It was… surreal, to be honest. V could feel herself getting lost in Judy's weakened, albeit loving eyes, a kaleidoscope of emotions appearing in her mind all at once. The tears that stained her cheek just mere seconds ago were now tears of happiness, which she couldn't stop from coming out as she saw life return to her output's eyes. At that moment in time it felt like all of the bad events that occurred during the last few days were obliterated completely, leaving space for a brighter future to come. To see Judy awake again was something truly remarkable.

"Judy… I…" V felt herself unable to speak, overwhelmed by the feelings.

Not saying anything else, she leaned over Judy and lightly placed her head on the woman's chest, listening to her heartbeat and the quiet beeps of the ECG monitor, which served as a reminder to call Vik and update him on the techie's condition, but that could come later. All V wanted to do now was to enjoy being in Judy's true presence once again.

"My… head…" her beloved techie's raspy and full of pain voice was enough to put V out of her trance. She instantly sat back on the stool.

"You're gonna be okay, Jude." V gave the woman a reassuring smile and softly kissed her forehead. "Hang in there baby, I'll get you some water." she added before leaving the room and heading into the kitchen.

When Judy woke up, she felt uncertain about her position in time and space. The last thing she remembered was blacking out in the back of the truck and now she found herself in a room that, to her dizzy mind, resembled nothing more than a cluster of abstract shapes. However, the moment she recognized V, more and more objects suddenly became familiar and she realized that she was, in fact, somehow in her own bedroom. At first, she felt overwhelmed by the confusion but memories started to come back to her quite quickly. Even though it was getting difficult to think with a piercing headache she woke up with, pictures of the events that unfolded prior have entered her head. She could remember everything: the controlling pain and numbness of her body that she felt, her panicked breathing, desperate to keep herself above the waters of demise, the fear and terror that took hold of her every limb as she stared death in the eye, unsure of what would happen next. To put it all into one word it was… terrifying. Judy could feel a shiver run through her weakened spine and a couple tears appeared in her eyes; tears that were caused by a mix of pain and feelings.

It wasn't long until her fears disappeared as soon as she saw her savior return to her side with a glass of water. V put the drink on the stool and gently put her hands right beneath Judy's shoulders.

"Let's get you sitting, okay?" she said, her voice soft and comforting as she slowly lifted her output up. Even though the change of position hurt her a lot, Judy felt so lost in V's loving eyes that she managed to forget about the pain, even if for a couple seconds.

The techie wanted to say something… anything to let V know just how much she loved her, how grateful she is for saving her life, but her throat has decided to give up on her. Unable to form a word or sentence, all Judy let out was a whimper. As she helplessly looked at V, she could feel another tear forming in the corner of her eye.

"Shh, baby, it's okay…" V practically whispered, softly brushing a couple of lonely hairs out of Judy's face as soon as the woman was in a somewhat sitting position.

Judy tried to reach for the glass of water, but her hand was too weak to hold it. She let out an irritated grunt, with another tear falling out of her eye at the sheer hopelessness of her pathetic attempt. V noticed this and a saddened frown appeared on her face. This served as yet another reminder of the fact that even though Judy was awake, she was still nowhere near being the energetic, strong woman she used to be.

The merc cupped Judy's hand, holding the glass as well and gently brought the drink up to the techie's mouth. As the woman took a sip, she closed her eyes at the burning sensation in her throat that emerged as soon as the liquid passed it. That being said, with every next bit of the room-temperature water she swallowed she could feel it soothe her vocal cords more and more.

"That's… better" the woman spoke as she swallowed the last bit of the liquid left in the glass. While her voice was still more raspy than usually, at least the overwhelming pain following every single word was gone.

V smiled, although a hint of uncertainty could be seen on her expression. It was like she was still unsure whether Judy was actually okay, or if this was some sort of a dream.

"How are you feeling, Judy?" the merc asked after a couple moments, looking into her output's eyes while clutching her hand as if she never wanted to let her go.

"Coulda been better." a weak, bittersweet chuckle could be heard from the techie's mouth.

