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23 January 2012 @ 11:38 pm
[fic: white collar] Sunrise in Shades of Ice  
Look how fast I'm writing fic! I feel very proud of myself :D

Title: Sunrise in Shades of Ice
Characters/Pairing: Neal & Peter, Gen
Genre/Rating: Hurt/comfort; T
Word count: 1400
Warnings: None (Despite summary, no character death here!)
Notes: Written for azertynin's prompt in the 'Trapped' fest on whitecollarhc.
The beautiful cover was made by kanarek13!

Summary: They'll freeze to death out here. Neal knows it, even if Peter's convinced otherwise.

- o -

Peter's breaths are white puffs of smoke. Neal watches as they form and fade. It's like Peter's a dragon, which is a good image. He wonders what he is in that metaphor.

"You still with me?" Peter asks, sounding anxious through his chattering teeth. The words frost in the pale light.

"Mmm," Neal says. Although perhaps classing it as speaking is a little optimistic.

He's mostly draped across Peter, with Peter's arms wrapped tight around him, his coat attempting to envelope them both. Hoar frost coats the weeds which have splintered through the cement which was a floor in some past where there was a roof and more than one brick wall still standing. But it's a shelter from the knifing wind all the same.

"Talk to me," Peter urges.

"Cold," Neal manages to force through numb lips. He's so cold. He can't feel any more where he ends and the icy floor begins.

Peter's face is ghostly pale against the before-dawn grey of the sky. "I know," he says. "But you have to hang on. Just a bit longer, okay?" He's shaking. Neal finds it odd that he can see that but not feel the vibrations through his own body. "The sun will come up soon. It'll get warmer. And anyway, the others will find us."

Neal can't picture being warm. He's frozen all the way to his core and he imagines himself slowly becoming a sculpture, blue and white. There are worse things.

He watches the clouds coalesce as Peter breathes.

"You had to go in the river," Peter complains, in a way which suggests he's been turning it over in his thoughts for a while, and Neal makes a huff of protest because squeezing out through the broken flooring of the dock had been how he had unlocked their prison, after all.

He already can't remember their actions very clearly. But the bite of the black water, a thousand barbed claws stabbing deep into his flesh; the moment of panic as, even with air around his face, he had to fight the muscles locked tight around his lungs, forcing them to release so he could take a breath — he won't forget those things soon. And now he can't even move, paralysed by the slow poison of the cold's talons. Peter could surely have made it to a road despite their night in the arctic building, but he used up all of his energy getting Neal to the closest bit of shelter. Neal can't even remember if he was dragged or carried. He certainly didn't walk.

"Cold," Neal moans again, because it's all-consuming, and he knows he's almost consumed.

Peter hugs him closer, as if he'll actually be able to keep away the slow death which is creeping in, rather than just allowing more of the river water which hasn't yet frozen to seep from Neal's sodden clothing into his own, leaching heat with it. "Hold on," he says, shakily. "You'll be okay, just hang in there."

Neal wonders at his surety. He's becoming sure of just the opposite. "Peter," he forces out, urgently. "Should leave me."

"Don't be ridiculous."

"You'll freeze too." Peter can still go further. Maybe he can be found before they both die out here.

"Neal," Peter says, very firmly. "I am not going to leave you."

"Can get help," Neal tries. It's hard to move his lips; harder to get out words. "Trust you," he says.

Peter shakes him, which Neal can see happen but not feel. "Stop it," he insists. "You trust me, so trust my team too. They'll find us."

And Peter believes it — Neal can see it in his face. So Neal manages to nod, very slightly, because when it comes to it he wants to believe Peter, even when he really doesn't. And he has no words for how unbearably grateful he is that, despite his plea, he isn't being left here on his own.

He blinks, slowly, and when he opens his eyes Peter is shaking him again. "Stay with me, Neal," he's saying fiercely, having to speak slowly to get the words out. "Stay with me."

Neal stares up at the lightening sky. Pearl-grey. Peter's white face is taut and lined, but there's really no need for him to be so worried because Neal isn't cold anymore. He recognises the lack but can't find another sensation to slot into its place.

There is a layer of frost on Peter's coat, gently silver.

"Neal?" Peter asks, and Neal says, I'm okay, and it's only after Peter's been repeating himself for a while that he realises he never spoke aloud.


Peter's cheek is next to his. Neal's wrapped tight in his arms.

Peter's breaths are fog and smoke and frost, close enough to Neal that he might as well be breathing for them both, and perhaps he is. He doesn't speak but when he meets Neal's gaze he smiles, a little, and there are chips of ice melting in his eyes.

