White Collar: Knock on Wood


"I hate this thing." Neal growled to himself.

It wasn't the fact that the anklet tracked his every move that was irritating Neal at the moment. It was the way it made it difficult to pull his sock up properly. There wasn't enough room to reached down through it to get to the sock and it was also too tight to push up his calf. Problem solving in the past he had devised a paperclip attached to a string that he fished through the anklet and clipped it onto the sock to thread it through.

Today however he was having more trouble with it than usual. With his leg propped up on a wooden foot rest Neal pulled at the string. When the trick didn't work he put a little more force into. The Armani sock suddenly gave way. Neal lost his balance and in an effort to regain it he stumbled back. There was a sharp cracking sound as Neal's elbow slammed into the full length mirror that was behind him. Looking over his shoulder Neal inspected the spider web pattern in the broken mirror.

"That's never a good way to start the day."

Huffing in frustration Neal took off the ruined pair of socks and hunted down a new pair. Managing to get this set properly pulled up he turned to his vast tie collection. Selecting a black silk tie with a red slash accent Neal slipped it around his neck and tied it with practiced ease. The broken mirror did little to help him know if the tie was straight or not.

Trusting his instincts with the tie he deemed himself acceptable for going out in public. Stepping out of the walk-in-closet Neal headed for the kitchen table. He was already late getting out of the house and Peter would be wondering where he was by now. Forgoing breakfast Neal picked up his house keys and hat. Glancing around the studio apartment Neal froze.

"What the..."

Neal blinked a few times to make sure he was actually seeing what he was looking at. There was an ebony black cat sitting on his bed. The cat stared at Neal with piercing green eyes. Startled by the unexpected house guest Neal just stared back at the animal. The cat was perfectly still except for a swishing tail.

"How did you get in here?"

The cat narrowed its eyes at Neal in an oddly disturbing fashion. The pair entered an accidental staring contest that the cat was clearly going to win. When there was a knock at the door Neal nearly jumped out of his skin. He couldn't be sure, but the cat suddenly looked smug.

"Neal?" June's voice came through the door.

"It's open, June."

"Neal, have you seen..." June stopped when she spotted the cat. "Ah, there you are, Sparkles."


"It's my granddaughter's cat. I'm looking after her for the week. She must have snuck up here."

"Well at least this means I'm not hallucinating."

"No, not at all." June chuckled. "I'm sorry. You're not allergic to cats are you?"

"Deathly. I'll probably have to burn those sheets."

"Oh dear..."

"I'm just kidding. I don't mind the cat."

June smiled and went over to Sparkles. The midnight cat stood up and stretched out her back. June scratched between the cat's ears and she purred loudly. June apologized again for the cat and picked her up. The cat positioned herself so that she could look over June's shoulder. As June left Sparkles narrowed her emerald eyes at Neal again and hissed.

Perplexed by the cat's reaction to him Neal was left standing alone in his apartment. A crack of thunder was followed by the start of a sudden downpour outside. As Neal looked over at the rain lashing against the glass his cell phone rang. He looked at the caller ID and cringed.

"Hi, Peter."

"Neal, where the hell are you? It's nearly nine, I want you here in five minutes."

"Peter, it's pouring down rain and you know I don't have a car."

"If you could get to work on time you would have missed the rain. You spend more time on your hair than I spend on my entire morning routine."

"And it shows." Neal muttered.



"Just get here, we have a new case."


Neal flinched as Peter hung up the phone with a clatter. As he hung up his phone it beeped at him. Checking the phone he saw that the battery was close to dying. This day had not started well and it didn't seem to be getting any better. Sighing heavily Neal looked out of the large glass doors that lead to patio as the sky lit up with a flash of lightning.

"Maybe I should just go back to bed..."