Arthur Maxson, Elder of the Eastern Branch of The Brotherhood of Steel, would never allow a Vault Dweller , of all people, to undermine his rule. He was not a man to be trifled with. Juliana, however, was not the kind of Vault Dweller he’d grown to know. From the moment Paladin Danse personally sponsored her, he knew she was a rogue variable. Danse, being a long time friend, caused him to give her a chance. It was a gamble he didn't know the odds of. He didn’t know immediately if he would regret it. It wasn’t as if he was expecting a completely subordinate wastelander to be standing in front of him, but he didn’t expect a pretty slip of a thing with such a sweet face. He was expecting at least one gnarly scar on her cheek but hers was smooth and blemish free. He imagined the Council would approve if he courted her simply for that reason. Close-minded, backwards thinking, old fools, thinking only of appearances and fertility. It was as if she was made of prewar porcelain.
Her short stature was oddly alluring compared to his burly self. The way her eyes were hidden behind shades made her stand out amongst the new recruits wearing Brotherhood uniforms. It took deliberate determination to not spend too long glancing at her during his speech. Once he finished his speech with a salute and dismissal, he ordered for Danse and herself to remain. Only then did he allow himself to size her up as they approached in tandem. There was an uncommon fullness to her figure. She clearly hadn’t lived with a food shortage in her Vault, as well endowed as he could tell despite her bulky armor that seemed too big for her. Danse had mentioned something about her being the only survivor of her Vault in his report that he had skimmed over, Arthur wrote off her full figure with the incident possibly being recent as the reason. The Council would think her hips are good for birthing, as if that's all a woman's purpose is. A woman is just as capable as a man for Steels sake. With a furrowed brow at his train of thought, he finally took his eyes off of her to address his Paladin, hoping his scowl would prevent any attention to his intrigue.
“Paladin, this is the new recruit you so highly commended in your report?” Hands clasped firmly behind his back, he made a point not to glance over to the recruit in question.
“Yes, Elder. I have field promoted her to Initiate after observing her good judgement and excellent aim extensively in the field. I believe she will be a fine addition to the Brotherhood. There is no doubt in my mind that Initiate Harding will be pivotal in our assault on the Institute. She has prewar information Quinlan would love to get his hands on as well as having good relationships with Diamond City and... Goodneighbor. Harding answered Squad Gladius’ call for help during a particularly heavy feral attack. I dare say that it is thanks to her that we survived. If not for her quick thinking and kindness, Scribe Haylen wouldn't have been able to fix the transmitter at the police station or discover what happened to Paladin Brandis and his team.” Danse spoke confidently, no hint of doubt in his voice. Arthur found such praise from Danse to be odd. Never before had the man spoken so highly of a civilian. Maxsons brows were raised before he narrowed his eyes as if to dissect the reason from his expressions, he watched as his closest friend gave nothing up.
“I have read your report, Paladin. No need to bolster our introduction with flattery. I will make my own judgements on her performance after a time.” It was then in the lull before Danse could reply that Maxsons brow twitched. He could feel the weight of her scrutiny on him so he turned to return it. Danses own brows were drawn into a frown as he hoped she wouldn't do something inappropriate like laugh or hurl an incriminating clause while in the Elder's presence.
“Is there something you wish to add, Initiate?” She pressed her lips into a flat line and her sculpted eyebrows drew down in what he assumed was a furrow. He couldn’t help but let his gaze linger on the full, rosey mouth of hers for a noticeable few seconds. Arthur wondered what those lips could do. Suddenly, she cleared her throat. She'd caught him staring like a fool. Damn those sunglasses. He let his signature scowl harden, the mail from the Council he received the night before was making him short tempered. It'd been another warning to get hitched and provide a suitable heir for the Maxson line, and of course a relatively suitable, attractive candidate appears before him the very next day.
“Paladin,” he began swiftly, “see to it that Initiate Harding is afforded proper Brotherhood attire along with her bunk and orientation of the ship.” Danse saluted as sharp as steel. “You're dismissed, Paladin. Initiate Harding will meet you in the mess hall shortly.” Her staying went unspoken, the slight pout of her resting lips returned to a line as she and the Paladin glanced at each other. Her sponsor lingered a little longer than necessary as if conflicted. Peculiar. A look of concern flashed briefly before the tin man left. Maxson didn't dare speak until the sound of heavy stomping grew faint. Turning to gaze out his magnificent viewport, he gestured for her to do the same.
“I care about them, you know. The people of the Commonwealth.” She was unaffected by his attempt at pathos, choosing to stare blatantly at him instead. He cleared his throat. “They’re facing an invisible villain, or rather, a very well hidden institution.” Maxson drew a sigh from her at that and took a deep breath to keep from sneering at her lack of feedback. “Paladin Danse is putting his reputation on the line by choosing to sponsor you. I advise you to at least act like a proper soldier instead of the wastelander you are, surely they taught you proper etiquette in your Vault.” Maxson could tell that riled her up. Good, she'll quickly show her true colors. “You may have gotten Paladin Danses seal of approval, but you have yet to earn mine. I simply accepted his request because it is such an uncharacteristic thing for him to do. Basically, an experiment of sorts. If you fail to meet my standards, then the person who you would not want to disappoint will be punished.” He whispered so that no one else could hear.
“He heaped praise upon praise for your abilities, but you're proving to be just another ignorant scavenger, aren't you?” The anger drained from what little he could see of her face in the span of a half of a second. It was a small, short lived victory to have nearly witnessed her explode in a flying rage so he could have physically released some of his tension by restraining her.
“Danse told me to hold my tongue, but seeing as to how you sent him out to tell me things I already knew and have heard before I don't see the point in prolonging this strenuous attempt at a good first impression.” She spoke softly and collected. He scowled harder, turning to make sure the idling soldiers standing guard weren't eavesdropping. Maxson glared especially hard on the ones who chose to linger until they left the relative area. He bristled, having not expected this outburst to come out so sweetly soft yet stern from the petite woman. “Yes, I may just look like another wastelander to you but as a leader so esteemed, I'd have thought you would know better than to judge a book by its cover.” The disapproval and spite in her hushed voice made him uneasy for the first time in a while. He began to strongly doubt approving of Danses sponsorship.
“Everyone else around might think you're the second coming of Christ, but to me you just look like a little boy playing dress up with an ego problem the size of this blimp.” He couldn't believe what he was hearing and that someone dared to speak to him so rudely. His nostrils flared and he opened his mouth to speak but she held up a hand and he found himself shutting up. “I'm not done yet, sir .” What-- Why am I not stopping her? She seemed to be on a roll. He felt like a scolded child.
“Initiate, rethink this--” Maxson drew to his full height and puffed out his chest only to be dwarfed merely by her own much smaller presence.
“Are you trying to intimidate me? Me? Have you not read Paladin Danses report or something, sir? I am older than you by a long shot so don't give me this childish hyper masculine display. I've met enough guys like you in my time to know exactly what you are doing.” It was all he could do to blink at her gall as she scoffed and laughed coldly at him. What does she assume I'm trying to do? “You're acting like a sheltered, uptight, virginal troglodyte.” Maxson blanched before going red in the face, both from embarrassment and rage. I am not some prehistoric barbarian... An unbidden reminder of his lack of prowess sunk into his mind before he could stop it. He huffed to banish the thought.
“I should have you thrown overboard for your blatant disrespect, Initiate. Seeing as to how Paladin Danse would be disgraced, I will refrain from doing so-- for now. This conversation is terminated and never happened, if you insist on your belligerence, you will be punished in turn-- and so will Paladin Danse.” For the first time, she let him continue. Arthur cleared his throat before continuing.
“I will not deny that I am treated well and with consideration, I am a Maxson after all and the last of my line. On another note, do not allow yourself to believe you're any different from the others aboard my ship because of who your sponsor is.” He garnered no response. After giving her ample time to pipe up, Maxson narrowed his eyes at her and continued.
“I look forward to your service and accomplishments on behalf of the Eastern Branch of The Brotherhood of Steel. Don't disappoint me.” Why did I tell her that? I've already made it clear. Ah, to hell with it. Scowling in offense, she crossed her arms.
“Did you just threaten me?”
“I don't remember ever saying I was threatening you. I was simply making you a promise. Now, report to Paladin Danse for further instruction.” He smirked scornfully before he could stop himself.
“And Initiate Harding, you will find my quarters are always available if you need me. Feel free to stop by for drinks, if you want to wet your whistle between missions after you've proven your loyalty. I'll try to pencil in some time for you if you haven't monumentally failed by then. Also, I would remove the sunglasses while aboard, it deviates from the dress code. A deviation from the code is a misdemeanor.” Maxson found some pleasure at the twitch of her lip and grounding of her jaw when he gestured to her sunglasses before saluting leisurely. “Ad Victorium.” He watched her go, staring appreciatively at her retreating figure before replaying their conversation in his head. How did she know I was a virgin?
That absolutely repulsive bastard. She felt his eyes on her rear from the moment she turned around to leave until she disappeared up the ladder. Hardly suppressing a growl, she begrudgingly admitted that it could have gone better if she had mimicked Danse to the tee. Not known for her tact when riled up, her Paladin had to scold her more than a few times to refrain from causing avoidable fights on their previous missions. They formed a compromise; if after a first warning and persisting to be a verbally aggressive antagonist, she could react as she saw fit. Her cheeks warmed at remembering Danse’s stern, baritone voice. Even when he is upset with her, his voice is always comforting. With that in mind, she wasted no time in seeking him out.
“Danse, I don’t think he likes me.” Juliana said upon meeting her sponsor after her tense introduction with Elder Maxson. Danse was her steadfast rock in this new environment.
“Nonsense, soldier. The Elder is a busy man, perhaps he is just overwhelmed with having arrived not long ago.” Well, that’s not what she had wanted to hear, but perhaps he was right in his own way. Still, something about the bastard was bothering her. “In any case, would you like it if I accompanied you?” At the blank look she cast him at him casting out of her thoughts, he fumbled. “That is--” Danse cleared his throat. “As your sponsor, if you would feel more comfortable for me to guide you around to the proctors, all you need to do is ask.” Blinking out of her daze, she noted the excitement in his eyes from being ‘home’. He gave a softened version of his usual stoic expression when she finally nodded. If only he knew how endearing he is, he'd be a record breaking heartthrob.
“Hey Danse, how old is Maxson?” He looked to be around twenty eight, what with his scowl and ragged face. Danse sighed before responding.
“That’s Elder Maxson to you. Don’t let his age fool you, he is a brilliant tactician and a fearless warrior. Can you at the very least attempt to show proper decorum while we're here? It's Paladin Danse.” She snorted and waved him off. Juliana would call him whatever the hell she felt like.
“That doesn’t answer my question, Danse.” Juliana piped up, blocking his path and stopping them from proceeding. His scowl made her relent with a sigh. “Fine, Paladin Danse .” He huffed in approval or appreciation, she couldn't tell.
“The Elder is twenty years old, Harding.” Eyes popping, her jaw slacked in disbelief.
“Elder Maxson has been the Elder of the East Coast Brotherhood since he was sixteen. He has rightfully earned the respect and dedication of every scribe, knight, and lancer. Elder Maxson is the sole descendent of the founder of the Brotherhood of Steel, Roger Maxson, but he doesn’t let his relations speak for him.” That's a recently proven lie. “He is a man of action. If Elder Maxson order us to storm into hell, I’d be the one kicking the door down.”
“No wonder he looks to old...” Juliana murmured half to herself with a sneer. “You know, they say stress ages you. Maxson must be under a lot of stress. Oh, but you don't look a day over twenty five, Danse.” He scoffed at her but couldn't hide the color rising to his cheeks.
“That is highly inappropriate and I will not tolerate flattery.” Typical Danse. She thought with a weary sigh. Let me love you, damn it!
“It's the truth, I'm surprised you haven't noticed the looks all the female scribes and knights give you. You're absolutely handsome in a rugged sort of way.” Juliana's voice was filled with mirth. “They absolutely love you. Apparently you're the Brotherhood posterboy.” She passed him with a pointless pat to his armored shoulder.
“They love the idea of me.” It was her turn to scoff as she gave him a look he knew meant she wasn't done before she addressed the next Proctor with an artfully crafted façade. It never ceased to amaze him how she could be so convincing when she tried. Quinlan was positively buzzing by the end of the conversation. Could these... symptoms I'm experiencing be genuine or have I been strung along as well?
“Now that that is said and done with, will you mind explaining to me why you're pouting like a puppy?”
“I do not pout. This is my resting face.” He delivered flatly but smiled inwardly at his joke. Juliana rolled her eyes.
