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(White) Collar Optional (17/18)

Title: (White) Collar Optional
Fandom: Psych, White Collar
Characters: Shawn, Gus, Peter, Neal, Henry, Juliet, Lassiter & Vick with cameos from Mozzie, El, Diana & Jones
Word Count: 810
Rating: PG-13
Overall Summary: In New York, Peter and Gus search for what happened to Neal and Shawn. In California, Shawn and Neal escape a little too easily, making them wonder if Ridley has other plans.
Notes: Okay, I'm finally posting the sequel to Psychic in the City. It's still unfinished so posting will stay with Wednesdays until further notice. I'd also like to thank my three betas snowflakie06, slytheringurrl and the_moogie

Can anyone guess the languages used for the numbers? C'mon, give it a try!

Ein Deux Tre Cuatro Pyat' έξι sju dziewięć nove deset elf dó dhéag hamahiru quattuordecim viisitoista šesnaest





Neal sat in the passenger seat of the Echo as Gus drove along behind Henry’s truck. “Should we have let them go together?” he asked as he fingered the collar of his new shirt.

“It’s just time for a little tough love,” Gus answered. “He’s never been touchy-feely, even when Shawn was a kid.”

“Hearing the stories from Shawn is one thing, but to meet him…”

“He still scares me and I’ve known him almost all my life.”

“He does come across as rather intimidating.”

Neal couldn’t help but wonder what his life would have been like had his father been around. Would he have gone into policing like he had wanted to until he learned the truth? He more than likely wouldn’t have run away and started running cons. He wouldn’t have met Peter, El, Mozzie or even Shawn.

“Neal?”

He was brought back from the Land of What If at the sound of Gus’ voice. He blinked a few times and saw that they were in the hospital parking lot. How long had he been out of it?

“You okay?” Gus asked.

“Yeah, just a lost in thought.”

“If you want to stay in the car, I’ll leave the keys. Just don’t drive off.”

“That’s okay. They’re not really the kind of thoughts I want to be alone with.”

Neal and Gus made their way to the entrance where Shawn was bouncing on his toes as he waited. Neal couldn’t help but smile. How did someone with Shawn’s limited attention span have a 100% solve rate? They entered the building and Shawn made a beeline for the shop, searching for “just the right present to give someone who killed someone and then took a bullet for you”.

“Not really something they get much call for,” Neal said. “It would have to be really tiny print on a T-shirt.”

“You are not going to the room,” Henry said as he removed a kitschy knick-knack from his son’s hands. “You are remaining here while I go let Peter know we’re here.” He headed for the exit.

“What’s to keep us from going ourselves?” Shawn called after him.

Henry held up a set of keys and kept walking.

“Gus!”

“You know I’m weak,” Shawn’s best friend defended. “This way you can’t talk me into giving them to you.”

“You’re learning,” Neal said with a smile.

“It’s more like my dad demanded and Gus caved,” Shawn commented as he looked at the T-shirts on display. “Oh, yeah, gotta get this.” He held up a shirt with a black lab driving a golf cart with the words “The Good Life” underneath it.

“Do you really need another shirt?” Gus asked him.

“You need to have one for every mood and occasion,” Shawn replied as he found one in his size and took it to the counter. “You sure you don’t want anything?” he asked Neal. “You need to have more relaxed clothes. Do you own any shirts without collars?”

“What I wear is vintage, Shawn. Never out of style. Which reminds me, there are a number of Rat Pack associations out here. Maybe…”

“We are not letting you indulge,” Peter said as he and Henry arrived. “This is not a pleasure trip.”

“OK, just one favor. Depending what time we are done at the hotel, we stop for lunch at Melvyn’s.”

Peter rolled his eyes. “Do I want to know why?”

“Frank and Dino used to go there. C’mon, great steaks, lobster, sandwiches. The Cobb Salad is famous.”

“And how do you expect to pay for this? It’s not going to be on the agency’s bill, I can tell you that.”

“Why not?”

“For the same reason we didn’t stay at a luxury hotel. There is no need to. It’s not part of a case.”

“Can we at least stop in so I can soak up the ambience?”

“Maybe.” Peter wagged his finger at him. “No promises.”

They split up for the drive to the hotel, Shawn forced into the back seat of the Echo. “I’d almost rather be squashed between Dad and Peter,” he muttered.

“Neal’s taller,” Gus said.

“By two inches!”

“That’s still taller.” Gus wasn’t going to budge.

“We’ll flip a coin for driving back to Santa Barbara,” Neal said.

“Rotation for the trip back,” Shawn countered. “We switch every hour.”

“Good idea. We’ll all get a chance.”

With that decision made, Shawn settled back into the seat.

Neal chuckled. He wished he could have had such a light-hearted friendship growing up. Again, if it hadn’t been for Ridley, he and Shawn might have traveled together and both their lives would have been different. He shook his head to clear these maudlin thoughts away. Mozzie would throw some quote at him like “Don’t let the past steal your present.”

