Chapter 1: The Fall
August 31 2076 was the day that Talon fell apart. It was unexpected, at least to any outsider. They were on the cusp of achieving their goal, total domination of the world and the subjugation of Overwatch whom they had backed into a corner.
To anyone on the inside, however, this had been a long time coming. When the warlord Akande Ogundimu appeared and took over leadership of the organization, many saw the writing on the wall. Before his arrival it had been smooth sailing with only the minor annoyance of Overwatch. Most of their operations were kept hidden and rarely garnered any attention. Their coffers were full and their grip on society was slowly but surely strengthening through subtle influence and corruption.
Doomfist upended that comfortable progress the moment he took over. He was a man already half out of his mind, and just sane enough to be dangerous. His methods were barbaric and cruel and had no regard for the safety of civilians or his own soldiers. His strategy was not to win the world through stealth, but to take it by force, and to leave as many bodies in his wake as possible. He did not value subtlety, he wanted to be noticed, and he made sure he was.
He only led the organization for a few years before things started to fall apart. People began leaving, people began betraying, and everything the previous leadership had carefully built crumbled.
Overwatch erupted out of its state of near obliteration, pushing back the new threat with renewed courage and ferocity. With Talon scrambling, it took little effort to reestablish their footholds and begin what would become the long, torturous death of the terrorist organization.
While all this was happening, the mad warmonger was plotting, running through his resources and remaining assets as though he wasn’t leading them to total destruction. Sorting through them like he was simply looking for a file in a cabinet. Those he found useful were thrown at Overwatch, those who he deemed useless were exterminated without mercy.
Some cried, some begged, some even tried to bargain, but all of them died by his hand.
All but one.
One small, useless asset did what no one else managed to do. They acted frightened, sobbing as he entered their cell to put them down, hiding their face behind their hair. Barely a threat. Barely even alive. At least that was what he thought.
He had never thought to ask why this woman was considered an asset. It was his undoing.
He had deployed assassins before, he enjoyed watching them warp back and forth and tear his enemies to shreds. He thought they had lost their last one a long time ago.
In his last moments, clutching his slashed throat as the woman knealt over his chest, her cold expression illuminated by the light in her chest, and brought her hardlight blade down on his head, he realized that he was mistaken. This wasn’t just an assassin. This was the first assassin. And she had plenty of reason to hate him.
By the time the guards reached the cell it was over. The mighty Akande Ogundimu lay with his head nearly hewn in two, and the assassin was long gone save for rapidly drying bloody footprints. When they rushed to inform the council of their leader’s death they only found a meeting room painted with blood and each and every member of Talon’s high council slaughtered.
Lena had at least had the common sense to break into the armory and grab most of her kit before escaping. Getting away would have been tricky no matter how much she planned or how much inside help she had. Luckily for her, she had gained an unexpected ally.
The moment she exited the armory, and began planning her escape, an Overwatch ORCA fired a missile at the compound, blowing an impressive crater into its northern wall. As Lena slipped out everything descended into chaos as the remaining Talon soldiers scrambled to form some kind of defence, and Overwatch agents were chewing through that defence with ease. The smell of smoke hung heavy in the air making her lungs burn. The roar of battle was deafening now, without her protective helmet to keep the noise down. The sound was overwhelming and almost felt like the very air was vibrating hard enough to make the simple act of thinking a chore. Without her helmet the air was hot and stung her eyes forcing her to fight back tears as she stumbled about, trying to see well enough to find a way out
The brunette startled and sank into a combat ready crouch when her name was called, desperately casting about for the source of the yelling. That was exactly what the unseen attacker wanted, as it turned out, and with Lena momentarily distracted, she wasn't checking behind her.
Lena let out a yelp as a sharp pain shot up her leg and she twisted frantically to find the source of the pain. A dart. A god damn dart. She was being drugged like a feral animal. She may as well be, she realized. She had little intention past her own survival, and she had to look like a wreck. That didn't mean she would go down easily though.
She was tired, weak, and disoriented but she was still extremely agile and fast, and she dodged the next few shots, vaulting up onto a storage container and then bounding up the half constructed radio tower that had been started but never finished. It made for excellent climbing too, might have even been fun of Lena weren't dodging tranquilizer darts, and taking a few of them whenever she slipped or slowed down. The world had started wobbling in and out of focus at some point. She felt pain as she ran into a piece of rebar when she couldn't slow herself enough. She could hear the sounds of pursuit now, just one pair of feet but at the rate she was going numb that was all it'd take.
Another dart struck her exposed arm, and she yanked it out clumsily, before jumping for the top of the unfinished tower, catching onto it by her fingertips.
"No more! Stop shooting, she's too weak!" The voice called, now sounding frantic. Lena struggled, panting, trying to pull herself up and she heard the feet behind her quicken when she nearly slipped. She gritted her teeth and, with a monumental effort, she heaved herself up just as her pursuer leaped for her, and she felt a hand graze her ankle, nearly catching her before she pulled herself up.
The world was fading in and out, her vision dimming as she leaned on one of the bare support columns, letting her head rest against the cold metal. Too close to the edge. Long way down. Backed into a corner like a rabid dog.
She barely had the energy to lift her head as her pursuer easily leaped up after her, and went still as they spotted her trying to gather herself. There was hardly any room to maneuver here. One misstep spelled disaster. She wouldn't survive this fall.
"Lena...." That voice came again, softer now, almost gentle. Lena pressed herself closer to the support column when they stepped closer, and they paused, one hand half raised to reach out to her. "Lena, it's alright, we don't want to hurt you."
Oh of course you bloody don't. Lena thought to herself as the sniper took another tentative step closer. She knew them. Knew her. Kind of. They had clashed so many times that their fights had become a dance, neither quite trying to land a killing blow. She didn't trust her, not at all, but her soft voice made something in her pause and think.
"It's going to be alright, ma belle, I promised that I would save you. I am here to get you out. I won't let anyone hurt you again." The woman was getting close. Lena took a shaky step away, feeling the floor groan under her. It wasn't ready to support weight.
"Lena, please. Let me help you."
As Lena finally forced her head up to look at her, the sniper pulled her helmet up and off, baring dark brown eyes and a brow furrowed in concern. "Lena..."
Another step forward. Too close. Lena took another step back, and the floor shifted dangerously under her, easily unbalancing her in her weakened state.
She grabbed for something, anything to catch herself, and for a moment she swore she felt the woman's fingertips graze hers. Then she was falling, the wind lashing her face as she plummeted off the tower. Her body felt heavy. She couldn't do anything to stop her fall. It wasn't how she expected her life to end, but at least she had had a brief moment of freedom.
I don't care anymore, death's a better option than this.
Her eyes fluttered shut, accepting.
"Winston! CATCH HER!"
Lena could just barely make out the huge shape appearing out of the smoke when she forced open her eyes, too big to be human, too fast. Whatever it was, it had no plans of letting her hit the ground. Her fall came to a jarring halt as a giant meaty arm suddenly appeared around her, stopping her fall about ten meters from the hard concrete. Even if she hadn't been reeling from so many tranquilizers she would have had a hard time fighting back. Her body was throbbing from the abuse she had put it through while trying to evade her pursuers, and her adrenaline was fading rapidly, leaving her feeling heavy and tired. So very tired.
"I have her." A deep, baritone voice said, as the giant creature dropped to the ground, using his free hand to carefully adjust the lifeless woman in his arms, cradling her rather than restraining her. Then that huge hand, probably capable of crushing steel or ripping a man in half, gently pulled her gauntlets off, so very gently. She could hear the steady thump of his heart against his breastplate, once he had adjusted her in his arms. She could see a little better now, the smoke clearing just enough to let her see the creature. A gorilla. She would be running in the opposite direction if she could, had she not been so drugged. He was kind of comfy though. She could see herself falling asleep there, if she wasn't so scared. Not that her fear changed anything, she was still fading out.
The gorilla eased himself down, setting her mangled wrist guards aside and adjusting a pair of thin-framed glasses perched on his nose. It was kind of cute.
"Hello little one, you can sleep now, you look like you need it." He said, his voice deep and rumbling in his chest and somehow, Lena believed him. She felt him gently brushing her hair away from her eyes after they finally drifted shut, somehow so gentle despite his size.
"Is she alright!?"
"Of course, she just went under, she's no threat to anyone like this."
"We need to get her out of here, come on. Gabe's waiting at the ship."
"I imagine he'll be pleased, since she's the only reason we're here."
"Um, anyhow, let's get her cleaned up. She's a mess, she can't be comfortable like this."
The voices faded out and she gratefully sank into blissful nothingness.
Chapter 2: The Mirror Shatters
Lena faces an unexpected speed bump that leaves her physically and emotionally shattered.
“Her injuries weren’t as bad as we thought. I’ve healed the worst of them and bound the rest. She should be fully healed in a few weeks.” The voice came slowly to Lena, as she started to regain awareness of her surroundings.
“Her body is a lot colder than I would like and she seems to have a very high metabolism. It would be wise to get her eating as soon as possible, as much as possible. I don’t know how well she was fed with her, ehm, previous employers.”
It sounded like whoever was talking was doing so behind a layer of glass, muffled and difficult to make out if they were speaking too quietly.
Lena felt so heavy, her body sluggish and refusing to cooperate with her. It made sense, she was a prisoner, and she was dangerous. They wanted to keep her subdued and contained.
“Will she wake up soon?”
There was a voice she recognized. It usually pissed her off but now it was comforting to hear someone she recognized.
“Any time now. We have begun reducing the sedatives we have been using to keep her under, so she should be regaining consciousness soon. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is something we have yet to find out.”
“Let me in. I want to see her.”
A door hissed open, and Lena could hear footsteps tapping around the bed, and then the mattress dipped under the weight of another person.
The sniper gently brushed her hair out of her eyes, brushing the backs of her fingers against her cheek. Her hand was cool but not cold, still warm to Lena. That hand softly cupped her cheek and the sniper gently stroked the pad of her thumb over the skin under her eye, soothing, comforting.
“We finally got you out, Lena. You never have to hurt anyone else again. You’re free now.”
Freedom has many definitions. For some people it was the privilege of making their own decisions. For others it was being above any law, freedom being immunity. For her.... she didn’t know. What was freedom?
“Did you bring what I asked for? I will not have her endure weeks in isolation without anything to keep her occupied.”
She sounded so commanding now.
“Well, yes... but we can’t give them to her without the Strike Commander’s go ahead. He already refused the request.”
Lena was mostly just confused. She knew she was in containment and that she was a prisoner. That was about all she knew for sure. Her head was already pounding from trying to focus on many things at once. The sound of air rushing through a vent somewhere nearby, the voices, the footsteps, the slight creak of the room whenever someone shifted their weight. It was maddening being pulled in so many directions. Even more frustrating that she knew she wouldn’t be able to voice her discomfort or let these people know she needed help. Every time she tried to form a sentence it slipped away into the sedative induced fog clouding her mind.
“I would speak to him, then, when I get back. I’m going to go get Lena some food. Athena?”
Lena flinched when a loud voice answered, an Ai maybe. It seemed to come from everywhere. “Yes, Agent Lacroix?”
“Please inform the Strike Commander that I would like to speak with him after lunch, regarding Lena’s rehabilitation.”
“Very well, Miss Lacroix, I will request his presence at the Talon Operative’s containment in half an hour.”
Lena heard the sniper sigh heavily, then her weight lifted off the bed and she tracked her footsteps towards and out the door.
“Don’t let him do anything to her while I am out.”
Amélie poked at the food on her plate absentmindedly. She hadn’t eaten a proper meal since before the raid, and her stomach was clenching painfully. Somehow, though, she felt no urge to eat. She was worried about Lena. She had not left her side since she was brought in, partly to be there when she woke up and partly to protect her. It was frustrating that the man who led the entire strike force was one of the biggest threats to the younger woman’s life, as well as making her recovery next to impossible.
Merde, how dangerous could she be in her condition!? She can barely lift her head!
Amélie sighed and forced herself to spear some of her food on the tip of her fork and raise it to her mouth. It looked like macaroni, but she barely tasted it. She was worried.
Lena had been surprisingly compliant, when she hadn’t been drugged out of her mind. She hadn’t even tried to attack Amélie on that tower. That was a thing unheard of. Lena saw her and attacked. That was how it had always been.
Something needed to be done to help her. She wasn’t a monster, she was a young woman who was a victim, and she deserved proper kind treatment. All Amélie had to do was make the Strike Commander see that.
She lifted another bite of food to her mouth, but paused when her communicator crackled to life.
“Miss Lacroix, I’m terribly sorry to interrupt your lunch, but the Commander just entered Lena’s containment and removed her from the room. I believe you should investigate as soon as possible.”
Amélie felt her stomach drop as Athena finished the request. She hadn’t even been gone a half hour. She hadn’t had anyone guard her. Time seemed to freeze as her brain kicked into hyperdrive thinking of all the worst case scenarios.
What have I done.
Amélie dropped her fork, and she vaulted over the table and a few startled trainees in her haste to make it to the door.
Please don’t hurt her. Please don’t hurt her anymore than you already have.
The room was a mess. Papers scattered everywhere, the containment chamber’s glass was shattered as though someone had been thrown against it, the shards scattered on the floor. The largest broken piece was lying on the floor in a small puddle of blood. Lena wasn’t there. Neither was Morrison.
“Athena where is Lena now??”
“My sensors indicate that The Commander has taken her to one of the maximum security interrogation rooms. Please hurry, Miss Lacroix, the Talon Operative is showing signs of physical distress as well as an elevated heart rate and indicators of severe pain.”
Amélie silently thanked whatever higher power was watching, because if she had met anyone on the way she would have torn them apart to get to the lower levels of the facility. It was easy to figure out where they were, there were very obvious signs of a struggle. A few drops of blood, a smeared handprint as someone was dragged, even some tiny nail marks in the plaster where Lena had very clearly been trying to claw her way back as she was pulled along. Amélie was seeing red by the time she reached a door with blood on the handle and when she found it locked her hand flew to her communicator with only one word.
“Now, you’re going to stop being a whiny little bitch and tell me what I want to know.”
Lena scrambled back into the corner the moment the man released his grip on her arm, already starting to bruise, and she huddled into herself, her entire body shaking. The moment the sniper left, this man had stormed in, he must have been waiting for the other woman to leave. Perhaps he didn’t dare to do anything if she were watching. He hadn’t listened to both the doctor or the AI’s request to wait, instead forcing the door to her room open and grabbing her by the front of her shirt, yanking her up to look him in the eyes.
“Now we can have a little chat, just you and I.”
She hadn’t realized how much danger she was in until he threw her off of the bed hard enough to break the handcuffs on her left wrist, along with said wrist. He seemed less interested in information and more focussed on just hurting her.
Did I piss this guy off somehow?
Lena very slowly pushed herself to her knees, keeping her head down submissively. Maybe if she didn’t act threatening he would just go away.
If anything, he found her lack of a struggle to be an insult.
“You’ve killed god knows how many of my people and you just sit here grovelling? Show me what you’re really capable of.”
She was busy cradling her wrist when he grabbed a fistful of her hair and shoved her head against the glass with enough force to crack it.
“Fight back you little shit! Fight back!”
He had no trouble throwing her through the glass, she was still too busy shielding her injury to put up a fight. The broken glass sent hot bolts of pain through her as she landed on them. One was large enough to grab so she did. She clutched it close to her chest as if she were still guarding her broken wrist, turning away from the man as he stormed out the door and around to continue the assault.
“Come here you litt-AARGH!”
She slashed at him blindly and from his scream she connected.
“You little whore!!”
She remembered the pain of being dragged across the broken glass, crying out in pain and dropping the shard in her hand, and the hiss of the door, then he was forcing her down the hall, down stairs, it was getting darker. She tried to dig her nails into the plaster, pain when he ripped her hand away from the walls.
There were no windows now, they had to be underground. The man wrenched a heavy looking door open and pushed her inside. She stumbled against the table and sagged against it with a wheeze, before she made her way around it and gathered herself into a corner. If she could just put her back to the wall then she might survive. She cradled her wrist and continued to act submissive, as the man paced and cursed, holding his face. She must have gotten him in the face.
At least he was somewhat distracted now.
Please let someone find us. Please come back, don’t let him kill me....
When Winston made it to the interrogation room, hastily pulling on a large shirt and panting, he looked both panicked and furious, running hard enough to make the ground shake.
“It’s locked, he locked us out! He’s hurting her!”
