NOT A DEATH FIC!

Suicide is the best cover there is. People will convince themselves that they missed the signs. A suicide note creates more questions than answers. And everyone is too busy blaming themselves to take a look at who had motive. It's a perfect play, the only con worth performing twice.

It was a Tuesday, the day that Peter was called to June's house. Neal's anklet had been cut and Peter had picked up the warning as he was leaving the house. There was the old sigh and the familiar flutter of panic as he thought about what kind of trouble Caffrey had got himself into now. Maybe this was it, the day that the conman had decided to run. He said he would take care of it straight away.

It didn't stop him from grabbing June's offered coffee on the way up the stairs. He was too tired to play this game. If Caffrey had run, Peter could hardly do anything about it until he had caffeine in him. Both hadn't seen Neal since last night. The door was closed, as per usual, Peter knocked twice. There was no answer, so he just opened the door and walked in.

He wished he had prepared himself.

The tracking anklet that had brought him here was placed neatly on top of a thick cream envelope sitting beside an empty wineglass and a carefully creased origami bird whose base was starting to congeal to the table because of the blood. Because of all the blood.

The bird was the first thing to catch his eye, maybe because he was looking for it, or maybe because his mind was already trying to protect him from seeing the body slumped at the end of the table.

"Neal?"

The coffee cup slid out of his hand and hit the floor. He was reaching for his phone and stepping quickly around the chairs to where his friend was sitting. "Neal?" He checked for a pulse. It was routine, or maybe it was hope, because he knew that Neal was dead.

And there was a gun on the floor by Peter's knees, loaded, silenced, and as still as it's handler.

"He'd dead."

"We're sending an ambulance to your location, just stay on the phone, sir."

He dropped his phone onto the hardwood floor and sat back against the wall. There was blood on his hands, thick and dark. He slid his head back and blinked up at the ceiling, trying to control his nausea.

Goddammit Neal. Goddamn you.

"Neal? Would you like some breakfast?" It was June, coming up the stairs.

Pull yourself together, Peter.

"Don't come up here!" he called, struggling to his feet. His voice sounded hoarse in his ears. He had to stop her from seeing this... this...

He could hear her footsteps on the landing now, and he shut the door before she could reach it, "Don't come in here, June. I need you to go downstairs and wait for the police."

"The police- What's happened?" She asked, concern shivering her voice up an octave.

Neal's dead.

"Please wait downstairs, they'll need you to open the door for them," He said unsteadily, leaning his weight against the door in case she tried to come in.

He could hear the hesitation in her breathing as she stood outside. Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity she called through the door, "Alright, but call if you need me."

Peter listened to her go back down the stairs before turning back to survey the apartment. The place was cleaner than usual, everything dusted and set in it's place. The early morning sun was streaming in through the windows, polishing everything with a golden glow. How sadistic had Caffrey been?

The body was staring at him, that handsome face was as strong as ever, not slackened in death, but as resolute as it had been in life. There was a trickle of blood at the temple and the hair was unbecomingly matted with congealed blood, but there was no mistaking those eyes.

Goddammit.

How could he have missed it, just last night they had finished a case. They had been fighting all day about some stupid con, and when Peter had apologized and congratulated Neal on the case, he had seen real pride in those damn eyes.

Why couldn't you call me? Why didn't you tell me?

Because he should have known. He was trained to recognize those signs, and he had missed them in a friend when that friend had needed him the most. The happiness yesterday might have been a warning sign, that Neal had decided one a course of action. That tie that Neal had given him for El's anniversary could have been a parting gift.

The envelope sat accusingly still. He couldn't touch it, not until the techs had come and investigated the entry wound, the gun residue, the wineglass and origami bird. After all, why couldn't it be murder?

The envelope could hold answers. There were three names written in Neal's flowing handwriting, June, Mozzie, and Peter.

Ok so I think I should make this pretty clear: THIS IS NOT A DEATH FIC. I hate death fics. But I do love some good Peter and Neal whump. I like a man that seems about to break down at any point. Anyway: This is my First WhiteCollar fic, so be sure to drop a review and flame me on everything from my characterization to punctuation... Also: This is not a dream... Because I hate realistic dream sequences.