?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
09 June 2014 @ 11:01 am
FIC: In the Depth of Winter I Finally Learned There Was in Me an Invincible Summer  
Title: In the Depth of Winter I Finally Learned There Was in Me an Invincible Summer
Author: pooh_collector
Rating: PG
Characters/Pairing: Neal/Peter/Elizabeth
Word Count: ~ 5,300
Spoilers: None
Warnings: None.
Summary: Another timestamp in the Of Christmases Past, Present and Future verse. Neal’s first undercover assignment has ramifications.

The title is from a quote by Albert Camus.


As soon as the meeting ended, Neal made his way out of the conference room, straight through the bullpen, out the office doors, into the bathroom to the first stall and promptly threw up his lunch. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a bit of a process, his belly settling momentarily only to clench again and again until Neal had nothing left in his stomach, not even bile.

By the time he was finally done, his knees were screaming from too much time spent kneeling on the hard tile floor and it took some effort for him to stand up in the stall, one hand braced against the metal divider, one hand on the disgusting toilet seat to give him leverage, as he got one foot and then the other under him and pushed himself upright.

He took a deep, and only slightly shaky breath and then exited the stall. Peter had of course followed him, and he stood leaning against the wall next to the paper towel dispenser while Neal washed his hands, rinsed his mouth out and splashed some cool water on his face and the back of his neck.

Peter pulled a couple of towels from the dispenser and handed them to Neal after the younger man shut off the faucet. Peter didn’t say a word to his partner, even though he wanted desperately to reassure him, instead he waited patiently for Neal to tell him what was going on in his head.

Neal ran the scratchy paper sheets over his face and the back of his neck before balling them up and tossing them in the garbage. He sighed and then turned his attention on Peter.

“I’m okay.”

Peter simply nodded and waited for Neal to either elaborate or to lead them out of the washroom. Despite the fact that the space was empty except for the two of them, Peter thought Neal might prefer to save the discussion for more dignified surroundings.

Neal turned away from Peter’s gaze and found himself looking at his own reflection in the large mirror over the bay of sinks. He was paler than normal, and his eyes weren’t masking the anxiety he could still feel churning in his gut.

He realized that he was humming softly and made a conscious effort to stop and focus on what he needed to say to Peter. “Maybe I’m a little freaked out, but I’ll be fine. I’m ready for this.”

Peter nodded again, confidently. “I know you are. I wouldn’t have given you the assignment if I didn’t think you could handle it, Neal.” After the mistake that he had made last November, there was no way that Peter would jeopardize Neal’s safety again. This would be an easy in and out op, and Peter knew that Neal was more than capable of pulling it off.

“All I need to do is authentic a painting. I’ve done it a hundred times before.”

“That’s right. And, Diana will be with you the whole time. It’ll be a cakewalk,” Peter said assuredly.

“A cakewalk,” Neal concurred, trying to force a confidence he didn’t quite feel into this voice.

Peter put his hand on Neal’s shoulder and squeezed the tight muscles he found there. “Let’s get out of here for a few minutes. Go down the street to that overpriced coffee place you like and grab a latte.”

“That sounds like a great idea,” Neal agreed, a small smile making its way onto his face.

***

When they returned forty-five minutes later, Peter went straight up to his office with a final supportive look in Neal’s direction.

Neal waited until Peter was seated at his desk, eyes on his computer and then he picked up his phone and dialed a number he hadn't used in just over a month.

His call went to voicemail as he suspected it would. He left a brief message, requesting a call back and then hung up and turned his attention to the work on his desk.

Neal spent the remainder of the afternoon trying not to think about what would be expected of him in two days, when he would go undercover for the first time in nearly nine months. He reviewed the case file on their suspected fence and then looked at the floor plans for the gallery where the meet was planned, memorizing the space, and then committing every detail of their cover story to memory as well.

By the end of the afternoon, Neal was as ready as he had ever been for any undercover assignment he had ever taken on, and better prepared than he had been on more than a few of those past occasions, at least mentally. Emotionally, seemed to be another thing altogether. Returning to undercover work was something he longed to do. He believed it was the final step in regaining his footing, at least in his professional life, but he couldn’t help wondering if he was ready, if he would ever really be ready.

