Lily bolted out the door, throwing it open with such a great force, that when it flung back, it nearly nailed Ulysses on his way out behind her. They hadn't even been in the village for two weeks and they were already heading out. Six swayed and bounced as she walked, causing the head of her little stuffed bear, sticking out from the top of her bag, to bob side to side. She was suddenly so alive and full of excitement that she simply couldn't contain, like she was answering to some greater calling. Strong gusts of wind pushed at them, sending dirt flying up into the sky that was being darkened slowly by storm clouds. The courier carried on, kicking little stones away as she walked. She ran far ahead and punted a tumbleweed, sending it flying into stiff, yellow grass and bramble.
"Slow down. Don't want to be exhausted before dusk," he ordered, grabbing her pack to pull her toward him.
"Sorry," she piped, "Have you been to Yosemite?"
"Once. Don't remember much. It's inhabited."
"People," he replied sarcastically, "Refugees fleeing the Legion and NCR alike, traveling caravans, mercenaries."
The couriers were silent for a long time, walking toward the West, dark clouds rolling im. Ulysses hadn't even noticed that his fingers still gripped to a strap on the girl's bag like a security blanket, a leash almost: afraid of her running off. She didn't seem to mind though, occasionally glancing at him for some kind of direction or reassurance that he was still there. The stuffed bear stared at him with it's little button eyes, a small rain drop kissing one. He stopped, prompting Lily to as well. When she turned to him, a quizzical look on her face, he grabbed her shoulders and spun her around to tuck the little bear into her pack.
"What are you doing?" she asked, "He won't be able to breath!"
He snickered and decided to play along with her childish antics, "In that case he would've been dead already considering the way you squeeze him in your sleep. He'll be fine. Don't want him to get soaked, do you?"
She shook her head, smiling at the notion of him checking on her at night, until she felt her scarf being draped around her head and her pack being zipped completely.
"Storm's coming," he grunted, pushing her to press on toward the grouping of hills and mountains in the distance.
Lily looked up at the sky as they walked, watching the clouds swirling and accepting little droplets of water on her face. She hadn't seen rain since her adventure in Zion, but this was different. She heard what she interpreted as growling coming from the sky, causing her to jump.
"It's thunder," her companion tried to explain.
"Thunderstorm. It's fine. We should find shelter soon before it gets bad."
Another crash sent Lily into a state of slight panic, moving closer to her companion, clasping his hand like a child. Her palms were sweaty, fingers like ice. Courier Six shivered in the wind, rain falling harder with each passing moment, soaking through the pair's clothes. The scarf wrapped around her head flew back, exposing her hair. Bits stuck to her face and neck. She pulled it taut around her and held it under her jaw with her free hand. As they closed in on the mountains, her eyes averted to a shallow overhang carved into the rocks.
"This was such a bad idea," she groaned, before running for cover, wind beating her, companion following at her heels. She it the dry dirt under the overhang so quickly, she almost slid out onto her side. She flung her pack off and lowered herself onto the ground, back pressed against cold rock. "Oh—this was such a terrible terrible idea," she repeated, burying her face in her hands.
Ulysses calmly went to work unrolling and setting up a tarp, hooking it onto jagged pieces of rock and driving stakes into the bottom, sloping it in an attempt to shield them from the elements. "Wasn't a bad idea. Enthusiasm got the best of you though."
"Do you need help?"
"No. If the storm is scaring you, just sit. Still find it hard to believe you've never been in one."
Lily stood and rolled out her bedroll and started gathering twigs for a fire, setting them in a little pyramid, stuffing pages of a book between them. Each clash of thunder made her heart race. "I'm sure I have. I don't remember."
Night closed in quickly, and the storm didn't subside. Lily found herself with her bear tucked under her arm, head resting on her companion's thigh. The little fire burned valiantly, casting large shadows, bringing out golden undertones in Ulysses' skin that she'd never noticed before, beautiful patterns carved into his arms, scarred over.
