Following the theory; What if Kramer had turned and caught the exchange between Peter and Neal?
Again, the title for this fic comes from Coldplay's song "Fix You." It really is an excellent song and I hope that you will take the time to look it up and listen.
Disclaimer: I do not, in any way, own White Collar or its fabulous cast.
Much gratitude for all the reviews and story alerts/favorites. I love you all to bits :D
On another note, I feel that I must add that italicized scenes/dialogue have occurred in the past. The exact time of them is left to you to decide!
Before the War, I saw...
Sometimes Neal wonders if he deserved this.
While he's lying awake in bed at night, threading the line between consciousness and sleep, he wonders if this is justice. If he hadn't taken St. George and the Dragon, he wouldn't be in this position would he?
And maybe that question is too far back in the past to matter. Maybe the real issue at hand is that, if it weren't for the Nazi treasure and all it caused, none of this would have happened.
Kramer would have stayed in D.C., content with his eighty-six percent conviction rate.
And Neal would still be in New York, saying a warm good morning to June on his way to the door, Peter honking the horn once, briefly, to remind him that they don't want to be late.
When Mozzie comes forward with the idea, Peter has neither the heart nor the wish to turn him away.
"Do you really think this will work?"
Mozzie takes the offered plate of pie from Elizabeth with gratefulness.
"Of course it will work Suit. Sally and I took all the necessary precautions."
Peter doesn't say anything in response, just looks away and thinks.
He hasn't spoken with Mozzie since the day where he'd spotted him at the airport, 2 months and 5 days and it already feels like years when the small man had come to see his friend off, if only from a distance.
And Peter thinks that he'll never forgive Kramer for taking Neal away without allowing him to say good-bye to others beside himself.
He'd tried to talk to him but Mozzie had pulled away, said four calm but damning words and walked away.
Peter still remembers them, they follow him like shadows at night, sometimes during the day, when he lets down his guard and catches himself looking down at the bullpen, to Neal's empty desk.
There's a tenseness between him and Mozzie that he knows will not go away until Neal is once more between them.
And even that thought seems tentative at best.
When Neal first hears the soft, tiny 'thud' against his window, he curses under his breath and wishes that the bird would get lost.
Another, and another and another and Neal throws his covers off, bare feet on soft carpet carrying him to the window across from his bed.
The crescent moon offers little light as he peers past the darkened windowpane.
Another minute thud and he watches with incredulity as the small pebble bounces off the glass and down.
What the hell?
He's wary of opening the window but excitement is thrumming in his veins, it can't be.
His long fingers are unlatching the locks before he can think further and then sweet night air and then a bird call that sounds garbled and unrealistic but who cares because it's Mozzie.
He wants to laugh and he wants to cry and he settles for calling down, voice tentative because if this is just another ghost of his memory…
"It's me, Neal."
It is relief and hope and joy and he stumbles over his words.
"Didn't know we were still in high school, what with you tossing gravel at my window to get me to come out."
"The classics never go out of style," Mozzie reminds him, a grin in his voice and Neal sighs with content relief.
"So this is where they've set you up?" Mozzie asks as he looks around the darkened living room. He and Neal had agreed that it was best to leave the lights off.
"Yup. 221 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. Forty minutes from the Hoover building, forty-five to Northern Virginia and twenty-five from the national mall."
And 226 miles from home.
Mozzie regards his friend and frowns because Neal looks tired and worn and thinner than he remembers. His long fingers are fiddling with the last button of his pajama top.
"How is June?"
"Doing well. She's touring Japan with her granddaughter actually."
The empty house had been too much.
"Sterling and Bosch just closed a major payday on a stolen Matisse and Burke Premier Events just held a gala at the MOMA."
Neal nods, accepting the information.
It's okay to ask me Neal.
The name is whispered almost and he can see the way Neal swallows harshly in the pale moonlight.
"The Suit's fine Neal. So are the junior suits. Diana is holding on the wedding and Jones may or may not have a new girlfriend, Mrs. Suit and I are still debating the clues."
"That's good Mozzie. I'm glad to hear it."
Silence, and then Mozzie knows he needs to say it because he can see Neal slowly deflating.
"He misses you, you know. We all do. Even the dog."
Neal's fingers return to the button with renewed force and it's a testament to his failing self-control because Neal never lets the mask slip in front of others.
"This should have never happened."
Neal nods and it is the movement and the eyes of men who agree but do not believe.
Mozzie grits his teeth, fights the urge to scream.
"This isn't fair, Neal. Don't forget that."
Neal smiles at that and finally looks at him, nodding at the black-cloth covered bulk Mozzie had set down next to his leg.
"So…what did you bring me?"
