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Let the games begin

Chapter Text

Your squad hadn’t intended to go to the market this match but as with every engagement in battle plans never lasted beyond first contact with the enemy. The jump had gone well, Gibraltar heading as jumpmaster and conferring quickly in the ship to land near the water treatment facility before launching into the arena below but what hadn’t gone well was the landing itself. Two teams had been slightly sharper in their descent and the firefight began in earnest before your team had even touched the ground.

Shots rang out across the way and soon the surrounding buildings were alive with competitors desperately looting anything they could find before they were eliminated in record time. Open doors were a sure sign of death just around the corner, but some desperate enough resorted to resolving problems with their fists. Wise enough to veer off course and avoid the conflict, Bloodhound lead the way with their heightened senses and scanners, a few bullets clipping what little looted armour they could find but no worse for wear. The stretch north from the water treatment to the market was a harsh run and dangerous, little cover provided for the distance travelled but for a brief moment- luck was on your side.

The dropship and jumpship had stayed away from the market’s location, leading most teams to seek loot elsewhere and leave this small treasure trove of temporary safety alone. Gibraltar sprints in, laughing at the fortunate circumstance and claiming dibs on the first shotgun found while you followed a close second, eager to find something to compliment your more distant fighting style. Bloodhound was last, closing the door behind you and ensuring the squad would at least get an audible warning before shit kicked off again should the other squads followed you here. It was an efficient team with how well the skill sets complimented each other, loot being distributed quickly but fairly, each champion scouring the different sections of the abandoned building.

“Triple-Take here,” Bloodhound pinged quietly over the comm line, a few rooms down from where you were currently rooting through the storage areas. In an instant the opportunity was ceased, calling dips before Gibraltar even had the chance to jokingly claim it. The door was opened with a haste few could match, sprinting the whole way before sliding in and snatching it up with a grin, energy ammo and all.

“Thanks,” you nod, a tad too overenthusiastic to find your favourite gun so early in the match. Bloodhound for their part simply nodded back, sliding an attachment onto their Wingman and reloading a partially empty clip with something full. Without a further word another box of energy ammo was tossed your way, catching it with a curious look before they were already moving on.

By the time the second circle had been announced, your entire team was equipped with standard level one armour and helmets, load out at least somewhat customised.

You were the first to leave the building, checking the map briefly. A holo camera floats past, getting a shot of the squad forming a plan as they emerge from the building in cover. “We’re inside the circle but no doubt the squads are gonna catch up better kitted out than us. Shall we ambush or head to the bridges?”

“Good question. Bridges ain’t far- might be a good bet to make our way over before the ‘zone gets too hot,” Gibraltar replies with an almost idle scratch to the underside to his chin. It seemed almost out of place in the games as the sound of gunfire not too far away echoed over the desert ridges and beyond.

“I would suggest we move forwards then, the gods have already blessed us with a fortunate bounty,” The hunter states with a jerk of their gun to the market. “We have yet to shed bloth in tribute for their gifts.”

The sound of a sniper shot made it through your shocked senses faster than the pain did.

Someone had looted a supply drop apparently and gotten a Kraber because it had ripped through your purple armour in an instant, dropping you to the floor with a sharp cry against mud and stone as you fumbled for your knockdown shield, gloved hands slick with deep red.

How had they seen you? You were deep in the bushes of the upper cascades having moved up from the bridges once the circle closed in again, three quarters cover from anything to the North and East. Grunting in agony you clutched your stomach and activated the blue shield, roughly marking the location of the sniper through squinted eyes.

“I’m down-“ you get out through harsh breaths as more shots pepper your shield. “Sniper! to the SouthEast!”

What happened from there was too fast to see. The telltale sound of a zipline being used and the accompanying metallic footsteps meant Pathfinder was around, and both Gibraltar and Bloodhound were occupied dealing with the enemies below. Your palms hurt from gripping the shield so tightly, crawling through the still wet mud of rainfalls past. The footsteps were getting closer, moving at a sprint now. Then the sound of Bloodhound unleashing their ultimate cracked through the air like a forcefield, the feral energy of their roar palpable across the battlefield to where you were. Even in your bleeding out state and rapidly blurring vision it gave you shivers, causing you to cringe in discomfort. The sounds of explosions and bursts of rapid fire weapons scarily close- the darkness eating at your vision...

Then for a brief moment silence.

You thought you had already expired until gentle warmth touched your side and was already preparing to administer an adrenaline and nanite syringe.

The prickle of their ultimate was unmistakable- Bloodhound was by your side and with a care and precision most champions lacked pricked your chest with the syringe. Life flooded you like a tidal wave- the hum of a tile like shield coming to life around you a sign that Gibraltar had also caught up and was providing cover fire. A tense breath tore from your chest that you didn’t even know you were holding, feeling the flesh that had been pierced knitting together unnaturally fast and the relief that you were at least safe from death for now. Praise modern medicines and nanite tech. Even if it was questionable in origin.

The hunter though was by your side the entire ordeal, pressing the plunger down steadily instead of letting the force of recovery shock your system like everyone else. Some people wanted it- but it had never felt good to you. The wild buzz it brought on when done too was left your aim unsteady and an impatient itch caught your trigger finger. It was... Tender, how they helped you up from the ground, grasp of your hand lingering a little longer than necessary with their head half turned, still vigilant even now. A phoenix cell was pressed into your grasp leaving no room for negotiation, their inscrutable mask giving away nothing of their expression or thoughts. “Take it.”

 

“...Thank you,” You echo yourself from earlier a little lost for your words in the moment. Your gaze looks them over for some kind of answer that was likely never going to show itself before Bloodhound was already on the move again, leaving the shield’s safety with little hesitation. There were still 5 people left, 2 enemy squads in total. This is where every move was important. There was no room for error. Healing up and back in the action, you reloaded your Triple-take and steadied your breaths, running to new cover after being compromised. From the corner of your eye, a trio of lootboxes below glimmered purple and blue, Bloodhound efficiently searching through as Gibraltar kept watch on the Bunker.

Looks like the circle wasn’t going to be quite so forgiving today- it was favouring the realm of the smaller shacks further up stream, and a team had absolutely head that way earlier. “Gotta move Brotha’s! Ring’s not far!” The human tank of a man calls out through the comm line, already making his way forwards to the next circle with large hasted steps. The ring was about to collapse in again, and they were in danger of being caught out in the plasma.

This was going to be a tense conclusion indeed.

Chapter Text

Being on top of the ranks had its benefits and pitfalls.

The downfall was having to deal with the press and media constantly picking apart who Bloodhound was, pawing at their image for answers and at times committing acts of legal consequence to try and find out some shred of truth of their mysterious identity. Who were they? Were they even human? Were they male or female? So many questions, like vultures circling a carcass that the lions weren’t done with just yet. This didn’t even include having no privacy the moment they left their home, enduring the merchandise of their likeness plastered everywhere for the adoring masses to purchase and being likened to a god.

They were no god- they were the instrument of one and the difference between such statuses were significantly important and distinct.

Allfather give them strength though were there benefits. Ones that far outweighed the cons of such a prestigious position in a controversial blood sport the masses clamoured for whether they admitted to it or not. News reached Bloodhound first, whether through eager fans sharing leaks online or through the grapevine of various champions hosted at the arena venues. Information found them one way or another and information was power.

You needed information after all to know where to hunt, what a prey’s weaknesses were, when to begin the search. So many tiny facets of information that made the tracker the ultimate competitor of the Apex Games that so many took for granted or overlooked. Know your competition? You know your odds of winning and how to form strategy. So simple in theory but research was just as time-consuming as the training itself. There were so many divisions of the Apex Games now that the competitors numbered in the hundreds, and that was just the main circle of active fighters.

With slots so sought after for the main Apex Games that was broadcast across the galaxy you had to be good enough to wow the crowd and stand out one way or the other for good reasons, or have an incredibly wealthy sponsor to back up your very bold claims and skills. The games didn’t need extra controversy than they already had. The top 60 were the biggest targets. They were the reoccurring threats with every new match and constantly needed surveillance to ensure they hadn’t gained any new tricks. The champions were under constant pressure to impress after all, and Bloodhound was still the winner most matches.

One very nice benefit which came to light recently was when an old competitor retired, having had their fill of the fame and fortune and instead came you. Full of life, vibrant- but absolutely deadly.

The hunter first came across you when studying the smaller less well known leagues of the Apex Games for those still rising in fame and making a name for themselves. Lethe, nimble and focused you climbed your way up with your unique set of skills not yet seen before in the blood soaked arenas of the Apex Games. Able to scramble the communications of nearby enemies and set false pings for hostile squads, your precision aim and sword muted any sounds of struggle before they could even know you were there. So many squads were eliminated before they could understand what exactly was going on, deafened and blinded by their HUD display before the signature shortsword ended their life in an instant, flame snuffed.

It was... Incredible.

Watching how quickly this mysterious woman rose in fame, giving so little of herself away despite not having a mask had Bloodhound entranced, investing time into watching matches and replaying fights from every angle available. The lack of warning before the strike, versed perfectly in the nature of the encounter as your whole squad moved as one. THIS was a warrior Bloodhound was excited to fight against- perhaps even have on their squad and shed bloth together in the ring. It was frankly mesmerising to watch you move, never wasting a gesture or a breath and never far from where your squad needed you.

The day you entered the big leagues as one of the new Apex Champions was something you’d never forget. Your arrival had been watched by not just Bloodhound- everyone had eyes on this newbie, prying eyes trying to figure them out. You were even more imposing in person despite not being super tall. Your slightly short stature had a few snickering, but the gait of your walk never changed on the tour through the new place of residence for all the champions and its facilities. Glancing over just long enough to look over the hunter as you passed, Gibraltar and Lifeline flanking either side during the use of the armoury staring back not unfriendly- but with the gaze of one competitor assessing the other. In those eyes of yours, a look of calm calculation and acknowledgement.

It was seeing you in person for the first time that Bloodhound knew they were in trouble.

---

Bloodhound kept watch for you specifically in your first match and if their squad noticed, they kept quiet.

It was a good thing too- you’d wasted no time becoming the Killleader and promptly destroying a fair few squads in the first hour or two after jumping into a battlezone. Clearly they had not done their research on you yet as your squad climbed in the ranks. It wasn’t until the top 5 squads were left that you crossed their path on the battlefield and if Wraith hadn’t been in the hunter’s line of sight when you struck? They might never have seen you at all.

It was over in a matter of seconds, sliding down the hills of the Bridges and leaping at the very last moment to launch yourself after them and knock Wraith down with a well aimed Arc star. The rest of your squad were 3 seconds behind you, the sound of gunfire crackling across the battlefield as Bloodhound’s teammates caught sight of your team too. Experiencing your hacking first hand was disorientating- but the beast of the hunt burnt in Bloodhound’s veins and showed him the true path gifted by the gods. There was so escaping his sight now, engaging your squad with the intent to win. This was no different than hunting in the wilds and taking down new bigger prey.
It seemed you had taken notice too, ducking behind cover and launching grenades to provide cover fire as your squad moved to a new position. Gibraltar laughed in the frenzy of battle, shield deploying on top of Lifeline’s drone to provide mobile cover, the medic ducking inside to recover some of her own health. Bloodhound’s team had the highground that was true, but they had an urge to meet you head on.

Sprinting out from the cover of safety the hunter slid down the zipline to the water of the shallow river below, Alternator in hand and ready to fire as the masked figure slid across the most dangerous part of the river to the other side where somewhere your team had taken cover. Another blast of your hacking had Bloodhound flinch for a moment and that was all it took for a hail of bullets to disintegrate half their shields and shatter a single lens on their mask with a horrifying crunch of glass. They could feel blood dripping inside the mask from where the lucky shot had clipped the hunter’s helm, a hand coming to clutch at the broken lens briefly. “I am being shot!” The hunter exclaimed to their team with their thick accent, firing back as their senses returned and the path of your steps became clear on the ground. A strip of gauze was snatched from one of their many pockets and applied over the eye, healing with an emergency stim before another wave of shots popped off but this time Bloodhound was ready, darting away before they could connect and charging forward in your direction.

You could hear the footsteps getting closer and with a swear you marked an enemy closing in on your ping before the sound of a teammate being downed caught your ears, promptly killed as an explosion followed the noise.

The ensuing fire fight was something Bloodhound would remember for months to come, adrenaline pumping through their system like a needle directly to the heart. So rare was a true challenge that when it happened, it stuck in their mind obsessively. The Allfather had gifted him quarry worth hunting and in payment blood was demanded. Nobody had broken Bloodhound’s mask before.

---

You came to in the dropship, the medics telling you to lay still as they checked your body for lingering damages any nanites had missed. You remember a firefight, tracking down Wraith across half the map and then-

Bloodhound.

You’d been killed just barely, caught out by your squad dying earlier than you and reinforcements from Bloodhound’s squad cornering you in a place with no cover or ziplines. A terse breath left your lungs. Second place out of 20 squads was respectable- but the lack of backup because of others charging ahead to go after downed champions was frustrating. Surroundings first, then cleanup duty.

With a groan you sat up, feeling sluggish with a hint of vertigo as the medics cleared you to sit up and warned you that first resurrections were always the worst. You didn’t believe them.

It was being allowed to join the rest of the groups in the other rooms of the dropship however that a new sense of inspection washed over your form. The chatter of the various squads didn’t cease, but curious eyes with a new found sense of respect (or bitterness with their early loss at your hands) gazed over you in passing, eager to see just how you handled such a close loss. You didn’t react, simply nodding to those you had fought and made your way over to the squad you were given this match, sitting as the vessel made its descent to the facility below.

You did however feel the burning of eyes on your form. Intense, unwavering in their stare and when you looked? It was Bloodhound. A ragged and bloodstained bandage had been tied over one of their masks lenses, the entire ship giving a wide berth around the seemingly injured hunter. Lifeline had offered to inspect the wound but was curtly turned away with a polite shake of their head. “The damage is already healed. I am simply covering my broken mask.” The aura that was coming from them however was intense, almost scarily focused at you. Some of the squads snickered amongst themselves, mentioning you’d already pissed off the current reigning number one.

You merely stared back with an unreadable expression, unflinching in your gaze as you smudged an imaginary line over your eye on the same side Bloodhound was covering with your thumb.

They looked away at that.

---

The coming days had Bloodhound distracted and everyone who knew them well enough could tell. They themselves knew it, inexplicably worked up by this new player that had arrived only a week earlier had come so perilously close to winning. They were only beaten because of seasoned veterans that knew the map better than her, an incompetent squad wanting to boost their kill count and Bloodhound themselves. Either it was an incredible case of beginner’s luck- or you really were that good.

Either way, the sponsors rolled in, jumping on the chance to cease this seemingly too-good-to-be-true rising star before they were snapped up by larger corporations and other sponsorships. Your number of fans rose in the hundreds of thousands over night and people were more than a little jealous of the jump from 60th to 55th in the Apex Games. Nobody had had such a miraculous kickstart since Gibraltar, and he had been running in the games for a long time now, long enough to be considered a veteran.

Bloodhound for their part watched like they always did, observing quietly as the instant fame pressed down on your shoulders, thinking about more than just asking to spar as you came across each other in one of the training rooms, battling your squad mates in full contact sparring. The battle before wasn’t enough in the arena. It wasn’t intimate enough for the hunter, not getting the chance to lay their hands on you in true hand to hand battle like the early stages of the competition where everyone was desperately trying to stay alive before guns were pulled from chests and lootboxes. The sting of physical contact paled in comparison to a bullet, but anyone could fire a gun.

