Chapter 1: The New Real
As V walks out of the house onto the pier, she spots Judy sitting on the edge with her feet dangling, almost thouching the water. She looks so content and at peace, looking like she doesn’t have a care in the world. She’s beautiful, she thinks to herself. She’s so caught up in the sight before her, she doesn’t even realize she’s been staring.
“I know I’m a catch, but are you gonna keep staring or are you gonna come over here and get your coffee before it’s too cold?”, Judy knocks V out of her reverie causing her to jump and slowly start making her way over.
“Sorry”, V mumbles softly, grabbing the coffee and sitting down next to her, their shoulders gently brushing.
Judy laughs, “Nothin’ to be sorry for, just teasing is all.” She looks at V with a smirk and bumps their shoulders, jostling her a little, “Who woulda thought the infamous merc, V, would be so easily flustered?”
V huffs indignantly, refusing to dignify that with a response and looks down at the coffee in her hands trying to hide her blush. However, Judy can see the small smile on her (girlfriend’s? lover’s?) face. That thought brings Judy back to why she was out here in the first place. What did all of this mean? To her? To V? She hoped this was the start of something, but she wasn’t sure where V stood.
As the silence drew on, both seemed content to bask in it for a while. Nothing but the distant sounds of the city and occasional sips of coffee. A short brush of the shoulder here, a bump of a swinging foot there.
Finally, Judy worked up the courage to ask, “So... yesterday... last night. What was that, exactly?”
V looks at her with a slightly confused and worried expression, “What do you mean? Was I out longer than I thought after the dive? Did I do or say something?” She pauses, reassessing her thoughts and leans in conspiratorially with a smirk and sultry voice, “Or do you want me to remind you of what we did last night.”
“No, you gonk! You know exactly what I’m tryna say!” Judy stops and takes a breath to calm herself down as V sits back up straight realizing she’s serious.
“You didn’t do anything while you were out and you weren’t out long”, Judy continues quieter, looking forward, not wanting to see V’s reaction. “It’s just... what did last night mean, like, to you?”
After a lack of response, Judy chances a glance a V and sees a contemplative look on her face with a hint of confliction. V’s always seemed to have been one to think before she speaks, so taking a moment to find what she wants to say is nothing new. But it’s the confliction in her eyes that makes Judy think she’s fucked up and asked too soon or asked for something V didn’t even want.
When V notices Judy shifting uncomfortably, she realizes she took too long to respond. She turns to where she’s facing Judy, legs crossing in front of herself and reaching out for her hand silently asking for permission to hold it. Judy cautiously acquiesces, placing her hand in V’s and shifting to mirror her position.
“I...”, V pauses still trying to find the right words, eyes focused on their joined hands beginning to fidget with Judy’s fingers. If the situation weren’t so tense, Judy would find it kinda adorable.
“I don’t regret last night. Hell, I don’t regret anything I’ve done with you”, V says glancing up with a timid smile. “Except for that test BD the first time we met. That was mean”, she adds, causing Judy to laugh.
“I don’t regret it”, Judy comments with a smirk, resulting in V’s smile to turn into a pout, making Judy’s laughter grow. She so desperately wants to kiss the pout off her face, but reluctantly decides against it, letting V continue.
“Anyway”, V sighs looking back down at their hands, still fidgeting. “I was hoping - am hoping... that this is the beginning of something...”, she pauses, still trying to find the right words.
“More? Nice? Amazing?”, Judy prompts hopefully.
V nods with a small laugh, “Yeah, umm, all of those actually.” Her face slowly morphs back to confliction, but now there’s sadness added to it.
“But?”, Judy prods.
V jerks her head up shaking it, “No! No no no no. It’s just that... I kinda come with a, umm... a warning label? Or... I guess... it would be more of an expiration date.” She points to her head for emphasis.
“Yeah, the relic”, Judy says. “It’s slowly killing you, but you’ve been working on that and we’ve got time to find a way to fix it, right?”
