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Fic: Lost Boy - 8/? - Panic


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.


Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
elrhiarhodan
Jan. 28th, 2011 02:23 am (UTC)
I don't know whether I love this more than the last entry, but it is terrific, and terrifying.

I used to scamper off all the time - until my parents threatened to put me on a leash. And how many times to you hear about a child who is lost forever because of a moment's distraction.

I love this and adore this and it's sweet without being treacly (which is often the problem with de-aged fics).

Thank you and I hope you publish more of this soon!
micheleeeex
Jan. 28th, 2011 02:26 am (UTC)
this has to be my favorite part so far!

(i just commented on this chapter at ff.net, but i thought i'd comment again, haha)
ultracape
Jan. 28th, 2011 02:40 am (UTC)
I agree with elrhiarhodan. I generally give de-aged fics no more than a paragraph of notice before I stop wasting my time. But this, this is amazing. You're blending of a three year old's emotional growth and understanding with the memories of the adult is fascinating.
kriadydragon
Jan. 28th, 2011 05:00 am (UTC)
Oooohhhhh! Very powerful chapter. Elizabeth's fear was so accurate and poignant.
tinnuial
Jan. 28th, 2011 05:15 am (UTC)
Ooooh this was amazing...your baby!Neal is the most squishably adorable thing ever and I could so feel Elizabeth's panic at losing him! So glad you're continuing this! :D
longbca
Jan. 28th, 2011 09:12 am (UTC)
Very good
collarchick
Jan. 28th, 2011 01:25 pm (UTC)
You are baaaaaaack!! Yay.... I've been hanging out waiting desperately for your return :). This is one of my all time fav fics and I'm so excited for this new chapter.
ivorysilk
Feb. 8th, 2011 05:07 am (UTC)
I adore this series--and am desperately hoping for more. I am curious to know how Peter deals with this, and what happens!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )