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Fic: Lost Boy - 7/? - Work


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!"

Peter shuddered.

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."

"Why not?"

"Because they don't."

"Why not?"

"Because it's grown-up work."

"Why?"

Peter pinched the bridge of his nose. "Because it just is."

"Why?"

"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."

Oh.

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.


Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
elrhiarhodan
Jan. 28th, 2011 02:12 am (UTC)
Oh, this is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO good - it's makes me cry, just a little. I've missed this so much and it's just wonderful.

thank you. sigh of happiness.

(Going to read the next chapter)
micheleeeex
Jan. 28th, 2011 02:25 am (UTC)
i love this!!
canaana
Jan. 28th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC)
This is still uncanny. Neal's ability to still be *him* while completely unable to understand the situation is remarkable, and Peter's constant re-adjusting to try and understand all the facets of that is fascinating far beyond the cuteness factor.
lil_miss_maddie
Jul. 7th, 2011 12:56 am (UTC)
Best line!

"Sticky," he informed Peter sadly.

Of course Neal would like a bath.

Also: "Neal frowned, then looked at the bath. "Bubbles?" he asked hopefully."

Rolling. On. The. Floor!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )