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09 May 2013 @ 09:09 pm
FIC: Like a Hero Going Home Part III  

Title:  Like a Hero Going Home Part III
Rating:  NC17
Warnings:  Explicit smex and unbetaed.
Pairing:  OT3 P/E/N
Setting:  Future fic, post-anklet
Word Count:  ~13,300 Total
Spoilers: Nothing in particular, except for Out of the Box
Summary:  Neal has trouble finding his way home.


Part III

Neal woke feeling sore, tired and disoriented.  The bed underneath him was softer and more comfortable than the one in Billy’s walk up.  And, his space at June’s felt different, smelled different.  He was at Peter and El’s.  No, that wasn’t right either, he was home.  DeKalb Avenue was home.  But the bed around him was disconcertingly empty and cold.  He opened his eyes and looked at the bedside clock, 1:07 PM.  That could explain it.  He rolled out of the bed slowly, mindful of his tender ribs and the headache left over from his concussion, padded to the bathroom to pee and then made his way downstairs.

Elizabeth was seated at the dining room table, her laptop open before her typing away.  “Oh you’re up.”  She smiled as she jumping up to hug him carefully and plant a kiss on his lips.  Then she took his hand and pulled him gently over to table, guiding him into a chair.  “I’ve got coffee ready.”

Neal watched her prepare a mug for him and set it down on the table.  “Now what can I get you to eat?”

Neal shook his head.  “Nothing, I’m not really hungry.  I’ll grab a bowl of cereal a little later.”

She ran her hand through his hair, smoothing his errant curls away from his eyes.  Neal leaned into her hand, reveling in how good it felt to be touched, to be loved.

“Sweetie it’s been ages since you’ve eaten anything.  Let me make you an omelette, or I know pancakes.”  El headed back into the kitchen and began pulling supplies out of the cabinets leaving Neal feeling oddly abandoned.

“Please El don’t.  I’m really not hungry.”  Neal’s leg had started bouncing and he was beginning to feel the burn of anxiety tighten his chest.

“It’s really no trouble.  I’m happy to do it.”  El replied as she started measuring out the flour.

This wasn’t right.  Elizabeth had work she should be doing.  Neal didn’t deserve her attention.  He could take care of himself.  He should take care of himself.  “Please stop,” he mumbled.

Elizabeth looked up confused by his plea and the plaintive sound of his voice.  “Honey, what’s wrong?”

At the sound of El’s concern something inside of Neal snapped and anger flared whiting out any other thoughts in Neal’s head.  “I said stop!” he yelled as he threw his coffee mug across the room to smash on the tile floor of the kitchen just inches from Elizabeth’s feet.

The sound of the impact brought Neal back into the moment and the reality of what he had just done.  “I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.”  He breathed, his body quaking from shame and horror at his actions.  In his mind he imagined the mug striking El, hot black coffee burning her delicate white skin, instead of hitting the floor next to her.  He swallowed hard against the little bit of coffee he had consumed rising back up his throat.  Neal pulled himself up from his chair and scrambled to the bathroom locking himself in before dropping to the floor in front of the toilet and retching violently.  The coffee came up in the first go and then Neal spent several minutes painfully dry heaving.  By the time he was finally finished his ribs felt like they were on fire, and his head was pounding fiercely.  He leaned back against the cool porcelain of the tub breathing shallowly, waiting for the pain to ease.

When he finally felt capable of moving, he turned on the shower, stipped off his pajamas and stood under the hot stream hoping to wash away his self contempt and the loss of self control that had led to him almost hurting Elizabeth.  He climbed out when the water started to cool, wrapped a towel around his waist and walked into the bedroom.

Elizabeth was seated on the bed waiting for him.  She didn’t look angry or upset at what he had done, only concerned and maybe a little sad.

Neal felt his stomach turn over again.  “Are you okay?  I didn’t hurt you?”

“I’m fine, Neal.”  She patted the spot next to her on the bed.  “Can you come sit with me?”

Neal shook his head.  “I don’t think I can talk about this now.”

El could hear his voice shaking.  “Okay, but come sit with me anyway.”

Neal shook his head again.  He shouldn’t be anywhere near her.  He didn’t deserve her comfort.  “I should go in to the office.  I’ve got about a million reports to file.”

“No one’s expecting you there today.  Please come sit with me.”

Neal really didn’t think that he could cope with Elizabeth’s forgiveness, her concern for him.  How could she possibly forgive him so easily for the violence he had displayed, for so nearly hurting her, for what he had become.  “Please Elizabeth, I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I know.”

“Then let me go, please.”

El sat on the bed for a moment, considering Neal’s demeanor, his words.  Then she got up, kissed him gently on the cheek and headed for the bedroom door.  Just before she left the room she turned back and said, “I’ll still be here when you come home.  I’ll always be here Neal.”


