Just a short one-shot I wrote for a friend who was feeling a bit under the weather herself.
Disclaimer: All things White Collar belong to their creators. No profit is being made from this, and no copyright infringement is intended.
It was cold.
Neal couldn't help the shiver that made its way through his limbs as his surroundings seemed to turn to ice. Curling in on himself, he desperately tried to preserve whatever warmth he could.
The next second, he could have sworn he was in the desert, wearing the necessary clothing for a trek to the North Pole. Sweat beaded on his forehead, and he tried to turn over to get some relief from the intense heat that seemed to be radiating everywhere around him. His limbs felt like lead, however, and he could do nothing but lie there in misery.
It was one of the biggest contradictions he had ever experienced, and he wanted to ignore it until it went away, but it insisted on ignoring him instead. He wasn't even sure what time it was, or how much time had passed since he'd been lying on the floor. At the moment, though, he didn't even care. All he wanted to do was sleep until he could get up and be back to his normal self.
He dimly remembered stumbling into the bathroom at some point during the night – or was it longer? – before, barely able to hold back the contents of his stomach before he reached the toilet. Now, that dreaded, familiar roiling started up again. He had long since emptied his stomach of any content whatsoever, but it didn't seem to care. Dry heaves wracked his body, until he felt as if he would end up inside out.
Finally, the heaving subsided, and Neal lay back against the tiles, exhausted even more than he had felt just a moment before. His body was still alternating between shivering and sweating, and his head was pounding with what felt like a hundred tiny drummers practicing on his skull.
June was gone for a month's vacation, and the house was eerily quiet with no one else around. Even though Neal welcomed the silence and the lack of a current audience, he couldn't help hoping Mozzie would decide to stop in. Neal wasn't one to ask for help, but right now, he knew he couldn't make it anywhere in his condition. He was getting tired of the floor.
Another wave of nausea swept over him, and he closed his eyes against it, trying to fight the inevitable. A moment later, he relaxed limply against the cold floor. He had long since come to the conclusion that something in his dinner the night before had been bad, though it did nothing to make him feel better.
A clatter came from downstairs, and Neal raised his head slightly to listen. It sounded like the door had been forced open. He gritted his teeth, trying to push to a standing position. If someone was breaking into June's house, then Neal needed to get to the phone before the intruders made it upstairs. Peter would help, he knew that, it was just a matter of calling the agent.
He managed to make it to his knees and stretched out a shaking hand to balance against the wall. Then his head begin to swim, and he vaguely felt himself falling again.
The next thing he knew, he was lying on something immensely more comfortable than the bathroom floor. With more effort than he would have liked it to take, Neal managed to crack open his eyes for a look around.
He was lying in his bed, the covers tucked up around him. The room was only dimly lit, and his headache was greatly diminished, though there was still a light pounding going on inside his head.
Had he imagined the night in the bathroom? Neal wasn't quite sure.
Just then, a figure stepped into his line of sight. "Feeling any better?"
It took his illness-muddled brain a moment to catch up, but when it did, he nodded. "A little, thanks. How …"
Elizabeth interrupted him before he could get the question out, pressing something into his hand. "Here, drink this."
Obediently, he took a sip of warm tea before speaking again. "How'd you know to come?" His voice was starting to slur as exhaustion overtook him once again.
"Peter got worried when he couldn't contact you and your signal stayed in one place for so long," she explained, taking the cup from his hand. "He came looking for you, and when I found out you were so terribly under the weather, I had to come look after you."
"You … you didn't have to." Sleep sounded really good right about now.
He didn't catch any more of her answer past 'I did' before he drifted off again. But this time, it wasn't the restless semi-unconsciousness he had managed while on the floor the past day or more. It was the welcoming slumber he needed to recover. Just as he fell completely asleep, he managed to mumble his thanks.
Elizabeth smiled as she finished fussing with his covers and reached for the phone. She had banned Peter and an even-more-worried Mozzie from the room, and she supposed she owed it to them to at least let them know things were looking up.