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31 August 2012 @ 06:36 pm
[fic: white collar] Someone Watching Over You  
This fic now has art! By [personal profile] analisegrey/[deviantart.com profile] moonlit-dreamer.

Title: Someone Watching Over You
Characters/Pairing: Neal/Kate, Peter
Rating: T
Word count: 2800
Warnings: Rather a dark fic.
Notes: Written for the "resurrection gone wrong" square on my horrorbingo card. I'm also using this for the "unconsciousness" square on my hc_bingo card. Beta'd by helle_d, and the quote in the summary is by Vladimir Vernadsky.
Please feel free to message me if you want me to elaborate on the warning; I know it's vague. This fic also contains supernatural themes.

Summary: "Atoms, once drawn into the torrent of living matter, do not readily leave it."

- - -

"You can't wish someone back from the dead. However much you want it, they can't be with you again."

"I don't care what you say."

- - -

She drifts in with the night, the darkness still clinging to her. The doors left open to the dark sky outside.

"You can't be here," he whispers. "You're dead."

She is very pale, her skin almost translucent. Her lips move, but there is no sound. No breath. But her eyes are as he remembers, that startlingly pale shade of blue. Like layers and layers of ice.

She reaches out a hand to him, her long white fingers smooth and perfect. Neal reaches for her without consideration, and her touch is almost insubstantial. And cold. Like snow, brushing past.

"Kate," he whispers. He can't speak louder, somehow. Maybe he fears the sound of his voice would have the power to break her back to air.

She touches fingertips to his eyelids, closing them gently. Snowflakes, he pictures again. Landing lightly on his face. But then she takes his hands and he can feel her, the shape of her, although she is so unbearably fragile that he hardly dares exert any pressure of his own.

And then she kisses him. So cold, so cold and barely there, but she is Kate, and his hands go up to bury themselves in the soft drift of her hair.

"Neal," she murmurs against his ear.

"How are you here?" He slides his palms over the so-familiar contours of her face, down her neck. He doesn't open his eyes. His hands are his tools; he trusts them. His eyes have deceived him before. They've showed him glimpses of Kate in so many strangers, on so many streets.

But he's touching her now. She must be real, if he can do that.

"I'm cold," she says.

You died in fire. You shouldn't be like ice.

"I'll warm you," he promises. "Come here."

At that, she draws back slightly, although her fingers find his again, entwine with them. "You left me. We were supposed to be together…"

He's back on the tarmac, with the knifing wind freezing his skin. Turning. Turning. He's been here so often, has thought of so many things he might, could, should have said to Peter that he can no longer remember which was the truth. He could have been about to say goodbye, or about to stay.

"I didn't leave you," he says. "I was searching for you for so long."

She steps closer to him, then, her body a line of ice pressed against him. He holds her tightly and gives her all the warmth he can.

- - -

When he wakes, she's gone. Neal stares up at the ceiling and wonders, idly, if he's finally started going crazy. (He can imagine Mozzie saying, Finally?) There is sunlight pouring in through the glass doors, one slightly ajar. When he eventually gets up he shivers at the coolness in the room.

He thinks of her, shadows and frost, and can't imagine her in the sunlight. She came in with the night.

He doesn't believe in ghosts.

(Can't bear to believe in ghosts.)

He dresses warmly, and goes to work.

- - -

Moonglow is soft in the apartment when he arrives home, and Neal hesitates with his hand on the light switch. One of the balcony doors stands open, casing a latticed shadow.

"Kate?" he asks quietly, and shuts the door behind him.

"I'm here." She is by the curtain, stroking the fabric softly. She steps slowly across the room, and the moonlight glances from her skin, her pale eyes.

"You came back." It sounds silly, once he's said it. He spent months, preparing things he would say to her when he got the chance. Then more months on the things he wished he'd said, thought he would never have the chance to. All of them seem irrelevant now.

She touches his face. Her hand feels more solid than it was before. "Of course I did. I won't leave you." His brain tells him that something is slightly, subtly wrong.



He closes his eyes, leans his forehead to rest against hers. Her breath breezes against his lips. "Are you a ghost?" he asks. That's what's wrong. She has no scent. Her breath is cool and empty as the air.

