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Some times, you just need a vacation

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The lows of the Brahmin and the jostling of carts, heavy with goods were all around her. Her back was pressed against a hard, wooden crate that jumped slightly once in a while. She was tired after three Raider attacks in the same number of days. Arms across her chest, her head of thick, brown hair was tilted back against the crate with a dirty baseball cap pulled low. Just a few minutes to doze; it was all she wanted.


“Strong bored. Want to fight!!” A few groans and one or two shushes were the deep rumbling voice’s response. Nora felt a smirk cross her face as she tipped her ball cap up. She and her numerous companions were on a trade trail, heading to the Capital Waste. They were almost all camped out in the back of the cart that was being pulled by a four-cow team. Strong, a large super mutant with high intelligence for a super mutant, was sitting at the edge of the cart. He had a sharpener and his new ‘toothed’ board in his hands as he worked the teeth into even sharper points.


“Easy Strong,” Nora called from her napping place towards the front of the wagon. “MacCready says we will pass by at least two raider camps before we hit the Capital. We will have plenty of chances to fight.” Strong looked over his shoulder at her. Nora raised her eyebrow; she knew that look. Strong was about to challenge her, probably going to ask to go find them himself. Nora narrowed her eyes, just a little. Strong sniffled, muttered some grumbles, but turned back to watch out the rear of the wagon. Nora received a small breath; she and Strong were finally coming to an understanding of when not to push her.


“Yeah, Big Green, no worries. By the landmarks, we should be hitting those motherfu-hm raiders within the hour.” MacCready, her ex-gunner free-agent Merc companion, commented in his gentle baritone as he sat on one of the high crates to her right. He was sitting high enough that his legs were actually over the edge of the sides. He had his sniper rifle leaning against his right side as he held a pair of binoculars up to his gem-blue eyes. His light brown hair was tucked up neatly in his hat. He and Preston-who was to her left- where their immediate look outs. Preston Garvey, the last member of the Minutemen before he recruited her, was a dark-skinned man at about 6 feet even. His hair was short and tucked up inside an old time military hat. He had finally allowed her to upgrade him. He now had an automatic laser rifle that didn’t need to be wound to fire and could fire more than half a dozen shots at a time. It had taken her hundreds of caps and about 3 days’ worth of modifications, but it was worth it. Hell, Preston and her had gotten most of the caps back when they and a few others ripped through the raiders of Nuka World. Her smirk returned at the memory of freeing Nuka-World; opening up tons of trade and shelter for the Commonwealth. Hell, it might someday overtake Diamond City as the trade center of the territory.


“Anything on your PipBoy, Paladin?” came a back-shivering rich voice from her immediate left. Pulling up her cap more, she took in Danse. Now out of his old Brotherhood of Steel orange jumpsuit, Nora could really appreciate a ‘life’ of training on his frame. Broad and very fit, the roughed-up denim pants and farmer’s shirt with rolled up sleeves really suited him. His hair was still slicked back, but the deep black color caught the light just right. If she was ever truly honest with herself, he reminded her of Nate, except Danse’s eyes were a nice chocolate. He was a rouge-ishly handsome man; too bad there was ‘still a stick up his arse’ as Cait liked to say. Danse was polishing up several of the pistols and other weapons they were taking to the Capital to start up trade.


Nora wiggled her left arm out from under the warm furry body on her chest. Dogmeat gave a large yawn, and a horrible puff of breath, before laying his head back down on her ribs. Nora tapped the screen awake, and check the volume of her alert system. A testing beep rang in her left ear, signally that the device was at a decent volume. Checking the maps, she saw an outline of the raider pits to the west, like MacCready had mentioned. No hostile movement; not even a mole rat. “Nothing on the Pip, Danse, and stop calling me that. I just splintered the Brotherhood; I am pretty sure my title is null and void at this point.”


“What you did was give the Brotherhood a choice. Those that are with us now, made their choice to follow you.” Danse, direct as ever, looked to the other caravans. Nora knew who he was looking at. Using the Railroad, Minutemen and a few of the more passive members of the Brotherhood, Nora set out to make a new doctrine for the Institute. Father’s old way gave limited to no freedoms to just about everyone. The Scientists had been forced to work on assignments that they hadn’t wanted to. Synths were, of course, used as slaves despite being more clone than robot in her opinion. Since Father had named her as his successor before she betrayed the man, she promoted herself and her new doctrine to all. Synth would no longer be in production for labor. The FEV lab was to be reused into a curing lab. The entire staff would now be encouraged to do work on what they wanted and rewarded if it was work that would help recover the world at large. Father and a number of others were not interested in her plans, and tried to teleport her away. What they had not known was that she had already teleported a number of her allies into the building. At least 20 Brotherhood members, all of the Railroad, and half of the Minutemen. Nora had tried to reason with Shaun, but he was too damaged from being the servant of the Institute. Others who rebelled were taken top side and thrown in Minutemen jails. She held off on outright violence until one of the synth engineers coded a Synth to attack. 3 died, included the Synth. Many of the Brotherhood had wanted to outright destroy the Institute, but that came later. Nora and Shaun spent Shaun’s last days in his quarters. He didn’t speak much during that time, but Nora treated him like her son. She told him stories about their lives before the war. How his father had been a well decorated soldier that would have loved to have raised him. She told him of his grandparents who were so happy to have him. She told him about the few happy months they had, and how they had started saving for a college right away. She had been right by him as his breathing slowed and his eyes closed. He didn’t say anything to her at the end, but Nora told him goodbye. His body was taken to Sanctuary and laid to rest behind their old house.


