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“Don’t Move”

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After everything that had happened with Danse and Maxson, Nate knew that he’d never be able to support the Brotherhood of Steel in any way, shape, or form ever again. He had never really believed in the same values, but for a while he had gotten sucked into what seemed like an unstoppable mission, and with their resources and technology it seemed as though they were his only ticket into the Institute. Even when he realized that the Railroad had some undiscovered talent in Tinker Tom, it felt as though he was in too deep with the Brotherhood to back out now.


And then Maxson had ordered Danse’s execution for being a synth. When he and Deacon caught up to Danse at Listening Post Bravo, it was the first time Nate had seen the Paladin without his power armour in at least the near vicinity. Danse had been sitting at a console with a gun in hand, but he looked like he was more likely to use it on himself than Nate or Deacon. It had taken some cajoling from the both of them to convince Danse that he still had a life worth living, but they managed to get him out of his funk and even helped him decide to leave the Commonwealth. As much as it pained Nate to see him be forced out into the world on his own after losing everything, it would be for the best if Danse never came across Maxson or any of his goons again.


So, naturally, a furious Maxson awaited them outside the post. Nate nearly had to physically stop Danse from throwing himself on his proverbial sword, and it had taken some arguing that had escalated into a shouting match with Maxson, but in the end Maxson had left in a huff and Danse had remained alive, although exiled and reported dead to the Brotherhood and the life he had had before. While grateful to be alive, he had been gloomy about his future, but brightened a bit when Nate promised to be back for him.


After that, Nate had gone directly to the Railroad with Deacon, ready to grovel before Des in an effort to get her to help him with finishing off the Institute once and for all. He knew Maxson would not be happy about any of it, but hopefully he wouldn’t realize what Nate had done until it was too late.


While she hadn’t been impressed to see him come crawling back, Des had eventually caved and agreed to the job, with the condition that he help free the synths that lived within the Institute as little more than slaves.


It was a relief to be able to come to an agreement, Nate found. He felt better about that decision than any he had made while with the Brotherhood. Now, it was time to get back to Sanctuary to prepare himself for what was to come next.



“If you need to stick around here to help, I don’t mind.” Nate told Deacon as they stood in the back room of the church, double checking that his thigh holster was secure and 10mm loaded. “I just need to restock and let everyone at home know what’s going on.”


“Like I’m going to let the famous Sole Survivor go off on his own right before the big mission.” Deacon scoffed. “And besides that, MacCready would kill me if you rolled back in alone.”


“MacCready knows—” Nate started, but Deacon clapped his hands on both of his shoulders and let his sunglasses slide down his nose enough to make eye contact.


“He cornered me.” Deacon shook Nate’s shoulders for emphasis. “He threatened me. I believe him.”


“Of course he did.” Nate sighed. “Alright, lets go.”


As soon as Nate stepped foot outside the door of the Old North Church, he knew something was up, although there didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary.


“Does it seem quiet to you—” Nate was interrupted by gunfire and something tore through him, and he immediately collapsed on the steps.


Nate didn’t even have time to figure out what had happened, Deacon acted so quickly. It hurt when he grabbed him and dragged him back inside, but bullets were hailing down around them so he understood, mostly. Deacon was yelling into the church, things that didn’t quite make sense so must be Railroad code, but Nate was more distracted by the pain that was beginning to radiate from his torso. He lifted his head to look down at himself and pressed his shaking hand against one of the warm, wet patches that he found on the front of his jacket, and nearly screamed when Deacon did the same but with much more pressure. Nate tried to squirm out from under his hands, but it hurt so much and his legs were tingling, the feeling of numbness spreading and getting more intense.


“Don’t move.” Deacon ordered, sounding more grim than Nate could ever remember hearing from him. He tried to listen, to do as he was told, but it was difficult to keep himself from writhing, shuddering in pain. “Just, don’t move.”


Thundering footsteps as Railroad agents flooded into the church entrance, and Deacon turned his head to yell over his shoulder for Carrington. There was chaos as the agents worked to get out the door to push back whoever had been waiting in ambush outside, but Nate still couldn’t make sense of anything that was being said.


“Deac—” Nate tried to speak, but it was hard to get the air needed. He wasn’t sure how many bullets he had taken, but it felt like a lot. His shirt under his jacket was quickly reaching ‘sodden’ status against his skin. Another ripple of pain passed through him, making him shudder.


