After Lane’s suicide and taking over everything he’d been in charge of, Joan (and the rest of the partners) started to realize exactly the kind of mess they were in. Where at first Don thought they could keep everything under wraps, Lane owed money to more than one person, and the FBI, unfortunately for everyone, had to be called in. But Joan, very willing to be cooperative if only to keep stories of resistance out of the papers, went to the FBI building every day for nearly two weeks, sorting things, trying to make sense of the mess. Where she’d once felt sorry for Lane and even regretted not giving him what he wanted, now she’s just pissed off at him.
When the two weeks was up, she’d been surprised to find a note on the temporary desk she’d been working at with a phone number. When she’d called, it was to a Neal Cafferty - consultant to the FBI. She’s noticed him; he’s very Sinatra, very handsome. And so she’d called. One date led to another, then another, until three months later she finds herself spending most of her free time with him. He’s good with Kevin and doesn’t mind that she’s divorced - rare, it feels like these days.
Cleaning her apartment a bit to get ready for a nice dinner with him, Joan is wearing a scarf around her head, an old shirt, and pants. She’s not ready to see Neal by any means, but she’s lost track of the time with Kevin sleeping so peacefully. And so, a knock at the door startles her. Paperwork is still all over her coffee table, things for the agency, permits for the new space above them, clients to call. “Just a minute!” she calls, though she has no idea how to fix herself, and the table in a timely manner.
Leaning against the doorjamb, Neal adjusts his tie and takes off his hat, running a hand through his hair as he waits. "Joan," he finally calls, "it's Neal."
“I know! Things are a mess, I lost track of time!” She shake her head at herself, at least trying to get the coffee table cleaned up.
"Joan, it doesn't matter," he laughs. "I mean, it isn't as if I haven't seen your place … right?"
She sighs, then gives up and answers the door, looking like a mess. She leans against the door and looks at him. “Sorry,” she smiles, glasses on as well.
"For what?" he asks, holding up a bottle of wine. "You look great. Can I come in?"
“I don’t know,” she says innocently, looking up at him. “Can you?” It’s said low, meant more to entice than to be a grammar lesson.
Humming, Neal slips inside and pulls the door shut. His hat gets tossed on a side table and the wine gets set down so that he can put his arms around her waist. "You look sexy in your glasses."
“Oh, stop it,” she says, rolling her eyes with a little smile. “But thank you. Kevin was a pill all day, he just went down a little bit ago. I haven’t even started dinner yet.” She leans in to kiss him, closing her eyes as she does.
"Then we order in," he tells her, mouth to hers between kisses, arms tightening around her. "I can call, we can get Chinese or something."
“Are you sure?” she asks, arm winding around his neck. “I can make something easy...”
"I imagine you make a lot of things easy," he teases. "Food is easy when we just pick up the phone and call. Then, that leaves time for … other things …. "
Joan has the decency to blush just a little, but she steps back. “Alright. You order. I like noodles. Not spicy though,” she warns before going to the bedroom to check on Kevin, then going to the couch. Sitting, she picks up some papers on the table again, then puts them back into a folder before removing her glasses.
"Thirty minutes," he tells her when the call ends, cradling the phone and sitting on the other end of the couch. "Is that … " He doesn't need to fill in the rest. Work.
“Mhmm. We’re expanding to the next floor. I’m in charge of building negotiations,” she says with a sigh that clearly means - ‘lucky me.’ “After everything the past few months, I’m tired of looking at papers and numbers.”
"Then … put it away."
Neal makes fast work of pushing the papers into a folder in a disorganized mess that will probably drive Joan mad later and he pushes it away. "It's Friday. We have Chinese coming. Right now, Kevin's asleep and I … " he says with a grin. "Have plans for us."
Joan opens her mouth to protest, but that grin drives it right off of her face and she looks at him with an amused smile, one eyebrow arched. “You have plans? Do I get to know them?”
"Maybe … " he teases. He gets up and gets a bottle opener from her kitchen and opens the wine. It gets poured and he brings her a glass as he sits again. "Have you - and Kevin - been to the top of the Empire State building yet?"
“I’m not going that high,” she says, giving him a look. She’s never even considered the idea of flying. There’s something about being up so high that makes her heart beat a little faster, and not in a good way. “Is your plan to get me to go to the top of that building?”
"Joan," Neal says, giving her a look. "You love New York, right?"
“Of course I do,” she says, returning the look again.
"So you have to see it from the 86th floor. You have to. What," Neal said with that grin he does all big blue eyes and dimples. "You don't think I'd keep you safe?"
Joan moves closer to him, legs tucked under her body as she lets her fingers move to his arm, trailing down to his wrist gently. “You promise you won’t let me fall?”
"I would never let you fall. Ever. I promise." He catches her wrist, pulling it to him to kiss. "I know the night watchman. He'll let us up. Can you find a sitter for Kevin?"
“One of the girls at the office offered to watch him any time,” she says, breath hitching just a little. “Should I hire her for the night?” Joan asks, watching him intently.
He smiles against her skin.
And when Karen (any name?) arrives, Neal all but pulls Joan out of the apartment and into a cab. They get through theatre traffic and then when they reach the Empire State building, he talks to the security guard, body angled so that Joan can't see what's going on. But then the door is pushed open and Neal grins. "Ready?"
The only thing she had time to do was change into a skirt before Neal was getting her out and into a cab. And once they get to the building, she looks around nervously, partly hoping that they wouldn’t be allowed up. But then the door is opening and she smiles at him. “As I’ll ever be,” she replies before going with him, holding onto his arm.
In the elevator, he puts his arm around her. That gets them to the 72nd floor, then it's another elevator up to the 86th. And as the doors open, Neal smiles at her. "Do you trust me?"
Her hand has moved to his now, and even though she’s smiling, it’s undeniable that she’s nervous. But she nods. “Of course I trust you.”
Peter Burke, Neal's case officer, the only one to catch Neal twice, would tell Joan that that's a bad idea. If he knew they were dating, which Neal has made a point not to tell him. Neal simply smiles at her and leads her out of the elevator and onto the observation deck of the Empire State building, his arm tight around her waist. "How can you not love New York when you see it like this?"
“Oh, Neal,” she breathes out, forgetting about her fear as she looks over the city. “This is incredible...” Joan finally looks back at him, the wind catching her hair before she looks back out. “It seems so different from up here.”
"Quieter, certainly." With a careful step, he guides her closer to the edge. At night, the buildings are lit and the car horns quieter and he can watch her reactions with a smile.
“It’s beautiful,” she finally admits as she leans against him, her head on his shoulder. “Here I thought I was afraid of heights,” she teases.
"Don't be. You shouldn't be afraid of anything," he tells her. And even though it's cold that high, the wind whipping around them, he kisses her. Because one should be kissed on the top of the Empire State building.
Without a second thought, Joan wraps her arms around Neal, kissing him back very gladly. “Thank you for bringing me here,” she says when she finally breaks the kiss, nose grazing against his cheek gently.
"Let me show you more of New York. My New York," he whispered in her ear, holding her tight to his chest.
She nods her agreement, shivering a little against his chest as she turns to look at the view again, this time wrapped up in his arms. This was, actually, perfect.
There are places Neal can't take Joan: some museums, for instance. But there are nightclubs where he still knows the maitre 'd and can get them a table, especially on a Friday night: good clubs, nice places. Places that Peter doesn't know about. And when they call it a night, they go back to his apartment in June's building, his studio apartment that looks out over New York in its own way too.
He has to hide a few paintings and cover up a few documents, but he goes for a good bottle of wine and Joan's coat. "Make yourself at home."
Joan looks around, at his books and records before she calls out. “Can I turn on your record player?”
"Of course." He comes back with two glasses of wine.
Putting down a record (Marvin Gaye), Joan turns to face him and takes a glass of wine from him. “Now. What is it about this place that means I haven’t been here before?"
"You have a son, who requires a bunch of … child stuff. I haven't exactly made my apartment able to withstand a baby. And... " he tells her, giving her a glass, "you never asked."
