Written for the 25 Prompt challenge on the Little Spanko's Site
Characters: Neal, Peter, El
Warnings: Non-Consensual Spanking
A Note from The Little Spanko: In Australia when young people are out drinking and one of them spills a drink or knocks over or into something, everyone calls out Taxi! meaning they've had enough and should think about heading home (in a taxi cab), hence the title of this story.
Agent Peter Burke snuggled up close to his wife on the couch. It was Friday night. Oh, how he just loved that Friday night feeling. They'd cleaned up from dinner – well, they'd tossed the Chinese take-away containers into the trash. They'd both had showers, mmm, El smelled like fresh lavender, and now they were about to watch one of Peter's favorite movies – The Sixth Sense. In actual fact, it really wasn't Peter's favorite, but he did enjoy watching it with El. He liked how she held him tight during the scary bits and he enjoyed kissing her lovingly when she got a bit weepy towards the end. Plus, he liked Bruce Willis. Sometimes when Peter was chasing bad guys he shouted "Yippe Ki-Yay in his head to spur himself on. Peter reached over to the side table and retrieved his chilled beer. Twisting the top, he drooled slightly while waiting for the froth to subside, the rising gas bubbles sending little tingling sensations up his nostrils. The agent lifted the bottle to his lips….
Peter's cell came to life on the sideboard, rudely intruding into his own personal oasis. "Oh for crying out loud!" he cursed but made no effort to extricate himself from under his wife.
"You going to get that hon?" El sipped at her wine, already heavily involved in the opening scene of The Sixth Sense.
"Uh, I don't know yet."
El tilted her head back to look at her husband, puzzled by his response.
"I don't want to get it. It can't possibly be good news."
"Seems like it's a no-brainer then - just leave it." El turned back to the movie and took another long sip of her cabernet sauvignon.
"Fine!" Peter huffed. "I'll get it!"
El leaned forward so her husband could maneuver himself out. "Okay, but don't say I didn't warn you," she smiled cheekily at her husband and muted the movie.
"Agent Burke…..Yes…..How long ago?…..Say again?...What location please?...No, I'll alert them if necessary, I'll check it out first. Thank you."
Peter hung up the phone and turned back to his wife, shaking his head.
"Trouble?" El asked, pretty much guessing already what had transpired with the phone conversation.
"Neal!" That one syllable word said it all!
El flicked on the radio, hoping to find some soothing music. One of the occupants of the car could do with some serious chilling out…. and it wasn't her. She'd insisted on coming along for the ride, in fact she'd told Peter he was in no fit state to drive with his current temperament and had made her way around to the driver's door. But Peter had been quick to point out that El had already had a couple of glasses of wine and it would be negligent of him to allow her to get behind the wheel of a motor-vehicle. So, she had acquiesced, on the condition that once they collected Neal, Peter wasn't allowed to start going off his brain till they arrived at wherever they ended up taking the boy. Peter had made it quite clear, depending on his young CI's excuse, or lack thereof, that it might be a long evening for El if it turned out they had to deliver the impossibly frustrating, troublesome young con-man back to the Supermax. Of course El had scoffed at Peter, only to button her lips upon receiving a very stern, very intolerant frown from the agent.
Peter turned into the non-descript side street, given as Neal's current location by the Monitoring Operations switchboard operator. The officer on the other end of the line had said there may have been a malfunction with Neal's tracker because according to her reading, Neal's tracking location put him less than one foot outside his radius, and hadn't moved for more than half and hour. Peter had also checked the data after he'd hung up and concurred. Of course he had tried Neal's cell – perhaps it was possible the kid was in a club or something and hadn't realized his warning alarm was going off. But then again, that would have been too easy and Peter just wasn't that lucky! Neal had been off kilter all day. Peter should have suspected the kid was up to no good, but to help make up for his inattentiveness, he had decided he was going to wring his partner's neck when he finally got a hold him!
"Peter, there he is!"