V looks away with a grimace and shakes her head in a you’re-not-wrong-but-you’re-not-right-either kinda way. With the realization, Judy feels like her heart just dropped to her stomach.
“V...”, Judy whispers, squeezing her hand softly, “how long do you have?”
V grimaces, closing her eyes as she looks down shrugging her shoulders. After a moment she sniffs and looks back up and Judy can see tears in her eyes with a mixture of fear and sadness written on her face.
“I don’t really know?”, V says shakily, followed by a self deprecating laugh. “After I woke up, Vik said maybe months, but he wasn’t really sure. And time has been hard to keep track of with...”, she gestures a hand wildly, “everything. So for all I know, I could be dead two hours from now. Or... well, my body won’t be dead - Johnny gets that. But I... my mind?.. me? I’ll just be... gone...”
As Judy tries to process what was just said, V looks over to the railing with her brows furrowed. After a moment she rolls her eyes and says, “Oh please, you don’t give a flying fuck about what happens to me.”
Judy’s stunned at first, but quickly realizes that she must be talking to the engram... Johnny, if she heard right. What is he saying to her?
“Ok, three things; one, the only things you care about are your cigs and your stupid vendetta against Arasaka, two, you get the better end of the bargain out of this whole shitshow by getting a free meatbag and I get fuck all so of course you don’t care, and finally, this was a private conversation so go back to whatever fucking hole you dug into my brain!
“Of all the people to give a commentary on my life, why’d it have to be this narcissistic asshole?” V whispered, probably meaning for it to only be for herself as she looks back down at their still joined hands. But nevertheless, Judy heard it and couldn’t stop the snort of laughter at the statement.
V looks up realizing that Judy heard her and let’s out a small exasperated laugh starting a small laughing fit between them. As the laughter fades, they both drift into silence, basking in each other’s affectionate gazes with soft smiles on their faces. Judy takes her time trying to memorize how V looks in this moment. The way her black and red dyed hair falls and obscures the left side of her face. The smile on her face that looks like it was meant for Judy’s eyes only. The way her fiery red eyes seemed to glow with happiness, but she could also see how tired she was. How often was she getting sleep?
And then the moment’s gone.
V sighs as she raises her voice looking back over at the railing, “I thought I told you to fuck o-AAUGGHHH!” She screams as she clutches her head in her hands and curling in on herself.
Judy reacts quickly grabbing her shoulders trying to keep her somewhat upright, “V! I’m here. I got you. It’s gonna be-“
“Go away!”, V shouts and Judy let’s go of her immediately, but not moving away, not sure if the words were meant for her or Johnny - hoping it was Johnny.
“Jude”, V whimpers painfully leaning toward her despite still being curled up.
Judy moves forward trying to keep her from falling over, leaning her head down so neither have to talk so loud. “Yeah, I’m here. What do you need me to do?”
“...pills... jacket... blue...” It’s only three words, but each one sounds harder to get out than the first.
Judy quickly tries to piece together the words, “There are blue pills in your jacket?”
At the shaky nod in response, Judy says, “Ok baby, hang on. I’ll be right back.”
All Judy gets in reply is something between a groan and a whimper before she places a kiss to the top of V’s head and quickly makes her way into the house.
Chapter 2: The Real You
V is not ok. But as always, Judy is there for her.
Trigger Warnings for Panic Attacks and Self-Harm in this chapter. The self-harm is very minor, and might not even notice it, but it’s there. So be careful if that’s triggering for you. If you think I’m missing a tag, let me know.
I also edited parts of chapter 1. Mostly for formatting, but I also added a few lines here and there. Nothing too major, but you might want to go back and read it again.
Fun Fact! Did you know italics don’t transfer over when copying and pasting onto AO3? I sure didn’t!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Jacket... jacket... jacket”, Judy repeated under her breath searching the house for V’s jacket.
