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Fic - Awake My Soul, Part IV
Payback-Hug
doctor_fangeek
Notes, etc. in Part I post, blah, blah, blah...


It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart,
but the welcome I receive with the restart.


They do check it out, and the Marshals confirm what Neal’s said, at least in terms of his arrangement with the FBI. But Peter’s not answering his phone, Reese Hughes is out of town at a conference of some kind, and the NYPD has more important things to do at the moment than trying to track down someone else at the Bureau who can vouch for Neal, so they stick him in a holding cell for the time being.

He paces for a while, full of nervous energy, listening for any sound, any sign that someone might be coming for him, that they’ve managed to reach Peter. It’s been a long day, however – a long week, for that matter – and the strain and the lack of sleep finally have a chance to catch up with him, and he finds himself dropping down on the bunk at the back of the cell. He leans his elbows on his knees and his head on his clasped hands, and he closes his eyes. Maybe if he can fall asleep, he’ll be able to wake up from this nightmare. But when his eyes drift shut, he can hear Keller’s voice in his head, mocking him, and he can see Elizabeth in his mind’s eye, and Keller has her by the arm, a gun pressed to her temple. It’s like a punch to the gut. He knows Keller. He should have seen this coming sooner. He and Mozzie should have left as soon as they knew Keller was in town. Or he should have told Peter. But he kept trying to play both sides, and now…. If anything happens to Elizabeth, Neal isn’t sure he can forgive himself. And even if she’s okay, he’s still put her in danger. Neal looks up, gaze fixed on the cell bars. Even if he doesn’t end up back in prison, even if, by some miracle, Peter and Elizabeth still want him in their lives, he needs to ‘cowboy up’ and do the right thing. He needs to let them go. He couldn’t bring himself to do it to protect them from Keller, and look where that’s gotten them. That is, of course, assuming that Neal was able to reach Peter in time and that Peter was able to get to Elizabeth before Keller did. Neal squeezes his eyes shut, blinking back the tears that threaten to fall, and offers a silent plea to whatever higher power might be listening to please, please, please, let Elizabeth be safe. And Peter as well – Keller won’t hesitate to take him out if he needs to. And then he goes back to thinking about all the things he could have done differently. It’s a vicious cycle, but one Neal can’t seem to pull out of. He’s so lost in his own thoughts that when the approaching footsteps finally come he doesn’t hear them.

“All right, Caffrey,” someone says, and it’s the gruffly spoken words that finally get Neal’s attention. “You’re free to go.”

“What?” is the only response Neal can manage at the moment. He has no idea how long he’s been sitting there, and he can barely process what the cop standing on the other side of the bars is saying. They’re just letting him go?

“Your handler’s here. We’re releasing you into his custody,” the man explains. “On your feet,” he adds when Neal just sits there, uncomprehending.

“Neal,” says another voice, a voice he knows. “C’mon, buddy, let’s get you out of here.”

“Peter?”

The cop opens the door, and Peter steps around him and into the cell. He’s really there, and he looks whole and well, but Neal still needs to know, to be sure, though he’s not sure if he can even bring himself to voice the question he needs to ask.

“Elizabeth?” Neal makes himself say, and he can barely hear his own voice.

“She’s fine,” Peter says.

“Was I right? Did Keller…?” He asks, but he can’t bring himself to finish the thought.

Peter nods. “We caught him a block from the house.”

Neal should be relieved, and he is, but the sympathy in Peter’s eyes is too much, and, well, wrong, and the whole thing was too close. Neal has to look away, so he turns his attention to his hands, which he only now realizes are shaking.

“Neal,” Peter says. “Look at me,” and there is something in his voice that Neal finds himself automatically responding to. Peter looks him in the eye and lays a hand on his shoulder, solid and reassuring. “I’m sorry I didn’t get here sooner,” he says, “but my calls were going straight to voicemail, and then I had to go back to the office and deal with things there.”

“What?” Neal blurts out, interrupting. Why is Peter apologizing? “Peter, no,” he says. “This is all my fault. I wanted to stay. I was going to stay. But then Keller was back, and I should have told you as soon as I knew, but then I thought M…” He almost says Mozzie’s name, but catches himself just in time. “Maybe it would be safer for everyone if I left. I knew you’d be upset, but it would be worth it if you and Elizabeth were safe. But then I couldn’t decide, and I waited too long, and if anything had happened to El….” Some part of Neal knows he’s rambling, but he can’t seem to stop himself.