True skill was taking your foes down unarmed, using their attributes against themselves. Bloodhound wanted to touch, to fight this valkyrie who hadn’t backed down and even stared them in the face as she drew a line over the eye she had wounded. Not an ounce of fear, even after her death at the hunter’s hands. So watching you train absently while waiting for the room, the hunter observed quietly against the wall, a deep sense of want pulsing through their core whenever you took down another foe, crossing their arms defensively to cover just how completely you had snared the hunter into becoming so attracted to you while you barely noticed they were there. The hunter’s fist clenched with their heart as you laughed, helping your friend up from the mat after pinning them down from the brief struggle. You were far too good at that and for a moment the mind wandered to what it might be like to be the one pinned-

...Allfather give them strength, this was going to be a long session.

---

“Are you going to continue staring or actually fight?” You called out to the figure in the corner, still waiting for the room long after your squadmates had left. Nobody else was around, already off to go relax as the clock had long spanned past 6pm, the usual time people clocked out for the day and headed off to enjoy the benefits being a Champion of the Apex Games offered whether that be booze, sex or recreational uses of various drugs. When you were paid to die on a bi weekly basis, regular rules stopped applying to you.

Bloodhound for their part perks up slowly, uncrossing their arms and standing to their full height. They were every bit as imposing in real life as they looked on the screens, the lens that was previously broken now repaired as though it never happened.

“Observing the competition is training of the mind, Félagi fighter.” Bloodhound murmurs, stepping closer. They don’t miss the subtle defensive stance you assume, pausing in their approach. A snake ready to strike at any sudden moves- the hunter was familiar with the posturing.

“It’s also considered rude to stare or not ask to watch. Which you’ve been doing a lot of lately since I arrived- i’m not blind.” You throw back, suspicious and scowling. This masked figure was an enigma and you didn’t like that- you liked to study the opposition but Bloodhound gave away nothing, even their form was shrouded in mystery.

They dip their head. “My apologies vinur if I have come off as offensive. It wasn’t my intention-“

“Fight me,” You cut them off, face set in determination. It gives the hunter pause, taken aback. “You want to know me so bad? Fight me. That’s what you’ve been doing right? Learning about my fighting style, studying how to take me down.” You approach, daring to poke a finger into the padded armour of their chest. “Show me what you learnt, ‘Félagi’. Take me down if you can- or are you still shaken from that shot to your mask?”

Never before had Bloodhound knew they were in too deep.

Chapter Text

Octane had a strange duality to him. One few thought existed until you got close enough to the 24 year old daredevil outside of the arena. He lived for the attention and ate it up endlessly; basking in what his parents never gave him despite all the money in the world.

Hundreds of thousands of adoring fans kept him most days feeling on top of the world, itching for the next stunt and racing 100 miles an hour tunnel vision to the next challenge. Today wasn’t one of those days, as a quiet text from him said as much.

O: Hey. You free? It’s a real slow day today, amigo.

A slow day- code words between friends to let you know he wasn’t doing so hot. You, Lifeline and Octane shared the term, keeping tabs on the reckless speedster when he needed it being his closest friends in the competition. The Apex Games were pretty lavish in their medical treatments and psychiatric help but some things just couldn’t be healed with a syringe or medication. You texted him back within the minute, knowing how impatient he got.

R: Yeah, i’m free. I’ll be there to let myself in your place shortly. Need Ajay too?

Less than a few seconds go by before he’s already typing again.

O: Maybe. Just you for now? Bring booze.
R: You aren’t allowed to tell me off if i’m slow then
O: <3

You snorted at the use of a heart, and closed your phone. Booze it would be then, and a standby text to Lifeline as a warning that she might be requested later. If there was one thing the place where the Games hosted the Champions though, it was the wide variety of things to do inbetween downtime. Bars, shops, cinema. It was an entire mini city just for the competitors, vendors and sponsors.

The general public were mostly kept out with exceptions of when tours were given, and for now the place was silent enough. Not many were out and about this early in the afternoon in favour of training, so finding a place that did some tasty beers was easy enough. The holotram was barren, not a single other soul on board other than a few maintenance bots that cheerily waved as you boarded.

The walk to Octane’s apartment was quiet too, passing Gibraltar and Mirage with a smile who were currently wearing a hilariously over the top Hawaiian shirts that matched. “Happy hour catch you two early?” You comment in passing, the human tank of a man booming with laughter. “Something like that. Tell you more later,” he waves on his merry way, Mirage commenting something about being able to beat him in something as they walked to where you came from.

You didn’t even bother knocking at this point, texting him you were less than a minute out and coming in. The smell of medical weed hits you the moment you walk in making you wrinkle your nose, but you don’t judge. The place itself was actually kind of clean compared to the usual hap-hazardous mess Octane tended to leave stuff when he was rushing around in the morning. Coffee pots in the bedroom, dinnerplates on top of the TV- nothing disgusting, just things placed weirdly. Today, nothing was out of place, which wasn’t a good sign.

“Buenas tardes! Where were you?” Octane calls from his bedroom, immediately starting his playful tirade of how he could of ran there and back in less than a quarter of the time it took you to get here.

The soft groan that accompanies however gives you more to worry about than your witty insults though, setting the crate of beers down next to the frankly massive bed and seating yourself next to the speedster. Both prosthetics were off, mask gone and instead of his usual outfit revealing most of his midriff, Octavio was wearing a loose fitting band shirt with long sleeves that came to the wrist covering his ‘plus ultra’ tattoo, and baggy pyjama pants which were tied off at the stump where his knees should be. He was sprawled across the bed, somehow taking up most of the space despite his lanky form with a plume of black and neon green bed hair. Equally green eyes gazed up at you as the moment of pain passed, and kicking off your shoes you welcomed how Octane curled into your reassuring hold.

“It fucking hurts today,” he grunts against your chest, arms tightening every so often when a new phantom pain wracked his lithe frame. “Weed didn’t do shit. Can’t stop pain that shouldn’t exist-“ he bites his lip as a particularly painful wave hits him and you stroke along his back, encouraging him to breath steadily through it.

“Something had to nerf you. You’d be too strong otherwise,” You comment idly and he laughs, tense muscles relaxing just a touch.

“No kidding. If I was good always? Not even Bloodhound could stand in my way.” A glimmer of his usual arrogant self shows through and you roll your eyes, smilling. It was always about the fans and the attention, being the best and showing it off to any who would listen. His tone is cut off by another wave, and Octane buries his face against your next with a curse. A few moments pass.

“I got numbing cream in the cabinet to my left, think you can get it for me?” He asks, teeth grit. You nod wordlessly and the speedster reluctantly releases your form and replaces it temporarily with a pillow. “Bottom drawer,” he groans, accent slurred from the pain. It’s easy enough to find, a few other medications nudged to the side until you find the tube. He has no shame tugging off his pants in his aggravation with the pain so the amputated stumps are visible, clad in just his shirt and boxers now. You waste no time rejoining Octane on the bed, cream already prepped for use.

“All over? Or just on the worst of it?” You ask softly, and he just nods to the first one. “Sí all over- it all fucking hurts and I don’t want to feel anymore,” He crawls onto your lap with some assistance and you don’t protest as he clings for some form of physical reassurance, arms draped around your neck loosely. So few had seen him so vulnerable, it honestly heartbreaking to see him this low. You get to work applying ointment to the scarred legs around your waist, ever so gentle at first as even the softest touch had Octavio tensing under your ministrations until the beginnings of numbness had him deflating into you, sagging in relief and a deep sigh tickles your neck.

The worst of the damage was the very end, and the moment it was slathered in the cream he outright groaned. A faint flush came to your face at the sound but nothing was said, keeping your composure calm.

“You good?” Your voice is kept quiet and you can feel the nod against your neck, limp in your arms.

“Todo bien. God… Wish I asked sooner- fuck the other stuff.” He murmurs a little bitterly. “Bullshit dealer will get his due, I know that.”

For awhile the two stayed just cuddling, Octane basking in the close contact and relief from pain and you enjoying the company. Idly you stroked fingers through his wild Mohawk, causing the speedster to lean into the touch. “You’re the best, you know that right?” He murmurs quietly in the silence of the apartment. “You, Ajay and me? The three musketeers. I got my fans sure- but they ain’t you. And they don’t know me like you do.”

You laugh softly, and Octane feels his heart flutter just a bit. “Coming from you that’s a big compliment. You sure you want to boost my ego like that even if my ass is slower than yours?”

He cackles, the usual grin back on his face. “Yeah well, don’t get to used to it eh? I’m admitting it to nobody if they ask.” You raise an eyebrow at that, moving back just enough to smirk in their face.

“Guess all those beers are mine then bitch.” His own smug smirk fades as he realises the trap he lead himself into and he points a finger at you accusingly as he’s promptly evicted from your lap. “Ey! Some of those are mine!” You extract two bottles from the crate by side of the bed and wiggle them tauntingly. “Oh yeah? Who’s the slow ass now?” You grin as he glares from the bed and he mutters a few curses, chucking a pillow at your face. You dodge and instead he turns to sulking, realising he wasn’t winning this round.

“Catch,” you relent, chucking one for him to have as you saunter into the kitchen for a bottle opener. You hear a woop of excitement from the other room as he realises you got his favourite brand, and a genuine thank you. “Where’d you put the bottle opener this time?” You call out, trying to track down the elusive thing. “Try on top of the microwave- I forgot to put it back last night!” Octane shouts back, snatching the thing from its hiding place and returning to the bedroom with one of the best friends you have. When you returned, he had his pants back on, looking comfy as can be with a few pillows cushioning either side to ensure nothing irritated them.

Beers opened, TV turned on and cuddling side by side Octane flicks through for something fun to watch, while you make a point of having the numbing gel on standby and texting Ajay all was fine in the end. She was welcome to join for beers if she was free though. It wasn’t the most active or productive day, slowly getting drunk with a crate of beers and cackling over shitty action films but that was fine- even the fastest Champions had off days, and needed to shift gears for awhile.

You don’t remember falling asleep later in the evening, or Octane pressing a kiss to your forehead before passing out himself, but it was nice to know you had people you could trust with just about anything, and that Octane had someone to fall back on when the adrenaline started to fade.

Chapter Text

The last match had been a true challenge from start to finish.

It wasn’t often Bloodhound was pushed so hard just to stay alive but with the new arena the landscape was unfamiliar and everyone was desperate to claim the first win of the new season. Newcomer Champions were eager to prove themselves by killing the long standing reigning champion too, so the entire match had been a cluster of confusion and running for their life which had Bloodhound wilting on their feet by the time the final squad was dealt with.

Taking a knee, they panted from the exertion and reclaimed their stamina as the dropships came down in droves to pick up the fallen champions bodies and banners. Once the cameras stopped rolling cleanup crews began running out, medics in droves to assess the state of individuals and see just how much recovery time they’d need.

Even then there was post match ‘recovery’ (you were given stims and that was about it if you were already alive), speaking to the press to be scheduled, winnings to collect- it was far too much sometimes for someone not as social as the others. Bloodhound preferred to be left to work in their close-knit squad and save the press for someone as social and easy to speak to as Gibraltar or Lifeline. They were naturally talented in the ways of words, while the hunter was talented in serving as the instrument of the Allfather. Carrying out their will as a harbinger of death like the ravens that followed their call, telling them of the things each bird had discovered.

The trip home was a slow one, feet dragging with every step under the heavy gear and heavy blanket of exhaustion that clung to Bloodhound, tempting them to lie down and fall asleep on the sidewalk. It wouldn’t be the first time they had fallen asleep in questionable places, in the wilds it was a necessary skill to be able to rest in uncomfortable locations that were safe and wake up at the first sound of movement.

Many hunts were days long, and it was a test of endurance for each.

You on the other hand weren’t in today’s Apex Game. You’d been called away for advertising and press purposes on another planet on the frontier which was far more peaceful, showing people what a Champion looked like in the press and opening one of the new chain of merchandise, officially licensed to be sold to the general public. It varied from strange things like bullet casings from the rings or collectable replicas to something like Bloodhound’s mask (an unsurprising favourite) to things like posters, prop weapons from the ring and of course plushies. There was a surprising amount of diversity it made you wonder just who they had hired recently to have such a boost to their fan lines.

You may of purchased a few of those plushies though- to tease the other champions later with their own likeness.

The best part was you got to meet the fans and depending on who’s merch it was? They got a cut of the sales. The fans were probably the funnest part of the job other than landing that perfect headshot. So many things signed, hands shaken and hugs given. Pictures posed for, voice lines recorded and then there was the actual press conference. Needless to say, a busy day in its own right. The stark opposite of Bloodhound however, who dragged themselves to your front door in the Champion’s residency.

Few knew of the kinship you two shared, and the trust that had developed from it. For good reason- people knew not to fuck with Bloodhound but you were far more approachable. It was that reason why you were often selected for being the representative of the Apex Games to the press. It started with polite conversation, like all bonds do.

Occasional crossing of paths for shopping, delivering gifts if you found something they would appreciate… And many, many matches watching their back on overwatch (no, not the game) across the battlefield. You were the calm backbone of the squad, gazing over the horizon line for enemies and ensuring a key advantage point away from the certain death battlezones in the beginnings of the match.

Few in the games valued sniper rifles and map positioning for what they were, having close or midrange skills instead so the time spent watching over your squad was something Bloodhound valued.

You’d won them more than a few victories out there in the field due to a well placed bullet to the last squad alive.

The very same easy going nature you showed with the press made it easy for Bloodhound to naturally fall in step with you, never prying, always ensuring you were respectful. Now, it was common to have them drop by your apartment or share a training room, shoulder to shoulder practicing and talking.

Today was one of those days. Bloodhound knocked before walking in, closing the door with a soft click before searching for you.

“That you Bloth?” You ask softly, and the appearance of the hunter in your bedroom doorway reassures you in an instant. They however looked dreadful, almost literally a dead man walking. “God they pushed you though it today didn’t they?” You stand, beckoning them to sit on the bed as you take their hand gently and lead them forwards. The half grunt half sigh as they sink into the plush bed has you pursing your lip, waiting for them to speak up. Eventually they do, head slanted towards the floor making their masked visage even more unreadable if that was possible. In the dimmer light of the room with the TV turned down low, it was almost domestic.

They were still decked out in their arena armour, keeping up appearances for the other Champions and Sponsors that had a stake in ensuring the competitor kept up their persona even outside of the ring. For most that wasn’t an issue…

“Victory was ours, elskan. The Allfather granted us his blessing on this day,” Bloodhound begins, to which they sigh again. “It was chaos in motion, I don’t see myself so eager to fight again so soon.” They confess and with a heavy hand begin fumbling with the bandoleer that they wore across their heavy coat and armour.

“Let me help…” You hum quietly, dexterous fingers making quick work of the fastening their gloves prevented detail accuracy. “You keep talking, i’ll fetch your casual stuff you left around last time and if you want I can give you a massage. You look ready to sleep but you look tense enough to appear as though you’re still in the hunt.” They quietly nod, shoulders sagging suggesting relief flooding their system.

“Vinsamlegast… I would deeply appreciate it. Thank you,” They add on at the end, a hand touching your shoulder to which you smiled.

