Emily's eyes shifted up toward her half-finished glass of tea before returning to the phone she had cradled in her hands as she hunched over the table on the outside patio of 'Surfer Dave's Grill', her brow coiling sadly with concern. 2:17. Being fifteen minutes late wasn't abnormal, unless of course you were a woman capable of warping through the very air surrounding yourself. Lena wasn't ever late; it certainly wasn't possible, which every one of her friends knew, and especially for somebody she loved, Emily knew something must be wrong.
Her previous text message admitted as much, though she didn't even receive a reply from her fly girl, leaving Emily's lips to pull inward with concern as her fingers nervously toyed with her crimson hair. She brought herself back against the chair as she waved down a nearby waiter, tapping her phone against the man's sleeve to pay as she brought herself to her feet.
"Sorry, change of plans I suppose," she explained with a shaking head, "Thank you though."
He shrugged dismissively as she started off, her pace slightly quicker than what she might have thought were this all a thought experiment as she slept in Lena's tightening hold. She knew Lena's usual line of work wasn't safe, and was downright dangerous at times- just because Overwatch was gone didn't mean the bad guys weren't.
Emily's mind raced. The two's darkest nights often involved Lena seriously drawing out plans for what Emily was to do were somebody… if something were to come to the door in Lena's absence. The reverse was hardly ever discussed; who on Earth could possibly overcome the furious flighter?
Who indeed, Emily began to wonder, though she immediately shook such thoughts from her mind, knowing her mind was beginning a spiral of overreaction that could very well overcome her were she to allow such a thing to occur. Instead, she created a list in her mind of her partner's favorite places, figuring she should check each one out, at the very least, before calling 'the big guy', Winston.
or Angela. Lena would always say, under her breath, that Angela Ziegler was the one she trusted the most, despite the two not having shared a word for years now.
Emily went down bullet points in her head as she strode quickly through the crowded sidewalk, dipping her shoulders to avoid being struck by oncoming traffic. 'The Fable Walk'? No, they were under new management and Lena hated their napkin dispensers. 'Hungry Oak'? Nah; they'd gone French, 'le Coin du Quai', and Emily knew how Lena, or rather the 'Oxtons', felt about such things.
She sighed, slowing to a stop as she grumbled to herself, turning around. It was so obvious, she thought, as she turned her head up to watch the midday sun in the sky, a light breeze forcing her to yank her collar up to conceal her neck from the wintery chill. Then, she was off.
Lena dug her thumb and forefinger into the sand beside her, pulling them up just to watch the bit of sand there trickle back down onto the beach before dropping her hand back into the ground. Her head fell forward regretfully as her shoulders slid down the face of the retaining wall she was seated against, eyes held closed with shame as she thought about having to tell Emily about another job she'd been fired from, one that she had seemed to have been destined for, at that.
For all the reassuring words Emily had shared with her, it didn't do much to quell how worthless Lena felt at the thought of being unwanted, feelings that had haunted her for most of her life. Her energy, fierce loyalty, and her resilience to serve in Overwatch all stemmed from this history of hers, a history buried so deep within her mind that had now reared itself firmly entrenched in this waking moment.
All she heard was the gently crashing waves as they swept up the edge of the beach, a constantly calming noise, normally, that now only served as a soothing white noise that Lena had hoped would calm her, but to little avail. She would often come here the first few nights back home after missions, simply to unwind as though the rhythmic waves were awash overtop her mind, though such deep-seated insecurities wouldn't go away, certainly not after these many years.
"You're a hard woman to find," came a voice from above.
Lena pulled her legs up against her chest, wrapping her arms to her knees as she lowered her head, "I wasn't hiding or nothin'…"
"Uh huh," Emily nodded sarcastically as she turned to make her way down the stairway that led to the beach below, "You had me worried, you know."
"You always say you can handle yourself," Lena mumbled.
Emily rolled her eyes, "Worried about you, dummy. You never turn down a date with two of your favorite things."
The red head approached Lena with a sauntering gait, wordlessly bringing her coat up against the backs of her legs as she sat down, not bothering that the sand would probably ruin the attire, speaking up instead, "Luckily, I brought both of them to you, instead. I had a hunch something was up on my way over here, so I stopped at a store and brought you something."
"Don't," Lena murmured from buried between her legs and chest, "I'm sulking."
Emily grinned at her honestly, digging her hands into her coat pockets, "Wow, well that mustn't be all that fun to avoid a date with me and food just to sulk, huh?"
She pulled out a tin-foil wrapped sandwich, tearing at its wrapping to unleash a thick plume of steam into the air, forcing Emily to throw her arms out to avoid the scalding air from reaching her face though she quickly offered the foil-plated delicacy to her partner. Without a word, Lena began to stir from within her bodily shell, her eyes slowly peering out from above her coiled arms at the steamy treat,
Emily smiled, "It's Harry's. I know you like their submarine sandwiches."