Peter stopped the car and looked in the direction El was pointing. His heart skipped a beat in fright as his eyes made contact with the familiar figure stretched out on the sidewalk. However his fear soon boiled over into anger and his heart restarted as he watched the young man peg a pebble at the closet street lamp and heard the pitiful strains of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road breaching the sanctuary of his car.
"I'm gonna kill him!" the agent growled as he reached for the door handle only to find himself restrained by his wife.
"Now hold on a minute Peter, you promised remember. No going ballistic till we get him home."
"Hey! I never said anything about bringing him home with us!"
"No, but look, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that he's had a little too much to drink. Hardly a prison-worthy crime and there's no way we're taking him back to June's in that state."
"Okay, I'll just put him in the FBI lock-up till Monday morning. He should have sobered up by then!"
"Peter," El warned.
"Fine, have it your way. But you can take care of him at three in the morning when he's throwing his guts up all over our bathroom floor."
El stared at her husband before bursting into a fit of laughter. "You feel better now hon? Getting that out of your system?"
Peter eventually gave in and smiled back, "Yeah, a bit." Reaching into his sweater pocket he made a quick call to the Monitoring Operations Center to tell them he had Caffrey.
"Now hon," El advised as her husband climbed out of the car, "remember your blood pressure."
Peter scoffed, "Funny, it's only been a problem since, ah, let me think. What date was it that Neal was released into my care?"
"So goodbye yellow bwick woad, where da dogs of society howl…"
Agent Peter Burke stood over the top of his young charge hands on hips, pursed lips, aggravated frown, red coloring tinting the skin of his face - more than enough clues to indicate to even the most novice observer that the imposing, irritated male had reached the end of his tether. Unfortunately for Neal, he didn't seem to notice.
"Oh I've finally decided my future lies, beyond da yellow bwick road.. Oh! Hey Pete! Oooo out for a stroll too?" Neal slurred out the question with what appeared to be great effort.
Peter took three deep breaths, as per his physician's instructions, while digging his fingernails out of his palms from where they'd left nasty imprints - a painful side effect from having clenched his fists too tight. Not that he cared. Nor could he care less who heard as he shouted, "What the hell do you think you're doing Neal!"
"Ah, I just westing, and you?"
Peter wondered if any of the occupants of the homes, now most likely gawking out from behind their curtains, would notice if he accidently slapped the boy over his silly head. "Neal, let me tell you what I was doing. I was sitting at home on my couch, looking forward to spending a wonderful night with my beautiful wife when I received an urgent call from Monitoring Operations to say that my CI was out of his radius. So, instead of enjoying a well-earned night off, I've had to drag myself out here to bring your sorry ass-" Peter glared down at his young charge, who had made a tube out of his two hands, which he held to one eye, pretending to have some type of makeshift telescope while he studied the stars in the sky. "Neal!"
Neal redirected his 'scope' to realign with Peter's eyes. "Yeah Pete, what's up bud?"
The agent ran a frustrated hand down his face, "You're out of your radius. You could be…should be," Peter amended, "arrested."
"Ah Petey, Petey, Petey. I can see why oo are confoosed and so sadly mistaken. But I hate to bweak it to ya man, but it's my left foot that's out of the radius, not me. Look." Neal retracted his left leg slightly and immediately the blinking red light changed to green and the annoying low level buzzing sound ceased. "Now it's in," Neal stretched his leg and once more the alarm and red light returned. "Now it's out. In, out, in, out," the kid looked like he was in the middle of a Pilates class, excepting of course for the Devore suit and the black Borsalino fedora. "In, out, i-"
"Get up!" Peter had to put an end to this before he broke his promise to El, or before he broke… something. He reached down and hoisted the boy to his feet and began dragging him back to the car. "Are you trying to get yourself arrested?" he asked thinking it may be a real possibility.
"Nuh-uh Petey. Wemember it was just my lower extremity that was ow of bounds. The rest of me stayed within my radius so if oo are going to make an arrest, you'll hab to just take my left foot into custody. The rest of me is free to go," Neal laughed while slurring out what he thought was a very logical explanation.
