"Let me get one thing straight." Lone paused, lifting her hand to stop his words as she tried to force down the renewed rage rising inside her. Her emerald gaze bordered a murderous glare and the thin trail of blood trickling down the curve of her face only adding to her intimidating stature. "You knew about her?"

"Hey-hey, don't be putting words in my mouth." Swank defended, "I knew Benny had a kid, but I hadn't seen the munchkin in a while, I thought he got rid of her or somethin'."

Lone glanced again to the two burly men, dressed in suits, standing further down the decimated hall. Both posed with the signature stance of strength on either side of the elevator doors. Their darkly tinted glasses giving the impression they were staring straightforward and leaving the illusion of privacy, when Lone had no doubt they watched her like a hawk. Swank had brought them with him.

He's not stupid. Lone decided. When a killer calls you up to a secluded room, backup is just wise.

And in her current state, they had every reason to be cautious of her. But she was getting real tired of being watched all the time.

Lone knew she would have to be careful. "What do you mean, 'got rid of her'?" She managed in a controlled tone.

"Well, I never thought it was smart having a kid around here. Not too safe in this town, you dig? Told him to pawn her off to that tribe whore a long time ago, but Benny always told me to shut my yap." He shrugged indifferently, but she noticed how his eyes glanced fleetingly to the guards in a gesture he clearly thought was unseen. "He kept her locked up tight here, but last I'd seen her was a month or two ago. He hadn't talked about her much since he left for that little cow town."

Cow town?

Oh. He means Goodsprings.

Why specifically Goodsprings? That had to mean something. Goodsprings definitely had something to do with her murder - attempted murder. So Benny must have been meaning to protect the girl. Maybe he had kept safe up in a penthouse suite, so she wouldn't be in trouble while he was away on his business trip?

Maybe he thought farther than that? Maybe he knew all the trouble that he would cause in his attempts to overthrow House? Maybe he wanted to get her out of the limelight before the fight started - keep her from being a target?

Made sense enough for Lone.

Swank tipped his head to the side, his eyes seeming cajoling. "Look, baby, you think I'd have set it up this way if I'd known?"

Lone wasn't buying it. "Frankly, Swank, I don't know what the hell to think anymore." She bit, still controlling her volume, so the words came out as a growl. "All I know is what I can see at the moment. And do you know what that leaves me with? A scarred little girl, a dead man and a lot more questions than I started out with. Right now, you're the only one with a pulse that can decipher even a little bit of this and you're damn well going to do it."

"Easy, dollface." Swank entreated, lifting up his hands defensively as his expression turned kind, but not quickly enough to mask the nervous smile. "No need to get aggressive-like, 'ight?"

Benny's normally smooth voice sounding much weaker, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, baby doll! There's that temper again. No need to get aggressive-like."

It took a lot of willpower to not draw her revolver and press it threateningly to his chin as she had done his former business partner. She had to mind the guards. She didn't want another fight.

"The last man that said that decked me with a wine bottle. So, believe me, I have every reason to be testy and you're going to deal with it. I've had about enough of Vegas and I've only been here a few hours. So let's make this easy on everyone, alright? Since I'm sure you don't want my attention anymore than Benny did." Lone hissed, taking a step closer to emphasize every threat.

"Honey-baby, you-"

"You're going to take the girl, you're going to be good to the girl and you're going to give her everything she needs to get past this." She cut in, not paying any attention to his attempt to interject. "I want no arguments on this. Benny's out of your way and I've been reliably informed that such a thing means you're due for a promotion. With that said, you better see to it that this girl gets what she needs at any cost." Her eyes locked hard with his, not in a glare, but in a calm fury. "And be sure of one thing; you don't know when I might stop by again. If I find out that she's been treated as anything less than a princess, what I have done to Benny will pale in comparison. Understood?"

Her head throbbed at the sudden intensity of the blood rushing though her veins. The wounds of her back and the ones more recently acquired pounding painfully in a matched rhythm. Added into the stress and mental strain of the whole ordeal, she suddenly didn't give a damn who she was talking to and what tone she was using.

