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Fic: Lost Boy 6/? - Questions

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?”

“My heart.”

“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.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 12th, 2010 02:12 am (UTC)
I think this may be my first time commenting on this series, but I am loving it (which is surprising, because I don't usually like deaged stories). You've managed to really make an impossible situation both sweet and plausible - particularly 3 year old Neal - without being treacly and overly precious.

Please keep this going.
Dec. 12th, 2010 04:05 am (UTC)
Ooo. Creepifying. It's so easy to look at the cute parts, and so hard to realize that everything is still there, in Neal's head, only now he's got a three-year-old's ability to cope with it.

I'm looking forward to those answers as much as Peter is.
Dec. 12th, 2010 09:05 pm (UTC)
Just found your fic through White Collar Weekly Roundup and I just wanted to say how much I'm enjoying it and how well-written it is! I really hope you keep going.

Thanks so much! Looking forward to reading lots more of it!
Jan. 12th, 2011 03:42 am (UTC)
I don't usually enjoy deaged stories, but you've managed it without crossing into overly done. I've fallen for your little Neal and I hope you'll write more.
Jul. 7th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC)
*hugs Neal*
Get a feeling that the de-ageing has also gotten rid of some emotional barriers Neal had built. Like, he used to have nightmares about prison before, but now he can't control his reactions to them, hence the screaming and crying.
Nice touch.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )