Hey everyone! Wow, finally made it. This is the last installment of the Sunshine Trilogy! Thank you everyone for reading and favorites and reviews! I hope you enjoy , I've been eager to write this since Sunshine was posted, though the beginning was hard to write, it got easier. This has the honor of being number 5 out of 7 in my 7 fics in 7 days challenge! Two more to go! (I highly recommend this challenge, it's difficult, but really helps you think on your feet)
It was cold then it was excruciatingly hot. She ached and then she felt nothing. Vizyn tried to move her fingers, her mouth, and her legs. She didn't know if her eyes were open or closed, darkness enveloped her and her senses. She smelt nothing, heard nothing.
Was this death?
Vizyn always thought there'd be a light. Her father had told her a bright light would surround her, that she would feel no pain or sadness. Her mother was supposed to hold her and welcome her home.
Instead there was nothing but darkness. The occasional sensation of burning coursed through her, a raging inferno that nothing could douse.
She heard a buzzing. Humming. It resonated around her, echoing in the blackness, thundering in her ears.
It was voices. They seemed familiar, but Vizyn couldn't quite name them. She tried to call out, let them know she was there and to please take her away, wherever she was meant to go.
She'd done all she could, she did what she was meant to do. She started the purifier, completed her father's work and helped the wasteland as much as she was able.
So why? Why was she trapped in this limbo? She had tried to lead a good life, follow her father's teachings and to help those in need. Wasn't that enough?
The voices became louder, but she was unable to understand what they were saying. She was so tired, she just wanted to let go.
She was ready to let go.
The fire glowed brightly under the moonless sky, bathing his meager camp in a flickering orange glow. Charon ripped off a chunk of Molerat meat off the spit and tossed it towards Dogmeat, shaking his head as the mutt gobbled it down greedily.
"You'd think I starve you," he grumbled, ripping off a sizeable piece of meat with his teeth. Dogmeat gave a woof and wagged his tail, cocking his head to one-side expectantly.
"Oh, no you don't," the ghoul held his food protectively. "You've gotten enough hand-outs, mutt. You're a predator, hunt your own."
The dog was not dissuaded, he rubbed his head against Charon's hand and gave a whine, lightly licking the ghoul's fingers. Charon sighed and rolled his eyes. He ripped off another chunk of meat and held it out to his furry companion.
Dogmeat downed it in one gulp, gave a contented huff, and then plopped down across Charon's lap. The ghoul jumped, grunting in surprise. The fire was slowly dying down; he supposed it was about time to call it a night. Charon absently stroked the hound's dirty fur and finished his dinner.
Two weeks. Had it only been two weeks?
Charon felt as though he had been traversing the wastes for months—alone save for the company of his newfound mutt. Admittedly, having something to talk to lessened the pain in his chest to a dull ache, but still an ever present one.
He had been right, he thought bitterly. Everyone had moved on with their lives. Vivi Nielson was nothing but a legend now. To be fair, there were still those that were in mourning. Upon his first visit to Megaton he was greeted by a slap to the face by Nova. The exchange still made his stomach turn cold.
Charon's face stung from the impact, but he remained still.
"You were supposed to protect her! Isn't that what your precious, fucking contract is all about?" Nova's voice was shrill, shaking with tears and fury. She reared back for another hit before Gob grabbed her.
"Nova, stop!" He admonished. "She wouldn't want this, it's not Charon's fault!"
"No," he had wanted to say. "It's all my fault, I didn't protect her. It should have been me." But, he kept his mouth shut, staring straight ahead into Nova's tearful face.
"Fuck off, Gob! She was just a kid, a kid, Charon! You stupid fuck!" She struggled against Gob's hold, her face red and teeth bared. Spittle flew from her mouth as she continued to shout. "She trusted you, I trusted you, to keep her alive and bring her back home!" She spat at him and yanked free from Gob's restraining embrace, storming past the ghouls, up the stairs to her room. She slammed the door with enough force to shake the ramshackle saloon.
Gob frowned at him, not with malice but sympathy. Charon couldn't bring himself to be pissed about it. Instead, he took the key to the shack from his pocket and held it out to the bartender.
"She'd want you to have it," he said quietly. "She never liked you two sleeping here, this way you can rent out more rooms."
Gob took the offered key and stared at it, biting his rotted lip and blinking his moistening eyes.
"I'll keep it here," Gob looked up to meet Charon's eyes. "But, I don't know if I-if we-could bear it any easier than you could." The smaller ghoul stepped over to his safe and placed the key inside. "I'll keep it here. Maybe one day, we'll move in. Maybe one day, you'll come back. Either way, I'd rather keep it the way it is until we've moved on."
Charon said nothing. Gob half-expected it of him. Charon turned towards the saloon doors and rested his hand on the handle.
"Tell Nova," he swallowed thickly, desperate not to break down in front of the man he had come to call "friend." He collected himself rather quickly, but his voice remained quiet. "Tell her: I'm sorry. I'm sorry to you, as well. I wish I had done more, I should have done more."