“Stop it, Neal,” Peter says, and he doesn’t sound angry, but his voice has that note of command that it sometimes gets, the one that Neal can’t seem to help but obey. This time is no different, and Neal’s frantic monologue comes to an abrupt stop.

Peter smiles at him in response, and some of the tension that’s got Neal strung so tight eases, just a bit.

“Listen to me, Neal. I’m fine. Elizabeth is fine. We got Keller. The rest can wait.”

“But Peter,” Neal says. As much as Neal is glad to hear that everyone is all right, things were close, too close, to going horribly wrong. This thing with Peter and Elizabeth, whatever it might have ultimately become, wasn’t meant to be.

“We’ll talk about it later, Neal. But right now you’re going to get your things and I’m going to take you home,” Peter says, in that same commanding tone, and the next thing Neal knows he’s been processed back out of the NYPD lockup and is slumped in the passenger seat of Peter’s Taurus.

And apparently finally able to let go enough to fall asleep, since the next thing he’s aware of after that is Peter’s hand on his shoulder, gently shaking him awake. Except when he blinks his eyes open and turns to open the car door, he’s in Brooklyn, not on Riverside Drive. Some part of Neal’s brain is thinking that this is wrong, that he shouldn’t be here – and didn’t Peter say that he was taking him home – but everything is kind of fuzzy around the edges right now, and Neal is just about dead on his feet, and it’s easier just to follow Peter’s lead for now. So when Peter guides him up to the Burke’s guest bedroom, hands him a pair of worn sweatpants and an old college t-shirt, and tells him to get some sleep and that they’ll talk in the morning, Neal just does as he’s told. He’s just aware enough before he falls asleep to think to himself that he’ll tell Peter everything in the morning, and surely Peter and Elizabeth will see – if they haven’t already – that any sort of serious relationship with him will just get them hurt. And if Neal is very lucky, he will still have their friendship and he won’t be on his way back to prison.

When Neal wakes the next morning, it takes him a minute to process where he is and what he’s doing here. He blinks his eyes open and drags his head off the pillow, peering blearily across the room where sunlight is streaming in the window of the Burke’s guest bedroom. And it all comes back to him in a rush, Keller’s strange phone call, Neal’s sudden realization of what was happening, his frantic calls to Mozzie – and Neal hopes his friend got away all right – and Peter. How close things had come to an outcome Neal can barely contemplate.

He takes a couple of deep breaths. He’s not out of the woods yet. He promised Peter that he would explain everything and he will. And he’ll deal with the fallout, whatever it may be. But strangely, that seems like the easy part of what is about to come. After last night, it’s clear that Peter is still willing to listen to Neal and to help him. And Neal shudders at the thought of how different their conversation might have been if Neal hadn’t anticipated Keller’s last move…. But his conversation with Peter and Elizabeth a few weeks ago. And was it really just a few weeks ago? It seems like another lifetime now. Neal knows what he has to do, but he aches at the thought of it. He’d just about convinced himself that it wasn’t an impossible dream, but after this whole thing with Keller he can’t imagine it. He won’t put them in that kind of danger again. Neal glances at the clock. It’s about a quarter to eight. He should get up and make himself presentable. He sees his clothes from last night folded neatly on the chair in the corner, along with fresh towels. It’s just a little surreal, how, well, normal it all seems.

Neal grabs a quick shower and quietly makes his way down the stairs, pasting a pleasant smile on his face as he goes and steeling himself for what he has to do, only to almost lose his nerve at the sight that greets him as he makes his way toward the kitchen. Elizabeth is sitting at the little kitchen island with a coffee mug in her hands, Satchmo lazing next to her chair, and Peter is leaning in from behind to give her a quick kiss as he reaches past her to set a plate down. Satch sees Neal first and thumps his tail a couple of times before scrambling to his feet and coming over to give Neal his usual enthusiastic greeting. Elizabeth looks up maybe a fraction of a second before Peter.

