The usual disclaimers: I own nothing related to White Collar; I'm just borrowing the characters for a while.

I also took liberties with FBI procedures I'm sure and probably with the geography as well. I hope you can overlook any glaring errors.

Elizabeth Burke stumbled into the bathroom, silently cursing early bird clients who insisted on what seemed like dawn meetings. She didn't have to worry about waking Peter; her husband was dead to the world this morning, which was a good thing because she'd had to run in and out of their bedroom three times already, searching for the right clothes and shoes.

Finally finishing her makeup, Elizabeth heard a knock on the door. Frowning, she noticed it was only 6:15 AM. Who in the world could be at their door so early?

Of course. Neal.

Giving vent to a sigh, she, not completely dressed, slipped on her robe and went downstairs. She had better hurry or else Neal would let himself in or he would wake Peter pounding on the door.

On the other hand, why else would Neal be here except to talk to Peter? She sighed and hurried downstairs.

Elizabeth barely beat Neal letting himself in.

"Good morning, Elizabeth," Neal said with a cheery smile.

"Good morning, Neal. You're, uh, early," El said pointedly.

Neal turned up the wattage of the smile. "You know what they say about the early bird and all of that." He held up a newspaper. "Interesting article about the Sanskara diamond. Peter see it yet?"

El smiled; it was hard to resist Neal in this mood, even when you wondered what he was up to. "Peter hasn't seen anything today. He and Jones stayed out late last night at a sports bar watching basketball. He isn't up yet."

Neal beamed. "I don't mind waiting."

Elizabeth was a bit nonplussed. "Well, it's your funeral."

Glancing toward the kitchen, Neal asked, "No coffee?"

El's hand flew to her mouth. "Oh no! I forgot to program it last night. Peter will kill you if I wake up him at this hour with no coffee!"

"I'll make it. You go brave the lion in his den," Neal offered. "I know where everything is," he added smugly.

Thoroughly flustered, Elizabeth went back upstairs. She hated it when days started out chaotic like this. Trouble was, she also knew somebody else (very well) who hated these kinds of days too.


The figure in the bed was completely covered. There was a slight rustling breath but not loud enough to be a snore. With trepidation, El pulled the covers down to Peter's shoulders. He lay on his side, in a deep sleep. For an instant she debated ignoring the man downstairs and letting her husband rest. But then Neal would be up here and the blood would be horrible to clean up…..

"Peter? Hey, honey, wake up."

She got in indistinct murmur in reply and her husband tried to burrow deeper into the bed. "Peter! Are you awake?" El asked, shaking his shoulder.

Still trying to turn away, Peter asked indistinctly, "Is the house on fire?

Smiling, Elizabeth replied, "No, dear."

"Good night," Peter replied.

"Peter, Neal is here. He needs to talk to you."

Peter's eyes slitted open. "Did he steal something?"

Elizabeth considered. "I don't think so."

"Then I'll see him at the office," Peter said dismissively and closed his eyes.

El was desperate. She didn't have time for the boys and their games. She was already running late. Then, inspiration struck. "Honey? I think Neal is looking rather shifty."

Her husband's eyes snapped open. "What's going on?"

"Something about a diamond. You'd better find out the rest from him."

Peter looked alarmed and reluctantly got out of bed, groaning and rubbing a hand over his face. He gave El a dark look. She shrugged innocently and returned to the bathroom. Elizabeth would have loved to stay and hear the story but time was short as it was. She'd get everything from Peter later.


Neal smiled as Peter slept walked down the stairs, wearing a white t shirt and sleep pants. Neal, naturally, was decked out in one of Byron's three piece suits, the picture of sartorial elegance even at this hour. "Coffee's almost ready," he sang out with disgusting cheeriness.

Peter sat down wearily at the table. "Neal, please tell me you didn't steal a diamond?"

The agent noticed that Neal did not look exactly shifty but he certainly wore his Up To Something look.

Neal had gone into the kitchen and, upon returning, brought out two steaming cups of coffee. "What? No, Peter, I didn't steal anything. Didn't Elizabeth tell you it's the Sanskara diamond?"

Sleepy eyed, Peter took a swallow of coffee. "Italian roast? Did you bring this?"

Neal grew impatient. "Peter, forget about the coffee. Focus! Didn't you hear me? It's the Sanskara diamond?" He shoved the newspaper in front of his partner and pointed out the article.

Blearily, Peter tried to focus on the article but he was reading at one tenth his usual speed, so Neal felt compelled to speed up the process. "The Sanskara diamond has disappeared again."

"The Sanskara diamond has been lost more than it has been found," Peter pointed out. He started to say something else when they heard a thud upstairs and then El's voice say, "Satchmo!" in a tone of reproof. The guilty party then came downstairs at a lope and approached the dining room table, tail wagging, his transgression already forgotten.

Peter started to get up. "I'd better feed him."

