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22 October 2014 @ 07:16 pm
Caffrey-Burke Day Fic - Love Lift Me Up  
Title: Love Lift Me Up
Author: pooh_collector
Characters and Pairings: Neal Caffrey, Peter Burke, Elizabeth Burke, P/E/N
Rating: PG
Word Count: 6,200
Spoilers: None
Summary: A fic for Caffrey-Burke Day. An elevator at the Federal Building goes on the blink. Bad things happen to Neal as a result. This fic is from a prompt from the lovely kanarek13 who also created the amazing artwork below.

Neal’s cell phone pinged with an incoming text just as he exited the Cyber Crimes offices. He pulled the phone from his jacket pocket as he walked to the elevator bank. After pushing the up button to summon a car he turned his attention to his phone.

Where are you? Neal smiled. This was the third text Peter had sent to him in the hour he had been down on the third floor. It was kind of adorable how overprotective Peter could be. Ever since the incident with Rice and Missing Persons, Peter was loathe to loan out his consultant. Since they had become lovers nearly a year ago, Peter had only become even more protective and possessive.

On my way back up now.

The elevator dinged and the doors opened just as Neal finished typing his reply. He hit send and stepped forward.

When his foot unexpectedly failed to find solid ground confusion and an edge of panic filled his mind. He looked up, eyes wide, to find the elevator shaft empty. Adrenalin rushed through his body as his heart began to pound. His feet scrabbled, looking futilely for purchase. His arms flailed, searching for balance. But it was too late, he was falling.

It seemed like a lifetime was passing him by as his body tumbled down the dimly lit shaft. Every previous perilous jump he had made in his life flashed before his eyes, tumbling out of the tree in Ellen’s yard for the first time when he was six, the leap from the second story window of the Amalienborg Palace, his first base jump in Austria, his daring jump out the judge’s window, his base jump off the terrace while Peter stood unsuspectingly a mere ten feet away. He had survived all of those, he could survive this. In the seconds he had, Neal did what he could to get his feet under him so that they would hopefully take the brunt of the impact.

He was only partially successful. His feet did hit bottom first, the impact shockingly brutal, but his body was still angled. His phone dropped from his hand, clattering onto the cement floor as he attempted to use his arms to brace himself as he stuck the cement. His effort was of little avail as his chest smacked hard against the ground, and then his head bounced off the bottom of the shaft once before his momentum finally broke and his body stilled against the hard ground.

When the initial shock wore off, Neal was surprised to find himself still conscious. He swallowed cautiously and then took a shallow breath. It hurt, and he ended up coughing despite his wariness, which sent pain spiking through his body and his head. His vision began to tunnel and Neal tried to hold on, tried to blink past it, but the pain grew worse, and the darkness thickened, twining its way through him and he lost the battle to stay awake.


After Peter received Neal’s text he relaxed and got back to the files on his desk. He hated loaning his partner out. Good things rarely came of it, at least where Neal’s health and welfare were concerned. Thankfully, Neal's task for Cyber Crimes didn't require him to leave the building today and that eased some of the potential stress.

Peter lost himself in the complexities of the quarterly budget report and the remainder of the morning and the afternoon slipped away. At five thirty he finally looked up, realized that the daylight was quickly fading and decided to call it a night. He closed the file, stretched out his stiff shoulders and looked out of his office windows and down into the bullpen. He frowned when he saw his partner’s desk sat unoccupied. He shut off his computer, grabbed his briefcase and his coat and then headed out of his office.

Jones was still at his desk and Peter stopped beside it. “Jones, have you seen Neal?”

Jones shook his head. “Not since he went down to Cyber Crimes this morning.”

Peter’s frown grew. “He texted me hours ago that he was on his way back up here.”

Now Jones was frowning too. He reached for his keyboard and quickly brought up the Marshal’s tracking software. He typed in his password and pulled up the page for Neal’s anklet data. “That’s interesting.”


“According to his anklet, Neal’s in the building.”

Peter pulled out his cellphone, brought up Neal’s number and hit call. The phone rang, three time and then Peter heard Neal’s voice. “You’ve reached Neal Caffrey. Please leave a message and I’ll return your call as soon as possible.”

