Title: Love in an Elevator
Fandom: White Collar
Spoilers: Yes, for 1 x 02 "Threads" and 1 x 03 "Book of Hours"
Summary: Peter and Neal are on their first "date" when they get stuck in an elevator.
Peter Burke had recently come to the realization that when he was at home, almost all he ever talked about was his partner Neal. He thought that Elizabeth wouldn't want to hear about Neal all the time, but his wife never said anything. She appeared to enjoy hearing about Neal. Peter wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.
He did seem to think about Neal a lot of the time, even when Neal wasn't around. Not that there seemed to be much time when the man wasn't around. He seemed to be around more and more lately. Neal had a very nice place to live — a very nice place. Why he wanted to be at their house so much, Peter didn't know.
The problem that Peter had was that he was afraid he liked Neal a bit too much, and maybe in a way that wasn't appropriate for the kind of relationship they had. Hell, the way he liked Neal probably wasn't appropriate for a married man, either. Neal was just too goddamn attractive for his own good, or for Peter's own good, for that matter.
But Peter would never cheat on Elizabeth. He would never hurt her that way. He couldn't — could he? He wasn't entirely certain about that anymore, not since Neal had become his partner. He couldn't end their partnership without sending Neal straight back to prison, and he couldn't do that to the man he now considered to be his friend. However, the longer he worked with Neal, the more he was afraid he would give in to temptation.
He was almost certain Neal was interested. No matter how much Neal liked women, Peter hadn't failed to notice that he liked men, too. Sometimes he was certain that Neal was flirting with him. Sometimes he was certain that he was flirting right back.
At dinner one evening Peter was regaling his wife with yet another story of Neal's antics when he stopped and said, "But you probably get tired of hearing about Neal all the time."
El got a puzzled look on her face. "I like hearing about Neal. And you like to talk about him. Don't argue," she continued as he tried to interrupt. "You know you do."
Peter didn't know how to respond to that, so he said nothing.
Elizabeth laughed. "It's okay, you know."
"Er, what's okay?" Peter asked, confused.
"The way you feel about Neal. It's okay. I don't mind sharing you once in a while. Oh, maybe it would be different if it were another woman, but it's not. It's Neal. He's practically a member of the family."
"You make it sound almost incestuous," Peter was finally able to comment.
That got a slight scowl from his wife. "I didn't mean it like that. Anyway, I already talked to Neal about it. He understands the ground rules."
"Rules?" There were rules now? "When did you talk to Neal?"
"I talked to him while we were planning your party with the models. I could tell from the way both of you were looking at each other that something was up. Even if you weren't willing to admit it, Neal was, once I prodded him a bit."
What exactly had Neal admitted?
"He said he'd been flirting with you, trying to feel you out a bit, see if you were interested," Elizabeth continued. Yeah, she could read his mind, all right. "He got the feeling that you were interested, but he said he didn't want to try anything unless it was okay with me."
Peter's head was spinning. He was finally able to ask: "So what are these ground rules that you mentioned?"
"Well, first, don't hide anything from me. I don't want to hear all the gory details of whatever you and Neal do together, but at least let me know when you are together.
"Second, not in our bed. That bed is for you and me and no one else.
"Finally, practise safe sex when you're with him."
Peter didn't know what to think. His wife was giving him ground rules so that he could fuck another man. "Um.... Okay," he said. "That's it?"
"Yes, Peter, that's it. Why, did you think I was going to go postal over you and Neal? That's not my style. I can see how much he means to you, how much you mean to him. Just don't hurt him — okay?"
"Okay," Peter responded, not knowing what else to say.
That was that for a few weeks. Peter knew that he had his wife's permission to pursue Neal, but he couldn't bring himself to do anything about the situation. He couldn't do more than maybe smile at Neal and encourage Neal's flirting. That was all.
Then came the case of the missing Bible, which wasn't really a Bible, but a book of hours. No matter. They found the culprit, Neal confronted her, and she shot at him. That was enough to make Peter go ballistic. He couldn't let Neal get hurt. Neal was his responsibility, but Neal was also his friend. He cared about Neal, cared about what happened to him. He couldn't let Neal get hurt. "Man down!" he yelled as he ran to Neal. "Man down!"