Amélie didn’t need to elaborate. Winston ripped the door clean off of the wall and threw it aside, startling Jack enough to make him let go of Lena. She dropped to the floor bonelessly. She was bleeding. He was bleeding. She had fought back. Amélie was both terrified for her and immensely proud of her.
“Commander Morrison step away from the prisoner NOW.”
Amélie had never heard such anger in Winston’s normally gentle voice before. She saw Lena’s head lift in response, and she rushed forward as the Commander hesitated.
“What the fuck is wrong with you!? She can’t even fight back and you beat her within an inch of her life!?”
“Can’t fight back!? Look what the little bitch did to my face!!” The Commander spat back, gesturing to the crooked slash between his eyes angrily.
“She should have done much worse, you asshole.” Amélie growled as she positioned herself between them, and Winston shuffled into the room. He looked furious, but that expression melted immediately when he felt a small tug on his oversized shirt and looked down to find the former talon operative had dragged herself to him, still looking at the floor but very clearly trying to get his attention. She looked utterly miserable. The soft sleepwear she had been wearing was torn and bloodied and he could see the bruises forming on her arms and face.
To be this hurt and still seek help from someone like him...
He could easily snap her in half yet she was begging for his help.
“Oh Lena...” he murmured, all anger leaving him in an instant as he lowered himself to sit on the floor. When he gently lifted her she went limp, unresisting as he cradled her against his chest and began to gently pluck the shards of glass from her shoulders and back. She had to be in agony.
“I’ll take her to to medical wing. Contact Gabriel and let him know what happened and to return as soon as he can. I’ll stay with her until he gets back so this doesn’t happen again.” He rumbled, cradling Lena’s battered body in one arm as he stood. She shivered and turned her head to burrow into the soft fur on his chest, softly whimpering. She was shaking, most likely from pain and shock. She wouldn’t be able to trust anyone at this rate besides Winston.
He walked slowly, doing his best to avoid jostling Lena on his way to the medical bay. She occasionally whimpered, curling into herself, but she didn’t try to run or attack him. She just held onto his shirt for dear life. Her eyes were nearly drifting shut now as she led her warmth off of him and gradually relaxed, almost going into a trance as her exhaustion seemed to catch up with her.
“I can’t believe he did zhis. Vhat kind of animal does zhis to an unarmed voman!?” Angela muttered angrily as she tied off the last of Lena’s stitches and gently ran a wet cloth over her back to wipe away any remaining blood or tiny shards of glass. Lena was unconscious, having been sedated for her own comfort as Angela closed the multiple gashes on her back and arms. Her wrist was in a brace, and would be put in a sling as soon as she was up and about again.
“I’m going to take her to my lab when she wakes up. Or the common room. If Jack tries this again I need to be there to stop him.” Winston rumbled as he watched Angela carefully redress the sleeping woman in new, soft clothes, peeling a banana as he talked. “He would have killed her if Amélie didn’t contact me so quickly, I have no doubt about that.”
Amélie had yet to meet up with him. He suspected it was to avoid scaring Lena, with how angry she had been when Winston left. He also suspected that she had kicked Jack’s ass all the way to the board of directors, where she was probably destroying any hope of him continuing his career. It was probably for the best. A man who had so little control made a poor commander.
“There. All her wounds are taken care of. I would use my staff again but I’m worried that it will take too much out of her to use it again so quickly. Her body won’t cope well if I force it to mend itself again so soon.” She was a bit calmer now, Winston noted with a hint of relief. Whenever she began speaking with a thicker accent he got very nervous because it was usually followed by someone getting yelled at. For someone who swore to do no harm Angela Ziegler could be terrifying.
When Winston carefully lifted her off of the bed, Angela stopped him briefly, just long enough to place a folded quilt and a few bags of snacks on Lena’s lap. “Here. She has a very fast metabolism. This will hopefully get her eating. The quilt is heated, so she won’t be cold.”
Winston nodded, smiling gratefully at the medic as he made his way to the door.
“Thank you, Angela, you’re a godsend.”
“Yes yes now go, she needs rest.”
Winston chuckled to himself, before he padded down the hall towards his workshop, cradling his precious cargo in his arms.
Man, this one was NOT easy to write. Y'all know I often put Lena through some tough stuff but holy shit.
I believe the phrase is, "It gets worse before it gets better" right?
There is some rather degrading language in this one, so I'll see about changing the rating, and I apologize for the amount of angst, I'm trying to get to the soft parts as fast as I can.
As always, comments are appreciated, let me know how we did! Suggestions are welcome!
Chapter 3: Revelations
Chapter by TheTiredGeneticist
Important information is brought to light, and Lena's health takes a turn for the worst.
“Progress is.... slow. She’s pretty messed up after what happened.”
Amélie sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose as Lucio, Doctor Ziegler’s assistant and the base’s resident DJ/ray of sunshine sat down across from her in the common room. It was largely empty, and had been ever since Talon began to crumble. Everyone was busy with the cleanup. There was no need for snipers right now. Amélie was in equal parts grateful and resentful. Grateful because she could keep a close eye on Lena and her wellbeing, keep curious agents away from her, and constantly refill her bag of snacks that she was powering through at a terrifying speed. Resentful because she knew Jack was out there and, more importantly, no longer an agent of Overwatch. Meaning she could go and take a few shots at him with relatively few consequences. Lena took priority, however, so here she was, watching as Winston brought up another hologram on the tiny projector he had set up. Lena was watching it drowsily, more asleep than awake as she usually was, and a lollipop stuck in her mouth as she watched whatever program Winston had downloaded for her.
What they wouldn’t give to see her smile. They’d kill just to get her to look anything other than exhausted, anxious and in pain. Her injuries limited her even further than she already was, and she was more or less restricted to being “wherever the gorilla was” now. Winston didn’t seem to mind. He had gone above and beyond in caring for her. He had even had another containment room built in his workshop, and soundproofed it for when Lena was trying to sleep. Lena seemed to prefer to sleep close to him, however, and she was more often asleep than she was awake much to their concern.
“Her body just can’t take in enough calories to replace what she’s burning. If she didn’t have that thing in her chest she’d probably be dead.” Lucio said as he sagged against the soft love seat with a groan. “Now that the board made us turn it off she has to eat constantly. That’s no way to live.”
Amélie leaned her head on her hand, only half listening. Lena had begun to play with the wrapper of one of her sweets and as usual it was too adorable not to watch her folding it around as best she could with one arm in a sling, until it resembled a paper crane. When she offered it to Winston he delicately took it and smiled at her reassuringly. His desk was covered in tiny wrapper cranes, and had been ever since she discovered she knew how to make them.
Perhaps she would enjoy some origami paper. Once her wrist healed she would probably love to have some decorated paper.
“I heard the Shimadas were coming in today. They know she’s here right?” Lucio asked as he watched Lena, looking a bit nervous. He had every reason to be.
Hanzo had joined Overwatch at his brother’s request. He had sought redemption for nearly ending Genji’s life when they were still part of the clan, when Genji refused to become Yakuza. Hanzo was a changed man now, he had found a great deal of peace here and for the most part the brothers had reconciled and often worked together on missions.
Hanzo had also nearly been killed three years prior. He had been ambushed during a mission to root out Talon operatives in Dorado, and had lost both of his legs below the knee as well as sustaining heavy damage to his right arm, which was later removed and replaced. The former assassin never admitted any information about who had attacked him but everyone figured it out in time. Lena was the only one who had even a slight chance of sneaking up on Hanzo, so Lucio’s concerns were justified.
“They should be here within an hour. I heard they ratted out another Talon cell, but when they got there, it was already a battlefield between two separate groups in Talon uniforms. Talon is literally imploding!”
Amélie returned to watching Lena as the DJ jumped into a play-by-play of what he had heard, watching her lean back against Winston’s arm and fish around in her bag for more snacks. When she shivered and almost dropped her bag Winston pulled her quilt out and gently draped it over her shoulders, pressing a button on the small external control piece to turn the heat on. Lena let out a visible exhale of relief, sagging backwards and pulling the heated quilt tighter around her as Winston lifted his arm to let her huddle against his side. It looked like she was going to be having another nap.
When they had ordered her implant to be turned off she had lost what little energy she had left. When she wasn’t eating she was sleeping, trying to conserve energy. Her implant was only kept on the very lowest amount of power, just enough to keep her from phasing out of existence again. It had taken a monumental amount of arguing and convincing from Winston before they allowed even that small amount of power.
Things should have improved after Jack left, Lena should be starting her rehabilitation, she should have some nicer things, she deserved to be at the very least comfortable. Instead, the board of directors were more angry about Amélie getting their Strike Commander fired than they were relieved to be rid of such a violent man. Until Gabriel or Ana returned there was nothing they could do but watch over Lena and make sure she at least had enough to eat.
“Ana should be back next week.”
Amélie looked up as Winston sat down next to the loveseat, carefully holding Lena against his chest. She was asleep, curled up into a little ball.
“Gabriel should be back at any time. He was livid when I finished talking to him.” Amélie replied softly, as she watched Lena sleeping. It was one of the few times that, if caught at the right moment, she looked almost peaceful. There was no furrowed brow, no anxious expression, just peace. She wasn’t quite there today, but she was close enough.
When Amélie reached over and brushed her hair out of her eyes the girl mumbled and curled up even more, turning her head away from the contact.
“Does Ana know about her?” She asked, as she withdrew her hand and instead got up to go get the bag that Lena must have dropped when she fell asleep. It was almost empty again. Perhaps she could ask if Hana had any spare snacks.
“Oh she knows. She insisted on remaining off base for a bit, she wasn’t happy about the news of what Jack did and when I informed her of the council’s treatment of Lena I can only imagine she was even more angry.” Winston answered as Amélie sat back down, holding onto the nearly depleted bag of snacks and leaning back against the sofa with a groan. “She wanted to be the one to bring her in but she had to hand her over to you. She feels responsible for Lena just as much as we do.” He paused, then chuckled before adding, “Lena took her eye you know. But that only seems to have made Ana twice as determined to save her.” Amélie couldn’t help but laugh at that, because it was true.
When Ana could finally have visitors after losing her eye, Amélie had visited her. She had sat up in bed and levelled the most annoyed expression at her when she asked, “Did you catch her?”
When Amélie shook her head the older woman’s expression shifted from irritation to disappointment, before settling into an expression that was rather mournful.
“Her face. I knew her face. There’s no mistaking it.”
She was silent for a few moments, before she looked Amélie dead in the eye.
“That was Lena Oxton. Lena is alive.”
Amélie had never met the younger woman personally, the most she had seen her before the accident had been when the girl had bumped into her in the hallway outside of her husbands office. She had been in a rush, a protein bar sticking out of her mouth as she offered a somewhat garbled apology and a two fingered salute before jogging onward, leaving Amélie to watch her go with an amused smile. She had forgotten about her soon after, until the news of the accident spread like wildfire and she saw Lena’s picture in the news and on the memorial. It made her sad, not having gotten to know the small, cute, energetic woman until she was gone. Had she made the effort, she believed they could have been good friends.
After she was taken by Talon and after…. well, after Gerard, she had been in a similar state as Lena was now, shut down and frightened. It had taken her a very long time to get to where she was now, and it had taken a lot of help.
Lena had been lost just weeks before Amélie was kidnapped. The pilot had become lost in the scramble to retrieve Amélie from Talon, and as a result they had been unable to develop the technology they needed to pull Lena back into the correct time. If they had, perhaps, given Winston more funding he may have been able to prevent all of this by saving Lena.
Amélie still remembered what Ana had told her while she was still recovering. Ana had most likely kept the information a secret until she saw Lena on the battlefield. Perhaps perhaps it was out of guilt that she had told Amélie that Jack had chosen to abandon Lena, only giving Winston the barest minimum to at least try to save her. “Who was more important, after all?” Ana had growled as she clenched the blanket in her hands, “The wife of a high ranking agent or a new pilot who might not even exist anymore?”
Once she learned that Lena was alive and, much to her horror, an assassin held captive by Talon, she made it her personal mission to rescue her. Even if she had to drag her back hogtied she would save her.
That had been years ago, and they had fought each other so many times since then that Amélie had lost count. She didn’t miss the actual clashes between them, certainly not, but when they did fight they at least used to exchange verbal punches as well. It had begun to turn into almost playful banter in the months before Lena’s capture. Amélie had realized early on that for Lena, being out in the field like that was as close to freedom as she could get, so she tried to enjoy it before she was inevitably tossed back into containment for god knows how long.
When Lena stopped appearing a month before the raid Amélie had feared the worst. Lena was always there to meet her with her blades drawn and a wild grin on her face. For that entire month she had sat unchallenged and anxiously searched the rooftops for her opponent. She didn’t find her until the raid, when Lena appeared stumbling around in a daze, covered in blood and appearing underweight as well as completely disoriented.
Lena was only just beginning to climb back from what had been done to her in that last month. It would take a long time and a lot of care but she was at least trying.
“Gabe won’t allow them to do this. He’ll have the device turned back on, council be damned..” Winston grumbled to himself as Lena stirred, slowly sitting up and looking around confusedly. When she saw Amélie she perked up, but only slightly.
“Hello Lena, are you feeling any better today?” The sniper asked gently, setting the bag down and holding out her hands to her, palms up. For a moment Lena hesitated, before she slowly slipped her arm out of its sling and gingerly slid her hands into Amélie’s.
“I’ll go refill her bag for you, don’t worry.”
Amélie barely heard Lucio when he got up and skated off to replenish Lena’s supply of snacks, she was too busy encouraging Lena to come sit with her on the loveseat. She had barely left Winston’s side in the days following Jack’s attack, and as much as he clearly loved the girl he probably needed a short break.
“You look better today, the bruises are starting to go away.” Amélie murmured as she ran her thumbs over Lena’s knuckles, before she gently guided her hands to her chest and held them there. It was a gesture she had been repeating whenever she could to build trust and help Lena grow accustomed to being touched. She had already made progress with this exercise in just a few days, allowing Amélie to hold her hands rather than jerking them away in terror.
It wasn’t much, but it was progress.
“We aren’t making any progress.”
Amélie looked up from her book as Winston made a sound of frustration, typing away furiously at his keyboard.
“She’s there, I have her but she’s constantly fading out. I don’t think she can even see or hear us!”
Winston sounded more upset than Amélie had ever heard him. She had started coming down here for the peace and quiet, and had kept returning because the gorilla desperately needed a friend to help him calm down.
His efforts were proving useless, and he was only able to partially stabilize the flickering blue shape that he swore was Lena Oxton for maybe an hour at most before she was gone again.
He began typing again as the presence in the containment chamber faded again, his face set into a frown.
He adjusted his glasses and turned to another set of monitors that displayed rapidly changing numbers. Only one was unchanging and it was set at 0.
“This one changes whenever I get her back. Why isn’t she coming back!?”
He began typing again. “The scanners aren’t picking up anything. That means.... but that’s not possible. She can’t be...”
Amélie slowly put down her book and stood, padding over to the gorilla. He was hunched over, and she couldn’t see his expression until he straightened up.
When he did, he let out a loud bellow and brought his fists down on the keyboard, thoroughly destroying it.
“She.... she’s gone....”
Amélie sat with him next to the chamber for hours while he wept, holding one of his massive hands. He was exhausted, and now he was defeated. He had lost his friend. He had done his best and still failed.
“I lost her....”
Amélie snapped back to the present when the speaker went off, prompting her to check on Lena. She usually jerked away and tried to pinpoint the sudden loud noise, but this time it was different. She barely seemed to react, leaning on the back of the loveseat and staring at their still entwined hands with glassy eyes. Lucio paused as he straightened up from returning the bag to the sofa, and Winston adjusted his glasses as he stood up.
“All agents report to mission briefing immediately. Repeat. All agents report to mission briefing.”
Winston cast an uncertain look at Amélie, then at Lena who had yet to move or react. Her lack of energy and low body temperature had to be taking a toll on her. Amélie slowly rose, feeling a surge of anxiety as she realized that she would have to leave Lena here alone for an unknown amount of time.
“Can’t one of us stay here?” She protested as Lucio skated off towards the meeting room, and Winston shrugged with a similarly worried expression.
“I’ll have Athena watch her. If we’re lucky we will only be gone a few minutes.”
Amélie sighed and nodded, before she knelt to give Lena a reassuring smile.
“We have to go Chérie. I promise we’ll come back as soon as we can. We won’t leave you here forever.”
Lena just nodded listlessly. Something wasn’t right. Once she got back Amélie would call for Doctor Ziegler.
