It’s been five days since one-oh-one’s father perished to prevent the Enclave from getting their hands on Project Purity. Charon considers the deed foolish, but noble—though now that he thinks about it, almost all heroes are born of foolish, honorable sacrifice. A father giving his life for his children, one born of his blood and the other born of his mind is indeed the ultimate sacrifice after all. After everything though, he cannot help but wonder if James had thought of his daughter’s distress when he had taken such action.
Elena has been locked away for three days now and completely silent for four. She had screamed when she had been told to run by her father, and had only screamed louder when Charon had carried her away, despite her protests and begging for him to let her save the last of her family. His contract would not allow such action, of course; there was too much danger and she was sure to die. He was not allowed to let that happen, hell, if he was being honest with himself, he did not want that to happen. Elena was the closest thing to a friend Charon had had in almost seventy-three years and he could not imagine losing her now.
After he had carted her away and into the tunnels with Doctor Li, she had stopped struggling against him. She had stopped moving all together and when they had finally gotten her to the safety of The Citadel, she stopped speaking. It took them two days to reach Megaton and despite his best efforts, Charon could not get her to utter a word. He even chided her for abandoning her father’s work, for leaving his project for the Enclave to take, but nothing worked. He wanted her to yell at him, to fire him, anything at all that would show him she was at least still with him, but for two days she said nothing, only walked.
Ever since they had arrived home, she had locked herself away in her room. She would not come out to eat, or even open her door to let the mutt inside. Charon tried his best to listen to her from his own room, but there was only the deafening silence that had been present since that fateful day.
He missed her.
He spent his free time at Gob’s, drinking until he ran out of caps he earned by helping Simms around town. Gob tried his best to cheer the older ghoul up, but it usually only earned him an angry remark or look, so it was not long before he gave up altogether and turned his attention to his other customers.
Today is no different, of course, and Charon preferred being alone anyway (unless Elena was here, he reminded himself, forcing down another sip of the watered down liquor.)
“Ya know, Gob, it might do ya some good to put up some décor for the season. Cheer the place up a bit.” Billy Creel, another regular of the bar, is sitting close by and just as cheery as ever and watching as the bar’s owner wiped down the counter with a rather filthy rag.
Gob, looks at him rather amused, “For what? The holiday cheer? You gonna come ‘round singing carols with Maggie then?”
Charon pauses, his bottle hovering just a touch from his ragged lips. Holiday cheer? What were those two going on about this time? He racks his brain for a moment before setting the bottle down on the counter with a light ‘clink’ as the glass hit the wood. He had nearly forgotten about all pre-war traditions, but if he remembers correctly, it was the day before Christmas. In the old world, families would be coming together to celebrate with food and presents; some sort of symbol of hope and good faith he is sure—he snorts a bit. See how far that got them.
“Ya know, Charon,” Billy looks towards him, “Maybe that’s the trick to cheering your girl up. Spread some magic.”
“Don’t call her that.”
Gob takes Billy’s empty bottle and smiles a bit, “You know, that ain’t such a bad idea. Maybe you get her something nice and she’ll brighten up a bit.”
He slides another beer to the smoothskin and motions to Charon with the same rag from before, “Maybe get her something to remind her of her dad.”
“He’s dead.” Charon can only imagine reminding her of James will cause her pain and sorrow. She has already been locked away from him for just under a week, he does not want to lose her forever because of a mistake.
“It hurts remembering, but she doesn’t wanna forget. It’s all she’s got now.”
He stares at Gob for a moment before sighing and shaking his head, “This isn’t my job.”
He knows that is a bad excuse, that it does not make any sense after all he has done just to see her smile, but it is all he can think of to argue now. He knows what is being said makes sense, that it is worth a sort. After all, he has tried everything else and if she is locked in that room any longer, Charon is scared she will die from dehydration. He frowns and looks up, he feels pathetic. He needs Elena; he needs to see her smile again, to hear her voice, to know she is going to be okay.
“What should I do?”
By the time Charon finds what he is looking for, it is nearly midnight. He has spent his entire day with Moira Brown, much to his annoyance, and he is sure his head is going to explode from the pounding headache he has. He pushes that aside for now though and slowly approaches the door in front of him. It takes him several moments to work up the courage to knock on Elena’s door and he is sure he can feel his heat drop when she does not respond to him.
He waits, but there is still no response, “Come on, kid, open the door. I got something you need to see.”
He knocks again; just to be sure that she heard him and he nearly jumps when he hears the sound of shuffling from the other side. The door opens slowly, but it does open and for the first time in days, Charon sees the face of his employer. He has missed her so much, he realizes.
“Yeah?” She sounds so tired. So broken. Charon wants to pull her into his arms and just tell her she will be okay, but that just is not the man he is. Instead he awkwardly offers her the object in his hands, a stuffed bear, and watches as her face goes from sadness to confusion in a matter of seconds.
“What’s this?” Her eyes glance up to meet his and she slowly reaches out, grasping onto the soft toy with her delicate fingers.
She examines the object, turning it over in her hands and lifting it up to her eyes, “It’s a teddy bear.”
She smiles a bit, just a bit, but Charon cherishes it like it is the most precious thing in their wasted world.
“It’s so soft and clean. Why is it blue? I love blue,” she sounds like a child, her eyes are filled with wonder and Charon’s heart feels like it is beating faster for a moment. Ever inch of her is lighting up and he reminds himself to thank Gob and Billy later.
“Moria, she uh, she helped me make it made it.” He wonders if he sounds as nervous out loud as he does in his own mind. If he does, she does not seem to take notice, or maybe she just does not care. Instead she smiles again, wider this time. Her eyes crinkle up and she laughs. Charon is sure it is the most beautiful sound he has ever heard and he promises himself then he is going to find a way to make her laugh every single day they are together.
“You made it? For me?” She looks up at him, he notices for the first time that he cheeks are red, stained with tears. Her hands grip onto the bear tighter, almost as if she is worried the object is going to slip away from her at any moment. “Why?”
He swallows and glances away from her. From the corner of his eye he can see as she tilts her head, confused again, as he speaks, “It’s Christmas.”
That is not why though and if there is one thing Charon has never been able to do with her, it is lie. “I wanted you to be happy again. I missed you.”
Elena frowns and she glances back down at the bear, her fingers glide across the buttons sewn carefully into the face, glimmering in place of eyes. He worries for a moment that he has offended her, or worse, that he has upset her again. She seems so fragile right now and he is so scared that he is going to break her somehow.
“I scared you,” she finally mutters and looks up at him. Her brow furrows and tears slowly fill her eyes, “Oh God, Charon, I’m so sorry.”
She lurches forward and wraps her arms around him, hugging him tightly. He finds himself, without thinking, returning the favor and pulling one-oh-one closer than he has ever allowed her before. Her body is so small against his and Charon finds himself worried that she will vanish into thin air any second; that his hold on her is the only thing keeping her rooted to the earth, with him.
After a moment, he buries his face against her head, breathing in the smell of her hair. He has almost lost her. The thought terrifies him and makes him hug onto her frame tighter. “Merry Christmas, Charon.”
He smiles, “Merry Christmas, Elena."