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“Takahashi! I’ve never been happier to see you in my life, pal,” Nate sighs with great relief as he collapses onto one of the bar stools before his favorite Diamond City merchant, palms pressed eagerly against the countertop.

The Protectron in question jerkily turns to face Nate to ask his usual, “Nan-ni shimasho-ka?”

“Gimme the special of the day—or just, whatever you got, honestly. I’m up for eating boiled leather at this point.”

With a nod of greeting towards Takahashi, Nick moves to take a seat at the counter as well. He doesn’t bodily throw himself onto his seat like Nate did, but he does watch his human companion curiously as Nate practically drools over the sight of Takahashi serving him a hearty bowl of noodles. Maybe not the fanciest thing—not for Nate, who needs to eat often, who will die without food, Nick sometimes has to consciously remember—but it’ll do the job.

They’ve been out of town for the better part of a week, and while Nate does bring supplies with him, it’s obviously not usually enough to cover upwards of four days; too heavy to lug around, with everything else in his backpack. But they’d been scouting out in the boonies mostly, and not even a wandering caravan crossed their path in the several days they were out. Troublesome indeed.

Nick might not remember what it truly feels like to be hungry, but by the way Nate is half-choking down his meal, it obviously takes its toll on the human body.

“Slow down, kid,” Nick advises sagely, giving Nate a pointed glance. “It’s not gonna walk out of the bowl.”

S’rry,” Nate slurps around a mouthful, gulping down whatever’s currently in his mouth before he gives Nick a sheepish kind of grin, brows drawn together as he wipes his chin with his hand. “I’m just hungry—starving, kind of? I didn’t know noodles could taste so good,” he adds, stealing another slurp before he says, “But I think that’s more because I was ready to eat my hat.”

“You should’ve said something before,” Nick says, but it’s not entirely accusatory—it’s more out of guilt on his part. It’s just that, despite everything Nick should know about himself, about being human in general, he forgets a lot. Eating, sleeping, hell, even smoking. Nick doesn’t have to do any of these things (and can’t actually do several other basic human functions), and it’s been a pretty long time since he’s spent enough time around a human that it’s easy to forget Nate just isn’t built like him.

But, at least Nate is forgiving (or perhaps just sympathetic?), Nick thinks when he watches Nate shake his head dismissively before he picks up his bowl and chugs every last drop of broth.

Nate is sipping a beer, legs kicked up with his ankles crossed one over the other, resting on the edge of Nick’s desk. There’s nothing they’ve been called out to check up on, so Nick is trying to get some of his paperwork together on a few other cases to spare poor Ellie the task of rummaging through his chicken scratch; maybe he isn’t human, but he sure writes like one, the girl tuts every time Nick hands her his notepad.

Ah,” Nate sighs after the first sip, licking his upper lip. “Nothin’ like a…” he pauses, “moderately-chilled beer.”

Nick hums a sound of acknowledgement, but doesn’t outwardly comment. He pretends there is something far more important in reading his messy scrawl about “taking off with dames—no caps???” that doesn’t make much sense out of context, but he is a little too distracted to focus on context.

He isn’t sure how long he’s looking at the same six words before he realizes Nate is talking to him again.


“Yeah?” He decides to actually glance at Nate this time, surprised to see the human sitting up in his seat properly, feet down on the floor as he leans in a little.

“I can hear your processors whirring from here,” Nate tells him, dryly so, before he gets a more sympathetic expression. “Something wrong?”

Nick wants to lie, but he knows he can’t. Even if Nate weren’t as incredible with his intuition about others (even if they aren’t human) as he is, Nick just wouldn’t be able to sit right with himself if he started fibbing to Nate. He’s a good guy, and if he’s managed to trust Nick with the things he has… it’s only fair for Nick to contribute to the mutual pool of trust between them.

“I don’t know what it’s like,” Nick says after a long pause, cryptically so. Nate pulls a face, opening his mouth to ask for more, but he doesn’t have to ask before Nick continues, “The beer. The noodles last week. Any of it. It’s been a long time since I… er, Nick, has felt any of that.”

For some reason, Nate’s expression melts into something of worry, maybe guilt. He looks Nick in the very-unhuman eyes for a long moment, almost like he’s trying to process the admission.

“I’m sorry,” Nick quickly adds, because if there’s one thing he truly can’t take much of these days, it’s Nate pitying him like the sorry hunk of scrap parts he seems to be. “It isn’t you or anything you’ve done, kid. Don’t you worry about me. I guess I’m just a little stuck in the past, that’s all.”