The trouble with the Brotherhood, at least, waited until Shaun was buried. Elder had wanted to clear all of the people from the Institute and use Liberty Prime to destroy it. A 10 mm pistol in the face got him quiet long enough for her to talk. Hell, she had actually teleported him away to Sanctuary and forced him into a Powwow with her, the Minutemen, a bunch of Synths and settler ghouls from the Slog. Strong, Hancock, Danse and even Nick were there as she laid down the law. She was not interested in the Brotherhood, as it was, being in the Common Wealth anymore. Killing and hatred of innocent Synths and intelligent ghouls was really pushing her buttons. On top of that, The Brotherhood wasn’t interested in ‘helping’ the common man. They were interested in old tech. If they wanted info, true info, on old tech, they needed to talk to her or pre-war ghouls. The Brotherhood could easily turn into nothing more than another Institute and she was not interested. She offered him a number of choices, ranging from leaving completely, to helping the Institute people adjust to life on the upside and a number of others. Maxson had done a nice job of cussing her, and Danse, out. It didn’t matter; the whole conversation had been broadcast through the land, thanks to Travis’ microphone implant in Nick. The Brotherhood as a whole, and its individual soldiers, would make their choices, because the people of the Commonwealth made theirs. Most people quickly turned away from the Brotherhood members who wanted to only improve themselves. Through the winter, most of the Brotherhood was loaded onto the airship, and at the start of the new year, the Prydwen was gone. Those that stayed had been the ones who had joined her in taking the Institute to begin with. Now most of the Common Wealth wore the Minuteman Banner with numerous Railroad safe points. The Common Wealth was growing, with people, trade, and even some plants.


A growing Common Wealth meant that after a bit, there was need to grow out. That was what this trip was for. A way of spreading good will and supplies to other places. A chance for the Minutemen and The Common Brotherhood to introduce themselves to other territories and start bringing the world back together. That was Nora’s long-term dream. Even if it was just the East coast, she wanted to feel that connection with people again.


“Yeah, The Brotherhood was a dying breed anyway. Can’t exactly have fresh, new blood to warm up to if there’s no one allowed in,” came a voice that sounded like the owner had eaten gravel or had drunken flaming whiskey. Hancock and Deacon were up in the driver’s seat, sharing duties, cigarettes and being strangely agreeable to each other. Hancock, a low-down good-for-nothing (hardly) ghoul Mayor of Goodneighbor was the owner of that voice. Ghouls were an interesting breed. All were irradiated to the point of their skin falling off. All she had met were noseless, hairless, and with completely black eyes. Hancock, despite all those things, was still a lady killer… and a man killer. Nora had to lend that to his personality. Witty and with a silver tongue, he was definitely a charmer. He currently had a pair of pistols on his sides with a shotgun on his lap. He had the reins right now in his left hand with a glowing cigarette in his right. He grinned over his shoulder and winked at the others. “Not too many I’d want to warm up to anyway, even if they weren’t ghoul haters. Hell, Danse is the best looking one of the bunch and I’m not going to try snuggling him on a long cold night.” Danse shuddered in horror and clicked the safety off one of their trade pieces.


 Nora and Hancock laughed briefly before Deacon chimed in. “Who would want to cuddle up with someone with your face, Hancock? I don’t think there are enough Chems in all the Common Wealth for that.” Deacon was her spy/assassin/ ‘can’t believe a word he says’ companion from the Synth recovery and relocation side of the Common Wealth. As a spy, he was constantly changing himself. Right now, he was sunburned rouge type with a Deathclaw’s set of claw marks down the right side of his face. His wig was just like Sturges, black and slicked back like Elvis. And, as always, his mouth was getting him into trouble. Hancock transferred the reins to his right pinkie finger before slapping Deacon upside the head. Deacon winced, but was grinning. He went back to his clipboard and notes, keeping tabs on their fellow caravaners as a rifle was fitted in-between his legs.


“All he needs is to pull that hat over his face and I am sure someone would take him up on the offer.” Nora grinned back at the two and Hancock whistled low. “Damn, sister, sounds like you are making me a sweet little offer.” Nora snorted hard and waved him off as she sat up. Dogmeat protested, but just stretched and went over to flop on Danse’ knee instead. Standing up, and working the kinks out of her neck, she pulled out a spare scope and scanned the area too. Over to their left, the west, she could see Codsworth’s metal-orb-self bobbing up and down. He was at the farthest edge of their whole group. After her Pip Boy, Codsworth had the best senses to detect trouble. It still made her uncomfortable to see her little orb family member so far from them. Nora scowled and reached to throw her arm over Preston’s shoulder. The dark-skinned man tensed briefly before he turned to face her. It had taken all of her friends a bit of time to get used to how free with physical affection she was. Preston was actually the first one to comment on it. After killing the Deathclaw in Concord, Nora had jumped into the man’s arms in a victory hug. It was quickly explained that while Preston really didn’t mind, it wasn’t common. After that, she warned everyone about her victory hugs. They adjusted quickly. “Yes, General?” Preston asked in that smooth voice of his. God, if she could just get him and Danse to sing, they’d make a million caps with holotapes. “Signal Codsworth, please, Preston. I want him to come back for a few minutes.”


“You really worry about him, huh?” Preston smiled softly and set down his binoculars and dug a mirror from his front pocket. Opening it and catching the sun, the flashes caught Codsworth’s top eyebulb. He quickly flew towards them. “Can’t help it. Me and him have been through a lot. Robot or not, he’s been family for over 200 years.” Nora commented as she stayed leaning her head on Preston’s shoulder.


