Title: The Best Love Stories Are Always a Bit Odd
Genre: Established Relationship, Romance
Pairing/Characters: Peter/Elizabeth/Neal, Other Female Character
Word Count: 1885
Summary: Post-anklet. Elizabeth catches up with an old friend from college and brings her up to date on the lovers in her life.
A/N: I wrote this for the siblings square on my cottoncandy_bingo card.
“Hey hun, you will never guess who I ran into today,” Elizabeth tells her husband as she walks in the door.
“Who?” Peter says as he goes to greet his wife at the door.
“Remember Kimberly, my sorority sister from college?”
“That name rings a bell. Wasn’t she the one that danced on top of a table at our wedding?” Peter responds.
“That would be her. Anyways, she said she wanted to catch up sometime, so I invited her over Saturday night.”
“Oh?” Peter says as he looks away into the distance.
“What’s wrong?” Elizabeth asks, sensing there is something her husband isn't telling her.
“It’s just that I don’t think she liked me very much, I think that she thinks you could've done better,” Peter says with a frown.
“What? That’s ludicrous.”
“Last time I saw her she said that I was a boring old stiff who has the charisma of a loaf of bread and that you were a beautiful flower who deserved to be with someone who was more daring and enchanting. Someone who could surprise you and whisk you off of your feet.”
“Oh, hun. I'm sorry if she upset you. She was probably just put off by the law enforcement thing. She's always been a bit of a wild child.”
“Maybe,” Peter says with a shrug, clearly unconvinced.
Elizabeth walks towards Peter to give him a reassuring kiss, “I love you, don’t ever forget that.”
“I know.” he kisses her back. “ I love you too.”
“I just realized something. She might has well been talking about Neal when she was describing someone that was daring and enchanting,” Elizabeth says.
"Huh, you're right about that one," Peter says.
"What would you think about telling her about us? Maybe allow her to get to know you a little better."
"I love you and Neal with all of my heart, but I'm not that crazy about broadcasting our relationship, especially one that's as nontraditional as ours," Peter responds.
"Trust me, she believes in free love and would be the last person to judge a poly relationship. We don't even have to make a big deal out of it. "
"I trust you with everything. If you promise everything will be fine, I know it will."
“Hello!” Elizabeth hears someone calling from the doorway and goes to open the door.
“Hi Kimberly, come in come in,” Elizabeth says as she gives her friend a hug.
“Thank you. What a lovely home. Hello Peter, nice to see you again,” Kimberly says.
Peter nods at her. “You too.”
Neal joins everyone in the living room. Kimberly notices him right away.
“Whoa, who is this? Hello gorgeous, where did you come from?” Kimberly’s eyes travel up and down Neal’s body. “More importantly, is he taken?”
Peter walks behind Neal, puts his arms around Neal's stomach and rests his head on the other man's shoulder. “Yes, he is very much taken.” Peter kisses Neal on the cheek.
"What he said," Neal adds with a smile.
"Oh right. Sorry for not introducing him properly. This is Neal. He works with me at my event planning company, wrangling the food vendors and caterers, but more importantly, he's our partner." Elizabeth says as she touches Neal's shoulder.
"Really? Well aren't you full of surprises. That's really great. Wow, Elizabeth, I always knew you were a free spirit, but this is something else. And Peter, this does not sound like the man I knew before. I never would have expected something like this from you," Kimberly says.
"Well, I don't know what else to say. I like smart leggy brunettes,” Peter grins.
"Why don't you all sit down and catch up while I get the coffee. Don't worry, it's a free trade and organic blend," Neal says before he disappears into the kitchen.
“So this is the suburbs, huh? What happened to the girl that went streaking across campus with me?” laughs as she takes a seat on the couch.
“She’s right here, just grown up.” Elizabeth smiles. "I have two amazing lovers, a beautiful home and running a successful small business. What more could I want?”
"I see that. Although, it must be a lot quieter here than it is in Manhattan. Do you miss it?" Kimberly asks.
“I spend too much time there for work to actually miss it and it is just a train ride away. It's not as bad as you might think."
Neal walks in with a tray of four coffee mugs, deftly handing them around before taking a seat on the couch between Peter and Elizabeth with his own mug.
"Neal, Kimberly is an artist. She works at a gallery at one of the co-ops on the lower east side," Elizabeth says.
"Oh really?" Neal looks up with a twinkle in his eye and a devilish grin. "That's interesting,"
"I certainly enjoy it. Are you an art aficionado Neal?" Kimberly asks.
"You could say he's an admirer," Peter says while trying to stifle a grin.
"What's so funny?" Kimberly asks.
