The season finale made me cry. And then I remembered this dream I had a few days ago, and I wrote it into this short one-shot. I hope I described Neal's feelings well. It was how I felt during my dream and after I woke up. Although, probably not as drastic as his reaction because I didn't actually lose anyone.

I didn't check, but I'm pretty sure lots of other stories have been written about the time after the end of the season one finale. This is my take on it.

But anyways: enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own White Collar or any of its characters.

In front of our eyes, the last rays of the brilliant sun seemed to set the sky on fire, burning pinks, reds, and oranges onto the last bits of blue still clinging to the clouds. A gentle breeze drifted by, rustling our hair and bringing stray strands of it into my face. Below us, the cliff that we were sitting side by side on stretched outwards until it disappeared below the still-glowing horizon.

I sighed in contentment, and whispered, "I could stay like this forever," into her ear. She said nothing, but I could see her agreement and her love in her beautiful eyes, in the way her mouth parted just a little bit before it curved a sliver upwards, in how she squeezed my hand ever so gently.

Her head tilted slightly until it was resting against my shoulder. The touch of her soft hair did strange things to my stomach. The faint smell of her favorite shampoo made my insides shiver and my heart beat faster. And the thought of her leaning against me, of us sitting together on this ledge away from the rest of the world, alone except for each other, made my soul take lift into the skies.

We watched the last of the sun disappear into the faraway mountains in silence.

It was dark, so dark all around me. It strangled me, crushed me with its oppressive weight, but my scream stuck in my throat. I groped helplessly for something to cling to, anything to save me from the watching shadows. And then, a hand!

Desperately, I grabbed it and it was warm and soft and comforting. And, it felt…familiar. "Kate?" I whispered faintly. But when I squeezed it, the hand didn't feel like her's.

My eyes seemed glued together when I tried to open them, but I managed to force them to obey me. A groan escaped me when the light struck my face. The room slowly whirled into focus.

"Are you alright?" the woman who sat on the chair next to my bed said, concern evident in her tone. I noticed blearily that it was her hand that had held mine while I was being chased by shadows.

"Who are you?" I mumbled. I frowned at my voice; why was it so hoarse? In any case, I had spoken too quietly, and the woman hadn't heard. I stopped myself when I began repeating my question. She seemed like someone I should know. After trying to force my sluggish brain to function properly for a few minutes, I gave up.

Instead, I asked something that had just popped into my head. "Where's Kate?"

The woman stiffened at the question.

My memories came back to me one by one, "We were watching the sunset." Noticing that the room I was in belonged to a hospital, I asked, "Did I fall off when we climbed back down the cliff…?" My voice trailed off as I fought off a rising horror, "Did Kate fall off too? Is she alright? Where is she?" I didn't know why, but it seemed imperious that I find her, that I see her, that I hold her hand like the woman was still holding mine.

The woman didn't answer my questions. I fought down my irritation and worry. Kate could be lying awake somewhere and I wanted to be there to comfort her, but snapping at the woman wasn't going to help.

I frowned slightly. She wasn't just "a woman," I knew her, she was—

"Elizabeth? El?" said the man who came into the room. He stopped short at her shooing motions. "What? What's wrong?"

I shifted just then, trying to look at his face from a different angle and try to figure out what was going on. A niggling thought dangled just out of reach, but it refused to show itself until I put together all the pieces.

"Neal?" the man asked in surprise, and…relief? Who was this man? Elizabeth had given up trying to shoo her husband away.

Yes…I remembered now, he was her husband. I was on a roll here. If I could just find his name…all the pieces would be put together and I could go find Kate.

"Neal," he repeated. I jumped at the sound of his voice breaking into my thoughts. Distractedly, I watched him exchange a look with Elizabeth. His name, what was his name? The word came tantalizingly close but danced away mockingly when I tried to reach it. And then it came to me and was out of my mouth before I could stop myself.

"Peter!" The last piece of the puzzle clicked into place, but it was as if I had been a wall, and the name had been the keystone, and my saying the name had knocked it out, and now I was crumbing and crumbling and crumbling. But still…there was one other thing out of my grasp. What exactly did the completed puzzle show? I gasped as the memories came back to me in a tidal wave of thoughts and emotions, until there was only one thing that remained. One question that repeated itself over and over again until my head was pounding.

"Where's Kate?" I whispered. Desperately, I searched through my newly returned memories for a mention of her, but the strange lack of Kate made my heart ache. I wanted her head leaning against my shoulders, I wanted to smell her hair when the wind picked it up and blew it into my face, I wanted to hold her hand and kiss her and hold her until the sun fell down the horizon again.

"Neal," Peter said, and his voice was as gentle as I had ever heard him say anything. "Don't you remember? The explosion…"

And now the veil had been lifted over the completed puzzle, and reality and remembrance came crashing down on my soul, crushed it and grinded it until there was nothing left but a broken heart and the wisp of a memory of a comforting warmth leaning against me…

Gone, gone, gone….she was gone…

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