Amélie Lacroix had always wondered if, one day, she might find herself in an Overwatch holding cell.
After all, since the organization’s fall and resurrection, Talon had ordered her into battle against them more times than she cared to count. Ever since Widowmaker had begun her game of cat and mouse with Tracer, her escapes had gotten progressively narrower as they’d fought again and again, and she’d almost expected that one day the teleporting woman would manage to bring the dance to a close.
When she’d first had the thought, though, she hadn’t expected to feel disappointed.
The more she’d fought Tracer, the more Widowmaker had begun to feel a fire inside of her that Amélie thought would never return. Something in the way the girl attacked, evaded, challenged, and demanded more of her was…exciting. She found herself wondering when she’d see the girl again, and thinking about her. So she’d started to make a little game of it, as Talon had allowed Amélie to have more control of her own mind.
Amélie said every single nasty, filthy, scandalous, flirty thought that had come into her head as they fought, knowing the girl couldn’t possibly understand what Amélie had been saying to her. Talon still had very real control over her body, and the ability to compel Widowmaker’s service, but it was a little rebellion that she’d deeply enjoyed. Tracer had played her unwitting part perfectly, dancing to the beat they’d set as they fought – taunting, chirping, challenging, evading, and eventually escaping.
Talon eventually gave her the ‘luxury’ of maintaining a private residence, and she’d quietly rebelled again by filling it with reminders of who she had been. A print she’d loved as a girl, outfits she knew Gérard would have enjoyed to see her wear, and a few things she’d fantasized about in recent months, but never expected that she would ever actually use.
But then she’d been having a coffee in her favorite café, just a few blocks from the building she’d found with a view of the sea that reminded her of their honeymoon, and a brushy head of chestnut hair had caught her eye. She had turned her head just enough to make eye contact, and felt a shiver in her stomach when she realized yes, it was the British woman who she’d been fighting and fantasizing about for so long. Suddenly in a setting where she was not Widowmaker, and this girl wasn’t Tracer.
So Amélie had invited the younger woman to sit…and her world had tilted on its axis when she realized that Lena Oxton had known exactly what she’d been saying the entire time.
For more than a year after that day, they’d been ridiculous, really. Secret rendezvous, stolen weekends, both sneaking around their respective organizations as Lena showed she was a much deeper and more complex woman than anyone who fought against Tracer would be likely to expect, and Amélie had slowly realized that there was far more of the woman she had once been left under Widowmaker’s mask than she had been willing to admit to herself.
They still fought when they their ‘professional’ lives intersected, of course, but with a new, almost playful edge to it all. Foreplay as conducted with guns and grappling hooks, often followed by inventive and enthusiastic reunions later. A surprising amount of tender and considerate aftercare for both the acts on the battlefield and the bedroom, and quietly making arrangements for their next encounter as just Amélie and Lena.
But just as it had started so suddenly, it came to a screeching halt when they’d gotten a little too focused on each other, and accidentally exposed their private life to Angela.
The last thing she remembered was feeling a sharp pain at the back of her neck as she and Lena had stared at the stunned (and, apparently, quite flustered) doctor.
The next time she woke, it was in an Overwatch cell – just as she’d imagined – dressed in a dark blue jumpsuit with the organization’s logo and the word “DETAINEE” printed on the breast. At least, she supposed, it wasn’t orange.
But when she turned to look out the door, the idea of Lena being in the cell across from hers hadn’t ever crossed her mind before, and Amélie’s heart sank as she realized what the discovery of their affair might mean for her lover.
The younger woman must have noticed her stirring and gauging her surroundings, because a moment after Amélie had realized she’d been imprisoned, Lena sat up and offered a weak wave. “Hiya.”
Amélie sat up, looked around, and waved back. “Bonjour, chérie.” What else could she say to that?
“So…” Lena stood, walking to the edge of where a shimmering field surrounded her cell. She was, at least, wearing fairly regular clothes – a Union Jack tank top and a long pair of shorts – though whomever had placed her in the cell had removed her harness, leaving her with only the anchor implant in her chest. “Would you like good news, bad news, or worse news?”
Amélie shrugged, waving a hand in the air. “I will let you pick.”
“Well,” Lena rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet, “the bad news is that we’re obviously both in the clink.” Moving to the other side of the cell, she hopped up onto the bed set into the wall, kicking her feet in the air. “Worse news is that half of Overwatch is convinced you’ve been hypno-whatzitsing me into a Talon sleeper agent…and the other half is really pissed about me lying to them about what I’ve been doing with myself.”
Amélie nodded slowly as she considered how the situation must have appeared to someone observing them from the outside. “That is…entirely fair, I admit. So what is the good news?”
Lena gave a crooked grin. “Well, we don’t have to sneak around anymore.”
Amélie knew they were probably BOTH in for a world of trouble – but she couldn’t help but utter a dark little laugh.
The humor in their situation faded for Amélie the next morning, shortly after an automatic chute had delivered breakfast, as she watched ‘Pharah’ and ‘Soldier: 76’ come to take Lena for questioning. Standing, she’d walked to the door of her cell only for Amari to turn sharply towards her.
“Stand back from the door, and no speaking to the other prisoner during transfer.”
Lena’s face fell, her eyes flashing with pain. “Oh, come on, ’Reeha. Are you serious?”
“I said no talking,” the former security chief snapped, her bearing ramrod stiff beneath her armor. “I’m not the one who has been lying about her activities for a year. Now move.”
Amélie stepped back, seeming to take an interest in the floor of her cell, but keeping a careful eye on Lena out of her peripheral vision. Even though the Egyptian didn’t seem to be treating her roughly as she escorted her out, the Brit’s bearing had changed from the relaxed, loose movements that Amélie was so used to seeing, her body language tight and almost painfully controlled under the gaze of her escorts as they disappeared through the door.
She’d expected a long, silent wait after that, filled with apprehension for what would happen to her lover. Instead, a few minutes after Lena had been escorted away, a grate in the ductwork above the cellblock floor opened with just the barest sound of metal moving against metal, and a moment later a small figure dropped to the floor, the barrel of a rifle poking out at an angle over one shoulder.
Clad in a dark cloak and well-patched tactical suit, the figure stood, raising its head to reveal a featureless tinted face shield with a targeting optic projected onto the bowl at eye level, the rest of the helmet wrapped in a bright blue cloth.
Amélie stood, her brows drawing together in confusion. “You are no Talon agent. Qui est vous? Qu’est-ce vous voulez?”
A woman’s voice – heavily processed by her mask, yet oddly familiar – came out in a dark chuckle. “You don’t recognize me, Amélie? I’m hurt.”
The woman pushed back her hood, the faceplate of the helmet sliding back with a soft hiss to reveal the face of a ghost. Amélie took a step back by reflex, a hand coming up to cover her mouth in surprise.
Ana Amari looked gravely into the face of the Widowmaker with her remaining eye. “I’ve come for a few answers of my own.”
In deference to the fact that Winston would have had difficulty fitting through the door to one of the normal interrogation rooms, Lena found herself sitting at a table in his lab with her massive friend and Angela facing her from the other side. Jesse was leaning just a bit too casually against one of the lab tables behind them, and she could feel Fareeha and Jack’s eyes burning holes into the back of her head.
“Hey, big guy. Angie. Don’t suppose I could get a glass of water?”
“Good morning, Lena,” Winston’s voice was almost completely devoid of his usual warmth, making the spot of breakfast they’d sent down earlier turn to lead inside of her guts, “I’m afraid not, but we may be able to provide you with something after you answer some questions.”
“I’m mostly here to provide some monitoring of your vital signs,” Angela explained in an equally businesslike tone, “including monitoring your responses – so we will be aware if you try to lie to us again.”
Lena bristled. “When people – including both of you – asked if I’d gotten involved with someone, I said yes. When I took time for myself, I let you know I’d be away and I gave you a general idea that I was going to be meeting that person. I left off a couple details –”
Winston tapped the metal surface of the table with a finger, drawing her attention back to him. “The fact that you were in a relationship with a Talon operative – one of their top operatives – is more than a ‘couple details’, Lena.”
Lena looked away from the disappointment in her best friend’s eyes. “Yeah,” she finally sighed, “it is.”
Winston shuffled a set of papers in his hands, then placed them on the desk. “I’m going to ask you some questions, Lena, and I need you to give me the complete truth. If you want to regain the trust you’ve broken, it has to start here, and it has to start now.”
She sat up, straightening her back, and locked eyes with the scientist. “I will. I promise.” She heard Morrison scoff behind her, but tried to control the prickle of anger that drew from her. “Where do you want to start?”
Winston nodded, looking at the first sheet of paper in front of him. “Athena is recording this, by the way. I feel you should know that.” Lena silently acknowledged the fact with a bob of her head, and he cleared his throat before continuing on. “From what we can tell, you have been in a relationship with Widowmaker for almost 14 months. Is that correct?”
“Lena Oxton and Amélie Lacroix have been in a relationship for 14 months,” Lena corrected him, “Tracer and Widowmaker are not.”
Morrison’s gruff voice interrupted any response Winston might have had to that. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“It means we leave work at the office, ‘76’,” Lena snapped, turning in her chair, “some of us try to go off the clock occasionally you flaming gi –”
“Lena.” Winston’s finger tapped the desk again. “Talk to me. Not him.” Then, looking past her, he made eye contact with the former Overwatch commander’s red visor. “Jack, we agreed that I would be handling this. If you insist on trying to interrupt, I’d prefer you leave before I have to throw you out.”
Lena could hear a squeak of leather as the old soldier crossed his arms, and tried to pretend he wasn’t in the room as she focused in again on Winston.
“So. 14 months. That would place things at about the time you were part of the team that took some R&R in Nice after you completed the escort mission there.”
“You called me on the phone,” Winston noted, “to let me know you’d be out late. Said you’d met someone there. Were you referring to Widow – to Amélie?”
“Yeah,” Lena admitted, “I ran into her while I was shopping. She was in disguise, in a café. I was out of most of my kit, too, and she asked me if I wanted to sit down.”
“What was she doing there?” Winston seemed genuinely curious. “Talon didn’t interfere with the operation there in any way.”
“She lives there. Or lived, I guess. By the time this is all over, I expect Talon will have found her apartment and sacked it.”
Angela piped up, her voice slightly skeptical. “They don’t know how to find her?”
“It’s more complicated than that,” Lena admitted, “I don’t know all the details – you would have to ask Amélie – but the rough gist is that Talon allowed her to choose a private residence, and she kept it confidential for security reasons. They have ways of contacting her through dead drops, and none of her combat equipment was kept at her home. It wouldn’t surprise me if they could track her gear, but she’s never told me one way or the other.”
“That’s interesting,” Winston admitted, “I’m keeping her equipment locked down so I can study it – I’ll make sure we block any signals going in or out.”
“Thanks. I suspect this will be bad enough without a Talon squad or You Know Who showing up on our doorstep.”
Winston tilted his head slightly. “You’re concerned Talon would come to take her?”
Lena shook her head. “At this point? I doubt they’d bother taking her back in anything but a body bag. From the little she’s told me, Talon doesn’t seem to have much in the way of a retirement plan.”
“I suppose not.” Winston considered that a moment, then straightened back up. “Back to the matter at hand – I am assuming that after you spoke with me, you went home with her?”
“We shagged. Fucked. Made the beast with two backs.” Lena scowled slightly at this line of questioning. “Exactly how granular do you really want me to get?”
Angela looked away with an embarrassed sounding cough, her cheeks reddening, and Lena would swear McCree’s shoulders shook for just a moment with a silent chuckle, but he was keeping his face hidden beneath the shadow of his hat. She could hear a metallic noise as Fareeha shifted on her feet, and the sound of Jack muttering something under his breath.
“That seems like it escalated…rather quickly.”
“Well.” Lena flushed slightly with embarrassment. “Y’see…while we’d been fighting, for several months leading up to that, she’d been…ah…rather aggressively flirting.”
Winston dropped his pen. “…what?”
“She didn’t realize I spoke French,” Lena mumbled, “and I guess that Talon wired her to get aroused by the act of fighting, basically. Except she couldn’t kill me, and it began to work her up more and more, and somehow it made some of her programming…slip? Crack? So she started to tell me exactly what she wanted to do to me instead of our usual go-rounds. In French. While we were fighting.”
Now McCree was definitely trying not to laugh, and there was a muttered “Jesus Christ” from Morrison’s corner that Lena did her best to act like she hadn’t heard.
“I pretended I didn’t know what she was saying because it was kind of funny? Hearing her say all this incredibly lewd shit to me while I was zipping about shooting?”
Winston looked baffled. “But if she didn’t know you spoke French, why was she saying it out loud?”
“Because it was the first time since…” Lena trailed off, then considered how to put it. “She told me once that she hadn’t been able to feel like that – to think about someone like that – in a long time. That she thought Talon had ripped it out of her. So it was a way of giving them the finger, I guess.”
Winston’s mouth worked for a second, unable to say much else to that, then he picked up his pen again. “All right. Leaving that aside. You began to…be involved…in Nice.”
“When was the next time you saw her?”
“On or off the clock?”
Winston frowned. “Both, I suppose.”
Lena thought back, considering that. “Three weeks later. Hollywood. The job you set up for us to protect that bellend of a movie star. She was providing covering fire for those Aussie gits and the Talon strike team that were trying to kill him. I used one of the camera dolly elevators to get up to the rooftops and drove her off after I dislocated her shoulder.”
Winston gave a soft ‘huh’ as he made a note. “And…off the clock?”
“Week and a half after that. Took a run home to pick up a few things at my old flat in the Row and she met me there. Gave her a shoulder rub to apologize and things…escalated. The next day after we woke up, she helped me pack up some of my old Airfix kits before she left.” Lena paused. “She left me a slip of paper with details about how to contact her through a newspaper ad.”
“So you didn’t know she would be in Hollywood?”
“No,” Lena shook her head, “not a clue until Fareeha ID’d her from the air.”
“Did she know you’d be there?”
Lena shrugged. “Not far as I know? But I think she generally assumes that if she’s in the field against us, I’d be there.”
“You don’t get to say us,” Morrison growled, “not when you’ve been compromising Overwatch operations.”
That last snide remark finally blew the lid off of the anger that had been stewing in her ever since she’d learned who ‘Soldier: 76’ really was. Her fists slammed into the arms of her chair, driving her up like a piston as she whirled to face the masked man. “Excuse me? Is this coming from the man turned his back on everything we stood for? The man who fucked off in the middle of the night to play BATMAN after Geneva and left the rest of us to answer for your mess? For all of Gabriel’s shit that you turned a blind eye to? Who decided to rob our fucking grave to steal your kit back? I’m the one ‘compromising’ operations? FUCK OFF!”
She couldn’t see much of Morrison’s expression beyond the raised eyebrows peeking up above his mask, but Fareeha’s jaw had dropped beneath the golden visor of her helmet at the sudden outburst, and she could hear the rattle of McCree’s spurs as he moved around the table.
“That. Is. ENOUGH!” Winston’s voice rose to a deafening bellow, and when Lena turned, he’d risen from his usual hunched stance to his full height, fur bristling. “Lena, sit DOWN. Jesse: please take Jack outside. Now.”
The former Blackwatch operative gave Lena a sympathetic glance before he grabbed Morrison by the elbow, not so subtly dragging him towards the door. “Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. I bet there’s some cameras or something on the perimeter that could use inspectin’.”
The pent up anger that had finally been given an outlet was still burning through her mind, but Lena managed to slowly lower herself back into the chair. Angela was sitting stock still, her face deathly pale, while Winston dropped back down, removing his glasses and putting them down on the table. As he dragged a hand over his face, Lena suddenly realized how tired they both looked, and some of the head of steam she’d built up began to ebb away, leaving her feeling ashamed for losing her temper so spectacularly.
Well, at least Amélie wasn’t here to see that.
Down in the holding cells, Amélie Lacroix had no way of knowing how impressively her lover’s interrogation was going off the rails, but she would have happily been in the Gorilla’s lab instead of her current predicament.
The former Overwatch second-in-command hadn’t entered her cell, hadn’t unslung her rifle, hadn’t drawn the pistol that Amélie could see holstered on her belt, but she had no doubt that her life was very much in danger.
“Ana…how are you alive? I killed you.” Her voice dropped, remembering one of her first ‘official’ deployments against Overwatch. The blast as the drones had struck the building. The dreamlike sensation as her handlers had poured compulsions and commands into her ears during the fight. “They made me kill you. Vous etes morte! Je vous ai tuée!”
The Egyptian woman reached up to gently touch the patch that covered one eye socket. “Oh, you gave it a good try, dear. And I certainly felt as if I was dead for a very long time afterwards.” Ana’s remaining eye swept over her like a cobra scrutinizing a mouse, and Amélie felt as if she could see every seam and crack that had slowly appeared in the Widowmaker’s mask over the last two years.
“Did you think you could sink your hooks into that poor girl the same way you fooled Gérard?” Ana’s accent became more pronounced as her voice rasped with anger. “I failed to protect my family from you twice, you murderous bitch. I will not allow it to happen again.”
Amélie flinched as if she’d been struck, her voice thick with a mix of surprise and old pain as she snapped back at the older woman. “You don’t know anything about what happened that night, Ana, or anything about who and what I have become since.”
“You’re a killer, dear.” Ana’s voice became sickeningly sweet, full of condescension. “Believe me, I’ve been one long enough to recognize my own.”
“Widowmaker is a killer,” Amélie husked as she looked away, her shoulders slumping as she felt the weight of everything she had done since the day Talon had snatched her off a Paris street. “I’m the one who pays the cost afterwards.”
Ana scoffed. “Maybe at first. But you’ve been on your own long enough. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find out what you were up to, and I’ve seen you pull that trigger enough times.”
Amélie blinked as she made a connection. “You’re the ghost. The one Reaper was trying to kill in Egypt.”
“Well, I’m one of them, anyway.” Ana smirked. “It turned out Jack was there to tug on Gabriel’s cape, too.”
“I don’t understand. If you are working together, why are you here? Why sneak into the cells?”
Ana’s mouth turned to a hard, flat line. “I told you – I have questions. And I will have answers from you. They wouldn’t approve of my methods, and I have no interest in sharing them.”
Amélie didn’t bother hiding her confusion. “What methods? I was conditioned to resist torture – and I cannot imagine you being able to hide evidence of that.”
“Oh, I don’t need to, dear. I know exactly how to get what I want.” Stepping up to the cell’s mouth, her voice suddenly snapped a single word: “Tintinnabulation.”
For almost 18 months, Amélie had worked to shove the things Talon had placed into her mind behind a wall. Building it higher with every scrap of independence she’d managed to grab, shoring it up with every act of rebellion she’d snuck past her masters. Blocking the door that led to those nightmares with every stolen moment of passion and the slow realization of how much she might love the woman who was supposed to be her enemy.
Somehow Ana Amari had found a way to blast through all her desperate defenses with a single word.
Amélie dropped to her knees, her hands clutching at her head. It felt as if her mind was being pulled apart by iron hands that tore at her very sense of self.
Her vision swam, but she could just make out the older woman’s booted feet before her, taunting her from just beyond the cell door. Gasping desperately for breath, Amélie felt on the verge of vomiting until the elder Amari’s voice cut through her confusion like a knife. “What is your name?”
“WRONG! What is your name?”
“WHAT. IS. YOUR. NAME.”
There was a long silent moment before Amélie heard her own hushed voice. “Widowmaker.”
“Good.” Ana’s voice rang with satisfaction. “Stand.”
Slowly, as if in a dream, Widowmaker stood, staring unblinkingly back at the older sniper.
“Mission report,” Ana demanded, “target zero.”
“Lacroix, Gérard,” Widowmaker replied instantly, “Chief of Counterterrorism, Overwatch. Former Colonel, Eleventh Brigade Parachutiste, Armée de Terre.” There was a momentary pause, then the assassin continued on. “Infiltration conducted after extensive hypno-conditioning and preparation. Command issued for activation by phone. Target was silenced in his sleep by a pistol shot to the brain, verified with shot through the heart. Exfiltration by car, collected by control officers. Stood down and sedated afterwards for further improvements.”
Ana’s face was unreadable as she nodded. “Current mission?”
“Support of attempted convoy hijacking outside Bern. Intercepted by Trac…” Widowmaker blinked rapidly for a moment, then her face twitched slightly before she continued on. “Intercepted by Lena. Engaged. Forced to disengage after brief contact. Exfiltration interrupted.”
“That was your last mission,” Ana countered acidly, “what is your current assignment.”
Widowmaker’s voice was perfectly calm. “I have no other assignment.”
Ana frowned for a moment, looking away, then straightened up. “What is Talon’s interest in Lena Oxton?”
“Talon has no interest in Lena Oxton.”
Ana’s scowl deepened. “What is Talon’s interest in the Overwatch agent codenamed ‘Tracer’?”
“Talon has no specific interest in Tracer. Any Overwatch forces resisting Talon operations are to be destroyed. Tracer resists Talon operations.”
Ana finally tried a different tack. “What is Widowmaker’s interest in Lena Oxton?”
Widowmaker’s voice warmed slightly – just enough to be noticed after her almost mechanically flat responses, a hint of a smile tugging at the previously neutral line of her lips. “She makes me feel alive.”
Ana was quiet for a long moment, a shadow of what might have been doubt passing over her face before she seemed to refocus herself, her voice becoming brusque once again as she changed her line of questioning. “Mission report: July 29, 2069.”
The enthralled woman replied without hesitation. “Initial combat deployment after completion of Widowmaker 1.0 upgrade program. Hostages were taken at a classified research facility to draw out an Overwatch rapid response squadron. Assigned to support Talon decoy units on the ground and eliminate targets of opportunity. Malfunction occurred after damage to combat visor. Override was issued to ensure compliance with mission directives. Five confirmed kills, including Overwatch second-in-command Ana Amari.”
Widowmaker’s head twitched slightly again. “Four confirmed kills. Amari disabled, not terminated.”
Ana’s eye narrowed. “Define ‘malfunction’.”
“Anger. Confusion. Fear. Aim erratic due to heart rate becoming elevated above spec.” Widowmaker’s eyes closed again, and her jaw jumped slightly, as if reluctant to continue. “Once I had been beaten, Amélie wanted to die. This was not allowed.”
Ana turned her back to the cell, then spoke one last word to the Widowmaker. “Quiescence.”
Amélie shook as she sank back to the floor of her cell, unable to do more than stare at the bare metal plating for a long moment before she could finally look up at the older woman, staring at her cloaked back. “How,” she finally whispered, “did you do that?”
Ana refused to turn and meet her gaze, her voice still harsh, but the anger in her tone no longer seemed directed towards the captive. “I’ve got a lot of experience in finding things out. Especially things that I was never supposed to know.”
Tears welled in her eyes as she shivered, clutching at her body through the thin material of her prisoner’s jumpsuit. “What will you do with me now?”
“Do you still wish to die?” Ana’s voice was quieter now, and filled with a solemn sincerity – almost kindness – compared to her earlier venom.
“I don’t know,” Amélie answered honestly as a tear tracked down her face, “Sometimes, yes. After I am given ‘maintenance’ injections. The last time I was ordered to report for ‘review’.”
“You were almost out of time,” Ana observed gravely, “your failures were being noticed.”
“Perhaps I would have ended up here regardless. Perhaps she would have killed me in the end. We will never know.”
Ana had no reply to that.
“What will happen to Lena?”
Ana turned to look at the woman crumpled into a tear-streaked heap in her cell, her voice softening. “I suppose that depends on how things are going upstairs.”
Amélie shivered again as more tears fell. “I need to see her. Please. I know we can’t…I just need…” Her voice broke, a ragged sob swallowing her attempts to speak until she forced herself to take a deep breath. “Please.”
Ana’s eye flicked to something on the wall above the cell – a clock, perhaps – then back. “I suspect she’ll be brought back soon. Lena’s passion and Jack’s temper never mixed well.” There was a soft hissing sound, and when Amélie looked up, the sniper’s helmet had sealed itself again, her voice taking on an electronic undertone once again. “Do you have anything else to say for yourself?”
The Frenchwoman did her best to look into the other sniper’s eyeline. “If I miss more than two scheduled check-ins, Talon will begin looking for me. They will come for me.”
The slight thaw in Ana’s voice disappeared. “Is that a threat?”
Amélie curled into herself, resting her forehead against her crossed arms, her voice dropping with pain and resignation. “No. It is a warning.”
A few moments later there came the sound of metal moving against metal again. When she looked up, the grate in the duct had been replaced, and she was completely, terribly alone.
“You set up a real estate holding company?” Winston’s voice was incredulous. “Seriously, Lena?”
Lena shrugged. “Safer than getting hotels, honestly. No worries about getting recognized by someone anywhere. Registered the company online, opened a Swiss bank account the same way, then bid online at auctions. Once I had the keys, we just…showed up. Sold most of them after and turned a tidy profit half the time.”
Winston looked thoughtful, but Angela was still a bit shocked. “Where did you get the money for all of that?”
“Barely touched my old RAF combat pay, back in the day. Just kept it in savings. Eight years of that, plus two years of back pay and compensation from when I was lost in the Slipstream on top of my salary?” Lena shrugged. “It adds up. Not like I have a lot of time to go shopping anyways.”
“The way you were acquiring and re-selling properties isn’t too different from the procedures I’ve been using to arrange safehouses,” Winston admitted, “though I made the name of the company a bit less obvious.”
Lena offered Winston the first smile she’d been able to manage since her explosion at Jack. “Where’s the fun in that?”
Before Winston could reply, Athena sounded an alert tone from the speakers in the lab ceilings. “Winston! I have registered a data intrusion in the cellblock area.”
Lena’s eyes went wide. Talon? Already? Was that possible?
The scientist was up and loping towards his computer console before the AI had finished speaking. “Can you give me any more details, Athena?”
“Camera feeds have been looped for the last fifteen minutes. My normal monitoring processes were blocked out of the security wing’s network via a command override.”
“Command – WHO?” Winston looked stunned. Jesse would have said something if Jack had given him the slip. Which left two other possibilities…
“XO-23394. Amari, Ana.”
Lena had bolted to her feet and started running for the door before Athena finished the serial number. Fareeha wasn’t far behind, but she seemed to be running with the Brit, not trying to chase her down.
Winston and Angela shared a concerned look, then followed as quickly as they could.
When Lena reached the holding area, the door wouldn’t open for her. Of course. She was still technically a prisoner, after all.
Lena yanked the handle uselessly one last time, then stepped back, shouting in frustration at the ceiling. “Athena? Athena open up! Open this bloody door right now!”
The lack of response was deafening. After all, Lena Oxton wasn’t an authorized user right now, either.
The clang of armored footsteps that had been trailing behind her as Lena had raced from Winston’s lab grew louder, and after a moment Fareeha swung around the corner, sparks coming up from the metal-on-metal contact as she made her way to the door.
“’Reeha! Please, god! Open the FUCKING door!” Lena knew how she probably looked – how she sounded – but she didn’t care. There was only one reason Ana would have blocked off Athena to sneak into the cells while Amélie was alone.
She was praying that her lover would still be alive when they made it to her cell.
What little was visible of Fareeha’s face was drawn and grim. She didn’t say anything in response to Lena’s desperate plea, just released the locks and pulled the armored door open, moving in with her Raptora’s weapon raised as soon as she had enough clearance to fit through.
The security chief moving in ready to fire was a bit of a surprise. Lena wasn’t certain if Fareeha was worried about the possibility of an escaped prisoner, or more concerned that she might have to subdue her own mother.
Lena nearly lost her footing as she made it to the cellblock, her ankle twisting painfully, but she didn’t care.
Amélie was alive. The former assassin was curled on the floor in a tight ball, head down, her shoulders heaving with ragged breaths. Lena couldn’t even tell if she’d heard the commotion of their arrival, or what shape the Frenchwoman was in until Amélie raised her head just enough for her tear streaked face to look out at the women charging into the cellblock.
Fareeha pulled up, sweeping her gaze over the cellblocks, her jaw setting in a scowl as she looked up to the vents and ductwork in the ceiling, muttering something Lena couldn’t catch in Arabic under her breath.
Lena knew she should have cared about that, but she didn’t. Half stopping, half crashing to the floor in front of her cell as she felt something pop in her leg, Lena put a hand to the security field, her voice breathless as her chest burned from the exertion of her sustained sprint. “Amé? Can you hear me? Are you hurt? Did she touch you?”
Amélie’s voice was like broken glass, her body almost unnaturally still as her gaze fell to the floor again. “She didn’t touch me. She didn’t have to touch me.”
Lena’s brows knit, and she forced herself to take a breath before she spoke again, oblivious to the sound of more footsteps coming up behind her. “What happened, luv? What do you mean she didn’t have to touch you?”
Amélie wouldn’t look up to meet her eyes, and Lena felt her stomach twist in agony. “I…she…” Shaking her head, the Frenchwoman finally settled on the barest statement of fact, delivered in a complete deadpan. “Ana was here.”
“She spiked Athena out of the network here, somehow.” Lena winced as she tried to draw her feet up under her, the adrenaline fading enough to let her feel the pain from the ankle she’d injured. “As soon as Athena reported it, I came…I was so scared, I’m sorry. I didn’t even know she was in Europe. Last I heard she’d been digging around Mexico, chasing Reaper.”
Amélie shivered. “I didn’t know she was alive. I thought that Widowmaker…I thought that I killed her.” She finally looked up, and her eyes were a puffy, ugly purplish hue from crying.
“Oh,” Lena murmured. “bugger.” If she’d known that, she’d at least have tried to warn Amélie about the possibility of encountering the older sniper. Sighing, Lena looked into the Frenchwoman’s eyes. “I’m so sorry. I never even thought – she got in a fight with Reaper a few months ago and I figured that Talon would have known.”
Amélie shrugged, her voice still brittle. “I was trying to minimize my contact. Pick up the bare minimum required.” Her voice cracked again as she looked up to the ceiling where the sniper had disappeared. “Ana informed me that Talon was preparing to bring me in for a ‘review’ of my recent performance.”
Now it was Lena’s turn to shiver. She knew what phrase likely entailed. “Well, they’re bloody well not going to touch you – not now or ever again. They’ll be going through me if they want to try! Lena paused for a moment, biting her lip. “Can…can you tell me what happened?”
Intellectually, she knew others were in the room, but Lena was focusing entirely on her lover, trying to offer comfort through the thick transparent barrier that kept them separated. It was a long moment before Amélie finally responded.
“She said…she had questions. She demanded I answer them.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Lena realized that Angela had knelt down in front of the cell as well, trying to make herself less threatening before the doctor spoke. “She interrogated you?”
Amélie shook her head, her voice resigned. “‘Interrogation’ implies I would have an opportunity to resist,” the Frenchwoman closed her eyes. “Lena…do you remember what I told you about my…controls?”
“Oh. God.” Lena’s voice rang with horror. “You’re telling me…how would she know that? How could she know that?”
“I have no idea. But it was the same. She spoke a word I cannot recall, and I was not myself. A waking dream, where I…where Widowmaker…answered everything she asked. About you. About the day I shot her. About Gérard.” Amélie’s voice broke on that name, tears welling in her eyes. Swallowing, she folded herself back down into a ball again, hesitating before she spoke, her voice barely audible. “When she released me, Ana asked me if I wanted to die.”
Angela looked aghast as realization of what Ana had done sank in.