“You’re welcome. Now let’s get rid of those heavy plates and I’ll leave you to change in privacy when you’re able to do the rest yourself.” Bit by bit Bloodhound’s armour was peeled away, shedding the heaviest parts of the get up and enjoying the closeness of the moment. The mask, pants and padded coat stayed on, them beginning to take off their gloves a sign it was time to get their other attire. “You left it in the guest room right?” You ask as you turn away, getting up to fetch the more comfortable bits of their wardrobe they left here on purpose. They had stayed multiple nights over the course of your relationship and had begun to start migrating parts of their entire wardrobe to your guest room. Likewise, some of your clothes had found their way to the hunter’s home, always neatly folded and washed for whenever you came over to use them.

Small signs of trust which had Bloodhound at ease with how simple it was to make it all work.

“They are. I left them in the small wardrobe hanging up, if you don’t mind,” they murmured with a touch of rarely seen embarrassment at making themselves so at home in your establishment. You laugh waving a hand and closing the door pointedly looking away. A simpler mask without the tubing and uncomfortable filters to rest in, a thick padded hoodie and loose bottoms. Nothing fancy or ridiculous, just enough to cover their face and body without being too warm or cold. You’d long accepted that their face was something nobody was allowed to see, or it had to be covered for medical reasons. Why was none of your business, and you didn’t intent to make it your business either.

A soft knock at the door indicated you were coming in, opening it just enough to place their items on the floor and leave again. The room was pitch black from what you could see, but you swore you could have seen a hint of a red glow…

The door was opened when they were ready, and taking the silent cue you returned to their side and smiled at their much more comfortable looking form. Their hunting outfit was neatly laid out on your dresser chair, themselves somewhat awkwardly sitting on the edge of your bed. “Lie down lie down,” you beckon with a smile, encouraging them to lie on their stomach. “I promised a massage and one you shall get my dear hunter,” you laugh softly as they move with your instruction, pillows shifted to cushion their arms they rested their head on, hood fully drawn over the mask. “Just let me know if something hurts, to be gentler or a little firmer ok? I don’t want to aggravate an injury you got from today if you have any.”

“Þakka þér fyrir…” Bloodhound murmurs sounding already half asleep as you position yourself above them, thighs either side of their wide back and hands slowly working down the neck and shoulder blades with a perfect firmness to the touches. The thickness of the hoodie made it difficult to tell much about their body other than they were definitely muscular which was to be expected. Everyone in the Apex Games was expected to keep themselves in peak condition and nothing less.

The results appeared rapidly as sighs and groans made their way to your ears, a subtle flush coating your face from the sounds. Their entire body began to relax into the attention, finally understanding that the hunt was over and it was time to settle.

“Good?” You ask quietly in the dimness of the room, unable to see even their mask from this angle. They nodded with a soft moan. “You spoil me, ástin mín.” A laugh bubbles up in your throat, shifting lower to get the small of their back next. “Nonsense. You were so tense you looked ready to fight a whole new battle; you deserve some love and relaxation too. Besides, I happen to enjoy doting on my mysterious lover,” you joke, but the quiet purr like rumble that forms in their chest and throat lets you know that they loved every single word you just said.

A series of pops from their back surprise you as you finally work out an incredibly stubborn knot and the outright moan catches you off guard. “Guði sé lof…” Bloodhound gets out, melting completely as the seemingly biggest point of trouble and tension leaves them. Now they are all soft sighs and quiet rumbles of appreciation, like tamed thunder under your hands. It was… extremely cute seeing them like this. Apex Champion, mysterious master hunter, weapon of the Allfather! All putty in your capable and dexterous hands. Certain that you had done a brilliant job, you carefully roll off their back and in an instant a hand grips at your wrist, tugging you over to cuddle.

“Come here, Elskan,” They murmur in the quiet of the room. Your form is pulled to their chest, even now without their hunter outfit so much bigger than you. Their arms wrap around you with ease, encasing you in a wall of protection that felt so right in the candlelit dimness of the bedroom. “Let me hold you.”

“Feeling better?” You whisper with a smile, and your reply was a low throaty chuckle.

“Much. Don’t think you’ll get away with straddling me like that when I am awake next though ástin mín,” They hum pleasantly with the promise of something much more heated in the future. It sends a flood of warmth to all the right places, familiar with what they meant. Their gloved hand traces patterns along the lower part of your back, causing you to arc into their touch with a gentle smack against the thick upper section of their arm. “Tease!” You accuse with a mock glare, and they are laughing now. “Perhaps. You shouldn’t spoil me so with your body pressed against mine like it was if you don’t like it,” They suggest innocently and you shake your head.

“Not gonna happen. Now blindfold me and kiss me you fool, before I decide to take matters into my own hands and make good on a threat you can’t carry through with tonight,” You pointedly trail a hand to their belly and slowly lower, causing their breath to hitch. “You don’t have to do any work, just let me spoil you.”

You can see the temptation taking effect, their grasp tightening a little more around you almost possessively.

“I never thought you so greedy,” They comment playfully, fingers running through your hair and softly gripping as though wishing to ravage your lips. You knew the telling signs; this was hardly your first time tormenting the secretive hunter. “Do not tempt me so.”

You smile sweetly, with a mischievous glint in your eyes.

Chapter Text

Caustic was… Tough to get along with. Make no mistake he was amicable enough to warn his team when deploying gas traps in the ring, but anything beyond that was a stretch. Considering the bizarre and borderline psychotic phrases he came out with and likely meant every word most tended to stay as far away as possible but for some unfathomable reason (to others) not you. You had sought the scientist out, requested to be on his squad for the next match and for a very brief moment there was a subtle pause to the condescending tone the man used with just about everybody. Glancing you over they were very clearly considering it with serious thought, a hand coming to his beard.

“Your recent performances have been significant to your jump in rank, that much I concede…” He replies eventually with one last harsh and critical look, like a doctor observing its new lab rat. Likely that’s exactly what Caustic thought of you. Exhaling quietly as though this were a chore to the chemical specialist he crosses his arms. “…Very well. I expect your peak performance in the next match, do not disappoint me.”

The comment was a half threat, half demand as Caustic turned and carried on his way after you had stopped him. Releasing a tense sigh you had no idea you were holding you laugh to yourself in relief- then condemned yourself to be shouted at by Ajay the next time you saw her. You scratched absently at your stubble, and send her a text about what just happened.

A: I KNOW YA GAY, BUT NOT A DISTASTER GAY. WTF?!

“Time to slow it down!” You shouted in the midst of the gunfire, throwing down your portable time manipulator that was your ultimate. In an instant the artillery warehouse you and your squad had decided to loot as the second circle closed in was caught in a large bubble that had no effect on your team, thanks to the devices you handed out pre match. The others however swarming the warehouse were slowed considerably, still caught in the smokescreen of Caustic’s toxic gas traps and were losing health rapidly. It was easy to dodge shots when even they were firing slower in the contained bubble of your ultimate.

Two whole squads were wiped from the game in less than 20 seconds, turning the battlezone contested artillery into a lootbox graveyard. Caustic however who had not seen your ultimate up close was captivated by the entire ordeal, not quite realising what was happening until one of the enemy teams was already choking to death on the poison smog.

There was little time to dwell, but the scientist took a moment to furiously scribble something down on a notebook he carried in one of his pouches, pen working overtime. His expression a look of almost intense concentration and a hint of extreme fascination. Whether that was directed at you or the deaths he had witnessed, you weren’t sure. You carried on looting, pretending not to notice the glances steeled in your direction whenever he thought you had your back turned.

It was the top 2 and only you and Caustic were left in your own team. There was a full squad waiting in the new circle location but with the both of you kitted out for more close range combat the option for sniping was out of the question. The runoff was a tricky place to fight in with plenty of cover but it also meant plenty of cover to sneak around undetected.

“I have a theory that may promise a high chance of success against our enemies,” Caustic begins with a hard look to the horizon line where the Runoff rested. Ducked behind cover near a respawn beacon, you glanced at the map and then up at your new teammate. Expression curious, you get ready to move, shifting into a crouch. “What’s your theory?” You ask, taking note that you only had a minute left before it was time to run. The ring was getting close.

“With both our ultimates combined they would be unable to escape the poison in time,” they begin, thinking over things again and again. “We would need to push them closer together for maximum effect.”

Checking your inventory you give them 2 thermite grenades which they frown at with a look of confusion. “You have a better understanding of how chemicals like thermite would spread to achieve the results we need. I have arc stars to further slow people down and regular grenades to seem like there are more of us than there really are. They don’t know we’re down one member,” You tap the question mark on your display indicating how many people were left. “They never reveal who is left in the top 3 to keep tensions high.”

The pause happens again, something in their expression changing to disregard to a subtle hint of pride at your mention of their higher understanding, and the beginnings of respect for you. “Hmn. Very well. Let’s move and execute this experiment together. If we approach from both angles, they will be pinned in the centre and then will be our perfect storm of conditions.”

It was scary just how well the plan was executed.

The other squad were so arrogant in their belief of victory that they hadn’t noticed the quiet approach on opposite sides which effectively trapped them and forced them into the centre of the small selection of cover they had available. Thermite placed with perfect precision and grenades providing chaos the arc stars and your ultimate was released with them perfectly centered.

Caustic didn’t waste a single second, pulling the pin on his gas canister and unleashing the familiar green smog into the cluster of individuals. A cruel tone takes his voice, a flame of vengeful satisfaction colouring it. “Breathe deep,” you hear over the ensuing fight, ending the final squad with well placed shotgun blasts. The entire squad was wiped in a satisfying swoop of perfectly planned chaos.

The ensuing results of that match boosted both of your ranks incredibly. Neither had won in a little while and even the teammate you hadn’t been able to rescue during that match before their beacon timed out was complimenting the moves you pulled together. In the span of that week alone you had received more squad offers than the entire time of your residency in the Arena. Even Caustic was viewed in a new light, previously avoided due to their cold demeanour. The influx of praise and appreciation with their work however morbid it was had somewhat thawed the sharp veneer of their personality allowing others to approach and congratulate them on their work.

This time however, Caustic was the one to approach you.

“Hey- need something?” You ask, straight to the point and you could tell they weren’t quite used to speaking to others in a non-condescending tone. The pause that they always had when thinking what to say to you occurred again, and you fought back a smile threatening to break loose.

“I- Yes. I wish to repeat our previous arrangement. The application of our combined talents was unexpectedly successful, and I would like to pursue further tests to determine what consistent results would yield.” The scientist explains, hands gesticulating with each word. It was an oddly charming trait, watching them make excuses to watch you in battle more. “Your performance was more than expected, and I hope to continue our partnership. Perhaps with an alternate third to investigate just how much more we could improve the technique developed from in unexpected union.”

You nodded along, biting your lip at this point. It was really hard not to grin at the chemical specialist trying to make this sound entirely just business. When they finished explaining the reasoning for their request you finally smiled. “Of course I want to be on your squad, Caustic. You only had to ask, your reasoning is your own. See you in training tomorrow? We can go over specifics then if you have your eye on anyone you’d like to invite as the third in the upcoming match.” Offering a hand out to shake, he surprisingly took it without the usual glare and placed a hand on your shoulder, frown lines absent.

“This will be the beginning of a very prosperous partnership,” Caustic claims and if you weren’t surprised by their statement you would of noticed the subtle smile forming at the creases of their eyes.

Chapter Text

“…And that concludes todays recap on the first round of the 176th Apex Games! Join us tomorrow at 3pm for a look into the fabled hunter Bloodhound’s rise to success and some of their most notable-“

The TV was swapped over with a series of complaints from the bar attendees, taking up various stools at the countertop in the neon of the bar. Mirage himself was particularly vocal, complaining with an almost pouty frown from his corner with his favourite giant support in the ring.

“Watching that? Or watching her?” Gibraltar questions to his drinking partner with a knowing smile and for his part Mirage tried to play it off. Unsuccessfully.

“What? Me? Pfffft. Noooo, I just really wanted to see if my beautiful face would show up. A legend like me? Absolutely rank 10 material,” he grins with a debonair demeanour about the trickster. The current rank 7 Champion though was not having it. “If you say so Brutha. I’m not gonna judge if you for your taste though, you know that.” Gibraltar takes a taste of his rum, giving a pointed look at his friend. Mirage sighed, resting his arms on the counter top.

“It’s been awhile, and we all have our reasons Elliot but it’s not good to linger in the past. Live for the now, before it escapes you.” A large hand claps them on the shoulder causing Mirage to look up and a ghost of a smile forms on their lips. “We die for a living- and you never know until you try,” The larger man waxes borderline philosophically with a wild laugh before raising a glass in the trickster’s honour. The gesture was returned, glasses clanked together in cheers before drinking.

“…Thanks man. For coming out with me tonight- I didn’t want to be on my own for a bit.” The thanks is waved off. “Ahhhh you know I always have time for those in need brutha. Friends are always welcome to sit down and talk with Gibraltar. Ey! Another round?” Elliot nods with a rapidly brightening smile, pushing playfully at the tank’s arm. “You’re gonna have to carry me home at this rate but sure. I’ll play wingman next time you’re tryin’ to score,” Mirage jokes back and the infamous laugh from Gibraltar fills the bar.

The energy never died with this man around, and Mirage only amplified the good vibes. They were people magnets and the whole bar prospered from it with a relaxed atmosphere following them around. “I heard a few people asking around about you recently, your type.” The trickster offers a hand with a smirk.

“You got yourself a deal,” Gibraltar grins and shakes on it, a new round of music blaring in the background as a film started up. Something action based. “So what’s the plan with that girl you’re eyein’ up? If she caught the eyes of you, she’s gotta be prettyyyy special.”

Taking a long sip of his drink, finishing it so it could be refilled Mirage finally replies with an almost bashful look, smiling to himself. “…I ‘unno. I just really like her.”

 

You’d just wrapped on recording today’s live broadcasts, the camera crew calling the session and a round of applause like always for another successful day on the job. Being one of the lead presenters for the show that millions watched was nerve wracking, always having to look pristine for your job and keeping your comments professional but you were good at what you did.

With the director letting you leave for the day, you made your way towards the full time residency the company staff were gifted for as long as they worked for the Apex Games. It was a fair distance from the Champion’s residency on the opposite side of the mini city the business for the Apex Game’s main arena had generated. Walking along the street thinking of going to the cinema first before going home, you were too busy inside your own head and glancing at the various shopfronts you pass before something collides with you- or rather you collide with it and the last thing you hear before everything rapidly goes dark is a fumbled swear.

Next thing you knew, you were waking up on some kind of bed, a cloth over your head and the room dimmed. Your head throbbed and your backside hurt as though… You try to sit up quickly and groan, deciding to lay back down again.

A shuffle of movement alerted you someone else was here, but you calmed immediately when you realised it was Lifeline. One of the Champions you were on decent terms with in terms of acquaintances.

“Don’ try to sit up yet. You got a concussion on the back of your head and I don’t recommend movin’,” Ajay informs you carefully, a hand resting on your shoulder for good measure. Her grasp was firm but not harsh, a welcome reassurance in the swarm of uncertainty what lingered in your mind.

“You’re lucky it was only a small cut. Nothin’ major on impact.” “How’d I get here…? What happened?” You mumble, groaning quietly as slow pulses of dull pain make the back of your head warm.

That’s when a new voice spoke up. “That uh- that’s my fault. We collided and I didn’t catch you in time. You hit your head on the stone pavement-“ Mirage finally speaks up from the doorway. “I called the best medic I knew and brought you the closest medic. Since nobody trained with concussions was around or available to keep tabs, I asked Ajay to meet me at my apartment. I’m… Really sorry about this entire thing,” Elliot sounds guilty about the whole event but considering it was a complete accident and you yourself were partly responsible for the accident, you forgave him easily.

