Summary: *Spoilers for Season 3* Set two years after Neal and Mozzie run with the art. Neal shows up on the Burke's doorstep asking for help, but Peter isn't entirely willing to listen.
Hi everyone! Thanks for showing some kind of interest in this. For anyone reading my other story, I promise I'm still working on it! This was just one of those things that I needed to get down. I don't expect it to be very long. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
It was nearly twelve o'clock on a Wednesday night, and, to their surprise, Peter and Elizabeth Burke were being pulled awake by the sound of a loud banging on their front door. The two immediately exchanged worried glances. They flicked on the lights beside them and sat up. By the time they were fully awake and out of bed in a dazed confusion, their large yellow lab was already at the bedroom door, barking anxiously to investigate. Peter rubbed his tired face with his hand and crossed the room. He turned to his wife and waved a hand at her.
"Stay here," he yawned. "I'll go check it out." Elizabeth seemed more than happy to comply. She nodded and sat back down on their bed. She watched as her husband grabbed his gun from their dresser and followed the restless dog out of the bedroom and down the stairs.
Peter wasn't sure if he should be angry or frightened. No sane person could possibly be knocking at his door this late on a week night. He held his gun tighter in his hand and took another stepped towards the door. The knocking continued. It wasn't just a friendly tap, a polite request for entry into the house. This was desperate, maybe even threatening. The hammering refused to cease until, finally, Peter and the dog reached the front door, and the man swung it open.
It was raining, making it too dark to make out anything more than a silhouette standing on the front porch. The whole house was still dark as well. Peter was of course regretting his decision not to turn the lights on because now he was left standing in his doorway, blinking in vain at the dark figure on his front step.
Satchmo didn't seem the least bit uneasy about the situation, which struck Peter at once. The dog was just about the sweetest, best trained, and most protective animal he had ever met, but, when it came down to it, he was a complete coward. Not at the moment, however. He had rushed forward the moment the door swung open, hurrying to meet the figure. His eyes may have been affected by the darkness, but his nose was telling him that this was no stranger. Peter relaxed slightly.
It was several moments before anything happened. The dog was circling the figure with a wagging tail, but neither the stranger nor Peter made any motion towards the other. Peter wasn't sure if this was some sort of joke or threat or just a friendly neighborhood visit. He was definitely hoping for the latter but each second that went by made it more obvious that that wasn't case. Cautiously, he took a step forward, readying his gun. It made a distinct click as he cocked it. At that, a familiar voice rang out from the dark step.
"Jesus, Peter! Are you trying to kill me?" the voice asked in a surprised but playful tone. Peter was so incredibly shocked that he nearly fell over at the mere sound of the man's voice. He was sure he let out an audible gasp before reaching his arm over to the light switched. It was only a second before the hall and porch light flickered on, revealing both men to the other.
"What are you doing here?" Peter asked, after several minutes of awestruck silence. This wasn't possible. This man could not possibly be standing before him, drenched in the continuous downpour.
"I…" the man began. An innocent smile flashed across his face. "I need your help."
Peter didn't say anything. He allowed the feelings of anger and betrayal to overcome him and simply stood, fuming, in his front hallway, not offering entry to the other man.
"Peter, please," he continued, trying his best to ignore Peter's cold glare. "I know I'm the last person you want to see right now, and you're probably just going to throw me back into prison, but I really just need to talk to you." He lowered his hand to pat the excited dog on the head and reinforced his impeccable smile, trying not to show his trembling in the cold rain.
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't cuff you and put you away for good this very second," Peter finally said. His voice was dripping with hostility. There was no level of relief or excitement to see the man who had disappeared without a trace nearly two years earlier suddenly standing at his front door.
"Because after everything that I've done, to you, to Elizabeth, to June, to the bureau, I'm standing here asking for your help, knowing very well what you could do to me," the man's voice remained calm, sharply in contrast to Peter's.
"What I will do to you," Peter corrected, and he suddenly wished he had grabbed his handcuffs from the dresser as well.
"Look, you can do whatever you want to me, but right now, I really just need you to listen," he was pleading now. Peter couldn't help but feel a little guilty. In all his year of knowing him, he had never heard the man beg before.
"Fine," he agreed with a sharp nod, and, finally, he stepped aside to let the man enter the house. Relief watched over the man's face as he escaped from the rain into the safety of the house. Satchmo followed quickly behind, his tail still wagging. "But I'm bringing you in first thing in the morning. Is that clear?"
"Crystal," the man nodded sharply. He stood in the bright light of the front hallway, finally letting Peter get a good look at him. This wasn't the same man who had slipped away from him two years ago. His hair was much longer and drenched from the rain. Water seemed to be coming off of his shaking body by the gallon. His usual suit and tie attire had been replaced with an oversized sweatshirt and a pair of ripped jeans. Scars, bruises, and cuts covered his body. There was a fresh looking gash across his left cheek. Peter would have taken pity on him under different circumstances.
"You look like hell," he pointed out, maybe sounding a little too amused.
"I've been through hell," the man stated with a tired groan. His eyes fell longingly on the couch just several feet away from them. He wanted nothing more than to go to it, collapse in exhaustion, and slip into complete oblivion. There was more silence. Both had so much to say, but neither knew exactly where to start.
"Peter," the man said at last. He knew this wasn't going to be enough, but it was definitely a start. "I'm sorry."
Peter sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He shook his head in disbelief. "What are you doing here?" his voice was desperate as he repeated the question. This man was just about the last person he wanted to see standing in his living room in the middle of the night. "You know there's nothing I can do. I have to bring you in."
"I know," the man nodded and smiled, as if this was the best news he could possibly hear. There were a few more moments of complete silence where the man simply stood there, hugging his arms around himself in an attempt to cease his shivering.
"Come on," Peter said with a defeated sigh. "I'll throw a pot of coffee on."
The man grinned and followed Peter into the kitchen. They let silence fill the room as Peter busied himself with the coffee, and the man sat patiently at the kitchen table, a beach towel wrapped tightly around his shoulders. It was always difficult to find somewhere to start when so much time had passed between two people. It was a few minutes before Peter finally joined the man at the kitchen table with two mugs in hand. He nudged one over to his guest and looked at him expectantly.
"You wanted to talk," he reminded him, when all he got was a silent stare from his visitor.
"I know," the man buried his face in his hands in complete exhaustion. "It's just easier said than done."
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