“Neal, where are you? Call me back.”

Once upon a time, Peter would have gone straight to thinking the worst without passing go; Neal had run or he was pulling some off the wall caper that Peter would totally disapprove of. But, those days were gone. Now, Neal was on the verge of becoming an official consultant with a salary, a pension plan and a permanent place beside Peter and El in their bed when his anklet came off in less than six weeks. Neal had made a commitment to them, and to the life they now shared, and Peter knew how seriously Neal took the commitments he made to the people he loved. Something was wrong.

“I’ll call down to Cyber Crimes, see what they know,” Jones offered as he picked up the handset of his desk phone.

“Thanks, Jones.” Peter replied. He pointed up toward his office. “I’m going to go check in with building security.”

Peter made his way back up to his office, dropped his things unceremoniously in the chair Neal usually occupied and put in a call to security. It took far too long to get the security chief on the line and then there was way too much hemming and hawing about all the footage that would need to be reviewed in order to track Neal’s position throughout the day. Peter told him to forward everything from 8 AM onward up to the White Collar offices and not to worry about who would review it.

By the time Peter was off the phone Jones had messaged him that Cyber Crimes hadn't seen Neal since he had left their offices at 11:30, which was when Peter had gotten his last text from his partner.

Peter's heart fluttered with anxiety. There was no doubt in his mind that something untoward had happened to Neal. And, precious hours had ticked away while he had been blithely unaware that anything was amiss. Peter mentally kicked himself for his lack of vigilance and then picked up his phone to call the team back in to help find his wayward lover.


At the fringe of his consciousness Neal heard his phone ring. He tried to reach out to his nightstand to grab for it, but his arm felt strangely heavy. The phone rang again and Neal let it go unanswered. He would give himself a minute to wake up and then call whoever it was back.

As his consciousness level slowly gained ground, Neal realized that it wasn't just his arm that felt heavy, everything did and strangely everything hurt too.

Eventually, he managed to pry his eyes open. It was dark, with just a dim light filtering down from above. The shadows that stretched along the wall were not the shadows of his bedroom at June's, or at Peter and El's. He tried to move, to roll over onto his back to get a better look at his surroundings, but as soon as he attempted to shift his body a scorching pain ignited. He took a stuttering breath in shock and realized that his chest was tight and constricted. He stilled and took a couple of very shallow breaths, hoping the pain would go back to wherever it had been hiding. It didn't. But after several minutes, it eased. Neal realized that he was holding himself taut in anticipation of another onslaught and when he intentionally relaxed, things improved a bit more.

He still had no clear memory of where he was, or how he had gotten here. Without moving, he took a moment to survey his surroundings. He was lying on a particularly hard surface, cement. He could smell oil and grease. From the angle he was lying at he could see part of a cement block wall and what looked like two metal sliding doors. Elevator doors?

The memory of what had happened snapped into place in his mind and his breathing faltered sending a renewed wave of pain through his chest. He had fallen. He was at the bottom of the elevator shaft. The panic he had felt when his body was in free fall washed over him again. He had to get out, get help.

Slowly and carefully Neal pulled his arm toward his body, and fumbled with the pockets he could reach, hoping to find his phone in one of them. It wasn't there. Hadn't he heard it ringing before?

He was too tired to figure it out now. His eyes slid shut of their own volition. But that was okay, he would rest for just a couple of minutes and then he would take out his phone from his pocket and call for help.


Dawn had broken just over an hour ago, and when it had Peter sent everyone home to get some rest and come back in the early afternoon to pick up where they had left off.

Alone at his desk, Peter rested his head in his hand and pinched the bridge of his nose to try to ease the ache that had settled in behind his eyes. Neal had been missing for some eighteen hours and they were no closer to finding him. Peter knew he should go home as well and try to catch a few hours of sleep, but he couldn't bring himself to leave the building. It was more than possible that despite the anklet's location somewhere on the premises that Neal was gone, possibly even states or continents away by now. But, Peter didn't believe that. His gut was telling him that somewhere, somehow Neal was still inside the Federal Building. And, Peter had absolutely no intention of leaving it without him.