“Good morning, Neal,” she says, and though she seems perhaps a bit subdued, her smile is warm and genuine and almost more than Neal can take. Peter smiles as well, and asks Neal if he wants an omelet. Neal doesn’t quite know how to deal with this, with them, so he says yes, and sits down, even though he’s not really hungry. He’s relieved when Elizabeth doesn’t try to make small talk, and the silence isn’t as awkward as he might have expected, but he’s still too keyed up to eat when Peter sets a plate down in front of him. Neal picks at his food, trying to eat just enough to keep up appearances. He’s obviously off his game, though. Or maybe Peter just knows him too well. Or maybe both.

“Not hungry?” Peter asks.

“Sorry,” Neal replies, and isn’t that a word fraught with meaning right about now, even if at the moment Neal is literally just apologizing for not eating his breakfast.

“It’s okay, Neal,” Peter says, and even though Neal’s pretty sure he’s just talking about the eggs as well, it could mean so many things.

“We need to talk, Peter,” Neal says. And they really do, before Neal loses his nerve.

“Yeah, we do,” Peter agrees with a nod.

“I’m going to grab a shower,” Elizabeth says as she gets up to take her plate to the sink, pausing on the way to share a brief kiss with her husband. As she passes him on her way back she bends down to give Neal a peck on the cheek. “You’ll be fine,” she says. Neal has no idea what to say to that, but tries to summon up a smile.

Peter pours two fresh mugs of coffee and nods in the direction of the dining table. They sit down, Peter hands Neal one of the mugs, and Neal takes a moment to collect himself.

“I really didn’t steal the treasure,” he says.

“I believe you,” Peter replies. “I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions like that.”

“Maybe not,” Neal says. “I was certainly angry when you accused me.” He pauses. Takes a breath. “And hurt,” he adds, though that part is hard to say. “But I could have handled things better too. I broke into your house, Peter. That’s a pretty big line to cross.”

“Yeah, it is. And I was pretty angry when you told me,” Peter responds. “And hurt.” Peter appears to be gathering his thoughts. Neal waits. “We both made mistakes,” Peter says after a moment’s contemplation. “Now how about you start at the beginning, and we try to fix things instead of breaking them?”

So Neal does. He starts with the explosion at the warehouse and tells Peter everything – well, everything he can without bringing Mozzie into it. Peter thankfully doesn’t ask him any questions he knows Neal can’t – or rather won’t – answer. The conversation is, if anything, easier than Neal expected. Peter tells him that they have plenty to work with. Yes, Neal knew about the treasure and didn’t tell anyone, but he also was instrumental in preventing the kidnapping of the wife of a federal agent, he knew about the treasure and didn’t run, and now he’s voluntarily turning it in. Legally, the fallout from all of this looks like it won’t be such a big thing.

Emotionally, well that’s another story. That conversation is, if anything, harder than Neal thought it would be. Peter is asking questions that Neal can’t answer, wanting him to explain his sudden change of heart. He just doesn’t seem to understand that Neal’s backing off is the best thing for everyone. Neal refuses to put them in danger. Eventually Peter gives up in frustration, imploring Neal to think about what he’s doing (as if he hasn’t agonized over this decision already) and declaring that he’s taking Satchmo for a walk and they’ll talk again later. Neal is frustrated as well, and he doesn’t even have an outlet for it. If he were at June’s, he’d paint or maybe go for a run, but he doesn’t have his art supplies and while the Burke’s house is an exception to his radius, the rest of their neighborhood is not. He tries pacing the length of the living room, but it’s not helping, so he pours himself some fresh coffee sits back down at the table trying to think of some new way to make his point to Peter when he returns.

That is where El finds him when she comes downstairs a couple of minutes later.

“Neal?” Neal hears Elizabeth’s voice behind him. He turns around and Elizabeth holds out a hand to him and gestures with her head toward the living room. “Sit with me a minute?” Neal can’t say no to her, especially in the face of her kindness after all that’s happened. He gets up, allowing her to take his hand and lead him to the sofa. They sit, and he focuses on their joined hands, not quite willing to look her in the eye. “Peter says that you’ve changed your mind about us?”

Peter’s brought out the big guns, and the sadness in Elizabeth’s voice pulls at Neal, but he knows he has to hold his ground on this. He takes back his hand, trying to create a little distance between himself and Elizabeth. He’s about to launch into his carefully constructed argument for why they need to keep their distance, the one that he’s just spent the last half hour or so unsuccessfully trying to sell to Peter, when he looks up, needing to look her in the eye for this conversation. “Why are you being so nice to me?” he finds himself blurting out instead. He’s been feeling vaguely wrong-footed since he woke up in the Burke’s guestroom…actually really since Peter came to get him out of the NYPD lockup.

