Title: Mechanical Saint
Pairing: Winthrop/Vault Dweller
Summary: She fixed his heaters. And that was pretty much all it took.
She'd fixed his heaters.
She had fixed his heaters.
Winthrop wasn't sure what to think about that. He'd figured the smoothskin for trouble the second she's sauntered in with that cocksure grin and Frankenstein gun strapped to her back, but he hadn't figured her for this. It was one thing for a smoothskin to come inside and keep their opinions to themselves, but to fix his heaters?
The vaultie cocked an eyebrow at him from where she perched on his—his—ladder, a wrench in her hand and a hammer in her back pocket, ductwork purring like a kitten by her head.
"Your vents were rattling," she said, something like a smile playing truant on the corners of her lips. "We had the same problem in the vault. It's always something, huh?"
Winthrop nodded, still unsure just what the hell he was supposed to make of that. She'd fixed his heaters. No one fixed his heaters. Hell—he didn't fix his own damn heathers. There just wasn't enough scrap and he could jerry-rig it but the jerry-rig only lasted so long. And this… this smoothskin had just waltzed through with the rare as hell right part and fixed his heaters.
Slowly, Winthrop smiled.
"Yeah. It's getting so I'm patching my patches lately. Where'd you get the part, anyway? It doesn't look like scrap."
The woman nodded, that secret little smile still twitching at the corners of her lips and eased down to sit on the last rung of his ladder, the hammer in her pocket falling unheeded to the floor.
"I break into the old vaults and tear their ventilation down," she said, looking sheepish and amused. "Pre-war ductwork's pretty standard. It comes in handy."
Winthrop laughed and agreed without quite knowing what he was saying. Watching her watching him, he realized with something of a pleasant shock, he recognized the look in her eyes.
"You uh… up for a trade?" he asked, feeling vaguely like a goddamned teenager again, but returning her look just the same and reveling in the novelty of being somehow attractive to something other than Barrow's goddamned ferals. "We don't have a hell of a lot of caps, but I can trade you medical supplies. Figure that's more useful than ductwork in your line of work."
She laughed and it was not attractive in the least, but somehow he found her unabashed humor charming.
"I'm retiring from my line of work. Three Dog thinks I'm dead anyway. And you don't look a gift horse in the mouth, whatever a horse is."
The woman laughed again—or started to—a yawn erupting through the middle. Winthrop frowned, his elation at the look fading. He'd known better than to think it'd come to anything. But he'd hoped for another fifteen minutes of awkward flirting at least.
Then again, maybe it was better this way.
"You should probably head up to Carol's before you drop," he said and stood, resting a tentative hand on her shoulder just to see how she'd react. "I'd hate to have to carry you."
But the woman didn't flinch away, only giggled in a way that did strange things to his stomach and stood, using his shoulder for support. Three Dog, she'd said. Winthrop vaguely remembered hearing something about the Saint of the Wastes or something similar. Funny, there wasn't a doubt in his mind this was the woman he'd been speaking of, but she didn't look like much of a saint. More like an exhausted fixer of unfixable heaters.
Winthrop smiled slightly, wondering what kind of person managed to keep such sweet optimism in the middle of the wastes and walked her to the door. She nodded at him as she stepped outside, murmured something vaguely appropriate and fixed the look on him again—this one tinged ever so slightly with regret.
"See you around, kid," he said, thinking in another lifetime and watched her trudge up the stairs with the world on her shoulders before he closed the door.
Nice kid, he decided, regarding his empty, built-for-one bed with resignation. Misguided, but nice. Probably used that look of hers on everyone just to be fair. It'd figure.
Weeks passed. For the first time in years, not all of the vents were hanging by metallic threads from the ceiling or rattling like jet-engines. And slowly, without all of them threatening to implode at the same time, Winthrop was able to get the air conditioner working again. It leaked like a sieve, of course, and for whatever reason the temperature in the Ninth Circle wouldn't rise above 60 without the heaters, but it was a blessed relief from the wastes.
And the vents in his room were silent.
It was strange sleeping without the constant noise. And stranger still that the vaultie had chosen his vents out of all the fragmenting vents to patch together with what few chunks of ductwork she happened to be carrying around with her.
For the hundredth time since she'd left, Winthrop wondered just what that kid was up to.
Winthrop didn't see her when she returned, too busy dealing with another of Barrow's feral-containment-crises. He didn't see her the day after that when the kid apparently let it slip that she and Gob were friends and Carol kept her busy for the rest of the day with a million and three questions. It was the third day, when Azhrukhal turned up dead, that Winthrop found suddenly he was the one everyone expected to do something about it.
And it was funny, he grumbled to himself as Quinn dragged him out of his blessedly cool and silent room, how now things like this were his problem with that rat bastard dead.
He'd never liked Azhrukhal. The man had been a swindling jackass from the day he'd set foot in Underworld and decided he'd founded it—never mind the twenty or so ghouls living there already. He didn't know what the hell Quinn or anyway expected him to do about it. If Barrows couldn't patch him back together, what'd they think he could do? Make the man a cyborg?
Shoving open the door to the Ninth Circle, a list of all the more important things he could be doing running behind his eyes, Winthrop found whatever it was he'd been expecting was not this. Azhrukhal lay on the floor of the bar with nothing of any real importance missing, his head having taken the brunt of the shotgun spray. Charon and Three Dog's supposed saint sat sulking at opposite tables, very obviously refusing to make eye-contract. Seeing that Azhrukhal's rarely vocal bodyguard was decidedly not in the mood to speak and that asking him anything would have roughly the same effect as talking to the wall behind him, Winthrop turned and fixed the vaultie with an arched eyebrow.