V stood up and gently placed the back of her hand on Judy's forehead. Pulling away after a second, a frown appeared on her face.

"You're burning up. I gotta call, Vik, I-"

"Wait" the merc was cut out by Judy, who grabbed V's hand once again, using the tiny bit of strength she had. "Please stay here with me…" a look of desperation painted itself on the techie's face.

V sat back down, with a bit of guilt building up in her stomach.

"Fuck, babe… I-" V sighed, looking at the ground with a frown on her face. "I'm just really damn worried about you, y'know?"

"V…" Judy cupped V's cheek, trying her best to give her a reassuring smile. The woman leaned into the touch, supporting Judy's hand with her own. "Thank you."

The merc looked at her girlfriend with a look of uncertainty, as if she was thoroughly analyzing every word that Judy had just said.

"I was so fucking scared, I th-" the techie was cut out by a series of coughs coming out of her throat. V immediately rushed over to her and held her, trying her best to bring the woman even a tiny bit of comfort. "Fuck" Judy spoke again, clearing her throat. "I thought I was going to die… it was so fuckin' scary, V, I can't imagine how it's like for you to-" as tears started dropping from her eyes, the words she was trying to form turned into sobs "To…"

"Hey. Look at me." V's tone was comforting, as she gently laid her hands on Judy's shoulders and looked deep into the crying woman's eyes. The suffering she saw in them brought her pain as well.

"It's just unfair!"

The merc didn't know what to say. On one hand, she never wanted to see Judy this sad and vulnerable, but on the other hand she felt like nothing she could say right now would comfort her. Was she supposed to tell her that everything is gonna be one hundred percent okay? Even though she wasn't true whether that would be the case or not?

"I know, Judy…" V gave her output a somber smile, as her thumb ran traces on the back of the woman's hand. She softly wiped Judy's tears away with her other hand "I know…"

"Are…" Judy swallowed a gulp of emotion that has built up in her throat again "Are you scared of dying, V?"

"I don't think I-" V stopped as she felt a range of emotions appearing on her face. She buried her head in her arms and contemplated her next move. After she looked back at Judy, an unusual expression was painted on her face: a look of genuine fear and desperation.

"I'm scared as fuck, Jude" the merc continued, her voice cracking and full of emotion "I'm tired of pretending I'm not. This fear… it's haunting me every single day and I can't make it go away." she closed her eyes, taking deep breaths to steady herself a tear started falling down her cheek. "They make me out to be this fuckin' merc who can take care of any shit they throw at me, but that's not who I am, for fuck's sake! I'm tired of this shitty facade. I'm weak… vulnerable… helpless… dying"

V's eyes closed again, trying to calm herself down while she shakily breathed in and out. She felt like an exhausted soldier coming home after an excruciating battle. She was in a battle of sorts - one with her feelings. As she opened her eyes again, it took a couple seconds for the blurriness caused by her tears to go away. The first thing she saw was the expression on Judy's face: shock and pain. The merc immediately felt a wave of guilt drown her thoughts.

"Sorry, I…" V let out a sigh, covering her face with her hands again "I didn't mean to drop a bomb onto you like this."

"Hey."

She suddenly felt Judy's soft touch on her chin, with the woman weakly pulling her head up to face her. As the teary-eyed V looked at her girlfriend, she felt as if she had just been melted by the loving, comforting gaze of Judy. If looks could heal… V would've been the healthiest person in all of Night City right now.

"I love you, V" Judy said, her voice as soft as possible with the tired, raspy tone "I'll be here for you no matter what."

"I love you too." V took the hand that Judy put on her chin in her own and gave it a soft kiss "And thank you, Judy. For everything"

"I should be the one thanking you… I seriously don't know what would've happened to me if you weren't there."

V sniffed and wiped her tears, feeling a small smile forming on her lips. She breathed in, focusing her sight on the mesmerizing eyes of the beautiful woman in front of her.

"Valerie."

"Huh?" confusion appeared on Judy's face.

"Valerie. That's my real name." the smile on the merc's face now appeared brighter and more genuine. For her it felt like a weight has been lifted of her chest, a weight that was standing on it like a monument for the last few weeks.

