Vin has a pocket watch.
It was pressed into his hands at the age of five by a terrified woman with large brown eyes. She smoothed down his hair and patted his shoulder with a shaking hand and then sent him off. He never saw her again.
When he thinks of it now an unaccountable loss grips him tight and makes it difficult to breathe. He grips the watch tight in his hand and imagines for a moment that he is staring up at an orange sky.
He dreams of silver trees and domed cities and of running in red fields. He dreams of easy knowledge and of thoughts connecting with lightening speed. The lack of it all leaves an ache that's only slightly less than the screaming void in the back of his mind.
The only time it quiets, even a little, is when he's aiming a gun. It's the only time he really focuses. Everything just sort of falls together – the weapon, angle, weather – it all slots together in what should be a complex equation. Instead it's simple, it's reflex and instinct.
Vin turns the watch over in his hands and knows, knows with certainty like he knows time is nonlinear and space is not infinite, that if he opens it everything will change. There was a time when he might have wanted that, but nothing's the same now.
"Vin," Chris says as he comes to stand in the doorway. "You coming downstairs?"
"Yeah," Vin replies and he places the closed – but not broken, of that he's sure – watch on the dresser. He steps up to Chris, who's openly curious at Vin's intense expression, and presses his lips to Chris's in a simple promise that he's here, he's staying, and nothing is wrong. Chris wraps an arm around his waist and pulls him closer.
There's more than time enough to deal with the watch later.