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To Touch and Be Touched

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Prologue

They are exhausted, running on fumes and relief. There is so much work to still be done, but right now they can barely keep standing. One of the first things they did was rid the Vault of its door, and as they step back inside it, free now, a weight has been lifted from their chests. It's no longer suffocating, and a cool breeze comes in, wrapping around their ankles as they stagger towards their bedroom. Capable takes one look at the separate beds and immediately starts to drag their mattresses together. They had to leave Angharad with the Organic Mechanic, with several promises from Furiosa that she wouldn't leave their sister's side. None of them wanted to be apart from one another. Settling down into blankets and pillows felt unreal, like somehow they were still on the Fury Road, speeding away from a fate they couldn't outrun.

The Dag hears the footsteps first, and then the tentative knock. At the light rap of knuckles on stone, Toast bolts up, dislodging Cheedo from her stomach, and glares hard at the intruder.

"Just me shinies, Furiosa sent me to make sure you were alright. Wanted to make sure you didn't need nothing," Nux says, palms splayed out in front of him. He keeps his eyes down, and waits for them to speak. His feet ache, and there's a pulsing soreness in his shoulders that's making his head pound something fierce. If he closes his eyes for just a second or two longer than needed, no one could fault him.

Toast shares a knowing look with Dag, and when her eyes find Capable's, there's a quiet pleading there that doesn't need words. A quick glance with Cheedo, along with a nod, cements their decision.

"War Boy, come here, you're half asleep where you stand," Toast beckons him to them with an outstretched hand. He puts his hand lightly in hers, waiting for her to tell him what she needs when she pulls him, strength still in her delicate arm, and he's so tired, he stumbles into their nest, all legs and lanky arms.

"What, no, I shouldn't stay here, not with the shinies, no, not right," he tries to protest. They all start talking at once, their voices overlapping.

"We need someone to stay in case the monster under the bed comes to get us," the Dag whispers, only half joking.

"You'll keep us safe, and we'll keep you safe," Capable says.

"You weren't afraid to die historic on the Fury Road, but this has you scared?" Toast asks.

And then one voice cuts through them, clear and sweet, and Nux could never say no to a voice so chrome.

"Please Nux, we've been scared for so long, won't you stay?" Cheedo pleads with large brown eyes.

The fight goes out of him, and he lets them arrange the blankets and pillows around him, caging him in a tangle of arms and legs, all of them curled onto him. They've wrapped him so securely that their skin doesn't touch his, and he knows why, why they've done this, and it burns like guzzoline in his mouth so he lets them. He doesn't know how he's going to manage sleep like this, afraid to move, doesn't want to startle them, but their soft breaths start to lull him, and he nods off before he realizes what's happening.

He wakes up to Furiosa's amused eyes, and at the quirk of a corner of her mouth, he flushes in embarrassment. But Furiosa puts up her hand, stops him from moving, and then she leaves. And just like that, Nux feels all of the responsibility of being trusted, of being reliable. It's almost too much to think about, so he nestles in a little, feels them rearrange slightly, and goes back to sleep.

Chapter Text

Angharad reaches out a hand and then stops, her fingers in midair, hovering over Nux's chest. He's stilled, like he does whenever any of them get too close, and she searches his eyes.

"Can I?"

He puts down the scrap of metal he had been contemplating and tilts his head. She had sought him out, going through the tunnels of the garage until she found him, even though he knows she's still hurt, still sore. Whatever she was hoping to find in him was important enough to put herself in pain.

"What's this about, Shiny?"

Angharad hears the capital 'S' that he started using when addressing them. No longer the Wives, they had yet to come up with a better alternative, and many of the War Boys had adopted Nux's name for them.

"Who made these marks for you?"

"One of the Skin Artists, though most of them are dead now." He watches her sigh, and she's so close, her breath ghosts over his skin.

"Are all of them of car parts? Or do War Boys get other things seared in as well?" She stares intently at the engine on his torso. Luckily Nux has gotten used to being stared at and fussed over, as the Shinies tend to do it often.

"Skulls mostly if not cars, and flames."

"Ratch has flappy things on his ribs. Designed and branded them himself," a War Boy says as he slides out from under a car to their right. Most War Boys were too scared to talk to them unless they were helping. Capable had been down in their barracks trying to form better relationships with them, but it was slow going, even with Nux's help.

"Flappy things?" Angharad watches as he puts his hands together, and moves them up and down imitating flying. "Birds. Do you think he'd mind showing me?"

"I'll get him Shiny, right away," he darts off before she can tell him it's okay if Ratch says no.

Ratch is a tall War Boy, older than most of them with staples across his chest.

"Need me for something," he asks, his voice gravely and deep.

"Can I look at your markings?"

"Why, thinking about getting some of your own Shiny?" He all but sneers at her. Nux steps in front of her, makes as if to shield her but she holds up her hand.

"Yes."

His eyebrows dart up towards his hairline, and he frowns.

"It's painful, and the blood, no, Angharad, you shouldn't," Nux warns. He's trying to protect her, she knows, but she needs this.

"He's right, wouldn't do to mark one so chrome as you," Ratch agrees. She turns and moves her hair aside.

"Not all marks were done by choice, I want to be rid of it, and can't think of any other way, short of slicing it off." She looks at him over her shoulder with anger in her eyes.

"What would you make out of that?"

She pulls a piece of linen out of her a pocket in her skirt and hands it to him. His frown deepens.

"What are these?"

"Flowers. The shapes match, and I thought I'd get a cluster of three. These two," she points, not noticing how stiff he's gone with her so close, "aren't real flowers. But this middle one is a sunflower."

"It's doable. Could make two brands, but it's gonna burn Shiny. It won't be pleasant." He hands her the scrap back, and holds his breath as her fingers slide against his.

"I know."

A week later, Angharad is on her stomach with an audience of War Pups and Boys surrounding her. By now they've all heard about Ratch's project and many of them have taken bets that she'll pass out. Nux is pacing in front of her, making quick turns. She reaches and grabs his hand in hers. He kneels next to her, clasping her hand in both of his.

"All right Shiny, let's see what kind of tough you're made out of," Ratch puts one hand on her shoulder, steadying her.

The sound of her skin sizzling is almost worse than the pain, she gasps at the first touch of it, then grits her teeth and holds her whimpers back. She's silent through the second one, as is her audience. The only sound is Ratch as he counts the seconds of it searing into her neck and shoulder. She lifts her eyes to meet those around her during the last one, daring them to call her weak, to poke fun at what's she's chosen to mark herself with, but is met with quiet admiration. A trickle of blood slips down her neck.

"That's it, you did good Shiny, very good," Ratch praises her. "Thought you'd gone to sleep you were so quiet. Most boys at least groan through it."

Nux helps her up, she's unsteady, adrenaline coursing through her. It's finally over, she thinks, the mark is gone. As they walk back to the Vault, many of the War Boys hand Nux bits of metal that he easily pockets.

"What's that about," she asks, still holding his right hand.

"Ah, when they were placing bets against you, I was one of the only ones who bet for you," he shrugs.

"For me?"

"I've known you were strong Shiny. Now they know too."

Before he can react, she's pressing her lips to his cheek, a quick dart of affection, and then she's pulling him along. He's glad she's in front of him, so she can't see the blush that's no doubt made it to the tips of his ears. To the Shinies, affection is trust, and he hopes he can live up to the promise it comes with.

Chapter Text

Capable digs her shovel into the red clay alongside a bevy of War Boys and Pups all tilling the earth. The Dag has them digging in different spots, trying to find the best place to start farming with the Wretched. When they found the red clay, now moist from the water, Capable instantly knew what to do with it. It was hard work shoveling the clay into barrels for them to use, but it was better to see them red than corpse white.

It's a hotter than usual day, sweat trickles down her back. She wipes at her forehead, smudging clay on it from her now stained hands. A giggle startles her out of driving the shovel into the clay. She looks around to see a War Pup smiling at her. She knows he's laughing at the mess on her forehead.

"What, is there something on my face?" She purposefully touches her cheeks, and nose, spreading the clay with her fingers. His laughter is infectious, and many of the other little ones take up his giggles. She leans down and scoops a small handful of it, makes sure she has his attention, and lobs it at one of his littermates. A surprised 'oof!' escapes the child as the splat paints him red across his back. She grins back, wide and playful, leaning down to scoop another handful.

"Oi, now don't get them started cuz-," a War Boy tries to warn her but the next lob of clay hits him on the shoulder and gets a bit of it in his mouth. He splutters and tosses down his shovel to scoop a bunch up in retaliation.

Capable throws another one as red splatters up her leg, the feeling of it making her yelp. She dodges one by using a War Boy as a shield before softly tackling one of the Pups. She laughs at his squeal, happiness swelling in her ribcage. He gets up and uses the same tackle on another Pup, and before she knows it, red clay is flying through the air all around her, but so are the sounds of play and delight.

Nux pushes a car off the platform with the help of three other War Boys. Bolt is in the drivers seat, tapping at the wheel impatiently.

"Go easy now or you'll make the problem worse ya hear?" Nux instructs. They've been working on Bolt's car for days, but it still rattles when it drives. He's hoping that a quick drive around the Citadel will reveal the problem but he's not optimistic. It just may need to be stripped down again and rebuilt. He's about to tell Bolt to not hit the brakes hard when a shriek stops him cold.

He sprints towards Capable's voice, though it's muffled within the chaos that unfolds before his eyes, War Boys and Pups lodging bits of moist clay at each other, all of them stained reddish-orange. In the mix Capable is running with a clay ball in her hand, but is picked up beneath the arm pits by a War Boy and lifted into the air, fear clogs his throat he's too far away to yell for her, and is set down in the slush gently, almost reverently. She twists in the mud and gets up, and in a movement he would've said was impossible for someone as gentle as Capable, uses the momentum of a War Boy that's running, to toss him effectively down, just like she had been moments before, though hers is not as gentle. They're teaching her, he thinks, stunned, but not how they were taught. They were taught with pain and fury, not with patience or softness. He watches Capable wrestle a Pup down from behind, and then that Pup does the same to another. They already know this, but she's teaching them to do it in a way that's not full of hurt. In return, he sees the War Boys handle her the same.

He's made sure to have many, many, extensive talks with the War Boys about touching the Shinies, about awareness of their bodies when the Shinies are around. He's never seen any of them touched this much, yet the smile on Capable's face tells him she's okay with it. It wrings his heart in a completely different way than the pulse pounding fear he had just felt. He's close enough now that she notices him, and he wonders if she can see the previous terror that makes his heart pound.

"Nux!" She exclaims as she's helped out of the muck by a Pup. She looks like a complete mess, her hair is matted down and chunks of clay are stuck to her stomach, her arms, but her eyes are bright.

"Who started this?" He tuts at her and wipes clay away from her eyes. He smothers a snort when he notices that everyone is pointing at Capable.

"One thing lead to another, and well," she looks down bashful. He should've known it was a pretense, Capable has never been one to be shy. She wipes both hands down his chest, smearing red down clean pink skin.

He stops breathing because, her hands are still on his chest and she's smiling at him and getting closer and he makes a small noise that he's sure to be embarrassed about later. He lets one of his hands go to cup the back of her head as she kisses him deeper. Someone clears their throat in the background, and someone else whistles, but it doesn't stop Capable from running a hand up the back of his neck that sends shivers down his spine. She pulls back, gives his chest one last pat with her red hands, and goes back to pick up a shovel. Playtime effectively over.

Nux makes it back in time to see Bolt pull up. The grimace on his face means they'll have to strip it down again. Bolt looks him up and down, confusion plain in his scarred face. Nux looks down and sees the smears. It looks like war paint but flame red, like her hair. He can still feel her hands on his chest, and is glad for the clay on his neck. Hopefully it'll cover the burgeoning flush.

Affection is trust. Trust is reliability. He wonders what kisses mean.

Chapter Text

Toast runs in the morning. Before the sun has a chance to bake the ground, she wraps the newly dyed red linen securely around her and heads for the ground. She has a routine, one that some of the War Boys have memorized. They fall in line behind her, as long as they stay silent, she doesn't mind them. The Dag calls them her ducks, the way they follow her as she runs circles around the Citadel. She's restless, still not comfortable with her freedom, with her body, so she runs. And the War Boys run with her, to keep in shape, or for their own reasons of uneasiness, she hasn't asked. She knows some of their names, Issot, Wess, Emod, Jure. Knows that if she runs more than six laps, Lem starts slowing down and favoring his left leg. She rarely does more than six.

After her run she heads for the communal showers. The Vault's stone bath is too far after running, and she hates the sticky feel of sand and sweat. There'd been outrage the first time she had gotten under one of the shower heads. The War Boys protested but she had cursed them out quite inventively, and stunned them all into forgetting their original complaints. As long as she doesn't completely disrobe, they keep their comments to themselves.

Next is a trip to the garages, where she once again tries to get Yep, one of the Citadel's newly appointed patrolmen, to take her out on patrol. She calls it persuading, Yep sees it as badgering.

"You don't even know how to drive, Shiny. If your driver were to die you'd be stuck out there in the waste," he grumbles. He's lifting a new windshield into a car with another War Boy. She watches one of his scars disappear in the bunch of muscle of his back.

"So teach me to drive," she insists. He sighs as the glass fits into place.

"You'd need a car for that first. You expect to drive but don't know how to build a car?"

"Is that what the War Pups learn first? How to build a car?"

"Yes, but-"

"Teach me. I'm a quick study I promise."

"Alright, alright. Tomorrow, after your run, come here. We don't have enough parts right now for a full car, but you can help me with repairs on the other ones. It'll teach you what to do with yours when the time comes."

Toast is grinning ear to ear when she reaches the Vault.

"What's got you in such a good mood?" Angharad asks. She's sewing strange shaped cushions that Toast wants to ask about but she's too full of excitement to be curious.

"Yep's gonna teach me how to build a car, and if I do well, he's gonna teach me to drive."

"I'm glad for you, you should take Cheedo with you when you go."

"Cheedo wants to learn how to drive?" Toast can't keep the incredulity out of her tone. Angharad shakes her head.

"Not drive, but she was saying something about being able to repair an engine. I think she just wants to be useful. She hasn't quite found her niche yet." Angharad pins her with a look that no longer seems like a request.

"Alright I'll grab her when I go, not like Yep can argue any more than he already has."

"Shiny!" Nux calls as enters the Vault. "Come with me," he waves at Toast to follow him.

"What is it?" She trails after him through the tunnels and down into the supply caves.

"Have something for you, made it special when you started running." He opens a metal locker and takes out a parcel of clothes. "Here, can't go around fixing cars in that," he gestures to her linen wrap.

She unwraps a pair of black pants, supply belt, regular belt, and a length of linen dyed black.

"Had to guess at your size. Made a couple of of the Boys try it on that look to be about the same. We wear black so we can be identified upon sight. And because grease stains blend in so you can wipe your hands on them. And clay," he hands her a tin, "to keep from burning in the sun while we work. Red, now that Capable's in charge."

"How'd ya know? That I'd need these?"

He grins at her.

"You might've been a Wife, but you have a War Boy's spirit. Fierce. Restless. Need to be occupied. It was only a matter of time 'fore you wore down ol Yep."

"Think you can teach me to drive once I've made my own car?"

His heart does a weird thing in his chest, and for a moment he worries he'll need to see the Organic before the day is over.

"Me, Shiny?" It's possible he hears her wrong, what with his heart skipping beats and all.

"Well, duh. Way I hear it, you're the best driver, and who better to learn from than the best." She winks at him then walks out.

Toast doesn't do touching unless it's to help someone, but the request she makes feels more intimate than anything physical. It's what Capable was always telling him, about how some things mean more. This was one of those things. This feels like that first night, when she reached out to him, except this time, she's hoping he'll pull her up. Not all trust is done by touch, he's learning, at least not where Toast is concerned.

Each Shiny trusts him differently, but it feels the same to Nux.

Chapter Text

The Dag is undeniably exhausted. She hates it, the soreness in her back, the ache in her arms, the tension at her temples. She especially dislikes the full body ache that comes from within and for no other reason than she's pregnant. Angharad says she needs to take it easy now that the sprog is making itself known, but there's planting to be done, and she doesn't trust the War Boys or the Wretched with all of it. She kneels in freshly tilled dirt, hunched over to place each little seed in a hole, pats dirt back on it and prays over each one. When she's not in the fields planting and watching others plant, she's among the already growing shoots, checking their leaves, touching their stems. She wants to be there to see the changes, plants grow quickly and she doesn't want to miss something vital. She's just so damn tired.

Walking back through all of the tunnels and stairs is becoming problematic. She's nowhere near the top, not even the middle of the tower, and she just wants to sit down so badly. The strength she prides herself on is failing, and she doesn't know what to do with that realization. If this is how the next five months is going to go, she's going to lose her mind. To make matters worse, she knows that tears are welling in her eyes and it irritates her.

She stops for a moment in a stairwell, rests her head on the cool stone. She leans on it, fears that if she sits she's not going to get back up. How did Angharad do this? Because she didn't have a choice, a traitorous voice whispers in the back of her mind, and you did. She pushes that thought out of her head and drags herself up another flight. If she keeps taking breaks, perhaps she'll make it back to the Vault with just enough time to sink into the bath and then go to sleep. She's not optimistic though.

Two flights, one hallway, and a shortcut through the War Boy's quarters, and she's had enough. There's no possible way she can go any further. Nausea has crept up on her, twisting her gut so that each step threatens to make her upend her lunch all over the stairs. She wants to push herself, she survived the Fury Road and she won't be beat by a measly incline, but it's no use, her body won't go anymore. She slumps on the stairs, tries to catch her shaking breath.

"Whoa, hey there Shiny, do ya need-"

The Dag hisses, loud and full of bared teeth.

"Shit, okay then," the War Boy says as he jogs down the stairs.

She shouldn't take her anger out on them, knows better than that. Everything just needs to stop for a moment or two, it's too much for her to handle.

Nux throws a punch that lands square in the other Boy's face. He feels the crack of his nose and goes to strike again but Keenan moves, a quick twist that Nux follows. He dodges a kick and uses it to throw himself so that they hit the floor hard. Cheers go up around them but he doesn't stop, can't tame the hot fury that's filled him up. He doesn't even remember what exactly Keenan had said, something about the Shinies being no good for nothing but breeding, something about not understanding how breed stock is running the place now, something about Cheedo that he can't unhear. Doesn't matter what it was, he supposes, he'll beat Keenan until they all understand. He realizes that others had told Keenan to stuff it, to shut up, and that helps, but it doesn't fix the surge of protectiveness that overcomes him.

"Nux! Nux! I think there's something wrong with one of the Shinies!" A voice surges through the crowd and Nux momentarily stops pounding Keenan's head into the ground.

"What?" He looks at Fazzer as the crowd parts to let him through. "What's wrong?" He's already getting off Keenan, but gives him one last kick in the stomach, just for good measure.

"Don't know, one of them, the white haired one, she's in the stairwell crying. She hissed at me when I tried to help."

"Show me," he orders as he wipes blood off his mouth.

When he reaches The Dag, he's limping a little. Keenan didn't go down without a fight, as no War Boy would, and even though he came out on top he's still sporting some bruises. Possibly a sprain.

"Shiny, what's wrong?" He's never seen her like this, eyes blood shot and hollow, like she hasn't gotten enough sleep.

"The sprog's making everything feel like being drowned in sand," she tells him as she wipes at her face.

He nods but doesn't understand a bit of what she just said.

"What do you need? Do you want me to bring one of the others?"

"No," she says stubbornly.

"You can't stay here Shiny. Sleeping in the stairwell is not fun, nope, others won't see you, step on your head, then you'll get mad, take a swing, miss, tumble down the stairs and have to see the Organic so he can stitch up your head." Nux knows this to be a true thing.

"Spent a great deal of time sleeping in the stairwells eh? Hey, what's wrong with your face?" She touches her mouth in the same area that's he's bleeding.

"Just War Boy stuff, nothing to get upset about." Even though he's still plenty upset.

"I don't think I can make it the rest of the way up," she whispers. Tears slip down her cheek without her permission.

Nux feels helpless as he watches water squeeze out of Dag. She needs to get out of the stairwell and to her bed, but he's not sure how she wants to do that. If she were a War Boy or Pup, he'd have already slung her over his shoulder and been halfway there by now, but she's not, and he doesn't know if he should offer. The tremor in her hands makes him grimace.

"I can carry you, if you want, if, if that's okay?"

"S'better than me trynna crawl up by myself, which was the only other idea I had really," she scoffs at herself.

"Uhh, how do you want to...?"

Water is falling out of her eyes again as she lifts her arms up to him.

"Front ways it is then," he squats down to gather her up. He scoops her like he's seen Capable pick up the younger Pups, and she fits right against him, her head on his shoulder, arms wrapped around him tight like her legs are around his waist. He wants to keep from touching her too much, but it's impossible like this, and he doesn't want to drop her just because he didn't have a good hold.

"Are you, I mean, is this okay?"

"S'fine Nux, I'm alright," she says even though her body is bone tired.

Nux tries very hard not to notice all the places they're pressed together. He does. He starts counting the stairs to distract him from the heat coming off of her, the swell of her stomach against the hard planes of his own. How she smells of green things and dirt. The way her legs are hooked over his hip bones. It's a losing game however, especially when she sighs and nuzzles into his neck a little. He worries at her silence, hopes she's not too distressed over being handled. At least he is worried, until he feels a huff of breath on his neck and the bonelessly of her limbs. Her legs and arms are hanging loosely.

She's asleep in his arms. Something warmer than her skin sinks into his ribs, and he allows himself to cradle her a little closer as he goes up the last flight of stairs to the Vault.

They're the first ones back, so he puts her in the bed, arranges her so he can pull a blanket over her. He leaves her boots on. He's seen her sleep with them before. He pushes her hair out of her face and then gently, briefly, puts his forehead against hers.

He knows now, just how far he'll go to protect the trust the Shinies have for him.

Anything, he thinks, he'd do anything.

Chapter Text

Cheedo sees Toast on the ground, a War Boy with brands on his face above her, and completely snaps. She sprints from where she had been helping Yep bring in a scavenged engine without any other plan than to throw herself at him. She doesn't understand why no one is helping her, Lem and Issot are nearby just watching it happen. She gets to be about a foot away from them, lets out a yell, curls her fingers into a fist, and slams it into his nose. Pound for pound she knows she doesn't stand a chance against him, but she's hoping the surprise of it will giver her time to grab Toast.

"Cheedo, wait," Toast waves her hands at her, smiling. Toast is smiling at her, and the War Boy is grinning like mad through the blood coming out of his nose.

"Well, who'd've thought the Shiny Pup had some scrap to her," he laughs. "Next time plant your feet and hit with your core, throwing yourself at someone loses a bit of its umph," he tells her. "You should've been hitting like that all morning," he points at Toast. She rolls her eyes.

"Was trying to keep your face pretty Luther. Clearly it was a wasted effort."

"You weren't...he wasn't...stars I'm so sorry!" Cheedo exclaims and immediately starts ripping a piece off of her skirt. "Here for the blood," she offers it to him but he frowns as he takes it. Instead of wiping his nose on it, he holds it back out.

"Let me see your hand," he says. She holds her hand out, confused until she sees the split of skin on her knuckles. He tsks and as delicately as he can manage, wraps her hand without touching her. "Should put some of that healing mush the Green Shiny made on it."

"I didn't even feel it," she whispers.

"That'd be the adrenaline. Must've been real worried bout this one," he looks over at Toast.

Before she can say anything, Toast pulls her into a quick hug.

"Thanks for coming to my rescue."

Cheedo can't get her throat to work right so she nods. Awkwardly she turns from them and jogs back to the garages. She passes Lem and Issot who crack smiles at her and give her a thumbs up.

The thing about being around so many War Boys, is that she still gets spooked from time to time. It bothers her that she's bothered, but it doesn't stop the shaking, or the fear. Some of them, like Yep, are comfortable enough to be around that she doesn't have to be on guard all the time. Yep had taken one look at her and snorted so hard he started coughing when Toast had brought her down to the garages. She persists just like Toast tells her too, and shows up every day. She doesn't complain when Yep tells her to haul things, or when certain tasks get her so full of grease that her nails stay black for days. She watches everything Yep does, follows him around so closely that she bumps into him a quite a lot. She's getting good too, Yep doesn't have to watch her anymore, and she could answer other War Boys' questions as long as Yep is there. And she likes working with the engines, so he doesn't say anything when she spends most of her time cleaning them and checking their parts. She works later than most of the others, goes over inventory, checks in with the other garages. She's stalling, she knows, but she doesn't want to go to sleep. Nightmares wake her in cold sweats, screams choked in her throat, and she doesn't want to wake Dag, who sleeps poorly to begin with.

She waves to Yep when he finally leaves, and goes right back to counting bolts, settles in for a long night.

Nux scratches his head and goes to count their heads again. He checks on the Shinies every night before he goes to his own sleeping quarters, sometimes if they are still awake, they invite him to stay, but he doesn't unless they ask. They don't always sleep in a pile, but tonight is one of those nights, so instead of counting feet, he counts their heads. He keeps coming up with only three. Unless they've squished two under the covers, there's only three Shinies accounted for. He sighs exasperatedly and goes to sneak a peek in Furiosa's room.

One shaved head and one sunshine colored head full of hair. He debates whether or not he should wake Furiosa to ask if she's seen the missing Shiny, but squashes that notion when he sees how deeply they're sleeping.

He wipes his hands over his eyes, smears the grease outside of their circles, and goes to check everywhere else.

Cheedo is dreaming, despite her best efforts, she's fallen asleep, and in her dreams Furiosa falls off of the Immortan's car, and she isn't strong enough to pull her up. And there's Rictus, killing Max and grabbing Dag, no, no, she's fighting back but Rictus is too strong and all Cheedo can do is watch in horror as she rolls them both off the Rig, rather be dead than his captive again, and she screams.

Nux steps into one of the garage caves, and let's out a breath he hadn't known he was holding. Cheedo is asleep on one of the benches, a wrench still gripped tightly in her hand. She's making a strange sound, not snoring, something else that sounds like a whimper.

"Shiny," he calls to her. She shivers in her sleep. He kneels down next to her. "Cheedo," he says louder.

Her eyes bolt open, land on him, and she launches herself at him, causes him to fall on his ass with his arms full of shaking Shiny.

"Nux," she shudders into him. "I don't want to see it anymore."

"It's okay, I've got you, nothing's gonna hurt you here," he says into her hair. He waits for her to pull away, to realize that they're touching, but she doesn't, she grips him tighter.

"How do you make all the memories go away? How do you make it better?"

"I'm not sure, I think they don't go away, not really. You kinda just replace them with new memories, better ones. Ones that make you happy." He thinks about all of the conversations he's had with Capable, and tries to say what she would. "What makes you happy?"

Cheedo thinks about the other former Wives. The Dag's smile, Capable's strong hugs, Angharad's singing voice, Toast's fond eye roll. She thinks about Yep's pleased grunt when she does something unexpectedly right. Furiosa's startled laugh. And this, she thinks, holding onto his shoulders, this is good too. She thinks about Nux in their bed, how he praises them, protects them. She thinks about the times she's accidentally stumbled onto him and Capable kissing and flushes.

She sits back a little, looks at his lips, and bites her own.

"What?" He tilts his head to look at her. She shakes her head.

"Can I...?" She touches his face and he stills. She looks at his lips again.

She can't possibly want that, he thinks, but she's leaning towards him, and he melts as she kisses him. It's soft and sweet, her hands around his neck holding him close. He has his hands on the ground, lets her take what she wants from him.

This will make a good memory, she thinks as she opens her mouth more, drinks him in like the coolest glass of water on a hot day. The sudden hunger for more, a wanting squirmy thing in her stomach, makes her grind her hips a little, just to feel, just to see. She's never had this kind of power before. Never wanted like this.

Nux groans a little, wants to grab her and pull her into him, but doesn't want this to scare her. He's growing hard under her, and that's a problem because he shouldn't want this with her, shouldn't want it with any of them, not after everything they had been through. With more will power than he thought he had, he puts his hands on her shoulders and lightly pushes her back a little. They're both breathing hard and her eyes are glassy with want.

"Sorry, sorry, I got carried away," she touches her swollen lips.

"Don't be sorry for this," he says. He's confused but overfull with happiness. Still, he probably shouldn't be kissing Shinies in the dark when he's supposed to be getting her to sleep. "Come on, let's get you up to the Vault."

She nods, and the phantom feel of her lips on his causes her to grin. Oh, she thinks as she watches his face, even the tips of his ears blush. She follows behind him, and goes to sleep with the memory of the noise he made.

Nux knows they trust him, but does he trust himself with them?

Chapter Text

Nux knows he should've gone to see the Organic Mechanic yesterday, and that he needs to see him if not by the end of the day then by tomorrow at the latest. His body isn't moving like it's supposed to, instead it's sluggish and he has a raging headache. It's not helping all of the thinking he wants to be doing.

He woke up sandwiched between Angharad and Capable, which wasn't the worst way to wake up, not by far, except for the fact that it was later than he usually got up. The sun was already coming in through the little window and both Toast and Cheedo were gone to their work places already. He tried to sit up, to put his boots on, but Angharad had a firm grip on his midsection and snuggled closer. Capable woke from their jostling and pressed a kiss to his shoulder, right below Larry and Barry, before she made for the bath. Before he could escape, The Dag rolled into the empty spot, and tucked herself under his arm, her arm going out to hold him and Angharad. He rarely stayed in bed past when he woke, but they were warm, and he could feel the effects of going too long without a transfusion, so he closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

The second time he woke up, it was alone but for the pillows they had arranged around him. Somehow he felt worse, and his throat was dry, making the sound of his wheezing louder. He sat up too fast and the room went spinning. Much like his confused thoughts on the Shinies. Over the months of rebuilding, he's learned a lot about them. He knows things that he wouldn't have ever dreamed knowing about them. He sees their strength, their kindness, and their fury, their fortitude. He knows all of these new words to describe them because of Capable. He knows most about her.

Capable lives up to her namesake. She tackles problems head on, isn't one to back down from a fight, and demands the best from people. She holds everyone to higher standards of themselves, stern in her ability to command immediate trust. She's taught him so much about living, that it makes him want to live this life as much as he can, as much as his body is willing. Nux feels things for her, in his chest, in his head, that he's not sure he has all of the words for yet. She'll probably have to teach him those too.

Unfortunately, he feels those same things for all of them, different, but the same too.

He likes Angharad's fierceness, her temper, when it's not directed at him, and the softening of her eyes when he does something she's not expecting. He likes her forcefulness, how she believes in making things better, always trying something else to get the best result. Angharad takes all of her fears and spits them back out until they're something useful for her to work with. When she smiles at him, it's better than driving, better...just better.

The Dag is both gentle and stubborn, and sometimes, stubborn in her gentleness. She dislikes violence, and half of what she says he doesn't understand, but that's okay. He knows it's mostly what she doesn't say that matters. She has a way of knowing things, a quick glance telling her more than whole conversations would. She's constantly making him try new green things, and he likes the way her nose crinkles in amusement when some of them taste less than shiny. Since being in the sun all day, she has new little marks across her shoulders, freckles he thinks Capable called them, and they always catch his eye and make him feel like his stomach hurts.

All Toast has to do is wink at him and his stomach feels weird, flopping all over the place. He doesn't think it's natural for it to do that all the time. Toast is eager to learn, and she takes her lessons seriously, wanting to do well for him. It makes him swell with pride when she doesn't grind the gears like she's sometimes prone to. Toast is all patience, and sly comments that have him stuttering in response. She's quick to laughter, and to anger. She gets defensive and sometimes he messes up and says the wrong thing, but she doesn't hold grudges. At least not against him. The first time she bumped her forehead against his, not in the soft way he's become accustomed too, but harder, more like a too new War Pup, he has to go sit down after to process it.

