Neal was back in New York his security firm was doing well, his partner Julian was taking care of the European operations. Neal had bought a loft on the Upper West side he meets with the Burkes, June, and Mozzie regularly. Mozzie still pilfered wine from his collection much to Neal's chagrin. He occasionally consulted with the FBI. Sara had also returned to New York were dating again.

"Neal, I need to tell you something" Peter looked unusually tense after entering his apartment. James has been sentenced to life. He was shifted to Rikers last week"

"I couldn't be more pleased Peter. He had it coming."

"I got a collect call from him yesterday. I had a good mind to hang up. But I guess was curious," Peter said pacing with his hands on his waist. "He said he been trying to get in touch but you refuse to take his calls."

"You are advocating that get in touch with the guy who framed you for murder. He used us; we risked everything and he bailed when things got tough again" Neal looked at Peter furiously.

"I don't have a soft corner for the guy. I hated him for the longest time. The six weeks I spent in prison was hellish. If it wasn't for you, I may be still behind bars. The complete isolation, the contempt, the guards and correctional officers showed when they thought I was a rogue cop. But I can't let my hatred poison any aspect of my life. I let go."

"My fatherhood seems to have mellowed you out Peter," Neal said after listening to Peter's passionate monologue.

"He is dying Neal. He has lung cancer. See him try to get some closure." Peter patted Neal on his shoulder."Remember you can call me we can go together if you don't want to go alone"

Neal stood impatiently while waiting for James to come to the waiting room. He rubbed his palm together part from nervousness and part from cold.

James entered dressed in an orange jumpsuit was gaunt and pale, he was obviously unwell.

"Neal, I am glad you decided to come." James tried to hug Neal.

"James this is not going to be some happy father-son reunion," Neal said coldly.

"Then why did you come?" James sits down on the bench opposite his son.

"I don't maybe know things that needed to be said. Growing up in witness protection pretending to be someone else was tough. I was only three dad when we went into witness protection mom completely fell apart. If it wasn't for Aunt Ellen we would not have meals. Mum told me you died a hero. I wanted to become a cop. Then I learned the truth you were dirty and we were in witness protection because of your actions. My entire life was a lie, so I ran" Neal took a sip of coffee and grimaced at the taste of the vending machine coffee.

"My deal as a CI was one of the best things that ever happened. Peter gave me the stability I always craved for. He was a great father figure he taught the choice to be man or con was mine alone. When you reentered my life, I actually thought things would be different we would be a family. When the choice came to do the right thing, you chickened out to let someone else deal with the consequences. In this life, somebody always takes a fall. Don't let it be you.I saw it in your eyes you actually contemplated shooting me. Who does that?"

"You know the funny thing, dad? "Neal said his voice laced with venom" Peter encouraged that I meet you. He was right, I had some residual anger and meeting you has given me some closure. This will be our last meeting. I am sorry you are sick but if you are looking for a supportive son. It is the role I refuse to play. I am done letting you impact my life. " Neal took his leave wiping his tears.

Peter was waiting patiently as Neal came out. "Let's go and have some real coffee. You look a little pale."

Peter and Neal sat in a cozy dinner having coffee and some pie. They looked out of the window as it started to snow.

"Peter, you know friends are family we choose ourselves. Fate gave me some crappy parents for years I felt absolutely alone. But fate also ensured I had friends who will always be by my side."

"Don't sell yourself short. You put your life together and I could not feel more proud of how you turned out. Your loyal friend, my son has a great role model to look up too. Your impulse control still needs some work" Peter said with a smile.

Neal rolled his eyes playfully.

It was going to be a white Christmas. The ghost of his father was finally buried. Neal was looking forward to the festivities with his friends.