Fandom: White Collar
Characters: Neal (Gen, Angst, Ficlet)
Summary: Kate is gone, and there are no second chances left.
Author's Notes: Another entry for rosie_spleen's Bleeding Cuticles Roadkill Challenge.
Also for writers_choice, this is "inside".
Weeks have passed, maybe more, since the explosion. Neal should know how long (to the minute) but he just can't bring himself to care.
Kate is gone, and there are no second chances left. Maybe they never existed in the first place.
Caught up in the excitement of Peter's cases (still flexing the finesse he'd mastered, still sipping the thrill of chasing the perfect heist), Neal let the urgency fade. He could still pretend Kate had been taken, that she hadn't chosen money over the future they'd hoped to share. In the white marble disregard of the lifestyle June afforded him, he wore his retro suits and flashed the charm that opened doors and possibilities, never dwelling too long on Kate's choices and what they probably meant.
If she hadn't kept pulling him back in, he might've been able to finally let her go. That was what he told himself near the end, until Fowler came to him with the ultimate deal—the music box for Kate. Then the excuses faded, faster than funeral flowers worn bleak in the light of the sun.
Soon Neal was chasing the hope of Kate all over again, right until that fiery runway blast killed his dreams and answers with her.
All that was left then was Peter—safe and solid—and more questions than before. Neal noticed only the heartache, and he didn't even try to keep it at bay. It consumed him, crowding out the committees and interrogations, stealing the sound from the world as he went from holding cell to transport bus to prison all over again.
He hardly notices his surroundings any more, immune to the arguments, the odors, the gray reality of the days between Peter's visits.
Weeks have passed, even months, but it doesn't matter. Time is the enemy for a man who has nothing left but the ability to remember all the things he has lost.
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