A/N: This is my first ever WC fic, so please be gentle. This was written late at night, and vodka was my beta so I sincerely apologize for any mistakes.
I was very disappointed in 'Honor Among Thieves' and just had to make it better. If your curious as to why I didn't like it, see my note at the end...
Major Spoilers for 'Honor Among Thieves' and everything prior to that...
What He Wanted
"...but if there's anyone that can find a way to get whatever he wants, it's Neal."
Peter had barely spoke the words aloud when there was a knock at the front door.
The couple exchanged a knowing glance and El was torn between a frown and a smile. There was no question as to who had come to visit.
Peter stood and walked to the door, shushing an excited Satchmo.
He took a breath to steady himself, and pulled the door open.
Neal Caffrey was leaning against the door frame and seemed shocked that it was suddenly opened.
Peter was startled out of his 'angry for bothering me at home' expression by how out of character his CI appeared. The normally suave, and impeccably dressed man was wrinkled and stained with his hair sticking up in all directions.
Neal blinked at him and then shook his head.
"Peter, I lied to you," he confessed, as if it was some dark desperate secret he'd been holding onto.
The breath that accompanied those words reeked of alcohol and Peter looked up to the sky as if praying for patience. He was so tired.
"In," he commanded, grabbing Neal's arm and pulling him into the house.
He shoved his CI toward the couch and turned to close the and lock the door.
"C'mon Satch," El called, getting to her feet and picking up her wine glass.
She patted Neal's knee as he settled in her vacated spot and then kissed Peter's cheek.
"I'll be upstairs," she said, though her eyebrow lifted in a question.
Translation: Do you want me to stay?
Peter shook his head and kissed her lips.
"I'll be fine. Don't wait up for me though," he murmured quietly.
With a whispered, "I love you." El climbed the stairs, ushering the dog in front of her.
Peter stared after her longingly. He wanted to ask her to stay, but didn't want to drag her into another mess with Neal.
His eyes moved to the couch where Neal was slouched, staring at his clasped hands.
Feeling Peter's gaze, the young man looked up with a serious expression on his face.
"I'm not drunk."
Peter didn't say anything.
"I'm not... I did drink, but I'm not drunk," he insisted.
Peter let a full minute pass before he broke the silence.
"You lied to me?" he asked in an attempt to get Neal to reveal his reasons for coming over so late.
Blue eyes shifted to the floor, and the young man reached into the pocket of his jacket. His hand shook as he took out the flash drive and set it on the coffee table.
Peter looked at it, but made no move to pick it up.
"What's on it?"
"I don't know. I couldn't... this isn't what I want!" He shouted the last part and hit his fist on the table.
Peter blinked but stayed still.
"What you want? You mean to tell me you came over here drunk and upset because you didn't get what you wanted?" The quiet, controlled rage in Peter's voice had Neal looking up at him in fear.
"You lied to me. You played me. This was all a long-con so you could get your hands on that drive. I really hope that whatever is on that thing is worth destroying every last shred of trust I have in you..."
Neal jumped to his feet and ran at him.
Peter braced himself for the blow. A punch, slap, hit, but it didn't come. Instead, Neal had fallen to his knees and wrapped his arms around Peter's legs. His entire body was shaking with barely suppressed sobs.
"P-please, don't... Send me back to prison if you have to, b-but don't do that. Don't take your trust away f-from me," he begged.
It was shock that held Peter's tongue this time and allowed the 'not-drunk' CI to ramble on.
"I wanted to tell you... I should have told you, but all I could think about was getting the drive. I told Moz we had to do it your way, but it didn't work your way. It had to be done, Peter, it was for Ellen! I loved Ellen, she was my... my... My mother wasn't very... and Ellen always made sure...I loved her, Peter. So, I did it my way, the wrong way and it worked! And I should feel happy, but all I can think about is that you did exactly what I knew you'd do. You always do. And I don't deserve that."
And then Neal was gasping and on the verge of hyperventilating.
Peter firmly, but gently pushed Neal back and knelt on the floor in front of him.
"Breathe, Neal. Put your head between your knees," he ordered, rubbing Neal's neck and back in an effort to relax him.
It took a few minutes, but Neal finally calmed down enough for Peter to get him back onto the couch. He walked to the kitchen to get his CI a glass of water, his head spinning over Neal's words. Neal had been playing him just like he'd suspected. But the guilt over doing so had literally brought the man to his knees and Peter couldn't help but feel a pang of remorse.
This man struggling to get his emotions under control was not the same man that Peter had caught over six years ago. And yet through this entire case, he had been treating Neal as if he was. As if everything the two of them had been through together had meant nothing. Words he had once spoken on Neal's behalf suddenly came back to haunt him.
