Glad to be working with you again ♡
That was how it began. It surprised Chun-Li to see a bright sticky note when she opened the thick manila folder that Cammy had sent ahead of her in the hands of a junior agent. In her position most intelligence reports she recieved were immaculately professional, not a letter out of place, but here was a cutely handwritten note topping off the stack of insider cartel information.
She had 24 hours to get up to speed with the latest details of the case, one she had been keeping an eye on since she heard Delta Red was involved. She spent more of that time than she cared to admit reading the same lines over and over again, focus drifting off towards the sticky note that she had removed from the folder and pressed against the top drawer of her filing cabinet.
It did nothing but sit there, innocuous, but Chun-Li could almost feel its presence simmering under her desk and crawling up her leg.
She had to remind herself that it wasn't like her to be distracted. Professionalism came first. The safety of civilians and the urgency of shutting down this cartel and getting drugs off the streets came first. She could deal with her very unprofessional emotions afterwards.
She had been stuck with mostly her desk for companionship for quite a while, and she hated to complain about a lack of serious international crime but dear God it was getting boring. The excitement of seeing someone from the World Warrior Tournaments wasn't helping, dredging up Chun-Li's long-buried wanderlust. She had friends among her co-workers, of course, people she could grab coffee with at lunch and have a drink with at the end of the day, but they were all... Interpol officers. Chun-Li loved her job, of course, she was proud of her position and accomplishments, but it couldn't supply the gritty, guilty thrill of a street fight.
She'd had more than a few street fights with Cammy, both face-to-face as her opponent and back-to-back with her as an ally. It was normal to get attached to someone you'd shared so much adrenaline with, right? And extremely normal to develop some degree of interest towards said person, especially after such a dating dry spell...
Distractions. Not her. Right. There were reports that needed reading.
It was close to midnight when there was a gentle tap-tap on the open office door that startled Chun-Li out of the concentration she'd finally found.
Cammy was leaning against the doorframe with two cups of coffee from the office kitchen, still wearing an oversize leather jacket from the cool weather outside. It was a little strange seeing her dressed so casually – her hair was still slicked back with military precision into braids, with the same little escaping tuft that never grew long enough, but between the jeans and jacket and the lack of any secret service insignia she looked like a different person.
“Mind if I come in, officer?”
Chun-Li had never cleared a desk off so fast in her life.
“It really is good to be working with you again,” Cammy said, once she had passed over one of the coffees and was seated across from Chun-Li. “Even if you won't be in the field this time.”
“We'll have to make some other plans while you're here,” Chun-Li bubbled back, a lack of sleep and an abundance of caffeine starting to wrench control over her enthusiasm out of her hands. “Girls' night out?”
Cammy, who Chun-Li would have expected to balk at the concept, just smiled. The curve of her lips crinkled her eyes and pecked a dimple into her scarred cheek. “Sounds like a plan.”
Chun-Li tried to hide her delight behind a sip of coffee and came away from it with a grimace.
“Is this decaf?”
Cammy smiled, lips against the rim of her own cup. “I know how you get about work, because I'm the same way, but it's an early morning tomorrow. No more real coffee for either of us.”
Chun-Li must have failed to hold back a frown because Cammy let out a laugh, a low and dry chuckle.
“For your health, then. I need you at your best to back us up tomorrow.”
That, she could probably manage.
Despite the encroaching early morning, they sat together in Chun-Li's office with their decaf coffees until nearly two in the morning, catching up on several years apart. It was so refreshing to not dance around any of the less-than-upstanding fights she'd been in, to talk to someone who knew just how deeply her frustrations ran about Shadaloo's trail running cold. Cammy talked about her own brawls, ones that were most definitely not in the interest of upholding the law, and shared as much as she could about the operation tomorrow.
It had been in the works for nearly a full year, and even that was a rushed job. An Interpol agent working a drug case in Eastern Europe – Cammy asked but it was nobody Chun-Li knew – had stumbled across the last vestiges of the smuggling cartel that had been mostly absorbed into Shadaloo, the Nguuhao. Within the last month they picked up bulletproof evidence that they were also trafficking children, and the decision was made that they couldn't keep watching and collecting information in good conscience. Something had to be done.
