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Title: To the Stars
Fandom(s): White Collar (fusion with Doctor Who)
Pairing: Neal/Sara
Word Count: 2,272
Rating: G (nothing objectionable)
Warnings: None!
Disclaimer: White Collar is not mine, nor is the Whoniverse. In other words, I have about as much right to them as Neal did Sara's Raphael, which is to say, not much. At least I admit it. A few references are also made to other things I don't own, such as Star Trek.
Summary: Insurance investigator Sara Ellis never thought anything of hers would be stolen right in front of her. Intergalactic conman The Grifter wasn't anticipating the owner of the car he was stealing to interrupt him in the act. Now that they're stuck together, sparks might just fly--and Sara might get offered the chance of a lifetime.
Notes: This is a much-expanded version of a ficlet I wrote for the three-sentence AU meme over at Tumblr. The prompt I was initially given was Neal/Sara - he's the Doctor; she's the soon-to-be-companion. That ficlet can be found here. This is basically the two of them in the Doctor Who universe, but in the place of/without any of the Doctor Who characters--I'm given to understand that's called a fusion fic, the characters of one thing in the universe of another.

This is for the Written in the Stars challenge at [info]5_prompts (Prompt E14. A spark of romance is almost a given).

To Rachel, for the prompt.
To Cait, for everything.

"Where to, miss?"
"To the stars."

