Despite it all, she was freezing cold.
Not a single breeze blew into the tent. Somewhere above her a dozen jets screamed overhead, returning from an evening patrol. The sound brought to mind vivid images, all thinly connected by memories and sensations. Like standing on the tarmac in weather reaching 47°C. The jet engines and the hot rush of air, somehow even hotter than the sun above her. A cold aluminum can, still sweating in her hand only to blister it minutes later. Just from daring to exist in the open. Her palm had been red for days.
She glanced down at her hand. It was still red. When she wiped it off on her lap it smeared. Again a flood of loosely-connected sensations, her brain splitting and existing in the past and the present at the same time.
She had lost a lot of blood, she knew, and she was dehydrated. The picc in her arm and the fact that she was being fussed over by one of her favorite people hardly registered, though.
“You shouldn’t be up already.” Dr. Ziegler tried to angle her back down so she could rest, but Hana shook her head.
“If I lie down any more I think I might get sick.”
“Fair enough.” When the doctor bent down to rummage through an ice chest at the foot of her cot, Hana got a good view of her freshly buzzed undercut. Right at the nape of her neck. A dozen minor ports where the suit would fuse to her nervous system, so small they looked like freckles.
When Dr. Ziegler straightened up, she pressed the ice pack over a swelling bump on Hana’s head and instructed her to keep it there. Hana blinked a few times, then slowly scanned the rest of the tent.
The words wouldn’t come out with the right kind of tact, the context that she needed. English was her third language and sometimes it slipped, especially after waking up in a tent with her favorite person who didn’t know she was Hana’s favorite person.
“Am I the only one who messed up?”
Dr. Ziegler’s lips twitched in a smile. “You were the only one injured by the blast.” She adjusted the ice pack on Hana’s head when it started slipping, maybe realizing Hana couldn’t do it herself for very long. “You should consider yourself lucky.”
For the moment Dr. Ziegler was limited to low tech, so Hana couldn’t help but notice a set of tools nearby. They were heavy with their own sense of anticipation, awaiting use like soldiers on the front line. “How long was I out?”
The Valkyrie suit was for emergencies and combat operations only, she knew that. She knew it took a toll on the doctors who strapped in and used their skills to full potential. But Hana still winced when Dr. Ziegler started examining large, deep cuts on her head and legs. “Half an hour, perhaps. We stemmed the bleeding fairly quick.”
“I’m cold,” Hana mumbled.
“Hypovolemic shock will do that to a person.”
This morning came back to her in patchwork, sewed together as neatly as the good doctor stitched up Hana’s other, less-serious wounds. Evidently those hadn’t necessitated immediate treatment with the Valkyrie. Black thread sprouted from her skin, the long ends like spider legs snipped off with a pair of sterilized scissors. There were so many omnics. Hana made everyone scatter for cover, and then stayed with her M.E.K.A. until she could detonate it and the short-range EMP.
“Let me know if you start feeling dizzy again. You can remain sitting for a while longer but I must insist you lie back down once I’m done here.”
Hana stayed quiet, not sure what else to say. Most of her conversations with Dr. Ziegler were short and terse like this. It wasn’t the first time she’d injured herself with the M.E.K.A., but usually it was just a second-degree burn. Nothing she wanted to bother the head doctor with. A nurse would slap synthetic biogel on and let her DNA rearrange itself to grow the skin back good as new.
She never wanted to see Dr. Ziegler as a patient. She wanted a relationship with Angela, like the others had. But in five years she’d only passed her in hallways or caught her during a cigarette break. She always left those encounters wishing she smoked so she had an excuse to stick around.
A clatter of steel on the table jolted her out of her thoughts, and she flinched as Dr. Ziegler’s hands whipped up, clapping together within an inch of her face.
“Sorry,” Dr. Ziegler said with a bright smile as Hana started shaking. She wiped her palms off on her trousers. “There was a fly.” She grabbed a set of sterile gloves and scissors before starting again. Lurid mental images rushed to overwhelm her, of flies in her wounds, maggots— she closed her eyes and grimaced at the lingering sting of antiseptic and tried to banish the thoughts.
Dr. Ziegler is nice because she has to be.
Of course Hana’s interacted with rude doctors, but they also tended to be bad at their job. At their core the best doctors were nice people and Dr. Ziegler was nice but she was also chilly and distant, and Hana trembled even harder when cold hands brushed over her lap, professional and brief to check for more injuries.
Then Dr. Ziegler hugged her tightly. After only a moment of hesitation, Hana reciprocated, holding her and relishing the touch.
Perhaps she should have been surprised, but she wasn’t. It was probably unprofessional. It was something Hana didn’t feel she had earned yet.
So of course a good doctor would know it was exactly what she needed.
“You’re going to be fine, dear,” Dr. Ziegler said, one hand stroking the back of her head. Hana sighed heavily, wondering if anyone would hold it against her if she passed out in the doctor’s arms.
To her displeasure, Dr. Ziegler stepped back a bit just to rub Hana’s arms. “You’ll have to stay here for a bit, though.”