Lena’s face darkened with fury. “Oh, we’ll see who wants to die when I get done with Cap.” Shooting back up, her anger taking the pain away again, she’d nearly made it to where Winston was blocking the doorway when her ankle failed her for the second time, sending her sprawling to the floor. “Fuck!”
“Lena!” Amélie shot to her feet, eyes wide with concern. “What happened to you?”
Hissing, Lena rolled herself onto her back, slowly sitting up as Angela began to examine her rapidly swelling leg.
“She twisted her ankle running down here,” the doctor reassured the still-captive prisoner before turning back to her patient. “You’ve badly sprained this, Lena – maybe a fracture.” The doctor gave a soft ‘tsk’ as she carefully ran her fingers over the inflamed joint. “I am going to need to get you back to the infirmary.”
“Fine,” Lena spat in frustration, “hook me up with an aircast and then lend me your pistol, would you? Have it right back to you as soon as I’m done murdering your mother-in-law.”
Fareeha’s armored visor loomed into her field of vision, her voice tight with controlled anger. “Lena – enough.”
“Are you even serious right now?” Lena’s voice filled with pain that had nothing to do with the injury Angela was carefully wrapping with a spare compression bandage she’d pulled from her coat. “Don’t you understand? Somehow your mum got her hands on the same shit that Talon’s been using to control Amé. To force the Widowmaker to kill for them. To wipe away her free will. And Ana snuck behind everyone, broke into the cells, screwed with Athena to keep her blind, and used it to take what she wanted! How the fuck is she any better than them right now? Exactly which one of us is acting like one of Overwatch’s enemies, eh?”
There was a long, awkward silence, broken only by the sound of Amélie walking away, sitting in the furthest corner of her cell from the others, her arms curled protectively around her body. Her eyes were locked on Lena, unwilling to acknowledge any of the others now milling around the cellblock floor.
“For what it is worth,” Angela said softly after tying off the bandage, “I’m inclined to agree with Lena – at least about why what Ana has done is incredibly vile.” The doctor’s voice grew a bit firmer as she gave a scolding glance at her patient. “She’s not my mother-in-law, though, and you may not have my pistol.”
Fareeha looked away from the doctor’s unflinching gaze. Lena had the feeling that would be quite the row in the doctor’s private quarters later. She almost wished she could watch.
Angela stood slowly, then offered Lena her hand. “I want to see if you can stand. If you can walk to the infirmary, it will be easier than having Winston carry you.”
Lena nodded, taking a moment to take a deep breath, then tried to stand. It wasn’t fun, but she managed, especially when Fareeha came over to give her a supporting hand.
“I didn’t know, Lena,” the Egyptian whispered as she finished bringing the smaller woman to her feet, “I’m sorry.”
“I’m not the one who deserves an apology," Lena whispered back, her eyes finding Amélie’s, “but thanks.” She experimented with a few careful steps once Fareeha released her grip, then nodded. “OK. That isn’t great, but I can walk on it, I think.”
Winston sighed as he shuffled out of the doorway so the others could pass. “All right. Angela, please take Lena to the infirmary, see what you can do about her leg, and keep her there.” His voice turned just a hair colder as he looked over to Fareeha. “In the meantime, Fareeha, would you please find your mother and get her to my lab before anyone else does something that we’ll all regret? I don’t think Jack would have put her up to this, but…”
Amélie had returned to the front of her cell, and she raised a hand to the door as she spoke, as if not certain it would be permitted. “I…excuse me?”
Winston shifted, turning his head with a raised brow. “Ah, yes?”
“I do not feel comfortable remaining here alone, given what has happened. I am willing to be restrained, if necessary, but I would like to accompany Lena. When Angela is finished,” the former Widowmaker sighed before offering a resigned shrug, “I will return to my cell as long as someone else is here.”
Winston considered the request for a long moment. “Under the circumstances, I don’t blame you.” The scientist shifted his gaze over to the doctor with a raised brow. “Angela? It’s your clinic.”
“No objections. Not after what has just happened.” She paused. “If you are willing, I might be able to perform some examinations into your…condition…while you are there.”
Lena made eye contact with her lover, and saw the conflict in Amélie’s face as she turned over the idea of letting anyone else ‘examine’ her after years of being subject to Talon’s treatments. “Maybe one thing at a time, Ange?”
“Yes,” Angela conceded, “perhaps you’re right.”
Just a note from the Author here - due to the Thanksgiving holiday in the US next week I'm not sure if I'll have chapter 4 ready to go up on time, but I promise it'll happen soon.
When they reached the infirmary, Angela ushered both Lena and Amélie inside, then locked the door.
“Normally I’d turn on the privacy blockers so Athena could not record while I am working with a patient,” Angela explained after she turned back to face both women, “but there are some who would take issue with that – and after what just happened, I’m sure it would not imply pleasant things for either of you.”
Amélie nodded, getting a sympathetic look from her lover as Lena scooted onto one of the treatment beds. Anyone making an effort to turn off recordings around Watchpoint was more likely going to be viewed as a potential threat than someone trying to protect her privacy right now.
“Widow, if you’d like to sit,” Angela gestured to one of the adjacent beds, “I need to get my staff so I can assess Lena’s leg.”
“I’d…prefer to stay by her, if that is all right.” She caught Lena giving the doctor a pleading glance, and after a moment Angela gave a slow nod. “All right. Please wait a moment.”
Lena reached out, and Amélie grabbed the warmer hand with her own, then let Lena draw her in and hold her in a seated hug, the younger woman visibly tamping her anger down as she did her best to provide what comfort she could, given the situation.
“I won’t pretend either of us is OK,” Lena murmured softly, “but I’ll make do, all right? Talk to me, please, Amélie…”
Kissing the younger woman’s forehead, Amélie sighed. “I have no idea what to say, chérie. You gave me the strength to hold that part of myself in check for a year, and then…” Lena tightened her embrace, trying to ward off a shiver that had nothing to do with Amélie’s altered body. “I’m not safe. None of you are safe with me here. Not if I can be controlled so effortlessly.”
“Don’t you dare blame yourself.” Lena’s eyes flashed as she looked up to make eye contact. “Ana did this. Talon did this. Even if we didn’t…if this wasn’t what we ever thought would happen, we’re here now. We’re no more – or less – safe than we were yesterday or the day before that.” Her eyes softened, and a pale hand came up to gently stroke Amélie’s sculpted cheek. “If we’re going to beat what those bastards did to you, to help you break that chain…there’s probably no better place, when you’re ready.”
“It is hard not to blame myself,” Amélie admitted, “when I see how much pain I’ve caused. How much harm I’ve done you, ma lionne.” She sighed, burying her head in her lover’s hair again, trying to find the strength to push away some of the guilt and the nightmares Ana had unleashed inside of her from the warmth of Lena’s presence, focusing on the smell of her skin, her comforting warmth, and the rise and fall of her breathing.
Angela cleared her throat softly as she re-entered the room, staff in hand. Amélie stepped back and looked away, unable to meet the doctor’s eyes. She hadn’t been close to the angelic doctor, really, but they’d certainly known each other. She and Ana were two of the only ‘work friends’ Gérard would really discuss or associate with in public, since the majority of his colleagues were part of Blackwatch.
Amélie had no idea what Angela Ziegler thought of her these days, but she strongly doubted it was complimentary, even if the doctor did seem to be more sympathetic after what she had seen and heard after Ana’s visit to her cell.
Lena’s grunt of discomfort brought Amélie out of her reverie. Angela’s staff was resting against the bed, and, as Lena had predicted, she was placing an inflatable cast over the clearly angry and inflamed ankle.
“No running on this for a week. Break it again because you’re too wound up to pay attention to instructions and I might even put you in a full body cast just to ensure you stay still.”
Amélie couldn’t help the soft laugh that escaped her at the doctor’s exasperation, despite all that had happened. Lena’s mock-wounded look didn’t help. “Oi, don’t forget I was trying to save you, luv.”
Amélie nodded, trying to find the smile that was normally so easy around Lena. “I know, ma petite lionne. I know. I am grateful.”
“Forgive me for eavesdropping,” Angela’s voice was gentler than it had been, as she finished securing the cast and standing, “but something you said stuck in my mind. About how this wasn’t what you thought would happen? You can’t have possibly expected to keep it a secret forever.”
“I suppose not,” Lena admitted, “but be honest – if we’d just shown up at the front door with me claiming I’d snogged Widowmaker back to the path of righteousness, you’d have locked us both up anyway.”
Angela let out a long suffering sigh. “In so many words…” Amélie couldn’t help but shake her head at the byplay. So much of this felt familiar, and that was part of why it so terrifying to know she could still be turned into a puppet again – one who might (she thought) hesitate at killing Lena, but the others…?
“Still,” the doctor continued, “had you ever discussed the possibility of what you would do? Was it Talon’s…ah, influence, keeping you from acting…Widowmaker?”
Lena looked over, a question in her eyes, and Amélie nodded. She had to take this one. “It was not the only reason, but it was a major one. The other…” She gestured to herself. “My body requires…maintenance, periodically. Medications. They were being delivered along with my orders and equipment. If Talon was beginning to suspect us, I assume they would have begun withholding them.”
Angela frowned as her mind began to turn that over. “How long between treatments?”
“Every other month.”
“When was the last administered?”
“Three weeks ago.”
The doctor nodded. “There’s a good chance I could identify the active agents, then. If you are willing to let me try.”
Amélie considered that for a moment, then nodded, her voice resigned. “It is better to begin now than when I start to suffer seizures, I suppose.”
Angela rolled her eyes. “That would be my preference, yes. I understand why you would have a distrust of medical personnel, but if I could take some blood samples and do some diagnostic scans, it would be very helpful.”
Lena looked over to the doctor. Perhaps not realizing Amélie was quite capable of hearing her, she murmured “Might help if you actually used her name, Ange” under her breath.
Angela gave a slight grunt of both acknowledgement and pain, looking away for a moment before she spoke again. “I think it would be the best way to begin, Amélie.”
After a long moment, the former Widowmaker moved to sit on the adjacent medical bed, carefully keeping her hands in clear view. “Very well. What do you need from me…Doctor Ziegler?”
“I can’t believe you’re trusting her. Trusting both of them!”
Jesse sighed as Jack continued to bitch, looking at Morrison out of the corner of his eye as he spoke. “Personally, I don’t know about trust, exactly, but I am impressed. I didn’t think Lena had a sneaky bone in her body.”
The red optic of Jack’s visor might not allow him to make eye contact, exactly, but it did give him one hell of a glower. “I’ve yet to see the humor in this, McCree. Do you have any idea what Talon could have done to Oxton?”
Jesse sighed. “Yeah, Jack, I do. But I gotta ask – you got any idea what Lena could have done to the Widow?”
Morrison crossed his arms. “You really buy that bullshit that she somehow cracked Widowmaker’s programming, when Lacroix shooting her own husband in the head didn’t do a damn thing?”
“Who says it didn’t?” Jesse finished slapping a new casing on the perimeter sensor that had been reporting as faulty, then stood to face the former Strike Commander. “Let’s say, just for a minute, that it did. What if the memory of killing Gérard put a crack in the wall, and fighting Tracer – among other things, spiked a wedge into it? Widened the break?”
Morrison snorted dismissively. "Bullshit."
“Oh, and Oxton being a Talon sleeper isn’t? C’mon, Jack.” Grumbling, Jesse reached for a match to relight his cigarillo. “She ain’t Reyes.”
Morrison stiffened, his head coming up sharply. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
McCree took a deep drag, then blew a cloud of blue smoke. “I’m pretty sure you know. You don’t trust her – trust either of them – because of what happened with Gabe. So now anyone who might be a threat is one.”
Despite the mask, Jesse would swear Morrison was scowling. “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Oh, like hell I don’t,” rolling the cigarillo to one side of his mouth, Jesse returned the scowl with interest, “the minute Angie reported that Lena might be ‘compromised’ by that woman, you wanted to put a bullet in the back of her head. You’re terrified of getting played again, so you’re ramming things all the way to the end of the track.”
Before the former Strike Commander could reply, a third voice joined their conversation. “He’s got a point, Jack.”
Jesse turned, and Ana had popped up from some damn place, her hood down and braid spilling down her shoulder. Something in her eye looked…troubled. Haunted, even. What the hell had happened now?
“This coming from the person who shot both of them with sleep darts?” Jack finally unsealed his mask, pulling it away and giving Ana a frown. “You, of all people, know exactly why we can’t trust them.”
“I thought I did,” Ana admitted, then let out a long sigh, her voice mournful. “But what I’ve learned changes things.”
Before she could follow that thought up, the conversation was joined by a fourth party, descending from the sky in a neatly arcing course that had clearly begun back at the main Watchpoint building.
“Jesse,” Fareeha’s voice carried every ounce of authority she’d earned over her career, laced with a tightly controlled anger, “when did she get here?”
“Ana?” The cowboy could feel his brows knit in confusion. “Just got here a minute before you did, maybe not even that.”
“Fine.” The Raptora armor’s hands were clenched in tight fists, and Jesse could see the way her jaw was jumping beneath the golden cowl of her helmet. “All three of you back in the jeep. Jesse, drive them back to the main building and we’re going straight to Winston’s lab. I’ll be following from the air.”
Jesse was completely unsurprised that Morrison dug in his heels like a stubborn mule. “First he wants me gone, now he wants me back? Tell Winston to make up his damn mind.”
“The situation has changed,” Fareeha failed to explain, then turned her head to look over to her mother. “If you try to jump, run, sneak off, or go back to the cellblocks, I’m shooting. No questions asked. Clear?”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!” Jesse turned from the driver’s side door of the jeep he’d taken for the drive to the perimeter to stare at the two Amari women, Fareeha clearly furious, Ana not looking her in the eye. “Ree, what the hell has gotten into everyone?”
The younger Amari shook her head. “You’ll get an explanation at the lab. My mother has things to answer for – and I don’t think either of us wants to do this twice.” Ana said nothing, her shoulders falling, and for the first time since she’d returned to Overwatch, she looked old in Jesse’s eyes.
The worst part of the drive back to the Watchpoint for Jesse McCree was Ana Amari’s uncharacteristic silence the entire way.
The prisoner’s garb she’d been dressed in was close enough to a patient’s smock that Angela didn't need to ask Amélie to change, Instead, once Lena had been given a dose of anti-inflammatories and painkillers, the doctor led the former Talon agent to another portion of the medical wing where a few different imaging devices waited.
“I’d like to run an IV and take some blood,” Angela explained, “then take some CT scans of your head and torso – particularly your heart.”
“I see.” Amélie considered what to say next and couldn’t really think of anything useful, so she fell back on some of her habits from when she was required to report for examinations by Talon, holding out both arms and staring at the wall, waiting for the doctor to choose a vein.
Angela gave a slightly disquieted look, then took a deep breath before falling into her own professional routine. “Do you have a preference on which arm I draw from?”
The doctor frowned. “You’re right handed, aren’t you? I’ll see if I can get a good vein on the left first.”
Amélie’s eyebrows raised in surprise. “I would not have expected for you to remember that.”
“You weren’t formally under my care, but I did help you a few times. It’s something I tend to remember from patients I’ve worked with.” Angela paused, not sure how to ask her next question. “How much do you recall of…before?”
Amélie tried to keep from shuddering under the doctor’s touch. “Everything…and everything which happened after.”
Angela winced. “I…see. I think I have a good vein. One moment.” There was a pinch from the needle going into her flesh, but Amélie paid it little mind. She’d had so much worse.
“I always wondered,” Angela admitted as she began to draw blood samples, “how much of what we saw from Widowmaker on the battlefield was really you. How much was the woman I’d once known.”
“It is complex,” Amélie admitted reluctantly, “I cannot truly say how many of my actions were my own after Talon took me. But even without their…influence…I wouldn’t be who you once knew. I was gone for seven years. Even if I’d simply divorced Gérard and had a ‘normal’ life in that time, I wouldn’t have been the same woman afterward.”
“I suppose not,” Angela admitted quietly, “is that part of why you and Lena grew…close?”
Amélie did her best to shrug with one shoulder. “She never knew Amélie, and I didn’t know Lena. We started as just Tracer and Widowmaker, and discovered each other.”
Angela frowned as she set the final vial aside. “It seems more complicated than that, from what I have seen. Was it really you who began to approach her?”
“There are times when the lines blur.” Amélie let her gaze drift up to the ceiling, studying the featureless surface. “But I found her very attractive from the moment we first met. The more we fought, the more interested I became. Widowmaker…the part of me that Talon created…enjoys her. Is entertained by her. I don’t know how to explain it beyond that.”
Angela didn’t seem to know how to respond to that. Amélie didn’t really blame her.
As Fareeha shut the doors to the lab, Winston took a long look at the former leaders of Overwatch, and considered exactly what to say in response to what had happened since ‘the incident’ that started this entire mess. Ana was sitting in the same spot that Lena had vacated, arms crossed, her body language broadcasting discomfort. Jack had moved to sit near her, rather than standing at the back, and Jesse and Fareeha now covered the door, with Fareeha’s stiff, angry posture quite a contrast to McCree’s obvious confusion.
Winston let them all wait for a moment, and once he thought he had a good starting point, he cleared his throat, then began. “Something Lena said, earlier today, has been making me consider a lot of things. ‘Who are the people acting like Overwatch’s enemies right now?’ is a question that I think she was fair to ask us.”
Before Jack could grace that remark with another dismissal, Winston focused on Ana, his voice grave, making an effort to keep it even rather than dipping into the shock and anger he’d felt from the moment they’d seen the results of what the former XO had done. “Would you care to explain the way you tortured Amélie Lacroix, Ana? How you broke our own security using your old access codes? What you originally intended to do when you snuck into her cell?”
Jesse’s eyes widened beneath his hat, and even Jack seemed to be taken back by that, uncrossing his arms and straightening up.
Ana took a deep breath before looking up, not quite meeting the scientist’s eyes, but at least uncoiling a bit from her earlier posture. When she spoke, her voice was carefully controlled, delivering a post-mission report as she had so many times as part of the original Overwatch, sticking to the facts and trying to keep her emotions out of it.
“As you know, I’ve spent the last six months pursuing Reaper’s trail, particularly his contacts with Talon.” The sniper took a moment to collect her thoughts, then moved into the meat of her explanation. “I followed some leads to Mexico, where I was unable to corner Gabriel, but I did track down one of the ‘freelancers’ he’s been surrounding himself with – the hacker girl who calls herself ‘Sombra’. She wasn’t willing to give me information on Reaper’s current whereabouts, but she offered me something she claimed would be more ‘interesting’.”
Reaching into one of the pouches on her sniping suit, Ana produced a data drive and placed it on the table, then pulled out a photograph. A candid shot at a strange angle – possibly taken from a traffic camera – showing Lena in casual clothes, her accelerator strapped on over a long coat, fervently kissing a woman that, in context, Winston realized was Widowmaker in fashionable street clothes, the assassin’s distinctive skin tone turned to a more conventional shade by some means.
“I see,” Winston replied, taking and examining the photograph for a moment before setting it back on the table, “and the data she provided?”
“A mixed bag,” Ana admitted, “a great deal of it on operations Widowmaker had carried out – including her murder of Gérard Lacroix. Dates and times of hotel visits – a few of them featuring more clandestine photos or security video of one or both of them arriving or leaving. But the biggest piece, as far as I was concerned, was a detailed report on how Widowmaker was created – and the key phrases Talon used to control her.”
“I’d like to review those files when we’re done here,” Winston noted, “I’m sure Angela would appreciate seeing the more medically relevant parts as well.” He noticed Jack’s fingers fidgeting slightly. No surprise. He wondered if the former Commander was upset that Ana had made a deal with the hacker, or that she hadn’t shared that information with him right away. Time enough to answer that later, though. “So – that explains some of the background, then. Would you please go on?”
“If Angela hadn’t stumbled on them, I had been planning to confront Lena privately.” Ana admitted, “because I was afraid that she was being fooled, just as Gérard had been. That this was some kind of long game seduction to allow her to kill Lena with her guard down, or to infiltrate and betray Overwatch.” Ana paused, then looked back to where Jack was still standing. “I wasn’t so sure about Jack’s theory that Talon might have compromised Tracer, but I did think that the girl’s heart might have led her into a trap.”
“So, your plans were obviously changed by what happened three days ago. Yet you dropped both Tracer and Widowmaker so they could be secured – and kept them both sedated during the flight home, for that matter.” Winston settled back, tilting his head slightly. “Interesting choices. Particularly since you didn’t tell any of us that you were aware of their relationship.”
“That was a mistake,” Ana admitted, “but telling you after what happened would have just complicated an already messy situation.”
McCree snorted. “Oh, I see how straightforward this whole thing is now.”
“Jesse,” Winston objected mildly, “you’re not helping.”
Ana waited for McCree to quiet down again, then continued. “I waited for you to bring Lena in for questioning here because I felt it would be best to interrogate Widow…interrogate Amélie in private.”
“And the reason you blocked Athena out?” Winston had a pretty good idea what Ana was about to say, but, he wanted to make things as transparent as possible.
“If I had confirmed that Widowmaker was still on a mission for Talon – that she was infiltrating us to steal intelligence or planning to kill Lena, or anyone else, I was going to use the controls Talon implanted into her to force her to go to sleep, and then shoot her in the head.” Ana’s voice was hard as stone. She’d already admitted to the rest, why not this, too? “I allowed Widowmaker to harm my family twice. I was not going to give her a third opportunity.”
Winston was surprised that Morrison was the one to object first. “Christ, Ana. That’s not the way we do things!”
Ana turned, her voice skeptical. “You’d been advocating for shooting both of them, Jack.”
“Maybe,” he admitted, “but not like that. Shutting down her mind? Using that Talon mind control crap? That’s…” Morrison shook his head. “I’d have happily kicked the crap out of her to get some answers, but there’s limits.”
McCree shifted uncomfortably and ducked his head while Fareeha fixed the former Strike-Commander with a look, a muscle in her jaw jumping. Winston decided that was a good place to step back in before things degenerated again. “You were planning to kill her. Something changed.”
Surprise and a bit of shame began to color Ana’s voice. “Amélie was seeing Lena because she genuinely wanted to see her. Because she loves her.”
Jack shook his head. “How can someone like that love anyone? And what the hell does Oxton get out of this?”
Ana snorted, a bit of her old humor coming into her voice. “Aside from her documented weakness for tall, athletic women with accents?”
McCree couldn’t help but laugh at that. “Yeah, when you put it that way…figure about the only reason she didn’t hit on you when you showed up, ’Ree, is she knew Angie would have killed her.”
Winston tapped a finger on the table, ignoring Fareeha’s uncomfortable fidget. “Ana, if you wouldn’t mind giving us a real answer?”
“I can’t give you a certain answer,” the elder Amari admitted, “but…aside from a physical attraction, I can think of a few things. The most obvious is the fact that Lena didn’t know Amélie before she was taken. She doesn’t compare her to the past. She just takes her at face value. I imagine that means a great deal to her.”
Winston considered that, then nodded. “And if you had to make a guess about Lena?”
Ana shrugged. “Who better to understand what it’s like to live the way she does? With an external force that could take control of her at any time?”
“There’s more to it than that, I’d bet,” Jesse interjected, “think about how those two fight – well, fought. They knew each other inside and out before this started. I think Lena always believed there was a person – maybe not Lacroix, but someone – under what Talon made. That’s powerful stuff.”
Winston considered that with a grunt, then moved on. “What did you find when you spoke to Widowmaker, as opposed to Amélie, Ana?”
“Widowmaker had no standing orders from Talon, no mission profile to convert, subvert, or eliminate her. I forced her to answer every single question I asked – ensured there was no way she could lie to me. Phrased the questions several different ways and the answers never changed. She has an interest in Lena, too – she apparently likes how she feels when they’re together – but no hidden agenda.”
“I want to be clear about something,” Fareeha spoke up for the first time since they’d arrived, “how, exactly, did you ‘ensure’ she would tell you the truth?”
Ana looked down at the table. “I used one of the control keywords from her file. I ‘activated’ Widowmaker, and I watched Amélie Lacroix fight it the entire way as she lost control of her own body and mind.” The older Amari swallowed hard. “I watched the Widowmaker persona take over, she obeyed my commands until I shut her back down, and I saw what I had done to the woman trapped in there with her.”
“So you did torture her,” Fareeha ground out, “you simply did while keeping your hands clean.”
“Fareeha,” Ana raised her head, her eye filled with resignation. “I did what I felt necessary to protect the people I care about.”
“I’ve heard that before,” the younger Amari spat, and slapped the ‘OPEN’ button for the lab door before marching through it, “and it wasn’t a good excuse back then, either.”
Ana’s face became pinched with pain, and McCree looked to Winston in a silent question. Nodding, he sent the former Blackwatch gunman after his not-quite-sibling, closing the door in his wake. The lab doors shut again, and Winston moved to his desk, sitting back on one of the oversized tires he used for his furniture with a grunt. “At this point, Ana, do you believe the woman we’re holding in that cell is still a threat?”
Ana shrugged. “She’s one of the best snipers in the world, thanks to how Talon ‘modified’ and trained her, and unless Angela can find a way to break or change her conditioning so that it cannot be activated by someone else, she could still be forced to kill a target. But the documents Sombra provided me indicate that Talon was likely going to ‘retire’ Widowmaker outright in light of her recent performance, and I informed her of that before I left the cellblock.”
She set her shoulders, then delivered her conclusion. “Amélie Lacroix has no reason or desire to go back to Talon, and unless we do plan to execute Lena for treason, she has every reason to cooperate with us.” She considered her next words carefully, then met Winston’s thoughtful gaze. “As to the Widowmaker…I think she would accept working with Overwatch in the right circumstances. From what I’ve seen, I believe that Amélie can use the majority of her training without the Widowmaker persona being in control, but the possibility of…activating…her for our purposes is there.
“That’s not an option I plan to explore,” Winston stated flatly, “as far as I am concerned Overwatch is out of the assassination business. Battlefield sniping is one thing. Deliberately killing noncombatant or civilian targets is something else.”
“Depending what she can tell us about Talon,” Morrison admitted slowly, “you may have reasons to change your mind. Terrorists and conspirators don’t usually play by those kind of rules.”
“They may not,” Winston countered, “but we are supposed to, and I will hold Overwatch to that.” Turning his attention back to Ana, he considered her silently for a long moment before he spoke again. “By all rights, you should be in that cellblock along with Amélie and Lena. There’s a part of me that very much wants to put you there…but this entire situation seems like it could spiral out of control if all we do is assume the worst of each other.”
Ana gave him a guardedly interested look. “So what do you suggest, Winston?”
“First,” the scientist ordered, “you’ll turn over everything Sombra gave you. Second, if Angela will allow you to assist her in trying to evaluate and treat Amélie Lacroix and Widowmaker, you will give her any form of help she asks for. Third, you can consider yourself confined to the Watchpoint here until this situation is resolved, however we work things out, and I would prefer if you confined yourself to your assigned room and the communal areas of the base unless specifically requested. Fourth, and finally…” Winston sighed, taking his glasses off and rubbing the bridge of his nose. “When everyone has a better handle on their emotions, I would strongly appreciate it if you offered Amélie an apology for what you did to her. We owe her at least that much.”
Ana pushed the data drive and photographs away, then stood. “I have my doubts she’ll accept it, but…I will make an honest attempt.”
“Thank you,” Winston pointed to the door, “please go. Jack, you didn’t directly have a part in this, so I’m not going to attempt to impose any conditions on you…but please try not to start any more fights today? I have quite enough to deal with as it is.”
“I’ll stay out of people’s way,” Morrison conceded as he stood up, “especially Medical.”
“I appreciate that.” Winston turned back to his desk as the lab doors opened, then held up a hand, index finger pointing to the ceiling. “Oh – and both of you are having your access codes to Athena revoked. You’ll still have standard user access, but all of your admin privileges and overrides will be removed before the end of the day.”
That got a pained grunt from Morrison, but no other objections. Winston waited until he was alone and the lab door closed once more before taking the data drive from the table so he could evaluate it. He had quite a few things left to do.
When Jesse McCree caught up to the woman he often thought of as his little sister, he wasn’t surprised that Fareeha was punching the hell out of a heavy bag in the gym. Honestly with the way this day had gone, he was just glad she’d changed out of her Raptora suit before she’d started wrecking shit.
He waited for the younger woman to finish a punishing-looking combo, then whistled. “Pretty sure that’d put down a truck.”
Fareeha backed away from the bag and turned, her voice still thick with anger. “I suppose you’re here to tell me to calm down? Or come back?”
“Nah,” the gunslinger shook his head, hooking his thumbs in his belt, “for one thing, I know you’re already workin’ things off the way you do best, and for the other, dragging you back wouldn’t do anything but rile things right back up.”
“I was starting to trust her again, Jesse.” Fareeha slung a towel over her neck, then shook her head. “I was glad to have her back in my life. I was doing my best to forgive the way she just disappeared. But then for her to do…this and just go right back to her old line about how it was all to protect us? To protect me? She was perfectly willing to torture and murder someone in the name of ‘her family’. Where do I even start with how…fucked up that is?”
“I know,” Jesse agreed as he rubbed the back of his neck, “It was one thing for her to get that intel – honestly, that was pretty smart. But not sharing it? What she did with it? Reminds me an awful lot of something Reyes would have done. Reminds me of why I left the first time.”
Fareeha nodded, then let out a sigh as she rubbed at her forehead with one hand. “I’m not saying that we just forgive Widowmaker either…or Lena for that matter. I’m still angry at Lena for lying to us about what was going on. I’m still angry at Widowmaker for what she did to my mother. For all her other victims. She has to answer for that. But listening to what my mother learned…how she described what happened, and I think about the look on Widowmaker’s face when we made it to the cellblock. She was so…broken.”
Jesse let Fareeha talk herself out, then considered what to say. “There ain’t no clean answers, ’Ree. Not with a mess like this. But I guess one thing you may want to think about – what all of us are gonna have to think about – is how much of what happened was the fault of the woman in that cell, and how much was what Talon forced her to do. Was it really her finger on the trigger? Because from what I can tell, the more she had control of her own actions, the more she tried to keep herself from actually hurting us.”
Fareeha frowned. “If we believe Lena.”
Jesse shook his head. “Nah. I mean, I do, but we don’t have to just take her word for it. We’ve got stuff straight from Talon’s own files. If that confirms that Widowmaker wasn’t as effective as she was supposed to be, especially after they started makin' time together...”
“Huh.” Fareeha considered that, and nodded slowly. “Assuming Sombra didn’t doctor them, but Athena can probably spot that. Not a bad idea, Jesse.”
The cowboy smiled. “I have one or two of those, from time to time.”
“I’ll still need to deal with my mother, though.” Fareeha sighed. “And Angela. And Lena.”
Jesse chuckled. “Hopefully not all at once.”
Fareeha uttered a humorless laugh. “Hah. You think you’re funny, cowboy?”
“I do have my moments.” Doffing his hat, Jesse slipped off his serape and began to loosen the straps on his breastplate. “Tell you what – you could probably stand to go a few more rounds to help you get right, and I’m betting Angie’ll have her hands full in Medical for a while yet. Why don’t I lace up a pair of gloves?”
Fareeha finally had something close to a smile on her face. “Sure you can keep up with me? I hear smoking’s bad for your lungs – especially old guys like you.”
Jesse rolled his eyes. Not that he didn’t hear that piece of advice six times a day. “I guess we’ll just have to see – besides, I’ve got a few tricks you haven’t seen yet.”