“I said don’t move. Don’t even try to talk. Just hang on, buddy.”


Nate could understand the sense in what Deacon was saying, but it was quickly becoming difficult to breathe and the numbness just kept spreading and getting worse, a horrible static that was overwhelming and nearly painful in and of itself. Deacon shifted and moved his hands before pressing down again, and Nate couldn’t helped the strangled cry that escaped him as he clutched at Deacon’s arm. His own breathing was loud in his ears, pained wheezes that were becoming more difficult far too quickly.


“Hey, look, I know you’re scared, but I gotcha.” Deacon managed to be alarmingly close to mind reading as he leaned over Nate, then turned to yell over his shoulder again. “Carrington! Would you hurry up!


The Railroad doctor came running into the room, already rifling through his bag almost before it settled on the floor where he had dropped it before quickly slicing Nate’s jacket and shirt open. Nate shivered as the cool air reached his skin, and Deacon took the scissors from Carrington to finish cutting the sleeves to completely free him from the material. Nate felt a ridiculous pang at that, but dammit, he had liked that jacket.


“Move your feet.” Carrington suddenly ordered. Nate frowned, confused, but Carrington snapped again. “Move your feet!


Considering how numb his legs and feet felt, it took effort to even move his toes, but he managed to move them a bit, although it sent pain rippling up his spine, making him cringe. Deacon looked relieved but Carrington’s thundercloud expression didn’t seem to change at all.


“Help me move him, carefully! I need to check for exit wounds.” Carrington ordered, and Nate nearly screamed again as they carefully rolled him onto his side.


“One less exit than entries.” Deacon said to Carrington as they rolled him back.


“I see that.” Carrington said shortly, rummaging through his bag again. “Get the med-x.”


The pain of his injuries was bad enough that Nate didn’t notice the pinch in his forearm until he felt the cold spread in his veins. He managed to catch Deacon’s arm before he moved away.


“Deac—” His breath caught again, and he grimaced as another wave of pain rolled through him. “Tell— Tell RJ—”


“Oh, no, no no, you are telling him yourself.” Deacon immediately said. “Just, save your breath, okay? You’re gonna be fine.”


Carrington did something that made Nate’s muscles seize and his back arch off the floor, the pain near blinding. He distantly heard shouting above him and felt strong hands holding him down, pinning him in place while agony burned like a bonfire in his core. The scream he could hear died when his lungs burned for air, and he realized it had been him.


“We need to leave, now!” Glory was yelling somewhere nearby, and he could hear the boom of missiles going off and the rapid staccato of automatic rifles being fired.


“He is in no state to be moved!” Carrington shouted, but Deacon and Glory were already sliding arms under Nate’s knees and shoulders, preparing to lift him from each side.


“If we stay here he won’t have any state left to worry about!” Glory still had to raise her voice over the gunfire. “Back through the tunnels! Go, go!”


Being lifted forced a pained wheeze from Nate, and he clutched at their jackets in an attempt to anchor himself as they hurried him further into the church and down the stairs. As they passed through the catacombs towards the secret Railroad entrance he considered asking them to leave him there, in a distant, slightly hysterical way. He knew Deacon wouldn’t go for it, but Glory might. Glory was practical.


His legs had also settled into the numbness that had been spreading earlier, a numbness so complete he couldn’t even feel where Deacon and Glory gripped him behind his knees as they burst into the Hub. Nate was no doctor, but even he knew that was never a good sign.


The central hub was in chaos as agents packed what they could and bolted out the back tunnels, Des overseeing it all with P.A.M. at her side. Deacon and Glory set Nate down on the top of one of the concrete tombs, and despite how carefully they did it he couldn’t stop a shuddering whimper, his middle wracked with pain.


Shit.” Des strode over while Carrington resumed poking and prodding Nate. “How bad is it?”


“Just— just leave me.” Nate managed to muster up enough strength to grit out. “You guys— need to— get out of here.”


Deacon gestured with both hands at Nate in a clear ‘see for yourself’ gesture.


“He needs treatment and possibly surgery and not be thrown about like a rag doll!” Carrington huffed without looking up from where he was injecting another syringe into Nate’s arm.


“The Brotherhood isn’t exactly giving us any options here.” Des said grimly.


“Wait, what?” Deacon sputtered. “That’s the Brotherhood of Steel out there? Already? What are we still doing here?!”