“We’ll be back soon.”
"First of all, I want to thank everyone who has been working their asses off these past few days. Without a leader and without a plan you assholes still managed to keep things running. Good work."
A few subdued chuckles echoed in the dimly lit meeting room as Gabriel Reyes made his way to the front of the room, where Jack used to stand as he delivered their mission briefings. Gabriel looked out of place but his face was set in firm determination.
"Unfortunately, I didn't call all of you here for congratulations and beer. My team and I managed to dig up a whole shitload of intel on our last mission and a lot of it pertains to our newest addition, goes by the name of Lena Oxton."
He pulled a small memory drive out of his pocket and plugged it into the overhead holographic projector.
"This is only a fraction of the data we recovered. The rest of it can be reviewed later, this is the important stuff. Everything about Lena and everything pertaining to the other reason I called for this meeting."
He paused and sighed heavily, before he opened the laptop connected to the projector and began to scroll through the list of files while he continued.
“We have a problem. We of course knew Talon had moles within Overwatch, and we thought we had a good grasp on them. It turns out, we did not.” Gabe hit a button on the laptop in front of him, and a holographic display popped up over the table, showing a long list of names and pictures of what Amélie assumed were Overwatch employees.
"Every one of the people on this list are in some way connected to Talon. Some sabotaged covert operations. Some embezzled money to fund Talon's terrorist activities, and some gave information regarding our projects and movements to the enemy."
Gabriel straightened up and his voice took on a more authoritative tone, one that he only ever used when he was briefing his team.
“I have called this meeting to inform you that my people have already begun taking action.”
As Gabe was talking, Winston had adjusted his glasses and began reading the list. Amélie hears him mumble the names of several people, seemingly in disbelief.
"This is impossible. There's no way. There's no way that they'd..." The gorilla choked out, before he noticed her concerned gaze and looked down at her, his eyes full of tears.
“These names.. They worked with me on.. The slipstream. After...” He choked out, then looked up at the display again. "They were supposed to help me bring her home.. But they sold her out..”
He looked down at Amélie again, tears streaming from his eyes “I.. I nearly had her. Once. She was in my lab, she was physical again.. Then something tore her away, and I never saw her again.. I thought my equations were wrong but.. If they pulled her out before I could, that would explain why she vanished. Why I could never pull her back!”
By now the whole room was watching with sympathy as Winston broke down. Amélie put a hand on his arm to comfort him and he stiffened suddenly.
"But that means. Wait a second...." He murmured, his brow furrowing before his eyes widened in realization.
"My calculations. They weren't wrong, they were just unfinished! They beat me to her because they finished them!"
He was still wiping tears away when he looked down at Amélie again but this time he was smiling tearfully. "This means I can still help her!"
He pulled her into a tearful hug before she could react, but she just as quickly hugged him back. This changed everything. This meant that there was hope.
Gabriel eventually cleared his throat, and once they had settled back down he continued.
“As our dear strike commander has recently departed of both his sense and duties, I will be taking over command here until Amari returns, Sojourn will be my second in..”
As he finished his sentence a loud banging erupted from the ventilation ducts, as though an animal were tearing through them and approaching at great speed. Everyone had a hand on their weapons immediately, until Hanzo, who had been quietly listening, held up an arm and ran the short distance to the vent, just in time to catch the blue shape that tumbled out of it and into his arms.
”Miso! Koko de naniwo shi te i masu ka! Anata no kyodaiha doko da!?”
The creature, one of his dragons everyone now saw and recognized, began to frantically paw at its master's chest and make a series of high pitched chittering sounds, appearing very distressed.
Hanzo frowned, then he looked over at Amélie in confusion.
"Miso is saying that your friend is fading away."
Before Amélie could grasp what he said, Athena spoke. Despite being an ai her voice had an undertone of great urgency to it.
“Winston! Dr. Ziegler requests your presence in the medical bay urgently!”
Before she even finished the sentence, Winston was on his feet, dropping the notes he had been taking and barreling at full speed towards the door, crashing through it and the wall like they were made of paper. Amélie was right on his heels ignoring the shocked cries that had erupted in the meeting room.
"What's happened? Is Lena alright? He said she was fading away!" Amélie almost had to yell over the rumble of the huge gorilla charging down the hall with her.
"I don't know. She was so out of it before. Something must have happened. Athena!"
The ai answered immediately. "The Talon Operative began showing signs of distress, after which they collapsed and begun seizing. I informed Doctor Ziegler and soon after she arrived to administer aid the Operative went into cardiac arrest. Agent Shimada's dragons found the operative shortly before Doctor Ziegler arrived and displayed high levels of distress. One of Agent Shimada's dragons went into the ventilation system while I located the nearest person to aid Doctor Ziegler. She requested your assistance immediately after she secured the prisoner in her medical bay."
Winston ran even faster as she spoke, and Amélie could hear him praying under his breath.
"Please, please don't take her. I need to save her this time, don't take my best friend from me again."
Amélie found herself thinking similarly. She was not religious. She didn't believe in God or fate but in this moment she prayed to whatever higher power may be out there to give Lena strength. She prayed that they would get there in time to save Lena, or at the very least, that they would arrive in time to say goodbye.
"Where is she!?"
Angela didn't look up from where she was frantically inserting needles into Lena's arms and taping them in place. She had already gotten Lena breathing again, but only just, and she looked more panicked than Amélie had ever seen her.
"Her body is shutting down! I can't replace what her body is using fast enough! You said you thought the anchor could help her? Turn it on, before we lose her!" She hissed as she worked. She sounded terrified.
"To hell with the board! Move aside, I need space to work"
Angela scrambled out of the way as Winston approached the small girl, taking up position by her equipment to monitor Lena’s vitals.
“Be quick Winston, I fear her body will be too weak to bounce back soon!” She urged him on, a note of fear in her voice, and she stared intently at the girl as Winston opened a panel on the implant and began working at a frantic pace.
"Just a moment. I need to adjust the energy output, and.... There!"
The previously dim red light flared back to life, and Angela immediately checked Lena's vitals again, staring at the screen intensely. Time seemed to stand still, silence settling over the room as Amélie desperately looked between the two of them for any sign of Lena being ok. Angela squinted at the monitor for almost a full minute before she let out a shaky sigh.
"Whatever you did, it's working. Her vitals are starting to pick up."
Amélie had to lean back against the counter, her legs shaking as she watched Winston bring their friend back from the brink of death, and struggling to process what had just happened. A faint blue light caught her attention and she spotted Hanzo's twin dragons anxiously flying in figure eights above the bed, still chittering. Winston seemed too relieved to notice them, and Angela watched them in awe as they descended and landed on the white bedsheets to take up silent vigil as they had been before. One of them settled against Lena's chest, while the other coiled it's long, sinuous body over her legs and settled down to rest. If they were here that meant they saw something in Lena that was worthy of their protection.
She would need all the help she could get, small spirit dragons included.
Amélie slowly sank to her knees as all of her strength left her, the sudden spike of terror fading and leaving exhaustion in its wake. Winston didn't hesitate to pick her up and, despite her protests, he carried her out the door and towards her room.
"She'll be ok now Amélie, I'll watch over her. Get some sleep and come visit her tomorrow, alright?" He reassured her when he set her down outside her room and she tried to argue. It was only the early evening but god she was exhausted. Any remaining protest in her was wiped out by the time she shut the door and pitched headfirst into her bed, already asleep by the time she hit the pillow.
Tomorrow she could worry. For now, she slept.
Wow this was an emotional roller coaster to write. I think both me and Rhitta cried more than once while we were editing this. It'll start getting better soon, I promise.
As always, I love when y'all comment, since I really appreciate feedback and suggestions. What did I do well on? What could I improve? Let me know!
Chapter 4: After the Storm
Lena is in bad shape after everything, but things are looking up.
Amélie recalls the day of the Slipstream Incident.
Ana returns, and brings with her a new recruit with a story to tell.
After everything that had happened, the peace that followed was a godsend. Lena was comatose, but she was stable, finally. Her body was finally able to get the rest it desperately needed, and now that her metabolism was under control she could afford to stop eating for a while and just be. Once she woke up, she would be able to start recovering, and she wouldn’t have to worry about anything.
Amélie had barely left her side since she returned the morning after, spending her time holding Lena’s hand and talking to her, or reading quietly in the corner while still keeping an eye on her. Winston had visited a few times, but he was mostly absent now that he knew he could help her, and he was doing his best to do just that. The first time he stopped in it was with some of her old possessions, personal items that he had stored away after the slipstream. Jack had, of course, ordered the items destroyed after her apparent death, but the gorilla had had them safely stashed in his workshop, so he could give them back when she was safely anchored again.
It was mostly plushies, to Amelie’s surprise. Lena had, apparently, been a collector of them, and they were from all over the world. He couldn’t fit them all on the bed of course, there were simply too many, so they were soon taking up every available space around Lena’s bed, countertops, chairs, and a few even found their way onto Angela’s desk.
When Amélie had to leave for something, she began returning to find that someone had dropped in while she was gone and added another stuffed animal to the collection.
She caught Lucio carefully tucking a plush frog under Lena’s arm one day, and Hana got caught dropping off a bright pink raggedy-ann style rabbit the next, but both swore that they had only contributed the one plush, and Amélie was too busy watching over Lena to question anyone else.
A plush lion found its way to Lena's side, coinciding a bit too perfectly with the return of Reinhardt Wilhelm.
A small, beat up looking wolf plush showed up soon after, with mismatched eyes and a missing ear. Gabriel had nothing to say but grumbled that he found it under his bed.
Angela didn't even try to deny her involvement when a yellow parakeet plush ended up on Lena's heart monitor, carefully positioned there like some kind of guardian angel.
Amélie found herself growing emotional more than once, knowing that Lena would wake up to find that she had more allies than before and she would be safe now.
She could actually live and enjoy herself.
She didn't have to be afraid anymore. The thought made Amélie smile as she put her book down and rested her head on her arms, her eyes closing as she drifted off to sleep.
"Alright Oxton, moment of truth. Are you ready to make history?"
Amélie looked up from her book as the rest of the recruits and agents in the room erupted into cheers in response to the question.
Was something happening today?
"Aye-aye sir! Time to kick the tires and light the fires!"
The response got Amelie's attention. It sounded a lot like the girl she had bumped into a few weeks ago. She was a pilot then. She closed her book and set it down, her curiosity bringing her to the wall-to-ceiling windows that made up the wall of the common room. A lot of the off duty agents had already flocked to the windows and were murmuring in awe and delight as a sleek aircraft taxied out of the hangar and passed by the common room on its way to the takeoff strip. It was certainly an impressive craft, brand new.
When Amélie spotted the word "SlipStream" emblazoned on the side of the aircraft she remembered. Today was the day the experimental craft was to be tested. So the girl was the test pilot?
Inwardly she sighed. She had been hoping to run across the bubbly Brit again, perhaps have lunch and talk. She would definitely find it hard to make that happen now, with what would definitely be her instant fame upon landing. She wouldn't be available for even a second once this was over.
"Everything ready to go, Oxton? Done all your pre-flight checks?"
"'Course I did, three times! Everything's ready to go sir!"
Amélie was normally annoyed when they broadcasted over the intercom, but this was a nice break from the usual football game or drunken karaoke that was usually broadcasted.
"Well, don't let me stop you then. You're clear for takeoff!"
The aircraft was even more beautiful once it had left the ground. It easily pulled off all of the assigned maneuvers it was given, performing incredibly tight turns and dives and rolls while the entire common room gasped in wonder and awe. Amélie herself was speechless.
Amélie frowned as a different voice came over the intercom along with shuffling and whispered protests in the background.
"Listen, pilot. I've got the head of security here with us, and we want to impress him today, right?" The voice was gruff and Amélie already knew that she didn't like this man.
"I-of course sir? What can I do for ya?" Oxton's stammer clearly betrayed that this wasn't part of the plan and she was very confused. No one had announced any important visitors, and from the confused murmurs from the other agents, she hadn't simply missed an announcement.
"We need you to attempt a jump. You'll do that right?"
The entire common room fell silent.
"Hold on, today's just a flight test! Sir, I'm not approved to attempt a jump until next week!" The concern in Oxton's voice was evident as she protested. Everyone knew the slipstream schedule and everyone knew that the jump was likely going to be attempted without the pilot for their safety, with the craft being piloted from the control room.
"And I'm telling you that we have the head of security here and he wants results. I promised him a jump so you will perform a jump. Understood?"
There was silence, then Oxton slowly replied, "y-yes sir, of course. Can you give the comm back to the director please?"
The pilot was not comfortable, and was clearly stalling.
"Not necessary, Pilot. Now, initiate the jump."
"Listen Kid, you're gonna do as I say or I can promise you you'll never fly again. Understood? Now make. The. Jump."
Amélie could hear the protest in the background, audible shouts of protest, and then the pilot's meek, "y-yes sir. Initiating now."
Amélie could see the craft slowly circling back, and she watched it closely, her brow furrowing.
Silence, aside from the soft click of switches being flipping, and the controlled breaths of the pilot.
Then, suddenly, alarms.
"Something's wrong. Sir, these energy readings are way above what they told me. Permission to cancel?"
Amélie was certain that it would be granted. This wasn't just a routine flight, it was actual teleportation! Anything outside the engineer's carefully see parameters would more than justify calling it off.
"It's fine. Proceed."
"Sir! With all due respect this is not fine! The readings are going nuts!"
The pitch of her voice had begun to rise and the shaking of the cabin was now audible along with the alarms.
"Do as you're told and initiate the damn-"
There was the sound of a struggle, then the original speaker returned.
"Oxton you have permission to cancel, abort the jump, I repeat, abort the jump now."
The reply was not what Amélie had hoped for.
"Not sure that's possible, sir."
"No, I mean I can't stop this. Sir, the craft's coming apart. What do I do? I have no protocol for this!"
She was almost yelling now, clearly starting to panic but trying to hold on to that last shred of calm.
"Oxton if you can't abort you have to eject. Eject now!"
The pilot cut off with a very panicked sounding, "oh my god."
"Sir, my ha̜ ̤̭͈͕ͅ n ͚ d ͖̘̤̹ ! My hand went t̜̥̰h̺ ̗̪̤ͅ r̦̠o ͈̗ͅ u ̝͚͎͓ͅ g ͔̞ h̠ ͈̫͍͉̦ͅ ̪̣ ̖̩̺̯̬ ḭ ͓ t ͓͔̹͍̱ !̣ ̪ ̫̳̫̬̼ M̪ ͇͎ y̰̠̤̪ ̱̹ͅ hand's fading out!"
"Oxton stay calm, we'll figure this out!"
"S̻ ͕͉ ir ̙̞ ͔̺̻̜ I ͍̻͔ ' ͈̭̟ m ͍̻̣̮̩̳̬ ̘̪̙ ͎ s̥ ̳͓͚̯͖̝ c ͔̣̰ͅ ar̙e̮d̲̱̬̱ p ̳̟̟͈̱ l̞ea̘ ̗̘͕̫̻ s ͙̫̞̱͈̰͙ e̯ ͚̣͕̝ t̻̱̱ ͙͎͙ e̯ ͕̩̩͙ ll ̖̜͖͕ ̞̤m̭̝e ̳̳ ̰̝ ͚͚ w ̳̫̗̮ h̪ ͇͔ a ̫͚̹ t̼̪̱̪ ̰ ̳͔̫ to̬̮̣ ̩̻ͅ ̬̼ ͈̟̹͙̮ do! ͉͚̲ ̖̺̤͈̼ͅ I ͕ ̠̘̟ ͕̗ d̰ ̗͖̪͚̜ o ͎̺̠̣ n'̣ ͈̼̜̣ t̼̬̬ ͕̼̻̻̤̮ kn̘o ͇̣̘̫ ẉ ̳̣͎̯̟̼ͅ w ͎̪̭͉͙ h̟ ͎͇ at̙̦̙̜ ͇ͅ ̟̼t ̳̜̱̞̱ o ̳̳͍̪̫̰̣ ̭̣ ͓͎ͅͅ d ̳͔͉̫͙͚̙ o!̥̤ ̲̻Oh̼ ̺m̟ ͎̦ y̜̟ ͙̳ ̹ ͎̙̻̦͕̰ g ̳̗̪͕̙̘ o̲̤ ͓ d̤̘̮ ͖̱̞̦̯̠̗ p̝̪̠̤ ͈ l̹̟e̬̹ ̫̻͈͖ a̙s ͉ e ͙̻̺̰͈͙̠ ̟̞̮i̹t̬̬̹̘ ̗ hurts!"
