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The “What Ifs” of Arthur Maxson (aka The Search for Sarah Lyons)

Chapter Text

Nate carefully skirted a pile of goo that once used to be a feral ghoul. As much as he hated the Institute, their weapons sure came in handy. There was a lot of shame that came with the knowledge that Shaun was directly responsible for the suffering of hundreds of people.

Valentine pulled Nate out of his thoughts, “Find anything?”

“Not yet,” the Vaultie answered and opened up another file cabinet. Currently, Nate and Danse were helping Nick to find the Eddie Winter holotapes. So far they had five, and according to the Cambridge Police Station Terminal, they would find another here in the East Boston Police Station. And if a stray bullet hadn’t hit the only working terminal in the precinct, they might’ve found the holotape sooner.

Across the room, Danse was searching some desk drawers. Nate wasn’t sure why Danse was with him and Nick but he suspected it had something to do with trying to atone for his prior racist behavior. The former paladin had been doing a lot lately to make himself more of a likable person and perhaps distance himself from his Brotherhood life. So far, he was doing alright. He was just an awkward person in general.

Nate pushed the drawer back in and his eye went up to the caved in roof. He knew realistically nothing would be up there, but it didn’t hurt to check anyway. He carefully navigated the rubble until he pulled himself up.

Something orange caught the corner of his eye and he saw a single holotape wedged between the rocks. As if it had fallen out from somewhere and abandoned by the owner. “Hey!” He called out to his friends, “I think I found it!”

Nate shoved his hand into the rock and grabbed the holotape. The dad part of him couldn’t resist the temptation. He screamed.

“AHhHHH!!!”

Danse was the one who screamed back while Nick rolled his eyes undoubtedly having seen the trick done before.

Nate laughed and Danse scowled. “That is not funny soldier!”

“Sorry, sorry,” Nate was still full of mirth as he produced the holotape, “I couldn’t resist. My dad did it to me when I was a kid and well- I- Shaun’s not here so…” He trailed off, the mirth gone. Ignoring the sudden sad looks on his friends’ faces he popped the holotape into his pip-boy.

A woman’s voice echoed from the pip-boy, “Still can’t believe I’m out here. It’s a nightmare trying to hide from the Brotherhood... they’re everywhere since the Prydwen showed up. Thought I could outrun them and catch up to Moe but it seems like everything is converging on me all at once.”

 

“I know that voice,” Danse said and everyone turned to look at him. Nate and Valentine waiting for him to continue. “That’s… that’s Elder Lyons’ voice. I’d recognize it anywhere. But how? How can she still be alive? She was killed in action.”

“She could be a synth,” Nate pointed out.

“A synth protecting the Brotherhood?” Danse shot back. Nate and Nick gave the former Brotherhood Soldier/Synth a pointed look. “Oh.”

“Danse does have a point though,” Nick added taking a long drag on his cigarette, “She could be a synth who doesn’t know she’s a synth. But being the elder of the Brotherhood is pretty specific and I’m sure the Institute would want a synth who knows they’re a spy.”

Sarah’s voice continued, “I know that I brought this on myself but a part of me wishes- never mind. It’s too late for regrets. I have to keep going and finish what I started. Get Moe and protect the Brotherhood… protect my father’s legacy… even if this is what it has turned into. Anyway, Last I heard, Moe’s holed up in an old Galaxy News Network station.” She sighs, “Haven’t heard Three Dog in a while.. I can’t believe I miss his voice… If I die-” Sarah stops and lets out a sad laugh, “Not like anyone will hear these anyway. And if they do the Brotherhood would most certain destroy them.”

The holotape ended and all eyes were on Danse. This sounded like a sensitive Brotherhood matter. One that would require them to follow in Sarah Lyons’ footsteps or leave her to do whatever mission she was trying to accomplish. Danse frowned. “This is a complicated situation. We should bring this to Elder Maxson’s attention.”

Nick raised an eyebrow, “You really think that’s a good idea? From the sound of it, she and the Brotherhood aren’t on good terms.”

“I know,” Danse insisted, “But if Elder Lyons is still alive then Maxson needs to know about it.”

“Hang on,” Nate interrupted, “What if she is the real Sarah Lyons and we bring her back to the Brotherhood? How is that going to go?”

“I-” Danse hesitated, “Like I said this is complicated. The Brotherhood has been split before and Elder Lyons… her death and Maxson’s leadership united us as one. But if she is alive then I think we need to find her. Despite being on bad terms, she’s still Brotherhood and deserves to come home.”

Nate observed Danse for a minute suddenly understanding where he was coming from. It was obvious that he was thinking about himself and his own status with the Brotherhood. Perhaps doing this would be a way to bring him some kind of closure or to let him feel like he was part of the Brotherhood again.

Since Danse’s banishment and newly garnered hostility with his former brothers and sister, the former paladin had slipped into an “existence”. Joining the Minutemen helped Danse to feel like he was a part of something bigger but it wasn’t same as being a member of the Brotherhood.

“Okay,” Nate finally said, “Let’s do it.”

Danse breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you, Paladin.” He opened his mouth again as if to suggest he come along and then remembered his cruel circumstances. “I will head back to Sanctuary and await your return.”

Nate smirked unable to resist the jab, “I’m sure Hancock will be pleased to see you.”

Nick chortled as Danse sputtered and turned bright red. It was common knowledge that Danse and Hancock were sleeping together but Danse liked to pretend that they weren’t. What no one knew for sure, was the extent of their relationship. Whether they were fuck buddies or in a committed relationship, those living in Sanctuary had to admit that they made a good a pair. Except Strong who of course, didn’t like anything or anyone.

----

Elder Arthur Maxson often dreamed about the late Elder Sarah Lyons. In his opinion, she had been a great leader, even better than her father. She was absolutely perfect in every sense of the word. More often than not, he wished she was still around and wondered what his would’ve been life if her life hadn’t tragically ended.

He wondered if they could’ve been Elders together, freeing the Commonwealth of the Institute and their monsters. Or if not, he would’ve been content to be her right hand. A Sentinel who stayed by her side and fought with her in battle. He hoped that she would one day look at him the same way that he looked at her. He imagined what it would be like if they got to kiss. How it would feel to have Sarah’s strong hands in his own, to be pinned under her in a sparring match leading to more-

“Elder Maxson?” A squire knocked on his door and Maxson jerked upright in his bed.

Grumbling with irritation, he got up and swung the door open. “What is it, squire?”

The young man squirmed under his gaze but tried to remain as professional as possible. “Paladin Nate and his companion Detective Valentine are looking for you, sir! They said they have important business to discuss with you, sir!”

Maxson gave a moment to stare down the squire and then nodded, “Dismissed.” The child bolted the second after. Arthur grabbed his coat off the chair and slipped it on.

He was curious about why Nate was coming to see him. After all, the man was never around and always hopping to a different settlement that needed his help. He wouldn’t even take an unofficial side mission from Teagen claiming he’d rather die than be a raider. Nate was around even less after the whole Danse debacle. In order to Nate to come to Prydwen and request to see Maxson must’ve meant that it had something to do with the remnants of the Institute.

Sure enough, Arthur found Nate and that disgusting synth detective waiting for him on the bridge. The synth was smoking even though he had no need to or lungs to even hold smoke. It was just coming out from the expose parts of his face and neck. Maxson hated Nate’s choice in competitions and loathed the synth’s presence on the ship. Although, given the choice, Arthur preferred the synth to the foul mouthed ghoul.

“Elder,” Nate addressed without waiting to be spoken to, “is there a secure place that we can talk. Nick and I have something sensitive we need to discuss.”

For a moment, Arthur was quiet. If this was an issue about the Institute, then the Vaultie would’ve been already talking about it. No, this was different. A “sensitive issue” he said. Maxson could only assume that it had something to do with Danse. It bothered him because part of their agreement was that Danse was never the brought up ever again. Out of sight, out of mind. At least, that’s what he thought the phrase was.

Maxson brought them to the forecastle of the ship. He spoke before Nate could get in another word. “I thought we agreed never to speak of Paladin Danse ever again.”

“This isn’t about Paladin Danse,” Nate answered. He pulled out a holotape. “Listen,” he said and popped it into his holotape.

A voice, the most wonderful and beautiful voice, filled Arthur’s ears and sent his heart soaring. He knew that amazing and strong voice anyway. That was Sarah’s voice. She was alive and she was here. Here in the Commonwealth and she was protecting the Brotherhood. From who or what, he wasn’t sure but he was sure as hell going to find out and he was going to bring her home. Home to him, to the Prydwen, to the Brotherhood.

There was a look on Maxson’s face that Nate had never seen before and he wasn’t sure how he felt about it. There was a sort of gleam in his eye, a twitch in his finger, and… a blush on his face? It was like something inside Maxson had sparked and suddenly Nate wasn’t looking at the Elder of the Brotherhood of Steel.

Maxson cleared his throat, “Paladin. Get whatever equipment you need and meet me by a Vertibird in two hours.”

Nick looked shocked and Nate nearly choked, “W-Hang on, meet you?

“Of course,” Maxson answered, “This is a top priority mission. We are going to search for Sarah Lyons and we will not stop until we do.”

Chapter Text

The mission, Nate learned, was to be regarded as top priority and top secret. It seemed that Danse was one hundred percent correct about the potential of Sarah Lyons’ return being a threat to the Brotherhood’s unity. He did however suspect that there was something else going on. There was a sense of urgency that seemed to exude from the elder. It made Nate nervous and in the back of his mind the ugly thought of Maxson maybe wanting to kill Sarah wormed its way in. Perhaps he shouldn’t’ve told the elder after all.

However that thought did lead to an insurance plan. He needed someone who was part of the Brotherhood and would uphold their ideals but also know when to make the right call. And that right person was Paladin Danse. Nate knew that Maxson was not going to approve and might shoot Danse on sight but it was risk that needed to be taken.

He did tell actually tell Arthur that the reason they were heading to Sanctuary was to pick up Danse. Aft first, Maxson was irritated because he claimed that they were wasting valuable time. “I need insurance,” Nate explained, “that when we find this Sarah Lyons you aren’t going to kill her for the sake of the Brotherhood or whatever bullshit plan you’ve got in your head.”

“I would never do anything to hurt her,” Maxson spat out bitterly.

Something in Nate stirred and for some inexplicable reason, he believed it. It didn’t stop him from going to Sanctuary though. He figured Danse might appreciate the opportunity to be on a Brotherhood mission again. He hoped it wasn’t a cruel thing to suggest.

The hard part was landing a vertibird outside of Sanctuary and waltzing in with the Brotherhood of Steel’s Elder at his side. Yeah, that might not go well for anyone. Nate really hoped Strong was on his best behavior.

----

Maxon’s eyes nearly boggled out of his head as he watched a fucking super mutant tolerate two children sitting on his shoulders.

“Hey, guys!” Nate called out waving at the odd trio like it wasn’t an abominable sight.

One of the children waved, “Hi Uncle Nate!”

“Hi Dad!” The other one called out. That, Maxson concluded, must be Shaun. Nate talked about him often enough that it would be a crime if Maxson didn’t know the kid’s name. That and the child had once been on the Prydwen and claimed that the Minutemen were better because they “rescued him from the Institute” and “they have a castle” but “your balloon is really cool too”. Maxson had never been offended by a child until that moment.

“Strong put small humans down now,” the super mutant announced and did indeed put Duncan on the ground. “Strong leave now.” He lumbered off and Maxson wrinkled his nose in disgust. This was how his best soldier chose to live? Raise his son this way? Surrounded by these freaks and abominations?

The boys came running and Shaun has his arms wrapped around his father. Nate ruffled Shaun’s hair, “Have you seen Danse around?”

“He’s with Mr. Hancock. I think Mr. Danse is sick though. I kept hearing him make funny noises,” Duncan informed, “kinda like he’s got a tummy ache.”

Nate’s face flushed and his eyes nearly bugged out of his head. Luckily, Maxson didn’t seem to catch onto the implications.

