Neal Caffrey had not grown up in the lap of luxury. He had been lucky at times to have the bare essentials for a child to grow up happy and healthy and most of that was due not to his mother but to his "Aunt" Ellen. Despite their lack of wealth, he found ways to get things done even as a kid and learned how to get around the obvious obstacles most people would allow to push them back. At times his youthful antics may have been looked up as criminal but despite this Neal had learned to be honest and had his sights on being a police officer like his tragically departed father. It wasn't until Ellen told him the truth that his world turned upside down for the worse and he ran away from home. The young man had just turned 18 and his ideal life had changed as had his perspective. Neal did what he wanted, never thinking of the consequences beyond "can I do this?" He wanted to push the boundaries of what was commonplace and in the process get what he never had in his youth. The rush from breaking something that couldn't be broken or forging something that couldn't be forged was what made him go further and further into the gray. It wasn't until he met Federal Agent Peter Burke that his perspective changed. The agent showed him that someone could be honest and forthright without breaking the law to do it. After a time he thought despite everything that had happened, even the loss of his love could be solved by his friendship with the agent. Now… things had changed once again to shake his world and it was all he could do to hide his emotions.

"He brought a new anklet?"

Mozzie's voice brought him back to the present, their current conversation returning to him as he fumed slightly at the thought of Peter's visit the day before. The agent had showed up out of the blue and Neal knowing that maybe his friend had figured things out had his easel set up where Mozzie had posted his false anklet reading. It was something he had figured would make sense and keep his friend from figuring out what had happened. Somehow Peter had figured him out or maybe it was just that gut of his. It was always right. Neal frowned, turning towards the other con and nodding his head.

"Yeah… I don't know if he knew but you know Peter. No worries though. The new and old anklet looked enough alike that I was able to swap them. I don't think he knows and honestly, I don't care."

His voice was hard now, anger that he'd held in coming out in his tone. Mozzie stiffened slightly, sipping at his wine as he looked up at him from the sofa. When nothing had been said for a few minutes, Mozzie coughed and broke the silence.

"So… did he tell you anything else? Does he suspect us of the heist?"

The little guy was poking around for anything that could come back to them but Neal shook his head, pacing the room some before he poured himself a glass of the same wine and plopped down across from Mozzie. Maybe he'd finish the bottle tonight. He was in that kind of a mood.

"I don't know but he did say he had to let me go as a partner. I'm getting a new handler."

His voice was flat, almost emotionless except for a hint of animosity. Neal didn't know what to think of Peter's visit other than he had just sold his soul to the devil (Hagan) for nothing. What use was his deal if it only brought him heartache? A part of him was closing off, the darkness Mozzie had once spoken of threatening to overtake him but he had to control it. He was still working as a consultant and Hagan had that video so there was little he could do but continue on with both masters. Peter was letting him go so his new boss probably would be a much more demanding person. There'd be little room for him to get away or hide things but he had managed before. He could slip out with the device Mozzie made and Peter didn't know he hadn't put on the new anklet. It all worked out and once he had gotten the video from Hagan and destroyed it, he could permanently slip away with nobody the wiser. No note this time or call. Neal would simply ghost with Mozzie and go where there were no picket fences…

"A new handler? So not Junior or Lady Suit? This sounds like a bad deal. I say we take that trip to Jersey…"

Mozzie was only half joking but Neal nodded, something about getting away making him want to spite the agent. For now though he had to play nice while Hagan had the video hanging over him. They'd figure a way to destroy that evidence and get away. Neal was certain about that. He was a criminal, wasn't he? That's what Peter had said and it was about time he acted the part.

"Why just go to Jersey when we can do Paris. I think Taylor had a job open for you and me."

Neal voiced the opinion without much thought, his tone calmer now but with just enough hint of danger that Mozzie blinked back at him. It was time he acted the part he was meant to play. His father was a crook and so was he. Nurture was a joke and it had taken Peter to prove that point. No more being a lapdog. Neal Caffrey con man was back.


Mozzie was at a loss for words for once and it made Neal smile for reasons other than happiness. This was a new day for him. No more trying to fit into a world he didn't belong with people who would just let him down. Whatever naivety he had before about going straight was gone with Peter's comments.

"Yes. Do you have any ideas how to get that video from Hagan? If we could destroy that evidence there'd be nothing holding us back, Mozz. Work on that… I need to start planning for the new boss."


Author's Note: Just a little something I came up with considering what happened in the S5 premiere. I guess I'm feeling a bit of a bad taste in my mouth over how it was ended but hoping for something to change my mind.