Fandom: White Collar
Characters/Pairings: Neal/Peter, Mozzie, Jones, Diana, Cameos by Hughes and June
Word Count: This Part – 4,411
Beta Credit: elrhiarhodan, firesign10
Summary: Archeologist Peter Burke has recently uncovered an amazing - and history changing - fresco on the walls of an ancient ruin on the Aegean island of Santorini. Neal, a prince from a long-hidden kingdom, spies Peter during a forbidden visit to the island. As their feelings grow, danger lurks, threatening both men's lives.
Sometimes it wasn’t good to be the King, Reese thought with a sigh. Looking down at the stacks of papers on his desk, he realized he needed a break from politics.
He got up to pour himself a glass of spirits when there was a knock on the door.
“Enter,” he called, taking a sip of the amber liquid. Turning, he saw Mozzie enter with more papers. “I am not signing anything else this evening,” he said, holding up a hand to stop the other man before he started speaking. “I’m done for the night.”
“That’s fine. There’s nothing urgent,” Mozzie said, placing the papers on the desk and helping himself to a glass of what the King was drinking.
They drifted over to the window, both men comfortable in their familiarity. Reese gazed out over the palace grounds, watching as various retainers hurried on their respective errands. Schools of rainbow parrotfish floated by, their green and blue scales complimenting the pinks and yellows of the anemone beds.
His eye was caught by a figure moving slowly down one of the side paths. Even from here Reese could see the dullness of Peter’s scales. What should have been a deep chocolate and russet was muddy brown and rust. Peter moved like an old Mer, hunched over and worn. Peter paused at a bench, then sat down and stilled.
This was not good. If they didn’t take action, Peter would die.
He tilted his head toward the window, grabbing Mozzie’s attention.
“He’s fading, Theodore.”
“I know.” Mozzie sighed. “I’ve tried everything. I’ve gotten him a professorship at the college, set him up at the ruins in the older part of Atlantis…” He gestured at the man on the bench. “It’s been six months and nothing is working.”
“How’s Neal?” Reese missed his son terribly. “Is he any better?”
“Not really.” Mozzie drained his glass and moved over to the bar for a refill. “He’s walking with a cane now. I can barely get him to come to the office.”
Reese rubbed his face. “Maybe the spell wasn’t the best idea.”
“Neal would be dead now if you hadn’t cast it.” Mozzie looked at him. “He’d have faded and followed Peter, you know that. At least we’ve had six months to come up with something.”
“But they’ve been miserable.” Reese tossed off the rest of the whiskey and motioned for more. Mozzie poured, not stopping at two fingers. “Keeping them separate has been the worst thing.”
“I know, Reese, but that’s the only way the spell would have worked. Neal had to become human so Peter could become Mer and let the magic save him.” Mozzie sighed. “I wish though, that there wasn’t that caveat that they had to be separated or they would die.”
“Sometimes I hate the old magic. It makes things so difficult to reverse.” Reese moved away from the window and sat down at his desk. “Have you managed to find a solution yet?”
“I think so.” Mozzie reached into his jacket and pulled out a small leather-bound book. “There’s another spell -” he paused at Reese’s snort. “- another spell that we possibly can use for them to be together.”
Mozzie’s tone was a bit off. Reese could tell that there was more to the spell than he might be happy with. “What’s the catch?”
“Um…,” Mozzie rubbed the back of his neck. “It requires a kiss.”
“Great.” Reese huffed and put his head in his hand. “I swear I don’t know what possessed the Ancients to use that as a spell component. And then that Disney fellow had to put it in practically every movie...” He sighed. “What do we need to do?”
“According to the instructions, Neal and Peter need to be in the same place at highest point of the full moon. They need to give the gods an offering in the form of undying love, and if the gods accept, they will be transformed into the forms they will keep for eternity."
“And of course that offering needs to be a kiss.” Reese paused, his thoughts buzzing. He held out his hand for the book. “When’s the next full moon?”
“In three days. I checked.” Mozzie gave him the book and pulled up a chair to the desk. “One question, how are we going to be able have Neal and Peter in the same space without setting off the earlier spell?”
“We’ll have to layer another spell over it.” Reese thumbed through the book. “Here – it’s a counter spell to suspend any current magic. We can use that.” He looked at Mozzie. “You go to the surface and talk to Neal. I’ll tell Peter. And hopefully, in three days this will all be finished and they’ll get their happily ever after.”
At least that’s what Reese hoped would happen, because the alternative was not something he wanted to think about.