Fareeha rolled her eyes as she took the towel from around her neck and tossed it into the dirty laundry bin. “Uh-huh. Unless they’re all the ones Gabriel taught me when he thought my mother wasn’t looking.”
Jesse put a hand over his heart. “Now you’re just insultin’ my creativity.”
“Oh, is that what you call it?” Fareeha climbed into the boxing ring, checking her gloves and waiting for her sparring partner, giving him a careful look as the older man settled into a loose stance. “Jesse?”
While Angela took Amélie for her exam, Lena had started to test the limits of her injured leg. She could just about make the walk from one end of the infirmary to the other without any pain, but she had a feeling Angela would be giving her a cane or set of crutches to go with the cast, and she certainly wasn’t going to be up to anything past a brisk trot until this healed. Lovely.
Not that she was planning to try running on it, but if something else went wrong, being hobbled meant she wouldn’t be of use to anyone.
Well. Not like this, anyway. If she could get her pistols and accelerator back, that was a different story, but there was still a lot to sort out before she had any hope of that happening.
Lena had used her good leg to hop back onto the patient bed and was doing a solid job of staring at the ceiling when the sound of footsteps caught her attention. She hadn’t expected that Angie would do anything to Amélie beyond what she’d promised, but Lena still felt a wave of relief when her lover walked back in, rubbing her fingers over the small “flesh tone” bandage on her arm that completely failed to blend into her abnormal skin.
Lena propped herself up on her elbows, keeping her voice hushed. “Everything go all right?”
Amélie crossed to the bed, and after a moment’s hesitation joined her there, Lena shifting onto her side to make enough room for both of them. “It was better than I expected. Angela was kinder than Talon's doctors.”
Lena’s initial instinct was to joke, but she realized just as quickly that wasn’t what her lover needed in that moment. “Good. I’m glad she was able to make things easier for you.” Running hand along the taller woman’s back, Lena closed her eyes with a sigh. “I suppose they’ll be putting us back in our cells soon.”
Lena felt Amélie’s lips brush her forehead before she drew closer, wrapping an arm around her. “Then I will make the most of the time we have.”
They were able to lay together for a good ten minutes before they were interrupted by the sound of a furious shout from Angela’s office.
Amélie was on her feet in an instant, her hands coming up in a defensive stance as Lena pushed herself into a sitting position with a wince. “Oh, that can’t be good.”
“No, it is not.” Amélie agreed dryly as she relaxed slightly, though the assassin still kept a wary eye on Angela’s office, where increasingly agitated German could be heard coming through the door. “I believe my test results have returned.”
“Guess we’d better find out,” Lena took a deep breath, then pushed herself up off the bed and back to the floor, “suppose it can’t make things much worse…”
“I am trying not to say such things anymore,” Amélie observed as they crossed to the doorway, Lena rapping the door with her knuckles, “I keep being proven wrong.”
Lena snorted a dark little laugh just before the door opened.
Angela’s face was still darkened with anger, but it was clearly not directed at them. She blinked in surprise at the two women who had come to the door, then made a soft ‘tsk’ at herself. “I’m sorry if I startled you. I wasn’t thinking about the two of you being outside.”
Amélie nodded, then locked eyes with the doctor. “You found something.”
“I did,” Angela confirmed, then looked thoughtful. “If it’s all right with the two of you, I’d like to discuss my findings in Winston’s lab, with him present.”
Lena looked back, finding her lover’s hand and squeezing it gently. “Your body, your call, luv.”
Amélie Lacroix hadn’t been a hesitant woman before Talon had taken her, and she was certainly not one now. She nodded firmly almost as soon as the words had left Lena’s mouth. “Oui, I will agree to that.”
Angela offered a grateful smile. “Thank you, Amélie. This isn’t a conversation I’d like to repeat. I’m sure you feel the same.” Then, pitching her voice a bit louder, the doctor looked up to the ceiling. “Athena? Can you please ask Winston if we can come up to his lab?”
“Of course,” the AI replied, and within a few seconds she spoke again, “Winston was just about to call you, Mercy. You are all welcome to come up.”
In contrast to Lena’s last visit to Winston’s lab (God, had it only been this morning?), the mood seemed less ominous, particularly since Lena and Amélie weren’t technically under guard. Winston offered a wave to them as they arrived, then shuffled from his desk to the same table Lena had begun her interrogation at before it had all gone to hell.
“Lena,” Winston greeted them, “Amélie. Have either of you had anything to eat since breakfast?”
“No,” Lena admitted, “I could use something, I suppose, but I don’t have much of an appetite.”
Amélie shrugged. “I rarely eat more than twice a day when I am on my own. Sometimes less. Talon normally provides a glucose injection I can use while in the field for basic calories.”
Angela muttered something in dark-sounding German under her breath at that, but Lena couldn’t catch enough to translate. Regardless, she agreed.
“Ah.” Winston considered that, then shrugged. “Well, still…Athena, can you please arrange for some food to be provided?”
The AI pinged, her logo flashing as she spoke. “Hana is on cooking duty this evening, Winston.”
The scientist gave the AI’s main display a look. “Please make sure it isn’t just bags of junk food, then, and ask if she can send some bottles of water, too.”
“I’ll contact her now.”
After the AI had pinged off, Lena nodded gratefully to her friend as they all sat down. “Thanks, Winston. I appreciate it.”
“This is a mess,” Winston sighed, “but even if we’re not happy with you – and I’m still trying to decide how I feel about all of this, if I’m honest – you still deserve to be treated better than we’ve managed today. I am sorry about what’s happened to both of you.”
Amélie seemed to consider that for a moment, and Lena knew her well enough to see the gears turning behind what most would have considered an expressionless face – she was trying to figure out just what to say. “I cannot change what I have done in the past, Winston, and I do not expect to be forgiven out of hand. You were not responsible for Ana’s actions – but I appreciate your apology.”
Winston nodded to her, then turned to the third woman at the table. “So, Angela, you had some things to discuss with us?”
“Yes,” the doctor confirmed, walking to the largest display. “Athena, can you please bring up the files I have open on my desktop, please?”
As the AI loaded several files for the doctor to use in her explanations, Lena put her hand in Amélie’s under the table. After a moment, the other woman’s cool fingers wrapped around hers, and squeezed.
The first picture to come up was a schematic diagram for something that looked a bit like a metallic jellyfish to Lena’s mind.
“This is a biochip,” Angela explained, fully in lecturing physician mode, “normally created through specially targeted and tuned nanobiotic surgical assemblers that construct it inside of the patient’s body to prevent rejection and reduce the risk of infection. There’s a few different designs on the market, but the most common are for epilepsy treatment and the interfaces used to link cybernetic limbs into the nervous system."
Angela nodded to the screen – apparently the cue to change slides, and the picture changed to show a series of black and white slides – what Lena realized after a moment were scans of her lover’s brain.
More to the point, as the slides began to be manipulated by Athena to create a three dimensional model, it was of the thing that had surrounded, and had apparently incorporated itself into Amé’s brain, and Lena could not stop herself from shivering as the AI highlighted the unnatural addition in red.
“I believe this began as a commercially available biochip design for seizure mitigation,” Angela went on, “which was then bastardized by Talon for their own purposes. I’m genuinely not sure if it was designed to be such an extensive modification from the beginning, or if they introduced additional nanoassemblers periodically as Talon ‘adjusted’ it.”
As the doctor spoke, Athena began to highlight certain areas of the model brain in different colors. “At this point, the chip has infiltrated – and I suspect co-opted – the portions of Amélie’s brain stem responsible for her respiratory function, voluntary and involuntary muscle control, the sensory areas of the parietal lobe, and her amygdala and temporal lobe, which are both involved in emotional response and survival instincts.”
Winston stared at the screen, his voice filled with horror. “This…this is a perversion. To take something designed to heal and twist it into something like that…”
Angela nodded. “Talon has never been respectful of anyone or anything – in some ways this is hardly new.”
“So what does that mean?” Lena asked as she frowned at the screen. “This biochip, it’s…alive?”
“Only in a very rudimentary sense,” Angela explained, “the nanites that created the chip and its connections use themselves to construct it, but it’s also grown into the surrounding tissue – that’s how it integrated into the brain in the first place – and there’s more.”
The next set of images formed a model of a human heart, and while the construct attached to it wasn’t as dramatic or difficult to follow, it was clear that something that did not belong there was grafted into the tissues of the muscle.
“This is another variation on the same concept – the biochip acting as something like pacemaker, artificially restricting the speed of your heartbeat, Amélie. I suspect the two are connected – but I can’t give you a better idea of how, yet.”
Winston cleared his throat with a basso rumble. “I was given some information while you were in the medical wing that may help with that. Ana, ah, acquired a cache of Talon data that included quite a lot of what had been done to create Widowmaker…what had been done to you, Amélie.” Winston glanced to where the blue skinned woman sat, getting a slight nod, then continued on. “I’ve been reviewing the data and everything appears genuine – obviously it’s where she learned how to trigger certain parts of your conditioning. I had planned to turn all the relevant files over to Angela to aid in your treatment.”
“That will help,” the doctor admitted, “but I am afraid I do not know how much can be done, at least on a physical level.”
Amélie pursed her lips, staring at the diagrams of her organs for a long moment, then nodded. “I believe I understand.”
Lena looked over, eyebrows raising. “That makes one of us.”
Angela sighed. “The problem is that these…devices…have been inside of Amélie’s body for more than seven years now. Not only have the tissues around the connections to the chips become thoroughly integrated, making removing them difficult at best, the larger issue is that her body has likely become dependent on them. Severing the connections could have extremely adverse effects – particularly with her heart and lungs. Talon’s implants have essentially been controlling those functions for Amélie and her brain may not be able to take over again at this point. On top of that, removing the chips might cause so much trauma that her brain would not recover at all – the risks involved are incredibly high, and the chances of survival quite poor at this point.”
Lena’s soft “Oh” was nearly inaudible as she squeezed Amélie’s hand. “OK, so that’s…that. But what about the seizures she suffers when she doesn’t take Talon’s medications? Or the conditioning – the keywords Winston talked about? Surely there’s something, Ange…”
Angela’s face was still set in a professional mask, but her eyes lightened a bit at the sight of Lena’s unwavering support. “Breaking posthypnotic suggestions or conditioning is possible. There are established techniques for it, and having the data from Winston may help to speed that process…but what Talon has been providing you wasn’t really a medication.”
Amélie tilted her head slightly, her eyebrows raising. “I was always told it was medications I needed to live after I was…altered. The first time I tried to resist by refusing to take them, I nearly died. It was the first time I was told that would not be permitted.”
“What you experienced,” Angela explained, her lingering anger at Talon coloring her words, “was a side effect of what was done to you. It appears the biochip’s influence on your brain has dramatically upset your body’s ability to create the proper amount of neurotransmitters. Some are being overproduced, others under. Your bloodwork showed a massive amount of synthetic transmitters and inhibitors in your system. If I had to theorize right now, when those eventually wear off, the symptoms you suffer are essentially grand mal epileptic seizures. If that is also disrupting the biochips, which I think is likely, you’d also be suffering arrhythmia, hyperventilation, heart palpitations, perhaps even going into pulmonary or respiratory arrest.”
Lena tapped her fingers on the tabletop. “I think I got that one, at least. So it’s a matter of maintaining the proper balance?”
Angela nodded. “Yes, basically. We may need to monitor Amélie’s brain chemistry, for now, to determine the exact levels needed – and the documents Ana recovered may help me with that as well, but I’d like to verify the data myself. Once we have that…I can’t promise a permanent solution, because that may not be possible, but I can at least replicate what Talon was providing, and perhaps an autoinjector and monitoring system could be devised so you could maintain your levels without feeling as if you are constantly at someone else’s mercy.”
Winston snorted. “Please tell me that pun was unintentional?”
The glare Angela directed at him was so scathing that Amélie actually laughed, and Lena felt as if, perhaps, there might be a way things would work out after all.
Sorry for the delay on this! We're not dead, I promise.
Angela groaned softly as she leaned back in her office chair. Since Athena had sent over a copy of the Talon medical files that Ana had ‘acquired’ from Sombra, she’d been trying to review the massive collection of files, but it had all begun to blur together.
Talon’s medical staff and ‘researchers’ had been exceptionally thorough in documenting every step in the process of creating, ‘enhancing’ and maintaining Widowmaker. It was impossible for her to absorb nearly a decade’s worth of work in an evening.
She knew this.
But it was better than returning to her quarters.
On an intellectual level, she knew it was foolish to avoid her bed because her lover might be there. After all, Fareeha had her own quarters, and it wasn’t unusual for them to sleep separate simply because of their work schedules and responsibilities. But the unspoken argument they’d had after Ana’s attack on Amélie had been discovered had hung over her like a thundercloud. Missing dinner hadn’t helped her either, really. After her sixth mug of coffee, Angela’s stomach had nearly revolted then and there.
Angela wanted to see her – to talk, to try to understand some of what Fareeha was going through, to remind herself that the horrors she had spent the day steeped in were not any kind of normal.
But would Fareeha let her? Winston had let slip that she’d nearly taken Ana’s head off earlier. Was she calmer now? Was she spoiling for a larger fight?
She sighed as the neatly spaced letters on her desk’s display blurred and fuzzed again, resisting her attempts to focus.
“I didn’t become a doctor because I was good at dealing with other people, dammit…”
She weighed her options. If she wanted to try to sleep without risking an argument, it would be easy enough to just curl up on one of the unoccupied beds. Winston had decided to place Amélie and Lena in the time traveler’s room under a house arrest rather than return them to the cells, after what had happened, so they had plenty of open space out there.
If she didn’t want to sleep…well. She had options for that too.
After considering things for a moment, she crossed to the medicine dispensary and retrieved a dose of omeprazole. Washing the 40mg capsule down with more coffee wasn’t really a wonderful decision, but once the proton pump inhibitor quieted her stomach down, she could probably manage a bit of food, and from there perhaps the Talon documents would make sense again.
They would be legible again. If what those butchers had done to the woman she’d once known ever started to make sense to her…
Unbidden, the image of Reaper’s bone-white mask, staring out of a dark hood appeared in her mind.
No. That was not a line of thought she would allow herself to follow tonight.
“I have made my mistakes,” she murmured to herself, “I cannot unmake them.”
“Funny,” another woman’s voice answered her, “I’ve been thinking along the same lines tonight.”
Angela hadn’t realized she was speaking aloud, and had certainly never expected to be answered. The doctor spun her chair around, grateful that she hadn’t cried out in alarm even as her heart raced.
Ana Amari gave her a sympathetic look. “Can’t sleep? Or won’t sleep?”
The doctor pinched the bridge of her nose. “A little of both, if I’m honest.”
Ana’s laugh had an edge of self-mockery. “You’re doing better than most of us today, then.”
Angela frowned. “I’m not sure what you mean, Ana.”
The sniper sighed as she sat down in one of the chairs Angela normally kept in her office for consultations. “I mean that if a few more of us – and I include myself in that – had been more honest lately…maybe things wouldn’t be such of a mess right now.”
“I don’t know,” Angela admitted, “but you are probably right.”
Ana cocked her head slightly. “You’re avoiding Fareeha.”
Angela glared. “I…am attempting to avoid starting another argument today.” She looked up at the clock on her office wall, and winced. “Yesterday, technically. There have been enough of those.”
“Is it because of what I did?” Ana managed to sound contrite, at least. “She had no idea. No one else did – I acted alone.”
“I know she didn’t,” Angela admitted,” and…yes. Somewhat. We were…” Sighing, she leaned back in her chair, tilting her head back to look up at the dimmed light fixtures in the ceiling. “We were both upset by discovering Lena’s…deception. Fareeha has always admired her – not the same way she used to look up to Reinhardt or Gabriel, but for what she did with Overwatch before being disbanded, and for coming back after the Recall. She trusted Lena. Finding out she’d been hiding secrets from us would have hurt her no matter what, but to find out she was sleeping with Widowmaker – with the woman who nearly killed you – she was furious.”
Ana took that on board, her expression neutral. “How did you feel?”
“Oh,” Angela admitted, “after I got over my initial shock – you have no idea what I heard out of them – I was angry, too…but I was willing to listen to explanations. Fareeha wasn’t, and we had argued about that before Winston brought Lena in for questioning. After your…” Angela trailed off, looking for a word.
She shook her head at Ana’s suggestion. “I think interference would be a better word.”
Ana winced, but gestured for her to go on.
“After Athena alerted us to your actions,” Angela continued, “She was angry – but I think she was relieved that we didn’t find a dead body in Amélie’s cell.” Angela fixed the woman who might as well have been her mother-in-law, despite what she’d told Lena earlier, with an angry stare. “And then we learned what you had done.”
Ana looked away. “You probably will not believe me…but after what I learned from Widowmaker, I am not proud of what I did to Amélie.”
“I should hope not,” Angela spat, “given the circumstances. But…” Her stomach roiled as she realized that she was getting sidetracked, dammit, why wasn’t that medication kicking in? “Fareeha didn’t seem to understand the impact of what you had done. Not really. There wasn’t time to make it clear.”
Ana sighed. “I think that’s changed, now.”
“Regardless,” Angela waved that away, “we didn’t have time to argue about it, but I could tell she was confused why it mattered to me – and I could tell she was upset that I became so concerned about Amélie and Lena. I…didn’t want to aggravate that. So after I gave Winston a briefing on my initial findings, I decided to take the data you…provided…and to start reviewing it.”
“That…was six hours ago,” Angela admitted, “and most of the documents are word salad, right now. I was going to try to eat, have a bit more coffee, and see if they become a bit more comprehensible.”
Ana shook her head. “You used to do that all the time when you were younger, and you and I both know it wasn’t good for you.”
The doctor shrugged. “Perhaps, but it is a solution I am familiar with.”
Ana gave her a pitying look. “Angela…if I know one thing about Fareeha, it is exactly how stubborn she is. But I also know how much she cares about you. My genuine advice right now – do not burn yourself out tonight. Amélie will need you. Go sleep. Fareeha will be waiting.”
“I find it odd that you’re concerned about what Amélie will need,” Angela noted acidly, “given what has happened.”
Ana looked away again so sharply that Angela’s rebuke could have been a physical slap. “I probably deserved that,” she admitted slowly, “but I did not come here to start a fight with you, either.”
Angela closed her eyes and silently counted to ten, then back down to zero before she opened them again. “Then why are you here, Ana?”
“Winston asked me to offer you any help you would accept in trying to treat Amélie’s…condition. I saw the light on because I couldn’t sleep either.” The sniper paused for a moment. “I do not expect you to simply pretend nothing has happened, Angela. But I do think that whatever you can do for that girl, you will have an easier time of it on a good night’s rest.”
Angela was silent for a long moment, then sighed as she admitted defeat. “I…yes. You are probably right about that.” She stood, then tapped a key to lock down her desktop for the night. “I want to focus on the neurotransmitter problem first. Replacing the cocktail that Talon was providing and determining the proper maintenance dose will be a good way to begin. If that is something you think you may be able to help with, we can look at it tomorrow – if Amélie consents to letting you be involved with her treatment.”
Ana nodded. “If nothing else I can try to check Talon’s records for any references to the proper dosages tonight, and provide that to you.”
“Very well.” Angela walked to the door. “Good night, Ana.”
“Good night, Angela.”
It was a short walk to her quarters, and despite Ana’s reassurance, she felt her uneasy stomach do a flip when she saw Fareeha sit up in her – their – bed when she entered the bedroom.
“Fareeha,” she sighed, “I’m sorry…”
Wordlessly, the powerfully built woman stood, then stepped forward to wrap her in a hug.
The sheer relief felt like a rising sun inside of her, and she closed her eyes, basking in the Egyptian’s warm embrace as her nerves finally settled.
“Shh.” Fareeha murmured softly, “I am, too. We can talk about it more later, but for now…come to bed.”
Angela nodded, slipping out of Fareeha’s embrace so she could undress, not bothering to put anything away properly. She could pick things off the floor in the morning.
Angela fell into bed as much as she lay down, Fareeha’s arm slipping around her waist. Her eyes closed, and the doctor lost herself in the quiet sounds of her lover’s breathing and the warmth of her touch until sleep finally overcame her.
Compared to being forcibly sedated, sleeping in a prison cell, or stealing a nap on a hospital bed, Lena would say waking up in her own bed was a hell of an improvement. Then, of course, there was the company. Winston allowing them to spend the night together was a huge concession. She hoped that wouldn’t cause more friction. Still, the way he and Angela had been talking with them after they ate dinner in his lab was encouraging. Hopefully it was a step in the right direction, anyway.
Lena considered herself an early riser, but Amé usually was up and gone well before she woke when they stole a little time, here and there. The rare occasions where she was up first were always special ones for her – a sign of how much trust the assassin was placing in her.
Today, they didn’t exactly have anywhere to go – but she still felt a little thrill when she opened her eyes to feel her lover’s arm resting against her waist, the press of Amélie’s cool body against her back.
Turning herself over as carefully as she could, Lena pressed a kiss to the blue-skinned woman’s forehead, drawing a happy, sleepy murmur. “Un peu plus longtemps, ma lionne…”
“Well,” she whispered back with a smile, “not like we have anywhere else to be this morning.”
To her surprise, a knock at her door put a lie to that statement.
Amé turned over onto her back with a groan. “Do you remember when I told you I’d stopped saying such things, chérie?”
Lena grunted as she sat up, wrapping a bathrobe around herself as she walked to the door, belting it closed before opening up. “Hullo…?”
“Howdy,” Jesse McCree nodded from the hallway, “I’m supposed to walk you both to breakfast, ladies.”
“…oh.” Lena blinked. “Uh. Alright. Hang on a mo, we’ll both need to get dressed.”
“Take your time,” the gunslinger assured her, “I’ll wait here.”
“I heard him,” Amélie confirmed as Lena closed the door, “I suppose I’ll need to get some more clothes, eventually.”
“Mm. I mean, you could borrow a shirt, but don’t think it’d fit terribly well.” Lena pulled a plain black T-shirt on, settling it over her anchor implant before tugging it down the rest of the way and then stepping into a pair of sweatpants. “Satya and Fareeha are a little closer to your size…”
The sniper snorted as she finished zipping her prisoner jumpsuit back up. “I do not imagine they’d allow me to wander through their closets any time soon.”
Lena’s eyes swept the room as Jesse lead them into the Watchpoint’s dining area. No Ana or Jack, thank God. Angela was nursing a cup of coffee at a table, but no sign of Fareeha, which was a bit unexpected.
Other than that, the only people sitting down at the moment appeared to be Satya and Zenyatta – and to her surprise, the monk raised a hand to welcome them, indicating to sit at his table.
“You ok with that, luv?”
Amélie considered it for a moment, then nodded. “It cannot be more awkward than the last time we saw him unexpectedly.”
“Oh, god,” Lena groaned, “I hope he hasn’t said anything about that to…anyone, honestly.”
Jesse coughed. “Well. Sounds like there’s a story there – ya’ll go sit and I’ll handle gettin’ you some grub.”
Amélie’s eyes narrowed slightly, but Lena put a hand on her lover’s arm to forestall her. “That’d be aces, Jesse. Thanks.” She waited for McCree to start heading for the kitchen before leaning in to speak with her as they made their way to where Zenyatta waited for them. “Jesse seemed to be on our side when I was talking to Winston earlier – or at least not in the ‘shoot them all and let God sort ’em out’ crowd. You can trust him.”
Amélie grimaced, but nodded as she settled down at the table. “I shouldn’t be concerned about the food they provide us, but after what happened…”
Lena sighed. “Right. I get it, I do. If it makes you feel a little more at ease, trade me plates when he brings them over?”
The sniper shrugged, humming noncommittally.
Zenyatta’s head tilted slightly as he considered them, his bearing one of interest but not hostility. “Do you believe you are still our enemy, then?”
“I am not sure,” Amélie answered slowly, giving the monk a cautious look, “I believe Winston when he apologized for how I was treated by Ana, and how Lena was treated by Morrison. I believe Angela when she told me last night that she wants to find a way to…” Amélie trailed off, considering how to explain her situation. “To stabilize my condition, I suppose.”
The omnic brought his hands together, palm to palm. “You distrust Overwatch because of their hostility? Or because Overwatch has failed both you and Lena before?”
Lena winced. “That’s not entirely –”
“Isn’t it?” Zenyatta’s interruption wasn’t angry – more the interjection of a teacher discussing a point with a student. “You would not have been lost if Overwatch had applied more caution in the testing of the Slipstream. Widowmaker would not have been created if Overwatch had been more diligent in protecting Amélie from Talon – or been more thorough in examining her after she was rescued from their custody.”
Amélie raised a hand. “You are not wrong. But the Overwatch that did those things – that failed us – is not the same as this Overwatch. I recognize that.”
“So you judge the actions of Overwatch since the recall differently than the organization that preceded it.” Zenyatta didn’t give much away, but Lena thought he sounded pleased by that response. “If that is the case, should we not judge your actions now separately from those taken while you were under Talon’s direct control?”
Amélie became very still as Zenyatta spoke, like an animal who knew she might be in a hunter’s sights. “Even the death of your brother?”
The omnic let his hands come down to rest against the table. “I felt my brother’s loss deeply. I still do. But did you choose to take his life, or did Talon compel you to strike him down?”
“I acted under Talon’s commands,” Amélie conceded, “but it was still my finger pulling the trigger. What Widowmaker did…what I did…it is not always so easy to separate them as that.”
“Talon did not order you to become Lena’s lover,” Zenyatta countered, “or for you to continue that relationship.”
That got a derisive snort. “Quite the opposite. Had they known…”
“So – perhaps some of your actions are easier to judge than you believe.”
Lena smiled encouragingly. “It’s worth a thought, luv.”
Amélie considered that for a moment, but before she could say more, Jesse arrived with identical plates of eggs, toast, and sausages. Lena silently raised an eyebrow, offering to trade as they’d discussed.
Amélie gave McCree and Zenyatta thoughtful looks, then took up her fork and took a bite of her eggs.
If you're curious about the last time they ran into Zenyatta, check out "Bolthole & Hideout" (NSFW).
Also, check out this gorgeous art by Tesslyn from chapter 2!
This fic is still alive, but may be updated closer to monthly while other projects are pushed forward / wrapped up. :)
It took just over a week for Angela to determine the cocktail of neurotransmitters and suppressors Talon had been dispensing to Amélie, and to verify the proper dosages. Ana had apparently assisted with that task, in the background, but the doctor had very scrupulously kept them separated.
Angela had asked Amélie if she was comfortable with Ana assisting her, which she appreciated. She didn’t quite know how she felt about being in the same room with the elder Amari, given all that had happened between them, but she’d agreed to her helping Angela on the problems of her altered biology. Ana had many years of field medic experience in addition to her sniping training, and her bootlegged versions of Ziegler’s nanobiotic technology gave her some insights that might be useful.
Talon had taught her to never discard a useful resource.
So now she was back in the Watchpoint: Gibraltar medical bay, and Angela would be administering her ‘treatment.’
Lena had come with her, of course, and the cowboy – Jesse, she reminded herself – acting as their minder.
McCree did seem to be on their side – or at least was willing to give them time to prove themselves. Amélie wasn’t sure she trusted him – she didn’t think she trusted anyone in Overwatch outside of Lena – but she was becoming more comfortable around him.
It wasn’t hard to see that three camps seemed to be forming at Gibraltar, at least among the members of Overwatch who currently resided there. Some, like Morrison and the younger Amari, still wanted them locked up, and seemed to be waiting for the moment where Widowmaker and a secretly corrupted Tracer rose up in the middle of the night to betray them to Talon.
Others, like McCree, Shimada, and Zenyatta were more inclined to believe that Lena was still on their side, and that Amélie was…not innocent, precisely, but deserving of a second chance, perhaps.
“You ain’t the only person here who’s done things they’re not proud of,” Jesse had told her one afternoon at lunch, “and you had a lot less choice about it than some.”
She was fairly sure he included himself in that last group.
Amélie wasn’t certain if the rest of Overwatch had decided to give them enough rope to hang themselves with, or if they simply hadn’t chosen a side yet.
Angela calling her name drew Amélie back from considering their situation.
“Amélie? Did you hear me?”
“I am sorry,” she apologized as she refocused her attention on the doctor, “I…became distracted.”
Angela gave her a sympathetic smile. “I said that after we administer the formula, I’d like you to stay overnight for observation, to make sure your neurotransmitter levels remain stable. If that succeeds, we can discuss how you’d prefer to go forward with future maintenance doses, and discuss next steps.”
“If?” Lena’s voice held an undercurrent of concern. “I thought you were pretty certain you had this sorted, Ange.”
“I’m afraid that nothing is ever absolutely guaranteed in medicine - particularly where the human brain is concerned.” Angela held up the syringe filled with a clear liquid. “I am fairly confident that we have the correct combination and dosage, especially since we can compare it to Talon’s own files, but until we see that it is working properly, it’s theory, not practice.”
Amélie considered that, then nodded. “I appreciate your honesty, Doctor.” She’d tried calling her Angela again but it didn’t quite feel right to address her so familiarly. Not yet. “Would it be possible for Lena to stay with me?”
Angela smiled. “I assumed you’d request that. Winston had no issues with it – but I have to let you know there will be a guard outside.”
Lena sighed. “As usual.”
“It is better than being told ‘no’,” Amélie observed pragmatically, then raised her left arm. “Please, go ahead.”
Angela tapped the syringe to make sure there were no air bubbles, located a good vein, and carefully injected the contents while Amélie remained utterly still.
“And…there. All done!” Angela withdrew the needle and placed a cotton ball over the injection site. “If you’d put pressure on that for a moment?”
Amélie nodded, and lifted her arm. “How long before you will need to begin monitoring the results?”
Angela considered that. “A few hours, I think.”
Lena hopped down off the other bed and put her arms around Amélie from behind, resting her head against her lover’s shoulder. “Think you could let Jesse take us over to the kitchen for lunch? Maybe out to the garden?”
“Yes,” the doctor agreed, “but please have them back by three in the afternoon, Jesse.”
The cowboy pushed off from the wall he’d been holding up, then tipped his hat. “Pretty sure I can arrange that.”
Lena had gotten used to the kitchen and mess being empty when she and Amélie were brought in for meals, if Jesse or Zenyatta didn’t bring meals to her room. Maybe Genji or a few others, and she’d had dinner with Winston on Thursday, but not much more.
She missed the bigger ‘family style’ dinners they’d been having before everything blew up in her face. Hard to say if they’d get back to that, but part of her wanted to hope – having Amé next to her and feeling like she could be part of something again would be nice.
To her surprise, Hana was waiting for them when Jesse brought them in, wearing a T-shirt from her D.Va merchandise line and a skirt over ripped up tights, glowering at them with her arms crossed.
“Uh.” Lena waved weakly. “Hi?”
“Don’t you go Hi to me!” Hana seemed to completely ignore Amélie’s presence and stalked forward until she was jabbing a finger into the glowing disc cast by the anchor beneath Lena’s shirt. “I went to go do some photoshoots with Lú for two days and I get back and I find out you’ve been sneaking around to go bang Spider-Bitch –”
“I am right here,” Amélie deadpanned.
