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22 December 2011 @ 01:30 am
[fic: white collar] Party Trick  
Fic! Now with 34% more plot!

Title: Party Trick
Characters/Pairing: Diana & Neal, Gen
Rating: T
Word count: 3000
Warnings: Some violence
Summary: Diana and Neal are undercover together. Of course, things don't go smoothly. For the 'hostage' square on my hc_bingo

Note: Custom comment pages are currently turned on in my journal, due to LJ's fantastic break-everything update. I hope this doesn't cause problems for anyone.


- o -

It wasn't actually a bad party. Diana thought she might even have been able to enjoy herself, were she not on Neal Caffrey's arm.

He lowered his head to the level of her ear. "You should smile more," he murmured. "You want to look beautiful, don't you darling?"

She beamed at him, and tightened her grip on him until she drew a wince. "You are so going to regret this," she said in her most charming voice.

"Now, now, children," Peter's voice chided through her earpiece. "Play nice.

Neal clearly wanted to make a petulant remark but they were passing too close by another couple for him to risk it. Diana considered she had won the round by default, and helped herself to a glass of juice from a passing waiter in celebration. "I don't see our friend," she said.

Neal was scanning — casing — the room without appearing to. "Oh, he'll be here. Jeffreys isn't the sort to sink this much money into a party and not appear at it."

"Well, he hasn't so far."

"He's probably watching through the camera in the chandelier, waiting for the perfect moment. Guys like him can never resist showing off."

"Speaking from experience?" Neal always seemed to bring out her inner twelve-year-old.

"You wound me," he said breezily, and paused to sweep a strand of hair from her face, with a grin that said he knew perfectly well she would make him pay later. "Although," he frowned, "It does seem a little strange that he's not here yet. We've been here an hour."

There were a great deal of people in the large room. Diana let her gaze drift over them. "Perhaps we'll be lucky and he'll show off those diamonds he allegedly acquired last week." But there would be plenty of time to close in on him later. They were here tonight so that Neal could introduce himself to Jeffreys as the foundation for the sting they were planning.

His continued non-appearance was beginning to make her anxious.

She glanced up at Neal, and found that he was still frowning slightly. "Something feels off," he said softly, bending so that he could speak directly into her ear, making certain that no one would hear him other than her and the rest of the team in the van. "I'm not sure what, though."

"I agree," Diana said, certain that her smile was beginning to look a little fixed. There was a palpable underlying tension in the room which she was just becoming aware of. "Any ideas?"

Neal let go of her waist and sidestepped to wink at a waitress, who immediately forgot what she had been doing under the full force of the Caffrey Flirtation. Diana rolled her eyes slightly and turned away — to collide with a man who had just stepped backwards into her path.

"Excuse me," he exclaimed, grabbing her wrist to steady himself. Then he moved as fast as a cobra striking, twisting her arm up behind her and bringing the barrel of a revolver to bear against her neck. "No one move!" he shouted.

There was a breathless gasp as most of the guests froze, but others had clearly been waiting for the signal. By the time Neal had noticed something was happening and turned back a dozen handguns had appeared from inside jackets.

"What are you doing?" Neal asked, as she tried to fractionally shake her head at him.

The gun was jammed harder into Diana's neck. "Stay still and shut up, or I shoot your girlfriend," the man holding her said.

Okay, Diana thought with an eerie calm. So I'm playing the damsel in distress. Off the top of her head she knew at least four ways to break out of the armlock and disarm her captor before he had time to react, but she remained still. That sort of action could put others in danger.

"Diana?" Peter was demanding in her ear.

"Don't move," she said, looking straight at Neal.

Her captor took a few steps backwards, forcing her to move too. The other armed men were forming up on him. "Good advice. Everyone, listen to the pretty lady. I don't want to hurt her, so don't do anything that means I have to."

"What do you want?" Diana said, getting her voice to tremble.

"Don't worry, darling, it's nothing personal." His breath on her neck was making her feel dirty. He raised his voice again. "Jeffreys, I know you've got a massive bleeding heart, so how about you bring out the diamonds and I won't slaughter all your lovely guests."

"He's not even here!" Neal protested. "You're giving him no incentive to — "

One of the men shot him.

The bullet hit Neal in the thigh. His face made an 'O' of surprise, as if he hadn't at all expected that to happen, and then he crumpled to the floor.

"Nick!" Diana shrieked, and it wasn't hard, wasn't hard at all to play the part of the terrified and uncomprehending girlfriend. "You shot him!" she added, for Peter's benefit.

"Yeah, I guess we aren't screwing around after all. You, take her," the man holding her demanded to one of his associates and she was passed over. As if she was nothing more than a prop in all of this.

