A/N: Hello again everybody! Hope y'all are keeping safe out there in this fucked-up world.
Here's some Cait and Daye trash to ease the burden of being born in this century.
Chapter 11: Daye Tripper
Part One: In Which Cait Maybe Begins to Think She Doesn't Want to Murder Daye, and in Which We Meet Another (?) of Daye's Bastard Friends (?)
"Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes."
They'd made it to Bunker Hill in record time, Cait thought – well, not that she'd ever actually been here before… or anywhere, really… or could even take a wild fucking guess at the average time it took to get from Point A to Point B hotfooting it while on Jet – but nevertheless, from Blinkey Gorbachev's scuzzy raider hole at the Zakim Memorial Bridge through dusty, broken streets littered with the waste of a world long past, here at last they stood, at the foot of the vast white-washed monument upon the windblast hill, thrust up into the heavens like some colossal middle finger – Cait sweating her titties off, and Daye waffling some stupid fucking bullshit jargon again.
So, a typical fuckin' Tuesday.
She swiped away the sandy sweat from her brow, squinting in the harsh noontime sun.
"What the fuck you babblin' on about now?"
Daye, this ugly fucking dumbass drifter with a long ratty jacket that had way too many pockets and a bad habit of almost getting her killed, flicked out his little gold lighter and lit up a Lucky Strike. Sucked in. Shrugged.
"It's what they said. Long ago. During the battle here. Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes. Means hold your ground, don't shoot until the British are upon us."
"Pfft. Well, I ain't seein' any British cucks 'round here, are you?"
"Hey, I'm British, alright?" he said, cig hanging out the corner of his mouth, slipping the lighter back into his jacket pocket. "Well, my mother was British, I guess. Born in Lancashire."
"Honest to God."
"Mhm. Guess there is one British cuck here, then."
The tiniest of smirks danced in the light of the embers as he sucked in a long drag of his cigarette.
"Right. Sure. One Limey fuck and one right smarmy Mick here, tee hee," Daye mocked, miming a fuckin' horrible Irish drawl to the calibre of Whitechapel Charlie's bad robot Cockney. "Topo' the mornin' to ya! Say, isn't Ireland part of the UK? Potato potato potato."
Cait scowled. She had no fuckin' idea what the bastard was jabbering about, but the way he said it made her feel like she was being slighted.
"The fuck's that mean?"
"They're always after me Lucky Charms!"
"Red, sweety, we've been over this. I'm not into fire crotch's, alright?"
"Yer headin' the right way to a smacked bottom, Nate, and I don't care who knows it."
"Ooh, kinky. It's Daye, by the way. Don't forget it."
"Well, Red," he said, taking yet another long drag of his lung dart, opening his arms wide in a half-assed melodramatic fashion, like those dumb tour guide robots down in Boston Commons. But less annoying. Maybe. "Welcome to Bunker Hill. Trade hub of the Greater Boston Area. Birthplace of America. Bastion of the free world, and home of Rusty's epic fried brahmin skewers. Also home of the giant stone dick."
"Hm," she mused, tilting her head up to get a good look at the soaring grey monument.
It was monstrous, a decaying old thing, sun-bleached grey and riddled with ancient fractures and brown lichens eating away the stone. The tallest structure for miles around, it seemed: a beacon to those who needed one, encircled by the burnt-out husks of trees and rusting corpses of collapsed skyscrapers, brethren that could not stand the test of time. But this one stood still, a monument to a past that never deserved this future, just as the old oxidised copper statues that littered the corners of broken streets still did – weatherworn, steadfast, yet their purpose and reason for being there entirely forgotten by all who now walked by.
So much for that. If only the people of yesterday worried as much about their future as they did immortalizing their past, there might still be people here to remember it. Fucking twats.
"Hm. Y'know, it really does look like a giant dick. The big white stone thing up there does, too."
"Hardy-fucking-har," Daye griped, flicking his cig on the cracked pavement. "You're a God-damned comedian. Come on, lets go. I'm fucking starving."
Daye shouldered his pack and started to lope up the fractured marble staircase cut into the side of the windblown hill. Shotgun loosely strung off his shoulder. Chalky, moth-eaten duster scraping up the stairs behind him.
Cait took one last look behind her, down the slanted streets of wedged-in brownstowns on a hill so steep it was a miracle anyone pre-war could park their cars on it. The Zakim Bridge was down there, far away, almost right out of sight, it's spindly cables twisted and no doubt screeching under stress. Beyond, and already fading fast from view, downtown Boston loomed dark and heavy, like a radioactive cloud, like that Brotherhood ship hovering out near the airport, it's monsters and skyscrapers groaning under their own unfathomable weight, packs of raiders and feral dogs alike loping through the fractured streets. A dark place. A dangerous place, indeed.
But now, looking at it from the other side of the Charles River, from on top of the hill, in this half of the world she shouldn't be allowed, it… wasn't quite so scary, any more. And it didn't look quite so endless and frightening.
"Hm," she said, then she turned and followed Daye.
