White Collar; Fic; Whatever You Are (Be a Good One); NC-17
First: a MASSIVE thank you to hoosierbitch, who: prompted this, held my hand, held my hand some more, encouraged me madly, waited patiently through my various crises, and TOTALLY DESERVES THIS, SHE PUT MORE WORK INTO IT THAN I DID :D
And second: uh, yes, I am totally using an ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUOTE for the title of my SEXSWAP PORN. I am SO SORRY, Abraham Lincoln. Rolling over in your grave like that can't be comfortable.
Title: Whatever You Are (Be a Good One)
Summary: Peter should have known better than to let Neal into any situation involving the words "touch nothing."
A Note on Pronouns: This is a sexswap fic. To be more specific: in this fic, Neal is temporarily turned into a woman. Peter narrates this story, and refers to Neal as "he" throughout. This is because Neal's gender identity remains male for the duration of this story. His body is switched by accident and against his will, and he does not think of himself as female; thus, he is not referred to that way. If this were a story in which Neal's gender identity was female, I would of course switch pronouns. Ok? Ok.
[ETA 4/12/10: Having now read iambickilometer's excellent post on transgender issues in fandom, I have realized that in calling this a genderswap fic, I was making a mistake. This is, in fact, a SEXswap fic, in which Neal changes biological sex, not gender. Apologies! And please do let me know if I've made any other mistakes; as I mentioned in the comments, the last thing I am trying to do with this fic is hurt or offend the transgender community.]
Peter knows it's going to be a bad day when they receive the double finger point immediately upon entering the office.
"What did you do," he hisses to Neal, who affects his disturbingly innocent face.
"I have an alibi!" he says, at once. Then he pauses, and confusion takes over his features. "Wait--I haven't done anything."
"You always say that," Peter mutters, as they walk to the conference room.
"No," Neal says. He sounds sincere, but there's never any way to be sure with him. "I mean, I'm sure I could have done something, but I honestly don't think--"
"Burke," Hughes interrupts, his voice grave. "Caffrey. Have a seat, he'll be here shortly."
"Who--" Neal starts, but Peter and Hughes both shoot him a dirty look. They sit down; Peter exchanges a glance with Diana, across from them, but she shrugs.
"I know as much as you do," she says.
Peter barely has a chance to wonder about what's going on before a tall, hawk-faced man stalks into the room. He exchanges a brusque handshake with Hughes and then turns to face them.
"Look," he barks, "I don't want to be here any more than you do, alright? But business is business, and I'll need you to sign these." He throws some papers down on the table; they appear to be confidentiality agreements.
Hughes winces. "Eli," he mutters, "don't you think you should introduce yourself first?"
"I think they should sign my fucking agreement first, Reese," the man snaps. Peter looks to Hughes for confirmation. He sighs.
"Just sign it," he says, wearily. "I wouldn't ask you to if it wasn't important."
Peter glances at Neal, who raises his eyebrows but grabs one of the documents and signs it with a flourish. Reluctantly, he and Diana follow suit.
"All right," Peter growls, never a fan of being told what to do, "we've signed. What's this about?"
The man sighs, pinches the bridge of his nose, and says "I'm Agent Eli Weingarten. How much do you know about Area 51?"
"I can't believe," Neal says, hopping out of the car, "that Area 51 is in New York. I mean, it's a great job they've done hiding it, but really?"
"I can't believe there's a paranormal activity department of the FBI," Peter returns, slamming his door with unnecessary force. Diana, climbing out of the backseat, laughs.
"I can't believe that somebody broke in here and stole artwork," she says. "If you're going to break into a secret government facility full of the impossible, there are probably better things to take than Rembrandt's rendition of alien life. I mean, Christ, isn't the Ark of the Covenant supposed to be in here somewhere?"
"It's definitely not in that fake-out in Nevada," Neal mutters. Then he makes a face that indicates very clearly that he didn't mean to say that.
"You broke into Area 51?" Peter yells. "What, you need to be Frank Sinatra and Indiana Jones? What is wrong with you?"
"Say it a little louder, why don't you," Neal hisses furiously. "That's not exactly something I want to be common knowledge--"
"Actually," Eli says, walking out of the door of the supposedly abandoned warehouse they've been sent to, "we know about that already. That's why you're here."
Neal smiles disarmingly, as though that will cover the fact that he is edging toward the car. "Well, if it's all the same to you, I'll just, uh, you know, I'd really rather not go back to prison--"
Eli barks out a short laugh. "We can't try you for breaking into a facility that doesn't technically exist," he says, "relax. We keep the same security on that building as we do here, though, to test it out. You're the only person who's ever gotten through it."
Neal preens a little; Peter scowls at him. "That's not a good thing, Caffrey."
Neal makes an adorable face--an irritating face. It is irritating and that other thought has no business invading Peter's brainwaves.
"It kind of is," he says.
Before Peter can reprimand him further, Eli clears his throat. "Entertaining as this is," he growls, raising an eyebrow, "we have work to do. Check the area. Touch nothing. This is not a joke, people--nothing. Are we clear?"
"Crystal," Neal says, his eyes gleaming, and Peter sighs and makes a mental note to keep a close eye on him.
Forty five minutes later, sitting in an uncomfortable chair with a hand on Neal's heaving back, Peter wishes that he could learn to listen to himself.