"I don't know," she whispers. "I don't know how it feels to be a ghost."

"How do you feel?" he asks. "Cold, but what else?"

The shake of her head is so slight that he can't be sure he felt it.

- - -

Peter raps loudly on the desk and Neal jerks his head up with a start.

"Peter," he says, blinking, while plastering on a smile and trying to look alert.

Peter raises his eyebrows, not at all fooled. "Late night?"

"Not particularly," Neal says. "Maybe you should have given me more exciting cases. You're wasting my skills on these files."

"Your skills are right where they belong," Peter retorts. He flicks his eyes up and down over Neal, and frowns at what he sees. "If you're falling asleep in the middle of the day, you certainly shouldn't be doing fieldwork."

Neal rolls his eyes right back. But as Peter's turning away he says, on impulse, "Do you believe in ghosts?"

Peter frowns again at him. "No, of course not. Why?"

"No reason," Neal says, and gives Peter his most annoyingly enigmatic smile, the one which makes Peter leave him alone in disgust.

- - -

"You're home," Kate says. Neal blinks. The sun has slipped below the line of buildings, but it's still well before dark. And yet she's here already, waiting for him. "How was your day?" The words sound a little odd, as if she's learnt them by rote without understanding.

That doesn't matter. All that matters is that she's here. "My day was fine," Neal says, and kisses her, stroking back her hair. Everything about her is impossibly smooth and perfect.

He shuts his eyes and drinks her in.

When she's lying in bed beside him, his arms around her (warming her, he is still trying to warm her), she says, low and earnest, "Will you come away with me?"

"Away?" Neal asks, surprised into opening his eyes as wide as he can in the dim light. "Where?"

The expression on her face is distant, and she isn't smiling now. "With me," she says, as if it's an answer. Her pale eyes almost gleam.

"Mozzie, too?"

"No. Just you and me. We'll be together, Neal. Isn't that what you've wanted?"

"I can't just leave," Neal protests. He shivers; pulls the duvet up further around them both.

Kate says nothing. Neal has the sudden fear that she's about to fade away again, become as much and more insubstantial as she had been only days ago.

"Can't you stay with me?" he begs.

"It's so cold here."

"Let me help."

"Yes," she says, and rests her brow against his chest. Over his heart.

- - -

"Are you coming down with something?" Jones demands. "I don't want you giving it to me."

- - -

"Geez, Neal, stop trying to cook us," Peter says, and slaps Neal's hand away from the Taurus's heating controls.

- - -

"Are you sleeping properly?" Diana asks. "You've been looking like crap all week."

- - -

He's tired so much of the time now. He struggles through days at the office almost on autopilot, and can hardly think straight by the time he gets back to his apartment.

But Kate looks after him there. She strokes his hair and holds him close. She's always there now. Solid, real, although her skin pressed smooth against his is still cool. She doesn't eat, or drink, although she watches him when he remembers to.

And she whispers to him when he lies in bed, though he can never remember the words, afterwards. He sleeps a lot, and she's there with him.

Always with him. "I'm warmer now," she murmurs.

"Enough?" he asks, barely awake.

She kisses his lips, whispers against them, "Not yet."

- - -

"Neal," Peter orders. "Open your eyes. Come on."

He struggles to. Everything is washed in a greyish light, and beyond Peter's anxious face, hovering close above his, it's all out of focus.

"Neal," Peter says again, insistently. "Can you hear me?"

"Yes," he whispers. He is so heavy, all his limbs cored with lead; or perhaps it's the air which is heavy, pressing him down.

"Do you know where you are?"

He blinks, slowly. There are walls somewhere behind Peter, wavering hazily. "The office," he says, slowly.

Peter exhales, and sits back. "What happened?" he asks. "Do you know?"

Neal starts to sit up, carefully, feeling weak and ill. Peter supports him, presses a paper cup of water into his hand. The greyness recedes as he sips, and he can think more clearly. "Just got dizzy," he says. There's no point in trying to argue that he's fine, but he needs something which sounds reasonable if he's to stop Peter taking him to the ER.

Kate won't be there. He needs her; needs her, he realises, like her presence is a drug.

"I haven't been feeling well. Must be coming down with the flu or something."

Peter frowns, and puts a hand on Neal's forehead. His palm is cool, and Neal shivers. "Yeah," Peter says, "You've got a fever alright. Why have you been coming into work when you're sick?"

Neal half-shrugs. He doesn't remember the morning. His last memory is of falling asleep in the darkness with Kate's body against him. "I think I should probably take a cab home and spend the rest of the day in bed," he says, injecting wryness into his tone.

"That's the most sensible idea you've had all day," Peter says, trying to be stern but just looking and sounding concerned. "When you can get up, I'll drive you. Take your time."

Neal has very little awareness of how he gets from the office to Peter's car, and from there to his apartment. Everything is greyed-out again, and he leans heavily on Peter, trembling and exhausted, until he can finally collapse onto his bed. His eyes are half-shut as Peter pulls off his shoes and tie, and sits him up enough to take off his jacket and over-shirt. Neal doesn't resist, but nor does he have enough energy to help.

It's only when Peter has got Neal into pyjama pants and is watching him sip from another glass of water that Neal comes back to himself enough to be concerned about Kate. What if Peter comes face-to-face with her?

"Are you going to be alright on your own?" Peter asks, worried. "June's away at the moment, isn't she?"

Neal shakes his head. "I'll be fine," he says, without enough strength to be properly convincing.

Peter clearly has the same thought because he frowns again, and bustles about putting a full jug of water and some Tylenol on the nightstand, and making sure that Neal's cell is there too. "If you need anything, call me," he orders. "I'm serious. Especially if you've changed your mind about coming back to ours and letting El look after you."

Neal shakes his head again, more lethargically. He's already turned down this offer. "Peter. I can look after myself."

Peter looks even less convinced, but he sighs and nods. "I'm going to look in on you tomorrow," he says. "Get some sleep and feel better." He pulls more blankets up around Neal. "Warm enough?"

"Yeah," Neal says, although he isn't, not really. He can't remember when he's last felt warm.

Kate is there as soon as Peter's footsteps die away. She strokes his face, holds her hand against his brow. He opens his arms to her, and she lies inside them and sighs contentedly.

"Do you still want me to leave?" he murmurs.

Her eyes are very blue. He could swear the colour of them has deepened, but that might be the fever. "You already made your choice," she says. "I'm going to stay."

There is something unsettling about her smile, but he can't keep his eyes open to work out what.

- - -

He drifts in and out of consciousness, too weak and exhausted to move, his head pounding. Still too cold, always too cold, although he's sweating and thinks he must still be feverish.

He dreams of flames which are white and blue and freeze his flesh where they caress him, turning to ash which falls like snow through the gathering dark. He dreams of Kate with her lips pressed to the skin over his heart. The ice in her eyes kindles into that strange cold fire.

"Kate," he whispers as he wakes.

She kneels on the bed beside him and strokes his hair, his face. Her hands are no longer so pale that light seems to shine right through them. No longer insubstantial. But still flawless; eerily perfect.

"What's happening to me?" he asks.

She acts as if she hasn't heard him, but her expression slides into something unreadable. Something that doesn't belong on her.

He reaches for her hands, pulls them to his face, so that she finally looks at him. "Kate?"

"Neal, don't," she whispers, and twists free of him easily, backing across the room.

He pushes himself up and tries to follow her, but after two unsteady steps his body fails him and he crumples to the floor. He braces his arms underneath him, tries to get up, but he can't. Too leaden with fatigue. His eyes drop shut.

Maybe he hears his name from her, but he can't be sure, drifting again. The fever, the thinks, is only making him lose heat faster.

- - -

He dreams he is fading. Fingers trace warmth down his spine and he knows he's becoming unreal.

- - -

Someone shakes him, taps his face.

"Kate," he whispers. "Let me sleep."

"Neal, it's me. It's Peter. Come on, wake up."

He tries to open his eyes. They respond so slowly, as if they're frozen shut.

"That's it, come on." A hand against his cheek. "Neal, you're freezing."

"Think maybe I'm dying." He can't manage more than a whisper.

"Don't be melodramatic, you're not dying." Sharpness. Fear.

Neal's too tired to feel anything, really. "I gave too much to her, I think."