Charon had left without waiting for a response. He wondered briefly if Gob and Nova had moved into the shack as he absently scratched Dogmeat's ear. In a way, he hoped the key was still locked away in the safe. No one would ever be worthy enough to live under the same roof she had once resided.
Dogmeat's ear twitched under Charon's scarred fingers, and he perked his head up, looking to the north with a growl.
Charon followed his gaze and reached for his shotgun. He shooed the dog from his lap and aimed at the approaching figure. Dogmeat's fur stood on edge, his teeth bared, waiting eagerly for Charon's command to attack.
Charon cocked his gun, but the intruder raised their hands submissively. In the firelight, Charon recognized the green power armor and the insignia of the Brotherhood of Steel.
"I mean no harm," a woman's voice, one that seemed familiar. Charon scowled and raised his gun higher. "I've been looking for you."
"I've had enough of you bastards to last me a lifetime," he growled. Dogmeat snapped at the armored ankles but the paladin held her ground. She cautiously raised her hands towards her helmet.
"I'm just taking it off," she said carefully at the sight of Charon's twitching finger. She undid the buckles and slipped the helmet off her head, holding it in both her hands.
Star Paladin Cross frowned as Charon's scowl grew more feral.
"It's about Vizyn," She spoke slowly, trying to ease him down. It wasn't working.
"Viv is dead," he spat. "There's nothing to talk about."
"What?" He rasped, his mouth suddenly dry. Cross nodded soberly and he felt his legs grow weak.
"She's at the Citadel, she's unconscious but she's alive."
"You're lying," The ghoul growled, aiming his shotgun at the Star Paladin's head. "I saw her. I held her in my arms and listened as she flat-lined! She…Sh-She…"
"Charon," Cross tried to soothe the trembling ghoul. Unfazed by the weapon she took a step forward, ignoring the snarling hound. "You may not believe me, but Vizyn is in the infirmary at the Citadel. Stable. I'm sure the first sight she'd want to see is you." She replaced the helmet over her head and buckled it back into place. "Now, you can come with me or come at your own pace. But, we don't know when she'll wake up. She could already be coherent now."
Charon paused at that. Slowly, he lowered his gun and strapped it onto his back. Dogmeat glanced up at him before relaxing. The ghoul's jaw was set, his fists clenched. If she was lying, if this was a trick, he'd kill each and every single one of them.
She was pale. Her eyes were closed but there was movement behind her lids, as though she were dreaming. A mask was over her mouth and nose, providing her oxygen while an IV in her arm kept her hydrated. Her hair was free from her hat, splayed messily around her head and trailing off the pillow and cot in soft, golden rivers.
The gentle beeping of the heart-monitor made Charon's heart stick in his throat.
She was alive.
Charon collapsed to his knees before her bed, gently running his fingers in her hair. He took deep, steadying breaths to keep his emotions in check. His smoothskin was alive.
"Has she…?" The question died on his lips. He'd never forgive himself if she had woken up and he wasn't there. Vargas looked over from where he sat beside Sara and shook his head.
"She's been like that since they resuscitated her. She hasn't opened her eyes, yet."
Charon nodded, clasping the girl's small hand in his massive ones. She was cold to the touch but he could see the thumping of her pulse on her neck.
The same spot he would kiss while she giggled and squirmed in his arms.
"I'm here, Viv," he whispered. "I'm here, and I'm not leaving without you."
Dogmeat sat beside his master and watched, tail absently swishing back and forth. He looked from the ghoul to the girl, before he decided that his master just wanted to be alone. The hound pressed against Vargas, pushing him towards the door.
Vargas arched an eyebrow at the animal but when it insistently pressed against his leg he complied. He stood and marched outside the infirmary with Dogmeat not far behind him.
Charon didn't notice them leave.
She was still so beautiful. Thinner, paler, but alive and beautiful. She still sported faint bruises from the battle two weeks prior but other than that there was nothing physically out of place.
He had been careless. He had left her in the care of practical strangers instead of staying at her side.
But, he had her back and nothing would take her from him again.
She felt heavy, as though she were chained down. She tried to thrash, to break free, but she was just as powerless as before and the burning became worse.
It hurts, she pleaded with whatever could hear her. Please, please just make it stop!
Hot. It was too hot. She couldn't tell if she was crying or if the flames were licking at her cheeks.
I want it to stop, no more, I can't do it anymore!
Suddenly, a rush. Vizyn felt as though she had been thrown forward by a Super Mutant. The sensation caused her to gasp and brace herself for any sort of impact.
Instead, she saw it: a light, burning ahead. It called her, singing her name. It sounded beautiful and she longed to get closer. She could see her hand now, as she stretched it out towards the glow.
Charon saw the change the instant it happened. One moment, he had been lost in her rhythmic breathing, the soft beeps that echoed her heart beat. The next, her chest stopped rising. The beeping slowed and then stopped completely.
Charon felt his blood run cold.
An emergency alarm emitted from the monitor. Several medics ran in, along with the robotic doctor. Charon refused to be moved, he shouted curses at the men trying to pull him away so the medics could get to work. He screamed for his smoothskin, for her to open her eyes.
No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Not again. Please, God, don't take her from me again!
