They did not really speak after his briefly opening up to her about his beloved wife at the Lucky 38. On their way out of the Vegas area, they briefly stopped at the Atomic Wrangler, where Francine Garrett coyly presented Edie with another little gift left by Vulpes Incognito several days before.
"Not the nicest guy," Francine said, "But he had a really sexy voice. Didn't give a name, but I guess you'll probably know who it's from?"
"Yes." Edie looked at the little parcel, wondering if she ought to open it at all, or at least have a drink first.
She opened a bottle of Scotch, took a swig long enough to earn admiring/shocked looks from several other patrons of the bar, wiped her mouth on her hand, offered the bottle to Boone, and opened the parcel.
"Oh my God," she exclaimed.
"What?" Boone asked, hand on his machete.
"It's a cuff bracelet... looks like it was carved from a Brahmin bone. There's still blood. A fox carved on it."
"What the hell?"
"Yeah, well, the bastard's trying, at any rate."
"You still want to kill him?"
"Good." He frowned at the design on the bracelet. "Why a fox?"
"Well, foxes are lusty creatures," Edie lied swiftly, glad that Boone was not the most discerning soldier in the wasteland.
Well, that wasn't necessarily true. He could spot physical danger at 50 paces, but he didn't realize that Manny Vargas was in love with him. Maybe that was all for the best, considering that he probably sort of blamed his old friend for his wife's death. It was Manny, after all, who had convinced him to move out to Novac.
"Why're you looking at me like that," Boone asked, grouchily.
"I drank the hooch too fast. I'm looking through you." She dropped the bracelet into her ammo pouch. "But never mind. Let's hit the road."
Later Edie was cooking Brahmin steaks over a campfire when she felt the beginnings of philosophical musings. A lot of love floated around the Wasteland, so why all the fighting? If a Crimson Caravaneer and a Boomer could fall in love from a distance, why couldn't more of the Wastelanders follow their example? That's how peace begins.
"Ouch! Goddammit!" Edie sucked on the burn blossoming on the web of skin between her thumb and index finger.
Boone, who was cleaning his rifle, barely glanced up from his work. Still swearing under her breath, Edie removed the steaks from the fire; she didn't even blink when he suddenly fired his rifle at something behind her. Looking around, she saw that it was a fire gecko. Having plenty of hides and meat already, she opted to leave it.
"You've still got that look," Boone said, setting the rifle down, and starting on the machete.
Edie shrugged and pushed one of the steaks at him. He pretended not to notice, but soon it was only a memory.
As they returned to the Lucky 38 several days later, a young man in a Dapper Gambler Suit approached her. He was not Vulpes Inculta, but a younger, leaner character. The suit hung loosely on his body (the Desert Fox wore it better), and the hat fell across his eyes.
"The mighty Caesar would have another word with you," he said, colder than the moon. "You still bear his Mark, it is believed, yet you have not claimed your pardon for your crimes against the Legion. Caesar reminds you that his patience is not infinite."
"Tell Caesar that if it's his wish to pardon me, then he may do so," Edie said, not bothering to wipe up the sarcasm now dripping all over the Strip. "Why does he want to see me, anyway?"
"It is not my place to question Caesar."
"He didn't tell you, then," she raised one shoulder.
"Another of his headaches seized him, and he was forced to lie down to ease the pain."
Edie fished a loose cigarette from her pack, lit it, and blew the smoke at the Legionary. "He actually reacted to the pain in front of you? Whatever it is, it must be excruciating."
The messenger said nothing.
She took a long, showy drag on the cigarette and offered it to the thin man. "What's your name?"
"Antonius," he admitted, after inhaling a deep lungful of tar.
"I'll remember you, Antonius, and I'll consider Caesar's invitation. No promises."
"This is not a request, profligate. You will see Caesar."
"You're not very bright, Antonius. Here on the Strip in broad daylight you can't force me to do anything. If you're lucky, it'll be the Securitrons that deal with you. Otherwise it'll be my friend in the beret, and then you'll be sorry you were ever born."
He sneered. "You can't defend yourself?"
She touched his side with Maria. "The situation I just laid out was on the off-chance you did hurt me. Now take a powder. Scram."
Antonius gave her a look of pure loathing, turned, and walked away. Once he was out of earshot, she coughed, opened a bottle of purified water, and drank it all, hardly taking a breath. She only smoked for effect and was not fully accustomed to the effects of tobacco use. Out of morbid curiosity, she probably would visit Cottonwood Cove to see what Caesar wanted. She wondered if he were having seizures in addition to his violent headaches. It was already established in her book that he was delusional. Maybe he had a brain tumor. Maybe he wanted her to cure him.
"My, my, my, such a lot of bulls and so few brains," Edie mused, handing the empty container of purified water back to the vendor.
She wouldn't hurry to make that house-call, though. She would wait until she was good and ready.
Several days later she set out across the Mojave without her companions; Boone would kill any Legion on sight, which Edie was usually all for, but in this case it might not be in her best interests. It was cooler than usual and cloudy. The air hung heavy in anticipation of the extremely rare shower of rain. Not far from Novac, Antonius reappeared, this time in full Legion armor, which fit better than the suit. His cold eyes held more heat, which was somehow more sinister than pure ice.
"I shall escort you," he said.
Edie frowned at him and stepped away. "It's become a point of pride with me to tell when someone is lying, and you-"
But she hadn't stepped quite far enough, for he grabbed her throat with a practiced grip and invaded her mouth with his tongue. When she struggled, he tightened his grip. With his other hand he pulled her closer to his body.
Edie stopped struggling visibly, trying to reach one of her holdout weapons, but before she could get a grip on the knife hidden in her sleeve, he made a strange wheezing sound, released her, and swayed backward. When she stabbed him, Antonius fell onto his face in the hot sand. There was a bloody hole in his back, and behind him stood Vulpes Inculta, machete drawn and dyed scarlet.
She pulled out a bottle of vodka and tried to take a drink, but spilled more than she drank because her hands were shaking so hard. When she finally got some, she used it to clean her mouth, spitting it onto Antonius, before finally drinking a mouthful.
"I owe you, Vulpes Inculta," she told her rescuer. "Quite a lot, in fact."
"I confess," he replied, removing his shades so as to properly look her in the eye, "That I could not initially grasp the concept of what you told me, but when I saw Antonius attempt to take you, I began to understand him."
Antonius moaned, and Edie shot him, her hand still trembling, but steady enough to aim and pull the trigger.
"Why?" She asked.
Vulpes shook his head. "I think I saw his actions through new eyes."
"I am now dead to the Legion for attacking him." He took off his headdress and most obvious Legion garb. "Now I shall have to wander the Wasteland as you do."
Edie took his bracelet out of her pack. "Have this back, then, Desert Fox. Use it to establish your new identity."
Vulpes stared at the bracelet for a second then took it and put it on his wrist. "Bid me farewell?"
She kissed him softly on the lips. "Good luck."
He accepted the kiss as his due, spat on Antonius' body and walked away.
Edie went back to New Vegas to find Rex waiting for her on the steps of the Lucky 38. She was very happy to see him.
"Oh Rex," she said. "You won't believe all that's happened to me."
Rex whined inquisitively.
"I don't know," she hugged the semi-robotic dog tightly. "But in a world where carpenters get resurrected, anything is possible."