Disclaimer: I don't own White Collar, although I would happily kidnap Neal. Just for a day, though. We could to go to an art museum, tour some galleries and have lunch. He'd probably like that. And then I'd return him. I know, I'm lame.
Warning: Fluff-tacular. If you're one of these serious sorts that can't handle the fluff or the warm fuzzies, then you should probably go.
The title comes from the following verse, frequently attributed to Ogden Nash. Nash was a poet/lecturer/author/wit from New York City.
Spring is sprung,
Da grass is rizz.
I wonda wheah
Da boidies iz?
DA GRASS IS RIZZ
Peter Burke came into the living room on Friday evening, ready for a quiet dinner with his wife and dog, and stopped in his tracks at the sight of Neal Caffrey on his couch. His partner's lips were taut around a thermometer and he was wrapped in a few blankets. A quilt had been thrown over his lap. He had his socked feet up on the coffee table, a cup of tea steamed in his sinewy hands, and he looked dazed, as though all of this had just happened to him in the space of a few minutes and he hadn't quite caught up with it.
Peter blinked at Neal. Neal blinked at Peter. Peter turned his head just enough that his voice would carry up the stairs and bellowed, "ELLE?"
The two men continued to stare at each other uncomfortably while Elizabeth padded down the stairs. "Yes?" she answered as she neared the bottom and came over to join them.
Peter pointed at Neal. "I just saw this guy at work three hours ago. He was fine. Explain."
"He's not fine! He came over to talk to you about the case while you were walking Satchmo. I opened the door and, well, he was sneezing. ... And he looked sad," Elizabeth finished with a shrug.
Oh, my God, Peter thought as he stared at his wife. If anything really serious ever happened to Neal, the kid was toast. He could see the headline now: "Ex-Con Found Coddled to Death in FBI Agent's Home."
"Neal, do you have a fever?" Peter asked.
Neal shook his head "no."
"Then take that thing out."
Neal did, and thoughtfully deposited it in the steaming teacup, where it started beeping immediately. He smirked. Peter glared at him and grabbed the cup; he hit the top of the thermometer to turn it off.
"Peter, I need to get a reading," Elizabeth said in a warning tone.
"No, honey, you don't." Then he saw the gathering storm on her face. "I, um, I think you might be overreacting. Just a little bit." Peter used his patented "calming" tone of voice, which was a really bad idea on several levels. Elizabeth narrowed her eyes at Peter and started to advance on him. "Just a ... just a smidge. I think," he repeated, in another ill-advised move. Anyone watching Elizabeth could tell that Peter had no chance here, except of course for Peter. Neal was well-versed in this stuff, however. He got up and scooted away behind Peter so that he was no longer between the two combatants.
"He's sick!" Elizabeth argued.
"He's fine," Peter soothed.
"Really, Peter's right, I'm fine," Neal agreed, and then blew his case to hell. "Ah-PFAW!" He sneezed into the crook of his elbow, vivid blue eyes scrunching shut with the effort.
"You're not helping," Peter growled.
"See?" Elizabeth motioned at Neal. "You see that? He's not well. It's the flu, I'm sure of it."
"Honey, it's spring. Things are blooming. It's hay fever."
"Neal, stop that!"
"I'm not faking this, P-ah-PFAW!"
Peter rolled his eyes. "Fine. You have the plague. Butt. Couch. Now."
"And get in between you two while you're fighting? No way! Ah-PFAW!"
"No!" Neal ducked his hand. "You two go at it and I'm the one that - Ah-PFAW! - that's gonna get hit, I just know it. Forget it."
Elizabeth couldn't help but smile, because they were hardly the sort of people who'd get physical during an argument. Peter was exasperated. "Elle, do something."
So Elizabeth did something. She walked over to Neal, gently pulled him back over and pushed him down onto the couch. "Sit quietly and rest. Dinner's in ten minutes," she said. "After dessert you're getting Nyquil, and then you're going straight to bed, and I don't want any arguments. The guestroom is all ready."
Peter didn't even bother saying, "That's not what I meant." He just threw his hands up and left. It was like talking to a wall, sometimes. Rolling his sleeves, he stalked off for the kitchen so he could wash at the sink before dinner. But when he was almost to the swinging door, he heard Elizabeth finish:
"Whatever this is, we need to nip it in the bud. … Don't give me that look. I mean it, Neal. If you come down with something and can't work, then who's going to look after Peter?"
In case anyone's interested, Neal's fine. It's just hay fever. But you'll be happy to know that Elizabeth's sensible TLC gave him a good night's sleep and he's been staying "Claritin clear" on the job until the air is less pollen-filled. So, all's well that ends well.