A/N: This fic is set pre-series for White Collar. It is AU after the episode of 'Forging Bonds'. This fic is designed as an introductory fic; I have other longer stories I'm working on, this one was the only one I was completely happy with. It's only short though. And the chapter titles are just randomly selected words.
Rated T to be safe (very mild language, very mild suggestive adult theme)
There are no Spoilers.
I do not own White Collar or its characters.
Know your Suspect
Chapter 1: Argentina
As a waitress sashayed past him, the blue eyed young man leant back in his chair and grinned. The woman felt a thrill as the man's eyes followed her lithe frame. He gave an appreciative nod and tipped an imaginary hat before turning away from her.
The young man scanned the crowd; he was waiting; waiting for a man he considered to be his friend. His eyes lit up in recognition as another man edged his way through the entrance partially blocked by a family that was attempting to leave the restaurant. The newcomer finally reached the table and instead of smiling in response he arched an eyebrow.
"Are you crazy Caffrey?"
The young man- Caffrey- chuckled and rose to his feet, "aw come on Peter; I just came back from Argentina, thought it would be nice to let you know I was back."
"Argentina?" The newcomer- Peter- twisted his mouth in a look of tired disbelief and shook Caffrey's extended hand, "I know you were in France Neal."
Neal Caffrey neither confirmed nor denied the lie; he simply sat back down and lounged, relaxed, while Peter dumped his overcoat on another chair and sat weary.
"You look tired Peter," Neal noted disapprovingly, "You're not working too hard are you?"
"Maybe," Peter stared pointedly at Neal, "why? You want to lighten my caseload? Confess to all your crimes and I'm sure eighty percent of my caseload will magically vanish."
Neal smiled unfazed, "I haven't ordered yet. Drink?"
Peter shook his head reluctantly, "I can't."
Neal crooned, "why not Peter? You're off the clock aren't you?"
Peter gave a pointed glare, "exactly, I can't even disguise this lunch as work- I shouldn't be having Lunch with you."
Neal nodded; the Agent did have a point, "so why are you here?"
Peter shuffled his chair forward and leant against the table grateful that the chairs were at least comfortable, "I'm hoping you'll let something slip."
Neal smiled; at least the Agent was honest, "Now, now Agent Burke, I've told you before, I'm innocent."
Peter Burke shook his head then waved to a waitress passing by a few tables away, "Neal, I'll catch you one day."
Neal seemed to find this amusing, though he knew Peter was perfectly serious, "Oh I know some day, you'll arrest me for something I didn't do, but until then, relax; enjoy Lunch- it's on me."
Peter ignored Neal, the young man was always like this; not getting through to him was nothing new, "what name is on your card this time?"
Neal gave a polite look of confusion, "I don't know what you're talking about Peter; I only have the one name; Neal Caffrey."
Peter gave up then, the waitress had arrived anyway.
"Hello I'm Natalie, I'll be your server today," The woman gave a blinding smile but it didn't reach her eyes.
Neal smiled in response but didn't bother with flirting; he already had his entertainment sitting opposite him at the table.
"Natalie," Peter nodded, "Can we get a couple of menus?"
"Of course, I'll return shortly," she answered in a chipper tone then left, deftly interweaving through the occupied tables.
Peter was about to ask Neal how France had been and then maybe where Kate was but another man had approached seemingly out of the blue.
"Agent Burke," The man was African American in appearance and was smiling cautiously.
Peter smiled and stood, "Jones."
They shook hands and Peter was all for walking Jones out to the front of the restaurant before Neal stood and cleared his throat extending his hand to the man, "Jones was it?"
Jones turned to Neal accepting Neal's hand and giving a fierce shake, "Agent Jones- yes."
Neal smiled even more, "Agent? You work with Peter then?"
Jones nodded, "well, I work for him, he's my boss."
Peter pursed his lips and spoke stiffly hardly able to believe that Jones hadn't recognised Neal, "Agent Jones just joined our unit two days ago."
Neal gestured to a third seat, "Well by all means please join us."
Jones accepted the offer after glancing at Peter and pulled out the chair. Peter followed suit nervously; how exactly would he explain to Jones why he was having lunch with one of their most prominent suspects?
"You never told me your name..." Jones pointed out amiably to Neal.
Peter opened his mouth about to tell Jones the truth but Neal interrupted, "Mike- Mike West."