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Fic: That's What Friends Are For

Title: That’s What Friends Are For
Author: dennih23
Rating: G
Characters: Diana, Neal, June, and Theo
Word Count: 1877
Summary: Diana finds herself in a tight spot and asks Neal for help, for the Snowed In square of my Trope Bingo card
Beta Credit: Thank you sholio for the beta
Disclaimer: White Collar belongs to Jeff Eastin

For a prompt left by frith_in_thorns at collarcorner





The dark sedan lurched, shimmied, and smoke began to waft from under the hood. Diana coaxed her vehicle to the side of the road just before it gave one last grumble and quit. “Damn,” she quietly swore. She turned the key. The car gave a small whimper, click, and then nothing. She flipped the warning lights on, shaking her head. This was not good. Snow was piling up at a record pace and now she was stranded.

Theo stirred in his car seat but stayed sleeping. She stretched across the seat to grab her purse that was sitting on the passenger side and knocked over a cup of coffee that was sitting in the console next to her. “Shit.” She couldn’t imagine things getting much worse.

She started rummaging through her tote, tossing things on the seat until she found her cell phone. Luck was with her as she got a signal and found an internet connection. Searching, she found a tow service and called. Their line was busy so she waited and dialed again, and then again. Twenty-five minutes later she managed to get through. The man who answered the phone was sympathetic to her situation, but no trucks were available, and it would be at least a 4-5 hour wait. He suggested she call a cab service and they would get to her car as soon as possible.

She shivered and realized she had to do something, it was too cold to just sit and wait. The tow truck was too far out, and there was no way a cab would be available either. She was only about six blocks from Riverside Drive and June’s home. She dragged out her phone again, took a deep breath, and dialed Neal.

“Hello.”

“Neal, it’s Diana.”

“Is everything okay?”

“No, I hate to impose, but my car stalled about six blocks from you. I was wondering …”

Neal cut her off, “You have Theo with you, don’t you.” It wasn’t a question.

“Yes, and I ….”

“Tell me where you are.”

She told him where she was.

“Okay, stay put and I’ll be there shortly.” He hung up before she could thank him.

She got out of the car and moved to the trunk. There were already a couple of inches of snow covering the stalled car. Clearing the snow off the hood, she popped it open it to reveal the extra blankets and an emergency kit she carried. She wrapped them in her arms and headed back inside the car. Climbing in the back with Theo, she wrapped the extra blanket around both of them.

Soft knocking on the window momently startled her. Turning towards the sound she saw Neal peering inside. She opened the door. “Thanks for coming.”

He bowed, snow falling off him. “Anytime. Now, let’s get you out of here. The wind is picking up and the sidewalks are getting icy.”

Between her and Neal they hauled everything movable with them: Theo, his car seat, the bright blue baby bag filled with bottles, formula, diapers, and an assortment of onesies, and the little teddy bear Moz had given Theo. She huddled her son next to her keeping him warm while Neal carried everything else. They plodded the six blocks to June’s in silence, the wind howling the only sound.

They were covered in snow and chilled to the bone by the time they made it to June’s front stoop. June was waiting for them and opened the door. “Hurry in,” she said, and reached out to take Theo from Diana. Diana set Theo in June’s arms, then shook off her coat and pulled off her boots. She turned and Neal looked like a snowman, his grin shining through. She laughed as he shook off the snow leaving a small pile of white fluff in June’s entryway.

Turning back she watched as June oohed at Theo. He was totally captivated by her, following her every move, and listening as she began singing to him. Diana recognized the lullaby and hummed along. June looked over and smiled and together they serenaded Theo. He gave a big yawn and closed his eyes. Soon he was sleeping once again, his little chest slowly rising and falling.

June spoke softly as to not wake the baby. “I thought you might be hungry so I have some soup heating on the stove, and some sandwiches being put together. They should be ready in about fifteen minutes. Just enough time for you to jaunt up to Neal’s apartment and settle this little guy in.” June gently set Theo back in Diana’s arms.

Diana rocked her son and looked back at June. “Thank you so much, I really appreciate this.”

“Not a problem, dear. You and Theo are welcome here anytime.” She lightly pushed Neal in the direction of the stairs. “Off you two go and I’ll have the food brought up shortly.” Neal took the gear from the foyer and led the way up the staircase.

When they arrived at Neal’s apartment, he pushed the door open allowing her to go in first. He followed her in setting the car seat on the table. Theo was waking up again and started to squirm and whine. Neal automatically handed her the diaper bag and pointed her towards his bathroom.

