This is what Angela is doing when she receives Commander Morrison’s call:
She is in her medbay, seated on a stool. Before her lies Jesse McCree, dark face pale and tight, still and relaxed in a way only sedatives can bring. She has just finished plucking a bullet out of the soft skin of his belly, right above his hip, and she has bandaged him and is lifting herself off of her stool when her comm beeps, quiet, urgent, never-ending.
She picks it up and says, softly, “If this is not an emergency – ”
“We need you to prepare a bed in the medbay, Angela. Right now.”
She has blood on her hands, and she looks back at the unconscious Jesse, in stable condition for now, and strips her gloves with a clipped, quiet affirmative. A new pair snaps onto her fingers, she draws the curtains to let the boy get some much-needed rest, and she pops her comm into her ear as she works.
She stills when Commander Morrison says, “You’ll want a private room for this one.”
Her hesitation is short, almost unnoticeable. “Yes, Commander,” she says, redirecting her course to then next room over, waving another doctor over to direct them to care for Jesse as she goes.
She does not ask questions. In hindsight, it might have been better if she had.
They bring her remains. Nothing else. A man who should not live yet does, young and maybe handsome, once. She does not know. She does not particularly care, for a life is a life and all life is precious, and she sets to work, stony, as Jack Morrison and Gabriel Reyes watch her in silence.
“His name is Genji Shimada,” Commander Morrison says at last. She has finished plugging Genji into a life-support system, and she reaches over the mangled body for a datapad. Her gloves are covered in blood. Beneath her a heart beats in a broken, cracked ribcage, and when she swipes at the glowing surface, she leaves a smear of red. “Can you save him?”
“I will do what I can,” she says. Her voice is cold. Her disapproval is palpable, but neither man flinches. Why would they, she thinks, why would they when they are the most dangerous soldiers this world has ever seen, and she says, “If you do not have anything useful to tell me, leave. I need to focus.”
Perhaps that had been too cold, but at the moment, she can’t find it in her to care. There is life in front of her, life in the quiet rasp of Genji’s lungs and in the incessant flow of his blood in his veins, and Commander Morrison murmurs something to Reyes and then they leave. With them goes a heavy weight of dread, and Angela pulls her shoulders back as she assesses, assesses, assesses.
They had brought her remains. Nothing else. A man who should not live, yet he does.
She will coax him back to life.
The damage is too extensive for simple transplants of flesh. His jaw is destroyed, and it’s with much patience and careful placement of metallic, synthetic pieces that she gives him a functional face. His cheeks, forehead, nose – all of his skin is burned and scarred in a way she can’t quite decide what happened, but it’s healed nicely with some Caduceus tech, and it’s with a sense of finality that she inserts the last piece in place and grants him mangled speech whenever he awakens.
“You have served him well,” she says to the bones she had had to remove. They do not respond, and she looks back to the broken body on her table. His heart beats, miraculously, steady and slow in part due to the machines, and the more she looks, the more she realizes how much she will have to build, how little she can save.
“I will be watching over you,” she tells the body. His throat is mangled, and he is unconscious, so he does not respond. She wonders if he hears her, and knows it doesn’t matter.
She is up for almost two days straight when Jesse knocks on the door to the room and she goes out to answer him. She knows it’s him because she can hear his spurs, and she blocks his view of Genji as she steps out, bloodied gloves already flying towards the trash can as the door closes behind her.
“No offense, Angel,” he says to her, eyebrows gently furrowing, “But you look like shit. You slept at all?”
“There hasn’t been time,” she says with a sigh. With Jesse she lets her guard down; he’s her age, two young people in an organization where they’re not sure they belong, and when she looks at herself, she grimaces to see her white lab coat has bloodstains on the front. “I suppose Reyes told you what is happening?”
“Not much,” Jesse says, “Only that the mission in Hanamura went south, and that I was unconscious when they brought the younger Shimada in.” He nods to the closed door. “Not lookin’ good, I’m guessin’.”
“No,” she says, honest. “There is much to be done.”
“Take a break,” he says, drawling, gentle in the way only he can be. Her edges soften, slightly; there are few people she trusts, and this strange young outlaw is one of them, and the thought is endlessly amusing. “You’re dead on your feet.”
“I will stabilize him,” she says, compromising immediately. Jesse knows better than to argue as she says, “I will join you shortly.”
There are only minute adjustments to be made, in any case; checks over the equipment to ensure he doesn’t die while she’s gone, assistants instructed to monitor his condition and to call her in if something goes wrong. Then the lab coat is shrugged off, folded, placed in the laundry bin, and Jesse is waiting for her when she steps out.
“Escorting me?” she teases, gentle, and he snorts and holds his right arm out to her. She loops her elbow through his, and she’s not surprised when he brings her to the mess hall instead of her room. He knows her too well, especially when he hides her in a quiet corner away from everyone else before getting something for the both of them. In some ways she’s just as dangerous an agent as him, everyone giving them a wide berth regardless when they settle in; untouchable, much blood on their hands, bound together by a shared sense of purpose, of justice and a will to live, to see others live.
“Too busy takin’ care of us to take care of yourself,” he tells her at some point, speaking through a mouthful of rice and curry. She smiles at that, self-deprecating, and while he’s good-natured, he’s serious, too.
“I don’t know what I would do without you,” she answers, wry, and at the same time she nods; I understand. It makes his smile widen, and for a few, brief hours, her thoughts and her life are not focused on the body on her medical table.
Her dreams are restless. There are flashes of green, mostly, an orange scarf in the wind, and then she wakes up and stares at the ceiling of her small room. She sinks into the memory foam coating the top of her thin mattress, and a lolling of her head shows that she has been asleep for perhaps six hours at most.
She gets up, after a few minutes. Gets dressed. Thinks of a laugh she’s never heard, wonders at the frail body on her table, heels clicking on the tile as she pads to the medbay. No one has to know, she thinks to herself, how little I choose to rest.
When Jesse checks in with her in the morning for his doctor’s note, he sighs when he sees where she is, but he’s quiet as she runs through the medical examination. She’s grateful for that, and she pauses when he sweeps her hair behind her head and secures it in a ponytail. She’d forgotten somehow, even as she had tucked all of it under a cap, and she watches him as he pulls his shirt back on and jumps to his feet. He’s a predator, through and through, and he tips his hat at her as she signs off and hands him the slip of paper.
“Come back safely, Jesse,” she tells him, because she knows that he’s one of Blackwatch’s top agents for a reason, that he’ll be shipped off soon enough.