At 5:45 Peter came to collect him and they were just heading out the glass office doors when Neal’s phone rang. He looked at the screen and then said to Peter, “I need to take this, will you go grab us an elevator?”

Peter raised a suspicious eyebrow, but then he nodded and left Neal to answer his cell.

“This is Neal.”

“Neal, Dr. Anders. You called?”

“Yes, I was wondering if there was any chance I could see you tomorrow, or early on Friday?”

“Let me check my calendar,” she replied. There was a pause and then she came back on the line. “I have an opening tomorrow at two, will that work?”

Neal sighed, relieved that he would get the chance to speak with her before he had to go undercover. “That will be fine. Thank you.”

“Good, I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

Peter was still waiting for an elevator to arrive when Neal joined him in the hallway. “Everything okay?” he asked. Neal knew that Peter had meant the question to sound casual, but it was hard to mistake the inquisitiveness in his partner's tone.

“Yeah, fine.” Neal was saved from elaborating by the arrival of the elevator which was already carrying a number of other agents on their way out of the Federal Building at the end of a long day.

When they arrived home, El was just putting dinner on the table. It was delicious, grilled chicken, fresh corn from the farmer’s market and salad, but Neal didn’t have much of an appetite. His thoughts kept circling back to the meet on Friday and everything that could go wrong. He could stumble over his words or physically stumble as he still did on rare occasions. And what if he started to hum while he was examining the painting or when he was trying to recite the code words that would bring Peter and the rest of the team in to make the arrest?

Elizabeth noticed her lover’s distraction and the way he was merely picking at his food and glanced worriedly over at her husband. He gave her a reassuring smile in return and when Neal left to go take a shower with most of his dinner still on his plate, El turned to Peter again. “What’s going on?”

“I gave him an undercover assignment,” Peter replied, matter-of-factly.

El’s eyes widened. “Is he ready for that?”

Peter smiled in a way that he hoped was reassuring, because Neal was ready. The only real question in Peter’s mind, was if he was ready, to sit by and watch Neal walk into a potentially dangerous situation. “Yes, he is. And, it’s no big deal really. He’s going in with Diana to authenticate a painting. The gallery owner will be there too. Neal’s done this a hundred times before and he’ll be absolutely fine on Friday.”

“Okay,” she replied. “I trust you, both of you.”

By the time Neal returned from his shower, dinner had been cleaned up and Peter and El were curled up together on the couch watching the Yankees. Neal grabbed the book he had been reading from the coffee table and went to sit in the chair next to the TV. Before he could settle in, Peter patted the spot on the couch next to him and looked at Neal expectantly. “Come here.”

Neal hesitated for a moment and then plopped down next to Peter. Peter threw an arm around Neal’s shoulders and pulled him close enough to place a soft kiss against the younger man’s temple.

Neal sighed and let his body melt against Peter’s. He dropped his book back onto the coffee table, nestled his head onto Peter’s shoulder and closed his eyes.

He didn’t want to think any more about Friday. He never used to worry about undercover assignments or the cons he pulled. He prepared for them certainly, but there had never been a reason for him to doubt his ability to pull it off, to get the goods, or make anyone he wanted fall under his spell. Now, he wasn’t so sure of any of that. Despite the fact that he had been feeling this way for months, since he really began to recover from his coma in fact, it was uncomfortable and disconcerting to be so unsure of himself. So he tried to clear his mind and let the sounds of the baseball game lull him into a comfortable doze.

Peter knew exactly when Neal fell asleep beside him. Neal’s body slipped that much further into his and Neal’s breathing settled into a soft, relaxed rhythm. Gently, Peter eased Neal down until Neal’s head was resting in his lap. At the change in position Neal lifted his legs and curled up on the sofa without waking at all.

When Neal did wake, to the feel of Peter’s hands running through his hair it was late, the game was over and El was letting Satchmo back in the house from the yard. “Mmmm, good morning.”

Peter smiled down at him. “It’s only 11:30, time for bed. Come on sleepyhead, up.”

Neal whined softly, but sat up, swinging his legs onto the floor. Freed from his burden Peter stood and then offered Neal a hand. Neal took it and Peter pulled him up. When Neal swayed slightly from the abrupt change in position, Peter wrapped his lover in his arms, thankful that he could keep him safe at least in this small way.

