Disclaimer: I do not own White Collar, or any of its characters.


Why the blame?

I followed you,

obeyed you,

befriended you.

So why the blame?


"Do it," I hear myself hiss. "I dare you!"

Looking down at the crowd—okay, it wasn't really a crowd, but they outnumbered me—of FBI agents, I was swept once more by an intense rage. How dare they? I'd been working with them for quite awhile now, and although I couldn't really say that I'd gotten close to any except Peter, I was shocked that they could accuse me of this. And he'd believed it too.

"I trusted you! Against my better judgement, I trusted you!" a shout from below, "But never in my worst nightmares did I ever think you would do something like this!"

But I didn't do it, I longed to tell him, I didn't. But how dare he believe their accusations? I hated guns, always had, always would. Guns caused nothing but pain, and death, and no matter how elegantly they could make killing in spy movies, dead was still dead, irreversible, untouchable, dead.

I looked down again at the accusing faces, and emotions ranged from grim realization that their opinion of me had been confirmed, horror, betrayal, the list went on and on. Nowhere did I see a face that doubted the story that they'd been fed. I met Peter's—Agent Burke's, I thought to myself furiously—eyes, and the muzzle of his gun wavered slightly, hesitated just a bit. Then it'd steadied, once more pointed directly at my heart.

Bitterness spread through me. I wasn't a murderer. I thought they'd have known that by now. That was why I stuck to white collar crimes. They required finesse, intelligence, and class to pull off. No death involved, not for me, not for the people I stole from. True, these past few days might have tried their patience with me, but I was sure that Peter—Agent Burke!—would have been on my side. He knew I hated guns, he knew me better than anyone.

"Do it," I hear myself hiss again, "I dare you."

But I didn't, not really. I don't want to die. There was nothing beautiful in death, no matter how much you believed, how much you wanted to go to Heaven, or the afterlife, to close your eyes and just drift away. As if dying was like sleeping. Sleeping was good. Death, however you might look at it, was not. Death was permanent. Irreversible. Death, was Death.

I glanced behind me before I scanned their faces again. Their desperation was growing, I could feel it. I found myself wanting to reassure them, but I stopped myself. They don't care about you. They don't see you as a person, a human being, not now, not before, not ever. They look at you and see a criminal. So why do you care? I don't care, I snarl to myself. It's just…I don't want anyone to get hurt, "To die", I whisper the last two words aloud. I shook myself and glanced behind me again.

I definitely didn't want Peter—Agent Burke, I wearily reminded myself—to die. Elizabeth…I didn't even want to imagine how she would feel, what she would go through. And even though I had lost his trust and his regard, I didn't want to see him die. I was loyal to my friends. But he didn't see it. He never knew that I respected him, that despite my constantly annoying him, that I considered him my friend.

One more glance behind me. Did I want to die?

Did I have a choice?

Time was running out.


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