“My mother always did say that my face would stay that way if I frowned too much. I guess she was right.” His lip twitched minutely as they made their way to the bunks. “Does Maxson have a beard to make him seem older or do you think he's just lazy?” Danse slowed down and peered down at her quizzically, growing weary of her apparent interest in Maxson. She clearly wasn’t asking important questions, simply superficial ones like his age and the state and reason of his facial hair and whether or not he was lazy and-- Danse mentally kicked himself, unsure why he was getting agitated.
“I wouldn’t know.” She returned his cautious expression and studied his face intensely. It was making his stomach do flips and all he wanted to do was to flee from her. He could feel her sharp eyes dissecting him.
“Do you keep your stubble to enhance your already breathtakingly masculine face or are you just lazy?” The question made him touch his face. It needs to be trimmed.
“The answer is neither.” She pouted at his non answer. Danse wasn't about to admit that his beard wasn’t at the top of his priority list or that he knew of the countless infatuations people had for him and preferred being boots on the ground to avoid it.
“How old are you actually, Danse?” Juliana fixed him with that look that would destroy a weaker man as she plopped down on her assigned bed, head tilted slightly to the side.
“Elder Maxson is expecting us tomorrow at 0700 hours. I think you should rest for now.” He saw her visibly deflate before laying down with her back to him in childish anger. Danse stood there for a few moments looking at her back, gathering courage. “Good night, Juliana.” He dared, calling her by her first name for the first time before taking his leave.
She waited until she heard his booming steps become quieter before letting out the breath she'd been holding. The Almighty, rule abiding Paladin had referred to her familiarly. Good night, Juliana. His voice was so soft and uncharacteristic and he never spoke like that before and her mind raced to find a reason. The only change was the coming of the Prydwen. Good night, Juliana. His words echoed in her mind, thick like honey in his voice that could melt steel. She thanked the poor lighting for hiding her burning face but it didn't quell the heat in her belly. The immature grudge she had just decided on holding disappeared faster than her stoic Paladin with a pack of Fancy Lads. Wait a minute... her Paladin? Danse was not hers, per say, she laid no claim on him, sadly. But he was hers in a way she couldn't wrap her head around.
Even if she wanted to sleep, it would evade her due to three simple words.
Good night, Juliana.
My laptop is kaput so I'm making edits on my phone, it's a strenuous process.
When they came before him, Arthur was surprised to find that her eyes were piercingly blue as his. The mission briefing was short and to the point, concluding without question. Without question but with Harding staring intently at him, watching his every move with hardly hidden dislike.
Maxson turned to gaze out his window while the pair discussed things quietly. He was not eavesdropping (he simply overheard their conversation about Danse waiting on the vertibird) and certainly did not grow defensive at the sound of his name on her lips when she approached him from behind.
“Maxson.” He scowled at the lack of his title and decided to ignore her until she said it. With an impatient scoff on her side, his ignorance was rewarded but not how he'd have preferred. “Oh, holy son of steel, Elder Maxson, Benevolent King of the Brotherhood of Steel, may I dare to ask you a question?” She ended with an exaggerated curtsy.
“Initiate Harding, I didn't see you down there, I thought you were a scribe . What is it that you wish to know?” She pursed her lips at the slight, as childish as it was. He watched patiently as she took a deep breath to gather her thoughts and to plaster a fake smile that would put the West Coast Elders to shame.
“Elder, sir, is it true that you're only twenty? Paladin Danse told me you were, I had assumed you were about twenty eight judging by your appearance. So if you are twenty, I'll let your tantrum from yesterday go off the record.” How impudent.
“I don't appreciate your continued disregard of my terms. I believe I made the consequences very clear yesterday.” I don't throw tantrums. I'm not a child.
“Elder Maxson, sir, I believe I haven't done anything worthy of a punishment. Your threat is unwarranted.” Harding had Maxson cornered. They glared at each other at a stalemate. “Permission to speak freely, Elder?” He rose a prominent brow at her.
“I believe you already were, Initiate, but go ahead.” Tentatively, she nodded, nibbling her bottom lip. He took a deep breath to keep his imagination from running.
“Do you keep the straggly mess on your face to look older or are you just lazy, Elder?” Jaw clenching and nostrils flaring, he willed himself not to rise to her provocations. And it was all going so well. He thought sardonically.It was a tense few seconds before he ground out a response.
“Option number one.” She let his answer flit around her mind for a bit. “May I also ask a few questions? That was rhetorical.” He added when she opened her mouth. “What happened at your Vault?” She tensed and gulped, shifting her weight side to side.
“Didn't you read Paladin Danses report? My Vault and my experience. It's all listed there.” He narrowed his eyes at her dodge.
“Perhaps, but I want to hear it directly from you.” She refused to meet his eyes.
“We were frozen. Cryogenically frozen, for a long time. I'm sure you know about Vault-tec and their heinous experiments a lot more than I do. As for any personal details, they are still fresh and painful in my mind. I don't want to talk about them.” Her voice was raw and tapered off at the end. Cryogenic freezing? That's something unheard of in this day and age. Then again, it is Vault-tec.
“I apologize, but you must understand the reasoning behind my asking?” A nod. “I'm glad you understand.” He allowed his tone and expression to soften as he spoke. She seemed to react well to that. “You think my beard is straggly?” Her eyes met his, a hint of amusement to them. Maxson mused it with his hands with a hard to read expression.
“Have you seen yourself recently? You look homeless.” Homeless? “I mean-- like a drifter.”
“Is that so?” He allowed himself to fully drink in her face. She was a beautiful woman for sure, like his childhood pin up girls. Their earlier tension was all but gone as the two watched each other.
“I'll tell you what, as an apology for our train wreck of an introduction, I'll personally spruce it up so you don't look like a grungy scavver in a fancy coat anymore.” She laid her palms on the lapels of his armored coat. Since when was she so close. Maxson blanched but refrained from telling her off at the prospect of time with her. She was... interesting.
“Tonight at 2200 hours, report to my quarters to follow through with your apology. Dismissed, Initiate.” She lingered and smiled.
“It almost sounds like a date, Maxson.” He short circuited. Why must she mock me?
“What!?” Her eyes were no longer smiling. Perhaps he misread her? “Initiate, that is a highly inappropriate joke.” What are her intentions?
“What should I call it then?” Certainly not a date.
I guess I should count it a blessing that my suit is what absorbed the fallout from a suicider and not Juliana. They were aboard a vertibird back to the Prydwen. Arthur will be pleased by the haul. Unlike the day before, his charge hadn’t asked any questions about their esteemed leader. She was gazing out at the Commonwealth with a lazy grin. Neither of them spoke of his disregard for proper decor in his farewell the night before. The Paladin was both relieved and disappointed. Best not to dwell on it.
Lancer-Captain Kells welcomed them back and relayed orders for Danse. He was to report to the Elders quarters to relay the success of the mission alone. Once Kells left, Danse turned to face Initiate Harding. In his suit, she barely reached his chest. She's so small. It never ceases to amaze me. He met her worried frown with a reassuring shoulder squeeze, careful not to be too rough.
“Danse, when you're released from the clutches of the beast, would you want to meet back up for lunch?” This sounds like a romantic proposition. I shouldn't encourage unnecessary fraternisation, but it's Initiate Harding. “Danse?” He must have been staring.
“Huh, oh, yes. That would be outstanding, soldier.”
“I wouldn't call it outstanding. They certainly aren't serving strawberry shortcake with whipped cream on top. Now that would be outstanding.” She must have noticed his blank stare for she sighed and began explaining the prewar desert.
“It must have been amazing. Strawberries have died out after the bombs fell. Perhaps Senior Scribe Neriah could revive them if you feel so inclined to ask her. I would love to try some.” He hardly noticed the gentle look in her eyes because he was so enraptured by the information she was sharing. She snorted at the serious look on his face.
“Yeah, yeah. Now go to señor scowl before he comes charging after you.” That's spanish for mister if I'm not mistaken. “I'll have you know though that I found a box of Fancy Lads Snack Cakes at the fort. Take too long with Maxson and I can't promise you there will be any left when you get back and then our romantic lunch in the mess will be ruined.” Her flare for ‘soap opera’ dramatics surfacing. “Ruined, I tell you. Oh, Danse, whatever shall I do? You need that delicious treat to have the strength to carry on and without it--” She wilted dramatically before giggling. Once she walked ahead of him to enter the Prydwen, Danse allowed himself to smile at her eccentricities.
The troubled young man sat silently at the table at the center of his room staring at the door with his hands folded in front of his face. Excited as he was about his ‘date’ later that night, he needed to clear the air a bit. In front of him sat two shot glasses of whiskey, one for himself and the other for Danse. He wondered if Harding drank and whether she was a messy drunk.
Knock, knock. Arthur tensed, waiting.
“Elder Maxson, it’s Paladin Danse. You asked to see me, sir. Permission to enter?”
“Granted.” Danse slowly opened the door and softly shut it behind himself. Arthur gestured for him to take a seat, he did so with a surprising amount of reluctance. Suspicious.
“I apologize for the wait, Elder. I took the liberty of storing my power armor. It’s in need of major repairs.” Maxson downed his shot and with a sigh Danse did the same.
“No need to apologize, Danse. Drop the formalities, we’re friends here. I would imagine after all the bottles we’ve shared that I wouldn’t need to remind you.” Arthur leaned back and observed as his friend kept glancing at the clock in his room. “Got somewhere to be?” Danse opened his mouth to speak but Arthur stopped him.
“Initiate Harding?” Danse floundered before nodding.
“Yes, she wants to have lunch together and she’s bribing me with Fancy Lads if I’m late.” The older man admitted regretfully. Arthur chuckled.
“She’s certainly a fiery one.” Arthur eyed his empty glass, missing the questioning stare Danse fixed him with at that.
“That, she definitely is.” Danse said breathlessly, pouring himself another shot. “You’ve only talked to her twice, I've had to deal with her for months.”
“Yes, but she has a mouth on her.” The older man’s brow twitched before he smiled stiffly. If he was trying to get Danse’s goat. He did. “And that’ll change soon, my friend. We have an... arrangement made for tonight. She came up to me herself and called it a date.” Under the table, Danse’s hands fisted. He suppressed any sign of distress from his face and looked at his drinking buddy.
“That’s not a funny joke, Arthur. I would expect knights and scribes to make jeers like that. Juli-- Harding is under my tutelage and would never...” The two men stared at each other, daring one to back down.
“I’m interested in why you picked such a fine creature, Danse. Was it out of gratitude... or something else, I wonder.” The innuendo was not missed by Danse.
“Arthur, if you are implying that I chose to sponsor Initiate Harding out of physical attraction, I am highly offended by the accusation.” Arthur hated when Danse sounded like a disappointed parent, he had the sense to look guilty at what he was implying at least. Danse relented with sigh. “I won’t deny that she has-- well, that’s she’s stunning. She is prewar, and I have eyes. However, as her mentor, it is not regulation to partner with my student in that way. Still, she’s unlike anyone I’ve ever met, Arthur.” Danse admitted proudly, making Arthur’s insides writhe in a weird way so he cleared his throat in an effort to dispel it. It didn’t work.
“She's prewar? How is that-- oh.” The pieces started fitting together. “The cryogenic freezing. How twisted and inhumane.” Danse simply nodded solemnly. “How did she manage to survive for so long?”
“It was probably due to her dog companion and her ability to adapt.” A dog?
“The dog. Did it...?” Maxson gesticulated in the air with his hand. Danse caught his meaning.
“No, he's alive and well. He's currently being kept by a companion of hers named Garvey.” Maxson harrumphed, a lull in their conversation comfortably taking place.
“I want the details on the mission at Fort Strong in my hands before the end of the day.”
“Of course, Arthur. Now, I really shouldn’t keep her waiting--”
“Do you mind if I join you, Paladin?” Maxson could see the confusion clear as day on Danse’s face.
“Of course, sir. I’m sure Initiate Harding won’t mind.”
“Good. Let us depart, then.” Arthur said happily.
What’s taking him so long? Are they having drinks and shooting the breeze, I swear to god. I am going to eat every single one of these snack cakes and just hand him the empty box. And when he opens it expecting cakes, there’ll be a slip of paper with ‘you took too long’ and a heart.
Danse came into view before she could follow through with her devious plan. Out of the tin can for once. She blatantly admired how the flight suit hugged him so tightly. He was a large man even out of the power armor. Leaning her chin in her hands with a sigh, she wondered if his chest was covered in body hair.
“I don’t see how you don't find yourself attractive.” She blurted before realizing Maxson was behind him. Thankfully the young king was distracted by the stream of Ad Victoriums. Danse narrowed his eyes at her sudden silence before taking a seat beside her to whisper to her so as to not have that brat Arthur overhear.