Neal uncharacteristically let himself be held. He was usually reluctant to show any sign that he wasn’t one hundred percent, that he might on occasion still need a little bit of help. But tonight, he brought his own arms up and wrapped them tightly around Peter’s chest.

Peter moved one hand back up into Neal’s hair and slid his fingers through the soft strands. “I’ve got you. And I’m not letting you go.”

Neal breathed deeply and squeezed Peter just a little tighter. “I know. Thank you,” he said, before pressing a kiss to the side of Peter’s neck.

***

On Thursday, Neal left the office with a perfunctory excuse about having an errand to run in time to make his appointment with Dr. Anders. It wasn’t that he didn’t want Peter to know that he had made an appointment with his former therapist, it was that he didn’t want Peter to be worried because he had made an appointment with his former therapist.

Neal could see the question in his doctor’s eyes as she welcomed him into her office, but she was reserved enough to wait until they were both seated before she voiced it. “What brings you back to see me, Neal?”

“Would you believe me if I told you that I’ve missed you?” Neal answered, brandishing his most charming smile.

“From that smile I could, but I don’t.”

Neal huffed in amusement. “I’m glad you can still see through me,” he confessed.

“Why is that?”

“Because I could really use some objectivity right now.”

Dr. Anders sat back in her tastefully upholstered wingchair and crossed her legs. “I’m all yours.”

There was no point in wasting any of his appointment time, so Neal got right down to it. “Things are actually going really well,” Neal began, reflecting on how much progress he had made, how much of his life was back to the way it had been before he was injured. Then he remembered why he had made this appointment. “And, maybe, they’re actually going a little too well.”

Neal looked up at his therapist, wondering what she was thinking; but she was inscrutable, just waiting for him to continue.

He took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “I’m going on my first undercover assignment tomorrow. Nothing hardcore. I just need to authenticate a painting so we can catch this fence. Diana will be with me the whole time, and Peter will be just outside in the surveillance van.”

He glanced at her again, but Dr. Anders was still listening and waiting for Neal to get to the reason why he had asked to speak with her.

Neal held her gaze as he continued. “In my head I know I’m ready. But, I don’t think the rest of me is quite with the program.”

“Why do you think that?”

He gave her his best isn’t it obvious look. “My balance still isn’t perfect. My concentration isn’t what it used to be. I still get awful headaches sometimes. I can’t stop myself from humming. It’s a terrible habit, by the way. I get tongue tied.” He stopped himself before he confessed to what he believed was really at the heart of his doubts.

Dr. Anders nodded. “That’s all true, but none of that would stop you from being able to successfully walk into a room, pretend to be someone else for 20 minutes, authenticate a painting and walk away with your suspect under arrest.”

“See, that’s just what my head keeps telling me.”

“So then where is the real problem, Neal?”

“I’m not sure,” he hedged.

Dr. Anders uncrossed her legs and sat forward in her chair. “Yes, you are. Tell me.”

Neal liked Dr. Ander’s directness. It had been the impetus for him to make a lot of progress toward dealing with what had happened to him and dealing with the reality of what his life now entailed. But that didn’t mean that having that directness directed at him was always comfortable.

Neal stood and took off his jacket and folded it over the back of his chair. It was hot in the office, wasn’t it? As he settled back into his seat, he fiddled idly with his tie clip. Finally, he folded his hands in his lap and sat staring at them as he tried to formulate a response.

“I’m not that Neal Caffrey anymore,” he said eventually. “The conman, the guy with the golden words that flowed from honeyed lips. The guy who could manipulate any situation, and if all else failed, the guy who could still manage to fade away without being caught.”

“No, you’re right. You’re not that man anymore,” Dr. Ander’s agreed. “But were you really that man anymore before your injury?

Neal looked up at her, his brow furrowed. “I’m not sure I follow.”

“It wasn’t just your injury that changed you, was it?” She continued. “It was the time you spent in prison, the time you’ve spent working with Peter and everyone else at White Collar. It’s the time you’ve spent with Peter and Elizabeth, sharing your lives together. These things are as much to blame for the loss of the conman as your injury, probably more so.”