“It’s just a robot. No reason to get attached to something that isn’t human,” Danse muttered under his breath. Nora turned her eyes and stared at the man. It took a few moments of staring for Danse to look back up from his work. Noticing her look, he gulped quietly and nodded. Nora turned back to watch the approaching robot. Danse was still adjusting to the fact that he himself was a Synth. After a lifetime of human memories and The Brotherhoods ideals, Danse was not going to be agreeable with Synths, ghouls or super mutants as a whole anytime soon. He was making slow progress with her band of misfits, but he had lapses. Strong, Nick and Hancock took it all in stride, though Strong’s approach was to just shoulder shove him into a wall. It had the desired effect. Nick just hit him with every witty snide remark in the book. Nora sighed mentally, missing her other favorite Mayor.


Codsworth, her loyal Mr. Handyrobot, hovered up to her side with good cheer. “Hello there, mum,” a pleasant British accent sounding from the speaker inside one of his eye stalks. “Everything alright on your end, mum?”


“Everything is fine, Codsworth. I just want to check on you. Fuel, batteries and everything alright? Your temperature gauge?” Nora fussed gently as she fished a rag from nearby and reached out to wipe some of the dust from the eye bulbs. The eye panels widen and narrowed in what could be taken as a pleased expression.


“Nothing to worry atall, mum. I am fit as ever. Had a few bloatflies off behind us about 10 minutes ago, but nothing else has come up. Oh, one was carrying a few 10 mm rounds in its gullet when I killed it. Should I add them to the store?” Codsworth reached into his small carry bag around his right eyestalk and pulled out 5 fresh rounds. Why the damn flies ate them whole, she’d never understand. She took them and plopped them into her carry belt, hearing the Pipboy count them. “Thank you for checking on me, mum, but I’ll get back to my post.”


“On your way back, Codsworth, go to the front and check on Curie and Cait. If they need some more supplies to treat the wounded, we can spare a few more.” Nora commanded, and Codsworth raised his saw to his eye in a salute before flying off. Curie was her medical companion, a reprogramed Nanny bot. She had offered herself to the normal caravan members after that raid yesterday. Nora had asked Cait to be Curie’s hands for the more delicate things. Cait, in all of her piss and vinegar attitude, had agreed. Course, the fact that one of the injured was a fellow ex-slave who had been released from the same group might have helped. Nora squeezed Preston around the shoulders once more and left his side to kneel next to Strong. “How you holding up, Big Guy?” Nora added a shoulder bump for good measure to keep the Super Mutant in good spirits.


“Strong like new weapons, but Strong want to use them!” Strong half shouted and slammed his sharpener into his meaty, green thigh. She was surprised it didn’t break, but she patted his shoulder in good nature. “Soon, Big Guy. You are doing a great job on this trip. Are you still sad about what Milk of Human Kindness really is?” Nora questioned as she sat down on his side and threw her feet over the back like him. Hers didn’t almost reach the ground like his though.


“Strong not sad. Human use other word. Dis-a-point-ed? Strong wanted to show brothers human secret. Not secret. Super mutant brothers just can not care like humans. Humans’ kindness lets them grow. Let’s them keep fighting and winning against brothers. But Kindness makes humans’ strong. Stronger than some brothers.” Strong turned and looked down at her and even raised a finger to point at her face. “You beat all brothers. You strongest human Strong know. You are care-est human Strong knows.” Strong snarled and thumped his board into his legs. The fact that Strong was agreeing with some human ideals put him in a very difficult situation, Nora knew. Strong could probably never join a Super Mutant only group again. Smiling softly, she thumped his arm again, hiding the fact that it hurt her more than him. “I might be the strongest human you know, but there is one Super Mutant I can’t beat.” Nora grinned up and soon Strong was smiling-showing his teeth- down at her. “Yes, little human. Only Strong can fight you. Not beat you. You no beat Strong. Why we are good team.” Strong nodded to himself and started back on the teeth. Nora nodded too, and hopped up again. Going over to MacCready’s box and tapping her fingers on it, she rested her chin on her hand. Looking up at her young pup-she was 11 years his senior- she took in his ridged face. He was stiff and he kept licking his lips, catching his goatee at times. Nora had a guess of why her favorite hired gun was so tense. “Nervous?”


MacCready didn’t say anything at first, but Nora was patient. Finally, the man sighed and lowered his binoculars and looked at her. “A little. It’s been so long… I wonder what he looks like. Will he start looking more like Lucy or me now?” Nora smiled softly and stood up more to lean her cheek into his shoulder. “Well, if he looks like you, he’s a pretty good-looking kid.”  MacCready grinned almost shyly and scratched his nose. For all his closed-off-ness, MacCready was a good guy under it all. There was a lot she had to get through to see it, but it was worth it now.


Beep beep


A thin holoscreen crossed over Nora’s left eye, and she stiffened. A tiny row of red dots was forming along the west ridge. From the looks of it, they were right behind the western-most caravan. Codworth was still at the front with the med team. Nora held up her Pip Boy and adjusted it twice. A sense of tension soon passed to those around her. Deacon and Hancock hadn’t seen the signal, but Danse tapped his piece against his knee twice. Deacon must have noticed because he tapped his sunglasses twice, and Hancock spat out his cigarette.

“Where from, boss?” MacCready asked softly, lowering his binoculars. To their east, the furthest wagon’s guard also put his down and cocked his gun.

“Behind the last wagon on the west side. They are about 100 feet down the slope.”

MacCready grinned and nodded shallowly. “Yup, that is their trick. Orders?” MacCready cocked his sniper rifle and pulled his hat lower.


