vain_glorious: (whitecollar)
[personal profile] vain_glorious
Title: The Attention is the Trick
Author: [personal profile] vain_glorious 
Fandom: White Collar/Justified
Wordcount: 3.795
Rating: PG-13
Characters: Raylan, Boyd, Neal, Peter
Genre: Gen
Notes: Set pre-series for White Collar, nebulous season 2/3 for Justified via timewarp. No spoilers.  Title from here.
Disclaimer: Not Mine.
Summary: “Kentucky has rich people, too,” Burke says, still smiling. “And Mr. Caffrey is intent on separating them from their money, as well.” He clears his throat and continues. “My colleagues in the FBI have also managed, successfully, to make life in his usual circles so uncomfortable that Mr. Caffrey is being forced to move into less desirable territory.”

There’s a man in an expensive suit in Art’s office.  Raylan doesn’t recognize the visitor – a slight, dark-haired young man who, judging by the amount of time Rachel spends staring at him, might be considered extremely attractive. Tim reports that he’s FBI, which makes Raylan ponder what he might have done recently to piss off that particular agency. He can’t think of anything, which is often the problem.

On the upside, Art doesn’t look upset. A little befuddled and annoyed – more so than usual – which probably means the guest is slinging pretentious bullshit to match the suit. Raylan watches the conversation a bit longer, then loses interest because he can’t read lips like Tim and he’s not drooling like Rachel, so he might as well demonstrate his resolute professionalism before Art comes out to yell at them.

Raylan’s not too surprised when he’s asked to join the men in Art’s office, just a bit later. He makes a mental list of the cases he’s being called away from, because sometimes that works.

In a nice change of pace, the FBI isn’t here because of something Raylan did or something that happened around him that they decided to blame on him.

In fact, it’s a good old-fashioned fugitive case.

“Agent Peter Burke,” Art introduces Raylan to the man. “All the way from New York City.”

Raylan shakes the man’s hand, then takes the thick folder held out to him.

“His name is Neal Caffrey,” Burke says. “But it’s probably not what he’s going by.”

The FBI agent continues to speak, but Raylan only half-listens as he skims through the fugitive’s file. Caffrey is sandy-haired and unremarkable, almost too mundane looking for a criminal wanted by the FBI. His dossier, however, describes a con artist and forger with extremely expensive taste and a talent for vanishing when the jig is up. Raylan flips through the list of charges, then looks up in confusion. This guy likes fine art and massive amounts of money.

“You think he’s in Kentucky?” he interrupts Burke. “Why?”

Burke smiles at him. Raylan is almost taken aback. He’s never seen a FBI agent act so…friendly. It’s a kind, engaging smile. FBI agents do not smile at him, unless it’s out of condescension. Or they happen to be FBI ladies, on account of him being charming. And even then, they’re still kind of uptight.

“Kentucky has rich people, too,” Burke says, still smiling. “And Mr. Caffrey is intent on separating them from their money, as well.” He clears his throat and continues. “My colleagues in the FBI have also managed, successfully, to make life in his usual circles so uncomfortable that Mr. Caffrey is being forced to move into less desirable territory.”

Now that sounds more like the FBI talking.

Raylan still doesn’t want to spend the day chauffeuring Burke around.

“Art, I’m finishing up paperwork on five different cases. I’m sure Rachel would be extremely happy to help Agent Burke out.” He manages not to throw a wink, but Art still scowls at him.

“Oh, I think you’re uniquely suited to assist Agent Burke,” Art says, with a smile that Raylan instantly doesn’t like.

“Chief Deputy Mullen tells me you have a pre-existing relationship with one Boyd Crowder?” Agent Burke asks. His face is still bright and cheerful, like Raylan didn’t just try to ditch him.

“Boyd?” Raylan says, mouth dropping open. “Yeah, we’re going steady.” He slants his eyes at Art, pissed.

“Thought you were already engaged,” Art says, like the asshole he is.

“Is Caffrey a drug addict?” Raylan asks. The guy in the photo looks way to clean cut and healthy.

“No-” Burke begins.

“Your intel is wrong,” Raylan interrupts. “Boyd wouldn’t work with this guy, and if he did, you’d probably never find the body.”

Burke tilts his head to the side, face abruptly less smiley. “Thanks for your assessment of Mr. Crowder, our records indicate some drug distribution and general mayhem, but not –”

“Tell Raylan why you think they’re working together,” Art says, smoothly glossing over the unsavory explanation of how Boyd inevitably gets away with everything. That won’t reflect well on Kentucky law enforcement.