"Valerie… that's-" Judy was interrupted by her coughs again "That's a beautiful name…" her voice was now suddenly getting weaker than before.

"Sorry for not tellin' you earlier. I wanted to, but all of this shit happened and… yeah" V sighed, scratching the back of her neck

"Can I… can I call you Val?" Judy smiled weakly, her voice getting quieter and her eyes suddenly feeling frail.

"Yeah" V laughed, but a concerned look quickly appeared on her face "Hey, babe, you okay?"

"I'm…" Judy coughed again and a couple droplets of blood fell from her mouth, her face turning into a brand new shade of pale "Dizzy as fuck…"

V frantically got up, the worry she was feeling was now getting overwhelming. She moved closer to Judy and put her hand on the woman's forehead.

"Fuck, I knew I should've called Vik earlier" V frowned as she felt the heat beneath her hand

"I'm… scared" Judy muttured, feeling an all too familiar metallic taste building up in her throat. Thanks to V keeping her company, she managed to ignore the pain in the place she was shot, but now the feeling was getting too overwhelming.

"I'm here, baby" V whispered, cupping Judy's cheeks as she looked into her scared, weakened eyes "I'll get Vik and everything's gonna be fine…"

"I promise."

/

A couple hours have passed. Vik came by and prescribed Judy some medicine which should prevent her from feeling so sick all the time. He gave her some sort of an injection as well, but V couldn't remember what it was - most of her medical knowledge was limited to what painkillers to take after a gunfight and how to secure a bleeding wound. What mattered the most was that Judy was feeling seemingly better than before. She fell asleep again after the injection, but her condition was now as stable as ever.

As V sat on the chair in front of Judy's bed for what felt like an eternity, she couldn't help but feel a heavy weight on her eyelids - it was a bit funny how the simple fact of sitting for a couple of hours could bring her consciousness to its limit. However, even if there wasn't much physical activity that day, the merc was absolutely drained emotionally. At that moment she didn't worry about being on a timer, but she felt like the things weighing on her were way worse. Even though she knew that Judy was now safe, an overwhelming dread of the possibility of the techie's condition suddenly taking a turn for the worse has made its home in her head and it seemed like it wouldn't come out any time soon.

The woman picked up her acoustic guitar out of sheer boredom. She started strumming quietly, letting a random array of notes and chords fill the room. Music felt like a way of escaping from reality for her and she had to admit that Johnny's experience and artist traits only helped with that. Even though a lot of ideas came and went through her head, V didn't feel like singing; she wanted to keep the room fairly quiet, as she focused on the sight of Judy laying before her. She paid more attention to her beloved girlfriend's steady breathing than to her own. For her, it felt like Judy was a treasure. A treasure that was now unfortunately tainted by a near-death experience and the morbidness that the fear of V dying probably brought to her. The merc couldn't help but feel guilty in a way. On the other hand though… maybe the future wouldn't be all that grim? No matter what would happen, V's number one priority was to make sure nothing else could happen to Judy. The merc sighed; her biggest dream was getting a happy ending with her output - leaving the city and moving somewhere else. Taking into account everything that was happening around her, it felt as if the dream was unobtainable. At the end, all V wanted was for Judy to have a good, safe life… even if that meant that the merc herself would be merely a memory in the techie's head, were she to fail.

V couldn't help but feel a bit ashamed because of the fact she didn't reveal her real name to Judy earlier. It wasn't that she didn't trust the techie enough or anything like that. She just completely forgot about Judy not knowing it because of all of the madness the two have been through over the course of their relationship.

Suddenly, the merc jumped a little, startled at the sound that abruptly took her out of the realm of her thoughts: the ring of her holo. It was Rita, who probably wanted to know something more about Judy's condition. Right… V told the bouncer about the techie waking up a couple hours ago, so she wondered what was the matter this time.

