|Doc||Doc had just finished the table setting when the buzzer sounded. He'd recognized Fern immediately. She had been run through the decontamination chamber, which had soaked her, then dried her as he watched on the camera. Once she was 'clean enough' by wasteland standards, he had hit the cycling button to let her in. Now he stood in front of her, all smiles and a nice, pre-war suit on with vest and tie and everything. "Welcome!" he says, "to the lab of tomorrow!" He faltered at the end. "Or, you know, two hundred years ago, depending which side you look at." His smile returns as he moves forward. "May I take your...um...coat?" It had been a while since he'd entertained guests that were wearing layers, and he thought he was remembering it right.|
|Fern||Doc is met by the blank stare of Fern, hair tossed about her face thanks to the drying room.. thingie. She takes a slow breath and as it's released she says, "Quite the uh, shower?" She squints at Doc, then steps forward, looking down to her jacket and back. "Yeah, sure. Long as i get it back... Where'd you find such an in-tact suit?" she wonders, one brow arched as she nods towards Doc. Fern slips her jacket off and hands it over, then looks around the space. "Nice place," she notes.|
|Doc||Doc hangs the coat on the edge of his alien stellarator. "Thanks," he says. He guided her into the pre-war living quarters part of it with a hand on the small of her back before pulling out a chair for her at the table. He was doing his best, as she had put it in the brothel, to be a 'perfect gentleman' to her, at least as far as he remembered the rules for such things. Hadn't had to bother with them for a long time.|
|Fern||Fern moves over to the table and starts to reach for a chair, but finds that it's being pulled out for her. "Thanks," she says, eyes shifting to Doc again. "How old are you then? If you're a ghoul. You don't eat people, do you?" she asks. "I never met one that didn't try to tear through me, so sorry if you don't answer stuff like that or something," she says as she lowers to sit.|
|Doc||Doc nods as he pushes in the chair slightly as she sits. He moves to the fridge and pulls out a pitcher of the purest water she would likely have ever seen. "That's a complicated question," he says to her as he pulls out two glasses in perfect condition. "I like to say that I'm as old as my nose and a little bit older than my teeth." He pours one glass. "That's true, of course, but it's not the whole story. I was born before the war, so I'm definitely very much your senior." He pours the other glass. "And no, I don't eat people. Not even for survival. I never have tried it, and I never will unless I go feral. But since that whole alien thing, I'm less feral than ever."|
|Fern||"So.. you got sucked up onto the ship with the others and they splattered some kind of fake skin on you? I got some of that stuff at home. When we found out the old bastard wasn't really himself, I got to keep his arm. Still got it at home in a safe place, too. Wires and springs and all that stuff. It's pretty cool," Fern mentions with a grin. "Were you all decaying before they put the skin on you? S'pretty crazy," she notes, still grinning about it.|
|Doc||"I tend to look at it as scar tissue," he says. "Rot doesn't last that long." He brings the glasses to the table. "Are you ready for the most delicious water you've ever had in the whole of your life?" He sets the glass down in front of her before she's ready to answer.|
|Fern||Fern looks over to the water and back. She reaches with a hand to take the glass and lift, and she sniffs at it a little. "It looks pretty clear.. Clearer than it should be. Shouldn't it have at least some shade of brown to it?" she wonders before lifting it up and sniffing again. She takes a little sip, then another. "Dang.. How'd you get it so clean?" She looks surprised.|
|Doc||"I make it myself," he says with a grin. The grin suddenly fades as he says, "I mean..." He fumbles with his words a bit as he clarifies, "I separate out hydrogen and oxygen, then combine them without any of the other things and boom. Purest water you've ever had in the whole of your life, and possibly ever will." He looks a bit smug, then turns the chair and sits towards the edge of it, leaning back. It wasn't very gentlemanly of him, but he'd already stopped caring about the rules. "I try to keep this place as clean as I can." He sips on his own water.|
|Fern||"You.. made it? Seriously?" Fern looks at the glass in her hand, turns it this way and that, then brings it to her mouth for another sip. "Damn. That's cool! I wouldn't even know where to start to make it like this. That's pretty crazy," she notes with another sip. She grins a little as Doc leans back, and if she cares she doesn't show it. "I bet people would pay a lot of caps for water this clean." She nods to that. "What else do you make?"|
