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A Codsworth Christmas

By Sandra Knight

Other

A Codsworth Christmas

"Uranium fever, has done and got me down,

Uranium fever, it's spreadin' all around,

With a geiger counter in my hands, I'm goin' out to stake me some gov'ment land,

Uranium fever, has done and got me down..."

Out of all the songs she'd heard since climbing out of the bunker, Uranium Fever was probably her favorite. Despite its bleak meaning, it was an unusually cheerful song, fitting for the wasteland that was Boston. It wasn't the Boston she knew; this was the new Boston, part of a new world that had been brought to fruition by the bombs that had fallen on that fateful day two hundred and ten years ago, the last time she saw her husband, the last time she saw Shaun.

Sam, the sole survivor of vault 111, would never forget the day she awoke from her cryogenic stasis. She alone was the only living resident from vault 111 after her infant son was kidnapped. It had been a long journey since she emerged from the stasis, and she remembered vividly how she felt when she fell from the cryogenic pod, her bones and joints stiff, her throat so dry she could barely breathe. After opening her husband's pod, the one across from hers, Sam discovered that it was too late to save her husband, who had been killed by her son's kidnappers. His body laid slumped over, frozen stiff with his skin coated in a thin layer of ice. Even after discovering the monstrous super mutants, the horrific deathclaws, the disgusting bloodbugs, and the terrible feral ghouls of the wasteland, seeing her dearest husband's body sitting lifelessly in that pod was still the most traumatic sight she'd ever had the misfortune of laying her eyes upon.

It was difficult, even now, to think of his face without her stomach giving a lurch. To be dressed in a Minutemen general's outfit with a shotgun strapped onto her back and with a satchel bag filled with drugs and medical supplies was commonplace for her anymore. It took months for her to grow accustomed to pulling the trigger. Sam was a house wife before the war. In this new life, she'd become an entirely different person, a hardened, witty leader who was helping Preston and his Minutemen rebuild their independent organisation. And even amidst all this shocking change, the memory of her husband's face haunted her more than any of her new frightening experiences. And not only that, but her son was gone forever. Her old life was far beyond her reach. There was nowhere to look but ahead, because the past was far too painful for her to endure any longer.

Still, with Christmas right around the corner, it was impossible not to think of her husband, his beautifully carven cheeks, his dark stringy hair, and his shining brown eyes, which matched their son's eyes perfectly. The three of them had only spent one Christmas together before the war ended the world as they knew it. They'd planned to have many Christmases together, but that didn't happen.

Actually, it hadn't been just the three of them on their one and only family Christmas.

Shaun's first ever Christmas present came in a huge cardboard box. For their son's first Christmas, Shaun's father had surprised Sam by buying a brand new Mr. Handy to help take care of the baby. This Mr. Handy would be with their family for a little less than a year. When she heard the robot's British accent, Sam jokingly called him "Codsworth" in a very falsely formal manner, but somehow, the name stuck, and the robot was known as Codsworth from that day on.

The day the bombs fell, Sam and her family rushed to the vault so quickly nobody even looked twice at Codsworth. The robot stayed in Sanctuary Hills for over two hundred years, trying to take care of the broken house and the rusted car all by his lonesome. He became incredibly depressed after spending so much time without a family to serve. For a robot, Codsworth certainly had a lot of human feelings. It was one of Sam's favorite things about him.

After having traveled all over Boston and the Commonwealth with Codsworth by her side, Sam had gotten incredibly attached to the robot. But now that she'd discovered the institute and finally learned of her son's fate, suddenly, Sam didn't feel up to traveling anymore. The fire that burned in the core of her soul had started to diminish. Her son was gone from her forever. There was no point in scheming to chase Shaun's trail anymore.

"Mrs. Sam?" Codsworth's voice interrupted her thoughts.