Nick simulated a throat clearing noise, “You know, I have a case for you junior detectives if you think you can handle it.”

“Yes!” Both boys perked up and Nick ushered them way.

“Come get me when you’re ready to go.”

Nate nodded with relief, “Thanks Nick.” He waited for a moment before heading off towards the house at then end of the street.

When Nate had come back and partially rebuilt Sanctuary, he made sure that everyone had a place to stay. Danse, being Danse, had picked the last house on the street. And Hancock, being Hancock, had decided to stay in the same house. At first it was out of spite and done just to irritate the former Brotherhood soldier. There had been yelling, literal shots fired, destruction of property, and once a fire. Nate put a stop to their arguments after the fire.

“Hey,” Nate called out knocking on the door frame despite the fact that there was no real door and could easily waltz right in. “Danse? Hanc- Oh Elder probably don’t- okay, you’re doing it anyway.”

“I would like to be on our way as soon as possible,” Maxson answered as he brushed past Nate and began searching the house for Danse. He heard a crashing coming from the bedroom along with two voices swearing. One of the voices definitely belonged to Danse and the other sounded like a ghoul.

Instinctively, Arthur reached for his laser rifle but was stopped when Nate shook his head. “Come on,” he said and lead them into the kitchen, “Care for a Nuka-Cola?”

Maxson open his mouth to protest but saw the look on Nate’s face and thought better of it. He was, after all, out of his depth in the settlement and decided to go with it.

The radio was flipped on masking out some of the odd noises in the bedroom. Nate passed the elder a Nuka-Cola and waited patiently as the sounds of ecstacy grew louder until there was a loud satisfied groan from both Danse and Hancock.

Maxson was wildly uncomfortable now and tried to listen to that pathetic DJ’s voice on Diamond City Radio talk. It wasn’t doing much because now he knew exactly what Danse and the ghoul sounded like in the throws of passion.

The elder’s eyes wandered over the house and noted that there was quite a bit of decorating that had been done. It was tidy for a run down home and there were a few empty tins of Mentats and some Jet lying around. The sight had Arthur’s stomach twisting as he wondered if this is what Danse now did to pass the time. He didn’t know why it hurt to think that Danse had turned to drugs after leaving the Brotherhood.

“Those are Hancock’s,” Nate said as if reading Maxson’s mind. “Danse thinks that shit is poison. Won’t even let Trashcan Carla sell it if she’s around here.”

Maxson heard the bedroom door opening and soon after Hancock walked out with Danse in tow. Both had worked up a thin sheen of sweat and there was a slight limp to Danse’s step. Upon seeing Elder Maxson sitting at his dining room table, his face went bright red.

“Have fun?” Nate teased and tossed them each a can of purified water.

Still horrified and honestly quite dazed by the sight of Elder fucking Maxson in their house, Danse didn’t register that a can of purified water was flying at his face. It hit him smack in the nose and we went down with a cry of pain effectively snapping him out of his stupor.

“Shit!” Nate exploded and bolted to Danse.

Hancock was already by Danse’s side, “You okay? What happened?”

“You threw a water at my face?”

Nate frowned, “I thought you were going to catch it! I’m sorry!”

Danse grumbled and rubbed the spot he was sure was going to bruise. “I got distracted.” He stood up and eyed Maxson who was simply just watching. It was then that he realized that the elder now knew about his fraternization with Hancock. And had more than likely just listened to them having sex.

“Don’t worry,” Nate said with a less than reassuring smile, “I made him promise not to shoot you.”

Danse swallowed his throat feeling scratchy and dry, “What- what is he doing here?”

“We need you on this mission,” Nate explained, “I don’t exactly trust him to keep his trigger finger steady when we finally catch up to Sarah. You’re the perfect person to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“Elder Maxson would never hurt Elder Lyons,” Danse answered.

That wasn’t quite the answer that Nate was expecting but he suspected that on some level, there was a certain amount of trust that Danse still had in Maxson.

“Does that mean you’re not-”

“I”m going,” Danse blurted out fast and then quickly cleared his throat, “of course I am going. You will need backup.”

“Of course,” Nate answered back. The three of them were then talking about their game plan about where they were going to head out and realistically what on earth Sarah could be doing in the Commonwealth.

Hancock was irritated that he was being ignore in front of all the men who wanted to play boy scout. So, while they talked he slipped his arm around Danse’s waist. The former paladin didn’t notice but Maxson did. Hancock wondered just how far he could take it and began “absently” stoking Danse’s side. His boyfriend continued not to notice and even leaned into the touch.

Maxon’s eyes were narrowing Hancock’s direction who only shot the elder a small passive smile. His grin grew wide when Danse unconsciously brought his hand up and weaved their fingers together.

“You know,” Nate said finally addressing Hancock, “you are welcome to come with us.”

“Nah,” Hancock said gently squeezing Danse’s hand, “I’m not too keen to traveling with Elder Racist over there.”

Danse opened his mouth to say something in defense of the elder but didn’t. He didn’t really have a good defense. Especially since he was trying to be better and be more open minded about the other non-humans who shared their world. That and he was one hundred percent sure Hancock was going to dump him if he defended Maxson.

Danse suddenly froze as he realized who’s hand he was holding and the arm around his waist. He was about to break away when he wondered just how long Hancock had been doing that. Based on the small smile on Nate’s face and the vaguely uncomfortable expression on Maxson’s it had to have been a while. Danse chose not to pull away.

“We need to go grab Nick,” Nate announced, “and then we’ll head to Gunner’s Plaza. It’s the only well known GNN building so I think that’s where she’s headed.”

“The problem is,” Danse interjected, “Does she know that it’s Gunner Plaza now? We don’t actually know how long she’s been in the Commonwealth.”

“She’s survived this long,” Maxson pointed out, “She can survive anything.”

Chapter Text

Maxson was wildly uncomfortable with the knowledge that Danse and Hancock were having a sexual relationship. In fact, he was pretty sure that it was more than just physical. The way that the ghoul was showing affection earlier and Danse’s reciprocation had Maxson almost puking in his mouth. He hated that the once respected paladin had stooped so low and was fraternizing with filth like that. But at the core of it, Maxson was jealous. He was jealous that Danse was happy. In fact, Danse looked happier than he had ever been in the Brotherhood.

Reaching up, Maxson fiddled with the holotags around his neck. One set were his of course, and the other were Sarah’s. After her death, Knight Captain Dusk had given him Sarah’s holotags. He often wondered why the tags had been given to him but didn’t question it. They were the only pieces of Sarah that he had and Maxson was determined to hold onto them.

Being with Nate, Danse, and Nick meant that Arthur was not allowed, under any circumstance to be in the back. They all knew it had something to do with them not trusting him. It peeved him, but he also knew that they were right. Nick and Danse were known synths and therefore enemies of the Brotherhood. The only reason they got a pass was because of Nate.

Danse so far, hadn’t tried to initiate any sort of conversation with him. Maxson found it strange but was actually pleased by this. He had no idea what he would say to the synth anyway.

Nate pressed a finger to his lips and gestured for everyone to get down. They were approaching Gunner’s Plaza and that meant they were one step closer to finding Sarah and uncovering the mystery surrounding her.

This wasn’t the first time that Nate had been to Gunner’s Plaza. He’d been there once before with MacCready an he thought they’d cleared out the place. But, Gunners were like roaches. They kept popping up and they were hard buggers to kill. Sarah had mentioned that she was trying to find someone named Moe. Nate wasn’t sure if this Moe was friendly or hostile but if Moe was heading towards Gunner’s plaza, Nate would put a lot of caps on this person being hostile.

Peering through his scope, Nate spotted five gunners on the roof and one with a missile launcher. That one was going to be a problem. On the ground level there were another five patrolling and two guard dogs at the ready.

Flipping on the switch for VATS, Nate targeted the gunner with the missile launcher. Aiming for the head, he pulled the trigger. The second afterwards, and the gunner’s head exploded in a giant mess of blood in viscera.

“Holy shit!” One of the gunner screamed and began searching for Nate, Danse, Nick, and Maxson. Nate didn’t have to tell anyone twice. They were already moving silent in the bushes and picking off the gunners one by one.

Danse was the first one out of the bushes and running head first into the gunner’s line of fire. Behind him was Nick shooting at the guard dogs with his pipe pistol. Then, there was Nate sniping the gunners from a distance. Maxson came out of hiding as well and began to bash the raiders as they swarmed in his direction.

For being an elder who holed himself up in the Prydwen all the time, Maxson was a deadly and efficient fighter. He wielded a generic laser file, opting to keep his gatling laser on board, but he was a beast in combat.

Nate watched him shoot out the left leg of a gunner who came charging at him with a crowbar. The gunner went down and right before the man hit the ground, the was flown backwards and reduced to a pile of ash.

“Huh,” Nick said with a hint of amusement in his voice, “he can fight after all.” Maxson shot Nick a dirty look but kept his mouth shut. He wasn’t about to argue with a synth right here and now. There were more pressing matters at hand.

The four of them gathered by the door remaining as quiet as possible. Undoubtedly the gunners inside had heard them taking out their men so they were going to be on guard. There was also the possibility that Sarah was inside and they didn’t want her to get caught in the crossfire. Or get shot by her.

Nate picked the lock with ease and slid the door open wincing as it creaked. The four of them slipped in virtually unnoticed.

“Split up,” Nate whispered, “Danse and- hm, Maxson clear out the ground floor. Nick and I will head upstairs. I’ll try and get a vantage point from the top of the stairs.”

There were no arguments from the group and they all went their respective ways. Nate crept up the stairs with Valentine just behind him. They spotted the first gunner patrolling and waiting for an attack. Nate gave a nod to Nick.

Nick raised his unmuzzled pistol and fired a single, perfect shot into the raider’s head. He fell to the ground. The distraction worked perfectly. Down below, the gunner’s turned their attention to the upper levels allowing for Danse and Maxson to attack and giving them the upper hand.

Nate barreled through the gunners until he was able to find a clear spot at the top of the stairs. Behind him, Nick was firing bullet after bullet and making sure that Nate’s back was covered.

Peering through his scope, Nate saw the current Gunner leader sneaking up behind Maxson. Taking aim, Nate fired and blew his brains across the room.

Arthur looked up and saw Nate and gave him a short nod of approval. His focus went back to taking out gunners as they all rushed in to stop the intruders. A good five minutes later, and the entire GNN building was cleared.

“Hey!” Danse called from the rotunda, “I kept this one alive for questioning.”

Nate leapt over the edge of the balcony grateful for the discovery of the freefall legs. He landed with ease and Nick poked his head over the edge. “I’m going to search up here for something useful. It looks like the office was used.”

“I’ll join you,” Danse offered and marched towards the stairs. Maxson looked after the pair with a weary look. Nate wasn’t sure if that look was exasperation at seeing his former, most respected paladin, friends with a very obvious synth or if it was something else.

The Gunner that Danse had disabled was lying against an overturned desk clutching his bleeding leg. “I ain’t gonna tell you jack shit!” He spat at them.

“Fine then,” Nate said nonchalantly, “don’t say anything and we’ll just let you bleed out. Or you can tell us and I’ll give a stimpack. Heal up your leg and you can run out of here.”

The Gunner remained silent but the look on his face showed that he was clearly contemplating the offer. Nate knew that he would take the offer soon and judging by the bleeding, the gunner had about ten minutes of life left. Well, ten minutes of conscious life left.

In the meantime, it would be helpful to search the building for anything useful. Nate stepped away and began rummaging through a few desks. He found some technical documents for Quinlan but other than that there was nothing truly useful.

Upstairs, Nick and Danse were searching the main office. “How are you holding up?” Nick asked digging through a drawer.

Danse blinked in surprise. He didn’t know why he was surprised that Nick was asking after him; the detective did that with everyone. Maybe he was just surprised because no one had ever really bothered to ask him that before- not in the Brotherhood anyway. It was something to get used to.

“I’m-” he hesitated and then finally settled on, “I don’t know.”

Nick pushed the drawer back into place and started working on the locked terminal. “I’m asking because I think I expected you to be acting differently. Working with your former elder and all.”

