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[personal profile] coffeethyme4me
Title: The Shelter of His Arms
Author: [personal profile] coffeethyme4me
Pairing: Peter/Neal (pre-slash)
Rating: PG-13
Warnings/Enticements: angst, nudity
Words: 840
Spoilers: Judgment Day
Prompt: I asked for prompts for ficlets from [personal profile] elrhiarhodan, because I was feeling blue. She never disappoints. The title is the prompt.

The Mediterranean couldn’t get any bluer. The air no fresher. The drinks were potent, and the life was good.

It should have been good.

It wasn’t good.

It wasn’t good at all.

Neal hadn’t shaved in days. He’d hardly eaten. His sleep was disturbed.

Peter had set him free. Peter had thrown him to the coastal winds. And Neal was lost.

Three months. It had been three months.

No phone calls. No notes.

No more double finger point.

No more lunches or all-nighters or home invasions.

Neal had no home.

He sipped his drink, unhurried. There was no hurry to his life anymore. There was no running from Peter. There was no running toward a burning plane. There was no pressure to be good or get good or do good.

There was no more tracker, no more reason to stay.

Except Peter.

There would always be Peter.

There would have been Peter.

If Peter hadn’t told him to run.

Neal had run. He’d run far and fast, and he hadn’t looked back.

He had looked back. He looked back every night in his dreams.

He looked back on the life he could have had, for which there was no trace left now. He looked back on what almost was – Peter’s eyes telling him that he was more than a con. More than a CI.

More than a partner.

More than a friend.

They’d come so close. So close.

And after all they’d been through, to have it swept away just like that…

Neal had awakened more than one night since he’d arrived here in a cold sweat. He’d awakened in the last tremors of orgasm. He’d awakened on the verge of tears – of a scream.

He waked running.

But not running away.

Running toward.

Toward Peter.

Into the circle of his waiting arms.

Neal knocked back the last of his drink as the sun went down. The waves softened in the hush of light. There was a time once when he would have painted as fast as he could to capture that. Now, he could hardly bother to drag himself to bed.

But he did. He brushed his teeth, felt his graying scratch of beard with a weary hand, and then stripped down to nothing and curled into a ball under the sheet.

He got up at one and took a pill to help, because it was another of those nights when he knew he wouldn’t sleep otherwise. It took him down past dreams. It took him out of his life and far away into nothing for a while.

What woke him wasn’t the brightness of the sun, though it was bright, and Neal winced at how it shot through the sheers, already blowing in the breeze. What woke him wasn’t his alarm, which he normally set to noon, just in case the sleeping pill knocked him out that bad. What woke him wasn’t a nightmare or the smell of the sea or anything that usually woke him these days.

What woke him was the timber of his voice:

“Hey, sleepyhead.”

Neal inhaled, thinking that voice a dream. He rubbed his eyes. He opened them and searched the room.

His silhouette filled the door, dense and looming. Neal’s lips parted, but no sound came out.

The man walked toward him, to the side of the bed. He smelled like Peter. Neal felt himself shudder even before he felt the tears fill his eyes and spill over.

“Peter?” He could hardly hear his own voice. He realized he was naked and pulled the sheet up from his hips to his waist, even though the only thing he wanted to do was climb him – just get out of the bed and, like his dreams, run into his arms and be held.

Peter walked into the light, and Neal really saw him for the first time. Neal gasped. Because Peter was beautiful – smiling. Real and present.

Peter was HERE.


And Peter didn’t make him run; he came to Neal. He sat on the bed and pulled Neal into his arms hard. Neal felt Peter’s warm hands on his bare back, pulling him close with no inhibitions, no hesitation. The sheet slipped, and it didn’t matter. Peter held him anyway. Neal hid his face in Peter’s neck, trying to block out the light, to block out the last three months and feel, hear, smell, breathe only Peter Burke.

“What are you doing here?” he had to ask. But Peter shushed him.

“Not yet. Just let me feel you,” Peter said.

Let me feel you. Words Neal never expected to hear. Not ever.

And he knew, whatever the reason that he might be here now – that he might have to go again, that it would be all right. That now, no matter what, he’d survive. Even if after today it was another three months.

Peter was here. Peter held him so close, their hearts beating against one another. Peter was breathing into his hair.

And Neal was caught, secure, in the shelter of Peter’s arms once more.

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