So I don't own anything remotely related to Fallout, that's Bethesda's jive right there. Hell, I don't actually even own my car. So here we've got how I imagined Gob's departure from Underworld going, with a little extra. There's CarolxGreta, but only tiny smidges here and there. Just warning ya'll.
The traveler was a smoothskin. Pretty rare considering the location, but all the same, a customer was a customer.
Carol took note as he carefully set his handful of caps on top of the counter. She wasn't surprised, nor did she really mind. Most people couldn't manage physical contact, even those brave enough to withstand spending the night in a ghouls' colony. It was something she had grown used to over the years. Taking his money, she smiled politely, wishing him an enjoyable stay. A brief mumbling was the man's reply before he stalked off to the circular table in the connecting room.
Greta strode in a few seconds later; the usual scowl that graced her face had doubled in size. She disliked late night check-ins. Once spotting Carol standing behind the counter, the scowl faded, replaced with a gentle smile reserved only for her.
"Got a customer for you."
"I know. Saw him coming in here while I was on break." She leaned over the counter to quickly drop a kiss against Carol's forehead before making her way over to the small kitchenette tucked behind a long row of privacy screens.
The doors of the Inn/Diner/Bar opened once more and in shuffled a grinning young man. In his arms was a box filled with various bottles and flasks of different shapes, sizes, and colors. He looked pleased with his package.
"Carol, the new stock's here; Quinn and Willow just brought them in!"
"Great," she pointed in the direction of the man sitting at the table. "Just in time. Could you be a dear, Gob, and take care of him for me? Here, I'll stock the shelves."
"Sure. Oh, and I found something in one of the junk boxes that I thought you might like. I'll give it to you later."
He didn't miss the eager twinkle in her pale blue eyes, even more pronounced with the rims of blackened skin surrounding them.
"Alright. Go on then."
He beamed at her as he set the box on the counter for her. Striding over to the customer he picked up a pad and paper from the shelf. Carol took the box over to the shelves and began sorting them out, absently listening to the young ghoul take the man's order politely.
She'd always found him to be such a sweet boy. When he had first arrived years before, he'd been scared out of his mind. Hell, who wouldn't be? Although he hadn't completely changed at the time, his hair had been falling out in chunks and his skin was already flaking profusely. Gob had told Winthrop he'd heard about Underworld from a group of traveling ghouls, and after noticing that his voice had begun to sound like tin cans skittering over broken pavement he'd come straight away. The others had carefully welcomed him in, trying not to frighten him further. Greta had merely 'hmphed' and turned away; the closest thing to a greeting Gob would receive from her. Glazed light green eyes had then fixed onto Carol, first in fear, and then…helplessness. She'd taken him into her arms then, holding him for the longest time as he sat trembling and rasping in her embrace. It was like that for her too during the first few months of the transformation. Scared to wake up every morning and see what else had rotted away over night.
…Poor Gob could barely stand it the day his nose finally peeled off.
But through all of it, he'd stayed kind and courteous towards Greta and her, even going so far as work for them. He would wait upon the customers, handing them their drinks and food that Greta prepared. It was the perfect set up aside from the almost constant bickering she knew went on between the two. Fortunately they managed to keep their personal lives out of the business affairs.
"Gob, move! You're in my way!"
It was a few hours later before the remaining patrons had either vacated the place or retired to their beds. Carol, Greta and Gob sat huddled together undisturbed, tucked away into a dark corner of the inn. The lights had all been dimmed, leaving only the slight refractions off glass liquor bottles to guide the way around the room. They sat atop smallwooden crates circled around an antique kerosene lamp on the floor. Shadows danced across each face, laying spider-webbed shadows along their forms. Excited, whispery rasps passed between the clustered figures.
"What is it?" Carol leaned forward to get a better look at what the young ghoul was fishing out of his jeans pocket. Withdrawing his hand, Gob produced a glimmering heart shaped necklace. The lamp's orange flame caused the surface to practically glow with warm light. A few smudges and scratches covered the locket, and its chain looked to have been recently welded together, but those things aside…it was breathtaking.