Neal could feel the rays of the rising sun as they inched across his face. Warm and inviting, they coaxed him to open his eyes and greet the day. Six months ago, he would have reveled in its touch, because it meant that he was on land, a two-legged and that Peter was just a heartbeat away.
Now? Now that brightness was just an indication of how alone he truly was. Sighing, he opened his eyes and slowly sat up. His cane was hooked onto the nightstand and he used it to steady himself as he stood.
He shrugged into his bathrobe – it seemed he was cold all the time now – and made his way into the kitchen. Mozzie had hired an older woman from Fira to make sure he was taken care of. She had his breakfast ready – a soft boiled egg and some toast – and gently fussed over him as he sat.
“I laid out your clothes in the dressing room this morning, Mister Neal. Mister Mozzie said you might be going into the office today?” She phrased it as a question, but Neal knew it was more like a statement about how he’d been closeting himself in his room.
“I’m not sure, Myrena. We’ll see.” He sipped the tea she’d brought him, it’s flavor muted under his tongue. Much like everything was since the night he’d lost Peter.
He knew the other man was alive. Mozzie kept bringing him updates, filling him in on Peter’s life in Atlantis. Sharing his successes in the university and on the digs. It was all Neal had of Peter now and it was enough.
It had to be.
He placed his cup in the saucer, pretending not to hear the slight rattle as his hand shook. He missed Peter; his heart aching for him, so much that the pain in his legs seemed trifling.
Sighing, Neal stood, leaving his breakfast mostly uneaten, and shuffled to the doors leading out to the porch. His chair, placed in the corner of the patio, still had the blanket on it from the day before. Gingerly he sat and wrapped its edges around him.
He shuddered, feeling the consistent chill make its way through his body. Turning his face to the sun, he closed his eyes and called up his memories of Peter, laughing, his smile bright, the touch of his lips on Neal’s skin, their whispers of happiness and love.
A tear made its way past his eyelid and slipped down his cheek.
He wouldn’t be going into the office today.
Mozzie found him on the porch hours later, still seated in the same position.
“Neal, I thought you said you were going into the office today?” His friend’s tone was the good-natured nagging that he’d done when they were in Atlantis. In the past it had never bothered him, but today…today –
“No, I decided not to. There’s nothing for me to do there anyway.” Neal knew he sounded petulant, but frankly he didn’t care. The farce that Mozzie liked to perpetuate about the trading company was stupid anyway. It was just something that they had come up with to keep Neal occupied while he mourned Peter. Like he was going to wake up one day and his heart wouldn’t be in a million pieces.
He looked at his friend. “Why are you here?”
“Because you need to get your ass up and get into the shower. You’re rank as week-old garbage and we have business to attend to.” Mozzie came over and tried to help Neal stand, but Neal batted his hand away.
“I can stand by myself. But what’s the point?” Slowly he stood up, shrugging the blanket off his shoulders. “We’re just going into the office and I’m going to pretend that I’m doing work. Then you’ll bring me back here and force me to eat something and then I’ll go to bed and not sleep.” He locked eyes with Mozzie. “I’m done with it, Moz. I’m tired and I just want to stop.”
“You can’t stop.” Mozzie darted in front of him as he shuffled into the apartment.
“Why not?” Neal eased back down into the chair in the kitchen. “Face it, Moz. There’s nothing left, okay? Peter’s alive and doing well and I’m…I’m…this.” He gestured to himself, indicating his thinning body, the cane, everything. “I’m done, Moz,” he repeated, resting his head in his hands and closing his eyes.
“Peter’s not doing well.” Mozzie’s voice was pained.
Neal jerked his head up and stared at his friend. “What do you mean he’s not doing well? You told me he was fine. That he was teaching; that he had a dig going!” Neal’s chest tightened and he started coughing. Droplets of red spattered on his hand and he wiped them away on his robe.
Mozzie quickly poured him a glass of water. Once the coughing stopped, Neal drank, letting the cool liquid soothe his throat. Only then did he look back at Mozzie, knowing his face was full of accusation.
Mozzie fidgeted under his gaze, finally breaking. “Okay, so I might have twisted the truth a bit…”
“Why? Why did you lie to me?” Anger swept over him at the fact that Mozzie had kept the truth from him. In a way he appreciated it. For the first time in six months, Neal actually felt the stirrings of an emotion that wasn’t sadness.
“Because if I’d told you he was fading you wouldn’t be here now!” Mozzie shot back at him, his voice filled with anger. “You’d have given up completely. I needed time…” Mozzie trailed off.