"Gave what? To who?" Peter squeezes his shoulders as Neal begins to slip away again. "Tell me what's going on."

So much warmth in Peter's hands. Neal relaxes into it.

"Neal." Peter's voice drops suddenly, becomes edged. "There's someone on your balcony. I can see their shadow."

"It's Kate," Neal whispers. He feels a rush of relief at admitting it. He's tired of hiding her. So tired.

"No, Kate's dead, you know that. Neal?" Too much kindness, gentleness.

The balcony door opens. It takes all of Neal's remaining strength to turn his head towards it, towards Kate standing there.

"I'm not dead anymore," she says. "Not now." She holds a hand up in front of her, turns it from side to side. "I'm not cold." Her voice is wondering.

Peter is momentarily shocked into silence. "But you're —"

"I'm real. Now."

"This can't be happening," Peter insists.

"It was a gift."

Peter's voice gets louder. "What's going on?" His eyes turn back to Neal. "What did you do?"

Neal stares at her. "You only said you wouldn't leave," he whispers.

Her smile is wide. Alien. Dangerous. "I won't."

"Whatever you're doing to him," Peter says to Kate, "You need to stop. You're killing him, aren't you? Somehow."

"She doesn't mean to," Neal whispers. And then, "I let her."

"I won't." Peter's voice is dangerous too, steely.

Neal tries to say something, to move. But as Peter steps towards Kate his eyelids finally close, and he knows he doesn't have the strength to open them again.

Flames. A roaring, rushing wall of burning ice. He wonders which one of them it's coming for.

"Neal," Peter says. "Hold on."

- - -

Posted at http://frith-in-thorns.dreamwidth.org/70711.html with comment count unavailable comments.
florastuart: Kateflorastuart on August 31st, 2012 06:04 pm (UTC)
Eeeeeeeeeeeeee oh I love this! *shivers* The whole atmosphere is chilling, and Neal's state of mind as he's trying to hold onto her and slowly slipping away. And ghost!Kate is very creepy ... it's clear from the beginning that something is subtly off about her, and then the ending ... *shivers again* Love it!
Frith: White Collar - Neal - worried shirtfrith_in_thorns on August 31st, 2012 08:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! This was actually really fun to write. I do love doing creepy :D I'm especially glad that you liked ghost!Kate :)
kanarek13kanarek13 on August 31st, 2012 06:10 pm (UTC)
Let me start with HI! *waves* :P

And WOW, what an interesting and scary concept. Love it. It literally gave me chills, I could almost feel the cold in everything Kate did. Poor Neal...

Thank you for this :D ♥
Frith: White Collar - Neal - knightfrith_in_thorns on August 31st, 2012 08:22 pm (UTC)
Hi! I'm stealing wifi to post fic :D

And thank you very much! I had fun writing this. I don't really subscribe to the Kate-was-evil school of thought, but after death all bets are off :>
(no subject) - kanarek13 on August 31st, 2012 08:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Frith: White Collar - Neal - purple shirtfrith_in_thorns on August 31st, 2012 08:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm really happy you enjoyed this :) Although, I'm afraid I'm one of those annoying people who enjoy writing ambiguous endings every now and then ;D
Sholio: WhiteCollar-Neal sidelightsholio on August 31st, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
Meeeeep! This is really creepy and lovely -- it has a good old-fashioned ghost story vibe to it. (I don't know if this was intentional or not, but I also really love how the meaning of the title twists at the end, from Kate to Peter.)
Frith: White Collar - Neal - hat bluefrith_in_thorns on August 31st, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, I was meaning that with the title :D And also that being "watched over" isn't always a good thing...

