Hey again, guys! Finally updating this again.. I know it's been so long. To be honest, I was severely lacking inspiration and I felt like the way it ended before was better than what I was coming up with so I was like why add to something that's better as is? But people were asking for an update and I started thinking that there was definitely more that could be told and suddenly I started getting ideas again so hopefully this lives up to your expectations! There might be more after this if people want it to go on and enough inspiration strikes! But for now, on with the story. Hope you enjoy, awesome peoples. :D


It turns out that El wasn't kidding about telling Satch the good news. For moments later, in she came, now fully awake pup in tow.

The Labrador actually seemed oddly elated by the news of having a 'brother,' as El put it, glancing up at the roomful of smiling faces before taking the opportunity to ungracefully plop down on Peter's lap, wagging his tail in delight.

"Satch, no." Peter admonished, maneuvering the enthusiastic tail out of his personal space. "Go bother your brother." Peter grinned dramatically at that, lifting an eyebrow in a similarly grinning Neal's general direction.

"Not you too." Neal rolled his eyes at El's terminology now that she was safely out of the room.

He knew that Peter was just trying to push his buttons, if his guffaw when El first said it was anything to go by.

"What's the problem? You two are practically the same species."

"That is true. Satch can be very human-like sometimes. Domesticated, clean, very well-mannered.."

Neal's musings were cut off by a tail hitting him in the back of his head. Clearly the work of the sly, if not slightly immature, agent beside him.

"Not what I meant." Peter placed the dog and it's havoc-reeking tail on the floor, in favor of picking up the remote.

Neal didn't waste any time before easily lifting the remote from the agent's loose grip and pointing it at the TV. He shot Peter a quick smirk before aiming it at the device, and to Peter's surprise, turning it off.

"Wow, so you finally found a better alternative to those mind-numbing art shows you love so much?" Peter motioned to the black screen in front of him. "A definite improvement if you ask me."

He was smiling as he spoke, and to his surprise, so was Neal. Replaced by his usually over-dramatic pouting or rant about the agent's utter tastelessness was a small grin and a look on his face that Peter couldn't quite decipher.

He'd only seen said look once before; when Neal was telling him the story of how he got his cherished childhood easel. Back in the place that could hardly be called a home with the poor excuse for a father that he'd never have to be near, let alone live with, again.

With his mind on that horrid excuse of a man once again, Peter felt his nerves fray slightly and was more than ready to get up and give his team a call. He had a pressing need to make sure that everything went okay with the shipping off of Bruce to his new, glamorous life behind bars.

But he was stopped in his tracks by Neal. By the kid who was afraid to love and terrified of never being loved. The kid who quite paradoxically, had the biggest heart. The same kid who shifted closer and pulled Peter into a tight hug, smiling as Peter instantly reciprocated.

Peter couldn't help but feel oddly touched by the small gesture. Finally, his family was whole. And a niggling voice in the back of his head told him that if Neal had turned down their offer, it never would have been. Whether they went on to adopt a different child or not.

"You're not off the hook for that art show comment, by the way." Neal muttered. "Only philistines can't appreciate our country's rich cultural and artistic advancements."

Peter had to chuckle at that. Apparently, he hadn't avoided the usual berating of his tastelessness.

"Yeah? And how many Philistines do you know, kid?"

Neal pulled away then, eyebrow raised slyly, with a grin that seemed to be permanently glued to his face. "Only you, Peter."

Peter couldn't help the dramatic eye roll he sent Neal's way as he moved to snatch up the remote yet again.

"Guest's choice?" Neal quipped, if only for old time's sake, holding out his hand expectantly to a now sufficiently irked agent beside him.

"Here." To Neal's surprise Peter actually dropped the coveted object in his outstretched hand.

"You're stuck with us now, kid. I guarantee you'll know every Yankees player and their batting average by the end of the week. Think of this as a consolation prize."

Neal could only scoff at the agent before turning the TV on and switching to the discovery channel. A documentary on the Andean Flamingos was on and Neal couldn't get enough of their vivid colors, regarding them with the same admiration as any hand-crafted work of art.

