Neal was asleep, face tight around the eyes as his eyelids fluttered slightly and his cheeks twitched in reaction to something. Suddenly his eyes flew open and he was immediately sitting up, glancing around the darkened room and breathing hard as if he had been running or afraid of something. His eyes sparkled slightly in the dim light of the overhead skylight as he pulled the blankets aside and his feet touched the cool floorboards beneath. He could hear voices speaking, figures shadowy against the curtain of the french doors leading out to his terrace. He recognized one of the voices as he pulled on his robe and padded quietly towards them. His hand reached to open the door and suddenly he found himself in the conference room at work.
"Neal? Come over here and look at this. The meeting is about to start."
He was confused a moment, glancing around at the sudden change of scenery and Peter looking at him expectantly. He took a manila folder from his friend as it was handed to him, continuing to look around at the crowded conference room. Jones sat off to one side, Diana next to him and several other agents he knew and didn't know well sitting around the table conferring in quiet whispers as they shuffled through a similar file as his own. Neal opened it up as he grabbed a seat near the front by Peter and glanced at the contents within.
Name: Jaren Morrison - Age: 45 - Gender: M...
This all looked familiar to him but he wasn't sure why as Peter leaned over towards him and pointed at a picture in the file.
"He shouldn't be too hard to find... Caffrey."
The voice started out as Peter's but ended on his name in a whole other personality, one he thought he would never hear again. Neal turned to see the man in the file looking at him where his friend should be, his breath catching in his throat as he stared into dark sea green eyes that seemed far too cold or icy to be alive.
"It's a shame you couldn't save them..."
Neal didn't understand, turning to look around the conference room and seeing a horrific sight. Everyone in the room was dead, blood splattering the glass walls and table. He was shaking as he stood, the world swaying as something wet and thick seemed to coat his hands and he saw blood there. Jaren laughed.
"Their blood is on your hands now. You did this, Caffrey. They're dead because of you!"
The man was suddenly gone, laughter still ringing as he turned to see Peter slumped beside him on the chair, dead. Neal shook his friend, screaming and crying out, moving around the room trying to wake them all up and seeing Jaren exiting out the two glass doors to the elevator, green eyes glancing back at him in cold bemusement.
"No... This isn't real... This isn't..."
Suddenly he was sitting up straight in bed and breathing hard as he tried to control the horror that he still felt from the nightmare. Was he really awake? He listened in the darkness but there was only the wind and rain pattering against the skylight and brownstone. Maybe that's what had made him dream so darkly, a cry like a banshee echoing through the air as the wind howled vengefully. He wasn't going to sleep well after what he'd imagined, blaming the Thai food he'd had with Mozzie for dinner. He was just going to get up when he heard something else.
"Neal? Are you awake?"
He jumped slightly at the soft voice through his door, relaxing when he realized it was June. He felt for his robe and shrugged into it, softly padding across the floor to the door and opening it up. Suddenly he realized just how very dark it was as June held up a small LED lantern.
"The power went out. I was going to check on the generator."
She sounded a bit worried, Neal nodding as he slipped on some shoes and joined her. They took the stairs slowly in the darkness, reaching the kitchen and a door that led down to the cellar. Neal took the lantern from her as he took the lead and went down the creaky wooden stairs to the not so spooky room below. It was semi-furnished but most of the items here were obviously in storage with only a little bit of a sitting area perhaps for the grand kids. Neal hadn't been down here but once to help June move some items up.
"I'll check the breaker. Do we need gas for the generator?"
He watched June nod to him in the half-light as she pulled out another flashlight from her housecoat and shuffled away from him in the gloom. Neal found the breaker where his landlady had pointed it out, opening up the box and finding a single fuse burnt and smelling slightly toasty. He carefully replaced it, a slight sparking when he did but no power. Must be something else as he noticed no other burnt looking fuses and closed the box up. He heard the rattling of metal and moved to where June stood replacing a fuel can off to the side.
"Want to do the honors, Neal?"
She was smiling at him as he nodded and pulled the cord to get the engine started. It took two tries but slowly the generator purred to life and light filled the house again. It was a relief in so many ways as June pulled on the overhead light and smiled. June wrapped her arm in his and looked up at him.
"Now, it's early Saturday morning and there's a storm outside. Want to join me for some tea?"
Neal and June talked until the sun should have been up but the storm continued to howl in the unusual darkness outside hours later when they decided to finally try to go back to sleep. It was after 6 AM and Neal was feeling more relaxed than he had after the dream. It had been a silly nightmare about something he hadn't thought of in years. He didn't even know if Jaren was still alive. The man had a deathwish, mostly why he had cut off all ties and run away. Neal had used an alias at the time so Morrison wouldn't know who he was now. He was certain of that but uncertain why he had thought of the man after so much time. He needed to sleep since was Mozzie coming by later to discuss some business with him. Neal had barely rolled over when his phone buzzed. Who would be calling him so early on a Saturday morning? He dreaded picking up when he saw it was Peter.
"Do you know what time it is?"
