Author's Note: Hiya guys! Yup I'm writing two White Collar stories at the same time. I hope you enjoy! The chapter has lots of Neal angst, and pissy Peter. Please review! I do not own the characters from White Collar.

If I could, I would own Neal... but I can't =(


Present

The lone figure stood hunched over in the middle of the street. One foot shuffled in front of the other in a pronounced limp as the young man forced himself to keep walking. He stumbled over the curb and grabbed the mailbox for support as his legs buckled under him. A stifled moan made its way past clenched jaws and pursed lips.

Rain pattered down and a gentle breeze caressed the man's face soothingly as it whispered encouragingly into his ears. Lightning flared as Mother Nature did her best to light the way for the weary traveler. The wind picked up, piercing through the torn clothes and the man's resolve.

With another low groan the young adult sank to his knees and lay down on his back before curling into a miserable ball. He wanted nothing more than to give up and let Nature claim him.

After all, he thought with a shrug, it's not like I would be missed.

Only a part of him argued that he was too young to die and that he didn't want to be known for dying like this.

He wanted, no needed for someone to miss him terribly if he were to go and there was no one like that left in his life.

He was a criminal, an outcast.

A liar, manipulator, cheat; those were the terms that described him. Not to mention cold hearted and un-trustworthy.

The young con artist shuddered as the reality of what people thought of him sank in.

Definitely not a good parting image. But moving hurt, hell even breathing hurt right now. He had to tell himself to breathe and that was something he should be able to do automatically.

He curled up into a miserable ball, tears rolling down his face. He was scared. The one person who could truly help get out of this mess wasn't going to be there for him. He was sure of it. He had in a sense, betrayed that person. Not intentionally of course.

But Peter wouldn't see it that way.

And that was what hurt so damned much… mentally at least.

Neal wondered vaguely if Elizabeth would help him. He might have a decent shot at that, seeing as she seemed to like him. Or at least used to seem to like him…

Would she be mad at him too?

Mozzie was out of the question; his friend wouldn't really know what to do and was on the other side of the city.

Slipping and sliding in the thick mud Caffrey got to his feet unsteadily and slowly walked forward. Once he reached the side walk, it was easier to move.

The heavy oak door loomed closer and closer and Neal felt a chill move down his spine. What if she won't help me? The tiny nagging voice questioned. Shut up. A different voice commanded as he shook his head wearily.

He raised a hand that was caked with dried blood and dirt. The ex-con hesitated slightly before knocking.

No answer.

Neal knocked again, louder this time as body started to quiver with fatigue.

Still no answer.

Come on, please, he begged mentally. Someone had to be home at this time of night. Maybe El is a sound sleeper, his mind rationed reasonably.

This time he banged on the door desperately.

The world spun around him and he swayed, clutching the side of the wall for support. He never heard the door open or the astonished, "Neal!" that El practically screamed. His world had already faded to black…


Seven and a half hours earlier

"Peter, you know you can trust me right?" Neal's face was unusually serious. The two were just walking out of the FBI building after a long and boring day. Peter unlocked the doors to his car and motioned for Neal to get in. The ex-con artist got in and looked at his partner, waiting for the answer tensely.

Agent Peter Burke narrowed his eyes. "What's that supposed to mean Neal?" He questioned voice harsher than he had intended it to be.

Neal looked at him with flash surprise showing in his eyes for a brief moment. "I asked first."

"Some what." Peter answered as he backed out of the parking space. "Now answer my question."

Neal turned to face Peter his expression solemn. "Promise me you'll be there for me when I need you."

"Depends on what you've done Caffrey." Peter answered, not liking the way this conversation was headed.

"Is that a yes or a no?" Neal hissed urgently.

There was a long pause as Peter mulled over the question. He wouldn't be able to keep that promise if Neal did something boneheaded and ended up being thrown into jail. He sighed softly before answering with a firm, "No."

This time the flash of hurt surprise was clearly noticeable and Peter winced inwardly. "Neal… its not that I wouldn't help you if I could, but at one point or another I won't be able to help you."

Silence.

Peter could tell that Neal felt insulted and hurt but he could also tell from the look on the consultant's face that Neal was planning something.

"See you." Neal slammed the car shut and stalked into his apartment.

Peter groaned and felt like doing a face-palm. El was so much better at reading people and their needs than he was.


Six hours ago.

The incessant and annoying buzz of a cell phone rang through the room like a claxon bell. The would-be sleeping form of Peter groaned in annoyance and finally answered the blasted device. "Peter Burke." He barked the words into the phone.

Hughes' voice answered him in an infuriated, "Neal's on the run."

"From what?" Peter asked, still half asleep.

"Neal cut the tracker and took off. He mailed it to us."

Peter sat upright almost immediately. "He what?" His voice came out in a half-toned shout. Glancing over at his now-awake wife apologetically, Peter got out of bed. After a few more minutes of listening to Hughes' demands that he get his butt in that office right away, he hung up.

"What's wrong?" El's voice asked worriedly. She was sitting up and watching him with concern.

"Neal… betrayed us." Peter answered shortly.

"What does that mean?"

"He cut off the tracker and ran."

"Didn't you say that the two of you were handling a difficult case?"

"Yeah." Peter grunted. "But that still doesn't excuse his behavior."

"Was he acting strangely today?"

There was that weird trust issue that he had, Peter thought mentally before blowing it off. It had all been a part of Neal's con. He had conned him.

Peter closed his eyes and leaned against the door. I can't believe that I trusted him. Peter berated himself mentally before adding, too a degree. How could he have been so stupid? "No." Peter felt bad lying to his wife but he was so confused and hurt right now that he didn't feel like talking.

He kissed Elizabeth on the cheek before grabbing his coat. "I don't know when I'll be back." He told her apollogetically. Damn it Neal, he thought angrily, you just had to pitch a hissy and run away which ruined a well deserved night's sleep. "I'll call you if I find anything out. If he shows up here I want you to call me right away. Don't fall for his charming little tricks and use these to keep him here." He instructed her as he handed her a spare pair of handcuffs.


Author's Notes: Like it? Hate it? Have any suggestions? Please review!