She laughed, “How did you know he needed changing?”

Neal shrugged and flashed a grin. She shook her head and took Theo to change his diaper.

She came out of the bathroom to find Neal busy fluffing and arranging pillows on his bed. He had piled the pillows up so that a small area of the bed was available for her to lay Theo down, where he would not roll off. Neal looked up, proud of his work, “Why don’t you set him here. He’ll be safe, warm, and comfortable.”

“Wow, I don’t know what to say, I’m impressed.”

Both Neal and Diana turned at the knock on the door. June opened the door and ushered a member of her staff inside. The woman pushed a cart filled with bowls of steaming soup and a small pile of sandwiches towards the table. There was also hot tea and hot chocolate. “Come, sit down, and relax.”

Theo chose at that moment to start crying. Diana picked him up and started patting his back. “Sorry, he’s teething, and he has been just miserable. Neal, do you mind, there should be something in my bag.”

June got up reaching for a towel. “I hope you don’t mind, I noticed when you came in that he was starting to cut teeth. I had the cook put this in the freezer. Give this to him, it will help. My kids loved the cold towels when teething.”

She took the towel and Theo immediately began nibbling on the frozen cloth. She laid him in his car seat. He smiled and kept gumming the dishtowel. He settled down and Diana joined Neal and June who were already eating.

The tomato basil soup was warming and delicious and combined with the gouda grilled cheese sandwich, Diana couldn’t help but sigh, “This reminds me of when I was a kid. No matter where we traveled there was also tomato soup and grilled cheese.”

Soon the three of them were trading tales of their journeys to Europe. Diana when she was a teenager with her parents, Neal on “rumored” stays, and June on her more recent travels. They found a common bond in discussing their favorite places in Paris, Rome, and Madrid. Diana felt more relaxed than she had in a long time and enjoyed the moment laughing at Neal’s “alleged” exploits.

They finished eating as Theo started squirming. Diana got up and took a bottle from her bag. “He’s probably hungry.”

June nodded agreement and picked up the towel. “I’m just going to put this back in the freezer in case you need it later.” Taking the cloth June headed out the door.

As she fed Theo, Neal flew around his apartment. He snatched plain white paper, the palette from his easel, and he fumbled through a junk drawer finally pulling out fish line. She stared, enthralled, as his nimble fingers created origami animals. There was a swan, tiger, giraffe, elephant, and horse. He quickly grabbed his paintbrushes and brought the small figurines to life. He added the fish line and suddenly before her eyes he was standing in front of her with a bright and colorful mobile swinging from his hand.

The baby giggled and watched the mobile dance above his head, his chubby little fingers trying to catch the swirling bright objects. Diana looked up and saw Neal smiling. “Anyone ever tell you that you’re good at this? He likes you.”

Neal grinned back, and he bent over Theo, “I think your momma’s brain froze.”

“Seriously Neal, you’re going to be a great dad someday.”

Neal gently took Theo from her arms, cradling him as if he was a priceless piece of art. He hummed as he moved over to his bed. He slowly swayed back and forth until Theo drifted off to sleep. He laid Theo down among the fluffed up pillows.

Diana sauntered over to the terrace doors, watching as the large, fluffy flakes of snow fell blanketing the city as it began to taper off. Secretly she loved the snow. The quiet beauty it brought, clinging to the landscape, the crisp air, and how clean everything appeared. New York would stand still for a few moments and she was able to simply enjoy the city she loved. Tomorrow there would be slush and dirt everywhere, but now if was peaceful.

Neal appeared behind her, standing in silence. “How about a movie, I’m sure I can find something that can entertain both of us.”

She nodded and followed him as he led the way over to a bookcase containing a couple of rows of dvds. They settled on an old screwball comedy, Cary Grant’s “Bringing Up Baby”. Flipping it in the player they settled on the couch and enjoyed the show their laughter filling the room.

The old movie had just come to an end when June knocked on the door and peeked inside. “I just wanted to let you know, the snow has stopped, and the plows have cleared some of the roads. Whenever you’re ready my driver can take you home.”

An hour later Diana and Theo were bundled up ready to fight the elements once again. June came over and handed her a banana. “This is for our little guy, it’s something I learned with my children. When their teething you can give them a frozen banana – the cold is helpful, and the banana is good for them.”

Diana reached out and took the frozen fruit. She hesitated but then gave June a quick hug, “Thank you for everything today.”

Turning to Neal, she did the same, hugging him and thanking him, adding a quick, “See you on Monday Caffrey.”

