Summary: Just another Friday evening at the White Collar offices.
Yet another Friday evening saw Peter Burke and his team working late at the office. But this time, the atmosphere in the White Collar division didn't carry the urgency or fervour that most late nights entailed. After all, they had just wrapped a case, and not just any case, but one that had made the rounds of almost every senior desk in several divisions and all but plagued the New York Field Office for months. And they'd cracked it with a combination of Neal's savvy undercover work, Diana's determined eagle eye and Clinton's technological wizardry. Peter chuckled to himself as he toyed with the inclusion of his gut on that list. They could consider it a true team effort then. Peter had never been prouder of his people.
He looked up from the report he'd been meticulously writing, making sure to highlight each and every person's contributions, and turned his gaze on the last three people remaining in the bullpen with a fond glance. Everyone else had left, but his team had stayed behind to finish up the reports and a comfortable air of camaraderie had settled over the room. He couldn't hear the conversation from inside his office, but it looked like Neal and Diana were engaged in some sort of mock argument while good old Clinton appeared to be biting his lip to stop from laughing and struggling to maintain his composure as he diligently composed his own report of the past week's events. Still, Neal was grinning cheekily as he leaned back deeply in his chair, legs propped up on his desk, tossing that damn rubber-band ball in the air as he continued to tease Diana, who was growing increasingly indignant.
As he watched, Diana evidently had had enough and stalked over to Neal in a couple of strides. With the same lightning reflexes he'd seen her display in the field, she snatched Neal's beloved black fedora off the corner of his desk, placed it firmly on her own head and returned to her seat with a deviously wicked, triumphant smirk aimed straight at the guys across the way. Clinton gave up all pretence of trying to work and threw his head back laughing outright as Neal's chair flung forward and he scrambled to swing his legs off the table to scowl at Diana. Peter felt his own lips curl into a grin as Neal's scowl turned into a pout that had no right to look so endearing on a grown man. In any case, he'd been right all along and he'd even given Neal fair warning. Diana totally would rather be wearing the hat. And she didn't look half bad in it either.
Peter smiled fondly to himself as he recalled their first case together and that conversation at the JFK luggage holding room. They had all come such a very long way since then.
With those thoughts still swirling in his mind, his stomach decided to bring itself to his attention and he looked down at his watch. It wasn't that late, but late enough that only the most longsuffering significant others would still be waiting with dinner on the table. For a moment, he panicked because he hadn't called Elizabeth to say he'd be late, then suddenly remembered that she had left for San Francisco that morning and wouldn't be back till Sunday. Peter was so very glad that her business was really taking off, and heartburstingly proud of Elizabeth's achievements, but that didn't mean he didn't miss her terribly when they had to be apart. Also, and more to the point, he really wasn't feeling like reheating leftovers and didn't think he could find the energy to make dinner for his lonesome either. He looked down at his team again and chuckled. Neal and Diana were now having a face-off, circling Diana's desk like kids playing tag, with Neal's hat still firmly on Diana's head, and out of Neal's reach, while Clinton cheered enthusiastically from the sidelines. He shook his head and stood up with a longsuffering, paternal sigh, smoothing out the wrinkles in his shirt and shrugging on the suit jacket over his shoulder holster. The report was mostly done and no one was going to read it till Monday anyway. He flicked the lights off in his office and stood at the railing overlooking the bullpen, trying to appear as severe as possible as he pointedly cleared his throat.
Three sheepish faces turned to look up at him.
The Stern Taskmaster had never really been his style and Peter felt his own face melt into a shit-eating grin once more.
"Come on. Pack up. We're going for dinner. I'm buying."
A/N: Random scenelet that popped into my head. Continue? Yes? No?