Widowmaker brought herself in from the cold, one day, exchanging a list of Talon agents for sanctuary, and at first couldn't or wouldn't say why. Her first breakthrough in explaining herself came in a talk with Lena Oxton. Now, a few days later, she is back for her daily check-in with Dr. Angela "Mercy" Ziegler, who seems to understand nothing, and she has run out of patience.
This is the fifth in a series of stories set in the It is Not Easy to Explain, She Said continuity, a timeline largely compliant with known canon as of July 2017, which is when I wrote and posted the first story. It is largely canon-compliant with what we knew pre-Doomfist/Masquerade, and is not part of the on overcoming the fear of spiders AU.
[This story is set in time just after the first story in this series, "It is not easy to explain, said the Widowmaker."]
Angela showed her patient a photograph - a candid shot, taken backstage at the ballet in Paris, the two of them with her ballet friends, everyone tired, but happy, after their season premiere in 2069.
"Do you remember that day, Amélie?"
The Widowmaker glared pointedly at Dr. Ziegler. "I am not Amélie."
The doctor nodded her head, and made a show of contrition. "Widowmaker."
The assassin kept her frown, recognising being humoured for what it was, but carried on. "I... it is not easy to explain."
"Why don't you give it your best try?"
"I have tried. Repeatedly. You do not listen."
"I have listened to every word you have said, I swear to you." She pointed at her copious notes. "And studied them deeply."
"Then you do not bother to hear," she waved dismissively at those same notes, "and I am tired of pretending you do."
Angela sighed. Lena had told her, in surprisingly emphatic terms, about their conversation in the rec room, that Widowmaker was not Amélie and she should get used to that. But... she couldn't not try to reach through to the woman she'd known. Amélie had to be in there, somewhere, she was sure of it. "But you remember so very many things from when you were her."
Widowmaker did not snarl, not at all, but instead went very, very cold. She was good at cold. "I was never her."
"You were, until Talon kidnapped you."
"I did not yet exist," Widowmaker said, impatiently. She had grown tired of this, and she knew it - even someone built for patience ran out of it eventually. Worse, she had finally been understood by someone, and the thought of it made her slow breaths almost catch in her chest because finally, finally, someone knew, someone understood, and she knew she was finished with entertaining those who simply would not see.
"But so much of what you are is your memories. Surely, you..."
"Yes," she said, crossly, "I have access to those memories. But I do not remember them. They are not my memories. They are just in my head, and I hate them."
Dr. Ziegler pressed on. "I know that Talon programmed you to revile your old life. But it is still yours. I think if we could together examine those..."
"No!" the Widowmaker shouted, now done, done walking on eggshells for these people, done being the most polite her she knew how. "Idiot!" she shouted, and stood, grabbing the smaller woman by the collar. "You cannot understand what it is to have someone else's memories in your head. I am the one who hates them. Talon did not make me hate them, they wanted me to have those memories. It was necessary for my missions. But they are not me and they are not mine, and I wish they had taken them all."
Angela gasped, and, for the first time in any of these sessions, felt genuinely frightened, and Widowmaker smiled a little, pleased at her reaction. "Good," she said, putting the medic back down. "Perhaps a little fear will break through your memories."
The Swiss woman panted, eyes still wide. "...but Amé... we..." and she stopped herself, then thought, No, now, if there is ever a chance, it is now, she'd never seen Amé, Widowmaker, so emotional, so ... alive. "Do you remember what we were..."
"I know," said the assassin, with just a little calculated unkindness in her voice. She calmed herself, partly using her own internal controls, partly using the meditative thoughts Tracer had shown her. She permitted herself to sigh, as much for effect as anything else. "I know how you felt, and I know how... she felt for you. Talon planned to use that - and me - against you again, someday."
"...you know?" said Angela, eyes wide, as close to praying as she'd ever come. Do I see you, Amélie? Please come home, please...
Widowmaker leaned forward, close, taking Angela's chin in her left hand. "I know all of it," she said, quietly. "Your first kiss, in the mountains, the scent of late snow and new pine and spring flowers. Your first time making love together, in the south of France, in the autumn heat, the tastes of strawberry preserves and bagette and cheese and wine, the intoxicating feeling of knowing you were a little too close to the next hut, knowing they might hear you, and not caring, maybe, even, hoping they would, so you could stop pretending, so everyone would know..."
