Days had been passing in a whim lately. They were finishing case after case and trying to make

bureau look as good as it was physically and logically possible. These days were filled with all

kinds of undercover, paper, leg and research work.

Neal missed old days, a bit. Not that he didn't appreciate this brand new life with lots of fancy

stuff and supposedly easier daily routine.

But it would be lied if he told this was best that could've happened.

On contrary, it the only thing that could happen. And there was no reason to try and look back at

what else could've been done to prevent such happenings.

Yes, life in future wasn't something Neal had ever imagined himself. He was usually the one to

relive past, not exactly to fantasize about that far future.

But here they were. Year 2121. Impossible, one would think.

One day it's 2011 the next 2121. As if the world suddenly decided to skip a millennium.

And, on one hand, it was, on the other hand, how you were supposed to fit in when everything

makes you feel like an outcast.

And Peter's "cowboy up" was starting to loose any power it used to have because, really, how it

can be expected for them all just jump back into work when this new world is completely different

from what they were used to.

Neal stopped calling himself con-man. Not that he wasn't, he was, still. But it was just too weird.

With all these future people. Sometimes he wondered if they were missing something. Like a bit

of brains? And why not, after all they just hopped into strangely shaped vehicles and floated in air.

And those who still preferred 'ancient' way had nearly bubble shaped cars that were moving due

to solar energy or some indescribable nuclear kind of energy that was more for Mozzie's brain to

decipher than Neal's to understand.

Peter was okay with this 'new' life. He had nice home, ecological car that drove itself more than

Taurus had and he still had his wife and dog. Oh yes, he also still had his CI and even the same

job. Most of people were the same around him.

Neal had his CI position, which made him wonder what was this Earth-like planet again, and a

new anklet. He knew June and Mozzie was somewhere around, he had heard Alex hadn't been

left behind and that Sara was also there. And that was basically all information he had been able to

scratch together.

The living wasn't bad. Food was a bit of a challenge though. At least coffee was doing its

supposed effects and could be even adjusted in taste.

The new anklet was something that surprised Neal. It had different shape- it was thin. And soft.

Almost like a rubber bracelet. It had a soft material on the inside and something metal-like on

outside. It all was solid and rather unbreakable. At least the brochure had claimed that.

Well, it was another positive thing in all this situation.

What sucked a bit was that the living quarters weren't even close to June's mansion where he had

his spacious room and magnificent view outside the window.

Here it was a complex of compact one-room flats for special cases like him. There lived those that

had lived the life of a crime but somehow had gotten their lives sorted out and now wanted to try

the good life. At least that was how it was explained to him and Peter. The agent hadn't been too

happy, Neal noticed, but the folks really did a good storytelling work. In the end Neal got

accommodated for a flat in one of the smaller buildings at the top floor. He had one room with a

terrace on one side and window on other, and polite kitchen with all the possibly needed things, a

bathroom that had washing machine resembling panel with shower and sink, and separate toilet

with sink and rather high-tech cleaning system and toilet paper that reminded a cloud.

The bed was what surprised the most. It felt a cross between water mattress and foam. Super

comfortable. And to his surprise - possible to warm up.

What wasn't too great was clothing. If agents got to wear either their own clothes or government

issued costumes that resembled worn out sweat pants and hoodies, Neal got to wear what was in

his closet. Either black turtleneck and black pair of sweat pants or dark blue jumpsuit-like

costume. The first was for his free time but the second for work.

At least it wasn't orange.

So Neal spent his days either at work or this flat. The CI couldn't call it home, yet. Although he

got everything he needed homesickness was strong. Enough to make any hunger go away, most

of possible joys about cases. Only thing that made if all bearable was people around him. Neal had

always been about people and liked genuine human contact. Of course, not when he was licking

his wounds, alone and hidden.

But no matter what he was doing he missed something, he felt something missing and couldn't put

a finger on it. The strange feeling wasn't stepping back.

It wasn't necessarily that people here were different in many ways, it maybe wasn't that they

thought he belonged to a prison cell when he was not at work, probably not even the fact the new

anklet was almost as unnoticeable as his socks, and might not just be that there was a guy at

reception that cast glances at him. No, that was something else. There was something else nagging

about. And Neal felt uneasy.

And Peter noticed.

"Neal, please fell me, what is it?" Peter asked one day. Both having their sandwiches and coffee

in front. Both wearing almost identical costumes, like on some spacecraft. And both being tired,

especially Neal. He was feeling tired most of the time. But only Peter ever could tell.

"What are you talking about?" Neal being Neal asked with his usual conman avoidance.

"Neal!" Peter said in a warning tone and Neal knew. If the agent had noticed, his wife was in it

too. And if it wasn't Peter then Diana or Jones was the one who saw it, unless both of them.

Man, Neal blanched, where that conman has gone to? He used to be less readable, what has

happened to that ability?

"Seriously, Peter, I'm not doing crosswords here. Tell me what are you talking about." another try

at conning Peter. Although it was useless to even try, Peter knew him sometimes better than he

knew himself.

"Come on, Neal. You can't con me, not anymore. I can see something's bothering you. You've

never been this quiet, or subdued. I know you don't like this new place, neither do I, but it's our

home now. We still need to adjust and learn a lot what's different and new so our work doesn't

suffer." Peter stopped and took a sip of his coffee.

Neal's first instinct was to deny, not let it get out. But it was Peter, his friend. They had been

through a lot and they weren't in their world anymore.

"I don't know, Peter. I honestly don't know. Just some feeling I cannot explain." he finally caved

in. Caffrey-the-conman had stayed in New York, on the terrace of June's admiring the million

dollar view while Caffrey-the-CI was taken to some other time and other world before everything

he ever knew shattered in front of his eyes taking him along.

"Is it about this place?" The voice of his friend shook Neal out of his thought process.

And he didn't know. His blue eyes that once held a spark now were kind of dull. He knew, and

Peter had noticed too.

He looked back into Peter's steady brown. "I really don't know. It feels as if I'm missing

something, someone. Just the feeling."

And what else he could've said, he did feel like something was amiss.

Peter sighed and while he didn't hesitate to attack his not-so-deviled ham sandwich his eyes let

themselves travel all over the boy across the table.

Neal was incredibly pale. Maybe it was the lights but even then he'd never seen Neal this pale

looking. And his face had never looked this gaunt. Shadows under his eyes, cheekbones so

prominent. Even hair seemed lacking the usually curly state. And gravity wasn't to blame. He'd

seen even lighter curls surviving the slight gravity difference.

It was Neal himself. The poor man was not feeling well, the agent came to decision. Whether it

was something physical or psychological he couldn't tell. But his friend wasn't the same.

"Neal," Peter spoke after finishing chewing and swallowing. "Neal, look at me." He demanded

gently when Neal showed no sign of hearing him. He waited until the man in front of him looked

up from the sandwich he probably wasn't feeling up to eating and then continued as the sad eyes

looked back with no other emotion. "Neal, you are my friend. I trust you. And I hope you trust me

too. But I can see you're not well, I want to help you feel better."

Neal kept his stare. For a while. Until his brain caught up with what Peter had said. Then he

laughed. Probably first real laugh since arriving here not long ago.

"Aww Peter, I'm touched by your concern. No offence, but how many times you and El rehearsed

before this? Because I suspect this is exactly what El would have told me."

"What? You think so low of me? Seriously, Caffrey, you really think I would never be able to say

such things on my own? Very nice of you." Peter scowled and hid behind his coffee.

"Hey, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, just... it sounded so El I was surprised. So if you just

actually came up with all this on spot, congrats. I'll tell El you've finally managed on your own."

And Neal was amazed, usually El was being one to do heart-to-heart. Peter mostly lacked that

ability. Especially when it was about emotions. So he just smirked.

"Okay, it was me, alright? I spoke to El and she only advised me about how to choose words.

Happy?" He tried to pout. But at least Neal was smiling.

"Well, in that case I can tell you did an excellent job. El will be happy to hear." And with that and

a smile on his lips and pat on Peter's shoulder the CI was out of the room, leaving Peter alone with

untouched coffee and sandwich. Coffee was still warm and he took sandwich. They usually didn't

leave anything behind. It was rumored somebody might check their meals and if something's left it

may be checked and the person either gets observed or taken straight to medical center for checkup.

Or so it was whispered around.

After that they didn't get a chance of another talk. They got busy going through procedures and

stuff lecture, and shown around archives floor.

Not that day nor week later they ever got to talk again. Both given their lectures and practice

separately. Neal had to learn new things about this world's order while Peter went through

weapons and physical training an agent on this division needed.

Things were much more computerized than they could imagine and while Peter was okay with the

new tactics approach Neal was slightly struggling with all that. These guys had less things

needing Neal's expertise and to let him be they needed to get him new things to learn.

Unfortunately most of stuff was on computer. Documents and other things that once was on paper

now was on small, removable discs or cassettes they plugged in or out to access what needed and

also numerous things were not on photography anymore but displayed via holograms. Amazingly

detailed though, Neal noted. But he still missed art he knew. If these people had any art it was too

abstract or weird for Neal, much different than what it once was on Earth.

And since computer was almost all it was another thing he was supposed to learn about.

But things weren't as easy anymore. And no matter what, and how hard he tried the new world

wasn't for the reformed conman.

Most of days he wasn't at work he spent cooped up in his flat, curled up under the thickest blanket

he could find. Peter was busy with new training and management stuff, El tried to make herself

useful in the new business which luckily was almost as it was with only major difference being

food types and people tastes, Mozzie was gone somewhere and June had traveled south for

something important or other. It left Sara but she too was gone someplace.

And he wasn't sure the 'new' Marshals would allow him be anywhere else than in the two default

places. He had forgotten to ask because upon arrival he wasn't in any shape to think about that.

What had happened at home was horrific. Sudden and tragic. But obviously some military bunch

and crowd of scientists had already been aware of the meteor attack ages before so some

otherwise crazy people quickly started to organize evacuation process. As a result, some obviously

handmade or at least customized planet with Earth-like climate got very lively. On top of that it

was about a millennium ahead in future, or so it felt. But probably because partly it was future, the

other part was something so scientifical Neal's brain had zoned out. So technically they kinda

were both- in their own time and future.

Although, if all looked clean, organized and polite, Neal couldn't feel the city the way he felt New

York, or Paris. He didn't like the ignorant, emotionless faces, strangely shaped non-personal cars,

empty building walls. Nothing but various dark, pastel toned walls.

This world had no soul.

After a long week of boring lectures and training they expected Neal to know what he had to.

And he didn't feel like telling them to not expect miracles.

Nevertheless he somehow made through the preliminary tests and was allowed to learn more.

And Peter was back too.

And still Neal felt out of sorts. Then they started noticing.

Diana, who was there all along; Jones, who returned before Peter and helped Neal chose

something for his new home; and finally Peter.

They all said it's okay to not feel home yet, to be missing old days, and after all it was okay to be

less than usual because nothing here was like it used to be at home.

Only Peter noticed something else too. Something Neal wasn't ready to acknowledge himself.

But being Peter he said his usual "cowboy up" and bear-hugged Neal with another "be strong and


Like things ever had been anywhere near that simple. At least with a man whose whole life had

been based on fake dreams, lies, another bunch of lies and things that couldn't make happy ones

soul in long term.

It took another boring week at the 'FBI' center for Neal to start feel off. First it was the uneasy

feeling that was harder to get rid of than a bunch of kids from a candy pot. Then he lost his fight

with insomnia. Sleep was already a slippery thing since arrival but now it fled completely. Next

thing that worsened was headache. Neal had those since day one, just not particularly strong or at

least not persistent enough to interfere majorly. And being a con he easily faked pain-free life.

Until getting in his hideout.

For another few weeks, with most of time spent at art galleries and museums (or what they tend to

call those), Neal started to loose his mask of "everything's fine".

By the time his last educational museum tour was done and he made it out of another side test

headache was murderous. Apparently it was now visible for anyone else that Neal felt like last

crap on Earth because suddenly there were people around and hands were touching him. And

voices expressed their worry. But relief hid in fact none of his friends witnessed the little 'fall from

grace' he was unable to recall himself. Obviously he'd been walking down the hallway when his

monstrous headache made his brain wobble and led to a bit of disgrace.

And it had been noticed by few of his new fellows. Much to his dismay.

He tried to brush it off. But something like this was not to be ignored. Apparently.

At least gossip flow here was a thing to be left for exact hours and places so likely none of his

closest people would find out unless someone decides to raid surveillance footage of the office.

Neal was pretty sure in nearest future none of them would be this concerned.

So the incident was left behind and hushed.

Neal kept pretending to be just fine, ignored the headaches as best as he could without trying to

contact Mozzie again or tell Peter the truth, finally.

The previous unease still bothered him though. Just as much- strange dream, for when he


Almost a week later Neal found himself waking up on the bathroom floor. And for the love of life

couldn't guess why.

But even with a throbbing skull he managed to pull of a somewhat working con at the 'FBI' center

and sit through the lecture about how important was to follow the guidelines and standard tactics -

something Neal found ironically hilarious given his relationship with any kind of rules and


That survived he made to disappear in the men's room and lock himself up in a rather private

cubicle, another surprise for a 'past' human from another planet. At least he could get enough of

privacy (it was claimed that each cubicle was separate from the big room and was sound proof- for

communications between cubicles there was a button and a speaker system). So Neal had the

small place for himself.

And all he could do was sit there and massage his temples in vain hopes to stop the pain. He felt

vaguely nauseated and planned to skip yet another meal. Yeah, something was wrong with him,

no doubt. But the CI was too afraid to even think about going to doctor. After all he was fine upon

arrival, and the tests were too strange for him to even feel like trying again (being stuck in a big

bright tube which variated between blinding him with a white light and plunging him into a black

abyss). It had made his already not-so-existing claustrophobia rise to cosmic levels, and, if that

wasn't enough, it had greatly messed up something with his brain because dizziness and confusion

appeared great enough to be worried about.

And so it was discovered that previously on Earth perfectly fine Neal Caffrey wasn't at all so fine

on a planet only similar to Earth. Maybe Peter was just a tiny bit mean when he giggled about it

(not 'girly giggled'). Although Neal suspected he was just kidding. Peter had tried to lift everyone's

(and especially Neal's) spirits in many ways during their time here. It just didn't quite work in a

world where only few things were just somewhat similar to what they were back home.

Maybe that was part of reasons that made Neal so hard to accept the new situation. Not that he

specifically made himself a nuisance.

And so he made it a point to avoid medical procedures as much as possible. Some of their fancy

devices were too mean and it was then when Neal decided sometimes the greatest technology

wasn't the best. That maybe something simple and less technological was better.

And he kept believing there was a point.

So when he had avoided the inevitable long enough, something he was secretly proud of, his body

was finally done with the brat act and, when Peter was there, made it point to end this farce

sending Neal sprawling down the stairs.

Of course, a small office panic was in the place during which Peter missed old days and Jones

tried to calm them down almost successfully. Diana was simply holding Neal's hand, something

Neal would be surprised about but would understand the meaning only where he was now.

The sudden events had slightly scared Peter. He may not admit it aloud but it was there, the fear.

He had seen his friend so rarely in the past few weeks because of their training. And he wasn't

really allowed to have him over at his place.

And here they were. He noticed how white was his friend's skin, how prominent were cheek

bones, how tiny he looked. Neal was always been rather lean, considerably smaller looking if

compared to Peter or Jones.

Now he looked even thinner than normal.

His skin was cold and slightly sweaty. Neal's cheeks were vaguely flushed and Peter suspected

possibility of fever, although Neal felt far too cold.

His pulse was weaker than normal and breathing shallow.

Not at all good signs.

But what had happened to his friend and CI, his responsibility and family? Why and when Neal

so suddenly had became so sick, Peter couldn't stop thinking all the while he felt his butt getting

stiffer by every passing minute he spent on the hard organic plastic chair in the waiting room of

the medical center.

Neal had been taken to medical center for tests and analysis (something he found hard to get used

to- term wise). The EMTs had been certain it was something that might have been caused by

body's inability to get used to certain factor or factors in either the atmosphere, daily products

materials or gravity. Peter decided it least possible. He'd noticed something off about Neal during

some of their meetings. Something that had left a nagging feeling of concern. And it still kept

nagging at Peter's conscience.

Soon doctor appeared from one of the many rooms with a thing that resembled tablet computer in

his hand and a serious face. He stood and they shook hands.

After that Peter was informed about their findings.

