Aimee rolled over in her small bed, staring up at the ceiling with an exhaustion creeping into the bags under her eyes but she refused to sleep. She only shut them in small trials, and the moment she felt the nightmare inch into her mind, she snapped out of it.
Aimee knew she had to keep herself occupied to keep from drifting away into her subconscious thoughts. She grabbed her Pip-Boy from the metal desk and turned it on, staring at the time that beeped at her; it was two in the afternoon. She hurled her Pip-boy at the wall in anger before holding her head in her hands. Her short curly brown hair fell around her shaking fingers.
"Fuck I need a drink..." She wrapped the bed sheet around herself and opened her bedroom door, making her way down the metal stairs. The jukebox at the other end of the second floor blazed "Maybe" by The Ink Spots. This only pushed her deeper into the abyss of her already heartbreaking despair.
Fawkes sat at the wooden table placed in the middle of the first floor, eating Fancy Lads Cake Snacks and drinking Nuka-Cola. Dogmeat lay by his feet, sleeping peacefully, and Aimee had a newly discovered jealousy in her canine companion.
Charon and Butch were in the kitchen, fighting over the last bottle of whiskey.
She sighed. Always fucking fighting about one thing or another… Actually, it's more one-sided. Charon's level-headed nature usually pisses Butch off more than the argument itself…
"You jipped the Butch-Man of his last whiskey! This one's mine!"
"It was Poker. I won it fair and square." Charon replied in his raspy voice calmly.
"Tunnel Snakes don't take shit from nobody! I'm gonna-" He grabbed Charon roughly by the front of his leather armor, aiming to punch him in the face.
"Do what, Deloria?" Aimee asked tiredly from where she stood, leaning against the machinery that stood at the bottom of the stairs. It was there when she moved in, and she assumed it was for Wadsworth, who remained in sleep mode until she required him.
Everyone jerked their heads up towards her in shock. Even Dogmeat had somehow pulled himself out of his dreamland to look up to his owner. He whimpered at her sadly, his ears lowering on his head.
"Nothing…" Butch mumbled and immediately let go of Charon's armor and sat by Fawkes at the table with a childish pout on his face.
"Did we wake you?" Charon asked and walked towards her, handing her the last whiskey.
He could tell she needed it; he's been with her longer than Butch or Fawkes. Butch being an exception, because he was a complete tool to her all throughout their childhood. But irony was one step ahead of her, yet again, because here he was, sitting in her house in Megaton.
She grabbed the whiskey greedily and twisted the cap off, drinking straight from the bottle. The burn suited her just fine as it completely ripped herself from her tired atmosphere. She removed the bottle from her lips and wiped her mouth, shaking her head.
"Haven't slept for a long time, now. Don't worry about it Char-bear."
A short time after she bought Charon's contract from Ahzrukhal in the Underworld (and Charon blew his head off) she began calling him Char-Bear. His pet name was brewed from the fact that there was some truth in what Azrukhal had said about the brain-washed ghoul; he was as cuddly as a teddy bear to his contract holder. Charon had no objection to it, but then again, he had no objection to anything she did.
Aimee sat at the table in front of Butch who gave her a strange look for the attire she was currently donning. Or lack thereof.
"Nothing there for you under these bed sheets, Butch, I suggest you move your eyes somewhere else." She said bluntly and took another deep gargle of whiskey, finding comfort in the dull burn at the back of her throat.
All of her companions knew she could hold her alcohol very well. Until you pissed her off of course. Her fists would fly, and they could guarantee you'd walk away missing a body part, or a fragment of your pride. A horny bar patron learned that the hard way in Rivet City's Muddy Rudder the last time the small group was there; Butch practically chewed her ears off to bloody stumps with how upset he was from getting kicked out of there with the rest of them.
"Maybe you should eat something?" Fawkes said with the best English she's ever heard from a Super Mutant. It sounded more like a concerned demand than a friendly suggestion, but all the same, he ushered the box of Fancy Lads towards the vault dweller turned lone wanderer.
Dogmeat sat up and placed his head on Aimee's exposed knee, licking the upside of her hand with a gentle tongue. She patted his head sweetly, scratching behind his ears with lazy fingers. She hated the way his eyes stared up at her, it reminded her of... Of...
Aimee jerked away from those sad dual-colored eyes and drank more. Butch got himself up from the table and went to the refrigerator, opening it up and poking his head inside, to see nothing but figurative cobwebs.
"We're outta food." He slammed the door shut in irritation and fixed his hair. "Fawkes took the last of it..."
"I'll go into town and get more." Aimee replied absent mindedly and handed the bottle to Charon for a quick sip.
"You said that the last time you came out of your room." The ghoul pointed out after passing the bottle to Butch. He grimaced at it, and thought better, so he grabbed a shot glass and drank from that instead.
"When was the last time I was out of my room?" She asked.
"Three days." Her companions chimed in unison, and she blinked at them all in shock.
Aimee didn't know she had been up there for that long, she had suspected that it was only a day, or two at the most. But she knew the total time she spent up there was definitely longer than that; she would come and go from her room every few days and would only stay a few minutes to eat or drink before returning to the darkness of her bedroom.
Aimee sighed and ran her fingers through her thick curls. "Sorry guys… Let me go throw some clothes on and we'll go down to the Brass Lantern."
