doctor_fangeek: (Countermeasures - June)
[personal profile] doctor_fangeek
For some reason I ended up posting this story directly to the [livejournal.com profile] runthecon community, rather than linking back to my LJ from my post like everyone else, and since not everyone on my friends list is part of the comm, I figured I ought to post the story here as well.

Title: Safe Harbor

Author: [livejournal.com profile] doctor_fangeek
Rating: G
Characters/Pairings: Neal, June
Word Count:1494
Warnings: None
Summary: Takes place toward the end of the series finale, with flashbacks to Pilot and the 1st part of Season 2. Neal goes to June for help with his series-ending con. Reflection ensues.
Authors Note: My [livejournal.com profile] runthecon contribution, for the prompt "If you could read my mind" from [livejournal.com profile] elrhiarhodan. The comm is a flash writing challenge, where participants post their fic and tag the next person, who then has 24 hours from the time of the tagging to write and post their own story. Thanks to Elr for tagging me on the Saturday of a long holiday weekend, when I actually had a chance of writing something (double thanks if it was intentional). I was somewhat liberal in my use/interpretation of the prompt, but this is where it took me.


“June.”

“Neal, dear,” June replied. “Join me for a cup of tea?” Neal had known June was home this afternoon, and had caught up with her in the sitting room.

“No, thanks,” he said. It was tempting to use the invitation as a way to delay this conversation, but Neal worried that if he put it off he might lose his nerve entirely.

“June,” he said again. “I…I hate to ask you this, to get you involved at all. But I can’t do it on my own.”

Neal hesitated. June just waited, giving him time to gather himself, her calm, collected presence the anchor he needed.

“You know we’re after the Pink Panthers? Catching them was supposed to mean my freedom, but…I don’t know what I was thinking...they won’t just let something like that go.”

Neal paused again, not sure if he could bring himself to continue. June set her teacup down and stood up, walking around the table to stand in front of him. She smiled at him, but there was sadness in her eyes.

“You’re leaving,” she said. It wasn’t a question, and there was no censure in it. And Neal felt just a little bit of the tension of carrying such a secret around for the past week leave him.

June understood.

But really, she always had.

Mozzie had known Neal for ages. He knew things about Neal that no one else did. They had hatched all sorts of schemes together – ones they’d carried out, and ones that were just exercises in imagination. Peter was not just the FBI’s resident Neal Caffrey expert – which wasn’t such an accomplishment, after all, as it wasn’t as if the FBI was full of contenders for the title – but he was also, Neal had to admit, surprisingly good at seeing past Neal’s distractions and misdirections. The famous Burke ‘gut detector,’ for all Neal might make fun of it, was unsettlingly accurate. And Elizabeth, well, Neal still owed her for hearing the story of his ill-fated prison escape as the bad choice of the hopelessly in love that it was, and not some twisted Machiavellian plot. But in many ways it was June who really knew Neal. She saw him for who he was. And she understood him. From the very start…


Neal had been more than a little frustrated by the selection at the thrift shop Peter had pointed him to, but it was close to the motel the FBI had stuck him in, and beggars really couldn’t be choosers.

Then the elegant lady in the fancy coat and gloves walked in and draped several garment bags over the counter. The clothes she was donating were amazing, so starting up a conversation with her wasn’t hard at all. And he was good at being the pleasant young man who was down on his luck, the one that women of a certain age always wanted to mother. He gave her his best smile. And he realized within a minute or two that she was not someone he could con. It was as if she could read his mind.

“June Ellington,” she introduced herself, holding out one perfectly manicured hand.

“Neal Caffrey,” he said, taking her hand.

