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White Collar Fic: Meet the Mitchells

Title:  Meet the Mitchells
Author:  dennih23
Rating: G
Word Count: 4877
Summary: Peter meets El’s parents
Disclaimer:  Not mine, all characters belong to Jeff Eastin
Beta: Thank you sholio – all mistakes are mine

A/N: for aragarna who two years ago asked for a story on the first time Peter met El’s parents, also fills the Free Space on my Trope Bingo Card (Meet the Parents).

Peter shifted to his left but he was still uncomfortable. His long legs ached and his knees were pressed against the seat in front of him. He turned sideways trying to get a little more room. Stretching his limbs out into the aisle gave him some relief. However, now he had to watch for other passengers so he wouldn’t trip them as they walked down the passageway of the airplane.

It wasn’t too long before Peter sat back and faced forward in his seat. His leg began bopping up and down. He took a deep cleansing breathe trying to calm himself. He had successfully stopped moving his leg, but now he was tapping his fingers against the arm rest. A small warm hand reached over and settled on top of his.  El leaned over and kissed his cheek, “Honey, everything will be fine. They’re going to love you.” He glanced at his girlfriend and her smile melted his heart.

An airline attendant passed by and Peter caught her attention, ordering a drink. He downed the cheap scotch in one gulp and closed his eyes. He was terrified, his nerves shattered. In less than an hour Delta flight 5953 would land in Chicago. As a trained FBI agent Peter could handle staring down criminals pointing a gun at him but meeting Elizabeth’s parents for the first time shook him to his core.

The plane hit an air pocket and bounced. His stomach lurched and he swallowed hard trying desperately not to be ill. By the time they landed in Illinois he was pale and sweat was beginning to form along his brow.

El took his hand lacing their fingers together as they disembarked the aircraft. He relaxed as she leaned into him as they walked towards baggage claim. Her presence lifted his spirits and he wrapped his arm around her waist as they waited for their luggage.  He spotted the bags and grabbed them from the carousel. They headed over to the rent a car center, picked up the Ford Taurus they had reserved, and headed off for the ninety minute drive to the Mitchell home.

El’s brother in law, Robert, had warned Peter about Alan Mitchell. El’s father was a psychiatrist who didn’t say much but would rather sit and stare at his daughter’s boyfriends. The man loved looking for any small telltale signs of what kind of man his daughter was dating. Peter knew he would be living under a microscope for the next few days.

Suddenly he pulled the car to the side of the road, got out, and started pacing. Almost immediately El was by his side. “Peter, what’s wrong?”

He lowered his head and softly spoke, “What if they don’t like me? I don’t think I can handle this?”

She rubbed his back. “Honey you’ll be fine, they’re going to love you. I love you, that’s all that matters.”

She took his face in her hands and kissed him. The kiss deepened and she pulled back laughing. “Maybe we better get that hotel room instead of staying with my parents.” She swatted at him playfully. “Come on, let’s get going. We don’t want to be late.”

He grinned and hugged her before getting back into the car. Peter really hoped all went well. Elizabeth was an important part of his life; he knew almost immediately that El was the one. His heart told him that he was going to marry her. This meeting with her family was crucial since he would hopefully be part of their future. For the rest of the road trip Peter couldn’t stop thinking of what could go wrong.

It was late and the streetlamps glowed along the quiet suburban neighborhood where El had grown up. He made a left turn and pulled up to the Mitchells’ driveway. As El headed to the front door of her childhood home, Peter got their luggage from the trunk of the car. Mrs. Mitchell opened the door, excited to see her daughter. “Honey Bee, I’m so glad you’re home!” she exclaimed as she drew her daughter in for a hug.

“And you must be Peter.” She smiled at him as he came up behind El.

He nodded. “Nice to meet you Mrs. Mitchell.”

She shushed him, “Please call me Sue.” She turned and they followed her into the house.

Elizabeth’s father got up from his chair and came over to hug his daughter. “Glad to have you home.”

The whole time he kept staring at Peter. Peter knew that look; it was one he had used many times to interrogate suspects. Yup, it was going to be a long few days.

Sue came over and took Peter’s arm. “Let’s get rid of these bags so we can relax a little bit. El, you can take your old room. We converted it into a spare bedroom. Now Peter, I’m afraid we only have the one spare bedroom so you’ll need to use the couch in the den. I hope that’s going to be okay.”

