I'm extremely sorry it has been so long! I hope you all enjoy this chapter.
Had I known it would end like this, I wonder what I would have done different. I wonder if I would have done the same things. Said the same things. I wonder if it would have felt different knowing what would come of all of this.
There are moments in life when you have absolutely nothing to do. Boredom has a way of creeping up fast in all types of situations. Whether you're alone or in a crowd, boredom has the ability to find you and make you squirm. Peter had been sitting in the car for two hours now and if someone asked him he would be able to tell you the exact number of minutes that had passed by along with the seconds. If another hour passed by, he'd probably feel like he could tell the milliseconds, too. Elizabeth had to stop by a client's home for a meeting about an upcoming event on their way out to the city to enjoy the last night they had knowing Neal would be a three year old boy. After promising she wouldn't be long, two hours ago, she had exited the car and walked inside, leaving Peter alone in the car with Neal.
Usually, when Neal was an adult and Peter found himself stuck in the surveillance van or the car on late night stakeouts with the younger man, the agent found himself desperately pleading for the feeling of boredom to find him. He had learned that if Neal was bored, no one else was. Neal's boredom consumed him quickly and reverberated into annoying fidgeting and nonstop talking that left everyone in close capacity feeling drained within five minutes.
Now, however, was an unusual situation. Not just because Neal was now all of three years old, but because after sitting in the car for two hours, the little boy had yet to fidget or even speak a word unless Peter had directly asked him a question.
Peter stole a sideways glance at the toddler who sat beside him in the passenger side of the car, his short legs barely making it over the edge of the seat. He was sitting there looking out the window, biting his lip as he did so, without saying a word.
Peter sighed audibly for what felt like the hundredth time which was actually the eleventh time but who was counting? His obvious show of boredom had no affect on the boy and he chuckled. This caused the boy to turn his head to stare at the agent so that Peter would know he was asking what he was laughing about without actually having to ask.
Peter shook his head. "Why're you so quiet?"
Neal shrugged his shoulders and stared at him a moment longer before turning his head to look out the window again.
"Well, I'm so bored I actually think watching paint dry would be exciting. You don't have some paint and a canvas, do you, Picasso?"
Neal turned back around to look at him. He shook his head.
"No?" Peter asked, pretending to be surprised and disappointed at the same time. "Gosh, and to think I was going to let you paint a forgery this time and let you get away with it. Talk about missing an opportunity."
The older man watched the kid carefully and noticed a small current of light flash in the blue orbs staring up at him. "I guess I'll have to get Mozzie to paint me a Rembrandt. He's good at painting, right?"
Neal bit his lip, his eyes shining a little brighter. "He is, isn't he? I bet he's an amazing painter." Peter asked, detecting the laughter welling up inside Neal's belly. A few seconds later, the giggle split the boy's face into a cheeky grin.
Peter smiled back at him, then formed a shocked expression with his face. "Why are you laughing? Mozzie isn't a good painter?"
Neal's smiled widened before he shook his head vigorously. "Uh- uh. He's good at...all sowts of things, just...not that."
Neal nodded. "Yeah. He can dwaw. It's just paint has something against him, I think."
"So I'm not the only one." Peter chuckled, before looking at Neal with a calmer stare. "It's good to know you didn't forget how to talk. I was beginning to think you were going to take up the art of miming."
Neal let out a small giggle, but looked out the window again. "Sowwy."
"Yeah, I thought I'd actually enjoy a quiet Neal Caffrey, but I think I've been subjected to the borderline ADHD Caffrey so much that I'm actually fearful of a calm one."
"I don't have ADHD." Neal glared at him, but bit his lip to keep from smiling.
"That's why I said borderline." Peter chuckled as Neal couldn't help but smile. "See, even you know it. Now, what's really going on?"
"You put Adderall in my ceweal this mowning?" Neal tried to dismiss.
"No. Now what has you so quiet?" Peter asked again, even though he knew Neal had every right to be scared about the upcoming hours.
Neal stared at Peter, not wanting to voice his fear out loud. Luckily, he didn't have to because Elizabeth knocked on the window.
Elizabeth and Peter sat the dining room table that night after they got back from their 'date night' with Neal. They had let Neal choose anything he wanted to do and had prepared themselves to go see the polar bears at the zoo and go to an art museum but instead, they were surprised that the little boy wanted to spend the entire afternoon at the park. As they sat on the park bench, they marveled at how much Neal enjoyed the park. At first, it was practically like pulling his teeth to get him to go and play like a normal kid, but as they watched him that night it felt like the most natural thing in the world. Neal crawled through the tubes and dove down the slides like any other three year old would, before running back over to them and pulling on both of their hands to get them to chase him. They complied and the three of them played until the sun sank down behind the buildings of New York casting a blanket of darkness across the park that urged them to lay down in the grass with Neal in between them and marvel at the stars that Neal was no longer afraid to look at.
They both heard Neal shift in his sleep from where he laid on the couch and held their breath. Although, they didn't expect him to change until the morning, every little movement the boy gave had their throats constricting.
"Is this right?" Peter whispered once Neal settled back down.
"Is what right?" Elizabeth questioned.
"We should be happy right? Things are going back to normal. Neal will be happy. This whole thing, he's been pretty scared. I think he will feel a lot better once he's back to normal, you know?"
"Oh." Elizabeth replied as she stared at the boy. "Yeah, things will be...normal. This is a good thing." Her tone sounded as if she was trying to convince herself.