“It’s fine- don’t worry about it uh, Ellio- Mir… Mirage? I don’t know what you call you right now outside of work,” You confess, prompting the combat medic to laugh.

“She’ll be fine. Just be sure to keep an eye on her and let me know if anything changes,” Lifeline tells Mirage, letting go of your shoulder. She exits the room, likely to go find something. Mirage however is somewhat frozen in place, prompting more confusion on your end.

“Elliot is fine. My friends call me that anyway and considering I did just almost crack your skull open i’d say we’re friends at the very least,” They begin, moving to sit by you slowly. It causes a laugh to bubble up from your throat, a dainty hand covering your forehead.

“Well fair. I can’t dispute that though i’d like to think our friendship going forward isn’t quite so dangerous. I’m no champion like you,” you smile, still half dazed so it takes on a dreamy quality that has Mirage’s heart skipping more than a few beats. “I can’t fight people or jump down cliffs no problem. Maybe I should start working on that huh?”

“Well for your sake, let’s hope not right now- maybe I can give you some lessons in the future on how to be a death defying legend like me,” Mirage grins, putting on his best debonair act and it gets another laugh from you, the trickster taking that as a win in his books.

“It’s a date,” you confirm with a pat to one of his arms playfully. “Can Mr.Legend pass me a few painkillers though? I’d like to feel somewhat normal when meeting my favourite Champion. It’s embarrassing enough i’ve caused so much trouble,” you sigh, but Mirage only nods enthusiastically and stands in a hurry.

“Yeah! No! Let me just get- Ajay!!!”

Chapter Text

“Are you really livestreaming this?” You ask with a look, prompting Octane to look innocently (how he does that with his mask still on you’ll never know) in your direction and playfully shrug. “Daily vlogs for my channel! This one isn’t live,” he mentions as he pans the city streets of the mini city the Apex Games boasted due to their business.

If a Champion needed something, chances were a vendor had it. With the sheer number of Champions and how much they were paid? It developed a unique infrastructure with Sponsors and all of the businesses permitted to set up shop in this planet’s capital city. There were rumours civilians were eventually going to be allowed to settle in the city, but for now they were just mere baseless rumours.

“If you say so- but you’re leading the way remember? Don’t get lost playing film director,” you tease and an arm wraps around your waist, camera held aloft so both of you were in the shot. “Me? Lost? Never- so little faith amigo!” the speedster cackles leaving you to playfully roll your eyes. It was nice being publicly seen by Octavio’s side, him unashamed to call you his girlfriend and display to his adored fans that he was very happily taken. Some were sad or even angry you were dating the adrenaline junkie, sending hate and threats but when the threats were seen by Octane himself he was PISSED. Whatever he did to make them stop you weren’t going to question, but you had suspicions he’d been in contact with more than a few hackers.

Prowling the less frequented sections of the more luxury goods stores though, Octane was on the hunt for something very specific. “I didn’t even know this place existed,” you murmur in awe as you pass a store looking awfully similar to Lush, drawing your eye. “How’d you find it?”

He shrugs, tucking the camera away for now seemingly content for his montage reel. The mask is pulled down to hang loosely at his throat, so he can press a kiss to the top of your head. “I got bored a few weeks ago, pre match anxiety making me need to run. So I came out to the city and went the places I usually didn’t visit- they really need to advertise this place better,” Octane bites at his lip self consciously, noticing the change from his cocky self to the subtly more insecure version that was Octavio when his mask was down. Fans didn’t get to see that side and you were glad to have this to yourself. You lent into his side, arm curling around his waist too. The simple gesture caused his gaze to soften and a quiet fond sigh escape his lips.

“You good?” You murmur softly as you turn the corner to a different part of the high-street, your destination in view. The mess of a lazy green and black Mohawk covers his eyes somewhat but the small smile Octane offered was genuine. “Sí. I-“ he pauses before nodding. “Yeah. Trying to remember that ‘Octane’ isn’t someone I always need to be. Being ‘Octavio’ was something I avoided for so long, it’s hard to remember I’m more than what my fans see, or what my fam’ wanted.”

Your reply was cut off when the store you were looking for came into sight, advertised by a big neon sign for instruments and records. By far the most off the path store you’d seen in your entire time as Champion but you supposed being a luxury good it was hard to find better placement. The essentials came first, then the rest. “Here’s the place!!” Octane jumps in place excitedly, metal legs running in place and with a laugh you push him towards the store. “Go get ‘em tiger, i’ll catch up in a couple of minutes,” you wink and with a manic grin he takes off running, shouting that the thing he wanted and had saved up for had ‘better be there!’.

You for your part took your time, letting the crazy thrill-seeker get his content filmed while you did a bit of looking on your own. Tracking back to the cosmetics store the place smelt divine and you knew in an instant you should take Wraith here too. With her lost memory she likely didn’t think to gift herself treats often so you picked up things for her too. Soaps, bath-bombs, a variety of goods which made the medic and void warrior would appreciate. A few things for Octane too- for a guy he took a surprising pride in his appearance you would have expected from someone like Mirage. You were kind of jealous at how well kept his hair was, considering he dyed it every other week.

Bag full and loaded into your backpack you went back to meet up with your wild boyfriend, who had likely gotten himself into more than 3 kinds of trouble the moment your eyes drifted from his form. In a way? You weren’t wrong, walking into the music store he was excitedly talking to an older gentleman at the counter with stars practically burning in his eyes. An acoustic guitar was sat on the counter, glossy black body and the fret board inlaid with beautifully done veneer and silver metals depicting silver filigree and skulls interwoven. The shop itself was a medium size, big enough to walk around easily without knocking into things but the walls were crammed with instruments galore, some you couldn’t even identify.

The dark appearance of the walls and floor gave it a grungy feel, stickers and posters decorating behind the cash register where hundreds of accessories for guitars and the more commonly known instruments were displayed. The smell was of finely aged wood from the well crafted instruments and high quality polish, a unique smell but it wasn’t unpleasant. In fact you kinda liked it, wandering up to Octane who was still super stoked over something.

“-No way! You saw Powerwolf in person?” He’s talking up a storm, buzzing with energy and clearly feeling very passionate about the subject. Outside of performing in the Games or taking on death defying stunts you’d never seem him like this before and it was heartwarming to witness over something that for once wasn’t potentially lethal.

“Yeah man- getting off planet-side to the next system was a pain but they were better live than on the album i’m tellin’ ya’. They hung out post show and I ended up getting one of their signatures tattooed the same night,” The older roadie looking man waxes with a proud tone, rolling up his sleeve to where a design likely from an album cover had been tattooed with a name in cursive. Octane swears, shaking his head. “That’s insane, how’d you even get tickets? They sell out so fast!!!” The shop owner just smiled, the glimmers of an insider that had been in the business a long time swirling in their eyes.

“When you’ve done roadie work for the best of em’ people remember your name- if you do a good job that is. S’ how I got the job here, representing the music store chain in the ‘Apex City of legends’,” he chuckles, and gives the counter a pat. “Bit too quiet for my tastes but at least people appreciate the quality we do here. This one in particular,” the gentleman gestures to the guitar Octane was planning on purchasing you realise, “I have in my personal collection too. Super rich sound and excellent for lower pitch songs. Comes with strings that could last you years if treated well.”

Octane for his part was staring at the instrument with love in his eyes, nodding enthusiastically. “I used to own something similar a long time ago- can’t wait to get it home!”

You laugh, causing him to glance over and finally notice you were there. Instinctively he pulls you close and tucks your frame against his, chin resting on the top of your head. “What do you think? I got this custom inlaid a few weeks ago. Thought it was time to return to an old hobby of mine,” the speedster hums, swaying playfully with arms wrapped around you from behind. You go with it, playfully joining in.

“It’s certainly beautiful. You never told me you played,” you accuse as the man behind the counter goes in the back to get the case for such a fine instrument. “I don’t. Last time I did, it was the final time I saw my parents together- right before I was kicked out the first time. Gave up after that. It just stopped interesting me when I had nobody to play to.” He bites his lip again, and you lean up to press a kiss to his cheek, something that he smiles at bashfully. A rare emotion on the otherwise seemingly confident daredevil. “You play any instruments?” He asks, voice quiet in the store for your ears only. You shake your head.

“I dabbled with the violin for a few years but could never afford a full size, and was too shy to play outside of practice rooms I never had access to at home. If I tried now it would be awful- I much prefer cooking these days.” You snicker, and Octavio laughs above you. The man returns, and as soon as the transaction is over you thank the man for the purchase and wander back on home, stopping briefly to pick up some sushi.

... Of which you had to order 3 large platters, because Octane was a fucking vacuum when it came to anything fish based.

Finally back at the Champion’s Residency you wasted no time at all in setting out the bits you’d bought for dinner and as expected Octavio eagerly wolfed down as much as he could like a creature starved. He had the manners at least to try and use the chopsticks it came with but when his less dexterous fingers fumbled with the rolls, he gave up and plucked them from the platters by hand, dipping them in soy sauce and making a show of licking his fingers afterwards.

“You fucking heathen,” you accuse with a playful glare as he does it, and with a cackle he flips you off. “Listen, I don’t care how it’s eaten, i’m starving!” He pats his stomach which as usual is exposed and you roll your eyes. “I warned you to have breakfast you skinny twink,” you accuse and the speedster points a finger at you mid bite. He pauses long enough to swallow the piece down and resume what he was about to say at the dinner table.

“Ey! I’m you’re skinny twink though mí amor. Gotta eat to maintain this beautiful work of art,” he flexes and you shake your head, taking more pieces of the sought after tuna rolls. Taking some of the smoked mackerel and salmon (which was fucking EXPENSIVE considering they weren’t native species), Octane outright moaned as he leaned back and shouted “Es tan bueno!!! God I need to get this more often,” he sighs, finally starting to feel full. You look at the 3 platters you collectively have demolished and decide the rest can be for tomorrow in the fridge.

“Heh no kidding. If it wasn’t nearly a quarter of my paycheck for the high tier stuff i’d eat there all the time. Help me tidy this away otherwise it’ll perish in no time?” You start collecting the various plates, and with a charming grin tossed your away and a kiss to your neck the leftovers are neatly stacked in his fridge. You had a feeling they wouldn’t be there by tomorrow if he ended up having midnight munchies again.

A bit later when the afternoon sun was cresting down to the horizon line and the golden hour cast beautiful shades of amber and crimson across Octane’s apartment you found yourself idly lazing on the sofa while Octane himself was out on the balcony not too far away, tuning his guitar by ear and humming to himself as his calloused fingers strummed quietly as he recalled memories years passed. His prosthetics were gone, a casual hoodie covering his arms from the gentle chill from the approaching nighttime and a small end table pulled close to hold his beer. It was an endearing sight, seeing your boyfriend so calm for once.

When was the last time he hadn’t been dancing in place, constantly clock watching as though death himself was forcing the speedster to focus on making every second count? You couldn’t remember. In the span of your relationship he rarely showed how vulnerable he truly was, even around you at first. Ajay was the one to put the idea in his head that maybe this wasn’t so healthy to live on such a deathly lifestyle- and after falling for you, he found the idea of tempting death every single day... Less appealing. There was consequence to his actions now, ones he didn’t want to occur. That’s when therapy for issues he hadn’t even noticed started, and quickly he began to realise just how much of a train wreck he had been. Addicted to his own stims, jittery and anxious, disregarding his safety for the approval of parents and fans that never really filled the void. A lifetime of piled up baggage, finally getting sorted.

By no means was this an easy or quick thing to fix. He still clung to friends he trusted excessively at times, the addiction manageable now but still present. The shadow of his parents loomed like a black hole over his heart and every so often there were obvious signs of battling with himself, but Octane really was trying. Trying be true to himself, and not the distorted persona his neglect at the hands of his family had wrought upon their only son.

Moments like right now really showed it. A glimpse into the real Octavio, not the stage persona ‘Octane’, who lost their legs in the grenade incident and preformed for his fans. A burst of love swelled in your heart when you hear the beginnings of a soft melody of an old earthen song drift into the apartment from the balcony, quiet words barely audible in the ambience of the outside. You recognised it as something from his playlist when he was stamina training on his own.

“...So say the word,
and I'll be running back to find you.
A thousand armies won't stop me I'll break through,
I'll soar the endless skies for only one sight.
Of your starlight...”

You stand, clutching the lukewarm coffee you brewed awhile ago now and quietly walked out to the balcony where Octane looked up, expression shifting into a fond smile the moment you appeared. “Got it down already?” You ask as you take a seat next to the daredevil, their guitar carefully balanced on the upper section of their legs which still remained after his stunt from the past. He nods, quiet for a moment.

“Never thought i’d play again sinceramente... Picking it up again felt wrong for the longest time- never knew why, ‘til I got help.” He glances back at his new guitar, a gentle form of quiet reverence for such a beautiful instrument in every touch. He starts playing again, his wild energy seemingly tamed for now. The beginnings of ‘comfortably numb’ start up at his fingertips, a song that persisted long after the original band and entered into the legendary status of a classic everyone knew from the days of Earth. Everyone well acquainted with the history of Earth at least. You smile, the love you felt for this recovering disaster of a daredevil blooming forth and you couldn’t help but smile dreamily as he played. Was there something he wasn’t annoyingly good at?

“Quit being so annoyingly good at everything,” you tease and it gets a genuine laugh, the song fading into something else entirely. You didn’t recognise this one but it was much happier sounding, more upbeat despite the muted volume it was played with. “No can do, lover. Gotta make sure you’re always reminded how good I am so everyone else is bland in comparison.” He preens, Mohawk tussled in the wind as he winks at you and sticks his tongue out. You can just barely see the piercing, making you flush.

“Tease,” you mutter, crossing your arms but finally finishing the coffee in your grasp. You grimace at the now cold temperature but get it down anyway, and set it on the small table.

It gets to nighttime, and with some assistance the guitar is set away and you decide to stay the night. Octane is obviously pleased by the decision and wastes absolutely zero time claiming every single bit of your attention, practically trapped in his grasp on the bed. You find yourself not minding at all, fingers brushing through his wild mess of a Mohawk and enjoying the quiet solace of the dim room. He speaks up after awhile, tone unsure.

“Hey... You’re... Happy with us, right? Killing for fame, Dying?” You perk up from the half asleep state, tangled in his arms and head resting against his chest. You can hear the steady beat of his heart through Octane’s shirt. Your lips purse, sitting up just enough to hover above your boyfriend, his piercing green eyes barely visible in the low light.

“Of course, that’s what we signed up for when we came to the Games. What’s brought this up?” A stab of worry worms its way into your stomach, eating away at the pit of it and feeling like a canon ball was dropped onto you.

He glances away, hands reaching out to rest on your waist.

“...I don’t want to be in a place where you aren’t on my squad. Ajay and I? We’ve shot each other a few times but after me guilting her into making my new legs I don’t blame her. I deserved it for being such a Bastardo at the time- but if we were ever on opposite sides... I couldn’t pull the trigger. Not against you. Not now.”

Slowly your heart breaks in two. What he says makes sense- it wasn’t uncommon for people to be assigned on different teams despite picking who you wanted beforehand. Sponsors often had a hand in it, and more often than not friends were forced to kill each other. Most of the time, no hard feelings were had.

Most of the time.

You say nothing at first, leaning down instead to claim his lips which he responds to slowly. It’s full of emotion rather than something fierce, slow and searching from either end. When you break away, your expression is gentle. “I couldn’t either. Sponsors be damned I would rather shoot myself than let you deal with that guilt.”

