Fandom Inception, White Collar
Word Count: 1,466
Summary: Arthur meets Neal Caffrey.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters within--I just like playing with them.
Author's Note: Based off of this prompt on inception_kink: There's only one person in the world that Eames wants to approve of his and Arthur's relationship, and that's his BFF Neal Caffrey. Bonus points for Neal completely adoring Arthur, but still giving the whole "If you hurt him..." speech. Extra, extra love for some Neal/Peter, as well.
ETA - podfic of this fic can be found here courtesy of the talented fishpatrol
There’s a reason why Arthur has never condoned bringing Eames along when contacting his sources. Eames has a tendency to distract and flirt outrageously and generally be charming (though Arthur would never admit it out loud) and it makes extracting information rather difficult to say the least. It’s incredibly inefficient and invariably drags out a thirty minute meeting into three hours worth of breathless giggling or discussing something utterly inane like the correct way to hold a putter.
And once the meetings are over, Eames isn’t above responding to Arthur’s glare with an unapologetic smile and something unrepentantly breezy like, “I think it’s very important to fix your posture while golfing.” Eames likes to pretend that snipping away at Arthur’s already short fuse is a highly enjoyable game. Arthur usually comes away with a minimal fraction of the information he intended to get.
He doesn’t know why he keeps forgiving Eames or conveniently forgetting the disasters of previous meetings every time that Eames insists on tagging along.
The mind-blowingly hot sex might play a role.
But today, Arthur already has the beginnings of a headache by the time that his newest source shows up. Eames is lounging in a chair to his left and they’re having an argument about subconscious militarization—or rather Eames is proposing ludicrous ideas and Arthur is pointedly ignoring him in favor of prepping himself for the meeting—when a small balding man with glasses surreptitiously makes his way towards them. Arthur looks up just as he seats himself and promptly props open a menu to hide behind.
“Are you Arthur?” the man asks.
There is a slight pause and Arthur leans forward and says kindly, “You know, Mr. Haversham, hiding behind that menu only makes you more conspicuous.”
And as an added bonus, Eames squints at the man and asks, “Moz?”
“Mr. Haversham!” the man insists in a most unbecomingly high pitched tone. Arthur looks from the man to Eames who is suddenly beaming. If Eames ruins this for him—
“You don’t fool me, Moz,” Eames persists with a grin, “Is Neal around?”
“I don’t know who you’re talking about!” Haversham says. He stops, looks at Eames with a pained expression and then adds, “But if I did know a Neal, I might find him within a two mile radius of 385 West St.”
Eames beams and claps Moz on the shoulder, “Good man, Moz.” And then he’s gone.
When Arthur concludes the meeting (in only twenty-seven minutes!), Moz leans forward and says with a tiny smile:
“Tell Eames that his suit is atrocious. And that I haven’t forgotten that he owes me from Bombay.”
“Is there something I should know about this Neal?” Arthur asks as Eames lazily moves his lips along Arthur’s jawline. If the tone of his voice is a little sharper than usual, or if his jaw is set—it doesn’t mean anything at all.
Eames pulls away for a moment and then he sounds delighted, “Are you jealous?”
Arthur doesn’t say anything and Eames slides his fingers across the tie that Arthur’s wearing and hooks a finger into Arthur’s collar. His smile is hugely amused as he studies Arthur’s face, tongue wetting his lower lip as he pulls Arthur’s tie loose, “There’s no need to worry, darling. You will forever be the burning flame in my heart, the wind beneath my wings, the lighthouse to guide—“
Arthur kisses him to shut him up.
Eames specifically doesn’t tell Arthur what Neal’s last name is. “It’s so you don’t waste valuable time, love. I know how much you hate wasting time.”
It doesn’t stop Arthur from spending an entire afternoon looking up every Neal residing in New York City.
He’s pretty sure Eames did it on purpose.
The hostess gives Eames a critical once over when they arrive. Eames gives her a jaunty sort of smirk and Arthur is unfazed as she reluctantly leads them into the back of the restaurant. Eames knows better than to slip his arm around Arthur’s waist or put a hand at the back of his elbow but he’s standing awfully close and there’s a strangely pinched expression in the tilt of his lips. If Arthur didn’t know any better, he’d say that Eames was nervous.
