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20 February 2016 @ 04:13 pm
FIC: Driven Apart  
Title: Driven Apart
Author: pooh_collector
Word Count: ~3,000
Rating: G
Pairings/Characters: Peter/El, Neal, Peter
Summary: Bad things happen when Peter and Neal take a trip out to Long Island on a case and Peter fears the worst has befallen his partner.

This is a very belated birthday fic for angelita26. Happy Birthday, BT!

The fabulous art and the bunneh for this story were provided by the awesomely talented kanarek13.




The snowstorm struck much earlier than the weather reporters had predicted. The morning news had given them until the rush hour before the snow would start flying. Peter, with his CI in tow, had a lead to chase out in Syosset, it would take about an hour to get there and another hour back giving them plenty of time to interview the local LEOs and review their evidence.

But, the flakes were already falling when they left the police station just after one. “So much for the weather report.”

Neal pulled his wool coat tight against his chest and looked at Peter with his eyebrows raised. “How is this any different from any other day?”

“Touché,” Peter replied wryly.

The Taurus was coated in a light dusting of the white stuff and Peter took a moment to brush it all away while Neal got the car started and warming up.

Peter found the road was already slick from the thin layer of snow and he held the steering wheel tightly as he made his way back onto the Long Island Expressway.

The highway seemed better, with enough traffic moving through to keep the road clear, at least when they got on in Syosset. The traffic moving west, back toward the city was heavy, it seemed everyone was trying to beat at least the worst of the storm. Traffic sped up briefly and Peter accelerated. He had no desire to be out driving in the weather any longer than necessary.

Out of the corner of his eye, Peter could see Neal grimace and white knuckle the arm rest on the door of the car.

“The road is fine, Neal.” Peter sighed in exasperation.

“It’s not the road I’m worried about.”

Peter’s annoyance peeked. “Neal…”

Neal interrupted before his partner’s attention wavered any further. “Just please, keep your attention focused on the road. You can be angry with me all you want once we’re safely back in the city.”

Peter defiantly glared at his partner for a full half second before returning his attention to the traffic.

Not another word was spoken in the Taurus as they made halting progress across Long Island while the snow continued to fall and swirl around the highway.

They were just about to cross over into Queens when Peter realized that something was going on a few cars in front of them. He tapped the brakes to slow the Taurus and tried to get a better look. Brake lights shone bright red before them, warning of a danger it was too late to avoid. Peter hit the brakes harder trying to halt their forward momentum, just as the car in front of them began to skid.

“Peter!” Neal yelled out in warning.

“Brace yourself.” Peter floored the brake pedal hoping it would be enough. They were in the center lane of the highway, with cars surrounding them on all sides. He had no room to maneuver, nowhere to go other than straight into the growing pile of crashed cars before them.

Peter held tight to the steering wheel as the car slowed. To his credit, and a bucket load of luck, they came to a stop after no more than bumping the car in front of them.

Peter blinked in equal measures of relief and disbelief and loosened his death grip on the wheel, feeling the adrenalin rush wash through his body.

Neal breathed a shaky sigh of relief. “That was…”

SLAM

The impact of an SUV ramming them from behind sent the Taurus, and Peter and Neal flying forward. The sedan rammed into the car in front of them. Peter hit the steering wheel from the impact of the car behind them and moments later was thrown back against his seat when his airbag deployed.

Things after that were just a confusing morass of glass and cold and whiteness and pain. Then the car door was pried open by a pair of firefighters. His awareness finally returned with the loud, grating sound of metal on and metal and Peter looked over at Neal who was being rolled from the car onto a backboard. “Neal?”

“Don’t worry about your friend. We’re taking care of him,” one of the firefighters said no doubt attempting to be reassuring.

Despite the firefighter’s words, Peter couldn’t take his eyes off of Neal who was limp, the side of his head covered in blood. “Neal?”

Then his partner was gone, lost behind a wall of EMTs and the flurry of snow.

Peter was removed quickly from the car, strapped to a stretcher and then loaded into an ambulance. “My partner, do you how he is? Where they’re taking him?” Peter asked the EMT who was attending to him.

“Everyone is being transported to Long Island Jewish. I’m sure you’ll be able to find out more about his condition once we arrive.” The EMT was maddeningly matter-of-fact, doing nothing at all to ease Peter’s worry.

