Chapter seven is up! Hecks yeah! Ugh…I really don't wanna start school. Enough of my bitchin, to the story!

Snow. It's a very beautiful thing if you think about it; Its pure white color and its miraculous way of sparkling in the sunlight awed those who got to see it. Nate however, was one of those people that despised it. To him it was blinding in the sunlight, its burning coldness drove him nuts. He just was one of those people who hated. That was why he was clinging onto Sully for dear life as his mentor piggy-backed him all through the streets- many other pedestrians' trekking across the icy sidewalks in heavy coats. The two were fairly aware of all the 'in your face' advertisements for Christmas even though it just hit the fifth. Nate's winter wear was covered with melted crystals of snow, his little nose was cold and reddening, and his arms were getting tired from slinking them around Sully's shoulders. Yet he couldn't feel irritated. Something about the winter months was very blissful for him. He hated snow but everything else made him feel kind of fluttery in the chest.

He never understood it, but he never questioned it either. He felt Sully hoist him up a little to keep him from slipping off his back. Nate let a faint smile cross his face when they passed a store brilliantly decorated with a tiny tree and an animatronic Santa moving in the window, a bunch of savings signs covering the other window. It was like that for nearly every store-even the liquor store and gun shop. Nate honestly hated the hard and cold ways of the city; the lack of care people showed one another putting it to shame compared to the slightly more tranquil ways of Columbia. During preparations for Christmas though, the entire place changed. People wore smiles and eyes seemed brighter, jolly music played through public stereos, things just seemed nicer in the time of a holiday that brought families together. Nate had horribly vague memories of Christmas before he was sent to the boys' home. Holidays there were just depressing; nothing really changed except for younger nuns being sweeter and giving all the kids a candy cane before the elders came back from shopping.

It was all a blur to him. He very nearly forgot Christmas existed during his time on the streets, then Sully came along. Sully had kind of pushed holidays back into his life. Now Sully never attempted to put Santa into Nate's mind nor did he pull any big fancy ideas for holidays. He did his own simple way-he was very straight forward about gift giving. He wouldn't say anything about presents or even ask what Nate wanted. He just usually bought a sketch book, a new pencil set or a new book. He wrapped it and set it on his nightstand for him to discover all on his own. Nate wasn't much of a game player when it game to gifts either. He too didn't ask what his mentor wanted and just bought something within his budget. Christmas was just…something to change their cycle, really.

"You hungry kid?" Sully spoke up after several minutes of walking. Nate turned his head on Sullys back and contemplated whether he was or not. Secretly, he only hesitated because he was quite comfortable against his mentor's back. He stomach gave a growl in objection to the hesitation.

"Yeah, kinda." He muttered and twitched when a snowflake delicately landed on the very tip of his nose, forcing him to cross his eyes to watch the ice crystal melt into a drop of water. He was surely going to have a cold after this. At least he had the right sense to put on a hat. He lifted his head off Sullys' back when a sudden change in temperature combined with the jingle of a rather tacky door chime indicated that Sully had found a place for lunch. Nate let him lift him off his back onto his small booted feet, the smell of hardy seasonings and cooking meat making his stomach growl even more. Nate slipped his nearly frozen hand into Sully's somehow warmer one, unconsciously moving closer into his mentors' side. His childish side was slowly winning his battle of pride more often than usual, his neediness for Sully's company becoming almost stifling. Translation? Clingy. Sully didn't seem to mind though-which worried Nate even more so than him giving in. The man never complained about his growing need for attention, in fact it sometimes seemed like Sully was expecting the bursts of affection from him.

He faintly remembered a few days ago; Sully had been reading the newspaper like he did every now and then, completely unaware Nate had come out of his room-And for some reason that had bothered him intensely. So intensely he had snuck over to his mentor and crawled right into his lap without a single pause or word. They had just looked at each other for a moment before Sully went right back to reading the newspaper. No jabs or scolds or anything- leaving Nate stunned of what he had just done. Nate always tried to claim that it was the senior fortune hunters' warmth drawing him to sit in his lap or hold his hand, but he had a feeling Sully could see right through it.

The place Sully had chosen for their meal was a small business burger shop that held the regular rushed workers and a heavy scent of criminally greasy fried food. The man at the front counter was rather pudgy, but had a grin that made his customers turn with their own small smile as they left. He grinned at Sully and Nate as he finished waving off another customer.

"What can I get you on this chilly day?" He chirped. His eyes focused on Nate-who was now on Sully's hip and like nearly all adults he started to coo at the five year old. "Aww heck look at you! Sir, you gotta cute bugger right there." Sully scoffed softly when Nate stuck his head into the crook of his neck, pulling off the behavior of a five year old almost perfectly after many practice runs. They had figured out that the more he acts like a child, the more people leave him alone. It was a formula they hadn't seen something.

