New York City was everything Neal remembered it being, and more. The lights were brighter, the crowds were bigger, and the people were louder. Or maybe it only seemed that way. He had been gone a long time, and now he was different.
Neal didn't flinch when the door opened. He picked up the glass of wine on the table and swirled it, taking in the aroma, but didn't take a drink. He liked the way it smelled. "How did you know I was back?"
Peter flipped the switch and light flooded the room. Neal looked at Peter, and he looked exactly the same as he had the last time Neal saw him. He might have even been wearing that exact same suit.
"June called," Peter said.
Neal nodded, and set down his glass. "I thought she might."
"Where the hell have you been?" Peter asked. "It's been two years. We found your tracker in the reservoir. Something never felt right about it. You completely vanished." He walked slowly closer, and stopped, only a few steps away. "You look..."
"Dashingly handsome?" Neal asked with a smile, but he wasn't really feeling it.
Neal laughed. "Gee, thanks. Are you going to arrest me?"
"Maybe. Are you going to tell me what happened?"
He looked at Peter for a long moment, then shrugged. "I died."
Peter stepped backwards, but he didn't look away. He had this look on his face that Neal couldn't quite read. The world had changed. Death wasn't so simple anymore, and everybody knew about it. Peter took a long slow breath.
"You... you're a vampire?"
"Can you arrest me if I'm dead?" Neal asked. "Vampires are all into this equal rights thing, so I guess that means we're still accountable for our actions, even the ones from our human lives. I'd really love to see a prison try and hold me now."
"Prison couldn't hold you then," Peter said.
Neal laughed. "Touché."
"Just dying. I was attacked, and I woke up in Jersey. I've spent the last two years working in a bar."
"A bar in Jersey?"
Neal stood. "It doesn't matter where. I'm here. I'm all grown up and ready to be on my own, and I'm here."
"It does matter," Peter said. "We missed you."
If Neal's heart could still beat, it would have been pounding. He had spend so much time thinking about what he would say and do when he finally saw Peter again. This wasn't his life anymore. At his core, he still was who he was, and all of his feelings, thoughts, and memories were a part of him, but it wasn't the same. He wasn't human.
"I missed you, too," Neal replied. "Being a vampire is kind of overrated."
"You killed people," Peter said. It wasn't a question, but more of an observation.
"A few, when I was first turned. Sometimes it's hard to control my urges."
"That's not new."
Neal smiled. "I'm better about it now. I don't want to hurt people. Mostly, I try to find those who want to be bitten. There are people who like it."
"Yeah, I watched a Dateline about that," Peter replied. "What about the bottled stuff?"
"It doesn't taste good. It's a pale imitation that serves the purpose of sustenance, but does nothing else." Neal nodded the wine glass. "I can't drink this anymore, but I'm still going to go for the best."
Peter shook his head. "Neal, you should have called. Sent an email. A postcard. Anything. We were worried -- I was worried. You could have let me know you were all right."
"I'm not all right! I'm dead! I'm a vampire!" The next thing Neal knew, his fangs were out and he had Peter pinned to the floor. "Do you know how many times I've thought about this? How much I've thought about biting you? You're the only person I really want to bite."
"You want to kill me?" Peter asked.
"No, I just -- I want a taste." Neal scraped his fangs down the side of Peter's throat. Peter was warm, and his heart was pounding, and Neal was fascinated with a little throbbing vein in his neck. That was when he realized that Peter wasn't afraid. He was aroused. Neal could smell it on him. "You're not scared."
Peter shook his head. "No. I trust you."
Neal's eyes widened, and he sank his fangs into Peter's neck. Peter made a noise, something like a whimper and a gasp, and Neal instantly became hard. He pulled out and pressed his mouth to the wound, letting the blood flow into his mouth. He licked at first, then sucked to prevent clotting, and relaxed his hold on Peter's arms. Peter shoved his hands into Neal's hair.
Neal drank. He sucked slowly, taking in the flavor. Peter didn't taste especially different from anyone else, but this felt different. It was everything he fantasized about for the last two years, and it was better. It was real.
Drinking blood was like drinking wine; it was about ritual and the experience. This experience was unlike anything else, with Peter breathing in his ear and stroking his hair, and smelling like sex, coffee, and rain. He could feel Peter's cock against his leg, and when he kissed the wound before running his tongue across it, Peter ground himself against Neal's hip. It was all Neal could do to not come in his pants.
No glass of wine had ever done that.
"Neal," Peter mumbled.
Neal scrambled off of him, and backed up against the table, retracting his fangs. "Shit. Shit, Peter, I'm sorry."
Peter sat up and put his hand over the wound, feeling it like he wasn't exactly sure what just happened. His collar was stained with blood. "It's okay," he said, sounding a little shaky. He stood and pointed toward the bathroom with his other hand. "I'm going to put a band-aid on this."
Wiping the blood off his chin with the back of his hand, Neal listened as Peter ran water from the sink and rustled around in the medicine cabinet for the bandages. Neal got to his feet and went to the bathroom door, leaning against the frame, watching him.
Peter looked up and caught Neal's eye in the mirror, and he looked a little surprised. "You have a reflection."
"Yeah," Neal replied. "Turns out that's not a thing. Peter, I'm--"
"Stop apologizing. It's bizarre."
Neal laughed and looked down at the floor. He looked at Peter's shoes, and they were definitely the same shoes Peter had two years ago. "I didn't mean to hurt you."
"You didn't," Peter said, and Neal raised his head. "I'm fine. A little dizzy."
"You said you trusted me, and I bit you."
Peter shrugged. "And you stopped when I got scared. You just proved the point, Neal." He took a deep breath and turned around. "You think I didn't know that you're a vampire? You vanished and I went looking for you, and I found you because that's what I do best."
"You found me?" Neal asked.
"So what were all those questions about? What happened, and where I've been? You knew."
Peter nodded. "I wanted you to tell me."
"And you wanted me to bite you?"
"I wasn't going to say no," Peter said.
Neal crossed his arms. "So, what? You have some kind of vampire kink now?"
"No, I have a... Neal Caffrey kink. Elizabeth too. It's incredibly annoying, especially since you haven't been here."
"You and Elizabeth."
Peter nodded. "Yeah."
"So you've just been waiting for me to come back."
"No, we've been living our lives and hoping that someday you'd come back." Peter took Neal's face in his hands. "We were hoping you'd still be who you were."
"It's a struggle," Neal replied, leaning into the warmth of Peter's hands. "I'm not human. I'm not always good at faking it, and you know how much I hate not being good at things."
Peter smiled. "Yeah, I do."
"And I'm going to want to bite you again."
"I thought you might." Peter kissed him, and Neal was home.