He blinks, processing what you just said and he vehemently shakes his head. “Absolutely NOT you are ever doing that! ¿Estas loco? You’d be kicked from the Games for suicidal tendencies!” He’s surprisingly passionate about it, which shocks you. The initial burst of intense emotion dulls, and he sighs shakily. “I don’t want to see that, or have to kill you myself. I was planning on talking to the higher ups. Threaten to leave if it came to it- or at least ask my team to do it if I really am forced into a corner. Throw the match if I had to.” The genuine thought that had gone into this topic showed that this wasn’t spur of the moment. It had been playing on his mind for weeks, perhaps months.

A small pool of guilt forms in the back of your mind. You hadn’t considered this possibility.

“I... You’d actually do that? The Apex Games mean everything to you! I-“ A finger comes to rest on your lips, prompting you to hush temporarily.

“The Apex Games means everything to Octane. I’m a risk taker, but I don’t gamble with the life of my girlfriend- and if Apex is willing to force me to kill you for the sake of more views and money? I’ll walk. No exceptions.”

You are floored beyond belief and you feel tears prickling at the corners of your eyes, mouth trembling with a small smile trying to shine through the wave of- whatever it was you felt. It was so wrapped up in different layers it was hard to pick out where one emotion started and the other ended. He realises he made you cry and in an instant you are tugged back down into his hold, hand stroking soothingly over your back.

“Hey- shhh. I’m sorry... I didn’t mean to upset you,” he murmurs, accent tinting his words but you can hear the subtle sniff of emotion clinging in places. He’s crying too. “I just- you mean far more to me than fame. Nothing could replace you, and I know it. It took me a long time to realise that, getting to a place I could really look at myself and the things I’ve done. And I’ve done some pretty shitty things.”

You wipe away tears before they can dampen his shirt, voice wobbly. “We all have- I’m not innocent either, but feel the same. I feel awful for forgetting it could really happen...” Your conversation fades for a moment, thoughts rolling in your heads as the implications stretch out before you. You were both popular yes, but were you ‘enforce a change on a universe wide change in business’ policy popular? Probably not. The chance of being ignored was significantly high.

“...We could ask the others to join us. Tell the higher ups we won’t kill lovers or family on other teams. Gibraltar would help- Mirage too probably. If we get Bloodhound, they’d likely be forced to listen,” Octavio begins, the sounds of a plan in progress slowly filling his voice. “A Romeo and Juliet policy?” You muse, and he nods. “The fans won’t like it if we were kicked from the Games because we refused to kill people we care about when we chose to be on the same squad in the first place. It may of started a blood-sport for mercenaries to settle land disputes but they work hard to move away from that. Going public about what happened would make them look real bad.”

You begin to see where he’s going, and a flicker of hope fills you. “That’s... Really true actually. If they got rid of us for not wanting to kill who we love, it would send a terrible message. Sponsors would drop like flies,” You murmur, tears clearing up. He nods, jaw set in determination. “Then we form a group. I’ll start running it by the other Champions, put out feelers for who would support it. For now... I’m not taking any Sponsor who messes with our group.”

You nod in agreement, the conversation slowly fading after that. You had a lot of work to do tomorrow.

Chapter Text

The shootout in the final rings had been brutal.

In a rare twist of fate the circle had landed right on top of Thunderdome in Kings Canyon and with the vast number of ziplines and places to hide it had been a drawn out battle all the way to the finish. Your girlfriend however was on the other team- and you had no idea until you heard the telltale sound of a portal being opened, punching through reality to another location. You did NOT want the situation to be you or her die at each other’s hands, so when the sound of sniper shots started echoing across the way you may have been somewhat thankful.

You weren’t going to have to shoot the person you loved today.

It didn’t mean you were any more pleased about the results; knowing that only one team could live but neither of you would carry that guilt. You didn’t even see when your squad had won, it was over so quick. Bloodhound had attained A Krager sniper rifle from a care package about 2 hours ago and ever since had been carrying it until the perfect moment.

The dropships couldn’t descend fast enough to recover the bodies- Wraith would not be pleased about that close loss.

“Wraith I-“ you didn’t get a word out, the deceptively petite woman silencing you with a glare, hand shaking from the revival still. Adrenaline was still pumping in her veins and would be for some time. A hand grabbed you by the scruff of your collar, dragging you with her as she stalked away from the others and into an empty room she promptly locked.

“Hey! What’s up? You can’t just ditch the group like that,” You finally get out and for a moment she simply stares, body subtly trembling. You’ve never seen her so amped up before, and before you can speak again she’s stalking forward to capture your lips with hers, pulling you down to her height with a passion you’d not expected. Any arguments you had promptly died the moment the voidwalker pressed close against you, knee nudging between your thighs and biting at your bottom lip. Your hands settle on her waist and groan into the attention, rocking subtly against her not-so-subtly placed leg. She huffs a laugh, a hand gripping your jaw.

“That win was mine- so i’m taking second place. I need to burn off this energy before it makes the voices unbearable- that fine with you?” Despite the tone she’d taken it was all part of the game you played, and you had no qualms with being claimed as a silver medal. Voicing your willingness her expression softens for a moment, leaning forward to press a much more gentle kiss to your mouth and murmuring a quiet “thank you,” before wasting no time gripping at your armour and clothing.

“All of it off- let me see,” Wraith demands and you can’t help but give her a show, grinning the whole time and while you can tell your silly shimmy is forcing herself to cover her mouth before she laughs, you can tell her gaze is hungrily drinking in the sight of you armour-less, vulnerable and left only in your boxers. You go to take those off too but with a smirk Wraith already has you pinned against the wall, a hand trailing down your stomach and prying at the edges of the last piece of your clothing on. Any moment someone could walk past the door and see a very inappropriate sight through the partially transparent door and that fact has the both of you running hotter, widening your stance to accommodate Wraith’s touch.

A soft moan escapes your lips, promptly claimed once again with a bruising force which causes a whimper to be pulled from your throat as your tongues met and tastes entwined in an intoxicating combination. Smokey, a hint of spearmint and the perfume she wore making your resistance non-existent as she claimed all she wanted and more. Frustratingly the stealth expert danced around the areas you wanted Wraith the most and with a breathless “please?” You were gripping at her form desperately. The crackling of the void danced around her arms and a low sultry smile stretches onto her face. All of her clothes still on, enjoying the sight of you so needy and already breaking under her gaze.

“Say it again,” She’s being mean now, enjoying the power she has over you and a pathetic whine is the response. You paw at her sides and biting her lip, she almost relents. Almost. When that doesn’t get what you want you resort to instead solving your own problem but knowing what was going to happen before you could even lift a finger Wraith gives you exactly what you wanted. Your knees go weak from the rhythm she keeps, breaths coming in pants as you hunch against the wall, supported by your lover. She isn’t unaffected, breath quickening with every bite and mark she leaves against your neck. At some point the filter on your noises breaks and the whole room is filled with you begging for more, shuddering moans breaking the babbling and you notice in the thick haze of lust clouding your vision that Wraith is desperately touching herself too with her other hand forcing you to brace yourself as shivers of pleasure race down your spine.

“Please- i’m so close, Wraith-“ Your eyes close and you can feel the strange crackle of void energy begin to tickle your skin. You’re so involved with everything that when you do climax you’re brought so much higher by the surge of alien energy blasting your senses and you’re sure in the white bliss that blinds you for however long you shouted yourself hoarse. Your low voice now feels even lower, sore as the sudden rush of power leaves both of you collapsing to the floor, sensitive and pulling Wraith close who doesn’t argue in the slightest. She’s just as overwhelmed by you.

“I- Woah,” you get out, fatigue threatening to descend should you stay on the floor too long. Considering how both of you were panting, it was probably a good idea to stay on the floor for awhile. “...Yeah,” Wraith nods, hair dishevelled and unusually un-composed. A rare sight after seeing her so guarded around strangers. “Was that any help?” You ask quietly, and a genuine laugh is your reward, her climbing into your lap and nuzzling against the fresh slew of bites and marks now decorating your neck.

“It did. Maybe i’ll have to start losing more often?”

Chapter Text

“Mira! Look at that giant banner of me! Woah-ho so cool!” Octane grins from under his mask and you can practically feel the smugness and pride rolling off him in waves.

He’d been fortunate enough in the match 2 weeks ago to score a place on the ‘Champion’ squad this time around. The top 3 competitors from every Apex Games were placed in the squad to paint a target on their backs, but also offer a reward if they managed to maintain that status for more than a single match. Some did, but the number of those who managed it was very low. Bloodhound and yourself had been one of them, and to really drive home who to aim for the players waiting for the dropship had a large electronic banner on screen of your score cards next to the giant map of the place you were about to drop into from the sky.

“Yeah well- stats aren’t everything,” Mirage crosses his arms, clearly pouting and obviously jealous. “It only matters if you keep it up.” Octane cackles in reply and slides an arm around your shoulders, pointing to you. “What matters if YOU can keep up amigo. Me and her are racing to the finish in first place!”

You look between the two members of your squad and you resist the urge to sigh. They’d been doing this dance for months now ever since the both of them learnt you were actually single after mistaking you for already having someone in your life as a lover and had started this weird rivalry of trying to earn your affection. As far as you can tell, threats weren’t aimed at each other in the process. Yet.

You on the other hand raised an eyebrow and tried not to smile. It was kind of nice getting attention for once, having people interested. Having two of the hottest competitors after you? It was downright flattering and if pressed you had no idea if you could choose between them. You supposed you would deal with that should one of them ever actually grow a pair and confess- or maybe they were waiting on you?

“We’re a team, you two. Act like it? I don’t need a team divided on a battlefield where losing means dying, thanks.” Octane straightens up at that and gives a shrug. “Hey i’m just saying- we could probably win no issues at all without that flashy idiota over there,” he lazily points a finger at Mirage who frowns. “You say that but who was the one who saved your ass from Caustic the last game?”

Knowing the trickster has a point, Octane goes quiet. Rolling your eyes, you point to the dropship. “C’mon. We can argue later, ships about to load up and I want to get a look at which way it’s coming in to the arena early.” You gesture to the large vessel touching down and despite the clear rivalry the two nod and start following your lead. It was about to be go time.

---

You were pinned down at the bridges in the low lying river, you and Mirage caught in a firefight between two other squads, while Octane had been separated higher up. You were low on health and about to go down while Mirage himself was trying his best to provide cover fire with mid range weapons that just weren’t hitting the mark. “Octane where are you!?” You shout over the communications line and a cocky laugh fills your ears, prompting you to look up as his dot on the map came rapidly hurtling towards your location and the sound of gunfire had a new voice in the cacophony of sound. “Hahaha! Let’s go!” Mirage glances over with that little time he can spare. “He’s- he’s not gonna try… Right?”

…That idiot.

Octane was sliding down the slopes that lead to the Market if you followed the path back, Alternator on full burst and drawing all the attention to himself. It gave the two of you currently pinned down a chance to charge shields and brace for the oncoming slaughter of teams as two well placed shotgun blasts had the speedster’s killscore creeping up by 2. He raced through the long shack that hung partically over the river below where you were and deploying his jump pad with a crazed laugh.

It was midway through the air though that he seemed to know someone from another team was following him- Wraith specifically. She had taken the jump pad out of the building and down to the river, and you swear time slowed as Octane’s Triple Threat rifle was unholstered, aimed and fired perfectly arched to compensate for the movement of his opponent.

It was a messy headshot, the body sent in an entirely different trajectory to himself and with a cheer in celebration he was already running over to your position. 3 kills and an entire squad wiped in less than 10 seconds flat. That was impressive.

Still buzzing on his stim high you all take the chance to run and follow the river further south so you can circle back to the Hydro Dam and the Repulsor. This place was too hot right now and you didn’t fancy your chances currently running on only shields and half health. Mirage wasn’t looking much better either. “I’m the new Killleader! Alright!” He boasts, pridefully checking his new stats and undoubtedly boasting the entire time despite the sniper shots aimed at you all as you ran. Octane can be reckless at times but it’s moment like that which make you endlessly thankful he is on your team. Hard to prepare for the chaos when you have absolutely no idea what he’ll do next.

“It was an incredible shot i’ll admit- I’m kind of jealous of those sniping skills,” you confess as you finally see the beginnings of the building, the idea of cover and being able to find health stims a relief to your sore body. Mirage is pouting, slightly bitter he wasn’t able to show off this time but Octane however is practically on cloud nine, running even faster despite not currently using his abilities. “Okay, I’ll be nice. You weren’t too bad. There, I said it. You’re welcome.”

---

The circle had chased you all the way North to the Wetlands and Relay Station, circling around the bridges where you had last been pinned. Mirage was fired up now, and firing on all cylinders as he looted the whole place to find you health. Octane had been keeping overwatch across the battlefield as you crossed without any significant cover and with yourself in the middle it was an efficient team. You’d just pulled into a building when you had less than a few seconds to notice the gas traps covering the room, the enemy squad having set the building up to be a death sentence.

You get out a yelp of alarm before an arc star impacts you from the open doorway, blasting it closed and yourself stunned as the multiple traps go off and you find yourself retching on poisonous air. You try to call for help but it’s useless, your voice is rendered mute in this deathly miasma of green contagion and a familiar chuckle sounds out from up the stairs. “An inevitability,” Caustic murmurs almost pleasantly as steps into view, gasmask on and imposing figure just barely visible from his spot on the stairs. Your vision starts to fade, falling to your knees and clutching at your throat.

“But you have my thanks. This will make most excellent research notes as I watch you expire,” you fall to your side now, breaths an audible wheeze and you’re definitely in your downed state. Caustic seems to have no intention of shooting you, far too content to watch you suffer and you wonder in the agony that fills your chest with every breath where Mirage and Octane was. Dully you recognise the thunder of gunfire and bullets being exchanged but they were muted, like they were being fired underwater.

You almost blackout entirely when you hear something very very clearly, right behind Caustic.

“No one got your back huh? Hate it when that happens.” The scientist is kicked down the stairs with every bit of force Mirage can muster, uncloaking and it was something Caustic had not been expecting. He’s thrown down the stairs and the impact shatters his mask, causing him to suffer the same damage as you only now he had a grenade attached to him. The detonation blasted open the doors, yourself already close by where you had entered and with a grateful wheeze the gas was blown with it. Oxygen filled your lungs and hurriedly Mirage rushed to you, already with an emergency stim syringe on hand.

“Wow, that’s quite the predemis—Pruh—Preh… Predicam—uh… It’s a bad situation for you,” He tries to joke and with a weak smile you grab his hand as he administers the nanites directly to your chest. You can hear much better now, the gunfire sounding not that far off. “Time to go- you need health?” He asks as you’re pulled up with care from your place on the ground. You nod somewhat groggily, glancing over to look at the remains of Caustic, cringing. It wasn’t pretty.

“Uh… Yeah, please. If you have any- i’m still out from the bridge.” He wastes no time pressing a phoenix kit to your chest, making you blink. “You sure? You have better armour than me, it takes forever to charge that-“ A finger is pressed to your lips and with the infamous debonair smile you knew him for in all his interviews Mirage winked. “Just remember who saved you, that’s all I ask.”

Octane took that moment to shout down the comms asking where the fuck we were while he was getting his ass full of bullet holes.

---

You’d barely scraped out the victory, with the most death defying stunt yet.

