A/N: I was playing Fallout 3 the other day and for some reason this was all I thought about while I followed Dad across the wastes.
Disclaimer: I don't own Fallout- if I did I'd be one happy camper.
The very moment James had seen his daughter in Dr. Braun's simulation he had felt a clenching in his chest. He had not wanted her to follow him, the wastes were too dangerous for a girl like Claire, someone so innocent, someone who couldn't even tell butch to bugger off. But there she was, talking with Braun or 'Betty' as he was calling himself, and in that moment he knew that they were going to get out of there, because if Claire had gotten there by herself then his baby girl must have developed some skills out in the wastes.
He knew his daughter had gotten them out of the simulation the very moment he had seen the Chinese soldiers hunting down and killing all of the residents- James had felt sad for them but he knew it was better for them this way.
When James awoke from the sleep the first thing he had expected to see was his daughter, instead he had been met with the sight of a Dog and a Ghoul standing by one of the pods waiting- were they waiting for his daughter?
"Excuse me-" James had tried to get the attention of the Ghoul but found that as he spoke the other pod chose to open. He watched with wide eyes as his daughter sat up and stretched as though waking up from a nap- it caused memories to flash into his mind, memories of his having to wake her up for school every morning.
He had desperately wanted to run and hug his little girl but from the looks of the Ghoul in the leather armour it was probably a good idea to wait until she was out and ready. He watched with wide eyes as she looked down at the Ghoul with a smile as he held his hand out to her. She grinned and took the offered hand. James watched with furrowed brows as the Ghoul held her hands as she stepped out of the pod, then his eyes went wide as said Ghoul then put his hands on her hips and effortlessly lifted her and placed her gently on the ground.
James wasn't sure what he was watching as his daughter smiled and said a 'thank you' to the Ghoul before she gave her dog a pat and a cuddle.
His finger's had twitched, in that moment James had never wanted to hold his daughter more. He did not however, instead he stood immobile watching as his daughter held a dog and was pestered with questions about her health by the Ghoul.
When she had finally noticed him James was relieved to note that she had graced him with a smile as bright as the one she had given her companions, and that she had also ran to him and given him a bone-crushing hug which he returned wholeheartedly.
From then they had discussed just what she was doing following him into the wastes and while looking back James knew he had been a little harsh on her but at the time he had been so angry and scared for her safety that he just couldn't help himself.
His darling Claire however had been so kind and understanding, she had apologised to him and explained that she had been worried about him and that she wasn't alone in the wastes. She had also agreed to escort him through the wastes back to rivet city- it was during this time he realised just how useless he was in comparison to his daughter and her companions. Hell even the dog killed more things than he did.
The trip to Rivet was long so they had camped a few times, each time he would notice something odd about his daughter and her companions.
James watched with amusement as his daughter attempted to start a fire while at the same time trying not to set fire to her pink dress- how in the blazes she had managed to get around the wastes wearing a pink dress and heels was beyond him, but somehow she managed to wield her assault rifle better than some of the brotherhood of steel boys.
"Urgh!" Claire groaned and threw the flint at the ground. "Charon help please!" she looked up at the Ghoul with an annoyed expression and let out a sigh.
The Ghoul did not say anything, he merely knelt down next to his daughter and picked up the flint. Within seconds there was a small flame burning brightly. The Ghoul, Charon, then placed the flint back in Claire's hands and walked back to his spot on the outskirts of the camp. James' eyes however did not miss the cheeky smile the two shared.
"Thank you Charon." She smiled and James felt his heart warm. She looked just like Catherine when she smiled, even without the smile the pair could have been twins, it was uncanny just how much alike they were. When he thought about it the only thing that he and his daughter probably shared were the brown hair and their interest in science.
"Dad?" James almost jumped at the sound of his daughter. He glanced up and noticed her looking at him with a tilted head. "You okay?"
James nodded. "Just thinking about your mother." He replied and watched as she smiled- by the gods did she look like Catherine.
"What was she like?" Claire asked as she held some iguana sticks over the fire.
James smiled as he thought about his wife. He honestly wasn't sure how to explain her to his daughter. "She was… Beautiful, smart… she was so much like you Claire."
