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Do it, for your country.

Yuna has heard those words thousands of times.

She thinks it to herself just as often.

Meant to be a badge of pride, a spur of motivation to keep them all going.

But Yuna knows better. Whenever Jae-eun thinks no one is looking, how the light in his eyes get snuffed out and his face goes as pale as his white hair. Yuna rarely, if ever, finds Kyung-soo playing actual video games anymore, outside of their required streams; she sees him in the virtual reality practice room, his teeth gritted and hands clenched around the joysticks, a sheen of sweat on his face as he pushes his glasses back up his nose. And then Seung-hwa, the youngest of them all; when Yuna has to fetch him for dinner, she always finds him at the hangar, hunched over at the computer and calibrating his little blue drone.

And Yuna sees it in herself, too. When she looks into a mirror, she sees a cold, calculating look reflected back at her. Stern, calm, and collected, with fierce dark eyes and a shrewd mouth.

Yuna raises a hand, and presses two fingers to her cheek. Her hand trembles a little. Then she turns away.

But most of all, Yuna sees it in Hana, too. Having known Hana for years, before the war, when the two of them were just small kids fooling around with their parents’ gaming computers, Yuna knows better than anyone that Hana truly has done everything for their country.

The smiles. The grins. The peace signs. The chips, the sodas, the slogans plastered all over city skylines and billboards.

And no one knows better than Yuna what all that press, all that publicity, all that jazz does to a person.

When the cameras are turned away, when the flashes are off, and the five of them head back to base, Yuna sees the slight slump of Hana’s shoulders, the thinness of her mouth, the distant look in her gaze as they drive through the streets of Busan. Hana’s fist sits clenched in her lap, her knuckles pale white against her skin.

Yuna places her hand over Hana’s.

Hana glances at her.

Their gazes meet, for just a moment.

Then Hana pulls her hand away, and looks back out the window.

Yuna say nothing as she stares ahead.


 

Inevitably, somehow, their childhood friendship is a perfect mark for a publicity stunt. Their managers tell them to hype it up, grow closer together, get the people to believe they’re really a pair of childhood friends turned lovers. Their managers show the rumors circulating on social media about the two of them, timelines of strangers hoping and wishing and thinking that there’s something going on between D.Mon and D.Va.

They always sit next to each other.

They’ve been playing on the same team since forever!!

I heard D.Va wouldn’t join MEKA unless D.Mon did.

Look at the way they look at each other...There’s something there!

Then, pictures of the two of them next to each other at press conferences. The two sharing grins as they laugh over yet another close call with the omnics, joking about how it was ez. Hana cheekily smiling and waving as she poked her head into Yuna’s room whenever Yuna did a stream.

It was easy to have wishful thinking. Shining star D.Va, bright and cheery, with the lone wolf D.Mon, moody and cold. A perfect couple in the making.

Yuna grits her teeth, her jaw tight.

Do this, for your country. Fake a relationship with your friend so that the public loves you. Do it for God knows how long. Sacrifice your identity and be the ideal hero the world needs you to be.

They both end up agreeing to do it.

Because Yuna knows better than anyone that Hana would sacrifice everything for her country. Even herself.


 

It’s stupid, it’s cheesy. That’s what someone would have said if their life were a movie, and the star couple gets together after some life-threatening final battle.

And the movie always ends with happy endings. All the heroes, well and alive, celebrating the end of a war, and then the couple shares a warm and tender kiss in the light of the golden sunset.

But their life isn’t a movie.

It never has been.

Their life is war. And it’s never ending.

There’s no such thing as beautiful sunsets or thousands of pieces of confetti tossed into the air when they return home from a battle. Instead, the end of a battle simply means the end of another chapter of a novel written by some godforsaken demon.

Yuna lies in the cockpit of her meka, its glass screen cracked and flashing a dozen red warning signs and alarms. Darkness permeates the edges of her vision, and she vaguely registers it’s far past midnight by now; they must’ve been fighting for hours. She squints when helicopter spotlights shine down on her, blindingly white, and she hears the sound of soldiers prying off the locked pieces of her meka thrown under debris.

Finally, the glass cover lifts up above her and a hand reaches down to pull her out;  Yuna just barely manages to take it, and the soldier pulls her out, pulling her arm around his shoulders as he shouts a command at the rest of his squad to find the other members.