Amélie could see the strange blue aura around the ship forming, an icy tendril of dread coiled in her gut as she watched the plane suddenly lurch and begin spiralling towards the ground.
That wasn't the worst of it. The worst part was hearing Oxton suddenly began screaming that it hurt, that her arms were gone, that she was scared and she didn't want to die. Her screaming cut off right before the plane hit the ground.
The impact was more than a mile away but everyone heard the sound of the explosion as the craft blew outward. Then the entire explosion sucked back in and imploded upon itself, leaving only a smoking crater in the ground.
"All communications have been lost. Send search and rescue."
"And you just had it under your bed!? Girl after my own heart!"
Amélie jerked her head up and blinked, startled, as the medical bay's door opened and Ana Amari strode in, talking animatedly with someone she faintly recognized.
She must have dozed off while reading. She wasn't particularly upset that her dream had been interrupted, however. She felt almost as shaken as she had when she witnessed the crash.
“Amélie! I see you’ve been enjoying the peace and quiet!” Ana greeted her, her smile fading slightly when she noticed Lena, still pale and motionless in her hospital bed. Angela had hooked up every monitoring device available to the poor girl once she was stable, keeping an eye on everything from her brain activity, to her heart rate, and even constantly monitoring the levels of glucose after they had dozed her with it to keep her energy levels up when she was still teetering from her collapse. She promised to remove the machines as soon as Lena no longer needed them.
“How is she? I heard what happened from Gabriel when I landed.” Ana inquired softly, as she padded across the room to stop at Lena’s bedside. Her arms were largely covered in tubes and her IV but Ana carefully put one hand over Lena’s and squeezed.
“She’s.... recovering. She’s in a coma but Angela says her brain activity suggests it won’t be too long till she regains consciousness. We nearly lost her, and she desperately needed the rest.”
“We’ll make sure she gets the treatment she needs, Amélie. She’ll be a lot safer now that Jack is gone and Gabriel and I are in command.”
Ana sighed, giving Lena’s hand a last squeeze before she changed the subject to something different, but no less serious.
“We were on our way back but we had to make a detour, an old “friend” wanted to have a little chat. But I’ll let my guardian angel tell you the story herself!” She grinned wickedly as her “guardian angel”, a very lost looking red haired woman quietly slipped into the room, holding onto what looked like a rifle case and looking around as Ana spoke.
When she first spoke, however, it wasn’t to recount a story.
“You're.. Lacroix right?"
"Oui. Amélie Lacroix. Have we met?"
"Kind of? My name is Emily Walsh, I grew up around base, my aunt worked with Uncle Gabe."
She sounded somewhat familiar, and after a moment of racking her brain Amélie figured out why.
"Emily? Oh yes, were you the one that was too afraid to come say hello?"
Emily blushed visibly and coughed, "Of course that’d be what you remember. Yeah, I had.. A bit of a crush."
Amélie chuckled as the redhead muttered to herself, still blushing.
"I believe you had a story to tell? I am all ears."
Emily nodded, and she set her case down on the nearby counter before she took a seat, getting comfortable.
"Alright, so I'd just gotten home to my flat with some takeout from my favorite Indian place, when I heard shouting outside.."
Settling into bed after the long walk to the shop was heaven. Emily groaned and stretched, kicking her socks off as she pulled the container of takeout to balance it on her stomach.
Everything was perfect.
So naturally it lasted all of ten seconds.
It wasn't out of the ordinary for people to yell this time of night. The walls were thin and sound carried easily. She was about to dig in when she realized that the yelling was way too aggressive to be just a domestic dispute. Sighing, she got up from the chair and walked over to the window. The street lamps were only just bright enough to illuminate the street below. The source of the racket seemed to be a grey haired, somewhat rugged looking older man sporting a still healing gash on his face. He was wearing some kind of military uniform and the shoulder patch was ripped off. He was yelling about "traitors" and "moles" and "liars". The target for his tirade looked to be a small dark skinned woman with equally grey hair. She couldn’t see the glint of any wedding bands, so probably not a married couple, and the woman looked so much smaller than the man who was getting more agitated by the second, so Emily was naturally worried. Emily couldn’t make out exactly what he was ranting about, other than what he was already spouting he was also yelling something about corruption and being betrayed. The man continued ranting as he lead the way down the alley opposite of her building. They must just be heading home then. Maybe they were married after all.
Emily was about to go back to her meal when she saw the man pull something from his belt, still yelling. When the light from the street lamps glinted off the object Emily's stomach dropped, and so did her box of takeout. That was a gun. This was serious. The man started waving it in the woman’s face, still ranting angrily.
She had to intervene. That woman was in real danger and Emily couldn't just stand and watch. She made up her mind and ran to her bed, lifting up the mattress to uncover the hidden case underneath, she quickly assembled her rifle and moved back to the window while putting a round in the chamber. Hopefully she wouldn't have to shoot.
By now, the woman had stopped, but the man was angrily walking in circles around her while waving the gun in the air. She had to move quickly. Emily clambered out onto the fire escape while the man’s back was to her, he wouldn't likely see her but her instincts told her to be cautious. She flicked the safety off and waited for the right moment. The next time his back was towards Emily, the woman turned to him and spoke up, and through her scope Emily saw a face that was set in a grim expression. Through her scope, Emily saw the woman’s remaining eye scan the area, perhaps searching for an escape route or a means to defend herself, before stopping on her momentarily. Emily tensed, but kept her finger off the trigger. The woman saw her. She saw Emily poised on her fire escape with a high powered rifle and somehow she remained calm before she turned her gaze back to the man. The man stopped briefly while she spoke but started walking and ranting again as soon as she stopped. As soon as he started walking, the woman’s eye locked on to Emily, then very slowly she turned around as he circled her, until her back was to Emily and she held up a palm behind her back, indicating she wanted Emily to hold off.
So she trusted her at least enough to think she'd follow such an order. Emily wanted nothing more than to shoot this man. She had a sick feeling in her stomach and her gut told her he was extremely dangerous.
The grey haired woman spoke up a few more times while the man more and more animated in his aggression, yelling into her face. Emily was starting to believe that the woman might manage to talk him down when his yelling quieted, but she was wrong to believe that. The man suddenly fell silent, as though he were contemplating something. That was a very bad sign. Slowly, and seemingly speaking through closed teeth he brought his gun up and aimed it to the woman’s head.
Oh no. Oh god no.
Emily moved her finger to the trigger, but the woman held up another hand behind her back, then mimed shooting her hand with the other, before holding up her palm again.
She still wanted her to wait?! Frustrated, Emily clenched her teeth but lined up her shot with the hand holding the gun, then waited for a signal. The two talked quietly for a few painful moments before they seemed to reach an impasse, and the man’s finger moved towards the trigger.
As soon as the man put his finger on the trigger, the woman mimed shooting a gun behind her back, and without hesitation Emily took the shot. As soon as the bullet connected and the sound reached them the woman turned towards Emily's building and started sprinting. The man dropped the mangled gun and clutched the remains of his hand to his chest while sneering after the woman. For a moment he seemed to be deciding between running after the woman or getting away, when the sound of sirens cut through the air.
Thank god for quick response police drones. The man bolted into a side passage, away from where the woman was running and out of her sight. Emily kept her gun trained on that alley for almost a minute, and when he didn't reappear she finally lowered it with a sigh of relief.
Emily scanned the ground below for the woman, and found her standing directly beneath the fire escape looking up at her. Now that she was closer and Emily got a better look at her face she seemed.. Familiar. And impatient. Emily flipped the gun’s safety back on then slung it over her shoulder before climbing down the ladder.
"That was a pretty good shot, child. Where did you learn to shoot?"
It wasn't the question Emily was expecting.
"Oh, I grew up on an Overwatch Watchpoint. Shooting is one of the first things my uncle taught me."
She saw the older woman's brows shot up, then she smirked. "Of course you did."
She finally recognized the woman and she almost squeaked.
"Wait, you're Ana Amari! You're the world's best sniper!"
Ana chuckled at Emily's excitement before she held out her hand, and Emily enthusiastically took it and shook.
"I was on my way back from a job when my old friend back there asked to meet up. As you can see, it went rather badly. I'm glad I had someone watching out for me, or my daughter would have been very cross."
"Mother what the hell are you doing out here! Why'd you leave me behind!?"
"Ah, speaking of the devil..."
"And she convinced me to come back for a debrief and asked me to help if needed, so here I am."
Emily stretched on her chair and yawned. She had to be tired, going from a regular night to saving a woman to flying to a watchpoint to now.
"I see. I suppose you'll be seeing Doctor Ziegler in the morning?"
"Yup, getting checked and making sure my shots are up to date and all that marvellous stuff. Who's your friend in the bed?"
Amélie glanced down at Lena and smiled softly, taking one of her hands before speaking.
"She is a friend I made recently. We just got her out of a bad situation, and she's just in rough shape."
She gently stroked the back of Lena's hand with her thumb, then jumped when the small hand in hers squeezed, and Lena made a soft, sleepy sound.
"Win.... ston...?" She whimpered, her eyelids fluttering. Amélie gently squeezed back, and she leaned forward to press a kiss to Lena's forehead.
"Winston is probably sleeping Lena, but he's working on something that will help you. You'll see him soon, I promise."
“Amé… No sleep.. Alone. Please…” The last word was barely more than a whisper
Amélie felt her eyes sting with unshed tears. Lena had never spoken to her in such a frail, vulnerable manner.
"Athena, may I take Lena back to my room for the night?" She asked without hesitation, and the ai replied immediately.
"Allow me to submit that request to Doctor Ziegler, one moment."
Lena finally managed to force her eyes open and she blinked at Amélie blearily. Amélie gave her hand another squeeze and smiled gently at her.
"The doctor has approved your request so long as Miss Oxton returns in the morning to have her vitals checked." Athena returned with the news and Amélie nodded, relieved.
"Lena Oxton huh? Why's that name sound familiar...?" Emily murmured to herself as Ana began to gently but firmly steer her out of the room.
"Angela can see us tomorrow. Let's let these two go get some rest."
Emily threw a timid smile over her shoulder, still a bit flushed, then they were gone. Amélie carefully detached the many tubes from Lena's arms with Athena assisting with turning them off, and she gently sat Lena up. She looked like she was falling asleep again, but as Amélie moved her she mumbled, "Bed... Amé...?"
"Yes, ma belle, I'm taking you to my room for the night."
"As long as you like."
Lena made a soft noise of relief and Amélie gently gathered the smaller woman into her arms. She still felt a little too warm, and was still so light even with the implant, and Amélie made it to her room in record time. The door opened automatically, thanks to Athena, and Amélie padded in. She set Lena down and gently tucked the girl in, only briefly leaving to get herself ready to sleep. Teeth brushed, face washed, and hair gathered into a loose braid, Amélie slipped into bed and smiled at Lena when she blinked at her in the darkness, her eyes faintly glowing. Of course they glowed. Amélie pressed a kiss to her forehead again and she felt Lena sigh against her neck.
"Good night, Lena, sleep well."
This chapter was a pain in the ass to finish. Thank Rhitta for the help completing it! I wouldn’t have managed without you!
As always, leave a comment if you enjoyed! I love getting feedback on what I can improve on!
Chapter 5: Flying Solo
Lena explored Gibraltar independently, and enjoys some of the things she didn't have during her time in Talon. She makes some small new friends.
A week later Lena finally emerged from Amélie’s room and to wander the base on her own for the first time.
After getting looked over by Doctor Ziegler and a very, very brief stop at the mess hall she had followed Amélie back to her room and had only ventured outside briefly while Amélie was moving her things.
After Lena ate, Amélie had been eager to get her back to bed, and had just finished doing that when she received a message from Gabriel to come see him.
He had not yet taken over Jack’s office, choosing to remain in his smaller one for the time being. When Amélie knocked he invited her in and didn’t waste any time with small talk.
“Since Lena is going to be staying with you you’ll need more space. Reinhardt has already cleared out one of the empty rooms on the third floor for you.”
The second floor was where most agents lived, in small but comfortable quarters. The third floor was where the agents with families on base usually lived, and the rooms were much larger and more luxurious.
“As long as you don’t mind cats, I suggest you move as soon as you can.”
Amélie hadn’t been too keen on the idea of moving Lena again so soon, but after some contemplation she had to admit her room was getting a little crowded. She didn’t want to disturb her when she was sleeping. Lena had, to her relief, slept through most of the moving process, only waking up when Amélie joined her in the much, much more spacious king sized bed and kissed her temple gently.
Amélie resisted all attempts to convince her to participate in missions, at least she did for a whole week. She didn’t want to leave Lena, and her refusal only became more adamant when Winston suddenly left to go see a colleague and discuss some parts of his work he was stumped on. He had reassured her that he would be back as soon as he could. Apparently, Lena’s anchor was functioning but only just enough to keep her grounded. He predicted he could improve her quality of life far more if he had additional help. That said, he was also going to be gone for a while. If Amélie left now who would watch Lena?
While her concern was valid she could only avoid her duties for so long. When Jack was spotted in Numbani and Gabriel personally requested her participation, she finally caved and agreed. She would be watching Emily and making sure she knew how to work within a group, and if all went well, she would only be gone for a few days.
It was the day after Amélie’s departure that Lena finally emerged from their shared room, out of a mixture of hunger, curiosity, and anxiety. She knew Amélie was off base, she was ok with that, but she felt the need to search for her regardless. The base was thankfully still largely empty, which meant that she could move around without much chance of running into anyone. It was still early in the morning after all, the perfect time to eat and slip away before the mess hall filled up.
She was wearing one of Amélie’s sweaters, far too big on her but also perfectly warm and comforting. It gave her enough courage to step outside their room, and it gave her just enough to push her way into the mess hall, before she could hesitate and change her mind.
The hall was mostly empty, with only a handful of agents sleepily eating or talking. Lena spotted an omnic floating in a corner, her eyes were drawn to the orbs that were floating slowly about its neck. When it looked up she ducked her head and shuffled towards the kitchen, where Amélie told her she could eat in peace and avoid attention. She felt the omnic’s gaze on her the entire time.
Luckily there was only one person in the kitchen. Unfortunately, it was Ana Amari.
“Up and about, Lena? It’s good to see that you’re recovering finally.” The older woman said, as she sat down at the small table that Lena knew she was going to have to also sit at, pouring some boiling water from the kettle she had just retrieved from the stove. Lena swallowed thickly and tried to summon up the will to nod, but she felt frozen.
“Are you hungry? I’m sure we have plenty of leftovers for you to choose from. Just be careful, some of it’s very spicy.” Ana continued, “but if you’re more interested in something simple, there’s packets of oatmeal in the cupboard and instant-Ramen on top of that cabinet.”
Oatmeal sounded good. Lena shuffled awkwardly past the middle aged woman, to the cupboard she had pointed out, carefully opening it and retrieving the mentioned packet of dry oatmeal.
When she sat and emptied the contents into a bowl she was surprised when Ana added water for her from the kettle.
“You still look tired, did you sleep well last night?”
Lena wasn’t able to meet Ana’s gaze, or tell her that honestly, she was always tired. She was too shy, so she looked down at her bowl and bit her lip, before she managed a tiny nod.
“That’s good. We were all rather worried about you.”
Lena just wanted to eat and then leave. She didn’t want to talk or listen, she just wanted to go back to Amélie’s room and curl up in bed for the rest of the day.
“Have you been out to the gardens yet? You’d like it, it’s very quiet.”
Lena almost grimaced. Why couldn’t anyone just leave her be? Someone was always trying to fuss over her or tend to her and unless it was Amélie she didn’t want anything to do with them. She couldn’t just leave without eating, it wasn’t just rude, she needed to keep herself fed. She didn’t need to eat constantly anymore, but she still needed to eat more often than the average person. Honestly the oatmeal probably wasn’t enough to satisfy her.
Ana had fallen silent, thankfully, and was simply watching Lena eat as she sipped her tea, something Lena was immensely grateful for.
“Just put the bowl by the sink when you’re done.”
Lena nodded meekly and once she was finished she did so, wrapping Amélie’s hoodie around herself tightly as she shuffled out.
She was just in time. The mess hall was starting to fill up and she didn’t want to be there any longer than necessary.
She jumped a little when the door opened and two men walked in, or one man and an omnic? She couldn’t tell but there was something about the more cybernetic of the two that made her uneasy.