Lena's face visibly scrunched in anger as she unraveled one of her arms, feebly reaching over to retrieve the sandwich as she grumbled lowly, "I hate being predictable…"
Grinning, Emily allowed her to take the sandwich before crushing the foil in her hands, "Why? I don't have to find a manual to know how to make you feel better. You know, I just- I just know."
"I like that I know," Emily concluded with a softly sincere smile, "It means I've learned so much about somebody else."
Still holding onto feigned anger to appear as though her sulking had been worth far more than it appeared, Lena couldn't help but grumble at how difficult Emily was making her entire façade. She took a bite of the delicious meal, turning away as she chewed in case she suddenly shed her demeanor for one of glorious satisfaction.
Emily giggled mutedly, "You weren't sulking all that hard, huh?"
"No," Lena groaned, finally giving up and returning to her normal seated position, "I just…"
She bit her lips, though took a bite to eat as if noticing she could chew and hide her words all at once, "Igwatguayared."
"What?" Emily asked with confusion.
Having somewhat spoken the words took something of the edge off, leaving Lena with a bit of confidence as she swallowed, though she still lowered her head to hide her constricting lips, "I got fired…"
"Really?" Emily asked with surprise, "But I thought-"
"That it was perfect, right?" Lena suddenly charged, "That I'd be excellent at something for once, huh?! Little did you know, I'm Lena Oxton; I can't keep myself from tripping over my freaking two left feet every time I start anything!"
She shook her head, angrily taking another small bite, "I can't stay the fuck outta my own stupid way…"
Emily watched her with a downtrodden face, unsure of how to answer as Lena finished another bite before shaking her head again, "I shoulda known it felt too perfect. I always ruin those sorts of things. I don't have that part of the brain that says "Hold up, stupid"- I just-"
She turned toward Emily with a shrug, "There was an Omnic there- I thought I was doing something noble! He was going out of his way to steal everybody's high scores; there's no fun at that! but I don't have that 'stupid' thing; turns out that's what he's supposed to do and I ruined it for him before he-"
She bit her lip, remaining stagnant for a brief moment before desperately taking another bite of her sandwich as if chewing would hold back her tears. Her head shook despondently as it fell into her chest once again.
A shiver tore through her body as Emily took her shoulder into her hand, clutching Lena tightly as she spoke lowly, not wanting to alter the mood, "We're perfect. and you couldn't ruin us."
Lena's eyes fell, quickly shutting as a welling symphony of tears appeared, quickly bringing a hand up to hide her face, "C-Cut it out."
"I mean it," Emily continued, "You're not a hero because you're a good pilot or because you can warp or whatever. You're a hero because you don't have that part of your brain that tells you to stop doing what's right."
She ran a thumb along Lena's shoulder, a tender enough touch to convey her smile without Lena even seeing it, "You think we would have ever met if you'd had it? What kind of crazy girl knocks over fifty people in a crowd just to stop a crook who stole some old lady's purse?"
Lena silently shook her head, leaving Emily to finish, "And what kind of crazy girl goes back, after apprehending said crook, and checks on each person she knocked over to make sure they're alright?"
Remaining unmoved, Lena stayed silent, leaving Emily to continue along with a grin, trying to lighten the mood, "C'mon, love. I'm sure there's one of those Oxton rules that mentions finding the brightest things even in-"
"There are no Oxtons."
Emily's face dropped with concern as Lena raised her head, propping in atop her knees as she stared out toward the oceans with reddened wet eyes, "I saw the name on a bloody crate at the orphanage I grew up in."
Unable to fully understand this new development, Emily's eyes dropped in reverent silence, though her hand remained firmly atop Lena's shoulder, even as she shrugged, continuing along, "I thought it sounded cool. My parents didn't want me, these jobs don't want me. I can't blame any of 'em; I'm a mess."
Lena twitched at the sound of sand being stirred while Emily scooted closer, pulling herself close enough so that she could worm her way around Lena's shoulders, pulling her into half of a hug, running her hand up and down her furthest arm. Lena remained focused on the far out ocean despite her head rocking back and forth, stopping only as Emily rested her head atop her shoulder.
"You're not a mess," Emily confirmed, "And even if you were, you'd be my mess. and there's no way I wouldn't love you even then."
Lena frowned at the tender sentiment, groaning, "You know, you don't always have to be so sweet."
"Maybe not," Emily smiled, "But I like to be your biggest fan. Especially now with Overwatch being shut down; you need somebody to be your cheerleader. I just so happen to enjoy being cute."
Rolling her eyes, Lena turned her head to watch Emily's resting on her shoulder, eyes closed as she simply enjoyed the cool air blanketing the warmth she felt from the body beside her, "Too cute, sometimes."
"Like that's a bad thing," Emily mused as her lips curled upward.
Her eyes still closed in solemn refrain, Emily suddenly felt a softness against her lips, such a warmth she'd become so incredibly familiar with, yet she never tired of feeling. Her turned lips returned with a kiss of her own, their sincere kiss being shared for a few moments before Lena pulled away, watching so intently that comforting face that stared back at her.
"Now you're too cute," Emily accused without emotion, simply lost in the serious-looking face of her partner, a look she didn't see often, but which held tremendous power over her.