"Get in!" Peter yanked open the back door and shoved his young charge in while pondering the merits of actually chopping off the boys foot and leaving the rest of him 'free to go'.
"Heeey El!" Neal shouted happily as he slid into the backseat.
"Hi sw-" Elizabeth's response was cut short as Neal leaned over the seat and planted a sensual kiss on the young woman's lips. It took El a moment to register, and another to pull away, by which time Neal was also withdrawing to his own space. Peter opened the driver's door and climbed in. "You okay, hon?" he asked curiously upon seeing the surprised look on his wife's face.
"Yeah, I was just… saying hello to Neal?" she replied uncertainly, not too sure what to make of the…greeting?
Peter pulled out of the side street and onto a main road. He hoped the traffic wouldn't be too bad and with a bit of luck it would be a quick, uneventful ride home.
Of course, we all knew better!
"I hab somefink I want to tell oo."
"Can you get him to keep quiet? That annoying slurred speech of his is grating on my nerves." Peter whispered in his wife's direction.
"Hush Peter, it's harmless." El playfully slapped her husband's arm. "Show more tolerance please….What do you want to tell me sweetie?" she called out over her shoulder.
"Can I tell oo a secret?" Neal spoke in a hushed, clandestine tone.
A secret? "Yes…Of course sweetie," El replied a little hesitantly hoping it was in no way related to the 'kissing incident'.
"I did somefink tonight that, well maybe I shouldn't have."
"Oh," El looked sideways at Peter who just raised his eyebrows, clueless to what the young man was going on about. "What did you do sweetie?" Maybe his other foot had also broken the radius!
"Ooooo see El it's a bit complicated," Neal leaned over nearer the front seat as he spoke.
"You got your seat belt on sweetie?"
"Yeah Mom," Neal groaned good naturedly. "See?"
"Yes honey, I see. Please continue…"
"Okay, so when I left work, I didn't go home."
"You go to the closest bar?"
Neal chuckled, "Nuh-uh. But I can see why ooo fought that. Great minds think alike and all of that. The bar at Federal Plaza has dis awesome Monet themed-"
"Where did you go after work?"
"Yeah, that's right…Do oooo lub me El?"
Elizabeth smiled, picturing what Peter was going to have to say about all of this when they were alone later on. "Oh of course sweetie and nothing you can do will ever change that."
"I lub oo too."
"Thank you sweetie. Now, where did you go?"
"Well…you see…Peter and I hab been investigating this mob working out of the Meat Packing District who are fought to be extorting money out of some of da older owners in the adjacent buildings. I'b been wanting to go under cover as one of the sons of one of the owners that hab had trouble so I could get some…. evvvvviiiiideeeeence." The last word was drawn out like it was the key phrase to any story ever told.
"And let me guess, Peter said no?"
"Yeah, can oo believe it?"
Yes! "And why did Peter say no, sweetie?" El looked across at her husband who was shaking his head, while trying to stay focused on the traffic.
"Uh, I on't know. Maybe cause he fought it was too dangerwos."
"Really. Why would Peter think this particular case was more dangerous than some of the others where you've gone under cover?"
"Maybe cause he fought …they might hab guns."
"Yeah Ellll. Guns. Might hab guns!" The young con reiterated.
"Well, I can see now why Peter told you not to go anywhere near them."
"Yeah…But guess what?"
El sighed, "You went anyway." It wasn't a question.
"Yeah," Neal sounded surprised that El had guessed correctly. "And…Peterwubwhite."
"Peter's white? Ah, say again sweetie."
"I said, Peeetttteeerr wuuuuuub whiiiiittttte," the kid slurred out the words ever so slowly making it even less understandable.
"He said, "Peter was right." The agent interpreted with elevated satisfaction.
"Yes hon, I got it that time. But thanks anyway." El winked at her husband.
"What was Peter right about sweetie?"
