I didn't realise I hadn't posted a new chapter since mid-December! Sorry for the late.
This chapter is worksafe. [AO3 link]
«Look, friend, all I'm trying to tell you is that big trouble is coming, and it's aimed straight at your guy. Cut him loose.»
Sombra made a little frustrated noise as Flores didn't answer immediately. He'd been fighting her on Morrison since she first contacted him about it. «Look, Olivia, this isn't...»
«Don't call me that.»
«Sombra, this isn't - you aren't with us anymore. We all know it.»
«But I'm still your friend, friend. Or aren't I?»
He sighed. «No, no, you are... I just... he really, really knows what he's doing. Militarily. We're so much more effective now, we've thrown the Maras completely out of the whole state. The police are starting to think of us as maybe not even so bad.»
«And when he turns on you, like he turned on Laticia and Araceli?»
A moment, and then another moment, silence, over comms. «He didn't... look, we don't know what happened to Araceli...»
«I do. I told you. I've seen it.»
«That - it makes no sense. It's impossible.»
«You want the video? I can see about that.»
«And Laticia, she's turned state's evidence, sold us out to Overwatch! Why shouldn't he...»
«Is that what he says? He's a liar. Well, he was a liar before. Look, have I ever lied to you?»
«About anything important.»
«And I'm not lying to you now. You heard what Talon did to that Mara cell in El Salvador, right? Do you want that? Because that's what you're going to get.»
She could almost hear him thinking.
«...can you get me that video?»
«I think so. Want to clear it with my source, first. Very delicate, you know? Don't want to alienate them.»
«Sure, sure. Let me know.»
«I will. Sombra out.»
The hacker leaned back in her chair. "Well, how 'bout it? I figure we let him sweat for a day or two, then hand it over."
Lena smiled. "Sounds good. I don't want t' have to tear through Los Muertos to get to that bastard. They're just kids, mostly, and none of this is their fault." She fuzzled Sombra's hair.
"Quit it, rapido! This hair takes time!"
"Make me!" Lena giggled, and, of course, made it worse, as she and the hacker got into a hair-messing competition that the teleporter could only win.
Angela looked on, mildly astonished, from the couch across the room where she sat, surrounded by notebooks. Yesterday's meeting of the minds had run late into the night, followed by a massive exchange of documents in the morning, after breakfast and some more personal catching up with Amélie.
She looked around, again, a little overwhelmed. She'd handed over a data chip, and had not imagined getting stacks of paper to read, in exchange. Dr. Marani wasn't so much old-fashioned in her record-keeping, as prehistoric. It looks like so much more, when it's all physically in front of you, she thought. But it painted a crystalline picture, nonetheless.
A burst of laughter caught her attention, and she looked up. Lena's so relaxed, here, she thought, contemplating what she was seeing. And arguing against killing, rather than reminding us she's an assassin over and over. She gazed intently at the roughhousing Talon agents. It's because... she's just Lena here, isn't she? Not Tracer. Just ... herself, and she doesn't have to insist on anything to remember that. She shook her head, and went back to reading lab reports.
"Agh, you win, stop it!"
"Yeah!" The assassin punched the air. "Venom wins again!"
Sombra got out a hairbrush and began working her hair back into place. "You know, it'd go a long way if he heard it from Laticia himself."
"What, get her sprung, you mean?"
"Something like that. It'd carry a lot of weight."
"Hmf," said the assassin. "Somethin' to consider." She glanced over at the Overwatch doctor. "If we have to. Don't quite want t'be asking favours at the moment. Not 'till we've got everything else sorted out."
"What's Overwatch gonna do with her? They aren't police or courts or anything. They have to hand her over to somebody, eventually - why not us?"
"What would happen to her afterwards?" Angela asked, suddenly.
Lena shrugged. "...let her go, I guess? Back to Los Muertos?"
"With what she'd know, by then? How could that work?" She leaned forward, intently. "You could never let her go. Not with her knowing what she would about Talon, combined with what she does about Overwatch. She'd be a threat." She leaned back, and shook her head. "I cannot risk that."
The assassin frowned. "We wouldn't, but... I get your point, I guess."
