Mosaic - 8/? - Insomnia
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: Yay! New chapter. Okay, I debated posting this, and then I debated whether or not to add it to my “Mosaic” series, and then I finally decided, eh, screw it. So, yeah. Here it is. This could take place either as it’s own little not-related-to-any-other-chapters ficlet or within a Mosaic-world, or whatever. Personally, when I wrote it, I kinda pictured it as a pseudo-cannon piece following “Forging Bonds”, but whatev. Anywhoo. Hope you like it.
Sometimes Mozzie suffers from insomnia.
No, that’s not true. He doesn’t suffer from it, not really, because people sleep too much anyways, and who is he to argue if his body sometimes agrees? But occasionally he can’t sleep. That’s fine with him, actually, because it gives him time to do other things. Like if he’s at Tuesday he can trim his Bonsai trees, or if he’s at Thursday he can study the constellations, or if he’s at Twelve he can work on his plan for world domination.
Or his Parcheesi skills. Whatever.
But the first time he stays over at Neal’s with a bout of insomnia, he’s known Neal for three months, and has decided that three months is certainly a long enough amount of time to know somebody before it should be okay to snoop through their home.
Thoroughly. While they’re sleeping.
Mozzie had searched through the medicine cabinet, kitchen drawers, the linen closet, and couch cushions, and had yet to turn up anything incriminating. (Well, incriminating by his definition. The Feds might disagree about the excess of lock picks and the aged sketch that looked suspiciously like a Da Vinci.)
It was frustrating.
Everyone had something to hide, everyone had something that they didn’t want people to know. And Mozzie loved finding out those secrets, loved knowing them. They were his insurance. He felt safer having that Ace up his sleeve, even if he never had to use it.
Mozzie liked Neal. He’d only known him for three months, but already he was fond of the boy. Neal was brilliant, and quick, and talented, and beautiful, in a way that Mozzie could appreciate, a way that went deeper than a pretty face and a charming smile.
But the problem was that Neal made Mozzie do more than just appreciate him for his skill - he made Mozzie care about him, want to look out for him.
That was dangerous.
The number one rule of life - never put anyone else’s welfare before your own. That was the most basic instinct of any creature - to survive, at any cost. Mozzie knew this. He didn’t think it fair of anyone to scorn this way of thinking, because it was a primordial impulse. If a bus is careening in your direction and it’s you or the guy next to you, the guy next to you is going under the bus, because if you don’t throw him, then you’re the dumbass humanitarian getting thrown.
That’s why Neal was dangerous. Because Mozzie had only known him three months and already he’s having a hard time imagining himself sacrificing Neal to save his own skin. Already he’s second-guessing whether he could do it.
And sometimes, when Neal’s laughing or painting or quoting Walt Disney back at him, sometimes Mozzie wonders if he wouldn’t jump in front of the bus for him.
That’s why Mozzie needs to find something, anything, to make him like the kid a little less. Like proof that he’s really Satan, or a KGB assassin, or a Fed or something.
Mozzie searched the back of the freezer and the toilet tank, just to be thorough.
Finally, Mozzie decided that whatever secrets Neal was hiding, they must be in his bedroom. He’d check under the bed first, and go from there.
Quietly, he pushed the door open, and kept his fingers crossed that Neal was a heavy sleeper.
It was dark in Neal’s room, but the half-open door cast enough light that Mozzie could tiptoe over to the bed without tripping over his own feet. He barely glanced at the curled-up figure on the bed before dropping to his knees and using his penlight to search beneath it.
A few blank canvasses, a toolbox full of half-empty tubes of paint, and a dusty tome of Whitman that had gotten wedged between the headboard and the wall.
Disappointed, Mozzie rose to continue his search, and was brushing his hands off when his elbow hit the curtain and let in enough light for him to see more than a dark, vaguely Neal-shaped lump.
Neal was curled up tight, long legs brought up so that his knees touched his chest, and his arms wrapped around himself. His eyes were squeezed shut, but wet around the edges, and his fists were clenched in a white-knuckled grip. The tendons stuck out vividly in his neck, and his mouth was open wide, and he shook all over.
He looked like he was screaming, but he was deathly silent.
Mozzie shivered and rushed out of the room, and it wasn’t until he closed the door behind him that he realized his heart was pounding.
He swallowed hard and closed his eyes and wished just this once that he wasn’t eidetic. Wished that he could forget this.
If Neal had made some noise, had truly screamed, then Mozzie could pass it off as just a nightmare. Everyone had nightmares.
But he hadn’t. Neal hadn’t made a sound.