And thank you very much!! I really enjoyed writing this. I think Neal would try to go on trusting Kate even past the point he knew it wasn't a good idea, so I was playing around with that.
leahk80leahk80 on August 31st, 2012 06:57 pm (UTC)
creepy, but in a good way, lol!
nicely done!
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile hatfrith_in_thorns on August 31st, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! :)
a rearranger of the proverbial bookshelf: White Collar - Neal b&wembroiderama on August 31st, 2012 07:14 pm (UTC)
meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep This is awesome. I love that she's some kind of succubus/dybbuk sort of creature, and the way you showed Neal fading away felt very real.
A Figment of My Own Imagination: Lustveleda_k on August 31st, 2012 07:25 pm (UTC)
I was thinking of those two creatures too, as well as the Yuki Onna.
(no subject) - embroiderama on August 31st, 2012 07:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - frith_in_thorns on September 1st, 2012 12:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - frith_in_thorns on August 31st, 2012 09:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
dennih23: Nealdennih23 on August 31st, 2012 07:32 pm (UTC)
Very creepy, gave me chills – a really great twist on a ghost story. I hope you do a sequel, I would love to know what happens next.
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile shirtfrith_in_thorns on August 31st, 2012 09:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! :D I'm not sure I'll be doing a sequel, though, I rather like it being ambiguous :)
elrhiarhodanelrhiarhodan on August 31st, 2012 08:34 pm (UTC)
This is terrific - scary and creepy in the best possible way.

Thank you!
Frith: White Collar - Neal - hat bluefrith_in_thorns on August 31st, 2012 09:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm really glad you liked this :)
oh these heroes come and go;: [wc] neal/peter - prom picture!;;micheleeeex on August 31st, 2012 09:42 pm (UTC)
This is so creepy, but I love it! lol
Frith: White Collar - Neal - worried shirtfrith_in_thorns on August 31st, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
hurinhousehurinhouse on August 31st, 2012 10:22 pm (UTC)
yikes! that was chilling, haunting and so fabulous. i love this dark scary atmosphere. poor neal. clever kate.
Frith: White Collar - Neal - purple shirtfrith_in_thorns on September 1st, 2012 12:42 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm very happy you liked this :)
kriadydragon: Beastkriadydragon on August 31st, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
Oh, very nice. So wonderfully creepy. Poor Neal.
Frith: White Collar - Neal - blue shirtfrith_in_thorns on September 1st, 2012 12:43 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!
cimmercimmerdeux on August 31st, 2012 10:54 pm (UTC)
ah, the hungry dead; very Greek, I love it. I love that the essence of Kate, as I always saw her, came through in this fic, the con woman who doesn't have the heart of gold that Neal has, the one who says only "I won't leave" and Neal loves her so much that even as he lies dying, even as he 'gets it' he still begrudges her nothing (perhaps there's even a part of him, the super conman part, that tips his hat to her for a well played con). Very creepy but I don't know that she's going to win, Peter may understand the twisty ways of cons but he's very direct, and I suspect the Kate of your story is about to have that directness aimed at her.

Frith: White Collar - Neal - knightfrith_in_thorns on September 1st, 2012 12:48 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! We got so frustratingly little about Kate's actual character during the show, but I definitely enjoyed writing her this way. And I could definitely see Neal loving her past all sense and self-preservation, while there is absolutely no way Peter's going to stand for that, as you say :)
(no subject) - cimmerdeux on September 1st, 2012 01:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
ladyrose42ladyrose42 on September 1st, 2012 12:07 am (UTC)
The Twilight Zone fan fic ... glad I read early in the evening.
Frith: White Collar - Neal - purple shirtfrith_in_thorns on September 1st, 2012 12:49 am (UTC)
Hee, thank you! :D
story_unfoldingstory_unfolding on September 1st, 2012 05:14 am (UTC)
Please don't be ambiguous! I beg of you! I loved this story and would really love to see a supernatural WC world. Peter would be battling to save Neal's life/soul and Kate is trying to destroy it. So much potential to create a unique and dark story. More please?!
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile shirtfrith_in_thorns on September 1st, 2012 12:31 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I think I am going to leave this one open-ended, at least for the foreseeable future! But thank you, very much, for your comment - I'm really happy you enjoyed this :)
saphirablue on September 1st, 2012 07:13 am (UTC)
WOW! This is so awesome!

That everything is from Neal's POV makes it creepy but not too creepy! ♥

Neal's longing and grieving for Kate comes across perfectly and it makes it perfectly clear why Neal is "letting" this happen.

Thank you very much for this fic! =)
Frith: White Collar - Neal - knightfrith_in_thorns on September 1st, 2012 12:33 pm (UTC)
Eee, thank you! :D And I'm really glad this made sense to you for Neal's character. It was a lot of fun to write :)