"We'd be so less fragile
If we're made from metal
And our hearts from iron
And our minds from steel
And if we built an army
Full of tender bodies
Could we love each other
Would we stop to feel?"
The Pierces, 'Three Wishes'
She kept her resolution until he found her again in New York, having been transferred from one prison to another, even if the current one did offer him a little more legroom.
Later, after she'd returned the music box to Neal, Mozzie told her of Kate's fate. He needn't have bothered; the channels were awash with the chatter and she went underground like the smart girl she'd always been known to be.
She couldn't exactly say she was sorry to see the girl go, only for Neal's sake. Something as base as jealousy would never taint what she felt for him; she loved him like no other, and he had committed his heart to another girl. What he gave her was so profound, so unparalleled, however, that she couldn't bring herself to feel anything but grief for him, that he was suffering as he was.
Months passed, and when they finally crossed-paths, her heart beat that bit quicker, the color rising in her cheeks that bit more, when their talents converged once again. It was almost like old times.
They kept in touch and met up whenever she was passing-through. They meandered their way through the red tape that his handler kept securely round him, and skirted the line between lawful and unlawful; playful falling somewhere in between.
As the years passed, she found herself in New York more and more, specifically confined to a certain two-mile radius. She wasn't exactly complaining, given the company.
It was only when she was there and he wasn't that there were any problems, because of course that meant he'd gone and attracted attention, of the wrong kind. So, of course, she had to save him.
It was a bit like coming full circle; at least, according to Mozzie.
She'd never be rid of him then.
So, of course, she had to mount a rescue mission for him.
Her breath near caught in her throat when she laid eyes on him in that room.
He was chained to a chair in the center of the small space; chains she suspected had long been picked, though they'd obviously taken other precautions to restrain him, the thought and sight of which sickened her.
"God, Neal, nothing's ever straightforward with you is it?" she muttered as she stomped angrily over to him.
His head hung limply against his chest as she went about releasing him from the various improvised forms of bindings.
"Alex?" she heard him rasp into her ear as she knelt before him.
"Yeah, Neal, it's me," she told him, her voice dropping to a softer tone as she took a moment to cup his face in her hands and meet his eyes.
"Knew you couldn't resist me for long," he quipped and quirked his lips up in a bloody smile.
"Come on, let's just concentrate on getting you out of here," she told him, unable to stop herself from rolling her eyes at him or smiling in return. Some things never changed.
When she'd done her part, he carefully lifted his arms, biting his lip to prevent the groan from escaping, and the clatter of metal confirmed her original thoughts. She'd never known Neal to meet a lock he couldn't pick. Well, except his anklet.
He stumbled against her as she lifted his 'good' arm to drape over her shoulder, and she had to stabilize herself with an arm of her own secured tightly around his waist to prevent them from toppling over within the first few steps.
"And don't think I missed you referring to me as the Lord Almighty either," he told her, breath hot on her skin, words coming in short pants. "I mean, I always knew you valued my various talents, Alex, but I had no idea you regarded them as divine."
"You heard that huh?" she asked, half amused by this and half aware that she could use this to her advantage in attempting to keep him conscience and somewhat lucid.
"Yup," he responded, and his body hugged closer to hers as she felt his smile imprinting on her cheek. "And we both know your life wouldn't be half as much fun as it is without me in it."
"Oh, is that what you think?" she retorted, twisted her head and raising an eyebrow at him, even though he didn't meet her eyes.
"Not what I think," he countered. "What I know."
And with that he'd promptly dropped to the ground unconscious and she'd been left to all-but drag him out of the facility and to her meeting point with the FBI. She liked a challenge as much as the next girl, but if he was going to continue to test her like that she wanted some more recognition of her skills.
"I know you love me, you know," he released with a sleepy breath, blinking tiredly, shrinking further into the mound of hospital-provided pillows that were currently propping him up.
"Is that so?" her amused tone played through the air, a small smile on her face.
"Mhmm," he murmured, his lips tweaking upwards. "You've loved me from the moment we met and I tried to sell you that forgery in my dad's pawnshop. It was the big blue eyes and brilliant smile that drew you in, the charm and talent just made it your lucky day."
She released a quiet laugh with his words, while everyone else seemed to be watching the scene with bated breath.
"That's the romantic in you, Caffrey," she chastised teasingly.
His hand reached across to fiddle with his sling and she leaned over to fix it for him. The presence of her fingers over his resulted in a low exhale and his hand slumped back to its original place by his side.
"You think it was love at first sight?" she asked playfully, brushing some loose tendrils across his forehead.
She imagined one of the reasons the others were watching them so closely was due to the fact that they were acting so uncharacteristically not like they did when in the company of said people. It was mildly amusing.
"For you it was," he told her, his hand blindly finding hers on the bed and curling round it, as he sluggishly opened his eyes. "But I've been falling in love with you for years."
His mouth curved into an easy smile, the one that reached his eyes without really trying; the one he kept tucked away for moments like this, moments with her.
He seemed to revel in her reaction: the glance to the side, the slight roll of the eyes, the unintended smile that crept its way along her lips until it was resting high on her cheeks.
He reached up and cupped her cheek in the palm of his hand and she lifted her own to cradle his, their fingers entwining again. She basked in the warmth that radiated between them.
"Always the charmer, weren't you blue-eyes?" she said to him fondly.
"Yeah, but that's just one of the many and varied things you love about me," he told her, positively beaming as he did so.
She pursed her lips together around a smile of her own as she teased, "Hmm, maybe."
"Don't deny it, Alex," he told her, and he was positively beaming. "We all know you love me."
He kissed her then, in full view of everyone. And she didn't protest, in fact, she found herself getting lost in him just like she had that first time he'd captured her lips with his; their tongues battling for dominance as the build up of passion and chemistry threatened to consume them both.
She sighed contentedly against him as they broke apart, and the smile that lifted the corners of his lips high on his cheeks spread contagious over hers.
It had been a long time coming.
"When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew."
I hope you enjoyed it and thank you to everyone who read, reviewed, alerted or favourited – it really does mean so much to me :)