In The Darkness

Author Note: Here is the first one shot of many, inspired by the lovely author izzum. Seriously, if you haven't read her Fallout fanfiction yet, please do. If not for them, I don't think this story would be here. Also, I owe a major thanks to my friend Attila for giving me so much praise and helpful criticism.

"We'll settle here for the night," Raine yawned and stretched lazily as a haze of exhaustion washed over her. Raine and Charon had been traveling for several days without rest because according to Miss 101, they'd been making good time already and didn't need to stop.

'Damn girl acts like we're on a field-trip, not a dangerous trek across a barren wasteland.'

Charon cautiously opened the door to a small cottage, shotgun aimed. It was dark, quiet, and safe enough, for now. Until raiders came gallivanting by fiendishly flailing obscenities, or a Deathclaw came knocking on the front door. It wouldn't have been the first time in all their months together. Trouble followed them everywhere they went.

"It is safe, for now."

The ghoul took a large step inside of the intact cottage with Raine lingering behind shining a flashlight, instead of utilizing the light of her pipboy. The intensity of the beam from the small computer was too much, whereas the dimness of the rare pre-war flashlight was absolutely perfect. Charon insisted.

She gave the parameter another once over and nodded in his direction, eyes shimmering.

"Yeah, we're good." Raine said suppressing a yawn with a gloved hand lightly pressed against the corner of her mouth, "Let's get in before something or someone spots us."

He flipped on the safety and strapped the shotgun across his back to stepped aside and let her. He shook his head pass still wary and unconvinced of their safety.

"I don't like the look of this place."

Raine handed the flashlight to her companion and elbowed past a miniature oak dresser, shattered tile and dirt crunching under her boots.

"You don't like the look of any place," Raine murmured, smirking.

"The Wasteland is far from safe; we both know that for a fact, Mistress."

"Raine, Charon. Raine,"

'Charon can be such a damn stick in the mud. Even so, I guess he's had to be to have been able to stay alive out here for so many years. I just wish he'd forget that I'm his employer for a few seconds.'

He nodded and parted his thin lips to speak, "My point still stands."

"Yeah, yeah. I know this place is nothing like the vault I grew up in," She waved a limp wrist, "Come on, let's clear a space so we can sleep. Shine that flashlight in my direction; it's hard to see in here."

Charon advanced another step; flashlight pointed as Raine crouched and pushed away rubble, numerous empty bottles of whiskey and tarnished books. Her companion's faded blue orbs ghosted from the lower backside of her tiny waist to the smooth movements of her fingertips. He caught himself leering almost immediately and was about to look away when she clapped her hands excitedly. She only did that when she was elated, which was something she hadn't been in weeks.

"What are you doing? We are not completely alone out here, who knows what heard-"

Raine cut him off with a glare and thrust a callous index-finger at the ground.

"Jesus, Charon, simmer down and take a look where I'm pointing. I found us a mattress!"

He shook his head exasperatedly and looked to where she pointed. Sure enough, there it was. The mattress was flea bitten, dirty, and littered with holes, but it was a god damn mattress and anything was better than sleeping on the cold hard ground. Anything of comfort in the Wasteland was a rarity and few and far in between.

It was perfect. For her.

"Please, take the mattress," Charon quipped, swiftly unfastening the shotgun on his back. "I will keep watch."

Raine widened her eyes at him and smirked as her hand shot out to grip his wrist, "Oh no you don't. We'll share this piece of shit and you will sleep for a couple of hours. You need it as much as I do, Charon, and ghoul or not you can get tired."

The teen shifted her weight from left to right and Charon fixated on her gloved hand. It was true, he was exhausted. He hadn't slept longer than Raine had. In fact, he slept less. Still, he didn't budge. Friend or not, companion or not – the safety of his employer came first. His own meant absolutely nothing. That was how it always had been. A sick but true teaching that became a personal mantra.

"Is that an order?" Charon asked in that abrasive voice of his.


