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07 May 2012 @ 12:13 pm
FIC: In Mourning  

Author:  Rating: PG
Characters:  Neal, Peter, Elizabeth
Pairings:  Neal/Peter/Elizabeth
Word Count: 2,300
Warnings:  Character death, kinda, sorta
Summary:  Neal gets a fever, has a horrible dream and loses track of Peter.

Notes:  This was written for 
[info]kanarek13
's prompt at the Running Hot II.




In Mourning

POP! 

The sound echoed in Neal’s head as he watched Peter fold in on himself and crumple to the cement floor of the warehouse.

“No!”  Neal screamed as he stumbled toward his partner.  He fell to the floor beside Peter, oblivious to the sharp pain in his knees as they struck the cold concrete.

Peter’s eyes were open, staring sightlessly.  A line of dark red traveled across his forehead from the bullet wound in its center.

“No, no…” Neal chanted as he sat helplessly beside Peter. 

Before them Kennick stood laughing as he tucked the gun he had just used to destroy Neal’s life back into the waistband of his slacks. 

“Pathetic, that’s what you’ve become Caffrey, tied to the apron strings of the Feds.  Well, consider your strings cut.”  Kennick laughed at his own joke, turned and walked out the warehouse.

Neal gathered Peter up and pulled his slack body onto his lap.  Peter’s chest was still against Neal’s.  Peter was dead, he was dead and it was Neal’s fault.  Somehow Kennick had known who he was.  He must have given something away in the last three weeks while he had been undercover in Kennick’s organization.  Oh god, he had gotten Peter killed.

When Diana and Jones arrived Neal was rocking Peter in his arms, tears streaming down his face.  It took the two of them to pry Peter’s cooling body from Neal’s arms.  The coroner took Peter directly to the morgue; the ambulance took Neal to the hospital.

Neal was unresponsive as the medical staff bustled around taking his vitals and checking him for injuries.  He didn’t care what was going on around him.  Peter was dead, that was all that mattered. 

Eventually, El walked into the treatment room where Neal was sitting.  Fresh tears sprung into his eyes at the sight of her.  “El,” he whispered.

She walked up beside him her eyes cold and hard.  “How could you Neal?”   

He had no response to that.  It was his fault; Peter’s death was all his fault.  He shook his head in shame as tears slid down his cheeks.

“I’m so sor…”  He made it only that far through his apology before El slapped him across the face so hard that his head snapped back.  Then she spun on her heels and walked away from him.  And, Neal’s heart broke for the second time in the same day.

****

Neal woke up sobbing, his breath hitching, tears wetting the pillow beneath his head.  He had no memory of how he had gotten back to June’s.   But, it didn’t matter, he thought as he curled up as tight as he could.  Nothing mattered now.  Peter was dead and El hated him.

Neal lay there alternately shivering and burning, the tangible evidence of his grief soaking not only the pillow, but the sheets now as well while his mind played out the scene in the warehouse again and again.   He ached everywhere and his head hurt almost as much as his heart.

Neal could not get the image of Peter’s open and unseeing brown eyes out of his mind.  He could see Peter’s disappointment in them.  As if Peter knew that Neal had screwed up, that Neal was responsible for his death.  The thought that Peter knew why his life had been sacrificed devastated Neal. 

Gradually the sky outside lightened as a new day dawned, the first day since Peter’s death.  Neal thought it wrong that it should be so bright and warm.  The world should spend at least one day mourning for Peter Burke.  Neal would spend what was left of his life doing so.

His phone buzzed on the nightstand, once, twice, thrice.  Neal ignored it.  It was probably Hughes calling to tell him that he would be going back to prison.  They knew where to find him when it was time. 

Neal was shivering again, tears still leaking from his eyes when there was a knock at his door.  It was probably just June, come to check on him.  He ignored it.

The knocking came again, and Neal rolled over away from the door in case she decided to come in.  He would pretend he was asleep and hopefully she would just leave him be.

The door opened and Neal clenched his eyes shut.  Please go away, he thought.     

