White Collar fic: Afterparty

Title: Afterparty
Fandom: White Collar
Pairing: canon ones
Word Count: 2400
Summary: 6x04 missing scene. Peter's in too deep to get out, but at least he's not the only one. For my h/c bingo "arrest" square.
Crossposted: http://archiveofourown.org/works/2724341

Peter might have known that he would walk into his own house after a long day of chasing criminals and getting raked over Bureau coals to find his wife and another criminal, a regrettably familiar one, giggling over glasses of, respectively, wine and sparkling grape juice at the kitchen island. Mozzie had vanished from the crime scene with his usual stealth, which sadly did not mean that he'd vanished from Peter's life. Now he was chatting with Elizabeth like her long-lost best friend, with a plate of snacks on the countertop between them.

"I really hope there's cold beer in the fridge," Peter said, aiming for sharp but sounding weary even to himself. He tossed his keys and phone on the table and made a beeline for the refrigerator.

"Full six-pack, bottom shelf." Elizabeth snaked an arm around his waist and kissed him on the cheek. "Did you have a long day, hon? Catch some bad guys?"

"Some of them," Peter said, with a narrow-eyed glare at the uninvited guest at the kitchen island, who at least had the decently to glance down as he topped off his glass of wine. Peter twisted the top off a screw-top bottle with a little more force than necessary. "Do I want to know what you're talking about?"

"Girl talk," Elizabeth said cheerfully.

"Does this involve Eva?" Peter asked, his attention sharpening.

Mozzie's eyes cut sideways to the exits. "You have a suspicious mind, Suit."

"Gee, I wonder why," Peter said, warming to his topic. "I should arrest you, you know."

"I don't know what you're talking about, Suit. I didn't steal anything."

"You know exactly what I'm talking about. Who I'm talking about. Give me one good reason I shouldn't arrest you right now for aiding and abetting a fugitive, as well as all the other things I habitually don't arrest you for."

Elizabeth moved in smoothly to run a hand up his back. "Hon, the steaks have been marinating for hours. Do you want to fire up the grill?"

Seizing on the offered escape hatch, Mozzie said a little desperately, "Red meat is terrible for the colon."

"Stop talking about your colon in front of my pregnant wife," Peter said, aware that the argument was slipping away from him. Anyway, he couldn't exactly arrest Mozzie for suspicious loitering in his kitchen, as much as he might want to.

The pregnant wife in question swooped to the 'fridge with her usual grace to retrieve the shallow marinating dish. "I put on an extra one for Neal, if he's joining us."

"He went home for the evening." Though Peter was starting to wish this had been one of the nights he'd brought Neal home for dinner; it would have been nice to have a buffer between himself and the Mozzie-shaped irritant in his kitchen.

"Awwww." El looked disappointed as she shepherded him out to the patio.

"Why do I have the feeling you're getting rid of me?"

She kissed him again, full on the lips. He collapsed a little. Damn it. "I am not," El said, placing a finger against his chin as she pulled away, "getting rid of you at all. Tell me the truth, though: wouldn't you be happiest out here? Just you, the barbecue, and a perfect medium-well Angus steak?"

It really was annoying how well she knew him. He drank half his beer, only to have a new one materialize at his elbow (smelling faintly of El's perfume) while he was nursing the gas barbecue to the perfect temperature.

It was quiet on the patio, the buildings around them blocking most of the traffic noises. In the dimly lit calm, broken only by the neighbors' stereo playing Springsteen and the cries of children playing in someone's nearby yard, he might almost be back in his childhood small town. Best of all, it was blessedly Mozzie-free. He drank his beer, flipped the steaks, and tried to let go of the day.

"You believed me," said a quiet voice behind him.

"Gah!" At least he'd just drained the dregs of his beer, or he would've spilled it all over himself.

Mozzie ghosted onto the patio from somewhere in the shadows, very stealthy for a guy who didn't look like he had a stealthy bone in his body, and set another freshly opened beer on the patio table.

"Uh ... thanks." Peter took it, very briefly considered checking it for mind-altering substances on the rim, and then discarded the idea. They were past that. Hopefully. He wasn't really drunk, but he was lightly buzzed, enough to drink the peace offering and accept that it was a peace offering and not a poisoning attempt.