“Sure.” Burke goes back to smiling. “We have reason to believe that Mr. Caffrey is using Mr. Crowder’s narcotic empire –”

“That doesn’t exist,” Raylan interrupts, but gestures for Burke to continue. That hyperbole sounds like Boyd himself is the FBI’s source.

“Using that infrastructure to transport both art work and money from illicit sales, from a museum robbery a few years ago,” Burke finishes. He takes in the dubious expression on Raylan’s face. “Sound plausible?”

“Not really,” Raylan says. He shrugs. “But I won’t turn down the opportunity to roll Boyd Crowder. I just don’t think you have any chance of recovering what you’re after, or that he ever had any of it.”

Burke adjusts his tie. He smiles again, which continues to be disconcerting. “The FBI appreciates your help, gentleman.”


“You want to be at all incognito?” Raylan asks Burke as they walk towards his car. It’s the politest way he’s thought of to let the guy know he looks ridiculous. And conspicuous. Not quite FBI, but more than recognizable as someone Harlan’s various hillbillies would thoroughly enjoy shooting. Raylan’s trying to get his weapon discharge reports down, is the thing.

“No,” Burke answers, and he doesn’t look offended. “I would like Mr. Caffrey, and Mr. Crowder, to be fully aware that I am here.”

“Okay,” Raylan says. He thinks he shouldn’t have to fill out the paperwork for an FBI agent marching into Harlan wearing a target made by Gucci. “This’ll be fun.”

“Oh, I hope so,” Burke says, as he slides into the passenger side. “Don’t worry, Marshal Givens. I will take full responsibility for any ensuing complications.”

Raylan looks at him out of the corner of his eye. He mostly wants to ask Agent Burke if he can see his badge, because to his knowledge smiley FBI agents who preemptively take credit for causing shitstorms do not exist. Instead, Raylan just grunts.

The ride to Harlan consists mostly of Burke asking questions about where Raylan thinks Boyd would hide the money and stolen artwork.

“I think he’d turn the money into methamphetamine,” Raylan tells Burke. “Or heroin. Possibly marijuana. And there’s always oxy.”

Burke frowns. “That will be difficult for the FBI to recover,” he says, testily.

“Also whores,” Raylan offers.

“Quite the businessman,” Burke says, still frowning.

“He is,” Raylan agrees. “How’d your Caffrey hook up with him anyway?”

“I don’t believe they ever actually met,” Burke says. “Connected by a middle-man, I think. Caffrey would never have agreed to work with him had he known…uh…what you just told me.”

“I can assure you that’s the case,” Raylan says. “Boyd likes gun thugs and junkies. He would not play well with your wannabe Lord Fauntleroy.”

Burke lets out a choked laugh. “That’s one name for him.” He shrugs. “Money crosses all kinds of lines.”

That Raylan can’t disagree with.

“Don’t suppose you’d know what he’d do with three Rothkos and a Malevich?” Burke asks, not sounding hopeful.

“Assuming those are paintings,” Raylan says. “I’d bet they’d be equally safe buried in a holler or hanging on the wall in any public building in Harlan.”

“I hope he didn’t bury them,” Burke says, sounding pained. “That’d be a crime.”

Raylan glances at him, a bit lost. “That part of the federal code?”

“A crime against art,” Burke corrects himself. “Or, uh, I could probably swing an additional charge on that. The federal government’s good at that.”

“That we are,” Raylan says. “I still don’t get it. How’d your fancy little buddy end up crossing paths with Boyd’s network?”

Burke scowls. “I’m afraid that’s my fault. I got a little too close to him in New Orleans and he threw everything into the wind.” He shakes his head. “I hope I won’t make the same mistake, again. It’s not worth losing masterpieces just to shake Caffrey’s tree.”

Another odd statement from an FBI agent. Raylan wonders if it’s a unit thing. Maybe White Collar would sit around all day fretting over Mona Lisa, not the dick who stole it.

“Or you could just be, uh, stealthier next time,” Raylan suggests.

“Oh, I will be,” Burke says.  He leans back in the passenger seat. “Neal Caffrey will not do that again.”


They locate Boyd at his bar. No obvious felonies underway, least not in the public area. Most of his boys scatter when they recognize Raylan and his decidedly foreign companion. That’s preferable to them attempting to damage Agent Burke’s stupid suit, Raylan thinks. Though it might teach the agent a lesson about wardrobe.

Boyd’s lounging behind the bar, a patently staged slouch that immediately irritates Raylan.