“Yeah, noticed, congrats for hitting that, ranting now.” Hana’s eyes flicked back to where Lena was staring at her in bewilderment. “Anyway. TWO DAYS, and I fly back and find out you and 76 are trying to kill each other, Grandma’s got an ankle monitor, and half of you guys are under arrest? I’m going everywhere trying to cover the extra load, so I hadn’t even gotten a chance to yell at you until now, and what the fuck, Lena?!”
Lena sighed. “I’m sorry. And for the record I mostly just wanted to punch Jack, not kill him.” She let her focus drop to the floor. “My jury is still out on Cap, though.”
Hana’s anger seemed to be played out, leaving hurt and concern in its wake. “You could have told me.”
Lena heard the pain in her voice and reached out to take Hana by her shoulders, bringing her in for a hug. “I’m sorry, luv. I was scared. I was…well. You saw what happened. We were afraid of all this – or worse – and the idea of telling anyone just felt impossible.”
Hana sniffed against her shoulder. “I guess. But…I thought we were friends.”
Lena winced. How she must have felt – how this must have looked. No wonder Winston and so many of the others were avoiding her. “Oh, god, Hana…we are. We are friends, and we’ll still be friends if you want to be, ok? I just…I didn’t want Amé to get hurt, and I didn’t want anyone else to get hurt…and I’ve royally buggered it all up, so now I have to see if we can figure out how to fix things, and what happens next.”
Hana straightened back up. “OK. So…can I do anything to help, now?”
Lena shrugged, her face falling. She felt Amélie’s hand on her shoulder, and she reached up to place her own over it, squeezing her fingers lightly. “I don’t know, luv. A lot of things right now aren’t up to me. Angie’s helping with the medical stuff, so that’s going at least. But…it’d be nice to have lunch with you?”
“I can do that.” Hana grinned as she gestured over to a table. “C’mon.”
Lunch with the Korean girl was…interesting. She was quite capable of filling any silence with a barrage of idle chatter, and somewhat to Amélie’s surprise she started including her – asking a few questions (though never, she noticed, calling her Amélie or Widowmaker, always using a seemingly endless supply of nicknames) and occasionally seeing if she had an opinion about a subject. (She generally didn’t, but once or twice she spoke up.)
Lena began to relax more as the meal went on, and when Hana had finally left, it seemed like something had settled back into place inside of her. Jesse had offered to take their plates back to the kitchen, and Amélie found herself drawing Lena towards her, making a soft ‘ah’ as Lena’s head settled against her shoulder. “Better, ma lionne?”
“I think, maybe.” Lena shrugged against her. “I hadn’t quite realized how much being separated from almost everyone was getting to me, and when Hana went up like that…” She sighed. “I already felt bad about Winston and the rest, but this sort of brought it home.”
“I think you’ve done a good job of trying to…” Amélie pursed her lips as she tried to remember the phrase. “Mend fences? Hana seemed happy to talk to you.”
“Yeah, that was good.” Lena lightly kissed her cheek, and Amélie gave a pleased little hum. “I’m tryin’. Just really not sure how to go about it with some of them…Fareeha especially. I don’t feel bad about wanting to sock Jack or Cap, honestly, after all that happened, but…it’s her mum, and I…” She sighed. “I lied to her, too.”
“Well,” Amélie observed dryly, “at least you didn’t actually shoot Ana.”
Lena snorted. “Suppose you’ve got me there.”
There was a cough from Jesse, who must have been waiting for a good break in the conversation. “You ladies still feel like seeing the garden for a little while?”
They made eye contact for a moment before Lena hopped down. “Absolutely. I think a little time out under the sun will do us both some good.”
The garden that provided most of the watchpoint’s fresh fruit and vegetables was empty when Jesse lead them out to it.
Occasionally they’d visited when Zenyatta and Genji were using it for meditation, or encountered the Bastion unit tending the set of bird boxes that had been erected in the back of the green space, but Amélie had to admit she didn’t mind the privacy today.
They walked between a few rows of raised beds before settling down on one of the stone benches that overlooked the cliffs and the waters of the Strait, taking in the sun and the sea air for a few minutes before Lena cleared her throat softly.
“I wanted to ask how you were doing today? Mentally.”
Amélie leaned forward, looking down at her hands. “It’s…” She shrugged. “I can feel her in the back of my mind. Feel it. Her. Me. Watching, I think. Angela still isn’t sure how much of Widowmaker is Talon’s programming and the chip, and how much was…is…my own mind, attempting to protect itself. It’s like…a shiver at the back of myself.”
Lena pursed her lips. “Have you felt like she was…I don’t know…pushing? Trying to make you do anything?”
“Non.” Amélie shook her head. “Whatever Ana did to release her, she…contained…her just as effectively. But it is still…” She sighed and shrugged. “It was one thing to know Talon had…altered…my mind. To see it…it is difficult.”
“Oh, luv…” Even in the afternoon sunlight, Lena radiated warmth. “You know it doesn’t matter to me, right? I know who you are.”
There was a bitter edge to her chuckle. “That makes one of us, ma petite lionne.”
Lena pressed a kiss to the crown of her head. “You are Amélie Lacroix. You are a woman who has been through some of the hardest things I’ve ever seen, and survived. You’re so strong, and it takes my breath away. It’s one of the most beautiful things about you…” She looked up, and Lena was smiling a bit shyly. “And believe me, luv, you have a lot of beautiful things.”
She could feel her cheeks warming under Lena’s praise. “Even now? While we are prisoners of your friends?”
Lena laughed softly. “Especially now. Because you’re still here, yeah?”
Amélie sat up to consider Lena’s eyes, then closed the space between them for a kiss. “If I am with you, mon amour, I would not wish to be anywhere else.”
Lena sat in the Watchpoint gym on a mat, working through some of the exercises Angela had prescribed for rehabbing and strengthening her ankle.
She’d been out of the walking boot for a week without any pain, and it was good to feel things moving as they should. She’d finished the basic warm up stretches, testing how her foot flexed, and had been about to grab one of the resistance bands when she saw the door slide open.
She’d been about to wave or say hello, depending on who had come down to get a workout in, but Lena’s words died in her throat when she realized it was Ana. Her body suddenly tightened with tension as she watched the older woman walk towards her.
“Captain Amari.” Professional. Proper. Maybe a little terse, but it wasn’t like she had a lot of good things to say to the woman right now. Just go away. Please.
“Good morning, Lena.” Ana took a set of free weights from the rack and began to loosen up, apparently oblivious to her coldness. “I’m not really a Captain anymore, though. If you should be calling anyone that it’s Fareeha.”
Lena snatched up the resistance band and wrapped it around her foot, flexing against the rubber until it began to push back. “I’m not talking to her very much lately, either.”
She hadn’t actually meant to say that out loud, but Ana just gave a grunt of acknowledgement before she began her own workout, an awkward silence settling over them until the older woman changed the subject as Lena switched to another exercise, lying back and working the muscles in her calf.
“How is your ankle coming along?”
Lena shrugged against the mat, staring up at the ceiling. “Fine.” She tried to keep her voice fairly neutral, but a little of her lingering unease at Ana’s presence still bled through.
“Hm.” Ana walked over until she was looming into her field of view. “Are you doing any isometric exercises? It will help prevent re-injury.”
Lena raised her leg again, focusing on the feel of her muscles as they stretched and burned. “Supposed to work with a trainer for those. Angela’s busy and Lúcio’s hopping around like mad, from what Hana told me.” Aleksandra is probably trained enough to help, but she’s part of the club who won’t talk to me right now, Fareeha still looks at me like I’m something on the bottom of her shoe, and the only other two who probably have any experience with rehab are you and Jack.
“As it happens,” Ana observed dryly, “I haven’t got much on my schedule at the moment.”
She thought of six different things she could say, each worse than the last. Finally, she let her leg fall to the mat with a sigh and scooted into a sitting position before giving the older woman an exasperated look. “Fine.”
Ana sat down in front of her, letting her braid fall back over her shoulder as she got into position to help with the exercise, her hands on either side of the outstretched foot. “Try to push your foot out.”
Lena did as she asked, while Ana pushed back, occasionally shifting her grip to force Lena to adjust her ankle, making sure there was no weakness or pain.
They’d gone through two sets of ten reps, and another two sets with Lena trying to hold her foot still against attempts to move it before Ana touched on the elephant in the room again. “Jack told me a bit about what you said to him during your…interview. About how he turned his back on you. How he left you and the others to answer for what he and Gabriel had done.”
Lena’s throat felt tight, and if Ana hadn’t had such a strong grip on her foot she’d have yanked it away, stood, and left. “Yeah?”
“You reopened some old scars.” Ana began to push on her foot again, and Lena reluctantly pushed back. “He wasn’t terribly happy to be called out…” Ana paused, then made eye contact before going on in a slightly regretful voice. “But you weren’t wrong.”
Lena tilted her head slightly as she met Ana’s gaze. “Didn’t expect you to say that.”
Ana shook her head. “It’s the truth. We both walked away.” She sat back, her hand coming up to lightly run a finger over the side of her eyepatch. I could have let Overwatch know I was alive after I woke up in the hospital. Jack could have waited for the rescue teams or simply turned himself in. We both chose to disappear instead of facing our mistakes…and others paid the cost, instead.”
Lena looked away first, this time. “I wasn’t the only one.”
“No,” Ana agreed, “but we’d put you in a position where you certainly paid a heavy price. You’d just started to find your way in the world again when we let it be taken away from you. And now…” Ana sighed. “I realize you have no reason to believe me, Lena, but I never wanted you to get hurt. I was trying to – hoping to – keep you safe. And I am sorry for what has happened. Then, and now.”
Lena didn’t feel the rage that had boiled up in her when dealing with Jack, but she couldn’t really say she felt like she’d forgiven Ana, either. It was all a greasy, nasty mishmash in her gut that left her frustrated, unable to really find an outlet. “I’m not the one who deserves an apology.”
She was getting tired of saying that, honestly. Winston, Angela, how many others acted like Amélie hadn’t been hurt by what they’d said or done? Why were her feelings the only ones that seemed to matter?
“That’s not true.” Ana’s voice softened as Lena looked at her in confusion. “Yes – Amélie does deserve an apology, and I intend to give her one when she is ready to speak to me. But so do you, Lena. For the hurt we’ve inflicted on you recently, and for what happened before.”
Lena looked down at her lap. “I understand why people are angry that I lied to them. Why they’re not sure if they can trust me. It hurts…but I understand it. What I don’t understand is the ones who won’t even try to talk to me. The ones who seem to think I’m going to kill them in their sleep. How I’m supposed to fix things but they won’t even let me try.”
Lena could feel some of that same anger that she'd felt at Morrison's callous dismissals surging up to the surface as she went back over the painful territory again. “But you come back and all’s forgiven. We find out 76 is Jack and Winston was ready to hand him the keys until Morrison turned him down flat. We let Jesse and Genji show they’d changed from their days in Blackwatch. Satya leaves Vishkar and we give her the chance to show she wants to do the right thing. We’re giving Genji’s brother a fair shot and Hanzo fucking killed him!” Her hands clenched into fists, and she had to force herself to relax, taking a deep breath and slowly letting it out through her nose.
“Everyone else gets a second chance,” Ana translated, “so why not you?”
Lena sighed. “Yes. Maybe. I don’t know…”
“It’s a fair question.” Ana sat back, reaching for a water bottle. “The best answer I can give you is time. Everyone has had a few years to let the wounds heal in nearly all of those cases – Satya being one of the few exceptions, but the Dos Santos boy seems to have been convinced that her wish to change is genuine.”
Lena considered that, and nodded. “Hana helped with that. She saw how Satya really was pretty quickly, under all that Vishkar bollocks.” She sighed. “But the rest…like you said, it took years.” Lena looked away, her voice growing quiet. “Amélie doesn’t have years…and I’ve never been sure how much time I’ll have.”
Ana didn’t respond right away, but the way her eye flicked to the glow of the chronal anchor was an answer in its own way.
As long as the implant kept her in the here and now, Lena might live forever, or she might age a hundred years overnight and die tomorrow. Winston simply wasn’t sure, and they weren’t about to try replicating the Slipstream accident with lab rats to try and figure it out. All she could do was just…keep going, and see where things took her.
Lena usually liked to joke it had worked out pretty well so far. Lately…not so much.
Ana cleared her throat, pushing away some of the awkward, oppressive silence that had fallen between them. “Perhaps you’re right. But…I might be able to suggest an idea.”
Lena gave her a cautiously interested look as she sat back on the mat. “OK, I’m listening…”
Amélie’s head was pounding and she felt like everything was too much.
Angela’s replacement for Talon’s ‘maintenance’ medications had been stable now for the better part of a month, and the doctor had decided it was time to try adjusting some of her brain chemistry back to a more ‘natural’ state.
At first she’d barely noticed it – a little more warmth, perhaps, than she’d been used to for the last few years. Something like the rush she experienced from fighting and killing as Widowmaker, but less immediately intense. But as her brain began to make use of the increased dopamine, she’d found that warmth growing to the point where it all seemed to burn, and her emotions swung wildly from one extreme to another. Some days were fairly normal, but at others she barely felt in control of anything, completely unable to moderate herself.
Zenyatta had provided some breathing exercises and meditation techniques she could use to help with “calming the raging storm,” but Amélie was tired of being calm. Tired of not feeling. Tired of being told to control herself.
It was a constant struggle, all too similar to the ways Talon had forced her to ‘behave properly’ for so long, and though she knew Angela and those who were choosing to help her were doing it from benevolent motives, there were still times it chafed. Times when she could feel Widowmaker’s coldness rattling at the back of her mind like a wind through dead leaves, and that little whisper that she could make those things disappear. Times when Amélie just wanted to scream.
And as she stood in the communal kitchen and realized they were out of milk again, after she had already poured a bowl of breakfast cereal, despite constantly hearing the Gorilla admonishing the people handling their shopping to make sure they bought more – there was even a note on the refrigerator to remind them! – she gave into the urge and did just that.
“I HATE THIS!”
She whirled, throwing the bowl with a wordless cry of frustration and watching as it shattered against the wall, sending bits of puffed rice and shards of ceramic flying. The sudden release gave her an unexpected thrill, and she grabbed one of the legion of identical coffee mugs with the Overwatch logo glazed into the side from the sink and hurled it as well, the last dregs of dark liquid inside making a fascinating pattern on the white paint.
She’d destroyed another dish and had been reaching for a brilliant blue crystal glass, already anticipating how the light would sparkle and dance off the fragments, when a dark skinned hand reached out and lightly wrapped around her wrist.
“There is no purpose in this.”
She turned, eyes blazing, to face the Vishkar woman, who was gazing at her with an expression of such disdain that it made her anger transform almost instantly to shame, a sudden sadness welling up inside of her before she could even try to understand why.
“I…it…” She gestured helplessly at the refrigerator with her free hand. “We were out of milk again. They never remember. It is always ignored, or forgotten, and I cannot simply leave and buy some because I am a prisoner here, and even if I could, Talon has almost certainly emptied my bank accounts and is trying to find me.” Her eyes fell to the mess she’d made on the floor, and tears began to prick at her eyes. “I just…felt…something. I threw the bowl, and it broke, and I…I am sorry.” She felt the tears starting to track down her face, and shook her head as she tried to wipe them away. “I am sorry…I don’t know what is going on…I don’t know why I did any of that…Je suis tellement désolé!”
The architech (Lena had called her Satya, she suddenly recalled) released her hand and raised her artificial palm, teasing out hard light until she had created a broad-mouthed dust pan. “I believe you.” She handed over the tool, then walked to a cabinet along the other wall, pulling out a broom. “We will clean this up, and then I will inform Winston that I am going to the store. Would you care to accompany me?”
Amélie stared as if she’d grown a third arm. “Did you not hear me when I said I am a prisoner?”
Satya shrugged. “Since the…incident…in the cellblocks Winston has been adamant that you be treated as a guest – or as Doctor Ziegler’s patient. I see no reason why a guest cannot assist me.” She reached out and tapped the shaft of the broom handle against the edge of the pan. “Here – put the pan on the floor so I may sweep up.”
She knelt down and tipped the pan against the floor, collecting the debris as Satya gathered it up with the broom, then emptied it into the garbage. After the fourth pass, the floor appeared spotless, and Satya expertly removed the stain on the wall with a damp paper towel, making it seem as if nothing had even happened.
“Much better.” Collecting the pan from her, Satya did something to make it dissolve away into thin air, then gave the loose pair of sweatpants, workout shoes, and dark grey Overwatch T-shirt she’d been given out of the Watchpoint’s old supplies a critical look. “Perhaps we can acquire some additional clothing for you while we are out.”
Amélie had to admit she liked the sound of that. “I would appreciate some more choices in my wardrobe…but as I said, I have no money.” Her wallet, all of her cover IDs, bank cards, all had been left at the safehouse she’d been using, and Talon had almost certainly collected them once they’d begun to search for her whereabouts.
Satya’s mouth quirked in an odd little smile. “That will not be an issue.” Her eyes flicked up to a clock. “I will speak to Winston about going into town. Meet me at the hangar bay in ten minutes.”
She felt like she ought to object further, especially after her outburst, but before she had time to say anything more, Satya had turned and left the kitchen, heading off in the general direction of the lab.
Lena would be doing her physical therapy, and Amélie didn’t wish to interrupt that. When she left the kitchen, she was surprised that there were no signs of a minder waiting on her, or someone ‘coincidentally’ waiting outside who would follow her to…wherever she wished to go. Perhaps Satya was supposed to be watching her…which made her decision to take her out even more unusual.
She stood there for a moment more, then walked back to Lena’s quarters and found pen and paper so she could leave a note.
Helping Satya with groceries, and possibly some new clothes. Winston was informed. I will be back soon.
It felt…oddly domestic. Pleasant, really.
The thought lifted her spirits a bit as she headed for the hangar, wondering just what sort of shopping Satya would have in mind.
In hindsight, Satya had to admit that startling a trained assassin had been a poor decision.
She held herself utterly still, breathing slowly as she looked into Amélie’s golden eyes, watching the way her pupils had almost completely dilated with fear and anger.
“I am not going back,” Amélie hissed, and Satya watched her knuckles tighten around the grip of the table knife in her hand.
“I did not mean to imply that you should,” Satya murmured quietly, feeling the knife’s edge against her throat as she spoke. “May I please explain…?”
Amélie nodded, drawing the knife back by a few millimeters.
Satya took a moment to gather her thoughts. “My offer for you to join me today was genuine, but I had been hoping for an opportunity to speak with you privately for quite some time…”
Amélie had expected that perhaps they would visit a hypermarket that would allow them to purchase groceries for the Watchpoint’s kitchens and some essential clothes for herself, or perhaps a wholesaler.
Instead, Satya had driven them off the watchpoint in her car and taken them “into town”, eventually arriving at a rather lovely looking boutique.
She stared out the window as Satya parked the car for a moment, then looked over skeptically. “You do recall that I have no money?”
Satya smiled. “I assure you, that will not be an issue today. Now, shall we?”
By the time they’d left the boutique and a nearby lingerie store, Amélie had acquired a reasonably complete wardrobe, including several sets of new underwear and a single set of more…frivolous lingerie that she would save for a special occasion.
Since their incarceration, they hadn’t neglected the physical aspect of their relationship, exactly, but she and Lena had both been very aware of the fact they were being constantly monitored. Between that reality and the process of her own recovery…it had been longer than Amélie had liked since they’d been completely intimate.
Perhaps it was time to address that.
Satya had been an excellent companion, happy to provide thoughtful opinions on her selections, and to pick out a few suggestions of her own for Amélie to try. Unsurprisingly, the architech had a fantastic eye for color and fit, and when Amélie had settled on her purchases, Satya had taken care of payment – in cash, to Amélie’s surprise.
She was aware Vishkar paid well, particularly for their upper echelons, but that well?
Still, it wasn’t as if she could offer to pick up the tab.
Once the bill had been paid, Amélie ducked back into one of the changing rooms and emerged wearing a flowing violet shift dress, tights, a new pair of pumps, and a small (empty) handbag over one shoulder, feeling much more like a guest than a prisoner, just as Satya had suggested.
“So,” she asked as they placed the rest of her purchases and the clothes she’d originally worn into the trunk of the car, “the groceries next?”
Satya shook her head. “Actually, I thought you might care for some lunch – particularly given the…incident at breakfast.”
Amélie flushed with embarrassment at her loss of control, but she had to admit that she was hungry. “If you do not mind picking up the check, I am sure Angela would insist that I should eat.”
Satya chuckled softly. “Likely, yes.” Once they were both in the car, she seemed to be considering something. “Normally it would be polite to suggest a restaurant you prefer, but I have no idea what you like to eat.” Her lips quirked with some private amusement. “Would a wine bar be a bit too stereotypical?”
Amélie found herself laughing softly at the joke. “Perhaps. Unfortunately, I think my doctor would prefer I avoid alcohol until she has…stabilized me.” She meant the remark as a joke, but there was a painful edge of truth to it. “I suspect it is best if I not alter my brain chemistry any further than Talon and Angela already have.”
“Reasonable,” Satya admitted. “Is Vietnamese acceptable? There is a café nearby with excellent noodles.”
Amélie considered that, then nodded. “That sounds…nice.”
The noodles were excellent, but Amélie was surprised at how much she was enjoying the chance to spend time out of the Watchpoint with Satya, getting to know the Architech a bit better.
“If I am honest,” she admitted after a sip of the broth from her bò kho, “I thought you might be one of the ones who hated me. You rarely seemed to acknowledge my presence.”
Satya shook her head. “Not at all. I merely wished to observe, at first. I have heard a great deal about you, of course, but I felt I should make my own judgement.” Satya glanced down at her bowl of bún thịt nướng for a moment. “After all – I am in a very similar position.”
Amélie’s eyebrows rose. “Truly? Everyone appears to treat you as an equal.”
“Now,” Satya agreed, “yes. But when I first arrived…” She shook her head. “Even though I had not been aware of Vishkar’s more…unsavory behaviors, I was still complicit in them. In my desire to make a better world, I harmed many people, and the ruffian was quick to remind anyone who would listen.”
Amélie felt a surprising pang of sympathy, tinged with a bit of jealousy. “It seems that things have improved for you.”
Satya gathered up some noodles on her chopsticks, closing her eyes with obvious enjoyment as she ate before she replied. “It took time – and demonstrating on several occasions that I was an ally on and off the battlefield.”
“I doubt I will have that opportunity any time soon.” Nor am I sure that I should. If the knowledge of how to manipulate her conditioning was shared with anyone else…it was not difficult to imagine herself fighting alongside Overwatch, only to turn Widow’s Kiss upon them instead.
“Perhaps not.” Satya’s eyes swept over her from beneath her tinted glasses, almost as if she could see her unease. “But it also helped that Hana made an effort to befriend me, and to defend me to the others.” She raised her artificial hand, making a slight tilting gesture towards the other side of the table. “I am attempting to do the same.”
Amélie ducked her head, feeling a blush rising on her cheeks. “Merci, Satya.”
“You are very welcome.” Satya gave her that odd smile again, looked around the restaurant for a moment, then reached for her purse, pulling out an almost overstuffed envelope. “I have something for you.”
“For me?” Amélie looked at the envelope with confusion as she took it, picking up the unused knife from her place setting to slit it open.
“A gift,” Satya elaborated, “though technically it was already your property.”
Puzzled, Amélie opened the envelope, then froze at what she found inside, her sluggish heartbeat suddenly slamming into overdrive as adrenaline coursed through her veins.
A driver’s license. Credit cards. A passport. Her passport. One of the clean sets of documents and cover identities that Sombra had created for her several months ago in exchange for a ‘favor.’
Sombra, who had a habit of finding ‘friends’ to compromise to further her own agenda.
Sombra, who had given Ana the information that had been used to torture her and forcibly bring her conditioning back to the surface.
Sombra, who might have her own agenda, but was still part of Talon.
Was this all a trap?!
Blood thundered in her ears as she let the envelope fall to the table, reversing her grip on the knife as she lunged from her seat. Grabbing Satya by the shoulder, Amélie pulled her from her chair, driving them back into the women’s restroom.
Satya’s eyes had gone wide with shock at her reaction, then winced with pain as Amélie slammed her into the bathroom wall, pressing the edge of the knife into her throat.
“This knife is too dull to kill you quickly,” Amélie threatened as her chest heaved, “but I assure you that would not prevent me from using it to hurt you. Did Sombra put you up to this? Trading information to finish the job Ana started? To recapture me for Talon?” She struggled to control her anger as she watched the Indian woman’s throat work beneath the blade, a flash of something Amélie couldn’t quite identify in her eyes.
“I am not going back!”
Once the knife had been pulled back, Satya took as deep a breath as she dared to collect herself, keeping her voice as soft and steady as she could. “I apologize for giving you the wrong impression. I sincerely meant those documents to be a gift.”
Amélie visibly struggled to control herself, fear flashing through her eyes before she took another half step back. “A compromised cover identity was meant to be a gift?”
Satya shook her head. “It is not compromised. I was given that set specifically because Talon does not know of its existence. The linked bank accounts and associated records are all clean.”
“According to Sombra?” Amélie scoffed. “Given what has happened after she sold me out, I do not find that reassuring.”
Satya kept her gaze level. “If you had allowed me to explain…those were meant to be part of an apology.”
Amélie tilted her head, frowning with confusion. “An apology?”
Satya nodded. “She did not anticipate Ana using the information she provided to harm you. That was not her intention for providing Overwatch with that information.”
The hand holding the knife wavered, and finally came down to Amélie’s side. “Then why?”
“Talon had planned to…reclaim you,” Satya explained, “and if that had failed, to dispose of you.” She shrugged. “Sombra did not wish that to happen. Leaking the information about your relationship – and your medical data – was meant to prevent that.”
Amélie blinked several times as she attempted to process that new information. “…how do you know this? Why did she tell you this?” She stepped forward, reaching out with her empty hand and placing it on the cap of her artificial shoulder. “What kind of a hold does she have over you?”
Satya shook her head. “She has no ‘hold’ over me. I know because Sombra told me all of this.” She paused while she made a mental calculation, then let out the breath she had been holding. “As to why…as I told you before, we are in a similar position.”
“You…” Amélie’s eyes widened in realization as she stepped back. “You and Sombra. You are…?”
Satya could not resist a moment of puckishness. “I believe the proper phrase is that we are…involved.”
The knife clattered to the floor as Amélie gaped at her in surprise. “How long?”
Satya smiled tightly. “Surely you don’t think it was Lúcio who opened my eyes to Vishkar’s misdeeds?”
“Then you knew…” Amélie flushed. “About Lena? About us?”
Satya shrugged. “I had been aware of your relationship for some time before the rest of Overwatch stumbled upon you, yes. But it was never my place to say anything…and I would not have wished for my own affairs to come under scrutiny, had I revealed it.” She coughed politely. “As such, it might be best if we returned to our table. Our food is getting cold.”
Amélie looked down at the floor, shame washing over her face. “It seems I misjudged you, Satya. I am…” She shook her head. “Please forgive me.”
Satya hesitated a moment, then reached out to gently touch Amélie's bicep, letting her fingers linger a moment before she took her hand away. “There is nothing to forgive. I should have considered how my actions might appear to you.”
They returned to the table and Satya was pleased to see the envelope and their food were undisturbed, the waitstaff apparently unaware of the brief confrontation as they settled back into their seats.
“So,” Satya continued after they had eaten for a few more minutes, “as I said – those are all ‘clean’ documents. She recovered them before Talon was aware of your…departure. Details for accessing the bank account are in the envelope, and you’ll find…a sufficient amount of funds for your severance and compensation.”
Amélie began placing the contents of the envelope into her purse, then looked up with a dryly amused expression on her face. “Is that where the money you have been using today came from?”
Satya chuckled. “No, as it happens, that was also from our mutual friend. The other half of her apology. It seemed the least she could do, and I was happy to take the opportunity to help.”
“Ah.” Amélie laughed softly as she finished arranging the new contents of her purse. “In that case…please let her know the apology is accepted…and thank her for me.”
“I will be happy to.” Satya looked over to where their server was attending a nearby table, and gestured to get his attention. “Obviously, we are trusting you with rather sensitive information. I will trust you to handle it with the appropriate discretion.”
Amélie quirked an eyebrow. “Obviously.”
The server slipped their check onto the table, and Satya drew a few bills from her clutch to cover the meal. “So – as you said, we do still need to purchase the groceries…but I thought you might enjoy an opportunity to have your hair cut, first.”
Amélie smiled, and Satya was pleased to see a genuine warmth in her golden eyes as she rose from her seat. “When you put it like that…I would like nothing better.”
Lena had been surprised to find the note from Amélie about leaving the watchpoint, and had to admit she felt a little envious.
There was no doubt it would be good for Amé to get out for a bit, especially if she was able to get some new clothes and other essentials out of the bargain, but Lena was feeling just as cooped up.
Still, if Winston had agreed to let Satya take her off the Watchpoint’s grounds, perhaps it was a sign that they’d started to rebuild some of the trust that had been lost, after all…or at least a sign that maybe people were starting to treat Amélie as a person, and not just a weapon.
Which made the favor she’d decided to ask Winston just a bit ironic, really.
She stood at the door to the lab for a long moment, trying to gather up her courage, then rapped at the door. “Hello, Winston? Are you home, luv?”
Athena made a soft chime – the AI’s equivalent to clearing her throat. “One moment, Lena. Winston was on the training course, and he’s just finishing a shower.”
Lena couldn’t help but laugh. “Finally got him to do some more cardio?”
“I’m sure I couldn’t speculate on why he decided to get some proper exercise,” Athena said with just a hint of smugness in her tone, “but it was long overdue.”
She leaned against the wall and tried to relax a bit as she waited, until finally the lab doors opened with a soft hiss of hydraulics.
“Hello, Lena,” Winston ambled towards the door wearing a flexible orange and black undersuit rather than his full armor, a fluffy towel hung over his neck. “What can I do for you?”
Lena smiled as she walked in. “Hey, big guy.” She waited for Winston to settle onto one of his heavy tire seats, then settled onto the floor in front of him. “Actually…I wanted to ask if I could do something for you.”
Winston’s eyebrows rose. “I’m not sure I understand, Lena.”
Lena bit the inside of her cheek for a moment before she started on the pitch she’d been working on in her head. “Well, Angie says my ankle’s pretty much back in shape. I still have some exercises to finish rehabbing, but I’m cleared to run, jump, pretty much everything I’d need to do.”
Winston gave her one of his ‘I’m not quite sure where this is going’ smiles. “That’s good to hear. I know Amélie’s…treatment…has been a priority, but I didn’t want you to feel like we were ignoring you.”
Lena sighed. “I wish everyone else felt that way…but I understand why some of them don’t trust me very much right now.” Winston grunted softly in response, but let her go on. “Which is why I came by.” Lena took a deep breath. “I want to come along on the next mission.”
Winston frowned. “I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good idea…”
Lena couldn’t help her grin. “That hasn’t stopped us before.” Raising a hand before Winston could interrupt, she stood. “I bollocksed it up. Badly. I know that. But hanging about here when I could be helping isn’t going to fix anything. Hana told me you’re shorthanded, and a big part of that is my fault. I want to show that you – that everyone – can trust me when it matters. That I’ll have everyone’s back and won’t let you down. I’m willing to wear a wire, monitor, GPS, whatever you like if it will make people feel better…and I’d let you, Jack, and Fareeha pick the team I’d go out with.”
Winston sat back and stroked his chin as he considered that. “You’d be willing to work with both of them?”