Cheedo surprises him the most. Cheedo the Fragile they called her, if only they could see how fragile she is when she's bossing around fifteen seasoned War Boys while helping War Pups barely old enough to reach the pedals on their vehicles. Yep tells him all about her progress, and about the time she decked Luther hard enough to break his nose. He would've liked to have seen that. She's earnest in her work, and she's getting more comfortable in crowds, which makes her happy. Which makes him happy. She surprises him with his want for her, and therein lies all of his problems.

He wants more than he should.

Standing is tough, especially since the room won't quit spinning. He has to make it to the Organic though so stopping isn't an option. He walks in the general direction of the doorway, but stumbles on something wet? Oh, right, the pool. He lifts his foot but it's not going where he wants, and he ends up tripping himself.

"Nux?" Someone calls his name, not a Shiny.

"M'fine," he mumbles, not all that convincing. He thinks his face is wet but isn't sure. He tries to move but his head is too heavy, and instead, promptly passes out.

Nux wakes up a third time that day, to five worried faces, one carefully blank face, and one annoyed looking Organic Mechanic.

"Ya waited too long, almost couldn't get you started back up," the Organic says, and Nux wishes he wouldn't say things like that in front of the Shinies.

"I know, I-"

"You know!" Toast blurts out, clearly unhappy. She turns away from him, as far as she can go, which isn't very far considering she's hooked up to him through a needle and tube.

"You shouldn't have done this," he tells her, and she laughs, but it's not the kind he's used to. It sounds all wrong. His head hurts.

"We thought you were dying," Cheedo chokes out through tears. He's out of it, so seeing all of them at once is hard right now. Her eyes are puffy and red like she's been crying for a while. She sniffles into Dag's shoulder while she grips one of his legs, holding him as if he could possibly get away.

"Just needed a top off is all," he slurs a little. Furious rolls her eyes so hard her necks rolls a little with it. She doesn't say anything else, but it doesn't need to be said, she thinks he's being an idiot.

"Should've asked us sooner, would've been been better than waiting until the Organic could figure out if any of us matched," The Dag says in her faraway voice, the one she only uses when something is upsetting her and she feels like she needs to protect herself. He hears what she doesn't say. What if none of them had matched?

"Didn't wanna worry you," he says.

"And having Furiosa tell us that you'd passed out face down in the pool is any better?" Toast snaps at him.

"Don't you trust us?" Angharad asks, and the look on her face finally breaks him down. Water slips down the sides of his face. He wants to say yes, of course he does, but the words are stuck in his throat. She lifts a small cup of water to his lips, and cradles his head so he doesn't choke on it. It's only then that he sees that she's connected to him by another tube and needle.

He looks around and he finds Capable to the left of his head. Capable, who is usually the first to mediate between him and the others, hasn't said anything, and keeps silent as she wipes the tears from his face with her hand. He reaches for her, needs something, and she holds his hand. He feels her warm tears land on his arm.

"Didn't think..."

"What, that we cared?" Toast bites out. She turns and reaches for him, and for a moment he thinks she's going to punch him, but instead she presses her mouth to his, quick and hot, before she pulls away to look him dead in the eyes. "We fucking care okay?"

"Oh," he says dimly.

"We thought you knew," Cheedo whispers, not meeting his eyes. He suddenly agrees with Furiosa, he's definitely an idiot. He hadn't wanted to hope that they felt the same for him, didn't think he deserved it.

"Maybe we were too subtle," The Dag sighs and shares a look with Capable.

"Then let's make it obvious," Angharad quips. She dips her head down to his, he holds his breath, and when her lips meet his something settles into place in his chest. Something more than blood. When she pulls back, he catches the Organic's eye.

"Don't look at me pup, I ain't kissing you," he looks around at the Shinies. "Probably better if you don't get his heart going too much, we just got him stable. He needs to rest."

"I'm taking you off work duty for tomorrow," Furiosa tells him. "Next time, don't wait so long, you're heavier than you look," she remarks and then leaves. The Organic Mechanic is gone for the moment too, off helping another half-life.

Nux closes his eyes for moment, the light filtering in from the small windows is making his headache worse.

"Does it hurt?" Capable asks, and now he knows why she hasn't said anything. Her voice is strained, rough, like she's been holding back her tears. Like she's been crying on the inside. He wants to tell her that this hurts, hearing her like this hurts, but instead he tries to think about what he's feeling.

"Just my head, not bad though, not like it was."

"Once yer head stops pounding you can leave. Should see you again tomorrow to make sure yer equalled out," the Organic calls out.

Capable and Cheedo help steady him as they walk back up the Vault.

He wants to reassure them that he's okay, but he also knows a hard truth, that he doesn't have as many days as they do. Half-life. It's one of the first things War Pups are taught, one of the first things they are made to understand. No matter how many times he gets filled back up, one day it won't be enough. And that would be one of the more pleasant ways to go, because he's seen Boy's go into fits, whether with fever or because of unseen lumps he doesn't know. Seen them claw at their throat, bulging eyes, and gasping for air. Seen the fever hit them so hard they started hallucinating.

He should apologize at least, that much he can do. He's sorry for scaring them, for their tears, and their anger.

They put him in their combined bed, just like that first night. Except this time they don't wrap him in blankets, this time they wrap him in themselves. This time The Dag smushes Cheedo between herself and his backside, and Cheedo slides a leg between his, clutches him to her. This time Capable is pressed to his front with her nose in his neck and Toast is spooned up behind her with her arm draped over them, her hand coming to rest on his chest. This time Angharad finds his hand on Toast's hip and threads her fingers through his.

He gets it this time.

This time touch means love.

Chapter Text

Furiosa dabs the cloth lightly against the bleeding split near the corner of Angharad's mouth.

"How does it feel?"

"It hurts," Angharad licks her lip and then grins. "You got in a lucky shot," she tosses her blonde hair over one shoulder. Furiosa's eyebrows go up.

"Did I?" She's trying not to smirk but her mouth keeps quirking up.

"I almost had you, admit it," Angharad looks up at her, her legs swinging as she grips the desk where she's perched.

"Hardly," Furiosa scoffs and leans back in the armless wooden chair that had been salvaged.

"But I'm getting better?"

"Yes." She was getting better, quick and light on her feet. She was still pulling her punches, still trying not to hurt her, and while Furiosa appreciated the sentiment, it didn't make for a fair fight. Furiosa wasn't one to hold back, it wouldn't do Angharad any good as an Imperator if she couldn't take a punch.

"I'll be able to give the War Boy's a run for their cars soon. I can't wait to see their faces," she smiles thinking about it. "Be able to give you a run for yours too." Her smile turns from sweet to hungry so fast, Furiosa's breath catches in her throat. Angharad slides off the desk and into her lap, straddles her so that they are almost nose to nose. "Here, let me show you," she whisper's against Furiosa's neck. She gives her neck soft sucks and kittenish licks, holds onto her shoulders and grinds into her lap. Furiosa's not sure how they seem to always wind up here, but she tilts her head back and gives Angharad more to work with.

Furiosa gives a pleased sigh, Angharad knows all the small places that make her melt. When she licks into her mouth, Furiosa holds her closer with her metal arm. She runs her other hand up Angharad's neck and marvels at the show of trust she gets when Angharad leans her head back into the caress. She turns her head and nips at her fingers, so she slips one in her mouth, watches her rosy lips suck at them.

Angharad closes her eyes at the feel of Furiosa's fingers in her mouth. She loves this, makes a happy sound, and lets her tongue twirl over them. It's so good but she wants more, always. She takes Furiosa's fingers and draws them down her body, down and under her linen to where she is already slick. It's Furiosa who groans when she slides her fingers across Angharad's clit, rubs at it a little with the wetness on them. Angharad writhes in pleasure, her hips squirming closer.

She's beautiful like this, Furiosa thinks, flushed with her hair wild, and her lips caught between an 'o' and a smile. This is how she's meant to look.

"Furiosa," she moans and then bites her lip. She makes a frustrated whimper that has Furiosa kissing up her neck.

"How does it feel?" Furiosa asks with a gleam in her eye.

"So g-good, oh, glory," Angahard stutters. She has one hand on her breast while she steadies herself with the other, gives herself enough leverage to roll her hips. Furiosa gently pushes one finger into her, and she presses back, impatient and aching. She fucks herself on Furiosa's finger, throws back her head when a second one works into her.

"You're so perfect," Furiosa says into her shoulder, near the new brands. She drags her lips across soft skin, kissing her way to where Angharad is quickly removing her top linen. She wastes no time in getting her mouth around one of her nipples, laving it with her tongue and sucking it into a hard tip.

Angharad is strung between two points, the sparks in her breast and the fire in her clit. Furiosa's thumb swirls over and over her clit. She moans when her orgasm lights through her, her toes curl, and she grips Furiosa to her, finds her mouth to slip her tongue into. She wants her to taste her release. When her thighs stop shaking, she laughs.

"That was amazing," she kisses Furiosa's neck some more, and sighs when she withdraws her fingers. "Are you sure I can't return the favor?" She feels Furiosa shake her head gently.

No. They've had this conversation before. She doesn't need that, has no want for it, not now, not yet.

"Stay here for a little bit? While I go over these proposals from Gas Town."

Angharad puts their noses together, rubs them against each other until Furiosa huffs away smiling.

"Of course." She rewraps her linen, tucks everything back into place and wiggles until she's comfortable. Every now and then she kisses Furiosa's neck, but it's aimless, no intention behind it other than comfort.

Chapter Text

Toast shifts her weight and watches in amusement as half of the group of War Boys that runs with her does the same. She scans over the lot of them again but there's still a missing face amongst her regulars. The sun is almost up, but it doesn't seem right to start without all of them.

"Has anyone seen Lem?" She asks finally. Most of them shake their head.

"He's at the Organic's, spent most of the night there. Doesn't look real good," Issot tells her. Toast frowns.

"He get injured?"

"No, Shiny, just flaming out," Issot shrugs. Flaming out is what they call it when someone is dying from their illness. None of them seem that surprised.

"Oh," she says, her forehead furrowing. "No running today, same time tomorrow," she barks out, and then starts jogging back inside. Once she's lifted up on the single person harnesses, she sprints as her feet hit the floor. War Boys in the hallways flatten themselves to the walls when they see her coming.

"Oi Shiny, what brings you down here?" The Organic raises his head from a War Boy's chest, an instrument sticking out of his ear.

"Looking for a War Boy, goes by Lem."

"Ah, came just in time, he's not gonna make it past the hour."

Toast feels her heart twist unhappily. She follows the Organic to a sectioned off area where Lem is stretched out on a gurney. His eyes find her, and it's instantaneous how alert he becomes.

"Didn't expect to get to see you again," he says, his voice hoarse.

"Couldn't go on my run without my running buddy." She sits on an outcropping of rock next to him. "Are you in pain?" She reaches for his hand and then hovers uncertainly before slipping her hand in his. He looks at her with an expression she can't place.

"Nah, just feels slow. And fuzzy. S'weird. Always thought I'd die on the Fury Road. Not from any great sacrifice mind you, just from Issot being an idiot lancer. Was so sure that asshole would be the one to send us both to Valhalla, he's so fucking terrible with judging distance."

Toast smiles a little at that.

"But if Immortan Joe was lying to us all, then I'm not so sure about Valhalla. Don't really know where I'll end up, but wherever it is, I'll be there soon enough to find out. Feels kinda awkward. The dying. Now that it doesn't mean anything."

"It means something," Toast says abruptly. "It's going to be strange without you there in the mornings," she whispers. Then, he oddly starts smiling at her like she's said a joke.

"Can I tell you a secret?" He asks. She nods warily. "I hate running. It's the fucking worst."

Her mouth falls open in surprise.

"But, but you were the first one to start running with me! You never missed a day!" She exclaims.

"Somebody had to make sure you wouldn't get bothered by the others. Not all the Boys are quick to change, and I figured you could use a friendly face. My face has scars all up one side from that shithead Issot, but I can still smile." He demonstrates for her.

"You were protecting me," she realizes.

"Could you do me a favor?" He asks. She notices that his eyes don't look right.

"What is it?" She grips his hand tighter but his hold is lax.

"Keep an eye on Issot for me? He'd sock me if he knew I was askin' ya, but we've been driving a car together since we were pups. He's never ridden with another driver. He's always been my lancer."

"Don't worry about him, Lem. I'll watch out for him, keep him from blowing himself up." She's rewarded with another smile.

"Didn't ever think I'd get to die with a Shiny by my side. Funny, how things change," he sighes, his breath whistling strangely. He was struggling to keep his eyes open, but they didn't want to cooperate with him.

"Lem?" He doesn't answer her. She waves at the Organic to come over. "Is he dead?" The Organic leans down with an instrument in his ear to Lem's chest.

"Not yet. He probably has a couple o'minutes left. Some of them get lucky and go quiet like this. Didja wanna listen?" He holds out the instrument.

She's never listened to a heart before, not like this. It sounds like a fluttering bird, like a memory of something she thought lost to her. It slows down, barely pulsing. She listens for long after it's stopped, just to be sure.

"He gone?" The Organic asks. She nods and hands his instrument back. "I'll tell the Boys to take him out back."

It didn't matter where his body went, Toast knows that what made Lem, Lem, is gone. She honestly thought she would cry, but instead she feels rubbed raw, like a new sunburn.

She doesn't want to face Luther or Yep, both of whom she should be working with. Instead she goes up to Nux's room. He's not there, so she sits on his makeshift bed, takes a look around. There isn't much, but there's little things she notices. Scraps of metal all bent into little figurines. A half bolt of linen with drawings on it. She recognizes Angharad's work, and when she gets closer, realizes it's of another War Boy. A familiar face scowls back at her, flashes of being back on the War Rig flit through her mind. His lancer.

Keep an eye on Issot, Lem had said, He's always been my lancer . Toast knows that affection hadn't been encouraged amongst the War Boys, it had been quite discouraged. Still, even Immortan Joe hadn't been able to completely stamp out the bonds that grew amongst them. Did Nux miss him? Would his lancer have worried over him like Lem did?

She wipes her face, feels the tears she thought wouldn't come, and lays down in Nux's blankets.

Nux is once again missing two Shinies out of five. He knows it's not his place to corral them, Angharad's words ring in his ears, but it makes it easier for him to sleep when he knows they're all safe. The Dag has picked up on this, and if she goes out at night, pacing amongst the vegetables, she presses a kiss to his cheek and makes sure he's awake enough to hear that she's going. He doesn't bother searching for Angharad, last time he peeked in Furiosa's room for her, he was met with piercing blue eyes that made him quickly backpedal out of there. Toast on the other hand, he double checks the beds for. He peeks in on his room, just in case, and is surprised when he sees a shape in the blankets. Sure enough, she's nestled in his bed.

"Hey, Shiny," he whispers as he squats down to see her.

"Sorry, must've fallen asleep," she murmurs, but makes no move to leave. He plops down with one knee bent so he can rest his head on it, the other leg curled under it. She reaches to wind her fingers in a bit of fray on his pants.

"Do you miss him? Your lancer?"

Well, that certainly wasn't what he was expecting. He goes for the easy answer.

"Yes."

"I didn't ever think that he might mean something to you. How horrible is that?" She sniffs.

"You didn't kn-"

"And now Issot's alone too, he has to go on without his driver, or find a new one. It's not fair," she cries.

Ah, so that's what this is about. He had heard Lem flamed out.

"S'what Slit said when the Organic first told me the coughing was cuz of Larry and Barry. He said it a lot more when they finally showed up." He remembers how Slit had gone into the fighting pits when he noticed the lumps pushing up from his skin. When he came out he had three broken ribs and half of his face bruised.

"Issot's alone now, like you," she whispered.

"I'm not alone," Nux finds her fingers with his own. "You're here aren'tcha?"

"I don't think I'm enough," she says.

"Believe me, you're plenty," he teases, and perks up at her little huff of indignation. "Come here, let me show you what Slit would do when he was really worried about me." He unbuckles his belts and kicks off his boots. Scooting into the blankets next to her, he pulls her into him, her back fit snuggly against his chest. When she was comfortable, he wrapped an arm up her middle, between her breasts so that his hand splayed out just above them, right below her collarbones.

"He held you?" She couldn't imagine the fierce War Boy doing this, it didn't fit her mental image of him.

"Mhmm, when the coughing got bad, or the night fevers hit. Think he wanted to make sure I didn't stop breathing in the night."

He loved you, she thinks sadly, he didn't want you to die. Did Nux love him back? She puts a hand over his, holds him closer to her. Before she drifts off to sleep she says a little prayer to a War Boy that had once tried to capture her.

Thank you for making sure he lived, and, thank you for showing him he was loved.

The next morning, she goes right up to Issot, who's waiting with the other War Boys to run, and headbutts him hard enough that he stumbles.

"That's from Lem," she tells him with a fond smile.

Chapter Text

The Dag peers over the shoulders of the War Pups that Capable sent her to help out in the gardens on the very tops of the Citadel. They are quick learners, and she doesn't have to watch their every move, but she does check up on them. There have been talks of opening trade with the new Immortan of Gas Town, and produce is valuable. She walks in between rows of radishes, their red tops peek up from the ground. Another day or two, she muses, and they'll be perfect for harvesting. Growing things seems to be her specialty. She rubs her stomach, so much larger now she thinks. Round like the melons that were popping up on the thick green vines. The Vuvalini say she'll get bigger still, the sprog's growing, and she worries a little, wonders where she's going to put it, there's only so much of her.

It's almost mid afternoon, the sun is beating down and it's become especially uncomfortable. She looks around over the tops of newly built trellises, and spots Avila, one of the former Milk Mothers. She's teaching a few of the Pups to keep an eye out for the spotted flying bugs that have shown up and drink the sap from the plants. She waves until Avila notices her, and then points in the direction of the Vault. Avila smiles brightly and nods her head. They've become a good team over the past weeks, and The Dag is grateful that Avila had shown interest in the garden. She doesn't worry so much about her plant children when she's there.

She's learned to enjoy the breaks she has to take when her body has told her it's had enough. In the Vault, Cheedo rummages around, sifting through books.

"What are you looking for?" She unwraps some of her linen, wanting to feel the lapping water against her bare skin. Sinking into the cool water of the pool is exactly what she needs, and she doesn't begrudge herself this luxury anymore.

"Books on glass blowing. We need more windshields and I heard Yep talking about glass blowing. I remember flipping through a book on it, at least I think I did." Cheedo opens a large book with yellowed pages. She quirks her head and gives Dag a once over. "How's your back?"

"S'okay," she replies, but Cheedo is already moving towards her. The Dag leans her head on her arms on the side of the pool so Cheedo can get at her back. She sighs as her fingers dig gently into her lower back. A wisp of a memory pokes at her, she remembers taking turns doing this for Angharad.

She's dozing when she hears Nux's footsteps.

Nux hesitates at the entrance to the Vault. He doesn't want to disturb the two Shinies, but Yep was having a fit without Cheedo there to supervise the new War Boys.

"Cheedo," he calls out as he steps into the room. "Yep needs you in G2, the green Boys worked on one of the patrol vehicles without getting it cleared and the driver crashed it."

"What?! Is the driver okay?" Cheedo hurries out of the pool, and starts to wring her linen to get it dry.

"Bruised ego is all." He tries not to stare at the Dag's bare shoulders.

"Take my place?" Cheedo asks.

"Uhh..." He looks at Cheedo shyly.

"You know how to rub someone's back right?" He does, he's done it before for Slit.

He nods and she presses a quick kiss to the corner of his mouth before she's off. Dag watches him strip off his fingerless gloves, and his work belt. His shoes get tossed near a chair and then he's stepping into the cool water. It swirls red as the clay on his stomach gets washed off. There's a moment where he stares at his hands poised over her skin, where he looks at the comparison between his callused fingers and her silky skin. He places his hands on either side of her spine, and going much softer than he ever would on Slit, presses his thumbs in.

The Dag makes a surprised sound and arches into it. Glory but it feels good. She sinks into the long press of his hands.

Nux hears her noises and for once, doesn't have to ask if this is okay. He can tell the difference between her sounds of pleasure and of pain. He moves up her back, kneading at places he knows from experience go sore. He gets to the tops of her shoulders, and stops. Her freckles are dotted along them, splatters of them that make his stomach flop. He traces a few with a finger. He wonders what it would be like to trace them with his tongue.

"Something wrong?" Dag finally asks.

"Nothing, sorry," he answers too quickly and goes back to massaging. She turns a bit to look at him. The clay hides a blush she knows is forming. The water cools down her temperature, but it does nothing to stop the heated pleasure that tugs at her, that makes her want more.

"Nux?"

"Am I pressing too hard," he pulls his hands back. She makes a frustrated noise.

"No, I," she turns to see his face. "I want you to touch me." His forehead furrows.

"I thought I was."

"No. I want you to touch me, however you want to touch me. I'm giving you permission, you can touch me, without worrying. I'm not going to break." She watches the understanding dawn in his eyes. This is not a thing lightly given.

His hand immediately goes to reach for her shoulder.

"Your freckles," he breathes out like he's just found the answer to a particularly hard riddle.

"What about them?" She looks down at the little golden flecks.

"So fucking chrome." His fingertips trace patterns in them.

The pink of his skin shows through the clay, tempting swaths of scarred flesh that she wants to uncover more of. She scoops some water in her hands and pours a bit of it on the clay that hasn't been washed away yet. Her fingers slide over his scars, she returns the favors and traces their pattern.

Nux isn't sure what's better, touching her, or being touched, but either way it feels good. He sinks down into the pool more to let her get his chest and neck. He closes his eyes so she can do his face. She wipes the last bit of clay from his mouth. When he opens his eyes, he notices the same look on her face that Cheedo had, right before she kissed him. This time is different though. This time, he angles down first to fit his mouth against hers.

The Dag wants, and wants, and the first taste of him isn't enough. She wraps her hand around his neck to get him closer, to feel the press of his body against hers. His hand caresses one shoulder while the other holds her. She licks his bottom lip, her tongue following the scars on it. He kisses her deeply, tongue sweetly finding hers, and then he's laving kisses down her neck, and oh. Oh. The curl of desire that unfolds within her is suddenly overpowering. She wants to mount him, she realizes to her surprise, to take, and take, and take-

He groans, and reality snaps back. She wants him but there are things she has to talk about with the others, details that have to be hashed out. She moves her head to find his mouth again, makes them both dizzy with it, and then reluctantly lets go of him.

"I want you," she tells him so he doesn't misunderstand her pulling away from him. She goes to say more but he shakes his head at her.

"We don't," he pants a little and she's pleased that he's flustered, "have to do anything else if you don't want. This is enough. You're enough."

"So are you. I want to do more, with you. I just want to check in with the others." I want to talk with Capable, she thinks. "You know why right?"

He nods. He knows, how the Shinies feel about him. What he does with one of them affects everyone, and he doesn't want to hurt any of them. He motions at her with his hands.

"They won't miss me for a bit longer. Let me rub your back some more."

She smiles and turns, settles in for another light doze with his hands doing circles on her skin.

Nux wants to spend the rest of the afternoon just like this, listening to Dag's little noises, feeling the knots loosen in her back. He has a patrol shift at night, and new fittings to put on the War Rig, and new War Boys to test, but he wants to forget it all. He doesn't want to leave her.

Just for now, he thinks, just for now he can be selfish with his time.

Chapter Text

Capable glares at a War Boy that's easily three heads taller than she is, who has staples down one side of his face. Who has more than likely killed people, and enjoyed it. She narrows her eyes at him, unrelenting. He has a jagged scar that cuts across his chest and down across his hip to disappear in his pants. He's glaring right back at her, but she's not intimidated in the least. She just crosses her arms over her chest, rolls her eyes, and waits for him to back down. War Boys, most of them were all bark no bite, especially when they realize she bit hard if she had to. This one is stubborn though, and he isn't keen on being down in the Organic Mechanic's.

"I told ya, I'm fine," he rasps at her. She shakes her head.

"No, you'll be fine, but you need to get that lump removed," she tells him. They can't order the War Boys to have operations, they won't, but they can argue with them. Tires still has most of his half-life in front of him, he won't flame out for a long while yet. But not if he doesn't have the visible lump taken care of.

"Whatsit matter anyways?" He unconsciously rubs at the medium sized lump on the top of his right shoulder.

"It matters to me," she snarls at him. He takes a step back, his eyes going wide. "The young pups look up to you, they listen to you. You can teach them how to be a War Boy in our new world. We need you. Isn't that worth going under the knife for?"

He barks a wordless growl, pacing back and forth.

"You don't understand. Things happened down there. Boys went in but they didn't come back up. Boys who weren't flaming, who weren't injured," he waves an arm in the direction of the clear hanging plastic sheets. His nostrils are flaring like he's spooked just being near it. "One of my littermates came back with more scars than he had lumps, and no memory of what had gone on."

It's not an unusual story. It's one she's heard many times now that the War Boys are mostly comfortable with her. She doesn't doubt them either, the Organic Mechanic had not been known to be gentle in his experiments. The only reason they kept him alive was because they needed his medical knowledge to be passed on before he died. She puts her hands on her hips.

"You think War Boys were the only ones the Organic got his hands on? You don't need to convince me that he's done awful things in the past, I lived through some of them. But he's our best chance of keeping you well." That shuts him up. The Boys are always surprised when they find out that the Shinies were mistreated, that they were abused and hurt. "I can stay with you the whole time," she gentles her tone.

"Don't leave," he whispers.

"I promise."

She watches the Organic take the lump out of his shoulder, even when she wants to turn away from the bright smell of blood and flesh she watches. She holds his hand when it starts to shake at the pain or the fear, or both. He doesn't cry like she thought he would. The Organic stitches him back up and pours a disinfectant on the wound. She startles when he starts to get up.

"Hey, you shouldn't move yet, you need to rest," she puts a hand on his good shoulder, but he's strong despite having just been cut up.

"Not here, not staying here any longer," he hisses when he sits up. She sighs at his insistence, and goes to get under his arm to help him up. He leans heavily on her.

When they reach the stairs, she worries that she's not going to be able to get him up them.

"There you are!" Angharad bounds down the stairs towards them. "We're having a meeting and need you there," she says as she scoots under Tires' other arm. Capable feels his weight shift. She grins to herself as they get the heavy War Boy to the barracks and into his bed.

"I'll check on you later okay?" He nods at her with his eyes already closed. She squeezes his hand before she leaves.

"What's this about now?" Capable asks as they step in to the Vault.

"It's about our War Boy," Toast answers. She's leaning against Cheedo's legs.

"Is something wrong?" Capable's heart squeezes as a million images of terrible things happening flashes before them.

"He's fine, he's fine," Angharad pats her arm.

"He's more than fine," The Dag waves them over to where she's sitting next to Cheedo. "We just wanted to know if you wanted first dibs."

Capable can usually follow Dag's nonsense, but she needs a little more to go on.

"First dibs?" She folds her legs under her and takes a seat next to Toast.

"With Nux. We didn't want to impose, because you formed a relationship with him first," The Dag explains.

"You pulled him out of the War Rig," Cheedo agrees.

Capable is very confused. She looks to Angharad for help.

"Did you want to rut with him first?" Angharad says bluntly. Cheedo's cheeks go pink. Toast smothers a snort.

Capable stares at her family, her soulmates, and bursts out laughing.

Nux runs through the list of supplies he needs in his head once more. He's on his way to see Furiosa when he catches sight of her just outside the Vault. Standing guard? She hasn't done that for months now. She turns to see him and puts a finger to her lips, tells him to be silent. With a wave from her prosthetic hand, she motions him over. Curious, he huddles next to her and listens.

"It's not that ridiculous a thought," The Dag says exasperatedly. Capable is still giggling. Her sides hurt from laughing so much.

"Yes it really is," Capable laughs breathlessly. "What makes you think I would mind any of you rutting him first?" She wipes tears from her eyes.

Outside the Vault, Nux goes completely still.

"You loved him first," Angharad says stubbornly. Capable smiles.

"We all love him. Doesn't matter who fell first, or last, we all fell together. Besides, if we're playing the who fell in love with who first game, then you all win anyway. I loved all of you first."

"Doesn't seem right, you not having him first," Toast pipes up. The others nod.

"Why?"

Beyond the Vault's opening, Nux thinks he should leave, but if Furiosa is eavesdropping too, it can't be that bad right?

No one can seem to find an answer to that.

"Test him out?" The Dag swirls a finger in the air. Capable laughs into her hands.

"Oh I see, you want me to test drive him for the rest of you," she gets out around chuckles.

"You could tell us what he's like," Cheedo perks up. Angharad nods.

"If I have to tell, then Angharad has to tell," Capable points at the blonde Shiny.

Furiosa twitches at that, the first movement she's made since Nux started standing next to her.

"What do I have to tell?" Her storm cloud eyes flash at Capable.

"As if it's such a secret that you've been shagging the High Imperator," Toast drawls. The Dag shrugs in agreement.

Nux turns wide eyes at Furiosa, but she ignores him.

"What did you want to know?" Angharad tilts her head at them.

"Do you-"

Nux never gets to hear the rest of that question, because Furiosa is dragging him towards her office. It would haunt him for weeks.

Later, after Capable had checked in on Tires, she plops down next to Nux in his bed. He instantly wraps an arm around her. She rests her head on his chest. He smells of warm clay still, even though he'd washed off his war paint. She lazily traces his scars with her fingers.

"Nux?" She asks after a while.

"Mm?" He doesn't mind her perpetual habit of asking him questions right as he is falling asleep.

"Do you ever think about rutting with me?"

"Nope," he answers evenly. No chance of sleeping now that his heart is speeding.

"Really?" She sits up a little to try and see his face. It's dark though, and the candle lamp is dim. He shakes his head in amusement.

"Capable, I think about it all the time. I think it's become impossible for me to not think about it." He really should try to not think about it while driving though. He drove straight into a sand dune the other day.

"You've never said anything, or even tried to get your hand under my skirt, or-"

He's laughing now, and he so rarely laughs that the sound curls inside of her, warm and affectionate. He quiets and she waits for him to speak, listens to the silence that's filled with his thinking.

"I know how breeding stock is used. I know how you were used. You think I was gonna try anything without your say so? Can't help thinking about rutting with you. You're so chrome," his fingers sweep across her cheek. "But I wasn't ever gonna say nothing about it until you did."

"What if I never mentioned it?" Her fingers find the hollow his hip bones make. It's one of her favorite things, so her fingers find it often.

He shrugs.

"Then you wouldn't have, and I wouldn't have."

"And that would've been okay?" Tell me, she thinks, I need to know.

"Yes. Would still love you after all," he mentions matter of factly, as if he's just told her her hair is red, and not like he's just made himself vulnerable. Because isn't that what love was? Giving someone else your vulnerability, and trusting them not to hurt you. "Is that okay?" He asks because he knows she's searching for an answer to a question other than the one she asked.

"More than okay," she replies as she wiggles back into him.

Nux listens to her breathing even out in sleep. He's wide awake as he wipes a hand over his face. They were gonna kill him, he thinks, all this talk of rutting. Five Shinies, and only one him.

Chapter Text

Cheedo is good with quick tallies, which helps when a squad of patrol vehicles returns, or when she looks up from her work station to check that all of her assigned War Pups are accounted for. She's quick with her work, fast on her feet, and easily shoulders War Boys out of the way when they're doing something wrong so she can show them how to do it better. Yep calls her his Prized Pup, and lets her run his garage when he's out on patrol, which is often now that he's not worried about her setting his life's work aflame. She's not hesitant to ask questions when she messes up, or if she doesn't know something, which is partly why she surpasses War Pups who've been working on their vehicles longer. Still, she's pleased when Yep takes her to look at the new polecat cars.

Their garage, and Cheedo takes a little bit of pride at the thought that it's theirs, mainly deals in engines and patrol units. G5 typically does add-ons, modifications, and new inventions. They'd been working on new vehicles to go with the recently arrived War Boys from Gas Town who were polecats, and they were finally testing them out.

The first thing Cheedo notices is the bulk of them. Polecat cars weren't made for speed, she supposes, and they have to be heavy enough to hold the counterweight. She hasn't learned the names of the new War Boys, so she can't tell the Dag who is getting strapped in, but she makes sure to take note of their different appearances. She'll learn them in time.

