Disclaimer: I do not own Fallout New Vegas or any part of the Fallout franchise. I am not making a profit from this.
Note: For the kink meme. Part of The Last King of Vegas series. Sequel to Family Man.
Where The Apple Fell
For a long time after Annie is born, Benny refuses to touch either of the women in his life. His little girl is just so damn fragile, and he's scared that with his skill set, he's gonna squeeze her too hard to drop her or somehow mess shit up and make her cry. It's a good four weeks before Kate can talk him into holding their daughter, and when he does, he feels something splinter in his heart. Later, lying in bed in the dark, he puts his heart back together again, and finds that a part of it has been irrevocably lost. It's locked up in the bundle swaddled in the craddle at the bottom of the bed, and it's never coming back.
For a month after that, he can't bring himself to kiss Kate, or touch her, because it hits him that she's someone's daughter, too, and he nearly killed her.
He gets over it, eventually, but not before a second shard of his heart has been tucked safely into Kate's keeping for good.
Annie's not exactly a quiet baby. He doesn't have a clue how to deal with it, how to stop her crying, because his usual methods don't work. He begs, he barters, he tries to bribe the kid but it all results in nadda. He turns to Kate, who scoops the baby up and holds her, and shooshes her, and puts her to sleep in her arms.
Benny spends the longest time convinced he's a terrible father. Kate takes him to bed one night and lays him down, her hands on his chest and in his hair, and she tells him it's going to be alright. He doesn't know why she's so sure, and tells her so. Kate laughs, quietly, because neither one of them wants to risk waking Annie up.
"You're an idiot," she says. In the darkness her eyes are glinting and she has never stopped being that ferocious, terrifying slip of a thing that cheated death and brought him to his knees. This is the last thing he thought he'd want - the quiet life - but ever since that day at The Fort, when she stood over him with his life in her hands...It was different. It was different from how it had been in The Tops. She had let him go, and she had followed him and found him - and she had let him go again. She had taken her chance for revenge and thrown it back in his face, casting out mercy like alms. From that day, he'd never really looked back.
"I don't love you," she tells him, because that's their thing. They say it because it's impossible, after everything, that they could have fallen in love. But here they are, in harmony, and they have created a child Benny thinks could easily be the most precious thing in the wastes.
He says "I don't love you either, you crazy broad," and thinks that maybe he could learn this daddying shit after all.
By the time Annie's first birthday rolls around, Benny can barely tear himself away from her. She's practically growing before his eyes, and frankly, that's incredible. She's starting to wise up, too, and pretty soon he's sure she'll start to take after him. He's got thoughts of a little family empire burning at the back of his mind. He doesn't mention this to Kate at first. He isn't sure she won't take it wrong, won't think he's back to his bad old ways. Truth be told, he's not sure he ever left those ways behind, but the world moves on and Benny's never been a man not to move with them.
"I'm going to leave one day," Kate tells him, with a kiss to his temple, just as she's serving up the cake. "I'm going to take her and go. Back to Vegas. Back to the others. Don't you think Boone would make a great father to her?"
He waits until she's put the tray down, before grabbing her wrist tight and pulling it behind her back. "I'll follow you, baby doll," her murmurs lovingly into her ear. "I'll tear the city apart and I'll find you and I'll kill you quiet in a lonely little room, and take my baby back."
"Promises, promises," she purrs.
Annie is laughing, and God, she's so beautiful. Kate smiles like the sun and serves her up the cutest little slice of cake. "Mamba!" Annie says, which is as close as she's come to mama so far. She manages daddy just fine, Benny thinks, a little smugly. Mamba, daddy, and poker; those are the words she knows. Benny doesn't think he could love her more if she crawled right inside his heart and set up shop.
The excitement of presents and cake and her parent's undivided attention tires Annie out pretty early. Benny lies in bed, watching as Kate tucks her in, coos at her and sings quiet lullabies until she falls asleep. The softness in her voice is a miracle. Her hair's growing out, and it falls soft like waves down her back. She's dressed down to sleepwear, but when she turns to him, all the gentleness is gone from her face. She's feral under her eyelashes, and beautiful; the woman he shot and buried and the woman who shares his bed. She moves over to him, all grace and rolling hips, and climbs on top of him.
"This'll never last," she says.
Benny thinks different. Deep down, he thinks maybe she does, too, because he remembers sweet smiles from before Annie came along, and promises, promises, promises of a better life.
One day, he's gonna tell her he loves her. Maybe it's the only thing standing between him and keeping this forever, but she's not ready for it yet. She's still too wild, too untamed. Kate loves him, he's sure of it, but love's a foreign thing to this woman and they've got a ways to go yet.
There ain't exactly theme parks and zoos to take the kid out to, but she's gotta get used to gunfire at some point. Family outings are the best of days, him and Kate taking turns at holding their angel while gunning down Fiends, Radscorpions, and – on one dangerous occasion – Cazadores. That had been mostly a mistake, but he'd got stung and it had taken a day or two for the poison to pass. Kate's set on revenge now, though, so today, they're going to deal with a wasps' nest.