"Day did have guns! Baaaaad guns." Neal shivered. "Semi-automadic Slovak pistols kind of guns."
Peter hit the break with a little more force than necessary at the red light and all three passengers fell forward slightly with the momentum.
"Peter!" El challenged, "Calm down honey. We'll be home soon and then, well…" she left that thought out there and returned her attention to the young man in the back seat. El was almost frightened to ask, but well, 'In for a penny, in for a pound', and all of that. "How do you know what type of guns they have sweetie?"
"Cause I saw dem."
"From a distance?" El could only hope.
…El thanked her lucky stars….
"And when they gwabbed me."
"Uuuurrrrggghhh!" Peter moaned in the driver's seat.
"Three deep breath's honey. You know what-"
"What my physician said. Yes El, I know the drill."
"Did they hurt you sweetie? Are you hurt anywhere?" El turned in her seat and gave the young man a visual examination. "What did they do to you sweetie?"
"Nuting Mom," Neal rolled his eyes. "I'm fine, I got away fwom them. Day didn't hurt me."
El turned back and breathed a sigh of relief. "Neal sweetie, what are we going to do with you?"
"I don't know bout you El but…Peter's gonna kill me."
"But!" Neal leaned forward in his seat once more, all excited. "I dib get de evvvvviiiiideeeeence." He passed over a miniature box just large enough to house a camera card.
El took the box. "What's this sweetie?"
"Yes but what is it exactly?"
"I pwetended I was one of de owner's sons and I got dem to freaten me."
"Awesome." Peter muttered under his breath sarcastically.
"That was very dangerous sweetie, but…I guess Peter will be talking to you about that."
"Yeah, I guess he will," The young CI groaned. "But, it's a good video! Cept for the part where day…you know…"
"They grabbed you and pointed a gun at your head?"
"Yeah. Dat part. Peter's not gonna like dat part."
Me neither! "Well he did ask you not to go there-"
"Yeah, free times. Free times he told me. No Neal, oo are not going!" Neal pointed his finger for emphasis.
"So Peter told you three times that it was dangerous, they may have guns, which they did, and you weren't to go anywhere near them?"
"Yeah Ellll…But I fought if I went in an got what we needed…. Peter may just oberlook dat I had disobeyed him and well you know, be happy dat we'd solved the case."
El gave Peter a pointed look. The agent had to take some of the blame for Neal believing he could put his life at risk in order to get results. But that discussion was for another time.
"Can oo pwease do me a favor an not tell Peter. He's going to be soooooooo mad when he finds out. I guess he'll find out sooner or later but can oooo just not tell him anyway?"
"I won't sweetie, but I'm pretty sure he's going to find out sooner, rather than later."
Neal heaved a deep sigh, "You're probably right. Elll…"
"Would it be much twouble to pull ober for a minute. I tink I'm gonna be sick."
Peter pulled back out into the traffic and headed home, having listened to the young CI throw up over and over again for a good twenty minutes. El of course had gone all motherly, patting Neal's back, wiping his face with a wet napkin from the glove compartment and even making Peter walk to the pizza plaza one block back to get the boy a bottle of water. The frustrated agent had very little sympathy, working out that his young charge must have consumed a copious amount of alcohol in an incredibly short time.
"Do oo still lub me?"
El laughed, here we go again! "Yes sweetie of course…and you know… Peter does too." She stared at her husband, daring him to challenge the statement. He did not.
"Yeah El. I know he does."
"That's good sweetie."
"You know how I know?"
"Hmmm…Maybe, but you tell me anyway."
"Cause I can tell. He… tries to take good care of me. He…. tries to teach me. He…gets all pwoud when I do somefink smart…He…" Neal lowered his voice, "He gets disappointed when I do somefink dangerous or you know, illegal, then he gets cwanky with me, or maybe it's the other way owound – first cwanky den disappointed. I don't know, one of those two. And it doesn't feel like he's acting like my boss. Specially when he says I can't do something like-"
"Like going undercover because the suspects may be armed and dangerous?"