"What's up?" V answered the call

"Yo, so I'm on a break from work right now… some new chick is takin' over so Mateo told me to rest for a sec'' the Mox chuckled. The woman wasn't wearing her usual white tank top with the bottom part ripped off. Instead, she appeared to be wearing a black hoodie. While not something V was used to seeing on her, it was weirdly complementive to the rest of her looks. She was in a car at the moment, seemingly waiting at a red light. "And I was wonderiiin'... Can I see Judy? Just, y'know, to check on how she's doing?"

"She's sleeping now but…" V paused for a moment, thinking about the answer "Yeah, sure"

"Aight…" Rita nodded, although a hint of disappointment could be heard within her voice "I'll be there in a few, 'kay?"

"Yeah, see ya"

The call ended.

There was one thing that confused the merc. Something completely unrelated to her beloved girlfriend, or to the Mox bouncer. Why hasn't Johnny visited her for such a long time? He wasn't normally this… absent. Was there a reason for it, or was V just searching for a way to keep her mind off the things that were bothering here at the moment?

Oh, fuck…

Suddenly, a brand new feeling made its way into the canvas of V's system. A feeling that was new to the situation, albeit one that the merc has definitely gotten acquainted with, almost certainly too much. The glitches, the nausea, the aching… and the fucking notification: RELIC MALFUNCTION DETECTED. This one was… too sudden. It was certainly scary, too. V was lowkey glad that Judy wasn't awake to witness it: the woman stumbling out of the bedroom in an overwhelmingly dizzy and weakened state as the nausea was taking hold of her body.

The world in the merc's vision was spinning in circles as if she was on a high-paced carousel. The piercing pain in her head was mixed with a stomach ache, and her trembling hands certainly didn't help as she clinged onto a wall, desperate to keep herself standing. The blue-haired woman somehow stumbled up to the bathroom and leaned on the door, using all of the strength left to simply open it. It was then that the situation got even more shitty.

V fell onto the ground, the distortions in her vision causing the room to look more like an abstract painting than an actual place. She let out a shaky breath, as she desperately supported herself with her hands to somehow crawl to the toilet, the nausea getting almost too much to bear. Couple moments later she found herself leaning on the toilet bowl with her hands as she threw up everything that was in her stomach.

After that painful and exhausting reminder of the fact that her condition is still very real and doesn't take any prisoners, the merc fell to the cold tiles of Judy's bathroom. She laid on her back, panting heavily as she had to suffer through the burning sensation in her throat mixed with sweat on her face and bloodshot eyes.

"V…" her personal tumor Johnny Silverhand appeared on the other side of the bathroom. His face screamed concern and his voice was more serious than usual. "It's fucking bad. You look like shit"

"Tell me… something I don't know" V groaned, rolling her eyes in annoyance

"I'm just stating the facts" Johnny shrugged "Seems like you need reminding that you're fuckin' dying."

"What, is puking my guts out every single day not a good enough reminder?"

"It would be if you actually cared enough to go to Hanako instead of spending all that time with your chick"

"Fuck off."

"What a fucking shitshow…" Johnny sighed and shook his head "You know that there will be a point where another malfunction straight up fuckin' kills you, right?"

V opened her mouth to speak, but she was interrupted by the sound of the doorbell.

The merc grabbed the nearby bathroom sink with her hand and used it as a way to support herself as she got up full of pain. She leaned on the piece of furniture and turned the water on. With a couple quick splashes of the liquid she washed her face and turned it off, trying her best to walk out of the bathroom afterwards. With her hand leaning against a wall for balance she made her best effort to get to the door.

As she opened it, the familiar purple-haired Mox stood in front of her. However, the bouncer's face turned into a surprised one as soon as she saw V.

"Uhh, you okay?" Rita asked with a hint of hesitation in her voice

"Yeah… yeah, I'm fine" V rolled her eyes. Was the paleness on her face caused by her latest episode that visible?

"Right…" The Mox said, giving V a look of uncertainty as she entered the apartment "So, where's Judy?"

The merc gestured to Rita to follow her as she made her way into Judy's bedroom. As the two woman entered the room, the bouncer could feel a pit in her stomach as she stared at her friend, laying there so weak and vulnerable. Her expression was like a mix of shock and sadness and V couldn't help but notice this unexpected display of emotion, something that wasn't usually present on the face of a tough bouncer such as Rita.

