Word Count: 2121
Warnings: m/m/f kissing, pre-OT3
Summary: Neal notices that Peter acts differently around him than he does anyone else, but has trouble admitting it.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to USA network; I have no illusions to the contrary.
A/N: This is my 20th fanfic, and I was very close to not even finishing it. I couldn't have done without all the comments and advice that people have given me. I would especially like to thank rabidchild67 , for not only being one of my favorite WC writers, but for giving me the constructive feedback I needed to make this fic less sucky.
“Peter is incredibly handsy with everyone,” Neal says to himself as Peter grabs his arm and leads him up the stairs to his office. But when he thinks about it further, he realizes, “I have never seen Peter lay a hand on Jones’ shoulder or let his hand linger after giving Diana a pat on the back.”
Neal decides he wants answers. He cautiously avoids Peter for the rest of the day and only speaks to him when he absolutely has to.
On the car ride back to June’s, Neal decides it’s as good a time as any to find out what’s going on.
“Peter,” Neal says.
“Neal,” Peter says with a wide smile on his face.
“So, I was just wondering,” Neal has trouble finding the right words for the situation, “Would you say you’re an affectionate person?”
Peter’s smile starts to fade as he navigates the city traffic. “I guess so. I haven’t ever really thought about it. Is someone making you uncomfortable?” Peter asks.
“No, not really. Just forget it.”
Peter takes advantage of the red light and stopped traffic to hazard a look into Neal’s eyes. “You never forget anything Neal, so spill.”
“It’s nothing important. It’s just that you seem to enjoy touching me. It’s not like it annoys me or anything. I was just wondering... Is it a possessive thing, a control thing? Or maybe something else entirely?”
“I honestly didn’t notice. You know I don’t like lending you to other agents, so maybe it’s a subconscious move on my part. But there’s nothing more to it,” Peter answers.
Even though that was the answer Neal expected, he has a hard time not being at least a little disappointed as he looks out the car window, staring at the world going by.
In the silence that follows, Peter finds himself slightly perplexed. He starts trying to think of why Neal would bring this up in conversation.
The silence follows them on their way uptown until they reach June’s front door.
When Peter gets home later that night, he kisses his wife hello and gives her a bigger hug than usual. After a minute or two Elizabeth tries to pull back, but her husband only holds on tighter.
“Honey, are you okay?” she asks, slightly worried.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” Peter tells his wife as he releases her from his grasp. “I was just thinking about something that happened today.”
“It’s about Neal, isn’t it. What happened? Is he in any trouble?” Elizabeth asks with concern.
“Oh, no. It’s nothing like that. But it’s complicated and, quite frankly, a little confusing.”
“Let’s sit down and talk about it for awhile. Maybe I can help figure out what’s bothering you.” Elizabeth pulls her husband to the couch.
“Have I told you recently that I have the most gorgeous, understanding and smart wife in the world?” Peter says.
Elizabeth sits down on the couch and looks at her husband. “You may have done that on more than a few occasions. But that doesn’t mean that each one of them isn’t meaningful.”
Peter slowly smiles, but he still feels uncertain, “I’m more in love with you now than the day I married you.”
“I know that. I know that you love me Peter. What’s troubling you?” Elizabeth asks with all sincerity.
“Okay, okay, enough stalling, I get it. It’s just that...you’ve seen me around Neal, right?”
“Of course.” Elizabeth’s interest is piqued, as she looks her husband directly in the eyes.
“Did you happen to notice how often my hands were on him, or if I ever touched him a little too much?”
Elizabeth’s eyes soften and her previous concerned look is relaxed by the hint of a smile.“You’re an affectionate person, and when it comes to Neal, maybe a little territorial. But I don’t think you’ve ever acted inappropriately. You like to show people how you feel about them through touch, because you have trouble with words…sometimes.”
“Ouch,” Peter responds and feigns being offended. “It’s just that on the ride home today, Neal said he’s noticed that I often initiate physical contact. He wanted to know why. He asked if it was a power thing…and then he asked if it was something else.”
“Something else? Oh, what did you tell him?”
“I didn’t know what I was supposed to say. Should I have been expecting this? Was I doing something wrong? I told him that I didn’t notice and that there was nothing to it,” he says in a rush and takes a breath before he continues. “I’m guessing that wasn’t what he expected to hear because then he shut down.”
“Then what happened?” Elizabeth asks.
“Nothing happened. He didn’t say a word until he said good night as he was getting out of the car,” Peter answers.
“Okay and how are you feeling now?”
“Confused, I guess. Maybe even a little disappointed to be honest.”
“Peter, you were probably unaware of how intimate you were being with him. Instead of putting your feelings into words and just telling him, your emotions find their own way of expressing themselves. You’re doing the work your mouth didn’t know it had to do. You clearly have affection for him.”
“Are you sure? Are you saying that I am falling in love with him? How is that supposed to work? I’m already in love with you. Right? I can’t just decide that I might love someone else.”
“I’d say that you have already fallen for him, and from what you told me, he may feel the same.
Everything is going to be okay, baby. I will always love you and I know for a fact that you love me. That will never change. We need to look at this as an opportunity to be even happier.”
“But so many things could go wrong. And even if this,” Peter gestures his hands back and forth, ”is going to happen, what about you? How is this fair to you?” Peter asks.
