attackfish: Neal & Peter text "We may someday attain a reltationship of mutual respect/ First I will see the gods walking the earth" (Peter and Neal MWT quote)
[personal profile] attackfish
Disclaimer: There is no ownership involved in this fic, at least on my side.

Summary: The walls between dimensions are made of glass, and sometimes they break.

Author's Note: I don't intend to write in the White Collar fandom with any kind of regularity. No worries, Avatar: the Last Airbender is still my true love, and I will get back to Harry Potter eventually, I swear, but I'll probably post the occasional drabble (which means I need a White Collar icon...)  Also, as this was written for [livejournal.com profile] elrhiarhodan's sentence fest, the fic below contains cruel and fiendish torment of the common comma and other niceties of grammar, and it's non linear.  Each of the headers is a prompt from the fest.

This fic now has a 700 word companion piece titled "Halls of Justice" about the cunning art thief, Sara Ellis.


Air Becoming Glass



Mozzie- Clones

It was only after the dust had settled from dimensional barrier tear and criminal consultant Neal Caffrey and Peter Burke had taken a break from examining at each other with glee on one side and wary speculation on the other, and special agents Neal Caffrey and Peter Burke had taken a break from looking at them in despair, that Neal realized he should probably look into why Moz wasn’t rattling on about government conspiracies and defense contractors, and when he looked, he found Moz staring in numb revulsion at Assistant Director of the FBI, Moses Freeman.

Peter and Neal – Another CI-off

“So, you went down for mortgage fraud?” Neal grinned and shook his head. “Suddenly I find you a lot less interesting.”

Diana - You really thought you could get away with that?

He asked her the question, and she shrugged without smiling, and Neal just groaned, “Could you maybe not give fatherly advice to the people we’re trying to put in prison?”

Neal - Butterfly


“So I knew where you, um, he? was the whole time, but it took me two and a half years to get something that would stick, and you- he, definitely him- used to show up and try to buy me drinks and taunt me, which is probably the only reason I caught him, because you know, it was difficult, but it was really really boring, and I have the attention span of a butterfly.”

Neal - Bespoke


Special Agent Neal Caffrey had champagne tastes and a beer budget, so if he knew all the places to get cuff-links and tie bars that looked like the real thing but weren’t, and if he liked thrift shops a little too much, and if Good Will didn’t know what it had when ignorant people brought in their grandfathers’ beautiful handmade suits and classic hats, well, there were worse things.

Peter and Neal - Same Old Same Old

“That suit causes me actual physical pain, Peter,” Neal told him, opening the car door for him before slipping into the driver’s seat, “Maybe I should have made you getting better ones a condition of your work release.”

Peter/Elizabeth - Another Lonely Day


Peter liked their office art to look like something, and he liked it pretty, but clients (marks) liked their office art strange (and pretentious), and Reese liked bringing him along to pick it out just to see the faces he made, but Reese wasn’t there this time to see the faces he made as he tried not to be too obvious about looking at the pretty saleswoman showing him around instead of the art and babbled about his favorite restaurant, “So do people call you Beth, or Liz, or...”

Elizabeth – Faith


“I had to sell the house, Peter!  And the start-up money for my business, did that come from this scam, or some other one, or did you ever actually earn any money honestly?” she asked through the clear prison partition, voice growing tighter and closer to crying with each word, and when Peter tried to say something, anything to reassure her, she waved him off, she waved him off, “My husband left our home every day and stole from people, no one expects to find out that, Peter.”

Satchmo – Invading His Territory

After Satchmo sniffed the Other Dog at his not-mom-who-had-different-hand-cream-than-mom’s side, he ran behind his daddy’s legs and rubbed hard at his nose, because the Other Dog smelled exactly the same as he did, and THAT COULDN’T BE RIGHT!

Satchmo – Invading His Territory (again)


He watched the man walk across the floor and pull the door open, the man who smelled like long ago things, like puppyhood, belly rubs, long walks, and stolen food, the man who when he was there made Mom happy, and scared, and miserable all at once, and who when he left made Mom even more afraid, and he wasn’t sure whether to growl at him or lick him, so he whined, sad and low in his throat.

