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White Collar Fic: Sketches of Life

Title:  Sketches of Life
Author: dennih23
Rating:  G
Characters: Peter Burke, Mozzie, June
Word Count:  1155
Disclaimer: Not mine, all characters belong to Jeff Eastin
Beta: Thank you sherylyn for your help and advice. All mistakes belong to me.

Summary: While cleaning out Neal’s apartment a treasure is found.

A/N: For this prompt by sholio over at Collar Corner; also fills the Grief square on the H/C Bingo Card
       The artwork is from the brillant kanarek13 - she made two amazing pieces.


The weather matched the mood of the occupants inside June’s Riverside home: the rain lightly tapped against the windows, the only sound in the silent apartment as June, Mozzie, and Peter wordlessly wandered their friend’s residence. None of them spoke; they all were grieving Neal’s death in their own way.

June let out a small gasp that echoed through the quiet space.

Peter looked up as Moz rushed to June’s side, concern written all over his face. “June, what’s wrong?”

June smiled at the two men and held up a book. Not just any book, but an artist’s sketchbook, the cover battered and worn. “I found this, it was Neal’s.”

They momentarily stared at each other before moving in unison over to the couch. They sat down, June sitting between Peter and Moz. She caressed the soft leather cover. “I didn’t realize what this was until I opened it. Both of you need to see these sketches. Neal cared for both of you so much and it’s expressed beautifully in these pages.”

Carefully, June turned to the first page. It was a sketch of her and Mozzie playing Parcheesi. Moz was palming one of the pawns and June was scolding him while secretly moving one of her pieces without him realizing she was cheating. The two friends laughed at the memory.

The next page was a drawing of June dancing with Ford. June’s hand wandered down the page, a sad expression on her face. Her thoughts drifted back to when Ford had visited and how much she had wanted him to stay. But he had been a conman at heart and was only there for the counterfeit plates. Neal had made sure she knew where they were in case she ever needed them. A quick smile tugged at her lips at the memory – she knew how much Neal loved her and wanted her to be well taken care of. He had become an extended family member.

The next page was a drawing of Samantha playing soccer and then another page showed June’s granddaughter, Cindy, playing with Bugsy.  June grabbed a Kleenex and wiped the tears from her eyes. Peter and Moz both leaned over and hugged her.

Mozzie broke the silence, “Maybe we should look at this another time.”

June shook her head. “No, I’m fine. It’s just that these are such lovely works of art. Neal was so talented and all the joy shines through.” She hesitated a moment before turning the page.

It was a drawing of Mozzie with Estelle: he was just releasing her into the air and Neal had captured the moment the pigeon spread her wings. The next page was one of Moz holding a rat. Mozzie noticed that Peter was giving him a sideways look. “What, Suit, do you have a problem with rats?”

“No.” Peter shook his head. “I was just remembering an incident in the office involving a rat. You don’t know anything about that, do you?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. There are lots of rats in New York, do you think I know the whereabouts of all of them?”

Peter just shook his head, but kept an eye on Moz.

The next page was a collage of Mozzie in various disguises, with and without hair. June smiled and laughed while Moz stared at Peter, hoping the Suit wouldn’t look too carefully into his past.

Neal and Sara filled the next few pages. The one that struck Peter the most was the ‘fake’ proposal on top of the Empire State Building. Love leapt off the page. The looks on both their faces were pure and undeniable. Peter wondered what the future would have held if Sara had stayed in New York - would Neal still be alive?

Another section was filled with sketches of the Harvard Crew in the FBI offices. Peter smiled at the drawing of Reese Hughes standing at the railing overlooking the bullpen.  There was another page with Jones and Diana discussing a case over the coffee machine. And there was even an outline of the entire crew at the conference table debating a case.

Turning the velum page revealed a lovely drawing of Diana holding her infant son. There were a few more sketches of Diana and Theo including one that made Peter smile - an obviously aggravated Diana was trying to deal with a temperamental infant and Mozzie at the same time. Peter knew that Diana only pretended to dislike Moz; in reality, she cared about the quirky little man.

Peter and Elizabeth Burke filled the back of the book. There was everything from Peter in his office at the FBI to Elizabeth at a major catering event. Even Satchmo was captured on the pages, either chasing a ball, or laying at Neal’s feet.

There were two sketches of Peter and Neal together. The first was a replica of the ‘prom’ picture that he had sitting on his mantel at home. They were both in tuxedos and ready to take down the Detroit mob. Peter turned the page and the next one was one of him and Neal standing side by side. Peter had greyish temples and was wearing glasses – he realized it was a depiction of them when they had to be father and son.

He stared at the book and wiped tears away from his eyes. June patted his leg. “He really did see you as a father figure. He wanted to make you proud.” Peter could only nod, there were no words to express his feelings.

Flipping to the next picture Peter was surprised at the tenderness expressed in the sketch. The pencil drawing showed El and Peter embracing. There was another one where they were dancing at some event that Peter couldn’t recall. Peter gently ran his hand over the paper as he gathered his thoughts.

