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16 March 2012 @ 09:10 pm
[fic: white collar] Spinning Out  
I don't quite know what this fic is...

Title: Spinning Out
Characters/Pairing: Neal, canon Peter/Elizabeth; Gen/Pre-OT3
Genre/Rating: Hurt/comfort, angst; PG-13
Word count: 2600
Warnings: Descriptions of anxiety
Notes: I wrote this as gen… but reading back it does seem a bit shippy. So I've tagged it as pre-OT3 too, and you can take it whichever way you prefer.
Written for 10tropes, for the prompt/trope Intoxication ensues.

Summary: Peter may be less than impressed at Neal taking risks on operations, but that doesn't mean he's not going to be there through the aftermath.

- o -

There was a point, just after Neal realised that the operation might be getting out of contol, when he might have been able to call the whole thing off. Possibly without too much loss of trust from Trivers, the target of their sting, if he played his cards right.

"You know I don't do this, man," he said, staring at the white pill containing god-knew-what that Trivers was pushing on him. They were in a dimly-lit private backroom of the club, and the bass line thudded through the walls.

"Everyone needs first-hand experience of the merchandise," Trivers insisted. His eyes and grin were stretched wide. "C'mon, Nick. You're in or out!"

Neal could have said the safe-word. Peter and the others were in the van, he knew, just waiting for him to give the signal — he could picture Peter scowling in frustration as he listened. But whether or not he managed to salvage Trivers' trust this might be their only chance to take down this entire ring at once.

"Want to tell me just what's in there?" Neal asked.

Trivers laughed, just as he had before he’d swallowed his own. "That's half the fun!" he exclaimed. "Come on."

I am really going to regret this. "I'm in all the way," Neal said, and dry-swallowed the tablet.

"I knew you were!" Trivers slapped his back triumphantly. "Knew we were friends. We're going to have so much fun together!"

"Yeah," Neal said, and grinned back.

- o -

Everything went smoothly from that point. Wonderfully, even. Neal could feel his heartbeat racing, pulsing and drumming along with the music and the lights. He hashed out details with Trivers, and the two of them were brilliant.

Finally there was the meeting with the rest of the supply chain, and Neal gave the take-down signal. Someone tried to knife him when the FBI stormed the room but he was too fast for them and they missed, all his reactions were in overdrive, it barely mattered even, he was so fast.

And then Peter had his hands on Neal's shoulders. "Hey," he said. "Neal. Are you alright?"

"Of course!" Neal said, and he laughed, because it was such a ridiculous question. "I'm fine, I'm great, you're looking worried, why are you doing that? Everything's really good!"

Peter didn't stop looking worried. "Do you know what it was Trivers gave you?" he asked, so slowly, he was talking so slowly and dully.

"Are you okay?" Neal asked. "You're being so slow, all of you are being slow."

He tried to twist away, because this conversation was already boring, but Peter's grip on his shoulders tightened. "Neal, he said. "Stay still, okay? Try and calm down."

"I'm fine," Neal said immediately. "You're not listening to me, you're just —"

"Neal!" Peter cut in. "Pay attention. Do you know what you let yourself get dosed with?"

Neal started. He'd forgotten altogether about the tablet. "I don’t know. It's fine, though, you know. We got them all."

Peter sighed. He still didn't look happy. He should be happy. "Okay," he said. "You're going to come along with me now."

"Where are we going? It's late now, isn't it? It's dark. You're supposed to be going home to Elizabeth. You said before you were going to."

"Well, I've changed my mind." Peter shifted his grip, turning Neal so that he could propel him along through the now-empty club. "I think we're going to take a trip to the hospital instead."

Neal went along pliantly. It was better than standing still. He wanted to keep moving, keep talking, keep moving. And Peter kept looking at him worriedly. That was making him feel worried.

"Come on," Peter said. "I'll drive you."

"We could walk," Neal suggested. "I like walking." He didn't want to sit down, to stay in one place. The overload of energy was feeling less good now.

Peter raised his eyebrows. "No, we're not going to walk there. Get in the car."

Neal got in. He tried to buckle his seatbelt but his hands were shaking. Had he noticed that before? He was jittery, his muscles tremoring. "Peter," he said. "I can't —" He swallowed.

"Hey." Peter put his hands over Neal's. They were warm and steady. Steady, steady. "I got it. It's okay."