“Don’t drown in those deep thoughts there, buddy,” Shawn said from the back seat. “Nothing good ever comes from thinking too much on things you can’t change.”

“That’s actually pretty amazing coming from you,” commented Gus.

“Yeah. Don’t let it get around, though. I have a reputation to uphold.”

“No one would believe me.”

Gus pulled into one of the off-street parking spaces next to Henry’s truck. He stepped out and looked at the building. From the road, the hotel didn’t seem like much but Neal knew that the front was just that. There was luxury and decadence behind those walls.

Shawn nudged him and they passed through the gates and into the lobby. Peter flashed his badge at Reception and it wasn’t long before the manager appeared to take them to Ridley’s villa off one of the immaculately kept gardens.

“With each new guest, the combination is changed to something only they know. It isn’t changed until the next guest. I have no idea what the combination is,” the manager said as he revealed the safe.

“You seriously have no way to override the combination?” Henry couldn’t believe his ears. “How stupid is that?”

“It puts our clients at ease knowing that no one on the premises can steal their jewels. If needed, we have a specialist on call.”

Gus peered at the safe. “That’s a Global T300!” he declared in breathless awe.

Neal looked at the safe and saw that Gus was right. “You know your safes.”

“Just a hobby,” Gus replied.

“He’s been a subscriber to Modern Safecracker for years,” added Shawn. He looked at the safe. “I guess birthday, mother’s maiden name, and first pet’s name are out.”

“Shawn, the Global T300 has a seven character code that can be all numbers, all letters, or a mix. There are thousands of possible combinations.”

“More like millions if characters are used more than once,” said Peter.

“Listen to you, Mr. Mathlete,” teased Neal.

“We just have to get inside Ridley’s mindset,” said Henry. “If we know what he was thinking, it’ll be easier to guess the combination.”

They were quiet as they thought. Shawn roamed the villa poking at every little thing. He returned with what appeared to be a platter of shrimp. “What? It was gonna go bad.” He held out the platter to Gus who just shook his head.

Neal grabbed one. “So, he was planning a little celebration for making the sale,” he said after swallowing.

“There was a bottle of champagne too.”

“So the sale and the chalice were on his mind,” said Gus.

“’Antioch’ has seven letters,” said Peter.

“So does ‘chalice’,” stated Henry. “Still too obvious.”

“So not business related or family and friends,” commented Shawn. “What about enemies?”

Neal smiled and spoke as he pressed the keys. “C-A-F-F-R-E-Y.”

The safe opened.

“Hey! ‘Spencer’ has seven letters, too!”

“He was mad at me longer.” Neal reached in and pulled out the silver case before placing it reverently on the table. There was another combination, this time with five characters.

Shawn replied as he walked over and peered at the case. “Ha! ‘Shawn’ has five letters. Neal only has four.” He licked his fingers before setting down the platter.

“I can’t believe you are competing over a criminal using your name,” Gus in exasperation.

“It’s nice to know I’ve made an impression.”

“I thought Yang was enough,” said Henry. “I can’t believe you let her take a picture with you.”

“You had your picture taken with a serial killer?” asked Neal. “That’s just…bizarre.”

“The whole situation was,” Shawn admitted. “She was obsessed with me, had been since I was a kid.” He poked Neal. “Go on. ‘S’…”

Neal decided to humor Shawn in the hopes it would keep him from poking him again. It didn’t open. “Sorry.” He then tried what he wanted the first time, keeping his body angled so Shawn wouldn’t see. The lock clicked open.

“N-E-A-L-C? Man, if he weren’t already dead, I’d give Ridley a piece of my mind.”

Ignoring Shawn, Neal looked at the antique nestled snugly in its cushioned case. It was gorgeous. The silver scrollwork on the outer shell was stunning. He reached a hand towards it hesitantly before pulling back. He closed the case and pushed it towards Peter. “Take it before I give in.”

Peter took the case and gripped it tightly in his hand.

“You have chosen wisely,” Shawn intoned.

“Really, Shawn? The Last Crusade?” Neal looked at his friend.

“It’s Grail related and appropriate,” he explained.

“We need to get this back to New York,” stated Peter. “But first, I’ll settle for getting out of here and back to Santa Barbara. I’ll call New York and make arrangements.” He headed out of the villa.

“Is anyone else hungry?” asked Shawn.

“You just ate a platter of shrimp,” declared Gus.

“Which, by their very name and nature, are small.”

“I’ll try to talk Peter around to lunch at Melvyn’s.”

“I doubt he’ll want to stop now that he has the chalice in his possession,” said Henry. “If anything happens, it’ll be on him.”

“We’ll think of something even if we talk them into sandwiches for the road.” He was already coming up with stories.

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