“Strong?” Nora glanced back to the rear of the wagon. She had to smirk as Strong was already off the wagon and reaching under it. She loved that damn minigun. “Preston, sound the alarm… NOW!!” Nora grabbed MacCready’s rifle, ignoring his protest, and slammed into VATS.


It was a hard shot, but with VATS and the long scope, Nora popped the first Raider to crest the hill. It blew the bastard’s face clean off. Her second and third shots caught the Raider after him in the shoulder and wrist, making him useless. But once VATS, ran out…


 Nora winced as she finally heard Preston’s whistle over her temporary state of slow time. Tossing the rifle back to MacCready, she reached behind the crates and barrels for her own stash of weapons. The first thing that came out was a string of grenades, which she passed to Strong. “Throw these first, big guy.” She didn’t need to worry about that order; the gory-er Strong could have something, the better. Nora grabbed her automatic, semi-machine gun and hopped off the wagon.


The whistle had done just as they had planned. All the wagons were pulling into the center and people were climbing out. Deacon took over the reins as Hancock popped fresh rounds into his shotgun and hopped off. Danse and Preston were right behind her as she took aim at the Raiders from behind some rocks. Danse, stubborn oaf he was, just charged forward. Nora snorted and grinned to her left as Preston sighed. Poor Synth was so used to his Power Armor, he sometimes forgot when he wasn’t wearing it. Taking aim and letting rip, Nora took down one of the Raiders that was about to lob a grenade at Danse. She didn’t even look down as a whoosh of air ran past her on her left side; Dogmeat was a snarling tornado as he charged and weaved. The dog was a damn psychic as he seemed to dance right around all the grenades that Strong was heaving. The 30 Raiders quickly whittled down to ten or so when a new alarm from her Pipboy sounded.




At least another dozen were circling them from the left and heading straight for the wounded. Ignoring the buck shot that chipped the rock by her ear, she grabbed Preston by his collar and held his eyes. Preston, as always, caught on quickly that something had come up. By the way his eyes looked past her to the front, told her he could see them.


“Preston, do me a favor, and get Big Momma.” Preston’s eyes widened, but Nora didn’t have time. Letting go of his collar, Nora sprang up and took off for the front. She brought two fingers up to her mouth and whistled, hoping Dogmeat heard it. She dropped into VATS again and aimed for the couple that were trying to kill the Brahmin. A blaze of tiny bullets slammed into them, but Nora mentally snarled as it seemed like they had leaded weave. She was pushed out of VATS as a bullet hit her left shoulder. She damn near crumbled, but a pair of arms pulled her down and behind one of the wagons. “Shit, sister, it’s not like you to run straight in.” Nora leaned into Hancock as he pushed aside her Vault suit’s material to look at the wound. “Shit, it’s in there. We need some forceps-“


“Hancock, I love you, but not now,” Nora put her submachine gun into the wagon, hissing as a bullet just missed her but gave her a good burn. “Got something else with you?” Hancock winked and handed over his pistols, and an inhaler. “Oh Hancock, I could kiss you.”


“I will hold you to that. Remember, princess, you only need one hit,” grinned the Ghoul just as Dogmeat ran up to them. Nora mentally sighed at her weakness to such helpful chems. She had no tolerance to anything, making even small amounts have nearly double the effect. Nora pats the bloodied dog before pulling the safety off of the guns. “Shall we dance?” She asked, making Hancock wink again. Reaching back into his coat, and his chem stash, he pulled out some Buffout pills and popped them. He then ran out from behind the wagon first, blasting his shotgun, and a red dot winked out. Dogmeat stared up at Nora, until she said, ‘Go around’. The dog took off to the front of the wagon and snarled his way into the fray. Placing the second gun under her arm, Nora shook the inhaler, before puffing it into her mouth.


It was very similar to VATS; the slowing down of time and everything around her. Unlike VATS though, Nora could get up and moved. She dove out from behind the wagon with the pistols up. The two closest Raiders were nearly frozen under the use of JET, but she wasn’t. She popped two bullets into each of their heads before they ever moved in her chem view. She used the next 30 or so seconds to unload the other 8 bullets before time started to go back to normal. Diving again, this time behind a few bodies and some 200 year old weeds, she looked up and felt her blood run cold.


Codsworth and Curie were curled up in ‘deactivated mode’ on either side of a pile of bloodied bodies. Nora could see Cait’s arm wrapped around another woman, but could not make out if either was breathing. Rage quickly built inside of Nora as she sprang up again and took off towards them. All the rage was quickly burned up by pain as a not so dead Raider slammed a sledgehammer right into her upper hip and stomach. Rolling to a stop and glaring at the prick, she dodged his next strike and kept rolling. She had seen something behind him and she wanted out of the way. Just as the man was about to raise the weapon again, Strong slammed into him from behind. Having a nearly 8 foot, 450-pound super mutant slam into you at full speed… Nora wrinkled her nose as the man’s body bent in the completely wrong direction. Strong gave a battle cry of victory over the body, before walking over to her. His minigun was strapped to his left hip, but he had a second weapon pulled over his shoulder. Nora grinned as she stood up, fighting against the wince. One thing you didn’t show Strong was when you were hurt.