She leaned in a bit closer. “When did you get out, Neal?” she said, her voice pitched so only he could hear her. There was no judgment there, only understanding, and Neal soon found himself trying to convince her not to rent her guest room to him. He couldn’t pay her anywhere near what it was surely worth, who knew when Peter Burke, FBI agent, would be stopping by (or barging in, as it might be). And yet the next thing Neal knew, June had brought him home to her ridiculously beautiful Riverside Drive mansion, had shown him around what turned out to be a loft apartment, complete with a balcony with a ridiculously beautiful view of the city, and then he found himself at a small table in the kitchen eating lasagna (which June assured him was no trouble, just reheating some leftovers) and drinking a glass of excellent Beaujolais (and this was where June did want to mother him a bit, gently reminding him to take it easy on the wine for now).


They’d been reminiscing about that first meeting, in fact, just a few days ago. June had thanked Neal for the “everything new” that that meeting had brought into her life, and he had told June that she was his saving grace. And how true was that? Not only had she found him at one of his lowest moments and taken him in, but she had continued to be there for Neal, the calm in the proverbial eye of the storm, over and over…


After Kate died, after Neal got out of prison (again), Neal was, well, a bit of a mess. Okay, that was probably a bit of an understatement. And not that he was okay while he was back inside, but at least he had the mind-numbing routine of prison to fall back on. But then he was back to work, and back to dealing with people who cared about him (okay that was a good thing) and who therefore wanted more from him than keeping his cell neat and following orders (that was harder to manage). Mozzie understood Neal’s need to find Kate’s killer, which meant that he was on board with staying in New York – for the time being. But Neal was pretty sure that with Kate gone, Moz would be ramping up plans for an impending getaway. Because of course Neal would be all too happy to leave now that he had no good reason to stay. Peter, meanwhile, seemed torn between giving Neal time and burying him in work. And while he may have believed Neal when he said he hadn’t wanted to run anymore, Neal had the feeling that Peter might well equate dealing with Neal these days to making his way through a minefield.

But June, June had shown up at the door to Neal’s loft to ask if he would help her in the downstairs study, where she was debating rearranging the furniture, or maybe acquiring something new. It was a pretty obvious ploy, and they both knew it, but who was Neal to say no to her? They went through the motions of analyzing the décor before sitting down to tea and petit fours.

“You know you’ll always have a place here,” June said to him. After a brief pause, she added, “however long you want to stay.”

Neal had more or less known this, but it was good to hear her say it. And he also heard what she wasn’t saying, at least not in so many words. Somehow, she knew. She understood. If he wanted to stay….

“You know this whole thing was all about finding Kate,” he said.

“Yes.”

“And now that she’s...”

Neal hesitated. It was still almost too hard to say. His breath caught, and tears pricked at the corners of his eyes. He swiped at them angrily, hating how out of control his emotions were still, months later. But June just pulled him into a gentle hug, held him while his body shook, then busied herself pouring more tea while he got himself under control again.

“Mozzie won’t understand,” Neal said, trusting June to understand what he meant.

“Have you tried talking to him?”

“He’ll say I have Stockholm Syndrome.”

June chuckled. “I suppose he probably will,” she replied, still smiling. “Mozzie’s a good friend,” she continued, serious now. “But people change. Dreams change.” For a moment there was a faraway look on June’s face, the one she got when she was thinking about Byron.

“It’s okay to want to stay, Neal. And you don’t have to decide today,” she told him. It was exactly what he needed to hear, and though his problems wouldn’t just go away, he felt that much better about them.

“Thank you, June,” he said. “What would I do without you?”


What would he do without her, indeed? She’d been there for him when he was struggling with the fact, however improbable, that he just might want to stay in New York.

And now, here they were again, Neal having eventually said yes to the tea, except this time June was helping him with his plan to leave.

“You know I don’t believe in ‘goodbye’,” June said. They’d finished going over the plan for the last time.

“I’m sorry,” Neal replied. “I don’t want to go.”

“But you have to. And you don’t have to apologize to me for that. I understand.”

Of course she did, Neal thought.

“And when you’re ready,” she began.

“I don’t know if…”

“When you’re ready, you know where to find me.”

And he did. Neal didn’t know what he’d done to deserve her. His safe harbor. His saving grace. But here she was.

“I love you June. Thank you.”
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