“June, do you think it’s possible that for me to keep these?” Peter hesitated before speaking again. “I would really like to have these framed and give them to Elizabeth.”

“I think that’s a great idea. I think I’m going to frame the ones of Cindy and Samantha. How about you Mozzie, would you like to take some.”

Mozzie shook his head. “I’m leaving New York in a couple of days; I’m not sure of my final destination. Would you mind keeping these safe for me until I return?”

“Of course, I’ll take good care of them.” She knew better than to ask him where he was going and when he’d return. She understood his restlessness. “Just remember, you’re always welcome here.”

They sat in silence as they continued to look at the artwork Neal had created. They all missed him just a little bit more. With each page more memories overwhelmed them. Finally they reached the last page. It was a drawing of Neal, Peter, El, June, Mozzie, Diana, Theo, and Jones. Underneath was written: My Family.
sketches-my family    

Crossposted at AO3


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 23rd, 2015 01:10 am (UTC)
Oh, man, this is soooo heartbreaking, even after the second read, awwww

*hugs them all*

Neal loved them just as much as they loved Neal ♥ I'm just gonna go and cling to the reunion *sniff*

Beautiful story ♥
Aug. 23rd, 2015 01:20 am (UTC)
Thank you - Neal loves his family so much and did what he felt he needed to do to protect them.

Your artwork was perfect for this story.
Aug. 23rd, 2015 01:38 am (UTC)
Oh, that was so beautiful. It just really pulls at you, and you can feel their grief as they remember all the happy times. You picked great moments. And of course the artwork added the perfect touch.
Aug. 24th, 2015 11:20 am (UTC)
Thank you. I tried to pick some of my favorite moments – there are so many to choose from. I think I could have listed a favorite moment from each episode. And Kanarek13’s artwork was the perfect touch.
Aug. 23rd, 2015 03:02 am (UTC)
Soooo wonderfully done, both of you!! I love all of this!! <3
Aug. 24th, 2015 11:42 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for the beta! You helped make this story. And Kanarek13’s artwork is amazing!
Aug. 24th, 2015 06:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, you're so welcome!! I totally enjoyed betaing, and I'll be happy to do it again if you ever need help!!

And yes, her artwork is always amazing!!
Aug. 23rd, 2015 03:33 am (UTC)
I was okay until I got to the end and then I burst into tears. Poor Neal, I miss him, too. This was beautifully done and the artwork is wonderful...that last sketch... ::sobs::
Aug. 24th, 2015 05:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks. *hands you a tissue* I think will all miss Neal.
Aug. 23rd, 2015 04:52 am (UTC)
Lovely poignant story. Loved the idea of Neal's feeling being expressed through his sketches. Artwork adds so much to a great story.
Aug. 24th, 2015 05:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Neal didn't express what you was feeling to others, but his artwork surely would show all the love he had for them.
Aug. 23rd, 2015 05:07 am (UTC)
Awwwwwww! So lovely and bittersweet.

Of course he had to have left a sketchbook behind and of course it held all sort of beautiful drawings of his family. A perfect post finale tag.

And, Kanarek's artwork, DAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!
Aug. 24th, 2015 10:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you. In my head Neal loved to sketch his family/friends when he wasn’t on adventures with Peter or Mozzie.

And, Kanarek’s artwork was simply spectacular, she captured the story brilliantly.
Aug. 23rd, 2015 07:15 am (UTC)
*sniffle* Awwww, sooo beautiful.
Both the story and the artwork are tugging on my heartstrings something fierce.
Thank you both for sharing :D.
Aug. 24th, 2015 10:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Aug. 23rd, 2015 01:16 pm (UTC)
Awww, so beautiful and heartbreaking :(
Love this.
Aug. 24th, 2015 10:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Aug. 23rd, 2015 07:10 pm (UTC)
This is absolutely beautiful - both the artwork and the story!! Love that June, Peter and Mozzie are doing the cleaning, and that they look at the book together.

BRAVA to you, dennih, for the perfect description of the drawings - I totally can see them in front of my mind's eye. And I can feel the love put into them, reflecting the love, appreciation and respect Neal had for everyone of them.

Perfect story, perfect artwork - what can a White Collar fan ask more for??
Aug. 24th, 2015 10:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I could just imagine Neal sitting and sketching his family – moments that were important to him or even the humorous times.
Aug. 24th, 2015 12:49 pm (UTC)
Awww, so poignant, so lovely and so well written *hugs them all*

The artwork is excellent too, and really adds to the overall feel of the fic.
Aug. 24th, 2015 10:58 pm (UTC)
They all need *hugs*. All of them miss Neal so much, but now they know how important they each were to Neal.
Aug. 24th, 2015 12:53 pm (UTC)
awww this is so heartbreaking and sweet. Loved it! ♥♥
Aug. 24th, 2015 10:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you ♥♥
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )