Note: Ahem. This fic is rated M for language and mature situations. I haven't written the whole story yet so updates might be slow but I'd say it's around 10+ chapters I have no idea. I haven't visited this fandom for a while and dammit, my writing has really turned rusty (I am so ashamed). But anyway, I don't freakin' own Fallout. I'm just another fan and ...this fic has eventual Butch/Harkness. So, yeah. Onwards.
If anyone asked him if there was any trouble in Rivet City, he'd answer 'Sure. You can find the barber in the Muddy Rudder. Down the stairwell to your left.' Because, he had never met anyone as troublesome as Butch DeLoria.
Not that he was 'difficult' or 'easy' or anything remotely close to an adjective that meant the same, but the barber; he was in a category of his own. Like a Deathclaw who had yao guai tendencies, or Shrapnel trying to be like Flak. They were so similar yet not quite the same – And Harkness realised he was incredibly bullshit at trying to wax poetic. That was because he wasn't programmed to do so. He only worked with facts and logic and waxing poetic was something so human that his wired side hadn't quite gotten the grasp of yet.
He glanced at the sky, noted its exact tinge of blue, R224 G243 B214, and inhaled the fetid air of the Wastes before resuming his thoughts.
From the first step on that rusted bridge in stolen boots, a cocky smirk pasted on his face as he twirled the switchblade around his fingers, Butch looked like trouble. After observing many humans and learning from them, Harkness could tell there was something different in the way Butch carried himself. It was grating –yes. He moved like someone who thought he knew better. He introduced himself as a true Tunnel Snake, whatever that meant, and proceeded to ask about 'the other asshat in a Vault 101 jumpsuit'.
Sure enough, within a week, he had caused five of the Rivet City citizens, including himself, to be thrown overboard for brawling.
Of course, many things had happened before then; many insignificant smaller things, like Flak's bottle of whiskey gone missing from his grip as he slept, or Tammy's watered down beer finished before she even took a sip. These things were insignificant because Harkness never drank and because these people might have been too drunk to notice that they had actually, finished their own drinks. But then, there were more serious things like 10mm bullets swiped from Flak and Shrapnel's corner. Or even an old Rob Co jumpsuit from Bannon's shelf turning up in Seagrave's locker. Yet even more serious and not so serious at the same time was when Seagrave shoved his motorcycle helmet into Harkness' arms to complain about the ant's antennae stuck onto the helmet's visor. He was about to chalk up the juvenile act to the children when Seagrave mentioned that his helmet was inside his locked up room the whole time. And looking at the children, Bryan, James and CJ, Harkness doubted they were skilful enough to pick locks.
Everything pointed to the barber and his skilful hands. But before he could even confront said barber, Harkness was called to settle the dispute outside the Muddy Rudder. He found Sister, Shrapnel and the barber fighting and bleeding on the floor. It took him and two other guards to haul them up the stairwell to throw them overboard – just to cool them off before Harkness tried to figure out what the hell was going on.
What the hell was going on?
Shoving the barber against the railing, the snake at the back of his jacket glared up at Harkness and he felt the other slip away to reverse their positions. Butch had Harkness pinned against the railing of the bridge for a moment. The petty criminal had this air of someone who engaged in mutual fist fights often. Harkness saw those lips curl into a self-satisfied grin and it took just one more punch across the jaw before the barber tripped into the water. There was a long and loud curse before a resounding splash as he submerged into the green irradiated liquid. Butch had almost managed to pull Harkness down into the water with him but metal was heavier than flesh. So, when the other man fell overboard, Harkness slipped and heaved against the railing but did not follow him into the water. The front of his armour fell open; the sneaky bastard managed to rip one of the buckles off it.
Not too long ago, they had another of his kind; only that Vault kid was searching for his father and ended up saving the whole Wasteland but his father. Somewhere along the way, the kid saved Harkness as well. He could easily trust that other Vault kid. But not this one. Harkness didn't exactly trust this charmer with the silver tongue but the number of people who did, baffled him. Somehow, he even managed to get Lana Danvers rooting for him, saying that he was 'just playing around'. Right, Lana. And all that blood on the floor of the Muddy Rudder was the result of the men 'playing around'. Both she and Vera had rushed on the bridge to stop him from banishing Butch from Rivet City. Then she said 'I owe it to him, Hark.' Asking her what she was talking about made her give Harkness a small smile as she shook her head. She didn't want to tell him. What alarmed him was the way Vera nodded as she said the same thing to him: that they owed something to the barber, that they were indebted to him. In fact, even the two men who were thrown overboard, Shrapnel and Sister, had justified their fighting as 'playin' 'round, Hark' as they climbed back up to the city.
Something wasn't right. They were hiding something. And the barber knew their secrets.
Harkness felt the level of safety in Rivet City lower.
Butch stopped in front of Harkness as he slowly wrung out his wet jacket and ran equally wet fingers through his dark hair. Instead of twirling his switchblade, he was twirling the ripped off buckle from Harkness' uniform around his fingers. Harkness had a feeling he wouldn't get that buckle back. Butch smirked. Eyeing Harkness with something like a challenge, Butch leaned so close his lips touched the rim of Harkness' ear.
"How's your wiring doing, tin can?"
The whispered words shut down Harkness' entire system for a split second. The barber knew his secret.
And unlike the other Vault kid, this one wanted something in return for keeping his mouth shut.