Lena didn't reply, leaving Emily to grin as a humorous thought came to mind, "Not the first time you've had food on your breath while we've kissed."
Grumbling, Lena's lips turned with dismay, "I'm simply abdicating something I really like for something I truly love. Don't get jealous; food is always beneath you on the totem pole."
"I'm not jealous," Emily forced with a wry smile, "It's like an adventure every time you kiss me. Especially when you're on the move so often at work; I get to find out where you've been without you having to say a word sometimes."
Lena rolled her eyes, turning away to hide a blush as Emily giggled, the pilot muttering in reply, "Dummy…"
Her head nuzzling into Lena's neck, Emily concluded quietly, "Why don't you finish your sandwich and we go on home, okay? It's too cold out here."
She eyed Lena's face from below, "I don't care how many people don't want you. I always want you. In fact, in pains me when I want you and you're too busy saving the world. Even when you kick me off the bed and I'm one groggy pain in the morning, I still want you."
"Even now?" Lena asked, "Knowing I'm a bloody mess?"
Emily smiled, "I want you out of the cold. and then I want you at the table for our dinner. Basically, while you're home, I want you with me whenever that's possible. Why'd you think I didn't mind you not getting a job for these off days of yours?"
"I just-," Lena paused with a worrisome frown, "I've been helpless before. 'n I don't want anything to happen that makes me, or anybody, really, feel like that again."
Her eyes falling toward the sand, Emily muttered, "I guess I do sound kind of selfish, wanting you around all the time. I don't want you feeling that either, especially with your usual job being shut down for the time being."
"Look," Emily went on with a sigh, "I sorta got excited when you said you'd be here more often. Y'know, there are so many nights where I'm watching stuff or reading or whatever; so many nights where all I want is you here to break down the monotony. Now that it's possible, I was just, you know, a tad bit over-excited, I suppose."
Lena chuckled silently, her quivering shoulders causing Emily to pull her head away to avoid the discomfort, leaving her in Lena's view as the pilot spoke up, "Funny. I thought I was the clingy one."
"Oh hush, I'm not that bad," Emily mused with a sarcastic roll of her head, "Look, if you want to find work while you're waiting for Overwatch, I'm fine with that. I just don't want you getting upset because they don't fit your mold. If they don't, it's their loss, not yours."
"I know," Lena smiled weakly, "It just hurts sometimes, y'know?"
Emily nodded, "Oh yeah, I know. My parents. Me. I've got a pretty good idea."
Lena turned to watch Emily's face grow more distant as she sighed, her shoulders slouching as she recalled her parents, muttering softly, "My last name is one my parents would much rather I didn't have anymore. I've all but been orphaned myself. Count yourself lucky, love; you have a name you chose, a name that will always be a part of something you want. Mine is just a reminder of how unwanted I am by the people who're supposed to be there for me the most."
She sighed, recalling that she'd come here to cheer Lena up, not bog down their spirits, so she put on a weakly brave smile, shrugging off her words, "It's no big deal, though, really. It doesn't bother me at-"
"Why not change it?" Lena asked sincerely, as though it were the easiest thing.
Emily gave a quick laugh, laced with incredulity, "W-What?"
"Be an Oxton," Lena smiled, "I don't have much of anything tangible to offer you in the way of a long-term relationship; I don't have a family to share, I don't own a castle or anything. But I have a name that I've protected and made as reputable as I could possibly make it, one untarnished by conditional love or unloving parents."
She smiled, "Why not take it?"
"I- What?" Emily asked between confused gasps of laughter, "Lena, I don't think that's how it-"
Lena shrugged, "It's gonna happen sooner or later, right? Like you said, we're perfect."
This ability of Lena's, what she called the 'shut up' part of her brain a moment ago, to wade through any and all matters that made so little sense was a quality that Emily, who was often so cautious or analytical, admired greatly. Where so many people would circle around, speaking in vague terms, trying to find a way to touch upon a point that might make them seem silly, Lena would so easily pounce upon that point in her characteristically wily way, while at the same time making it seem like the easiest thing in the world.
By now, with nothing between the two having ever even bordered on talk of that kind of relationship, Emily began to blush, "Y-You, uh-"
Lena smirked, "Maybe just think about it. My name will always be here."
"Y-Yeah, while you keep adding 'Oxton family rules' to it," Emily managed with a grin.
Her partner crossed her arms, showing off a rather prodigious expression as she spoke quietly, as if imparting some ancient responsibility upon the woman she loved, "Okay, why don't you create one, then?"
"We'll keep a list or something," Lena smiled, "I mean, I'll have to drop the French one, but between you and I, we could come up with some-"
"Oxtons remember their loved ones will be there for them," Emily interrupted, "Always. Oxton Family Virtue."
Lena smiled, "You're gettin' the hang of it, love."
"I'm simply learning from the best Oxton there is," Emily confirmed, leaning her body to rest against her lover's, the two growing silent amidst the cold flurry of wind that surrounded them, yet seemed so insignificant against the warmth shared between them.