“I need to.” Lena met his eyes and didn’t let herself look away. “It’s the only way this is going to work from here on out. I can’t pick and choose – I have to show that I’ll be with you, no matter what.”
Winston hummed thoughtfully to himself, then nodded. “I’ll talk to Fareeha and Jack about it – and get Angela’s confirmation that you’d be medically cleared to go into the field if they agree to it.”
Lena felt a pang of longing for her accelerator. Not for the freedom it afforded her to move in time and space, but because it was a lot harder to give her best friend a proper hug when she couldn’t blink herself up into midair. She settled for wrapping her arms around his bicep, pressing her cheek against his sleek black fur. “Thanks, Winston. I know…I know I let you down, too, and this hasn’t been easy.” She felt her eyes prick with tears, and didn’t try to stop them. “Thank you for not giving up on me.”
Winston’s other arm came up around her as he curled forward into the hug. “No matter what, Lena…you have always been one of my best friends.” Lena looked up to him, and saw the mix of affection, sadness, and love in his eyes as he smiled. “I would never turn my back on anyone who needed help – but especially not you.”
Lena relaxed into the hug, then hopped back down to the floor once Winston loosened his hold. “I think I’m going to go see if Satya and Amé are back from the shops.”
Winston tilted his head slightly. “Satya mentioned she was going to pick up groceries and some other items we needed. I hadn’t realized she was taking Amélie with her.”
Oh, shit. Lena blinked in surprise, struggling to keep her voice even. “Really? She left me a note and said you knew about it.”
Winston frowned, then leaned back. “Satya was supposed to be helping to keep an eye on her in case Amélie needed anything. I’d just assumed she would ask someone else to take over when she told me she’d be leaving for a little while.” He drummed his toes against each other for a moment, then gave a little grunt. “I can discuss it with Satya later. Honestly…perhaps it’s not so bad. Especially if they went out and were able to get things done without any incidents.”
Lena smiled, the ice in her stomach melting away. Just a simple misunderstanding, nothing to worry about…I hope! “I think it’s good for her, too. I’d never suggest she go out on a job – pretty sure Angie’d have a fit – but…it’s nice to feel a bit more normal, you know?”
“Yes,” Winston smiled. “I think I do.”
When Lena had returned to the common room, the floor by the doors to the kitchen was covered by several bags of groceries.
Grinning, she made her way over and stuck her head through the doorway, intending to ask if Satya or Amélie needed any help putting things away, but her words caught in her throat when she got a good look at her girlfriend.
When Amélie had said she might “possibly get some clothes” in her note, Lena hadn’t quite thought about what that would mean. Perhaps that she’d pick up some comfortable, casual outfits. Maybe a nice blouse and a pair of slacks.
She had not even considered the possibility that Amé might purchase a dress.
The material was a violet shade that complimented her skin tone, with a high neckline and a bodice that tightly hugged her torso before flowing into a layered skirt that fell down to mid-thigh. The sheer sleeves bloused out as they ran down her arms, and a scooped back showed off her tattoo, the bottom of the scoop passing just below the black widow’s abdomen, drawing attention to the graceful curve of her neck and shoulders.
Charcoal tights hugged her toned legs, and a pair of black pumps gave Amélie a bit of extra height without being quite as dramatic as the heeled boots of her combat suit.
She’d gotten a haircut while she was out, styling it shorter, and they’d done something to add a lovely sort of wave to it, and Lena noticed the twinkle of a new pair of studs in her ears that matched the color of the dress.
It was elegantly, casually, effortlessly beautiful, and the combined effect had stolen the breath right out of her lungs.
Fuck, Lena thought as she tried to remember how to breathe again, I am so gay.
Satya caught sight of her first, giving a little cough to get Amélie’s attention.
Amélie made a little ‘Mm?’ sound, then turned around once she’d finished shelving a few items. “Ah.” Smiling as she crossed the floor, she reached out and Lena felt her lightly cupping her chin to close her mouth. “I see you approve?”
Lena nodded, pushing herself up onto her toes for a quick kiss. “You look amazing, madame.”
Amélie’s cheeks purpled with a blush. “Merci beaucoup, mademoiselle.” She knelt to pick up another bag of groceries, and Lena put herself into gear to start helping. “I bought a few other things that I left back in our room.”
Lena grinned. “Ooo. Fancy a fashion show later?”
“Perhaps,” Amélie’s smile had a promise in it that sent a little zip up Lena’s spine. “Did you eat, chérie? Satya was kind enough to take me to lunch while we were out.”
“Yeah, I had a bite before I went to talk to Winston about a few things.” Lena looked over to where Satya was working to sort several cans before shelving them and leaned a bit closer, lowering her voice. “After we’re done, though, I need to talk to you.”
Amélie’s eyebrows rose. “Oh?”
Lena nodded. “Couple of things to catch you up on.”
Amélie set her bags down on the counter. “D’accord. Would you like to go to the garden when we are finished here?”
After growing accustomed to being constantly observed by one member of Overwatch or another, Amélie actually felt a bit disconcerted when she realized that no one had followed her or Lena out to the garden. Even the Bastion was absent, likely off on some inscrutable errand for its bird.
“Huh,” Lena observed thoughtfully as they settled on the bench that had become one of their regular ‘spots’ to visit. “Was Satya still supposed to be mindin’ us?”
“Perhaps,” Amélie answered, “but if that is the case, I suspect we have some privacy.” She considered what she’d learned that afternoon, and what she could – or should – tell Lena. She disliked lying to her, but at the same time, Lena was trying to repair her relationships with her friends in Overwatch. Asking her to hide another secret from them would be cruel. “While we were at lunch, Satya explained to me that she was in a very similar position when she first left Vishkar. That she felt few trusted her, until she managed to prove that she could be trustworthy.”
Lena nodded along with the explanation, her eyes unfocusing as she clearly thought back to that period. “Yeah, she’s not wrong. I did my best to give her a fair shake from the get-go, but Lú and some of the others…I guess Fareeha had some kind of a run in with her when she was working with Helix, and they barely talked the first month and a half she was here. Took Satya using one of her shields to protect her from a bomb before she really started to loosen up.”
“She implied something like that.” Amélie frowned out at the waves. “That it took fighting alongside them to truly earn their trust.”
“There’s a bit of that,” Lena agreed. “Brotherhood of the foxhole an’ all.” Amélie caught her fidgeting with her hands, and turned back to give Lena her full attention, her brow furrowing at the tension in her lover’s face. “Which is part of what I wanted to talk to you about, actually.”
Amélie’s heart leapt into her throat. “You cannot possibly be suggesting I fight alongside Fareeha.”
Lena shook her head. “No, no, nothing like that…” She trailed off and looked down at her feet. “Though I have to admit that Cap gave me the idea.”
“Quoi?!” Anger rapidly replaced the fear that had been gripping her, the rush of emotion almost searing her with its sudden intensity. “Hasn’t Ana done enough?!”
Lena put her hands up placatingly, her voice softening. “Wait, please, Amé! Hear me out first and let me explain, OK? I wasn’t happy about her barging in, either, but…she did have a few decent ideas when she came to talk to me in the gym.”
Amélie closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose, taking a deep breath, releasing it, and then another as she attempted to control herself. “I am not angry at you. I am still…trying to learn control again, and Ana…” She bowed her head, breath rushing out of her in a sigh.
Lena’s arms wrapped around her, warm and accepting, and drew her head against her shoulder. “I know,” Lena murmured softly. “She did tell me that she wants to apologize to you, when you’re ready to talk to her. I think she’s realized just how wrong what she did was. But you’ve every right to be angry, too. You don’t need to make yourself accept it or try to force anything.”
Amélie nodded, letting herself sink into the smell of Lena’s body wash and the sweat from her workout that lingered beneath it. The sound of her breathing, and the almost inaudible hum that came from the shining beacon in her chest. “I suppose I am glad she understands how much she hurt me…but I do not know if I can accept an apology. Now, or ever.”
Lena ran a hand down the back of her dress, tracing a little loop with her fingertips. “That makes both of us, honestly. When we were talking, she sort of apologized for leaving the way she did, back after she lost her eye. About how she and Jack both left Angie and Winston holding the bag for all they’d done.”
“And you,” Amélie pointed out softly.
“Yeah,” Lena admitted with a sigh. “And me.” She shifted, and Amélie could follow her gaze out to where the sky met the sea. “Still don’t know how I feel about that. Certainly didn’t forgive her for it then and there.”
They sat in silence for a long moment before Amélie sat up. “So… what else did Ana discuss with you?”
Lena swallowed. “Couple of things. Wanted to know how I was doing with my rehab. Talked a bit about how some people had been given second chances – or third. About being accepted again.” Her eyes grew pensive, then hardened with resolve as she made some kind of choice. “She suggested I ask Winston to put me back on active duty.” Lena took a deep breath and drew herself up a bit more. “I decided she had a point.”
“Are you ready for that?” Amélie couldn’t keep the concern from her voice, but did her best to temper it with her practicality. “Your leg has been improving, but combat – especially the way you run and fight – is very different from running the treadmill or working in the gym.”
Lena gave her that little cocky smile that always ran a shiver down her spine. “More than ready, I think – but I did promise that Angela could give me a full physical first, and she’ll have the final say about that.”
Amélie nodded. That, at least, was sensible. “And Winston agreed?”
“I told him he could discuss it with Jack and Fareeha. That I was OK with allowing them to pick the team I would be sent out with – and that they could select the mission. I just show up, fly in, and get out.” Lena reached up to rub at the back of her neck. “Haven’t heard back about it yet, but he didn’t say no.”
“I see the sense in it, especially after Hana made a point of complaining about how shorthanded you are at the moment.” Amélie frowned as she considered how she felt about the idea. “You are always at your best when challenged, ma lionne. But at the same time…” She reached up to brush her fingertips along Lena’s cheek before letting them rest against the back of her head. “I used to worry,” Amélie confessed. “He never told me what he was doing – how long he would be gone. It was supposed to be safer that way.”
Lena’s eyes softened, and she seemed about to speak before Amélie silenced her by placing a finger against her lips.
Give me a moment longer, she asked silently with her eyes.
Lena nodded, kissing the fingertip.
“I never used to worry for you,” Amélie said softly. “Talon’s work dampened all my fears…even the fears I held closest to my heart.”” She let the hand at Lena’s mouth fall back to her lap. “But now…Angela has done her work a bit too well, because for the first time I fear losing you, Lena. I trust in your skill and your speed…but we both know a battlefield is an unpredictable place, even with your gifts.”
Lena bowed her head. “It is,” she admitted quietly. “But it’s always been a risk I was willing – that I needed to take.” She looked up. “I won’t try to promise that nothing’s going to happen…but I will promise I will do everything I can to find my way back, no matter what.”
Amélie pulled Lena close for what was meant to be a gentle kiss, but as their lips met and their bodies came together she felt an overwhelming, urgent need, deepening the contact as Lena groaned at the back of her throat, their arms wrapping around each other.
“Come back,” she whispered into Lena’s skin as she kissed down the side of her neck. “Just…come back.”
Lena shivered, and Amélie felt her hand slide through her newly styled hair, fingers tangling down near the roots. “Amélie…”
She could barely stop herself from pushing Lena to the ground and just having her, then and there, riding her sudden flare of affection, desire, and lust. “I need you,” she husked as she pulled herself back enough to look into Lena’s eyes. “Je te veux.”
“There was one other thing,” Lena murmured as she stood, “but it can wait.”
They made their way back to Lena’s quarters in a stumbling rush and locked the door, though Amélie supposed that if Winston or anyone else really wanted in, they could probably override it.
Still, that was the last thing on her mind.
“Sit,” she instructed Lena, pointing at the bed, “and wait.”
Lena’s eyes danced. “Oui, madame.”
Grabbing one of the bags from her shopping trip, Amélie went into the bathroom, feeling a sudden rush of nervousness as she carefully removed her dress and tights, folding them and putting them on the countertop.
She wants you. You want her. Why do I feel this way? I didn’t feel this nervous the first time we were together!
Perhaps because you didn’t really ever expect the first time to happen, she admitted to herself as she finished undressing and opened the box of lingerie. And this is almost like a new beginning.
The realization calmed her stomach enough to let her take a breath and center herself again. “Respond,” she recited quietly to herself, “not react. Be in the moment.” She repeated the mantra that she had learned from Zenyatta twice more, then stepped into the bottoms she’d purchased, the sheer black panels just barely covering her at front and back, while the soft blue satin straps hugged her waist, drawing the eyes down to the black eyelash lace that chased along the tops of her thighs.
The harness and straps of the bra she’d picked out in a matching shade of blue framed the rise and curve of her bust nicely, and the sheer black lace of the cups was cut perfectly, a tease and a promise in one.
She turned this way and that in the mirror to get one last look at herself, took the elastic from her hair so it would spill down her shoulders, and couldn’t help but smile at her reflection as confidence washed away her nerves.
Amélie took one last calming breath, then pulled open the door, her smile turning to a smirk as she caught Lena softly murmuring “Oh, fuck” under her breath.
Lena’s eyes were wide, filled with adoration and a healthy dose of lust as she bit down on her lip.
It was exactly what Amélie needed. Knowing that Lena did want her – still wanted her…to feel that connection and attraction again.
Amélie took slow, strutting steps towards the bed, keeping her eyes locked on Lena, savoring the way Lena’s gaze swept over her. “Do you like them, belle fille?”
Lena stood, her hands sliding over the thin straps that framed her hips. “They’re devastating…and almost as gorgeous as you.”
Amélie hummed happily as Lena’s hands slid slowly up her back. “Flattery will get you everywhere, ma petite lionne.”
Lena smiled. “So I recall…” The roaming fingers found the back of her bra, and Lena’s hands lingered there as she looked up into her eyes again. “I won’t be upset if you need to stop, OK? If it’s too much…just tell me.”
“I want this, Lena…” Amélie ran a finger up the back of Lena’s shirt, feeling the little jump that ran through her lover before she leaned down to kiss her. “Let me show you.”
Lena murmured something that might have been “Please” just before their lips met, and from that moment there was no more need for caution.
Bonus art of the dress thanks to Atheris over on Tumblr!
“No,” Winston glowered over the planning table at Morrison’s masked face and Fareeha’s almost-as-unreadable professional scowl. “Absolutely not.”
Jack crossed his arms over his chest, annoyance in his body language. “She's the one asking to go, Winston. You said it yourself – the next mission, no matter what it was.”
“I was expecting it to be something straightforward. Escort duty, or something similar,” Winston argued. “You know what happened last time, Jack. That's not a risk I'm willing to take.”
Fareeha looked down at the scene that was playing out in real time. “We don’t have time for the two of you to debate this. Someone needs to intervene and we’re the best option. Every minute we spend here is another minute where lives could be lost.”
Winston sighed as he looked down at the table. “I know. But the risk…”
“She knew the risk when she volunteered,” Jack said softly, a hint of sympathy in his voice. “She always did, Winston – and she wanted to go then, too.”
Winston closed his eyes. Jack wasn’t wrong. From the first day he’d met her for the Slipstream project to the Recall, Lena Oxton had always believed in going forward. In fighting for a better world, no matter what the cost.
Which meant that even though there was a terrible, terrible risk that something might go wrong…she would want to go.
“Who else did you plan to send?”
“Myself,” Jack answered, “Fareeha, Vaswani, Zaryanova, and Zenyatta. That leaves you, Ana, Song, Dos Santos, McCree, and the Shimadas in reserve in case this is a feint.”
Winston frowned. “What about Angela?”
“She’s asked to stay out of field operations while she continues to treat…” Fareeha drifted off, obviously not really sure what to call their ‘guest.’
“She’s taking care of Lacroix,” Jack answered for her. “That way if you do have to deploy with the others, she won’t be left here alone.”
Winston frowned. “You still think she’s a mole, Jack? After everything that’s happened?”
Morrison shrugged. “I think Oxton had a point about Talon wanting her back – dead or alive – and that Reaper’s been able to penetrate the defenses here. I wouldn’t put a divide and conquer operation past Reyes.”
Winston gave a pained grunt. “When you put it like that…yes, I see your concerns.” He looked down at the satellite feed again, then reluctantly nodded. “Go.”
As Fareeha and Morrison left, Athena’s voice sounded throughout the Watchpoint:
This is a mission alert. This is a mission alert. Agents Symmetra, Tracer, Zarya, and Zenyatta, please report immediately to the hangar bay. I repeat: Symmetra, Tracer, Zarya, and Zenyatta to the hangar bay for immediate deployment.
Winston barely heard the AI’s announcement. His attention was rooted to the live camera feeds from the streets of Numbani, and the name that Atlas News had splashed across the scenes of destruction and panic.
Lena carefully examined the sights on her pistols as she checked her gear for what felt like the hundredth time since the Orca carrying their strike team had taken off from Gibraltar.
After nearly two months without the accelerator’s comforting weight, she had needed a few minutes to get used to running and moving with it locked around her, feeling that rush of freedom again as she had blinked her way from the armory to the hangar. She’d been nervous about getting back in the game, but that hadn’t been able to dampen her excitement as she met the others in the hangar…and then Fareeha had briefed them on what their mission was.
Her stomach had tied itself into knots as Lena’s mind was carried back to one of the last missions she'd taken part in before Overwatch had fallen.
She checked her gear again.
Lena remembered the way that Doomfist had plucked her from the air, and the horrible lurching sensation that had ripped through her as she’d heard the alloy casing buckle and strain beneath his grip.
She checked her gear again.
Lena remembered how time had bent and rippled around her as he’d shattered the back of the accelerator she’d been wearing, destabilizing her anchor implant and sending her stuttering and lurching through the streets of Numbani, desperately trying to pull herself fully back to reality.
She checked her gear again.
Lena remembered crying out Winston’s name as she’d been sucked back into the nothingness that she’d been trapped in for so long and how she’d shaken and shivered with exhaustion when Winston had managed to cobble together a containment field that could pull her back and stabilize her once again.
She checked her gear again.
Even after Winston removed her shattered harness and recalibrated her anchor implant, Lena had felt afraid and vulnerable. When he finally delivered a new and improved accelerator to her, she’d worn it like armor, desperately craving that feeling of protection. While she had it on, she still didn’t feel much like the confident, daring test pilot she had been, but she could fake it. Even when she felt terribly, desperately weak, Lena could hide beneath Tracer’s bright smiles and false cheer until the cameras and microphones had turned off.
She checked her gear again.
Lena had barely taken the new accelerator off unless absolutely necessary, clinging to the one thing that kept her grounded through the end of Overwatch, her crash back into civilian life, and the rough and rocky attempts to find some kind of new normality. A life preserver she'd depended on to keep her afloat until the Recall had come…and Amélie.
She checked her gear again.
Amélie, who had against all odds been the person to help her feel grounded and safe again with or without the accelerator encasing her. Who’d always seen her, and not the constant pep and hollow smiles she’d put on as Tracer, and loved Lena as much for her vulnerabilities as her strengths.
Lena wondered if Amélie had even been briefed on just what had gone down the last time Tracer had faced Doomfist. Would Talon have considered it relevant for Widowmaker to know? She’d never mentioned it, even when they’d been enemies…
Maybe I ought to ask, when I get back. She’d understand.
Still, first she needed to get through this, and make sure they’d all be coming back.
She’d made a promise, after all.
She checked her gear again.
Lena had been reading the results of a diagnostic on the accelerator when she realized that someone had come to sit in the jumpseat across from her. She looked up to see Satya there, one leg crossed primly over the other as she carefully removed an invisible speck of dust from her visor.
“Hiya,” Lena greeted her with a little wave, then finished locking the accelerator back down for action.
“Hello.” Satya slipped her visor back on, then gave her a thoughtful look. “Are you nervous?”
Lena nodded, puffing out her cheeks with a sigh. No sense in lying, was there? “Very. Last time I was up against this bugger…it didn’t go so hot for me.” She gave herself a little shake and did her best to smile as she changed the subject. “I meant to thank you for what you did the other day. It meant a lot to Amélie.”
Satya nodded, her lips quirking into a smile. “I assure you, it was no trouble.”
“Still,” Lena shrugged. “Thanks.” She looked over to where Fareeha and Jack were speaking to Aleksandra, then up to where Zenyatta was sitting in the cockpit while Athena handled the transport, making sure this would be as private a discussion as possible. “She explained how, when you first joined up, a lot of people made you feel like you weren’t trusted – an outsider.” She looked back, meeting Satya’s eyes. “If I was one of them, I am so sorry for that. I think I can understand how difficult it was for you a bit better, now.”
Satya’s eyes widened slightly before her expression softened. “You were never particularly hostile, but I appreciate that you wished to apologize for any unintentional harm. Thank you, Lena.” She looked away as tapped the fingers of her artificial hand against her knee for a moment, then back. “I did enjoy the time we spent together yesterday afternoon.”
“You know, Hana gave Amé a pretty fair shake, too.” Lena smiled. “Maybe…when things are figured out the four of us could do a girls night. Watch a movie, paint our nails? Might be fun.”
“Perhaps,” Satya agreed.
They settled into silence together as the transport sped towards Numbani, and even though Lena was still nervous, she could close her eyes and relax just a bit as a few of the knots in her stomach slowly eased.
Angela sat back at her desk and looked over at the display on the wall: Mission Elapsed Time: 00:45:10
The team Jack and Fareeha had taken to Numbani would arrive soon. She tried not to worry about Fareeha, Lena, or the rest, but it was difficult at times.
After she’d watched the transport lift off, Angela had done her best to lose herself in work, but there was only so much she could do with her attention wandering back to the clock.
Angela examined the bloodwork from the last set of tests she’d run on Amélie. Neurotransmitter levels were slowly approaching what she’d consider normal and healthy levels for a woman in her late 30s, and though Amélie had been emotionally volatile through the process (which was hardly surprising), there had been no sign of physical effects or abnormalities. If she remained stable, the next step would be giving her a way to maintain that…perhaps even leveraging the existing implants that Talon had placed in her body, if they could be recalibrated somehow…
She’d been trying to make more headway through the Widowmaker project files that Ana had “acquired” from Talon when the sound of the medical bay doors opening grabbed Angela’s attention.
“Just a moment,” she called as she closed the files and locked down her computer, “I’ll be right out!”
She was surprised to find Amélie waiting by one of the beds. Wearing a comfortable-looking rose colored shirt and a pair of black capris, she had her arms crossed over her chest casually as she looked towards the clock, concern in her eyes.
Angela smiled, trying to put her concerns out of her mind. “Good afternoon, Amélie. Can I help you with anything?”
Amélie shifted, giving a little shrug before she spoke, keeping her voice carefully neutral. “I wanted to ask your opinion on something. I thought it might be… a good way to distract myself. But if you are working on something else…”
Angela forced herself not to look at the clock. “Why don’t we go to the kitchen, and we can talk.” She waited for Amélie to nod, then led her back into the corridor with a sympathetic smile. “Besides – you are not the only one who could use a distraction right now.”
“Your new outfit is lovely,” Angela offered as they made their way to the kitchen. “You always did have a wonderful sense of style.”
To her surprise and delight, Amélie smiled. “Thank you, Angela.”
“So,” Angela asked once they’d both fixed themselves coffee and she’d taken a few cookies from the cupboard, “you wanted to ask me about something?”
Amélie took a sip of her coffee before she placed the mug on the table. “Ana and Lena spoke the other day. She had some suggestions about my…treatment.” Amélie’s expression hardened slightly. “About my conditioning, and Widowmaker.”
Angela frowned. She didn’t like the sound of that at all. “What sort of suggestions? Ana hadn’t mentioned anything to me about your treatment since we confirmed the new formula for your medication was working as we’d hoped.”
“I have been concerned about the possibility of Talon compelling me, as she did. Of finding a way to ‘activate’ me.” Amélie looked down at her mug for a moment, then met her eyes with a fierce determination. “Ana suggested that if I worked to reconcile who I am with who I can become…that perhaps I could eventually break their control.”
Angela chewed on her lip while Amélie explained. “What Ana suggested would essentially be a form of integration therapy – a treatment that can be used for patients suffering from an identity disorder.” Before Amélie could go on, she raised her free hand in a cautioning gesture. “But that often takes a great deal of time – sometimes years – and even leaving aside the fact that neither Ana or I are trained mental health professionals, your case is…unique.”
Amélie reached back to run her fingers along the base of her skull. “Because of the chip.”
“Yes.” Angela did her best to keep her voice light – to make sure she was providing an explanation, and not proclaiming a sentence. “Given that you have a foreign body integrated into your brain – one that you are, essentially, dependent on to survive…it blurs the lines. If Widowmaker can be considered a separate identity when she is ‘activated’, as you put it, how much of that is the chip? How much is the product of Talon’s conditioning, as opposed to programming, and how much your own mind, attempting to protect you? All factors that could affect any attempts to help you reintegrate that identity back into yourself.”
“I understand that,” Amélie admitted a bit reluctantly. “I have tried to think of Widowmaker as me, and it is difficult. Because of what that would mean. Because of what I have done. It is…easier, to treat her as a separate person.”
Angela reached out to put a comforting hand on Amélie’s arm. “I understand. But if you wish to try…I can certainly work on gathering materials to help with additional therapy, and we could discuss this plan with Zenyatta as well.”
Amélie nodded. “I had wondered if there was anything in Talon’s files that might help.”
Angela considered that. “Nothing directly, but if we were going to take a new approach…perhaps there are ways that their work could be leveraged.” A thought struck Angela, and she let her gaze drift up to the ceiling. “Which…might be worth pursuing, actually.”
Amélie’s voice was filled with confusion. “I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”
Angela looked back to Amélie, the start of an idea beginning to grow. “Keeping in mind that I am not a psychologist, a key part of integration in a conventional therapy is creating more communication between the identities. To help lower the walls that have been built between them. So… perhaps we need to be having this discussion with Widowmaker, too.”
“Communication.” Amélie’s eyebrows had risen almost to her hairline. “You are suggesting…letting her out?” Her voice had risen slightly with surprise, and she took a moment before she spoke again. “Would she even be willing to speak to you? To me?”
“I suppose,” Angela said thoughtfully as she dipped a cookie into her coffee. “That is part of what we need to find out.”
Lena stood next to the holographic planning table, watching as Doomfist did his best to single–handedly demolish downtown Numbani.
“For those who aren’t familiar,” Jack spoke gruffly through his mask, “this is Akande Ogundimu – better known to most of the world as Doomfist.”
Fareeha took up the thread, pulling up a Helix briefing file that hung in the air above the briefing table forthe team to read. “He’s the third person to wield the gauntlet – we believe he ‘inherited’ the title by killing his predecessor. The gauntlet amplifies his strength and can be used to propel himself, but he has several less obvious enhancements to make him even more dangerous. Reflex augmentation, defensive shielding, and a shotgun–style weapon integrated into his other arm. But his greatest weapon – and most dangerous – is his brain.”
Lena nodded in agreement, her hand coming unconsciously up to run over the front of her accelerator. She’d never spoken to Amélie about why Gabriel Reyes had joined Talon as Reaper – if she even knew – but Lena had always had a few private theories. She couldn’t help but wonder if Reyes had originally approached them with plans of getting inside and ‘flipping’ the new Doomfist into Blackwatch, much like Genji and McCree, only to see himself flipped instead.
She could imagine why he would have tried. Jack Morrison had been an asshole, even then, but he was an asshole who had the tactical awareness and skills to help win battles.
Akande Ogundimu was an asshole who could win wars.
The sound of Zaryanova scoffing beside her snapped Lena out of her woolgathering, and she looked over to see the Russian leaning in towards the image of Ogundimu grabbing a car in his gold plated hand, then hurling it towards a police barricade.
“Pfah. He thinks toys make him strong. True strength comes from hard work, not flashy metal.”
“Don’t be so sure,” Lena cautioned, and resisted the urge to wince at the glares she got from Aleksandra and Fareeha for speaking up. “Fareeha was right about his most dangerous weapon being his mind. I’ve faced him, and he knows exactly how to use everything he has, gauntlet or not.” She shook her head. “I nearly died after underestimating him once. I’m not making that mistake again.”
Zaryanova’s face was still set in a scowl, but Fareeha’s face softened. She would have seen the footage from when he was originally captured, Lena supposed. She knew what had happened.
“Tracer’s right.” Jack’s voice brooked no argument as he froze the footage. “Do not take anything for granted. He's a dangerous opponent and we all need to stay sharp.” He looked over to where Satya was looking thoughtfully at the scene. “Symmetra, if you can make something to contain him once he's subdued, we should be able to let the authorities take it from there.”
Satya nodded, her expression distant. “There are a few options. I will determine which will be the most effective once I can examine him up close.”
Jack nodded to her, then looked to each team member as he began to provide assignments. “We’ll be going in hot, while Athena takes the Orca around to locate a safe LZ and potential fallback point. Pharah, since you can stay out of his effective range in your Raptora, we’ll be relying on you to be our heavy hitter. Tracer, you can use your speed and abilities to harass and weaken him. Zarya, your responsibility is containment. Zenyatta, keep us fighting, and I’ll help with keeping him off balance.” Jack waited a moment for any questions or objections, then nodded. “Right. We’re wheels down in five – be ready to move as soon as we hit the dirt.”
Amélie still felt a bit restless and concerned after her coffee with Angela, but discussing plans for trying to work on healing her fractured mind and breaking the last of Talon’s hold over her had been a welcome distraction.
Originally she’d planned to go on a walk through the garden, but after leaving the kitchen, she’d found herself wandering deeper into the Watchpoint instead, until she’d reached the heavy door that lead into the cellblocks where she and Lena had been held.
To her surprise, when she tugged experimentally on the handle, it turned smoothly for her. The heavy steel door swung open, and she found herself walking down the corridor until she reached the cellblock.
As Amélie stood in front of the cell where she’d been interrogated by Ana, the coffee she’d drunk transformed into a ball of ice in her stomach.
The mouth of the cell was still open, the security field shut down. A bit of dust had settled on the bed and a few other surfaces while it had stood empty over the last few months, and she left faint footprints on the floor.
Amélie didn’t really know why she had come down here, or why she started to wipe away some of the dust, but she supposed it gave her something to do, a bit of connection in the touch.
She’d nearly finished wiping the bench seat at the back of the cell clean when she realized she was no longer alone.
“This is an interesting place to spend your afternoon.” Ana’s voice was carefully neutral, and she didn’t flinch or retreat when Amélie turned to face her. “You don’t need to come down here any longer, you know.”
Amélie could feel heat sluggishly rising up her cheeks as they purpled with anger, but her voice was rimed with frost. “I am surprised you are not slamming the door shut.”
Now Ana winced. “I suppose I earned that.” She stepped just inside the cell, leaning against one wall. “Better?”
“Not particularly,” Amélie deadpanned.
Ana sighed mournfully. “I didn’t come to pick a fight with you, Amélie.”
Amélie glared back at her. “Lena told me you wanted to give me an apology. I do not want it. I do not accept it!”
To her intense annoyance, Ana merely nodded. “I can understand that.” She crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. “So, Lena mentioned our talk?”
Amélie huffed out her frustration. “Yes, she told me about your…suggestion.” Before Ana could aggravate her further, she gestured in the general direction of the medbay. “I spoke to Angela. She thought the idea might have merit, but it could take a great deal of time.”
Ana nodded. “All the more reason to start as soon as possible.”
Amélie considered that for a long moment. Angela had wanted to consult with Zenyatta before attempting anything, but Ana had a point.