Benny's got Annie strapped to her chest, and the moment Kate lets loose her first shot, the kid starts giggling. Maybe this makes them terrible parents, but at three years old she's gotta be the most world-wise toddler in the wastes.
"Shoot the wings!" Annie shouts, laughing like a maniac. "Shoot the wings!"
"That's right, baby!" Benny congratulates her, patting her hair before crouching to take a shot. "But what do we gotta remember when it comes to Cazadores?"
"Stings!" she answers gleefully. Her face drops a little. "Daddy got stung. I hate Cazadores."
He pauses in taking aim, and kisses her head. "You take after your mom, kiddo."
Between the two (three?) of them, they make short work of the Cazadores. Kate's glowing from battle as she takes Annie from him, and Benny knows he was an idiot to think either of them could ever give this up. He's felt more alive in the last few years than all his time in Vegas. He wouldn't mind a bit of luxury now and then, sure, but he knows he's on a trial period here. Kate's got this look in her eyes lately like she's planning something, and Benny'd be more worried if she didn't look up at him, full of pride, as their daughter latched her arms around her neck, and say, "We'll see those bastards try to hurt you now, baby."
He hangs back, toying with Maria while Kate crouches down next to a dead Cazadore and pulls out a knife. "We were a little rushed last time, honey, but mommy wants to show you how to cut a Cazadore's poison gland out. It's a tricky business, because if you accidentally open it, you're in serious trouble. You want to see me cut some out?"
"Okay then!" Kate leans over. Benny glances around, keeping watch over his family. Shit, his family. It hits him more when they're out like this, when they've left their little house behind, because they're still together, still a unit, ready to face the world. "Sweetie, do you know why we're taking the poison glands?"
Annie starts clumsily reeling off the uses and values of Cazadore poison. Benny spots a bloatfly careening towards them, and fires of a shot. It drops, and Annie starts to clap.
"Daddy saved us!" she says, and he knows she's teasing. No little girl of his is gonna mistake a Bloatfly for a threat.
Kate tells him her plan a few weeks later. Annie's doing well, all set up in her own room next door, and the pair of them check on her a couple of times during the night. She sleeps soundly, safely, and Benny knows that really, that's enough.
But neither of them are domestics. Annie's the exception, not the rule, and he knows for sure that this thing they've got going is forever when Kate lies next to him, naked, and says, "I think it's time to go back."
He turns to her, acting like this is something they've been discussing for a while. She's trying to throw him, testing him, but it's not gonna work. He knows her too well by now. Loves her too much. "You sure, pussycat? Figured we were gonna wait until Annie could handle her own weapon."
Kate shrugs. "Couple of threats facing the Strip right now. Can't rule in absentia anymore."
"Managed so far, haven't you?"
"Maybe I've been getting complacent. Over-estimated Yes Man. Besides, I think Cass is desperate for a break."
"Sure you're ready to trust me round the heavy artillery?" he says, raising his eyebrows. He's seen what the new Securitrons can do, and after all, he was the first one Yes Man listened to.
"City needs us, Benny." She smiles at him, touches his face.
He feels himself run all hot and cold at once. "Us, baby?"
He kisses her, his arm snaking around her back, pulling her body against him. She's irresistible, even after all this time. She kisses him back softly, affectionately, running her fingers through his hair. They're made for each other, he decides. She's the only lady crazy enough to keep him on his toes, keep him hooked, and he's the only man who's ever caught her unawares. She could have killed him, done away with him long ago, but she's neutralised the threat in him much more cleverly – she's made him love her. Now, he'll fight for her, and those wits and wiles and charms are gonna help her take over this whole damn, wasted world, if that's what she wants.
"I love you," he tells her.
"Yeah," she says. "I figured as much."
He runs a finger down her spine, and she arches ever so slightly against him.
"Still don't love me?"
"I don't love anyone."
"Not even Annie," she confirms.
Benny leans over and whispers in her ear. "You're a liar, doll."
She hisses up against his neck, and says, "You made me forget how. You broke me, Benny, and I'm not going to love anyone until you put me back together."
He brings his hands to her shoulders and laughs, because she's incredible, and unbelievable, and one of a kind. And she's his, totally his, even if she runs away and leaves him and never looks back, because he made her.
"You're mine," he tells her. "You're mine."
"And what's it worth if I don't know for sure I made that decision myself?"
She strokes his chest and he sighs against her. "Can't change the past, Katie."
"Try," she says.
Freeside doesn't know what to make of them when they stride through the gates. Kate's draped in her furs, blood and mud streaked, wild and radiant and terrifying and irresistible. He stands next to her in worn leather gear, and he's painted the Boot Riders emblem on the chest. Kate holds Annie in her arms, and everything they see is theirs for the taking.
Jaws drop on the Strip, and Yes Man is there to greet them. Benny doesn't like how familiar it seems when Kate touches him or how Annie so readily accepts being lifted by his metal pincers. He also doesn't like the snarky comments Yes Man shoots at him as the head towards the Lucky 38, but it's all worth it when Kate says that yes, Benny is coming inside, and in fact, is moving in. Yes Man splutters a bit and Benny thinks maybe he can hear something other than happiness in the robot's voice when he congratulates Kate on her family. If robots could get crushes, maybe Benny would have to get worried here.
