This chapter is worksafe, with the possible exception of some moderately strong language. [AO3 link]
Lena Oxton bolted upright in her bed, leapt vertically, and jinked across the room. Where am I?! She grabbed at her chest, missing the weight of her accelerator, pawing at herself, terrified until she slowly realised that she wasn't slipping out of time - she'd teleported, without even thinking.
Looking over next to a closed door, she saw her accelerator - or a smaller, thinner version - resting on a charging station not unlike her own. What the bleedin' hell...? How'd I do that? Is this a Slipstream world?
Looking down, she realised she was in front of a window, dozens of stories above the ground, and standing on a dresser. She stomped at the piece of furniture - quite solid, quite real. Looking back at the bed from which she'd leapt, she realised, suddenly, Widowmaker?! as the assassin sat up, blinking, looking over to Lena, confused, then remembering, looking around, afraid... and then, less so, as she saw the Kiss, unloaded, but quite intact, by the nightstand next to their bed. She grabbed her, reassured herself with her presence, and placed her back down, nearby.
"Looks like we've got first class accommodations," Lena said, quietly. "And they were kind enough to keep your counterpart close. Thanks, invisible room monitor." She walked quickly over to Widowmaker, leaning her head against her lover's, whispering, "Do you remember anything after my apartment? I don't." "No," the defector replied, just as quietly. "But clearly, time has passed. Your eyes are..." she looked closely, to be sure, "...copper. They are beautiful, but they are new."
Lena paled as the room's door opened, and Oilliphéist came rushing in. "You're awake! Finally!" She wrapped herself around her lover, who found it took everything in her to push her back away. "You lied to me!" Widowmaker shouted.
"No! Yes! A little!" replied Oilliphéist, standing off, giving her counterpart her space. "It was horrible, and I hated it - I didn't want to, but I had to get you home! But that's the only thing I lied about, and Moira's agreed I'll never have to do it again."
"What's she done to us?" demanded Tracer.
"Nothing! Well, nothing much. Why, do you think I should?" interjected Dr. O'Deorain, as she stepped into the room, following Emily by some seconds.
"You call this nothing?!" Lena pointed at her eyes and snarled at the infamous doctor, a spike of instant loathing for her running across her body.
The doctor laughed. "Nothing psychological. Yes, I... fixed a few things for you, while you were here. I was, after all, an Overwatch medical officer, and you are a member of Overwatch, and I am, still, a doctor. You'll like it, once you know. Here, see?"
She reached over, and turned off Lena's chronal accelerator. Lena shrieked, and failed to teleport, but did back quite quickly into the wall behind her, which remained as substantial as ever.
"I thought you might appreciate a little insurance against incidents like the one in Numbani last year."
Lena reached around her, touching the wall, the bed, the wardrobe - all still entirely solid. "...how?"
"The anchor core was separable, and easily powered. It's part of you, now."
"...you implanted it?" She didn't trust it, or any part of it. Get it out, get it out, get it out...
"It runs off your own glucose - a far better solution, I think you'll agree, than before. You'll need to eat more, but not too unreasonably more, and you'll still need the vest for teleporting and time jumps. But you no longer need to be wearing it for that, and you'll get more jumps per charge."
"Yeh - I'll believe that when Winston verifies it, and not before. How'd you make room... inside me?" She shuddered at the thought.
"Easily enough done. Your lungs are slightly smaller, but vastly more efficient; you've come out ahead, I assure you. But let's skip the Q-and-A, shall we?"
She held up a hand, and started counting on long, long fingernails. "Thanks to all the head trauma you've suffered, your retinas were going to disintegrate well before you turned 40. Now, they won't." A second finger. "While I was in there, I got rid of your blind spots. Also," a third finger, "you'll see better in both darkness and extreme light." A fourth; "And, I have this wonderful new technique for improving nerve conductivity, so I threw that in as a bonus. You're even quicker, now, and more dextrous." She flipped her hands open, palms up, and took a little bow. "You're welcome."
Lena just stared at the doctor, the fear in her mind rising as the list grew. "Bleedin'... anything else?"
"Welcome to Oasis?"
The Overwatch agent glared in silence, trying not to shake.
Through all of this, Widowmaker had been inventorying her mind. She didn't feel reconstrained, but she knew from previous conditioning that she never did - she always felt like herself. She looked over to Oilliphéist, who still looked so beautiful, so perfect, and to Tracer, who still looked so perfectly annoying, so perfectly foolish, and yet, so perfectly... wonderful. If nothing else, she has let me keep this, she thought.
"And me, docteur?"