Neal nodded, and kept nodding, jerking his head. His feet were tapping on the floor. He wrapped his arms across himself, rubbing at them.

"Neal! Hey. Calm down. You're okay."

He was breathing very fast. He tried to slow it down. He was going too fast. He could remember that earlier it had felt like he was flying, and it had been wonderful, but now everything was wrong, he was spinning out of control.

"It's okay," Peter repeated, in a slow calm tone. "You're fine, you're going to be fine. Just relax."

Neal jerked his head again. His skin was crawling, itching to get off his body. Even his brain was jittering, looping. "Don't like this," he said, the words trying to spill out of his mouth faster than he could form them. "D-don't. Peter, this is, is horrible."

"I knew we should have got EMS," Peter muttered. Then, louder, "Come on, Neal, easy. Easy. We're almost there."

It felt like an absolute age. Headlights flickered and jolted past them. Neal leaned forward, his arms wrapped tightly around himself. It felt like he was about to fall or fly apart, and every bump in the road just made it worse. Neal knew that he was making little noises of protest and he couldn't stop.

"We're here, look." Peter pulled up close to the doors and was around the car to help before Neal had managed to fumble his seatbelt clasp undone. "Let me help you."

Peter was solid and steady. Like a rock to anchor against. He put an arm around Neal, pressing down on the shuddering in his skin. "Don't go," Neal pleaded.

"I'm not going anywhere," Peter assured him. He kept his arm around Neal as he guided him into the waiting area and used his badge to get attention.

Neal had to sit on an exam bed while he had blood drawn, but he didn’t find the process important. Peter stood by the door talking to the doctor and Neal tried to stay still and not break into pieces and Peter couldn't go anywhere because then something terrible would happen, Peter was keeping him safe, that was what he did. But he might disappear if Neal took his eyes off him.

"Neal, did you hear any of that?" Peter put his hand on Neal's shoulder and Neal latched onto his wrist, keeping it there. He shook his head mutely.

The doctor moved closer to him. "In essence, what you took was a whole lot of MDMA cut with some other nasty uppers. You're crashing back from it and that's what's causing the anxiety and the other symptoms," she said. "We can give you something to calm you down a bit."

She glanced at Peter when Neal didn’t answer. "Do it," he said.

"Happy to." She made a note.

"Are you admitting him?" Peter asked.

She pursed her lips. "I'd go either way. He's not in any immediate danger, but he does need to be monitored. He's going to be more comfortable in familiar surroundings, obviously."

"Neal?" Peter asked. "What would you rather do?"

"Don't go," Neal said, urgently. "Please. Please."

"I'm not going anywhere. Would you prefer I stayed with you here, or would you like to come home with me and El?"

"To yours," Neal said instantly. Peter was safe. His home was safe too.

The doctor smiled. "I'll be right back. Let me just get some things for you."

- o -

It was definitely late by the time they got back to the Burkes'. Neal was leaning back in the car seat, slumped slightly against the door. The combination of drugs was unsettling. He still felt shaky and worried but it was damped down now, like there was something heavy laid over every inch of his skin and pressing inwards.

"Will Elizabeth mind?" he asked.

Peter sighed. "No, Neal," he said. "I talked to her, you know she doesn't mind."

"Sorry," Neal said. He had asked before, he knew. It was like his brain was skittering along the same loop, around and around, and he couldn't get off. He was just self-aware enough to recognise it, but he couldn't make it stop.

"You don't have to keep apologising. Anyway, we're here now."

Neal didn't want to get out of the Taurus. But then Peter came round and opened his door, and hauled him out as if this wasn't unusual at all. Neal gripped onto Peter's sleeve, and it helped him overcome his unease enough to get him into the house.

Elizabeth was still up, in a robe and pyjamas with hair still slightly damp. "Neal!" she exclaimed when she saw him. "Are you alright?" She started towards him, then hesitated. "Are you — I mean, if you don't —" Something in his expression must have reassured her, however, because the next moment he was being engulfed in a tight hug. Neal finally let go of Peter to hug her back, because she was safe too, she was so safe.

"He's worse than a limpet right now," Peter commented wryly.

Elizabeth laughed, and guided Neal down to the couch. "I'm making hot chocolate," she said, cheerily, as she stepped. "How's that sound?"