“Don’t let this consume you, Angel,” he answers, smiling gently, and because it’s him she nods, just once. She waits until he leaves the room to roll her hair into a bun and place the cap back on, and then it’s back to the table, back to the body, back to the throat she’d left half-finished but functional.
There is blood on her hands and her person when she sits up. She’s not sure how much time has passed. The remains have a functional throat now, and a functional jaw, and soon she has to get him a pair of functional lungs. His ribcage is shattered, so it isn’t going to be hard to put them in. She has to build them, first, confer with Torbjörn again as she had with the throat, and she sits back and peels her gloves off and removes her mask and stares down at the remains for a moment.
“I am with you,” she tells him. His throat is not mangled, and he is unconscious, so he does not respond. She wonders if he hears her, and she wonders why she thinks that matters.
“He is my patient,” she says to Commander Morrison. She is steely. She is ice. Agents look over as she stands, tray in hand, scowling at the man in front of her. “When he has recovered sufficiently, I will let you know.”
“You need to call me as soon as he wakes up,” Commander Morrison says. He’s tired. Not getting enough sleep. She can tell just by looking, and because his fork has been attempting to stab the same green bean for the past five seconds. She doesn’t bring it up; she’s not much better.
“When he has recovered sufficiently,” she says, steadfast, blue eyes narrowed, “I will let you know.”
Commander Morrison dismisses her with a sigh and a wave of his head. She’s not sure what he had been expecting, really, and it’s with the body’s throttled ribcage in mind that she stalks back to the medbay.
(It won’t occur to her until much, much later that Commander Morrison had called her to meet with him in the mess hall for the sole purpose of making sure she ate something.)
She has rolled out the blueprints for the body’s new lungs when she hears a rasp. She is out of her seat like a shot.
His eyes are brown. His pupils are blown and his irises are glazed over, but he locks onto her face and the machines around him beep steadily. He is not stable by any means – but he will not die, even as he awakens.
Her Japanese is abhorrent. She does her best, and says, “You are safe now.”
She is a mess. Her hair is tucked into a cap, there is a mask over her face, her lab coat is red in many places (she’s given up on getting all of the stains out), and the shadows under her eyes are deep and black and inky. She doesn’t care, looking down at him and thinking fiercely that a life is a life and all life is precious. I have not let him die. He survives, still.
“Where?” he asks. He is not used the mechanical throat, but the fact he can use it at all tells Angela that she had managed to stitch nerve tissue to sensors correctly. She is glad. It would have been incredibly stupid to have messed that up.
“Geneva,” she answers, in English. “Switzerland.” She says to him, more quietly, unable to say it in Japanese, “You should try not to talk. You are severely injured.”
He tries to lift his head. She knows that he cannot; his spinal cord is severed, neatly, and the medulla of his brain sends commands to muscles that are no longer there. She sees the fear in his eyes and places her hand across his forehead. She is not wearing gloves, she realizes belatedly, but it calms Genji nonetheless, the panic fading from his vision.
“Who?” he croaks.
“Angela,” she tells him, fast and certain. “You need to rest.”
He says something else. She doesn’t know what it is, and the gentle raise of her eyebrow must tell him so, but he does not say it again. His eyes close, instead, and she waits until the machine informs her his breaths have slowed to the point of sleep, and then she returns to the blueprints and picks up the materials Torbjörn had given her.
He wakes again while she is putting the mechanical lungs into his body. He is not able to lift his neck and look, not yet, and he cannot feel the pain as she connects cybernetic cable from his brain, down what remains of his spine, places it just so in the left lung so breathing is an automatic process, one he does not have to think about. She has already done the right, and it had taken her two hours.
“Angela,” he says, testing her name out on his tongue, and she gives a soft hum of assent. She doesn’t think he is going to say anything more, but he says again, “Angela,” more quietly and with different inflection, and then again, like he’s unable to say anything else.
“Genji,” she says after a moment, and she thinks if he could start violently, he would’ve. Instead he inhales sharply and chokes because the lung hasn’t been put into place yet, and she places a hand on his forehead again. She forgets that the glove is bloody, but it’s too late, and hopefully he won’t be able to tell. “Calm down,” she says in his mother tongue, gentle, quiet, but he doesn’t, and she can see him panicking, and with that in mind she returns to the lung – she’s almost done – and works as quickly and as efficiently as she can. He can’t choke on anything, he’s merely not drawing as much air as he’s used to given the machine assisting him, and so she isn’t worried despite the sounds coming from his throat.
It hurts her ears to listen to, she thinks privately; too much like war, like soldiers who get shot and bleed out, like the time where she lost her parents. She stitches the last nerve into place and watches the lung compress, decompress like the other, and then she moves over so Genji can see her face, and she says, gently, “You are safe.”
“Angela,” he says instead, and then, “Why can I not move?”
She looks down at his body. There is his heart, protected, isolated, beating blood into what little of his body remains. His lungs, visible from within the cracks of his ribcage; she’s replaced the right side with metallic ribs, not yet the left. No legs to speak of, or arms, either, just burned stumps with skin she had painstakingly removed and covered so the exposed flesh would not get infected.
She had been brought remains. She has kept it alive, and now it is speaking to her, and it occurs to her, violently, that Genji is not a body, that Genji is a person. A life is a life and all life is precious –
“Do you remember what happened?” she asks him, because she’s read up on his file, and she surreptitiously throws her bloodied gloves in the trash as she waits for him to speak.
Dragons, he tells her.
She would not believe him if not for the look in his eyes.
“My superiors wish to speak to you,” she tells him eventually. He has a jaw, a throat, lungs, a heart, and she has fixed most of his stomach, liver, and spleen. She thinks she will tackle his kidneys next, though she doesn’t say that out loud as she sits next to him, keeping her voice down and trying not to let her exhaustion and sadness show. He is able to turn his head and move his neck, now, meaning he can follow her around the room, meaning he has seen the full extent of the damage. He has been very quiet since then, and she doesn’t blame him.
“This does not come for free,” he answers, lifting his chin slightly to indicate – everything, she supposes.
“It does not,” she agrees, and this time the unease must filter through because his brown, brown eyes flick over to her immediately. “I do not know all the details,” she tells him, “But I will protect you as best as I can. You do not have to agree to their terms if you do not want to.”
She knows that’s partly a lie. She also knows that Genji realizes this, because he doesn’t say anything, just blinks at her and gives a slight shake of his head.