“Until I need another refill?” Hana gestured at the picc line and it made the doctor laugh. Hana didn’t have any blood to spare, but her body wasted it anyway. It rushed to her cheeks, flush with pleasure at the sound.
She expected the doctor to pull out a blanket, but instead she shrugged her coat off and wrapped it around Hana’s shoulders. It carried residual body heat, the fabric thicker than she thought. Most importantly, it still smelled like Dr. Ziegler.
This time, she didn’t fight it when Angela gently leaned her back, urging her to rest.
Angela always regretted it when someone went to sleep on her watch and woke up with someone else as their doctor. Overwatch’s most esteemed medical personnel couldn’t exclusively watch over one patient— no matter how much she might want to. No matter how important that patient was.
She understood it. That didn’t mean she had to like it.
Still, checking in occasionally was easy enough. All she had to do was cut one of her lunch breaks early, or perhaps skip it altogether.
She breathed a sigh of relief to know there were no signs of infection in Hana’s blood, that no transfusions were needed, and that she was already complaining about being escorted to the bathroom.
“Here comes the warden,” Hana said as she strolled into view. “Quick, hide the contraband.”
Angela rolled her eyes as Hana tried to hide a bag of chips behind her back. “As long as you’re eating solid foods, I don’t care what you’re eating, Ms. Song.”
She always struggled with what to call Hana. Obviously she knew her name and rank. But going by first names felt too disrespectful, and going by rank didn’t quite mesh with their roles in Overwatch. That was Korean military. This was…
“Really? I was expecting a scolding.”
Angela took a moment to register the teasing tone of voice. Hana was a study in parasocial relationships, effortlessly replacing mask after mask to suit the situation. Angela had dealt with celebrities and actors and war heroes before, but seldom did the three meld together into one twenty-six year old woman.
The relationship between them always remained chilly at best. The celebrity status Hana wielded came with a lot of breaches in her privacy, and Angela always did her best to respect it when Hana withdrew from her.
“People don’t respond well to scolding.” Angela settled on the edge of Hana’s cot. This was the most they had spoken in a long time. Perhaps it was the blood loss, but Hana finally seemed ready to let her in. “Though I would prefer it if you ate what the camp cooks made for you.”
Privately, Angela was glad. She didn’t want to feel entitled to anyone’s attention and she had her fair share of enemies, but it always did sting when a soldier mistrusted her for no discernible reason.
“I’d prefer it if you did, too. Are you skipping meals just to see me, Dr. Ziegler?” Hana reached up to the breast pocket of her borrowed lab coat, patting a square bulge. “Let’s not get started on these things.”
Angela’s smile was tight and practiced. It took a lot to rattle her these days, or crack the veneer. Hana wasn’t the only one with a mask. “You have your vices and I have mine. Are you ready to return my lab coat now?”
Careful not to jostle the picc, Hana was actually able to fit her arms through the sleeves without trouble. She did so now, neatly buttoning herself up. When she was done she flashed Angela a charming, million-dollar smile. One practiced and ready for the camera.
Well, that had to be answer enough. Angela plucked her carton of cigarettes back from her coat and put them into her scrub pockets. “Good thing I have a spare.”
She wasn’t sure what prompted her to give it to Hana to begin with. It was just one of those instincts, the ones she never ignored. More often than not, ignoring it meant a patient dying under her hands, and she had to call it in while thinking if only I had— and she was left awake at night, awake for days at a time staring at the ceiling because of what she had done, what she hadn’t done, what technology restricted her. Then she would get up and go to work, because if she was awake she might as well be useful.
She didn’t realize she was staring at Hana, unblinking, until the other woman started shifting uncomfortably under her gaze. Bad habits. People always told her she had eyes like a microscope.
Or, well, Jesse always told her that.
Her phone started beeping, the reminder that she had other places to be. “I can’t stay for long, dear. Make sure you listen to whoever’s taking care of you now.”
“Of course I will. I’m not a kid, you know.”
Angela never liked leaving a patient. In smaller clinics she had the freedom to stay with them throughout the night, if she needed to.
Today, though, her heart felt a little lighter.
The shower felt so fucking good.
Released with a clean bill of health and a stolen lab coat, Hana returned to her routines. First order of business involved a long, long, long time under some fresh water.
In an environment like this, water was the most precious luxury of them all. It was the most closely guarded resource. It was the one thing they checked, triple checked, quadruple checked. Food was sometimes scarce, but all the brightest minds in Overwatch converged to ensure they never ran out of water.
Keeping the picc dry was a real pain. But Hana was a ‘hard stick’ apparently, and didn’t like pills. It was the quickest way to make sure she got her antibiotics and properly rehydrated. In her opinion, it couldn’t be gone soon enough. It made her feel like an escaped lab rat. But she had a role to play, as a dutiful patient who wouldn’t cause trouble. It was the best role to play right now and she’d perform to the best of her ability.
The minor irritation over the picc was nothing compared to how much she hated her body’s weakness right then. Just a few short days out of action and she was as fragile as a lamb. Walking to her barracks and taking a shower unaided wiped her out. Toweling herself dry, she shrugged into the loosest clothing she had and collapsed onto the bed.
