Author: Colakirk
Prompt: Steal
Fandom: White Collar
Rating: PG-13
Author's Website: Colakirk's Page
Author's Notes: This story takes place sometime after the episode 'Payback'.


Elizabeth Burke walked in through the front entrance to her Brooklyn house carrying her two green bags and kicked off her shoes, happy to finally be home. The traffic had been a nightmare. "Hey, Hon." She leant down and kissed her husband on the top of his head.

Peter didn't look away from the game on the telly. "Hi, Hon. How was your morning?"

"Not too bad at all, excepting for all the lunatics on the roads. How they ever get a license in the first place I'll never know." El took a couple more steps towards the kitchen and then stopped, suddenly. She called over her shoulder, "Honey, would you mind giving me a hand in the kitchen please?"

"Sure." Peter picked up his empty beer bottle and followed his wife into the kitchen. El had put down her green bags and was leaning against the counter with folded arms.

Peter raised his eyebrows, "Yeah?"

"So, what's the story?" El kept her voice hushed.

"What story?" Peter picked a grape from one of the green bags and popped it in his mouth.

"Ah, yes…I can see why you'd be confused." El didn't try to hide the sarcasm from her voice. "You don't know if I'm talking about the fact that Neal is out in the dining room, or that Neal is bent over our dining room table, or that Neal is bent over our dining room table with his arms cuffed behind his back, or that Neal is bent over our dining room table with his arms cuffed behind his back and his pants and boxers lying at his feet."

"Oh…that story." Peter sounded unconcerned.

"Yes, that story!" El had been trying not to lose her temper but Peter was making that task near impossible. "So I'm guessing your kid did something wrong." She calmed herself down and returned to speaking softly.

Peter nodded and grabbed another grape.

"Fine. But I don't understand. Why he's still there, waiting? Looks like he's been there for a while?"

"About an hour and a half." Peter checked the clock on the wall.

El raised her eyebrows. "What happened?"

"Well, long story…..

# # #

…Peter took the last handful of corn chips from the bowl. It was a close game he was watching and he always found himself munching faster as the tension on the field increased. His team was in the middle of a critical play when his phone rang. Crap. Whoever it was, their timing sucked. He pressed the mute button before answering. "Hello, Burke speaking."

"Hey Pete. It's Ted Bentley from down at the Eighth Street Precinct."

"Hey Ted. How are you? It's been a while."

"Yeah, too long. Look, sorry to bother you on a Saturday morning, I know you're probably cursing me cause I've interrupted a game…"

The comment made Peter laugh, "No don't be silly. What can I do for you, Ted?"

"Well Pete, I have a young chap down here, gave his name as Jimmy Burger."

"Jimmy Burger?" Shit Neal, what have you done now!

"Yeah. For sure I didn't believe him so I checked his wallet for ID and came across an assortment of names."

"Like?" Peter was trying hard to rein in his anger, no point in shooting the messenger.

"Steve Tabernacle, N. Halden and ahhh, let me check, yeah, Dr Leonard Parker."

"And so did 'Jimmy' ask you to call me?" Peter would have been surprised.

"No. I couldn't find any info on our database to match his names but I did find your business card alongside the IDs. Thought you might be able to shed some light on our mystery guest."

"Yeah, unfortunately for me." Peter switched off the TV and collected his car keys and jacket. "I'm on my way Ted… Ah, would you mind giving me a heads up?"

"He was picked up for shoplifting from Brodies Bookstore."


# # #

Peter stepped up to the counter and spotted his old friend sitting at one of the many cluttered desks on the other side. He caught Ted's attention and gave him a friendly wave. Ted stood up and Neal, who was sitting across from the officer, looked back towards the counter. Upon seeing Peter, he quickly dropped his head, looking completely ashamed of himself. Yeah, you should be, Peter thought.

"Hey, Pete." The older man held out his hand.

Peter gave it a hardy shake. "Hey, Ted. Good to see you again."

"Yeah, shame it couldn't have been under better circumstances. Sorry to bring you out on your day off."

"No problem." Peter followed Ted to a little private area in the outer office. "So what's the damage?"

