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Fic - Meme Fill (Neal, barstool)
Matt TNH 1
doctor_fangeek
I am continuing to work (ever so slowly) through the all of five prompts I got for the meme I posted about a month ago now. The second fill I wrote is about 980 words, and would just barely fit in a single comment if I didn't have any intro at all, so (once again) I'm putting it in a separate post. Story snippet for pooh_collector who prompted Neal, barstool. Takes place early season 2.


Peter was just drifting off to sleep when his phone rang. He took a look at the display, sighed, and was already getting out of the bed as he answered the call. Elizabeth’s eye’s blinked open and she looked up at him.

“Neal?” she asked.

Peter just nodded as he waited for the US Marshal on the other end of the line to finish his harangue. It took a bit of doing, but Peter convinced him that yes, he would take care of it, and yes, he understood the seriousness of the situation. He hung up and started to dress, grabbing a pair of jeans and pulling them on.

“Again?” Elizabeth, who was now sitting up in bed, said. It wasn’t really a question.

Peter nodded again, then sat down on the edge of the mattress with a sigh. “I have no idea what he’s thinking, Hon. And if this keeps up I may not be able to hold off the Marshals.”

“Have you talked to him about it?”

“Of course I have.”

Elizabeth gave him a skeptical look. “By ‘talk’ I mean really talk, not just you asking him if he’s okay and him saying he’s ‘fine.’ You know that, right?”

“Hon,” Peter protested halfheartedly.

Elizabeth just shook her head at him. “Bring him back here,” she said.

Peter was gearing up to argue – it was late and there was no reason both he and Elizabeth should be kept up half the night – but the look in her eye stopped him, and instead he just nodded his agreement, grabbed his keys off of the dresser, and headed downstairs.

It didn’t take Peter long to get to the bar where Neal and his tracking anklet were currently located. Traffic was light at this hour and Neal was barely outside of his radius. Somehow that made the whole thing seem even more ridiculous, Peter thought. On the plus side, Peter managed to find a parking spot just down the block and was soon settling onto the barstool next to Neal’s.

“Again, Neal?” Peter said. “I was in bed this time. With my wife.”

Neal didn’t even look up, continuing to stare at the glass in his hand. “You didn’t have to come. I’m sure the Marshals would have been happy to do it.”

“Oh I’m sure the one who called me would have been more than happy to come get you and haul your butt off to jail.” Peter waited, but there was no response. “You know that’s what’s going to happen if you keep this up, right?”

Neal just shrugged, then downed the rest of his drink in one gulp. Peter wanted to shout, to shake some sense into Neal, to…do something.

Instead, Peter took a deep breath. Shouting at Neal right now was unlikely to help the situation. “Do you want to go back to prison?” he asked, deliberately keeping his tone as even as possible.

Neal looked up at that, finally meeting Peter’s eyes for just a moment before looking away again. “What? No. Of course not,” was his immediate reply, but there was something in his expression that that gave Peter pause, and he couldn’t help but think back to the difficulty he’d had getting Neal to take his old deal back in the first place.

“So you keep…what? Accidentally wandering just outside your radius?”

“Yes. No. I…I don’t know what you want me to say, Peter.”

“That you’re not still looking for a way to punish yourself for what happened to Kate?"

Neal looked away, but there was that flash of…something…in his eyes again.  He reached for the whiskey bottle just in front of him which, Peter now noticed, was already half empty.

Peter put a hand on Neal’s arm, stopping him. Neal looked up at that, frowning his annoyance at Peter.

“Look, Neal. I won’t pretend to know what you’re going through. Or that I know how to make it better,” Peter began. “But I’m pretty certain that the answer isn’t either drinking your way through the rest of that bottle or waiting around here for a bunch of pissed off Marshals to come and drag you to lock-up.”

Neal sighed and let his hand drop. Peter decided to take that as a win.

“How about I drive you home?” Peter said after a moment’s silence.

Neal just went back to studying the now empty glass in his hand.

