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13 May 2013 @ 01:39 pm
FIC: In the Silence  

Title:  In the Silence
Rating:  PG
Warnings:  Unbetaed.
Pairing:  Peter/Neal/(El)
Setting:  Season 4, Episode tag to Parting Shots
Word Count:  ~1,000
Spoilers: Parting Shots.  My apologies in advance for anything in this that might conflict with the ep.  I haven’t seen it in many moons.
Summary:  An answer to this prompt from rabidchild in ComfortFest 2013.
Peter or Neal is in need of comfort. The reason is up to you, as long as you deliver it to me without a single word spoken between them.

Peter was good at a lot of things; taking down white collar criminals, doing the NYTimes crossword puzzle in pen, catching one Neal Caffrey, taking care of his wife and his dog, fixing things around his home, cooking his famous pot roast.  But there was one, at the moment, very important thing that Peter wasn’t very good at at all, coping with someone who was crying.  And yet here he was alone, with no backup, sitting across from Neal on a hard, plastic, hospital waiting room chair while tears slid down Neal’s pale face.

Five minutes ago a doctor had informed them that Ellen’s wounds had been too grave and that she was gone.  Neal hadn’t said a word since the doctor had walked away.  He had simply sat there while his face grew paler and tears slowly traversed down the sides of his face.

Peter didn’t know what to say, he didn’t know the words that would help ease his partner’s grief.  He didn’t think that there were any, in truth.  So he scooped a compliant Neal up out of his chair and guided him by the elbow out of the hospital and into the car.

Peter debated taking Neal to Brooklyn, but El would be working late into the night at a wedding on Long Island, so the best place for Neal right now was probably his own apartment.  As he drove Peter kept one eye on the road and the other directed at Neal.  His partner was sitting quietly beside him, staring out the passenger side window.  Peter could still see the occasional tear sliding down Neal’s cheek, sparkling in the late afternoon sunlight coming through the windshield.  Even in grief, Peter was struck by Neal’s beauty.

When they reached June’s, Neal exited the car under his own steam and headed inside without looking back.  But, Peter had no intention of leaving his partner alone to lick his wounds in private, so he following Neal into the house and up the long flights of stairs to Neal’s apartment.

Neal studiously ignored Peter at first.  He stripped off his jacket and tie, laying them neatly on the back of a chair.  Then he chose a bottle from his wine rack, uncorked it and poured himself a generous glass.  Peter watched him carefully, waiting, while trying to maintain a casual demeanor by grabbing himself a beer after removing his own jacket and tie.

Neal’s hand shook as he raised his glass and before he could manage to take a sip he sobbed loudly from deep in his chest.

Peter went to his partner and took the glass gently from Neal’s white-knuckled grasp.  Then he pulled the younger man into his arms, drawing him up tightly against his own chest.  Peter could feel Neal’s heaving breaths as he continued to sob into the juncture between Peter’s neck and shoulder.

After a moment Neal’s arms came up around Peter’s back and Neal clung to him desperately, as if he would shatter without the solid weight of Peter to keep him whole.

Peter still didn’t know what to say, so he simply hung on, rubbing one hand soothingly up and down Neal’s back while Neal poured out his pain and grief through his tears.

Eventually the crying stopped, Neal’s ragged breathing calmed and Neal loosened his grip on Peter.  Peter gently disengaged and guided Neal over to sit on the side of the bed.  Neal sat looking drawn and exhausted, his lips white and his eyelashes wet and clumped with tears.

Peter retreated to Neal’s bathroom to wet a washcloth with cool water and grab a towel.  He knelt down in front of Neal and carefully wiped his eyes and cheeks clean and then dried his face.  Then he brushed Neal’s damp hair away from his forehead.  Neal sat blankly while Peter cared for him, emotionally spent and physically exhausted.

When Kate had been killed, Neal had been dragged away in chains back to prison before the shock had worn off and the grieving process could begin.  This time Neal seemed to have left his shock on the street in front of Ellen’s brownstone.  His grief was palpable.  Peter could feel it in the heat of his every exhaled breath, see it in the pale blue of Neal’s eyes, hear it in the silence that stretched between them.

Peter didn’t know what else to do so he placed a gentle kiss on Neal’s unresponsive lips and then helped Neal out of his dress shirt and slacks.  Neal didn’t resist and he didn’t help, but Peter had some practice in removing clothes from Neal’s body so the task was easy enough and soon Peter had Neal in his tee shirt and boxers lying on the bed under the duvet.

As Peter started to turn away to hang up Neal’s things his partner grabbed his wrist and held tight, the look in his eyes imploring.

Peter knew what Neal was asking, so he kicked off his shoes and climbed over Neal to lay beside him.  Neal immediately turned into Peter so that his face was pressed up against Peter’s neck, his hands fisted in Peter’s shirt.

Peter wrapped his arms around him and used one of his legs to draw Neal’s in between his.

Neal sighed and Peter felt Neal’s hands go lax against his chest.  Neal snuggled a little closer and muscle by muscle Peter could feel Neal slowly relax against him.       

It took awhile, but finally Peter sensed the wheels in Neal’s head stop turning, his breathing even out and then Neal fell asleep tucked safely in Peter’s warm arms.

Once Neal was asleep, Peter let his own body relax.  He knew that tomorrow he and Neal would need to talk about Ellen’s death, and about Neal’s grief and guilt, but for now Peter had been able to give his partner just what he had needed.

a rearranger of the proverbial bookshelf: White Collar - Neal & Peter hugembroiderama on May 13th, 2013 08:35 pm (UTC)
Oh NEAL! This is wrenching, and the lack of dialogue feels just right.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on May 19th, 2013 05:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks E!

It was a really interesting experiment to see if I could write something effecting without any dialogue.
love_82 on May 14th, 2013 06:04 am (UTC)
Oh, this was lovely! And I agree with embroiderama, the lack of dialogue feels just right for this situation. I love Peter just silently comforting. Sometimes that is all you can do. Just be there.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on May 19th, 2013 05:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I'm so glad you thought it worked. It was interesting to try to write without dialogue.
kanarek13kanarek13 on May 17th, 2013 09:03 pm (UTC)
Awww, poor Neal *hugs him* Even though Peter thinks he is not good at providing comfort, he is just perfect.

Lovely fill \o/
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on May 19th, 2013 05:39 pm (UTC)
Peter is just perfect isn't he?!

I'm glad you enjoyed it.
calis_1stcalis_1st on June 18th, 2013 10:00 am (UTC)
How did I miss this? It's so achingly beautiful, and feels so real. Thanks for posting this.
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on June 23rd, 2013 10:36 pm (UTC)
Oh thank you for reading and commenting.

I'm glad you found it!
dramajunkie3066dramajunkie3066 on August 6th, 2013 10:07 pm (UTC)
wow soooo sad but loved the way peter took care of neal
pooh_collectorpooh_collector on August 7th, 2013 04:42 am (UTC)
Oh thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I love your kitten icon.