Sam and the other members of the Minutemen had put a lot of effort into fortifying Sanctuary Hills. Her own home was a rickety wooden cabin in the middle of the old neighborhood, but the inside of the home was decorated beautifully, and Sam sat on the top of the garage where she'd placed a table, a few chairs, and a radio so that she could watch the scenery and listen to music in solitude. There was a staircase leading up to the roof of the garage, and right now, Codsworth was hovering over top of the steps and waiting patiently for his mistress to answer.

The sun began to rise in the distance, making the sky glow a swirl of blues, yellows, and reds. Sam sat with her back to Codsworth, her hand extended over the arm of her lawn chair, her fingers giving a gentle flick to the cigarette in her hands. The ashes sprinkled into the ashtray on the table by her side. Sam leaned back and rolled her neck, making the back of the seat brush against her short red hair.

"Hey Codsy." Sam said, taking another puff from her cigarette. "What's up?"

"I was just wondering, Madam... wondering if you were cold. It's gotten a bit brisk out here the last few weeks. I suppose it's that time of year again, eh?" Codsworth replied. "I can hear that infernal creaking in my body, Mu'm. I can't tell you how many winters I've withered through in this neighborhood. My, it certainly does get freezing."

"I'm alright." Sam told him without turning around. Her fingers continued to slide her wedding ring on and off of her hand.

"Yes, yes, I knew you'd say that. You always do." Codsworth said, floating up to her and draping a thick wool blanket over her shoulders with two of his tentacle-like appendages. "The hubby wouldn't want you going cold or hungry, Mu'm. Best to keep that in mind."

Sam went silent. Codsworth often spoke of her family as if they were still around. Anyone else might have thought it tactless, but Sam didn't mind. The way she saw it, they were just as much Codsworth's family as they were hers. He had every right to talk about them the way he did. Besides, wallowing in the heartache of past events every time she'd hear the name of her husband or her son wasn't something she was willing to do.

The wool blanket that Codsworth had placed on her was extremely old. It'd been sitting in the closet of their old home since before the war, and it was a deep greenish color. It belonged to her husband.

"You know, Mu'm... Mayor Hancock has been getting restless the last couple of days. He doesn't understand why you've become so stationary, and he fears you've been rather distant with him lately. Mr. Valentine asked me if you'd perhaps fallen ill. You've been rather scarce, and your friends worry, Mu'm." Codsworth said. "And... I worry, too."

Sam turned her head and gazed up into Codsworth's three swiveling eyes, a smirk forming on her face.

"You're a sweetheart, Codsy." She said. "I'm fine. I promise."

Sam tried to believe the words as they came out of her mouth, but she spoke in the same deadpan tone she'd been using with everyone all week, and Codsworth noticed. Her words were flat, emotionless, not at all like the way she sounded when she first left the vault. Her passion seemed to have drained out of her completely, leaving only a shadow of the person she was.

"Mu'm, Miss Murphy has been decorating with your hubby's old Christmas lights ever since you got the generators up and running." Codsworth told her. "I believe the others plan to celebrate Christmas, or at least to decorate for it. Now that old Sanctuary Hills is coming together, I think we can afford to take a little time off from all the hard work. Perhaps we can put together a celebration of the Minutemen's return, like say, a Christmas feast... or even an exchanging of gifts, just like the old days."

Sam pondered on this, but she didn't say anything.

"And I thought..." Codsworth went on. "I thought it would be a nice way to get your spirits back up, Mu'm. I remembered you telling me that Christmas was your favorite holiday. I thought perhaps, maybe celebrating it with your new family would help you to see that things are better than they seem."

Sam blinked.

"I told you that?" She said. "I told you Christmas was my favorite holiday?"

"Why, yes. The very first day you and the hubby opened my box. I remember it as clear as day, Mu'm." Codsworth answered confidently. "Once my personality module had been installed, you and I had quite the afternoon. Such conversations we had... and I believe you told me that, in your youth, Halloween had been your favorite holiday. But ever since you settled down and gave birth to young Shaun, that was when Christmas became your favorite. You adored Christmas because it was a family holiday, and you told me how overjoyed you were about having a new family. I daresay, I empathized."

