Paws, Poches and all things Pedigree
AN: This is just a totally random one shot. Gen, humour, friendships, no adult content, slash or spoilers.
Disclaimer: I don't own Neal, Satchmo or White Collar.
"The more I see of man, the more I like dogs." ~Mme. de Staël
There was a reason why dogs were man's best friend.
Neal himself had never had a dog, not even as a child when that was all he really wanted - that and a new deck of cards. The con man always dreamed of this perfectly sculpted pedigree Labrador with the finest, softest golden coat the colour of sunlight glimmering on ripened wheat. The dog would have huge, shadowed eyes like two pools of darkened water and floppy, limp ears that seemed to flutter in the wind as if they were socks on a washing line. He would have a blue collar, the deepest and yet most vibrant cobalt shade like the sky in Starry Night with perhaps a dash of purple for good measure and a leash to match (it would have to be one of those adjustable ones so the dog could run freely, madly across central park with Neal trailing behind.)
Well, the dog would have to be a bit like Satchmo really.
He would have to be as gorgeous and as lovable, as proud and as loyal, as energetic and as...gone.
Satchmo was gone.
Neal blinked rapidly, his daydream suddenly wrenched from his grasp as he spun around, eyes searching rapidly for the familiar yellow animal that was rolling around in the children's sandpit only seconds before.
"Satchmo?" Neal ignored the pathetic and embarrassingly high-pitched squeak to his voice as he clutched the leash in his hand and took off further, deeper into the playground. "Satchmo!"
The swings swung without the breeze, forwards and backwards with the weight of invisible children, the hollow creaking of the roundabout as it turned slowly in night air and the random (and unexplained) snapping of twigs ony heightened Neal's terror.
He cannot have lost Satchmo.
How, in the entire city of New York, could Neal Caffrey misplace a dog?
A dog like Satchmo, who was so damn clingy, one might think he was physically stuck to Neal's leg with duct tape?
"Satch! Buddy? Where are you?" Neal ran circles around the slide, the swings, the sandpit and ducked under the tunnel in case the dog was playing the canine equivalent to hide and seek. "This isn't funny!"
But Satchmo wasn't playing a game. He wasn't anywhere in the park and Neal couldn't understand how the dog could have got away so fast when the young man only stopped paying attention for a few moments. Not even that.
Neal's heart was beating at a rate which he considered to be extremely unhealthy for a man of his age and physique, but he ignored the sudden, sore dryness of his throat and the shaking of his legs as he ran back out the gate and onto the path.
There was no one there, not a squirrel, not a bird and certainly not Satchmo.
Cupping his hands over his mouth, Neal cried out again, hoping and praying the sound would carry further and Satch would come thundering through the bushes with that ridiculous tongue hanging out of his jaw.
A few seconds passed, long, dreadful seconds that made Neal felt slightly sick.
He called again, rushing forwards a few steps towards the lamp post that looked so much bigger in the electric, fiery orange light it cast upon the now deserted, and quickly darkening, playground.
Peter was going to kill him.
Elizabeth was going to be devastated.
They'd never trust Neal again (well, not that there was too much trust going around before) and Neal wouldn't ever trust himself again.
"Satchmo, please! Buddy! Satch! Oh god...oh no...please, how can..."
Neal shook the leash in his hand, hoping the tiny bell attached to it would reach the dog he'd promised to look after and the minuscule ringing apparently did nothing because Satchmo didn't reappear.
Neal continued down the sandy path until he reached the entrance to the park that led out onto the sidewalk. What if Satchmo had run down into the street? What if he got hit by a car, or worse, a truck?
Neal panicked even more and jumped up and down a little on the spot, both to warm up his seizing muscles and to see if he could peer over some of the bushes.
It had been ten minutes by that point.
Nine minutes too long.
Neal ran back towards the play area, alert, desperate, eyes running over anything remotely gold in a hope of just finding the stupid dog.
It was then that the young con artist saw a woman, an elderly lady with a thick purple coat and a hat that didn't really match wandering slowly towards him. She kept her gaze on the ground, only looking up when Neal planted himself in front of her.
