lonetread: (b&w_neal)
[personal profile] lonetread
A/N: Doubledrabble, first posted at week 70 of [livejournal.com profile] writing_game. Background established N/P/E. Title from the poem "Some Days" by Billy Collins. Inspired in large part by this interview with WC's ex-con-artist technical advisor Simon Lovell, as well as by the prompts: "stand-offish, professorial in the worst sense of the word" and "striding around like a vivid god, your shoulders in the clouds". Written 8/22-23/10.

put the people in their places

It’s the first thing you learn: You can’t care about anyone as a con man. Caring makes it impossible to con them.

For years, that was easy. He simply didn’t trust anyone, and from there it was a small step to not caring about them, not caring what effect his actions might have on them. And being aloof let him go unnoticed, made him invisible. Made him good.

It was always when he cared that he slipped up, made mistakes, got caught.

He cares too much, now, he thinks.

One night at the Burkes’, drinking and watching a movie, he tells them so, when Elizabeth asks him what’s wrong.

They both look at him silently for a moment, after that, and he takes a drink instead of looking back, so they can’t see anything real that might be in his eyes (he doesn’t know what he can hide from them anymore).

“Maybe you’re a worse con man,” Peter finally says. “But you’re a better person.”

Neal smiles, genuinely for once, because isn’t that what matters?

He won’t be a con man forever, but maybe one day, whatever it is they see in him, he’ll be able to find in himself.
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