Neal shook his head. “I doubt Peter would agree with that. I still managed to make quite a bit of trouble for everyone before I got hurt.”

“I’m sure you did and I’m sure you will again, but my point is, you were successfully going undercover long after you stopped being the man that Peter arrested.”

Neal looked down at his lap again. His hands were tightly clenched together.

“The question isn’t can Neal Caffrey, conman extraordinaire, pull off another con. The question is can Neal Caffrey, independent contractor to the FBI, handle an undercover assignment?”

Neal had to admit that Dr. Ander’s had a valid point. It wasn’t really fair to compare the man he was now to the man he had been when Peter caught him in that storage warehouse all those years ago. He had changed, in more ways than he could count and most of them had absolutely nothing to do with what had happened to him nine months ago, or even since then. In truth, he liked the man he had become since he had begun to work with Peter and even more since he had become Peter and Elizabeth’s lover. Being with them made him a better person. And, while he was no longer the suave conman and master manipulator, he still had all the knowledge and skills the conman had, and that was really all he needed.

“Yes, he can.”

***

Early Friday went by in a blur of final preparations, a run through with Thomas Cho, the gallery manager, getting wired and maneuvering everything and everyone uptown. Neal and Diana reviewed their cover stories in the van while they waited for the last minute preparations to be completed. The gallery was supposedly planning to insure the painting through Sterling Bosch. Neal would play the role of their authenticator and Diana the agent who handled the gallery account.

Neal sighed and ran a hand through his hair as they sat in the chairs next to the darkened monitors. He was getting anxious to get this over with.

“Hey,” Diana said tersely, to get his attention. “You’ve got this.” In typical fashion, there was no doubt in Diana’s voice, but there was a hint of the compassion that Diana was so good as revealing at the most opportune moments.

He smiled at her and nodded in acknowledgment. “I got this.”

“Good, then let’s get inside.”

The meet took place in an office just off the main exhibition space. Their suspect, Ross Martin showed up precisely on time, with the painting stowed in a large, leather art carrier.

Cho introduced Diana and Neal correctly as Adrienne Laurie and Nate Webster of Sterling Bosch, but he seemed slightly nervous to Neal, his mannerisms slightly exaggerated. So, Neal turned on the charm to deflect Martin’s attention away from Cho and back to the purpose of their meeting.

“I hear you’ve come across a previously unknown work by Alfred Stevens. Please, I would love to see it,” Neal said, pointing to the easel that had been set up for his examination of the piece.

Martin produced the painting and Neal’s eyes lit up in apparent appreciation at finding a new painting by the Impressionist who was best known for his portraits of women. Delicately, Neal set the unframed canvas on the easel and began to examine the brushstrokes, the paint, the aging. It had Steven’s very distinctive signature and it was very similar to another Steven’s work entitled Seated Girl, a nearly luminescent woman sitting before a dark and shadowy background.

It didn’t take Neal long at all to determine that the piece was indeed a forgery, a fairly decent one, but a forgery nonetheless. The brushstrokes weren’t quite fluid enough and Neal could see some hesitation in the signature.

Neal glanced over at Diana, who stood by patiently, to give her a head’s up and then he turned back to Martin.

"It's a beautiful piece Mr. Martin,” Neal began, giving the code phrase that would bring Peter, Jones and the rest of team in for the arrest, “the tones are exquisite, the expression on the young woman’s face visceral and quite moving. But I’m afraid it’s not a Stevens,” he concluded.

The room was strangely silent for a moment and then out of nowhere Thomas Cho gave an audible little cry and took a quick step back. The utterance and the move seemed to take both Diana and Martin by surprise. Diana hesitated for just a split second before announcing the words “FBI, you’re under arrest.” That miniscule hesitation was all Martin needed to pull the gun he had concealed under his suit jacket and point it directly at Neal.

White hot anger blazed through Neal when he saw the gun. There was no way he was going to let this day end like his last time in the field. He couldn't do that to Peter and El. He wouldn't allow them to be hurt again.

Later, Neal wouldn’t be able to decide whether time slowed down or sped up in the moments after the muzzle of the gun came to rest just three feet from his chest. He thought maybe he could figure it out if he did some research on the Doppler Effect, since he could distinctly hear the stretching and fading of all the sounds around him as he moved without hesitation, grabbed the gun by the barrel and yanked it out of Martin’s hand.