Dr. O'Deorain gave her an exasperated look. "My niece would barely let me touch you. You can't ghost, like she can, which is a bit of a shame. But she did at least allow me the nerve conductivity - you're now her equal in speed, though neither of you can keep up with your diminutive... friend... here."
I'll never trust my quickness again, thought Tracer, enraged. Fuck. Fuck you, doc. Fuck you.
Emily walked back over to Widowmaker, and knelt beside her on the floor, by the bed. "I'm really sorry she made me lie to you. But she swore she wouldn't touch you, not the real you, not your mind, not ever again, and I've stayed awake the whole time, making sure." She reached up, offering her hand. "Forgive me?"
Widowmaker hesitated, then took Oilliphéist's hand, and nodded, once. "Oh, god, I've missed you," the newer creation repeated. "It's so good that you're home." And Widowmaker smiled, relaxing, resting her head against Emily's and running her hands through her beloved's hair. "It's... so lovely to be with you again," she whispered. I wish we could do an associations check, she thought, but that is not a tool we should reveal here...
"How long we been out, luv?" Lena asked Emily, kindly, a little touched at the scene, despite herself.
"A little over a week," the once ginger replied, sleepily. "I've been watching over you both, worrying, night and day. I really need a nap."
"Why don't you take one, dear," said the doctor. "I owe our guests an explanation, and I do have a proposal to make."
Emily crawled into bed next to Widowmaker and held her, so tightly, and this time, Widowmaker didn't push her away, and didn't even want to. She smells so nice, she thought, sliding aside and off the bed as Emily curled up to sleep. And she feels so wonderful. But then... she always did.
"I imagine you're both hungry. Lunch?"
"No," said Tracer, as her stomach growled. "Well... maybe."
They were both back in their "guest room," Oilliphéist still asleep, the two of them at a small round table with four chairs, surrounded by windows overlooking the city. Tracer had turned her accelerator back on at first opportunity, not taking any chances.
Widowmaker nodded. "He has - or, at least, a few weeks ago, had - every intent of doing exactly that. All my most recent orders had involved helping him consolidate his power - I made a particularly lovely shot to kill a rather... more pedestrian... member of council, interested only in money, and not politics. A common criminal, risen far above his level, but at least he died beautifully."
"Killing Mondatta was part of the war effort, wasn't he." It wasn't a question, and Widowmaker did not treat it as one.
Lena snarled, but considered the repercussions. "Seems t'me this kind of infighting must really weaken Talon. It happen often?"
The assassin smirked, wryly. "How do you think Akande went to jail?"
The door to the guest room opened again, and Moira appeared, with afternoon tea. Lena glared at the minister, who smiled in return. "Checking on my information? Good - that's only the proper thing to do. Tea?"
"No. Well... what kind?"
"A nice tippy assam, I find it good in hot weather. I'll go ahead and be mother, it seems only fitting," said the doctor, as she sat down and began pouring cups for the table. "And yes," she tilted her head just a little to Lena, "we'll share the same pot. We can even swap cups if you'd like."
"I insist," said Lena, after the cups had been poured.
Moira waved at the tea set, and smiled a tiny smile. "At your pleasure."
"You did it," Widowmaker said to Moira, as Lena swapped cups around. "She's... wondrous."
Dr. O'Deorain smiled the least-ungenuine smile Tracer had yet seen her manage. "She is. I always backed her petitions for enhancement. I have no idea why the rest of the board was so hesitant." She added just a hint of sugar to her tea, and took a careful sip.
"What else did you do to her?" demanded the senior assassin.
"Other than the obvious?" she laughed. "Very little. There were reasons she was the template, after all." She looked over to her niece, still asleep in bed. "She is more mission-focused, now. If it makes you feel better about what happened, I'm certain that's the only reason she was able to lie to you about the meeting. She even fought me on it. Honestly, I was surprised."
"She wasn't always floatin' about in a little cloud of euphoria, was she?" Lena asked. "Doesn't seem your type, love."
"No. That is also new," replied the Frenchwoman.
"And not my doing. I gave her everything she wanted, everything she'd ever dreamed, and it all actually worked just like she'd always hoped. What did you expect, depression?" Tracer glared, but Widowmaker laughed, just a little. "But... as you have demonstrated, the mind has a way of rebalancing itself to a kind of neutrality over time, and I've enabled her to avoid that fate, if she chooses. You can hardly blame me for wanting to see my niece be happy, can you?"
"Mate, I could blame you for saving an orphan from a runaway lorry."
The doctor laughed. "I can't blame you for that, right now. But I do hope that over time you'll forgive me this little incident. I couldn't exactly ring you up for a teleconference, could I? Not with what you know."
