An Irish girl, of course, because apparently even after the bombs fell they kept migrating to Boston. Makes little to no sense, but hey, Fallout 4 doesn’t really go for coherence. She was a pale, freckled redhead with green eyes (just like my two first girlfriends, embarrassingly enough), and I instantly liked her because she swore nonstop and spent all her time kicking the shit out of raiders for money. Way better than Piper who basically used me to get into Diamond City and then exploited my story to sell copies of her newspaper and further her anti-synth political stance… and definitely better than Preston Garvey, who’s a bona fide goody-two-shoes. I guess Nick Valentine could have been a candidate, but the whole ‘I’m a robot and you can see inside my face’ thing was a little risqué for my taste. Still… his machine-like purr. But no, I decided Cait would be my special ‘follower’ (that word alone installs an awkward relationship dynamic). Bethesda, I was told, had designed the game to allow for romance and even fornication. Groovy. Nothing as torrid as The Witcher 3’s full-on soft porn fiestas mind you, but that’s not what this article is about.
This article is about trying to get Cait sober.
Cait. She had a great shotgun, and she kept asking me what I wanted in exchange for my kindness. Yeah she was a bit of mess, looking back, and that’s probably why I felt a strange attraction to her in the first place. An addict. A chem junky. Lost her ability to trust, ya dig. Etc, etc. We strolled around the wasteland together, blowing the heads off super mutants, shooting raiders to bits, and chopping ghouls into ground, irradiated meat. Sometimes we would take a break from the old ultra-violence to have an intimate chat, and Cait eventually revealed her back story: abused, sold into slavery, raped, MURDERED HER OWN PARENTS, the whole nine yards. Awful. Like most adults after they share a moment of vulnerability, we continued to unload ammo into people, places and things, presumably as a coping mechanism, cause like, being intimate is hard work for addicts and stuff.
Oh yeah, by the way, I’m an addict too. IRL. Been sober for a while, over five years now. So when Cait finally admitted that she was a junky, unable to make it through a day without shooting Jet, I felt quite a bit of sympathy for her. Then shit got weird. She told me about this vault where you could ‘cure’ addiction, and asked me if I would help her find it. I ended up saying yes, mostly because the game wouldn’t allow me to take a more condescending stance: “About that, Cait… turns out addiction doesn’t really work that way, cause um, you’re never cured, see, and you just sort of live with it as best you can, not using drugs or alcohol one day at a time.”
So we traveled to the vault. I nuked the entrance to get rid of the stupid guards and their over-powered laser robot. Then we went inside and slaughtered everybody. Blood spattered on the walls, we made our way to the room that would cure Cait of her addiction. On the way there we passed through a long-dead circle of skeletons holding a 12-step meeting (they died sitting there, I guess, which again makes no fucking sense because they were in a fucking vault protected from the bombs, so how could they possibly die simultaneously sitting there in their dumb suits having their dumb meeting? HUH?). Turns out VAULT-TEC was using the facilities as a giant, horrible experiment designed to find out what happens when a group of normal people is given access to shit-tons of chems after the world ends. Answer: they do them all, duh.
We strap Cait into the chair, and she expresses all the usual addict / alcoholic worries that go with the process: “Who am I without the drugs? Will there be anything left of me when I’m sober? Will I be awful and boring?” Etc. I told her to shut up and tightened the straps. The whole thing was getting a little weird and kinky, and I wasn’t against it. Then the machine started shooting her up with “the cure” and the drugs began “leaving her system” which apparently makes you moan like you’re taking a crap while having an orgasm.
Voila. Cait was cured. So easy. Much easier (and certainly faster) than what I went through to get sober. As we left the vault, I felt vaguely uneasy about the whole thing. Was the quest designed by someone familiar with addiction and sobriety? Would the invention of this ‘cure’ actually happen in the near future IRL, making all of my efforts to become more spiritually wholesome for naught? Oh who gives a shit, it’s just a game, Julian. And isn’t all the work you did on yourself reward enough? Would you really want to ‘cure’ your physical addiction but remain the same fucked up dude you used to be? “This game has awoken something in me”, I told myself in the mirror that night as I licked my teeth and squinted menacingly at no one in particular.
Regardless, Cait and I carried on with our murderous rampage through the wasteland, blasting dicks left and right with our giant guns. Eventually she admitted her feelings for me (in a very ‘Cait’ way) and I told her I loved her too. We started sleeping together. Shit was cool. I was getting bonus experience from having a girlfriend, and I had armed her with a flamethrower, so she was burning through dipshits at the speed of light.
But a few days later, this weird thing happened. We were in Goodneighbor near a bar, and without so much as a warning, Cait asks the barman for a glass of whiskey. Holy fuck Cait, you’re off the Jet but you kept boozing? What in the fuck? That is NOT how the 12 steps work. (Again, no dialogue options for this, so it remained in my head, IRL). But Cait didn’t seem to give a fuck about my Authentic Knowledge™. She drank her glass of whiskey. Didn’t seem drunk. No signs of drifting back into Jet addiction. Kept following me around and being a great girlfriend (PS: sleeping on a ratty mattress to give me an experience boost and murdering my enemies makes you a ‘great girlfriend’ in Fallout 4.)
But something was broken. Cait was a lie. It was all a lie. A game. My disbelief had been un-suspended. And that’s why I stopped playing Fallout 4. (Full disclosure: that’s not why I stopped playing Fallout 4. I stopped playing Fallout 4 because the main plot is boring, the game isn’t very well balanced, and the role-playing is nonexistent).
Despite this, and as a last hurrah to our doomed relationship, I set out to build Cait a house in Sanctuary with two big armchairs on the roof. On these we sat and watched the stars together (modded for extra starriness).
It was the perfect ending to the perfect lie. That night I slept on the couch. By morning I had moved out.