Chapter 10

It was nine o'clock on Saturday night and Sara had already slipped into a deep sleep. It had been an emotionally draining day and she hadn't been able to stay awake for very long after eating the small portion of dinner Neal had coaxed her into having. She was being released from the hospital in the morning and he had promised to be back first thing to pick her up and bring her home. Neal sat watching her sleep and after a while, realizing he was getting tired himself, he kissed her sleeping form gently on the forehead, whispering an 'I love you' and he stepped out of the hospital into the warm summer night.

Despite his tired state, he was feeling restless so he picked up his phone and called Peter, asking if he could pop in for a quick visit. He wanted to know how his partner had gotten on with the two thugs and truth be told, he felt the need to talk to both Peter and Elizabeth about the situation with Sara. He cabbed it over, arriving a little past nine thirty and he let himself in, spotting the Burkes on the couch watching television.

'That was quick' said Peter as he stood to get them both a beer

'Not much traffic' said Neal as he sat in the chair across from the couch

Elizabeth looked over at him fondly. She loved Neal and she was growing very fond of Sara and although she was hoping that they would all be welcoming an Ellis-Caffrey baby in the spring, she knew the decision wasn't hers to make so she braced herself as Neal prepared to fill them both in on what had transpired.

'So, was Mozzie able to find out who this Hastings guy was?' Neal asked as Peter returned and took a seat next to El

'He was. Shawn Hastings and the other guy's name is Gus Landry. We brought them both in this afternoon for a little chat. They were more than happy to implicate Martin – they knew they were going down and they didn't want to go without him'

'So, you'll be able to charge all three of them?' asked Neal, relieved

Peter nodded. 'Funny thing though, no sign of the painting anywhere...'

'Oh, I forgot to tell you – Sterling Bosch received an anonymous call this afternoon. The painting was recovered so Sara will get her commission after all'

'Oh, is that so?' asked Peter, knowing full well how things had really gone down

Neal looked on innocently and nodded, taking a sip of his beer.

'So, how's Sara?' asked Elizabeth, changing the subject

'Good, really glad to be leaving the hospital tomorrow' said Neal with a smile

'You seem pretty happy yourself' said Elizabeth

Neal shrugged. 'I'm looking forward to having her stay with me. She's going to need help over the next few weeks while her arm and her ribs heal'

'And the baby...' El ventured as Peter gave her an annoyed look. Elizabeth was, for lack of a better word, downright nosy at times.

'We had a good talk. I told her how I felt – that I'm ready to commit and that I really want this baby... It's up to her now, I have to give her some space' said Neal, his voice low and serious

Peter looked over at his buddy who was visibly on pins and needles and he empathized with what he was going through. He'd seen Neal evolve over time and recently, it had become obvious that his relationship with Sara had intensified and matured. He believed that the younger man was ready for such a commitment and he knew that he and Elizabeth would always be there to offer support, no matter what.

Elizabeth reached out and touched Neal's hand. 'Well, for what it's worth, I'm rooting for you, Neal. I think Sara's had a rough time trying to figure this out. That sonogram really shook her up; I don't think she was expecting to have all those feelings flare up'

Neal nodded as he listened. 'In the end, I think we kind of met in the middle – it took me a while get past my emotions and to reason things out and I think with Sara, it was the opposite, she needed to have some time to get in touch with her feelings.'

Suddenly, Neal got a faraway look in his eyes. 'I'm hoping she'll find a way to believe in me because I've never been more sure of anything in my life'

Elizabeth gave Neal a reassuring smile and Peter gave him a pat on the shoulder.

'So how about the two of you come over for dinner tomorrow night' suggested Peter

'Honestly,' said Neal 'let's just wait and see how things go. The one thing I haven't figured out yet is how we'll get past this if Sara decides not to go through with the pregnancy. But... I'm hoping that won't be the case'

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Sara lay in bed staring at the full moon outside her hospital window. Neal had been gone a while and after having slept for almost an hour, she was now once again wide awake. She glanced at the sonogram Neal had placed by the bedside and she began to examine it, running her hand lovingly over the abstract image, the moonlight giving it an unexpected glow. Neal had made some compelling arguments; although they were both the products of rough childhoods, in some ways this made them even more sensitive to the needs of a child. She imagined herself holding a baby with Neal nearby and she realized that the feeling she got from that image was soothing and calm not at all the hysteria and panic she had been feeling earlier on in the week.

With Neal by her side, she felt she could take on just about anything and she thought back to the night of June's party. The intimacy and physical closeness had culminated in Neal telling her he loved her for the very first time. She thought back to the look on his face that night and she'd realized at the time that he'd been just as surprised as she'd been at the admission. It was a testament to the evolving state of their relationship; they had grown closer and more trusting of each other over time and the outcome was a closeness and intimacy she had never before dreamed of having with anyone, least of all a man as carefree as Neal Caffrey.

Although the pregnancy had definitely resulted from carelessness on their part, she reasoned as Neal had, that it had come from a most intimate moment between the two of them, a moment when they'd realized that their relationship was so much more than a passing fling. As much as the thought of raising a child was overwhelming, it wasn't nearly as scary when she imagined sharing this adventure with Neal.

She picked up the phone and dialed Neal's number.