"Breathe," he instructs; Neal makes a strangled sort of sound and continues gasping, his head between his knees. Peter has a hazy memory of a detail from one of the files from Neal's childhood--prone to panic attacks--but he can't remember which one is was, who'd said that.
They were, apparently, right. Then again, Peter would probably be having a similar reaction, in Neal's shoes.
"What part of touch nothing was so fucking complicated?" Eli screams, his face going purple. Peter, who'd had exactly the same initial reaction, gives him a dirty look. Neal doesn't need to be screamed at...well. Neal doesn't need to be screamed at again.
"I've got it," he says, coldly. Eli eyes him.
"I think it's more than obvious that you don't," he snaps.
Neal makes the choking noise again; Peter turns away from Eli, privacy be damned, and rubs his hand up and then down Neal's back.
"I'm going to go--deal with this," Eli barks; he leaves them there, Peter rubbing Neal's back, Diana standing and staring at them.
"It's gonna be okay," Peter says, helplessly. At that, Neal looks up.
Peter doesn't know what Neal touched in there, doesn't know what semi-precious object caught his eye. He does know that he'd turned around to Neal's shout, already drawing his gun, and....
"It's going to be okay?" Neal repeats, his voice several registers above his normal cadence. "I have breasts, Peter. BREASTS!" To better illustrate this point, he--she?--he grabs them and squeezes.
Peter's mouth goes dry. This--this is going to be a problem. Because as much as he wants to be supportive and careful (and, honestly, as much as he kind of wants to laugh), the truth of the matter is that Neal makes a very pretty woman. His dark hair has gotten longer, flowing down his back under that ridiculous fedora, and his breasts are--surprisingly ample. The top three buttons of his shirt have popped, and he's straining the bounds of his vest. That, plus the long line of his legs under those tailored suit pants, clinging more that usual to his now-widened hips--well. It's not exactly a bad look for him.
Diana appears to be having the same reaction; she flushes and coughs, and Neal takes one glance at her, pulls his hands from his chest, and goes bright red with fury. "Really?" he snaps at her, his eyes wild, and she flushes deeper.
"I think it's the hat," she says, in a whisper. Neal whips it off of his head at once, and that dark hair spills out everywhere, and Diana says "No, uh, not the hat, I--" and turns away.
"Pull yourself together, Agent Lancing," Peter snaps.
"Oh my god," Neal says, faintly, and then his breathing picks back up and he grabs Peter's arm. "I--" he tries, and can't finish.
Peter sighs, puts some weight into the hand he's still got resting on Neal's back, and pushes him down until his head in between his knees again. That long dark hair is hanging down against the dirty warehouse floor, and Peter wants to collect it between his fingers and keep it off the ground, but he thinks now is probably a bad time.
"Breathe," he says instead, rubbing Neal's back. "In and out, that's it. We'll fix you, it's okay."
"Br-breasts-" Neal gasps.
"I know," Peter murmurs. "I know."
"I can't believe I'm going to be like this for 24 hours," Neal says, leaning despondently against the car window. His breathing has evened out, a combination of time and the cigarette Diana had wordlessly handed him. Granted, she'd set the calming process back a few minutes by gallantly offering to light it, but the nicotine seems to have steadied him. He is, at least, able to speak in full sentences again.
His voice is still a lot higher than normal, but Peter's going to go ahead and put that down to the vagina.
"I miss my cock," Neal whines, as if reading his mind. Peter thanks every higher power he can think of that he'd waited to whip out this line of discussion until after they'd dropped Diana off.
"I miss it too," Peter says, absently.
"Oh," Neal snaps, "so I'm not attractive to you like this?"
"I didn't say that!" Peter protests. "You're very attractive to me like--"
"So you like me better as a woman?" Neal cries. "That's great, Peter, that's really--"
"Neal!" Peter yells. "I didn't say that! What the hell is wrong with you?"
"Nothing!" Neal screams back. He opens his mouth to continue his diatribe and then shuts in again. "Uh," he says, in a normal voice, after a minute, "sorry. I don't know what the fuck just happened."
"I'm calling Eli," Peter growls. "I cannot have you behaving like this for 24 hours."
Neal's eyes flash. "You think your personal irritation is going to more convincing than the laws of science and the fact that I'm the wrong fucking body, Peter? Is that what you think?"
"I--" Peter starts. He thinks about all the ridiculous arguments he's been in with El, all the stupid things he's said, and sighs. "I'm just trying to be normal about this," he says. "I'm sorry."
"No," Neal says, sounding frustrated. "I'm sorry, I can't stop--maybe we just shouldn't talk until we get home."
"That might be a good plan," Peter returns, and Neal bites his lip. They drive the rest of the way to the house in silence.
Peter is, it has to be said, ridiculously grateful to see El. She looks--well, annoyed. Peter had expected that--Eli had insisted that no one see Neal outside of clearance, and Peter had been forced to shout at him for fifteen minutes.
"Look," he'd snapped, finally, "you can send someone to clear my wife, who has been living the FBI lifestyle for ten years, or you can send Neal back to his house, where any number of random criminals could stop by. Which do you think is the more societally responsible decision?"