Elizabeth gives him a look that clearly says she expects him to elaborate on that question. “If I hadn’t taken so long to make a decision,” he begins, “Keller might not have come after the treasure. I could have just walked away from it in the first place. I should have told Peter as soon as I knew Keller was back in town. He was down the street from your house! Aren’t you angry?”

Neal catches Elizabeth’s slight shudder, but it passes quickly and she gathers herself to answer his question. “Am I angry that Matthew Keller was going to kidnap me to use as leverage against my husband? Yes. But that’s Keller’s fault, not yours.”

“Elizabeth,” Neal tries to interrupt, but she holds up a hand and gives him a look that says he’d better not. He doesn’t.

“Frankly, I’m more upset that you tried to con me out of information about Peter’s investigation.”

When Neal doesn’t immediately reply, she gives him a skeptical look, but elaborates nonetheless. “The painting of the Chrysler building?” Oh, yeah, that. “And then of course there was my ‘date’ with Mozzie to get me out of the house so you could break in.”

Neal’s brain immediately starts trying to find a way to spin things that is less damning – it’s pretty much instinct – but he ruthlessly quashes that train of thought. “I’m sorry,” is all he says, and it’s the absolute truth.

“Good. But what happened last night? If you had known what Keller was planning from the start, would you have hidden it from Peter?”

“No! Of course not!”

“If Keller had succeeded….” Elizabeth pauses a moment, takes a deep breath, but then plunges ahead. “If he’d demanded the treasure. Would you have given it to him?”

“For you? In a heartbeat.”

“Exactly.”

“It’s really that easy?”

Elizabeth sighs and shakes her head at him. “Have you made some bad choices?” she says. “Yes. Am I upset by some of them? Yes. But none of that is anything that can’t be fixed. And you are not responsible for the things that Keller is willing to do. Understood?

Neal’s not so sure he’s ready to absolve himself from blame for Elizabeth nearly being kidnapped. But by the same token it’s not really his place to tell her how to feel.

“I’m not quite there,” he says honestly, “but I’ll try.”

“Fair enough,” Elizabeth replies. “Now, about you and Peter? And us? He says you’re trying to protect us.”

“I’m the one who put you – both of you – in Keller’s crosshairs.”

“What does my husband do for a living, Neal?”

“I don’t think most of the white collar criminals Peter’s put in prison are anywhere near as dangerous as Matthew Keller.”

“And most of your former associates are?”

“Maybe not, but I’ve made some enemies that are not very nice people. And you shouldn’t have to pay for my mistakes. Not even once.”

“I knew what I was getting into when I married Peter. Any relationship we have with you, we’re going in with our eyes open. We’re adults, Neal, we can make our own decisions about what we want.”

“And I can’t decide what I don’t want?”

“If you can look me in the eye and tell me, honestly, that you don’t want to be with us.”

The lie is on the tip of Neal’s tongue, but he finds that can’t bring himself to tell it, so he just looks away. He has the sinking feeling that he is losing this argument. It probably doesn’t help that there is a part of him that doesn’t want to win.

“Neal, sweetie,” Elizabeth finally says into the silence that has taken over. “Unless you plan on ending your friendship with us entirely, I don’t think it’s going to change anything. Keller didn’t know, did he?”

“What? No.”

“And yet he still came after us. He kidnapped Peter. He tried to kidnap me.”

Neal doesn’t really have a response to that.

“Peter could lose his job,” he says instead.

“And you could go back to prison,” Elizabeth counters. “And you knew all of that before Keller showed up. We all know that this won’t be easy. We’ll have to be careful. But Peter and I think it’s worth it.”

There’s a part of Neal that – after watching Kate die, the plane exploding right in front of him – finally, truly, bought into the idea that a happy ending wasn’t in his future. At the moment it’s telling him that this will never work, that it can only end in pain.

Then he turns back to look at Elizabeth. “You’re worth it,” she says, and the look on her face is almost enough to drive the doubt away, and he’s reminded of all of the reasons why he had decided to say yes in the first place. “Stay?”

“Yes.”