"Thank you." Sully answered and adjusted Nate on his hip. Nate pursed his lip at Sully's answer-no matter how many times they had to do this something clenched in Nate when Sully said thank you to compliments and answered questions about him. It was almost like the man was his fa-Nate stopped the thought right the edge of the cliff and pulled his head out from his mentors neck to put a little distance between them, his big blue eyes looking cloudy. The pudgy man grinned at Nate and reached over the counter to ruffle his hair.

"What do want, bugger?" He asked.

"Cheeseburger with no onions, please." Nate mumbled. He suddenly just couldn't concentrate. Parents were something he had sworn to never think of. That day he was left in the lobby of the boys home…was most likely the most eye opening and heart tearing day of his life. The worst part was what that was all he could remember. Staring at a door confused and hurt until a nun took him away. He shook his head to will away the thoughts that hadn't surfaced in years, deciding to watch the people in the kitchen move around each other like it was second nature, throwing their food together quicker than any fast food chain could.

The man handed them a white paper bag, accepting the ten Sully gave him.

"Are you excited that Santa's comin soon?" he asked as he put together Sully's change. Nate hesitated. But he put on a sweet smile and wrapped his arms back around Sully's neck.

"Yeah." He murmured and watched as a wistful smile crossed the servers face.

"Ah how I miss bein his age. Well, have a good Christmas and enjoy your meal." Sully nodded and turned around, rolling his eyes when Nate immediately started to dig into the warm bag to pull his paper covered burger out. The heat of the bun and meat had Nate relaxing into Sullys' side as they continued their walk to wherever Sully needed to go that day. The walk was quiet once again while Nate scarfed down his sandwich, unknowingly make Sully smirk with how chubby his cheeks would get with each bite. Sully reminisced in his thought of Nate being cute; the little boy had grown on him quicker than he would have thought-both as a teen and as a child. Sometimes it almost seemed like he was meant to be thrown into his life the way he was. Whether he is fifteen or five-the boy had almost delicate features that made him seem more innocent than he really was. His grin paired with icy blue eyes made him almost too charming to deal with. Nate was licking his fingers when Sully slowed until he fully stopped- the screams and laughs of children reaching Nate's young ears. He looked up at Sully with confusion, frowning when the man only bobbed his head to the side towards the noise.

Nate turned his head- and wished he hadn't. He whipped his head back to glare at Sully. His already face from the icy weather managed to darken another shade in distaste, his black snow hat very nearly shielding his eyes.

"Are you serious?" Sully shrugged, but the smile on his face confirmed Nate's assumptions. Sully was going to make him ice skate.

"I hate you, I hope you know that." The fellow treasure hunter rolled his eyes and walked up to the counter to rent the skates. To be honest he wasn't very into that sort of thing either. But that sudden moment of distance Nate had pulled at the burger place had him worried. He pretended not to notice the impulsive bursts of affection Nate showed him, or how instead of snuggling up to him in his sleep he immediately moved into his embrace, and he really did try to brush Nate climbing into his lap every moment he got off like it was nothing. But the teen's huge blue eyes always silenced him from saying anything. The more affection the child showed him, the stronger some strange strain in his chest became. He had gotten so used to the sneering, smirking, wise cracking teenager that still lived in the tiny child that the hugs and snuggles were like a table flip every time Nate performed them.

He chuckled when Nate tugged his hair, not shy to show his displeasure in the new activity. He was so stubborn and difficult whenever it came to doing things involved with other people; it was as if he just plain old didn't like doing things in public. He knew it was mostly because of his upbringing-needing to steal and deceive to get a simple meal and god knows what at that 'boarding school' he went to. Pulling the real Nate out of his shell was the most emotionally exhausting thing Sully believed he'd ever have to go through. The teen had been jumpy, overly cautious and far too independent. Even when he was out of his shell he didn't show much serious affection. Genuine smiles were rare and hugs were one armed millisecond ones. Not that Sully was going to push him any farther than that. Nate's need for attention was actually quite laugh worthy.

Sully hoisted Nate off his hip onto a bench, handing him his skates while he tried to figured out how the hell to get his own pair on. Sully had skated before-just once trying to impress a little lady when he was younger. So he at least knew how to stay up. Nate hesitantly stood up, craning his little neck at the side to observe the dark grey skates he tied securely. Or as securely he could with his numb little hands. Sully finished up tying his and placed his hands on Nate's hips to pick him up. Nate clutched onto Sully for dear life as the man tried to pull him off to set him on the ice.

"Kid; it's ice. It can't bite." Nate somehow flushed deeper and glared at his mentor, letting him set his skate covered feet on the scratched up frozen ground. Then he saw it; something he hadn't seriously seen in nearly three years. Uncertainty. It strangely tugged at his heart and he found himself setting his much larger hand on Nate's hat covered head.

"Relax, kid. I'll be right next to you alright? I wanna do this so you can have some fun. Not scare the shit out of you." He murmured and felt himself relax when Nate's hold on his own jacket loosened and his little hand slid into his big one for the second time that day. Sully threw a smile his way and slowly coaxed the child onto the ice and showed him how to move, skating backwards to teach the boy. The vice like grip Nate had eased as he grew the hang of the new activity, pursing his lips in utter concentration. The expression made Sully chuckle, finally letting go of Nate's hands. At first those big blue eyes bored into his with panic, fading into a smile as he started to move on his own.