Something itched. A mental itch, something keeping her from succumbing to sleep. Hana sighed, twisting and turning in her bed until she saw it.
The lab coat hung from the back of her desk chair. Smiling, Hana reached for it, pulling it around herself and breathing deep. At this point it didn’t smell so much like the doctor, but that was fine. It brought her comfort anyway, and she finally relaxed.
She struck the match, lighting the end of her cigarette and Jesse’s at the same time. He cupped both hands around the flame, calloused hands always surprisingly gentle and protective when the mood struck him. The match was not quite enough; he lingered until his cigarette caught on the end of hers and he could retreat with a satisfied puff.
“Thanks, darlin’,” he said. His jaw muscles visibly tensed against the instinct to chew. “Worst thing about these missions is I always run out of the good stuff halfway through.”
“I told you to pack properly.” The chastisement held no real bite. Far away from any of the sensitive equipment or flammable tanks, Angela shared a rare moment of quiet with one of her oldest friends. Old in more sense than one; Jesse’s beard held more salt than pepper these days. She knew she was on the verge of turning silver herself. Genetics and stress were a lethal combination. “A requisitions officer may be able to supply you with more cigarettes if you ask her nicely.”
“I bet she’d do it double time for you, though.” Jesse’s drawl dipped lower, suggestively.
“I’m positive that’s not true.”
“Nahhh. There’s nothing you can’t get if you ask for it in that honey sweet voice of yours.”
“Is that the same outfit as yesterday, Doctor?”
Angela paused mid-retort at the familiar voice. Glancing aside, she froze when she saw Hana standing right next to her. Quiet as a mouse. She had to be, in order to sneak up on a pair of old twitchy veterans like them. But it wasn’t just being snuck up on that had Angela mute.
“Did you even go back to your bunk? Or have you just been taking catnaps in the hallways again?” Blowing out a frustrated huff, Hana pushed her sweat-soaked hair out of her face. The picc line was gone, Angela was glad to note. All that was left was a bandage and a fast-healing wound. Hana looked healthy—
Angela closed her eyes briefly, counting to ten. Stop it. Stop looking at her as just another body to be fixed.
But she had to, or else… She had to or else she might slip.
“Just come from the gym?” Jesse asked, leaning against the wall of the outpost building and making no attempt to keep his interest in check.
Hana shrugged. “Have to keep my body weight a certain percentage to maintain ideal connection with the M.E.K.A.’s biometrics.” Then, winking, she thrust her hip out and made a pistol gesture at him. The other hand rested on her hip, framing the skintight black shorts. “And I have to keep in shape for my adoring fans, of course!”
Now Angela was the one anxiously trying not to chew on her cigarette. “Don’t overexert yourself so soon after being discharged,” she said, just a mite more snappish than she should have been.
“I’d take that a lot more seriously if you were keen on taking care of yourself at all. You’re a real hypocrite, Dr. Ziegler.”
Jesse took off his hat, fanning himself with it and hooting. “Hoo! Careful Angela, this one bites.”
Hana chomped at the air, teeth clicking together with a playful growl. “You know it, tiger.”
“This one,” Angela said, rolling her eyes. “Still has my favorite lab coat. I’m pretty sure I left a very expensive pen in the pocket, too.”
“You did,” Hana said. “But it’s mine now.”
“Will I ever get it back?”
Grinning, Hana shrugged and walked off.
During the whole conversation, Angela forgot to inhale. The cigarette turned to a pillar of ash, flames inching towards her lips. Throwing it to the ground, she twisted it under her heel. She wasn’t sure how to handle the sudden return to Hana’s usual mask, the theatrics and the brittle, flaming hot attitude.The standoffish, the cold.
At the very least it meant Hana was feeling better. Angela took consolation in that.
Bravado aside, Hana felt like a melting, oozing wreck. She hadn’t meant to seek out Dr. Ziegler but she knew McCree and her shared a smoke break out by the fences, every so often. She wanted to be there, wanted to come up with an excuse to talk to her finally. But when she opened her mouth the only thing that spat out was arrogant and rude. It bordered on the edge of trying to start a fight, but over what, Hana couldn’t tell.
But she knew she didn’t like McCree being that close to her. They had been face to face, the action of sharing fire, light, so intimate that Hana felt like she was walking in on something private.
Booting up her computer, she played Starcraft for a few hours. She always did that when she was stressed, and she was almost always stressed these days. Pushing herself in the gym made her feel better, temporarily, but it left her too wiped out to put up a good face for her fans that night.
She streamed for a bit, made a nice face for as long as she could, played the role for them to love and then passed out.
Soon, she thought, still holding the lab coat. I’ll feel better soon. I won’t be tired all the time and I won’t be snapping at everyone.
She just didn’t want to come across as needy. She’d scraped and fought so hard to be here that she couldn’t help but erect a barrier between herself and the others. The Old Guard, she thought of them. It manifested as a certain aloofness, a distance she imposed on the people she most wanted to be close to.