“Good afternoon, gentleman,” Boyd says. Then he does a fake double-take. “Oh, Raylan,” he says. “It’s you.” He squints suspiciously at Agent Burke. “Are you bringing me a lawyer now? Is that a new service?”

Raylan bites the inside of his mouth, reminding himself that weird art snob or not, he has to behave in front of the FBI.

“I’ll look into it for you,” he promises Boyd. “This is Agent Peter Burke, FBI.”

The corners of Boyd’s mouth turn down in disappointment. He doesn’t look surprised, which is telling. He also doesn’t look worried.

“FBI, Boyd Crowder.” Raylan concludes the introductions.

“I’m on his side,” Burke confirms, as he and Raylan approach the bar.

“Get you a drink, Agent FBI?” Burke offers, all graciousness.

“I’d love some of your finest bourbon,” Burke says.

Boyd and Raylan blink at him. Boyd, for a second, drops the act and looks suspicious.

“If I could drink on the job, that is,” Burke corrects himself. “Sadly, I am an agent of the federal government and cannot indulge.”

“Then why’d you come to my fine establishment?” Boyd asks. “Are you chaperoning Raylan?”

Raylan removes his hat. Mainly to have something to do with his hands besides committing grievous assault.

“Man says you’ve changed the collar of your crime,” Raylan tells Boyd.

Boyd looks from Burke to Raylan and back again. “I admit, I do not follow,” he says, after a moment “Which hypothetical crime is that?”

“I’m looking for three Rothkos and a Malevich,” Burke says. “Also, about four hundred thousand dollars in cash, but I accept that might be unrecoverable.”

Boyd leans forward on the bar top, a smile tugging at his lips.

“This surprises me as much as it does you,” Boyd says. “But I honestly have never heard of those men. Gun thugs?” he asks, looking at Raylan.

“Paintings,” Raylan corrects. “Valuable ones, I gather.”

Boyd almost snorts. “They open a Louvre in Harlan when I wasn’t looking?” he asks.

“This is what we’re looking for,” Burke says, handing over a smart phone for Boyd to see.

Boyd pages through the images, taking long enough to suggest he’s actually considering whether he has them in the back of the bar.

“I don’t think my collar has changed color,” he informs Raylan, handing the phone back. “Don’t look worth stealing.” He grins at Burke. “Which I would not do, anyway, as I am an honest small business owner, and I do not steal.”

Raylan coughs pointedly. Boyd glares at him.

“When was the last time I was busted for taking instead of giving?” Boyd demands.

“You have an interesting definition of ‘give,’ Boyd,” Raylan says, sighing. “I take it you do not wish to cooperate with the FBI?”

Then he can drive Burke back to the office and not be here anymore.

“I will cooperate fully,” Boyd vows. “Where might I have seen these paintings? The flea market?”

“I was thinking with Neal Caffrey,” Burke says, emphasizing the name.

Recognition and surprise flash across Boyd’s face before he wipes it away with another toothy smile. “Is that also a painting?” he asks. He gestures to Raylan. “We’re simple country folk. We only know the works of Crayola and Thomas Kinkade.”

Raylan sighs. “Boyd,” he begins.

“Neal Caffrey has been acting as a liquor wholesaler,” Burke interrupts, voice level and tone completely calm. He suddenly sounds very FBI. “Except one of the crates he sent you didn’t have anything to drink inside.”

“Liquor wholesaler,” Boyd says. “Sounds like a job for the ATF. Where are they?” He crosses his arms and looks abruptly sulky. “I think I do want my lawyer. Raylan, can you go collect him?”

“You’re not being detained,” Burke says. “We’re just having a conversation.”

“About ugly paintings I don’t have,” Boyd says. “And maligning the name of my perfectly legal business associate.”

“Deputy Givens,” Burke says, voice unchanged. “How do you feel about staying here with Mr. Crowder while I get a warrant for his inventory.”

“I don’t have any other plans,” Raylan says, smiling. “I can stick around. Run off the riff-raff. Make sure nothin’ in this bar goes anywhere.”

“I thought so,” Burke says. He leans towards Boyd. “I have no interest in you, Mr. Crowder. I just want Caffrey.”

“Seems like you got him,” Boyd says. “Closer than ever.”

“What?” Raylan asks.

“He’s coming to pick up the goods,” Burke interprets, quickly. “When?”

“I feel remarkably unprotected from prosecution,” Boyd says, sullenly. “I feel you should rectify that.”