“Jacket!”, she exclaimed finding it placed on the bed. She never understood why V always wore the Samurai jacket with her and Johnny’s relationship being tenuous at best. She files that thought away to ask another time as she starts digging through the pockets in search of the pills. The first pocket she looks in she finds an... action figure?
“What?”, Judy voices aloud in utter befuddlement before shaking her head getting herself back on task. Yet another question for another time.
She soon finds the blue pills V mentioned and fills up a glass of water before running back out to the pier. She finds V on her side in the fetal position with her arms shielding her head shaking like a leaf.
“Hey, I’m back.”, Judy speaks softly in an attempt to keep both herself and V calm. She moves in front of her, placing the pills and water on the ground and gently lifts her, “Let’s sit you up”.
“Here”, Judy says handing over one of the pills as V quickly grabs it and shoves it into her mouth greedily and tries to swallow it dry. She wordlessly offers the glass of water and V slowly drinks it with shaky hands. Judy trying to steady the glass with one hand and soothingly rubbing V’s back with the other.
Once finished, Judy turns and places the glass on the ground and suddenly her vision is bombarded with a mix of black and red hair as V wraps her arms around her waist and buries her head in the juncture of her shoulder and neck.
“Woah! Hey, I’m right here”, she says with a surprised laugh, moving them both so V’s sitting in her lap. She starts combing her fingers through the mercs hair when she feels her neck becoming wet with tears. Gently rocking from side to side, softly whispering sweet nothings leading into humming the song she was humming yesterday.
She wasn’t sure how long they stayed like this, but it was long enough that she began to think V had drifted off to sleep. Despite the events that led to them being like this, Judy was enjoying this moment. Sitting outside curled up, embracing each other with the rising sun warming their backs, silently watching the distant city wake up to a new day. I could get used to this, Judy thinks to herself.
She’s broken from her reverie when V shifts and mumbles something she couldn’t pick up. At Judy’s inquisitive hum, V repeates herself a little louder, “‘s too bright”, proceeding to nuzzle into Judy’s chest to block the sun, forcing the techie to hold back a laugh at how cute the action was.
“Do ya wanna go inside?”, Judy whispers with a smile.
“Can you walk?”
Ever the stubborn merc, V stands up, without reply, on wobbly legs trying to regain her balance and awkwardly making her way to the house. Judy close behind.
When she loses her balance trying to get up the steps, Judy quickly catches her and smoothly lifts her into a bridal carry, eliciting a small surprised squeal from V.
Judy can’t stop the smug expression from appearing on her face at seeing V’s blush with eyes wide in shock at her sudden change in position.
“What? Y’can’t be the hero every day, mercenary. ‘Sides... I’m stronger than I look.”
V’s face scrunches into an indignant pout then turns red in embarrassment as Judy’s voice took a more seductive tone, then proceeds to hide her face in the techie’s shoulder.
Judy chuckles, continuing their way back into the house. She places a kiss to V’s head murmuring affectionately, “Gonk.”
Judy hears a pleased hum and can feel a small kiss to her shoulder as she walks into the bedroom, placing V on the bed and climbing in after her.
As they get situated, legs tangling up together, V speaks with that Reserved for Judy Only smile. “Your gonk.”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way”, she says affectionately. She slowly starts brushing away the hair that’s like a constant veil to the left side of V’s face, partially succeeding at tucking it behind her ear. Finally seeing her lover’s eyes looking at her with adoration.
“Y’know, as much as I love your hair, it covers too much of your pretty face.”
Along with a blush, V scrunches up her nose and sticks her tongue out at her in offense. Judy breaths out a small laugh and tilts her head kissing around the offending tongue, causing V to make a noise somewhere between a squeak and a moan.
A short make out session later, Judy pulls away with V blindly following her lips. V slowly opens her eyes, smiling and bringing their foreheads back together, Judy brushing their noses against each other.
“You sound like Mama Welles with that comment”, V says with a chuckle.
“Who?” Judy tilts her head a little in question.
