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White Collar Ficlet #2
Matt TNH 1
I actually managed to fill a 2nd prompt over at elrhiarhodan's wonderful White Collar Promptfest.

Title: Windy Days and Wishes
Prompt: Any character - Windy Day
Rating: PG, I guess
Spoilers: References events of Season 1 & Season 2, Episode 1
Pairings: None, though it could be read as either gen or OT3, depending on your perspective
Summary: Three windy days in the life of Neal Caffrey (and some important people in his life)

It’s a bitterly cold, windy winter afternoon, the day Kate – or what little is left of her – is laid to rest. Peter’s been reinstated, but Neal is still waiting for the powers that be at the FBI and the Marshal’s service to finish working their way through whatever mountain of paperwork is required to reinstate his deal with Peter and the White Collar unit. Hughes has pulled some strings, though, and it’s Peter who comes to get Neal early that morning, a somber dark suit and wool coat from Neal’s closet at June’s over one arm and a concerned look in his eyes. “Thanks,” Neal says as he takes the offered clothing. He changes quickly and turns back to Peter as he shrugs into the coat. The concerned look on the FBI agent’s face turns apologetic as he pulls out his handcuffs, but Neal just shrugs and holds out his hands. Peter takes the cuffs off as soon as they get to the car. Then the car door opens, and suddenly Elizabeth is there, and Neal is enveloped in a hug. He is stock still for a moment, unsure, but the simple gesture momentarily breaks through the fog Neal is in and he hugs Elizabeth back gratefully. At the service he stands between Peter and Elizabeth, and he’s grateful again – for Peter’s strong, solid presence and Elizabeth’s generous compassion, but what he fervently wishes is that he could somehow go back and do things over again. There must have been a way, something he could have done differently, something that would have ended with Kate beside him instead of in the ground.

Later that year, it’s a perfect spring day – sunny, with a beautiful blue sky and just the right amount of wind for kite flying – and Neal finds himself in the park with June and her granddaughter Samantha. It’s been too long since Neal has enjoyed the simple pleasure of a day like this. Since he returned to his rooms at her house, June has tried, more than once, to convince him to accompany her on one of her outings. After politely declining, more than once, Neal finally gave in and said yes a few weeks ago. He had started to feel ungrateful, not to mention guilty for putting those not quite hidden looks of sadness on June’s face. Today June had brought out the big guns, and Neal had found it impossible to say no to the hopeful look in the eyes of the small girl holding the brightly colored kite. Samantha is healthy these days, and full of energy, and before Neal knows what is happening she has him jogging along beside her, the kite rising higher into the sky. “Did you see us, Grandma June,” she asks excitedly when she has led Neal back to the bench where June sits watching over the proceedings. “We made the kite go so high!” June smiles warmly, telling her granddaughter that, yes, she’d seen. She has a warm, affectionate smile for Neal as well, and Neal is grateful for it, for June’s quiet, caring presence in his life. He genuinely likes Samantha, as well. She’s a wonderful little girl. He appreciates being included in their lives, but also knows that they are just that – their lives, not his. And he wishes, just for a moment, for the family he doesn’t have.

It’s a brisk, clear day the next fall, with just enough wind to scatter the leaves that have recently begun to fall from the trees. Neal is at the dog park throwing a ball for Satchmo, who runs eagerly after it, over and over, tail wagging in doggy glee. The next time he drops the ball at Neal’s feet, Neal reaches down, but instead of picking the ball up he moves to scratch Satch behind his ears. The big yellow lab angles his head so Neal can find just the right spot, then after a minute drops down to the ground, rolling over in an obvious invitation. Neal obliges, squatting down to rub Satch’s belly. When he stands up again, he feels the wind pick up and wonders if maybe he should have listened to El when she suggested he bring a coat, instead of shrugging and saying he’d be fine as he pulled one of Peter’s old Quantico sweatshirts over his head. It’s gotten colder since he and his canine companion arrived, and Neal knows they should probably head back, but Satch noses the ball toward Neal’s foot and he can’t resist those big brown eyes. “One more time, Satch,” he says, picking up the ball and giving it a good toss. He shivers a bit, waiting for Satchmo to bring his prize back again, and a moment later he hears footsteps approaching. He turns, and it’s Peter and Elizabeth. They make their way to where Neal is standing just as Satchmo barrels up from the opposite direction, dropping his ball and bouncing excitedly at Peter’s feet. Neal reaches down to pick up Satch’s leash. Peter takes it from him, grumbling good-naturedly at Neal for staying out so long in the cold while El just smiles and hands Neal his coat. “Ready to go home?” Peter asks. That sounds good to Neal. Peter claps a companionable hand on Neal’s shoulder, turning the both of them around, El leans in and gives Neal a peck on the cheek, and together the four of them – three people and one dog – start the walk home. It’s then that Neal realizes he really is going home, and it occurs to him that sometimes you don’t know what you’re wishing for until it sneaks up and finds you.

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Nice, very nice. thanks for writing this.

Thank *you* for stopping by and leaving feedback. It is much appreciated.

sweet! and I can see it happening in canon... at least I hope it ends up that way :)

Can see it in canon" comments are always gratifying. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

That was wonderful, showing the stages of grief and healing so well.

This was just gorgeous in all its subtleties. You fleshed out Neal's thoughts so beautifully. Thank you for sharing this with us! :D

Thank *you* for the lovely feedback.

Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment.

Awww gorgeous. Short but so beautifully woven :D

Welcome back, and thanks for the lovely comment. :-)

YAY! And I think I still have some more to read from you so count me coming back :D You're so very welcome :D

BTW I was reading your profile and it's funny 'cause I discovered "fandom" with Highlander too :D I soooo loved that show!

There's one more short story that I wrote for the promptfest that's up. After that I hope to finally finish a story I started ages ago and haven't gotten back to until recently.

I was really into Highlander, and really didn't know what "fandom" was before that. Funny that you started there too.

Yes, I think I have it on my list to read :D

I was a fan of the HL movie and then started watching the series, and along comes the internet (here it only started being a common thing by the end of the series), and my curiosity for the show got me exploring and all of a sudden I discover this wonderful world that is fandom :D And fanfic!! :))

YAY for Neal finding his home...

Really sweet and kind of just perfect :-). Thanks--this is exactly what I needed to read today :)

So sweet! I really needed something like this after the heartbreaking final episode with Neal leaving his family behind. Thank you and Merry Christmas.

The scene at the cemetery is heartbreaking. I'm glad Peter and El were there for Neal. He's beginning to understand who really is his family.

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