“Normally his feelings are much less verbal,” Raylan observes. No one’s been shot and nothing has exploded. This is an unusually quiet case involving a Crowder, and a very successful day in Harlan. This weird FBI agent is very good at his job.

“Maybe you didn’t know those paintings were in your inventory,” Burke offers.

“I didn’t,” Boyd agrees. “Definitely not.”

“And we’ll go with that,” Burke says.

“Wait a second –” Raylan objects. “You can’t cut him a deal!”

“If you tell us when and where Mr. Caffrey will be arriving to collect the evidence,” Burke continues. “And perhaps his vehicle description.”

Boyd is silent for a second, looking thoughtful.

“Deal lasts another five minutes,” Burke warns. “Then I go get a warrant.”

“Maybe I don’t like that deal,” Boyd says.

“Don’t take it,” Raylan advises. He never imagined arresting Boyd for possessing stolen fine art, but he’s completely willing to do it.

“Maybe we should wait for your guy to arrive,” Boyd says to Burke, voice menacing. “And have a conversation then.”

Burke tilts his head. “How will that end well for you?”

“Between the two of us, we have enough handcuffs,” Raylan promises. “I can wait.”

Boyd abruptly shoves his stool back, looking pissed. “Fine.” He scowls. “I have no idea where you might find the stolen goods I unknowingly had in my possession, but I can tell you which crate Caffrey sent me. He’s driving a white Ford Taurus and should be entering Kentucky sometime tonight.” He ticks off a license plate number. “Anything else?”

“Thank you,” Burke says, and grins.

Raylan just blinks at Boyd, almost stunned.

“Why do you know the license plate?” he asks.

“Attention to detail,” Boyd says, simply. He glances at Burke and smiles slightly.

“You have anything else to spill regarding federal crimes in Kentucky?” Raylan asks. “Since you seem to be in a sharing mood.”

Boyd leans his elbow down on the bar top. “Nope,” he says, glaring. “Please collect your evidence and take Mr. FBI out of my bar.”

“I’ll call in the car info,” Raylan tells Burke. “Get a BOLO.”

“Be aware,” Burke says. “His latest trick is using my name. Sometimes he has fake FBI credentials. That’s been a fun twist.”

“I’ll let them know.”


To Raylan’s surprise, the paintings are in a large 8 foot by 8 foot temperature controlled crate in the back of the bar.

Continuing to show a ridiculous and unprecedented degree of cooperation, Boyd points the container out immediately.

“I thought this was full of vodka,” he says, barely even bothering to sell the lie.

Raylan rolls his eyes as he scans the rest of the room for drug paraphernalia and assault rifles. But, everything’s out of sight.

“I’d like to get those out of here, immediately,” Burke announces.

“You don’t want to wait for Crime Scene?” Raylan asks.

“Not when Mr. Crowder is more acquainted with gun thugs than Rothkos,” Burke says, flatly.

“Smart man,” Boyd says, bluntly. “No wonder you’re FBI.”

Burke steps inside the crate, then immediately back out, brushing dust off his hand.

“Do you mind?” he asks Raylan, trying wipe his hands clean.

“Don’t want to get your suit dirty?” Raylan asks. Burke nods, looking a little embarrassed.

Raylan has complicated feelings about the man in the pretentious suit and his magical ability to get Boyd to confess, but ruining the suit won’t give him grounds to arrest Boyd.

“Not a problem,” he mutters, stepping inside the crate.

The paintings are wrapped up and protected, but the packages are heavy and unwieldy.

“Boyd,” Raylan orders. “Give me a hand.”

Boyd snorts in refusal.

“Mr. Crowder, I understand your fingerprints were left on the evidence as you helped Deputy Givens recover them for law enforcement,” Burke prompts.

After a pause, Boyd steps inside the dim crate after Raylan. “Indeed they were,” he says, scowling.

Together, Boyd and Raylan maneuver the four canvases out of the container. Burke takes each in turn and moves it out in to the open.

“Anything else in the back?” Burke asks. “I know there’s four; he might have had more.”

It’s almost too dark to see. Boyd is standing in the way, ‘til Raylan shoves him lightly backwards towards the rear wall. “Move,” he says. Raylan paces the limits of the container and pats the walls. “That’s it,” he calls.

The door to the crate swings shut with a loud clang. It’s suddenly pitch black inside. He hears Boyd exhale loudly.

“Hey,” Raylan says, walking towards the door. He pushes it; it doesn’t move. “Hey!” he yells.

There is no response from outside. “Burke,” Raylan shouts. “You shut the door.”

