“I’ve still got to change the name of the 38,” Gunnar said, as they approached home. “I’ve already got my new sign. People are going to call it something, so I better find a new name before it’s found for me.”
“Ah, I see. Removing the last vestiges of Mr. House?”
“No. But that was his time and his tower. It’s mine now.”
They entered the 38. Inside was just as dim as before; Gunnar worried about running out of light bulbs, since nobody, not even the NCR, seemed to make those. They stood for a moment to let their eyes adjust after the neon lights outside.
“Maybe it’s silly, Arcade,” Gunnar said. He’d walked arm in arm with the other man all the way home, but now actually leaned on him for support. “It’s not really that important a thing, and just one more thing I’ve assigned myself.”
“It’s still important, and probably less stressful than running a city-state. How bad is your knee?”
“Hurts. A lot.”
“Then you definitely need to rest it. I’d hoped you could make a public appearance tomorrow in Freeside and Westside, too.”
“To prove I’m still a man of the people?” Gunnar’s smile was tired.
“Something like that. So you’ve got to rest up enough for that. Then you can do all your work from bed.”
~ ~ ~
In the penthouse, lit only by the glow of neon from the street, they stood by the window and looked out at the city. Gunnar insisted, before retiring to bed. Gunnar’s city, Arcade thought. Only Gunnar would see a city built on vice and want to make it a better place to live, and maybe even let people keep their vices, too.
“Why is it a vice president?” Arcade wondered aloud. “If vice is also something most people don’t approve of.” He knew the answer, but Gunnar loved showing off his knowledge.
“Two different roots that ended up with the same word, sort of,” Gunnar said. “Vice, as in gambling and whoring, comes initially from Latin vitium, meaning a defect or offense, and got modified by French. Vice as in assistant also comes from Latin. Like, a viceroy is the assistant king – vice-a-roy – roi being the French word for king.”
“I see. So it’s not that the vice president of New Vegas would be the president in charge of increasing vice.”
“No, not at all,” Gunnar said with a smile. “Of course, New Vegas doesn’t have a president.”
“No. It has a Ponix, which is a new and unheard-of title, and nobody knows what the hierarchy is yet.”
“Oh, God, please don’t say I need to create an org chart,” Gunnar laughed, and took Arcade’s hand. “I’ll delegate it to you.”
“Yes, delegate to me, Ponix,” Arcade purred, making Gunnar laugh again, and they kissed.
“I have a present for you,” Arcade said, when they broke for air.
“Let me guess, it’s in your – “
“Coat pocket,” Arcade interrupted, smiling. “That is for later, what you were no doubt about to allude to. No, I have something for you, if you’ll listen to your doctor and get into bed.”
“Well, thank you! I hadn’t expected anything.” Gunnar waited as Arcade fished around in his coat pocket, more than he actually needed to. “It’s not like this economy really allows for – “
“Please, you had me at delegating and tax codes.” Arcade paused, his hand still in his pocket. “Get to bed, Ponix.”
Gunnar relented. When he was in pajamas, in bed, leg propped up slightly, he asked: “Well?”
“Pushy, aren’t you?” Arcade buttoned up his own pajama shirt.
“You know we’re just going to take these off again.”
“And that’ll be part of the fun, yes. But first…” Arcade went to his lab coat and took something from each pocket.
“I thought there was only one thing,” Gunnar said, propping himself up on his elbows to see.
“This is a packet of painkiller for you, since I want you to get a good night’s sleep despite overworking your knee.”
Gunnar laughed and lay back. “I guess I really am an old man,” he chuckled. “Here you go, Gramps! Have some painkillers for your birthday!”
Arcade returned, hands behind his back. “If you don’t take better care of that knee, there’s not many options for you when it goes,” he said.
Gunnar sobered up, surprised.
“Sorry for the warning, but I’m serious.” Arcade’s hands were still behind his back. “There aren’t any wheelchairs, no surgery like in the old world. If you damage that knee too much… I’d rather it not get to that point,” he finished.
“…Okay. Point taken,” Gunnar said. “I swear to let myself rest and let it heal. After tomorrow,” he added. “You said I have to go to Freeside tomorrow.”
“Correct, if it’s in good shape and not hurting. It’ll be a short visit, and if I could have you carried there in any way that didn’t seem weird, I’d do it. Now then. Your birthday present.”
Arcade handed over a small metal box. Gunnar examined it from all sides before opening it. Inside were two holotapes, nestled in old cloth. He looked to Arcade.
“You’ve been hunting for old movies,” Arcade said, “and I found two. I hope you’ll like them. I checked, they both play, at least the first few minutes, so they’re still new to me. We can watch them together.”
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