"Yeah! Just like that El! Even den, I know… please don't tell him…," Neal whispered, "I know it's because he lubs me and… it doesn't really feel like he's my boss or even my partner, it feels more like…more like…"
"More like what sweetie?" El wanted to hear him say it.
Neal rubbed his skull to see if that would help the word he was after come out. "Uh, more like…more than that?"
Awww, perhaps another day. "You're right sweetie, Peter does love you very much and it does make him disappointed when you do something dangerous. It scares him, and it scares me."
"Do oo fink he is going to be cwanky with me El?"
"Yes sweetie. I do."
"Do oo fink I'm gonna be in twoble with him?"
"Do oo fink he's gonna take me back to pwison?"
"Oh no sweetie. Peter wouldn't do that." El glared at her husband for even thinking it.
"Cause oo know what he told me?"
"What did he tell you sweetie?"
"Dat he would put me back in pwison if it meant keeping me safe fwom myself."
"Oh, well I guess Peter does have a point," the agent sent a self-satisfied glare back in El's direction. "If it was the only way to keep you from putting yourself in danger then he would have to consider that option. But you know how you can stay safe without having to go back to prison, don't you Neal?"
"Yeah Elllll," Neal whined.
"Listen to what Peter tells me to do. Follow his diwections. Don't disobey him."
"Correct sweetie. Now if you do that, I am certain Peter will never, ever need to take you back to prison to keep you safe."
"If he's not gonna take me back to pwison for disobeying him tonight, what's he gonna do?"
El looked at Peter, but her husband was probably undecided. "I don't know sweetie….What do you think he should do?"
"I fink he should say gweat work Neal. You are the champion of champions when it comes to CI's. I fink we should pwomote you to senior agent and give you a huuuuuge pay wise while we are at it."
"Yeah, you know, I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen sweetie."
"You might be white El, but it is nice to dream….I don't fink he should do anything. I got the evviiiiiiiddddeeeennnce wemember?"
"Yes sweetie, but you also blatantly disobeyed a direct order. I don't think he's going to leave it at nothing."
"No, white again." Neal considered again. "I'm sure Agent Burke will gib me some long borwing lecture. Not too painful. You know the one, 'Blah! Blah! Blah!' I've become pwetty good at tuning them out. Usually I'm standing dare finking, 'What a damn awful tie, man! Show some taste for once!'"
Peter was right, the kid did have some kind of bizarre death wish! El dared not look over at her husband, whose knuckles had turned white from holding the steering wheel way too aggressively. "So that's it Neal? All you'll get for going against Peter's orders is some long, boring lecture?"
"Oh no, I wouldn't be dat lucky El. He's going to stick me on desk duty for ages, well until he needs me again. I'll have to do all da boring mortgage fraud cases but I can do those now in my sleep. Just more blah! Blah! Blah!"
El's allegiance was promptly changing sides, and particularly after that last comment by the carefree young man in the back, she found herself sitting squarely in Team Peter. Throwing the kid back in prison for a day or two perhaps wasn't the worse idea in the world. But then again, El knew she could do better than that silly 'never gonna happen on her shift' notion. They still had a good ten minutes before they arrived home so El considered out loud, "You know Neal, maybe Agent Burke is not going to punish you for disobeying a work related directive. But perhaps Peter is going to punish you for doing something irresponsibly dangerous that could have got you very badly hurt, or worse. If anything were to happen to you, it would leave both of us with a great loss in our lives. Maybe this time you're not going to be let off so easily with just a simple lecture and a couple of days of desk duty."
"Maybe…" Suddenly the young man leaned forward so far, it was like he was in the front seat. "How?" he asked, startling El, not only because he was mere inches from her face, but from the alarmed expression he sported.
"Neal! Sit back!"
"Yeah Mom," he whined while moving back to his spot. "Ellllll."
"How? What do oo mean? How is Peter gonna punish me this time?" he asked with grave concern.