Nate’s expression comically drops into something far more bemused than should be possible. Nick gives him A Look (capitalization completely necessary for the Looks he is capable of giving, or so Nate has told him) in turn.

“You seriously think I’m just gonna sit here and blow you off after you tell me something like that?” Nate asks, and he doesn’t sound very happy with the thought. “Nick…”

He sighs, rubbing his more-human hand over his face. “Look, I—“

“No,” Nate interrupts, pursing his lips a little, but it’s more in thought than out of anger or anything like that. “This is important. I know you, Valentine,” he says with a coy smile, aiming a finger at Nick. “You can’t brush me off as easily as you do with Ellie.”

Nick feels a little embarrassed to be called out like that (he has nothing against Ellie, not at all, but sometimes it’s easier to shrug the heavy things off rather than burden her with them), but all he does is sit back in his seat, crossing his arms over his chest. Nate smiles at him for a beat longer before he gets that thoughtful expression on his face once more. Nick distantly thinks he should worry.

“What about…” Nate says slowly, like he’s still thinking the thought through as he speaks. He seems to take a different train of thought, sitting up a little more before he tries again. “Remember when we went to the Memory Den together, about Kellogg? Doctor Amari?”

“Hard to forget,” Nick replies, a little grim. “What brought that up?”

Nate’s smiling a little now. He has something up his sleeve. Nick is, admittedly, pretty curious about what he’s storming up, but hesitant. He allows Nate to continue, giving him a little nod to keep going.

“Well, she managed to get me into Kellogg’s memories. What’s to say you can’t get into mine?”

Nick feels his processors stutter as he realizes, all at once, that he is completely confused with what Nate is trying to tell him. “Why would I wanna do that?”

Any smile Nate was wearing falls into an expression of thought, solemn and focused. “Going through Kellogg’s head was so real to me in the moment. It was… indescribable, really. I felt everything he must’ve felt at the time, saw everything, heard everything… It felt like, just for a second, I really was Kellogg.”

Nate is quiet for a long moment. Nick isn’t sure if it’s from the trauma of the memories or something else that makes him pause, but he does eventually continue, “I figure that maybe your memories just need a refresher? You already know what all this stuff is like, but it’s been a long time for you, like you said. If I could help… I want to help, Nick.”

The sincerity in Nate’s tone is humbling. Nick isn’t sure whether to feel guilty or elated, but finds himself somewhere in between. Nate’s selflessness is truly one of the better things he’s seen on this side of the war, leaving Nick speechless at the worst of times. He doesn’t know what to say, but Nate seems to read the expression on his very-worn synthetic face.

Nate smiles at him with those impossibly-straight teeth of his, and Nick finds himself smiling back.

A week later finds the pair in Goodneighbor.

It’s raining when they arrive, which makes Nick a little wary (but he’s always a little more cautious around water; his semi-exposed wires and circuits make it a hard worry to push aside). But Nate just gives him a grin as they shuffle through the narrow alleyway and around the corner towards the Memory Den.

“Perfect weather for sitting around, at least,” Nate says, hunching a little to tug his coat up over his head when another downpour starts up. They both pick up the pace to run the few feet left towards the front door.

Nick still isn’t sure how he feels about all of this, but he doesn’t comment. Instead, they both walk up the hall—though Nate does step aside to greet Kent for a moment—and chat with Irma.

“Amari’s in the back,” she tells them, but not without a particular leer in Nick’s direction. “I hope you two aren’t up to any trouble.”

Even with all he’s trying to process (mostly the thought that they’re doing this, they’re doing this, they’re really doing this?), Nick manages a coquettish smile in her direction. “You know me better than that.”

Irma smiles at the teasing, waving them along.

Nick tries not to knock his processors offline with his own uncertainty as he follows after Nate silently. Cool and collected, he reminds himself when he nearly staggers down the steps.

“Are you ready?” Doctor Amari asks, ducking down to look at Nate properly. He’s seated comfortably inside the memory lounger, adjusting his position a little before looking to her. He looks more like he’s settling in for a nap rather than yielding his mind to Nick for the next half-hour.

Nate nods, glancing to Nick with a smirk before looking back to the doctor. “I won’t be doing much, so I’d say I’m more than ready,” he replies easily, but then turns his attention back to Nick. “You ready for this?”

Nick seems surprised to be asked such a thing, but with both Nate and Doctor Amari looking at him expectantly, he forces himself to nod. “Ready when you are, doc.”