"Sounds great," Neal said. He tried to relax, to tell himself that he was safe, but he couldn't help the way his breathing and heart-rate sped up when he was suddenly disconnected from everyone again, or the way his muscles were tensing, his nails biting into his palms.

Elizabeth looked at him sharply, then at Peter. "Honey," she said, "Why don't you stay here with Neal while I make the drinks and bring them in?"

Peter shrugged off his jacket and tie. "I think that's a good idea," he said, and sank down onto the couch. "How're you feeling?" he asked Neal.

"Pretty miserable," Neal admitted. He fought down the urge to grab hold of Peter. It was stupid. Peter was right there. He could see that.

Peter shifted closer and put his arm around Neal's shoulders. "It's okay," he said, his voice surprisingly gentle. "There's nothing embarrassing about needing help."

"This isn't me, though." That was the most unsettling thing. These weren't his reactions or feelings, and he couldn't control them. That was frightening.

"Yes," Peter said, patiently. "I know. That's rather the point."

Neal let himself lean into Peter's side. He breathed out, slowly.

El came back then, with mugs on a tray. She smiled fondly at the two of them as she deposited the tray onto the coffee table, and then sat herself down on Neal's other side. "You're doing great," she said.

Neal thought that wasn't strictly true, especially as he wasn't really doing anything, but the praise felt nice, as did the hot chocolate, and the two of them on either side of him. "Thank you," he said.

Elizabeth seemed to know exactly what to do. She began telling the two of them a story about one of her more entertaining clients, and Neal was able to find himself smiling along, and began to feel the anxiety recede. He closed his eyes and let her voice wash over him, Peter's deeper one interjecting occasionally.

"Neal?" A gentle pressure on his shoulder pulled him up. Elizabeth smiled at him. "Do you think you'll be able to sleep now?"

He half-shrugged, and then nodded, although he hated the idea of being alone again.

Peter and El exchanged a look. "Come on then," Peter said. "Up you get."

Neal allowed himself to be shepherded upstairs, and changed into the pyjamas Peter tossed over to him in the guest room. “Call us if you need anything,” Elizabeth said.

“Sure,” Neal said, and she left the door ajar after they’d each said goodnight.

Neal got into bed, and thought about keeping the light on. But it was beginning to hurt his eyes, so he turned it off.

And then found that the darkness was worse. It felt like he was being watched, eyes in the dark, eyes on him. Dark concealed, it could hide any number of terrible things and he’d never know about them. He reached for the light switch and stopped his hand halfway because this was stupid, this was ridiculous, there was no reason for his body to be reacting like this but he was breathing faster and faster, his heart racing, thudding in his ears, his chest hurting —

“Neal!” The pressure of hands on him broke through the spell. “Sweetie, it’s okay. You’re okay. I’m right here.”

Neal gasped, and tried to force his ragged breathing back under his control. El was leaning over him, little more than a silhouette against the slab of light falling through the door from the landing. She stroked his hair soothingly. “Sorry,” he managed.

“You don’t need to say sorry.” El dropped her hand to his shoulder, and kept it there. “Are you feeling a bit better now?”

Neal nodded, and made himself sit up. He felt weirdly vulnerable lying there with her standing over him. “I’m fine,” he said.

“Like hell you are,” Peter said sternly. He had been standing just outside the door; now he pushed it fully open and came inside. He was managing to look authoritative even in pyjamas. “We could hear you from all the way across the hall, and you sounded anything but fine.”

“Sorry,” Neal muttered, feeling a flush of embarrassment spread across his face.

“Stop apologising! This isn’t your fault. Well,” Peter corrected himself, “Actually, it is, but I’m sure you were acting with the best of intentions and not expecting this outcome.”

“Thanks,” Neal said. “I think.”

El turned to give Peter a look. “Hon,” she said, warningly, “This really isn’t the time.”

Peter scrubbed a hand across his eyes. “No,” he admitted. “I suppose not.”

Neal wrapped his arms around his knees, feeling awkward and still shaken.

Peter sighed. “Come on,” he said, and gestured towards the door.

El straightened up but then paused, as did Peter, as if they were waiting for something. Neal blinked. “Me?” he asked.

“Well, this arrangement clearly isn’t working,” Peter said, and shrugged. “And I imagine all of us would like to get some sleep. Come on.”

