Well, good news is: I don't have a brain tumor! Bad news, I didn't get to post this on time. But, this (along with the last fic of the challenge) is now (and will soon be) posted! Hooray!
"I don't want to!" Vizyn pouted and crossed her arms, glaring at the thin blanket covering her knees. The bed in the A-Ring room was much more comfortable than the cot in the infirmary but she was growing restless with each passing day.
"It's just to make sure nothing is wrong," Charon coaxed, handing the girl her hat. She snatched it away from him. Her cheeks inflated, face red, and shoved it onto her head. "It will only be for a few more days then we'll be on our way."
"I'm sick of laying here and sleeping!" Vizyn huffed. "I can sleep when I'm dead," She added under her breath.
"Smoothskin," Charon's tone was warning enough. Vizyn looked away and stared at the wall.
"When we leave, I don't ever want to come back."
"We won't have to."
Vizyn nodded and grabbed a bottle of Aqua Pura from the bedside table. She twisted the cap with a grunt, glared when it wouldn't budge and tried once more. Charon smirked.
"When you can open a water bottle on your own," he said, gently taking the beverage from her small hands and unscrewing the cap with a flick of his wrist. "Then, I'll assure them that you are fully healed and ready to be discharged." He offered it back to her and she scowled but grabbed it and gulped the water down.
"Don't look so happy! This isn't funny," she tried to sound harsh but instead she whined. Charon tried to hide the smile on his face but to no avail.
"Sorry, Smoothskin," he smirked. "But, you're adorable when you're angry."
Vizyn stuck her tongue out.
"Now, let's just get this over with," Charon sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Touch your nose."
Vizyn glared at him but did as commanded.
"Good, no more brain damage than usual."
"I hate you."
"Raise your left leg. Good. Now, your right. Okay. Now say, 'Brahmin broke my brother's balls' five times fast."
Vizyn's eyes narrowed.
"That isn't one of the stupid exercises."
"I know," Charon sniggered.
"I want a divorce," Vizyn huffed, crossing her arms.
"You'd have to marry me first, smoothskin."
Vizyn grumbled, her cheeks flushing a pale pink.
"Are we done yet?" She muttered. Charon nodded and stretched his back, grimacing at the pops and cracks that followed.
Dogmeat glanced up from where he rested in the corner, sniffed once in Charon's direction then wandered over and rested his head on Vizyn's bedside.
"Aw! Who's a good doggy?" Vizyn cooed in delight and scratched behind the dog's ear with a grin. "Such a good boy! Yes, you are!"
"Why do I get the feeling you're going to love that mutt more than you love me?"
"I already do! Didn't you know?" She giggled as Dogmeat licked her hand. "You don't make me do stupid exercises, do you, Doggy?"
Charon rolled his eyes.
"Fickle woman. And quit calling him 'doggy,' do you really want him to get used to the name? Raiders won't exactly quake in fear if they have you surrounded and you shout, 'Doggy! Help me!'"
"Oh, like 'Dogmeat' is any better?" She pouted.
"It reminds him of what will happen if he stops being useful."
Vizyn gasped and slapped her hands over Dogmeat's ears.
"That's disgusting! Don't say that in front of him!"
"Man's got to eat, besides, that was the arrangement we had before I let the mutt follow me around."
Dogmeat barked the affirmative and Vizyn grimaced, removing her hands from his head.
Charon shrugged and stood.
"I'll go find you something to eat, Smoothskin."
"Ooooh! Can you see if they have Sugar Bombs?"
Charon smirked and shook his head.
"I'll see what I can do."
He left and Vizyn patted the bed next to her, smiling softly as Dogmeat obediently hopped up next to her. She wrapped her arms around the dog's neck and hugged him to her chest.
"Thank you," she murmured into his dirty fur, face contorting into a pained grimace. "Thank you for staying with him." Dogmeat gently licked the tears that escaped her eyes. "I shouldn't feel guilty, I know that," she sniffled. "But, you didn't see him. I wanted so badly to stay awake, I really tried but…"
Charon had always been stone-cold, almost unreadable, especially when they first met. She idolized him for his ability to keep a cool head in any situation, the way he was expressionless when things got rough and always seemed to have a plan.
But, she could still see him as he had held her, eyes full of despair. She knew, then, that there had been no hope for her. Even now, though she was very much alive, she was haunted by that memory.
She nestled her face into the scruff of Dogmeat's neck.
"You're a good boy. Promise me that, just in case, you'll always stay with him."
Dogmeat gave a low bark and nuzzled against her. Vizyn smiled.
"I knew it," a gruff voice sounded from the doorway. "Should've known you'd try to steal my woman, mutt."
Vizyn wiped her wet face in the dog's fur and looked up with a grin.
"He's such a smooth-talker, Charon! I can't help myself."
"Man's best friend, my ass. But, maybe I can win you back," the ghoul held out his offering and Vizyn squealed in delight. She took the bowl of Sugar Bombs with words of thanks and adoration jumbled together into an incoherent mush.