Peter and the team had spent the entire night reviewing footage from all of the cameras on the forty-one floors and two garage sublevels of the building. They still had quite a bit of tape to review, but so far they had no clues as to Neal's location. The camera in the hallway outside of Cyber Crimes faced the office's entrance. They saw Neal leave through the familiar glass doors at eleven thirty heading toward the elevators, but once he walked beyond the camera's field of view there was nothing. None of the elevator car recordings showed Neal getting on, none of the stairwell tapes showed Neal leaving the floor that way either. He seemed to have simply vanished.

Peter turned his attention back to his computer, bringing up the footage from the building entrance on Worth Street and picked up where he had left off, looking for anyone or anything entering or exiting the building that looked untoward. It wasn't long before he sighed in frustration. The video was getting them nowhere and precious time was ticking away. He needed a new plan of action.


Neal woke with a groan. His head hurt and the noise coming from above him was far too loud. Neal focused through the pain in his head and recognized the sound as a mechanical whirring accompanied by the grating sound of metal on metal. It seemed like it was close by and getting nearer. He didn't want to open his eyes, but eventually as the sound continued to grow closer, his curiosity won out.

The light was faint and Neal wasn't sure where he was. The wall in front of him was cement block. That was odd. He glanced around, increasing the pain in his head and creating a small wave of nausea. Metal doors. Elevator shaft.

The dim light from above was abruptly cut off. Neal turned his head as best he could around the pain and the awkward position his body was lying in and finally understood where the sounds that had woken him were coming from. The elevator was coming down the shaft toward him.

His heart sped up. He had to move, to get out of the way in case the car was coming to the bottom floor. He was lying not far below the level of the doors. He could be sandwiched between the floor and the car.

Neal tried to get his legs under him so he could lever himself up, and try to get out through the sliding elevator doors, but the moment he attempted to move pain shot through his body. His breath stolen, Neal clung to consciousness, afraid that if he lost the battle he would never again wake up.

By the time he was able to pull himself back from the edge, the elevator had stopped, a floor above him, and had begun to proceed back up the shaft again. Neal closed his eyes, relieved that for the moment he was safe.

The meager light returned as the car moved above the fixture’s position on the shaft wall and Neal opened his eyes again to the brighter shadows around him. Cement block walls? Where was he?


By the time Diana and Jones returned to the office earlier than expected at eleven, Peter had formulated a new plan of attack. "Neal's the evidence box and this is the Empire State Building. We're going to form teams and search the building floor by floor."

Peter was prepared for an argument, a litany of reasons why it was much more likely that Neal was nowhere in the building, but Jones and Diana simply nodded and set to work organizing the teams and recruiting help from other departments in the building.

Peter left them to it, and returned to his office to do something that he had been putting off since they had first discovered Neal was missing. It was eight in the morning in San Francisco and El might still be sleeping after the event she had managed last night, but soon he would be leading a team on the building search, so it was now or much later.

Elizabeth picked up the phone on the second ring. She sounded tired, but awake. "Hi hon."


"What's going on?" She asked, immediately picking up on the stress in Peter's tone.

Peter sighed, the pounding in his heart making it difficult for him to say the words out loud. "Neal's missing, hon."


"He went down to Cyber Crimes yesterday to help them with a case, and he never made it back up to our office."

"How is that possible? What about his anklet?"

"The tracking software says it's still in the building somewhere."

"Peter, that doesn't make any sense."

"I know, El. But, we're going to find him. I don't want to you worry. I just needed you to know."

The other side of the line was quiet for a long time. Peter was afraid that El was crying and there was no way for him to comfort her from across the continent. "Hon?"

"You find him, Peter and bring him home."

"I will, El," Peter replied with conviction. "We'll both see you tomorrow when you get back."


Neal woke shivering. He groped around clumsily trying to find the covers to pull tighter around him, but his hand found nothing. He grumbled in frustration and then gasped at the pain that swelled in his chest. He lay still and concentrated on taking shallow breaths until the pain eased.

Then he cracked his eyes open. It was dim, but Neal could see well enough to notice immediately that he wasn’t anyplace that he recognized. He blinked and tried to get a clearer look at this surroundings. He was lying on a hard surface and the wall in his field of view was cement block. The space smelled like oil and grease.

