way to approve that the items were safe, he sniffed and nosed them til he was content to try stepping on the bed. All the while the three people just watched his progress and the agents asked questions like "How was the car ride," "Have you petted him yet," and "Can we get close to him?" Neal answered each in turn, slowly filling the water dish up once Toby had settled into the puppy bed for a well-deserved nap.
As Toby's eyes began to slip closed, Peter approached the small huddle around his consultant's desk. "Alright you guys, enough ogling. We got work to do." The junior agents nodded and went back to their respective desks. Peter turned back to Neal and handed him a file. The con man wasn't really paying that much attention to his handler; he was more focused on the bundle that was curled up next to his chair. "Caffrey," Peter stated, catching the younger man's attention. Neal turned to face Peter, nodding and accepted the extended file. "Don't forget that Hughes wants to see you and Toby before lunch."
Neal nodded and asked "Can we do that after he wakes up. I don't really want to disturb him. He's been through a lot this morning."
"Yes, Neal. It can wait a little while. Now get to work." Neal again nodded and dutifully went to work on the file just handed to him. Peter again went up the stairs, smiling and shaking his head as he went to tell his boss that the baby was sleeping.
More adventures of Neal and Toby to come. Next time: Toby meets Hughes and Toby's first day at June's. Hope you guys liked it and aren't to mad at the incredibly late update.