Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,
Solarbird
solarbird

Old Soldiers, Chapter 13: feeding the spiders

AO3 link


"Good girl," Amélie cooed to Ourson, her little black tarantula, a surprise gift from Lena the previous Christmas. "Back into your habitat. I will give you two crickets, one at a time."

She'd spent an hour cleaning Ourson's tank, replacing the soil, cleaning the little shelters where the spider liked to hide, scrubbing the shallow water dish, making sure the spider-safe plants were healthy in their hidden pots. The curlyhair didn't really need, or care, about the plants - but Amélie liked how it made the enclosure look more real, more like the Costa Rica from which the species originally came.

"I think you will be moulting soon," Widowmaker said, quietly, more to herself than to Ourson, who surely knew the truth of it better than her keeper. "I should make sure you are happy before you begin." The large spider did not need very much care, really - as pets go, Lena picked a nicely low-maintenance animal - and Amélie did more than really necessary, and enjoyed it.

"Go on," Widowmaker said, prompting the spider to the ground. It took a moment, but Ourson figured out that this was her home, and stepped lightly onto the new bedding. A moment later, and then there was a cricket, and she pounced, frighteningly quick, surrounding it with her legs and stinging, venom paralysing her prey in moments. Amélie cooed again, "oh, you were very hungry, weren't you? Well, there will be another once you are finished with the first."

When she was very young, Amélie had a fear of spiders, which she now found a little embarrassing, and more than a little ironic. But that was long ago, before she knew herself how to sting.

"Amélie!" shouted Lena, bursting in from the landing pad's exit corridor. "I'm home!"

The Widowmaker replaced the habitat's lid and turned to her lover, smiling the broad smile reserved only for her, and spread her arms wide. "Come to me, cherie!" The two women collided and spun around in the common room that they'd started thinking of a little bit as the family room, which is fairly silly for a Talon base, but not untrue despite it. "I am so happy to see you again." She leaned back and looked into Venom's brown eyes. "I see you've been dropping the sniper kit - have you checked in with Dr. Mariani yet?"

"Nah," said the junior assassin, "I wanted to see you, first." She kissed her wife, gently. "I've missed you so much. Overwatch is wretched. Please tell me we have a mission this week, I want somethin' to go right."

The spider chucked. "Oh, no, I'm so sorry." She returned Venom's kiss, and pet her head gently, running her fingers through that mop of hair. "A mission - pleasantly, we do, and it should be stimulating. I was saving that news for tomorrow, but... what happened?"

"Lemmie get checked out by th' doc first," said the occasional sniper. "It's a long story."

-----

"You're doing well," said the Sicilian doctor, from behind her scanner console. "Could you shift your eyes the rest of the way back, please?"

"'Course, doc." Lena pushed the last of the gold out of her iris. "How's that?"

"Very good. Dilate your pupils, let me check the cornea? Thank you." The doctor had Venom look across eight compass points as small white lights danced around Lena's vision. "All very good. No visual centre confusion around the lack of blind spots?"

"Nothin' I've" - she chuckled - "...seen..."

Dr. Mariani smiled. "Yes, yes, your jokes are terrible. But your eyes are not. Shift dilation back to baseline? Thank you. Yes, everything looks very good."

Venom blinked a bit - shifting her iris felt like nothing, but somehow, dilating and undilating her pupils still felt just weird.

"Well, this is all, ah, very healthy," she said. "There is one thing, but - do not worry, this is not a health question, you are fine. Did you use your chronal accelerator as Mockingbird?"

"Yeaaaaaaah," said the assassin, stretching the "a" sound. "Sorry. I knew it might mess up your data collection, but when Angie pulled that little demonstration of hers, I just... wasn't ready for it. I teleported across the room."

"I thought so. Quite understandable, from what you described." She smiled wistfully. "I wish I could've seen it myself."

"Some of the data got messed up?"

"Eh, there is a... very small bias shift. I can, ah, compensate, yes. It is probably from the slipstream - unless you happened to be near a powerful antineutron entanglement array at some point."

"Wot's that then?"

"A big hummy thing, might make you tingle."

Lena laughed. "Amélie didn't go with me on this one, doc."

The doctor smirked. "I didn't think so. But I understand, your ambassador friend, he is a scientist, yes? He might have one."

"Might do. Want me to ask him?"

"Eh," she waved her hands, "it is not important. I will remember it can happen." She closed the padd and shut off the scanner. "Your blood chemistry is perfect, your metabolic tests are exactly on track - you'll feel warm for a little while, like usual, eh? And hungry in, ah, probably a few hours. Drink extra water until you feel the hunger. Good?"

"Yes'm. And... thanks for comin' out on such short notice."

