AN:This is the updated version based on it being a commutation hearing. There are parts taken directly form the first chapter, but the situation is of course different. This is based on the preview for 3.5. It does not take into account the preview clip or promo for Judgement Day.

Neal was at his commutation hearing. As he sat there, before the three higher-ups who would decide his fate, he hoped he seemed calmer than he really was. To be honest, (well isn't that the word of the day) he was feeling better as the questioning went on. They would ask and he would answer. It was simple as that. He was trying to tell as much truth as he could without telling them he was the one who really had the Nazi treasure. Neal thought it was actually going pretty well. Maybe this would be all over soon and everything would be okay. Then one of the questions caught him completely off guard.

"Mr. Caffrey. Do you deserve to be free?"

Neal hoped that is easygoing expression didn't falter too much. What does one say to that? If he said yes, that would make him seem insincere. And if he said no? Well why should the FBI think he shouldn't be on the anklet if even he didn't?

Neal took a deep breath before answering, "I've done a lot of bad thinks in my life, but even when I was in jail, I never felt any remorse. If anything, I was just more motivated to not get caught next time. Then I started working with Agent Burke. I saw the good I could do. I saw that I could help people and make a difference. For the first time, I felt sorry for the things I've done. These two years have been great. But now, at the prospect of them being over, I'm scared. I can't stop thinking about what I'll do when I am free. What if I go back to my old ways? Conning is like a drug. It's a rush that you get addicted to. Working with Agent Burke and the whole White Collar Unit has been really good for me. It's giving me a support system and helping get over my addiction. This anklet isn't just a punishment-it's something that reminds me I'm getting better. It's helping me. That being said, I don't know if I ready. I think I need the remaining two years of my sentence to help me more. I don't know if I could resist the temptation of my old life at this point. So do I deserve to be free? Maybe. I don't know. But should I be? No. I'm not ready.

His questioners seemed to mull over his answer for a minute. They were clearly caught off guard by it. That was fine with Neal as he was pretty shocked by what he had just said. He didn't even know where that answer came from. It was something that he never would admit to anyone: Not Mozzie, not Peter, not even himself, but he just said it.

Finally, the same women who asked him the last question said, "Thank you Mr. Caffrey. You may go now. You will hear our decision soon."

With that, Neal left. He needed to get some privacy. He needed to get some air. Away from the stern looks and silent judgment he had been receiving. When he was finally alone, Neal sank to the ground. He had just given up any hope being freed early. He should be mad at himself for ruining this opportunity. But as he sat there thinking about what he said, Neal was surprised to realize that he didn't regret it.