Reluctant Witness

Summary: A twelve-year-old girl is the only witness to the murder of an FBI agent, but she refuses to cooperate with the FBI. WARNING: This story contains the disciplinary spanking of a minor child.

WARNING: Contains reference to past child abuse and child neglect. And reference to the past attempted rape of a minor child.

NOTE: This story is set before the final episode of season one.

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Peter, Jones, Lauren, and Neal were sitting in a surveillance van outside a fancy apartment building.

"You know he killed Agent Grant." Neal said. "And you know he pulled off that heist at the Jewelry store. So why don't you just go in there and arrest Harris?"

"We don't have proof." Peter said. "Without proof, we can't get a search or arrest warrant."

"The government complicates things." Neal said, shaking his head.

The White Collar unit had been investigating Garret Harris for the past two months, but had not found solid evidence against him. They believed he was guilty of forgery, robbery, arson, and murder. One of the victims was believed to be Agent Thomas Grant, who was found shot to death three days before. After the discovery of Grant's body, they started round the clock surveillance on Harris.

All four people looked at the back doors to the van in confusion when they heard a loud knock. Someone knocked again, and Peter opened the door. A man wearing a delivery uniform and holding a fruit basket was standing there.

"Can I help you?" Peter asked.

"I have a delivery for an Agent Peter Burke." The man said, holding out the basket.

"Who from?" Peter wanted to know.

"There's a card inside." The man said.

"Did someone give you this to give to me?"

"Um, no." The delivery man was beginning to look nervous. Now he had four people staring at him, and three of them had guns in their holsters. "The order was left last night on our web site, paid for with a credit card."

"Whose name was on the credit card?" Peter asked.

"You'll have to ask my boss that, I just make the deliveries."

"Tell your boss that I will be there in a little while and I want everything on the order."

"Yes Sir."

Peter shut the door and laid the basket on the table by the computers. He took the card out and read it out loud. "Dear Agent Burke: Hope you like the little gift. A man of your age shouldn't eat all those donuts. Hugs and kisses, your watched pot."

"Damit." Peter said, glaring at Neal. "Harris knows we're here and that we're watching him."

"Why are you looking at me?" Neal asked.

"Does a bottle of whine ring a bell?"

"It was never proven that I sent that whine." Neal said, with a smile. When Peter had him under surveillance, before he arrested him, Neal had sent the surveillance team a bottle of very expensive whine. "I have dibs on that big apple on top."

"It could be poisoned." Jones said.

"On second thought, I'm full."

"You could have waited until after he ate it to tell him that." Lauren said.

"Jones, Lauren stay here." Peter said. "Neal, with me."

"To the flower shop?" Neal asked as he grabbed his suite jacket and put it on.

"Yeah. Jones, have someone take the basket to the lab."

Jones nodded, and Peter and Neal left the van and got into Peter's car.

"I Wonder how long ago he noticed we were there." Neal said, as Peter pulled into traffic.

"When I arrest him, I'll ask him."

The rest of the ride to flower shop was made in silence, once there, both men got out of the car and went into the shop and up to the counter.

"How can I help you this beautiful morning?" The man behind the counter cheerfully asked.

"Agent Peter Burke." Peter said, showing his ID.

"Ah, yes." The man said, his smile vanishing. "Tony relayed your message." He handed Peter a piece of paper.

"This says that the fruit basket was purchased with my credit card." Peter said, staring at the paper.

"Yes it was. I assure you that we take every precaution to prevent this short of thing, whoever made the purchase had all of the required information that we ask for on our website."

"What kind of information?" Peter wanted to know.

"Name, birthrate, card number, expiration date, and the three digit code on the back of the card."

Peter pulled his wallet out and quickly searched it, pulling out the card that was used to make the order.

"I've still got the card." He said looking at Neal. "He must have hacked into my financial records."

"I didn't think Harris was very computer literate." Neal said.

"He's not." Peter replied. "But he enough money to hire someone who is."

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Three hours later, Peter and Neal were in Peter's office when Peter received a phone call. He answered it and listened for a moment. "Thanks Jones." He said, before hanging up.

"Jones find out what computer the order was placed on?" Neal asked.

"Yeah." Peter said, looking slightly confused. "But it doesn't make a lot of sense. Harris has enough money to hire someone smart enough to cover his tracks and fix it so we couldn't find out what computer was used. But the cyber squad was able to trace it pretty easily. The order was made on a computer at a cyber café two blocks from Harris' apartment. My financials were pulled up on the same computer about half an hour before the order for the fruit basket was made"

"Want to go check it out?"

"Yeah, let's go."