“No matter what decision we make, some big things are going to change. It’s going to be okay.” Elizabeth moves to comfort her husband, “Nothing has actually even happened yet. You are going to have to talk to him. And as for me, make sure to ask him if he’s open to sharing and that I would be interested in making it worth his while.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. I think I’ll be able to manage. Why don’t you call June and make a play date for Satchmo and Bugsy and should the need arise, you can be my backup. Since I’m horrible with making the right words come out of my mouth and all,” Peter comments. “And if everything goes to plan like it should, your presence will be very much needed - maybe by Neal too.”
“That sounds fantastic. I love the way you think.”Elizabeth responds.
Peter gives her a kiss, “Thank you.”
The next day June and Bugsy meet Peter, Elizabeth and Satchmo at the door.
As June welcomes them Elizabeth feels slightly self-conscious because this is only the second time she has been inside her house and if the night goes the way she wants it too, things can get awkward. Judging from the warmth in June’s smile, maybe there won’t be as big an issue as she thinks.
Satchmo and Bugsy start sniffing each other while June talks to Peter. “You can make your way up to Neal’s loft.”
Elizabeth smiles at her husband and gives him a wink as he climbs the stairs.
“June, you have such a lovely home.”
“Thanks dear, why don’t we go sit down.”
“That would be great.” As they walk to the sitting room, Elizabeth tests the mood, “So June, I bet you are wondering why we scheduled an impromptu doggie date. It is a little complicated.”
“Oh hun, don’t even worry about it. Believe me, I have seen more than you can possibly imagine.”
Elizabeth sits farther back into her seat, feeling more relaxed.
After he climbs the steps, Peter knocks on Neal’s door and waits for him to appear. When Neal opens the door, Peter doesn’t push his way past him as he’s done in the past, but remains on the other side of the door frame. Neal notices his apprehension, but doesn’t comment.
“Hey Peter, what’s up?”
“I want to talk to you about something that’s been bothering me.”
“Ok,” Neal says slightly confused,” do you want to come inside?”
Peter waits a moment before he says “sure” and closes the door behind him.
“So...,” Neal starts.
“I just wanted to say that I’m sorry,” Peter interrupts.
“Sorry about what?”
“For the other day, during the car ride home, you asked me … if there was any reason why I sometimes hover too close to you or sometimes can’t keep my hands to myself when I am around you.”
“You weren’t wrong. I do those things on purpose. I make every attempt to get into your personal space, because … ” Peter takes a step towards Neal so he can put his hands on both sides of the younger man’s face, “I have fallen in love with you.”
Neal closes the distance between them and claims Peter’s mouth with his own. After their lips part, their foreheads remain pressed together.
Neal whispers, “Good thing, because if you had waited any longer I would have been forced to strip you naked right where you stood. I needed this.”
“Me too,” Peter says as he moves back and gives Neal a chaste kiss on his forehead.
“What about Elizabeth? Does she need this too?”
“Absolutely. She’s downstairs with June making sure that I don’t chicken out.”
“I think you did quite well.”
“Uh... thanks. We should go get her, she’s going to want her turn.”
Downstairs, Elizabeth and June’s conversation is interrupted by a chirp from her phone.
June smiles and says, “I think that’s your cue, dear. I’ll keep a watch on the four legged ones over there.”
“I think you’re right. I’d better go up there. Thank you for everything,” Elizabeth tells June while trying not to blush.
Back upstairs Neal tells Peter, “I already texted her, she should be on her way up”
“Shh.. relax, just enjoy,” Neal softly mutters into Peter’s ear.
“I plan on doing just that. Just as soon as we can get rid of these clothes so I can feel you completely.”
Peter had already pulled Neal’s shirt out of his pants and was halfway through unbuttoning the too many buttons that stood between him and Neal’s chest when they heard a knock on the door.
“You boys decent?” Elizabeth calls through the door.
“Not even close, but come in anyway,” Neal answers.
Elizabeth enters the room. “How we doing in here?”
Neal disengages from Peter, shirt completely unbuttoned and falling off of his shoulders, and faces Elizabeth. “Your husband and I have been having the most fascinating conversation.”
“Oh, I see. Did he say anything profound?” Elizabeth wonders.
“He may have mentioned that he has fallen in love with me and apologized for any earlier action that said otherwise. He was very convincing.” Neal responds.
“So no more confusion? Good. And you know that you have to share both of us, right?”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Neal says as he walks over to Elizabeth and brings their lips together in a passionate kiss.
During their kiss, Neal’s shirt falls completely off of his shoulders as Elizabeth moves her hands to the buckle on his pants. As Elizabeth removes the belt, Peter pulls Neal’s pants down off of his legs from behind him, kissing his bare shoulder as he does so. Elizabeth holds on to Neal as he carefully steps out of his pants. Neal turns around to distract Peter with his lips while Elizabeth works on divesting Peter of his shirt and pants. Afterwards, it takes only seconds for Peter to find the zipper on the back of Elizabeth’s dress as he pulls it down like he has many times before. The way her dress slides off her tender frame never fails to put him in a momentary daze.
“Let’s go,” Peter whispers as he pulls Neal towards the bed.
When Neal crawls into bed next to Peter, his hands move towards the other man’s boxers.
“How about not tonight baby. I just want to feel your skin against mine tonight.” Peter lays down flat on his back and gestures for Neal to lay across his chest. As Neal nods in agreement and gets comfortable and finds a place on Peter’s shoulder to rest his head, he feels Elizabeth’s hand reaching across his back.