She’s trying to make new friends.
Trying being the keyword. Moving to a new city in your twenties is awkward enough, and Zari had been perfectly content to spend the rest of her life in her tiny apartment, avoiding her new roommate, staying safe in her room with her video games and ten blankets and her complete lack of social life.
It had been a solid plan, as far as Zari had been concerned.
A plan that had gotten thrown right out the window by her roommate (Thanks, Craigslist!) who, at some point, realizing that Zari, into video games could be roped into an Overwatch squad . And this apparently also meant socializing. On a weeknight. At ten pm.
“I might actually freeze to death,” Zari says, following her roommate Sara down the street. Sara had insisted that her friend’s house was a short walk from the train station, but apparently a short walk means over half a mile. Zari makes note to use that as an excuse not to come next time. “I’m not built for this cold.”
Sara, who had downed four- four shots and called it pre gaming before leaving seems to be fine in nothing more than jeans and a white leather jacket, despite the fact that it was actually snowing outside. Real snow, falling down, on Zari. “We’re nearly there.”
“Please tell me we’re not lost.”
“We’re not lost,” Sara insists.
Zari hardly believes her.
“I’m just going to call an uber back to-”
“We’re here,” Sara announce with a flourish, stopping outside a large brick apartment building. Which was exactly like hundreds of other apartment buildings in this city.
Zari tuck her hands inside the pockets of her jacket, holding tighter to trap the warmth inside, as she watches Sara jab every number on the buzzer until someone in one of the apartments instinctually reacts and buzzes the door open.
“Success,” Sara says, holding the door open, and Zari shuffles inside with her.
The stairwell of the apartment building is only a little bit warmer as she follows Sara up two flights of stairs until they reach the apartment labeled 3B.
The door opens without her needing to knock and a rush of people greet them. There’s loud pounding music from a game, Zari doesn’t know the name of, and three different people already on their laptops.
Oddly, there’s this weird, instant sense of belonging, like this is right where she was supposed to be.
Suddenly, walking through the snow doesn’t seem like the worst idea.
“Hey,assholes,” Sara yells out over the music, “This is Zari, she’s my new roommate, so you all have to be nice to her so she keeps paying her bills.”
There’s a chorus of hellos at Sara’s comment.Within a few minutes Zari finds herself situated on a couch between two guys whose names she might not have been entirely paying attention to when they were introduced. Though seeing as one of them is apparently a Hanzo main, she’s not certain that she actually needs to know his name.
She turns at the sound of her name, there on the other side of the Hanzo guy stands who is quite possibly one of the most beautiful women that she’s ever seen. With, which Zari’s usual luck, means there’s about a two percent chance of her also being into girls.
“That’s me,” she says, giving a vague thumbs up motion- The epitome of uncool, and that was saying something because, again, she was sitting next to guy who mained Hanzo.
Thankfully, the living goddess doesn’t seem to notice Zari’s awkwardness, or doesn’t care, because there’s still a smile on her face. Though that look does become concerned when she says, “You’re shivering.”
“It was a bit of a walk,” Zari says, her coat is on. She’s slowly starting to get feeling back in her face, though, so that should count for something. “Not all of us have Sara’s superhuman ability to get drunk enough to walk through the snow without caring in five minutes or less.”
“Yeah she can do that,” she replies, “How about I make you some coffee?”
“You’d be my hero.”
That earns her another smile, bigger and more welcoming.
“Just call me Amaya.”
“Is this seat taken?”
The thing about the train is nobody ever actually talks to each other. A vague nod grabbed bag when is enough signal to the person next to you that you’re getting off at the next stop, so unless you actually knew the person the idea of talking to someone on the train is foreign concept. Not at all like the movies would have led Zari to believe.
So, the fact that someone is talking to her either meant that they were from out of town or that they actually know her, which, seeing as Zari has been living in the city for only a month and her entire extent of social interactions is video games with Sara’s squad, well -
“Yeah, that’s fine,” Zari says, tugging her earphone out as she looks up to see a familiar face standing there.
Amaya’s in a red pea coat with a scarf around her neck, looking like some sort of winter deity not the type of person that should be taking the train in the middle of the day. She deserves to be chauffeured around in a limousine, or something equally glamorous.
“We missed you last Tuesday,” Amaya says as she takes the offered seat, sliding in beside her, their legs bumping each other. “And the one before that.”