"It is no problem, I want these readings for my own work, you know. Thank you for letting me take them." She backed away from the examination table and motioned to the door. "Now, shoo, get out of here - I want to make the last ferry home."

"Roger that. Thanks, doc!"

-----

Venom fanned herself as she sat on the couch, back up to her normal temperature, and feeling it. "Terrible, yeh?"

Widowmaker - sitting across the low driftwood-grey coffee table, apart from her wife until she fully recovered - frowned, and shook her head. "I do not know where even to begin." She cast about, and picked one topic of the many. "I would not think one of Gabriel's plans would be so fragile. I know that no plan fully survives first contact with the enemy, but still."

Lena nodded, and drank from her rather tall glass of water. "It's not all his fault. The intelligence wasn't accurate, and those weren't ordinary Los Muertos street rats, but t'be honest - we were sloppy. And y'can't be sloppy like that."

"I hope you, at least, hit your shots," the elder sniper said with sardonic amusement.

The younger assassin snickered. "'Course I did, luv."

"So now, it is our turn?"

"Nope. I've agreed to give 'em another shot."

"When you voted against even the first?" She gave her wife a thoughtful look. "I am surprised."

Venom frowned. "I... I didn't want to. I moved to hand it over, in fact. But..." She ran her hand through her hair. "Y'shoulda heard Mei. You'd understand if y'did. Her whole team got left to die in Antarctica..." She shivered. "I'm not the only one who wants t'see him pay. She just wants it done all out in the open."

The spider hummed, and sipped at her afternoon glass of wine. An Italian table wine, a bit sweet, but not so far as a dessert wine, with hints of almost apricot. "Public justice, courtroom justice - but there is no small amount of revenge to that, as well."

"I dunno?" Lena said, sipping again from her water. "Mei..." She looked over at her wife with half a smile, not sure how to put together the words, realised she was trying to say two things at once, and picked one. "She's not like that. She reminds me of... who I used t'be, y'know? I used to believe in all that a lot more than I do now - and I don't want to be the one to take it from her."

Amélie gave her a knowing look across the top of her wineglass. "You know the only justice he'll face is whatever we deliver ourselves."

"Oh, yah, I know." Lena leaned back against the couch. "If I thought tryin' him would do any good, I'd maybe have different ideas - no matter how much I hate him. But they'll rehabilitate that bastard in nothin' flat. You and I both know it. People like him never get what's comin' to them."

The spider smiled. "Which makes this exactly the sort of job you like us to take on."

"Not so sure of that, either. You haven't seen the video yet. Lemmie show you."

She replayed the Amari video, highlighting the key points, and then her own, more recent video, showing the identical outcomes. "We'll need Angie's help to take him down - keep him from doin' this trick - and even she doesn't know how to make that happen yet. Figurin' it out's gonna be hard work. I don't think she'd do it to help us kill him - but for Overwatch, for a capture? She'll sort it in a week."

Widowmaker frowned. "That is indeed a complication. But I can't imagine even the best nanosurgeons could restore an adequately pureed brain, and I have some delightfully messy rounds."

Venom's grin returned, this time properly wicked. "Maybe. I like the idea. But I'd rather not risk it - you didn't see her revival demonstration." She frowned, and maybe even shuddered a little. "That was scary, and I know from scary. If he can do that..." She shook her head, and put it out of her mind. Why ask for trouble?

"It sounds to me like we should get her and Doctor Mariani together sooner, rather than later." She pointed with her wineglass in the direction of the base's medical laboratory. "Even if it's not on our preferred terms."

Tracer took another sip of her water. "I did get her to admit she's not ageing."

Amélie hummed, a little pleased sound. "So, at least, that much was accomplished."

"Yeh. Baby steps."

"So. The plan is that we let Overwatch fail again..."

"I'm gonna do my level best to help 'em succeed. I have to. But yeah, assuming..."

"...then we know how to kill him. But if we're wrong, and they take him into custody? Can you live with that?"

"Then..." the junior assassin scowled. "Then... I suck it up. Overwatch hands him over to the ICC, they score big political points, which'll help keep PETRAS act pressure down to a simmer. He gets off light - least, for a while, 'till he's out of the news." She smiled a very hungry smile, "And then, when everyone's forgot him again, we take him out for good. On the quiet. Everybody wins."

Widowmaker smiled. "Ah - the best of both worlds. Finesse, across time."

"I can in fact time-travel, love." She took another big draw of water, and felt her stomach shift. "Oooh, there we go. There's the ol' appetite. I am peckish. Feel like dinner?"

"I thought you would never ask."

Also posted to ソ-ラ-バ-ド-のおん; comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth. Please comment there.

Tags: also on ao3, angela ziegler, geanna mariani, old soldiers, overwatch, overwatch au, tracemaker, tracermaker, venom, widowmaker, widowtracer
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