A/N: Alright, so. We embark on a new voyage of White Collar Shorts. We'll see how it goes! I hope you all like them. They are pre-written and all of them but the last couple were finished before 2x01 came out. So, don't expect many tags to new episodes. Enjoy!
Neal Caffrey ran a hand through his dark curls. Quickly he adjusted his textbook under his arm and stepped up the cement path to the house. He told himself he didn't need to be nervous, it was just a study session. But he was nervous anyway. He smoothed out his dark blue t-shirt again and knocked on the door. After a few seconds it opened and he was met with a beaming grin.
"Hey, Amy," Neal said. He smiled at the girl who was his desk partner for his seventh-grade science class.
"Oh, good, you brought your book. I accidentally left mine at school." She blushed slightly, her freckles standing out against the pale pink.
"I've done that before," Neal said with a sympathetic smile. "Well, I'm glad I brought mine then. I almost didn't." He hesitated slightly.
"Oh! Sorry!" Amy stepped aside. "Wanna come in?"
"Sure," Neal said. He walked into her house and the smell of chocolate filled his nose. He took off his sneakers and left them by the door, embarrassed at how worn they looked compared to hers. But she didn't seem to notice or care as she took off her own shoes.
"I just barely got home from dance, I'm sorry I didn't have time to go over anything before." Her green eyes danced as she yelled. "Mom! Neal's here to study!"
"Alright," a woman's voice floated from up the stairs. "I'll be down in a minute. Don't touch the cupcakes yet, they need to cool down still."
"Okay," Amy called back. She gave Neal an apologetic grin. "Sorry. Big house, loud voice." Neal laughed.
"It's all good," he assured her. "Your house is really nice."
"Thanks," Amy said, rolling her eyes with a smile. "It's a pain to keep clean, though. 'specially with the Terrors." He'd already learned this was her way of referring to her younger siblings, a boy and girl twin. She loved them, though, Neal could tell. They walked toward the kitchen and Neal smiled at a photograph of Amy, her parents, and her siblings all grinning.
"My mom was excited I was having a friend over," Amy said as they entered the kitchen. "She says I never bring anyone here. I usually go to their houses. So she made cupcakes."
"That was nice of her," he commented, surprised.
"Yeah," Amy said, shrugging as if it wasn't a big deal. Which, to Neal, it definitely was. "She likes cooking, so..." She sat down at the counter and pulled some notepaper and pens out of her backpack. With a grin, she brushed her curly red hair out of her eyes and bounced on the barstool. "Well, go on, sit down."
Neal realized he'd been unconsciously waiting for permission to be given and felt the embarrassment return as he sat on the stool next to her. But once again she didn't seem to notice or care and she tapped a pen against the counter.
"So. We have to study pages seventeen to nineteen?" Amy asked.
"To page twenty-one," he said. "He changed it today."
"Oh." Amy rolled her eyes. "Gosh, I'm so spacey. Sorry."
"It's fine," Neal said with a smile. "Sometimes he can be really hard to pay attention to."
"Tell me about it!" Amy said with a light laugh. They went over the pages of material together, trying to guess what would be on the test then quizzing one another. By the time they were on page twenty, Amy's mother had come downstairs with two red-headed preschoolers. They grinned identically and their mother sat them down at the counter.
"Do you like chocolate or strawberry cupcakes, Neal?" She asked him.
"Chocolate would be wonderful," he said politely. "Thank you, Mrs. McLean." She set the cupcake down in front of him then gave Amy a chocolate and her siblings both strawberry.
"You're quite welcome. I'm glad you could come over." She gave him a warm smile.
"I'm glad, too, thank you." Neal smiled back. Amy ate her cupcake quickly and got another one, but Neal took slow bites of his as they continued studying. It took longer than he'd expected, and by the time they'd finished Amy's father had returned from work.
"I'm home," he said in a cheerful, singsong voice.
"Daddy!" The twins jumped up from the counter and one grabbed on to each of his legs. He kept walking, dragging them with him, and they giggled madly.
"Hi, honey," he said, kissing his wife on the cheek.
"Eww!" The twins darted away. "Kissing!" Amy laughed, rolling her eyes.
"Hi Dad." Mr. McLean gave her a hug and looked at Neal.
"Hello, son. Are you Amy's science partner that she's been saying so much about?"
"Dad!" Amy looked mortified, blushing bright pink. Neal smiled politely and shook Mr. McLean's hand.
"I suppose so, Sir. I'm Neal Caffrey."
"Good to meet you, Neal," Amy's father said. "Are you going to be staying for dinner?"
"I'm not sure..." Neal was very hesitant.
"You can if you'd like to," Amy's mother offered. Amy gave him a thumbs-up and Neal nodded. Hopefully he could still get home on time.
"I would love to stay. Thank you very much." Amy beamed at him and Neal felt his cheeks heat up slightly as he grinned back at her.
"D'you wanna come see my kittens?" Amy asked him. "Now that we're done studying."
"Sure," Neal said, nodding.
"Alright!" Amy slid off her stool and Neal followed her upstairs. They spent the next twenty minutes playing with her two fluffy gray kittens. Her siblings (who he learned were named Timmy and Jane) came in several times. Amy made them leave the first two, but then Neal said it was fine with him if they stayed. He didn't get to play with younger kids very often.
"Kids!" Mr. McLean called up the stairs. "Dinner!" They made it downstairs and everyone was sitting down. The family traded laughter and stories as they ate, and Neal felt a strange mixture of feeling out-of-place and longing. At the same time it was very nice. They included him in a lot of their talking and he was sad when the meal was over.
"I have to get home now," Neal said regretfully when Amy asked if he could stay a little longer.
"Aw, are you sure?" She pleaded.
"Well, I-" Neal didn't really know how to explain. Mrs. McLean set a hand on his shoulder.
"Now, Amy, he's already stayed a long time. We wouldn't want him to get in trouble, would we?" She asked. Neal felt a rush of relief.
"No," Amy said quickly. "Okay, sorry Neal. I'm glad you could come though! Thanks for studying with me!"
"It was really fun," Neal said with a grin. Timmy and Jane gave him enthusiastic waves as he started to the door. He pulled on his sneakers. "Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. McLean. Dinner was delicious."
"Come back anytime," Mr. McLean said. "We're glad to have you."
"Bye!" Amy called after him as he walked down the path with his textbook back under his arm. Neal grinned and waved, then as he turned the corner the smile turned wistful. He hoped Amy knew how lucky she was.