A/N: Set during S4, post-Ellen.
They aren't kid people. They were young professionals, and now they're middle-aged professionals, and perhaps one day, they will be retired professionals. Not kid people, though. Never kid people.
Not even now, Elizabeth thinks, tugging the shoe off the foot of a sleeping Neal Caffrey with as gentle a hand as she can manage. Not even now, when she's doing kid people things, is she a kid person.
"El?" Peter's voice is a whisper coming from the threshold of the bedroom.
What are you doing? Elizabeth hears in his voice. "You said she was like his mother," she says softly.
Neal isn't a kid, but his face is young and sticky with dry tears. A fresh one slips from his eye as he whimpers in a strained and sedated sleep.
"She was," Peter says, the sudden rush of understanding filling two small words.
"You said she was like his mother and now she's all gone," Elizabeth says, more to herself than to Peter, and she sets the shoe on the ground next to its fellow, lightly shifts Neal's foot from her lap to the bed. Neal isn't a kid, isn't much younger than Elizabeth, in fact, but it doesn't matter. She's seen the way her husband looks at him.
Peter leaves, and comes back with a blanket, drapes it over Neal's body with a tenderness usually reserved for Elizabeth herself. He's tall and strong and is still entangled in an outdated sense of masculinity. He struggles sometimes to emote, to talk, but not to linger. He lingers now, trails a coarse finger down the younger man's cheek, attempting to cure that new tear of the oft-terrible disease known as Existence.
Peter looks at Neal like the conman has the tiniest fingers in the history of the world, small transcendental things that push their way through his chest and poke at his heart, leave little indents there that never fade.
If he were a kid person, Elizabeth thinks, as she has thought before, this would be his kid.
All the heartache and headache, and maybe Neal doesn't run giggling from baths, but he sure as hell runs giggling from the law, and that's good enough for Peter. Peter's never been a man to mind a little mess as long as it's a smart mess.
"But we're still here." The words are barely a breath out of Peter's mouth, and it's still beautiful. It will always be beautiful the way he says what she thinks.