That wasn’t natural. There was nothing at all right about that.
That was learned behavior. Miming your pain because voicing it got you hurt worse. Something you were taught to do, through consequence and repetition, until it overrode the basic animal need to give sound to your hurt.
Mozzie felt sick.
He debated going back in to try to wake Neal, wondered if it would help or hurt, or if he’d even be able to, with him so far into his mind.
He decided against it. He’d let Neal keep his secrets.
He sat down next to the door anyhow. Just in case.
He wouldn’t be sleeping tonight anyways.
A/N: Okay, so, I wrote this pre- "Burke's Seven", so this is an AU immediately following "Point Blank". I debated posting this as I personally had a million different ideas on how that particular, erm, situation would play out, and I've addressed it before (in a different fic, "Backup") and may yet adress it again, but I figured, what the heck. They're my little non-cannon ficlets, and I can have a million if I want, right?
Disclaimer: Not mine.
He'd apologized to Mozzie first. In the hospital, in those long hours of waiting, of silence only broken by the beep-beep-beep of the heart monitor and the whirring of the respirator, Neal had apologized, over and over again, in between desperate entreaties to "Please, wake up," until his voice was hoarse from it.
But Mozzie hadn't woken up.
He'd apologized to Diana next, in the car as she'd escorted him back to June's. She'd picked him up from the hospital with a terse "Let's go," and hadn't spoken to him since, hadn't even looked at him. They spent the first half of the car ride in tense silence, while Diana pretended he didn't exist, and he tried to figure out how to apologize. He finally did, ten minutes from June's.
Diana turned on the radio.
He'd apologized to Peter the next day, when he came to inform him that he was under house arrest. Peter had called him "Caffrey," and looked at him like he had the first time they met, like he was a criminal, a stranger. And while the first may hold true, Neal had liked to think they were friends, partners, had coveted the term like something precious when Peter gave it to him. It hurt, that he seemed to have stolen it back. "Peter, I'm-" But Peter hadn't wanted to listen, had refused to listen, had left before Neal could get out the words.
Neal apologized to a closed door.
He apologized to Elizabeth last. When she'd dropped by unexpectedly, late in the afternoon, and he'd invited her in to sit, and she hadn't said a word, had just stared at him, like she was searching for something, but Neal was too tired to try to figure out what. He was tired, and weary, and lost. Finally, he apologized, even though he knew it was for nothing.
He'd spent the last two days apologizing to deaf ears, not asking for benediction or forgiveness, but just for somebody to hear it.
He said "I'm sorry", but nobody was listening.
Elizabeth rose to leave, and he bent his head, unable to watch another person walk away from him. But her footsteps stopped, just behind him. He didn't dare to hope enough to lift his head.
One step, behind him, and she was close, closer to him than anyone had been since this had happened, since he made a mistake that he couldn't take back, and he couldn't regret if not for all the people he'd hurt.
"I know," she said, soft but sure. She leaned down and laid a kiss atop his head, brushing her fingers through his hair, then left.
The door clicked closed behind her, and he released the breath he hadn't known he'd been holding, and tried not to cry.
Lost Boy - 8/? - Panic
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: I alternating between liking this one and being sort of 'meh' about it, but it's been a long while since I wrote anything new on this story so I'm giving myself a pass.
Elizabeth was not prone to panicking. She wasn’t. She was a woman of action, someone who met a problem head on, and searched for solutions, and she knew panicking solved nothing.
She told herself that now. Panicking solves nothing. Don’t panic.
Three years after they were married Elizabeth got a two a.m. phone call from a faceless agent, informing her that her husband had been shot and was being transported to the hospital. She hadn’t panicked. She’d wanted to. Oh, how she’d wanted to. To be able to break down and fall to the floor, to scream, cry, throw things and feel sorry for herself like women did on television. But she couldn’t. Peter was on his way to the hospital, and she needed to meet him there. Peter needed her to not panic.
So she hadn’t. She’d gotten up and got dressed, taken a cab to the hospital, and was there in time to catch Peter yelling at a junior agent to ‘get back to the scene’ and ‘preserve the evidence’, as he sat up in a bed, leg elevated and bandaged.
She hadn’t panicked then, she reminded herself.
But Peter was a grown man, a trained agent, her strong husband. And even though she hadn’t known what happened, even though she hadn’t known if he was okay, she’d still known where he was.
But Neal is little, so little and so young, and she doesn’t know where he is. They’d taken a brief detour to pick up some of the more practical things that she’d forgotten upon her first shopping trip for the boy, and he’d been right beside her. She’d let go of his hand for a second, just a second, to inspect a booster seat on the shelf, and when she’d reached for him, met only air. Turned around, and he’d gone.
Neal was gone.
Suddenly, a department store was an ominous catacomb. The man looking at strollers the next isle over was a pedophilic kidnapper. Escalators were death traps, and towering isles of merchandise were accidents waiting to happen.
And Neal was lost in it.
Screw it, she was going to panic.
“Neal!” she cried, ignoring the stares around her. “Neal!” She rushed around the store calling his name. He’d been excited, on the way over, bouncing in his seat until his hat had fallen to the floorboard. Would that be the last time she saw him, safe and happy and alive? How could he be there one second and gone the next? How could she be so careless as to let him go, to look away, even for a second?
She wondered, if parents who had lost a child had the chance to go back, to know beforehand, what they were about to lose, if they’d dare to look away, or spend forever in that last moment, their eyes memorizing their child’s face, knowing that if they blink, they’re gone.
God, how could she tell Peter? How could she tell him that she’d lost him?
“Neal!” Her eyes were blurring, and a manager with a scrunched up face was approaching her, but she didn’t care. “Neal!”
There. A flash of dark curls and a tiny body pressed close against a jewelry case. Neal.
“Neal!” She ran for him, and he turned around, a grinning mouthful of baby teeth, and raised his arms to her. “Liz’bth!”
She scooped him into her arms and held him like he was going to turn to smoke at any minute, certain he would disappear the second she loosened her grip.
“Liz’bth, yuh squishing me.”
She couldn’t tell if it was a laugh or sob that burst from her throat. Most likely both. She held him back from her just far enough for her to see his face and let him breathe. “Where were you?”
He looked at her quizzically. “I was here.”
“You were gone, Neal. I let go for just a second, and you ran off.”
“Didn’t wrun,” he protested, and his trackerless ankle twitched against her leg.
“I didn’t know where you were. I turned around and you were just gone, and I didn’t know where you were, and I was scared.”
She didn’t realize she was crying until clumsy fingers were brushing away her tears, and fluttering kisses were placed against her cheek, and Neal whimpered, distressed.
“Don’t cry,” he told her. “Don’t cry, don’t cry, I’m sowwy.” He hugged her tight, face buried in her neck. “I’m sowwy.”
She held him to her, and wondered how parents did this, dealt with this fear, this panic, everyday, of losing your child.
She realized, suddenly, that it only went away once he was already lost, once you had nothing left to lose, and held on a little tighter.
Lost Boy: 7/? - Work
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: I'm very very sorry that I'm no longer posting this with any semblance of regularity. Real Life (like transferring Universities - yay! - and tornadoes - yuck! - ) has been seriously cutting into my fanfic time, which sucks, but is apparently what happens when you're a grown up. ...I've decided I don't like it. Anywhoo, here's chapter 7, and I hope to have chapter 8 up very very soon. Keep your fingers crossed that my classes are boring and my professors are blind because in class seems to be the only free time I have to write anymore. (Ironic because I'm a writing major.) Oh, and btw, how awesome have the new eps been!?! I totally heart them. A lot.
Peter woke to the smell of bacon. Blearily, he rubbed his eyes, glancing around the room. Empty, but the sheets beside him were rumpled, and Neal's blanket lay among them.
Not a dream then.
He got up and padded quietly down the stairs, following the smells into the kitchen where Neal was carrying forks to the table, and El was flipping pancakes. Neal spotted him first.
"P'tr!" he shouted happily. "We made p'ncakes!"
Elizabeth set out the breakfast on the table and then walked over to give him a kiss. "Neal stirred the batter," she told him, and the little boy grinned proudly.
Peter snatched up a pancake and took a bite. "Mmm," he said, "Best pancake I've ever had."
Neal positively beamed.
They settled in for a nice breakfast, and by the time they were done Peter was pretty sure that there wasn't an inch of Neal not covered in maple syrup.
El noticed too. "Okay Iron Chef, I think it's time for a bath. Honey, do you want to take him while I clean up here?"
Peter found himself headed towards the bathroom, with a sticky toddler in his arms, wondering if it would be weird giving his partner a bath. Then he started worrying about how difficult it would be to give a three year-old boy a bath. He had nephews. He'd heard horror stories. Even, on one memorable visit, had witnessed a very naked little boy being chased around by his very harried father, screaming "No bath! No bath! NOOOOOOO!"
But he forgot to take into account the fact that this was Neal. Neal, who (three year-old or not) was almost always immaculately clean and tidy and without a hair out of place.
