They did not have long to wait. As Boone had predicted, two nights later they were awakened by a great commotion from the makeshift fort.
"I think we've been successful in our mission," Edie said, looking at the entrance with her binoculars.
"We won't know until daylight," Vulpes Inculta replied.
Boone lay back down and went back to sleep. Violetta peed on a nearby cactus and then curled up in a tight dog ball near her trainer's ankles. Edie shivered.
"It's freezing," she said, hugging herself. "I wish we could have a fire."
"One extreme to the other," Vulpes replied cautiously, trying to keep at least one eye on Skeleton Creek. "Such is life in the desert."
"I know. Here," she reached into her bag and pulled out another bottle of whiskey. "Have a drink; it'll warm you up."
"I'm on watch."
"Well, I'm up, too, now, and tomorrow is Boone's turn, anyway." She dug a half-hearted loaf of bread out after the bottle. "Sip it, then use the bread to chase it."
Eyeing her suspiciously, but unwilling to refuse he took a long drink from the bottle, coughed, and stuffed a chunk of the bread into his mouth.
"Not so much," Edie scolded. "I wanted you to loosen up, not get horizontal. Your tolerance for alcohol can't be much better than your tolerance for chems."
He didn't answer; she shrugged and drank a swallow much larger than his, forgoing the bread. Vulpes Inculta ran his fingers over his eyelids. He was a little dizzy, but his vision was still clear enough. He wasn't so sure about his thoughts, which were once again firmly centered on Edie.
At noon when the legionaries brought Lanius' body up for ritual purification before it would be burned, Vulpes had a mini-hangover in the form of a headache and a very dry mouth. He drank the stolen Bitter Drink and a bottle of dirty water, wanting despite his own discomfort to save the pure stuff for a more urgent occasion. He also tried to keep his eyes on the ground as much as possible and avoid the glare of the sun.
They watched Lanius' body be washed and have a coin placed in its mouth. From there a funeral pyre was built out of old tires, cloth, and the little wood available. The smell was horrible; Violetta seemed to be aroused by it: however, and it was an uphill battle keeping her from running to it. Because human bodies are mostly water, the burning took a very long time. Edie tried to take a nap, but due to the noise and stench, she did not sleep well or long.
Eventually most of the Legion remnants drifted away, leaving only a few guards and the flames began to die down. Edie looked through her binoculars again.
"Let me look," Bonne took them, and then offered the binoculars to Vulpes Inculta, who shook his head.
"What's the coin for?" She asked.
"To pay for the trip into the Underworld," Vulpes answered.
"Ah. In my religion, there's no cost. Just as well for the family of the deceased. Getting buried or cremated is expensive enough as is." She tried to laugh, but ended up gagging. Her joke wasn't really funny, anyway.
"We'll need proof for Fang," Boone said.
"They shall leave his helmet as a grave-marker."
"How well will they guard the grave, Vulpes?" She asked.
"I do not know. I was already in exile when Caesar… met his death, but when others died or were killed, once they were buried, we gave them no more attention. They were out of our hands."
"But for Caesar and Lanius, it could be different."
"Yes," he answered rather snappishly. The sound of talking grated on his tender skull.
Finally it grew dark and the guards drifted back towards the gate of the makeshift Fort. The light extinguished, leaving only the claw-like fingers of light from the legionaries' campfires.
"Looks like now's as good a time as any to go get the goddamn thing. Shall we draw cards to see who goes?"
"I'll do it," Boone's voice had the odd lilt that hinted at amusement. "They'll never see me."
Edie and Vulpes nodded, and the sniper disappeared into the darkness. He reappeared moments later with the spoils of victory, but those few moments were extremely long. Boone was stunned (and Vulpes a little jealous) when she greeted him with a tight hug.
"Hey," he growled, even though, deep down, he liked the affection.
"I'll be goddamned," Edie took the helmet and studied it, and then spoke to it, dismissively. "'I killed thee with not half so good a will.'"
"We must leave this place," the former head of the Frumentarii interrupted, looking over his shoulder.
Boone went directly back to the camp and General Fang. Edie and Vulpes Inculta returned to New Vegas.
"What'll you do now?" Edie asked.
"The Legion will be destroyed by the infighting now," he said. "I can feel it, though I have no desire to hear the details. I will continue to wander the Wasteland… east perhaps."
"I'll miss you," she admitted, laying her hand on his cheek, putting her face close to his. "Why don't you stay at least one more night?"
His breath caught in his throat. "Have you taken leave of your senses?"
"Yes," she stepped away from him, leaning against the wall with her arms held out. "Come and get me before I regain them, Desert Fox."
Instantly his arms were around her waist and his lips pressed against the base of her white throat.
Down the hall, Frenchy watched them, nodded her holographic head, and took the lift to the penthouse floor. On the Help's big screen, Edie and Vulpes' actions were played out large as life. The robot grabbed the nearest pre-war book and threw it at the monitor.
"Bad computer!" The former Yes-Man scolded itself. "Bad computer!"
Edie and Vulpes vanished, and the smiling face of the Help returned.
Rex and Violetta sniffed each other, then stretched out in a patch of light from the Lucky 38 sign. Back at the camp, Boone fondled the letter he had written to his wife should he die before her. General Fang swore at the ink he'd just smeared on his report. Daisy Whitman looked at the cloudless sky and wondered if anyone besides her remembered jet streams. Maureen shut herself down for the night. Marty sang a sad song about a dying cowboy to himself in the empty cocktail lounge.
And quietly, Edie turned out the lights, careful not to awaken the sleeping Fox beside her. She was just as surprised by this turn of events as anyone, but at the moment, things were good. Stranger events than this had taken place before, during, and especially after the War.