Neal, with the help of Alex and Mozzie, had stolen the music box and given it to Fowler in exchange for a legal identity he could live by with the woman he loved, Kate. All had gone according to plan, but just as Neal was about to board the plane Kate was already on, Peter stopped Neal in his tracks. As Peter tried to convince Neal to stay, about fifteen metres behind them, the plane exploded with Kate onboard.
Neal was devastated and grief stricken as he sat in the guest room he rented of June's house and tried to make reason of it all, as he had continuously done so since the explosion. He stared at his chess board in front of him and thought how he had completely walked into a trap. How could he have been so stupid to think he would ever be able to "live happily ever after" with Kate? He knew that guys like him didn't have a fairytale life like that.
If it wasn't for Peter, he thought for the thousandth time, I too would have been killed in that explosion. He was grateful for that, but he couldn't help but imagine what would have happened if Peter hadn't turned up. He didn't believe in an afterlife; he was too logical for that. But if that had really been Kate onboard, which he assumed, then an afterlife in which he could someday meet up with her sounded quite pleasing.
Neal stood up abruptly, causing the chess board to shake and consequently, the chess pieces scattered in a mess on the board. A week and a half had passed since the unfortunate event and Neal hadn't left June's house.
Mozzie had been a regular visitor. He helped Neal with his washing and cooking as best as he could. Although Neal had insisted he was okay, Mozzie knew how he felt. He had never lost someone the way Neal had lost Kate, but he understood Neal would be feeling heartbroken.
Peter had also visited Neal, offering him help if he needed it, but he understood he required some space. The last time Peter had dropped in, which was approximately two days ago, according to Neal's memory, Peter had said, "When you're ready to come back, you do so. I'll be waiting."
Neal usually would have put on one of his masks after an unexpected event, but it seemed this time his cover had been delayed. Neal stretched as he finally felt the calmness and ease of his "silver tongue", as Alex had accused him of possessing, and mutable body language flow through him. Since the incident he had allowed his emotions to control him, but as he walked across the room to retrieve his signature top hat, he knew he had to do something about what happened to Kate. Sitting in the dark feeling sorry for himself would achieve nothing.
Looking out the window he saw the grey sky; the sun hadn't risen yet. Grief had caused his body clock to change and sometimes he'd wake up before dawn, like today. He checked the time. 5.25am.
He changed out of his pajamas and into a dark grey suit and tie. Although he had been given a legal identity, he still wore the tracking anklet. But he suspected it was more to protect him from himself. As he looked down at the gadget around his ankle, he chuckled. Like how Doctor Watson had said about Sherlock Holmes in the recent film, he was "far too fond of himself [to kill himself]" even at the worst of times.
He combed his shiny dark hair a few times and added a drop of aftershave. He touched his chin and felt the slight prickliness of his whiskers; staying beard-free had been one of the few grooming habits he had kept since the explosion. He gave his reflection one of his dashing smiles, revealing his pearly whites. For the first time in weeks, he felt comfortable in himself and was able to think straight.
Neal left June's house and walked down the path along the streets. It was still early morning, nearly six. Anyhow, there were already cars cruising along the streets of New York City. With every step he felt his natural confident, charismatic mask strengthen. During his walk, he was interrupted by a young girl handing out tulips. Neal touched the cerulean coloured tulip which he had hung in his breast pocket for fun.
By the time he arrived at Peter's house, it was a quarter past six. He wasn't worried about the timing; last time he had arrived uninvited at Peter's house this early, Peter and his wife had been eating breakfast and in his opinion, welcomed Neal warmly.
Neal knocked on the door and smiled when Elizabeth, Peter's wife, answered the door. She looked at his face and her slightly bulging eyes showed she was surprised to see him.
"Hey, Elizabeth," Neal said, "is Peter there?"
"Oh, yes of course," she said. She looked behind her shoulders, letting her brunette hair flick back. "Peter! It's Neal!"
Peter came walking down the hallway and smiled at Neal when he saw him. Elizabeth politely left the room, allowing Neal and her husband to catch up.
"Hey, Neal," Peter said, "it's nice to see you outside your environment. How are you feeling?"
Neal looked at Peter with his solemn cobalt eyes as he whispered, "Peter, I need to find out who did it."
Peter gave Neal a questionable look.
Neal went on, "What happened to Kate wasn't an accident. It couldn't have been."
"Neal, I know that," Peter said seriously. He lowered his voice as he added, "What do you think I've been doing for the past week and a half? Living life like nothing happened?"
"And?" Neal questioned, sounding slightly impatient.
Peter sighed and said, "As you would remember, I was given a two weeks suspension, so I haven't had access to all the facilities I usually would. My suspension ends this week and then I'll be able to do more thorough investigations."
Neal paused and asked the question which had been niggling at his mind, "Do you think it was Fowler?"
Peter thought for a moment before he answered, "I doubt it. It'd be too obvious. You gave Fowler the music box, in full knowledge I know about it, and he gives you and Kate a faulty plane to kill you. Trust me, he would have considered killing you in the worry you'd blow his secret of the deal, but he would have waited a bit. No, I suspect it's someone else out there who's done it, to make it look like it was Fowler."
"Or," Neal began, "Fowler could have done it because it's so obvious it's him, no one would think he'd be that stupid."
"True," Peter said, "but until my suspension comes to an end I can't investigate at the level I'd like to. For now we're just gonna have to wait. But we have to keep our options open. Fowler isn't the only double agent out there."
Neal smiled, grateful for Peter's efforts.
Both men imagined the perpetrator to be far away, but neither of them suspected someone to be watching the scene from the tiny video camera on the tulip Neal had been given.