This chapter contains material some readers may find disturbing. It is, accordingly, placed behind a cut.
"Morning, sweet." Emily whispered, opening her eyes, looking up at her counterpart, awake, as she'd been all night, sitting up between her two lovers. "How're you doing?"
Widowmaker leaned down - carefully, so not to disturb Tracer - and kissed her lover's forehead, whispering back. "I'm fine. It's only a few days - I've held shot positions far longer. How are you doing?"
"My joints ache a bit," she said. "Particularly my knees."
"If it's only a bit," Widowmaker replied, running her free hand through her lover's hair, "she has improved the process."
"I know," Emily smiled, and nuzzled into Widowmaker's hand. "Oh, that's wonderful. I've missed this. Never go away again."
"I can't promise. I want to, but - we cannot stay here, you know that."
"When all this is over, then?"
Widowmaker nodded. "We will find a way. We... can't not. You and I both know that."
"I know." Emily smiled broadly. "It's what makes being apart bearable." She laid her head on her lover's breast, looking across at her lover's lover, and blinked. "...Oh!" She jumped, suddenly remembering. "Lena! Lena Lena Lena!" She hopped over, all smiles, as Oxton grumbled herself awake. "...Emily?"
"I have presents! I was too sick yesterday from the treatments, but - I feel better, now! Get up, I can't wait to show you."
"Emily, it's..." Tracer looked at the clock, confused. "It's 5:30. Why 5:30? Why."
"C'mon, girlfriend-in-law, get up, you've been asleep for days!"
Lena supposed that was true, thinking about it, and really, she wasn't even that sleepy. "Might as well, now, I'm all awake." She squinted and ran her hands through her hair, trying to make some sense of it, and failing. "She always this much a morning person, love?"
Widowmaker smirked. "We've only had a few nights where we actually were able to sleep together. So to be honest - I cannot be sure. But I am usually awake a couple of hours before you are, so... perhaps I am, as well."
"You're nice enough to stay still 'till I wake up."
"Perhaps I like the view."
"Come on," said Emily, pulling on Lena's arm. "Get dressed. You're gonna love these."
"I would too, t'be honest. S'far as that goes, I'd like a proper workout myself. Treadmills only take y'so far. And you've only got the one."
The armourer nodded. "Real estate, I probably don't have to tell you, it's pretty dear in Oasis. But I'm so glad you like these - I'd thought you would."
The teleporter grinned a little, despite herself. "Faster shot rate, higher shot count per cycle, slightly quicker reload, I think - what's not to love?" She shook her head. "But mostly - you were right. I don't know how I never noticed how bad the recoil and scatter were, in my old set. These are brilliant."
The gunsmith, pleased her presents were appreciated, bounced a little in her chair. "Well, it's what you're used to, isn't it? What y'learn on is what y'learn on, and y'don't know better 'till you get better, I think. Are the grips comfortable?"
"Ah, yeah. A lot like my old guns, really."
"Quite similar, in fact. I made a hand impression while you were unconscious, so I could customise it a bit - but that and the reload time were the best things about your old pistols, so why fix what's not broken?"
"And you made the Kiss, too, then?"
"I did! As well as my own counterpart. I call her the Dragon's Breath, now that I'm finally named." She felt a little frisson of pleasure at the thought. "But I always used her as a testbed for improvements. One's me, one's Widowmaker, but they're much the same. As we are much the same." She smiled again, feeling warm inside.
"There's... something about her," the pilot said. "I felt it, carrying her for Wids, when we were at Overwatch."
"She... let you carry the Kiss?" she asked, putting down her tools.
"Yeah, it was a..."
Oilliphéist stood, astonished, and took Lena's hands in her own, examining them, feeling them, smelling them. "Did you know? How... how did she make you feel?"
"Ah...," she said, surprised, a little alarmed, a little confused. "I... suspected. She reminded me of her, somehow. She was... comforting, almost."
"You could feel that... oh, you could, you could feel that..." A relaxed smile, deep, genuine, real. "She does love you, to trust you so much. And her counterpart knows, and shared it with you..."
"You're sayin'... the Kiss... feels?"
Emily giggled. "Does a submarine swim? She's... she's a reflection. She reflects what Widowmaker feels, as does my Breath reflects me. A security blanket, a brace, a reinforcement, and... just a little more."
"A... part of her conditioning, then?" Oxton said, more than a little alarmed. "Is this how you... and did I..."
"No! Oh, no, I see how you get there, luv, but no - exactly the opposite. She..." She waved her hands. "She helps her counterpart keep her own self. I didn't add that until I saw who we'd made, and knew... I had to help her unlock herself fully."
The assassin laughed, and sat back down to complete the adjustments. "All of which makes it sound far more powerful than it is. Really, she's the tiniest bit of emotional support, working through the outer nervous system, and that's all. Like... a little pat on the head. But she is that much, and always there, and... it helps." She looked over at the Overwatch agent. "It pleases me that you could feel it, already, before."
"So is the Breath what keeps you so happy? That was quite the performance y'gave at Widowmaker's chateau."
"Oh!" Her eyes lit up. "You saw it? Thank you!"