“Alright, I can’t argue with that,” she says with a little smile. She takes a sip of the wine and brings an arm around his shoulders. “So now I’m here. And we’re alone. No baby to interrupt us. Just good wine and music.”
"This is true. And the night is still young." Another sip of wine for the both of them then the glasses are set aside. Neal sways her in a small circle in the middle of the room. "And I am with a beautiful woman."
Joan smiles and nuzzles against his neck affectionately, both of her arms raising up to wrap around his neck as her fingers brush down against his cheeks and neck. “I’ve wanted to spend a baby free night with you since....well, since we met,” she says with a little smile. Sometimes she has no idea how he can be so patient.
"And here we are. I thought it was going to come down to a fistfight with that Kevin, but … " He laughs. "I have the girl. For the moment anyway."
Another kiss, then, one that means to tell her that there will be others.
There’s a quiet laugh before it’s swallowed up by his kiss, and she hums against his mouth, letting her body press closer to his. “I think that I like it when you make plans for us,” she says with a small smile, lips against his neck.
"I have more plans," he tells her between kisses along her jaw. "Though I should probably run them by you before they're implemented."
One hand moves through his hair as she closes her eyes and tilts her head for him, to give him better access. “Tell me.”
He does, whispering in her ear, even as his hands slide up her sides, stopping just over her ribs. How he wants to undress her and take his time. All night.
Joan tries to remember a time when she anticipated something the way she wants this, but she’s coming up short. At his last whispered words, there’s a low whimper from her, and she catches his mouth again in a torrid kiss now, both hands on either side of his face.
Even as they kiss, he moves her toward his bed in the corner, but he stops her a foot or so away. That lets him move around her to stand behind her and take the pins from her hair. He tucks it to one side as he kisses her neck just on his way back around to start unbuttoning her blouse.
With the attention he pays to her, Joan can feel herself sinking back against him as he pulls her hair down. Then, when he’s in front of her again, she stands still for him, then reaches to do the same for him, slowly tugging his tie loose, her slow fingers belying how much she wants him. But it’s there in her eyes, and she never takes hers off of him.
With a smile, he pulls his tie free and tosses it over a nearby chair. His gaze on her, he unbuttons his shirt, revealing a clean undershirt. His shirt is tossed over the chair, then, too, and is soon joined by his undershirt before he steps close again. "You are … beautiful."
She’s been called beautiful by many different men. But this is the first time she’s ever really, truly believed it. She knows she’s pretty, it’s just different that Neal thinks that she’s beautiful. Without saying anything in return, she leans forward and presses her lips against his shoulder, then trails down his chest and across to the other side.
It gives him a chance to card fingers through her hair, but he kisses her, then, concentrating on her lower lip even as he's urging her blouse off her shoulders so it can join his clothes on the chair.
She could let him kiss her like this forever, though her hands move down his chest, exploring skin even as she shrugs out of her blouse, leaving her in her bra and skirt. And this is...different. Different from the way Roger always rushed, and different from Greg thinking that he was taking what was his. She almost isn’t sure what to expect, hesitating when her hands move to the button of his slacks.
"Wait," he whispers. "We have all night." He's smiling against her mouth and Neal steps close, his hands sliding around her. Deft fingers undo her bra and he's still kissing her, still, wanting too, as he slides it away.
Joan reaches for his hand then, taking it in hers and kissing his palm, trying to find the words for what she wants to say. “This is new,” she starts, hoping she won’t need to go on from there.
Leaning back, Neal cocks his head to look at her. She can tell he wants to say something, but in the end, he doesn't.
Instead, he walks her two steps back to sit, then lie back on his bed. He can lean over her then, pressing his mouth to her stomach and up.
Closing her eyes again, and vulnerable in a way she’s not sure she has been before, Joan reaches down, fingers threading through his hair slowly. She exhales slowly, relaxing against his pillows.
"Remarkable," he whispers against her skin. "I need to paint you like this." When he gets to her breasts, he lingers there, full in his hands, nuzzling them with his face before he even gets to her nipples, teasing and tasting.
His mouth on her breasts alone makes her breath hitch, stomach tightening in pleasure as she arches just enough against him. Her hair is spread around her head on his pillow, one hand moving down across his shoulders. Then, his words resonate, and she responds, though it’s delayed. “Paint me?”
"Mmhmm," he murmurs, glancing up with a smile before going back to totally relishing her body. "God, Joan." The words are heavy with desire. "This … you …. "
For a minute, she simply closes her eyes, taking just a moment to keep her composure. “You make me feel like I’m something, Neal,” she says quietly, opening her eyes again.
"Because you are." Neal wouldn't risk like he is, if she wasn't.
After that, the rest of their clothes come off in time, easily. And when Neal finally - finally - pushes inside her, he groans, looking down at her, pleasure and desire creasing his face.
She feels like she’s letting herself go, in a completely good and in a way she’s wanted but never...could. Not like this. When he moves against her, she moans his name low, making herself open her eyes to look at him. But what she sees in his eyes makes her lose her breath and her own close again, back arching as she meets him thrust for thrust.
The only light in the room is what comes in from the surrounding buildings. Neal rocks his hips, gasping against her neck. She's soft and firm and warm and it's a challenge after awhile to keep his thrusts steady.
“Neal...” His name comes out part whimper, part groan, and when the pleasure is too much and she falls over the edge, she cries out his name louder, pressing her face into his neck as her body surges up against him.
The clench around him makes Neal gasp and he rears back onto his hands, hips snapping into hers, his head back, going still as he comes, too. Then, he leans into her again, breathless pushing through the aftershocks, his mouth against hers.
Joan’s heart is slamming in her chest, and she kisses him, even as she pants against his mouth. She doesn’t have the words to say, and isn’t even sure she could get them out if she did.
The quiet after gives Neal a moment to slip out of her, lying half-over her, half on his stomach before he lifts his head to smile at her. "... wow."
Joan can’t help it, she lets out a laugh. “That was...Neal Cafferty, you’ve been holding out on me.”
"I have been respecting you," he laughs. "And I won't do that anymore," he adds, leaning up to kiss her again. "Because we are doing that again."
There’s a wide grin, and she pulls him into a proper kiss now that she can breathe again. “And again. And again. I hope.”
"Oh, yes. God, yes." Neal is laughing as he pulls her over him.
And when the sun comes up, they are both naked in bed, the covers pulled up. Under, Neal's asleep on his side, an arm thrown over Joan's hips.
When Joan wakes up, she already knows she’ll be going back to sleep again. She’s still exhausted. But nature calls, and she gets up carefully but groggily. The problem with groggy, is that she doesn’t know her way around his apartment and she stumbles over something. Accidentally knocking a painting off of the wall, she cringes at the noise, then looks to see if there’s any damage.
Which is when she sees the hole in the wall and what looks like a pile of documents in it, and she stares at it dumbly for a minute.
Neal is a light sleeper and comes awake at the sound, jerking up quickly.
He takes in the scene slowly, eyes moving around the room before he says, "... Joan?"
Joan looks up at him, at the hole, then back at him. “I ran into the wall.” There’s already a small bruise forming on her shoulder that proves her story, as ridiculous as it sounds.
"Are you all right?" He gets up, coming over to her unself-consciously, thumb brushing over that mark. "... what were you doing?" Asked lightly, eyes on her shoulder, not on her face.
“Trying to find your bathroom,” she says. “Still half asleep.” Joan looks at the hole again and the papers inside. “What is that?”
"It's … some people have safe deposit boxes," he says trying for the joke. "I like to keep things closer. It's nothing important." Except for forged documents of all kinds. "Bathroom's that way." Toward the hall kitty-corner.
She has no reason not to trust him. She ignores the voice in the back of her head, leaning in to kiss his cheek. “I’ll pay for a new frame,” she offers, then turns, still completely naked, to go use his bathroom. When she’s done, she reaches for a shirt hanging on the door, slipping it on but not buttoning it, the garment falling to mid thigh. Then, she comes out, making her way back to the bedroom.