Thankfully, Neal was unharmed. The bullet had hit the book and not Neal. But it took Peter a few minutes to regain his equilibrium, though he tried not to let Neal or the other FBI agents see that. He hadn't admitted to himself before this how much Neal actually meant to him. It surprised him a bit. He tried to avoid actually hovering over Neal for the rest of the day.
The next day, before leaving for work, he told Elizabeth, "I think Neal and I are going to take an extra-long lunch today." He had already told her about Neal's almost getting shot and the effect that had had on him. She understood, thank God. "Have fun," was her only comment.
Peter could hardly wait for lunch. He found himself checking the clock compulsively. Neal noticed it too, but he didn't comment on it, though he seemed to find it amusing. A few times he asked Peter what was up, but Peter refrained from spoiling the surprise he had in store for his partner.
When the clock finally struck 12 noon, Peter turned to Neal. "Come on," he said. "I'm buying you lunch at the Fairmont." It wasn't unusual for Peter to buy lunch; he did it pretty much every day, since Neal didn't have a lot of money to spare. But buying lunch at the Fairmont Hotel was perhaps a bit unusual. They usually picked up food at the corner deli and ate in the office.
"What's the occasion?" Neal asked.
"Do I need an occasion?" Peter asked in response, trying Neal's tactic of deflection.
"It's your money," Neal answered with a shrug.
Neal was obviously a bit surprised when Peter led him past the dining room and directly to the elevators. "Er, Peter, the dining room is that way," Neal pointed out.
"I know where the dining room is," was Peter's response. "We'll order room service."
The broad grin that appeared on Neal's face told Peter that his partner had a pretty good idea what was waiting for him.
Peter, on the other hand, wasn't sure exactly what was waiting for him in that hotel room. He didn't have a lot of experience with men or with women. Elizabeth had been his only lover for more than ten years. He'd never had a male lover. He figured the mechanics were pretty straightforward, but he was afraid that nothing Neal did was ever straightforward.
He stared at the elevator doors and tried to avoid looking at Neal.
"Are you nervous, Peter?" Neal asked in a mischievous tone.
"No, I am not nervous!" Peter all but shouted. He noticed that Neal was wearing that hat, the one that had belonged to June's late husband. At first he had wondered why Neal insisted on wearing it, until he noticed the looks Neal garnered from both men and women when he did. Peter had had to admit that the hat had the same effect on him. He also had to admit that he was jealous of the looks and the invitations Neal received when wearing the hat.
Peter realized that the elevator wasn't moving. Why wasn't the elevator moving?
As if reading his thoughts, Neal said, "We're stuck."
Peter could hardly believe that a stuck elevator was going to ruin his first date with Neal. He pushed the alarm button, but nothing happened. He tried the emergency phone in the elevator and realized that it was also broken. He pulled out his cell phone, but he realized he had no idea who to call.
"Try the front desk," Neal suggested helpfully.
The hotel's front desk was amazingly unhelpful, in Peter's opinion. They made vague promises about calling a technician, but warned it could be a long wait — "Several hours, probably." So he called Elizabeth and told her that he probably wouldn't be home for supper.
"Are you working late, or do you mean you're going to be with Neal?" El asked.
"Neither, actually," Peter replied. "Neal and I are stuck in an elevator at the Fairmont."
"Before or after that long lunch you told me about?"
"Oh, dear. I'm sorry to hear that. I know you were looking forward to your lunch."
After finishing the conversation with his wife, Peter sat on the floor of the elevator and prepared to settle in for a long wait. He noticed that Neal was now the one acting nervous."What's wrong?" he asked.
"I'm not a big fan of enclosed spaces," Neal answered.
"You were in prison for four years," Peter pointed out.
"That why I'm not a big fan of enclosed spaces." He paced around the elevator for a while. Then he said, "I'm hungry. Any chance we can get a pizza delivered here while we wait?"