"Ever since then, I've been thinking about how... cheery you are, all th' time, even - particularly - then. Has killing always made you so... estatic?"
She laughed. "No. I..." She looked at the tool in her hand, decided it was the wrong tool, and picked another, very similar tool. "No. I love it, I love it all, the challenge, the hunt, the stakes, the victories, the kills, the blood... but... do you really think that's all it is?"
"I did. So is it also... your weapon?"
"No. Not at all. It's her."
"Yes." She closed her eyes for just a moment, and took in a long, deep, slow breath. "The first time I saw her, I ... connected with her, in a way I never, ever imagined could happen, and it... it just shook me. She was a wonderment, and..." She shook her head. "I wish I had better words for it."
"So 'till then, you'd always been..."
"A murderous psychopath?"
"That's a pretty rough way to put it, but... yeah."
Oilliphéist shrugged, never losing her smile, not completely. "It's fine, I know what I am. Fortunately, I've also always been an engineer! And had the intelligence to know what not to do." She smiled, wanly. "Well, that's not entirely the truth. I was one of those kids who couldn't stop taking things apart, see how they worked."
"Oh yes. I was a little terror. I could put things back together too! But only about half the time."
The agent looked incredulously at the armourer. "'Sorry, mum, the milk's gone bad, I took apart the icebox?'"
Emily laughed. "How did you know? Did Widowmaker tell you?"
Lena blinked. "...really?"
"Yes," she chuckled. "I actually did take apart the icebox. Couldn't put it back together, either. Bits strewn about the kitchen, ice cream melting everywhere, if there was a works to be had, I'd put a spanner in it." She made a few final adjustments, and nodded, pleased, popping the screwdriver back into its case. "I learned, though. I did put the microwave back together. And the computer. But not the icebox, not the hoover, and not the cat." Her smile broke, and looked suddenly sad, as Tracer laughed, at first, thinking she was joking, and then did not laugh, as she realised she was not.
"Wait... you... really took apart... a real cat? That's awful! Why would you...?" Psychopath, she remembered. Sometimes as children, they... torture animals. "Did you... want to make it hurt?"
The Irish Dragon shook her head, and looked more than a little lost. "No! I liked her! I liked the cat! I liked her so much I wanted to see how she worked, that's all, so I sedated her, like I'd seen Aunt Moira do, and... took her apart, and she was so beautiful inside... but then none of the pieces would go back together, or in, or anything, and..."
Emily scrunched up her eyes, confusion in her face, and shook her head again, trembling. "I... I was so angry. I was so angry that I couldn't make her work again. And everybody else was angry, too, and crying, and I didn't know why, they weren't the ones who couldn't put her together... and I said, we could get another one, but they said it wasn't the same, why..." And she stopped, and shuddered, and covered her mouth with her hands. "...we couldn't get another that one, could we."
Lena just sat, torn, appalled, and confused, and sad, and had no idea what to say.
"...I get it, now." She looked at Lena. " That cat was broken. We couldn't get that cat again. She was... gone." Her gaze dropped to her hands, in her lap. "I... I... why didn't I ever understand that, before?"
"...how old were you, then?"
"Nine, I think?" She blinked, furiously, and rubbed her eyes with the heels of her hands, a little. "I haven't thought about this in years, why... why now...?"
"I dunno. I... wow," managed Lena, in well over her head. "Hoo, that's... not to be a bit too on the nose, but I hope you don't ever decide to see how I work."
Emily looked at her palms, confused, and rubbed them against her trousers. "I..."
Emily huffed, raising a pistol and pointing it at Tracer's face. "Bang!" She giggled, weakly, and put it back down. "I'm not nine years old anymore." She sniffled, surprised by the sound. "I may be pretty well broken, but I'm not stupid. I won't kill you."
"But y'could," said Tracer, with certainty.
Emily shook her head yet again. "Sure! But I wouldn't. Not ever." She doesn't understand, she thought. "She loves you. Killing you would hurt her, and I would never hurt her." She ran her hands through her hair, looking a little more like herself. "I couldn't hurt her. Ever."
"Not even for a mission?"
"Fortunately," she swallowed, as her smile returned, "I'll never have to worry about that." Primly, soothed again, she settled herself, and put away the rest of her tools. "Moira's promised, and I believe her."
"I do. She's always been there for me."
She let out a long, slow, calm breath. "Always. Oh, and speak of the devil..."
Moira walked in, Widowmaker behind her, wary in the eye, rifle out, but carried lightly. "Hello, dear. Are you finished with the pistols? It's time for your last round of treatments."
"How 'bout it, Lena?" She handed the pistols over. "That better?"
Tracer flipped the pistols in her hands. So light. "Still feels good. New target?"
Emily popped over to the controls. A replacement appeared, and Tracer emptied one pistol into it, creating a single, smaller hole than before, and then emptied the other, enlarging that hole just a bit. "Ah, that's ace, luv. Absolutely bloody bespoke, that is."
"Thanks!" The armourer grinned broadly, before turning to her aunt. "I'm ready."
"Then since we all have quite a lot of work to do, let's get this, at least, done."
Widowmaker nodded. "Lead on."