Fandom: White Collar
Characters: Mozzie, Neal, Peter (Gen)
Summary (early Season 2): Neal has stolen millions of dollars of goods, but it's his friendships that make him rich.
Author's Notes: Day five of the Bleeding Cuticles Roadkill Challenge. Also for writers_choice, this is "Friendship."
In all the time he and Neal have known each other, Mozzie has never pushed.
He'll speak up when he thinks Neal's courting danger, of course. What kind of friend would he be if he let Neal get himself caught again because of some overlooked detail or potential trap?
But he doesn't ask Neal about things like losing Kate. He'll always listen if Neal talks, but he never asks. That's how it works between them. Mozzie's not that comfortable with the emotional stuff, and sometimes Neal can be very private.
It's not like Mozzie tells Neal everything, either. Mozzie has secrets too. Sure, they're not big ones, but they could be. Someday.
The point is, Mozzie respects Neal's boundaries, even when he wishes they weren't there. He doesn't pry.
Doesn't mean that it keeps him from worrying.
This is why he finds himself on a park bench, talking with The Suit. It's more exposed than Mozzie likes, but The Suit won't play the game like he's supposed to. They talk in broad daylight, where anyone could see them (including Neal). Mozzie tries to act casual, which is impossible when what he really wants is to hide inside his hat.
"Neal looks terrible," The Suit says. "He's too skinny."
"He's always been slender," Mozzie protests, defending Neal reflexively when the truth is that he agrees. Just last week, he gave June a list of Neal's favorite desserts. Maybe she can fatten him up, help chase the gray circles out from under Neal's eyes.
"You need anything?" The Suit says gruffly.
"I think we're good."
Mozzie knows The Suit likes Neal (maybe even a lot), but he's not willing to bet Neal's future on it. He'll take care of Neal his own way, keeping him engaged and entertained and letting time heal the rest.
He heads back to Neal's loft, even though he has a ton of law books waiting to be read at home. They're part of his current persona—an aid to authenticity—and if that doesn't work out, then however much he learns will probably come in handy later.
Mozzie peeks in through the window. Neal is staring off into space, but pulls out of it when Mozzie knocks. Neal ushers him in.
"Do you think I should move?" Mozzie says by way of greeting.
"Move?" Neal offers him a chair. "Why?"
"I heard this rumor about a new storage facility on the East Side. It has electricity, year-round climate-control, and wireless."
"Wireless?" Neal laughs, his smile genuine. "Someone's pulling your leg, Moz. Besides, you can't run wireless through all that metal and concrete."
"Probably not, but if you could? Think how great it would be."
"Or you could just move into a real place, like everybody else," Neal suggests.
They've been down this road before, and they both know how it ends, but it doesn't matter. That's not what this is about.
Are you in there? is the question behind Mozzie's question. Will you be all right?
The style and tone of Neal's response is far more important than whatever words he happens to choose.
Today, the answer is Yes.
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