While Peter stripped Neal of his syrup-covered clothes, Neal stared mournfully at his sticky fingers.
"Sticky," he informed Peter sadly.
"That's because you got more syrup on you than in you."
Neal frowned, then looked at the bath. "Bubbles?" he asked hopefully.
Peter sighed but dumped a capful of shower gel into the water. Some of El's fruity stuff, because Neal scrunched up his nose when Peter had reached for his own.
When the bath was full (and bubbly) enough, Peter turned it off and dumped Neal in. The boy smiled, and began to play with the bubbles, making all sorts of happy noises. Peter let him play for a while, amused by his easy ability to be entertained by such small things before quickly washing him and reaching for a towel.
When they ventured downstairs, El's face lit up at the sight of the boy wrapped in a towel with a duck head for a hood, his messy curls escaping from beneath it. She snatched him from Peter's arms, and Neal informed her "All clean! No mowre sticky."
She smiled at him. "That's good. Since you're all clean would you like to wear a nice new outfit today?"
Neal nodded enthusiastically and while El looked after him, Peter set about getting himself showered and dressed for work. He was adding his wallet and keys to his pocket when Neal (fully dressed and hair dried) rounded the corner into the foyer and looked up at him. "Whatcha doin'?"
"Getting ready for work."
"Work!" he cried, and ran into the living room. He darted around it almost frantically, before diving under the couch. After a minute of rustling about there, he finally slid back out from beneath it, too-large fedora in hand, and stood up, plopping it onto his head. "Okay," he told Peter seriously, "weady for work. We go now?"
Peter spied El by the stairs, a hand cupped over her mouth like she did when she was trying not to laugh. He couldn't keep his own lips from quirking, just a little. "Sorry buddy," he told Neal, "no work for you today."
He pouted. "Why not?"
"Because you're three, Neal. And three year-olds don't work for the FBI."
"Because they don't."
"Because it's grown-up work."
Peter pinched the bridge of his nose. "Because it just is."
"Because I said so!" Oh God. He'd become his father.
Neal's minor pout progressed into a major one, and looked to be half-way to a tantrum if the trembling lip and watery eyes were anything to go by. El noticed it too, and stepped in. "Neal, why don't you stay with me today? We can go to the park and get lunch in the city, how's that sound?"
Neal shook his head, hard enough that his hat flopped to the ground. "No! Gotta go to work. S'important!"
El frowned, remembering the fears of the previous night. "Are you afraid you'll get sent back to prison if you don't work? Because I promise you Neal, we'd never let that happen."
The defiant look of a tantrum had slipped a bit, to make way for one of uncertainty. "But…" He glanced at Peter, then looked back at El. "But P'tr needs me."
Peter tried to tell himself that he should feel insulted that Neal seemed to think that he needed him, because after all, who caught whom? But mostly he just felt… warm at the thought that it was so important to Neal, that he be needed by Peter, as a partner and a friend, as someone who he could count on to have his back.
But, Peter reminded himself, this tiny version of Neal was not his partner, would not be his partner again until he fixed this. And he couldn't do that while babysitting a toddler. He knelt down in front of the boy. "Today I need you to go with El," he told him. "I need you to go to the park, and be good, and then I'll meet you guys for lunch, okay?"
Finally, hesitantly, Neal nodded. "Okay."
Peter gave the boy a smile, and ruffled his hair, then dropped a quick kiss on his wife's lips on the way out the door.
He didn't look back. He couldn't.
Peter missed his partner, but the longer he spent around this little version, the more he started to wonder just how much he'd miss him, when he was gone.
Lost Boy: 6/? - Questions
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: Yay, longest chapter yet. I don’t really have anything else to say except thank you to everyone who is still reading (*cough*andreviewinghinthint*cough*) this story.
Peter stood outside the guest bedroom, watching Neal sleep. He’d done this before, on occasion, when Neal was sick, or injured. Stood at this door, and watched the young conman as he’d lain curled up, half-closed fist pressed against parted lips, and marveled at how innocent a criminal could look.
He looked much the same now, only smaller, and with the thumb of that fist tucked in his mouth, and that fuzzy blue blanket tangled around him.
Peter quietly closed the door, and padded down the hall to his own room, slipping inside. El was already in her pajamas, her hair loose around her face, applying that fruity-smelling lotion to her arms.
She smiled at him. “He still sleeping okay?”
Peter nodded, and changed into a pair of comfy sweats, trying to figure out how to bring up what had been bothering him. “El?”
“Hm?” She was applying lotion to her legs now, and as always when she did this, he found it a little hard to concentrate.