And between a jumble of medical jargon he spotted things like depression, anxiety, mild

concussion, sprained ankle, bruised back and couple ribs, malnutrition, loss of appetite,

dehydration, mild fever and something else that fled his brain the second he heard the man saying


It was a quite a number of things and half of that didn't make sense. But there it was. Neal was in

some serious trouble and according to doctor's worry it was something to be expected for a man

like Neal. Peter wanted to say that Neal was strong but how could he when, turns out, he barely

knew Neal? How could one tell they knew someone if this someone kept showing new sides of

himself every week? Even if that was a man he'd chased for some years and learned to know

everything about him. Somebody had said that nobody could fully get to know another one.

People were funny creatures that loved hiding their true selves and pretending to be someone else.

Neal was one like that. But, even if he'd seen some true Caffrey moments, did he really knew the

man? Could he claim the knowledge of his friend's inner world when he could barely tell he

wasn't well, that something had changed?

Obviously not as much as he hoped.

The doctor suggested Neal to have sessions with a therapist that specialized in 'newcomers'. They

had suspected Neal's depression could be caused due to loosing a place he'd felt like home and

possibly people he thought as family. The lack of familiar things and places, new rules and

conditions, something that happened suddenly and came on like a tornado. There'd been more like

that before, and will be after. He wasn't anything new. People with emotional attachments to

things and places tend to get lost when their lives changed. It was normal.

But Peter felt like he was told about someone else. Was that even true? Neal had never been like

that. Or was he? Could that be possible that the true Neal Caffrey was a man who got attached,

who would be able to settle and be happy in one place with same people around?

Was that who the real Neal Caffrey was?

Now Peter was at loss. He missed New York himself, he missed his old life, but be still had a

home, his wife and dog, even most of his colleagues, and surprisingly his job that almost was

exactly the same. With more modern and futuristic environment though, but he still had it all and

even his CI.

A CI with some serious problems nobody had been there to see.

After the discussion with doctor and bit of a phone calls he set for a task. He'll make sure Neal's

not going back to that flat they'd issued him just because people like him deserved modest living

conditions and no hope for something better.

Neal was better.

He deserved better, and because he once lived like a king, no, because he was a human with high

intelligence and sensitive heart that always longed something and sometimes this something wasn't

what he could easily steal or something. Neal wasn't like most of them, and now Peter saw

something about Neal that he hadn't realized or recognized before - Neal was the same little boy

he was before WitSec, before all the lies being revealed, before he became man of many masks -

Neal was still the same as he always had been, he just wasn't hiding anymore.

He'd lessened his amount and intensity of his masks already, he was slowly opening more and

more, in a small way. Either it was a smile more genuine, a slip of true from the past or a gesture

of something coming from deeper sources than before. It all had been signs, really tiny signs,

about changes he was facing.

And he knew that those were the signs of Neal Caffrey finally growing up and turning into a

person of different approach of things but nevertheless a better person with same morals and

principles just with more clear vision of what he wanted to be. Neal was changed. Although he

may still have enough of his old instincts he still changed. And somehow Peter was proud to

know it was his fault. Neal himself had admitted that to Peter. And it was showing. Old days were

over, past belonged to past.

And Peter set a goal to help his friend by being there for him. And he'll do whatever was needed

to convince the superiors and whatever to be able to do that.

In the end it had indeed turned out quite well. Surprisingly, but big-heads didn't mind that much

about Neal being placed in same living quarters as his handler. Actually they had seemed pretty

relieved none of the medical centers would have to take him. Plus there were significantly less

virtual paperwork that it would be if Neal had been on his own.

And not mention everyone felt better after their favorite con-man was safely tucked into bed at the

end of a rather long day.

His actual belongings got fitted into one tiny bag. For Neal it came as a surprise to discover that

Peter and El, with help from June and Mozzie, had managed to pack almost all his stuff from

June's as Mozzie's so that none would have noticed the smuggling. They all had been told to pack

only their own belongings that were within allowed stuff. All except for Neal since he was an ex-convict

and for his time there he wouldn't need any of the stuff he had.

It sounded not particularly welcoming from the 'new world' but they really had no choice. It was

that or sure destruction.

So 'the gang' had gone behind his back and smuggled his stuff which now was residing in Burke's

large closet.

Secretly Neal was happy. Not just about his more comfortable clothes being there but for the effort

his friends had made to make sure he was comfortable and also had something to wear and for a

moment pretend he wasn't still considered a criminal. And that thought warmed his heart to an

extent he fell asleep with a huge, happy smile on the too pale and sunken face.