Disclaimer: I don't own White Collar, Neal, or any of the other characters (sadly).
Neal was already in surgery by the time Peter got to the hospital. And no matter how much he badgered the nurses, no one could tell him anything new. El did her best to get him to relax, but nothing she said could assuage his worries.
Peter himself had gotten out lucky, or so the doctors said. He had an acute rotator cuff tear (which would have to be kept in a sling for a few weeks), and a three inch cut on the same arm, as well as a myriad of other small scrapes and bruises, but he was otherwise unharmed. He was released with strict orders of bed rest for at least a week. He wasn't all that concerned for himself, though. It had been an hour since they'd arrived, and there was still no news on Neal. He'd even gone so far as to threaten to arrest the nurse if they didn't tell him what was going on, but the only effect that had was nearly causing the new nurse to burst into tears. At some point, Peter, having come down from his adrenaline high of the last few hours, dozed off in an extremely uncomfortable waiting room chair. He had no idea he'd even fallen asleep until El was gently shaking him awake.
"Hun. Wake up. The doctor's here." Peter practically jumped out of the chair. With El holding his good arm as the only sign of her nervousness, he approached the doctor.
"Hello, I'm Doctor Belle, Mr. Caffrey's surgeon." He said, shaking Peter's hand.
"How is he?" Peter asked immediately, skipping the usual formalities.
"Mr. Caffrey's pulled through the surgery. He suffered massive internal bleeding from both the glass penetrating his abdomen and the trauma to his chest. He's suffered three fractured and two broken ribs, as well as a pulmonary contusion, or bruising to the right lung in laymen's terms. We have him on a ventilator just as a precaution, but we should be able to take him off of it in the morning. He also has a moderate concussion and a four inch laceration on his forehead that required stitches. He was in circulatory shock when he arrived at the hospital, but we've pushed fluids. He's just out of surgery and because of the anesthetics probably won't be conscious till sometime tomorrow." He finished. Peter and El were momentarily stunned. "I know it sounds like a lot, but his chances are good. He's young and strong. The next few hours will tell." He said gently.
"Can we see him?" Peter asked promptly.
"Yes, but you should know that it's hard for some people to see loved ones in this state, so you should prepare yourselves. Tammy will show you to his room." He said, motioning to a nurse. "If you need anything, have a nurse page me. I'll be by to check on Mr. Caffrey in a few hours." He assured them before leaving.
Silently the blonde nurse led them down the hall, stopping at a door that looked no different than any other in the mass of white. "The nurse's station is just down the hall if you need anything." She said with a comforting smile.
"Thank you, we will." El answered. As the nurse walked away, El opened the door slowly, peeking in nervously. Dr. Belle hadn't been exaggerating when he said to be prepared when they saw Neal. There was no way to describe what it felt like to see Neal in that bed, seeming somehow even more vulnerable and weak than he had back at the ruins of the FBI building. Despite the doctor's reassurances, it was still hard to believe that all those machines were helping him. There was a horrible jolt in Peter's stomach, and for a second, his head spun. Before he realized what was happening, El had his arm and was guiding him over to the chair.
"I'm fine." He protested.
"No, you're not. You've had a traumatic day and it's catching up with you. Now sit." She said gently, yet forcefully. As much as he hated to admit it, she was right, and he allowed her to lead him to one of the seats near the bed. He sighed, averting his eyes from Neal's prone form and rubbing his tired eyes.
They both sat in silence for a long time. El knew better than to try to say anything to him just then. There would be time to comfort and reassure him, but now wasn't it. At some point he dozed off again. He had a nightmare he was back in the wreck of the FBI building. No matter how hard he searched he couldn't find Neal. He was quite nearly panicking trying to find him. All the while, Neal's voice was getting more and more desperate, and more and more faint, till it was gone all together. The next thing he knew the paramedics were there, leading him out. He tried to fight them, insisting that they needed to find Neal, but they ignored his protests. All of the sudden they were on solid ground again, and a few feet away was a stretcher with a thin sheet laid over it. Somehow he knew, without anyone telling him, that it was Neal. A paramedic stood next to it, ever so slowly pulling the sheet back.