A sound that sounded suspiciously like a snort came from the direction of the Ghoul and James found himself frowning. The Ghoul had so far said nothing on their trip and now he was laughing at his description of his wife? James' fingers twitched and he desperately wanted to ask his daughter what was with the Ghoul but he couldn't bring himself to do so.
Claire poked her tongue out at the Ghoul before turning back to her father. "That's Charon." His daughter supplied, as though she knew just what her father was thinking about. "I met him in the museum of History."
James instantly thought of underworld and then he wondered just how far around the wastes his daughter had been in her search for him. "I see. How did he come to travelling with you?"
Claire turned the iguana sticks around, as she did this a soft smile took her face as though remembering a fond, special memory. "I was a little lost in D.C while trying to help Three Dog, I somehow managed to find myself in the Museum of History." She rotated the sticks in her hands. "All I can say is that the people there were a heck of a lot nicer than those in Tenpenny Tower, or Megaton for that matter." She shook her head.
James looked at his daughter with a frown, she had just told him that she preferred the company of the Ghouls than people.
"Anyway when I went to the ninth circle bar I found Charon there and discovered he was stuck working for… a less than kind person, so I bought his contract and tried to set him free, he refused and has been with me since."
Claire finished turning the iguana sticks. She walked over to Dogmeat and pulling off one of the cooked iguana's she passed it to him. The dog let out a happy bark and munched onto the food.
"Here dad." She smiled and passed him over two of the sticks. She nodded when he said thanks to her.
James watched with curious eyes as his daughter walked over to the Ghoul with two Iguana sticks in her hands. When she reached him she held out one of the sticks to him. From where James was sitting it almost looked as though her cheeks had gone red, though that might have been the fire. He watched with sharp eyes as the ghoul, Charon, reached to take the food from her- his eyes did not miss how Claire's thumb rubbed against his hand as their fingers brushed, nor did he miss the smile the pair shared before she moved to come back to the fire.
"This looks like a nice place to camp tonight!" his daughter announced with her hands on her hips as she walked into the old house. If you could call it a house, as the only thing that seemed to be holding its remaining three walls and the hole ridden roof was the weather worn studs that looked as though they would break at any moment.
James opened his mouth to suggest they look for another place, but he instead shut it, there was no use in disagreeing seeing as though it was getting very dark and it looked almost as though it was going to rain. There was also no sign of any other for of shelter anywhere near here, so in any event his disapproval of the place would not have mattered.
James watched with a smile as Dogmeat ran over to his mistress and the pair lavished affection on each other. His smile turned to a frown, however as he noticed The Ghoul, Charon, walk past him and begin to set up a fire in the centre of the house. James wasn't racist by any means, he never really had any thoughts either way about ghouls and as a scientist he found himself feeling sorry for them. There was, however something about Charon that rubbed him the wrong way. He had a feeling it was to do with The Ghouls relationship with Claire, he had a feeling that the pair were closer than they were letting on- but his daughter wouldn't do that… would she?
"Charon you don't need to do that." Claire said. "You made me this lighter, remember." She held up the metal zippo with a smile. "I can do it now you know."
"And risk you burning the house down?" there was a hint of a smile on his face.
Claire poked her tongue out and gave him a soft smack on the back. He chuckled in response and continued making a fire.
James' found the ease in which the pair interacted was a little disheartening. While he knew that his daughter was very accepting of people, he hadn't thought she would have no problems with Ghouls, especially since she had grown in a vault her entire life. He would have thought that she of all people would have been disturbed, if not terrified by them. Instead however his daughter seemed to prefer the ghouls to people, at least that is the impression he got from their conversations.
The evening seemed to go completely uneventful, they ate and the wastes were silent. It seemed as though everything was asleep, it was a nice evening. Charon had chosen to be the first watch and that didn't bother James in the slightest, he may not like the ghoul but he trusted in the guy's ability.
James awoke to the sound of gunfire. Jumping from his makeshift bed he grabbed his handgun and aimed furiously as his eyes adjusted. After a few moments of furiously blinking, the area around him became visible. His eyes locked onto his daughter who was kneeling behind one of the house's broken walls with her Assault rifle in tow. Every few moments she would lean around to fire at what appeared to be raiders.
