When Paths Collide Chapter 4
Author notes: Well this is going to be continuing of Agent Afloat: The Music Series (NCIS) but with a White Collar Twist. Basically this is going to continue a few months after where agent left off. Tony is still out of work since his lungs are not 100 % and he's still on Dr. Pitt's orders to take it easy. (You can read the other story on my site)
This story is going to have twist and turns and you'll get to meet a few new characters. So sit back and enjoy the ride. Oh, if you have the need to bully just don't read. Thank you.
Summary: With the outcome of "Judgment Day" Neal seeks help in DC from people from his past he kept hidden. Will this trip cause Neal to finally find what he is looking for? Or is prison his only way out for his life? Or will he sacrifice everything for the ones he loves?
She stood in the doorframe and watched him paint. After her nap and conversation with her dad she decided to talk to him. Hearing the soft jazz coming from the art room she smiled. He found it. Let's see what he came up with. Going to the kitchen, she grabbed two wine glasses and a bottle of wine. Softly on swift feet, she took her spot back at the doorframe.
Feeling a presence behind him, Neal put down the paintbrush and turned around and smiled. Ducking his head, he blushed.
"I…I hope I didn't wake you. I…I hope you don't mind."
Shaking her head, she walked up to him. Lifting his head, she smiled. "I was hoping you would find this room. I kind of figured it would help calm you." Waving the wine glasses, she clicked them together. "Care to join me?"
Never one to refuse a good wine, Neal grabbed the bottle and headed towards the small sofa and sat down. Swiftly opening the bottle, Jess walked over and handed him the glasses. Pouring delicately he handed one glass to her and set the bottle down on the table taking his glass. Swishing the purple liquid in the glass, he took a sip and smiled.
"You have good taste."
Blushing, she ducked her head. "Thanks. Besides Tony, I haven't really had anyone to enjoy it with."
Raising his glass, Neal toasted. "To good friends and wine."
Clicking their glasses, they enjoyed the afternoon knowing that conversation would come later.
Kramer paced his office like a caged animal. His teams haven't even found hide or hair of Neal and he was getting pissed. Pounding his desk, he finally sat down. His door opened and one of his trusted informants walked in and locked the door. Pulling out a folder, he handed it to his boss and sat in one of the comfortable chairs on the side of the office. Kramer looked at the file and slammed it on his desk.
"Son of a bitch! What the hell are Gibbs and Fornell doing talking to each other?"
His informant pulled out his recorder and handed it to him. Kramer pressed play. After the recording finished, he smiled.
"Oh this is good." Grabbing a notepad, he wrote down some names and handed it to him.
"I want you to call the names on this list and tell them to meet at the usual spot."
His informant nodded and left the office.
Kramer sat in his chair and smiled wickedly. "Oh I have you now Caffery. You can't hide from me for much longer."
He turned his chair and looked out towards the Washington skyline knowing he had a good plan in place.
Walking into the large house, Gibbs and Tony quietly walked into the kitchen hoping they weren't disturbing the quietness. Setting the take out on the counter, they followed the sound of soft jazz coming from the room. They stood in the doorway and watched Jess and Neal drinking their wine, leaning against each other. Tony shook his head and huffed.
"Well isn't this nice."
Jess turned at the tone as Neal almost dropped his glass. Jess glared at Tony as Neal tried to gather his composure and scoot far away from her as possible knowing it looked like he was taking advantage of her. Jess put her glass down and stood up. Walking towards her brother, she poked him in the chest not too lightly.
"I don't care if you don't feel well, but you know better than to have that tone in my house. This isn't NCIS and he isn't a suspect. I can't really believe you treating my guest like that."
She continued to glare at the both of them. Neal saw the stand off and knew a quiet retreat was a good thing right now. He put his glass down and stood up. Ducking his head, he brushed passed him and headed up the stairs. He knew when he wasn't welcomed. Jess sighed as she watched him trudge up the stairs and then the door shut softly. Gibbs glared at both of them. His boss tone clearly evident in his voice as he spoke.