"Have you seen a dog?" Neal asked, far too quickly for the woman's liking.
"A dog...?" She muttered, graying eyebrows knotting together, thin lips pursed in a line.
"Yes, he's a Labrador. Or a golden retriever, one of those. He's really big and he has a blue collar like this-" Neal dangled the leash in front of her face as if that would help her recognize him. "He answers to 'Satchmo'."
"Armstrong? Yes. Now, have you seen him?" Neal cut her off without a care as to whether he appeared rude. He was too damn frantic to care.
He had to find Satchmo. That was all that mattered.
"No, I haven't." She made some sort of tutting noise, which Neal deliberately ignored before he ran off back the way she had came, hoping and praying that Satch had gotten curious and wandered down the direction they hadn't been yet.
Another ten minutes passed.
Neal reluctantly, hesitantly, pulled out his cell and pressed speed dial 1.
It was time to break the news to Peter.
It rang four times before the agent picked up and Neal closed his eyes and clenched his jaw.
Hey, Neal. What's up?
"Peter-" Neal found his voice harsh, raspy and he tried to clear his throat, one hand coming to pinch the bridge of his nose. "It's-"
What did you say?
"I've-It's...I..." Neal found that the words just wouldn't come out of his mouth, he just couldn't admit to Peter, to himself, what he had done. No, what he had let happen.
The young man felt his breath hitch in his throat, a sort of strangled choking noise that was both painful and humiliating.
He'd lost Satchmo and couldn't even tell his owner. Pathetic.
Neal, you okay? What's wrong?
The care, the concern in Peter's voice was too much and the CI held the phone away from his ear and ran back into the park in one last, desperate bid to find Satchmo. He could hear Peter, worried, confused but he ignored him.
"Peter, it's Satchmo." Neal felt his heart stutter as he spat out the words.
-alright? Satchmo? What are you talking about, Neal?
And then Neal Caffrey saw it. Him. His knees nearly buckled, his hands flew over his mouth to stop himself crying out in pure, unblemished relief at the sight of Satchmo sat by the park bench, panting away, dribbling as he did so.
"Oh thank heavens..." Neal whispered to himself as he sprinted towards the dogs, his lips turning upwards at the corners into the biggest, brightest smile as Satchmo jumped to his paws and yelped in delight.
Neal rubbed the dogs ears with his hands, embracing the feel of the soft fur through as it glided between his fingers and he didn't push the dog away as a wet, warm tongue ran allover his face.
"Don't you ever do that again, buddy..."sighed Neal as he hugged the dog around it's neck, thanking inwardly whoever was watching over him that night.
Neal! Will you answer me?
Neal bit his lip and exchanged a knowing glance with Satchmo. Even he looked nervous.
"Uh, yeah, Peter, I'm here."
What's going on? What's happening? You mentioned Satchmo?
"Yeah..." Neal trailed off, debating how he was going to get out of the hole Satch had shoved him into. "Satchmo, he..."
You're walking him right? Is he okay?
"He's fine, absolutely fine, aren't you buddy?" The animal barked in reply. "I just wanted to tell you that..."
"He's really good at playing fetch!" Neal winced at his down right awful excuse, expecting something better from such an established conman. Satchmo looked down at his paws in embarrassment, guilt and distaste.
Peter said nothing for a few tense, awkward moments.
You rang me to me that my dog is good at playing fetch, something I'm well aware of? Really?
Neal tried to ignore the annoyance in the mans voice as he clipped Satchmo's collar to the leash.
"Uh, yes. Just thought you'd like confirmation."
You're unbelievable. But Neal could hear amusement in the agents tone, buried beneath the irritation. Goodbye Caffrey, continue walking my dog, please.
"Yup. See you, Peter."
Neal hung up and pocketed his cell, before looking down on Satchmo with raised eyebrows.
"Happy now, Satch? That was your fault you know." Neal said, waiting for some sort of answer from the canine.
Satchmo scratched the ground with one paw before meeting Neal's gaze.
Then he barked.
"Yeah, you would say that." Neal sighed and tugged the dog along, who obeyed without hesitation. "Come on, bud. Let's go home."
- Current Mood: confused