“Billie, my friend, I have a question.”
“Shoot away, buddy.”
Fawkes, with an expression on his face that Billie is learning to read as confusion, starts reaching for his Gatling laser as he starts to look around for danger and she has to start backpedalling immediately. “Nononono, wait, sorry – just a turn of phrase. I meant to say go ahead.”
Fawkes’s huge shoulders visibly relax in the light of their small campfire, and he turns back to look at her again with that same odd look on his face. They haven’t spent an awful lot of time together since he carried her and Charon back from Raven Rock all those months ago, but since she had asked him to help her out on this trip scavving some heavier equipment from the scrapyard Billie has realised just how difficult he is to read. All of her instincts on body language are built for humans, and Fawkes sure is not that.
“Some of your phrases are very strange, my friend. Sometimes I do not know what to make of them.”
This comment startles a laugh from Billie, and she takes a swig of her Nuka Cola.
“Trust me, you are far from the first person to tell me that.” She says, grinning. “That’s what comes of growing up in an underground vault with no contact with the outside world, I guess. We just talk weird down there compared to everyone else.”
“You spent your life in a vault as I did, correct?”
“Yeah – well, my vault wasn’t anywhere near as shitty as your vault. Still bad, in retrospect, but not like ‘forcibly-injecting people-with-viruses-to-cause-horribly-painful-mutations-for-science’ bad.” Billie scratches at Dogmeat’s ears as he lays dozing between them. Fawkes shrugs – it’s an unnatural-looking motion on someone with his enormous build, all of the muscles in his shoulders bunching and tangling like huge twisted ropes.
“It is done now, and I cannot change what was done to me in the past. All the ones who are responsible for me being the way I am now are likely dead anyway. You have only been outside for a short time, yes?”
“Yeah, not that long. Less than a year.”
Fawkes grunts, then goes quiet, unnaturally so for him – the rumble of his voice normally suffuses the space around him at all times, like the hum of a generator. Billie isn’t sure yet whether Fawkes is just naturally talkative or whether he had just been so contact-starved during his long imprisonment in Vault 87 that when the chance came for conversation with another person came that he fell upon it like a starving man upon food. Either way, he normally takes any chance for discussion that presents itself no matter the topic, and the steady resonation of his rough voice combined with his contemplative nature makes Billie find his presence to be strangely calming in a way that seems at odds with his size or his ferocity in a fight.
But now he spends a long while staring in silence at the patch of night sky above their camp where the stars are making a rare appearance through a gap in the clouds. The look on his face has changed again. Fawkes has so many expressions that she has never seen on another super mutant, let alone another human, and are hard to interpret. The increased musculature on his face makes everything seem more strained, more forced. When he finally speaks, there’s a tense thread of something she can’t identify in it.
“Does the world ever stop feeling so big?”
The question takes a moment to land, but when it does it feels like it stuns her like a blow to the head. She remembers suddenly how it felt to leave the vault for the first time. After her eyes had first adjusted to the blazing daylight and she saw the sky for the first time, looking at it for too long made her stomach go all tight – for the first time in her life the world around her was not held up by walls, she couldn’t see the edges of it beyond the distant horizon, and it frightened her.
Sure, she was running on adrenaline constantly in those first few weeks above ground - when it had seemed everything in the world was out to get her and she didn’t have a grip on anything - but she had been half-convinced that the huge sky above her would fall down and crush her long before she ever found her father. Eventually the feelings had faded - sometime around when she started getting a handle on things, and after she learned that just because a place had a ceiling it didn’t mean it was any safer for it.
Fawkes had lived in a vault for far longer than she had. Not even just in the vault, but cooped up within the same four cell walls for who knows how long – certainly decades by his description, maybe even centuries – with few memories of his life from before his mutation. And yet when Billie had been captured by the Enclave, by Charon’s account Fawkes had essentially slung him over his shoulder and run after her into the great unknown despite having known her for less than an hour.
When she had emerged from Raven Rock, battered and burned and running only on the last fumes of her anger, she had been so overwhelmed to see her two friends that she had pretty much collapsed right into them from relief and exhaustion. She hadn’t thought of it being Fawkes’s first time above ground, and he hadn’t given any sign of being troubled by it that she had noticed. He’s never given any sign of being troubled by anything, come to think of it.
What would fear look like on a super mutant, anyway?
