Fandom: White Collar
Wordcount: 2, 674
Rating: PG-13 for violence/swearing
Summary: When Peter is injured, Hughes asks Diana to take over Neal's supervision.
Disclaimer: Not Mine.
Three pops and Peter Burke went down. A red puddle immediately formed beneath him, dark and spreading quickly.
“Go!” Peter yelled, from the ground. Diana grabbed Caffrey by the arm and shoved, finding shelter behind the concrete construction barriers.
“Peter,” Neal whispered, shoulders jerking as if to go towards him.
“Caffrey,” Diana said. “Do not fucking move.”
Neal froze, pressed against the concrete wall. “He’s hit,” he said.
“I know.” She relayed the information and their location into her radio, but no one was coming until the gunman was taken out.
Another pop, and Peter jerked on the ground. Neal took one step forward and Diana grabbed his arm so hard her fingers throbbed.
More pops, someplace else. Their cornered money launderer, now just firing wildly. She could see SWAT moving in, their uniforms swarming through the windows, blocking the suspect’s shot right before they took him down.
She holstered her gun and ran to Peter. Stepped in his blood, and nearly slipped. His blood, because it coated the concrete beneath him.
She knew what to do, but it was almost impossible to press down on his vest hard enough. And he was wearing the vest, so she didn’t understand why there was so much blood.
Peter’s skin was chalk white, his eyes shut. Neal appeared from somewhere, pressed his fingers to Peter’s throat.
“I got a pulse,” he said, but his own skin was about as white as Peter’s, and somehow he’d smeared Peter’s blood on his own face. He sounded terrified.
Diana just nodded, kept pressing down. She could hear Neal yelling into his own radio for help, but they were on a 6th story rooftop and the ambulance was on the ground. She leaned her entire weight down on her boss, even as the heat and warmth of his blood soaked her hands.
Two bullets hit Peter. One had ripped through his vest. Their asshole perp had bought ammo with the intention of killing cops. The second hit him between the vest and his neck, and bled so much Diana sincerely thought he was dead.
Everyone told her that Peter lived because of her, but that barely registered. Elizabeth Burke thanked Diana at the hospital, already crying. She flat out started weeping when she went to hug Diana and realized the blood all over her belonged to Peter.
Peter, barely able to speak above a whisper, told her she’d done good. He didn’t cry or get emotional, and he didn’t comment when she did. He also couldn’t stay awake for long, so their conversation was short. He still looked gray and awful and Diana didn’t like it.
Diana drove Neal home. He was unusually quiet on the way, face serious and contemplative. He didn’t thank her for doing her job, just politely said goodnight before vanishing inside.
Diana went home. She put her clothes directly in the garbage, showered until the hot water ran out.
Then, she called Christy and cried.
Two days later, Hughes called her into his office with the ominous double-finger point. Diana went, half wondering if she’d missed scheduling some mandatory counseling session. Then she remembered. She hadn’t shot anyone. She didn’t have the angle, and she would have had to let go of Caffrey, who would have undoubtedly run out and gotten shot himself.
“How are you doing, Diana?” Hughes asked, gently.
“Fine.” She stared at him, a little confused. “Sir.”
Hughes didn’t press. “Glad to hear it,” he said. “We’re all thankful for your actions in saving Agent Burke.”
“Yeah,” Diana joked. “Me, too.” She waited, tilted her head. “What’s on your mind?”
“Peter’s going to be on medical leave for the foreseeable future,” Hughes told her.
Hughes pointed to Peter’s desk, which should have been empty. It wasn’t. Neal Caffrey was sitting there, doing paperwork. Or pretending to do paperwork since he legally couldn’t do very much. It had kind of bothered Diana at first, but she’d shaken it off. Neal was allowed to be there.
“His CI needs to be transferred to someone else’s supervision,” Hughes said.
“Oh.” She shrugged. “Okay.”
“This isn’t an order,” he told her, speaking clearly. “It’s a request. You can decline.”
“Did Peter want me to be the one?” she asked.
“I asked him for a recommendation and he picked you,” Hughes said. “Like I said, it’s a request.”
“What happens if I decline?”
“I call the Marshals and they escort Mr. Caffrey back to prison.”
“Why?” She was a little shocked. “There are other agents…”
“If the agent Burke trusts to manage Caffrey isn’t interested,” Hughes interrupted, “then I don’t trust that anyone else will be, either. “ He paused. “Or if they’re interested, that they’d be effective.”
Diana nodded. Neal needed a short leash and he also genuinely needed Peter holding that leash. “I understand,” she said.
“Mr. Caffrey has contributed to this unit’s success rate,” Hughes said. “But you and I both know he’s also contributed to its workload. He’s caused Agent Burke personal and professional difficulties and I have no reason to believe he won’t do the same to any other agent, and perhaps worse.” He paused. “That’s why this is a request. It’s a professional and personal risk. “
“Peter managed,” Diana said, unsure if Hughes was criticizing him. Peter wasn’t here to defend himself.
