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If That's All We Have

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The first time Elizabeth left America, she was nineteen and her then-boyfriend had talked her into a Mexican booze cruise. He ended up seasick for most of the trip, leaving her alone to explore their ports of call, and she fell in love with the heat and the waves and the solitude of the ocean. She and Peter do most of their vacationing in upper New York, when his job permits. Standing on the beach in Belize, though, Peter's arms around her, she feels like a teenager again. She runs into the water fully clothed and pulls Peter with her.


Elizabeth loves to cook. This is a relatively new development, and she tracks it directly to the day when she and Peter moved into a house with a spacious kitchen. They'd lived in tiny walk-ups for years, and she'd mastered the art of the five-minute meal, but no further. When she first moved to New York, she'd sworn she'd never leave for the suburbs, but apparently she's now domesticated enough to be won over by a mixer stand. Finally the kitchen is big enough for Peter to hover, tasting dishes that aren't ready yet, and she's always trying something new.


Normally Elizabeth tries to transcend cliché, but when it comes to loving New York City, she's had to accept her fate gracefully. When she tries to explain it, she sputters and waves her hands and uses words like energy and vibe. She complains about expense and crowds and rudeness and the subway breaking down, but she loves it all. June's house is all of her favourite things about the city: it's elegant, the view is to die for, and June is there with an arched eyebrow to remind her that in New York, nothing is as simple as it seems.


Peter makes Elizabeth happy, and that's why she married him. It wasn't love at first sight – he was so sweet and goofy and earnest, trying to work up the nerve to ask her out, that she played along just for fun. She kept saying yes because of his crooked smile. It took three dates before she discovered his serious side and five before she realized how sexy he was, but by then she'd fallen in love with the way she laughed when he was around, and that he looked at her like no one else existed was just a bonus.


Elizabeth named the dog Satchmo because the first song she and Peter ever danced to was Louis Armstrong's "When You're Smiling." Even she finds this so sickeningly sweet that she never admits it, not even to Peter, who probably doesn't remember their first dance anyway. Most of the time she doesn't think about it; Satchmo is Satchmo whether he's learned a new trick or puked on the carpet. But some days, his pure doggy joy reminds her how much she loves her husband and her life, and she has to go find Peter and kiss him till they're both smiling.


Elizabeth fell into party planning by accident. The art gallery she worked for couldn't afford to hire anyone to organize their events, and as she moved from employee to assistant manager to manager she shouldered more of the responsibility. She took to people-wrangling faster than she'd ever taken to art-wrangling, and when she left the gallery it was with a thick folder of contacts and a cheeky smile to hide her steel backbone. "You're better organized than the Agency," Peter told her, and she said, "That isn't hard," and ducked as he swung a pillow at her with mock anger.


One of Elizabeth's favourite things about her job is the chance it gives her to wear fabulous clothes. Clients need to trust her style, so she walks a fine line between cutting-edge and modern classic. It's like a game, trying to decide what to wear to present to this museum's board or that start-up's team. Not until Neal does she find someone with that same sense of stylistic adventure. It only takes them a week before they discover their mutual desire to rework Peter's entire wardrobe. "He won't have a chance against both of us," Neal says, and she laughs.


Elizabeth is proud of Peter's job, and tired of it, and worried about it, and annoyed by it, sometimes all in one day. She'd rather he never had to carry a gun again, but the work captivates him, and she wouldn't try to take that away. When Neal shows up she suddenly discovers the side of Peter that likes flirting with the rules instead of blindly obeying. It's one of many revelations Neal has brought into their life. She relaxes, then; Peter won't take it too far, but now she doesn't have to worry about him getting bored – or boring.


At first, Neal is a conundrum, even his emotional vulnerabilities carefully calculated. She lets herself be charmed, needing to understand Peter's fascination with him, and only slowly realizes that Neal has been going through the same process. They circle around Peter like satellites until suddenly Elizabeth discovers that Neal is part of them and she can't imagine life without him. She says as much to Peter and then they both tell Neal, and if Elizabeth ever felt ignored or abandoned in favour of the Caffrey file, Neal's face as he touches her and Peter more than makes up for it.


The tattoo is a leftover from her wild days - her wilder days, she supposes now. She's never regretted it, although she wishes that she had a better story to it than just that it was a flower, and flowers symbolized new life, and she'd been eighteen and drunk with freedom. Still, she fondly remembers Peter's amusement when he saw it, and the heat of his mouth on her skin. When Neal bares her shoulder for the first time, he pauses and touches it gently. "A daisy," he murmurs. "True love conquers all," and kisses her just where Peter had.