"Look at the swing on that one," Yep points to the counterbalance on one of them, but she stares at one of the War Boys swaying high up in the wind. Bet it feels like flying, she thinks, or at least the closest thing to it. The Vuvalini has told her tales of planes, and gliders, things that could take a person up to almost touch the clouds. She remembers longing for the sky when they were still prisoners under the Immortan. Some days, she would stretch up high on her toes, reach her hands up towards the sky and pretend that she could fly. She turns to Yep with a gleam in her eye, and he groans internally.

"I want to get on one," she says.

"Not happening, they haven't even been tested," he growls at her.

"Thought you said I could do anything a War Boy could, and do it better," she tosses his own words back in his face. He glowers at her and says a quick prayer for a swift ride to Valhalla, because that's where he's going if he gets a Shiny injured. Still, the hopeful look on her face crumbles any defense he has. Getting too damn soft, he muses.

"Alright," he nods, "alright let's get you harnessed up." Yep puts her in it himself, making sure all of the straps are in place, and only after two other War Boys look her over, does he give the okay to raise her up. They go slow, on his orders, and he watches her face, but she's all smiles. Ridiculous pup is having a grand time while he tries to come up with excuses as to what exactly possessed him to say okay. Her eyes, he thinks, if they saw her eyes the way he did, they would say yes too.

Cheedo clings to the pole, her feet planted solidly on the little platform, and then she's in the air, and she can see out across the waste. Crimson sand and robin blue sky greet her, there's a breeze that blows through her hair and it's perfect. She throws her arms out and lets out an enthusiastic whoop. Yep gives the driver a thumbs up and then they're off, driving circles around the Citadel, testing out the moves while Cheedo sways side to side. Tobbit and Oliver are the Boys operating the counterweight, and her driver Uri keeps them at a fast steady pace. It's exhilarating.

Her heart beats fast and she's full of giddiness. After a half dozen turns she yells down for them to stop the swaying, and just opens her arms to the wind. It whips her face, curls around her arms, it's like nothing she's ever felt before. Like she finally believes, even after months have passed, that she's free.

Nux thinks it's a bit off when he goes to see the polecat cars being tested, and everyone is determinedly looking everywhere but him. He gets that all eyes are on the cars, searching for defaults and weaknesses, but nowadays he can hardly go anywhere without War Boys and Pups greeting him, pulling him aside to ask questions, wanting his opinions, and eagerly listening to what he tells them of the Shinies. All the silence is a bit baffling. Kind of peaceful if he's honest, but strange. He flags Yep down, and is even more perplexed when the older War Boy's face gives him a pinched expression as if he just bit into one of those yellow sour fruits The Dag made him try. Must be something wrong with the cars already.

"Howsit?" Nux asks him. He watches a few cars go by and he can't visually tell that anything is wrong with them, but Yep will know better than he would.

"I couldn't've stopped her! I mean I could've, but I couldn't've. I mean ya know how it is, determined things they are. I mean, no, not things, that's not what I," Yep waves his hands wildly,"...stubborn is what I meant, relentless, she just wouldn't stop asking, and I, I mean couldn't've have said no. No, not right. Ya know?"

Nux doesn't know, but he hopes Yep starts making sense, because it's easier to have a conversation with Dag than to figure out what he's going on about right now. He opens his mouth to ask if Yep needs to see the Organic, when one of the polecats catch his eye. Yep waves at the driver to come in, and Nux gets a good view of Cheedo in the air.

Tobbit and Oliver get her quickly out of the straps and help her upright.

"Thank you so much," she gushes at them while she waves at Uri. "We'll have to do it again sometime," she says, and they grin at her nodding. "Nux did you see?!" She flings her arms around his neck.

"Sure did, you looked just like a bird," he tells her. Over her shoulder he sees Yep and the other War Boys go lax with relief.

"I gotta get back to the garage, left Odie in charge but he's still a Pup and Yep gets twitchy when I leave Pups in charge."

He walks her back, listens to her excited chatter about being a polecat. So different from when they first met, from when they first started getting to know each other. Cheedo used to shrink whenever he was around, hardly spoke to him, and wouldn't look him in the eyes for the longest time. Now here she was, in charge of G2, trying out polecat vehicles, and-

Putting her hand in his back pocket and grabbing a handful of his ass. When he remembers this moment later in bed with Capable and Toast, they'll ask him if he really yelped, and he'll absolutely lie and deny it.

He yelps, and it surprises Cheedo so much that she trips with her hand still in his pocket, causing him to fall on the stairs with her.

"I should've asked, I'm so sorry," she pats the shoulder he hit the stairs with.

"Don't need to ask to touch me. Startled me is all. Are you okay?" He asks as he grabs her hands to see if she scraped them.

"I don't need to ask?" She stands up and brushes herself off. He shakes his head.

"Anytime you want to touch me, go ahead," I'm all yours, "but maybe next time wait until we're not on the stairs."

"What if there's a time when you don't want me to touch you?" She stops in front of the mouth to G2.

"There won't be." He'll tell her one day that he misses being touched all the time, that he misses bumping shoulders with Slit, and cuffs on the back of his head, and big hands holding his hips. Misses it so much that it bothers him if more than a couple of days go by without it. One day he'll tell her growing up as a War Boy meant constant touching with his littermates, sleeping in piles, rubbing up against each other in the hallways because they would all try to get through at once, and that even a punch could be sweet if it was for the right reason.

"But-"

Nux cuts off her sentence by putting her hand back in his pocket.

"Hey," he starts, and tells her the words he's been trying to find since he saw her in the sky, "I'm proud of you."

Just as he thinks she's going to cry, she hugs him.

"I'm proud of you too," she squeezes his middle when she says it.

It's a long while before she lets go.

(Odie somehow manages to light a small fire that he puts out with the help of five other War Pups before Cheedo returns. They wisely don't mention the scorch mark on the floor.)

Chapter Text

Angharad sits behind the pedals of the War Rig, Crusader, newly built and improved, and tries not to show Furiosa that she's nervous. She has spent time with Cheedo going over the engines, learning what to do if a tire blows, or an engine goes dead. She knows the kill switches, has chosen them herself, and all that's left is to actually drive it. She tells herself that even War Pups too small to reach the pedals start learning how to drive, and that she can too.

Furiosa takes them to a section of the Waste that is still Citadel territory. All she has to do is get them home. Furiosa waits patiently for her to turn the key. Nux sits behind them, drumming on his leg, hyped up energy from being in the new rig. Angharad touches the metal bobble flower he made for her, and then turns her rig on. She taps the gas pedal, the roar of the rig is loud in her ears, but she gets a sudden rush of adrenaline. Nux is grinning madly in the rearview mirror, his face practically splitting open with it. She can get used to this.

The sun has moved position in the sky when Angharad finally admits defeat. She can drive the rig perfectly straight, but trying to turn tons of metal leaves her flustered. When even Furiosa grimaces at the groaning of the brakes, she turns it off.

"You're just starting out. It's going to take practice. Besides, this isn't how War Boys learn." Furiosa turns to Nux with a glimmer of a grin. "Angharad, come here," she points to the space between the front seats, "Nux get in the driver's seat." He obeys without question and Angharad briefly wonders if he'll unquestionably obey her when she becomes an Imperator.

Nux tilts his head at Furiosa, waits for the command he knows is coming. He suspects that she is teasing him, but he's never known her to joke around. Although she does look like she's enjoying his discomfort. Now that he knows Angharad and Furiosa are...together? Intimate? Doing whatever it is they're doing, he's wary of touching Angharad under the High Imperator's watch. In his gut, he knows Furiosa would tell him if it bothers her, but habit is hard to break, and she outranks him.

"What do War Pups do when they're learning and they can't reach the pedals?" Furiosa asks, and he's one hundred percent sure now that she's teasing.

"Sit in the lap of a War Boy," he responds. Angharad turns to share a look with Furiosa, and then she's climbing into his lap, wiggling into place. There's barely enough space but she manages to fit right under his chin.

"You did this when you were a Pup?" Angharad asks, and he almost misses the question because her hair smells like something sweet.

"Mhm. Ace taught me how to drive, would let me go with him on supply runs." He pointedly does not look at Furiosa, doesn't want to see whatever it is she has in her eyes.

"How does it work?"

"I'll drive, you put your hands on mine, same with your feet, and instead of focusing on how much the wheel is turning, or how hard or soft the pedals are being pressed, you just feel it with your gut. Feel the speed, and the listen to the sounds, feel the swerve of the wheel up your arms. Ace always said, treat the vehicle like an extension of yourself, if you don't feel it, you'll never drive right."

Angharad does as he says, lays her hands over his on the wheel. She concentrates on how her body vibrates when Nux starts the rig, wants to make sure she feels the thrum in her gut. Nux expertly turns the rig, drives large circles while she tries to keep her thoughts on driving, and not on the sudden fierce ache between her legs.

Nux not only feels the rig, but also all of the bits of Angharad that are touching him. It's a heady mix, to be driving at the same time as touching her, and it's burning up his spine with sparks of pleasure. He tries to keep a straight face, but Furiosa gives a little cough, covers her mouth with her flesh hand, and he would bet his best metal bit that she's smiling.

Angharad turns her head sharply to look at Furiosa when she hears her cough. Amusement is plain to read off of her eyes, and she's failing to smother her smile. Is she? But no, Furiosa wouldn't be teasing her, the things that Angharad has growled into Furiosa's ear while being pleasured are sometimes about Nux, about the things she wants to do with him. She's even disclosed how Nux gets a bit standoffish whenever Furiosa is around, has noticed the stiffness in his shoulders and worried over it with the High Imperator. She set this up, Angharad glares at the horizon, she's doing this on purpose.

Nux can't remember how many circles he's driven, he was counting but lost it in his thoughts. Or more accurately, lost in the throb of his dick. He fervently hopes that Angharad can't tell, but he's getting harder by the minute, every time he hits the gas she gets bounced a little more in his lap. He keeps sneaking glances at Furiosa to see if she'll give the order to go back, but she's reclining with her boots on the dashboard as if they could be out there driving circles all night.

Furiosa can't even bother to keep a straight face anymore, Nux keeps shooting her big concerned blue puppy eyes, and Angharad looks like she wants to rip Nux's pants off right there but is trying to preserve his dignity. Bunch of idiots they were, she shakes her head, and finally signals to Nux to take them in. She's not a meddler usually, but she notices Nux's reluctance to be close to Angharad when she's around, and when Angharad keeps her up at night worrying over what his non-touching means, she has enough.

Nux tries to bolt when the Rig is parked inside G1 but Furiosa holds out her metal hand, stops him from leaving. He drops his shoulders, eyes down, and waits for orders. A metal finger lifts his chin up.

"We're in this together," she near whispers as she cups the back of his head and brings it down to her own, presses her forehead against his in a gesture of solidarity. "Okay?"

"Okay," he says back. It's not the kind of conversation he always has with Capable, but it's enough to know that Furiosa doesn't begrudge him his time with Angharad.

Angharad waits until Furiosa leaves to grab Nux's hand. He trails her to the top floor of the Citadel where she pushes him into his room, and against a wall before pressing her body against him in a fluid movement. She kisses him, and it takes him by surprise for a second, and then he's putting his arms around her to bring her closer. His hand tangles in her hair, while the other drifts down to palm her rear, then grabs her and lifts, makes her legs go around his waist as he supports her weight. He carries her over to his makeshift bed and lays down with her on top.

Nux didn't really ever believe that one could get addicted to aqua cola, but he thinks that he could addicted to Angharad's tongue in his mouth, her hands on his chest as she grinds her hips over his. Her hands roam lower as she sits up, her chest is flushed pink and it's one of the best sights Nux has ever seen.

Angharad wants him now, the way his hips jut up like he can't help it, it's intoxicating. She scrabbles at his belts, her hands not working the way she wants them too. Just a moment ago she was burning up with want but a strange sensation now fills her head. Foggy, like it's not real, like she's in a dream.

Nux reaches down to help her with his belt but freezes when he sees that her hands are shaking.

"Angharad?" He tries to see her eyes but she's looking down at her hands.

"I don't understand," she says, her voice hoarse.

"What is it?" All thoughts of rutting fly out of his mind, his only concern is to fix whatever he did wrong.

"I want this. I want you. But I feel," she looks up at him, her eyes are all wrong, she laughs an awkward sound, "scared." She pulls her hands back, then holds them back out in a gesture he easily recognizes. He sits up and wraps his arms around her in a hug. She hides her face in his chest. Angharad is many things, but easily scared is not one of them.

"Whatever I did, tell me, and I won't ever do it again," he says into her hair. This however, doesn't have the calming effect he thought it would. His chest is becoming wet with her tears. Panic starts to accumulate in his ribs.

"It's not you, it's me! I thought I'd finally be rid of him once the mark on my neck was gone, but he's ruined me, I'll never get his stain off," she sobs.

Nux is flummoxed for words, so he stays quiet and listens instead. Sometimes the best comfort was silence and someone to hold you.

"I thought I was stronger than this," she laments. He suddenly wishes the Immortan were alive just so he would get the pleasure of killing him for her.

"The Immortan tried to take everything away from you, but he was never able to take your strength. You kept that for yourself and the other Shinies. He didn't ruin you Splendid," the nickname catches her attention, he's never called her that, she had always bristled at it when the Immortan would use it to call her like a pet, but Nux makes it fond. He says it the same way others say 'home'.

"How can I be scared of something I want?"

He huffs out a chuckle that makes her lean back to look at him.

"That's me all the time," he confesses. She wipes the remains of tears off her face.

"I want to rut with you," she says rather stubbornly.

"I know. And we will," he pats her head like he would a Pup, "but not today."

"No?" She bats his hands away.

"I'm saying no," he gathers her up to him, arranges her so her back is to his front, and her legs are over his.

"That's good," she nods, the motion slids her hair up and down his collar bone. One of us has to have sense, she thinks, and it's clear that it's not me.

Nux listens for Angharad's quiet breaths, no longer shuddering and harsh, and lets out a breath he didn't realize he was holding. The Vuvalini had taken him aside one morning and hashed out their concerns with his involvement with the Shinies. When they were sufficiently satisfied that he wasn't taking advantage of them, they gave him some much appreciated advice about how to please them, and on how to comfort them in instances when past wounds reopened. He was going to stop by their outpost at the top of the Citadel tomorrow and give them his thanks.

Furiosa peeks into Nux's room after listening for any telltale noises that would give her the signal to keep walking. Nux looks up from the metal bit he's bending into a shape with a pair of pliers. Angharad is curled in his lap, her eyes drowsy with sleep. Her eyes open a smidge when she sees Furiosa. With a crooked smile, she stretches out an arm and makes a grabby motion with her hand. Furiosa's eyes dart to Nux who pats the space next to them. She unbuckles her metal arm before sinking down next to Angharad and resting against the wall. She watches Nux as he twists pieces of metal into what she thinks will be a tree when he's done. Angharad closes her eyes at some point, and though she doesn't do the same, she thinks she could. Maybe they weren't as big of idiots as she thought.

Chapter Text

The drums of war sound off while Nux and Cheedo are under the hood of his new car. Buzzards had traded ten salvage cars for units of water, and Nux finally got to start piecing together a new ride. It takes him a second to place the drumming, so long since he's heard them sound off, but when he does he jerks his head up too fast and bangs it on the hood. The drumming picks up tempo, whatever is coming is coming in fast.

"Let's go, let's go! Battle stations Pups!" Cheedo quickly takes command and follows her gaggle of Pups and young War Boys out of G2 and to the loading dock where they'll help harness up the vehicles to be lowered down to ground level. Nux is right behind them, but takes a left up towards the former Milk Mother's room, now called the Watcher's Nest. A former Milk Mother turned WatchGuard named Perdy stands with Angharad at the telescope. Furiosa enters the room right after him.

"What do you see?" She goes up to the window to look outwards.

"Four Rigs, at least thirty vehicles, and motorcycles, but they keep weaving, I can't get a good count on them," Perdy says.

"Four Rigs," Furiosa's eyes go hard. Nux can hear her train of thought, they aren't prepared for this many. Their only advantage is home territory, they know the lay of the land.

"Bullet Farm and Gas Town are signaling!" Fazzer runs into the room.

"Ask for-" Furiosa starts but gets cut off.

"Wait! They're waving white flags on their rigs. Look," Perdy turns the telescope to Angharad.

"What do you see?" Furiosa asks again.

Angharad focuses on the rig in front, she turns the the lens to zoom in on the driver.

"It's Max," she says stunned, then louder, "It's Max!"

"Signal the Bullet Farm and Gas Town, let them know we have incoming allies," Furiosa tells Fazzer with an unreadable expression.

Max jumps down off the rig and has barely enough time to blink the sun out of his eyes before four shapes barrel into him, encasing him in a large group hug. He lets them squeeze him briefly as he pats them, and when they step back, he blinks some more. These are not the same girls he left. Two are covered in red war paint, one in grease, while the last squares her shoulders and meets his gaze evenly, measuring him up. They immediately start talking at once before he even has a moment to take in these changes.

"Where did you go?"

"Where have you been?"

"What's with the entourage?"

"Holy shit is that your rig?!" Cheedo's voice cuts through them as she bounces up and down excitedly. He's taken aback by her swear and is about to say something when a hand comes down on his shoulder.

"You gonna introduce us to who's in charge round here?" A woman with golden brown skin smiles widely, showing too many teeth for Angharad's liking. She's shorter than Max by half a head, and she's wearing red pants and a shoulder holster. Two black X's cover her nipples, but otherwise she's bare, gleaming skin showing off gnarled scars on her left side.

"That would be me," Furiosa comes up behind them. She has the black grease across her forehead just like when he first saw her.

"Excellent. Max here's been going around spreading tales of water and green plants to anyone who'll listen. Thought he had to be fucking mad, but I couldn't take the chance that he was right and not see it for myself. Brought trade items and medics. Heard ya had a tumor problem. Name's Carnage by the way, Leader of The Ark." She doesn't hold out her hand, but nods her head slightly.

"What's the deal Carn, are we staying or going?" A younger looking person with spiky black hair rides up next to them on a motorcycle.

Furiosa stares into Max's eyes, and whatever she sees there is good enough.

"We don't have room to load up the rigs right now, but the left wing of the barracks is empty for your people, unless you'd like to camp out down here. We can discuss terms of trade after everyone is given water and food. Welcome to the Citadel," Furiosa tells them.

Nux enters Furiosa's office space and immediately picks up on the awkward tension. Everyone is packed into the space, the Shinies, Furiosa, Max, six people he doesn't know, Jetta a former Milk Mother, and seven War Boys. He feels better seeing Luther and Yep, both of whom pat him on the back as he walks by. He notices Axle and Ish standing behind the chair Dag is sitting in, grim expressions on both their faces. The Dag had somehow won their friendship, and they had recently taken it upon themselves to guard her. He settles himself down and against Capable's legs.

The next five hours are filled with so much talk Nux spaces out now and then, focuses on their faces and the things that their bodies give away. He listens as they learn about the different settlements, is interested to learn that out of six different encampments only two others are war based and none nearly as brutal as their own he surmises. He perks up when he hears that they've come with vehicles to trade, Max had helped them pick things that the Citadel could use.

"Nux, Yep, come here," Furiosa tells them. She points to a number on a crisp piece of paper that only important documents were written on. "Is this adequate for the rig, full vehicles, and parts?"

Nux looks over Furiosa's head at Yep, and hopes the older War Boy can tell he has no idea what to say. The number she's pointing at is units of water. The very thing that had once been drilled into his head was addicting, that he was lucky to have two handfuls of each day. That he would fight to protect. Now he was being consulted on how to trade it away. What a day he thinks as he crosses out the number and writes a larger sum. Water is precious, but there are too many War Pups and not enough vehicles for them. He wants them to have the chance to feel the endless Waste beneath them and the thrum of the engine. Yep nods at him in agreement. Hopefully this will be incentive for future trades.

One by one the leaders of the Citadel are consulted on their items. The Dag takes the longest, she goes over not only produce but already started shoots and seeds. She's taken aback when four of the other leaders divulge that they've brought seeds to see if they'll take here in the water rich soil. This is good, Nux thinks, this is what the Shinies meant every time they spoke of hope. The list of items dwindles until there's only one more thing to go over.

"What's this?" Angharad taps the word 'cargo'.

"People," the leader of a tribe dubbed the Ruffnecks, Roth, says. Angharad straightens up.

"What do you mean people?" Her voice has gone cold, she already knows. Capable's hand finds Nux's shoulder as if she could hold back Angharad through him. The other War Boys in the room can sense the swirling anger, and they snap to attention.

"To trade," Roth shrugs.

"We do not deal in slaves. Release them to us," Angharad demands. Compromise and bartering were not an option here, Nux sees what an imposing Imperator she'll be.

"And what do you offer in return?" Roth pushes off the wall he had been leaning against.

"The ability to leave here," she growls out. Furiosa shifts in her seat, and Nux knows that to outsiders it looks like contemplation, but he knows she's reaching for the gun under her desk.

Conversation bursts out as Roth angrily shouts in a language Nux doesn't know, while the leader of the Bandits chimes in that he has slaves as well. Carnage tries to mediate as Toast joins the yelling which in turn spurs Luther to pipe up. Furiosa whispers something to Max with an annoyed glare.

"People are not things!" Angharad slams her hand down on the desk, effectively silencing everyone. "We are not things," she says quieter. "Leave them with us, or our trade negotiations with you are off. How many more days can your people go without clean water?"

In the end it's a question that has an easy answer, they're all here because none of them have access to clean water, and what little water they do have is sour.

Once everyone is talked out and tired, the Shinies and Nux head to the Vault, while Furiosa and Max stay behind.

"You knew they had slaves, and you brought them to us," Furiosa turns her fierce eyes on him.

"Didn't know how else to get them free," Max says as he sits down in a chair next to her. "What's, hm, going on with the War Boy and the girls?"

"Nux and them are together, don't divert the subject."

"Together?" Max's eyebrows shot up.

"Bonded. In a relationship. Together. Where did you-"

"All of them?" His forehead furrows.

"Yes we're, they're, in a," she waves her metal hand, "relationship. How far did you-"

"We're?" And oh that was a shit eating grin if she ever saw one.

"Did you come back to gossip?"

"You're mad that I left," he says definitively. She sighs and rests her head on her arms over the desk. It's unnerving to be under her gaze, she always looks at everyone with such scrutiny that Max has to force himself not to squirm under it.

"I knew you would be back. Just like I know you're not staying."

He nods, no use in denying it.

"How long will you stay here? You should stay until Dag has her baby, won't be long now."

"Can do that," he scrubs a hand over his face. "You sure you have space to put me?"

"Not if you were hoping for an empty room. You can bunk with Nux but you probably won't get a lot of privacy and he's a bit of a sleep talker," she smiles, the first real smile he's seen since being back. "You can stay with me, I have an extra cot, but again, probably not a lot of privacy. Angharad spends about half her nights with me." She can see Max forming the question, but instead of asking, he merely grunts.

Max falls asleep to the sounds of Nux mumbling about how shine Capable's red hair is. It's not the worst sleep he's gotten.

Chapter Text

Luther notices the strange shudder that shakes Toast's shoulders when she dodges his punches. It's new, the way she evades his fists without blocking, just ducks out of the way as if she's a green Pup that's never felt the impact of training. He's hit her before, in the beginning she was too slow to get out of the way, but once she learned to block, she easily stepped into them, and threw her own fists back at him. So, it's curious that she's not doing that now. Toast always has that low simmering anger that he's seen in War Boys before, but she doesn't seem full of fight today. For the past three days, she's seemed exhausted already, tired, and it causes her to make mistakes she normally wouldn't. When she twists out of his grip he sees the bleakness of her eyes and stops. Something is wrong.

"What the fuck's going on with you?" Tact really isn't his thing.

"What, am I doing something wrong?"

He pauses for a moment. What to say? Does he tell her that he's worried? That the grim hollowness of her eyes makes the back of his throat clog up?

"You're wrong," is what he settles for. Possibly not the best answer, as now she's glaring at him.

"What about me is wrong?" She growls out, hands on her hips.

Nothing, not a V8damned thing, he thinks. He takes a step towards her to apologize for being an ass, and she flinches. As if he was going to hurt her for real, and she couldn't raise a hand to stop him. It sends a chill down his spine. He lowers his hands slowly to his sides, he gets it now.

"Who touched you?" He asks, his voice hard. She rubs her hands up and down her arms. She doesn't answer. "Shiny, tell me so I can fuck them up, who did it? Which one of these miserable fucknuts do I have to kill?" He doesn't raise his voice, but the implication of his anger is clear.

She stares hard at the ground.

"It wasn't any of the War Boys. They know better. Hell, you know I wouldn't have a problem beating them senseless if it had been one of them." She sounds burned out.

Not a War Boy? Then who-

"They don't mean it, but there's not enough space in the tunnels, and I keep getting brushed up against. So many new faces," she sits down tiredly, just plops right there on the training floor. "They don't give me enough space, and.." she trails off. I feel trapped in my own skin, she thinks dejectedly. "I don't want to cause a scene, it'd be bad for trade, and for Furiosa."

But it's bad for you, he pinches the bridge of his nose. Of course she'd put the welfare of the Citadel above herself.

"Follow me, let's go," he points at the entrance to the cave and starts for it, makes sure that she's behind him before he exits. He stops in front of G2. "Go work on your car, training will be at a different time tomorrow, so just come here and I'll get you."

"Uh, okay," she says slowly.

"Go on Puppy," he urges her. Her eyes narrow at him. It's better than what they were doing before. She glares but goes to find Cheedo.

Luther finds Yep under the hood of a busted truck. He bangs on it to get the mechanic's attention and hears Yep swear.

"Odie if that's you...oh Luther, whatcha need?" He slides out from under to squint at the tall War Boy.

"Toast is gonna be here earlier than usual tomorrow. Assign a couple of the older Boys to keep an eye on her will ya? Don't want her walking places by herself."

Yep slides all the way out and sits up.

"Can do that. Any particular reason?" Yep turns to see where Cheedo is talking with Toast.

"The new allies don't know our girls' past, they keep getting too close."

"Our girls?" Yep quirks an eyebrow at him.

"Shut it," Luther snips and walks away. He doesn't have time for cheeky mechanics. He goes to find Issot next.

He figures out pretty quickly that he doesn't have the same problem Toast has. The new faces avoid him in the halls, and they let him pass unhindered. No one brushes up against him, but he figures that has to do with his presence. He prides himself on being intimidating, with flame brands on his cheeks, and broad shoulders decorated with battle scars, Luther doesn't need to tell people not to touch him. That just happens naturally. Toast is short, and when caught off guard, is kind of cute, he admits. Cute doesn't make for intimidating.

The lancer's room is easy to distinguish from the other caves by all of the scorch marks on the walls. Luther peers around the cave's entrance to make sure throwing practice isn't going on, and when it looks clear he walks in.

"Issot, need your help with something," he calls to the other War Boy.

"What's this about?" Issot asks once he's put down the explosives he was working on. Luther explains on the way to grab Nux.

The next morning Toast notices three War Boys trailing her from the Vault to G2. They don't say anything, but whenever there's someone else in the tunnels, one of them will flank next to her, forcing the other people to squish themselves against the walls. It's odd, and she wants to say something but she gets to G2 and Cheedo starts going over plans for a lancer's perch on her car, and she forgets all about it.

Much later in the day Luther finally shows up.

"Is it time for training?" She wipes grease away on her pants.

"Mhm," he nods at her to follow him. She turns to catch Yep's gaze.

"See you tomorrow," she waves.

Toast is surprised when she catches sight of Nux and Issot in the training cave. She wants to be wary but Nux is grinning, his lips causing him to look like a slap happy skeleton.

"What's going on?"

"We made something for you," Luther explains.

"Try it on and see how it fits," Nux holds out some type of spiked armor.

Not sure what to make of it, she takes it from him and puts her arms through the straps. It crosses over her chest in an X shape, and has clamps to hook onto her pants. When she's done buckling it all into place, Issot nods approvingly. On her shoulders are pads with metal stuck on top covered in long spikes. The pads link up to arm coverings that buckle around her arm to keep them in place. They have smaller spikes on them.

"Now you can walk in the halls and no one will bump into you, they'll be tripping over themselves to get out of the way," Luther says.

"I can't believe you made this for me," she smiles, her eyes bright with gratitude.

"Wasn't just me," Luther points his thumb at the other War Boys.

"Thanks, to all of you. Now excuse me, I have to go show Cheedo right now." She bounds out of the cave, her head high.

"Oi! We have training...to do," Luther shakes his head.

"I have to get back to the lancer's room," Issot bumps shoulders companionably with Luther and Nux before leaving.

"Hey, thanks for doing this for her," Nux goes to rub his eyes, then remembers his war paint and stops.

"She grows on ya, little thing like her. Forget sometimes that she isn't jus' like any ol Pup wanting to fill pants too big for 'em."

Something in the way he says it, makes Nux stare at him for a moment longer than necessary.

"Like her do ya?" Nux tries to ask it casually. He mostly succeeds.

"Well sure, hard not to with...oh, no, I mean, hey, not like I want to rut her or nothing," Luther backtracks, but it's too late, the second he says he doesn't want to rut her the bottom of his stomach drops.

"'Course not," Nux smirks, like he knows that Luther is lying through his teeth. He rolls his shoulders, a move that Luther recognizes as the release of tension before a strike.

Luther backs up, knows Nux won't hit him, but the underlying threat is there. A fight between the two of them would be about evenly matched, he thinks. He has more experience, but Nux has something to fight for. That makes him dangerous.

"Catch you later," Nux says. Luther wonders if there's a double meaning to that. He's never considered the growing affection he has towards Toast, as he doesn't spend a lot of time mulling about his feelings. He mostly shoves them away until they're useful. Since attraction towards Toast is completely not helpful, he pushes it out of his mind.

Or he tries to.

"Shit," he swears to an empty cave.

Bonus Scene*****

"There," Luther adjusts the straps on Issot. They had the lancer put the armor on to try it out, and it didn't look half bad.

"Uh, I think we need to put the straps at different angles," Nux says.

"Why, these work fine," Issot looks down at the X across his chest.

"Yeah but Toast has," Nux makes a rounding motion over his chest. Issot frowns.

"What?" The lancer asks, stumped. Luther turns a laugh into a cough. Nux looks around for help and spots two lights.

"Here, hold these right here," Nux positions his hands so the lights are over his nipples. The straps cut right across them.

"Oh, I get it," Issot says.

"Move them this way," Luther steps closer to scoot the straps into a better spot.

Yep is on his way for his late night patrol when he hears Issot's voice coming from the lancer's cave. Sighing, he goes to make sure the idiot isn't attempting to make explosives in the dark and instead is treated to the sight of him holding two front lights on his chest, while Luther and Nux are bent over the rest of him. He opens his mouth to ask what in the hell they are doing, but truthfully, he doesn't want to know, so he leaves them to their whatever, and goes about his business. He's getting too old for their foolishness.

Chapter Text

Axle stops doing push ups when he hears The Dag make a gasping sound. He looks over at Ish who's massaging her neck and chalks up the noise to a particularly stubborn knot. The past few days have been stranger than normal, and The Dag's near constant irritability has made for some interesting moments. Finding her crying over a snapped leaf on one of her plants was normal, but her sudden outburst at a pair of boots was worrying, especially since neither of them could figure out what exactly about the boots was offensive to her. The pacing that she took up over the last week drove Ish nuts, but Axle simply watched her closer. She swayed between extremes, wanting to be coddled and left alone. She was sure to have the sprog soon, he thought, couldn't be any other reason for her to be this wound tight.

Neither War Boys had ever seen the Immortan's breeders, much less interacted with one before. They were metal welders and scav units, spending long days in caves with burning torches, or under the sun searching for things useful for the Citadel. So, seeing two of the Shinies on the sidelines of the fighting pits was unexpected. When she cheered loudly with the other War Boys for her favorite fighters, Axle took interest in her. The other Shiny with her exclaimed and squeaked over some of the hits, but The Dag merely eyed it all with a certain wariness when she wasn't cheering. Now that the Shinies were in charge, no one died in the pits anymore, but accidents happened.

