Nate

I've been thinking about this for a long time but have never really had the courage just to come out and talk to you about it. I still haven't, that's why I'm writing this. I'm really just starting to wonder if this relationship is ever going to go anywhere. I know you're going back to school and I'm busy working on my show but we seem to be caught in a rut. We're both too focused on our jobs to spend time together. But after all that's happened neither of us can just walk away.

Someday I'm going to want to settle down, have a family. I don't know if you're ready for that or if you're ever going to be ready for that. And that's what scares me. I don't want to watch my life go by and realize I never had a family. I nearly died once already and I really don't want to go down that road again anytime soon. With you danger is just sort of a given.

But even after all that something keeps me from walking away, from giving up. I guess, somewhere deep down I know no one will ever compare to you. I just don't know what I'm doing anymore. Am I crazy for thinking this could work, especially after last time? I just don't know. I guess I'll find out someday, if I ever get the courage to actually say this to you in person…

Elena

Nate sunk down into a chair his shaking hand clutching the note so tight it was wrinkling. He was losing her again for the same stupid reason. He couldn't believe this was happening, not again. Not to him, not to them. Hadn't they suffered enough losses already? The last time she almost had to die for them to get back together and he wasn't going to go through that again. Besides he'd been better this time, hadn't he? Stopped with his more reckless past times, worked towards actually finishing his degree? Sure, so his run-down Key West apartment wasn't the best place in the world but it worked from day to day.

He finally loosened his grip and the crumpled paper drifted to the floor landing face down. Looking down he pondered picking it up for a moment but then stood and walked quickly into his bedroom. He couldn't stand to look at those words, her words, again. Rubbing his hands across it face he looked up to find his reflection looking back. His eyes were accusing and bitter.

"What made you think you could do it this time, huh?" his reflection asked. "After you failed so miserably last time God knows."

Sitting down on the bed he ran his hands across his face and considered what to do next. Finally deciding he just needed to get out of the apartment he grabbed his jacket and his keys and headed for the door. Nate struck off down the street not really caring where he ended up. He'd only walked about two blocks when he found himself right in front of Sullivan's bar named jokingly, El Dorado. Many a time he'd thought of taking a permanent marker and scribbling 'goddamn' in between the El and the Dorado on the sign but never did. Last year after that particular incident and most of Sully's dept had mysteriously disappeared he had moved back to the States from Lima and bought the bar about two and a half blocks away from Nate's apartment. He claimed he came back because he had to be here keep Nate out of the trouble he seem to attracted like flies to honey but Nate figured Sully just missed him. They'd been on a lot of adventures together, heck; Sully was practically a father to him. Not exactly the best role model but still. But now Sully figured himself getting to old for the whole running and shooting business so he moved back up here to be closer.

Figuring he'd eventually end up here anyway Nate pushed open the door and cued the little bell to ring. It was up there courtesy of the previous owner and Sully hadn't bothered to take it down. The bar was full of regulars and a few new faces. It was too late and hour for any tourists in t-shirts to be lingering around thankfully. Nate didn't mind people but there was just something about tourists. The bar was decently lit but smoggy from the smokers in the room. Across the room he could see Sullivan behind the bar chatting up some blonde half his age and making her blush. Usually he would make some comment about Sullivan being a dirty old man but he just wasn't in the mood. Apparently he'd heard the door shut because Sully's head turned in Nate's direction.

"Didn't expect to be seeing you tonight kid," he called as Nate walked up and took a barstool. "One word about the cigar though and I'm tossing you out on your ass."

"Got it, Sully," Nate said failing at hiding is bad mood.

"You alright, kid?" Sully asked.

"Don't wanna talk about it," Nate answered curtly.

"Alright," Sully said warily pursing his lips. "Can I get you something?"

"Yeah. Don't care what it is as long as it's strong."

"Alright, one something strong coming right up," Sully said cheerily then looked back over his shoulder at Nate who hadn't even pretended to laugh.

Sully picked up several bottles and mixed them into a glass.

"Here ya go, kid," Sully said setting the concoction down in front of Nate. He looked down at it, picked it up, and took a swallow not saying anything. Sully looked on in shock. "Jesus, kid! Normally when I fix you something like that you gag and push it back."

Nate didn't say a word and just stared on at the wall passed Sully and took another drink. Something was really wrong with him.

"What's eating you, kid?" Sully asked again.

"I said I didn't want to talk about it," Nate said sharply.