“I thought it might make you feel better,” she says, slightly rueful, mostly self-deprecating.
“It is good to know I have at least one person on my side,” Genji answers, and she knows that he doesn’t trust her, not yet. Still, it will have to do.
“You cannot make him into a living weapon,” Angela will say minutes later, hands clenched into fists on her lap. She is sitting next to Genji, close enough that if he had one he could move his arm and nudge her shoulder. He is staring at her, regardless, and she ignores it in favor of glaring hard at her opponent.
“It’s his choice, Angela,” Commander Morrison says, and he is not her opponent but it certainly feels like it.
“You have given him the option of dying or not dying,” Angela snarls. “Where is the choice in – ”
“I will do it,” Genji says, and then, “Angela, please tell them I will do it.”
She breathes in. Pinches the bridge of her nose. She doesn’t realize there’s blood on her own fingers until she feels it wet the skin of her face, and she grimaces as she stares Commander Morrison down and grinds out, “He will do it.”
What a figure she must strike, she thinks privately; exhausted shadows under her eyes, a red line across her nose, hair pulled back into a messy bun, blue eyes hard as ice. She’s glad Jesse isn’t here to see her like this.
“Good,” Commander Morrison says, and she seethes but nods when he says, “I’ve seen the possible blueprints. Meet with Torbjörn when you have the time, make adjustments as you see fit.”
“Understood.” The venom in her voice drips. Commander Morrison ignores it, though he could easily reprimand her for sassing her superior officer, and it’s not until she leaves that she lets her shoulders curl in. A life is a life and all life is precious, and she turns so she’s looking at Genji again, eyes settling on his face as she scowls.
“The expression does not befit you, Angela,” Genji says without warning, and she’s shocked into silence. He does not say anything more, apparently under the impression that he has made a transgression of sorts, and she does not bother to correct him.
They brought her remains, she gave them a man, and now he speaks to her and looks at her and she thinks he hates her, and then this. She is not sure what to think.
Jesse returns from wherever bruised and bloody. It is better than most missions. She patches him up without much difficulty, and he sees the shadows under her eyes and says, “Shimada holdin’ up?”
“Yes,” she says. It occurs her that she has not seen Fareeha recently, when she sees the tiny flower tucked in the hair behind Jesse’s ear. “He is speaking now. Coherent. He has limited movement, also.”
“Good t’hear.” He lifts his arm at her nudge, and she unrolls the gauze around his bicep. “And you’ve been takin’ care of yourself?”
She doesn’t reply. He sighs, long and slow, but he waits until she’s done, at least, before placing a hand on her shoulder.
“You need a break, Angel,” he says, and she burns with the knowledge that he is right.
“I can’t take a break,” she says, because she knows, in equal amounts, that that is true, too.
“When’s the last time you’ve been on a mission? C’mon.”
“No,” she says, shaking her head, but she’s smiling. “Jesse, you know I can’t risk it, not now.”
“Yeah, yeah, worth a shot.” The hat goes back on his head, finally, and he looks right. “Let’s at least get you something to eat, if you’re not gonna sleep.”
“Fine,” she says, unable to force a frown on her face. “Let me speak with Genji, and then we can go.” She hesitates, briefly, knowing that Jesse is curious but is polite enough not to ask, and then she says, “Perhaps you would like to meet him.”
It’s a mistake.
Then again, neither of them had expected Genji to recognize Jesse, and Angela hadn’t been aware Genji’s tear ducts were still functional.
“M’sorry,” Jesse says over grilled cheese sandwiches.
“It wasn’t your fault,” Angela sighs, and the rest of their meal passes in silence.
“I’m sorry,” she says to Genji.
“It wasn’t your fault,” he says, and the rest of her work – more torso reconstruction, lifting his shoulders, bracing his spine – continues in silence.
“He mentioned that you do not sleep enough,” Genji says at one point, in accented English. Angela’s hands jerk, startled, but she thankfully manages to avoid twisting any wires or otherwise breaking something in the delicate mess that was currently his body. At her look, he says, “The door was open a little bit. I heard.”
“Ah,” she says, and doesn’t respond to his unspoken query.
“I can survive some time on my own, Angela,” Genji presses on.
“Yes,” she agrees, and then, perhaps a little more sharply than intended, “I do not see why you would care, Genji. You’ve made it quite clear that you do not trust any of us; the episode with Jesse was enough to tell me that.”
She’s hurt him, she thinks, but she doesn’t care. She just goes back to work on his collarbone and pretends she doesn’t see the guilt on his face.
(Her chest aches, hollow and empty, when she tries to sleep. She tells herself it’s nothing.)
“I trust you,” Genji tells her the following morning.
She doesn’t answer with words, doesn’t plan to give him the satisfaction; but then she meets his eyes and her resolve crumbles, and he returns her soft smile with one of his own, the first she’s seen since she’d met his mangled remains.
Torbjörn’s original blueprints called for less sensory input than was normal. Angela agreed to them while deciding to go through with her original intention, but now – that doesn’t seem right. A life is a life and all life is precious, so she asks Genji what he would prefer.
“If I am to be Overwatch’s weapon,” he says to her, “Then perhaps it is better that I do not feel at all.”
“You will be uncomfortable,” she tells him, aware her disapproval emanates off of her in waves. “You will not be able to feel your body. You will be detached. It will be unsettling.”
“I did not say I wanted that,” Genji says with a raised eyebrow, and she places her hand on his forehead, briefly, smiling before she gets back to work. “It is strange,” he says after a moment, “To know you are building me piece by piece and yet I cannot feel a thing.”
“The pain would be incredible,” Angela says. She’s come to find that she enjoys these candid conversations, simple as they are. Genji is much more open with her than she would have expected, considering he is literally at her mercy, and in turn she tells him about herself, more so than she would with a friend. Even Jesse is not privy to all of her secrets; Genji, she knows, will keep them safe.
“Yes,” he agrees, and then, “It is enough to feel the warmth of your palm against my forehead.”
She pauses at that. If she’s not mistaken, he might be… flirting with her? The thought is so ridiculous that she almost doesn’t stop her snort of disbelief in time, and instead she says mildly, “Interesting, considering my hands are typically very cold.”
He laughs. It’s hoarse and small and she has to stop working to listen to it.
It isn’t the only time she hears it, but it is one of the few.
It’s impossible to miss how much bitterness shapes Genji’s personality, really. Angela would know; she talks to him every day, growing cybernetic skin and pinching and pulling it across the bones Torbjörn had built from a metal she couldn’t name, and though he is never angry with her, there are moments when his words run cold and the words are sharper than knives.