He and Ish fought against another pair in a tag team round and when they had won, he saw the War Boys around her grumbling as they dropped metal bits into her hands.

"You were great out there," she had said when Axle got up the courage to approach her. She didn't look anything like he had thought. She was chrome all right, soft looking sun kissed skin, and eyes bluer than the night sky over the Waste. She was also extremely round and something about her vulnerability paired with her gambling struck him. Protectiveness was a weird feeling, but they soon found themselves concerned for her among the War Boys, who were rowdier than usual in the pits. Not to mention the other Shiny looked to be barely older than a Pup herself.

"Didn't expect her to be so...much," Ish had whispered later in their bunk. Out of anybody else the confession would've been just awe, but Ish was the grouchiest unfriendliest fuck Axle knew, and wasn't known to like others easily. Which is how he found himself dragging Ish complaining all the way to the garages where he sought out Nux. The black thumb had been confused at first and then laughed when he heard their request.

"S'alright with me but ya gotta run it by her," he said.

Ish kept complaining up until he saw The Dag knelt down in the dirt, her skirts muddied, and arms filthy. Axle knew he'd done right by his bondmate when Ish asked if he could help, and she'd smiled at him. They'd been at her side ever since.

Another gasp stops Axle. He sees her face and her eyes are wide.

"Boys, I think it's time to go get the Vuvalini, and everybody else," she says calmly. They freeze, unsure if they should leave her by herself. She sighs. "I'll be fine for a few moments."

Ish and Axle have never run so fast in their life.

Nux sees Axle skid into G3, Cheedo and Toast a second behind him.

"Dag's having her baby, we have to go!" Cheedo beats Axle to it. Nux shoves the wrench he was holding into a pocket and dashes after them.

Cheedo gets to the Vault first, and is relieved to see Dag pacing. She opens her arms and Cheedo steps into the hug from the side.

"We're having a baby," The Dag whispers into her ear.

"As long as you do the hard part," Cheedo quips. Dag tugs on her hair.

"Settle in for a long night Boys," the eldest Vuvalini, Aife chuckles. "Babies have the habit of making you wait until they're good and ready, and if the wee one is anything like their mother, well," she smiles at them.

The other Vuvalini, Orsa, sits next to Aife. She looks at how strong Dag is, rounded large with child, and feels the overwhelming urge to cry. How long has it been since they'd been near a mother? How long since she'd been able to see the delight in a mother's eyes the first time she felt the child move within her? When the Green Place had slowly turned into sour bog, she witnessed mothers dying, their babes ill formed or sickly, the water turning everything to so much sorrow. She didn't ever think she'd have the privilege of being at another birth. Aife takes her hand, and she feels whole again.

How different this will be, Aife thinks as she looks around. She had been to more births than she could count, yet out of all of those, none of them had men present. However the mother's wishes were always greatly respected and The Dag had wanted her War Boys. The road warrior, Max, was also there, off to the side with Furiosa. New world, new traditions, she mused. She looks them over, and wonders which one will pass out first. She kind of hopes it's Ish.

Angharad sticks fresh candles in all the lamps, double checks that they have clean linens and buckets of water. When a hand touches her shoulder she startles out of her organizing. The Dag reaches out to hold her hand.

"Are you okay?"

Angharad tilts her head in confusion.

"Aren't I supposed to be asking you that?"

"I mean, because of," her all knowing eyes look down at Angharad's stomach. Angharad swallows a sudden lump in her throat.

"Our babies will not be warlords," she says. "This," she places her hand on the round curve of Dag's abdomen, "is why I fought for us to escape."

"A better fate than ours," Dag agrees.

Capable leans into Angharad and puts her arm around her waist.

"Can't believe it's actually happening," she grins.

"You and me both," Dag huffs.

"Thought you were gonna pop long before this," Toast wrinkles her nose at Dag as she puts an arm around Capable.

"Boys down in G2 had a bet going, I think Odie got the closest," Cheedo laughs. She reaches for Dag's other hand.

Dag feels their energy, their love, and it's so different from what she had first pictured when the Organic told her she was pregnant. She couldn't have ever imagined this. She looks over at Furiosa, and sees tears in the Imperator's eyes. Furiosa nods at her, and with sudden surety, Dag knows that whatever comes next, they're going to get through it together.

Hours later, deep into the night, The Dag holds on to Nux, braces her arms on his shoulders as another contraction ripples through her. He feels her body tense with it and she moans a low-pitched guttural sound. Angharad wipes at the sweat on The Dag's forehead with cool water. Cheedo is rubbing her lower back while Toast holds up a cup of water for her to sip out of in between contractions. Capable holds her hands on his shoulders, keeping them anchored. They've been at this for a while now. Everyone is exhausted, but none are willing to let Dag down so they endure with her.

Nux isn't sure how Dag is even still standing. When the contractions started coming harder, Cheedo was the first to cry at the obvious pain on Dag's face. She had rubbed Dag's shoulders as she sat in the pool. When she couldn't sit still anymore, Toast had paced with her and wiped the stray tears from her cheeks which spurred Toast's own tears. Capable burst into tears when the contractions had doubled Dag over, which is when Nux stepped in to hold her up. Dag didn't want to sit still, and the Vuvalini had said that whatever her body told her to do, do it. Still, Nux isn't sure how much longer she can keep this up, she's trembling in his arms.

Aife is impressed with the War Boy holding onto The Dag. Women often traded shifts when a mother wanted to stand but needed help, yet Nux had instantly gone to her when she stretched her arms out to him all those hours ago, when the sun was still out, and he hadn't moved since.

Moreover, Aife was impressed with the young girls who without any prior birthing experience, were tuned in to The Dag's needs. They moved as a unit, alternating jobs, but all were connected to her by touch in some form. This is what love looks like, she remembers, this is what it feels like.

At some moment in between The Dag standing in the pool, and cutting her skirt to practically nothing, Max had scooted close enough to Furiosa that his shoulders bumped hers. She was grateful for it now, as Dag's pained groans make her chest hurt in sympathy.

"Cheedo," Dag grits out, "something, something's happening," she breathes. She glances up at Nux to see his steady gaze fixed on her. She takes a steadying breath and sees him do the same.

Cheedo kneels down to take a peek under the short skirt The Dag is wearing.

"Oh! I see the head, you can do this, you can do this," she encourages. Cheedo rubs at the base of her spine, and then puts her hands under as another contraction pushes the baby further out.

The Dag's skirt is short enough that Ish gets a clear view of a tiny head and promptly passes out. Aife and Orsa discretely high five each other. Axle turns a strange shade of green that makes his war paint look mottled, but he stays upright.

Angharad starts quietly weeping as The Dag let's out a small wail, her body seizing.

"You're baby is going to be so loved," she sobs, "I'm going to love them so much."

"I know you are. This little one will be all of ours," The Dag's breath catches as she feels the baby move.

"That's right, what happens to one of us, happens to all of us," Toast says as if she's reciting an old promise, words spoken to each other in the dark, when hope was fleeting.

"You're almost there," Capable reassures her, her breath hitching as tears stream down her face.

"I've got ya," Nux whispers, and then he sees her eyes go so wide he feels like he could fall into them.

"It's a girl," Cheedo cries as she quickly wraps the newborn like the Vuvalini showed her.

The Dag sinks to the floor with Nux, and then holds out her arms so Cheedo can lay the baby in them. She's wrinkly, and pink, and covered in blood but Dag is so full of love.

"You did beautifully," Aife praises her, and The Dag smiles, if a bit tiredly.

Dag takes the washcloth from Capable and starts wiping off the little one's face. She's so tired, her eyes are heavy, but she doesn't want to look away.

"You did well," Max tells her. The Dag sees a shadow of something cross his eyes, like a memory that's better left unremembered. He nods at her and then leaves. She understands.

"If you need anything, you'll know where to find us," Aife says as she gathers up her blankets. Orsa follows right behind her. Births were for witnessing, and if there weren't any complications, the moments after were for the parents alone.

Capable and Cheedo gather their pillows and blankets from the beds and bring them out to the main room.

"What are you going to name her?" Toast asks, her eyes glued to the startling pink baby.

"Saxa. One of the A's from Furiosa, the other from Angharad," The Dag reaches out to pull Angharad close and puts their foreheads together. When she let's go she looks up at the War Boy who hasn't stopped holding her.

"The X from Nux."

"She has my X?" He says in such a broken tone that Capable hugs him and Dag both. "And the S?" He clears his throat. She grins.

"The S she gets from your lancer."

Nux loses the battle he'd been having with himself, and feels tears blur his eyes.

"If that's alright," she says, but he's too busy burying his face into her neck and crying to say yes.

"S'perfect," he chokes out. You would've loved her, he thinks and wishes Slit was still around to see The Dag glowing with a tiny sprog in her arms. You would've been stubborn about it, but you would've loved her just the same. Would call me soft for crying, but I bet you couldn't've gone this entire time without water leaking from your eyes either.

"Will you tell us about him one day?" Cheedo asks, her voice pulling him back.

"Yeah, yeah I will," he sniffles.

"Good. She'll be wanting to know about the fearsome War Boy she was named after," The Dag yawns. She'll be wanting to know how lucky she is to have had someone look out for Nux, The Dag thinks. She'll want to know all about the War Boy her father loved.

Chapter Text

Capable turns the corner of one of the tunnels and finds the perfect alcove to hide in. It's a darker tunnel than most, and she hopes that it's not too hard for the Pups to find her in, but they had been playing for a while, and knew all of her favorite spots. In between lessons she tries to get groups of them to play games with her, and so far the one that they ask for the most is hide-and-seek. Secretly she thinks it's because her red hair sticks out but it's worth it to hear them laugh.

The sound of footsteps makes her shrink back further into the dark, if she stays perfectly still, they won't be able to see her unless they reach out for her. Instead of the gangly Pups she's waiting for, she sees two War Boys, Tosser and Rev, come into view. They're shoving at one another playfully, and then Rev pulls Tosser into the not as dark alcove directly across from hers. The playful shoving becomes something else entirely, and when Rev makes a low greedy moan, Capable feels her face heat up.

If she slips out now, it's possible they won't see her. And she should leave, right now, but she hears the slide of pants over skin, and gets a glimpse of Tosser stroking up Rev's ribs, and, and-

She freezes with curiosity. It's not like she doesn't know this happens, from what she's heard, it's fairly common for War Boys to grab their bondmate, or whoever's up for it, and find relief wherever they happen to be at the moment, even if it's in plain view of others. But she's never seen it herself, never seen the quiet intensity in which they arch into one another. She all but stops breathing when Tosser pushes his hips flush with Rev's.

She was a breeder, she knows how this works, but this is nothing like that. It's rough, as if it would be any different between War Boys, but there's Rev's quiet laughter, and Tosser's lips against the other's neck. This is hands made for war holding hips and interlacing fingers anchoring one another. It's Rev's shocked whimper at a change in angle and Tosser's dark laugh. This is something she can't tear her eyes away from.

She bites her lip as Tosser's hips speed up, closes her eyes and listens to the sounds of skin hitting skin. She feels each slap in her core; it makes the place between her thighs throb so she presses them together and puts a hand over her mouth to stop the harsh exhale of her breath.

Rev hisses out a word she can't hear, something that exists only in the space between him and Tosser, and it causes Tosser to lose rhythm.

"Shit," Tosser groans, his hips grinding into Rev. He's gripping Rev's hips so hard that Capable swears she can feel it in her bones, it squeezes the breath from her. Rev laughs through his release, a startling happy sound that she keeps with her throughout the rest of her day, long after she's escaped her hidden spot.

Angharad nudges her when she spaces out for the third time during their evening meal. She smiles at her sister but doesn't tell her what's on her mind. Somehow Angharad just knows, and her expression turns excited. She slings an arm around her and holds her close for a moment, let's her know she has support, before catching the other's attention with a story about how she accidentally pantsed a War Boy.

Nux checks the back of his arm to make sure he got all of the old, flaking, clay off in the shower as he enters his room. He's not surprised to see Capable in his bed. Since Max's departure, he hasn't slept without one of the Shinies in his arms. He sinks down into the blankets next to her.

"Hey," he reaches for her and she straddles his lap instead of snuggling up to his side like she normally does.

"Hey," she replies with a grin. She brings her fingers to his mouth, and for a second, he's back on the War Rig and she's touching him for the first time. Except this time she cups his face and meets his lips with her own. Nux sweeps her hair to one side and strokes down the back of her neck as he opens his mouth for her.

Capable melts under his touch, she likes this, likes him touching her. It's such a small but powerful revelation, that she gets bold with it and stops tracing his scars to find the knot of linen on her back.

Nux throat goes dry like he hasn't had a drink of water all day as Capable undresses. He's so fanging lucky. The flush on her neck goes down her chest and he traces it with his tongue when she gets the top half of her linen off. He wants to put his mouth everywhere.

Capable lightly holds the back of his head as he takes his time finding her sweet spots. She wiggles impatiently, and feels his smile against her breast, the scars on his lips adding friction. She gasps and arches into him when his tongue swirls around one of her nipples. The last length of linen skims out from between her thighs, and the added sensation pools in her core.

Nux laves at her rosy nipple, her noises are going straight to his groin. His fingers roll the other one, and she grinds down. This is Valhalla, he thinks, her sounds and her hands touching his collarbone, his stomach, like she wants to leave her mark on him. He'd let her, could have her make something for him to wear on his skin, something to touch when he wasn't with her. To make her understand how utterly gone he is on her.

Capable can't help the urgent movements of her hips. He's growing hard under her, and she feels a certain giddiness, because she isn't afraid anymore. Love and lust swell inside her, and perhaps the slightest bit of nervousness, but not fear, not disgust. There isn't the cruelty she had come to expect out of rutting, but in its place a pleasure that she isn't ashamed to want. And a humbling power that she has a War Boy underneath her, willing to do anything, willing to do nothing, all at her say so.

Nux strokes down her back to the two indents at the base of her spine. He keeps one hand steady there, while the other follows her hip bone to the front of her. His fingers feel through the flame red curls and he takes a moment to enjoy her damp hair. Everything about her is so chrome.

Capable watches him pet her pubic hair, and tries to hold back a giggle at the wonder on his face.

"Oh," she moans when his fingers dip a little lower, and rub across the nub at the top of her sex. Her thighs tremble.

"Too much?" He asks looking into her eyes. She shakes her head.

"It's good," she breathes out. He nuzzles her neck while he strokes between her lips. She's slippery wet, and warm, and when she presses her hips closer one of his fingers slides in. He starts to pull back, but her hand holds him there as she moves on him, his finger sinking back into her where she's plush.

His finger is rough, and not enough. She moves his hand away from her, immediately feels how empty she is, and goes to get his pants off.

"Can I see?" She asks, her fingers already curled into the top part of his pants. His stomach quivers at her touch.

Nux slowly unbuckles his pants, makes sure not to make any sudden movements.

Capable watches transfixed as a drop of liquid gathers at the tip of his cock and spills down the side. She goes to follow it with a fingertip, marvels in the bitten off whimper Nux makes. She wants to hear how many other sounds she can wring from him.

Nux stares wide-eyed as she moves over him. He puts his hand on her stomach.

"Capable, are you sure?"

"Yes, just let me," she holds her breath as she sinks down on the tip of him. Her mouth turns into a wide 'o'.

It takes all of Nux's will power not to thrust up, not to bury himself in her and wring out his release. She's taking him in inch by inch while his fingers twitch helplessly on her skin. It gets to be too much so he holds her tight to him, tight enough to feel her ribs expand with each shaky breath, to feel the heat of her, the sweat.

Capable digs her fingers a little harder than she means to into his chest when he finally bottoms out. She didn't know it was going to be like this, that she was going to be able to feel him twitch inside her, that she was going to want him deeper.

Capable moves her hips, and the world stops for Nux.

Nothing else exists but this, her sudden smile, his hips jerking up just a little, the wet clench of her, the sharp spark of pleasure, the pink of her mouth, his pulse in his ears. He could live a thousand lifetimes in this moment, and it would never be enough.

"Nux," she moans prettily, "You can, if you want, please, you can move," she leans in and slips her tongue in his mouth.

It's all he needs to hear. He wraps an arm around her waist to get leverage, and thrusts up, the angle making it shallow.

"Capable can I, is it okay if-" he pants into the skin of her neck.

"Whatever it is, I'll probably say yes," her giggles turn into a high-pitched throaty noise as he sucks at the base of her neck.

"I want to try, here, like this," he says as he gathers her up and then lays them back down, so she's under him. "S'okay?"

Capable wiggles, crosses her legs over his hips and nods. He watches her face as he pushes back into her, she bites her lip so hard he rubs a thumb over it, her bottom lip catches on it.

The change in position tingles in the back of her mind, whispers of memories that have no business being here with her and Nux. They're not what she wants to be thinking about, but she lets them sit for a moment, it's futile to push them away. She puts a hand on his stomach firmly and he immediately pulls out but her legs are still wrapped around him so he doesn't move away from her.

She looks at Nux, and thinks of all the things she would give to him, the parts of herself she had to hide, the parts that wanted pleasure but didn't dare seek it out. She smiles at his concerned face, and gets a grip on his cock, her wetness still coats him enough to stroke easily.

Nux can hardly breathe with her delicate hand jacking him, it makes his toes curl to watch her fingers circle his length. He sucks in air as she takes her other hand and touches herself, and he barely keeps holding himself above her.

Capable is in love with how Nux's face is open with adoration. She guides him back into her, and he eagerly kisses her, his hips working at her slow and sweet.

Nux makes a strangled noise as she grabs his ass, each thrust jolting into her harder. Nux imprints the sight of her writhing under him into his blood, into the parts of him that are broken.

Capable tries to soften her cries but it's too intense in this position, he's filling her up, and when he gets a hand between them to rub at her, her whole body tightens with white hot bliss.

"Glory, Capable," Nux murmurs into her mouth. She's clenching around him, taking her release and the roll of her hips has him dizzy. He snaps into her with more force, needing just a little more. She kisses him through his orgasm as it lights up his spine.

He thinks he's well and truly died because his vision blacks out for a moment. Then he feels Capable still squeezing around him and his eyes focus sharply on the crinkles around her nose, the utter joy in her eyes.

"Are you okay?" He asks on the end of a groan.

She touches his cheek scar.

"I've never felt this before," she settles for, to describe the deep-seated satisfaction and contentment. "Nux?"

"Yeah?" He rolls them so that they lay side by side, still tangled up in one another.

"Could we do it again?" She asks shyly. He laughs, and cuddles her to his chest.

"Shine, Capable, we can do it anytime you want."

She nuzzles the scars on his chest while her heartbeat steadily returns to normal.

"Like now?"

"Again?"

"Mhm," she slings a leg over his and maneuvers herself half on top of him.

"I, uh, mpfh!"

Chapter Text

Cheedo eats her mid afternoon meals with the G2 and G5 Boys. They aren't the only ones in the mess hall at that time, but she doesn't know very many of the others and feels better being surrounded by faces she recognizes. She makes sure that her War Pups have enough food in their bowls, and even tries to discretely peer into the Boys' bowls as well. Now that access to the hydroponic gardens had been made available, the change from thin gruel to fresh vegetables and occasionally meat from whatever game the patrol units come across fills their stomachs. She secretly likes it when there's a new addition, something they've never tried before, because just like stubborn puppies, the Boys will scoot it around in their bowl, leaving it for last, until one of the braver ones takes a nibble first. It was hilarious the first time they had radishes, she still giggles to herself when she remembers Tobbit's horrified expression and his spluttering as he tried to scrape the taste off his tongue. It became funnier when she remembers Odie's perplexed eyebrows as he munched on the crunchy root, as if he couldn't understand why the polecat was making such a fuss.

Speaking of, the polecat and his crew sat down across from her and Odie.

"Hey cutie, when ya gonna ride with the big boys again?" Oliver shoots her his brightest smile.

"Not sure, when you see any let me know," Cheedo quips back with a wink that has her table ooooing and chortling with laughter. Odie bumps his shoulder against hers with a nod of approval.

"Ya gonna let her talk like that to you?" A War Boy with burn scars down one shoulder asks as he sits down next to Uri. Cheedo doesn't recognize him, must be a new recruit from the Bullet Farm, they had a squad come in a few days ago.

"Let her talk to me any fanging way she wants ta," Oliver grins at her, reassuring her that he takes her teasing in stride.

"Don't get why a breeder is hanging around War Boys," he grumbles, not noticing the sudden coldness from the others at the table. It's been a long while since anybody has called her a breeder and it stuns her silent. Before Cheedo can defend herself, Uri wipes his hands on his pants and turns towards the newcomer.

"Cheedo ain't a breeder. Ain't nobody's a breeder no more. Don't know how they're still running things down at the Bullet Farm, but hereabouts we don't go 'round insulting black thumbs. Especially if ya want your vehicle ta run anytime soon."

The War Boy laughs and then gives her a once over with his eyes.

"You're telling me this lil' thing is a black thumb? Aye, I'd let her check my engine," he says leering at her.

"She's not a thing. Better watch yer mouth when you talk about her," Odie bristles at her side.

"Or what puppy?" He stands up to intimidate Odie with his height. Cheedo hates bullies, and she's worried that any minute now her Pup is going to fling himself at the bigger War Boy in her defense.

"It's okay Odie, can't fault him for never seeing a black thumb as shine as me," she pitches her voice higher, saccharine in tone, breathy, and Odie gives her a strange look, but she's lowering her eyes and tilting her head to give herself a younger appearance. She's done this before, knows exactly how to play a War Boy. She stands up and dips one of her hips, and the War Boy is stepping closer to her, just like she knew he would, cocky and arrogant. She reaches out a hand towards him, and he eagerly steps into it. It's so easy she almost laughs, but she keeps her face open and vulnerable, her mouth supple with the smallest of smiles. She puts her hands on his shoulders as he touches her waist. She steels herself against flinching. All eyes are on her, and she bites her lip.

"See, told ya she's just a silly breeder," the War Boy tells her Boys.

"No, I'm really not," she drops the tone, her voice going hard, and he gives her a confused look right before she jams her knee up into his groin, using his shoulders as leverage. He grunts and bends forward at the perfect height for her to grab the back of his head and slam it into the metal table. He hits the floor hard, a gash across his head drips blood.

Some War Boys you could turn with kindness, others only knew violence, and though Cheedo didn't particularly like using the latter, she'll do it in a pinch because she's gone too long feeling safe to ever go back to her life of fear.

"Someone get this War Boy to the medics, he needs his head looked at," she says loudly, looking down at him. A few of the Boys from G5 help him up and out, she hears their hushed whispers as they pass her.

"Good thing you didn't do your badmouthing in front of the G1 boys, her bondmate doesn't take kindly to that kind of talk and neither do the other riggers."

"Right lucky it was Cheedo and not Toast, stupid Boy, you'll learn quick enough."

She turns back to her table and sits back down. Tobbit slow claps at her.

"What was that?" Tobbit goggles at her.

Cheedo doesn't want to tell him that she used to be able to win over the Boys assigned to guard the former Wives. That when Rictus would visit them, the others would shrink away, but all she had to do was flash a smile, talk softly, and occasionally touch his arm to get him to bring her and the others favors, things they wanted.

Instead she launches into the story of how she got Rictus to take her back onto the Immortan's car so she could help Furiosa up. How with a lot of bravery, and just a little trickery, she had made it possible for the Shinies to win.

"Come on, we gotta get back to it," Yep says, and they all dutifully follow him back to their garages.

The way War Boys go on about former breeders or the Shinies, you'd think that all they do is sit around and gossip, but Nux knows better. Being able to spend time around them Nux knows for a fact that War Boys are by far the worst gossips. Something that happens on the ground floor in the morning will easily be up at the top of the Citadel by mid-afternoon, and vice versa. Quicker, if whatever happened went on midday at the change of shifts. Even quicker than that if it involved a Shiny.

So it doesn't surprise him when his garage suddenly starts buzzing about Cheedo.

"Shoulda seen her, the way she acted all sweet like, had me going there for a minute. Nailed Jaster right in the schlanger, heard the fool was whimpering all the way ta the OM," Oliver leans on one of the War Rigs while recounting the story to another black thumb named Charcoal.

"Stronger then she looks," Charcoal nods. Oliver chuckles, and then saunters over to where Nux is trying to figure out why the recently acquired Rig keeps blowing out its second engine.

"Your girl is spirited, wanted to let ya know that we woulda stepped in had it gone any further. Fact, I figure her whole garage was ready to jump him, that lil scrap of a pup Odie woulda been first."

"Appreciate that," Nux mumbles, a bit uncomfortable with the conversation. He doesn't like to think that Cheedo can't handle herself, but he's witnessed the awful things a War Boy can do in so little time. That thought sits even worse with him. Oliver claps him on the back, and he leans in to it, because he is grateful that there are others who care for her.

He's still a bit edgy when the day is over and he's walking up the stairs to the Vault. It was later than usual, that damn Rig had been driving him mad all day with no answers. He slipped his boots off when he reached the Vault entrance. Ish and Axle were asleep right on the inside, next to the mouth of the opening, but both of them opened their eyes to make sure it was just him before going back to sleep.

Cheedo and The Dag were asleep with the baby in between them, buffered by cushions Angharad made. They were sleeping so soundly that he turned around to leave them be, for fear of waking them, when he heard rustling.

"Nux?" Cheedo whispers as she rubs her eyes.

"Just checking on ya, go back to sleep."

She shakes her head and points to the space in back of her, right between her and Toast.

"We left room for you if you want," she wiggles closer to The Dag.

Careful to not jostle her too much and wake Saxa, he spoons up behind her, relaxing into the nape of her neck. She's warm, and he pulls her close, hand on her stomach.

"I'm okay, Nux," she tells him.

"I know."

Chapter Text

The Dag lays on her side in a sun warmed patch of the Citadel roof top that is now home to various ornamental plants. Wildflowers of all kinds, the names of which have long been lost, and distinctive sunflowers with their large, sweet, faces turned towards the ever present sun. Saxa is nursing at her breast, curled up against her bare skin. One of her hands cradles her baby's head, and the other is pillowing her own. She lives for these moments, of which she knows all too soon will be gone, babies grow after all, and fast, as she's noticed. The Vuvalini have warned her one day her little girl will be all grown, and that all mothers long for those first few months where everything was so new.

She was so worried, that she wouldn't have the strength to love Saxa the way that mothers are supposed to, that the trauma would sour her heart. And that first week was hard, every wail from Saxa would make her cry, frustrated at herself for not being better at understanding what she needed. It wasn't until Angharad was holding her, humming a bit of an old song Miss Giddy used to sing to them, that she got it. She was so flooded with love, and conviction at the sight of them that she didn't fear herself anymore. Her capacity for love was greater than she knew.

A little ways away from her, Axle and Ish are in a contest to see who could do the most crunches. Always in motion, when they weren't digging trenches for new dirt plots, they were pruning plants, wrangling War Pups, waiting on her, or doting on Saxa. She had been apprehensive over how they would hold her baby, but as their skilled hands protected her head while they held her, she realized her worry was for nothing. Most War Boys dealt with Pups at one point or another. All were expected to watch out for them, a built in network of caretakers that at their most vicious, still took care of their young.

The Vuvalini were wary of Saxa being near the War Boys, had said so at length to The Dag, and she couldn't fault them for their concerns. She shared them as well, had spent many evenings with Saxa resting in the crook of her arm and wondering how to keep her safe. How was she going to teach her all of the things she needed to know to be free?

When Dag and her sisters returned to the Citadel, to the place that held all of their pain, they had agreed that they were going to do things differently. That unnecessary violence wasn't going to be part of their new world, that they would try to reform the ways of war. And as much as they wanted to keep that promise they soon realized that war was in the Boys' blood. That it sustained them, and that forging a different kind of life wasn't going to work all at once. Even Nux, the War Boy they let into their bed and their hearts, even he didn't fit into their ideal version of how the Citadel could be run. War is all they know, but it would no longer be what they died for. To The Dag, and for Saxa, that would make all the difference.

The War Boys, the Wretched, the Citadel, one day Saxa would be responsible for all of it, and it was Dag's job to make sure that she wasn't left a ruined mess of savage, cult-worshipping, smegs. Broken boys with half-lives who would rather die historic than live it.

Capable was always telling her that change starts with one, and she supposes that's true. Axle and Ish had never seen a Shiny topless, and were incredibly uncomfortable the first few times she nursed Saxa, but time passed, and now she practically went topless all the time at the top of the Citadel. They went from hunters of the waste to hunters of the waste who spent a great deal of time delicately plucking caterpillars off of tender plants. Hands that used to steal and trap gently held a small pink baby as they crowed over her squeals of delight. Dag didn't doubt they could still destroy, could still snap a neck or fight till they were both bloodied. But that was just one facet of them, one aspect of their being that no longer defined them. If she could influence two then others would follow. Not all could change as fast as her plants, but she was never good at being patient.

She didn't want to have to wait until the War Boys and Wretched were okay with Saxa, she wanted them to be a part of her life now. The Dag had taken Saxa amongst the War Boys in their barracks, and the garages. She'd been down to check on the burgeoning farms of the Wretched with Saxa in a sling so that they could see her. The Pups were the most accepting, they crowded around her when they were in their caves, outstretched hands anxiously waiting to hold her. They called her their sister and made Dag's heart feel overfull.

The drums for the shift change signals Axle and Ish to get up. They have a scav shift for the first time since they started shadowing The Dag. They're supposed to be taking out a green team, show them how it's done.

The Dag sits up, holding Saxa close, as her Boys shuffle around, stalling. Folding her legs under her she stands with a hand from Axle.

"Bring me back something good," she steps closer to Axle and wraps an arm around him. "Bring yourselves back in one piece." She motions for Ish who joins the group hug. "Don't worry about Saxa and me, we have plenty of people watching out for us."

"None as good as us," Ish grumbles. "'Cept maybe Nux," he amends as she leans into his shoulder. This, she thinks, is what progress looks like.

"Come on, she doesn't need us smothering her," Axle grabs Ish by the back of the neck. If he lets his bondmate linger, they'll never get to their shift on time.

The Dag watches them leave, and pats Saxa on the back.

"You'll learn about this too soon," she tells her, "saying goodbye is never easy. At least not to the people who matter."

Nux passes Ish and Axle on his way to the mess hall. Ish grabs him and bumps their foreheads together in a quick pass. They rub shoulders with him on the way down, a greeting and a farewell.

When he gets back to G1, The Dag is swinging her legs off the side of Crusader while Angharad tries her best to quietly fix the flags she knocked off getting off the loading dock last driving practice. Oliver is rocking Saxa in his arms as Tobbit makes faces at her. The silence of the usually bustling garage would be strange, but instead it merely tips Nux off. It tells him that Saxa has been crying and now they were afraid of making her start up again so they went about their work as quietly as possible.

"We heard your sprog clear over in G5, crying her big blues out, and came to see what the fuss was about," Oliver explains in a sing song voice that is at odds with the scarred and stapled counterweight.

"She was just wet is all, changed her linen and she was fine, but Oli over here kept acting like it was the end of the world again," The Dag tells him. Nux shares a look with the 'weights and it's quite expressive even with their faces being covered in clay and grease. Saxa's crying never failed to make him ache. He guessed it was the same for the others. Capable said they would spoil her with their coddling.

Dag slides off the top of the rig, and down far enough for Nux to reach her and lift her down. Her boots clunk on the ground. She watches as the counterweights screw up their faces for Saxa's amusement.

"Want one of your own?" She asks with a slight smirk. Tobbit shakes his head.

"Too much responsibility. 'Sides, don't think I could handle the crying. 'Specially not from you lil shiny," he crows at her.

"Here, we should be getting back even though spending the rest of the afternoon with this darlin' would be better than training green Boys," Oliver sighs as he hands Nux the baby.