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Neal made it back to his place shortly after 11:00; it had definitely helped to talk about things with Elizabeth and Peter. They were solid and he knew that no matter what happened, they would be there to support him and Sara. Although it was unsettling to realize he had no control as to the outcome of the situation, he felt somehow relieved. He'd told Sara exactly how he felt and he had been totally honest, leaving nothing out – there was nothing left to say and there was nothing more he could do. He lay in bed looking through the skylight at the moon shining down and began to breathe deeply, hoping to find sleep. His last thought was of Sara, lying in her hospital bed and he'd begun to slip away when his phone rang, causing him to sit up suddenly.

'Neal, I just wanted to say, I'm in if you are'

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Sunday morning arrived and Neal took one last look around the apartment. Everything was in place for Sara's arrival - food in the fridge, fresh linen on the bed and flowers on the table. He was looking forward to having her home – to having them both home. Now that they knew where they were headed, the future looked bright. It had been a difficult few days but Sara was safe and so was the baby and they were both coming home. He closed the door gently behind him and headed to the hospital to pick her up...

They spent the afternoon getting Sara settled in, Neal heading over to her apartment to collect some things while she napped on the bed at June's. She looked radiant and so much more settled than she had been in a couple of weeks. Now that they were on the same page, they both visibly relaxed and the laughter came easily despite the fact that Sara was still physically very fragile.

When Neal returned with some clothing and personal items for Sara, he found her still asleep and slipped in quietly beside her so as not to wake her. He'd missed sharing his bed with her and he lay there, propped up on his elbow, looking fondly at her as she began to stir.

'What are you looking at?' she asked, laughing

'I'm looking at the two of you' he said, obviously delighted

'Oh, my god! I've got seven and a half months of this to look forward to, don't I?' she said, giggling

'You better get used to it, Mommy' Neal answered, deliriously happy

She reached out to touch his face as he kept his eyes riveted on hers. 'Thanks, Neal – for giving me the space to figure this out for myself'

He nodded as he let out a long sigh. 'Thank you for believing in me. This wasn't an accident Sara; this was meant to be. This is our time, our very own adventure' he said as he placed his hand lovingly on her flat stomach

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Elizabeth was fussing as if she'd never before had people over for dinner. She busied herself with the last minute preparations for the meal, roast pork, Parisian potatoes with broccoli and blueberry cake for desert. Peter was still out walking Satchmo and would be returning any minute and she took the wine out to let it breathe before the guests arrived.

She hadn't seen Sara since the previous morning and although she knew that Neal had picked her up earlier in the day, he hadn't given any indication as to what was going on – if anything. She hoped that Sara had been able to go with her intuition but she realized that she had to keep her nose out of their affairs and support them no matter what – which was easier said than done for someone like Elizabeth Burke. After all, she reminded herself, Neal and Sara were capable adults who were making the best decision for their lives, not hers.

The door opened and Peter entered the kitchen with Satchmo's leash in his hand, the dog following close behind.

'Are they here yet?' he asked

'No, but it shouldn't be long' she responded

She was interrupted by the doorbell and she made her way excitedly to let the young couple in. She opened the door to Neal and Sara standing there holding hands and smiling, Neal holding a gift bag in his other hand.

'Come on in' she said hugging them both. Peter had caught up to her and gave Sara a quick peck on the cheek as she stepped in.

'How are you feeling, Sara? You look great' said Elizabeth as she ushered her in

Except for the obvious bandage on her head – which had shrunk considerably in size since she'd last seen her – and the cast on her arm, Sara was looking her usual well put together self.

'I am so glad to be out of the hospital and back home' Sara answered as she stepped inside

'Here' said Neal, handing over the gift bag to Elizabeth, 'we brought along a contribution'

'Come on in, let's not stand around' said Peter, finally

'I'll get some glasses' said Elizabeth walking into the kitchen

Neal and Sara looked at each other conspiratorially as they took their places at the dining room table and Elizabeth returned with wine glasses, sitting across from them, looking up expectantly.

'Thanks for having us over, guys. We've really appreciated your support these last few days' said Neal as he put his arm around Sara's shoulder

'Yes, thanks for putting up with us and mostly... for listening. We needed to work things out for ourselves' added Sara as she looked from El to Peter

'Well, we just want the best for you guys' said Peter as Elizabeth nodded in agreement

El was having trouble containing herself and she finally took out the bottle of wine Neal had brought - except that as she removed it from the bag, she realized it wasn't a bottle of wine, it was a bottle of sparkling cider.

'Does this mean what I think it means?' asked Elizabeth, getting to her feet

Neal and Sara both nodded, a huge smile on their faces as Peter joined Elizabeth and crossed over to the other side of the table to congratulate the happy couple.

'We are so happy for you guys!' exclaimed Elizabeth as she began to cry

Sara let herself be hugged by her friend, feeling all the tension from the previous week begin to melt away.

'We have something we want to ask you' added Neal as Peter put his arms around him in a bear hug

'We were wondering if you and Peter would be our baby's godparents' said Sara as she looked at her friend

Elizabeth squealed with joy as she hugged Sara once again and Peter nodded emphatically as they both realized the enormity of what they were being asked.

'It would be an honor' said Peter, getting uncharacteristically choked up

All doubt now gone, Neal and Sara relaxed; they weren't quite sure what challenges lay ahead but the one assurance they had was that they would be facing them together.

La fin