He'd called El to warn her that she was going to be grilled, of course, but she never particularly enjoyed the experience.
Still, annoyed or not, her face is concerned and kind when she sees Neal, who is doing his best to hide behind Peter. "Oh, honey," she murmurs, bypassing Peter entirely, and she pulls Neal into her arms.
Neal, despite his change in sex, is still much taller than her. He bends his face towards her anyway, breathing in the scent of her, and she rubs a hand gently down his now-long hair.
"I hate everything," he mutters, and she laughs, a strange little sound.
"I know you do," she says, breaking away. She palms his cheek. "But it's going to be fine." Neal smiles at her and nods, and Peter tries not to be annoyed that Neal hadn't believed him when he'd said that.
"Hi, hon," she says to Peter, at last. She presses a kiss into the side of his mouth and steps aside, letting them in. A few of the drawers are open, have clearly been rummaged through. Peter sighs.
"How was the interrogation?" he asks, setting down his briefcase, and she waves a hand in frustration.
"The same way it was when you had to moonlight for Homeland Security," she says, "but weirder questions. Do I believe in ghosts? Have I ever seen a UFO? Who needs to know that?" She shakes her head. "As if I'd ever do anything to expose Neal--and they confiscated my favorite David Bowie CD, and--"
She stops. Peter doesn't know why until he glances at Neal, whose eyes have filled with tears. "I'm so sorry," he says, his voice shaking. "I wouldn't have, I don't--"
"Neal," she says, and before she can finish--or even really start--he bursts into tears. She looks at Peter, raising her eyebrows and jerking her head, communicating in a complicated silent language that Peter should hug him. He does, pulling Neal close, utterly at sea. El steps behind them, wrapping her arms around Neal from the other side.
"You don't have to be sorry," she says, her voice low and soothing. "I didn't mind it, it was just a little formality--"
"I know!" Neal wails. "I know, I--what the fuck, I don't even know why I'm crying, I hate this--"
"It's okay," Peter mutters, hoping that's the right thing to say.
"It's not!" Neal sobs, muffled in Peter's shoulder. "I--this, and, and snapping at you and I'm--" he stops for a minute, and then he chokes out "I can't get control of myself, and I don't--El, I'm not some misogynist bastard, this isn't what I think women are--"
Peter has to forcibly stop himself from stiffening in surprise. Then he remembers a night from a lifetime ago ("What's she into?" "Sexually?" "Ew, no. Existentially,") and it occurs to him that Neal would worry about something like that.
"You're in the wrong body," El says calmly. "All kinds of new hormones to deal with, stuff you're not used to--it's okay. Just relax, let it out. It'll help, I think, if you stop fighting it. It's okay."
They stand there like that for at least five minutes, Neal shaking with the weight of his own breakdown, until his breaths go from wet heaving sobs to shaky little gasps. He pulls away from Peter with a sheepish expression and wipes his face with the back of his hand.
"Sorry," he says. Then he adds "Man, this is a mess," and Peter and El both laugh.
"Yeah," El agrees. "Do you feel any better?"
Neal bites his lip. "Kind of?" he says, wrapping his arms around his body. The action pushes his breasts up a little higher and Peter thinks about anything but how hot that is, about anything but pressing Neal against against the wall and touching them.
"I haven't cried like that since I was a kid." He doesn't say not even when Kate died, but they're all thinking it. "I remember feeling better, after, then."
"Yeah," El says, and shrugs. "Sometimes a good cry helps, sometimes it doesn't." She looks Neal over appraisingly. "You might feel better," she adds, "if you put on different clothes. That vest has to be murder; it's crushing you."
Neal winces. "Now that you mention it," he says, and El nods.
"Grab anything you want. My t-shirts are in the third drawer down, and so are--" she pauses, and then plows ahead. "You might want to put on a sports bra," she tells him, gently. Neal and Peter both make a face; El glares at Peter and then smiles at Neal. "You'll be more comfortable, I promise."
"I--" Neal starts. Then he sighs. "Can't be weirder than any of the rest of it, can it?"
El grins and kisses him. "Go on," she says. "We'll be down here, when you're ready."
Peter waits until he hears the bedroom door shut before turning to his wife. "Fuck," he says, and she laughs.
"Oh, honey," she says, draping her arms across his shoulders and kissing him soundly. "You've had a long day, huh?"
"He had a panic attack," Peter growls, "and Diana tried to hit on him--"
"She's always had good taste."
"Yeah, well, that aside--but he is gorgeous, isn't he?"
"Definitely," El murmurs. She must see the contemplative look in Peter's eyes, because she adds, sternly, "No. Not unless he says it's okay, and don't you dare ask him."
"I wasn't going to," Peter snaps defensively. "I know how weird this is, alright? And you didn't see him when it happened, I thought he was going to stop breathing."
"Okay," El says. He must have been yelling--he only realizes how loud he'd been when he hears how soft her voice is. "I know you wouldn't, I just wanted to make sure. It's all going to be fine, it's just until tomorrow."
"Yeah," he says, taking a deep breath. El presses their foreheads together for a minute and Peter thinks, for the hundred thousandth time this week, that he is the luckiest man on the planet. Then he remembers that Neal is upstairs, and considers how long he's been upstairs, and that he has this tendency to flee in times of stress--
"I'm going to go check on Neal," he says. El raises an eyebrow but doesn't argue, and he takes the stairs two at a time. "Neal?"