“Can’t you just tell me how badly he was hurt? He was still unconscious when they pulled him from the car. Please, I need to know.”

The EMT stopped in the middle of checking Peter’s pulse rate and looked him in the eyes. “Your partner’s air bag didn’t deploy and he hit his head pretty hard. LIJ has a great trauma unit. They’ll do everything they can.”

Peter’s heart lurched with the realization of how badly his partner was hurt. “Oh, Neal.”

***

Forty minutes later, Peter was sitting on a gurney while a nurse ran his vitals; pulse, blood pressure, temperature. She was calm and collected, in direct contrast to the chaos that was going on outside of his curtained off cubicle and the anguish going on in his head. The ER was in the process of treating more than twenty people who had been injured in the pile up that Neal and Peter had been in the center of.

Peter wasn’t hurt, not really, just some cuts, bruises and well maybe a minor concussion. But, Neal was somewhere in this hospital badly injured and alone.

“Please, I need to see my partner. Find out if he’s okay.”

His nurse didn’t stop pumping up the blood pressure cuff as she responded. “As soon as you’ve been examined, treated, and cleared, someone will help you find your partner.”

Peter scowled. “You don’t understand. He’s my responsibility. I have his medical POA. I need to know what’s going on.”

The nurse held up a finger indicating that he wait a moment, then she put the her stethoscope in her ears, tucked the diaphragm into the crook of his elbow and released the cuff.

While he waited, Peter fumed and tried to listen to what was going on out in the hallway, hoping that he might catch something related to Neal. But the sounds were frenzied and dissonant, people’s voices, some relaxed, some more urgent or pain filled, gurneys and equipment rolling on linoleum, mechanical whirs and pings, rubber-soled shoes squeaking. The only thing he could tell for certain was that the ER was overrun with patients.

His nurse finished taking his blood pressure, removed the cuff from his bicep and took out her ear pieces. “Sir I understand, but our first priority is to your care and your partner’s care. I promise you that we’ll get you whatever information we can, as soon as we can.” She moved around Peter and lifted up the head of the gurney he was sitting on. “Now please, lay back on the gurney. If you have a concussion and you get dizzy and end up out cold on the floor, it’s going to take a lot longer for us to connect you with your partner.”

Peter thought about protesting, about hopping off the gurney and going in search of his missing partner, but the no-nonsense look on his pretty blonde nurse's face stopped him cold. Instead he swung his legs up onto the gurney and slid up to rest against the thin mattress. The room spun and he was forced to close his eyes and take a deep steadying breath.

"Uh huh. Just as I predicted. Stay, rest. Someone will be in to take you to get that head CTed soon."

Peter sighed and squeezed his eyes tightly shut against his frustration. But, as soon as he did, the image of Neal bleeding and unconscious as he was wheeled away from the Taurus flooded into the darkness behind his closed eyelids. So he opened his eyes again and stared up at the acoustic tiles on the ceiling, counting the stains to try to keep his mind off his partner.

Fortunately, he was not left to dwell for long. Despite how busy the ER was, only a short time seemed to have expired before an orderly came and wheeled him to a waiting area outside of the CT room. He asked the nurse there who took his belt and checked him for other metal if she had seen Neal come through. "Neal Caffrey, dark, wavy hair, blue eyes, exceptionally handsome?"

"I'm sorry, I haven’t seen him brought through for any scans yet."

The CT process was painless and relatively quick, but Peter counted the seconds knowing that no one was going to bring him any news of Neal while he was undergoing the procedure. While they wheeled him back through the halls to his cubicle, his eyes swept the corridor and into all the windows in the treatment room doors searching for Neal. But there was no sign of his missing partner. He wondered if there was some other place that trauma victims were taken to, some special center and whether Neal had been so severely injured that he required that level of care.

When his nurse returned finally to check on him, Peter gave up on trying to keep his frustration and his fear from his voice. "Please, I need to know how he is. I… I was driving."

She finally looked at him with some measure of sympathy. "As soon as I have a free moment, I'll check in with the desk to see what his status is, okay? It's the best I can do right now."

Peter swallowed back on his desire to demand that she find out now, right the hell now. He was afraid the words would spill out of him if he tried to say anything at all, so he simply nodded and then regretted it when the motion ignited a wave of pain behind his eyes.

“Can I at least get my phone, so I can call my wife?”