"I'm going to check on him. You two duke it out then we can talk as civilize people after I talk to Neal."
Gibbs stormed up the stairs leaving Tony and Jess to have their conversation or possible sparing session.
Jess glared at her brother and went to take the wine glasses to the kitchen. Tony stood there with his arms crossed against his chest. After a few moments, he sighed.
"Jess, I'm sorry. I'm just trying to process all this. I just don't want your heart broken again because of Neal."
Taking a few deep control breaths, she gently set the glasses in the sink. Walking towards her brother, she grabbed his arm and sat them down on the couch. She turned to him, shaking her head.
"Tony, I know you're protecting me but that tone was uncalled for. He wasn't taking advantage of me. I've already scolded him, but I also trust him." She turned towards the painting and then back at Tony. "I gave him two choices. He can either run and I don't stop him or he can stay. As you can see he chose to stay."
Tony huffed. "You know I was against this from the start."
Jess smiled and leaned over and kissed his cheek. "I wouldn't accept anything less, Tony. He needs a safe haven right now and you treating him like a suspect isn't what he needs right now. He's got enough running in that mind of his right now and he doesn't need your disappointment and anger directed at him."
He looked up at the stairs and then at the floor, knowing she was right. Just like her father. Oh boy I'm surprised she hasn't head slapped me. "Maybe I should apologize."
She hugged him. "Let dad take care of him first then you can show your sign of weakness."
He hugged her back. "Smart ass."
She giggled. "But you love me anyway." She tugged his arm and pulled him off the couch. "Come on. Let's go set up the peace offering in the dining room."
He leaned against her as they walked into the kitchen and set up dinner.
Neal sat down heavily on the bed. Putting his head in hands, he kept the tears at bay. Hearing the door creak open, he looked up and then back down at the floor. Gibbs sighed and shut the door allowing them to have their privacy. He sat down next to him and reached over pulling him against his chest.
"Talk to me kiddo."
Neal sighed. "I…I wasn't taking advantage." His voice started to quiver. "I…I swear."
Gibbs gently head slapped him. "Hey, kiddo I'm not mad and I know well enough you weren't taking advantage. You're better than that Neal."
"But Tony doesn't." Neal muttered.
Lifting his chin, Gibbs wiped the tear from his cheek. "Let me handle him. He knows you mean well."
Neal sighed and looked back at the floor. "God, how many people are going to hate me since I've disappointed them? Why can't they understand what I did was for the good of everyone?"
Gibbs reached into his pocket and pulled out a cell phone. Grabbing Neal's hand, he placed it in it. "This is a secure phone. No one can trace it." He tapped it. "Call him. He's very worried kiddo. He's not disappointed in you far from it."
The tears finally slipped unshamlessly down his cheeks as they dripped on the cell phone. "I…I…"
Gibbs pulled him back into a hug. "Take your time. Compose yourself and call him. He understands more than you know, Neal." Patting him on the shoulder, he got up and left the room leaving Neal alone with his decision.
Neal looked at the door and then back down at the phone. Wiping his tears away, he flipped the phone opened and dialed the all too familiar number hoping he made the right decision. He picked it up after two rings.
Neal took a deep breath to gather his courage. After a moment he spoke. "Hi Peter."
Peter sat on the couch and tried to get into the game. He sighed and took a swig of his beer hoping that it would help. Elizabeth watched her husband's heart break more and more knowing the gap was something she couldn't fill. Shaking her head sadly, she went and sat beside him. Grabbing his hand, she squeezed letting him know she was there for him. The cell phone vibrating on the table broke the moment. Peter picked it up and answered it.
The shaky voice answered. "Hi Peter."
Peter sat up straight gripping the phone in his hand. "Oh my God, Neal. Are you okay?"
Hearing the concern in Peter's voice, Neal sniffed. "I…I'm okay Peter. I…I'm so sorry for all this."
