Hi, there. This is a story I've been thinking about for a while. It's already been done before, but I'm hoping to do something new with it. A little warning before you start reading: it's going to be really angsty, and might get violent in further chapters.

He just wanted it to stop. The banging, the cursing, the sound of glass shattering. Neal Caffrey was eight. Knees pulled up to his chest and mop of wavy brown hair ducked low, he sat, shaking, under his desk. It was where his mom had told him to go. To hide. Her voice came out as that quiet, panicked whisper.

"Neal, baby, do what mommy says... Please, baby, you go hide under your desk and don't come out-" she cut off, whirled around as the dull, heavy footsteps climbing the stairs stopped. There was the sound of boots scuffing on the other side of the front door, the keys turning in the lock.

"Neal, go!"

Neal knew what was happening outside his closed bedroom door. Somewhere in the back of his mind, guilt stabbed at his conscience. He needed to protect his mom. Shane Caffrey, the dirty cop, his father, had staggered into the shabby apartment, empty beer bottle slipping from his clumsy grasp. Neal could hear his mom pleading over and over again, crying, sobbing. And he could do nothing to stop it. There was the loud crash of another bottle shattering, then silence. Neal curled further into the corner under his desk and cried.

Present day

Neal was small for his age. At fifteen, his shoulders were slowly filling out though and his arms slowly getting stronger. His handsome face was lit by bright, blue eyes, a lock of his wavy brown hair hanging rebelliously over his pale forehead.

"Moz, I'm not too sure this is a good idea." Neal eyed the young man across the table from him carefully.

"Neal, when have I ever sent you into something risky?" He replied, pushing a pair of thick rimmed glasses back into place on the bridge of his nose. Neal raised an eyebrow at the bald man. Or was his hair just really short? Neal had never been able to tell. Mozzie sighed.

"Don't answer that. But listen, Neal. This job is perfectly safe. Trust me."

Neal did trust him. In fact, he was the only one Neal had ever trusted after his mother's death. His father had soon lost custody and Neal had been placed in foster care. Mozzie had caught Neal one day, trying to pick his pockets. He'd been impressed by the kid's smooth talk, and how he'd almost gotten away with taking Mozzie wallet. Nobody beat Moz at lifting a wallet. Until Neal. He'd taken Neal under his wing, taught him a few tricks of the "trade". The two soon found their common interest in art. And Neal soon discovered Mozzie's unkanny knack for...robbing art museums. When Moz got back from a job, Neal would eagerly listen to all the details.

Then, Mozzie had asked him to tag along for one of them.

Neal had been thrilled at first. But after turning the idea over in his head, Neal had come up with all the things that could go so horribly wrong. Moz had laughed. The kid thought like a con, considering every single possibility. Moz sighed looking back across the table at the kid. He was distracted again, staring absently out the window of the coffee shop. The kid had seemed distracted and kind of fidgety lately, but he'd chalked it up to the stress of joining him on his next late night museum visit. He cleared his throat and Neal snapped out of his reverie.

He leaned forward in his chair and peered intently at the teenager. Neal backed up a little.

"What?" He said apprehensively, thrown off by Mozzie's scrutiny.

"What's going on, Neal?" Fear flashed briefly in those big blue eyes. Neal cleared his throat nervously and fidgeted in his seat.

"Neal?" Mozzie wondered what could had the kid so on edge.

"M-my dad," he blurted out.

"What about your dad?" Mozzie knew little about Neal's father. But judging by the scars he'd seen all across Neal's back and upper arms the time he'd had to take Neal to the ER a couple years back, he was sure, sadly, that Neal was better off where he was now.

"He's convinced them- at the foster home- that he can take care of me again..."

Moz sat stunned. "What? They won't let that happen."

Neal worried his bottom lip between his teeth and drummed his fingers on the table. "I don't know, Moz..."

"You could stay with me." He said. Neal shook his head and smirked.

"Moz, they'll never let you. Society doesn't even know you exist."

Mozzie raised his eyebrows at Neal and gave him a sly smile.

"Oh. Money, I get it."

"Neal, with this job, we'll have more than enough to do anything we want."

He couldn't go back to living with his father. He was stronger than he was back then. But he couldn't. He just couldn't. Neal gave a resigned sigh.

"Okay, Moz, I'll do it," he said, even as an unnatural feeling of dread settled in the pit of his stomach.