Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,

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Old Soldiers, Chapter 17: do not hold any of it back

I'm writing this thing and even I'm being surprised at how much Pharmacy milage is in this chapter.

[AO3 link]

Fareeha read the letter again, face grim, shaking a little, enraged. How dare she. How dare she?!

"Angela! Come here, please!" she called into the other room. This will have to go to all of Overwatch, but... she should know, first.

"Fareeha? Are you all right? You sound..." Her wife leaned around the doorframe and saw that, in fact, her wife was tightly, rigidly angry. "Oh, no. What is it, liebchen?"

"Come here, and hold me, while you read this."

Angela stepped quickly forward to the flying agent's chair and wrapped her arms around her neck, reading over her shoulder. "...I... I... this has to go to the entire team."

"I know. I wanted you to see it first."

"Do not hold any of it back, send it unedited."

"That is not why." The Egyptian turned in her chair to face her wife. "I've decided. I will do it. I want to do it, now. How long will it take to prepare a set of nanites for me?"

Angela gasped, and covered her mouth with her left hand, her heart leaping, and she stepped half a step back, then threw herself around her wife, holding her tight, so tight, so unready for that declaration. "I... That is not the reaction I..."

Fareeha held her wife gently, pulling her head against her strong shoulders, her eyes closed, brushing her fingers through her wife's hair. "I know."

"But... why? I am..." The doctor took a long, deep breath, and pulled back. "I... have committed a serious ethical lapse - it was not my first - and ... I have wanted this for too long. I, I have to be sure. I have to know. You are not doing this just to spite your mother?"

Fareeha laughed, a little bitterly. "No."

"Have I put pressure on you? Have I been..."

Fareeha chuckled and smiled. "No."

"Then... why? Why now?"

Her wife grew quite sombre, quite quickly. "I..." She pursed her lips and looked at the floor, and did not speak for a moment, and then not for another moment, and not for another moment after that. She covered her eyes with her hands, then covered her entire face, sliding her palms slowly down, collecting her thoughts. Softly, looking up, but to the distance, she began, "I was always taught life had phases, and that it mattered to go through all of them." She bit her lip. "That they all have a purpose. That everything has a time, and a place, and that all the phases of life are equally valuable, in different ways. Part of that is... that age brings wisdom."

"I do not disagree," said her wife, softly.

"Mother - Ana - believed in that, particularly. That the wisdom of age is important to humanity. That there is value - and knowledge - in understanding the decay of time, in understanding" - she looked at her own strong arms, and her own strong hands - "that this does not endure."

Angela Ziegler nodded, and her expression subtly changed, as her thoughts raced ahead of her wife's speech.

"I have lived long enough to understand that, at least, a little. But - if she... if this is what she calls wisdom..." She glared back to the screen, with its softly glowing text, anger in her eyes. "This is not wisdom, it is insanity." Her gaze whipped back to her wife, and she looked deep into her eyes. "Is this what awaits me in old age? This... paranoia? This capriciousness? This... madness? I will have no part of it. I beg you to save me from this."

Angela met her wife's sight, falling into the dark pools of her eyes, reaching across to her wife, touching her cheek and chin and hair. "I have wanted nothing more in my life." She closed her own eyes, for a moment, and opened them again. "But ... I have to do this correctly."

"Whatever this is," she gestured to the text on the display, "it is not genetic. If it is environmental, it is not in you. You carry nothing that makes this inevitable, or even likely. I do not know what has happened to your mother, but ... I do not think, not even for a moment, that you would share her fate."

Fareeha nodded. "Good." Slowly, she looked down again, contemplating Angela's declaration carefully for seconds, then for a minute, then for another, before looking back up. "But it doesn't change my decision. The only reason - the only true reason - I have said no, is my belief in what she taught me." She reached over, and touched the display, with its texts, with its threat. "I no longer have good cause to think it has value."

"I'm sorry," said her wife. "I'm so sorry."

"I'm not," said her lover. "Illusions do not suit me." She shrugged. "Besides, it's not like you can't turn the nanites off."

"No," acknowledged the doctor. "But they will begin repairs immediately. You will lose your scars, over a period of weeks. They are part of your life, your experience, and they will fade completely, over time."

The younger soldier nodded. "They are mostly hidden, anyway."

"Not from me," smiled the doctor. "I treasure them, as they are a part of you."

The flying officer snorted. "They hurt in rainy weather, you know that. They bother me every time we visit my father. This one, in particular," she pointed to the left side of her ribcage, "I will be most glad to see this one gone."

"You will look younger. Not very much, but somewhat. Overwatch ignores it, in me - but they may not, in a field soldier. In you."

"I will demonstrate to them that I do not care what they think."

"Then you are absolutely sure?"

"Yes," she said, mind clearly made up. "I have no idea what it takes to start the process. If I could take the first dose, receive the first infusion, whatever the procedure might be - if I could do it right now, this very instant, I would."

"You're sure."


"Right now."


Angela laughed, just a little - "I have been waiting to do this for so long..." - and sat in her wife's lap, and kissed her, breathlessly, tightly, hard. Her lips tingled against her wife's, like electrics, but without the shock, and Fareeha felt her pulse quicken, and it felt to the rocketeer almost as if their hearts were moving into sync as the electrics moved across her skin, and her eyes widened as the low, persistent, ignored ache in her left shoulder faded, and she realised... Now. And she pulled her wife against her, harder, and they kissed until neither could avoid breaking away for a breath, as hard as they fought against it, and so they broke away, both panting, both shaking, just a little.