She widened her ruby red lips mischievously. He cocked his head apprehensively.

To his surprise Raine suddenly yanked him forward three steps with the flick of her wrist, using all of her weight, and sank to the ground. He was the tallest person she had ever come across and yet he wasn't completely unmovable, even for a tiny thing like her. He probably let her win, though. 'No matter,' she smirked. 'He needs to rest and put his feet up.'

"As you wish, Mistress."

Raine shot him a look with intensity in her green orbs. She was getting so tired of being referred to as his Mistress. It made her feel like just another teen in the wastes, like someone he barely knew.

She said nothing, and Charon waited for her to sit. As soon as she did, he settled in the spot she patted awkwardly. She smiled at him playfully and shrugged off all of her equipment and weapons like she didn't have a care in the world. She was so weird. First she was raving mad, and the next she was grinning toothily at him.

She set the flashlight on the ground, the beam of light focused on the ceiling above them.

'Moodswings,' he smirked inwardly.

"We can sleep against the wall, just like this."

Raine pressed her back to the white faded wall behind them and tilted her head back. The former vault dweller sighed happily and released a yawn. He stared at her and tried to smile like she had at him. Only the right corner of his mouth hitched. The ghoul had never smiled at any of his employers before, so, it was foreign, in a way.

"We'll work on that," Raine traced the exposed blood red veins on his face without hesitation. He relaxed a bit and leaned against the wall. His smoothskin friend had touched him, a trained killer, rotting after years of being exposed to radiation, and hadn't recoiled.

The teen watched Charon intently for some sort of response, and he nodded. Her soft fingertips slid from his face and wrapped around his arm. The other hand followed suit, and she pressed her face against the warm leather that had clothed his arm. He watched as she pulled at the tie that bound her long silky hair back and let the mass of black hair fall in front of her face.

She yawned again and pursed her full lips.

"Mind if I use you as a pillow? The wall is hard as hell."

"No, I do not. So long as you sleep."

Raine shifted and relaxed her cheek against his toned shoulder and tightened her grip around his arm slightly.

"Will you sleep too, Charon? You haven't slept that much either. In fact, you've slept less than me…."

"Yes, if you wish it, I will." Pause. "In time."

'Damn him and his short answer fragments. At least he's saying more than now than what he did when I met him at the 9th circle...'

He set his shotgun against the wall on the opposite side for emphasis.

Raine's face softened and her pink eyelids fluttered closed. Her tan skin color intermingled with the dim light and shimmered in the darkness. Fuck, she looked beautiful. Too beautiful to be sitting next to him, even in that dirty green merc charmer outfit. It was like an exotic flower blooming under a diseased oak tree. Anyone else in the wastes would readily agree with him…

"Goodnight." She whispered.

For a time, he watched her watched as her shoulders relaxed and fell asleep. It was all still so strange…and yet so comfortable, like he was supposed to be doing this. Not because it was his job, but for another reason that he did not know. Maybe it was because she was his friend, someone he'd come to know.

The mercenary smoothed back the set of bangs from her face, with a gloved hand. Her hair had grown much too long over the past three months. It was longer than he'd ever seen on any other Smoothskin in the wastes. He pulled his hand back expertly, not wanting to wake her.

Charon shook his head slowly and flipped off the flash light to conserve power. Raine exhaled breathily and eagerly snuggled into the crook of his neck.

'God, he's so warm.' She thought, still awake, and nearing the next stage of her REM cycle. 'Aren't ghouls supposed to be devoid of body heat?'

The ghoul watched her chest rise and fall in the darkness, hoping that it would soothe the tense ball of tension in his back. An unfamiliar wave of contentment washed over him and slowly undid the knots in his muscles. He leant slightly in Raine's direction but kept his posture straight. If Raine wasn't awake, she wouldn't scold him for getting so close; allowing him to get so close.

"Good night, Raine."

Charon inhaled and exhaled slowly, finally allowing the flood of exhaustion and sleepiness to cripple his body and cloud his mind.