At 16-years-old, Duncan was already drinking like a fish, staying sober only long enough to finish a job. Not that he had much work, mind. Nobody wanted a teenaged mercenary. Nobody would take him serious. The few that did often tried to cheat him out of his money. More often successfully.
So he didn't go off-planet anymore. Stopped marketing himself as a mercenary. Hung around the sleezy dive bars in the red light district. Bummed alcohol off the more seasoned patrons. Picked pockets to survive. Fought anybody that looked at him sideways. Fought a few that didn't.
"Got a problem, mate?" he growled, looking at the man sitting at the table across from him. He was in a bad mood and looking for a little release. This guy looked soft.
"Just tryin' to enjoy a drink, friend." The man responded, calmly sipping from a pint. His calmness enraged Duncan further.
"'ey, Oi'm not yier friend." he said, getting up and grabbing the man by the shirt collar.
"Clearly." the man said, raising his hands, "I don't want any trouble."
"Yer came ter de wrong place den." Duncan wound up for a punch, but the man moved faster, kicking Duncan's leg out from under him. The boy stumbled as a small circle cleared around them. Embarassed, he charged the man, wanting to hurt him more than anything in the world. He easily dodged it, causing Duncan to crash into the table. Duncan spun around and came face to face with the barrel of a gun.
"How old are you, son?" The man asked from the other side of the gun.
"20." He was still seething, and figured the man was too soft to actually shoot him. The gun cocked.
"Let's try this again. How old are you, really?" For a tense moment, Duncan didn't say anything. He decided that his life was worth more than the truth.
"16." The gun stayed pointed on him, but Duncan heard the man chuckle.
"16, eh? What do you do for work?" The crowd quickly lost interest in the pair. Clearly this wasn't going to be an exciting end.
"Dis an' dat." his anger was quickly disapating.
"How'd you like a real job?"
"Oi don't see why Oi gotta learn dis." Duncan grumbled, struggling to master the characters Sally picked up so easily, "Oi got on jist fine before withoyt bein' able to read."
"You were a drunken pickpocket on skid row. And that's not right. Look at Sally's." Donovan quipped from across the table.
"Look at mine Uncle Duncan!" Sally said earnestly, pushing her paper towards him. At this point, his penmanship wasn't much better than hers. He looked at it, and tried to replicate it with some success.
"'ow'd ye git so smart, girlie?" Duncan asked, ruffling Sally's hair as she giggled. Nothing could melt his heart faster than her smile.