Burnt

A Fallout: New Vegas Fanfic by Monica/The King's Lover

A/N: I've decided to make this oneshot into a series of oneshots! Here is the synopsis for this chapter: "One Shot / F!Courier x Boone / Deep within Vault 22, Lucielle and Boone must discover how to complete their quest without being burned by an explosion or each other. Possible 'There Stands the Grass' quest spoilers."

Disclaimer: Fallout: New Vegas = Bethesda and others, not me.


"I need you to stay here," Lucielle told Boone flatly as she pulled her flamethrower, which she had lovingly named "Joan's Revenge," - "Joanie," for short, over her shoulder and into her hands. She always marveled at how cool the metal felt on her skin, even when blistering flames came souring out of the one end. She made a quick check of the fuel. It was a little low, but it was enough to get the job done. Any would be enough.

"Why?" Boone said simply. She looked at him. Even through his dark sunglasses, she could tell his gaze was fixed on Joanie.

Lucielle shrugged, feeling a little self-conscious suddenly. It wasn't like Boone to question her decisions. In fact, in all their weeks together touring the Mojave, he had done nothing but silently support her.

Boone didn't say more, but the weight of his stare was heavy. He didn't approve. But they did not have time to argue. Or not argue. Or have a staring contest. Even as they stood there, Keeley was pumping flammable gas through the vents of Vault 22, floor five. Lucy had to do her end of the bargain and ignite the fumes. It was the only way to completely destroy the spores that were corrupting every living thing in the vault.

"Just stay here," Lucielle told him, as she looked back to her weapon. In the control room, where you will be safe, she added mentally. She made sure Joanie was in high working order. All the appropriate hoses and nozzles seemed to be attached correctly. She double-checked, and tripled checked just to be sure. Anything to distract herself from the fact that Boone had not yet turned away. Then she said, "Keep the door closed behind me."

She stood to leave. He moved quickly and caught her elbow before she could reach the door.

"No," he told her. There was no emotion in his voice, but his grip on her was firm and unyielding.

She stared at his offending hand incredulously. Never had he taken such actions against her. He rarely had an opinion on anything un-Legion related. Besides, she just wanted him to be safe; she was not leaving him behind. Or was there something more to it than that, she wondered. Perhaps he did not agree with her course of action at all.

"You think we shouldn't destroy these spores?" she asked, not raising her line of sight from his hand.

"What?" Boone asked, surprised. His hand retracted in a start. "That's not…" His voice trailed, and he growled a little. He sounded frustrated, but Lucy knew better than to assume that was the case. Boone never showed that much emotion. Finally, he said, "Let me do it."

Lucielle dared a glance in his direction to find him staring at a fixed point on the ground a few feet from him. When she followed his gaze, she saw nothing of interest.

She was beginning to get upset with him. Did he not think her capable? "I can do this myself," she said defensively, raising her chin just a little. "I know my way around a flamethrower."

"I know that," he told her.

She frowned, watching his emotionless face in disbelief. If her own skills were not in question, then did he not think Joanie capable? That was just as insulting. "I keep all my weapons well-maintained." If anyone should have known that, it was Boone, after their many trips to the salvage lot for repairs.

His jaw locked, and … Did she just see a muscle twitch? She blinked, certain she imagined it. Boone didn't get angry. He turned to her in a snap-motion.

She thought he might indeed be upset, but his voice came out level. "All of floor five has been flooded with flammable gas. If you use your flamethrower, you will die."

Lucy stared at him for a long moment, realizing how wrong her earlier assumptions had been. He had not doubted her abilities in the slightest. Still, it felt odd to think that Boone was actually concerned for her well being, when he so rarely seemed to care about anything.

"Her name is Joanie," she said weakly, on reflex. People were always forgetting the names of her weapons - well, except for those select few that she made certain remembered. But those thoughts were secondary to Boone in that moment. He wanted her to live. She shook her head, trying to focus. "I'll find a way to stay safe. I always do." She tried to add a little smile with her words, one of her signature man-snares that had never failed her before. Boone stared right through it until it faded.

"Use a mine," he said.

Lucielle patted her pockets on instinct, but quickly remembered, "We used all those earlier." She knew that before she prepped Joanie. Boone was making her nervous. For the first time since entering the vault, she was beginning to think that maybe she should be nervous.