El smiled with smug satisfaction. Finally the seriousness of the situation was sinking in as Neal began to realize the consequences for his actions may not be as simple as he had hoped. "What do you think Peter might do?" She looked across at her husband, considering that question herself. He still appeared way too annoyed to offer a rational response so she gave him the button-up signal by pretending to zip her own lips. Later on tonight, when the man was less likely to lose the plot, she would perhaps suggest he place Neal under house arrest for a week or two and talk to June about giving him a multitude of additional chores to keep him way too busy to get up to any mischief.
"I guess," the boy announced glumly, "he's gonna spank me."
Peter slammed on his breaks, and this time Neal did find himself in the front seat. "Woa! Easy on driver! El, do oo want to get out and catch a differwent cab? This guys cwazy!"
El shook her head hoping to clear her brain, not knowing what clouded it more, the fact that Neal was under the misconception that they were travelling home in a NY taxi or the idea that he thought Peter may actually 'spank' him for his actions tonight. El took three deep breaths hoping Peter was doing the same. In fact, Peter was massaging his temples with his fingertips – good enough. "Neal."
"Why would you think Peter might… spank you?"
"Cause, uh, I dunno. It's the first thing that came to mind?"
"Have you even been spanked before?" El thought it was a very real possibility the kid had led a consequence free existence his whole life.
Neal laughed, then laughed some more, obviously thinking El's question to be utterly ridiculous. "Of course I have!"
"Oh." El was honestly surprised. "Uh, your mom used to spank you?"
"Oh, no, not really." Neal looked out the window, thinking back to years gone by.
El was going to leave it at that and change the subject but the young CI continued, verbalizing his thoughts. "but Arthur on the other hand!"
"Arthur Phissal….Boy that's going back a few years now….," Neal recalled.
Peter looked in his rear view mirror, as interested as El, if not more, to hear about a character from Neal's past.
"…Good ole Arfur?"
"He was a friend of yours sweetie?"
"Yeah, no, well, he was my fwiend but you know, more than that… He was my dad for a while."
Peter and El looked at each other, both with the same sympathetic expression. There was something about the boy that made you want to wrap him up and take him home, like a little abandoned puppy. Sometimes Peter wondered if Neal had perfected that idiosyncrasy in order to gain leverage for his cons, but at times like this, he accepted the boy had travelled a difficult path growing up and the 'need a good home' look was probably just a sad side effect.
"Your dad sweetie? Did your mom get remarried?"
"Uh…" Neal had to think…"No, she neber got married again. But she did live wif Arthur for more than a year, so I told my fwiends he was my dad. He was a gweat guy. He lived in this huuuuuuuugggge home."
"Did it have a view of Central Park?" El wouldn't have been surprised.
"Nah, you couldn't see Centwal Park silly. He lived in Baltimore. You know Baltimore?"
"Yes silly, of course I do. How old were you when you lived there?"
"Uh…Maybe fourteen, fifteen I guess."
"Were you in school?"
"Yeah, Arthur made sure I went. Didn't like school much be he insisted. Said it was important for me to get good gwades so I could achieve any dream I wanted."
"Sounds like a wise man, hope you listened to him."
"Yeah actually I did. He was wise and smart and he tried his best to help me make good choices," Neal remembered with surprising clarity despite the haze of time and the obstruction of the alcohol in his system. "Of course," Neal chuckled, "I was far from a model child."
"No kidding," Peter said out loud.
El ignored him, "So you got up to your fair share of mischief sweetie."
"Like oo wouldn't believe Ellll."
Or would! "Sounds like Arthur came along at the right time then."
"Yeah, I guess before Mom and I moved in with him, I was kinda spinning out of control. Skipping school most days, out on da street taking what I wanted, living without a concern in the world."
"What about your mom? What did she have to say about your shenanigans?"
"Not much…She was busy with her jobs…Didn't bother bout what I did much as long as it didn't affect her."
