Fandom: White Collar
Word Count: 1,477
Beta Credit: elrhiarhodan
Summary: The aftermath of Adler’s attack sparks a question.
A/N – This was written for Caffrey-Burke Day 2016. Ironically, it’s a timestamp for a Dragonverse story that I haven’t even written yet. That one will be called “Bestial Greed” and will be written next year. I guess I just wanted the comfort part of the hurt first.
Autumn in New York, it spells the thrill of first nighting…
The playful tones of Billie Holliday washed over Neal as he sat in front of the fireplace with his eyes closed. The warmth of the crackling flames soaked into his body to the point that he almost didn’t need the flannel throw that he’d wrapped around his shoulders.
The music had lulled him into a slight stupor, and he startled a bit when Peter walked into the room. Opening his eyes, he saw the man he loved standing in front of him, with a soft smile on his face.
Neal took a moment to just absorb the beauty that was his mate. Peter never failed to take his breath away, no matter what the situation. Tonight, the flickering firelight caught the highlights in Peter’s hair and turned them golden. He was dressed in Neal’s favorite clothes, a white button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a pair of black linen pants. And of course his feet were bare.
“Dar settled down?” Neal asked softly.
Neal started to get up but Peter stilled him with gesture. “Don’t move. You’re comfortable. I’ll just pull a chair over.”
“I can help.”
“I said no.” Peter’s voice was quiet but firm as he smiled at Neal. “I’ll be fine.”
Neal watched as Peter made his way over to the small bar, his steps slow as he leaned heavily on his cane. Peter took two cut crystal rocks glasses, filled them with ice and splashed a good amount of Jameson’s in each. Hooking them with his fingers, Peter carried them over to Neal. “Here, take these please.”
Neal held the glasses while Peter pulled one of the chairs closer to the fire. Sitting down in it with a sigh, Peter patted his knee. “Come closer.”
Neal shimmied until he was tucked between Peter’s legs, leaned back, and handed him one of the glasses. Neal took a sip of his, letting the heat of the alcohol warm him even more. He looked “I could have helped with the chair.”
“I know,” Peter replied simply. “Didn’t want you to have to get up.”
Putting his glass down on the hearth, Neal rested his head on Peter’s thigh. The warmth of Peter’s body, always several degrees hotter than Neal’s, brought him several steps closer to losing the chill that permeated his cells now.
“Still cold?” Neal felt Peter’s hand gently caress his head.
“Yeah.” He sighed, suddenly feeling very old.
“Mozzie said it would pass.”
“I know.” Neal sighed again. “It just sucks to be wearing sweaters when it’s eighty degrees out. I wish the summer would end just so I don’t feel out of place. ”
“Neal, you’ve got to let yourself heal. What you went through was…” Peter trailed off and Neal could hear his voice catch. “You could have been killed.”
Neal raised his head. “And you almost were!” Neal stood and straddled Peter’s thigh, taking care not to aggravate Peter’s injury. He cupped Peter’s face, ignoring the blanket as it fell from his shoulders. “Adler almost killed you.”
Peter wrapped his hands around Neal’s. “But he didn’t,” he whispered.
“He hurt you, Peter.” Neal traced the scar that ran from Peter’s temple to the back of his ear. “And I’ll never forgive him for that.”
“He’s dead, Neal. There’s nothing he can do to us anymore.” Peter turned his head and Neal felt the soft kiss to his palm. “Grab the blanket.”
Neal did and found himself on Peter’s lap, cradled in his arms while Peter pulled the blanket tighter around him. Neal felt Peter present slightly, his skin taking on a rougher feel as his scales manifested. It warmed him, banishing the last bit of cold he felt. Neal tucked his face into Peter’s neck and inhaled the subtle spice that marked him as dragon.
He felt Peter chuckle and tighten his embrace.
They stayed there in silence; the music changing from song to song as the fire crackled.
“I love you so much,” Neal whispered, after a while. “I don’t know what I would do if…” He didn’t want to say it; didn’t even want to think the words.