Any warnings that she was pushing a little too far were ignored. Any part of her brain that reminded her of the armed guards standing nearby and the considerable injuries she had sustained was pushed away. She had nothing to lose at this point - just like she never did. The anger that wasn't properly released on Benny and the mental anxiety of dealing with the girl made her entirety loose any sense of danger. She wasn't going to take any shit.

"Okay." Swank relented, his voice suddenly somber as his face lost any traces of charm. "I'll handle it. The girl will be in good hands."

"Thank you." She replied curtly. Nodding before turning, although not as sharply at she usually did, she took a step into Benny's suite.

"Hey." Swank called gently, causing Lone paused in her step and turn halfway to him. His words seemed hesitant. "So you're sure Benny's dead?"

Her serious, fatigued expression didn't falter as she held out a hand to the decimated body, bleeding out its contents into the carpet, across the room from her. The corpse was enough of an answer.

"Just… wanted to make sure. Hate to find out a little detail like that by accident. Guess you're right then; that makes me boss. Ring-a-ding."

Nodding, she turned away again, but suddenly paused as the thought occurred to her. Looking back, she inquired, "Which reminds me; about the incident downstairs… I trust you've handled that or will I be shot the second I step out of here?"

"I'm telling you, you didn't make it easy, doll. It'll be hell explaining this to the Securitrons snooping around, but I'll see what I can do." He replied, lifting his hand to rub the back of his neck. "As far as you making a mess with that little O.K. Corral skit, I can't help it if you've earned a target on your back with the locals. Watch yourself, 'ight?"

"Right. What's the story you're selling then?"

"Benny played around with the wrong crowd. It caught up to him and he caught a bullet for it. The truth works pretty good right now, wouldn't you say, sugar?"

"And you won't sell me out?"

"And tell them what? I don't know your name and what kind of description would I give them? 'Looks like someone that could kill me for telling you this'? No point. And it looks like you don't take hits well, so we'll just keep to ourselves, you dig?"

She narrowed her eyes suspiciously at him, unconvinced. "Who says I'm not a loose string, like I was for Benny? No offense, but I don't know you. Who says you won't try to do Benny's job better? Where's my guarantee?"

"Like I said, hon', I don't know what you have going on, but you're one tough broad. I can respect that. You keep to you and I'll keep to me. Trust me, baby doll, I have a little more sense than Benny."

She stared at him long and hard, "You should hope so." Her hard glare didn't move from him as she stepped to the side. Holding her hand out to the bedroom door, she gestured for him to enter as her voice ordered tautly. "Go handle it."

He complied wordlessly, looking to one of the guards and jerking his head sharply, signally him to approach. The guard obeyed and jogged across the hall to his side, following him in as they moved through the living room to the bedroom. Lone's ears caught the muffled gag the bodyguard gave as his eyes dared a glance to Benny.

When they disappearing into the bedroom, Lone stepped back into the suite; sighing deeply. The adrenaline was all but gone at this point, meaning the crash would follow soon. She was so tired already, but the sharp pain in her back kept her eyes from drooping. The loss of adrenaline meant the loss of any natural painkillers, leaving her with her wounds and their all too vocal pain. She was overdue for a Stimpak.

Did you make the right choice?

She knew she shouldn't think of it. She shouldn't over-think her choices and just let things go the way they would go. But her mind couldn't stop throwing one thought to the forefront of her mind.

Was giving him the child really smart?

She shook her head clear, trying to make her mind blank as she ventured further into the living-room. She ignored the bloodstains on the carpet, the bullet holes in the wall and the pieces furniture, vases and other random decorations that littered the room.

But what about the girl's mother? Why not find her?

She tried to focus on the task at hand. Time to scavenge. She'd need some extra ammo for sure and, although she had enough caps to buy some at the moment, she couldn't get frivolous. If some could be found, it'd be smart to collect it.

What if the mother isn't around?

Her eyes instantly zeroed in on the large wardrobe placed against the far wall. There had to be something valuable inside, judging by the fineness of its build, and it looked free of any bullet holes. She'd start there.