In particular, she’s come to find that sitting in during meetings with Genji and Commander Morrison stops becoming helpful and turns into, instead, a necessity. Genji’s barbs are for all who come close – all, except for her.
“If I am not a man, then I am a weapon,” Genji seethes after one such meeting, during which he had fed the Commander more information about the Shimada clan, during which Commander Morrison had made a blunder and mentioned Hanzo – his brother, Angela came to understand. His head turns to face her and he asks, sorrowful and furious all at once, “If I am a weapon, then why bother treat me like a human?”
“Genji,” she says to him, looking up from where she is coaxing nerve tissue into the individual fingers of new left hand, “You are not a weapon.”
“You have built me to be one.”
“I have built you a body that is suited for the tasks Overwatch wants you to complete, against my will,” Angela corrects, gentle, soft. No one ever thinks she has a core of steel because her words are always delivered with care. “This does not mean you are a weapon.”
“Then what am I?”
Angela doesn’t answer, pulling just a bit more and sighing with relief when the nerve connects. Genji waits, and waits, and waits, but it’s only when she has gotten each finger to respond to stimulus that she responds.
“That is for you to decide,” she tells him, leaning over to rest her elbows on the side of his cot. His eyes are on her; his expression is neutral. “I could just as easily be a killer, but I choose to be a medic.” She knows it doesn’t help, so she softens the blow as much as she can. “It is not nearly the same as your situation, I understand that, but it is the best advice I can give. Let your own thoughts guide your path.”
Genji doesn’t say anything after that.
“You should sleep, Angela.”
“Soon,” she says lightly. “Try moving your arm.”
The first thing he does, when he obeys, is touch her chin and nudge it so she’s looking in the direction of his face. He looks more somber than usual.
“You should sleep, Angela,” he says again.
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” she tells him, light tone gone, seriousness in its place.
Genji lets go, but his touch will remain with her for the rest of the day and night.
The other arm goes faster, if only because it’s identical to the first and she’s wired it and watched Torbjörn build it once before. The hardest part is ensuring room for the shurikens Genji mentioned he was good at using, but she and Torbjörn made do and it would be very functional and sleek, that much she knew.
“The cowboy man,” Genji says at one point. Angela hums in acknowledgement; Jesse. “He was there. In Hanamura.”
“Yes,” Angela says, knowing Hanamura is Genji’s hometown.
“Did he meet my brother?”
“I don’t think so,” she says, and she sets her tools down for a moment and looks over at him. “Is something wrong, Genji?”
“My brother murdered me out of duty,” Genji says, staring blankly at the ceiling. His brown eyes have lost the lively gleam, and she reaches out and places a hand on his shoulder – something he can feel, now, because he twitches at her touch. “I was hoping he might have seen what Hanzo looked like after... it is stupid, in retrospect.”
Genji hasn’t told her the full story. He hasn’t told anyone the full story. All she knows is that his brother did it, there were dragons, and when he had first arrived here, he had thought she was a literal angel. The picture it paints is worthy of a storybook but not ideal, and she sighs, quietly, and looks down at the wires making up his arm.
“If your brother is anything like you described, back when you were both younger,” she tells him, “He regrets it already.”
“I doubt it,” Genji says. “You did not know him.”
“No, I did not,” she agrees. When she removes her hand from his shoulder, he glances over at her and just as quickly glances away. “I have found that hating an unseen enemy is more detrimental than not, however.”
“What do you mean?”
She laughs. It’s humorless. “My parents died to war, Genji. Why do you think I am here despite being so young?”
Genji is quiet after that.
She has overshared, she thinks.
For some reason, it doesn’t make her as nervous as she thinks it should.
Arms, head, neck, shoulders, chest, back. No legs yet, but that’s only a matter of time, and it hits Angela – she has a routine now. She’s not sure what she’ll do when she doesn’t have Genji to focus her undivided attention on, and she realizes with sudden guilt that she’s left almost all regular patients to the other doctors on base.
“I’ve explicitly told all of them not to disturb you,” Commander Morrison says when she asks, and she accepts this because she’s come to understand that Genji is an invaluable asset. The only people she sees is Jesse, mostly, or the Commander himself, or perhaps even Reyes. It’s enough to keep her occupied, and Genji is better company than the latter two at any rate.
“Will I be able to leave this cot soon?” Genji asks her while she’s bent over his kneecap.
“If you wanted to leave, you should have asked,” Angela says, putting her tools aside with a small bit of frustration. She’ll have to talk to Torbjörn again about some of the wiring; it’s getting pinched between the metal of the kneecap and the bone underneath. “I would have thought you would get stir-crazy in here sooner.”
“I had good company,” Genji says, and the honesty in his voice is flattering. Her cheeks heat up and she ignores it studiously; Genji, fortunately, doesn’t see. “I did not ask mostly because I am not sure what I am.”
There are three major themes with Genji Shimada, she’s learned: he is almost entirely convinced that his purpose in life is to be a weapon pointed at the Shimada clan; he constantly grapples with the fact that he is no longer man but not entirely omnic; and he is deathly afraid and, in the same breath, horrendously angry at his family. It makes her wonder how he can be so calm and candid with her, yet furious and screaming with everyone else.
Good company, he’d said. Angela thinks about herself as a person and begs to differ.
“We can find a wheelchair of some sort for you,” Angela says, scooting her stool so that she is within Genji’s vision, should he choose to look at her. He does, as he almost always does, and his brown eyes capture her blue ones immediately. “There are not many places you can go, however. Commander Morrison has made that quite clear to me.”
Genji calls the Commander something rude in Japanese, right on cue. Angela can’t help the laugh that springs from her throat, genuine and light, and she doesn’t realize Genji is staring until she stops a few seconds later, still smiling as she coughs into her fist. Her cheeks heat up again; this time, unfortunately, he can see it, but he glances away instead of commenting. Small mercies, she thinks, and then she clears her throat and rolls back down to his knee.
“You do not seem very happy, Angela,” Genji says after a while.
“You would be right, Genji,” Angela says, a frank admission of honesty. He wouldn’t tell, she knows, not that anyone would listen to him in the first place.
She works in silence. She’s not sure if she likes it anymore.
Then there comes a day where she rolls out of bed and knows it could go one of two ways. Fortunately for her, it goes the other way, and soon she’s stifling her giggles as Genji says, quite seriously, “I have to have a great ass, Angela. It is crucial.”