The feeling, apparently, was mutual. When their gazes met, just briefly, the man(omnic?) grabbed the other’s shoulder and physically stopped him, much to the second man’s obvious confusion. Lena averted her gaze and hurried around them, feeling their eyes follow her until she was safely out of the mess hall. Her legs were shaking and she felt a bit dizzy.
Why had he stopped the other man and physically moved him away from her?
She hadn’t felt like she was in danger, but she certainly felt wary of that strange man. Even though she couldn’t see his face his anger was visible.
She was about to shuffle off down the hall to Amelie’s room, when she was again startled, this time by a happy beeping and the heavy clanking of a machine walking. When she paused, confused, an old, weathered bastion unit stomped around the corner and towards a door clearly marked, “garden”.
Ana did say that it was quiet....
She hadn’t been outside properly in a very long time. Feeling the sun on her face and the wind in her hair was strange to her. Whenever she had been in the field with Talon she was fully covered in armor and she couldn’t feel the wind or the warmth of the sunlight. It was almost enough to make her lie down right there on the grass and sleep.
The garden was impressive, for a military watchpoint. It was big enough that it had a few large trees, a walkway and several benches, and a bridge over a small stream. It was beautiful. The edges of the garden were separated into smaller beds with names above each section, indicating that some agents actively tended to the flora here.
Lena’s exploration of the garden halted momentarily when she spotted the bastion unit sitting under a tree a few yards away, a little yellow bird perched on the fingertips of its one hand. It was seemingly communicating with it through trills and beeps.
What an odd omnic...
Lena, having realized that the bastion was probably not a threat, wandered towards the far end of the garden, towards a very large tree. It seemed like a good idea to sit under it.
She hadn’t been out of containment for anything besides training and missions when she was with Talon, and she certainly wasn’t allowed the privilege of sitting under a tree and enjoying the sunlight.
The tree was obviously old, and the rough bark dug into her back when she sat against it, though it wasn’t a bad feeling. She found that she rather enjoyed the warmth and the fresh air, something she had not been able to feel before with her helmet and armor. It felt nice.
She let her head tip back and inhaled deeply, then exhaled, listening to the breeze as it rustled through the tree branches and feeling the grass under her hands. Everything felt new and unusual.
She had not been planning to fall asleep, but she must have. When she opened her eyes, the sun had moved in the sky, and it looked to be closer to early evening than late morning.
Noticing a weight on her lap, she looked down and found her lap being used by a very small dragon, one she recognized.
She didn’t remember much when she had collapsed, but she had remembered seeing two small blue dragons standing over her anxiously and chittering at her. It had brought her some comfort before she had lost consciousness. It seemed that these strange creatures had returned, perhaps to check on her for themselves.
The second dragon was sleeping next to her, it’s long body coiled around a small bag that hadn’t been there before. It looked like some sort of lunchbox inside of a brown paper bag. She carefully picked it up and a small note slipped out, drifting down to land on the grass. Lena quickly retrieved it and read it, realizing that it was from Ana. It wasn’t a surprise, after all, the older woman was one of the few people that had ever managed to nearly sneak up on her in the field.
The small note read, “I know you don’t trust people, and that you prefer to be left alone, but if you ever need anything just let me know. You still looked hungry when you left so I made you something. It isn’t as spicy as it smells, I promise.”
Upon closer inspection Lena discovered that it was warm to the touch.
Was there really food inside? Despite all of her instincts telling her not to open it, that it could be a trap, Lena let her curiosity get the better of her. She popped open the lid and was immediately hit by the smell of spices. Her stomach responded with a loud gurgle, and she felt any resolve she had crumble instantly.
The curry was amazing, and she had no trouble inhaling the entire thing. When she finished and set the box down the dragon in her lap shifted and sniffed, before it slithered over to the still open box to investigate. Lena didn’t want to scare them away, so she quietly watched as the two dragons began to lick the last few grains of rice up, before they began to wander about nearby. Perhaps their curiosity was sated.
Lena was about to resume napping when she heard the dragon’s begin to squeak excitedly. Opening her eyes she found them bouncing back across the lawn with a stick, each dragon holding onto one of the ends. It seemed they weren’t finished with her yet.
Did they want her to play?
It couldn’t hurt to ask.
The dragon’s seemed to grow even more excited at the mention of the game, bouncing and squeaking loudly as she reached for the stick. They let go as soon as she gave it a gentle tug, jumping backwards and watching her as she slowly wound up, then threw it.
She wasn’t strong enough to throw it very far, but the dragon’s didn’t seem to mind, tripping over each other as they both tried to beat the other to the stick and bring it back.
Lena threw it a few more times, and despite how quickly she was tiring out she found that she was actually enjoying herself. The little dragon’s were doing a good job of cheering her up.
Lena jumped, caught off guard when someone spoke. She had been so absorbed in the game that she hadn’t heard anyone approaching.
“She is just playing with them, brother. They seem to have taken a liking to her. They’re my dragons and I will investigate if I wish to.”
Lena almost dropped the stick when she saw how close the two men had gotten, staring at them in shock. How had they gotten so close!?
The man with the faceplate sighed, his shoulders falling with the motion, before he turned to the omnic floating nearby. Apparently Lena wasn’t very observant anymore, because everyone was able to sneak up on her today.
“Don’t forget who that is, brother, or what she did to you. I will not forgive as easily as you seem to want to.”
The other man, Hanzo, snorted and responded in a less than friendly manner.
“Yes, we all know that you of all people never forgive anyone.”
The second man flinched, but didn’t reply to the verbal jab.
Lena contemplated bolting for the entrance to the watchpoint, and going back to Amélie’s room. It seemed like a good idea. The dragons had returned to their owner, chittering at him excitedly. Now was her chance to make her escape.
She quickly closed the lunchbox and tucked it back into the paper bag, standing and trotting towards the door as quickly as she could. A glance back found the man standing there with the dragons in his arms, watching her go with an unreadable expression. He made no move to pursue her, though, and she made it inside and back to Amélie’s room without running into anyone else. She put the lunch box on the kitchen counter to wash later and she sighed heavily, the exertion of the day starting to catch up with her.
She would probably never be able to adjust to life outside of Talon completely. She trudged into the bedroom and flopped down on the bed face first, before she pulled one of her plushies to her chest and curled around it.
When Amélie got back it would be better. She could have someone to spend time with and she didn’t have to force herself outside just to eat.
When Amélie came back she would be fine.
Welcome to chapter 5 everybody! Me and Rhitta have been really working on this chapter so I hope you like it!
Remember to leave a comment, let us know how the chapter made you feel! Was there anything you liked in particular? Anything you think we could improve on? Let us know!
Chapter 6: Blinded by Smoke
Amélie tells Emily a little more about Lena and Emily has a realization that results in a lot of guilt.
Lena continues to wait for Amélie to return, and tries to go unnoticed as best she can. She makes a new friend, which has unintended consequences.
The mission was going well, at least so far. Amélie’s concerns about Emily’s skill as a sniper were quickly put to rest as she took down two Talon lackeys with two well placed shots. Now however, the fighting had moved indoors and out of range, so Amélie simply kept an eye out and observed her companion whenever she saw a chance to take a shot.
It was an easy mission, but it was also boring. Jack hadn’t turned up, and the resistance from Talon had been minimal. She was looking forward to heading home to see Lena.
“How much longer do you think they’ll be sweeping buildings? Haven’t seen movement for a few hours.” Emily grumbled to herself, settling back to drink some water as Amélie chuckled.
“As long as they need. Once they give us the all clear we’ll be heading straight back to the watchpoint.”
Emily seemed satisfied with that answer, leaning back against the wall and sighing.
“Eager to get home to your girlfriend?”
Amélie almost choked on her own water, spluttering and coughing and glaring at the redhead.
“She isn’t my girlfriend...” it was mostly true. She wasn’t actively dating Lena, but they did spend nearly all of her on-base time together and they slept in the same bed. It made sense that people would start to wonder.
“She’s been through some terrible things, her mind is.... it’s badly affected by what she went through. She needs someone to make her feel safe. I’m not dating her and even if I was Angela would probably protest. She isn’t in any condition to be dating.”
Amélie saw the redhead’s expression change from a teasing smirk to surprise, then guilt.
“I’m.... I’m sorry. I didn’t realize.... what actually...?”
Amélie sighed. “Lena was taken seven years ago after a test flight with the RAF went wrong. She was disconnected from her own timeline and despite our best efforts she was snatched up by Talon. Her mind was broken and they turned her into one of their assassins, and forced her to do their bidding. We only rescued her recently and so much abuse has been directed at her even after she was safely at Gibraltar. All I want is for her to get the kindness I was shown, especially after I learned that she was left to die while they prioritized my rescue. She deserved so much more.”
Amélie trailed off, moving to check for any movement through her scope. It was still silent, and she was desperate for something to do, or Talon grunts she could shoot while pretending they were Jack. Anything to get home faster.
“So that’s why she disappeared....”
Amélie glanced at Emily, who looked to be stuck between shock and horrible realization.”
Emily pulled her knees up to her chest, hugging them with a sigh.
“We... were thinking about dating.... before she disappeared. I was already in London by then and when she dropped off the map I just assumed she had lost interest and ghosted me.”
Emily presses her lips together and a soft sniffle escaped her despite her efforts to remain silent. “I sent some awful texts to her after.... and she didn’t do anything wrong.”
Lena hadn’t touched her phone since it was returned to her. She just wasn’t interested in it. When Amélie gave the device a once-over, it was blank. Jack had to have had it wiped after Lena vanished. There was no way Lena could pick up her phone and find those messages now.
“If it’s any consolation, she won’t ever see those texts. She doesn’t use her phone now, and it was wiped when she went missing.”
Emily had buried her face in her arms, the occasional tremor going through her shoulders. She nodded, but she still seemed upset.
“How much does she remember?” She asked quietly, and Amélie didn’t miss the almost hopeful tone in her voice.
“We haven’t asked her yet, to be honest. She is so withdrawn into herself that we figured she needed a lot of time to recover before we began questioning her.”
“I think that we should be able to move on now. Let’s go see if we’re needed any further.”
Emily did not speak again until they were on the orca, Amélie was partway through disassembling her rifle when she spoke up. Her voice trembled just a bit but when Amélie looked over at her her face was set in a determined expression.
“I know me and Lena never really got involved romantically, but she was such an amazing woman and I want to help her recover, if you’ll let me.”
Amélie smiled, her reply coming quickly and easily. “Of course, she needs people to rely on, and I know you cared for her a great deal. Of course you can help.”
Emily smiled, looking immensely relieved. She sat down on one of the orca’s seats and laid her rifle across her lap, beginning to disassemble it as they waited for the ok to fly out. The sooner they got home to Lena, the better.
Emily could help Lena feel safer, and she could help to make her feel happy again. She certainly needed all the help she could get.
Lena was beginning to realize that if they wanted to, her new dragon friends could materialize anywhere. Even on Amélie’s bed at two in the morning. She had been rather terrified at first. They had been the size of small dogs the first time she met them, as well as the second. Today they were much bigger, more close in size to greyhounds or lions now and very heavy.
Once she got over the shock of two large animals dropping onto the bed and snuggling up to her like house cats she had quickly fallen asleep again. Their warmth and affection was soothing to her frayed mind and she felt more at ease with them around. With them wrapped around her she had no trouble sleeping until a much more reasonable hour.
She woke up at around nine am, completely surrounded by the two dragons who seemed very reluctant to get up and let her get on with her day. They whined, huffed, and they even gave her big round puppy eyes, but she didn’t give in to their pleading.
Besides, she really had to pee, and one of them had been lying directly on her bladder.
She felt grimy, but even a glance at the shower made her tremble, and she again put it off at least till Amélie was back. She brushed her teeth and washed her face to at least feel a little less unwashed, and she grabbed some of the clothes Winston had given her, insisting they were hers. They did fit her, so maybe they were indeed hers. She didn’t remember them but they were very loud and honestly she did like them.
The dragons seemed to understand the concept of privacy, waiting patiently outside the bedroom until she had changed and walking with her to the door. It seemed she would have company today.
Breakfast was the next item on her list, as well as returning the lunchbox Ana had left for her. She didn’t know if it was meant for her or not, so she would try to return it.
Maybe she would try the instant ramen today. Hopefully it would be more filling than the oatmeal she had the day before. If Ana ended up stealthily providing more food for her it didn’t matter either way.
The dragons kept pace with her as she made her way down the hall, not seeming to care that they were taking up most of the hall with their long bodies. They were more focussed on keeping as close to Lena as possible.
She was relieved to find the mess hall completely empty, despite the time. Normally it would be full at nine thirty, and she would have to wait until it emptied out before she could go eat. The dragons paced along after her as she made her way into the kitchen, sitting next to the table to watch her try to get enough of a meal together.
Someone must have restocked the kitchen, there was a lot more food now than before. She could make something if she wanted to, but she was still aware that touching or handling a knife would probably be a bad idea when she was still so fresh out of Talon. Best to avoid that.
She was sitting with her bowl of instant ramen when Ana wandered in. There was no way that she was just arriving now, she had to have come to see if Lena was awake.
“Good morning Lena! I see you’ve made some friends.” She greeted the former assassin gently, and gave each of Hanzo’s dragons a respectful nod, before she noticed the empty lunchbox.
“I see you liked what I made you yesterday! I’ll have something else for you later if you want. I just got a new knife set that I’ve been dying to try out. How do you feel about sushi?”
Lena had no idea how she felt about sushi. She gave a meek shrug, watching as Ana plucked the lunchbox off the table and tucked it under her arm.
“If you don’t like it I’ll make you something else, alright?”
Lena nodded, trying once again to form a response, and failing.
“Do you have any plans today? Or will you just be going out to the garden again?”
Lena tried again to speak, this time managing but only just.
“Gotta see.... Angie....”
The efforts left her feeling embarrassed and almost emotional, until she caught Ana smiling at her.
“That’s good, she mentioned some bloodwork she wanted to do, so she’ll be happy to see you.” She looked incredibly pleased that Lena had actually spoken to her. She made a bit of small talk, and each time Lena managed a response she smiled gently, giving her silent praise. It was nice. When Lena began to eat she took her leave, and Lena felt rather proud of herself for managing to interact better. It was progress.
“So, how have you been feeling, Lena? Anything feel off or wrong?” Doctor Ziegler inquired as she set the empty vials and the needle she was about to use on the tray next to the bed. Lena shook her head, slowly shrugging off the hoodie she had nicked out of Amélie’s closet. She let Angela take her arm and sterilize the skin on the inside of her elbow.
“Still so thin.... Hopefully Winston is right and he’ll be able to stabilize you properly, you could do with gaining a few pounds.” The doctor murmured as she found a vein. “This will pinch a little. Try to relax.”
The dragons, who had been lying at the foot of the bed, looked up when Lena flinched, and they sat up, making concerned rumbling noises.
“Lena is alright, it will only pinch for a minute.” Angela reassured them, which didn’t get them to lie back down but their rumbles quieted a little.
“Hanzo isn’t much of a people person. You must be special if his dragons are so drawn to you.”
Lena nodded absentmindedly, watching as Angela got everything set up and the first vial began to fill with blood.
“I suspect you’ll still show signs of malnutrition, so I prepared some emergency rations of a sort for you. If you ever feel hungrier than usual just have one of the bars in the bag I’m going to give you. They taste.... well... they’re interesting, but they’ll give you a boost and keep your nutrient levels as close to normal as possible.”
Lena nodded again, as Angela finished with the last vial and set it aside, before gently removing the needle. She covered the tiny puncture wound with a small bandage and stepped back with a smile.
“There, all done. I would do a full physical but I would prefer having Amélie here so you have a friend with you. Physicals can be somewhat invasive and I would prefer to wait until she can accompany you.”
Another nod. Angela handed her the backpack with the nutrient bars, and Lena wandered off, intending to head to the garden, her dragon companions trailing behind.
The garden was mostly empty, with only the bastion and its bird once again. Lena found her spot from the day before empty and she settled in for an afternoon of enjoying the sun and the fresh air. The dragons curled themselves around her and she couldn’t resist giving one of them a shy pat on the head. They were really nice animals, and she found herself wishing that she had some of her own. She would have to send them back to their master if he needed them and the thought made her feel a little bit lonely. She relaxed against the tree and watched as the bastion helped its little bird friend look for bugs in the grass, her eyes falling half lidded as she absorbed the warmth from the sun and her companions.