Danse swallowed sifting through a pile of papers, “I- I thought so too. I thought maybe I would feel like I was back in the Brotherhood.”

“But you don’t?”

“But I don’t. Instead I feel more detached than ever. Like I was never meant to be in the Brotherhood in the first place. It has… left a bitter taste in my mouth.”

Nick hummed as the terminal unlocked. He took a moment to regard the former paladin. “Perhaps your path in the Brotherhood was meant to lead you here, with us.”

Danse nodded, “Perhaps.” He put the stack of papers down and walked over behind the desk to peer over Nick’s shoulder at the terminal. “Anything useful?”

“Not yet,” Nick answered scrolling through old records. He found four recordings that were most recently labeled with a [Press Play].

Listening to the first one proved to be insightful about this “Moe” character. Apparently he was an old Outcast member who was less than receptive to Maxson’s leadership and decided not to rejoin the Brotherhood. Instead, he decided to travel to the Commonwealth and start anew. And it seemed like things were going mostly well. He managed to convince a few Gunners and Raiders that joining him was the right idea. But also commented on how every time he was ready to lead a strike against the Brotherhood something strange would happen thwarting his plans. For about six years the stranger was a pain in Moe’s backside and it only got worse when the Prydwen showed up.

“Six years,” Danse furrowed his brow, “That’s lines up with Elder Lyons’ death, sorry her disappearance. Maxson’s only been the elder for about four and a half years. Prior to that, the Brotherhood went through a few different incompetent elders.”

Nick nodded thoughtfully, “This also confirms Sarah’s holotape. She must be the stranger that Moe is talking about.” Nick ejected the holotape records. “Come on, Nate and Maxson should hear the rest of these.”

Nate was eyeing Maxson who seemed to be getting more and more agitated as the gunner kept bleeding out. The elder kept a steely gaze on the gunner as if staring at the man would make him talk. It might, but Nate doubted it. The gunner was just as observant as Nate was and could see that, despite the fact that he was bleeping out, he had the upper hand. Maxson looked like a desperate man and the gunner was going to exploit it.

“We found something,” Danse announced as he and Nick marched down the stairs.

Nick handed Nate the holotapes. “Sounds like Elder Lyons is the Brotherhood’s guardian angel.”

At that, Maxson perked up and before he could get a word out, Nate was already popping a holotape into his pip-boy.

“Motherfucker,” Moe’s presumed voice came through the speaker, “that fucking big ass balloon has to fucking show up and ruin everything! It’s bad enough that I have to deal with this fucking Reaper-” Nick mouthed Sarah’s name for context. “-but now that prick Maxson shows up! I’ll bet that the fucking Reaper was-”

“BOSS!” Another gunner’s voice comes through.

“The Reaper! She’s here!”

“Fuck!” The holotape ended with the sound of gunfire.

Maxson’s eyes were glued to the holotape. “That- the Reaper? That’s Sarah?”

“Yeah,” Nick informed, “Danse and I found some records indicating that Moe is a Brotherhood Outcast who left the Capital Wasteland shortly after you became Elder. And apparently he’s been trying to rebuild the Outcasts for about six years now. He’s been mostly successful in recruiting leaders.”

“And every time,” Danse added, “he’s been thwarted by Elder Lyons. She followed him from the Capital Wasteland and since then he’s been calling her the Reaper. ”

“Meaning that he doesn’t know her true identity,” Maxson concluded. There was a sense of relief in his voice. If Moe didn’t know who Sarah was, that meant she was safe. Well as safe as she could be in the Commonwealth.

Nate popped in another holotape and let it play.

This time Moe’s laugher started the tape. “I finally fucking did it. Finally caught the damn Reaper and guess fucking what? It’s Elder Sarah fucking Lyons.” He laughed again almost unable to control himself.

There was the sound of someone being dragged into a room. “Fuck you, asshole!” Sarah’s voice was loud and clear. “If you’re going to shoot me then just do it already.”

“No, no,” Moe sounded like he was grinning. “I’m not going to kill you. You’ve been a pain in my ass for way to long. I’m not going to kill you because I want to make you fucking suffer for all the shit you’ve put me through. I lost a lot of fucking men thanks to you.”

Sarah was the one who laughed, “Eat shit and die fuckface.”

A resounding smack went through the speakers and Sarah cried out. “Bitch!” Moe screamed Several punches later and Sarah stopped making noises. The holotape ended.

BANG! Maxson’s finger pulled the trigger and a laser blast went straight through the gunner’s head obliterating it.

“What the fuck!?” Nate screamed. The gunner was going to die regardless and he didn’t really have a problem with the execution itself. He had a problem with the look in Maxson’s eye when he shot the man. It was the look of a man willing to do anything to get Sarah back.

There was a pang in Nate’s chest because he knew that look and knew that it was the same one he had on his face when he blew up the Institute. He thought maybe, just maybe that by destroying the Institute he could turn back time and get Nora back. Get Shaun back and turn the clock back to the time when his family was whole.

Maxson had that look. Maxson, Nate concluded, was in love with Sarah Lyons. This was not about the Brotherhood. It never had been and it never would be. It all made sense to Nate now. The reason Maxson insisted on going on this mission himself instead of sending another soldier. The way that he didn’t say anything about Danse and Nick going with them. The reason he kept insisting that he would never hurt Sarah. The reason Danse said that Maxson wouldn’t hurt Sarah. This was a man with a burning passion. A passion to find the woman that he loved and bring her home, no matter the cost.

It was only in the moment after that Maxson seemed to realize what he had done and quickly lowered his weapon. He swallowed hard his jaw tense and his hands clenched into fists. Everyone was watching him but he refused to look at anyone else.

Nate still had one last holotape for them to listen to so he played it rather than say anything about the gunner’s execution.

“Fucking hell, I don’t know how but that little bitch Maxson is on his way here. Thomas said he saw him camping out with a couple paladins and a synth. He’s not even taking a fucking squad with him. Does he think that he can take me out just like that? Ha! I’m fucking out of here and I’m taking blondie with me.” Moe let out a low cruel chuckle, “Maybe I’ll string her up at Mahkra and leave her there. Saw off a few limbs while I’m at it.” The holotape whirred to a stop.

“She’s alive,” Maxson’s voice started off soft and then grew in volume, “she’s alive! And we just fucking missed her!”

“No,” Nate said quickly, “We didn’t.” He noted the time stamp on the holotape showing it to Maxson. “This was a couple days ago. If Moe’s moving her to Mahkra then he’s got a two days head start. By the time we get there, even by Vertibird that still leaves him with a one day head start. Not to mention that he already knows we’re coming now which means the whole fishpacking plant will be a trap.”

“We are not giving up now,” Maxson snapped.

“I didn’t say that we were,” Nate answer back with the same bite.

Nick stepped between them and faced Maxson. “What Nate is indelicately trying to explain is that you need to be prepared for the possibility that Elder Lyons might not be alive when we find her.”

Maxson knew that already and he wasn't prepared to hear it. They’d come so far and Sarah was so close. If they’d gotten there just a couple days sooner then she’d be here with him and not being carted off to Mahkra Fishpacking Plant. He didn’t want to think about her last days on earth being surrounded by grubby raiders and an Outcast conspirator.

Arthur turned and left without another word. Time was ticking and they had to get moving.

Chapter Text

Turns out they couldn’t take a vertibird to Mahkra. One obvious thing being that Danse was with them, two that meant alerting the Brotherhood to their current mission, and three, if there was a spy watching them then the Vertibird would alert the spy and it might get Sarah killed- if she wasn’t already dead. Their only option was walking.

Nate would’ve liked to say that the walk brought them all closer together, but that was a straight up lie. It seemed like the closer they got to Mahkra, the more anxious everyone got with Maxson being the most irritable one. Danse, on the other hand, felt more comfortable talking with Nick about synth things. Or rather, the idea of getting used to being a synth. Nate found their conversation comforting to listen to.

At first, Maxson was annoyed by their conversation and threatened to shoot them both if they wouldn’t shut up. Apparently, being the elder of the Brotherhood of Steel meant jack shit to Danse now and he promptly ignored the elder. Nate was worried that Danse was deliberately trying to get himself shot. After all, the man was prone to unhealthy coping mechanisms and self destructive tendencies. But it wasn’t until Danse muttered something about Maxson being a tool that Nate nearly died laughing. Being in a relationship Hancock, however defined or undefined, had rubbed off on Danse.

“So what’s your deal?” Nick spoke finally addressing Maxson directly since their walk to Mahkra began. “Why are you so obsessed with Sarah Lyons?”

Nate and Danse knew that Nick was bluffing and one hundred percent knew the answer to the question he was asking.

“I’m not obsessed with her,” Maxson answered after his mutter of several choice swear words.

And surprisingly it was Danse who nearly jumped to Maxson’s defense. The detective was quick to stop Danse and simply waited for Maxson to elaborate.

Maxson, seeing as he wasn’t about to get out of answering the detective spoke. “Sarah’s reappearance is a threat to the Brotherhood’s current leadership and-”

Nick cut him off. “You might be the Elder of the damn Brotherhood of Steel but I’m still a detective. You can’t lie to me or work your way around the truth. Do you want to hear my theory?” Nick didn’t wait for an answer and simply continued.

“I’ve been around for a very long time and the memories that are in this old head also belong to a pre-war detective. Which mean that I’ve seen just about everything under the sun. I know what makes most men tick and what makes you tick is your love for Sarah Lyons.”

Maxson sputtered his denial but Nick didn’t let him get a single word in.

“If you truly thought she was threat you would not have jumped at the chance to find her yourself. Why not just send a squad out or even of of your old Outcast members? The Brotherhood is arguably the strongest it’s ever been since the Lyons’ leadership and I think very few would doubt you if you ordered her to be killed. No one doubted you with Danse’s execution.” Nick gave a small apologetic look to Danse for bringing it up.

“And it’s not just those clues either,” Nick went on, “it’s the fact that you have never called her Elder Lyons. To you, she’s just ‘Sarah’. Not to mention those holotags you carry around your neck.” Nick waved a hand ignoring Maxson’s glare. “I don’t need sleep so I’ve seen you looking at them when you think no one’s looking.”

Nick stopped talking. It was apparent to everyone that he’d hit the nail on the head. And frankly, there was a little surprise coming from Danse and Nate. They all knew that Maxson was in love with Sarah but they never expected him to be called out for it.

When Maxson didn’t speak, Nick added, “I’m not saying that any of us are going to back out on you and honestly if you thought that, it’s quite insulting. But speaking as a whole, and I’m sure Nate and Danse would agree with me, a little bit of truth would be helpful.”

Finally Maxson spoke, “Sarah taught me how to kill a man by stabbing him in the kidneys.” A surprised silence filled the air. Arthur took a deep breath and then, “That was the moment I knew I was in love with her.” The Elder fell silent and this time everyone knew they weren’t going to get anything more out of him. He admitted to being in love with Sarah Lyons and that was all they were going to get.

“Thank you,” Nick said with sincerity and lit up a cigarette.

----

They reached Mahkra Fishpacking Plant by nightfall and just as they suspected the place was crawling with gunners.

“Bit of overkill,” Nate commented placing his silenced .50 sniper rifle on a nearby ledge. He peered through the scope counting out the guards. “Five on the roof, seven on the ground, five more on the perimeter.”

Nick let out a soft whistle, “Overkill is an understatement. If that’s how many they have outside, how many do you think are inside?”

“At least twenty including Moe,” Danse reasoned. “We can’t go in guns hot on this.”

“I agree,” Nate replied, “Unfortunately, I’m the only one with a silenced non-energy weapon. I can take out all the guards outside but getting in is going to be the problem.”

Danse reached his hand out to Nate, “May I?”

Nate handed the paladin his gun and Danse began to scan the area with the scope. “There,” he said and handed the rifle back, “That’s our way in. Just up the metal stairway, northeast corner of the roof. Gunners had to get up there somehow and I’m betting there’s an entrance.”