“Mama Welles. Um, Jackie’s mom. She also runs a bar down in Heywood. She’s always nagged about my hairstyle - still does, but never means anything by it. Just her way of showing she loves ya. Jackie was the same way”, V finishes with a sad smile.
“Jackie. Your choom who worked with you on the Konpeki mission, right?”
“Yeah”, V confirms closing her eyes, failing to hold back tears. Voice dropping to a choked whisper. “He was like a brother.”
Judy places a kiss to her brow, hand stroking her cheek to wipe away the tears.
“I’m sorry I’m like this”, V sniffs, “I’ve been causing problems since I got here. First with the dive, then outside earlier, and now here. Shit, I’ve always been a problem. With Jackie and I getting beat by cops when we first met. With Jackie and Bug getting killed. With Evelyn. Me dying because some stupid fucking shard is overwriting my brain. I’m bad luck.” She chokes out a sob, hands moving to her head pulling at her hair as she starts to curl in on herself.
“Why am I so fucking cursed!”
“Hey hey hey”, Judy cuts into V’s spiraling, grabbing her hands, gently trying to coax them out of her hair. “Breath with me V, deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out. You’re doing great, baby, keep going.” They repeat the process a few more times until V’s calmed down and beginning to burrow herself under Judy’s chin against her neck.
“You’re not cursed, V”, Judy starts as she wraps her arms around the broken merc, a hand massaging the back of her head, hearing a scoff. “You’re not. I can’t speak for when you and Jackie met because I don’t know the story. But I know none of those other things you listed were your fault. Nuh-uh, no buts. All of those deaths. Every bad event that happened, even yesterday and a few minutes ago, were out of your control. Can you think of things you coulda done differently? Probably, because, as some wise old gonk once said, hindsight’s 20/20.” She hears a small sniffled laugh and she takes it as a small victory.
“Were you dealt a shitty hand on life? Yes. But that doesn’t mean you’re unlucky or cursed? Hell, everybody in this fuckin’ city’s been dealt a shitty hand. You’re with one of ‘em right now!” She pauses with a self deprecating laugh.
“I’m not saying this to tell you to suck it up and move on”, Judy says softer, “I’m saying this because you’re not alone.” She holds V a little tighter for emphasis. “You’ve got people in your corner who are fucked up in their own way, enough to be able to understand what you’re goin’ through. Even if it’s just a little. You got Mama Welles. You got Vik. You probably got a handful of others that I don’t know about.”
Images of Misty, Padre, and Panam flash through V’s mind. Also Jackie. Even though he’s gone and won’t answer the holo, she tries to call whenever she can. Need to call him again. Tell him about Judy. V thinks to herself.
“And you’ve got me... if you want me, that is”, Judy finishes hesitantly.
V nods her head and Judy feels her heart soar. She kisses her head breathing in V’s scent.
Judy shifts, much to V’s groan of protest, moving so she can make eye contact, a hand tracing her merc’s cheek.
“And ya know who taught me all that?” Judy asks, smiling at the shake of V’s head.
“You did”, She beams, pecking a kiss on the tip of V’s nose, giggling when the merc’s eyes go crossed at the action. “You showed me what it’s like to have someone to lean onto and rely on when shit hits the fan. With Evie. With Clouds. You were there for me without question and wanted nothing in return.”
V says cautiously, “Y’don’t need to feel obli-”
“Nope!” Judy interrupts, popping the “p”. “You’re stuck with me. Everybody’s got baggage. And that’s ok. Let your friends help you. Let us help you. ‘Cause I’ll be here for you too, whenever you need me, how ever long that may be. Be it two hours, two months, two decades. I...”, she catches herself. It’s too soon to say that. “I see you. Those who love you see you. You don’t have to carry this burden alone, V.” She finishes in a whisper.
More tears fall as V stares at Judy like she hung the stars in the sky before asking reverently, “Can I kiss you?”
Judy laughs, “Of course you can, y-“, she’s cut off as V surges forward, in what she thinks is the most mind blowing kiss of her life.
