Characters/Pairing: Neal, Peter; Gen
Word count: 1000
Warnings: SPOILERS for 5x10, "Live Feed". Panic attack.
Notes: This just leapt out at me at the end of the episode.
Summary: Tag to Live Feed. Immediate aftermath.
- - -
"Neal?" Peter says, but his voice is echoy and distant and not all that important.
Rebecca killed Siegel. Rebecca killed Hagen. Rebecca has been playing him this whole time.
"Neal?" Peter repeats.
There doesn't seem to be enough air.
"Neal, hey." Peter turns him around. Neal's eyes go past Peter to lock onto the photographs stuck to the mirror. The faces. The aliases. "We need to get out of here. Can you do that?"
Neal nods jerkily. His chest hurts. He's breathing much too fast. Things are beginning to go wavy in the corners of his eyes.
Peter takes his elbow and leads him out, and they must have gone down the stairs but Neal has no memory of it; they're suddenly outside and the daylight is blinding. "Come on, you can make it to the car," Peter coaxes, as if he's talking to a small child, or to Satchmo.
But he can't. He's gulping air but he can't breathe, and his sight is breaking up into bright speckles and black dots, and his heart is hammering in his throat and his chest hurts and he's suffocating —
— Siegel lying dead on the sidewalk in the rain and he's had sex with the person who did that, he said to Peter she looks at me like Elizabeth looks at you and he left Mozzie in danger with Hagen because of her and all this time he was being played —
— and he can't breathe —
Peter is holding Neal up even as his knees are folding; he's got Neal with solid brick at his back and has his arms around him so that the top of Neal's head is pressed against his chest. A little space carved out where Neal can't fall and all he can see is the front of Peter's shirt, and his tie, and the tips of his shoes against the paving.
"Breathe with me," Peter is saying, and Neal can't do that but the sound of Peter's voice is good and strong and solid anyway. "You're okay. You're okay. You're gonna be fine."
It takes a long time. Unless it just feels like it does. Neal finally realises what an odd sight they must be making, pressed up together against a wall. It's the first coherent thought that doesn't send him spiralling back into panic.
He's shaking. His teeth would be chattering, but he doesn't let them. "I'm okay," he manages.
"Yeah?" Peter says, with some relief. He cautiously loosens his grip on Neal, but keeps hold of him as he moves back a fraction, like he's still worried Neal is about to keel over.
Neal lifts his head. He's breathing raggedly, but his heart no longer feels like it's trying to force its way out of his chest. "Sorry," he gasps.
"Can you walk to the car?" Peter asks. "Or should I go get it? You need to sit down."
"I can —" Neal begins, and tightens his fingers into Peter's sleeve. His body feels like he just ran a marathon. His legs are wobbly, and he's dizzy. But he doesn't want to be left.
Peter understands. He always does. He puts his arm under Neal's shoulders and supports him down the road. Neal closes his eyes, but Peter shakes him and tells him off.
Neal is still shaking as he collapses into the passenger seat. "I'm going to move us a few blocks," Peter says, and starts the engine without waiting for a response.
They stop again next to a park. Neal is trying by now to pull himself together, but Peter frowns at his attempted smile and finds the pulse in his wrist instead. Neal's too worn out to stop him. He's cold and clammy, and feels vaguely nauseous.
"You really don't look so good," Peter says, still frowning with concern.
"She killed Siegel," Neal says. He puts a hand to his mouth as if he could put the words back; make them be untrue. "She —"
"I know," Peter says, and there's a horrible compassion in his eyes that's harder to cope with than the blame and anger he's been carrying. "Neal —"
"How did I miss this?" Neal whispers. All of it. There's so much, and it all ties back to Rebecca.
"Neal." Peter's voice is sharp, and jerks Neal's head up. "Stay calm, okay? Breathe."
Neal nods, because he can feel his chest begin to spike with pain again. He can't let himself lose control a second time. He lets Peter take his hand and grip it tightly. "I'm all right," he promises.
"You don't look it," Peter says. "I'm going to drive you back to June's."
"No," Neal protests. "I need to be working on this. What if she —"
"No arguments," Peter interrupts. "Go back to your apartment, have a shower, have a nap. If you feel better after that you can come down to the Bureau — I can guarantee we'll be working late tonight. But you won't be helping in the state you're in right now."
Neal groans, and rubs the heels of his hands into his eyes. Peter's right; he feels like hell. All wound up, and at the same time shaky and exhausted. And it will give him time to bring Mozzie up to speed. "Okay," he agrees.
Peter looks marginally less worried. He gives Neal a once-over and starts the car. Neal leans back against the seat.
To his surprise, he dozes, and is shaken awake by Peter when they reach Riverside. "You're home," Peter says. "Go upstairs and get more rest. Unless you need me to stay?"
Neal shakes his head stiffly, trying not to yawn. "I'll see you at the office later."
"Maybe," Peter says, non-committally. "Don't go anywhere else."
"Will you be watching me?" Neal asks.
"I most certainly will be," Peter responds. Which is comforting in its way; the ground may have fallen from under his feet, but Peter is dependable, whatever's happened between them. "Feel better, okay?"
"Yeah," Neal says, and gets out slowly. He's relieved when he's steadier on his feet than he'd feared. "Peter?" he says, into the car. "Thanks."
Peter's face is a study in fondness. "Any time," he says.
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