"What if we kept her at arm's reach?" suggested the hacker. "Your friend, Gabriel."
Venom grimaced. "He's not really..."
"Fiiiiine, your colleague, whatever. When we decamp to Mexico, he goes too, brings her. We co-ordinate at a distance, he lets her go back to the gang when the job's done."
"That's not bad, luv. Whatcha think, doc?"
Doc, she thought. Well. That's an improvement. "I think... Overwatch could go along with that. Obviously, it is not my final decision, but... I think so."
"It'd help. But... y'seem to have got used to the idea we're gonna finish off Morrison awfully quick."
The doctor leaned forward, face in her hands, elbows on the glass table in front of the couch. "He's my fault," she said, resigned. "At least... partly. And I saw - well, I did not quite see it, but I saw the results when you were tried to bring him in alive." Her hands closed to loosely-held fists, forehead pressed against them, carrying the weight of her head, of her thoughts. "If he is willing to do that to you, or worse, to Mei-Ling... then he is no longer the man I once admired."
"Makes it easier, then?"
"I have always been a field medic, and then a doctor, first. But I have also always been a soldier. Just like him. Just like Fareeha. Just like you. But even with that, I am not on a mission to kill him." She lifted her head, and looked Venom in the eyes. "I am here to do my best to save my mother-in-law. If helping you kill him does that... so be it."
"Wow, this got somber," interjected the hacker. "Where's the fun in that?"
The assassin snickered as Angela frowned, and she swatted at her friend's head. "Right, then! It's late. Go flirt with your girlfriend - didn't you say you'd call her tonight?"
"Ah, she's used to it," Sombra said, nonchalantly - but also packed up her physical kit in one quick swipe.
"You complete reprobate - go call her. Now. She hates it when you're late."
"Don't have to tell me twice. And don't disturb me, we'll probably be verrrry naughty."
"Out!" Lena picked a cushion off one of the chairs and threw it at the Mexican woman as she fled, missing, Angela suspected intentionally.
"So... Lena - may I still call you that? Or is it Venom all the time, here?"
"This is my home, doc. You're at my house. If it's not Lena here, where is it?"
"I think you know what I mean."
Tracer managed a half of a smile. "Yeh. I guess I do." She sighed, retrieved the cushion she'd thrown, put it back on the chair where it belonged, and flumped down on it. "Honestly, I wish you wanted to be here. I'm not in love with you, but... bloody hell, doc. Of all the old crew, you were the one I wanted back. You were... you were the one I trusted. Maybe it was London, maybe it was... I dunno why. I just did."
"I have already made my apologies..."
"I know. I'm not lookin' for another one. I'm just..." She waved her hands around. "I want that trust back."
"But that's not why I'm here."
"No," she admitted, "I guess not."
"So then, Lena - why am I here?"
Lena smirked at the Overwatch doctor. "Helpin' us kill Morrison's not enough?"
"All you need is my field suppression device. I could've handed that to you in Geneva." She didn't pretend it would be any less involvement that way, not to herself - but it didn't require a trip to any secret bases. Or, apparently, homes.
"Fair enough. But with us, you've handy, if things go wrong. And, like you said, maybe y'can help us not have to kill someone else."
"Yeh. We take down Morrison, we get any video she might have of that little mistake of yours... she gets to live."
"How would I do that?"
"No idea. That's somethin' for you to figure out with Sombra."
"Lena," she said, leaning forward. "I appreciate that you're trying. But..."
"Again," the assassin stressed. "Trying, again. I hope you get that, luv, 'cause like you just said, last time tryin' it this way got me a hole in my back big enough for Zarya to put her fists through."
"But you would not be trying if you did not have some other reason to bring me here. She'd just be on your kill list. We both know it." She scowled. "Why am I really here? Not my reasons. Yours. You want trust back, between us? Tell me this."
Lena looked around, tapped the surface of the table with one finger, got up, and closed the door.
"All right, then," she said. "Didn't want t'get to this 'till later, but fine." She sat back down. "Remember how you said I didn't look any different, first time y'saw me, back in London?"