“Perfect,” Nate grinned. “I’m going to start clearing hostiles and then you three get to the stairway. I’ll meet you up there once the way is clear.”

“Affirmative,” Danse agreed followed up with a nod from Nick and Maxson.

Nate waited for a moment to figure out the guard’s patrol patterns before he too the first shot. He couldn’t take out all five perimeter guards at once but he could get three at a time without drawing attention. Nate waited for the right moment and then Pop, Pop, Pop! Three gunners were dead on the ground within seconds of each other. He took a second to reload and then Pop, Pop! The last two perimeter guards were dead.

Nick, Danse, and Maxson moved out keeping as stealthy as possible. As Maxson crept alongside Danse and Nick in the darkness he witnessed Nate pick off the guards on the roof with ease. He knew the pre-war soldier had seen combat and based on the Brotherhood’s reports and official records, Nate was deady in battle. This was the first time witnessing it with his own eyes and he was very impressed. It took a lot to impress Maxson and Nate was now one of those people.

Another thing that Maxson had to admit was that Nate, Danse, and Nick worked well together. Really, really well. It was something that Maxson hadn’t really witnessed in the Brotherhood. Sure there was camaraderie and all of their teams worked efficiently but there was something different about the trio. Something else that the Brotherhood was missing. Maxson made it a background goal to figure out what that was by the end of their mission.

Nate had sniped the last few remaining guards as Maxson, Danse, and Nick made it to the stairwell. A short moment later and Nate was jogging up to them. They climbed up the stairs quietly, just in case there was someone they missed.

The gunners on the roof had to come from somewhere so the four began to look. It was Maxson who spotted the hatch and called them all over. The hatch was surprisingly unlocked and Nate let it creak open. “Here,” he said softly and handed the Deliverer to Danse. The unspoken comment of “Nick is stealthier than you” was obvious to the two synths.

Danse took the silenced 10mm and used his head to indicate that Maxson should go with Nick. Ordinarily, Maxson would’ve argued with being paired off with a synth but he didn’t. Sarah was in the building and he was determined to find her. Even if it meant fighting side by side with a glorified ham radio.

So far, the silent assault seemed to be going well that is until they were spotted by a several gunners and a firefight ensued. Bullets were flying and people were dying. Nate had nearly forgotten what it was like to be outnumbered in battle because he felt like he was using stimpacks every few seconds just to keep going.

Nick was ducking and weaving trying to get a better shot at the gunners that kept firing without even checking to see where they were. He guessed they were just trigger happy and were okay with not actually aiming as long as there was someone to shoot at. Nick caught a grenade that Nate tossed at him and chucked in the gunner’s direction. The explosion went off and body chunks went flying. Nick peerer over and saw Danse bashing in the face of a gunner who had come at him with a baseball bat.

Danse grabbed the bat from the body in front of him and swung backward catching the gunner trying to sneak up on him in the jaw. The man went down and Danse looked around He had lost sight of Maxson in the firefight and hoped that the elder had found Sarah. Or at the very least was still alive and fighting.

Maxson had ducked away leaving the other three to be a distraction. His priority was finding Sarah and if the other three had to die- a short pang of guilt rushed into him at the thought of Nate, Danse, or even Nick dying. “What the fuck is wrong with me?” He wondered. He shot two gunners who rushed at him effectively setting his thoughts back on track. Nate was a capable fighter and so were Danse and Nick. They’d survive. And when he found Sarah, the two of them would go back and help the other three if need be.

Based on the holotapes displaying Moe’s cockiness, Maxson figured that Sarah would most likely be kept close to the Outcast member. A man like Moe would mean he keeps his quarters where he can keep an eye on everyone and have an escape route close by. Up. Maxson needed to go up higher and most likely he would find Moe in the office he spotted on the south side of the building.

Maxson crept his way across the building trying to ignore the sounds of his friends when did he starting thinking of them as friends- getting hurt. He knew Nate had a supply of stimpacks and hoped that they were being used if their injuries got too bad.

The door to the office was half open and Maxson pushed it open with his laser pistol at the ready. He was prepared to find Sarah or Moe, hopefully both and- it was empty. The room was fucking empty. “What the hell?”

A shark whack and a gunshot followed by blinding pain in the back of his left thigh had Maxson sprawling face first into the ground.

“I was wondering when you’d get here,” Moe’s voice came from behind Maxson. He grabbed his gun, ready to blast the man’s face off but a boot stomped on his hand and kicked the gun away. Maxson was flipped over and there was a pipe pistol in his face.

This was also the first time he actually got to look at Moe. Maxson had seen large, muscular men in the Brotherhood. He’d also seen the size of super mutants and gazing on Moe now almost had Maxson convinced that the man was definitely fathered by a fucking behemoth. There was no way anyone could be that physically big or that built without some kind of genetic predisposition. Or the use of pre-war steroids.

Moe had a sickly, bloody, grin on his face. “Hello, Elder Maxson. Looking for your bitch?”

Arthur growled low in this throat, “Where is Sarah?”

A hard pressure was applied to the boot pinning the elder’s hand down. Maxson forced himself to keep a straight face despite the pain in his wrist. “I’m glad you found my holotape. Sarah kept saying that you would never fall for it, that if anything you were coming to kill her yourself. But-” The Outcast raised his foot and stomped as hard as he could on Maxson’s wrist. The bones shattered and that time Arthur couldn’t keep a scream inside. “-I don’t think that’s true now is it? She’s still alive if that’s what you’re wondering. Too bad you went up instead of down. Maybe you would’ve found her first.”

++

Moe removed his boot from Maxson’s broken wrist and knelt over Maxson. He traced his gun over Maxon’s scar. “I kept her alive because I wanted to kill her right in front of you. You would have to watch her die knowing that there was nothing you could to so save her.”

The gun moved from his scar to tracing his lips in such a way that send chills down Arthur’s spine. There was a sick and twisted light behind Moe’s eyes. Maxson’s unbroken hand felt around for the knife he kept hidden in a thigh holster which was usually hidden by his coat.

Fortunately, the Outcast didn’t notice Maxson reaching for the knife. Unfortunately, Moe seemed to take Arthur’s fidgeting the wrong wrong way and he flashed a bright grin to the elder. Arthur could see chunks of raw, bloody meat stuck between his teeth. He really hoped it wasn’t human.

“Maybe I should just keep you too,” Moe said his voice dropping to a whisper, “show your bitch was real bitch looks like.” Arthur couldn’t hide the disgusted grimace on his face as Moe ground his hips into Maxson’s showing off how aroused he was.

Maxson growled and arched his back trying to throw Moe’s weight off him. Fuck, why was the man so heavy? It felt like his ribs were being crushed. “Don’t fucking touch me.” He hated how strained his voice sounded. It reminded him that he was still just a twenty year old kid.

“You don’t get to call the shots anymore Elder, ” Moe hissed mocking his title. He leaned over the other and to Maxson’s disgust, he licked up the side of Arthur’s face.

++

The gunshots stopped and Moe tilted his head towards the open door. “Hear that silence? I’m betting all your friends are dead. And if they’re not, well I doubt they’ll last long.”

Maxson heard footsteps coming up the stairs and knew from years of living on the same ship as the man, those were Danse’s footsteps. “You’re fucked,” he said and pulled the knife out.

At the same time as Danse, Nate, and Nick entered the office, Arthur used what little strength had had left and pushed against Moe. The gun was knocked out of his hand and Maxson was the one straddling Moe’s waist. He drove his knife into the man’s kidneys and watched as Moe sputtered and died choking in his own blood.

Maxson didn’t have any strength after that because he fell backwards. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and he passed out into strong arms before he his head hit the floor.

Chapter Text

“He’s waking up,” Nick’s voice was the first thing Maxson heard.

The elder’s eyes fluttered open and he found that he was lying on a sleeping back and still in the Mahkra Fishpacking Plant. There was a fire going and some Cram cans placed on the edge of the burning coals. Danse and Nate were sitting nearby talking softly between themselves.

Taking stock of himself, Maxson noticed right away that the bullet hold in his leg and his wrist were almost completely healed. No doubt it was thanks to a stimpack and someone’s first aid skills. The second thing that Maxson noticed was that Sarah wasn’t there. “Where’s Sarah?” He asked immediately.

“Woah, take it easy,” Nick reached out and steadied Maxson.

“She’s not here,” Danse said. “We’re not even sure if she was ever here. Nate and I have searched the whole office and we think this place was just a trap.”

“He said she was here that she is still alive,” Maxson said struggling to sit up. “He said he kept her alive so that he could kill her in front of me.”

Nate frowned and glanced at Nick. “It is a possibility,” Nick answered, “but with Moe dead we don’t have a way of knowing. So far there isn’t a trace of Elder Lyons anywhere.”

“Down!” Maxson blurted out. “I remember- he said I should have gone down instead of up and I would’ve found her first.”

“Down?” Nate’s eyes went wide, “Is there a basement? We didn’t check for one.”

“Yes!” Arthur shot to his feet ignoring the scream of his leg, “She’s there!” He wobbled slightly and grabbed onto Nick instinctively when he threatened to topple over.

“Maybe you should stay here,” Danse suggested, “You’re in no condition to-”

“Don’t patronize me paladin,” Maxson snapped. He picked his pistol off the floor and headed off in no particular direction.

Nate did a short half job to get to Maxson and handed him a tablet of Buffout. “It won’t last long but it’ll get you through tonight. At least until the stimpack does its job.”

“Thank you,” Maxson muttered and popped the tablet. He could almost feel Danse’s disapproval coming from behind them but ignored it. He was Elder Arthur fucking Maxson, he was going to find Sarah Lyons no matter what.

The four began to search the plant and decided that it would be easier to split up and search. Nick, for some reason, insisted on going with Maxson while Danse and Nate went off together. As Danse and Nate departed, Maxson heard Danse say very softly, “He called me paladin.”

Maxson frowned recalling that he had indeed called Danse ‘paladin’ instead of ‘synth’ or some other name. He wondered if he’d done that before and when he’d forgotten that Danse was in fact a synth and not a Brotherhood soldier. That was a problem.

“Are you holding up alright?” Nick asked casually.

“Yes,” Maxson informed, “Paladin Nate gave me a Buffout. I am against the use of chems but in this case, I am making a one time exception.”

“Just like you’re giving Danse a one time exception?”

Maxson didn’t know why he hesitated. “Yes.”

“I was however, not talking about your current physical health when I asked you were doing,” Nick said continuing to maintain a casual conversation. “I was referring to the… compromising position we found you in before you killed Moe.”

Arthur stiffened slightly. “He was waiting for me and I fell into his trap. Nothing more.” He turned to Nick and scowled, “Why do you ask so many questions, synth? Why must you be so nosy?”

“I’m a detective, it’s my job to be nosy,” Nick answered back.

Maxson ground his teeth. He was irritated at how the synth never snapped back or raised his voice. He was always so calm and collected and just so very frustrating.

“Plus,” Nick added and lit up a cigarette, “I keep tabs on people I’ve come to care about. And maybe one day you’ll fit into that category.”

Arthur was taken aback by Nick’s honest answer. He open his mouth to reply but couldn’t find the words to.

“Found it,” Nick said and pointed to a locked hatch in the floor. As if on cue, Danse and Nate walked into the room and Nate pointed towards the hatch.

“Huh,” Nate wandered over and inspected the lock, “Seems easy enough.” After breaking two bobby pins, Nate realized that the lock was broken from the inside and could actually be easily opened if he had bothered to check. He cleared his throat in embarrassment and tugged it open.

Maxson dropped into the room. “Sarah!?” He callout, “Sarah, it’s Arthur!” There was no answer.

Nate, Danse, and Nick dropped into the room after him. Danse found a circuit breaker and flipped it on.

The four of them nearly gagged at the sight before them. Bodies of drifters and settlers were being butchered on conveyer belts and tables. Even some raider corpses were mixed in. Maxson’s stomach was queasy at the realization that the raw meat he’d seen inside Moe’s mouth was human.

