87 Riverside Dr, New York City
"Can't beat that view."
Jim lowered his paper and blinked blearily at McCoy standing by the door.
"You still look like shit," McCoy told him bluntly.
"It's only been two days." Jim rolled his eye—the other was too puffy to do anything more than stay shut—and lifted up the paper again.
There was a quiet, hollow sounding thunk. Jim turned back and stared at the wine bottle in the center of the table. He looked up at McCoy. The agent shrugged.
"A deal's a deal." McCoy tilted the bottle towards him. "Good-bye. That's all the bottle says?"
Jim brushed his knuckles across the label. "That's what I think."
McCoy fell silent. He shoved his hands in his pockets and stood by the table, studying the bottle.
Jim cleared his throat. "Coffee?"
McCoy shrugged. "Sure. Why not?" McCoy paused. "Italian roast?"
"Is that cream or milk in there?"
"Please, as if I would destroy it that way."
"Alright, then." It took some effort not to snicker when McCoy sat down and poured himself a cup.
Jim watched as McCoy took a deep appreciative drink before speaking.
McCoy nodded and turned to look at the view.
"I know you don't think it will help to have this." He touched the wine bottle again brushing his fingers across it. "But I think I need it right now."
"I know." McCoy exhaled slowly. He took another sip of coffee, his face thoughtful as he considered something on the horizon.
"My father was terminally ill," McCoy told him quietly, a beat later, still not looking over. "Pretty much was given a timeline and that was it. But my mother…She was desperate. Looked at alternatives: treatments in Europe, Eastern medicine, everything…" He shook his head.
McCoy sighed. "Then this guy approached, this…this—"
"Con artist," Jim guessed quietly.
"Yeah," McCoy said shortly, "He came in, showed them a lot of convincing data, offered this blasted treatment, pills and powders…" McCoy darkened. "If they had only come to me, I could have—we buried my father a lot sooner than we should have. Four months later I was in training for the agency and set on finding him. There were fourteen other families just like mine that man used like a personal banking system."
Jim cast his eyes down at the table. "I guess I can understand why you think we're all alike," Jim relented.
"No, not all of you."
Jim blinked at McCoy. The agent smiled faintly at Jim.
Tentatively, Jim smiled back. He went back to his coffee.
"But that doesn't mean I'm not keeping my eye on you."
Jim snorted. "My very own stalker. I'll have to mark that down in my journal."
"You have a journal?" McCoy sat up.
Chuckling, McCoy reached over to snag a cranberry muffin. Jim glared at him when McCoy gestured vaguely for the butter by his hand. The agent didn't relent until Jim begrudgingly slid it over.
McCoy shrugged. "Maybe not so much a stalker." He gave Jim a crooked smile. "Maybe more like a friend."
"I don't know what I'd do with a friend." Jim said casually, pretending to consider this, "Would you plan heists with me?"
"Show me the forged art the F.B.I. has in its evidence vaults?"
"Be my wing man as I ask Nyota out?"
"Hell, no. Though it might be fun to watch her break you like a toothpick if you tried."
"Doesn't sound like having a friend would be much fun then," Jim muttered but there was a gleam of something just a little bit pleased in his face. Warmth spread across his chest like a blanket over him.
"So, what do I get out of this then?"
"Beats the hell out of me." Leonard shrugged, looking distinctly ill at ease now.
"Do I get to call you Bones? If we're friends I should get to call you whatever I want, right."
"Not in this life time." Leonard objected even as Jim interrupted him.
"So…Bones, heard you're going on vacation?" Jim said casually as soon as McCoy popped a buttered morsel in his mouth.
"How did you…" McCoy coughed. He covered his mouth with the napkin Jim threw at him, his narrowed eyes glaring over his fist."Never you mind."
Jim smirked. He folded the paper. "So I guess you decided."
McCoy shrugged, but Jim could see him fighting back a grin. "Going to fly back with her to Atlanta. Talked to my ex. Thought this year I'll do the back-to-school shopping, let my girl be the tour guide for once. Take me to her favorite museums."
"Dinosaurs?" Jim guessed.
"You know, that makes 'Bones' all the more poignant," Jim wheedled.
"I already have a name I was born with," McCoy grumbled.
"So is your face right now."
Jim sniffed and sat back in his seat. He looked out into the view.
"So," Jim said. "Going on vacation."
McCoy pried himself away from his coffee long enough to reply. "I'll be back in a week."
Jim looked McCoy up and down. "Still wearing that suit," Jim noted.
The glower above the cup rim was comical. "I love this suit." McCoy sat back.
"Aren't you going to ask me?"
Jim took a sip from his cup. He deliberately took his time setting down the cup. His hand trembled a little. "Did they make a decision?"
McCoy pulled out a card fold. He grinned and flipped it open to reveal a badge and Jim's photo ID. "Figured if we didn't, you'd end up making one of these on your own."
A knot loosened in his chest. Jim laughed as he took the badge. "I'm official!"
"You're a consultant and I own you for four years." McCoy glared at Jim's arched eyebrow. "You know what I mean." He cleared his throat. "You okay with that?"
"Yeah." Jim spared the bottle a glance though.
Raising his eyes, Jim found McCoy studying him with a serious expression.
"This is a second chance you're holding there."
"I know," Jim said before McCoy could continue. "I just don't get why you're giving me this second chance."
McCoy chewed his lower lip as he considered Jim.
"Because you showed me you're not like every con," McCoy said finally.
"That's what I'd been trying to tell you," Jim reminded him without any heat.
McCoy shrugged. "I'm a slow listener. But I'm listening now."
Speechless, Jim could only nod again.
McCoy coughed in a fist and mumbled about a meeting. He rose to his feet, but hesitated, his eyes meeting with Jim's.
"You'll be here when I get back?" McCoy asked quietly.
Pulling up his pants leg to reveal the tracker, Jim chuckled wanly. "Where else am I gonna go?" He sobered when he realized McCoy wasn't laughing. "Yeah. I'll be here."
McCoy nodded, looking satisfied for some reason. To Jim's amusement, McCoy drained his cup before leaving.
"Hey!" Jim shouted after him. "Take a picture under a dinosaur, Bones!" At McCoy's one-fingered response, Jim smirked. "It'll be funny!"
"No, it won't!" McCoy snarled back before he slammed the door to his apartment.
Jim chuckled but as soon as his eyes drifted to the bottle, he sobered. Jim eyed the holder McCoy had left for him. He opened it. For the first time since finding Sam and Eddy gone, the drifting sensation inside him settled. Friends, huh? He considered the badge.
Author's Notes: This had been an adventure for me, venturing into Big Bang territory and into my second STXI fic. Thank you all for reading this revisit to the White Collar pilot. And yes, I kept Satchmo in because come on! It's Satchmo! LOL.
There are a few superstars involved in helping make this fic possible and a delight in developing: My betas myfieldnotes and penfold_x helped untangled the "has" and "had", "in" and "on", "there" and "their" and stunt coordination. Editing a Big Bang and my constant pestering of "but would it be better, if…" couldn't been fun! I would check out my Livejournal page for the illustrated version accompanied by a fab fanmix. The link to my LJ is in my profile.
Guys, thank you so much for the reception here. I must admit, as much fun as I had with this fic, I was also painfully aware that some might think of it (ST borrowing a WC pilot) would be a cheat. This originally started out as a conversation, grew viral among my muses and goodness, I couldn't stop writing! It's been fun and yes, very tempting to revisit but it will take some thought because I don't want to just twisting the WC episodes around. You guys out there deserve better from me.
I am extremely grateful for your support, your uplifting reviews and your readership. Thank you!