It came away more easily than Neal anticipated, and badly overbalanced, he ended up sailing backward and crashing through the easel before hitting the floor, the gun still held tightly in his grip.

The next thing he was aware of was Peter kneeling over him, his face ghost-white, panic written across his features. Neal realized that the sounds around him had returned to normal when he heard Peter calling his name plaintively. "Neal?"

Neal cleared his throat and replied "I'm fine," as he started to push himself up off the floor.

But Peter's hand was on his chest. "Don't move, an ambulance is on the way."

"No, Peter, really I'm fine," Neal argued, as he tried again to sit up.

"Neal, stop!" Peter demanded, pushing down gently on Neal's chest. "You were unconscious. You need to go to the hospital."

The urgency and fear in Peter's voice hurt worse than hitting the floor. Suddenly, the only thing Neal cared about was reassuring his partner, so he laid back and reached up to squeeze Peter's arm. "Okay," he said quietly.

Peter relaxed slightly at Neal's compliance, but his face was still grim, as they waited for the bus to arrive.

The wait was thankfully brief, and Peter rather reluctantly pulled himself away from his partner when the EMTs moved in. Neal was patient and compliant as they checked his vitals and performed a field test to ascertain his level of consciousness after Peter informed them that Neal been unconscious for at least a minute. Neal kept sending what he hoped were reassuring looks in Peter's direction as EMTs worked around him.

Neal tried to protest the cervical collar and the backboard, but no one was having it, so he sighed and sucked it up, knowing that he needed to do whatever it took to assure Peter that he was all right.

The attendants had intended to take Neal to the closest hospital to the scene, Mt. Sinai, but Peter insisted that they transport him to Lenox Hill and that they have Neal's neurologist Dr. Kline paged and waiting for them in the ER. And, probably just to make sure that his orders were followed, Peter jumped in the back of the ambulance once they had Neal settled inside.

For the first half of the ride, Peter watched the EMTs intently as they kept tabs on Neal's vitals and communicated with the hospital, the take-charge ASAC at the helm, stuffing his worry behind his authoritative façade.

But he was essentially ignoring Neal, and that was making Neal's determination to ease Peter's worry way more difficult, especially since he was immobile with his body completely strapped to the backboard. "Peter," Neal finally said, trying to gain his partner's attention. "Hey, over here."

Peter jolted at the sound of Neal's voice, as if he had forgotten that Neal was even there.

Neal wiggled the fingers of one of the hands loosely strapped to his chest in invitation.

Peter sighed and then wrapped his hand around Neal’s fingers.

“I’m okay,” Neal said, for what felt like the hundredth time.

Peter shook his head. “I’ll wait for the professional medical opinion, thanks.”

They were quiet the rest of the way to the hospital, Peter sitting stiffly at Neal’s side, gripping his hand.

Dr. Kline was waiting at the doors to the ambulance bay. He smiled down at Neal as the EMTs brought his stretcher into the building. “Neal, I wasn’t expecting to have to dance this dance with you again.”

Neal returned his neurologist’s smile. “I’m fine, really.”

“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?” Dr. Kline replied.

“That’s what I told him,” Peter interjected from Neal’s other side.

“Fine, I’d like to get off this board and out of this brace, so can we move this along?” Neal countered.

“Of course,” Dr. Kline responded, as they all started moving deeper into the ER. Eventually, Dr. Kline directed the EMTs to a treatment room, where they deftly moved Neal onto a gurney. Peter followed them in and then hovered near the wall as the attendants got Neal settled and then exited the room.

Dr. Kline approached Peter, moving into his personal space, and wrapped a hand around his shoulder. “Peter, why don’t you go out to the desk and fill out the paperwork I’m sure they have waiting for you. And, I’m guessing you should probably give Elizabeth a call too.”

Peter’s eyes went wide at the mention of his wife. “Yes, but…” he hesitated, looking over at Neal.

“I’ve got him, Peter. Don’t worry.”

Peter looked Dr. Kline in the eyes, remembering how much he trusted the neurologist who had saved Neal’s life less than a year ago. “Okay, I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

After Peter left the room Dr. Kline returned to Neal’s side. “Let’s see how you’re doing, Neal.”