Footsteps too heavy to belong to June crossed the floor.  They had come to take him back to prison then.  Maybe if he feigned sleep he could put them off for a while, give himself time to get himself together enough for the reality of a return to life in supermax.

 The footsteps stopped and someone sat down on the side of the bed.

“Neal, you awake buddy?”

Neal stiffened, his heart pounded.  Peter?  It couldn’t be, it just couldn’t.  Peter was dead, had died in his arms.  Neal curled in on himself and moved as close to the edge of the bed as he could.

“I know you’re tired, but we should get the paperwork on Kennick wrapped up today.”  The voice that could not be Peter’s said from the other side of the bed.

Stop, stop, go away!  Neal screamed in his head.  This couldn’t be real, Peter was dead.  The stress and the pain and the exhaustion overwhelmed him and Neal sobbed loudly. 

A warm hand was on the duvet against his shoulder an instant later, gently turning him onto his back.  Neal covered his face with his hands.

“Hey, what is it?  Neal?”

Neal sobbed again.  At the sound of Peter’s voice he was defenseless against his grief.   “I’m so sorry,” he cried, fresh tears streaming from beneath his hands.

Peter was underdone by the sorrow and pain in Neal’s voice.  He rose quickly and rounded the bed so that he could sit beside his partner and take him in his arms.

As soon as he went to lift Neal from the bed he could feel the heat rising off of him.  Neal resisted Peter at first, his hands still covering his face.  “Hey, it’s okay, I’m here.”  Peter cooed soothingly. 

Neal was bawling now.  There was no way that the strong arms surrounding him, supporting him could really be Peter’s, but his desire to held by his partner, his lover one last time was so strong he was overwhelmed by need and he simply gave in.  He dropped his hands and buried his face into the shoulder that supported him.

Peter rocked Neal gently making soft shushing noises.  He had no idea what was upsetting his partner so much, but he was certain it had something to do with the fever Neal was definitely suffering from. 

Eventually Neal’s sobs turned to whimpers and then sniffles as what little strength he had faded.  It felt so good to be held and comforted one last time.    

Peter decided he needed to get some fluids and some acetaminophen into Neal once his breathing evened out and he seemed calmer.  “Neal, I’m going to put you down and go get you some Advil for that fever, okay?”

Neal’s shaking arms came up around Peter’s waist and Neal mumbled into his shoulder, “please don’t go.  I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

“Hey, I’m only going as far as the bathroom, I’ll be right back.”

“Promise?” 

“Yeah, I promise.”

Neal dropped his arms to his side and Peter gently laid Neal back against the bed.  Neal’s face was red and blotchy.  His eyes were swollen as he looked desolately up at Peter.   Peter smoothed Neal’s hair back away from his face.  “I’ll be right back.”

Peter found Advil and a thermometer in the medicine cabinet, rinsed a wash cloth in cold water and grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator.  When he returned to Neal’s side his partner seemed to be staring off at nothing.

“Hey buddy, come on let’s get some Advil into you.”  Peter dropped his supplies on the nightstand and pulled a very pliant Neal back up so that he could prop some pillows behind his back.  Now Neal seemed to be staring at him, but not seeing him.  Peter’s concern, which he thought had peaked when Neal started sobbing into his shoulder, grew.       

Peter uncapped the water and then placed three of the Advil in Neal’s hand.  “Come on, take these.”

Neal complied, putting the pills in his mouth and then sipping from the water bottle that Peter handed him next.  

Then Peter placed the thermometer in Neal’s mouth.  While Peter waited for the beep he took the damp washcloth and gently wiped Neal’s face clearing away the tear tracks and the sweat from Neal’s forehead. 

Peter knew this last case had been rough on Neal.  He had been undercover in Kennick’s operation for three weeks and Kennick was a tough taskmaster, calling with demands at all times of the day and night.  But, Peter had no idea that Neal had ended up so drained and sick. 