"But what if he doesn't change back? What happens then?"
Peter woke up from where he had fallen asleep with his head on the dining room table as he had watch Neal sleep. He noticed Elizabeth on the opposite side of the table asleep with he arms folded under her head. Sunlight spilled through the windows, making Peter squint until he realized the excessive light meant that today was the day. He quickly turned his head towards the couch, uneasy at what he might find, but it was empty. No child. No man. No Neal. He got up and glanced around the house before calling out for him. "Neal?"
No answer. Peter swallowed thickly. Would a higher pitched voice answer? Would Neal's normal lower voice answer? Would there be an answer? Peter started to get worried when he couldn't find Neal anywhere.
"Neal?" He called again, a bit louder. He turned to look in the kitchen and jumped back. Neal stood there, all six feet of him, in the same suit Peter had seen him in the last time he saw him as an adult.
"Neal." Peter's voice was just above a ghost whisper.
Neal stared at him with blue eyes that looked much like the ocean in the middle of a hurricane. "Peter," The agent could feel his muscles tense as Neal said his name with a perfect 'R' sound at the end. "I'm so confused."
Peter felt his eyes lock on Neal's at the odd statement and before he had time to reply, he felt his body jerk and found himself sitting back at the dining room table with Elizabeth who slept with her arms folded under her head. The sunlight spilled through the windows, but Peter already knew it was the morning of truth. He turned his head to look at the couch where Neal slept.
One year later
Neal sat the Burke's dining room table and opened the book that Peter had put in front of him. He glanced down at the first page a little shocked to find a picture of himself as a three year old boy laughing as Satchmo licked the side of his face. He looked over at Peter warily, unsure if he should go on, until Peter nodded his head.
Below the picture was a wrinkled piece of notebook paper that looked like it had been folded and unfolded hundreds of times, before being placed inside the book.
"Go on." Peter insisted. "Read it."
Neal nodded and began reading the letter silently to himself.
Had I known it would end like this, I wonder what I would have done different. I wonder if I would have done the same things. Said the same things. I wonder if it would have felt different knowing what would come of all of this. Time itself is a never ending thing, yet no one ever has it forever. At first, it seemed like the month would drag by. I couldn't imagine myself being responsible for a three year old little boy. Being responsible for the adult Neal Caffrey was hard enough, but when you stood there looking up at me for the first time after you ran across the street from Satchmo begging me to protect you, its the only thing I wanted to do. You were so small, and scared. I remember thinking how odd it felt being able to read your honest expression instead of looking at the brave facade your friends and family now are able to see right through. The point is, I'm writing this letter because I want things from now on to be normal, for all of us. I want to look back to that time and remember it for the joyful time that it was, no matter how scared or confused we all were. I want us to look back at the memory and remember it as one of the many moments that has brought us closer together as a family. As time goes on, I hope the pages in this book will remind you of that and remind you of this normal family we have now.
As I said before, I wonder how things would've turned out had I known what would happen at the end of that month. I ask myself if I would have treated you the same way, done the same things, said the same things. Lord knows I made plenty of mistakes. Now when I look back to that time, all I can think about it your big, blue eyes looking up at me with so much light that the ocean becomes nothing more than puddle in comparison. I can still hear your giggles and your small feet padding through the house while Satchmo chased you. I can still see your smile whenever something made you laugh. I think that's the one thing I remember the most, because it was the first time I ever felt that it was the most genuine, purest of smiles that ever appeared on your face and maybe even mine.
So now that it's all said and done, I know that it wouldn't have mattered the slightest if I had known the outcome, because every laugh, every smile, every cry, every tear, every sleepless night, every off-key note I sang was worth it.
If you're reading this, you either snooped through the house or you've reached the big age of four. I hope it's the second one. If it's not, you know I'll know.
Neal glanced up at Peter who sat beside him at the table and smiled knowingly. Peter smiled back and ruffled his hair. Neal went back to reading.
Anyway kiddo, I have enjoyed every moment with you, even the not so great ones because that means you're still my little boy. You're still my son. Mommy and I, love you very much.
Happy Birthday, Neal.
Neal stared at the book for a moment longer, before he turned to stare up at Peter, who now had become his father after never changing back. For a moment they stared at each other, before Neal climbed out of his chair and onto Peter's lap to give him a hug.
Peter felt Neal's small arms around his neck and just laid his head in the small boy's curls as he hugged him back.
"Thanks." Neal whispered, hugging the man tighter. Peter patted his back. "You're welcome, buddy. Now, come on. Mom is waiting with your birthday cake. You don't want Uncle Mozzie to test it for radioactive chemicals before you get to put your face in it, do you?"
Neal laughed and jumped off Peter's lap. He took his hand and they made their way to the kitchen, where Elizabeth, Mozzie, June, Jones and Diana were all waiting, but Neal stopped halfway and looked up at Peter.
"What is it?" Peter asked. Neal smiled up at him and squeezed his hand tighter around Peter's.
"I love you, too, Daddy."
Thank you to every single person that read this story, reviewed or added this story to an alert list! Thanks you so much! I love each and every one of you! And because I love you so so so much! Look for a new story on here, most likely called The Book...because I believe it will be filled with little snippets of Little Neal and the family. It will follow the book that Peter started for Neal at the end of this and kinda be the snippets as they add to it! Are you interested? Let me know and let me know what you thought of the last chapter! Thanks again to each and every one of you! :D :D :D