All characters © Jeff Eastin
Summary: a little Thanksgiving piece. My first White Collar fic, so I'm still getting a hang for these characters. This is more of a test than anything. Be gentle!
The Snow is Falling, Agent Burke is Calling
Neal Caffrey gave Mozzie a once-over as he closed the door to his suite. "I told you Moz, Peter's gone for the weekend," he said, eyes lingering on the fake goatee. "I preferred the real one," he added, almost as an afterthought.
" 'Perfect paranoia is perfect awareness,' " Mozzie recited in the tone he took when he was quoting someone memorable. With tentative hands, he surreptitiously peeled off his stick-on facial hair and sunglasses after shrugging out of his coat. A light dusting of late November's snow fell from the coat's shoulders as he did so.
A slight narrowing of the eyes was Neal's only outward indication that he couldn't immediately place the quotation. Mozzie was a fan of the classics, after all, so it was unusual that Neal wasn't able to pinpoint the quoter.
"Let's get to work on the music box," was all he said as he ensconced into the leather recliner by the window and rubbed his temples. "June's gone to Florida too, so we'll finally have some peace and quiet."
"I gotcha, I gotcha," Mozzie said, waving his hands dismissively. "You mean I get to work on the music box while you drink wine. Aren't I usually the connoisseur?"
"It's been a long day, Moz." It had. Neal didn't even want to talk about the lines at the cafe, nor the traffic coming back from the Bureau. Just the thinking about it made him shudder, which was something difficult to do when you were talking about Neal Caffrey.
With only a look Mozzie immediately spotted what was wrong. Neal normally didn't get this irritated over a little people-traffic, but Mozzie was confident in his deductive acumen. "Ah yes, the day for 'everything Thy goodness sends,' " he mused.
Neal knew that one, and permitted himself a half-smile. "Emerson."
"Right you are. We've always spent Thanksgiving alone," Mozzie said, pouring what was left of Neal's pinot into a twin set of glasses. "What made you think this one would be any different?"
"Nothing," Neal shrugged, reaching over and flipping open a large tome on music box making. Chapter XXI: Interchangeable Cylinders, the title read. How fun.
Mozzie blinked. "Don't tell me you were expecting something from the Suit?"
Neal stared at his reflection in the sash windows, pupils large and round in the night as he watched the snow gather on the corner sidewalk. "Nah. Peter's out of town, anyway."
"Whatever you say. 'We lie best when we lie to ourselves,' Neal."
Neal couldn't tell if that was meant to be a quotation or not. With a quick crack of his knuckles and a tightening of his scarf from Mozzie, they decided to dismiss the subject and opened the first history books on Russian bronze antiques.
An hour later, after two glasses of pinot and eight consecutive plays of the box's tune, Neal stood up. "I don't get this melody at all," he exclaimed in all honesty, his lips thinned in frustration. "There's no code in the original song—" he was interrupted by the whiny buzz of his blackberry on the table. Mozzie was closer, so he got to the phone first.
"Hello?" Mozzie listened curiously for a minute. "Sure, I'll put him on." He tossed the handset to Neal. "It's the Suit."
Neal reached over to catch the phone. "Peter? What's up?"
"There was a change of plans," Peter Burke's voice replied from the other end, slightly crackly in the speaker. "Our flight was canceled, so we're back at home. 'Potential blizzard,' they said."
"A shame. Did you need me for anything in particular, or were you just calling to complain about it?"
"Well..." Neal could almost see Elizabeth there, giving her husband a nudge from the other line. "We were going to have a late dinner, and were wondering if, ah..." another pause, which Neal assumed was most definitely a push from Elizabeth, "you...and Mozzie...would like to join us."
Neal raised his eyebrows and gave Mozzie a look. In response, Mozzie merely jostled his shoulders in a shrug that said all too clearly that there were better things to do on Thanksgiving than read up on ancient artifacts. Neal's headache silently agreed with him.
"Peter, I'm touched," Neal grinned. And the funny thing was that it was actually true. "Moz, how would you feel about having dinner at an FBI agent's house?" he asked, holding the phone away from his ear.
"Well, I suppose I can let public relations slide this time," Mozzie replied, loud enough so that Peter could hear.
"If you're really sure, Peter," Neal said, bringing the phone closer, "we'll be there at eight. And don't forget that Moz is lactose—"
"—of which he's reminded me on several occasions," Peter grumbled dryly. "I can't believe I let El talk me into this. Remember, standard rules apply: feed nothing to Satchmo and keep the little guy away from the silver. And the library."
"Will do. I bet Elizabeth makes a mean roast turkey, doesn't she?"
He could almost feel Peter beaming on the other end. "That she does, Neal. And get this, she makes real espresso too."
"Looking better already," Neal smiled, eyeing his cold glass of pinot, and disconnected.
"You're happy," Mozzie remarked, looking at Neal with an expression that bordered on a smirk but didn't quite reach it.
Neal checked that his tie was straight in the full-length mirror by his bed. "I can't even remember the last time I had a turkey," he admitted. "So yes, a little."
"You know what they say, 'the secret stays locked within not for want of a tellar but for want of an understanding ear.' "
Neal turned to him then and frowned, finally placing the quotation from earlier. "Since when do you quote Stephen King?" he asked.
"Hey, the man's got some pretty handy stuff," Mozzie protested as he grabbed his fake goatee. Neal stopped him with a look before he could put it on.
"It's only Peter's," he said, "we'll be fine."
Strangely, Mozzie felt okay as they walked through the snow. They made an unlikely pair, he thought as Neal ran a hand through dark, nitid hair that seemed to automatically part to the right. Neal was everything he was not, for better or for worse. Tall, lean, and with eyes like a Huskie's, Neal Caffrey seemed at odds next to Mozzie, who was five-four, myopic, and "follically challenged," as he liked to put it. But they had a lot more in common than one would think. Mozzie preferred to humbly call himself a jack of all trades, but in reality, both he and Neal were closer to polymaths than anything. They were both con-men on the yellow underbelly of the law, and both were currently going to have Thanksgiving dinner at the most talented FBI agent in the Federal Bureau's home in less than an hour.
And yet, as the Burke's drew nearer with its lit windows glowing like fireflies in the night, it had never seemed so right.