The thermometer read 102.9, worrying high, but not quite get thee to the emergency room.  Peter was now more concerned about how tuned out Neal seemed.   So he toed off his shoes, pulled off his jacket and climbed over Neal onto the bed.  He leaned up against the headboard, placed a pillow in his lap and maneuvered Neal so that he was now lying down with his head on said pillow.  Peter pulled the covers up around Neal’s shoulders and then ran his hand through Neal’s hair hoping to comfort and relax Neal enough that he would sleep while the Advil worked its magic.

 “I’m sorry, Peter.  I’m so sorry.”

 “What are you sorry for?”  Peter replied softly.

 “It was my fault.”  Neal’s voice was soft, his affect flat. 

 “What was baby?”

 “Kennick, it was my fault.  I don’t know what gave me away.”

“Neal what are you talking about?” 

“It’s my fault that Kennick shot you.  I don’t know how I blew my cover, but he knew who I was and he killed you for it.”  Neal’s voice was still emotionless, as if he was deep in shock.

“Neal,” Peter said while tilting Neal’s head up so that he could meet his partner’s eyes.  “I’m here, I’m alive, I’m fine.”  No wonder the kid was such a mess.  Sick, feverish, all alone and grieving.    

“You’ve got a nasty fever and you’re exhausted.  You’re not thinking clearly right now, babe.  Thanks to you we got Kennick yesterday.  He’s locked up.  He never knew what was coming.”

Neal just stared up at Peter as if he were speaking one of the few languages that Neal didn’t actually understand. 

Peter sighed.  Obviously he wasn’t going to get anywhere until Neal’s fever came down and he had gotten some rest.

“Okay buddy, close your eyes.  Things will be better after you sleep for awhile, I promise.”

Exhaustion carried Neal away just a few minutes later. 

Once Neal was out, Peter pulled out his cell phone and called himself and Neal out for the day.  Then he called El.

 

Forty minutes later she showed up at the loft with a container of homemade chicken soup, crackers, ginger ale and a bag of other assorted supplies from Duane Reade. 

She squeezed herself up onto the bed next to Peter to wait for Neal to wake up. 

Neal slept quietly for another three hours.  He woke slowly.  His head hurt and he was achy and still very tired, but he was warm and he wasn’t alone.  Someone was running a hand gently through his hair.  Peter and El were whispering together above him.  He turned his head and opened his eyes. 

“Hey sweetie, how are you feeling?”  El asked as she smiled down at him. 

“I’m fine.”  He replied automatically.

Peter frowned.  “Neal, do you remember this morning?"

Neal’s brow furrowed, he didn’t remember, but he must have done something wrong because Peter was frowning.  “Um, I don’t know.”  He hedged.

Peter saw the discomfort and uncertainty in Neal’s eyes.  “Hey, it’s okay, you didn’t do anything wrong.”  He said soothingly running his hand through Neal’s hair again.

“You’re sick and your temperature was pretty high this morning, you gave me a bit of a scare, that’s all.”

“Oh, I…”  And, then in a flash it all came back, the warehouse, Kennick, the gun, the pop, the blood oozing from Peter’s skull and Peter’s dead eyes staring accusingly at him. 

He began trembling in Peter’s lap.  “Oh god, you were dead.”  Neal mumbled, his voice quavering. 

Peter gathered Neal into his arms and held him tight while El took Neal’s hand in hers.  “No buddy, it was just a dream.  It never happened.  I’m fine, we’re both safe.” 

“But I saw it Peter.  Kennick shot you in the head.  He killed you because of me.”  Neal’s voice was mournful. 

Peter pushed Neal away from his body and held him by his shoulders.  “Neal look at me,” he commanded.  Slowly Neal brought his eyes up to meet Peter’s.  “See, I’m okay, no holes.” 

Neal looked at Peter for long moments.  Then he looked over at El.  She smiled warmly and squeezed his hand reassuringly.

Then Neal did the one thing he could think of to actually prove to himself that Peter was really okay, he kissed him.  Peter’s lips were soft against his own.  Peter pulled Neal back up against his body and Neal could feel Peter’s heart beating against his ribs.  The warmth of Peter’s body, Peter’s heart, melted into Neal.  El released his hand and climbed behind Neal hugging him tight so that he was sandwiched between the two people that he loved most in the world.  Finally, his trembling ceased, and his body and his mind relaxed.  Peter was safe, Neal was loved and everything was remarkably right in the world.