“These poor people,” Danse whispered.

Arthurs had the very horrible thought that Sarah was among the bodies. It seemed as if everyone had the same thought because there was a sudden surge of energy and a frantic search to see of any of the corpses belonged to the former elder.

“I found something!” Danse shouted from a no longer functioning walk in freezer.

Maxson ran as fast as his leg would allow. He steeled himself for what might be the sight of Sarah’s mangled body. There was no body. Only Danse pointing at something scratched into the wall. Upon closer inspection Maxson saw the symbol and his heart surged. The was the mark of the Lyons Pride. Sarah had been here and she had been here alive.

Nick was the one who pieced together the scene. “I knew something was suspicious about the raider bodies. They didn’t look like they were killed like the others. I think Elder Lyons escaped. Look,” he moved into the freezer, “these two raiders were attacked from behind. Strangled and a gunshot but no gun.” They followed Nick as he continued his assessment. “The guards must have been distracted by something because they’re all facing the hatch. If they weren’t then they would have noticed Sarah escaping.”

“Us,” Danse suddenly said, “they were distracted by us.”

“Yes,” Nick agreed. He moved towards the hatch and pointed upward, “the lock was busted from the inside so we know she made it out.”

The three followed Nick back up and onto the ground floor. “Next logical step is to find the closest exit and head away from the gunfire.”

“Gunfire was coming from there,” Nate said pointing, “So-”

Maxson took over and walked in the direction opposite of Nate and Nick. “She would have gone in this direction.”

Danse jogged to the closest door. “The handle’s been shot off.” He opened it revealing an exit to the Commonwealth. Maxson’s heart clenched when daylight streamed into the building. They’d been there for a while and that meant Sarah had a good head start. “We already cleared the exterior so she wouldn’t have faced any opposition.”

The rest of the group joined him and Nick took the lead. “The issue is where did she go from here. I don’t think she’s injured otherwise we would have noticed a blood trail.”

“We should gather out stuff and head out,” Maxson suggested. “If she’s out there the sooner we find her, the better.”

“I agree,” Nate said. “Nick and I will see if we can find any indication as to where she might’ve gone. Can you two get our things and meet us at the road?” Danse nodded and retreated back inside with Maxson.

It wasn’t until they reached the road that Nate stopped Nick. “She is alive, isn’t she Nick?”

“Don’t worry, doll,” Nick said. “From the evidence that gal looks like one tough fighter.” He reached out with his fleshier hand and squeezed Nate’s hand gently. “Speaking of tough fighter-” Nick let go to Nate’s hand to show him the broken pieces of a pipe pistol. “She definitely went north.”

Nate grinned. “Think she bumped into the Nakanos?”

“Well, only one way to find out.”

----

It took them about half a day to travel north and reach the Nakano’s residence. As they approached the house, Nate could feel his growing apprehension. The last time he and Nick had been there, the Nakano’s hadn't been exactly too pleased to learn that Kasumi was as synth. Well, they wouldn’t have known if Kasumi hadn’t felt the need to actually tell them. Nate guessed it was guilt but even he was shocked that the girl had said anything. He also wasn’t entirely sure that Kasumi was a synth. The Institute had still been around when he and Nick took the case and they gave no indication that the girl was one of theirs. And poking around the Railroad proved to be useless as well.

The group was spotted by Kenji who was tending to his boat. Having Maxson with them might not have been the smartest move because Kenji greeted them with a shotgun pointed directly at the elder.

“If you get anywhere near my daughter, I will not hesitate to blow your brains out,” Kenji threatened, “she is a good girl and you will not take her away from us.”

Maxson raised his arms up slightly, “I’m not here to take anyone away.”

“Please,” Kenji spat, “I know your face. You’re here to kill my daughter! Well I have news for you, I do not care if she-”

“Kenji, old friend,” Nick quickly said putting himself between Kenji and Maxson. He needed to stop the man before he called Kasumi a synth. Even though Maxson wasn’t shooting at Nick or Danse, there was still the possibility that he could come back with a squad of Brotherhood soldiers and kill the family. “He doesn’t have authority over sympathizers .”

Thank the fucking creator that Kenji picked up on what Nick was implying because he lowered the shotgun. “He won’t come back to harm my family?”

Maxson shook his head, “No. I will not.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” Nick said sourly.

Kenji finally put his shotgun away and gestured for them to follow him into the house. “Rei is inside making tea. Would you care to join us?”

“Actually, we were just looking to talk to Kasumi,” Nate said, “But I’m sure Arthur here would love some tea.”

Maxson looked offended that he wasn’t being invited to speak with Kasumi. “I have a-”

“No you don’t,” Danse interrupted so sharply that Maxson shut up purely from the shock of it.

“I have a love of tea,” Maxson said instead of arguing.

Kenji smiled tensely, “I’m sure you do.” He nodded for Maxson to go inside the house first before turning to the other three, “Kasumi is in the boathouse.”

“Thank you,” Nick replied.

Nate, Danse, and Nick left Maxson to have tea with the Nakano’s and headed to the boathouse to speak with Kasumi. They found her tinkering with an old television set.

“Detectives!” She greeted with a bright smile. “Mr. Danse, it’s really nice to see all of you.”

“It’s good to see you too Kasumi,” Nick grinned back at her.

Kasumi came up to hug Nick, “What are you doing here?”

Nate frowned. “We’re actually looking for someone. A woman that we’ve been trying to find.”

“Are you talking about the escaped synth? The one that came here last night?”

“Was she blonde?” Danse asked. He didn’t mean for the question to sound as indelicate.

Kasumi nodded, “Yes.”

“You didn’t get here name did you?” Nick asked.

“No, I didn’t ask. I figured it was safer if I didn’t know her name.”

Nate popped in his own question. “How do you know she was an escaped synth?”

Kasumi shrugged, “What else would she be? She came running up to the house and when I asked if she was okay, she just told me that she was being followed by some people who wanted to kill her. I figured the only reason for someone to be running this far up north meant they were headed to Acadia. She had to be a synth.” Kasumi’s logic made sense so no one could argue with it. The one burning question was if Sarah was a synth or not and perhaps Kasumi had that answer. She didn’t. “I told her to take a boat to Far Harbor and talk to Mr. Brooks about getting to Acadia.”

“So she had to be in Far harbor by this point,” Nick concluded, “And if she’s there then she’s already talked to Brooks and is on her way to Acadia with Longfellow.”

“That’s good,” Nate said, “At least now we know where she is and that she’s safe.”

“Hey,” Kasumi interrupted softly, “I saw that Brotherhood guy going into the house with my mom and dad. Is- he’s not going to hurt anyone is he?”

“Of course not,” Nate promised placing his hand on her shoulder, “we’d never do anything to endanger Acadia or the synths.”

Kasumi nodded although she didn’t seem too convinced. “Here,” she said and handed Nick the keys to the family boat, “You can take the boat. Good luck.”

----

The Nakano’s were nice enough people and Maxson decided that they would be nicer if they weren’t a bunch of synth sympathizers. Although the way that Nick emphasized the word sympathizer, made Maxson think that maybe one or all of them were synths. He suspected it was the daughter.

How can they be so loving and so protective of a girl that’s not even their daughter?” He wondered. For some reason his brain flashed back to Owyn Lyons. The man did take care of him and protected him in lieu of his parents deaths. Is that what happened to the Nakano’s then? Their daughter was replaced and instead of eliminating the synth they kept her? Or did the Nakano’s not have a child of their own and so they adopted a the synth instead? Things were getting too complicated in Maxson’s head now. He didn’t like the idea that he was starting to think about the reason why someone would sympathize with a synth instead of simply just hating them.

“You are very young to be a leader,” Rei said breaking the awkward silence in the house, “you must have worked hard to get there.”

I did,” is what Maxson wanted to say but that wasn’t quite the truth. So instead he said, “I was groomed to take this position since I was a boy.” He was surprised that he was actually sharing that with Kenji and Rei.

“How sad,” Rei replied with a soft sadness in her voice, “You never got to be a child.”

“Does anyone ever get to be a child?” he wondered but said nothing.

“I thought I was protecting Kasumi by not letting her leave the house,” Rei continued as if Maxson has responded or wanted her to keep talking. “But instead I was just pushing her away. I wanted her to be my little girl forever. Stop the clock in a way.” Rei smiled sadly and held her hand up about three feet off the floor, “I remember when she was this small and now… now she’s all grown up and changing the world.”

The story had Maxson confused. Synths, to his knowledge, didn’t grow up. They weren’t capable of it. So maybe Mrs. Nakano and her husband were the synths?

Before Maxson had any more time to speculate and wonder, the door opened and Nick poked his head inside. “Kenji, Rei, thank you so much for your hospitality but we need to get going now.” He nodded at Maxson who stood up abandoning his tea.

“Thank you for th tea,” he said as politely as he could and slipped out the door with Nick.

“Enjoy your tea?” Nick asked with a little bit of snark.

Maxson sped up his pace and caught up with Danse and Nate by a boat. “Did you find out where she went?” He asked still sour at being left behind.

“Yeah,” Nate said, “We’re going to Far Harbor.”

Chapter Text

Maxson had previously thought that the Mahkra Fishpacking Plant had the worst smell in the world. He underestimated how bad Far Harbor was going to smell. The residents seemed to really enjoy feasting on Mirelurks based on the massive vat in the middle of the town with said crab boiling in it.

It also seemed like the residents of Far Harbor were delighted by Nate and Nick’s presence. Less so with Danse, but there were a couple people who greeted him nicely. Namely it was the merchant named Brooks. Nate requested to talk to the man privately and Maxson could only assume it was for the purchase of some less than legal items. Or at the very least, items that Maxson would disapprove of.

“Thanks Brooks,” Nate waved at the man and rejoined them. “He said Longfellow’s in The Last Plank. Got back a couple hours ago.”

“Great, that’s great!” Danse looked relieved as did Nick.

Maxson was tired of being left out of whatever it was that they were talking about. It was irritating having to listen to them talk in ‘code’ or dance around him. It was like they were all afraid to say something wrong.

“Got back from where?” he demanded with irritation. “What aren’t any of you telling me?”

“Somewhere that you can’t follow,” Nate replied and then turned to Danse. “I hate to do this but, can you and Maxson stay with Avery?”

Danse nodded, “Of course, I understand. Besides, they are nice, but I would rather not go back if I do not have have to.”

Nate smiled, “Thanks big guy.”

“Right then,” Nick said, “shall we get going?”

---

The walk to Acadia didn’t take very long but it was a really nice break from Maxson. Nate had a certain level of respect for the elder, but he didn’t like at all the way the man treated synths, non-ferals, and sentient super mutants. It was for that reason that whenever he knew he needed to board the Prydwen, he would take Nick or Hancock. He considered taking Strong once, but that was a sure fire way to get both of them shot.

As Nick and Nate approached the entrance to Acadia, they saw Chase standing by the entrance. It was odd considering that Nate had never seen her outside the compound.

“Chase,” he greeted, “how are you?”

“Fine,” she replied, “were you followed?”

Nate shook his head, “No. Are you expecting an attack? Can we help?”

Chase frowned, “Got a newcomer last night. One that looks exactly like the Brotherhood’s former elder. I don’t think she should be here, but DiMA’s insisted that she needs a safe place to stay. I don’t trust her.” She took a moment to observe the pair and then she sighed. “You two are the ones who are following her, aren’t you?”

“Guilty,” Nate said. “We’re not going to hurt her or bring any trouble with us. Promise.”

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” Chase said flatly. Regardless, she turned and walked inside Acadia with Nate and Nick just behind her.

“We should check in with DiMA,” Nick said, “let him know we’re here.” Nate agreed knowing that Nick also wanted to check up on his brother and see if the old synth was doing alright.

“It's good to see you again, brother,” DiMA greeted walking over to the pair.

Nick had a small grin twitching at the corner of his mouth. “Good to see you too, DiMA.”

“So,” the old synth addressed Nate, “I assume you are here for Sarah Lyons?”

Nate nodded, “Yeah. We’ve been following her for a while now.”