Charon watched her with a smirk and shooed Dogmeat from the bed so his fur wouldn't get in her food. She finished the cereal in minutes and with a contented sigh, set the bowl on the bedside table.
However, her mood quickly plummeted.
"I want to go home."
"I know, Viv."
Vizyn spread her arms and reached for him, Charon didn't hesitate to take her in his arms and slip into the bed beside her. The sheets were stained and smelled musty, the mattress lumpy, but it was still in great shape by wasteland-standards. The frame creaked under his weight.
Vizyn snuggled against him, resting her cheek on the black cotton t-shirt he wore under his armor. Her ear was pressed against his chest, listening to his rapid heartbeat. Even after all this time, she never failed to make his heart race with every touch.
Charon pressed a kiss to the top of her hat, holding her tightly against him.
"I want things to go back to the way they used to be," Vizyn said softly, tracing the muscles of his abdomen with her fingertips. Through the shirt, it made him shiver. "I want to pretend none of this ever happened."
Charon squeezed her lightly and rested his head on top of hers.
"Whatever you want, smoothskin."
Vizyn closed her eyes and kissed his chest.
"I love you," she confessed, "I'll never leave you again, I swear."
It was a childish promise, she knew, but it was the best she could offer.
Charon removed her hat and entangled his fingers in her hair.
"No matter where you go, Smoothskin, I'll follow you."
Vizyn frowned but said nothing. The way his hold tightened on her as he spoke was enough to warn her that arguing was out of the question. She gripped the fabric of his shirt tightly, sighing into his warmth. She was eternally grateful that he hadn't decided to "follow" her the first time.
"I'll talk to them tomorrow," Charon promised. He moved Vizyn to rest more comfortably against him. "You'll be home soon, even if it means I have to carry you across the wasteland on my back."
Vizyn giggled and hugged him tightly.
"I'll hold you to that," she warned. "Especially the carrying bit."
Dogmeat barked and looked at the ghoul expectantly.
"Hell no, mutt," Charon scowled, "you're walking." He motioned with his arm to the door and Dogmeat sulked off, tail between his legs.
Vizyn yawned, rubbing an eye with the back of her hand.
"Get some rest, Smoothskin. We'll be home soon."
Vizyn purred, leaned into the feeling of Charon's fingers languidly trailing through her hair and clung to his side.
Charon closed his eyes, arms wrapped protectively around her. It still felt like a dream, holding her like this once again.
He made a silent promise that nothing would steal her away.
"Freedom!" Vizyn darted outside the Citadel gates, spinning in the afternoon sun fast enough to throw the hat from her head. Dogmeat leapt up and caught the cap in his jaws. Charon trailed behind them, carrying both of their packs—despite Vizyn's protests—with a smirk on his face.
He whistled, calling the dog to his heels. He grabbed at the hat and Dogmeat obediently released it, tongue lolling out to the side and tail wagging. His eyes begged for the ghoul to throw it.
"Missing something, Viv?" He called. Vizyn stopped spinning, wobbling from side to side for a moment before meeting Charon's milky stare with her own. Her eyes trailed from his face to the hat clenched in his hand.
"Hey, that's mine!"
"Oh yeah?" Charon slipped the (much too small) cap onto his head. "Come get it, then."
Vizyn ran over and jumped, her fingers barely scraping the ghoul's forehead. She pouted and leapt again. This time, Charon grabbed the hat and held it far above his head with a grin.
"So rude, Smoothskin! To me, of all people!" Charon put a hand over his heart in mock offense, waving the hat at her tauntingly. Vizyn sighed and crossed her arms.
"Please, give it?"
"That's a little better," Charon hummed. He took a single step to close the distance between them. "How about you kiss me for it?"
Vizyn's face burned and her eyes darted to the ground as she stuttered. Charon grinned.
"You don't have to bribe me for that, stupid," she grumbled, hooking her fingers in the straps of his armor and tugging to coax him to her level. Charon went down easily, enjoying the chaste brush of her silken lips against his. He let her lead, set the pace as fast or as slow as she desired. It wasn't long before she became bold and hooked her arms around his neck to pull him closer.
He adored how her soft body molded against his. Despite her much smaller size, she fit perfectly against him as though she were made specifically for his proportions.
They broke apart far too soon; Charon, with a reluctant growl.
Vizyn blinked slowly, expression dazed and cheeks flushed. Charon smirked and caressed her cheek with his fingertips, delighting in her contented sigh.
"I love you," she purred, leaning into his touch.
"I love you, too, Viv."
Charon slipped the hat back onto Vizyn's head, allowing his fingers to trail down to her neck and linger at the hollow of her throat for a few moments longer than needed.
He took a few steps away as Vizyn hastily tried to fix her hat over her light golden waves. She hurried to catch up with him and blinked as his marred hand enclosed around hers. Charon smiled and Vizyn laced their fingers together.
"Let's go home, smoothskin."