El swallowed a lump in her throat. "You were lucky to have Arthur come into your life, sweetie, even if it was for a short time."
"Yeah, I was. He accepted me from da very first day like I was his own son. He helped me to get some direction. He discubered that I liked to draw and encouraged me to transfer to an art course at my school." Neal smiled at the memory. "Arthur was gweat, but he was also very stwict with me. He was older than Mom, he'd been around for a while and he had an expectation that when you asked a kid to do somefink, they did it. He was big on manners and respect. I didn't mind too much because he always explained it to me. If it was somefink I wasn't used to, like say good table manners, he'd be bery patient and talk to me about it, usually over a game of chess. Bit by bit he managed to rein me in and I found myself at the happiest I'd eber been, living like a real family, in an actual home, with rules and expectations and…consequences, although that part, I wasn't keen on so much."
"Yeah…sometimes I would…relapse? And Arthur would send me to his study."
"To punish you?"
"Yep. I'd have to bend over his desk for a dose of the belt. Crap it huuuuuurt too. Needless to say, if I was being punished for somefink like, oh you know, a highly illegal activity, I was extremely hesitant to do it again anytime soon. So I guess, it may have had its merits – the whole consequences and accountability thing. Hey, lucky for me Peter doesn't have a study, otherwise I'd be a little concerned wight now."
"Yeah, to tell you the truth, I don't know that's going to make too much difference."
"Mmm, maybe." Neal got lost in his thoughts.
"So sweetie…" El was almost scared to ask, "Uh, what happened, you said you lived with Arthur until you were about fifteen. Did your mom and him break up?"
"No, Arthur died. He went away on a weekend hunting trip and was accidently shot."
"Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry."
"It's okay Ellll, it was a wong time ago. Mom and I moved back out, I fink we moved to New Jersey after that. And well that was the end of my time with Arthur. He never let me call him Arti you know. Do you get it El? Arti…Arti Phissal?...Artificial?"
"Yes Neal, I get it." El didn't find it funny.
"Arthur said it was disrespectful, do you think it's disrespectful, El?"
"Yes Neal, so don't let me here you say it again please."
"Yes Mom," he whined.
"We're just about home sweetie, how you feeling now."
"Better…but Elllll," Neal slurred.
"Do oo still lub me?"
"Yes sweetie, of course."
"Can I sleep with oooo tonight?"
Peter pursed his lips, ripped on the handbrake, good thing they'd pulled up outside the house already, and spun in his seat, ready to throttle the young man in the back seat.
El held up her hand, "Wait…Me first….. Neal…."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Ummm," he rubbed his head thinking, "I don't want to be in da big old house by myself. June is out of town and it's…empty. I just don't feel like being by myself tonight. Can I sweep on your couch instead?"
El released her breath and smiled, "Of course sweetie, you know you can stay over whenever you want." She ignored the rather pointed glare Peter was bearing down on her. "We have a guest room, even better than the couch."
Peter pushed open the car door, oh so relieved to be finally home. He walked around and met El on the footpath. Neal remained in his seat so Peter reefed open the back passenger door. "Get out of the car."
"Peter, fancy seeing oooo here!" The young con appeared genuinely surprised. "El and I just caught a cab back and I got to tell oo," he lowered his voice to a near whisper, "the driver, he needs weporting. The most shocking ride-"
The agent reached in and yanked Neal out of the car, propelling him in the direction of the house. But Neal took a quick sideways turn and landed next to Elizabeth. He wrapped his arms around her and dropped his head on her shoulder. "Hi El…I luuuuuuub oo."
Peter grabbed the kid by the scruff of his neck and began to drag him to the house, all the while El couldn't stop shaking her head smiling. The silly boy never learnt!
As they reached the bottom of the porch steps, Neal twisted his head and yelled back, "Can I hab another kiss?"
Another! Peter's face turned bright red and El was pretty sure the boy's feet didn't touch the ground as Peter half carried his young charge into the house.
Nope, the boy never learnt!