Disclaimer: I'm not USA or whoever else owns it, so I don't claim to own them.
Characters: Peter, Neal, Mozzie, El, Jones, Diana
Fandoms: White Collar
Word Count: 1,000
Beta: All mistakes are my own.
Written For: whitecollarhc Advent 2014
Summary: Neal remembers one of Mozzie's closely guarded secrets in just the nick of time.
Neal's sharp voice startled both Peter and El. For the past week the man had been a silent sentinel watching over Mozzie's body as the machines he was hooked up to kept him alive.
"He's going to kill me when he wakes up," Neal muttered looking at his watch. "Only one day left. He never misses the deadline."
Peter reached over and placed his hand on Neal's shoulder and was grateful when the man stopped talking and looked up.
"Never misses what?"
Peter could tell that Neal was torn in telling him what was wrong. Nobody guarded his secrets more closely than Mozzie.
"As long as it's not illegal, let us help. I owe him more than that," Peter added softly as he thought about how it should have been El lying in that hospital bed instead of Mozzie.
"There's an orphanage," Neal said with a heavy sigh. "Every year he visits a few weeks before Christmas dressed as Santa and finds out what the kids really want for Christmas. Then at midnight on Christmas Eve, he delivers the toys."
El walked over and squeezed Mozzie's hand gently before bending down and placing a kiss to his forehead. They had been on one of their sporadic shopping dates when a mugger had held them at gunpoint. She had handed her purse over and was preparing to remove her jewelry when the mugger had pulled the trigger. She didn't remember much between the loud bang and then holding her hands over the blood pouring from Mozzie's chest as she screamed for help.
She had kept a vigil with Neal at Mozzie's bedside while Peter and the rest of the team provided unrequested support to the NYPD in finding the shooter. However, once word spread through the communities in which Mozzie maneuvered, the shooter turned himself to cops after a few days fearing for his life.
They were left waiting for Mozzie to wake up. The doctors were hopeful that he would make a full recovery, but they couldn't promise when that recovery would be.
"I'll say with Mozzie. You two round up the gang and make sure those kids have their Christmas."
Peter and Neal left with their marching orders. However, Peter was quick to learn that finding Mozzie's toy stash and delivering them would be a challenge.
"He has them stored at the North Pole, but-"
"You've never been to the North Pole," Peter finished for Neal.
"I have the key to finding it. It was one of his 'in case of emergency' things. Never thought I'd have to use it."
"As long as you don't need my shoe laces, we can handle it."
Neal just gave Peter a strange look and then they were off. It took the four of them several hours to follow the clues, but they were finally standing in a loft apartment that had every tacky Christmas decoration a person could imagine on display. The lights were on a timer and Neal couldn't help but laugh at the eccentric tendencies that Mozzie had.
"Found the list!" Diana was holding a long roll of parchment paper while Jones and Peter surveyed the piles of unwrapped gifts.
"Let's get to work," Neal said with determination as he pulled his jacket off and rolled up his sleeves.
The last bow was tied with just an hour to spare. Luckily, Mozzie had the foresight to make sure that the North Pole was next door to the children's home he had selected to be the benefactor of Christmas cheer for.
"Too bad he didn't have a trick wall built into this thing," Jones muttered as they tried to determine how to move the presents.
"That's it!" Neal snapped his fingers and walked over to the shared wall. He started a tapping routine that ended with a hollow sound answering him back several minutes later.
"Now to find the trigger."
It turned out to be the red nose on a figure of Rudolph. The door opened to reveal a large entrance area decorated with a plethora of children's artwork. There was a tree in the center. Thankfully, the lights were out and only the safety lighting was casting a soft glow in the room. It seemed safe, so Neal stepped through without hesitation and then chuckled at the three FBI agents that were hovering in the door.
"Don't think of it as breaking and entering. It's charitable good deeds and even the FBI can approve of that."
Decision made, they started lugging all the gifts into the space under the tree. It took them nearly an hour to transfer everything, including a group of extra gifts that were placed in an office that Neal picked the lock to. Apparently, Mozzie even accounted for the chance that a few extra kids had arrived since his Santa visit. It was when Neal was leaving the office with an empty red back that a small voice startled him.
"You're not Santa."
Neal looked over at the young boy. He was wearing glassing and clothes that were a bit too big on him. He also had a stuffed teddy bear clutched tightly in his hands.
"I'm one of his elves," Neal whispered as he knelt down to the boy's level.
"But Santa said he'd see me tonight." The sadness carried in the boy's voice broke Neal's heart as he thought about the 'real' Santa lying in the hospital bed.
"That's why he sent me. Rudolph got sick and Santa had to take care of him, but he remembered his promise so he asked me to come and see you."
"Can you tell him something for me?" Neal nodded and leaned in to listen. "Miss Jessica said I was getting a home for Christmas. A real one. I just wanted Santa to know so he'd find me next him."
"Don't worry," Neal said as he pulled the boy into a hug. "Santa will find you."
And across town, El smiled as Mozzie opened his eyes.