***


As soon as Neal left the house Elizabeth called Peter.  “Hi hon.  Are you still at the office?” she asked.

“Probably for another hour or two.  I’m just trying to wrap up my report from the takedown last night.  How’s Neal?”

Elizabeth hesitated, uncertain about how much she should tell Peter over the phone.  “He’s on his way there, at least I hope he is.”

“What happened?”  Peter’s apprehension about the potential fallout from Neal’s undercover assignment flared.

“I’m not really sure.  He got very upset and I think he needs some space to sort some things out.  I was hoping you could check on him when he gets there.”

Peter could sense that Elizabeth wasn’t telling him everything that had happened, but decided it was best to let it go for now.  They could talk about it together when they were all back home this evening.  “I can do that.  We’ll see you at home later.”

“Thanks, hon.”

Peter saw Neal come into the office about 45 minutes later.  Even from the vantage point of his office Peter could tell that Neal looked tired and sore, his movements lacking his normal grace.

Peter waited and watched as nearly every member of the White Collar division stopped by Neal’s desk to welcome him back.  Neal nodded and smiled in all the right places, but it was clear to Peter that his partner’s heart wasn’t it.  Eventually Neal was left to his own devices and began typing into his computer.  Peter waited just a bit longer and then made his way down to Neal’s desk.

“Hey buddy, I didn’t expect to see you here today.”

Neal smirked, clearly not buying what Peter was selling.  “Really?  You haven’t spoken to El this afternoon?”

Peter nodded, acknowledging that Neal had caught him out.  “Yeah, she told me you got upset and needed to get out of the house for awhile.”

Neal smiled bitterly.  “That’s one way of putting it.”

“Do you want to go get a cup of coffee and talk about it.”  Peter asked.

The memory of his coffee mug lying in pieces on the floor, dark brown liquid spilled across the cabinets and the tiles spun in Neal’s head.  He swallowed hard against the image and the idea of putting another mug in his hand any time soon.  “No.  I just want to work on these reports for Ruiz.  Okay?”

Peter nodded.  “I’ll just go back up to my office for a while.  Let me know when you’re ready to go home.”

Neal simply nodded.  He didn’t want to tell Peter that it was going to be a long time before he felt ready to go home again.

At six-thirty Peter decided that he and Neal had both had enough for one day.  He closed up shop and headed down to his partner’s desk.  “We should get going if we want to make it home for dinner,”  Peter said insouciantly hoping Neal was ready to go.

Neal didn’t look up from his monitor.  “I’ve still got a lot to do here.  I’ll find my own way back to the house later.”

Neal could sense Peter’s frown.  Neal hated to disappoint him, but he wasn’t ready to face Elizabeth again, or Peter when he found out just what Neal had nearly done earlier.  Just one more thing Neal could add to the list of reasons to be angry with himself.

After Peter left, Neal spent a few more hours working on his reports for Organized Crime until his eyes kept sliding shut of their own accord and Neal couldn’t make his fingers work the keyboard any longer.  He considered calling Mozzie and asking him if he could camp out at one of his safe houses, but he hadn’t spoken to Moz since the day before he went undercover and he didn’t think their first conversation should be about asking for a favor, especially when a lot of explaining would be involved.  He considered calling June, asking it he could stay in his old apartment for a night or two.  She wouldn’t ask why, but she would look at him with concern and probably call Peter at the first opportunity.  Then he considered going to a hotel, but the thought of lying alone in a strange bed held even less appeal than facing his lovers.

In the end he grabbed a cab back to Brooklyn.  As he sat there on the uncomfortable, sticky vinyl seat everything caught up with him, the stress, the anxiety, the exhaustion, the physical pain and the hunger.  He curled in on himself as best he could with cracked ribs trying to hold himself together.  He wanted the life that he had three months ago back.  The one where his anklet was finally off for good, where Peter and Elizabeth’s home had just become his home and where the promise of a bright and happy future with his lovers was fresh and untainted.

Despite the hour, the house was still brightly lit when he arrived.  When he got to the door he felt his chest tighten.  He took a moment to even out his breathing and then went inside.  Peter and El were sitting together on the sofa, Satchmo curled up at their feet, the Brooklyn Nets game playing on the television.

Peter breathed a sigh of relief when he heard the key turning in the door.  He was beginning to worry that Neal wouldn’t come home at all.  He knew his partner well enough to know that he preferred to hide away and lick his wounds in private.  And, these wounds were pretty deep.

Ruiz had called Peter about an hour ago and had given him some of the details that Neal had been putting into his incident reports.  Billy Riley had had his hand in quite a few unsavory activities over the past three months, things that Neal Caffrey, even during his most notorious criminal days would never have done.  And, knowing that Neal had been witness to the shooting death of another man, a death that was meant to ensure Billy Riley’s loyalty to the O’Neills, explained a lot.

