pooh_collector: (pooh again)
[personal profile] pooh_collector
Title: You Live and You Learn and You Hope not to Lose
Author/artist: pooh_collector
Characters: Diana Berrigan, Peter Burke, Neal Caffrey
Rating: G
Genres: Gen, Hurt/Comfort, Angst
Warnings: Nada
Author's/artist's notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] runthecon for the prompt “I can’t believe you did that.”

Despite having a girlfriend who was an ER doc, Diana despised hospitals. It wasn’t the antiseptic smell, or the mint green walls, or the somber understanding of the importance of what went on within the walls and halls. It was a feeling of loss that sat heavy in her chest whenever she passed through the double doors. She wasn’t one to overanalyze, but it wasn’t a feeling that came from within herself. It wasn’t about Charlie, or any of the other personal losses she had experienced. It was about the losses in every room around her. The boy who broke his leg just as football season was starting, crushing his scholarship dreams; the woman with Alzheimer’s who was slowing losing her connection to everything important to her; the wife and children of the man losing his life to n-stage cancer. Diana didn’t accept loss lightly, never did, never would and she didn’t enjoy being surrounded by its presence.

The reception desk personnel directed her to room 334. The atmosphere was more subdued on the third floor than it had been in the lobby. The sound of her boots clacking against the linoleum seemed overly loud to her ears, so she hurried down the hallway until she found her destination.

Peter was sitting hunched over in the chair beside the bed, the wrinkles in his suit a match for the wrinkles marring his forehead.

“Hey, boss,” she said softly as she stepped into the room.

He looked up and smiled fleetingly before replying. “Hey.”

“How’s he doing?” She asked, trying not to look at the man lying in the bed just yet.

Peter shrugged. “He’ll be okay.”

Diana didn’t miss his use of the future tense, but she didn’t want to get into the specifics, so she simply nodded in reply.

Peter rose from his chair. “Thanks for coming, for sitting with him. I’ll be back in a couple of hours, after I get Satch settled and get a shower.” He gazed back over his shoulder, at the bed Diana still refused to look at. “He’s probably just going to sleep, but I didn’t want him to be alone, just in case.”

She nodded again. “It’s okay. I’m glad you asked me to come.” Regardless of her discomfort, it was the truth.

Then Peter was gone and she was left alone standing just inside the doorway. She took a deep breath and moved to the chair that her boss had just vacated. It was the same miserable, molded-plastic contraption found in hospitals everywhere, but it was the only option other than hovering beside the bed. She took off her jacket, draped it across the back of the chair and sat, her eyes cast down at the scratched, grey floor.

This was silly, she decided after several long moments. She didn’t cower, or hide, from anything. She faced things head on, the way Charlie taught her to.

Neal was lying on his back, sleeping, his breathing even and just audible in the silence of the space. There was an IV line stuck in the back of one of his hands and a large bandage taped to the side of his head closest to her, a small blotch of red in its center.

He would be all right. Peter wouldn’t have said so if it wasn’t the truth. And once he was, she was going to give him the reaming of his life.

Her thoughts jumped back to the early morning, to the dingy warehouse in Hoboken their suspects were using to print their counterfeit 20s. It was startlingly similar to the corrugated-metal building where they had discovered Curtis Hagen forging the Victory bonds. Neal had put himself in harm’s way on that day too, she remembered ruefully.

This morning, Arthur Rickman, this cabal’s ringleader had surprised them, coming out from behind a stack of crates just behind Diana, his gun cocked and leveled straight at her.

Neal hadn’t hesitated, nor had he obviously taken a moment to rationally consider the consequences of stepping between two armed adversaries while calling her name in warning.

She shook her head to clear away the image of Neal reeling from the impact of the bullet that Rickman fired before falling to the concrete floor. “I can’t believe you did that. What the hell were you thinking?” Diana asked, barely remembering to keep her voice low. She was seething, but whether her anger was really directed at Neal for his bone headedness or at herself, she couldn’t say. Or maybe, it was more accurate to conclude that she didn’t want to say.