As the kiss ends, V pulls back gazing at Judy affectionately.
Judy, still drunk from the kiss, can only reply with, “Wha..?”
“Valerie. My name”, giggling softly at Judy’s state.
“Valerie”, Judy repeats, whispering it like a prayer. “A beautiful name for a more beautiful woman.”
V blushes fiercely from the flirt and hearing her name come from Judy’s voice.
Judy then proceeds to place kisses all over her red face, causing her to blush even more and turn onto her back with Judy following and straddling her hips, both giggling the entire time.
When Judy sits up, she raises a brow and smirks, watching V as she notices their position, blushing - again. Her adorable merc awkwardly starts moving her hands, unsure what to do with them, until she rests them on her stomach, twiddling her thumbs. When she realizes she’s being watched, she looks up and sheepishly smiles at Judy.
“Give me your hand”, Judy says, holding out her own, deciding she’s been tortured enough.
V does so without hesitation, watching Judy’s eyes glow blue as she transfers information over their personal links.
“Congratulations, Valerie!” Judy says smugly, emphasizing her name. “You now have unrestricted access to casa de Alvarez!”
“Oh, wow... umm, thanks! I... I don’t know what to say”, V finishes with an awkward laugh.
“Nothing. Come over whenever you want. Stay however long you like. Treat it as a second home”, Judy says with a warm smile, squeezing her hand.
“Oh, in that case...”, V reconnects their links as her eyes now glow blue as she sends over access to her own apartment. “It’s not as preem as your digs, but you’re welcome over anytime.”
“You didn’t have to do that, V.”
“I know”, V says with a smile. “I wanted to. Mi casa es tu casa. Es- no, um... tu casa... es mi casa..?” She finishes awkwardly, looking up at Judy seeing if she got it right.
“Bueno” Judy laughs giving her a kiss as she blushes at the praise.
“Besides” V starts, voice a little shaky. “Someone’s gotta help me take care of my cat.”
“You got a cat?”
At V’s nod Judy laughs. “Who woulda thought. V, one of Night City’s most badass mercenaries, has a cute little cat? God, can you get any more adorable?”
“No, he’s a gremlin. Much like a certain girlfriend.” V growls, swatting up at her playfully.
Judy easily grabs both of her hands and pins them to the bed above her head, leaning down until their noses touch, grinning wickedly.
“Girlfriend, huh?” She asks, voice dropping an octave.
“I- I- um, uh... y-yeah. If- if you want. Um, i- is that ok?” V stutters, thoroughly flustered from the new position and realizing what she said.
“Nova”, Judy says as she kisses her, biting at her lip, causing V to moan at the action.
V whimpers and mumbles “tease” when Judy pulls back and sits up, bringing their hands down with her, but holding them loose enough so that V could move them if she wants.
“So”, Judy says, ignoring the comment, bringing up her right hand to kiss the back of V’s left. “What gigs does our notorious merc have today?”
“Um”, V thinks, probably checking her schedule as her eyes go unfocused, glowing a faint orange color. The color contrasts with her red irises, making it look like her eyes are on fire, Judy muses.
“Nothing that can’t wait ’till tomorrow.” V finally says, finishing bashfully, “If you still want to spend some time together that is...”
“Of course”, Judy affirms, squeezing her hands gently. “Anything in particular you wanna do?”
V hums in thought. “I should probably go see Vik after yesterday and this morning. Maybe we could have lunch with him and Misty afterward and see what we wanna do after that?”
“Preem” Judy grins. “Do you want me to ride with you, or you me?”
“I came on Jackie’s Arch,” Judy raises a brow at the statement, but the merc is oblivious to both the innuendo and her actions, so she decides to let it slide. “which only fits one, so i should probably go with you. It should be safe to leave it out here.” V says, not sounding entirely certain.
“You know you don’t have to ride with me.” Judy clarifies before an idea pops in her head. “Or”, she looks at V mischievously, “we might be able to fit in the back of my van. Bring both vehicles and get to ride together. Win/win!”