There's no answer, and Peter pushes open the bedroom door, fearing the worst. What he sees is Neal, very much still present, staring at himself in the mirror. He's wearing a pair of Peter's old flannel pajama bottoms and one of El's white t-shirts; it clings to him in all the right places, leaving a thin strip of midriff visible.
"Neal?" he repeats. Neal turns around, his expression creased with surprise.
"I'm pretty," he says, almost helplessly. His gaze is dragged back to the mirror, seemingly against his will. Peter laughs, steps forward, and puts his hands on Neal's hips; Neal leans into him, back flush against his chest, and meets his gaze in their reflection.
"Yeah, Narcissus," Peter says, throatier than he means to be with his lips just brushing Neal's ear, "you're very pretty."
Neal laughs. It's bizarre to hear, because it's a couple pitches above his normal laugh, and it's--lighter. Airy, almost, and that smile on this thinner, softer face is still unbelievably bright, nearly blinding. Peter can feel himself getting hard and he steps away before he can make Neal uncomfortable; he doesn't want to push, he promised El he wouldn't push and he wouldn't have anyway and--
"Peter," Neal says, turning to look at him.
Peter meets his gaze, and his eyes can't possibly be more blue than they were before but they are anyway. Neal steps closer, closing the distance between them, and he presses himself to Peter's chest. Peter is not used to the soft, squishy pressure of breasts against him from this particular party, and the sensation--Neal's smile on this body, Neal's words in this voice--almost overwhelms him.
"Neal," he says, his hands hovering an inch from Neal's waist, "I don't want to do anything you're not comfortable with."
"Since when is there much I'm not comfortable with?" Neal asks, and kisses him.
It is the strangest thing Peter has every experienced. It's Neal kissing him, with all his usual techniques--the sneaky half-swipe of his tongue against Peter's teeth, the hand slipping up his back, almost unnoticed until it's tracing the veins of Peter's neck. But the lips are fuller, softer than Neal's, the hair is longer and Peter has one of those full breasts cupped in his hand--
"I knew this was going to happen," El says. Peter and Neal break apart; Peter has the good grace to look shamefaced and Neal smiles, lazy and hungry at once.
"Elizabeth," he says, sidling over to her, "want to show me how this body works?"
"Are you sure you're--" she starts, and Neal cuts her off with a brutal kiss.
Elizabeth moans against him, pressing them together, and Peter has his cock out of his pants before he can even really think about it. "Eager much?" Neal asks him, breaking away from El for a second; she makes an irritated noise and reaches up, turning his head to face her.
"Pay attention," she says. "I am trying to teach you something."
Neal grins. "Yes, ma'am."
She kisses him again, this time slipping a hand up underneath the t-shirt. "You didn't take my advice about the bra," she murmurs.
"Too weird," Neal admits. Then he blushes, slightly (the hint of rose on those higher, feminine cheekbones makes Peter pull at himself once, twice, before he regains control), and adds "and the fabric felt really good against...uh..."
El grins wickedly. "That's definitely one of the benefits of being a member of the fairer sex," she tells him, pulling his shirt up over his head. Then she leans down and pulls the nipple of Neal's left breast into her mouth.
He throws his head back, his hair spilling down, and Peter cannot help himself any longer--he moves to them, loosening his tie as he goes, and stands behind Neal, steadying him. He puts one hand in the small of Neal's back and the other on his shoulder, pulls him almost into a dip. Neal's always been flexible, and this new body has done nothing to change that; he's bent far enough back nearly to fall over, and he's just grinning and grinning, his eyes glazed.
"Hi, honey," El says. She resumes her attention to her previous activity, and Peter leans down and kisses Neal, supporting his weight with one hand and cupping his cheek with the other.
Neal is so distracted that his kiss is sloppy, unfocused; that makes it hotter, because Peter is used to the all-consuming precision of Neal's usual persona, and loves to break it. And Neal is moaning, a throaty, higher-pitched thing than usual, and Peter can feel from the hand he's got on Neal's back that Neal is grinding up towards El.
"God," Peter hisses, "Neal, you're--like this, you're--"
"Shut up," El says, breaking away from Neal, who makes a betrayed little noise at the loss of her. "Don't tell him that he's better or worse like this--you want to give him a complex?"
"I wasn't going to--" Peter starts, and Neal laughs breathily.
"Like there are any complexes left that I don't already have," he says. He reaches up a hand to touch himself, tweaking the nipple El hasn't seen to yet, and El slaps him gently.
"That one's for Peter," she tells him. "Hands off."
Neal bites his lip--his overly full, beautifully darkened lip. "Awww," he says, and Peter grabs the damn thing from behind to just keep him from whining. Neal whimpers as Peter twists it tenderly between his forefinger and thumb and El resumes sucking the other one.
"El--" Neal gasps, arching his back and staring at the ceiling like he's seen the light of god, "how the hell do you get anything done? Don't you just want--to--this, all day?"
El laughs, and Peter feels Neal's shivering reaction to the scrape of her teeth on his sensitive skin. "I've got it figured out, but yeah, kind of." She reaches a hand down to cup Neal's groin over his pants, the smooth, cavernous space that has replaced the usual bulge.