Peter just looked at him.
"I thought not," Neal sighed.
After watching his partner pace for another hour or so, Peter said, "Neal, sit down already."
Neal sat on the other side of the elevator.
"Over here, with me."
Neal scooted over. Peter slung an arm around his shoulders, and Neal leaned against him. "That's better," Peter said in satisfaction.
"So what were you planning to do with me in this hotel, Peter?"
"I was planning to rip your clothes off."
His face lighting up, Neal asked, "Really? Seriously?"
"What did you think we were going to do — order room service, like I said?"
"I did assume we were going to do more than order room service, yes. Somehow I just never took you for the 'ripping clothes off' type, though."
"You'd be surprised," Peter responded.
"I would love to be surprised. But it doesn't look like that's going to happen today."
In response to those words, Peter turned Neal's face toward him and kissed him hard, a kiss which Neal enthusiastically returned. They pushed each other's coats off, then their jackets; they loosened each other's ties, continuing to kiss and touch each other for a long time.
Peter had just begun unbuttoning Neal's shirt when Neal pulled away. "I hate to stop you now, but have you noticed that this elevator has a camera?"
"Shit," Peter said. "Shit, shit, shit. How did I not see that?"
"I think we were both a bit preoccupied," Neal said. "It's not like we were getting naked, but the way we were going.... I thought we should stop before we got that far. I didn't want to put on a show for hotel security." He saw the very worried look on his partner's face. "What's the matter?"
"In case you've forgotten, I'm an FBI agent, and you're.... You're my responsibility."
"And it doesn't look good for FBI agents to make out in elevators with their responsibilities."
"No, it does not. If that video recording made its way to my superiors...."
"Well, in case you've forgotten, I have dealt with many security cameras in my illustrious career. You might want to look the other way, though, so that you don't see me, er, fixing this one." He grabbed a case of tools from inside his coat.
"You mean breaking it."
"If you prefer to put it like that," Neal said as he stood on his tiptoes and worked on the camera.
"How are we going to explain to the hotel management what happened to the camera?" Peter asked.
"We'll tell them it malfunctioned when the elevator broke down."
"Won't security have seen us on the monitors already?"
"Doubtful. From what I know of hotel security, they don't pay a lot of attention to the elevators unless something actually happens, and that's when they wind back the recordings and look at them. Not very many hotels have enough security officers to watch every camera all the time. There, fixed it." Neal grinned at his partner. "Now can we get naked?"
Peter groaned. "Much as I would like to, I think we'd better not. We have no idea when we're going to be rescued, and we don't want the elevator techs to catch us in flagrante."
"You know Latin, Peter?"
"Very little." He sat down again. "Now get your ass, and the rest of you, back over here."
Neal was happy to oblige, and he and Peter spent another hour doing everything short of actually getting naked, though a few buttons did get unfastened.
Finally, several hours after they'd first entered the elevator, they heard voices. "Hello in there! Are you two all right?"
"We're fine!" Peter yelled back. "Can you get us out of here?"
"We're working on it!" came the reply, and a few minutes later — enough time for Neal and Peter to straighten out their clothing — the elevator creaked and groaned its way back to life, heading back down to the lobby, where they quickly made a much-needed trip to the men's room. When they came out, they were met by representatives of the hotel's management.
"We are so very, very sorry for your inconvenience," one of the managers said.
"It was a hell of a lot more than an inconvenience," Peter grumbled. He was very angry that his planned nooner with Neal had been ruined by a malfunctioning elevator.
Though the reservation had been in Peter's name, it was Neal who negotiated their compensation for the "inconvenience." Peter let him; charming people into giving things away was kind of Neal's forte. They ended up with a month's worth of free dinners and an equal number of overnight stays. They didn't even have to be consecutive.
Peter made another call to Elizabeth and told her he was staying the night at the hotel. When he ended the call, he saw Neal looking at him. "Dinner first," he said.
"Then can we rip each other's clothes off?" Neal asked.
"You'd better believe it. One thing, though."
"Would you leave your hat on?"