Disclaimer: White Collar belongs to Jeff Eastin and USA network.

A/N: Hopefully this is the ending you guys were hoping for…let me know what you think.

Chapter 11

Peter knocked on the door at June's mansion and the housekeeper answered.

"Good evening again, Agent Burke. Did you forget something?"

It didn't occur to Peter how strange it would look to the housekeeper that he would be back so soon after searching Neal's apartment.

"Good evening. I'm sorry to bother you again, but I was wondering…has Neal come back yet?"

"I have not seen him come back yet this evening sir."

June, having heard Peter's voice, came toward the entryway.

"Peter, what brings you here again?"

"I was looking for Neal. Do you know where he is?"

"Are you here to arrest him?"

"Does it matter?"

"You know Peter it was just a couple days ago that we were sitting here trying to figure out how to help Neal. What on earth were you thinking coming here? Did you pressure Neal into letting you search his apartment without a search warrant?"

"I'm just doing my job. I was presented with more information that directly implicated Neal. I can't just bury it June. I will not impede a federal investigation in progress. It's my duty to find the truth."

"I think you already know the truth Peter. It's the evidence you were looking for."

"I see Byron taught you well. You see a lot of him in Neal don't you?"

"Yes, Peter. I do. Neal is an amazing young man, and he deserves more respect than you are giving him."

"I'm just doing my job June."

"Maybe that's what you should be explaining to Neal…what exactly does 'doing your job' mean and why are you doing it without Neal? He wants to be your partner. He was the one that requested the deal, remember? He likes working with you. He doesn't need you to prove what he was; you already know that. What he needs now is for you to accept who he is and, most importantly, who he is without Kate."

Peter felt bad enough the way it was and he did not want to continue this conversation with June.

"I'm sorry to have bothered you this evening. I'll see you later."

Peter turned and walked out the door.


"Jones, I need tracking data on Caffrey. Where is he right now?"

Peter could hear the keys clicking as Jones typed in the request.

"He's located at 1 Rockefeller Plaza. I think there's a wine bar there he frequents."

"Yeah, I'm familiar with it. Morrell Wine Bar & Café. Thanks Jones. Go home; call it a night."


Peter walked into the wine bar, and it took him several seconds to scan the crowd looking for Neal. His eyes finally rested on him sitting in a booth in the back corner with his back facing to Peter. Peter walked a little closer; hoping he was still undetected. As Peter got closer he could hear Neal talking and wondered who he was talking to. After two more steps Peter realized it was Neal's fedora that was sitting on the table across from him. Neal was talking to his fedora?

"You know, this was bound to happen sooner or later."

Neal paused and Peter saw a glass of red wine come up to Neal's lips. He slowly sipped and set the glass back down.

"Just proves planning is the most essential part of the operation. It has to be absolutely foolproof so no evidence is left behind. I mean what does he really think he's going to find? Well, other than further evidence I have a disastrous track record with women, which is not a crime in and of itself."

Neal gave a slight chuckle, and sipped some more wine.

"Maybe he could arrest me for that. He's bound and determined to send me back anyway, so it might as well be for something there's actual proof for. You know what that means…I won't be able to wear you anymore; nope…no more fancy suits, no more of June's Italian Roast…no more beautiful view."

Neal took a longer sip this time, trying to savor the Italian Zenato Merlot for possibly the last time.

"That's the problem here; you like me no matter what. Peter on the other hand…he's too much of an FBI agent. He's too noble; he feels compelled to follow the evidence no matter what. What did you say? How does trust fit into that? He doesn't trust me; he doesn't trust that I've tied up all the loose ends so that nothing points back to me and then he gets all bent out of shape as if he didn't realize I did have a criminal life before working for him. What do you think?"

Neal took another long sip, and regretfully noted that he was almost finished with the glass.

"Yeah. I agree. It's been a good day. Good ribs, good wine, good company…both you and Elle. It's a shame to see it end. I should go home and see how bad the place is. I'm sure Peter tore everything to pieces."

Neal took the last sip, savoring the rich red wine before he set the empty glass down. He reached for his fedora and slipped it on his head. He was about to get up when Peter slid into the bench across from him.