He tried to curl in on himself, in the hopes of finding some warmth, but pain radiating from everywhere in his body stopped him in his tracks. He moaned and shivered harder. “Peter?”

He wanted his partner. Peter would hold him close and take away the pain and the cold. “Peter?” He mumbled again, desperately hoping that his lover would somehow hear him.

There was no response and Neal felt unaccountably abandoned and bereft. He closed his eyes against the strange shadows that surrounded him and the tears that threatened. In the dark it was easier to hide from his fear and uncertainty.

It wasn’t long before unconsciousness took his weakening body again.


Six teams spent the afternoon, the evening and well into the night searching the federal building floor by floor. Every office, every public space, every supply closet and janitor’s closet, even the spaces above every drop ceiling of 29 levels was meticulously scrutinized. There was no sign of Neal, his anklet or anything suspicious at all.

At midnight Peter sent everyone home. They would take things up again first thing in the morning. But Peter still couldn’t bring himself to leave the building. Staring out at the city lights from the windows of his office he called El to let her know that Neal had yet to be found, but that he wasn’t giving up, would never give up. El was far too quiet on the other end of the line and Peter was certain this time that she was crying. He ached to hold her, to soothe her worries almost as much as he ached to hold Neal, to know that he was back with them and safe.

After he hung up with his wife, an unspoken apology still on his lips, he went down to the break room off the bullpen and lay down on the loveseat there. While he waited for his exhaustion to take him, he wondered where Neal was. Was he thinking of him and El? Was he trying to find a way back to them? Part of Peter, a part that he was loathe to acknowledge, hoped that Neal had run, because the alternatives, that he was imprisoned against his will, or hurt too badly to find help, or that he was dead, were simply too painful to bear.

Peter swallowed against the tightness in his chest that his thoughts had inspired. Then he closed his eyes to block out the florescent tube lights and imagined holding his partner in his arms, keeping him warm and sheltered, until sleep finally claimed him.


Neal’s phone was ringing. He could hear it. He knew it must be Peter, wondering where he was again. He would never admit it to his partner, but he liked the fact that Peter was overprotective and perhaps even a little possessive. It made him feel safe and loved.

He wanted to answer his phone, just to hear Peter’s voice. But it was so far away and he was too tired to try and get up to reach it.

Before long the ringing stopped and Neal was left alone again.


Peter was up before anyone else arrived back at the office. He took a quick shower and then put on the same clothes he had been wearing for the past two days. Back in his office waiting for the others to arrive, he picked up his cell phone and dialed Neal’s number.

Just as it had two days ago it rang three times and then went to voicemail. “You’ve reached Neal Caffrey. Please leave a message and I’ll return your call as soon as possible.”

Peter held back a sob at the sound of his missing partner’s voice. When the phone beeped, he cleared his throat and began speaking. “Neal, I need you to know that we’re all looking for you and we’re going to bring you home. I promise. I love you. El and I both love you.”

Not long after Peter regretfully disconnected the call the office filled up with the White Collar staff and the volunteers from around the building and everyone got back to the business of searching for Neal.

It was a grueling and frustrating day. While Peter supervised his search team and spent time standing on desks looking above ceiling tiles and on him knees searching through shelving in supply closets, he was counting down the time until El’s plane was due to land at six thirty. With every unsuccessful minute that passed he feared that he would end up breaking his promise to her.

It was almost five and he had his head stuck above his seven hundredth ceiling tile when he heard Jones’ voice below him. “Peter?”

Peter finished sweeping his flashlight around, finding nothing again before answering. “Yeah?”

“Will you come on down and grab a sandwich with me downstairs?”

Peter sighed as he dropped the tile back in place. “Maybe later, Jones.”

“No offense, Peter, but you haven’t eaten anything all day and you’re starting look like shit.”

“Just starting to?” Peter asked ruefully.

Jones smiled and nodded. “Yeah, just starting to. Come on, we’ll take a ten minute break. I'll buy.”

Peter had to admit he was definitely feeling like shit. He hopped down from the office desk he was standing on. “Okay, ten minutes,” he conceded.

Jones and Peter made their way out to the lobby and the elevator banks. Jones pushed the down button, while Peter pulled out his phone to check the status of El’s flight. The elevator dinged and the doors opened and Peter stepped forward without taking his eyes off his phone.

“Peter!” Jones yelled as he threw an arm against Peter’s chest, stopping his boss’s forward momentum.

Peter looked up, startled. Before him instead of a waiting elevator car he saw the cavernous space of the empty elevator shaft. “What the hell?”

Jones released him and Peter took a small step closer, looking into the dimly lit shaft. When he glanced up he could see the elevator car several floors above them. He let out an audible breath. "Thanks, Clinton," Peter said as he stepped back again.

"No problem."

"We should call building maintenance. Get them to shut down this elevator and figure out what's going on before someone does fall." As soon as the words left his mouth, realization struck Peter like a bolt of lightning and his heart dropped from his chest to his belly. Neal.

Thankfully, he didn't need to articulate what he was thinking. Jones had already reached for his phone, a wild-eyed look on his face.

Peter made for the stairs, Jones right on his heels. As they descended flight after flight to the lower level of the garage, Jones spoke to building maintenance in a clipped tone informing them of the situation with the elevator and telling them to shut them all down NOW.

By the time they reached the garage, they were both winded and Peter was shaking with apprehension. They ran from the staircase to the elevator doors, Jones stopping momentarily to grab the ax out of the fire box that was set on one of the cement support pillars.

Jones wedged the edge of the ax between the doors and began to pry them apart. Peter joined in as soon as a big enough gap appeared for him to get his fingers into. He pulled at the doors desperate to get inside all the while dreading what he would find there.

When the doors finally gave way and opened Peter's eyes fell on his unmoving partner, lying face down on the cement. Relief at finally finding him warred with the horror that Neal had been here hurting and alone for more than 50 hours.

"Neal?" Peter fell to his partner's side and placed his shaking fingers against Neal's carotid artery. It took a moment for Peter to feel it, but Neal still had a pulse, weak and thready as it was. He breathed a thankful sigh and ran his other hand gently through Neal's matted and greasy hair. "It's okay," he whispered, "I've got you. It's okay."

It was just before eight when Peter saw Jones and Elizabeth walk through the doors to the trauma center at Bellevue from where he was pacing in the waiting area. She rushed toward him as soon as she spotted him. Peter met her halfway and pulled her tightly to him, grateful to have her home safe and sound.

"How is he?" El asked while still in her husband's arms.

He shook his head, relishing the feel of her soft hair as it brushed against his roughly stubbled chin. "I don't know. They're taking care of him now."

El carefully disengaged herself from Peter and taking his hand led him over to two seats in a quiet corner of the room. Jones followed and took a seat close by, but far enough to allow them some privacy.

"Tell me," she ordered succinctly. Jones had told her only that Neal had been found, hurt, when he had picked her up at LaGuardia.

Peter looked down, swallowed and then met his wife's eyes again. "There was some sort of malfunction with the elevators in the building. We only figured it out because I almost fell myself. We found him unconscious at the bottom of the shaft.

El covered her mouth with her hand.

Peter felt the need to comfort her, reassure her, despite his own uncertainty. "We'll get through this, El. Neal's going to be okay."

She nodded absently, as if she knew Peter's platitudes for what they were.

Then they sat silently for another two hours before an older Oriental man in blue scrubs and a white lab coat emerged asking for the family of Neal Caffrey.

It was a terrible litany of injuries, a serious concussion, a cracked sternum and three broken ribs, a sprained right wrist and left ankle, some minor internal bleeding and due to the length of time Neal spent at the bottom of the shaft, severe dehydration coupled with mild hypothermia. They were placing Neal in ICU while they attempted to treat the internal bleeding non-surgically.

Peter and El continued their wait in the ICU while Neal was settled into his room. Peter sat numbly on a small loveseat in the alcove for family next to El, his head pounding behind his eye and anxious butterflies making him nauseated.