 
 
 
kanarek13: pic#111809005kanarek13 on May 7th, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
Yay! Thank you :D Two fills for my little prompt \o/ And I got best of both worlds, one gen and one ot3 *does a very happy dance* Honestly, there's nothing more disarming than Neal cuddling to Peter... well, maybe except for grieving, devastated, feverish Neal cuddling to Peter and Peter sifting his fingers through Neal's hair :D

*melts* and *cuddles fic*

Thank you, thank you, thank you :D I am one happy gal today :D
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on May 7th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah, so glad that I could help make you a happy gal.

*melts* and *cuddles happy dancer*
elrhiarhodanelrhiarhodan on May 7th, 2012 07:48 pm (UTC)
Love this - it breaks my heart. I actually started to cry - nothing like a good death fic over afternoon tea!

One thing - there's this really weird green background on the fic - electric shade strips. I had to cut and paste it into a word doc to read. It shows up on your journal entry, but no where else.

Other than that, brava!!!!!!
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on May 7th, 2012 08:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Not that I like breaking hearts, well except poor Neal's of course.

I cannot see the weird green background. I've tried to look at the page while logged on and just as a viewer.

Not sure how to fix something I can't see. If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them.

Thanks!
elrhiarhodanelrhiarhodan on May 7th, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
Weirdness!

Normally, I'd accept the blame that the weirdness is from my Mac and say, "oh well." But I had the problem on my office PC, using Explorer!

Anyway - checked out your LJ on my iPhone and there is a single green bar at the time of the entry, but the rest is readable.

Hmmm.

Anyway - it's a terrific story and I'm going to enjoy it again and again.

ETA: I did a screen cap and this is what I'm seeing

Edited at 2012-05-07 08:13 pm (UTC)
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on May 7th, 2012 08:18 pm (UTC)
Ack, it was an explorer issue. (I normally use Chrome.) Thanks so much for finding it and pointing it out. I had to literally delete the whole post and re-insert it.
elrhiarhodanelrhiarhodan on May 7th, 2012 08:25 pm (UTC)
Glad to help!
Frith: White Collar - Neal - worried shirtfrith_in_thorns on May 7th, 2012 09:47 pm (UTC)
This was great! Poor Neal *hugs him* I especially liked the whole section with Peter being so confused and concerned, trying to work out what was going on.
pooh_collector: pooh2pooh_collector on May 7th, 2012 09:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you. That was the part that flowed the easiest in the writing. I'm glad it worked.
a rearranger of the proverbial bookshelf: White Collar - Neal angstyembroiderama on May 7th, 2012 11:23 pm (UTC)
OH NEAL! I love the affection you show between all three of them here. ♥
pooh_collector: pooh2pooh_collector on May 8th, 2012 12:18 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad we were each able to do something a little different with the prompt.
the island of conclusions: Nealariadnes_string on May 8th, 2012 02:07 am (UTC)
Oh, that's wrenching! The part where Neal imagines Elizabeth turning her back on him? *sniff* Glad he gets some comfort in the end.

I love getting two versions of the same prompt!

You're on the masterlist. If you post to AO3 remember you can put it in the Running Hot collection there.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on May 8th, 2012 02:11 am (UTC)
Thank you. In some ways I think Neal was more hurt by El's reaction than by Peter's death.
deepasoceandeepasocean on June 23rd, 2013 06:18 pm (UTC)
Awwww, poor Neal!
angelita26: Neal!Sleepingangelita26 on November 7th, 2013 04:15 am (UTC)
I just found this and it absolutely broke my heart. Poor Neal! And poor confused Peter! I'm so glad that Peter stayed with him and made Neal believe that he was real and alive. And that kiss - wow! There's such a great ending after such a heartbreaking story. Thank you for sharing!
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on November 10th, 2013 06:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks ang!!!

Maybe when I finally get my masterpost up, you'll find some other bits to read. ;)