Sam was smiling. It was amazing that Codsworth was able to remember their first conversation after how much time had passed. Unlike Sam, Codsworth wasn't suspended in time for the past two hundred and ten years, and somehow, he still remembered their first meeting as though it was yesterday.

"So... Nick and Hancock." Sam said. "Do they want to have Christmas too?"

"Well, the Minutemen are all decorating, and I'm sure your friends would be willing to do whatever it takes to see you act like yourself again." Codsworth replied. "As would I, Mu'm."

"Okay. We can celebrate Christmas." Sam agreed. "Just... let me relax for a bit, okay?"

"Of course." Codsworth said. "I'll go and tell them right now, and... Mu'm... try and stay warm."

At that, Codsworth drifted down the stairs and out of sight, leaving Sam by herself on the garage occupied only by the sound of Atom Bomb Baby echoing from the radio's speakers. Codsworth had had been her beacon of happiness since she awoke in the new world. He was her only friend before she met the Minutemen, Piper, Nick Valentine, Mayor Hancock, or any of the other friends she'd found in the wasteland. Hearing his voice was uplifting to her, but right now, for some reason or another, it wasn't working to mend her mood like it usually did. The sadness simply refused to leave her.

"What's up, Cods?"

Piper stood outside of one of the homes of Sanctuary. She'd just walked underneath the hanging Minutemen flag that was draped over the opening where the front door was supposed to be. It was one of the homes that Sam had fashioned into a barracks for everyone.

"Miss Piper," Codsworth started. "I was just wondering if you kept that closet untouched like I asked."

"Well, yeah. It's full of all those decorations you wanted to keep, right?" Piper responded. "Yeah, they're all still there."

"Brilliant, brilliant. Now... if I could trouble you a bit further... would you mind assisting Miss Murphy in hanging them up along the houses?" Codsworth said. "She's quite old, and it's dangerous for her to be climbing ladders and hanging lights out here by herself. Especially in the snow."

Piper glanced down at her feet. Her boots were covered in two inches of snow. It'd been snowing all week, and it made Sanctuary Hills look incredibly beautiful. The wasteland had transformed into a winter wonderland, and the Christmas decor would only amplify that. Sam would definitely enjoy it once it was all finished. Codsworth was sure of it.

"Well sure, of course." Piper agreed. "I mean, I don't know if all the lights still work, but I'll try my best. All those decorations are over two hundred years old."

"Be sure to save some for the tree." Codsworth said. "We won't have enough trees for all the homes, but we have a nice spot in the middle of Sanctuary for a tree. I'll have to go and find one. Oh, and feel free to power up the beacon and invite some of the settlers from our neighboring settlements over for the big occasion. Tomorrow is Christmas, after all. We should make the holiday special for as many people as we can."

"Why the sudden enthusiasm, Cods?" Piper asked.

"My Mistress has been feeling down, Miss Piper. I think it'd be nice to try and liven her spirits." Codsworth replied. "It would be a nice change of pace, what with all the death and destruction that she's been exposed to since waking up from that vault. I told her the day she returned that she was suffering from culture shock... and she still is, I'm afraid. She needs a nice distraction, something happy, something that isn't... well... horrible and depressing."

"Don't we all." Piper laughed. "Alright Cods, I'm on board. Let's make a wasteland Christmas."

"Christmas?" Hancock's raspy voice entered the scene. "Seriously? That's why we've been stuck here for a week? We're celebrating Christmas?"

"Indeed we are." Codsworth informed. "Mayor Hancock, would you feel up to getting out of the confines of domestic life for a little while?"

"Hell yes, I would." Hancock answered with no hesitation.

"Then might I trouble you to go hunting for us? We need something that will feed a lot of people, like say, a brahmin? Or perhaps even a yao guai? Though I don't want you getting yourself killed just to get us a Christmas dinner." Codsworth explained.

"Pfff. I ain't the type of person you gotta worry about, Codsworth. I can take a yao guai no problem. Done it before. Still got the scars." Hancock said proudly. "I'll find us a big meaty Christmas dinner somehow or another. Sam ain't gonna stay in a funk if she's got a helping of yao guai ribs in front of her. I know her well enough to know that for damn sure."