The painting has been put back, the documents moved to another hiding place in the apartment by the time she gets back. Neal smiles at her. "I can make breakfast."
“In a minute,” she says, even as she climbs back over him, lazy this time, though her intent is clear. And this time she takes her time, the way he did last night. She kisses across his neck, anywhere she wants to, really, before she finally lowers herself onto him. And when they both come, she moves so that she’s draped across his chest - still wearing that shirt.
She's gorgeous like this, skin rosy. And on his back, Neal can touch, palming over her breasts, catching the nipples and teasing them, even as he chases her mouth for kisses.
“Now,” she breathes out once she’s caught her breath. “I’m ready for breakfast,” she grins.
"Are you,' he chuckles. "Give me a minute. I'm not sure I can feel my legs."
Her lips find his neck, trailing across his morning stubble and nuzzling. “I wish I could stay all day,” she sighs.
"Can you call Karen?" Neal asks. "See if she can stay, at least until after lunch?" His fingers are trailing up and down her back under his shirt.
“I can,” Joan says with a pleased smile. “Just point me in the direction of your phone. The wall free path, preferably,” she jokes.
He laughs even as he points to the phone on its stand by the door. Then, he pulls on a pair of pants and goes to the kitchen to start breakfast: omelets with toast and bacon along with orange juice.
Even as Joan talks to Karen, the woman is cooing over Kevin, and it’s her idea - not Joan’s to let her keep him until Sunday afternoon. Hanging up, she goes to the kitchen and kisses Neal’s shoulder, arms going around his waist.
“I hope you don’t get tired of me any time soon.”
"Get tired of you?" He grins at her over his shoulder. "I am beginning to think that's impossible. Are you mine for a while?"
“Until Sunday afternoon,” she says happily. Then, she steps back and buttons the shirt, panties on now underneath.
"Until … Oh my." Neal tends the omelet then turns, spatula still in hand. "What ever will we do with ourselves?"
“I’m open to suggestions,” she says, lifting her head to kiss him again, slow but deep.
The omelet was a little rubbery when they finally ate it.
But mid-afternoon, Neal has Joan on his bed, sheets artfully draped around her naked body and he's got his easel set up; he paints her quickly and efficiently, peering around the easel every few moments with a smile.
She was nervous about this to begin with, but as she lies there, letting him paint, she finds herself watching him. “Have you painted a lot of women like this?” she asks with just a small smile.
"Actually no." He leans over to grin at her again. "You're the first." Most of the other paintings he's done have been forgeries, done for a certain job. "And I'm spoiled now, because you're the most beautiful."
“Oh am I?” she asks with an almost shy smile. She likes him - more than likes him. “I’m honored to be your first,” she smirks.
"I'm honored that you are my first." Another smile and Neal concentrates on getting her hair right.
Of course, there's a break in the middle there, where he crawls into bed with her, burying his face between her legs, but there's a painting drying when it's time for supper. They still aren't dressed any more than they have been and he asks, grinning, what she'd like to do.
This is easily the best sex she’s ever had. By a landslide, even. She knows this isn’t a casual, one weekend only event. She hopes he knows it, too. And when he asks her what she wants to do, she grins at him. “Well. I seem to remember you having that idea last night about Chinese food. This time we could eat it in bed.”
"I like the way you think," he tells her and it takes a while for the food to get called in; he even answers the door with only a pair of pants on. The chopsticks let him feed her bits at a time. Noodles of course, nothing too spicy.
Sometime in the middle of the night, not sleeping, Joan’s fingers are tracing figure eight’s on Neal’s chest. “We’re good together,” she says quietly.
"We make a good team," he tells her, curling and uncurling a lock of her hair.
“Is this....what is this?” she can’t help but ask.
"This? This - us - this?" He raises his head to look at her. There's a moment of guardedness in the backs of his eyes.
“I like this. Very much. And I want you. Not something in passing. Not something every now and then. You.”
A moment passes and Neal says, quietly, "there's a lot you don't know about me, Joan."
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me, Neal.”
Rolling to his side, Neal looks at her. "Peter is going to take you aside one day and he is going to tell you things about me. The … the stuff you found in the wall, other things you know nothing about."
“So you tell me,” she says, voice low. “Tell me so that Peter doesn’t have anything left.”
There's another long moment where he looks at her. She can't give him immunity, can't make any promises and he wouldn't want her to. But this will change things and so he hesitates.
Finally, still naked, he gets up and goes to another hiding place and he pulls out a book: an album of news clippings, and he hands it to her: Neal Caffrey international art forger, burglar, thief, caught once, then again, then working for the FBI as part of his sentence helping Peter Burke to bring other criminals to justice.
Joan flips through it silently, forehead creasing as she does. But she doesn’t move, doesn’t make to get up. Just reads, fingers lightly trailing down the pages as she turns them. When she gets to the end, she looks up at him. She has no idea what she’s supposed to say. He’s never treated her badly. Never treated her son badly. He’s never hurt her. But this is lies. By omission, true. But still lies.
“I don’t know what to say,” she says honestly.
And there it is.
Neal sighs, running a hand through his hair and he sits next to her. "I've done some bad things. But I'm helping Peter now. I … we've got a 94% solve rate. My sentence is up in another eight months. I've changed."
“Then why would he want to warn me?” she asks, looking at him.
"Because in Peter's mind, a criminal is always a criminal. Because you," Neal tells her, "are a good woman and you deserve a good man."
“What makes a good man?” she says with another frown. “How...” She looks at him again. “There is more to a man than his deeds and what his past is.” She can’t help thinking of Greg. War hero. What people think makes him a good man. Knowing what he really is.
"There is," Neal agrees. He's still watching her carefully. "It probably doesn't mean much, but I … I wouldn't have invited you over if I didn't think this was something either, Joan."
Joan reaches out and touches his cheek. “Do you want me to go? You expect me to.”
"I don't." He takes her hand between his. "If you haven't already run, I would really like you to stay."
“What are you doing when your eight months are up?” she asks, voice quiet.
"I am a free man," he tells her with no little amount of wonder in his voice. "And … I hope that I still get to work with Peter. He and I make a good team. And I love New York and I … there are a lot of things in New York I want to continue."
Joan just looks at him searching his face. “You...” she lets out a breath. “You won’t disappear? Go anywhere in the middle of the night?”
And isn't that a loaded question. It's Peter's biggest fear too. Push Neal and he runs. "I have no plans to," he finally says.
“I can’t do this if you...I can’t...” She has no idea what she’s trying to say. “If you do decide to go, a head’s up will be nice.”
There's an attempt at a joke, even if it's muted; Neal leans into whisper. "If I do, I'll take you and Kevin with me."
Joan lets out a breath and leans into him, then moves the book off of her lap, handing it to him to put away. “I’m holding you to that.”
He looks at her for a long moment, then smiles, in some ways brighter than he has before. He holds the book and kisses her, his free hand cradling her head.
She’s not sure about this, his past, but she is sure about him. And how she feels about him. Kissing him back, she moves closer until they’re lying back, and she tangles herself up with him, just taking her time to kiss and touch. She’s not going anywhere either.
They sleep late again that night and he fixes her a big brunch before she has to go. As luck would have it, Peter is coming to Neal's door when Neal is pulling it open to walk Joan to a cab.
"Oh," he says. "Am I interrupting anything?"
"Peter," Neal says, with a touch of warning. "Not interrupting, no."
"Good." Peter turns an appraising smile to Joan. "Mrs. Harris."
“Holloway,” she corrects him. “My divorce was official shortly after my stay in your fine FBI offices,” she says with a polite smile.
"My apologies." Another smile, though it's clear Peter's not going anywhere.
Neal sighs. "Let me walk you to a cab."
Joan looks at Peter for a second longer, then goes with Neal, standing close to him. “In two weeks, my mother is taking Kevin to visit her sister. I can’t go with work. But that gives us a week,” she says with a small smile, private and between them, even as she’s very aware of Peter.