Somewhere the sun is rising. The sky is a light and delicate blue, shades of a glacial crevasse. A sunrise of bitter and beautiful cold. The ground is white and silver, sparkling and shining.

"It's okay," Peter murmurs, and his voice cracks like it's ice itself. It's okay, it's okay.

There are worse ways to die.

- o -


Something brand-hot is pressed against his neck. Neal cries out and tries to pull away, but he can't move. It hurts. It hurts.

His eyelids are too heavy to lift more than halfway, and there are only blurred shapes beyond them. Grey and grey and light. Voices.

"Neal," someone says. "Neal."

A hand on the pulse at his throat. Hurts.

His eyes close.

- o -

There's warmth. He's warm.

He opens his eyes and the light hurts, so he closes them again. But he can move. He curls his fingers in and out of his palm, because he can. But he's heavy; weighted down.

"Neal? Are you awake?"

He blinks, and El is there, leaning over him. "Hey," he says, and finds that he's half-buried under a mound of blankets.

"Hey," she says, and the look she gives him is like sunlight. "Good to see you."

"Where's Peter?" Neal asks.

She moves aside and when he turns his head he can see Peter there in a bed across from him, hooked up to monitors of his own. "He's sleeping," El says. "He was awake earlier, he's fine." She's smiling, but she can't quite hide the lines of worry and fatigue on her face.

Peter stirs. "Not asleep," he mumbles.

"Nor is Neal, honey," El says, and Peter's eyes fly open. He pushes himself up.

"Neal," he says, smiling hugely with what looks like utter relief. "You okay?"

"Yeah," Neal says, as El perches on his bed next to his feet. His voice feels strange, as weak as the rest of him, but he's okay.

"You had me pretty worried there," Peter says, and Neal remembers his white face against the clear sky, the fear in his voice.


"Just — don't expect me to leave you like that, alright?" He shakes his head. "You should know me better by now."

He had been expecting to die. "I thought —" Neal begins, and stops. He can't say this to Peter. It wouldn't be fair.

El pats his leg gently.

Peter swallows. "I thought you were dead," he says. "So did Diana and Jones at first." He shudders slightly. "Seriously, don't do that again. I mean it."

"Hon, he only just woke up," El says warningly. "Why don't you save the heavy talk for later?"

"I'm fine," Neal tells her quickly.

She gives him a stern look. "I've been here for the last nine hours, so don't try that. You'll be fine, but right now you need to stop pretending and rest."

Neal grins, and Peter outright laughs. "I suppose you're right," he admits.

"Of course I am," she replies, slightly smugly. "Now, Neal, do you want us to let you sleep some more?"

"I'm not that tired," Neal insists.

That turns out not to be true — within a few minutes the conversation is being entirely carried by Peter and El. Neal listens for a while, and gradually slides into a confused dream where he's encased in blue-silver ice, but he's warm there, and safe.

They're in the dream with him. That's probably why.

- o -

Posted at http://frith-in-thorns.dreamwidth.org/41048.html with comment count unavailable comments.
Les jeux sont faitsleonie_alastair on January 23rd, 2012 11:51 pm (UTC)
Great imagery. Cool (Cold?) story. :D
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile hatfrith_in_thorns on January 24th, 2012 11:24 pm (UTC)
Hee :P Thank you very much!
Sholio: WhiteCollar-Peter Neal hugsholio on January 24th, 2012 12:15 am (UTC)
Awww, hypothermia-fic! <3 This is quite lovely - I especially love your descriptions, which are vividly beautiful as well as very evocative of the cold.
Frith: AtLA - Katara - bending waterfrith_in_thorns on January 24th, 2012 11:32 pm (UTC)
You've got to love the classic h/c tropes :P And thank you very much! I mostly wrote this story for the descriptions, I think -- I had a really clear idea of the images, and it built from there.
love_82 on January 24th, 2012 12:42 am (UTC)
Awww, this is sweet. I agree, great imagery and descriptons.
Frith: White Collar - Neal+Peter - shirtsfrith_in_thorns on January 24th, 2012 11:33 pm (UTC)
(I love that icon, it's adorable!)

Thank you very much! Every now and then I get the urge to write something that's all about the descriptions :D
(no subject) - love_82 on January 25th, 2012 01:27 am (UTC) (Expand)
RabidChild's Ficrabidchild on January 24th, 2012 12:45 am (UTC)
This is simply gorgeous! This line:

And he has no words for how unbearably grateful he is that, despite his plea, he isn't being left here on his own.

