Neal slammed the phone down and rubbed a hand over his face.
"Neal, what did the doctor say?" The ex-con looked at his friend and then shook his head in disbelief. "He won't tell me over the phone. I have an appointment tomorrow and he told me not to come alone."
Mozzie hissed. "That doesn't sound good" he quietly remarked.
Neal lowered his head into his hands and took a couple of deep calming breaths.
"Are you going to tell the suit?"
"Tell him what?" Neal countered, a little too harshly. "It's not like I know anything yet."
"Does he know you went to a doctor?" Mozzie asked evenly, placing his wine glass on the counter.
"No." Neal shrugged. "He knows I haven't been feeling well but he assumed it was because of Ellen's death."
"I think you need to tell him."
Neal glanced up. "You don't want to go with me, do you?"
Mozzie looked away.
"Fine, I'll go by myself." Neal stood and stared out the window.
"Neal, tell Peter or I will." Mozzie neared his friend. "I'm good at a lot of things but this..." he held his hands outward. "This I'm not. Sorry."
"You think it's bad?"
"I don't know. Call Peter."
"Not over the phone" Neal continued. He grabbed his coat and hat.
"Neal, you'll call me tomorrow?"
"Yeah" Neal mumbled as he walked out.
"Neal, what are you doing here?" Peter asked, surprised to see his partner at his front door. "Do you want to come in?" Peter stepped aside and allowed Neal room to enter.
"Neal?" Peter prompted as the younger man remained silent. "Is something wrong?"
"I don't know" Neal answered so quietly that Peter barely heard. But his body language spoke volumes as Peter guided him towards the sofa.
"Sit before you fall." Peter gently pushed him down. "Now tell me what's wrong." Peter grabbed a chair and sat.
"I'm not sure" Neal admitted as he refused to make eye contact.
"Neal, stop beating around the bush and talk to me." Peters' tone was commanding but gentle as he placed a hand on the younger man's leg. "Did you find something on the flash drive?"
Neal stared at him, momentarily confused. "No. Not that."
"I went to a doctor..."
"You've been feeling that bad?"
"Why didn't you say something?" Peter stood. "What did they tell you?"
"Nothing" Neal quietly admitted as he clasped his hands together. "I have to go in tomorrow and they told me not to come alone. Peter, it has to be bad."
"Hey. Look at me!"
Neal looked up and it didn't take a genius to see how scared he was.
"Don't think like that. It might be nothing." Peter looked away, unable to handle his partner's pain. "Do you want me to go with you?"
Peter turned when his question was greeted with silence.
"Neal!" Peter sat down and grabbed Neal by the shoulders. "Look at me. Please."
Neal blinked away the tears without success. He swiped at them haphazardly before meeting Peter's gaze.
"Do you want me to go with you?" Peter asked again as he cupped the younger man's neck with a gentle squeeze.
"OK." Peter rested his hand on Neal's head, "You're staying here tonight." It wasn't a question and Neal was thankful he didn't have to move. He sat motionless as Peter walked away and returned a few minutes later with a t-shirt and sweatpants. "They're clean" he remarked as he dropped them in Neal's lap. He turned and allowed Neal the privacy he needed to change.
"What about work?" Neal asked as he carefully folded his clothing and placed them in a pile on the floor.
"I'll call Hughes. Tell him we need tomorrow off."
"That's not what I meant."
Neal leaned back and crossed his arms, guarding against the sudden chill. He didn't complain when a blanket was draped over him.
"Neal, don't worry about the job" Peter said as he settled next to his partner.
"But if I can't work..."
"Stop!" Peter reached over and adjusted the blanket, allowing his hand to linger on Neal's arm. "You're not going back to jail, I promise." Gently he squeezed Neal's arm. "Understand?"
Neal nodded his answer as he fidgeted and tried to get comfortable.
"How do you feel right now?"
"Tired" Neal admitted as he briefly closed his eyes. It was that feeling that never seemed to let up, that finally persuaded Neal to see a doctor.
"Neal, it could be anything."
"No it can't. Anything not serious and he would have told me."
"Maybe he wants your co-pay" Peter interjected with a slight chuckle.
"Maybe he wants to see my face when he tells me I'm dying."
"Sorry." Neal pulled his legs up and curled up into himself.
"Are you hungry? There's leftovers from dinner."
"No. Where's Elizabeth?"
"She's meeting a client. She'll be home soon."
"Are you going to tell her?"
"Do you want me to?"
"Up to you" Neal whispered as he glanced over at his partner. "I hate small talk and it doesn't help."
Peter smiled. "I know.
"You can put the game on."
Peter quickly snatched up the remote and turned the TV on.
"Do you believe in karma?" Neal asked a few minutes later.
"Neal, you are not being punished for your past crimes" Peter remarked with a shake of his head and a roll of his eyes.
"That wasn't the question."
"No, I don't" Peter answered emphatically.
"I do" Neal countered, as he tossed the blanket to the floor.
"Are you hot?"
"No. Bored." Neal leaned forward and rested his chin in his hands as he eyed the baseball game.
"Idle minds" Peter mumbled as he walked over to the desk and pulled out a deck of cards.
"Pick the game." Peter pulled the cocktail table near them and placed the cards down.
"War" Neal said as he perked up and started shuffling.