Crossroads, Then and Now

by PaBurke
Summary: In the future, Neal gets to make a choice again.
Cross: WC & JoA
Disclaimer: Not mine

The public defender was young and earnest. She wasn't particularly pretty but she was smart and thorough. Neal wondered if this was her first solo case. He wished for Mozzie, someone who knew and understood him, but the fellow thief had disappeared years ago and left Neal holding the bag.

Neal wouldn't let himself wish for anyone else.

The defender walked Neal through the court process efficiently, she didn't assume that he had learned something during his previous court hearings, but she also spoke in such a way that the conversation was almost interesting. Neal wondered what she saw when she looked at him: an old conman? A skilled liar? A distinguished gentleman?

"Do you have any questions?" she asked him.

"No," he smiled at her and her expression didn't change in the least. She was immune to his talents.

"Do you have anyone that I might contact on your behalf?"

"No."

The defender stared at him for a moment. "El Burke's dead," she said out of the blue.

Nothing could have prepared Neal for that announcement. He was sure his shock showed on his face. "No, you're wrong."

Joan Girardi shook her head sadly. "I have the most reliable source. Would you like me pass a message to Agent Burke?"

Neal hadn't been at a crossroads like this since the last time he had set eyes on Peter. He hoped that he would make the right decision this time.