He keeps his shields up, especially when he’s at work. But he occasionally has to let them down when he’s working, and some of Peter’s feelings slip through.
At first it’s the expected suspicion and wariness. But as time goes on, it shifts to something like grudging respect, then tentative friendship. Their relationship changes too. Neal finds himself bantering with Peter, letting him in more than he has anyone else.
It’s even harder keeping his shields up around Elizabeth. The first time he met her, he didn’t get the expected cold-shoulder for taking her husband away from her, or the suspicion most people who know his history feel about him.
Instead what he got was…acceptance. Pure and simple, despite what he’s done and what he might do. It would seem foolish, since he’s done nothing to earn that faith, but instead he finds himself wanting to live up to it.
He forces himself to stay shielded unless he’s working, despite the increasing craving he feels for Peter and Elizabeth’s emotions. He contents himself with half a loaf, the friendship between him and Peter, and him and Elizabeth. He doesn’t want to risk manipulating their emotions by accident.
He’s never told anyone about his–empathy, he supposes–not even Mozzie. Whenever he finds himself tempted to tell Peter or Elizabeth, he reminds himself how they’re sure to react. Betrayal, suspicion, anger.
Half a loaf.
Overall Rating: +++
Read it here: http://archiveofourown.org/works/361664