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Miles to Go

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The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
~Robert Frost

 

Someone was shaking his shoulder, and he didn't like it.

“Name? Date? Place?”

Neal groaned and shifted away from the soft but questioning voice. His head throbbed, and he had no intention of making it worse by opening his eyes.

“Hey!” A finger poked his ribs, and Neal squirmed, pushing himself back until he ran into a solid, warm chest.

“Whoa,” a different voice – this one deeper and male – said just behind his ear. “I've got you! Take it easy. It's okay.”

“Sweetie, can you open your eyes? Just for a minute. Please.”

He had a hard time denying that imploring tone of voice; his eyes cracked open. It was mostly dark with the only light coming from the full moon outside the open curtains.

Elizabeth smiled and placed a hand on his cheek, rubbing her thumb lightly over the tip of his nose and across his bruised and swollen cheekbone. “What's your name?”

“Neal,” he replied quietly, nuzzling her palm. Peter's hand snaked around his side to press against his stomach, gently holding him in place as Elizabeth flipped the light switch.

“Good. And the date?”

The lamp light was dimmed by a t-shirt that had been thrown over the shade. Neal had vague memories of a similar ritual being performed a few of times earlier that night. It had been way too bright at one point, and he'd lashed out once, caught between nightmare and cognizance. And Elizabeth kept changing the last question, so that he'd missed the answer a couple of times.

“Neal,” she said a little louder than she'd meant to, but his gaze had grown unfocused, foggy. “The date?”

He winced, but responded, “Wednesday, the 7th.”

“That's right. One more. Where are you?”

Neal smiled as his eyes met hers. “Home.”

Elizabeth let out a faint sob as she gently drew him into an embrace. Peter kissed the tender skin behind his earlobe and moved his arm to hug them both close. Neal closed his eyes and breathed in their combined scents as he drifted off feeling more secure that he had in a long, long time.

~Finis

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