hoosierbitch: (Default)
[personal profile] hoosierbitch
Two days before the royal performance he comes home to find Elizabeth standing stock-still in the doorway of their bedroom. “What’s going on?”

“Peter – did you remember our anniversary this year?”

“…oh, Jesus. El, I swear, I meant to, I honestly did, I had a whole plan – ”

“Was this part of your plan?” She moves to the side and he steps into the bedroom.

There’s a beautiful brocade dress laying across their bed. A deep crimson velvet gown, with a long frilled collar. Expensive and sumptuous, exactly the kind of dress Elizabeth has been lusting after for months, exactly the kind of dress Neal had insisted he buy for Elizabeth. Peter knew he had a note somewhere in his desk reminding him about the date, and a list of tailors that Neal’s landlady vouched for, but he’s – he’s been a bit distracted, of late.

“It was Neal,” he whispers.

There’s a paper heart tucked underneath the collar of the dress. He takes it out and unfolds it carefully, Elizabeth reading it over his shoulder. It’s written in Neal’s painstakingly careful hand (a few letters twisted around or missing lines, but legible). Look in your purse. He checks it and finds a few papers. Neal had paid for the dress with money from Peter’s account but given them a receipt for the full value of the purchase should they decide that they couldn’t afford it, and a ticket with the time for a reservation with a tailor to get the dress fitted. All of the receipts are folded into flowers.

“He broke into our house, took your money, then broke in again to give me a present? Is this – Peter, is he trying to play some sort of game? Some sort of challenge for your affections?”

The gown is beautiful, the folded flowers a delicate, thoughtful bouquet in the palm of his hand. “I think he’s apologizing.”

“Peter – how long have you been lying to me?” Her voice is less steady but her face is still cold. Aloof. Unfamiliar. “How long have you been unhappy with what we have?”

“I have never been unhappy with you,” he says, and she scoffs. “El. There hasn’t been a single morning since I met you that I haven’t woken up and known how incredibly lucky I am to have you in my life.”

“Then why? Do you love me so little? Or him so much?”

No! El, it’s not – I don’t love you any less for loving him.” It’s not a truth he’d realized before. “I’m not unhappy, not with you and not with our life, I just – ” he searches for the words and realizes he doesn’t even know what he’s trying to articulate. “I want you both,” he finishes awkwardly. “Or – or I did, I mean, but I don’t, not anymore.” It may be a lie but it’s one he’s going to have to start believing, so he lets it stand.

“Can I trust you?” she asks.

He doesn’t know. He knows what he wants to say – he wants to promise her that he’ll never screw up that badly ever again, wants to kiss her, her lips and hands and feet, wants to get down on one knee and start all over again. But over the past weeks he’s learned a lot of new things about himself. About his heart and body and the cracks in his self-control.

“I don’t know.” Because he never would have thought that he’d do what he did. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do. “I’m going to try,” he continues. “I’m going to try every day of my life that you’ll let me to make it up to you. To make up for having hurt you so badly. Please,” he whispers. “Give me a chance to try and fix this.”

She studies his face in silence. “I don’t understand why you did what you did,” she says. “And I’m trying to understand, Peter, I really am, but I just – I just can’t.” He braces himself against the words he’s been dreading over the past week. “I need more time,” she says, and he bites the inside of his cheek to stifle his relief that she hasn’t given up on him.

“Take as much time as you need,” he says, voice hoarse. “Thank you,” he says. For the time and the talk and the chance to redeem himself.

“Hmm.” Her frown doesn’t disappear, but she starts tracing her fingers over the detail work on the bodice of the gown. “Don’t think that Neal’s gift is going to make me forget the fact that you haven’t done a thing,” she says drily.

“I swear, I will make it up to you.”

“I’m sure you will.”

“So you want to keep it, then?” He gestures towards the dress with the hand full of receipts. “I can just toss these in the fireplace, if so.”

“I think I’ll keep them,” she says, taking the handful of blossoms from him. “But – I think this one was meant for you.” She tucks the folded heart into his pocket.