“Sorry for being late. As you can see, he invited himself.” Her eyes widened at the grumpiness of his voice, she didn't think he noticed it. Maxson turned his attention to her and kept eye contact as he sauntered over. Arthur pulled out a seat across from her and hailed a kitchen staffer to get 3 of whatever was being served. Danse refused to make eye contact with Maxson, choosing instead to look everywhere but. Juliana cleared her throat, feeling very much wary and scrutinized.
“Good afternoon, Elder Maxson. It's a pleasure for you to so graciously join us.” She purred falsely. Maxson rose a brow before laying his arms on the table.
“Good afternoon, Initiate. I hope my presence hasn't spoiled your appetite.” She waved a hand as if to assuage his fears.
“Danse, if you were a few minutes later, I'd have eaten all the snack cakes and gifted you the empty box.” Danse peered down at her even when seated.
“That would unnecessarily cruel. You said something about cruel and unusual punishment being illegal or something in your time. Why would an upstanding defender of the law, break such a law?” Danse drew pleasure at showcasing their comradery. Juliana rolled her eyes and snorted.
“If I still enforced prewar laws and values, I would be lying dead in a ditch down by Concord.” She dared to peek over at Maxson only to find he was staring at her with his brows drawn.
“You know that isn't true. That man Garvey would have taken a bullet for you if you so much as winked at him.” Danse spoke incredulously, unintentionally moving closer as he spoke. Juliana rolled her eyes.
“You know you're the only one for me, Danse.” She teased and winked. Such a sweetheart.
“I, um--” Danse began before catching himself and remembering their invader, casting him a quick glance.
“Don't stop on my account, carry on.” Maxson drawled tightly to both Juliana and Danse with carefully steady eyes. Neither spoke. Arthur cleared his throat and broke the silence at the table. “Judging by your lack of grievous injury, I take that the task was completed smoothly, Initiate Harding.” Didn't he just get a debrief from Danse?
“You didn't tell him, Danse?”
“Tell him what?” She rolled her eyes at his blank stare. “Oh, the mission...” The food arrived, interrupting the Paladin who was scrambling to come up with a believable alibi.
“The Paladin only had time to say it was a success before going on a rant about your disregard for authority.” Arthur quipped evenly. Danse choked on his purified water at the bull faced lie, fully prepared for Juliana to rage at him while he balked at the implications.
“Jesus, Danse. Are you alright?” She asked, patting his back before soothingly rubbing it. After a tense silence, staring contest, and battle of wills with Maxson, Juliana narrowed her eyes.
“I hardly pegged you as a liar, Maxson.”
“H-Harding!” Danse hissed disapprovingly, clearing his throat.
“Shut up, Danse. I'm defending you.” Maxson huffed at her gall and tried to scowl, but the effect was lost due to his hardly concealed amusement. At the very least, Danse was glad she hadn't believed Arthur but her rude behavior was inexcusable.
“Initiate Harding, may I remind you that I don't take orders from you.” She glared and began to eat the gruel. It didn't look at all appetising and tasted like chalk in her mouth. “Not to mention your downright disrespectful tone with--”
“Danse, it's fine. It was a lie, you know it, so relax.” Maxson admitted shamelessly.
“Then what really happened?” Juliana mimicked his bold tone.
“Men's stuff.” He scoffed at her perceptive eyes. “Is it really such a crime to have a few drinks with a long time friend after a successful mission? If so, I'm guilty as charged.” He downed his meal with military efficiency, watching as uncertainty flickered through her eyes.
“Danse, is this true?” The weary Paladin nodded. “It's not even five!” This is absurd.
“What does that--” He tried to ask.
“You’re not getting your snack cakes.” Danse began to protest but her outwardly calm exterior caused him to stop. So much for not taking my orders. “And you,” Maxson’s brow rose and he tensed as if caught doing something wrong, “you’re going to make it up to me for not sharing your booze.”
“I don't think I like your tone, Initiate. Do I have to give you a third reminder?” He didn't fight the urge to smirk. Her glare was worth it. “But you have my word, I always repay my debts. I won’t repay you tonight, though, I need you sober.” His eyes left hers to flick to Danse’s as he spoke, taking in the clenching of the other man's jaw with suspicion. She scoffed.
“Of course, I’ll need my balance, after all. Don’t want any injuries.” Was that intentional? Maxson hadn’t expected her to say something so obliviously suggestive. It wasn't his plan to lie to his friend but if the woman herself said it... he could only imagine what was running through his Paladin’s head. It was apparent that Initiate Harding hadn’t informed him in the slightest judging by the look of betrayal and disapproval. To Danse, it proved that Arthur hadn’t been lying earlier. I should clear up the misunderstanding.
“I have everything prepared for when you arrive. Now, there is something I’d like to speak of privately with Paladin Danse. If you’ll excuse us?” Maxson rose from his chair and gestured for a passing scribe to take their trays. Danse droned behind, silent and ruminating.
“Danse?” Juliana called out before they got far. “I’ll see ya later, okay?” The man nodded absently before catching up with Maxson.
“Is something the matter, my friend?” He asked once they were back in his quarters. Danse was downright upset in his own muted way. The older man paced the small space while Maxson took a seat and got comfortable.
“You.” Danse pointed his index finger at the offender. “What are you playing at?” He sure is curious. “Don't play dumb with me, Arthur. It's unbecoming.”
“Allow me to enlighten you, then. As you know, the Western Elders have been especially pressing the matter of settling down upon me. It just so happens that Initiate Juliana Harding, a prewar genetically pure being, comes aboard. What makes it even more of a happenstance is that one day prior to our acquaintance, the Council sent me yet another nagging mail about securing the bloodline.”
“Arthur, are you trying to say that--”
“I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Danse.” Arthur interrupted flatly. He'd only just came to the conclusion after finding out she was prewar. It was a shallow reason, but it would be a good enough reason for the Council to get off his back.
Danse ran a hand through his thick hair, growing increasingly distressed by the second. His nostrils flared with each breath before growing still. “Are you going to sleep with her?” Maxson blanched, he'd just met her the other day and could hardly hold a conversation with her between their retorts and jabs. He was hopeful that would change.
“Danse--” He tried cautiously.
“No, answer the question, Arthur.” Danse approached him menacingly, probably not even realizing it. Maxson seriously considered the question.
“Not in the near future, but--” If she wanted to... Danse frowned and spoke through clenched teeth.
“But that’s your end goal, isn't it? You see her as a means to an end? Pop out a little Maxson or two and then what? This isn't some game, Arthur.” Danse’s voice rose in volume as he spoke, his hands fisting. What the fuck, he's not wrong but this is getting out of hand.
“Calm yourself, Paladin!” Arthur boomed, filled with righteous fury at the assumption. Danse seemed to remember himself and had the sense to look mortified, nearly collapsing into the couch at he took a seat. “I understand if you are opposing our acquaintance, but get a hold of yourself, man. Initiate Harding is a grown woman capable of making her own decisions. Forgive me if I find her quick wit and retorts entertaining.” He pouted like a child.
“She probably doesn't see me as a man anyway. She just sees my age. She pities me, I think.” Vexing woman, flirting so freely with Danse when she has plans with me. The pair sat in comfortable silence.
“And it's not as if I have the time to act on a fancy, I'm a busy man. I know any female in the Brotherhood would jump at the chance to become Mrs. Maxson. They're after my name, not myself. Initiate Harding doesn’t look at me fondly and fights with me. She's... different. She doesn't look at me and think ‘powerful’ or ‘Maxson’.” Arthur smiled softly with a sigh. “She looks at me and thinks ‘Arthur, uptight prick.’” Danse peered over at him as if he grew another head. “It’s refreshing.”
“I'll have to keep closer attention to what she says.” Danse sighed. “If she found out about your inexperience in bed, she'd probably hold it over your head until you slept with someone.” Then I'll just have to bluff it. He concluded decisively.
“Danse, this is going to sound strange, but how do you... woo women?” He prompted anxiously with a gulp. The Paladin scowled and stood to leave.
“No. I will not teach you how to catch a woman, especially this woman. You're on your own, Arthur.”
“And why not? It's not like you lay claim to her. You don't speak for her. What is your problem?” He rose to stand put a hand on the door to keep it shut. Danse took a few seconds to ponder the question with a pained look as he let his eyes unfocus.
“It's-- It's my duty as a Paladin to protect those under my command. Since I am her sponsor, this is doubly true.” Arthur narrowed his eyes, a thought forming in his head. Once it took root he did a double take.
“Danse... do you-- no, no.” The Elder took a half step back in mild shock as the realization dawned on him. “Danse, are you interested in her?”
“What!? That's absurd--” Danse admonished, completely in denial.
“What are you so afraid of?”
“I-- I don’t know! I don't know, alright?” The panicked look on his face stunned Maxson, causing him to let Danse leave.
To Arthur, it was clear they were in the same boat. He didn't know how Danse didn’t realize his possessiveness of her. It pissed him off. They weren't together, so she was unspoken for. They aren't together... I can do whatever I want. She's fair game. A deep reverberating thud signalled that Danse had holed himself up in his room. He's preoccupied, I must find her while his back is turned. And with that, Maxson snuck out of his own room and past Danse’s door. He allowed himself a mental smile of triumph. After asking around for her location and coming up empty-handed he decided to just send a scribe to fetch her and direct her to his room.
It didn't take long for her to appear.
“Elder.” He heard her say tensely. She didn't barge in. That's a good sign.
“Enter.” The scowl he was learning was only for him was on her face. How pleasant. “Take a seat, Harding.” Her desire to tell him off was easy to see but she sat obediently.
“May I ask what you require of me, sir?”
“To inform you of your promotion after your work at Fort Strong. Congratulations, Knight Harding.” It wasn’t a lie, he was going to promote her eventually.
“You could have just waited until the next mission to tell me in your cage with a view you like to stand around in.” Shit, she's right . This wasn't going as planned. “Well, since you've said what you needed to tell me--” Juliana began to rise but he held up a hand to stop her.
“I never said you were dismissed.” She frowned and sat back down. “I have something to confess. I... I believe I misjudged you when we met yesterday. I allowed your appearance and circumstances to cloud my judgement. For that I apologize. After witnessing the... bond between you and Paladin Danse, I've decided to-- to--” To what? Shit, I didn't think this far ahead.
“To stop harassing me about proper conduct? To stop being such an asshole? To fall for my winning personality?” The last was obviously a joke since she snorted after saying it, but oh well, he nodded meekly nonetheless. “Wait, are you serious? You're going to be nice ? How sweet of you.” He bristled at her semi-mocking affect.
“Are you mocking me, Knight?” Maxson pouted. “I can be benevolent and kind when needed.”
“Not to be mean, Elder, but I don't think that would suit your reputation.” He sighed wearily and ran a hand through his hair.
“When it's just us, I would prefer if you would call me Arthur. I don't want you to only see my title when you look at me.” Juliana was silent for a minute as if thinking of what to say.
“Wait-- did you take that last bit seriously? I was only joking.” His scowl couldn't hide his burning ears from her. “Are you some kind of masochist?” What made her get that idea? Arthur couldn't help but lean his elbows on the table and bury his face in his hands. “Do you say that to every pretty girl you see?”
“Well, no. Just Danse calls me by my given name, really. I was hoping you would be different from the others since you're an outsider, but if you don't want to I understand.”
“Okay, but why me?” He was getting irritated now out of embarrassment.
“I'm not going to tell you that you haven't piqued my interest. You certainly have. Y’see, you've got this fire to you that I think would be a good match for my steel. I have good reason to suspect we are compatible.” She shifted in her seat.
“So my refusal to bow down to you made you... curious. Is that what you're saying?” It was his turn to be antsy. Talking so openly about it made his stomach turn, but so far it was going well.
“Among other things, but yes.” She seemed to be on the fence about his advance.
“Well I'm flattered that you find me appealing, but I already have someone I am interested in.” She confessed cordially.
“Is that so? While I understand that I also want you to consider what I have to offer.” He gestured grandly in no direction in particular as if to say ‘all that is mine would be yours’.
“Arthur.” I like hearing my name on her lips. “We literally just met and I admit you are a fine piece of work yourself--” He rose a brow at her admission. “-- but I have been working on getting with this guy for months with little to no progress. I'm not about to raise my white flag.”
“I'm not telling you to give up. I only want you to consider me as well. You can keep lusting after him, but try to accept my advances. Just like you, I'm not one to admit defeat.” He purred as he slowly laid his hand over hers. She glanced down but didn't pull away. Her eyes seemed to be looking for a Tell, she wouldn't find any.
“You're a strange one. I have the feeling that accepting your odd confession will cause a rift, but I find myself interested in your proposal.” He gave her a disarming yet small smile. Her lips parted slightly at the sight before shutting when her cheeks started to redden. “Don't think that I forgive you for blackmailing me yet. I'm still upset.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to forgive me yet. I only wish you will allow me to redeem myself.”