“Umm…” He turned away from her to put his clothes in the laundry basket, and tried to re-gather his thoughts, amazed that after more than ten years, she could still fluster him like this. “Earlier, when Mozzie was here. When we were talking about how to turn Neal back. You sounded… odd.”
He turned back to her, and thank goodness, she was done with the lotion. She arched a delicate eyebrow at him. “Odd?”
“Like… Like you don’t want him turned back.”
She sighed softly and sat down on the edge of the bed. “I’m not sure I do.”
He’d known this, or at the very least suspected it quite strongly, but it still surprised him to hear the words. “Why?”
She was quiet for a moment, collecting her thoughts. “I love Neal,” she finally said, and this didn’t surprise Peter, this he knew, had known was inevitable since the first moment he’d seen El and Neal together, their dark heads bent over the coffee table. El had a big heart, and a soft spot for strays, and it was difficult for anybody to not like Neal. And for the very few people who he let glimpse the real him, it was impossible not to love him. El rubbed a hand over her face. “I love him, and I want what’s best for him, and I’m just not sure that turning him back is it.” She took a breath and looked at him. “What do you know about Neal’s past?”
He shrugged. “The Bureau doesn’t have any record of him before 2001.”
She nodded absently. “I think it wasn’t good. His past.”
“Has he said something?”
She shook her head. “It’s the things he doesn’t say, the look he gets. It’s a feeling I have.”
He smiled, trying to lighten the mood a bit. “Your gut?”
“So… What, El? You want to just leave him like this? Ignore the fact that yesterday he was a grown man, and then what? Keep him? He’s not a puppy, El.”
“I know that, Peter. But why can’t we just… Give him a re-do?”
Peter scrubbed both hands over her face, and sat down beside her. “El, people don’t just get ‘re-do’s.”
She smiled at him. “People don’t just turn into three year-olds either.”
Yeah, okay. He had to give her that one.
“El,” he laid a hand over her knee, “sweetheart, I’m not sure this is our decision to make.”
“Then whose is it?”
Good question. But before he could even begin to think of an answer, a scream rent the air.
They were both up and half way down the hall before Peter even realized he’d moved.
When they half-ran into the room, it was to the sight of Neal pressed tightly against the headboard, eyes wide and wet, searching blindly in the darkness, and still screaming.
Peter switched on the light, while El rushed to his side. The second she reached the bed, Neal launched himself at her, shaking and sobbing, gripping the front of her shirt like a life-line.
“Neal? Neal, baby, what’s wrong?” She pulled him onto her lap, rocking him. “Baby, what is it?”
He continued to sob, a heart wrenching sound, and Peter hated this, hated feeling so useless.
Finally, Neal began to take little hiccupping breaths, settling enough that he could speak between the sobs. “Was back.” Sob. Sniffle. “Dweamed I was back. In pwison.” He whimpered, and tried to snuggle even closer to El. “Woke up and it was dark. Lights out. Always lights out in pwison. Always dark.” He shuddered, and El started making shushing noises, running her hand through his mess of hair, and over his back.
Peter looked away. It was the first time he’d ever felt guilty for catching Neal, for arresting him. He told himself that what he did was right, that Neal was a criminal, that he was just doing his job, that he couldn’t have possibly known that this would happen, but none of it helped.
Not with Neal trembling like he was, not with so many of his tears soaked into El’s pajama top. None of it helped.
It took a good hour for Neal to finally calm down enough to go back to sleep.
Peter still laid awake three hours later, staring at his two favorite people snuggled beside him, a million questions running through his head.
Tomorrow he’d go looking for answers.
Lost Boy - Impulse
Disclaimer: Sadly, I did not get this for my birthday. I am very disappointed.
A/N: I’ve got a billion ideas for this story, but they come to me in little bursts and in no order. Obviously I need to teach the plotbunnies a filing system. It would save me from having to do it. Anywhoo, I felt it was time to include Mozzie, so ta-da! He’s here! Oh, also, sorry that it's taken me so long to post this. My birthday was quickely followed by finals week (yuck!) so I've been insane and sleep-deprived the past several days.
The were in the kitchen when the tapping started.
Tap Tap Tap Tap.
Peter glanced at the clock and tried to figure out who would be dropping by unexpectedly at quarter after five. Diana was covering for him at work, and they weren’t even on any urgent cases, the last one being wrapped up shortly before this, ahem, situation began.
He glanced at Elizabeth, smiling, as she held Neal on one hip while he “helped” by stirring the pasta sauce, before heading towards the front door.
