Changing Teams: Epilogue

by J. Rosemary Moss

~oOo~

Peter woke up in the guestroom bed with his arms full of Neal Caffrey. A warm, naked Neal Caffrey who was snuggled against him. Peter smiled and kissed the top of the boy's head.

No, not boy. Neal was a grown man. He was in his thirties, for God's sake. But even after last night, it was hard not to think of him as a kid. And it was Neal's own fault. Peter thought back to Neal's days as a conman. His forgeries and scams, however brilliant, had really just been the work of a selfish brat showing off.

Peter shook his head as he ran his fingers through Neal's hair. It was hard to reconcile the sweet, generous-even heroic-side of the kid with the side that was so self-absorbed he had scarcely noticed the pain and suffering of his marks. Some of those marks had faced devastating financial losses. Why hadn't Neal cared?

But it had never been about the marks. Peter was pretty sure Neal hadn't set out to ruin anyone's life. To him, it had all been a game. Conning and forging gave him a chance to test his wits both against his marks and against the FBI. And it won him attention. Neal craved attention-he could never get enough of it.

Well, now he was caught and he had all the attention he could want-both from Peter and from Peter's division of the FBI. And it was damn hard to grudge him that.

Peter pulled Neal even closer and sighed. Four years in prison, when all the kid needed was someone to pay him some mind and set firm boundaries for him. Not that he didn't deserve the sentence, but still . . .

Neal yawned himself awake just then and glanced up at Peter. "'Morning, partner," he mumbled with a smile.

Peter grinned at his mussed-up look and kissed the top of his head again. "Morning."

Neal took a minute to stretch and then settled down facing him. "You're not lying there thinking last night was a mistake, are you?"

"Oh, I know it was a mistake," Peter informed him. "Sleeping with you is wrong on so many levels that I don't know where to start."

Neal didn't look surprised-but he didn't look abashed either. "Are you sorry it happened?"

"No."

"So . . . you're going to keep making this mistake?"

"Every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday night, according to El."

Neal grinned. "And one Saturday night a month."

"And one Saturday night a month. But there's a condition."

"Something tells me there are lots of conditions."

"Probably," Peter owned, "but I'm only worried about one right now." He paused, considering his words. "Neal, I'm not willing to share you. I know it's not fair, because I have both you and Elizabeth-"

"But I have to be monogamous. Yeah, Elizabeth warned me about that-but I would've figured it out on my own." He paused to shrug. "I don't mind.. Not everything has to be fair. I mean, come on, man. You own me. You get to call the shots."

"You sure about this? You have to choose between me and chasing after Kate."

"That choice has been in front of me the whole time-it has nothing to do with us sleeping together. And I've already chosen you, but you won't hear it."

Peter rolled his eyes. "Because you can't just decide this on impulse."

"Peter, I still care for Kate and I have to do what I can to make sure she's safe. But I-look, I won't break my probation. I won't run away from you, ok? And-and as much as I love her-what we had is over."

He paused again, this time to reach out and stroke Peter's hair. "You're my lover now, Agent Burke. I'm not going anywhere. And even if-well, even if this whole, ah, polygamy thing doesn't work out for us, I'm still staying around."

Peter stared at him for a moment and then nodded, satisfied. "Good," he said. "Because whether or not we stay lovers, I still own you."

That must have been the right response, because the kid smiled and seemed to relax. No-not kid, Peter reminded himself. This was going to turn into his mantra: Neal is an adult, not a child. Neal is an adult, not a child.

Neal, meanwhile, nestled against him again. "I have a condition too," he announced.

"Oh yeah? What's that?"

"Mozzie has to be welcome here. I want him to be able to visit me, have dinner with us, hang out-you know, whatever."

Peter stared up at the ceiling. "Just what I need. Another conman in the house."

"Peter-"

"Ok. But he can't move in, Neal. It's not going to be like June's place, with him sleeping on the couch all the time."

"I'll still have June's place for now. And I'm hoping she'll let Moz have those rooms if I decide to give them up, remember? But I still want him to be able to crash here on occasion."

"Only in the basement with you," Peter warned. "And not on a Sunday, Monday or Tuesday night. Or one Saturday night a month."

Neal smiled up at him, contented. "Deal."

Peter sighed. "You're going to tell him everything, aren't you?"

"Yeah-but we can trust him. Hell, he'll think better of you for starting up a clandestine affair with me."

"I thought he was jealous of, ah-?"

"My feelings for you? And the fact that I've changed teams and given up a life of crime?"

"Yeah."

Neal pushed himself up for a moment to brush Peter's lips with his own.

"He'll be jealous. But if I'm happy, he'll be happy for me."

"Because his world revolves around you."

Neal raised his eyebrows. "Doesn't everyone's?"

Peter laughed and pulled him closer, knowing there was no point in arguing. He'd just turned his own life upside down for this convict-and right now, it didn't feel like a mistake at all.

~The End~