Hey fingers-falling-upwards here.
I firmly advise you read below to avoid intense confusion.
Technically, this is a crossover. However it has become PAINFULLY obvious that no one has seen white collar lol. Which is fine. This is a crossover between "White Collar" and "Hetalia." I love both of them dearly, but knowledge of both is not necessary. You can freely enjoy this as a story in your own section of preference. You may get confused. Oh well. Die hard fans probably won't care. Anything to get their fix. (Been there, done that.)
All you need to know is that Neal Caffrey is an ex-con, (art thief mainly.) He now works for the white collar bureau with his partner Peter Burke. Mozzie is an extremely odd friend of Neal's. He is paranoid about the Gov. and is still a thief. He does not get along with Peter.
I do not own "White Collar" or "Hetalia"
"The day begins"
Neal Caffrey, 'reformed' international art thief, strode into the federal building of white collar crimes at nine that morning. The soft click of his expensive Italian shoes on the tile floor was barely audible over the low murmur of activity. His gait was self-assured, and the slight smile that played upon his lips seemed designed to capture the curiosity of his audience as surely as a magician's top hat.
Curiosity was a valuable weapon. In the hands of a master, it provided an unparalleled sense of allure and mystique which could be used to sway even the most apathetic and misanthropic personalities. And Neal was a master of this art.
He chuckled inwardly as he met a few onlookers' eyes, managing to make the coffees he was carrying look more like an accessories. There were always onlookers when you possessed such capturing features like Neal had.
The suave man suddenly flinched as he heard a shout echoing loudly down from the other end of the hall. He hurried away, ignoring the inquisitive glances thrown his way.
"Good morning, Ne—" He brushed past the pretty secretary named Amanda without a glance or even the usual flirting. He heard it again, and his pace doubled, erring on the level of the uncouth power walk.
Neal had just reached the elevator when he heard someone call out his name.
"Neal! Hold the elevator!"
He frantically pushed the close door buttons to the alarm of the other passengers. It was to no avail, and his partner (and occasional friend), Peter Burke, slid through the elevator doors, catching his midsection awkwardly. In the awkward silence, the doors reflexively opened again to allow the entry of the man. The federal agent panted slightly, showing that he had, in fact, run down the hallway to catch up to the debatably reformed-con. Inwardly, Neal groaned at how embarrassing Peter could be sometimes and the other man didn't seem to know it! Outwardly though, he gave a smooth smile.
"Good morning, Peter. Why do you look like you ran to work today?" Neal raised his eyebrow, smothering a smile as the older man glared.
"Didn't you hear me call—" he huffed, stare unrelenting. "I was yelling down the hall—" He just frowned and abandoned it. "I swear, one of these days," he muttered, leaving the threat idle and open ended. Neal tried to appear sheepish.
"Sorry, Peter, I didn't hear a thing."
Peter just rolled his eyes.
"I'm not even going to comment on the irony of you running from me," Peter remarked, finally catching his breath.
"I told you I was going to pick you up today," Peter grumbled, giving Neal a look as the elevator began crawling up the building.
"And I left a message on your phone saying I had a ride to work," Neal said, turning on Peter and shooting said look right back at the other man. Peter didn't even bat an eyelash.
"While I was at your house I ran into June," Peter remarked off-handedly, taking pleasure in Neal's slight twitch, before he continued on at a relaxed pace, "She was panicking, because apparently she was going to miss her flight to Europe because her taxi was late. I lent her my car and took the taxi, she told me her driver would drop of my car later." Peter mumbled something that vaguely sounded like "Damn rich people."
"Anyways, the point is that we need to be updated on your living situation; at all times!" He threw extra emphasis on the last three words.
"What am I five? I don't need a babysitter Peter," Neal remarked in an offended tone.
"Yeah, well when your "landlady" leaves you all alone in a multi-million dollar penthouse, this might become liability for us," Peter intoned with an extra dose of sarcasm onto the end, particularly at the word landlady seeing as Neal paid nest to nothing when it came to rent.