“Fine, that will be fine.” He mumbled.

He wondered if the Mitchell’s knew that he and El were living together. He followed Sue to the den and set down his bag, then dropped El’s bag off in her room.  As they headed back to the living room he heard El’s laughter and smiled. He loved that sound. She was sitting next to her father on the family couch chatting about some long ago memory.

He settled in next to El and her father went silent. El noticed and took Peter’s hand. She gave it a reassuring squeeze. He squeezed her hand back. “So Mr. Mitchell, El tells me you’re a psychiatrist. That must be interesting.”

Alan Mitchell concurred, “It can be. I’m sure not as exciting as being an FBI agent.”

Peter cleared his throat. “It’s usually very quiet, lots of mortgage fraud cases or lottery scams to check into. Mostly lots of paperwork.”

“Ah ha.”

At that moment Mrs. Mitchell walked back into the room carrying a tray filled with cookies. Peter stood. “Let me take that for you.”

“Thanks Peter. I’ve got this, but there is coffee in the kitchen. Would you mind bringing it in here?”

He headed into the kitchen and brought back the coffee. He returned to the living room and poured everyone a cup of the steaming brew. The whole time he could feel Alan Mitchell watching his every move.

For the next hour he listened as El and her parents discussed what had been happening with her various cousins, distant relatives, and former neighbors.  He was relieved when they finally decided to call it a night.

Under the watchful eyes of her parents, Peter kissed El goodnight before heading off to the den. He grabbed the pajamas and robe El had packed and padded down the hall to the bathroom. He changed quickly and headed back towards the den, stopping in front of El’s room, he whispered, “Good night,” at the door and went back to his assigned room.

The study was small and Sue had left sheets, a blanket, and a pillow on couch for him. Looking at the couch he had no idea how he would be able to sleep there. The sofa was more of a love seat and he was too tall. He considered sleeping on the floor when he noticed an old worn recliner hidden in the corner of the room. The chair had a layer of dust and smelled musty. Peter didn’t care, it had to be more comfortable then sleeping on the hardwood floor. He threw a sheet over the top, and sat down. About an hour later he drifted off to sleep.

He woke early and stretched. Every muscle in his back was pulled taut and he let out a soft groan. Only two more nights like this. He wondered if he could convince El to stay at a hotel. He told himself to cowboy up, he could handle this for a couple more nights.

He quietly walked through the house to the kitchen not wanting to wake anyone. He swung open the kitchen door to find Alan Mitchell already sitting at the old oak table, coffee in hand and reading the newspaper. Alan looked up. “Morning Peter, there’s coffee if you want.”

Peter opened a couple of cupboards before finding the cups and poured himself some coffee. He sat down at the table savoring the smell. Alan pushed a section of the paper in his direction and he was relieved to search the paper instead of making some awkward conversation with Alan. Peter sat in silence and read the sports section while finishing off his coffee. He excused himself and headed off to grab a quick shower and get dressed for the day.

When he came back into the kitchen El and her mother were sitting at the table in deep conversation. They hadn’t noticed him come into the room. He could tell by the look on El’s face that she wasn’t happy.

“Honey Bee, it’s all arranged. Everyone was anxious to come and visit while you were here, so your father and I thought this potluck would be the perfect solution.”

“Are you sure? Peter and I would hate to cause any problems.”

Alan went over and kissed the top of his daughter’s head. “Elizabeth, this is no trouble at all. You and your mom can go antique shopping this morning, and pick up the cake on your way back. Peter and I have plenty of time to get the backyard ready. He does know how to use a grill, doesn’t he?”

Peter sneezed and all heads turned towards him. He might as well acknowledge that he heard them. “I can do whatever needs to be done. I’m actually very good on the grill. It’s somewhat of a specialty of mine.”

El got up and hugged him. “I know how much you were hoping to catch a Cubs game. You also wanted to take in the Adler Planetarium while we were here.”

He leaned down and kissed her cheek. “I’m fine, maybe next time we’re here I’ll see Wrigley Field.”