Bunker Hill was just about as crooked and slovenly as Cait had always thought it would be, from what she heard about it through raiders in the Pit. Tags once told her you could buy anything you ever wanted there, anything at all, be it a dangerous modified weapon or brand new drug or a good quick fuck, and Roach (the cheating bastard), he used to talk about the stories you'd hear, wild stories and fucked-up tales collected from all corners of the world by men and women who walked for a living and traded around like cards or dice. For once, they might've been telling the truth.
It was, in essence, a trampled, pulsating borough absolutely teeming with people from all walks of life – particularly the seedy and filthy ones. The gated outpost was intense, loud, and reeking, everything a good trading hub should be, a cacophony of sights and sounds and smells, not all of them recognisable or good. There were shops and stalls, ramshackle and decrepit, all crushed together, shaded over with tarps hastily strapped to beams, rusty sheet metal and bricks and stone and planks all jumbled up together to form a monochrome, chaotic mass of structures in absolute shambles, akin to a pile of vomit after eating one of Tommy's Mystery Meat meals – the buildings just as temporary and bedraggled as the community and people that used them.
There were men and women in well-travelled dusters all bartering and hollering and exchanging and buying and selling shit, food and armour and weapons and chems – the last one so blatantly it almost threw Cait off-guard when a woman screamed in her face to try our new Psycho-Jet! Can't be missed!
Along the north side of the settlement along the cracked wall, a long line of saddle-sore pack brahmin were tied up to slanting posts or thrown into shanty pens, mooing and stamping their displeasure at the tubs of fouled water and soiled razorgrain provided to them. Caravan guards with battered armour leaned inside doorframes, peering out for any pickpockets or brawls, a few trying their hands at some sort of card game played on a mouldy wooden crate in the back corner under a flickering oil lamp.
Even a raider, here and there, clearly unwelcome, shirtless and mohawked and burning their way through strained conversations and unsolicited presence.
All of these people, every last one of them, worn out from time spent in the wastes, all ground down from the winds of radiation and the days baking under a radioactive sun, all slithering their way between the squalid network of narrow alleys and pathways – and it all contributed to the outpost's scuzzy, adrenalized verve.
Cait fucking loved it. Oh yeah, this was totally her jam.
Daye led her to a splintering table along the ass-end of some sort of sloping shanty, a place she could only hope to categorise as a sort of bar or communal hangout area, maybe, and left her there while he bartered with some grizzled old fuck near the stalls that were vending food.
She breathed in deep, long – it smelled of mouldy wood and sizzling meats and old highway dust.
Cait had been to Goodneighbour once before, back before the raiders didn't let her leave the Combat Zone much – and the place was probably one of her favourites in the whole goddamned world (not that that's saying much, to be honest). The mayor there was known to keep a close eye on who and what wandered in through his gates – which included mobsters and Triggermen and raiders, and which was fine by everyone – but here, in Bunker Hill, it was clear there were no rules. There were no laws, no leaders or government or police. This was a crossroads, an intersection of many roads, a convergence of everyone and everything, and the people who made it here just as winding and treacherous as the old freeways they walked. Dangerous. Thrilling. Alive.
Just then, out of the corner of her eye, Cait caught a caravan guard staring at her. Swathed in abused leather armour, sporting dark sunglasses and a perfectly coiffed jet-black side-do, the man sat at one of the tables in the corner, a few rows away. Alone, just staring. Staring.
Cait stared back.
The guy didn't budge.
Cait scowled, stuck out her tongue.
He remained unmoved.
Finally, bitch that she is, Cait flipped him the bird, and he finally stirred – shook his head, chuckled to himself.
"Wanker? I hardly even know her," Daye said, sliding into the seat across from her, effectively blocking the guard from her view. Good. She was tired of starin' at his ugly face anyways.
Well. Only to be replaced by Daye's ugly face, so not much better, she reckoned.
In his hand he held two bottles of lukewarm Gwinnet and three massive, steaming sticks of skewered meat slathered in some sort of sauce from fuck-knows-where, made out of fuck-knows-what – but, she had to admit, it smelled pretty fuckin' good. Like Heaven on a meat stick, or something. Tommy could only dream.
She reached out to snatch one.
"Hey, hey, hold on," Daye said, drawing them out of reach. "These aren't for you."
"What? Seriously? You ain't gonna eat three of those things, you fuckin' pig."
"Pfft. Rude. No: this one's for me, this one's for Mac," he said, holding them up one at a time, "and this one's for Dogmeat."
"No – it's not made of dog meat, you idiot – it's for my dog. Dogmeat. The bestest boy ever."
"You got a dog? When? Where is it?"
"He's with Mac. Thought the kid could use some company."
"Right, sure. Whatever. Just don't let 'im lick me, I hate dogs."
"Never would have taken you for a cat person, Red."
"Fuck's that mean?"
"Nothing. I'm kidding. Here you go."
And he handed Cait a beer and the meat stick.
"Hm," she mused, propelling the sticky food into her face hole fast as a jackrabbit in heat. "Fuck. You know, I wasn't expectin' much, not after ya talked it up so well – I mean, buddy, yer track record ain't all that great, let's be honest – but I gotta admit, this ain't half bad."