Carol put one hand to her mouth, unable to find the proper words of gratitude. A small gasp from her left betrayed Greta's surprise as well. The locket was held out to her expectantly, just waiting to be taken. She reached for the trinket with her other trembling hand, grasping it with long bony fingers. She almost expected to feel a heartbeat.
"You said you found this in the junk piles?" She almost couldn't believe it. The last time she'd laid eyes on a locket had been back before the bombs fell. She turned her back towards Greta and held it up to her. Her lover took the necklace, gently placing it around Carol's neck while being careful not to shut the clasp on the few remaining wisps of pale blonde hair clinging to her tattered head. It fit loosely around the column of her throat, the locket coming to rest over her heart. She reached one hand up to touch its stained but shinning surface. Moisture formed at the corners of her eyes and she had to blink them away, allowing a few to escape down the flayed plains of her cheeks. "Oh, sweetie, it's perfect."
Gob rubbed his torn hands together while lowering his gaze bashfully. "Just luck that I found it, really. It was a lot dirtier when I got it, and the chain was broken too, but I cleaned it up before I came in." A brief, scratchy laugh rumbled from his chest as he continued. "Even got Cerberus to help me fix the chain with that blowtorch of his."
The smoothskin in the bed next to them stirred gently in his sleep.
The three whispered idly among each other for a few more minutes, finally agreeing to call it a night and get some well deserved rest. Gob stood first, stretching and reaching for the ceiling, his arms and back giving off dull pops and cracks. Carol approached him and embraced him tightly, resting her head along his shoulder. His arms wrapped around her back lovingly and squeezed just as tight. They remained that way for a long moment before finally releasing one another.
The two women headed off for bed, leaving Gob to his own devices. The queen they both slept on resided conveniently behind the check-in desk. There were screens set up along the walls and a recently installed curtain in front of the cash register for an added boost of privacy. Quite cozy, considering the slowly declining state of the museum. Greta had already said her goodnights and was asleep by the time Carol had finished dressing for bed. She removed the locket from around her neck, cradling it in her palms gently once more. It was so fragile looking.
Smiling slightly, she thanked God for sending her such a wonderful "son". After stashing the locket inside the work desk next to their bed, Carol drifted off almost immediately.
The blankets were warm on top of her, cocooning her in a lulled state of consciousness when she finally woke. She didn't want to get up just yet. Instead, she rolled over, throwing her arm out in search of the bed's other patron, only to find the space next to her empty and cold.
Off in the corner, Greta was cursing quietly under her breadth.
Curiously, Carol cracked open one eye. There was Greta, leaning into a corner, looking as if she wanted to simply sink into the wall with all the weight she was forcing into it. Her heels dug into the marble flooring as she folded and refolded her arms across her chest in an uneasy, anxious gesture. Several emotions—anger, regret, sadness, pity—all flashed over her face at once while curses continually ran like a stream from between her lips.
"Sweetie, what's wrong? What time is it?"
Her lover finally looked up from her corner. "Oh, sorry if I woke you. I thought I'd let you sleep in for a while longer. We—" She cut herself off angrily, her voice chocked with wheezes of irregular breaths.
If the world had been one to allow it, Carol was certain that tears would have been rolling down Greta's face.
Her scarred feet touched the floor as she stood from the bed, and were bitten by the cold ground—though the air within the museum remained ever stuffy and hot—causing her to curl her toes and cringe. Their room looked a mess. Here and there, boxes and clothes were scattered upon the ground. Not haphazardly, but precise, as if they had simply been moved around instead of thrown violently.
And then she noticed the cash register.
Screws lay strewn about the currency tray on the ground, like empty bullet casings at a crime scene. The bells had probably been taken out with the pair of pliers that were set next to them on the counter. It had been completely torn open, but with accurate precision and quiet proficiency. She didn't have to look in the tray to know all of the caps would be missing.
Panic seized at her heart, causing the irradiated blood within her veins to rush frantically through them. Carol found herself in front of the desk, tearing through the drawers and groping about desperately.