Sue got up. “Come on El, let’s go shopping and leave these two strong men to get the backyard ready. We have just enough time to hit a few antique stores and be back around here by three this afternoon. That will give up plenty of time before guests arrive at six.” She grabbed El’s hand and together they took off to get dressed, leaving Peter with Alan.

Alan looked Peter up and down. “Well I guess the women are leaving us to do all the work.”

Alan picked up his car keys and headed towards the door. “I have to go pick up the tables, chairs, and tent. Why don’t you get started by mowing the lawn.” Alan smiled. “I shouldn’t be too long.”

Peter was left on his own. He knew this was a test. Alan was going to see what he was capable of. He went back into the den and found a pair of shorts and his LeMoyne t-shirt. It was time to get to work.

He found the lawnmower in the shed. He also collected the gas can, which was full, the bag for the mower for the grass clippings, and some lawn bags to hold the clippings.  Pushing the mower out of the shed he filled it up and pulled the starter. The mower choked out a small whine but didn’t start. Peter went back and dug around in the tool shed and found fresh spark plugs. He changed the plugs and the mower took off.

The lawn was mowed and the grass clippings neatly bagged up and Alan still wasn’t back. Peter dug through the garage and shed and found a weed-whacker and edge trimmer. He used the weed-whacker around the trees and flower beds. Then he edged the driveway. He was happy as the yard was cleaning up pretty well. He cleaned all three of the items up and put them back where he found them.

Since Alan still hadn’t returned, Peter started weeding the flower and rock beds. He had those done when Alan finally pulled into the driveway. Behind his car was a trailer marked Chicago Rentals. Alan stepped out of the car and looked at the yard and then Peter.

He looked in Peter’s direction. “Looks good.”

Peter breathed a sigh of relief. He had passed the first test.

Together they hauled the tables from the trailer to the backyard. They lined them up against the retaining walls and retrieved the tents and set them up. They were just starting to set up the tables when Alan stopped. “Peter, do you mind working on this by yourself? I forgot to pick up propane for the grill, plus I was supposed to stop and get paper goods.”

There it was, the second test. “I should be okay. You go and get what’s needed. See you soon.”

Peter knew that he probably wouldn’t see Alan again until the work was almost done. He finished setting up the tables and put on the plastic red and white tablecloths. Then he carried and set up all the folding chairs. He found citronella candle centerpieces and set one on each table.

He was covered in sweat but pleased with how the area in front of him looked. He was about to head into the house to cool off when Alan appeared. He wondered if Alan was waiting down the block for him to finish before showing up. Peter took the two propane tanks and lugged them over to the grill while Alan brought out coolers filled with ice. Alan began adding cans of soda in the ice chests when he stopped and looked up at Peter. “Hey Peter, it’s already after one o’clock, why don’t you go and get cleaned up? We’re almost done here. I think I can finish off.”

Peter held his tongue, “we’re” almost done. Peter had done most of the work. He knew it was all a test, but still a thank you would have been nice. He scanned the yard one more time and headed inside the house.

He took a shower, shaved, and put on clean jeans and his green polo shirt El had given it to him for his birthday. She always commented on how handsome he looked in it. He finished getting dressed and headed to the kitchen hoping the women had returned by now, but wasn’t surprised when no one else seemed to be in the house. He sat at the table and realized he smelled smoke. Someone was grilling. He walked out the backdoor and found Alan standing over the grill.

“I thought you might be hungry. You never stopped to eat, so I thought you might enjoy a nice steak.”

Peter’s jaw dropped as Alan handed him a plate with a perfectly done porterhouse steak. Alan had a plate for himself as well. They sat down at the nearest table and Alan brought out a couple of beers – it was Heisler, Peter’s favorite.  “Thanks Peter, for all you did today – you did a great job. The place looks wonderful.”

Peter took a sip of beer and grinned. He had passed the second test.

They ate their steaks and talked baseball. Alan asked Peter about his time in the minor leagues and Peter told him about his pitching days and Alan was telling Peter about his days in little league. They were each finishing their second beers when El and Sue Mitchell returned.

Sue looked around the yard and exclaimed, “This is perfect. Everything looks so nice.”

Alan took his wife’s hand. “Thank Peter – he did all the work.”

Sue went over and hugged Peter. “Thank you so much.” He stood, blushing, not knowing what to say.