"What are you thinking about?" she asked, studying his face closely.
"Nothing," he replied, gently sweeping her hair into a ponytail and letting it fall back onto his lap.
"It can't be nothing. You always looks so . . . angry."
"The why of—"
"You left, and the Divide sat in ruins. My world was destroyed," he said blandly, not even trying to conceal the fact that she was the key part of that world that was suddenly ripped from his hands. But he had her back, and she wasn't going to escape this time.
She seemed to be completely oblivious to this. All Lily could was lightly brush the burn scars on his arm with the tips of her fingers and say, "Sorry," once again. He could tell her to stop, and she'd brush him off. Slowly he was realizing that the Divide didn't matter anymore, though it meant so much to him. It was far behind him now, and only he was clinging to it hoping he could restore it to its former glory, and his subconscious using it against Lily in an attempt to make her stay.
Unbeknownst to him, Lily wasn't going anywhere: at least not without him in tow. She had nowhere to go. She could travel farther than Yosemite. She wasn't a mercenary, though people treated her as one. She didn't want to do dirty work for people. She also knew the whereabouts of her father. Maybe she'd run off to Baja after him.
She wouldn't leave without Ulysses though, and he wouldn't leave without her. As a matter of fact, he wouldn't let her. Being alone again: it would be strange for both.
"You still think it's my fault, don't you?" she whispered, pulling her bear closer. Lightning flashed, making the courier looked like a banshee for a split second: intense shadows cast on every sharp angle, skin glowing like an ash pile. "It's always about me destroying something, isn't it?"
"No," he replied as he closed his eyes, resting his head on the stone wall. He reached for her hip. She didn't flinch, or move for that matter, when he touched her, fingers tracing the little black letters that lined the contour of her hip. She trusted him, no matter how many times she denied it. "What does this say?"
"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Oscar Wilde: brilliant man."
"Is that why you haven't offed yourself?" he thought aloud, still running his fingers across her hip.
"Maybe. I don't know," Six sighed, pulling Ulysses' duster over herself, savoring the scent of old leather and dust, tracing the painted stars and stripes that formed the Old World flag. "I need to get my hands on a new jacket."
"Should've said so before we left," he grunted, shifting to lay beside her. "How are your stitches?"
The two stared up at the overhanging rock, not uttering a single word: eyelids heavy, breathing shallow. Lily slept pressed flush against Ulysses' back, both sharing the duster as a makeshift blanket. Throughout the night, her hands would ball into fists, clutching his shirt with each crash of thunder. When the light of the morning hit her eyes, she immediately grew concerned. Neither had kept watch, let alone worried about bandits or strange critters sneaking up on them. Sometime in the night, Ulysses had rolled on his back and pulled her against his side. He was always up before her, fussing with whatever he could get his hands on. Now vulnerable and sleeping, he looked so serene: dreads fanned out on the bedroll, lips slightly parted, the furrow in his brow smoothed over.
When he finally came to, he was in a confused stupor, wanting to sleep for the rest of time. Hesitantly, he rose to his feet and pulled his boots on. In the distance, he saw the silhouette of his companion sitting on a rock. She'd taken the tarp down, packed both bags, and stomped out the fire. When he finally joined her, she simply peered at him from the corner of her eye and passed him an apple, a bite already taken from it.
"It's the only one I have," she shrugged when he examined the red fruit.
"Should be eating something more substantial," he thought aloud, causing Lily to respond by tilting her head, squinting at him. "Fatten you up and sell you to cannibals."
"Wh—what?!" she stuttered. "Did you just make a joke?"
She laughed, "Yes, you did."
He simply shook his head, grinning.
She nudged his shoulder with her own, kicking her legs a bit, hair frizzy from the humidity and already falling out of a loose bun. "You're impossible."
Author's Note: I really like the idea of them quoting poets and writers all the time. It seems so fitting. You might see more of it in the future. :3