Game: Fallout 4.
Characters: Female Lone Wanderer, Butch DeLoria, Fallout 4 Protagonist.
Disclaimer: Bethesda owns the Fallout series.
Summary: Ten years after she forged her legacy in the Capital, the Lone Wanderer and her family settle in the Commonwealth's Diamond City, where she meets a man who reminds her of herself not so long ago. Follow-up to "Serpent Code."
Ivy glanced up from her bowl of edible-looking noodles and eyed the disheveled brown-haired man as he plopped down on the stool next to hers. The familiar sight of his Vault jumpsuit startled her, and she gazed at it in both scrutiny and interest. It deviated in color and detail from the other Vault suits she’d seen in her time, sporting a brighter shade of blue and a shining gold numeral designation.
“Vault 111? Now that’s one I’ve never seen before,” she remarked, grinning when the man raised his head to peer at her in exhaustion. “You from a Commonwealth Vault?”
“Yeah,” he replied, some of his energy returning the longer he looked at her face. “I’m still trying to figure my way around out here.”
A rush of camaraderie hit her at that moment, and she tucked wisps of long wavy auburn hair behind her ear as she rotated toward him. “Your first time in the Wasteland, huh?”
He nodded and adjusted the leather shoulder armor he wore over the jumpsuit. “It’s disorienting, this place. I don’t know what to make of it.”
They looked out together over the bustling heart of Diamond City, watching residents and travelers pass by in the middle of the afternoon. The town felt like a haven for citizens from all walks of life, and she caught sight of a pair of androids near the Chem-I-Care building, recognizing the subtle orange glints of their retinas. The smell of the Power Noodles restaurant permeated the area, offering a sense of home to those who desired it.
Ivy’s expression went nostalgic, and she pulled her black leather jacket tighter around her frame. “I can understand. The Wasteland is full of so many different things. This is one of the more peaceful settlements I’ve been in.”
The man stared at her, almost squinting as he leaned a little bit closer. “You sound different from everyone else here. Your accent. It stands out.”
She smiled and inclined her head. “Caught me. Yeah, I’m not from here. I’m still getting my bearings around this place, same as you.”
He studied her and then gestured to the combat shotgun strapped to her back. “You look capable of handling yourself.”
“I’m pretty good with this thing, yes,” she told him, reaching over her shoulder to pat the firearm. “That’s a nice-looking rifle you’ve got there, too. I don’t recognize the make, though.”
“I, uh… I’m not really sure about the make, either,” he admitted with some embarrassment. “I sent my dog out to find me ammo for it earlier, but I’m still waiting for him to meet me here. Getting kind of anxious that something might’ve happened…”
Ivy perked up. “Hey, I have a dog who finds supplies for me, too. Best friend I’ve ever had. It usually takes him a while, so don’t worry; yours will turn up, I’m sure.”
“Yeah, that does make me feel better.” He hesitated and then straightened on his stool, revealing a physique broader than she’d initially thought. “You’re the first person who’s bothered to converse with me out here.”
Her eyebrows rose in surprise. “Really? Well, that’s a shame. Though I did notice that people here are a little more standoffish than the folks back home.”
“Where’s home for you?”
“A bit down south. The Capital Wasteland.”
“I heard there’s clean water over there. Why come here? Just visiting?”
Ivy sighed, brushing her hair back when a breeze picked up and flowed through the strands. “Well, I had originally come here with the intention of looking for someone, but it turned into an inadvertent vacation of sorts.”
He tilted his head, but refrained from asking about it further. Instead, his eyes darted away and then back to her, a small smile playing about his lips. “You’re very pretty, if you don’t mind me saying. Your hair is really striking, too. The color, and the way it catches the light.”
She flushed a little at the compliment, aware of the way the sun shone on her auburn tresses, different from how it did back in the Capital. “Thank you. That’s sweet of you to say. My husband is one who cuts my hair and keeps it in good shape.”
The man’s face fell at once. “Oh. You’re married.”
“I am. Sorry,” she said with a chuckle. Then, to prevent him from feeling awkward, she went on, “So, are you planning on sticking around in Diamond City? Or are you looking to explore the surrounding areas?”
He thought for a moment. “I might stay here a while. I’m still new to this whole… Wasteland thing.”
“I hear ya. When you live in a Vault your entire life, the Wasteland is like a whole different world.”
He seemed to catch on at that instant. “Wait. You’re from a Vault, too?”
“Oh, you didn’t notice my jumpsuit? Well, I guess my jacket is in the way.” Ivy spun around and shrugged off her outerwear, showing him the 101 designation on her back. “Our jumpsuits in the Capital aren’t as vibrant or form-fitting as yours, but yup. I always default to wearing this thing on my days off. It’s a bad habit.”
The man reached out to touch the pads of his fingers on the number. “I didn’t know there were other people who still lived in Vaults.”
Ivy nodded and waited for him to retract his hand before she slipped her jacket back on. “There aren’t many actual Vault inhabitants these days, no. I’ve been out west in the Mojave and seen all the Vaults there. They’re all either abandoned or full of mutated creatures or raiders. Vault 101 is one of the few operational Vaults in the Capital, and it’s thriving now that it’s opened. I made sure of it.”
He appeared perplexed when she faced him again. “That last part sounds familiar. I’ve heard things about events in the D.C. area from ten years ago.”
“Oh? What kinds of things?” she inquired, her grin growing.
“A Vault kid made purified water a reality for the Capital and wiped out the Enclave’s forces there, among other positive deeds. They were known as the Lone Wanderer.” Suddenly, he froze, gaping at her. “You wouldn’t happen to be…”
Ivy laughed and stuck out a hand. “Caught me again. I’m Ivy DeLoria. Well, I was Ivy Ashburn back then. I’m that former crazy kid from 101.”
