Wishful Thinking

Summary: Gob loves her more than anything, but he's afraid to hope.

Warnings: Angst liek woah.

Author's Note: I'm actually incredibly cheerful. Which makes it all the more strange that I find myself writing this. Probably an antidote to the fluff that is All The Little Pieces… and pretend the Megaton house comes with a bathroom. It really bothers me that it doesn't.

—0—

Gob loves her so damn much it hurts.

Sometimes he wakes up at night just to watch her—just to see she's still there, curled into his side with an arm thrown around his waist. Some nights he wakes up and he's positive it was all a dream because there's no way in hell she'd crawl into bed with him night after night. And night after night, he makes sure the lights are off before she comes to bed because it's one thing to say it doesn't matter, but it's another thing entirely to kiss a corpse.

But night after night she laughs at him and turns the lights back on and he feels like crying as he pushes into her, thinking that this can't be real, it's too damn perfect to be real, but savoring it just the same.

He wishes more than anything he were brave enough to say I love you. He wishes he could just hold her close and tell her—tell her everything she means to him, tell her that she's his world and that he'd do absolutely anything to keep her. But that's just it—he knows damn well there's nothing in the world he could do to keep her. Because one day his novelty will wear off and she'll find somebody she can look at and laugh with and he'll have to let her go. And when that time comes, he doesn't want her looking back—doesn't want to know he gave her everything he had and it wasn't enough.

He wouldn't blame her. Gob knows what he is and what he isn't and it haunts him every time he tries to say it, the words sticking in his throat. And she looks up at him with that smile of hers and twines her fingers through his and just waits. Waits for him to say whatever it is he's going to say like she has all the time in the world just to stand there with her hand in his—like it doesn't matter that he's rotting from the outside in or that he can't give her the things her lover should.

There's never been a time in his life he hated what he was more than he does now. Because when she smiles at him with that look in her eyes, he wants to be the man she sees. Or, at least, he wants to be the man he was. And yeah, maybe he wasn't the best looking guy in the world back then, but at least he wouldn't have felt so damn guilty waking up next to her every morning.

He finds himself waiting for the day when she slips into bed without turning on the lights. Waiting for the day when she can't look him in the eyes… or the day she doesn't come home at all. And sometimes he wishes it would just happen already because he wants her to be happy—really happy—and he knows it'll break his fucking heart but he thinks of all the things she's missing with him and feels like the scum of the earth.

Then again, maybe she's not missing anything at all. Maybe she has a lover somewhere she sees on the weeks she spends wandering the wastes. Maybe he is everything Gob isn't… and maybe he loves her.

Gob's chest burns at the thought and he closes his eyes, curling closer to the pillow he holds against his chest in her absence. He could let her go if he knew she'd be happy—could share her if that's what it took—but dear god he doesn't want to think about her loving some other man.

At the foot of the bed the dog perks up, tail wagging as it stares at the door. Gob perks up too, listening as she greets the robot and drops something heavy on the floor before trudging off to bath.

He thinks about getting up to join her. Thinks about all the times she's tugged him in after her clothed or not and fell asleep in his arms dropping Rad-X in the water. Thinks about the way her body feels pressed against his with only water between them and closes his eyes again. He doesn't want to bother her. She'll be exhausted and irritable straight back from the wastes and she'll come to bed when she's ready. Gob shifts over so that there's room for her, returning her pillow to its place next to his. For awhile he lays there, listening to the sound of her shifting and the creaking protests of the pipes before finally he slips into sleep.

*

He wakes to the feeling of her arms sliding around his waist as she settles in next to him, pressing her cheek to the bare skin of his back.

"G'night, baby," she whispers through the dark and he realizes she's trying not to wake him. "I love you."

And suddenly he feels like he's falling and he can't get enough air but it doesn't matter. Nothing in the world matters but her arms around him and her heat against his back and those words hanging in the air. She loves him. And logically, he knows this doesn't change anything. He still looks like a walking corpse and she's still the most goddamned beautiful creature he's ever seen but she loves him. And he knows some day she'll fall in love with someone else and leave him behind. But for now—for today—she loves him.

Gob smiles and twines his fingers through hers, squeezing her hand a little where it rests on his stomach and feels like he's on top of the fucking world.

"Love you too, kid," he whispers back.

And he means it with everything he has.