Gen, canon pairings (Neal/Sara, Elizabeth/Peter)Rating:
There are moments when a person's true nature, character or intentions shine through, darkly or brightly. An observer or someone self-aware will be able to see these moments in others or in themselves. Here are four moments from Season Four where Neal saw something true that had been hidden below the surface in those around him or in himself. Content:
Friendship, daddy issues, episode/season arc reaction, implied past child abuse/domestic violence (off-screen, non-graphic).A/N:
When I got my trope_bingo
card I looked at the AU: apocalypse square with a bit of a side-eye, since End of Days fics tend to be brutal and grim and not the kind of thing I can read or write a lot of the time. But then I looked up the actual definition of apocalypse, and found out that the original meaning in ancient Greek was about discovery and finding something hidden, and after finishing up watching Season Four finally, I had some ideas about what I wanted to write. So, rather than a subversion of the End of Days trope, this is a subversion of the actual meaning of the word apocalypse back to the original, and it's not an AU of White Collar canon at all, at least, not until Season Five starts to air and josses it. Word definition thanks to Wikipedia, because that's good enough for me.An apocalypse (Ancient Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apocálypsis, from ἀπό and καλύπτω meaning 'un-covering'), translated literally from Greek, is a disclosure of knowledge, i.e., a lifting of the veil or revelation, although this sense did not enter English until the 14th century. In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden.
Neal's angry, and he's hurt, and if they hadn't been friends for so long and through all kinds of trouble, he'd think about walking away. But he can't, because he's not a fool, and he's learned when to listen. I don't trust him
, Mozzie says, and though Mozzie is paranoid and obsessed with conspiracies and cover-ups and secret symbolism in every strange coincidence, his instincts are good, and that's why he's never been caught.
Mozzie's first impulse is never, ever to go to the law. He's come out in hives before, just thinking too hard about narcing. He's got a thief's honesty and an opportunist's sense of ethics, and he drinks too much of Neal's wine and never, ever restocks it. But he went to Peter because he was worried about Neal and suspicious of Sam, and Neal's not so far turned around that he can't admit privately that maybe he's too tangled up in this to see which way is up. Mozzie's gone against his ingrained, hard-wired nature because he's trying to keep Neal safe, because he's trying to be a good friend, and Neal can't help but value that.
So when Sam turns up, they talk, but the tape stays unmentioned, and unwatched.
Neal's seen the sharp edges in Elizabeth's character before, seen her stubbornness, her determination and her fierceness. He doesn't think he's ever seen her so angry or so scared.Lie to him
, she says, and the most terrible thing isn't that she doesn't comprehend what she's asking him – it's that she does
Neal has charmed his way into the Burkes' home, their daily lives, their social calender and their affections, and in one, devastating moment, Elizabeth has made it clear that it's conditional. That regardless of Peter's boundless capacity for forgiveness, where she is concerned, nothing is free.If you care about him
, she says, and he does, so he swallows down how wrong it feels, looks Peter in the eyes, and lies and lies.
It's all for show, all a set up, from the setting on the top of the Empire State Building to the ring in his pocket, all as true as fool's gold and snake oil.
And yet, and yet
, once he's down on his knee and the crowd has gathered, he opens his mouth and nothing but true things spill out, falling from his lips and piling at his feet like a mountain of damning evidence.
He can see it dawning in Sara's eyes, the realisation that though it's a lie, it's the truest he's ever spoken to her face, and the realest Neal Caffrey has ever been. She's shattering just a little bit in the knowledge, and he'd dial it back, but he's breaking too, and he just can't stop talking, even if the situation itself is a sham.
He slides the ring on her finger, kisses her, and holds tight to her as if it's going to stop the tremble in his hands and the raw, vulnerable open mess he's made of his heart. If he was in any state to be detached, he might take comfort from the fact that she's shaking, too.
Neal will hold her close and perform his part of this elaborate con, and then she'll give back June's ring and walk away, onto a plane and across the sea where he can't follow. He'll smile and he'll wave and he'll let her go, because he doesn't cage the things he loves, but he knows that in the future, when he's off guard and lonely, he'll think of this second, right now, where they're naming their fictional children, and think of it with something like longing and wonder, what if
and if only
and maybe, maybe
The first time he calls James Dad
, it's in anger.
He's begging shamelessly for Peter's life, just desperate for James to listen
, not demanding anything he thinks is unreasonable or unjust. He rationalises that his father, however far he strayed, was once a man who valued the law.
But James spits don't make me do something I'll regret
, and it's all Neal can do not to flinch away from the cold steel in those eyes, the promise of violence in those words. He's got no memories of his life before WitSec, no context for the immediate, instinctive, primal urge to make himself small.He wasn't the man that I thought he was
, Ellen had said on his balcony both what seems like a minute and forever ago.
As James walks out the door, eyes harder than he's sure his have ever been, even in the deepest con, Neal thinks that maybe he understands how his mother become a shadow of a person. He had wondered in the past if it was grief, or shame, or disenfranchisement that led her to walk through life without engaging in it. The thought that creeps up on him now is something darker, something that makes him taste bile and clench his fists. It's an insidious tale of bruises on slim wrists from hands that grip too tightly. Of house rules that must be adhered to, of dinner never quite served on time or with enough salt, of being quiet, so quiet
, when the house is full and the workday has ended.
Peter has held a gun on him, has handcuffed him, has sent him to prison for four years in maximum security, has him on a leash that chafes sometimes but never chokes him, and Neal has never felt afraid of him, not in the gut-deep way he fears the man that is walking down June's staircase, leaving nothing but rubble and ruin in his wake.
Neal is always a person that thinks ahead, and even if he doesn't have a plan he has an instinct for how to act, for how to escape, for how to save the con that he's constructed. He's never felt so empty and so impotent as he does at this moment, not even in prison. He barely registers it when the cavalry arrives, when Calloway orders Diana to cuff him, when the Harvard crew box up the (tainted, incomplete) evidence laid out so neatly on his dining room table. Ellen gave her life for that evidence, Reese gave his career for it, and Peter, (God, Peter
) is facing the end of the world as he knows it, and it's not worth the paper it's printed on because the chain of custody has been so horrifically, irrevocably broken.He's gone
, he says, numbly, when they ask after James, but that's not true, really. The man he naively thought James was was never really there at all.
Tags: fan fiction, g, gen, neal&el, neal&james, neal&mozzie, neal/sara, pathos, peter&neal, peter/el, trope-bingo, white collar