Ana kept her word and came out to see her, dropping off the box and a pair of chopsticks. Lena gave her a small thank you as she turned to leave, then curiously opened the box she had left. She had never seen sushi before, at least she didn’t remember seeing it, but the sight of the contents of the lunchbox made her mouth water. It took a moment to figure out the chopsticks but as soon as she had gotten the hang of hem she selected a piece and popped it into her mouth.
The flavour was a lot milder than she expected. The textures were more noticeable, with the mild sour and sweet flavours taking a backseat. The rice she certainly liked, it tasted warm and starchy, like freshly baked bread.
The dragons watched, and out of curiosity, Lena offered each of them one. Their faces lit up at the offering and they accepted with loud rumbling purrs of delight.
Lena ate a few, then gave each of the dragons one, which they seemed more than okay with. She was about halfway finished when she heard a soft chirp and looked up to see a third dragon looking at her food longingly.
This one was different from the other two. It was green and it had a bit more fur. It was also rather chubby. It took a step closer, and Lena carefully offered it a piece of her food. It shied away when she moved, evidently not as friendly and trusting as the other two, but when Lena made no move to approach it, the smaller dragon inched closer, stretching its neck out to try and grab the sushi from further away. Lena didn’t move out of fear of startling it, not even when it suddenly snatched the treat from her chopsticks and scurried back a few yards with a hiss. If anything it was very cute.
The green dragon wolfed down the piece of sushi and sniffed around a bit before it’s attention turned back to Lena, who had already eaten another piece, given the other two one, and was offering another. It’s nose wrinkled and it tiptoed over again, this time accepting the offering much more delicately and sitting a few feet away to eat it. Once done, Lena offered another. It sat on her foot and nibbled on its gift, before it seemed to lose all fear of her and clambered over the larger dragons to sniff Lena’s face. When she offered it another piece of sushi it let her pet it while it ate, then it curled up on her chest and purred, stretching. Lena finished her meal and leaned her head back against the tree, wondering if she should nap or try playing fetch with the smaller dragon. Her thoughts evaporated though when she heard voices.
“You know you have to take them back eventually.”
“And I will. But they are helping her and she feels safe with them. They are very fond of her.”
The brothers’ voices were joined by a third, warm and metallic and seemingly amused by their discussion.
“Perhaps we should invite her to meditate with us. I sense she has suffered a great deal, and she is still suffering under her own guilt and uncertainty. Perhaps it would prove beneficial for her to join us.”
Lena slowly sat up, catching the smaller dragon when it began to slide down with a squeak.
Lena didn’t hear the man approaching, so when he suddenly appeared and snatched the small dragon out of her arms she was extremely startled and frightened.
“Don’t ever touch my dragon again you monster! I won’t let you hurt her like you hurt my brother!”
Lena was frozen in place, her eyes wide and rapidly filling with tears. She felt paralyzed, her chest felt tight and it was starting to hurt.
Hanzo grabbed his brother’s shoulder and pulled him back, his face filled with anger and shock.
Before Genji could react to his brother’s protest or yell at Lena again the two dragons twined around her let out a bellow and began to grow in size, baring their teeth and snarling at him. They evidently did not approve of his decision to frighten the girl and they made their feelings known.
While the cyborg was distracted Lena managed to regain her senses and stumbled to her feet, bolting for the door as quickly as she could. She heard Hanzo yelling at his brother and the dragon’s roaring, but she didn’t dare turn back. She had to hide. She had to disappear until she was safe again. She had to hide.
“Brother! Control your dragons!” Genji snapped as he tried to keep a hold of his own, cursing under his breath as Soba squirmed wildly.
“You frightened someone they care about, brother. The consequences of your actions are yours to bear. You didn’t need to do that.”
“I’m afraid I have to agree with your brother, Genji.” The omnic monk floated over to them, the orbs about his neck spinning quickly as he spoke. “You have acted rashly and thoughtlessly. She has shown no inclination nor wish to harm anyone, your words, born of fear, were cruel and unnecessary”
Hanzo had started walking towards the doors while the omnic spoke, his dragons following after they shrank back to their former size.
“Hanzo? Where are you going?”
The elder brother paused, one hand on the door.
“To fix your mistake.”
He slipped inside, the door softly clicking shut behind him.
I'm somehow maintaining a schedule despite being back at university! Ain't that swell!
As always, let me and Rhitta know how we did this chapter! What did we do well? What could we improve on? Do you have any suggestions for the future of the story? Let us know!
Chapter 7: The Mountaintop
Lena seeks refuge after fleeing the garden. Hanzo comforts her as best he can. Lena experiences something she will never forget, and gains two powerful new allies.
Lena didn’t think, she just ran. She ran until her legs burned and she found a familiar space. A place she felt safe.
Amelie’s old room was empty but it was dark and she didn’t hesitate to tuck herself into the closet and curl up, hugging her knees and beginning to sob uncontrollably.
What did she do wrong? She caught the dragon before it could fall, she didn’t hurt it. It had even been purring. She didn’t understand what she did to cause its master to lash out at her.
Her chest hurt. She hadn’t cried in Talon, at least not after the implant, and she was quickly realizing that it really, really hurt. She clutched at her chest and tried to bring her sobbing under control, managing to ease from sobs to pained hiccups before she curled up again, burying her face in her arms.
Why wasn’t Amélie back yet? She needed her now. She was alone and she was scared. She didn’t want to get hurt again.
She flinched when she heard a soft grumble, and one of the two blue dragons poked its head into the closet, sniffing at her before it tried to cram its long body inside with her.
“I suspected you’d go somewhere familiar.”
Lena jumped and cowered against the wall, trying to make herself as small as possible.
“I won’t hurt you. The dragons are mine and they are very fond of you, so I have no reason to be angry with you.”
Lena sniffed and glanced up tearfully as Hanzo kneeled next to the closet. He didn’t look angry, not at all. He looked rather sad, honestly.
“I wish to apologize for my brother’s behaviour. I know you weren’t going to hurt Soba, and his reaction was uncalled for.” He seemed sincere, at least. Lena slowly turned herself to face him, and the second dragon poked its head over its master’s shoulder, making some rumbling noises at him.
She heard a faint whispering and felt a shiver run down her spine. She couldn’t make out the words, the voices being far too faint. Hanzo had gone quiet, seemingly also listening to the whispers. Lena could make out two distinct voices that seemed to speak depending on which dragon was making the rumbling noise.
They can talk?
Hanzo was looking at them with an expression that she couldn’t read. His brow was slightly furrowed, mouth just slightly open as though processing some difficult riddle. He looked at her, then at them, then at her again.
“... are you certain?” He said softly, and the dragon’s rumbled in reply. He sighed, taking a moment to pinch the bridge of his nose with his flesh hand before looking at her intently.
“...can you hear them..?”
Lena swallowed and looked away, unable to muster up an answer. She didn’t know this man. She didn’t know his intentions. She wasn’t ready to try to speak to him.
“Very well, if you want to be left alone, I will leave. Don’t listen to Genji if he yells at you again, he is just blinded by anger and fear. He does not understand that you’re trying to better yourself.”
She almost expected him to put a hand on her shoulder, but he didn’t. He seemed far more respectful of her personal boundaries than his brother. She rested her head on her arms and tried to slow her breathing as he got up, and she listened to him padding away from her, out of the room and down the hall. One dragon went with him, and one remained curled around her protectively, rumbling and nosing at her face gently.
She ought to head back to Amélie’s room. She would sleep better there than if she remained here. She wiped her eyes on her forearm and slowly pushed herself up, making her way to the door. It wasn’t a very long walk, but she was so very tired. The dragon gently nosed at her back, urging her onward, down the hall, up the stairs and to Amélies room. But her body felt so very heavy….
She didn’t make it inside. She remembered lowering herself to the floor, the cold tile against her cheek, then nothing.
Lena didn’t usually have pleasant dreams. Her dreams were usually a blur of distorted faces, fragments of memories and loud bangs or screams.
She wasn’t exactly sure what was going on when she ended up in a misty forest devoid of any sound, save for the whispers she could faintly hear on the breeze.
The trees looked like cherry trees, but the leaves were dying or dead, fluttering soundlessly and constantly falling. The bark was rough and gnarled under her hand when she approached and touched one of the trees, the roots threatened to trip her up with every other step. It almost seemed as though the forest was trying to make progress difficult for her. The grass, too, was tangled and seemed to drag her down every time she took a step.
She wasn’t frightened, though. It felt more like she was being tested rather than that the forest was actively trying to hurt her. There was no path, so she had to make her own, and she had to overpower the forest itself to do it.
She could see the fog dancing in the slight breeze, the wisps of fog always moving in the same direction, as if pointing the way. Whenever she did not follow the breeze, the trees seemed to slowly draw together and the fog got denser, as if to block her path. As soon as she turned to follow the breeze again, the fog lightened, allowing her to see something rising out of the mist ahead of her. With her goal now clear, the trees seemed to pull back, content to merely make passage difficult as they had before.
The grass soon gave way to stones and boulders as the incline she was moving along steepened, and more often than not her attempts to use the rock for traction resulted in the rocks detaching and rolling away rather than supporting her. This was most definitely a test of some sort. The reason was unknown but the challenge was there and she found herself growing more determined the harder it got.
The rocks were sharper than they looked and she quickly found herself bleeding from a multitude of small wounds littering her palms. She merely grit her teeth and moved on, only stopping to wiping the blood on her clothes to ensure she could maintain her grip. When she noticed her attire was different than when she had laid down she paused, taking a moment to look down at herself.
The simple soft shirt and pyjama pants were replaced by a loose white tunic and pants held up by a simple sash. She was wearing simple leather sandals that somehow remained intact despite being subjected to the sharp rocks. They were the same dull brown as the trees and leaves, and her clothes were clean despite her wiping her hands on them multiple times.
A low rumble made her look up, and she spotted movement further up the mountain, at the very top. She had a long way to go.
The passage of time was an uncertain thing, wherever she was. There was no sun and the sky was a sullen grey, with even darker clouds that seemed to radiate from the mountaintop itself. This was not normal, yet it wasn’t frightening. She just felt compelled to reach the top.
The higher she climbed the sharper the rocks became, and the more injured her hands became. When she reached a small cliff and stopped to examine her injuries and clean them in a small stream, the water soothed her pain despite her not being able to feel the water at all. When she pulled her hands out of the water all that remained of her wounds were the small white scars that had been open and bleeding moments before.
Lena wisely tore strips from her tunic and wrapped them around her hands before continuing. Her decision made climbing slightly easier, despite the sharp rocks still nicking her fingertips occasionally. The pain was simply another obstacle she overcame.
The air seemed much thinner the higher she got, something she found funny since the rest of this odd place didn’t seem to obey the laws of earth at all. It also may have been the thin air making her dizzy.
She could feel the low rumbles now, the sound travelling down through the rocks and up through her hands. It was like a summons, a call for her and her alone to answer. She ignored the soreness in her arms and the sharp pain as her hands slid over the blade like rocks, her only desire was to get to the top.
By the time she finally hauled herself over the final edge and lay on her back panting, her entire body was burning from her exertions. This didn’t feel like a dream, she was still as weak as before, and the climb had taken nearly everything out of her.
Lena felt the words more than she heard them, it sounded like the voice was in her head, thundering through her like three hundred heartbeats. The voice felt immense, powerful. Like the earth shattering roar of a landslide obliterating everything in its path. It felt old, very old, yet patient.
She slowly sat up and grimaced at her hands, pulling the strips of cloth off and stuffing them into her pockets. Something in her told her that littering on this mountaintop would be a bad idea.
She gathered her legs under her and stood, taking a few steps into the swirling mist as she searched for the source of the voice.
“IT HAS BEEN MANY A YEAR SINCE A SHIMADA HAS SET FOOT IN OUR REALM. EVEN LONGER SINCE ONE DARED SET FOOT UPON THIS SACRED MOUNTAIN. WHAT BRINGS ONE HERE NOW?”
Lena swallowed thickly as a huge form rose out of the mist, dirt and stone rolling off its back as though it had not moved in centuries. It was covered in a combination of gleaming bronze scales and fur.
“I SENSE RESIDUAL MAGIC ON YOU HATCHLING. THE MAGIC OF OUR DESCENDANTS.”
The massive dragon lowered its head to look at her more closely, golden eyes staring into her. She nodded, not sure if it was ok to look away.
“They’re my.... friends....”
The dragon blinked, then suddenly it seemed to realize something and jerked its head back.
“YOU ARE NOT A SHIMADA? HOW HAVE YOU MADE IT TO THIS PLACE WITHOUT BEING OF THEIR BLOODLINE?"
“They.... sleep near me...” was all Lena could offer as an explanation. She had no idea how she had ended up here. The massive spirit blinked slowly, as another head rose beside it, this one a brilliant gold in colour with the same amber eyes.
“OUR DESCENDANTS SEE YOU AS WORTHY. THEY HAVE CHOSEN YOU, AND AIDED YOU IN REACHING OUR REALM. AND YOU HAVE FOUND YOUR WAY TO US, CONQUERING ALL THE TRIALS WE PUT IN YOUR PATH.”
The dragons lowered their heads again and Lena could feel the heat from their breaths as they looked at her with warm, patient eyes.
“WE CHOSE TO SERVE THE SHIMADA BLOODLINE MANY YEARS AGO, BEFORE THEY TURNED TO CRIME AND DEATH TO FURTHER THEIR GOALS. WE WOULD NOT MAKE THAT MISTAKE WITH ANOTHER BLOODLINE.”
Lena slowly sank to her knees and felt her body beginning to tremble. She felt overwhelmed.
“YOUR MEMORY IS FRACTURED BUT WE SEE MURDER AND VIOLENCE IN YOUR PAST. ACTIONS WE DO NOT WISH TO SEE REPEATED.”
Lena pulled her knees to her chest, burying her face in her arms as she let out a soft sob. She couldn’t look at them anymore.
“I.... I didn’t want to..... I didn’t want to..... no more....”
The dragons fell silent, and Lena felt their eyes boring into her. She rocked back and forth and refused to look at them, out of both guilt and shame.
“Oh little one...”
The change in the dragon's voice caught Lena by surprise, she could feel their concern and.. Understanding?
“You were made a pawn in a cruel game, bereft of choice and free will. Yet.. Your soul has remained pure. True. Despite all you have been through. We would offer our protection, should you desire it.”
Lena could feel them moving, curling their massive bodies around the space she occupied with surprising delicacy before she slowly looked up at them.
“You.... you’ll protect me...?”
“With our very lives, should you permit it. You and any descendants you may have, until your bloodline is no more.”
The dragons were looking at her with the same gentle expression as before. They were so warm….
“I… I’d like that….” she said, her voice trembling a little.
“Are you certain, hatchling? Once we are bound, there will be no going back. We will forever be with you. A part of you.”
Lena nodded, and she said, louder this time, “Yes. I.. I accept.”
The dragons drew back, their bodies coiling tightly about the mountain.
“THEN LET IT BE SO.”
The dragons’ bodies tightened, squeezing the mountain until it began to split and crack. Lena tried to keep her balance, only to fall when the mountain seemed to evaporate into mist, the dragons dancing around her in the air as she fell.
“WE ARE ONE, AND FROM THIS DAY FORTH WE SERVE YOU.”
The dragons wrapped their bodies around her as she fell, and everything seemed to fade into mist.
Lena groaned, slowly clawing her way out of her trance and forcing her eyes open. She felt exhausted, but her body was buzzing with energy at the same time.
Lena tensed as Hanzo looked down at her from his place in the hall next to her. His dragons were curled around Lena like a living nest, purring as she slowly sat up.
“My dragons alerted me that you passed into the spirit realm three hours ago. How are you feeling? What did you see?”
Lena swallowed, then she slowly turned herself to face him, the loose hoodie that had been wrapped around her slipping down her arms with the movement.
Hanzo’s eyes were drawn downwards and his jaw went slack, eyes widening in disbelief. Lena looked down too, confused and a little worried….
Gold and bronze scales adorned her arms and shoulders, as though the great spirits were even now embracing her and sharing their strength with her.
They both jumped and Lena barely managed to catch the tiny bundle of bronzed fur and scales as it manifested and fell against her chest. It slowly unfurled it’s small body and blinked up at her, looking contented.
She felt so warm and once she remembered what the two great spirits had told her she began to cry in sheer relief as the dragon began to nuzzle her face.
She wasn’t alone anymore. She would never be alone ever again.
