Fandom: White Collar
Characters: Mozzie, Neal (Gen)
Summary: An interlude between 2x09 ("Point Blank") and 2x10 ("Burke's Seven"). True friends are always there to help.
Author's Notes: My last Australian Flood Auction story for wraithkeeper, who wanted some Mozzie and Neal friendship. I hope this pleases you!
Also for writers_choice ("Moving on").
On the last day of Mozzie's hospital stay, Neal showed up at his room with a rented wheelchair and a spare button-down shirt.
"Ready to get out of here?"
"You have no idea," Mozzie said. "But I still don't know how they think I'm going to look after myself for the next few days. I've never tried to use a train or a bus in a wheelchair, and there's no running water at my facility. I suppose I could check myself into a hotel, but they're terribly expensive."
"June agreed to let you stay at her place, until you're ready to manage on your own."
Wow. Mozzie was stunned by generosity of the offer. It was completely unexpected. He couldn’t believe Neal and June had—
Wait... He frowned, as reality set in. "What about all those stairs?"
"The bottom floor is pretty flat," Neal said, "and there's a guest bedroom behind the den."
"Oh." Mozzie felt something hopeful flicker inside him. "Well. I guess that would be okay."
After a ridiculously long checkout procedure involving several reams' worth of paperwork, he and Neal finally arrived at June's three hours later. They successfully navigated the entrance, with Neal backing Mozzie and the wheelchair all the way up the entrance stairs. It made Mozzie nervous, but it worked. Neal managed to get Mozzie inside without dropping him.
By then, Mozzie was exhausted. How could he be so tired, when he'd been sitting around all morning? He followed Neal back to the bedroom June had set aside for him, and squirmed his way out of the chair and onto the bed. He fell asleep without even trying.
He woke up a few hours later, groggy and disoriented. A glimpse of the wheelchair reminded him where he was and why. He got up to test his legs, and found that he needed the wheelchair after all. After settling himself into it, he rolled out to the sitting room, where Neal was leafing through a book.
"How long did the doctor say I'd need this thing, again?" Mozzie asked.
"A few days, probably, until you get some strength back." Neal looked over at him. "You probably wouldn't have needed it at all, if you'd stayed at the hospital longer."
"And let them kill me in my sleep?"
Neal blinked. "No, of course not." He set the book on the table. "So, are you hungry?"
"I'm starving. Hospital food is terrible—it smells like a supply closet. Did you know Mrs. Suit brought me brownies at the hospital?"
"Gluten-free," Neal commented.
"She's wonderful," Mozzie said. "Do you suppose the Suit knows?"
"That his wife is wonderful? I'm sure he has some idea…"
"Oh. Yes, of course." Mozzie's stomach growled, refocusing his attention. "So, what were you going to make me?"
"Herbed feta-cheese omelette?" Neal suggested. "Toast points with salmon mousse? Pistachio-crusted chicken piccatta?"
Mozzie frowned, suddenly forlorn. He usually enjoyed all of those things (honestly, he did), but he just wasn't up to playing that game today. "I don't suppose June has any tomato soup? From a can?"
Neal smiled at him, forgivingly. "I'll see what I can do," he said. "Just rest."
Hard to avoid it, when I can barely stay awake, Mozzie thought.
Mozzie rolled around June's parlor, looking at the sculptures and paintings, while Neal worked in the kitchen. "We can't just do this upstairs?" Mozzie called out.
"Not until you can walk up and down all those stairs yourself," Neal answered, "and do it safely."
Clearly, his recovery was going to take forever, Mozzie thought. He had patience (you couldn't pull off a decent con without patience), but this was different. Being unable to come and go on his own was suffocating, worse than the time he was seven and missed his first-ever trip to the Museum of Natural History, just because he had the mumps.
The boredom would probably kill him—even with June's art books and whatever he could borrow from Neal. He wished he had his computer with him, or the materials he was using to learn the basics of the actuarial trade. A person could go insane without some kind of project, especially when he'd been shot for no good reason.
"It's ready," Neal called.
Mozzie wheeled into the kitchen, where saltines and a bowl of soup waited. Neal had moved the chairs back to create an opening for him at the table. It all suddenly looked absolutely heavenly.
"Smells good," Mozzie said, fitting his chair under the table. He couldn't resist trying a few spoonfuls of the soup by itself before crumbling up the saltines over the top and eating in earnest.
Better, he thought, as his stomach quieted. Maybe he didn't have to take on the full weight of his recovery right now. The details could wait.
He almost made himself believe it.
Neal pulled up a chair next to him, and sat. "So, what have you got planned for later this week?" he asked.
Mozzie snorted. "Does it matter?" He couldn't even leave the house by himself.
"Peter's in trouble," Neal said, and waited.
Somewhere underneath the frustration and fatigue, Mozzie felt his curiosity begin to stir.
"Go on," he said."I'm listening."
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