“I'm not going to forewarn you of what you're getting yourself into, but okay. I accept. May I go now?” What is that supposed to mean? Rising to leave, Maxson stood as well. They faced each other, unsure of what to say now. “I'll be here at the agreed time tonight, I suppose I'll see you then.”
She reached up and ruffled his hair like she did her dog. She retracted her hand and turned to leave and had even cracked the door open when he grabbed her thin wrist.
“Wait!” He said. She looked at him questioningly but didn't pull her hand away. Her eyes flicked from their hands to his face.
“If you wanted to hold hands, you should have just said so.” She blurted, breaking the silence. He swiftly released her as if she was fire. Juliana rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on, Maxson. I was only joking.” He couldn’t help the sharp inhale and heat rushing to his face at his error. Her other hand somehow made its way to lay on his forearm. The mood was in his favor as he bolstered his confidence. Come on, man up, Arthur.
“You know, you should be more careful, Knight.” He began, taking a step forward to close the distance. “I am a man, afterall.” He leaned his head down so she could hear him whisper. She stood on her tippy toes and used his coat as leverage to whisper breathily.
“I think you should worry more about yourself than about me, I am a feisty one. Who knows what I would do if you cornered me? I'd just as soon slap you as kiss you tenderly.” She planted a soft peck to his cheek to make her point. He could have died on his feet and he wouldn't have noticed. Distantly he could hear her say something before leaving him frozen in the doorway, gingerly caressing where she kissed. There was a familiar weight against his leg in his flight suit he needed to take care of.
If he can't keep up with me for five minutes, he's going to die tonight. She thought absentmindedly. A blush on her face when she remembered how he looked when she left him. Poor thing isn’t going to survive.
Danse was troubled. Why did he feel so protective of her? It's different than how he feels with Haylen, that much he could tell, but different how ? He let the question ruminate while he set to type up the mission report. It was a meditative activity and it soothed the imminent distress he was feeling. All too quickly, he finished and sent it to Elder Maxson. Now what? He leaned back in his chair and sighed out a stretch. My armor needs repairs. Danse let out a breath when he didn’t run into Juliana on the way or when he reached his destination. Finally, he set to work.
“Did you hear? Elder Maxson called for Paladin Danse’s Initiate to come to his quarters.” His ears perked at the mention of himself but kept busy.
“Oh yeah? I heard Scribe Shepard was on her way to hand him Senior Scribe Neriahs latest report when she overheard them flirting.” His hands faltered at that and he froze, too focused on listening.
“No way... Elder Maxson?”
“Yep, Elder Maxson. Apparently he started it but then she went along with it. Then the tramp had the gall to kiss and run off on the Elder.”
“That bitch--” He'd heard enough. Rising sharply, he rounded on the gossiping knight and scribe. They saluted stiffly as he approached with a mean look on his face. “P-Paladin!” He rose a palm up to stop them from speaking.
“How dare you be spouting such baseless accusations and obscenities. I should have you reprimanded for the unwarranted, disrespectful slurs you so freely spat. Initiate Harding is your sister as much as I am your brother, I am so disappointed in what I've heard from the two of you. You represent the Brotherhood and here you are spreading slander. How do you think the Elder would react if he heard you?” They cowered. “Where. Is. Scribe. Shepard?”
“Assisting Scribe Neriah, sir.” He basically growled before storming out, his armor forgotten, Scribe and Knight in a daze. Danse skipped steps on his way up to the lab.
“Scribe Neriah, where is Scribe Shephard?” He began swiftly, not bothering with pleasantries.
“ Where.” She frowned but nodded and pointed to the mole rat cage. There was one woman holding a clipboard, presumably taking notes.
“Scribe, a word?” He managed to ask evenly.
“Paladin, of course.” Danse didn’t wait to head to somewhere to give them semi-privacy. “What’s this about, did I do something wrong?” Shepard trailed behind him.
“Not even two hours ago, Elder Maxson and Initiate Harding were supposedly... flirting , correct?”
“That’s right, sir. Elder Maxson and Initiate Harding were. I heard them myself, Paladin.”
“What do you mean?” Paladin narrowed his eyes and the Scribe mistook his scrutiny as interest. He hardly noticed the intense blush as he waited for her to elaborate.
“Word of mouth is that the Elder sent a scribe for her, he didn't say why or what for. So before I was due to report in, I happened to watch her enter his room as I made my way to the lab from the forecastle. I did not suspect anything at the time, sir. A half hour or so into my shift, I was told by Senior Scribe Neriah to send the physical copy of her research updates to him, sir.”
“Well, his door was slightly ajar and I happened to overhear a few snippets.”
“Well, spit it out.”
“Elder Maxson told her to be more careful because he is a man, sir.” Danse shut his eyes and faced away from the Scribe. His fists and jaws clenched. “She replied with something along the lines of slapping him sooner than kiss him, sir. Sir?”
“Thank you, Scribe Shepard. I appreciate your candor. But if I hear anymore of this incident from anyone, know that I am holding you personally responsible.” Was his parting threat before he returned to his quarters. Before entering, he cast a sour glare to the Elder’s door.
I haven’t seen Danse around. Perhaps he’s in his room? She had a question about a certain mod she was thinking of trying. He was the best person for the job, in her opinion. She trusted his advice. The incident with Maxson was all but forgotten.
“Danse, it’s me. You in there?” She said after giving the door a solid knock or two.
“Unbelievable, going after the Paladin when she has Elder Maxson.” They’re not talking about me.
“I bet she slept with the Paladin for him to become her sponsor. She must be a really good lay if that’s the case.” They are talking about me. With that she turned to the gossipers. She didn’t care if they badmouthed her, but if anyone badmouthed her friends...
“Who the fuck do you think you are? I worked hard and my skills made him sponsor me. Danse isn’t such a lowlife to accept a bribe, let alone one of that nature. Danse is the most upright, moral man I have met in a long time. Don’t you dare speak poorly of such a kind soul.”
“The harlot has a mouth on her--” The insolent knight couldn’t finish the sentence because Juliana’s fist cut him off. “You- You bitch!” Lunging, he slammed her down onto the ground and rained fists down on her. Undeterred by the disadvantage, she took the liberty of acquainting her fist with his crotch. Juliana took the opportunity to flip their positions, wasting no time in breaking his nose and busting his lip before she was lifted off of the downed offender.
“Fuck! Let me go, I’m not done with him!” She struggled against the tight hold she was in, kicking and squirming to get free.
“Harding, stop it.” A familiar, masculine voice warned.
“D-Danse, he--” She tried, still struggling out of his vice grip.
He sat, sulking at his desk, lost in thought. He still had no idea why he was so upset about it, when there was a familiar voice at his door. Danse rose to let her in but for some reason he hesitated in opening the door, simply letting his hand rest on the doorknob. He heard her raise her voice and flinched at the expletives that he could hear. He did, however, catch how she was defending his honor before there was a snarl and a loud bang. Immediately, he flung the door open to see Harding on the floor with someone on top of her. He was stunned and held back a grimace as she laid a haymaker on his jewels. Once the tables were turned and he heard the sickening crack of a broken nose, he jumped in to interfere. The petite little flame elbowed him in the ribs but he held firm until he heard a door slam.
“What is going on!?” Maxson yelled, having left his terminal to check what the commotion was. Danse subconsciously pushed Juliana behind him to put himself between the two after setting her down. The losing party was slowly but surely rising up, blood dripping freely from his nose. Danse puffed out his chest in some sort of masculine challenge of authority.
“As you can see, Elder. This knight instigated Initiate Harding into attacking and bears the injuries of said action. This is what happens when you lack discretion.” Danse spoke lowly, his voice a deeper rumble than usual. The Elder simply rose a brow.
“I have done nothing to ordain this scuffle.”
“So you weren't with Initiate Harding in your quarters?” Danse interrupted. “You were seen and overheard, Elder.” Elder Maxson took a slow breath before choosing his words carefully.
“I was.” Danse heard a sigh and clenched his jaw at her gentle hand being laid on his arm.
“Danse--” Harding began.
“ Paladin Danse.” He corrected petulantly, attempting to distance himself.
“Okay, Paladin. Maxson and I were just talking, what exactly was seen and heard?” She had a hint of a frown as she crossed her arms and left Danse’s shadow.
“Everyone on board are saying you were seen in an amorous embrace. It's the hottest topic.” Danse sighed.
“I'm being called gendered slurs because someone thought we were, what, hugging or something? I'm disappointed.” He had the sense to look ashamed.
“Shh, Danse.” She blurted. Damn, she's not going to take no for an answer. “Elder Maxson sent for me to tell me of how he's promoting me to Knight. Then we had a serious discussion. You're telling me that rumors are being spread that I slept my way here because of that?” Her face was carefully neutral and her tone was soft yet even. Danse floundered before looking to Maxson. “Danse, you told me the Brotherhood was a family, I see now that it isn't. I don't know what I expected, but I thought the Brotherhood was better than this. I feel like you fed me a bunch of false promises and that I ate them all because the packaging was ruggedly handsome. I feel like you betrayed me. I'm going to go lay down.” She confessed before wandering off in the direction of her bunk. Danse raked an aggravated hand through his hair before setting off after her.
“Scribe, take this Knight to Cade.” Maxson sighed.
I can't believe him. Believing I'd get with Maxson after just meeting him, he's insane. Stupid Danse, stupid dense Danse. Juliana strolled to her bunk with malaise through the Prydwen like a ghost, no one dared to stop her but she could hear spiteful things being whispered.
“Harding--” That's Danse. The voice was accompanied by a warm hand on her shoulder to slow her down.
“Leave me alone, Paladin.” She shrugged his hand away, sighing his title at him, and continued on her way. Throwing herself onto her bed and burying her face in the lumpy pillow, she felt tears coming. Hating crying and feeling it a sign of vulnerability, she fought it. She could sense Danse taking a seat on the bed beside hers. “Danse?”
“Yes, soldier?” He whispered, his voice that deep timbre.
“I don’t like it here. I want to go home.” Her voice sounded weak, even to herself.
“You said the Brotherhood were respectable and took care of their own.” He could tell she wasn't finished speaking so he remained silent. “Goodneighbor is better than here.” Danse frowned at that. “At least there no one cares what you do and the only gossip is where Hancock gets his chems.” She sat up on her elbows to look at him, scowling when spotting his disgusted look on his face. “If you're going to be a dick, leave me alone.”
“I didn't say anything.” Juliana snorted.
“Your thoughts are easy to decipher whenever you look like that. It's always ‘chem-addled abomination’ whenever I talk about Hancock, and ‘a den of murderers, thieves, and chem addicts’ when I talk about Goodneighbor. I bet the fact I prefer it over this drives you mad.”
“I'll admit to not approving of your circle of friends. I won't hide my distaste for that place, either.” Her cheek was beginning to bloom a nice color from the fight. “Let's get you to the medbay.” He stood and tried to coax her, she just flipped to lay on her back and crossed her arms. “Seriously?”
“It's just a black eye, calm down.”
“Either way, it still needs to be treated, Harding.” She stared up at him indignantly. “That's an order, knight.” Harding smirked with a snort. Danse rose a questioning brow. “Are you refusing a direct order?” She smiled and nodded, wondering what he was going to do about it. She's going to be the death of me.
Guess whos boyfriend of 2 years and 4 months called for a break! While on vacation! Bc i got upset he kept posting pics of him and his one female friend and only them when they are in a big group! My heart is broken!
What a troublesome woman. What am I going to do with you? Danse thought as he quickly swooped down to scoop her up from the bed. Her vain sounds of protest amused him. With his arms under her knees and against her back, he began his journey to the medbay.
“Jesus, Danse, it's not that bad. You're overreacting!” She groaned, trying to push herself away from him to no avail. She felt so light in his arms, fragile in a weird way. His cheeks flushed at her closeness and even more so when she gave up resisting. Danse could smell the hubflower, carrot blossom concoction she whipped up to use as shampoo. She must have brought it with her .
“If you had just listened to me, I wouldn't have been forced to do this.”
“There's going to be more rumors...” Juliana murmured softly when she saw the way people were watching them. His grip tightened slightly.
“Then let them talk. I'm going to try to see if you can be stationed elsewhere, perhaps even Sanctuary.”
“Are you serious? You can do that?” The surprise and hope in her voice was heartwarming if not sad. It made his chest feel funny.
“Well, I still need to ask for permission from the Elder, but--” Without warning, she placed a kiss directly to his cheek. He nearly dropped her, but quickly recovered. He tried to hide his blush with a disapproving glare. “That was highly inappropriate.” She smiled up at him and he left it at that.
“Paladin, what on earth are you doing!?” Maxson exclaimed, hating that the other man had his hands on Harding. Danse promptly set her down and swallowed hard.