She closed her eyes.
They were standing this time, Angela sneaking up on her to trap both arms around Hana’s shoulders and pull her up. Hana couldn’t get a good look at her face. When she tried to squirm free she saw her lips for a moment, and swore the doctor smirked.
Angela hugged her, a shockingly tight, playful gesture.
Laughing, Hana reclined, leaning back into the hug and resting her hands over the doctor’s arms. It felt so good, and then Angela started touching her, holding her closer. She nuzzled her face against the back of Hana’s neck, maybe not knowing that was too friendly, bordering on inappropriate. The grip grew tighter and tighter, and Hana was suddenly struggling. Panicked about how much she wanted this. About how the wall had fallen and there was no mask and no amount of playing it cool would work at this point.
But even when she fell down to the floor, panting, on her hands and knees, Angela hung on. Squeezing tighter and tighter and tighter until it should have hurt, but it didn’t. The pressure around her shoulders and neck built, strangling, constricting her. Breathless, she remained trapped as Angela bit her bare shoulder, forced a hand between her clenched thighs.
The pressure was so good, so close yet not enough, not strong enough to come until she woke up in a pool of sweat, gasping, from the weirdest PG-13 sex dream she’d ever had.
Hana didn’t know when she had fallen asleep, but she knew for sure then that she was awake. And dream!Angela hadn’t even done her the favor of getting her off before poofing back to her subconscious.
Hana stared up at the ceiling, body still tense. Her pulse pounded between her legs and she was still wearing the lab coat, sort of. It tangled up with her blankets, restricted her movements— guess that explained the dream— and even though it should have faded by now it was covered in Angela’s scent.
Without thinking she rolled over and closed her eyes, touching herself. Remembering the weight of Angela on top of her again, she came so fast and so hard it knocked her breathless.
It was still dark outside. Relaxing again, she fell asleep until dawn.
When she awoke she didn’t really feel guilty. Masturbating while thinking of someone you like didn’t actually hurt anyone, and nobody had to know. She thought maybe she should feel guilty, but instead she was just loose-limbed and relaxed all day.
Later she made sure she washed her hands before returning the coat.
“Done with it?” Dr. Ziegler said with a wry smile.
“Just about,” Hana responded, and it was true. She was trying her best to ignore this crush. If keeping the thing around meant Hana would keep having sex dreams about the doctor, she didn’t want it anymore.
Dr. Ziegler folded the jacket up neatly, but then paused.
She ran her thumb over the white material, forehead bunched up in thought.
“Ms. Song, this might be odd to say…”
Hana froze, suddenly terrified.
Should she have washed the jacket? Did it smell like sex and she just didn’t notice because she was so used to her own scent? Did she wipe her hand off on it after she came? Suddenly she couldn’t remember, she’d fallen asleep so soon and she didn’t even pause to think. Think! What was she thinking?
“…But what perfume do you wear?” Dr. Ziegler lifted the coat to her face, closing her eyes and inhaling with a smile. “This is lovely. It smells just like you now.”
Hana stammered out the answer and Dr. Ziegler smiled at her, enigmatic as always and her heart skipped a beat.
Suddenly, perversely… Hana kind of wished the doctor had noticed something different about the jacket. She wished she’d had said something wicked, like she knew that Hana came thinking of her lips.
Angela had invaded her dreams, she wanted to have that same effect on the older woman. She wanted her to be bothered, uncomfortable.
“Be sure to swing by tomorrow so I can change that bandage, dear.”
“Mm,” Hana said and Dr. Ziegler misinterpreted her silence as discontent.
“Now now, we can’t have you getting those wounds infected.”
Hana sobered up long enough to be offended. “I know. I’m not some dumb kid.”
“But you are a soldier in my care, and I know how much you lot like to disobey orders.”
“Yeah, but not from a doctor…” Hana grumbled, crossing her arms. “Who does that?”
“Oh, you’d be surprised.” Somehow the doctor had perfected her exasperation, tempering it with humor and just enough exhaustion to let Hana know it wasn’t a joke. “I have some stories to share with you about the marines I was stationed with three years ago.”
Hana asked for a rain check on the stories. She went back to her room to kill fake monsters and retreat inside her head, the most comfortable place she could be.
The next day, Hana showed up right on time like a good little soldier. Angela was pleased, glad to note that Hana could keep a respectful tongue in her mouth when the mood suited her. She had almost begun to think that mellow, muddled young woman she’d treated only ever appeared when Hana was on the verge of death.
“More antibiotics is overkill, isn’t it?”
“Not at all.”
The group of omnics they were facing had been known to dabble in biochemical warfare, slowly growing more malevolent in their tactics, aware of all the ways a human body might fail…
In any case better safe than sorry.
“Just standard procedure,” Angela said, keeping Hana’s bare arm in her grip just a touch longer than necessary. She felt like she was built of solid muscle, her skin warm even through the latex glove. It was probably soft, smooth as velvet.