As she sat in the car and waved good-bye she realized that her concerns about calling Neal for help were her own doubts. Neal and June had made her feel warm and invited, not like she was imposing on them. They were indeed good friends.




Crossposted at http://archiveofourown.org/works/1272058

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
frith_in_thorns
Mar. 5th, 2014 12:39 pm (UTC)
Awww, this is adorable! ♥ ♥ I love June and Neal both delighted by the chance to play with Theo. And Diana&Neal friendship is the best :D Thank you so much for filling my prompt!
dennih23
Mar. 5th, 2014 05:30 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked the story, it was a great prompt! Diana and Neal have a wonderful relationship :D
frith_in_thorns
Mar. 6th, 2014 03:21 am (UTC)
Psst, would you mind linking this on the prompt post, so that it definitely gets included in the end-of-month roundup? :)
dennih23
Mar. 7th, 2014 01:37 pm (UTC)
Ummmmm -- I have been trying to link this to the prompt post for a couple of day but I keep getting errors --- is there a trick to adding a link to a comment?

Thanks
lov_pb
Mar. 5th, 2014 12:47 pm (UTC)
Just perfect. I smiled all the way through the story.
Neal's thoughtfulness, June's courtesy and Diana's initial edginess sweetly displayed.
I bet Mozzie was sorry he missed the visit!
dennih23
Mar. 5th, 2014 05:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Your right, Mozzie will probably be upset that he wasn't included - LOL
nieseryjna
Mar. 5th, 2014 07:24 pm (UTC)
Aw sweet. Very uplifting I love Diana progress as a mother and Neal being natural with Theo.
dennih23
Mar. 5th, 2014 08:08 pm (UTC)
Diana is going to be a wonderful mother, and she always has her extended family of Neal and June to help.
morganslady
Mar. 6th, 2014 03:09 am (UTC)
Lovely story about Diana,Neal,June and little Theo. We know Diana likes t think of herself as a badass,I'm glad she asked for help.
dennih23
Mar. 6th, 2014 11:44 pm (UTC)
I think Diana will always be badass and I would hate to think what would happen to anyone who mistreated Theo:D

But at the same time she's not afraid to ask for help when something important concerns her son.
angelita26
Mar. 6th, 2014 05:19 am (UTC)
How sweet! I loved getting to see Neal and June help out with baby Theo. Neal's mobile sounded amazing!

I also liked that Diana recognized and appreciated their help. I think she's making a great mother, and I think she's right - Neal will be a great dad one day.

Thanks for sharing!
dennih23
Mar. 6th, 2014 11:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I love the Diana and Neal dynamic and I think Theo will be adding a whole new dimension.

I can imagine Neal throwing a mobile together quickly - we know how nimble those fingers are :D

Neal will definitely be a great dad!
leesa_perrie
Mar. 6th, 2014 01:39 pm (UTC)
Aww, lovely. I love the way the friendship shone through - and Neal's improptu mobile was perfect! :)
dennih23
Mar. 6th, 2014 11:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Diana and Neal have a special friendship - she has no problem threatening him when need be, but they care and are always there for each other.
aelfgyfu_mead
Mar. 6th, 2014 08:49 pm (UTC)
Aw! Diana loosens up a bit with Theo around.
dennih23
Mar. 6th, 2014 11:59 pm (UTC)
I imagine Diana loosening up in raising her son because she loves him so much. She will always want whats best for him.
love_82
Mar. 7th, 2014 06:35 am (UTC)
This was just lovely! A nice look at how they are all a family. It gave me a big smile. One of my favorite parts was Neal putting together the impromptu mobile. He would make a great dad. And Diana is a great mom. Heh, maybe Neal will have a daughter, or a son, who will grow up and marry Theo. :)

Thank you for sharing.

Edited at 2014-03-07 06:37 am (UTC)
dennih23
Mar. 7th, 2014 01:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you. They do feel like one big family the way they take care of each other.

I love the idea of Neal having and child that marries Theo! LOL - I can just imagine both parents when their kids start dating! This sounds like a wonderful idea for a future fic.

kanarek13
Mar. 8th, 2014 10:07 pm (UTC)
Very late to the party, but I just wanted to say that it's been a delight reading this story. Such a beautiful friendship all around. Aww, Neal will make a great dad one day :D

Thank you for posting :D
dennih23
Mar. 9th, 2014 12:02 am (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed the story. Yeah I think Neal will make a great dad one day.

Heard you were ill - hope you're feeling better!
kanarek13
Mar. 9th, 2014 12:04 am (UTC)
Yes, thank you, slowly getting there :)
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )