Author's Notes: This has spoilers for the episode 'By the Book' (episode 4 from season 2). The first half of this story comes directly from the episode, and the second half is my take on a missing scene. This is a continuation of my other three White Collar stories. Written May 2011.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, and I am not making any money from this story.
Warning: Non consensual disciplinary spanking of an adult by an authority figure.
If You'd Come To Me
Urged on by fear for his partner, Peter walked through the unlocked door of Sal's cigar shop, and called out, "Everything all right in here?"
Relief washed over Neal when he heard Peter's voice, but that was short lived. The second he saw Peter through the glass door of the humidor, Neal knew he was in trouble. Peter had that tight, formal smile that he always wore when he was trying to hide his fear or anger.
Christopher Navaro glared at Peter and said, "We're closed for business."
Peter flashed his badge. "Special Agent Burke, FBI. We got a report someone broke in here. I thought I'd do my duty, and stop a crime in process." His eyes flicked to Neal, "But I see you men are already on that." With two fingers, Peter beckoned to Neal.
Swallowing once, Neal let himself out of the humidor, and walked directly to Peter's side of the room
Peter focused back on Navaro, once Neal was safely behind him. "If this man entered your place of business illegally, you have every right to press charges."
After a short pause, Navaro plastered a fake smile on his face and said, "I care deeply about the trees. I don't want to waste paper on this guy. And don't worry officer. We all have permits for these guns."
Peter's response was equally as fake. "I'll be back another time to check those permits. I can understand why the proprietor of a cigar lounge is so heavily armed. You never know who you're going to find in your humidor."
Diana put a hand on Neal's arm to lead him out. Peter was right behind them, and as soon as they were out on the sidewalk, Peter let the full force of his glare settle onto Neal. "Where's the little guy?"
After a very short pause, Neal called out, "Mozz! Come on out."
Mozzie came out from around the corner, and said, "Suit, I must say your timing is impeccable."
Unable to listen to this without some time to cool his temper, Peter said, "You two can fill me in from the beginning, back at the Bureau." He turned and walked away, knowing from the guilty looks he'd received from Neal, that he would be following.
Mozzie said with disbelief, "He wants me to go to the Bureau?"
Exasperated, and nervous about Peter's reaction, Neal said, "Yeah Mozz, if you want the FBI's help, you've got to go to the Bureau. Just
do it for Gina."
"You know what they do to guys like me at the Bureau?"
That irritated Neal. "I do Mozz." He showed off his anklet, which Mozzie knew he hated, and repeated, "I do."
Once they got in the car, Neal couldn't help but think about what else Peter might do to him. It hadn't happened since Kate had been killed in the explosion. Neal didn't know if that was because Peter was going easy on him to give him time to recover, or if it was because he just didn't know what Neal was up to.
# # #
Before he was ready for it, Neal was sitting next to Mozzie, in front of Peter's desk.
Standing and glaring at the two, Peter said, "Alright, this is not a game. That guy that you walked in on. Christopher Navaro. Colombian. Washed his hands of drugs. Moved on to weapons and racketeering. Knows his way around a machete and a handgun. He's been on our radar for a long time. How'd he get on yours?"
Mozzie looked to Neal first. When Neal gave him a slight nod, Mozzie said, "An acquaintance of mine left Margot's Diner this morning and has not been seen since."
Neal said, "He was worried about her, so we stopped by her apartment."
"Where we found a clue," Mozzie said.
Neal added, "We dusted for prints."
"You dusted for prints?" Peter asked.
"That's what led us to Sal's," Neal said.
Peter shook his head, and glared at the two. "Where on half a hunch you walked in on Navaro." He looked directly at Neal and added, "If you'd come to me, we could have done this right. Now Navaro's spooked."
Neal couldn't keep eye contact. He didn't respond, knowing there was nothing he could say that would make it better.
Peter turned to Mozzie, "What exactly is the nature of your relationship with Gina?"
Peter turned to Neal. "Is he stalking her?"
Not wanting to throw his friend under the bus, Neal said, "I'd have to look up the legal definition."
"I hate to break it to you guys," Peter said, "but your girl, Gina, has a boyfriend. Tommy Barns."
"A version of me," Mozzie pointed out.
Peter said, "If you were a low end criminal, and drove limos as a part time job."
" Mozzie thought that was uncomfortably close to accurate. "If."
Neal said, "Wait a minute. I overheard Navaro say a driver stole a hundred million dollars from him. Tommy rips him off, he goes after the girlfriend."
Diana came into the office and said, "Got another ping on Gina."
Within minutes, they were on their way to Central Park, where Gina had last used her credit card.
# # #
An hour later, they were back in the elevator, riding up to the 21st floor with a plan. The office staff was currently gathering video footage from every person who had bought something with a credit card at Central Park during the time Gina had been there, hoping to catch a glimpse of her, and whoever she was with.
As soon as the doors slid open, Diana, Mozzie, Neal, and Peter all stepped out into the hallway. Neal tried to walk towards the glass doors, but Peter's hand on his upper arm held him back.
Peter said to Diana, "Take Mozzie up to the conference room, and check on the status of those videos. We'll be there in a couple minutes."
Diana nodded, and gestured for Mozzie to go first. Mozzie was too caught up in his worry for Gina to even glance at Neal, and missed the look of apprehension on the younger man's face.
Once they were alone in the hallway, and the heavy glass doors had cut off a good portion of the noisy office sounds, Neal gave Peter a charming smile. "What did you need, Peter?"
Peter kept a hand on him, and pulled him towards the other hallway, where the bathrooms were located. "A word with you in private."
Neal's throat felt dry, and his heart rate went up. "Something wrong with you office?"
"Yeah, it has windows."
Neal's stomach did a dive at those words.