|Doc||He raises an eyebrow and raises a finger, then dashes out of his chair. He brings back a box full of half-built machinery. Setting it on the table, he begins taking things out of it. He explains a lot of it, but it's all very technical, and it's all parts of things. "Overall, it's cybernetics right at the moment. I'm trying to find a cure for feralism, but...you know...possibly impossible." He looks into her eyes for a moment and says, "You've definitely convinced me not to get cybernetic eyes, though."|
|Fern||Fern looks over what's brought to the table, and she seems pretty interested while Doc talks about each piece. The girl nods to this and that, and even though she doesn't understand it all she can still appreciate it. "Neat.. and yeah. Feralism. Might be hard to turn 'em back once they've gone that far. But there's hope, right?" She smiles a little. When Doc comments about eyes she says, "You were actually thinking of doing that? How would you be able to see? Your eyes are cool. You should keep 'em, yeah!"|
|Doc||"Well," Doc says, putting things back in the box. "Maybe," he finally adds. "If I can take out their brain and put it back in with a cybernetic interface, I can *prevent* feralism...but once you're gone...it's like that part of the brain dies off. You...stop being you. There's just a rotted mass of meat that your body reabsorbs. I...it...just might not be possible to reconstruct and even give them a NEW life." He smiles at her comment about her eyes. "You're the first person to take so much interest in me," he says to her. "Since I was ghouled, I mean. There were girls your age in the vault, but...they stopped caring once I turned into a mass of radiation scar tissue. Just a big ol' walking scab isn't sexy, I guess."|
|Fern||Chuckling, Fern says, "Maybe not sexy, but it's still pretty cool. I mean, you're a ghoul, but one who can still talk to people and not eat them. That's wicked, ain't it? You're something different. Unique, and you seem to be pretty smart.. and you've been alive for like.. fucking ever," Fern says with a grin before she sips more of her water. That reminds her, "What did ya cook for dinner? Or did Jackie cook it?" Speaking of her, "Where is she?" she wonders.|
|Doc||Doc looks across the room at the sleeping-pod-looking thing that's steaming like something out of a science fiction movie. "She doesn't like being around the pod," he says. Jumping into action once more, he returns the box before moving to the oven. He pulls out a pair of plates, apparently just in there to keep them warm. "I made sure there were no rads in there, just in case you're sensitive to such things." He brings the plates to the table and starts pointing out things on them. "Okay, so forgive me, I don't have pre-war ingredients. This is supposed to be taco, enchilada, some refried beans, and a sopapilla." Except for the tortillas and sopapilla, nothing looked particularly like its pre-war incarnations did, though he'd tried to replicate the flavors as best he could remember them. He didn't come close, but at least it was still good.|
|Fern||Fern looks to the glowing thing and considers it. "What's so scary about the pod? What's it for? Do you sleep in it or something to stay looking younger and human?" Fern wonders, still examining it from afar. When she finally looks back she watches the food be plated, and she sits forward on her chair. "Damn. That looks pretty good.. I don't know what any of that is, but it sounds good," she notes with a grin. She doesn't wait long before she takes a bite and says, "Wow," She'll try not to eat like an animal.|
|Doc|| Doc helps her learn how to eat it all, his hands on hers as he guides her like he's teaching her how to golf. After their meal is concluded, he washes his hands and lets her wash hers with real water.
Then he takes her to the pod. Inside is a very surprised-looking blonde woman. She's very beautiful and more attractive than any of the brothel's employees. She's wearing a speed suit, but isn't moving. "This is Megan One," he says to Fern. "She's from the vault I survived the bombs in." He touched the pod. "Kind of a reminder for a long-lost era." He looked very sad.
|Fern|| Fern looks a bit curious when Doc is helping her eat, and maybe she also looks a bit annoyed from time, grunting a little, "Thanks," as she works on the meal. once it's over she says, "That was really good.. Haven't had something like that in a long time," she notes with a smile.
As she rises and follows Doc over to the pod she peers inside at the beautiful woman. Her eyebrows rise and she breathes a whispered, "Whoa.." before looking to Doc, eyeing the sad expression. "Can she get out of there or.. is that thing keeping her alive? Did you have a crush on her or something? Or did you create her?" she asks, looking back to the blonde.