Peter knew that tone all too well. He felt the waves of guilt through the phone. Taking a deep calming breath to control his rising emotions, he finally spoke. "I'm not disappointed Neal. Not by a long shot. I'm just glad that you're safe."
The voice wavered. "Y…you are?"
Peter nodded. "Yes, kiddo I am. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You did what you thought was right. I'm just glad you called Gibbs and he made sure you're safe."
Elizabeth grabbed the phone wanting to hear his voice. "I'm also proud of you Neal."
Sniffling intensified as Neal's tears broke through. "El…El…"
Elizabeth sniffed. "Honey, listen to me okay. We love you Neal and the both of us just want you safe. You'll get your freedom. We'll make sure of it."
Grabbing the phone from his wife, Peter spoke. "She's right Neal. You will get your freedom and this whole mess will be taken care of kiddo."
Neal hiccupped. "Th….thanks guys."
Peter smiled. "You're welcome. You take care of yourself and don't do anything stupid or piss Gibbs off."
Neal smiled. "I'll try. I can't promise anything."
Peter shook his head. "There's my Neal I know and love. Stay out of trouble and I'll talk to you soon, okay?"
"Okay, thanks Peter. Give El a hug for me."
They hung up. Peter hugged his wife.
"I think he's going to be okay, Hun. I think he's going to come out of this fine."
El held him. "I think so too." She kissed him. "I love you."
He kissed her back. "I love you too."
They leaned back and enjoyed the rest of the game.
Putting the phone on the nightstand, Neal got up and went into the en suite bathroom. Turning on the water, he grabbed the wash cloth and began to wash his face. After a few minutes, he turned the water off and laid the cloth across the sink to let it dry. He looked at the mirror and sighed at his reflection.
"Here's looking at you kid."
Shaking his head, he walked down the stairs and headed towards the kitchen. Hearing the chatter from the dining room, he decided to venture in there. Jess smiled and stood up. Pulling out a chair, she pointed to the plate.
"Dad brought comfort food. Sit down and eat, Neal. We won't bite."
Seeing her smile, he walked over and sat down. Looking down at his plate, he grabbed a fork and ate in silence avoiding the glares or stares from the group. The clanging fork got his attention.
"You know I don't approve of you being here right?"
Neal gulped and nodded. The other two looked at Tony like he grew another head, but it didn't stop him from venting. They knew he needed to voice his opinion, but knew they would step in if it got to rough.
"I was totally against this from the start, but hey who the hell listens to me anyways."
Shuddering Neal put his fork down. The tears welled up in his eyes.
"I…I'll pack my bags and leave. I…I won't bother you anymore."
Another fork hit the plate hard.
"Like hell you are! It's not safe for you right now to leave. You're safe here kiddo."
Gibbs glared at his husband. "You know I thought I was a bastard but this is just…" He took a deep calming breath. "We understand how you feel Tones." He pointed to Neal. "He understands, but right now he doesn't need your disappointment in him. It's bad enough people use him, but its worse that his friends don't accept him and want to protect him."
Tony took a deep breath to calm his anger. He knew his husband had a point. He was still leery of Neal staying there but he also knew this isn't what he needed. He knew Neal gave up everything just to call Gibbs. After a few moments, Tony spoke.
"I'm sorry, Neal. Jet is right. Your safety is first and foremost."
"Rule number six, Tony."
All three of them looked at him and then burst out laughing. Neal's head popped up and a first true smile appeared on his face.
Tony shook his head, smiling. "Rule number 8."
Neal thought for a moment and then snapped his fingers. "Better to seek forgiveness than ask for permission."
Jess patted his hand. "Wow I'm shocked you still remember all the rules."
Neal squeezed her hand. "Hey having a Gunnery SSgt. Looked after you for most of your life they tend to get drilled into you."
Tony shook his head and picked up his fork. "Try being married to one. Okay Hallmark moment finished. I want to finish eating."
They laughed and finally tucked into their dinner and truly enjoyed each other's company.