The wind is harsh, thrashing against his skin, whipping through his hair; but he's never felt so alive. So free. His stomach lurches when a thermal drops him twenty feet and he pushes with all the strength he's ever used running, climbs back another thirty. Beating up and down, air rippling feathers, his muscles heady and singing. The soaring is unbelievable, takes him back to his very best base jumps, those that lasted longer than three seconds. But they can't compare to the euphoria of riding these immense gales like an extended roller coaster. His eyes close and he tilts his face back, basking in the sting of the gusts.
The next thermal snaps his eyes wide and he beats harder, watching the city so far beneath him, reminding him of the miniature town in Mr. Rogers Neighborhood before his mom would leave the room and he could change the channel to learn from the Roadrunner. He watches the lights of the tiny cars and buses, lighting up the streets before sunrise, thinking of the hues he'd use to paint them. Leaving them behind is effortless, his span spreading, tilting, heading toward the waterfront. Warehouses, dry docks, crates the size of houses.
The ground gets closer so he pumps again, starting back up toward the thermal plane he'd dropped below, the clouds becoming respected fellow inhabitants. He's almost to the river when pain like he's never felt rips through his shoulder blades, pulling, tearing his muscle. Air rushes into the gaping holes he can now feel, where wings had extended through the skin of his back not two seconds before. He can feel warm liquid trickling along his skin as he plunges to the earth - no more wings to beat, no way to save himself. His torn back prevents any kind of acrobatic move that might make him think he could cheat the laws of gravity. He spares a thought to how Peter will feel when they find him, wishes he could explain, apologize. And his mother... as the concrete of a ship yard comes to meet him, his eyes squeeze shut and he sees her, realizes he should have found her again. Too late.
His body bears a crushing smack that doesn't feel like concrete. His breath is gone but his body's still moving, now away from the ground. He can hear the lap of water, and seagulls, and he sucks in a breath as he opens his eyes to find himself flying out above the river. Powerful arms grip him like vices, wings heaving far above him as he hangs just above the surface, his feet skimming the water, then up.
They come to a stop atop an abandoned ship. He's hurled against the deck, his body rolling along the wood, hard surface banging every bone in his body. When he wanes to a stop, hands yank him to his back and Neal thinks of the blood that might glue his skin to the wood if he gets out of this attack alive, his shirt shredded, still hanging off of him in ribbons. The pain is unbearable. He's too weak to protect himself.
Strong thighs sink atop his own, pinning him against the planks. He looks up through the moonlight and gasps. Peter's eyes - enraged and terrifying.
"Quiet." The low menace in his voice keeps Neal from trying again.
Tendons and feathers stretch, reach down gracefully from behind Peter, around and beneath Neal. A blaze sears through his back and Neal cries out in agony, muscle knitting back together, skin closing.
When the fire stops, Peter pulls his wings back, lets them hover over them both like a cocoon. But that's where the feeling of safety ends. Nothing but jeans hang off Peter's frame, the heavy mass between his hipbones pulling them tight. He pins Neal's wrists above his head, lowers his face to Neal's neck, their heaving chests coming into contact with each pant. He sniffs Neal far and wide, checking every part of his body, keeping a tenuous hold on his control. Neal wonders if he's been saved just to become a meal of one kind or the other. He knows better than to move. Peter's eyes and growl and harsh grip speak of anger and revenge. He tears off a long piece of Neal's shirt.
"Peter, how did you know?"
"You flew outside your radius."
He was sure he'd been keeping track of that. "I'm sorry."
"Why, Neal?" His voice is rougher, deeper than usual, less... human. His clutch runs along Neal's neck, sharp nail like a claw, leaving his skin stinging, the long piece of cotton tickling behind it. Neal's heartbeat picks up at the power rolling off of Peter. But he can't lie. Not to him.
"I needed to feel it. Just once."
"You said you were done stealing."
"I was borrowing. You don't need them while you're sleeping-"
A roar splits the air before Neal's finished speaking, blinding heat surrounding them. The claws are back, wrapped around Neal's neck, pressing just enough to make a point. The fear at the edge of Neal's mind grows as Peter hisses slowly, "You didn't ask."
Neal can barely swallow with the pressure against his throat. His voice edges out as a croak, "Would you have said yes?"
He'd been sure he'd had enough time to return them before Peter woke. He'd snuck in last month, checked Peter's weekday alarm last time he was off anklet. It was either that or during office hours when Peter kept them tucked away (out of sight, out of mind) and Neal pretended to meet with "contacts." Getting caught wasn't an issue. No one holds a candle to Neal's light touch. He'd have been home free if he'd been paying attention to his route.
Peter's cock grinds into Neal's, pulling a whimper out of him. He'd dreamt of this for so long. They'd danced around it, Peter nixing it due to the power difference - not the one on the job; Neal goading him, just thinking of what his body longs for, never considering the danger. He'd long ago given up but even now, even seeing the treacherous want in Peter's enthralling eyes, his body abandons all sense of self-preservation.
"Please, Peter." Neal writhes against him, searching for more friction.
"Oh no," Peter purrs like a threat, squeezes Neal's balls in his frightening grip. He sucks a possessive bruise into his collarbone, his own hips thrusting lazily against Neal's, his wings quivering above them .
"I would have taken you up there, if you'd just asked." Neal catches the double meaning and he thinks it unfair after all Peter has denied him, but his heart is racing and he dare not provoke the beast further. Peter licks along his chest, sharp teeth biting when Neal moves too much, soft puffs of heat warning Neal to stay put.
He opens Neal's fly. "But now... Well. You know that old saying about doing the crime... "
He peels Neal's tight khakis down, leaving scratches in his wake and Neal's hips jut upward, chasing after Peter's touch though fear paralyses the rest of him. The long strip of tattered shirt tightens around Neal's cock and balls. Peter shoves Neal's knees apart, kissing along the crease of his groin, greedy and demanding. He pulls his badge from his back pocket, placing it on the deck for Neal to see, pre-dawn ray glinting off the metal.
His words are whispered and seductive, chilling Neal to the bone. "You'll be doing your time on my watch now."