Neal's attending, Dr. Himukura, was optimistic that Neal would make a full recovery, but there were still risks from the internal bleeding and the concussion and he encouraged them to be patient while Neal received treatment and his body healed.

Peter was great at patient during stakeouts, the hours sitting behind the wheel of his car or in the back of the van had never been problem for him. He was great at patient with his staff and with the judicial system and with the internal politics of the FBI. He was great at patient when the Yankees were down by three runs in the ninth. But he was terrible at patient when someone he loved was sick or hurting. He needed to hold his partner in his arms the way he had that morning over two days ago, when they had clashed in the Burke's small bathroom and interrupted their routine to steal a deep and ardent kiss.

It took another two hours, but they were finally allowed to sit with Neal for a few minutes. Peter's immediate thought when they entered Neal's room was how fragile his partner looked. He was lying with the head of his bed slightly elevated to help his breathing. His chest and the left side of his face were covered in bruises that had turned dark purple. He had an oxygen cannula in his nose and IVs led into the crooks of both of his elbows.

Neal's nurse quietly explained that while Neal's saturation levels were fine, they were giving him oxygen to ease the pain caused by breathing with his broken ribs and breastbone. The first IV was providing medication to help stop the internal bleeding and ease his pain. The second IV was providing extra fluids to help him rehydrate.

El went to Neal's side immediately, kissing him lightly on his uninjured cheek and taking his hand carefully avoiding the pulse-ox monitor. Peter remained standing just inside the door, even more unsettled by Neal's appearance now than he had been when he and Jones had first found him.

Eventually, El broke Peter out of his reverie. "Peter," she whispered, an imploring look on her face.

Peter swallowed down on his nausea and anxiety and moved over to the bed to stand beside her and placed a hand gently on Neal's blanket covered thigh.


It was still mostly dark when Neal woke again, with just the dim light from somewhere overhead to see by. He blinked slowly noticing that something was different, but unable to conjure what it was exactly. After a minute, he realized that his view had changed, he was looking directly up instead of to his side. He was on his back. That was definitely new. Something else had changed too, the smell. He remembered grease and oil, and now his nose was picking up the scents of antiseptic, bleach and plastic.

He sighed, the stretch of his chest hurting, but not as badly as it had before. That was good, right? Something squeezed his fingers gently and Neal startled. He had been alone when he woke up before. He had called for Peter, but Peter never answered. Who could be holding his hand?

Neal turned his head sluggishly and when he blinked again Peter’s smiling face wavered into focus. “Hey buddy,” Peter whispered.

Neal smiled back or tried too, one side of his face felt oddly tight.

“You’re going to be okay. You’re safe now,” Peter continued.

Neal didn’t remember not being safe, but he was happy that Peter was here now. He did remember being very lonely before.

Neal’s eyes slid closed and he struggled to reopen them. He was suddenly exhausted, but he didn’t want to lose track of Peter again.

His partner must have read his mind, because he squeezed Neal’s hand again gently and whispered, “Close your eyes and get some sleep, buddy. I’ll be right here.”

Neal didn’t need to be told twice. His eyes slipped shut again he dropped away into sleep.

The next time he woke, the light was different, brighter. He looked over expecting to find Peter next to him, but in his stead Neal saw El. “El,” he mumbled, his voice strangely soft and his throat scratchy.

She smiled at him and he could feel her fingers running through his hair. He loved it when she did that. He sighed contentedly. There were questions on the tip of his brain; where was Peter? Where was he? Why did he feel so tired and achy? But, the gentle pressure of El’s fingertips against his scalp was so soothing that Neal’s eyes dropped closed again without his permission and before he had a chance to pry them open again, he was asleep.

Neal heard voices. At first he wasn’t certain whether they were part of some dream or whether they were real. He heard his name spoken by a voice he didn’t recognize and then he heard what he knew was Peter’s voice. Peter sounded tired and strained and Neal wanted to be able to fix whatever it was that was making his partner so stressed. He opened his eyes and tilted his head to where he thought Peter’s voice was coming from.

His partner stood nearby dressed in a very rumpled white button down shirt and suit pants and he looked as stressed as he sounded. He was speaking to an older man who was dressed in surgical scrubs.