But if she left the girl with Benny, what kind of mother is she?

She crossed the room quickly, grabbing the handles and pulling it open. It wasn't locked and the relatively heavy doors swung out with little effort, allowing her eyes to scan the contents within. She was met only with a rack of hanging clothes. Fancy suits at that, which couldn't be used for much and, by the look of the fabric, wouldn't even sell for much either.

The girl can't even look at you, how could you ever take her anywhere?

Ammo, she needed ammo.

Focus, She reminded herself.

Her hands reached out, pressing against the fabric of the clothes and feeling down the various materials for anything odd or solid; hoping to find something valuable inside the pockets. She found none. Her scrutiny continued to the wood and over the panels, looking for a drawer or nook that could conceal something. Just as before, she didn't see anything.

Carson seems to be good with her.

She tried to focus on anything other than her thoughts; something else to take her attention. But even her searching wouldn't suffice. She turned away from the wardrobe, closing the doors and letting her eyes scan over the tables, but with the lamps and vases scattered on the floor, they were left bare.

But what promise does that hold? Would he agree to take her? To at least handle her on a journey?

She walked over to the end-tables, opening drawers and pushing around the contents, but all they offered were pens and other useless things. Filled with nothing but scribbled notes for room service and numbers that were meaningless, so she closed the first table's drawer and moved to the second.

What right do you have to involve him in this more? He's probably going to bolt at the soonest possible chance anyways.

The second proved a better cache as she found two caps hidden under a few random papers. Pocketing them, she searched further and was also rewarded with a small 9mm round for her effort. She had no gun of that caliber, but she never wasted ammo, so they were taken as well.

If you took the girl, the mother would have no chance of finding her daughter.

Nothing else in the drawers, she pushed shut the third table frustrated, but not just from her lack of luck in the search. Standing, she moved towards the bar where, laid slumped against the front of it and staining the wood a sickly red, was Benny's corpse.

It doesn't matter. She scolded herself.

Gazing down on his bloody form, her resolve only seemed to harden.

She had no other options. Right or wrong, it was the only avenue for her at the moment. She wasn't capable of having a child around. She had no choice.

With a deep breathe, she collected her composure and silenced her thoughts. Get it together. This is life, not the vault. No time for downtime. She mentally chanted the familiar mantra.

She kneeled down beside Benny, ignoring the massacred head, and grabbing the edge of his checkered jacket. Lifting it up and glancing inside, she reached in when she noticed something large in the inner pocket. She dug only for a minute before lifting out a small bag of caps.

Deciding he had nothing else of value, she let the coat fall flaccidly closed again. Her eyes lingered on his checkered suit for a moment, almost emotionless - her mind finally changing in its thought process.

"Fuck you, Benny. Just fuck you." She said plainly, no remorse in her voice.

She stood, casting him away from her attention as she stepped over beside the couch, noticing Benny's pistol lying discarded on the ground. Crouching down, she reached over and picked up the gun, raising it up to her line of sight to study it. The handle was a pale ivory color with the intricate pattern of the Virgin Maria imprinted into it. Lone found the colors of her dress and her face impressive, as well as the careful engravings into the metal of the barrel.

An elegant weapon.

She turned it over in her hand to find the clip gone from it and noticed it lying not far from her - where he had likely dropped it in a panic to reload. She reached over, taking it and sliding the empty clip back into the gun, placing the safety on.

"Find anything worth while?"

Lone glanced up to see Carson standing in the doorway. "Some caps, a bit of ammo and his gun so far. The bastard's dead anyways, he has no use for it. Besides," She observed, "He didn't hesitate to take my things."

"I'm not judging. Just wondering whether you plan on keeping that gun or not."

She looked down on it, studying it as her mind remembered how the shots fragmented the wood of the door near her head. "Not that high of a caliber, I wouldn't use it. I'll probably just sell it; I think the handle will make it worth quite a bit. Unless you want it?"

"Nope, I think you've earned it. All the spoils are yours."

She slipped the pistol into her belt beside the other, standing to her full height, "You don't want his suit then?"

