AN: I can't imagine everyone at White Collar was happy when Peter brought a criminal into their midst. I think some, well most, are still unhappy about it. I have made up some agent's names here. Just a little one-shot, Enjoy!
"I shouldn't have said anything." Neal replied.
"I just made things worse." Neal lamented.
"Neal, what do you mean you made things worse?" Peter asked. Neal's revelation was a complete surprise to him.
"Come on, Peter. You had to know that some people wouldn't be happy with this arrangement."
Peter nodded. "Yes, then…in the beginning…but now…." He just shook his head. So much time has passed.
"Now they're still not happy." Neal said. "I mean I never expected them to like me. But…."
"They like you." Peter replied.
"No." Neal said, shaking his head. "They like you. They tolerate me."
"Neal!" Peter said.
"It's what they tell you…how they act around you." Neal stated. "When you're not around…." He shook his head.
WC WC WC WC WC
"It's been a nice break. It really has." Agent Chris Allen said as he ate his sandwich in the conference room. He had been joined by Agents Alice Peters, Raymond Helms, Crystal Myers, and Harold Wilson.
Agent Peter Burke had come back from visiting Neal at the hospital. He would go back in a couple more hours when El could join him. The agents, meanwhile, had no idea that he was in the next room, his office, trying to catch up on work. Peter could hear their conversation, very well, through the thin wall that separated the two rooms.
Neal had been injured when he had tried to fight off his attackers/kidnappers. Neal had gotten a few good punches in, much to Peter's surprise when he, Jones and Diana had arrested them later. They had said they had had to subdue him some way, so Neal had ended up with a few broken ribs and a concussion.
"I agree. Alice said. "Those fedoras…so annoying."
Peter's ears perked up.
"…walking around here like he owns the place." Alice said.
"…just because he gets to spend a lot of time in Burke's office." Harold replied.
Peter resisted the urge to announce his presence. He wanted to see what his co-workers really thought of Neal's presence in the office. He hoped he could keep his cool long enough to hear it all.
Crystal nodded. "They should have hired an agent to do Caffrey's job."
"Yeah, at least that guy wouldn't have to be tethered to a leash." Raymond replied.
That got a chuckle from everyone in the room.
So, Neal was right. Peter realized as he listened to the conversation. Neal was right. The realization both saddened and angered him.
Peter was standing at the door when the agents all stood up to leave after lunch. They all looked at Peter, then at each other. They sat back down.
"All of you know…" Peter started, trying to suppress his anger.. "…why we didn't hire an agent to do Neal's job. It's because you could have the best profile developed by the best profiler in the business, and it's still incomplete. We could make the best plans to catch the best criminals, and they would be incomplete. Because as much as we work at this job to catch these guys, as much as we think we know, we still don't know enough. And that is because we, ourselves, are not criminals."
None of the agents were looking at Peter, but he continued to speak.
"Neal Caffrey is one of the brightest people I have ever met. He is a master criminal, and he has agreed to work with us." Peter paused. "And I know what you're gonna say. But Caffrey didn't have to make this deal." Peter paused again. "Neal's made himself very unpopular with a lot of his fellow criminals. That is part of the reason he is in the hospital now. And a lot of them would just shoot him if they didn't think that that would bring the FBI down on them."
They all looked at Peter on that one. None of them had really considered how much danger that Neal had put himself in by just becoming a Confidential Informant.
"And the way Neal walks around here…" Peter continued. "…that is not Neal being cocky. That's Neal being Neal. If you even took the time to talk to him, a little to get to know him, you would realize that. I know Neal's a criminal. And I know that no matter what I say, that that is the only way some of you will ever see him. But there are lines that even he will not cross." Peter replied. "I'm not asking you to become his best 'bud.' I'm not even asking you to like him. Just give him a chance. I'm asking you to just realize and appreciate what he does for us."