A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

White Collar belongs to Jeff Eastin and USA Network. My writing only pays homage to the best writing currently on television (in my humble opinion).

This second chapter takes place after the episode Countdown.

Chapter 2 - A Fractured Fairytale

After Diana, Jones and the rest of the FBI agents left to pursue leads, Peter and Neal were left to themselves in a very quiet house. The lack of Elizabeth's presence in the room was weighing heavily on both men. Peter paced around the dining room table not wanting to venture into the kitchen even though several agents had cleaned up the spilled sauce and there was no trace left of what had happened just a couple hours earlier.

Neal had taken up residence on the couch. He wanted to be there for Peter for moral support, but he also knew that Peter had every right to be furious with him, and he would more than likely get an earful whenever Peter decided to stop giving him the silent treatment.

After pacing for several minutes, Peter walked over to the mantle and picked up the photo that Elle had taken of himself and Neal dressed in tuxes; ready to go off and save Mozzie by using a wire scam to catch a Detroit mob boss.
Peter looked at it a moment before raising his grief stricken eyes to Neal. Neal wasn't sure what picture Peter had picked up but he surmised that it was most likely a picture of Elle and Peter was intending to lay a guilt trip on him. Neal's assumption turned out to be horribly wrong in only one part when Peter turned the picture around and Neal recognized it instantly. Neal didn't miss the catch in Peter's voice when he started speaking.

"How could you do this to me? I thought you changed! I thought you chose to do the right thing, and now I find out that you've been lying the whole time! I should have known better when I found that security footage, but I let you lie through your teeth to me again! I am such a fool. What's a picture worth to you with your silver tongue? A thousand words isn't anything to you, the lies just slip right off your tongue without any effort, and they are so believable. It's because of you that Elizabeth was kidnapped! It doesn't ever end with you, Neal. You are always into something. You can't straddle the fence anymore! You say you're on my side, but then you go and prove you're on the other side. I've had enough of your lies. We are through."

Neal was taken aback. He had expected Peter to be mad, but he hadn't really expected Peter to end their partnership especially if he wanted help getting Elizabeth back. Neal looked up just in time to see Peter's hand with the picture in it heading rapidly for the wall. Neal's brain barely had time to process the information before his danger senses kicked in and he lifted his arms to protect his face a split second before the frame hit the wall, shattering the glass into a million little pieces. Peter knelt to pick up the picture leaving the shattered glass and frame pieces on the floor. Shaking the picture toward Neal, Peter growled out.

"This never happened."

Peter proceeded to rip the picture in half and then in half again, and then as if he hadn't gotten quite enough satisfaction, he took a couple of pieces, ripped them in smaller bits and let them float to the floor, and continued until the picture lay scattered in bits and pieces along with the glass on the floor.

Neal watched in horror as Peter ripped up the pieces noticing that Peter's fingers were now dripping in blood presumably from scratches and cuts from the flying glass and the blood was staining the picture. Neal realized how symbolic it all was; the glass, the picture, the blood. They all indicated something that had been forever altered and could never be put back together in exactly the same structure. Neal couldn't just let Peter give up on him though. As much as he wanted to be with Mozzie, the little guy just didn't get it. He had a life here with Peter. He just had to make Peter understand.

"Peter, we can fix this! Don't give up on me now when we've come so far."
"Maybe I don't want it to be fixed. Maybe Kramer was right – about everything."

"Peter, I chose you. Doesn't that mean anything?"

"No, not anymore. Kramer was right. He warned me that relationships with CI's were short term relationships. He knew you were going to self-destruct. He warned me that I had to protect myself. He said I was going to get hurt when you do something stupid and I have to arrest you, because instead of seeing you as a criminal, I see you as a friend. He said when, Neal. Not if. When. He knew this was going to happen, and I didn't want to believe him. I didn't want to believe him. I was so convinced I could change you. I thought you wanted to change. I was wrong; maybe I was wrong about everything. Maybe it was a power trip. I had you and my closure rate went up. I was proud and it went to my head. It clouded my better judgment, and now I might lose Elizabeth because of my stupid pride."

"We will find her, Peter. We'll get her back."

"There is no 'we', Neal. There is no 'us' anymore. I was wrong. Kramer said so himself. He said that searching for the truth makes me a good agent, but that I can't always be right. I was dead wrong about you."

"Peter, you don't mean that. You're just upset because Elizabeth is missing. Look at you, you're bleeding. You need to go the hospital; get it checked out. Let me help you."

"No, absolutely not. There are band aids upstairs. I'll be fine. I don't want your help."

Peter finally looked down at his hands, stained in red, as if he was seeing them for the first time. The emotions washing over him combined with the blood loss conspired to make him lightheaded and before he could say anything he felt himself spiraling down to the floor just like the picture pieces he had ripped.

Fortunately, Neal had noticed Peter was about to faint. Despite the fury Peter had just exhibited toward him, Neal decided that no matter what happened he had his partner's back, quite literally. After all, Neal thought one agent is more important than a thousand pieces of a picture and its frame as he caught Peter before he landed on top of the evidence that would always remind Neal of a fairytale, his fairytale that had been fractured and quite possibly ruined beyond repair.