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Silent forgiveness

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Neal Caffrey enters the States on a bright Wednesday afternoon. Of course he doesn´t enter the country under his own name. But Gregory Wood, an art student who is enrolled at the Sorbonne and back for a family visit enters without any problem. Neal is dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, his hair is longer than his picture, but fits the picture of a poor art student, saving on his haircuts to buy pencils.

They don´t even ask to open his luggage. And in the rolls of paintings he brought with him, is a priceless Raphael. Well, more accurate, It is Vincent Adler´s Raphael. Kate mentioned when they met that it was her favorite painting, so Neal couldn´t resist the temptation to steel it for her. Maybe this way he would forgive him for leaving for Copenhagen.

Copenhagen was a bust. He barely got away and had to leave an injured Alex, he made sure she got medical aid, but still, he feels guilty and is sure she is not going to forgive him for any time soon.

He quickly takes the train towards Central Station and then the subway to their apartment. He is disappointed that nobody is there. After some looking around, it is clear that there hasn´t been anybody for some time.

Kate left him.

She had warned him not to do the Copenhagen job, but he owed it to Alex, and he really had thought that Kate would wait for him, but he miscalculated how stubborn Kate could be.

Maybe he can lure her back with the painting, so he calls Mozzie to come over. Mozzie will know a way to get in touch with her.

He opens a bottle of wine and the bag with take out that he picked up while he walked to the apartment. It has been several long weeks that he had some greasy take out, since Alex only wants healthy foods so he is actually looking forward to it.

While he is eating, a rhythmic knock on the door announces Mozzie. Neal opens the door and pulls Mozzie in a bear hug.

‘How are you kid?’

‘OK, I guess.’

‘Rumour has it, you barely made it out in one piece.’

‘Yeah about that, I made sure Alex got medical care, but can you make sure she is OK?’

‘Will do, mon frère. So how are you?’

‘Good. But do you know where Kate went? It looks like she left the apartment some time ago.’

‘Yeah, well, she wasn´t too happy when you went to Copenhagen.’

‘Can you get in touch with her?’

‘Do you really want me to?’

Neal sighs. ‘Yeah, of course. Look, I know you don’t approve of her, Mozz, but I love her. I…’

‘Never mind, I will do my best. But where are your manners? Are you going to offer me some wine or not?’

‘Sorry, I...’

Neal pours Mozzie a glass and they talk about their latest jobs. Eventually they come to Neal´s request.

‘I’m sorry Neal, but that painting is just too hot to handle. Adler is furious and he won´t take this laying down. I would not bring it out, not even to lure Kate out. Is there someone who can sit on it for you?’

Neal thinks. There is someone, but he hasn´t spoken to her in some time and he is still not sure if he is ready.

‘What´s wrong?’

‘Nothing, yeah, I may have someone.’

‘OK, if you need help with something let me know, OK?’

‘I will. I guess I won´t need your help. I will let you know.’

‘So… now that you are back… I have a job lined up. An lucrative one.’

Neal´s eyes twinkle and a smile appears.

‘Listening.’

 

* *  *

 

‘Mozz, did I ever tell you about Danny?”

Mozzie studies Neal.

‘Well, I always suspected Neal wasn´t your real name.’

Neal snorts dismissively.

‘Well, it is actually my real name. I grew up in Witness Protection.’

Mozzie just stares at Neal.

‘My dad is a corrupt cop killer and we needed to hide from him.’

‘So when I met you in the city…’

‘I ran away from home.’

Neal nods thinking. It all makes sense.

‘So, why are you telling me this?’

‘I need to contact someone, but I have no idea where they are.’

‘Your mum?’

‘No, my plus mum. Ellen Parker. She was my dad´s partner and arrested him. She was born Kathryn Hill. Would there be a possibility to find her?’

‘I don´t know, bro, but I will give it my best shot.’

‘Thanks. You are a true friend.’

 

* *  *

 

He had been furious when Ellen had told him the truth about his dad. His mum and Ellen had lied about his dad all these years, telling him he was a hero. He was a common murderer. The anger ate at him and he couldn´t stand to be called Danny anymore. It was all a lie. He was Neal. Yeah, Neal Caffery. He liked the Irish sound of it and his mum was as much a victim in this as he was.

But Ellen. Ellen was the one who got his dad arrested, she was the one that kept feeding him all these lies over the years and just before his graduation, she popped ‘the truth’ onto him.

He had felt so betrayed, he needed to get away. He needed distance. So he bought a bus ticket, and instead of going to school that day, he left on a greyhound bound for New York.

‘Neal? Neal!’

Neal is pulled from his memories by Mozzie.

‘I am sorry, you got something?’

Mozzie hands him a piece of paper.

‘Thank you Mozzie, I owe you one.’

‘Just take care Neal, I don´t want you to get hurt because of Kate.’

‘I won´t, I promise,’ Neal puts the paper in his pocket, ‘how far are we on the Barikos job?’

‘Oh, here let me show you. I obtained a map of the air ducts.’

Neal walks towards the table where Mozzie puts down the drawings and they discuss their getaway.

 

* *  *

 

Neal has passed the apartment building for the sixth time, always careful for the agents that sit outside. He mans up. He can do this. He is ready to forgive. Ellen didn´t say the things she said to hurt him, yes, she could have found a better moment to tell him, but she never intended to drive him away, that was all his choice. Funny how growing up, has a way of turning things into perspective.

He turns around and walks up to the front door. He notices the agents checking him out, but he made sure they won´t be able to identify him and he calls on a completely different doorbell. He has his story ready and the occupant buzzes him in. He quickly makes his way to the apartment mentioned on the piece of paper Mozzie gave him weeks ago. He rings the doorbell and waits.

He can see some light distortion through the spy glass so Ellen is home. He then can hear the different locks disengage and the door opens.

In front of him stands Ellen…

She still looks the same as he remembers.

‘Danny.’ She whispers.

‘Ellen.’

‘Come in, come in.’

The moment she closes the door behind him, she takes him a tight embrace and he lets her. It feels so familiar, so comforting, so good.

‘Oh my god, Danny, how are you.?’

‘I use the name Neal again.’

‘Sorry, of course, Neal.’

‘Hi Ellen, I …’

‘Yes?’

‘I want to stay mad at you for telling me the truth, but I can´t. I know intellectually that you never mend to hurt me. But I was so mad.’

‘Da.. Neal. We have been so worried, we thought something had happened and the Marshalls didn´t want to disclose any information.’

Neal nods, he had suspected as much. Once you leave Witsec, you are on your own.

‘That is in the past. How are you?’

‘I am fine, doing well actually.’

‘Do you have a girlfriend?’

‘I do, that is why I am here, I need a favor. I painted her a painting but I don´t want her to see just yet. Can you keep it for me?’

Ellen looks skeptically at him, but Neal does his best to look relaxed and at ease.

‘Of course, I can, whatever you need. Do you want some coffee? I have some banana bread you always liked.’

Neal smiles at the memory.

‘I would like a piece.’

They talk about what has happened since they last saw each other, Neal tells her he is head acquisitions at a big investment company and tells her about Kate.

Ellen is proud of her boy, he turned out OK after all. Neal tells her he needs to leave since he doesn´t want the Marshalls on his tail and they say their goodbyes.

While he walks away, Neal knows he did the right thing in forgiving Ellen.