But Kate takes his hand as they enter the casino, and turns to him with a smug, proud smile. "So," she says. "Is it everything you thought it'd be?"
He makes damn sure to keep his eyes fixed on her when he says, "yes". She rolls her eyes, but he knows she loves it. She can't hide shit from him anymore.
The suite upstairs is empty, ready for them. She takes them for a tour round the tower, delighting in Annie's obvious excitement. She keeps casting sidelong looks at Benny, and he really isn't sure what she wants until they reach the control room.
Yes Man's face is on a huge monitor, and outside stretches the whole of the Mojave. Benny doesn't know where to look first. This could have all been his, and his alone.
"Yes Man," Kate says. "You said you'd always do what I wanted, right?"
"Anything, Katie," the robot's voice says from the computer, and Benny feels that same prickle he felt outside.
"I want you to listen to whatever Benny says from now on. And Annie," she adds, "but, er, you're allowed to use discretion in granting Annie's requests. She's three."
Yes Man sounds suspicious when he says, "what about Benny?"
"Treat him exactly as you would me. Please."
When she looks at him, her face is entirely impassive. And Benny knows exactly what he's got to do.
What he was always going to do.
At two in the morning, Benny wakes up. He checks on Annie, and locks her door tight. He smoothes out his suit and dresses carefully, slicking back his hair and shining his shoes. He looks in the mirror. There he is. Back where he belongs.
He cleans Maria thoroughly. He loads her with devotion and care, and kisses the barrel before he presses it, cold, to the scar on Kate's head.
She's awake in an instant, and he gags her. He binds her hands. She's naked, but he doesn't stop to preserve her modesty. He's rough he throws her in the elevator, keeping his gun trained on his head.
"This time," he tells her, "I'm gonna keep shooting until there's nothing left to get back up."
Her stare is baleful and angry, but not surprised. She never takes her eyes off him, not even when he drags her out into the penthouse, and casts her in front of Yes Man's monitors.
"What are you doing?" the robot exclaims, and Securitrons swarm round him.
"Stop!" Benny commands. They stop. "You're listening to me now, dig?"
Yes Man doesn't say anything, but the Securitrons stopped. He knows this is for real, because Kate doesn't fuck around. She's all or nothing. It's not a trick. He's in charge.
He cocks the gun and presses it to her scar again. She's kneeling in front of him, gagged and bound, the mother of his child. The kid he shot in Goodsprings. The bitch who seduced him in The Tops and forced his hand, getting him caught by the Legion. The woman who let him go, who chased him, who saved him time after time. The courier who doesn't love him, because he fucked up her head and left her for dead.
Can't change the past, she said.
Benny thinks different.
He steps back, and pulls the trigger.
He wouldn't have done it if he hadn't been sure it would work.
Even so, he doesn't sleep until she's stable. Still, it's only fitful rest he gets, and he never leaves her bedside. He tells Annie that her mom's going to be fine, and holds her. Annie looks at Kate's prone form on the bed, and nods quietly. The kid knows she'll be fine. Benny and Kate don't lie to her. When he got stung, he knows Kate told her that he might die. Annie cried for a bit, and then Kate told her to save her tears for when she needed them. Annie listened.
Maybe they really are fucking up this kid, and maybe they're making her something special.
He makes sure he's not around, though, when Kate wakes up.
"You son of a bitch," are the first words to leave her mouth.
Benny shrugs. He can't deny it.
"You fucking shot me. Again." Her voice is thick and hoarse.
"Nothing you couldn't handle, pussycat. Not after your mountain expedition, huh?"
"You son of a bitch," she says again. She sounds grumpy, resentful, and...pleased.
Benny knew he was right. She can't hide shit from him anymore.
"Pussycat, you don't want a guy who won't shoot you in the head. Hundreds of guys have tried that, and I don't see you raising their kids."
"You're such a smug little shit, Benny. What the fuck would you have done if I'd died?"
"You wouldn't have died."
"You didn't know that."
He laughs. "You act like I've never seen you fight, baby. All hitting your head does is slow you down a little."
Kate sighs and slumps into the pillows. "Annie?"
"Didn't want to tell her too much until I got your blessing."
She waves a hand. "Ugh. I guess I'll explain to her why daddy dearest shot me in the head. Again."
He holds his palms up. "She knows I did it once."
"That girl needs better parents."
"We love each other, and we love her. Ain't that enough?" He holds his breath, because this is the make-or-break point.
Kate eyes him, and then, slowly, says, "Yeah. We love each other. And we love her. It's enough."
She never wanted a guy who was under her heel. She never wanted a guy who'd never fight back, who'd go easy on her, who'd treat her like something precious.
He's never going to make it so he didn't shoot her, so he didn't fuck her up, so he didn't rub out her whole past. But this time, he stuck round. This time, he shot her because of who she was, not because she was in the way. She wanted a guy who'd shoot her in the head and then wait for her to wake up, and that's all that Benny can give her.
Suddenly, she smiles, and takes his hand, and he knows it's enough.
Fuck it if they're raising Annie wrong. If she turns out anything like them, she's gonna do fine.