The final ring had ended up at the artillery and feeling particularly inspired by your teammates you felt the need to step up. The enemy squad had camped up in the higher reaches of the building and one of them was definitely a pathfinder. The ziplines they had used said as much, ones that didn’t exist before now standing proudly with their neon yellow ropes swaying in the breeze.

They definitely had snipers, as shown by your team kept at bay but inspired by Mirage’s trickster performance and Octane’s insane impulsive heroics you couldn’t help but do what you did next.

“Shotguns, I need your shotguns and arc stars,” you get out in a hurry as you throw your current weapons to the ground along with their ammo reserves. Mirage and Octane looked confused, still precariously concealed by what little cover you had left. The circle was 30 seconds away from closing and the enemy had the clear advantage. With a moment of hesitation you get what you ask for, your teammates rapidly asking questions.

“I’m gonna go up there with the arc stars you put on me- they’re coded to avoid friendly fire! When they’re down I use the shotguns to finish it,” You explain, loading up as fast as you could. The realisation has them both stunned, a mix of incredulous and concerned. “What about us?” Mirage asks, eyeing the timer with increasing distress.

“Figure it out!” You shout as you slap the arc stars on your body armour and start running. You can hear the steady rising hum of the devices you just attached to yourself, anxiety over if you’ll make it in time pooling in your chest. Shots fire off at you, clipping your shield but the squad is distracted immediately by a whole hoard of Mirage clones and prominent sniper rounds from Octane, shouting your name as you go.

In total the entire process was only 5 seconds long, but it felt like an eternity.

You landed on the platform they had camped out on. 4 seconds. The enemy pathfinder grapples you towards themself but too late realise that’s exactly what you wanted. The arc stars detonate shredding your shield but leaving your health untouched, unlike poor Pathfinder. The platform is small enough to get everyone in the whole squad. 3 seconds. They realise what you were doing and you aim, finishing off the robot and next aiming for Bangalore and Bloodhound. 2 seconds. Bloodhound had been somewhat prepared for the fight and got off shots of their own but your arc star stun had slowed them, downing the hunter next and Bangalore was next. 1 second- the stun wore off, and you kick her off the platform to the ground below. She meets it with a horrid stun, caught off guard by the melee attack.

You pant as the match ends, the words ‘YOU ARE THE CHAMPION’ flashing across the display on your wrist device.

Somewhere below, Mirage and Octane are cheering incredulously, chanting your name like a holy prayer.

Chapter Text

Everything was going so well this match.

Your whole squad made it to the top 3 and everyone was kitted out to the nine divines. An early dropship raid which had been unbelievably daring considering the flight path was incredibly far away from the initial jump, and then the lucky touch down right outside of the Hydro Dam still untouched.

You’d ran across a few unruly squads and quickly dispatched them with ease, racking up kills left and right as squads didn’t see from a distance just how prepared you all really were. Though a horrid weight sat at the pit of your stomach every time a new squad approached and you knew it was a real possibility meeting your lover on the battlefield in the Apex Games.

Both of you were incredible Champions, and more often than not you reached the top 3 minimum every match. Octane was just too unpredictable to land shots even for you back when you hadn’t known each other so well. Your trained eye couldn’t keep up with this green blur that streaked across the landscape with the essence of chaos burning in his very veins and wild laughter accompanying every ‘stunt’. Back then it used to terrify you when you heard him coming, knowing there was a strong chance his speed was going to make your sniping skills useless as he approached, hopped up on stims and ready to win.

Nowadays though it was a reassuring comfort to have him on your team, him always watching your back. You’d never get snuck up on from your sniping position because Octane always seemed to know when you got into trouble.

Now though… He’d been assigned to a different squad. He didn’t want it and neither did you but what the Sponsors wanted you had do to- lest you lose the crucial edge in the games and lack the funding for your gear and the entrance fees. It was a hollow feeling in your heart knowing that you may very well be forced to shoot the one you loved for sport and the entertainment of the masses. You’d spent the night apart, not wanting to talk about the ‘what ifs’ and drowning in anxiety.

For now though you selfishly prayed he’d already been taken out by another team as you scanned the landscape ahead. Looked like the circle was aiming for the middle of nowhere with no cover. You began to pick up your gear and move on, until a burning sensation in your gut told you to move. You trusted it and the distinct sound of a sniper shot clipping your shoulder’s shields tore an alarmed shout to the squadmates that were currently bickering over who was better. Enemies were already on the approach and you knew it wasn’t long until the final fight started.

Your team however stumbled, unprepared for the combat despite being in the top 3 and fumbled for their guns, wasting valuable time to get behind cover but by the time they did they were already half way through their shield’s endurance and more. You were lucky, darting out of sight the moment the shot registered and breathlessly you whispered thanks you’d managed to avoid it being a headshot. You knew only 3 people able to shoot so well from such a far distance.

One of them was yourself, the second was Octane after you taught him your techniques one sunny afternoon many months ago. The last was Bloodhound…

Readying your Havoc rifle you nodded and dove out from cover, firing at the first hostile you saw and they cried out as you tore through to their health in seconds, not expecting you to appear from nowhere. They managed to escape just barely, only to be downed by a teammate. The rest of the battle went by in a bloody blur, a brutal exchange of revives and people falling on both sides. You confirmed it was indeed Bloodhound who had nearly killed you but the entire time it felt like there was someone else watching. Waiting to see what would happen and likely clean up the mess when everything was over.

It burned at your neck and it distracted you, causing you to never nearly be killed as your health dwindled from the lucky shotgun blast Bloodhound had managed to get off through the chaos of the battle. You’d ended it with an arc star to their chest, and a wingman shot to the head. The entire squad was down- but so were 2 of your teammates.

You retrieved their beacons but at this point there was no chance reaching a respawn beacon, the circle was already closing to its final destination and you had no time to resurrect them. Not when you felt like your every move was being stalked and you were already compromised with no shields and so little health. You looted what you could, a grenade and a few thermite ordinances to provide maybe a bit of a fight before you had to move, sprinting to meet the circle before the plasma could claim you.

In the mad sprint to reach the circle you didn’t notice Octane there, waiting. Sniper rifle out, a level 3 scope attached and fully equipped. He lowered the weapon on approach, having been the one watching the entire time. You felt your heart sink into the depths of your stomach, dread and fear reaching out and clawing at your soul.

Slowing your pace you stood before each other, holocameras circling above to watch this final showdown between lovers.

“I… Octane?” You get out, hands shaking now. There was no wild crazy laughter now, only a man hidden behind his mask, rifle in hand.

“Hey,” he gets out lamely, each of you tense with barely 15 metres between you. It feels like more, heart aching at the distance between each other and the knowledge that somebody had to die for this match to be over. That was the rules. “…I know it’s bad, but I was hoping it that last fight might have taken you out,” the speedster confesses, looking off to the side at the circle walls which weren’t too far away from collapsing yet again. The wind picks up, your hair obscuring your vision briefly.

A hollow laugh escapes your lips.

“I won’t shoot you,” you declare, angry tears forming in your eyes and in your frustration you throw your weapons to the ground, making a show of emptying out your pockets of ammo, and all the attachments. Thermites gone too, thrown away from you into the outside of the circle. He watches, hands gripping his weapon tightly and knuckles white from the strain. “I refuse to shoot you!” You cry out, voice loud and tears falling into the dirt below. You don’t care what the public wants or thinks in this moment. You’d killed entire squads without batting an eye, but this was Octane. Your lover- the impulsive idiot you’d come to know and adore. The light that made the slew of battle so much less daunting. The moron that recorded himself snorting powdered alcohol and afterwards had to be rushed to lifeline because he collapsed but you’d never stopped joking about it since.

So many things you’d done together, nights shared and secrets exchanged.

“One of us has to die, amigo. You know that,” He says quietly, that damned mask hiding everything. You respond aggressively, stalking forwards with fury in your eyes. “Then shoot me, damnit! Take the win!!! Because I might get kicked from the games for this but I’d rather DIE than see you expire from something I did. We made promises to protect each over and I will never break that!”

You continue walking forwards, intent in every step and you push your head against the barrel of his weapon, forcing him to aim at you point blank. Holding it there, you could feel the tremble in Octane’s hands now. He was just as sad and scared as you.

“Kill me,” you tell him, and you close your eyes, waiting for the squeeze of the trigger, and the inevitable blackness. A few moments pass, waiting for the sound but it never comes. The rifle clatters to the ground, only now realising the clip was empty from the beginning. His ammo was gone too, before you even got here. Instead rough hands from a day of fighting tug down his mask just enough to capture your lips in a kiss so unbelievably gentle it forced more tears to spring forth, gripping at his shoulders and whimpering into the contact. He pulled away, mask back in place, and pushed you back a few steps.

You could see the steady red light of his camera, recording all of this.

“This one goes out to my number one fan,” he speaks slowly, loudly enough for the camera to pick up. In his hand, the grenade you had looted, and forgotten about on your belt. You pat your side for it, and stare at him eyes wide in horror. “I love you. And I’ll see you soon, amante.”

He pulls the pin, and pushes it to his chest, walking backwards into the circle boundaries.

You scream for him to come back as the orange haze obscures him from view, scrambling to stop him but all you can hear is the explosion as it goes off, and the descent of the dropships as the match comes to a close.

Chapter Text

“Heh- you think that’s impressive? Should of seen me back in my real prime,” Bangalore smirks as she removes the blindfold you had placed on them and brandishes the weapon she’d reassembled in no time at all. “Nobody could step up to the plate like I did,” she subtly brags at the gun is get onto the coffee table and places her hands behind her head smugly. You for your part snicker and claim your place by her, promptly pulling you onto their lap and rolling her eyes at you playfully. “You know this is your day off right? You don’t have to practice today, it’s meant to be for us,” You remind Anita, to which it’s her turn to roll her eyes.

“I know. Doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy getting a chance to show off,” the professional soldier pokes your forehead and you frown with a pout before grinning anyway. Pouting never worked on Bangalore.

How you’d come into this relationship in the first place was unique. Normally uptight and strict with her patterns Bangalore never allowed herself to properly relax, her eyes facing forwards and running hard at winning at all costs. You didn’t blame her once you learnt her story, stranded here effectively while she raised enough funds to hopefully reunite with her family light years away. Potentially losing one sibling was bad enough- being isolated from them all without any idea if they are alive and well? It was something you never wanted to experience firsthand.

Being an ex-member of the IRC already earnt her lots of enemies in the Apex Games thanks to the Frontier war, but you had been different. A neutral party in all of that business you’d come here hoping to gain a name for yourself and earn your prestige in the Apex Games much like many others. You weren’t great, but you weren’t awful either- and it was one fateful training session that you’d watched Bangalore absolutely slaughter a round of holographic enemies in the training rooms that you trotted up to her respectfully and asked if she could help you with your own aim.

She’d glared and said something flippant, believing you to be in on something with the others but as time went on and you were clearly sincere with your request, the solider had caved finding a soft spot for you in all your surprisingly un-ruined and optimistic approach to things. Ever since it had been a natural progression to things, finding yourself falling for the hardened badass and finding out that she wasn’t so tough when Anita allowed her softer side to shine through. She liked perfumes, but the deeper musky ones. She read in her spare time, real books not digital ones and often enjoyed watching films.

An activity you two had planned tonight, actually. If you ever got around to it.

“So what did you want to watch tonight?” You murmur with a soft smile as you gazed up at Anita, her arms wrapped around your middle and enjoying the closeness your position on the couch offered. She cocks her head to the side, eyes drifting to the TV in the room. “I dunno- I didn’t have a chance to think about it much,” a more melancholy note takes her voice and you feel your heart pang in sympathy. You knew what other things were occupying her mind. “Still no contact or news?”

She shakes her head, a hand reaching up to comb through your hair as a distraction. “The locals aren’t exactly fond of the idea of an ex-IRC soldier making friends with their old bosses, no matter the sob story. Can’t say I blame them, nobody is eager for the Frontier war to reignite again.” Bangalore sighs. “Any potential left behind scraps I could use are either well hidden, disposed of or Apex is keeping them well away from me on purpose. For my sake, I hope it’s none of those and I’m just real bad at collecting info.” You frown, shifting to sit on their lap now and kiss their forehead. It pulls a wry smile onto their face, gazing up at you.

“You’ll find something, I know it. You want me to keep tabs too? They won’t be so suspicious of me asking around.” You offer with a serious expression and for the first time today she laughs. It’s soft and quiet but it counts, and you memorise that moment and etch it onto your heart where it belongs. “If you can? I would be grateful. I hate being in the dark like this…”

You nod, reaching out to her face and gently claim a kiss, something Anita hums appreciatively into. It’s only something quick, but it’s tender and you love every second, getting to see the side nobody else did.

“C’mon. Films’ll prolly distract you for a bit. I can order us something while you pick something to watch- and no we are NOT eating your boring ass rations. I want flavour, dangit,” you play rant as she laughs, patting your side complacently. “Fine. But don’t complain if I pick something in the horror genre,” Bangalore smirks. “You know I love those.”

You glare, getting up and heading over to the phone. “You do that and i’m not getting you anything since i’m paying. Now, Chinese or Indian food today?”

It takes awhile, the restaurant a little busy with other orders but with the food chosen meticulously and a blanket fetched to share, you both lay strewn out together on the sofa and half buried in Anita’s arms. She’d chosen some old musical called Les miserables or something of the like and the two of you were enveloped into the plot- right up until you hear the doorbell ring. Bangalore tenses briefly before relaxing, reminding herself that it wasn’t something dangerous.

“Lemme get it,” you mumble, half asleep in the cosy warmth the moment had offered and soon you both had a meal fit for Champions. Bangalore was somewhat reluctant to agree, not wanting to eat too much but with a subtle nudge, she finally forced herself to enjoy the comforts in life. How often you had to do that by now you’d lost count, but you didn’t mind. You loved your badass solider girlfriend and you wouldn’t have her any other way, even if she needed prompts to have things she actually enjoyed once in awhile.

The rest of the evening was spent burrito’d in blankets, finger sized bites of food passed between you and a disgustingly excessive amount of cheesiness on your part. It was the most Bangalore had relaxed in weeks.

Chapter Text

“…And you’re saying that this… Device, enables you to overdose on such potent chemicals but remain perfectly functional?” Caustic questions as Octane lounges (annoyingly, but he lets it slide) on one of the tables. The speedster in question nods, legs kicking back and forth. It’s an odd sight seeing them so casual despite the prosthetics, determined to live life to the fullest.

“Si, it keeps my heart from exploding when I have to run fast and injecting constantly. It filters my blood and keeps everything in perfect condition despite the strain.” Octane explains casually, patting his device as Caustic works on his own projects on the lab bench. The two had become unlikely partners after their interest in chemicals became mutual. While the older man wasn’t particularly keen on sharing his personal research, Octane was a unique case. Having a family line based in pharmaceuticals and medicine left him incredibly keen on scientific subjects, even if first glance it wouldn’t appear that way. The daredevil had surprisingly developed his own drugs as they revealed when asked, prompting the somewhat reluctant friendship between the two.

“Effectively it stems from health stims we use in the arena. I took certain compounds and focused on the performance enhancing aspect and BOOM! My infamous speed stim was born,” Octane cackles, shaking his head in fond remembrance, but Caustic tries to hide the jolt of surprise at the shout. He glares to himself but says nothing. “I use that boom literally though amigo I literally blew myself up a few times concentrating them at first.”

Sliding off the table the daredevil trots up to Caustic and moves to inspect the delicate device he’s tinkering with. It’s one of the Nox traps used in the arena, currently empty of chemicals and harmless.

