Things don't go as planned: there's bad info from the CI, too many men and not enough time to think, and now there's an agent who will probably never walk again and the sick crack of the gunshot still ringing in their ears. Peter brings Neal back to his place without even asking if Neal wants to join him and Elizabeth for dinner because he knows by now what it means when there's that wrinkle between his eyebrows, when he doesn't fiddle with the navigation system in the car, even if Neal still pulls out his arsenal of smiles and smalltalk.
Elizabeth takes one look at the two of them when they come in through the door and orders more Chinese food than the three of them could possibly eat in a week before pouring them all what is the first of many rounds of drinks. They sit on the floor in the living room, takeout cartons spread around the coffee table, and El tells stories about crazy caterers and crazier clients, ice sculptures melting in August sun and bad string quartets. And with Elizabeth's tipsy giggles in the air, it is easy to forget everything else.
Peter watches as Neal laughs at some story that El has told a hundred times in all the years Peter has known her, but with the drink and the day, it's the only release he has. He laughs so hard he has to lean forward to rest his head on his folded arms, his shoulders silently shaking, the glasses rattling slightly against the tabletop, and Elizabeth laughs with him, her fingers curled around his arm, her forehead against his temple, her grin bright in the dim light of the room. Peter watches, the steady, warm burn of scotch in his stomach spreading through him, and the jolt that goes through him when El presses her lips to Neal's flushed cheek isn't the jealousy he expected, but sometimes things don't go as planned.
Neal shuts his eyes and stills when Elizabeth runs her fingers through his hair, and she smiles at him, that enchanted El smile that is making more and more appearances for Neal lately. With Peter's vision swimming just a bit from drink and long hours, they are a jumble of pale skin and dark hair and then a flash of blue eyes when Neal remembers himself, remembers whose wife is leaning just a little too close, and he glances back and forth between Peter and Elizabeth for a moment. Peter finds he can't meet his gaze.
"Peter." Elizabeth knows him, knows him too well, knows that right now his throat is dry as his mind spins with possibilities, his palms sweaty but his fingers cold, and his heart loud in his ears. She knows him too well and understands the second he finally manages to look her in the eye that he doesn't know how to handle this.
"Anyone want another drink?" he asks, pushing himself carefully to his feet.
"Yes, please," Elizabeth says with a crooked smirk. When he reaches down for her glass, she catches his hand and presses a kiss to his knuckles. Neal watches, face unnaturally open, confusion evident--Peter should be warning him off by now--but Peter only takes their empty glasses and makes his way to the kitchen.
Through the door, he can hear their hushed voices, and he tries not to think about what she might be telling him, tries not to think about her lips close to his ear, tries not to think about his breath catching in his throat. Peter shuts his eyes as he leans against the counter and takes a deep breath before finding another bottle of wine.
He balances Elizabeth and Neal's wine glasses in one hand and his whiskey in the other and carefully pushes the kitchen door open with his shoulder. He isn't surprised to find Neal with his long fingers in Elizabeth's hair, El's hand curled around his knee, everything so, so quiet except for the soft sound of their mouths against one another, but he's blindsided by the want that rushes through him. He crosses the room as quickly as he dares knowing that no matter what might happen tonight, he's still a dead man if he spills wine on the carpet.
They both startle at the clink of El's wine glass being set on the table, and they break apart. She brushes her hair out of her eyes, picks her glass up, and leans back against the couch with a wink up at Peter. She takes a sip, and she waits. The ball is in his court.
Neal, on the other hand, looks stricken. He stumbles to his feet, hands held out in front of him in apology, eyes wide. "Peter, this is-- it isn't--"
And seeing Neal flustered is enough to make Peter smile, enough to shove away most of his doubts about this if only because he doesn't often get the chance to pull the rug out from under Neal's feet.
"Here," Peter says. And then he takes a deep breath and says, "You look thirsty." He really doesn't know how to make it any clearer than that.
Neal takes the drink, automatic, but he's staring up at Peter with unmasked confusion. "I was kissing your wife. Why aren't you punching me in the face?"
"Oh, he wants to do something to your face all right, sweetie," Elizabeth says with a snort, and Peter really wants to scowl at her, but she's beaming up at the two of them from where she is still curled up on the floor, lips red with the wine, bare toes digging into the carpet.
And yet Neal has to try one more time, has to be sure, says, "I should call a cab." But Peter's curling a hand around Neal's neck and tugging him forward and kissing him before he's even finished, and if Neal's still surprised at this point, he doesn't show it. Peter has learned a lot about Neal Caffrey over the years, and in a matter of seconds he's adding a dozen things to that list, cataloging the way Neal leans into him, the warmth of Neal's hand on his chest, the taste of wine on his lips. He doesn't pull away until he feels Elizabeth slipping her fingers into his, and when he looks at her slightly terrified and out of breath and his thumb still stroking Neal's throat, she just grins and presses her mouth to his.
"Stay," he says to Neal, and Elizabeth squeezes Peter's hand as she slips an arm around Neal's waist, rests her head on his shoulder.
"This is a bad idea," Neal warns, even as he smiles into El's hair.
Peter nods. "Stay anyway."
Neal swallows, licks his lips, and says, "Okay."