Carson grimaced, before noticing the borderline smirk on her lips. His eyebrows creasing gently in humor and he mirrored her expression. "Checkers would make me look fat. I don't have the hips for it."

"I don't know, I think it'd help your hair. The black and white is very stylish."

He chuckled. "So what'd you say to Swank? He's being a lot more tender with Bethany than I imagined possible for a guy like him."

Lone hesitated, "Bethany?"

"That's what she said her name is."

Lone couldn't explain why the ache in her chest returned at the knowledge of the girl's name. It cut her a little deeper for reasons unknown. "So I take it you managed to calm her down?"

"As much as I could. She's still really shaken." He stated, "But I'm seriously curious what happened to Swank. He just came in and scooped her up, talking about how 'Uncle Swank's gonna make life all gumdrops.' What'd you do to him? I didn't see a head wound or anything, so it must have been good. I've never seen him anything like that before."

"I just appealed to his fatherly nature."

"Like you appealed to Benny?"

"Give or take. Much more talking, much less gunfire, but he doesn't know when that will reverse. Fear is a great motivator; I think that girl's going to be spoiled rotten."

"She's deserves it." He agreed. "But, yeah, she's a sweet girl. Not much we can do at this point, but I think you scared Swank into a regular Mary Poppins, so she should be okay. It's out of our hands."

"I know." Lone nodded, walking back towards the bar. Careful to step away from Benny as she rounded the table, she asked over her shoulder, "By the way, are you alright?"


"Are you alright? As in, have you sustained any injuries? You did half the shooting. Were you hurt?"

"Pfft, you kidding? This badass? No, I'm better at dodging than you." He smiled, "And taking hostages, it seems. I only wounded the guys in the hall. It's pretty easy to take someone's gun when there's a bullet in their arm."

"You have a point."

"But where's the fun in that, right?"

She cast a suspicious look to him, only to find that teasing glimmer in his eyes. Breathing a laugh, she ducked down under the edge of the bar. Her eyes scanned the shelves for anything useful, carefully moving the bottles of alcohol to search behind them. She felt herself half tempted to take a few, but decided against it, not wanting to be there much longer. A few spare bullets and some caps was all she was looking for.

Carson followed her over to the bar, resting his arm on the counter-top casually as she lifted a few unused bullets from the ground. He gazed down on Benny beside him, shaking his head, "That suit..."

She lifted a cap from behind one of the whiskey bottles, looking it over to find no blue star. Just a regular cap. "He really doesn't need it anymore. You sure you don't want it?"

"A blood stained and horribly coordinated suit. Thanks, but I'll pass." He scoffed, "Besides, I couldn't pull off something that dorky. I might as well put on something pink and sparkly; strut around the Strip."

Lone rolled her eyes, "Hey, if it pays the rent. You could charge."

"I think you could pull that off better. I'd certainly pay."

"But then I'd have to shoot myself and I don't want to waste the ammo."

Carson chuckled. Glancing over, he noticed a darkly colored fedora resting on the table, similar to the ones the guards wore. He leaned over and picked it up, slipped it onto his head easily, "But how about this? What do you think? Good look for me?"

Lone glanced up, "You look like the Mysterious Stranger."


"Just this guy I know." She answered, returning her attention back to scavenging, "Kind of a stalker."

"More strange and possibly dangerous people following you?"

"That's about the size of it. Some things never change."

"I'm not sure if you're the most interesting or the most scary person I've ever met."

"Can't I be both?" Standing, she let her eyes scan over the area one last time, surveyed for anything she might have missed. "I don't see anything else. Let's get out of here."

Reaching over and gathering her bag from the countertop, she heaved it over her shoulder; ignoring the ache it brought as it touched her back's wounds. Her hand feeling for the Magnum at her side to assure it was still secured in place, she found it unmoved from its position and she stepped towards the door.

"Um, Lone?" Carson started, causing Lone to pause in her steps and turn to him. "Don't take this personal, but you look like shit. There's no way you're getting out of here looking like that. I know you're pretty clever, but you'll have about twenty Securitrons on you the second you step out onto the Strip looking like you just slaughtered a pig - which you kind of did, but that's not the point."