“Alright then,” she agrees, moving to check that everything is in proper working order before she closes the glass over Nate’s seat, then doing the same for Nick. The thought of this is actually happening would have make Nick’s heart hammer, if he had more than just an inorganic pump inside his chest.

 “Have fun in there, Nick,” is the last thing Nick hears, recognizing Nate’s smile through his words before the world goes white.

There’s a few spurts of memories that come to him, at first. Nick is baffled when, at one point, he looks down to two very human hands, only to realize in the next moment, when he’s suddenly reaching for a Nuka Cola, that he isn’t just watching Nate’s memories. He’s actually experiencing them first-hand, through Nate’s eyes, through Nate himself.

He can actually feel the Nuka Cola bottle in his hand, the wetness of condensation on the glass, the chill of the drink. When he pops the cap, Nick half expects Nate to stuff it in his pocket. But then he’s drinking it, feeling the bubbles sizzle on his tongue and down his throat as he chugs one sip, two sips, then pulls off with a loud sigh. Nick doesn’t know what to make of it, but something in the back of his head supplies him with refreshing, so that must be what this is called.

The world flashes white just as he raises the bottle to his lips once more.

Nick is sitting at a dining table in a house that is certainly not post-war.

Everything seems so bright, so many colors aside from the general dustiness and grime that the war has left behind. He wants to look around, but he doesn’t seem to have control of that; his line of focus is through a doorway, into the kitchen. There’s a woman coming towards him, make-up on her face, but the happiness in her eyes has nothing to do with her mascara or liner. She’s holding something large in her hands, and it isn’t until she reaches the table and sets it down does Nick understand it’s a pie.

A freshly baked pie, it seems. He can smell it—buttery and sweet and entirely drool-inducing. Nick isn’t sure he himself has ever smelled something so delicious.

“Your mother brought boysenberries over the other day when she stopped by,” the woman is explaining. Nora, something tells him, is her name. “She said they were for jam, but… well,” she grins, already cutting a slice to slide on Nick’s plate. “You know how terrible I am in the kitchen; it’s amazing this pie isn’t burned to a crisp!”

With an impressive slice on his plate, Nick looks to her, touched by the kiss she presses to his lips—a kiss that he feels. Really, actually feels. The softness of her lips, like petals, and her smile against his own. But it only lasts a moment, before she eagerly tells him, “Go on, honey, dig in! Tell me if it’s good!”

He feels the weight metal of the fork in his hand as he cuts himself a bite. It’s weird not to feel his synthetic joints under thick, tough, ruined skin—he wonders if Nate’s sense of touch is still this delicate? He lifts it to his mouth, expects the same as he’s always known from food (from his own misplaced memories, not from personal experience), expects nothing, but nearly falls back out of his seat when the flavors seem to explode on his tongue. If this wasn’t Nate’s memory, Nick is sure he’d be literally floored.

The flaky, slightly-burned crust that melts in his mouth. The rich, complex sour-sweetness of the filling. Even the slight tang of the fork as he pulls it out from between his lips. It’s warm—not scalding or hot, but just right—and he closes his eyes as the bite slides down his throat.

It’s a lot to process, more than Nick’s system could probably handle, in reality. But for right now, for this one moment, Nick can pretend that this is really his. He loses himself in the sensations as he continues eating, and after the first slice—thank Christ—Nate is gifted another by the kind woman at his side. He’s aware that he’s talking to her, but it’s part of the memory, not actually Nick saying something to her.

She kisses his cheek, messes with his hair, and her touch is so real, it’s nothing like Nick has ever personally experienced.

The world goes white.

Nick is standing in a bathroom this time.

It’s all still pre-war, from how untouched and pristine everything looks. The tiles that line the lower halves of the walls are a pale green, but it matches the blue-tinted white of the other details: the shower curtain, the towels.

He’s grabbing one of those towels—so soft, plush—to toss on the sink. Nick doesn’t catch his reflection in the mirror, but he doesn’t have to look in the mirror to know that he’s naked. (The fact he’s reaching for the shower curtain is enough to tell him that much, anyway.) Just as he’s moving to turn the first knob to start the water running, there’s a voice. It’s the woman from earlier—Nora—saying something about late night at the office and I’ve got to be there and I love you, honey! before there’s a slam of the front door, he assumes.

He resumes turning the shower on, and ooh, okay, this is something truly wonderful indeed. Almost as good as the pie, honestly.

Nick steps into the shower carefully, shutting the curtain behind him. He holds his head up to the water, eyes shut, but it’s warm and gentle as it pours over him. He can almost feel all of his muscles unclenching, relaxing under the soothing spray, and all he can do is stand there and enjoy it (like that’s something awful! Ha!) until memory-Nate decides to move them.

