((hey guys!! i’m really sorry about my inactivity. my life has been really busy for the past few weeks and i haTE COLLEGE THERe’S SO MUCH TO DO! but i should be a lot more active soon uwu thank u))
Her mouth moved, and she had to swallow before speaking quickly, “I’m sorry. Oh, god. I can’t imagine. I was hoping s-somehow that wasn’t… If it could be anything other than…”
Her fingers searched down his arm and closed apologetically around his thumb and palm. Aletta shifted and leaned into his side like a shell, tucking her head into his shoulder. It was the least she could do. Like a bandage for a wound. “You’ve been alone ever since?”
Anthony took her hand tightly, leaning his chin into her hair. “It’s not your fault, you don’t have to apologize to me.” He paused, taking in a shaky breath. “And yeah, I’ve been alone. I’ve, I’ve met people here and there, but I never really… I dunno, it never really works for me. I don’t go into the settlements much, either.”
Aletta shut the door tightly as he went ahead, listening. It was quiet inside, shielded from the winds; and to hear his voice captured in the metal hull like being swathed in protective arms, it sent her back years. It was chilling and she sat next to him gingerly, knees touching, staring at him the same way she would stare at an ancient, breakable relic. “I don’t think so,” she squeaked. “I’ve been busy. D-doing a lot of different things, um…”
It didn’t seem right to delve into that right now (or maybe she just wasnt brave enough). Aletta shifted and put her hand on his thigh, then on his chest again, looking at the armor pointedly. “Where- where have you been? What happened?” She met his eyes. “How did you survive?”
Time in the sun had brought wrinkles to the corners of Anthony’s eyes, and they appeared when he crunched up his face and stared forward at the floor. He turned his attention to his hands, wide and calloused. “I hope you had a better way out of the situation than I did. The Legion took me in, mercifully, as a slave. I think I would’ve rather died than serve them.”
He snorted. “But I did not want to die, and they couldn’t hold me, so I escaped. I watched Paolo, Sarah, Jack all enter with me, but none of them survived — the Legion executed them for being too burned to work.”
Anthony gave her a humorless smile. “You’d think, after all these years, people would understand that I am not a slave. Then again, I still call them people, even now.”
"That trap? It burned out a long time ago, and since I never learned how to fix it, I couldn’t, I just… I just hoped no one would force their way in, but…" Aletta followed him up the first steps and gently wrapped her hand around the railing. She gazed at him, eyes shining like moonlit pools, all full of wonder. "…You broke in? How long have you been around here for? When— when was it? How long have we been missing each other?" She clamped her palm over her mouth again, face screwing up as the threat of tears stung in her eyelids.
Anthony clicked on one of the fussy lamps and took a seat on the edge of a squeaky mattress — the one Lazarus always drew with his short straws. The interior still smelled warm.
"It’s been… it’s been a long time since I’ve come here. I did not come back a lot, in the first place. It wasn’t easy for me, and I had other goals on my mind at the time. I told my, myself, I wouldn’t return until I could carry the weight."
He shrugged a shoulder, heavily dropping it. “I broke in a week ago, with that in mind. And now I come back because I was wrong. You, though. Don’t tell me we’ve been dancing around each other for the past three years.” His eyes still felt wet.
(DROPPIN BY TO SAY YOUR ART IS SO SO BEAUTIFUL AND ANTHONY IS A BABE!)
((AHHHH thank you, anon!!! @w@ if i knew who you were i’d kiss your cute nose THANKS))
"They did break in, they took Luke’s pipboy. I’m the only with the keys…" Aletta trailed off, a fog settling over her guilt and fear. She shakily wiped the dampness from her upper lip and looked at Anthony. "…what… trap?"
He sniffled, awkwardly. “The… how did you never know? I guess you’d always used the keys.” Anthony stepped up into the bus, listening to both the new and familiar creaks as it settled under his weight. “It was, it was an… electrical mechanism. Is one. Picking the lock gives you a nasty shock, unless you know how to do it right. Hooked up to a fission battery. The others never really got the hang of it, uhm. Usually it smokes up.”
He pointed out the setup underneath the front console, small and unimpressive looking. It was only a bit complicated. “I guess the thief must’ve been me.”
"Yeah," she answered, her hands slipping down his chest. She was water-blinded but still couldn’t bear to lift her eyes at the marred shape of his body. Instead, Aletta jerked her head toward the direction of the bus. A failed attempt at regaining her breath, and she said, "Someone broke into it. It’s open and they sto-stole something, I’m sorry I couldn’t keep it safe." Her voice cracked and she pressed her forearm tightly beneath her nose.
With one arm, Anthony gently spun Aletta around and began to guide her towards the open door of the bus. “Keep, keep what safe?” he asked, eying the dusty windows. “Oh, wait, you think somebody broke in?” He knew, now, just what she had been waiting here for, and it was literally all his doing. “And d-did they even go around setting the trap again? The one I made? I’d be, I’d be mad if they broke it.”
The reached the lip of the door and he rested his free hand over it, letting the cool metal distract him from his dumb babbling. “But I bet it was set again, somehow. By someone.”
put a “<3” and i’ll tell you about someone i care about, without any names.
put a “</3” and i’ll tell you something that broke me.
put a “):” and i’ll tell you something i dislike about myself.
put a “(:” and i’ll tell you something i like about myself.
Put a “:P” and i’ll tell you something that pissed me off.
Put a “#” and i’ll tell you the last thing i lied about.
Put a “*” and i’ll tell you a secret
A bottomless pit had opened up in her chest. That’s where all the pain came from, the aching like fists balled up too tight for too long. She didn’t have anything to say back and simply let out another loud sob, lurching out from under Anthony’s hands to collide with his chest again. Aletta wrapped her arms around his back, clutched his shoulders, and cried; she cried about him, she cried about Luke and Lazarus, she cried about Otsilam and Isfet and the NCR and the slaver, she cried about being lost and being found again.
Weakness molded her limbs like no one had ever witnessed it before, her body limp and unprepared to protect itself. The way she let herself be in the dark where no one was there. Anthony was here, though, and he was not the dark. He was bright and miraculous and impossible. Aletta would not mind if he held her as she wept like a child.
There was a strange, cloud-like haze moving over Anthony’s vision. It turned the desert a pale gray, bleeding out over the horizon. Aletta, eyes rimmed-red with tears Anthony had never witnessed, bore the only color for miles. He did not know how long he held her, but he did so just as tightly until the quaking began to ease. The tips of his fingers, his hands, his arms were all looped up in the same cataclysmic vibration and he didn’t know how to still himself.
He pulled away from her, tight-throated and stuttershook. When he spoke, he sounded like an old man, “Hey. do you—do you want to go inside? I want, I don’t, it’s dangerous o-out here.”