"What, no flashing lights?"

"What are you talking about Neal?"

"Where's the rest of the team; where's the Marshall's? Are we surrounded?"

"Yes Neal, you're surrounded. Why don't you make my job easier and try to run."

Neal didn't miss the sarcasm in Peter's voice.

"Nah, I think I've had too much wine. What kind of evidence did you find?"

"Pretty busy here tonight. Lots of people; must be a good place."

"We're not surrounded. You didn't find any evidence."

"Look at all the people here; we are definitely surrounded, just not by FBI agents or U.S. Marshalls."

"So why are you here? Did you want to see me gloat? You know…about how good I am or how obnoxious I am."

"I saw you talking to your hat. I was concerned for your mental well-being."

"At least my hat doesn't think I'm annoying and tell me to go away."

A look of hurt crossed Peter's face and he didn't say anything for a while. He finally looked up trying to read Neal's face and decide what he needed to say.

"I'm sorry Neal. I've been really stressed these last several days and you have not been helping the situation."

"I was on my way out. Why don't you just leave; we won't have to talk, and I won't have to annoy you. You can go home to Elle and you'll feel much better."

"Elle is actually the reason I'm here."

"Ahh, so it wasn't that you were worried about me…it was Elle."

"Yes…No…I mean both of us are worried about you."

"Touching Peter, really. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go home to clean up whatever mess you've made of my apartment."

"What kind of wine were you drinking?"

"As if you'd care."

"I'm trying to make conversation. I'm trying to show that I do care."

"Why did Elle send you?"

"She wanted me to apologize for kicking you out this afternoon and threatening our partnership because of this case. She wouldn't let me eat any ribs until I found you and apologized. She insisted it had to be now; this evening. Apparently it couldn't wait until morning."

"So your interest in my wine selection was merely so that you could show you cared but didn't have to directly apologize?"

"No, I was interested in what wine you were drinking and what you were drinking it in. Elle told me that as long as you weren't singing or screaming it should be safe to approach you. I didn't see a wine bottle either, so I took a chance."


"Neal, I…I'm…"

Peter was about to say he was sorry and tell Neal he didn't want to end their partnership, but Neal interrupted him before he could finish his thought.

"It's a Zenato 2005 Merlot from Italy. It's special because they manually harvest it, hand sort it and dry it for 30 days. It's supposed to give it a better flavor…So…now you know and now you can leave. I really don't want to hear your apology right now, ok? Go back home. Tell Elle that you found me and that I didn't hurt you. I'm sure she'll be relieved."

"I can't do that Neal."

Neal slid out of the booth anyway and stood up, turning to leave. Peter slid out almost as quickly and grabbed Neal's arm.


"Let go of me Peter; you do not want me to make a scene."

"If you do, I will arrest you for disturbing the peace."

"See there you go…that's all you needed wasn't it? You just wanted me to make a scene so that you could finally stick me with something; very clever Peter. You're right; never underestimate you. So, what do you want me to do; scream? Threaten you? Hmmm? I'd prefer something not bloody."

"You're right. Don't underestimate me. Let's go before you do make a scene."

Peter still had a good grip on Neal's arm and started dragging him to the door. Neal resisted, trying to pull away and protested.

"Peter…NO! LET…ME…GO!"

Neal realized he had said it a bit too loud; the wine was starting to get to him. Peter whipped out his handcuffs and locked it on the wrist he was holding.

"Now you are creating a disturbance. Other wrist. Now."

Neal's face showed shock as Peter reached for the other one and securely locked his wrists in front of him.

"You have the right to remain silent, You know I will use anything you say against you, so I'm begging you, Neal. Shut up!"

Peter walked Neal the rest of the way out of the wine bar, and over to the Taurus. He helped Neal into the passenger side and reached over to lock Neal's seatbelt in while Neal just glared at him. Peter closed the door and slid in on the other side. He started the engine and then looked over at Neal.

"You know you are the only person who could get yourself arrested while someone was trying to apologize to you."

Neal didn't respond, but stared silently out the window. He was expecting Peter to drive over to the FBI offices, but was surprised when Peter pulled up to his own house. Peter came around, let him out of the car, and escorted him up the stairs letting him into the house.