She wasn’t fourteen and Neal wasn’t Charlie. She could defend herself and she had, which is why Rickman was somewhere else in this same hospital handcuffed to a guardrail.

“I certainly wasn’t thinking I was going to get shot.” His voice was low, his words slightly slurred. He hadn’t moved and his eyes were still closed, but he was clearly no longer asleep.

“You weren’t shot. It’s only a graze,” Diana snapped back in reply. It was an automatic response, one that on any other day would have been appropriate for the relationship the two of them had developed over the past year. But as the words flew from her mouth she realized how unfitting they were under the circumstances. He had quite possibly saved her life just hours ago.


“I’m sorry. That wasn’t fair.”

Neal blinked open his somewhat glazed eyes and turned his head slightly on the pillow to look at her. Charlie’s eyes had been blue too.

“No, not shot exactly, but I’m pretty sure I heard someone say something about a minor skull fracture.”

His tone was light, despite the situation and the harshness of her words. “If it helps, I promise not to do it again.”

“It might help, if you weren’t so damn impulsive.” She tried to match his tone, to catch the cadence of their usual banter, but her heart wasn’t in it. She had come too close to losing something today, something she was only just realizing was important to her.

Remarkably, a full-wattage Caffrey smile appeared on his face. “It’s part of my charm.”

“Well, stop being charming and start being careful. Please,” she added to take away the string of her tone. She hated giving anything of herself away to him, to anyone, but it was a small price to pay if it would help keep him alive.

His smile faded and then his face betrayed the pain he was obviously feeling. “Will you take one out of two? I’ve worked far too hard on the charming part to give it up now.”

She would never admit it to him, not if she lived to be one hundred and ten, but she enjoyed his charm, if nothing else it was amusing as much as it was exasperating, and it was working even now while he was lying injured in a hospital bed. “Yeah, I’ll take one out of two.”

He closed his eyes then and was asleep again moments later.

Diana felt the weight in her chest ease and she smiled softly at Neal, since he was no longer awake to see it. There would be no losses for her today.

Date: 2016-05-14 08:06 pm (UTC)
angelita26: (Neal&Diana)
From: [personal profile] angelita26
Awwwwwww! I love it! Diana and Neal have a very cool relationship, and I love how you wrote them here. I can definitely see Diana chastising him in the hospital bed, and Neal negotiating how much he'll change. They're such a fun dynamic. Thank you for sharing! (and for the awesome prompt! :D)

Date: 2016-05-17 12:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Awwwwwwww! Thanks, ang! It is fun to play with Diana and Neal's 'friendship.' It's such an interesting dynamic.

Date: 2016-05-14 08:06 pm (UTC)
ultra_fic: (W Rainbow)
From: [personal profile] ultra_fic
That's beautiful! Neal would totally save Diana, and this look inside her head afterwards reads very true to character. Good job :)

Date: 2016-05-17 12:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Thank you! That's a wonderful compliment.

Date: 2016-05-14 08:10 pm (UTC)
kanarek13: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kanarek13
D'awwwwwwwww! So much love ♥ Of course Neal wouldn't hesitate to take a bullet for anyone on his team ♥ And Diana's reaction is soooooo very much her, awww ♥ Love it, love it, love it :D \o/ Yay :D

ALso, *pets poor Neal*

Date: 2016-05-17 12:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Neal is impulsive that way, and a there are some very well defined elements of his moral compass.

Thanks, K!!!!

Date: 2016-05-14 09:11 pm (UTC)
vexed_wench: (Default)
From: [personal profile] vexed_wench
Oh your Diana is wonderful.

Date: 2016-05-17 12:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Thank you, she is fun to write.

Date: 2016-05-14 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hurinhouse.livejournal.com
Love it. If course Neal would do this, the little shit. One of the many reasons we love him. Great job with Diana's characterization.

Date: 2016-05-17 12:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Yup, morally ambiguous Neal, is not really so ambiguous when it comes to the people he cares about.

Thanks so much for reading!