Mozzie cleared his throat. "I see you still have the rai stone."

"Of course we still have the rai stone," Peter said. "It's impossible to move it without a crane."

They had, at least, gotten three strong neighbors over to help Peter push it off the deck, where it was warping the cedar decking, into the edge of El's flowerbeds. Her roses were now trellising on it.

For a moment the two of them sipped their drinks -- Peter with his beer, Mozzie with his glass of wine -- and contemplated the rai stone and its attendant roses.

"Where's El?" Peter asked eventually.

"She went to call her mother and lie down upstairs. Pregnant women need a lot of rest."

"Oh," Peter said, "and you're an expert, are you."

"I am, in fact," Mozzie said loftily. "How many babies have you delivered, Suit?"

"How many have you delivered?" Peter countered in horrified fascination.

"Four," Mozzie said without missing a beat.

"I don't believe that for a minute."

"Have you ever seen the floor of a taxicab?" Mozzie asked. "Or smelled one?"

"Can you stop talking now?"

Surprisingly, he did. The soft evening quiet settled back around them. The Springsteen-playing neighbors had switched to early Mellencamp, and the kids had stopped their game. Somewhere among the carefully fenced patios behind their block of buildings, a deck party was going on, with chatty cocktail-party conversation just below the threshold of comprehension.

As he turned the steaks, Peter glanced at Mozzie and caught the desperate aching look on his face. It was private, not meant to be shared, so Peter paid attention to carefully pepper-salting the steaks for a minute or two. When he turned around, Mozzie had his head cocked back and was looking up at the sodium-vapor-yellow sky.

"If you don't eat red meat, what are you eating tonight?" Peter asked, somewhat against his better judgment; visions of dead crickets half blinded his mind's eye.

"I happen to have inside information that there are stuffed mushrooms in the oven."

"You won't eat steak, but you'll eat fungus?"

"Should we care to cast stones about dietary choices, Suit --"

"No stone-casting," Peter said hastily. "No stones on or off your fungus. Which do complement steak fairly well," honesty compelled him to add. He'd been deeply skeptical the first time El had added mushrooms as a side dish to a meat entree, but it was actually pretty good.

"Ah, Peter," Mozzie said, and Peter gave him a startled look while flipping rapidly through his mental Rolodex in a desperate search for the last time Mozzie had called him by name. "What are we going to do with ourselves?"

"Sorry?" Peter said after a minute. The steaks were getting a little overdone on one side. He flipped them again, thus violating his dad's rule against overcooking a good cut of ribeye, but he didn't think it could be healthy for pregnant women to eat underdone meat.

"It's a long and strange road that's gotten us here, isn't it?" Mozzie said. "Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows, as the Bard wrote. Still, 'I will here shroud till the dregs of the storm be past,' and, against my better judgment, I'm coming to find that it's not so bad, after all, to have a place to shelter. This storm will end, storms always do, but there might be other storms and roofs are a good thing to have, against a sudden and unexpected rain."

Peter stared at him. "I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about."

Mozzie sighed. "For whatever it's worth," he said, looking at his wine rather than at Peter, "I understand that I put you in a rather difficult position vis-a-vis Eva."

"What, you mean helping the known con artist, the one I was trying to arrest, escape to con again? That the vis-a-vis you're talking about?"

Mozzie paused and then struggled onward with the slow, plodding patience of a man wading across a snow-covered field in January. "What you have to understand is that I'm in a delicate situation myself, regarding the balance of ... certain people, on one side of the law, that I may have ... feelings for, versus the needs and ... considerations regarding people on the other side of the law that I --"

"Mozzie," Peter said, heartfelt, "and I say this with all due seriousness, there had better not be any 'feelings' of an inappropriate nature for me or Elizabeth --"

"I was talking about Eva!" Mozzie said, startled out of his wine contemplation.

"As long as that's --"

"It's not at all inappropriate. We're married."

"I didn't mean --" Peter stopped and took a long, long breath. "Go on," he said, as charitably as possible.

"I've lost my train of thought now."

Peter clenched his teeth, carefully removed the steaks from the grill and stacked them on a plate. When the urge to strangle Mozzie had passed (at least for the moment) he said, "For whatever it's worth, I understand why you did what you did for Eva."