“So what are you up to, anyway? You haven’t moved from that part,” he questions nosily, leaning over to try and get a better look. He is promptly swatted away with a hand, Octane softly snickering. “The deployment of these traps takes too long. I am finding ways to better reduce their deployment time if you must know,” the last part is laced with heavy sarcasm, but Octane doesn’t blink at it. If anything, he’s more interested now, mask obscuring most detail but Caustic can tell when they’re considering resolutions to problems. They’re surprisingly intelligent behind all that bravado and crass personality, more than they let on and it makes the scientist wonder why they don’t embrace using their talents for better things.

They step away for a second, disappearing from view leaving Caustic confused until they came back with a precision screwdriver from their own personal toolkit they carried when not in the battlefield. It was a small thing, pocket sized but it was handed over regardless.. A finger points without touching to one of the screws in the exposed frame of the traps. “There’s low tension on the firing mechanism because of these screws. They’re not tight enough and you may need to replace them entirely- they look a few quarters of a millimetre too small.” Blinking, Alexander accepts the help and sure enough the screws come loose far too easily. A magnifying glass shows the exact results Octane had predicted, to which the scientist hums thoughtfully. “You have my thanks.”

“Of course,” Octane brushes it off casually but Caustic can see the subtly pride they gain from being helpful. It’s oddly charming in the strangest of ways, and the scientist forces himself back to his work before he can find himself further distracted. That failed however when the daredevil limped back to his previous spot at the table, and with a groan detaches one of the prosthetics causing him trouble. The other is removed carefully, and the stumps are inspected carefully for the source of what Caustic understands to be their pain. The tense posture and suddenly quiet room implies enough, and being someone familiar with injuries the scientist knew exactly what was wrong. Phantom pains, or something similar.

Octane’s too wrapped up in his own little world however to notice the older man set down his tools and instead retrieve their own item from a medkit. Every Champion had one in their home and in their working stations for safety measures and emergencies, and Caustic’s was no different. Potent painkillers were something included, and for once they came in useful as they were given to Octane. They look up, startled, seemingly forgotten where they were. The hesitation in their acceptance of the gift isn’t missed.

“It isn’t poisoned,” Caustic glares, mouth in a harsh line. “If I wanted to kill you, I would of done it while you were distracted.” Octane doesn’t find it reassuring but nods anyway, thanking them quietly. “They’re painkillers from the medkit. Check it later if you wish,” the speedster is waved off and with a slow turn makes their way back to the lab bench on the other side where the trap in question sat still partially disassembled. He makes a point of working quietly, so they can ask for help should the stuntman need it. It’s quiet for about half an hour after that, both quietly doing their own thing and Octane working through their wave of pain. Occasionally a cleaning drone hovers through, similar to Lifeline’s medical drone. It beeps cheerfully, cleaning around the two room occupants and leaves again, until Caustic hears the sound of Octane reattaching his prosthetics.

“Leave those off,” he says gruffly and turns to glance at his lab partner. Octane freezes mid action and processes the statement. “Why? I need to walk-”

“You aren’t walking today. You’re still in pain, I can see the tenseness of your arms. You’ll only inflict damage walking, so tell me who I need to call to help you where you need to go. Otherwise you are staying right here where I know you won’t force yourself into an emergency trip to the medics.”

Octane is stunned to silence, slowly lowering the metal prosthetic in his arms and sighing quietly. They nod eventually, not liking it but accepting it. “…Lifeline. She knows what to do- if you could call…”

They don’t even get a chance to finish, Caustic is already requesting the medic to come pick up her ‘idiot friend’ due to issues with his legs. The ensuing accusations and insults from the call were met with a blank stare and a frown but otherwise were not responded to. Caustic hung up eventually, revealing they were in the main labs of the building. Octane for his part was softly smiling under his mask, surprised by the subtle empathy the scientist really carried. It wasn’t for everyone, but it lurked just barely beneath the surface.

“…Gracias,” he murmurs, glancing over at Alexander. The chemical expert just grunted roughly in return, and went back to tinkering with his trap until Lifeline arrived.

Chapter Text

“So let me get this straight. You’ve never been on a date before?” Mirage is questioning, absolutely baffled by the idea of such a thing. Wraith was quietly sipping her drink next to him at the bar and subtly jabs him in the ribs for being so blunt and rude. You try not to snicker as he complains about it, distracted temporarily. Octane however is quietly sipping away at his drink, a straw just barely creeping under his mask. He wasn’t quite at the stage with anyone here besides you to be comfortable enough to remove it. More of a prestige thing than an anxiety thing though- or so the speedster told you. “I knew you were single but… SERIOUSLY?”

It was the early evening, and the current Champions you were friends with decided to invite you out for a round of drinking to the most popular bar in the city. Rewards for another match well played, and for securing your place in the big 3 for the first time. Gibraltar and Lifeline were around somewhere, but they did mention they might not be staying for long. Business to attend to in the morning, and all that. Mirage and Octane were still trying their best to impress you, but so far tonight it had been relatively tame.

You nod though, cheek resting on your hand. “It’s true. I didn’t know that would be such a big surprise- are dates that common a thing to do?” Mirage splutters over words, raising a finger to annunciate his sentences. “Uh? YES??? How else are you gonna know who’s mr.right from mr.wrong if you don’t go on dates and find out what they’re really like? Or whatever you prefer i’m not judging,” Mirage adds hurriedly and Wraith scoffs, rolling her eyes. “Hey i’m not!”

Sending a wry smile to Mirage’s drinking buddy you look down at your glass thoughtfully. “I don’t know- never really considered it honestly. They sound nice though, dates. What do you do on them?”

For the next half hour Mirage and at times Wraith correcting them tell you stories from their own dating lives, detailing both good and bad ones, and the more you listen the more you find yourself laughing.

They were excellent at telling narratives, and you found yourself almost forgetting your drink at times. Octane however had been oddly silent throughout it all, listening intently to your questions and sometimes providing an answer. Curious for someone normally so active- what had gotten into them?

You turn to the unusually silent daredevil while Wraith and Mirage were distracted, ordering something new to drink while the trickster argued that her side of the story was false.

“Hey, you good?” You murmur, leaning close so they can hear you easily over the rambunctious music of the bar. They nod, for the most part seeming fine. If you hadn’t been friends with them for awhile now, you would never of guessed something was up. “You sure about that? You went quiet the moment Mirage mentioned dating. Want me to change the subject? He’s easy to distract,” You hum in amusement and while it gets a laugh out of Octane he shakes his head again.

“Nah, just prefer listening tonight amigo. Might get going soon though, mindset isn’t in the right place for a ‘round of latenight clubbing’.” You gaze at him thoughtfully, and concede he has a point. Shifting to the edge of your seat, you finish your glass and get up to leave. “Honestly? Me either. Wanna walk back together?”

Your offer catches him off guard, and the pause stretches out long enough to think you’d offended Octane until he hurriedly assures you you didn’t. “No I- just figured you’d want to celebrate your big day eh? Top three is no small thing,” He gets out, paying for his drink and already slipping away with you before the two you’d left behind notice you’d paid and left. “You’re right, but Mirage tends to go over the top. He’s wonderful sure, but I don’t drink that much and I think I left clubbing behind with my 20s,” You joke, stepping out into the night air.

It’s surprisingly pleasant outside, not too cold and you fall into step with Octane as you both start the trek back to the Champion’s Compound. The trams didn’t run this late at night, and it was a little ways through the local forest to get back.

The way back however was lit by fireflies and bioluminescent plants, soft but enough to light the way home. Octane however was sticking close by your side, laughing to himself about your comment. “Left behind with your 20s huh? Sounds like a drag. It’s fun in the right company,” they reassure and you look at them wryly. “…Well, most of the time.”

For a little while it was quiet, only your steps on the dirt road beneath you audible until you spoke up again, glancing over at your current best friend. “So… Why’d you go quiet earlier? I know you well enough that being in a listening mood doesn’t include actually going silent to listen.” He laughs despite himself and rubs the back of his neck, a small sign of quiet insecurity. You find yourself paying rapt attention now.

“Well- I wasn’t sure what to say. Dating isn’t exactly something I’ve done much of. I do things more like… Jumping off cliffs and hoping death stays in my rear-view mirror for my pastimes. Stupid things that should of probably killed me a few times over by now, but man that RUSH! Haha! Nothing like it!” Octane confesses, and you find yourself laughing along with them. It was contagious in the best possible way, listening quietly as he continued. “Guess it just put some things into perspective, how different I am to the others- besides the obvious.” He pats one of his legs, leaving you more curious than before. You decide to be bold for once, and catch his hand in yours.

He doesn’t resist the action, instead his head snapped up to meet your gaze in the glow of the local flora of the roadside.

You give a comforting squeeze to his hand and speak up. “I mean… Guess that means we’re the two musketeers then huh? Solo and all that,” you start off, Octane’s attention completely on you. “Unless… You wanted maybe to go on a date together? Just to see what all the fuss is about?” You fidget under his stare, wondering what was going on in that mind of his. You didn’t have to wonder too much longer.

A laugh of disbelief escapes the daredevil, stepping closer. “Like… A date-date?”

You nod with a small smile. “A date-date.”

The quiet of the night and the faintly glowing forest surrounding you two means you can hear the soft whisper of fabrics when you move, which clued you in to Octane carefully removing his mask in the dull blue light and pulling you close with the gentlest grip you can imagine. A soft noise of confusion escapes you but from the low light you can make out he’s terribly handsome behind that strange maw like mask he wears and those spiderlike goggles. Green eyes glint at you, caught in his hold now. Absently you note he smells really, really good…

“Can I…?” His gaze flickers to your lips. “Only if you give me your answer first,” you whisper back, and he smiles.

“Hah that’s all? I’ve been waiting to ask you out for months! Si, that’s my answer.” Excitement fills your chest but you barely have time to savour the words before you feel him lean in and finally claim his kiss. You’d be lying if you hadn’t thought about it before, but seeing his face was already such a rarity. Mirage was nice… But he flirted with everybody. With Octane? It felt real. Now it felt like it was too good to be true, melting into it and gripping loosely at his shirt in the dimness of the evening. It’s so uncharacteristically gentle that you wonder just how long he’d been thinking of doing this too, leaving you breathless in the sincerity of the kiss.

You part both gasping for breath, and the arms around you tighten just slightly. You rest your head against his chest, listening to the heartbeat that was there steady and strong.

“We should probably get back to walking,” you murmur in amusement, poking him in the side. He smirks and does as you say, but refusing to let go now Octane has you in his grasp. “As soon as we set a date and time for that date, i’m game.”

---

A week later and Octane had been on cloud nine ever since that walk back home from the bar. The others had questioned where you left to, but you replied that you just weren’t feeling the mood and left to walk back solo. Octane had claimed he’d gone to a different bar, off bar hopping to find the best beer in the city and nobody could disprove it.

The speedster when you were both alone practically magnetised himself to your side, excited over the development in your bond and eager to make up for lost time. You were certainly not complaining, taking any excuse to see that pretty face of his. It was unfair how someone so attractive hid their face all the time, a borderline crime you complained to him and he cackled wildly, soaking up all the praise. It was the best time, having set the elusive date a week later from the initial question. Octane was planning something, but what? You had no idea. All he asked was to make sure you were dressed ‘somewhat practically’ for the occasion and if you liked heights.

The heights thing had you marginally concerned, familiar with the daredevil’s ways

You’d ended up saying yes, having absolutely no idea what you signed yourself up for when you did. He however was thrilled, keeping his plans as secret as possible until the big day. “It’s not a surprise if I tell you, is it?” Octane teases relentlessly, and you pouted every single time.

Tonight however was finally the big night, agreeing to set off at sunset for wherever he’d decided on. Octane was good at keeping secrets, you’d give him that, musing in reluctant silence as you prepared yourself for the date. Hair styled, clothes picked out and your scent of choice tactfully applied, you’d like to believe you looked damn good as you checked yourself over in the mirror. Were you going to admit you’d been antsy over this date all day? Absolutely not. Were you childishly looking forward to it and seeing what the daredevil had planned? Absolutely. You fuss over your face a bit more, starting to become more self conscious by the minute before the sound of engines outside alerts you.

You listen quietly and you hear footsteps, then finally a few fast raps on the door to announce the arrival of the one you’d been waiting to see all day. You casually wait a second before opening the door, feeling your heart clench as you did.

Octane had his mask fully off, no goggles to be seen. A hint of eyeshadow and eyeliner smudged on either eye, making his already piercing green eyes stand out even more. A white dress shirt unbuttoned at the top and loose tie covered his torso, open suit jacket rolled up at the sleeves with the dress shirt. Black shorts covered what remained of his legs, prosthetics you’d never seen before tonight. Futuristic but subtle at the same time, it pulled the whole ‘formal punk’ style together. The fingerless gloves made you laugh internally, but considering what he’d arrived on it made sense. A motorbike with green accents rested on its kickstand, somehow unsurprised it would be green. Of course it would be, this was Octane- the man ran around in a neon green crop top in a bloodsport arena. You wouldn’t put anything past him anymore.

Octane for his part had also been stunned to silence, admiring your attire with a quiet scan up and down. You were the first to speak.

“You didn’t tell me the occasion called for formal attire,” you grin gently, gesturing to his outfit. You find yourself stepping out into the dusky night however and coming to greet him with a kiss. Octane accepted it eagerly, pulling you into a hug. “Well… I couldn’t come to your first date looking like I fought in the arena,” he smirks and for a moment you see some of the usual wild look in his eye. You hum appreciatively, enjoying the attention and care he’d taken.

“You look really good though, it’s a shame you hide your face so much,” you kiss his cheek and for a second he goes somewhat bashful. You sense this kind of attire is not something he’d wear much or ever if it weren’t for the occasion. “Ahh well- you get my handsome face all to yourself. No reason to complain there amigo,” he laughs, taking a step back and gesturing to the bike behind him.

“Ready to get going? I know I am!” You roll your eyes playfully and nod, letting him get on his bike first once helmets were given. You shamelessly took a second to appreciate that sight, drinking in just how good he looked before getting on too and holding on with both arms. With a shameless cackle and the warning of, “Hold on!” You both speed off into the night, a thrill growing in the pit of your stomach as he drove. Wherever he’d lead you, you know you were going to have a good time.

---

“….Aaaaaand open!” Octane declares, revealing your destination with a grand flourish after parking and getting off the bike. It was the Apex theme park tourists had access to year round, boasting some of the tallest rollercoasters in the known list of parks. You can’t help it, you cover your mouth and laugh, taking his hand in yours. “Somehow I knew it would be something like this. It’s a very you thing to do,” you chuckle and he shrugs playfully in return.

“Hey can’t improve on perfection. I doubt you would have agreed to skydiving as the first date so… This is the next best thing.” Octane mentions half jokingly and you wonder how long it took him to come to that conclusion. Knowing him? Probably half the week. “Well… I’d argue you could but in this case you’re right. Lead the way lover,” you tease. It takes absolutely zero hesitation for him to do so, already visibly vibrating in excitement.

“We shoot things for a job- you want to shoot things for fun too?” You question wryly as a variety of games and attractions vied for your attention. You were in the section where food stands and games to win prizes were bunched together, wandering around talking and holding hands- something that still made your heart light up. Octane had zero issue showing off that you and he were a thing now, and despite so few in the crowd recognising either one of you, it was still a thrilling thing to do. Two Champions in plain sight- you absently mused that this is how Superman must feel when walking the streets with civilians.