"Really." Neal smiles again. "I will look forward to that." He gives Peter a grin and says, "make yourself at home, Peter. I'll be right back." He offers Joan his arm and walks her to the street, hailing a cab. The car pulls up quickly and he turns to her, eyes moving over her face. "I have had a … fantastic weekend."
Kissing him softly, she runs her fingers down and across his neck. “I still think, no matter what Peter thinks, that you are a good man, Neal Caffrey.”
His eyes warm and he looks smiles. "That means a lot, Joan Holloway." A kiss and he says, "can I take you and Kevin to dinner this week?"
“Well, I can’t speak for Kevin, but I’ll look forward to it,” she smiles. Then, she’s into a cab and gone.
There's a routine that's established, dinner a few times a week, a night spent together on a weekend. That Joan has at least a sense of what Neal is is something of a relief. Neal relaxes a little, even when he has to cancel one night when an undercover assignment doesn't quite go as planned.
Rather than call and risk the phone waking up the baby, Neal leans against Joan's door again, his head down. His tie is gone and he's got a scraped cheek, but they made the arrest.
Joan’s in pajamas, and when she hears a quiet knock, she gets out of bed to open the door. Frowning at his face, she pulls him inside. “God, what the hell happened to you?” she asks as she reaches out to touch his cheek gently. “Come on, I can clean you up,” Joan frets, setting him on the couch.
"He took offense to being arrested," Neal notes. Which is an understatement, but it probably doesn't do much good to go into more detail; he doesn't want to worry her. "I like that look on you, by the way."
“What look?” she says distractedly as she puts on her glasses and then gently starts with a cool wet cloth on his face, sitting across from him once she returns from the kitchen.
"You in men's pajamas," he tells her. "It's sexy."
She blushes just a little at that. But she continues what she’s doing. “Did you say you were quitting this in a few months?” she asks, knowing full well that he didn’t.
"Joan." But he smiles. "Then I wouldn't have an excuse to come over and have you play nurse with me."
She kisses him softly, then sighs a little. “Well, alright then. And you’ll live this time.”
"That's a relief." He reaches for the buttons on her pajamas, pulling them open one by one.
“Oh, I don’t think I prescribed this,” she smirks, though she doesn’t stop him.
"But nurse," he chuckles. "I think I have a fever." Even as he's pushing the top off of her shoulders, he's leaning in to kiss her neck.
She can’t help but laugh, her fingers threading through the hair at the back of his neck. “I’ll make it all better for you then. You just tell me what you need.”
"You," he whispers right into her ear. "God, Joan." By leaning forward, he can urge her onto her back on the sofa and revel in her breasts. Her amazing breasts.
No matter how many times they do this, the fact that he wants her, all of her and doesn’t expect anything in return is such a marvel sometimes. “Neal,” she says quietly, not asking him to stop, just arching into him as she tries to decide on telling him how she feels. “I want to be able to do this any time.”
He leans up, looking at her with a classically baffled expression. "You … " His face takes on something between fear and fascination. "Are you asking me to marry you?"
“What?! No! I’m asking you to move in!” she sputters. Then, she dissolves into laughter. Or at the very least, for them to find someplace together, but she can’t even get that out at the moment.
"I was wondering! I didn't want to assume you were that kind of woman, Joan. So I thought you were the kind of woman who would, after all, take matters into her own hands," Neal says, laughing too. "You want to co-habitate? What would your mother say?"
“Oh, I don’t care about what she has to say. I know what I want. And that’s you,” she says as she pulls him into another kiss.
When there are clothes strewn on the floor below the sofa, a throw pulled over them, they talk about logistics. Neal will keep the room at Joan's and keep things there. For her safety and his. But they can find a place with a view. He has only the most basic stipend from the FBI, so he says, quietly, "I have things I can sell." Things that weren't his, after all.
“You won’t let me take care of this?” she asks just as softly, fingers stroking through his hair. She doesn’t get paid chump change, after all. “We could do this together. It doesn’t have to be all on you.”
"And I can't let it be all on you," Neal tells her, eyes on hers. "I can't let you … I don't know … keep me."
“So then we help each other,” she says, stroking his cheek softly. “Can we do that?”
That is a very good question. This is what Neal had wanted with Kate. And now he has a chance to be a better man with a damned good woman. "I will do my best not to let you down," he says in a whisper.
“Neal,” she says, looking right at him, holding his eyes. “Don’t you get it?” she asks with a little laugh, a quiet one.
"I'm … not sure?" He has to laugh, watching her. He's smart - almost too smart, but suddenly he isn't sure.
Her thumbs run over his cheeks, then she looks at him, speaking low again. “I love you, Neal. I thought it was obvious.”
Oh. Neal wheels back a little, clearly surprised and in a very rare event, he blushes, just a little over his cheekbones. "Peter would say that your choice in men is suspect, Joan."
“Good thing I’m not sleeping with Peter, then,” she says, kissing Neal lightly. “You’re adorable when you blush.”
Laughing, he leans in to kiss her again and only then, when the words can be swallowed by their breath does he say the words back and it's like free-falling: fear and exhilaration mixing.
She pulls him over her again, properly, kissing him deeply before pulling back just enough. “You’re sure? About moving?” Not about loving her.
"I'm as sure of that as I am of anything," he tells her. And as odd as that sounds, for Neal, it's very sincere.
Joan kisses him again, then smiles against his mouth. “I think you’re due for another round of medicine, Mister Caffrey,” she jokes.
"Do you, Nurse?" With a big smile, Neal leans over her again. "I would be remiss if I ignored the advice of a such a beautiful, intelligent nurse."
She moves with him then, slow until she can’t hold back anymore. Then, they’re both panting, and she closes her eyes, hands moving over his back as she catches her breath.
"I shouldn't make you sleep on your sofa," Neal murmured again, a little sweaty but happy. And tired.
“Then come to bed with me,” she says softly, already lightly dozing.
"Okay … " he murmurs it, settling a little more comfortably, a leg thrown over hers.
After a few minutes, Joan nudges him. “Bed’s that way,” she says, pointing lazily toward the bedroom.
"Mmhmm." But then Neal isn't moving, asleep with his head on Joan's shoulder.
Joan sleeps right there, too, and when she wakes up, it’s to Kevin fussing in his crib, and it’s early. Shaking Neal gently, she starts trying to sit up. “The baby,” she simply says, still half asleep.
"Oh. Right. The baby." Caught deeply asleep enough, Neal blinks, scrubbing the hair back from his face. "Kevin." Right. He sits up, and smiles when he sees her naked. "Good morning. I'll make breakfast."
“Then you’re a keeper,” she says as she stands, going into the bedroom and wrapping herself in her robe. Kevin is eight months now, so he gets dry cereal as she puts him in his high chair. “Someone is bright eyes and cheery.”
"Hey, buddy," Neal says. He's clad in his pants now, and undershirt. He's bending down, reaching for the boy's fingers with his. "Look at you."
Kevin lets out a happy squeal - he knows Neal by now - and grabs at his fingers playfully before the sight of food that he can somewhat feed to himself steals his focus. As Joan watches though, she can’t help but think that it could be like this always. Though she doesn’t want to scare the shit out of Neal right away. Unless she already did and he’s doing an exceptional job of sticking it out until he can leave.
"You and I are going to make risotto one day," Neal tells the boy. "We have to teach you how to take care of the pretty ladies, like your mom."
“You’re going to teach my son how to be charming?” she asks with an amused eyebrow arch. “In the suave ways of Neal Cafferty?"
"Would that be a bad thing?" Neal asks, smiling. "I don't hear him complaining. Right, buddy?" When the baby laughs again, he laughs too.
Joan’s about to reply when there’s a knock on the door. She’s hardly dressed, but Neal isn’t any better, so she goes to the door to answer. And when she sees Greg, her entire demeanor changes, holding her robe a little tighter. “What the hell do you want?” she asks, voice low.
"My son." Greg has his uniform on and his chin out and he stands at the doorway with his shoulders back. "I want to see my son."
