A/N: Jessi, you wanted Peter, Neal, and Christmas. It's not very slashy but I hope you enjoy it all the same. Merry Christmas!
The first Christmas Peter spent away from El was the first year he had spent tailing Neal Caffrey across the globe. He sat in a cold hotel room in a city he wasn’t entirely certain was the one he needed to be in, shuffling papers and hanging up on Diana halfway through her updates. He sighed and dialled El at home but she didn’t answer, if the look on his face was any indication.
Neal hung the binoculars around his neck, called Kate and told her they needed to be out of the city now, and halfway thought about slipping a Christmas card under Agent Burke’s door, just to piss him off.
The next Christmas, Neal was so deep underground, Peter spent the actual evening at home, sipped eggnog with his wife, failed spectacularly at lighting a fire, and gave El a diamond necklace.
Neal spent the day wrapped around Kate in a posh suite somewhere warm and sandy. He’d just finished a great con and he revealed in the fact that he had the holiday lull to play with before the FBI sicced their sniffer dog on him once again and he had to uproot Kate and call in some favors with Moz and screw over the entire world.
This was the life.
“Neal Caffrey,” Peter laughed into the receiver. “You remembered me on Christmas, how thoughtful.”
“I’m not a complete bastard,” he teased in return. Peter stayed quiet which made the smile on Neal face fall. “Don’t jump to my defense or anything.”
“Pretty sure you don’t need me to,” Peter joked. There was a long silence and Neal could hear little ambient, domestic noises in the background. Peter sighed at him, from across an ocean, and said, “I’m going to put you in jail, Neal.”
“You’re not tracing this call. I know you aren’t so don’t even pretend, Peter.”
“I should probably be worried that you know that-” a pause “-ask me why I’m not.” Neal said nothing so Peter continued. “El says she forgives you.”
Neal looked around at the small flat he was hiding in, alone for the first time in years. “For what?”
“For stealing my time.”
Neal wanted to make a joke, say something flippant about how he should be soundly punished for that, but it was too true, too close to both of their real hearts, so instead he sighed, shuffled the phone into his other hand and said, “Merry Christmas, Peter.”
“Merry Christmas, Neal.”
Neal made sure he hung up first.
Peter had to say it was impressive that Neal managed to recreate those kinds of colors from a prison cell.
He also knew that Neal was just sending him cards to screw with his mind.
“Merry Christmas to you too,” Peter sighed and threw it down on the pile of other well-wishes and Season’s Greetings. El will file it away with the rest later.
Neal can believe it. It’s really easy to believe, actually, that Peter and El’s house would be like the North Pole. And it’s easy for him to sit back on the their couch, Satchmo heavy on his feet, and a mug of hot chocolate (laced with a little something and a wink from El), while the fire flickered and the only other light in the room came from the lit tree.
“This one says ‘To Neal’.” El was sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the pile of presents spilling from under the tree (and they had a real tree, one that shred all over the brightly colored wrapping paper and smelled sharp and wonderful), doling them out cheerfully. Peter sat next to her in the armchair, holding his own cup of wicked hot chocolate with a great blob of melting whipped cream and cinnamon on top which Peter kept sticking his nose in and El kept kissing away.
“You shouldn’t have,” Neal said, because he thinks El’s the greatest person alive because she likes Moz and she doesn’t hold a grudge against him and she makes Peter happy.
Neal looked up at Peter in surprise but he was hiding his smile behind his mug and Neal couldn’t help but laugh when Peter, invariably, looked up at him with whipped cream on his nose and said, “Well, open it.”
As Neal tore into the wrapping paper, the crackle of the fire and the smell of Christmas surrounding him, he realized that this was probably the first proper Christmas he’d ever had. El leaned over and wiped Peter’s nose with her thumb and Neal knew that this, this was the life.