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17 January 2014 @ 02:35 pm
FIC: At the Closing of the Year  
Title:  At the Closing of the Year
Rating:  G
Characters:  Neal Caffrey, Peter Burke, Reese Hughes, Mozzie
Word Count:  ~1640
Warnings:  None
Summary:  Part one of the continuing tales of Peter Burke, copper star in 1845 NYC and Neal Caffrey the Irish rogue who complicates his life.

Notes:  Written for elrhiarhodan for fandom_stocking 2013.

Peter pulled his overcoat tighter around his broad frame. The air was biting cold of its own, but a sharp wind had added to the pinch when he turned onto Centre Street from Anthony. It hardly seemed possible that Christmas had passed just a few days ago and the New Year, 1846, was a mere few days hence.

It had been quite a year for Peter and the city he called home. Until July, it had been like all of the previous six years before it. Every morning Peter awoke and walked to his job two blocks away from the rooming house where he lived. He would spend ten hours working on the books for the large whale oil company that employed him. Then he would return to his rooms, maybe stopping by an oyster bar on his way for a late supper and a beer or a glass of rum.

But that life had ended, just a day after Peter had celebrated his 30th birthday on July 19th when the fire alarms rang through the late night air. When it was all over, a huge swath of the city from Broadway east to nearly Hanover, including the rooming house that Peter had called home for more than half a decade was nothing but ash and cinder. His place of employment was gone to. The painful irony—the fire had begun in among the barrels of whale oil stored just below the office in which Peter had worked.</span>

Since that fateful night, Peter’s life had changed in more ways than even a former bookkeeper could count. He had been more fortunate than many; he had a few friends among the Democrats. Not that he was a political man, honestly he despised politics and the many ways in which New York was ruled by who owed a debt to whom, but the oyster bars drew all sorts and Peter had never been shy to share his coin to buy a round of beers for anyone who joined him at the boards.

So when word reached Mozart Havisham that Peter Burke was down and out, homeless and without a pence to call his own, he suddenly found himself as one of the newly minted New York City Police, a copper star. Something he never would have imagined six months prior. And, it had indeed been a rocky start, but now as the city was blanketed by the dark and cold of winter he felt like he might be adjusting to his new life.

A pair of pigs crossed just in front of his feet, pulling Peter from his musings. He was on his way to begin his patrol which required that he check in at the Tombs a forehand. In this cold he was grateful that his new lodgings weren’t far from the prison which also served as the precinct house for his district. Of course that wouldn’t help him at all during the 16 hours he spent walking his rounds. Peter shivered at the thought.

With luck all the thieves, cutthroats, dead rabbits and stargazers would agree that it was too cold to be out and about this day and he would have an easy time of it.

Peter crossed Leonard Street stepping around a market stall that had popped up on the corner overnight.

On the other side of the avenue, the Tombs loomed, the vast building’s granite walls making an impressive statement to any and all who would enter.

Once inside, Peter made his way down the vast main hallway from the entrance toward the rooms that held his precinct office greeting the other members of the police that he knew as he went.

Inside the small and crowded suite of rooms Peter made his way over to the sign-in book to scrawl the time and his signature on the next available line. When he looked up from the book he noticed his Captain, Reese Hughes standing inside his office.

The older man pointed at him with two fingers and then curled them in, indicating that Peter should join him. Peter had never seen the gesture before meeting Hughes, but he had come to recognize and dread it.

“Sir?” Peter said as he entered the office.

“That rogue you associate with, he goes by Caffrey?” Hughes asked as he sat down in the chair behind his desk.

“Aye.”

“He’s downstairs. Managed to get himself pinched during some dust up in the 8th ward last night.”

Peter sighed. Caffrey had been indispensable as a nose and an insider in the few short months that Peter had worn a copper star. His knowledge of flash alone made him almost worth the trouble he caused. But, he was definitely a rogue, a burner who cheated and conned everyone he could. It was no surprise that he was in a cell. It was likely that despite his charm one day he would find himself locked up permanently.

“What were the charges?”

“I haven’t seen the report. It was Shattuck brought him in. He’s still about. There were near a dozen arrests and it’s taking some time for him to get everything squared away. Go see what you can do about getting your boy out.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Peter found Shattuck in the small room that had been set aside for roundsmen to write up their arrest reports. He was scribbling away, his nose nearly touching the paper on which he wrote.

