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Lies the Color of Your Crimes

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"Peter—" Neal reaches out a hand, but Peter isn't even looking at him. He's standing angled away from Neal with his head down and his hands at his waist.

"I don't want to talk about it." Peter straightens up and turns fully away from him. He tips his head back and takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. "We're going to go back to the bureau; I'm going to lie to my boss who has put his ass on the line for me time and time again and then, I'm going to drop you off at June's. During this time, you will not say a single word, got it?"

Neal doesn't say a word.

Peter nods and walks out of the bank without a backwards glance. Neal follows him.

The ride back to the bureau is excruciating. Peter focuses all his energy on driving, hands planted carefully on the steering wheel and eyes trained on the road. Neal spends the time biting his lower lip and sneaking glances at Peter's profile.

Peter's lips are clamped together tightly, a thin line on his craggy face and Neal feels his disappointment like a splinter in his thumb. He fights the urge to sigh and wonders just what he was thinking.

Cruz doesn't smile at him when he walks through the door and Jones shakes his head sadly. Peter's team is close-knit and it's been a long time since Neal has felt like an outsider.

Hughes barks, "Did you find it?"

Peter says, "Yeah," but he doesn't sound happy about it.

The lines on Hughes' forehead deepen, but he only says, "Good work, Burke. Caffrey."

"Boss," Jones starts and is cut off as Peter holds up a hand for silence.

"Tomorrow. I'm going to go home and go to sleep and come back to work tomorrow. Please, feel free to do the same."

Peter heads toward the elevators and Neal follows him silently. His skin feels too tight like he might burst if he doesn't open his mouth and make this right. Time to brood over Neal's missteps, okay, foolish mistakes, is only going to make Peter angrier and he doesn't think Elizabeth is going to take his side on this one. She's made her position clear in the past; her job is not to protect Neal's ass when he's clearly at fault.

Neal gets out of the car when Peter pulls up to June's, but Peter makes no move to get out just waits for Neal to shut the door.


Peter reaches over to pull the door out of Neal's hand. "Goodnight, Neal." He shuts the door and leaves Neal staring after the car.

Moz is waiting for him in his room and he looks up with a smile, colorful ascot ever present beneath his chin. His grin winks out when he catches sight of Neal's face. "What's wrong?

Neal places his coat delicately over the back of a chair. "Just my illustrious past coming back to bite me in the ass."

"Oh, is daddy mad at you?" He takes a sip of wine and turns back to the television.

"Not funny, Moz." Neal sits down on the couch beside him and it's been years since he's chewed on his fingernails, but the desire is strong.

Moz looks at him, head tilted to the side. "You are genuinely upset. What happened?"

"I might have misled Peter a little bit about a couple of forgeries I've done in the past and in the process indirectly implicated a fellow artist."

"How'd he find out you weren't exactly telling the truth?"

Neal stares blankly at the television screen as ninjas drop from the roof of an abandoned warehouse and proceed to kick ass all over the place. Moz and his love of badly subtitled action films. "He looked at me."

"Ouch." Moz scrunches up his nose. "You are so fucked."

"I wish," Neal says thoughtlessly and everything grinds to a halt. His chest constricts and his throat swells shut with panic.

Moz says, "Completely fucked," and Neal could not agree more.

Neal wakes up to a message from Peter telling him to take the day off and his heart plummets.

He spends thirty minutes tracking Elizabeth down because she's screening his calls and shows up at Gotham Hall. He gains entrance to the ballroom by pretending that this is the only place he's meant to be.

Elizabeth rolls her eyes when she sees him leaning against a wall, whispers something to the gaggle of people surrounding her and makes her way over to him. She crosses her arms under her breasts and says, "I don't have all day." She looks adorable, adorably pissed off with her narrowed eyes and turned up nose. She reminds him of a kitten, a tiny, fluffy kitten with sharp claws.

"I'm sorry," he says. "I didn't mean to let things spiral out of control."

"That's what lies do, Neal." She taps her foot impatiently. "You're apologizing to the wrong person."

"Peter's not speaking to me." Neal had tried to call Peter's phone before he tried Elizabeth's.

"I'm not your go-between."

Neal says, "I know."

She relaxes enough to unfold her arms. "Peter's very upset."

He nods. "I'm really sorry." Neal grins at her. "How do you handle Peter when he's upset?"

She grins back at him impishly. "Very well."

He laughs, startled, and his eyes drop for just a moment, but it's enough for Elizabeth to reach out and touch his arm softly and say, "Oh, Neal."

The room for all its spaciousness suddenly seems too small. He pastes on a grin and shakes his head. "Fresh air has gone to my head a little bit."

Elizabeth peers up at him, all wide blue eyes and downturned, pink lips, but she only says, "I'll talk to Peter."

Neal says, "Thank you," very politely and with extreme gratitude before he heads back to June's and spends the rest of the day drinking wine on an empty stomach.

He's splayed out on the floor on his back, shirtless, empty wine bottle by his head when the maid shows Peter in. He doesn't move; the ceiling is infinitely interesting.

Peter says, "Neal," and he still sounds disappointed. Well, fuck him.

Neal says, "Peter," and listens to the clomp of Peter's shoes as he walks over to him and crouches down beside his head.

Peter's eyes aren't blue, his hair is more brown than black and he has more lines on his face than he should for his age and Neal wants to kiss him more than he wants the tracker off his ankle.

"You're going to be in so much pain tomorrow," Peter says.

Neal says, "I'm sorry. I didn't want you to be mad at me."

"So, you decided to lie to me?"

"Not smart, I know."

"Can you stand up?"

"Help me?" Neal holds his hand up.

Peter wraps a broad hand around Neal's forearm and hauls him to his feet. The room swims alarmingly for a moment and he sways into Peter's body. Peter puts an arm around him to steady him and they stand there facing each other, breathing the same air.

Neal breaks the eye contact and reaches up to fix Peter's collar. Peter doesn't seem to care much for his appearance. "Does this mean I'm forgiven?"

"Absolutely not," Peter says and his voice rumbles low in his chest.

"Elizabeth said," Neal trails off and it seems like his face is much closer to Peter's than it was a moment ago.

"What did El say?" Peter's voice is hushed.

Neal doesn't answer because he's too busy trying to coax open Peter's mouth with his tongue. Peter doesn't taste like anything in particular, but suddenly Neal is ravenous.

He wraps his arms around Peter's neck and clings to him, dipping his tongue in and out teasingly until Peter clutches him close, one hand sliding into his hair to hold his head steady.

Peter catches the tip of Neal's tongue between his teeth and sucks on it gently. Neal shivers and Peter eases him back, breaking the kiss.

Neal keeps his eyes closed and Peter traces his fingertips over Neal's damp mouth. "You need to get some sleep."

"Yeah," Neal says, "sleep." He steps back and Peter keeps a hand on him until he's sure Neal won't fall over.

Peter says, "I'll see you in the morning," and his hand drops from Neal's shoulder.

"Of course," Neal says belatedly to Peter's retreating back. The door closes quietly behind him and Neal sinks back down to the floor.