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24 October 2013 @ 10:04 pm
[fic: white collar] Keep your feet on solid ground  
Title: Keep your feet on solid ground
Characters/Pairing: Neal, Diana; Gen
Word count: 1400
Warnings: Spoilers for 5x01, although actually set in the between-season gap
Notes: The idea for this came out of a chat with sholio. It fills the "bruises" square on my hc_bingo card.

Summary: Diana and Neal have a rather overdue conversation.

- - -

"I can get up the stairs on my own," Neal insisted as they entered June's house. "You don't have to hover behind me." In truth, he was hoping that if he persuaded Diana to leave now, he might escape the lecture he sensed had been stewing for some time.

The steely look in Diana's eyes, however, told him that he wasn't going to be so lucky. "Caffrey, don't even try it. I'm not letting you out of my sight until I know you're out of opportunities for stupidity for the evening."

That was incredibly unfair. Neal wanted to protest, but the process of climbing the stairs while being unable to take deep breaths made it difficult. All of him hurt. He clung to the banister, refusing to accept any support from Diana. She would make him pay for it in sarcasm.

By the time they reached his apartment, however, she was looking less angry and more anxious as he wheezed for breath beneath the pain of cracked ribs. That made him change his trajectory to the table instead of towards his bed — he didn't want her to be looking at him like that.

"How are you feeling?" she asked, as he slumped into a chair.

"Just great," Neal said. There was a half-empty bottle of wine on the table, and he pulled it and a wineglass towards him. It probably wasn't the greatest idea, but the ER hadn't given him painkillers strong enough to make alcohol an actual problem.

Diana crossed her arms, watching him. "Neal," she began, and stopped.

"Do you want some wine?" he asked, to fill the accusatory silence.


Neal shrugged (it hurt) and drank a mouthful. "Considering how best to yell at me?" he asked. He had meant to sound sardonic, but his voice came out more petulant. Annoyed, he took another sip of wine instead.

Diana sighed. "I don't want to yell at you."

"Isn't that what you came up here for?"

"Neal, you were hit by a car," she snapped.

"I stopped our suspect getting away," Neal retorted.

"Yes, by throwing yourself in front of his car!"

"It wasn't going very fast."

Her expression was downright murderous now. "That is not the point." She blew out, exasperated. "You know I'm going to tell Peter about this."

Neal had been slouched mutinously over his wineglass, but that hit home. He straightened sharply. "No, don't. Please."

She shook her head firmly. "I promised Peter I'd keep you out of trouble while he's… away." In prison hung unsaid in the air. "I can't stop you being blatantly self-destructive, but I'm damn well not going to cover for you with Peter."

"I'm not being self-destructive," Neal said, without much heart. A good lie needed an element of truth, and he didn't even have enough self-delusion to go through with this one. It had been weeks since Peter had been arrested, and he still hadn't come up with a solution — it was eating away at him.

Flinging himself into the path of the suspect's accelerating car had been something he could do; a perfect, weightless moment where nothing else had mattered.

And then he had been bounced off the hood and hit the road hard, gasping and stunned. Jones ran to grab the driver, who had slammed down on the brakes, and Diana dropped to her knees beside Neal, urgently repeating his name.

He didn't want to remember that.

"Are you listening to me?" Diana asked, and Neal blinked, realising he hadn't been.

"Yes," he said, guiltily.

Diana raised an eyebrow, not at all fooled. "Look, I know this is hard for you," she said. "I know you're blaming yourself, and I know you're doing everything you can to try and make it right. But you aren't helping Peter if you're not bothering to stay safe. He doesn't need to be worrying about you on top of everything else."

"Threatening to tell on me, though? That's low," Neal said.

She shrugged. "Here's lower: I don't want to be worrying about you either right now." She took a quick breath. "I'm pregnant."

Neal's mouth had already been half-open to respond, but his brain skipped a beat as he processed her words. "You're what?"

"Pregnant. Several months along, actually." She folded her arms defiantly, which gathered in the fabric of her top, and oh yes, Neal could definitely see the edge of a bump there now that he was looking. "You know what, I think I need some wine after all. This definitely wasn't how I was planning to have this conversation."

Neal was still gaping at her, feeling remarkably stupid. He only just managed to keep himself from asking if she was even allowed to have any wine — she would know far better than he did. And she might have decked him. "Who else knows?" he asked, instead.

"Only the HR department — I had to notify them to arrange maternity leave." At his look she shrugged. "It hasn't seemed like the right time to mention anything, what with everything going on. I'd better tell Jones now that I've told you, though, or he'll sulk."

