A/N: HEY EVERYONE! Well, you're probably wondering why I'm posting an early chapter :3 That is because today, a reader's birthday is today and I thought I'd post a new chapter of Another War For Your Textbooks as a small birthday present! I HOPE YOU LIKE IT iWOLFEX! And happy birthday, doll :D Honestly, it was by PURE coincidence that this chapter is ALSO Aimee's birthday... LOL xD
Anyways, before we get started there is one thing I need to clear up- the bobblehead I put in about two chapters ago (when Charon was searching for Aimee and pounced Harkness) is the WRONG BOBBLEHEAD. THAT'S THE ONE YOU GET IN VAULT 101. THE VAULT YOU GET FROM DR. LI IS THE INTELLIGENCE BOBBLEHEAD. Sorry guys, I'm stupid, I know D:
So, on with the show! I'll still post a new chapter on Saturday, so don't fret, and I hope all of you enjoy the chapter!
Happy reading, happy writing, and happy birthday iWolfex!
Aimee creaked her eyes open slowly, almost feeling as if they were taped together in her sleep and she scrunched them back closed, moaning in reluctance to wake up. She was so exhausted, but not exhausted enough to return back to sleep. She curled her arms around her pillow tighter, drawing it to her chest and attempted to go back to sleep.
"Wake up, Glowworm."
The nickname immediately sent her eyes gaping wide open and she flew up in her bed, causing her pillow to go flying and hit Dogmeat in the head. He barked in surprise, looking to her with his tongue lolling out of his mouth from his spot on the dingy rug on the floor at her bedside.
"S- Sorry…" She murmured apologetically and shrugged, glancing over to where Charon sat. A small round table was placed in the corner of the room along with two chairs, and he was sitting in one of them as he laced up his boots and made sure they were snug before getting to his feet, staring at her with sharp blue eyes.
"Rise and shine," He nodded his head.
"Mo- Morning…" She murmured under her breath, blinking in surprise and clenched her bed sheet in her hands. "Did you- uh… Sleep well?"
"Then why are you up so early?" She yawned a wide-mouthed yawn.
Charon opened his mouth to speak, but no sound came out. He closed his mouth again, probably thinking better of his answer. He looked to her Pip-Boy on her wrist (she had forgotten to take it off before going to sleep) and stepped over. Picking up her hand, he turned off the device, scrolled through it, and pointed down at the time interface.
"It- It's three in the afternoon?" Aimee exclaimed, horrified.
"Almost four, actually. It's 3:49." He nodded. "Were you up late?"
"No! I went to sleep the same time you did!" She cried, hopping out of her bed, stumbling over Dogmeat to avoid stepping on his tail, and ran to her backpack in the corner of the room by the door to pull out fresh clothes.
"…That is late, Glowworm."
"No it isn't!"
"I wait until you go to sleep before sleeping. Even then, that's a rare occurrence. I don't usually sleep."
"Liar! Everyone needs sleep!"
Charon gave a small shrug as Aimee pulled off her shirt and replaced it with the (relatively) clean one she removed from her bag. She then quickly pulled off her pants to put on baggy cargos (with Charon looking away to be decent) and rolled up the cuffs of the pants legs since they were too long for her. She quickly shoved her feet into her boots, not even bothering to lace them, and ran to the door.
"Where do you think you're going?" He asked over her shoulder, finally turning to look at her. She stopped and turned back to him when she was in the hallway.
"Who are you? My father?"
His eyes narrowed slightly in annoyance.
"…To Dr. Li." She answered meekly, fidgeting in place as she looked back down the hall. The day was so late already, she had to talk to Dr. Li now- then hit the road to continue finding her father… She wasted so much time already- too much time already! Would Dr. Li even remember where her father had gone? Did her father even meet with the doctor while he was in Rivet City? Who was she to him, anyways?
"Mutt, stay here." Charon directed Dogmeat as he followed her to the door.
"Stay here!" She demanded half-heartedly.
"I said stay!"
"I'm not a dog," He growled.
"Then don't growl like one!" She shot back, turning to dash down the hallway when he grabbed her shoulder.
"Calm down. I need to stay with you in case anyone gets any… Ideas."
"…You're kidding me, right?"
"Am I smiling?" He asked acidly.
"Okay, okay! Jeeze! I'll be careful, just stay here and hang out with Dogmeat. I'll be back in about an hour."
His eyes narrowed at Aimee again and she cringed.
"Less than an hour."
He wasn't taking that at all.
"…Half an hour?" She squeaked.
"Aimee." Shit, he wasn't being all cutesy with the nickname anymore… "The length of our argument could have been spent walking down to the science lab to speak with Dr. Li. We would have been on the mid-flight deck by now."
"Not even!" She cried.
"At the science lab door,"
"Knock it off!" She cried with some annoyance, eyes darting back down the hallway and she continued hopping from foot to foot anxiously.
A small smirk tugged at his lips. "It's late anyways. Come back inside and eat something first."
"No, I can eat afterwa-"
Aimee's eyes widened in disbelief at the words that parted from his cracked lips and she looked back at him, mouth dropping open. Did he just-?...
