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Fic: A Flicker of Light (White Collar)

Title: A Flicker of Light
Author: kaylashay
Rating: FR13
Disclaimer: I'm not USA / Jeff Eastin / etc., so I don't claim to own them.
Genre: Gen
Warnings: none
Word Count: 1,181
Beta: all mistakes are mine
Written For: hc_bingo and sinfulslasher's July 2013 Prompt
HC Bingo Square: sensory deprivation

Summary: The doctors said it was temporary, but to Neal temporary felt like a lifetime.


Neal sat on the lounge chair with his face tilted toward the sinking sun. The heat that he felt across his face did little to warm his thoughts. Those remained as dark and dank as his sightless blue eyes.

The doctors had told him two weeks to two months and he felt that he could learn to handle that. It was temporary after all. But then they said that timeline was just for the return of limited vision and his heart sank. His two consulting physicians in the immediate aftermath of the accident and Mozzie's non-conventional healer had said the same thing, they expected a near full recovery, but that would be at least a year, if ever.

Now, one week into his ordeal, that timeframe seemed like an eternity. Initially, he had smiled and said the lack of vision wouldn't stop him. He'd joked with Peter that he'd run and see if a blind man could outsmart the agent. Diana had thrown something in about how it was too bad he didn't have a tail they could chop off before he ran. Despite the lighthearted mood they all attempted, it was anything but.

Peter had to lobby the Department of Justice to keep him from being sent to a medical prison for his recovery. The DOJ and the Marshals felt that he couldn't contribute his end of the deal that was keeping him out of prison. Peter had argued that he could still contribute; they'd just have to change the means in which that occurred.

He was supposed to head back to the office tomorrow, but Neal was already afraid he wouldn't be able to cut it. He relied on his eyes for just about everything, especially his contributions to the FBI. His eyes were what allowed him to look at a painting and pick out details that would lead to a forger. His eyes were how he judged people's reactions and motivations in order to lead the conversation the way he wanted. Without his eyes, he was nothing.

The previous day, he had sat on the balcony with a pad of paper and a pencil. He wanted to prove to himself that his eyes didn't matter. He'd sketched on the paper, recalling from memory what Elizabeth looked like the day she had burst in to the office to tell Peter about winning the bid to cater a Presidential event. The way her eyes lit up, the flow of her hair... they were all things he wanted to capture. But as he applied the pencil to the paper, he couldn't judge if his drawing was what he wanted. He couldn't see the areas that needed shading. He couldn't tell if his hand had smudged the spot he'd just worked on.

He had ripped the page from his sketchbook, balled it in his fist and tossed it across the balcony. After that, he kept the pencils and sketchbooks away. He couldn't think about what he had lost. Maybe if some of his vision came back it would be better, but right then, he felt helpless.

"Hey," Peter's voice startled Neal.

He had always heard that a blind person's hearing was second to none, but so far his hadn't improved. In many ways, it was worse because when he did hear something there wasn't a visual reference to go with it. Time would change that he figured, but he'd rather not have the amount of time it would take for that to happen.

"Hey," he answered back, sounding nothing like his normal self. "I'd say it was nice to see you, but..." Neal trailed off, the attempt at levity falling short.

"You ready for tomorrow?" Peter asked, ignoring the lame attempt at a joke. "I can get you another week. The doctors said things might start coming back by then."

"The longer you stall, the more they'll want to toss me back in the system and throw away the key. I managed prison the first time, but I don't think I could do it again without my eyes," Neal admitted. He couldn't see Peter's face, but he imagined the other man was frowning. Neal hated reminding Peter that prison wasn't a cakewalk, even if he made it look that way.

Peter didn't respond right away and Neal could hear the rustling of paper.

"This is beautiful, Neal," Peter's voice was soft and had a hint of awe in it. "Why the hell would you toss it?"

Neal froze. The only thing Peter could be looking at was the picture he'd attempted of El. His silence and probably a panicked look on his face must have alerted Peter that something was amiss.

"When did you draw this?" he questioned, his interrogation voice shining through.

"Yesterday," Neal mumbled. "Probably looks horrible, like a Picasso. Not that Picasso is bad, but when you're going for realism, then it's not right."

"Neal," Peter said and then he felt a sturdy hand on his shoulder. "This is perfect. All your work is perfect, but this is the first original piece of yours I've seen and it's... It's El."

"Don't lie, Peter," Neal said bitterly.

"No lies," Peter said, squeezing his shoulder. "If this is how you draw blind, I can't even begin to imagine what an original Neal Caffrey would look like when you can see again."

