Peter was the first to go. It was a heart attack at age 63. He'd lived a long, happy life with Elizabeth and Neal, though retirement had done little more than bore him. He'd shown Neal the joys of baseball, taking him to Yankee Stadium whenever Neal would agree to go, and he'd tried every healthy thing Elizabeth had cooked for them. That hadn't stopped his ticker from failing, but he loved her for trying.
Elizabeth went peacefully in her sleep after a battle with cancer that she'd only put up with because Neal was there at her side. If she hadn't had him, she would have joined Peter much sooner. She loved Neal, loved all the paintings and sculptures he'd made for her through the years, loved that he'd sat by her side in the hospital and told her fantastical stories about his life on the run that she suspected were at least 80% true. As she slipped away, she'd felt him take her hand, brush a kiss across her lips, and whisper his love to her.
Neal had puttered around the townhouse in Brooklyn for a couple of months, with only the ghosts of his loves to keep him company. He developed a cold late in December the same year that El passed, which had quickly turned into pneumonia. Neal's lungs weren't healthy to begin with – too many years of forging any number of articles in poorly ventilated storage facilities – and they failed him with a shuddering rattle and a wheeze. Not the most elegant way to go, which Neal was perturbed by, but it was done.
There wasn't a bright light or a chorus of angels. When Neal opened his eyes next, he was standing in Central Park in perfect, sunny 72 degree weather. Peter and Elizabeth, exactly as he remembered them when they had sat in this very park and agreed to a polyamorous relationship that had carried them all through a lot of ups and downs, were sitting on a picnic blanket under a red oak. They both looked up at the same time and smiled at him.
“It's about damn time.” Peter beckoned him over with a wave of his hand.
“We've been waiting for you,” Elizabeth added, when he joined them on the blanket.
He grinned and reached for both of them at the same time, kissing Elizabeth while Peter's arms wrapped around both of them. He'd wished for nothing more, in his last few months, than to spend eternity with them.
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