Now that she was completely awake, she cautiously teetered to the side and peered into their hotel room around his side through the doorway. On top of the round table where he was sitting a few moments ago, sat two dirty white boxes stacked up, one on top of the other. The one on the bottom was long and wide with greasy twine tying it up in a limp bow. The one on top was a lot smaller and shaped like a cube rather than a rectangle. That one was tied up with greasy twine, too.
They looked like… Presents.
"Cha- Charon… Wha- What's this all about?" She looked back up at him, question swimming around in her eyes.
"It's been a while since you've called me "Char-bear," He commented offhandedly, ignoring her question.
"I thought you'd enjoy the temporary paradise of me calling you by your name," She smiled slightly.
"Arin Bryne. That was my name before the Great War… A little afterward, too. But then it was changed."
"When I went into contract training. They try to erase who you are- no ties to the past- so that the only memories you have are of the endless, torturous sessions… They weren't able to break me."
Her eyes widened at the thought and she bit her lip, chewing on it nervously. He didn't seem to catch her sudden shift in mood, but she doubted that to be true and chalked it up to him noticing- just choosing not to say anything. He led her back into their hotel room and closed the door once she was inside.
"You didn't answer my question," Aimee motioned to the presents with a heave of a limp and lazy hand. "What's this about?"
"It's your birthday, isn't it?"
She gawked at him, shock brimming in her chest.
"Your birthday, correct? You said you were born around the Thanksgiving holiday? On November 18th?"
"Oh- Oh my God…" She clutched her hand to her throat, utterly surprised (and her heart lurched around in her chest while butterflies did the Waltz in her stomach) that he remembered- even though Charon's clear-cut memory was something to be expected. "You- You didn't-!"
Charon gave a simple nod and her beached-guppy expression was replaced with a giant smile as she squealed with delight and pounced at him, throwing her arms around his neck so she dangled there and hugged him tightly. He staggered back, almost bumping into the wall behind him but managed to gain back his footing- wrapping an arm around her waist so she wouldn't lose her grip on him.
"Char-bear you're amazing! I- I can't believe you got me something!" Aimee felt like she was going to start crying.
The ghoul looked down at her, his sharp blue eyes flinching for a second as he briefly widened his eyes at her and then they softened.
"Are you-… Crying?"
She hadn't noticed that she was crying- she thought that she was just on the verge of tearing up, but she nodded and choked as she tried to strangle out a laugh. She wiped at the tears with her knuckle.
"I- I'm just so-… happy!" She exclaimed, hugging him tightly again. "Thank you, Char-bear!"
"…But you haven't even opened your presents yet. And they're not even that much."
"I don't care! They're from you, and that makes them the most valuable things I could ever have!" She squealed, releasing him so she could pummel back the tears from her big, grey eyes with the back of her hands and she sniffled loudly.
"Well, open them. We'll have breakfast and go down to Dr. Li Together. Okay?" He helped her wipe the tears away by bringing his hand to her face, cradling her jaw as his thumb caressed her cheek to remove them. Her heart began pounding in her ears.
She nodded awkwardly, having no qualm over him coming along now and turned to the round table, plopping down and grabbed at the small box on top of the large rectangular one. She wanted to give it a shake and guess what it was, as she did that a lot when she was younger. It was a game she and her father frequently played when it was either one of their birthdays. The winner was given the power to make the loser do whatever he or she wanted them to do, and it was her favorite game to play with him, out of the many games they played with one another. The reason why she kept from shaking the box was because on the off-chance that whatever lay in it was delicate, she didn't want to risk breaking it. She quickly pulled the greasy twine free, tossed it back onto the table and tore the box open by the lid. She gapped down into it, face lighting up with her beaming smile and she squealed louder than when she did only moments ago when she pounced on him.
"Oh my God, Charon!" She cried, coming to tears again, pulling out the Vault Boy bobble head that was wearing a graduates cap and had glasses on. She flicked at his head with her forefinger, watching it tremble before slowly settling down. She turned it over, reading the inscription on the bottom.
"It takes the smartest individuals to realize there's always more to learn."
That sounded like something her dad would say... And as if on cue, her father's voice suddenly played in her head.
"Revelation 21:6. I am Alpha, and Omega. The beginning, and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely."
Aimee smiled and said her mother's favorite biblical passage out loud.
"Revelation 21:6… I am Alpha, and Omega. The beginning, and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely."
"And he said unto me, they are come to pass. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." Charon recited, causing her to snap her head up.
"You said Revelation 21:6, correct?"
"Ye- Yeah… How did you-?"
"I was a man of God before the war." He nodded his head at her as he plopped down in his chair at the table, across from her. "That was the verse I was taught in Church. There are many different revisions of it."
"I see…" She murmured, looking down at the bobble head in her possession- another one to add to her collection. "Is that your favorite passage?"
"Not really." He shook his head. "Genesis 3:17; and unto Adam he said; Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying; Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for their sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life."