“He managed because he’s both a very good agent and bewilderingly fond of Caffrey,” Hughes answered, bluntly. “Do you even like him?”
Diana spoke before she had a telling pause. “I think he needs to grow up and spend less time lying.”
Hughes grimaced in amusement. “Is that a yes?”
“He’s grown on me.”
That got another amused smile. “I take it your interested in taking custody of Mr. Caffrey?”
“Sure.” She shrugged. “It’s just temporary.”
Hughes ‘ face grew serious again. “It may be. Peter will be on medical leave for a long time. And his wife may convince him to retire.”Diana frowned. “I don’t want that, either,” Hughes continued. “But it’s a possibility. This might be a long term arrangement.”
Diana bit the inside of her lip. “Can I give you my answer later?”
“By the end of the day,” Hughes said. “I need to call the Marshals by 5.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll have an answer by then.”
Two hours later, Diana marched out of her office and into Peter’s. Neal looked up from the paperwork, pretending like he hadn’t seen her coming.
“Hey, Diana.” He tried for nonchalant, but he looked tense. She was beginning to be able to read his tells.
“Get up,” she ordered.
“What?” He looked more afraid than confused. He might have thought she was about to handcuff him and drive him back to prison herself.
“I said, get up.” She crossed her arms. “You’re in my seat.”
Slowly, Neal rose. He closed the folders on his desk, but not before she saw the papers were just doodles.
“Diana,” he said, “What’s up?”
She walked around the desk and took a seat in Peter’s chair. This genuinely confused Neal, who’d been angling his body so she couldn’t grab him. “You sit there.” She pointed to the visitor’s seat.
“Okay,” Neal said, slowly. He walked around the other side of the desk and sat. “What-” he started again.
“You have to listen to me without asking questions,” she interrupted.
Neal frowned, a witty remark on the tip of his tongue. She was impressed he bit it back. “I did,” he said, finally. “I gave you my chair.”
“Peter’s chair,” Diana corrected.
“He’s not here,” Neal said, quietly. He cast a glance backwards, surveying the bullpen. He didn’t even try to do it very stealthily.
“And he’s not going to be here for a long time, Caffrey,” she said. “What do you think that means?”
“That you’re going to keep his chair warm?” Neal offered, before ducking his head down.
“That’s what I’m deciding,” she told him.
“It’s a nice chair. Good lumbar support.”
“I like the chair. I’m more concerned about your chair.”
Neal nodded, understanding dawning on his face. He glanced once more for the Marshals.
“Your chair is giant pain in the ass,” Diana continued. “I’m thinking it might need to go into storage until Peter comes back.”
She didn’t expect Neal’s face to crumple. She didn’t really expect anything other than a jauntily raised eyebrow. His face didn’t fall, but he didn’t smirk at her, either.
“Please, don’t,” he said, calm and sincere. “I don’t want to go back to prison. I’m doing good work here.” She expected more, now. She expected a monologue, but he just stopped talking. His hands were folded in his lap and his gaze fixed directly on her.
This felt like honesty. This felt like vulnerability. And this felt very, very weird coming from Caffrey.
“Can you do it without Peter?” Diana asked, equally honest.
Neal didn’t answer immediately. He tilted his head, face still oddly open. Then, he nodded.
“I can feel your enthusiasm,” she said, frowning.
“I don’t want to go back to prison,” Neal repeated.
“I know that.” She paused. “That’s not actually what I worried about. Well, less of what I’m worried about, which is the scenario where you ruin my career and then you go back to prison.”
“I wouldn’t do that,” Neal objected.
“Not intentionally,” she said. “The big one is: you run on me. I look like a giant idiot. And I volunteered to do it.”
Neal didn’t say anything. He waited for her.
“So what can you tell me to make me believe you won’t run?” Neal opened his mouth, but she interrupted. “Since the running precludes you going back to prison, that’s not a reason.” Neal shut his mouth. “And the agent that caught you a couple of times, if I recall correctly, has two nasty bullet wounds and isn’t going to be chasing a spider, let alone an international fugitive, any time soon.”
“He’d come after me, eventually.”
“You’d get a big head start.” Diana didn’t let up. “What do I want to hear, Caffrey?”
“I won’t run.”He heaved a breath, made a face like he really didn’t like being honest. “I promise.”
Diana almost hadn’t expected him to say it. “And you’ll do what I say, when I say it, without questions or creative interpretations.”
“And you won’t lie, cheat, steal, break the rules, bend the rules, or anything else which will alert the greater FBI that I agreed to this little arrangement against my better judgment.”
Neal gave a little smile, looked thoughtful. “I won’t make you look bad. I won’t hurt your career.”
“And if you do?”