He scowled. Whoever this was, they were extremely irritating. If it was another salesman with a pitch about how wonderful their cleaning products were or how he could save so much money by switching his insurance carrier, he was going to get his gun.
He wasn’t going to use it. Just scare them a little.
Peter jerked the door open and was nearly smashed in the face by the wooden handle of an umbrella.
A pair of eyes blinked at him from behind a pair of thick glasses.
“What are you doing here?”
Mozzie scurried inside, and Peter closed the door behind him.
“The better question Suit, is who else is here.”
Peter resisted the urge he had to squeeze his eyes shut and rub at the bridge of his nose. It was a frequent urge when Mozzie was around. Instead, he sighed. “What?”
“Neal, Suit. He was supposed to meet me at four o’clock to discuss-” his eyes widened a fraction, and shifted around the room. “Things.”
Peter briefly considered pressing that interesting topic, but he knew (unless wine was involved) that he’d get nowhere, and he could smell garlic and tomato sauce and fresh bread coming from the kitchen, and decided that he’d really rather be in there than playing games with Mozzie. “Okay. And you’re here because…”
Mozzie frowned reproachfully. “You’re his keeper. Where is he?”
Peter was just about to come up with a very clever lie and misdirection (hey, Neal wasn’t the only one who could do it, he just got more credit for it because Peter only used his powers for good) when a happy burst of giggles came from the kitchen.
Mozzie’s frown deepened as he headed towards the sound.
Crap. Crap, crap, crap.
Peter tried to think of something to say to stop him as Mozzie reached for the kitchen door, but the only thing that would come to him was “freeze!” and that probably wouldn’t work. He followed, silently, and tried to think up some way of explaining the little boy in the kitchen. Maybe as El’s nephew. That might work. They did look rather a lot alike, after all, the same coloring and-
Mozzie’s baffled voice drew the attention of the other two in the room, and Neal grinned.
“Moz!” Hs cry was exuberant, but sounded rather a bit like “moth”. Not that Mozzie really noticed at this point.
“Wait a second,” Peter said, “how do you know that’s Neal?”
Mozzie shot one of those looks at him, like he was thinking unflattering things about Peter’s IQ and taking great amusement in it.
“And once again, you ask the wrong question, Suit. The better question is how did Neal get like that.” He pointed at the boy in question, who stood holding a sauce-covered wooden spoon, looking back and forth between the two men as if it were a tennis match.
Peter sighed again, and scooped Neal up before Satchmo could get any ideas about that spoon. “I think it had something to do with this idol thing-”
“A gold idol? Kinda small, has some odd-looking geometric writing all over it?”
“Yeah!” Peter replied excitedly, “Yeah, that’s it. It was part of someone’s private collection. When we went to return the La Fresnaye to him Neal couldn’t resist touching it. This happened right after that.”
“Was pwetty,” Neal told them, in between licks of the spoon. “Wanted to feewl the shiny.”
Elizabeth, who (up until now) had been quiet, asked the question Peter wanted to know. “Do you know how to fix it?” Something in her voice made Peter glance at her, but he mentally shrugged. He’d worry about it later.
Mozzie shook his head. “No way, Mrs. Suit. I’ve heard about a couple of things like this, but it’s way beyond my area of expertise.”
Peter removed the spoon from Neal’s hands as he’d moved on from licking it to gnawing on it. “Do you know anyone who would?”
“I generally try to steer clear of cursed objects. Can’t say I know anybody who wouldn’t.”
“Except, obviously, Neal,” Peter said wryly.
Mozzie shrugged. “Haven’t you noticed by now that he’s kinda got impulse control issues?”
Peter wasn’t even going to dignify that with an answer.
Lost Boy - Necessary
Disclaimer: Not mine. Still.
A/N: Ta-da! It’s longer! Yay! And I’m posting it for you guys today (once again, in lieu of homework) as my 21st birthday is tomorrow and I intend to be out drinking (and watching the funny looks on peoples’ faces when they find out that yes, I am in fact 21) rather than at my computer.
Elizabeth stood in the children’s department of Macy’s, trying to convince herself that she didn’t in fact need to buy every cute outfit that she saw, because after all, Peter said that they were going to have this situation reversed in a few days. So really, a couple of outfits would do.
But just to be on the safe side she picked out a dozen.
She’d had to estimate his size of course, and Neal was such a skinny little boy (and young man as well, however much she and June tried to feed him) and she needed to be sure something would fit, so all twelve were necessary.
And he needed PJ’s and underwear, and socks and shoes too, also all necessary, and she wondered what Neal would say when he was back to normal and found that she’d had him in superman underwear and light-up Cars shoes.