And, the pessimistic voice in the back of her mind whispered, what if the monk should not return…?
“Call Angela,” Amélie finally answered Ana, “and bring me a chair.”
All things considered, Lena thought things had been going fairly well.
Of course, she had thought the same thing last time, right up until they weren’t.
She’d tried to play things smarter this time. She’d gotten into position on one of the skyways that spanned Numbani’s streets, waiting for Fareeha and Aleksandra to engage before she’d leapt into the air, firing quick bursts of pulse fire that strobed off Doomfist’s shields and threw sparks as they struck his gauntlet and cybernetics before she’d snapped away, carefully keeping herself well out of his reach.
Unfortunately, it seemed that Akande had spent some time working on a few new tricks, too. As Aleksandra had closed in, her particle cannon blazing, he brought the doomfist gauntlet around in a windmilling hammerblow that shattered the pavement and sent out a shockwave of force and displaced air that flung her down the street, her particle barrier shield flaring as she bounced off a Numbani CityTrans bus and a pair of parked cars.
“Zarya is down,” Zenyatta called over the radio, and Lena saw him flinging a glowing golden orb to hover over her prone form. “Providing medical attention now.”
“Dammit,” Jack spat. “Tracer – can you try to draw him down the avenue while Pharah repositions? I’m moving up to provide cover fire.”
Lena grabbed some cover behind a support column, recharged the capacitors for her pulse pistols, then nodded. “Roger – Tracer moving in to engage!” She took a quick glance at the intersection Jack wanted her to use, gauged the target’s position, did a little vector math in her head, then dashed forward, strafing at the unarmored side of his chest before she blinked down the cross street. “REMEMBER ME, YOU MANKY BELLEND?!”
Akande brought the gauntlet up over his chest to protect himself, and gave a dismissive shake of his head. “Here I thought you had finally learned something.” He reached out and grabbed the side of a van, tearing off the passenger door before flinging it up the street at her with a snarl. “You’ve tried this before, and you LOST!”
It took every ounce of control that Lena had forced herself to wait for the flying chunk of vehicle to reach her, until she blinked out of the path a split second before it would have impacted her, catching herself on the side of a bank branch and then launching herself off it like a springboard, taking the opportunity to fire another burst that sparked and clanged off his armor. “I decided I’m changing the ending, this time.”
Fareeha’s voice rang in her ear, undercut with the sound of her Raptora’s engines. “Pharah here – rearming complete and I am inbound! Give me a few more seconds, Tracer!”
Akande’s eyes followed Lena as she disappeared and reappeared, protecting himself with a boxer’s guard and firing a few shots from his implanted cannons that slammed into the low wall she’d landed behind to grab her breath. “I’ll give you some credit – it seems you finally understand the value of patience.” His lips turned up into a little smirk. “Was that Lacroix’s doing?” He tilted his head. “Or should I call her ‘Danielle’?”
Lena’s blood ran cold. “Sorry mate,” she lied as she took a running jump onto a parked car and then teleported herself off at an odd angle. “Haven’t the foggiest who you mean!” She changed her focus to spray fire at his feet on her next pass in hopes of forcing him to lower his guard and make him more vulnerable to the aerial rocket attacks that ought to be coming any second now.
“Really?” Akande scoffed. “You’re a terrible liar. You’ve forgotten Danielle Guillard booking a suite for you at Hotel Alpenblick? Madeline Challant and the penthouse at the Ritz–Carlton?” His smile turned cruel. “I’m certain you remember the apartment Lacroix set up in Nice. We know you visited.” He raised his unarmored hand, the fingers wide and palm up. “Did you really think we wouldn’t find out eventually? Was she that desperate? Or were you so naive?”
A growl grew from somewhere deep in her chest, and the composite grips of her pistols creaked slightly as her hands tightened around them. “You don’t get to talk about her. None of that is any business of yours!”
Ogundimu actually threw back his head and laughed at that. “I helped to create her, you foolish child! Where do you think half of the technology we used to improve Lacroix came from?” When Lena didn’t respond to that, he began to stalk towards the small plaza she’d rolled into. “I know Sombra gave up our files to that bounty hunter. I’m sure you’ve found the biochips by now. Fascinating work, adapting that product.”
Lena ground her teeth, and she’d been about to pop up and blast the arrogant prick when there came a whistling sound that grabbed her attention. A moment later a fireball bloomed in the street at Akande’s feet, chunks of permacrete and pavement flying through the air as Fareeha’s rockets slammed into the ground around him.
Jack’s voice was relieved. “Good work keeping him occupied, Tracer! Pull back – we’ll take over for a minute. Symmetra – get ready on containment!” The clatter of his heavy pulse rifle joined the cacophony as he opened fire from a balcony across the way.
Lena blinked clear, firing a burst into Ogundimu’s back that struck home, cratering the armor that extended over his shoulder, and she’d just started to think that things might be looking up when, just like before, the situation radically changed.
Akande did something to charge his gauntlet with energy, then channeled it out through a set of boosters mounted in the back and underside of the weapon, flinging him into the air just as Fareeha was coming down from one of her jet assisted leaps for another salvo.
There was a wordless cry of alarm from Fareeha as the Doomfist’s armored fingers clamped onto one of the vernier thruster assemblies on the Raptora suit’s back and crushed it in a shower of sparks and spalled armor as he dragged her up into the sky. Akande released another boost from the gauntlet at the apex of his jump to give himself a bit of spin, then hurled the armored suit into the balcony that Jack had been using for a firing position, obliterating the platform and burying Fareeha from the waist down in rubble.
“Pharah’s down, and I can’t see 76!” Lena looked around the street and saw no sign of Satya or anyone else from their team. “Zen? Zarya?! I could really use a hand here!”
Jack’s voice was rough and thick with pain when he came on the radio. “Soldier: 76 here – Got thrown back through a couple of walls. Pretty sure I’ve got a broken rib or three. I’ve got a biotic emitter down but I’ll need a minute for things to knit.”
“Sergeant Zaryanova is seriously concussed,” Zenyatta reported. “I’m en route but I fear my ground speed is inadequate. I will attempt to sow discord as soon as I have a visual on our opponent.”
All things considered, the “Fuck!” she muttered to herself wasn’t really adequate to describe just how pear shaped this entire thing had become, but she didn’t have time for much more.
“Symmetra reporting: I’ve seen enough of Doomfist’s capabilities to prepare a containment unit – but I will need him immobilized for at least five seconds to establish the construct properly.”
“Not sure if we’ve got that,” Lena answered her, trying to keep her voice as cool and professional as she could. “Can you cut that time down at all?”
“Not without risking the construct being too weak to effectively imprison him.”
Lena let one of her pistols snap back into the forearm holster and reached back to yank a pulse bomb off of the mag–mount on her back. “I may be able to try a Hail Mary, but I can’t guarantee anything, Satya.”
Satya’s voice managed to sound like she was calmly, but reluctantly, accepting 2% milk in her tea instead of whole fat. “It will have to do.”
A sound like a turbine engine grabbed Lena’s attention. Arcs of snapping, snarling energy had begun to dance up and down the gauntlet as Akande rose from his landing, and Lena realized with a surge of adrenaline that he was charging it to full power with the still–trapped Fareeha dead in his sights.
Lena didn’t even think, she just moved. Her thumb pressed down on the pulse bomb’s activator, setting the arms of the clock face set into the bomb’s surface spinning as she began to run.
Akande flexed his knees, readying himself, and then surged forward as he launched into his attack, a corona of energy rippling the surface of the street.
Time seemed to slow thanks to the adrenaline coursing through her veins, and all of Lena’s senses felt as if they’d gone into hyperdrive. She could see the blood and sweat mingling on Fareeha’s jaw as she strained to pull herself free, and the little motes of dust rising from the rubble even as it refused to shift. She saw the slow travel of energy up the Doomfist and over Akande’s broad chest, his mouth open in a furious war cry. She could feel the little imperfections in the metal of the bomb casing under her fingers, and the bend and stretch of her legs as they carried her forward into the path of his charge.
Lena kept her eyes locked on her intercept point, aiming for a target that would keep Fareeha and the already badly compromised building out of the pulse bomb’s blast radius but still give herself room to get clear. Letting the accelerator pull her forward Lena threw herself into a headlong slide, twisting in midair as she passed under the knuckles of the gauntlet.
Her hand came up and Lena slapped the pulse bomb to Akande’s waist as he passed her, and time seemed to snap back to normal even as she tried to yank herself back far enough on her timeline to get clear of the blast.
It almost worked perfectly.
The bomb detonated with a concussive whump of force that sent Doomfist flying backwards as his gauntlet prematurely discharged the power he had gathered, showers of sparks flying every time his armored fist or cybernetic components struck another surface, his shout of triumph transformed into a roar of pain.
Lena avoided the worst of the blast, but the shockwave from the gauntlet picked her up like a toy and slammed her hard into the side of a SUV, driving the air from her lungs and setting her ears ringing as shattered glass from the vehicle and surrounding buildings rained down on her. Pain flared in Lena’s chest like a sunburst, and it took a massive effort to roll onto her front and raise her head to get a look at the aftermath.
Fareeha looked OK, thank god, and had finally gotten one arm free to start working herself out of the rubble. The detonation had left a massive crater in the street, and on the other side…
Akande rose slowly out of a cloud of dust and smoke, the gauntlet throwing sparks and twitching violently as energy discharged in broad arcs. About half of the glowing implants in his arms and torso had gone dark, his unarmored arm hanging limply at his side while he bled from what seemed like a thousand little scrapes and cuts.
He was clearly badly wounded, but he was still alive – and definitely not immobilized.
Lena tried to make herself move, to draw her pistols, to stand up, but it was if she’d been encased in lead. Her shoes struggled for purchase on the street, but just as she thought she was finally steady, her knees buckled and sent her crashing to the ground again.
I’m sorry, Amélie. I really did try to keep my promise…
Lena braced herself for the worst as Akande began to stalk towards her with fury burning in his eyes, his earlier targets forgotten in favor of finishing the job he’d started all those years ago. Then, to her surprise, the world was suddenly washed with blue light as a wall of energy sprang into life in front of her.
It seemed almost like the shield Reinhardt used with his Crusader suit, but that couldn’t be right – last she’d heard he was in Budapest. So who…?
The answer came in the sound of a synthesized voice from behind her, with a pleasant, almost motherly warmth to it.
“For your safety, please stay behind my barrier!”
It’s come to my attention that someone has been posting my work under their name on FF.net.
Just to make it clear, I do not give permission for anyone to repost my work under their name. Anyone interested in doing a translation or podfic is welcome to contact me, but I would like to discuss it with you first. Thanks!
Angela didn’t like this one bit.
She’d had a quite a shock when Athena had told her that she was needed down in the detention area at Ana’s request. With Amélie essentially under house arrest rather than being kept in a cell, no one was supposed to be down there. Ana being involved made her wonder just what was going on, but to her relief Amélie was unharmed when she arrived, standing in the middle of what had been her cell while Ana leaned against one wall.
She’d wondered what was going on, and then – to her dismay – they’d explained why Ana had asked Athena to locate her.
“I thought we discussed waiting for Zenyatta to return before attempting anything,” Angela admonished, her voice thick with frustration.
Amélie shrugged, a touch of her earlier nervousness in her voice. “Ana argued it was better to begin now, rather than delay…and what if he should not return? Or if he is damaged and requires time to recover?” She walked to the chair that Ana had placed in the middle of the cell, and settled down onto it, keeping her hands at her sides. “You said yourself that we would need to ask Widowmaker to participate. Why not start there?”
Angela sighed with resignation. “Well, it seems I wouldn’t be able to stop you.”
Ana scoffed, but Amélie raised a hand to stop her.
“I want you to be here,” Amélie insisted firmly. “I want your help, Angela. Please.”
Angela knew that she ought to say “no,” that they should wait for Zenyatta, that she hadn’t even started to do any research on the idea…but the “please” got to her. “I’ll help,” she promised. “I’ll be here for you. Do you think it would be best if your hands or legs were restrained?”
Amélie considered that, then shook her head. “I think the cell door will be enough. But both of you should be outside.”
Angela waited for Ana to step out of the cell, then reached into her coat and pulled out her phone, opening the voice memo application. “Before we start…is there anything you would like to say to Widowmaker, Amélie?”
Amélie waited for Angela to start recording, staring at it for a long moment before she finally spoke. “I…don’t hate you. I wanted to, at times.” As they watched, Amélie’s right hand came to rest over her left, fingers lightly rubbing where a wedding band had once sat. “You killed my husband. You took over my life. Talon made you…but they made you from me. You have been forced to take their orders just as I have. And we…are not as different as I might like to pretend.”
Angela paused the recording. “Anything else?”
Amélie considered that, then shook her head. “I think that is enough for now.”
Angela nodded, and saved the recording as she left the cell.
Ana tapped on the controls to activate the security field, then closed the cell door. “Are you ready, Amélie?”
Amélie took a deep breath, then sat up straight against the back of the chair, staring out at the back wall. “I am.”
Ana whispered the activation keyword, and Angela found herself watching Amélie closely as one personality gave way to the other.
From the way Ana had described the way Amélie had reacted to being ‘activated’ during her interrogation, she’d expected it to be painful, perhaps even violent. It was one of several reservations she’d had over this approach. This time, though, it was a much subtler transformation. Perhaps it was because she knew that it was coming, instead of it being forced on her, or perhaps because Amélie was willingly allowing herself to be subsumed instead of trying to maintain control.
The eyes were the giveaway, at least to her. As she’d been helping to adjust Amélie’s body and brain chemistry, Angela had noticed how much more warm and expressive they’d become. As they’d given Amélie the ability to access her emotions more easily, her eyes had taken on a certain shine, putting her in mind of polished coins.
Angela watched that warmth slowly leech away, and the way Widowmaker’s body language shifted. Instead of sitting up in the chair, she leaned forward just slightly, making it easier for her to lunge forward if needed. Where Amélie had kept her hands at her sides, Widowmaker brought them into her lap, analyzing her surroundings before she looked directly at her captors, her eyes narrowing slightly as she sized them up.
“Hello, Widowmaker.” Angela stepped forward. “I’m Doctor Angela Ziegler.”
Widowmaker tilted her head slightly. “I know who you are.”
“Do you know why you are here?”
Widowmaker’s eyes flicked to where Ana stood, and her jaw tightened. “I was captured. I was interrogated. I have been…” She trailed off, as if trying to find quite the right words. “Altered. I feel different…I am out of spec.”
“In a sense,” Angela conceded. “How do you feel?”
“Warm,” Widowmaker said with a frown. “My skin is more sensitive than it should be.” She looked around the cell again and finally settled on Angela again with a mocking little smile. “I am in a cell. How is that supposed to feel?”
“You weren’t this catty when I spoke to you,” Ana observed acerbically.
“You wanted mission reports,” Widowmaker said dryly, “and you had a gun to my head.”
Angela considered their byplay. “There’s a bit more to it than that, I suspect…” She looked over at Ana, who was giving her a puzzled look. “Serotonin deficiency.”
Ana blinked, and gave a soft ‘ahh’ as Angela’s meaning became clear. “Yes, that’s true…you hadn’t begun to make any changes, had you?”
Widowmaker’s lips turned down into a sharp frown, her voice edged with suspicion. “What are you implying?”
Angela turned back to face her. “Amélie described her experiences, when you were in control, as a waking dream. One where she could not change your actions, but she was aware of them. How much have you experienced while her personality has been dominant?”
“It is…similar,” Widowmaker admitted reluctantly. “I know Lena is on a mission. I know you have been replacing some of the maintenance medication Talon provided.”
Angela nodded. “That’s correct. In the past, Talon kept your neurotransmitter levels at a bare minimum. Enough to function and to stay in balance – just – but far below normal.” She waited for Widowmaker to react, but got little more than a puzzled stare. “A common symptom of such low levels – particularly for serotonin – is a lack of emotional response. Depression. Low energy and a lack of will to do more than bare minimum in response to requests.”
Widowmaker scoffed, but there was a bit of doubt in her eyes. “I do not feel any different. I don’t feel anything.”
“Don’t you?” Angela looked at Widowmaker thoughtfully as she did her best to nuture that seed of doubt. “You feel something for Lena, I think – you used her name. You didn’t call her Tracer, and you mentioned the fact that she was on a mission before you spoke about yourself. It seems clear to me that she matters to you.”
Widowmaker’s silence was an answer all its own.
Angela raised her phone. “Amélie left you a message. Would you like to hear it?”
Widowmaker hesitated, and then nodded.
Angela watched Widowmaker’s face carefully as the brief message played. Her face remained a mask, but Angela saw flashes of surprise and shock in her eyes, particularly when Amélie admitted they were not so different.
Widowmaker stood up from the chair once the message finished, and walked away from the door of the cell, refusing to look at either of them.
Angela kept her voice gentle as she stepped up to the cell door. “Widowmaker? Would you like to send Amélie a message?”
Widowmaker turned, her expression confused. “Why?”
“Because our goal is to help both of you,” Angela answered. “Because part of that is to…establish a dialogue between you.”
Widowmaker considered that, walking slowly back to the chair. Her voice was still guarded, but there was some genuine curiosity when she spoke to them again. “What would I receive, from this? What benefit is there to me?”
Ana took the lead before Angela could answer. “We’ll let you record a message for Lena, too. And we’ll give you her reply, the next time we bring you here for a session.”
Widowmaker sat down in the chair. “This will be a regular…event?”
Angela nodded to her. “Giving you each the chance to speak to each other – and to Lena, if that is what you would like – is important. If you show progress, there’s no reason to keep you in a cell. We could allow you to move freely in the public areas of the Watchpoint…more time ‘awake’, if you will, as you and Amélie learn to exist together as a complete person.”
Widowmaker looked at them thoughtfully. “You would trust me so much?”
“If you go back to Talon,” Ana replied, “they’ll kill you. We can show you the orders for you to be ‘retired’.”
Widowmaker sneered, and to Angela it seemed it was more about taunting Ana as any real love for Talon. “Proving that I had terminated most of Overwatch before escaping would likely reverse that decision.”
“Perhaps,” Ana agreed calmly. “Or perhaps they’d decide it meant you’d fulfilled your purpose – and outlived your usefulness.”
“It is in our best interests to trust you,” Angela interjected, “and it is in yours to trust us.” She raised the phone again. “So – shall we begin?”
As the barrier shimmered in front of her, Lena rolled herself onto her side, looking for her unexpected protector. Her eyes went wide at the sight of a massive quadrupedal omnic stomping up on broad, hoof-like feet, its (her?) body covered in thick, rounded armor plating painted in shades of brown, cream, gold, and green.
Ha. Deus ex machina, eh?
“Please stay down,” the omnic advised her in a concerned tone, the modulations of her voice clearly intended to be a warm, motherly tone. “My scans indicate you are in need of medical attention!”
Lena did her best to offer a Tracer Smile. “Thanks, luv…just give me a mo’ to catch my breath.”
“Do not worry,” the omnic assured her as she began to advance towards where Akande was staring at them both with undisguised hatred. “I will handle this!”
The more Lena looked at the mystery omnic, she looked… oddly familiar. She almost looked as if she’d been based on one of the old OR-14 chassis, like the ones she’d fought during the Uprising, but where those had been blocky and utilitarian, there was a much more sculpted, rounded grace to this one. Hadn’t she heard about Numbani building some next generation security units? She’d thought they’d all been scrapped…
Guess I’ll have to ask her after this is over.
Lena looked around as best as she could from behind the shield, and caught a flash of white out of the corner of her eye. “Symmetra,” she murmured as softly as she could, hoping her comm would pick it up. “Looks like we got some help here – get ready with that containment unit if you can!”
She caught Satya nodding, and turned back to see the omnic planting herself a few feet from the crater the pulse bomb’s detonation had gouged into the street.
The omnic leveled the arm that ended in a multi-barreled cannon directly at Akande’s chest, amplifying her voice so it echoed through the street. “Stand Down!”
Akande considered her a moment, and then – despite his obvious wounds and pain – he threw his head back and roared with laughter. “Is …is this a joke? You truly think you can stop me? After what I did to all of your sisters?”
The toes of the omnic’s feet dug into the street with a crunching sound, and Lena could see her armor glow with a faint green radiance. The shutters over her eyes narrowed, making her expression seem more determined, somehow, and her voice was just a shade colder when she spoke again. “I’m not moving. You are advised to cease your resistance!”
Akande scoffed as he gathered his usual cool, regal composure again. “I think not.” He threw himself forward with a roar, energy crackling from his gauntlet and playing over his body where it had been damaged, seemingly unconcerned with the risks.
The omnic opened up with her cannon – it looked like a fusion driver to Lena, which would follow her being some follow on to the OR- series – the packets of plasma splashing off the shield until it shattered like glass, the shards of energy dissipating into the air. The last few shots struck home, leaving nasty burns and scarring up the surfaces of his cybernetics, but failing to stop his charge before the omnic had to eject the weapon's energy cell and reload.
Akande’s face twisted into a triumphant leer as he closed the distance, the Doomfist throwing angry sparks and giving off a rather concerning whine. He brought his arm back to throw what he must have expected would have been the final blow, but instead of sending the omnic flying or shattering her chassis, it rebounded off the glowing armor plate with a sound like a gigantic bell being struck.
Eyes wide with surprise, Akande reared back and threw himself into the air, sparks flying from where his fist clipped the omnic’s chin in a rising uppercut, but she didn’t seem affected.
Watching him set up for a flying power bomb sort of move, the Omnic raised her cannon, eyes narrowing, then depressed the barrel to a point a bit below his trajectory. “Not so fast!”
The omnic’s weapon spat a glowing sphere of energy that traveled down the street, and as Akande descended past it, a tendril of energy lashed out to ensnare him, pulling him backwards and crashing him to the ground with a cry of surprise.
Lena had finally managed to get to her feet, and pointed at the downed fighter. “Symmetra! NOW!”
Satya wasted no time, dashing forward as blue light flowed from her prosthetic hand into her outstretched fingers, weaving a complex set of shapes that began to solidify in the air as she approached.
Lena stepped carefully around the barrier and approached the omnic, gesturing at Satya as she worked. “Can you keep him there for a few more seconds?”
“I’m still new at this,” the omnic admitted a bit bashfully, “but I think the gravity pulse will hold.”
“Right…” Lena watched as Satya pinned Akande’s legs together and encased them in a mummy-like wrap of hard light, then was struck by an idea. “Oi! Symm! One second!”
She didn’t exactly feel like she could run over, but Lena managed a respectable jog over to where Akande was pinned to the ground, most of his body now wrapped and attached by broad glowing blue bands to a sturdy-looking frame of seamless white tubes.
Satya turned to give her a curious look, and Lena gestured to the still smoking and sparking Doomfist gauntlet by way of explanation, kneeling down as she ran her hands over the armored surface.
“C’mon,” Lena mumbled as her fingers slipped down into the gauntlet’s elbow joint, “if a fifteen year old could find it…” A latch depressed under her fingers and Lena grinned with triumph. “Ah-HAH! See how you like it, then!” The Doomfist separated from the rest of the armor and shock absorption equipment encasing Akande’s arm and shoulder, and Lena yanked it off his hand with a flourish.
Akande raised his head, his eyes full of hatred, but before he could speak Satya had fashioned another broad band of light and wrapped it around his mouth in a gag, sealing it behind his head, and finally attached his other arm to the frame before she raised it up on another set of hard light stands, suspending him like a bizarrely packaged marionette.
“I think that’s quite enough,” Satya said firmly. She fashioned a box large enough to hold the gauntlet, then placed it on the ground. “Tracer, if you don’t mind?”
Lena couldn’t resist one last taunt, wiggling the fingers of the gauntlet in a ‘bye-bye’ gesture towards its furiously glaring user before dropping it into the box so Satya could fashion the lid to seal it up. “My pleasure!”
The omnic had come forward, raising her hand in greeting. “Thank you both for your assistance!”
Lena smiled, extending her hand to the omnic. “I think we should be saying that to you!”
The omnic’s eye shutters adjusted so her glowing optics appeared to be four pointed stars as they shook hands. “That is a great honor coming from you, Miss Tracer!
Lena blushed and put a hand behind her head. “Oh, just Tracer’s fine, ah…”
The omnic blinked, and put her hand to her ‘mouth’ in surprise. “Oh! I’m sorry, I forgot to introduce myself!” She backed up a few steps and struck a heroic pose, hand on hip, her cannon arm bent at the elbow to point the weapon dramatically at the sky. “I am OR-15(S) Revision A, Serial Number 001. Please call me Orisa!”
Lena grinned broadly at her. “Pleased to meet you, luv. I’m Tracer, that’s Symmetra…” She looked over and saw Fareeha finally pull herself free of the rubble that had trapped her, dust falling from the joints and creases of her armor as she stood and began to walk over. “And that’s Pharah.”
Orisa nodded, her eyes returning to that ‘star struck’ expression again. “Efi will be so excited to hear that I had the opportunity to meet you all! She has been hoping we would have a chance to assist Overwatch!”
Lena coughed, one hand coming up to rub the back of her head. “Well. I guess I should say we’re not exactly Overwatch.” She gave Orisa a broad wink. “Overwatch activity’s illegal, after all. But we’re not not Overwatch, if you get my drift.”
“Oh! Yes, of course,” Orisa giggled, her eyes shifting into amused chevron shapes. “Efi told me about… ‘plausible deniability’.” Leaning in, she put her hand up to her mouth conspiratorially. “She will be disappointed that Mr. Lúcio was not with you. We’re both great fans of his music.”
Lena grinned. “I bet I can arrange for some autographs and merchandise, if you like.”
Satya’s mouth had thinned to a hard line at the mention of Lúcio, but rather than discuss him, she raised her organic hand with another question. “Excuse me, but who is Efi?”
Orisa stiffened with surprise, then turned to point at a banner hanging off a nearby building. “Efi Oladele is my creator!”
They turned to look, and sure enough there was a banner with a picture of a young girl in traditional Numbanian dress wearing earrings that appeared to match the long horns on either side of Orisa’s head, with the caption “Meet Efi!” in a friendly, flowing script.
“Oh, wow!” Lena read the other captions on the banner, then turned back to Orisa. “An Adawe genius grant? That's amazing! She must be brilliant!”
“She looks…very young,” Satya’s voice had an edge of discomfort in it. “And she built you as a combat unit?”
Orisa nodded enthusiastically, but, before either of them could reply, another voice joined their conversation.
“A most impressive achievement,” Zenyatta offered as he glided towards them. “You must be very proud, sister.”
Orisa turned to face him, rotating in place with a neat little shuffle-step of her legs before she bent forward in a little bow to the monk. “Hello! Yes, I am very proud of her accomplishments. She is very dedicated to making Numbani – and the world – a better place.”
“An admirable goal,” Satya agreed. Lena gave her a warm smile, encouraging her decision to avoid an argument with a potential new ally, and Satya’s eyes flicked to her before she smiled slightly.
Zenyatta took one of the orbs from his necklace, charging it with golden light before he sent it floating over to Lena. “Here – be at peace, my friend.”
The healing energies from the orb felt like summer. Warm sun, clear skies, a beautiful day for flying…and of late, the peace Lena felt when she woke with Amé’s arms around her. She sighed happily as she felt her abused body start to mend itself, giving the monk a grateful nod. “Thanks, Zen. How’s Zaryanova?”
“The Sergeant is recovering, but she refused more than basic assistance.” Zenyatta shrugged, giving a little shake of his head. “I fear there is still work to be done to reach her, but in time even a mountain will be worn down by the stream.”
Lena grinned, turning at the sound of boots thumping across the street to see Fareeha approaching with Jack at her side, the old soldier leaning a bit against her.
“I’ve called HSI,” Fareeha reported. “They’ve got a prisoner retrieval team inbound.” She smiled at the mummified form of Ogundimu before looking over to Satya. “Can they cut him out of this once he’s in a cell?”
Satya nodded, putting a hand on the framework. “I would recommend cutting the frame first. The bindings can be removed or released from there.”
“Perfect.” Fareeha’s smile had a bit of an edge to it, and Lena was reminded she wasn't the only one with a score to settle against Doomfist.
Jack turned from where he’d been silently contemplating the scene, putting a hand to the side of his mask as he listened to his comm. “Athena has the Orca in the air. Once Helix has custody of Ogundimu, we’ll head out.”
Orisa took a shuffling step forward, her eyes turning to a concerned expression as her cannon came up to a ready position. “You are the vigilante known as Soldier: 76. There are currently…37 outstanding warrants for your arrest!”
Lena put her hand on Orisa’s arm. “He’s also a friend, luv, and a part of our team. D’you understand?”
Well. Jack being a friend was a bit of a stretch, but he was part of the team, like it or not.
Orisa considered that for a moment, then let her weapon fall. “I think I do…” She turned to look at Akande again, then back to Lena. “Perhaps I misidentified him. My recognition database is still in beta.”
Lena nodded, her voice thoughtful. “Might just be a bit of a glitch, then. Thanks, Orisa.”
“You are welcome,” Orisa smiled at her again. “I enjoyed the chance to fight alongside you all. I would enjoy the opportunity to do it again!”
Lena patted the omnic’s arm with a broad smile of her own. “You know, I think I have a friend who just might want to talk to you about that.”
The flight back from Numbani felt a lot less stressful for Lena than the flight in.
Some of that was from Ogundimu being contained and remanded to Helix’s custody, of course, but Lena wanted to hope that some part of it came from proving that she was still herself and not some kind of Talon sleeper agent. She had a feeling that Morrison and Zaryanova especially had been waiting and watching her, expecting her to turn on them at the worst possible moment.
She hoped it would make a difference.
Lena would have preferred to be up in the cockpit, minding the co-pilot’s seat in case of emergency, even if she couldn’t be the pilot in command, but she didn’t want to push her luck. Besides, giving Zenyatta the option to stay in the cockpit and chat with Athena was probably better for everyone’s stress levels than another round of Zaryanova alternating between grumbling about having to fight alongside an omnic and trying to pretend he didn’t exist.
Fareeha, still fairly battered once they’d pried her out of her armor, had laid down for a nap on one of the couches in the crew lounge area. Satya had strapped herself into a jumpseat and nodded off as well.
Lena knew she probably ought to do the same – even with Zenyatta’s healing, her ribs ached and her legs were still a touch shaky – but her post fight adrenaline levels weren’t conducive to napping. She’d settled for racking the pistols and accelerator in their storage containers and taking a blanket to the transport’s tail and making a comfortable spot to stretch out.
She’d just finally gotten into a half-decent position to relax when she heard someone coming up the steps.
“So,” Morrison said with dry amusement as he sat down, “we’re friends now, huh?”
Lena groaned as she sat up, keeping a hand on her bruised side. “Oh, fuck off. Forgive me for trying to simplify things so you didn’t get arrested or shot.”
Morrison huffed a soft laugh before unhooking his mask. “A few people wouldn’t have blamed you for letting her lock me up.”
Lena shook her head, trying to keep her tone professional instead of exasperated. “That’s not how it works and you bloody well know it.”
“Maybe not,” Jack admitted, his voice softening. “But you did good today. You followed orders, protected your team...and you saved my ass twice, even when you probably didn’t really want to. So...” He stopped, and seemed uncertain of what he was going to say before he finally spoke in a more human tone that reminded Lena of some of their early days. “Thank you, Lena.”
