Fandom: White Collar
Prompt(s): I KNOW I saw this somewhere at a female characters prompt fest....but I don't remember.
Disclaimer: Not Mine.
Summary: Sara Ellis thinks about Neal, mid-season 2 .
Neal Caffrey is still afraid of her. Sara doesn’t know how personal it is. Four years in prison may have convinced him that he doesn’t want to go back, but he doesn’t show much deference or caution to the FBI agent who holds his leash.
Peter, Sara likes. She doesn’t understand how he stands Neal’s constant preening and lying, or the occasional event where he brags and lies in the same breath. But then, Neal’s figured out Peter’s temper and evidently decided the man will tolerate a lot as long as it’s playful and neutered, and doesn’t interfere in their case closure rate. It makes Sara wonder how good of an agent Peter is – good enough to catch Caffrey, she knows – even though every conversation they’ve had has only made her respect him more and generated the tiniest of pangs after she learned there was a Mrs. Burke.
Caffrey thinks his smiles, his jokes, and his sparkling blue eyes distract from the fact that he is playing everyone constantly. It makes Sara want to hit him, hard. It’s not so much the fact that he has her Raphael, but that he gets off on keeping it from her. He doesn’t care about the money, beyond whatever fun shiny things he blew it on immediately. Neal cares that she cares.
She thinks his shock at her willingness to have him arrested for when his crony broke into her house is probably fake. He acts hurt and confused whenever someone doesn’t like him. It’s fake or he’s stupid. No one likes being played. Or he’s used to passive aggression, and there is nothing passive about Sara’s aggression.
She’s figuring out, though, that maybe he really doesn’t get it. Sara sincerely thought he was there to kill her that night, and if a normal person had known that, he wouldn’t have had her house burglarized immediately after.
He doesn’t understand vulnerability, but she thinks he’s showing his own by all the idiotic mistakes he makes trying to solve his girlfriend’s death. It’s not a game, or if it is, he’s the one getting played. She actually doesn’t find it funny, surprisingly.
Caffrey’s life isn’t so fun, anymore. More fun than it should be for a man in his position, sure, but that’s the game Neal’s playing now. He has his rich landlady thinking he’s an adorable and needy lost son and the FBI thinking he’s locked down in his anklet and glorified CI job.
Sara doesn’t agree. She thinks he’s playing both roles, and badly at times. He can’t be those things and be the man avenging Kate’s death. He’s proven it already by screwing up, and it’s only his friends that have kept him from paying.
Sara, of course, has helped, too. It’s different than she thought it would be, playing the game with him. It’s less maddening, for one, when she’s not trying to win. And the glee he gets from lying, tricking, conning people is actually sort of contagious.
She doesn’t know if she wants to be his friend, exactly, but playing the game with him is preferable to playing it against him. And watching him have to fight so hard to play it all any more, well, sort of makes up for a lot of what he’s put her through.
~please feed the author~