“ Knight Harding refused an order to see herself to the infirmary, sir.” He explained, gesturing to the doorway. Maxson had just finished scolding the gossiper Juliana fought. He watched as Danse ushered her into the medbay. “There is something I’d like to discuss with you, Elder.” Oh? Like how you were groping--
“Of course, Paladin.” He said instead, shifting on his feet.
“I believe it is in Knight Harding’s best interest to be stationed elsewhere.”
“Other than the Prydwen?” Maxson drawled tightly.
“Precisely, sir. Knight Harding made it very clear that she doesn't like it here. Despite my efforts to dissuade her, Harding would like the liberty of being stationed on her homestead in Sanctuary.” That decrepit ghost town?
“I am not one to indulge such a freedom. It will have to be at a cost, Paladin. If I am to assume you will be accompanying her, then the proper precautions and efforts should be made. I want to personally evaluate the site and set up communications so you can continue to send in your reports.” It's a sound offer.
“That's fantastic, sir. I will let her know immediately.” Maxson’s stomach clenched at the thought of not getting to see her as often after having just met her. He pouted petulantly.
“You will still be completing Brotherhood missions?”
“Yes, sir. We will get them from Scribe Haylen and Knight Rhys.”
“Excellent. You are free to leave in three days.” He straightened it back. “Is that all, Paladin?” Maxson asked.
“Ad Victorium, Paladin.”
“Ad Victorium, Elder.”
“What was that about?” She asked while Cade was busy nursing her bruising eye and cut lip. Her eyes followed Danse as he meandered his way into the space. He seemed entirely too big to be in there. He crossed his arms and ran his thumb over his bottom lip, in thought. Whoever he lets kiss him is a lucky one indeed.
“We are free to leave in three days time.”
“That's great, Danse--”
“Knight, stop moving.” Cade warned.
“But...” Her bright smile wavered.
“Elder Maxson will be visiting to evaluate the settlement.” Oh.
“That's fair.” She nodded.
“Knight.” Cade sighed.
“Sorry, sorry.” She stopped fidgeting but continued to watch Danse slowly pace. He had a slight wrinkle in his brow and was still running his thumb along his lower lip. I wonder what he's thinking about. She loved the way his brown mop looked and was glad she threw the damn hood into their campfire one night. He'd been upset but it was well worth it. Since then, he hadn’t gotten a replacement. Orange is not his color, but hell if his ass doesn’t look amazing. Maxson’s suit is black. That probably looks a lot better.
“You're all done. I would avoid hand to hand combat with your fellow Knights.” Cade advised, walking to go sip his coffee, picking up a clipboard.
“Hey, Knight-Captain Cade, are romantic relationships with fellow Brotherhood members allowed?” The man choked on his drink. Danse simply scowled harder and harder when he turned to see she was staring straight at him.
“Juliana, while I'm glad you utilized the correct ways to address your superiors, but that line of questioning is inappropriate at the current time seeing as to how you're here because of rumors of that nature. If you are still having such questions later, I will answer them to the best of my ability as your sponsor. Is that clear?” Danse interrupted, saving the sputtering Knight-Captain.
“You called me Juliana, Danse.” She teased, watching as a plethora of emotions crossed his face as it grew red.
“I-- It merely slipped out.” She rose from her seat at the edge of the gurney. He narrowed his eyes at her approach with a sense of foreboding. Absolute sweetheart, too pure hearted for this world. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“You know, I think I like the sound of my name on your lips.” She held in an outright laughing fit at his small gasp as if she insulted him. Before he could pull himself together, she bid them both farewell. What an absolute cherub. It's like he's never flirted before and he's got at least five years on me.
The young Elder was antsy as Lancer-Captain Kells gave his report on the status of the Prydwen and Lancers. He was jittery when he stalked his way through his own airship to Quinlan’s office. The Proctor was consumed by some piece of tech in the corner of the small space. Maxson took it upon himself to greet the Proctor’s cat, Emmette. The tomcat nuzzled his hand affectionately. After coming to the realization that Quinlan wouldn't be noticing his presence on his own, he cleared his throat. The scrawny intellectual nearly jumped out of his skin.
“Elder!” He said as he fumbled with the stack of documents he was holding. “What brings you here?” Oh, just looking to research prewar courting rituals in case they've changed in the last two hundred or so years.
“Nothing in particular, Proctor.”
“I... I see. Well, I must get back to work. If you need anything, Elder, don't hesitate to ask.”
“Actually, I do require some assistance on a rather... personal problem.” Quinlan was positively buzzing with curiosity. “I am in need of information on courting habits two hundred years ago.”
“I believe I am in possession of one or two holotapes on the subject. Would you like to--”
“Yes! Yes, I must study them on my own.” Quinlan rummaged through his filing cabinets, pulling out four worn tapes. He handed them to Maxson’s greedy mitts. “Thank you, Proctor. Do not tell anyone of my personal interest, if you will.”
“Elder, am I correct to assume this is in some way related to the Paladin’s protégé?” Maxson paused in the doorway.
“You are correct.”
“Then am I also to believe you are hoping to woo her, if you are so inclined. Perhaps leading to marriage, Elder?” Maxson took a slow and deep breath before responding.
“Its up to her.” He pocketed the tapes and made for his room. His terminal could play them. Glancing to his alarm clock, he checked the time. Six more hours to go.
Six hours later
He sat in his room with Diamond City Radio playing softly in the background. The clock read 2200 hours. Maxson took a shot of whiskey to calm his nerves. He knew it wasn't actually a date, but hell if it didn't feel like it. They were going to be in his room, alone. That counts as a date, right?
“It’s Harding, can I come in?”
“Granted-- I mean, yes.” Fucking fool . He scolded himself, running a hand down his face. She chuckled as she entered. His eyes followed her as she looked around his room. I should have cleaned up a little. “I apologize for the mess--”
“What mess? Your place is cleaner than Danse’s.” He tightened his jaw at the mention.
“Well, sorry to disappoint. I bet you love how his room is littered with empty bottles. I only have full ones.” He huffed pettily. She laughed through her nose before hopping up to sit on his table. “Were you never taught that tables are not for sitting?”
“Were you never taught how to treat a lady?” Maxson didn't bother responding. That's probably already evident. She slid off the table and clapped her hands together. “Let's get started, shall we?”
“Of course, I wouldn’t want to interrupt your busy schedule.” He deadpanned.
“Oh shut up, you big baby. Tell me where my weapons are and have a seat.” He gulped. That isn't at all comforting. What a great way to inspire trust.
“The drawer.” He smirked at her shapely behind as she bent to retrieve the rag, soap, purified water, and straight razor. She pushed lightly on his chest to get him to sit. “You're not going to take this as an opportunity to slit my throat, right?”
“Don't give me any ideas, Maxy.”
“Maxy?” Her hands were busy building up a lather to use as shaving cream. He watched her anxiously.
“Yeah, y’know, Maxy, Maxson. A nickname.” He gave her a hum at the childish notion. “What?” She pursed her lips and pouted.
“Or, y’know, you could just call me Arthur.” He tried giving her puppy dog eyes, earning a light smack to the shoulder.
“Jacket.” She blurted, gesturing to his battle coat with her elbow.
“What?” I don't understand--
“Jacket, take it off or I'll get it dirty.” He mouthed a little ‘oh’ and did as he was told.
“Good. Now lean back and relax.” His hands gripped the chair tightly.
“I hope you've done this before, Harding.” He murmured with his anxiety palpable in every word.
“Oh please. I thought we were on a first name basis already. Call me Juliana or any derivative of it.” What a pretty name. “Have you ever shaved this thing?”
“Huh? Oh, the beard? No, not really.” He watched as she began to lather his face.
“You have the beard of a forty year old lumberjack and you’re telling me you’ve never shaved it.” The lathered soap was warm against his skin as she worked it through the hair. “You expect me to believe that.” Maxson just shrugged. “Even my husband doesn’t--” Her unfinished sentence lingered uneasily in the air. Well, this is supremely uncomfortable now. Danse didn’t mention she was married. Jeez, I feel like an adulterer now. “Well, that isn’t important. Just know that I am familiar with a straight razor.” Her typical snark was absent. Should I say something or???
“Your husband, is he...?” He gestured emphatically in no particular pattern, not feeling it right to ask if he was dead.
“Oh.” She stared down at the straight razor in her hand, finding it fascinating. “I didn’t mean to upset you, I’m--” Sorry.
“Don’t. Forget I said anything.” Ah, shit, this is awkward. Neither of them spoke as she began to whittle away at his manhood.
“Is the person you're pursuing similar to him?” She pursed her lips thoughtfully, having never thought about it.
“In some aspects.” Oh?
“Such as?” He whispered.
“A strong sense of duty, unwavering faith in what they believe in. Handsome, charming yet dorky.” She rattled off. “Observant yet oblivious.” Hmmm.
“Do you think I have those qualities, Juliana?” He prompted timidly, watching her reaction careful. Her movements stopped momentarily.
“I don’t know.” She blurted sourly. “You're certainly no Paladin Danse, if that's what you're asking.” Her eyes widened at her slip of the tongue before forming a frown. “No more questions til I'm finished.” He remained silent but continued to stare holes into her soul.
Need me a freak like Maxson
The sole Paladin laid in his bed, his arms crossed behind his head. He couldn’t sleep, not with knowing Juliana was alone with his... rival? He didn’t know. The whole situation was beyond him. All he knew was that she was under his command and that she happened to be very, very attractive. I have standards, damn it. He tried to reason, but, shit, she was exceeding all but one of his standards. She was lacking in the ‘devotion to the Brotherhood’ department. Part of him wondered why she even stuck around. She’s such a loose cannon, she’s almost a raider but with better standards . Danse shifted to lay on his side.
Why do I feel so uneasy? We’ll be leaving in three days. It’ll probably take a day or two for us to travel there by foot, but perhaps an hour or two by vertibird. Is that a misuse of resources if we use one? I sure hope not. We’ll be being dropped off at a mission directive, technically. It should be fine. Should be. What if it’s not? What if Arthur decides to be an entire ass and make us trek halfway across the Commonwealth because he’s bitter. Is he bitter? Bitter that I’m going with her? That I’m going to be with her? He has no right to her personal business. I’m... she said I’m a friend. That means it’s alright for me to accompany her, right? I won’t be intruding? What if I’m overstepping my bounds? Ah, there he was, a grown man, fretting like a school kid.
“There you go, all done.” He actually looks his supposed age now. Somewhere along the line he had let out a sigh and closed his eyes.
“Hmm.” He hummed. Must have gotten really comfortable. Maxson had his eyes closed and looked peaceful. He peeked an eye open when she ran her hand through his hair.
“Care for a trim, too?” He sighed and nodded slightly. Like a big kitten .
“Not too short.” He mumbled, getting comfortable again.
“Where are your scissors?” He pouted and furrowed his brow as he stood and opened a drawer to hand her the pair, not speaking a word. When he sat again, he sighed contently. “You like having your hair played with, huh? Never would have pinned you as a person who likes that.”
“Who doesn't?” He rumbled quietly, casting her a scowl. He certainly looks at grumpy. He looks kind of charming like this.
“Back in my day, you'd be a regular heartbreaker.” She sighed, getting to work on his head. Juliana had stepped around his chair to stand behind him.
“Aren’t I already?” He smirked. She scoffed at his cheekiness.
“Definitely, Lady Killer Arthur. Where, oh where, is your Guinevere? Shacking up with Lancelot?”
“Perhaps.” He snorted rather rudely. “But, I don't know. Are you sleeping with the Paladin?” He whispered, looking up at her through his lashes. Oh. Oh.
“No.” She mumbled. He didn’t press the matter, but he did shrug noncommittally after a few pregnant seconds.
“Whatever you say, Juliana.” He stared at her again, having to tilt his head back at a funny angle to do so.
“Okay, Bromeo. I can't cut your hair if you sit like that.” She sighed, crossing her arms across her chest. He winked, catching her off guard, but returned to a more suitable position. Thank goodness he stopped staring into my goddamn soul, the heathen. She was red as a ripe tato.
Maybe it was the inadvertently sensual facial hair trim that made him so relaxed, or it was just the long forgotten feel of physical contact that wasn’t just a brushing of hands as a report was given, but he wanted to curl up in bed with his head on her lap so she could run her fingers through his hair again. The feeling had been divine. All too soon, she finished.
“All done. I only took a few centimeters off the top.” She sighed contently, admiring her work. “Arthur?” She inquired uncertainly when he didn't respond, moving to stand between his parted legs. He looks so serene. Maxson was breathing softly through his inperceivably parted lips. How he could fall asleep in a chair was strange to her. Juliana took this as an opportunity to properly admire his facial structure. She liked what she saw, but what set her off was how young he looked. God, I'm a dirty old woman. Looking at him like this is wrong, I should-- I should stop-- He sniffed in his sleep, murmuring nonsensically under his breath. She smirked before gently shaking his shoulder. Her eyes widened at the feel of the solid muscle she felt beneath his jumpsuit. He startled awake, making her flinch.