This, dear readers, is my FAVORITE part of this fic. It's so epic and I'm so glad I could bring it to you early!
Let me know if Rhitta and I did a good job in the comments! Could we improve anything? What suggestions or ideas do you have?
Let us know?
Chapter 8: Reunion
Amelie returns to find Lena has some very interesting new tattoos. Emily introduces herself, and after an u fortunate tumble, Lena and her dragon require a bath. Easier said than done...
The tiny brown dragon stretched itself onto its tiptoes to sniff at the flower Lena had bent down for it, wobbling a bit as it tried to keep its balance. It was still getting used to the idea of walking rather than just floating, but it was getting the hang of it.
Hanzo had barely left her side since the dragon manifested, showing her how to care for it while it was in its physical form and teaching her about his family’s history with the dragons. She hadn’t seen Genji, but Hanzo had assured her that he knew. He was simply absorbing the news at his own pace. Lena couldn’t say she was disappointed. After he had yelled at her she was more than happy that he was keeping his distance. It let her get to know her new companion in peace.
Her dragon had remained in its physical form ever since it appeared, and it showed no desire to return to the spirit world. It hadn’t spoken since the mountaintop and when she asked, Hanzo had explained that the spirits reincarnated each time they pledged their service to a new master, and the little dragon had to learn how to properly communicate with her like any child would before it could begin to talk to her again. She realized this also explained why the spirit was still so small, it was just an infant!
“Miso and Udon were the same, when they pledged themselves to me. Genji took to calling them “little blue sausages” until they got older.”
When Hanzo went inside to get some food, Lena laid on her back in the grass, closing her eyes. She could feel her dragon’s connection to her even if it couldn’t speak, sensing how it felt at any particular time. It was more than enough to understand what it wanted or needed, at least until it was able to speak to her again. She felt a small weight clambering onto her chest and flopping over, small claws kneading the soft fabric of her shirt. It seemed that her dragon had worn itself out chasing butterflies and grasshoppers and was ready for a nap.
The nap would have to wait.
Lena sat bolt upright, the sleepy dragon letting out a squeak as it tumbled off her chest and she had to catch it before it hit the ground.
Amélie looked exhausted. There were dark rings under her eyes and she hadn’t even changed out of her combat suit yet. Her duffel bag was still slung over her shoulder. She had to have only just arrived and come as soon as she knew exactly where the brunette was. Despite her exhaustion she was smiling.
Lena scrambled to her feet, cradling the now very grumpy dragon in one arm as she sprinted across the garden as fast as she could, slamming into the taller woman at full speed in her excitement.
“Oof, Lena! My ribs!” Amélie laughed breathlessly after she landed on the grass on her back, returning the embrace and placing a soft kiss on Lena’s hair. Lena felt her eyes filling with tears and she felt the corners of her mouth curving up despite herself, and she buried her face in Amélie’s jacket with a soft sniffle. She smelled like rust and smoke.
“Oh Lena I missed you too. I hope you didn’t have too hard of a time without me?” Amélie murmured as she sat up, and Lena sat back on her heels, sniffling and wiping her tears with her free arm.
“Missed you....” She mumbled as Amelie gently cupped her face in her hands and helped to brush her tears away. Once she had, she began to run her fingers through Lena’s hair, wincing.
“Have you showered since I left?”
Lena flinched and hugged her dragon closer to her chest, meekly shaking her head.
“Water.... scares me...”
She glanced up in time to see Amélie’s face fall. She didn’t blame the other woman, there was no way she could know that she had had terrible experiences with water in Talon.
“We can see about getting you cleaned up tonight, Oui? I need to eat something that isn’t a ration bar first, but that can wait a bit. Who is your little friend?”
Lena found herself smiling again at the mention of her dragon, and she held it up for Amélie to see. The little spirit made a soft, grumpy whining sound, before it gave up on sleeping and instead blinked at Amélie curiously.
“It’s.... a spirit dragon.... like Hanzo’s...”
Amélie smiled as she tickled it under the chin for a moment, apparently as taken with the little creature as Hanzo and Lena had been. That smile faded, though, when she spotted the new designs on Lena’s bared arms.
“Lena... are those permanent?”
Uh oh. Lena hadn’t thought about how she would explain the tattoos to Amélie, something she now regretted.
“They’re, like Hanzo’s..They..” She trailed off as the small dragon in her arms started wiggling, stretching its neck to try to reach Amélie, who carefully extended her hand towards the dragon, allowing it to sniff her extended fingers, the dragon seemed to approve, squeaking happily at her.
“Could you wait here for just a moment, Lena? I think I need to go have a little... chat.... with agent Shimada.”
Lena nodded, hugging her dragon to her chest and watching Amélie power-walk towards the door. She had waited days for her, but she could wait a bit longer.
Amélie opened the door, and Lena heard her inhaling deeply, before she bellowed loudly enough to make her jump.
“HANZO SHIMADA YOU HAVE SOME EXPLAINING TO DO!!!”
As Amélie stormed inside, a vaguely familiar face passed her on their way out into the garden. Lena remembered her from when she woke up in the med bay. Long red hair, pale skin, freckles, and olive brown eyes. She looked like she had taken the time to at least change, sporting a simple plain t-shirt and loose sweatpants, both grey. She looked around, and when her eyes fell on Lena her expression lifted into a gentle smile as she padded over to sit nearby.
Lena shrank back a bit, picking up her spirit companion and hugging them to her chest. She didn’t feel threatened, but she didn’t know this woman. Caution was a natural response, right?
“It’s ok, Lena. I’m a friend. I just wanted to come say hello.”
Her voice was soft, like she was trying to avoid spooking Lena. It was both comforting and irritating. It soothed her because she felt like the woman cared about her wellbeing enough to change how she spoke, but it also felt a little like she was an animal in a cage, rabid and ferocious and the soft tone was spoken out of fear, not kindness. It was her mind creating that illusion, Lena knew that, but the small sting of irritation was there nevertheless.
“I know you probably don’t remember me, but we were friends before.... well, before. My name is Emily. We used to get coffee whenever we were both on base.”
Lena blinked at the new information. No one at Gibraltar had yet spoken about their interactions with her before she was taken. She knew that some of them remembered her, she saw the sideways glances, the sad looks they gave her like she was a sad imitation of the girl they used to know. In a way they were right. Lena Oxton, at least the Lena they treasured in their memories, was dead. The Lena Oxton they saw now was just an imitation. She couldn’t give them what they wanted. She couldn’t be that person again. All she could do was try to figure out who she could be now.
The redhead, no, Emily was talking again. Lena tried to focus, she really did, but she felt tired. She had felt tired ever since the mountaintop. Hanzo had explained that her body needed to adjust to the flow of energy her dragon’s would be providing for her, and that until it did she would most likely sleep longer and feel drained more easily. He also explained that the second dragon, the golden one, would likely manifest once her body was more open to their energy. For now, however, she watched her spirit companion stumble off towards the stream, chasing a butterfly.
Emily seemed to notice her becoming distracted and she trailed off, watching the little brown dragon tripping over its own feet through the grass. It was nothing if not determined, getting up despite its many tumbles and trying to jump after the flying insect to catch it in its front paws.
Lena became briefly distracted when she saw a flash of blue out of the corner of her eye, and she turned to see Hanzo fly past the glass door at a dead sprint, one dragon tucked under each arm as he ran from what she could only guess was a very angry Amélie. She had probably found him in the mess hall and was trying to run him down to interrogate him.
Lena jerked back around when she heard the sound of something hitting the water, followed by a terrified squeal as her dragon tumbled headfirst into the stream. It seemed to have missed a jump at the butterfly. Lena let out a choked gasp and launched to her feet, pelting across the grass before Emily had even noticed the dragon’s predicament.
It was already pulling itself out when Lena got there, but she still scooped up the wet and, unfortunately, very muddy dragon and was checking it over frantically by the time Emily caught up.
The spirit was whimpering and rubbing its face on her shirt, seeming more embarrassed than hurt, to Lena’s relief.
“Well, it looks like someone’s gonna need a bath today.” Emily chuckled as she came up next to the brunette, who was still checking the dragon over for scrapes or scratches. “Why don’t we go find Amélie and she can help you get this little muddy sausage cleaned up? We should probably stop her from killing agent Shimada too, honestly.”
Lena just nodded, holding the whimpering dragon to her chest as she followed Emily indoors.
“I just want to talk.”
“And I do not.”
“Stop being a child, Shimada, come down from there.”
“Put your gun away and I will come down.”
They found Amélie trying to convince a very stubborn Hanzo down from the rafters in the gymnasium.
“Amélie, I hate to interrupt your interrogation but it seems that Lena’s pet sausage got into a wee bit of trouble.”
Lena made a face at the term “sausage”, and Amélie chuckled when she turned and saw her, giving Hanzo one last glare before she crossed the gymnasium to greet them.
“I’m going to go take a shower and settle into my room. Have fun Amé, you too Lena!” Emily called over her shoulder, before she pushed through the gym doors and trotted off down the hall, leaving Amélie to look Lena over, taking in the muddy dragon in her arms and the mud all over her shirt, and the smear of mud on her nose.
“You both look ridiculous.” She said with a soft laugh, before she held out her hand. “Let’s go see about getting the two of you cleaned up, Oui?”
Lena did her best to focus on her dragon, and not the water that was currently rising past her ankles. She had to get her companion clean and that wouldn’t happen if she panicked. She could do this.
Her dragon was wailing and squirming and trying its best to free itself and bolt away, seeming to sense Lena’s distress from being in a bathtub as it slowly filled. The water was warm, and it was nothing like it was in Talon, where water was used as a form of punishment.
Head down. She clawed at the glass, at the mask over her face, at herself, anything to get a lungful of air. The water was frigid, unforgiving.
Any pleas for mercy were lost in the water around her, her body beginning to spasm as she fought to stay conscious. Limbs growing heavy. Sinking. Spasms fading to twitches as her body settled at the bottom of the tank. Darkness creeping from the edges of her vision. So cold….
Yanked back to the surface, dangling lifeless as air was forced into her burning lungs. No fight left. Too tired. Just want to sleep.
Forced under again.
Lena was visibly shaking by the time she set her whimpering but clean dragon on the edge of the bath, wrapped snugly in a towel and ready for a nap. She had to force herself to sit again, and she pulled her knees to her chest, breathing fast and shallow. Amélie hadn’t spoken since they ran the bath, letting Lena focus on her own task until she finished. She had already washed up and was wringing the water out of her hair while she kept an eye on Lena. Now, though, she scooted a bit closer as Lena let out a soft whine and squeezed her eyes shut.
“Do you want some help, Lena?”
She nodded, keeping her eyes shut tightly as Amélie moved to sit next to her and wrapped an arm around her waist.
She just wanted this over with. She wanted out. When Amélie gently lifted her to sit in her lap, and carefully wrapped both her arms around her waist and held her, silently, she began to struggle, whimpering.
“Shhhh, Lena. I have you. I won’t let you get hurt.” Amélie murmured, feeling the brunette shuddering against her.
Lena began softly sobbing, trying to free herself from Amélie’s arms when the taller woman began to hum, the vibration travelling through her chest to Lena’s back and making her freeze with a soft gasp. Amélie continued to hum as she grabbed the sponge from the edge of the bath and began to gently rock back and forth, resting her cheek against the back of Lena’s head. The brunette remained frozen until the older woman gently ran the sponge from her shoulder to her elbow and back up again, the slightest bit of tension leaving her shoulders. Amélie repeated the action, shoulder to elbow, each time taking a little more of the tension out of the smaller woman. By the time she had moved down to the rest of her arm Lena was much more relaxed, though she was trembling just a bit from the residual anxiety.
“You’re doing so well, Lena. I promise you’ll feel so much better once this is over.” Amélie murmured against the soft, warm skin of Lena’s shoulder, before she switched the sponge to her other hand and repeated the motions with her other arm. Lena was almost completely relaxed by the time Amélie had finished bathing her, her head tipped back against Amélie’s shoulder. She was doing so well…
Amélie had tried not to let the tattoo bother her, but now that she knew just how much of Lena it covered that was becoming difficult. Taking a good look at it, she had to admit, it was a stunning piece.
Her tattoo covered her arms, shoulders, back, and chest. Starting at her wrists each dragon’s tail twined up her arms and over her shoulders, down her back in graceful, intertwining loops. The bronze-furred dragon looped under her right and and arched up, seeming to be resting its head on the top of Lena’s anchor facing counter clockwise. The gold-furred dragon looped under her left arm and arched its body so its head came to rest directly below the anchor, also facing counter clockwise. The tattoo was beautiful, detailed and from what she had seen and what Lena had told her, it was done with her consent and she hadn’t experienced any discomfort. There wasn’t even any sign of the irritation that always came with a new tattoo. Amélie knew from experience that the weeks after were spent squirming and trying not to itch. The phrase adorning her lower arm faintly itched at the memory of the discomfort. Lena was lucky to not have to endure the same thing. The dragons were simply a part of her.
Lena flinched when Amélie cupped some of the water in her hands and began to wet her hair, some of the anxiety and tension returning as she tried to keep her head dry. She clearly had a very deeply ingrained fear of water, something they would need to work on once Lena was feeling better. For now, the company and the gentle praise seemed to be just enough to keep her from panicking.
“I know you don’t like it, Lena, I won’t take any more time than I have to.” Amélie promised, once Lena seemed to resign herself and quietly let it happen. She was tired, probably more so than she was frightened, which was likely the only reason she hadn’t bolted yet. She would likely fall asleep right after they got out, if not before. Her eyes were half closed already.
Amélie very gently worked the shampoo into Lena’s hair, being careful not to accidentally pinch, pull, or otherwise startle the smaller woman. Lena’s eyes had drifted shut, and she had gone almost completely limp the moment the taller woman began massaging her scalp, only putting the absolute minimum of energy into staying upright.
“Do you like that, Chérie?” Amélie crooned as Lena leaned back into her, letting out a soft sigh and tipping her head back.
“Let me get this rinsed off and then you can sleep, silly girl.”
Lena barely moved this time, letting Amélie pour warm water over her head without much fuss. She was probably already asleep. When Amélie was done and had made sure that Lena was completely soap free, the girl was most definitely asleep. She barely stirred when Amélie gently scooped her up and bundled her into a large, soft towel, and only mumbled tiredly when the taller woman started toweling her off with another, smaller towel. When Amélie finished bundling her up and padded out of the room, tiny sausage dragon waddling after them, she contemplated an afternoon in bed, but there was no television.
Sofa it is, then.
Getting Lena dressed was only difficult because she had no intention of doing it herself and refused to help. Once she was clothed in soft pyjamas, wrapped in her heated blanket and comfortably draped over Amélie on the sofa she went right back to sleep, and her dragon soon copied her, clawing its way up the arm of the couch and burrowing under her chin before curling up into a little furry ball. Moments later, it began to purr.
Once the television was on and set to a soft volume, playing one of the many documentaries on the deep sea from decades ago that Amélie had recorded god knows when, she also fell asleep, the combination of background noise, the comfortable position she was in, and the warmth from the still bath-warmed woman lying on top of her pulling her into a peaceful slumber.
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Chapter 9: Quiet
Lena’s opportunity to stand up for herself is ruined, and her frustration slowly begins to grow. She discovered a new hobby, and one she may have loved before.
Amélie and Emily have a friendly competition, which leads to a first date.
Lena meets someone she didn’t think she’d see again.
Lena groaned and squeezed her eyes shut, trying her best to go back to sleep and ignore the ray of sunlight hitting her directly in the face. She was too warm and comfortable to get up. There was no reason important enough to even consider opening her eyes.
When the bright light persisted the brunette reluctantly peeled open her eyes and lifted her head, looking up at Amélie and stifling a yawn. The raven haired woman was still asleep, arms looped loosely around Lena’s waist. She still looked tired from the mission, and would also probably wake up if Lena tried to free herself. All the more reason to go back to sleep.
Lena settled back down with a sigh, turning her head away from the window and closing her eyes again. This was a nice moment. She didn’t want to ruin it by getting up. She rarely got to sleep without being either woken up or having night terrors. If she could manage to snatch a little bit more sleep before Amélie woke up she would.
“Time to wake up, Chérie....”
Lena mumbled and blinked up at Amélie, who was smiling down at her affectionately as she slowly started to sit up. Lena sat up and got off of her, setting her dragon on the floor so it could walk. She loved carrying it but she also enjoyed watching it learn, and walking was the most important thing it needed to adjust to.