"This can get pretty distracting too," El murmurs, and Peter is going to come if she doesn't stop that, if he doesn't get his hands off of Neal right now. He takes a step back, and then two.
Neal disentangles himself from Elizabeth, glances over at Peter and...and pouts at him. Oh my god, Peter thinks, and then: I mean...I mean oh my god.
"You look like a model," he says, shocked, before he can stop himself, in much the same tone he'd once said "You look like a cartoon."
Neal grins. "Do I?" he asks, delighted.
Peter attempts to answer him, but what comes out of his mouth is a garbled groan from low in his throat. Neal turns to Elizabeth, and cocks his head; together they are like one of those paintings Elizabeth used to sell, like one of those paintings Neal used to take. They're nearly mirror images, except for Neal's height and Elizabeth's softer face.
"I think he's going to asphyxiate," Neal says in a conspiratorial half-whisper. El smiles slyly at him.
"And you've never even looked at his porn collection," she laughs, "so you can't possibly known how close to home we're hitting."
Neal raises his eyebrows and makes a disapproving face. "A gorgeous woman at his disposal," he mutters, "and still. I call it classless. Peter, I'm ashamed of you."
"She likes it too," Peter protests at once. He recognizes before it's even fully out of his mouth that it's a ridiculously childish thing to say, and from the way both El and Neal's faces break open in amusement, he knows that he's not the only one having that thought.
"Sorry," Peter says, "I just--it's a little distracting, the two of you like this--"
"Neal," Elizabeth says, nudging Neal forward. Peter feels his breath catch in his throat. "My husband's had a hard day."
"Has he?" Neal asks, absently, fingering the clasp of Peter's trousers.
"Oh, yes." El is quietly stripping, and Peter is having trouble focusing on both of them at once; they are each so utterly distracting, so completely, unbearably captivating. "Someone he loves was unhappy; that always brings him down."
Peter, distracted as he is, emphatically does not miss the shocked look that rolls over Neal, does not miss the way his hands still momentarily as he processes this. Peter also does not miss the smile, bright and painfully honest, that lights up Neal's face for a fleeting half-second. It would offend him, the smile's fleeting nature, if he didn't know Neal. As it is, he's perfectly aware that he's treading in waters where honest expressions are an almost impossible phenomenon; he cups the side of Neal's face for a second, and smiles himself, and says nothing. He knows, somewhere deep down, that for now this will be enough.
"Well," Neal says, his smiles shifting automatically into something seductive and sultry and a few shades more guarded, "it sounds like you need to relax."
His hands undo Peter's fly smoothly, and he slips off Peter's slacks and boxers. Peter, more than a little dazed, steps out of the heap the clothes make at his feet, and Neal drops to his knees, licks a long, teasing stripe up Peter's cock.
"I wonder," he murmurs, glancing at Elizabeth, "if my throat will take him any deeper now. I mean, physical changes being physical changes..."
"It's definitely worth a try," someone says, and it takes Neal's surprised laugh and Elizabeth's raised eyebrow for Peter to realize it was him. "Uh," he says, thinking about ways to backpedal and coming up with only that image of his wife sucking on Neal's breasts--
"Calm down," Neal says, amused. His breath is warm and so close to Peter's cock that Peter shivers; Neal seems to take this as an invitation, because he opens his mouth around the tip of it. He swirls his tongue around the head of Peter's dick, and Peter fists some of that long dark hair and grits his teeth.
Fuck, but Neal is good at this. He glances at El, who is reaching behind her to the nightstand, grabbing--oh. She turns the vibrator on and then impales herself on it quickly, still standing, gasping, biting her lip, and at the same time Neal sucks in hard, pulls Peter's dick down to the back of his throat.
"Gnnnnrgh," Peter says. Neal laughs around his cock and Peter has to glance away from El or he actually is going to asphyxiate; he looks down, and that's no help, because...well. With that long dark hair, without the face to look at, those wide hips jutting out--from this angle, Neal could almost be his wife.
Peter glances at their reflection in the mirror, because as turned on as he is, as fucking incredible as this is, he does miss Neal's cock. He misses Neal's cock and his thin sharp lines and his hair, thick like this but shorter, greased ever-so-lightly with that shit he puts in it to tame it when it rains. Peter has never been the kind of guy to need any more woman than he already has, quiet pornography collection aside. So he glances at the mirror so he can see the high cheekbones, the structure of Neal's face, because to see Elizabeth, but not Elizabeth--
Only then he meets Neal's eyes in the mirror, and realizes he's not the first person to have had this particular idea.
"Jesus," he gasps, thrusting a little deeper into Neal's throat; Neal moans and takes it, and the sensation grinds down hard on every nerve in Peter's body. "El, do you see what he's doing?"
"Honey," Elizabeth says, her voice low and breathy (she is still fucking herself on that piece of plastic, and oh, to think Peter had once resented her buying it), "I think it's pretty obvious what he's doing."
"No," Peter growls, "that's not what I mean." He gestures at the mirror and Elizabeth glances at it; her eyes widen when Neal meets her gaze and flushes. Peter adjusts his grip on Neal's hair and pulls him forward--not enough to hurt him, just enough to establish control.