"Peter," Neal mumbled, trying to attract the older man's attention. But, his voice was soft and breathy and neither man appeared to hear him. Neal swallowed and cleared his throat, which made his chest twinge with pain, and then he tried again. "Peter."

This time Peter turned at the sound of his name and moved quickly to Neal's side. "Hey partner," Peter replied with a small smile. "How are you feeling?"

Neal thought about it for a moment. His body and his mind felt heavy and achy and Neal was certain that there was more of the same lurking behind a wall of painkillers. He was also pretty confused about why he felt the way he did. "I'm tired, but I want to know what happened."

The man Peter had been speaking to interjected. "Neal, I'm Dr. Himukura. Can you tell me what you remember?"

Neal blinked and then carefully and slowly shook his head. "I don't know."

The smile fell from Peter's face and Neal felt terrible for making his partner worry. "I'm sorry."

Peter smoothed his hand across the top of Neal's head. "Hey, it's okay. Don't worry about it."

"You took a bad fall and suffered some serious injuries, but things are looking better and I expect you to make a full recovery," the doctor explained.

Neal tried to process that and think through what he was feeling, a concussion clearly, pain in his chest, his right wrist hurt and everything else did too really. But he was safe because Peter was here. Neal's eyes slid closed again.

Four days later Neal was finally released from the hospital. Peter and El insisted that he recuperate at their home and Neal was honestly happy to oblige. Normally, he was the type to crawl into a hole and silently lick his wounds in private, but for some reason he was craving Peter's hovering and El's mother henning, so he submitted with the mildest of token protests just for the sake of appearances.

By the time they made it to the house from the hospital Neal was feeling exhausted and in no mood to tackle the stairs up to the bedroom. But Peter insisted and supported Neal as best he could on the narrow staircase. Then between Peter and El he was stripped of the things he had worn home and dressed in pajamas, settled in their bed and plied with meds and water and a light snack. It was all accomplished with the utmost care and gentleness, but Neal felt like he was in the center of a whirlwind and he breathed a relieved sigh once the tray table was at last removed from his lap.

He wanted to close his eyes and sleep away the afternoon, but Peter was hovering nearby, a strained frown on his face, the same frown Neal had seen countless times while he was in the hospital. Neal tapped the bed next to him. "Peter, come sit with me."

Peter looked almost stricken at the idea and waved his thumb toward the door. "I should go help El."

Neal shook his head. "El's fine, you're not. Come sit with me."

Peter hesitated and then sighed and carefully stretched out on the bed next to Neal leaning stiffly up against the headboard.

"You've had this look on your face since I woke up in the hospital," Neal said using his fingers to wipe at the frown on Peter's face. "I still don't remember much about what happened, but it's pretty clear to me, even with a concussion, that you're feeling guilty about it."

Peter swallowed hard and turned his gaze away from Neal. Neal waited, knowing that Peter would talk when he was ready.

"You were missing for hours before I even realized you weren't at your desk. You were down there alone, dying slowly and I couldn't find you," Peter confessed. Neal could hear the strain and the exhaustion these last days had taken on his partner in Peter's voice.

Neal leaned over, careful of his chest, and placed his head on his partner's shoulder. Then he took Peter's right hand from where it lay clenched in his lap, and wove his fingers between Peter's. "None of that matters."

Peter looked over his shoulder and met Neal's eyes. "Of course it matters."

"I'm here now, safe in this bed with you, so no, it doesn't. The only thing that matters Peter, is that you did find me. You always find me." Neal brought their joined hands up and brushed his lips against Peter's skin. "I'm going to be okay, because you didn't give up on me, on us."

Peter turned in the bed so that he could face Neal as Neal moved himself back up against the headboard. Peter brought his forehead down to rest against his lover's and then he breathed in the lingering scents of antiseptic and hospital soap and Neal. "I'll never give up on you and I'm never loaning you out to another division again."

kanarek13kanarek13 on October 23rd, 2014 01:55 am (UTC)
*diez and iz ded* :P \o/

OMG, this is epic ♥ Awwwwwwwwww, poor Neal*pets him* You have written that fall and those brief spells of consciousness so very realistic, I could almost feel it all happening, like I was there with poor Neal ♥

And the moment when Peter and Jones finally figured it out? O.M.G., right down to the part with Peter gently petting Neal's hair ♥

And that beautiful ending, the two of them together, Neal trying to convince Peter not to feel guilty ♥ Our boys *draws hearts*

Love it to bits \o/ So epic \o/ Thank you so much for writing this :D :D :D *tacklehugs*
pooh_collector: mattpoohpooh_collector on October 25th, 2014 07:02 pm (UTC)
You are so welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it and that it lived up to expectations.