We are the only ones still here, Deacon.” Des snapped. “And this is all thanks to the two of you, I’ll have you know.”


Deacon winced at that. Nate shivered where he lay, barely conscious as a chemical fog finally began to descend on his brain. He managed to snag Deacon’s hand, grabbing the Railroad agent’s attention.


“Seriously,” Nate rasped, unable to do more than whisper. “leave me. It’s me— they want. They’ll stop.”


“Not sure that’s the case this time, Charmer.”


The hub shook and bits of concrete and pebbles rained down from above and the lights flickered ominously. The Brotherhood of Steel was already at their door and attempting to bring it down. Nate felt Deacon’s grip tighten on his hand, but everything was going dark as he felt himself slipping from consciousness.


“It’s okay,” Nate tried to say, but wasn’t sure if anyone could hear him anymore, “leave me. It’s okay.”


He thought he saw Deacon leaning over him, his mouth moving like he was shouting something as the lights flickered again behind him, but before Nate could understand what was happening everything went silent and dark.




MacCready strode into Bunker Hill with his rifle in his arms and a thunder cloud for an expression. Preston trailed him, although with much more trepidation in his step. The market was even more abuzz than usual as MacCready stormed through, thanks to the Railroad being without a safe base yet again, and the Railroad agents he recognized lingering about either went still and silent or fled when they saw them coming. He didn’t slow his step until he reached the central courtyard where he knew Des would be, not caring if Preston kept up or not.


Deacon was leaning against a wall, arms folded and his expression gloomy, but he stood up quickly when he saw MacCready walk in.


“Whoa, whoa, hey, Mac,” Deacon started, but MacCready was already closing in on Des. Two Railroad agents intercepted him before he could reach her.


“Where is he?” MacCready’s voice was low and even, but his anger was nearly palpable.


“Mac, seriously, let’s just take a mo—” Deacon got within arm’s reach and MacCready grabbed a fistful of his t-shirt.


“Where is he?!” MacCready nearly shouted, and Deacon realized the sniper was trembling, from anger or fear or possibly a combination of the two. Deacon put a hand on MacCready’s shoulder and exchanged a look with Des, and the Railroad leader stepped forward after squaring her shoulders.


“I’m sorry, but Agent Charmer was badly injured when the Brotherhood of Steel attacked.” Des started. “We did everything we could, but he succumbed to his injuries during our—”


“No,” MacCready said, his voice breaking on the single word, “no, he wouldn’t— He can’t—”


Deacon shooed the agents that had stepped in to crowd MacCready away. MacCready shoved at Deacon’s shoulder, but there wasn’t much strength behind it.


“I’m sorry, Mac.” Deacon said, strangely gently. “He’s gone. I’m sorry.”


MacCready’s legs gave out and he crumpled to his knees, face buried in his hands. Preston came to crouch beside him, putting a comforting hand on his shaking shoulders. The Minuteman looked weary and resigned, no stranger to losing friends and loved ones to the harsh realities of the Commonwealth.


Glory murmured something to Drummer Boy, and Des shot them a warning look. Taking it as a signal, Glory ushered the other Railroad agents out of the area, leaving the unlikely group to mourn the loss of the one that had brought them together.




They were nearly to the river, almost to Oberland Station before MacCready blinked and looked around, taking in his surroundings properly for the first time since leaving Bunker Hill. He frowned in annoyance; more at himself rather than Preston for not noticing earlier that they hadn’t taken a more direct route back to Sanctuary. He just wanted to be home, to see Duncan and hug him tightly. And yet— and the thought made his next step falter— it also meant breaking the news to Duncan, and everyone else waiting in Sanctuary. MacCready wasn’t sure if he was capable of putting it into words yet.


“Got a message from the settlers here to stop by for an update.” Preston said without any prompting, apparently having noticed that MacCready had at least momentarily snapped out of the fog he’d been lost in. “Shouldn’t take long.”


MacCready frowned again. When had such a message come in?


“C’mon.” Preston didn’t give him any time to question it and left the tracks to head down the hill to the small settlement. MacCready hesitated, looking further down the tracks toward Sanctuary, then followed Preston, albeit more slowly.


Carrie, the settlement’s leader waved at Preston and gestured towards the tall, white building that was currently their lookout tower. Preston immediately changed his course and climbed the stairs, and MacCready reluctantly followed.