Cammy leaned one elbow on the armrest of her chair and her chin in her hand, eyes cast towards a dim corner of the room. For the first time since she walked in, her brow was furrowed and her subdued joviality was gone completely.
“If we manage to follow this through, and we find out the child trafficking goes all the way up to Shadaloo...” Her voice wavered, just a tiny bit. “I'll be angry. I'll be so angry.”
Without really thinking it through, Chun-Li put the last dregs of cold coffee down on her desk and stood. She took the second visitors' chair, scooted it away from the wall, and sat down next to Cammy. When Cammy didn't react Chun-Li reached out and put a hand on her forearm through the jacket. Handholding didn't seem appropriate quite yet.
“In my professional opinion,” Chun-Li said, because that seemed the most likely thing to comfort Cammy, “it's incredibly unlikely. When criminal groups split or merge there's usually bloodshed, and this one happened some time ago. It's... not ideal, but even if you find some intel I doubt Shadaloo will have any direct connections at all to this Nguuhao.”
Cammy did relax, just a little, slumping down in the chair, but her expression seemed sadder.
“And in my personal opinion, the people in charge made the right choice. No matter what happens, you're going to help children tomorrow, and that's a good thing.”
After a moment of pause, Cammy nodded and stood.
“I should get out of here,” she said with a friendly, professional smile as Chun-Li stood as well. “Early morning.”
“Right," Chun-Li replied, giving her most genuine smile in return. "Have a good rest. I'll be keeping an ear on you.”
Despite the lack of caffeine, Chun-Li didn't sleep very well.
She had been in the ops room for more than a few missions, but this was the most frustrating one Chun-Li had ever been witness to.
The fact that the whole thing was rushed was obvious just minutes after they made contact. There were gaps in the information, risky chances that had to be taken, and because the extent of Chun-Li's involvement was reading the files, she was relegated to the back of the room. All she could do was sit there and sip on a real caffeinated coffee and jitter her leg around while people yelled and made life-or-death choices that shouldn't have been necessary.
In the end, the operation was a success, but it wasn't without its casualties. By some heavensent miracle nobody was killed, but a few agents would be stuck behind desks for a while. Chun-Li's sympathy was bone-deep.
Cammy was one of the ones injured – a knife had found her leg during a sudden scuffle when she'd misaimed a kick, and according to the field medic she was bandaged up and would need crutches ready when they got back. It wasn't a tremendously serious injury, it would heal and leave no lasting evidence other than another pale scar to add to her ever-growing collection. Chun-Li heard it happen and she knew how deeply frustrated she would have been with herself had she been the one injured. After their conversation the night before Chun-Li knew Cammy would be devastated.
It was late afternoon when they returned and the look on her face when she hobbled through the front doors suggested something closer to livid. She was dressed in frumpy grey military issued civilian clothes, one pantleg rolled up to her knee and one foot in only a sock pulled loose around the bottom of the bandages. A field medic – if she was the one who had been with her in the field, Chun-Li was unsure – followed a few paces behind, keeping a close eye on the pink-stained back of Cammy's upper calf.
The debriefing was disappointingly fast. Cammy exited the soundproof room only an hour after she entered and came right to Chun-Li's office, where Chun-Li had been staring at the paperwork on her desk but seeing nothing, focus trained on the voices outside.
“Nothing,” Cammy spat as she entered, startling Chun-Li for the second time in as many days. “Or next to nothing. We got one low-capacity hard drive that's encrypted to hell and back, sounds like it's gonna take weeks to break into, at the very least.”
She huffed out a disgusted and exhausted sigh that sounded like it had been brewing for hours, maneuvered her crutches out from under her arms, and collapsed into the seat that Chun-Li had left in place from the night before.
“While you were en route back I went downstairs and booked the shooting range. You want to move girls' night out up to right now?”