"Everyone has to start somewhere," Angharad calls down from her perch.

"You ever train barely grown Pups? When you do then we'll see if you're still singing that tune," Tobbit snorts.

"Later," Oliver says as he slides his hand across Nux's lower back, right above his pants. The gesture tickles at the back of his mind and when he realizes, he looks over just in time to see Oliver grin at him before he turns the corner with Tobbit in tow.

The Dag catches Nux's peculiar expression and wants to ask what he's thinking but right as she opens her mouth to say something Charcoal drops a large wrench, the sound spooks Saxa into giving a tremulous wail.

It's not until she's in bed with Cheedo nestled into one side and Saxa on the other, that she remembers Nux's face, wide eyed and surprised. She wonders what prompted it, but other than Oliver's touch, and Saxa in his arms, there wasn't anything that would've produced that kind of response. Almost sheepish? But pleased too, and a bit of...remembrance. Something forgotten then.

Cheedo reaches out to smooth the wrinkles on Dag's forehead.

"What are you thinking about?" Cheedo whispers. The Dag slips her hand over Cheedo's hip and down across her lower back.

"Of the ways in which we express desire," Dag says dreamily. This too is progress, she yawns. To want more.

Chapter Text

Angharad spits out blood, wipes the excess of it with the back of her hand and barely dodges the next blow. She's breathing hard, has been at this for a while, but even the sting of dust in her lungs isn't going to make her back down. Across from her, Diesel watches her for vulnerabilities, keen eyes scrutinize every tremble in her arms and the step of her feet. He's tall, not as tall as Nux, but tall enough that she has to look up to see his face. He's bulky where she's slim, and this is his first fight of the day, whereas this is her third. He has a reputation to uphold, but she has respect to gain.

All Imperators did their time in the fighting pits, Furiosa had told her. Angharad wanted a new world, wanted one without so much violence, and the irony was that she had to fight for that. Had to bleed and sweat and cry a new one into existence. And she'll do it. She'll take all of the pain, can take it, if it's for the right reason, the only reason that's ever mattered. For hope.

Diesel charges at her, and she squares her feet, anchors her weight, and grins. She sees his perplexed look right before she uses his momentum to throw him over her, calls upon the deep well of strength coursing through her, and quickly gets out of the way of his rebounding kick. The crowd watching cheers, and their voices chant her name.

Angharad! Splendid! Angharad!

The name her mother gave her mixes with the one Joe slapped her with. The Splendid Angharad. His voice rasped it out every time he visited them in the Vault, he meant it as an endearment, but it always felt dirtier than any of his touching. She grew to hate it. Just one more reminder that she didn't belong to herself. She wouldn't let Joe have that piece of her anymore. She could be Splendid, would take back the meaning of it. It had meant untouchable, prize, trophy. It meant her body was property.

Diesel manages to get her under him, his legs bracket hers, arms pinned down. She waits until he has both her hands in one of his, waits for him to pull his arm back, fist raised, and then she thrusts her pelvis up, hips out wide, jostles him off balance. It's enough for her to swing on top of him, to jam her elbow across his face.

They'll always try to get you under them, Furiosa had warned. Let them think they have you, let them believe you've been subdued, then fight back. She had known this of course, in a different context. She had said the same thing to Capable when the red-head would fight so hard Imperators had to hold her down. Survive, she had said to soothe her sister's shaking, survive first. By any means necessary, she whispered. Then she had shouted it at Toast after the new 'wife' had cut her hair. Stay alive, she cried at her, stay alive or you let them win! And when The Dag had asked how long Angharad had been alone, how long it took for her to pretend to be complacent, she all but snarled, too long. Then Cheedo arrived, untouched, so young, so kind, and something in Angharad snapped. Not this one, she vowed, he won't have her. She won't have to learn how to fight back by laying down, and letting him take her obedience. I'll kill him first, she thought, I'll die first.

Diesel catches her across the cheek hard, snapping her head back. She crumples to the ground. He stops for a second, thinks she's done. He doesn't know that she runs on rage most days. Out here, everything hurts.

She pins his leg between her shins and twists, if she can keep him off balance she might be able to get in a knockout hit. She pushes herself up off the ground, staggers a bit and ducks. War Boys tend to get a second wind, Luther had told her, you'll feel it too. It's that last push, the drive to not back down, to make it out alive. You ever feel that before, he asked. Every day, she answered.

Her arms are up, shielding her from his fists. She abruptly squats, and he overextends, just enough for her to shove her weight at him, to topple them both. The air whooshes out of him, and then she strikes out, her fist colliding with his face. Her knuckles are already split, their blood mixes on his face. He flips them over, surprises her, but she head butts him, shoves him off.

Splendid! Angharad! Splendid!

Miss Giddy had told her the definition of her name as she hugged the elderly woman one last time before they escaped. It means glorious, she had whispered into her ear, her frail hands holding her close. It means victorious.

Splendid breathes in and rolls to her feet. She darts out fast, faster than Diesel expects, and her fist hits with every horrible moment she's overcome. Diesel hits the ground hard. He doesn't black out, but it's near enough that he can't get to his feet. It's over.

The after is like a dream, the rush of Capable putting her arm around her, Furiosa parting the War Boys, many claps on the back. Adrenaline brimming to burst. Her name drowning out any other sound. Nux's skeleton face. Then the warmth of the bath.

"This is familiar," Capable murmurs almost too low for Nux to catch.

"What is?" He turns when she starts unwrapping Angharad's linen.

"Capable, my hands still work," Angharad bats her away.

"The aftermath," Furiosa says quietly. She moves towards him and then oh, she's, with her hands, hugging him. She's never hugged him before. It's weird and he doesn't understand, but she gives him a squeeze and then lets go. "Capable, let's go find Dag, we're going to need salve," she turns her fierce eyes on him, and that he understands.

He has salve in his pants pocket, all the War Boys do.

"Nux? Could you bring me some water?"

He holds out the full cup to her without looking at her.

"Nux?"

He hesitantly finds her eyes with his. One of hers is swollen, and he bets it's purpling under the war paint.

"Yes, Angharad?"

"Join me?" She licks at her split lip. He hauls himself onto the stone and swings his legs over the side, dipping into the pool of water, pants and all. She turns towards him and he dips his hands in the water to scoop some. And with utmost gentleness he starts working at washing the clay off of her face. She winces and hisses in pain but endures his care taking.

He feels nostalgic when red clay gives way to darkening bruises. Slit used to throw fits when he would try to take stock of his injuries after being in the pits, but this, the slow emergence of bare skin, this was familiar to him.

"We need to wrap your knuckles. You'll probably scar," he gets out to grab the medical linen out of one of the chests. When he turns back around, she's sitting on the edge of the bath, naked and glistening. He gets a good look at the scar on her abdomen, the large split down her middle.

"What's one more," she says, her mouth doing that half-smile she does to make light of hard things. He gets the tin out of his wet pocket, and starts to dab salve on her knuckles. "Maybe one day, you'll fight with me, in the pits," she peers up at him.

"Tag team? You'd want to?" He tries to keep his delight over the idea hidden but she laughs a throaty sound.

"We'd shred them all. War Boys," she huffs fondly, "all you ever think about is driving, fighting, and rutting."

"What else is there?" He teases back.

"What's this about rutting?" Capable asks as she enters the room to see Angharad completely naked and Nux spreading salve around her bad eye.

"Nothing about rutting," Nux huffs out. Capable and Angharad share a look. Nux knows that once they start talking about rutting, they'll go on and on until he's uncomfortable in his pants and has to leave.

Capable wraps her arms around Angharad's shoulders.

"Maybe one day, we'll tag team him in bed," she whispers into the red-head's ear. Capable's eyes light up with amusement.

Nux hears them giggle and knows it's at his expense but that's okay. He doesn't ever think he's heard an Imperator laugh like that, Angharad will be the first.

Chapter Text

Toast stares at Issot's sleeping face for all of a minute before rudely shaking him awake. He comically flails a bit before he realizes it's her, and then groans as he rolls back over.

"There's no fanging way I overslept, which means yer too damn early," he huffs at her quietly so as not to disturb the others sleeping around him.

"I have something I want to show you," she whispers back, and shoves him over, gives herself enough space to lay down on her side.

Issot rolls over slowly, so as not to shoulder or elbow her in the face. The bunks weren't really made for two but most bunk mates slept wound tightly against each other, whereas he doesn't want to touch her more than necessary.

"And ya couldn't have shown me later?"

"Nope," she answers with a grin. He hates it when she grins, because he'll do just about anything she wants, if only she'll keep grinning at him. Stupid, he knows, but he'll take the ribbing from the others, they're just jealous she checks in on him.

"Fine," he grumbles.

Toast is nervous about the big reveal of her car. She's been working hard on it, and Nux cleared her for driving two days ago. Cheedo and Yep checked it over, approved the modifications themselves, so she wasn't worried about it performing. No, she worries that Issot will turn her down, and while she's told herself it's a possibility, it would still be disappointing. She gets into G2 where her vehicle, Valor, is parked and takes a deep breath.

"Look, in six days Angharad will be an official Imperator," she starts as he blankly stares at her. "In seven days she'll be riding out on her first run to Gas Town. I'll be going with her, in this," she pats her car, "and I want you to ride with me."

He stares some more.

She starts to sweat.

Then, like a switch has gone off, his shoulders tighten up as if bracing for a hit and he sucks in a breath.

"What?" He squeezes out through a throat gone tight.

"I put in a lancer's perch, see," she steps around to the back and gets on it. "I had Yep check it out personally, and he even helped me put in some of the mods. It has sliding shields," Toast demonstrates by putting her hand on a handle and lifting so that the shield goes up, covering her front. "There's two more on the sides. I talked with some of the older lancers and they say most of the danger comes from fire or arrow bolts. There's sheaths for eight lances, and-"

"Toast, wait, I.." Issot holds onto the rails of the car as if he might fall without support. It's the first time he's called her anything other than Shiny. She crosses her arms and leans on the top of the side shield. She quirks an eyebrow. "Ya want me to be yer lancer?" He sounds so lost.

"Well, yeah. I didn't wake any other lancer up did I?"

Issot looks around just to be sure.

"Ya really want me?"

"Issot, will you ride with me on the Fury Road?" Toast holds out her hand for him, and he claps his into it.

"Ta wherever the road will take us," he answers. It sounds like an old promise, something War Boys said to each other. "Didn't think I'd ever get to do something as chrome as ride with a Shiny, let alone be handpicked by one."

"If you blow us up, I'm gonna come after you in whatever afterlife there is," she deadpans at him, and he nods quickly. "Good, just so we get that out of the way," she grins, and he's having trouble keeping up with her changing moods but he's grinning now too. "Besides, I'm a green driver, for all you know I'll put us in a ditch and we'll go out in a fiery explosion," she pats his arm at his stunned expression, and makes for ground level for her morning run. She smiles to herself, she's kept her promise to Lem.

There are a few key words that when uttered, cause Nux to immediately start eavesdropping. Usually, he tunes out the War Boy chatter around him unless there's Pups underfoot. Slit used to say that he had his head in the clouds, which he always found to be a ridiculous statement, since how the fuck would his head ever get up there? Nonetheless, when there's a car in front of him, he's steadfast in his devotion to it. Except when he starts hearing a combination of words such as "Shiny", "rut", and "lancer". Then he pays attention.

"Sort of an odd choice that, but she'd know best I s'pose," Charcoal says to Seven.

"Think she'll rut him?" Seven asks from under the hood of one of the patrol vehicles that will accompany Angharad's Rig.

"Not everyone does that," Charcoal points out.

"Most though, din't you?" Seven slides out and sits up.

"Aye, but Vipe wasn't a Shiny," Charcoal says.

Nux wants to say something, but he isn't sure what. Angharad beats him to it.

"What are you two going on about?" She leans out of the driver's side of her Rig. Seven ducks his head at being caught gossiping.

"Wonderin' 'bout Toast and Issot. New driver-lancer pair. Most uh, celebrate, by, ya kno, rutting," he says sheepishly.

"Ahhh, is this a tradition?" She glances around to see how many driver-lancer pairs are in her garage bay.

"An unspoken one, kinda just happens," Rev pipes up from where he's been shaving the spikes on the side of the Rig to deadly points.

"Kinda my ass," Tosser mutters to himself on the other side.

Angharad bites back a laugh.

"The Little Shiny isn't about to go rutting Issot when she's got Nux warming her bed," Charcoal throws himself back into the conversation. All eyes turn to Nux.

"Oi, leave me out of this," he growls as he feels Angharad's gaze on him.

"Ya got prior claim," Seven smirks at him.

"I ain't claiming no one," he sighs. "Toast does what and who she wants, when and how she wants 'em."

"Damn straight," Toast's voice catches them all by surprise. She saunters in and beelines for him. "Yep wants you to give Valor a once over," she tells him.

Nux groans.

"But I've gone over it three times now, and you have, and Cheedo, and Yep. Why the hell doesn't he look it over if he's worrying about it?" He asks frustrated.

She shrugs. His shoulders slump but he follows her out.

"I lied," she says as they get halfway to G2.

"What?"

"Yep doesn't need you, I wanted to make sure you weren't," she wrinkles her nose, "upset, or something, about choosing Issot as my lancer. Didn't want to ask you in a room full of nosy War Boys." She scuffs her boot on the floor and pulls him close to the wall she's leaning on. He notices not for the first time, that she's very small in height.

"Well, there's not much choice left of lancers," he winks at her. She elbows him. "Do you want to rut him?" His voice does something scratchy without his permission.

"No. Would it bother you if I did?" She tucks herself into him, and he cups her jaw so he can see her eyes.

"S'your choice, always." Her eyes go sweet.

"That's not an-"

"Maybe. I don't know. Have to make sure he was good enough," he shifts his weight. "You're not a thing to claim," he adds.

"Not to claim, but I'm still..." her nose crinkle reappears as she thinks. He sort of wants to bite it. "I don't know how to say it other than, I'm yours. I know," she stops his rebuff, "I'm not a thing. But I think I can be a person, and still be a part of you."

"Then I'm yours too, has to be fair," he leans down, far, to press his forehead against hers. Luckily she saw his intention and went up on tiptoes to meet him halfway.

"Okay," she says and then slides her nose alongside his so she can kiss him. Once she has him breathless, she licks his nose, pats his ass, and all but skips away.

He's glad for her, that she has a lancer, and that it's Issot. He wouldn't begrudge her that. Doesn't even think that if she wanted to rut him, that he'd be anything but concerned that he pleased her right.

Going soft, he hears Slit whisper.

Ya liked me soft, he thinks.

He stops by G2 later to see if someone walked off with a box of bolts by accident, and sees Issot in the lancer's perch of Valor. Toast is sitting in the driver's seat, laughing at something he's said as he gestures wildly.

Remember, Slit's voice filters into his head, our first ride?

Couldn't ever forget it.

Chapter Text

Capable and Cheedo are laughing sweetly at Saxa as the baby plays with a lock of Capable's flame red hair. It's a rare moment of downtime, shifts ending early, and everyone being in the same place at the same time. Toast and Angharad have their feet dipped into the pool, while Angharad puts random braids into The Dag's hair. Nux is mending a hole in his pants next to her.

Toast sees the longing on Capable's face, and lifts her foot to playfully splash water droplets onto her, careful to miss Saxa.

"Capable you could just have your own," Toast teases lightly. Capable blushes.

"It's not like I don't have Pups to look after," she sighs, "but I do love their little faces," she presses kisses to Saxa's stomach, making the baby gurgle happily.

"The face part is nice," The Dag grins.

"Think you'll want another?" Capable asks her, and Dag laughs a sharp sound.

"I'm content with just the one," her gaze softens as Saxa yawns.

"Cheedo?" Capable nudges her.

"Not sure yet, didn't think...well, that I'd have a choice about it," she offers a smile of gratitude to Angharad.

"Choosing is important. It's everything," Angharad swishes her feet in the water.

"What about you?" Toast flicks water at Nux.

"What about me?" he ties off the string, looking over it to make sure the hole is closed.

"Do you think you'll want a sprog?"

Nux looks at Toast, and then pointedly looks at Saxa, then back at Toast.

The Dag reaches out to grab his face so she can kiss his cheek.

"I already have one," he grins at Dag and surprise kisses her on the lips. She makes a happy squeak that turns everyone's hearts to mush. Disgustingly cute, is how Angharad describes them.

"I know that, I meant one of your own making." Toast looks over at Capable, who is failing to look disinterested. It wasn't a secret that Capable wanted to be a mother at some point, yet somehow Nux had failed to pick up on it.

"Nope," he answers in that matter of fact way, easily and assured. Capable freezes and Angharad quickly tries to salvage her sister's feelings.

"Not even a little?" Angharad asks gently. Her tone must tip him off to something because his forehead furrows and he tilts his head.

"Thought about it sure, but my thoughts don't matter. I can't," he answers.

"You can't?" Cheedo asks for Capable, who is having a difficult time getting her emotions under control.

"None of us can. Well, I suppose the green Boys and the Pups will be able to. The ones leftover from Immortan Joe's reign can't though. We've all been fixed." He looks around at the confused faces of the Shinies and realizes that this is something they didn't know.

"Fixed how?" Toast finally asks.

"Was part of becoming a War Boy. Ya'd go down to the Organic, and he'd fix your breeding parts so you couldn't stud. Sometimes a full life War Boy would be picked, and they wouldn't have to. I'm not a full life so I can't stud."

Shocked silence follows his last word. Nux starts to get an uneasy feeling in his ribs. He turns to Capable, and is stunned when he sees water welling in her eyes.

"Capable," he reaches for her but she makes an abrupt movement and stands up.

"Sorry, I..." she trails off as she rushes from the room.

"Capable," he calls after her and starts to stand, to follow her, but The Dag grabs his legs and holds firm.

"Let her have some space," she says. Nux looks so distraught but he stays put, staring at the afterimage of her fleeing.

"I don't understand what I said wrong." They fall silent, none of them knowing how exactly to clue him in without stepping over Capable's feelings.

"You didn't say anything wrong, really you didn't," The Dag tries to soothe him.

"I've never made her cry before," he says forlornly. Nausea churns in his stomach, the sensation making him want to fling himself into the fighting pits.

"She's crying for a future she now knows she won't have," Angharad's eyes hold sadness. "She's hurt, but understand Nux, you didn't hurt her."

He grimaces at her, not fully understanding, but Angharad doesn't lie, and he trusts her. If she says he didn't hurt Capable, then he didn't. But that doesn't change the water coming from her eyes.

"But why?" He gestures at the Vault door, and Cheedo shakes her head.

"Isn't ours to tell."

"Go on, let him go. Capable never stays upset for long," Angharad tells The Dag.

"I should apologize to her later, I didn't realize," Toast grimaces as Nux rushes past.

"None of us did," Cheedo feels the downy fluff of Saxa's hair.

Nux peers into Furiosa's office and is grateful when the High Imperator points upwards. He takes the stairs to the roof two at a time. Not very far into the gardens, he spots Capable's hair, just above the peppers patch.

"Capable?"

Her curls bounce as she turns her head, tears streaking her face. She reaches for him and he goes to her, gathers her up in his lap as she cries. Before he can start apologizing, she sobs her own out.

"I'm so sorry! Here you are talking about this terrible thing that's been done to you and I make it all about me," her tears wet his chest.

"Will you tell me what upset you?" He strokes her hair away from her face.

"It's stupid, it's going to sound ridiculous," she hides her face, not wanting him to see her fall apart. Nux holds in a sigh as he tries to figure out how to get her to talk to him. He still feels vaguely sick over being the cause of her tears, and wants to remedy the problem as fast as he can.

"Are you upset 'cuz something happened to me?"

She nods her head.

"But that's not all of it. I," she takes a deep breath, "thought, maybe, one day, I'd like to have a baby of my own making. I'd like to be a mother in our new world. And I..." she starts crying again, but Nux is lost envisioning Capable rounded with a sprog.

"You what? You can tell me anything Capable," he assures her. She grips onto him tighter.

"I thought if we made a baby together, that when you go to Valhalla, I would have a piece of you still," her voice goes small, like she's ashamed to have wanted this. His throat goes tight.

Nux suddenly gets irrationally angry that he can't do this for her, that he can't give her everything she wants.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything," she rubs at her eyes and tries to catch her breath.

"I'm sorry, that I can't stud for you. It's never even crossed my mind that you, that any of you, would want that from me, not after the other stuff." Nux tries to imagine a bunch of Pups running around that are his. It doesn't seem much different from now when he goes down into the nursery caves.

"It's just that you're going to leave me one day, and I won't have anything left of you. And I'm afraid of that," she tries to scoot closer, but any closer and she'll be burying herself inside of him.

He tries to get his words right, because he wants to console her, but this is important, and he doesn't want to mess it up. He takes a steadying breath and is pleased when he doesn't cough on the exhale.

"I should have died on the Fury Road," he starts. She makes a protesting sound, tries to squirm to see him but he holds her still. "No, listen. I should have died on the Fury Road with Slit. It's how we always thought we'd go out. And you changed that, you changed everything. Every moment I have is something you've given me. All of it. You've given me everything Capable. Couldn't ask more from the world than that. You don't have to be afraid, 'cuz my name's gonna live on. And you, you're going to live on."

"It isn't fair," she sniffles and moves back so she can see his face. He remembers when Toast had said the very same thing.

"Can't think like that. We're here, yeah? And even if it's just for a little while, I got to be loved by you. By all of you." And that's more than enough. That's a gas tank overfull.

They hear a soft hitch, and turn to see Angharad standing by the towering pole beans.

"I came to see if you were okay, didn't mean to overhear," she wipes at her tears. She laughs at Nux's stricken expression, can only guess that one crying Shiny is already too much, let alone two. "S'not sad crying," she reassures him. He looks understandably wary.

Capable is sitting in between Nux's legs, so Angharad plops down in Capable's lap, her arms going around her.

"I'm sorry," the soon-to-be Imperator relaxes into Capable's hold.

"Why are you sorry?" Capable feels Nux's hand on Angharad's back, and her heart brims with affection.

"Because when the Organic told me I couldn't get pregnant anymore, I was relieved, and I feel guilty about it when I see how much you want it," and okay maybe she's sad crying now, but she's not about to tell Nux that.

Nux hears the change in Angharad's voice and wonders if this is the world's way of balancing all of the good in his life. Soggy Shinies.

"Oh no, Angharad don't be sorry about that, please, don't ever be sorry about that." They grip each other, and Nux thinks he should slip away, let them have their moment, but they move as one as hug him together. Their tears are smearing his war paint, but it's the most inconsequential thing.

A sudden light shining on them, causes them to jump.

"What're you all doing up here?" Orsa asks with a hand on one hip, the other holding her shotgun which has a light affixed to it.

"Being angry at past wrongs," Angharad lifts her chin.

"Letting go to make room for a new future," Capable adds with a small smile.

"Getting watered," Nux says and Orsa laughs at that one.

"Ah. Thought y'all was having a good fuck up here and Aife told me to come down and make sure you didn't accidentally roll into the peppers. Still have some good harvests to come out of them yet."

Nux could swear he felt his blush down to his toes.

"Sadly, nothing that fun. We should get back anyway, the others will be worried," Angharad gives the Vuvalini a wink.

When they get back to the Vault, Toast starts apologizing for sticking her foot in her mouth while Cheedo wipes the smeared war paint off of Capable's face. The Dag is already out snoozing with Saxa in their bed. One by one they make their way to her, curling up and sinking into their blankets. Nux feels too fidgety to lay down, so he paces for a bit. He doesn't want to wake them though, so he steps outside.

A shaky gasp spins him around and towards Furiosa's room. He can make out her silhouette and the trembling of her shoulders. He's instantly on guard and does a quick scan for an intruder.

"Imperator," he calls out to her, not wanting to startle her. She looks up sharply.

"Nux?"

"It's me," he steps into her room.

"What are you doing up?" She rubs her head a couple of times.

"Can't sleep. You either?" He goes over to her and sits down cross legged in front of her. He always feels funny when he's addressing her and he's taller. He's always taller, but it doesn't seem right to be. She's gripping onto the edges of her bed.

"The past won't leave me alone," she divulges. "What was going on earlier?" She watches as he shrinks in on himself.

"Capable wanted me to stud for her. They didn't know we got fixed."

"Something we have in common," she nods at him. "Feels strange doesn't it? To have something taken away from you that you didn't even know you wanted. Even worse, to have something taken away you didn't want, and still have been wronged."

"Makes me feel like shit." Being brutally honest with an Imperator would be strange, but this is Furiosa. If anyone knows the pains of being a War Boy, it's her.

She hums, knows the feeling all to well.

"Furiosa?"

"Hm?"

"Let me watch your back tonight?"

The offer sparks a memory, a brief fleeting flash of a sensation, Ace's back against hers as she slept.

"Alright." She slides over and lays back down, faces the window. She doesn't flinch when his shoulders fit against hers. Even though his body is lax, preparing for sleep, she can hear tension in his breathing, like his shoulders are wound tight. "You're not broken," she whispers.

He's glad she can't see the drop of water that slides down his nose.

Chapter Text

Nux isn't sure what's he's doing outside of the barracks. Okay, that's not true, he knows why he's here, but his stomach is in knots and he thinks maybe this is a bad idea. He's had worse ideas. A lot of them in fact. Comparatively this ranks pretty low on the bad idea scale. Still, it can't be the best idea, can it?

All week he's been stealing glances, he can't help it anymore, not now that he knows it's being offered. It's not like he's hard up for it, what with Capable and all, but she can't give him this, in particular.

And for once, he wants something unashamedly.

Squaring his shoulders he steps into familiar quarters. War Boys are sprawled out in their bunks, some working on small parts, still working long after shifts have ended. Some are sleeping. Most are relaxing, using the time before sleep to chat. He sifts his way through the caves, peering in each one. A few of the Boys watch him with interest, and even look down when he walks by. He's not an Imperator, not by far, but they have a healthy respect for him all the same. He looks over them until he sees who he's searching for, and just looking forces a bit of blush into his cheeks.

He remembers the ghost of fingers at his lower back, and want churns within him, stronger than his nervousness.

Tobbit sees Nux peer into the bunks and grins. He elbows Oliver, who's behind him with an arm slung over his eyes.

"Oof! What?" Oliver blusters, not bothering to uncover his eyes.

"Think this one's looking for ya," Tobbit tries to stifle his shit eating grin, he really does, but he's had to listen to Oliver speculate over Nux for the past twenty days. His bondmate doesn't normally fuss so much over someone.

"Who's looking for me?" Oliver sits up and spots Nux just as he enters the room. "Go sleep with Uri tonight," he pushes at Tobbit, who gives him an incredulous look.

"Are you serious?" He groans as Oliver nudges him out of the bunk. "But Uri snores," he whines as he gets up. He rubs his shoulder against Nux's as he passes, and sees the grateful head tilt in return.

"Hey," Nux leans against the side of his bunk.

"Hey," Oliver peers up at him. Fucker's tall, he thinks, as he touches his lips in amusement and sees Nux's eyes hone in on them. Ah, this is gonna be fun.

Nux has no clue how to do this, he's never solicited this from any other War Boy besides Slit, and Slit was easy. On the very few occasions that they'd rut someone else together, it was always Slit who'd asked.

Oliver waits for him to say something, but notices the black thumb's flustered expression and has to bite his cheek to keep from laughing and spooking him. He gets a finger in one of his belt loops and pulls him down to sit next to him. He's very glad that their bunk is one of the roomier ones.

"Is this what you wanted?" Oliver asks, leaning in to Nux, and grabbing his head to graze his lips against Nux's scarred ones. He doesn't want to assume, but he's good at reading body language.

This is a good idea, Nux briefly thinks as he relaxes into Oliver and swipes his tongue across his mouth in answer. He reaches out to steady himself, and his fingers glide over the staples on Oliver's chest. The long horizontal scar right below his collarbone sports eight staples. Then further down, on his right side, above his hip, he has a set of three.

Oliver presses eagerly into Nux's fingers, enjoying how they catch on the gnarled bit of scars underneath his staples. This part, the getting a feel for one another, the beginning of a good fuck, never lasted long enough for him. Most War Boys wanted to get on with it, impatient or pent up, and while it had been a while for him, he preferred it slower.

Nux sighs as Oliver strokes a hand down his chest and then grabs his hip to bring him closer. He's gotten so used to rounded curves and soft skin, that the rough brush of Oliver's chest against his is an old but new again feeling.

Oliver smiles into a hard kiss. Nux is practically vibrating under his hands like he's been starved for his, and he wonders if all the gossip of him rutting the Shinies is false. Maybe Cheedo will give him the real truth later, because someone who's been fucking five chrome full-lifes on the regular, wouldn't be this needy. Not that he minds, he rather likes this.

He'd heard of Nux before his crew arrived at the Citadel. Didn't know what he looked like, and thought that the War Boy who'd traitored the Immortan and aided Furiosa would be haughty, and arrogant. Instead, he found a humble black thumb, who was adored by the former wives, and shy until you started talking shop, then wouldn't stop chattering. Not intimidating unless you made the error of speaking ill of the Shinies, then he was a whirlwind of anger, unflinching, and merciless. Nux intrigued him, and he wasn't shy about letting Boys know he was interested. It wasn't the first time he'd pushed Tobbit out of their bunk, and it wouldn't be the last.

Nux knows they have an audience, is used to the eyes that follow him now, can bet that at least a few are avidly drinking in the show. It'll be hot news tomorrow. He doesn't care what they think because Oliver is gently biting his bottom lip, and blood is quickly rushing south. He's missed this.

Oliver jerks at Nux's hand palming his dick through his pants. He groans when he feels Nux's grin, the scars on his lips quirking upwards. Not too shy then, he thinks. He tilts his head back when Nux's mouth wanders over the warpaint on his neck.

Nux's mouth might be watering a bit at having Oliver's neck all bared for him. He sets his teeth into the junction of his neck and shoulder, and is rewarded with a sucked in breath. Somewhere in their groping Nux wound up half on top of Oliver, and he shamelessly rubs himself agains the other.

Oliver arches into Nux's writhing. He's so ridiculously hard, if they don't get a move on things he's worried he's not going to last. He hadn't expected to be this close to coming in his pants like some green Boy who's never been touched before. But Nux has one hand half in the front part of his pants, and the other digging into his chest, all the while laving a soothing lick over a bite, and he really can't be blamed.

"Do ya, mm, have a preference or...?" Oliver rasps into his ear.

Preference? Nux pauses and tries to form some sort of coherent thought. Oh. The fluttering in his stomach intensifies.

"Not really, but, I..." he sits back a little, embarrassment plain on his face.

Oliver is never going to admit that Nux is adorable, nope, not ever. It's just that his wide blue eyes, and the delicious way he's fidgeting, kind of, does things for him.

"But ya do today?"

Nux nods.

"Ya gonna make me guess?" Oliver traces the cut of his hip bone. He really wants to ask Cheedo if Nux gets like this in bed with them, because how do they ever leave the bed if he does? He's not sure whether he wants to rut him or snuggle him, and it's kind of messing him up.

Which is why he isn't prepared at all when Nux licks a stripe up his neck and practically growls, "Fuck me."

Nux feels Oliver's dick twitch against his thigh. He wants to know what it feels like, it's been so long since he's had this. He starts unbuckling the belts that are wrapped around his hips. Oliver helps him once the work belts are off, and with the easy pop of the button and zipper, slips his pants down. Before Oliver can react, he leans down and gets his mouth around the tip of him.

"Holy shit," Oliver almost yelps. He can feel Nux's tongue licking at him, tracing the vein on the underside and giving a little twirl at the head. His hips jerk up when Nux starts a soft suck. It's so good, the pretty hollow of his cheeks, and the sleekness of his mouth. He holds himself still as he watches Nux's scared lips slide down the length of him.

Nux spent a great deal of time learning how to by pass his gag reflex, and is more than a little proud of himself when he tries it out on Oliver. He likes having this kind of power, rendering a War Boy a twitching, cursing, mess, with just his mouth. Oliver's hand is lightly caressing his head, not holding, just petting. He doesn't know that Nux likes this rough too, so he grabs Oliver's hand and holds it down, bobbing his head while he does.