"Don't get your hopes up, Peter. It might be better to just send me to the hospital place they wanted-"

Neal didn't get to finish. Peter's hands grasped his face and he could feel the other man's breath on him.

"You're going to do everything the doctors say and you will get your eyesight back. We've got a plan at the office to help you out until you get partial vision back. It won't be ideal, but you are going to do it."

Neal just nodded his head with what little movement Peter's hands allowed.

"You're going to let us help you. Jones and Diana were working out things at the office this past week. June, Mozzie and El are here for you. And I will be too."

Neal felt a tear streak down his face and he flushed. He hadn't cried since the doctors told him. Crying wasn't something he did in general.

"And Neal," he felt Peter brush one of the tears away. "I have a project I want you to work on. I have an anniversary in about ten months and after seeing your drawing, I actually know what I want to give El. No waiting until the last minute this year. I want a Neal Caffrey original, artist's prerogative as to what it is, as long as I can hang it in our living room. If you have to get your vision back to do it, then you damn well better or El won't get anything and she'll be pissed at both of us."

Neal couldn't speak and he didn't pull away when Peter pulled him into his arms. And he hoped it wasn't his imagination when he saw a flicker of light through the darkness.

Comments

( 45 Campfires — Leave a Comment )
ultracape
Jul. 12th, 2013 02:25 am (UTC)
Aw, made me tear up and I love Peter.
kaylashay
Jul. 12th, 2013 02:31 am (UTC)
Thanks! Peter's going to keep Neal from falling apart. :)
embroiderama
Jul. 12th, 2013 02:28 am (UTC)
Aw Neal! This is great. I believe that losing his vision would hit him this way, and I adore Peter for making things better in the only ways he can.
kaylashay
Jul. 12th, 2013 02:31 am (UTC)
Vision or hand damage would be the worst things in the world for Neal. Maybe loss of voice coming in a close third.

Glad you like!
triskellion
Jul. 12th, 2013 02:28 am (UTC)
Oh, that's beautiful. Peter's perfect, and Neal is so adorable.
kaylashay
Jul. 12th, 2013 02:32 am (UTC)
Thanks! Neal is adorably huggable. :)
hurinhouse
Jul. 12th, 2013 03:55 am (UTC)
beautiful. I love the part at the end, where peter's taking charge and neal just nods because he's too torn up to speak. so bittersweet. peter will do whatever it takes.
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Peter will keep Neal on track. :)
samanddeanfan1
Jul. 12th, 2013 04:39 am (UTC)
So sweet. He sets such a high bar for himself.
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:49 pm (UTC)
Neal does set things high for himself. Thanks!
pucktheplayer
Jul. 12th, 2013 05:05 am (UTC)
Oh my God, I LOVED this! The picture of El...the promise... Simultaneously heartwrenching and heartwarming... my heart is worn out now, LOL!
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I bet the picture of El looked awesome despite his blindness. :)
sinkwriter
Jul. 12th, 2013 06:26 am (UTC)
I liked this piece a lot, found myself wanting it to keep going, to find out if Neal would be okay and how exactly Peter was going to make things work for him in the meantime. It was a very interesting story and set up all sorts of possibilities. Is this a standalone story, or will you be writing more?

I also thought you captured well the way Neal would probably feel in this circumstance. (Also made me want to see this story as a scene on the show. I think seeing the picture he drew without sight would give me chills.)

Anyway, good stuff! Thanks for sharing.
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:51 pm (UTC)
As of now, it's a standalone, but I might revisit if there was a prompt that fits it. I do monthly prompt posts which is where this originate from. :)

Blindness really would hit Neal hard in many ways.

Glad you liked!
pipilj
Jul. 12th, 2013 06:26 am (UTC)
This was lovely.
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
kanarek13
Jul. 12th, 2013 06:51 am (UTC)
Awww, so heartbreaking and so amazingly true to character. This is how it would affect Neal. And Peter is perfect here, making it better the best way he can, the only way that works - by being there and reminding Neal and he is not alone ♥