“Well, I can tell you that she is here and she is safe. You may talk to her, but I request that if she does not want to speak with you, that you leave her be. That girl has been through a lot.”

“Yeah, that’s fair,” Nate said, “We’re not here to take her away or anything. It’s just a talk.”

DiMA nodded and gestured to the staircase behind them, “she’s in one of the rooms downstairs.”

Nate and Nick left DiMA’s chamber and headed to the stairs. “Hang on,” Nate said suddenly grabbing Nick’s arm.

“Something wrong, doll?”

Nate removed his hand, “Are we doing the right thing? What if all she wants is to be left alone? We know that Maxson is in love with her, but we never asked about how she feels. We’ve only been hearing one side of this.”

Nick pondered the question for a moment and then answered. “I can say that we’ve gone too far already and that there’s no turning back but that’s not true. We always have a choice to leave now, but I think at the very least we talk to her. Tell her that whatever she decides, we’ll support that. Even if that means whisking Elder Asshole back to the Commonwealth and finding her a safe place to stay.”

Nate nodded, “Okay.”

The two descended the stairs to the bottom floor where they entered the living quarters. On the far back cot sat none other than Elder Sarah Lyons.

Chapter Text

Sarah Lyons held a commanding presence that outshone Maxson’s. In front of her, Nate felt like he was truly staring at an Elder of the Brotherhood of Steel. With Maxson, Nate felt like he was a pompous, over-confident child- which in all fairness, he was groomed to be.

“Elder Lyons?” Nate asked approaching cautiously, “I’m Nate and this is Detective Nick Valentine. Can we talk to you?”

“You’re already talking to me,” Sarah said but gestured for them to pull up a chair from the nearby wall.

Nate did as he was told and placed his chair in front of her. He wasn’t entirely sure about why he was so nervous.

“You said you wanted to talk, but you don’t do much talking,” Sarah said when Nate failed to open his mouth.

“Sorry, he replied, “I just don’t really know where to start.”

“We found your holotape in the East Boston Police Station,” Nick supplied and pulled her very first holotape from Nate’s bag. He handed to her.

“Thank you,” she frowned, “I hadn’t realized that I’d lost it.”

“It led us to Gunner’s Plaza and from there we followed your trail to Mahkra, then here.”

“Huh, so that’s what that was.” She changed the topic. “You’re clearly not with the Brotherhood,” Sarah observed, “and Nate said you’re a detective?”

“Yes ma’am,” Nick acknowledged, “The Commonwealth’s first and only synth detective. Not a big fan of the Brotherhood.”

Sarah snorted, “That makes two of us.”

“What do you mean?” Nate asked finally finding his voice.

“Arthur Maxson is what I’m talking about. He took the Brotherhood that may father built and destroyed it. Brought the Outcasts back into the fold and stopped helping the people. Hoarding technology when it can easily be used to improve the lives of others. The Brotherhood exist to serve the people, not to rule them.” There was a bitterness in her tone that sent stabs of guilt through Nate.

Sarah saw the look on Nick’s and Nate’s faces. “He’s here, isn’t he?”

“Far Harbor,” Nate said, “we left him there.”

“Hrmph, no doubt it was to protect the people of Acadia.”

Nick pressed his lips together in a thin line and confirmed her suspicion, “Yes.”

“Which only serves to prove my point,” Sarah was firm, “you don’t trust him enough with the safety of these people. You can tell him that he’s wasted his time in tracking me down. If we wants to bring me back to the Brotherhood it’ll have to be my corpse.”

----

Avery wasn’t too thrilled about having Danse and Maxson in her house but she allowed it as long as they didn’t make any trouble. She didn’t think they would but based on the thick tension, she certain of one thing. They were either going to explode and start yelling at each other, or the tension was sexual and she would have to do a deep cleaning after they left. Avery didn’t know which one was worse.

“I’m going to see the Mariner,” she said as an excuse and left.

Silence befell the former paladin and the elder. It wasn’t the first time they had been left alone together but it was clear that Danse wasn’t thrilled with elder’s reappearance in his life. Maxson wasn’t too crazy about it either but he did have to admit that he missed his friend. Synth or not, the man sitting across the dining table still felt like the same old Danse.

Maxson cleared his throat and attempted to alleviate the tension with some small talk. “How long have you been sleeping with that ghoul filth?”

Danse narrowed his eyes, “His name is not ghoul filth it’s Hancock . And our relationship is none of your business.”

Maxson pressed on determined to have a conversation, “Were you sleeping with him when you were still with the Brotherhood?”

“What is wrong with you!?”

“Excuse me for at least fucking trying to strike up a damn conversation.” Maxson grumbled soft enough that Danse wouldn’t hear.

Danse did hear and he glowered at Maxson, “ That is your attempt at small talk?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Maxson didn’t have a good excuse so he decide just to be honest. His world was flipping upside down and he was starting to question everything he’d ever been taught about synths. Danse was a synth and used to be Maxson’s friend. Nick was very obviously a synth and despite every insult Maxson had thrown his way, the detective cared enough to ask if Maxson was doing okay. He didn’t really know how to express all of that so he settled on, “I miss my friend. Synth or not.”

Danse was actually quiet and his expression softened. “So why the question about my relationship with Hancock?” He asked not unkindly.

Maxson shrugged in embarrassment, “I heard that sex is a very popular topic amongst… and I was curious. You both look… happy together.”

“We are,” Danse said and then clarified, “happy, I mean. And um, to answer your previous question it’s no. No, I wasn’t sleeping with Hancock while I was still in the Brotherhood. It was after… after.” The former paladin grew silent and then cleared his throat. “How do you think it’ll go with Sarah?”

Maxson let out a short huff of laughter, “I don’t know. And I’m actually really scared.”

Danse cracked a smile, “You? Elder Maxson of the Brotherhood of Steel is scared? Of Sarah Lyons?”

“That’s Elder Sarah Lyons to you,” Maxson replied back with a little mirth.

“Correction, Elder Sarah Lyons,” Danse answered.

The short wave radio on the kitchen counter flipped on and caught Danse’s and Maxson’s attentions.

“This is Nate to Avery, is anyone there? Over.”

Maxson swallowed his nerves away and picked up the radio. “This is Maxson and Danse, we can hear you. Over.”

Nate let out a huge sigh and it was Nick they heard in the background saying, “Like a band-aid.”

Maxson exchanged a nervous glance with Danse. “Is everything alright? Did you find Sarah?”

“Yeah,” Nate answered weakly, “we found Sarah. But um… she doesn’t want to see you.”

Maxson’s heart clenched. “What? W-why?”

“Look we talked and she- she said she doesn’t want to talk to you. It’s her choice and so I think you need to respect that. I’m sorry but I’ll stand by her decision.” He heard Nate let out a shaking breath. It was obvious he was having a hard time telling Maxson.

Arthur turned to Danse, “Can I have a moment alone?”

Danse nodded, “Yeah. I’ll be just outside.”

As soon as he was alone Maxson spoke again. “Are you alone?”

He heard a shuffle of Nick grumbling and then, “Yes.”

“I- I’m-” Maxson couldn’t figure out the words he wanted to say. They were all a jumbled mess in his head. “Sarah’s death tore me apart. Yes, I loved her- still love her but… as a boy she was my only friend. The only person who paid me any attention and treated me… treated me like I was normal. Like I wasn’t a Maxson. I was pretty lonely and… and when she died it only got worse. The people who groomed me to become elder weren’t my friends. They treated me like… well like a child who was only meant to follow orders. So that’s what I became. But I never forgot Sarah and everything she taught me."

Arthur paused suddenly realizing what he was doing. He was pouring his heart out to Nate in hopes that maybe, just maybe, the man could convince Sarah to speak to him. Even if it was just for a moment, a minute, less. He knew that everything he had done after Sarah’s supposed passing had gone against everything the Lyons had build and taught him. But after her death there had been no time to grieve or mourn.

“I suppose it’s hypocritical of me to say that I remember everything that she taught me considering what I’ve done to to the Brotherhood. I could justify my actions but… I won’t. Because that isn’t what I- I’m not here for the Brotherhood, Nate.”

Maxson took a deep breath. He was putting everything at risk. If anyone were to hear what he was about to say- well, if anyone in the Brotherhood were to hear- Maxson’s career as Elder, was done for.

“Nate,” he repeated the paladin’s name, “I’m not speaking to you as Elder of the Brotherhood. I’m speaking to you as a man. As a desperate man in love and the woman whom I love is- is right there and only moments away. If you had the chance to speak with Nora again, even for just a minute, wouldn’t you want to? I- I never thought I would ever have the chance to speak to Sarah ever again and when I heard she was alive, she was the only person I could think of. I didn’t care about anything when you told me. All I wanted was her, to see her again.”

Nate had remained silent the whole time just absorbing Maxson’s words. He couldn’t help but feel for the man, especially when he brought up Nora. Because Maxson was right. If he had the opportunity to speak to his wife again, he would take it in a heartbeat. Nate knew that he would fight tooth and nail to see her again. Even if it was just to say “I love you” one last time.

“Please, Nate,” Maxson’s voice was soft, almost pleading. “I’m not commanding you to telling you as the Elder of the Brotherhood, but as a desperate man who wants a second chance.” Nate turned to Sarah wondering what her response would be. He could tell that even Maxson’s words had gotten to her. She was hesitant and only started at the radio. Then, after a long moment she gave him a small nod.

Nate gave a short relieved smile and answered Maxson. “I can arrange a meeting,” he said trying to sound cool about it. “But somewhere neutral. There are people that I need to protect and you’re not going to be allowed here anyway.”

“I’ll go anywhere,” Arthur replied sounding more desperate than he probably intended.

Nate nodded, “There’s a drive-in theatre called the Eden Meadows Cinema. Meet us there tomorrow morning. Nine am.”

Maxson let out a soft sight of sheer relief and joy, “Thank you, Nate.”

“Just-” Nate hesitated, “never mind. Have a good night, Elder.” The short wave radio shut off and Maxson was left with static.

Danse knocked on the door before entering. “Well?” He asked.

Maxson couldn’t help the small, hopeful smile on his face as he answered Danse, “She agreed to meet me tomorrow morning.”

Chapter Text

It was ridiculous how nervous Maxson felt. His palms were sweaty and despite the cold temperatures of the island, he was running hot. His jacket felt like it was suffocating him. He felt like he was a squire again. He was the Elder of the Brotherhood of Steel and Sarah Lyons was the only person in the world to turn him into a bundle of nerves and jelly limbs.

Maxson had arrived at Eden Meadows an hour early. He felt like he was making a first impression. And in a way, it was. Six years could change a person. He wondered what she would look like now and how the wastelands had treated her. Even without seeing her, Maxson knew that he would still be in love with her. There wasn’t a doubt in his mind.

Sarah came out of the fog like some old world painting. Stunningly gorgeous and sporting a brand new scar running from chin to neck, and disappearing under her top. She had a typical wastelander's garb but something about her armor was very reminiscent to her actual suit of power armor. She carried all the confidence that Arthur remembered and he swore that the fog was parting around her- like it wasn’t worthy to be in company.

Sarah stopped in front of him and Arthur felt his mouth run dry and his nerves lighting on fire. How could he feel so cold and so, so hot at the same time? He realized that he was gaping but couldn’t find the strength to open his mouth. Sarah had always been taller than him and now was not an exception. She didn’t necessarily tower over him only being two inches taller, Maxson sure felt like she was dwarfing him.

“Hi,” Arthur whispered, unable to make his voice any louder.

Sarah raised an eyebrow and she seemed amused, “Really? Six years and the first thing you say to me is ‘hi’ in a mousey voice?”

He nodded stupidly.

Sarah continued, “I expected something along the lines of ‘Prepare to die, Traitor,” follows up with a knife in my chest. Or me sticking a knife in yours.”

“No!” Maxson nearly shouted, “No, I would never!”