Mozzie looked up quickly from his wine glass, surprise writ large across his face.

"I can't condone it, obviously," Peter hastened to add. "Still, talking about casting stones ... I've been in similar positions before -- not for the same reasons, I'd like to point out -- and I can't say I'm not prone to lapses in judgment myself." He gave Mozzie a dark look. "As evidenced by the fact that you're standing on my patio, drinking wine my wife bought, rather than sitting in an interrogation room in cuffs."

Before Mozzie could answer, the kitchen door cracked open, flooding the patio with warm lamplight. Elizabeth leaned out holding a phone that Peter belatedly recognized as his own. "It's Diana," she said, waving it at Peter.

"Hey, boss," Diana said as soon as he was on the line. "Sorry to call you at home, but you said let you know if we had anything, and I think we're on the right track at last. It's going to take a little while to finish crunching the rest of the numbers, but this might be it."

It was Diana and Jones who had talked him into going home that evening, insisting that there was nothing he could do to help, and no reason why he couldn't be home with his wife. Apparently they were still at the office. Peter felt a twist of guilt. "Give me half an hour to get there. I don't know what traffic will be like on the bridge."

"You don't have to come in --"

"This case is worth it. And if you two are there, I ought to be." He hung up before she could argue with him and only then remembered, belatedly, a) wife, and b) dinner. "Uh, El ..."

"It's all right. I'll cover up your dinner and have it waiting when you get back. But," she added, giving the beer a significant look before tapping his nose, "you're taking a cab."

"Excellent!" Mozzie exclaimed, almost spilling his wine. "I'll get my --"

"No, no," El said, letting go of Peter's hand to catch Mozzie's arm. "You're going to stay and have dinner with me. You can tell me the rest of that story about you and Eva and the truck full of oranges."

"What story?" Peter wanted to know. They both looked innocent. "Okay, I'm not sure I like the two of you conspiring behind my back."

He retrieved his wife and herded her back into the kitchen, temporarily separating her from Mozzie enough to lean in and whisper, "Do you actually want him here, or are you throwing yourself on the grenade for my sake? Because I'm sure I can come up with a pretext to take him with me."

"Now that would be a sacrifice. No, we were having a really nice chat, and I'm looking forward to hearing more Eva stories. ... And now you have that look that means you feel bad about leaving me behind while you go chase bad guys."

"I have a look for that?"

She giggled and kissed him. "Go, go, catch your bad guys and then come home to me."

"I don't think we're going to catch them yet, but hopefully we're getting closer." Peter picked up his jacket and gave Mozzie a look over the top of Elizabeth's head. "I don't know whether to tell her to keep you out of trouble, or the other way around. Just keep in mind --" And here he had to stop, because there simply weren't words to say that he was leaving his whole world in Mozzie's hands, and he didn't even mind.

But Mozzie was, for once, perfectly sincere. "No trouble shall cross this threshold, trust me, not with a Baby Suit in the oven."

"Oh God," Peter said. "There's nothing that isn't wrong with that sentence." Elizabeth looked like she was desperately trying not to laugh.

"You know, I don't recall if I've pointed this out yet, but Mozzie is an excellent name for a boy or a girl ..."

"Goodbye," Peter said, dialing the cab company. "Try not to be here when I get home."

"Peter," Mozzie said, and Peter had to look at him -- because seriously? Twice in one night? Mozzie smiled a little after getting his attention. "You can count on me."

"You know what the worst part of all of this is?" Peter said. "I know I can."


I don't like having to say this, but PLEASE don't leave comments telling me how much you don't like Peter. I've asked this before and had it ignored so many times that I'm just gonna start deleting comments which do this. It's totally cool if you have problems with the show and characters, that's FINE, discuss it all you like elsewhere; please just keep it out of my fic comments, is all I'm asking. Thank you!

This entry is also posted at http://sholio.dreamwidth.org/984326.html with comment count unavailable comments.
Aw, this was wonderful....and really caught Peter and Mozzie's awkward and weird friendship...because they are friends, however much they'd probably deny it.
Thank you so much! :) Yes, they definitely are, even if they'd hate having it pointed out.
awwww I so love this! ♥♥

Peter and Mozzie are so awesome together. I love their growing friendship, and how they're more and more here for each other all the while still driving each other crazy.