"Ain't half bad?" Daye gawked, already shoving the second one down his gullet. "Ha. You have no idea, Cait. Shit, no lie, Rusty does the best meat I've had in a long fucking time, bar none. Reminds me of –"
Cait glanced up at him, at the pause.
He frowned, then, that weird sort of faraway look in his eye he sometimes got. On old suburb intersections, on looking through the broken glass of an old roadside diner.
"Of… nothing," he shook his head. "Just, shut up and eat your food, yeah?"
"You wanna talk about it?"
"I want you to have triple D tits and ass-length blonde hair – some things just aren't going to happen, Red."
"Fuck you too."
Cait smiled. Daye smiled.
Only a little.
Cait watched as Daye took a long swig of his Gwinnet, washing down the meat. Watched his purpling, bruised jaw and fat busted lip wrap around the rim of the bottle. Watched his Adam's apple bob up and down when he swallowed. Watched a little bit of beer trickle down his stubbled throat in little rivulets, disappearing beneath the collar of his dusty jacket.
Watched the glint of a gold ring around the second-last finger of his left hand, slipping through the grimy wraps looped round it.
That's… probably why he turned her away, that night at The Castle, then, right?
Being Cait, the pathetic pit-fighter of a shitty raider dive that she was, she'd since just kinda… brushed that whole thing under the rug. Pushed it away. Forgot about it, as she forgot about a lot of the horrible things in her life. Why dwell? It was only a bad bender to never be mentioned again. She thought Daye was on the same page.
Cait suddenly felt a stab of guilt at that – at cornering him, molesting him, feeling him up and down… forcing herself on him…
Fuck, how had she not noticed it before?
And, more worrying than that, she felt a stab of disappointment.
Well, clearly 'cause she wanted to fuck him that night, the logical part of her Psycho-fried brain deduced.
But maybe, also, that she knew now it wasn't a one-off thing, like he just wasn't into it right then, that night, that maybe he'd change his mind under different circumstances, different skies.
Cait… I can't. Not right now.
Not ever, then.
Well. Whoever she was – or he, she still wasn't convinced it wasn't Mac – whoever they were, they were the stupidest fuckin' knobs on planet Earth, taking up with a guy like Nathaniel Daye. They deserved every piece of misery they got.
Truly. She should consider herself lucky, then, that she hadn't managed to get in his pants that night. And, looking at the bright side of things (which she never ever did so give her a bit of credit here, yeah?), Daye didn't just not want her, he didn't want anyone.
Look, a little stroke to her ego was welcomed, alright?
But she didn't say that.
"Y'know," she said instead, taking a swig herself. "This is the first time since – well, since I met ya, I guess, that we just… sat 'n had a beer together."
Daye raised his eyebrows.
"It's nice. Not murderin' raiders and the general filth of the Commonwealth every fuckin' minute of every fuckin' day, I mean. Just ta sit n' take a minute to breathe."
"Yeah, I guess," he mumbled, playing with the condensation on his beer bottle. Now that she knew it was there, it took a fuck-ton more effort than she cared to admit not to stare at the ring. "Don't get to just… sit much anymore." He glanced up at her through his lashes tiredly. "Know what I mean?"
"Yeah. I do. Never used ta get much downtime at the Combat Zone. I mean, sure, I wasn't in the Pit every day, all day, but the raiders… they didn't leave me alone much."
Daye winced. "You, uh… you gonna go back there? When this is all done?"
Cait shrugged. "I dunno. I mean, it was good fun and decent money – used ta bet on meself, ya know, had a good little stash there for a while – and I mean, as much as I hate that lardass, Tommy, he did a lot for me, ya know? I ain't sure I could just leave him there all alone. So, I dunno," she said again, taking another swig of warm beer. "I'm… not hatin' followin' you around, though. Seein' the city n' shit. Killin' some people that maybe deserve ta be killed."
"Kicking ass and taking names?"
"Sure. I don't know what the fuck ya got planned next, and truly, I ain't sure I wanna know, but… well, it sure beats fuckin' around that old fightin' ring, that's fer fuckin' sure." She smirked. "Even if it is with you, the world's biggest dickhead, underneath the world's biggest stone dick."
He sighed, then, seeming a little more melancholy than before, and glanced up toward the giant greyed monument towering over the outpost, sinking half the city in shadow at any point of day.
"You know," he mused, licking his fingers clean of meat sauce. "Speaking of big dicks –"
"Oi, woah – this some kinda segway inta finally admittin' yer queer for yer sniper guy? Cause I already know that, dipshit. Don't have to brag about it, alright? This Mac guy's packin'."
"Ha! You wish. Nah, there's just… there's… I guess there's something you gotta know about Bunker Hill, Red."
Daye fidgeted a little with the wraps looped round his hands. Picked at his nails a second, then at the meat between his teeth. The way he hesitated, was trying to stall a minute, it… made Cait sober up a bit.
"What? Come on then, spit it out."