"You've still been doing fieldwork." Neal winced as soon as the words left his mouth. His don't say anything stupid filter had slipped.

"Yes, I know. I was there. It was where I saw you throw yourself in front of a moving car, remember?"

Neal rolled his eyes, but he couldn't entirely say that the resurgence of sarcasm wasn't justified. "We're back to that."

"We are most definitely back to that. And it's where we're going to remain until I'm satisfied you won't do anything that monumentally stupid again until I can turn responsibility for you back over to Peter."

"Only until then?" Neal couldn't help asking.

"I don't have great expectations for how long you can refrain from monumentally stupid acts."

"You really are beginning to sound like Peter," Neal muttered. Unfortunately, that just made Diana look pleased. He sighed heavily, but was brought up short as his ribs protested.

Diana's expression switched back to concern. "You should probably take your prescription stuff and lie down," she said. "You're going to be a mass of bruises in the morning."

"Thanks for the reminder," Neal grumbled, but this time he allowed her to take his arm and help him to his feet. He was grateful for her support as he hobbled to the bathroom — his strained muscles had begun to seize up, and were loudly voicing their displeasure at being called on.

She fetched him some pyjamas, and waited patiently in the main room until he was ready to make the trek across to his bed. For the first few steps he tried not to lean on her too heavily, but then she said, "For goodness' sake, Caffrey," and he reconsidered.

Arranging his aching body into a comfortable horizontal position was actually harder than walking had been. Diana brought over a glass of water and the painkillers and muscle relaxants he'd been prescribed, and watched sternly as he swallowed the pills.

Neal finally allowed his head to drop backwards onto the pillows with a sense of relief. "Thank you," he said, realising that it was quite a bit belated. "For everything. Waiting in the ER, and bringing me back here."

Diana couldn't quite keep up her stern facade, although she was trying. "It's a one-time thing," she said. "Next time you get hit by a car, you're on your own."

"Noted." He grinned at her wry expression. "And I didn't say before — congratulations. You're going to be a great mom."

She smiled involuntarily, her expression softening. "Thank you. Just try not to give me a heart attack in the meantime, okay?"

"Deal," Neal agreed. The meds were kicking in; he was already having to fight to keep his eyes open. "Can I be the godfather?"

Diana snorted, putting her hands on her hips. "In your dreams, Caffrey. I want someone who'll be a good influence."

He chuckled sleepily. "Peter, then?"

"Peter," she agreed. We'll get him back. She squeezed his shoulder as his eyelids drooped. "Get some sleep. Take care of yourself." She hesitated a second. "Call me if you need anything, okay?"

"Okay," he mumbled.

She laughed softly, and with his eyes closed he didn't hear her leave.

- - -

Posted at http://frith-in-thorns.dreamwidth.org/106390.html with comment count unavailable comments.
kanarek13kanarek13 on October 24th, 2013 09:33 pm (UTC)
Awww, more Diana and Neal time \o/ Love this! I was wondering if Neal had briefly gone on that self-destructing path after Peter's arest, I can totally see that happening but yeah, I also see Diana and Jones and the rest of the gang stopping him rather sooner than later.

Aww, when Diana tells Peter, he is so gonna have a word with him :D

Thanks for sharing \o/ It's great :D
Frith: White Collar - Diana - coatfrith_in_thorns on October 24th, 2013 11:10 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, Peter is going to be furious with Neal XD

I'm really glad you enjoyed this! And that you liked the characterisation -- I definitely think that Neal can be prone to self-destructiveness, but no way is Diana going to let him get away with it :)
pooh_collector on October 24th, 2013 10:26 pm (UTC)
Your Diana is so spot on!

I loved this little fic. Of course she would be left in charge of the care and feeding of a certain CI. And, of course a certain CI would do something immensely stupid that Diana would need to scold him for.