“Strong, is that my Big Momma?” Nora offered her hands up as the super mutant slung the weapon off his shoulder and a bag full of missiles. Strong grinned wide as Nora began setting up the missiles; he was a much bigger fan of larger weapons. Finally, getting the missile into position, and lifting the heavy weight to her shoulder (oh fuck, that bullet), she slammed once more into VATS. There were 3 Raiders still in the West, but Danse had one by the throat, MacCready’s bullet was literally slamming into another as she watched, and Preston had the third on the ground with the laser rifle to his head. In front of her, the last five or six Raiders were making a run for it, with a few small crates of supplies between them. Nora was briefly amazed at how little the Raiders were getting out of all the destruction they were causing. It didn’t matter; they weren’t getting far. She highlighted the middle of the group and let fly the missile, hissing and swearing under her breath at the recoil. The missile flew slowly in her VATS, but she could watch as one of the tail-end Raiders saw his death approaching. She winked out of VATS just was the missile connected and the Raiders disappeared from her view. Gritting her teeth, she pulled the missile launcher to her good side and looped the bag of missiles over it. “Strong, dinner is served.” Nora still felt her stomach roll some as Strong nodded and went to go claim a body. “Remember, away from camp.” Nora called as the super mutant went among the bodies.

Now was the time that her knees gave out and she slammed face first into the groun- oh wait, nevermind. Face first into a pair of arms that held her up. “Damn, Professor. Thought you only used Big Momma in extreme cases.” Deacon pulled her missile launcher and missiles off of her shoulder and onto his own back, still somehow propping her up as he did so.


“Not now, Deacon. Get to Cait and the others,” Nora tried pushing herself off the Railroad spy, but he held on to her waist. Whistling to the air, Dogmeat was soon by their side. “Who is a good pup? You stay here with your mom, alright Dogmeat?” Deacon set her down gently and Dogmeat leaned on her good side. “I’ll be right back, Prof.” Deacon pulled the weapon’s strap and heaved the two back towards their wagon.


“General?”  “Paladin?”  Oh, good lord, those voices. Nora looked back as Preston and Danse came running up. Danse’s farmer shirt was completely destroyed from bullet holes, blood and just general rips. At most times, Nora would have moaned at the sight of Danse’s barreled and hairy chest. Damn, what was with her and military men? Preston was roughed up with blood and dirt, but ok save for a long gash from his ear to chin. Both men moved to help her stand, but she shooed them off. “Get to the wounded first. I’m fine. Small bullet to the shoulder, and a chem crash. It’s nothing. Go.” Danse nodded and took off quickly, but Preston hesitated, looking concerned. Nora raised her eyebrow, and hugged Dogmeat for good measure to show that she was fine. Preston nodded and took off too.


“Whoo-boy, now that was a good show,” Hancock was pleased with himself as he lit a new cigarette, before crouching down next to her. His hat was gone and he had his traditional coat slung over one arm. His dapper white, frilled wrist and neck shirt was unbuttoned at the top. Roughed up and smelling of Psycho, Hancock brushed blood from the corners of his eyes as he looked her over. “Now, about that kiss…” Hancock leaned in… and good boy Dogmeat licked him from chin to nose. Nora snorted and laughed, before hissing and digging into her damaged shoulder. “Alright, you furry mutt. Keep her right here while I go get some tools.” Hancock rubbed his face with his coat as he walked off.  “YOU ARE NOT TOUCHING MY SHOULDER, HANCOCK!” Nora called after him. Finally, with no one fussing over her, Nora clicked her tongue and Dogment laid down and Nora leaned her head on the boy. Her heart was still thumping from the Jet, but all of her adrenaline was gone and Nora passed out for a few seconds.


She was woken up quickly as hands grabbed her to roll her off Dogmeat. Instinct based on life in the Common Wealth, Nora backhanded her assailant. Danse didn’t even flinch as he fully rolled her over to her back, but she did. “Sorry, Danse. I went out for a few.”


“Nothing to worry about, Paladin. The gh…. Hm, Hancock said you were hit in the left shoulder. Time for some field treatment.” Danse was still shirtless (and stunning), but he smelled of alcohol and Med-x. Said chem was in his hand, and he gently injected a few mils into the left side of her neck. Her shoulder and a good bit of her left arm went blissfully numb. Nora sighed happily before pulling her right hand up to start unzipping the suit. A zipper on her wrist came loose and she reached up to pull the main zipper down some. Danse held on to her sleeve as she pulled her arm free, but had to be creative and quick to not flash the man. Her off-white undergarments weren’t exactly worth showing to the whole world. Her whole left arm was limp now and Dogmeat moved up to rest his body across her chest, over her modesty covering arm. Danse quickly cleaned the wound with some whiskey and took some forceps in to pull out the bullet. Another quickly dousing of whiskey and three stitches and Nora was good to go. Course she had to wait for the feeling in her arm to come back before she could pull her arm through.


By the time Danse was stitching her, Codsworth and Curie had woken up and had come over. Codsworth had insisted she drink some fresh purified water he made and Curie was congratulating Danse on his work. Cait, Curie said, was concussed, but alive. She had been pistol whipped by a Raider while protecting some freed slaves. Deacon and Strong had gone through all the bodies and looted all of them. Strong had followed her orders and had taken his dinner and wrapped it up in a tarp to hide it from the others. Hancock was organizing everyone back into order, showing off his true skills as a leader. Preston was more hands on; securing broken crates, catching a few stray Brahmin and tying them back to their wagons. MacCready and a few others were still on the lookout, but Nora saw him look over at her through his scope a number of times. “Danse, could you go help get our teams back in alignment? Curie and Codsworth can help me from here.”


Danse nodded and went to help Preston, as Nora shooed Dogmeat off. Both of the robots moved quickly to cover her from peeking eyes, with Curie moving her arm back into its sleeve. Codsworth offered his arms and Nora pulled herself to her feet. Both of them insisted Nora finish the purified water and walked her back to the wagon. Not that it took much insisting; she was cotton-mouthed from the chem. Just as everyone was getting ready to leave, her PipBoy lit up again. Everyone stilled, but the clap of thunder told them it wasn’t an attack, but a rad storm. Nora and the normal caravan-ers made a quick agreement; they would stay in the Raiders old camp, until the storm passed through.


