This is the only time that the walls come down.

At least - some of them.

Sometimes, Peter wishes Neal would open his eyes when they're together like this - would let him see beneath the surface, let him see what lies beyond his ever-present mask - but even now, there's a certain intimacy, a certain vulnerability that Neal can't quite bring himself to allow.

But there are moments - rare and awful and not easily forgotten in the light of morning - when a rough grasp of his wrist pinning it down against the mattress, fingers tangled too tight in his hair, the sudden realization that he couldn't overpower Peter if he needed to - something causes a shuddering breath, a tense tremor of fear, and an old, awful fear in those sharp, crystal blue eyes - and Peter knows that he's remembering things he'd never confess to having experienced.

It never lasts more than an instant, and it's always replaced with a brilliant smile and an easy laugh, and Neal's demand for them to keep going, don't stop, give him what he needs; but Peter isn't sure in those moments what that is anymore - and he has to pretend not to know the secrets that Neal's keeping, just a little too close to the surface these days.

Sometimes, Peter wishes Neal was just a little bit better at keeping his mask in place.