Sue and El wanted to get cleaned up before people started to arrive. Alan headed out once again on errands thinking more beer might be needed. Peter took the opportunity to relax a little. His back muscles and knees were protesting the yard work he had done. He wandered back into the den and flopped in the chair. Within minutes he was softly snoring.

El gently shaking his shoulder woke him. “Hey Honey, time to get up. The guests will be arriving shortly.”

He opened his eyes and focused on the two sparkling blue eyes looking down at him. He didn’t want to move. He quickly pulled El onto his lap. She laughed and they kissed for a couple of minutes before she broke it off. She crawled off his lap and helped him up from the recliner. They stood kissing a little longer when they heard the doorbell ring.

Sue called out, “Come on you two, company’s here!”

They headed out to the Mitchells’ backyard where at least a dozen guests had arrived. Peter spent the next few hours alternating working the grill or being interrogated by El’s family and friends. He met aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and numerous friends, including Patrick, her former boyfriend. That was uneasy. The guy seemed like a jerk and he wondered why El had dated him.

It was almost ten o’clock when a half dozen of El’s sorority sisters pulled him aside. They asked all kinds of questions: What was it like being an FBI agent, was it dangerous work? Did he really put El under surveillance? What were his intentions – was he going to marry Elizabeth?  They all were asking questions at once and he answered as best he could as he finished off a beer someone had set in front of him.

One of El’s friends, he thought her name was Lori, started giggling. He looked around wondering what was so funny. Finally he asked, “Do I have something on me?”

“No, it’s not that at all. I just think it’s humorous that El is dating an FBI agent considering she’s been arrested twice.”

El had told Peter she had been arrested for a fake ID., but she never mentioned a second arrest. He tilted his head. “Really?” He looked at her girlfriends. “So El’s a felon?”

Lori laughed some more. “Nothing that serious. She was sixteen and wanted to get into a night club. She got ahold of a fake ID. The cops raided the club – something about a potential drug bust. They found the ID and called Alan. Boy, was he angry – she was grounded for the next month.”

Another friend, Becky, took over. “The next time she was arrested was in college. She lost a bet and got caught streaking across campus.”

Peter started to laugh, he would have to file this little bit of information away for future use.

He was about to ask about the bet when angry voices rose above the crowd. He turned just in time to see El shoving her ex-boyfriend Patrick away. Patrick bumped into one of the tables and it crashed to the ground.

Peter raced over to Elizabeth. He looked at her tear face streaked face. “Are you okay?”

El stuttered, “I’m fine. Just ……”

He looked over at Patrick who was now standing a few feet away. It was obvious the man was drunk. Peter stepped into Patrick’s space and pointed a finger at him. “I think you better leave now.”

Alan and Sue were approaching to see what the commotion was.

Patrick shoved Peter back. “You gonna make me Mr. FBI Agent?”

Peter remained calm. “How about we call you a cab and get you home before you do something you’ll regret?”

“You mean, like this?” With that Patrick threw a punch catching Peter in the face and knocking him backward.

Alan and El’s Uncle Joe managed to get Patrick in control as Peter got up off the ground. Alan looked at Peter. “You okay?”

Peter shook his head. “I’m good. You need any help?”

“No, we’ve got him.”

Then Alan directed his stare at Patrick. “Now it’s time for you to leave. Give me your keys, you’re in no condition to drive. Joe can you follow me and we’ll drop this idiot off at his apartment.” Joe and Alan led the drunken man away.

Sue approached Peter. “Oh dear,” Sue exclaimed. “That’s a nasty bruise. It looks like you’ll have a shiner by tomorrow. Let’s get some ice on it.”

El led Peter inside and got him settled at the kitchen table. She found an ice pack and leaned into Peter while holding the ice against his bruised cheek and eye. He winced and she ran her hand down his face. “I’m so sorry. Patrick was being a jerk.”

Sue stuck her head in the doorway and let them know that the party was breaking up and people were heading home. A few people wanted to say their good-byes to El, so she headed back outside leaving Peter by himself in the kitchen.

He sat there holding the ice pack to his face until Sue and El came back inside. Right after that Alan arrived home. It was close to midnight and Sue and Alan excused themselves heading off to their bedroom.