"It's just…ugh," he sighed, brows crinkling a little. And honestly, it was… kinda hot, in a fucked-up sort of way – reminded her of Serious Danse a bit, but less fuckable and more fucked up, if you know what I mean.
She would never tell him that, though.
Fuck, she needed to get laid. Good a place as any, she assumed – if she could find a half-decent, half-clean boy 'round here.
"See…" he began, lowering his voice a little. "Bunker Hill used to be a settlement under the protection of the Minutemen, but after Quincy, after what happened there, it kinda… fell to the wayside, I guess. Then the raiders swooped in like the fucking vultures they are, seeing such a big settlement so close to the downtown area. Ran a lot of people out, a lot of good people who use to do the farming and shit, so they relied a lot on trade with other settlements, and it sorta evolved into what it is today."
"Kay, can we just skip the history lesson, bub? I gotta stick some drugs in me, and I ain't gettin' any younger."
"Shut up – God, you're such a fucking bitch sometimes."
"And yer a fuckin' pissflap. Fuck you."
"Anyways, sure, long story short, they pay the local raider gangs protection money now," he air-quoted, "to avoid being wiped off the fucking map, and they're none too happy about that."
He shrugged, leaning back in his chair. "Well. Raiders won't do it, though. Too much to be made taxing the caravans, you know, and the caravanners know that. It's a tight edge they walk on, and they're always butting heads, but the Twins keep them in line."
"Fuck are the Twins?"
Daye frowned. "Hm. Couple of inbred raiders, brother and sister. Box-Man and Toe-Cutter, I think. Stupid names. Stupid outfits. Both ugly sons of bitches, can never tell them apart – and that's an insult to both of them," he chuckled darkly. "Sharp as whips, though, which isn't saying much for the raiders 'round here, but hey, at least they managed to figure out a sort of business model that doesn't involve murder and general hobo-ism, so good for them, I guess."
"They're the ones issuing this protection fee here and running their raiders along the highways and bridges, tolling caravanners for "safe passage" all the way from here to Rhode Island. They have their own band of thugs, but they also contract out a lot of work to other gangs. Genius, really – all the benefits of a small army, with none of the hassle. Probably who organised Blinkey to set up camp at the Zakim Bridge."
"Okay, so? Protection money, raider highways, yadda yadda yadda. Plenty o' towns do that, then, pay off raider bands ta leave 'em alone."
"That's not the problem."
"Then what is?"
"Chuckles' gang is one of them."
And Cait fucking laughed.
"You fuckin' bastard, Nate," she wheezed, doubled over, punching Daye in the shoulder lightly. He blinked, clearly not expecting this reaction. A few dirty caravanners glanced in their direction. "You fuckin' greasy bastard! Burnin' all yer goddamned motherfuckin' bridges again. Again! Literally," she cackled, thumbing behind her in the rough direction of the badly-damaged Zakim Memorial Bridge.
"Hey, keep it down, Red."
"Fuck you. You know, you keep doin' that – burnin' all yer bridges, I mean – and you ain't gonna have nowhere left ta go. How you gonna cross the river when they all come chasin' after ya? How many more ya got left? Fuck, no, don't tell me, I wanna see this shit play out for meself."
"It's a hobby of mine."
"Well, fuck me sideways," she chuckled, coming down a little. "You slimy dickweasel. You fuckin' nonce. You right cunt. Ha. Chuckles. That's a good one, I tell ya. Got me real good."
Cait pondered a moment, wiping the tears from her eyes.
Something… wasn't quite clicking.
"Hey, hold on – there's somethin' not makin' sense here. What about Box-Dude and Bitch-Face? Ain't they the deeks in charge 'round here? I mean, I'm sure all the Boston raiders are jackin' each other off, but what's Eddie – er, Chuckles and his guys gotta do with it, exactly?"
Daye lowered his voice, a shit-eating grin splitting his face.
"You think the only things these caravans are running is corn and tatos, Red?"
The dawning cut across her face like the light from a glorious fucking mushroom bomb, absolutely nuclear; like a bolt of lightning in a tempestuous radstorm or something – razor-sharp and electrifying. It almost hurt.
Daye smirked. This was the reaction he had been expecting.
"So… no Chuckles sellin' the chems… no fishplant makin' 'em…"
Cait, for the first time since meeting the guy that fateful day he removed an entire subpopulation of raiders from the gene pool in Tommy's theatre, felt an actual, real, honest-to-God downright sense of utter dread fall heavily upon her shoulders and spine, a discomfited, ugly knot deep in the pit of her gut.
"Yikes, Daye," she said, lowering to a whisper now. "I mean – yikes. This is bad. Really bad. You… you got yerself inta some bad shit here. I mean it. Yer shortlist of dudes who wanna crucify ya is gettin' awful big."
Daye, to his credit, looked maddeningly unperturbed by all this.
He reached for his carton of cigarettes in the pocket just inside his jacket and lit up yet another Lucky Strike, sucking back the harsh smoke.
"Aww, you worried about me, toots?"
"Nate, I'm serious –"
"It's Daye, Red, for fuck's sake. Smoke?" he offered.
