Chapter 7

No excuses. Should've updated sooner. Hope you enjoy! ( I am disregarding that Neal ever went to prison in this story after the explosion.)


Peter awoke bleary eyed and disheveled a moment before the dawn broke through. He rubbed his eyes trying to subdue the burning within them. He blinked several times clearing his vision until he turned to see Neal staring at the rising sun.

Peter kept his silence not sure if Neal even noticed he was awake yet. The kid looked like he hadn't slept all night. Perhaps he hadn't...

Peter kept his gaze steady on the younger man who sat stiffly gripping the polyester sheets tightly in his hands.

"I used to watch the sunrise everyday when I was a kid."

Peter's ears perked up as he straightened in his chair while June's words echoed in his head... His tether is broken now, Peter.

Peter said nothing waiting patiently for Neal to continue.

The young man's dark hair dropped into his face, curling at the base of his neck. He looked even younger than his 32 years.

"Even in prison, I used to close my eyes and imagine the brilliance of that one moment. Something many of us take for granted. Myself included."

His words broke off , brittle and forced as if he feared he had said too much to Peter.

Neal kept his blue gaze steady toward the colors blurring into a palette of wonder.

"I left home when I was 16. "

Peter blinked absorbing that fact.

Neal kept his eyes on the sun's gathering brilliance outside his window.

"I didn't have a dime to my name. Spent those first few weeks digging through trash cans and dumpsters just to survive. If it weren't for Moz..."

He trailed off. Peter swallowed the lump that formed in his throat. What was so horrible that Neal felt he had to leave home?

Neal ran a shaking hand over his face, trapped in the past.

"Those, " he said turning to face Peter with bright eyes, "those were some dark days. " A bitter laugh escaped his lips.

"Did you ever wonder if you were unloveable, Peter? Were you searching for the missing piece when you saw Elizabeth?"

Peter remained silent his eyes giving Neal the answer he craved.

"Kate was that missing piece. She could light up a room with her smile. She was like me..."

Peter's urge to interrupt and claim that Kate was nothing like Neal. The things Neal didn't know about her....now he never would...

"We were young when we met...barely 20. " Neal cracked a small smile at the memory.

"I knew she was the one."

Peter sighed, licked his lips slowly.

"Neal..."

Neal turned to face his friend.

"She was the one."

Peter paused as their eyes met. Peter remained silent, allowing Neal to believe just that.

"Peter, " Neal's eyes faltered His confidence's thin veil torn in two revealing the true Neal; the Neal Peter only hoped existed beneath the con.

"This is..." Neal lost his voice among the orange blaze outside his window.

Peter stood up and placed a hand on his friend's shoulder squeezing gently.

Desperately wanting the truth that was the Neal Caffrey he thought he knew could wait. This Neal could not.


Please review. Once again sorry for the looooong wait. Only 1 or 2 more chapters to go.