“We’re not friends,” Lena said quietly. “You did some things I’m not sure I’m ever going to be able to forgive. Not entirely. But much as I might have enjoyed seeing you get punted through a wall, it doesn’t mean I wanted you dead…and as long as we’re working together I’m going to be a professional when we’re on the clock.”
Jack nodded, reaching out to put a hand on her shoulder. “For what it’s worth…I was wrong about you being a traitor. You deserved to hear that from me, after today.”
Lena was proud of herself for not flinching when he’d touched her. She considered what to say in reply and finally settled for just giving her former commander a nod. She shouldn’t have had to prove that in the first place, but…it was something, she supposed.
Morrison apparently understood he wasn’t going to get much else. He stood, putting his mask back on, and made his way back towards the main cabin, checking in on Zaryanova as he went.
Lena watched him go, then lay back down on the blanket. She still didn’t feel much like sleeping, but as she listened to the drone of the transport’s engines, she closed her eyes and felt just a little bit of the lingering tension inside of her ease.
“Excuse me, Amélie.”
Amélie looked up from the cup of coffee she’d been contemplating in the dining hall, her eyes going automatically to the ceiling in response to Athena’s polite interruption. “Yes?”
“I didn’t want to disturb you,” Athena explained, “but I thought you would appreciate knowing the transport with the strike team has just signaled. They will be on the ground in twenty minutes.”
She closed her eyes and let out a breath, her shoulders relaxing with relief. “Thank you, Athena. I appreciate you informing me.”
“It was my pleasure,” Athena replied with a note of real sincerity in her voice.
Amélie tried to identify the emotions running through her, as Zenyatta had encouraged. Relief, yes. Anticipation…and, still, just a bit of fear. Well. Perhaps she could do something about that as well. “Athena…did they report any casualties?”
Athena’s voice was professional, but somehow carried an understanding tone. “Monitoring data from my remote processes aboard the Orca indicates several team members with minor injuries, but no major casualties.”
She gave the AI a smile and a nod, breathing out a soft “Merci.”
“You are very welcome.”
When she reached the hangar bay, Amélie wasn’t surprised that Angela was there as well, her hands shoved into the pockets of her lab coat while her staff leaned against an equipment locker.
She walked to the doctor’s side, then cleared her throat softly. “Athena told me there were only minor injuries.”
Angela nodded, but her attention was still fixed on the sky. “Minor. Yes. Zenyatta has done what he could – that’s why I’m not in my suit right now.”
“But you are still concerned.” Amélie frowned as she tried to reconcile what she’d been told with the way the doctor was acting, then put a hand on her shoulder. “Fareeha?”
“Cracked ribs, a dislocated shoulder. She avoided a concussion, thankfully. Her armor took the brunt of the damage.” Angela’s voice was carefully detached, as if she was describing events that had affected someone long ago, and not earlier in the day.
Perhaps that was how she coped with needing to treat someone she cared for.
It is not so different from when you were pulling the trigger, Widowmaker’s voice – her voice – whispered inside of her. She sees a patient, not her lover.
I saw targets, not people...and you saw the same.
Amélie closed her eyes for a moment to steady herself, but the whisper only grew louder.
Perhaps that is why she never realized something was wrong. Why she listened to Gérard when he begged to take you home. Because she stopped seeing you as her friend, and only saw her patient.
I wonder what the doctor sees when she looks at you now…
Her hand curled into a fist, but Amélie refused to let her doubt and pain control her.
She listened to Gérard because he was my husband and he loved me. Because he was concerned for me and thought being in familiar surroundings would help me recover better than being in a military infirmary.
She wasn’t really sure if she was ‘speaking’ to Widowmaker, or if it was the product of her own fears and uncertainties, but it helped a bit to actively counter them.
Angela was not at fault for what happened – Talon buried their work carefully and well. If anyone deserves blame, it is Talon, not her.
If Angela tries to separate her personal feelings from her professional judgement that makes her a good and objective doctor, not an uncaring woman.
“Amélie?” Angela’s voice sounded like it was coming from down a long tunnel, but it became clearer as she concentrated on the sound. When Angela finally came into focus, the doctor’s eyes were full of concern. “Is something wrong?”
Amélie shook her head, trying to push the intrusive thoughts away. “Just…bad memories.” She reached up, lightly rubbing at her temple. “I will be fine.”
Angela gave her a thoughtful frown. “Perhaps you should talk to Lena about it – or we could have some coffee, later.”
“I think I would like that.”
And when the doctor looks at me now I know that she sees Widowmaker. I would be worried for her if she did not.
But she also sees me, and I think…she sees a friend.
Not long after they had both turned back to watch the sky through the hangar bay doors, a light grey speck appeared on the horizon. Growing in size and becoming a distinct aerodyne shape as it approached, it wasn’t long before the Orca was coming in for a landing, the engines rotating into their VTOL positions while the landing gear lowered and locked into place.
They watched as the dropship settled onto the deck, the sound of the engines giving way to a moment of silence before the Orca’s boarding ramp extended and the hatchway slid open.
The Russian was the first off the ship, one massive arm slung over Morrison’s broad shoulders as he helped her down. At the sight of the doctor she straightened slightly, despite the clear discomfort it caused her, nodding her head gingerly.
Angela returned the silent greeting with a nod of her own, checking the tablet she was carrying before thumbing the activator on her staff. “I’m going to do a basic scan here,” she explained, “but I want you to report to Medical, Aleksandra. You need to be under observation until we’re certain you won’t experience any post-concussion complications.”
Zaryanova gave a dismissive grunt, reaching up to carefully rub at the back of her head with her free hand. “Is nothing, doctor. My body was injured but my will is unbroken. Vodka, pickles, black bread with butter, and will be fine in the morning!”
“You are welcome to have all of those after I’m satisfied you’re recovering,” Angela countered firmly. “76, if you would please make sure that she finds her way to the infirmary?” Her eyes narrowed as she took in some of the scuffs and scrapes on the vigilante’s jacket and body armor as well. “You could stand to be given a thorough evaluation as well.”
“I know better than to try to get out of it when you sound like that,” Morrison grumbled. “Come on, kid – at least we can get the pick of the hospital beds.”
Zaryanova grumbled, but let herself be lead off, and to Amélie’s surprise neither of them made an objection to her presence in the hangar.
More movement at the transport drew her attention. Satya had apparently crafted a hard light crutch for Fareeha to support herself on, and was walking a few steps behind her in case she needed assistance before reaching the doctor.
Amélie watched as Angela’s eyes darted back and forth, doing her best to take in Fareeha’s condition as she struggled to keep her face neutral, her shoulders sagging slightly with relief.
Whatever Angela would have said was cut off by Fareeha hobbling over and carefully reaching out to put a hand on her shoulder.
“Hi,” Fareeha murmured softly, then grinned crookedly as she spoke in a more normal tone of voice. “See what happens when I go out without you?”
Angela’s professional mask cracked as she made a sound somewhere between a laugh and a sob, then stood back to wave her staff over her properly. “What I see is that you made quite a mess – and what happened to your suit?”
Fareeha coughed as she put most of her weight on the crutch. “There was an argument with a balcony. And the street. And a wall…”
Satya’s lips quirked in a little smile as Amélie caught her eye, the architech apparently uninjured, “The suit performed its function admirably, I would say. After all – Fareeha’s sense of humor has survived unharmed.”
“Brigitte and Torbjörn can look at it when they come in,” Fareeha reassured Angela. “Anything they can’t fix…well. Worst case, I’ll arrange for a replacement from Helix. I suspect they’ll be feeling fairly generous.”
Amélie kept her voice cautiously interested as she spoke up. “You were successful, then?”
The way Satya inclined her head slightly was an answer in and of itself, but all of them caught the bright blue light as Lena emerged, talking to Zenyatta as the omnic hovered down the platform.
Fareeha’s eyes flicked from Lena back to her, and she had more warmth in her voice as she gestured to Lena with her free hand. “I’ll let her tell you all about it.”
Amélie gave her a nod, and a moment later Lena was with her in a flash of light, arms wrapping around her in an embrace.
“Hi,” Lena breathed a moment before their lips met in a quick kiss. “I came back.”
“You did,” Amélie acknowledged as she closed her eyes and took in the feel, the warmth, the smell of her. Relief washed through Amélie as they rocked together on their feet, and she pressed one last kiss to Lena’s forehead before opening her eyes. “Welcome home.”
“Now,” Angela said briskly as she gave Lena her post-mission scan as well. “Perhaps we could continue these discussions on the way to the infirmary?”
Since Zenyatta had done quite a bit to heal her injuries, Lena had been one of the first to be cleared and released from the infirmary, though Aleksandra, Fareeha, and Morrison would all be staying overnight for observation.
All things considered, Lena had decided the three things she wanted most in the world were a hot shower, a curry, and to spend some time with her girlfriend.
A packet of instant tikka masala heated up in the watchpoint kitchen wasn’t quite perfect, but as she lay in bed with Amélie massaging her freshly scrubbed back, Lena was quite satisfied with two out of three.
“…and that was about it,” she finished explaining between happy sighs. “Though I did have a talk with Morrison on the way home.”
She could almost hear Amélie’s raised eyebrow in the dry tone of her voice. “He seemed remarkably intact when you returned.”
Lena let out a laugh that turned into a groan as Amélie hit a particularly good spot. “Oooo. That was nice. But…yeah. He…it’s sort of like with you and Cap. He apologized – at least for some things – and I don’t really know if I accepted it, but at least he admitted he was wrong. I think…I can work with that.”
“Mm.” Amélie pressed a kiss to the back of her neck, then shifted over on the bed, and Lena rolled onto her side to face her. “As it happens, I…spoke to Ana today, as well.”
“Yeah?” Lena scooted until she was sitting up, reaching out to take her lover’s hand. “How’d it go?”
Amélie considered that, tilting her head slightly to the side. “It was…interesting. We spoke about the suggestion she made to you. About…both parts of myself.” She seemed to want to say more, and Lena knew enough to wait for her to go on. “I spoke to Angela as well. She agreed the idea had merit, so…I spoke to Widowmaker today.”
Lena took a sharp breath, and blew it out slowly through her nose. “How?”
“Angela had a recorder,” Amélie explained almost a bit too calmly. “I left her a message on it…and then Ana woke her.”
Lena squeezed her hand tightly, looking into Amélie’s eyes, not quite sure what she was searching for. “Are you OK, luv? I mean…you’re here now, I can tell, but…”
“I don’t know,” Amélie answered softly as she squeezed back. “It was strange, honestly. To willingly let her take control. To speak to her this way. But I feel like it was important that I did so.”
“Yeah.” Lena brought Amélie’s hand to her lips, kissing the back of her hand. “Well. Pretty intense day for both of us, then.”
“That is one way to put it,” Amélie agreed dryly.
Lena shifted closer to her, wrapping Amélie into a hug. She held tight as Amélie returned the hug, and finally they settled on the bed, Lena rubbing a lazy circle into Amélie’s back. “So…you left her a message. But I have to ask…did Widowmaker say anything back?”
“She said next time, she wants to speak to you.”
Lena had needed a few days to get ready, and if they were being honest, so had Amélie.
While she worked herself up, Lena had talked to Angela and Ana both about what they’d observed during their first session. Then she had lunch with Winston to not talk about it, choosing instead to discuss the possibility of Winston visiting Numbani to have a chat with Efi Oladele and Orisa.
Finally they’d agreed it was time, and she found herself standing in Amélie’s former cell.
“Why do it here?”
Angela grimaced. “The first time, it was because Amélie and Ana had agreed to move forward here. But in hindsight, it also offers the best options for containment if something should go wrong.”
Lena considered that, then nodded. “I don’t know if I like it, but I understand it.” She looked up at the ceiling, and narrowed her eyes as she made a decision. “You, Zenny, and Cap can watch over the monitors, right? Don’t need to be right on top of me?”
Angela crossed her arms. “Someone will need to give the…activation.”
“So tell it to me.” Lena turned around to look at her so Angela could see her sincerity. “I’m not saying don’t watch – you’re welcome to. But…I think this will go better if we start with just the two of us.”
Or three, really, Lena thought to herself.
Angela met her eyes, then finally looked away. “I need to speak to Winston and Ana. That can’t be my decision alone.”
Lena leaned against the wall as she watched her go.
“I do not mind having them here,” Amélie murmured as she walked up behind her.
“I do.” Lena turned around to face her, feeling her stomach flip as she looked up into her eyes. “She asked to talk to me, right? I owe her the courtesy of a private conversation.” Lena snorted as she looked up. “Or as private as we can get, anyway.”
Amélie hummed thoughtfully. “I had not considered it that way. Few of our conversations have been ‘private’ since we were…discovered.”
“I’d take her out to the garden if I could,” Lena admitted. “But this is the best I think I can manage.”
Her phone buzzed, and Lena reached into her pocket.
The activation is ‘tintinnabulation’. The deactivation is ‘quiescence’. We are trusting you, Lena. — Ana.
Lena’s throat suddenly felt dry and tight. She hadn’t expected the conversation to be that short. “Well. You want to be sitting down for this, luv?”
Amélie nodded and settled into the chair, tugging at the cuffs of her sleeves. She took a deep breath, then let it out before meeting Lena’s eyes. “I am ready.”
Lena walked over to her and gently pressed a kiss to her forehead. “See you soon.” She whispered the word, and stepped back to watch the change.
Widowmaker’s lips curled slightly as she looked around the room, but Lena didn’t miss the way her lips parted slightly and her eyes softened as Widowmaker met her eyes.
“Alone at last,” Widowmaker purred as she stood up. “How thoughtful of you, chérie. ”
Lena smiled, but kept her bearing serious. “You deserve that much. You’ve had the least control in all of this, haven’t you? So I can try to give you something, anyway.”
Widowmaker crossed her arms. “What control do I deserve? If I listen to Mercy, I am a product of a tortured mind, combined with instructions on biochips.” Widowmaker spat the word with utter contempt, and Lena watched Widowmaker’s hands curl into claws before she slowly relaxed them again. “What kind of control should I be given?”
Lena stood in the face of her icy anger, letting Widow get it out before she stepped forward. “You can ask to talk to me. I’ll listen. Amélie will try, too. But when she can’t, I will. That’s a promise.”
Widowmaker tilted her head. “Why?”
Lena took a deep breath. “King’s Row.”
Widowmaker’s brows knit with confusion, and Lena held up a hand. “Not because you killed Mondatta. Because of the rooftop. Because you could have killed me, then and there.” Lena could feel an ache in her chest as she remembered tumbling off the rooftop. Hitting the ground and the sickening crack that she felt as much as she heard when the housing of the accelerator broke her fall.
“You had me dead to rights, and do you remember what you said?”
Widowmaker’s voice was barely a whisper. “Adieu, chérie.”
“Yeah…” Lena came closer, and put a hand on her cheek. “Thought about that a lot afterwards. Even before Amé started our little game. Though I’m pretty sure you had a hand in that, too.”
“You were…entertaining,” Widowmaker admitted reluctantly. “But for all you know, she chose to spare you. Not me.”
“I’ve seen the way Amélie looks at me,” Lena countered softly. “And I’ve seen the way you look at me enough to tell the difference.” Her lips curled into a grin. "Give me a little credit, yeah?”
They stood there for a moment, Lena’s hand cupped around her cheek, and then Widowmaker suddenly exploded into motion, shoving her backwards before pinning her to the wall, one forearm across her neck. Lena stared into her eyes, trying to figure out what exactly was going on in there. Frustration. Anger. Something that looked a bit like fear. Amusement. Desire. Nostalgia?
“Been a while since you had me like this,” Lena murmured. “Miss me?”
“Foolish girl,” Widowmaker husked, just before their lips met.
Widowmaker kissed differently than Amélie did, too, but that didn’t mean it was unfamiliar.
When they broke apart they were both a little breathless, and Lena couldn’t help but smirk just a little. “Good thing I asked Angie to step outside.”
Widowmaker snorted, and let her go, stalking around to the back of the chair. “Perhaps.” She moved in a little figure eight pattern before she spoke, putting one hand on the chair. “I do not like this cell. You wish to give me some control? Do not make me stay in it.”
“That’s pretty reasonable,” Lena agreed. “They may want you to wake up somewhere that’s monitored, though. Could use the infirmary.”
“No.” Widowmaker’s voice was suddenly taut with tension. “I accept I am…confined. But I do not wish to be treated as a specimen.”
Lena considered that, tapping her knuckles against the wall of the cell. “My room? Our room, really. I share it with both of you, technically.”
To her relief, Widowmaker nodded rather than dragging her feet. “That would be acceptable. Some variety, at least.”
“Variety…” Lena worried at the corner of her lip. Just how much could she offer? “Don’t know about going into town, but there’s a few places I think we could go around the Watchpoint.”
Widowmaker hummed as she rocked on her feet, then moved on, apparently satisfied. “I want to train.”
“That’s going to be a harder sell,” Lena mused. “Especially giving you live rounds.”
“I need to train,” Widowmaker insisted. “My spec has been changed. I must train so I will understand what I can and cannot do, now.”
Lena considered the way she put it. “I can’t promise anything. But I can ask…” She trailed off as a thought struck her, and tapped her fingers against the wall again. “Would the gym work? Unarmed training? Sparring?” Lena grinned, catching a little flash in Widowmaker’s eyes. “Been a while since we had a proper go.”
Widowmaker’s smile turned a bit fierce. “That would be acceptable.”
“Right. I’ll take that back, then.” She walked over to face Widow from across the chair. “So. Anything else you’d like?”
“Ziegler mentioned more time…awake. To go outside.” Widowmaker almost looked wistful. “Will they give me a mission?”
“What, to go out and fight?” Lena shook her head. “No. Or…well. Not like that. Your mission right now is to just be you.”
“To be her,” Widowmaker grimaced as her fingers tightened on the chair’s back. “To…reconcile. To integrate.”
“No.” Lena shook her head, then put her hand on the top of the chair, not quite touching Widowmaker’s hand. “To be you. Maybe that goes somewhere. Maybe it doesn’t. Far as I’m concerned, you both have to decide what you want.” Lena looked down at her chest and rubbed at the alloy ring of the anchor through her shirt. “The most important thing, far as I’m concerned, is finding ways to make sure Talon can’t control either of you. Whatever form that takes, I’m here for you.”
Widowmaker considered that. “And if I decide I wanted to…continue?”
“Work a schedule out, I suppose. Let the two of you talk it over.” Lena shrugged. “Like I said – both of you decide what you want.”
“And you would be there for me.” Widowmaker’s voice was tinged with disbelief, but she put her hand atop Lena’s on the chair.
Widowmaker reached up to touch her face, and seemed shocked to find tears running down her cheek.
“I can’t believe you were crying,” Hana said with amazement as they sat on beanbag chairs in the rec room. “That she was crying. Sorry.” She gave a half-hearted shrug. “Trying to get used to it.”
Amélie carefully inspected the coat of nail polish she had been painting onto Hana’s nails before she spoke. “It is new for me, too. And…unexpected.”
Lena looked down at where Satya was painting her toenails a nice shade of blue and laughed, because she felt like if she did anything else she wasn’t sure what would happen. “Funny old world, isn’t it?”
Amélie looked over and Lena knew she wasn’t fooling her, at least. “Something like that.” She took Hana’s other hand and started applying another coat. “So – after this, a movie?”
Hana nodded. “Satya gets to pick.”
“Oh, too bad,” Lena said with a voice full of mock disappointment. “I was really hoping to show Amé Hero of My Storm, finally.”
With Amélie still working on her nails, all Hana could do was stick out her tongue and blow a raspberry, but it was enough to break a bit of the tension. Even Satya gave a quiet, restrained little chuckle, hiding her smile behind her artificial hand.
Amélie gave a pleased hum as she finished Hana’s second coat. “So – what will we be watching?”
“It is an older film,” Satya explained. “Dangal. I think you will enjoy it.”
They did, in fact. Hana had some sarcastic words for the ‘training’ at various points in the film, but it had been a nice story, and as the credits began to roll, Hana had pulled herself up to go visit the bathroom and grab more to drink, while Lena gave Satya a warm smile.
“Wouldn’t have expected you to pick a movie about sport, honestly.”
Satya’s smile was a bit wider than Lena thought she’d seen before – perhaps something to do with the wine she had been drinking. “It is a classic, as I said. Sport or not, I appreciate the virtues of discipline and perseverance…and the character of Geeta reminds me of someone I care about very much.”
Lena recognized that tone of voice, and she reached over to give Amélie’s hand a squeeze. “Aw. That’s sweet, Satya. Is she…” Lena tried to look for the right word. Satya had been pretty notoriously tight-lipped about her personal life, even after she’d finally ‘defected’ from Vishkar. “Um. Close?”
Amélie sat up a bit against her, shifting a bit, but before she could (probably rightly, Lena admitted) chastise her for prying, Satya shook her head.
“No. Or… we are close. But I have not seen her in some time.” Satya sighed wistfully. “They are very much alike. Happy to defy authority, but willing to focus and go to great efforts to succeed. And quite…” Satya blushed , and that was absolutely mind blowing. “Passionate. I miss her very much.”
“Sorry you haven’t been able to…um.” Lena tried to think of a way to put it discreetly. “Spend as much time with her, I guess. Have you thought about asking Winston for some time away?”
Satya shook her head. “Not…at present.” Her eyes drifted to Amélie, and they shared a look Lena couldn’t quite read. “But perhaps if the situation here continues to stabilize.”
“Hah.” Lena found her beer and raised it in a salute. “Well. Here’s to stability, then.”
They ended up making good on the threat to watch Hero of My Storm, and Amélie had been just as horrified by it as Lena had hoped.
“Look,” Hana had deadpanned as she attempted to hide just how much the beer she’d had was hitting her. “I never said it was a good movie.”
Laughing, they’d eventually made their way back to her room, Amélie carefully steadying Lena until she finally fell into bed with a giggle.
“You are not usually such a cheap date,” Amélie observed smugly as Lena worked to strip down to her underwear. “Are you losing your touch?”
Lena rolled her eyes. “Haven’t had a night out in forever, and I wasn’t supposed to be drinking while I was recovering.” She scooted to sit up in bed, not bothering to disguise her appreciation as she watched Amélie undress for bed. “Honestly, it’s just nice to feel like I could.”
“It feels as if you are making progress,” Amélie agreed. “I think perhaps we both are.”
“I hope so,” Lena murmured as Amélie joined her in bed. “I should probably talk to Fareeha soon. Haven’t really tried since the mission.”
Amélie hummed agreement, then reached out to turn off the lights. “I have not seen her, either. But that is…not terribly surprising.”
“Hah. Yeah. Though…I think you two could get along, if you had half a chance.” Lena shrugged. “Honestly, she’s got a good heart.”
“Perhaps,” Amélie observed dryly. “But even earning half a chance may take some time, ma lionne.”
“Maybe,” Lena admitted. “Suppose we’ll see, eventually.”
Amélie had waited for Lena to go out for a run before she picked up the little black pocket recorder.
Angela had provided the device so she and Widowmaker could exchange messages without having to borrow someone’s phone.
“Talking to each other is important,” she had explained. “Hearing your voices, and your tones of voice, is a good way to help to build rapport. Far better than just leaving each other notes on paper or using e-mails.”
Amélie wasn’t sure if she preferred one or the other, but it was worth a try, at least.
It was strange to remember taking the device from Lena and speaking into it, yet knowing it had not been her doing it. But something still made her feel like she needed to properly listen to the message as herself, and not simply as a detached sort of passenger in her own body.
Amélie took the recorder from the nightstand and stared at the display for a moment, then selected the playback button.
“I did not really comprehend what you felt for…your husband,” Widowmaker began abruptly. Straight and to the point – quite fitting, really. “But when I see Tracer…when I am with Lena…I think I understand it better now.” It wasn’t really an apology, but Amélie thought there was something there. Sympathy, perhaps – or at least the beginnings of it.
The recording went silent for almost five seconds, the only sound Widowmaker’s breathing, and the faint rhythm of footsteps. She had been pacing back and forth around the chair as she dictated her message.
“I missed her,” Widowmaker finally continued quietly, perhaps a touch of that longing for Lena in her voice. “I missed the thrill. The chase. I think that perhaps I am jealous of you, for having more time with her. For having her in ways I have not.”
Another silence, and Widowmaker spoke again, her voice a bit sharper this time. “I do not like to be trapped in a cage.” The recording was nearly at an end, according to the display, and it wasn’t long before Widowmaker delivered her parting thoughts in a hushed tone.
“You are still not permitted to die.”
She had ended her original message the same way. In fact, aside from stating that she wished to speak to Lena, it had been the only thing the Widowmaker had said to her.
As the recorder gave a cheerful beep to announce the end of the file, Amélie turned the device over in her hands, and considered what she wanted to say in her reply.
Lena sighed happily as she pulled off her goggles, then dropped them onto the bench in the locker room before she sat down to start getting undressed.
It felt good to be training with her teammates again, even if running a simulated mission wasn’t quite the same adrenaline rush as going into the field.
The training session today had been a hostage rescue scenario - not that different from her first mission in King’s Row, really - and they’d completed it without losing any of the captives or casualties from the strike team.
Wish we’d had a full team of six when we’d gone in against Null Sector, too! Would have made things so much easier.
She’d taken off her vambraces, racked her pistols, and kicked off her shoes on autopilot, then took a bit more care disengaging and unbuckling her accelerator, so absorbed in the routine that she barely registered others joining her until she’d finished hanging it up in her locker.
Fareeha’s voice made Lena turn. They still hadn’t talked much since the mission in Numbani, outside of tactical discussions and ‘business.’ Still, she didn’t look upset , so Lena tried giving her a smile.
“Good work today,” Fareeha said, her voice warmer than Lena could remember it being since her relationship with Amélie (and, Lena supposed, Widowmaker) had been exposed. “Got some time to talk?”
Lena blinked, processing that, then nodded. “Yeah, sure. Mind if I grab a shower first?”
Fareeha shook her head as she began to tug at the sleeves of the black underglove she wore beneath her Raptora suit. “Not at all - I could use one too.”
Lena was relieved that getting cleaned up didn’t carry any real awkwardness, and once they’d both showered and dressed Lena followed Fareeha through the Watchpoint, eventually ending up at one of the balconies that overlooked the Strait.
Fareeha leaned against the railing, her focus seemingly on the open water. “How’s Amélie?”
Lena tried to mask her surprise at that question, but she knew she hadn’t done a terribly good job. “Pretty well, all things considered. The new meds Angie whipped up seem to be keepin’ her stable. Less mood swings. She’s getting used to feeling things again.” She couldn’t help her smile, either. “Had a nice little girl’s night not too long ago.”
“Hana told me,” Fareeha admitted, and Lena felt a little spike of fear.
“Got her spyin’ on us now?”
Fareeha laughed, but there was a bit of pain beneath it. “I don’t think ‘Stop being a dumbass and go talk to them’ counts as any kind of a contact report.”
Lena blushed and looked down at her shoes. “Sorry. You didn’t deserve that.”
“I probably did, actually.” Fareeha drummed her fingers on the rail. “You don’t have a lot of reason to trust me. Or Jack. Or my mother. And even though you’ve been working to prove to us that you can be trusted...we haven’t done all that much to do the same for you.”
“Yer mum’s...helped,” Lena admitted a bit reluctantly. “Mostly.”
Fareeha nodded. “Still. You probably saved my life in Numbani, and I’ve been…” She shook her head. “I’ve been holding you at arm’s length.” Fareeha straightened up, and turned to face her properly. “As angry as I was with you, you were still a friend. A teammate. Especially as I learned more about what was going on...I should have talked to you.”
Lena considered what to say to that, trying to find the right words. “It hurt, but...you weren’t wrong when you said I was dating a terrorist. The enemy. And she cost you…” Lena stopped, and shook her head as her voice softened. “She cost you a lot. I recognize that.”
“I wasn’t wrong, but I wasn’t entirely right, either.” Fareeha turned back to the water, her eyes going distant. “Did I ever tell you about the night Anubis nearly escaped?”
“The AI?” Lena shook her head. “No, I don’t think so.”
“I was part of a rapid response squad,” Fareeha explained. “Six member team. We were the ones HSI sent in when things went really bad.”
“A kill team,” Lena whistled softly. “Sounds about right, for a God Program breakin’ loose.”
Fareeha nodded. “We were called in after it found a vulnerability in the containment network. By the time we got there, it had already started to compromise every machine in the facility - and used them to kill the technicians who were trying to lock it back down.”
Lena listened quietly, giving Fareeha the chance to explain at her own pace, and it didn’t take long for her to continue on.
“We didn’t know that, when we landed. If we had, we’d never have taken Okoro in with us.”
Lena’s eyebrows rose. “One of your squaddies?”
Fareeha nodded. “He was an omnic. By the time we found out the local networks were compromised, he’d already connected, trying to get us a sitrep and access the facility.”
Lena’s mouth felt dry, and her stomach fell through her shoes. “What happened?”
“I turned around and he had his pistol pointed at my head,” Fareeha’s voice was almost completely flat. The clipped, professional delivery of someone giving a report, because she had to compartmentalize the memories so she could deal with them. “He was trying to fight it, but Anubis was winning.” She took a deep breath, bracing herself before she finished her explanation. “He apologized to me as he tucked his pistol under his chin, then told us to run before he pulled the trigger.”
Lena shivered as she imagined what it would have been like to watch that play out. “Fuck, ‘Reeha, that’s...I’m sorry. That’s a nightmare.”
“We stopped it,” Fareeha said quietly. “Barely. Of the six who went in, only two of us walked out - carrying a third.”
“Rough day at the office,” Lena murmured sympathetically.
Fareeha closed her eyes and nodded, taking a moment to collect herself. “I’ve been thinking about that night a lot, since the day my mother attacked Amélie. When we learned how much Talon did to her. What Anubis did to him...it’s not so different, really. Except she has to live with it every day.”
Lena nodded. “Yeah. Suppose it’s not so different at all, when you put it like that.”
“I realized that I shouldn’t be blaming her for actions she literally had no control over. I should be blaming the people who compelled her to take them. Who put all that stuff in her head, literally and figuratively.” Fareeha looked over. “And even though you lied to us...you did it to keep the woman you loved safe.”
Lena felt herself flush. “I...thanks. And I’m sorry too, for my part. I may have had what I thought were good reasons, but I still hurt you. Hurt everyone.”
“Maybe next time you have a girls night,” Fareeha suggested, “Angela and I could join in.” She grinned, finally, and it made her whole face light up. “I hear Amélie is pretty good at doing nails.”
“I’d like that,” Lena agreed with a smile of her own. “She’s got steady hands, that’s for sure.”
Fareeha snorted. “I’ll bet.” Her face turned a bit more serious. “I suppose I should ask something else, too.”
“Oh?” Lena felt that nervousness hit her again. “What’s that?”
Lena sucked in a breath. “She’s...feelin’ a bit cooped up. Winston tell you about her request?”
Fareeha shook her head. “No, he hasn’t discussed her...treatment...with me very much. And I wouldn’t ask Angela to violate a patient’s confidence.”
Lena gave a little ‘ahh’ of understanding. “She wants to train. The changes Angie’s made to her body, her brain...she can feel them. I think it’s part of why she feels restless. Giving her back her gun is out of the question -”
Lena nodded, conceding the point. “But I suggested sparring. Unarmed combat. Maybe using the gym. She said that would work for what she wants. Winston’s thinkin’ about it.”
