Santa Caffrey

I know it's after Christmas, but I hope you like it anyway.

Summary: Neal loves Christmas and everything associated with it, but his love for the special holiday is threatened when a teenage girl is kidnapped and believed to be dead. He must risk his life and freedom to find the truth.

Warning: A few cuss words, mild violence, and Peter in green tights. Has a short discussion of the rapes and murders of teenage girls. The story does not get graphic

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Neal walked into the bull pen, with a huge smile on his face.

"Jingle bells jingle bells." He sang out as he walked. "Jingle all the way…"

Everyone in the bull pen was now used to him coming in singing, he had been doing it for the past week. They knew the man loved Christmas. His desk was decorated with Christmas ornaments and green garland was wrapped around it. Neal even had a small brightly decorated tree sitting on his desk.

Neal sat down at his desk and tore another page from his calendar. "Only four days left till Christmas." He said.

"What is it with you and Christmas?" Jones asked, from his own desk.

"It's just a wonderful time of year." Neal replied, still smiling.

Peter and Hughes chose that time to walk down the stairs.

"Morning, gentlemen." Neal said. "And what an astounding morning it is."

"Are you sure we shouldn't invoke the random drug testing clause in his deal?" Hughes asked Peter.

"You've been in a chipper mood all week." Peter told the younger man. "It's getting annoying."

"I can't help it." Neal replied. "Christmas always puts me in a chipper mood."

"I should have known." Peter smirked. "You'd love a holiday based on presents."

"Christmas is not based on presents." Neal said, his smile gone. "Christmas is based on faith, love, and joy. Christmas is not something you put a price tag on."

"I know." Peter said, surprised by Neal's reaction and at the sincerity in the younger man's voice.

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Later that day, Neal was standing in the middle of the bullpen. He smiled when he saw Diana walk in.

"Can you come here a minute, Diana?" He asked, with his best charming smile.

"What do you want Caffrey?" She asked, walking over and standing in front of him.

"Look up."

Diana looked up and saw that they were standing under a mistletoe.

"You know what that means, right?" Neal asked with a wink.

"Sure do." She said. Then she turned and called out. "Hey Jones, come here a minute."

Jones walked over and Diana walked off, leaving Neal and Jones standing under the mistletoe.

"What?" Jones asked, confused.

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That evening, Peter and El were sitting at the dinning table eating a late dinner.

"With any luck." Peter said. "I won't have to go back to work until after Christmas."

"That sounds wonderful." El said.

Peter loved his job, loved going in to work. But he was looking forward to a few days alone with his wife.

They heard the door open and then heard Neal's cheerful voice call out. "Good afternoon Burke Family."

"Neal." Peter frowned. "What are you doing here?"

"I came by to ask a favor." Neal said, sitting down across the table from Peter.

"What ever it is, the answer is no." Peter growled.

"You haven't even heard what it is." Neal pointed out.

"The answer is still no."

"Peter." El gently scolded him. "Hear Neal out."

"Thank you, El." Neal said. "I am glad to see Peter's discourteous behavior has not rubbed off on you."

"What is it Neal?" Peter sighed, he hated it when his wife sided with Neal.

"The children's hospital that Sammy goes to is having a Christmas party tomorrow afternoon for the kids." Neal replied. "But the Santa Clause they booked canceled an hour ago, and all of the good Santa's are already booked. The Santa that canceled came with a photographer and other assistants, all of which won't be there now. The hospital has to find a new Santa and helpers now."

"No." Peter said. "I am not spending the day before Christmas Eve in a hospital."

"Come on, Peter." Neal said. "It's for the kids."

"It'll be fun." El said. "I can take the pictures."

"Okay." Peter sighed, he was outnumbered once again. Then he glared at Neal. "I am not dressing as Santa Clause."

"Don't worry." Neal smiled. "Santa is covered."

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The next afternoon, Neal stood in front of a large mirror and admired himself in his Santa suite. He smiled at his reflection, he really did look like Santa Clause. He was in the doctor's lounge at the hospital.

"Neal." Peter's angry voice came trough a closed door. "I am not coming out dressed like this."

"Come on, Peter." Neal said, trying not to smile. "You promised to help, and there's not enough time to find a replacement."

"There is nothing you can say that will make me come out." Peter said, trough gritted teeth. "I did not agree to this."

"Think of all of the little kids that will be disappointed."

"Disappointment is part of life."

"Peter."

"No."

"But."

"No."

Neal was trying to think of a way to convince the older man, when he heard loud grumbling coming from behind the door.

"Something wrong?" Neal asked.

"I can't get the damn zipper undone."

"Come on out here and I'll help you."

"No."

I'm alone." Neal sighed. "No one else is out here."

"You sure?"

"Yes."

"If you're lying, you will be spending Christmas in prison." Peter threatened as he stuck his head into room and scanned it for any more occupants. Convinced that Neal was indeed the only one in the room, he walked in.

Neal tried to hold in his laughter, but couldn't. His whole body shook from the laughter, and tears started rolling down his face.