“I love you, too.” Peter kissed the top of Neal’s head. “Not going anywhere.” Neal felt the curve of Peter’s lips against his temple. “Too damn stubborn to leave you.”
Peter paused, but Neal could tell there was more that he wanted to say. “What’s on your mind, Peter?”
“Just thinking. Nothing really.”
Neal leaned back so he could see Peter’s face. “I know better. There’s something. What is it?”
Peter stayed silent.
“Peter...” Neal locked eyes with him and raised an eyebrow.
Neal watched as Peter took a deep breath. “Since…Adler, I’ve been thinking. About you. About protecting you, I mean.”
“Protecting me?” Neal knew he looked puzzled.
“Yeah.” Peter paused again and Neal could tell he was collecting his thoughts. “Amongst the Dragonkin, for the most part, as my mate, you’re safe. What happened with Adler was an exception,” he hurried to say as Neal scoffed. “There might be a few malcontents, but after my fight with Adler plus the new security system Mozzie installed, they’re going to think twice about making any attempts to hurt you.”
“Let’s hope so,” Neal muttered. Peter glared at him. “What?”
“Nothing. As I was saying, the Dragonkin know you’re my mate and that I’ll do anything to protect you. And you know the Code states that as my mate what’s mine is yours.”
“I remember.” Neal felt his dragon tattoos shift under his skin in response to Peter’s words. It felt good to feel them move; he’d been worried at their lack of activity since Adler tried to rip them from his body. Mozzie said they were healing too, but it reassured him when he could feel them.
“Mozzie thinks that if anyone tries to go after you again they’ll try it through the human courts.” Peter shifted his hip, reaching into his pocket. “I wanted to do this in a less clinical way but…” He held out a small velvet box and opened it to reveal a ring. Neal’s breath caught.
“Peter, it’s gorgeous.” Neal took the ring out of the box and held it up for a closer look.
The platinum band shone in the firelight; solid and strong. Two carved dragons were entwined around each other, one silver, one gold, just like Neal’s tattoos. The silver dragon had deep blue sapphires set for its eyes; the gold, chocolate diamonds.
“I had it made for you. To match your tattoos and…” Peter blushed. “Your body jewelry.”
Neal laughed. Only Peter would design a piece of jewelry to match his nipple rings.
“Neal Caffrey…you’re my mate, my lover, my Óimige. You make my life complete. Will you do the honor of becoming my husband?”
Neal looked at Peter in confusion. “I thought we already were? You know, mates?”
“As far as dragons are concerned, yes. But not according to the laws of the State of New York. If something happened to me, or if you were in a human hospital, we don’t have a legal connection, and if my family wanted to, they could take you to court for my hoard. This just adds another layer of protection for you.”
Peter ducked his head and blushed slightly. “Plus, I kind of like the idea of you wearing my ring, you know? Letting everyone know you’re mine.”
Neal grinned. “Possessive much?” he teased, running his finger around the shell of Peter’s ear. With a thrill of satisfaction he saw Peter’s eyes glow as his dragon surfaced.
“Do you even have to ask?” Peter’s voice was a dark rumble, sending a wealth of shivers throughout Neal’s body. He leaned in to whisper to Neal. “Keep that up and I’ll show you just how possessive I am.”
“Promises, promises…” Neal gently bit Peter’s earlobe.
“Not a promise, just a fact. And you haven’t answered me.” Peter kissed Neal’s jaw and slowly moved towards his neck. “Will you marry me?”
“Will you take me to bed if I say yes?” Neal moaned as Peter hit that particular spot at the crook of his shoulder.
“I’ll take you to bed no matter what. How you answer will determine how long you’ll have to beg me to let you come.” Peter’s hands had crept under the blanket and Neal felt them kneading his ass.
“Oh god, then yes! I’ll marry you!” Neal yelped as Peter stood up and wrapped Neal’s legs around his waist.
“Thought you’d see it my way.” Peter kissed him fast and hard and headed towards the bedroom. “Shall we see how long it takes to make you beg?”
Neal thought that was a fine idea.