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Lost Trinkets

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The only time Sully asks about the watch is two days after they've met. Sully, having rather spectacularly lost his meal ticket, has been trying to find new work, something quick and low-key and with decent enough pay to get them out of town. They're both still wary around each other, and Nate's standing with one foot out the metaphorical door.

“Usted no puede pagar más que eso?” Sully asks, Spanish slow and overly formal, signs of someone who learned it late in life. Nate's got the advantage of growing up with it; he speaks Spanish just as well as English, and French almost as well the first two. Sully knows about the Spanish-- stupid mistake, to let him hear it, but he was surprised-- but Nate's playing dumb right now, leaning against the doorframe and staring at the ceiling, doing a credible impression of a bored teenager.

“No. Busca tú la manera de alimentar al mocoso.”

Sully sneers. “Asshole,” he mutters and turns away. “C'mon, kid.”

Nate trots after him and back onto the street. “Now what?” he asks, bratty and sullen because he's always believed in playing to his strengths.

“Don't start,” Sully says. “I've still got a few people who owe me favors.”

“And if they won't help?”

“Then we hock a few things, hotwire a car, and get the hell outta Dodge,” Sully replies. He gestures at Nate's belt. “You overly attached to that watch?”

Nate closes a hand around it. “Yeah. It's mine.” He hasn't sold it yet, and he'll be damned if he sells it now. He can take care of himself. If the old man starts trying to sell his shit--

“Suit yourself.” Sully shrugs and squints at the sky. “One more visit, then we'll grab dinner.”

“Whatever.” If nothing else, he's been eating better since meeting Sully. That's something.

They managed to find a job, an easy home robbery, and get out of Cartagena. And Sully doesn't ask about the watch again. That's fine with Nate. He'd feel stupid explaining it; Sully doesn't hold much with sentiment, and that's really all the watch is. It's a trophy, a souvenir, a relic of his first successful theft.

He'd been just barely past his ninth birthday, avoiding morning prayers, and in a fit of ill-advised bravado he snuck into the vestibule. The older boys said that sometimes the priests left their wallets behind and you could lift the cash while they were leading the others in prayer. Nate had been certain that if they could steal something, so could he, so he crept in. No wallets in sight, but there was a watch, silver and expensive-looking, and he'd snagged it almost before he could think.

Some businesses keep the first dollar they made. Nate keeps his first theft.

Years pass. Sully teaches him everything he knows, rescues him from jail and kidnappers and pirates, buys him new boots every six months. Nate stops thinking about his life in terms of when he'll leave and head off on his own. Sully's a part of his life now, or he's a part of Sully's, or both. He can't really imagine life without Victor Sullivan at his back.

It's in large part because of moments like this: Nate's flat on his back on the stone floor of an ancient temple, the wind knocked out of him, head pounding from the sudden impact. He's a little fuzzy on what's going on, what with the blow to the head; the vague thought that nineteen is entirely too young to die drifts through his mind. Things snap back into focus when the mercenary leader snarls something in Arabic-- Nate makes a mental note to brush up on the language when they get out of this-- and raises the ax to remove some vital part of Nate's anatomy.

The ax never falls, because Sully tackles the man out of the way. Nate manages to grab his pistol and climbs to his knees, vision still swimming, and he blinks hard as he tries to aim. Sully and the mercenary are struggling, fighting for control of the ax blade, and they're moving too fast for Nate to get a clear shot. “Shit,” he mutters. “C'mon, Sully, get clear--”

Sully, not being possessed of superhuman hearing, doesn't obey the order. Instead, he tries to kick the mercenary in the balls; the blow misses, the blade slips, and there's a splash of red along Sully's forearm. “Sully!” Nate shouts and for one moment, everything comes into crystal-clear focus. He twitches the gun to the left ever so slightly and pulls the trigger. The bullet goes through the mercenary's throat.

“Ah, shit,” Sully mutters and wraps a hand around his arm in a futile attempt to staunch the flow of blood. It's a long cut, from wrist to elbow, and there's a lot of blood.

“I told you to move,” Nate says, because if he and Sully can still crack jokes then it'll be all right, and peels off his shirt. “If you'd just listened--”

“You oughta speak up, kid,” Sully mutters. “How many times have I told you the importance of clear communication--”

“Never,” Nate says. He wraps his shirt around Sully's arm, using one of the sleeves as a makeshift tourniquet. “You have never used the phrase 'clear communication' in your life, Sully.”

Sully snorts. “I'm thinking I might add it to the vocabulary.” He glances at the ground and sighs. “Bastard broke my watch.”

“Nice priorities,” Nate comments. “C'mon. I think they had a sewing kit at the hotel, I can play surgeon--”

“The hell you can. Find me a goddamn doctor. You're not coming near me with a needle.”

Nate laughs, because Sully's gonna be fine, and they head for the exit.

Three days later, they're loading up the Jeep in the middle of the night, skipping out on their hotel fees because sometimes they're terrible people, and Nate pulls the watch out of his pocket. He hasn't worn it for years, but he's held onto it, kept it working. Sentiment. “Here,” he says and tosses it to Sully.

Sully catches it in his good hand and frowns at it. “The hell's this?”

“It's a watch, Sully. You put it on your arm, it tells you the time--”

Sully switches the watch to his other hand, then reaches out and flicks Nate in the forehead. “Don't get smart with me, kid.”

Nate scowls. “You know, someday that's not gonna work.”

“Yeah, right.” Sully waves the watch at him. “What's this for?”

Nate rolls his eyes and climbs into the passenger seat. “You lost the old one. I found you a new one. Just take the damn thing and let's go before security shows up.”

Sully doesn't move, though, just studies the watch. And Sully remembers details almost as well as Nate; he'll recognize the watch. “Where'd you get it?” he finally asks, slipping it onto his wrist.

Nate shrugs and hooks an arm over the back of his seat. “Stole it,” he replies with a grin. “Where else?”

“Heh. 'Course you did.” Sully shakes his head and settles into the driver's seat. “You're a piece of work, kid.”

“Why else would you keep me around?”

Sully starts the car. “Why else, indeed?”

Nate stretches his legs out in front of him and leans his head back, grinning up at the starry sky, as Sully drives them out onto the open road.