"Whoa, it's… it's, like, kinda fuckin' surreal to be seeing her like this, isn't it?" Rita said after a short moment, which to her seemed like it could last an eternity.

For a second, she felt like the view of Judy's true state knocked the air out of her lungs, rendering her unable to form words properly. Knowing about something was one thing, yet actually seeing it for yourself was a whole different experience

"Yeah…" V gave Rita a somber, understanding nod. The merc knew this better than anyone, unfortunately.

A silence emerged, with the void being filled up only by the beeps of the monitors Judy was still hooked up to as the two women stood there, looking at the sleeping techie.

"Y'know it just baffles me…" Rita spoke, turning the merc's attention to herself "That of all the people it had to be Jude. Shit makes no sense. Like… of all the people at Lizzie's I sometimes feel like she's the only person who knows how to talk about anything other than fuckin' sex and drugs... shit, this just sucks…."

As V looked into the other woman's eyes, she could sense a range of emotions in them: a mix of sadness, anger and a little bit of denial.

"I feel like I've fucked it all up" V said after a while "Broke a promise. Couldn't protect her."

Another couple moments of quiet followed.

"I don't think you're being fair to yourself, to be honest." Rita broke the silence, surprising V a bit.

"What do you mean?"

"It's just that…" the bouncer scratched the back of her neck, searching for the proper words "I think that you've helped Judy more than you know"

"You… sure?" V crossed her arms in hesitation, eyeing the other woman.

"Yeah, trust me, I see her everyday" Rita chuckled "Y'know, ever since you two got together she seems more… alive. I couldn't make her tell me what happened, but I remember her being all void of energy and fucked up all the time… then you came in and it felt like she suddenly became an entirely different person."

"That's good to hear." V said as she could feel herself smiling a bit.

Silence filled the room once again, as the two women looked at Judy.

"So… how's it like?" Rita spoke after what felt like a couple minutes "Y'know, being such a high-profile merc as yourself?"

"I don't really care about the fame and clout" V shrugged "I used to… but I've changed. I'm just trying to make a living, y'know…hopefully afford a better future for Jude and myself. Apart from that… I dunno… you just gotta learn to live with the constant fear of someone hunting you down… and you need to overcome that fear somehow."

"Tell me about it" Rita gave V a understanding nod "Being a bouncer at Lizzie's ain't all sunshine and rainbows either. You never know what could happen… you see a normal looking guy approaching you and the next thing you know you're bleeding out on the concrete cause said guy just so happened to carry a gun"

"That a true story, or somethin?" V raised her brow.

"Didn't happen to me, obviously" Rita shrugged "But it is a true story. A girl that worked there as a bouncer before me got fuckin' flatlined like that, just because some random guy decided to rob a Mox club. The guy got subdued and killed moments later as well but, y'know, the blood has already been spilled and an innocent life was lost that day."

"Shit's been like this in NC for ages" V said in a somber tone "See, I grew up in Heywood and the difference is, no one would dare just barge into the Coyote Cojo like that."

"The guy was just an ordinary gonk. No connections to any gangs or anythin'... prolly shitfaced as well"

"You ever considered changing your career choice?" V asked after a while

"Not really… not like I'd have any other suitable options" Rita chuckled "All things considered, the Moxes are my family… the only one I have" her voice got quieter at the end, as her face had a somber look painted on it.

"I kinda know how you feel" V said "My only 'family' is Judy and a couple other chooms who helped me a ton."

