Fiona returns to Taffington to rekindle a spark with her husband, MacCready, but their marriage is on the rocks.
This is part of a series based on my first playthrough of Fallout 4. It takes place after Fiona destroys the Institute. For context, I recommend reading earlier stories in the series.
If you’d like to see the actual Taffington Boathouse settlement I built in Fallout 4, click here.
Fallout 4 spoilers, language and sexual references.
Happily Never After
Fiona buckled her leather armor and adjusted her Minuteman uniform as she entered the dining room. Mac sat at the table with Duncan in his lap, sharing a Nuka-Cola and reading a Grognak comic. The boy was almost six but looked small and frail in his father’s arms.
She made a mental note to find a doctor to live at Taffington. Entice them with access to the nearby Med-Tek research labs where they’d found Duncan’s cure, and maybe set them the task of reopening the abandoned Medford Memorial Hospital.
“The bad man says, ‘Ha, ha! You will never escape the coils of my poisonous cobra!’ and Grognak says…” Mac deepened his voice. “‘You fiend! I will kill this beast with my bare hands.‘”
“Daddy, what’s a feen?”
“A ‘fiend’ is another word for monster.”
She swallowed the painful lump of sadness and regret that tightened her throat, and smiled. “Hi, sweetheart.”
Mac looked up from the comic. “You going somewhere?”
“Finch Farm spotted some super mutants again.”
“So, let Finch Farm deal with it. I thought you had Minutemen there.”
“Two stationed in the settlement and three at a nearby checkpoint. But I want to check it out myself. It’s not far. I’ll be back by lunch.”
“I’ll go with you.” He eased Duncan off of his lap and took him by the hand. “C’mon, let’s find Maria. Daddy has to go kill some feens.”
“With your bare hands?” Duncan asked.
“No, I shoot them before they can even see me.”
She heard Duncan’s little voice say “Wow!” as Mac led him out the front door.
Maria and her husband Bob were a ghoul couple who’d cared for Duncan in the Capital Wasteland. When they reunited him with his father in the Commonwealth, they were too attached to the child to leave, so they moved into the converted boathouse beside the two-story pre-war ruin she and Mac called home.
Not that she spent much time there.
Mac returned, threw on his hat and coat, grabbed his rifle and tucked a few stimpaks into his belt pouch. “Let’s go.”
With her plasma rifle in her hands, she crossed the bridge over the north end of Malden River, followed the road for a few minutes, then headed southeast, cutting across some scrubby fields toward the Revere Satellite Array.
Mac hung back, as always, with only the slightest scuffle of gravel or the rustle of brush to tell her he was there.
She glanced over her shoulder. “Just like old times.”
“Except I’m not carrying a bunch of your crap.”
“How long do you think it would take to dismantle those satellites?”
“Well, we can’t burn them down, and if the mutants won’t stay out, we should do something. Blow them up. Or maybe move them to the Castle. Sturges might be able to figure out something to do with them.”
“And this is your problem because…?”
She recalled something she’d said to Hancock. “Because I’m the general of the fucking Minutemen.”
“Pfft. Let Preston Garvey deal with it.” He said the name of her second-in-command as if it smelled like three-days-dead mirelurk. There was no love lost between those two. He mimicked Preston’s voice. “ ‘Another settlement needs your help.’ ”
“There’s a lot to do. I can’t ignore the imperative to alleviate suffering and improve the lives of my fellow wastelanders.”
“Remember when you said you wanted to be with me and Duncan, and be a family?”
She remembered. Shaun had been part of that dream, too. The dream of a suburban mom who went to sleep during a nuclear war and woke up in hell.
“Even when I was married to Nate, I didn’t sit at home all day, cooking meals and doing laundry.”
“We need to rebuild the porch, too.”
“I was a lawyer. I helped people seek justice and protected them from injustice. Sort of like I do now, but with more talking and less shooting.”
“Did you get paid?”
“Sometimes. Sometimes I worked pro bono . For the public good.”
He made a grunt of disapproval — one she’d heard many times before — and they dropped the conversation as the satellite towers came into view.
Crouching behind a cluster of trees, Fiona scanned the area with her pipboy, her voice low. “I count at least six.”
Mac lifted binoculars to his eyes. “Two on the ground and two mutant hounds. Two more up in the catwalks, maybe three.”
She moved behind a tall bush to her right, then a tree just a little further away, inching closer to the mutants but staying clear of Mac’s line of fire.
Raising her plasma rifle to her shoulder, she aimed through the high-powered scope. Better to take out the ones on the ground first, before they could rush her. The rest would probably keep the high ground. If not, all those stairs would slow them down long enough for her to reload.
Fiona held her breath, waited for the perfect shot, and squeezed the trigger. The weapon fired three plasma bursts in succession. She recovered from the slight recoil, aimed and fired again.
One down. Mac took out a second with his suppressed .50 sniper rifle.
The hounds bounded toward her and she let the targeting system on her pipboy take over. Plasma bursts turned the hairless, green beasts into puddles of goo.
The mutants in the towers had a bead on her position and the heat got too close for comfort. Fiona kept moving, ducking in and out of cover, and stopping only long enough to aim, fire, and move again. Mac kept to her left, at about four o’clock, relative to her position, just behind the edge of her peripheral vision. He would assist, but his main job was to make sure they didn’t get flanked or surprised from behind.
After so many months together in the wasteland, they worked with wordless precision, like two hands of a surgeon, completing the operation within minutes. Their ability to work together was one of the things that made her fall in love with him, and she felt those little butterflies in her stomach, being out here with him again.
