Drabble #3

Jul. 8th, 2017 03:40 pm
mishisings: (writing ur endingz)
[personal profile] mishisings
This one got really long, for a thing that was just supposed to be an excuse to use a screenshot of Toni flipping the bird at a jukebox.


A couple of nights ago, Butch overheard her crying in her room. His bed was on the first floor, and hers on the second, and she was trying to be as quiet as possible, but if the walls were any thinner, they'd be non-existent. (He'd bugged her and bugged her to stay in her house at Megaton rather than getting a room at Moriarty's or stealing a bunk at the common house, until she finally caved and purchased what Moira had assured them both was the only decoration package that included an extra bed: the Love Machine theme. "It's hideous and it takes up space," she'd said. "It's perfect for you!" And proceeded to walk all over it in the daytime whenever it wasn't in use. Dogmeat also likes to curl up there, so in short order the bed was full of dog hair.)

Butch easily guessed what the crying was about. She's tough as nails and pragmatic on the field, and she would never show weakness to him, but she'd just lost her dad and her home and her best friend one after the other. And, in a rare moment of self reflection, he thought about all that she'd done for him. She saved his mom. She talked the overseer into stepping down and letting Amata open up the vault. She even got this stupid bed with the red sheets for him. And what had he done for her? Watched her back on a couple of trips, sure. Bought her a drink. Once. Carried her stuff. Teased her at every opportunity. (Not to mention all the crummy things he'd done to her back when they were kids.) So he tried to come up with something nice to do for her.

Last night she cried again, but he's got a plan. He's been working on it ever since the first night he noticed, while she's mending her clothes or chatting with Moira about their book. And he's ready when she wakes up in the morning. She goes over to the fridge and takes out a package of cram and yum-yum devil eggs. Clears out a space on the shelf so she can empty the package onto two plates, even before she asks "Want some?" and it amazes him again how much consideration is second-nature to her. But he's on a mission.

"Sure. Uh." Consideration is not second nature to him, and he's unsure of how to broach the subject without putting her on the defensive. Especially given their goddamn history. "Noticed you been feeling down lately." he starts as he sits down next to her on the stairs.

Toni turns to look at him, her eyes still red from last night. "What mighty powers of perception." She glares, daring him to continue this line of questioning.

Butch bristles, hackles automatically raising, but he catches himself in time. "I ain't tryna start something, I swear!"

She sighs. "Butch, I don't really want to get into it right now."

God forbid they actually talk about it, Butch thinks, relieved. He's no good at talking. "Sure thing, babe."

"Don't call me babe." comes the automatic response.

"Only, you know the jukebox? You know how it's got a built-in radio?"

"What about it?" she asks, attentive.

"I been fiddling with it. It's a two-way radio now."

"You've been messing around with the radio? Since when have you been good at electronics?"

"'Ey, the Butch-man is good at everything!"

"Butch, you passed every test in high school with the bare minimum score. Now you're telling me you got that hunk of junk Moira sold me to roll over and cry uncle? Stop pulling my leg." She's rolling her eyes.

"I swear to god, Toni. Just try it and see." He rarely calls her by name. Or rather, he rarely calls her Toni. No one ever calls her Plutonia, not even her own father, as far as Butch can recall. Hopefully that'll let her know he's serious.

It seems to do the trick. "Why'd you want to turn it into a two way radio, anyway? Who would we call?"

"Um. Vault 101, if you want. I know you're not allowed back there, but maybe you could still talk. If you wanted to. I thought maybe you were homesick." his voice is rushed, feeling the risk now that he's saying it. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now that he's looking at her eyes, at her face, and remembering the sullen anger in her expression as she pushed past him and out of the clinic, out of the vault, out of all of their lives, maybe this was precisely the wrong thing to do. Her expression is unreadable and she's honestly a sweet girl (if you're not on her bad side) but he thinks he probably underestimated how pissed she is at Amata.