“Fine,” Angela agrees, and it takes Genji completely off-guard.
“You are serious?”
“As the dead,” she says, and for some reason, that makes him go quiet.
(He’s lying on his back, so thankfully he can’t see how red her face is as she builds him, as instructed, a great ass.)
The next awkward conversation takes place the next day, early in the morning, as she couldn’t sleep. This was becoming normal, her odd hours and Genji’s tendency to keep a sleep schedule around her comings and goings. He hadn’t been allowed guests, nor did he want them, so the system suited them both just fine.
But at any rate, she has trouble keeping a straight face as she asks, “Do you plan to have sex in the future?”
Genji gives her a flat look. She gestures down at his crotch, which is the part she is currently working on, since sending in the blueprints for his knees to be reviewed by Torbjörn.
“Angela,” Genji says, expressionless; “Are you suggesting robot dick?”
She bursts out laughing, even though her face is aflame. Genji is blushing, too, but he looks defiant somehow, and there’s a look of smug happiness as she peters off into giggles, uncontrollable as she considers her possible responses.
“I’ve never slept with an omnic,” she tells him at last, “But I’m told it’s quite good.”
“Same to both,” Genji says with a breathy huff of a laugh, and then his head thunks back to rest on the pillow. “Do what you’d like, Angela. I don’t think anyone would want to sleep with me at the end of the day.”
She keeps quiet at that, doesn’t voice the traitorous thought in her head.
(He does not, in the end, get the robot dick.)
“Angela,” he says one day, when she’s finished one leg and working on the next.
“I think you are the only true friend I’ve ever had.”
Angela pauses to consider this. She’s told him of her late parents, of her childhood, of her struggles and how she came to Overwatch; he’s spoken at length of his childhood, of his family, of home, of Hanzo, of how he died. She’s told him about Jesse and her superior officers and how she doesn’t have many friends, he’s told her about his sexcapades and tendency to hit on anything that moved and his love for video games and how foolish everything seemed, now that he was here.
“I think you are the only true friend I’ve ever had, also,” she tells him at last, because her friendship with Jesse is very important but different in many different ways.
“Thank you, Angela.”
“Thank you, Genji,” Angela says, and Genji stands before her, visor clicking into place.
He disappears after that. His room – not his room anymore, Angela remembers – is sterilized, cleaned out, and soon ready for its next occupant. She returns to her normal duties, and the doctors are relieved to hear it; no one had been ready for the paperwork she had become accustomed to filling out on a daily basis, and while there are not piles of backlog, there’s enough that she stays in her office for a few days before she begins to treat patients personally again.
She half-hopes Genji would try to keep in touch, given she has no sure way of contacting him; once Blackwatch got its claws into him, connection would be spotty at best. Jesse had been proof of that, often going silent for sometimes months at a time, so she is not surprised when she does not hear from Genji at all in the next few weeks. Disappointed, she admits, but not surprised.
“You like him,” she tells herself in the mirror one day – forces herself to, because the sooner she gets over it, the better. Her reflection stares back at her, pale, tired, sleep-deprived. “You like him,” she says again, and the words ring patently like holy truth in her ears and she doesn’t know why.
She’s working on yet more paperwork when she hears, hesitant, slightly robotic, “Dr. Ziegler?”
A glance to the side reveals Genji. He is missing an arm and the stump of his elbow is sparking. Beside him, Jesse holds a hand to his side, and her quick assessment judges that a bullet grazed him. He is lucky, as he always is, and she gets to her feet and briskly makes her way over. She ignores the fact Genji calls her Dr. Ziegler. She wonders when he had finally learned her full name.
“Sit, before you faint,” she tells Jesse, pointing. He complies with a ragged laugh, and she turns to Genji. She misses not being able to see his face; with his visor, he is inscrutable. “You can wait here if you’d like. I will need to see to Jesse first before I can assess the damage.”
“I will wait,” Genji says. He takes a chair while Angela flits back to Jesse’s side, snapping on gloves and donning a facemask as she goes, bodily pushing Jesse down despite his protests.
She is hyperaware of Genji’s presence even as she and Jesse talk – mostly about how he needs to be more careful, mostly him laughing it off again as usual – and then she prescribes him much bedrest and no strenuous activity, she means it, and sends him off. Genji takes his place once she cleans up the excess blood on the chair, and she pokes at his arm, neatly bisected at the elbow.
“I do not suppose you brought the other half with you?” she asks him, gingerly touching at wires. A few elicit hisses of pain; most do nothing.
“Lost,” Genji says. “There was an explosion.”
“Of course,” she grumbles, and that gets Genji to laugh, a little bit. “In that case, Torbjörn will have to build a replacement before I can connect the nerve fibers to each other again. That will take at least a week or two.”
He doesn’t say anything at that. She’s a little – taken aback, maybe, because she feels like he would have responded with a lightning-quick jab or something, but she doesn’t say anything more as she places his arm at his side and moves across the room to grab a sling. It’s the best she can do in present circumstances.
“Angela,” he says as she comes over, and she ignores the relief that pools down her spine; he won’t be calling her Dr. Ziegler after all.
“Do you think I should kill my brother?”
For a long, long moment, nothing moves. She looks at him, gaze steady and unwavering. He doesn’t look in her direction; his head is tilted down, not away, but she gets the sense he is waiting for – a scolding, perhaps. A strong and vehement response, and instead she loops the sling around his shoulder in relative quiet, gently resting what remains of his arm into the fabric’s embrace.
“Violence begets violence,” she tells him, tightening the sling slightly and resting her hand on his shoulder. “Ultimately, it is up to you.”
Genji looks over at her as he reaches up to cover his hand with hers, briefly. She smiles, small, holding the position for a few seconds longer before pulling away, and he spins in place to swing his legs over the side of the chair and land lightly on his feet.
“Join me?” he asks, holding out his good hand. He doesn’t say for what, and Angela thinks back to the paperwork she had left half-finished, the patients in the neighboring wing, the –
She tangles her fingers with his and tries not to think too hard about how the synthetic skin is warm.
You like him, she tells herself later, sitting across from him. He’s holding a hot cup of tea in his hands – he’s not able to consume it, but he tells her he likes the feeling of it, the smell. She sips at her own cup quietly.
You like him, she says to herself again when he laughs. It sounds like he hasn’t laughed in days, hoarse and unused in his throat, and she giggles with him and tries to ignore the fact that this is the most at ease she’s been in weeks.