Fawkes is still staring into the distance. Billie takes another swig from her cola, and fiddles with the bottle cap. Maybe there are other reasons that Fawkes had taken to staying in Underworld than she had originally realised.
“Not exactly.” She shuffles a little closer to the fire. “The world still feels crazy big to me even now sometimes. But it’s less overwhelming now than it was. I found things to fill the space with, I guess.”
Fawkes looks back towards her, his tilted head a question in the firelight, and she continues.
“When I first came topside I didn’t have anything or know anyone, and the world was huge and overwhelming and I didn’t really know what to do with myself except try and find my dad however I could. But then I found Charon and having him around made things feel - less uncertain, I suppose. Then we found Dogmeat.” She strokes Dogmeat’s ears again, and the dog snorts at her softly. “Things got bad again after Dad died, but I kept meeting people and finding things that made me feel like I was part of the world and not just rolling around in this huge empty space where I might die at any second.”
She takes a last sip of Nuka and then offers the half-full bottle to Fawkes. Slowly, he reaches out and takes it from her almost delicately, holding it just with his forefinger and thumb before raising it to his mouth and downing the remaining liquid in one large gulp. Then scrunches his nose up.
“This drink makes my mouth tingle.”
“Hey, you got to re-discover soda! Did you like it?”
Fawkes contemplates this.
“I am not sure. I would like to try another one.”
Billie pops the cap off another cola and passes it to him, then briefly scrubs her teeth with a brush and a little charcoal, rinses with vodka mouthwash (and scrunches her own nose) and gets comfortable in her bedroll next to the fire.
“Billie?” Fawkes is still looking out towards the sky, sipping his cola, his voice quiet as she has ever heard it.
“No problem.” She yawns. “Goodnight, Fawkes.”
Just before she drifts off, she sees a single huge green fingertip gently stroke the top of Dogmeat’s head, and then remembers nothing until she wakes, bleary-eyed, to a bright beam of pinkish light from the freshly risen sun. When she turns over, Fawkes is sitting cross-legged on the ground by the fire with Dogmeat curled up by his knee, eyes on the horizon. It is hard to tell, but she thinks as he watches the sun crawl up into the pink-orange sky that the morning light illuminates the slightest upturned corners at the edges of his mouth.
Literally the realization punched me in the face just now as I scrolled through tiktok.
god us is such a great movie i wish horror wasn’t so snubbed at award shows
i know this has been done before but. we all had the same thought when watching this movie i couldn't resist
venom devouring his son
Taking advantage of the warm sunny weather to patrol the Land of Driveway: Intruders, beware of the GRUMP CHOMP!
@byxallxmeans | BED SHARING
This was Sei’s first year at ServantFes & it was shaping up to be A REALLY AWESOME TRIP! — She’d got to show off her new swimsuit! Have a water-gun war at the beach! (Which Helena kinda cheated & won. Alien-brain’s gun had been bigger than HER!) After that, she’d explored all the different clubs in search of A NEW SPARK! Most of the other Servants probs expected her to join a writing club or the famous Doujin battle! But, Sei was seriously BURNT OUT on that kinda stuff! She thought about joining the photography club, but passed for today! (Mostly cuz she didn’t feel like taking a hundred pics of Medb posing sexy in her bikini) — Quarter to midnight & the pocket-sized poet FINALLY took Blackbeard’s advice & headed for the hotel. Luckily, there was ONE. ROOM. LEFT. Unluckily, (For Murasaki), they were gonna be forced to share it~! Nihhaha~!
Sho, here they were, under the covers in the single bed — DEFINITELY big enough to keep to their own sides if they wanted to, but Sei couldn’t help but push her luck! This was her biggest (living) crush in the whole world! She had to TRY! “Nnnn...” Smile curled at her lips while she nuzzled into Murasaki’s back — Face buried between shoulder-blades. BEST BUD was calling her out, but Sei was pretending to be passed out cold! “Mmm...Com...Fy...” Hummed hotly as fingertips slithered down that curvaceous bod, dragging across hips & traveling LOWER & LOWER! Exploring inch after inch after inch!
Grizzly: I'm pretty scared here...
Nom Nom: I wouldn't call you "pretty".
Grizzly: This place gives me the creeps.
Nom Nom: "Ruggedl handsome", maybe, but definitely not "pretty".
Orderly queue everyone, orderly queue 😉😉😉💋💋💋💋💋
Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus)
© Stuart Price
Cannibalism is the solution to everything.