"I just hope she gets better soon" Rita sighed "It just hurts to see her like this"

"You and me both…"

/

V was sitting half-asleep on Judy's couch more than 24 hours later. A couple things have happened since her conversation with Rita. The techie's condition got visibly better, as the woman could easily stay awake for more than a couple hours. Judy no longer needed all the monitors and machines and she even started to walk a bit, although only with V's assistance as the weaknesses were still taking their toll. V's focus was still set on Judy all the time, but she took the liberty of doing a couple gigs just to pass the time, as Rita filled in on her and looked after the wounded woman. It couldn't have been all sunshine and rainbows however, as she found herself in a state of another relic malfunction sooner than expected, which led to Johnny scolding her again right before she took her omega blockers and decided to rest in Judy's apartment. That's how she got into this position - sitting in the dark living room while her eyes were uncontrollably closing. It was no wonder that something as mundane as simply sitting in place for hours on end proved to be a snoozefest for a merc so used to high paced action happening all the time.

It was already dark outside, with the room dimly illuminated by the pale moonlight. Before V could escape into the realm of her dreams, a sudden rumble from Judy's room startled her, making her get up instantly. Not wasting any time, the merc rushed over to the bedroom to investigate as symptoms of concern started creeping into her mind.

As she walked into the room, she saw Judy leaning against the wall, her feet trembling lightly as she struggled to maintain balance. Next to her laid a knocked over chair, which was probably the source of the noise.

"What are you doing, babe?!" V rushed over to the woman, holding her tightly as soon as she got to her.

"Heh, just wanted to stretch my legs a bit…" Judy said, pressing her face into V's shoulder and running circles on the woman's back with her hand as she immersed herself in her lover's touch.

"You're supposed to be in the bed!" V hissed softly, a hint of anger and concern heard in her voice at first but she quickly felt herself smile at Judy's sheer gonkness. "You're a freakin' gonk, you know that?" the merc pulled away and locked eyes with the techie. A smile appeared on both of their faces. V was happy to see that Judy's face was once again filled with life, a far cry from the paleness of her weakened face just a little over a day ago.

"Your gonk" Judy giggled and pressed a kiss onto V's lips.

The merc ran her fingers through her output's hair as the two got lost in their own world, nothing bothering them at all for the time the kiss lasted.

"How do your legs feel?" V asked, her voice warm and whispery.

"Uhh, I think I'm gonna need you to carry me, Val" Judy chuckled softly, noticing how her legs were still weakened and unable to stand up on their own.

V couldn't help but feel a smile forming on her face at the nickname Judy gave her. To hear someone call her by a variation of her real name was something truly remarkable and domestic in nature.

"In a good mood today, are we?" V smiled, genuinely happy for the first time in days, as she looked into Judy's eyes so full of color and energy again.

"Uh-huh"

Judy nuzzled into V's chest and held her as close as possible with the merc returning the embrace. V gave Judy's forehead a soft kiss as she breathed in the scent of the techie's beautiful, soft hair, letting it fill and calm her senses like nothing else could. This moment of bliss might've lasted not more than half a minute, but for the two women it felt like an eternity of peace.

"Let's go then!"

Much to Judy's surprise, V picked her up, causing the techie to let out a playful giggle. A moment later she found herself clutching onto the merc with her arms resting behind V's head, pulling the two lovers as close as possible. Warmth filled Judy's body as she felt one hand supporting her back and the other one holding her legs. The techie pulled in even closer and it didn't take much to completely close the distance between them, resulting in a long, passionate kiss which lasted for what felt like forever.

In this position, the two made their way to the kitchen, where V carefully let Judy open the fridge and take out two beers, all while the merc made it her biggest mission to make sure her girlfriend doesn't fall down.

"Uh, you sure you can drink that after all the medicine you've taken?" V raised an eyebrow as she saw Judy close the fridge. She then felt the cold press of the bottles against her back as the other woman readjusted her position and put her hands in their previous spot for support.

"There's only one way to find out" Judy chuckled as she gave V a quick kiss in the cheek

"Right…" V said, although a hint of uncertainty could be heard in her voice. She didn't object, not wanting to ruin the beautiful moment the two shared, but she couldn't help but feel a bit concerned.

"The stars are beautiful tonight" Judy said, looking at the window

"Not as beautiful as you" V smirked cheekily

"Jesus christ, V" Judy laughed, burying her face in the woman's chest "Cheesy as fuck"

"I know, I know…" V lightly and carefully patted Judy's back "Did that on purpose"

The techie giggled and pulled away to face V again.