- Titanic

She’d known when she’d moved to the City that it wasn’t always the safest place, that cars and jewelry and purses got stolen all the time, but she labored under several layers’ worth of delusions.
First was the basic one: nothing will happen to me.
Second was another: everything she owned was insured, it practically came with the job title, and anyone stupid enough to think of stealing anything within the vicinity of Sterling Bosch would be quickly apprehended and the stolen goods returned.
There was one last delusion, one she was certainly not conscious of. If anything of hers did get stolen, she’d always thought, she’d catch the guy and nail his ass to the wall. She certainly wouldn’t find herself charmed by him.
Wrong on all counts, it turned out: something did happen even to her, it wasn’t exactly something Sterling Bosch was equipped to handle, and if the Grifter had anything in spades, it was charm, damn him.
She was supposed to call her aunt and uncle that night—she did every month, really, even if it was pointless, asking for news on Anna. She knew there never was any, but she asked anyway. She had to, because she feared that if she stopped asking, there would stop being any hope. She didn’t want that. Ever since her parents had died, her aunt and uncle were the only ones who held out the slightest bit of interest in Anna’s potential whereabouts. To the rest of the world, it was a cold case. One side of Sara knew that. The other side still wouldn’t stop hoping.
That was what her mind was on, she realized later, when she thought about it. She was thinking about the phone call, thinking about how she'd have to spend at least an hour on the phone fumbling for things to say to her aunt, who seemed to think that if they just pretended Anna had left to go shopping or out to a movie, she'd just walk back in as if that were really it.
She was thinking about the phone call, so she wasn't thinking about her car, wasn't looking ahead to check where she'd parked it. She wasn't looking ahead and noticing that there was a man using a slim jim on its driver’s side window, or at least she wasn't until he'd already done it and was about to get in.
 “Hey!” she shouted, running as fast as she could to her car—not easy, not in heels, especially not in heels as expensive as the Louboutins she was wearing—and making it just in time to catch the wrist of the man in the impossibly well-tailored suit and an absurd fedora who was attempting to hijack her car. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”
“Commandeering a vehicle, something you appear to have objections to.”
“It’s my vehicle you’re commandeering,” Sara said, slowly and deliberately, and—as the man seemed to realize quite quickly—dangerously.
“Is it? That makes it easier. No need to commandeer whatsoever—you can drive.”
“What?” Sara yelped, but before she could ask any more questions, the man had opened the door for her (how courteous) and pushed her into the driver’s seat, casting a seemingly nervous glance over his shoulder—it was only then she caught a glimpse of a passel of security guards rounding the nearest corner and heading straight for the man—as he looped around the car and into the passenger’s seat, urgently but gingerly placing a rolled tube of something in the backseat of the car and ordering her to drive.
She didn’t see a gun, but that didn’t preclude the possibility of there being one, so she did what he said and drove. Aiding and abetting—that was going to look good on her record. Maybe if she made it clear she’d been forced into it…
The man had sank down slightly in his seat so that he wasn’t quite so visible to passing vehicles or security men, but once they’d gone a few blocks he eased up and checked the back seat for his tube. He exhaled a long sigh and then doffed the fedora, revealing slightly too coiffed chestnut hair. “Thank you,” he said, with an effort that told her he didn’t say it too often, and in her shock she nearly veered them into the nearest Chase Manhattan.
‘Thank you’? You realize that you’ve kidnapped me—”
“—I wouldn’t say that—
You wouldn’t; the New York City police department might.”
“Ah. There is a solution to that.”
Despite the calm she’d cultivated through this entire bizarre ordeal, she suddenly found her palms sweating. Did he mean killing her? “Which is?”
“I arrest myself. Turn here.”
“I’m not turning anywhere until you give me some answers!”
“Which you’ll get as soon as I arrest myself. I promise, Ms.—I’m sorry, what’s your name, by the way?”
“Ellis. You’re not getting anything more than that.”
“They don’t have first names where you’re from, Ms. Ellis?”
“I’ve been taught not to give my first name to strange men who kidnap me,” she said as she did what he asked and made the turn—wasn’t she always told by the higher ups to obey all the demands she could if she found herself in this sort of situation? “There’s at least a few hundred Ellises in New York City. You’d have a hell of a time tracking me down if we get out of this. Last name’s all you’re getting. And I assume you have one.”
“Not a fair assumption. You haven’t given me your first name, so I see no reason to give you mine—not that I would. You can call me the Grifter.”
“The Grifter?”
“Swindler, confidence man, non-violent criminal—”
“I know what it means. Why the Grifter?”
“Because it’s what people call me. Can’t imagine why. I call me the Grifter, too; still can’t imagine why.”
“I’ve got an idea,” Sara said, casting a glance in the rearview mirror at the tube in her backseat, and another to check for flashing red and blue lights—still none. It was surprisingly easy to disappear in New York City. Maybe the Grifter had picked it on pupose.
She parallel parked where he asked her to, made him hand over the slim jim before they got out of the car (she wasn’t stupid), and followed him about three feet into an alleyway before she stopped, watching as the man, carrying his tube, walked to a blue box wedged narrowly between the buildings that were hemming them in on either side. It had a lightbulb at the top and paneled doors, and all around it was the bluest blue she’d ever seen. A lighted sign at the top read POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX.
“Now, like I said, I can arrest myself and off I go,” the Grifter said, fishing in the pocket of his suit jacket. “Or you could come with me.”
“What makes you think I would come with you anywhere?”
“Because just a few minutes ago you said, ‘if we get out of this.’ And because I can’t imagine Sterling Bosch would look too kindly on aiding and abetting, if anyone were to have seen you escaping with a known criminal.” He flashed a grin at that one.
“I bet you think that grin’s going to get you somewhere.”
“It has before. It’s almost a given.” The grin had shifted to a smirk.
“Not with me.”
The Grifter had seized on something in his pocket and pulled it out—a key. “Now, in I go…”
“I thought you said you were going off someplace,” Sara said, now slightly confused. “After you arrest yourself? How?”
“Come with me,” he repeated as he fit the key into the lock and opened the door of the police box, “and you can see.”
She’d admit to some curiosity. Only a bit.
Sara followed the Grifter inside the box.
She stepped out again only ten seconds later.
Walked around.
Then stepped back inside.
“It’s bigger on the inside,” she said, dumbstruck, facing the Grifter—suit, fedora, damnable grin, and all—who was standing at the console of what appeared to be highly advanced machinery, and somehow it wasn’t processing that this wasn’t a police box at all.
“Is it? I hadn’t noticed.”
“Don’t start,” she began, pointing a finger at him, and his gaze flicked to her manicured nails and then back up to her face. “How?”
“How is it bigger on the inside than the outside, or how did it get here, because you’re pretty sure it can’t be from Earth?”
“… there’s another place it can be from?” Sara said faintly, and in another two seconds she wanted to slap the grin off his face.
“There is. All in good time. The answer to your question’s twofold, and the first part is too technical to explain—long and short of it is that it’s like another dimension in here.” He gave the console a light slap. “The second part is that it’s, as you’ve figured, alien.”
“Are you alien?” she asked, once she’d wrapped her mind around the another dimension part, although she was pretty sure her mind was slipping loose from that part already.
The Grifter anticipated her knees folding and grabbed the swivel chair that sat at one end of the console, pushing it over and beneath her. He shut the doors of the box—though he didn’t lock them, Sara noticed—and waited.
“You asked me to come with you,” she said finally, when she could speak again.
“I did.”
“Come with you where?”
“Anywhere. This isn’t just my home, Ms. Ellis. It can travel anywhere you want it to, this galaxy or the next—this universe or the next.”
“There’s a ‘next’ universe?”
The Grifter gave a sort of sigh. “Of course there’s a next universe. Several of them. Actually, you won’t work that out until several decades from now, so my apologies…”
“If this thing can go anywhere… if you’re asking me to come with you… then you travel. You’re a traveler.”
“You go around to other places… planets?... and steal things. Like that.” She pointed to the tube, which was leaning against the console.
“I might.”
“And you want me to come with you?”
“We could be good together. You have an outstanding amount of grace under pressure. And you’re fiery. I like fiery.”
“Do you do this a lot? Steal strange women’s cars, ask them to come with you?”
An indeterminable expression crossed his face, and he shifted his gaze from her to the console, fiddling with a few buttons. “Once.”
“And what happened to her?”
“She’s gone.”
He said it with a finality she was suddenly afraid to question. When he looked up again, he held her gaze. “From what I gathered in your car, and when you didn’t contradict me earlier, you work for Sterling Bosch. I know the firm; it keeps expanding in years to come. You obviously have some moral qualms about what I do. But let me say this: what I’m offering you is something you can’t find at your desk or even bounty hunting. It’s the trip of a lifetime. If you turn down my offer, I promise you, I’ll let you get lost among the hundreds of other Ellises and you’ll never see me again. But I can give you mystery. Excitement. I can give you—the stars.”
He crossed towards her until he was standing directly in front of her chair, and the hands he placed on her shoulders were oddly gentle. “Come with me,” he repeated for one last time, and made an expansive gesture to the rest of the box, inviting her to go exploring.
So she did.
She returned three minutes later and stared, dumbfounded, at the Grifter, who somehow kept surprising her. She pointed back in the direction of what she assumed was the library. “There’s a Raphael in there. And it doesn’t look like a replica. Did you steal—?”
“I stole this,” he said, spinning on his heels and gesturing to the whole interior of the box. “But who says I didn’t know Raphael personally? That painting was a gift.”

