oper_1895: Neal Caffrey in a suit. (Default)
[personal profile] oper_1895
Title: Conversations in the Dark
Author: oper_1895
Fandom: White Collar
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Peter/Elizabeth/Neal
Words: ~1000
Spoilers: None
Contains: References to kidnapping and associated abuse. References to kink.
Notes: For Ivorysilk who requested "I would like a conversation between Peter and Elizabeth, set during "Put Away Wet"."
Summary: Peter feels guilty, Elizabeth helps make things right, and Neal just wants someone to cuddle with.


It was well past midnight when Peter and Elizabeth finally got Neal up the stairs and tucked into bed. He must have been exhausted, Elizabeth realized, as he never quite woke up when they nudged him off the couch and chivvied him up the stairs. It only took a minute for him to fall back asleep once he was tucked into the bed with the duvet pulled up tight around his chin. Elizabeth waited for Peter to come back, soothing Neal into deeper sleep. Peter had wanted to get cleaned up before bed, but it had been 20 minutes since she heard the shower turn off.

When she went to investigate, Elizabeth found Peter in the bathroom, staring at his reflection in the mirror. He looked tired and haggard.

“Hey.” Elizabeth tucked herself under Peter’s arm. He automatically tightened his hold, tugging her in closer. He pressed an distracted kiss into her hair.

“Is Neal asleep?” Peter asked.

“Out light a light.” She felt a fond smile on her face. “Come to bed with us?”

Peter balked. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea right now.”

So he wasn‘t just dawdling. That meant it was her turn now. Elizabeth couldn’t go running off after the bad guys out in the world, but she could, and would, go up against the things that followed her men home. “What’s wrong, honey?”

Peter pulled away and sighed. “It was- they kept him chained up. I don‘t think they really fed him. I know he barely slept, and it took me 2 weeks to find him.”

The guilt was heavy in Peter‘s voice, but Elizabeth suspected that wasn‘t the only thing weighing on his mind. The timelines of a kidnapping were unfortunately familiar for Peter and that wouldn‘t keep him from his bed.

“But you did find him.” Elizabeth nudged him, trying to draw out the thing that was actually bothering him.

“After he practically drew me a map.”

“That just means that he knew that you knew him well enough to pick up the clues he left. He trusted you and you came through for him.”

Leaning up against Peter’s side she could feel him tense. So she was getting closer.

“You kept him safe and got him out of there. No one could expect more. You did good, Peter.”

He hummed in response, unconvinced.

“So what is it really?”

Peter pulled her into a hug, resting his head against hers so she couldn‘t see his face. She pressed herself closer and let him hide; sometimes it was easier to speak in the dark. “He was on the edge, and I didn’t know how long it would take before backup arrived. He was desperate for anything to cling to, so when he suggested it, what could I do?”

“What did you do?” This was it. She didn’t know the details of what happened in the warehouse, she didn’t really want to know the details unless they needed to tell her. It sounded like Peter needed to tell her.

“I asked if it would be so bad if they were my chains. I turned it into a scene. He’d been abused and half-starved and I told him that they were my chains.”

“Did it work?” Elizabeth was hesitant to ask, but that would determine how this would work.

“Yeah, it worked. He settled right down. But that was why he called red in the hospital. That’s why he’s been so clingy today. It’s all gone screwy.”

“Oh, honey.” Elizabeth rubbed her cheek against Peter‘s chest. “He asked, you gave. You couldn’t know how it was going to turn out, and you can‘t know that this is worse than not doing anything. You did everything you could.”

“I know. I just wish I knew what was the right thing.”

And there it was. Did he abuse his power? Did he screw up the delicate balance they had in their relationship? Did he ruin their games by making it too real? The only way to get answers was to talk it out, and that would have to wait until Neal was ready for it .

So while there was nothing Elizabeth could do to fix things right now, she knew that just voicing the doubt had dulled some of its power. It was ultimately just a matter of time. She knew that, and she knew that Peter knew that. But that didn’t mean that they didn’t also want someone to tell them what was right, and how to fix it if they were wrong, but it wasn’t like this was the kind of thing that came up in advice columns. She snorted, inappropriately struck by the strangeness of their situation.

Peter pulled back, curious. “What?”

“No, just, our lives now, who would have ever thought that this would be how our things would turn out.” Elizabeth shook her head, brushing away the ridiculousness.

Peter grinned. “Not exactly a Dear Abby kinda lifestyle.”

“Dear Abby: My husband and I have been in a long-term kinky relationship with our asexual paroled felon…”

Peter grinned along with her, amused despite himself.

Elizabeth leaned up to kiss the quirk of Peter’s lips. “Trust Neal to know what he needs. He‘ll let us know what‘s important.”

Peter tangled his hands into her hair, pulled her closer, and whispered his thanks against her lips.

He pulled back at the sound of footsteps in the hallway. They looked up to see a dishevelled Neal blinking sleepily in the doorway, his arms wrapped tight around his torso. He shuffled forward until he was butted up against Peter and Elizabeth.

“What are you doing up?” Elizabeth asked, concerned. She brushed the mussed hair out of his eyes to better read his expression.

“I woke up and I was all alone.” Neal didn’t sound upset, just pouty. Elziabeth relaxed. She ruffled Neal’s hair and caught Peter‘s eye with a significant look; See, Neal will let us know what he needs.

Peter nodded and straightened. “That’s easily fixed. Let‘s get you back to bed.” He wrapped an arm around Neal’s shoulders and Neal leaned into his strength. Watching the two of them, Elizabeth knew that this would all work out, somehow.


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Date: 2010-12-25 04:32 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh, this was awesome, and a fantastic Xmas gift--thank you so much! I hope you have a wonderful holiday!!!! (yes, I was impatient and read it early, but thank you!)

Date: 2010-12-26 01:30 am (UTC)
yamx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yamx
Aw, this is wonderful. And of course it will work out. Neal will just need *more* Peter for a while, not less. *nods* But it#s good to see that Peter cares enough/takes this seriously enough to sometimes doubt himself.

Date: 2011-01-09 05:02 am (UTC)
sahiya: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sahiya
I love how mature and responsible they all are, even in their more screwed-up moments. Thank you for this!

Date: 2011-01-09 11:28 pm (UTC)
jrosemary: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jrosemary
What a gorgeous companion piece! I love Peter's concern, but I also love that Neal proved to be more resilient than Peter realized.

Date: 2011-05-04 04:34 am (UTC)
china_shop: Neal, Peter and Elizabeth smiling (Default)
From: [personal profile] china_shop
*smishes them all sooo much* (I especially love Neal sounding pouty, rather than upset.)

Date: 2011-06-17 01:30 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"She pressed herself closer and let him hide; sometimes it was easier to speak in the dark." Elizabeth is so insightful.

And aw, Pouty!Neal - adorable. *smooshes him*


Date: 2013-01-05 10:57 pm (UTC)
lauracollared: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lauracollared
This series is WONDERFUL. I am so glad someone asked about it on wcstoryfinder and now I got to read it! Amazing job.


oper_1895: Neal Caffrey in a suit. (Default)

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