"You like that," he murmurs, "watching yourself like this? Watching yourself suck me?"
Neal covers his teeth with his lips to avoid biting Peter and nods, once. His cheeks are still flushed--half-embarrassment and half-arousal, Peter thinks--but his gaze is determined and a little defiant in the mirror.
"You narcissistic little fuck," Peter growls at him, and Neal looks away from the reflection and up at Peter, then. He raises his eyebrows into his patented 'Who, me?' expression and then hollows out his cheeks and sucks so hard Peter sees stars.
The combination--Neal's blue eyes and long hair and his rough, impossibly strong inhale and that expression, the one that has always translated in Peter's head to you've caught me--it's the perfect storm. He comes without meaning to, without even realizing he's going to, riding the crest of the wave until Neal swallows and disengages. Then he collapses; it's not particularly dignified, but he doesn't really have much choice in the matter.
Neal smiles at him, crawls up over him, and presses a kiss against Peter's Adam's apple, undoes Peter's shirt buttons with deft fingers to get to his collarbone. Peter isn't really aware that it's happening for a minute, and then he realizes that this is Neal's way of thanking him, for what Elizabeth had said about love; this is Neal's way of responding. Wondering, he runs two exhausted fingers up Neal's spine; Neal shivers against him and presses he face into the hollow of Peter's neck and just stays there, his lips fluttering against the tender skin, for a long moment. When he pulls away, his typical evasive smiles is firmly in place. If his eyes are a little brighter than usual, Peter isn't going to comment.
Neal stands and moves to Elizabeth, leaving Peter undone on the floor. She is close, very close--Peter can tell because of the way the hand that isn't holding the vibrator is tracing frantic patterns on her thigh. Neal doesn't say anything to her, just puts one hand on her shoulder and gently takes the vibrator from her with the other. He pushes her into the wall and holds her there, using his right hand to move the thing in and out of her, fucking her quickly, gracefully, with it.
"Feel good?" he asks, almost shyly. She clasps a hand in his hair, behind his neck, puts another on that nicely rounded ass. Neal is still wearing Peter's pajama bottoms, and Peter is deeply, fervently aware that they have never looked that good on him. He's not really inclined to care.
"Yes," Elizabeth gasps, bucking up into the vibrator; Neal moves his left hand to splay across her stomach; he leans in, presses against her, his breasts crushed against hers.
"Come for me," he says, "come on, El." There is a plea in his voice, an entreaty underscoring his tone; Peter knows this is Neal's way of thanking her, too. He moves in to suck, delicately, at her earlobe, and she cries out against him.
"Please," Neal says, and Peter has never seen his wife orgasm this wildly. She bites down on Neal's shoulder, their long hair mingling til it is impossible to tell whose is whose, and there are tears in her eyes. Neal holds her upright and she shakes violently against him, panting, a scream still inching its way out from the back of her throat.
Neal smiles. It's a dirty, triumphant thing that looks all wrong (and all too right) on this more delicate face. Peter stands and moves towards Neal as Elizabeth recovers herself enough to slip a hand into his pants; Peter watches as the smile slips off of his face, as he shies away.
"Neal," El says, still panting, "what is it?"
"I, uh," he says. Then he sighs. "I--I'm either going to like it more or less. You're either going to like it more or less. That sounds like a bad decision all around."
"Oh, honey," Elizabeth murmurs. Neal smiles at her, and it looks real enough; then again, Peter still has trouble deciphering the complex code of Neal's facial expressions when he's in his own body. This--
"It's okay," Peter says, carefully hiding his disappointment. "We don't have to. I'm exhausted anyway."
"Peter, it's six o'clock. We haven't even eaten yet," Neal says, quirking an eyebrow. El laughs.
"Tell you what," she says, "Peter, you take a nap if you want one. I need to swing by my office anyway, I'll just run and get some take-out on the way back, and Neal--I can't imagine you want to leave the house like this--"
"Not allowed anyway," Neal says. Then he grins. "Plus," he adds, wryly, "with today's luck I'd run into Mozzie, and he really doesn't need anything else to fuel the conspiracy machine."
"Too right," Peter mutters, just as Elizabeth smiles and said "Well, that's true."
Neal laughs. "I'd actually love a shower," he says, as Peter hit the bed. El says something back, but Peter is already sliding into sle...
Even Peter's dreams are distracting. He conjures images of El's breasts on Neal's body--Neal's male body. He walks in a world where Diana has a cock, has her fist buried inside of Jones, who looks all wrong with wide hips and a cunt. He sees himself in the mirror and he's the same except for the hand prints all over him, nail marks and bite marks, where all the change has clawed at him.
He starts awake, terrified for a brainless instant. Then he shakes himself out of it and hears running water; Neal must still be in the shower. Peter glances at the clock, realizes he's been asleep for nearly an hour, and sits up, confused. He walks quickly to the bathroom, and the door is cracked ever so slightly, and really he hardly has to push at all before it's opened enough for him to--
Peter catches his breath. Through the clear shower curtain he can see Neal, features hazy in the steam. His breasts are jutting out and his hair is twisting down his back and...and.
And he has the moving shower head El had insisted on installing buried between his legs.
Peter draws in a damp, shuddering breath. He pinches himself, wondering if this is just another in the string of strange sleep-phantoms, but it isn't; he widens is eyes and watches, enraptured.
