Fandom: White Collar
Word Count: 762
Beta Credit: elrhiarhodan
Warnings: Drug reaction
Summary: Neal is missing.
Author’s Notes – Written for palombaggia for the 3rd day of my 12 Days of Christmas Meme. She requested “Walls the Color of Tears – Peter/Neal”.
And thanks go out again to kanarek13 for her lovely art. She captured the essence of this piece!
Paint…have to paint…
Neal frantically mashed the sable brush into the acrylic palette, sweeping jagged swaths of crimson across the wall.
Blue, orange, purple, black – all smeared in an anguished pattern of sorrow and despair.
There was no rhyme or reason to the display. It was simply an outpouring of pain. He needed it. Needed to dull the grief. To block out the images of Peter’s body being thrown backwards from the force of the gunshot, his head hitting the ground, his arms and legs limp. Neal couldn’t face the truth, couldn’t look at the still form on the cement floor.
He’d needed to run, to escape, and where did he end up?
Back at the Burkes' house, feverishly trying to erase the image of Peter’s death from his brain.
He grabbed another brush, this time with burnt umber, trailing it across yellow and green, turning them into a muddy dull brown.
It was his fault. His fault that they had gotten caught up in this op-gone-wrong scenario. His fault that he’d overplayed the con and been taken prisoner. His fault that Peter had to come save him without any backup.
Desperately he threw colors on the wall, as if adding pigment would right his world and Peter would walk through the front door, smile on his face.
Paint….must paint… Wide streaks across the plaster, shapes created then destroyed, no method at all to the inner madness.
Neal slammed his hand against the wall, once, twice, breaking the brush and sending splashes of paint across the floor. “No!...Oh God, Peter, I’m so sorry…I killed you…”
The tears came in wracking sobs as he slid to the floor, curling up into himself. “I killed you…”
That was how Peter found him. Wedged into the crevasse between wall and floor, paint covering the torn and bloodied Armani suit, his hand pressed into the garish colors.
“Neal?” Gently he turned him over, checking for injuries. A cut on his forehead, dried blood crusting over it. Bruises where he’d been restrained. “Oh, Neal…”
Somehow in the chaos of the takedown, Neal had slipped away. Jones had been the first to notice – Peter was too busy arguing with the EMT that he was fine. He’d handed over the reins to Diana so he could search for Neal, finally coming home as a last resort.
Neal twitched, his eyes blinking open. He looked at Peter, his eyes glazed and unfocused. “Peter…?” He reached up to almost touch Peter’s jaw, then snatched his hand back, muttering, “No, no, no…”
Scrambling out of Peter’s grip, he stared at Peter, shock registering across his face.
Peter frowned. “Neal, are you okay?”
“No! You’re dead! I saw you die!” Neal shrank back against the wall, his palms rubbing color into his eye sockets, making him look like some demented clown. “You’re dead…,” he whispered.
“I’m right here, Neal.” Peter slowly stretched his hand out, like you would with a strange dog. “See…not dead. Right here.” Gently he touched Neal’s leg, letting his hand rest on Neal’s thigh when he flinched but didn’t move away.
“They shot you. In-in the chest. I saw you fall.” Neal wrapped his arms around himself and began to rock slightly.
‘True. But I was wearing my vest, so the worst that happened is that I’ll have a really ugly bruise for a while.”
“But I saw…”
“They drugged you, Neal,” Peter interrupted gently. “With what, we don’t know yet because they won’t tell us. But my guess is it made you susceptible to hallucinations and your mind played tricks on you when you saw them shoot me. Now that I’ve found you, I need to get you to a hospital so they can take a look at you.” Peter held out his hand, waiting for Neal to make the first move.
“Peter…” Neal launched himself into Peter’s arms, crying, the paint on his hands smearing over Peter’s suit. He held Neal until he calmed, murmuring nonsense words to soothe him.
“Ready?” he asked, once Neal’s breathing steadied.
“You won’t leave me while I’m there?” Neal begged.
“Not a chance.” He helped Neal up and wrapped an arm around his waist. As they walked out of the room, he glanced back at the wall.
Amid the whirlwind of angry hues he saw a spot in the center. Delicate blues mixed with mint green and pale lavender, shining like light through a stained glass window. In the eye of the hurricane of color was one simple word.
Smiling, he reached behind them and shut the door.