"Or you can call them up and tell them to go fuck themselves." he adds, desperately. Her lips curl, almost unwillingly, into a smile.

"Tempting."

-----------------------------------------

They finish their breakfast in a hurry, and Butch leads her up the stairs and to the jukebox with a joking bow. "You ready?" he asks her.

"I'm still not convinced this will even work. And how do you know anyone will be listening in on the other end? The vault's been isolated for 200 years."

"I was sposed to report in weeks ago, so they should be good and worried. They'll respond." he responds, pressing a few buttons on the jukebox. It lights up and begins emitting static. Then he starts adjusting dials. Hard to judge the right frequency when there's no panel, but at least he has an idea of where he's aiming.

"Wait, you were supposed to report in? Why am I hearing about this just now?"

"How do you think I got Amata to let me leave? I'm supposed to be an advance scout or some shit like that."

"And instead you fucked off to Rivet city?"

"Fuck'em. They kicked you out."

"Butch."

"What do you care? I-" and the static from the jukebox resolved itself into a voice.

<...Come in, Butch. Come in. 101 to Butch, please respond.> It's Amata's voice. Butch looks silently at Toni. He didn't think Amata would be handling communications personally. It's almost too perfect, and he doesn't know what Toni will do. He waits. For a moment they stand frozen in place, staring at each other.

Toni picks up the mouthpiece. "Hello, overseer." she says, flatly.

<Toni!> exclaims the radio. <I wasn't expecting to hear from you again.>

"Don't worry, Butch is with me. He's fine."

<Oh, don't tell me Butch is making you report in for him! Of all the irresponsible->

"So, it's just business as usual? You kick me out of the vault and then you're talking to me like that never happened?"

<Toni, please don't be this way. I already told you why I->

"You're a real piece of work, you know that? You called me back to the vault, I solved all your problems, and I even did it without killing your shitstain of a father, even though he's a liar and a murderer and deserves a punishment way worse than some cushy retirement. For you, just for you, because I thought we were friends. And then when you got what you wanted, you get rid of me. Just like that. Thank you, your job is done, now fuck off back to where you came from. How dare you."

<Toni, it wasn't an easy decision->

"No, it was easy. You said people still blamed me for the deaths during my escape? THEN YOU COULD HAVE TOLD THEM IT WASN'T ME. You could have told them the truth, that your asshole dad lied to them. But that would have been hard, wouldn't it? People would have asked awkward questions. The only one of us who killed someone that night was you, Amata. You killed Stevie Mack, because all I had was my BB gun and my baseball bat, and I snuck past all the guards. I left you the gun, and even when people were shooting at me I didn't shoot back. And I hope you're not the only person in the room over there, Amata, because I want the entire vault to know. That you're a hypocrite and a coward."

<Look, I didn't even know you wanted to come back->

"I don't. Good fucking riddance to the entire vault. You can all rot in hell."

<Is that all you called to do? To yell at me and insult me for a decision I made for the good of the vault? If it had been up to me->

"It was up to you, Amata. Don't try to pin this decision on someone else."

<Look, I need to talk to Butch about what he's found out about the outside world. Are you done or->

"He's quitting."

The voice on the other hand was a squawk. <He can't quit! He promised he would do some reconnaissance before he went off on his own!>

"And you believed him?"

Butch came out to have a good time and he's honestly feeling so attacked right now.

<I have to talk to Butch. Otherwise I need to send out scouts and I don't know if I can spare anyone else right now.>

"Your next scouts should check out Rivet City and talk to Doctor Li about setting up some kind of scientific exchange program. Goodbye, Overseer."

 

She flips off the jukebox, then flips the offswitch of the jukebox.

Butch grins. "You know she can't actually see you, right? Dork."

Toni sits down. Throughout the exchange, she had been wearing a deep frown. It softens now as she looks at Butch. "Yeah, but it makes me feel better."
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