There will come a time, you’ll see
with no more tears,
and love will not break your heart,
but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill, and see
what you find there,
with grace in your heart
and flowers in your hair.


One month later…

When Peter wakes up, the rest of the bed is empty. He takes a moment to stretch out, savoring the extra room, before getting up. The smell of coffee and the sound of laughter coming from the kitchen greet him as he makes his way down the stairs. And stops at the sight that greets him. Neal is at the counter next to the stove, chopping something. El walks behind him on her way to the coffee maker. She stops and puts a hand on his shoulder. Neal leans into the touch, then turns his head to smile at her, and she pulls him down for a kiss. He’s barefoot, and still dressed in his burgundy sleep pants, though he’s pulled on a plain white tee, and he looks so relaxed and at home that Peter can’t help but smile. He has a strong suspicion that it’s what Neal likes to call his “sappy smile,” but he doesn’t care. This relationship of theirs is still a work in progress. Neal, so confident in almost everything else, is still often skittish, prone to doubting his place in Peter and Elizabeth’s life, and moments like this, moments of quiet domesticity, are treasured.

The practical aspects have actually been the easiest. Neal is very good at keeping secrets, and so is Peter – at least from people other than Elizabeth – and El, El is a planner and perhaps the most devious of them all. She was more affected by the near miss with Keller than she let on, but the after-effects are fading. Thankfully the legal fall-out from the whole treasure episode was minimal. Neal gave Peter the anonymous note and took him to the warehouse, where they found not only everything on the manifest the FBI had recovered, but a surprisingly large number of other pieces. Peter has his suspicions about the envelope that Neal snatched up as soon as they walked in the room, but he didn’t ask and Neal didn’t tell. There is the little matter of Neal concealing his knowledge of the stolen art, but a lot fewer questions are asked when things are being returned than when they go missing in the first place. And it’s not as if anyone really knows exactly what was in the submarine in the first place, so Neal can’t be called on things that might, perhaps, have disappeared since the explosion.

The emotional part is a bit harder, and they’re all still finding their way. But days like today give Peter hope. He’s still just standing there, watching, when Satchmo stirs from where he had been napping on the floor in one corner of the kitchen, scrambles to his feet, and pads over to greet Peter, nails clicking on the floor. El turns around then and smiles at him, that smile that always makes Peter wonder what he did to deserve her, and brings him a cup of freshly poured coffee. Neal stops chopping and grabs a towel to wipe off his hands before coming over to join them. “Morning, Peter,” he says as he steps in close and distracts Peter with a quick kiss before stealing his coffee and dancing away with a cheeky grin on his face. Peter just smiles fondly and thinks to himself that there is hope for them yet.

The End



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I really can't begin to thank you enough for this. It is wonderful - it has EVERYTHING I love. The long, slow sadness of wanting, the need to reconcile actions with feeling, the utter rightness of this relationship.

AND THEY ACTUALLY TALKED.

That is the best thing of all.

I need to take an evening and go back through all the parts to pick out my favorite bits (probably tomorrow night). But this is a masterpiece - something I will forever include as a seminal fic for both S3 and all of White Collar fanon.

THANK YOU!

This is not the end.
Live unbruised, we are friends

First of all, you are very, very welcome.

And I should probably thank *you* for getting me started writing this, even if you didn't do it intentionally or even know you'd done it until a couple of days ago. :-) I'd had the idea for the beginnings of it for a while (complete with the Mumford & Sons quotes that went with those sections), but the decision to try to write you something as a "thank you" was what ultimately spurred me to actually get going on it.

Secondly, I am so, so happy that you like it so much. There were times, after the new season started and the canon was flying fast and furious (and then *school* started and my life got so much busier), that I despaired of ever finishing. And the word count kept growing - I think the longest thing I'd written before this was a bit over 5K. But the story had taken root in my brain, and I knew where it needed to go if I could just get it there.

Oh, and I'm also flailing just a little bit after reading the last part of your comment. Thank you so much!

Happy panda is happy. ;-)

Oh, thank you so much for this! *Does ecstatic Snoopy leaf dance in the frost* It is the best of all possible pre-mid season premier fics, and it is wonderful! So, so, so warm and cuddly and fluffy and wonderful!

Thank you for the long hours of work and care that went into getting this ready for just the RIGHT moment. You are a lovely Dr. Fangeek, you are!