Hearing that has Neal standing up straight. He comes over to stand behind Joan, staring over her shoulder at the man.
“He’s eating his breakfast,” she says, voice cold. “We’re getting ready for our day, this isn’t a good time.”
"I just got back from Vietnam, Joan. Any idea when a good time is?"
"Do you have custody?" Neal asks, frowning, a hand resting on Joan's arm. "Does he have custody?"
“No,” she replies. “You picked where you wanted to be when he was a month old. He doesn’t even know who you are. You’re a stranger.”
"He's my son!" Greg nearly shouts, leaning forward. And Neal, quick, pulls Joan behind him and gives the guy a smile like she's never seen, flat and cold. "You don't have custody. And it wouldn't be a good idea for you to threaten her again in front of an FBI agent." An exaggeration, slightly, but a useful one.
She’s silent for a second, then deadpans, stepping out from behind Neal. “And he’s not your son.”
"What do you mean he's not my son," Greg all but sneered, taking a step forward. "What kind of bullshit - " A hand came up and Neal planted it in his chest.
"I wouldn't if I were you."
“How can you be so thick?” she asks. “You were in basic, do the math!” She knows, this isn’t very becoming of her - at all - but she just wants Greg out of her life.
Neal doesn't even have all the facts and he can figure it out.
But Greg stutters there for a moment, frowning, before it computes. Then he lunges for Joan. "Whore! You - you - who-!"
He doesn't finish the word because Neal's fist connects with his face. Between Greg's forward momentum and Neal's fist, it's over pretty quick.
“Get out of here!” she yells, shoving him, pushing him through the door and slamming it closed, using the chain to lock it. Then she goes to Neal, frowning, forehead creased and already trying to find the words to apologize.
We'll call Peter. He can run things through to make sure that that guy doesn't come back," Neal says, shaking out his hand. "Are you all right?"
“I’m fine, God, are you okay?” she asks, reaching for his hand, but panicking a little. Now she has to tell him something. The truth, not just...something.
"Fine. Really." Neal reaches up to touch Joan's face. "... you were married to that guy?"
She looks down, letting out a soft breath. “Yes.” There’s a sudden feeling of shame that makes her throat tighten a little. She shouldn’t ever married him, and she knows it.
Well, Neal figures there had to be something about him. Joan wasn't dumb, not by a long shot. "I'll talk to Peter."
“Thank you,” she says gratefully. “Come on, I’ll get you some ice for your hand,” she says gently, leading him back to the dining room to sit.
"Did you lock the door?" Neal asks, looking over his shoulder. But his attention then goes to Kevin, who went quiet and wide-eyed at the all the noise and fuss. "It's okay," he whispered, giving the boy a smile.
Joan nods.“It’s locked.” Then, she looks at Neal. “Kevin is Roger’s,” she says, knowing that even if he didn’t ask, she should tell him. He’s told her the truth about himself, so now. Here’s this.
"Oh … okay."
Truth told, Neal kind of likes Roger Sterling, all his drollness - he was sharp. Neal turns his attention back to Joan. "And he doesn't support him?"
“I asked him not to,” she says as she sits down at the table. “Kevin and I are just fine. We were both married at the time. I couldn’t take money and he couldn’t give it without someone wondering where the money was going and where it was coming from.”
"Okay." Neal slides into the seat kitty-corner and rests his hand on the table. "It's okay, Joan. Do you even think I could judge you in the slightest? With what I've done?"
Joan looks up at him, eyes on his before she looks down again. “I was afraid that he was it. That if I didn’t marry him...” She looks up at him, shrugging one shoulder in embarrassment. “So when he proposed, I said yes.”
"Don't. Hey." Neal smiles, his head cocked. "I mean, look. You moved up in the world." Which is funny, really, seeing as he's a semi-reformed con-man.
Joan needs to tell him though. Everything about Greg so that he knows. Even if she hates thinking about it. She can’t tell him the majority and leave choice parts out. But her voice is low now, as if she doesn’t want Kevin to hear, regardless of the fact that he can’t understand.
“He...” She picks her words carefully. “Took advantage of me. In Don’s office. I thought that I was making him a drink, and...” She lowers her eyes again. She shouldn’t have married him, Jesus.
Surprise paints itself across Neal's face, replaced then by disgust and anger. "I'll talk to Peter." There's no chance, even he knows, to press charges, but he can see what can be done.
There’s something like a weight easing off of her shoulders, and Joan relaxes a bit. She stands, going to Neal and leaning down to kiss him softly. “Thank you. Especially for hitting him.”
That makes Neal laugh a little bit. He tugs Joan down onto his lap and smiles at her. "So … I guess we need to go apartment hunting."
“You’re still okay with giving up your view of the city?” she asks, fingers trailing through his hair gently.
"I think I'll get by with this view," he tells her. And with a teasing glance at Kevin to make sure the boy won't be too traumatized, he slips open one button of her pajama top and nuzzles his face into her bosom.
“Neal,” she warns with a quiet laugh, hand sliding to the back of his head. “This is highly inappropriate in front of the baby, at the table, even.”
"I think Kevin knows what's in here. And I think he'd approve." But Neal leans back and even does up the button. "All right, all right." He'd behave. For the moment.
She can’t help but laugh, which makes Kevin laugh, kicking his legs out. Then, Joan kisses Neal. “I should shower and get dressed.”
"Go. Kev and I will have a man-talk about … man stuff." Neal grins at the boy. "Right?"
Another indulgent kiss, and Joan stands, disappearing into the bedroom. When she comes out, it’s in a skirt and nice, floral print dress. Her hair is up and her makeup is on as she puts an earring into place. “ You know. For as much as my mother’s opinion doesn’t matter, I should tell her about this. Us.”
"If you want?" By this time, Neal has Kevin in his lap, the boy's fingers wrapped around his fingers, arms waving. "We can take her to dinner. I'll treat." Somehow. He knows he can charm that woman, even as unpleasant as she sounds.
“I can’t move with her grandson and not tell her where we’re going. Probably. Besides. She’ll watch him,” Joan points out.
"Grandma is useful," Neal tells Kevin, smiling up at Joan. "So we tell her. Or I can tell her." He shrugs.
“We can tell her,” Joan agrees. Then, she moves to take Kevin. “I’ll get him dressed if you want to shower too,” she says, and she can’t help but get another kiss in from Neal.
He has ties at the office, so Neal nods, handing the baby over. But even as he still has an arm around Kevin, his other arm goes around Joan and he kisses her again before he heads off to shower.
Peter's going to have a field day with this.
The apartment is smaller and somewhat boxy, but it gives Kevin a room and Neal and Joan have a room, too. He still has things at June's and he goes there a few times a week - he would be lying if he doesn't need the quiet every now and again.
But he's there now, thinking about what's coming.
His commutation hearing. They'd taken down Victor and that apparently warranted him being free.
Except that Agent Kramer from Washington DC is lurking around and Neal doesn't trust him. That even Peter doesn't trust him says more than he needs to say. On the table in front of Neal is a new set of papers: passport and everything.
He pulls one more thing from the manila envelope. A passport for Joan. But whether he'll have the courage to use any of it is the question he's thinking about.
When Neal needs space, Joan always gives it. She can only do that though, because he always comes back. So when it’s late, and he’s not home yet, she starts to worry. She knows he has things coming up, that he’ll be free to do what he wants and go where he wants. And that scares her a little, even while she tries to pretend that it doesn’t.
Pacing their new apartment, she’s smoking for the first time in a long time, staring at the phone every so often. Then, she realizes that when he comes home she doesn’t want to taste like smoke, so she puts the damn thing out and goes to brush her teeth. But, that doesn’t matter if he doesn’t come back. She winds up sitting in the corner of the couch in the semi-dark, listening to the clock on the wall tick.
He doesn't mean to worry her; really he doesn't. Even in the months they've been together, he still has moments when he can't believe that someone (Joan, June, Peter, Elizabeth) who care enough about him to even worry.
So when he realizes he's in the dark - that the sun has set - he stuffs the forged papers back into the manila envelope and he tucks it into his jacket pocket.