The nurse nodded, slipped through the curtains and then returned just a couple of minutes later with his cell phone in her hand. “You really aren’t supposed to be making calls in this area, but as long as you’re quick,” she said as she handed him the device.

She left again, and Peter called El. The phone went straight to voicemail. Peter checked the time and realized it was after five, somehow, and El was knee deep in an engagement party for the daughter of a favorite client. “Hi hon. I’m okay, really, but I was in an accident this afternoon on the way back to the city with Neal. We’re at Long Island Jewish. I’ll leave you another message when I know more. I’m okay, just some cuts and bruises. I love you, hon.”

Peter hung up and then stared at the phone in his hand until he was suddenly struck by an idea. He pulled up the internet, searched for a phone number and then pressed the screen to connect the call.

“Long Island Jewish, how may I direct your call?”

“I’m calling to get information on someone who was brought into the ER this afternoon.”

“Hold a moment while I transfer you to their desk.”

Peter waited briefly and then the call was picked up again. “Emergency department, how may I help you?”

“My name is Agent Peter Burke, FBI. I’m calling about someone who was brought in after the accident on the LIE this afternoon, Neal Caffrey. He’s my partner and I have his medical POA. Can you tell me his condition, please?”

“Hold please.”

There was silence on the other end of the line for several minutes. Peter’s heart began to race as he waited. He wanted to know how his partner was, needed to know in fact. But he couldn’t help imagining the worst, Neal severely injured, in surgery, in a coma, under a sheet in the morgue.

Finally, the woman who had answered the phone returned. “I’m sorry, but I have no information on Neal Caffrey at this time.”

“What? He was brought in hours ago. You must know something by now.”

“I’m sorry Agent Burke, we received twenty-two patients from that multi-car incident. It’s taking some time to for everyone to be assessed and for that information to be processed to our desk. If you would like to call back in an hour or so, hopefully we’ll be able to give you more information at that time.”

He knew it was rude, but Peter hung up without replying, his heart still thundering in his chest. He couldn't help thinking, believing in fact, that Neal needed him. That he was gravely injured and alone, with no one to help him or speak for him or give him comfort.

Peter's dark thoughts drove him from his gurney. His vision wavered briefly once he was upright, but it wasn't enough to make him reconsider his course of action. He knew he looked liked hell, his head bandaged, blood staining his shirt, but he would talk his way out of it if anyone tried to stop him. He needed to find his partner. He would find his partner, end of story.

Peter pushed aside the curtains and made his way out into the hallway. There were curtained cubicles and a handful of treatment rooms on both sides of the hallway back in the direction he had come and gone from the CT suite. The other direction looked much the same, but had yet to be explored. Peter headed off in that direction, trying to maintain an air of certainty as he walked. He poked his head into the curtains as he went, apologizing if he was spotted by the patients on their gurneys, some of whom were clearly other victims of the pile-up with their varying injuries, from seemingly minor like his, to sadly much worse. The treatment rooms all had glass-windowed doors and Peter was able to peep in without causing any disruption or attracting any unwanted attention.

The hallways were all still busy with staff and gurneys and patients and their loved ones. Peter weaved around them, trying not to let the tragedy of what had happened on the LIE today overwhelm him. Had his actions caused anyone else harm? Was there anything he could have done to avoid the part the Taurus had played?

By the time he reached the end of the hallway his concern was escalating as his partner was still nowhere to be found. There was a T-intersection there and Peter flipped a coin in his head and then went left, still hopeful. By the time he reached the end of that corridor, with no sign of Neal, his fears were becoming more and more solid and heavy. His fingers stung with pins and needles, tears pricked at the corners of his eyes and his head thumped painfully in time with his thudding heart. He turned and headed back the way he had come, back to the T and then down the next side of the hallway.

Peter was halfway toward what looked like the ER waiting room when he passed another treatment room. The doors were shut, but when he peered through the window Peter saw a slim man with dark wavy hair lying on a gurney.

His hands were shaking as he pushed the door to the room open and stepped inside. Neal was lying with his bandaged head slightly raised. He was outfitted with a nasal cannula and an IV, but that was the extent of the medical equipment that surrounded him.

“I’m sorry, but you shouldn’t be in here.” A nurse that Peter hadn’t noticed through the window was standing off to the side next to a computer terminal. She was short, with thick brown hair swept back into a ponytail.

Peter pointed to the gurney and its occupant. “That’s my partner, Neal.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were family.”