Neal jumped up. "I'll do it. Will you please just read the article?" he asked in exasperation.

Suddenly not so sleepy eyed, Peter hid a smile when Neal and Satchmo went into the kitchen. That went well. Always fun to push Neal's buttons for a change. Yawning, he read the article in the Wall Street Journal, wondering how this was supposed to involve him. Some old geezer named John Joseph Jameson III had died of heart disease and somehow the guy had – and lost – the Sanskara diamond. Peter sighed as he read on.


Neal had taken Satchmo out in the backyard to play with him and give Mr. Slower Than Molasses this morning a chance to read. Where was the great multi-tasking Agent Burke when he needed him?

Coming back inside, Neal was dismayed to find Peter gone from the table, newspaper still lying there. "He's doing this deliberately, you know," he informed the Lab. "Your father can be an evil person."

Satch was puzzled by the words but wagged his tail happily anyway.

They both heard Peter's voice upstairs and then El's. Evidently Elizabeth had misplaced something that needed an FBI agent's help in locating. Neal sat down with ill grace. If it were anybody but Elizabeth…. Satchmo abandoned Neal and went upstairs to be with his people.

Finally they came downstairs, Elizabeth in a hurry clutching purse and messenger bag full of papers. "Don't forget to feed Satch," she reminded her husband.

Peter glanced down at the dog standing beside him. "Already done," he said smugly with a nod at Neal.

El glanced at Neal, who nodded with a shrug. "Well, good. I'll call you later, all right? I want to hear about this diamond." She reached up and kissed her husband. "See you later, hon. Bye Neal."

"Bye, Elizabeth," Neal called out.

"Call me when you can. Love you, hon." Peter added.

"Love you too." Elizabeth went out the front door. Peter turned and started upstairs. Neal stepped forward. "Hey, wait a minute? What about the article?"

"Already read it," Peter said as he went upstairs. "It has nothing to do with us. Now, I've got to get ready for work."

Neal fumed as he stood in the Burke's living room.


"The Bureau has been asked to look into this Sanskara diamond business," Reese Hughes said dryly. "I caught the article on the WSJ online this morning. Seems like quite the mystery. Anybody else see it?"

Neal Caffrey's hand shot up; Hughes grimaced. With a not so subtle nudge from Neal, Peter nodded reluctantly. "I glanced at it," he admitted sourly. "Didn't seem to be much information."

"Well, it's going to be our job to find out, Agent Burke. The Director himself called the Assistant Director and so on, down the line. It has ended up in our laps. It was specified from unnamed sources that you would be the agent in charge."

Peter looked dumbfounded. Neal beamed, looking like a kid who found everything he wanted under the Christmas tree. Diana looked suspicious and Jones slouched in his chair in the conference room, as heavy eyed as Peter had been earlier.

"Hughes, with all due respect," Peter began a bit angrily, "this is a needle in a haystack. The Sanskara diamond has never been worth all the trouble it's caused – "

"Been three murders since it was discovered in 1879," Neal put in with ghoulish pride.

His partner gave him a dirty look. "We have no idea when this diamond supposedly disappeared. It was last seen in public in 1962, according to the Journal. Mrs. Jameson wore it to a fat cat fund raiser featuring the key note speaker, President Kennedy. We're supposed to find something that no one seems to have any idea when it disappeared. Are there more details than was in the article?"

"Not much," Hughes admitted. Suddenly tired, he sat down at the conference table with the team. Everyone exchanged a look; Hughes rarely sat down to run a briefing. "Everybody assumed the diamond was in the wall safe for all these years. But with the senior Mr. Jameson's passing, the diamond was not there. According to his son, John Joseph Jameson IV, there could only be a limited number of people who had access to this safe. At any rate, the estate cannot be settled until the diamond is found and this is of paramount importance to the current Mr. Jameson."

"I still don't know how I'm supposed to find a diamond that may have been stolen or misplaced a few decades ago. And what kind of staff am I going to have? How many people are we going to have onsite? It said in the article that the family estate is outside Mystic, Connecticut. Wherever that is, as there were no other details." Peter was steamed at the very thought of it.

Hughes held up a hand. "First things first. No staff, Peter. Just you. I have orders from above for this wild goose chase but nobody else was specified except for you. I've been up half the night having this explained to me personally by the AD himself. The Jameson estate is past New London and Mystic; somewhere near Lord's Point. It is near the coast. It's a 35 room mansion, built in 1904. The only ones living there now are Mr. Jameson, a widower, his cousin, Daniel Wilde, and his wife, Bettina. Mr. Wilde is the son of the late Mr. Jameson's sister."

"Wish they'd found a different name," Jones muttered. "All this JJJ stuff gives me a headache." When he looked up from scribbling, Clinton Jones was horrified to realize he'd spoken aloud. Peter and Diana were glaring but Neal favored him with a smile, quickly wiped away by Hughes' icy stare.