She was on her way to the checkout counter when she saw the rack with the tiny bathrobes and towels with hoods that looked like animal heads, and those, she decided, were necessary as well.
She was standing in line to checkout when she noticed the table full of cuddly things, and on impulse, she picked up a soft, fuzzy blue blanket. She was sure it was necessary too.
She paid for her purchases and drove home quickly, then stepped into her home with her arms laden with bags. She set them by the door and called out “Peter! Neal!”
A blur shot out of the kitchen and slammed into her legs. “Liz’bth!” it cried from somewhere around her knees.
She smiled, picking him up and settling him on her hip. “Hi Neal.” She watched Satchmo and Peter exit the kitchen more sedately.
“Hi!” he chirped. “P’tr made a mess,” he informed her delightedly.
She arched an eyebrow at her husband. “Oh he did, did he?”
“Yup. We had ceweal. He spill’ tuh milk. Went evewywhere.” He stretched his arms out and leant back, and she had to adjust her grip to keep him from falling.
“I cleaned it up,” Peter defended, staring at the small mountain of shopping bags. “I thought you were only getting some necessities?”
“These are necessities. Little boys need a lot of things.” She turned to Neal, not having missed the damp patches on his oversized shirt - also probably milk. “Neal, do you want to wash up and put on a new outfit?”
He nodded vigorously and started pulling at his shirt.
“Peter, why don’t you go help him get cleaned up while I find something for him to wear?” Peter reached out to take Neal, and Elizabeth watched as the boy went to him happily, wrapping tiny arms around his neck, and pressing his face against her husband’s chest as he was carried out of the room.
Once they’d managed to wipe the milk residue off of Neal’s face, chest, and hands, and gotten him changed into a pair of Khaki pants and a t-shirt (amid a joyful cry of “Supuh Man!”), Elizabeth decided by the drooping eyelids and almost bobble-head quality of the little boy that maybe it was naptime.
Neal disagreed. And Peter, the coward, had run back out to the Taurus, claiming that he’d left a case file in the car.
“I’m not sleeeeeee-eepy,” Neal claimed, mid-yawn.
“Well, why don’t you just lay down and rest your eyes for a little bit then?” she tried.
“My eyes aren’ sleepy eithew.”
She tried a different tactic. “That’s too bad. I had a special surprise for naptime, but I guess since no one is napping…”
That got his attention. “Suhpwise?”
“Yeah,” she said casually, “but like I said, it’s only for naptimes, so I guess you wouldn’t be interested.”
Neal’s nose scrunched up again, and the pink tip of his tongue peeked out from his lips as he thought this over. “Only fowr naptimes? Can’t be fowr playtime?”
She shook her head, trying to keep from smiling. “Nope. Naptime only.”
Neal kept on his thinking face for a little while longer before sighing. “Okay. Suhpwise pwease.”
Elizabeth knew Neal well enough to confirm. “You’re going to take a nap?”
He nodded, eyes flicking to the bags still piled by the door. “But I’m not sleepy.”
Ten minutes later, Peter found her in the guest bedroom, staring down at Neal, curled up in a little ball, the thumb of one hand in his mouth.
The other hand was curled tightly around the corner of the fuzzy blue blanket.
Oh yeah. Definitely necessary.
Lost Boy: Trouble
Disclaimer: Not mine. But if Santa’s taking requests…
It didn’t take them long to figure out that while Neal was still Neal, he wasn’t just a miniature version of his usual self. Usually Neal was a master at hiding himself, at distracting you while he slipped on a mask so that you’d only see what he wanted you to see. But this new tiny version of Neal, he wasn’t as good at that.
That’s not to say he wasn’t trying. Peter could see that he was, in the way he set his little jaw when he tried not to cry at all the confusion of suddenly being so small and helpless. The way he sniffled so quietly, like no other three(ish) year-old would bother to do, and the way he tried to grin like he wasn’t afraid, even though his lower lip trembled.
A part of Peter, the small part that acknowledged that maybe Neal hadn’t always lived a charmed life, hadn’t always had the ability to dance between raindrops, desperately hoped that this rudimentary attempt to hide himself was a manifestation of the adult Neal, and not something that he’d already had habit of at such a young age.
When they asked him questions, he could answer correctly about who they were, who he was, where they were at. He was still Neal, still had adult-Neal’s memories, but when asked about some things he answered like a child.
“What happened on the case with the stolen jade elephants?” Peter had asked him.