Nick Valentine and Preston Garvey were walking side by side as they approached the others, both of them wondering what the commotion was about.

"Haven't seen Mama Murphy so motivated to do anything without her getting her usual fix." Preston said, glimpsing off to one of the houses where mama Murphy could be seen stringing up lights along one of the windows. "Didn't think her to be the type of person who'd get into the Christmas spirit."

"I didn't think anyone outside of Diamond City celebrated Christmas." Nick commented. "Most places aren't civilized and stable enough to keep a holiday celebration put together."

"Hey, Nick. I just got assigned the task of hunting Christmas dinner." Hancock said with a pleased sneer. "Wanna come with me and kill something?"

"Eh, might as well make myself useful." Nick shrugged. "Sure thing."

Nick and Hancock marched off together, while Preston headed for the center of Sanctuary in order to check up on the other inhabitants, and Piper reentered the house to retrieve the lights and begin decorating. Codsworth ran a full scan on the environment, searching for a fitting pine tree to be placed in the dirt patch in the middle of Sanctuary Hills. He'd have to pick a big tree, one that could hold a lot of lights and illuminate the night of Christmas eve. But there were no large pine trees in the immediate vicinity of Sanctuary.

Codsworth and Sam once traveled up the railroad in order to get rid of a ghoul problem, and Codsworth remembered seeing the numerous humongous pine trees in that area. So, Codsworth exited the main gates of Sanctuary, glided over the bridge, and began northwards up the river by himself. The tips of his arms left a shallow trail in the snow, as did the fire that burned underneath him. The surface of the river had a thin layer of ice over it, and as the sun rose and the day became brighter, a flurry of snowflakes descended from above.

Codsworth used his unarmed appendage to adjust his bowler hat as he floated over a large rock. He then traveled over the river and headed for the railroad. The massive pine trees all came into view. All three of his eyes observed every inch of the land ahead. He couldn't choose which tree was the best. They all looked wonderful.

It would take some time to chop down a tree with only his buzz saw, but it would be worth it. Sam had been acting like a sad vagabond who'd lost her family forever, but the reality of it was less bleak than she thought; Sam had a whole new family in Sanctuary Hills now, and Codsworth intended to make her understand that. Never before had he gathered all of Sam's companions and given them orders. He was a servant robot. It was very unusual for him to assume leadership of any situation. But this was important, too important to ignore. Seeing Sam so very depressed put an uncomfortable static in his circuitry. He couldn't sit by and watch any longer. His mistress needed to feel better.

"Oh, come now." Codsworth muttered to himself, examining his buzz saw as he tried to make it spin. "Don't start freezing up on me now, you infernal thing."

Once the saw reached an acceptable speed, Codsworth approached the nearest tree and began swatting at the bark of the stump. He swung the saw left, then right, left, right, left, right...

He wasn't sure how long he hacked at the bottom of the pine tree.

Over the last few decades, his time receptors would occasionally stop working at full capacity. Time would escape from him, much like it was now. He continued hacking, slashing, and whacking at the tree. Before he knew it, it was one o'clock in the afternoon. He'd cut about halfway into the tree when he finally decided to take a break and study his saw for any damage.

"Old thing." Codsworth narrowed his center eye at the blades of his saw. "I'll need to get a new one one day. This one's turning into rubbish. Ah well. No need to complain about it right now. There's work to be done..."

Just as he raised his saw to resume slashing, a noise occurred in the distance.

Codsworth's sensors distracted him from the tree at once. His eyes swirled around and faced the railroad leading north.

From behind one of the prewar trucks, a human body darted into view. It was a skinny, shrunken body, the body of a feral ghoul.

Two more ghouls sprinted out behind the first one. All of them spotted Codsworth and released hisses of anger before charging at him.

"Oh?" Codsworth cackled. "Oh-ho-ho, so it's a fight you want - come on then! I've got a buzz saw with your name on it!"