"Dynamite," he said.

"We sold that for repairs," she replied.

"A grenade, then," he said.

Lucielle shrugged. Those were gone too. Joanie was the only thing that would work. Boone's mouth was a hard line; he knew it too.

"Let's leave," he told her after a moment.

Lucy let out a loud laugh. Boone never backed down. Though under his hard stare, she quickly stifled herself. "You… You're serious?"

He paused for a moment, saying nothing, then nodded.

Lucy was so surprised with this change of his character that she very nearly agreed. "I made a promise to Keeley. The fumes are flooding this level. I can't just walk away."

He didn't say anything, just watched her. That was the Boone she knew.

"I'll just be outside this door. I should be safe from there." She stepped through the doorway to show him physically where she would stand. Eyeing up her situation, she could see the vent around the corner. If she was quick – very quick, she could duck behind the corner and be fine. Unless the fumes had spread to that part of the corridor in so much time. She shook her head. It was too late to think about such things. This was the plan. There was no time to think too hard about every possible circumstance.

"Lucielle," Boone said from within the control room. He had not moved.

"It will be fine. Don't worry," Lucy told him with a shrug and a smirk. "What could possibly go wrong?" When he opened his mouth to reply, she cut him off quickly, "Don't answer that." After one quick, apologetic smile, she closed the door behind her. "Bye, Boone." Just in case it is goodbye.

Lucielle stepped from the safety of the doorway to have a clear view of her target. The distance seemed further physically than when she eyed it before. Regardless, she had made a promise, made a plan. There was no backing down.

She leveled Joanie, took a long, steady breath and held it. In an instant, she heard a noise, the swiping sound of a door sliding opened, but it was much too late to react. Her finger on the trigger had already pulled when Boone reached for her. Joanie had breathed her fire toward the vent as Lucy's longtime companion yanked her toward the door.

Joanie hit the ground in a clatter as an eruption of fire roared from the vent, immediately igniting the fire in the corridor, not stopping at the corner.

Lucy's arm behind her tingled and then burned, each small hair feeling as if on fire. The small darts of pain dotted up her arm to the shoulder. For one short, terrifying moment, Lucielle was certain that she was going to die.

Boone pulled Lucy into the control room and twisted to smash his hand against the door controls. The fire licked at his back as the door slid closed, and he tripped forward. Lucielle, already off-balance from her aided trip across the hallway, could not steady him, and they both fell, one atop the other, to the ground.

With eyes held tight, Lucy clung to Boone. Preparing for the worst, she awaited the inevitable. Because of Boone's actions, the fire was surely to kill them both. She waited a long moment, her heartbeat thundering. Another minute passed. And then another.

The pain shooting through her arm let her know she wasn't dead. As did the heart that was beating against her chest as fast as her own but did not belong to her. The warm breath on her face, the muscled legs tangled with hers, the hard body that weighed down on her thin frame…

Her eyes snapped open. Boone hovered over her, his beret and sunglasses blown away. She almost didn't recognize him, and yet never had a hint of a worry for her safety. In fact, in that moment, she never felt safer.

His look was transfixed on her face. No, he looked beyond her, to a place she could never hope to see. He didn't move. Lucy wondered if he couldn't. Not until the memory played out and he remembered who and what he was.

For the briefest of moments, Lucielle wished he was thinking about her when he leaned in to kiss her. The pain in her arm be damned, she wanted to kiss him on the floor of the control room without abandon. He had saved her life, but more than that, he had been a constant companion for the past several weeks, holding her up against despair more than he knew.

But he wasn't thinking about her. And he never would.

"Boone," she said when his lips were a hair away from hers. His wife would have never called him that. It broke the trance, and he looked at her as if for the first time. Confusion darkened his eyes, and he rolled away from her.

Lucy stood quickly, ignoring the pain in her arm and the sudden empty feeling that washed over her. "We should return to Keeley," she said with more resolve than she felt. Her hands were shaking. She needed a drink. And a bed off the floor. And a man who was warm. Without looking behind her, she left the room. She frowned when she found Joanie, broken, in the corner she had hoped to keep her safe.

"I've got your back," Boone said from inside, his usual emotionless wall refitted firmly in place. Lucy wished she could say the same for herself.

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