Once up top, the settler on guard duty kicked the sleeping off the hatch in the floor and opened it to let them down into the secret bunker that MacCready had never seen before. Likely a project that Nate and the Minutemen had worked on, a place for storing the settlement’s food and a place of safety for settlers in the event of an attack.


Preston was already talking to someone as MacCready made his way down the ladder, and he recognized Dr Carrington’s voice when he responded.


A sudden, wild hope suddenly rushed through MacCready, hard enough it made him lightheaded. He had to pause at the bottom of the ladder and swallowed hard while shoving that hope down before turning.


Preston was covering his mouth with one hand, his eyes glinting wetly in the lantern light that lit the small bunker. Carrington was looking at MacCready with something that looked strangely like sympathy, and behind him was a mattress on the floor with somebody laying on it under a blanket.


“Des sends her apologies.” Carrington told them. “The Brotherhood have been watching us, trying to confirm their ‘kill’. We all agreed it would be best to let them think they had succeeded, for now at least.”


“Nate’s alive, MacCready.” Preston said.


MacCready stumbled over to the mattress and dropped to his knees. Nate looked terrible, his face ashen and still, but when MacCready leaned over him to touch him with shaking hands, he found a pulse that thrummed beneath his fingers.




Nate breathed in deeply and grimaced at the twinge in his chest from that movement. He was comfortable, at the moment, but he could distantly feel aches and pains that would likely become more prominent as the weight of sleep fell from him.


“Finally awake?”


Nate flinched at the voice, and opened his eyes to see Dr Carrington sitting beside him.


“I… think so?” Nate finally rasped after a moment, still blinking groggily, then, “I thought I told you to leave me.”


“You what?!


Nate flinched again and turned his head a little further to see MacCready stepping off the bottom rung of a ladder, glowering at him, with Deacon not far behind on the ladder.


“Ah, shit.” Nate said blearily.


“How many times do I have to tell you?” MacCready took the seat that Carrington evacuated beside him with a huff, looking annoyed.


“Self sacrifice: bad.” Nate recited dutifully, fumbling to get his hand out from under the blanket. “Sorry. I really did think it would help.”


“They told me you were dead.” MacCready told him. His grip on Nate’s hand was tight.


“Eehhh?!” Nate craned his neck to squint up at him


“In our defence, we needed the Brotherhood to think you were dead.” Deacon said. “I tried to tell the others we could trust Mac to get the acting right but no one wanted to risk it.”


“Likely story.” MacCready shot back.


“Deac, you got a little…” Nate motioned at his own eye, finally noticing that the Railroad agent had an impressive black eye.


“Yeah, I had it coming.” Deacon said a bit sheepishly. A muscle in MacCready’s jaw twitched but he didn’t say anything.


“Uh huh.” Nate said with some skepticism.


“Are you feeling okay? You look tired. And you’re still pale.” MacCready checked Nate’s forehead and tucked his arm back under the blanket.


“I’m fine.” Nate shrugged and grimaced at the twinge of pain in his torso.


“How do your legs feel?”


Nate frowned in confusion at that, but wiggled his toes and shifted each leg without issues. The numbness had disappeared.




“Good. That’s good.” MacCready and Deacon both looked relieved.


“Alright, it’s time to leave my patient alone.” Carrington announced, already shooing Deacon towards the ladder. Both MacCready and Nate tensed, and Carrington rolled his eyes. “Fine. you can stay, but you will sleep.”


“Yes, mom.” Nate said, relaxing as MacCready made himself more comfortable on the chair nearby. He did feel like he could sleep, and wasn’t going to argue about it.


“I gotta head back to Bunker Hill again, so I’ll see ya. And no offence, wouldn’t wanna be ya.” Deacon gave a salute, already on his way up the ladder, and disappeared outside. Nate turned to look at MacCready questioningly.


“Don’t worry about it for now.” MacCready pulled the blanket up to Nate’s chin and placed his hand over his eyes. “Go to sleep. Doctor’s orders.”


“You’re just trying to stay on Carrington’s good side.” Nate said muzzily.


“Yep. Go to sleep.”


“Okay.” Nate let himself sink into the comfort of the bed, already feeling half asleep. He roused before he could fall completely asleep, something coming to mind that felt important. “Wait, I have a question.”


“What is it?”


“Where are we?”


“Just… just go to sleep, Nate.” MacCready rubbed his forehead. “I’ll be here when you wake up.”