...just about broke me! I love me some hypothermia fics, and this one hits all the buttons - hard!

Loved it.
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile shirtfrith_in_thorns on January 24th, 2012 11:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I do love the classic h/c tropes like hypothermia :D I'm really happy that you enjoyed reading this :)
oh these heroes come and go;: [wc] neal/peter - prom picture!;;micheleeeex on January 24th, 2012 01:45 am (UTC)
I love this!!
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile hatfrith_in_thorns on January 24th, 2012 11:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Winterwinterstar95 on January 24th, 2012 01:54 am (UTC)
Sweet ending. I like how this worked, especially Neal's confusion.
Frith: White Collar - Neal - hat bluefrith_in_thorns on January 24th, 2012 11:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you :) I'm glad that worked for you!
a rearranger of the proverbial bookshelf: White Collar - Peter & Nealembroiderama on January 24th, 2012 03:15 am (UTC)
I love the feeling of distance here as Neal drifts off, how calm and yet scary it is.
Frith: White Collar - Neal+Peter - purplefrith_in_thorns on January 24th, 2012 11:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm really happy that worked :D
ivorysilkivorysilk on January 24th, 2012 03:56 am (UTC)
Awesome--loved your descriptions, so poetic--and particularly loved El at the end. Great work!
Frith: Zundry - Coffee cupfrith_in_thorns on January 24th, 2012 11:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I started this story with a really vivid image in my head, so it all revolved around the descriptions really :) Glad you liked El, too!
kriadydragonkriadydragon on January 24th, 2012 04:16 am (UTC)
That was great. Wonderful imagery. I was feeling cold right along with Neal.
Frith: White Collar - Neal - hat bluefrith_in_thorns on January 24th, 2012 11:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Every now and then I love writing stories where I can go completely overboard on description :D
shadowfireflame: White Collarshadowfireflame on January 24th, 2012 05:26 am (UTC)
Whee, this hits so many of my kinks! Peter and Neal cuddling while trying not to die of the cold! I'm so glad they were okay in the end. :)
Frith: White Collar - Neal+Peter - shirtsfrith_in_thorns on January 24th, 2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
Everything needs more h/c-caused cuddles. *nods sagely* I'm really glad you enjoyed this!
sinkwriter: WC - Neal with hat - Looking upsinkwriter on January 24th, 2012 05:53 am (UTC)
It is so freaking cold and windy outside right now that my bedroom is chilly. Reading this story did not help because the cold you described was so vividly written. *GRIN*

But it's okay because those final two paragraphs? Were really beautiful. And made me smile.

Nicely done!

Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile hatfrith_in_thorns on January 24th, 2012 11:44 pm (UTC)
Apologies for adding to your coldness ;) I'm really glad that you enjoyed reading this, thank you! :D
pipiljpipilj on January 24th, 2012 05:55 am (UTC)
Loved the way you described the bone chilling cold brrr, had to grab a cup of coffee after reading.
Frith: White Collar - Neal - hat bluefrith_in_thorns on January 24th, 2012 11:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I loved writing those descriptions :)
noiproksanoiproksa on January 24th, 2012 07:26 am (UTC)
So cute and beautifully written! It seemed almost poetic at times (I especially liked the part when the sun is rising and it's almost over).
I really liked the concept, too, that you began with the aftermath so to speak, and we don't get to know much about what's been going down but that short dialogue between them touching upon the subject was enough.
Needless to say Peter hugging Neal closer and trying to take away the cold was the sweetest thing. And I love the ending, those last sentences are perfect and left me with a smile.
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile shirtfrith_in_thorns on January 24th, 2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! The part with the sunrise is the bit of the story I'm most pleased with :D And I love writing descriptions - I started out with a very strong image in my head, so I wrote the story around it.
I have to say that I often find aftermaths the most interesting thing to write about (hence why a lot of my fics tend to start like that! *gg*). Possibly I should try and diversify a bit.
And everything needs more hugs imo :D I'm really pleased that you enjoyed this story!
imbecamiel: WC Neal Choose Sideimbecamiel on January 25th, 2012 03:08 am (UTC)
Oh, ouch. In the best possible way. *g* This is just excellent - intense, yet oddly beautiful as well. Mmm. Love it.
Frith: White Collar - Neal - dirty handsfrith_in_thorns on January 25th, 2012 08:41 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! :)
(Anonymous) on January 25th, 2012 03:29 pm (UTC)
I love this!!!
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile hatfrith_in_thorns on January 25th, 2012 03:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)