El and Carolyn gave him about an hour to recover before they came down to see him and found him standing contemplating a painting he had started weeks ago. It was one of his own creations…one that he had used from pictures of him with his new family around him. He reached for it and as he intended to throw it to the floor he heard,
"Neal! No!" and turned to face El and Carolyn.
"Why not, I've lost Peter's love and respect for sure because of this stupid game," he replied bitterly.
"Neal," El reacted quickly as she pulled him to her in a hug, "You haven't lost anything but the ability to sit comfortably for the next few days. You may have disappointed him but he still loves you and respects you for the talented and gifted individual that you are; who unfortunately has never outgrown his childhood at times like this one."
"But he left me without saying he forgave this latest stunt of mine," argued Neal as he broke free of El's hug and moved back towards the painting.
"He was mad dear…and at that time he may not yet have forgiven you. Give him time to cool down before you decide how he feels based on this one incident, he might fool you…yet again," Carolyn said with a smile as she drew him into a hug and whispered in his ear,
"If you even think again about destroying this painting I will add to the heat my son left…do you understand, young man?"
"Yes, ma'am…but you will see that Peter doesn't love me anymore," he added as he returned to his bed and curled up on his side in the fetal position to await his handler's return.
The ladies only looked sadly at the boy they both loved and left him to his thoughts. They knew that when Peter returned he would make it right.
It wasn't until 6 p.m. that El heard the front door open and her husband walk wearily in.
She went to give him a much needed hug and kiss before asking," Were you able to convince Reese to keep Neal as your CI?" because she knew that was the real reason Peter went to talk to Reese. This incident of wasting the bureau's and Peter's time chasing down this forger that turned out to be their CI was serious enough to warrant his return if Reece wanted to.
"Reese was angry...very angry at this game Neal played at our expense but after I told him that I punished him severely for it he said that he wouldn't send him back…but…" Peter replied as he paused to look around the room.
"In his room in fact he hasn't been out of it since you left," replied El. "Peter he doesn't think you love him any longer because you didn't tell him that you forgave him before you left to see Reese. Carolyn and I tried to convince him that wasn't the case but I don't think he's going to believe it until he hears it from you," she added sadly.
Peter shook his head and said, "Whoever raised that kid sure didn't teach him about a parent's love for their child through thick and thin and left it to you and me to convince him that no matter what he does, we will always love him….although that love won't save his butt when he misbehaves. Oh, yeah Reese feels that thirty licks were enough this time but if he ever does anything like this again, that causes us to waste time; he's going to insist that the spanking be done in his office so he can watch and the licks double. I'm sure that Neal's squirming tomorrow will prove to Reese that he has been properly punished for his antics of the last few weeks."
El asked, "Why don't you get washed up; I have supper on the table by the time you return."
"Can you hold supper a little longer while I talk to our son about forgiveness and love?" asked Peter as he headed to the basement room that Neal claims as his own.
El nodded and headed back to the kitchen to wait as her men folks reappeared.
Peter found Neal pretty much in the same position as the ladies had when they left; he was on his side but this time he was sleeping and not wanting to disturb him quite yet Peter sat down in the nearby rocker to see if he would awake on his own. He didn't have long to wait when Neal cried out, "I'm sorry father…I won't get caught again…don't hit me," before waking himself with a yell.
Peter was at his side from the moment of his first yell and pulled him even now into a hug as he patted his back in comfort. "It's okay Neal, I have you," he said over and over again until Neal came back to the present and asked,
"Of course, I am…where else would I be. Neal I love you; you're the son El and I couldn't have. You can be a handful at times but that doesn't change the fact that we love you and no matter how many times you might screw up we won't ever give up on you…haven't you gotten that through that thick skull of your yet?" He added as he knocked lightly on Neal's head.
"I guess I'm just a slow learner Dad," Neal replied as he pulled slightly away from Peter.
"I'm sorry I disappointed you Dad…that hurt even worse that the spanking; and I'm sorry that my actions has cost me your respect."
"Neal I still respect you…you are one of the most intelligent people I know but it is the way you use your intelligence that gets you into trouble. You are a talented artist; I just wish you would stop copying other artist works and do some of your own…some you and your family can be proud of because they were done by you…can you do that for me son?"
"I'll try," replied Neal and after a minute or too added, "those gallery people thought that my work was good…maybe next time I'll bring some of my own work and see if they will like them as well."
"When you do your mother and I will be there to support you…now come on before
El gives our supper to Satch," Peter said good-naturedly as he pushed Neal towards the stairs. He waited until Neal had started up to add, "And if you haven't figured it out yet…I forgive you for your catch-me-if-you-can game…just don't do it again!"
AN: This story is based on an actual art forger who "for nearly three decades donated his copies of Picassos and other works of art to unsuspecting museums in 20 states. Those works are found in an exhibit called "Faux Real" which opened on April Fool's Day, 2012.