“I’m pretty sure Peter is in worse shape than I am.”

“That may well be. But, the only way to fix what ails Peter is to fix you first.”

***

Peter spent an uneasy hour and a half in the waiting room, filling out paperwork, trying to explain to Elizabeth over the phone and then in person how he had screwed up and that Neal had been hurt, again, before the staff finally informed them that they could go back into the treatment area.

When Peter and Elizabeth walked into the room, holding tightly to each other’s hand, Neal was sitting up on the gurney, his legs swinging over the side. Dr. Kline was sitting on a rolling stool next to him, laughing.

“Hey,” Neal greeted his lovers with a bright smile.

Peter wasn’t sure what he had expected to find, a grim-faced Dr. Kline leaning over a Neal who was attached to multiple monitors, perhaps, but it certainly wasn’t this. Neal didn’t look like he had been unconscious just over two hours ago, however briefly. In fact, he looked like nothing untoward had happened to him today at all.

Elizabeth gave Peter’s hand a quick squeeze and then went to Neal and pulled him into a tight hug. “Are you okay, sweetie?”

“I’m fine,” he replied, returning her hug.

Peter rolled his eyes at the familiar declaration. “Dr. Kline?”

Dr. Kline turned to Peter and smiled reassuringly. “Neal’s right, he’s fine.”

“But, he was unconscious, he could have a concussion. Did you do a head CT?”

Dr. Kline and Neal both nodded. “Yes,” the doctor answered. “I did a head CT and full a neurological exam. With the exception of a minor bruise, Neal is 100 percent. That’s my expert medical opinion.”

“Can we get a second opinion?” Peter asked automatically.

“Peter!” El and Neal exclaimed simultaneously.

“Sorry,” Peter responded, hanging his head and running a hand across his face.

“It’s okay, Peter. I understand. What happened today had to have brought back a lot of difficult memories,” Dr. Kline sympathized.

Peter nodded. “You could say that.”

“I’m pretty sure I just did say that.”

Peter huffed in amusement, which released some the tension that had been holding him captive since Diana had yelled “Man down,” into her comm. “Yes, you did. I hope that means I can take my wife and my partner home now.”

“You most certainly can, as soon as I wring a promise from Neal that I won’t see him again anytime soon.”

Neal slid off the gurney and held up his hands. “You have my solemn promise.”

“Good. Be gone.” Dr. Kline replied, shooing them toward the door theatrically.

On the way out to the car, that Jones had dropped off for them, Neal wrapped his arm around Peter’s shoulder. “I told you I was fine.”

Peter scowled. “Gloating doesn’t become you.”

“Sorry, I’m not trying to gloat,” Neal explained. “I just want you to trust me.”

Peter stopped in his tracks and turned to face Neal. “I do trust you, Neal,” he implored. “It’s me I’m not sure of half the time.”

Neal sighed. “I know. I’m sorry. I wish we could go back in time and do things differently that day. But I need you to know, that I have never doubted you, Peter, not for a single moment, and I never will.”

Neal didn’t wait for Peter to reply. Instead he pulled his partner in close and held him tightly. “You’ve been protecting me since the day you agreed to my deal, longer really. And, I know you always will. It’s who you are. But, our line of work comes with certain risks, some of which are unforeseeable and some of which are unavoidable.”

If this day had proven anything to Neal, it was that despite some new quirks, he was whole again. He could successfully and safely do his job just as he always had, he could be a friend, a lover, a partner; he could be Neal Caffrey. And, he had nothing left to prove.

Neal pulled away and looked at Elizabeth. He wanted to make sure she knew his next statement was directed at both of them. “If you want me quit and find something else to do, something safer, I will. I don’t want either of you to ever have to face what you did last November again.”

They all stood there in silence for a moment, processing Neal’s words. Then Elizabeth took one of his hands in hers.

“That’s a very sweet offer, Neal,” El replied. She glanced over at Peter, who nodded his agreement, before she continued. “And, we appreciate it, we do. I’ve lived with worrying about Peter every single day for more than a decade and a half and about you for a long time now too. And, the honest truth is, if you quit tomorrow, I would be relieved, I think Peter and I both would. But, we wouldn’t stop worrying. And, now at least I know that Peter is looking out for you every day and that you’re looking out for him. It really does make it easier for me to know you’re there for each other.”