A few of the Slog-trader ghouls were to watch the Brahmin up at the top of the crest as everyone else moved down the hill. Deacon, true to his spy nature, had somehow gotten ahead of all of them. It turns out there were a few Raiders left, but all were bonded and gagged with Railroad napkins by the time they all got down. Further into the Raider camp, it soon became obvious why these Raiders were so hard to get rid of. Their camp was on the outside of a deep cave, in which everyone could get in. Nora and her companions took an old camper trailer that had been moved into the cave. Whiskey, bourbon and vodka were being passed around between them. Strong, now full and content, was grumbling about ‘humans drink, humans become weak’ and was leaning against the outside of the trailer. His old blanket was fanned out over his legs and he was holding his large stuffed Yao Guai-skin teddy bear that Nora had made for him. He was dozing, but not fully asleep.


Hancock and Deacon seemed to be trying to out lie each other; Nora really couldn’t tell anymore after the ‘seen a Super Mutant in a brothel’ story. Danse had to down three of Vadim’s moonshines just to get buzzed, while Preston and MacCready were half slumped over at this point. Nora was feeling fine and dandy, thank you. She finished off her last bites of Cram and her fifth vodka and Nuka. Both Codsworth and Curie were at the entrance of the cave with a few other look outs, and Dogmeat was being used as a pillow by the lounging MacCready. Sighing contently, she leaned herself over to her left and met the solid muscle of Danse’s arm. He pulled a full bottle of bourbon to his lips and sucked it all down. Nora rubbed her cheek into his arm and closed her eyes, hmming softly as Danse wrapped that arm around her waist, likely to hold her up.


“…telling you. They were as big as Strong’s fists. All of the shirts she wore were either tank tops or busting at the seams.” Deacon exclaimed, flailing his arms-and spilling his drink- to make the story more dramatic.


“If a woman had breasts like that, she couldn’t aim a sniper rifle. They’d get in the way. Now, a good pair of tits on a woman need to be a bit bigger than-“


“Gentleman, please. We aren’t alone,” Preston called from his position by the fire as he leaned backwards against a trading crate. Nora smiled at him. Preston was a gentleman, and wasn’t interested in ‘guy’ talk around women. If Nora wasn’t drunk, she would probably tell the two the same thing. The thing was, she was drunk.


“You need a woman with a pair like mine. Big enough to see and imagine, but not get in the way of a missile launcher.”


It was stone silence for about two seconds before Deacon and Hancock both literally rolled onto their back, howling in laughter. Preston was stunned and from his face, half way mortified. She pretended she didn’t notice MacCready’s stare at her chest under his hat, or the way Danse’ hand tightened for just a second.


“And with that, time for the greatest tits in the land to hit the hay,” Nora grinned and pushed herself up, using Danse as a crutch. Wobbly and very drunk, Nora tried making her way around Strong to her sleeping mat. Strong, for all of his brutality, knew that men and women were different. He had actually insisted that Nora sleep next to him as ‘soft woman make human men crazy’, which Nora took as Super Mutant gentleman logic. Nora caught Strong’s foot with her own and was about to tumble when Strong’s hand came up and caught her in her stomach. Grumbling about noisy humans, Strong pulled Nora up against his chest, pulled the blanket over and up to her waist and cuddled her in his arm. Nora, now flush against his chest, couldn’t help but feel like maybe Strong needed a second teddy bear. The guys all looked over, ready to pull her free, but she just smiled. Listening to his strong but slow heart, in her drunken stupor, Nora didn’t even try to get off him and instead snuggled in to sleep.


It was late, 3:23 according to her PipBoy, when Nora was woken up by biological needs. Looking over, she saw that Deacon and MacCready hadn’t moved away from the fire and were passed clean out. Hancock was still up; he was sitting on a far-off rock with a cigarette in his mouth and his hat pulled down low. Danse, who didn’t need much to any sleep, was in a form of meditation instead. Only Preston had gotten to his sleep mat and was sleeping peacefully. Strong was still holding her in a loose grip, but he didn’t even react as she slipped off his torso and wobbled off to the entrance.


With some care, Nora climbed her way to the Raiders’ toilet, which was about 50 feet from the cave. Sighing at the good/bad part of the Vault suit, Nora pulled the zipper down from her neck, all the way down, over her navel, her mound and around the back to the top of her ass. It effectively made it two pieces that were held together back the back and the zipper. Untying one side of her underwear, she freed herself to pee. Sitting down on the seat, Nora took care of business… only to get spooked by someone coming in. She slammed into VATS and was about to go medieval on the pervert, only for her screen to read Preston Garvey, non-hostile. Preston, for his part, quickly took notice of her state of under-dress, and was moving to shield his eyes, even in VATS time. Dropping out of VATS, Nora crossed her legs and shoved her hands in her lap. She was now glad the suit was so tight that it covered her breasts even when unzipped. In this position, with Preston still having his eyes covered, Nora’s still blissed out state had her snickering and finally laughing. “Well, Hello Mr. Garvey. You seem to have caught me with my pants down.”


Preston bit his lip to stop himself, but Nora still heard a snort of laughter. “It seems so, General. I’ll wait out-well, I will wait on the other side of-yeah.” Preston uncovered his eyes as he stepped out of the room, and bless him, he didn’t look.