He opens the door of the apartment just before midnight. The door is closed and locked and he starts, seeing her sitting there.
The envelope he holds in one hand as he comes closer.
She wants to be mad and ask him where the hell he’s been, but she’s just so glad that he came back, she can’t even think of the words to say. She watches him, eyes flicking to the envelope, then back up at him.
Sitting, Neal loosens his tie and takes a deep breath. "I told you I wouldn't leave without telling you. Without giving you the chance to go with me." He holds up the envelope. "This is that chance. Everything we need."
Joan stares at the envelope, then at him. “I thought you loved New York. That you had things you wanted to do right here.”
"There's an agent from Washington DC. He's coming after me. Things I thought were gone, done. Anything. He's not going to let me go," Neal tells her and his anger at this is there in the backs of his eyes, as well as the desperation that comes from being chased.
“So we leave. I leave. My job, my partnership. Everything?” She’s not speaking with a raised voice, she doesn’t even sound...angry. Just stating facts about the situation.
Exhaling, Neal shrugs, shaking his head. "We go to a tropical island. We raise Kevin where he doesn't wear shoes - we - " But his expression was bleak. "If you don't go with me, I can't guarantee that I come back." It wasn't a threat- just the facts.
“Leave or lose you,” she says with a huff of a laugh that only comes out to mask tears, shaking her head. “Thanks for the head’s up,” she says, recalling a conversation from what seems like forever ago now.
"Joan - " Neal's eyes are red; this isn't easy, not by a long shot. "If I stay here, I am never free. Not ever. Under someone's thumb for... forever."
She doesn’t want to leave. Not her job, not when she’s finally making something of herself. The only female partner, respected by more than just the men at her office. And she doesn’t want to give up the only place she’s ever lived her entire life. She feels like Neal just pushed her out of a plane without a parachute. “I don’t know....what to say. I...when would we have to go?”
"I don't know," Neal confesses, anxiety clear in his voice. "Even Peter is jumpy. I … we have to be ready - I have to. Joan, I understand what I'm asking, I do. And I love you. But I can't go back to prison and I can't work for Kramer."
She’s crying, even as she looks at him and asks her next question. “Can I even say goodbye to people?” So there’s her decision.
It's a soggy laugh she gets, and Neal hugs her tight. Mozzie will not approve, but he doesn't care. He buries his nose in her neck and whispers, "we'll figure out how." Because normally the answer would be no.
It’s Don she mostly wants to say goodbye to. For always being on her side. She can’t believe she’s doing this, leaving behind everything she knows and everything she’s ever worked for. She can’t help crying, she’s not sure what else to do. But she loves Neal. Enough to do this.
It all happens quickly. Even Neal thinks that something can be salvaged until he hears Kramer talking about just how many charges he'll bring against Neal. So, Neal runs. He pulls the bag he always keeps packed and he gets the paperwork. He fetches Kevin from Joan's mother, giving her no sense that anything is strange and he heads for Joan's office. He smiles at the receptionist, a new one, thankfully, and tells her to call Joan's office. To tell her that Mr. Nick Halder is waiting. It's the code they worked out. She has to go. Now.
When Joan gets the call, she stares for a second, then gets up smoothly and goes to Don’s office, kicking everyone out. Then, she can’t help it, she bursts into tears and simply hugs him. When he asks her what’s wrong, she tells him that she’s leaving early, she’s just received bad news, and she’ll call him later. She pulls herself together though, goes back to her office and gets her keys - not that she’ll need them - and her purse and coat before walking through the halls for the last time. By the time she gets to Neal, she’s hardly holding it together, eyes red But she braves a smile as she tells the receptionist to transfer all of her things to Mr. Draper.
"Hi, honey," Neal says warily, leaning with Kevin who's reaching for his mother. He smiles a the receptionist, then he's heading for the door, holding it open for her. They have so little time, it's as if he can already feel Kramer breathing down his neck.
Joan has Kevin now, then follows Neal out of the office, into the elevator, and out of the building. She can’t believe she’s really doing this. She feels like she’s dreaming, almost, and she thinks that for now, maybe, it’s best to go about things as if it is. To not think about it too hard. To just get where they need to be.
The passports work and seats are purchased. Impulsively, Neal decides to go north, not south, leaving Mozzie on some flight to Mexico. He and Joan and the baby end up on a flight to Madrid. They won't stop there: Interpol still has a file on him, but at least it gets him out of the country.
He leans back in his seat, reaching for Joan's hand, watching her face. This isn't what he wanted. Not by a long shot.
This is her first time on a plane, but she doesn’t even have the mindset to be afraid like she always thought she would. She focuses on Kevin, but she does take Neal’s hand, squeezing tightly. There’s a lot of fear on her face. But when she looks at him, a lot of the fear is replaced with worry for him. Love. She tries to relax, turning to look out of the window and trying to keep Kevin in her lap.
Madrid. They rent a car and head south to Gilbralta. They will take a boat to Morocco in a couple of days, but for the moment, they have a hotel room that looks out at the water. The door is open and they can hear the surf.
Poor Kevin is confused, with being exhausted but not wanting to go down. It takes Joan forever to finally get him to sleep, and by then, she sinks onto the bed, rubbing her forehead. She still hasn’t had time to process this. Where they are. That she’s in a foreign country where she can’t even speak the native language.
"Are you hungry?" Neal asks quietly, watching her from where he's perched by the door, alternating his view between the sea and Joan.
“I don’t know,” she says honestly. Because she hasn’t stopped to think about it. “I have a headache.” Probably because she is hungry and hasn’t eaten since...she can’t even remember when.
So, Neal orders food, his Spanish a little rusty. He doesn't order wine. But when he gets the assurance that the food is on its way, he comes to sit next to her, next to her, urging her to turn her back toward him so he can rub her shoulders and neck. "I'm sorry," he murmurs, thumbs working circles.
“For what?” she asks quietly, closing her eyes.
"For pulling you from everything you know? From keeping you from having a normal life? I can keep going …. "
“I could have said no,” she points out, voice still quiet.
Neal kisses her neck before he leans back to keep massaging her shoulders. What is there to say? He could arrange for her to go back; they haven't gone too far.
She’s quiet for a long time, then she turns, lying down on the bed facing him. “I love you. As long as you don’t decide Kevin and I are too much, then we’re still going to wherever it is we need to be.”
"This isn't going to be an ad agency. You won't be working anymore. Maybe … " He lies down on his side as well, cheek in his hand. "Maybe think of it as a vacation. A … really long vacation."
“What will I be doing?” she can’t help but ask.
"Raising Kevin? Learning a language? Going to museums. Pretty much anything you want, Joan." It sounds like it could be exciting, exhilarating. Or terrifying.
It’s the latter that comes out of her mouth. “I’m scared, Neal,” she finally admits. Hours after they’ve started this.
But if there's one thing that Neal knows beyond anything else it's that he can get himself out of most situations. What he doesn't know is if he can get Joan out too, and a kid.
He says none of that, though, leaning forward, an arm around her waist.
Joan looks at him, fingers moving along his face. “I love you. And that’s all that I know right now.”
Maybe it would be enough. Neal didn't know. But he did know how to get them underground. A small house in Monaco, nondescript, where Mr. and Mrs. Jonas Draper lived with their son Kevin. The house wasn't fancy and laundry was hung out of the back window. But Neal hired a girl to come twice a week to do that.
It was enough. For the moment anyway.
It does amuse her that her last name is Draper now, but if history has anything to prove, it’s not a horrible namesake to have. And she makes the most of it, throwing herself into the culture, exploring and learning the language, even making a couple of friends. She eventually realizes that she’s happy, and that’s enough now. She’s not a partner. She isn’t anything. But she’s with Neal, and both she and Kevin are happy.
The sun sets late in their village and Kevin sleeps with the covers thrown off. In their bedroom, Neal pulls his shirt over his head and tosses it into the laundry hamper as he moves closer. Joan's hair is lighter and longer; she's got some color; it's hard not to here. He comes up behind her, lifting her hair from her neck to kiss her skin.