“What time is it?” He asked quietly, still half asleep.
“I don’t know, late. You should get to bed.” She blurted, making to get away. He caught her hand with a frown, stopping her escape. He pulled it up to his lips and lightly kissed her knuckles. Oh. His lips were a bit chapped but they were still soft. When he finished, he absentmindedly ran his thumb along her hand. She cleared her throat. “The beard needs to be maintained every two weeks. I have to report to the Prydwen once every two weeks.” He just stared blankly up at her, clearly not catching on. “I'll keep it in check during my visits.” Maxson nodded, shutting his eyes but not letting go of her hand. “When do you usually sleep?” He gave her a shrug. “You should take better care of yourself.” No response. “Come on, big guy. Let's get you to bed.” A groan. “Oh shut up, your bed is, like, three feet away.” Juliana tugged on his hand and tried to leverage her weight to get him up. It didn’t work. It backfired. He gave her a tug and she fell into him, getting a face full of chest. His free arm moved to hug her to him.
“You smell good.” He mumbled into her hair. His other arm released her hand and pulled her up to properly sit in his lap before wrapping around her middle. Am I just a fucking ragdoll to these men? Why the hell is he so strong? Her attempts to wriggle out of his grip were futile.
“Hey, I said it's time to get to bed. That means going to your bed to sleep, not sleep in the cha--” He groaned.
“Let me do what I want, woman.” So that's how it's going to be.
“Danse would never say something like that to me.” Arthur flinched at hearing her comparison. “Now, get to bed.” He glared at her as he did just that. Maxson took a seat on his bed and just stared at her. She scoffed at his petulance and lightly pushed at his chest. Instead of chest, she felt his hand intercept and raise it to his lips.
“I would appreciate it if you didn't compare me to him.” A kiss. “I’m the one who is here with you.” A kiss. “Laying kisses on the knuckles that pampered me tonight.” He purred lowly, blue eyes going dark. It strangely went straight to her core. Shit. I should-- I should not like this.
“Paladin Danse--” He cut her off by shifting to kiss her palm and then wrist, all the while watching her like an alpha deathclaw. She couldn't help but let out a tiny breath through her slightly open lips at the sight. He tugged her closer slowly enough to give her time to pull away. She didn't. “I--” He slotted her between his open knees.
“Why are you so stuck on him? Has he shown any signs of interest ?” Arthur used his free arm to wrap around her waist so that his chest was against her stomach. “You keep saying his name when I'm right here, trying my hardest to seduce you.” He blushed as he spoke, looking a little hurt with eyes full of earnesty. She couldn't look away, the want in his eyes was messing with her. His hand slowly slid up her back til it was between her shoulder blades. His hands are so big. Juliana braced herself against his shoulder to keep from losing her balance. She still hesitated. Something didn't feel right despite the fire in her belly.
“Juliana.” He rasped deeply, placing her hand against his cheek and holding it there with his own hand over it. “Forget about him. Let me rule you, and you can have everything you want. Fear me or love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave.” Juliana blinked once, then twice, and shook her head. Pulling from his grasp with a gasp, she quickly made for the door.
“This is too much, Arthur. I-- I have to go.”
“Wait--” He tried, but she was already gone.
Fuck, shit, shit. I blew it. I came on too strong and scared her away. What am I supposed to do now? The young man growled and began to pace with his face in his hands, groaning at his failure.
She had a hard time falling asleep when she made it back to her bunk, but eventually she did.
W hen she awoke and saw that the mess was missing a certain Paladin, Juliana figured the only other place he'd be is in Ingram’s workshop. She was right. He knelt down to adjust his right leg actuator and his uniform was rolled down to the waist. His back and arm muscles flexed sinfully in his undershirt. He'd somehow managed to get grease on his shoulder and neck. She couldn't tell how grease covered his chest was but her guess was that it was grease and sweat stained. Finally deciding she'd gotten her daily dose of eye candy, Juliana swayed her hips as she sauntered over to him. She knew full well that he was watching her approach from the reflective surface of his leg plating. His eyes were practically glued to her and she smiled slyly as she watched him gulp.
“Well lookie here, resident stud hard at work. You're making the scribes swoon.”
“Knight.” He greeted.
“My Paladin.” She playfully returned, giving him an exaggerated curtsy which earned her a raised brow. She scoffed. “That was a curtsy. Pre-Prewar women used to do it.” She herself witnessed her mother and great aunts do so in her early childhood. He judged her for a moment before getting back to work, clearly unamused.
“How was your late night date with the Elder?” He asked stiffly, working at a troublesome gear.
“It was fine, I ended up doing more than we originally agreed upon, but he was okay with it.” He clenched his jaw and his nostrils flared but he quickly willed himself to calm. What was that?
“Knight, may I have a word with you? Privately.” He whispered through clenched teeth. Not even waiting for her to respond, he stood up and wiped as much grime he as he could from his hands. She watched in silence as he ordered for a scribe to clean up his mess, which shocked her. The meticulous man always cleaned up after himself. Something must be wrong. He didn't even look at her as he stormed out of the space, knowing full well that she would follow anyway. She did.
YA DONE FUCKED IT UP DANSE.
Maxson slides into them DMs real quick.
“What's this about, Danse?” He heard her concerned tone and shook his head absently. He'd taken them to his quarters but he didn’t know how to organize his racing thoughts. She'd taken the liberty of sitting on his bed while he paced furiously like a chem-addict between fixes. Eventually, he gave up on trying to be eloquent.
“Last night, you went to his room?”
“Jesus-- yes, Danse, hop off it.” He bit back a bitter reiteration of her colloquialism. Instead, he snorted ruefully.
“Did you sleep with him?” Carefully, he watched her. She went from stunned to confused to wary.
“Don't ‘what’ me. Did you sleep with Elder Maxson?” He hurriedly cut her off, using excessive hand waving. Danse watched as her cheeks went red and she sputtered. “Did you. Fuck him?” Danse rarely cursed.
“No. No, Danse. I-- I can't believe you would think that of me. Do you really think I would sleep with someone I just met? After all this time of me--” It was his turn to flounder and grasp for words like a fish out of water. He hadn’t thought this far ahead.
This is so unlike me. What is this woman doing to my life?
“Why do you even care who I sleep with?” She wondered angrily. He groaned.
“Because I do care.” He admitted before tacking on the professionalism. “I'm your sponsor and if anything happens to you, it'll be my responsibility.” It wasn’t the right call.
“So you just want to cover your own ass, okay. That's fine. I just want you to go fuck yourself. I'll be leaving now.” She blurted spitefully to cover her hurt, basically bolting for the door. On impulse, he grabbed her arm to stop her escape. She spun herself around to sneer up at him, red in the face. She's mad. Rightfully so. Instantly, he released her and took a step back with his palms up. He flinched at the slamming of his door. I should give her some space.
He didn't expect a loud bang and then stomping down the ladder, accompanied by his latest reason of a sleepless night. She looked like she was going to assault someone, then she made eye contact with him and his immediate reaction was to tense up.
“Jul-- Knight Harding, why did you stomp around the Prydwen like--” He was cut off by her lips on his. I'm glad I didn't pin her to the floor on instinct. When he didn't pull away from her she deepened the kiss, raising her hands to cradle his face. Her eyes were closed but his widened when her tongue brushed against his lip. As if he needed to steady himself, he laid his hands on her hips, and shut his eyes as well. When her tongue caressed his lips again he tentatively opened them only to have her taste invade his mouth. She swallowed his ensuing moan before breaking the kiss. He already missed how it felt.
“Wha--” He had to clear his throat because his voice sounded weak. “What was that for?” She pursed her lips and wrapped her arms around his waist. “Juliana?” Arthur whispered against her head.
“Danse. He hurt and disappointed me.” Immediately, Maxson held her at arm's length to inspect her for any bruises.
“Where? I'll wring his neck.” He declared with a snarl. That ungrateful bastard.
“No, Arthur, calm down. He didn't hurt me physically, but ...in my heart.”
“Oh.” He uttered, relaxing some. Um. What should I say in this kind of situation?
“I thought about what you said last night. And, you're right. Danse is too focused on the Brotherhood to want a relationship, let alone skinship. I don't think the feelings he has for me are ever going to be more than a friendship. I mean, I've been hitting on him pretty hard for a while now and he's still the same. Um, you don't have to say anything right now. I just thought it's about time to move on and--” Her tato red face told him all he needed to know. His heart had swelled at the idea of Danse not being in her heart anymore and that she had given him a chance. Before he could think any better, he wrapped her in a crushing embrace and lifted her off the ground with a spin. She let out a little gasp at the force of it but didn't complain, just simply let her arms go around his neck. Is this real?
“I thought I ruined everything yesterday with the way you ran away like that.”
“Oh, that. I had a gut feeling something was wrong. Perhaps it was feelings of loyalty to Danse or something.” She sighed, letting her hands touch his face freely. The scar didn't really matter to her. It did give him more of a badass vibe, though. He laid a kiss to her palm when it settled on his cheek.
“You're free to stay here if you want. I won’t stop you. Whatever he did that had you so upset earlier, don't worry about it.” Maxson assured before setting her down and holding her hands in his. He guided her to the couch and began to shrug off his coat.
“What are you doing?”
“Well, since I can't exactly embrace you in front of anyone else yet, you can at least feel like I am if you wear my coat.” He held it out towards her for her to put on, allowing himself to kiss her head before releasing her.
“Your coat, when should I give it back?” She looked up at him from the couch and he struggled to breathe comfortably. The battle coat dwarfed her in its size. She was wearing it like a big cape.
“Keep it for now. It sort of suits you. You should ask Proctor Teagan and Proctor Ingram to make one of your own.” I really like my coat on her. I think I'd like just my coat on her. Quickly, to hide his growing erection, he went to stand in his usual spot to gaze out on the Commonwealth. Think of Scribe Rothchild in a dress. A short dress. Good, good. The thought was disturbing enough to will his hard on away. He gave a sigh of relief.
I need to work myself back into the groove of things
Where'd she run off to? I have to apologize. The hulking man thought guiltily. She wasn't anywhere he looked. After her abrupt exit, he had the time to settle down and collect his thoughts. A bitter taste was in his mouth when he checked his last option only to find her there. In the Elders battle coat no less. He ground his jaw as she looked up and seemed to wither under his gaze. She pulled the battle coat further around herself as if to hide in it.
“Elder Maxson, sir.” The Paladin prompted, drawing the young Elders attention.
“Paladin. Is there a problem?” Maxson drawled tightly, working his jaw with a genuine scowl. Odd.
“None at all, sir. I was just hoping to have a word with Knight Harding.” Danse watched as Maxson’s eyes glanced behind him before looking back at him. The Paladin watched as the younger man puffed out his chest in a manly display of power.
“I see no reason as to why you can't have asked her yourself, Paladin. She is under your sponsorship, after all. Unless, of course, something is the matter.” Maxson drawled. Danse knew he was trying to get a rise out of him.
“I assure you, Elder, that nothing is wrong. I simply saw fit to address you, seeing as to how she shouldn't even be here.” Danse couldn't quite mask his irritation. “Elder.” He added as an afterthought.
“Paladin, it’s not as if this room is off limits. Plus, I invited her to stay. She was quite distraught when I first saw her. Do you know anything about that?” Danse rarely gave unclear answers.
“I may, but you probably know more about it than me. ” He curve-balled, resisting the urge to cross his arms. Maxson looked confused for hardly a second before smirking ever so slightly as if in pity. That smirk of his is really starting to piss me off.
“You're right, Danse, but you have eyes. Don't you?” He whispered, rubbing his chin and thus drawing attention to his beard. He watched as Danse narrowed his eyes and clenched his jaw in slowly dawning realization.
“You've trimmed your beard, sir. It looks great, sir.” I hope he realizes that I hope he eats something his stomach disagrees with.
“Yes. It does look great. She did an outstanding job, Knight Harding. She knows her way around a razor and scissors. She trimmed my hair as well. She didn't have to, but she did.” They're screwing with me. They've been screwing with me. This entire time. The both of them.
“I suppose so, sir. May I be permitted to leave? I find that I no longer have a need to speak with Knight Harding right at this moment.” He wanted to smack the triumphant smirk off of his friend's face, but he knew better. He was better than that. That didn't mean he didn't want to. Oh, how he wanted to. Especially after so thoroughly embarrassing him. He'd made a proper fool of himself.
“Of course, Paladin.” He purred evilly. Bastard . He glared at him as he turned around and paused briefly in front of Knight Harding, only continuing when she looked up. His chest hurt, so he decided to head to Cade in case something was wrong. I don't want to look at her.
