Fandom: White Collar
Characters/Pairings: Peter, Elizabeth, Peter/Elizabeth
Warnings: Character death
Word Count: 816
Disclaimer: I don't own White Collar and never will. No copyright infringement intended.
Summary: Six months after Neal's unexpected death, the Burkes are having a hard time dealing with their grief.
They don’t talk about it. It’s like the name “Neal” is forbidden in the Burke house. Mozzie and June visit a lot, but they both know not to mention Neal Caffrey’s name.
Elizabeth cries at the drop of a hat. Peter has yet to cry, but Elizabeth is expecting that to happen as soon as Peter accepts that Neal is never coming back. He knows the ex-con is dead, but it’s like he’s still expecting Neal to walk through their door unannounced. Like always.
Elizabeth is worried about Peter’s reaction when he finally breaks down. He’s been burying his grief for six months. That can’t be good for her husband.
Then again, she’s immediately shut down every time she tries to bring up Neal. It’s hurting her too, but Elizabeth is sick of Peter not grieving.
Elizabeth still remembers that horrible day in her nightmares. Peter and Neal had been working a mortgage case of all things, when their suspect shot the ex-con out of the blue. She had been working when the phone call from Jones came in.
Neal had been shot in the chest, and bled out as Peter tried to save him. When Elizabeth got to the hospital, Peter was refusing to leave the body. He kept rambling on and on about how Neal was asleep and he just needed to wake up.
It had taken Elizabeth and Mozzie nearly two hours to convince Peter to leave the hospital.
And here they were six months later, still dealing with their grief.
“Peter, I want to stop by Neal’s grave and put down some flowers!” Elizabeth called to her husband, hoping this wouldn’t end up badly. Bringing up Neal always tended to end with tears for her and Peter going up to their bedroom to watch TV.
“I don’t think you should, El! Everything’s okay.” Yup, that was Peter still thinking that nothing was wrong.
And that’s when Elizabeth decided enough was enough. It was time for Peter to deal with his grief and accept that Neal was dead. “Peter, come here!” They were going to talk about Neal and nothing was going to deter them this time. She was tired of tiptoeing around the house and not mentioning Neal on her own. Elizabeth didn’t want to grieve on her own. She wanted to lean on Peter. And he should be able to do the same.
“Okay.” Peter walked into the living room, not expecting what his wife was about to say to him.
“We need to talk, Peter. It’s been six months since Neal’s death. And I know it hurts, but we’re not dealing with it.” She really hoped she could get through to him today. Elizabeth didn’t know what to do if this didn’t work.
Peter flinched and hoped his wife didn’t notice. She had. “We don’t need to talk about this, El. I’m okay. You’re okay. Neal isn’t something we need to discuss.”
“Yes, it is! Peter, you’re not dealing with it! Neal is dead! He’s never coming back. I know it hurts, but you need to understand that. We’re never going to see him again!” Elizabeth hated that she was shouting, but it was too late now. She didn’t want to hurt Peter either, but it was time he grieved.
Peter sighed. “Elizabeth, don’t do this,” he pleaded. He wasn’t ready for this. Peter was doing just fine. He couldn’t take this.
“No, Peter! It’s time you deal with it! Neal’s never going to walk through our door again! You can’t work with him. I won’t have a partner in crime again!” She was crying now, but that was nothing new.
Peter tried desperately to hold back the sobs, but he failed. His knees buckled, and Elizabeth grabbed onto her husband and went down to the floor with him. “I miss him so much, El. What are we supposed to do now? He was my best friend. It hurts.”
“I know it hurts, Peter. It’s probably always going to hurt. But we can grieve and mourn together. You don’t have to do this alone.” Elizabeth rocked her husband back and forth to calm him a little.
“I don’t know what to do,” the sobbing Peter admitted.
“I know you don’t, but we’re in this together. We’ll get through it as a family, Peter.” Elizabeth continued to rock Peter back and forth.
It was going to be hard getting through Neal’s death, but the Burkes could do it.
They could get through anything together. Grieving was has a hard process to go through, but they could do that as a family.
As Peter and Elizabeth cried over Neal together for the first time in six months, they couldn’t help but wonder what life would have been like had Neal survived.
The Burkes would call June and Mozzie later to have them come and remember Neal.
The grieving process had finally begun.