Oliver throws his head back and nearly brains himself on the wall. Pleasure is coursing to his gut, curling warm and hot. He holds Nux down on him, and the answering moan flutters around his dick, it's almost too much.

"Fuck, come here, come here," he guides Nux's face back to his and then goes for his belts. Why the shit does he have so many, Oliver grumbles internally. Once his pants are finally off, their bare skin rubs together, dicks sliding, and Nux makes a sound that's going to haunt him for nights to come. "Let me," Oliver twists to get ahold of his pants. He rifles through the pockets, and misses the right one twice because Nux is licking at the staples on his chest.

Nux's mouth goes dry when he sees the metal bottle Oliver is uncapping. His breath hitches as Oliver gets the oil on his fingers, and then his mouth is pressing back against his, harsh and strained, like he's waited too long to have him. He jolts a bit at the slight pressure of a finger at his hole.

"Shh, here," Oliver bites out, like words are difficult, and moves them so Nux has his hands on the wall and is on his knees, Oliver right behind him. "You'll tell me if it's too much, ya?"

"Ya," Nux breaths out as Oliver pushes a finger in. His shoulders tighten up a bit, but Oliver nuzzles his face into the space between his shoulders, and he tries to loosen them up. To his left he hears the unmistakable sound of a moan, and it heats his skin. He remembers this, one couple setting off another, setting off another, until the caves were moaning and writhing together, the smell of sex thick in the air.

Oliver starts a steady in and out, makes sure his fingers are plenty oiled, and only when Nux pushes back, does he slip a second one in.

Nux is never patient enough for this part, the slow stretch. He always tries to hurry it up. He wonders what will get Oliver to abandon his gentleness. Fingers curl in him and brush up against that spot he'd forgotten about. It forces a startled noise out of him.

"V8," Oliver mutters behind him and does it again. Electric pleasure sparks up his spine, races to his dick which leaks pre-come.

"Please, please, Oliver," Nux pleads, hips pushing backward.

Begging, is apparently also something that revs his engine. Oliver can barely get his shaking hand around his dick to oil it up.

Nux waits an eternity before Oliver sinks the tip inside him, and oh, oh fuck.

The hurt noise Nux makes, like it's not enough, has Oliver pressing in deeper, steady and sure. Nux is trembling, and now that he has his hands free, Oliver wraps one across his chest, the other braces himself on the wall.

Oliver's breath sweeps across the back of Nux's neck, hot puffs of air. He groans, and realizes that they're being loud, but there's no way he's going to silence the whimpery noises Nux is making.

Nux feels a drip of sweat slide down his back as Oliver starts thrusting.

"S'good?" Oliver asks, and maybe it's unnecessary considering Nux is fucking himself backwards to get more of him, but it never hurts to ask.

"Can you, harder," he groans for an answer.

And shit, Oliver can get behind that. He moves his hand down to grip Nux across his waist, and hammers into him. They're scraping their knees against the stone, but it doesn't matter, not when Nux reaches back to hold him closer.

Nux's entire body lights up, and he drops a hand to touch himself, to rub the slick across the flushed head, and down, enjoys how hard he is.

Oliver shifts a bit, gets his knees in a better position, so that the next thrust hits Nux in his sweet spot.

If any of the War Boys in this particular cave were asleep, they sure aren't now, Nux yelps as Oliver changes the angle.

"Fuck, you feel so good," Oliver mouths at Nux's back.

Nux always had a bit of a hair trigger when it came to praise. His orgasm catches him by surprise, and he spills into his hand and on the wall, as his vision goes blurry.

Oliver is frankly surprised he lasted this long, but he's not one to talk because Nux shudders through his release, and it sparks his own.

His dick twitches like he's trying to get hard again as Oliver's hips jerk roughly into his, but Nux can't possibly go again so he just drinks in the sweet feel of Oliver panting on his back.

"Okay?" Oliver whispers. He pulls out a little too quickly and Nux groans, puts his head against the cool stone.

"Yeah," he says. He gives himself a few moments to breath, to get his heartbeat under control, before he grabs his pants.

Oliver watches as Nux gets his pants back on, and he didn't expect him to stay, but he kind of wants him to.

"You could stay," he offers, in case he thinks he's not wanted.

"They'll worry," Nux says, and Oliver can guess who 'they' is. He grins as the blush creeps back up Nux's face, showing through his smeared war paint.

"They don't know you're here. Did ya sneak out," he sits back against the wall and sees Nux take a long look before answering.

"Didn't sneak out," he rubs his nose. "Not much anyway," he mumbles. Oliver's grin turns concerned.

"S'not gonna cause problems? Wouldn't wanna-'"

"It'll be fine," he says even though he doesn't feel it. He's mostly sure he should've said something before rutting Oliver, but he wanted this for himself. And you didn't want to give them a chance to say no, an awful voice sneaks in the back of his mind.

Oliver's hand darts out to grab his wrist before he leaves. He moves quickly, wraps his other hand around Nux's head and kisses him.

"Come back if you can," he breaths against skeleton lips. Nux slips his tongue in, takes one last taste, and nods.

Oliver falls asleep to the sounds of War Boys finding their release in one another.

Nux finds Toast in his bed, and is relieved it's her. He sits down next to her, and reaches out to touch her arm.

"Toast?"

"Hm?" Toast cracks an eye open and makes out Nux's shape.

"I need to talk with you," he whispers.

Toast is instantly awake.

"What's wrong? Are you okay?" She pushes herself up and reaches for him but he scoots back, just out of her reach. She pulls her hands back. "Nux?"

"I fucked a War Boy," he rushes out, afraid if he doesn't say it quick, he won't say it at all. He waits for her anger.

"What? Who?" She asks and reaches for him again, hopes he'll settle down with her, because hard talks are better when they're touching. "Wasn't Issot was it?"

"What, no, wait, whatdya mean who?" Nux lets her pull him towards her.

"Who'd you rut with?" Curiosity is killing her, and she tries to go through a list of who she thinks it could be.

"Oliver," he answers confused, this wasn't the reaction he thought she'd have.

"Makes sense," she says against his collarbone.

"It does?" Nothing is making sense right now.

"He's quite pretty," she yawns.

"Yeah," he agrees, and the splutters, "you aren't angry?"

"Angry? Why would I be angry?" She tilts her head back until they're nose to nose. It takes a bit of squirming considering he's much taller than she is.

"'Cuz I'm, we're, ya know, together," he tells her.

"Don't you listen to anything I say?" She asks exasperatedly. He stays silent. "You are not a thing to claim. I thought we had this out already," she wiggles her nose.

"So...this is okay?" He licks her nose, he can't help it.

"Erghf," she wipes her nose. "I love you War Boy. And you've said you love me. Yet you love others. You've proven to me over and over again, that we're together. I trust you. If you want to rut another War Boy," she shrugs. "It's nothing to get upset over."

"Toast?"

"Hm?"

"You're amazing."

"I know. Tomorrow, I want details, but right now I want sleep more, yeah?" She fits herself back into him. He holds her close and falls asleep, sated and loved.

Bonus Scene*****

"You couldn't have waited four more days?" Cheedo groans and fishes five pieces of metal out of her pocket and dumps them into The Dag's waiting hand.

"You bet on when I'd rut Oliver?" He feels himself start blushing, and wishes he wouldn't turn red so easily. Luckily, no one can really tell now that war paint is also red.

"We all have two working eyes," Angharad snorts. "You're about as subtle as a wrench to the head."

He looks at Capable for help, but she's laughing into her hands.

"Maybe one day, we can watch," The Dag muses.

"Yes!" Cheedo agrees too quickly. The others start laughing alongside Capable. "What, like you're all immune to how delicious it would be?"

"She has a point," Toast winks at Nux.

"So, whatcha say?" Angharad smiled too widely.

The drums go off and Nux has never been more thankful for a shift working the lifts in his entire life. He darts away before they can ask him anymore questions, knowing that at night they'll be just as curious. He should've known they'd chose curiosity over any other reaction. He should've known to trust them.

Bonus Bonus Scene*****

A night later, Oliver wakes up to a knife across his throat, and a steel-eyed Shiny on the other end of it.

"Hurt him in any way, and I'll gut you while you sleep. Got it?" Toast says lowly.

Oliver nods, afraid speaking will force his throat closer to the sharp edge of the knife.

"Good. Glad we're past that." She removes the knife, pats his arm, and leaves just as quickly as she arrived.

Nux has some spooky bondmates, he thinks to himself as he drifts off back to sleep.

Chapter Text

Capable watches an OM apprentice that can't be much more than 4,000 days old, deftly stitch back together the skin of Tires' palm. As usual, the War Boy is unflinching as the needle pierces his skin and pulls tight with thread. She hadn't been there for the accident, but had coaxed him into telling her about the slice of sharp metal that he had been trying to bend. He tried to get through his shift with his hand bleeding, but gave up when the blood made his hand too slippery to grip anything. Luckily she bumped into him in the tunnels or she'd bet a metal piece that he wouldn't've made it to the medical caves. Instead of watching him stubbornly conceal his pain, she focuses on the apprentice.

Her name is Cannon, she knows everyone by name now, and the lithe Pup has been training under the Organic as well as the couple of medics that stayed on after Carnage left. She's not scarred, or dotted with lumps, not yet anyway, and hopefully never will be. Being part of the medic crew means she has hair, and it's currently pulled back into a little ponytail. Capable may have an utterly soft spot for the gentle Pup, especially since she can navigate the gruff manner of the Organic and cranky War Boys twice her size. She can tell that even Tires is charmed by her, as his fearful mutterings have been non-existent since she started sewing his hand.

"Cannon, how's your brother?"

"Treb? Better now that the Organic has okayed his surgery. S'in eight days. He's very excited ta finally get rid of his breasts. Can't stand them, says they get in the way." She doesn't look up as she finishes by wrapping it in a bandage.

"Couple o' my littermates were switchers. Always thought their scars were chrome," Tires unexpectedly says. Cannon beams at him, and Capable sees him melt for a second before he schools his face back into a half-scowl.

"Alright, War Boy, I think you'll live ta see another day," Cannon pats his shoulder before moving on to her next patient.

"I'm going to stick around here, don't pick at your stitches like you did the last ones," Capable warns as Tires shoots her a put on look.

The med caves were organized better now that there was more than one organic mechanic on duty. Capable passes by the recovery sections and steps into the blood bay. The OM was checking a War Boy's lungs and she stops short when she gets a good look at who it is.

"Organic, could you see if we match?" Capable's voice makes Oliver's head whip up, his green eyes going wide.

"S'all right, ya don't have to do this," Oliver shakes his head at her. She waits while the Organic goes through his black book of blood types, and when he nods at her, sits down.

"I don't get to do this for Nux, we don't match, so I have plenty to spare." She folds her legs under her while the OM fixes the needles into tubes. She doesn't tell him that she's down here as often as she can to donate blood.

Oliver eyes her warily. Except for his brief encounter with the business end of Toast's knife, his dealings with the Shinies were few and far between. He had the most interaction with Cheedo, but she hadn't brought up his night with Nux, so he figured she wasn't bothered by it. Angharad had given him a once over when he dropped by G1 to gossip with Seven, but she also hadn't said anything to him. The Dag was well, The Dag, and he doubted she would object. Out of all of Nux's bondmates, it was the flame haired one he worried about most. Like a chastised Pup, he tried to dodge her whenever he could. Everyone knew it was Capable who had turned a War Boy to traitor, and Oliver wasn't keen on being on the other end of her attention. He looks up briefly, and the interest in her eyes puts him on edge.

Capable watches the War Boy squirm, and wonders if she should leave him be, but she wants to know him better. Nux felt safe enough to know him intimately. That means something. Oliver is good looking, that much she can see. Sharp angles to his cheeks and his hips. Broad shoulders, muscular arms, which wasn't unusual in counterweights. His eyes dart away from hers. He has one long stapled scar across his chest, right below his collarbone, and another smaller one on his hip. None of him is particularly remarkable, but she remembers seeing him grin, and his eyes when he does. Hard not to be charmed by his energy.

She waits until the Organic is done linking them together, the thin tube of blood sits between them. Then she points at his scar.

"Will you tell me about it?" Getting War Boys to speak to her was harder than it looked, but she knew some tricks. Asking them about their scars was one of them.

"This? Got this out in the Waste, bunch of Vults ambushed us. Chainsaw got me on the downswing of the weight. Don't remember much until the staples were in. Tobbit held me the whole way back, otherwise I would've fallen off the damn car." He rubs at the staples. She wants to touch them but restrains herself. Instead she holds up her left hand.

"See the kink in this finger?" She wiggles her middle finger. "The day they brought me up to the Immortan, I kicked Imperator Pocks hard enough in the chin that he dropped me and Imperator Arev grabbed me. I bit him and he yanked me into the wall, and I didn't have enough time to brace myself, so I caught this finger awkwardly. It broke. The Organic tried his best to set it right, but it's been a little crooked every since." She doesn't mention that Joe had Imperator Arev killed for damaging her.

"Aye, two of mine are the same," Oliver holds up the same hand and sure enough, his last two fingers are not straight. "Took a spear for this one. Din't go clean through as I had half a mind to grab onto it. Pulled it out and used it to stab a Buzzard through the eye." He touches his hip scar. The tissue around it is gnarled, like he dragged the spear tip out a different way than it went in.

"I only have one other one," she says, and then pushes the length of linen aside, so her upper thigh is exposed. An incredibly faint pink square shows against fair skin. "Joe used to beat us with his belt. He stopped when the buckle of his belt made me bleed."

"Seen a few Boys with those too." Not so different, he thinks, War Boys and Shinies. He looks at her, and tries to imagine what Nux sees. She's shine, sweet and kind looking. He's seen her carry Pups on her hips, and even the shyest of Boys will speak with her. Seen her growl at War Boys that could break her in half, and not give an inch when they snarl back. She's tough, not in the way Toast and Angharad are, but resilient just the same. Nux saw salvation in her.

"Can I ask you a personal question?" Her voice tugs him away from his musings. Her cheeks are turning the same color as her hair.

"Yea," he says, intrigued.

"When you...did he...how," she lowers her eyes to the tube with her bright blood filling it. "How did he feel," she asks in a hushed voice. Oliver's eyebrows shoot up, while his mouth turns into a smirk.

"Thought you had experience in that," he licks his top teeth. Her blush starts to creep down her neck.

"Maybe that's not the right question," she shakes her head and doesn't meet his eyes. She wants to ask so many things, but isn't sure it's okay, and even if she should be asking them at all. But she wants to be sure of one thing. "Did you take care of him?"

"He came, if that's what you're asking." He frowns when she shakes her head, her curls swaying with the movement.

"No, I'm not questioning your ability to please him. But, did you take care of him?"

Oliver looks into Capable's eyes, and sees a sort of pleading, a need to know. This is what she's worried about. Not that they've fucked, or that Nux has gone outside of whatever bonds they have, but this. Was he cared for. He knows she's not asking about Nux's bodily safety, but something else, a deeper thing that's hard for him to comprehend. Safe, is as close as he can get to what she's asking. Did he keep him safe?

"Yes," he answers, and gratitude turns her mouth into a crescent smile.

"I know, it's hard for War Boys to have the right words for things," she huffs a laugh, "sometimes I don't even have them. But Nux, he's important to me. He's taken a real shine to you, and I wanted to make sure..." her smile turns lopsided.

"That I wasn't taking advantage," Oliver finishes for her.

She feels like she should apologize, but this isn't something she's sorry about, and War Boys were quick to pick up on falsehoods. She fiddles with a bit of fray at the end of her linen, and then winces, the tube connecting them turned just enough for her to feel the bite of the metal in her arm.

"S'posed to keep your hands still," Oliver says, and reaches for her hands to hold in his own.

"Guess I haven't had as much practice with this as I thought." She stares at his painted hands, ruddy red, and rough, as he gently holds hers.

"I don't get as much as some. Only need a tune-up every 400 days or so. At least, I think that's how long it's been. Tobbit would know," he turns his head to the side, thinking.

"Aye, Tobbit would know, s'been 389," Tobbit walks up to them, and Capable tries to get her hands back, unsure of his reaction to seeing his bondmate touching her, but Oliver holds her steady.

"S'posed to keep your hands still," he says again.

"Sorry," she says embarrassed.

"Din't exactly like waking up and finding ya gone. Shook Uri hard enough that he thought we were having a fucking ground shaker before he woke up enough to tell me ya slunk down here." Tobbit whacks the back of Oliver's head in emphasis. Then just as quickly rubs it, a rough caress that he leans in to.

"Just tryna beat the crowd," Oliver explains as he nudges against Tobbit's arm.

"Uh huh," Tobbit grumbles. This is clearly an argument they've had before.

Capable listens to them bicker at each other, biting words that were brushed off with affection. Oliver only let go of her hands when the OM came back around to unhook them. As much as she tried to understand all the different kinds of partnerships and relationships the War Boys had, with each other, and amongst her sisters, try as she might, they were all so different. She takes a look around the medic caves one last time before heading up the stairs.

She bumps into Tires on the way up. He sheepishly doesn't meet her eyes, but holds out his other hand, which now sports an almost identical bleeding cut.

"Tires!" She admonishes.

"What, that piece o'metal isn't gonna bend itself!"

Chapter Text

Furiosa watches Angharad stretch awake, the light steaming in the window illuminates her hair, makes her look like liquid sunshine. Angharad yawns and smiles upon seeing her.

"Why are you not in bed?" She pats the empty space beside her, rolling like some large feline of the old world.

Yes, why isn't she in bed? She often ends up sleeping longer, deeper, with Angharad at her side, yet this morning, she woke before the sun. What strange dreams she must've been having, to have been spurred from Angharad's arms.

"Bad memories?" Angharad's scars move when her face scrunches up in worry. Like sand moving with the wind, subtle in their shifting.

"For once, no," Furiosa moves from the floor and sits on the edge of the bed. Angharad's promotion day had made her nostalgic for once, and that had in turn caused her mixed feelings.

"No?" Angharad rolls onto her side. Furiosa didn't speak often about her past experiences at the Citadel, but Angharad knew that it was rare for her to have pleasant memories. "Tell me?"

Furiosa stays silent for a moment, runs a finger over Angharad's bare shoulder.

"Ace got our whole crew drunk, just out of our minds smashed on some brew that he'd been secretly making for months just for my promotion day. Spent the rest of the day hallucinating and laughing with him and my Boys. I remember the music only vaguely, and the following day's headache and sickness more vividly. But the feeling, of finally having power. That's something I've never forgotten."

"Ace, was he your second in command?"

"Mm. Old Dog, he was, would've died a hundred times over if it weren't for him."

Angharad is good at parsing out what Furiosa doesn't say by her eyes. For all of her stoicism, her eyes were much too expressive.

"You sacrificed them all, even Ace, for us." She reaches out and Furiosa settles back on top of the blankets.

"Ace died like he always wanted to, historic on the Fury Road. He died, so that your crew won't have to, and I think he'd like that." The Old Dog was always sacrificing himself in little ways.

"My crew," Angharad rolls the phrase in her mouth. Testing it out. She rolls onto her back and slides down a bit in the blanket she's tangled herself in. She always has an irresistible quality to her, and Furiosa is endlessly drawn to her. For once, she starts the kissing.

Angharad is fully naked on top of Furiosa, and just about to spread her legs wider to give her more room to touch her, when a soft cough interrupts them. Capable gives them a fond smile, not one bit perturbed at the compromising position she's found them in.

"Sorry to bother, but, it's kind of hard to have a promotion without the person getting promoted," she smothers a laugh. "Or the person doing the promoting."

"Are we late?" Angharad gets off of Furiosa and starts searching for her pants.

"Not late, but the Boys are restless with excitement."

"Be there in five," Furiosa says. Capable nods and retreats, gives them space to get dressed. Furiosa watches Angharad wrap her linen around her breasts, watches her strap on belts, and pull on her boots. "Angharad?"

She looks up from braiding her hair.

"Are you happy?"

Her face blooms into a smile. Furiosa's heart trips a beat.

"Absolutely. Come on, let's go get this over with."

Toast has never seen War Boys buzzing with this much energy, at least not since they were using that energy to try and take her back to a life of servitude, but that was neither here nor there. Their infectious grins, and hooting laughter becomes hard not to join as they make their way to The Arena.

She has never been to The Arena before, but it wasn't hard to follow Issot and the throng of Boys headed across the metal bridges and down into the depths of Tower Two. She follows them into a huge cavern, giant in hollow space, with a platform at the very end set up with drums and a new Doof Warrior at the center, a guitar, newly built, in his hands.

Angharad's promotion ceremony took all of a few minutes. Furiosa painted her sister's forehead with grease, and that was that. It was the after, that the Boys had been looking forward to, they'd been preparing all week. It'd been a long time since anyone had been promoted to be an Imperator. Perhaps there was some significance that was lost on Toast, something innate to the War Boys. She knew what it meant for her, and maybe it meant the same to them. A new regime, a changing world, the rise of their Green Place.

She moves with the crowd, Issot close on her heels, and spots Capable above the rest, her head much higher than normal as she perched on Tires' shoulders, her hands holding onto his head to steady herself.

"Capable!" Toast cups her hands to her mouth to throw her voice over the heads of the excited War Boys. Capable sees her and leans down to direct Tires over to her.

"She looked amazing, didn't she?" Capable grins, as Tires chats with Issot.

"Natural like. Can you believe all this?" Toast points at the stage.

"They've been overjoyed to have reason to put the sound system back together. Think they're hoping to get another vehicle to mount them on."

"No kidding," Toast nudges Issot and feels the responding nudge immediately. Toast spies Cheedo to the right of them, surrounded by War Pups as she rolls her eyes at something Uri has said.

"Capable!" The Dag's voice silences many of the surrounding War Boys as she clunks over to them with Nux.

"You made it," Capable says happily.

"Left Saxa with Moira, so I have a while before I need to go, found this puppy on the way over," she laughs at his scowling expression.

Nux opens his mouth to scoff at her puppy remark, when the drums begin, a steady beat that turns into a building rhythm that's soon accompanied by the guitar. Like the flow of water, the War Boys move to the sounds, hollering and yipping alongside it. Soon enough he's lost to the heavy stomp and the shine in his girls' eyes.

Angharad has never been drunk. She's not drunk now, at least not in the traditional sense, but if one could get drunk off of giddiness and power, than she'd be the first on the floor. Toast spins her into Seven, her new second in command, and she grabs on to him as he whirls, the beat of drums thrumming in her gut. The War Boys have been piecing back together the Doof Wagon, and the bass vibrates in her chest, rattles around her ribcage, explodes into her feet. She has never been in the center of so much revelry, so much energy. All of it, for her.

And yet, her promotion day wasn't just about her. It was also about her sisters, about how far they've come. What they've survived. The difference they can make. The grease Furiosa smeared symbolically across her forehead, gleams in the firelight, blue black with hope. She can see it in Toast's laugh as Issot does something ridiculous with his hips, and Cheedo's hands as she throws them up into the air alongside a bevy of green Boys. She sees it in Capable's legs being tightly held to as she sits atop Tires' shoulders, and The Dag swaying to the beat while Nux dances circles around her. She saw it in the peace of Furiosa's gaze.

She's never danced before, not like this, but the outrageous way War Boys throw themselves into the sound of it means she doesn't look as silly as she felt at first. She had been afraid that she'd end up whacking someone in the face, or at the very least elbowing them, but the Boys were very aware of her, and while they weren't exactly keeping their distance, they were allowing her space. She moved, and they parted for her, shifting as she did. There was something beautiful about that.

The celebrating goes far into the night, and she dances herself breathless. Finally, as Cheedo scoops up a War Pup who's too young to be left amongst the others, Angharad feels the drag of sleep. As per tradition, she's to sleep on her Rig with her Boys. She motions her head to Seven, and he sounds off a call that brings the rest of them to her. Like old world ducks they follow behind her as she makes her way to G1.

The back of Crusader has a cab large enough to fit nearly everyone but two. Rev and Tosser volunteer to sleep in the lookout position, just above them. It's strange, although she's never slept in a War Boy puppy pile, she feels right at home, used to sleeping in groups, close enough to share breath and warmth. At first she could tell that they were trying to get as close as possible without breaching the 'do not touch' rule, but once she tangled her legs in Seven's, they squished closer. Touch was how they communicated, and for once, Angharad knew what they were saying. Charcoal snuffles into her hair, and she pats his hesitant arm as it slides over her hip, holds him closer as she drifts off to sleep.

Capable tugs on Furiosa's flesh hand as they reach the Vault.

"Stay with us tonight?"

Furiosa nods and follows them into their nest. That's what it's become lately. They've more or less given up on trying to sleep separate, and even with Saxa in their midst, still wind up all over each other. The only ones in the room who sleep apart are Axle and Ish, who prefer sleeping against the Vault's entrance.

Here with the girls, and Nux, she's able to take off her metal arm and relax against Toast's back. Capable is at her front, and she watches Nux settle against her, jittery movement that softens until he's arranged just so.

"Furiosa, you said it was tradition to sleep in the Rig. Does that mean you've slept in a puppy pile of War Boys?" Capable's eyes shine with the mental image.

"We never made it to the Rig. All of us were far too drunk to climb anything, and instead we wound up sprawled over the garage floor, which was fortuitous since none of us could walk very well the next morning," she yawned.

"Furiosa," Cheedo says from the other side of Toast, "will you tell us more about the Boys who rode with you?"

She's silent for long enough that Cheedo thinks that's her answer, but then a soft sigh signals her intake of breath.

"Logs used to like to hum while he worked," she starts, and one by one they fall asleep to her memories of Boys who've all gone to Valhalla. At least, Furiosa prays that's where they've found peace.

The next morning, Angharad steps into the Vault, and is instantly greeted by Capable.

"I can't believe it!" Capable hugs her. "You're an Imperator now." She turns big eyes on Angharad, and grabs her hands. "You're an Imperator now."

"I'm an Imperator," Angharad repeats as if it's a secret, something shared just between them. She shrugs at Capable, and they both burst out into laughter.

"Me? An Imperator? What is the world coming too?" Angharad giggles and twirls a piece of her hair. They walk towards the large bath tucked away in a adjacent cave.

"Seven looked like he was going to cry when you named him your second. It was sweet," Capable confesses as she unwraps her linen.

"He deserves it, was a toss-up between him and Rev, but Seven has a more commanding presence. I would like a polecat unit to ride with me, but I'd have to convince a team." She pushes her pants down, and they jingle with metal bits and the decorations that Nux has gifted her with.

"I don't think that'll be difficult," Capable smirks. "I'm sure that a certain polecat team would jump at the opportunity to ride with you."

"It would be nice to keep a certain counterweight close. But they don't have a polecat."

"Right. You could assign one," Capable suggests as she steps into the cool water of the bath.

"True. Maybe I'll ask them to try out a couple of the green Boys, just to see if there's a match."

"It would be your right, Imperator," Capable grins with a hint of dimple showing.

"Stop that," Angharad blushes.

"Oh, do you think Nux will call you Imperator in bed?"

"Capable!" Angharad splashes water at her, and she squeals. She wants to keep their conversation light and happy but she can't help but think about her new role in the Citadel. Capable senses her changing mood.

"Is it weird? To be called a title that we once feared?"

"A little. It's going to take some getting used to, but it feels right. Honest now, where it didn't before." Angharad rubs at her arms, trickling water down them.

"Just remember, you have War Boys looking up to you now. Pups, green Boys, and those already long grown, you have to set an examp- oh!" She splutters as Angharad splashes water at her. It gets into her mouth and eyes leaving her to splash water back in all directions in retaliation. Angharad shrieks in mock indignation.

Furiosa rolls her eyes at the sounds of playful screaming coming from the Vault bath, and tucks back into Nux as she closes her eyes back into sleep. For once, she's sleeping in.

Chapter Text

Cheedo watches The Dag with a bloom of color on her cheeks that has nothing to do with the heatwave they've been dealing with for the past six days. Too hot to work anywhere but in the waterway pipes, shifts had been suspended for the day if they weren't immediately necessary, and for once the War Boys didn't make a fuss. The heat bore down on them all, causing them to sweat through their paint, and many had fallen ill. Cheedo has forgone her black thumb pants in favor of the cooler movement of her linens. She feels a little strange in all red, exposed without the weight of metal in her pockets. The Dag is dressed similarly, a soft shift of red with slits down the sides for her arms, held together by twine at her middle. The muscle in her shoulders and arms bunch with the effort it takes her and Axle to hold up the newly made poles that will be the frame for the shade she's designed. Her plants are wilting under the brutal sun, and even with extra waterings, the burn of it is starting to take its toll.

She glances over and holds in a laugh as she sees Luther, in what she can only describe as a bashful manner, present Toast with a striking blue flower he must have found in the newer patch growing just over the wall. Just like a smitten Puppy she thinks as she looks over at a group of Pups hanging off of every word Capable says. She's gesturing with her hands, in the middle of a story, and they're all watching her with wide eyes. The only one of her sisters missing is Angharad, who is on patrol duty.

She wipes sweat from her forehead, uncomfortable in her sticky skin, but a happy yip from Dag curls her pink lips upwards. Her plants are safe from the sun and her War Boys have exhausted themselves, plopping down under the shade. The Dag glides over to East, one of the older Pups in Capable's group, who has Saxa in his lap and smoothes back the wispy hair on Saxa's head. The little girl has hair so white it sparkles in the sun. The Pups are fascinated with it as most of them have shaven heads. Capable grins at East's obvious pride over having been chosen to hold Saxa.

The Dag sways over to her, her shoulders just shy of being sunburnt, but she's glowing, radiating with accomplishment. Like a vision, or a hallucination, Cheedo muses.

"What are you thinking about?" The Dag asks. She sits as close as she can possibly get to Cheedo, and rests her head on her shoulder.

"Nothing, really. Just watching."

Dag kisses her cheek, soft and pressing. Cheedo's stomach flutters, and she reaches for Dag's hand.

Sometimes she feels like Dag is far away from her, no longer just hers. It's silly, she knows, but the Dag is a mother now, so much more, and Cheedo loves that little girl more than anything, more than she's ever loved herself, but...

Sometimes she wishes for the days when it was just the two of them, whispering in the shadows about all of their dreams. But it's never more than a fleeting feeling, a moment of selfishness, and then she sees, really sees, all of the amazing things they've done together.

Sometimes, like now, she gets to feel Dag's exhale, and her once soft fingers, now calloused from working shovels, intertwined in her own.

"I think about us growing old," Dag sighs, as if she's catching the tail end of Cheedo's thoughts, so easily plucked from the air.

"And what do we look like when we're old?" Cheedo's eyes brighten at Saxa's laughing burble.

"Wrinkled with smile lines around our mouths. Hardened by the sun and all of the Boys we've buried. I think I'd like to be plump, and that you'd be soft and sagging with me. And we'd enjoy our tenderness, surrounded by generations of Pups who call us Mother, and Braveheart, and all manner of hard won names."

"Braveheart?"

"Mm, yes. Capable's been telling Fury Road to the Pups as their bedtime story, and some of them have taken to calling you Braveheart." The Dag doesn't bother to hide her amusement.

"What ever for?"

Dag's sharp blue eyes turn to her then, and she sees the moment they melt.

"You really don't know why? Beloved, we'd have never made it without you. We're here, right now, because of you."

Cheedo frowns.

"We all played our part. All of us."

The Dag shakes her head.

"That's true, but yours was the hardest part. To find courage in the face of hopelessness, not just any of us could do that."

She opens her mouth to deny it, but she sees Toast's perplexed gaze at Luther's back, and Capable's animated face as she spins tales for the Pups, and realizes maybe bravery is earned. She's never really considered herself brave, but Dag speaks truth more than most.

"I see many War Boys up here, but not one in particular," Dag scans across the gardens. They have a few trees, but nothing that would conceal a full grown War Boy. Some of the grasses are tall enough to dwarf Pups.

