Fandom: White Collar
Word Count: 1977
Beta Credit: firesign10
Summary: "In the heat of the moment" takes on a whole new meaning when Neal finds Peter ill with a raging fever. Neal is sure Peter's fevered ramblings are just that...but are they?
A/N: This one does double duty – First and foremost it’s a birthday present for the magnificent kanarek13 and secondly, it fits right in with her prompt of “Fever Dreams” as part of my 12 days meme.
Olena – I cannot even begin to tell you how much your art has brightened my life. I have created some of my best stories simply through the inspiration of your images. Thank you for being my friend and Muse. Happy Birthday.
“Diana, have you heard from Peter?” Neal looked up at Peter’s office to see the lights off and the door closed. He didn’t remember Peter saying he’d had a meeting this morning when they’d left work on Friday.
Diana held a hand up to silence him as she finished her phone call. She put down the receiver with a worried look. “I haven’t. I just called his cell and there's no answer. I thought he was picking you up this morning.”
“No, I took the subway in today.” He took in her expression with growing concern. “So he’s not called or texted?”
“What about Elizabeth? Has anyone checked with her?” Neal grabbed his overcoat and slipped his arms into it.
“Elizabeth’s in San Francisco for the week, remember?” Jones walked over to Diana’s desk. “Peter’s flying solo.”
Neal had forgotten. Elizabeth’s business had become bi-coastal and she travelled to California several times a year to oversee that office. “When’s the last time anyone heard from Peter?” He was getting a bad feeling.
“Not since Friday night,” Jones said. “He said he was planning a quiet weekend with paperwork and a baseball game.”
“I’m going to his house. There’s something wrong.” Neal hurried to the elevator, Diana on his heels.
The traffic slowed their progress to Brooklyn. Neal called Peter’s cell a half dozen times before he got the message that indicated Peter’s phone battery was dead.
Diana pulled up in front of Peter’s house and Neal got out before her car slowed. He dashed up the front steps and pounded on the front door. The only sound was Satchmo’s frantic barking.
“Something’s wrong,” he said to Diana as she joined him. “I’m picking the lock.”
Neal made quick work of the door lock and let himself and Diana into the house. Whining, Satchmo greeted them, pawing at Neal’s pant-legs. There was the smell of urine and several puddles in the hall.
“Diana – check the kitchen. I’ll look upstairs.” Neal took the steps two at a time, his heart in his throat. Peter never would have neglected Satchmo if there wasn’t something terribly wrong.
“Peter!” he called as he headed down the hallway.
Neal checked the bedroom. The bed was unmade, the television on. Several files and a half-eaten sandwich were on the bed. No Peter.
“Peter!” His voice frantic, Neal rushed out of the room and across the hall to the bathroom.
The door was closed. Neal turned the handle and tried to open it, but something was wedged behind it. Shoving harder, he managed to open it enough for him to squeeze through the gap.
“Oh my god!” Peter was sprawled out on the bathroom floor, his skin pale in the overhead light. He was dressed in a faded Quantico t-shirt and a pair of boxer briefs, and there was a sheen of moisture on his skin. “Peter!”
Neal fell to his knees and felt for a pulse. It was faint and thready, his skin scalding to the touch. “Peter, come on. Wake up?”
Peter moaned, his eyelids fluttering, but didn’t regain consciousness.
“Diana!” Neal shouted, hoping she could hear him. “Diana, I need you!”
Moments later, she was at the door. “Oh my god, Peter!”
“He’s unconscious.” Neal knew he was stating the obvious, but sharing it with Diana was keeping him on the razor’s edge of calm. “He’s also burning up. Help me move him if you can.”
The two of them were able to sit Peter up against the tub and get the door open. Peter’s head lolled onto his chest and Neal could hear slight congestion as he breathed.
“We need to take his temperature and try to wake him up.” Neal felt Peter’s forehead and hissed. It was hotter than his neck. “I think Elizabeth has that special kind of thermometer in the medicine chest.”
He held onto Peter and watched as Diana rummaged through the cabinet and pulled out an ear thermometer. She handed it to Neal and he turned it on. Placing it in Peter’s ear, he waited for the beep. When it sounded, he pulled it out and looked at the display.
“Shit.” Neal looked up at Diana. “Call an ambulance.”
As she stepped out of the bathroom, he reached for a washcloth from the linen closet. He made sure Peter was secure. then moistened the washcloth with cold water. Wiping it across Peter’s body, he kept cooling it as Peter’s heat dissipated the cold.
Peter moaned, his eyes blinking open, and he began to cough. The sound was raspy and rattling, and it chilled Neal to the bone. Peter hadn’t been sick on Friday, and for him to sound this bad this quickly – it scared Neal.
Diana finished her call. “EMT’s are on their way but traffic’s got them snarled. They said if we can get him into a cool shower to lower his temperature, that would help.”
“Okay…okay.” Neal looked at Peter, seeing the confusion and fever in his eyes before they slipped shut again. “You’re gonna have to turn on the shower and help me get him undressed.”
Neal stood up and kicked off his shoes. Shucking off his suit jacket, he heard Diana start the water. He quickly removed his shirt and pants.
“Neal, what are you doing?”
“What?” he said, pulling off his socks and sliding off his boxer briefs. “I need to get into the shower and hold him up.” Neal bent down and wiped Peter’s face with the cold cloth.
Peter opened his eyes again and focused on Neal. “Neal?” His voice was harsh and raw and as he coughed again, Neal could hear a distinct rattle in his chest. “Don’t feel so good.”