“That might be...interesting.” Fareeha’s grin was just a little nasty. “Think she knows how to box?”
“You sure you’re OK with this, luv?”
Amélie nodded, her hands folded in her lap as she sat on their bed. “I am.” She looked over to the pocket recorder. “She needs this. Needs you.” She smiled a bit crookedly. “It is hardly as if I am in a position to be jealous.”
Lena snorted as she turned that over. “Yeah, true.” She sat down on the bed next to her, picking up the recorder from the nightstand. “Have her listen to it first?”
Amélie nodded. “Please.” She closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. “I am ready.”
Lena looked around the room. Technically, Athena probably was monitoring them, at least on some level. Hopefully they wouldn’t get into too much trouble if someone happened to look in on them.
She leaned in to kiss Amélie’s forehead, then whispered Widowmaker’s activation codeword, stepping back to give her room as she woke up.
Widowmaker opened her eyes, and spent the first few seconds scanning the room, clearly making note of the door, the window, the vents.
“Thank you,” she said as she stood, turning so she could finish her inspection. “It is...nice...to not wake up in a cell.”
Lena smiled. “You did ask. Is that how you think of it, then? Waking up, or going to sleep?”
“It is better than thinking of it as being ‘activated’,” Widowmaker said dryly.
“Ha. Well.” Lena came in to kiss her lightly, then offered her the recorder. “Good morning. Amé left you a message.”
Widowmaker turned the recorder over in her hands, the little red light on the end winking on and off. “I suppose I must listen to it, then.”
“She’d like you to,” Lena agreed. “You want me to duck into the loo to give you some privacy?”
Widowmaker considered that, then shook her head. “No.” She hesitated, then pointed beside her. “Sit here.” Lena did as she asked with a grin, putting arm around her waist, and Widowmaker gave her a little smile before pressing the play button.
“Hello,” Amélie began. “I have been considering something you said to me. When you said you were jealous of me, for having more time with Lena.” She paused, and Lena’s eyebrows rose as she looked at Widowmaker.
“There is very little I can give you,” Amélie said softly, “under the circumstances. But I can give you time. So - consider this evening my gift to you...however you choose to spend it.”
Widowmaker gave her a look, and Lena smiled at her, hoping she communicated that there was no pressure, as far as she was concerned.
“I look forward to hearing from you again,” Amélie finished, and the recorder beeped as the message came to an end.
“So.” Widowmaker set the recorder down on the nightstand. “A night together, then, chérie?”
Lena nodded as she took her hand. “Like she said - however you’d like to spend it.” She gestured with her free hand over at the screen at the far wall. “Could watch a movie, music...can’t take you out to the gym or the training yard yet, but as long as we’re careful we could go into any of the spots that Amélie was cleared for…”
Widowmaker let go of Lena’s hand, swinging herself over until she was straddling her lap.
“Or,” she purred as she pushed Lena down onto the mattress, “we could stay in.”
“Yeah,” Lena murmured as Widowmaker’s lips found her neck, “that’d do…”
They did end up deciding to watch a movie, eventually. Lena had thrown on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts to go make some popcorn in the kitchen, while Widowmaker had taken a look at the movies available from the Watchpoint’s library.
She had finally settled on a spy movie that had been popular a few years ago, and Lena couldn’t quite figure out why Widowmaker would chuckle or smile at the dramatic set pieces and action scenes, until she had the realization that as far as Widow was concerned, it was a comedy.
Lena had eaten a fair bit of the popcorn, but Widowmaker did take a bit, and by the time the credits rolled, she was feeling relaxed and sated, while Widowmaker seemed...content, she supposed.
“It’s nice hearin’ you laugh,” she said as she put the empty popcorn bag in the trash. “Well. Hearin’ you laugh when you’re not shootin’ at me.”
Widowmaker snorted as she slipped off the bathrobe she’d been wearing. “We both know you enjoyed that just as much as I did.”
Lena grinned as she slipped into bed. “Well...sometimes.”
Widowmaker joined her, settling against the pillows and closing her eyes. “I suppose you will...bring her back, now?”
Lena stopped with her hand next to the lamp. “Do you want me to do that?”
“...she told me I had the evening.”
Lena turned out the light, and settled in against Widowmaker’s side. “Then I’ll see her in the morning.”
WARNING: This chapter contains scenes with references to torture, past mental trauma, and violence.
“This man is an enemy of Talon.”
Amélie tried to blink, but something was holding her eyes open as she stared down the lane of the firing range.
The man was wearing prisoner’s garb, not so different from the patient gown and scrub pants she had been dressed in.
“The enemies of Talon must be eliminated.”
The electrodes that had been attached to her arms made her muscles twitch before they began to move of their own accord. The weight of the rifle she held was strange and unfamiliar. It felt awkward as she brought it to her shoulder, then pulled the weapon into her body as she took aim.
She tried to raise her head, but her gaze remained locked on the sweating, whimpering man in her sights.
She tried to ask ‘Why am I doing this?’, but no words passed her lips.
Her finger slid down to curl around the trigger.
“He is an enemy of Talon,” the voice repeated more forcefully.
She didn’t pull the trigger.
“The enemies of Talon must be eliminated,” the voice insisted.
She didn’t pull the trigger.
“If you do not eliminate the enemies of Talon,” the voice informed her ominously, “you will be punished.”
She didn’t pull the trigger.
“You will be rewarded for eliminating the enemies of Talon,” the voice promised her.
Her finger twitched slightly, but she did not pull the trigger.
There was pain, suddenly, like red hot needles being pressed into her scalp.
“This man is an enemy of Talon,” the voice informed her again as the pain increased. “ The enemies of Talon must be eliminated.”
She could feel tears running down her face from the eyes she could not close. Her skin burned, and her arms ached.
“You. Must. Comply.”
Her legs had begun to shake, but somehow her aim remained steady.
The voice began it’s litany again.
The enemies of Talon must be eliminated.
Her finger moved.
The man’s head snapped back, and the white rubber coated wall of the bullet trap behind him was suddenly decorated with an obscenity of red.
The pain was gone, and euphoric joy replaced it just long enough for her to ache for its return when it was stolen away.
At some point while she quaked with bliss, the body had been removed, and a new prisoner replaced the last.
It was a woman at this time, dressed in the same prison garb as the man had been. She was weeping as Amélie stared downrange at her, lips moving in a plea that Amélie could not hear.
“This is an enemy of Talon,” the voice announced.
It took far less urging for her to pull the trigger this time.
By the time she had mechanically ejected her magazine and replaced it with a fresh one for the second time, she had stopped seeing men, women, or omnics.
They were simply targets, each in a different shape and size.
They were enemies of Talon, and by the time the electrodes were shut off and the rifle was taken from her hands, she had eliminated every single one.
Something sharp touched the back of her neck, but even as she passed out Amélie could not close her eyes.
Somehow Amélie found herself standing next to her own body, watching as a pair of ‘specialists’ carefully lowered her onto a gurney, then removed the leads and wires from her body. Finally they removed the clamps that had been holding her eyelids, letting them close naturally before one of them knelt down to whisper something in her ear.
The eyelids of the Amélie on the cart fluttered but did not open, and she watched as they raised the gurney up to transport height before wheeling ‘her’ out of the firing range.
Was this a nightmare?
She looked down at herself, and was shocked to realize her skin was back to a natural shade, and her forearm bare of tattoos.
She was wearing the peach colored top she’d bought on her shopping trip with Satya, and a pair of culottes that complimented it.
She shook her head and looked around the shooting range. “This is some strange nightmare,” she insisted to the empty air. “I did not do those things.” She turned around, but there was no one there, and the omnipresent voice had gone silent. “I do not…” She shook her head. “I do not remember this place.”
A humorless chuckle made Amélie spin around.
“I remember this place.”
Widowmaker was standing beside one of the other lanes of the firing range, dressed in the same open backed patient gown and scrub pants that Amélie had been wearing a few moments ago.
Her skin was deathly pale, but not quite turning cyanotic yet. Her hair had been buzzed almost to the scalp, and the pads of the electrodes still covered her arms and forehead.
When Widowmaker turned to walk down the range, the spider tattoo could be seen thanks to the open back of her gown, the skin still red and puffy beneath the fresh ink.
Amélie stared at her, trying to take in every detail. Knowing the other woman wore what should have been her face, yet it was not in a way she couldn’t quite define.
Something in the way she walked, perhaps? Lena had said something about the way they carried themselves differently, once.
Perhaps that was it.
“You were...asleep,” Widowmaker explained as she examined the next stall over, then the next.
Amélie looked past her to see a door at the far end of the range, next to a Talon insignia that had been painted onto the coated cinderblock wall.
“When did this happen?”
Widowmaker shrugged as she turned around. “After I killed Gérard.”
Amélie stared at her...doppleganger, she supposed. “You have never called him by name before.”
Widowmaker met her stare with yellow eyes. “We have never spoken like this before.”
“So I am dreaming?”
That got another shrug. “I am no psychologist,” Widowmaker said with a hint of a smirk. “I think you are dreaming. I think I am remembering.”
Amélie frowned as she turned to look downrange again. The bullet trap was still covered in drying blood, decorated with fragments of bone and brain. “Why did you remember this? Why are we here?”
Widowmaker contemplated the evidence of her handiwork before she spoke again in a hushed voice. “Perhaps because you needed to know.”
“This was how they trained you...trained us...to be a sniper.” Amélie took another look at the electrodes. “Inducing muscle memory. Creating your...our...conditioning.”
Widowmaker nodded. “I do not remember much of being prepared for my first mission. I do not think…” She frowned as she tried to find the right words. “I am not sure I truly was, until I was activated for the first time.” She raised one hand and gestured downrange. “I remember the mission, just as I told Amari. But it was...dull. Disconnected. I was activated, but not.”
Amélie swallowed hard. “If you were not...fully formed, I suppose that makes sense.”
“Yes,” Widowmaker agreed as she stepped away from the firing line. “These are my first clear memories. Perhaps this is where I was really born.” She mimed picking up the rifle and firing it. “Those first kills. That rush. The first time I truly felt alive.”
Amélie felt sick to her stomach, but couldn’t deny the truth of those feelings. How she’d grown to feel the same, every time she pulled the trigger.
Widowmaker looked back downrange. “I think I could still…” She tapped the side of her temple. “I think I knew you were there. Sleeping or not. I think at first...you wanted to cry.”
“I didn’t want to do it,” Amélie confirmed. “I didn’t want to kill again.”
“Why?” Widowmaker turned. “They were not like him. You didn’t know them.”
“It wasn’t about them,” Amélie tried to explain. “It wasn’t even about him. It was about me.”
“You’d already become a killer,” Widowmaker pointed out. “Was it so different?”
Amélie went silent for a long moment.
“It was easier,” she finally explained. “That’s what made it worse.”
She turned away from the range, the door, Widowmaker, everything, and focused on the blank wall that had been behind them. “How did this happen?”
“No,” Amélie interrupted as she turned around to wave around at their surroundings. “Not...back then. Now. How are we talking like this? How are you doing this? Everything Ana and Angela said...that Zenyatta said...suggested this shouldn’t be possible. Not so early on.”
“I don’t know,” Widowmaker admitted. “I am not even sure I am the one doing this.” Her lips curled up in a dark little smile. “After all, it is your brain, ma chérie.”
“Not just mine,” Amélie countered. “Not...not any longer.”
“Mm. Perhaps,” Widowmaker said as she looked around. “The last thing I remember was going to bed.”
Amélie frowned as she tried to remember what had happened while Widowmaker had been in control. She remembered the kiss on her forehead, but then...nothing clear. Perhaps when she woke up, she might recall more, but not now. “Did Lena...deactivate you?”
Widowmaker shook her head. “No.” She fidgeted slightly, a blush rising on her cheeks as she looked away. “We...watched a movie. After. She made popcorn.” She looked back up from the floor. “I liked that.”
“Good,” Amélie said without really considering it too deeply. “I like watching movies with her, too. But...after that?”
“I asked if she was going to deactivate me,” Widowmaker explained slowly. “She asked me if that was what I wanted.”
Amélie raised an eyebrow. Gallant, ma lionne.
“Yes,” Widowmaker said with a nod. “She was.”
“So,” Amélie asked as she tried to ignore what had just occurred. “What did you tell her?
“I said...that you had given me the evening, with her.”
Amélie nodded. That was an answer, she supposed. “And Lena?”
“She...said that she would see you in the morning,” Widowmaker answered her, “and she turned out the light.”
“So, not just bed,” Amélie mused. “You went to sleep.”
“She’s warm,” Widowmaker said. “It was...relaxing.”
“Yes,” Amélie agreed. “Yes, she is.” She walked closer to Widowmaker, putting a hand on her shoulder. “Have you slept before?”
“Not like that,” Widowmaker shook her head. “Not…” She looked around. “Like this. I remember being drugged. I remember hearing words I could not recognize. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t wake. I was activated. I was deactivated.”
“So,” Amélie said softly. “Perhaps Talon was afraid of something like this.”
“Perhaps,” Widowmaker shrugged again. “There are also the doctor’s changes to my...our...medications. The ‘adjustments’ to our brain chemistry.”
“You’ve never dreamed before,” Amélie whispered.
“No,” Widowmaker confirmed. “Until perhaps today.”
Amélie frowned as she walked a little circle around the range. “You said perhaps I needed to see this place.”
“The monk said that dreams, or nightmares, are how the mind processes memories,” Widowmaker observed. “If you are seeing this because I am dreaming, it is as you said - you did not remember this place.”
Amélie hummed as she thought that over. Zenyatta had said something like during their discussions and occasional attempts at meditation.
She hadn’t thought Widowmaker was listening.
“I’m always listening.”
“Stop... eavesdropping,” she snapped. “It’s rude.”
Widowmaker gave a dismissive snort. “I do not know how I am doing it. How do you suggest I stop?”
Amélie didn’t have a good answer, so she went back to their other discussion. “So you think you’re dreaming of this place so that I will remember it.”
“It makes as much sense as anything else,” Widowmaker said as she crossed the floor to her. “How can you accept what I am - who we are - if you do not know what I have done?”
They walked back to the lane that she - that they - had been standing in. The rifle was still there. A crude early version of her Kiss, that had no options for fully automatic fire.
“One shot,” Widowmaker murmured as Amélie reached out to touch the stock. “One kill.”
She stared down at the weapon.
She is right. If we are going to move beyond this, integrated or not...I must accept what I have done.
Amélie picked up the rifle, and suddenly she was back in the patient gown, with the range active once again.
“This is an enemy of Talon.”
She looked downrange, and sighted in her target.
“The enemies of Talon must be eliminated.”
Her finger was already drawing back the trigger when she suddenly realized it was Lena’s face staring back at her.
Lena was suddenly awake, tumbling to the floor in a tangle of sheets as she was pushed off the side of the bed.
When she looked up Widowmaker (or was it Amélie?) was stumbling from the bed and looking around with wide, panicked eyes. She was breathing rapidly, almost hyperventilating, and Lena could see her outstretched fingers trembling as she tried to get her bearings.
“Shh,” she soothed as she got up and took one of her lover’s hands with her own. “It’s ok. You’re safe. I’m here.”
She repeated herself in English and in French until golden eyes met hers, and the blue skinned fingers tightened their grip on her hand.
She knew it was Amélie from the way she spoke, even at a time like this. Something in the tone of her voice, and the way she said her name.
“Yeah, luv. I’m here.”
Amélie reached out to touch the side of her face. “You’re real. You’re...I didn’t…”
Lena drew her in for a hug, and Amélie clung to her as she tried to reassure herself.
“Just a bad dream, yeah? Just a nightmare is all. That’s all it was.”
“No,” Amélie finally murmured into her hair, her voice thick with unshed tears. “No, it was...it was more than that.” She took a shuddering breath.
“I remembered. She remembered, and it…” Her voice trailed off, and Lena hugged her as tightly as she could.
“I did those things.”
Lena loosened her embrace enough to look up at her. “Talon made you do those things. Both of you, really. Wasn’t like either of you had a choice.”
“Yes,” Amélie agreed in a broken voice. “But...I did those things.”
“Oh, luv …” Lena hugged her again and just held her for a bit, giving her comfort until the shaking stopped.
She looked over to the clock on the wall. Just shy of four in the morning.
“Feel like trying to sleep, or would you rather stay up?”
Amélie considered that. “I will try to sleep...but I should speak to Zenyatta in the morning. And Angela.”
Lena nodded as she led them back to bed, letting Amélie get comfortable before she wrapped herself protectively around her.
“First thing,” she promised.
She held Amélie until her breathing slowed and her body relaxed into sleep, then closed her eyes and tried to drift off herself.
Lena was just beginning to fall back asleep when she realized that she had never “deactivated” Widowmaker.
She opened her eyes and looked into Amélie’s sleeping face, trying to figure out what that meant, but could not find an answer there.
She wanted to talk to Angie in the morning , Lena finally decided. I guess I should, too.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?”
Lena grimaced in the face of Angela’s anger, and held out her hands. “No? That’s why I came to talk to you, Ange.”
Angela gave an exasperated sigh as she sat down heavily in her office chair. “Lena, there is a reason we were attempting to help Amélie and Widowmaker exchange their active and passive roles in a controlled environment . From what we can tell, even Talon made an effort to de-activate Widowmaker at the end of each mission. We have no idea how they will react to this, or what it will mean for our attempts at encouraging them to build a dialogue. How it could impact their stability.”
Lena looked away, not sure she could keep the embarrassment out of her voice. “I didn’t think about it like that. I’m sorry, Angela. I just…” She looked back up but didn’t quite feel up to meeting her friend’s eyes. “It was one of the things she talked to Amé about. Widowmaker, I mean. She was tired of waking up in a cage, and feeling trapped there. Giving her a bit of a night out was meant to be a gift to her, from both of us.”
Angela hummed to herself as she tapped the top of her desk. “And what did this ‘night out’ entail…?”
“Watched a movie,” Lena explained. “Had some dinner together. Talked. And...y’know. Stuff.”
Angela frowned as she tried to understand the last bit, then her eyes widened with realization. “Oh. I...yes! Yes, I see.”
“So you can see why we didn’t really want that to happen in a monitored cell.”
“I suppose not,” Angela admitted as a blush rose on her face. “And she...ah...behaved herself?”
Lena nodded, keeping her explanation to the basic facts. “She picked out a movie, I made some popcorn, we talked a bit, relaxed. Got ready for bed after and she was surprised when I told her I wasn’t going to make her go away.”
Angela considered that, then pulled a piece of paper over from her desk so she could make a few notes. “And how did she sleep?”
“Things seemed fine,” Lena said as she settled back in the guest chair, “but she did wake me up around four or so. Or...well... Amélie did.”
Angela’s concern was clearly warring with her professional habits as she looked up from her paper. “I need to know exactly what happened, Lena.”
Lena grimaced, then wet her lips. “She pushed me out of the bed. I heard her shout ‘No!’ and next thing I knew I was in a heap on the floor. By the time I got untangled, she was backing up to the wall. She didn’t really seem to know where she was for a moment.”
“Would you say she was panicked, then?”
“Yeh,” Lena admitted. “I think she was. So I started talking to her, took her hand, and it settled her down pretty quickly.”
Angela hummed thoughtfully as she made a few more notes. “Did she say anything?”
“She was…” Lena stopped, and considered how to explain what had happened. “She was afraid I wasn’t real. She was afraid that she’d...done something.” Angela’s head came up, but Lena stopped her from asking the obvious next question. “Wasn’t too hard to figure out what her nightmare was about. Part of it, anyway.”
“No,” Angela said softly. “I suppose it was not.” She went back to her notes, tapping a few of them with her pen. “Did she discuss anything else with you?”
Lena worried at her lip, then gave a little sigh. “Best as I can explain it, Amé felt like what had happened wasn’t a nightmare, exactly. More like she was facing a memory. Something Widowmaker remembered, but she didn’t, until then.”
“That’s interesting,” Angela observed. “Did she tell you what happened?”
Lena shook her head. “Not really, but like I said - wasn’t hard to figure out it must have involved killing someone. Maybe more than one person. She kept saying ‘I did those things’...it really seemed to bother her.”
Angela sat back, considering that. “As concerned as I am about what happened - and at Amélie apparently taking over as the dominant personality without a controlled change - that could be a positive outcome in the long run. Facing those memories - accepting those memories - is an important part of the process.”
Lena felt a bit of hope, and didn’t bother hiding the nervousness in her voice. “So...this is gonna be ok?”
Angela gave her a sympathetic smile. “I am still a bit upset with you...but I understand why you did it, and it does not seem to have done any lasting harm. So, yes, I think it will be OK.”
“Something troubles you.”
Amélie looked up from the candle she’d been trying to use to aid her meditations with Zenyatta. “Is it so obvious?”
The monk tilted his head slightly from where he sat across from her. “The disquiet within you had been easing of late. Today, it seems to have regained some of its strength.” He settled back slightly, silently encouraging her to relax from the seiza position she’d been in as well. “May I ask what has happened?”
She considered her answer, taking a moment to sit a bit more casually, careful to keep her voice even when she spoke. “I had an...experience last night. A dream of something Widowmaker remembered, but I did not.”
“How fascinating!” The sensors embedded in Zenyatta’s forehead brightened as he brought his hands together in front of his chest “Perhaps it might be helpful to discuss it? I have found that when I dream, I often find more clarity in sharing those events.”
Amélie’s eyebrows rose. “You dream?” Somehow she hadn’t considered that possibility before.
“Often,” Zenyatta answered her with faint amusement. “Though I do not always remember the events. Our creators often claimed it was not truly dreaming, but random impulses in our memory while we power down for rest and maintenance, but I fail to see the difference.”
She gave a little hum of agreement. “May I ask what you dream about?”
“I have often dreamt of being a butterfly,” Zenyatta said wistfully. “I think it must be a wonderful thing to fly.”
Amélie gave the omnic a smile despite her earlier discomfort. “Lena would agree with you.”
“I am sure,” Zenyatta said with clear amusement, then grew a bit more serious. “So - may I ask about what happened in your dream, Amélie?”
It took her a few moments to reply, and when she did her voice was hushed as she tried to recount what she had experienced.
“It was in a shooting range. It was...training.” She looked up at Zenyatta. “The targets were prisoners. Men. Women. Omnics. I was told they were enemies of Talon.”
Zenyatta was silent and still as he watched her, waiting for her to continue.
“I didn’t pull the trigger, at first.” Amélie was surprised at how calmly she was relating it. “They kept repeating that the enemies of Talon had to be eliminated. They offered rewards. They made threats. And when I did not respond to either...then the pain began.”
As she told her story, the memories of the pain she had previously suppressed were all too vivid now. It felt as if it was traveling beneath her skin, searing through every vein. Amélie could almost swear she felt that same stabbing throb in her skull and heard the voice demanding she eliminate her target with every slow beat of her heart.
“The pain was finally too much,” she whispered, ashamed as she admitted to her weakness. “I pulled the trigger, and it was a relief. Over and over, each time, until they finally decided I had done enough…” She shuddered as she recalled that rush of pleasure that had washed away the agony. “The pain was gone. I was put to sleep. But I was still there, watching myself. And as I watched them take me away, I realized I was not alone.”
“Widowmaker was present?” Now Zenyatta leaned forward, his voice soft but full of curiosity.
“She said...I needed to see what had happened. That she was ‘awake’ there, when I had not been.” Amélie looked up towards the ceiling, trying to put the rest into words. “It was...strange.”
“I can only imagine,” Zenyatta took a bead from his necklace, and charged it with golden light before sending it to orbit slowly around them.
The warmth made the phantom pain ease, and Amélie blinked her eyes as they began to water. “I didn’t...I didn’t want to kill them. And she didn’t care, then. Not until they made her learn to love it. But eventually I would do as they asked. I pulled the trigger, and they died. I did it again, and again, and again, until there was no hesitation. No question. All I had to be told was that they were an enemy of Talon, and they would die.”
“As you said - Talon pushed you until you had no choice. Even the most supple reed can be broken with enough force and time.” Zenyatta tilted his head again. “And yet I do not think that is what truly troubles you.”
She shrugged, conceding the point. “I tried to...I don’t know. Accept what had happened, perhaps. I took her place in the rifle range. Raised the gun. Prepared to fire...and as I pulled the trigger I realized it was Lena in my sights.”
“Ah.” Zenyatta steepled his hands, pressing his palms together. “You fear that by attempting to reconcile with Widowmaker, you will harm her?”
Amélie’s shoulders sagged and she let her head drop. The pain had been replaced by a weary fatigue, and it felt as if it was taking all her energy to stay awake. “I don’t know. I tried to keep Lena away from me, at first...but she came to me. Calmed me. Comforted me.”
Zenyatta nodded. “I do not claim to be an expert on love, Amélie, but I believe Lena understands the risks. She has from the beginning, I think...and she still chooses to be with you.”
“With both of us,” Amélie corrected. “She...she cares for Widowmaker, too. Accepts her.” She let out a tired laugh. “She accepted her before I even knew there was someone to accept.”
“All the more reason to allow her to make the decision of how close she wishes to be to you both,” Zenyatta observed.
“Perhaps,” Amélie conceded, then flushed with embarrassment as she let out a yawn. “Excuse me. I did not sleep well, after that. I thought I could manage, but…”
Zenyatta made a gently dismissive gesture. “Do not trouble yourself. There is nothing to excuse, or forgive. Pain is exhausting - pain of the heart even more so.” The orb returned to him, and he slowly turned it over in his hands. “You have endured this pain for some time, I think. Perhaps even longer than you realized. Now it is gone, and you can allow yourself to recover.”
Amélie wasn’t quite sure she understood what the monk meant about having endured the pain for longer than she realized, but the rest of what he said did make sense to her. “Would you be offended if I tried to rest here, for a time?”
“I would be most honored,” he reassured her as gestured to the meditation mat, then moved to extinguish the candle with his fingers. “Please. Rest, and I will ensure you are not disturbed.”
Amélie shifted from her seated position to laying out on the mat, shifting slightly this way and that until she was completely comfortable.
“Thank you,” she said quietly as she closed her eyes, and the last thing she felt before passing into a nap was the feeling of metal fingers gently stroking her brow.
Despite her concerns about Lena’s decision to ‘wake up’ Widowmaker without letting the rest of them know, and the risk from what seemed to be an unprompted shift in the dominant personality, Angela had to admit that there had been no overt signs of trouble since.
Amélie had continued to record messages for Widowmaker, spent more time in the garden, and had increasingly been helping in the kitchen.
Widowmaker had continued to be somewhat taciturn in her messages, but the topics of discussion were slowly beginning to grow. Lena had continued to advocate for her in the meantime, finally reaching a compromise so Widowmaker could finally be allowed to have a bit more free reign in the Watchpoint while ‘awake’ (if under observation), and now…
Now Angela was very curious to see what was about to happen.
Lena was dressed in workout gear, a towel around her neck, while Amélie was dressed in yoga pants, running shoes, and a sports bra, her hair up in a shorter version of the ponytail she’d typically used when “working.”
At the other side of the boxing ring, Fareeha had already pulled a pair of gloves on and was leaning against the ropes of the gym’s boxing ring, her hair tied back and wrapped in the beads she normally wore at her bangs.
Lena eyed Fareeha a bit nervously as she picked up a roll of boxing tape. “Sure this is a good idea? I was figuring we could go a few rounds before she fought anyone else.”
“It’s a controlled environment,” Fareeha said calmly as she looked over to Angela for support. “Besides, it’s good for her to interact with more of us, isn’t it?”
“I think so,” Angela agreed, giving her a smile. “If nothing else it’s an opportunity to try forming another relationship.”
Lena gave them both a skeptical look, but Amélie’s hand on her shoulder was apparently enough to quiet her concerns. “Guess we’ll see, then.”
“Don’t worry,” Fareeha grinned at them with a little glint of mischief in her eyes. “I promise I’ll go easy on her.”
Amélie’s head came up, a cold glitter in her eyes. “That would be a mistake.”
Fareeha straightened up, tapping her gloves together. “I suppose that’s true, but I’d do the same thing for anyone getting into the ring the first time. She doesn’t know how to box, does she?”
Amélie looked down at her hands as Lena finished wrapping her fingers and wrists, then over to Angela. “Perhaps it might be best to ask her?”
“A fair point,” Angela agreed. “Lena, would you…?”
Lena stood and leaned in so she could whisper into Amélie’s ear, and in moments Widowmaker was straightening up, looking around the room and identifying the positions of everyone there. Lena beside her, Angela in the corner. Fareeha watching her in the ring, Morrison standing with crossed arms in the back corner, trying just a little too hard to be casual.
To Angela’s surprise, Widowmaker turned to face Fareeha, and gave her an acknowledging nod. “Thank you.”
“You wanted to get the chance to work out,” Fareeha replied with a little smile. “I thought this might be...interesting.”
Widowmaker flexed her hands, examining the wrapping, then looked over to the gloves. “I was not trained to box, but I have some knowledge of the basics, in addition to self defense.” She extended her arms so Lena could put the gloves over her hands and lace them up. “Are there any limitations?”
Fareeha considered that a moment. “No shots to the head, nothing below the waist. Gloves only - no kicks. We’ll stick to the basics to start.”
“Very well.” Widowmaker tested her gloves against each other, then climbed into the ring as Fareeha took a few steps back towards the far corner. “So. Shall we begin?”
Fareeha gave a little nod, then came forward to offer her gloves. “We usually tap gloves, then go to our corners to get started.”
Widowmaker seemed amused by the formality, but tapped her gloves to Fareeha’s before she took a few steps back and adopted a ready stance.
Fareeha did the same, then glanced over to where Angela was looking at her watch. “Start us off, and we’ll break at three minutes.”
Angela rolled her eyes, but gave them a nod as she watched the second hand march across the watch face until it was near the top of the dial. “Three...two...one... go!”
Fareeha shuffled forward, cautiously approaching the center of the ring while Widowmaker kept her hands in a defensive guard, a spider patiently waiting for her prey to come into her web.
They began to carefully circle each other, Fareeha throwing a few quick testing jabs that Widowmaker deflected or evaded.
“Are you going to throw a punch eventually,” Fareeha taunted her goodnaturedly, “or just dance all day?”
Widowmaker’s answer came in a blatantly telegraphed hook that Fareeha stepped around, expecting to avoid the blow and counterattack, only to realize a moment too late that the incredibly obvious attack had been a feint.
Widowmaker had kept her left arm tight against her side, and now brought it under Fareeha’s guard in a hard rabbit punch, driving her back with the impact and then following it with two more rapid blows before Fareeha was able to disengage.
“OK,” Fareeha admitted as she gingerly prodded her side. “That was pretty good. Does Lena know you hit like a truck?”
“When I hit Lena,” Widowmaker smirked as she brought her hands back up, “I was not wearing gloves.”
Lena let out a little bark of laughter at that, and Angela gave her a dry look. “Not recently, I hope?”
“Nah,” Lena shook her head. “Not for a while.” Her eyes danced with a bit of mischief, and Angela found she’d missed seeing that little spark in her friend. “She usually tended to kick, anyway.”
Angela knew she really shouldn’t have laughed at that, but she couldn’t help herself.
Sorry it's been a while! I kinda sat on this while moving and doing a few other things and forgot about it, if I'm entirely honest!
Still - I have a few more plans here, and I'll try to keep this ball rolling with the others. :)
Thanks for reading!