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White Collar Scraps

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For a year and a half (actually quite a bit longer, if one counted various incidents during their cat-and-mouse chase) Neal had been playfully stealing things from Peter's pockets. At least these days, he gave them back ... eventually. Neal seemed to think it was funny to watch Peter hunting for his keys, or go to take out his wallet to pay at a restaurant and then pat himself down before glaring Neal's way.

"I think it's how he shows affection," Elizabeth said, one of the times he complained about it.

"Can't he send a card or something?" It wasn't that he didn't get it, it was just that he was very tired of the public embarrassment, which Neal clearly gleed over.

Now, however ... Peter had learned to pick pockets, and it was payback time.

He had to be very, very careful. He knew Neal would be unusually alert to the signs. Still, Peter had the major advantage that Neal didn't expect it, particularly in the office when Peter was (allegedly) task-focused and thinking only about work.

It took Neal two hours to notice, and Peter was only glad that he happened to be looking Neal's way and saw the look on his face when he found out his wallet wasn't there.

Neal was sharp enough to figure out instantly what had happened. He came up the stairs to Peter's office three at a time, slowed as soon as he reached the top so it wouldn't look like he was in a hurry, and then proceeded to lounge against the doorframe for a minute or two, before he said somewhat accusingly, "You."

"Sorry?" Peter asked, eyebrows raised.

"Peter," Neal said, arms folded, "I just want you to consider whether you really want to start something here."

"I wasn't the one who started it," Peter pointed out. Still, he had a brief, vivid flash of the extent to which this could potentially escalate. Waking up to find his car was gone. Coming home to find his house was gone ... okay, he couldn't figure out how even Neal and Mozzie could pull that one off, but he didn't want to find out.

"Thought about it?" Neal asked.

"I have," Peter said. He took Neal's wallet out of the bottom drawer of his desk and tossed it back. "I would ask why you have credit cards in the name of Joseph Dweezilbaum, but then I decided I didn't want to know."

"Probably for the best," Neal agreed, tucking his wallet away.

"Oh, Neal," Peter said, as Neal turned to leave. Neal looked over his shoulder. "I'd like you to just stop and take a minute to consider all the ways this could go, given my current skill set."

Neal thought that over for about half a second and Peter enjoyed the look of dawning worry on his face. "I'll ... think that over," he said, and made a hasty retreat to his desk.

After that the random pickpocketings stopped.

Well, mostly.

Okay, they were reduced in frequency, at least. It was, after all, still Neal.