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New White Collar Fic:For the lie that's written on its face
whitecollar
vain_glorious
Title: For the lie that's written on its face
Author: [personal profile] vain_glorious
Fandom: White Collar
Wordcount: 551
Rating: PG
Genre: Gen
Prompt(s): I KNOW I saw this somewhere at a female characters prompt fest....but I don't remember.
Disclaimer: Not Mine.
Summary: Sara Ellis thinks about Neal, mid-season 2 .

Neal Caffrey is still afraid of her. Sara doesn’t know how personal it is. Four years in prison may have convinced him that he doesn’t want to go back, but he doesn’t show much deference or caution to the FBI agent who holds his leash.

Peter, Sara likes. She doesn’t understand how he stands Neal’s constant preening and lying, or the occasional event where he brags and lies in the same breath. But then, Neal’s figured out Peter’s temper and evidently decided the man will tolerate a lot as long as it’s playful and neutered, and doesn’t interfere in their case closure rate. It makes Sara wonder how good of an agent Peter is – good enough to catch Caffrey, she knows – even though every conversation they’ve had has only made her respect him more and generated the tiniest of pangs after she learned there was a Mrs. Burke.

Caffrey thinks his smiles, his jokes, and his sparkling blue eyes distract from the fact that he is playing everyone constantly. It makes Sara want to hit him, hard. It’s not so much the fact that he has her Raphael, but that he gets off on keeping it from her. He doesn’t care about the money, beyond whatever fun shiny things he blew it on immediately. Neal cares that she cares.

She thinks his shock at her willingness to have him arrested for when his crony broke into her house is probably fake. He acts hurt and confused whenever someone doesn’t like him. It’s fake or he’s stupid. No one likes being played. Or he’s used to passive aggression, and there is nothing passive about Sara’s aggression.

She’s figuring out, though, that maybe he really doesn’t get it. Sara sincerely thought he was there to kill her that night, and if a normal person had known that, he wouldn’t have had her house burglarized immediately after.

He doesn’t understand vulnerability, but she thinks he’s showing his own by all the idiotic mistakes he makes trying to solve his girlfriend’s death. It’s not a game, or if it is, he’s the one getting played. She actually doesn’t find it funny, surprisingly.

Caffrey’s life isn’t so fun, anymore. More fun than it should be for a man in his position, sure, but that’s the game Neal’s playing now. He has his rich landlady thinking he’s an adorable and needy lost son and the FBI thinking he’s locked down in his anklet and glorified CI job.

Sara doesn’t agree. She thinks he’s playing both roles, and badly at times. He can’t be those things and be the man avenging Kate’s death. He’s proven it already by screwing up, and it’s only his friends that have kept him from paying.

Sara, of course, has helped, too. It’s different than she thought it would be, playing the game with him. It’s less maddening, for one, when she’s not trying to win. And the glee he gets from lying, tricking, conning people is actually sort of contagious.

She doesn’t know if she wants to be his friend, exactly, but playing the game with him is preferable to playing it against him. And watching him have to fight so hard to play it all any more, well, sort of makes up for a lot of what he’s put her through.

~please feed the author~

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Maybe it's my own impression of Neal coloring how I read, but Sara sounds like she's trying too hard to find reasons to keep her distance (emotionally from Neal. Which, considering how things play out later on, makes this very interesting. Because if she really is trying too hard to dislike him then she's failed, but if she's playing him right back then she's no better than how she thinks he is.

Sorry if I got rambly. Reading your ficlet made me thinky.

Thanks for the comment. I actually wrote this before the Neal/Sara stuff developed. And it was partly in response to the (IMO) Sara's strange and speedy change from antagonistic to cooperative. I feel like we've seen at least 3 different versions of the Sara character without much explanation for the change, and this was me trying do deal/explain some of that.

I was also curious how much response a Sara-focused fic would get (I didn't think ANY), so I do appreciate the comment.

interesting and insightful POV. i agree with this absolutely: it’s only his friends that have kept him from paying. Neal doesn't acknowledge this as much as he really should.

I agree, and I think it takes someone who isn't (at this point) his friend to notice and point that out.

Thanks for the feedback! :)

This is a *goood* read. It's the deepest inside Sara's head I've seen anyone go do far.

The opening observation is great: Neal was absolutely afraid of Sara initially, and it was oddly fun to see him finally meet someone who knocked him down a peg. Sara just didn't fall for ANY of his bullshit. (Both of which attitudes are a huge part of the reason I like the idea of them getting romantically involved -- they were so at odds initially).

I also like the bit where Sara observes that Neal is getting played, and that she doesn't like it -- "doesn't find it funny, surprisingly." It tempers her otherwise very guarded, irritated attitude towards him.

I really like this. I think Sara's very much someone you wouldn't want to screw aroundwith, when push comes to shove -- she actually strikes me in many ways as almost a female version of Peter -- and you capture her really well here. You have her making some observations that I really hadn't considered, but it all sounds so much like her.

Good stuff.


Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad you enjoyed.

I really liked Neal and Sara's initial dynamic, and I wrote this to sort of deal with the way that dynamic abruptly and rather inexplicably changed over season 2.

I haven't watched S2 in sequence, yet -- something to look forward to now that I have the DVD's -- so I don't want to commit to this take, but there were two pretty crucial moments that stood out for me in terms of that shift in dynamic between them -- at least on Sara's part. The first was when Peter asked her not to press charges against Neal over the break-in and theft of the flight recording data. I think for one, she respects and thinks so highly of Peter that his defense of Neal here really carried a lot of weight, and two, this was the first time she thought of Neal as a vulnerable, hurting human being and not just a pain in the ass and adversary. The second was the scene where she and Neal are discussing why she's helping, and the backstory of the sister being a runaway comes out. I think the unresolved loss of a loved one resonates so deeply with Sara that she and Neal kind of have -- not to be hokey -- a kindred spirit moment, there. This is something really profound that they have in common.

Also -- and this is venturing into speculation territory -- I'm getting a real strong sense that Neal's a runaway himself, that that's going to be part of the missing history before his 18th birthday, and I'll be very interested to see, assuming Sara's still in the picture, if I'm right and what kind of impact that will have on them.

Heh, I don't give the writers that much credit. I think they've used Sara as a plot device rather than a character, which has been frustrating. But then, that's what fan fic is for. Fixing plot holes, or trying to.

I enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing it!

Thanks for the comment! :)

This was a really fun little ficlet! I enjoyed the dive into Sara's mind. Thanks for sharing! =)

This is such an interesting take on Sara. I like it (and wish they'd stuck closer to this characterisation in the show). Very cool!

Thanks for the feedback! Yeah, I wish they'd stayed closer to this, too.

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