Neal - Don’t You Ever Say That Again


“You know, for the sake of maintaining the entire economic system, I think we should keep our doubles as far from each other as possible,” Neal commented, and Peter looked away, saying, “Stop smiling like that, that’s the smile my Neal uses on his marks.”

Neal/Elizabeth - Peter Directs

The kiss was over almost before it began, and they both leapt away from it, and Neal hissed wide-eyed and afraid, “I can’t do this with the wife of someone I put in prison!” and she nodded and didn’t open her mouth, her lips pinched together, and next week, when he came over for lunch, they didn’t look at each other, but they laughed, and they didn’t kiss.

Hughes - Dominate

He was perfect, glossy, the kind of man who inspired trust, warm, just the right face for her husband in the back room with the books, perfect, perfect, perfect, a liar, and Elizabeth... “Get out of my house!”

Hughes - Dominate II

“I’m glad they let you out, Reese,” she said, her voice shaking, trying to keep it calm, “I just... I’m not letting you near Peter, I’m not letting him go back to jail,” and when he nodded and said goodbye, she closed the door and leaned back against it, breathing deep.

Elizabeth - Out of love I

“Two months, Neal, he’s been out two months, that’s not justice!” she rounded on him, hands balled into fists, “so was it spite?” and Neal stammered.

Elizabeth - Out of love II

“It’s not about that!” Neal insisted; he had watched the release date coming closer and closer, and he let it slip by, and then it hit him, the perfect way to tie him to the money laundering, and was he supposed to just ignore it, and... “that wasn’t why, El, I’m sorry!”

Elizabeth - Out of love III


“Look, Peter told me about the deal he gave you,” she held his hand tight enough that he could feel his bones grinding under the skin, but he didn’t pull away, even when she glared, even when she looked at him like he was scum, “If this isn’t about spite, take the deal and let him come home.”

Peter and Neal - Begging for It

“Please,” Peter started, before Neal had even sat down in the hard prison chair, his face gray and anxious above the prison orange, washed out and old-looking, tired under the prison lights, “tell me you came back because you changed your mind,” and Neal tried to hold onto the way everything felt so good when he solved a case, when all the pieces clicked together, but it slipped away, and he just slid the paperwork across the table, and said dully, “Just sign it,” and thought about bringing Peter home.

Kate- Open Secret

“It happened a year ago, after she got transferred from Organized Crime to Counter-Terrorism, and there was a bomb, and bomb squad said the room was clear, and everybody knew she was set up, but nobody talked about it, and she was always telling me about something she’d found about the Director of the FBI, and they transferred her when she started getting close, and I told her to drop it, but she wouldn’t...” Neal patted Special Agent Caffrey’s back and tried to figure out how to make his mouth work again, “Who’s the head of the FBI where you’re from?” he said hoarsely, “Vincent Adler,” the other him said back fiercely, and a sick rush of bile filled Neal’s throat.

Keller - Unpromising

“So Keller’s an agent too? and in kidnapping, that’s ironic,” Neal mused, the FBI version of him coming up to stand behind him, “You’re lucky he didn’t come,” the agent said darkly, “He’s a complete asshole.”

Neal - Long Con

He looked sideways at himself, smile not quite fake, “I didn’t find out Mom had lied about him until I tried to get into the academy, so there I was with a criminology degree, and a bunch of extra art electives, so I flipped a coin between this and the DEA.”

Mozzie - Crop Circles


“Don’t tell me you believe in crop circles, I’ve made crop circles,” Moz muttered, and Freeman rolled his eyes, “Oh please, I don’t believe in aliens, just corruption, and the increasing encroachment of corporate control on government, and big oil’s stranglehold on the world economy,” and Moz straightened his glasses feeling a tug of kinship towards this other him, and he couldn’t be feeling that, because the man was a suit (and maybe, just maybe, he was fighting the system from inside) “So do you actually believe the moon landings were real?”

Elizabeth - Mirage

She welcomes the other her into her apartment (she welcomes the other her into her house and tries not to think about that tiny apartment) and smiles at her and asks about her life (and smiles at her and talks about her life) and feels this horrible tide of jealousy at her for her happy uncomplicated life, and her years of happiness with this other Peter (and feels this little jab of fear that her Peter might somewhere have it in him to do what this other Peter did) and it all feels wrong (and it all feels right).