Date: 2016-05-14 10:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] reve-silencieux.livejournal.com
That was great! I could totally picture that happening, from Diana's hesitation, to snapping and bantering with Neal. And her feeling like she had almost lost something - a totally unexpected friendship with someone she really did care about. I love fics that focus on Diana and Neal. :D

Date: 2016-05-17 12:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Thanks reve! I had a good time writing this piece from her POV. Maybe I'll even try it again soon.

Date: 2016-05-14 11:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dennih23.livejournal.com
Terrific insight into Diana and her relationship with Neal. They always tease each other, but they do care.

Date: 2016-05-17 12:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Thanks denni! Yeah, Diana all tough on the outside and Neal's all charming shine, but on the inside they are both pretty mushy.

Date: 2016-05-15 02:52 am (UTC)
sapphire2309: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sapphire2309
Oh, this is wonderful! And so adorable :3 Love it <3

Date: 2016-05-17 12:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Thanks sapphire! Glad you enjoyed it!

Date: 2016-05-15 02:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] caseyf123.livejournal.com
I love it! I've always enjoyed the relationship between Diana & Neal. You captured it perfectly. I am always excited to read one of your White Collar fics. Thanks so much for sharing.

Date: 2016-05-17 12:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Awwwww! Thanks so much for that lovely comment! I'm glad you liked it.

Date: 2016-05-15 09:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pipilj.livejournal.com

Daaw love your Diana. pets Neal.

Edited Date: 2016-05-15 09:18 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-05-17 12:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Thanks pipi! It was fun trying to channel Diana for this fic.

Date: 2016-05-15 11:31 pm (UTC)
sherylyn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sherylyn
This is just wonderful!! Glad Neal's going to be completely okay, but I love the interactions between him and Diana, and how much Diana doesn't want to lose him, even if she'd like to kick his ass on multiple occasions ;-)

Really, beautifully done!! <3

Date: 2016-05-17 01:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Oh, thank you so much! They do have quite a crazy, fun relationship.

And, wouldn't we all like to do something to that ass. :)

Date: 2016-05-17 01:04 am (UTC)
sherylyn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sherylyn
LOL Yes, they do!! And YES, we all definitely do!! LOL!!

Date: 2016-05-16 12:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] treonb.livejournal.com
Awwww.. I love your Diana pov!

Date: 2016-05-17 01:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Thank you so much!

Date: 2016-05-16 09:24 pm (UTC)
ext_24338: (Diana Berrigan)
From: [identity profile] leesa-perrie.livejournal.com
Awww, very cute and very them!! Diana is awesome! :D

Date: 2016-05-17 01:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Thank you! I do love how they interact with each other. It was fun to write.

Date: 2016-05-21 03:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joy2190.livejournal.com
Such a lovely story, Pooh. Thanks for sharing!

Date: 2016-05-26 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Thanks for reading, joy! It's good to "see" you.

Date: 2016-05-22 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tjs-whatnot.livejournal.com
Oh god! These two! I love them together! And you have captured so many of the reasons why.

Well done!

Date: 2016-05-26 03:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Awwwwwwwww, thanks! They do have a unique relationship.

Date: 2016-05-23 03:22 am (UTC)
china_shop: Neal, Peter and Elizabeth smiling (Default)
From: [personal profile] china_shop
Awwww! *smishes them so much* This is just awesome -- I love your Diana voice, and how she's been shaped by her past but is still very much herself. <333

Date: 2016-05-26 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Thank you! I haven't written Diana much, and I rather enjoyed the challenge.

Date: 2016-05-24 09:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfshellvenus.livejournal.com
She hated giving anything of herself away to him, to anyone
This is so true of Diana, and I really liked the backstory hinted at here.

I think that reflexive guilt over someone being injured trying to protect you... I suspect every soldier, every law-enforcement officer goes through that. Even if it's objectively unreasonable, it becomes so ingrained, and it's nice to see Diana in that light.

Date: 2016-05-26 03:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pooh-collector.livejournal.com
Thank you! We know so little of Diana's history, but clearly Charlie's influence on her was very deep.


pooh_collector: (Default)

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