Elizabeth put her arm around Neal’s back and ushered him across the hall. It felt slightly surreal, especially when she pointed him to the middle of their bed. “Go on, get in.” She squeezed his arm gently at his hesitation. “It’s okay, honestly.”

“This is kind of weird,” Neal muttered, and crawled under the covers.

Peter eased himself in on the near side, and El walked around the foot of the bed to climb in on the other. “Maybe,” Peter agreed. “But you sounded pretty bad there, buddy. If this helps…”

The light clicked off and Neal braced himself for the flooding increase in anxiety, but it didn’t come. If anything, it receded, and kept fading until it was just background noise. He could feel the two of them breathing, steady and warm on either side of him.

“Thanks,” he whispered into the dark.

El patted his arm clumsily and Peter made a huffing noise which might have been affectionate but was also completely deniable.

Neal smiled, and after a while he drifted off to sleep.

- o -

Posted at http://frith-in-thorns.dreamwidth.org/47801.html with comment count unavailable comments.
leesa_perrie: Neal Caffreyleesa_perrie on March 16th, 2012 10:15 pm (UTC)
Ooh, poor Neal! You captured his thoughts and feelings really well - and the concern from Peter and El too.
Frith: White Collar - Neal - dirty handsfrith_in_thorns on March 16th, 2012 10:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I really like concerned Peter :)
Sally M: white collar 7sallymn on March 16th, 2012 10:30 pm (UTC)
Lovely, lovely description - you got the feel of what was happening to him caught up beautifully in the words. And Peter as usual, so protective and just so there...

Thanks for making my morning!
Frith: White Collar - Neal+Peter - walk wallsfrith_in_thorns on March 16th, 2012 10:49 pm (UTC)
Aww, thank you very much! :D And I'm really glad that the feel of the stuff happening to Neal came across :)
lauracollaredlauracollared on March 16th, 2012 11:14 pm (UTC)
Oooo poor Neal!

I kind of love the idea of this *not* OT3 and it not being that weird for Peter and El to sleep next to Neal. :D It's adorable that he's in the middle. Hee.
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile shirtfrith_in_thorns on March 16th, 2012 11:36 pm (UTC)
That's why I was kind of unsure how to label it - I liked the idea of them inviting Neal to sleep with them in a friendshippy way, to look after him, but I didn't want to spring surprise!ship on anyone who read it differently :) I'm very happy that you enjoyed reading, thank you! :)

Edited at 2012-03-17 12:19 am (UTC)
Winterwinterstar95 on March 16th, 2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
I have to say I think I'm in love with you. Your writing is so wonderful wrought and emotional and true. Please write more anytime I see your posts I get all happy! Thanks so much for sharing.
Winterwinterstar95 on March 16th, 2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
Ps I had a bad reaction to the Compazine they gave me in the hospital after I had my second child. You described the reaction exactly how it felt. Truly that was amazing!
(no subject) - jo1968 on March 26th, 2013 12:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - frith_in_thorns on March 17th, 2012 12:18 am (UTC) (Expand)
RabidChild's Ficrabidchild on March 17th, 2012 12:47 am (UTC)
Absolutely wonderful. You've described Neal's little drug trip perfectly - the poor thing! I think i love it as pre-OT3 - I'm picturiung future non-drug-fueled, consensual, snuggles sometime in the future, LOL.

Or maybe not so consensual! loopy!Neal is like a snuggle octopus and no one can escape his warm embrace! hmmm...
lauracollaredlauracollared on March 17th, 2012 04:10 am (UTC)
omg whaaaaat?! that sounds amazing! LOL
I want loopy!Neal to snuggle me with his tentacles! :D
(no subject) - kcrenegade on March 17th, 2012 05:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rabidchild on March 17th, 2012 07:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - frith_in_thorns on March 17th, 2012 04:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rabidchild on March 17th, 2012 05:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - frith_in_thorns on March 17th, 2012 06:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - azertynin on March 18th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - azertynin on March 18th, 2012 09:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - frith_in_thorns on March 17th, 2012 04:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
noiproksanoiproksa on March 17th, 2012 02:22 am (UTC)
Awwww! That was *adorable*!

