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Bowl Me Over (AKA The Bowling Fic)

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It was a hot evening. The sky was a faint dusky blue beyond the streetlights; the background hum of traffic, New York's equivalent of cicadas and crickets. Neal let himself into the surveillance van with a sigh. He was increasingly convinced that being required to spend a Friday night in the van should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention.

He hung his jacket on the back of a chair and sat on the bench seat by the door, waiting for Diana and Jones to finish their shift so he and Peter could take over. Assuming Peter ever showed up.

Diana raised her hand in greeting without turning around. The footage on the CCTV screens in front of her looked unrelentingly dull. Neal rolled up his sleeves and wished he'd brought a stress ball or a deck of cards.

"Anything?" he asked.

Diana shook her head. "It's been quiet all afternoon."

Her phone buzzed. "Peter's running late," she said, reading the text message. "He got held up at the office. He'll be here in half an hour." She turned to Jones, who was manning the audio from the back office of the bowling alley across the road, and tapped him on the shoulder.

Jones pushed one earpiece back.

"Peter's late. Neal and I can cover if you want to take off," said Diana.

"You don't have to tell me twice. Hey, Caffrey." He handed Neal the headphones, maneuvering in the small space to swap places with him. He tossed his empty coffee cup in the trash and reached for his jacket. His phone rang. "Aaron. Yeah, I'm going to go home and change first."

Neal put on the headphones, one earpiece pushed back like Jones had worn them, and listened idly to his phone call. Jones was keeping his voice low, but the van was small and privacy wasn't really an option.

Jones laughed. "Yeah, okay. Meet you there." He hung up.

"Hot date?" said Diana, glancing up from her screen.

"Something like that." Jones grinned. "I'll see you tomorrow, bright and early." He opened the door, letting in a gust of humid, relatively fresh air, and then the door closed again and he was gone.

Neal raised his eyebrows at Diana. "Does Jones often have hot dates with guys?"

"It's been known to happen," said Diana. "Why?"

"I didn't know." Neal shrugged. "Statistically, what are the odds of the White Collar unit's top two agents being gay?"

"It's not a random sample." Diana kept facing the screen, but he could practically hear her rolling her eyes. "I asked to be assigned to Peter's team because I knew about Jones, and that Peter was a good boss."

"Oh." Neal leaned his head back to consider that.

"And he's not gay," added Diana.

"Peter? I know. Elizabeth—"

"Jones. He's bisexual." Diana finally turned to face him, her expression tough and challenging. "What's it to you, anyway? Is there something you want to tell us?"

"Me? Nope. I'm straight but not narrow." Neal smiled, hoping she'd relax and respond in kind. It sort of worked. She snorted and returned her gaze to the monitors.

Neal shifted in his seat and put the misaligned earpiece over his ear, so he could listen in on the fascinating exchanges involved in running a bowling alley.