Of Fathers and Flights
Author: Shlee Verde
Summary: Peter is nervous about becoming a father. A turbulent plane ride leads to some reassurance from Neal. Written in honor of Tiffani Thiessen's pregnancy. This story assumes that they will write it into the show; I haven't heard either way if they are or not, so we will call this AU for now. Oneshot friendship fic. Not slash.
A/N: I was on a flight today and it got a little bumpy (nothing this bad though). And this little ficlet popped into my head. Also, not sure if Neal is scared of flying or not so I'm taking a liberty there. Oh, btw, I thought Tim DeKay's eyes were gray (see my last story for that mistake) but realized they're brown when I re-watched the pilot. So that has been corrected here. And speaking of my last story ; thanks so much to everyone who reviewed "The Conman, The Arms Dealer, and The FBI Agent." I will work on responses as I can over the next couple days.
Of Fathers and Flights
Peter Burke paced his office. He and Elizabeth had been married for over ten years, so of course they'd talked about children. But then they had become absorbed in their mutual careers and gradually those conversations had stopped.
Until today, when Elizabeth told him that she was pregnant.
He was happy. He was. He just didn't know the first thing about being a parent.
"Hey!" Neal practically bounded into the office, blue eyes dancing. "Jones told me the good news when he called me in here. Congratulations." The conman proudly set a box on Burke's desk. "Compliments of June and me."
Peter opened the lid of the box. Cigars. Not just cigars, really good looking cigars. Wait a minute.... "Are these Cuban?" he asked suspiciously.
Neal blinked innocently, "Not to my knowledge."
"Great. You brought illegal Cuban cigars straight into the FBI building. No wonder you got arrested. Twice."
Neal flashed a carefree grin, " But they're for you. Think of it as confiscating contraband from a dangerous felon."
"Hmm." Peter acknowledged thoughtfully. He hid the cigars in his desk. Neal's grin widened.
Peter gestured for Neal to leave the room in front of him, "Let's go."
Neal started walking backwards through the bullpen so he could still talk to Peter face-to-face. "Where are we going?"
"Museum in D.C. had a break-in. The government wants its 'best resources' available to work the case and recover the stolen art." Peter was more concerned with making sure Neal didn't walk into anything than briefing him on their case, so he didn't notice Neal's gloating smile.
"They mean me, don't they?" the conman said, knowing it would irk his friend.
"Don't be smug." Peter grabbed Neal's arms and moved him out of the way of the mail cart as it came around the corner. "And watch where you're walking."
Peter noticed Jones coming down the hall and motioned for the other agent to join them. He turned back to Neal, "I have to meet with Hughes before the trip. Alone. Jones will keep an eye on you."
"I don't need a babysitter, you know."
Peter shot Neal a skeptical look as Jones approached. "Jones, Neal is going to help you with the travel arrangements. Make sure he doesn't walk into any rogue mail carts."And with that Peter took off down the hall.
Neal followed Jones to his desk. "So how are we getting to D.C?"
Jones shot Neal a disbelieving look, "They need us there right away. We're flying."
Neal stilled. The smile fell from his face. "Flying?"
"Yeah," Jones glanced at the conman. "That's not going to be a problem, is it?"
"No, no problem." Neal gave a weak grin and Jones went back to his work.
Flying. Neal hadn't flown in years and he had hated it then. Oh well, there must have been some sort of technological advancement to make flying easier for people like him.
How bad could it be?
The small private plane bounced haphazardly through the night sky. The cabin lights flickered ominously but did not go out.
Neal paled as the plane jerked again and gripped his arm rests tightly. Oh god. Oh god. His fingers clenched painfully as the small craft was thrown up and down, then right and left. He felt his stomach flip and forced himself to keep his face blank.
Peter glanced over from the seat next to him, "Everything all right?"
"Peachy." He wasn't going to admit to Peter – or the rest of the FBI team for that matter – that he had a problem with flying. The team would think he was a joke. And Peter would lose what little respect for him that he had. Neal was sure of it. At least they would be landing soon and this hellish experience would be over.
Peter was still staring at him, unconvinced. "Are you sure? You don't look good." He placed the back of his fingers against Neal's forehead to check for a fever.
Neal gave a strained chuckle, "I'm not sick."
The FBI agent's brow creased in concern. "Then what?"
The plane chose that moment to buck violently. Neal squeezed his eyes shut and bit his lip to stop himself from crying out. He leaned his forehead against the empty seat in front of him and tried to focus on not hyperventilating.
He instantly felt a reassuring weight on his back. He turned his head sideways and opening his eyes.
Peter had turned sideways in his seat, giving the illusion of privacy by shielding Neal from the rest of the plane. One hand rested on his back, the other on the back of the seats in front of them, not touching but close enough to do so should the need arise.
The hand on his back started to move in slow, soothing circles. Peter whispered, "Breathe. Just breathe. In and out. You're okay."
Neal instantly felt his body start to relax at the calm in Peter's voice. Peter gave him a gentle smile, "That's it, kid. In and out. We're landing now."
Neal jumped when the plane touched down. Peter gave his knee a brief squeeze, "Hey, we're okay. We're down." Neal gave a shaky nod and rested his face in his hands. Peter moved his hand from his knee, but kept the other, supportive hand on his back.
"Sir?" Jones stood uncertainly in the aisle, having already grabbed the carry-on bags. Lauren stood behind him looking impatient.
"Go claim our luggage and get us a cab to the hotel. We'll be along in a minute." Peter didn't take his eyes off his consultant.
"Yes, sir." Jones immediately trotted off to fulfill the request. Lauren hesitated, acting like she might say something, but when Burke turned and narrowed his eyes at her, she hurriedly left the plane.
Neal gave a self-deprecating laugh, "God, they must think I'm such a spaz."
Peter frowned, "Why would they think that?"
"Look at me, man. This is pathetic."
"No, it's a normal reaction to something that terrifies you. Elizabeth can't stand spiders. For Jones, it's small spaces. For Lauren, it's snakes….
"For you?" Neal challenged, half-expecting the FBI agent not to share his weakness.
"Clowns." Peter admitted with a shudder.
"Really?" Neal couldn't stop the grin spreading across his face.
"Yes, and for you its flying." Peter reminded with a look that stopped Neal's grin and had him listening attentively again. "The point is, we all have something we can't handle. You should have told me, I would have worked out another way of getting here."
"I didn't want to be too much trouble," Neal muttered looking at his hands.
"Oh, you're trouble all right. But not too much." Peter lifted his chin with one finger and met his eyes. "If something's bothering you, you need to tell me. I won't be able to help otherwise."
Neal nodded, "Okay."
Peter clapped him on the shoulder. "Good. Let's get out of here." The FBI agent stood and moved a step back to let Neal out of the row.
"You know, you're going to make a great dad."
The quiet words slipped out before Neal could even think about stopping them. Now that they were out there all Neal could do was look at his hands.
When the silence became too much for him to bear any longer, Neal decided to risk a glance up. Peter was staring at him, stunned. His chocolate brown eyes glistened with suppressed emotion. Neal gave him a shy little smile.
Peter swallowed hard and said gruffly, "Get your stuff."
Neal grinned. He put his hat on with a flourish and stood up. Peter rolled his eyes fondly at the younger man's antics and gave him a gentle shove towards the front of the plane.
A/N: Cute? I'm working on a multi-chapter White Collar fic. Like…5 chapters…maybe? Don't get too excited, I have homework this weekend I need to work on. But hopefully it will be up soonish. And then I have to finish my Royal Pains stuff.