Neal Caffrey laid curled up on his side on the couch in the living room of the Burke residence. His slender fingers clutched the thick blanket that laid over the top of him as his body shivered slightly. His whole body ached and his stomach twisted every few seconds. His head throbbed violently, only to help his stomach's plan to make him vomit yet again. He was miserable.
Neal loves Peter and Elizabeth's couch. Sure, it is soft and warm, but that isn't the real reason he finds comfort in it. No, the Burke's couch makes him feel safe and secure. Every time he lays on their couch, small, gentle fingers run through his hair in a soothing motion. Calloused hands pat his shoulders and back in an awkward, yet comforting attempt. A golden, furry body comes and lays beside him in the floor and licks his hands or face when he sleeps for too long. He can never remember how he ends up in his favorite place in the world, but perhaps that is another reason he likes it so much. Neal loves a good mystery.
Neal stared lazily ahead into the dinning room. His hazy vision caught sight of Elizabeth and Peter eating quietly at the dinner table finishing a late supper. He could hear faint whispers and then saw the couple share a smile. Neal couldn't help the grin that made its way on to his own face. If his two favorite people, past Kate, were happy, he could be too. He felt his left arm underneath his body start going numb from laying on it so long. He began to turn onto his back and felt his stomach turn. He couldn't mute the groan that escaped his mouth. It didn't take long for those familiar fingers and hands to reach him. He kept his eyes shut tightly since he didn't need his sight to know who was there and both faces would be looking down at him in concern.
"Maybe we should take him upstairs to the guest bedroom?"
Neal hears Elizabeth say, and the way she says guest as if theirs no point in saying it when they all know it is pretty much Neal's, does not go undetected by the FBI Agent or his consultant. There's a pause, then a calloused hand is on Neal's aching stomach and his shoulder.
"Come on, Buddy. I can carry you to the couch but I'll never make it up those stairs carrying you."
Suddenly, the mystery is solved for Neal. He now knows how he ends up here in his favorite place in the world. At first, he is afraid he won't find comfort in it without that mystery, but that calloused hand is still on his upset belly, patting it lightly. If any other hand was doing so, the consultant would be angry, but he finds comfort in this one. This was his protector, who meant no harm. Neal, still loves their couch.
"Neal? Come on, bud." Peter coaxes.
"N-no...I wan` stay...here." Neal replies pathetically or at least he thinks so, but even though his eyes are still tightly closed he knows that Elizabeth's eyes just softened even more and her bottom lip quivered slightly. He knows Peter looks at up at her since he is crouched down next to him with questioning, yet concerned eyes. But the next part is what he is always unsure of. This part is always different. He finds another mystery to their couch he loves so much.
He opens his blue fever glazed eyes, and attempts to look his two favorite people, past Kate, in the eyes. He knows these are the best puppy dog eyes he can muster because this is what he wants the most. To feel safe and secure, on their couch. He knows he will always win. They always give in, when it comes down to this. He never knows how, but he knows they will. This is the mystery.
This time he hears two sighs, one from Peter and one from Elizabeth. Another pat on his belly from that calloused hand that is always there for him, protecting him and then both are underneath his arms raising him up slightly. Once he is raised he feels those hands leaving his armpits and are now on his back as the couch where his head just laid moments ago dips with a new weight. He hears footsteps leaving as hands are now pulling gently at his shoulders for him to lay back down. His head falls on something foreign. He moves his head slightly to the side until the right side of his face is touching something. He opens his eyes once more, not remembering when he closed them, and sees Peter looking down at him. He now realizes that his head is on a small pillow in Peter's lap. He knows how awkward this is for the both of them. He knows this would never, ever happen if he wasn't feeling this sick. He knows how neither of them will ever admit to this once his fever has broke and he is healthy once again. The logical part of his brain wants him to move away and out of Peter's grasp. But his fever prevents him from thinking logically and Neal closes his eyes once more and buries his head into Peter's stomach and strong, calloused hands return, one on his head, the other on his back. Neal hears light footsteps again and another blanket is placed on top of him and those thin fingers are playing in his hair that isn't covered by Peter's hand. He begins to relax, knowing nothing in the world can harm him, not when Peter is there and Elizabeth too. But something isn't right. Not yet. Then he hears it, the jingle of Satchmo's collar as he trots into the living room. Satchmo blows air out of his nose as he plops down beside where Elizabeth is sitting on the floor beside the couch.
Neal loves Peter and Elizabeth's couch. It makes him feel safe and secure. It isn't the couch itself. It's what comes with the couch. Sure, he hates being sick, but he loves being cared for. He loves Satchmo. He loves Elizabeth. Though he will never say it out loud, he loves Peter. He now knows the mystery as to how he ends up in his favorite place on earth. He isn't surprised to find out it's Peter who gets him there. After all it is Peter who got him out of his least favorite place, it is Peter who gives him a reason to do things on the right side of the law, and it is Peter who protects him day in and day out.
Neal's stomach lurches once more and he groans as his clammy hand searches for something to hold on too. He finds the material of Peter's shirt and holds onto it as nausea hits and he does his best to keep it at bay.
"It's okay, honey. We're here. We are right here. We aren't going anywhere. You're going to be okay." Elizabeth whispers softly too him.
Neal feels the calloused hands on his back and his head pat him gently and the slim fingers play with his hair some more. Satchmo's collar rings as he rolls over on the floor. They are all sitting on this couch or by it. But in this moment as Neal takes it all in, he realizes they aren't by this couch for the couch itself. They are there because Neal is on this couch and now he understands why he loves this couch so much.
Peter and Elizabeth's couch has now becomes his couch as well. Neal can't help but smile as he realizes the next time he refers to this couch he will say our couch instead of their couch. Now he is safe and secure.
AN: Just an idea that's been rolling around in my head. Let me know what you think!
Oh, and I am working on The Only Thing That Can Save Him... I'll have it posted as soon as I can! Sorry it is taking so long.