"Knock it off, Caffrey." Peter snapped, glaring at him. But his outfit depleted the effectiveness of the glare.

Peter was wearing green pointed shoes with red and green jingle bells on them, a pair of tight green tights, a white shirt, a green jacket with jingle bells as decorations, and a green hat with a large white puff on the end.

"Help me with the zipper." Peter growled, as he tried tugging at the stubborn jacket zipper once more.

The door opened and June rushed in, and headed for the two men.

"You two look great." She smiled, grabbing each one by the arm and leading them towards the door. "The kids are ready."

"June." Peter said, as he stopped walking. He hated to walk out on her, hated to disappoint the kids. But there was no way he was going out of the room dressed like an elf. "I need to tell you something."

"It can wait till after the party." June said, tugging him towards the door again. "The kids are getting impatient."

"But…." Peter started, but stopped talking when June pulled him trough the doorway and into a large room that was filled with kids.

"Santa!" Several excited voices cheered.

"Ho Ho Ho!" Neal called out in a deep jolly voice. "Everyone form a line and come talk to Santa. No pushing, I promise everyone will get a turn." He sat down in a large decorated chair that was sat against one of the walls. The children quickly formed a line, talking and laughing.

Peter had to admit, Neal really was doing a great job pretending to be Santa Claus. But of course he was Neal Caffrey, he could impersonate anyone.

Peter sighed, he might as well help out. He started helping the parents and nurses keep the kids in line entertained and in line. And helping the kids who were in wheelchairs, crutches, or who had iv poles. All the while, blushing when the nurses gave him weird looks or snickered. He caught his wife's smile and smiled back, this wasn't so bad after all.

El was also dressed as an Elf, wearing a skirt instead of tights. She was a few feet in front of Neal, taking pictures of the kids sitting on his lap.

"You're too big to be an Elf." A young boy, around nine, said as he looked at Peter.

"Santa needs big Elves to reach the toys on the top shelves at his workshop, Billy." A young girl, a little older then Billy said.

"Oh." Billy said, thinking about the explanation. "That makes sense."

"Excuse me Sir." A little girl around six said, tugging on Peter's jacket.

"Yes Honey."

"Santa's going to see all of us, isn't he?" She asked, looking at Peter with large green eyes. She was almost at the end of the line.

"Of course he will." Peter assured her.

"Good, I have something really important to ask him." She took a step forward as the line moved, then winced in pain and grabbed her stomach.

"Are you okay?" Peter asked, kneeling to check on her. But a nurse and another woman rushed over and started checking on her, so Peter stood back up.

"Maybe we should go home." The woman said, worry evident in her voice.

"I'm okay Mommy." The girl said. "I really need to see Santa."

"Okay, Emily." The woman said, kissing her forehead.

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Neal was having a blast, he loved making kids happy. His smile widened when it was Samantha's turn to sit in his lap and make her Christmas wish.

"Have you been a good girl?" Neal asked in his Santa voice.

"Not really, Santa." She said in a low voice. "Please don't tell Grandma June, but I have a pack of cigarettes under my mattress and I like playing with matches. Oh, and I nailed all of my friend Neal's shoes to the floor this morning after he left."

"So you know it's me?" Neal asked in his normal voice.

"Yes." Samantha laughed. "How did you convince Peter to dress like that?"

"It wasn't easy."

El took their picture, then Samantha walked off and Neal turned to the next child.

"Hello little girl." Neal said, his Santa voice back.

"Hello Santa." A young girl smiled, showing off her missing front teeth.

Neal held out his arms and helped her onto his lap.

"And how are you doing Emily?" Neal asked, reading her name tag.

"Okay." She said. Then her smile faded. "I need your help Santa." She whispered so only Neal could hear.

"What can I help you with?" Neal whispered back.

"Mommy told me not to ask, said that you couldn't help. But you're Santa, you can do anything." She said, looking at Neal with trusting eyes.

"I can try."

"All I want for Christmas is for my sister to come home." Emily whispered.

"Where is your sister?" Neal whispered back.

"I don't know, some bad men took her." Emily said, her voice hitched. "Please bring her back."

Neal wasn't sure what to say, he was completely unprepared for this request. He looked into her eyes and came to a decision. "Missing people isn't Santa's specialty." Neal whispered. "But I have some friends who work with the FBI, and they would be more then happy to look into your sister's case."

"Really?" The little girl's smile was back.

"I can't promise they will find her, but they will look."

"Thank you Santa." She threw her arms around his neck and Neal returned the hug.

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"Admit it, Peter." Neal said, as him and Peter were changing back into their normal clothes. "You had fun."

"I had fun." Peter said.

"Do you remember the little girl named Emily?" Neal wanted to know.

"Yeah." Peter said. "Her stomach was hurting, but she still wanted to see Santa."

"She had a special Christmas wish."

"What was it?"

"Her sister to be brought back."

"Brought back from where?"

"She said some bad men took her."