You are very welcome, and *thank you* for commenting. So glad you enjoyed it. Snoopy dance, ftw!

This is absolutely beautiful and lovely. I seem to lack the words to describe this, so I'll go with simple - amazing. Well done.
Really, it's such a simple resolution. Just because they talked and had each other's back, instead of all the accusations, cons and lies. You gave them a beautiful happy ending and they have truly earned it.
Neal/Peter/El forever.
Beautiful.

Thank you so much for the lovely feedback. This really did start with the simple idea of, "What if Peter decided to talk to Neal about what happened?" and then the effects of that one decision just sort of rippled out from there. I'm so glad that it worked so well for you. Thanks again for commenting.

This is a wonderful story. I wish Peter had talked to Neal in the show instead of just flat out accusing him. It would've made a big differance in season 3.

Thanks for commenting. It was interesting to explore how things might have gone differently. Glad you liked it.

I love love love love love love love love this! (That was a lot of love, heh)

Awwwwwww. I'm feeling the love here! :-)

Thanks so much!

(Deleted comment)
Thank *you* for commenting. I also wondered what would happen if they talked (and not just Peter & Neal, but Neal & Mozzie), and it was definitely interesting to explore.

Also, Sigh No More, the album, is amazing from top to bottom. Love them!

Beautiful fic - I wish this is the way it happened. Maybe you could apply for a job with Jeff Eastin?

Thanks for commenting, and I'm very glad that you liked it so much.

With the new canon coming in as I was working, I sometimes wondered if I would ever finish, and then I was hoping to get it done less "under the wire" in terms of Season 3 starting up again. I don't know how much people want to read alternate versions of Season 3 now that we have new episodes again.

That's my kind of rambly way of saying that I'm glad you found the story, and were interested enough to read. Thanks again for the very kind feedback.

Loved this! Love happy-ending OT3s where Neal's uncertainty and insecurity is answered with love and acceptance...

Again, your icon rocks! :-)

I am glad you found this story, and very glad you liked it so much. I appreciate the squee!

This was by far the longest thing I'd ever written, and while I did get it finished and posted before the second half of Season 3 started airing, it was a near thing, and I was afraid that a lot of people weren't looking for long fic the day (really night) before the first new episode aired. And then we had the canon version. Since mine went OT3 it was ultimately always going to be AU, but I wonder if it would have maybe gotten a few more hits if it had come out in the middle of the hiatus instead of hours before the start of S3.5. Okay, now I'm rambling. Thanks again for the feedback!

...I wonder if it would have maybe gotten a few more hits if it had come out in the middle of the hiatus instead of hours before the start of S3.5...

Hey, at least you FINISHED yours... :-} though I did put my half-finished S.3-cliffhanger story ("Rescue"; part 1's on my LJ) in a Fic-finishing thing a couple days ago (one of those things where you post anywhere from three to 10 W.i.P.s or plot-bunnies, and everyone votes on which one you should finish... then you've got a deadline to finish and post).

Have you posted anything to AO3 (Archive Of Our Own): http://archiveofourown.org/ ? Or to the White Collar Fic Feed? Unless I've found recs or fic-feed links, I don't necessarily find random LJ stuff, but I check AO3's new WC fic every week or so, and have "subscriptions" to authors I like (so I get an email notice when, say, ChinaShop or OnYourMark or Elrhiarhodan post new stories). Posting in more places will likely get you more notice...

What a beautiful, satisfying story. This is exactly what these two need to do every season--talk to each other! Have some faith in each other . . . enough faith to give one another room, just as Neal needed some room to maneuver here. (I love that Peter understood that--just as I loved that Neal confessed about the break in, so that everything would be 'real.')

I'm glad that Neal and Mozzie managed a heart to heart too--that Neal was able to make Mozzie see exactly what he wanted from life now.

The ending, meanwhile, was perfect--I'm so glad that Neal told Peter his suspicions about Keller's plans and that Peter trusted Neal's gut. Now Peter, Neal and El all deserve some happiness!

I'm glad you found time to read this story. And I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I so wanted them to talk to each other during that whole thing with the treasure. I'm pleased that you liked the Neal & Mozzie aspect, and also the ending. I struggled with the resolution (and some other things) when new episodes started coming out while I was writing, but I like where I ended up eventually and it's gratifying when other people like it too. :-)

Thanks for commenting.

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