"At the very least we need to be informed about what is going on so we can act appropriately," Peter continued.
"What—Geez, Peter. I thought we were beyond all the petty little doubts. Besides, robbing the house I live in? That's a little low class for me."
He looked affronted at such a suggestion. In all actuality, the reason he left early was to avoid Peter finding out about this. Mozzie had said he wanted to plan something later this week, and if they knew June would be out of town, they would no doubt tighten the security on Neal. He really didn't want that.
Neither man seemed to realize the strange looks they were gathering from the other members of the compartment until Neal noticed that people were gradually shifting away from him. Great, now everyone probably thought he was a kleptomaniac or something. He was grateful when the bell rang and together they stepped from the elevator into the bullpen.
"By the way, did Elle like the wine I gave you?" Neal asked, as he gave Peter one of the two coffee cups in his hand.
"Yeah, yeah, sure she did."
Neal frowned at the distracted reply, wondering what had Peter so worked up. Peter caught Jones' arm as he passed on his way to his desk. "Hey, do you know who's in my office? And besides that, who let him in there?"
He pointed to the glass wall of his office that was clearly visible from the entrance, and low and behold there was a figure hunched over his desk, back turned so that only a mess of blonde hair was visible.
"Oh him? He got here a few hours ago with some pretty heavy accompaniment," Agent Cinton Jones explained.
Peter's brow furrowed as he took a swig of his coffee.
"Like cop transport? Because I really don't need to be dealing with another criminal so early."
He sighed, ignoring Neal's indignant "Hey! Mostly suspected criminal!" as Jones smiled.
"Maybe you should consider a change in careers then. And no, not cop transport, more like secret servicetransport."
Neal's eyes widened comically, and Peter nearly spit out his coffee.
"The secret service?"he asked incredulously at Jones' rueful nod.
What in the world was the Secret service, the elite guard for the president of the United States, doing at the white collar division? Peter was pretty sure he would have gotten a memo if the president was visiting. Or at least he hoped he would have. Not to mention that from what he could see the guy in his office was wearing jeans. People who were transported by the secret service simply did not wear jeans.
"What is this guy? The president?" Peter asked snidely as he stalked up the stairs with Jones and Caffrey at his heel. He refrained from entering, trying to gauge all he could from his mysterious guest.
"I have no clue who he is. Hughes took his handler to his office the moment they arrived and told him to have a seat in yours."
Peter glanced across the way to Hugh's office and noticed he seemed to be having a row with an intimidatingly large, suit-covered man. Actually, it was more like Hughes was yelling at him while the man just sat there stoically.
That kind of stoicism reminded Neal of a wall. He had known many such men in his life of brief imprisonments.
"Handler?" Peter asked with a knowing grin.
"You should have seen the way he was guiding him. Like some dog at the show." Jones smiled back before continuing, "Albeit a much protected dog. It was just a sea of suits. You can only assume the guy was floating somewhere in the middle."
They shared a chuckle.
"Well, he's not the president, that much is sure," Neal observed, having walked smoothly in and taken Peter's usual seat across the desk.
"Neal!" he hissed. The con-man just waved him off.
"It's okay, he's sleeping. Ah, drooling, to be more accurate," he answered, much to Peter's horror as he noticed the wet documents on his desk.
"Though his son is still a possibility; this kid can't be more than twenty." Neal remarked, and Peter took notice of his youth as he not so carefully drew the slobbered papers from under the man.
"Great, just great." Peter sighed, looking at the ruined reports; no way could he turn these in to Hughes.
"It's going to take a week of all-nighters to redo these. Elle's not going to be happy about this," he bemoaned, throwing the smudged inky mass into the waste bin.
"Well, maybe if you explained the situation to Hughes, maybe he'll understand. . ." Recognizing that the word "Hughes" and the word "understand" were antonyms, Jones cut himself off as Peter gave him a distinct looks.
"Abandon all hope," Neal answered in lieu for Jones.
"What am I going to tell Elle?" Peter groaned. Neal patted his shoulders in a show of sympathy.
