Characters/Pairing: Neal, Peter, Diana; Gen
Word count: 2000
Notes: For sholio's prompt of drugged!Peter over on whitecollarhc's Comfest.
This fic contains about my usual amount of context. Which is to say, not a lot.
Summary: Neal and Diana make a good team. Especially when it comes to unexpected situations, like looking after their boss.
- - -
Neal was trying very hard not to panic. Unfortunately, the universe didn't seem to want to give him any credit for the attempt.
"Peter, you still with me?" he asked.
Peter's head kept lolling forwards whenever he stopped concentrating on holding it up, and his face was waxily pale. "I'm fine," he ground out, and clung to Neal's arm with a tightness that verged on desperation as he scuffed along the hard floor.
That was the most blatant lie Neal had ever heard him tell, but he didn't point it out. Another point of karma he should by rights be racking up. Not that he was keeping score or anything.
"Diana should be here by now," he said, in the vague hope that re-stating the plan would make it magically leap back onto the rails it had deserted some time ago. Although Peter had somehow succeeded in slipping out of the part of the building owned by Price and onto more neutral ground, so there was that. Small mercies.
"Neal," Peter groaned, and his forehead fell heavily against Neal's shoulder when Neal gave in and stopped for a moment.
"You doing okay?" Neal asked, anxiously. He could feel Peter's shivers, and how rapid and shallow his breathing was.
It took a moment for Peter to summon up the energy to answer. "Yeah."
"You're a terrible liar, you know," Neal accused, and got a shaky flicker of a smile in response. "Seriously, where the hell is Diana?"
"Right behind you," Diana answered, and Peter groaned again as Neal half-spun around, stopping abruptly. "Is he okay?"
"I don't know," Neal said, gratefully giving her room to slip under Peter's other shoulder. "I mean, he keeps saying he is, but he clearly isn't."
Diana met Neal's eyes and gave him a reassuring smile. "There'll be an ambulance here by the time we get outside."
"Shouldn't we, I don't know, get Peter sitting down and wait for them here?" Neal asked, and then remembered how close they were to Price, who apparently thought that slipping guests roofies wasn't at all a breach of etiquette. "No, you're right."
"Peter can manage it," Diana said, confidently. "Can't you, Boss?"
"Mmm," Peter said, which sounded like he was in agreement, even though the fact that he wasn't verbalising it wasn't very reassuring.
Neal reminded himself that he wasn't panicking. At all. Although it was definitely easier not to now that Diana was here as well.
"You had to get as far away from the elevators as possible, didn't you," Neal grumbled as he and Diana finally reached the doors of one and manoeuvred Peter inside. He slumped against Neal again as soon as they were still, wavering increasingly unsteadily on his feet.
"Do you want to sit down?" Diana asked.
Peter shook his head grimly. "No, I — I'm good."
Neal was half-tempted to shake Peter until he dropped this stupid stubborn insistence on being fine even though he couldn't walk unaided and kept tilting off-balance. He met Diana's eyes and she must have seen his frustration because she shot him a reassuring look and shook her head slightly.
But when the doors slid open to reveal several agents standing around trying to look like they hadn't been waiting anxiously, Neal understood Peter's attitude. "He's fine," he said brusquely to an overly-young looking probie who showed signs of leaping in to help, and Diana nodded in agreement.
True to Diana's word, there was an ambulance waiting. Peter sat down gratefully on the tail-plate, and reluctantly let the paramedics move in to examine him.
"Caffrey, debrief," Diana ordered, and steered him away. "Peter doesn't like people hovering," she said, once out of earshot.
"I don't hover," Neal objected, trying to unobtrusively look behind him.
"You're hovering worse than a hummingbird." But she was also shooting glances at where Peter was having his vitals checked, and the moment it looked like he was done she was just as quick as Neal at darting back over.
Peter looked up and smiled in a resigned sort of way at them, leaning heavily against the side of the ambulance. "You don't need to worry," he said. "Really. They're letting me go."
Since the paramedic was re-packing his equipment and didn't seem worried, Neal decided to believe him. "Do you want me to drive you home?" he asked.
Peter roused. "You're not driving my car."
"Well, you certainly aren't driving it anywhere."
"I'll drive you both," Diana said, breaking up the argument. She looked between them. "Is Elizabeth around?"
"She's in Chicago," Peter said. "Back tomorrow."
Diana exchanged a glance with Neal. "Well," she said, "I guess that leaves you with us. Can you walk?"
Peter looked a little indignant. "Of course I can." But he when white again when he stood up, and clung tightly to Neal's arm.
"Peter?" Neal asked.
Neal looked at the paramedic instead, who nodded. "He's not in any danger — the drug should clear his system on its own in a few hours. He needs to rest, but I don't imagine he'll feel like doing much else for a while, anyway."
"You don't know him," Diana muttered darkly.
- - -
The car ride was mostly quiet. Neal sat in the back with Peter, who mostly kept his eyes closed. "Is he asleep?" Diana asked quietly, with a glance up into the mirror.
"No," Peter answered before Neal could. "Watching things go past… not such a good plan."
Neal gave him a cautious look. "Are you going to be sick?"
Peter groaned. "Don't make me think about it."
"Think about something else," Neal suggested.
"Hmm." Peter pinched the bridge of his nose. "Got a report this morning of Mozzie buying twelve gallons of blue paint."
Neal grimaced. "Uh, maybe we can change the topic again."