Cait grit her teeth.
"Daye. I'm serious. I like a good rumble every now an' again – I'm a bloody pit-fighter, for Christ's sake – but I mean… this is bad. This is really fuckin' bad. You got Trish's guys and Blinkey's guys and whatever the fuck is left of Chuckles' guys after ya, and now these Twins are pissed they ain't runnin' chems and shit no more – not to mention fuckin' Marowski, of all people –"
Daye nodded, letting out a big huff of smoke, the grey burn curling up in the damp air. "Don't forget Skinny's guys."
"Skinny? Fat-Ass Malone? Who's he in all this?"
"Those ghouls in fedoras that night on the docks, remember? Triggermen, Skinny's guys. No way he hasn't stuck his big nose in all this yet."
Cait pinched the bridge of her own nose, if only to stop herself from absolutely throttling him.
"Oh my God. Fuck, Daye, this is bad."
"You're telling me."
"Well, why in Jesus-tits are we even here, then?" she hissed, eyes darting around the place like a cornered rat, like someone, some raider crony from one of Daye's many mortal enemies might just be lurking around the corner, loitering in the dark. "Like, look, I ain't the ringleader of this whole fuckin' seedy operation you got goin' on here with raiders and underground railroads and sellin' cop weapons to dickheads like Trish and Chuckles, so correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't we stay the absolute fuck away from this goddamned place?"
Daye leaned closer across the table, beckoning her to do the same. She complied.
"Let me tell you a little something else about Bunker Hill, Red."
"Fuck, here we go."
"Bunker Hill is the trade hub of the Greater Boston Area because it's independent, see? It's not associated with the Minutemen anymore, and it's too full of raiders to be all buddy-buddy with Goodneighbour or Diamond City – not officially, anyways. But the raiders don't want to completely take it over – the Twins won't let them. They hold on just tight enough to be an inconvenience, and nothing more."
"So, it stays pretty neutral in things. It has no rules, no laws, which means people can come and go as they please, and do whatever they want. There's no leader, no tariffs, no taxes beyond what the raiders want. It's pretty awesome."
"First off," she whispered, so close to Daye she could make out the whorls of his scars pinching his features. "Yer breath is fuckin' rotten, my guy."
"Hey, you're not exactly a sprig of daisies now yourself."
"Second: so? Sex is also awesome. Don't try 'n tell me this shitehole even holds a candle to a good ol'-fashioned shag."
"Cait, you're comparing oranges to apples here."
"Never mind. Point is, Bunker Hill is lawless - but that also means Bunker Hill is a little… shady."
"Kinda like Goodneighbour, but with less sex and drugs and maybe a bit more morals. Sorry."
"Oh, so like Diamond City?"
"Red, I could write a book on the differences between Diamond City and Goodneighbour and it would be twice as long as The Brothers Karamazov and just as boring."
"Uh huh, sure, whatever."
"Best of all, there's no loyalty. They don't owe anyone anything. Get a bunch of long-haul caravanners and wandering scavvers and throw them all together. They've seen and heard some shit, I tell you. Probably more secrets sold here than cans of beans."
"Chuckles and his guys used to hang around here a lot, slapping drugs onto pack brahmin. Chuckles was right up Marowski's asscheeks, as you know. Guy had a big mouth, too. Good place to verify Blinkey's claims on where Marowski is holed up, no?"
Cait just about died.
"Jesus Christ Daye, you still plan on murderin' that cunt? Holy fucksticks, you got half the Commonwealth raiders after ya – if not now, then real fuckin' soon – let's just cut our losses and book it outta Boston."
Something flashed behind his eyes, his bloodshot, weird green eyes the colour of long-dead trees.
Cait bristled, his words an echo of that night at The Castle.
"I've got… unfinished business here. Mac's still holed up in Goodneighbour, poor bastard, and I'm not leaving him behind. Or Dogmeat."
"Right, fine, sure, whatever, let's go get yer boyfriend and yer dog and then get the fuck outta Dodge."
Daye chuckled, and it was beginning to grate on Cait how unabashedly little he seemed to give a shit about all this. It was infuriating.
"We'll see. But for now, let's see if we can get a lead on The Boss. Good a place as any."
"Well, yeah. But also a great place fer one of Chuckles' toadies to spot ya and put a molerat-sized hole through yer chest."
He leaned back from Cait, stretching his arms above his head, and instead of offering her his half-finished dart, he dropped it on the damp wood and crushed it under his boot.
His smirk was downright diabolical.
"Not if I shoot them first."
"Sorry to interrupt –"
It was the coiffed, sunglassed caravan guard that Cait had flipped off earlier, standing over and just behind Daye, hand clutched firmly on his shoulder – but not for long.
Almost as soon as the man put his hand on him, Daye reached up, seized the forearm that was clasping him with one hand, and with the other, swung his fist around to absolutely wallop the guy square in the fucking face with an epic haymaker.
