I own nothing (as far as you can own nothing) all characters belong to Jeff Eastin and USA Network.
Monday morning and Peter and Neal enter the office together. It's obvious something is going on as everyone is sat quietly at their desks heads down no one is rushing around like normal. Diana and Jones are whispering quietly to each other. Neal drops his hat onto his desk as he passes and walks over to them with Peter.
"What's going on?" Peter asks the two agents.
"It's like someone died or something" Neal jokes
Diana and Jones share a serious look.
"No one died did they?" Neal asks plaintively as Peter reads a memo Diana hands to him.
"The whole office has been ordered to attend 2 extra sessions with Zimmerman as part of 'getting our house in order'." Peter explains reading the memo.
"Mandatory." Diana adds
"Who's Zimmerman" Neal asks
"Dr Zimmerman the FBI's in house psychiatrist." Peter explains
"I'm sure it won't be that bad, an hour on the couch relaxing and talking about your feelings to a trained professional. What's the problem?" Neal teases. He knows Peter is not keen on psychiatrists thanks to a father-in-law in the profession and none of Peter, Diana and Jones are exactly big on sharing their feelings. It usually takes several beers to get any of them even to relax.
"The problem is that if Zimmerman decides you're under too much stress he bans you from fieldwork" Diana explains
"Do you remember Agent Carlson?" Jones asks the others
"What happened to Carslon?" Neal is curious
"He told Zimmerman how he suspect on his current case reminded him of his girlfriend, he got assigned to a desk for 6 months." Jones told them
"Well I'm sure that won't happen to any of you." Neal tells them reassuringly
"any of us." Diana corrects him
"you don't mean?" Neal asks surprised
Peter looks at the memo. "You're included on the list Neal. Your first session is 4pm on Wednesday."
Neal is taken aback for a second but he quickly recovers and grins. After he is always up for new experiences and a con is a con.
"This should be fun."
Doctor Zimmerman sighs as he flicks through the file for his first patient of the day. Peter Burke, Case Agent for the White Collar Department of the FBI. The Doctor remembers Peter from his a routine evaluation a few years ago following a shooting incident. He was a solid type of man, good family history and a good home life. There were no red flags then. There is a knock on the door and Peter Burke comes in and takes a seat on the chair across the desk opposite the doctor.
The Doctor had tried comfy chairs and a more informal setting, but he found FBI agents were actually more comfortable with the desk and chairs. The Doctor had a theory that it was the familiarity of the interrogation room coming into their heads. They were just more comfortable with a more formal setting, they knew where they were.
"So Peter how are you?" Dr Zimmerman asks
"Fine. Fine." Peter tells him, uncomfortable. He shifts in his seat trying to get comfortable, which is difficult the Doctor recognises since Peter is definitely not comfortable being here.
"How's your wife – Elizabeth isn't it?" The Doctor asks
Peter automatically relaxes at the thought of El as the Doctor hoped.
"She's good thank you." Peter smiles.
"I'm glad to hear it. So, are you working on any interesting cases at the moment?" Having got Peter to relax a little, The Doctor tries to get the session started.
Peter becomes more enthusiastic at the mention of work and begins regaling the Doctor with the details of their latest case they were tracking a dentist who was blackmailing his patients, getting information from them by dosing them with sodium pentothal during treatments.
"It sounds like you and your team work well together." The Doctor comments when Peter has stopped talking.
"I couldn't do it without them. They are the best." Peter enthuses. It's clear he means it and the affection he has for them.
"So what's changed in the past two years" the Doctor asks, changing tacks.
"Is this about Neal Caffrey?" Peter asks
"You tell me. I reviewed your files Peter. You have an outstanding record. More than 15 years of exemplary service" the Doctor tells him
"Thank you" Peter tells him cautiously wondering where this is going
"I noticed however that in the last two years you have been suspended 3 times. A sudden change like that raises red flags for me." Dr Zimmerman explains
Peter can see where the Doctor is coming from, his life was certainly more stable before Neal Caffrey entered his life.
"Those suspensions had nothing to do with how I do my job. My closure rate has also increased in that time, last year it was over 94%" Peter wishes he didn't sound so defensive.
"Peter, I am not here to judge you, I just want to make sure these incidents are not a symptom that something is wrong. Let's go through each incident one by one." The Doctor tells Peter calmly
Peter sighs, this was going to be a very long hour.
The Doctor quickly typed up his notes from his session with Peter Burke. The problem was despite over 20 years of practice, he wasn't sure what to write.
He hated these sort of reviews. Being asked to issue these reports based on an hour with him. How was he supposed to build up trust with the patient under such circumstances. The agents viewed him with nothing but suspicion and in this case the Doctor wasn't sure they weren't right to be suspicious. He'd been asked specifically to assess Peter Burke's team. There were concerns that that Peter Burke had been compromised by his CI and that it was having a detrimental effect on the whole team. He had entered this profession to help people not to conduct a witch hunt.
His phone buzzed to let him know the Neal Caffrey was here. The Doctor locked away his notes from the last session before admitting him.