“Yeah, I had a thing,” Zari says. “It’s complicated.”
“You’re not avoiding us, are you?” Amaya asks, “If you are, I could go sit somewhere else and you can pretend you don’t know me?”
“No, don’t do that,” Zari replies quickly. Probably too quickly, if she’s being honest, “I should be free next week, it’s just with the time zones of some of the people I’m working with it gets kind of tricky.”
“Well, we did talk about moving hangout night to Monday’s if that makes any difference?”
“I’ll be there,” Zari insists, because there’s a sort of sad look in Amaya’s eyes and Zari may have only met her twice, but she wants to keep meeting her. “I promise.”
“You better. I’m making cookies.”
“Well, that’s a game changer.”
“Is anyone going to fucking heal me?”
They’re all gaming remotely.
Technically she and Sara are sitting in the same house, though Zari is at the kitchen table, while Sara somehow manages to game on the world’s worst laptop, sprawled out on the couch leaning against her girlfriend, which is why their team was on a losing streak
To be fair, it might also have have something to with the fact that their usual healer Gideon and their backup healer Ray were both out, and Zari was entirely certain that Nate had no idea how to play Mercy and had just picked a healer on a whim, since they had made him healer in their random number generator.
“He just healed me,” Amaya says, and true enough when Zari checks her stats she’s not wrong.
At least someone on this team was getting healing.
“Fucker,” Sara hisses.
“Nathaniel, play nice,” Amaya chides.
Zari can just about picture the expression on her face.
“I want Sara to say please,” Nate insists over the headset, like a petulant child.
“I want our healer to do his fucking job,” Sara says.
“I want an omelette,” Zari jumps in, to attempt to ease some of the tension.
It works earning a burst of laughter from the group, and Ava from the other room yelling, “Wait, are you two out of eggs again?”
“Don’t answer that, Z!”
“Well, seeing as someone decided to egg our neighbor’s car-”
“You did what?” Ava says.
Zari figures when they lose that match that it’s probably Sara’s fault. Since Sara is the one who is now too distracted, busy arguing about the legality of egging peoples cars in the living room.
She lets the game idle to the main menu, pushing her headphones down off her ears as she goes to grab her phone off of the kitchen table. There’s a handful of notifications, mostly twitter, that she’s missed during the last match, but only one draws her attention.
A text message from Amaya, with a screenshot from ubereats of an order placed less than a minute ago, for one omelette to be delivered to her address.
Her fingers fly across the keys replying back in a second, Are you aware that I love you ?
It only takes a moment before Zari regrets it, maybe having come on too strong, and she picks up her phone again to send a second message that reads: And by you I mean omelettes .
Followed by a third that simply says: Thank you .
Amaya’s message comes in a moment later, You can thank me by being our healer next round, Nathaniel is terrible at it .
She smiles down at the text message. She’s taken by a warm feeling in her chest. One that spreads outwards, and has to do with way more than just the fact that in thirty minutes, she would be eating an omelette.
“Hey, if you two are done having make-up sex out there,” Zari shouts out, as she pulls her headset back on, “I’m going to play Ana next round.”
Sara lets out a noise of frustration. “I could be having make up sex, but someone loves rules more than me so-”
“It was a waste of perfectly good eggs,” Ava replies just as fast.
She’s pretty sure this is a date.
Technically the words haven’t been said, and Zari isn’t even one hundred percent sure that Amaya is into girls. She almost is, because the way Amaya’s eyes linger on her sometimes when she thinks Zari isn’t looking has to mean something .
Which was why, when Amaya had invited Zari over for a pizza night at her apartment, she had accepted without any hesitation, even if it had meant walking the half mile from the train in slightly less than optimal weather.
And even though this pizza looked more like lasagna than actual pizza.
And even though she was currently eating it with a fork and knife.
“I can’t believe you’ve never had deep dish pizza,” Amaya says.
“I mean, I did just move here,” Zari says in her defense, even though it’s been three months, and she’s finally starting to feel like a resident of the city, and not just some visitor passing through.
“Do you like it?” Amaya asks.
“I love it,” Zari says.
“You love all pizza,” Amaya tells her, which is kinda true. She’d liked that gluten free pizza place that they had all gone to for Lily’s baby shower last week.
And that vegan pizza that Leo had brought to hangout night the week before.
“Yeah, but this pizza is different. It’s special.”