"You can deal with your wife on your own time, Burke," Hughes snapped, stepping into the office. The hulking man followed; though, he had to duck to avoid hitting the glass.
"Ah, good morning sir," Peter greeted as his eyes travelled over to the tall man beside him.
The man was definitely secret service material. He was 6 ½ feet tall, easily. Massive arms attached to broad shoulders, seemingly contained only by the official-looking black suit in which he was clothed. His face was attractive enough, if a little rough-looking. A square chin jutted out from thin, pressed lips, clean shaven, as was the rest of his face. His black hair was shorn close to his crown–no doubt as was expected by his employers. He looked like he had some Latino heritage from the pigmentation of his skin.
His dark, sparkling eyes regarded them somewhat coldly as they raked about the room finally settling upon his charge. The stony expression changed and he sighed somewhat resignedly as he approached the sleeping teen clearing his throat. It really was a wonder that he had managed to sleep through all of this.
"Sir… Sir, please get up." He sounded weary, though that faded as the young man snored on. Was Neal imagining the twitch that seemed to be developing between the bodyguards brows?
"Sir. Get up. Now. WE ARE IN PUBLIC."
He shook the teen only to be waved aside and gifted with a few unintelligibly mumbles.
"ALFRED JONES! GET UP!" The bod shouted, making the others wince.
Alfred shot up from his chair like it was on fire. His eyes were wild, and he patted down his hair frantically.
"Shit! Arthur, what time is it? I have to catch a . . . plane . . ." His frenzy faded, and his hands froze as he trailed off as he noticed the company he was in.
"Ah… I caught the plane earlier, huh?" The askew glasses dropped off his head into their rightful place, punctuating this statement.
He scratched his head in a sheepish gesture as he pushed the lens up his nose. The bodyguard just shook his head, as though this was a regular occurrence.
"Mr. Jones, you're disgraceful."
Agent Jones looked anxious when he heard this, but calmed when he realized the guard was addressing the boy.
"Alfred, meet Special Agent Reece Hughes, Agent Jones, Agent Burke, and his partner, Neal Caffrey."
The boy energetically shook their hands in the order they were presented.
So this was the notorious Neal Caffery huh? He didn't look like a criminal. Criminals were supposed to be all ugly and twisted looking. He looked like some kind of model. It always had to be the pretty ones, didn't it?
"You guys aren't as special as Special Agent Hughes, huh?" he asked.
His bodyguard grumbled at the observation,
"I didn't think it was necessary to use all of their full titles; they are all Special Agents." He hated when Alfred acted stupid; mostly because he was so good at it.
"Ah, cool. And his last name is Jones too! That's awesome!"
"Alfred," the guard hissed, and Alfred jumped.
"Oh yeah! I'm Alfred F. Jones! Nice ta meetcha!"
"Nice to meet you, too?" Peter returned, and there was an awkward lull.
"So, is it take your kid to work day, or is there some way I can help you?"
Alfred laughed at this. Long and obnoxiously. "Me and Alex? Naw, he's a little young to be having a kid my age!"
He tapped the newly dubbed Alex like one might tap a car. The bodyguard hovered behind him, with a slight twitch to his lips that Neal might almost call a smile.
"I'm guessing that you haven't explained the situation to them yet?" Alex raised an eyebrow at Hughes, who responded gruffly,
"Been busy. Not that you gave us much forewarning about your arrival."
"I am sorry for any inconvenience we may have caused, but as you are aware, Mr. Jones' safety is out top priority. We had to move fast."
Hughes grunted in acknowledgement. Then turning to the three he spoke: "They have found Gilbert Stuart's lost portrait of Benjamin Franklin."
Neal's eyes widened as they slapped a photo of it onto the table. He snatched it up and scanned it over hungrily.
"No way…" he trailed off.
"I know, right!" Alfred smiled, nodding happily.
"Uhm, what's so…" Peter trailed off, gesturing. Neal pried his attentions from the picture towards Peter as he explained.
