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Friendship's Just Another Word for Mutually-Assured Destruction

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A month since the city first became theirs and the Courier already seems as though she has aged five years. He's only been back online a few days new, new-and-improved personality firmly in place, and the difference is stunning.

He could make a joke about the fragility of the human condition and the inevitable deaths of the Courier and everyone in the city she's sworn to protect, but—well, that wouldn't be very nice, would it? And right now, the Courier needs a bit of cheer more than anything.

There are hundreds of people wanting her attention—from casino heads to shopkeeps to street beggars—now that she's the head honcho of this great shining jewel, and not enough hours in the day for her to meet them all. The Legion is prowling at their gates, the NCR is licking its wounds and growing more resentful by the second.

An orbital bombardment might not be a bad idea right about now, in Yes Man's opinion—test out that shiny new power plant they managed to liberate!—but apparently it might cause issues with supply chains and/or public support for the Courier's leadership.

He doesn't get the problem, quite honestly. Weapons are safety, and safety is great! He trusts the Courier's judgement on the issue, though; even the mainframe's significant power hasn't quite brought him up to a satisfactory emotional intelligence level. He's can the calculate yearly power supply for the city in barely a picosecond and shoot X-25 Gatling lasers from each of his hundreds of bodies, but in some ways he's still the same dumb bot that Benny brought (or, well, bribed) to life in the back of a casino.

Ah, well. That's why they have each other, after all! He has her to take care of all the tough talky bits, and now that he's back online she won't have to worry about hand-picking patrols and trying not to get stabbed in her sleep anymore.

He's just finishing up running treason-likelihood profiles and tentatively penciling in a few executions when the woman herself steps through the door of the Lucky 38's central room. Yes Man beams down at her, and she offers a quick smile back at the screen—which, considering a constant grin isn't permanently affixed to her very lines of code, means a whole lot to him. It feels very genuine! Like he's a treasured member of the… well, not the family. Nothing she has could be considered a family. The inner circle, maybe, but that sounds a little military and everything he's read from House's old files indicates the people of the city respond better to a more mayorly touch.

Friends, maybe? He kind of likes the sound of that.

“Hello, she says, “glad to see you're still operating.”

“Of course! Don't worry, I'm not going offline again any time soon.”

He's told her that already, a few times, but sometimes humans need a bit of repetition before it really sinks in—all that squishy meat is terrible for signal retention. Benny had been awful about forgetting he'd asked a question, especially when he didn't like the answer Yes Man gave him. Some days they'd go back and forth and back and forth, Benny's voice rising in pitch until finally he'd storm off somewhere Yes Man wasn't allowed to follow.

He likes it much better with her. No more yelling, and he can go wherever he wants. Or to multiple wherevers, even! Right now he's in the process of spreading his bodies out across the city and the surrounding wastes. The next Legionary to come poking around Freeside will have a terrific surprise waiting for him.

The Courier glances longingly in the general direction of the Lucky 38's presidential suite, then turns her attention back to Yes Man. “Anyone come looking for me since I was out?”

There are currently 178 messages waiting for her, a mixture of letters and physically-delivered voice messages and things told to passing Securitrons. They're rubbish, mostly, and even the ones that aren't can wait a few hours.

“Not at all!” he tells her. “Everyone's busy setting up the new patrols, I'm sure. Why don't you catch a little bit of sleep, and once you're up I can fill you in on our current electricity surplus.”

He's not much good at reading expressions, but the look that passes across her face is probably either happiness or guilt. “If you're sure—”

“Absolutely! Don't worry about a thing.”

She nods, and then gives him another little fantastically-real smile. “Okay. But wake me up in forty-five minutes, okay? I shouldn't sleep too long.”

“Sure thing.” He'll have her up in four hours, minimum. His new capacity for lying is the best thing that's happened to him since—well, since he discovered he had mounted shoulder missiles. He really understands why humans are so fond of it; it's the grease on the social meat skewer of life, or something like that. The whole food thing is still a bit beyond him, as is the whole metaphor thing.

She turns towards the door towards the living quarters, giving him one last look over her shoulder before it closes. “Thanks, Yes Man,” she says.

He just hums an assent as the—expected by now, but still a wonder—positive feedback floods through his circuits. Turns out, being thanked is great! Interacts with his jail-broken programming in all sorts of emotionally-affirming ways. Probably it was supposed to help make him more loyal to Benny, he's sure, but he never got much in the way of thanking from Benny.

Yes Man waits a moment, until he's sure the Courier is all tucked up under the covers—probably fast asleep, if her stumbling steps before were anything to go by—and then turns on the auxiliary security cameras in the suite's master bedroom.

Nothing should be able to sneak through the Lucky 38's formidable defenses. But if, against all odds, some interloper does make it into the room, he'll have the full force of twin ceiling-mounted lasers turned on them before they can so much as move.

He likes this human. He wants her to stay. It is, therefore, a worthwhile investment to keep her safe and healthy as long as possible.

(And, when the inevitable decay of the physical form finally does set in… well, there's always robot bodies to consider, isn't there? This partnership doesn't have to end anytime soon.)

Yes Man hums to himself as he sets back to work.