Peter went straight to the unisex handicapped bathroom door. He ushered Neal inside, let go of his arm, and locked the door behind them.
Neal pressed his back up against the wall next to the sink, putting as much distance between them as possible. He had a pretty good idea why Peter would bring him to this bathroom rather than to the men's room. It had a locking door, there were no windows, and it rarely got used. Neal said, "Look, I know you're mad, but
"You're damn right I'm mad!" Peter interrupted.
Neal broke eye contact and muttered, "Mozz needed my help."
"I don't have a problem with you helping Mozzie. I have a problem with the way you helped him. I have a problem with you following up on a lead in a possible kidnapping case without telling me first. I also have a problem with you breaking and entering, both at Sal's, and at Gina's apartment." Peter saw the look of surprise on Neal's face at that last bit, and he pointed a finger at him, "Don't even think of trying to deny that one, I can already tell that you did it."
Neal pouted, and glared at the floor.
Peter sighed, and said quietly, "If I'd gotten to Sal's a couple of minutes later, you could be dead, Neal. You scared me today."
Neal's eyes shot back up to meet Peter's. He could see the concern on Peter's face, and whispered, "I'm sorry."
Peter nodded. "Apology accepted. I know that wasn't your intention. But
" He looked around the room, and put the lid down on the toilet. "
that doesn't mean you're off the hook for the events leading up to that." He put one foot up on the toilet seat and beckoned Neal towards him with two fingers.
Keeping his back against the wall, Neal's eyes glanced in the general direction of the office, and winced at what people might hear. He whispered, "Please not here."
Understanding the worry, Peter said, "No one can hear us out here, but if it will make you feel better
" He walked to the sink, and turned the water on full blast. Then he hit the button to turn on the electric hand dryer, before returning to his earlier position, and beckoning to Neal again.
Neal knew the background noise would drown out the muffled sound of Peter's hand making contact with his slacks, but he still didn't want it to happen here and now. Well, he didn't want it to happen at all, but especially not at the office where he'd have to face everyone as soon as it was over. Raising his voice to be heard, Neal said, "Can't this wait until tonight?"
Peter walked over, so he could be heard without shouting. "I don't know how long this case will last. We may be here overnight, and I don't think this will be as effective a lesson if there's a lot of time between the criminal act, and the punishment."
A blush settled on Neal's face at those words. He didn't struggle when Peter pulled him over to the toilet, but he did mutter, "Just thinking about it should be punishment enough."
The corners of Peter's mouth turned up, but he quickly schooled his features, knowing it would only make the kid feel worse at this point. He put his foot on the toilet lid again, and pushed Neal down until his stomach was leaning against Peter's raised thigh.
With dismay, Neal realized that this position wasn't any less awkward than being all the way across Peter's lap. He'd thought that having both his feet firmly on the floor, supporting most of his weight, would make him feel less vulnerable, but that wasn't the case.
Peter said, "No breaking and entering. Period." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he started swatting.
Neal kept his mouth clamped shut, but a small grunt came from his throat after the first swat. The muscles in his body tensed, to hold the position he was in.
After ten firm swats, Peter paused and said, "You don't go following a lead on possible criminal behavior without telling me you're up to. Got it?"
Neal nodded rapidly. Peter brought his hand down ten more times, while Neal struggled to keep his mouth shut, and stay in place.
Pausing again, Peter said, "We've gone over trust a few times, Neal. But here we are again."
Desperate for it to be over before he broke down into tears, Neal said, "I do trust you Peter, I swear I do. But Mozzie doesn't, and I was helping him."
The hand dryer turned off automatically, and the sound of the water running into the sink filled the room while Peter thought that over. Neal turned his head, so he could see Peter's face. Keeping his voice quiet, he said, "I'm sorry, Peter. Really. And I've learned my lesson. Please."
With lingering doubts that he was doing the right thing for Neal, Peter let the kid stand up. He knew he'd been more lenient with Neal since they'd seen Kate blow up, and he sincerely hoped he was handling Neal the right way after that kind of trauma. Peter surprised them both by pulling Neal into a quick strong hug.
Neal automatically put his arms around Peter too, barely realizing what he was doing until after the fact. He hadn't been anywhere close to tears during the short spanking, but feeling Peter's arms around him in a forgiving embrace made his throat tighten.
Peter patted him on the back, and they both let go. Peter put a hand on Neal's shoulder and said, "I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here, Neal. Don't make me regret trusting you."
Neal made eye contact. "I won't."
Letting his hand drop, Peter went and turned the water off. He put a hand on the doorknob and said, "Ready to get back to it?"
The thought of having to face everyone made Neal shudder. "Can I have a couple of minutes?"
Understanding, Peter nodded. "You've got ten minutes. Then I want you in the conference room."
Peter unlocked the door and stuck his head out to check the hallway. He turned back to Neal and said, "Coast is clear, just to ease your mind."
Relieved beyond belief, Neal said, "Thanks."
Once Peter was gone, Neal locked the door again, and checked his watch, before putting both hands on his rear end. He tried to rub away some of the pain, and took a couple of deep breaths to calm himself down. He had to compose himself, or Mozzie would know something was off.
Peter's words of trust kept racing around in Neal's head, making him feel guilty for looking into Kate's murder, especially since Peter had told him not to. But the need to find her killer outweighed everything else right now. He tried to justify his actions by telling himself if something ever happened to Elizabeth, Peter would do everything in his power to find her killer, no matter what the cost.
Taking a deep breath, Neal assured himself he was doing the right thing. He even tried to convince himself that when Peter inevitably found out, that he would understand. With renewed determination, Neal left the safety of the bathroom, and headed to the conference room to help his friend find Gina.
(Feedback makes me happy.)
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