Neal was breathing hard, his face screwed up in pain as he pressed his hands against his leg, dark blood oozing through his fingers. He was muttering something which could have been a prayer or a series of expletives, but Diana, watching his lips, realised that he was actually giving Peter a situation report. She felt a surge of pride in him, strongly mixed with worry.

"Please, help him," she said, putting all her desperation into her voice. Obviously the gang behind her didn't care, but there were so many people standing frozen. One of them had to do something.

She met the eyes of a young woman in green who swallowed hard and took a couple of shaky steps forward to drop her shawl into Neal's lap. He seized it gratefully and padded it against the wound. The woman retreated quickly. Her partner grabbed her arm angrily, but she shook him away. Thank you, Diana mouthed at her, and got a wide-eyed nod in response.

They just had to stay alive until backup reached them. It should be mobilising already, but a team large enough to overpower upwards of ten armed men would require more than a few minutes to put together, especially this late in the evening.

This wasn't supposed to be a dangerous operation, after all.

"Jeffreys!" the boss called again. Apparently Neal wasn't the only one confident that he was watching through concealed cameras. "Get out here right now, or we'll come and find you!"

The man wasn't stupid. He had to know that he and his associates were on a clock.

Diana didn't resist as they pulled her towards the doorway.

"Hey," one of the men said, gesturing towards Neal with his gun. "We should bring her boyfriend along, to make sure she cooperates."

"I'll do whatever you want," Diana said quickly. "Please just leave him alone, you've hurt him already."

The boss smiled nastily. "Yes, and we can hurt him plenty more. Bring him." He nodded to a pair of his men. "You and you, guard the guests."

They hustled Diana out of the door and along the hallway. Clearly the men knew where they were going. She couldn't see what was happening to Neal but she could hear him gasping painfully and occasionally making noises she couldn't describe as anything other than whimpers, which was worse.

She was deposited in front of a heavy oak door. The boss rapped on it sharply and quickly stepped back. "Hey, Jeffreys. One of your lovely guests is going to open this door and take the diamonds off you. If that doesn't happen I'll leave her brains splattered all over it as decoration, and I know you don't have the stomach to deal with that." He waited a second, and then jabbed her in the small of her back with the revolver. "What are you waiting for?"

Just keep playing along. She took a breath to calm herself, remembered that she was supposed to be terrified rather than calm, mentally shrugged, and opened the door.

It was a little anti-climactic. Jeffreys stood inside the study in evening dress, clutching a black jewellery box. He looked past her and his eyes went wide. "Don't shoot me, Cal! We're friends!"

"Used to be friends, until you sold me out," Cal growled. "Those are the McKarthy diamonds? All of them?"

"Yes!" Jeffreys insisted, and Diana felt a surge of triumph at the knowledge that this was being recorded. One case closed, at least.

"So, give them to the nice lady."

Diana took the opportunity to push her hair out of her face with visibly shaking hands before she took the box.

"Open it."

The contents were decidedly not anti-climactic. When she passed the box to Cal he was too engrossed in staring at the shimmering heap of millions of dollars' worth of diamonds to notice her drop her earpiece (with bonus GPS tracking) into the pocket of his jacket.

Momentarily forgotten, she looked for Neal. He was slumped against a wall, his face pressed against it and his eyes tightly shut. She could see the smeared trail of blood that he had left all down the hallway.

"Nick," she said, and when no one immediately stopped her she half-ran to him. He leaned into her gratefully as she slipped her arms around him. "God. Are you okay?"

"You could kiss me better," he suggested. "I am your boyfriend, after all."

"Do you ever stop screwing around?" she asked incredulously.

He shrugged. "This is a terrible party," he muttered.

She leaned her cheek against the left side of his face, where he was wearing his own transmitter. "Peter, I planted my earpiece on Cal so you can track him if he runs," she whispered. "But you really need to hurry with backup. Any second now we're both going to become expendable. Not to mention Jeffreys."

"I don't think he wants to kill anyone," Neal whispered back.

"He may not feel he has a choice, since we can all identify him. Unless you have any bright ideas?"

"I'm having a bit of trouble concentrating right now," Neal pointed out. He took a shuddering breath and wiped some of the sweat from his forehead. "How about I pretend to faint and you make a run for it? They might decide I'm not worth it, and you have a good chance of getting away."

"That's an absolutely dreadful plan," she said.

"So think of a better one." He cocked his head slightly. "Peter says ten minutes."

It might as well have been ten hours. Diana looked around, taking in every detail of the hall. Cal and two of his men were having a whispered discussion. "Can Peter pick up what they're saying?"

Neal waited. "He says do a better job bug-planting next time."

"I'm sure he didn't use those words. Not everyone's as immature as you."

"Spoilsport."

Diana suddenly caught her breath. "I have an idea. But it's really stupid and might get us both killed."

Despite the pain showing in every inch of him, Neal's quick grin was undiminished. "So what are you waiting for?"