“Neal?” Peter tried again.

“Yeah.  Okay.”

“Good. I think we could both use some sleep. And El bought new sheets for the guest bedroom.”

“Peter.”

“Neal.”

“You don’t need to do that. Really. You can just take me back to June’s.

“Neal.”

“It’s fine.”

“Isn’t June out of town?”

Neal just shrugged at that.

“You’re at a bar, outside of your radius, halfway through a bottle of whiskey. I’m not just dropping you off to rattle around that big, empty house alone.”

“Do I get a say in this?” Neal said, just this side of mutinous.

“Would you like to call my wife and explain to her why you’re not coming home with me?”

“Dirty pool, Peter.”

Peter shrugged. “She told me to bring you home. And I repeat, do you want to call her and tell her why you’re not coming?”

That finally coaxed a smile out of Neal.

“You know the answer to that,” he said, standing up and pulling out his wallet. He tossed some bills down on the bar then turned back to Peter.

“So, new sheets, huh?”

“Yes.”

“She’s going to try to get me to talk about all this, isn’t she?”

“Probably. But that might not be such a terrible thing.”

Neal didn’t look convinced, but he didn’t argue the point either. “Will there be pancakes?” he asked instead.

It was Peter’s turn to smile. “Very likely.”

“Okay, then. Let’s go before either of us changes his mind,” Neal said. “And Peter?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks.”

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AWWWW!!!

That was perfect. I was hoping for something angsty and hurt comfort.

Very nicely done.

Yay! I'm so glad you liked it. Sorry it took so long. Also, Ang & I are holding down the chat fort all by ourselves. You should stop by. :)

Beautiful, Doc. I love how you capture Neal's pain in the wake of Kate's death by showing us his self-destructive actions. And of course I love the comfort Peter and El offer him! Great job.

Thanks, Miri, for the wonderful feedback! This is a time in Neal's life that I've written about a few times - poor thing, he really does need some comforting.

Nice job. Great way to show Neal's guilt over what happened to Kate and his need to punish himself. I just love when the "threat of El" is used to get Neal to comply. The pancakes were a nice touch.

Glad you enjoyed the story. I think both Peter & Neal know that El is really in charge. :)

Poor Neal. He seems so lost. It is a good thing he has Peter & El looking out for him.

Love the ending where Neal asks if there will be Pancakes. : )

I'm sure that the time right after Kate's death was particularly difficult - he watches it happen, and then presumably before he's had a chance to process any of it, he's hauled back to prison.

Thanks for commenting!

Awwwww, man. NEAL. *hugs this*

Awwww. Thanks. Poor Neal, I think he needs all of the hugs.

Awwww, poor, poor Neal. And Peter is so adorable in his awkwardness when dealing with emotional!Neal :D Love El as the perfect solution. With all of that in the mix, I believe Neal will be feeling a lot better soon :D

\o/ ♥

I did a terrible job of responding to your comments on these meme entries. :(

So...thanks so much for reading & replying. Don't you just want to gather Neal up and give him all of the hugs? :)

This was perfect. Neal is right explaning things to El would be tough

I'm revisiting the comments to this fic, as I got a new one after sheeniani posted the art she made for it. Sorry I never replied, and thanks so much for the feedback.

Good insight to Neal trying to punish himself. Sometimes I think Peter should secretly increase Neal's radius to save himself the late night calls from the Marshalls

LOL. Unfortunately, I suspect if Peter did that, Neal would just push that little bit further.

Thanks for the feedback, as well. (I'm revisiting the comments to this fic, as I got a new one after sheeniani posted the art she made for it.)

Aww... sad but sweet.
Neal is not about to take on Elizabeth.

I'm revisiting the comments to this fic, as I got a new one after sheeniani posted the art she made for it. Sorry it took so long, but thanks for your comment.

Presumably you found this via sheenianni's art post. :) Glad you did, and glad you enjoyed the fic.

Yep. Sorry I didn't mention it :-)

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