"I used to be an artist. In certain kind of way. I'm retired now though. The kitchen is my new love," Neal responds.
"Sounds like you have move from visual art to culinary art. What happened?"
"It's a long, complicated story, Are you sure you want to hear it?" Elizabeth adds.
"Absolutely. The longer and more complicated the better,” Kimberly says as her eyes light up and takes a sip of her coffee.
“Well, It has to do with the way we met. Neal used to be a bond forger and internationally known art thief and I was the agent that caught him and put him in prison,” Peter starts.
Kimberly looks surprised. “That was not the love story I was expecting. So you fell in love with the person who put you in prison?”
“It was a gradual thing,” Neal says. “At first, I respected Peter because he was the only one smart enough to keep up with me. The more I learned about him the more I became enamored with him. Before he caught me, I let him get close a few times so that I could study him.”
“And when I finally caught him, he shook my hand before I brought him in. When he tried to escape prison three years later, he started a work release term with the FBI instead of serving the next four years behind bars. Elizabeth and I knew that he had a kind heart and was not prone to violence, so I figured that it would be best if he could put his skills to good use instead of sitting in a prison cell," Peter says.
“That's when I first met Neal in person. Of course it felt like I had already met him, after hearing so much about him from the stories that Peter told over the years that he was chasing him. Even then, I could see see that he had a general affection for my husband,” Elizabeth says, a soft smile playing on her lips.
“I'll never forget how welcomed you made me feel when you invited me into your home,” Neal smiles warmly at Elizabeth.
“Neal and I grew closer during his years as my CI. I learned that I genuinely liked him and enjoyed his company. We had some late nights where we were just leaving work at 9 or 10 o’clock at night. It became common that I either crashed over at his apartment in the city or I just took him home with me. Even when we weren’t working, Neal would be over here for dinner. Soon, the days that Neal was at our place started to outnumber the days he wasn’t. “
“One night," Elizabeth says, "while Neal was sleeping in our guest room, and we were in bed, I turned to Peter and said ‘It’s beginning to get hard to remember a time when Neal wasn’t such a big part of our lives. I think we have something very special here.’ He nodded and then I said that I was falling in love with Neal,” Elizabeth explains.
Peter nods as she speaks, picking up the story when she looks at him. “And then I said that I loved him too and we would talk to Neal about it first thing in the morning."
Elizabeth smiles. “When we woke up the next morning, Neal was already downstairs in the kitchen making pancakes.”
“When they told me how they felt about me, I was completely speechless. I had no idea what to say, but I didn’t want them to think I wasn’t interested so I gave them each a kiss and said ‘You have no idea how long I have wanted to do that. I love you too.’ Unfortunately, at the time I was still on parole and if anyone at the Bureau found out about our relationship, it would be bad for everyone. That meant to PDA at work and all of our dates either had to be here or at my landlady’s house in Manhattan.” Neal says with a fond smile.
“After Neal’s parole ended, he was offered a position at the Bureau as an analyst. He turned it down so that we didn’t have to keep our relationship a secret,” Peter says.
“Since Peter got to see Neal at work everyday for years, we decided that it would be only fair if it was my turn, so I created position just for Neal at Burke Premiere Events,” Elizabeth says.
“Then I moved in here officially, even though I already spent most of my time here,” Neal says.
“How romantic. You are so lucky to have found each other and look so beautiful together,” Kimberly says.
The four of them continue chatting until all the coffee is finished and Kimberly and Elizabeth fill each other in on the major events that have happened in the past decade of their lives.
Kimberly checks her cellphone to see what time it is. "Oh look at the time. I have an installation tonight that I have to prepare for. I better get going."
“It’s been lovely to see you again,” Elizabeth says.
“It was nice to catch up. Maybe we won't wait as long to see each other again," Kimberly says as she stands up from the couch.
"Absolutely. Maybe we can go out to dinner next time," Elizabeth says she get hugs her friend.
"Neal, it was very nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Neal says as he puts the empty coffee cups on the tray to bring back into the kitchen.
“Here, I’ll walk you to the door," Peter offers.
“Peter, what a gentleman,” Kimberly says as she follows Peter to the door
As Peter opens the door, Kimberly gives him a small peck on the cheek. “I’m sorry if I had the wrong idea about you all those years ago. Elizabeth and Neal are lucky to have you.”
“Apology accepted. We are all pretty lucky, really. Thank you for listening to our odd love story."
"The best love stories are always a bit odd. I enjoyed listening to it."
"Thanks. Have a good night," Peter says with a wave.
“You too,” Kimberly says as she waves back and walks down the front steps and out to the street.