You need to stop this, she reminds herself as they stand and he promises to come in tomorrow so she can check for any damage. He’s grounded for a bit while Torbjörn rebuilds his arm – she should really learn how to do the base by herself at this point, honestly – and she tries not to think about how unhappy that makes her feel.
“You know,” she says to him one day, “You should not have survived your injuries. Back from before.”
“Dragons,” Genji says. His hand taps his thigh, and she remembers the traces of ink, of a tattoo, on the tattered skin before she had been forced to replace most of it.
“Dragons?” she asks anyway.
“One dragon,” Genji amends, and then, “I told you of the Shimada clan’s legacy, did I not?”
He tilts his head, birdlike. They’re in the infirmary again; he’s perched on the edge of her desk, legs folded in a lilac pose. He takes up surprisingly little space, and Angela has to remind herself that he’s the same height as she is.
“Sometimes, the heirs of Shimada get dragons,” he says by way of explanation, and it’s so vague and awful and Genji that she laughs.
“Your dragon possesses your sword?”
“She cuts through my enemies like paper,” Genji says, like he’s reciting some kind of poem. He shrugs. “She possesses my sword and I can call on her for advice or company. Mostly she rests within my bones.”
Angela looks him over. A dragon. She’s a scientist, through and through, but this – she is willing to chalk it up to magic.
The moment she replaces Genji’s arm is the moment he leaves. He thanks her, as always, and she tells him to stay safe, visit when you can, and the words call me die in her throat when he takes her hand in both of his and stares down at her pale skin.
He is silent for a few moments before he says, “Take care of yourself, Angela.”
“Only if you do the same,” she counters, and he puffs out a laugh. They both know it’s a useless endeavor anyway.
Days pass. Reinhardt is forced to retire. One day Ana stops visiting for tea and the funeral is somber and tense. Genji and Jesse come and go, always sporting injuries of some kind, and Commander Morrison and Commander Reyes start arguing and just – don’t seem to stop, at some point.
It’s hard. She’s friends with Jack, at the end of the day, friends with Gabriel too, but they’re also her superior officers and it was Ana who really cinched the package. She tries to help, but she’s tired too, and one day she slams her fists down on her desk and feels tears prick the corner of her eyes and she wants something. She doesn’t know what, and in the end she puts her face in her hands and cries silently, no sobbing or heaving or anything, just tears running down her face. When had everything gone wrong? When had it all destroyed itself, piece by piece?
Genji walks in seconds later with a few errant wires that need to be put back into place. She hasn’t moved, and when he sees her, he walks back out. Good, she thinks with guilty, vicious, sorrowful vehemence, but then he returns with tea and eases her into drinking it and she can’t hide her red eyes.
“This place is destroying you, Angela,” he says.
“You and me both, Genji,” she answers, drinking the tea. He’s somehow figured out her favorite kind, a sweeter, fruity herbal that Ana used to be bring her sometimes.
“I worry about you.”
He’s crouched next to her chair, looking up at her, one hand gently gripping the armrest. He is close. She can feel the heat radiating off of him against her leg, can hear the whirr of gears inside of him. She doesn’t think when she curls a hand around his neck, setting the tea down so she can lean forward, her face resting in the palm of her free hand.
“I worry about you,” she says at last. It comes out ragged. “I worry about everyone, but you especially.”
This is the way it’s always been; frank admissions of truth, secrets between them they wouldn’t tell anyone. She’s not expecting anything different now, and indeed, Genji makes a small humming noise and leans forward so he’s on his knees and can stretch his back to a greater height. She’s surprised by the hug, but she leans into it and curls up a bit, resting her cheek on the back of her chair and her chin on his shoulder. It’s not enough, but it is, and for now she lets it be.
“Tears might damage your systems,” she tells Genji later, snipping wires and twisting them together, soldering them with careful ease and snapping plates back into place.
“I can still cry without any mechanical troubles,” he tells her.
There it is, the frank admission of truth. She wipes her (dry) eyes and grips his hand in hers, squeezing once, and resumes work in silence.
Jesse comes in the medbay one day, hugs her tightly, and tells her, “I’m going.”
“Where?” she asks.
She studies him. He’s in his full cowboy getup, spurs and all, a bag slung over his shoulders. The hat is ever in place, and he is weary but he is ready. She nods once, tightly.
“Commander Reyes asked me to,” he says when she asks why, and then, at her furrowed brow, he shrugs. “Only a matter of time before somethin’ big goes down. Wanted me out before everything went to shit, I guess. You know how he is.”
“Not anymore,” she says, and Jesse’s silence lets her know he agrees. “Stay safe, Jesse. I know you won’t be able to contact me directly, but it would be nice if you could send me little notes or something so I know you are alright.”
“That is all I ask.” She stands and goes over to him, and, as always, his hugs are warm and surround her with a sense of safety, of home. “Take care of yourself.”
“You too,” he says. “Maybe get out sooner rather than later?”
“You know I can’t do that,” she says with a brittle smile, one he only sees when she steps back from him. He does, but the fact he had asked anyway is touching. “Safe travels, brother mine.”
He laughs, a sad and light sound all at once, and says, “Be well, sister Angel.”
Makes her sound like a cultist, Angela thinks, even though she believes in science and not a higher power. Of course Jesse would put an unexpected twist on something she’s come to accept as her own. She misses him already.
“Jesse tried to give me one of his cigarillos as a parting gift,” Genji says to her later. It’s late at night, but she almost never sleeps and Genji had just returned from a mission splattered with blood and needing diagnostics run for one of his legs. “I didn’t have the heart to tell him you would murder me if I tried to light it.”
“Theoretically you could use it, but it would wreak havoc in your system.” She taps his chest with a finger, briefly pausing in her scan. “You are a delicate coral reef inside a hard shell, Genji.”
“You enable me? And here I thought you hated smoking.”
“I do. Something Jesse and I grapple – grappled – with quite often. Commander Reyes as well.” She sighs, short and fond, and pushes Genji down so he’s actually lying on the padded table. “This would only take a few minutes if you’d sit still.”
“What if I wanted it to last longer?”
She stills. So does he, in that eerie way only omnics could, in a way that screams that he had said something he hadn’t meant to, but he says nothing. You like him, she thinks, and she feels her cheeks heat up as she resumes her scan, the movements slower than before.
“You could always come visit me more,” she says, tapping on the green slit of his visor. He doesn’t startle, but the twitch makes her smile. “You know I almost never leave.”