You're getting really good with that evil superpower of yours. "Here's some plot bits. Write it and I'll make you some art." EVIL!
kanarek13kanarek13 on October 25th, 2014 09:50 pm (UTC)
Heeeeee... the evilness shall continue :P

Check your email

pooh_collector: nealpeterpoohpooh_collector on October 26th, 2014 12:07 am (UTC)
There is no end in sight for the evilness!

But, yay for wonderful new icons!!!!!

Thank you!
angelita26: NealPeter Hug Heartangelita26 on October 23rd, 2014 01:59 am (UTC)
Love! LOVE! This is awesome. Just pure awesome. All the awesome, really.

I especially loved how you portrayed Neal's confusion. Every time he woke, he couldn't remember the prior time(s) and noticed the same things. I felt so badly for him. I'm so glad that Peter and Jones found him and got him help. And then that he helped Peter try to come to terms with it.

So much love! You're the best pooh bear - thanks for sharing!

ETA: Kanarek! Your art is amazing! I loved the addition of Peter looking so frazzled and worried. BRILLIANT!!

Edited at 2014-10-23 02:00 am (UTC)
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on October 25th, 2014 07:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you ang! I so glad that you liked it. I'm glad that Neal's confusion came through. I wasn't certain that I was making that clear enough in the telling.

And, I needed that final scene. I wouldn't have been a proper CB Day fic without it.
nywcgirlnywcgirl on October 23rd, 2014 07:58 am (UTC)
Wow, what an amazing story.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on October 25th, 2014 07:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.
elrhiarhodanelrhiarhodan on October 23rd, 2014 02:17 pm (UTC)

Poor, poor Neal, poor Peter!

Pets the amazing bear and her fuzzy brain for this awesomeness.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on October 25th, 2014 07:05 pm (UTC)

Thanks Elr! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
theatregirl7299: The Kisstheatregirl7299 on October 23rd, 2014 04:33 pm (UTC)

The only thing that matters Peter, is that you did find me. You always find me."

AHHHHH!! Flails!

Yes - that's all that matters!

Pooh - this is fantastic. I kept screaming at the computer screen "He's in the elevator shaft!! He's right there!"

Brilliant work as always.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on October 25th, 2014 07:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much TG!

It was hard not to scream at the word doc while I was writing it, LOL.
scarym1scarym1 on October 25th, 2014 12:41 am (UTC)
Great story. Love the whump Neal and worried Peter. : )

I especially love the last line.

"I'll never give up on you and I'm never loaning you out to another division again."

pooh_collectorpooh_collector on October 25th, 2014 07:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks scary!

I'm a huge fan of whumped!Neal, worried!Peter. I'm glad you liked them too.
dennih23: Season 5 hugdennih23 on October 25th, 2014 01:02 pm (UTC)
Great story - Poor Neal – how terrifying to be so confused as to what happened and not being able to get help. Neal seems to have bad luck when other divisions borrow him, so I’m sure Peter wouldn’t let that happen anymore! Thanks for sharing.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on October 25th, 2014 07:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Stacysahiya on October 27th, 2014 02:54 am (UTC)
This was wonderful! I was so worried for Neal, lying at the bottom of that elevator shaft for so long - and with a cracked sternum, ow. I know you're (generally) fond of happy endings, so I had faith you'd get him out of there eventually, but the writing was so good and Neal's pain and fear so vivid that I worried anyway. Wonderful work. Thank you!
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on October 28th, 2014 02:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks sahiya!

I'm glad I was able to make you worry. ;)

It was interesting challenge trying to make both Neal's fear and his confusion realistic enough.