"He was going to help the water pipers keep an eye on their trainees, you know how green Boys are."

"Enthused and too eager to do things."

"Last thing we need is another flood of the mess hall."

The Dag nods in agreement, her soul-searching eyes taking stock of Toast's frown as Luther heads down the stairs.

Cheedo sees it too, and turns to Dag to ask about it, only to bump noses with her. Cheedo ducks her head as she laughs, then presses her lips against still smiling ones.

Sunshine bursts in her heart as Dag tucks a hand against the back of her neck, pulling her closer, drawing her in like she's been holding her breath and Cheedo's air. Like she's more.

The Dag shifts over so she's settled in Cheedo's lap, and then she resumes kissing her silly.

Cheedo holds her, feels her ribs expand with breath and kisses her back with so much love it bursts from her heart, and into her mouth where she spills it to Dag. Dazedly she hears Capable sigh and the Pups titter with giggles, but she knows they've seen far worse from the Boys.

"Miss Capable, I didn't know two Shinies could be bonded," a small Pup voice squeaks out.

The Dag breaks their kissing to laugh. Cheedo hides her face in her neck as a blush spreads across her cheeks.

"Oh yes, two Shinies can be bonded, just like two War Boys. There are endless combinations."

"Like you and Nux!" Another Pup pipes up.

"Or Miss Toasty and Nux!"

"Or you and Oliver!"

"Exact...wait no, Oliver and I aren't bonded." They can hear Capable's frown.

Cheedo touches Dag's hips, fleshier now than before, while the Dag takes her hand and kisses her fingers.

"You're not? But you've been spending lots of time with Oliver, Miss Capable," East's voice rises above the rest.

"But that doesn't mean-"

"And you've been giving him the eyes," East points outs.

"What eyes? You've got this all wrong," Capable tries to explain but her group is murmuring about all the times she's been to talk with the counterweight.

"Smart Pups, they have it all figured out before we do," The Dag says wistfully.

"I wonder what they say about us," Cheedo settles Dag so her back is to her chest.

"That we set the sky on fire," Dag grins.

Cheedo shakes her head in fondness. For once she agrees with Dag's metaphors. Her love for the new mother burns bright.

"I dun know Miss Capable, seems kinda suspicious," East says in the background.

Chapter Text

The Dag clunks her way to G1 to relieve Nux from Saxa, the worsening heat making her worry of heatstroke. She thought it necessary to leave Saxa inside until the sun began to lower in the sky at least until the weather cools. They rotated who watched her, and today was Nux's day. She fully expects to see Saxa happily bouncing her little legs in the makeshift back carrier they rigged for him. However, a quick scan around the garage doesn't yield either of them.

"Angharad, where's Nux and Saxa," she calls out. Her sister emerges from under the rig.

"Said he was going to stop by the lancer's room. Said not to worry, that he'd make sure live practice isn't under way."

The Dag smiles.

"I'm not worried. She's perfectly safe with him. Thought it'd be time to give him a break, I know how he worries when he watches her."

"S'not the only one," Rev murmurs from the side of the rig. Angharad laughs. The little girl tends to keep her Boys on edge, all of them worry about her getting hurt that hardly any of them can work with all of their eyes on constant guard.

The Dag makes her way to the lancer's room. The War Boys give her a wide berth as she has a bit of a reputation for hissing at those who get too close. She gets to the entryway right as Issot comes out.

"Are Saxa and Nux in there?"

"Just missed 'em."

She sighs.

"Don't suppose you know where they went then?"

"Sorry, no."

Just as well, she thinks. If Nux wasn't tired yet, then she would try to nap while she could. Motherhood it seems, was full of interrupted sleep. He'd find her when he was ready.

The stairs to the Vault are long, and she sees many familiar faces on the way up. War Boys who've held her daughter, and Pups who've become her playmates. A family of war painted Boys who take all of their fierceness and turn it into gentleness. Strange, she thinks, how it all turned out.

She stifles a yawn as she crosses the Vault's room, and takes pause as she catches sight of boots peeking out from the bed. Odd. The sight of Nux asleep with Saxa on his chest feels like the sound of leaves swaying in the wind. She goes to lift the little girl and put her in the cushioned area they made for her, but Nux's hands hold her tighter. She tries again, and stops when she sees his eyes blink sleepily up at her.

"Hey," he whispers.

"Hey back. Was going to take her off your hands, but your hands had other ideas."

He smiles all dopey on love at her, sweet like the treats the former Milk Mothers make sometimes.

"Come here," he motions with a hand and settles her in the crux of his chest and shoulder. She puts her hand on top of his on Saxa's back. Her face is smushed onto Nux's chest, and Dag wonders if she'll have a faint red smudge on her cheek.

"What is it?" Dag asks. Nux will nap after his transfusions but he hasn't had one recently, so to take a nap when he was usually fidgety for work was telling. He stays silent but his heart tells her a different story. The Dag waits for him to get his thoughts organized and say what's on his mind.

"Rev was playing with her. Some type of clapping game that Moira teaches the Pups. She was getting fussy, and he asked her if she wanted to go back to her father. And she looked at me. Waved her small hands at me. Like she knew who I was."

His heart thumps along, a slightly faster beat, thump thump, thump thump thump thump.

"Of course she knows. You spend enough time with her. She knows who takes care of her." The Dag wants to watch his face, to see what's bothering him, but she's loathe to move from the comfort of his arm.

"But she knows now. She knows my face. She can pick me outta a crowd of War Boys in full paint. He asked if she wanted ta go back to her father. Her father. She knows who I am to her. So I picked her up and she settled right into me, all quiet like with her big blue eyes. And I suddenly got selfish with my time. Didn't want ta waste it without having this, just a moment or two alone with her. I don't know why. Was just something I needed to do."

Thump thump thump thump thump thump. Faster it goes.

The Dag catches her breath in her throat. He's making sure Saxa gets his time because he doesn't believe he has much of it left she thinks, and she wants to cry so badly that she bites her tongue to stay the tears. She doesn't trust her voice, so she keeps silent, throat tight with the effort to not show him how it hurts. If she breaks now she won't ever stop unraveling, and he doesn't need that right now.

"Charcoal spent two shifts cleaning shit off of the floor, said that she'll be walking soon, and there's too much that she'll want to put in her mouth."

Dag can tell he's eager to change the subject, and she's happy to oblige him.

Thump thump thump thump. Thump thump.

"That's true enough. She'll have to learn sooner or later. Just like the Pups."

"Will ya send her down to the nursery caves when she's old enough?" His fingers trace a back and forth pattern onto her ribs.

"Yes. It'll be good for her to have littermates. And who knows, maybe she'll want to be a War Boy, and we'll shave her head bare."

Nux's hand moves from Saxa's back to her head. Protective or possessive, the Dag muses.

"You'd let her?"

"Her future is her own. If she's to be a War Boy, then that's what she'll be. I'll shave her head every day if that's the path she chooses. What do you think?"

"It'll be her choice. I'd miss her hair though," he admits. He's grown fond of her wisps of translucent hair sparkling in the firelight. Feathery bits of fluff that amuse the other Pups too. "I should be getting back. But if it's okay, I'd like ta come back and get her for the later shifts."

"You don't have to ask. She's as much yours as mine." The Dag lifts Saxa and she immediately squeaks out her disapproval of the movement, but once she's laid back down onto the soft blanket, she quiets again. Nux offers her his hand when she turns back to him, and she laces her fingers through his. It's not a long walk back towards the entrance, and he lingers at the mouth of the Vault.

There's no mistaking the sudden desire in his eyes.

"Thought you had to get back," she says and he nods but doesn't move. He opens his mouth to say something but shuts it and leans to kiss her instead. Not a quick kiss, or even a see you later one, but a kiss with pressure, unhurried and needy. She tugs him by the belt loops so that he's crowding her against the warm stone of the wall. She wants to touch him, to feel him alive in her hands.

"Keep an ear out," she tells him as her hands start undoing his belts.

"What-"

"I want to feel you come. Can you do that for me?" Her hands get the last belt done and then her hand is in his pants guiding him out. He thinks he nods, or says some sort of word that means yes, but all of his blood has rushed to where she's stroking him, so he can't say for sure. When the dizzying feel of his blood pounding in his ears slows he goes back to kissing her. She makes happy noises as if he's the one touching her like this.

She likes having him like this, all of his attention and focus, and the feel of him. He's sweet like this, panting against her neck when kissing her becomes overwhelming. If she licks at his chest, tastes the earth of the clay in his paint, traces the lines of the V8 on his chest, she can wring noises from him, choked out sounds that he tries to stifle against her neck. His fingers grip her waist, twitching on her skin every time her hands find a particularly good stroke.

He's leaking and the wetness makes the slide of her hands easier, better. She moves her hands faster, wanting to feel his release. He's thrusting into them, his hips moving in time with her.

"Come for me, come on," she encourages him. It catches him by surprise, it always does, the way her words trigger him into doing exactly what she says. He moans as he spills in her hands, his breath rushing out onto the skin of her chest. She wipes her hand on the end of her linen while he catches his breath. She tips up to kiss him, her hands busy arranging him back into his pants with his help.

"I'll do the belts," he says, a laugh in tone. Everyone always complains about his belts, but it's better than his ass hanging out at every turn. "I love you," he tells her, his hand caresses her cheek.

"I love you too." Dag watches him go, and slumps against the wall. Maybe she should be selfish with his time too. She walks back to Saxa and plops down next to her.

"We can't take his time for granted dear one," she whispers. She rests her head on her knees. Loving someone is hard, she thinks, and yet we do it anyway.

Chapter Text

Angharad sidesteps out of Rust's reach and tosses herself over Nux's back, using the momentum to kick Maven in the face. Maven doesn't get back up, and they turn towards Rust together. He gets in a hit to Angharad's shoulder but Nux brings him down right after. The cheers in the crowd boom off of the walls but she can still pick out Toast's particular whoop. She looks for her in the crowd and sees her drop a few metal pieces into the hand of the War Boy sitting next to her before heading towards them.

"For an Imperator that has such little feet, you sure have one hell of a kick," Maven grumbles rubbing the side of his jaw. "Nice move there at the end."

"Thanks. Might want to put some salve on that. It'll keep you from bruising too terribly." He scrunches his nose at her.

"I'll take the bruising thanks. A reminder for me to watch your feet next time," he winks at her and goes to help a limping Rust.

"Shoulder alright?" Nux comes up next to her as they walk off the pit.

"I've been hit worse," she laughs. Furiosa's metal hand was no joke. "You didn't break Rust's leg did you?"

Nux rubs the back of his head sheepishly.

"Nah, he should be fine," Nux looks over his shoulder to make sure that Rust is walking out on his own legs.

"I think you two need a fairer fight," Toast joins them on their way out of the pits.

"Betting against us are you?" Angahard teases. Toast sticks her tongue out at her.

"You know I like the underdog. You two are the winning team to beat." Toast squeezes her arm and takes a right off into the barracks to give Issot the metal piece she owes him.

"We're good," Nux agrees. Angharad beams at him and even with the war paint she can tell he's blushing.

"Maybe Toast's right, we need a challenge. Oh hey," she grins at him, "what about Oliver and Tobbit. Counterweights usually have the most muscle."

Nux avoids Angharad's prying eyes but his lips twitch up. She stops on the stairs and he stops with her.

"Bad idea?"

"Too good of an idea. You just want to see me and Oliver beat the shit out of one another," he accuses and she pretend gasps.

"I don't know where you'd get that idea," she holds in a giggle.

"Uh huh."

Angharad bumps Nux with her hip and he returns it with a rub of his shoulder on her thankfully not bruised one. Usually they'd go and soak in the bath after a fight but these last two had been easy, and their bruises were minimal. The first time they fought together they almost lost, not used to having another person to watch for she lost track of Tosser and wound up with the wind knocked out of her. It was easy for Nux to keep her in his vision, to move with her, because War Boys paired up for work the transition to fighting was smoother. Angharad was used to fighting for, not with. Trusting him to move with her wasn't as easy as she thought it would be. Her protectiveness overcompensated, and instead of watching out for herself she focused too much on him. He finally had to tell her, as gently as he could, that unless he was on the floor he didn't need her to watch for him.

"Pair fighting is about knowing your partners weaknesses as much as your own. You're quick, you use the force of your opponent's moves against them, so I only have to make sure they don't get you off of the ground," Nux had told her. She hadn't known that he was a wealth of information on fighting technique, but then he was constantly surprising her. He taught her how to keep him in her sights like she would a Pup in the middle of their garages. It had made them nearly unbeatable.

Back in Nux's room, Angharad lets Nux put some salve on her shoulder before she picks up a bowl of crushed berries and adds water to it. The wall she stands in front of has a massive car crash mural on it, a scene she started over a week ago. Nux had told her the story in detail and she had sketched it at first, then started to add color. Fighting made her restless but painting calmed her enough to sleep. Behind her Nux works on a charm bracelet he's putting together for Capable.

The berries stain her fingers, and when she's finished for the day she sticks her fingers in her mouth to try to get the color off. She looks over at Nux and he's so engrossed in the tiny metal pieces that he doesn't notice her until she's nearly in his lap. He puts down his tools and watches her dip her finger in the mush, but he's just a smidgen too slow to move his head back as she darts forward to paint his nose.

"Erfgh," he grumbles. "This stains ya know," he rubs at his berried nose.

"Oh, does it," she smiles sweetly and paints a stripe down her nose in solidarity.

"Now we both look silly," he snorts. "You could do the outline of my scars. The red mutes them," he offers. She lights up at the suggestion and eagerly gets more of the color on her fingers.

"You just want my fingers on you," she bites back a laugh.

"Don't know where ya got that idea," he parrots back to her. She does laugh then, the sound of it almost better than her fingers scratching against his scars.

She finishes and sits back to look at her work.

"Here," she passes him the bowl. "You can do mine."

"Are ya sure?" He takes the bowl but doesn't move to paint his fingers.

"Yep," she nods.

He starts with the ones on her forehead. The lines aren't straight, they criss cross, and his finger goes over each one. He knows she made them with glass, which is why they're jagged, and she did them on her own which makes them uneven. She leans into him when he starts on her cheek.

"Your turn again," Nux taps his cheek scars. Angharad leans in close to do those ones and the one across his nose. She licks at his lips, a quick dart of her tongue, before sitting back. He looks more skeletal now with his cheek scars in stark contrast against the soft red.

Angharad undoes the bit of fabric that usually hangs down from her top cover and Nux automatically picks the bowl back up again. He knows what scar comes next. The gnarled pink slash down her abdomen was a sore spot for her, something she was sensitive about. It would've healed better had it been stapled but The Organic had only thread and needle in the field, and it was a mess of scar. He's never touched it before this, been wary of calling attention to something that hurt her still.

Angharad trusts him with this, and that's all he needs to know.

"I only have one more," Nux says to break the tension. Angharad's scar looks different blue, softer somehow.

"Yeah?"

"First time Slit and I fought bad, he threw me into a half finished car, my hand caught in the door. Almost lost this finger." He holds up his left hand to show off his third finger. A faint scar wraps around it. Angharad holds his hand and dabs the mix onto the bit of scar that she can see.

"What were you fighting over?"

"I passed out on a run because I hadn't gone to get a top up. Our car flipped with him on the back and he went flying. I almost exploded. It wasn't the greatest of times." He looks up at to see her eyes wide.

"You almost exploded?"

"It was the first time, but not the last," he laughs at her incredulous face.

"You almost exploded more than once?"

"Slit wasn't always the best lancer," he takes the offered bowl. Then he looks down at the bowl in confusion and up at Angharad who stands up to take her pants off, which he eyes with even greater confusion."Uh..."

"I have more," she tells him. She gets her belt off and then shimmies out of her pants. "See," she sits back in his lap and points at her inner thigh.

Nux is fairly certain he isn't asleep, which means that Angharad is really in his lap with her bottom half completely bare, golden curls at the apex of her thighs which are wide open. At the very tops of her thigh, on the inside so close to where he's trying not to stare, are a smattering of criss cross lines just like the ones on her face. He frowns.

"Angharad," he starts but doesn't know where to go with his thoughts. Her scars were all made in resistance, as a claim that her body belonged to her alone. She put them on the one place on her body that the Immortan would have to see every time he looked at her.

"Every place he touched with fondness I ruined for him. Now I get to choose who touches me." She spreads her legs wider and waits.

Nux presses the blue into her skin, traces them until each pink scar is bold and bright.

"Out in the waste, the sky turns a deep blue like this. Slit always said it was his favorite color."

Same color as your eyes, Angharad thinks. She inspects his work, and touches the back of his hand in thanks.

Nux is somewhat relieved when she puts her pants back on. As much as he'd like to get into other activities, he can only imagine what they're going to look like in the morning, smudged with blue.

They drift towards his bed and each other, curling up to feel each other's warmth.

"Maybe tomorrow, I'll see if Oliver is interested in a tag team fight," Nux murmurs into her hair.

"Really?"

"Anything for you."

Bonus Scene*****

"What the heck happened to your face?" Capable tries to rub off the blue that is smeared over Angharad's cheek.

"It's a thing," Angharad bats her hands away. Nux walks by and Capable sees the same blue in a mess over his chest.

"Ohhhhh, I seee," she drawls out as Angharad turns red.

"It's not like that!"

"Talk about trading paint," Capable blows a hair out of her eye as Cheedo giggles behind her.

Chapter Text

Toast grumbles sleepily as Capable disentangles from her arms at an hour much too early to be first shift.

"Shhh, go back to sleep. There's a couple of sick Pups I want to check on," Capable tucks the blanket back in around her and Nux.

Toast wiggles into a new spot just as Nux wakes enough to cuddle her closer, still more asleep than awake. She lets him pull her into his chest, fitting her to him with minimal adjusting even though she's short, like his body knows exactly how to make space for her. She's about to fall back asleep, lured by his warmth, when she feels him hard against her rear. He's asleep but now she's up.

She freezes, torn between wanting to pull away and push back, so she fidgets, tries to do both and winds up writhing in place. Her thighs rub together and a growing ache starts, a desire she normally avoids or ignores, but here in the darkness it's not such a scary thing. It makes her yearn for touch, for the gasp of breath she hears as she walks by Nux's room when Capable is in there, or the sweet moans that Angharad doesn't bother to stifle when she lies with Furiosa. She squirms in remembrance.

"Whatsit?" Nux mumbles, and his voice startles her back into freezing. Her silence prompts him to wake up, and the stretch of his leg presses him harder against her firm backside. His reaction is immediate. "Fuck," he breathes out while jolting his hips backwards so she doesn't feel him. She makes a small sound, a protest or thanks, but he's already taking his hands off of her.

"Nux," she rolls over to face him. He's two arm's lengths away now and she has to practically crawl over to him.

"Sorry, I didn't realize I-" She cuts him off with her mouth, tucks herself so she's in his arms again.

"It's okay. I know that happens sometimes." She does know, and it's bothered her before which is why he reacted so harshly. She's grateful but also kind of...disappointed. The tips of her breasts ache as a needy thrum settles into her core. She throws a leg over his hips and feels him stiffen.

Toast rarely initiates this kind of touch, and Nux is wary of touching her wrong. Always he's careful of her, so careful. He knows her tells often before she uses her words, and he rarely reaches for her unless she's already reaching out. She likes to kiss more than anything else, and she'll cuddle but only for sleep. She'll touch him like a comrade, like just another War Boy, nudges and elbows, shoulder rubs and head swats. But like this, with his hard-on pressed right beneath her ass, never. His want for her kicks hard and sharp beneath his ribs, quick without build-up, a swift reminder that he craves her, that she's soft and warm curled up against him.

"Is this okay?" She brings her hand to thumb at the scars on his lips. He answers by taking her thumb in his mouth, lets it glide along his tongue. She gasps softly.

Nux thinks the taste of the red war paint is infinitely better than the old bitterness of the white paint. The red blooms the flavor of earth on his tongue, dark and heady. Toast has only recently started painting herself in red, finally sure enough amidst the War Boys to count herself as one of them. He sucks on it, watches her eyes widen, and feels her hand clutch at his side.

Toast slides her thumb out of his mouth only to push two fingers back in. Nux's eyes flutter shut as he takes her fingers, his tongue swirling around them. She feels her own wetness soaking into her pants. She hadn't realized how good he looked with something in his mouth. In curiosity she pulls her fingers back and pushes them back in. His moan sears into her skin.

Nux whines at the loss of her fingers when she takes them from his mouth but the sound of it becomes muffled when her tongue slips inside the empty space she left. His hand goes to the base of her neck, to where her hair has grown out a bit. He moves his mouth along her jaw, bypassing her neck for her collarbone.

His lips left behind trails of yearning and when his fingers toy with the fray at the end of linen top she doesn't hesitate to unravel it and strip it over her head.

"Toast..." his hand is carefully on her ribs, out of reach of where she wants it so she grabs it in her own and moves it to cup her breast.

He shivers like he's being touched and finally gets his mouth on her nipple, his tongue laving at it.

Toast arches into him, a whimper strangling out of her as one of her hands goes to hold his head to her. She didn't know it would feel like this, this good, this overwhelming in intensity.

Toast is all but writhing under his mouth and he can't help a bit of smugness. He sucks at her nipple, hears her cry out, and keeps at it. He wants to hear her peak.

Pleasure is building in her core, in her groin, down in the sweetness of her sex where she's dripping down her thigh. How can Capable stand to be loved this much? How can Cheedo bear Dag's hand on her wrist if it always feels like this?

"Nux, can we, I want to," she tells him in pieces while her hands wiggle in between them and go for his belts. She barely notices that he's dragged his mouth away from her breast back to her beneath her collarbone before pulling away. His hands go to hers and still them. She focuses on his eyes and sees a vulnerability there that takes her breath away.

"Toast. We don't have ta do that." His tone is low but his breathing is ragged.

"I want to try, I need to know."

He nuzzles under her chin and she feels him nod. Her hands resume attacking his belts and her hips jerk when his start undoing her own belt.

"Didja want to be on top?" He asked and the puff of his breath against her heated skin causes her to shiver. She shakes her head.

"No, like this," she pulls him over her and he goes easily once he's shucked his pants. She lifts her hips and shoves her own off. Then his skin is on hers, bare and beaded with sweat.

"Toast-"

"I have to know," she says resolutely.

"If it's not right, if...it feels wrong, say so, I'll stop," he tells her, makes sure she knows she's safe here with him.

Toast almost cries but he settles between her thighs and pushes any other thought out but this. Nux reaches down to touch her, to sink his fingers in the tempting curls but her hand darts out to stop him.

"That can wait, I want you inside me."

Nux isn't sure why he assumed that she'd be anything but stubborn about rutting since she was stubborn about everything else. He almost laughs but catches himself.

He lines himself up at her entrance, and she's so wet, her slick inviting him in. He goes so slowly that Toast writhes in impatience and her movement sinks him in.

Toast tenses, she tries not to, but he's there, inside of her, and she can't help it.

"Toast-"

"Keep going," she forces herself to calm, tells herself that there's nothing here that can harm her. He's so much taller than her that she tucks herself against his chest once he's lowered to his elbows. It doesn't hurt, there's not the sharp pain she anticipated, but she's losing the battle against her fear. Already her throat is tight with it, the terror she was hoping wouldn't surface is clawing its way up from her spine. She repeats his words to herself.

Say stop and he'll stop.

He keeps going, slower than he's ever thrusted, so slow he's not even sure he could call it a thrust, more of a gradual rocking. Her face is buried in his V8 scars so he can't watch her face for signs of discomfort and it's making him a bit nervous.

"Toast-"

"I'm okay," she manages. She is okay, she has to be okay. It doesn't feel bad, but her nerves are ringing false alarms.

Say stop and he'll stop.

"Sweetheart," he calls her.

"Stop," Toast bursts into tears.

He moves off of her so fast she feels air whoosh past her. She tries to tell him to come back, that she needs to have him hold her, but her words are coming out sobs. Luckily she remembers all the times Dag has non-verbally asked for touch, and she holds her hands out making a grabby motion.

Nux gathers Toast in his arms, makes sure to move the blanket so he's dick isn't touching her. He witnesses her crying the same way he wouldn't turn his eyes from a comrade even if it hurts him. Even when her pain is uncomfortable.

"I thought I was okay," she sniffles, her voice rough.

"You are okay," he reassures her. "We don't have ta rut like that. We don't have ta rut at all."

"I did like some of it.

"The stuff before?"

Toast feels her cheeks heat up.

"Yes."

"I have an idea, do you trust me?"

"Of course," she replies immediately.

A little maneuvering later, Toast looks down at Nux skeptically.

"Are you sure you're going to be able to breathe?"

Nux laughs. It makes Toast grin. Then his tongue licks delicately at her clit and she feels her nipples tighten and her grin turns into shocked delight.

"Good?" He asks.

"Less talking, more of that."

Nux has one hand on her hip, holds her on his face so he can tongue at her. His other hand jerks himself so he can come with her. He focuses all of his attention on her clit, her slick making it sloppy and easy to twirl his tongue around.

"Oh!" Her small sounds make him leak so his strokes are better.

Toast feels her thigh shaking and she hopes she's not crushing him because the buildup of pleasure is growing. He moans and she moves her hips with the sound chasing his tongue. Then he shifts so more of his mouth can lap her up.

Nux lets her rock her hips and with the now free hand he slips it up to her nipple, catching it in his fingers, tugging.

"Nux!" Toast moans, her orgasm trembling through her with force.

Nux speeds up his hand and spills onto his stomach.

Toast feels like she should move, but she doesn't think her legs know how to work properly anymore.

When Toast doesn't dismount Nux goes right back to licking at her lips and clit, savoring her taste.

"What," Toast tries to ask as her body goes hot again. She couldn't possibly...but Nux is steadily licking her, and when his tongue gets tired he puts his scarred lips around her clit and sucks at it delicately.

"Oh fuck," she whispers and Nux chuckles reverberating against her. With both hands free he uses them to roll her nipples in his fingers.

That's all she needs. Her back arches as the next orgasm slams into her, like old world electricity lighting her body up. She slumps off of him, doesn't know if she could stand another and yet wonders how it would be just the same.

"Wow," she finally settles for.

"Yeah?" Nux asks.

"Yeah. Was it okay for you?"

"More than okay. Although, would've liked to have seen how many times I could get ya to peak."

Toast tiredly reaches for his hand and links her fingers in his.

"I promise next time we can find out together."

Nux leans closer and kisses her hand that's wrapped in his, satisfaction written clear on his face.

When Capable yawns her way back into Nux's room she rolls back into her spot next to Toast.

"Thank you for sharing," Toast whispers as she nuzzles into Capable's back.

"Mhm," Capable murmurs already half asleep. "S'just a blanket."

"That too," Toast answers.

Later, during third shift, Capable remembers Toast's odd answer and squeals suddenly and excitedly enough that she spooks Tires into dropping an entire can of black paint onto an unfortunately underfoot Pup.

Chapter Text

Capable wakes earlier than her bedmates and quietly slips out of the Vault, past Axle and Ish who don't stir at her light footsteps. She puts her boots on at the top of the stairs and makes her way down to the nursery caves. Instantly she's greeted by Moira who tearfully shakes her head. Capable bolts for the OM's and sends out a prayer she knows is too late. She finds the Organic with a couple of apprentices inspecting a War Boy's lungs. When the Organic catches sight of her he leaves Cannon in charge and leads her to the cadaver caves.

"Told the reapers to leave this one till ya came," he says as he gestures at the dead Pup on a slab of stone.

Capable is silent as she kneels and reaches out her hand to touch the Pup's brow one last time. So little, she thinks, barely 1800 days old. Not much of a life at all she despairs. She forces herself to recall memories of him, of his intent face, too serious for a Pup, she'd always thought. He'd been proud to tell her his name, Jaxxen, and how he made sure everyone knew it was spelled with two Xs not one. She remembers his wide eyes at meeting Saxa for the time, the wonderment and curiousness. There, that one, that's the memory she'll engrave in her mind, in the place where the others she's lost live.

"Was it the coughing?" She asks once she's found her voice.

"In a way," the Organic grimaces. He dislikes telling Capable the ways in which her Pups die, always thinks that she'll blame him and then they'll toss him out. Her stern eyes stare at him when he doesn't immediately elaborate. He shifts his weight and sighs. "Haven't opened him up yet so can't be 100% certain, but his coughs were so violent when he got here, we thought he'd need a sedative just so he could breathe. Listened to his lungs, wasn't good, sounded like fluid buildup. Not much we can do for that. Cannon and Nala sat with him, tried to calm his breathing, but his coughs turned wet. Blood started coming up. Thought it kinder to put him down then let him choke on his own blood. Cora agreed so we gave him a lethal dose."

Capable nods, and stands up. Cora was one of the medics that stayed on from their trade negotiations. She had better bedside manners than the Organic, and her judgement was respected when it came to lethal doses.

"His name?" Capable asks.

"Written down in the books."

She wipes away the stray tears that have fallen. There are times she'll go weeks upon weeks without losing a Pup, and then theres times she's down in these caves everyday.

"Capable, while I have you down here," the Organic rocks back on his heels. He watches her school her face into being open, receptive, instead of showing the sorrow that had been there moments before.

"Yes?" She follows the Organic as he winds through tunnels and caves until they reach his private quarters. He goes to a stack of book and takes out an already ripped sheet of paper.

"I need to ask you a favor."

Capable stares, stunned at his request, and nearly drops the piece of paper he gives her.

"What kind of favor?"

"Look, I know I'm not your favorite-"

"You're not."

He gives her a look before continuing.

"But there should be a former breeder in GasTown named Lion. Should be about 7, 300 days old, give or take some days. I'd like for her to be returned here."

"Why?" Capable looks down at the paper to see Lion's information written down as well as a formal request for retrieval, and a couple of paragraphs addressed to her. One of the first things Furiosa had set forth was a zero-trade rule with any who still kept breeders. That included GasTown and the Bullet Farm. She'd put War Boys in charge she felt were trustworthy and the breeders had been released. Angharad kept in contact with them but all had chosen to stay in their communities and work towards implementing change.

"She was originally from here."

"So? There's a reason she didn't come back."

"She thinks I'm dead."

"And that matters because?" Capable waves the paper in her hand.

"She's my daughter."

"What? How?"

"Her mother was a breeder who had bad knees. Tally. A beauty in her own right, but she spent a lot of time down here, Joe hoped I could fix her eventually so she could take her place in the Vault. She was a great comfort to the Boys who wound up here. She learned how to stitch and staple, she wanted to be useful. And for whatever fucking reason I could never figure out, she was fond of me. Joe forgot about her once the Boys brought in fresh girls. When she had our daughter she named the girl Lion, hoping to hide her, to pretend she was just a boy so she wouldn't be given to Joe. Tally died suddenly, still don't know what it is that took her, but Lion stayed with me. And I hid her as best I could, even...well," he clears his throat.

"Even what?" Capable narrows her eyes.

"I couldn't hide her body, not for long, and just as it started to betray her to the other Boys, I did the only thing I could. She asked me to mind you, she begged, and I tried to find other ways but it was the thing that made the most sense. So I took her breasts. Gave her a couple more years with me before Imperator Arev found out and turned her in to Joe. Joe gave her to GasTown in trade. I was able to bribe a few of the Boys to keep us in contact but after Fury Road, our contacts died, and Furiosa doesn't let many on the roads that way."

"Why now? Months have gone by, you could've asked-"

"No. I couldn't've. Didn't trust you enough."

Capable's taken aback at that.

"Regime change hasn't been easy, and most, myself included, didn't think a bunch of silly girls could ever hold anything together, let alone a bunch of broken Boys." He sees her start to get defensive and holds up his hand. "I know better now, but I couldn't've known then. Seen you all at your worst, and now I've seen you at your best. Figured it was a good enough time to ask." He watches her mull it over, assessing everything.

"Alright. I'll give it to Angharad. She has a GasTown run in three days. If Lion agrees to come, Angharad will bring her back."

"Fair enough."