Neal had scrunched up his tiny face in distaste, his nose wrinkling adorably (not that Peter would ever, ever say that aloud, because he was certain they would find a way to fix this, or else he’d finally wake up, and Neal was smug enough as is). “Tuh bad lady twied to shoot me, buts you swaved me P’tr.” The “s” noises in his speech came out slightly whistled and lispy, and between that and the fact that Peter was apparently the unrivaled hero in this child-version of the tale, he had to squash down the very unmanly urge to say “awwww.” Again, not something he would ever, ever admit to. Ever.
Peter mentally reviewed the facts. Okay, so. Neal Caffrey, con man, forger, thief, parolee, and Peter’s Responsibility had turned into a child. Kind of Caffrey’s own fault, in retrospect, because Peter suspected it had something to do with that strange gold idol thing that he’d told Neal not to touch, but that (Neal being Neal) he’d touched anyway.
Then there was the fact that Neal was, in fact, Neal, and not just a three year-old whoever-he-was-before-he-was-Neal, but he was three (or thereabouts, as close as they could tell) with a three year-olds mindset and emotions and ability to process things like almost-getting-shot.
And finally there was the fact that while Diana had been witness to the amazing de-againg of Neal Caffrey, he was still Peter’s Responsibility. And until they found a way to fix whatever had been done to him (which they would, really, because otherwise how in the hell was he going to explain this to the Bureau?) , it looked like he was staying with Peter and Elizabeth.
And if it had been hard to resist Neal’s charms as an adult, it was impossible when a pouting three-year old turned his large blue eyes to you.
They were in so much trouble.
Lost Boy: Conversations
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N - Huh, I don’t really have anything to say. Um, read and review? Please and thank you with sugar on top.
They’d talked about having kids, of course.
It was one of the conversations that every couple in a serious relationship eventually had. So they’d discussed it when they were dating, in a ‘not-opposed-to-the-idea’ kind of way, and then when they were engaged in a ‘sure-someday-I-guess’ kind of way, and then several times throughout their marriage in a ‘it’s-not-the-right-time’ kind of way.
And eventually ten years slipped by without it ever being the right time, because either it was too soon, or they were too busy, or they were too focused on their careers. The last time they had talked about it they’d had another ‘it’s-not-the-right-time’ conversation, and even though they didn’t say it, they were both well aware that maybe it would never be the ‘right time’ until one day it would slip into ‘too late’.
The next day Peter had brought home a tiny yellow lab puppy, and Elizabeth didn’t think they’d ever have that conversation again.
And then years later Peter brought home a tiny little boy with Neal’s eyes and Neal’s smile, and wearing Neal’s hat.
And before Peter could even open his mouth, even begin to try to explain, Elizabeth could see a new conversation looming on the horizon.
One that had changed from ‘it’s-not-the-right-time’ to ‘what-the-hell-do-we-do-now’.
Lost Boy: Nightmares
A/N - Okay, so. A while ago I stumbled across de-aged fics in a different fandom and I liked them way more than I thought I would. And I have found that (sadly) there are very few de-aged!Neal fics out there, so, I got bored in class and have started my own. It’s not great, it’s not even remotely polished, but it’s got widdle!Neal, so… Oh, and for anybody reading my fics “CIAgent” or “Mosaic”, I’m sorry I haven’t been updating, but I got the Blue Screen of Death on the computer with my fics and I’m trying to find a way to save my files, but it’s taking time. I’m sorry for not updating, but this time it’s really not my fault. Honest.
Peter’s had nightmares like this before. They’re usually preceded by a midnight snack of deviled ham, or, on one unfortunate occasion, a meatball sub.
But he’d had chicken last night. He remembered, because they’d had Neal over and he and El had discussed which wines would best compliment the quail she was having served at somebody’s wedding next week. Neal had recommended one he’d tried in Vienna.
Neal, who was standing in front of Peter in a shirt that went down past his knees, and a hat that kept slipping over too-large eyes.
“P’tr?” A tiny voice squeaked out of a tiny body.
He’d had nightmares like this.
Nightmares where Neal Caffrey, world-class con artist, was nothing more than a little boy.
Sometimes he was small and broken and bleeding, because Peter hadn’t protected him, hadn’t prevented him from being shot, or blowing up on a plane.
Sometimes he was just a little voice on a telephone line, begging for Peter to find him, taken, or running, but always missing, always lost.
And sometimes he was just a little boy, his and El’s little boy, with too much energy and a penchant for finding trouble, and enough charm to get out of it.
But he always woke up.
Peter pinched himself hard enough to bruise.
He wasn’t waking up.
A tiny, child-sized version of Neal stared up at Peter and sniffed. “P’tr?”