"Gilbert Stuart has done many famous paintings, including his well-known oil painting of George Washington, The Lansdowne Portrait. He produced many paintings of the high class when America was first starting out. It was said that Benjamin Franklin commissioned him for a portrait. However, the portrait was supposedly lost in 1814 when the English and Canadians attacked the capital and set fire to the White House."
Peter let out a low whistle. "Who knew Canadian's could be so feisty, eh?" he joked.
"You obviously haven't seen 'em during hockey season! My brother gets super worked up, it's like he's a different person!" Alfred answered, wide-eyed, and Jones chuckled at this.
"I have cousins up there, and they get really excited. My aunt punched someone last year when a brawl broke out." Agent Jones smiled, and Hughes shot him a look.
"Err, sorry for interrupting. You were saying?"
Alex coughed and picked up the narration. "Anyways, there is documentation that some British soldiers plundered the White House when they burned it down, so there is a chance that one of them could have taken the Benjamin Portrait. But nothing ever cropped up."
"I'm guessing someone has come forward with it?" Peter asked.
"Yes. It was found in Russia this past week, and we have sent a retrieval team. They don't seem very willing to part with it, though, especially after they heard about its unusual circumstances."
Alfred's posture gradually became tenser as Hughes continued to explain.
The picture of one of his greatest supporters, friend, and creator was discovered, and he longed to look at it. But now Ivan—no, Russia, he seethed inwardly—was being a jerk about it. Dangling it in front of his face but making up all these excuses not to hand it over. That damn communist. Alfred would give him a piece of his mind when he next saw him. Teach him not to play games with America. He was just sore he lost their last chess game.
The others were beginning to notice Alfred with a growing sense of unease as his form radiated anger and power in a most undiluted form. Where was the absent-minded teen from but moments ago?
Neal was going to say something when Alex bent down and whispered something in the young man's ear that Neal couldn't quite catch, but it made Alfred relax his shoulders a bit and smile with gratitude. Then Alex gave a rare smile and whispered something else.
"Yes! You're really going to take me to McDonald's afterwards? Ah! No, it's too late to back out, I'm holding you to your word!" Alfred's smile was wide and Neal was having trouble picturing the angry look on such an open face.
The other men just looked at each other, unease at the sudden switch of personalities. Maybe Alfred had a Bi-polar disorder. Alex sighed and nodded his head.
"Sweet! It's been forever since I had a Big Mac!" He punched the air somewhat childishly.
"Alfred… It's been less than ten hours, assuming you ate at the McDonald's in England, which I know you did," he finished somewhat sharply.
"Well, yeah, I ate one before I got on my flight, but that was, like, forever ago! Stupid England… Living so damn far away," he pouted. They paid no mind to his unusual phrasing of it, but Alex kicked his chair for good measure.
"Alfred, don't swear it's rude," he chided, giving his charge a peculiar look. Alfred seemed confused. Alex sure was taking this whole 'treating-Alfred-like-a-kid' thing pretty far… Unless…
"Oh... OH! Right! Sorry, 'bout that," he apologized.
"It's a terrible habit of his," Alex provided, and Alfred nodded zealously in agreement.
"Right… I think I can follow along with you, but I don't really see what this has to do with Alfred." Peter spoke a little unsurely, watching the two carefully.
Hughes answered him this time, seemingly miffed about the entire thing. "Now, Gilbert Stuart didn't sign his portraits. Instead he left a mark somewhere on the page, only discernible by those who know to look for it. That's the true final test for authenticity, beyond the paper, paint tests and what have you."
"What kind of mark?" Neal looked up interestedly.
"He trusted one person with it before his death, and that person passed it to his son before he died and that person to his son, you get the picture? It travelled father to son for generations, so only his descendant can actually authenticate the painting."
"…Don't tell me, this is him?" Peter guessed sarcastically, waving at the teen whose grin stretched from ear to ear.
"It's awesome, right? You can actually trace the line straight down to me from my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great-"
"Yes, I think we get the point, Alfred," Alex interrupted placing a hand over Alfred's mouth to smother the steady stream of words.