"That... was not what I expected... in a nanite delivery system." She laughed, in little huffs, feeling somehow light, somehow bubbly, all over. "But I approve of it."

Her wife took a deep breath, giggling throughout, no, more than that, but she did not have words for the kind of burbling elation running through her mind. "I," she laughed, "I thought it would be a gift on our honeymoon, but I've kept it to myself until you were ready... I am so happy... but... how do you feel?"

The Egyptian laughed, and pulled her wife back against her body. "I feel, doctor, like I need another dose."

Angela grinned broadly, eyes alight like stars. "You don't, but - isn't it convenient I just happen to have one ready?" She leaned in, and they kissed again, 'till nothing else mattered at all.

Two hours later, Fareeha forwarded Ana's message to the rest of Overwatch, flagged "Mission Critical - Urgent," recommending most strongly that regular Embassy staff be warned, that Swiss and UN authorities be notified, and that Athena step up security on all exterior access points. "If Ana Amari has decided to play it like this," she said, in her forward, "we need to take her seriously. I will do what I can to talk her back to sensibility, but this is a threat, and it should be treated as such. And so, unfortunately, should she."


Venom ignored her mail. Venom often ignored her mail, particularly her Overwatch mail, when she wasn't at Overwatch, when she wasn't playing Tracer. Venom liked not being in charge - despite being on Talon's executive council - and while at Overwatch, if push came to shove, she was in charge, and she knew it. But she couldn't keep ignoring Winston forever, no matter how much she didn't feel like talking to him, and so, eventually, she didn't.

The assassin hit [Acknowledge Signal] on her padd, and jumped in first, saying, "Fine," exasperation in her voice. "I'm here. First things first tho', did Angela tell you..."

"Check your mail. Right now. I'll wait."

Lena glared, angry again. "No. First. Did Angela tell you what happened?"

"Yes," said the scientist, "We know. The whole team. We know all of it, I'm pretty sure. She offered her resignation, I refused to accept it. Lena, check your mail right now. It's important."

Lena looked sideways at Winston, anger in her eyes, but pulled up her Overwatch mail in another window. "That's quite the thread you've... got..." She blinked. "...oh."

The scientist nodded. "That's why I haven't been letting you cool down. I'm sorry, but you can see why."

"Wow," said the Talon assassin. "This is bad." She read Ana's mail - and Fareeha's commentary and recommendations - again. Or maybe, she thought to herself, it's good. Maybe now they'll just step aside. She looked back towards Winston. "Do you know what this means?"

"Fareeha is trying to talk to her. No luck so far, but she's still trying."

"Do you know what this means? Winston, I need to know."

"...yes. I do."

"Good." She sighed and shook her head. "I tried, luv. I really did. I could've solved this weeks ago. But I was nice, and I played it your way... and look where it's got us."

"We don't know that. And I don't like your way of handling these things. I'll never like it, and I'll never not prefer our way, and I'll never stop insisting we get first shot, when it's our jurisdiction. But..." he looked down and to his left. "You had a right to know about this mail. Even if I knew how you'd react. Even if I knew what you'd do."

You made sure I was informed, the assassin realised. You didn't delete the mail. You even called my attention to it. She breathed. Bloody hell, this has to be hard on you.

Lena's face softened a little, and she smiled a sad smile. "Thanks, big guy." She closed her eyes. "I need to talk to Angela - using my codes. I'll drop a new set of keys in the usual place; she'll need access to that drop, or you'll need to ferry the files." She looked back at her old friend. "Will you do that for me?"

The ambassador nodded, deciding not to ask why. "I will."

"I'm sorry."

"No, you're not. You're glad you've got a reason."

Venom snorted. "Fair cop. I really am sorry, though. Not for what we're gonna do, but for how hard it is on ya."

"This is not the first time I've had to be a little complicit... but it may be the most difficult."

Lena nodded. "I didn't want..." Damn you, Morrison - do you have to destroy everything you touch? "I didn't want to put you in that position again. That's all."

"Look, Lena," said the scientist. "Just don't go out of your way. Not with Ana. I know what Jack's done, that's one thing, but Ana..." he said miserably, "Do what you have to, just... don't be extra about it. Can you at least do that for me, if not for Fareeha? Please?"

The Talon agent thought about it, hard. If we can get the video, if we can get that damned gun of hers before she hands off imagery... then she's just another batty old conspiracy theorist who doesn't make any sense. And we don't risk losing Pharah. She gave Winston a dubious look - the most dubious of looks - and set her upper lip, but nodded, just a little. "I'll try. No promises."

"None expected," he said, knowing it was the best he'd get.

She pressed a few buttons on her padd. "I've dropped new codes for Angela. You'll relay 'em?"

"She'll have them in a few minutes."

"Thanks, big guy. For all of it, but... particularly for not trying to hide this from me."

"These were colleagues of mine once, Lena. Yours, as well. Don't make me regret this any more than I already do. Please."

"Gloves off, luv. We're gonna do what's needed." She shook her head, and tapped the tabletop in front of her. "But I'll do my best t' keep it to that."

"Thank you."

"Thank me when it's over - if y'still want to. Y'may not. But right now..." She put her hands on the table. "I need to debrief my team."

"Good luck," Winston said, "...I think."

Lena smiled, ruefully. "Best I'll get?"

"Best I've got to give. Winston out."

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Tags: also on ao3, angela ziegler, fareeha amari, lena "venom" oxton, old soldiers, overwatch, overwatch au, talon!tracer, venom, winston
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