Peter pulled out the chair across the rough wooden table from him. “Shattuck.” He said in greeting.

“Burke,” Shattuck replied not looking up from his task.

“I hear you arrested Neal Caffrey last night?”

“Him and ten other dead rabbits.”

Burke nodded. He didn’t want to rile Shattuck. He didn’t know the man well, but he seemed a bit dour to Peter. “Might I ask what you’re charging him with?”

“Drunk and disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Thought he could get me to let him go by slipping some clink into my coat pocket.” Shattuck looked up, indignance pasted on his mazzard.

Peter wouldn’t have expected him to be an honest man. In a world of men whose jobs came from who they knew and not what they knew, he didn’t take Shattuck for a man of principle. But, that was unfair, he knew that there were many men among the ranks of the copper stars who were in it for the coin or the chance to push around those under them, but there were good men too, those who wore their stars with pride and who took the task of protecting the innocent of New York seriously.

“He’s certainly a rogue.” Peter stated finally. “But he’s been of good use to me and the police. I’m hoping that whatever happened last night wasn’t so dire that his part couldn’t be set aside.”

Shattuck scowled at Peter.

“Honestly, it isn’t like Caffrey to get drunk. It’s possible that he was in the wrong place and got caught up in something that wasn’t his doing.” Peter continued meeting Shattuck’s eyes and keeping his gaze steady. “And if truth be told, I’d hate to lose him.”

Shattuck sat for a long minute, keeping his own counsel. Then he nodded slowly. “In all this paper, I think I managed to lose the bits on Caffrey.”

“Thank you,” Peter said solemnly.

Downstairs, Peter made his way past the iron gates and into the prison proper. He checked the roster finding which cell Caffrey had been assigned to, gathered up the correct key and then ambled up to the bars that held his friend.

Caffrey sat on one of the narrow wooden benches in the holding cell that held another dozen or so men waiting for their chance to see the judge. His knees were tucked up against his chest. He was dressed in his trademark style, white shirt, black silk vest and slacks that he wore tighter than was fashionable. His overcoat was tucked into his lap. On his bent knees rested a sheet of butcher paper upon which Caffrey was drawing with a stub of charcoal.

The sound of the key in the lock drew Caffrey’s attention and he smiled when he realized it was Peter at the door. “Peter, how good of you come.”

“Let’s go Caffrey, before I change my mind.” Peter said opening the door for the younger man.

Neal jumped to his feet with his usual elfen grace and was out the cell door in moments.

When they’d made it back beyond the iron prison doors, Peter saw Neal visibly relax. “It was about time you came round Peter. They had me locked up with a bunch of Lushingtons.”

“Just be happy I came round at all Caffrey. I could have left you there. It probably would be best for me if I did.” Caffrey deserved a bit of rousting for continually allowing himself to get into such trouble.

“Now Peter, I don’t think you truly believe that. We make such a wonderful pair you and I.”

Peter shook his head. “You’re a rogue and a burner, Caffrey. I’m a copper star. We are not a pair.” Peter chided, his voice laced with mock irritation.

“If you think that Peter, than why did you come and fetch me?”

“Consider it a belated gift from St. Nicholas, Caffrey.”

Neal nodded, a thoughtful expression flitting briefly across his face.

They walked side by side back out onto the streets of New York. Peter turned north in the direction of his rounds and Neal turned south to do whatever it was that occupied his days. “We’ll meet again, copper star,” Neal shouted out spinning around to flash a smile at the other man.

“Indeed we shall,” Peter yelled back, a smile of his own marking his face. “And I dread the coming of that day.”

 
 
 
a rearranger of the proverbial bookshelf: White Collar - Neal b&wembroiderama on January 19th, 2014 02:38 am (UTC)
Ooooooh, this is fascinating! I'm so glad that you plan on giving us more of this because I could read lots and lots. You really showed the texture of the setting and the characters here.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on January 20th, 2014 03:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you!!!

I'm so glad you're interested in reading more. I was worried that no one would really be interested in this historical setting.

It's on my list to write as soon as I'm done with RevBB.
riverotter1951: north American river otterriverotter1951 on December 25th, 2014 04:54 pm (UTC)
More please.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on December 26th, 2014 04:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

There is a short timestamp here - http://pooh-collector.livejournal.com/25725.html?thread=259453#t259453

I am planning at least one more story in this verse, the one where Peter and Neal actually meet and begin to work together.

Hopefully, I'll get to it early next year.