I spend the darkness upwind of a Deathclaw, helping us get to know each other. It has been a quiet night, but then the Scorchbeast flock notices me. One by one they come. A stray bullet catches the ‘Claw in the shoulder and he takes exception. He rakes my chest with his claws before I am forced to put him down. Such a waste. The onslaught is eventually over. Out of stimpaks and ammo, I drag myself to the Wayward as the sun begins to rise. I am exhausted, bloody, parched and a bit spooked. I take a deep breath, wincing as my ribs creak. I push open the door, walk to the bar and haul myself onto a stool.

“Hey there honey, the usual?” Duchess smiles, recognizing me under the crust of filth and blood, some of it my own. She puts her hand to a bottle of whiskey.
“Actually, no… What I really want right now is a cup of tea. Milk, four sugars please.”
“Comin’ right up, sweetie.” She hands me a damp towel to clean my face and hands.

I wipe, clearing the worst of the grime. I sit and wait, hearing my heart beating loudly behind cracked ribs. My head swirls. I rest it for a moment on my arms, propped up on the bar. The room is almost empty, one last rowdy group remaining. Duchess returns with my drink. I wrap my hands around the teacup and let its warmth enter my palms.

“Thank you, I needed this”
“No problem, sweetie. Rough night?” Duchess seems anxious. A shadow passes over her features as her eyes glance over the rabble seated in the corner. I hear them loudly swearing. A fight is brewing.
“I’ve had worse, I guess. It was up there though.” I raise the cup to my mouth, blowing to cool down the brew. I don’t want to burn my split lip.

The other patrons are standing now. One lunges over their table. Another lurches backwards towards me, arms flailing. He barrels into me. My hand drops. The teacup shatters on the bar, the hot liquid burning my lap. I see red as blood from my palm oozes over the handle of the cup, the only part left intact. I turn and grab him by his greasy hair, yank his head back and jam the jagged shard into his eye socket. He falls limply to the ground.

“Motherfucker, you spilled my drink” I turn back to the bar.

Duchess shakes her head, “A teacup! You killed him with a teacup, well I never.” She sighs. “Fuck, now who’s gonna cover his tab?”