Wonderful \o/
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
frith_in_thorns
Jul. 12th, 2013 09:06 am (UTC)
Awwww, poor Neal! I loved Peter being there for him, and knowing what to say. I really enjoyed this.
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Peter will help things along for him. :)
sexycazzy
Jul. 12th, 2013 10:17 am (UTC)
Even though I haven't watched White Collar beyond Season 1, I so could see Neal reacting like this and Peter forcing him out of the pity he was feeling for himself! Awww! :-) well-written with Neal's emotions/thoughts and Peter's actions, just purrfect! :D
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Peter will have his work cut out for him with blind and semi-blind Neal as he heals.
calis_1st
Jul. 12th, 2013 10:38 am (UTC)
This is beautiful. I'd love to see Jones and Diana helping him at the office, and Peter is awesome just being Peter. Thanks for posting this.
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
ladyrose42
Jul. 12th, 2013 12:33 pm (UTC)
Neal being forced to evaluate himself thru loss of sight reads so realistic. Your banner app-ly demos just what Neal has lost the ability to do for the time being. The influences on his orginal art should be interesting as his vision returns in varying degrees of light and dark perception.
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:54 pm (UTC)
You got a lucky banner rotation since I have several! That banner does fit the fic. :)

The influence aspect would be very interesting on Neal's work. *ponders*
sinfulslasher
Jul. 12th, 2013 04:18 pm (UTC)
Oh sweetie! Thank you so much, this was absolutely amazing! Totally IC for Neal (and Peter!), with such a bittersweet ending. I'd love, love, LOVE to see a follow-up with Neal creating his original Caffrey for El. ♥
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:55 pm (UTC)
Yay! Glad you liked it! I would really like to see some more original Caffrey work myself. :)
cimmerdeux
Jul. 12th, 2013 04:24 pm (UTC)
Neal being able to draw blind wouldn't surprise me a bit especially an original piece because it would come from the heart. I could see him getting his sight back but also see him starting every painting or drawing from now on, with his eyes closed. Great piece, thanks.
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:56 pm (UTC)
Him starting original work with his eyes closed would be interesting... Peter or Mozzie walking in on him using one of his ties as a blindfold while he works. ;)
scarym1
Jul. 12th, 2013 04:56 pm (UTC)
Awesome Story!!! Love how supportive Peter is and how he tells Neal that everyone is there for him.

Would love for there to be more to this. : )
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I have a few inklings of some other stories from this, but can't guarantee anything.
avamclean
Jul. 12th, 2013 05:53 pm (UTC)
Peter might be Neal's lobster. ;)

This was so very sweet and loveable. Thanks for the pick-me-up!
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks!

*ponders lobster comment*
avamclean
Jul. 15th, 2013 06:40 pm (UTC)
It's from Friends. Phoebe refered to Ross as Rachel's lobster.

The writers on the show were under the impression that lobsters mate for life - they don't actually, but it's a cute moment from the show.

Edited at 2013-07-15 06:40 pm (UTC)
aragarna
Jul. 12th, 2013 06:21 pm (UTC)
Oh I can see how terrifying this can be for Neal. And he is definitely not of the patient kind, so it's gonna be a loooong and scary year for him.

But I love how positive and caring Peter was. If you are going through some difficult time, you just hope to have a Peter Burke to help get through it.
Glad you ended on a bit of hope in the end. :-)
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Neal will get better, but he will have a long road. Peter (and everyone else) will keep him on track though. :)
dennih23
Jul. 12th, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
Poor Neal – thinking he was going to be able to handle the temporary blindness, but than realizing how difficult it was going to be. Worrying about having to go back to prison, but of course, Peter will keep him out of jail. Glad to see Diana and Jones had something planned for helping Neal at the office. And of course June, Moz, and El will be there for him too.

Neal’s drawing is probably perfect even if he cannot see it. The hope at the end of the story is wonderful.
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Part of Neal even thinks he needs to be sent back to jail so he's not a burden on his friends. They'll straighten him out. :)
hawk_soaring
Jul. 12th, 2013 08:45 pm (UTC)
*sniffle* This was very beautiful.
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
lauracollared
Jul. 13th, 2013 07:26 pm (UTC)
:crying:

Peter is such a good man. Neal is so lucky to have him -- to have all of them. <3 ;__;

Beautiful job.
kaylashay
Jul. 14th, 2013 11:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Neal is very lucky! :)
qwertyfaced
Jul. 16th, 2013 05:07 pm (UTC)
Gosh, that would be just dreadful for Neal! I wonder, though... Do you think that after years of forgeries, Neal really lets himself have his own distinctive style when he's working for himself? Maybe this would strip down the layers of someone who's learned to create everything but his own vision.

Nice fic, thank you for sharing!
leesa_perrie
Jul. 17th, 2013 06:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was lovely. Angsty and full of comfort too - just what I needed!
( 45 Campfires — Leave a Comment )

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