V’s looks at the ceiling brow furrowed in thought making a cute pout as she thinks about the logistics before shrugging and saying, “Couldn’t hurt to try.”
“Alright Val!” Judy chirps, giving her a quick kiss before getting up and out of the bed, leaving a stunned V. “Let’s grab our shit and see how good we are at... um. Oh, what was the name of that old game? It starts with a “t”, right? Like, Tap- no... or Tes- ew, no... definitely not that...”
“Tetris” V answers absentmindedly, having gotten up and slowly started gathering her things, old memories thought long gone slowly creeping back at hearing the nickname.
Judy jumps as she turns and points at V in excitement, “That’s the bitch! How do you-”
At seeing V’s expression, her excitement turns to concern and moves toward her. “Hey, you ok?”
“Huh?” V jerks her head up looking at Judy like a deer in the headlights. When she processes what she heard, she looks away wrapping her arms around herself in a protective hug. “Sorry. It’s just the... the nickname. Could you... could you maybe not call me that?” She asks hesitantly, like she’s waiting for a bad reaction.
“Val?” Judy asks softly for clarification.
She grimaces and nods shakily.
Judy ever so gently brings V into a hug, so as not to overwhelm her. She, nevertheless, tenses at first, but quickly sinks into the hug, burying her head against her neck. Who hurt you, Valerie? Judy asks to herself. She vows that if she ever finds out who, she’ll off them herself if V hasn’t already already.
“I’m sorry”, Judy says softly.
“I know, I couldn’t have known.” She pulls out of the hug, holding V’s head in her hands and wiping stray tears with her thumb. “But I hurt you, even if I didn’t do it on purpose. And for that, I’m sorry.”
She pauses to let the point sink in, “Ok?”
V gives her a watery smile as she reaches up, grabbing her hands and placing a kiss to a palm. “Yeah.”
V takes a deep shaky breath as she brings their hands down swinging them in the space between them, bouncing a little on her toes. “Ok, no more sad thoughts. Only happy thoughts for the rest of the day, because the check up with Vik will probably be a big downer. Happy thoughts!” Halting her bouncing and squeezing their hands in emphasis.
Judy’s not sure if V’s little pep talk was meant for herself, Judy or both, but she easily feeds off the sudden energy.
“Nova!” She laughs. Hands still woven, Judy starts dragging her merc out the door. “Now, let’s see how good we are at Tetris!”
It takes them a few tries, but with a little repositioning of some of Judy’s stuff and throwing out an old monitor she didn’t need any more, but kept just in case (“Jude, why the fuck do you have all this shit?”; “It’s not shit! It could come in handy eventually!”), they were able to fit the bike in the van with little room to spare.
Once they get into their respective front seats, Judy leans across the console planting a sloppy wet kiss on V’s cheek then starts the engine.
“Alright, mi calabacita. Let’s go see your family.”
V giggles, blushing at the statement, though a little confused at the endearment, not knowing the translation.
“Yeah. Family.” V says wistfully as Judy starts driving back to the city.
And that’s that on that for this fic!
Fun Fact pt2! The title of this fic and the two titles of each chapter were inspired by songs of the same name by Three Days Grace! (The New Real & The Real You) So go give them a listen if you want!
Also, for clarification/confirmation on some things:
1) This V is a street kid.
2) As I was writing I kinda started projecting onto V. So if she seemed to be somewhere in the neurodivergent realm, you would be correct! I have ADD, so I think of her as having that, but feel free to apply whatever fits for you.
Writing’s never been a strong suit of mine, so this turned out waaayy longer than I expected. (*flashback of me beating the fic with a stick* “WHY. WONT. YOU. END.”) But I enjoyed it! I have a few more ideas for this V and Judy, so I’ll add those to a series with this one whenever they decide to get written.
Anyways, thanks for joining me while I try out a new thing! Hope y’all enjoyed it!