“Time? Time for what?” What could Mozzie have needed to do that was worth the pain Neal had dealt with?
“Time to find a way to bring you and Peter back together.” Mozzie sat next to him. “Your father and I have been searching through the libraries looking for something to combat the original spell.” He sighed. “It took us this long to find something that would work.” Mozzie reached out and touched Neal’s hand. “Neal, I’m sorry we weren’t able to find anything sooner, I really am.”
“No…no…it’s okay. You found something?” Mozzie’s transgression was completely forgotten as Neal tried to fathom that there was a chance he would see Peter again. “And it will work?”
“We think so.” As Mozzie explained the spell, Neal began to chuckle, then full out laugh. “What’s so funny?”
“Who’d have thought something as simple as a kiss would fix everything?” Neal smiled, for the first time feeling joy. “So when can we do this?”
“We need the full moon which is in three days.” Mozzie stood and called for Myrena. “But first you need to eat to build up your strength.”
Mozzie had Myrena make him some scrambled eggs with cheese and watched as he ate the entire plate. Hope had the flavor returning and he found himself actually hungry enough for seconds.
Mozzie smiled like a benevolent parent as he dished out more food. “And after this you need a shower and some rest.”
“Mozzie?” Neal paused, his fork in mid-air. “Peter knows? He knows I didn’t just give up, right? And he wants this?” Suddenly he was overwhelmed by a surge of uncertainty. What if Peter didn’t want to be with him?
“More than you know, Neal.” Mozzie was silent for a moment. “It was bad, Neal. Really bad.”
“Oh, Peter…” Neal blinked away the moisture that was threatening to turn into tears. “I’ve missed him so much, Moz.”
“I know, Neal. I know.” Mozzie patted his shoulder gently. “We’ll fix this.”
And for the first time in what seemed like forever, Neal believed.
The moon glittered on the ocean, sending diamond-like refractions over the waves.
It was almost unreal, Neal thought at he made his way towards the beach. The black water, tipped with white as the waves broke over the shore. He’d forgotten how beautiful it was.
Mozzie walked next to him, keeping an eye out just in case he stumbled. His cane was useless on the sand so Neal slowly put one foot in front of the other, balancing cautiously with each step.
“You okay?” Mozzie put a hand under his elbow to steady him. Neal would have shrugged it away before, but tonight was too important for his ego to get in the way.
“Yeah, I’m just…” He couldn’t even put into words what he was feeling – the hope, the longing – all centered where his heart beat in anticipation of seeing Peter again.
The sea breezes picked up, caressing his hair and pulling lightly at his linen shirt. Neal breathed deeply, the salt air bringing back memories of his family, of Peter. The ocean had been a painful reminder of everything he’d lost so he’d stayed away.
Now it welcomed him back like a lover. No recriminations, no remorse. Just the never-ending acceptance that the sea always seemed to share with him.
“Mozzie…how long?” How long before I see Peter? That was his unspoken question.
“Soon. We have to cast the counter-spell first.” Mozzie guided him a bit further, until the waves gently lapped at his bare feet.
“Moz, I’m not sure I’ll be able to stand.” Already his legs ached and he felt off balance.
“Don’t worry. We made arrangements.” Mozzie pointed. Out in the small breakers was a boulder, it’s top slightly flat and suited for a resting place. “Your father thought you might need it.”
“Okay, what do I have to do?” Mozzie hadn’t really told him specifics, just that they’d found a way to circumvent the original spell.
“Nothing right away. Let me get you situated. Then the first part is up to me and the King.”
Neal allowed himself to be led to the rock, Mozzie supporting him as the sands shifted beneath his feet. He sat, allowing his friend to remove his clothes. Any other time he would be embarrassed to be naked in front of Mozzie, but not today. Today he welcomed the touch of the saltwater on his skin, the smell of brine in his nose.
“I’ll need for you to hold this.” Mozzie gave him a stone bowl. Nestled in the bottom was an ancient gold coin and a piece of vellum with writing on it. Both items looked to be soaked in some kind of oil and Neal could smell the scent of olives and juniper.
“Where did you get this? I didn’t see you carrying it.” Mozzie just looked at him and Neal had to grin. His friend liked to keep his secrets on occasion. “Okay. Never mind.”
Mozzie pulled out a pair of scissors and cut a lock of Neal’s hair, sprinkling it over the contents of the bowl. “This is your part,” he explained. “Your father will bring Peter’s part to complete the ritual.”
“Which I’ve done.” Neal turned at his father’s voice. The King looked tired, but happy to see him. “Hello, son.”
