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Quiet the Nerves

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Saturday was supposed to be a day of rest and relaxation, but Elizabeth had handed off a honey-do list before she'd hurried out the door for the Stowe/Huerta wedding. Peter spent the morning fixing the wobbly leg on her kitchen desk, changing out the dead light bulbs around the house, and cleaning up half the basement.

Then, he called it break time when the Yankees took the field for the first season game against the Orioles. He settled onto the couch with a beer and a bowl of corn nuts, and when the Yankees were ahead by seven in the third inning, he nodded off.

When Neal got home at half past two, he was carrying a paper grocery bag with all the necessary ingredients for the chocolate soufflé he was making that night. Elizabeth was planning on coq au vin for dinner, and he wanted to surprise her with the dessert.

He grinned when he saw Peter sprawled on the sofa with Satchmo curled up by his feet. The lab lifted his head when he saw Neal but didn't move from his spot, which meant he didn't need to go out yet.

Neal put away his supplies in the kitchen and then poured two glasses of lemonade. He took them into the living room and set them down before leaning over to kiss Peter awake. Peter's head was tipped back, so Neal pressed light pecks against his neck before capturing his lips for a true kiss.

Peter groaned as consciousness returned. There were soft lips against his, but that sensation immediately took a backseat to the throbbing ache behind his right eye that wrapped around to the back of his head and down his neck.

"You okay?" Neal's voice came from right by his ear and was followed by a warm hand on his forehead. "Peter?"

"Head hurts," he mumbled, clumsily pushing Neal's hand away without bothering to open his eyes.

It had been ages since he had a headache. He couldn't even remember the last time this had happened or what Elizabeth had done to make him feel better, but he really wished the pain would stop now. It was worse than any headache he'd ever had.

Neal's quiet footsteps headed away from him. Peter didn't know where he was going, and he chanced opening his eyes, but the bright sunlight streaming through the window pierced his brain and he quickly threw a forearm up to cover his face.

He'd just started to drift off again when a cold, wet cloth was draped over his forehead. Peter startled and gasped when the pain ratcheted up several degrees.

"Sorry, sorry," Neal whispered. "I didn't think you would have gone back to sleep."

"'S okay," Peter replied, because the cool cloth felt so good. Neal nudged Peter's arm away and moved the cloth to cover his eyes.

"Here's what we're going to do," Neal whispered. "Keep one hand up there to hold that in place, and I'm going to help you up to the bedroom. We'll take it slow. Keep your eyes closed."

It took several minutes, but Neal was a great leader. He stayed behind Peter on the stairs, counting off as they took them one at a time, and then steered him down the hallway and into the bedroom where he'd already pulled the blackout curtains. Elizabeth loved to sleep in on the weekends, so she'd invested in some great curtains.

He helped Peter change out of his jeans and into a pair of loose-fitting shorts. Then, Neal got him situated on the bed but didn't put a pillow under his head. "Give me a minute. I have an idea."

Peter could hear the rustling of Neal changing his own clothes and then the bed dipped to the side and above him. Neal slid his hands under Peter's neck and shoulders. "Come here. Put your head in my lap."

His eyes popped open, but he couldn't really see Neal's face in the darkness of the room. "Neal, I don't really feel-"

"Not like that." Neal actually rolled his eyes at him. "I know what to do to make you feel better. Slide over here and give me your hands."

Peter raised an eyebrow but decided that he'd give anything a shot once, if it stopped the nagging agony in his brain. He gingerly positioned himself on his back with his head on a small pillow in Neal's lap. Then, he raised his hands and let Neal take them.

"Close your eyes and take deep breaths. Concentrate on keeping your breathing even."

Neal started to rub the skin between Peter's thumbs and forefingers in firm, steady circles. Peter thought he felt the pain backing off already, but he couldn't be sure. Especially not with Neal rubbing his hands. How on earth was that going to work anyway?

"Peter. Relax. Let your mind go blank and concentrate on your breathing. Sometimes it helps to do a three count. 1, 2, 3, breathe in. 1, 2, 3, breathe out."

He kept the pressure on Peter's hands until Peter was more relaxed. Then, Neal gently placed his hands on his stomach and started rubbing gentle, but firm circles in the skin between Peter's eyebrows. "Keep breathing," Neal said softly. Within a minute, he was humming, and then he started to softly sing, "Des yeux qui font baisser les miens, Un rire qui se perd sur sa bouche-"

"Is that Fren-"

Neal shushed him and reminded him to breathe as he kept a steady pressure above the bridge of Peter's nose. Since he was sure he could feel the pain diminishing, Peter turned his attention back to his breathing while Neal started to sing again.

"Voilà le portrait sans retouche, De l’homme auquel j’appartiens." Neal worked Peter's scalp for a moment, lightly massaging back until his fingers were at the base of Peter's skull, in the center. He held pressure there for a while as he hummed and continued to sing, "Quand il me prend dans ses bras, Il me parle tout bas, Je vois la vie en rose."

Peter breathed a sigh of relief as the pain faded to a less than a bothersome ache. Neal's fingers were just as deft as Peter had guessed them to be – probably even more so than he'd given his friend and lover credit for in the past.

Neal's fingers moved so that two fingers were rubbing the back of his neck, just below where he'd been applying pressure. He continued his song while he worked, " Il me dit des mots d’amour, Des mots de tous les jours, Et ça me fait quelque chose."

By the time, he leaned over and pressed a kiss to Peter's forehead, the pain had faded almost completely.

"Better?" Neal whispered.

"Mmhmm," Peter murmured, reaching up to pull Neal's head down further so that he could give him a proper kiss on the lips. It was a strange sensation with Neal's lips being upside down, but it was one that Peter wanted to explore further at another time.

Neal smiled against his mouth when they parted for air, and then he kissed the bridge of Peter's nose where he'd been massaging earlier. "I'll get you a glass of water, and then you should rest for a while."

Peter made a noise of protest when Neal gently lifted his head and placed it on a pillow so that he could get a glass of water. When he came back to bed, he made sure that Peter drank the whole thing before letting him lay back against the pillows.

"Lay down with me?" Peter gripped Neal's wrist so that he couldn't leave while Neal was using his other hand to set the empty glass on the nightstand.

Neal grinned down at him as he considered it for a moment before stretching out beside Peter's long, muscular body. "Just for a little while. I want to surprise El with dessert tonight."

Peter pulled Neal closer and felt the younger man rest his head on Peter's shoulder. He leaned his own head in that direction and felt Neal's hair tickling his cheek and nose. "You have an amazing voice. That was French, right?"

"Yes. La Vie En Rose." Neal entwined their fingers on Peter's chest and squeezed them. "Get some sleep, Peter. Please. I don't like to see you in pain."

"Tell me what the song means," Peter replied.

"And then you'll sleep?"

"Yes."

"It's describing the man the singer loves. He has a steady gaze and a gorgeous smile and makes her see the world in a completely different way." Neal kissed Peter's jaw, just under his ear and whispered, "Just like the man I love."

"Me too," Peter replied. "Me too."

~Finis

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