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Not Another Lingering Hand

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It started with a bottle of wine.

Peter reached for the empty bottle just as Neal did. Their fingers brushed, but instead of pulling away, Peter wrapped his hand securely around the neck.

"I'll clean up," Peter said. "Why don't you make some coffee?"

Neal stepped back and smiled. "Okay," he agreed easily and walked into the kitchen.

Peter followed him a few moments later, the empty bottle grasped in his hand and a stack of dishes cradled in the crook of his elbow, resting against his body. He set the bottle down on the counter and moved the dishes into the sink. He glanced over his shoulder at Neal. "The decaf is--"

"I know where it is," Neal replied. He pulled the glass pot from the coffee maker and side-stepped next to Peter. Their arms bumped and he smiled up at Peter with shining eyes. "I do water first."

"I do coffee first," Peter said, returning the smile. "We're lucky this partnership doesn't rely on making coffee."

"When I started working with you, I was actually surprised at how much it did," Neal said. He turned on the water and starting filling the pot. "Thanks for inviting me over. I had a great time."

Peter breathed in the scent of Neal's cologne, all spicy and warm. "I'm glad. We love having you here."

Neal lifted an eyebrow, and Peter opened his mouth to backpedal. He'd only meant here as in New York, as in a law-abiding citizen working with the FBI. He certainly hadn't meant in his home, having a cozy dinner with his wife.

Except that was exactly what he had meant.

Instead of speaking, however, Peter just stood there with his mouth open, staring at Neal. Neal stared back, the laughter gone from his eyes, but replaced with something else. Was that confusion or lust? Peter thought he should be able to tell the difference. He turned his body a little and leaned in closer. He could have sworn Neal was tilting his chin up to meet him when they both pulled away suddenly at the sound of Elizabeth walking down the stairs.

Neal hastily set aside the overflowing coffeepot. "Bathroom's free," he said, stepping back. "The running water always does it."

Peter watched as Neal exited, and waited until Elizabeth joined him in the kitchen. "I almost kissed Neal," he blurted before she could even say anything.

"What stopped you?" she asked. She leaned against the counter and looked up at him. "I hope it wasn't me."

It had been, but not in the way she meant. The move had been completely Elizabeth-sanctioned. They'd discussed this time and time again, their feelings for Neal. They were so comfortable with him, it seemed almost natural to move that to the bedroom, and into their lives. She would have kissed him if she'd had the opportunity and Peter would have been grateful to let Elizabeth take the first move.

"We got startled," Peter replied. "But I think he wanted to do it. Do you think maybe he's a little drunk? How much did he have? I don't want to take advantage."

"He's not drunk," Elizabeth replied. Hope blossomed in her eyes as she grinned and took Peter's hands. "We should talk to him."

Peter nodded and lifted his eyes to the ceiling when he heard the sound of the floorboards creaking under Neal's feet as he walked toward the staircase. "We should," he said. He released Elizabeth's hands and stalked out of the kitchen, resolve filling him completely. They weren't going to wait another minute. There weren't going to be anymore near misses or hands lingering on a shoulder just a moment too long.

He met Neal at the foot of the stairs and without a word -- and he'd really meant to say something -- he grabbed Neal and kissed him. There was hesitation from Neal and a blind panic suddenly hit Peter. Had he read the signs wrong? But, no, it was all worth it when Neal groaned and wrapped his arms around Peter's body. All of the heat and sparks between them blended together into one firework. Peter wasn't sure if he could ever let go.

Peter's chest heaved when he pulled back, trying to catch his breath. He kept a hand on Neal, still clinging to him as he asked, "El?" He started to turn around to see where she was, but she placed a hand on his back.

"Right here," she said, stepping forward. Her cheeks were already flushed with arousal when she gazed up at Neal.

Finally, Peter stepped back, knowing that El had been waiting for this just as long as he had. There'd be time for both of them.

Neal grinned and reached for her, pulling her close to him, much like Peter had done to him, and kissed her. She whimpered when their lips met and his fingers tangled in her hair.

Peter wondered for a moment if he should feel jealousy of some kind, but all he felt was ease -- and lust. This felt so right.

When their kiss ended, Neal tilted his head back, smiling at the ceiling. "You have no idea how long I've wanted to do that," he said breathlessly.

"Oh, I think we do," Elizabeth replied.

Neal lowered his gaze and Peter could see how swollen and red his lips were just from a couple of kisses. Did that always happen for Neal? How swollen would his lips get during other activities?

"Peter, I--" Neal started, but Peter cut him off with another kiss.

"Upstairs," Peter said, barely recognizing the throaty growl in his own voice.

In the bedroom, he pushed Neal down onto the bed, but then stood back, allowing Elizabeth to crawl on top of him. She hiked her skirt up around her thighs and straddled him. Her hands slid up Neal's exposed throat, and Peter could see Neal already writhing beneath her.

Peter reached down and adjusted the front of his pants just as Neal glanced over at him. A grin spread across Neal's face.

"Is this just for tonight?" he asked. "A little love affair?"

Just for tonight? They were supposed to give him up in the morning after they'd finally gotten him? Was that all it was to Neal, or was he protecting himself by expecting the worst? Peter knelt on the bed next to his partner and his wife. He grabbed Neal's hand, their fingers lacing together like they'd been holding hands for years.

"No," Peter said, his mouth suddenly too dry to say anything else.

Elizabeth leaned down and pressed her lips to Neal's neck. "It's not an affair, honey," she said, lifting her face to look at him. "It's love. Just love."

Neal exhaled slowly and smiled. Not his smirk or his grin, but a peaceful smile. "Oh," he said, and squeezed Peter's hand. His other hand cupped Elizabeth's face as he gazed up at her. "Good. Now that's cleared up." He raised his face and kissed Elizabeth.

Yes, Peter thought as he unbuckled his belt with one hand. It's good.