Epilogue: If You Get Up One More Time Than You Fall You Will Make It Through
Neal groped around for the overhead grab handle, as the Taurus slammed to a stop again. He bit back a curse as he tried to lessen his being tossed around in the car.
"Eyes on the road, please. I am begging you Peter."
"I don't know why you get stressed out so much whenever we are in the car together Neal. There is nothing wrong with my driving. Seriously, why don't you talk to Mozzie about some meditation techniques? He's into all then Zen stuff."
The car lurched some more and Neal sucked in his breath. "There is nothing wrong with my Chi. It's your driving that needs work."
Peter just rolled his eyes. City driving was always a constant stop and start, and if Neal didn't like it, he could walk. "Ender doesn't mind my driving… Do you?" He looked in the rear view mirror at the little boy sitting in the back seat. The kid was clutching on to a stuffed animal, and had his thumb in his mouth. He didn't answer, except to meet Peter's eyes in the mirror and suck harder on his thumb.
"He's sucking his thumb Peter. He's stressed out and so am I."
"No he's not. It's New York traffic Neal. If you don't like my driving, next time pay for a taxi. In the mean time quit complaining."
Neal sat back and folded his arms. "Most new parents drive like they have a car full of crystal."
"He's fine. I don't know what you're whining about. But may be you should begin sucking your thumb, so you'll shut up." Peter threw up his hands and the Taurus lurched to a stop again.
It had been three months since they found the first piece of origami at the MOMA. Rebecca and Harold Martin, and Franklin Butler were all in jail awaiting final sentencing. In light of the overwhelming evidence against them, all three were taking plea agreements. In exchange for pleading out they would receive the option of parole in about forty years.
Peter thought the agreement was far too lenient considering one child was dead and they had attempted to murder five more. But the district attorney decided to offer some incentive to avoid going to trial and forcing the children to testify. With the hard evidence, a conviction wasn't a concern, but everyone was worried about the placing five vulnerable children on the stand.
Neal had been a bit disappointed there would be no trial, but as Peter had explained, most indictments ended with a plea agreement instead of a lengthy court battle. Drawn out court battles were so shows like Law and Order could get better ratings.
Yesterday Peter had learned that Emily and Jamie were both being considered for adoption by families in New York and the other two children were in stable foster homes and reunited with their siblings. In about another month he and El would finish signing the paperwork to make the adoption of Timothy official.
Although the kid still preferred his nickname, Peter was trying to get the kid's real name solidified in his head. He'd had to fill out enough paperwork using it. They had left the option of changing his last name up to Timothy and he still hadn't given them an answer yet. As much as Peter wanted Timothy to take their name, he didn't want to force the kid to give up the last tie he had to his biological parents.
It was strange to think he was now a parent. Peter looked at the kid in the rear view mirror again, but Timothy was just staring out the window, thumb still stuck in his mouth. Both Burkes noticed he did this constantly since they brought him home, but Timothy's therapist here in New York and El's father had insisted neither Peter nor El should try to forcefully break him of the habit. They had been assured multiple ties that as Timothy realised he was in a safe, stable environment, he would gradually stop the behaviour.
Peter hoped so, because he had checked on the actual cost of orthodontists the other day and nearly had a heart attack.
"Shou thoudn't thay thut up."
"What?" Peter turned around and the Taurus breaks suddenly screeched as the car jolted to a stop to avoid hitting the car in front.
Timothy pulled his thumb out of his mouth. "You shouldn't say shut up. It's not nice."
Neal began to laugh and then, at Peter's glare, choked on saliva trying to stop.
Peter looked in the mirror again. "You're right. I should have just told Neal to stop talking." He glared again and Neal mimed zipping his mouth closed.
The kid just stuck the thumb back in his mouth.
"You're going to make your thumb all wrinkly kiddo." Peter told him. A shrug was his only reply.
He shook his head and muttered. "Or I can just resign myself to the fact that our disposable income is now going to braces.
Neal chuckled. "See how much less expensive I am."
"Seriously. You're going to make this a competition now? Do you need El and I to adopt you to?" Peter asked. The agent almost found it funny, how Neal had spent the past couple weeks ensuring Peter how low maintenance he really was. Although Peter had to say it was not by much.
"Does that mean you'll spend your disposable income on me too?"
"Your teeth are already straight."
"The FBI only pays me 700 dollars a month." Neal whined. "The price of caviar has gone up 10% this month."
"Quit having such expensive tastes."
"If you adopt Neal he has to sleep on the floor." Ender had pulled his thumb out of his mouth to rejoin the conversation.
Neal turned around and grinned. "That's cruel. And I thought you liked me."
Ender shrugged again. "I do. That's why I'm letting you sleep outside, with Satchmo." Then he grinned.
"It's Peter's house." Neal told him.
"And Peter likes the idea." Peter added on.
Neal scowled. "And I thought I was your favourite?"
"You're my favourite consultant." Peter told him.
Neal's face lit up into a brilliant smile. "Which means you can have the Calloway report on my desk by the end of the day."
"Cruel," Neal muttered and slouched down in his seat.
A second later the Taurus slammed to a stop again.
"If you want that paperwork completed I actually have to arrive at the FBI alive." Neal groused.
"And if you complain about my driving again, you can walk." Peter replied.
"Can I walk?" Ender asked from the back.
"NO!" Came the unanimous response.
A/N: And that is the end of this story. Thank you so much to everyone who left reviews of support and suggestions. I've enjoyed hearing your comments, and am using them to improve as a writer! I am currently thinking about ideas for another story that will happen after this one, however it may be a little bit, because I want to plan out the basics so the story has a plot, details and good flow. I am also thinking about a series of shorts in this universe. Possibly on all the ways Neal, Mozzie and Ender can raise Peter's blood pressure. Or some cute little father/son/friendship stuff. Till next time wonderful readers!