The drawers were yanked out of there compartments to be dumped unceremoniously onto the floor, spilling what little contents they still held. Her hands dove through the scattered pieces of junk, looking for even the tiniest glimpse of gold. The odds and ends of dull brittle trinketsonly served to further prove that—yes, the desk was indeed void of any sort of jewelry oriented objects. The drawers were each replaced, slamming shut with a series of sharp bangs. Carol sank to the floor, crushed.
She had to find Gob. Had to find him and tell him what had happened to the locket. And there was no telling how put down he would be. After all that work he'd put into fixing it up for her, and it's stolen not even twelve hours later. She should have kept it on.
"He's probably cleaning up the mess out there. This wasn't the only room to get ransacked."
She rose from her spot on the floor, shuffled through the piles of clothes strewn around the room before finding a tattered, green robe and wrapping it tightly about her. There were gaping holes where the pockets should have been, and one of the sleeves was hanging on by a thread, but it was a security blanket more than anything else. And she needed security.
Passing through the curtain doorway was like passing into another world. If she had thought their bedroom was a mess, the commons area was destroyed. It was an orderly destruction though. Again, nothing had been carelessly thrown about in a hasty manner. Bottles from the stock were placed in groups upon the ground, and underneath them, rags and napkins, most likely to muffle the sounds of glass on marble. A quick mental checklist showed that very few had been taken; only the most expensive.
A cool breeze passed through the room, circulating from the open freezer door against the wall. And there was Gob, sitting on his knees in front of it, pulling out soggy containers and melted foodstuffs, placing them into a small box at his side. All while grumbling and cursing under his breath. Carol knew he wasn't throwing the items out (they weren't ruined), just taking them to the larger freezer down in Doc Barrows' place. Mostly used to keep organs and "samples" fresh, it was perfect for refreezing the icy goods. She approached Gob cautiously, her slow steps hesitant and shuffling. Like a zombie. She laughed at the irony of it, unintentionally drawing his gaze towards her.
"I—," she began, but stopped after taking one last sweeping glance of the room.
Running her business gave cause for all three owners to rise earlier than the rest of the patrons. Even when things such as "this" went wrong, the routine was no different. They all remained blissfully (if they were lucky) asleep and unaware of the events that had taken place. She did another mental checklist, counting off the check-ins she had made the night before. There was Patches, who slept soundly in the corner bed, snoring soundly. Another ghoul, Shannon, had taken the bed in the middle. And that one…
Looking at the bunk closest to the circle of crates where she, Gob, and Greta had sat the previous night, Carol found the sheets rumpled and unmade. The pillow had been stripped of its casing and was lying at the foot of the bed.
The human was nowhere to be seen.
A week later, Gob left Underworld, searching for the thief.
…And never came back.
The traveler was a smoothskin.
She was a pretty young thing. Blonde hair, blue-green eyes. The girl had definitely seen the sun; her skin was almost a pure copper tone. She looked harmless, even with the Xuanlong equipped to her back. There was something about the smoothie that stood out though. Besides her friendly demeanor, which in itself was as rare as purified water out in the Wastes, she wore a strange box on her right arm with a fluorescent green display.
And it was playing music.
The girl had walked into the place, tapping her toes to the music emitting from her arm without a care in the world. Twirling and bopping, she'd looked as if she might ask Carol to join in at any second before stopping long enough to ask for a room. And it was about then, as she was handing her caps over—actually handing them to her rather than setting them on thecounter, that Greta came around the corner.
"Carol, where did you put the extra menus?"
The girl stopped suddenly, reaching her free hand to flip off her radio. The silence that came with it was deafening in the spacious marble room. A strange look had come over her; her eyebrows had raised nearly to her hairline and the corners of her mouth were quickly turning upwards. She looked Carol in the eyes, almost searching for something in her pale gaze.
"Your name is Carol?"
"...Why, yes it is."
Apparently finding what she'd been looking for and pleased with her discovery, the girl all-out giggled with joy. A pair of soft, tanned arms were suddenly around her neck, catching the poor ghoul by complete surprise. She couldn't recall the last time anyone—anyone human at least—had initiated her in a hug. The arms held tight for a few more moments before they finally fell away and the girl was once more standing before her grinning like an idiot.
"Have you ever heard of a guy named Gob?"