The doctor nodded. "You still don't, not really. It's only been a few years, after all - for you."
"Yeh - it's still explainable that way, for me. So far, anyway."
Lena gave Angela a long, thoughtful look. She's not this good a liar, she decided. Not with stuff like this. "Y'really don't know."
"Lena..." the doctor said, confusedly. "Would you please just tell me?"
The Talon assassin bit her lower lip, nodded, and took a deep breath, before continuing. "You're not the only one not gettin' any older, luv."
Dr. Ziegler started, leaning forward. "You're not... Dr. Mariani hasn't talked about work anything like this. If not her, then how...?"
"That's the trick, innit?" She sighed. "We don't know. Somethin' to do with the slipstream, we're pretty sure, but ... no idea what."
"...and Amélie is, isn't she."
"Yep. Nothin' you'd notice yet, particularly not on her - we're both hard to kill, and awfully durable. But... she is."
"That time I asked you about Fareeha? Hoped you'd win that argument?"
"You knew, already? About yourself?"
"That's what you want out of me, really, then, isn't it."
"Yeh," she nodded. "I..." Fear - real fear - flashed across her face. "I... sometimes, when I rewind, I..." She swallowed, hard. "I see things. Other places. Other us. Dunno if it's real, not for sure, but sometimes, sometimes... I see myself... at her grave. It's a hundred years from now, and she's long gone, and I'm still... me. As I am now."
She shuddered, and sniffed a little. Lena reached over, pulling a tissue from her pocket, offering it to her.
"I couldn't take that, doc," she said, taking the tissue. "I won't lose her. I won't. Not to that. Not to anything."
Dr. Ziegler nodded, eyes soft. "That... is something I understand. Fully."
"I still hope y'get it sorted with Fareeha. I like her."
For the second time since arriving at the small Talon base, Angela Ziegler smiled a genuine, broad, reflexive smile. "Then... I have some good news for you."
Lena blinked, and sat up straighter, eyes wide. "She..."
"And it's worked?"
"As far as I can tell, everything is perfect. Her scars started fading within hours. Not so much that she can see it, yet, but..."
Lena Oxton breathed heavily and deeply. "So ... there's hope. It's not just you anymore."
"If you can do this for us... t'hell with all of it, luv. I'd forgive you anything. Forever."
Lena laughed, her old laugh, the kind of laugh that cut straight through to Angela's heart, and the doctor, too, laughed, in kind, so relieved. "I am sorry for what I did, but really, I am not sorry at all," she said, huffing halfway to giggles. "I know what you must have been going through, now, and honesty, it all makes so much more sense..."
"It's been workin' on me, luv, not gonna lie," Lena said, shaking her head, eyes wet, but with a smile. "Maybe... maybe it's made me a little too extra, can't say..."
"Does Amélie know?"
"'Course she does. We don't keep secrets."
"Well. That explains all this," she said, pointing to the stacks of lab notebooks and research notes. "You were so angry that you thought I'd figured you out, then I get here only to have all this thrown at me..."
"In trade. The doc - our doc - has been wanting a colleague for a while."
"Certainly, but still - the dichotomy... well. It is now explained." She shook her head. "My approach will not even have to change. Just the specifics."
"Still killin' Morrison, you know that."
"Don't spoil the moment."
"We don't lie, luv. Not internally. It's somethin' Talon's got over Overwatch."
"Really. It's not just me an Amélie. We are what we are, we don't pretend we're anything else. Secrets, sometimes, sure, y'gotta keep 'em. But not lies."
The doctor let out a little bit of a laugh, a heh sound, almost appreciative. "No wonder you're so... thin, at the upper levels. Well. I suppose there is something to be said for Talon, after all."
"Big step up from the old Overwatch."
"All too true."
"I'll take that as a compliment!" Lena snarked, cheekily.
"You should," the doctor agreed. "You really, really should."
"Oh god, Ange..." She leaned forward, like the doctor had, head in her hands, eyes and smile visible through it. "You'll really do this. You really will."
"If I can."
"Thank you. Oh... I..." She leaned forward, and took Angela's hands, tightly, in her own. "Thank you."