"Artists seem to flock to his family, because he holds several secret marks from other artists throughout history." Neal's eyes flashed, and Peter studied him with a furrowed brow. "Because of this he is naturally a huge target."
"The only way they have been kept safe through the generations is their anonymity, which has recently been leaked by a mole." Alex looked somewhat distressed when he spoke, and Neal laughed inwardly at his motherly behavior.
"They know his family's name and the address of the main estate in Washington, D.C." He explained and Hughes took the reigns.
"If the painting is a fake and if the conspirators have caught wind of the final test, then Alfred's life is undoubtedly in danger," Hughes spoke plainly, catching his agents' eyes. "But if we pull all the bells and whistles and the paintings not a fake, then we will unwillingly have given his identity away for the others to try."
"It's a real Catch-22." Alfred piped in, pulling Alex's hand from his mouth.
"Well, if they attack him, then we'll know for sure they're trying to cover for the fact it's a fake, right?" Jones pitched in.
"But how would we prove it? Without Alfred, the final test there can't be done and any definitive way of knowing will be lost. Not to mention, if they manage to kill him and make it look like an accident. Then there's no way to implicate them," Hughes said, frowning and Alex glared at them.
"And of course, Alfred being dead would be bad, obviously." Hughes rolled his eyes.
"What about your parents or any brothers? Do they know the secret?" asked Jones, but Alfred shook his head.
"I don't got any parents anymore. I have a brother, Mattie, but he and I were separated when we were younger, and he was raised in Canada. Arthur is… Well, it's complicated, but he lives in England, so it's just me."
"So why not secure the secret with another party? Someone you trust, like Mattie?" Neal asked.
"Well, then it wouldn't be a secret, now would it? This is how it remained that way throughout history." Alfred's eyes suddenly flashed with a spark.
"That man trusted my great-whatever-grandfather with the key to all his works. He whispered it to him on his deathbed. I think it's worth something to uphold that trust."
He said it with a smile, but the edge to his tone wasn't lost on any of them.
It was Hughes that broke the impromptu silence.
"We are having the painting transported here from Dimitrovgrad, Russia; however, they have their own customs and transportation problems to deal with. The government is still arguing the full release of it to us, but at the very least, we hope to have it transported here in a year or so, and we can run our own authenticity tests."
He paused to arrange his thoughts, and Peter couldn't help ask what this had to do with them beyond possibly assisting with testing the painting when it arrived.
"I was just getting to that," Hughes snapped irritably.
"Alfred has to be put under constant supervision until they deliver the painting and maybe even beyond that depending on how that pans out."
Alfred looked extremely cross at having to be supervised. For God's sake! He was The United States of America. It wasn't like anyone could actually kill him. Well they could, but that would be a long and costly campaign he would be delighted to meet head on. Besides that point, the people that were supposed to be protecting him were like two-hundred years his juniors. If anyone would be doing the protecting, it would probably be him.
Screw that! It had always been him!
"We can't leave him under the secret service. That'd be like painting a giant bulls-eye on him; what's more is that's what they'll be expecting us to do," he continued, pacing anxiously. "Witness protection is also too obvious."
"We decided that it's crucial that he be guarded by the federal government, and the boys upstairs had the idea to put him under a smaller and less likely division, so it's landed in our laps to guard him." Hughes stopped and stared meaningfully at Peter, who took a step back.
Things were becoming painfully clear to Peter.
"Sir, surely you don't mean me?"
"Yes, I mean you! I'm sure as hell not taking him home with me. My wife would have a heart attack!" Hughes enlightened them.
"But we have cases. I mean, it would be pretty suspicious if we stopped working, right?" Peter scrambled.
There only two types of people Peter simply could not deal with; one was crying women. The other, was teenagers. He just didn't know what to do with them. Too adult like to be treated like a child, but to rebellious to be treated like an adult.
"Who said you could stop working?" Hughes asked raising an eyebrow, and Alfred snickered at the look on Peter's face.
"You will go about your daily life just the same; Alfred will just be tagging along for the ride."
