So here it is. The last chapter. I'm kind of sad it's over, but I had such a wonderful time writing this and an even better time sharing it with you. I would like to give the biggest thank you to everyone who read this story, reviewed it, followed it, favorited it and even to those who gave it a quick look and dropped it afterwards. Your support and feedback was awesome. Thank you.
'Until next time. Enjoy.
6 years later
It was a beautiful July morning in New York City. The sun shone through the trees lining the calm, quaint street and a soft breeze occasionally came to rustle their leaves. A young man with bright blue eyes and wavy brown hair made his way up the steps of the Burkes' town house, dragging a suitcase behind him. He set his bags on the front porch and stood there for a while scanning the familiar street. His hand drifted to the pocket of his jeans and he dug out a folded piece of paper. Thoughtfully, he ran his finger over the dark blue seal at the top of the page.
Letter of acceptance.
He read it over in his head and wondered for the hundredth time what Peter would think.
"I'm home," Neal called, lugging his suitcase through the front door, and kicking it shut behind him with his foot. He dropped his bags to the floor with a thud and drew in a deep breath. It was good to be back. The familiar surroundings brought calm and contentment. Home.
There was a soft jingling and the sound of nails clicking against the hardwood. Satchmo's golden head peeked out from the living room and he bounded around the corner excitedly at the sight of Neal. He barked playfully, very happy to see his best friend had returned.
"Welcome back, son," a wonderfully familiar and deep voice came from the kitchen doorway. Peter stood there, smiling fondly at the sight of Neal and Satchmo, remembering the time not so long ago when the golden lab nearly reached Neal's full height when he rested his paws on the kid's hips. Neal had got significantly taller since then.
"Dad," Neal smiled, blue eyes lighting up, as Peter pulled him into a warm hug. The kid was as tall as he was now. They broke apart, and Peter held him out at arm's length.
"You look good, kiddo. Your mom and I are so proud of you—"
"Neal, sweetie!" Elizabeth's warm voice resounded as she joined her boys in the hallway. "I'm so happy to see you." She threw her arms around her son. "Neal Burke, you are getting too tall," she scolded fondly, wrapping her hand around the back of his neck and gently pulling down to kiss him on the forehead.
"My college graduate…" Elizabeth whispered, still not believing it.
"Any plans yet?" Peter asked.
"Oh, Peter, leave him be, he just finished school."
"Actually, yes." Neal flashed them his mischievous, sparkling smile and Peter mentally palm smacked his forehead. What could he possibly be up to now?
"The FBI does have a division I find rather… interesting. White Collar crimes could use my expertise."
Elizabeth gave a fond laugh and Peter eyes bugged out of his sockets.
"You want to join the FBI?" Peter asked carefully, biting back a wide grin as warmth—no, unmistakable pride, spread through his chest. Neal pulled the letter from his pocket and placed it in his father's hand. He laughed quietly as Peter's eyes grew even wider as he discovered the very official FBI seal at the top of the page. Neal couldn't have wished for a better reaction. El giggled watching Peter trying to contain his own excitement.
Neal's hundred watt grin broadened.