Author's Note: This story was supposed to be a shorter story in a new fandom. I had found a new obsession in White Collar shortly before I started to write this and I never imagined how much fun it would make. I quickly got hooked on the show and our fandom is so great, no wonder I was inspired along this journey. I wouldn't have written a WC-fanfic without Phoenix-cry's story "The Nightingale" here on FF, which you should read, because it is amazing and obviously an inspiration for "Forged Smile". I didn't have a beta for the first five chapters; then canadianscanget helped me out and she was so great that I don't even know how to thank her. This will be AU after episode 3.11 but it's hiatus right now so from January on you should read this as AU. Here's what I think might happen after Keller took Elizabeth. I hope you'll have as much fun reading this story as I had writing it. Thanks for every comment and review. I hope you'll enjoy!
Disclaimer: White Collar and all those wonderful characters do not belong to me. Just borrowing. You could call it a forgery…
Neal Caffrey was really speechless. On every other day Peter would have thrown a party. But not tonight. Tonight, he had problems not to pull his gun and shoot his CI where he stood. He tried to avoid this very strong desire and turned around to Diana.
"Are there any indications that she was hurt? That he... hurt her?"
Diana flashed a glance in Jones' direction.
"I didn't ask him, I asked you. Do I have to assume somebody hurt my wife?"
"No, boss, nothing but the pot. We didn't find any blood."
Peter sighed and tried to focus. Everything was too fast; or maybe he was just too slow to understand this whole situation. It wasn't fair that this had to happen to her. Even the dog showed more signs of an evil gene than El. And he was a friggin labrador. There was no reason to hurt her. No reason but Neal.
"We'll find her."
Rage was lurking in Peter's chest like an animal on a hunt when he felt Neal's hand on his shoulder and heard him talking as if everything was just fine. It wasn't.
"We won't do anything! You lost your right to be part of my team when you tricked me, lied to me and destroyed the little faith I still had in you with your selfish obsession for glimmering things! I will find El - on my own; and you will simply tell me where the hell that treasure is and then you'll go home and stay at you apartment until this is over."
Neal's eyes were filled with cold horror, then with unconcealed anger.
"You really believe that this is my fault?"
Peter laughed at first; then, out of nowhere, he pushed Neal against the wall. He felt his partner struggling to breath, but the agent wasn't ready to loosen his grip.
"Tell me... what... to believe, Neal! Keller said you had that treasure, he saw it and he wants it. Usually there isn't a ransom note without the RANSOM, so tell me... what to believe!"
Peter was dragged away by Jones, but he was finished with Neal anyway. He didn't even flinch when the con-man put on his fedora and straightened up, his jaw pushed, his nose turned up at him.
"I didn't steal it, Peter. I told you before. Believe what you want."
Neal shook his head and left the house, but not without Jones following him. Peter wanted to go after him, but the ringing of his phone caught his attention. Everyone in the room stopped moving, except for the agent with the tracking system. He pushed several buttons; then he gave Peter his okay.
"Keller? Where did you take her?"
Peter hated himself for his incapacity to keep his voice calm. Keller laughed.
"Don't be so nervous, Agent Burke, it doesn't suit you. Get it? Suit you... Never mind. Your wifey is fine."
"Let me talk to her."
Peter already knew the answer.
"No. You can assure yourself of her well-being when we meet to exchange her for your puppy's buried bone. I guess you've already punished him for being such a naughty boy?"
The FBI agent wasn't sure what annoyed him more. That Keller was talking to him like this or that he was actually right about how he had treated Neal.
"He denies that he has it."
Keller laughed again and Peter almost lost his patience. Only the thought Keller might hurt Elizabeth made him swallow the words he had on his tongue.
"Agent Burke, you'll have to learn a lot more about Mr. Caffrey, if you really want to put him on a leash and make him retrieve. Ask him again! And I'll give you the advice to put a little more pressure on him... I'll be in touch; have very nice evening, Agent."
When Keller hung up the phone, Peter looked desperately over to the guy with the tracking system, who hadn't finished pushing the buttons on his miracle box. When he finally stopped, he trembled.
"I'm sorry, I didn't get him."
Peter just wanted to get out of this house and slowly frustration took place of his anger, when the young man called him back again.
"Agent Burke... We have another problem..."
Jones rushed into the room and Peter got a very bad feeling that a horrible night had just turned into something catastrophic. Nobody was interested in the agent with the device anymore; Jones had everyone's full attention.
"Peter, he distracted me, he... Neal's on the run. He cut his anklet."
Peter Burke remembered Keller's words and had to laugh although the whole world seemed to conspire against him.
"Bad boy, very bad."
Diana looked at him as if he was insane. And Peter had to admit that maybe she was right. He focused again and started to give orders until every agent knew what to do and Peter was alone in the house. Diane and three agents were checking out the neighborhood again as well as they kept the search for the van updated. Jones and the rest of the team was out with tracking dogs to get a lead on Caffrey. Peter himself went back to his car. He was almost sure that Neal would contact June, or Mozzie or maybe even Sara at some point. And if so, Peter would know. He would get his wife back home. And his dog on a leash.