Fandom: White Collar
Word Count: 1,632
Summary: Neal and Peter find solace in the aftermath of the battle with Sam
Author’s Notes – Written for runthecon for pipilj’s prompt “Calm after the storm.” This is elrhiarhodan’s fault because whenever I brainstorm with her, her default setting is “Dragonverse? You’re gonna write more Dragonverse, right?” So this is for you, BB.
The title comes from Mumford and Sons “After the Storm.”
This timestamp takes place between the end scene and the epilogue of Here Be Dragons, my White Collar Big Bang from last year. It will make more sense if you read that story first.
I tag sinfulslasher with the prompt “On the edge of what felt safe.”
The storm was over. The early rays of the new day cast their beams through the fading thunderclouds, etching their grey tones with white gold streams.
Neal sat curled up in Peter’s bed in the same position that Peter had placed him in when he’d carried Neal from the wreckage of the main rooms. He was numb, the evening’s chaos whirling in his brain; images of blood, pain, and death making him physically ill.
He lurched up, dashing to the bathroom with moments to spare, expelling whatever was left in his stomach. Sinking down next to the porcelain, he flushed the toilet and wiped his mouth.
“Neal? You okay?” Peter’s voice was hesitant. Neal looked up to see him in the doorway, a sliver tray in his hands.
“Yeah, just…” Neal trailed off, not sure exactly what he was feeling. Relief? Sadness? Anger? He was still unsettled.
“Do you need help?” Peter put the tray on the bathroom counter and reached for him. Neal allowed himself to be pulled up and gathered into Peter’s arms.
Peter’s scent, the strength of his body, calmed the tumult that was Neal’s emotions. He sighed, sinking deeper into Peter’s embrace.
They stood there, silent, the light patter of the rain and the fading thunder the only sounds.
“I think I need to sit down again.” Neal felt wobbly and a bit lightheaded.
“Do I need to carry you?” Peter looked concerned. “I can do that if you need me to.”
Neal smiled at Peter’s tone – almost maternal – and shook his head. “No, just hold on to me so I don’t fall, okay?”
“I can do that,” Peter repeated and slowly guided Neal out of the bathroom and helped him back into the bed.
Neal settled back against the pillows and pulled the covers up around himself. Peter tucked him in like a parent would their child. Normally that would bother him, but after what had transpired that evening, it made him feel secure.
“I brought some tea, toast and water. Wasn’t sure if you would be hungry, but you need to hydrate.” Peter headed to the bathroom, returning with the tray. Placing it on the nightstand, he poured Neal a glass of water and gave it to him.
Neal drank, washing the sour taste out of his mouth. He glanced up at Peter who was standing next to the bed, looking like he didn’t quite know what to do with himself. Neal patted the bed next to him. “Sit down, you’re making me nervous.”
In a flash, Peter circled the bed and climbed in next to Neal. Again, Neal felt the warmth radiating off Peter’s skin and, like a flower to the sun, he gravitated to it, taking Peter’s arms and wrapping them around him.
He heard Peter’s sigh and felt his body relax as he tucked Neal closer to his body. His breath skimmed over Neal’s head and there was a quick bit of pressure as Peter kissed Neal’s temple.
“So…,” Neal began, then stopped. He really didn’t know what to say, where to begin.
Peter solved that issue by beginning to speak.
“We’re going to stay in here,” he started, his tone steady as though continuing a prior conversation. “I’ve called a – friend – who’s taking care of cleaning everything up.”
Peter paused and Neal knew he was thinking of the body sprawled on the living room floor. Sam’s body. Neal shivered, and Peter tightened his embrace.
“You won’t have to see it, Neal. I promise that everything will be gone when we leave this room.” He kissed Neal again, resting his lips against Neal’s hair. “We can change the entire space…redecorate…or move if you want to.”
Neal was speechless. He turned and looked at Peter in amazement. “You’d actually move from here?”
Peter smiled at him, his deep brown eyes filled with emotion. “If that’s what it would take to make you happy, I’d move to Antarctica. Of course, I’d have to square it with my uncle – he’s kind of particular about that patch of ice.”
Neal couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing. “Your uncle lives in Antarctica?”
“Yeah, Uncle Kelvin has a thing for cold.” Peter chuckled. “I went to visit him a while back and almost froze my tail off.”
“Speaking of tails…” Neal knew they needed to talk about Peter being a dragon. “Will I ever get to see yours?”
“Do you want to?” Peter’s tone was even, waiting for Neal’s answer.