She also has a sprinkling of freckles across her cheeks and nose. When he kisses her, she grins, leaning back against him. “And just what do you think you’re doing?”
"I," he says with a smile, "am starting to seduce my wife." Another kiss, this one right behind her ear.
Joan smiles again, humming. “Well. J’e t’aime, monsieur Draper,” she grins before turning to kiss him fully, arms moving around his neck.
The bed is big, built on the floor and when Joan lays back, Neal leans over her, peeling her clothes off piece by piece, lingering on his favorite places, the crux of her neck, her breasts of course, the curve of her hip.
Because she’s been learning, and she may as well, Joan speaks to him in French as he moves, encouraging him at all the right places, fingers pushing through his hair. She guides him down her body, draping one leg over his shoulder. And after he makes her cry out his name, she pulls him over her again, this time legs going around his waist.
He pushes into her slowly, whispering against her mouth, too, phrases in French that even she'd know were almost dirty, but sounded sensual. He rocked his hips against hers, his hand laced with hers.
She moves with him, slow and rocking until she can’t stand it anymore. Her hands move all over and across his chest and shoulders, mouth pressing to his ear as she moans, then gasps sharply as pleasure coils tightly in her belly. And then, she’s over the edge again, arching underneath him.
But they have time; they have so much time here. So Neal stills through her climax then rolls to his back taking her with him, letting her move over him, flushed and gorgeous as he touches her, heels digging into the bed to push up into her.
Bending over him, her mouth drags across his neck as she whispers that she loves him every few minutes, the words never far from her lips. Sitting up, she moves slow over him holding his eyes. Her hand is still in his, holding onto him tightly. Her skin is flushed, lips slightly swollen from kissing him, hair mussed.
She was absolutely gorgeous like this. There were drawings and paintings of her on the walls of their bedroom, paintings of Kevin and Joan in the living room. Neal used their joined hands between her legs, teasing at her even as she moved on him.
It’s too much, again, and she rocks forward, face against his neck. Panting heavily, she moves fast and hard against him, unable to help it now. She tries valiantly to hold on though, wanting to feel him let go, too.
His panting grow audible against her skin and the rhythm gets ragged. Then he comes with a gasp, hips jerking.
When she feels him, Joan cries out quietly, letting go with him, falling against his chest. Her heart is slamming in her chest, and she’s warm and flushed, but she also can’t move.
He combs through her hair, trails his fingers down her back, eyes half-shut. "That was," he chuckles, "one of my better plans."
“You are very good at seduction,” she says breathlessly, letting out a little laugh.
"Inspiring subject matter," she's told, his fingertips teasing down her back, the backs of her thighs. "I appreciate beauty."
Resting her chin on his chest, she lets her fingers drag across his shoulder. “Are you happy?” she asks with a soft murmur.
Neal takes a moment to think about that before nodding. "Didn't exactly expect to end up in Monaco, but … I have you and Kevin and - " No one's chasing him. He kisses her again. He's happy.
Joan’s fingers move down across his neck, kissing as she goes. “So am I,” she says quietly before moving off of his chest and curling into his side.
"Guess it's too early to ask if you want to give Kevin a little sister or brother?" Neal's partly teasing, partly not.
His question actually throws her off guard. “You...want to have a baby?” she asks, not sure why she’s surprised.
"I always thought I'd have kids," he says with a shrug, turned to face her. "It ties us down more, makes it harder to move if we need to, but …. " Yes. He wants a baby.
She kisses him again, legs tangling with his. “A baby. Well. I can’t say that I wouldn’t love a baby with your eyes. Your smile,” she says, nuzzling against him.
"Your brains," he teases. "Your … spunk."
“So, are we having a baby, Mister...Draper?” she asks with a lopsided grin.
"Mrs. Draper? Yes. Yes we are." And Neal leans into her for a kiss to seal the deal.
After a few months, two turning into three, Joan is chasing after a freshly bathed Kevin who is running naked and giggling. She’s waiting on Neal to come back with a bottle of wine and dinner, so for now, she’s trying to wrangle Kevin into pajamas. When she finally grabs him, she’s laughing and holds him upside down, kissing his stomach, blowing a raspberry.
She also has something to tell Neal.
The wine here isn't the greatest. Perhaps that's what he misses most of all about New York, though not as much as he misses Peter and Elizabeth, even Mozzie. (That Mozzie hasn't shown up on his doorstep yet continues to surprise Neal.) He does have one varietal red that works, though, as he steps back into the house, shutting and locking the door behind himself.
He sees them and grins. "You can't escape," he tells Kevin, crouching down for a hug when he gets free. "So don't try."
Kevin grins, hugging him, and that gives Joan a chance to get him dressed. “It’s someone’s bed time. So say goodnight to daddy.” As far as Kevin knows, Neal’s the only father he’s ever known, and he kisses his cheek, then goes with Joan to his bedroom.
When Joan comes back, she lets out a breath with a little smile. “He’s getting too big for me.”
"He's great." Flexible like only small kids can be, learning French quickly. Neal comes up to put his arms around her. "Hi."
She sighs happily and nuzzles against his neck. “Hi.” Her lips move to his skin, swaying with him to unheard music.
He moves with her easily, humming in her ear. "Are you okay?"
“I’m perfect,” she smiles. “Why do you ask?”
"Just checking. Because," he said, a happy glint in his eye. "You are perfect. Beautiful and perfect."
She kisses him again, then pulls back a little. “I have something to tell you,” she smiles, small but very, very happy.
And that doesn't take a genuis to figure out. Neal drinks in her expression and can't help how his face lights up, too. "... you are? Are you sure? Are you sure you're pregnant?!"
“I was late two months ago and haven’t started since! I’m almost positive, Neal. As tired and exhausted as I’ve been, the nausea....” but no morning sickness, thank God.
He tightens his arms around her waist and lifts her, spinning - just like something out of a movie - before he kisses her. He's so happy - so much more happy than he imagined being. "I love you," he whispers.
This is so different from the first time she found out and shared news like this. She can’t help but laugh and wrap her arms around him, then she presses her forehead against his. “I love you. And we’re gonna have a baby. You and me.”
"We are going to have a baby," he echoes. And suddenly he realizes that he has the life that he always wanted and never thought he would. "We need to find you a good doctor here." To be safe. And careful.
“We will,” she says, hands moving over his face and down his neck. “And we’ll be fine. Everything is...” Joan looks at him, so happy she doesn’t even know what there is to say. “This is the best move I’ve ever made.”
"Me too," he finds himself saying. So many surprises. "Preferences as to whether it's a boy or girl?"
“We have a boy, so I’m very curious as to what a girl could bring. But I’m happy with either a boy or a girl.” She sits and reaches out to touch his cheek. “You?”
"A girl," Neal said, laughing as he shook his head. "A girl with your looks? I'd need to get a nice, big baseball bat."
That makes Joan laugh, and she leans in, kissing his neck and nuzzling gently. “You are already a great daddy, so I can already imagine how you’ll be with a new baby. I’ve seen you with Kevin since he was a few months old. And I can’t wait to see it again.”
"I didn't have any brothers or sisters. I want Kevin to have a sister," he says, dancing with her, his smile etched into his face. "I … can't believe it."
“We have so many things to get,” she says, already thinking ahead. “All of Kevin’s baby things got left in New York.”
"We can make a trip - take a train? Go back to Spain if we can't find what we need. "Or we can have someone make it." Neal has, it's not a surprise, made friends in the village, all with varied skills.
“Is this going to be...difficult?” she asks curiously.
"I don't know," he tells her honestly. "There's always a chance someone could show up. Always."
“It’ll be hard to get up and go when I’m eight months pregnant. And with an infant...Neal, they can’t even fly until a certain age,” she says a little worriedly.
"We'll be fine," he says, unsure if he believes it or not. "We'll be fine." He cups her face and smiles as best he can. "You just worry about taking care of yourself. I'll handle everything else."