Yeah for fic!
Frith: White Collar - Neal - writingfrith_in_thorns on October 24th, 2013 11:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm really glad you like how I write Diana -- I have so much fun writing her and Neal :D (Especially her yelling at Neal for doing something stupid. Which happens a lot :P)
calis_1stcalis_1st on October 24th, 2013 10:57 pm (UTC)
There are not nearly enough Neal and Diana fics, so thanks for helping to rectify that with this charming story. I love that, even hurt and ready to pass out, he still asks if he can be the godfather. Thanks for posting.
Frithfrith_in_thorns on October 24th, 2013 11:16 pm (UTC)
I am always trying to make there be more Neal & Diana fic in the world :D I'm really happy that you enjoyed this, thank you!
Sholio: WhiteCollar-Dianasholio on October 24th, 2013 11:52 pm (UTC)
AWWWW THEM. ♥ This is so great -- Neal not really caring about his own health & wellbeing, and Diana looking after him; and Diana telling Neal her secret. They are such sweethearts! :D
Frith: White Collar - Diana - coatfrith_in_thorns on October 24th, 2013 11:56 pm (UTC)
They are the cutest! :D And Diana will totally not stand for Neal being reckless and self-destructive. (Peter is totally going to be furious too when Diana tells him :P)
daria234daria234 on October 25th, 2013 12:00 am (UTC)
Love Diana here - this is great.
Frith: White Collar - Diana - reflectionfrith_in_thorns on October 25th, 2013 01:14 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! :)
a rearranger of the proverbial bookshelf: White Collar - Dianaembroiderama on October 25th, 2013 12:06 am (UTC)
Aw, this is great! I can see Diana being the person to tell Neal to stop being so reckless.
Frith: White Collar - Diana - coatfrith_in_thorns on October 25th, 2013 01:16 am (UTC)
Thank you! :) Yeah, I think Diana would figure out very quickly what was going on (possibly before Neal!) and be having NONE of it. :)
Jasmine: Island Nealreve_silencieux on October 25th, 2013 12:29 am (UTC)
I am grinning so hard. I really do love the Neal/Diana dynamic. The idea of pregnant Diana berating him is even better. And of course, he wants to be godfather. Hee! Despite what she says about being a good influence, we all know Neal will spoil that kid and will be great around him.
Frith: White Collar - Diana - coatfrith_in_thorns on October 25th, 2013 01:17 am (UTC)
Aww, thank you! I must admit, I am holding out HIGH hopes for scenes of Neal With Baby. It would be adorable.

I'm really happy that you enjoyed this! They're just so much fun to write together :D
aelfgyfu_mead: Dianaaelfgyfu_mead on October 25th, 2013 02:09 am (UTC)
Diana's voice comes through clearly in every line of dialogue. Thanks for writing her so well.
Frith: White Collar - Diana - reflectionfrith_in_thorns on October 28th, 2013 02:29 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I adore writing Diana :)
angelita26: Neal!Sleepingangelita26 on October 25th, 2013 02:29 am (UTC)
Awwww, how sweet. I love that Diana told Neal first, and the threatening to tell on him to Peter was all kinds of awesome.

Oh, Neal - throwing himself in front of a car to be able to feel like he's doing something - *smishes him gently*

This was lovely. Thank you for sharing!
Frith: Zundry - raining heartsfrith_in_thorns on October 28th, 2013 02:30 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! ♥ *pets them both*
(no subject) - shehasathree on October 25th, 2013 03:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
Frith: White Collar - Diana - coatfrith_in_thorns on October 28th, 2013 02:30 am (UTC)
Thank you! :)
pipiljpipilj on October 25th, 2013 07:13 am (UTC)
Adore your portrayal of Diana caring and bit of a bad ass I can imagine her chewing Neal about his stunt. Loved her line about Clinton. Of course Peter would be the god father. ♥♥
Frithfrith_in_thorns on October 28th, 2013 02:31 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! :) I really love writing Neal and Diana bouncing off each other, they're so much fun!
sheeniannisheenianni on October 25th, 2013 07:26 am (UTC)
This was so beautiful. I love Diana and Neal friendship, and this was so in character for both of them. And Diana telling Neal that she's pregnant was just brilliant.
So lovely!
Frith: White Collar - Diana - coatfrith_in_thorns on October 28th, 2013 02:32 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I love writing these two, and I'm really happy you enjoyed reading!
sahiya on October 26th, 2013 09:33 pm (UTC)
Aww, this is really sweet. I love their friendship.
Frithfrith_in_thorns on October 28th, 2013 02:32 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! :)
leesa_perrie: Diana Berriganleesa_perrie on October 27th, 2013 05:51 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was fun! Diana has every right to be angry at Neal!! I love Neal's reaction to her news - especially asking to be a godfather, and her reply! LOL!

Lovely h/c friendship fic!
Frithfrith_in_thorns on October 30th, 2013 12:39 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! They are so much fun to write :)
scarym1scarym1 on October 27th, 2013 08:38 pm (UTC)
Great story. I really enjoyed the conversation between Neal & Diana. It was angsty, funny & sweet. Love that he was the first one she told about being pregnant.

My fave part is: "You really are beginning to sound like Peter," Neal muttered. Unfortunately, that just made Diana look pleased.
Frith: White Collar - Diana - reflectionfrith_in_thorns on October 30th, 2013 12:40 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! :D I'd have definitely liked to see some more on the show of Neal and the others while Peter was in prison, but I guess that's what fic's for!