Peter smiled. She obviously thought he had meant romantic partner, but he felt no need to correct her. Neal, in his own special way, was family. “Yeah. Can I?” He asked motioning toward the gurney.

She nodded.

“How is he?”

“Grade three concussion, a nasty scalp laceration, and three broken ribs. We’re still running some tests to be sure, but that looks like that’s the worst of it. He’s just sleeping now.”

Peter couldn’t get to Neal’s side quickly enough. He put his still shaking hand down on his partner’s arm. Peter hesitated a moment then, uncertain as to whether he should wake Neal or not, but his need for reassurance was too strong to wait for the younger man to wake on his own. “Hey, Neal.”

Neal stirred and a soft moan escaped from his lips. “Hey buddy, you’re going to be okay.”

Neal’s eyes blinked open and he squinted against the bright florescent lights. “Peter?”

“Yeah, I’m here.”

“I was so worried. No one would tell me anything. I was afraid…”

Neal couldn’t finish the thought and Peter understood why completely.

“Me too.”

Then Peter did the only thing he could think of to finally quell his partner’s fears, and his own. He gently put his arms around Neal, leaned in and held him carefully. Neal tucked his head into the crook of Peter’s shoulder and wrapped his hand tightly in Peter’s blood-stained shirt. “We’re together now. And we’re both okay.”

Peter felt himself relax and his heartbeat finally slow when Neal nodded against his shoulder. “We are.”


 
 
 
elrhiarhodanelrhiarhodan on February 20th, 2016 11:43 pm (UTC)
Awwwww.

Gentle, gentle hugs for both Peter and Neal.

I could really feel Peter's panic. Brilliant!
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on February 21st, 2016 12:01 am (UTC)
Thanks Elr! Poor boys, so much torture I have inflicted again.
angelita26: NealPeter Hug Heartangelita26 on February 20th, 2016 11:58 pm (UTC)
Awwwwwwwwww! I totally cried when they hugged. They were both so afraid for the other, and I could feel that like a palpable thing. Boys! *smushes them*

This is amazing! I had no idea what you were writing, and it's so perfect. The accident - I loved that they just barely bumped the car in front of them, but then someone slammed into them. It was a nice moment to catch my breath from expecting something awful, but then the awful thing happened anyway! It was great!

And then Peter's fear and desperation to know Neal's condition. I knew he would eventually flee his exam room, but I liked that he asked the CT tech - I thought maybe she would know something. And then it was brilliant for Peter to use his cell to call information - I totally held my breath to see if they would have any information. He pulled out all the stops before he went searching on his own.

I'm so glad they were reunited, and that they're both going to be okay. This is the BEST, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. LOVE YOU BT!!!

Kanarek, the art is just breathtaking! Peter's expression really says it all - he's in pain, he's worried, he's desperate for Neal. It's AWESOME! LOVE YOU TOO!!!

{{{{{{{{{{HUGS TO YOU BOTH}}}}}}}}}
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on February 21st, 2016 12:05 am (UTC)
AWWWWWWWWWW! So glad you liked it!

Thanks to Kanarek I had a really good starting point. And you know how I love the angsty, so it was fun to put Peter through all that angsty trauma.

HUGSYOUTIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
kanarek13kanarek13 on February 21st, 2016 03:16 am (UTC)
Squeeeeee ♥ Oh, such a wonderful treat to add to the already lovely weekend, hee :D

It's epic, my friend ♥ Love it soooo much, poor Peter terrified out of his mind for Neal, trying everything to get some information, slowly losing hope... until he finally spotted Neal only to find out that Neal's gone pretty much through the same ordeal, not knowing what happened to Peter.

They just had to hug after all of this. It's beautiful, perect ending for it ♥ Yay, soooooo goooood :P
Sherylynsherylyn on February 21st, 2016 03:54 am (UTC)
This is just wonderful! I love how intensely both Peter and Neal were looking for each other (even if Neal wasn't up to wandering the halls yet, you just know the feeling's the same!) -- worried and anxious and just *need* to find each other! Love it!!
sapphire2309sapphire2309 on February 21st, 2016 04:10 am (UTC)
*wibbles* this was wonderful <3
caseyf123 on February 21st, 2016 06:18 am (UTC)
That was absolutely wonderful. The tension was palpable as Peter searched for Neal. the ending was a definite awwww...... moment. Great job. Kanarek's artwork was amazing as usual.