Opportunity Steals Away

By: PaBurke

Summary: A certain general is checking the local talent.

Fandoms: White Collar and SG1

Disclaimer: I didn't steal them, I just borrowed them. Right, Neal? I didn't get any money from it.

Peter Burke stripped off the black tie with a sigh of relief. He wore a suit every day for work, but somehow a tuxedo was much, much worse. Or maybe it was the pointless politics and petty maneuverings associated with it that he hated.

"How was the party, Peter?" his wife asked with a smile.

Or maybe it was because he had been forbidden to take his wonderful wife. "Horrible."

El grinned at him. "Are you allowed tell me why? Neal said that it was going to be a stakeout, inside the building for once and with really good food. Just waiting around to see if someone would attempt a robbery."

"Well the host had been correct. He did get robbed during the function, but his main suspect was the air force general who had been interviewing Neal and me since he had cornered us at his arrival."

"Did the general do it?"

iPeter watched Neal watch as General O'Neill brushed off the host's accusations. Peter absorbed the general's smug sense of accomplishment and Neal's growing admiration. He then decided that Neal didn't need to be learning any new tricks. So he drew the ex-thief, okay, thief away from the argument and toward the safe.

The walk-in safe still had all the money as the first time Peter had inspected it. It still had the jewels and bonds. The two 'secure' cases in the corner were now open and empty. According to the safe computer, O'Neill's biometrics had been used to unlock it. Why were O'Neill's biometrics a key to this safe?

According the Neal, this type of safe computer was impossible to fool./i

"Yeah. I don't know how he did, but Neal is sure that he masterminded the theft."

"Does Neal have an idea of how?"

"He's stumped too."

"So what now?" El asked.

"We send the computer system down to the techies and see if they can figure out how to get the safe to accept a lie. According to Neal and all of Neal's contacts, that particular safe, the ICarter-Haley 2000/i, has Inever/i successfully been broken into. There're only four of them in the world, three of them hold governmental secrets in the US and the fourth one is used by the Luvre in France. Some sort of hush-hush negotiation appeasement," explained Peter.

El frowned. "Then how did the host have one?"

Peter grinned at his wife and kissed her quickly as a reward for her insight. "That's what we asked him and we didn't receive a good answer, something about buying intellectual property, holding governmental contracts and certain investments. The problem is the paperwork is classified up to wazzoo. No one knows who designed or manufactured the safe. Even crooks are mystified."

"Who could up your security clearance so that you can solve the case?"

"The general," Peter was certain of that. "That could be why the whole conversation felt like a job interview. If he wants to know how the host got his hands on a governmental prototype, Neal and I could probably find the source."

El examined his face and read the uncertainty. "Do you want that type of clearance?"

"No," Peter answered quickly.

IPeter watch as the general stepped away to answer his phone. Peter watched as the general's attitude changed from a cat playing with a mouse to a panther on the hunt. Peter watched as he started snapping orders into the mouthpiece and jogged out of the house. He hung up and then called several people in a row to inform them of the problem.

One of them might have been the United States Presidential Chief of Staff.

A car pulled to the front of the house at the general's imperious wave. A young air force officer –did he resemble General O'Neill?- was driving. The general told him something and the kid burned rubber in his hurry to leave./I

"No. The general uses every resource at his fingertips. I don't think he'd let us go after the case, especially if we were successful. I got the impression that the man puts in a lot of travel and so do his people."

El shrugged and kissed him again. "I'm happier if you come home almost every night. I don't like the idea of you traveling."

"Me neither."