Mercy gasped, and reached out to the assassin, to hold her, to touch her again after so long, "Amélie..."
Those golden eyes locked onto hers, and the spider, with no trace of warmth, and maybe even an edge of cruelty, quietly continued, "But I do not care." She dropped her hand away from Angela's chin. "She felt for you. It may have been infatuation. It may even have been love. But I do not love you."
The blue assassin folded her arms as she sat back down onto the examination table, and she looked to the side, anger and resentment clear in face and tone.
"And I hate knowing that she did."
Angela's heart, so close to hope, shattered, and she sobbed, suddenly, a wet sound filled with pain. Staggered, she fell, hard, into the examination room's chair, crying, delicately, but shaking, hoping for comfort as none came.
The spider sat quietly on the examination table, waiting, apparently patiently, apparently calmly, for the Swiss woman to compose herself. She hated diving into the dead woman's memories, and she, too, needed to collect herself, even if she hid it better than even the notoriously professional Angela Ziegler. After a few minutes, she spoke again, a cool and patient question; "Are we done for the day yet, doctor?"
Bleary-eyed from tears, Dr. Ziegler looked up, and, for the first time, saw the Talon defector, the legendary assassin named Widowmaker, the strange woman who had come in from the cold, sitting there calm and undisturbed, and knew, for the first time, in her heart, that her lover was indeed gone. Closing her eyes, she shuddered, gritting her teeth, thinking, Control yourself, doctor, she has been trying to tell you, and it is not her fault you would not listen. She took a hard, deep breath, and reopened her eyes, but could not raise them, gazing instead at the floor. "Yes, Widowmaker. I will see you again tomorrow at the usual time," she managed, her voice sounding high and distant to her, but steady.
"Thank you." The Widowmaker slipped off the examination table, took off the gown, put back on her uniform, and stepped to the door to leave.
As she touched the exit pad, she paused, just for a moment.
"If it is worth anything," the assassin said, not turning, but tilting her head just a little to the side as the door opened, "...I am honestly sorry for your loss."
"Just go," whispered the doctor, "while I have this much composure. Please."
The door closed behind the blue woman as she stepped into the hall. As it shut, she could hear Lena stepping up to the Widowmaker, hope in her voice, asking her how it went, and Angela cried again, for herself, for her lost Amélie, for what they'd had and never taken, and she cancelled her afternoon teleconference, leaving an apologetic note about nothing but apologies. Then she keyed Fareeha's comm, and her other love answered almost at once, and saw her face, and understood, and came over immediately, and held her in her arms while she cried and cried and cried.
"It is never easy to lose family," the rocketeer said, after a while, gently rocking her partner, knowing that loss all too well. "Even after so many years."
Angela buried her face against Fareeha's chest, sniffing, but not as much as before. "I mourned her when she was first lost, and yet, here I am, a complete mess. I am a fool."
Fareeha chuckled. No one really thought of her or Angela as being very emotional people, really, and no one else - if either of them could help it - would ever see either one of them like this. It was something they shared together, it was their bond. "Yes," she answered quietly, "you are. We are both secretly fools, together."
Angela cried a little more, but laughed a little, as well. "I think... I think I am feeling a little better."
The Egyptian woman petted her lover's head. "Are you sure?"
The doctor nodded, and turned to lean back against her flying angel. "I think so. I think... I've finally let go." She was rewarded with a kiss on the top of her head, and almost chuckled, holding her love's arms against her, tightly. "Just ... don't make me let you go."
"Never," said the flying agent.
The combat medic looked at the clock. "There is still time to eat, and I cancelled my entire afternoon... why don't we go in to town, for lunch?"
Fareeha smiled, and kissed her girlfriend's head again. "Why, Doctor Ziegler, are you asking me on a date?"
"I am," she sniffed.
"Well, Doctor," said the rocketeer, hugging her girlfriend tightly, "It would be my pleasure. Shall we?"
"Yes," Angela said, dabbing away her tears, ready to stand up again, ready to be somewhere, anywhere else. She took a deep breath, and put on a smile she at least partly felt. "Let us go."