"Not much. Luckily for Jimmy…"


Ted laughed. "Luckily for Neal, it was an $8 magazine."

"Magazine?" Peter palmed his forehead.

"Yeah…Ah…Renaissance Review?"

Peter sighed.

"So what's his story?" Ted nodded his head in the direction of the young con.

"Neal's my CI. Plus, he's serving out the remainder of a four year sentence under my supervision." Peter shook his head. "This stupid stunt is going to make the arrangement very difficult."

Ted nodded in understanding. "Look, I know the guy at Brodies and if you like I can let him know that it's not worth taking it any further, which it isn't," Ted waved an arm at the piles of paper work in all direction, "and I'm certain he'd be okay to just drop it."

Peter let out a sigh of relief. "I'd really appreciate that Ted."

"Well, if you're happy to have a word to the kid and sort it out on your end, it's a lot less hassle for me."

"Oh, I'll be more than happy to sort him out!"

Ted gave his friend a knowing grin. "I'm sure you will, Pete." Ted keyed a pin into the security lock and Peter followed him back to his desk.

Neal lowered his head even further as the two men approached. Peter could see that his hand was cuffed to the underside of the table. As far as he could tell, the younger man had made no attempt to pick the lock.

"Alright, young fella. It's your lucky day." Ted unlocked the cuffs. "Agent Burke has agreed to handle your indiscretions for today..."

Lucky me indeed, Neal thought but kept his retort to himself.

Ted pulled the young crim to his feet. "…but don't let me catch you back in here again."

"No Sir." Neal replied in a contrite tone as he felt a firm hold being taken of his upper arm.

"Thanks so much, Ted." Peter began to drag his wayward charge towards the front door.

"No worries, Pete. I'll catch up with you soon."

Neal ascertained from the anger being channeled through the hold Peter had on his arm that he had a very short window of opportunity to come up with a feasible excuse for his criminal behavior. Something he knew already, from the set of Peter's jaw, to be a lost cause.

# # #

"An $8 magazine?" El hadn't stopped shaking her head the whole time her husband filled her in. "Why?"

"Still waiting to find out."

"Oh, I see." El felt like she finally had all the pieces to the puzzle.

"Yeah. I'm waiting for him to tell me why he stole the magazine in the first place. I'm not accepting shrugs, I don't knows or any bullshit answers. He can stay like that all night for all I care."

"Perhaps he doesn't know why he stole it. Have you considered that Peter?"

"He knows, and he's going to damn well tell me!"

El could tell Peter had been pushed clearly over the edge. She gave him a gentle pat on the arm. "Why don't you go up and have a nice long hot shower and I'll have a little chat with Neal."

Peter let out a long sigh. "Fine. But he's not allowed to get up." Peter left the room and when El heard footsteps upstairs, she headed out.

El walked up behind Neal. The young man's head was turned to the far wall, and his body lay unmoving, faced down over the dining table. He was wearing a short sleeve polo shirt and El could see marks on his wrists where he'd obviously had a few attempts at freeing himself from the cuffs. El also noticed what could only be a hand outline, clearly printed in bright red on the kid's upper thighs. The print was pretty much the size of Peter's hand and El expected that it may have been the result of one of the 'bullshit answers.' El placed one hand carefully onto Neal's back and pulled up his boxers with the other. She lifted his shoulders gently and helped lower him into the dining chair. The kid had red, watery eyes but he still managed to give El a thankful smile. "Oh sweetie. Why do you do this to yourself?"

Neal gave her a sweet smile and just shrugged. "Can I take off the cuffs?" Indicating the restraints behind his back.

El gave an apologetic smile. "Fraid not. I don't have a key."

"Oh, I don't need a k.." Neal stopped the suggestion after a very stern glare from Elizabeth.

El returned to smiling at the young con and she reached out and put a hand on his knee. "Sweetie, why did you steal the magazine?"

Neal was going to shrug again but Elizabeth deserved better. He took a deep breath and then began his confession. "Long story short, Elizabeth. Last time I ran into Keller he told me I was starting to sound like a 'law man' and it's been eating away at me ever since." Neal began to look a little embarrassed. "I guess I just wanted to prove to myself that it wasn't true."

