Lena choked on her tea mid sip, feeling as if the world was now tilted askew on its axis. As she coughed on her spit and mopped up the mess she’d made of her drink with a napkin, she turned her eyes to the woman sitting across from her, who ran her thumb against the rim of her café au lait and smiling pleasantly.
It hadn’t been long since she’d divorced her husband. Only six months had passed since the night where they’d had to scramble for an excuse as to why Lena happened to be at the Lacroix household to repel the invaders–a friendly sleepover, had been Amélie’s excuse–and the divorce had only been legally settled a week ago, though Amélie and Gérard had parted on amicable terms.
Lena would have loved to help Amélie through the harder times, but she was under witness protection and had been moved to a secure location while Lena was stuck in training for the Slipstream program. Which meant having to see her lover’s ex-husband…and enduring him thanking her over and over for being there, you saved her life, thank the fates that you were sleeping over, like what was she meant to say? ‘S’all good, mate, was just done shagging your wife so beating up the baddies was no trouble for me!’
“Lena,” Amélie said lightly, “you haven’t answered my question.”
“I,” Lena stammered, “I sure haven’t, sorry. Just. Gave me a startle there, y’know?”
“Understandable,” Amélie murmured. Her fingers, Lena noticed, were tight on her mug. “Well?”
“Amélie,” Lena said, leaning forward in her seat, “you just divorced a soldier.”
“Who was running missions for Overwatch against a terrorist organization,” Amélie countered sharply. “You are a test pilot.”
“A certified pilot for the Royal Air Force, thank you,” Lena corrected with an upwards tilt of her chin.
“The Crisis is over, and war does not loom on the horizon,” Amélie said. “You would…not be heading out into battle every other month. Every other week.“
“Love…” Lena sighed, and reached out for Amélie’s hand. She didn’t let go of her cup, so Lena laid her fingers against her slim wrist. “I can’t tell you much, but who knows what’s going to happen with the Slipstream, and–”
“I love you,” Amélie whispered. “I–I am in love with you. I have been since the affair. I have been since–since before–it feels like since the moment our eyes met, my heart has been yours, and. Maybe I’m being dramatic when I say this, but, I mean it.”
Lena was stunned into silence again, and her jaw practically dropped. Whatever words she’d been planning–and why the fuck was she trying to get Amélie to reconsider in the first place, damn her bloody sense of pride–fled from her tongue, escaped out of her gaping mouth into the ether.
“It’s–true. I don’t know what the Slipstream is. I don’t know what will happen to you…when you land.” If you land. “If Overwatch will draft you, if a war will come to claim us all, I do not know. All I know is…,” Amélie looked up from her cup, and stared through Lena with those gorgeous golden eyes, glossy from emotion, spilling it down her pretty brown cheeks.
“Is w-what, love,” Lena breathed.
“Is that I want you. I want you. You told me that I was the world to you–you are, are all that and more. The sun and the stars. The brave woman who saved me from a fate worse than anything–my hero. My Lena. So I ask you again…”
Amélie withdrew her hands from her cup, the table. Fiddled with something in her lap, and when she raised it up from her purse Lena saw a little velvet box cradled in her palms.
“Marry me?” Amélie asked her, voice pitched low. Although they were in a public cafe, there was no pressure for Lena to say yes, no stigma to chase her, no weight to carry. In that moment, it felt as if Lena and Amélie were still alone, secluded.
A flick of Amélie’s thumb revealed the ring; a rose-gold band swirled around a single gem of faceted zircon. Caught in the cafe’s light, the gem seemed to glow.
Lena stared at the ring. She stared at Amélie‘s face, so open. Then, she reached out, and closed the box silently. Amélie‘s eyes fractured with heartbreak, but Lena didn’t let it stand; she was quick to fish out her phone, speed dialing Morrison’s personal phone number, and put it to her ear.
It was a while before the Strike Commander answered. “Oxton? What is it? An emergency?”
“Sort of, love.” Lena’s heart pounded against her ribs. “Called to give you some bad news. I’m not gonna be able to fly the Slipstream.”
“You–what?” Morrison’s shock echoed on Amélie’s face.
“Yeah. Can’t rightly put myself at risk right now. I’m gettin’ married, y’see, and it’d be rude to the future missus if I went and got myself all banged up in an experiment.”
Chérie? What are you doing?! Amélie mouthed, her hands twitching under Lena’s own.
“I–” A loud growl rolled through Morrison’s chest, frustration clear cut in the tone as he sighed and huffed. Finally, after a long pause, he breathed in. “No chance I could talk you into staying, Oxton?”
“’Fraid not, sir.”
“You’re giving up a prime opportunity,” Morrison warned. “We would have offered you a position at Overwatch when you landed.”
“Yeah,” Lena mused, “’mighta been nice, sure. But see, I’m head over heels for her and honestly, I can’t rightly see myself leaving her for those long missions and all those battles. Hero or no hero.”
“…Well, then. Sounds like you’ve made up your mind.” There was defeat in his tone, but a note of pride, too. “It would have been a privilege to lead you, Oxton. But still a pleasure to have met you. Good luck, Lena.”
He hung up, and she dropped the phone on the table as she removed her hand, watched Amélie’s cover her mouth as she stifled a sob.
“What have you done,” she whispered thickly. “Lena, Lena no, I did not meant you had to pick me over your dream–”
“My wife comes before any bloody plane, thank you very much. Get this through your head, Frenchie; you’re my dream. See, I can be a sappy dramatic just like you.” Lena tapped the velvet box that sat on the table with her finger. “I’ve seen what an Overwatch spouse did to you, love. I couldn’t put you through that too. I’d never forgive myself.”
“That’s a yes, by the way.”