"Son of a bitch looked up my dress," she snapped with a look that dared him to suggest it wasn't a shooting offense.
Winthrop opened his mouth to reply and then, taking notice of the dress for the first time, shut it again. It wasn't the dress. Not really. He wasn't the sort of guy that preferred his women dressed in any way, shape or form. But to see her—to really look at her without the bulk of her armor or the grease and grime from crawling through god only knew what…
He suspected Azhrukhal had died a happy man.
Dragging his mind away from the curve of her hip, Winthrop forced it with no small effort to the matter at hand. Namely that the vaultie—Rosie, he reminded himself, and had to forcefully ignore her breasts—only had room on her belt for the scoped .44 she carried, whereas the neck of Azhrukhal's best suit was pock-marked with buckshot.
"So why did Charon shoot him?"
Charon glanced his way from where he hunched in the corner like some kind of weird ass gargoyle and growled something that sounded indistinctly like, "Goddamned evil son of a bitch." Rosie only shrugged.
"Because he wanted to? I shot that asshole where it counts. Apparently that's also where he kept his paperwork. The freak."
Winthrop blinked, tried to parse that out and caught sight of the spreading bloodstain on the front of Azhrukhal's pants. Ah. Well. He'd wondered before why the man had never lost Charon's contract to the number of pickpockets that had wandered through. That was one mystery solved. Though knowing now Charon's contract was ruined certainly didn't make him especially comfortable. From what he'd seen the few times Azhrukhal had let him off his leash the man was volatile. But then, Azhrukhal was a cunning bastard. No telling what had and hadn't been planned.
"Well, Azhrukhal deserved it," he decided at last, keeping one eye on Charon as a safety precaution. He didn't know his poor, remaining synapses could take much more of that dress. "But don't go shooting anyone else, alright? Or I'll have to have do something about it and God knows I have enough to do already."
She smiled at him, slowly, her fading ire replaced with a mischievous look.
"Azhrukhal died and made you sheriff?" she asked.
Winthrop grinned and allowed himself one last glance at the curve of her body in that dress, thinking of how many things he had to do, and just what else he'd rather be doing.
"Yeah. Something like that."
It was nearly midnight when he heard the soft tap on his door. Winthrop jerked awake at the sound, realizing as he stared down at the conglomeration of metal in his hand, he'd been dozing over his workbench for the past hour. Setting the half-built component down, he stood and made his way to the door, expecting to find Barrows attempting to keep two glowing ferals from eating the furniture. He was not, at this point in the night, ready to find the vaultie on the other side, watching him with a slight smile and a look that went well past bedroom eyes.
"You still looking to trade for scrap?" she asked. "Because I've got a deal in mind if you're uh… interested."
Winthrop stared at her, wondering if by some weird twist of the mind he was still dreaming. But no—if he were dreaming, he wouldn't be standing there like an idiot in the doorway to his own room, suit half off and tied around his waist and that was a stupid thing to be self-conscious about, but the way she was looking at him… Fuck, he felt like he had skin.
"Why don't you come in?" he managed and it was his last coherent thought, the vaultie pressing herself up against him no sooner than the door had closed. And there was a mouth on his, soft and warm and so damn smooth and he couldn't concentrate but it didn't seem to matter anymore. Not with the vaultie—with Rosie—pressed flush against him like she couldn't get close enough, fingers working at the knot above his belt.
And god those fingers—hard to concentrate with her mouth on his, those long, clever fingers stripping off his clothes, but the straps of her dress slipped from her shoulders easily enough and he was so close to finding skin, but it'd been years since he'd had to work a bra. He paused, faltering, though one hand was still curled around her waist, stroking patterns on her skin. She looked up at him, the beginnings of a frown marring her pretty face and giggled when she realized his delay.
The bra hit the floor soon after and she hit the bed, dragging Winthrop after her. And there was really not enough room for two, but he had just enough to keep his balance and still trail kisses down her neck, one hand kneading her breast. She groaned at that; a soft, kittenish sound that sent all the blood in his body rushing downward and he growled as she pulled him up for another kiss, nearly tipping them both off the bed in the process. She was faster than him though, pushing herself up and over until somehow their positions reversed and she was on top of him, grinning like an imp and gloriously naked.
He couldn't think, couldn't even begin to form a coherent thought with her looking at him like he was some kind of god and he was only vaguely aware of his jumpsuit hitting the floor before she'd moved again, positioning herself on top of him. For a moment, their eyes met, mischievous and challenging and Winthrop smirked back at her, thinking he could take anything she had to give. But then she shifted, sliding down onto him all at once and fuck. He groaned, head hitting the pillow with a resounding thud as she giggled again, low and breathless and without giving him more than a moment to catch his breath began to move. He almost whimpered, hands clenching on her hips, pulling her down and fuck he wanted her bad but it'd been too long since the last time and he was damn near shaking with the effort of keeping his climax at bay.
Minutes drifted by in throbbing, desperate eternities and Winthrop was shaking now, but Rosie was calling his name—his name—clamped down like a vice around him and he was lost. He bucked up into her, wrenching her down and onto him and as close as he could as she gasped his name again and again, interlaced with fuck and oh god, yes until they both collapsed, spent and sweaty in a tangle on the bed.
"Wow," she murmured at last, and Winthrop laughed, feeling twenty years younger and more like himself than he had in years.
"Any more nights like this," he told her, pressing a kiss into her hair, "and we won't need the heaters."