He shoots Eames a vaguely confused expression but either Eames doesn’t seem to notice or he’s ignoring Arthur, which is a first. He doesn’t have any time to voice anything though, because the hostess says, “Here we are,” and smiles at the man already seated at the table. She shoots Eames another disapproving glance and leaves.
“Eames,” the man greets with a warm grin as he rises. He turns towards Arthur and holds out his hand, “And you must be Arthur. It’s such a pleasure to meet you. I’m Neal.”
Arthur studies Neal. His smile is bright and genuine, like he’s actually pleased to be meeting Arthur. He’s dressed in a slim fitting Gucci suit that emphasizes the long lines of his body. Arthur has to admit that he’s pulling it off pretty damn well. There’s a fedora placed on the table next to the wineglass.
And he’s attractive. The kind of attractive that makes him want to narrow his eyes at Eames and wonder.
“Pleased to meet you,” Arthur replies in a neutral voice, but the lack of friendliness doesn’t seem to deter Neal. He just gestures to the table.
“Please, sit. I was in a Tempranillo mood—I hope you don’t mind,” he nods to the bottle of wine before smiling at Arthur again, “May I pour you a glass?”
“Thank you,” Arthur says. He has a feeling that he might need alcohol before the night ends.
“Eames?” Neal maneuvers the bottle in Eames’s direction. He pauses a moment, studies the brown sports jacket that Eames has thrown on and he says very patiently, “Eames, your dress shirt is the same color as your pants. Neither match your jacket.”
“Pour me some wine, Caffrey,” Eames says.
“At least there isn’t any tweed,” Neal agrees.
Arthur warms up considerably to Neal.
“I tried burning it all,” Arthur informs Neal, “But he showed up too early. I think he’s got a sixth sense about these things.”
“Pity,” Neal says sadly.
Eames gives them both a long-suffering look.
When Eames picks up one of Arthur’s hands in the middle of retelling a story about how he and Neal had once spent three days hiding away from the authorities in a tiny village on the border between Bolivia and Argentina, Arthur gives him a sharp glance. Eames doesn’t miss a beat, just smiles lazily at Arthur.
Neal doesn’t even blink.
Eames excuses himself to the restroom. Arthur figures that it might be another fifteen minutes before he returns—there are far too many attractive rich people around in this restaurant to even consider the possibility that Eames’s trip will be straightforward.
It leaves him alone with Neal.
Neal sets his wineglass down and smiles at Arthur. His voice is simple and unassuming as he tells Arthur, “I think you’ll be good for him.”
To his credit, Arthur’s expression doesn’t even change. After all, Eames spent the entire dinner practically broadcasting the fact that he and Arthur were in a relationship, much to Arthur’s annoyance. But it’s Eames and he’s never been one for restraint and subtleties and Arthur can’t find it in himself to fault Eames too heavily for that.
“He really cares about you,” Neal goes on to say, “I don’t think I’ve seen that look in his eyes before.”
Neal is a secret romantic. Of course he is.
His smile suddenly turns a little sharp though, and he leans forward towards Arthur, his voice suddenly low but still deceptively light, “If you hurt him though—“
Arthur’s heard a thousand threats before, made by men three times Neal’s size, men who have practically had magnitudes more power—but this—
Something tells him that these are words he actually wants to heed.
But Neal doesn’t finish the threat, just leans back and smiles at Arthur, “Something says I can trust you not to.”
But there’s still the implicit promise in his eyes, the one that suggests to Arthur that he’s not nearly as lighthearted about this as he may seem. And he’s heard of Neal Caffrey—familiar with some of his works, and Arthur has no doubt that his name might still hold some weight among the less illustrious parts of society.
“I won’t,” Arthur says firmly.
“I just want you to know—” Eames says preemptively as he slides into the passenger seat, “—that if you and Neal have hashed out any plans to do damage to my wardrobe, I am on to you both.”
Arthur rolls his eyes.