Disclaimer: I don't own White Collar.

Summary: Neal, from Samantha's point of view.


When Samantha first meets her grandmothers new tenant, it is with no small amount of nerves. She worries that Neal won't like her, that he will see her as just another kid and talk down to her or worse, another sick kid and treat her like her mother does, as if she will break.

He does not live up to her expectations. He exceeds them.

Their introduction is unplanned. Her parents have left her with her Grandma June for the day while they both have to work. Samantha is happy with this arrangement, she loves her grandmother, and enjoys spending time with her. There isn't supposed to be anyone else there, but soon after she arrives, Neal comes back during lunch, having forgotten something at home that morning.

He greets June, and without being prompted in any way to her presence, doffs his hat to Samantha with a wink. She laughs, disarmed. He offers his name and she does not hesitate before giving her own. Neal has to go back to work then, and she has to go home.

The next they meet is under much worse circumstances, for Samantha is in the hospital, and feeling it unwise and not gentlemanly to allow a flustered and anxious June to drive herself there, he did the honours and visited her with her grandmother. They talked to her for awhile, June stroking her damp hair and fluffing her pillows. Neal divides his time between assuring his landlady that she will be fine and the patient that she is the bravest girl in the children's ward. Second impressions are redundant as a general rule, but Neal only affirms her first one, and she decides she likes him.

Her grandmother steps out, and it's just the two of them alone. Samantha is nervous all over again, until he takes some of the sheets of coloured paper her sister left her to draw on when she got bored. She watches, fascinated as his quick hands twist and fold the paper until he presents her with a perfect rose, down to the detail, except for the thorns. He continues, and soon she has a bouquet of vivid blooms that will never wilt or die.

She might be a kid, and adults might tell her not to trust him, but Samantha has a shade of her grandmother in her, and she is wise enough to know a good thing when she sees it. And she decides that Neal is a good thing.