He was cranky from the dream more than anything but had calmed down a bit now that he'd spent time with June and the power was back on. The red numbers of his alarm clock glowed softly off the nightstand as he waited for a reply.
"Power's out. How about you?"
He blinked in the darkness at the sound of Peter's voice, a tired sound to it as he sat up and sighed.
"I helped June with the generator downstairs. Working now. Is El still out of town?"
He could hear the loneliness in his friend's voice at missing his wife and being alone. Peter was a nice guy and he really missed El when she was gone. He heard a sigh back.
"Yeah. The weather kept her plane grounded. Until this storm passed through, she's trapped at the airport in Dulles. She called me just before the power went out. Luckily the cell is charged up and I have a backup battery. Satchmo hasn't left my side he's so scared of the storm. How's June?"
Neal told him about sitting up with June a while but not about his nightmare as Peter replied back that he had been soothing his frightened dog and worrying about his wife trapped at the airport.
"You can't drive there in this storm, Peter. El will be ok. Trust me."
He still sensed some doubt or maybe Peter wasn't liking being by himself and worrying. Neal sighed and did the only thing he could think of.
"Did you want to come over here? I'm sure June won't mind the company. Satchmo gets along with her pug Bugsy, doesn't he?"
He was probably going to regret offering but Peter jumped at the invitation after a little pussyfooting about encroaching on his space. Much as Neal liked his distance, Peter was more than just a friend and had treated him like family so why not do the same back."
"See you in an hour."
Peter had thought ahead and packed a small bag which he needed and some of June's towels when he arrived. It had taken just under 2 hours for him to arrive with the roads flooding in spots and the rain hard to drive through or see in. Satchmo was wet too, June giving the lab a nice rub down with a well worn but clean brown towel Neal assumed she saved for times when Bugsy got messy. The lab seemed happy for the attention, tongue hanging loose as he sat still for her. The agent walked back in with dry clothes, a clean towel drying his hair despite having worn a raincoat. He seemed impressed.
"I wish I had space for a generator at home. Lucky the furnace fits in that basement we have. Thanks again for inviting me, June... Neal."
Neal's landlady smiled, letting Satchmo and Bugsy into a spare room to play as she closed the door and joined them again.
"It's no bother at all. It's a shame that Elizabeth is stuck at the airport today. I hope they put her up in a nice hotel. This weather doesn't look like it's going to end soon."
They listened as the wind howled outside and they made their way through to the dining room and kitchen.
"I have some brownies from the other day if you're interested, Peter. My home is your home."
Neal smiled at those words, Peter noticing as he tried not to be too obvious but it was apparent the agent was curious at his reaction to those words. They took some snacks and made their way up to Neal's room, Peter whispering slightly.
"Why do I feel like the Wally visiting Eddie Haskell?"
Peter was obviously teasing but Neal couldn't help but smirk slightly.
"What makes you say I'm not Wally and June... well is June."
That made the agent blink back as he chuckled and felt a slight playful punch to his arm.
"So... have any beer or should I give up asking?"
They had already entered his room, Neal shrugging.
"Look for yourself, Peter. I know you want to."
Peter gave him a weird look at the comment but Neal just chuckled.
"There's a six-pack in there... your favorite. You said we might have to get together on those mortgage fraud files so I stocked up... Just in case."
He rolled his eyes but saw Peter smile at him and then blush slightly as if he felt badly for Neal spending money on something just for him.
"Maybe we can go to that cafe you keep asking about. El's been wanting to see what's on their menu after I told her about you wanting to go."
The agent patted him gently on the back as he moved towards the fridge and pulled out a bottle, that smile still firmly plastered on his face. Neal was glad his friend was happy. It was all he really hoped for now that he was able to stay in New York. The fiasco with Kramer and D.C. still left a bad taste in his mouth even six months after the fact. Maybe the nightmare was a sign of his worrying it could happen again. This could all be taken away from him by his past.
"Neal? You need this..."
Peter handed him something, his hand expecting more weight than the small goblet he was given. It was full of a nice red, something he wasn't sure Peter would appreciate but he had underestimated his friend before. He took the glass and smiled, swirling a bit before taking a small sip as they moved to sit on the sofa and watch the rain falling outside. The storm hadn't let up one inch since the agent's arrival and it seemed it was just getting worse as the wind howled even more loudly. All the windows and doors rattled but they were dry and warm inside. Neal worried about El at the airport alone. Peter poked him.
"El told me Yvonne stayed with her despite her boyfriend offering to drive up and get her. I'm just glad she's not alone but I still worry. They're probably getting room service now."
He rolled his eyes some, that look like he was worried about a bill but Neal knew he wasn't. Peter was more giving than he liked to show when it came down to it. Neal knew that all too well.
"Lobster and champagne?"
Neal saw his friend pale a moment then laugh, Peter nearly choking on his beer as he chuckled.
"Maybe. I told her to splurge and have fun while they were there. Speaking of fun... a board game might be fun about now."
Author's Note: Seems normal enough. Nice to see Neal and Peter having a nice moment. Another chapter available so read on. :)