“You are the Elder of the Brotherhood of Steel, the Last of the Maxson line, aren’t you?” Sarah goaded, trying to find Arthur’s true intentions. “The one who reunited the Outcasts with the Brotherhood and began to hoard technology instead of helping people.”

“Yes, but-”

“But?” Sarah asked and suddenly she was getting angry, “But what? There are no ‘buts’ as Elder. Only a ‘but’ comes from the child who was turned against me. Speak now or we will never speak again.”

Arthur panicked. He panicked because the prospect of losing Sarah again was too great and he couldn’t. He needed to speak because he couldn’t bear the knowledge of knowing that Sarah believed that he wasn’t loyal to her. That he didn’t love her. That he was turned against her.

“I didn’t- I- you! I’m still- you-” He fumbled over his words and tried to repeat his sentence only for him to stutter and stop and try again. And with each passing second, Sarah seemed to be getting more and more frustrated with him until finally, “I’M SORRY!”

Sarah’s expression softened and Arthur repeated quietly, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything. For the way Brotherhood has treated you and-”

“Don’t be sorry for something that was out of your control,” Sarah replied, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have gotten mad at you. I had thought that… if you received my holotags then maybe you would be able to follow in my footsteps. But, that was a foolish thought. You were just a kid and with me out of the way there were so many more influential figures around you. It’s not your fault.”

“But I feel responsible,” Maxson replied grimly. “I thought you were dead and when they didn’t bring back your body I- I should have pushed.”

Sarah whipped her head catching Maxson’s eyes, “You don’t know.” She scoffed and turned away, “Of course you don’t know. Your innocence was probably key to putting you in power.”

There was a queasy feeling in Arthur’s stomach. Sarah’s words struck him in a way that no other words could. His innocence about Sarah put him in power - was a very clear indication that he was never in control. And that shook him to his core. Arthur knew that he had been groomed to be elder and when he received the position he assumed it had been on his own merit. But now… he was beginning to realize that he had been a puppet all along. Even now, were his strings being pulled?

“Hey,” Sarah put a hand on his forearm grounding him, “I can see the wheels spinning in your head so why don’t you hear my story first?”

Arthur nodded. He needed some clarity and he hoped that maybe Sarah’s story would help.

Sarah took a deep breath. She was nervous to tell her story but at the same time she was bursting. It had been so long since she had talked to anyone familiar- who knew who she was. But the reason she was nervous was because this was Arthur. The boy who was left in her father’s care and considered her to be his best friend up until she left. For some reason, Sarah felt as though she had abandoned Arthur and his convoluted leadership was her fault. In a way, she knew that it was. It was a direct result of her vanishing even if she left to serve the Brotherhood in, what she had determined at the time, was the best way to do so.

“After I became Elder,” Sarah began, “I was on a routine scouting mission with the Pride after reports of lingering Outcast members were reported in an old shipping yard. But when we got there, it was a trap. The whole place had been rigged to blow and if it hadn’t been for Gallows we would have all died.”

Sarah took a breath to remember all her friends who were no longer alive. “By the time it was over it was only Vargas, Dusk, and Gallows who survived. The others were either killed by the blast or the Outcast soldiers who were waiting to pick off the survivors. It was a blow that I hadn’t anticipated and I knew that I had to do something. With my father dead and my leadership already in the balance, I knew that the Outcasts were going to keep coming. We already had evidence that they were trying to rebuild and based on analytics they would be able to within the next five years.”

Maxson clenched his fists. He suddenly felt wrong for inviting the Outcasts back into the Brotherhood.

“So I decided to do something drastic. Calculated, but drastic. I knew the opinion people held of me simply because I had the Lyons name. In a similar way that people hold you to a certain standard because you’re a Maxson. I was the daughter of a fanatic. Someone who had strayed far away from the original ideations of our organization.”

“So you decided to leave?” Arthur asked softly, already knowing the answer.

Sarah nodded, “Yes. I needed to be able to go after the Outcasts without my every move being questioned. I had the loyalty of some but some wasn’t good enough. I needed to protect the Brotherhood but I knew I couldn’t do that as Elder. So I told the Pride my plan. Vargas refused to let me go alone and came with me. Gallows and Dusk wanted to come as well but I told them to go back to the Citadel and report in. They were to mark myself and Vargas as MIA. I gave Dusk my holotags and instructed her to give them to you and if there was ever an appropriate time to tell you what happened. She never got that chance, did she?”

Maxson shook his head, “Knight Captain Dusk was killed in action on a recon mission the following week.” The pit in his stomach was growing and the puzzle pieces started falling into place. “Knight Captain Gallows was on that mission as well…”

“Figures,” Sarah answered bitterly. She remained silent for a while. “It made sense that the last two of the Pride would be killed. I don’t think they thought it through because even I heard rumors of innectual leadership. It made the Outcasts stronger. Vargas and I tracked down some members and were able to thwart any plans before they took off. But it was hard work. We couldn’t use power armor because that was too obvious and working as civilians was less than optimal. But we managed. It wasn’t until you came into power that things changed.”

Guilt bubbled in Maxson’s throat but he kept silent. And stupidly, in the back of his mind he wondered in Vargas and Sarah had ever been romantically involved.

“Vargas died two months after the Outcasts were reunited with the Brotherhood. Fucking greenskin is what got him.” She didn’t elaborate more, which was fair. They two had been friends for years and it must be hard on her to even mention his name.

“I left the Capital Wasteland after that. I figured with you in power there was no reason to stay. You had essentially done my job for me. Originally, I was going to head to NCR but I wanted to keep an eye on you from a reasonable distance. So I went to the Commonwealth and bounced around as a merc. From there, I heard rumors about some Outcast members joining the gunners. I went after them and I had one last member to go before I cleared the Commonwealth of the Outcasts.”

“Moe,” Arthur realized.

Sarah nodded. “Yes. Moe. Well, I was going to get him and then you showed up in the Prydwen. Made things a lot more complicated. Because not only did I need to hide from you and Moe, Moe was hiding from me and you. Which lead up to the events of this past week and a half. You should know the story from there.”

“There,” Arthur hesitated and then asked, “There is a- question that I have. About Mahkra.”

Sarah nodded patiently because it seemed like Maxson was having trouble formulating his words. She wasn’t sure if that was due to her presence or because he was beginning to see the truth behind it all.

“I thought we’d found you there but we had just missed you.”

“When I was captured, I figured I was done for. Moe was ready to kill me on the spot but one of his gunners came up and said you were looking for me. Honestly, I think it was the only thing that saved my life. He became obsessed with the idea of capturing you just so he could butcher me right in front of you. He gets off on power.”

Sarah glanced over at Arthur. His fists were grabbing at the sides of his coat and he had a strange far off look in his eyes. “Did something happen?” She asked softly.

Maxson tilted his head in her direction. “No. Um… please continue. I want to hear the rest.”

Sarah nodded not quite believing him but continued, “At Mahkra I heard the commotion and I assumed you’d come for me. But I also had a suspicion that you came with a troop of soldiers. I couldn’t be caught because I didn’t know what was going to happen to me. So I took the opportunity and I ran. I ran until I came across a house and a lovely girl who offered me safe passage to Far Harbor. She assumed I was a synth and I didn’t bother to correct her. And here I am.” Sarah let out a breath she didn’t realize that she’d been holding. She added softly, “I wish it had all turned out differently.”

“I do too,” Arthur admitted.

“You could have,” Sarah replied. She was careful not to let blame slip into her tone. “You could have changed the Brotherhood at anytime. Coming to the Commonwealth to help destroy the Institute was a good plan. I had faith in you for a while.”

“You did?”

Sarah nodded. “I did… and then I saw your leadership tactics. Heard about them from settlers, drifters, traders… and I lost it.”

Maxson swallowed. “Why?” He already knew the answer but need to hear it from her mouth.

“Because no matter how hard it gets, no matter how ugly the world is, the people come first. Destroying the Institute was your goal but you didn’t care who go in the way.”

Maxson wanted to ask how she could say that after seeing the filth that occupies the commonwealth. The ghouls and the mutants and the synths pretending to be human? If anything, she should be on his side and agree that the filth needed to be wiped out.

She answered his unspoken question with, “You lacked compassion for living beings. Or at least you do for the most part.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I’m referring to your companions.”

“Nate has a clear compassion towards synths, non-feral ghouls, and sentient super mutants. You are even traveling with two of them and haven’t put a bullet through their heads.”

Sarah watched as Arthur’s brow wrinkled. He was having a clear internal struggle. Her words were getting to him and she wondered how easily influenced he was.

“Perhaps traveling with Nate, even for a short while has… marginally influenced my thinking.” He settled on. Arthur wasn’t even sure why he was telling her the truth. Well, he did know. And it was because for some reason he felt safe with her.

“Will you return to the Brotherhood?”

Sarah laughed bitterly, “We both know what would happen if I did. It would undermine everything you’ve accomplished and I would most likely be dead in a few days. There might even be another split and the Brotherhood cannot go through that again.”

There was silence for a while and then Arthurs asked, “Do you plan to stay here in Far Harbor? With the synths?”

“Not now but later. I still need to deal with Moe.”

“Moe is dead,” Arthur informed her proudly. He felt like a cat giving a dead bird to their owner. “I killed him. Just like you showed me a long time ago. Through the kidneys.”

Sarah looked surprised and pleased. “Thank you. Though I suspect your motivation was a different one that mine.”

“He claimed that he had done something inappropriate with you.” Not entirely the truth but it was close enough.

“He never did nor did he express interest in doing so.” Sarah looked at him for a while longer than Arthur felt comfortable with. “Excuse my indelicacy, but did he do something to you?”

Maxson cleared his throat, “What do you plan to do here?”

“Arthur,” she said and Maxson felt his knees quiver with his name on her lips, “I have seen the best and worst of this world and that no matter what I know that I have a duty to help because no one else will.”

“Help me?” Arthur whispered, “Can you help me to be better? I want- I want to see the world like you do. To be by your side and help the Commonwealth.

“You’re an idiot,” Sarah replied.

Maxson swallowed, “Please? I- I want to change and be better. I’ll- I’ll even step down as Elder if that’s what it takes.”

Sarah let out a laugh and repeated, “You are an idiot.” She looked at him. “You haven’t changed at all. Even still you’re the squire I left behind aren’t you? Always trying too hard to do the right thing and you end up doing the wrong one.”

She laughed again and this time Arthur couldn’t help the small smile that escaped his lips. And then before he lost his nerve he said, “I love you.”

The former elder merely glanced over him with a small smile. “I heard you the first time.”

Arthur’s face flushed red, “I was a squire-”

“I meant over the radio.”

He looked at her shocked. “You- you were listening?”

Sarah shrugged, “I had to know what kind of a man you were outside of what I’d seen. If you were really the man who destroyed my family’s legacy.”

Arthur swallowed unable to keep the shame from simmering up.

“For the record,” Sarah continued, “I am glad that there is still part of the Arthur Maxson that I used to know. Sweet kid. Not so sweet as an adult.” She bumped his shoulder playfully, “But I know he’ll work on it. I have faith.”

Arthur’s eyes met hers and in a blind moment of overwhelming passion, he kissed her.

----

“Huh,” Nick said peering through Nate’s scope, “Can’t say I saw that one coming. I figured she was going to shoot him or vice versa.”

Nate, Danse, and Nick were watching the pair from a vantage point atop the Eden Meadows Screen. It was per Sarah’s request as she didn’t fully trust Maxson.

Danse pushed at Nick, “What’s happening?”

Nick passed the scope to Danse. “They’re kissing.”

“I don’t need to see that.” He handed it off to Nate who shrugged and peered into his scope.

Nate laughed, “Well, I’m glad it went in this direction. It could have gone so much worse.”

He pulled away. “I don’t think we’re needed here anymore. Shall we head back into town?”

“I don’t feel comfortable leaving them alone,” Danse admitted.

“They’ll be fine,” Nick said and patted him on the back, “let’s leave the lovebirds alone.”