Aimee's eyes widened in bewilderment and she set down her bobble head to give him her undivided attention.
"Genesis 3:18; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. Genesis 3:19; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
A small smile creeped into her face. "Charon, that was-… that was-"
"Beautiful." Her grin deepened.
Charon nodded his head in thanks and gestured to her remaining present. "Hurry up so we can eat. I'm starving."
"Fine, fine- Mr. Bossy!" She scolded with a lighthearted giggle and put her bobble head back inside the box, pushing it towards him to bring her second, and final, gift forward. Making short work of the twine, she tore off the lid (and it ripped in half with how excited she was getting) and her eyes widened to giant saucers on her face at what lay before her.
It was a combat shotgun, in prestigious condition- little scratches and nicks here and there but none of them were really noticeable, all the pieces looked clean and barely used… And on the stock of it did a little charm dangle, a cutesy red heart from a thin string, which was stapled into the wood.
"Oh. My. God."
"It- It's like Samuel!" Damnit, how many times was this bastard going to make her cry? "But better! It looks so new, like it hasn't really been used before!"
"I bought a shotgun from the marketplace and fixed it up myself. Cleaned down the pieces, pieced it back together and everything. Thought you'd like the charm- if not, I can easily pull it out."
"N- No, I-… I love it, Char-bear." She got up and went over to him, leaning over to hug him around the neck again, tightly. "Thank you… These are the best gifts I have ever gotten, from anyone."
"Hmn. Well, that's a shame."
"I had one or two more for you, but seeing as how you're already content with what I gave you…" A smile tugged at the corner of his lips. An actual smile. Aimee's heart began beating rapidly in her chest again, and a light pink blush came to her face.
Good grief, I could die happy now!
"Gimmie, gimmie!" She exclaimed like the small child she was, snapping her grubby little paws at him and he swat her away with a low chuckle and got up. He went to his bag, opened it, and pulled out two more boxes and something else wrapped in dirty, singed newspaper. He handed all three to her.
"Sorry about the wrapping. Couldn't find a nice pattern, and the wrapping shop was closed." His serious and impassive tone as he cracked his joke only had Aimee snorting herself into a giggle-fit before she sat back down to open up her other presents.
The first box was thin, wide, and rectangular- inside was a pair of cushioned shoe insoles he found while they were scavenging the metro tunnels on their way to Rivet City. Charon said he found them in one of the industrial lockers, and he noticed how easily she gained blisters and stomped her feet sometimes when she walked, so he thought she'd enjoy some cushion in her step. She hugged him and went onto the next present.
The second box was thick and a little wide, but still small- inside was a necklace and matching set of clip-on earrings that he also found while they were scavenging a long time ago- it was still in the wrapping paper, too! Shiny blue with a silver bow. He said he found it in one of the homes they raided back in Minefield before they left to return to Moira. She hugged him even tighter than the first time, they shared a quick moment of reminiscing through the event (Aimee more-so terrified than he when she remembered that he was shot in the shoulder by the old sniper), and she went onto the last present.
The wrapped in newspaper gift was quickly torn open- and inside lay a book, thick with intact pages. It was called The Princess and the Barbarian by Betina Krahn- a love story between a stubborn princess, unwilling to marry who slowly falls in love with a roguishly charming barbarian.
Aimee was moved to choked sniveling and hiccupping tears and whimpers when all her presents were opened, and she wouldn't let go of Charon for a good solid five minutes.
Because this was the first birthday she had spent out in the Wasteland, and when she first came out of the Vault and into the sunlight, she believed she was to spend it alone- or worse- dead. She was happier than words could depict that she was here, alive and well, to celebrate the two decades she walked the Earth.
But what made it all the worth-while was being able to share it with Charon- the only man alive who was ever able to make her heart dance and her stomach flutter.
As Charon got up to begin making breakfast, seeing as how there was no point in wasting caps to go out and eat when they had enough food in their bags already, Aimee stared at her new combat shotgun from the corner of her eyes. She smiled softly and fingered the heart charm.
"You're gonna name it, aren't you?" The ghoul asked when he came back over with two boxes of Fancy Lads Cake Snacks and a bottle of purified water to share.
"Of course I am!" She turned her soft smile to him, which turned into a sheepish grin. "Any ideas?"
"Why not name it after your last shotgun, Samuel?"
"Eh, Samuel and I had a good run… I think I'll name her something else."
"Yeah! I don't have enough girl names for my weapons!" She pouted, folding her arms across her chest.
"You have Elaine your SMG, Patience your flaming sword, and Bethanie- your baseball bat." He quirked a brow muscle at her, biting into his first cake.
"…Shuddup. Fine it'll be a boy!" Aimee concluded, picking up the gun to run her hand over the stock of it, continuing her play with the heart charm.
"I didn't say it had to be a boy," Charon spoke after swallowing.
"Well, I know just what I'm going to call him!" She beamed, smiling up at him.
She nodded and hugged the combat shotgun to her chest.
"I'm gonna name him Char-bear!"
The ghoul smacked his hand to his forehead, and Aimee burst out into another giggle-fit.