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Fic - Find My Way Home
Vital Signs
Title: Find My Way Home
Rating: I'm not sure this is even PG
Characters/Pairings: kid!Neal, Peter, El
Spoilers: None
Content Notice: De-aging Fic
Word Count: ~1300
Summary: Peter never imagined anyone could have such an affinity for mystical de-aging objects.  Then again, Neal Caffrey is good at defying expectations.  And Peter is good at finding Neal Caffrey.

A/N: So this is my entry for the Kid!Fic Challenge going on over at [info]whitecollarhc, but it also comes with an apology and a promise.  This story (ficlet, really) is actually the Kid!Neal fic I wrote a while back for a prompt challenge at a WC fan gathering in Chicago, but never posted anywhere.  When I signed up for the Kid!Fic Challenge, my back-up plan was to post this story, but I hoped to write a new one.  Unfortunately, "real life" (a.k.a. work, for the most part) intervened.  So the apology goes out to the Chicago 7, as this is just a cleaned up version of a story you've already seen.  For anyone else, the prompt game involved pulling three words out of a hat (or was it a Tupperware?) and writing a story featuring/prompted by those words, in a genre picked by the group.  My words were chocolate, coconut, and explosion, and my genre was fluff.  Except when I started writing it was kind of crack.  And then it was fluffy crack.  And then, somehow, the thread of a serious story crept in.  The promise is that I will post a follow-up story, and I hope to have it ready by sometime this weekend.  I finally figured out what my new Kid!Neal fic was going to be, and at this point I think I'm at least half-way done, but I couldn't quite finish in time to post it for the challenge.

“Wait! Stop!” Peter Burke shouted from the other side of the predictably cavernous warehouse, but he was too late. Neal, whose impulse control had been improving during the past three plus years working with the FBI – well okay, had maybe improved at least a little bit – was still too often drawn to shiny things. Like the jeweled statuette that was for some reason perched on top of one of the crates of stolen goods in the far corner of the large room. Peter wasn’t sure why, but his gut was telling him that they shouldn’t be touching it. Unfortunately, that insight came a moment too late, and Neal was already picking the thing up to get a closer look at the stones.
There was a loud bang, a blinding flash of light, and a billow of smoke, and then Neal was gone.

No, that was wrong, Peter realized as a child’s cry suddenly broke the silence that had followed the mysterious explosion and his eyes traveled down several feet from where they’d been looking at Neal, to see…a pint-sized version of Neal.

“Not again!” Peter grumbled to himself. He had no idea how it was possible that any one person could have such an affinity for magical de-aging objects. Frankly, before he’d started working with Neal, he’d had no idea that such things even existed, but this was what, the third, maybe fourth time this had happened? Yet somehow, Peter thought, he never got better at dealing with it.

Unfortunately, Peter didn’t have choice. He and Neal had gone out to the warehouse by themselves to check out a rather sketchy lead, so Peter was on his own. On the other hand, that also meant that he didn’t have to try to explain things to anyone else. On the third hand, so to speak, Neal was still crying.

Peter headed over to the other side of the room. “Neal,” he said as gently as he could manage. If Neal was still this upset, it was unlikely that he was just adult Neal in a child’s body.

The little boy, who was very clearly Neal – same dark, wavy hair, same strikingly blue eyes – looked up. His face was wet with tears, but he seemed to calm somewhat at the sight of Peter.

“P’ter?” he said, still looking somewhat uncertain.

“Yeah, it’s me kid,” Peter said, still unsure exactly what the situation was that he was dealing with. Cursed artifacts were tricky, and it was hard to know exactly what state of mind Neal would be in as a child. The fact that he seemed to at least recognize Peter was reassuring – trying to take a child with him who didn’t know him at all or want to leave would be more of a challenge than Peter was prepared to deal with at the moment.

“I think I’m lost, P’ter,” he said with a frown, but a moment later his expression brightened. “But you found me!”

“I found you,” Peter agreed.

Neal smiled up at Peter, a toothy child’s grin that lit up his face. He held up his arms, clearly wanting to be picked up, and took a step forward. Only to trip over adult Neal’s suit pants and fall to his knees. At which he promptly started crying again.