"I know just the spot we can go" she said "If you got enough strength to carry me there, that is" a grin appeared on her face

"Oh, you're questioning my strength?" V gasped playfully, pretending to be all offended

"How could I?"

Judy pressed another kiss onto V's lips.

"Shall we go there?" V asked after a while

"Let's."

/

Moments later the two lovers found themselves on the apartment building's roof, in the exact same spot they were calming down right after the crucial moment of Judy's life that was Evelyn's unexpected passing. As bittersweet as being here was, the women paid it no mind - all that mattered to them was each other's presence. The sounds of the bustling city mixed with the quiet music playing from a radio put on a foldable table created an oddly soothing atmosphere. Judy and V sat on two foldable chairs, bathing in the moonlight and taking in the view of the neon-lit buildings of Japantown. As V took a sip of her cold beer, all she could feel was peace. Finally, after a couple days of non-stop worrying she felt as if everything was gonna be okay. With Judy by her side, awake and breathing, it seemed like all of her problems and concerns disappeared. Knowing how long her omega blockers usually lasted, she also let go of the paranoia that another malfunction could happen and decided to live in the moment, taking in the close moments she shared with her output that day.

"It's nice here, isn't it?" The merc said, putting aside the bottle as she looked at Judy. "Wish it could stay like this forever."

"I think it can…" a small, genuine smile appeared on the techie's lips as she looked into her girlfriend's eyes "Just you and me, in some apartment we'll buy together…"

"You still sure about that?" V took a sip of her beer "Leavin' this place behind and… finding a new life, or something?"

"I want it, V" Judy declared, putting her hand on V's shoulder and giving it a soft squeeze of comfort "More than anything."

"I just hope I'll be there to… experience it." V chuckled bittersweetly, as she felt the fears of passing fill up her mind again, pushing out the other feelings.

"Valerie…"

V looked at her partner with a hint of uncertainty in her eyes. Judy's touch on her shoulder certainly brought her a feeling of the warmth and comfort she'd missed so much when the techie was still in a coma state. As she stared at the techie's reassuring smile, she felt butterflies in her stomach mixed with her heart telling her that, somehow, everything will turn out to be okay in the end.

"Hold me… please…" V finally spoke, her voice cracking as she stood up. She hated to feel so vulnerable, especially since she was used to feeling at the top of the world as a well-respected merc. However, no matter what she tried, she couldn't push the fears of dying out of her mind.

Judy stood up with a hiss of pain as she felt the aching in her still weakened legs. The merc noticed this and quickly rushed up to the woman, supporting her. The techie smiled at the sudden warmth that came with V's touch and the two walked into a more open part of the rooftop.

"I'm here, Val…" Judy said, her tone as soft and comforting as possible "I'm here for you."

"Thank you" V muttered, burying her face in Judy's chest as the two stood there, embraced.

For a moment it felt like the women could ignore every source of sound they heard and focus only on each other's heartbeat as they found themselves in a hug so tight, that it seemed they'd never let each other go. All of the love and affection they felt was enough to calm their minds and let them forget all of the bad things that happened to them. For that short moment, it was them and only them.

V closed her eyes as she ran her fingers through the back of Judy's hair. Their bodies started swaying lightly in the rhythm of a slow song that has just started playing on the radio. The movement and closeness that came with it were soothing and freeing their minds of all their concerns. At that moment, V felt as if she could believe in the premise of it all turning out okay in the end. The feeling of being there, embraced with her biggest love, entangled in a slow, loving dance while the pale moonlight illuminated the place was something otherworldly, to say the least. V knew this for some time now, but it was then that she truly realised something - she actually wanted to spend the rest of her life with Judy, whatever sacrifices would need to be made to achieve that dream. It was a beautiful vision of a better life waiting for them somewhere. As all of those thoughts filled her mind, all V wanted was to let her lover know just how much she appreciated and cherished her. It all came down to three magic words…

"I love you."

"I love you too, mi calabacita"

Whatever could happen next mattered next to nothing. At that moment it was just the two of them, entangled in love. And only that felt important.