The two men left the office and headed towards the cyber café. When they got there, they noticed that the place was pretty busy. They walked over to the help desk and saw a young man in his early twenties.

"Agent Burke, FBI." Peter said, showing his badge. "I need to know who was on this computer at eight o'clock yesterday evening." He handed the man a piece of paper with the computer's serial number on it.

The man typed on his computer for a moment then said, "That would be the computer at station seven. According to this, Max was signed in at that time."

"Is he a regular here?" Peter asked.

"Yes she is." The man said with a smile. "Max is here a lot."

"What can you tell us about this woman?"

"I can tell you that she's not a woman, well not yet anyway."

"Sex change?" Neal asked.

The man laughed and said, "No, she's only twelve."

"A twelve-year-old was signed into that computer?" Peter asked.

"Yes."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, but if you want to, you can look at the security tapes."

"Where are they?"

The man lead them into a backroom and pulled the security tapes from the time that the order was made. They saw a young girl sitting at the computer, typing.

"You said she's a regular." Peter said.

"Sure is, been coming in almost everyday for the past few months. Nice kid, she helps out a lot when someone has problems with the computers. Kid's really good."

"When was the last time she was in?" Neal asked.

"Last night."

"Got a last name?" Peter asked.

"Harris."

"Harris?" Peter and Neal both asked at the same time, looking at each other.

"Yeah."

"What do you know about her?"

"Not much, she told me her Dad passed away and that she was living with her Uncle Garret."

"Damn." Peter said.

The three men walked back up front and the clerk pointed towards a young girl who had just sat down at a computer. "There's Max." He said. Then before they could stop him, he shouted out. "Hey Max, come here a minute. These guys want to talk to you."

She looked up, saw Peter and Neal walking towards her, then jumped to her feet and ran out the door. The two men started to chase her. They followed her onto the crowded sidewalk and quickly lost her in the mob of people.

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Later that evening, Peter and Neal were once again in Peter's office. They had just received a file on the young girl.

"Maxine Francis Harris." Peter said, looking at the file. "Her Mom died when she was four, car accident. Her Father was a con artist, he was killed by a mark when she was ten. Garret Harris petitioned the courts for custody of her, but was denied because of his criminal record. Maxine was placed in the custody of the State of New York. Seven months ago, the counselor at the group home she was staying at tried to rape her. He ripped off her shirt and had her pined to the floor kissing her, when someone came in and stopped him. The next day Maxine ran away and had not been heard from since."

"She ran to her Uncle." Neal said.

"Seems so." Peter agreed. "Says here that when Maxine was eleven, just a few months before she ran away, she was arrested for hacking into the New York Police Department's data base. She said she was bored, that was her only defense. She was sentenced to community service since it was her first offence."

"So she is capable of getting your financials and your credit card number." Neal said.

"Yep." Peter stood up. "Come on." He said.

"Where too?" Neal asked, as he followed peter out of the office.

"The group home that Maxine ran from"

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Peter and Neal walked into the Oak Dale Children's Home and was greeted by a middle aged woman with a sour expression.

"Can I help you?" She asked, her voice letting them know that she wasn't interested in actually helping them with anything.

"Agent Peter Burke, this is Neal Caffrey. We have a few questions about a young girl who once lived here, she ran away three months ago."

"Name?" The woman asked.

"Maxine Francis Harris."

The woman's expression grew even more sour. "That child gave us nothing but trouble the entire time she was here. She was rude, disrespectful……."

"So you weren't all that broken up when she was almost raped." Neal said, his voice growing hard. Peter gave him a surprised look, normally it took a lot to get Neal angry.

"Of course I was saddened by the news." The woman quickly said. "But that child was nothing but trouble."

"Do you know where she might go?" Peter asked. "Anyone she trusted?"

"She trusted no one."

"Was there someone here she was close too?" Peter asked.

"No, she pretty much stayed to herself."

"Thank you for your time." Peter and Neal left the building, each lost in thought.

They got into Peter's car and he pulled back into traffic, finally Neal broke the silence.

"What now?"

"Not sure." Peter admitted.

"Are we going to Harris' to see if Maxine is there?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Harris has a temper, that we know. If he blames Maxine for us being there, then he may hurt her after we leave."

"We take her with us when we leave." Neal said.

"If we see her. We don't have enough to get a search warrant, he can claim he doesn't know where she is."

"So we just wait, while that animal has Maxine." Neal said, not liking the situation at all.

"For right now." Peter said, not liking it any better then Neal. "I'm pulling the surveillance team, I don't want Harris to get too nervous. Not until we know Maxine if safely away from him."

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TBC

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