The Whistler's whistle.

Summary: "The world was made up of nothing but images for Neal at that moment. No sound. No words. No nothing." A freak explosion rips away Neal's hearing, leaving him deaf and the thought of living in a silent world terrifies him more than anything else. Worried! Peter. Minor Neal-bashing.

A/N: There are builders in my house so I'm stuck in my bed room, alone and hungry, so this is what I made of a bad (but not too bad) slightly cabin-feverish situation! I hope you enjoy, but be warned, I'm not the most regular updater. Sometimes you get two chapters in three days, others, you may have to wait a week. Sorry if it's OCC or unrealistic, I've only just discovered this fandom and am still falling in love with Neal Caffrey (I mean, come on, who isn't?)

Warning: Swearing in later chapters (maybe).

Disclaimer: I don't own White Collar or its darling characters. Oh, how I wish I did…..

"Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment. " ~Henry David Thoreau

The world was different when it was silent. It looked different, it was like the people themselves moved in a whole new way, soundlessly, swiftly, almost as if Neal was in one of those colorless, silent movies with the cheery tune humming in the background as the people hurried and smiled and danced. The world was made up of nothing but images for Neal at that moment. No sound. No words. No nothing.

All he could hear was loud, obnoxious droning. It seemed to be coming from everywhere and nowhere, inside his head and the outside world. It was blaring and caused Neal's head to physically pound. Why couldn't anyone else hear it?

Neal found himself watching the cars, the lips of the people, moving up and down and in and out, the birds as they chirped and sung and yet, he couldn't hear them. Not really. He tried so hard to hear. He concentrated until his head hurt, his skull ached and ear buzzed with this sharp, twanging pain that seemed to flutter like a robin with its wings beating. At some moments, he barely noticed the pain and at others, it was all he could think about.

And he hated it.

Though Neal found it hard to admit, impossible even, he was scared. Incredibly so.

He couldn't go through life not hearing. Not listening. That was what he did best. During his dazed, spaced out moment of self-pity, Neal didn't notice Peter's face in front of his until the older man shrugged of his own jacket and hung it limply around Neal's shoulders in a vain attempt to keep his CI warm until the ambulance came

As if that would make a difference.

The agent was saying something and Neal could tell, without hearing, that the man was speaking at a raised volume, hoping that something, anything would get through to the young man. Neal would have given his left kidney to hear the grating sound of Peters voice once again.

"What?" Neal spoke, though it felt odd, strange as his cheeks flushed red at the thought that his words could sound very different to Peter.

Peter repeated himself, hands clasped around Neal's forearms, that look of worry and concern and fear etched across his face, deepening the lines that rested there. He looked old, Neal noted.

Neal focused and watched the mans chapped, bleeding lips and it was obvious he'd been gnawing on the bottom one. Caffrey wasn't the best, most capable lip reader, but it was all he had to go on and found himself making out some words, at least.

Oh, but Neal was panicking. What if he was deaf? Completely so? Forever?

He'd never hear music, the soft, delicate notes of the piano keys or the sound of the Peters Taurus rattling outside or Mozzie's voice or Elle's laugh or dogs barking or lawn mowers in summer time or the wind or the swoosh of the ocean in a storm.

Then Neal gasped, his chest constricting, his heart hammering at the thought of that. He clenched his fists tightly, ignoring the stinging of the burns on his palms or the pain as his finger nails broke his skin because he couldn't bear that. It couldn't happen.

He whimpered as his breath hitched in his throat and he choked, his lungs screaming, his head spinning.


Neal was too scared to even feel embarrassed at the stray tear that rolled silently down his cheek as he fought to hold the sobs at bay. He would not cry.


Neal snapped his eyes shut, taking some kind of comfort in the quietness and the darkness he found himself lost in. In there, he could pretend to be anywhere he wanted. He wasn't sat on some curb in downtown Manhattan, his ears blown, blood dried to the side of his pale face, knotted in his hair. No, he was lounging on a bench somewhere in southern France, basking in the warm sun like a cat does, not one care in the whole, damn world.

Except he wasn't. And Neal knew that too well.

Peter awkwardly looped one arm over the ex-con man's shoulders, drawing him just a tiny bit closer, unsure how to do the whole comforting-an-injured-friend-thing. But he tried his best and Neal was grateful.

He opened his eyes to slits, glancing at the pitiful expression upon Diana's face, upon Jones's as they watched him cry on some street like a child before he looked away, unable to stand their sympathy any longer.

It was his fault.

If only he'd run faster, been quicker, then he wouldn't have been so close when the building went up. He wouldn't have had his hearing ripped away and strung up, somewhere he couldn't reach it.

Another sob.

Another tear.

Another gently pat of reassurance from Peter.

Then the agent got out his phone and typed a message. That hadn't occurred to Neal yet.

The ex-con took the phone with shaking hands.

Don't worry. They'll fix this. The ambulance is on its way.

It took him a moment to find his numb fingers before he replied, hesitantly, but secretly relieved to be able to communicate with some one again.

What if they can't?

They will. I promise.

I was so close. I can still feel the heat. It's too hot.

But Peter wouldn't let him shrug of the jacket.

You're in shock, keep it on.

I'm not in shock. I feel sick.

Just calm down, Neal. I'm here.

Neal breathed in through his nose and set his jaw firmly shut. He wasn't going to bring up his breakfast in front of a bunch of NYPD officers. He bet that they were already having a great time watching the con man, the famous alleged forger, Neal Caffrey, cry in public.

Hold it together Neal, he repeated inside his head, the only place where any sound existed for him and he tried to imagine the wailing of the sirens, pretend he could hear the irritating whistling of a cop nearby.

But that's all it was; pretend.

In reality, everything was quiet.

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