Months later, Joan’s round, all belly and the perfect example of a good pregnancy. Her hair’s longer, she’s looking forward to seeing their baby. Kevin babbles, more than any kid she’s ever known, but in both French and English. She can’t believe she’s doing this again, but every night when she sees Neal, when he strokes her belly and holds her, she knows it’s right.
She left everything behind for him. And now, she has everything she’s wanted.
Until the day when Neal comes barreling in the door with panic on his face. "I have five minutes. They found me. They don't know about you. But I have to go. I will send for you, I swear to God, Joan. I will. But I have to go to keep you and Kevin safe." And the baby.
Joan doesn’t even have time to process this, and she stares at him, eyes wide. “What, Neal, what’s...where are you going?!” Five minutes. She can pack, they can go, but she knows that’s not true. She can’t.
No, she can't. But she might be suprised when he pulls a packed bag from a compartment in the back of their closet. "I have to go," he says, kneeling in front of her. "But I will make arrangements. I will be there when our baby's born. I swear. Do you believe me?"
Joan is surprised, though she’s not sure she should be. She’s not even crying because she hasn’t had a chance to get there yet. She does nod though, slowly, a hand moving over her belly as she watches him. “Where are you going to go?”
"Lead them away from you then lose them.I will not leave you alone for log. Believe me, Mrs. Draper. Someone will come and we'll be together again. Okay?"
Joan nods again, then pulls him into a kiss, her hands on either side of his face. “I love you,” she says quietly. “You need to go. Now. Go, Neal.”
Neal kisses her and kisses Kevin, kisses Joan's belly and then he's gone and the house is quiet.
It stays quiet that day, then next. It's quiet for a week after, and another week.
After twenty-five days, there comes a knock at the door.
At this point, almost a month, Joan has no idea what will happen, or if she’ll ever see Neal again. The knock on the door though, it startles her. Mostly because it could be devastating news.
She gets up from the couch, letting out a breath and answering the door.
On the stoop stands a short man with thick rimmed glasses. He blinks at her. "You are more pregnant than I expected. I guess you could call me the Cavalry, or you can call me Mozzie. I'm here to take you to Neal. Or Jonah, if you'd rather."
“How do I know I can trust you?” she asks warily. No use saying she doesn’t know who he’s talking about.
"Because I'm here? Because I'm the one Neal was supposed to meet at the airport three years ago? Because I'm the only one he would call aside from the Suit? Trust me or not, Mrs. Draper, I have orders to take you to where Neal is. Are you saying no?"
“No,” she says quickly. “I just have to get my son,” she says, knowing Neal’s talked about Mozzie. She turns to let him in. “How much time do I have to pack?”
"You have …. " He taps at his watch face. "Thirty-seven minutes."
“That long?” she asks with a flash of a smile. But she starts getting things together. It’s all clothes and things for Kevin and baby clothes. But there are a few personal items and the more intimate paintings Neal has done of her, plus some of Kevin. Thirty-five minutes later, she’s holding a sleepy toddler by the hand and has two bags. “Okay. I think we’re...ready as we’ll ever be.”
:I'm impressed," Mozzie tells her. "You're no nonsense. Unlike some of the other women Neal's been with. Then there's that," he gestures to her belly. And he took her bag, not the kid.
“I’m flattered,” she says, as she manages to lift Kevin with an ‘umph’, and then she follows Mozzie. All that she wants is to see Neal again.
It's complicated to get there. It involves a boat, a limosine and a jeep. Mozzie keeps offering Joan crackers but he doesn't tell her where they are. It's well after dark when the jeep pulls up in front of a walled house. "Come with me," he says, taking her bag.
Joan follows him, exhausted and looking more than a little frazzled. Kevin is in her arms asleep, and she’s moving slow, trying to carry him as she follows. Her nerves feel raw, and she just really, really needs to sit somewhere comfortable. The Jeep. The Jeep was not comfortable.
In through a coded gate and Mozzie stands aside to let Joan into the courtyard. Then he leads up to the house, looking up. "The eagle has landed," he says.
The door buzzes open and he stands aside, gesturing. "Your kingdom awaits."
When she walks in, she’s nearly holding her breath, looking around a little. She doesn’t see Neal right away, and she frowns at first. But he appears a moment later from a hallway, and he hurries over.
First, he takes Kevin, carefully, using his free hand to hug Joan, hand cradling her head. "Are you all right."
She can’t help it, she bursts into quiet tears and nods, pressing her face to his shoulder. “Are you? Are you okay? Is everything okay?”
"I'm fine. We're fine. We're safe. Nothing can find us here. I promise." And it isn't a promise that Neal makes lightly. "Come on. You need to rest."
Joan lets him lead her, and when she can finally sit, she does, closing her eyes for a second. There was a very small part of her that she’s realizing didn’t think she’d ever see him again. Opening her eyes, she can’t help watching him, not wanting to take her eyes away, afraid that any minute he’s going to tell her that he has to go again.
Kevin is set in the middle of the big bed for the moment, then he helps her lie down. Mozzie's still hovering at the doorway and Neal says to him, "thank you, Mozz."
"Oh. Right. Mrs. Draper," Mozzie says, before he disappears.
Then Neal just sits next to her. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I had to leave like that."
She reaches out to take his hand, feeling slightly overwhelmed. “Have you been here the entire time?”
"No. I had to make sure they couldn't find this place. And I had to make arrangements for this place." He holds her hand with one hand, the other gently pushing hair back from her face.
“What about a doctor? We only have a couple of months now,” she worries. But she closes her eyes at his touch, a hand going to his arm to stroke slowly.
"We have a doctor. Anything you need." Neal strokes his knuckles down her cheek. "Anything our baby needs." She can keep his kiss on her forehead.
Then, and only then, does Joan let her eyes close, but only while holding onto Neal. “I need you. This was...twenty five days, Neal,” she says quietly, voice wavering a bit.
"I know." And he doesn't tell her what he had to do, how he had to in effect kill Neal Caffrey, a boat exploding in the Mediterranean. Then lengths he had to go to ensure forensic evidence would back it up.
Stretching out next to her, he hugs himself to her back. "It won't happen again."
“Kevin’s getting older. We’re having a baby. We can’t uproot them all the time.” It’s not a threat, it’s just fact. Schools and the kid’s lives. They won’t understand, and she doesn’t think they should have to.
"Joan. I know. And you have to believe that I wouldn't have brought you here if I didn't think I could do this." It's his biggest challenge yet and different entirely from what he expected to want. No schools, but tutors. An insulated life, but a safe one.
Joan relaxes and lets out a soft breath. “Okay.” She brings his hand up to her lips and kisses his knuckles gently. Then, she puts his hand over her belly, the baby kicking and stretching.
"I've missed you," Neal tells Joan, tells the baby, hands rubbing circles. "I've missed my family."
“We’ve missed you. I missed you so much, Neal. Kevin asked every day, when you were coming home, and I didn’t know...” She kisses his hand again, his palm, then his wrist. “I love you.”
"I love you, too. And I'm sorry. I will make it up to you. I know that this wasn't what you signed up for," he whispers.
Sitting up, Joan carefully moves so that she can face him. Her belly puts some distance between them, but she needs to see his face. Her hand reaches to stroke his face. “I signed up for you. No matter what that entails. I came with you. I made that choice and I don’t regret it. Never have,” she says with a small smile.
A hand still on Joan's belly, Neal smiles too and he kisses her.
Chapter 5 - Epilogue
When the baby comes, it's a girl with red hair and blue eyes and Neal swears that she smiles at him when she's put in his arms. He asks Joan if they can name her June.
Watching him, small smile on her face, she agrees. June. Baby girl June. She has a moment, where she’d like to call Don and she’s not sure why. She misses her friends, misses New York. But she’s so happy that it’s fleeting. A thought and gone. “You look good holding our daughter.”
"I do, don't I?" He tells her, grinning wide. "And you," he tells her, coming closer. "Are the most beautiful mother in the world." And there's nothing alleged about it.