Lone paused, her eyebrows quirking curiously before she took a few steps backwards to align herself with the small mirror hanging off the wall behind the bar. Glancing at reflection in the glass, she was shocked about just how much blood was on her. The shot that killed Benny, although clean, sprayed her with his blood as his head exploded from the bullet. The crimson liquid died her skin a sickly color and was noticeable even in her dark hair, not to mention the even thicker amounts on her clothes.

"Yeah." She agreed, grimacing in the mirror.

"I'm fairly sure that bathroom still works, unless a stray shot hit it or something. You could wash most of it off there."

She glanced over to the doorway, knowing the girl - Bethany - wasn't far behind it. She didn't like the idea; the possibility of the girl seeing her and becoming hysterical again. Wasn't worth the risk.

Letting her bag slip from her shoulder and rest on the floor near the bar, Lone shook her head. "I'll use one of the other rooms"

Turning, she made her way to the door and stepped out into the hall. She glanced down to the guards - four of them now, one looking younger than the other and not wearing the signature sunglasses she came to associate with their profession.

As her footsteps announced her presence, she noticed the younger guard glance up to her. She saw his face flash with barely concealed revulsion at her appearance - covered in blood - and his tanned skin changed a shade paler. Her eyes only lingered on him for a moment, noticing how the other two straighten a little taller at the sight of her. Tall, intimidating, hands a little closer to their guns.

Smart men.

Lone turned her attention away from him and stepped up to the nearest room door. She knocked on it briskly as her hand ventured into her pocket, feeling around for the master key Swank had given her earlier. She heard no reply.

Lifting out the key, not feeling strong enough to kick in the door and not wanting to ask Carson to, she slipped it into the lock easily. She was silently grateful that her hands no longer trembled with adrenaline - Carson taking the key and doing it himself would only add to the list of things she's put him through. The door unlocked without trouble and she pushed it open, letting it swing from her grip and bump noiselessly into the wall behind it. Proving vacant inside as she leaned in to assess the area, she stepped in with Carson trailing behind her.

She located the bathroom relatively quickly, stepping into the small room and locking her attention on the sink as Carson continued into the living-room. She gripped the knobs, aware of the small amount of blood that smeared onto the clean objects, and turned on the facet. When green muck didn't pour forth, she found herself taken back. The surprises didn't seem to end in New Vegas.

Electricity and a relatively stable society was shock enough to see the in the radiation torn world, but running water? Clear water?

She didn't realize she was staring until she heard something clatter in the other room.

"Didn't break!" Carson called back.

She couldn't help the faint smirk that tugged at her lips as she turned back to the water. Her eyes purposefully avoided the mirror that hung above the sink, not wanting to see her blood covered, tattered self again. She held her hand out under the water, letting the clear liquid run over her fingers.

The water was warm. What a Godsend.

DISCLAIMER: I own everything except the characters and story-lines found in the Fallout universe.

A/N: The chapter title is 'When All Is Said And Done' by Abba. The lyrics kinda, sorta fit this for this is you leave out a few bits.

I actually finished this before Thanksgiving, but I just never got around to proofing it before the holiday. I'm lazy, what do you want from me?

But here is the 13th chapter, at long last! Other very lengthy fanfics published and 100,000 word novel proves that I haven't been just screwing around this whole time. But I can never stay away from Lone and Carson for long.

Believe it or not, this is only half of what I had before. I cut this chapter right down the middle because it was getting massive and I was only 75% done with it. So, I put the other half in the next chapter, meaning it's half done and probably won't be too long before it's uploaded.

Don't worry, pretties, it's working its way out of the angst. There will be fluff and funny times ahead, but Lone's internal struggle has to be capitalized on. You don't have your father brutally murdered in front of you, go on to kill a father near his daughter and not have any emotional repercussions.

Hope you liked it!

I love me my reviews and it's not just because they hold praise. It shows me how many people are actually interested in this story and whether or not I should continue it. Meaning they also cause the updates to come faster. :D Please review.