Sorry I uploaded this twice, I forgot to put the A/N the first time!
Disclaimer: I do not own White Collar!
Read and review, please!
Neal ran his hands through his hair, a hidden effort to keep everything inside of him that was threatening to explode into a frenzy of tears and screaming and anger and so much pain under control. But Peter saw, Peter saw everything that was flashing through the younger man's deep blue eyes. He saw the vengeance, he saw through the "I'm fine" that floated past Neal's lips with ease, he saw the battle that he fought everyday and no matter how hard Neal tried to rebuild the walls that were crumbling around him, Peter would always see through them as if they were nothing. As if the façade that Neal tried so hard to keep up was just a stupid magic trick, something so blatantly obvious that how the hell could anyone not know? But no one did, except for Peter.
And of all things, of all people, why Neal? Even the strongest of bullets had nothing on what the kid was going through. All of the pain and trauma was being hurled at him with such force that he had no clue as to how he was still standing. But he wasn't, not on the inside. Peter could see it. Deep down, Neal was broken, screaming, crying, punching, kicking, and doing absolutely everything that he could possibly do to fight off what was killing him from the inside out. Why him? Why Neal?
All that Peter wanted was to stop the pain, to throw himself in front of the conman and say, "take me instead", "don't hurt him anymore", because you don't kick a man when he's down, but no one else ever thought of that. It just kept going, over and over again like a broken record. The rejection, the explosion, and now Mozzie. Sweet, quote spouting Mozzie. How could Peter rebuild any of the trust that Neal was secretly so afraid to give anymore? Everyone that he loved, that he cared about, was being torn away from him. When would it end? When would the heavens throw him a lifeline? When would they put a stop to the torture? No one ever thought of that.
Neal knew that he would have to end it himself, because no one else would, no one else ever had. But he wasn't strong enough; he couldn't end the suffering, the anger, and all of the pain. So much pain. He couldn't stand up and say, "No more", "I'm done". But no one else would. So on the inside he kept screaming, crying, punching, kicking, and doing absolutely everything that he could possibly do. He wasn't strong enough to let anyone see how much the loss affected him. But Peter did, and Peter always would.
So honestly it was no surprise when Peter did the only thing that he could think of to help, the exact thing that Elizabeth always said when she needed him, "just be there". He wrapped his arms around Neal's far too taut shoulders without a word, feeling the younger man stiffen at the gesture. Neal tried so hard to keep up his façade, he supported his walls with all that he had, and it was no surprise that it wasn't enough. They crumbled around him; leaving rubble that not even the conman could con himself into believing wasn't actually beyond repair. He gripped onto the last thing that he had, and it was really no surprise that it was a fistful of Peter's shirt, holding it as tight as he could. It was his only lifeline, his only hope. That fistful of material was the final piece needed to burst open the floodgates and let all of the pain come flying out in a river of tears as he pressed into Peter's embrace, finally shielding himself from the onslaught of emotion that he had never thought would go away.
He really didn't have to end it himself, because Peter saw through everything, because no one else ever thought of that. Neal knew, deep down inside, that trust wasn't judged by who would get hurt. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day.
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Thank you SO much for reading!
-Edit- thank you to mam711 for catching the typo! If there are any more please let me know, it would be much appreciated.