He shook her hand, seeming to stumble with his words. “Didn’t realize I was conversing with a legend.”
“I’m just another person making a living out here, friend. By the way, I didn’t catch your name.”
He opened his mouth to answer, but a new voice interrupted them.
“Yo, Ivy! Look! Check this out!”
Both of them turned to watch as a man wearing an identical outfit to hers tossed a baseball to a young boy with short auburn hair. Although still in his toddler years, he held a baseball bat twice his size and managed to swing it hard enough to hit the ball and send it flying clear over the Swatters building. A whoop filled the air, and the boy dropped the bat to clap, mirroring his father.
“That idiot with the slick hairdo is my husband, Butch,” Ivy declared, shaking her head but unable to keep the smile from her face. “And that’s our son, Axel. You can guess which one of us got to pick his name.”
Butch scooped the child into his arms and squeezed him in a bear hug. “That’s my boy! That arm, that swing. We got an up and coming junior Tunnel Snake here. You do your old man proud, buddy. Someday I’ll get you your own batting cage and pitching machine for practice, huh?”
Axel cheered as Butch carried him over to the noodle restaurant. Ivy stood from her seat to plant a kiss on the boy’s cheek. The movement shifted the front flaps of her jacket open, revealing the baby bump straining against the front of her jumpsuit.
“Aw, are you eating this noodle crap again?” Butch asked, propping Axel over his left hip as he turned his nose up at her bowl. “There’s gotta be better stuff to eat around here for the baby.”
“The sooner we find Dr. Li, the sooner we can ask her about the secret to growing fresh fruit. Assuming she’s really at the Institute. Until then, noodles it is for the pregnant broad.”
Butch issued an unhappy noise before noticing her companion. “Hey, who’s this guy?”
“A Vaultie, just like us,” Ivy replied, beaming. “Isn’t the Vault 111 jumpsuit cool? Looks better than ours, for sure.”
Her husband sidled closer to the stranger, who merely stared back at him. “You ain’t hittin’ on my wife here, are ya, pal? Mr. 111?”
Butch might have looked more intimidating if he weren’t holding a cheery, bouncing toddler in his arms.
The other man only held up his hands and shook his head. “No disrespect meant, but she’s a beautiful woman. You make a very picturesque family.”
Butch and Ivy exchanged a look, a sea of history written in their eyes.
“Yeah, well… it took a hell of a lotta work, and we had to get through some really rough times, but we made it,” Butch stated, his expression soft as his gaze remained fixed on her face.
She returned his silent adoration and then turned to address the other man. “In any case, good luck on your travels out here. You’ll go through some trials and tribulations, maybe even hit rock bottom at some point. But if you’re strong, you’ll get through it and make a name for yourself. I’m expecting to hear good things about you down the road.”
He acknowledged that with a nod. “Thanks, but I don’t know if you’ll be hearing about me at all.”
“Something tells me I will. Take it from 101 to 111. I know how it is working your way up from the ground. Just know that the Lone Wanderer from the Capital is rooting for you.”
He gave her an appreciative smile. “I’ll remember that.”
“Good. See you around, 111,” Ivy said in parting, lifting her hand in a wave as she walked with Butch and Axel toward the next district of the city.
“You got that feeling about him, too, huh?” Butch questioned once they were out of earshot.
“Hey, I called it when I said the Courier was going to take New Vegas and bring order to the Mojave, didn’t I?” Ivy returned, palms going to her abdomen when she felt the baby kick. “That guy back there, he’s got the same vibe. Some of us were destined to change the Wasteland one section at a time. It’s like we can sense each other.”
“I guess,” Butch intoned and then blew a raspberry on Axel’s belly, inciting a peal of laughter. Glancing sideways at Ivy, he added, “As long as you stay retired until little Harley is born, I’m cool with whoever wants to be the next Wasteland hero.”
“You are not naming our daughter Harley.”
“But that’s such a fuckin’ badass Tunnel Snake name!”
“Sorry. You didn't hear that, son.”
Axel only giggled and then pointed at her stomach. “My brother!”
“Sister,” Ivy corrected, slowing her pace as a solemn quality filled her gaze. “Though you do have a big brother in heaven. He would’ve been around ten by now…”
Butch regarded her for a few moments and then wrapped his free arm around her shoulders, holding her close while they ambled along. “We’ll all meet him someday, babe. Got your parents lookin’ after him up there in the meantime, right?”
“True. Your dad, too.”
“Nah, I’m pretty sure my old man went the other way in the afterlife.”
She snorted. “You’re awful.”
He grinned and then asked, “So, you really think Dr. Li is somewhere around here? Do we even still need her? I mean, Courier Six brought me back a pretty dang good synthetic liver from the Big MT. It’s like I don’t even have Wilson’s disease anymore.”
“You remember what Harkness said about the Institute. It’s shady, but if Dr. Li is with them, we might be able to work together to develop a full cure. If not… I’m sure 111 back there will be able to save our asses.”
“Asses!” Axel repeated, much to Ivy’s dismay.
“Ha! You’re one to get onto me about language,” Butch laughed as she scowled. “C’mon, honey, we’re Tunnel Snakes. Just accept that our kids are gonna have potty mouths.”
“Never. My little girl is going to be a proper lady.”
“But that’ll get her bullied!”
Ivy narrowed her eyes at him. “Only if there are ill-mannered little shits around. Like someone I used to know…”
“Oh, you know you love me.”
“Shits!” came Axel’s enthusiastic demonstration of selective hearing.
Ivy sighed as Butch cackled, and while his parents bickered good-naturedly, Axel peered over his father’s shoulder at the stranger from Vault 111, sharing an amicable wave under the iridescent sky.