Stunned. Stunned was the word she would use to describe how she felt at Danse’s parting expression. He looked properly upset. Not completely mad, but more disappointed and... hurt. Hurt over what, she hadn’t the faintest idea. She didn't do anything wrong. All she did was cut Maxson’s hair and beard. He's the one in the wrong, having accused her of being easy. Focusing on that, she pulled her legs up and curled the coat around her so she looked like a head poking out of his large coat.
“Are you alright?” Arthur asked softly, taking steps toward her. He seemed concerned but wary.
“He thought we had sex, you know. We fought about it a little.” She sighed. He took a seat next to her with a huff, putting his arms along the back of the couch. “He was really upset.”
“Well, the way we worded things probably lead him to believe that we did.” He left out the part where he facilitated the misunderstanding. “It's really none of his business, though.”
“That's what I told him!” She exclaimed, throwing her hands up before leaning back with them crossed. “Then he was all like: ‘I care because I'm your sponsor and if something happens it'll be on my head.’ Who fuckin’ says that!?” Maxson rose his eyebrows at her agitation.
“An idiot says that.” He offered.
“Yes! Exactly, but he's no idiot. I don't understand.” She furrowed her brow and leaned her head back, coincidentally laying against his arm. He flopped a hand in agreement. She could feel his arm flex when he did that, but decided to say nothing.
“He is a hot-blooded man, afterall. Perhaps he got jealous?” He whispered, looking at her. “I sure know I would. You're more than a little attractive.” Her stomach felt funny at the sort of compliment.
“Thanks, I guess. You know how all the scribes are lusting after him? He has literally no inclination of pursuing any of them. What's up with that!?” Attractive asshole.
“Have you considered that he may have his sights set on someone already, maybe someone back in the Capitol Wastes?” Maxson asked, testing the boundary.
“Pfft, like who? His power armor?” Poor Danse, she thinks he wants to fuck his power armor. That's so sad, poor guy. He laughed at that. A low rumbling sound. They fell into companionable silence. “Don't you have work to do?” She asked. What? He rose a brow. “Y’know, work. You're the Elder, pull your weight.” She jabbed him in the side with a finger.
“Don't remind me.” He groaned.
“Of what? The work or your title?” He regarded the question, running a hand through his hair.
“Both.” He snorted before getting up, regretfully. Arthur was quite liking her so close.
“Do you need any help?”
“What?” He muttered.
“Do you. Need. Any help?” She repeated, rising from the couch with the coat still draped around her like a cape. So cute. His heart clenched. Not trusting his voice to be normal he nodded profusely instead. The small smile she gave him could have killed him right then and there and he would have gone willingly.
“Just--” He tried but it came out strangled, so he cleared his throat afterward to sound like usual. “Don't be too distracting.” She rose an eyebrow.
“How would I be distracting? I'm small.” He rose a hand and ran it down his face, resting it over his mouth and chin. How can she be a temptress yet be so damn dense? It was truly puzzling. Maxson shook his head absently.
“My coat, if you're done with it.” She shrugged out of it and handed it to him. He put it on with practiced ease.
“That thing is so heavy.” She blurted.
“Yeah, well. It is a battle coat. It's armored.” He smirked.
“Why can't you just wear normal armor? Like normal people?” She squeezed her lips together.
“That'd be no fun. I don't think I'm a normal person. I'm a Maxson.” He was serious.
“You're a twenty year old boy--”
“ Man.” He corrected petulantly. “And I happen to think it looks great and it's functional.” She guffawed.
“You're going to ignore the fact you admitted to narcissism. Is that what you're telling me right now?” He tongued his cheek and rolled his eyes before smirking slightly.
“I was raised to believe I was forged from eternal steel and destined to lead the Brotherhood. So far, it's proving to be true. Wouldn't you agree, Juliana?” The feel of her name on his lips was sinful. The feeling only increased when she grew red and timid and quickly licked her lip. Steel preserve me. He thanked everything he knew that he had his coat to provide coverage for him and his willful penis. “I have paperwork to pick up from Quinlan and check in with Ingram and Teagan about... special projects. After you.” He practically purred, letting his chivalry show. She nodded. Truthfully, it was to look at her ass.
He's checking out my ass. That's why he let me go first. Here I was, thinking he was being a gentleman. She'd caught him staring in the reflection of one of the polished pieces of power armor. They were making their way to his quarters, her hands full of paperwork. He was walking a short distance behind her, walking next to her shortly before opening the door.
“Set those down on the table there.”
“There's literally no other table besides it and your desk and that's covered in alcohol.” She snarked, out of breath.
“Shh, do you hear that? It's the sound of you offering to help earlier. No sass, Harding.” He playfully pouted, pointing a finger at her after cupping his ear. She smacked his arm only to be reward with a barking laugh.
“You're not funny, you jerk.” She stuck her tongue out at him as she took a seat and began separating the stack into two. He followed suit, grumbling about hating paperwork and that he should get a secretary. It wasn’t hard work and it helped to distract her from her fight with Danse. Juliana sighed, recalling the incident.
“What's wrong?” He spoke softly, hands pausing their motions.
“Do you think I should go talk to him?” The him in question was unmistakably Danse.
“No. He's in the wrong, remember?” He's right, but still...
“I don’t know, I just feel bad, Arthur. You should have seen the look he gave me when he left.” She sighed, laying her hands flat on the table and leaning back.
“Don't feel bad for him. He did this to himself with his stupid assumptions. Basically, he thinks you're easy. I don't think of you like that and I would never think of you like that. It's degrading to women.” She rose her brows at his impassioned tone. “I guess that as your sponsor, he thinks he owns you. He doesn't, but that doesn't stop him from thinking he lays some claim to you.” She listened silently, glancing down to where he placed his hand over hers, giving it a light squeeze. His blue eyes were dark blue in the lighting. “You're your own person.” That certainly shocked her. She'd thought he’d spout some bullshit about her being fair game or some shit. He must not have noticed how he was gently rubbing his thumb along her hand because when he did he stopped and retracted his hand. “Anyway, I just meant to say that you have no need to feel bad for him. He's a grown man.” Arthur huffed, not looking at her. Juliana snorted rather unladylike.
“Thank you, I needed that.” She sighed.
“Of course, it's no problem. No problem at all. I suggest staying mad at him to teach him a lesson.”
“Well, you know what they say: ‘there's no kill like overkill.’” He said with a shrug before getting back to work. She did the same.
Danse didn’t like what the good doctor told him. To think that he was bothered by such trivial emotions like embarrassment and jealousy. He thought he actually had something wrong with him and Cade just told him to relax. Still, while aboard the Prydwen, he'd follow his orders. Which leads to the present time. He sat idling in his room and he hated it. He hated having idle hands. At first, he'd paced at various speeds. Then he resorted to physical exertion to perhaps calm himself down. That didn't work. I could read. I haven't done that in a while. Read what though? He lazily meandered to where he stored his small collection of books. They'd gotten a bit dusty. He decided to pick one at random and propped himself up in bed with a pillow as he cracked it open.
His eyes are pretty, I wonder what he would look like without that scar. Aw, he’s sticking the tip of his tongue out. I bet he doesn’t even realize it. What a cutie. Hmm... was he a kindhearted boy? Surely he wasn’t born with a damn steel ingot as his twin. I wonder if he’s a furry boy like Danse. With a full beard at twenty, the answer is probably yes.
“Is there something the matter?” Hmm?
“What? Oh, no. I was just watching you work. You know, you stick your tongue out a little when you’re focusing really hard on something.” She watched as he looked at her abashedly.
“Do I really? I’ve never noticed.” Juliana nodded. He rubbed his beard thoughtfully before shrugging and leaning back. “I hate this.” He groaned, running his hands down his face. She snorted.
“This is nothing compared to what I had to do as a lawyer. When I wasn’t in court or with a client, I spent hours, hours , sitting at my desk in my office organizing notes and reading emails and it was horribly boring.”
“Tell me more. I don’t know what a lawyer does.” He leaned forward and leaned his head on his crossed arms on the tabletop, waiting for a story. What a cutie.
“Only if you promise to actually do some more work.” He sneered but nodded, watching her like a hawk. “A lawyer defends their client or attempts to prosecute a criminal. People came to lawyers to help with bankruptcy, a divorce, all kinds of things.” Does he not understand or something? She watched as he waned in his impassioned stare. “Basically, bankruptcy is like running out of every single cap. People needed help to file for bankruptcy so that companies would stop demanding payments or accruing debt.”
“Why didn’t they just kill them? They'd solve their problems, right?” She pursed her lips to stifle a biting remark about how uncivilized that sounded.
“In those days, murder sometimes meant the death sentence. If someone was murdered, you'd be held completely responsible for the loss of life. Even the most sneaky of murderers were convicted.” He frowned and digested the information. “Now that I've answered your questions, get back to work.”
If there was one thing he could change about being Elder, it would be the paperwork. Fuck. Paperwork. There was a reason there was so much to do, he kept putting it off. He looked at the remaining stack. I could do that later. He wouldn't do that later. Standing abruptly he held his hands up in surrender and paced.
“I'm done. I'm done, I can't do this anymore. I can't.”
“Okay, okay. Relax. We did a lot today.” She placated him.
“I need a drink.” He sighed wearily.
“Fuck yeah, you owe me some booze anyway.” She said, bolting from her chair and grabbing a whiskey bottle before he could react. That's my favorite. He frowned before pulling out two shot glasses and setting them on the table before transferring the piles of paper elsewhere.
“You're sharing that, it's my favorite.” Arthur held his hand out for her to give him the bottle. She pouted playfully but assented.
“Shit, what time is it?” He rose a brow at the random question.
“1500 hours, why?”
“In layman's terms please.” She rolled her eyes.
“Three p.m.” She visibly deflated and put her head on the table. Did I do something wrong? All I did was answer her question.
“We can't drink before five p.m..” She groaned. What kind of nonsensical rule is that?
“Says who?” He asked quietly.
“Says my prewar values, Arthur. Might I remind you that I am over two hundred.” She blurted sourly, glaring at him.
“You look pretty damn perfect for over two hundred, if I do say so myself. Also, we're way past your old world customs. We live in a time where we can die any day, might I remind you .” He scoffed, pouring himself a shot. Her glare had softened to a thoughtful stare.
“I can drink to that.” She sighed and sat up, moving her empty cup toward him. He half smiled.
“Good, because I was not about to start drinking by myself again. Cheers?”
“Cheers to not dying tomorrow!” That's an absolutely terrible joke, but I can drink to that. While he downed his shot smoothly, she sputtered and grimaced. He waited for her to complain or nag about the burn, but she didn't.
“You're leaving tomorrow, right?” He whispered, leaning forward as he did so.
“I believe so. I'm not looking forward to traveling with Danse the whole way. He's probably going to ignore me the whole time.” She ran her tongue across her teeth and drummed her fingers against the table.
“Has he done that before?” If he has--
“Of course. I've gotten us both into some pretty hairy situations and fights we won by the skin of our teeth. He only does it when he's so mad he can't even fathom speaking to me, though. It still happens anyway.” She snorted. “Y’know, on our first mission together to get the deep range transmitter we were met with a bunch of Gen1 and 2 synths. I, being the ballsy bitch that I am, decided to power up the rocket jet while he was under it fighting them off. I sat back behind protective glass and watched as he was downed by the massive flame. I literally thought I accidentally killed him in my rush to kill the synths. He's still alive, so the outcome is obvious.” Oh... Oh, poor Danse. This woman is insane, brought this upon yourself though, hahaaaa.
“You roasted him.”
“Basically, yeah. He was fine though. I take it he didn't tell you that part.” She snarked. He poured them both a second glass and downed his immediately. “Your turn.”
“Your turn to share a stupid thing you did. Don't say something easy like you messed up on a speech or something.” Ah, damn. What was the last really stupid thing I've done that she doesn't know about ? I've done a lot of stupid things the last two days. Ah, I've got one.
“Try to blackmail you because I was frustrated about something pertaining to some recent mail I got.” His admission was unexpected as far as he could tell.
“What had you so upset as to misdirect your anger at an innocent person?”
“I am nowhere near drunk enough to tell you that.”
“Not even if I pinky promise not to tell?” She batted her eyes.
“Like I said, not nearly drunk enough.” He purred. “So tell me, how do you like the Prydwen?”
“I think the crew have nothing better to do than to gossip and spread mean rumors about new people.”
“I-- I'm sorry about that, but I meant the airship.”
“Oh. Can I tell you the truth?” He narrowed his eyes but nodded. “It's a piece of shit compared to prewar ones. But in these times, it's an amazing feat of engineering.” Is... is that a good thing?
“I don't know how I should take that, but I'm curious about prewar airships. What were they like?” He asked, genuinely interested. He busied himself with nursing the bottle while she readied herself.