Flexing her hands, Angela retreated, trying to clear her head. She had access to Hana’s files, knew she was unmarried and unattached. She knew there was nearly two decades between them, even if Hana weren’t in her care as a patient.
She knew that she knew nothing about Hana Song.
“As with most private people,” Jesse opined later when she asked for his help, “Miss Song over there seems real good at letting everyone know exactly enough information to make it seem like you know her.”
“Excuse me?” Angela said flatly.
“I mean I read her blog she posts in everyday,” Jesse said. “She talks a lot without sayin’ much at all.” Then he hoisted up his pants, adjusting the solid gold buckle. “Also, she likes the color blue, she gets along great with her father, she doesn’t like sweets but she had a berry crumble once in New York four years ago and hasn’t stopped thinking about it since.”
“Any other key pieces of information you can divulge, Mr. McCree? From your dedicated blog trawling.”
“Yep.” He tipped his hat to her, stomping out his cigarette. “She’s lonely. Wants a friend.”
Patting her shoulder, Jesse left in a slow, easy gait.
Hana Song didn’t want to be jealous of a man with a giant gold BAMF belt buckle. But she wanted that easy camaraderie with— with—
Angela, just say her name, you already jerked off imagining her fingers on your clit, just do it.
Angela was noticeably nicer to her these days, but Hana wanted more. She always wanted what other people had. Except, to her knowledge, nobody had Angela.
She was unclaimed.
Hana fired until her clip was empty, reloading as fast as she could and emptying it again.
She wanted to claim her.
“Very neat,” Angela said, and Hana nearly crawled out of her own skin with fear. Taking the stall next to hers, Angela smiled and said no more for the next hour. They trained in silence, and while Hana was sure Angela didn’t notice a thing, she couldn’t help but sweat and feel tense and self-conscious.
“Already much better with your sidearm than I was at your age.” Angela had the resigned, tired air of most of the Old Guard, who practiced only because they needed to log in a certain amount of hours to maintain rights to their sidearm. “But you have a long way to go yet.”
There it was. Hana paused, still squeezing the trigger after the last round had fired. The vein in her forehead jumped, her heart already beating fast with adrenaline and nerves. All that energy and nowhere to go, she didn’t know how to divert it anywhere but a fight. She had trained too long for that role to let anything else happen.
“Again with that shit,” Hana said, and her grouping remained the same but her accuracy suffered. “I’m an adult. You know that, right? I get enough of that patronizing bullshit from Morrison, I don’t need it from you.”
She wanted to pack up her things and leave, but didn’t. She was here first, damn it, and if Angela was going to come in here and throw her off her game and keep unsubtly reminding her of what they were both afraid of, then, then…
Silence. Well, except for the gunfire. A creeping, growing dread rose up in Hana’s chest, shame staining her cheeks as Angela focused on her target.
She had been too harsh. Way too harsh.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. Keep your mouth in check!
After all this time trying so hard to bridge the distance, after slowly lowering down the wall, she’d thrown it right back up. Forget anything else Hana might have dreamed of in dark, lonely nights. She’d shot herself in the foot so bad she’d be lucky if Angela even spoke to her again.
Except then Angela spoke. “Sorry.”
Hana swallowed a knot in her throat. “You can apologize by buying me dinner. You’re a doctor aren’t you? Put that paycheck to work.”
When she turned to face Angela, the older woman had set her gun down. Finally expressing something other than benign amusement, Angela’s mouth was set in a thin, unreadable line. Both eyebrows quirked all the way up.
“Well?” Hana said.
“…I have no idea how to respond to that.”
“Don’t you have dinner with Genji all the time? And McCree? And all the—” Old Guard “—Others?”
“Mr. Shimada is a cheap date. He doesn’t eat much.” Angela’s lips finally reformed into a smile, but it was still thin, lopsided. “And Jesse doesn’t throw my paycheck in my face.”
“Listen.” Hana set down her side arm. “This doesn’t have to be a big deal. I could make a game out of this, if you like. Just to lighten the mood a bit. I like games.”
“I can see that,” Angela said.
“We set the target dummies to keep track of points. We use the same guns and the same amount of bullets. Whoever has the most points…” She trailed off, realizing she didn’t have a prize in mind. She didn’t want to imply that losing meant she’d leave Angela alone. She didn’t want her advances to feel like something Angela had to fight against. Most importantly, she didn’t want Angela to change her mind. “…Gets to pick where the date is.”
Angela was still speaking so carefully, damn her. She chose every word like a jeweler, examining it for brightness, clarity. “Dinner doesn’t have to be a date.”
“Yeah, but that’s what I want. In three months when we get out of this hellhole and return to civilization I want you to take me somewhere fancy and expensive.” She thumbed the safety on her weapon, pressing the button at her bench that called for a ceasefire. Going to the lockers, she set aside her own gun and picked two standard pistols. “If you don’t want that, then you should leave now. We can still be friends.”
She returned to Angela and set the pistol down within her reach.
“I’d really like to be your friend.”
Angela’s hand twitched, hovering over the gun. Then she rested it on top of Hana’s, her palm warm.