At that, Codsworth hovered towards the ghouls and slashed at the first one to swing at him. The buzz saw sliced into the nearest ghoul's torso, up, down, slantways, and finally, Codsworth managed to sever one of its arms and both of its legs. Once the first ghoul was down, he turned to the other two.

"Come on, at least give me a challenge!" Codsworth laughed. Despite his usually composed disposition, he quite enjoyed fighting. It was much more exciting than what he was used to. "There you are - ho ahh!"

He chopped the second ghoul's head clean off its body.

Just when he turned to the third and final ghoul, he noticed that it was glowing a brilliant green color.

The glowing ghoul swatted him hard, sending him backwards a few feet.

"Tis but a scratch!" Codsworth hollered as he advanced on the ghoul, raising both his buzz saw and his miniature flamethrower.

Seconds before Codsworth was about to attack again, the glowing ghoul extended its arms and let out an earsplitting screech.

From its body, a thunderclap of radiation exploded; the force of it hit Codsworth head on with the power of a small atomic bomb. Codsworth's wires convulsed. It felt as though he'd been hit by an EMP; his body refused to cooperate with him anymore. His three arms went limp, and he hit the ground at the ghoul's feet.

The glowing ghoul whacked him again, then again. It would take a few minutes for Codsworth's systems to reboot themselves. He couldn't fight back now.

"Hey!"

Someone's voice echoed throughout the area.

One of Codsworth's eyes followed the direction of the noise. That voice was unmistakable...

"Get AWAY FROM HIM!"

Sam flew down the hill with the velocity of a missile, her modified combat shotgun held high and her face scrunched up in anger.

The ghoul continued smacking and scratching at Codsworth's metal exterior. Codsworth wanted to continue fighting, but his recharge was taking too long.

Sam pummeled into the ghoul, shoving the bayonet on her gun deep into the its stomach. The blade pierced the ghoul in the middle of its rib cage, and Sam was able to feel it puncturing the irradiated organs inside its body. She promptly ignored the geiger counter on her Pip-Boy, which was clicking madly as the ghoul's rads infected the air around them.

"Mu'm!" Codsworth called out. "Mind the geiger counter!"

Sam didn't hear him; her finger hammered the trigger, and she sent a barrage of 12 gauge rounds into the ghoul's torso at a dangerously close range. The body erupted into bones, skin, and green goo.

There was a small silence following the glowing one's death.

Sam stood over the body, her Minutemen general's outfit spotted with blotches of the greenish goop that had exploded from the ghoul's mutilated remains. The ghoul lie in pieces on the ground in front of her, and she wiped her face with the back of her arm, panting and taking a step away from the radioactive carcass.

"Mu'm? Are you alright?" Codsworth said, opening and closing his metal hand as he slowly regained mobility. "What brought you out here? It's dangerous-"

"What brought you out here?" Sam demanded. "Are you out of your damn mind?!"

"I..." Codsworth stared up at her, feeling befuddled. She looked even more upset than she had earlier in the day, and he didn't understand why. "I was looking for a suitable Christmas tree, Mu'm. I found one, and I was almost done chopping it down, but then I was visited by some ghouls."

"You wandered out here alone just for a Christmas tree?" Sam said in astonishment. "Are you crazy? You know how dangerous it is outside of Sanctuary."

"Of course I do, Mu'm."

"Then why? Why would you come out here alone?!"

"I wanted to make your holiday better, Mrs. Sam. I only wanted to do whatever I could to make you feel better."

"You think throwing yourself in danger would make me feel better?!"

"I don't understand..."

"Codsworth." Sam hit her knees and tossed her shotgun aside, then placed her hands on Codsworth's round shell, gazing into his three big eyes. "You know how you worry about me whenever I'm in danger? I worry about you too. You're my family. How can you not understand that? You're the only family I have left."

"Really?" Codsworth replied, sounding deeply touched. "Mu'm... you must know, I hold you in the highest regard. But I never imagined you felt the same way."