Neal - Butterfly (again)


“He doesn’t really have the attention span of a butterfly, you know,” the other Peter (the mortgage fraud committing, money laundering one) said, pointing his thumb at the other (insane, law-abiding) Neal, “He just tells people that, and he acts like it sometimes, and then when he catches them, they never see it coming,” and Neal wasn’t sure whether the faint note of pride in his voice when this Peter talked about his fed should disturb him or not.

Peter - Dictatorial

“No baseball,” Neal said, smacking his consultant’s hand away from the radio, “Honestly, I don’t know what you’re complaining about, it’s Bizet, it’s Carmen, it’s like the top forty of opera, it’s not like it’s Wagner or something.”

Neal - Everywhere I Go

As best anyone was able to tell, the dimensional wall fell during the FBI office’s Christmas/winter party, and anyone who had attended it on either side of the wall and their doubles suddenly found themselves in the same world, and it only took a few hours to find exactly which dimension they were in, when Special Agent Caffrey stormed back into the FBI to howl, “Somebody else is living in my apartment!”

Neal - It’s You and Me


“So...” Neal said, standing in the doorway, “One thing before I let you come in, how do you feel about art thefts?” Agent Caffrey grinned, “love ‘em,” and Neal moved to the side a little bit, “and mortgage fraud?” he watched the other shudder and glower at an invisible Peter Burke, “hate it,” and Neal stood back from the door, “You can have the couch.”

Neal - Not Endure

“Your place is much nicer,” the Peter who was not a fed assured him as the other Neal (the one who was a fed, and kind of creepy to have around, stealing his hats and wearing his suits) muttered complaints about the couch he had so kindly lent him, “He lives in a closet,” and they listened as the Neal with a badge angrily leapt to his apartment’s defense, rubbing his back and glowering.

Alex - The World Turned Upside Down I


There was a moment when it seemed like there was a pane of glass right in front of her, and reflected in it were more toilets, more partitions, more swinging doors, more dirty sinks and tiles, more cracked mirrors, on and on in one filthy forever, and then it vanished, and Alex shook her head to clear it, wondering if she had only had two drinks, or if she was really was just so drunk she thought she had.

Alex - The World Turned Upside Down II


She stumbled out of the bathroom to find Neal, because she was supposed to be at the party with him, but she swore she saw two of him, two of everybody, and if she started talking to thin air, she would never... so she just called a cab and let it take her home, but when she opened the door, and there were other people with different colored paint on the walls, she climbed back down to the cab, and if that wasn’t her home, she couldn’t remember where her home was, she she just told him to take her to the precinct house, where she slipped inside and collapsed at her desk.

Alex - The World Turned Upside Down III

The pictures on the desk weren’t her own, and someone was yelling at her, and Alex jerked all the way awake to yell back that she was Captain Hunter, you sonofabitch, and who are you and what are you doing in my office, and then there were handcuffs, and fingerprinting, and more shouting.

Alex - The World Turned Upside Down IV


“There’s an FBI alert on you,” the officer who she didn’t recognize told her, sounding smug, like she hadn’t just walked into the precinct and fallen asleep, and Alex just kept waiting to wake up, and she started crying in fury and fear, fear that she was going crazy, that the officers around her weren’t real, or worse, that they were, and she was a criminal dreaming she was a policewoman.

Alex - The World Turned Upside Down V


“I’m here for Alex Hunter,” the woman said, and the cops dragged Alex up to her feet as she stared, “Diana Berrigan... we’ve had a couple of run-ins with you,” she whispered, and Diana didn’t look at all surprised.

Alex - The World Turned Upside Down VI


The handcuffs came off, and Berrigan helped her into the car and off her shaking legs, telling her she would explain everything, and she grabbed Berrigan’s wrist, the sudden sinking knowledge that she was being kidnapped only spilling away when the two of them walked together into the FBI building.