“Then why are you doing this?” Angela asked, and it might have been Hana’s imagination but she sounded a little breathless.
All her possible responses branched out in front of her. She could still back away and say this was a joke, that she didn’t nurse a fierce attraction to Angela. Impishly, she could suggest she was testing Angela, to see how she’d respond to a young, fit celebrity throwing herself at her. There were a million reasons. A bored horny soldier, Florence Nightingale effect, a foreigner who knew nothing she did here would harm her reputation back home, or she was bicurious, or a gold digger, or anything.
Instead she gripped Angela’s wrist tightly, moving Angela’s hand off her own and placing it on the gun. Her boldness was rewarded, Angela’s chest hitching slightly in a sharp gasp. Seconds ticked by, and Angela struggled and fought against it, but her cheeks slowly started turning red.
“You should know I don’t like losing,” she finally said.
“Me neither.” Hana returned to her stall, ended the ceasefire, and brought up new targets for the both of them.
Hana did her best not to psyche herself out. No matter if she won or lost, Angela just agreed to the date. She could just concentrate on her target and let Angela concentrate on hers.
Except she really did hate losing, and she couldn’t help but feel smug at her near-perfect score. It was definitely better than what she’d seen Angela score earlier, how the doctor just barely put the effort in.
When Angela called for the cease fire, Hana glanced over at her target, finally.
There was only one hole, slightly larger than an entry wound should be. Dead center of the target’s chest.
Angela grinned at her, a full, unpracticed smile for once. “Might not want to write about that on your blog.”
“……..How,” Hana said, pointing at Angela’s target. “How?”
“I don’t like losing,” Angela said, returning her weapons to the automated lockers. “Out of curiosity, where would you have wanted to go if you won?”
Hana was still trying to calculate the scores, trying to find some loophole. “Somewhere in Seoul, probably.”
“My Korean is pretty slipshod. How about Paris?”
“The last time I tried to speak French in public you laughed at me.”
For a moment, Angela looked genuinely mortified. She glanced aside, rubbing the back of her neck and muttering. “Because your accent is cute.”
Well. She could live with that.
Angela didn’t know what had possessed her. She worked like a demon throughout the week, trying to avoid Hana yet desperately hoping she would come by the clinic. She wasn’t sure what had changed between them, if she would overstep some boundary if she sought to spend more time with the younger woman. In a lot of respects, nothing changed, but she started smoking two cigarettes a day.
“Got a letter from Winston,” Jesse said cheerily, sitting with his legs sprawled out and his back to the wall. “Wanna read?”
“I’d love to, Jesse.” Angela rubbed at her eyes, digging her knuckles in. “Did he and Lena have a good Christmas?”
“Yeah, she brought her lil girlfriend along to finally meet him.” He stretched out, yawning hugely. “Don’t suppose she’s got folks who’d do the whole givin’-your-blessin’ thing, so gorilla man’s gotta do.”
“I’ve never brought someone home to meet my parents.”
A pleasured shiver rolled up Angela’s spine at the sound of Hana’s voice, unexpectedly close. Jesse had a more severe reaction, leaping to his feet like a startled cat.
“FUCK, girl!” Jesse shouted, both hands resting on the small of his back as he loomed forward, hollering at her. “Wear a fucking bell or somethin’!”
Hana started giggling, reclining against the wall right next to Angela. An inch of space remained between their arms, and Angela found she couldn’t form words, thinking about that inch of space. They’d set a date for their date, already. Somewhere in the nebulous future, if Angela could ever drag herself away from where she was needed. Until then, they had this. Whatever this was.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Hana admitted to her as she walked her back to her private quarters. Angela wished she could smoke indoors, settled for digging her hands in her lab coat pockets and clenching them into fists. “You know, Mom always said I should be a doctor, like my father. Either that or marry a doctor.”
Angela faltered, nearly tripping over her own two feet.
Oh my god.
Eyebrows arched, Hana glanced at Angela over her shoulder. “I’m teasing you, Dr. Ziegler. Don’t run away screaming just yet.”
“I just don’t know how to respond to some of the things you say,” Angela admitted. “You have a talent for throwing me off-balance, Ms. Song. And I haven’t been on a real date in…” She did the math. “Seven years.”
“Are you trying to scare me away?” They reached Hana’s door, and she turned to lean against it with her hands tucked behind her back. “I don’t get scared easily.”
Maybe you should be, Angela wanted to say.
“What’s on your mind?” Hana asked her, trailing one hand along Angela’s arm now before letting it linger on her shoulder. The sustained contact was absolutely electrifying.
About how you’re so young and I don’t want to break your heart and this is a mistake. I’m thinking the responsible thing to do is tell you that you don’t know what you want and insult you because I know how easy it is to bruise your pride.
But mostly I’m thinking about fucking you until you can’t walk.
But what Angela actually said was, “You talk about your dad a lot.”
“He’s the reason I started playing.” Hana opened the door to her room and gently pulled Angela inside.
Playing the game was escapism at first, Hana admitted. She was depressed and scared at the rapidly deteriorating world peace. Angela quietly agreed.