Despite the front he put on for the others and he would never admit it, but Neal felt slightly nervous as he entered the Doctor's office. Peter had been particularly sarcastic all afternoon after his session, a sure sign that he was stressed, though he wouldn't say anything about his session other than it went fine.
"Mr Caffrey?" Dr Zimmerman asked gesturing for Neal to take a seat.
Neal took his hat off as he sat down and gave the psychiatrist his most charming grin.
"Please call me Neal" he told him glancing round the office. The doctor didn't offer his first name back Neal noted.
"I'm Doctor Zimmerman. First, let me reassure you that everything you say to me is completely confidential."
Neil had to resist the urge to roll his eyes at this. The interviews might be confidential but the Doctors formal report and end recommendations were not.
"So tell me a little about yourself Neal." Dr Zimmerman asked Neal pleasantly.
"I'm sure it's all there in my file Doctor. What do you want to know" Neal replied equally pleasantly.
Since he didn't know Neal, he didn't know the best way to open up the conversation and Neal was an expert on being interrogated. He decided to adopt an open approach, see how far that got them.
"I want to know what's not in the file, how you feel about how your life has changed since you started working for the FBI. Let's start with something simple. How do you think your life has changed since you started working for the FBI?" the Doctor asked
"It's not that different to my life before prison to be honest" Neal told the Doctor honestly.
"Really?" the Doctor raised an eyebrow.
"Sure. I'm still carrying out the same cons, it's just now I'm doing them with the blessing of the US government" Neal told him jokingly.
"and you don't have the threat of prison hanging over you for committing them" The Doctor nodded his understanding
"I wouldn't say that. My release is determined on working for the FBI, I fail I go back to prison." Neal pointed out.
"Does that worry you? To have the prison sentence hanging over you, that must be stressful" the Doctor responded
"I prefer to think of it as motivation." Neal shrugged.
"That's a positive way of looking at it"
"always look on the bright side" Neal said jokingly
"though your view of your job with the FBI as pulling cons might contradict that" The doctor pointed out.
"only if you see being a conman as a negative thing" Neal disagreed.
"It's not wrong to trick people, take their money?" the Doctor queried making sure he kept his tone non-judgmental.
"I never stole from someone who couldn't afford it. I never hurt anyone" Neal countered.
"That's makes it okay?" The Doctor queried
"In an ideal world everyone would work hard for what they get, work their way up, make an honest living right?" Neal offered
"The American dream" the doctor confirmed
"But that assumes we all start in the same place, ignores the reality that some people have a big head start." Neal pointed out
"Life isn't fair." the Doctor confirmed again.
Neal had a sense of the man now. He was good, not saying too much, encouraging Neal to do the talking, agreeing with him to make Neal think he was on his side. He relaxed a little, sitting back in his chair and crossing his legs.
"Something every child learns". The doctor added. Neal groaned
"My childhood. Really?" Neal asked incredulously
The Doctor smiled "Too obvious?" he asked
"Just a little." Neal confirmed
"Okay, how about this there must be safer ways for someone with your intelligence to make a living" the Doctor asked curiously. Neal knew that although his file was pretty thick there was nothing in there about his life prior to New York. He considered seeing how far he could lead the Doctor down the wrong path, but an image of Peter's disapproving face popped into his head. He sighed reluctantly and decided he had better behave, mostly anyway.
"Let's cut to the chase. Your work for the FBI has been impressive, if a bit unorthodox" the Doctor gestured to the files.
"Thank you." Neal acknowledged.
"What concerns me is the danger you face on these cases. You weren't trained for it like the Agents. While I appreciate you are more than qualified to advise on the cases, I have to question whether you are really the right person to be sent into the field all the time." The Doctor said gently
"Really?" Neal said calmly. Though he felt anything but calm. The thought of being assigned pure desk work or worse being trapped in the van on all future cases didn't bear thinking about.
"I don't think you understand what it is I do Doctor" he smiled as charmingly as he could
"Peter and the rest of his team, they are very good at what they do, but they don't have the skills to infiltrate groups, make them believe I am one of them, knowing that situations change in the blink of an eye and being able to adapt." Neal was aware he sounded like he was bragging
"You enjoy it" The Doctor
"Sure" Neal hesitated
"and?" the Doctor prompted
"You said I haven't had the training they had but you're wrong. I've been training all my life. It's who I am."
There was a pause while the Doctor wrote something down. The day Neal couldn't read something written upside down was the day he hung up his hat.
Concerns about danger attention seeking behaviour result of neglected childhood?
Whoops, this wasn't quite as well as Neal had thought. His phone buzzed, it was Peter. He decided a little break to retreat and regroup might be in order.
"I'm sorry I need to take this" Neal excused himself. Peter had a new case and needed Neal to come take a look at a painting found at the scene of a murder that was suspected to be a forgery.
"Peter I'm kind of right in the middle of my session now. I don't think the good Doctor would appreciate it if I walked out half way through" he smiled at the Doctor.
"If it's important it's alright" the Doctor told him "We can continue this tomorrow".
"Great." Neal told him insincerely.