Peter was hard pressed to keep his expression neutral when Neal walked into the living room.  His partner looked awful, worse than he had in the hospital just the previous night.  Neal’s face was pale, his eyes red rimmed with black smudges below them.  While last night Neal had looked grim but determined, now he looked defeated and lost.  Elizabeth stiffened next to him, clearly seeing the same things as Peter.

“Hey, did you get your reports done?” Peter asked as casually as he could.

Neal shrugged.  “Some.”

Neal was standing just inside the living room, looking confused as to what to do with himself, one hand pressed to his injured ribs.

El’s heart was breaking at the sight of Neal standing there so uncertain.  She went to him and wrapped him in a gentle hug.  Initially, Neal went rigid, and she tightened her hold slightly, careful not to put pressure on his injuries.  And, then he wilted in her arms, his head coming to rest against her shoulder.  “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,” he lamented.

“Sshhh, baby, it’s okay.  We’re okay,” she soothed.

Neal brought his arms around Elizabeth and pulled her in close burying his face against her neck.  She could feel his ragged breath hot against her skin.  Peter came up behind Neal and rubbed tender circles on his back.  They stayed that way for several minutes until Neal regained some control over his emotions and he pulled away from Elizabeth.

Peter guided Neal over to the sofa where Neal sat carefully dropping his head down to rest on its cushioned back.  He felt utterly spent.  Peter and El sat down on either side of him, El resting her head on his shoulder and Peter brushing his hair away from his forehead.  Neal closed his eyes and tried to pretend that everything really was okay.  But the anxiety that had been his constant companion over the last three months would not be denied, butterflies swirled in Neal’s chest and his leg began its unconscious bouncing.

Neal’s stomach grumbled noisily.  Peter huffed in amusement and El placed her hand against Neal’s insistent belly.  “I made my homemade chicken soup for dinner.  Would you like a bowl?”  she asked, keeping her tone light and relaxed.

Neal sighed.  El’s innocent question brought him back again to what had happened in the kitchen that afternoon.  But, he was actually starving.  He wasn’t really sure when he had last eaten anything.  Lunchtime yesterday, maybe.  So much had happened in the interim.

“I can go get it.”  He replied finally, lifting his head up off the couch.

Peter put his hand down on Neal’s shoulder, holding him in place.  “I’m sure you can, but you’re exhausted and in pain.  So you’re going to stay here with El and rest and I’m going to bring you some soup and some Advil."

Neal looked up into Peter’s eyes and decided the best course of action was to fold.  Peter had on his ‘I’m the Special Agent and you’re the CI face’, the one that Neal never won an argument with.  “Thank you.”

“No thanks necessary.  We’re just glad to have you home.”  Peter patted Neal’s bouncing leg and then went off to the kitchen.

He returned a short time later with the promised soup, the Advil and a tall glass of water.  Neal ate his soup slowly savoring the warmth and the delicious, hearty flavors.  It was the best thing he had eaten in months.

Peter watched the game while his partner ate, trying to give Neal a little space.  But he couldn’t help noticing that the leg next to his continued the nervous bouncing that had started almost as soon as Neal had sat down.  So Peter moved his hand over, placed it on Neal’s leg and gently rubbed from mid-thigh to knee and back again.  After a minute the bouncing slowed and then stopped and Peter kept up the soothing motion hoping to help ground Neal.

Once Neal was finished the three of them went upstairs to bed.  Peter and El tucked Neal in between them and the security and warmth of their bodies lulled Neal off to sleep almost as soon as his head touched the pillow.

In the morning Neal knew exactly where he was when he woke.  Peter’s lips on his made certain of that.  Neal hummed and opened his mouth once again inviting Peter in.  And, again Peter accepted, languidly exploring Neal’s mouth with his tongue in the way only a well-acquainted lover could.  Neal kept his eyes closed, enjoying the feel of Peter.  Peter’s tongue in his mouth, Peter’s lips against his, Peter’s hands in his hair and moving softly along his chest.  It wasn’t long at all before Neal’s arousal grew, along with certain parts of his anatomy.  He pushed his hips up off the bed; a silent signal to Peter that the show was definitely on the road and wrapped his hands around Peter’s shoulders pulling him closer.

Neal could tell that Peter got the hint when he felt Peter’s hand on his hip, pushing Neal’s pajama bottoms down.  Neal tried to lift his hips again to help Peter along, but this time the movement pulled on his ribs and Neal fell back to the bed with a moan.

Peter pulled his mouth away from Neal’s.  “Ssshhhh, I’ve got this.”  Neal felt Peter move down the bed and use both hands to carefully drag Neal’s pants down and then off his body.