Peter chuckled and then gulped, swallowing hard as he clapped the back of his hand to his mouth.
"Pull over," Neal ordered sharply, and Diana jerked the car to a stop against the kerb. Peter opened the door and leaned out to throw up, clinging to the doorframe with a hand that was shaking slightly.
Neal unclipped his seatbelt and shuffled across. "Peter?"
"Ugh," Peter groaned. He started to pull himself slowly back into the car. Neal put an arm around his shoulders to help, and somehow ended up with Peter slumped against him, eyes closed. He reached across to shut the door.
"We okay to carry on?" Diana asked. Peter didn't respond, so Neal gave her a guess-so shrug.
Fortunately, they'd nearly arrived. Diana pulled up outside the front steps and came around to open Peter's door.
"Peter, come on," Neal urged, when Peter showed no signs of moving.
With reluctance Peter allowed himself to be nudged into movement, clinging to both Neal and Diana again and tilting alarmingly the moment he was upright.
Diana, though, seemed to be unaffected by alarm and took charge of steering them up the steps. Neal passed her Peter's keys and she got the door open. "Where are we going?" she asked.
"Couch?" Neal suggested, and Peter gave a small nod.
He all but collapsed onto it, eyes closed as he shifted to get as horizontal as possible. Neal bit his lip. Peter's face was grey, pain lines creasing around his eyes.
"How are you feeling?" Diana asked.
"Awful," Peter groaned. Belatedly, he cracked his eyes open. "You can stop hovering, though. I'm not about to die."
"Like you wouldn't hover over one of us," Neal retorted, and Peter smiled wryly. "Anyway, I think Diana wanted to know how you're feeling specifically. "
Peter thought about it, his face creasing further. "Really dizzy, and my head is killing me." He shifted again, uncomfortably. "Just, I don't know. Awful."
"Right," Diana said, briskly, and directed Neal to go find a blanket and something more comfortable for Peter to change into.
He returned with a t-shirt and pyjama pants. "Need any help?" he asked.
"No," Peter groused, and snatched them off him.
Diana and Neal retreated into the kitchen. Diana opened the fridge. "Do you know where they keep ginger ale?" she asked.
"Nope." Neal started a pot of coffee — he knew where to find that. "They might not keep any on hand."
They exchanged a look.
"Of course they do," Neal agreed, and tried a couple of cupboards until he came across a six-pack of cans. "Always be over-prepared."
Diana laughed, making a token effort to hide it behind her hand.
They were interrupted by a sound from the next room. "Peter?" Neal called out, already opening the door.
Peter had got himself changed, but was now sitting huddled on the floor by the couch, his head hunched against his knees. "Need some help," he said. "Sorry."
Neal crouched down behind him, alarmed. Peter's skin was clammy, and he looked even worse. "What happened?"
Peter looked up slightly, and then clenched his eyes shut again. "Lost my balance. Can't get up."
Neal was ready to spring into action, but Diana squeezed Peter's shoulder. "Wait a moment." She hurried off and returned with a plastic basin from the kitchen, which she put on the floor. "Okay. Let's get you up."
As Diana had apparently foreseen, lifting Peter back onto the couch was too much for him. He jerked convulsively, and Diana held the basin for him to vomit into. Neal shrank away and tried not to hear.
"Caffrey, do something helpful," Diana said. "Get a cold cloth or something, and the ginger ale."
Neal was grateful for the excuse to escape from the proximity of Peter throwing up. He grabbed the ginger ale from the kitchen, brought it through, and then jogged upstairs to find a couple of washcloths in the bathroom and run them under the tap.
Back downstairs, Peter was being helped to lie down again by Diana. "I'll wash this out," she said, indicating the basin. "Se if you can get him to drink something."
"I'm right here," Peter protested. He sounded utterly exhausted.
"I know," Diana said, and smiled at Peter even though he couldn't see her. "So you'll drink something, right?"
Peter huffed tiredly, and didn't object when Neal cautiously put a hand of the back of his head and helped him sit up enough to sip carefully from the can. He managed to get about half of it down, which Neal was inclined to count as a success.
"Here," Neal said, when Peter was flat again, and wiped Peter's face and neck with a damp cloth, finally folding the other one over his eyes.
"Thanks," Peter mumbled, his face still an unhealthy colour but less strained now, missing some of the tension. Neal put his hand on Peter's shoulder, rubbing gently with his thumb in a motion that felt awkward for the first few seconds, but quickly became natural. Peter sighed, relaxing some more as his head tilted against Neal's arm.
He looked up after a couple of minutes to find Diana standing in the doorway, holding two mugs of coffee and watching with a fond smile. She came forward as soon as she'd been spotted, handing one of the coffees to Neal. "He sleeping?" she asked, quietly.
"No," Peter mumbled.
"Almost," Neal qualified. "I think we're good to raid the house." Either Peter didn't at all believe him, or else he was too far gone with exhaustion to rise to the bait, because he didn't react.
"The bookshelves, anyway," Diana agreed.
Peter mumbled something.
"What was that?" Diana asked. "I didn't catch it."
"I think it was, You don't have to stay," Neal said. "Not sure who it was addressed to."
"Clearly not us," Diana said. "That would be ridiculous."
"It would, wouldn't it?" Neal agreed. "Anyway, El would kill us. I bag the armchair."
"Too slow," Diana said, dropping into it.
Neal made a face at her and went for a pad of paper, and then for a seat where he could see Peter every time he looked up. He wasn't planning on going anywhere.
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