The ringing in her ears makes it hard to hear the buzz of radio chatter through her earpiece, but she manages to look up in time to see Hana running towards her, dodging and leaping over debris scattered about the ruined street.

Tears are in Hana’s eyes.

Yuna’s never seen that, before. Hana never cries.

Then, Hana is there, in front of her and Hana’s hands are cupping her face and Hana is leaning in close--

Yuna’s heart stops.

But then Hana presses a hard kiss to her cheek.

And somewhere amidst the cacophony of helicopters whirring overhead and soldiers shouting commands and emergency sirens ringing in the distance, a camera clicks.

When Hana throws her arms around Yuna’s neck and buries her face in her shoulder, Yuna hates that she feels just the smallest amount of disappointment in her heart.

For even with her busted lip and the cut across her eye and the tears in her uniform, Hana still shines brighter than any star.


 

The press, naturally, is a whirlwind of excitement. Their managers praise Hana of course, for taking advantage of the moment. Hero D.Va thinks the love of her life was about to die in their most epic battle yet, and admits her love just after the team claims victory.

Now their managers want them to spend some R&R out amongst the civilians, to fake some cute dates so the paparazzi can snag some photos and promote their relationship even more.

If Yuna weren’t so jaded, she might have said it felt nice to go out to town with Hana again, like old times. There were the times to the two of them had headed to the arcade after school to see who could get the highest score (again). Sometimes the quick pit stop at a convenience store to buy some snacks to eat on their walk home.

What Yuna likes most, though, as she and Hana hold hands and wait outside a restaurant, is seeing Hana’s more genuine, cheerful side again. When the two are seated, Yuna rolls her eyes as Hana immediately hits the dessert menu, entrees be damned. She idly stirs the straw in her drink, noticing out of the corner of her eye the not-so-subtle paparazzi peeking up over the cars parked across the street.

So Yuna grasps her menu in one hand and gestures for Hana to lean in; Hana does, and just as their faces are an inch apart, Yuna lifts the menu and folds it out, obscuring their faces from view.

And there -- the familiar camera clicks.

They don’t kiss, of course.

But when they both lean back and Yuna puts down her menu, thinking that she’s satisfied the paparazzi for today, she doesn’t notice the slight blush on Hana’s cheeks.


 

Afterward, the two go on an evening stroll along the pier. With Hana’s hand loosely in hers, Yuna tries not to think about how much this feels like old times, like when they’d walked home from school and Hana had grasped Yuna’s hand in hers to try and do whirling helicopter with their linked arms. Yuna had given her signature exasperated groan, trying to rip her hand out of Hana’s to no avail and the two ended up walking home looking like idiots with Hana frantically trying to swing their arms around as fast as possible without dislocating their shoulders.

Yuna misses all that, as much as she feigns irritation at Hana’s over-the-top stupidity. At least, back then, Hana’s smiles and laughs had been genuine and carefree.

Now, none of them would ever be carefree again.

They stop at an ice cream stand, with Hana flashing her signature puppy-eyes look and Yuna sighs as pays for the two of them to get matching D.Va and D.Mon popsicles. As Hana eagerly starts licking at hers, Yuna makes a face at her own because the popsicle looks less like herself and more like a five year old had drawn her face and encased it in ice.

Just when Yuna goes to take a tentative lick of her own popsicle, Hana shoves her ice cream into Yuna’s mouth, the ice knocking into Yuna’s teeth. A glowering, irritated Yuna shoots her an exasperated look as she presses a hand over her mouth, and Hana just gives her a cheeky grin in return.

Hana, all bright smiles, tells her once more to try a lick, as the popsicle tastes like bubblegum; without skipping a beat, she then takes a dramatic lick of Yuna’s D.Mon popsicle.

Strawberry?

Strawberry. Hana gives a contented hum as she continues to skip along Yuna’s side as they go down the boardwalk.

As they near the end of the boardwalk, Yuna notices that Hana has begun swinging their arms in more elongated arcs.

But then Hana turns to her with excitement in her face, and she asks Yuna if she remembers when they were kids, how they’d helicopter all the way home.

The question strikes Yuna speechless, because Hana rarely, if ever, mentions their childhood anymore. Hell, rarely any of them mentioned life long before they’d joined the pro-gaming scene. It was a life that had long been lost. One best shut behind closed doors, when they had a future to save.