Peter walked El to her bedroom and hugged her goodnight. He walked into the den and stopped. His suitcase was missing as well as the blanket and pillow. He looked around the room but didn’t see his luggage. He was about to go find El when she showed up behind him in the den. She was smirking, “Did you lose something?” She waved his pajamas at him and headed back towards her room.

He followed her back to the bedroom. He was confused as to what was going on. She closed the door behind him. “I found your suitcase next to mine. Mom and Dad must have decided it was okay for us to share a room. Did you tell them we were living together?”

“Nope, didn’t say a word,” he whispered. Her parents were in the next room and he was pretty confident they were eavesdropping.

“It really doesn’t matter. I’m just glad they trust us. Now let’s get some sleep. You’ve had a long day. I’m going to go and get another ice pack. Your eye is really starting to swell shut.”

Peter stripped down to his boxers and crawled into bed. He was so exhausted he fell asleep before El returned. Even while sleeping he adjusted as she crawled into bed next to him, spooning together in a perfect fit.

He woke up and discovered the space next to him was empty. He could hear voices coming from down the hall and realized everyone else was already awake. He stretched and inhaled deeply. He breathed deeply again - he could smell bacon. Not only bacon, but fresh coffee, and was that cinnamon rolls?  He stomach growled as he got out of bed.

He ran a hand down his face and winced at the pain on the left side. It was tender to the touch and he remembered getting punched the previous night. He grabbed his clothes and made a quick trip to the bathroom. Looking in the mirror he saw just how bad it was. His left eye was almost completely swollen shut. He cleaned up as best he could and sauntered toward the heavenly scents coming from the kitchen.

“Oh Peter.” El sighed.

She came over to him and lightly touched his left cheek. He flinched and tears started running down her face. He hated to see her cry. “It’s okay, I’m okay, just a little black eye.” He kissed the top of her head and wiped away the tears.

Sue told him to sit down, breakfast was ready. He sat and she put a plate heaping with food in front of him. There were pancakes and eggs as well as the items he smelled cooking earlier. Alan set a cup of coffee in front of him. “Sorry about last night. Patrick was drunk, but that was no excuse.”

Peter looked at all the food in front of him and began eating. He was starving, he really hadn’t eaten much since the steak yesterday afternoon and the food was delicious. While everyone ate they discussed what to do for the day. El and Sue wanted to go to some more antique shops. This time it was decided that the two men would tag along.

The shopping wasn’t as bad as Peter thought it would be. The women would head off in one direction when they got to a store and Alan and Peter would meander off in another direction, usually finding an area filled with old tools. Since there was a lot of farmland in the area some places had old farm equipment which both men found interesting. One store even had lots of astronomy equipment. Peter found a filter wheel and Alan found a great old telescope and refractor.

Sue found a three tiered fountain she had to have for their garden. It was made of concrete and heavy. There were three pieces to the fountain and it took both men carrying a side of each piece for them to load it in the car. When they arrived back at the Mitchell home, Alan and Peter set up the fountain in Sue’s garden. It took a couple of hours and tinkering around with the fountains water pump but they got it running.

It was getting close to dinner time when El and Peter offered to take Alan and Sue out for a nice Italian dinner. Peter was sure they made a good choice as they walked toward the restaurants entryway, the smell of fresh garlic bread evident. They enjoyed a wonderful meal and shared a couple of bottles of red wine.

Peter and Alan discussed sports. They discussed who they thought would win the World Series that year. Then they moved on from baseball, to basketball, to hockey and football.

The women talked about their favorite cooking shows and chefs. Both had new recipes they found and wanted to try. Alan saw Peter cringe and leaned over. “Don’t care for a lot of fancy food, do you?”

“Not really sir.”

“Me neither, but it seems to make Sue happy when I eat it.” They shared a laugh and found another small piece of common ground.

Each couple split a dessert of tiramisu and had an Irish coffee to finish off their meals. Peter was surprised how well the day had gone. He would still catch Alan just watching him from time to time, but he figured Alan was just watching out for El.

After leaving the restaurant they headed over to a small park that had a hill perfect for stargazing. Sue found an old blanket in the trunk of the car and spread it on the ground. El leaned into Peter and he wrapped his arm around her. She shivered slightly and he removed his jacket and threw it over her shoulders. She cuddled inside it and leaned closer to him.