"As long as we treat Neal like a criminal, he'll always think that he is one."
The shame was nearly overwhelming as Peter realized that that was exactly what he'd been doing for the whole case. Neal behaved like a criminal, because Peter had treated him like he was one. It was just that simple. But Neal wasn't the same man he was before. And Peter had allowed himself to forget that he was grieving...
"Protect our boy."
It was the last thing Ellen had ever said to him.
"I'm sorry Ellen. I messed up, but I won't again. I promise," he whispered and walked back into the living room.
He handed Neal the glass of ice water.
"Sip it slow," he said and sat down beside him.
Neal obeyed and slowly inched closer until their shoulders were touching.
They were both quiet and still for a few minutes.
Peter cleared his throat.
"So, what was on the drive? Did it say anything about Sam?"
Neal looked at him, head tilted in confusion.
"I told you, I didn't look at it."
Peter raised a disbelieving eyebrow and Neal let out a sad sigh.
"I wasn't lying when I told you that your trust was more important to me than whatever is on that drive. At the time I told you that, I thought I was lying, but I wasn't. And that's why I started drinking."
Peter narrowed his eyes, not quite willing to let Neal off so easy.
"I've seen you polish off an entire bottle of wine, it never affects you like this," he pointed out and Neal grimaced.
"Mozzie drank all my wine, and all June had was vodka..."
Peter chuckled in spite of himself and stood up, but Neal grabbed his arm and yanked him back down.
"Where are you going?" He demanded fearfully.
"Uh, to bed," Peter said, taken aback.
"Wait a few minutes, please? I can't... I don't want to be alone right now."
Normally Peter had no trouble resisting Neal's puppy dog face, but it had been a long day for both of them. Besides, Peter really did not want Neal to start crying again...
So he nodded and settled back into the cushions. Neal kept a firm grasp on his arm, and after a moment leaned his head onto Peter's shoulder.
Something inside Peter's chest seemed to ease at the show of affection. A sleepy sigh from the stairs alerted him to Elizabeth's presence. He should have known she wouldn't be able to stay away.
She mouthed, "I love you." when he caught her gaze, and Peter winked at her.
"I had a nightmare," Neal said, suddenly, recapturing Peter's attention.
The CI was staring at the flash drive.
Peter looked down at the hand wrapped around his arm and covered it with his own, but stayed quiet.
"In my dream, it wasn't Ellen they were putting in the ambulance, it was you. It was your funeral and your grave."
Neal was crying again, more softly this time.
"That's why I drank the vodka. I just couldn't... face it. As much as I loved Ellen... Peter, I can't even think about you dy-..." he broke off and swallowed.
"If anything happened to you, I don't think I could live with it," he finished, and buried his face into Peter's sleeve.
Peter's own eyes were filling with tears when he lifted them to meet El's. She had silent tears already running down her cheeks as she watched them.
"It's okay, Neal. We'll look at the flash drive tomorrow and figure out how to find Sam. I promise, I'll help you. And, if my way doesn't work, then...
"...then we'll do it your way. But we'll do it together. No more secrets or hiding things."
Neal nodded, and then started laughing.
"What? What's so funny?" Peter asked, unable to stop his own lips from twitching at the abrupt change in emotion.
"I got what I wanted!" Neal crowed and then dissolved into giggles.
El snorted and got up from her spot on the stairs, wiping the tears off her cheeks with the back of her hand she blew Peter a kiss and headed up to bed.
Peter decided to stay where he was until Neal fell asleep, but exhaustion soon won out.
The next morning El was able to take a new picture that she placed next to the 'prom' picture.
A/N: So, yeah. During the episode I was yelling at Neal the whole time to 'go to Peter, damnit!' I was mad that Neal was acting so out of character...And I was kinda on Peter's side at the end, but then I started really thinking about it.
Neal wasn't the one acting out of character here, it was Peter. It was as if suddenly everything he'd done for Neal meant nothing. Yeah, Neal messed up, but then he was grieving for the woman he held in higher esteem than his own mother! Is it really that shocking for him to 'act-out'? Especially with Mozzie acting as the devil on his shoulder. What the hell, Moz? And El! She should have defended Neal to Peter! The three people Neal cares about the most, and they don't even try to understand what he's going through. Very disappointing. :(
I really hope future episode this season have better writing for the characters. You can't make them change so fundamentally after three seasons just to keep the whole 'trust-issue' between Neal and Peter alive. Really, after the season premiere, the relationship between Neal and Peter has been established as solid. If they need to add 'struggles' to make the show interesting it needs to happen outside of that relationship...
Okay, sorry for the rant. Vodka and I are going to bed now. :D