The minister put her tea back down, and leaned forward. "Look, I'll be direct. Akande is a danger to the entire world, and needs to be stopped. I do not have the political power within Talon to do it, which means it is time for a short, vicious, but small war, to prevent a long, disastrous, and genocidal war. I intended to go into it with myself and my two most brilliant creations, but I would prefer to go into it with you on my side, as well, and with Overwatch specifically deciding to keep its distance. If we lose - no loss for you and yours, it's all on us, and no "heroes" are implicated. But if we win... everyone wins."
"I don't believe you, mate," glared the teleporter, putting sugar and milk into her tea. "Somethin' else is goin' on."
"Something else is always going on," the doctor agreed, picking up her teacup. "Akande is shorting my budget within Talon, and it is affecting my work. Nothing matters more than that - nothing - and I will not stand for it. Renewed Omnic incursions would absolutely target this city, and, therefore, my facilities and experiments, and I will not have that, either. The chaos would set my research back years." She sipped her tea. "There. Is that selfish enough for you? I do not pretend to be otherwise."
"What's this 'small war' involve?" She almost growled the question. Bloody hell, you irritate me, she thought. No wonder Ziegler doesn't like you.
"Widowmaker will be familiar with kind of actions needed - distance assassinations, close-up killings, some theft, some intelligence gathering for blackmail, all the nasty covert games Overwatch pretends to hate, but did so very much of the first time around." She placed her cup back in its saucer, and added a little more tea. "This time, Overwatch wouldn't have to be involved, not directly. But you... you'd make a lovely addition to our little task force, and with your personal involvement with my two favourites, you can see why I had to ask."
"I'm not agreein' to anything," Lena said. "Not here, not like this." She sipped from her teacup, and looked down at it. Huh. A bit light for my tastes, but... not bad.
"You're free to leave, you do realise that?" asked the minister.
"Am I? Really?"
"Then where're my pistols?"
"Did you check the dresser?"
"Absolutely," the doctor said, adding just a little more tea to her cup.
As Lena arose to check the dresser - where her guns and wrist braces had been neatly put away in the top drawer - Emily stirred, muttering, "...pistols?" She sat up, blinking. "Pistols? Oh! Yes! Pistols! Lena, I have presents for you!"
"...wot?" replied the teleporter. "You..."
"Your old pistols are terrible! " She smiled, and shook her head ruefully. "Awful balance, erratic kick - how did you ever hit anything? " The armourer yawned, broadly, and stretched.
"Emily, you should get some more sleep. You've been up for days."
"I know, but..."
"You can give her your presents in the morning, dear. That's an order."
Emily muttered, and rolled back over, wrapping her arms around her pillow. "Fine..." she said, and closed her eyes.
Lena had snapped on her wrist holsters, and popped her pistols free, spinning them in her hands. Loaded, she thought, more than a little surprised. She pointed them straight at Moira's face. "So I can leave whenever I want, then?"
"Yes. But I wouldn't recommend shooting me first. Assassination of a government minister is frowned upon, here in Oasis."
Tracer flipped back her pistols. "Leave... alone, abandoning Wids here to be monkeywrenched? Not hardly, mate."
"You too," she said, turning to the former Talon assassin, waving her right hand airily. "At any time."
"And Emily?" asked the assassin.
"She should stay, at least a few more days - I'm not sure you remember this, Widowmaker, but the first months after your upgrades, you required extensive adjustments and maintenance, so that..."
"I remember," said the senior assassin, abruptly. "It was... extraordinarily painful."
"I learned a great deal from creating you," said the doctor. "It will not be so, for her. And less will be required." She sighed. "I'd've done it already, except she refused to sleep."
"Then," Widowmaker said, "we will have to wait, until that is finished. And I will watch you, every single moment, while you work on her, and if you do anything - anything - to her mind..."
"Bullets?" offered the doctor. "I know she's empty," she said, gesturing to Widowmaker's rifle. "Here." She reached into her jacket and pulled out a standard set of sniper rounds. "Just stay out of my way, while I work. You know how much I hate interference."
Widowmaker nodded, and took the rounds, inspected them, validating them as real, and loaded the Kiss. "Lena?"
"I don't like it, but - I'm not leaving without you, and I'm not gonna ask you to abandon her."
The assassin reached out, squeezing the teleporter's hand tightly. "Thank you."
"I take it, then," said the Irish doctor, "we're all in agreement?"
Lena nodded briefly, and the Widowmaker echoed her, a moment later, more slowly.
"We are agreed."