“I know, Peter, I know.” Neal tucked his hands under Peter’s arms. “Can you stand if I help you? I need to get you into the shower.”
Neal hauled Peter up so he was leaning against Neal’s chest. Turning to Diana, he said, “Help me take off his shirt and underwear.”
Diana removed Peter’s clothes while Neal held him steady. Peter moaned quietly as Neal shuffled them towards the shower. “We should be okay, but stay within earshot if I need you.”
Diana nodded. “I’ll be waiting by the front door to let the EMTs in. I should be able to hear you.” She grabbed some towels from the cabinet and laid them on the sink. “Just in case.”
Neal gently eased Peter under the cool water, hissing in sympathy as Peter moaned and shrunk away from the cold. “Sorry, Peter, but we have to bring your temperature down.”
“Neal?” Peter’s voice was a whisper.
“Yeah, Peter. I’m here.”
“Why’re we in the shower?”
“To bring your temperature down,” Neal repeated.
Neal felt Peter tuck his head into the crook of Neal’s neck. “I like that we’re in the shower…”
Neal’s eyes widened at Peter’s comment. What did he mean?
“Like that you’re naked…that I’m naked…” Peter nuzzled Neal’s neck, his lips and tongue softly marking Neal’s skin. “Always wanted to kiss you…taste you…”
It was all Neal could do to keep holding Peter up. Peter was saying he wanted to kiss Neal, wanted to taste him? Neal swallowed against the tightness in his throat. This was way past any late night fantasies Neal had about Peter, but refused to admit to himself.
He needed to stop this. Peter was obviously delirious from the fever and didn’t know what he was saying.
“Peter, you…” The words dried up as Peter rolled his hips against Neal’s thigh. Peter’s cock was hard and solid and trapped between Neal’s legs, and Neal‘s body couldn’t help but respond in kind. A moan slipped past his lips as Peter thrust up against him.
He let himself drift for a moment, imagining Peter flipping him and pushing him up against the tiles of the shower, riding the crack of his ass with his cock. Coming untouched as Peter fucked him slowly.
No! Neal shook the images from his brain.
This was so wrong. Peter was his friend. Who was sick. Neal shouldn’t have thoughts like this. “Peter…”
“Feels so good…” Peter murmured. “Wanna have you…El said it was okay…she knows…”
Wait, what? “Elizabeth knows what, Peter?” How could Elizabeth know how much he wanted Peter? He hadn’t told anyone. Had kept it close to his chest. Treated Peter like always.
“El knows how much I love you.”
Neal barely caught the words as Peter’s knees buckled. He fell against the wall as he tried to hold Peter up. Steadying himself, he checked Peter’s face.
His eyes were closed and he was whispering, his words disjointed. Neal leaned in to hear what Peter was saying.
“Always loved you…from the beginning…” Peter coughed and burrowed deeper into Neal’s chest. “Wanted you…so hard to keep my hands off you…your ass…”
The words trailed away as Peter slumped against Neal’s body. His erection had faded with his energy and now he was lax, his face again tucked into Neal’s neck.
They stood there in the cool spray until the paramedics came.
They hustled Peter out of the shower and wrapped him in towels before checking his vitals.
Peter’s temperature was down to 102°, and he was groggy but more alert. Neal got dressed as they loaded Peter onto the gurney and took him to the ambulance.
He rode with Peter to the hospital where they admitted him with viral pneumonia. Neal called Elizabeth, who was taking the first plane out of San Francisco, and he promised her he wouldn’t leave Peter until she got there.
Peter was sleeping, the beeps of the monitors soft in the background. Neal looked at him, the words he’d shared in the shower running through his mind.
Peter wanted him. Peter loved him.
It was hard to wrap his head around. For the longest time, Neal had felt thought that his feelings were one-sided. That he was alone in his wanting.
But hearing it from Peter’s lips changed everything. And Neal really didn’t know where to go from there.
“Stop thinking so loud.” Peter’s voice cut through Neal’s musings.
“I thought you were asleep.” Neal looked over to see that Peter’s eyes were clear and alert.
“I would have been if you weren’t thinking so loud.” Peter’s voice was hoarse.
“Sorry about that,” Neal apologized. He knew Peter needed his rest.
“It’s okay.” Peter coughed slightly and shifted to sit up. Neal helped him with the controls until he was settled. Peter took a sip of the ice water from the cup by the bed. “What were you thinking about that had your brow so furrowed?”
Neal hadn’t realized that he’d had that expression on his face. “Nothing…just…thinking.”
“Neal…” Peter’s tone of voice was amused.
“Really…it’s nothing.” There was no way in hell that Neal was going to share his thoughts with Peter.
“Come here.” Peter patted the side of the bed. “I need to tell you something.”
Confused, Neal did as he asked.
Once he was seated, Peter motioned for Neal to lean in.
“I remember.” Peter’s voice was low and his breath teased the side of Neal’s neck. “What I said in the shower? I remember…”
Neal froze. Peter had been aware of what he’d said. That he’d told Neal he loved and wanted him.
And…” Neal felt Peter’s hand cup his jaw and caress Neal’s lips. “I remember feeling your reaction…” Peter’s mouth moved up until he’d reached Neal’s ear. “So…when I get out of here…I think…” Peter whispered low, “…that we need to explore that…”
Peter leaned back and closed his eyes. “But until then, I think I need to sleep.” Neal felt Peter take his hand. “Don’t go anywhere, okay?”
Neal smiled as he watched Peter’s breathing even out. Things could wait until Peter recovered.