“All quiet like, too,” Boyd mutters. Raylan hears his footsteps on the floor, can barely track him as his eyes adjust to the dark.

Raylan tries the door again. There’s no internal handle. It’s not moving. In fact, it’s definitely locked.

“You’re such an asshole,” Boyd says, in the darkness. His voice is lower, like he’s taken a seat on the floor.

“Excuse me?” Raylan demands.

“So is he,” Boyd says, almost to himself. “This is why I keep it local.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” He fishes in to his jacket, looking for his cell phone. It’s gone. Instead, there’s a cold metal flask in its place. “He took my phone,” Raylan realizes.

“Almost like he’s a goddamned thief,” Boyd says. “Idiot.”


Agent Peter Burke – or Neal Caffrey, actually – lifted both Boyd and Raylan’s cell phones before locking them inside the crate. He thoughtfully replaced them with flasks filled with whiskey. Similar weights, so not enough to get as drunk as Raylan would like.

Then, Caffrey loads several hundred thousand dollars worth of artwork into Raylan’s car and steals that, too. He drives out of Kentucky in a car belonging to the U.S. Marshals, so no law enforcement even looks twice.

The real Peter Burke, the real FBI agent, is arrested in Lexington driving the white Ford Raylan had put a BOLO out on. For some reason, they don’t believe his credentials and have him taken to the Marshal’s office.

Fortunately, Raylan misses out on that. Unfortunately, he’s still locked in the crate with Boyd when that happens. They’ve debated shooting their way out. Caffrey didn’t disarm either of them. Raylan can’t believe the man conned the shit out of them, completely unconcerned with their handguns. The container has electrical components that might not play well with bullets. That system’s also providing them with air flow.

Raylan’s sitting on the floor, not having had nearly enough whiskey, when he realizes Boyd was in on this a hell of a lot longer. Or at least long before the door slammed shut.

“When did you know?” he demands. He doesn’t get up and try to beat a hole in the side of the container using Boyd as a pry bar. That’s some self-control right there.

“Did he look like an FBI agent to you?” Boyd retorts. “I knew that right off.”

“I knew you confessed awful fast,” Raylan says, shaking his head. "And you worked out his plan fast as hell."

“It was on the phone,” Boyd says. “But I wasn’t supposed to get locked in here, too.”

"Why didn't you fence that shit before he got here?" Raylan asks, next. Boyd is usually better at this.

"Because I am not a criminal," Boyd says, at first. "And I didn't think the Harlan methheads would give me a good price."

“Hmm,” Raylan says. “You know what, go back to illegal narcotics.”

“I’d rather work with junkies,” Boyd agrees, in the darkness.


The marshals arrive to rescue Raylan after a few, interminable hours. He hasn’t murdered Boyd, for which he deserves some kind of medal.

They can’t hear any voices, but there’s the sound of electronics and then the door swings open. Raylan squints into the light, rising slowly. Boyd follows, hand shielding his eyes.

Tim is in the doorway. “There’s an apoplectic FBI agent out here,” he warns.

Raylan just nods. “Let me out anyway,” he says.

Boyd pushes past him, trying to weave by Tim.

“He pay you?” Tim asks, in no hurry to get out of Boyd’s way.

“I paid,” Boyd retorts. “He locked me in there with Raylan.”


The case produces no charges against anyone. Technically, Boyd’s just as much a victim as Raylan. They can’t prove he was keeping the stolen artwork – in perfect conditions designed by someone extremely knowledgeable about the topic – because the crate’s conveniently empty. They have no evidence anything illegal was ever in there, aside from it being on Crowder property and the laws of probability.

Raylan highly suspects Caffrey did actually pay Boyd off in some way. Namely, Boyd is not nearly as angry as he would be if he’d actually been ripped off. Raylan bets he just wanted to be on the outside when the crate got locked, so he could rip Caffrey off first. They were doing some arguing right under his nose.

Raylan hates both of them so much he can barely appreciate the likelihood that Boyd just got beat, at least a little bit, at his own game.

He also gets to have a really unpleasant conversation with the real Peter Burke, who is a very traditional FBI agent, and also very, very angry.

The mess lasts a while, with lots of meetings about interagency cooperation and proper procedural identification of fellow law enforcement.

Art, Rachel, and Tim have to attend these meetings, too. They, completely unfairly, blame Raylan for it.

As they sit down for their eighth meeting on the topic, Rachel leans over and mutters in his ear. “Next time, Raylan,” she says. “Just shoot him.”


~ The End ~

~please feed the author~

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