Well, that wasn’t going to do…


Nora fixed her underwear and zipped herself most of the way up, but left some of her upper chest open, just to be a little tempting. Preston, as far as she could tell, just didn’t look at her female bits. She sometimes wondered if he just didn’t see gender at all. However, she was drunk and needing a little vindication about her earlier statement of having great tits. It still floored her how open sexuality had become in the Wasteland. Hancock, and Cait, said she was the first completely ‘one side of fence’/ ‘one side of the pond’ either of them had met. So, if this didn’t work, she wouldn’t be entirely surprised.


Coming out of the bathroom, Nora grinned at Preston… who did glance at her open collarbone and cleavage, but his eyes focused on her shoulder. His nose wrinkled and he reached out quickly, and when she tensed (my goodness, how forward of him) he raised a finger and pointed to her arm. Nora looked down and wrinkled her own nose at the huge mess of purple covering her upper shoulder. “No wonder it hurts even while I am drunk.” Nora mused and shrugged. Injuries were commonplace to her now.


“Let’s get some ointment on it and a bit more Med-X,” Preston commented, but when Nora raised her brow, he added, “After I use the bucket and wash up.” The two smiled at each other and Nora left him to his business. Now walking back up to the cave was a major trial, and Preston actually caught up to her at the entrance. Dogmeat and Codsworth acknowledged the two of them and Codsworth handed over another water. They ran into Curie in the first aid tent as Preston got some supplies. Heading back to their part of camp, Nora noticed that Hancock was finally asleep and Danse was either asleep or in deeper meditation. Strong had rolled over onto her sleep mat with his stuffed bear, leaving the camper open. Walking in and taking in the fact that this camper had a half way decent mattress, Nora plopped down and unzipped her wrist. With a few tugs and pulls, Nora’s arm came free and so did her bra covered chest. Preston covered his eyes again, but Nora snorted and waved him off. “Nothing you haven’t seen before Preston; fix me up please.” Nora pulled her right arm under her head and let her eyes close, fighting some of the dizziness that came with the walk back in.


If she wasn’t still half-drunk, she probably would have thought this situation amazing/funny. Shy, gentleman Preston working very hard to only look at her shoulder as he injected some Med-X. He washed up the stitches with some leftover whiskey and dried it before putting ointment covered gauze on the wound. However, she was half-drunk, and that made her look at things differently. “Tell me something, Preston. Are you un-seduce-able?” Preston’s eyes ballooned and his hands immediately flew from her shoulder. “I mean, I understand if you played for one team, but nothing seems to phase you.”


Preston was quiet for a bit, wrapped up her arm in tape to keep the gauze in place. “I guess… I just didn’t realize… you were trying.” Preston sighed to calm himself before looking into her eyes finally. “I didn’t think I was someone you wanted to seduce.” Preston looked at her with those sweet, dark eyes and Nora fell into them. She wrapped her right hand against his cheek and nudged him down to her face. Preston held her eyes until the last moment as his lips touched hers. Gentle and warm, Preston kissed her whole lips. So gentle, but Nora still felt a moan bubbling in her throat. Small smacks of their lips together before Preston kissed with some force, pulling that bubbled moan up and out of her as a sigh. His tongue lapped gently are her lower lip and when she opened just a bit, it lapped at her bottom teeth. Just as she was about to wrap her tongue around his, he pulled it back before kissing her bottom lip and leaning completely away. They looked at each other, and Nora smiled as she sat up. “After all the things we have been through, Preston, you are definitely someone I wouldn’t mind seducing.” Nora’s hand moved into his short hair under his hat and rubbed the back of his neck and head. Preston sighed again, using the voice that gave her shivers, and leaned into her hand. He followed her lead as she pulled him to her again. This time, he started to crawl onto the mattress with her, but froze and looked behind him. The camper door was open; Nora almost didn’t care, but nodded to it. Preston got up and walked to close the door, allowing Nora to zip down the rest of the Vault suit to her navel and reached for her other wrist.


“Does this… mean something?” Preston asked as he reached to help her with her right arm. His voice hitched slightly and it was starting to drop some with his arousal. Nora looped her now naked arms around his neck and kissed his check before pushing her face into his neck. She inhaled his scent and was a bit surprised at how good he smelt after so long on the road.  Pulling back so they were face to face again, she rested her nose to his and pet the back of his neck. “This? This is some stress relief with a close friend. One that I couldn’t imagine not having in my life. Later… well, later is later.” Nora leaned in and kissed him again, this time taking the lead and coasting her tongue against his bottom lip. He sighed heavily as he opened his mouth and wrapped his own around hers. Nora’s hands moved down to start pulling at his overcoat, never breaking their contract as she got it down his shoulders and arms. It took some maneuvering, especially with those gloves still on, but Preston was now coatless just as he pulled away and to the side of her neck, kissing just behind her ear before taking the shell between his teeth. He nudged her down more into the mattress and sucked and licked her neck like she was rich ice cream. Moaning and wiggling at the feelings, Nora reached to her back for her bra’s clasp. It took some wiggling with Preston feasting on her neck, but she finally got it. Preston’s fingers slowly slide the straps down, causing goosebumps as the bra was removed. He was using hardly any pressure, but the gentleness was a quick flame to her lions. Preston hmed in pleasure at seeing her naked chest. He dove mouth first between them, giving a sweet kiss to her breastbone, before taking her left nipple into his mouth and rolling it slowly. His right hand, still gloved in soft, supple leather, came up to rub and soothe her scalp. His left, also still gloved, reached down to slip the zip over your mounds and, with some help from her, up to the top of her ass. His fingertips traced the line of her hips on her flesh from the back before moving up and taking her thigh in his hand. The fabric of the suit rubbed into her thigh as his hand massaged her thick flesh. He pulled the limb around his hip before moving his hand back up to cup her right breast.


