This chapter is worksafe. [AO3 link]
Angela Ziegler looked over the boxed-up contents of her laboratory, everything safely put away, new access codes on the doors and cases. The last round of prepared auto-aid kits - capable of handling most of the sorts of injuries an Overwatch agent was likely to encounter in the field - were neatly stacked on the cart outside her office, ready for transport up the elevator and across to the Lunar embassy.
She picked up her bag and backpack, and grasped the cart's handle, making her way to the elevator, then up, to the courtyard, where Fareeha and Winston waited for her, at the line marking the boundary between Swiss and Lunar territories.
"One last time, Angela," the scientist said, "Are you sure about this?"
The doctor nodded, firmly. "I care about this project as much as you do, Winston. We are needed, and... we need her. If this is what is necessary to repair the damage I caused, so be it."
"Then... thank you. And good luck." The ambassador took the cart from his friend, and wheeled it aside, well into Lunar territory.
"You look very much like you need a hug. I know I do," Fareeha said.
"Yes, I do. But - think of it as just another mission. We have been apart before."
"Not like this."
"It's just Lena, liebchen. She's not so frightening as all that."
"But it's not just her. It's all of Talon, and you are going into the heart of it."
"I know. But I should not be gone for so very long." The two embraced, kissing both fiercely and tenderly, before Angela broke away and stepped back to the Swiss side of the line. "They want no one else in the courtyard, so..."
"Come back to me," said the rocketeer, as she stepped back, into the Lunar Embassy's entryway.
The courtyard now clear, the doctor pulled a violet hexagonal device from her bag, and placed it on the ground in front of her. "The beacon comes in two parts. I don't know why, but I know they will respond quickly," she said quietly, knowing her wife could still hear her nonetheless. Then, from a small, round, metal box, she extracted a smaller, round, black device, clicked its power cell into place, and depressed the top button until it beeped, twice. "That's all there is to it." She looked up, looking for a ship. "See you when I see..."
And then she vanished.
Gabriel almost let himself laugh a bit. "Talon has a top-level software and hardware hacker - I don't know her real name, but she's head of the Sombra collective, the one behind that hacking spree last year. That teleporter trick has to be her work."
Hana flipped the image showing Angela's disappearance onto her personal padd, examining it curiously, as Winston said, "An extraordinarily powerful tool, regardless."
"I wasn't worried," said Fareeha. "Not any more than I already had been. If Talon had wanted to kill her for what she did, they'd've already done it." Or, she thought, at least, tried. "They wouldn't hide behind special effects."
Winston shook his head, no. "I wouldn't've cooperated - ever - if I was afraid of anything like that. Widowmaker is very strange, in some ways, but she is also very rational." And still Amélie, he thought, but could not say. "There are confidences I'm keeping, but it comes down to one thing: they trusted us, and we blew it, and now we have to trust them."
Fareeha nodded in agreement. "Exactly."
"So what are you worried about, Ree?" asked Gabriel.
The rocketeer's expression grew sober. "I worry about... what Angela might decide she needs to do."
"Yes," she heard the unnamed woman reply, the one who had blindfolded her, the one with the Talon patch on her shoulder. "The way forward is flat. Follow my lead and the direction of my voice, please."
The doctor stepped carefully along a hard-surfaced walkway. It sounded like concrete, but could've been stone, or anything like it, really. She heard the sounds of seagulls, nearby, and sandpipers, in the distance. "When may I remove the blindfold?" she asked, nervously, when she suddenly felt the sun fall away from her skin with a last pair of steps, and she stopped, at a half-height metal gate. Behind her, she heard a door close.
"Now," said the pilot. "Here, I'll do it," and she removed the cloth.
After the blindfold, even the inside seemed bright, bright like midday. Behind her, a grey metal door sat framed in a small concrete entry leading back, presumably, to the aircraft. Directly before her, the gate, unlocked. And ahead, a stairwell down.
"Don't worry," said the pilot, "it's quite safe. Please proceed."
Through concealed camera feeds, Venom and Widowmaker watched Dr. Ziegler walk down the cement stairs. Everything was being recorded, of course. Perhaps they couldn't entirely trust Angela Ziegler on her word alone, but having just a bit of leverage changed the situation entirely. And if proof of active cooperation with a globally-notorious terrorist organisation didn't count as leverage, well - what would?
"I'm surprised she went along with this, honestly," the teleporter said. "But I'm glad she did."
"I am, as well," said the spider. "But I am... less surprised than you, given what I remember, and all you've said. I do not think she is as much of a rationalist as she likes to believe."
"Wot," she said, a small smile quirking up on one side. "You sayin' she's doin' all this just 'cause she's fallen for me?"
"No," her wife replied, "but... that is part of it. She has strong emotions."
"She's married! And - the doc? Strong emotions? You serious?"
"The first," smirked the spider, "I do not think has to matter so much. And the second... I suspected, even in the old days, but is it not obvious now? Everything she's done screams it. Particularly at the end - she didn't even try to triage you, she just swept in like a goddess and rebuilt your body." Her smirk relaxed into a smile, almost sympathetic. "As one who controls her own passions tightly, I recognise it in another. It is part of why I am not so angry at her... poor decision-making."
"Oh, yes. Seeing her again, even if in video - it is enough to confirm it. She may hide it from you, and from her current friends - but not from me."
Venom shook her head, and grinned a little. "Y'know... knowin' that... I almost wish it was returned."
"I have always found her quite attractive. And I suspect she is an absolute beast in bed."
"Oh, now, don't you start."
Widowmaker laughed. "Do not worry, cherie, we were only friends - if close ones. And... one time, perhaps a little bit more. I think I will remind her of it." She squeezed her wife's hand. "But it was not serious. I have already fallen, I have no need to fall again."
"I wouldn't mind tho'. As long as y'always came home."
Amélie leaned over and kissed Lena. "J'adore."
"Aw," said the junior assassin, blushing just a little. "I love you too."
"Doctor Ziegler!" said the grey-haired woman, motioning to a chair, as the pilot disappeared quietly back out to the hallway. "It is an honour. Please, sit down. Would you like anything to drink?"
"Some water would be lovely," said the Swiss woman, as she sat. The older woman nodded to her companion, who scooted over for a bottle of water, and two cups of hot tea, from the sidebar.
"I am Dr. Geanna Mariani, and this is my nurse assistant, Taviano Bonsignore. And it is a pleasure, finally, to meet you."
"I suspect I am familiar with your work?"
"More than you should be, I think? But yes."
"Not actually so, but what I know of it is miraculous," Dr. Ziegler said, sincerely. "You have been described to me as a fan of mine - I am, I think, an admirer of yours. But... amongst other tasks, I have a data delivery to make. Will anyone else be attending?"
"Ah, I'm flattered. Thank you. Yes, and they should be here any moment," she said, as the second set of doors opened, and Venom and Widowmaker - both in full Talon field gear - stepped out. "Ah, there you are!"
"Venom," said the Overwatch doctor, nodding, carefully neutral, getting a small but polite smile in return. "Widowmaker," she said, nodding again, a little wary despite herself.
The senior assassin smiled. "It has been a long time, Doctor Ziegler, has it not? Perhaps too long." She reached out her hand to the Swiss woman, who offered her own only to find her fingers brought to cool, blue kips, and gently kissed. "But there is no need to be so formal. Surely, Angela, you have not forgotten Tripoli."
She remembers, thought the doctor, relief cascading through her. It is you. It was always you, the whole time. I knew it. "Of course I haven't," she whispered, smiling, and kissing that cool blue hand, in turn. "It truly is wonderful to see you again in person... Amélie."