"Are you kidding me?" Sam exhaled a laugh. "Codsy, if I could go back to 2077, I never would have gone into that vault without you. I regret leaving you behind every time I think about it. I regret letting him die..." Her thoughts drifted to her husband, then to Shaun. "I regret letting Shaun get kidnapped... God... I regret everything. I couldn't live with myself if something happened to you too."

Codsworth's eyes extended from his circular body. He sprung upright, his body now fully recharged, and he grasped Sam's hand with his two-pronged appendage.

"It'd take a lot more than some feral ghouls to make me see my end, Mu'm." He responded. "Two hundred and ten years, and I'm still as spry as the day I was built. And you know something, Mu'm... it was you who kept me going. You, and Sir, and young Shaun... just the thought that I'd get to see you again one day. And then, you came back... oh, I can't explain how happy I was when I saw you walk into town. I even ran a full diagnostic scan to make sure I wasn't malfunctioning."

"I know. And I never want you to think I don't care about you as much as you care about me." Sam stroked his middle eye. "I love you, Codsy. Don't run off anymore, okay? You scared the hell out of me."

"Of course not, Mu'm. There's nowhere I'd rather be than at your side." Codsworth replied. "You're everything to me... so selfless, and strong, and loyal... and if anyone's going to save the Commonwealth, it's you. Why, you're practically a hero."

"A hero? Come on. I'm far from a hero." Sam said.

"Oh, come now. Don't underestimate yourself. You're the very model of humanity that this shambled wasteland needs to move forward." Codsworth told her. "Now, not another word, Madame. I won't hear of you doubting yourself anymore. Oh, look at that..."

Codsworth pointed over her shoulder.

Sam turned around, catching sight of a few human shaped shadows approaching from the top of the hill where she'd come from.

"I'm honored to be considered your family." Codsworth said in a soft, solemn voice. "But I'm certainly not your only family, Mu'm. Not anymore."

"Didja find him?" Hancock yelled at Sam. "What's our bucket o' bolts doing way out here? You guys alright?"

"Looks to me like he was looking for a Christmas tree." Valentine said, looking around and noticing the pine trees. "Nice selection."

"Whoa, look at that." Piper gestured to the tree that Codsworth had cut into. "Dang! Did Cods do that all by himself? Wow!"

"General, you need some help lugging that thing back into town?" Preston asked Sam, waving towards the tree. "That's a pretty big tree. You're gonna need some help dragging it up the hill. Nice find, Codsworth."

"Not at all, sir." Codsworth saluted Preston.

If Mr. Handy bots were to have a mouth built onto them, Sam imagined that Codsworth would have been smiling now.

"Holy crap! Did you kill all these things, Cods?" Piper glimpsed between the ghoul bodies lying in the snow. "Geez, you're a wrecking ball when you're left to your own devices."

"How did you plan to get that big ass tree back to Sanctuary by yourself?" Hancock thumped his knuckles against Codsworth's head a few times. "You think a lil' robot like you can transport a giant tree? What are you, high? Actually, y'know what... it'd be easier to move this damn thing if we have a little buffout first. Sam, you wanna...?"

"Mayor, are you offering my Mistress chems again?" Codsworth said.

"You gonna stop me, Cods?" Hancock grabbed Codsworth's eye and yanked it around playfully.

"I'm sure Strong can move the thing without any help." Valentine suggested.

"Good. Less shit for me to do. You and I still have to lug a dead bighorner over the bridge. We only have one night to skin and cook the goddamn thing." Hancock responded. "Come on, you busted up old circuit board. Let's get it over with."

"Give Valentine a break." Piper broke in. "I'll help you carry it. You're gonna work him until he snaps in half. He's an antique."

Hancock laughed.

"Very funny." Valentine uttered.

Preston said something, and the group continued to converse. Sam barely heard what they were saying anymore.

Codsworth allowed one of his eyes to spin around completely, and he saw something that warmed his wires.

Sam was grinning at them all.

It wasn't a forced grin; for the first time in two hundred and ten years, she was flashing a true, genuine smile.

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