I wanted to thank deeply to my betareader TJ_Teejay for a wonderful job and patience. All mistakes and views are mine and of course no infringements of rights is intended.
I wrote this during Season 2 but no real spoilers if you haven't watched season 2. Hope you enjoy!
What Neal doesn't say
There are things that Neal will probably never say unless he finds himself under a drug induced stupor again that makes it near impossible to control his mind and what'll come across his lips. He'll probably never repeat what he said at the Howser Clinic, and he won't say that he likes Peter's house - not because of the building itself (although he can appreciate the architecture) but because he feels welcomed there. He feels warm, and loved, and it always smells of lemon cookies, of Peter, El and Satchmo.
Neal never says that it smells like home, like he always imagined home should smell like. That it's not the walls or the decor that make the house feel cozy or welcoming. It's the people in it that make him feel like he belongs there every time he walks in through the door. It's the way El fusses about with him when he sneezes, or the concerned looks Peter casts at Neal when he's been quiet or thoughtful for more than two minutes. It's the way Satchmo bounces with happiness, whenever he sees him, or the way he snuggles up to him on the couch head resting on his lap.
Neal doesn't say but sometimes he tries to find excuses to go to the Burke's house, even if he's already had breakfast, lunch or dinner because he simply loves to watch Peter and El together. He loves the playfulness and deepness of their relationship. How they seem to complete each others sentences, or how they seem to move in perfect synchronicity. It just amazes him how two people can be so in sync when they seem like such an improbable couple.
He'll never say but he sometimes can't bear to be near them because they remind him of what he could have had with Kate and will now never have. Neal wonders watching them if he ever could have had with Kate what Peter and El have. If they ever would have completed each other so perfectly that they'd survive the test of time and routine.
But especially he would never say that they are the only people he's met in a long time that make him feel like family. Like he belongs there, to share their happiness and their troubles. To worry when one of them gets sick or hurt. To care enough that it rips him apart to feel like he can't do anything to help. And to feel the concern they both feel whenever Neal is pretending everything is ok, when some days are worse and the memory of the burning plane is too much to pretend that he's fine. When he can't disguise the shakes and Peter asks him to take a break in the office, or El grabs his hand pretending that she's scared of something on TV that Neal wasn't really watching.
He doesn't say but he wishes he'd had parents like them growing up, because he knows they'll make great ones one day. He sometimes wonders who he would be today if he'd had a family like the Burke's. A brownstone brick house, a dog, a kiss and a hug when he got home from school. However, he soon buries those thoughts. There's no point in dwelling on the past, because that can't be changed. It could have been worse than it was.
Peter and El proved on more than one occasion that they were his friends, someone he can trust with his life. They are the only ones with whom he trusts to be Neal - not the con man, or the consultant, the forger, the liar or even one of his aliases – just Neal Caffrey, with all his faults and charms. And even if he's just Neal , he knows that he'll be loved.
Just like he loves them.
And that he'll never say either.