“Then I got good. I got really, really good.” Hana shook her head, pulling her hair up into a ponytail and relaxing on her desk chair. Though she had her own room, it was smaller than Angela’s. Difference in rank, she supposed.
Add that to the list of reasons this was a bad idea.
“My parents didn’t, like, get it at first. But they understood once it started bringing money in. And then, when things got really, really bad…”
Hana let out a long breath, closing her eyes.
“You were conscripted,” Angela said.
“I volunteered, little known fact. While I still had a choice. But I knew conscription was coming soon, so…” Her smile returned, suddenly wicked. “I deleted all of dad’s save files. Every scrap of proof that he’d ever played.” She laughed, rocking back in her chair. “He was FURIOUS. It was so disrespectful!”
“Wh… why on earth would you do that?”
“Because I knew I was right. He volunteered anyway, of course. His pride wouldn’t allow otherwise.” Hana waved it aside. “But with all his stuff gone and his bum leg, well… they had more important things to do than verify his account. I didn’t regret it then and I still don’t. I was ready for whatever punishment he’d give me.”
“So…” Angela didn’t want this conversation to turn dark. But Hana was so open and easy to talk to right then, and she was starving for more information about the younger woman. “When was the last time you spoke to him?”
“Oh, lol. Like last weekend.” Angela blinked a few times to hear Hana actually say ‘lol’ out loud. “He loves me more than the air he breathes, are you kidding? He’s so proud, they both are.” Hana grinned, propping her chin in her hand.
It did her heart good to see Angela smiling. While she only had the one chair in her room, she couldn’t help but notice the doctor perched on the edge of her bed rather than make for the chair or the desk.
It was kind of a dick move to take the chair for herself before Angela could decide, admittedly.
From her vantage point, Angela had to look up at her to meet Hana’s eyes. As always, she carried herself with calm confidence, with sleepy, gentle kindness. “Such a good daughter,” Angela said, almost dreamily. “You’re such a good person.”
Again her terrible, trouble-loving inner voice crowed for her to twist Angela’s words, to turn it into a come-on, to pin her down and pounce. But she knew she risked scaring Angela away, had to lure her closer, let her know that she was safe.
And she was safe. Hana didn’t want to hurt her. Didn’t even want to fuck her that bad, either. She just wanted to be around her, and she only ever took direct approaches to things she wanted. “Well go on, praise me more. I’m enjoying this.”
Angela laughed. “I need a moment to collect my thoughts. Unless there’s something in specific you’d like to hear?”
Hana scooted her chair a little closer so she could rest both hands on the doctor’s lap. Angela was wearing a skirt today— good, that might make things easier.
“Yeah actually,” she said. “Out of curiosity, am I getting a goodnight kiss tonight?”
Angela’s mouth closed, that guarded expression returning. “You don’t want a goodnight kiss.”
“Oh, good! So we’re on the same page.” Hana slunk down to her knees, hands still resting on Angela’s lap. “Seriously, Mercy. I’m not looking for a wife or to get laid or to just have a friend. Other people can give me that but I want you. Whatever that means, I want it.”
Angela cupped her face. She closed her eyes, leaning into her warm, soft palm. “That might be more than you’re ready for, dear. I just don’t want to hurt you.”
“Because I’m so young,” Hana said, trying not to bitterly spit the words out. “Right, because I’m not the top of my class, not a war veteran, not a hero. Like I’ve never fucked anybody before, and I’m begging this nice sweet old lady for my first time.”
“Because you’re a good person,” Angela said quietly. “And I am not.”
Nothing could have prepared Hana for that answer. She was stunned, left a little numb as Angela tilted her chin up, her thumb pressed to Hana’s lower lip. Whatever Angela might have done, or said, she meant those words. The look in her eyes, dark blue and endless as the trench outside her homeland, the ocean where monsters lay in wait.
Gooseflesh rose up her arms at the thought.
And she ached, oh how she ached. The bone-deep pain she felt when stuck on administrative leave, like how she wore herself ragged when the M.E.K.A. wasn’t around for her to lose herself in.
She dragged her nails up Angela’s thighs, raking the soft white flesh there and hiking up her skirt just a little more.
With every inch she felt like she was scraping away at the last reserves of strength Angela had, like she was furiously sawing at a rope that came undone thread by thread, like she was sinking deep into the ocean hungry for a fight and needing to conquer it, needing to grab something and, and, and throttle it.
“Oh,” Hana said thoughtfully. “Maybe that’s why I like you so much.”
Angela closed the distance, joining her on the floor and yanking her forward into a kiss. It was biting, teeth first. Hana was starving for a fight, a lioness endlessly roaming and pacing for lack of prey, and here was Mercy given to her on a silver platter.
Still, she could keep her cool long enough to give Angela her options. “Any particular way you want this?”
Angela’s tongue darted out as she sat back on her heels, swiping over her lower lip like she was still trying to taste whatever was left of Hana on her mouth. Her eyes, still dark with lust, seemed out of focus. “I need you to pin me down and fuck me.”
