The True Story of the Secret Socks

Everybody knows about his lucky tie. It's one of his oldest ties. He doesn't remember who gave it that nickname. It was probably El, because she likes to tease him about it. Even he can admit it's far from his nicest tie. It's dark green, with weird patterns, and it's too big; totally old fashion. But it was a gift from his Mum, and he still loves it.

What people don't know is the true meaning of it. Peter isn't superstitious, not at all. Peter doesn't hope for the tie to bring him luck. If he had to give the tie a more appropriate name, he'd say it's his "comfort tie". Like people have their comfort food, Peter has comfort clothes. They're like secret pieces of armour that will help him get through a difficult day. They give him confidence and strength.

His comfort clothes aren't the fanciest of his wardrobe. They generally only have a sentimental value. That's what creates their charm. They're gifts, and generally attached to a special moment or person. Mostly, they remind him of his home, his family, the people and the stories that made him who he is today. Nobody can see their meaning, except Peter. It's his secret garden. He never explained it to anyone (except El, of course); you don't reveal your secret weapons.

He doesn't wear his lucky tie much these days. It's not easy feeling confident with an old fashioned tie while standing next to Neal Caffrey. So, this morning, he didn't feel like wearing the tie.

He knew the day would be highly risky, though. The operation is dangerous. Lao is of the ruthless kind. They already have an agent missing, and the pressure on Peter's shoulder is real. Plus, Peter doesn't like to involve bystanders. If anything goes wrong, it could be really risky for the restaurant owner who is giving them access.

That's why Peter picked up this particular pair of socks this morning. They are a gift from Elizabeth and definitely not your standard socks to go with a suit. They are light blue, with little dogs all over them. They're just one of those tiny little presents El and he like to make each other, for no other reason than make the other happy. It is the gesture that matters, more than the gift itself. Of course, El is much better than Peter at this little game. The main problem isn't as much to remember as to find ideas. Luckily, Peter has also married the easiest-to-please woman on Earth, and even if most of the time he simply comes up with bunches of flowers, she is genuinely delighted each time.

It's all that, and even more that is secretly enclosed in this pair of socks for Peter, and this is why he loves wearing them. Plus, contrary to the tie, they have the advantage that he can – usually – wear them without anyone noticing. He was wearing them the day he went to get Neal out of prison. And the day of the meeting where it was decided whether their partnership could be permanent.

But today, it seems it wasn't such a good idea after all. How could he have been so stupid to forget that Chinese, like most Asian people, take their shoes off before entering their home? And now, he is standing on the threshold, with his whole team staring at him, and he has no choice but reveal his secret socks, to everyone.

"Are those standard FBI issued?"

"They're a gift from Elizabeth." Peter says calmly, ignoring Neal's sarcastic tone. It's the truth, the complete truth, which explains everything. Luckily, none of them gets the full meaning of the revelation. They all display amused smiles and don't care about elaborating any further. They just think Peter Burke is a funny guy. Peter doesn't care. He loves his socks, and he's confident he'll cuff that Chinese mobster.

And at least, no one knows about his secret boxers.