Neal hid under the huge duvet in his rooms, head tucked underneath as he ignored the buzzing of his cell. Finally, when he thought he couldn't bare it anymore, he reached out from underneath the warm blanket and felt around for the cell. He pulled it beneath and there was a beeping as he answering.
"This better be good." He muttered tiredly, his voice muffled from the blanket. After a few minutes there was a beep as he hung up the phone and blindly reached out and pushed the phone back onto the nightstand. Soon after was the sound of soft snoring and Neal was back to sleep.
Neal yawned, sitting on the small stone wall outside of June's in the early morning with a small silver thermos in his hands and an overnight bag sitting on the ground beside him. He was dressed in his usual nice Devor style suit, a dark blue number with a light pink button up underneath and a matching blue tie. He perked up when he heard the honk of a car and saw a dark blue sedan pull up. It was Peter.
Neal stood up, brushing off his suit and lifted his bag as he walked over to the car and pulled the back door open. He peered inside to see Peter looking up at him just as sleepily. He handed the thermos over seeing a bright light pop in the agent's eyes as he slipped inside and dropped the bag in the back seat.
Jones peered from the front, his face just as sleepy as the rest of them.
"I'll be your driver for today, gentlemen." Jones' voice was sarcastic, the agent stifling a yawn before Peter handed him a cup of coffee. He smiled.
"Hey Neal, I guess you're ready for this assignment? Hughes only told me late last night and I didn't get a chance to call you till I'd gotten all the details. Sorry for the change in plans." Peter sipped at his coffee, inhaling the aroma and starting to almost look alert. Neal grinned sleepily, stretching ever so slightly as he eased back in the seat.
"I'm ok. It was a bit early to call but I'm looking forward to a case outside the city. Should prove fun. What are the details?" Neal turned his blue eyes to Peter who passed him a folder, holding one of his own and opening his to a specified page. Neal did the same.
"Those bank robberies we've had recently. The owner of the branches is in Philadelphia and requested a meeting with us today. He wants to discuss the details of keeping his other branches safe. He heard about our CI and wanted to meet you. Hughes approved." Peter stifled a yawn, leaning back a bit in the seat as he sipped at the coffee again. Neal read the file curious why the bank owner would want to meet him.
The drive was relatively short, ending at a small airport. Neal peered outside in surprise and then at Peter.
"Yeah, we're flying. The bank owner sent his own personal jet for us. Hughes approved since it saves on some of our expenses." Peter grinned slightly, his eyes looking at the jet. Jones looked a bit envious.
"Wish I was going along. Never been on a leer jet before." He sighed slightly, parking the car near the gate. Peter took off his seat-belt and grabbed his bag, opening the door. Neal did the same, walking around to meet the agent who was leaning on open window of the driver's side door and talking to Jones.
"We're only going to be up there till tomorrow afternoon so I'll call before we head back. Anything I can get you while I'm there." Peter's tone was facetious on the last bit, Jones grinning.
"A Philly cheese steak?" Jones saw Peter roll his eyes and nod as he stood and motioned for Neal to follow. They pulled the gate open and walked out onto the tarmac, the leer jet sitting in the distance humming. Peter didn't pause, continuing to walk. He turned to ask Neal something and stopped when he found the CI missing. He looked back to see Neal still standing near the gate, face pale. Peter wasn't sure what to think, continuing to watch his partner staring blankly at the plane before turning and running back towards the entrance. Peter ran after the younger man, unsure what was going on. He caught up with the con, the young man vomiting in a nearby trashcan. Peter patted him on the back gently, holding him up as best he could.
"Neal... what's the matter? Neal?" Peter waited a moment till Neal had finished retching, collapsing to the ground by the trashcan and looking terrified. Peter crouched beside his friend, trying to get the young man's attention but Neal's eyes stared blankly ahead as if at some horrible memory. Then he realized what was up, putting an arm around Neal and holding him, the young man shaking, trembling ever so slightly.
"I'm sorry. I should have thought about that." He continued to hold his friend till Neal pushed him away and stood up shakily. Neal's eyes were watery, his face blotchy as he wiped it on his sleeve and looked around as if dazed.
"I could see her, Peter. I thought I saw her on that plane. I couldn't get on knowing what happened." He was shaking, his voice barely audible. Peter nodded, putting an arm around the young man and leading him towards the front of the small airport, his cell pulled out in his other hand.
"Jones. No, we didn't get on the plane... something came up. Need you to come pick us up. Thanks."
Peter had Jones dropped them off at his house, Elizabeth surprised when she arrived home a few hours later to find Peter resting on the sofa, the TV on in the background. She nudged him awake, the agent looking up tiredly.
"Hey honey. I meant to call but things happened." He wiped at his eyes and sat up, hugging her as she sat beside him on the sofa.
"So you didn't go to Philadelphia? What's wrong?" She put a hand to his forehead but he smiled slightly and shook his head.
"I'm fine. Neal..." He didn't finish, running a hand through his hair worriedly.
"Neal? What happened to him? He was going with you wasn't he?" She was looking at him with a concerned look, his brown eyes looking slightly upwards. She looked in that direction where the stairs led to their second floor and realized what was going on.
"He's in the guest room? What happened?" She was holding his hand in hers, Peter looking unsure what to say.
