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
Written for round one of the [livejournal.com profile] wc_women_fest, a prompting fest focusing on the women characters of White Collar.  We're planning to expand to have monthly themes and fic hosting as well.


The Way it Starts

It started with the music box.

She graduated, left home, loose footed, and at loose ends, She flitted from job to job, stuck at the bottom rung at all of them, watching idiots succeed. She had always thought that there was something special out there for her, something she would be fantastic at, something where she would never have to listen to anybody tell her what she could and couldn't do.

She fell into looking for her grandfather's box because she had nothing better to do. She was holding down a job. She hated it, but it kept her in canned soup and instant coffee. Some nights, Alex stared at the computer screen and wished the man had died without opening his mouth and telling her it was all real.

She learned to break into places, pick locks, slip into windows, slip out again so that one day she could take it. She hung around fences and thieves for crumbs about it's whereabouts. And the first time someone asked if she wanted in on a job, she said no, but the second time she didn't hesitate.

And the next thing she knew, she was in Italy with the rag top pulled back on her stolen car and the sun pouring in around her.

And an idiot behind her short a lot of money, and an idiot partner short his take.

 

Back Home

“So he actually sent you guys a case of Chianti?” She grinned. “What did you do with them?”

Jones shook his head. “We took them home. Lauren made sangria and threw a party. It was good stuff too, he was really glad to get that bible back.”

They both laughed, easy as ever, and Diana fought down a rush of unease and regret. “I missed a lot while I was gone, didn't I?”

Jones leaned back in his chair so that the back of his head touched her shoulder. “It wasn't the same without you.”



Tempered

Neal Caffrey was as smooth as silk. Sara Ellis had never been silk. She had never wanted silk either. She was steel. Sara Ellis was smooth as steel.

“I don't think you get it,” she snapped like a coiled spring. “He broke into my house, my home, the place where I sleep.”

Peter shuffled his feet a little and turned to the side. “His tracking data-”

“Then he got somebody else to do his dirty work for him!”

“He passed the polygraph.”

She glanced up at the ceiling, too furious to speak at first. “He beat it somehow, and you know it.”

She remembered the way Neal brought her the print of the painting he had stolen, and how pleasant he had been even while he taunted her.

Neal Caffrey was effortlessly comfortable to be around, and frightening, because that was how he took everything away. Sara Ellis had never been comfortable, for herself or anyone else.

He hadn't been so comfortable when he had woken her up with a gun. For a moment, he had seemed like steel. Until he saw her own gun, and folded like the silk she knew he was.



Author's Note: This is a remix of the prompter, [livejournal.com profile] sahiya's, fic, Something Comfortable, which takes place a few hours after the events of that are over. It probably won't make sense without reading her fic first.

Spaces

She woke up all at once, languid muscles contracting with tension. The light from the street lamps came pouring through the window, bluish and too bright. Neal had his back to her, and his face pressed into the pillow as he slept. The air conditioner hummed softly, and his hair ruffled, but he didn't move, and the hairs on her arms prickled, the cold rolling down her. "Neal!"

He didn't move. Sara's heart beat hard. "Neal!" She hissed his name louder, grabbing his shoulder.

He jerked awake. "Wha... Sara?"

"Oh good, you're awake." She almost said "alive" instead by mistake.

"You know..." he muttered sleepily. "The ER doctor said you didn't have to wake me."

"I know." The last of the unreasoning panic came out of her into those two words, and she felt herself soften, and the exhaustion return.

He smiled at her as he closed her eyes, and she picked up the sheet to tuck it in around him. It seemed like there was a warm haze around them, a disconnect from the way their lives were the rest of the time. She felt like a foreigner, living for those few days in someone else's life while they were living in someone else's house, someone else's bed. She contemplated for just a second asking Neal if it was easier for him, Neal who had many names the way some people had many houses.

He was smiling at her, a quiet smile, and she hated him. A few hours of sleep, and he was on again, on, and exhausted, and run down, and still on. When she was tired, she was herself, too worn out to be nice, too worn out to st op every idiosyncratic impulse and compulsion. It took a head wound before the man stopped it. She wondered if that was just who he was, if on was what he did when he was tired, and it took an effort to be honest for him, the way it took her effort to be nice.

She ran her fingers through his hair and let it slip through.



Author's Note: This is a companion to the fic "Air Becoming Glass" that I wrote as part of [livejournal.com profile] elrhiarhodan's sentence fest a few months back. As such, Neal is an FBI agent, not an insurance investigator as requested in the original prompt, and it kind of ended up being more UST than pairing.