|Doc||Doc smiles at the questions. "That's very flattering, but I couldn't make something like Megan One. No, the answers to your questions are, in order: Yes, once I have enough power in the capacitor; yes, cryogenically; no, but she is in love with me; and again, I couldn't create something like Megan One." He leans against the pod and pulls his braid over his shoulder, toying with it. "Thing is--" he starts. He pauses, then starts again. "The thing is, I don't know if I want to start the thawing process. She's nice and all, but I JUST got my libedo back with the synthflesh. I've been a free man for hundreds of years. She's going to expect me to want to just jump back into how things were back then, only without anyone else, quote, 'getting in our way'. Nothing was in our way. She played the lottery, same as everyone else. There were a thousand women in there, it's not like I had enough time for all of them!"|
|Fern||Fern looks from Megan One to Doc, and there she goes studying him again. She looks as if she might speak, but she pauses, starts again, pauses, laughs, pauses. "Okay, okay.. Slow down. So.. This.. super hot girl is totally in love with you, but you don't know if you want to bring her out cause you wanna sleep around? Somehow?" She smirks. "Dude." She looks to Megan and back. "She's super cute!! Why wouldn't you just bring her back? I'm sure you two could uh.. scratch itches and all that whatnot," she says with a swish of her hand. "She wants you to be only for her, but you wanna be able to bump uglies with anyone, huh?" she wonders. "And what lottery?" Now she looks confused.|
|Doc||"No, not sleep around," he says. "It's not as simple as that. She wants things to go back to the way they were, but...things aren't the way they were in the vault or before the vault or anything. And yeah, she likes me, but...god, I can't even remember the last time I had USE for a woman in that way." He rubs his cheeks for a moment. "The lottery in Vault 69. Too many girls to sleep with everyone, so there was a daily roster I had to meet unless I was sick, then there was the lottery. Basically, you had the chance to get lucky if you got lucky." He smirks as the pun hits him. "Megan One is...she's a pre-war treasure. She's...also really confusing and terrifying and again, I don't want to bump uglies with whomever I want, but I do want to be free to flirt and love and cuddle someone who's hurting. That stuff IS stuff I've been doing the last few hundred years, even without functioning junk."|
|Fern||"Dang.. Sounds like one hell of a story.." Fern murmurs. That's to say the least. Fern looks back over to Megan again, and when she looks to Doc she asks, "You weren't a ghoul in the vault, were you? Did it happen after you got out somehow?" She looks to Megan again, continuing to talk. "I mean.. Unless your vault was filled with a shit ton of radiation and you got out just in time or something.." She shakes her head. "Damn."|
|Doc||"I was not when I got in," he said. "But...I wrestled with a glowing one to save the only girl in Vault 68. Megan One came with and got snatched by aliens. No lie, that's what actually happened." He gestured at the alien blaster on the counter. "That's where I got that. It's two hundred year old model alien blaster. Antique by anyone's standards."|
|Fern||"Wow.. That's some crazy shit," Fern says as she takes a little step back then, hands resting on her hips. She stares at Megan for a bit longer before she looks to Doc and asks, "Think you'll ever bring her back? Or do you like keeping her the way she is?" A brow arches at that.|
|Doc|| "I want to do it right," he says. "If I do it too soon, she'll be a shell of her former self, unable to help out in the lab. When I get the proper amount of energy, which is super frustratingly slow with this non-alien tech...when I get enough energy and do it right, she'll bounce back to being my lab assistant."
He pauses for a moment as he looks down at her. "It's not because she likes me and I don't like her," he says. "She liked me because I was the only man around. There are better men than me out there, now. I'm a genius, but I'm not a good man. I'm sometimes slightly feral and I do dangerous things without thinking, all in the name of science." He looks over at Fern. "It would be like if you liked me. I don't deserve someone like you. Or Tibbie or even Kaelyn. You girls just go do your own thing, and when Megan One comes out, just...try to steer her away from making stupid mistakes in the guys she dates, okay?" He walks away from the pod, crossing back over to the living area to start picking up dishes.