"Okay, geez," Sully said backing off. "Somebody's in a helluva mood. Must be that damned reporter again."

That was the end of Sullivan's attempts at trying to talk to Nate. Normally Nate would have given Sully a thorough ribbing for calling Elena that but now he didn't even care. He didn't want to think about her or talk about her right now. Besides there were some things he just couldn't talk to Sully about. The old man just didn't understand especially when it came to, as Sully affectionately referred to her, the journalist. With a sigh Nate looked down at his drink, swirled it in his glass, and then downed the rest. It was going to be a long night, one he probably wouldn't remember.

The night had been pretty much business as usually for Sully. He filled another couple of drinks and handed them off to customers. The only unexpected thing had been the kid showing up. He usually didn't come down unless he had something to say or was having a few drinks with his girl but tonight he was in some mood. Not only that but Nate was usually straight up beer drinker but tonight he'd downed whatever concoction Sully'd thrown at him. Now he'd disappeared from his perch on the barstool all together. Sully's brow furrowed, where'd he gotten off to?

"Hey, Jay," he called down to the younger man working the tables. "Did you see Nate leave?"

"He didn't leave," Jay answered.

"Well, then where the hell'd he go?" Sully asked expectantly.

Jay answered by pointing to the booth in the corner behind the pool table and nearest the bathrooms. Through the smog Sully could just make out a figure slumped over in the booth.

"Oh, Jesus," he grumbled tossing his towel down on the bar.

Coming out from behind the bar Sully's walked over to the corner. Nate was passed out in the booth drooling on the leather cushion. Grabbing him by the shoulder Sully pulled him up right and began slapping him lightly on the cheek until he came to.

"Kid, kid wake up."

Nate groggily opened his eyes and a goofy grin appeared on his face.

"Hey, Sully. How ya doing?" he slurred.

"Oh, man. You are drunker than a German in October."

"Ptssh," Nate slurred even heavier waving him off. "I'm fine."

He picked up his glass and looked down disappointedly. He gestured it at Sully but Sully just shook his head and sat the glass back down.

"No, no more for you tonight kid. I'm taking you home."

"You don't need to," Nate said standing. Sully just managed to catch him before he fell on his face.

"Oh, like hell I don't," Sully said. "Hey, Jay, watch the place I gotta take Nate home. Be back to close up."

Sully swung Nate's arm over his shoulder and made for the door. After a difficult two block stagger and long climb up three flights of stairs they were finally at Nate's door.

"Gimme your keys," Sully said.

Nate managed to fumble his keys out of his jacket pocket but dropped them before Sully could get a hold of them. Sighing he leaned Nate against the door frame and stooped to retrieve them. He nimbly worked open the handle and the deadbolt then swung the door open.

"Alright kid, c'mon," he grunted as he took on most of Nate's weight. "Damn, kid, I'm getting to old for this."

"You're a good man, Sullivan," Nate managed to say.

"Yeah, yeah. I know."

Sully helped Nate into the apartment and sometime as they stumbled toward the bedroom Nate had enough good sense left to take off his jacket and let it fall into a heap on the floor. Sully helped Nate reach the bed where he proceeded to fall flat on his face and was out cold drooling on the comforter before Sully could even catch his breath. Nate's fully Conversed feet hung off the end of the bed. Pursing his lips Sully sighted and shook his head.

"You're going to be in a world of hurt in the morning kid," he muttered to himself.

Leaving the bedroom he shut the door behind him. He still didn't understand why Nate had willing drunk himself into a stupor. Nate was usually one to keep his head about him and wasn't much of a drinker except for the occasional beer every now and again. Something must have really gotten to him if he was acting like that. But as Sully turned to leave he stumbled right upon the answer to his questions. There was a soft crunch of paper under his shoe.

"What the..."

Ever since Elena had moved in Nate's apartment had remained fairly neat and tidy. His books and maps remained neatly tucked away on the multiple bookshelves that littered the apartment. All of his papers and research were now neatly filed away in his desk. Nate had always been the kind of person to leave everything just lying draped over every visible surface but Elena was a neat-freak so naturally the stray piece of paper on the floor was out of place. Bending Sully picked it up and smoothed out the wrinkles. The surface was covered in curvy feminine hand writing. Wrinkling his brow up he began to read.

"Well... now I'm all caught up," he stated tossing the note down on the counter.

Still in possession of Nate's keys Sully left the apartment and locked up behind him. Nate would be out for several hours and he had other things to see to and headed off for the stairs with every intention of coming back in the morning.