"The plane. It looked like the one... well we were supposed to fly up there and he didn't know. I didn't think it was a big issue so I hadn't mentioned it. He had a flashback to that day, running back to the gate and threw up. I had to call Jones back to pick us up. Hughes gave us the rest of the day off but now the client is coming here tomorrow. I don't know if he'll be ready for that meeting. I may have to meet the man alone." Peter looked worried, his manner that of a big brother. El hugged him close and kissed him, her hand gently massaging his neck.
"Poor, Neal. If you want I can stay home tomorrow. I don't have any clients coming in. Most of my work load right now I can do from home." She curled up next to him, her head nestled against his shoulder, Peter hugging her.
"That might not be a bad idea but I don't know what Hughes will say. He wants Neal to be at that meeting and the client asked to specifically meet with him. He said he had heard good things about our CI." Peter kissed his wife on the forehead, standing up with her as he turned off the TV.
"I can make some dinner if you're hungry. When was the last time you ate?" El's glance went up to the stairs, Peter understanding she was including Neal in that query. He shrugged.
"He's been resting since we got back. I haven't heard a peep and then I fell asleep I guess about an hour ago. I kept thinking he'd feel better and we'd go out but he never did come down. Maybe I should go check up on him..." He stretched and yawned slightly, kissing his wife one more time as she disappeared into the kitchen and he walked upstairs.
Peter knocked on the door lightly. He didn't hear a reply, opening the door quietly and peeking inside. He saw the sheets and blankets on the bed strewn aside but no Neal. He looked around but there was no sign of his partner. Peter blinked, curious where the young man had vanished to when someone touched him on the shoulder and he started, turning.
"Looking for something, Peter?" Neal's voice was slightly facetious but still sounded a bit sleepy. Peter shook his head.
"El's home. She's getting ready to make dinner." He smiled as much as he could under the circumstances. He was still worried about the young man's reaction earlier but the old Neal seemed to have returned. He watched Neal nod at him as he moved around the agent and entered the guest room again.
"Sure. Just let me change." Neal was in his silk robe, the young man's hair slightly damp. He must have been taking a shower. Peter nodded, moving outside the room and towards his own bedroom.
"Sounds like a plan. See you downstairs." Peter saw Neal nod with his usual smile planted firmly on his face. He walked down the hall trying to figure out if the young man was truly feeling better or not when he shrugged just glad Neal was acting like himself again. He wasn't going to push him. Peter closed the bedroom door and started to change from his sweats and tee to jeans and a beige polo shirt. He slipped on some white tube socks and tan top-siders before he exited the room and entered the bathroom. He ran the tap and washed his face before combing his hair and heading downstairs. Neal was already there when he arrived, the young man helping El set the table.
"How can I help?" Peter said as he walked over. Neal shrugged.
"Nearly done. Uhm... forgot napkins." Neal started for the kitchen to get those but Peter held up a hand and went instead. He pushed the door open and looked inside to see El pulling a small roast from the oven. She smiled as he entered.
"I forgot napkins. Meant to bring some out but they're on the counter if you want to take them out for me." She smiled sweetly, walking over and whispering.
"He looks ok to me." She squeezed his arm gently before getting back to the food. Peter nodded, walking over to grab the napkins.
Dinner was good. Neal seemed his usual charming self, his humor and appetite strong. There was no sign of his earlier attack and Peter guessed whatever had caused him to react at the airport had passed. Neal helped clean up despite El's insistence he go sit with Peter and drink coffee. Once they were all sitting down, they sat in the den and talked till El gave a little yawn. Neal excused himself a moment, disappearing upstairs as Peter watched curiously. A few minutes later, Neal was downstairs with his bag and jacket, hat firmly on his head.
"Thanks for the dinner, El and thanks for everything Peter. I'm going to go home. See you in the morning for work." Neal sounded so much like himself but Peter detected a hint of tension, the young man trying too hard to act normal. He didn't want to say anything but he could see El's look.
"Neal, you're welcomed to stay the night. You're already here." El stood up and walked over to him, gently squeezing his arm. Neal blushed slightly, his facade breaking ever so slightly. Peter could see the hidden terror still there, Neal's face paling a bit.
"I don't want to... impose." He wouldn't look at El, his eyes averted as he fumbled with the strap of his overnight bag. Peter stood up and walked over to stand beside El, his face smiling as he hugged his wife.
"It would be easier if you're here, Neal. We could leave for that meeting together. What do you say?" Peter kept smiling, Neal finally nodding in defeat.
"I guess if you're going to gang up on me, I have no choice." His tone was joking but Peter detected a hint of discomfort beneath. Neal hid behind his usual charming smile and headed to the kitchen when El offered to make him some tea. Peter took the forgotten overnight bag and went upstairs, depositing it in the guest room again. He noticed the bed had been made and the room back to what it was before Neal had arrived. It was as if he had tried to erase being at the Burke's, or a habit he'd picked up when he as on the run. It told Peter more than he needed to know about his friend's mental state at this moment. Maybe Hughes should postpone that meeting tomorrow if only by one day.
Peter went back downstairs after a moment, Neal and El sitting at the sofa chatting over tea and sounding normal again. Peter smiled at the scene but he wondered how long it would last.