"I have a look for that?"
oh Peter, you have a look for everything.

LOL a baby Suit in the oven. Definitely very wrong saying!

Thank you so much for writing this. It makes me happy to see you writing White Collar again. :-)
Thank you! :) There's just something kind of amazing about Peter and Mozzie, because they never would've had anything to do with each other if not for Neal, and they have nothing at all in common, but they've fallen into this accidental friendship and I suspect by now would do just about anything for each other (while bickering and denying it the whole time, of course).
"You know what the worst part of all of this is?" Peter said. "I know I can."

HAhahaha! I literally laughed out loud at this. Poor Peter, what is even his life. XD
haha, thank you. :D Poor Peter, his life used to be so routine and sensible, and then these weirdos happened to him.
"Goodbye," Peter said, dialing the cab company. "Try not to be here when I get home."

Ah Sholio ... loved the entire story! You write Peter and Moz with perfection. I can't get enough of their interaction. It's also hilarious how much Mozzie is hanging around the Burke house keeping Elizabeth company.

Thanks as always. Please never stop writing White Collar.
Awww, thank you so much. :) I love all of the Mozzie + Burkes we've been getting this season; it's great!
Pure delight... and I bet it'll be even more delish once I have watched the ep and have a reference in the ep, heeeeeeee.

Peter and Moz are so perfect together, they are trying so hard to show the world they are just barely tolerating each other, but they fail epicly at that in the eyes of pretty much everyone who knows them :D

It's one of the most awesome friendships this show has given us :D

And the best part - While reading I could just see all those Peter faces to go with each word spoken by Moz, lol :D

Love \o/
they are trying so hard to show the world they are just barely tolerating each other, but they fail epicly at that in the eyes of pretty much everyone who knows them :D

ahahahaha, YEP. :D This is such a wonderful character relationship, because it came out of nowhere! Peter and Neal were there from the beginning, but Peter and Mozzie have just quietly snuck up on us, and they're so great. :D

I really hope you enjoy the episode when you watch it!
I absolutely LOVE how this season is giving us so much Peter/Mozzie interractions. "I have Neal... and the Suit" literally made me squee when Mozzie said it.

Loved the episode and this is a great tag for it :) (Also, LMAO at the rai stone. Yes, a crane would definitely be needed to move it.... :D Make you wonder what kind of con Moz pulled to get it into the garden :D )

Thank you! :) Yes, this has been such a great season for the Peter and Mozzie relationship! I never would've seen that coming!

I cannot lie, I keep checking the background of all the patio scenes for the rai stone. XD I have resigned myself to the fact that the props department is probably never going to show it again, but I can always stick it into my fics. :D
Love the unique friendship that Peter and Mozzie have. Of course Peter would understand Mozzie wanting to protect Eve.
LOL!! This was wonderful!! You really captured the relationships between all of them perfectly!! Poor Peter, having to put up with a "Mozzie-shaped irritant", lol - and "Baby Suit in the oven" is just soooo Mozzie!! :D :D And all the talk about the floor of taxi cabs and delivering babies - TMI, Mozzie, TMI!! :D

I have so much love for this fic! :D
Thank you! :) As soon as the line "baby suit in the oven" occurred to me, I knew Mozzie HAD to say that; it was so him. :)
Aww, this was wonderful! I loved the "family" feel of it so much ♥
So nice to see new WC fic from you!
I honestly feel like this could have been part of an episode. :-) I love your Peter/Mozzie interactions, El/Mozzie interactions. :D Sorry, I'm mostly incoherent thanks to cold medicine. But yay for ficcing!
Oh no, I'm so sorry you're ill! I hope you feel better soon. :(

But thank you so much! Peter and Mozzie has been the sleeper character-relationship hit of the season. They are so great!
This is wonderful. I love the Peter and Moz relationship , especially this season. They seem to have a little bromance of their own happening :D
Thank you! :) Yeah, I've always been fond of that relationship (ever since Mozzie obliquely admits that he cares about Peter way back in season three) but this season has been giving us so much wonderful stuff with them!