"Hey, Honey. I'm back. May I please have some ribs now?"

Elle got up from the table where she had been working and walked toward Peter seeing Neal standing behind him.

"Sure. I'll warm them up for you."

She gave Peter a quick kiss, and then focused her attention on Neal.

"Neal, it's nice to see you again so soon."

Elle's gaze dropped to Neal's hands; confusion marking her features.

"Honey…why is Neal handcuffed? I told you to apologize. You said you didn't have any evidence to arrest him."

"He was disrupting the peace and he was being annoying."

"So…you didn't apologize?"

"I tried Elle; he wouldn't listen. I wanted to talk to him, but he was insistent on leaving. I tried to stop him so I could apologize but, again, he didn't want to listen. I suggested we go and he resisted. He was making a scene so I arrested him and suggested he use his right to remain silent."

"Peter, how could you?"

"It worked. He didn't say a word all the way back here. I thought it might help if you were here as well…I think you have a more calming effect. Anyway, I'm starving to death, and I need something to eat."

"I cannot believe you did this Peter. All I asked you to do was apologize."

"Which I will attempt again after I eat. Until then I'm going to enjoy the peace and quiet of my home without Neal's annoying comments after every word I try to say."

Peter glared over at Neal to ensure that he meant what he said.


Peter was sitting at the table devouring Elle's delicious ribs; enjoying every morsel. He occasionally glanced up to check on Neal who was now sitting on the couch with a stony expression on his face. He still hadn't said a word and Peter was enjoying the silence.

Elle came back in from the kitchen and noticed Peter looking at Neal with suspicion.

"Are you expecting him to escape?"

Peter turned toward his wife and smiled briefly.

"No. Just interested to see how long it takes him to get out of those handcuffs."

"As if I'm dumb enough to do it in front of you."

Both Peter and Elle turned surprised at the first words that came out of Neal's mouth since they had arrived.

"Guess you'll have to wait then."

Peter grinned and Neal looked over at Elle.

"Do I have to put up with this?"

"Neal, Peter is sorry for what happened, ok?"

"He has a funny way of showing it. Mozzie will be hearing about this. He is my legal counsel you know."

Elle laughed and then went over to sit on the couch next to Neal. She put her hand on his shoulder and he shifted slightly to face her.

"I can't disagree with you there Neal. Do you want to know what I told Peter?"

"Does he really need to know Elle?"

"Peter, if you would have apologized the first time, maybe this wouldn't be an issue."

"Please tell me Elle; if only to annoy Peter."

Neal had a smug look on his face, but then noticed that Elle really did look serious.

"I'm sorry Elle, I didn't mean it."

"Peter cares about you Neal. He was afraid that you were going to get caught this time and he was afraid this woman had actual evidence linking you to the case. He doesn't want to lose you as a partner. We think of you as family. It was killing him, but he felt obligated to do his job and pursue all the leads he was given. He gets upset because you have a remarkable tendency to get under his skin at exactly the wrong moment."

Neal marveled at how Elle always knew what to say to him; he knew that he should apologize as well. Neal looked over at Peter, who was wiping his mouth and trying to get all the barbeque sauce off. It was a funny sight.

"I'm sorry Peter. I over-reacted and I pushed you too far. I gave you every reason to eliminate our partnership and I wouldn't blame you if you still wanted to."

Peter got up from the table and walked toward his wife and Neal.

"I don't want it to end. I have the highest case closure rate to defend and this case is closed. There's no more evidence to be found and I guess we'll never know what actually happened…will we? The Rijksmuseum can have their painting back and you and I can move on to other important cases."

"Thank you, Peter. I really do appreciate everything you've done for me."

Peter looked over at Elle glad the conversation was over.

"So what's for dessert?"

Elle stood up and headed for the kitchen with Peter in tow.

"I made some bread pudding after you left, it should still be warm."

Elle was just about to push open the kitchen door with Peter right behind her when she heard the couch creaking. Neal must have stood up.

"Peter? Handcuffs off, please?"

"Don't worry Neal, we'll stay in the kitchen. I'm sure it won't take you too long."