Peter glanced at the teen, who teen stared out the window with a glazed look in his eyes. He felt sheer depression at the prospect of putting up with him for an entire year.
"Ooh, tough break, Peter." Neal patted him on the shoulder.
"But Elle and I are renovating! We don't have room for a guest."
"Stick him with Caffrey and that weird, little one for all I care. Just don't leave him alone," Hugh's threatened, and Neal winced.
"Ah, sir? I would love to, but I don't really have the space eith—" Hughes raised a brow, telling him he was well aware of his sprawling living situation. He switched tactics. "I'm an ex-con. Who knows what I might do."
Alfred smiled as though he knew it wasn't going to work.
"Oh, we know what you do, every minute of your life," Hughes said pointedly
Alfred laughed, and Neal glared as though his mere presence was the source of all of life's miseries. He just smiled and turned away, whistling some nameless tune.
"Mozzie gets nervous when there are strangers in the house. You don't want to deal with that! He bites, you know! Why just last week he—"
"Neal." Hughes shot him the "yeah-your-bull-shits-not-gonna-cut-it" look, and Neal just sighed resignedly.
"Work this out you two. I'll be in my office. Jones!" He whistled and made a gesture for the other agent to follow him as he stepped out from the office.
Neal and Peter stared at each other for a few moments, trying to find any sign of the others weakness in resolve, before Neal dug a coin from him pocket.
Watching them, Alfred couldn't help but wonder if he should be feeling insulted that neither of them wanted him at their houses. Inwardly he shrugged. It's not like they knew they were turning America away. Besides he got a real kick out of playing stupid teenager, so they would get their dues, albeit in a very annoying roundabout way. Alex raised a brow, as though he knew what Alfred was thinking and the teen smirked evilly.
"Flip a coin?"
"Yeah, nice try." Peter plucked it from his hands to reveal the double sides, looking mildly unimpressed.
"Rock, Paper, Scissors for it?" Neal asked, undeterred.
Peter raised an eyebrow as if to ask if he was joking, but finding the comically serious on his partners face, he stuck his hand out too.
"Rock, Paper, Scissors!" They stared at the results with according glee and despair.
Peter had rock, Neal's face was twisted as he held scissors, and Alfred, who had set upon himself to join, had grenade, which apparently blew everything up, (or so he informed them.)
"Fine. When does this happen?" Neal said, trying not to look sulky.
"Today," Alex spoke up, and Neal groaned, tempted to bang his head against the wall.
"After you get McDonald's with me right?" Alfred asked, excitement shinning in his eyes, and Alex sighed in agreement.
"After we eat an early lunch we'll swing by the summer-house they have here and grab all of his essentials and come back around to drop him off. I'll have to be heading back to the capital afterwards; the president's children have a dentist appointment in a few hours." Alex grimaced at the end, and Alfred laughed empathetically.
"They can be a handful, tell 'em I say hello."
Alex cracked a smile, but Neal's eyes narrowed at this.
"See you guys later; it was cool meeting you!" Alfred called as he eagerly dragged Alex out the door, headed towards McDonald's.
"Err. Good-bye," Alex said awkwardly as he disappeared through the door.
There was a silence at their departure, and Peter let out a low whistle.
"Ooh, tough break, Neal," he said, mocking Neal's earlier words.
"Shut up. He'll be with you, every minute he's not with me, and I think I can come up with some pretty creative stuff when pinched between a wall and Hughes," he warned, and Peter suddenly stopped looking quite so smug.
"Think of all the dinners I can interrupt." Neal mentioned with a smile.
The fed paled.
"You wouldn't—" He cut himself off and stared at Neal blankly for a moment.
"Coffee run?" Neal offered.
"Double shot of espresso for me. It's going to be a long year…" Peter sighed and dialed his wife's cell.
"Hey Elle, you won't believe the kind of morning I've had. . . ."
I hope you view this as a piece about Alfred and his citizens. That is what it is meant to be. I hope to explore what it means to be a country. I also hope you enjoy how I do it.
I listened to "Where is the love?" for three hours on repeat.
As always, Audio surf is a bitch.