This is a song-fic in written in response to Out of the Box – The season Finale of White Collar. If you have not watched it, do not read it.

White Collar is not mine though I certainly wish Neal was!

Two months is too little…

They let her go…

Peter Burke watched in horror as fire bloomed out from the airplane – instantly killing Kate and whoever else was inside. Neal, who was meant to be on that plane, was knocked down from the shockwave. He watched his friend's face as it dawned on Neal what was happening.

They had no sudden healing
To think that providence
Would take a girl from her lover is appalling…

Peter leapt forward and grabbed Neal around the chest, holding him back as he tried to run into the flames after Kate. He locked his hands around the young man's chest and planted his feet as Neal tried to fight him off. His screams echoed in the air.

Who told us we'd be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares…

He held Neal closely and gently lowered him to the ground when his knees failed him and he almost collapsed to the pavement. He softly but firmly turned the young man around to spare him from looking at the carnage. He removed his coat and placed it around his young friend as the body started to tremble – no doubt from the onset of shock. He kept one arm around Neal, holding him as closely as possible as his other hand dug in his pocket for his cell phone.

We're asking why this happens to us
Who have to die to live, it's unfair…

Neil looked up at Peter, not really seeing him, with no hope in his eyes, no spark that had always defined the young con. He was like a puppet who's strings had been cut, splayed out on the ground without a reason to dance – broken.

Neil's voice broke on the only word that passed his lips.


Like a little child, Neal asked again, "Why?" His lips kept moving as he repeated the mantra to himself, "why, why, why?" in a pattern unbroken until Peter shook him a little and forced him to look at him.

"I don't know."

This is what it means to be held

Peter held on to Neal tightly as the whining sirens in the distance grew closer. He looked down and noticed the perfectly manicured hands which each had a fistful of his shirt. Neal was holding onto him as if, if either one let go, he would fall into some yawning abyss that only Neal could see.

Peter tucked the young head into the crook of his neck and cried the tears that Neal was not yet able to cry.

How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive…

Peter refused to let to let go of Neal's hand as he was loaded into the ambulance. The emergency workers wouldn't stop talking about how lucky Neal was not to be on that plane when it blew.

He had a feeling Neal was feeling anything but lucky.

He felt another pang of sympathy for the young man. He had another phone call to make.

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held

Neal actually looked surprised when everyone he trusted, El, June, Moz and, of course Peter were there for him at the hospital. A tear-stricken El gave him a long hug and a kiss on the cheek, Peter was right beside him – still holding his hand, and Moz, he was there. The fact that Moz fought through his fear of hospitals just to be there for him said the world. June had her hand on his back, just standing there, supporting him.

For a moment, Neal closed his eyes and just let himself be held. Surrounded by friends, he knew it was safe.

Peter squeezed his hand. "You're coming home with us for a little while. No way are we going to let you be alone right now."

Neal felt El nodding against his shoulder and the warm tears soaking through his shirt.

"Thanks guys."

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows…

At first, Neal wasn't pushed too hard. The Burkes seemed happy enough if he ate a few bites each meal and slept a few hours each night. The couple took turns sitting with him when he woke up from screaming nightmares. Then Peter came into Neal's room and found him holding a gun. He looked up at Peter, an insane glint in his eyes.

"I don't like guns, but I hate Fowler! I'm going to kill him."

Peter had to wrestle Neal to the ground to get the gun away from him.

The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow…

It was a slow process, Peter had to work with Neal everyday, providing things for him to throw, forcing him to come to terms with what had happened but slowly – the homicidal urges began to fade away. Neal still wanted Fowler to suffer… in prison, where scum like him belonged. By the time Peter would get off suspension, Neal would be ready.

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive…

Finally, one night, Neal broke again… this time, in order to be healed. He woke up screaming from a nightmare of Kate – almost unrecognizable from the burns, blaming him for what had happened to her and trying to pull him into the flames with her.

Both Peter and El held him close as he shivered him fear and then, for the first time since the explosion, began to cry. They took care of him that night. Neil had never felt more babied or loved as the couple ministered to his hurt soul and poured their love out to him.

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held…

Neil woke up the next morning cocooned between the two people he loved best this side of heaven. Deciding that he couldn't be left alone that night they had treated him like one of the children he hoped they would soon have and bundled him off to their bedroom. He had slept soundly for the first time since Kate died with both of them holding him while he slept.

Neil had never known such love.

If hope is born of suffering…
If this is only the beginning…

For the first time in a long time, Neil felt hope bloom in his heart as he smiled at the new day, a familiar, impish glint shining in his eyes once more. The smile hardened into a cold smirk. Fowler wouldn't know what hit him. The game had only begun.

Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our savior…

Some hours later, Neal, El, Peter and most of the White Collar Unit celebrated Peter getting re-instated. Everyone knew what their first case would be, assigned or no, Taking. Fowler. Down.

Sometime during the celebration, Neil turned to Peter and smiled.

"You saved me, you know. First you saved my life, then you saved my soul. I won't forget it, Peter. I never will. I'd do anything for you and El now."

Peter smiled and draped an arm around the younger man.

"Well, that's good to know. El and I will be needing a babysitter from time to time about six months from now."

This is what it means to be held

There was another explosion that night, one of good will and joyful feelings. This time, it was Neal that held Peter in a strong hug and slapped him on the back with a huge grin on his face before rushing off to sweep El off her feet and spin her around a few times in exuberance.

El grinned up at Neal.

"How does Uncle Neal sound?"

How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive…

Neal and Peter stood arm in arm as Fowler was handcuffed and hauled off to jail. As Fowler passed them Neal leaned forward and spat on him.

"How does it feel to be on the other side of the bars you scum? I hope you have a great time in jail. The inmates always love it when an ex-cop come in to play."

Neal watched in satisfaction as the ex-agent's face turned the color of sour milk.

Peter chuckled. "Satisfying?"

Neal smirked. "I don't think I've ever been more so. He's going away for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, I'm an official agent now."

He smiled and started playing with his shiny new badge.

Peter laughed. "Come on, partner, it's your night to eat dinner with us."

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell…

Neal looked down at the small bundle in his arms in awe. "She's so tiny."

Peter smiled and put his arm around him. "And so perfect."

Both men melted when the tiny baby yawned and stretched out her little fists.

"I'm not gonna have to teach her much at all. All she has to do is move a little and I'm sold." Neal grinned.

"You're right, she is perfect."

We'd be held