A month went by, Neal out of work while recuperating from his long capture. Once he was released from the hospital, he returned to his apartment at June's, his landlady more than happy to see him. She was unaware of what happened but remarked that he looked younger than he had. He didn't reply but to thank her for the compliment although in a way he was hoping he looked the way he was supposed to, glancing in the mirror daily more than usual to make sure he was still himself: a 30 something year old ex-con who worked as a consultant and not a 2 bit teenage thief. So far he had no relapses and he had remained the same since whatever had occurred so many weeks ago.
Mozzie had stopped by a few times to check in on him, the con's friend having performed a miracle. Mozzie had finally told Neal about what he'd fixed up. Neal was ever so thankful to his friend for doing what he had done to help him and Peter. The agent had also stopped by during his leave of absence from work to check in on him and bring El who had been worried sick about him. Did she know? She seemed to hint at it but never said a word, leaving the guys alone when they hinted at certain things that needed to be discussed. It was a kind of secret among them although when Peter and Mozzie were together it was a bit awkward remembering the puny 10 year old who apparently liked his eccentric Uncle Mozzie. More strange for Neal remembering being the big brother to a pint-sized Peter when it had always been the other way around. Nobody mentioned it but it was insinuated when talking to one another.
"So... min... I mean Suit... You seem to be doing ok. No fear of cooties outbreaks with the wife."
Peter hadn't had any relapses either but Baker had given him the official dosage back when he'd let him go and kept Neal captive. The agent blushed slightly, narrowing his eyes at the con who looked at him with an innocent expression while Neal tried to resist laughing. He finally stood between the two, clearing his throat as they gave him his full attention.
"No more jibes about being short or childish. Bad enough we had to live it again with Baker."
Everyone gave a unified sound of agreement, Mozzie moving over to the kitchenette and the wine selection much to Neal's dismay before Peter leaned over and whispered to his friend.
"Glad you're back to your old self, Neal. Not sure what I would have done trying to raise a mini-you or explain to Hughes why you looked like the day I caught you."
The agent seemed genuinely relieved not only to have him back but his own adulthood. It had been obvious that the 10 year old Peter missed the life he knew he had already had as an adult. The experience had brought them closer as friends if not brothers while bonding them both to Mozzie a bit more than either of them had been. If not for the paranoid con man, both of them may have been trapped in the strange Faganish land Baker had created and may have managed to expand upon if he'd lived. Neal still felt a kind of sadness about Eddy, doing some research and discovering the man's real name had been Jeremy Atmore. Jeremy had been an EMT for a small private ambulance company for several years until a terrible accident on his watch put him in prison unjustly. He'd been accused of killing a man he was tending for his watch, the victim's head battered in when another EMT had come on the scene. It was later revealed to be an accident but the man had already been put into the system, other abnormalities with his mental capabilities used to keep him in prison indefinitely. The man had saved him from Jacob and Baker giving his life for his, from what he could remember.
"Hey... El was thinking of making your favorite tonight. She's testing a new recipe with those little chickens you like."
Neal rolled his eyes as Peter smirked back at him, teasing like a brother if not a half-pint at that. He nodded back seeing Mozzie watching them curiously as he walked back over with a glass of wine.
"Are the children having fun talking out of earshot of the adult?"
Now Mozzie was rubbing it in, both men giving him a sarcastic roll of the eyes as she smirked a bit at them, taking a sip of his wine before pulling Neal aside.
"I made sure that recipe was destroyed. No more de-aging, fountain of youth mumbo jumbo. My friend that made it has a bad memory so he won't recall how to make it anymore. Besides, it was hard enough getting the genetic parts and he's a thrifty sort."
Neal smiled with relief and nodded.
"How about Eddy... I mean Jeremy. Were you able to arrange what I had planned?"
The con sighed and nodded, pulling out a paper and handing it to him. It showed information about a funeral for one Jeremy Atmore at the Brookmire Funeral Park. Neal felt a sense of closure there for the other ex-con who had helped him out. They both heard a cough, Neal pushing the paper into his pocket without being seen as they turned to look at Peter. The agent was giving them a narrow eyed glance, curiosity evident on his face as he put his hands on his hips and confronted them.
"What are you hiding, Caffrey?"
Mozzie saw the same thing Neal did, both trying not to laugh as they both imagined the 10 year old asking if they were keeping secrets. Peter blinked back at them, eyes narrowing even more before he flushed slightly, his face pink with uncertain embarrassment as he tried to figure out what to do with his hands.
"What? Tell what you're talking about... I want to know."
Author's Note: This story was originally written over the past 2 or so weeks because I was going to send it off to the White Collar Big Bang thing on LJ. Unfortunately I figured if anyone were to actually try to illustrate this as they do for WCBB, it would kill them being nearly 50 K in words so I opted to post it here while writing another story with a much less lethal length and submitting that one last minute. Thanks for all the great reviews and comments! I hope you enjoyed the ending / epilogue. Hopefully I will have something new soon!