Elizabeth sat on the couch holding a now calm Neal close to her. His head rested on her shoulder as he stared off into space. She rubbed a soft hand up and down his arm as she rested her own head in Neal's dark, wavy hair. No words had been spoken since Elizabeth took Neal out of Peter's grasp and helped him to the couch, besides her soothing words she whispered to the con artist.
She looked around the living room decorated with everything from plants to art and a few pictures of the happily married couple that lived there. Satchmo sat curled up at her husband's feet who sat in the adjacent chair in the room. She loved her small family more than anything in the world. She considered herself the luckiest woman in the world, but she couldn't dismiss the small part of her that felt like something was missing. She blinked a few times to rid the thoughts in her head. Now wasn't a time to think of her self, because Neal needed her right now. Neal needed her to be the mother that she was sure he had not had in quite some time.
She made eye contact with her husband before signaling for him to leave. He gave her a shocked look before rolling his eyes with a sigh and going outside with Satchmo right behind him. Elizabeth waited for a few minutes before speaking.
"Neal, you know Peter isn't mad at you right?" She asked him softly, her head still resting in his unusual, unruly hair. She paused, allowing time for Neal to reply but he never did. She raised her head and placed her hand there instead, moving her fingers through his locks. Sighing, she pushed Neal off of her and held him at arms length by his shoulders.
"Neal. Look at me. Look at me Neal." She ordered in a parental tone.
She saw pain, sadness, loss and desperation flash across watery blue eyes and she knew she had struck a nerve. She softened her tone as she held his head in her hands.
"Neal….sweetie…..you of all people should know how Peter is. He sometimes forgets that he has a bedside manner or even just a human instinct. The agent in him just covers it up. He isn't angry at you, honey. He just…he cares about you so much, more than he will ever admit to anyone, even himself and when you passed out we didn't know what was wrong. We were worried sick and then you wake up and assure us you don't need a hospital because you are use to this? You can't blame him for being upset, Neal. I am a little angry myself. What's going on, Neal?" Elizabeth's voice was wavering through emotions as she spoke to Neal. She watched as blue shameful eyes dropped to the floor, but he still made no move to reply. Suddenly Elizabeth had an idea.
"Neal, don't you trust us? Haven't we done enough? Haven't we proved that we care about you?" Elizabeth asked her voice rising with fake anger only she realized wasn't real. She hid the triumphant smile that threatened to spread across her face as Neal's head shot up so he could look at her.
"Elizabeth…of course you have…its just-" Neal replied desperately but the woman cut him off. She felt bad for breaking the younger man even more but it had to be done. She softened her tone.
"Really? Because you don't act like it. We have to pry information out of you just to get you to talk to us."
"I know….I'm sorry…I just-" Neal stumbled for words.
"Neal…..we love you very much. We only want what is best for you. Peter has tried so hard to give this new life to you, to keep you on the right side of the law and out of a prison cell. And I think you will agree that it hasn't been the easiest task Peter has taken on. I've done my best to help him and be a voice of reason for you when Peter gets frustrated and loses sight of what is most important. But he will never give up on you. We will never give up on you, no matter how much trouble you get yourself into. You know why?"
Admiring blue eyes looked quizzical at her as Neal shook his head.
"Because it's impossible." She stated simply.
"What's impossible?" Neal asked.
"It's impossible for us to give up on our family." She replied, smiling motherly as Neal's eyes widened in surprise.
Peter sat out back on the porch.
She made me leave. She is taking his side. Why do they always gang up on me? Peter thought to himself as he rubbed a hand over his tired eyes. He blew out a long breath and stared up at the night sky as a memory came back to him.
Neal sat in front of him in the conman's apartment at June's house at the kitchen table, fingering the missing piece, the key, to the music box that sat on the table, his blue eyes holding a slight hurtful, but understanding look.
"No more secrets, Peter." Neal said with a shake of the head.
"No more secrets." He replied.
Opening his eyes as the memory faded he thought, What happened to no more secrets?
His thoughts went back to the recent events at dinner. Now that he thought about it he knew he had overreacted when Neal almost told them that this had happened before, but he was so worried when Neal blacked out that the thought of this happening before and not knowing about it scared Peter to death. In the back of his mind, he saw Neal flinch at his outburst and he felt his heart shatter.
Leave it to me to make him feel worse.
Peter's mind was being tormented with guilt. All he wanted was for Neal to be okay, to be the man that deep down was a little kid, a little kid with a cheeky grin, bright blue eyes and a big heart. He wanted the little kid that drove him crazy with antics, kept him awake most of the night with worry, and the little kid that admired and respected him and looked up to him, the one he would look after and protect. Knowing he wasn't going to get that sitting outside, he stood and made his way back into the living room before that little kid was gone forever and the shell of a broken man was the only thing left.
AN: I know there isn't a clear answer to what is wrong with Neal yet(I'll remind you it is in no way serious...or I'll just tell you it is stress/anxiety/panic related to the events of point blank haha) ...but the next chapter will be the last chapter...so everything will be wrapped up in the next chapter. This was just a story to get myself back into the flow of writing and in no way did I think this many people would like this...So I thank you for reading and being so kind! and I apologize if you are disappointed with the outcome of this story! Anyway, as always thanks for reading and review! :)