"Definitely not watching this."

Peter rose from the couch, brow furrowed at the gangly creatures displayed on the screen as he took his cell out of his pocket. "Besides, I have something much more entertaining to do."

Neal cocked his head inquiringly at the agent's ambiguous tone.

"Just need to check up on Iowa State Penitentiary's newest inmate," Peter supplied. "You know, see if his seven-square-foot cell in max is treating him well."

"I'm all for that."

Peter only nodded his agreement, not missing miss the way Neal had winced slightly at the mention of good ol' Bruce.

Neal turned back to the program as Peter walked away, debating whether or not he should be attempting to eavesdrop on this particular conversation.

Settling back into the couch and chuckling at one of the flamingo's particularly inelegant saunters, Neal decided that, at this point, that man's life was of no consequence to him anymore.

He didn't have to worry about his father any longer. As long as Bruce was far away from Neal and the people that he cared about, he was of no concern to him anymore.

He could finally enjoy a night at home without having to be scared and fearful of some inevitable, impending doom.

At home, his mind helpfully reiterated. Well, that was a new, certainly interesting, concept. One that finally held true for him.

After fifteen years, Neal finally had a home of his own and he knew that if he wasn't living here on DeKalb Ave with Peter, El and Satch, he never would've truly had one. Whether some other family had adopted him somewhere down the line or not.


"Well, the verdict's in." Peter did a small drum roll on the coffee table while El shooed his hands away to make room for the chocolate chip cookies and glasses of milk she and Neal were lying across it.

"Sir Bruce Caffrey, whom I still hold to be mentally ill in my book, is apparently far from it, psychiatrically speaking, according to the forensic evaluation test results."

"Hun, that's great news." El cheered from her place next to Neal who had just plopped down what he was holding in any arbitrary spot on the table. He much preferred high-fiving an almost humorously elated El who was lifting her hand expectantly in his direction.

Neal chuckled at her exuberance and returned the gesture feeling far more relieved than anything else.

He had been no less than terrified to find out these test results. The idea of his father being truly mentally ill for all of those years sent a perilous chill up his spine even now.

He flopped down on the couch next to Peter who squeezed his shoulder reassuringly. "Just like we thought. The insanity plea was nothing more than a useless attempt to buy himself some time and get easy access to drugs. Long story short, the judge had a real field day with his sentencing."

"With a rap sheet like that.." El picked up a cookie and sat down on the floor to pet Satch who was valiantly trying to reach the plate of desserts to no avail.

"Exactly. You name it, it's on there. He's staring at life, in max, over a thousand miles from here." He stared at Neal then, lifting up his glass to clink it against his. "I'd say it's a night to celebrate."

Neal nodded emphatically, feeling relieved beyond measure.

"I'm sure the bureau is doing the same." El grinned widely, evident pride etched on her face. "This is a big win for you guys."

"You bet they are. I spoke to Bancroft earlier. The whole team's going out to celebrate."

"What, Peter? You should go with them." Neal finally piped in, looking over at the agent who had nothing but contentment and genuine happiness written across his features. "You practically won them this case."

"Except, I don't want to be there, Neal." Peter swung an arm over Neal's shoulder and took another cookie from the table in front of him. "I want to be here. Celebrating with my family." He paused to make a show of surveying the occupants of the room. "My wife and my two dogs."

El took this opportunity to throw part of her cookie at the grinning agent, but her similarly delighted expression displayed no real trace of irritation.

Neal decided to take this moment to pick up the piece of fallen cookie off of the ground before Satch could get to it. But mainly, he was just looking for an excuse to avoid eye contact with the agent. With the man next to him who had just called him family and truly meant it.

When he did look up, he saw a glisten to El's eyes that certainly wasn't there moments earlier. And as much as it pained him to admit it, there was no denying how similar his own features must have looked in this instance. Perhaps his pride was well and truly damned now. Yet, he just couldn't find it in him to care.


So they're one big, happy family now. Woo! lol. Hope you guys liked this. Let me know what you think and I'll try to get El to bake you some cookies! (I totally know El. I swear. She's on my speed dial and everything.)