"Oh sweetie. What a real silly thing to want to prove. Surely you have more sense than that?"

"Clearly I don't Elizabeth." Neal cocked his head to one side and almost sucked El in with his mesmerizing smile. Unfortunately, it failed.

"And a magazine, Neal. What's with that? You got picked up for pocketing a magazine."

"I guess so."

El looked away deep in thought, processing the information. "Neal?"


"Please tell me you didn't get caught on purpose."

"Okay. I won't tell you that, Elizabeth." Neal's smile was full of cheek.

El didn't appear amused. "Neal, what did you think would happen after you proved to yourself that you weren't going over to the 'dark side'?"

Neal shrugged and grinned again, "I didn't think the plan through that far."

"Well my little petty thief, you're about to find out what happens to naughty little boys who make their fathers very unhappy when they break the law."

"Do you think there's any chance you could talk Peter into just giving me a grounding?" Neal's tone took on a more serious edge.

"Sorry sweetie, but I'm pretty sure the ship for that one has already sailed." El stood up and indicated with her head the thick leather strap draped across the back of one of the lounge chairs.

Neal's face lost all color. El moved in close and gave the young man a loving kiss on his forehead. "Just a word of advice, young one. Next time you want to test the waters with any of those crazy little ideas in that brilliant head of yours, try to picture that strap," El pointed, "and ask yourself if it's going to be worth a good dose of it across your backside when you get caught." And with that, El headed upstairs leaving Neal alone with the menacing looking instrument.

# # #

Not too long after, Peter made a return appearance. He picked up the strap on his way through the living area and stopped once he reached his young charge. He'd felt a lot better since his shower and his little chat with El, but standing there, looming over the top of the reckless younger man, Peter felt his anger beginning to boil once again. "Stand up!"

Neal complied swiftly knowing there would be no talking his handler out of anything. When the young con tried to lower his head so he didn't have to look into the face of his upset partner, Peter grabbed his chin and tilted it back up. Glaring directly into the boy's brilliant blue eyes, the agent growled "Next time, Neal…DON'T!"

"Yes Sir."

Peter spun the kid around so he was once again facing the table and uncuffed him. "Bend over!"

Neal quickly bent over the table and hoped that Peter wouldn't notice his boxers were back on…. No, that notion was a little too good to be true. Peter had them pulled back down before Neal had completely processed the thought. The young man grabbed a hold of the sides of the table and braced himself for what was certain to be a very painful reprimand.

Peter wasted no time in pulling back the strap and walloping the young man soundly across his butt. Neal let out a yelp and tried to jump up but Peter held a very firm hand on his back literally locking him in place. The young con was going nowhere. Neal had very little time to accept the inevitable when he felt the sting of the strap a second time. The pain was unbearable. It was like someone had set his ass on fire. This was going to be very bad. Peter administered several more strikes to the young man's backside and just when Neal thought it couldn't get any worse, the older man started in on his legs. Neal cried out when he felt the strap sting the skin just above his knees. Neal began to howl. "Please, Peter, I'm sorry."

Yes, I'm sure you are.

"Please. I won't ever steal again." Peter continued to wallop the kid several more times despite the pleading.

Finally, after a sound hiding, Peter dropped the strap onto the table beside Neal's arms. The young man didn't notice. He was too busy sobbing. Peter reached down and pulled up the boxers. He stood next to the young con for a few moments, patting him gently on the back and then he returned to the living area to continue watching the game.

After about ten minutes of soft crying, Neal composed himself and joined the older man in the living room. He was only wearing his boxers and his polo shirt. His casual pants remained on the floor where he'd stepped out of them. Peter looked up, "You want me to switch it over to something else?"

Neal just shook his head and flopped face down onto the couch. A little while later, Neal finally spoke. "Peter?"

"Yeah, Buddy?"

"Why the hell would someone who's only ever used an electric shaver need a razor strap in the first place?"

Peter smiled but didn't reply. He'd save that story for another time but one day he'd tell Neal that he had asked his own dad that very same question on an occasion, a very long time ago when a young Peter Burke was caught stealing a car magazine from the local corner store.

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