Peter sighed – nothing was ever easy with Caffrey – and squatted down in front of the boy.

“C’mon buddy, let’s take a look at you,” he said, reaching out to pull Neal up into a sitting position. He rolled up the too long suit pants and made a show of inspecting Neal’s now slightly knobby knees.

“I think you’ll be okay,” he pronounced solemnly. “What do you think?”

“Hurts,” Neal replied, his little brows furrowing. He sniffled once, twice, blinked back tears.

“How about we get you out of here, go home?”

“Can I have ice cream?” Neal asked, looking sadly down at his knees.

“Will that make you feel better?” Peter asked. Even as a little boy, Neal knew how to get what he wanted. And even though Peter knew he was being manipulated, really, it was easier not to resist.

Neal nodded yes.

“How about we ask Elizabeth when we get home?” Peter said, knowing he was passing the buck. But really, El was better with kids.

“Liz’beth there?” Neal asked, clearly perking up.

Thankfully, Elizabeth happened to be home today. In fact, he and Neal were supposed to be going back to the house to help her try out some food from a new caterer she was thinking of using. She’d emailed the menu to Neal, who’d been particularly excited about one of the desserts, chocolate coconut something or other, and an appetizer with, what was it, figs? Goat cheese?

“Yes. Elizabeth is home. I’m sure she’ll be glad to see you.”

“Liz’beth gives me ice cream,” Neal replied with another wide grin. So much for his hurt knees, Peter thought. Or for Elizabeth’s chance to use his palate. Unless they could get Neal turned back in the next couple of hours. Speaking of which…Peter pulled out his phone and sent a text to the last number he had for Mozzie, then called El to let her know what was going on.

“Again?” Elizabeth asked, sounding more than a little incredulous, but she agreed to try to contact Mozzie as well. Peter took a picture of the statuette and emailed it to her to send on to him, then wrapped it up in his coat before bundling Neal into the car and heading home.

They pulled out of the parking area across from the warehouse and onto the main roadway. Neal stared out the window at the lights of the passing cars for a while, then turned his attention to the Taurus’ GPS display, which was currently turned off. He could just barely reach the buttons, which he reached down and started to poke at.

Peter gently pushed Neal’s hand away. “Don’t play with the car, Neal,” he said.

“I wanna see the map!” Neal replied, a big frown on his little face.

Peter heaved a sigh, but complied and turned on the navigator, leaving the sound off.

“Thank you, Peter,” Neal said. He was, as Peter had learned, an unusually polite little boy.

They were just pulling into an open space a little way down the block from the house when Peter’s phone beeped with an incoming text message. The good news, Mozzie was able to identify the cursed object du ‘jour. The bad news, it turned out there was no way to “fix” Neal other than to wait it out. The good news, the effects should only last about twenty-four hours.

In other good news, after their second time through “cursed object turns Neal into a child,” Peter and Elizabeth had kept the clothes and other things they’d ended up having to buy for him. El took Neal upstairs to wash up and change while Peter heated up a can of Spaghetti-O’s that she’d picked up after getting Peter’s call.

When they came back down, Neal was dressed in his dinosaur pajamas. He ate at the table with Peter and Elizabeth, and successfully negotiated an extra scoop of ice cream and an hour of TV after dinner. He made it very clear that he had no interest in “Chocolate Coconut Explosion.” El didn’t even mention the figs with goat cheese.

Neal was starting to drift off about forty-five minutes into his television hour. Peter picked him up and carried him upstairs to bed. Neal woke up as Peter was tucking him in.

“Thank you, P’ter,” he said, smiling sleepily.

“For what?”

“For finding me when I was lost. You’ll always find me, right?”

“That’s right, Neal, I’ll always find you.”

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The Chocolate Coconut Explosion bit made me laugh, especially since I can just imagine little Neal looking upon it with such disdain.

Loved this story, even more so because you promised another one! ;)

Thanks! It was the unexpected inspiration to combine the three words to make a dessert that got this story started. I'm glad it made you laugh.

Stay tuned for the next part, wherein Neal's strange affinity for mystical objects rears its head when Peter is not around, and little Neal worries that maybe Peter won't find him this time.

This was cute. Loved that the Burkes seemed so OK with it.