“How can you know Raphael personally?”

“Oh, Ms. Ellis, didn’t I mention? It also travels in time.”

She shook off more wonderment, got herself collected, calmed her racing thoughts. When she’d done that, she circled around to the Grifter and pointed yet another manicured finger at him, lightly jabbing him in the chest. “I have conditions.”

“I can meet them. Within reason.”

“Everything you steal goes back to its proper owner.”

“Already being done.” He nodded to the tube. “Elizabeth XVI’s been looking for that.”

“You’ll bring me home if I ask you to.”

“Of course.”

“You don’t ask to know my first name until I tell it to you.”

“As long as you do the same.”

“And one last thing.” When he nodded for her to continue, she gave him a grin of her own—not quite as luminescent as his, but just as disarming. “You do what you promised: you give me the stars.”

The Grifter nodded, and a smile tugged at the corners of his lips. “You’ll come with me, then?”

“Doesn’t seem like a bad life,” Sara told him, stroking her fingers lightly along the console. “But it has to be better with two.”

“Like most things.” The Grifter punched in some coordinates and threw a switch, and before she knew it, they were flying. “Come along, Ellis.”


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 1st, 2011 10:41 am (UTC)
I really want to hug Timelord!Neal, I could imagine him having so much fun travelling across the stars and time :)
Dec. 1st, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Hee, I could imagine it, too--I was so happy when my friend gave me that prompt; it fits Neal so well.
Dec. 5th, 2011 03:33 pm (UTC)
I adored this! Now I want to read about their adventures! (And I sort of want them to meet Eleven and Amy and Rory and possibly River, because I think the Doctor and the Grifter in the same room would get up to heaps of trouble and it'd be amazing.)
Dec. 5th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! :) I'm hoping to do more with this fic in the future, so adventures they most certainly will have. And ha, the Doctor and the Grifter in the same room is just too hilarious to think about!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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