Disclaimer: I don't own White Collar or any character from the show, but Emily Croydon is mine.


Neal left the Burkes' house after his conversation with Peter. Elizabeth had politely offered for him to stay longer, but Neal had other priorities to worry about. He accepted that Peter couldn't do much until his suspension came to an end, but that didn't stop Neal from undertaking his own investigations.

Neal remembered how Peter had said, "For now we're just gonna to have to wait." But as Neal looked around the busy streets of New York, he knew that waiting would only make the situation worse. If he didn't act now, the perpetrator could very well set up another scheme to kill Neal. That is, if he even was the one targeted in the first place. But even if the perpetrator wasn't after him, with Neal witnessing the explosion made him a target. He thought in dismay how it wasn't if but when he or she would strike again. He would have to be extra careful about who he could trust. The perpetrator could be anyone, Neal thought.

Neal continued walking back to June's house. Cars raced past him and people walked around him. He looked at the faces of the people who were walking, consciously memorizing them for future reference. None of them paid any attention to him, some with a cell phone to one ear, others with ear phones pumping music from their iPods. Each of them walked quickly, most likely to their workplace. However, Neal knew from past experience that sometimes it was the least suspicious of people who were the deadliest. At the same time he memorized faces, he studied as many of the vehicles' registration plates as he could. But none of them struck a memory.

After about two dozen people had walked past him, Neal recognized a young girl on her bicycle. She looked no older that 8-years-old, with her brunette curly hair hanging down her shoulders. She gave me the flower, Neal thought when she peddled past him in the opposite direction. He didn't give much thought to the uncanniness of seeing her again, and went on with memorizing faces.


Meanwhile, Emily Croydon continued to ride her flamingo pink bike along the footpath, all the while avoiding the adults who walked hurriedly past her. Workers, she thought.

Moments before, she had seen the man she knew who was called Neal Caffrey. With one eye watching what was happening through the video camera on the tulip, the other seeing what was in front of her, she rode her bike until she reached the end of the street.

She remembered how Neal had accepted the tulip so easily.

She had dozens of tulips laid out for anyone who walked by. But only one had a bead sized video camera implanted in the center.

"Would you like a flower, sir?" She had asked Neal in her irresistibly cute voice. She had feared he would turn down the offer out of caution.

"Why thank-you," he had said, placing it in his breast pocket.

She had smiled at his confident figure as he continued walking down the block, knowing the rest of her scheme would flow from there.

Coming back to reality, through the video camera, she saw Neal enter the local mall. 'Follow him' she remembered her main instruction being. Placing her bike against a nearby tree, she turned a corner and entered the mall via another entrance.

As she walked, she checked her cell phone. 1 new message: Is it him?

"Oh, yeah," she said to nobody in particular.


Neal checked his watch. 7:21AM. The crowds of people and hurdles of vehicles, which now flooded the streets of New York, had slowed his journey down. He entered the local mall, hungry for something to eat. He cued up at a sushi outlet. As he waited in line, he scanned the mall. His eyes centered on a young girl, about ten meters away, licking an ice cream cone. As he focused his gaze on her, he realized that she was the same girl who had given him the tulip and rode her bicycle past him. Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence, Neal thought. Three times is enemy action.

When it was Neal's turn to order, he purchased his favorite set of sushi. When he was a fair distance away from the food outlet, thinking better of it, he discretely tipped his food in the trash. Maybe he was a little paranoid, but he felt that after seeing the girl for the third time that day. If she was a potential threat, she could have poisoned his food.

He walked casually back to June's house, all the while keeping a watch for the girl. When he entered June's house, he took the tulip out of his breast pocket and studied it closely. In the middle, he noticed what looked like a black bead.

"Bingo," he stated.

Dialing Peter's number, Neal thought how naïve he had been. Accepting something for free was strange enough, but by a young girl with no adult supervising was weirder. Sometimes it was the least suspicious of people who were the deadliest, he thought for the second time today. A child was the perfect observer for an enemy to hire.

"Hey, Neal, what's up?" Peter answered cheerfully.

"Peter," Neal spoke into the phone's mouth piece, "we have a problem."