June - Gracious

She was the only one who had the same house in both worlds, and she had always gotten along with herself, so she sat together with herself, and they talked and laughed, and told each other stories, about conning her way through a glittering metropolis, and clawing her way up the ranks of the FBI, about rouges, scoundrels, and friends.

June - Direct

She swooped down on Caffrey and Moreau like an eagle onto rabbits, and they hurried to explain about one of Neal’s old collars and money laundering for the Barellis and they were working, honest, but Peter Burke was still in jail, wasn’t he, oh, he just got out, still there were more urgent cases for them to be working, surely, and as she walked away, she could see Moreau leaning all over his desk reflected in the glass walls, and the two of them smiling at each other so hard, their faces looked like they would split open.

Everyone - How Did I End up Here?

Payroll started getting noisy about paying double the number of salaries, to agents whose fingerprints kept coming back attached to rap sheets, the Bureau started getting antsy about the sudden dramatic increase in white collar crime.  The news stories about an office party full of accidental dimensional travelers hurled across the airwaves, and all of them felt just a little bit like they were under attack.

Everyone - Erased


The glass corridors were empty, clean, bright, and devoid of people, and even when agents from other offices, other cities came to fill them, the offices echoed hollowly, and the people who came left in the evenings as quickly as they could, worried that the strange force that had stolen everyone away would come for them next.

Peter - Wretched

The handcuffs clinked closed around his wrists for the first time, and Peter looked back at the agent with a small, unhappy smile, and somewhere, absently, he noticed what he had been ignoring as he had asked the agent for drinks, and tried so desperately to make friends, to make this person think he was a good man, he was just a kid.

Elizabeth and Peter - The Hurting Time

El opened the apartment door at the knock and let the other version of her in, and this other her took her and her husband home, out of the apartment that isn’t theirs in this world, that shelters someone else, and Peter sat in the back seat of her car with the El-that-is-his, and when she drove up to the house they used to own and would still own if- and his heart just stopped.

Peter - Stark


His tee shirt and sweatpants were wrinkled from being squashed into an evidence bag and left there until Neal fetched him, and he looks just a little smaller and less himself in them, than even than in the prison orange as he sat next to him in the car, and the words caught in Neal’s throat at first, “I know  we never got you for laundering money for the Barellis, but if you need us to arrange a safe h-” and Peter shuddered and hunched over, “I never laundered money for the Barellis and if you got me out of prison to spill secrets on the mob, you can put me right back in.”

Peter - Welcome Temptation

“We set up the operation to clean our own money, and then it was just so easy to just start cleaning everybody else’s money too,” he told the Neal Caffrey who didn’t have a badge or a gun, nothing but boundless curiosity, “It was almost a relief to have clients who actually knew what we were doing.”

Neal - Control Slipped

Peter flipped through the file at his desk (in the middle of the bullpen, under everybody’s wary, suspicious eyes) and in the corner of the second page of notes was an absent-minded sketch of the view through the office window, while the third held a half page ballpoint ink copy of Picasso’s Girl Before Mirror, and the notes on the forth were squashed between piles of faces, so Peter settled in for a deeply tedious case, and when he looked up, Neal in his office was twirling his Quantico pen and flipping it in the air like a baton.

Hughes - Do my Time I


Reese caught his eye as the courtroom emptied for recess, “Thanks,” he said, and Peter snorted, “For what, not talking, did you think I would?” but Reese shook his head, he hadn’t, and Peter went on, “Thanks, Reese,” and Reese nodded slowly, “We’ll get through this,” Peter tried to sound reassuring, and they clasped hands.

Hughes - Do my Time II


There was the gray walls, the orange, the cavity search, and the throngs of unknown faces, and then there was Reese and Peter, and they clasped arms, “We’ll get through this,” Peter said again, and Reese nodded, unsure.

Mozzie - Bewildered


Mozzie’s contacts sent him star charts and strange line graphs that he didn’t understand better than anyone else, and spread out all over Neal’s table and didn’t bother trying to hide from the suits the charts were designed to get rid of, and then one day, he announced that if they could get all of the people from the other dimension to a certain warehouse down by the docks on midsummer, they could get rid of all of them, and just like that, it was suddenly almost over, just like that, it was suddenly...