James ran to a large rock that was just outside the house and used it for cover while he took out some of the raiders. He took care not to shoot Dogmeat who was mauling the raiders- and doing a very good job at it. He wondered where Charon was, he couldn't see The Ghoul, but from the way the Raiders were dropping like flies he could only assume that he was sniping from somewhere.
Then James saw it, a raider with a Rocket launcher, a bloody Rocket Launcher where the hell could that bastard have got one of those was beyond him. But that was the least of his concerns when he noticed the Raider take aim at his daughter.
"Claire!" he shouted firing rounds at the raider, each one missed miserably.
Claire looked over, her eyes widening at the raider and she turned to get out of the way. It was too late however as the raider had fired and the rocket was shooting towards the house. What happened next seemed to happen in slow motion: Dogmeat took out the raider and James moved to get to his daughter as the rocket hit one of the supporting beams of the house. James watched in horror as the beam gave out and caved onto his daughter.
"Claire!" he screamed running to the rubble.
There was smoke and dust everywhere, not to mention the debris from the house. Dogmeat charged at the house and with a whimper tried dragging pieces of wood away. James did his best at trying to help the dog and as they furiously moved logs and metal sheets away they heard a sound, it was a groan and the movement of the rubble. James continued to pull at the debris and when he had finally moved most of the sheets, the last sheet of metal moved and James was met with the sight of Charon lying on top of Claire, the Ghoul having protected her with his body.
He opened his mouth to say something but for some reason lost his words, even Dogmeat had gone silent.
"Charon?" Claire touched the chest that was covering her face. "Are you alright?" worry took her face when he didn't respond.
When he finally let out a cough she smiled weakly and rested her hands on his back in a soft hug. "Thank you." she whispered.
He let out another cough and pushed himself up so that he was resting on his elbows, he didn't move up from the position on the ground though. Claire in turn scooted up a little and used her forearms to prop herself up a little bit. This action caused the pairs faces to almost touch. She lifted a hand to the leathery texture that was his cheek.
"Are you okay?" she asked again.
Charon looked up, his blue eyes locking with her brown. Any onlooker would say that there seemed to be an unspoken conversation occurring between the pair, or the way lovers would communicate with each other.
"I will be." He finally said. His voice sounded hoarse, more so than was normal for a Ghoul. He really needed some water, or a stimpak, or both.
She rubbed his cheek. "Good." She closed her eyes and rested her forehead against his. "Thanks again."
He smiled in response. "You are welcome."
It had been that moment, that exact moment when the Ghoul had saved his daughter that James realised the full extent of the pairs relationship. He noticed how Charon would always enter the building before her, even if it was a safe place. He noticed how the ghoul would stay close to her as she slept, making sure that she was safe during the night. If she was injured he was always there with a stimpak to fix her. He had noticed the caring, loving, look in the ghouls eyes whenever he talked to Claire.
In Claire he noticed how she would always make sure that he had supplies to keep himself alive. She would always make him a bed/ sleeping bag, regardless of his comments that he was fine. She would always ask his opinion before even asking James and even if James gave an opinion on something she would usually take the Ghouls suggestion.
Claire defended him furiously, someone had made a racial comment about Charon while they had been in rivet City and the poor guy had found the butt of an Assault rifle hitting his head, alone with an angry Claire shouting at the guy about how he was disgusting and how she wished he would get eaten by a super mutant for his racism- he had never seen his daughter more angry than when she was defending Charon.
Lastly he was not oblivious to the loving glances the pair gave each other when they thought no one was watching, nor did he miss the hidden hand touches.
So when James found himself locked on the purifier, dying of radiation and telling his daughter how much he loved her, he looked to the Ghoul, no Charon, and told him that he needed to look after his daughter. Although he didn't get the chance to tell them that he was okay with their relationship and whatever came out of it, he didn't think he needed to. Charon seemed to know and he knew that even though he was about to die, he didn't need to worry about his baby girl… she was going to be looked after, and protected by someone who loved her just as much as he did… he smiled and closed his eyes…
A/N: When this came into my head I hadn't planned on ending it like this, I'm not sure how I feel about the ending now… oh well I hope you all liked it.