Their final performance is the most important. They pack up their costumes, their makeup and props, the canvas backdrops, and go to the palace. The queen files in, a silence falls over the room, and two actors dressed in guard outfits enter the stage.

Peter’s stomach is in knots. El stands by his side the entire time, holding his hand and running a soothing hand down his tense back. He’s never been comfortable in these circles, unnerved by the amount of finery and frippery and customs he doesn’t know to observe. He sweats through the performance, and when it’s over, the queen applauds. Every muscle in his body goes limp with relief.

The reception is held in one of the palace ballrooms. El was one of the primary organizers, so for the rest of the night, he hangs on her arm and supports her. Nods at the appropriate times, shakes hands and smiles stiffly, a glass of expensive wine untouched in his hand. Ever since that night with Neal, he’s lost his taste for it.

The actors join the crowd after about half an hour, having cleaned up the set and their belongings and changed into more appropriate garb. Neal (the first person his eyes seek out, despite the fact that he tells himself not to) is dressed, as always, in expensive but outdated clothes. He does his best not to pay attention, but he catches the look on Neal’s face as he finds himself alone in an unfamiliar crowd.

“He’s never been around this much nobility before, has he?”

“He might have robbed some of their estates, but other than that, I doubt it.” Neal could play a noble with the best of them (and, indeed, he’s been doing a passable impression thus far) but he’s out of his element. Surreptitiously watching the people around him for cues on how to shake hands, who to bow to, how loudly to speak. And no amount of acting can hide the fact that he just looks different. His clothes, his grace, the edge of nerves hidden under a thick layer of charm.

“He’s a brilliant actor,” El murmurs, leaning against his side, watching Neal take a breath to compose himself and reenter the fray. “How do you know he wasn’t pretending when he was with you?”

“I suppose I don’t,” he says, turning away so he won’t have to watch Neal pretend that he doesn’t care that he’s alone.

“I think you do,” El says, her hand a comfortable weight on the crook of his elbow. “I think maybe you do.” He follows the line of her gaze to Neal, who’s staring back at them, pain and envy and defeat obvious in his expression. Neal gives them a small, twisted smile when he meets their gaze, and then bows his head and walks away.

“You’ve created quite the mess,” she says, and he nods, head bowed. “Peter – did you mean what you said, before?”

“When I said what?”

Her eyes are soft, gentle; he wants to remind her that he doesn’t deserve her kindness. “Did you mean it when you said that you don’t love me any less by loving Neal? That if you have him, it doesn’t mean you’ll let me go?”

“My hunger for you,” he whispers, “increases with every moment you are near me.”

She smiles. “You don’t have to quote Shakespeare to woo me.” She kisses him, a chaste press of her lips against the side of his mouth. He’s missed that. Missed her. “If you’re wrong,” she says, “I will fight Neal for every scrap of your affection, for every moment of your time. And Peter? I will win. But if you’re right – ” he feels as though his heart has frozen in his body. “Then you have my blessing.” He should say no.

“Are you sure?” Because he’s certainly not. He’s not sure about any of this. The one thing his mistakes have taught him is that he needs to be more careful. But Elizabeth has always known his heart better than he does, she’s never steered them wrong before. Could this truly be the way to get back on course?

“If he loves you the same way you love him,” she says. “If he loves you even half as much as I do – then I think perhaps we can make this work.” He kisses her because he can’t bear not to, not for another second. “I won’t lose you,” she says.

“I love you,” he promises, and she nods and kisses him back and he thinks about the mess his life has become, how it’s finally beginning to make sense again.

He waits.

He waits three days to give Elizabeth time to change her mind, to give himself time to think it through, to let it sink in that the dream he’s been denying himself may be obtainable. He waits three days and then he gets up, walks Satchmeaux, kisses his wife, and goes to Neal Caffrey’s apartment. Rehearsals for Twelfth Night start tomorrow and he’s crossing his fingers hoping that Neal will be home working on the new script. He doesn’t think he can wait any longer.