He thrashed and threw one of the paladins off him, punching the other square in the nose.
A female medic scurried to the other side of the bed and began CPR. Charon dropped to his knees in front of the bed once again, clasping Vizyn's hand and bowing his head to rest against it.
"Please, Smoothskin. Don't do this to me. Please don't do this to me. I can't…I can't…"
The medics were shouting but he couldn't hear them. All he could hear was his own, rough voice repeating the same mantra over and over.
"Come back, please, come back."
She was so close now. Warmth surrounded her. The singing was wonderful, beautiful. She needed more, she needed it around her, inside her. It was intoxicating. She felt no more pain, weightless, and so full of joy. Just one. More. Step.
Come back, please, come back…
Vizyn paused. She knew that voice.
I need you, Smoothskin. I love you. Come back.
Whose was that voice? She glanced over her shoulder, back into the darkness.
It sounded weaker or perhaps more far away? She didn't know. She was so close to the light. She could see wonderful things and even heard voices coming from inside it. Her father. Her mother. They called for her. Sang for her. All she needed to do was touch it. It was instinct, like how she always knew she had to breathe.
God damn it, don't leave me, Viv!
Vizyn paused once more.
Her eyes widened, she screamed. A shock tore through her chest, spreading through her body until it hurt once again.
She screamed again as it returned a few moments later, and then once more.
The final shock thrust her backwards, away from the singing light.
Back into the darkness.
Charon watched helplessly as the medic used a refurbished defibrillator to try to shock Vizyn's heart back to beating. After the third try, Charon felt his hope slipping away. She would be gone for good this time and he knew he couldn't bear losing her twice.
But, the fourth shock brought music to his ears. The beeping returned. Slow, but steady. It was then, the ghoul realized, he was shaking.
Close, it had been too close.
Vizyn tried to turn toward the voice, but she was in too much pain. The light had been so wonderful, had felt so good. She could have cried. Now, she felt chained once again. But the voice…
Charon… Realization dawned on her. She tried to call out for him.
"I'm here!" She shouted. "I'm here, Charon! Where are you?"
You'll be ok, Smoothskin. Just open your eyes, please…just come back to me.
He sounded so desperate, so unlike himself. Vizyn tried to work through the pain. She managed to turn around (she thought, anyway) and listened. She would find him. She needed to find him.
I'm not leaving again, Viv. I'll be here.
Couldn't he hear her?
She saw it again, a light.
It didn't sing to her, but the more she struggled, the brighter it grew.
"Charon, help me…" She sobbed. She was so tired, so heavy, but she couldn't give up. Not now.
I'm here. He repeated. I'm waiting for you, so please…
Vizyn hiccupped and reached for the light in vain, she was close, so close. But, the chains were too tight, the darkness too much to bear.
"I can't…I can't."
Another voice. Older.
Get some air, Charon. She's stable now.
"No, no, don't go." She needed him, his voice. She'd be sucked back in without it, she knew. Vizyn grit her teeth, cast her teary eyes towards the light and with a cry, threw herself towards it.
Charon's eyes narrowed at the elder, whose pale eyes regarded him with sympathy. He could've spit at him. Charon didn't want anything from the old man. Just his smoothskin.
"Some air would do you some good. She'll still be here when you return."
"She almost left while I was sitting right here. So, let me put this in terms you'll understand," Charon growled. "Fuck. You."
Elder Lyons sighed and moved to sit beside his daughter, not giving the ghoul or the Lone Wanderer a second glance. Charon shook his head and returned his attention to Vizyn, worry seeping through his bones.
Then, azure eyes shot open. There was a sharp gasp for breath. Vizyn's back lurched off the cot. She coughed and sputtered, hand still encased in Charon's.
The ghoul jumped to his feet, milky eyes wide in shock.
She turned her gaze to him after glancing about nervously.
"Cha-ron?" Her voice was rough from disuse. Charon pulled her into his arms, burying his face in her hair. Vizyn could feel his chest heaving and the back of her neck grew wet. She didn't stop him.
She weakly raised her arms and returned his embrace, closing her eyes. He smelled of dust, gunpowder and leather. The familiar, comforting scent eased the ache in her muscles a fraction.
Charon pulled away, removed the oxygen mask, and kissed her. She returned it with as much enthusiasm she could muster.
When they pulled apart—with what little breath she had stolen away—the medics clamored around her. They checked her over, asking questions to determine any brain damage, and checked her reflexes. It took every shred of his self-restraint to keep from pushing them away. She was his after all. But, once they were satisfied, they gave her a bottle of water for her throat and left to file the records.
Vizyn sipped the water but looked exhausted, as though she hadn't just been sleeping for two weeks. Charon sat beside her in a proper chair and held her hand, letting his fingers comb through her hair. She smiled dreamily at him and his heart stopped.
She was back. This wasn't a dream or a drug induced hallucination. His smoothskin was back. And she was all his.
Vizyn yawned as her eyes began to drift closed once more. She laid back against her pillow with a sigh.
"Do you wanna know what Heaven looks like?"
Charon kissed her forehead softly, smiling at her contented purr.
"Maybe later, smoothskin."