TitGenre: angst; AU (In this fic, Kate died the second week in December. Neal is still free at Christmastime.)

Characters: Neal Caffrey, Mozzie Havisham

Triggers: Death, depression, grief, Christmas

Word Count: 101-999

Thanks to rabidchild67 of LJ for beta.

Disclaimer: This fan fic is not written for the author's gain, monetary or otherwise. White Collar is the property of Jeff Eastin and the USA network.

Somewhere, Sometime, Somehow

Darkness came too early. Lacking purpose, aimless, Neal stood pressed against the cold glass doors of his apartment and stared out at the lights. They were beautiful, the Christmas lights; familiar lights of buildings, luminescent streets, the glow—all things light always, every hour. Sometime in a summer full of sun and green and family too loud in his own home, someday when he was happy, maybe then he could begin to paint this empty, achingly beautiful city of light. He pressed the knuckles of his clenched right hand hard against his mouth, squeezed shut his eyes, and told himself once more to stop, to spare himself this idiotic game.

For a while he had been outside, but the cold had driven him in. Mozzie had been in and out, fussing. He had made Neal eat what June sent up, a modest serving of braised chicken with a decent sauce and tender-crisp vegetables. Moz sat and watched until Neal finally ate it all. Then Neal registered his presence and what he was doing and snapped, "I ate it, satisfied?" and Moz nodded mildly, collected the plate and flatware, and left again.

Neal paced, thinking of the small tree June had brought, how she had understood when he said no. No tree this year or ever, thanks.

The city was wavering behind a haze of mist and snow. Somewhere—Neal knew exactly where, but he blurred the location to match the view and the inner tears that almost drowned his soul—somewhere in that city lay the ashes of the only woman he had ever loved, the woman he was still so much in love with that he ached of it. He pictured being like her, with her there, and sobbed aloud to know such sweet release.