They rejoined and entered the fenced area, weapons ready.
“Let’s do a sweep, confirm they’re all dead, and see if they left anything interesting behind.”
He sighed. “I know the routine. You can’t resist looting, can you?”
“That’s the best part.” Super mutants usually had a decent amount of weapons and ammo that she could add to the Castle armory or pass along to settlers.
“The best part is when you get to walk away.” He circled slowly around her, playing lookout as she checked the dead mutants in the dirt.
“For someone who loves caps as much as you do, I’m surprised you aren’t more interested in scavenging.”
“It’s too much work, looking for junk, hauling junk to the next town, haggling over the junk. I’m not a scavver, I’m a –”
Fiona headed to the nearest satellite tower. He followed.
“You’re a what?”
“I was going to say killer, but I guess I’m just a settler now.”
“Your idea, not mine. If you want to continue doing merc work, that’s fine with me.” She checked a super mutant brute on the stairs, then the ammo boxes on the landing. “Fusion cells. Shotgun shells. Hey, maybe you can be my liaison to the Gunners, convince them to work for me.”
“Screw the Gunners.”
She got an even better idea. “Who’s in charge of the Gunners now?”
“Hell if I know. We killed Winlock and Barnes awhile back, and Captain Bridget up the road at that junkyard near the Slog.”
“And that asshole Clint in Quincy. Fuck him.”
“I never knew who was really calling the shots.”
The mutants had built a ramp up to the satellite dish where they made camp. She found some mutant armor and a teddy bear in a trunk, and a sack of rotting animal parts, which she didn’t bother searching.
“What if you were calling the shots?”
“What?” Mac stood at the edge of the ramp, keeping watch.
“If we tracked down the leadership and took them out, maybe you could run the organization instead. Get them to start clearing out the raiders, mutants, ghouls, et cetera, downtown, and we could turn GNN back into a real television station again. That would be awesome.”
“That would be nuts. I don’t want to be in charge of anything, especially not that crummy, corrupt outfit.”
“You could straighten it out.”
“I ‘could’ send them all to stand in the middle of the glowing sea and drop another nuke, that’s what I ‘could’ do.”
“Hey.” She kicked a dirty mattress. “You want to have a quickie?”
Mac’s face puckered with disgust. “Here?”
“No one can see us.” She unbuckled her belt and pushed her pants down her ass.
“What the hell are you doing?”
She got on her hands and knees. “I’m already wet. C’mon.”
“Uh. No, I’m not banging my wife next to a stinking meat sack, on a crumbling communication tower, with my ass flapping in the wind.”
“You don’t have to show your ass, just whip it out –”
“Sorry, I don’t have a dead mutant kink, do you?” He made a little nervous laugh at his own joke and then realized she wasn’t laughing. “Ew. Do you?”
“No! Forget it.” She pulled up her pants and grabbed her rifle.
The metal steps clanged under her boots. Fiona headed to the road and made for Finch Farm, about a mile north. He ran to catch up.
“Are you mad at me, Fi?”
When they reached the edge of the carrot field, he shouldered his rifle and turned her around. “Can we talk?”
She slung her weapon across her back and hooked her thumbs under the strap across her chest. “Fine, talk.”
“You’ve been different ever since we blew up the Institute. What’s going on?”
“We killed my son. Did you forget that?”
“He was dying anyway.”
“You didn’t stop caring about Duncan when he got sick.”
“Duncan isn’t a gray-haired jerk kidnapping people and replacing them with synths.”
“I know Shaun was an asshole and I know it had to be done. But that didn’t make it any easier. He was my baby, once.”
“What’s this got to do with us?”
Nothing. Everything. She didn’t know what to say. He saw things in black and white, not color. It was one of the things she used to love about him. Made him easy to deal with, easy to rely on. Now it made him maddeningly blind from everything that mattered to her.
When she didn’t reply, he went on. “You remember we talked about having a baby?”
“Yeah, I remember. But it never happened.”
“I still want to keep trying, but I don’t know what you want.”
“I want you to believe in what I’m doing, to believe in me… to want me.”
“I want you to show it.”
“In the middle of a satellite dish?”
“In the middle of a satellite dish, in the alley behind Hotel Rexford, at the top of the lighthouse, in our bedroom.”
They argued over each other.
“I show you in bed –”
“You lay there –”
“That is not true –”
“I have to climb on you –”
“And do all the work –”
“Well, maybe if you actually came home once in awhile —
“Maybe if you didn’t drink all the time –”
“And stayed longer than the length of a meal and a hot dump –”
“You want to spend the rest of your life dicking around with tatos and comic books?”
“Hell, yes. It would be nice to never, ever have to worry about taking a bullet in the back or where my next meal comes from.”
“Well, all this shit you want me to ignore is what keeps you safe and fed.”
“I’m sorry I don’t give a damn about the ‘imperative’ to elevate suffering–”
“‘Alleviate.’ I said, ‘alleviate.’ It means to reduce or lessen.”
“Whatever. Screw the Gunners, screw Preston Garvey, and screw the wasteland.”
They both had tears in their eyes.
He hugged her and sniffled against her shoulder. “I don’t want to fight with you, Fi. I love you.”
Holding him, she remembered the things he used to make her feel. Happiness, hope, comfort, connection, desire. But she didn’t actually feel them anymore.
“I love you, too.”
She still felt love. But it wasn’t enough.
* * *
~ J.L. Hilton
The Treasure of Jamaica Plain <– Previous story + Next story —> The Blue Room – Coming soon!
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