“I never got to go on one, but I saw one. It was about the size of the Prydwen, but more polished and shiny. The sunlight reflected off the polished railings like sun off of water. It was... it was beautiful.” She reminisced. She's the beautiful one.
“Tell me more.” He beseeched her.
“Huh? Oh, I only saw it at a distance, there's not much else to tell. I know it was a commercial airship. The military didn't use them anymore.”
“I wish I could have seen it.” He began. “If it was half as beautiful as you are then it must have been a sight to behold.” He made eye contact with her as he spoke, but quickly lost his nerve and looked away.
“You're such a flirt. Don't you know I'm old enough to be considered your great ancestor?”
“I know that and you don't look a day over twenty.” He sipped away at the whiskey.
“You're so bad.” She giggled. It went straight to his stomach.
“What? You can't biologically be much older than me.” He whined in exasperation.
“ Biologically , I am about six years older than you.” That's right between me and Danse.
“I would never have known. I thought saying twenty was pushing it. You look like a scribe.” He snarked.
“Just because I've been this height since I was twelve doesn't mean anything.” She blurted embarrassedly, swiping the bottle from him. He watched her drink away. She must be feeling it by now. That, or she has a high tolerance for the stuff.
“I suggest you pace yourself.”
“Oh shut up, you closet alcoholic.” She rolled her eyes. “I suggest you get drunk enough to tell me that secret of yours.” Juliana slid the emptying bottle to him across the table.
“Not going to happen. Unlike you, I have a twenty four hour job. I can't get too trashed so early in the night.” I don't want a repeat of yesterday. He hadn’t been drunk, but he had been incapacitated. She stuck her tongue out and raspberried.
“Oh boohoo, no one is going to fault you for letting loose once in awhile.” I'm pretty sure it's unspoken common knowledge that I drink often. As if sensing his hesitation, she laid her head on her arm on the table and let her other rest on his forearm to give it a light shake. “C’mon, Arthur. You’re young, let loose a little.” She-- she's touching me. He stared down at her hand before laying his free hand over hers. Her hands are so little.
“Alright, don't get used to it.” Arthur sighed in defeat. Juliana gave him a little reassuring arm squeeze.
“Y’know, this is a date-- by Prewar standards.” She tacked on sternly, hoping to not cause any misunderstandings.
“Are you saying this isn't a date to you? I thought I was doing pretty well, sorry to disappoint.” He said lowly, watching her reaction. She opened her mouth and gaped, trying to find words. Her eyes were wide and looking everywhere but at him. He waited with his heart in his throat for her to say something. The silence became too much. He cleared his throat and rose to turn on the radio. “I apologize for that, the whiskey must be affecting me more than I thought.” He set it to Diamond City Radio, the MC had put on a song Galaxy News Radio played way back home in the Wastes.
I don't want to set the world on fire. I just want to start a flame in your heart.
“I like this song.” He heard her say before sitting down again.
“Do you?” I quite like it too.
“Yes, actually. It's... soft.” Soft? “Like, the rhythm and message. It's slow and sweet. I like it.” He nodded in understanding, struggling to find something to say.
“Yeah, it's uh, good.” Shit, that wasn’t smooth .
“Have you ever gone to Diamond City?”
“Juliana, I have been in the Prydwen, leaving only for rare trips down to the airport. You’re asking me if I’ve ever been? I’ve never been anywhere.” She whistled.
“You really should get out more. Maybe the future ‘Mrs. Maxson’ lives there.” He stiffened and took a slow breath. Maybe if you have a place there. Ah, let’s not creep her out tonight... Actually-- You know what? Fuck it. Who needs a goddamn filter when I can blame it on the alcohol. He took a gulp of liquid courage.
“Who knows, do you own a place in Diamond City?” He managed with a wink.
“I do. Perhaps you could stay there when you get the chance to visit. I have an extra bed for Danse there--” I don’t want his hand-me-downs.
“If I miraculously manage to get a vacation, do you really think I’d settle for sleeping alone when you’re around?” She stared at him innocently in the most infuriating way.
“You're right, I'd be too busy showing you the nightlife.”
“Are you trying to embarrass me by sidestepping my comments?” Arthur asked, genuinely astounded by her propensity for playing ignorant.
“Not right now, why? Am I making you uncomfortable? I'm sorry. I've been told I'm an oblivious drunk.” She spoke sincerely, with real concern.
“Not at all. You've just been deflecting my attempts at sweet talk. I'm... not used to it.” He murmured, abashed, not looking at her.
“I apologize. It was not my intention to tear down your confidence.” She-devil. He waved away her concern. He was noticing her nervous tick to drum her fingers against the table and how she bit her lip.
“I think I'll miss you when you're gone, it's probably going to be a day or two before I have the chance to visit your homestead.”
Truthfully, Arthur would probably be downright green with envy that Danse gets to accompany her. Juliana was probably a sight to behold in a firefight. Strands of hair flying loose and sweat causing grit to cling to her person, her enemies blood turning her vault suit purple. Pearly teeth bared in a snarl as she ends a foe's life, their blood becoming her warpaint. He watched her as she timidly looks at him before trying to hide her blush.
“Is that so.” She said breathlessly. “I suppose I'll miss you too. You're quite companionable when you're not playing Little King. I think you’ll enjoy some time away from the Prydwen, though.” Juliana smirked, her previous meekness forgotten. It took a lot of willpower not to tense when she took his hand in hers.
“What makes you think that?” Arthur asked thickly, fixing her blue eyes with his own.
She'd stood quickly and walked over to him. His eyes followed her movements as she leaned forward, giving him a long kiss that left him dazed before she leaned back a little to look at his face, her hand resting on the nape of his neck. He looked completely enraptured. She smiled and kissed him again. Her lips were soft against his own. Her tongue tracing his bottom lip prompted him to open his mouth. She tasted like whiskey and something sweet. He groaned involuntarily. This was not how he'd envisioned this to go. Inexperienced but enthusiastic, he kissed her back with the same strength. His lower half twitched in reaction. She climbed onto his lap to get closer, not breaking the kiss as she situated her legs on either side of him. The half empty whiskey bottle was all but forgotten. She caressed his face with her hands, cupping them under his ears. He groaned into the kiss at the sensation of her softly calloused hands and wrapped his arms around her waist to hold her closer. The way she suddenly ground against him had him grasping her hips and instinctively bucking up. Breaking the kiss to gasp at the sensation, she leaned back and forth over his clothed erection.
Screw Danse. Dumb prick doesn’t deserve to even look at her. He wasted no time in dipping his head into the crook of her neck, unzipping her uniform by a few inches to lathe at her pulse point. She let out a startled gasp at his sudden action before giving in to the sensation. He sucked. He sucked hard on different spots on her neck, marking her. Juliana hissed at the feel. “You-- you shouldn't do that. Whatever will Danse think?” Clearly, she was toying with him, but he still growled and nipped at her shoulder before leaning back to admire his work. Thoroughly pleased by the sight, he pulled her back to him to resume kissing. The alcohol was doing his confidence wonders.
“Can you not say another man's name while I'm here giving you hickeys that'd put any black eye to shame?” He was peeved that she didn't look the least bit abashed. “I could just kiss you til you forget his name.” She rose her brows at the proposition.
“If you're so confident you can, then who am I to tell you no.” She snarked rhetorically. He wasted no time in leaning back into her, his hands at her waistline and ass. She'd tangled her hand in his hair. His neck was at an odd angle but he bent to fix that. Maxson was loving every second she let him kiss her. He'd been in control until she bit his lip, making him give a strangled groan in surprise. It'd felt good. Why did I like that? Should I-- should I do that too? Arthur waited for an opportunity and reciprocated. The breathless moan he elicited from her went straight to his groin, causing him to make the same sound. She pulled his head down farther to deepen the kiss. He loved how his hair was tangled in her tiny fist so tightly when he leaned back to let his hand wander over to her zipper once more. Her eyes watched his hand as it ghosted over the clasp before moving to stare at him with a raised brow.
“Can I?” He managed to rasp.
“Bed.” She responded. A flurry of emotions were jumbled in his head. Did she mean-- or...? His thoughts were answered when she locked her legs around his back and wrapped her arms around his neck. Oh. Instinctively, his hands rushed to hold her up or she'd fall as he walked them over. She giggled at his urgency to get her to bed . He couldn’t bother to care at the moment, because she was laying wet kisses along his neck. He was about to lose his virginity to a beautiful woman.
Something is up. Arthur had just laid her down in his bed and froze. He gulped and seemed to prepare himself before taking off his coat and moving to lay over her. His touch was stiff and unusual.
“Arthur?” She breathed once he'd released her mouth to kiss down her jaw. He made a throaty sound. “Arthur, are you--” His mouth found hers before she could finish. Juliana found this only slightly irritating so she didn't stop him. When she found the opportunity to ask what she meant to say, he'd already unzipped her suit down to her navel and was busy palming her breast through her bra. “Arthur, stop for a second.” The man did as he was told to prop himself up to look at her as she spoke. She could tell her hesitation was making him nervous. The only reason she could come up with was... “Arthur, are you a virgin?” By the way he took a deep breath, tongued his cheek, and looked away, her answer was questioned. “Jesus, Arthur. Your first time is supposed to be with the one you love, not with some stranger you just met.” Her heart hurt for him but also she couldn’t believe his naivety. “Oh, Sweetheart. You shouldn't rush these sort of things, okay?”
“I don't see the point in waiting anymore. I've waited longer than most of the Brotherhood have and the pressure of the Council won't just disappear unless I do something about it.” He frowned like a petulant child at the endearment and looking hurt when she zipped her suit back up and scrambled to sit up, making him sit up as well. “Am I just not to your liking?” Wh-what!? She guffawed at the question.
“You are most definitely to my liking, Arthur, but I still believe you should have your first time with someone you love. I am not that person. I'm sorry, this was a mistake.” Ah, shit. I feel like I've lead him on. She started to get up but he laid his hands on her shoulders gently to stop her.
“Please, don't say that. I don't think I could recover if you regretted this.” He frowned and sighed painfully. “If I do decide that I've fallen in love with you, will you let it happen? Will you allow me to woo you then?”
“Arthur... I can't just take your first time like that if I don't hold any feelings for you, too. And don't mistake lust for love, alright? There is a big difference.” He was silent for a moment.
“I don’t see what the big problem is. I'm attracted to you and you're attracted to me. Isn't that enough?”
“I just don't want you to wake up sober and regret it.” She whispered.
“Alright, Juliana. Can you still stay with me tonight? No-- no sex. Just cuddling, I swear.” He began quietly. He must feel terrible now. I wonder if it would be right for me to stay... “You're leaving tomorrow and-- and there's no one else I feel comfortable with like that. Yes, we just met, but your presence is... relaxing. I don't feel like an Elder with you. I feel like Arthur.” She listened silently. His insecurity was palpable at the admission. She caved.
“Alright. No funny business, though.” She chided gently as he let out a breath and seemed to deflate. “How do you want to do this? What position would you like? Cuddling. The position of-- you know what I mean.” She blurted in a rush, her cheeks warming. He rubbed the back of his head, wracking his brain.
“I-- I want to hold you. I want to cuddle that way.” She positioned herself as she laid down while he got to undressing into sleepwear. His sleepwear consisted of a tight fitting gray t-shirt and black lounge pants. While he changed, she didn't dare peek. The alcohol in her system caused her to be near asleep by the time he finished and slipped into bed behind her. She almost didn't hear him murmur her name against her hair. “Juliana...”
“Mmhnm...” She grunted quietly. His hard on was still present if the stiff pressure on her lower back was any indication. Not that she really cared at this point, she had a similar frustration. He patted her hair out of her face gently. It was a tender gesture.
“Is it okay to fall in love with you?” Well, that woke me up if only just a little. Let’s... play asleep and have a good dream.
He had half the mind to storm into the Elder's room and punch him in the face for being so carelessly loud when he was trying to immerse himself in a book-- that, and the fact he was trying to get with his woman. Do they have to flirt so goddamn loud!? Danse clutched his book shut tightly, if he hadn’t been holding the book, his hands would be fists. I can’t take this anymore. I need to go down to the airport for tonight. I don’t want to hear this. And so, the man left like there was a fire at his heels for his power armor and leapt from the Prydwen. He landed with a reverberating thump. The violence of it was therapeutic.
It's going to be a long night.
She fits so well. He thought before falling asleep. His dreams were that of a future with her. With her being his Lady Maxson, him becoming High Elder. There were children somewhere along the lines in his dreamscape. They had her hair, his eyes, her lips, his height. Their faces, he couldn't make out. His dreamself loved them dearly. Juliana was radiant, exuding power like a tesla coil mod on power armor. She stood at his side proudly and looked at him full of love.
He felt completely at peace.