Preston knew what he was doing; sucking and rolling her nipples into hard little points. He pinched and flicked her right and tried sucking most of her left breast into his mouth. Nora had to pull her hand up and bite into it to stop the loud moans that came out. It got worse when Preston gently bit and pulled on her nipple, then he pushed both of her breasts together, and pulled both of her nipples into his mouth and sucked. Somewhere between his sucking and her moaning, he got his under shirt unbuttoned and was frantically getting it off. As he growled from frustration and left her breasts, she reached to squeeze them. Fuck, she had heard that sound before, but it was so much hotter in context. Nora moaned softly as he was unveiled. Preston was tone and cut nicely, though a few laser burns covered his left ribs and hips. It looked to be in only scar; the slash from earlier would be gone with the stimpak. A fine dusting of thick, curly hair was at the center of his chest with another small patch from his navel down. Nora hm-ed and crept her fingers through the patches of hair, watching with pleasure as Preston’s muscles jumped and shook. He leaned down again to push his tongue deep inside her mouth, making both of them groan.


“How do you want to do this, Gen-Nora?” Preston questioned as he loosened his belt and opened his pants. From the nice size bulge, Nora wondered if it had been awhile for Preston too, to get hard so fast. Nora moved her leg to tighten around his waist and pulled that bulge right against her naked mounds, shivering hard. Preston’s back and shoulders stiffened too, and a sputtering breath fell from his lips. “Get me nice and wet, Garvey. Then fuck me like this. I want to watch your face.” Preston turned sheepish again, even turning a bit red at her command, but grinned after a few moments. He nipped at his glove on his right hand and pulled it off before tossing it aside. Barehanded, his fingers moved through her thick pubic hair until he touched her wet lips. Licking his mouth, Preston moved himself down and stuck his nose into her pubes and sniffed loudly. Nora, despite being a previously married woman and somewhat adventurous since waking up, felt herself heat up as Preston ran his tongue into her folds. It hadn’t been one of Nate’s things, but she was definitely going to enjoy it if it was Preston’s.


Preston’s tongue ran long strips from the top of her outer lips to the bottom, before wiggling its way into her inner lips. He lapped greedily at her hole while his thumbs pulled her lips back to let him see. Pulling his mouth back some, Preston licked his own index finger before pushing it inside of her. It caused Nora to buck and moan low, which made her bit her hand again. Preston added his tongue to his finger, working her open quickly-almost textbook like- before pulling himself up so they lay chest to chest. He kissed her neck and she felt him shimming and move before she felt the hard, hot head of his cock against her hole. Looking down, she grinned and had to repress the old stereotype that flooded to the front of her mind.


“Ready?” Preston asked as his hands held her hips down. She nodded and he pushed in, slowly and steadily. It soon became clear that she couldn’t take him all, but they were both groaning too loud from pleasure to care about fitting perfectly. Preston felt good, hard as a rock as he began rocking his hips in and out. Preston laid himself tight to her body, his face into her neck as he fucked in deep and slow. His one hand came up and took hers, squeezing it as he angled her hips a bit higher. With that change, Nora had to bite into his neck as she began to whine and whimper in pleasure; felt so good.


It wasn’t a long coupling, both of them with alcohol still in their systems, long days of the road, and long times inbetween their last ones. But damn, it was just what Nora needed. Preston was losing his rhythm, but he was committed to pleasing her. Pulling his other hand from between their bodies, he pet her clit in frantic strokes. It was enough for her as she came, keening into his shoulder and squeezing the hell out of his other hand. Her walls clamping down on his cock stilled him and he gave several throat bruising grunts as he emptied himself inside of her before collapsing completely on to her. Panting and pleased, Nora put both her hands around his head and neck, just holding on to the man. His hands moved to her lower back and squeezed her as they settle. Preston pulled his head up to look at her, smiling blissfully before giving tons of post sex kisses and happy hms to her lips.


After a few minutes of post-sex cuddling and glow enjoying, Strong made them both jump a foot when he gave a cave rumbling snore as he rolled back onto the wall of the camper. Nora chewed her lip to stop from laughing and Preston pressed his face into her neck again, quietly doing so. “Are you alright? Sorry… it’s been a bit since I was with someone. I didn’t hurt you in any way, did I?” Preston asked as he stroked her hair from her face. Nora smiled and kissed his nose to help him relax. “It felt great Preston. Thank you. I really needed that after three Raids in three days,” Preston smiled and stroked down her neck slowly again. “Next time, we should do this without stress from the Raids.” Nora made a show of gasping before answering, “Mr. Preston Garvey, I do believe I have corrupted you.” Preston grinned and rested his nose against her nose for a few seconds longer before extracting her legs from his waist and moving to sit up. Nora sighed contently as she sat up too. Taking an unused piece of gauze, Nora swiped the juice that slipped out of her before redressing and making sure she looked normal. By the time she was up and standing, Preston was fully clothed too. “I will take the rest of the supplies back up to Curie. See you in the morning, General?” Nora cocked her brow again, and pulled the dark man down to kiss him. “Nora?” Preston added, slightly breathy, and Nora smiled and kissed him lightly before quietly opening the door. Strong was off her sleeping mat finally, and she dragged it a little further way from the giant before settling down again.


She never paid any mind to the smell of a fresh lit cigarette or the several non-hostile dots that were on her PipBoy.