Fandom: White Collar
Word Count: 1,282
Beta Credit: elrhiarhodan
Summary: Canary Peter throws caution to the wind after meeting canary Neal
Author’s Notes – Written for kanarek13 for her birthday. The birds in the pictures are actually her canaries. Peter is played by Phillip and Neal is played by Marcel, and the story is based on true behavior of those two birds.
This also fills my animal transformation square in trope bingo.
Peter was having a good morning. He’d woken up well rested, the sun was shining and he’d had an apple and some granola for breakfast. Straightening his appearance, he headed out to start his day.
Stop one was the perch by the window. Miss Elizabeth had put it there for them to see the outdoors. Diana and Clinton always kept moaning about how they wanted to ‘feel the fresh air on their wings’ and ‘smell the flowers’, but Peter was content to just look out at the world. He had no desire to step any further than the glass panes.
He greeted Diana and Clinton and commented on how nice they looked. “So what’s on your schedule today?” he asked.
“Clinton and I plan on flying around the living room,” Diana replied as she continued preening. “Miss Elizabeth left some birdseed on the table for us.”
“You should come and join us, Peter,” Clinton urged him. “It’s so much fun to see what surprises she’s left out.”
“Nah, I’m fine. I’ll just hang out here in the cage. You guys go have fun.”
“You sure?” Diana tilted her head. “It’s lots of fun….”
“I’m sure. You guys go.” He watched as they walked to the open cage door and flew out into the vast space of the living room. He sighed. Some days he wished he had the courage to follow them.
They always came back with wonderful stories about what they’d seen in other rooms of the apartment. A jungle of flowers in what Miss Elizabeth called the ‘kitchen’, little snacks that she’d left around for them to find. Even a big white pond that had water in it. Clinton and Diana came back all clean and chattering about how much fun they’d had swimming. Peter sighed again and went back to looking out the window.
Miss Elizabeth came home in a bustle of bags, coats and lightly scented perfume. Peter always liked the way she smelled.
“Hello, darlings.” She called out to them as she took off her coats. “Where are you?”
Peter chirped. “Right here.” Diana and Clinton called from the other room.
“Okay travelers, time for dinner.” Peter saw her walk into the dining room and come back with Clinton and Diana perched on her shoulders. “I’ve got some strawberries for you fresh, from the farmer’s market.” She set them on top of the cage and headed to the kitchen.
“Ohh, strawberries!” Diana shivered in anticipation. “I love strawberry seeds!”
Peter did too. They were delicious – the juice of the berry mixing with the crunchiness of the seeds was one of his favorite treats.
“Here you go.” Miss Elizabeth returned with several small containers of strawberries – one of each of them so they wouldn’t have to fight. She gave Diana and Clinton theirs but held onto Peter’s.
“Peter,” she coaxed him onto her finger. “I have a special surprise for you.” Peter scurried up her arm and nestled into her hair. It made him feel safe whenever she took him too far from the cage. He chirruped uneasily, but thankfully she only stepped as far as the little table next to the cage. “Here’s your fruit.”
She placed Peter and the dish down on the table. He started nibbling on the berry, but watched her as she walked over to the table by the door. He wondered what sort of surprise she might have. Apples maybe? He hoped so. He loved apples.
She returned with a small travel cage. “Peter, this is Neal. I got him for you for company.” Miss Elizabeth opened the cage. Peter stopped eating and stared. Inside was the most beautiful bird he had ever laid eyes on. Rich auburn head feathers, a golden bib, deep, dark eyes. Neal hopped out of the cage and tilted his head, looking at Peter. His deep russet feathers shining in the afternoon light. Taking a step forward, Neal dipped his head and smiled.
Peter was speechless. And in love.
“C’mon, Peter! It’ll be fun! Don’t you want to go flying with me?” Neal scooted closer to Peter and ran his beak through Peter’s neck feathers. Peter shivered. Whenever Neal did that it stirred strange feelings inside him and made him want to do that back and more.
Peter knew it was Neal’s way of getting him to experience things he wasn’t comfortable doing. In the week Neal had been here, Peter had tried things that he never would have thought he’d be able to do.
It started with sitting on top of the cage. Neal had coaxed him to climb up, promising him a wonderful view. He was right. They sat on top of the cage in the late evening, watching the sun set over Miss Elizabeth’s balcony garden. Neal had sidled up to him, pressing his body against Peter’s as the dusk changed to night and the city lights winked on their display. It was one of the prettiest things he’d ever seen.
Neal then convinced him that flying over to the small table where they’d met was a splendid way to celebrate their one-week anniversary. Peter didn’t even know they had an anniversary, but when they landed on the table, Neal presented him with a bit of apple that he’d saved from the day before. They took turns nibbling and when their beaks brushed occasionally, Peter got that warm feeling inside again.
Now Neal was trying to get him to fly into the kitchen and visit the jungle that Diana and Clinton had talked about.
“I don’t know, Neal. It’s awfully far from the cage…” Peter stepped away so he could clear his head. “I’m not sure…”
“It’s wonderful, Peter,” Neal chirped excitedly. “Lots of places to perch. Please?” Neal blinked at him. “Please, Peter?” He posed, his red feathers glowing ruby red in the sunshine. Peter was speechless at Neal’s beauty. His joy of just being. He made Peter feel strong and brave and want to do things just to see Neal happy.
“Okay. Yes. Let’s do this!” Peter decided to go before he backed out. Climbing out of the cage, he launched himself into the air, Neal’s laughter right behind him.
It was exhilarating. Peter flew, his wings flapping as he made a circlet of the living room before heading to the kitchen. Neal was on his wingtip, keeping up with him and calling encouragement as they glided through the doorway and landed in a stand of deep green plants.
Peter was in awe of all the lush foliage. Some were taller than him, stretching up, up. Others tiny and newly budded. Flowers in pinks, purples, reds, yellows. He shook his head, amazed at the beauty of it all and how he’d let himself miss it. Never again. He turned to Neal, his eyes bright.
“Well?” Neal looked anxious. “Do you like it?”
“I love it, Neal. Thank you…for everything.” Peter moved closer to Neal and ran his beak through Neal’s feathers, just like Neal had done earlier. “Thank you for taking me out of my cage.”
Neal touched Peter’s beak with his. “Always, Peter. I’ll always fly with you.”
They sat next to each other for a while, Peter enjoying their closeness. The shadows began to lengthen as dusk set in. “Ready to go back?” Peter asked. “I think the sun’s about to set and I don’t want to miss the view.”
“Bet you can’t catch me,” Neal replied with a grin, hopping to the edge of the planter, extending his wings and swooping off into the air.
“I’ll always catch you, Neal!” Peter called as he followed him back to the top of the cage to watch the glow of the city decorate the night.