He runs his hands over his chest, up over his face, back through his hair. Not exactly washing but just relaxing, calming down, enjoying. Nick is almost overwhelmed with so many sensations happening at once, but the only word he can think of to describe it is heavenly. He is fairly surprised at how nice it feels to run his hands over himself like that, feeling the drag of skin on skin as his hands slide to rest at his shoulders.

He looks down, just for a quick moment, but Nick already has a feeling about what the rest of this shower will entail.

It’s not so much that Nick is inexperienced with these matters (he is, of course, but that obviously stems more from the fact he’s a gen 2 synth without genitalia), because he, of course, has memories from Nick. Nothing that he’s actually gotten the chance to live out himself, but this, Nate allowing him the chance to experience these things through his memory—it at least makes it a little less awkward for Nick to willingly stare at Nate’s half-hard cock.

He doesn’t exactly know what he’s doing, since he’s never had an actual human body to please, but Nate’s memories do most of the work for him, in that regard. Nick doesn’t have to think about what he’s doing, he can just enjoy the drag of his hands over his skin, letting them slide low and lower yet. By the time he’s actually got both hands at his cock, the only thing Nick is thinking about is yes and wow and other incoherent, stunned thoughts. He’s never felt anything like this—his own sense of touch is dull in comparison to Nate’s in general—but now he gets to have it all, everything he was supposed to believe he’d had before, everything that the actual Nick had the chance to indulge in, the lucky bastard.

His hands know exactly what to do, one going down to cup and massage his testicles, which is quite the sensation in itself. Nick doesn’t have actual words for what it’s like, because all of this is just so foreign to his own thoughts and experiences—but it still feels wonderful, in a slow-burn kind of way.

While his left hand works on that, his right grips his hardening cock. The pace is very slow, with little rhythm, but somehow it still feels perfect. Nick knows that humans (well, okay, most males of any species) are very particular about the size and everything, but Nick couldn’t care less about it all. He’s not even thinking about it—because that would be pretty weird, wouldn’t it? (Says the guy touching himself via his companion’s most precious pre-war memories.) Nick just… tries not to think about any of the details, not wanting to ruin his focus on the feeling of it all.

His eyes close, but humans are amazing in that way, where everything is still just as intense—maybe even moreso—without a line of sight; Nick is used to slipping into a stand-by when he goes idle for too long, but this is just… something else entirely.

One wouldn’t expect such a marvelous, wonderful, incredible sensation from just touching a specific organ, but Nick easily loses himself in the pleasure that coils in his lower stomach, in the intense want that makes every nerve in his body seemingly far more sensitive than usual. The only thing Nick can think of is getting more, and his body seems to react accordingly to his need. His strokes speed up, the hand not jerking his cock still holding his sac, rolling it carefully between his fingers. Careful, but still so intent with the purpose of pleasure—it’s impressive the human body can be so complex.

Nick knows the technicalities of what will happen next, of course, but it’s an entirely different thing to experience it himself, not just through implanted memories he knows aren’t his own. This memory isn’t his own either, but, well… Nate had been the one to share this experience with him, it wasn’t just something that was imprinted in his hardware to believe.

It almost feels like sensory overload, the closer he gets to orgasm. Every stroke of his hand wrings each nerve, from his head to his toes, of pleasure. He feels himself shaking, trembling, but it’s not from cold or sickness or anything like that—it’s just goodness and perfect and yes.

He leans forward, pressing his forehead to the tile wall of the shower. The warm water pours over his back, a delicious feeling indeed, but it pales in comparison to the pleasure building tight as he jerks himself with more desperation now. Surprisingly, the desperation he feels is not inherently bad—humans are odd—just needing and wanting and yes, yes, yes—

The moment seems to hit him all at once, when the pleasure peaks and all Nick can do is stroke and writhe and let himself spill over his fingers. He trembles from the feeling, knows that he’s probably moaning, but the rush of the water and the fact most of his blood is down below his beltline makes it hard to think about, or care. All he can truly focus on is wringing himself dry, stroking every last drop of pleasure from his cock, until the only thing he wants to do his collapse and sleep—which is a very weird desire, Nick thinks, for someone who has never actually slept. Not like humans do, anyway.

Even the exhaustion that seems to hit him seconds after the pleasure is enjoyable, not in the same way an orgasm is, but it’s definitely something Nick isn’t used to. Maybe that’s why he likes it, because it’s just one of those human feelings he’s never actually had a chance to enjoy himself, relying only on the human memories (excruciatingly old memories) in his head for reference.

