Disclaimer: I don't own White Collar, probably never will either…aw shucks!
A/N: I was listening to the radio with my mom and September by Daughtry came on and I got really sad and couldn't help but think of poor Neal. So, here we go. Since we're not supposed to have song lyrics in the story, my best advice for you would be to youtube the song, or find it on iTunes and listen to it while you read. And yes, some of the dialogue is from Vital Signs. You'll see when you get there. Please review!
Neal had disappeared. He wasn't at June's, he wasn't at the Burke residence, he wasn't at the office and Peter was starting to get worried. He knew that Neal could go where he wanted so long as it was in his two mile radius, but it still wasn't like him to disappear without telling his partner unless something was really troubling him.
Pulling out his cell phone he tried calling the one number he had saved several months ago. It rang a few times and then someone picked up on the other end. "How did you get this number?"
"You called me on it, remember? Mozzie, do you know where Neal is?" Peter asked as he stood in his office.
"No, I don't. But I'm sure you can just use your nice little tracking device and hunt him down and-"
Peter cut him off, flipping the phone shut. It rang a few moments later and the agent smirked at the number that came up. "You were saying?"
"I don't know where he is. Do you think he's in trouble?"
"Well, he's not with you, he's not with me, June, or my wife, and he's not been at the office all day."
"If that's the case then I suggest you use that nice little tracking device and find him," Mozzie said, voice firm, but concerned.
"I will, I'll call you with an update later."
The line cut off and Peter dialed a new number. The US Marshalls. "Hello, this is Agent Peter Burke. Can you tell me where anklet 9305 alpha is? It should be under a Neal Caffrey."
"He's down by the Hudson sir, do you need an exact location?"
"No, I think I know where he is, thank you."
Peter was walking out of the office before he had even hung up the phone.
Peter was down there in twenty minutes, the traffic delaying him quite a bit. When he got to the hanger he saw Neal standing on the tarmac, not far from the hanger itself. Slowly and quietly Peter walked up to his friend and stood next to him. "Surprised to find me here?" Neal asked quietly, staring at the spot where the jet had been months ago.
"A little," Peter said, nodding. "I didn't think you'd ever want to see this place again."
"I didn't…but I had to come back. It's our anniversary, of when we first met, when we fell in love. I had to come back," Neal said simply, and when his partner glanced over and saw tear tracks on his face, he knew that this was important for the con.
"How did you meet?" he asked.
Neal laughed. "It was the middle of a downpour in September, quite a few years ago. I was scoping out an escape route through Central Park for an alleged art heist." Peter couldn't help but smirk at that one. "It hadn't been raining at first, but a storm came out of nowhere and suddenly everyone was running for boats. That was when I saw her, rushing through the park, trying to get home before she was completely soaked, but it was a little late for that. I took off my jacket, ran over to her and held it above her. Then I walked her home.
"We moved in together in May, and that's when I got her the bottle." Shaking his head, Neal looked down at the tarmac beneath them. "That summer, we had everything we needed, nothing we wanted, but that didn't matter, we had each other. And right then, it was enough."
"So what changed?"
"I wanted to give her everything she wanted, and I started doing some bigger cons. It didn't matter that I might get caught to me; all that mattered was that I made her happy. I was afraid…I was afraid that if I couldn't give her what she deserved she might find someone who could."
"And I got caught by an FBI agent named Peter Burke and got thrown in jail for four years…"
Peter knew that it would get there eventually, but he didn't think it would be that soon. "You got out though," he commented.
"Only because I didn't give up. I promised her that someday…someday we would be happy. We would have everything and life would be perfect. I wanted to fulfill that promise to her, so bad, and I couldn't.
"The only things that kept me sane in that jail cell were memories of our lives together. I wanted to have that with her again Peter. I was going to go straight once I got out of that prison…"
"I know Neal," his partner said.
"No, you don't!" Here was what Peter had been waiting for. "You don't know because you have Elizabeth! She's alive, you can go home tonight and you can hold her in your arms and know that she's safe! Know that she loves you and you love her! I don't have that! I don't have that because Kate's dead! Kate is dead Peter!" Neal shouted, moving to push the agent away, but Peter grabbed his arm and pulled the younger man into his arms. The body he held shook with sobs as Neal cried, really cried, for the first time since that plane had gone up in flames. The denial was over.
"It's okay Neal, get it out," he said, holding Neal tightly in case he collapsed. Muffled, but anguished cries escaped the con's mouth. "I've got you Neal, let it out."
Peter didn't know how long they stood there, but it seemed like hours before the cries subsided and the shaking calmed to a slight trembling. He pulled away slowly to make sure that Neal wouldn't fall before looking the man in the eyes, his now a bright red from crying.
"You have a future," he said shakily. "You and Elizabeth, you have a future and you can have children and grow old together. But I don't…all I have are could-have-beens and memories of a time that I wish I could go back to. Memories of a girl and a rain shower in September."
"Do you wish it had never happened at all?" Peter asked.
"No…because instead of a lifetime empty except for loneliness, I have a short time of pure happiness…and the pain now is worth the happy times that I can take with me…"
As they stood there, the clouds that had slowly been filling up the sky during the day opened up and rain began to fall. Neal laughed sadly and closed his eyes, tilting his head back towards the sky. "I love you too Kate…I love you too…"
A/N: I cried while I wrote this, I will admit this. No, this doesn't necessarily take place in the Tremors universe; it is intended as a standalone. Oh, and brownie points to whomever can tell me the significance of the BCSD line break.