She briefed him quickly.

At the prospect of action Neal seemed to have pulled more energy into himself. "Aren't you going to finish by asking me if I trust you?" he asked hopefully. "It's traditional."

"And give you the opportunity to make more smart-ass quips? Screw that."

Taking a deep breath, Neal pushed himself upright and staggered away from the wall, falling against one of the men, who instinctively threw up his arms to ward him off.

Diana moved. She twisted the man's pistol out of his hand before he had even realised what was happening and pumped shots into both of the fire extinguishers mounted halfway up the wall.

There was a roar as they ruptured under the released pressure, sub-zero CO2 spraying out and vapourising into icy clouds.

Neal flung his arm around her shoulders and then they were moving, lurching down the hallway and falling through the first door they came across while the chaos created by the makeshift smoke grenade was still raging. Diana slammed the door closed, but there was no lock and they were at the bottom of a flight of stairs.

"Can you make it?" she asked.

He gave her a tight nod and she felt unreasonably guilty as she half-hauled him up the steps, knowing they had barely any time at all. Then there was a door and the room behind it was a bathroom with — Oh, thank god — a lock in the door, one with an old-fashioned keyhole rather than a flimsy bolt. She dumped Neal down on the floor and flipped the key — not a second too soon, because she could hear feet on the stairs. Of course, they had left a rather obvious trail.

The handle was being tried. "Can they get in?" she demanded.

Neal had his head supported on the side of the bath, a hand still clutching that green shawl against his leg. "Heavy oak door and an iron lock," he panted. "They won't smash that in ten minutes unless they brought a battering ram. Don't take the key out, though."

"I wasn't planning to," she assured him, and did a hurried search for any first aid supplies, coming up empty. Clearly the universe still hated them. She resorted to folding in half the small rug on the floor and passing it to him to use as an added pressure bandage.

Whoever had been at the door had already left, probably realising the more sensible course of action was to try and get away before the calvary showed up.

Neal was clutching the edge of the bath in an ever more precarious effort to stay upright. Diana sat down cross-legged, with the stolen gun next to her, and gently pulled him downwards so that his head was cradled in her skirt.

He made a noise of relief. "That's much better."

"Don't get use to this, Caffrey," she warned him, her lips tugging themselves into a grin. She checked his pulse. It was shallow and worryingly fast. "Stay with me," she ordered as his eyes fluttered closed.

He groaned. "I've been shot."

"Yes, which was your own fault for not keeping your mouth shut." Part of her felt mean for verbally jabbing him while he looked so vulnerable, his skin greyish and clammy, his body shaking with fine tremors. But the bickering did seem to help in keeping him alert.

"I was trying to protect you," he protested. "Chivalry and all that."

"Which is totally why I just saved your ass."

His eyes were closed again, but he gave a hint of his wicked grin anyway. "I'll make you dinner to say thanks. For you and Christie."

"What, so you can pump my girlfriend for more gossip on our relationship?" Diana sighed. "Only you, Caffrey, would be scheming even while leaking blood on my favourite dress."

"Me?" he protested, opening his eyes wide, the better to look innocent. "I'm being serious." He had to pause to take a breath. "Genuine. Nice."

"What, no ulterior motives at all?" When he didn't answer, Diana shook him slightly. "Neal, keep talking to me, okay?"

He groaned. "Alright, maybe a little," he admitted.

"A little ulterior motive?"

"Yeah. Just a little."

The key was suddenly poked out of the lock. It hit the floor with a clatter. Diana's heart stuttered but she had barely had time to raise her gun when the door was flung open to reveal Peter and a whole lot of FBI agents, all of whom quickly lowered their weapons. She did the same, and felt the tension flood out of her.

Neal blinked up. "Hey Peter," he said weakly. "Diana was awesome."

"You lied to me," she said accusingly. "You said it would take someone ages to get through the door."

"I didn't think any of them would be able to pick locks. Nothing you could have done. I didn't want you to worry."

Peter, already kneeling next to them so that he could check on Neal, shook his head. "That's kind of sweet," he said, with a wry smile. "But also really, really dumb."

"I've been shot," Neal protested. Clearly he had decided that he was onto a good thing as far as excuses went.

"The medics will be here any moment," Peter assured them. He patted Diana on the shoulder. "Nice work, by the way."

"Thanks," she said, smiling now herself. It was over, they were safe, Neal was going to be okay. "Actually, Neal's going to cook Christie and me dinner as a reward for not letting him get himself killed."

Neal looked startled. "What, you're going to hold me to that?"

She ruffled his hair, and got a scowl. "Damn right I am," she said. And watched him try not to look pleased.
 