Neal looked at Peter for confirmation. Peter shrugged. “She’s right. Rare days like today aside, I’m not sure I would worry any less about you if I couldn’t look down from my office and see you at your desk whenever I needed to.”

Neal nodded. “That’s good, because I really wasn’t looking forward to learning how to write a resume.”

El snorted as Peter pulled them all together in a warm and joyous embrace right there in the Lennox Hill Hospital parking lot, as the summer day faded into evening.

 
 
 
angelita26: OT3angelita26 on June 9th, 2014 06:08 pm (UTC)
YAY!! You posted!!!

And it was just as exciting as I was expecting it to be. Poor Neal - he was so nervous, and then things went south, but he was okay. I really hope that Peter can forgive himself one day and not worry quite so much about our favorite conman-turned-independent contractor.

I really loved the scene with Dr. Anders, and I loved that Diana went undercover with Neal, which seemed to help both Neal and Peter deal with it a little better.

This is awesome! Thanks for sharing!!
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on June 22nd, 2014 09:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you ang!

I'm so glad you liked it. Neal is definitely not the confident confidence man he used to be. But, he does still got it!
kanarek13kanarek13 on June 9th, 2014 06:50 pm (UTC)
Yes \o/ Yay, it's posted :D I was dying to read it and, as expected, it is epic :D

Poor, poor Neal. He wanted to nailed that op, was so nervous about it, and then it had to go south, almost giving Peter a heart attack. I think it all shows how much both of them are still affected by the events that took place 9 months ago. They are doing so much better, especially Neal, but it takes one little thing for the cracks to get bigger, awww.

I am so evil because I wouldn't want it any other way :D All the worry and then making it all better with hugs and cuddles and sweet kisses - of that I can never get enough :D

Beautiful :D Thanks for posting :D
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on June 22nd, 2014 09:44 pm (UTC)
You're no more evil than I since I'm the one who keeps putting them all through all of this.

*evil cackle*

I'm so glad I was able to hit a few buttons for you with one!
scarym1: Peter is suspiciousscarym1 on June 9th, 2014 07:47 pm (UTC)
It is great to see another story to this Verse. : )

I love the scenes with Neal's therapist and the insights into how he is dealing with his feelings about going on his first undercover assignment.

I really liked how Dr. Kline uses humour to deal with Peter's worry about Neal's latest hospital visit. ; )

It’s okay, Peter. I understand. What happened today had to have brought back a lot of difficult memories,” Dr. Kline sympathized.

Peter nodded. “You could say that.”

“I’m pretty sure I just did say that.”

Peter huffed in amusement, which released some the tension that had been holding him captive since Diana had yelled “Man down,” into her comm.


Edited at 2014-06-09 07:51 pm (UTC)
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on June 22nd, 2014 09:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I like Dr. Kline a lot. I wish more doctors did have his sense of humor and his ability to diffuse tension. And, I like Dr. Anders too. Neal has certainly made good use of both of them.
joy2190joy2190 on June 9th, 2014 08:20 pm (UTC)
Now that I have rad the previous fics this is much scarier. First time out of the gate for things to go so wrong, can't imagine the horrors Peter went through when he heard Diana say, man down.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on June 22nd, 2014 09:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've been having fun torturing Peter emotionally in this verse.

But, things get better in the next installment which I posted yesterday, in case you missed it.
a rearranger of the proverbial bookshelfembroiderama on June 12th, 2014 01:32 am (UTC)
I'm sorry it's taken me so long to comment on this. I love it SO much. I love that Neal--all of them really, but especially Neal--is scared but so strong. I also love the discussion of how Neal's been changed not just by his injury but by other things in his life as well.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on June 22nd, 2014 09:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you e!

This verse really has become about Neal's evolution which I think was definitely spurred by his head injury but also fashioned by a lot of others things including his relationship with Peter and El.
Stacysahiya on June 30th, 2014 04:13 am (UTC)
This was lovely! I loved Neal's self-doubt and then how he handled the situation because he just couldn't let Peter and El be hurt again. And then to be injured in such an undignified way! The poor boy.