She slowly rose up from the table and walked up the stairs, Dogmeat following behind her loyally, snapping at her trailing bed sheets playfully.
Her mismatched companions held their breaths, and their tongues, until they heard the quiet slam of her door shutting and the familiar click of the lock. They looked at each other.
"Damn… She's really outta it, ain't she?" Butch began.
Fawkes chugged down the rest of his Nuka-Cola before adding on to the conversation.
"I have never seen her like this. It is very scary for me." He finished with short pauses in between every few words and he shook his head. "How long will she be like this?"
"Her old man died! You can't seriously think she's gonna be all cool and stuff after that?" Butch exclaimed.
"Keep your voice down Tunnel Snake." Charon hushed him with his arms crossed over his chest. "Aimee will hear you. Besides, Fawkes is just worried, he knows she's hurt."
"Man," Butch ran his fingers over his hair. "When we were kids, I never saw her like this. No matter how much I bullied her she never acted like this."
"She is strong like that. But seeing her father leave, only a few hours after finding him, is the worst thing she has ever encountered." Fawkes picked up his trash and went to the kitchen to clean up his mess.
"You use to bully her?" Charon asked, his raspy voice turning curious as his yellow eyes turned shiny. He was in a defensive mode over Aimee once again.
Butch looked to the ghoul with wide eyes, afraid to answer the question lingering in the air.
Charon raised a partial eyebrow on his disfigured face. "Well?" He asked.
"I- uh, uhm…" Butch started.
"He used to, but now he is here to make up for what he did." Aimee's satin-smooth voice broke the awkward tension between the two males.
They both looked up to see Aimee on the staircase. She was no longer sporting a bed sheet, but a dirty white top that she tied around her stomach so it looked like a belly shirt. A leather jacket squared off her round shoulders, ripped denim shorts and knee-high leather boots made her short, strong legs look long and lean. She perched her biker goggles back up on her head, the only thing that was familiar to him.
Butch's eyes practically popped out of his head at the sight before her, for all his reaction was worth, she still could have been wearing her bed sheet for all she knew.
"A-Aimee? Where the fuck did you get that get up?"
She slowly walked down step by step with heavy boots till she came to the table. She tried to hide the sadness, but they only swirled into little pools of misery in her steel grey eyes. The alcohol didn't make much of a dent in her declining mood and it showed.
"Pieced it together myself. I'm ready when you guys are." She looked up as Dogmeat trudged down the stairs, barking at her contentedly with his tail wagging behind him. He was happy that she was doing something other than drinking and lying in bed for days at a time.
Going back to Aimee's earlier statement, it was true. After Aimee revisited her home in Vault 101 and talked some sense into the too-high-on-his-pedestal-of-paranoia Overseer, Amata, being the new Overseer, kicked out her childhood friend once she gained the new title. It hurt Aimee to no end, but she knew she had no choice, and left for the betterment of her home.
Soon after Butch sprung out of that place, after flipping everyone the bird of course, and he made his way through the Capital Wasteland to make a name for himself and hoped to raise the Tunnel Snakes once again. He came upon Rivet City and was there for about a month before he caught wind of a wedding between Gary's daughter Angela, who Butch thought was kinda cute, and some square named Diego from the church. He decided to go instead of drowning his caps away in booze and a bitchy Trinnie... And who just happened to be there? None other than Aimee.
Truthfully, he was kind of happy to see her familiar face.
Upon seeing Butch she made his way over for a quick chat. All happy, and smiling, and shit. But before he could say "Tunnel Snakes rule!" her fist came hurdling into his face, effectively knocking him on his ass into unconsciousness. He only recalled two other times she physically hurt him.
One event happened at her 10th birthday party after he bugged her to give him her sweet roll because that stupid robot destroyed the only food they had to spare at that lame ass party. She spat on it, and then gave him a good uppercut to the side of his face. He didn't even look at her for a week, mostly because his eye had swollen up on that side of his face, so he couldn't even if he wanted to.
The other event happened when the Tunnel Snakes began picking on Amata before the G.O.A.T. Butch remembered it all too well; Aimee told them to screw off, ending up in an all out fist fight of unfair odds of three men against one woman. Amata stood by, shrieking for all she was worth as Wally, Paulie, and himself began wailing on her. Or tried to... Paulie came out of it with a broken nose, Wally had both eyes blackened and he had scratches all on his face and neck.
He was pissed that Aimee intervened and stood up for Amata. And all though he hated to admit it, he was surprised, and quite frankly shaken, that she could not only talk a good game but she could back it up with a mean hook to the jaw. She was capable of making grown men cry and tough pro-fighters look like sissies. She was damn lucky he still had a handsome face… Or so Nova said, anyways.
Fawkes emerged from the kitchen with a smile on his lips. "Can we get more Fancy Lads?"
Aimee chuckled a little and picked up a burlap sack resting beside her workbench, slinging it over her shoulder.
"Of course. I know you like them Fawkes." She opened up the door and they all rustled out, walking down the metal path with Aimee leading.
The mismatched group consisting of two humans, a gentle Super Mutant, a hushed ghoul, and a dog with each eye a different color had found comfort in each other. They found comfort in the fact that they each were different, and in some way, they understood each other in one way or another. They all understood that the other was just as alone as the next, and in this way, they would never have to be alone again.