“Very much.” Neal turned in Peter’s arms and cupped his face. “I want to know everything there is to know about my dragon.” He leaned in and gently kissed Peter. “After all, you have been courting me, right?”
Peter ducked his head and Neal saw the obvious blush steal over his features. “Yeah, it kind of just happened.” He looked sheepishly at Neal. “Diana noticed it. When we were looking at the stones in the vault.”
“So what else does a dragon do to court his – mate?” Neal tilted his head, questioning the term. Peter nodded, confirming that he’d chosen the correct word.
“Well, he builds them a home so they have shelter.” Peter smiled. “He makes sure that they have the choicest items to eat, and the softest bed to sleep on.”
“Mmmhmmm?” Neal closed his eyes and let Peter’s voice drift over him. “Is that all they do in the bed?”
“Oh no,” Peter leaned in and murmured low in Neal’s ear. “That’s only a small part of what they do in the bed. Nowhere near the best part.”
Neal shivered as Peter nuzzled the space behind his ear. “Care to show me?” he whispered back.
“I would love to.” Peter moved to lay them down on the bed and grimaced. “Fuck.”
“Peter, what’s wrong?” Neal saw that he was in obvious pain. “What’s the matter?”
“My shoulder.” Peter sat up. “I haven’t healed yet.”
“Oh God, why didn’t you tell me? Let me see.” Neal leaned to look over Peter’s shoulder and saw a bloody patch on his shirt. “Damn it, Peter. You should have gotten this looked at.” He knew his voice was sharp, but he couldn’t help it. Peter shouldn’t have let it go.
“You were more important,” Peter said simply. Neal saw the honesty radiating from his gaze and lost his anger.
“Okay, what do we need to do to heal you?”
“There’s a special concoction on the tray that will help speed the healing process.” Peter pointed to a small ceramic jar. “I’ll need to partially shift to have it applied. Do you mind doing that?” He looked uncertain. “I can go do it in the other room if you want.”
“No!” Neal was adamant. “Of course I’ll do it for you. You are my mate, after all.”
Peter’s eyes shown. “I love you so much,” he whispered. “How did I get so lucky?”
“Fate,” Neal replied with a grin. “Now take off your shirt and let me get you taken care of.”
He helped Peter ease off his shirt and examined the wound. It was raw and puffy and still bleeding slightly. “Oh Peter…”
“I was able to shift a bit to stop most of the bleeding.” Peter picked up the jar and handed it to Neal. “Just scoop some out and apply it when I tell you to.”
Peter closed his eyes and raised his head. At first it looked like nothing was happening, then Peter became – more was the only way Neal could describe it. He watched, mesmerized as Peter’s nostrils flared and his face shifted, angling. Neal couldn’t hold back a gasp as Peter’s eyes opened and he saw the color shift from deep brown to glowing gold.
“Now,” Peter rumbled and the glass on the nightstand vibrated.
Neal opened the jar and scooped out a handful of deep green salve. He could smell eucalyptus and honey and something that he couldn’t put his finger on.
Peter turned, presenting his shoulder to Neal. His skin was different now – the rich browns and russets of dragonskin instead of the pale by comparison flesh of a human. Neal rubbed the medicine onto Peter’s shoulder, feeling the solidity of scales as Peter flexed his muscles.
The wound began to close as if by magic. Which, Neal thought with a grin, was pretty much what was happening. Because dragons were magical creatures. And he was in love with one. Who was in love with him.
Peter hummed, a growly sound, and said, “Oh God that feels so good.”
“It’s getting better. The wound’s almost closed up.”
“Good. Shifting back now.” Peter’s scales began to fade as he returned to his human form. “Okay, if you can cover it with the bandage I think we’ll be good to go.”
Neal taped the cotton square onto Peter’s shoulder. “You probably should wear a shirt over this.”
“Yeah.” Peter got up and fished a t-shirt out of his dresser. Putting it on, he turned to Neal. “Neal, I know tonight has been like a roller coaster and I figure we’ve got a lot to talk about, but do you think maybe it could wait a little longer? I just want to get back into bed and hold you and not think for about eight hours. Please?”
At that moment Neal thought Peter looked like a little boy, exhausted from his day’s efforts. Smiling to himself, Neal held out his hand. There would be plenty of time to ask questions, to talk, to learn more about this wonderful man, his dragon. But for now, they needed to just be.
Peter climbed into the bed and curled himself around Neal. “Love you,” he whispered.
“Love you, too.” Smiling, Neal closed his eyes and listened to the last of the rain as it pattered against the window.