With no warning, there was a loud noise, and he jumped awake. He was disoriented for a minute, still thinking Neal was dead. But there he was, laying in front of him, in bad shape, but very much alive. He looked around for the source of the noise and saw the door opening and Diana cautiously peeking inside.
"Sorry, Boss. I didn't mean to wake you." She apologized.
"It's fine. Is everything okay?" He asked wearily.
"Yeah, everything's under control. I just came to see how you and Neal were doing. I just talked to his doctor." She said quietly, as though talking too loud would wake Neal, which they both knew it wouldn't. "You should go home and get some real rest. You're exhausted." His first instinct was to protest that he didn't need rest, but since he'd been asleep till she walked in, that argument didn't really work. The ache in his neck was begging him to take her up on that offer, but he couldn't leave Neal alone, in a hospital of all places. "The doctor said the drugs he's on will keep him out till at least tomorrow morning. There're plenty of nurses to keep an eye on him till then. The best thing for him is rest, and it wouldn't hurt you to get some too." She said pointedly. Peter sighed, but finally nodded.
"Okay, I'll talk to you tomorrow. Thanks, Diana." He finally agreed, as he stood carefully from his chair. Diana offered him a small smile as he blearily made his way to the door.
It was near ten o'clock the next morning before Peter was able to head back to the hospital. He had slept late, despite having gone to bed relatively early, and when he did wake, El had insisted on cooking him a decent breakfast before he went anywhere. As much as he appreciated (and needed) it, all he wanted was to get back to the hospital.
By the time they got there, someone had already taken Neal off the ventilator, a relief for both of them. He looked marginally better than the day before, but he was still unconscious. They both sat down and got comfortable for what they expected to be a long wait.
It turned out not to be that long at all. Within an hour he began stirring, and his eyes flickered open. Peter nearly jumped out of his seat when he saw Neal awake.
"Hey, you okay?" Peter asked, before realizing that was a bit of a stupid question. Neal, still getting his bearings, moaned slightly in response. El motioned she was going to go get the doctor and quickly exited. Peter watched him anxiously, and though he wasn't quite taking normal breaths, his breathing was much more relaxed than it had been the previous day.
"I hate hospitals." He finally mumbled, and Peter couldn't help but laugh. "How long was I out?"
"About a day." Peter answered.
"Are you okay?" He asked, noticing the sling Peter's arm was in.
"I'm fine. Just a couple scrapes and bruises." He dismissed. "Does it still hurt to breathe?"
"A bit, but it's better than before. How long am I gonna have to stay here?" He asked. Peter rolled his eyes. He'd only just woken up and was already planning his escape.
"That's up to the doctor, but not for a while."
"Well, I could leave AMA."
"And I could put you back in prison if you try." Peter said pointedly. Neal rolled his eyes, but didn't say anything. He understood why Neal would want to be out of there as soon as possible, he was incredibly grateful he hadn't had to stay the night himself, but no matter how much sympathy he had for his situation, there was no way in hell he was even thinking about leaving till the doctor said he could. Peter could still barely get over the fact that Neal was even alive after all that they'd been through in the last forty-eight hours.
"Thanks." Neal said quietly.
"For everything that happened up there. You know, not leaving me behind."
"Don't mention it." Peter said quickly. "And besides, I couldn't exactly leave." He joked.
A mischievous smile grew on his lips. "Peter, I told you: there's always a way out."
AN: And that's it! Hopefully the end doesn't dissapoint (the end is always the hardest part). Again, thank you to everyone who's reviewed, or alerted, or read. I'm so glad you guys enjoyed it. I have a few other stories in the mix, so hopefully I'll be posting a new fic soon! If you want updates on when that'll be, check out my new twitter account! /#!/SwanSong96 It would mean the world to me if you guys would check it out or (especially) follow me. Until then...