“Can do, doc.”
If that’s the role she needed to take today, she was glad to have it. It was hard to get out of her head on most days, but not when she had something to do. She undressed Angela as much as she could, the doctor’s hands always in the way. The older woman reached for her too, pulling aside her t-shirt and unbuttoning the top of her denim shorts, the ones that cut off right at her upper thigh. She always got sternly scolded by her mother whenever she wore them, and the thought made her laugh against Angela’s mouth.
She pushed, getting up just long enough to shove Angela onto the bed face down. Her palms pressed up against Angela’s bare back, finding scars and poorly healed exit wounds, and shockingly, a single tattoo right at the center of her spine. She knelt down over her, kissing her back and biting her neck like a cat in heat.
Angela moaned, high and tortured. The sounds were mostly muffled by the mattress, but somehow it sounded like an echo, reverberating in Hana’s skull until she couldn’t breathe. Too rattled to think, she helped Angela tear down her underwear just to her knees. She hiked up her skirt, pressed her thigh between Angela’s legs, and started rocking forward as soon as she felt wetness.
This is what I want. This is what I’m supposed to do.
Her whole body thrummed, pleasure lighting her senses from head to toe. She rode that high, chased it as her body moved, her nails clutched and tore. Hana kept one hand on Angela’s hip, guiding her or letting herself be guided as Angela ground against her. She kept the other on Angela’s neck, the grip not tight enough to be threatening but enough to hold her in place.
She was so desperately wet, but not nearly as wet as Angela. But she couldn’t think about herself right now, couldn’t escape her own head until she got what she came for.
Satisfaction came as a low exhale, a tremble that shook Angela’s whole body as she tensed up. Warmth coated Hana’s thigh, nearly from knee to hip, a gush of wetness delivering dark pride.
They stayed still then, focusing on exhale, inhale. Angela trembled underneath her, gasping once when Hana tightened her grip on the back of her neck.
“Just checking to see if you’re still there,” she said cheerily. Angela nodded, then laughed, still shaking.
“Are you,” Angela gulped in a ragged breath. She rubbed her face into the mattress, trying to clear the sweat from her brow while Hana kept her pinned. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” Lowering herself more, she spoke into Angela’s ear. “Though I’d like it if you praised me some more, doctor.”
Angela nodded, laughing again. “That was so good, Hana. You’re so good.”
She realized, a little belated, that Angela still had her hair up. She loosened it now, letting her go just to stroke her fingers through its silken length. “And?”
“And you’re half my age, darling. I know you’re not tired yet but I need to catch my breath.”
Hana started laughing. She sat back, lifting her weight off of Angela so the older woman could turn around. She sighed in relief, turning her head from side to side to work out the kinks.
Angela wanted to be gentle with her. And she was.
It was easier now that she’d burned the fever out, that her body ached from the mistreatment. Hana’s hands were so strong, she could have easily crushed Angela’s windpipe with a grip like that.
“Lie down,” she murmured, and Hana flopped over onto her back and shimmied out of her clothes. Kissing Hana, she worked her way slowly down the younger woman’s chest. Hana murmured some kind of warning, that it was ‘hard to get out of her head’, but Angela didn’t pay her nerves any mind. She needed to make Hana come, and she’d stay here as long as it took.
She kissed down to her legs, pausing to lick her own wetness from Hana’s thigh.
Her legs trembled, muscles tensed rock hard.
“Relax,” she whispered before kissing right at the center of that wonderful heat. Hair brushed her mouth, already slick and dark with come. “Relax,” she said again and parted Hana open with her tongue, holding her steady with two hands.
Slowly, muscle by muscle, Hana did as she was told. She relaxed against Angela’s waiting mouth, hands trailing up her own body before resting on top of Angela’s head.
She held her open, finding her clit and worshipping it with tongue and lips. Hana squirmed, but only until Angela soothed her down with more kisses, murmuring about how good she was being. “How wet, just for me.”
“You kinda got me going,” she said, almost sheepish.
“It’s wonderful.” Angela paused to take Hana’s hand, kissing the back of her palm. “You’re amazing, dear.”
“Can you stay?” Hana asked, and when Angela glanced up she saw the younger woman’s eyes, wide with worry. “I don’t want you to leave after this.”
Angela smiled. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Hana sighed, falling back against the pillows again with relief. She moaned when Angela started using her hands, two fingers filling her but not thrusting, not yet. She kept her waiting for it until Hana got impatient, rocking her hips forward onto Angela’s fingers and muttering. “Faster,” she said, face turning red.
Angela went faster. Shocked into silence again, Hana bit her lip, arching up, tensing. And she came with a shout, toes curling and legs crossing over Angela’s shoulders, keeping her in place as she rocked against her mouth.
They didn’t talk much after that, except for Hana’s whispered request to be held. Angela cradled her, kissing her forehead.
“I’m glad you asked me to stay overnight,” she confessed to Hana after she’d already fallen asleep.
Angela always regretted it when someone went to sleep on her watch and woke up without her.