I really like the concept – it's so Neal to go along with it, not using his safe word but taking the risk instead.
And I love intoxicated!Neal, his pov came across really well. First when the drug takes effect: He tried to twist away, because this conversation was already boring. - Heee. Oh, poor Peter, having to deal with an even more than usual hyperactive Neal! Also: I can literally hear Neal talking, tumbling over the words he's talking so fast.
And later on when he comes crashing down and the anxiety sets in. He is just way to cute in that state! And worried!Peter is there to take care of him, of course – awww! One of my favorite scenes right there, when he doesn't manage to buckle his seat belt:
"Peter," he said. "I can't —" He swallowed.
"Hey." Peter put his hands over Neal's. They were warm and steady. Steady, steady. "I got it. It's okay."

And Neal pleading with Peter not to go is so sweet, especially since Peter keeps reassuring him that he's not going away.
I had absolutely no problem reading this as gen. (But then again, my betas used to tell me I wrote pre-slash all the time, although I intended it as gen, so I guess my tolerance for what constitutes gen is pretty high, as long as there's no (sexual) kissing or more involved.)
Thanks for such a cute fanfiction. :)
Frith: White Collar - Neal+Peter - shirtsfrith_in_thorns on March 17th, 2012 04:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!! I'm glad you felt that Neal was in character here, I was quite worried about whether or not he would be. But he was so fun to write like this! So I'm really happy that you enjoyed it :)

Concerned Peter is also something I really enjoy writing, I love having him taking care of Neal :) And, actually, I can't decide now whether I read this as gen or pre-ot3 :P But I think snuggling's a good thing regardless :)
aqwt101aqwt101 on March 17th, 2012 02:38 am (UTC)
Aww, it's great! Drugged!Neal and protective!Peter are always too adorable:D Platonic bed sharing works just fine for me, so I had no problem to read this story as gen:)
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile shirtfrith_in_thorns on March 17th, 2012 04:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! :) I love writing that character combination. I'm really glad you enjoyed reading!
pooh_collector on March 17th, 2012 03:11 am (UTC)
I love the way you described Neal's drugged out state. It was dead on.

And, I can totally see this as the start of something beautiful.
Frith: White Collar - Diana - mugfrith_in_thorns on March 17th, 2012 05:02 pm (UTC)
Hee, thank you! :D I'm very happy you enjoyed reading :)
that which cannot be seen: danno <3stresa_cho on March 17th, 2012 03:31 am (UTC)
Oh this was lovely!
Frith: White Collar - El - happy phonefrith_in_thorns on March 17th, 2012 05:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
rude02rude02 on March 17th, 2012 03:42 am (UTC)
Nice! The stress was palpable. I would love to see more Neal-sandwiches!
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile hatfrith_in_thorns on March 17th, 2012 05:08 pm (UTC)
XD.Thank you very much!
oh these heroes come and go;: [wc] el & neal & peter;;micheleeeex on March 17th, 2012 04:13 am (UTC)
Awwwww, I love this!!
Frith: White Collar - El - happy phonefrith_in_thorns on March 17th, 2012 05:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I'm glad! :D :D
L Marricklmarrick on March 17th, 2012 04:44 am (UTC)
This is perfect! I could FEEL what Neal was feeling and hear the way his words tumbled over one another. Thank you for putting this out there, and having the courage to use some of your own life experience to make it real. This is amazing!
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile shirtfrith_in_thorns on March 17th, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm really glad this worked, and that you enjoyed it. (And my default setting when Bad Things happen to me in RL is to go "hey, I can use this in a fic! :D" *grins*)
daria234daria234 on March 17th, 2012 04:52 am (UTC)
Aw, this is so sweet. I love intoxicated Neal.
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile hatfrith_in_thorns on March 17th, 2012 06:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I love writing him *gg*
kcrenegadekcrenegade on March 17th, 2012 05:40 am (UTC)
Loved It! I could totally feel Neal's emotions through the tone you set when he was expierencing the drug and then the anxiety.

Lovely story. :)
Frith: White Collar - Neal - dirty handsfrith_in_thorns on March 17th, 2012 06:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm really glad this story worked, I was a bit worried about it :)
pipiljpipilj on March 17th, 2012 05:59 am (UTC)
This was great. Love protective Peter and El.
Frith: White Collar - El - happy phonefrith_in_thorns on March 17th, 2012 06:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I love them too :D