“Father…” Neal felt his voice crack as the emotions welled up. “It’s good to see you again.”
“It’s good to see you, too.” The King set the bowl he was carrying down on the rock and wrapped his arms around Neal. “I’m so sorry it took us this long to find a way to help you and Peter.”
“Thank you.” It was all Neal could say. He held on to his father, ignoring his lack of clothing. “Is Peter close?”
“Yes. He’s under the waves deep enough so you won’t accidentally see each other before we cast the spell.” Reese picked up the bowl and turned to Mozzie. “Are we ready?”
“Yes, sire.” Mozzie took the bowl from Neal’s hands and waded back to the shore, the King following him.
Neal turned to watch them. He saw a large container, chalice-like, on the beach, partially in the waves. Its silver patina shone in the moonlight, the etchings on it playing in the beams. Mozzie stood to one side and his father, his fin transformed to legs, to the other. Neal could hear them chant but was unable to make out the exact words. He watched as they poured the contents of their bowls into the large container.
Mozzie struck a match and tossed it into the silver chalice. The flames leaped high, their colors blue and russet, not the typical gold and red of a natural fire. As the flames grew, so did the voices of the two men standing on the beach.
Neal felt the wind pick up, skittering the waves up onto the sand. The pressure in his ears changed as he saw the flames rise up from the chalice. They shimmered, growing taller as they spread out in a circle, curving and floating over him, blocking the stars and casting the moon in a misty glow. He followed the flames with his gaze as they headed out to sea and dipped down beneath the waves.
He felt rather than heard a definite click as the circle closed, containing them in a glittery bubble.
The waters stilled for a moment, cut off from the rhythm of the sea, before rippling again.
Neal’s breath caught as he saw Peter rise from the water. He’d always scoffed at the human fairy tales that he’d read that described the first time they’d seen the Mer surface, but now he understood.
Peter was stunning.
His thick brown hair, longer than Neal remembered, lay against his head like a seal pelt. His skin, touched by the moonlight and the circle, glistened ivory. And his eyes – deep and dark and joyous as he looked at Neal.
“Peter…” Neal whispered.
Peter smiled and as he swam closer, Neal could see his scales. Chocolate and auburn rippled across his body highlighting his deep gold fins.
Peter stopped, just out of reach, and gazed at Neal. His smile faded and worry replaced the happiness. “Oh Neal…”
Neal looked down at his failing body and flushed with embarrassment. He hunched down into himself. How could he let Peter see him like this?
“Neal…it’s okay.” Peter’s voice was soft and scratchy, like he hadn’t been speaking for a while.
Neal looked up at him. Peter’s eyes were the deep brown that he remembered, but they looked sunken and bruised. Skin that appeared ivory from a distance, was more sallow up close, and the point where his body morphed into his scales was grey-brown and dull.
“Oh, Peter…” Neal wanted to hold him, but he knew they couldn’t touch until Mozzie and his father began the counter spell.
“I know.” Peter looked down at himself then back up at Neal. “It’s been rough on both of us. But you are still the most beautiful man – Mer -” he paused and chuckled. “Being – I’ve ever seen.”
“And you make a lovely mermaid.” Neal smiled then began to laugh as Peter let out a snort.
And just like that, things were fine.
“Here’s the spell.” Mozzie waded towards them with two pieces of vellum. “Read it over then I’ll explain what you both need to do.”
They took the vellum and Neal quickly glanced at it. “It’s in Greek.”
“I know, and Peter’s is in English. According to the spell, the lines need to be repeated one after the other.”
“Moz…” Neal saw Peter’s brow furrow. “This is ‘Love’s Philosophy’ by Shelley. How can it work as the spell? It’s too new.”
“It seems as though young Percy stole shamelessly from the Ancients.” Mozzie chuckled. “He must have had his own Mer.”
“Wait, Shelley knew the Mer?” Peter scoffed.
Mozzie raised an eyebrow. “What? You think he really died by drowning?”
Neal grinned at Peter’s perplexed expression. “Will it work?” he asked, turning to his friend.
“It should.” Mozzie checked his watch. “You have three minutes until the moon is at its highest. When I say ‘start’, Neal, you go first and read a stanza, then Peter echoes. At the end, you need to kiss, and if the gods think your offering is pure, they’ll transform you.”
“And if not?” Neal could hear the concern in Peter’s voice. “What then?”
“Then you die.” Neal’s father came up behind them. “But I highly doubt that will happen.” He put his hands on both their shoulders. “I’ve seen your suffering and I have no doubt that the gods will accept your love.”