He tries to savor it all as best he can; the water spray against his back, the slackening of his muscles as he sinks into a further state of relaxation, the pleasure-induced exhaustion that makes him move slowly as he continues his shower. The way his fingers feel as they card through his hair, massage shampoo into it, how his nails feel against his scalp.

All too soon, Nick thinks, the world fades to white.

Nick can hear his own processors whirring when he comes to, obviously trying to make up for the lapse in consciousness. He can’t help running a diagnostic, only because it feels normal to do, yet feels so different from all he’d just experienced.

“—a little groggy,” Doctor Amari is saying as the lid on his lounger slowly pulls back, “so be careful, Mister Valentine. Don’t get up if you aren’t able to.”

Nick manages a little nod, feels a little better when he’s gotten the all-clear from his internal systems, and takes a moment to settle back into reality. Apparently, he recovers for longer than expected, because Amari comes to peek at him with a frown at one point.

“Are you experiencing any side effects?” She asks, professional as always.

At least he can muster up a smile her way. He feels normal enough to attempt getting up, which the doctor politely steps back to allow. “I’m fine, I’m fine,” Nick reassures, sitting his fedora back on his head. He turns to give her a polite nod, “Thanks for everything, doc.”

Doctor Amari smiles, just a little, and nods in turn. “Your friend went back upstairs.”

Nick hums in acknowledgement, thanks her again, and moves to make his way back up the steps. It’s a little weird, being himself again after getting to be so much more than just… Nick the synth, but he tries not to dwell on it. He doubts Nate would appreciate him being so negative about something meant to help him out, which it certainly did.

He finds Nate outside the Memory Den, hiding under the overhang of the building. It’s still raining, and Nate has his coat tucked tight around him, collar popped for added effect. He’s nursing a cigarette, but when he hears the door open, he snaps his head to look, smiling fondly at Nick as he wanders close.

Nick takes his place beside the other, tugs out his own case of cigarettes to light up; they won’t be leaving Goodneighbor until the rain lets up (for Nate is just as sympathetic to Nick’s technologic turmoil as Nick is towards Nate’s human hold-ups), so they’re in no hurry, really.

He takes a drag, and only after he’s let out a breath does Nate turn and look at him.


Nick glances at him. “So, what?” He isn’t really sure what to say, what to do. Thank Nate? Talk about what he got to experience? Mention Nate is really good with his hands?

Nate rolls his eyes, giving Nick a light swat. “What’d you think? Any good?”

Nick opens his mouth, but finds he is speechless. He doesn’t know how to explain any of it—it was easy to feel and enjoy and get lost in all of it, in Nate’s memories, but actually trying to explain what it was like… He is lost.

But, he thinks only a second later, perhaps Nate is asking for a reason other than face value. Maybe he has some kind of doubt about everything, maybe he wasn’t sure Nick would enjoy what he’d have to offer in experiences. That thought is comical, enough that it earns a chuckle out of Nick as he takes another puff of his cigarette.

“It was good, kid. It was… much more than just “good”—a million other things, better things. I just don’t… have all the words for it,” Nick admits, looking to Nate again. “But good, it definitely was. I… I can’t thank you enough, for that.”

Nate seems pleased with this, or relieved, Nick can’t quite tell. Neither of them say anything for a little longer, which is comforting—maybe Nick isn’t as lost in all this as he’d felt before.

After a moment, Nate tosses his cigarette, squishing it out with his boot as he looks to Nick, almost a little sheepish.

“I’m starving,” Nate admits. “I’m gonna see what Daisy’s got—it’s not as great as noodles, but…” he trails off with a grin.

Nick manages a smile. “You always manage to remind me just how glad I am about not having to eat. It’s practically a talent of yours.”

Nate laughs at that, fixing his coat as he moves to step out towards the rain. Nick moves to follow, but they don’t actually move just yet. Nate seems to stare out at nothing for a minute before he looks to Nick, sincere and kind as he usually is.

“If you need to do stuff like this,” Nate says, nodding back towards the Memory Den, “just say so, Nick. I’ve got more than a few memories stocked up for you to mooch on.”

Even though his words are a little teasing, Nate is sincere, and that on its own makes Nick’s synthetic heart melt (well, not literally, of course). He doesn’t know what to say to the offer, so he says nothing, instead moving to step out into the rain himself (after being sure he’s as covered as can be), turning to look at Nate.

“Lunch is on me,” Nick tells him, and Nate practically shoves past Nick to take him up on the offer.