|Fern||Grinning slightly at the chat, Fern says, "That's a lot of information.. One. You don't really know me, to say you don't deserve someone like me, cause if you did you'd know I was gay. Two, Kaelyn.. I ain't never seen her with nobody, and I've known her for three years. Who knows what she's into. Three. I don't know anything about Tibbie except she's cute and has a kickass baby deathclaw. And four. Well.. I don't know about four, but I know if Megan ever gets out I'll try my best to keep her on the right path."|
|Doc||"I'm not--" Doc starts at the gay comment. "She isn't--" he tries at the comment about Kaelyn. He lets her finish and then says, "Are you done? I'm not coming onto you. You're, what, twelve? Second, Kaelyn? No. She's a hyperactive elf. I'm WAY too old for someone who acts like that. And Tibbie and I are just friends, despite what anyone may have told you. She just brings me food from time to time, that's all." He says, "I'm almost three-hundred years old, Fern. I've done things that would curl your hair. I let loose an army of robots with the personalities of magical girls and may have destroyed a whole city. I had a nukebot that I detonated in Russia that took out the Kaiser's whole bear cavalry there. I went to a science fiction convention on purpose!" He throws his hands up. "I don't want Megan One to like me! I don't want anyone to like me!" His hands fall to his sides and he goes back to doing the dishes. "And no one does like me." He grumbles, "So that's fine."|
|Fern||"I'm sixteen!" Fern says, scowling, as if that was soooo much older than twelve. She grunts a little more, watching Doc shake his hands and get back to washing dishes. "People like you. Why would you think they didn't? I like you. You're pretty cool.. and.. what's a science fiction convention?" she asks. Those must be bad!|
|Doc||He sighs. "I don't mind if she likes me," he admits. "I know people like me." He turns back to face Fern. "I'm sorry for saying you look twelve. Honestly, anyone under a hundred it's hard to tell," he jokes, though he's pretty deadpan about it. He takes a moment and closes his eyes, then opens them again and says, "Fern, there were a thousand women in that vault when the doors closed. There were hundreds of girls born after the doors closed. I knew all their names. After the incident, I memorized all their names. Every one of them." He looks intensely at her and says, "Guess how many people it took to permanently destroy every woman and child in that vault." He didn't wait long for her answer before he holds up a single finger. "And I saved her. I see their faces when I sleep. I see my daughters." Tears stream down his cheeks. "I remember how they looked before and after they all got turned into things like those zombies outside." He puts his hand down, stuffing a hand in his pocket and wishing he smoked. Finally, he admits, "I don't want to look Megan One in the face again and hear her voice and remember that everything I've worked for my whole life is living in a tomb vault buried in an undisclosed location." He slid down the counter and sat on the floor. "I don't want to have to tell her the names of everyone she lost like it just happened yesterday."|
|Fern||And there it is. It all makes sense now. Fern is quiet as she listens to the story and connects the dots. She watches as Doc slides down to sit on the floor, and after a moment she walks over and sits down beside him. She presses her shoes to the floor and bends her knees, propping her forearms on them as she looks ahead. "That's harsh.." she whispers before lifts her arm to drape it over Doc's shoulder, trying to give him a side-hug. She's quiet for a while. What can you say after all that? She just listens to the silence, and eventually says, "My parents are dead," like that's at all the same, but she's trying. Another pause follows, and then, "If aliens fixed you.. maybe there's hope for them. Maybe.. we can figure something out, right? I mean.. crazy shit happens out here all the time. Long as you don't lose hope.."|
|Doc||Doc sighs and returns the side-hug. "I've held onto hope way longer than is reasonable. My experimental cures have become...well, patently absurd, to tell you the truth." He sighs. "Seeing Megan One has made me redouble my efforts in the last few months, but...honestly, I have known for a long time that there's no way to get the person back after feralism sets in." He waves his free hand about in the air. "Oh, sure, I can regenerate the neurons and make the feral not be feral again, but it's got a baby-brain, and the muscle memory and hormones are those of a feral, so that leads to some really feral-like non-ferals." He huffs a breath through his nose. "They're gone is all. I've known that for a long time, but I got to pretend I could cure them because out of sight out of mind. Now the truth of it is staring me in the face every morning I get up." He tosses a spoon at the pod. It pings off the side harmlessly and skids across the floor. "Jackie doesn't care about the pod," he says. "She just doesn't like being around me around the pod."|
|Fern||Fern slowly looks over to the pod again, and as she watches it she says, "You know.. if you wanted to, I could take it off your hands. Keep it at my place. You wouldn't have to look at it, but you could rest easy knowing it was safe and looked after," she offers with a little shrug of her right shoulder.|
|Doc||"Needs maintenance power," he says. "You got a fusion reactor at your house?" He raises an eyebrow and looks sideways at her with a smirk. "I somehow doubt it."|
|Fern||"...True. Alright well.. Why can't you just put her someplace else?" Fern asks. "Unless.. I could try and find parts and put something together.. Or we could just keep working on yours to bring her back as soon as we got everything powered up, and I could take her away or something.." Sh runs through ideas. "What would she be like if you brought her out of there today?"|
|Doc||Doc answered the last question first, and did so without hesitation. "Fierce," he says. "Determined, brilliant, quirky, strong in more ways than one, helpful, beautiful, distracting, romantic, possibly sexual; I could go on," he concludes, turning his head to face Fern again.|
|Fern||Fern looks from Doc over to the pod, silent for a bit until she hisses, "Damn. Wish I had a fusion reactor." The girl starts to laugh and she shakes her head, sighing lightly. "Well, I hope you can get enough power to get her going again. I'd like to meet her some day."|
|Doc|| Doc nods, staring at the pod. "Someday," he agrees, rubbing Fern's shoulder reassuringly.