Chapter 1

Nate sat staring at the half empty glass of whiskey in front of him. He had lost it all again, but this time he would never get it back. No he thought his eyebrows knotting together, this time he had chosen this, chosen to let his family go, even it if was for their own good. It was better for them and for him, he could not do what he had to do, what he needed to do without leaving them behind. He was probably never coming back anyway, so this would be easier on them in the long run although he also knew it was going to kill them, him leaving the way he had.

Sophie sat quietly at the table in her and Nate's new house, the house they had built to start their new life in, their life as a married couple. She sat staring at her glass of wine which Eliot had just poured for her. The others sat around the table with her all of them stunned by the turn of events. It had all been going so well, they had taken down Moreau, they had ended Latimer and Dubenich, they had beaten Sterling again when they had procured the black box. Nate had gone down on one knee and proposed to her and she had said yes. They had been happy, he had been happy, happier than they had ever seen him so what had happened.

He had called them all together that morning and told them that he was leaving. That he was sorry, but he could not be with them anymore, could not marry Sophie, and that he was leaving and he would never be returning. He had not answered any of their questions he had just stood there and looked at them all, then he had left.

"The hell just happened?" Eliot asked as he took his seat at the table.

None of them answered him, none of them knew what to say. He looked at Sophie and saw she was in shock, she could not believe that after everything, after proposing, after spending the last six months planning the wedding he had simply walked away without explanation.

"Why…" Parker whispered. Why was he doing this, where was he going, what was he going to do. They had been together now for almost six years, they were a family, why was Nate doing this, she could not comprehend any of it.

"I don't understand…" Hardison said softly. None of them did and that was the truth, none of them understood what Nate was doing and why he was doing it.

"Are we just going to let him do this?" Parker added.

Sophie looked up at her and saw the hurt in her eyes and knew she saw the same thing reflected at her, they were all hurt, they were all shocked and they were all at a loss as to what to do about what Nate had just done.

"No we can't, and we won't…we won't right?" Hardison asked looking up at Sophie and then Eliot. They were the two who knew Nate the best, they were the two that would know what to do now and he looked to them for direction.

"He must have a reason." Parker said although for the life of her she could not figure out what that reason might be.

"What bloody reason?" Sophie hissed out her anger building inside her as she replayed everything in her head. What reason could Nate possibly have that would make this alright?

"I don't know." Eliot said quietly. "I don't know what is going on in the man's head, but something is. Parker is right, he would not do this without a good reason for it." He thought about what had played out just over two hours ago, he had not seen any emotion on Nate's face, he had not seen any fear, any anger, there was sadness in his eyes, but he had kept his emotions completely under control. Nate had just stood there and told them he was leaving without giving any reason why, even when Sophie had begged him to tell her why, when the tears had spilled from her eyes, he had not made a move towards her. When Parker and stood in front of him refusing to let him leave until he explained himself, he had simply told her it was done, decided and nothing was going to stop him, then he had moved her gently out the way and left.

"I don't care what his reason is." Sophie said loudly. "I don't care…you don't do this…you don't damn well ask somebody to marry you and…you don't do this." She said her voice sinking to a whisper on the last 'you don't do this' as she felt tears start to form again and a great pain in her chest formed at the thought of what Nate had just done, to her, to them.

They all looked at her, all of them felt her anger, felt her angst and her sorrow. Nate as hurting her more than them. Sophie had loved him for such a long time, had stuck by him, had waited for him and then finally he had made her the offer which she accepted, and now, now he had taken it all away again without explanation and they could see that was killing her inside.

"Ok well I am going to see where he went to." Hardison said deciding that if they were not going to try to find out what the man as up to he would do it on his own. Then he stood and moved off to sit in front of his computer without another word.

"Do you think this has something to do with an ex-mark or something, do you think he is trying to protect us from something?" Parker asked, that was the only explanation she could come up with for his behaviour, maybe he thought he was looking out for them by leaving them.

Sophie looked up sharply at her as did Eliot, they had both been thinking the same thing, they could see no other reason for Nate doing what he had just done.

"Hardison anything?" Sophie asked looking over at the Hacker, if Nate was doing this to protect them he was an idiot, but she had to know, she had to know why he had done it no matter what the reason.

"He hailed a cab when he left, dropped him off downtown, then he walked, I lost him here." He said as they all joined him. "He knew what he was doing, he did not want to be followed."

"We shouldn't have let him leave…" Parker said suddenly angry with herself for letting Nate walk out.

"No Parker, this is not our fault, this is all Nate." Eliot said not wanting them to blame themselves for this situation, this was all the Mastermind, he had walked out, and he had done it in such a way that he knew it would shock them almost into immobility, he had wanted that, he wanted a clean getaway.

"Eliot is right, this is all on Nate." Sophie said looking from one to the other. "If he want's this, then he does."


"No Parker, I do not chase after anybody least of all a damn stupid, arrogant, selfish, idiotic man." She said then turned and walked away and into her room closing the door loudly behind her.

They watched her go and then Parker turned back to Hardison her eyes wide and full of pain and sorrow.

"Find him." She said softly. "We need to find him."

"Yes if only to beat the living daylights out of him." Eliot said under his breath his eyes still on the closed door behind which Sophie had disappeared.