When he knocks on the door June’s the one who answers. He’s met her a few times when he walked Neal home, or picked him up in the morning. She blocks the entrance to her house with her body and glares up at him. “I’m – I’m here to see Neal?”

She doesn’t move. “Neal is a very special young man,” she says, her fingernails tapping an even pattern on the doorframe.

“I am aware of that.”

“He is very important to me.”

“He’s important to me, too,” he tells her.

“If you hurt him,” she says, and he hadn’t ever thought of June as scary before but he’s quickly revising his opinion, “I will hunt you down and make you regret it every day for the rest of your life. Have I made myself clear?” He swallows and nods. “Good. He’s upstairs. You know the way.”

He’s not nervous. Walking up the stairs to Neal’s apartment. His heart beats steadily in his chest, his breath is even, he knows what conclusions he and El have come to but he has no idea what Neal feels anymore. If he can forgive Peter the way El had, if he’s willing to share the same way she is.

He squares his shoulders and knocks three times on the door. When Neal answers Peter opens his mouth and realizes that he has no idea what to say. No glib openers or fancy quotes or apologies that will ever be enough to cover the damage he’s caused, the hurt he inflicted.

“Hello,” Neal says, after an awkward pause.


Neal waits and Peter opens his mouth a few times, hoping that something eloquent will emerge. Nothing does.

“Um – did you come here to fire me?” Neal asks, his face scrunched up in confusion. “Because if you are, I’d really prefer if you’d just say it – ”

“Oh, god, no – nothing like that. No way am I going to go through casting someone else, I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to find you as quickly as I did.”

Neal’s smile is small but bright. “So what are you here for, then?”

“To apologize,” Peter says. “For everything. I never should have done what I did.”

It’s like a curtain’s been drawn over Neal’s face, he goes expressionless so quickly. “Right. Apology accepted. You can get rid of whatever guilt you’ve been carrying around, and go on with your life.”

He has to stick his foot in the door to keep Neal from shutting it on him. “No, Neal, that’s not – ” he groans. “Can I please come in? It might take me a little bit to figure out how to say this.”

“How to say what?” Neal asks, not budging from the doorway.

“That I like you,” Peter growls.

Neal’s lip curls into a nasty smirk. “So, what – you’re here to see if I’ll keep it a secret? You can get your rocks off, and I’ll – ”

“I want you in my life,” he interrupts, because the scorn and pain in Neal’s voice is unbearable. “In whatever way you’ll have me. No more lies, no sneaking around behind Elizabeth’s back. Will is writing a role for you that’s going to make you a star. My wife is setting a place at our table for you. And I’m – I’m offering – well. Me,” he says, with a shrug and a wince. “And that’s – that’s the best I’ve got. If you want it.”

Neal kisses him. Quickly, urgently, his thin body pressed up against Peter’s, his soft lips against Peter’s mouth – and it’s everything he hadn’t known he wanted. Real and awkward and he wants to kiss Neal for hours, forever, wants to run his hands over Neal’s body and feel the muscles and curves and planes that he’s been staring at for weeks. It’s messy and fast and Neal pulls back with a gasp, it seems impossible that they aren’t still kissing.

“Is Elizabeth – I don’t want to hurt her, I swear, I’ll stop right now if that’s what’s going to happen – ”

He interrupts Neal this time. Drags his lower lip between his teeth, tangles his hands in the soft curls of Neal’s hair. “We’re not hurting her,” he whispers when he pulls back to breathe. “I want you,” he whispers, and Neal pulls him inside his apartment, kisses him until they’re both breathless and then kisses him some more.

Neal is pale and thin and beautiful, his trust a gift more delicate than any paper heart, and Peter vows to be as careful with it as he can.

He frames the poster he’d saved from Neal’s first performance and hangs it next to the flyer from Hamlet. El buys a vase and keeps her growing collection of paper flowers in it. Neal plays a host of heroines and then heroes as he grows older, and at some point in every performance he turns his face to the audience and meets Peter’s gaze.

