Oh god. M'kay. So this was the first fic I ever wrote, and reading it back now made me cringe so damn much. So I'm editing the crap out of it. Enjoy!

"Neal!"

Neal slowly turned round, concealing the dread that began to fill him. He plastered on his award-winning con-man smile, and fully faced the person who was calling him.

Peter stood in front of Neal, his hands on his hips so his badge was on full view. The agents and Neal had just finished up in the conference room, and everyone else had already gone home.
"Yes?" Neal asked, frowning slightly.
Peter shifted uncomfortably, and a silence fell.
"Good work today." He finally said, breaking the awkward tension that had settled between them.
Neal nodded, turning to leave, but was stopped by a voice once again.
"Look Neal. Hughes been all over the department. Breathing down my neck and reviewing us all. And to be honest.. Well, he's not happy with you right now. Lazy, to quote his words. He says you aren't putting in a lot of effort in closing these files, and to be honest Neal... I don't disagree."
A strange look flashed across Neal's face at his words, gone in a second, but not unnoticed by Peter. He squirmed uncomfortably.
"I..I understand Peter," Neal replied, frowning slightly again. "I mean, it's not like I'm going to be all cut up by one guy's criticism." he laughed. Peter nodded.
"Goodnight Neal."
"Goodnight Peter."
Neal walked away, leaving Peter staring after him with a nagging worry in the corner of his mind. He shrugged it off, and walked away. El would be waiting for him.


Back at June's, after discussing Mozzie's plans with Mozzie, to make Mozzie go away, Neal grabbed a bottle of red wine from the counter and let his smile fade away. He slumped down onto the shiny wooden floor, sighed deeply, popped the bottle and took a long swig from it. The wine helped to fog up his mind, which was running through the events of the last few months at top speed.
Kate's death, the mysterious phone call, and Peter's criticism.
Kate's death, the mysterious phone call, and Peter's criticism.

He didn't really care that the words had originated from Hughes; the man was senile, way past his prime. But the fact that Peter agreed.. it stung, it really did.

You rationalise it like you've been working your ass off these past few months, but you haven't, have you? All caught up in your little word of self-obsession. You're hated for it.

Neal frowned at the thoughts. His self-loathing was usually the result of another bottle of wine and a trigger, but today, it was flowing too easily.

No wonder Kate died. I bet she was glad to get away from you, your incessant whining. I bet she laughed at the thought of you getting caught and locked up like the animal you are. Her, Mozzie and Alex, you're just a joke to them. And Peter. Especially to Peter. Seeing you on a leash like a dog, being able to track you wherever you go, I bet him and Elizabeth laugh at you.

Neal's forehead wrinkled. He willed the thoughts to go away, taking another swig of wine, and then another. But that just helped.

She never loved you. She was just using you. That's all you're worth, a joke over a bottle of wine. You've been around 30 years, and you have nothing to show for it. Nobody loves you, no wife, no kids, no job, no education, nothing but a fake history to cover up the weak pathetic excuse for a man that you really are. The only good thing you'll ever do is the day you drop down dead, because if anyone even notices, they'll be glad, and remember the day you did the world a favour and left it, you good for nothing…

"SHUT UP!" Neal screamed.
The glass bottle slipped out of his sweaty grasp and fell, unscathed, to the floor.

You can't even break a glass bottle.

Neal yelled out in frustration, and punched the bottle as hard as he possibly could.

Glass crunched beneath his fist, blood mixing with the burgundy wine and green bottle shards. And all of a sudden, the voice stopped. Disappeared.

Neal froze, his hand held in front of him.
When a drop of blood splattered onto the wooden floor, Neal snapped out of his stupor, pulling his arm towards him in order to assess the damage.
No glass remained in the lacerations adorning his pale skin, and for that Neal was relieved. Pulling out the glass from each wound would require intense focus and concentration, and right now all he wanted to do was collapse into the safe haven on his covers.
Standing up, Neal staggered into the bathroom, triggering the icy jet to spurt out of the fitting, and held his hand under the flow until the stinging stopped.

Once the water ran clean, he turned the tap off again and dragged himself to bed, his mind racing with questions.