It has been seven months since the courier that had taken the Mojave by storm has last been seen.
Settlers, wanderers, and mercenaries, no one seems to have heard or seen the young woman since her victory at Hoover Dam, where she had brought independence to New Vegas and the Mojave.
After considerably bringing down the Raider and Fiends activity in the Wastes, as well as getting rid of any major deathclaw sanctuaries near settlements and all other sort of threat mother nature seemed to have thrown at their humble existences, the Courier still hasn't found what she had been looking for.
She hoped that helping those around her would somehow also fill the own void she felt inside of herself.
The missing piece that kept her up at night.
Until he contacted her.
Julie knew it was a mistake to let the woman go. To let her leave the comfort of the warm bed inside her room at the Fort one night.
“ I'll be back Doctor.” The gunslinger had said, putting on her worn leather boots and dusty hat that would cover her messy and boyish short hair. Proof of what they had done a few hours ago.
Julie wanted to tell her to stay. To stay and help built the Mojave up again to its old glory. They were already so close, if only she would stay.
Stay with her.
But she couldn't. She heard his message too. So she knew the woman couldn't stay put when all of her answers were right there .
She won't come back.
Not this time.
It had taken Julie months of therapy to help the Courier with her nightmares from the Sierra Madre. She would scream at the shadows of the ghost people in her room, looking for scalpels and scissors to defend herself against her tragic hallucinations. More than once had she tried to cut Julie during one of her nightly terrors.
She would still flinch at the scars on Julie's arms.
Julie would still flinch at hers.
Marks of bear traps and burned cuts littering her body. From shoulders to her toes she was covered in these scars that have not only permanently damaged muscles and ligaments, but that have also cut through her sanity.
She didn't want her to lose the last of it by going after this man .
If the Divide won’t kill her, the truth of her past will.
The man's spite was clear in his tone.
It was thick with hopes of revenge.
The courier wouldn't listen though.
She smirked in that crooked way she always did before leaning down and giving her a goodbye kiss, much like the one she gave her when she went to Mick and Ralph's to get them some Cram and Nuka-Cola for diner.
Only that she wouldn't come back after ten minutes.
She would come back after a year.
Standing in front of the gates of the Fort in full, worn down Riot gear, anti-material rifle strapped onto her back and a large knife fixed on the small of her back stood the Courier.
Her armor would have traces of claws and burn marks all over and her helmet would be bend into the inside.
Julie didn't recognize her at first.
The strange person would slowly make her way towards the doctor, as if treading on mines.
Inches apart, the “stranger” would show an infected cut on her leather clad arm, dark blood seeping out and rhythmically dripping unto the dust on the ground, like the ticking of a clock.
Or rather a bomb that might explode any second.
Oh how familiar that sound had become.
Julie would look the person over skeptically, before leading her into her examination room. Once inside and set upon the examination table she slowly peels off the blood clad leather, the skin was covered in dried blood and the doctor took a wet rag to carefully wipe it away.
She let the red cloth fall from her hand, letting the reddish water seep into the floor boards.
There were some she didn't recognize, but the ones she did made her heart skips a beat or two. She's spent countless nights kissing and caressing each and every last one of them. She knew who would have a bite mark on her wrist, from a wild coyote that ambushed her during her sleep, a burn near her elbow from a fiend named Cook-Cook, from whom she had a lot of victims to treat, mostly because of the trauma he induced to the young women. A long cut going from her palm up to her bicep and disappearing under the dusty coat all the way to her shoulder.
She didn't feel the tears as they ran down her cheeks and onto her dirtied lab coat.
She only felt the rough finger that slowly wiped one away, the gesture only making more fall from her green eyes.
A green that reminded the courier of the plants she found in a vault once during her travels. She even bought some flower seeds with her as a gift for the Doctor after she lost an especially young patient and needed some cheering up.
The beautiful flower was still in her room, it's fresh fragrance could be smelled from where she sat, now without bent helmet.
Julie held the heavy piece of armor in her shaking hands, nails digging into the metal.
She changed so much.
Her black hair was even shorter now, not falling over her broad shoulders anymore but now barely reaching her eyes in a messy fringe because of the helmet.
She looked so mature with the clean cut in the back and, albeit messy, hair falling upon her scarred forehead.
The two gunshot wounds still visible after almost 7 years.
Though she wasn't the revengeful 20 year old girl that stumbled into Freeside with the mission to find the man who “killed” her.
She was a woman , a 27 year old that had seen too much for her own good.
She was a survivor . A different kind then she was before.
She had been to hell and back. Looked into the abyss and spit in its face.
She had conquered her ultimate quest.
And now she was...
“I'm back doctor, sorry for the wait.” She huskily said as Julie held her against her chest with such force the courier thought her neck might snap.
Back in the doctor's arms, back in Julie's bed, whispering sweet promises to each other while Julie maps the couriers body with chapped lips and memorizes every new scar she came across. Careful when she comes across the new stitches on her forearm.
Julie wasn't been woken up by screams of terrors that night.
The couriers slept soundly for the first time since she came back from the Sierra Madre, since she came back from the battle of Hoover Dam.
In the early morning they would trace patterns on each others skin, and Julie would whisper.
“I take it that you finally found your missing piece?”
A hum and then a kiss.
“Now that I'm back here... I did.”