It’s not smooth or funny or tragic, not perfect and not an ending, but Peter’s grateful for it nonetheless. 

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-05 04:01 am (UTC)
ursula4x: Neal Caffrey (Default)
From: [personal profile] ursula4x
That was beautiful. What a brilliant request and what a brilliant response. This is your finest work yet.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-05 02:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rain-dancer84.livejournal.com
This is absolutely wonderful. I love the way that you have worked canon into Shakespeare's world. "It’s not smooth or funny or tragic, not perfect and not an ending, but Peter’s grateful for it nonetheless." This had me in tears. Thank you.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-24 04:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
*gives you love and tissues*

Thank you so much! ♥ ♥ ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-05 03:09 am (UTC)
elrhiarhodan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elrhiarhodan
OH MY GOD. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I was at a party and checked my email and saw this posted and I wanted to go home and read it right away. There is so much to love and I need to read it again and again and again to capture it all.

I will comment more coherently tomorrow and we need to discuss podfic'ing this because it is more than I could have ever hoped and dreamed of. If I ever, ever, ever hear to say you don't do plot, I'm going to come over and beat you with your own keyboard, darling.

I am awed that you wrote this for me. I am humbled and honored and beyond coherent thought.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-26 03:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
You are so welcome! And thank YOU for the super-generous donation, you lovely lady!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-05 03:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ultracape.livejournal.com
This was amazing. Thank you for writing it.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-26 03:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
Thank you so much, I'm so thrilled that you liked it. ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-05 04:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] usakeh.livejournal.com
Absolutely amazing. This is beautiful writing combined with extraordinary creativity, thus yielding an immensely absorbing and satisfying read. Thank you for sharing this with us.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-26 03:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
Thank you so, so much! I really appreciate the feedback, darling! ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-05 06:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] umbralillium.livejournal.com
Firstly, I love you so much for choosing Hamlet. It was the first Shakespeare play I ever read and is my favorite, so far (I've only read Hamlet and King Lear).

Secondly, Neal as Ophelia? DO WANT. I also think he'd be a superb Horatio or Hamlet.

Thirdly, JUNE! *LOVES* I could definitely see her defending Neal like that on the actual show, so props to you.

Fourthly, I like the detail of Neal not being able to read and that Moz helps him get the lines memorized.

Fifthly, WILL! ROFL I love that he's brilliant, but absent-minded, and paranoid and 'I'll sleep when I pass out from exhaustion'. HEEE!

I'm sure I had more but that's what I can remember off the top of my head. To sum up, I LOVED IT!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-26 03:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
THANK YOU! Oh, I'm so thrilled that you liked this so much, especially because you're already a Hamlet fan! It is a brilliant, brilliant play, and I had a lot of fun playing with it! :D

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-05 07:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] onceuponalegend.livejournal.com
I think you broke me. This was amazing and perfect and so, so lovely.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-26 03:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
*tries to fix you*

Thank you so much.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-05 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shingo-the-pest.livejournal.com
Quite lovely, the way this pulled at my heart.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-26 03:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
Thank you! :D

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-05 07:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] b-scholes.livejournal.com
Oh this is fantastic. I love it so much. Peter's attraction to Neal and the way it changes through the story. I liked how El was pissed off at Peter and Neal's ridiculous gift to them both.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-26 03:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
YAY! I'm so thrilled you liked it, thank you so much for the feedback! :D

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-05 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] secretsolitaire.livejournal.com
Oh man, this is amazing. Who'd have thought this setting would work so well for these two? My heart broke a little for this Neal, his thinness, the way he doesn't quite fit sometimes, the painful moment where he has to admit he can't read, the feelings for Peter he can't hide. I'm glad he has June being protective of him, and that he gets his imperfectly happy ending.