“El?”  Neal breathed out.

“Gone to an early client meeting.  It’s just you and me, buddy.”

Neal expected Peter to move back up again, but instead Peter’s hands spread Neal’s legs wide and Peter’s mouth flowed down Neal’s cock, his tongue sliding artfully along the vein on the underside.  Neal just about lost it right then, but Peter gave a quick tug to Neal’s balls to help stave off the inevitable.

“Peter,” Neal said, trying to convey all the love and devotion he felt for his partner in the simple statement of his name.  How many times had he dreamed of Peter’s hands on him, mouth on him, in those lonely months that he lived as Billy Riley.

And, Peter’s mouth was most definitely on him, his cheeks hollowing as he sucked gently on Neal’s straining cock.  Then Neal felt a probing finger circle his hole, run up his perineum and then back down to dart inside of him.  He shivered at the intensity of feeling that Peter’s finger created in his body and his heart.

Peter’s finger was quickly joined by a second as he carefully stretched Neal open, the scissoring motion along with the continued sucking bringing Neal to the precipice.

Peter could feel how close Neal was, so he swirled his tongue around the head of Neal’s dick one last time and then released him from the warm confines of his mouth.  Neal groaned at the loss of contact, but it was stifled a moment later when Peter’s fingers found his prostate.  Neal drew in as sharp a breath as possible with cracked ribs and pushed himself down onto Peter’s nimble fingers.

“I love you Neal Caffrey, don’t you ever forget it.”  Peter intoned as he swept his fingers over Neal’s sweet spot a second time.

Neal had long since lost the ability to speak or even think rationally, but he nodded his head in acknowledgement of Peter’s words.

When Peter’s fingers slid carefully out of Neal’s body, Neal started to lift his knees up to his chest.  But Peter’s hands guided them down to lay flat on the bed again.  “Too hard on your ribs,” he said quietly.

Then Peter was lying beside him again.  “Open your eyes, Neal,”  he ordered.  Neal turned his head and opened his eyes.  Peter cupped Neal’s cheek in his hand and drew Neal’s face to his.  “It’s going to be okay, Neal.  We’ll make sure it is, together.”  Neal nodded wanting so much to believe that there was a way to turn back time, to regain what they had three months ago or at least to start fresh in the here and now.  Then Peter kissed him again, a kiss of conviction, love and promise.

Peter pulled his lips away from Neal’s and then he gently rolled Neal onto his uninjured side, pushed his top leg up and away.  Then Peter slid his fingers back inside of his lover.  This time Peter’s mouth was on Neal’s neck sucking softly when he ran his fingers along Neal’s prostate.

Neal bucked against Peter’s hand.  “Please Peter.”

Peter gave Neal a final stretch as he removed his fingers.  Then he grabbed the condom he had left on the nightstand, rolled it on, added some lube and slowly pushed inside Neal’s body.

Neal saw stars dance behind his closed eyelids as Peter slid all the way up inside him.  He reached back blindly and found Peter’s hand where it lay on his hip, took it in his own and brought them both to rest on his chest, over his heart.  He wanted Peter to know how it felt to him, how much he adored having Peter make love to him.

Peter placed a hungry kiss in the hollow behind Neal’s ear and then started moving, drawing almost all the way out of Neal and then sinking back in again.  Peter’s angle was spot-on, dragging his cock against Neal’s prostate in both directions.  Neal felt his arousal settle heavily in his belly as Peter pumped out and in again slowly, drawing out their union, keeping their culmination at bay.  Peter repeated the move again and again, keeping his pace measured, but his thrusts deep, sending surge after surge of pleasure through Neal.  Neal wanted to wait for Peter, but it had been so long and the slide of Peter’s body in his was so perfect.

Peter could tell that Neal was trying to hang on for him when he felt Neal’s body stiffen.  He pulled out of Neal so slowly one last time.  “Come for me, Neal.”  He begged before biting down gently on Neal’s shoulder and driving into his partner aiming straight for Neal’s prostate.

The combination of Peter’s words, teeth and cock sent Neal flying over the edge.  He came long and hard spurting cum across the bed as Peter pistoned into him.  He was still coming when Peter followed him over the edge driving as deeply into Neal as was physically possible.

When Neal came back to himself Peter’s softening cock was still buried deep inside him and Peter was planting sloppy kisses on Neal’s neck and shoulder.  He took Peter’s hand from his chest and kissed his palm, a thank you and an acknowledgement of Peter’s unconditional love for him.   

Eventually, Peter pulled out carefully, got rid of the condom and encircled Neal in his arms.  Neal felt himself melt into Peter’s warmth, his body and his mind relaxing in a way he hadn’t been able to achieve since before he went undercover.

“Go back to sleep,” Peter whispered.  Neal couldn’t help but comply.


Part IV