Note: This was written for a caperland challenge for the prompts "ride in the back of the pickup for seven hours" and "complete a mail order course on botany." It's also the first White Collar fic I've written, so forgive me if Peter's voice is a little off.
Disclaimer: I don't own Leverage or White Collar.
"Please tell me we're almost there," Nate said.
Peter grunted and shoved the heavy flower pot off of his thigh for the seventeenth time. "How the hell should I know? This is your lead, not mine. My lead would have brought us to a four star hotel in Miami."
Nate wiped a clump of dirt off of his face. "Your lead has two drug convictions and can't even spell Monet. At least mine's been reliable in the past."
Peter grimaced. "What if your lead was wrong?"
They shared a moment of horrified silence.
"No," Nate said. "No way. No way are we going to spend seven hours in the bed of a truck full of begonias and come away empty-handed."
"They're hydrangeas, not begonias." When Nate just gaped at him incredulously, Peter said, defensively, "Elizabeth and I are taking a mail order course on botany. It's a bonding experience." He scowled. "Anyway, I don't know what you're complaining about. Didn't Jim Sterling once spend three days in the trunk of a car to get his guy?"
"Five days," Nate said through gritted teeth. "In a mostly empty trunk. With a week's supply of food and water and a Gameboy. And he didn't have an FBI agent crushing the life out of him every time the car made a left turn."
"Oh, as if you're not killing me every time we make a right!"
The truck screeched to a halt. Nate banged his head against the head of the truck bed, making him see stars, while Peter grunted a curse as that damned flower pot fell on top of him again.
"Are we there?" Peter whispered after a few seconds passed uneventfully.
Nate squinted up through the canopy of blossoms but couldn't see anything except a few fragments of overcast sky. "We should get out of here in case he comes back to unload the flowers."
Getting out was more difficult than it sounded and resulted in two broken flower pots and a black eye for Nate. Panting and groaning, they dropped over the side of the truck that faced away from the large house and crouched behind it, out of sight. They were surrounded by forest, the house the only sign of civilization.
They watched as a set of boot-clad feet strode away from the truck toward the house. They hadn't gotten a good look at the driver before, and in the fading evening light it was impossible to make out anything but a thin figure with blond hair tucked under a baseball cap.
"Now what?" Peter said.
"You're FBI. I figured you'd want to go in guns blazing."
"I'd call for backup, but if this lead turns out to be a dead end I'll be the laughingstock of the Bureau."
"And I don't have any backup."
They stared at each other.
"Guns blazing?" Nate said.
In response, Peter pulled his sidearm out of its holster and clicked the safety off. Nate followed suit, a little less gracefully. He was more of a talker than a fighter, and hated it when cases called for violence.
"Follow my lead," Peter said. "It'd cost me my job if I let a civilian get hurt on my watch."
"This isn't my first rodeo. Trust me, I can take care of myself."
They crept toward the house, weapons at the ready. The blinds were drawn on all the windows that faced the front. They reached the front door and Peter was just rearing back to kick it in when they heard the roar of a motorcycle from behind the house. They exchanged a look of dread, then spun to watch in dismay as a sleek Ducati zoomed past them and down the road, spraying the side of the truck with dirt. There were two figures on the motorcycle, both slender and wearing black helmets to obscure their features. Strapped to the back of the smaller rider was a wooden box roughly the size of a Monet.
"Well," Nate said. "This day gets better and better."
Peter said, "Hmph."
Together, they half-jogged, half-trudged to the truck. They both knew that there was no way the ancient vehicle could catch the motorcycle in a chase. Anyway, they found that the driver—who must have been the smaller figure on the motorcycle—had slashed the two front tires, which were now flat as could be.
Shaking their heads, they headed back to the house. Peter pulled out his cell phone as they walked, calling a cab. Not that he had any idea where they were—but he'd rather spend an hour on the phone with the cab driver figuring out where to meet than have to ask someone at the Bureau to come and rescue him.
The front door, it turned out, was unlocked. Nate went in first and began to explore while Peter leaned against the wall in the foyer.
"Right, so after two hours we made a really violent right turn—I really thought I was going to die—what angle? I don't know, maybe 270 degrees? Uh-huh. Sure, that could have been us merging onto I-90."
A furious bark of laughter from another room caused Peter to drop the phone and draw his gun, racing toward the sound. "What is it?" he demanded, bursting into the room and finding Nate, alone and quite unharmed, holding a piece of paper.
Nate slapped his palm across his face and handed over the paper. It didn't take long to read.
Dear Nate and Peter,
We're sorry that we couldn't stick around to welcome you like proper hosts, but we had a plane to catch. Unfortunately, the Monet is coming with us, but as a consolation prize, the hydrangeas are for your wives! Tell Maggie and Elizabeth we said hi, will you?
Better luck next time,
N and P (Hey—the first letters of our names are the same as the first letters of your names! Cool! –P)
"Neal," Peter growled.
"Parker," Nate snarled.
You're in Oklahoma. I'd give you a more precise location, but why spoil the fun? –N P.S.S. For future reference, when you're in the bed of a truck, it
For future reference, when you're in the bed of a truck, itis possible for the driver to hear you whining at each other.