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O Empress My Empress

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Sprint, vault, slide. Climb, jump, crouch. Aim, breathe, shoot. Block, push, attack.

It was a melody, a song, one that Jack had hammered into her mind ever since she was a child. He taught it to her every night, and every night she would dance to the tune in her head, dodging his swings and attacking back just as fiercely.

“Someday,” Jack told her one night, the both of them sitting on the rooftops after a particularly challenging training regime, “our enemies will come for you.”

Hana had nodded. She hadn’t forgotten her past, the way the assassins had made off with her as easily as if she were a bag of coins. Sometimes she wondered what would have happened had she fought just a little harder or tried just a little more instead of wailing about her dead mother. It didn’t matter, what was done was done. Now she could only learn from her past and train for whatever will come next.

Tonight is easy, though. Jack throws together a short training regime that lasts half an hour and when they are done, though her clothes are muddy and wet, she hardly feels worked. She knows why he didn’t add more to it. Hana wishes he hadn’t gone so easy on her. She’d rather she’d worked hard enough to forget what comes after she wakes up tomorrow than left with time to think about it.

“Good job for tonight, kiddo. You’ve learned well,” Jack says, pushing himself up off the ground and she holds her hand out to help him up.

“Aw, are you upset that you lost old man? Don’t feel bad, you’re just not in your prime anymore,” She responds and Jack smiles a bit at that. She counts it as a win for her.

Just as quickly though, the smile is gone, and for a second Hana sees just how weary Jack is. The week leading up to her mother’s death anniversary is always like that. Nightmares, regret, guilt, and the like. Hana knows he still blames himself for it, no matter what she tells him. Sometimes, despite her words, she blames him for it too. Those thoughts are quickly snuffed out whenever she catches them. Jack stayed with her, Jack saved her. He did what he could.

“Get some rest,” She speaks up just as Jack says the same thing and the two fall silent. Then she giggles and Jack smiles again and Hana thinks that he’s reminded that they’re in this together, that despite whatever happens tomorrow when they honor her mother, they’ll still be together, bodyguard and empress, father and daughter.

Jack starts heading back and Hana thinks she should follow him but she’s not sure she wants to go back to the tower just yet so she stops herself. Perhaps she should be getting some sleep but the only thing she can bring herself to do is climb onto the rooftop of the abandoned apartment they were practicing in and sit on the edge. Her feet dangle off the shingles and she almost has half the mind to test how far she can fall before she rationalizes that that’s a stupid thought and she probably shouldn’t get herself killed the day before the anniversary of her mother’s death. Jack would probably agree, as would Brigitte, Zenyatta, and Fareeha. She’d hate to disappoint them.

Hana remembers how her mother used to make a joke about how her impulsive tendencies to challenge herself would get her mother killed. It’s not really a funny joke anymore.

She doesn’t stay up much longer. Thinking about her mother is still, even after all these years, too much for her, so instead, she runs back to the tower over the rooftops, leaving her footprints everywhere, and sneaks into her room. She finds a cup of hot chocolate still steaming, next to her bed and smiles, knowing Fareeha must have left it. She’s good at keeping quiet about Hana and her father’s night escapades.

Hana takes a sip of the hot chocolate and strips off her dirty clothes before changing into a clean set of pajama pants and a loose shirt. In the morning she would wash and prepare for the event honoring her mother. It would be a lot, but she could make it through it. It was a tradition after all, and traditions rarely hold any surprises.