Fandom: White Collar
Word Count: 1,516
Beta Credit: elrhiarhodan
Summary: Elizabeth has a bad day. The boys make it better.
A/N – This is for the lovely kanarek13 who is feeling poorly and needs cheering up.
Elizabeth hated rain. With a passion. She could deal with heat and snow but rain was her nemesis. It ruined her shoes, frizzed her hair, made Satchmo shake the droplets off his coat in the middle of her nice clean living room.
She was not a fan.
Which was why, after five hours of relentless traffic from DC, caught in a “storm of biblical proportions” according to some overly dramatic meteorologists, the fact that she couldn’t find a parking space near her house was not sitting well with her.
The Pederson’s were having a party and there were cars everywhere, taking up even the “resident’s only” spots. She’d driven around the block three times before a space opened up around the corner from the from her home. It wasn’t as close as she’d like, but it was the only spot available.
Elizabeth parked, turned off the engine and sighed. She could feel the start of a headache over the corner of her right eye. All she wanted to do was get home, change into comfy clothes and have a cup of tea while the two gorgeous men in her life catered to her every whim. Was that so wrong?
Smiling to herself, she knew what the reality would be when she opened the door. Peter would either be sprawled out on the couch watching a ball game or else pouring over files on the dining room table. Neal would be in the kitchen creating some masterpiece of gastronomical delight, sketching Peter as he worked or yelled at the television, or arguing with Mozzie whether Fauvism could be classified as an extreme development of Van Gogh’s Post-Impressionism fused with the pointillism of Seurat.
Elizabeth loved them and missed them and usually didn’t mind the controlled chaos that had become her life, just not tonight.
The pounding of the rain on the roof of the car drew her from her thoughts. As if it were possible, the weather was getting worse. She was going to have to brave the wet. Sighing again she turned to grab the umbrella from the back seat.
A clap of thunder startled a squeak out of her. Chuckling at her fright, she collected everything that she needed to take into the house. The suitcase could wait til tomorrow. She’d send Peter to move the car closer and bring it in.
Opening the car door, she quickly unfurled the umbrella over her head. Stepping out, she shut the door just in time as a medallion cab sped by and drenched her.
“Damn it!!” She was completely soaked. Thank God her computer case was waterproof. Wiping a soggy strand of hair out of her face, she made her way to the sidewalk, shivering as the wind picked up.
A hard gust turned her umbrella inside out, leaving her exposed to the elements. The wind whipped the rain sideways, hitting her bare skin with stinging droplets.
As Elizabeth fought with the umbrella, trying to fix it, the heel of her shoe slipped in between the sections of a sidewalk grate. Falling to her knees, she dropped her purse and her computer bag. She struggled to get up, one shoe broken, knees scraped and bleeding.
She gave up on the umbrella and left it lying on the sidewalk. Gathering up her belongings, she limped the rest of the way home.
The house was dark, no light streaming through the windows to welcome her home. Stumbling up the steps, she fumbled for her keys. Sliding one of them into the lock, she turned it and opened the outer door, practically falling in to the foyer.
Finally, she thought, wiping the rain from her face again. Almost home. Visions of a bubble bath, tea and sympathy put a tired smile on her face.
While the first door opened easily, the second was another matter. Her key made it into the lock but that was as far as it got. It wouldn’t turn, and no matter what she did, it wouldn’t come out.
Great. Peter had promised for months to fix the lock or replace it. Now she was stuck and the only way into the house would be to go back out into the deluge and walk to the back door.
Elizabeth leaned dejectedly against the wall, tears spilling from her eyes. She mentally berated Peter and Neal – they knew when she was coming home and if they had plans to be away they should have called her.
She wanted to throw a tantrum. Stomp her foot like a child. Slide down the wall sobbing like the heroines in the bodice-rippers that Mozzie liked to read.
Instead she twisted the key in the lock, trying to see if it would turn.
Elizabeth stared at the broken key in her hand. Now she was truly stuck. All the locks to the house were keyed the same so going around to the back was not an option anymore.
Her head fell against the door with a slight thump. She was done. She closed her eyes and felt the burn of leftover tears sting her lids. She wished she could start the day over and have it end differently.
Suddenly, she lost her balance and found herself pressed against something warm and solid.
“El?” Peter’s voice and arms wrapped around her, steadying her. “Hon, you’re soaked! Neal!”
He guided her into the darkened room. “Get some towels.” Dimly she registered Neal pounding up the stairs and returning quickly with the large towels from their bathroom.
Both men worked to get her out of her wet clothes, rubbing her skin dry as they went. Peter began toweling dry her hair as Neal wrapped her up in her warmest robe.
“C’mon, sit down. Neal, can you make some tea?”
“Sure thing.” Neal headed to the kitchen as Peter guided her to the sofa. Elizabeth winced as she sat, the bending aggravating the scrapes on her knees.
“Oh hon, you’re bleeding.”
“F-fell down.” A mix of cold and exhaustion caused her teeth to chatter.
“Tea’s almost ready.” Neal dropped gracefully in front of her, first aid kit and damp cloth in hand. Normally she would appreciate his position, but right now sex and romance were the farthest thing from her mind. “Let me take a look.”
His hands were soft on her wounds, cleaning them gently with the washrag. She only hissed a bit when he spread Neosporin on the scrapes and bandaged them up.
“What were you doing standing out there?” Peter tucked her under his arm while Neal went to put away the first aid kit.
“The…the key broke off in the lock…,” Elizabeth began before a shiver overtook her. “And… the house was dark...I thought neither of you were home…”
“That was my fault.” Neal returned, a mug of tea in his hand and rueful look on his face. “We wanted to surprise you with a romantic evening when you got home.”
He gestured to the room. The fireplace was lit, golden flames leaping and crackling. Their ice bucket was full, champagne chilling, three flutes next to it. Off to the side, a small fondue pot had slowly bubbling chocolate and a variety of sliced fruits on an accompanying plate.
At any other time it would have been lovely. Elizabeth took one look at it and burst into tears again.
“Hey now.” Neal quickly put the mug on the side table and slid in next to her. “C’mere.” He gathered her in his arms. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing…I’m sorry.” Elizabeth choked out the words as she turned to cry into Neal’s shoulder. She felt Peter guide her legs up into his lap and beginh massaging warmth into her feet. “It’s just…the day. The traffic, the weather, I got drenched by a cab.” She hiccupped. “Then I fell down and scraped my knees. But the worst was coming home and thinking that you two weren’t there.”
“Hon, we’ll always be here for you.” Peter lifted her hand and kissed the palm. “Especially on days like this.”
Neal pulled her in closer and smoothed her hair. “I’m sorry we made you think that we weren’t home.”
“And I’m sorry I didn’t get the door fixed sooner.” Peter squeezed her hand.
“It’s okay.” Finally Elizabeth felt herself truly relax. “Can I take a rain check on romance? Can we just be like this for now?”
“Absolutely.” Elizabeth heard the smile in Peter’s voice. She closed her eyes and let the sounds of the storm and the crackle of the fireplace wash over her.
They stayed like that for a while, Peter rubbing her feet, Neal caressing her hair, silent.
Quietly she heard Neal’s begin to sing, the melody soothing her until she fell asleep.
Time to close your eyes
And save these questions for another day
We think we know what you've been asking
We think you know what we’ve been trying to say
We promised we would never leave you
And you should always know
Wherever you may go
No matter where you are
We never will be far away