“Still a loner after all this time,” Genji says; “Me as well.”
“Birds of a feather,” she answers with a short laugh. “You are lucky you met me, Genji Shimada.”
Frank admissions of truth, she thinks to herself. You like him. A life is a life and all life is precious. You like him.
She doesn’t resist when he takes her free hand in his, nor does she say anything when she says she needs to tweak some wiring in his upper thigh, sets her datapad aside, and proceeds to sit with him in silence, fingers intertwined.
Without Jesse, without Fareeha, whenever Genji is off on a mission (almost always), Angela finds herself increasingly isolated. Doctors leave in droves, as do nurses and other medical staff; soon it’s only her and a few others, and Commander Morrison grows moodier and moodier when he visits for checks, and Commander Reyes stops showing up at all.
“You’re lonely,” she tells her reflection. Her reflection stares back, shadowed eyes and mussed blond hair and rumpled clothes, and she says, “Accept it.”
Jesse sends her a note. It’s a tiny card with some flowers adorning the edge, maybe half the size of her palm. It reads Angel in scrawled chicken-scratch and nothing else.
She tucks it in the pocket above her heart.
She has learned how to make the base bone structure for all of Genji’s body at this point, and the fact she has to recreate his entire leg is worrying enough as it is. She knows he has a mission in Hanamura soon because he told her. She knows his brother is weighing on his mind. She knows that he is concerned about her. She ignores everything and instead asks him what he plans to do.
“I don’t know,” he says to her.
“There is strength in mistakes,” Angela tells him. She knows her expression is hard, focused, diamond. “Too much force, however, too many mistakes, and you will begin to break.”
Genji says nothing.
“Come with me,” he says to her once she’s rewired his leg.
“To Hanamura?” she asks.
“Yes,” he says, and then, “And further.”
He’s leaving you, too, a small part of her mind whispers, which is unfair because he was never hers to begin with, which is unfair because it’s her decision to stay where she is. “You know I can’t,” she says instead, placing her hand atop his knee. His visor is off, so she can see the steady stare of his brown eyes.
“You can,” he says. “No one would stop you.”
“I am a doctor, Genji,” she says, and it startles her to realize that she does want to leave, that she wants to leave with him and see where life would take them, but her sense of duty trumps all and she smiles, small and flinty. “I am the only one who knows how to work most of the equipment here. I cannot leave Overwatch, not now.”
“It will crumble, and you will be stranded.”
“Do not worry about me,” she says, and you like him echoes in her skull. “I will be fine. I always am.”
There’s a long moment where they merely hold each other’s gaze, his searching, hers patient and maybe a little sad. Then his hand goes up to her cheek, a gentle caress, and he says, “I will miss you greatly.”
She covers her hand with his and leans into his touch, sighing as she closes her eyes. “I will miss you too.”
She doesn’t ask him to send her notes.
She knows he will do it regardless.
Genji leaves for his mission to Hanamura and does not return. Commander Reyes is livid. Jack comes to her as Jack, not the Commander, and she sits with him and has no advice to give. They both know they are fighting a losing battle, that something has changed in Gabriel and they’re not sure what, that the U.N. is breathing down their necks and soon there will be nothing left to save.
“Take some leave, Angela,” Jack says, and because he’s her commanding officer, she does, though she makes it quite clear she’s not happy about it.
Two days into her vacation in Gruyères. Two days.
She arrives back in Geneva to find smoking ruins and two dead men, and with that, Overwatch is over.
Jesse sends her a note. It’s larger than the last one. He’d put a little sticker with a heart on it in the very center. Underneath is the Spanish word for strength. Nothing else.
It’s packed between two of her shirts, along with the first.
Genji sends her a single white lily a week later. The intern who gives it to her is bemused and then concerned when Angela reads the tag and tears up: a life is a life and all life is precious.
She doesn’t think she ever told him her medical philosophy, but she knows that no one else could possibly know. The intern is sent away, baffled, and Angela takes some time in the new hospital she works in to try not to cry.
She is lonely.
It’s nothing new.
Jack and Gabriel’s funerals are beautiful. Reinhardt delivers a stunning eulogy that leaves her an absolute mess. Torbjörn is stony and silent. Lena holds onto Angela like a lifeline and the two women are inseparable as the days march on.
Then Lena returns to England again. Reinhardt retires to Germany. Torbjörn disappears. Angela returns to the hospital in Geneva and grieves in silence, drowning herself in work. It’s all she has left, but it’s not hard, given that it’s all she’s ever known.
She hangs up the cards Jesse sends her. They’re always small, clean, minimalist in their contents. They are very Jesse. They fit perfectly within the walls of her office, and every time someone asks her who they are from, she makes up a new story.
Genji’s lily dies slowly, though he continues to send her flowers. A purple hyacinth. A yellow rose. A tulip. A snapdragon, a fuchsia, an entire bunch of hydrangea flowers. They all go into a vase, and the formula she puts in the water keeps them alive longer.
She looks at the cards and the flowers and smiles, even as her heart twists in her chest.
Jesse’s name resurfaces at some point. A string of robberies. A hit. A train heist. She knows it’s not him, but she saves the newspaper clippings because – because it’s a little funny that the media has gotten this man so utterly wrong, she guesses, and it’s a reminder of him. A picture of his face. Eyes to match to the cards he’s sent her faithfully throughout the years.
Genji’s flowers start coming with cards, too. Little tidbits of his life. A picture of a mountainous landscape. Once a note saying that not getting hurt has never been so easy, and that he hasn’t needed maintenance at all, and he’s glad because he doesn’t think anyone else besides her would do it right. She laughs at that one, hopes he’s happy, wherever he is. He deserves it, she thinks.
(You like him. It’s true, mostly.)
The hospital in Geneva flourishes, or at least, they save many more patients than they lose. Angela doesn’t ever use her Caduceus tech, though, meaning some patients die when they could have lived, and it kills her a little bit inside because a life is a life and all life is precious, but no life is worth the price of what Caduceus could do in the wrong hands. She will not risk it.
She thinks of Genji and how she had used it to save him and stops her thoughts there.
Years pass. The cards collect. The flowers are swapped out. She trains a doctor in cybernetic nerve connections. Five in as many years, she thinks, and drags her hand down her face. She still doesn’t get enough sleep, but it’s more than before, at least, and she stares down at paperwork without really seeing it, filling it out by rote memory.
When she gets home, she hears a soft beeping sound from her safe. She knows, instantly, what it is.