They sat there looking up at the twinkling lights. Peter started pointing out some of the constellations and listened as Alan finished naming the rest. The two couples continued to sit in silence enjoying the view until a swarm of hungry mosquitoes began feasting on them. They rushed back to the car and headed back to the Mitchell’s house.

The all turned in for the evening since El and Peter had an early flight back to New York.  Peter and El waited until the house was quiet and crept outside and stood on the deck taking in a little more of fresh air and starlight. It was nice to enjoy the stars for a change since it was difficult to enjoy them when living in New York City - usually you didn’t see any. They wrapped their arms around each other as El started to hum. Soon they were swaying under the moonlight.

Peter stopped and kissed her deeply. “I love you Elizabeth Mitchell.”

“I love you too Peter Burke. And contrary to what you thought, my parents like you. This weekend has been perfect.”

The curtain of her parent’s bedroom moved. She looked up at Peter and winked. “We better get back inside, we’re being watched.”

Peter held unto her a little longer before they went back inside. They got back to the bedroom and crawled under the fuzzy blankets, once again spooning each other as they fell asleep.

The next morning they woke early and packed their bags. Peter hauled their luggage to the front door as El went to the kitchen. Peter took the bags to the car and caught up with El. He found coffee and bagels waiting on the kitchen table. They quickly ate and it was time to head for home.

Peter stood next to El as she said her good-byes to her parents. Sue came over to him and gave him a huge hug. “It was good meeting you Peter, I look forward to seeing you again.”

Alan shook Peter’s hand, placing his other hand on top of Peter’s. “You’re a good man Peter Burke. Take good care of my little Honey Bee.”

Peter nodded, “I will sir, I will.”

Cross posted at AO3


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 28th, 2014 05:50 pm (UTC)
Ahh ... this was delightful! Poor Peter trying his best to impress El's folks. All he had to do was be himself! He's a pretty impressive and wonderful man.
Thanks!I'm sure glad Ara requested this one.
Jun. 28th, 2014 09:10 pm (UTC)
I’m glad you enjoyed it. I could just imagine Peter being all nervous about meeting El’s parents. Peter definitely is a wonderful man. Thanks for reading.
Jun. 29th, 2014 03:42 pm (UTC)
Aww, this was adorable!! I absolutely loved seeing Peter slowly gaining Alan's trust by passing all of his test. What a perfect moment at the end, with both couples out to dinner and stargazing. Wonderful read, thanks so much for sharing! =)

Edited at 2014-06-29 03:42 pm (UTC)
Jul. 8th, 2014 11:19 am (UTC)
Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I could imagine Alan trying to test all of El’s boyfriends to see if any were smart enough to date his daughter. Once Alan knew that Peter was a good man, it was easier to cut Peter some slack and find some common ground to get to know each other. I think a lot of parents do that when their ‘little girl’ is involved in a new relationship.
Jun. 30th, 2014 10:57 am (UTC)
Awww lovely story! Loved it!
Poor Peter, what a first day! Gardening, getting punched...
Thank you so much for writing this. ♥
Jul. 8th, 2014 06:23 pm (UTC)
I’m so happy you enjoyed the story. I couldn’t resist making things a little difficult for Peter. Alan being a psychiatrist would want to ‘test’ potential suitors for his daughter. Peter is smart enough to realize that and just by being Peter Burke there was no way El’s parents couldn’t help but fall in love with him.
Jul. 2nd, 2014 08:46 pm (UTC)
Awwwww, this is so, sooooo delightful, shows just about everything that makes me love our Peter. He would definitely be nervous about meeting El's parents ♥ Love it how he passed all of Alan's tests and in the end proved that he is a wonderful guy :P

Warm and fuzzy and perfect :D Thanks for posting :D
Jul. 8th, 2014 06:24 pm (UTC)
Peter is definitely wonderful --- how could anyone not resist falling in love with him :D
Jul. 26th, 2014 11:10 am (UTC)
Poor Peter subjected to all the test. Glad he passed them. Love the relationship between El and Peter
Aug. 4th, 2014 11:56 am (UTC)
Sorry for the delay in responding, glad you liked the story. I love Peter and El’s relationship and I am sure El’s father was critical of anyone who was dating his daughter.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )