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Monday, July 26th, 2010 07:14 pm
Title: Black Fedora
Fandom: White Collar
Characters: Diana Barrington, Nola Caffrey (pre-Diana/Nola)
Rating: PG-13
Word count: 827
Summary: The first time Diana meets her, Nola Caffrey is wearing a black fedora and a man's dark suit (cis-female Neal); written for the costumes square on my [community profile] kink_bingo card.

ETA: Winner of an arbitrary mod prize! Banner below the cut


Black Fedora

The first time Diana meets her, Nola Caffrey is wearing a black fedora and a man's dark suit. Standing next to Peter in his dull, black suit, and she tips her hat to Diana and smiles.

Diana's a graduate of Quantico, and good at her job – she knows there isn't a single part of what she's really thinking showing on her face when she raises an eyebrow and says, "You must be Nola Caffrey."

Nola doesn't say anything, just keeps smiling as she tilts her head in acknowledgment. She's a little taller than Diana, fine boned with wavy, shortish hair, and her shirt pulls just a little tighter over her breasts than it does anywhere else. She doesn't look like a man, doesn't look androgynous or like a woman trying to look like a man. She looks like a woman in a man's clothes.

She looks hot.


Later, when Peter's gone home to his wife and Nola's gone home to the big, old house she's apparently managed to sweet talk her way into, after she's said no thank you to Jones' offer of a ride and promised Hughes she won't stay too late, Diana goes down to records and finds all the files for Nola Caffrey.

She's seen some of the photos before, because she looked the case up when Peter mentioned it the first time, then again after Nola got sent back to prison, while Peter was deciding whether to get her out again. There are a lot of pictures though that she didn't bother with: Nola in jeans and t-shirts, Nola in ball gowns, Nola in business suits and waitress uniforms and coveralls. Nola as herself and Nola dressed up as someone else.

None of Nola in a man's suit, and Diana wonders who she's disguising herself as this time.


Diana doesn't get crushes on women she works with or women she has to catch, because it's never worth it. Her subconscious doesn't always completely agree with her though, and Nola is no exception to that rule.

She's an exception to a different rule instead, because when Diana dreams about her, she doesn't dream about peeling her clothes off, revealing her body underneath.

She dreams about dressing Nola up in a crisp white shirt, a snappy suit and a smart tie, angling her fedora for her. She dreams about Nola dressing her up a low cut blue ballgown, pulling the zipper up the length of Diana's spine and adjusting the straps for her.

It takes her five hours, the next morning, to realize that the dress is the same one Nola's partner, Kate, was wearing in a picture of the two of them, Nola in a matching red dress.


She'll never tell anyone, but watching Nola Caffrey walk into the office every morning is something Diana wakes up anticipating. Nola always wears men's clothes, right down to her shoes, always looks smart and sleek, not like the rest of them. Diana watches the way she tugs her cuffs straight, shrugs into her jacket, buttons her coat and adjusts her scarf, and can't look away.

"You know, you don't exactly blend in like that," Peter tells Nola one morning, the four of them sitting around the conference table, planning out Nola posing as an art dealer.

Nola smiles, catching Diana's eye for a moment. "You're just jealous that I make this work better than you could," she says. The words sound like flirting, but there's none of that in her tone of voice – there never is when she talks to Peter, and it makes Diana respect her more for protecting Peter's reputation.

"Certainly that hat," Peter says dryly.

Nola picks her hat up, turns it in one hand, flips it to the other and puts it back on the table. Smiles. "Don't mock the hat," she says.

Peter rolls his eyes, but he's smiling, amused and friendly. "Let's get on with this," he says, gathering up the papers and standing.

"One high class art dealer, at your service," Nola says. She swipes up her hat again, rolls it up her arm like she's going to drop it on her head, then hesitates. Peter holds the door, and Diana stands next to Jones, waiting. Nola turns the hat in her hands once, then smiles, walks round the table to them.

"Maybe Peter's right," she says. "I don't want to stand out too much, after all." She turns the hat again, almost like she's nervous, if Diana could even guess what nervous would look like on Nola Caffrey, then takes it firmly in both hands, reaches out to put it on Diana's head. "You look after it for me," she says, smiling at Diana, all confidence.

Diana smiles back. "I'll take good care of it," she says, and reaches up to touch where Nola's hands just were, adjust the angle of the brim. Nola nods, pleased, and Diana adds, "I promise."
Monday, July 26th, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
Excellent job!
Monday, July 26th, 2010 10:38 pm (UTC)
I approve heartily of Diana's taste is women. Lovely snapshot of a could-have-been!
Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 02:45 am (UTC)
Woo! This is so awesome. Diana's voice and pov and the just the idea of Nola Caffery dressed like that.
Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 04:24 am (UTC)
I really really loved this and it was totally hot in a subtle way. I actually hope you will continue on with this 'verse.
Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this! After last episode I've been craving Diana/girl!Neal fics like there's no tomorrow. AND I COULDN'T FIND ANY! So, thank YOU!
Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 04:26 am (UTC)
I love this. Who is she trying to be? At a guess, with no con on, herself. And how very wonderful that is!
Saturday, July 31st, 2010 01:42 am (UTC)
Oooh, I like this!
Monday, September 13th, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC)
ooooh, I like this! what a fabulous AU world that would be. It seems that you've hit on the one thing that could possibly make Neal hotter, but I'm not sure whether it was the genderswap or the crossdressing. Awesome.
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 09:49 am (UTC)
Ohh, I love this!! Especially this bit caught my eye:

Diana doesn't get crushes on women she works with or women she has to catch, because it's never worth it. Her subconscious doesn't always completely agree with her though

Haven't we all had that problem! I just wish they'd go all weird on us and do a genderswap episode now, because this was hot hot hot :) Thank you!
Sunday, October 31st, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, very nice! ♥♥♥
Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
Mmm, I like this!