"Get the fuck off me, dude," Daye hissed, careening out of his seat, wooden chair legs screaming against the plank floor. He brutally shoved the guy back with all his might, and the guy faltered, tumbling ass over fucking teakettle to the mouldy planks. Daye brought up his fists, hackles raised, teeth bared, mad-dog ready for a hot scrap. Cait, for her part, mirrored him, pulling up just behind him, slipping a rusty old knife from her back pocket.
Oh, yeah, baby. It'd been way too long since she'd been in a good brawl. She was raring to go.
The caravan guard squirmed on the floor as he clutched at his freshly-bleeding face, a bloodied hand held out in pathetic prostration, a feeble attempt to block them.
"It's – it's not – Jesus, Wanderer – do you have a Geiger counter?"
Daye blinked, and all the fury leached out of him in an instant – but all of it flooding back the next.
"Mine is in the fucking shop. You asshole."
And he gave the guy a good swift kick to the ribs.
He sputtered, groaning and moaning and griping, half in agony, half in thinly amused concession.
"Yeah," the guy chuckled, clutching his bruised side. "Yeah. Guess I deserved that one."
Cait, utterly and entirely confused and confuddled, blinked as Daye leaned down, offering a hand to the caravan guard. The guy took it, and Daye hauled him to his feet.
"Ow, ow, ow."
"Deacon, what the fuck are you doing here?" Daye hissed, brushing the dust and debris from the guy.
"Oh, you know," this Deacon said, swiping away blood from a clearly bent nose. "A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Sightseeing, one could say. Charleston is beautiful this time of year."
"You fucking liar."
"Ouch," he said, voice absolutely drenched in sarcasm, placing a hand over his heart. "That really hurts my feelings, you know. I am an honest man, cross my heart."
By now, they had garnered quite a bit of attention from the other patrons of the bar – er, pub – no, cafeteria? Whatever. No one had intervened – there was no one to do that, anyways – but nevertheless, curious eyes slunk around, shifting from face to face. Not good. Cait could only hope it wasn't one of Chuckles' guys. Or Trish's. Or any of them's toads.
Daye noticed as well.
"Dee – ugh. Come on, sit down," he sighed.
Deacon, a skinny little guy under all that obviously stolen guard armour, allowed himself to be guided into a chair at their table, the three of them settling down tepidly, Daye beside this new fucktoad of his.
"Ah, man, you totally busted my schnoz up," he said, removing his sunglasses and gingerly touching at his freshly-crooked nose. "Sheesh. You always did have a good arm, Wanderer. Always thought you should have joined a swatter league or something. Hey!"
Daye reached out and snatched the sunglasses from Deacon's hand – a pair of black-rimmed aviators, well-made – and bloodied and dusty as they were, he swiftly slid them onto his face, frowning.
"Right. Well, that's what you get for being a creepy fuck, Dee."
"Also, these are mine now. Deal with it. How do I look?" he turned to Cait.
"Like a right cunt."
"Hey, you already got a pair of douchebag shades, don't you? Come on, man, Dez got those for me."
"No, I lost mine during the fight at the fishpacking plant."
"Actually, it was during the chem bust on the docks that night."
"I knew it, you sneaky sonofabitch."
Deacon held up his hands. "Guilty as charged."
Cait bristled a little. Was this guy watching them the whole goddamned time?
"You were there, and you didn't bother to help? Why?"
"Hey, look, Dez put me on reconnaissance after you dipped. Strictly observe and report. Wanted me out of the action after you – well. You know. Guess she… well, she never really trusted me again after that. Not like before, at least."
Daye frowned. "But what are you doing here, man? If you're on recon, you shouldn't be anywhere near here, you know that."
"I told you, I was sightseeing."
"Anyways," Deacon said, starting to rise from his seat. "I better be off. Can't stay too late, I gotta get to Lederman Park before –"
"Hey, wait, hold on."
Daye reached out and put a hand on Deacon's forearm, effectively stopping him from leaving.
Deacon raised an eyebrow.
"It's just… haven't seen you in a while, man," he mumbled. "You, uh… you want a beer or something?"
"Can't believe you almost let me leave." He settled back into his seat.
Daye laughed, punching him lightly in the shoulder, all buddy-buddy with this dude who just about shanked them not two minutes ago.
"It's good to see you, man."
"Yeah, you too. Been way too long."
Cait couldn't stand it.
"Who the fuck is this sod?"
Deacon laughed, pushing out of a headlock Daye had him in, a crooked smile on his bloodied face.
"Oh, right, sorry. Name's Deacon," he said, holding out a hand to Cait. "Your friendly neighbourhood creep."
Cait hesitantly shook his hand.
"Dee here's a friend of mine, I guess. We go back a ways. We were partners once."
"You guess? Is that all I am to you, Wanderer? I swear, you live to break my fragile heart. And nose."
Daye winced. "Yeah. Sorry about that."
"Hey, don't worry about it. I was going to get another face change soon anyways, but maybe I don't have to. I can make this work."
"It honestly makes you look tougher, Dee – not quite so chickenshit."
"Okay, ouch, brutal, my guy. We can't all be as ridiculously ripped as you."
"Deeky, I'm not sucking your dick again, so quit it with the flirting."