“What happens when they accept?” Neal was thinking positively. There was no other option as far as he was concerned.
“Then they transform you into whichever form they feel you should be in for the rest of eternity.” Neal’s father smiled. “If I’m lucky you’ll be in Mer form, and I’ll get my sons back.”
“Sons?” Peter looked at him in confusion.
“Yes, Peter…sons.” The King squeezed his shoulder. “I’ve felt as though you’ve been my son these past six months and once you and Neal can be with each other again, we’ll make it official. On land or in Atlantis. Wherever we need to.”
“Reese…” Neal could tell that Peter was touched by his father’s words. “I don’t…”
Peter was interrupted by Mozzie. “It’s time.”
Neal looked down at the words on the vellum and then back up at Peter. “You ready.”
“More than.” Peter smiled. “And Neal, no matter what happens, I love you.”
“I know.” Neal took a deep breath and then began the incantation.
“Oi vrýses smíxei me ton potamó,
Kai ta potámia me ton o̱keanó,
Oi ánemoi tou meígmatos ouranó gia pánta
Me éna glykó synaísthi̱ma;”
Peter echoed it in English.
"The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion…”
The winds began to stir, whipping up little whitecaps on the water. Neal continued, his voice rising to be heard above the crashing of the waves.
“Típota ston kósmo den eínai móno,
Óla ta prágmata apó éna theïkó nómo,
Se éna pnév̱ma synanti̱thoún kai na smíxei,
Giatí den boró̱ me dikó sou?”
Peter responded, his voice strong, his gaze steady.
“Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?”
They locked eyes, neither one needing to read the rest of the words on the pages.
“Deíte ta vouná filí ypsi̱lí̱s ouranó,
Kai ta kýmata sfíngoun to éna to állo,
Den adelfí̱ - louloúdi tha prépei na syncho̱retheí,
An perifronoúsan ton adelfó tou;”
“See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another,
No sister-flower would be forgiven,
If it disdained its brother…”
Peter moved closer. Neal could feel the heat radiating off his body, warming him in places that had been cold for far too long. He continued, his voice cracking with pent up longing.
“Kai to fo̱s tou í̱liou pórpes ti̱ gi,
Kai oi fengaroachtídes filí̱sei ti̱ thálassa,
Ti eínai óla af̱tá ta glyká pou axízei to ergo,
An esý den me filás?”
Peter was there, his arms encircling Neal, whispering the last part of the spell in his ear.
“And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea,
What is all this sweet work worth,
If thou kiss not me?”
Their lips met, tongues chasing, desire, love and need crushing them together. Neal poured all his sadness, his hope, his despair from the last six months into that kiss and Peter responded in kind. It was like they had never touched, yet had known each other for millennia.
An eternity – or maybe just a moment – later, Peter gentled the kiss, nipping at Neal’s lips, murmuring ‘I love you’ over and over. Neal replied with ‘Missed you so much,’ and ‘Need you’. He didn’t care what the outcome of the spell was. The fact that he was able to touch Peter, kiss him, hold him was good enough.
A moonbeam shot down from the sky and bathed them in a bright glow. The ocean waters roiled, crashing against them as swirling sand devils erupted on the beach.
Neal gasped as the pain in his legs disappeared. “Peter, I think it’s working.” He looked down to see his feet morph into a tail. Blue green scales emerged from the pale skin of his thighs. He felt strong, stronger than he’d been since the night Peter had gotten shot.
His eyes shot up and saw Peter, restored, just like he was. Strong, steady, his fins and tail lush and healthy. “It worked,” he whispered again.
“It did.” Peter pulled Neal into an embrace. “Oh God, Neal, I thought I’d lost you forever.”
Neal burrowed his face into Peter’s neck, tears spilling. “Me too. Missed you so much.” He started laughing and wiped his face against Peter’s shoulder. He didn’t care how much of child that made him. Nothing was going to change the joy he felt.
“Hey Neal?” Peter’s voice was low and happy. “What say we go home? I think the gods will let us go now.” He pointed and Neal followed his gesture.
The ocean had calmed and the moonbeam and wind had disappeared. Neal watched as the circle of flames slowly melted away to show the stars spread out across the sky.
Neal turned his head and looked at his father and Mozzie. “Thank you. So much.” He felt Peter nod and heard him repeat the thanks.
“Ready?” Peter slipped his hand into Neal’s, their fingers entwining.
“More than ready. Let’s go home.”
They plunged into the sea, their tails flicking once before sinking under the waves.
And the moonbeams kissed the sea…