“Let’s get changed and go get something to eat, before the morning rush.” Amélie suggested when Lena padded into the bedroom and began to go through the closet alongside her. The closet was much larger than Amélie’s old one and they had plenty of room to share it, with extra room left over. Lena didn’t have many outfits anyway, and what she had was mostly tights, few compression tops that had an opening for her anchor, and one hoodie with a similar opening. She was more comfortable when she could see the anchor, so any new clothes she bought would have to be sent to Winston to alter for her before she could wear them for long periods of time.
Lena had worn mostly black and dark grey since she got her clothes back, but she was feeling a bit more adventurous today. There were a few pairs of tights she hadn’t touched, finding them a bit too colourful for her, but today she reached for one, picking at random. She came away with a white t-shirt and a pair of yellow tights that had been at the back of the closet. It was a bit bright for her, but she owned them, so she had to wear them at some point.
“You look good in those, Lena! I haven’t seen you wear those before.” Amélie complimented her when she turned from selecting a shirt and spotted Lena wriggling into the tights, and Lena paused to look at herself in the mirror attached to the closet door. She wasn’t used to so much color, but she had to admit that the tights did look nice on her, even if they made her look a little bit like a banana-carrot hybrid. She managed a small, shy smile at the compliment and Amélie returned the smile encouragingly before she returned to getting dressed. Lena pulled her shirt on and adjusted it, making sure the rim of her anchor was lined up with the hole in the front of the shirt. It always needed to be adjusted properly or the fabric would bunch under her arms and chafe.
“Ready to go?” Amélie called from the door as Lena scooped up her dragon and set it on her shoulder, feeling it drape itself over her shoulders and begin to nibble on the lobe of her ear and bat at her piercings. Once she was sure it was holding on she trotted to the door and let Amélie lead her out into the hall.
Lena peered around Amélie and grimaced. The mess hall was full today. There weren’t any spots, and she felt sick at the thought of having to squeeze her way through to the kitchen.
“Here, take my arm.”
Lena gratefully did so, holding onto Amélie for dear life as she began to make her way to the back, glaring at anyone who protested or even grumbled as she went by. Lena kept her eyes on the ground and did her best to shut the noise out as her dragon nuzzled into her neck with a whimper.
“Why can’t she just smile and laugh again? She’s nothing like the girl I remember.”
Lena felt humiliation welling in her chest, then shame, then something else. Something hot and boiling and intense. Anger. She had to say something. It wasn’t her fault she was so changed. She didn’t ask for any of this. She had to say something herself so they knew that she heard them.
She inhaled, then she turned to speak.
“Maybe you should have saved her instead of me then Oui? Instead you complain about a girl you made no effort to help, expecting her to emerge from Talon unscathed. Can you hear yourself right now?”
Lena sighed. Of course Amé jumped in. She was so quick to defend her, and while Lena was grateful, she was trying to defend herself this time. She wanted to. She turned and headed for the kitchen, feeling a little discouraged. Her dragon began to nibble her ear again as she sat down and leaned her head on her hand, watching Ana as she made her way about the small room, tending to something on the stove.
“There you are, good morning Lena!”
Lena made a noise of acknowledgement and leaned harder on her hand, looking away when Ana turned to look at her with a bit of concern.
“Are the lads talking about you? Don’t let them badmouth you, girl, you’re stronger than all of them combined and you know it.”
Lena couldn’t help but smile. Ana was kind and she was encouraging. It was refreshing to talk to someone who wasn’t always trying to shield her from any and all things that might hurt her.
“Just tired. Amé... made them stop....”
“Did you ask her to say anything?”
Lena looked at Ana, a bit surprised.
“...no.... I wanted to....”
Ana sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. “She loves you but she needs to let you show them that you’re not someone they want to push around.
“Don’t say anything.... please...”
Amélie pushed her way in with a sigh, dropping into her chair next to Lena and mirroring her, head in hand as she rubbed her eyes tiredly.
“What are you making Ana, it isn’t the meal of the day.”
Ana chuckled and stirred whatever was in the pan around a bit. “Ever since Fareeha started cooking for herself I haven’t had anyone to feed. Now that I have the opportunity to spoil someone again I have every intention of keeping my skills sharp!”
Lena absentmindedly moved her hand around the table for her dragon to chase, still watching Ana as she cooked. She couldn’t remember anything before her time with Talon, so seeing someone use a knife for something other than stabbing was a new thing for her. New and interesting. She had never thought to use one to create rather than destroy.
“Here we are, be careful, it’s hot!”
Lena nodded and began to poke at the pile of steamed vegetables and what looked like beef on her plate, using her fork to shoo her very curious dragon away before it burned itself.
“That’s a very interesting pet you have there, Lena. What’s its name?”
Lena looked up, and the dragon took the opportunity to try to snatch a piece of meat, immediately dropping it and whimpering in pain.
Lena shrugged and gently ran her thumb over its head, comforting it while it nursed its burned tongue. “Never.... thought of one.”
“Any particular reason?”
Another shrug, before Lena let the dragon clamber back onto her shoulder so it could glare down at the piece of meat angrily.
She did need to name the dragon at some point. She had asked it before what it wanted to be called, but it only projected confusion and made it clear that it had never had one. That left the task of naming it to her.
She took a bite of her food, chewing slowly as she racked her brain for a suitable name. She knew that both of the Shimada brothers had named their dragons while they were both very young, and had named them after noodles, a story Hanzo told her with a grimace.
She thought it was cute, but she wanted the names to have meaning to her. That was where the problem lay. She barely remembered anything from before she was taken. Her childhood, her life as a pilot, her brief time with Overwatch, it was all so blurry and mixed together that she had no idea where one memory stopped and another started. She barely even remembered what kinds of food she used to like.
Well..... most foods.
She felt the corners of her mouth twitch upwards as a sudden thought struck her, and she failed to suppress the giggle that escaped her throat as she realized she had a perfect name for the little dragon.
The little dragon stopped trying to steal bits of food and looked up at her, seeming to realize it was being addressed by name. It made a soft noise of agreement, before it resumed trying to tug another chunk of beef off of Lena’s plate.
“That’s a cute name, simple and elegant. I like it.”
Lena felt her face getting a bit warm with the praise, and she shoved more of her breakfast into her mouth to hide it. Shiki hauled another piece of meat off of the plate and scurried to the far side of the table before Lena could stop them.
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
Lena answered, as Shiki made an offended noise at the prospect of being called female. Lena giggled at the ridiculous expression he was making, before she finished eating and got up to take her plate to the sink.
“Have you ever tried cooking Lena? I think you’d like it.” Ana inquired when she sat back down, catching Shiki as he launched himself at her from the edge of the table. After a moment of fumbling he was comfortably nestled against her chest, his face smooshed against the anchor. It was warmer than Lena herself, and he was already very possessive of his mobile heating pad.
“I.... don’t want to.... use knives… People… don’t trust me....” she mumbled as she let Shiki chew on her finger, already feeling anxiety bubbling up in her chest at the thought of someone walking in on her with a knife and getting the wrong idea. She was reasonably sure that she wasn’t going to be thrown in a cell again, but she still worried. Ana looked a bit saddened at her reluctance, but then she smiled.
“Come in early and cook with me then. We can make food for everyone and if anyone says anything I’ll tell them what’s what. And Lena.” Ana’s face sobered up and her voice took on a more serious note. “I will not let them harm you. Just as I will not let you harm them.”
Despite the serious tone, Ana’s words put Lena at ease, she looked up and saw that Ana was smiling encouragingly at her again. If she could do something to make life a little easier for other agents without actually interacting with them....
Ana lit up like a Christmas tree, clapping her hands and beaming. “Perfect! Just meet me whenever you feel like helping!”
Lena nodded, feeling a bit bashful at the attention. Amélie was looking at her with a look of gentle pride, it was making her face heat up.
“How did your mission go, Amélie? How did Emily do?”
Lena leaned her head on her hand, her eyes glazing over a bit as she listened to Amélie speak. It was nice to just enjoy something so simple as the sound of someone’s voice, and let it soothe her. She didn’t have to worry about being aware of her surroundings and she could just be.
“Emily performed well. She is a good shot and she’s patient. She’ll do well as an Overwatch sniper, if she chooses to join us.”
Lena was barely listening, her eyes slipping shut as she just absorbed the warm and pleasant aura Shiki was giving off, and the smell of coffee, the sound of the mess hall in the background.
“Good? Selling me a little short aren’t we?”
Emily was smirking as she sat down next to Ana, leaning forward to fix Amélie with a challenging stare.
“Good is all you’ll get unless you give me something to praise. Perhaps you would like to try to earn it in the shooting range?” Amélie replied with just as much heat as Emily was currently sending, her, and Lena looked back and forth between them, sensing the change in atmosphere.
That answered where Amélie was going then. She slowly got up and gathered Shiki into her arms. The garden was still her favourite place and she hated the sound of gunshots.
“I’m gonna go outside.”
Amélie looked away from Emily for a moment, “oh? Alright, do you want me to walk with you?”
There it was again. The coddling. Lena shook her head, even more determined to prove that she was capable.
She wasn’t about to let the full cafeteria stop her.
“No... I’ll be fine....” she said quietly, and when Amélie still looked like she was going to get up Lena turned and made her way out, keeping her eyes on the exit to avoid meeting eyes with anyone. She could feel Amélie watching her the entire time, probably still torn between staying and following. Lena pushed her way outside and she trotted towards the door to the garden, only slowing when she spotted two familiar people outside.
Hanzo and Genji. It appeared that they were sparring. As she hesitated, one hand on the door, they seemed to sense her and turned. Hanzo offered her a reassuring smile, but Genji’s face was once again hidden behind his faceplate, so she had no idea how he was going to react.
Perhaps she could come back later. She slowly took a step back, and when Genji turned fully to face her she trotted off down the hall, ignoring Shiki’s protests and struggles to go back to the door. As long as Genji was there she wanted no part of going outside. She would find something else to do.
After wandering around aimlessly for some time, Shiki bouncing after her like a squeaky bronze sausage, she found a room that was marked “Storage”.
Looking at the sign made her curious. It wasn’t an armory or a supply room. Just storage. But for what?
The ai responded immediately.
“Greeting, Miss Oxton. What can I help you with?”
“Um, what’s... in this room...?”
“The room you are referring to is a room that has been converted into a storage area for items that have been either lost, found, or left behind by former agents. The room is locked, but would you like me to unlock it for you?”
Lena felt Shiki tugging at the bottom of her leggings as she replied, “....yes please.”
“The door is unlocked. Feel free to look around, and if you find something you like, you may take it. The items have no owner and Winston would appreciate them seeing use again.”
Lena almost had a sneezing fit when she opened the door, and dust flew up all around her. The room had clearly not been used recently. She flicked on the light switch and coughed until the worst of the dust had settled, and she looked around. The room was full of stuff. So much stuff. She had no idea what half of it was. There were old clothes, board games, a whole box of broken phones, and under a stack of old newspapers there was a sketch pad with half its pages left and a pencil case.
Lena didn’t remember if she was artistically inclined before Talon, but she took the art supplies anyway. She wanted to try it. Shiki, meanwhile, had found an old, beaten up pachimari plushie and refused to let go of it.
Shiki happily dragged his new toy along behind her, occasionally making it squeak when he bit it or hit it against the wall. Lena wasn’t sure if it was too soon to check if the garden was empty, it had only been about an hour, but she went to check regardless. Her body was still not at a hundred percent and all of this walking was making her both tired and sore.
The garden was, thankfully, empty. Even the bastion unit was absent when Lena slipped outside and trotted over to her tree to sit down. Shiki followed after giving the stream a scathing glare, bouncing over to the tree to curl up next to his master. Walking was very draining for him, and would be until he grew a little more.
Lena wasn’t expecting to produce anything praiseworthy on her first try, but she was surprised by how well the first small doodles turned out. Flowers, random designs, and even a small sketch of Shiki soon dominated the entirety of the first page. Perhaps she did have some talent after all. She smiled to herself and settled in to work, quickly becoming absorbed in her new and delightful hobby.
Amélie hadn’t had this much fun in a long time.
Emily wasn’t as good as her but she was good enough to make this little competition interesting.
The shooting range was massive, and was divided into two sections. One was for long range, the other for small arms and anything that wasn’t a sniper rifle. The long range gallery was much bigger, naturally, and it took a few minutes for the drones to set up the targets. Emily was smirking when Amélie returned from the armory, and began to check her rifle.
“So, we putting any bets on this or....?”
Amélie snorted, genuinely amused by the idea that she could lose. Emily was good, but the older woman knew full well she was about to mop the floor with the poor redhead.
“A dangerous offer, Chérie. What did you have in mind?” She replied as she watched Emily settle down to take aim, and maybe appreciate just how fit she was too. She wasn’t blind.
Emily hummed to herself as she flicked the safety off, her breathing slowing noticeably as she took careful aim.
“Whoever loses pays for dinner?” Emily was smirking as she inhaled, held, then slowly exhaled, and pulled the trigger.
Her rifle wasn’t as loud as Amélie’s, and not quite as powerful, but Amélie could see that her shot was impressive. Nearly dead on the mark. Emily finished her shots and flicked the safety back on with a smirk, before she got up and nodded for Amélie to try. The older woman didn’t miss the way she seemed to be swaying her hips a lot more than she was before.
Cocky little thing, aren’t you?
Amélie chuckled and settled down to take her shots.
“Not waiting for a clean target?” There was a smirk in Emily’s voice that sent a bolt of competitive fire down Amélie’s spine.
Emily probably rolled her eyes as Amélie took aim, but she could feel her eyes on her as she flicked the safety off.
“An attitude like that will get you into all kinds of trouble here, Chérie.”
Before the younger woman could respond Amélie fired. Six times. If Emily didn’t know how powerful her rifle was, she certainly did now. Each shot rang out like a crack of thunder, commanding awe and respect. Within twenty seconds she had placed a shot neatly on either side of Emily’s on the targets.
Amélie made a noise of satisfaction and flicked the safety back on, pushing herself up as Emily stared at the display in disbelief.
“How...?” She seemed at a loss for words, as the realization that this wasn’t a competition like the ones she was used to, and that she wouldn’t win against Amélie no matter how hard she tried sank in.
“Working here demands both physical and mental discipline. The former you most certainly have.” Amélie let her eyes wander over the other sniper’s body as she spoke in a low voice, relishing the blush that was rapidly colouring her pale cheeks. “The latter, not so much. A cocky sniper is a dead sniper. We will have to work on that.”
She swiftly disassembled her rifle and packed it away, slowly rising and fixing Emily with a smirk. As she sauntered closer, Emily’s face took on a color quite similar to her hair.
“Until then....” she purred, as Emily swallowed and struggled to maintain eye contact, failing and looking away very quickly.
Oh no you don’t, silly girl.
Amélie softly placed a finger on the underside of Emily’s jaw, feeling the younger woman tense up as she carefully pushed her head upwards until their eyes met. Emily looked both aroused and terrified, her breaths trembling as Amélie leaned in until their lips almost touched.
“...I enjoy Chinese food.”
She then pulled away and padded towards the door, calling over her shoulder to the very red faced and flustered younger sniper, “I’ll see you tonight, then. How does six sound?”
Emily only sputtered in reply, slumping against the nearest wall as her brain seemingly came to a crashing halt.
“I’ll go let Lena know we’ll be out tonight.”
Lena had just finished a drawing of Shiki playing with a flower, and was looking around trying to find the little dragon so they could go inside. She spotted the little dragon perched in a bush near the balcony, watching the sun set, which startled Lena a little as she realized it was already getting late. She’d been so absorbed by drawing that she’d completely forgot the time, and that she’d already burnt through almost a quarter of the pages in the sketchbook, and her wrist was aching. She closed the book and leaned back against her tree, taking a deep breath as she prepared to get up. It was starting to get cooler, and she would get chilled if she stayed out much longer. She slowly pushed herself up and stretched, letting out a soft groan of pleasure as a few joints popped, then she called for Shiki and trotted towards the door, sketchpad tucked under her arm.
Shiki had caught up and clambered up to her shoulder by the time she reached the door, chittering happily in her ear and tugging on the lobe as she slipped inside. She was about to tell him to stop tickling her when she bumped into someone hard enough to stumble back, her already half-formed apology dying in her throat as the figure turned, their face transforming into an expression of shock that mirrored Lena’s.
university has been kicking my butt guys I’m sorry for being late!
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