 
 
oh these heroes come and go;micheleeeex on December 22nd, 2011 02:13 am (UTC)
I love this! Great job :D
Frith: White Collar - Diana - happyfrith_in_thorns on December 22nd, 2011 12:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :D
kriadydragon: Beastkriadydragon on December 22nd, 2011 02:32 am (UTC)
Awesome:D
Frith: White Collar - Neal+Peter - shirtsfrith_in_thorns on December 22nd, 2011 01:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
ivorysilk: Fall forest sceneivorysilk on December 22nd, 2011 02:35 am (UTC)
So sweet and fun--thanks!
Frith: White Collar - Neal - hat bluefrith_in_thorns on December 22nd, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed reading! :)
michelel72: CM-Garcia-Joymichelel72 on December 22nd, 2011 02:44 am (UTC)
Great action, and I love how amazing Diana is!
Frith: White Collar - Diana - happyfrith_in_thorns on December 22nd, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC)
I absolutely adore Diana :D I'm really glad you liked this story!
Winterwinterstar95 on December 22nd, 2011 02:52 am (UTC)
Very intense. Loved Diana, you definitely have her voice.
Frith: White Collar - Diana - happyfrith_in_thorns on December 22nd, 2011 01:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I really liked writing Diana, I'm happy that she came across well :D
sinkwriter: WC - Neal - Meeeep.sinkwriter on December 22nd, 2011 04:18 am (UTC)
I love stories with good Neal and Diana banter. You wrote it fantastically. Lots of fun, good pacing and tension, worry for Neal, excitement with undercover work and hostage situation stuff... I liked it a lot. Should you be in the mood to write more, I would happily read it.

:)

Thanks for the fun story!
Frith: White Collar - Diana - happyfrith_in_thorns on December 22nd, 2011 02:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much for your comment; I'm really glad that you enjoyed this story! :D I loved writing Diana.
love_82 on December 22nd, 2011 05:26 am (UTC)
I love this. I love Neal and Diana stories. I love how great Diana was in this.
Frith: White Collar - Neal+Peter - shirtsfrith_in_thorns on December 22nd, 2011 02:29 pm (UTC)
Diana's awesome, and she was so much fun to write! I'm glad you enjoyed this :)
sahiya on December 22nd, 2011 07:49 am (UTC)
Awww! This was great plotty case-fic. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Frith: White Collar - El - happyfrith_in_thorns on December 22nd, 2011 02:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! :D
sheeniannisheenianni on December 22nd, 2011 10:58 am (UTC)
This is amazing. I really love it.
Neal mumbling information to Peter even after he was shot, Diana planting the bug, their plans how to get away, not to mention their whole relationship during this - it's fantastic. Everyone is in character, you paint a very visual picture and there is this great tension the whole time - perfect.
Good work :)
Frith: White Collar - Neal+Peter - walk wallsfrith_in_thorns on December 22nd, 2011 02:37 pm (UTC)
Aww, thank you for such a great comment! :D I'm really glad that you enjoyed this and that you liked how I wrote the characters :) Thanks again!
imbecamiel on December 22nd, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
Aw, that was awesome. Excellent story! :D
Frith: White Collar - Diana - happyfrith_in_thorns on December 24th, 2011 01:12 pm (UTC)
Yay, thank you very much! :D
saphirablue on December 26th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
Such a wonderful Diana and Neal fic! =)

I love the banter between the two of them and that Diana saves the day! =)

Thank you!
Frith: White Collar - Diana - happyfrith_in_thorns on December 27th, 2011 12:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, and for reccing this too! :D I completely adore Diana, and I'm really happy that you liked how I wrote her.
(no subject) - saphirablue on December 28th, 2011 07:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hoosierbitchhoosierbitch on December 27th, 2011 12:12 am (UTC)
Here via this rec on whitecollar_rec, and I loved the whole entire thing. I love your writing, and devoured all of your WC fics. Awesome work.
Frith: White Collar - Neal+Peter - shirtsfrith_in_thorns on December 27th, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much for your comment! I'm really glad that you've enjoyed reading :)
schneefinkschneefink on December 27th, 2011 07:39 am (UTC)
Diana is awesome! And Diana and Neal together even more so. Great character voices :D
Frith: Zundry - Coffee cupfrith_in_thorns on December 27th, 2011 01:16 pm (UTC)
I love Diana, she's a fantastic character. I'm really happy you liked how I wrote her here! :)
Sally M: white collar 2sallymn on January 1st, 2012 07:12 am (UTC)
Oh lovely!!! I adore them both, and together even more...
Frith: White Collar - Diana - happyfrith_in_thorns on January 1st, 2012 01:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I really had fun writing this :D
jai_03jai_03 on January 21st, 2012 01:25 am (UTC)
Love the pairing of Diana and Neal. Great story.
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile hatfrith_in_thorns on January 22nd, 2012 12:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed reading :)