"There ya go." Sully praised and watched Nate carefully skate around; clumsily flailing whenever he began to lose his balance. He chuckled. Nate was doing fairly well, giving him gleeful grins. It was nice to see the kid like that; like an actual child. Damn, what was he going to do about Christmas? He was pretty sure Nate wasn't expecting any more than usual. Maybe he could him some extra candy or something…just a little more to the holiday. Sully jerked out of his thoughts when a rather high squeal came from Nate and fell backwards-luckily not hitting his head-right on his lower regions. He sat there for a moment completely stunned. Sully's laugh perked his ears, making a fresh new flush of heat hit his face. He tried to glare again, but instead his own small giggles came out as Sully lifted him off his hind quarters and crouched to his size, pulling off the moves of a building scaler to stay balanced.

"Took quite a spill there. You sick of it or do you want to stick around?" Nate felt a whole new kind of warm bubble fill his stomach-it felt awkward and nice all at the same time. Lightness made him pull an absolute out of character smile, tossing his arms around Sully's neck. Surprise was etched all over his features.

"I wanna do something else." Was there elation in his voice? Because for a split second that's all that filled his little body. It was if a plug had been pulled on his restraint of his childish compulsions. Suddenly all he wanted to do was play there all day, he wanted to run and shout and just be himself until the sun went down. It was exhilarating and refreshing. Sully smirked and released his hands from his sides.

"And what would this 'else' be?" Nate hesitated a moment, his mind coming back to him with realization that what he wanted to do was asking an awful lot. He blinked and felt that elation leave him. What had come over him? That fall was nothing compared to what he had done as a teen and yet…it had made his mood flip around like mad. He released Sully's neck and backtracked, the childish wish refusing to get past his lips. He looked down and pursed his lips, his mind registering his behavior and felt heat hit his cheeks full force.

"Never mind…" he muttered, un aware of the confused frown that molded into his mentor's face. "Can we…can we just head home now, Sully?" He didn't mean to seem so whiny as he was certain he sounded, but his mind was rattled, he was cold, and he just wanted to be somewhere warm and get his thoughts together. The man picked him up without a word and glided over to the edge of the public rink to remove the little boys' skates, patting his hip as he did. Patting was the only thing Victor Sullivan never hesitated to do when it came to his protégé. It had been the first physical bit of contact Nate responded to positively. So he used the motion as an anchor-a way of saying nothing was wrong or going to go wrong. It was a promise.

Sully removed Nate's skates and did the same to his-being sure to quickly put Nates' boots back on before the cold snow could do too much to the boys' tender feet. Nate was quiet as he did this; never uttering a word with his head bowed. It was the damn kind of awkward silence again! It was suffocating and completely unnecessary between the two fortune hunters, the sounds of other children playing and the now obnoxious Christmas tunes only making their personal silence even more difficult to ignore. Sully backed away when he tied the last knot and set his larger, numbing hand on Nate's soft mop of hair-his hat stuffed inside his coat pocket- and pushed himself off the snowy ground. He could feel those puppy dog eyes looking up at him. He always knew.

When he looked down to his too-young protégé, he wasn't completely surprised when the little boy reached up with an obvious request in mind. There it was again-that tightening in the middle aged mans' chest that had him moving on impulse to scoop Nate up in one swift motion, smoothly moving the boy over onto his back and trying to shrug off the swelling warmth when Nate nuzzled his forehead into the crook of his neck. Little gloved hands linked together so thin arms cold wrap around his neck and shy away from the cold wind. Sully gave a mental sigh, starting the trek back to their apartment through the thinning crowd of people as the lunch hour came to a close. All the while Nate managed to snuggle closer through the walk-just like he did when he went to sleep. It was an unconscious move that Sully had learned to expect from Nate.

"Sully?" It was sudden-but not loud-and right in Sully's goddamn ear, jerking him out of the daze he had faded into.

"Hmm." He craned his neck to show Nate he was listening only to turn back quickly as not to run into anyone.

"…you gonna dress up as Santa this year?" Ah, there was some of the teen Nate right there; cynical, meaningless remarks that he knew would get under his mentor's skin.

"Yeah, and guess who's getting coal?" Sully muttered-rolling his eyes as a far too amused snicker leaked into his ear and a soft from youth cheek pressed against his own stubble one.

"I think I need somethin' worse than a chunk of coal, old man." And with a scoff, a battle of teases began. The ice rink, Nates' sudden wants and rejections, Sullys' growing protectiveness was all forgotten. Because that' just the way they were.

*slams head multiple times* late chapter is late as hell! Damn you homework! I would have had this up days earlier if I wasn't in a bunch of advanced classes! ;A; I hate being smart. But enough of my complaints hope you guys enjoy and I'll try to post a bit earlier. xhugsx