When Yuna doesn’t answer, Hana laughs and stands on her tiptoes to press another kiss to Yuna’s cheek.

A spark of hope would have ignited in Yuna’s heart right then, had she not heard those all too familiar camera clicks once again.

It brings Yuna back to reality, away from her emotions, and she closes her heart again.


 

Somehow by some unspoken agreement between all five of them, the other three boys don’t mention the fake relationship. They had their own publicity stunts to handle too. And between her and Hana, there seems to be an unspoken agreement to drop all pretenses back at base.

Sometimes they’d sit next to each other when they ate, sometimes they wouldn’t. Sometimes they’d workout together, sometimes they wouldn’t. Just like usual, before their fake relationship started. The two would talk over the latest patch in their favorite game, or Yuna would roll her eyes and tease Hana once again for consuming an ungodly amount of her stupid brand chips. Sometimes Hana would do that dumb thing when Yuna would say something critical and Hana would say it back in a comical, mimicked fashion -- Yuna made sure to end the conversation there, throwing up her hands in defeat as Hana cackled madly behind her.

Like old friends. Just. With a fake relationship.

At least for Yuna, on some level, she maintains distance when they’re alone together.

And Hana does the same.

But their team is a family in its own way, and their fake relationship never quite got in the way of anything, thankfully.

All five of them got along with each other, of course; with a team like theirs, coordination and cooperation was key. When the five of them would sit down and play games together on the big screen in the common room, it’s the one time that any of them feel normal, like kids again. Laughter and teases and jeers as they all annihilate each other, or secure victory over another. Jae-eun with his clever smirk, Kyung-soo with his loud laugh, and Seung-hwa with his dramatic fist pumps.

Then, Hana’s laugh and stupid sound effects when she’d make a finger gun and point it at whoever she just destroyed.

Yuna likes those kinds of moments the most. When they could just kick back and relax, no required streams, just the five of them playing games together and doing what they’ve always loved.

At one point, she and Hana are teamed up to fight against Jae-eun and Kyung-soo. But, just like old times, nothing can quite pierce the formidable iron wall that was she and Hana. After a war of attrition, she and Hana score a victory as Jae-eun slumps back in his bean bag, running a hand through his white hair as Kyung-soo hurriedly cleans his glasses on his shirt, blaming some dirt on it for making him lose.

They all exchange their little teases and taunts, but when Seung-hwa opens a can of Nuka Cola and it explodes and shoots out a spurt of fizz into the air, they all burst out laughing.

A ping on Yuna’s phone says it’s her time to stream, and she gets up and gives a quick farewell to her teammates as she heads back to her room.

A few hours into her stream, Yuna hears her door open; but too deeply involved in her current match, she doesn’t look up until she sees a rapid number of messages explode in her chat.

D.Va?!??!

DVA

ITS DVA!!!

DVA DVA DVAVVSDVADSVDS

Yuna spares one second to look at her webcam preview on the screen and she sees Hana rustling around in her drawer of clothes behind her. Quickly allowing herself to die in the game, Yuna turns around for a moment to ask Hana--

Hana, with one of Yuna’s sports jerseys in her arms, turns and winks at the camera, giving a little peace sign before blowing a kiss at Yuna.

She just wanted to borrow Yuna’s clothes as pajamas.

Yuna whips back around to face her computer, her face as red as her jersey. She can’t say no. They’re dating.

The chat explodes with a bunch of heart emojis and exclamations of D.Vamon.

When Hana calls out a goodnight to Yuna with an added ‘see you later,’ her chat almost crashes.

But as Yuna returns to her game, giving some usual tsundere response to her viewers about she and Hana, she can’t help but think that Hana truly knew how to play the game, how to play the people, and how to play the public.

Hana is, in every sense of the word, a pro-gamer.

And Yuna hates that Hana is just as easily playing her heart like a fiddle.


 

A few days later, Yuna lies on her bed, scrolling through timelines on her phone.

She hears her door open, and she glances up to see Hana walking in.

And then Hana immediately begins digging through her drawers again.

Yuna sweeps her gaze around the room in an obvious fashion, eyebrows raised. There’s no stream today.

Hana nods in acknowledgement. She still wants to wear some of Yuna’s clothes.