"Wow, you're getting good at lying, Wanderer. I almost believed I did suck your dick. Good job," he mock-clapped.
"Guess you rubbed off on me. Literally. You sure you don't remember that night?"
"Wanderer?" Cait asked.
"Codenames? Why d'ya need…"
Deacon's smile was downright charming.
Cait turned to Daye.
"This one of yer Railroad blokes, then?"
"Hey, keep it down a bit, Cait, if you don't mind," Deacon said. "Lot of folks round here just itching to pull up a tie from that train track."
"How d'ya know me name?"
"Oh, I know a lot about you. I know it takes you about eight beers before you start to get tipsy, and I know you don't like cleaning your sawed-off after a fight, and I know you puked behind a bush from a bit of Psycho withdrawal this morning. You should really think about quitting, by the way. That stuff's no good for you."
Cait was fuming.
"Uh, what he means is, yeah, he's a spy for the Railroad," Daye whispered, placing a hand on Deacon's shoulder kind of protectively. "It's his job to get intel on people and shit – even if those people don't want to be fucking spied on. Hint hint."
Deacon shrugged. "Hey, it's a living."
"Why in bloody fuck are ya followin' us around, then? The fuck we gotta do with the Railroad or whatever? Don't you self-righteous pricks only jerk off synths or robots or whatever?"
"We're interested in particularly… influential people. People who like to stir things up, you could say."
Daye frowned. "You mean you got put on watchdog duty after I left."
"I guess you could say that."
A silence settled between the two, painfully uncomfortable. Daye still had his hand on Deacon's shoulder.
"Look, man… I didn't mean for things to go this way, alright?"
"Well what way did you mean for them to go?"
Daye winced a little at the blistering harshness in Deacon's voice. He gave a quick glance in Cait's direction, as if worried she might overhear something she shouldn't.
"Look, can we talk about this later? Or somewhere else?"
"No, I'm pretty okay with right here, right now."
Daye sighed. "I don't know Deek, I just… I don't know. I get caught up in things sometimes, you know that."
"I got a bad habit of just… fucking things up when things are going too well. It's like… it's like, I feel like I need to be the first to mess it up, because then at least I know when it's coming, you know? Then no one can get the jump on me. No one can screw around with me if I screw around with them first."
Deacon frowned. "Huh. Not sure I ever heard you so candid before, Wanderer. You sure you're not pulling my leg again?"
"You got me, Dee. I'm actually a raging homosexual and I've been in love with you from the start."
"Well, that's obvious."
But Deacon smiled a little.
"Yeah. After you, uh… after that last stunt with the Brotherhood, Dez, she didn't trust me much. Thought bringing you aboard was some 'obvious grand miscalculation' on my part. Said she 'couldn't trust my judgement' for a while. Took me out of the heavies and back into recon."
"Shit, man, I'm sorry."
"Nah, you know, it's not all doom and gloom. I don't have to worry about bringing along stimpaks much anymore, or a veritable smorgasbord of weapons. Man, things were easier when I used you as a pack mule. Back into my disguises again, which is a-okay with me."
"Right, what's with the hairdo, man?" Daye smirked, ruffling up Deacon's perfect coif. "You look like Elvis, and not the hot fifties Elvis, I mean the fat seventies jumpsuit Elvis."
"Hey, hey, woah man, hands off the 'do. You know how long this took to get right?"
"It's still not right, not unless you're going for that sexual predator look."
"Well, maybe I am."
"Then you're killing it, Dee."
"Thanks, I aim to please. And sexually creep on people, I guess."
Daye chuckled a bit, then sobered up a little. He draped his arm across the back of Deacon's chair, leaning close to the guy. "Look, man… are we good?"
"Pfft. I don't know if we're ever going to be good. But yeah, I'll try manifest the dreams of throttling you out of my subconscious. You know I sometimes sleepwalk."
"Sure, if you want to call me catching you jerking off to the Starlet Sniper from that Grognak comic sleepwalking."
"Hey, a man's got needs. I'm not even ashamed of that."
"Well, you should be. Look, I gotta take a piss," he said, getting up from his chair with a groan. "I'll be back in a bit. You want a drink, then? Dirty Wastelander?"
"Ouch, no need to be rude."
"Fuck you. You want one or not?"
"You know me so well."
"'Nother pale, then."
"Got it," he said. "Now, don't you two go and fall in love while I'm gone, 'cause I'm not really into threesomes."
"Got it, captain."
And Daye left, winding through the growing crowd of the growing dusk.
Deacon ran his fingers through his hair, attempting to straighten out the damage Daye had done.
"So," he smiled charmingly. "Got the hang of the Railroad yet? We're just one big dysfunctional family. With guns."
"Sure. Look, I don't really give a shit what you or Daye did, or anythin' this Railroad does, but just leave me the fuck alone, bub," she hissed. "I ain't too keen on bein' followed around and spied on, ya know."
Deacon smirked. "What, you afraid I'm watching when you screw a gate guard in the night?"