Neal is arching against the shower head, and over the sound of the spray Peter can hear the little noises he is making, sharp and sweet and a shade less than familiar. Neal reaches a hand out to brace himself on the shower wall and before Peter can even consider stopping himself he has pushed the door open and ripped the shower curtain off the rail.
"Peter," Neal says, and Peter steps into the spray with his shirt still on.
"I am not going to stop liking your cock if you let me get you off, you stupid convict," Peter tells him, and before Neal can rethink the little nod he gives, Peter shoves two fingers into the cunt Neal's trying on for the day.
He is so wet that Peter's own cock, still half asleep, twitches. Neal buries his soaked head in Peter's shoulder and wraps his legs around Peter's knees, and he scrapes his teeth against the sensitive line of Peter's jaw as he comes.
"Fuck," he chokes, shuddering, "fucking hell, I've never--"
"Shhhh," Peter says, and he keeps moving his fingers, slowly, probing. "I'm going to make you come again."
"Peter, I can't--"
"Yes," Peter says, gently, "you can." He leaves the water on and steps over the lip of the bathtub with his arms full of Neal, with two fingers still in him. Then he crouches, lays Neal out on the bath mat, and slides between his legs.
Neal doesn't taste like El; it's been so long since Peter has had the flavor of another woman in his mouth that he can't help but savor it a little. The funny thing is that Neal doesn't taste much like anything he remembers trying years ago--he tastes like Neal, a little muted, a little softer. Peter laps at him softly and when Neal whines he pulls back, looks up.
"Stop," Peter says.
"Stop what?" Neal asks, lifting his head, his voice rough and maybe slightly frightened.
Peter rolls his eyes and smiles, the same smile he always uses when Neal asks him a ridiculous question. He says, "Thinking about it."
Neal whimpers and bucks into Peter's mouth and lets his head drop back against the tiles; Peter presses in a little harder. Neal groans aloud and writhes and comes a second, and then a third, and the a fourth time--
--when Elizabeth opens the door with a bag of groceries balanced on her hip.
"Well," she says as they glance up at her, going bright red, "it's a good thing I stopped on the way home."
When she pulls a container of whipped cream and a box of strawberries out the bag, Peter starts to laugh. Neal joins him, shaking with it, curling around himself, and then El is laughing too, sinking to the floor next to them. Tears streak her makeup as she leans against Peter, and Neal is howling, rolling around. Peter can barely catch his breath, the hilarity of it all is overwhelming--but the sensation doesn't compare to what happens when Neal rips the top off of the whipped cream with his teeth and sprays a downward arrow across his stomach.
"What?" he says, as Peter's last laugh dies in his throat, as El's eyes go wide and thrilled with anticipation. "I'm not like this for long--I think we should make the best of it."
They sleep in until two the next afternoon, because Neal can't go in to work and Peter can't leave him unsupervised and Elizabeth makes her own hours. When they wake up Neal wants to try on Elizabeth's clothes and Peter wants to see that; he makes a rushed, haphazard breakfast for the three of them as El does Neal's makeup, as Neal parades up and down the stairs.
"You look better in that one than I do," Elizabeth says, when he comes down in a navy blue number Peter hasn't seen his wife wear in years. Neal laughs and kisses her. Then he picks his hat up off the couch, flipping it idly onto El's head.
"Not possible," he says, already heading back up the stairs to try another one. Elizabeth smirks at his back from under the fedora brim, and Peter is just considering letting the eggs burn when he hears a strangled scream from the bedroom.
"NEAL!" he yells, and is up the stairs before he can think about it, grabbing the gun he keeps in the linen closet and bursting through the door to see--
Neal, sprawled on the floor with makeup on his very male face and heels on his very male feet and a navy blue dress that is too loose in the chest and too tight in the shoulders wrapped around his very male body.
"They were not kidding about that 24 hour thing," he says, stunned, and for the second time in as many days, Peter laughs until he cries.
"You don't even like beer," El says, reasonably, as Neal straightens his tie in the mirror.
"I know," Neal sighs, running hand through his hair again. "But I--I really want one."
"Your wayward testosterone is reasserting itself through wanting beer?" Peter asks. "How unusually normal of you."
"Actually," Neal says, smiling a little dangerously, "what I really want to do is go steal a car; nothing more manly than that. But I kind of figured you'd rather we--"
"Yes," Peter interrupts firmly, "I would much rather go to the bar. El, do you mind?"
Elizabeth laughs. "Of course not," she says, "go have some guy time. Neal's certainly earned it."
They move to the threshold together, and then--well. Normally they are careful about things like this, worrying about who could be watching, keeping everything away from windows, but they're all off their game. When Peter opens the door he has a hand on Neal's waist and El's fingers are flexing in his back pocket as Neal kisses her goodbye.
So all in all, it's a bit of an unwelcome surprise when Eli Weingarten is on the stoop, his hand still raised in expectation of a knock.
"Fuck," Elizabeth says. She swears so rarely outside of the bedroom that Peter starts a little just from that. He opens his mouth and can't think of a single thing to say as Eli lowers his hand and raises an unimpressed eyebrow at them all.
"Oh," he says, sounding bored, "so it's like that, is it? I might have known."