Capable stands awkwardly, wanting to ask so much more but never having the kind of relationship with the Organic that she did with the other Boys. Too much history, too much that can't be undone.

"Go on then, Boys are dying and if you want me to fix them, can't have you hovering about."

She resists the childish urge to stick her tongue out at him and leaves him to save her Boys.

She's quiet for the rest of the day, stuck in her thoughts, and her Pups pick up on it. They put on their best behavior and give her space. Capable loves them all the more for it and ends up staying with them even after the sun has gone down. She tucks them all in into their piles, and stays to listen to Moira sing them to sleep. Moira hugs her on her way out, a sweet and strong embrace that she's reluctant to pull away from.

She finds herself aching, hurting in such a way that makes her feel alone. So much of her world is still pain, in some way or another, and it eats at her though she tries to push it aside. Tonight is one of those nights she doesn't imagine she'll get much sleep. Stopping at the entrance to the barracks, she wonders if she'll be welcome where she wants to lie down.

She's unsure of the way and most of the Boys are asleep but by luck Tires spots her.

"Oi, looking for someone?" He stands up and holds out his hand. She smiles gratefully and puts her hand in his.

"Yeah, thought I'd find Nux down here with Oliver."

"I know the way."

The few Boys that are awake greet her and she manages to smile at them. She squeezes Tires' hand when she sees Nux's back. Tires pats her head, as if she's a Pup, and leaves her to it.

Capable takes a moment to appreciate the curl of Oliver's hand on Nux's back. She's never encroached on their time before, and she doesn't want to bother them, but she needs to feel their warmth, to feel them alive. She doesn't realize Oliver's awake until he peers owlishly up at her from over Nux's shoulder.

"Cape? Did ya want me ta wake him up?" Oliver tries to discreetly pull his hand away from where it's resting, but she notices anyway. She shakes her head and gets closer so she doesn't wake up anyone.

"Is it okay if I bunk with you tonight. It'll just be for tonight, but I understand if it's weird, you can say no, I-"

"S'okay," he cuts her off. "Can be for more than tonight if ya want," he tells her as he backs up so there's space between him and Nux. Nux mumbles but doesn't wake.

Capable ignores the tightness in her throat as she clambers over Nux and plops between them.

Nux is a heavy sleeper, moreso when he's getting sick, but her jostling finally prompts him to open his eyes. Red hair and Oliver's green eyes greet him, which is a strange combination since Oliver doesn't have any hair, and the ass pressed into his groin feels a lot like Capable's.

"Capable? What's wrong?"

"Oliver said I could stay, is that alright?" She sees Oliver silently converse with him over her head, and is glad that they're close enough to understand one another like this.

"Course, Capable, you can stay. Are you okay though?" Nux arm goes around her and she snuggles in.

"I'm okay." Oliver sees the lie in her eyes but keeps it to himself.

Nux is the first to drift back to sleep and it doesn't surprise either of them. Capable is the first one to break the silence.

"Thanks. For letting me crash here. I wanted to see him."

"You're welcome to sleep here. Anytime."

"Just for sleep?" She quips, can't help herself, and is rewarded with Oliver's eyes going wide. His grin settles into her ribs.

She reaches out to indulge her curiosity and Oliver leans into her touch as her fingers touch his scar. Her fingers trail down his shoulder to his arm, and then to his waist where she tugs at him to get closer. Oliver isn't hesitant with putting his arm around her and Nux, and after a little more wiggling on her part, she ends up perfectly squished between them. Nux's soft breath behind her, the barest hint of a wheeze, whistles in her hair, and her face is resting on Oliver's chest.

Oliver has never had a woman sleep in his arms. Countless War Boys, all muscle, angles, and most too thin. At least the ones before the Shinies' reign were. Capable wasn't anything like them. She was the softest thing he'd ever touched. Her hair, and he'd never slept with someone who had hair, is in his nose, but her breasts are pressed on his chest, and her hand sweetly rubs lazy circles into his back. He rests his chin on her head and catches Nux's eyes watching him. The black thumb smirks, like the asshole knows, can see him going soft over her. He rolls his eyes but scoots closer so Nux can rest his arm across them.

There might be pain, Capable thinks, the lull of their bodies pulling her into sleep, but there's so much new joy too.

Chapter Text

"Come on, they weren't that bad," Uri watches his counterweights make displeased faces and groans. "Not one. Are ya telling me ya didn't like even one of them?"

Tobbit grimaces and Oliver's forehead scrunches up in frustration. Uri sighs and leans on DuneBlaster. Thirty Boys. They tested with thirty Boys, all day long, circle after circle around the Citadel, and his counterweights had the gall to tell him that not one of them seemed fit?

"Well, there was one..." Oliver starts and Uri perks up.

"Who?"

Tobbit stares at his feet while Oliver fixates on a spot far off in the distance. Uri's eyes narrow.

"Are ya telling me that the only prospect who fits is Cheedo, the only one not actually trying out?!" Uri rests his head on his vehicle. They were trying to send him to Valhalla early it seems.

"Skiv was...better than the rest, but that's not saying much," Tobbit points out.

"S'too bad he's about six hundred days shy of being old enough to run with the rest of the dogs." Oliver rubs his head.

"Guess we have round two tomorrow," Uri grumbles. There were only so many circles he could do before he started to go a little crazy.

"Think Yep would let us have Cheedo?" Tobbit asks. Oliver snorts.

"Maybe in another lifetime, you'd have to pry her from his stiff, dead hands. 'sides, as shine as she is as a black thumb she has zero training." Oliver stretches his arms over his head, his shoulders ache from the constant swing of the weight. He's enjoying the loosening of his muscles when a touch of a hand, a caress really, slides against his back, right across the top of his pants. Looks like Tobbit will be sleeping with Uri tonight he thinks smugly. He's rarely startled, but when he turns to see Capable he jolts back and hits his elbow on DuneBlaster sending sparks of pain up his arm.

"How'd the tryouts go?" She asks, completely unbothered by him staring with his mouth open. As if she didn't just state her interest in rutting him.

"We're fucked," Tobbit and Uri say simultaneously.

"Sorry Boys. I'm sure someone will turn up," Capable smiles reassuringly. It makes Oliver's stomach hurt like the time Uri kneed him in his sleep.

"The fuck's wrong with you," Uri asks as he notices Oliver's mouth doing something stupid.

"Nothing, I'm fine, fuck's wrong with you?" Oliver glares at Uri who rolls his eyes.

"Better luck tomorrow," she grins and turns to leave, but not before winking at Oliver on her way out.

"Wanna check the mess hall and see if there's any radishes left?" Tobbit looks over at Uri hopefully.

"Aye. Don't want any of them radishes though. They make my lips tingle."

"You just need to eat more of them. You in?" Tobbit notices Oliver's stunned expression. "Alright, what's going on, do ya need to see the Organic?" He counts in his head the last time the other 'weight had a top up and scrunches up his nose in confusion, it's way too soon for that.

"What? No, come on let's go," Oliver huffs and then leads them out.

"You two fighting or something?" Uri claps Tobbit on the shoulder.

"Not that I know of," Tobbit answers, bemused. He watches Oliver all throughout their meal. Other than a faint twitchiness, he doesn't act any different than normal, at least normal for him. He doesn't understand Oliver's strangeness until he sees Nux and Capable waiting at the entrance to the barracks.

Nux is leaning against the warm stone, Capable held loosely in his arms, one of his hands holding her close. Oliver feels himself get a little hard just looking at them.

Tobbit tries to stay out of Oliver's rutting entanglements, and he mostly does a good job of it, but he figures a little push in this one won't hurt. A literal push. If he has to put up with Uri's snoring the least Oliver could do is enjoy himself.

Oliver stumbles towards them, and Capable bites her lip to keep from laughing as he glares at Tobbit's back as they pass by.

"Nux said it's standard to wait for an answer, but I told him it's easier to just ask for one," Capable breaks the silence. Her fingers cover Nux's hand and his body remembers how it felt to be pressed up against her, how it felt to have her hands on his skin. He knows his answer, and in true War Boy fashion, answers her like he would any other.

Nux had told her how War Boys answer but as Oliver steps into her space, she wonders if she'll ever be prepared for his lips on hers. It's different she thinks with the part of her brain that isn't swooning over being pressed against Nux as Oliver delicately puts a hand on her neck. His lips aren't scarred, and it's softer than she would've imagined. She's seen War Boys kiss, seen them press in so hard she wondered if their teeth hurt after. Seen them growling into each other's mouths, more bite than kiss, more teeth than lips.

"There's uh, more space in my room," Nux clears his throat. "Unless ya want to put on a show."

"Not this time," Capable says as she pulls away from them to start the trek up the stairs.

"This time?" Nux mutters and follows after her, Oliver right behind him.

Capable feels fluttery in her stomach, excitement makes her hurry into Nux's room, makes her turn and lean up to kiss Nux, then pull away to slot her lips against Oliver's.

Nux wasn't sure how he was going to feel once he saw Capable kiss Oliver, but he gets it now, gets why the Shinies share him, gets why Angharad never turns her face away when he kisses Dag. It's not protectiveness he feels, but it's more than affection, and a lot like love.

Oliver finds himself being pushed down by Nux and Capable and he goes willingly, arches up into Nux's hands and Capable's mouth. Nux is stripping him of his belts while Capable licks into his mouth. It's only when his belts are off and his pants partway down his legs do they stop.

Capable sits back on her feet, takes a long look at the flushed War Boy before her, spread out and ruddy red in the soft glow of the lamplight. She drags a finger down his ribs and the twitch of skin over muscle makes her smile.

"We have a bit of a plan," she starts, "but we're open to changes."

"A plan? Ya really talked about this?" Oliver sits up just enough to lean back on his elbows. Capable nods with a bit of a blush in her cheeks. Oliver doesn't know what to expect from Capable, from her soft hands and sweet mouth. If she were a War Boy he'd have her under him already, spread open and halfway to Valhalla, but she's not a War Boy. Not a Wife either, and as Shiny as she is, she isn't untouchable, not since he woke up with her in his arms sleeping soundly.

"She likes having a plan," Nux says for Capable, she's too busy staring at where Oliver is hard and straining already. He worries for a second that this might be too much, but he catches her squirm, a shift of her legs, and realizes it's not fear that's made her still. It's desire.

"I like being surprised. You two drive tonight," Oliver grins. Capable can't see Nux flush but the small duck of his head is enough to tell her exactly where his blood is flowing.

Nux chances a look at Capable, and her smile, wide and unafraid, fuels him. They had talked this over, and he knows exactly what comes next.

Oliver stops breathing as they lower mouths together, fitting their lips on him before their tongues touch him. They lick lines up and down his dick, confidant in their movements, as if somehow they've done this before. He told them to drive and it's exactly what they're doing. He's not sure how there's blood left in any other part of his body, especially not when they stop to suck at him. Nux goes first, deep throats him so quickly he barely has a chance to moan before Capable is there, her dainty mouth fit over the head, her cheeks hollowed. When she moves off him, her lips are shiny, Nux kisses her, and their hands stroke him, spit-slick and sloppy. They alternate kissing each other and putting him in their mouth, working him over until he's breathing hard, and his hips can't seem to keep still.

"If part of your plan was ta make me blow before I've even touched either of you, then we're right on schedule," Oliver remarks on a groan.

"Sorry," Capable wipes her mouth, backing away from where she'd been enthusiastically swirling her tongue.

"Don't be sorry, fuck, not about that, just, if ya want me to be useful for anything else, might want to stop." Oliver watches them share a look as if they're deciding whether that wouldn't be such a bad idea, making him come now. Capable gives him one last stroke with her hand, and then moves to straddle him.

Nux moves behind her, and this part is familiar, his hands unraveling the linen she wears, the long bit of cloth falling away from her chest and sliding between her legs. She moves her neck to the side so he can lick up to her jaw where he presses kisses. She feels him hard against her back. When the last bit of cloth falls away Oliver's eyes drink her in. He looks at her like he still doesn't understand why she's letting him have this, like she's the purr of a refurbished engine.

"Is this okay?" Capable asks. Oliver isn't sure what to do with that, it's not a question he ever gets. Over her shoulder Nux is watching him, waiting for his answer with a certain tensing around his mouth.

"Yes," he answers and sees both of their shoulders relax.

"Is there anywhere you don't like being touched?"

Another pause. He doesn't ever get asked this question either, it takes a little thought. Which is difficult because all thought is focused on how Capable's thighs are pressed against his hips.

"Not that I've encountered," then with what little blood is in his brain he thinks to ask, "Can I touch? Are there certain places I shouldn't?" Nux's face turns fond.

"You can touch, please touch. Anywhere is fine, just," she stops, one hand going to twirl a strand of her hair. Nux rests his chin on her shoulder. "Sometimes I remember, things that happened before, and I might need to stop."

"Okay," he says easily enough.

"Okay?"

"Sweetheart, ya sleep with enough War Boys and ya learn a thing about limits. Most don't ask out loud, but body language speaks just as fine. Been with more than a handful of Boys who have needed ta stop fucking once we got started. 'Specially the ones with marks like these," he slides a hand up to the faint square scar on her thigh. "Been with a few Boys with parts like yours too." His fingers caress the inside of her thighs and then move to barely brush against the damp curls at the apex of her legs. Her little gasp makes him bold, so he slides a finger through her curls and makes a noise himself at finding her wet. It's been such a long time since he had a War Boy who could self lube, he'd forgotten how slick they could be.

"Does she come easy like this?" Oliver asks Nux, purposefully avoiding her clit, letting his fingers glide along her lips and tease over her entrance.

"Depends," Nux grins.

"On?" Capable tries to move her hips to where she wants him but Nux holds her tight to him.

"If ya know what you're doing."

Capable feels like she should chide them for their teasing but Oliver's finger finally touches her clit. It's so good, and she wiggles in Nux's hold, but his hand is firm on her stomach. The noises she makes as she squirms are sweet, high-pitched and wrung out. When Nux's loosens his hold on Capable so he can get his pants off she takes advantage of the space to grind herself against Oliver's hand.

"Oi, easy," Oliver takes his fingers away from her clit and cups her, fits his hand to where she's aching to have him inside her already. Her nails scratch lightly on his stomach, impatience filling her. Oliver jerks as Nux gets his hand on his dick, and he swears that Capable's mouth curls smugly.

"Here, I've got ya," Nux whispers in her ear as he moves her back to where he has Oliver lined up and guides her.

Capable sinks down on him, she's wet enough that he's sheathed inside her quickly, a fast stretch that has her burning up from the inside.

"Oh," she moans as she arches into it.

"Fuck, ya feel good," Oliver says.

Nux watches her roll her hips a couple of times before he puts his hand on the small of her back. He's never gotten to see the indents on the side of her spine move like this. She presses back against him, bends so he gets a clear view of her stretched around Oliver's cock. He reaches for the little bottle he set aside when he took his pants off and uncaps it so he can get some of the liquid on his fingers. When they're coated, he taps Capable's shoulder.

Oliver is about to thrust up when Capable places a hand on his chest.

"Hold still for me, we've been practicing, but it might take a bit," Capable manages to pant. Oliver understands all of those words, but together they're not making much sense.

"Practicing?" Words are hard, his dick is hard, and Capable is killing him. She said not to move so he's still but her hips were moving, not much, but enough to keep him hard.

"One of the perks of rutting with someone with my parts, more holes." She giggles at his boggled expression, it's the same one Nux had given her when she had mentioned this is something she wanted.

Nux can't help but touch the bit of Oliver that isn't completely inside of Capable. He hides his smirk at Oliver's groan in Capable's hair as he presses a finger against her. They'd been getting more comfortable with this, with rutting this way, just his fingers at first until she asked for his cock. It was still slow, a gentle in and out until she moves on him, then another finger until he has a rhythm.

Oliver's good at teasing, so he stays still, solid beneath her, but his hands wander, up her sides to cup her breasts, to feel her sternum down the front of her, the tremble of her stomach. She bites her lip when he pinches a nipple and then leans up to kiss her. He uses his stomach muscles to keep himself propped up while his hands wander to join Nux's.

Nux moves his fingers away so Oliver can slip a finger inside of her perfect ass and is rewarded with a keen from Capable.

Capable's thighs start to tremble, and she's so warm, a small fire where Oliver is kissing her chest, and the points where her legs touch his, hot inside her, on Nux's fingertips. She smoothes her hands onto Oliver's chest, below the line of his scar, and pushes him back down with a firm roll of her hips.

"Nux, please." She can't wait anymore, has to have them both.

Oliver isn't sure who swears first, but hearing Capable's normally polite mannered mouth form the word 'fuck' is almost better than the strange but amazing sensation of Nux's dick sliding into place. For a War Boy who rutted around more than most, this was actually a first for him.

Nux sucks in a sharp breath, and just as he thinks he has his breathing under control, Capable moves, Oliver thrusts up, and he nearly falls apart right there.

"This is..." Oliver stops mid-sentence to thrust, his hands finding purchase on Capable's hips.

"A lot," Nux finishes for him, tuning into Oliver's motions so they're thrusting at the same time, moving into Capable like they're trying to find something there, a piece of themselves they've been missing without realizing it.

Oliver reaches for her hand, Nux already has the other, and the feeling, of them moving, of her in the middle, makes her whole body tense and then her release sparks behind her eyes, into her pelvis, so sharp it brings tears to her eyes. Her body squeezes them tries to wring their release too and it's a whole different orgasm than she's ever experienced as she twitches on them. She makes a pretty sight when she comes Oliver thinks as he gathers her up in his arms so she can rest on him. His hand splays on her lower back with Nux covering it, holding them together.

Capable's limbs are lax with contentment, it's safe here, Nux has her back, and Oliver is at her front. Their touch grounds her from floating away, and if she moves, a little wiggle just to tease, twin moans light the soft buildup of desire again.

It's her smile that does Oliver in, her vulnerability that makes his stomach muscles clench and his thrusts turn erratic. He feels her completely relaxed, smiling into his skin, and he brings his other hand up to cup her cheek, and that's it. He comes hard, the breath punched out of him.

Nux only lasts two more thrusts once Oliver's through, his fingers dig into Capable's hip, holding her close until he's spent.

"Come here," she calls to him. They both slip out of her gently, and the loss is odd. Nux wipes at her with a bit of linen, she has other ones, and puts it behind him before lowering himself next to them. Oliver reaches for him and Capable is quick to kiss him, to reconnect.

"Okay?" Nux pulls back to ask her. Her eyes are shining bright.

"More than okay. Okay?" She asks him back. He nods. Then together they turn their faces to Oliver.

"Okay??"

"I don't think I'm alive, I think I died somewhere back there," he garbles out. His mouth feels like mush, his body is mush, and the new feeling crawling into his ribs is mush.

Capable laughs against his scar.

"Well that won't do. There are more parts to this plan."

Oliver raises an eyebrow at Nux who looks nonplussed.

"More parts?"

"Mhm. In about a half hour, once my legs don't feel like mud."

"And until then?"

Capable peels herself off of Oliver to roll into Nux. She grabs Oliver's arm and tugs him against her backside.

"This is good," he says against the skin on the back of her neck.

"This is good," Nux agrees with a sigh.

Chapter Text

Furiosa rubs absently at the place just under her shoulder piece. She passes a group of War Boys heading for the loading dock and nods at them. They straighten when they see her, eyes looking down deferentially. It's still strange to walk into the Watcher's Nest and see Perdy and Jay at the scope, the room bare but for the few trailing vines Dag has coaxed along the walls. Perdy smiles brightly at her while Jay ducks his head. They move aside so she can look out. She moves the scope from its position on the Bullet Farm to down amongst the Planters. People are out sowing seeds and caring for plants already started. Their faces are smeared with dirt and sweat but most carry flasks on their hips filled with water, and off to one side there are a bunch of children playing in the red mud that's wet enough to make small castles out of. Bright spots of greenery and laughter are abundant. She has to look away for amount, steady herself.

"Bullet Town signal?" Jay asks looking out towards the large mirror.

"No. How's Zael, Perdy?" Furiosa smiles at the bit of a flush that spreads up tan cheeks. It was her job to know everything that went on in the Citadel, and it hadn't taken much for her to notice that the Bullet Farm seemed to signal more often now that Perdy was at the scope. One of the signalers for the Bullet Farm had become enamored with Perdy and they spent a small portion of the day using the communications system to talk with one another in between actual messages.

"Well! He won a pit fight last night," she beams. Furiosa lets out a small laugh.

"Very good. Eyes on," she motions at her eyes and back to the scope.

"Yes, Imperator," Perdy answers along with Jay.

The walls of the tunnels and pathways didn't have the same dreariness to them as they did when Joe reigned. They're still dim, lit just enough to prevent accidents but not enough to waste oil, and the War Boys moving through them are familiar in their bustle. Sometimes she forgets that she's the one in charge now.

"Imperator," the main piper engineer, Trowel, came up to her taking her from her thoughts.

"Did we get that leak fixed?" Furiosa isn't sure whether or not Joe ever fixed leaks or just let them flood new areas of the Citadel since they were continually finding new areas of dampness.

"All patched up s'good news." Trowel stood a head taller than her but whenever he spoke to her he'd lean down as if to put them on equal standing.

"And the bad news?"

"We need a new section o' pipe. The patch isn't gon' hold for very long."

Bad news indeed. Their scrap metal piles were mostly delegated to the garages meaning that whatever scrap metal they scavenged immediately got used up.

"Alright, I'll see what I can do." Supplies, defense tactics, innovation, was all in her control. Recently she's been trying to keep a lookout for other prospective Imperators. She's hesitant to branch out and put power back into hands that aren't the Shinies or herself, but she needs to delegate more. It's no wonder why Joe had dozens of Imperators, the work load to keep the Citadel running is simply too much for a single person.

Down in the training caves where she finds herself after second shift she watches Luther spar with Shul. Both are promising. Luther is respected, and he has a confidant command, used to training Green Boys barely out of puphood. Shul is from Gas Town, a quiet observer, good with names, and he's not easily ruffled. With a little mentoring he'll be a good pick.

She isn't too sure in her ability to mentor but she remembers Ace and how he taught, and if she can in any way emulate that she should be just fine.

Earn their respect and their loyalty will follow she hears him say as if he were right next to her, backing her up like usual, just another long day in the Citadel. Sometimes she thinks she catches glimpses of him, in G1 when she stops by to see Angharad, in the mess hall surrounded by Boys, and just for a second she'll see white paint instead of red, hear his voice above the throng, the low wheezing laugh of his. It strikes her most when she's alone like this, going about her work without Ace and Kibs on her heels, without the steady presence of backup. She shakes that thought from her head, angry for reminiscing. She needs to focus on the here and now, on the Citadel full of people who trust her to lead them.

What a mess.

"Imperator?"

She turns and sees Odie shifting his weight with an apologetic grimace as if he knows he's interrupting her inner dialogue. She takes a good look at him, just for show, and squints her eyes. He squirms but squares his chin and stares resolutely at her collarbones, as close as he'll get to her eyes without her acknowledgment. She's tempted to leave him sweating for a few moments longer but she knows he's a favorite of Cheedo's so she spares him from undo teasing.

"Yes?" She raises an eyebrow at him as he finally sneaks a peek at her face.

"Yep wonders if ya could spare a moment to drop by G2 when ya have the time. He'd like a word."

"I can spare one now," she tells him. He nods and waits for her to pass so she's leading. "Odie, how old are you?"

"'Bout 5,500 days Imperator, give or take some days."

Not quite out of puphood then. She doesn't pry anymore than that, let's silence fill the space until they reach G2.

"Furiosa!" Cheedo smiles and waves her over. "What're you doing down here?"

"Looking for Yep. What happened there?" Furiosa motions her metal hand at the crumpled front of a patrol vehicle. Cheedo rolls her eyes.

"Kol swears that a large dust devil obscured his vision and that's why he hit the boulder full on instead of swerving," Cheedo snorts. "Vale says that a horned lizard managed to sneak into the car and then up into Kol's pants. She tried to calm him down but his flailing and general screaming caused them to crash. Bruises and cuts to show for it but otherwise the only thing damaged was their vehicle."

Furiosa shook her head at that, words escaping her.

"Ah Imperator, I've a list here," Yep starts from behind her with just enough intonation that Furiosa feels a vein in her forehead throb. Yep's lists usually start off innocuous enough yet by the end of them wind up so overblown with parts and tools that she doesn't think they'll ever find everything on one of his lists. Still she listens to Yep, makes sure that he knows she's trying. Hardly any of the older War Dogs had her respect but Yep was one of the rare ones. More bark than bite, if she promoted him to be an Imperator he would be a great example of how to act.

"Boss?" Yep's sharp tone chastises her for not listening. She grimaces as she fights the urge not to squirm like a guilty Pup under his discerning eyes.

"You were saying?" She levels him with her full attention and notes how he doesn't shy away from her eyes or her presence.

Furiosa glares at the scrap of paper back in her office before placing it on the growing pile of demands that need to be met. She rubs an eye with the heel of her flesh hand.

"Doesn't get any easier does it?" Orsa smiles as she leans in the doorway.

"Not particularly. Something I could do for you?"

Orsa's smile got deeper, the crinkles around her mouth quirking with amusement. She opened her hands and spread them out.

"You've already done it. You gave me the chance to see The Green Place again. It's not what you can do for me, but what I can do for you. Your lover is worried about you. She says you've not been sleeping properly and since you won't confide in her she thought maybe an older wisdom would help." Orsa leans back in her chair and crosses her boots on the desk.

Furiosa stares.

"Angharad asked you to console me?"

"Well, she didn't say it in that way." Orsa's eye twinkles with something close to mirth but with a hint of mischief.

Furiosa feels the fine hair on the back of her neck stand up. It's been a long time since she's been mothered but there's no other way to describe this feeling of anxiousness. Vuvalini elders were quite the meddlers if her memory didn't fail her. Angharad might be concerned over the restless nights but Furiosa doubts she would go to the Vuvalini for answers. She is more likely to be confrontational than to slink around and gossip.

"I see. There's nothing to be worried about. It's been hotter than normal, and-"

"It's not the weather that furrows your forehead," Orsa interrupts. "Your mother was the same way, always taking on too much, putting too much blame and not enough absolution on her shoulders. What's really been bothering you?"

Furiosa crosses her arms and grimaces. Orsa smiles patiently.

"I can't do it all myself," she grits out, her jaw clenched. Orsa frowns.

"You don't mean running the Citadel do you? Of course you can't do it all yourself," the Vuvalini doesn't mask the bafflement in her tone.

"I know that," she sighs.

"You took a leap of faith back there on the Fury Road. A leap of hope. Don't stop making those leaps," Orsa says as she leans over to grip Furiosa's hand.

Right as Furiosa opens her mouth the drums go off signaling an incoming friendly.

Orsa doesn't say anything as Furiosa takes her hand back and rushes from the room, but her smile turns into a grin.

"Who is it?" Furiosa asks before she's barely all the way into the Watcher's Nest.

"It's Max's Rig, he's unaccompanied," Perdy relays while looking through the telescope.

Furiosa pushes past the War Boys clogging the tunnels, even barrels into a few who are too slow to get out of her way. She spots Max getting out of the Rig and her shoulders drop a little from seeing the dirt on his face and the slight limp he's walking with. His eyes find hers over the fussing black thumbs, Cheedo included, and she notes how tired he looks. When she finally gets to him she hesitates a moment but his arms are opened slightly and the twitch of his hands has her wrapping her arms around him just as quickly as he's stepping into her embrace.

"Think I might stay awhile," he says in that familiar gravelly voice.

"Good," she replies and holds him just a little bit tighter.

Chapter Text

Max tries to stay out of the way of most of the War Boys, the bustle of them still a bit too much after being alone for so long. He winds up in the gardens for the first few days, the open air a little less stifling than the too crowded hallways. He likes watching The Dag stomp around, still wearing boots too big for her feet, with a tiny pink child toddling after her on unsteady feet. He's only slightly worried about Saxa being underfoot until he sees the two War Boys shadowing her and the eyes that follow her as she passes by. There's more green here than he's seen in any one place, even the road in is littered in wildflowers. And things hide in all that green, tiny swift birds, and long slithering lizards. Creatures he thought long dead. Living things that somehow have found this haven amongst all the sand and salt. Bugs flitter about, some too slow for quick clay painted hands. He's starting to doze when he hears Saxa shout.

"Da!" She turns and stumbles towards Nux who is already bending to scoop her up. Dag tugs on the belt loop on his pants and smiles. It's a surreal moment, one that almost hurts in its gentleness. Nux reaches to touch her hand and then walks back down the stairs with Saxa babbling in his arms. Dag looks over and sees his stare which makes him look away but he can already hear her plodding closer. A swirl of air is the only warning he gets before she's sitting next to him.

"He's dying," she says. If it were any of the others he would try to comfort them, but The Dag's bluntness isn't a call for sympathy.

"He's always been dying," Max replies. Having served as a life source for many of them, Max knows quite intimately how Nux is dying.

"Yes. It's good that you're here to stay. To witness it. Witness him, whenever he takes that final ride."

"Mm."

The Dag faces him, her all-seeing eyes focusing on him. He waits for her to pick up on whatever it is she's discerning.

"Don't stay too long in the gardens. They have a way of distorting things and that's not something you need right now. When the mirage comes, don't get stuck."

Max thinks about her words all day. They interrupt the running away he's still doing and although it's irritating he can't help but agree. He's been hiding out in the gardens, away from all of it. Still apart even when he's right there. He knows he's doing it but he still can't get himself to leave.

He stubbornly closes his eyes, tries to sleep, but his leg aches, and the War Pups tending to the garden are chatty. Even when the sky darkens, the stars are too bright, and the sudden buzz of nighttime insects keep him from sleeping. He's still trying to dream when he gets a nudge in his side. A kick really.

Angharad glares down at him with her arms crossed over her chest. Her forehead is smeared with grease and for a moment she looks so like Furiosa that his vision blurs.

"What's that for?" He grumbles and sits up.

"Thought you staying would mean I'd have to share, so I've been sleeping with my Boys or Nux, or my family, anyone but with her, thinking you'd finally gotten over whatever hang-ups you have, but no. I peek in on her and she's in her room alone and here you are, also alone. If I'd thought you weren't going to go to her I wouldn't have left her to spend her nights in her bed without a warm body."

Max doesn't sigh but his shoulders droop a little.

"Hang-ups?" His voice roughs out. Angharad rolls her eyes with her whole head so that her hair slides down her arm.

"You came back for her didn't you?"

He looks down at his hands.

"She's been waiting for you to come back. We've all been waiting. Come on then, we aren't going to disappoint her any longer," she holds her hand out.

He doesn't take them and she wiggles her fingers.

"You know you've been gone for a bit, but when an Imperator asks something of someone around here, it usually gets done."

He half-grins at that, and the teasing in her tone. He's not surprised that her feet don't budge an inch when he takes her hand and lets her help him up. He's noticed the muscle she has in her arms, the physical strength she's hard earned. So much has changed and he feels strangely guilty that he missed it.

He hesitates when they reach Furiosa's room, stops right outside the entrance. Angharad spins to look at him in the dimness. She reaches to clasp his hand in both of hers.

"Stop overthinking this. You watched over us in the wasteland, I know you did. This is the same," she whispers to him.

"Wouldn't want to bother-"

"You're not. You're welcome here. With us. And with her. Now come on, the drums seem to start earlier and earlier these days and I have a patrol shift first thing." She tugs on his hand and this time he follows her.

Furiosa wakes as Angharad shuffles beneath the blankets. Angharad nestles into the crook of the back of her strong neck. She's sleep warm and soft like this although Angharad can still feel the slight bump of the gun stashed under the pillow.

Max watches how easily Angharad fits into Furiosa, and for a moment he feels all of his days wear down on him. Did he ever have something like this? Do they understand how rare it is?

How easily it could be stripped away?

He can't bring himself to lie down beside them, to enter into the space they've left for him. Not yet. Not now. Instead he sits down in front of the bedside closest to Furiosa, squares his back against the wood grain, eyes on the door.

“Fool,” he hears Furiosa sigh.

Maybe, this is how it starts.