Chapter Text

Arthur pulled away from Sarah. She hadn’t responded to his kiss and now his face was bright red with humiliation. If didn’t fuck things up before he certainly fucking things up n-

Sarah kissed him back. Her hands were rough with years of combat but they felt like the softest hands in the world as they threaded through his beard.

He sighed softly into their kiss and his hands wandered to hold her hand. It was just about the most intimate gesture that Arthur could think of. He hadn’t kissed many women- rather he actually hadn’t kissed anyone before. There were other people of all genders who were interested in Maxson and while he could admit that they were all attractive and overall nice people, none of them were Sarah. Plus, he had a reputation to uphold.

Sarah moved his hand lower to grab her waist. Arthur could feel her perfectly toned muscles. He let out an unintentional moan into her mouth. He could feel her pause and then smirk.

“Come on,” She said breaking their kiss, “Let’s go somewhere we won’t have an audience.”

Speechless, Arthur allowed for Sarah to take his hand and guide him into the projection tower. The door shut behind them and Arthur spotted sleeping bag on the floor with a skeleton nearby. It wasn’t exactly a bed, nor was it an ideal location, but it was perfect enough.

Arthur let the motions guide him as the skeleton was gently pushed aside and Sarah brought Maxson to the sleeping bag laying him on his back. His heart was now pumping wildly in his chest and he thought it might burst.

“S-Sarah wait,” he cursed his uncoordinated speech, “I-”

“We don’t have to do this,” Sarah quickly interrupted. “I just thought-”

“No!” He blurted out, “I-I want to! I really, really want to. It’s just that I-” Arthur averted his eyes, and mumbled, “I’ve never done this before.”

Sarah’s mouth opened slightly and then she gave him a soft smile. “That’s okay, you know.”

Arthur met her eyes. “I didn’t want to because no one was ever you.”

“That’s sweet,” Sarah replied but there was a twitch and a sprinkle of mirth in her eyes, “so your plan was to stay a virgin forever?”

“Bu-I- Well, I-”

Sarah’s sweet laugh cut him off. “Relax, Arthur. It’s too easy to get you worked up.” She lay by his side and let him kiss her.

Words were in short supply because Arthur let the moment happen and did whatever felt natural. As awkward a his ‘natural’ was anyway. But Sarah didn’t tease him any more than she already had.

Their kiss went from sweet and slow to hot and heavy. Arthur’s hands were wandering up and down Sarah’s sides and feeling her glorious muscles under her clothes. His next move, he deemed, would be to climb over her but she beat him to it.

Sarah straddled his waist bending over so they could continue kissing. Her hands wandered just as much as his but she seemed to favor running her fingers through his hair or his beard.

Arthur’s breath hitched and he couldn’t stop the soft whine that escaped his lips as Sarah ground her hips down on his. He bucked up before he could restrain himself. He was about to apologize for being so crass with her but Sarah repeated the motion.

Arthur had to break their kiss in order to keep his lungs filled with air. The pleasurable sensation was too much for him to handle on his own and his grabbed Sarah’s hips a little rougher than he intended to keep himself grounded. Arthur wanted more than this. There were too many clothes in the way.

He tried to form a coherent thought. “S-Sarah clothes,” he managed.

“Yeah,” Sarah agreed breathlessly. In one perfect, fluid motion, Sarah shucked her shirt and chucked it halfway across the room. Arthur struggled to do the same until Sarah intervene and discarded his shirt for him.

Their chests were flushed read and heaving up and down to keep cool air into their lungs. He could now see the full scar that peeks out from under her shirt. It stretched all the way down across her chest and stopped just under her breast.

Arthur sat up keeping Sarah in his lap. He wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her in earnest. She responded back with her own kiss once again weaving her fingers through his hair.

Arthur’s couldn’t get his hands to stop. He kept wanting to feel all of her bare skin. She was incredibly warm and her skin was so soft.

He wanted to feel her scar, well a lot more than just her scar. Arthur started by breaking their kiss to press his lips to the scar’s starting point. Sarah tensed and he was about to back off but she leaned into his mouth. Arthur licked the scar and continued to kiss all the way down until he was close to her breast.

“Just touch me already you dolt,” Sarah growled out.

Arthur felt the need to tease and restrain from touching her but that didn’t happen. He’d have plenty of time later to tease her. Right now, They were a hormone fueled mess of sweat and bodily fluids.

He reached up and massaged her soft boob hoping that he was doing alright. Arthur was rewarded with a gasp and Sarah grinding her hips down.

“Fu-” Arthur bit back a curse as he felt a coil building in his gut. “W-wait!”

Sarah paused and Arthur found that he didn’t have the strength to sit upright. His arms felt weak and he wanted to keep sitting up and holding Sarah but that wasn’t happening. Luckily, Sarah seemed to understand and so she pushed him gently until his back hit the concrete with a little more force than necessary.

“S-sorry I-” he flushed, “I didn’t want to-”

“Cum in your pants?” Sarah finished with amusement. Arthur nodded. “Then don’t,” she said. Sarah reached down and shucked his pants. His cock bounced out and lay hard against his stomach. In the moment that followed, Sarah had her pants off and those too were thrown across the room.

With touching her as the only thought in Arthur’s mind, he reached out to feel the wetness between her legs. Sarah’s reaction was magic. Her head was thrown back and she let out a breathy moan. She fell forward but caught herself on shaking arms.

For a moment their eyes met and then it was their lips. Arthur wanted to keep his hands on Sarah, to keep pleasuring her but he couldn’t do that with his hands squashed between himself and Sarah’s chests.

When they pulled away, Sarah sat up and rubbed herself against Maxson’s cock. His hips bucked upwards as delicious pleasure washed through him. Sarah felt so incredibly perfect. Better than he had ever dreamed of. And a lot better than his hand.

His breath caught and his hand flew to grab her hips. If she kept moving like that he wasn’t going to last very long.

“Is this okay?” She asked halting her movements.

“Yeah,” he croaked out, “very okay.”

Sarah smiled, “Good.” She lifted her hips high enough so she could fist his hard cock and position it at her entrance. She sank down and Arthur’s breath stopped. It was like he was being thrown off the Prydwen only to hit icy waters. He was struggling to breath but at the same time he didn’t want to keep breathing. The feeling of Sarah was just too amazing and he never wanted that feeling to go away.

“You okay?” Sarah sounded just as breathless as Arthur felt. He could only nod his response. Arthur decided that if he could choose the way he was going to die, this would be it.

“G-good,” he choked out, “f-feels so good.”

Sarah’s laugh was beautiful. And it was a different laugh than he’d ever heard. It wasn’t a teasing or mocking laugh- the one she did good naturedly, and it wasn’t the one she used when she had been at the Citadel and drank with the Pride. This was an entirely new laugh. One that seemed weightless and… happy. Arthur didn’t think it was possible to fall even more in love with her- but he did.

Sarah rolled her hips causing them both to gasp. “Make me feel alive again,” she whispered as she leaned down to speak in his head.

Arthur felt a shiver shoot through him and he nodded eagerly. He grounded himself and thrust his hips upwards. They cried out in sync and- Arthur came embarrassingly fast.

He shot his warm load inside her filling her up. “F-fuck,” he gasped and tried to withdraw. He was horrified that he’s come so fast and that he came inside her.

Sarah pinned Arthur down. “Don’t you dare pull out.”

He gave a jerky nod and then let out an embarrassing whine as Sarah rode him in earnest. Their hands were woven together and Arthur was making sounds he didn’t realize he was capable of. Obscene noises from their fucking and Arthur’s cum leaking out was just about the bes/worst noise in the world.

And it wasn’t long after that Sarah came with a cry. Their hands gripping each other until their skin turned as white as a synth. Sarah’s legs were shaking and twitching. There was no strength in her and she collapsed atop Arthur.

Arthur wrapped his arms around her to bring her closer. Their chests pressed together and Sarah’s arms were barely a support anymore. Sarah’s mouth found his and they kissed until they were dizzy.

They eventually had to part for air and Arthur was gasping. This type of breathless was ten thousand times better than any training exercise. “Sarah, I love you,” he whispered.

Sarah looked guilty and now it was her turn to be at a loss for words. “Arthur, I-”

“I know,” he said, “it’s okay if you can’t say it back to me. I just wanted you to know how I feel.”

She nodded, “It’s not that I don’t want to. I’m just not there yet. Give me time.”

“You can have all the time in the world.”

Sarah smiled and rolled off of him and lay by his side. Her arm was draped over his chest and her head nuzzled her his chin. Arthur had both arms around her wanting to sleep but worried that she would be gone by the morning.

“Relax,” she murmured, “I saw a couple frag mines by the door. We’ll be okay.”

Arthur wanted to correct her but he was too tired to say anything. Instead, he pulled her tighter and let sleep take him.

----

Sarah was there to send them off back to the Commonwealth. She and Arthur had arrived in Far Harbor a little late into the morning after having slept in after their previous night’s activities. Nate, Nick, and Danse were waiting patiently for them and to Arthur’s relief no one said anything about him not returning to the room.

Arthur was disappointed and a bit melancholy about having to leave Sarah on the island. But duty called and he had already ‘slacked off’ for a week. It was time to head back and reassume his duties as Elder of the Brotherhood. A bit differently this time. As much as Arthur knew he was going to miss Sarah, at least this time, he knew where to find her.

“I’ll come back,” he promised her as they were able to get a moment alone. By moment, it was actually only a few feet from Nate, Nick, and Danse.

Sarah smiled, “I know you will Arthur Maxson. Now go and be the Elder that I know you are.”

Arthur stole a kiss from her. “I love you.”

They parted ways and Arthur boarded the boat with the others.

“So,” Nick said with a hint of snark, “when is the wedding?”

Chapter Text

<Log in: PROCTOR QUINLAN>

<Password: ********>

<ACCEPTED>

<Begin Terminal Entry>

----

It’s been a year since Elder Maxson and Paladin Nate disappeared on their mysterious mission. According to the Elder and Paladin, it was an experimental mission designed to further the Brotherhood’s influence to the island of Far Harbor.

Elder Maxson decided that it would be best to start small and let the influence spread from there. Paladin Nate seemed to agree because as the General of the Commonwealth’s Minutemen (a position we all previously and simultaneously disapproved of- focus should have been one hundred percent dedicated to the Brotherhood) he started off with one settlement and have since then build the militia to be just that, a militia.

Official records state that the Brotherhood has an ally, a liaison, in Far Harbor. However, this Liaison is unnamed. Elder Maxson and Paladin Nate are determined to keep it that way. Perhaps it is a former Brotherhood member who still has loyalties.

On the topic of Brotherhood loyalties, Paladin Nate had supplied me with a myriad of technical documents from a group of former Outcast members who were gathering to try and overthrow the Brotherhood and regain power. Curious that this all happened at the same time. But I have no complaints. I shall be up to my neck in research and that I how I prefer it.

Returning to the subject at hand. I do not quite understand why Elder Maxson insists on traveling to and from Far Harbor. The people there do not need to see him in order to know the influence of the Brotherhood. But, the Elder goes anyway. I think it has something to do with Paladin Nate’s influences. He is a good General and I think the Elder tries to emulate some of his leadership styles.

So far, I do believe it is working. Farmers in Far Harbor seem more willing to supply the Brotherhood with resources and in return, Paladin Nate runs simple missions for them. It is an arrangement that has Proctor Teagan steaming. If it were up to him, we would be seizing control of the farms and demanding tribute. Payment for all of our services.

Since the Brotherhood’s union with Far Harbor, there has been a change in Elder Maxson. While he still upholds our ideals there is a small spark of a Lyons in him. His small change in openness to new ideas about the betterment of the Commonwealth are reminiscent of the later Owyn and Sarah Lyons. He does not go quite as far as Project Purity or sympathizing with non-human filth, but something brews underneath. I think if Elder Maxson continues on this path and does not stray from the Brotherhood’s ideals like the Lyons did, then might be the strongest Elder the Brotherhood will ever have.

And if not, then something will have to be done. There are contingencies for things like this. Let us hope it does not come to that.

<Terminal Entry Completed>

<Proctor Quinlan, Logged Off>