Cait blushed. "No, I just –"
"Because, despite what you may think about me being a – well, a creep, or a 'sexual predator' or whatever, I'm not really interested what you do in your downtime alone. I'm more interested in what Wanderer's doing."
"Simple. It's like I said – we're only interested in influential people. And Wanderer – well, you know."
"So what exactly do ya do? Like, you can't just be tailin' him twenty-four seven for shits 'n giggles, can ya?"
"Well, usually it's spa days and macrame, but hey, I'm always up for some mayhem."
Cait pinched her nose. She was getting tired of the way this guy talked, chasing his tail like a dog, how little he said with so many words. It was exhausting.
So she switched gears.
"I heard Daye was playin' both you and the Brotherhood," she said slyly. "Heard he was on your side and theirs. Blowin' shit up for you, disarmin' bombs for them. That true?"
Deacon, to his credit, seemed entirely unperturbed by this. He crossed his arms and smiled.
"Hey, you sure you don't want to join us? Could always use a few more spies in the ranks."
"No thanks, I'd rather bash some heads in. I ain't about all that sneaky shite."
"Fair enough. Definitely have some openings in the heavies, if you're interested."
"That true, then?"
"Is what true?"
Cait grit her teeth. "What I just fuckin' said."
"Bashing heads in? Yeah, always on the lookout for more guns. You good with your gun?"
"I'm gonna take that as a yes, then."
Deacon smirked and shook his head. "I'm not at liberty to say."
"You don't gotta. It's written all over yer smug fuckin' face."
"You know, I pride myself on my perfect poker face. What a blow to my ego."
"You know what?" she hissed, far more venom in her voice than she intended "I think he did. I think he was diddlin' both you and that Danse guy at once. Sleepin' with the both of ya. Did he sell ya any old-world weapons, too? Things buried beneath a certain Minuteman castle? Did ya see any raiders usin' the same guns?"
Deacon was stone-faced, so Cait pushed on.
"No wonder this Dez didn't trust ya – fallin' in with Daye, of all fuckin' people – hoo boy. What a colossal fuck-up. What an enormous bungle. Can't trust the cunt far as you can throw 'im. Only a fuckin' moron would do somethin' like that."
Then what does that make you, Cait?
Shut up, conscience.
"Only a fuckin' moron would think Daye was out for anybody but himself. You got played, Mr. Spy-Man," she laughed cruelly. "So fuckin' played, and you know it. You fuckin' know it. But you can't admit it, can you? Else you'd be wrong, right? So yer tailin' us to find somethin' – anythin' – that proves you were right all along, that Nate, and everythin' he ever did to ya, might've meant somethin' more'n just the absolutely monstrous bastard that he is. Because maybe you're a bit of a bastard too. Am I right?"
Deacon just stared at her like he did before. Stared, and nothing more.
Then the ghost of a smirk worked it's way onto his face.
"You sure you don't want to join us?"
Part Two: In Which Cait Does a 180 and Definitely Wants to Murder Daye
Cait and Deacon and Daye drank late into the night, Gwinnett after Gwinnett, Dirty Wastelander after Dirty Wastelander, joke after joke after joke (on their part). Man, if Cait wasn't so sure Daye was fucking Mac, she might've been convinced he really was sucking this guy's dick, the way they bantered and bounced off each other, like lovestruck boys at a godawful reunion. It was almost nauseating.
Patio lanterns flickered on at dusk, the little lights above illuminating the congested square in their ruddy glow. More and more people flocked in: sand-baked caravanners, aching caravan guards, hoarse, crusty stallmen and women. No sign of raiders, Cait noticed – apparently the outpost didn't allow them after dusk, Daye said, which was smart, they always got too fucking rowdy anyways.
As Cait was wont to do on drunken nights such as these, she pried herself from her chair at one point or another, wandering away from the two loverboys, mingling with the men of the town. Fuck, there were some right characters here, she thought – guys who spent all their lives on the road, who never stayed in one place more than a week. Cait sort of wished she had the balls, in all honestly, to just… up and leave the Commonwealth. She didn't know why she couldn't. Maybe a sort of morbid curiosity at seeing how Daye's antics played out.
Yeah. That must be it.
And, sooner or later, after she tickled the balls of a chem-dealer enough to get a tube of Psycho to jam in her arm, she managed to schmooze her way into the pants of a young caravan guard, fresh from his first route, he said, still green and wet behind the ears. Still too young to realise this was probably a mistake.
She stumbled through an alleyway, hand-in-hand with the guard, laughing and squinting at the lights. They turned a corner, then another, and then –
He had a woman pinned up against a sheetmetal wall, kissing her neck as she threw back her head with a downright shameless moan. His hands were dangerously high up her thighs, fingers splayed across the jeans of her ass, kneading her flesh in time with his kisses, in time with his hips grinding against her pelvis.
He looked up.
Lips swollen, face flushed, scar glinting in the little lights, eyes hazy with lust and alcohol. He blinked.
By then, Cait had already slunk through the next alleyway, dragging the caravan guard behind her.
She never fucked someone so angrily in all her shitty life.
A/N: Deacon, my sneaky little sonofabitch . At last we meet.
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