They're pretty good at rolling with things. And wee!Neal is a good kid. Thanks for commenting.


So great to see it again. And yes, I am not certain that I got the idea of Neal constantly being turned into a kitten by a magical artifact from this story. I do hope you don't mind!

It is wonderful and I just love the angsty bits - they are like little morsels of toffee in the vanilla ice cream, delicious.

Thank you so much! I felt kind of guilty posting it - I really wanted to write something new, but I do like this story. And I love your observation about the little bits of angst. Except now I maybe want some ice cream. :-)

Re: Possibly giving you the idea about Neal and magical objects that turn him into a kitten - I totally don't mind! And I loved that story.

I love the idea of Neal de-aging multiple times and can't wait for your next installment!

If anyone was going to somehow have an affinity for mystical de-aging objects, it would be Neal. :-)

I am buried in grading, and I'm a big college basketball fan, so I don't know how much time I'll have the next few days, but I'm hoping to get my next one finished soon.

Also, love your icon!

Edited at 2012-03-16 03:11 pm (UTC)

Okay, now you need to provide a recipe for chocolate coconut explosion. It's only fair.

This was very cute. I loved little Neal tripping over big Neal's pants.

Thanks for commenting!

As for the recipe, hmm, RC is the foodie/cook around here, maybe I can convince her to help me out? I just thought it was a fun name (and a good way to fit "explosion" in with my other two prompt words). :-)

Sorry for the delay in reply--I've been kind of out of it the past couple days with a touch of flu--and am WAY behind in comments--but you know how much I adore this fic. I won't lie--I was hoping for more kid!fic from you although not necessarily for this deadline, because I know you've been swamped--and this way, I get to anticipate another!!! So glad to see this one again too :-) Thanks for writing it, and I'm so happy you posted so everyone can see how wonderfully adorable and awesome it is!!

Sorry to hear that you've been under the weather. I hope you're doing better. And thanks for stopping by and commenting, even though you've seen the story before. I appreciate it!

When I signed up for the challenge, I thought I'd have time to write something new. And more recently, I thought I might actually finish the something new that I started writing. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. And I'm still swamped. But I'm also far enough into the thing that I'm determined to finish.

Awwww... this is just too cute :D I absolutely adore wee!Neal and this unbreakable bond between Neal and Peter \o/ Of course, even when de-aged, Neal would be able to extort negotiate his way in the car or during dinner :D This story is perfect and spot-on character-wise :D And I'm beyond happy to hear that you're writing another one :D Thank you :D

Thanks so much for the lovely comment! Peter and Neal may have their rocky moments, but in the end their connection is undeniable.

aaww that was sweet and adorable! Poor Peter always ending with minature Neal, but he seems to start managing it somehow. I would love to see more in this series.

Thanks for the feedback!

I think Peter's not quite as bad at it as he thinks he is. :-)

The first 1/3 to 1/2 of the next one is written, but I'm so swamped at work that I've been working most of the day Saturday *and* Sunday. Bah. If nothing else, I hope that Easter break gives me a chance to write a bit.

I especially love the bit about El using his palate for catering, and little Neal not being interested in the food :) And also the whole, Neal has done this before, here we go again, attitude.

Glad you liked it, and thanks for commenting. I *am*, in fact, still working on the sequel. I was about halfway done when I posted this one, but have been buried in the end-of-semester grading avalanche. I hope to get back to it soon.

I'll be waiting for it :)

Aww! Just joined the whitecollarhc comm and am glad this is one of the first fics I read, it's adorable! Of course Peter will always find Neal :) I loved Neal thanking him for putting the map up!

Welcome to the comm! There's a lot of good stories here. So glad you found mine, and that you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for commenting. Little Neal *is* adorable, isn't he? :-)

Oh I just loved that. It was so heartbreaking but so sweet at the same time. Nice job!

Glad you liked it, and thanks so much for taking time to comment. And it's always nice when someone finds an older story.

I did write a couple more de-aged Neal fics which you might like (check out my master post).

Thanks again for stopping by.

Going through all your stories I missed the first time around. Who can resist a de-aged Neal fic!
“That’s right, Neal, I’ll always find you.” Yes Peter, you will ... even now with where the finale left us.

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