Cammy sighed again but this time it was a surprised chuckle. “Yes please.”
Once Chun-Li helped Cammy down the stairs with the medic fretting from the top the whole way and closed the heavy door behind them, the difference in her mood was instant. Her movement was still clumsy as she made her way to the weapons locker but her strong posture was returning, spine straight and shoulders thrown as far back as possible with crutches jammed under them. Chun-Li collected two sets of earmuffs and headed into the range proper to set up the targets.
Chun-Li wished more field work was like this. Clean, quiet, precise, safe. If policing, especially at the international level, were less complicated and deadly, the world would be a better place.
But there was a part of her that still wanted dirty, loud, panicked, dangerous. She wanted lawless street fights. That was why she found talking to co-workers so difficult sometimes – they were all good people who put their lives on the line for the good of humanity, not for the thrill of it. None of them secretly sort of enjoyed being a bruised, bloody mess after a conflict.
Cammy entered the range from the locker room, bumped the door closed with one crutch, and handed off one of two black cases to Chun-Li, sitting down on the bench next to her with a grimace and a sideways twist to get the crutches out from under her.
Watching Cammy assemble her gun was a bizarre sort of soothing. Chun-Li doubted it could have been done any better by a machine - Cammy's slim but calloused hands worked over it with the same confidence and precision that she strived to carry into every aspect of her work. It was difficult seeing the woman sitting across from her stone-faced and injured, knowing that just a day ago she had brought Chun-Li coffee and teased her about staying up late and talked with her into the small hours of the night.
Affection and sympathy gripped Chun-Li's chest with such intensity that she almost fumbled her own weapon's magazine. She knew Cammy noticed and appreciated that she ignored it.
“You mind if I start?”
Chun-Li shook her head and tugged her earmuffs onto her head.
Cammy stood, just as awkwardly as she had sat down, skipped the crutches, and hopped over to the closest booth. She raised her weapon and Chun-Li saw her shoulders rise and fall with three deep breaths as she steadied herself on one leg, wavering less and less until she was completely still.
Five near perfect rounds later, she was teetering again. Chun-Li stood to help her get back to the bench and sit down, because the last thing she wanted was to have to call a medic down to interrupt them.
Cammy's expression had quirked up into a hint of a smile, tinged with – embarrassment? guilt? – despite the things bothering her she was having a good time, and Chun-Li grinned back.
“Can I take you back to Europe with me?” Cammy teased, but there was sincerity in her scrunched eyebrows and embarrassed-and-guilty smile. “Just for a while. I'm sure Interpol can manage for a few weeks.”
There had been an idea floating at the back of Chun-Li's mind from her tossing and turning the night before, and it leapt into her mouth before she could think. “I think I'm going to request a transfer to Delta Red.”
“Well, it's...” She scrambled for the reasoning that had seemed so reasonable in the middle of the night. “It's the case, mostly. Especially now that it's taken the turn it has. I think Interpol could supply a lot of good resources and people, but... it's also such a personal case for you, which makes it a personal case for me. I want to make sure it gets resolved and that you're there to get some kind of closure.”
Was that too personal? It seemed too personal. She could have just said she didn't want the branch of Interpol that had organized that disaster of a raid taking over, or that she wanted to keep a close eye on potential Shadaloo leads –
“I don't know what to say,” Cammy said, and Chun-Li's stomach dropped until, “thank you. I really meant that note I sent you, you know. Working with you would be a dream.”
Instantly bolstered, Chun-Li bumped an affectionate elbow against Cammy's. “I have a couple of conditions.”
“More guns-and-girls nights.” That one got Cammy to cringe. “And more cute notes in my paperwork.”
Cammy reached over and laid a hand over Chun-Li's, just for a moment, sending a shock of delight and surprise up Chun-Li's arm and down her spine. “Go back to calling it girls' night out next time we do this and you have a deal.”
Chun-Li stood and flashed a quick wink over her shoulder on her way to the booth. “It's a date!”