A/N: Yup, I wrote it, finished it, and posted it all at once. Miracle, ain't it? Short and sweet.
Disclaimer: I do not own.
The view of the dimming New Vegas horizon was incredibly satisfying from atop the Lucky 38.
The Legion hadn't stood a chance against an army of Mark II Securitrons, and the ones who survived the battle were dispersed. Without Caesar or his higher officers to keep them together, the eighty-six unified tribes crumpled and broke apart. Many resettled in the Wasteland. The majority of them scattered to land east of the Mojave. The old tribes began reforming again, this time planting roots in the desert. Benny couldn't care less; if anything, more tribes meant more people. More people meant more trade, and trade meant wealth. Eventually, that wealth would trickle into the Strip from the pockets of gamblers and those who were drawn in by the promise of luxury.
It meant he had no qualms about removing the New California Republic. When they tried to throw their weight around, Pussycat threatened to have General Oliver thrown from the Dam. Yes-Man, that classic sycophant, was all for it. Benny wouldn't have particularly minded the show, but he had hoped that they could have resolved the discussion of the NCR's relocation peacefully. Nevertheless, the General quickly backtracked, and Benny got his way: The NCR's military strongholds within the Mojave were bust.
Still, Benny wouldn't soon forget the General's parting words.
Think you got the guts to carve out a frontier? Build towns, protect the roads, run supplies, train troops?
Benny was fairly sure he did. He already had the cunning and the cojones to remove House, whose set-up had been pretty fucking impenetrable. Towns built themselves. People carried their own. If something needed to be done, there was always someone who cared enough to do it, because there was a living to be made off of it. In short, Benny thought Vegas could pretty much take care of itself. You didn't get by in the wasteland by being soft. The Mojave and its people didn't need no mollycoddling. Where was the fun of independence if you had someone holding your hand every step of the way?
But it was Pussycat who answered for him: "Yes."
There had been moments where Benny, in the back of his mind, considered putting another bullet or three in her skull. A strong part of him, the same part that had helped him make chief almost eight years ago, didn't want to share New Vegas. But by that point, he realized he'd found someone he didn't mind sharing with. He wanted to see New Vegas swing, and it seemed inevitable that she would be a part of it. Everything he wanted was still possible with her in the picture—more, even. She wasn't an obstacle. There would be no fighting for control, no power struggle to tear his beloved city apart: she would challenge him in other ways, but when it came to his ultimate goal, she gave him what he wanted. As long as she stuck by his side, he was keeping her there.
He had considered throwing out the Omertas and giving the White Hats the boot, and it was incredibly tempting to replace them with his own people, but caution stayed his hand. He might compete bitterly with them for business, but they offered unique services that brought in people from far and wide to the Strip. The Tops had the best acts around, but they couldn't compete with the food at the Ultra-Luxe, and they didn't specialize in strippers like Gomorrah. If he gutted them, he'd be gutting a vital part of his shining New Vegas. The Strip wasn't just about gambling; it needed panache, and variety was the spice of life.
Besides, he owned the Lucky 38 now. He could afford to be generous. They had twice the digs, and more caps than they knew what to do with. House had been filthy rich, and now it all belonged to him.
By keeping centralized control of New Vegas, and sending Pussycat out to visit towns she had formed connections with in the six months she had traveled independently, he had managed to avoid the anarchy and chaos that would have otherwise ruined his vision of a New Vegas. He maintained order on the Strip, and she persuaded—how, precisely, he neither knew nor cared—the various civilizations scattered along the Mojave to go along with his scheme. For one reason or another they obeyed, falling into line one after another like dominos. It was perfect.
Which brought him to this moment, this grand midnight finale, where the Strip was celebrating its newly-declared independence. He heard the elevator ding, and casually turned his head to look. Pussycat stepped out. Five-foot-seven of walking death and destruction in a the tightest little red dress he'd ever seen, she had removed every last inch of the Wasteland from her body and gave the illusion that she had finally been tamed. Benny knew better; under those heavy-lidded eyes and cherry lips, she was still his wildcat. He knew that in a week, she would be out again, stalking through fiend territory with nothing but a rifle and a machete and poking through abandoned mines. But then she would come back and scratch new welts into his back. She always did.
He crooked two fingers at her, and she crossed the distance between them. In one fluid motion, she moved to sit on his lap, tucking her cheek against his neck.
"Watch this," Benny whispered.
The streets were brightly lit with whatever could be found: old neon signs, lamps, and torches dominated the streets. Tables had been set up with gourmet food, a dozen poker and blackjack tables were strategically placed, and the center of the street was cleared for dancing. The place was packed with patrons. It wasn't exactly what Benny would call an alliance, when he knew every one of the three families would be giving each other the stink-eye, but he would definitely call it swinging. A few Securitrons could be seen patrolling the perimeter, but they were off in the shadows, only visible by the white light of their screens.
If one looked closely, they might vaguely make out a lone cyber-dog playing Poker at one of the tables.
Benny thought it was beautiful.
He turned his head to whisper into her ear: "Like what you see?"
She lifted her head and smiled, locking eyes with him. In the months that had followed their fledgling partnership, her habits hadn't changed. She still refused to answer rhetorical questions, preferred to stare you down instead of speak, and still dug her nails into whatever she could get her hands on when fucking him senseless. But he'd learned to read her better than anyone, and he knew that to her, this was another question with an obvious answer.
Sometimes, things go your way, but still don't happen like you think they should. It was moments like these that made Benny grateful that things had not all gone according to plan. You gambled, you rigged the odds, and you measured the stacks—but sometimes, you just have to throw a wildcard in and see what happens.
He kissed her forehead, right over the scar left behind by his bullet. "I just want to hear you say it, Pussycat."
"It's what, Pussycat?"
She smiled at him.
"It's New Vegas," she said. "Our New Vegas."