Unlike most agents, and even despite her misgivings, she doesn’t hesitate. She resigns from the hospital, no reason given, packs a small suitcase, takes all of Jesse’s cards and leaves Genji’s flowers in the care of the former-intern-now-doctor from her first week there, and flies to Spain.
Gibraltar is empty save for Winston and Lena when she arrives, and it’s when Winston lifts them both up in a group hug that she smiles, for real this time. It feels foreign on her face, and she thinks that’s probably not a good thing, and she listens with a strange sense of contentment as Winston and Lena chatter with her and each other as they show her to the medbay.
Jesse arrives a few days later.
She cries when she sees him, running over to him to hug him tightly. He still has the serape after all these years, the hat, too, and when he sees that she’d kept all of his cards he laughs. She isn’t embarrassed as she tacks them up all over her new office, and then he and she and Lena and Winston make an impromptu dinner in the kitchen and –
Something’s missing, she thinks. He’s missing. There are no flowers in a vase on her desk.
You like him. Still, after all of these years.
Torbjörn hasn’t changed at all. Nor has Reinhardt. She’s glad to see them, and gladder still when she finds herself smiling more. This is home, she thinks, even as she puts herself into the medbay and doesn’t leave much, cleaning up and ordering equipment and working to get the medical supplies at least somewhat stocked up. This is home. I am home.
A flower arrives for her. Jesse brings it to her office with a smirk on his face. The tag reads a frank admission of truth. The flower is a salmon-colored rose, not quite pink, not quite red.
She cusses Jesse out when he brings up how flushed her face is, and then she sulks as he laughs and then she laughs with him. Her heart is light.
You like him.
He likes you.
She’s in the medbay when he arrives. It’s no surprise to anyone, truly, when he knocks on her door and she doesn’t even look up when she says, monotone, “Come in.”
“Such a warm welcome,” he drawls as he opens the door, and then he yelps when she’s shot out of her seat and tackled in him a hug, heedless of the sharp edges of his armor. He hugs her back after a moment, crushing her against him, almost, and she laughs breathlessly in his ear as she squeezes back.
“You seem well, Genji,” she says when she pulls back and notes the relaxed posture, the open hands, the curious tilt of his head. He pulls off his visor and places it aside, and she can see him smile with his eyes.
“I am a different man now,” he tells her. “I am whole.”
“I did not kill Hanzo,” Genji says when she asks, hesitant and unsure. He meets her gaze steadily. “We fought, but I did not kill him.”
“Because he wanted me to,” Genji says, and oh, if that doesn’t explain everything.
He sees the rose on her desk and his smile widens.
They had given her mangled remains and she had coaxed a man from them. But it’s only now, she thinks, that she’s truly met Genji, and she slips her hand into his as he guides out of the medbay with a promise of tea and an introduction to his master.
Jesse catcalls them when they pass him in the hallway. Genji wastes no time to leap upon him and wrestle his hat free, grabbing Angela’s hand and dragging her forward as Jesse shouts and pursues. She’s laughing as she’s tugged along, barely keeping up with Genji’s impossibly light strides, and then all three of them sit down with Zenyatta and it’s – it’s nice, and Genji has his arm around her waist and is so enthusiastic and hopeful and she can’t stop smiling.
Genji has never gone on a combat mission with her before. She’s not sure what to expect, honestly – Jesse is with them, Reinhardt as well, a young Korean gamer named Hana who drives a mech as easily as Genji handles his blade – but she is certainly not used to having a bodyguard twenty-four seven. Often she’ll flit between person to person, dodging harm and fighting back when she has to, but instead Genji accompanies her when she flies off to help someone, protecting her easily and following her when she returns back to the payload.
“A guardian angel for the guardian Angel,” Jesse says later, and Angela laughs and Genji merely remarks that it had expedited healing, had it not? And no one has an answer to that, because he’s right.
The past haunts her, though, at the end of day. No matter how much changes, her thoughts never stray far from medicine and health and how to make things better, and she devotes herself to her craft. It’s all she’s ever known, really.
She hardly leaves the medical wing. Jesse brings it up, gently, every now and then, and she never has an answer for why she doesn’t spend time with the crew. She just shrugs. “Force of habit,” she says. “I’ll go up soon. I need to finish something.” Something that will take her all day, and eventually Jesse merely visits her once every other day and that’s enough for her.
Genji sits with her. Makes her leave, sometimes, and one day she asks him why he bothers.
She shrugs. “With me.”
His visor is off. She can see the incredulity in his gaze. She holds eye contact and waits.
“Angela,” he says after a while. She can see how carefully he chooses his words, and he says, “You saved my life.”
His rose sits on her desk. She glances back at it, and he follows her eyes when she turns her head back to look at him.
“Anyone would have done the same,” she says, and her voice is soft.
“They would not have succeeded.”
“So what?” she asks him.
“Isn’t it obvious?” he says, and it isn’t, but she’s somehow still surprised when his hands cup her cheeks and he comes close, wordlessly asking her permission before his lips touch hers.
It’s minutes later, when they’re both breathless, and he says, “You are my best friend. You know me better than anyone. You are the most interesting person I know.” His forehead presses against hers, her arms around his neck, one of his hands on her back, the other on the back of her neck, and there’s nowhere to hide. “If anything, I don’t know why you bother with me.”
She huffs on a breath, doesn’t even bother to answer that as she kisses him again. His skin bumps and curves with his scars and it’s different but entirely him.
Whenever there’s a combat mission, Genji is with her. She can’t join him on all of his missions, given he is much more stealth-oriented and needed in situations where she would be particularly vulnerable, but he joins her whenever she leaves base, and she grows accustomed to gentle touches and even, on occasion, stolen kisses. Jesse teases them relentlessly. Zenyatta, Genji’s master, comes up to later and thanks her for bringing more smiles to his student’s face. She in turn thanks him for saving Genji’s life.
It’s good, she thinks, what she has. On the roof of the base, knees folded underneath her and to the side, leaning against Genji’s shoulder as he plays with her hair. Life is precious. A frank admission of truth. You like him.
“I think I love you,” she says.
She’s not sure where it came from, and she stares at the ocean below when his head turns to look at her. His visor is in his lap, and she can feel his brown eyes on her. “Ich liebe dich,” she tries, just to see how it would sound, and it – it feels right, and she smiles down at her lap as his arm swings around so his hand rests on her waist.
“I think I love you,” Genji says to her, and then in Japanese he says the same, and she lifts her head and he meets her halfway there.