AN: I'm so sorry for not updating in a while! Hopefully some of you are still following and will enjoy this one! It is a little different, but hopefully still enjoyable. Thanks again to everyone who is reading my stories! It means a lot!

Wicked Game

Neal Caffrey isn't the best conman. He isn't the unsurpassed criminal, the foremost thief. No. There has always been one he could never, will never, beat and he's staring it in the face. Neal Caffrey knows that Fear was, is and always will be, the conman, the criminal and thief he could never be.

Neal took a step forward, his intentions to follow the retreating back he wanted to have his own. Fear conned his mind, told him lies the heart of his truth would be disappointed to know he believed. His own heart thundered like a train traveling down to its last destination and his breath felt like the gravel being kicked up between the tracks.


The word was as powerful as the puny puff of a train engine. The train kept going, barreling towards the dark tunnel that would separate it from the rest of the world.


This time his voice was strong, wailing like the train horn that caused everyone to take notice. The train halted, the screech of the brakes came from the gasp that escaped Sam's throat. Neal waited with his pounding chest and the sound of his blood, his father's blood, pumping in his ears. The man turned around with eyes still foreign to Neal, but facial features that resembled his own in a worn out way. His father stared back at him, like Neal had once stared at the picture Ellen had shown him that revealed Neal as a little boy and the back of his father he had no memory of.


Sam's breath caught in his throat like a firefly in a jar on a Summer night. It had been thirty years since that title had been directed at him. As it rang in his ears, it was hard to believe it was actually his son's voice. Once so light and innocent and stumbling over syllables, it was now marred by the reality of the world and the blow of the hard life he had left for his son to grow up in. But at least he grew up. Sam reminded himself like he had every day since he last saw his child. Sam turned around. He may have left Neal all those years ago, but it wasn't because he wanted to. He hadn't been able to explain to his baby that daddy was going away then. He'd be damned if he didn't explain himself now.

He stared at Neal's eyes that looked so much like his mother's, piercing blue with mischief, swirling with disappointment and a hint of something Sam would never understand.

Like someone untwisting the lid of the jar to let the fireflies out, Sam's breath rushed out of his throat. "You look just like her." He saw a dab of hurt swirl in Neal's eyes and swallowed thickly. Ellen had told him how his wife turned out. "Your eyes, I mean."

He saw his son become guarded as he took a step away from him and began to question again if Neal had really called out to him. He stopped walking and sighed.

"What I did...when I left...I didn't want to. But...if there was going to be a chance for this...I had to."

"This?" The question was filled with such accusation that if he hadn't seen his son ask it, he would've thought that the agent standing just a step or two behind Neal had actually been the one to speak.

Sam nodded. "I know you don't see it the way I do...but I just wanted you to have a chance to grow have a chance at life. What they threatened...what they would've done to you...I just couldn't let that happen, Neal. Just like...I can't let it happen now. You're still my son."

Neal watched his father walk away from him and for a moment he wondered if this was how he left the first time. He took a step forward, but a hand on his arm stopped him. He turned desperate eyes toward his restriction. The train was leaving! Didn't the agent understand? He was going to miss it! He couldn't just let it leave! He couldn't just let his father leave!


"I'm sorry, Neal."

The words assaulted Neal's ears like the screech of metal. Sorry was such a pitiful word reserved for pitiful people. He shook his head and tried to jerk his arm free, but the agent had him trapped in more ways than one.


The word fell off Neal's tongue in such a useless state. He jerked again and for a moment he felt heat lick at his neck and ears like he was back on that daunting airstrip where Kate died. The heat was becoming unbearable, rolling down his spine and quivering his legs. He shook in and out of Peter's strong hands, but the man's grasp never let up. The heat swelled off his spine and snaked around his ribs, slithering up his torso and dancing on his chest that throbbed with his pounding heart. The heat rose until it felt blistering, stinging his eyes, burning his throat, but then like a flash of lightning it was replaced with ice. The sound of a gunshot rang through the air and the heat liquified and drain from his body, leaving him frozen.

There was only one source of heat left in his world and he craned his neck back to look up at it. Peter's face had dropped into that same expression Neal had sketched on those mournful and sleepless nights after Kate died. Like a fortune teller, Peter's face told Neal what his world was going to be like in the next few moments and in a second's time Neal relished in his frozen feeling wishing time would do the same. But the heat radiating from Peter's strong grasp around his wrists was slowly melting him back into the cold reality he had just been dealt.


The word fell off his tongue, but now it meant everything. And Peter understood.

He felt the agent pull him close to his chest, the man's heat melting him faster, and drag him back into the shadows.


Peter felt Neal's word like a punch in the gut. But he rolled with it and drew the younger man close, while pulling him back into the building behind them, to keep Neal out of the shooter's path, to keep Neal safe. But Peter couldn't help but wonder if it wasn't supposed to be the other way around. Shouldn't Sam be protecting Neal? He heard Neal muffle another 'no' and felt the shuddered breath on his chest. Peter was glad it wasn't the other way around even if was supposed to be.

He felt his back hit against the wall in the building he had hidden themselves in and finally let Neal's legs buckle while sliding them to the floor. He heard Diana on the radio and pulled Neal closer to him until backup arrived.

For being in the shadows, there was awful lot of warmth spreading around him. He didn't understand. He shuddered and shook because he knew he should be cold, but he felt warm. He pulled his face away from the shadows he was certain he was hiding in to see Peter staring down at him, his expression telling him exactly what the agent was going to say next.

"I'm sorry, Neal."

Neal flinched, but not for the same reasons as before. He jerked his head away from the agent and noticed the building they were in, before catching his reflection in a nearby window.

He could see his pale complexion highlighted by red-rimmed eyes, but suddenly it morphed and twisted into a sight that caused his breath to catch. He felt Peter pull his head back to his chest, but Neal could still see his reflection in the window from his hiding place in the shadows. His reflection smiles warmly at him, facial lines deepening in the friendliest manner. It's such an encouraging face marred only by time. It's his father's reflection, because he knows he is his father's son. But then the reflection twists just a bit more. It's still his father's face, but it scorns and snickers at him.

He can hear the hissing of the malicious, victorious laughter coming from his father's reflection. It grates his ears and he whimpers like the pitiful sound of an 'I'm sorry' because he just wants it to stop. But he knows it never will because he is his father's son and his father is the aftermath of Fear.

His father is Fear's son and he is his father's son.

Neal Caffrey isn't the best conman. He isn't the unsurpassed criminal, the foremost thief. No. There has always been one he could never, will never, beat and he's staring it in the face. Neal Caffrey knows that Fear was, is and always will be, the conman, the criminal and thief he could never be.

The reflection sneers at him once more and cause him to flinch. The shadows are getting deeper it seems. They are engulfing him. But he's okay with it. He twists into the shadows, into Peter's hold, and hides himself from his reflection.

However, he won't remain hidden forever. No. Just long enough until he can change his reflection. Just long enough until he can put his mask back on. The one that allows him to believe he is who Peter wants him to be.

He curls further in because he knows he doesn't have long until his facade is rebuilt.

Soon he will emerge from these shadows to play the game his father lost, the game Neal's played his whole life.

Yes, Neal will leave the shadows one day to play the game Fear is edging him to play and oh, what a wicked game it is.

AN: Again, I'm sorry for not updating sooner! There should be a few updates soon! I have a few one-shots started so I just need to finish them up. Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think! :) Have a Happy Thanksgiving!