She bolts awake, thrashing and screaming – fighting to stay alive—against her attacker. She spits and growls, digging her nails into flesh and ignores the pain as her fingernails snap from the pressure. Her name is being called and it takes her an uncomfortably long amount of time to realize Benny is trying desperately to get his arms around her panicked form.
“Blair! Blair, calm down!”
She gasps and freezes, her fingers still in an ironclad grasp on his skin, her eyes fixed on his as she desperately tries to assess the situation she is in. Benny, whose strained breathing nearly matches her own, does not move from the spot, and for one rare instance, he keeps his mouth shut.
The silence only lasts for a second and in the next moment the high-pitched wailing of their infant daughter pierces through, causing them both to jump. Benny’s gaze shifts from hers and his hand, fingertips buried beneath her matted hair, squeeze gently before he moves back, swinging his legs out of the bed and striding towards the startled child. Blair takes the moment to survey her surroundings, but finds, not to her shock, that nothing has been disturbed.
“I was there.”
“The vault?” Benny responds, Ella safely tucked into his arms; her crying has stopped and Blair wonders briefly why she only calms so quickly for her father and not her. Maybe she is just a bad mother.
She nods, turning again to glance out the window. The lights of New Vegas dance around, pretty as ever, the world outside seemingly another entirely and in a rare instance, she does not feel safe in the city. She wonders if she will ever really get that have that peace of mind.
“Pussycat…” He trails off and she turns to look at him again, but his eyes, now settled on the city, his city, seem to be far away from her and a lousy nightmare. She finds that she is almost surprised when he continues, “Baby, this ain’t your vault.”
“I can see that, Benny,” she says, voice teetering on the edge of frustration and anger. “It won’t make the nightmares stop. And the memories aren’t going to go away.”
She knows he wants her to forget, to move on and pretend whatever went on that place was just a drug-fueled nightmare and to his credit, she knows he is at least half right, but she is not like him. He wants to pretend too; wants to forget he walked the Mojave and if she did not know him, she would never guess he had, but she does and he is not so good at make-believe as he gives himself credit for anyway.
“How is she?” She questions, looking at their daughter in an attempt to change the subject. “Her screaming probably woke up the whole floor.”
“Dimmers of hers are already packed and on their way to dreamsville.” He responds, a thumb gently sweeping over the sleeping infant’s cheek. “She’s gonna be fine. Right now, baby, we’re talking about you.”
“Color me unconvinced. Alright is hardly ring-a-ding.”
He sets Ella back in her crib, before joining her at the end of the bed, arms resting on his knees. She curls her legs up underneath her and reaches out to touch his back. He winces, body flinching away for a moment when she begins to trace the deep scars that cascade down his flesh.
“Conner,” she mumbles.
“What about that punk?” He asks, an eyebrow cocked and a sneer replacing the calm demeanor he had moments before. “That fink isn’t worth your time, baby.”
“He was there. In the dream.” She pauses, waits for him to interject and tell her again how she should not be wasting brainpower on thoughts of the man she once had called her brother, but he says nothing, only continues to watch her with a look akin to anger, though she knows it is not directed at her. “It felt real.”
“But it ain’t. He’s dead, baby—helped you put the bullets in him myself.” He takes her hand and squeezes gently; she can feel her heart begin to calm from the contact. “I’m sorry, pussycat. I know you’ve been hurt real bad. Hell, I’ve caused a fair share of your heartache.”
She squeezes his hand in return, willing him not to bring up their history at that moment, “Benny…”
He raises a hand, cutting her off before she can continue, “But that’s done, baby. You and Ella? You’re safe now and I ain’t about to let any fink, alive or dead, cause you anymore pain. They’re gonna have to get through me and an army of securitrons to get to you. The odds just ain’t right for that, pussycat.”
She smiles, laughs a little even—mostly in relief, “Thank you, Ben-man. That means a lot.”
She kisses him, gently, her lips lingering for a moment before she smiles and reaches up to brush his hair back. He returns the favor, pressing his forehead to hers softly, and smiles, before pulling her back onto the bed. She yawns, sleep beginning to weigh her eyes down, “I love you, Benny.”
“Love you too, pussycat.”
A true calm returns to their room and Blair continues to listen to the sounds of their daughter, settling in the crib beside them. Benny’s arms loop around her, pulling her close while his fingertips brush down her skin. She smiles.
After a few moment, the calm is broken when Benny, lively as ever, says, “Hello! Girlie, we’re already awake, why don’t you and I swing in style before we hit the hay?”
She hits him with a stray pillow before rolling over to sleep.