Halls of Justice

Sara sat with her lawyer, back straight, cataloging the bumps and marks on the wall in front of her. Every few minutes, she wondered again if it was taking too long, if her lawyer was wrong and the long deliberation was a bad sign, not a good one, and that when they finished, the forewoman would read out a guilty verdict.

She was out on bail. She could run.

She stood up so fast she wobbled on her high heeled shoes, and her eyes darted up and down the hallway to make sure nobody noticed. Her lawyer looked up. “What are you doing?”

“Just going to the bathroom. No, you can't follow me in.” She straightened up and smiled at him, trying to make it into a joke. The man's own smile was resigned as she walked down the hall.

~*~

When she stepped out of the bathroom, drying her hands on her skirt, Agent Caffrey, the bastard who arrested her, was leaning against the wall in the little alcove that kept the bathroom doors hidden from the rest of the hallway. “You know, you could be in a lot of trouble if my lawyer saw you.”

“Just making sure I know where you are.” He shook his head. “I still can't believe the judge gave you bail.”

“Awwww.” She patted him on the cheek. He blinked and jerked back, but it was too late. She had already pulled away with the shock of actually having broken through the almost tangible bubbles of space between them, even if it was just for a second.

“You know,” he said, forcing himself to regain his composure, grin bright. She was almost fooled. “It's not too late to plead guilty, if you tell us who you sold the Raphael to before the jury get's back, I'm sure you can work out some kind of deal.”

“Let me guess, you'll talk to the prosecutor for me.” She shoved past him, into the hall. “Getting nervous?”

“Are you?”

“No,” she lied. “I don't think anybody trusts an FBI agent in a suit that nice.”

He stayed in the alcove, the walls tighter around him, throwing his face into shadow. He laughed and doffed his hat. “You like it?”

“Neal,” she told him, startling herself as much as him with the name, “Shut up.”

“Yeah, okay,” he said, smiling wider. “Shutting up.”

~*~

Sara's stomach felt like it had climbed into her throat as she shuffled back into the courtroom beside her lawyer. The judge told her to rise, and as soon as she was on her feet, they burned with the need to run and the certainty that it was over, and she would spend the rest of her life running. For a moment, the word “not” didn't register, and all she heard was the forewoman reading the word guilty, then suddenly it clicked, and the breath rushed out of her chest, and her legs buckled beneath her.

She caught herself, somehow managing not to fall, or cling to the table, or burst out laughing, She just listened to the judge telling her she was free to go and let herself smile.

In the back row on the prosecution side, Caffrey sat stiffly, staring at the back of his hands, but she caught his eye anyway. He grimaced, but hid it well, and her smile turned into a smirk.

He picked his hat up from the bench and set it crookedly on his head before following her out of the courtroom, out of the building and down to the sidewalk. She narrowed her eyes. “You want something?” she asked darkly.

“You mind coming down and answering some questions?”

“No thanks, I'm busy.” She had an escape to call off and ill gotten gains to launder. Very busy.

He put his hands in his pockets. “Plans already, that's fast.”

“Yeah, I was pretty confidant,” she mocked. “I didn't really think you would be this sore a loser, though.”

“For now.” He stopped smiling. “Loser for now.”

She snorted, waving goodbye and vanishing into the crowd.

When she looked back, he had vanished too.



Date: 2011-08-11 07:21 pm (UTC)
sholio: Elizabeth from White Collar, smiling (WhiteCollar-Elizabeth smiling)
From: [personal profile] sholio
Ooh, I liked these a lot! The last one was particularly neat, but I liked the others too, especially the one with Diana and Jones. (There should be more fic with these two!)

Date: 2011-08-11 07:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
Thank you! I wasn't too happy to realize I couldn't fit Sara into "Air Becoming Glass", so when I saw the prompt, I just had to write it.

There really really should be more Diana-and-Jones buddy fic. I've requested it a couple of times on Collar corner, but nothing ever comes of it.

Date: 2011-08-11 11:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daria234.livejournal.com
these are great. I love the sides they bring out to these characters, and I love the line about silk vs. Steel. And Alex, and Diana-Jones friendship. And agent!Caffrey AU was win. love em

Date: 2011-08-12 01:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
Thank you! I love drabbles and commentfics. They let me play with an idea without committing to a longer story, and break up the focus I get on a longer story, which for me can lead to writers block. I must confess that I really really wish this fandom had more Diana/Jones buddy fic, and something, anything about Cruz.

The agent!Caffrey AU is a noisy bratty AU. It shows up at unexpected moments and demands to be written.

Date: 2011-08-12 12:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladydragoness.livejournal.com
Very interesting idea with a flawless execution. Please do more. I like these.

Date: 2011-08-12 12:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
Thank you! As more prompts come into the [livejournal.com profile] wc_women_fest, the more prompts may catch my eye and prompt fic.

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