Peter stopped tying his shoe and looked at the younger man. "We don't handle kidnappings, Neal."

"I told her some friends of Santa's would look into it."

"Neal." Peter hissed. "We are the white collar division."

"It won't hurt to look into it, Peter." Neal said. "It's Christmas."

"I have this weekend off, I don't go back to work until after Christmas."

"A little girl wants her sister back for Christmas."

"Fine." Peter sighed. "But we are not investigating it, only looking into it. Do you know the sister's name?"

"No, but the little girl's name is Emily Peterson. It shouldn't be too difficult to find out who her sister is."

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An hour later, Peter and Neal were in Peter's office. Peter was typing on his computer and Neal was sitting in front of the desk.

"Here we go." Peter said. "Amy Peterson in seventeen-years-old, she was adducted from outside her school a week ago by three men in masks." Peter frowned. "This isn't good. Her biological Father is Tony Kent, a known drug dealer with a bad gambling problem. He signed over all custody of Amy when she was born and has not been in contact with her. But the detective investigating the kidnapping believes that Kent may have arranged her kidnapping to pay off a bookie by the name of Benny Talbot, who likes the company of teenage girls. He is suspected in four rapes and murders of teenage girls"

"Has Talbot or Kent been picked up?" Neal asked.

"Both are missing, hasn't been seen since the kidnapping."

"We have to find her." Neal said.

"I already told you, Neal." Peter said. "This is not a white collar case. The detective who is investigating it is doing a fine job."

"But…."

"Neal, I know you want to help this girl. I do to. But it is not our case. I will call Detective Mason in the morning and offer our assistance, but that is all I can do. If he doesn't want our help, then we can't help."

"Okay." Neal said, even though he had no intention of backing off. He was going to investigate, he was going to find Amy and bring her back to her family.

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The next morning, Neal walked up the pathway to the Peterson home. He knew he didn't have much time, he was three miles out of his two mile radius. But he had to talk to Amy's Mom and Step Dad, he had to learn everything he could.

Neal rung the doorbell and a man in his late forties opened the door.

"Can I help you?" The man asked.

"My name is Neal Caffrey." Neal said, showing him his id. "I work with the FBI."

"Come in." He quickly stepped aside and let Neal in. "Is there any news?"

"No Sir." Neal said. "No new evidence has been discovered. I can't imagine how hard this must be on you, but I need to ask a few questions."

"Anything to bring my baby back." Ashley Peterson said, as she entered the room. "Please, have a seat."

"Thank you."

"We will answer any questions you have." Harold Peterson said. "But we don't know anymore information then we did before, I'm not sure what you could ask us that we haven't already answered."

Husband and wife were sitting side by side on the couch, holding each other's hand.

"I don't have access to those answers." Neal admitted. He had decided to be completely honest with the Petersons. Christmas was a time for honesty, and he didn't feel right lying to the parents of a missing girl

"Why not?" Ashley asked.

"I have not been assigned to this case." Neal replied. "A friend of mine helped plan the party at the children's hospital that you attended yesterday. She recruited me to play Santa, Emily asked for Santa's help in bringing her sister home."

"I told her not to." Ashley said, as a few tears came to her eyes. "She misses Amy so much."

"Emily told me, well told Santa, that she wasn't supposed to ask for her sister's return. But she believes that Santa can do anything. I am not assigned to this case, but I am currently not scheduled to investigate a case until after Christmas. So I have a lot of spare time."

"We would really appreciate the help." Harold said. "I know the police are doing everything they can, but another hand out there would help speed things along."

"Has the police shared any leads with you?" Neal asked.

"They believe that Amy's biological Father had her kidnapped to pay off a bookie." Ashley said.

"Do you believe he's capable of that?"

"Yes. We dated for a few weeks, and then I broke it off. Tony had a temper and, even though he never hit me, I was afraid of him. When I discovered I was pregnant, I told him and he was furious. He said that he didn't want to be a Daddy, so he signed over all rights to me. I didn't hear anything from him until three weeks ago; he showed up on my doorstep and demanded money. He said that if I didn't pay him, he would sue for custody.

I told him no judge in their right mind would ever give him custody. So he said if he didn't get the money, he would tell Amy who he was and that I kidnapped her when she was a baby. I told him that Amy would never believe him, and told him to leave before I phoned the police. He left."

They heard footsteps and looked up to see six-year-old Emily walking into the room. The little girl was clutching a worn teddy bear to her chest.

"Come here, Honey." Ashley held out her hand, her daughter rushed to her and climbed into her lap.

"Hello Emily." Neal smiled at her. Emily turned her heard and buried her face into her Mom's shoulder.

"Emily." Harold said, this is Neal. He's a friend of Santa's."

"You are?" The little girl asked, looking at Neal.

"Yes Ma'am, I am."

"Are you going to bring Amy back?"

"I am going to try."

Neal asked them a few more questions, then thanked them and left. A few minutes later, his phone rung. Neal looked at the caller id and sighed, it was Peter.

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Please let me what you thought of it.