"Keeping late hours, are we, Jones?" Hughes said in a clipped voice. "I do so hate to inconvenience you in this way."

"Sorry, sir," Jones mumbled, all the while cursing last night's last round. And how the hell did Peter look so perky this morning anyway? He had matched Jones drink for drink.

Hughes, mercifully, moved on to Neal, whose hand had been waving frantically since the older man had ordered Peter to look into the matter. "Caffrey, stop that. You look like you're hailing a taxi."

"I'd like to go with Peter, sir," Neal spoke in a breathless rush. "I mean, thirty five rooms are a lot to search for just one person and I could help-"

"Don't be ridiculous," Hughes barked. "Thirty five rooms full of art and antiques and you want me to allow you run unfettered through all of it?"

"I'll go, sir," Diana offered, to Neal's annoyance and Peter's relief. "Between the two of us, we should be able to go through it fairly quickly."

"Does anybody actually listen at briefings anymore?" Hughes snapped. "Look, these orders came from above. Way above. They were very specific: Agent Burke was to search for the diamond and question any persons of interest he may find. No other agent was to be allowed inside the house. The Jamesons value their privacy."

It was Diana's turn to look annoyed and Neal's hand shot up again. Seeing Hughes ignore him, Neal decided on a bold course of action. "Sir, that only specifies agents; I'm not an agent. Besides, Peter could use my help," he added with a hopeful but smug smile.

Peter hid his eyes behind his hand. To Diana's surprise, Hughes was considering. "Well, I suppose I could use the old 'we didn't understand' excuse. It might work." Addressing Peter, he asked, "How comfortable are you with Caffrey in that mansion? I don't expect you to babysit him; just get the damn job done and get back here ASAP to do some real work. I've got some things of my own to do and having you," he pointed at Burke, "absent for this is ridiculous!"

Peter finally looked up. He couldn't believe how this day was turning out and it was still early morning. Stealing a quick glance at Neal, he could not help but notice how bright and happy Neal was at the thought of this misbegotten treasure hunt. But he also knew from experience how hard it was to keep track of Neal, especially under these circumstances.

Neal's smile wavered a bit when it became obvious that Peter was having doubts. But, in all honesty, Burke felt he didn't really have a choice. He wasn't going through all thirty five rooms himself. "I suppose he could be a help," Peter remarked somewhat gracelessly.

"Good, then that's settled," Hughes said hastily, as if relieved to have the whole matter behind him. Caffrey looked delighted naturally, but Burke most emphatically did not. Hughes' habitual scowl softened a trifle. "Look, Peter, I know this is a no win situation but the Director himself was approached by some senior politicians, who value the Jameson name, to assign you to the case. The Jamesons were big campaign donors in the past and that always opens up a lot of avenues not readily available to others."

"I don't understand why Jameson and his various relatives can't do their own search through the house," Peter grumbled.

Caffrey looked ready to reply until a look from Hughes made his words die stillborn on his tongue. "I suspect there are some trust issues here; you know how people get when there's a will and money involved. Just try to find the damn thing or resolve it somehow. Quickly, if possible." Hughes paused for a moment, looking uncomfortable. "Uh, my assistant found out its much cheaper to drive there than to fly, so it looks like you're driving Peter. You know they're watching the expense accounts now days." Hughes found himself studying his papers intently, rather than face the look of betrayal his senior agent was giving him. "You'd better get home and gather some clothes in a suitcase. You too, Caffrey."

Neal gave him a sunny smile. "Just think, Peter. A road trip!"

"Yeah, wonderful," Peter mumbled. His voice led everyone in the room to seriously doubt how wonderful he felt about it.

Diana still looked irritated that she wasn't going; Jones looked thankful.

Neal, however, thought about the upcoming road trip with great happiness. First time out of New York City in longer than he wanted to think about. Interesting days going through an entire mansion filled with art and antiques and hopefully a diamond somewhere. He'd always wanted a look at the infamous Sanskara diamond. To be blunt, Neal had considered taking a much closer look at it some time ago. But more inviting, easier targets presented themselves so he kept putting it off. Now he was going on a true treasure hunt. A field trip. After a leisurely day of sorting through antiques and art, there would be evenings in a fine hotel, with a great restaurant and a decent wine list. Maybe even somebody who knew what he was doing at the lounge piano bar. Good times. Even Peter would be happy, once they started the hunt and found the diamond.

Road trips to Peter meant quite a different thing. A night without Elizabeth in a strange bed. Overpriced restaurant food; way overpriced beer. Waiters with attitude. No couch, no wife, no dog and a television bereft of the many sports channels out there. Missing the Knicks game while Neal dithered over a wine list. Trying to keep an eye on Neal in a house full of temptation. Most of all, going through some rich guy's closets because he was too lazy to do it himself. Just great.

With a resigned sigh, Peter met Diana's sympathetic glance. "I wonder who I pissed off on days like this," he muttered.