Mozzie explains that the pigeon has been trained by the best and is guaranteed to return to its perch in New York.
Neal's worked with pigeons before, in many ways that would interest a federal agent, and the bird's grey, white-speckled feathers feel soft under the pads of his fingers.
"Her name is Kùnoa."
"What does it mean?" Neal asks, withdrawing his hand a little as the pigeon pecks the tender flesh between his thumb and index finger.
They talk about many little things, like what Mozzie has been up to and what Neal is doing.
Neal tells him about his latest case, his past cases, moans a little about the fact that mortgage fraud is everywhere, not just in good old New York and firmly stays away from Kramer's verbal lashing and the physical violence of his agents.
Before long, Mozzie is standing at the back door, ready to leave because who knows who's watching and reality suddenly hits Neal hard in the chest when he realizes that he will not see Mozzie tomorrow as he's just said.
To his credit, Mozzie turns the phrase cleverly, offering him a quote about the future but Neal isn't really listening.
When Mozzie has left, the former con-man brings the pigeon's wooden carrier up to his room, setting it gently on his bedside table (he'll still be able to reach his alarm clock on the floor).
He grabs his laptop then and plugs in the smaller-than-usual flash drive Mozzie had given him, which will store files up to 4GB and self-erase with the first incorrect entry of the password.
And with that he begins to type.
By dawn, the pigeon has left for it's journey back to New York and Neal remains in D.C., taking the bird's carrier down to the townhouse's small basement where he hides it in a closet.
Neal had once told Peter that Mozzie did not like to fly when he wasn't the one piloting the plane. And the short con-man has been in transit for the better part of the night but Peter knows better than to attribute the weariness in his eyes to jet lag.
He pulls gently on Satchmo's leash to get him to sit and asks, "How did it go?"
"Perfectly, as I told you it would. Both items of import were delivered."
Peter reinforces his earlier command with another small tug when Satchmo shows an interest in chasing a nearby squirrel.
"How is he?"
Mozzie takes off his glasses and cleans them slowly.
"He was fine, Suit."
It's a beautiful Saturday morning and Satchmo barks tentatively at the squirrel and Peter wishes people would stop lying to him.
"Look, Mozzie, I'm sorry. It was never supposed to be like this."
The smaller man immediately pulled away from his hand, recoiling like a man burned and a few people on the hurried way to their flights stopped and stared, if only for a moment.
"The way I see it, it was always going to end like this. I don't know what kind of deluded reality you live in, Suit, but the truth is that Neal was never going to be freed."
"Now, Mozzie, that's not fai–"
"Don't talk to me about fairness," Mozzie all but growled, voice low and icy, calm with the highest level of fury. "It was inevitable that someone would find a way to keep Neal chained once they noticed what a good little pet con he was."
Mozzie took off his glasses, wiped them furiously, the one tell that showed he was upset.
Peter wanted to reply, wanted to make the other man see reason but he's having a hard time seeing it himself, because Kramer had more or less suggested the same thing. Had more or less said that Neal was too valuable an asset to let go.
"I never wanted this to happen, Mozzie."
Mozzie nods, but it's just perfunctory, "You may not have intended for it to end this way, but it has. You brought Kramer here, seeking guidance, wanting to reconnect, I don't know. But you brought him here, Peter, and he saw Neal and he…" Mozzie abruptly stopped what he was doing, as if just realizing that he had called him by his first time.
Then he settled his round glasses back on his face and gave him a long, searching look.
"Was it worth it?"
Peter doesn't know why he's suddenly thinking of Neal, how he hasn't seen him in 3 months and 2 days.
He knows he should be focusing on applying pressure to the spiking pain in his shoulder or paying attention to Diana's harried and worried face above him, her firm voice calling his name.
Jones is pressing something against the wound and his dark hands are stained in blood when he moves back and Peter grits his teeth and fights the urge to scream.
Peter, you've ruined your suit. Now you'll have to get a new one for sure.
It's the smooth baritone that he hasn't heard in weeks and Peter finds himself blinking sluggishly, trying to focus on the figure that stands just behind Diana, fedora in a long-fingered hand and blue, blue eyes gazing straight at him.
Hang on Peter. Elizabeth will kick your ass if you don't. I might just let her too, if you don't hang on.
Peter can feel himself slipping, the darkness enveloping him slowly and gently as the pain fades and fades until there's nothing but a tingling feeling not unlike déjà vu.
Hey, Peter, I know I'd never admit it to your face, but… I kinda miss your deviled ham.
Pigeons can be trained to run a route back and forth over very long distances. "Kùnoa" means liberty in Hawaiian, a language which I've always found beautiful and which I thought appropriate to include, seeing as Lollana, the little Hawaiian dancer figurine, keeps popping up in the show.
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