Will is fantastic, and the name Satchmeaux made me smile. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-26 03:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
Aw! Thanks, darling! And I can't take credit for Satchmeaux - [livejournal.com profile] bientot thought that one up! Thanks for the feedback! ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-06 02:30 am (UTC)
ext_24397: (009 © shea)
From: [identity profile] le-mousquetaire.livejournal.com
I love this fic sooooooo damn much! Thank you !

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-26 03:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com

Thank YOU! ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-06 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daria234.livejournal.com
This fic worked for me on so many levels. The heartbreak and then the hopeful end, the sexiness, the angst, the sweetness, and the complex characters who really struggled for what they got. Peter's growing awareness of himself but also for Neal's perspective was moving, and so was Peter's relationship with Will (both Will the man and Will the writer) - that was so incredibly well done. I love this fic SO much :)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-26 03:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com

Thank you so much for the wonderful, detailed feedback, Daria - I really appreciate it! ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-07 01:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] penguingal.livejournal.com
Oh. my. god.

Oh my god oh my god oh my god. I just... you don't even *know* how deep my love for Shakespeare goes. It has been a life-long passion of mine and then to see it combined with the hotness that is Peter/Neal. Happy tears are welling in my eyes and I want to sink back down into this fic and just wallow there.

I love you so much.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-26 03:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com

THANK YOU! I love Shakespeare, and to hear from another devotee that this worked so well is just amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I love you right back, baby!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-07 08:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elainasaunt.livejournal.com
How did you ... where did you ... I can't believe you did this. I can't believe you made it work. What a brilliantly off the wall idea.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-26 03:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com

Thank you! :D

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-08 06:19 pm (UTC)
kentucka: kitty ears ([misc] nature / cherry blossoms)
From: [personal profile] kentucka
I'm in awe. love your Elizabeth, the angst and heartache you've created, the way it's all woven around Shakespeare and even features 'Will' as a slightly quirky genius. inspired and incredibly well executed!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-26 03:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! I'm thrilled that you liked it, and I really do appreciate the feedback! ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-25 03:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] deepbluemermaid.livejournal.com
I finally got around to finishing this, and I enjoyed it very much!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-26 03:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm really glad that you liked it! :D

(no subject)

Date: 2010-08-14 06:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slipperyliz.livejournal.com
Oh, this rocks. A Shakespeare AU. Brilliant!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-08-16 11:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
Thank you so much, so glad you liked it! :D

(no subject)

Date: 2010-10-09 05:37 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is one of the most amazing stories I've ever read. You so flawlessly meshed the two worlds - what should be two totally separate worlds, yet it was so recognizably White Collar, the storylines, characters and careers. I loved this so much!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-01-17 05:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
Thank you so, so much.

♥ ♥ ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-03 06:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coffeethyme4me.livejournal.com
I'm glad you could give them a happy ending. That El could be so open and self-assured. That Peter could stop lying and openly be with Neal, give Neal what he so deserves. I wish RL were so lovely. Your writing is phenomenal, as always. This one stole my ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2011-01-17 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com

Thank you, darlin'.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-06-05 05:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aisle-one.livejournal.com
I really enjoyed this! You have such a fluid writing style that it was pleasantly easy to lose myself in your story. I appreciated your creative use of cannon and how you fit bits into your universe. I loved "Satchmeaux," LOL. It was heartbreaking, that part when Peter released Neal from his corset and the way he ached from Peter's forced withdrawal was palpable. Thanks for this!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-20 06:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! I'm sorry that my reply is so late--I really did (and do) appreciate your feedback. :-)

That corset scene is the one that I am proudest of, in the whole fic. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-09 09:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sheenianni.livejournal.com
I just found this today through the White Collar Fixation Fest, and... OMG.
This is fantastic. I love how you've ingrained the canon situation into this reality, I love Neal as an actor, love Elizabeth's realistic reaction.... there are so many wonderful details! I was surprised to find out that Neal can't read - and yet it made so much sense! This is truly a wonderful piece of art. I love it.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-20 06:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoosierbitch.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! I was so happy to get rec'd. :-)

I really appreciate the feedback! For some reason, characters having problems reading is a giant kink of mine. O.o