Yuna doesn’t know how to respond to that, and Hana leaves Yuna’s room with two more of Yuna’s jerseys.


 

Another week, after a tough workout with Jae-eun, Yuna goes to her room with a towel around her neck and a sheen of sweat on her body. Already thinking of how nice it’ll be to take off her sweaty sports bra and shorts and take a nice, long, shower, Yuna instead walks into her room to see Hana lying in her bed.

Yuna stops in the doorway. Hana glances at her, pausing her mobile game for a second.

Their gazes meet.

Hana clears her throat and says her bedsheets and blanket are being washed.

Yuna glances behind her at the common room, with its couches and bean bags.

Then Hana shifts underneath Yuna’s red blanket. She goes back to playing her mobile game, saying something about how Yuna’s blanket is soft and that she’s cold in the common room.

Knowing better than to argue, Yuna sighs and grabs her shower things and an extra set of clothes, waving a shampoo bottle at Hana and saying she’d better be gone by the time she’s back.

So when Yuna does come back, Hana has gone. She ignores the disappointment in her chest.


 

But more and more things like that keep happening over the months. After battles, Hana comes and finds Yuna first, even before the cameras are allowed anywhere near the myriad of debris and ruined buildings. During press conferences, Hana sometimes scoots her chair a little closer to Yuna -- and maybe it’s wishful thinking on Yuna’s part, but sometimes she feels Hana’s hand brush her own underneath the table. During their simulated training exercises, Hana seems to peel for her more than usual.

It all makes Yuna’s heart race in her chest.

Because now the lines are blurring, and Yuna can’t figure out if she likes that or if she doesn’t.

But do this all, accept her affection, do this all for your country. Play with your own heart, for the sake of your country’s future. Dance with fire and step on needles, all so the people can have hope that love and unity can be found in even the most direst of situations.

It all sounds ridiculous, when Yuna bends over her schedule for the week that her managers had so carefully designed to allow she and Hana the maximum amount of time to be in public together. She and Hana were a hit success -- they had clothing brands now, advertising the lethal combo D.vamon, and there were rumors that the two of them would be characters in their favorite game. And the public was eating it all up, their entire country enamored with their two star heroes and girlfriends, D.Va and D.Mon.

Yuna glances up across the table to see Hana looking down at the schedule as well.

No one else would have noticed, but Yuna’s always known better.

She sees the slight stiffness in Hana’s jaw, the flash of something in her eyes.

They both end up agreeing with the options laid before them. They had to, for their country.


 

By the end of the week, Yuna definitely knows something is on Hana’s mind. Their last ‘date,’ Hana had been a little more absent minded than usual and thrown her bowling ball straight into the gutter. Then, on their walk to their car, Hana’s hand had felt unnaturally tight around her own.

That weekend, Yuna lounges on the couch in the common room, idly scrolling through timelines on her phone but not quite seeing the words as she mulls over how to ask Hana what’s bothering her. Their training exercises had been going well, they weren’t quite due yet for another omnic attack, and they didn’t have any scheduled interviews anytime soon either.

But then she abruptly feels a hand on her shoulder, and Yuna cranes her head back to see Hana’s face above her own.

A shiver runs down Yuna’s spine. The look on Hana’s face is almost inscrutable, her eyes dark with a hint of fierceness.

Yuna thinks she sees a kind of hunger, there, too. So she stutters, asking Hana what she needs.

Hana leans in close, again, her face just mere inches from Yuna’s.

Then, Hana’s hands are brushing her neck, calloused fingertips pressing lightly against her skin to tilt her head back even more.

Yuna’s heart pounds in her chest, so loudly she can barely hear herself whisper.

But there’s no cameras, or streams. No one’s watching.

Hana lets out an amused huff, a smirk playing across her lips -- just like when they were kids, and Hana knew of something that Yuna didn’t.

Hana’s lips are just an inch from Yuna’s, and she answers Yuna with two words.

You are.

When Hana kisses her, their faces framed by the curtain of Hana’s hair, Yuna drops her phone, forgetting everything as all her thoughts are wiped out by the mere feeling of Hana’s lips on her own.

Soft, and she tastes like bubblegum.


 

The next time they head into battle, the omnics screeches tearing through the air and their intercoms, Yuna feels something different in her heart as she charges into the fray.

Do it, for her.