"Look," Peter says desperately, "I know this is a little weird, but if you could just not say anything--"
"Yes, Agent Burke," Eli replies, rolling his eyes, "I spend my days researching alien life and psychic energy, and this is weird for me. How will I contain this secret?"
"Don't you dare talk to him that way!" Neal snaps. His hands ball to fists. Then, just as quickly, the anger drains from his face, and he looks shocked and cowed. "Uh. I mean, um. Sorry."
Eli isn't even remotely phased. "Mr. Caffrey," he says smoothly, "I see you've gotten yourself in order. That hormone spike will wear off soon, don't worry."
"Yeah, I know," Neal returns, narrowing his eyes. "Happened yesterday too. You might have warned me about that, by the way."
Eli's face remains impassive. "I get so little joy in life."
"I'm sure," Peter mutters dryly. "What are you doing here?"
Eli reaches into his pocket and pulls out an orange prescription bottle. "Memory modification pills. Rest of your team's already taken them."
Against Peter, Neal jumps. "You never said anything about--"
"You'll find," Eli interrupts him, "that the contract you signed yesterday consented to this."
"I'd like to see that contract, Agent," Peter growls, and Eli arranges his features into a carefully blank expression.
"What contract?" he asks. When Peter, Neal and El continue to glare at him, he sighs again.
"Okay," Eli says, "let me explain. You three are fucking. I know this. That--" he points at Neal, and then at Peter, "will ruin his life. All these pills do is erase your memory of this incident, so just take them like you agreed to, and I don't have to run to Reese and seriously screw with whatever you three have going on here."
"Are you blackmailing us?" El demands, furious. Eli reaches into his jacket pocket, unearths a David Bowie CD, and hands it to her.
"No," he says, "I'm stating the facts. It won't be blackmail unless I have to follow through. Take the damned pills."
"Wait," Neal says, "how do we know these even work? How do we know they won't just kill us? How do we know you won't tell anyone--"
Eli holds up a hand. "You know they won't kill you because if I wanted to kill you, I'd do it somewhere less conspicuous. You know I won't tell anyone because I'm erasing your memories to keep this from getting out. And you know they work because I absolutely do not have documentation that your friend Mozzie has taken at least twelve of them, and I'd bet you my job he's never mentioned me to you."
Neal's mouth drops open. Peter can't really blame him.
"Mozzie?" Neal asks, his voice cracking. Eli shrugs.
"Kept trying to recruit him," he says. "He didn't want to work for the feds. Damned shame too, he would have made a great agent."
"Yes," Eli replies. He hands Peter the vial. "Burke, it is your duty as an agent of this government to take these. Please, just--"
Peter uncaps the vial and throws one into his mouth. Neal and El both raise an eyebrow at him.
"No point, is there?" he says around a hard swallow. "He's gonna stand here til we do it anyway."
Elizabeth sighs. "Give me those."
She palms one and looks at it critically, then swallows it and makes a face. Wordlessly, Neal takes the vial from her and follows suit.
"How long until these things kick in?" Peter asks. He's already feeling a lightheaded, but he'd like to know.
Eli checks his watch. "53 more seconds. Now, here's what you should know--you're going to be a little confused for the first few minutes, while your memories replace themselves with the new ones we've created. Burke, you and Caffrey have spent the last two days working on a mortgage fraud case. Boring stuff. And Mrs. Burke, you landed a whale of a contract yesterday. Figured it was the least I could do."
El looks surprised. "Thank you," she says, "but who--"
"Your new memories will tell you. Here's the other thing. Given the...sexual...nature of your relationship, the missing memories may try to manifest themselves in new ways. It's normal; I'd tell you not to worry about it, but you won't remember enough to be concerned."
"What kind of new ways--" Peter starts. Then something goes ping in the back of his mind. He blinks.
He blinks again.
There is a strange man on his porch. "I'm sorry," Peter says, genuinely confused, "but who are you again?"
"Peter, don't be ridiculous, he's--" Neal says. Then he makes a little noise. "Um. I--never mind."
"I'm Joe, the cable guy," Eli says. "I borrowed your wife's Bowie CD yesterday, wanted to give it back. Thanks, ma'am."
"No problem," El replies, sounding dazed. "Nice to--see you again?"
"Pleasure's mine. Have a good one, folks." He walks down the stairs, humming to himself. Peter looks at his wife, then at Neal.
"Were we going to do something?" he asks. Neal blinks at him.
"I--" he says. Then he makes a face. "Urgh. I think I want a beer. Could that possibly be right?"
"You don't even like beer," El says. Then puts a hand to her head. "Wow. Deju vu. I, um, I have the feeling that I've got a lot of work to do. Why don't you guys--"
"Yeah," Peter says. "Alcohol. That sounds--right." He kisses his wife goodbye and they go. It takes him a second to remember where he parked the car, even though it's in its usual spot.
He hops into the driver's seat, and Neal slides in next to him. They drive for a few minutes in relative silence, and then:
"Neal," Peter says, "I was just--" He stops, because the thought is too strange to utter. He can't even believe he's thinking about it.
"Well," Peter says, hedging. Then he figures fuck it, and goes all in. "I was wondering--do you think El would ever consider wearing a strap-on?"