Neal - Somewhere They Can’t Find Me


And so began the slow process of gathering up the less than law-abiding dimensional trespassers, from jail cells and safehouses, and blasting the airwaves with the news, and gradually, they filtered in, and Neal watched these strange could-have-been versions of the people who had caught him, and wished, just a little they could stay.

Neal and Peter - Warped One I

There were times when the other criminal Neal looked at him hungrily, the way Reese used to before everything went so horribly wrong, like Peter was the perfect partner, like he was a dream, and Peter hated the thought of not living up to that (and there was a little piece of him wondering how to keep that Neal and let the other Peter keep Agent Caffrey).

Neal and Peter - Warped One II


“You don’t want to do that, Peter,” he didn’t know what his charge was planning, but he- he knew he was planning something, and the only thing Neal could do was flash his yes-I’m-a-horrible-manipulative-person-what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it? smile and hope for the best, because arresting him now, sending him back made Neal’s stomach cramp up with fear and misery, “You don’t want to leave Elizabeth all alone again.”

Everyone - Sounds of Silence


They wore the same clothes (the dust wasn’t the same dust, the drops of cologne weren’t the same drops of cologne, hair had grown and been cut, there were things left behind) and stood in the same places (maybe they were centimeters, even inches wrong maybe-) but then the air looked like glass, and they were taking little bits of the world with them.

Peter and Neal - Be Running up that Road

“Are we going to talk about this?” Peter asked the next day, the palm of his hand jabbing between Neal’s shoulder-blades like it wasn’t really a question, and Neal smiled tightly, “No.”

Peter and Neal - It’s You and Me


The office was empty, the air heavy and clear like there was rain coming, and they stood next to each other, on opposite sides of the law, and power, and safety, and they tried to hold themselves rigid, because it was never going to be as easy as... they knew they couldn’t trust each other, they couldn’t, but somehow they were.

Neal - Stuck

Peter Burke was Agent Caffrey’s first case as a full agent, and the longest, and for better or worse, he was probably stuck with him for the rest of his career- rest of his life... which was okay, because it meant Peter was stuck with him.

Elizabeth -  It Doesn't Hurt Me


Elizabeth came to stand next to them, and forced the could-have-been world hard out of her mind hard as she could, (because she’d been visiting it in her mind ever since she’d admitted Peter was guilty, long before she ever saw it for real, and it had stopped hurting her, it had) and she rested her head on her husband’s shoulder, dry eyed.

Date: 2011-04-13 01:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] surreal-44.livejournal.com
I love this so much. It's an intriguing idea! :-D Thank you for sharing it!

Date: 2011-04-13 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
Thanks, it's an asshole idea. It took over.

Date: 2011-04-13 02:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] surreal-44.livejournal.com
Those are the best kind! :-D A lot of your segments are beautiful and almost poetic. Some of them are really funny too, and others are just heart-breaking. I love every bit of it. :D

Date: 2011-04-13 02:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
This is what I will tell myself when I look back on it and think "wow, I jumped around a lot genre wise ;p Thanks!

Date: 2011-06-10 03:50 am (UTC)
lapillus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lapillus
This particular trope is one of my favorites and I'm so glad to find one in WC. The tiny snapshots work so very nicely.

Date: 2011-06-10 04:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
I'm massively fond of AUs, and if two universes collide, so much the better. I should mention the plot bunny for this was very rude.

Date: 2011-07-15 09:42 am (UTC)
sholio: Peter from White Collar smiling (WhiteCollar-Peter)
From: [personal profile] sholio
This was absolutely great! I love how creatively you interlaced the different universes, and yet, it's not hard to follow (except when it's supposed to be, and then half the fun is puzzling out which universe's characters we're dealing with). And some of their alt-switched lives, and their reactions to them, were so heartbreaking.

Date: 2011-07-15 02:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
Thank you! I love fantasy AUs, and I love their potential to cause angst. As it happens, I'm writing a little companion to this with art thief! Sara.

Date: 2011-08-11 05:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
ETA: the companion fic with art thief!Sara I mentioned in the previous comment is finished, and can be found here: http://attackfish.livejournal.com/82987.html#cutid5

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