“Prison?” Neal guessed. “Immediately?”
“Immediately.” She leaned forward. “And I will charge you with every single felony and misdemeanor I possibly can, Caffrey.”
Neal winced, but it was mostly in jest. He was thrilled she’d agreed and didn’t bother to hide it.
“Okay,” he said, grinning. “Do I have to sign something?”
“No.” She waited, let him revel in his victory. “But I need a key to your apartment.”
Neal frowned. “Why?”
“So I can get into your house and see what you’re doing without knocking,” Diana said, like it was obvious.
“Peter doesn’t have a key.”
“I’m not Peter.” She leaned forward, put her hands on the desk. “You go to Peter’s house. You don’t go to my house. I go to your house and make sure you aren’t forging a wing in MOMA.”
“You don’t trust me,” Neal said. “I just promised-”
“I’m going to help you keep your promise.” Neal shrank back in his chair. “We’re also going to revisit certain conditions of your parole, such as the length of your radius and your curfew.”
“I don’t have a curfew.”
“You do now.”
“There’s absolutely nothing good you can be doing after midnight. Nothing good for you and definitely nothing good for me.”
“That’s not true.” Neal looked at her pointedly.
“You want to do something after midnight that’s outside your apartment,” Diana continued, “you have her call me and confirm she’s not the Mona Lisa.”
Neal crossed his arms petulantly and leaned back in his chair. “You really don’t trust me. I promised!”
“I really don’t trust you,” Diana agreed. “And you can’t promise that you won’t pull shit on me that you wouldn’t on Peter, because you already want to.”
Neal glared at her.
“I’m not Peter,” she said. “I don’t have his patience or his experience. I also don’t have his seniority or his connections. You pull shit, I can’t necessarily clean it up. This protects both of us.”
“From me,” Neal added, scowling. “This isn’t fair, Diana. I didn’t do anything.”
“Not recently. Before that, you did lots. It’s not your fault Peter got shot-”
“It’s not your fault, either,” Neal interrupted.
Diana stopped, dipped her head. “But it is your fault that Peter is the only person on the face of the planet you listen to. “
“The only person actually telling you to be good,” she amended, and he looked offended.
Diana let him glare at her some more. “What are you thinking?” she asked, as he tilted his head back and stared at the ceiling.
“Contemplating prison,” he retorted.
“You do that.”
It didn’t take long.
“Fine,” Neal said. “I agree. To all of that. All those completely unnecessary, paranoid conditions.”
“Okay.” She didn’t threaten him again. “We can re-evaluate as we go, Neal. We have total control over how miserable we make each other.”
“Not unless I get your house key, too,” Neal muttered.
“I’ll tell Hughes.”Diana rose.
“You know,” Neal said, as she walked towards the door. “If I ran right now, Peter would come after me in his wheel chair.”
Despite herself, Diana laughed. She glanced back, saw Neal with his phone out.
“Are you calling him?”
“Yeah, I’m going to tell him how mean you’re being.” He paused. “I’m also going to threaten to run if he doesn’t come back to work soon. But that’s just to motivate him to get better. Don’t freak out when you read it on the weekly transcript of the phone tap.”
“Phone tap?” she echoed. “That’s a great idea. Thanks, Neal!”
Neal rolled his eyes. As she exited the room, she heard him talk into the phone: “Peter, Diana’s really mean and I’m leaving.”
Diana relayed the news to Hughes, who wished her luck. He also allowed her to go home early and suggested she get a drink, which was both much appreciated and way too ominous.
Once home, Diana called Peter herself. It was under the guise of telling him about the rehab facilities in the NYC area that Christy had recommended, but she also really wanted to talk to him.
Peter sounded weak and tired, but eager to talk.
“I heard you agreed to watch Caffrey,” he said.
“I did,” she answered. “Thanks for recommending me. Best job ever.”
Peter laughed, then immediately groaned in pain. “No jokes, Diana. I have bullet wounds.”
“Sorry,” she said. “I take it you already heard from him.”
“Oh, yes. There was whining and begging.”
Now, Diana laughed. “He didn’t threaten to run?”
“Asked me not to tell you that.”
“It’s a real possibility,” she said, letting some of her real worry into her voice. “He’s not going to listen to me like he does you.”
“Neal listens to me?”
“You’ll do fine,” Peter reassured her. “You scare him more than me.”
“Besides, he runs, we’ll both be after him.”
“Yeah,” she agreed.
“It’s not that hard, Diana,” he said. “And if you ever feel like you’re going to shoot him, you can just call me.”
“Before or after I shoot him?”
Peter laughed. Then, “Oww!”
“Sorry,” she said, “I forgot.” And she really had.
“Before,” he said. “After, and I’ll have to catch you.”
“I don’t think you can,” Diana taunted.
“You know,” Peter said. “I suddenly think you and Neal are going to get along just fine.”