Because it isn’t the pizza. It’s the thought that Amaya, upon hearing that there had been something Zari had never tried before, had immediately wanted to be there with her when she had it for the first time.
That the pizza isn’t the only thing she loved in this apartment.
“And,” Zari says, cutting herself another bite free, “I don’t love all pizza.”
“Now that I don’t believe.”
“Sara’s girlfriend once ordered a pizza with not just pineapple, but extra pineapple.”
Amaya makes an adorable face, her nose scrunched up in mild disgust. “I stand corrected.”
Zari is in heaven. “These donuts are to die for. Like I might actually be dying.”
“I’m dying, because our healer won’t fucking-” Sara yells, loudly into her headset.
While, Gideon, remotely (because nobody has ever actually seen Gideon with their own human eyes, except for Rip, and that might have not even been real) says, “Maybe if someone mained a decent character--”
“I don’t need to take this from a Zen-”
“I’m glad you like them,” Amaya says, soft and sweet, squished by her side as they watch their friends play.
Normally Zari would be desperate to have her own laptop out, joining in on the fun, but now - she just wants to be wherever Amaya is. And if that’s wedged on the world’s smallest couch between Nate and Ray, then Zari was more than happy to be here.
She barely stops herself from pointing out that she loves everything Amaya brings.
Almost as much as she loves Amaya.
It’s just an ever present thing.
“They’re homemade,” Amaya, says after a beat.
“She’s not,” Nate buts in, even though this was very clearly a not Nate conversation, even if she is currently half leaning on him because there’s nowhere else to sit. “Amaya doesn’t believe in buying donuts, because she’s weird.”
“Hanzo mains opinions don’t count,” Zari replies, pushing him out of the way in order to grab another one of Amaya’s donuts, (which causes frustrated groans from the rest of the team, as Nate messes up his shot in the process), “I think they’re incredible, because Amaya made them, and she’s incredible.”
She mentally applauds herself on the smoothness of that statement.
Only for a moment though.
Because, Amaya’s staring at her, their faces only inches apart, and she’s it’s that soft smile that Zari wants to keep just for herself. It makes her feel like moving out to this city was the right decision, all if it had meant meeting Amaya.
“You’re too nice,” Amaya says.
“I’m serious,” Zari insists, because she is, she really is and this isn’t the right place to explain just how serious that is. So she laughs a little to diffusion the tension and says, “Marry me and make me donuts for the rest of our life until I fall into a food coma and die.”
Amaya bats her eyelashes. “Well, when you put it like that..”
The thing is as much as Zari loves to eat, doing her own cooking… not so much.
It’s not that she never learned how it’s just that… Her entire extent of cooking includes things that can be microwaved and subpar omelettes, and this was not that.
This was hell.
“It looked so much easier online,” Zari says, stirring the pasta with her fork.
At least, it should have been pasta. Now, she wasn’t entirely sure.
“I think it’s the thought that counts,” Amaya offers.
She’s sitting on Zari’s counter, as she has been for the past five minutes. Honestly, she’s probably the reason why cooking suddenly seems ten times harder than it’d been before she showed up. Not that it had exactly been smooth sailing, but at least then she hadn’t been distracted by the fact that Amaya’s finally decided that it was officially shorts weather.
Which, while Zari didn’t exactly agree with her assessment, is not something she’s going to complain about.
“I know, I just wanted this to be-” Zari stops herself before the last word.
Before romantic comes out. Because it was going to.
She still isn’t exactly sure where too fast is, but she’s pretty sure they’re on that path., When she walks past Amaya’s counter to put her fork down, she’s stopped by a hand around her shoulder, turning to to meet Amaya’s gaze.
“You wanted it to be what?” Amaya says.
“Good for you,” Zari says, though those still aren’t the right words.
Finding the right words around Amaya had always been difficult.
“You know I didn’t come here to just watch you cook?” Amaya asks.
Zari cracks a small smirk. “Well, I’m a mess so-”
Amaya leans in. “I came here for you.”
There’s something about the way she says it, casual and easy.
The “Oh,” that escapes Zari’s lips is probably months too late, but maybe she hadn’t been reading the signs wrong after all.
When Amaya kisses her it’s still a surprise, but a pleasant one, like coffee on a snowy day or an omelette when you’re out of eggs, but better. It’s so much better. It’s Amaya.
It’s always been Amaya.