Happiness is as brittle as glass, and so is trust...

I've never written a story depicting a dark mood like this before. I'm really interested if you like it. Therefore, please R&R

Yeah, and this story has been beta read! I'm extremely glad that kat11bookworm has helped me with this story. Thank you so much!

Off we go, here comes the story!


The moment Peter Burke entered the FBI office, he sensed something was off. He had spent the morning at the head office of a blue chip company investigating an $8 Billion accounting fraud. The CEO and stockholders were not amused, and the FBI had been called in.

Normally, when you enter the White Collar office during working hours, you'd find busy agents working at their desks, talking at the water cooler or discussing the latest case hunched over a file.

Today, no-one was talking at all. The computer monitors were switched off. Burke addressed the agent next to him, "Chuck, what's going on?"

The young agent shrugged and nodded in the direction of Hughes' office. "Computer system is down."

Peter saw three men inside of Hughes' office. He didn't know any of them, but they had OPR written all over them.

Soon after they left, Hughes gave him the double finger point. He hurried upstairs. "Reese, why is OPR here? Is there a problem?"

"You could say so. Peter, this isn't going to be easy. You'd better take a seat." Hughes started to reveal the shocking details.

Two White Collar agents had sold inside information over a period of 14 month to anyone who was willing to pay the price, regardless whether it was an arms dealer, human traffickers or Russian mobsters. Furthermore, they had embezzled seized valuables and they had done it skillfully, being particularly careful to cover their tracks.

An atypical pattern in the White Collar closure history had raised the suspicion of OPR analysts. They started an investigation 4 weeks ago. It was only today that they had nailed the dirty agents down. The computer system had been blocked in order to secure the evidence. Both agents had been arrested meanwhile.

Peter Burke was appalled by the news. He had worked together with both of them regularly. Last week, he'd gone with one of them out for lunch. He'd never once become suspicious. "I don't believe this. We've been infiltrated. I'm glad we haven't lost any of our undercover agents in the line of duty due to those rats. It's bad enough they've messed up the cases."

Both men sat together in embarrassed silence. Then suddenly, a thought crossed Peter's mind. "Oh my god. Caffrey?"

Hughes looked unhappy. "I'm afraid so. We have no proof yet. OPR will need a fortnight to send the final report. But if you ask me: Yes. He was framed."

Peter closed his eyes. His stomach turned when he understood the implications of Hughes' words. He had sent his friend and partner to prison for nothing.

When they had seized millions worth of international currencies, during the investigation of a bank heist, a small fortune had never made it to the evidence room but had disappeared somewhere along the way. Caffrey had been around the boxes of money when they had been sealed. Therefore, it hadn't taken long until he had become suspect. Confronted with the accusations, Neal had protested his innocence, and had implored his handler to believe him. He had sworn by everything that was holy to him that he didn't do it.

Peter could still see the intense blue eyes begging him to listen. Only, he hadn't. Guilty; until proven innocent. Full of self-righteousness, he had presumed the ex-criminal had succumbed to the temptation and stolen the money. Dirty cops, like father, like son…

Two months ago, Neal Caffrey had once again been cuffed and sent back to prison. Mozzie had called the same day. When the little man had started swearing and using vile language the agent had ended the call. James had called, too, but couldn't give any facts, just a bare pledge of Neal's innocence. Of course, his son must have been framed by some dirty agents. Like Father, like son… Peter hadn't been convinced.

Since then, he hadn't heard anything from Neal, or about him. Diana had contacted June to terminate the accommodation agreement. Peter had made it clear to his team - as well as to his wife - that he wasn't willing to talk about the ungrateful criminal at all.

El had voiced a concern that he might bebiased because he'd felt neglected by Neal's recent bonding with his father following their reunion. Which was ridiculous. Besides, he could do without kitchen sink psychology. His last remark had ended the conversation, and she had kept up a frosty silence.

Caffrey's former desk had been cleared long since. A new probie was using it now. Agent Burke had no idea where the assortment of spare ties had been stored. The fedora had hung for a couple of days at the cloak rack, but it was gone, too. There was nothing left at the office that was reminiscent of Neal Caffrey. As if he'd never been there.

Only occasionally, when Peter approached Diana and Jones, had they stopped talking at once. He has guessed they'd been speaking about the ex-consultant, but he couldn't have cared less.

At present, the blue eyes were haunting him. He walked over to his own office, closed the door, and sat down at his desk. He gazed into space.

Diana was alarmed and came to check on him. "Are you alright, boss?"


Now, she was seriously concerned. "How can I help?"

"You can't."

"Boss, I ..."

"Leave me alone. Please."

She left him reluctantly, wondering whether she should call El. But she decided against it.

Bits and pieces of bygone conversations flashed through Peter's mind as if a box of fireworks had exploded inside his head. The agent couldn't stop the voices spooking around and tormenting him.

(Neal) "You're the only one I trust."
(Ellen) "Protect our boy."
(Neal) "Contrary to popular opinion I can do honest."
(Mozzie) "Your hands are not clean in this!"
(Alex) "Neal said you are the best."
(Neal) "I have a life here."

At the FBI convention, "There has to be immense truth between you two... "
And finally, his own response, "Usually. But when there isn't, there's always faith... "

Peter made it to the restrooms just in time to throw up. Washing his face he avoided looking at the mirror above the sink. He wasn't able to look the man who was staring back at him in the eye.

How could he possibly fix this?