The Great Cake Caper

Summary: Peter's been immune to Neal's puppy-dog eyes for a long time, but that same look on a smaller face renders him absolutely helpless. Fluffy future fic.

A/N: Happy family fluff, because, why not? Could be seen as a flashforward sequel to Essence of a Caffrey, since I used the same kid name, but isn't dependent on it.

The evidence is staring Peter right in the face. Not only this, but the evidence is on his suspect's face. Chocolate on the upper lip and a white crumb in the teeth of a charming smile.

"Aaron, did you sneak out of bed and eat the last slice of cake? You know you were only supposed to have the one slice I gave you for dessert."

"Well," wheedles the seven year old, who doesn't look nearly as guilty as he should, "the piece you gave me was kinda small. More like a half a piece, Uncle Peter. I just ate the second half, so that makes one, right?"

"Who's been teaching you fractions?"

"Uncle Mozzie."

"Of course." says Peter, rolling his eyes. Of course Mozzie would be the one to teach the young Caffrey how to talk his way out of anything. "But you're supposed to be in bed, and you know better. I'm going to have to -"

Aaron's smile fades, suddenly more concerned. "Aw, Uncle Peter, please don't tell Dad...he won't let me go to Mitch's birthday party on Sunday."

"Give me a reason why I shouldn't? You did the crime, you do the time."

Aaron deflates, appearing to realize the true consequences of his actions for the first time. "I'm sorry, Uncle Peter. I know I shouldn't have..." And he looks up at Peter with sad blue eyes shining between long lashes.

Peter shakes his head, startled by the resemblance. He's long since been immune to Neal's puppy-dog eyes, but with Aaron, he's helpless.

"You put your father to shame, you know."

Aaron's response is cut off by the sound of the front door opening and closing. "Peter?" Neal calls from the living room.

Aaron groans with the realization that he's now trapped.

"Wipe your mouth, Kid," Peter tells him quickly. Aaron does so, wiping the chocolate onto the sleeve of his pajamas.

Neal walks into the kitchen and takes in the scene of his son standing with his partner, best friend, and current babysitter. "Aaron, you are most certainly not supposed to be up this late."

"He was thirsty and came down for water. I was just about to send him back to bed." says Peter, perhaps a little too quickly.

Neal narrows his eyes at the two of them. Their smiles are far too guilty to be believable. "Nice try, guys. The cake?"

Aaron groans, effectively giving himself away. "How did you know?" he asks.

"Well, there's chocolate on your pajamas, a cake crumb on your teeth, no water glass in sight, and your alibi was pretty weak. Lying has never been your Uncle's strong suit," Neal says. "Which is a good thing," he adds as an afterthought. "Now, say goodnight to Uncle Peter, go back to bed, and wait for me to come up to discuss punishment."

The look of dread that comes over Aaron's face is, in Peter's eyes, substantially amusing. But Aaron accepts his fate without argument and turns towards Peter, wrapping his arms around him in a hug that goes as high as he can reach. "G'night, Uncle Peter."

Peter picks him up and kisses his head. "Goodnight, Kid."

He sets him down and though Neal's still maintaining his stern-dad-expression, he still ruffles his son's hair as he passes him, as if unable to withhold affection even within the moment.

When Aaron's out of sight, Peter looks at Neal. "Waiting for punishment is going to drive him crazy."

"I know," says Neal slyly. "I plan to drag it out."

He narrows his eyes at Peter. "And you," he says sternly, though he can't hide the amusement in his eyes. "Covering for my son? I'm going to have to tell El about this."

Peter laughs. "Like she's never been swayed by those puppy-dog eyes before."

Neal shakes his head. "What has the world come to, when I can't depend on an FBI agent to turn in a known con artist?" he asks, making his way to the refrigerator. "Want some cake?"

"Aaron ate the last of it," Peter reminds him.

Neal opens the freezer. "I'm still capable of a good ole sleight of hand, Peter." says Neal with a smile, pulling out a plate of two large slices of chocolate cake. "I told you the last of it was in the fridge; I didn't say I put all my eggs in one basket, however. I knew the other slices would be gone by the time I got home. I just wasn't sure if you or Aaron would get to them first."

"Smart man," grins Peter, automatically going to the cabinet and getting out a second plate and two forks. Neal transfers a slice to Peter's plate, keeping one on his own. They settle in at the kitchen table. Peter takes a bite and savors the taste. After a moment of quiet eating, Peter says, "You're good with him, you know. He's a handful, and who could imagine anything less from a Caffrey?'re a good father, Neal."

The pride on Neal's face is evident in sparkling and sincere eyes. "Well," says Neal with a pure smile, meeting Peter's gaze and holding it, "I did learn from the best."

A/N: Reviews greatly appreciated!