“What you scared you won’t win?” He accuses with a smirk, already paying for a game. You squint and take up the rifle next to him, waiting for the game to start. It was a simple game, hit the targets as accurately as possible and score the most points. Only the guns were terribly inaccurate with no way to aim down the sights, leaving you with a really low score. Huffing, you pointed to the score across the ways, selling large plumes of candy floss and all kinds of sweet treats. “I’m not scared. I’m just more of a betting kind of person. Whoever wins buys snacks?”

His eyes light up at the challenge, stance changing into something much more serious- more like what you’d see in the arena. You resist the urge to smirk, knowing you were both going to draw a crowd. “You’re on. Better prepare to lose, niña!” He laughs wildly and already a few of the crowd walking around is looking over, familiar with that laugh. Getting ready the shootout begins, realising quickly you were gunning for the same targets. The weapons are just as bad as you thought, the BB pellets veering off wildly when it should of been a head on strike. Despite that you both adjusted and were quickly racking up points, wooing the small audience that had gathered behind you. Somewhere you could hear a child cheering you on, encouraging you to beat the person you were ‘fighting’.

Octane is a damn good shot- you find yourself slowly doubting your own chances as with precision and grace under pressure he beat you to a few high valve targets but you found him constantly ignoring the smaller point rewards in favour for the bigger chance to score higher. That strategy allowed you to quietly rack up a significant number, keeping pace with your now boyfriend as the two of you fought it out.

The last minute was the most intense, the targets barely there for a full second before vanishing just as quickly as they appeared. Both of you shared a look of intense concentration as though this was back in the training rooms of the Apex Games, fighting for first place as the scores numbers changed too quickly for your eyes to keep up and still be able to catch the sneaky targets. The audience was invested now, mesmerised by these two experienced shooters showing how it was done. The poor man at the booth laughed nervously, only now noticing just who was playing.

The alarm blared calling the match over, targets flickering out into nothingness. A tense moment passed as the scores took a few moments to total up. You raised your arms in victory, turning to the crowd and letting out a loud cheer which was echoed by everyone surrounding. Octane for his part was somewhat sulky about his loss but still grinning, conceding to you with a pat on the shoulder. The match over, those who still didn’t realise who you were cleared out, while a number of fans remained behind to hopefully talk to you or the person you were with, eyeing the daredevil curiously.

“Would you like to do the honours and choose a prize?” You offered to the vast selection of plushies and toys to choose from. He laughs, nudging into your side. “Really? Do we have to?” You nod with a smirk, pushing him forward a bit to pick something. “You wanted to play- now you get to pick your burden of the night.”

Octane snorts, looking through the selection but laughs when he spots something in particular. You don’t see what it is until it’s too late, realising too slow that he’d picked out the plushie form of your likeness from the arena. Curse those merchandise rights you signed! You metaphorically shake your fist at the sky, before rolling your eyes. He wiggles the big plush at you, the soft toy taking up almost half of his chest. Some of the fans behind you whisper, to which you try to ignore.

“I know what i’m going to enjoy keeping,” he cackles at your expression, hugging it close and smirking all the while regardless of the cameras around. “I think i’ll name it after myself. Write my name on the label and everything.”

You flip him off, knowing full well he’s going to do everything in his power to show off that damn plush of you now. At least he looked cute cuddling it… You thank the booth owner and turn to the fans standing behind you, who immediately begin gushing and excitedly talking about how they never thought they’d see you and him in person. They must have realised who he was without the mask, and Octane was looking less and less comfortable by the second. You glanced to your boyfriend and nudged him to leave subtly, distracting the various people with a smile to which you could see he was endlessly thankful for. Posing for pictures, recording silly voicelines and the odd video for a fan at home, you kindly request for them to delete any pictures Octane hadn’t consented to and was quietly relieved when they did.

“It’s our secret, kay?” You grin, and all of them nod wide eyed, in awe. At least these people weren’t creepy obsessive and malicious- just genuinely star-struck and enthusiastic to meet you. “He was never here,” you wink, and wave goodbye to the group walking off in the general direction your boyfriend had run off to. You’re barely halfway to the stand when you find yourself being pulled behind a ‘employee’s only’ section covered by a big door, realising with a yelp that it was the very same dingus you’d come here with. You release a breath and the fist you’d made to punch whoever had grabbed you square in the jaw. “God! Some warning nextime!”

He looks genuinely bad at startling you, and he apologises before pointing to the person who had been following behind you the whole time, phone out. Some guy with a higher quality camera, a big lense attached.

“Ughhhh the press,” you groan and he nods with a sour look. You could see he was tempted to pick a fight, but you place a hand on his shoulder. “Any particular reason you dragged me into this alleyway and didn’t just punch the guy?” You comment, safe for now as they couldn’t see where you had gone. Octane watches them leave before focusing on you, half paying attention until he was sure you were in the clear.

“Hm? Oh- I didn’t have a plan outside of this, actually,” he admits with a sheepish grin, causing you to shake your head fondly. “Somehow I knew that was the answer.”

---

The both of you nearly get caught by employees walking past, ducking behind crates long enough for them to carry on their way before making your stealthy exit. Together you ran from that area of the park to the next, Octane excitedly leading the way towards the biggest rollercoaster he could find. You realised now what he meant by if you were afraid of heights. Cutting through to the fast pass line thanks to the express pass bands you’d split on, there was no line waiting here. You’d use your ‘Champion’ privilege to get stuff free but tonight? You were just two regular people, blending in and having fun. Using one of the lockers to put your things in while on the ride, you clipped the key onto your rubber wristband and from there made your way into the queue.

The ride itself was borderline obnoxiously neon, pinks and blues fading into greens and purples as the hallway to the ride itself came into view. The carriages you were strapped into and a heavy duty safety bar fastened over your chest gave you second thoughts about letting the daredevil of the group choose the ride, but with the current excited look on his face? You’d let him have this. Whether you were terrified or not, it couldn’t be worse than the dropship into the arena right?

Oh how wrong you were.

The moment the carriage was sent off, it went from a complete standstill to at least 70mph in seconds. The lurch in your chest had you squeak in surprise, only the ride was just beginning. Octane was having the time of his life, living for the rush no matter how he obtained it and tonight it was via rollercoaster. You could hear his laughter with every drop and loop, leaving you dizzy from the vertigo and G force applied to your body but after the first loop you found yourself getting into the ride.

Your eyes met while upside down, surrounded in the neon glow of the tracks and for a second, you understood why Octane was so addicted to the high and avoiding boredom. It all made sense why he was forever chasing the rush he so craved, feeling the buzz in your ribcage as time seemed to slow in the moment. Then you were slammed back into focusing on the ride as the two massive drops approached. You get a stab of fear growing but the enthusiastic cheering of your boyfriend kept you from dwelling on what was to come. “It’s better if you raise your arms and scream, c’mon amigo join me!” Octane encourages and you do so, feeling silly until gravity takes hold and you plunge into the fasted part of the ride.

You didn’t even have to fake the scream, stomach feeling like it was twisting in on itself as you dived through a rainbow of neon hoops that lined the tracks all the way up until the last drop which was complete darkness- then the sudden sensation of falling with no lights to see in the night sky above. It felt like you were freefalling, light by the stars which rushed past in a hurry and before you could fully realise it the ride was over, safety precautions disengaging. Octane was quite literally buzzing, pulling you from your seat only to pick you up in his arms and twirl around with you laughing the whole time.

“Wasn’t that AWESOME!? I want to go again! Can we go again?!”

You can’t bring yourself to say no to that face, even with your windswept hair and his tie now tossed backwards.

---

You’d ended up on every single rollercoaster in the dang part with your boyfriend, reluctantly starting to see what all the fuss was about. You didn’t admit it, but the whole ‘chasing the next rush’ thing was starting to catch on. Three times you rode that neon rollercoaster, the biggest in the part until even Octane had to take a moment to catch his breath and admit the vertigo was beginning to make him sick. With a laugh you’d guided him back to the concession stands, pointing out that he hadn’t even eaten anything since sundown. It was now nearly 10pm, the local star of this planet having set 4 hours ago by now.

“I thought you wanted me to pay?” Octane asks, arm around your side as you pick out things you both felt like eating. You smirked as you pressed his order into his hands, the plush now stuffed into your bag so you could eat. “I’m a gracious winner,” you declare, taking your food with a polite thank you and shamelessly brandishing the pastel green candy floss you’d ordered too. “Plus… I think I kinda get what you mean by the whole adrenaline thing now,” You admit with a smile. He perks up at that, curious.

“Oh?”

You nod in reply. “Yeah. Never really thought about it much but those rides? The fun we had? I can see why you’d always want to live in that moment.”

He hums, already finishing his meal as though a man starved and with how skinny he was you wondered how he achieved such things sometimes. He was truly a man of duality. “It’s something I can’t live without- everything seems so dull when you compare it to really living in the moment. The rush and the edge of fear and excitement, the possibility of things going wrong. S’ why I do what I do amigo.”

You gaze at them thoughtfully, offering your candy floss to share and with a smile that reaches his eyes he accepts, tearing off a piece for you to eat first before claiming a big tuft of it himself. You bump into his side playfully. “Don’t expect me to become a stunt performer any time soon but… I’d certainly ride rollercoaster’s again. Y’know… For the rush,” you comment with an innocent smile and he laughs, clutching his chest and pressing a kiss to the top of your head. “That’s how it all starts- just you wait, you’ll be like me in no time.”

---

The final ride of the night you’d agreed on was the ferris wheel. He’d insisted on it despite you asking if he was sure, and now you could tell he was regretting his choice. His prosthetic foot taps in place as you slowly move higher on the truly massive wheel and you laugh, patting his leg with a smile.

“God can’t this ride go any faster? It’s so slow!” He whines, impatiently looking out the window and you borderline giggle at his sulky attitude. You can’t mistake it this time lit by the dim technicolor glow of the ride. He was absolutely blushing, eyes wide slightly and mouth partially agape at your laugh, stomach alight with butterflies with how cute he found you in that moment. Instead he scoots over to your side, deciding to cuddle while he waited for this slow assent to be over with. Tugging at his tie, you drag him up to claim a kiss, humming pleasantly into it as Octane groans and ventures for more, tongue licking at your bottom lip asking for permission. You certainly don’t deny it, tilting your head just so and you melt into the contact.

It turns more intense, hands gripping at clothes and soft noises of pleasure send heat pooling into your belly, until the sound of explosions outside has you breaking apart with a heavy breath.

Fireworks began going off, signalling midnight had arrived and the nightly display had begun, vibrant colours painting the sky and painting each other in hues of greens and yellows, fading to blue and pink with each new blast. He laughs breathily, still close and you still feel your skin warm from his touch where he had been holding on.

“Not bad for a first date, eh?” He smirks, eyes half lidded and you find yourself squirming in place from that look which was far too sinful to be used in respectful company. You nod, claiming his lips again, a little more forcefully this time as the dull ambience of pops and fizzes is tuned out to focus on his breathing, the shifting of fabric as he pulls you into his lap and gazes up at you above him with a look mixed with adoration and lust. It’s your turn to blush now, arms hanging loosely around his neck. You lean close and press your forehead against his, your eyes closing with Octane’s.

“Best date ever,” you declare with a murmur full of mirth and affection. The daredevil beneath you chuffs a laugh, hand tangling in your hair. You still weren’t at the top of this ride yet and he’d noticed that.

“I’m finding this ride being slow a lot more appealing all of a sudden,” He smirks devilishly, a hand coming to rest on the small of your back. “Maybe there is something to taking it slow on occasion?” You roll your eyes, poking him in the chest. “Just shut up and kiss me you melodramatic idiot.”

He doesn’t complain, and complies.

Chapter Text

You’d been away from the Apex Games for an annoyingly long time.

It’s not uncommon though, many Champions were put in matches outside of the main rings for awhile to entertain other sections of the universe, left for personal reasons or in general had a reason for taking time off. In this case, you’d been the ‘poster child’ face of the infamous bloodsport meeting fans and advertising the upcoming championship in a completely new never-before-seen arena the matches would be taking place in for the new season.

Normally you’d be ecstatic to get paid for things other than getting shot, and jump at the chance to take a paid break but in this particular scenario it had meant being separate from your boyfriend Mirage. The holographic trickster that had flirted and teased his way into your life and heart all while maintaining that debonair smile he was so well known for. He was a softie, and a really nice person when you knew him well but his first impressions weren’t like that at all. You’d thought him vain and stuck up, sleezy at best until you’d had more than a few matches with the guy.

He’d saved your ass more times than you’d ever like to admit, to him (lest it stoke his ego more) or to the media (for your own already wounded pride). When you’d started dating you swear it was like a goddamn romance novel.

Now you sulked as you trudged through yet another interview, smiling for cameras looking your best and explaining how exciting the new season was going to be. The same old bullshit everyone bought into and the entire time you couldn’t help but miss your eccentric boyfriend and his stupid sense of humour. He knew how to make you laugh even on the worst of days. You called, but god the signal was never great. It left much to be desired, and calls like that were never cheap. You got ‘home’ that night to your shitty temporary room on this backwater planet, groaning as a spring in the mattress dug into your side.

“…Fuck it,” you sighed with a morose tone lingering. If you weren’t going to sleep tonight, you could always try and get a short call in while you waited for the local star to crest over the horizon line. You were a pro at using makeup to conceal your dark circles at this point, always being ‘jetlagged’ from all the interplanetary travel and adjusting to the local timezones.

“Phone, call Mirage. Set incoming alert to semi- urgent.”

The phone on your dresser beeped in recognition of your voice and command, the telltale bleep bloops of the merry little call tone playing. It rang several times which made you almost give up until the soft click of an answer came through and your heart lifted up in hope.

“…Babe?” The husky tone of Mirage comes through, half asleep and you almost sob. The connection is almost perfect. You can actually hear him for once. “Mirage! Hey hun! I- oh god were you sleeping?” You question, regret immediately entering your tone. A loud yawn plays across the room and despite yourself you find yourself clutching at your heart fondly. You missed that flirtaceous fool more than you’d ever admit aloud but damnit you were close to gushing it all to him right now. All these months alone had made you touchstarved, eager for attention and affection wherever you could get it.

“Mnn… No. Nah- pfft. Sleep? What you think I sleep? Not for you,” he starts rambling, tone still low from the obvious sleep he was just getting but you can’t help but wipe away the tears that wet the corners of your eyes. How long had it been since you’d been able to talk like this? Too long. It was genuinely awful and you don’t care how much they offer next time, you are telling them to stick that promo tour and its massive cheque right up their ass. You wanted your obnoxious boyfriend again.

“I’ve missed you so much Elliott,” you get out in a hurry, and you can’t help but sit up, clutching a pillow. A few button presses and you’re sharing your screen, showing yourself in your dingy room in the middle of nowhere. “I want to be with you again- this tour fucking sucks. I swear if they ever make me do this again i’m going to force them into the arena and see how long they last,” you quietly seeth and the tired chuckle that comes across on the audio has your expression changing from soft anger into a silly lovestruck expression. God you really were lonely.

“There’s my babe. I missed you too- but not long now right? 2 more weeks left?” He asks, turning on his side of the video. It’s laggy, but it’s clear and you send a silent prayer to whatever god was being kind to you right now.

“…Yeah. But that’s still too long,” you speak softly, tears threatening to fall again. “I hate being without you, being able to touch or hold you- it’s all fake smiles and shitty beds here and I want my dazzling man back,” you comment and you can tell he’s pleased by the compliments. “Dazzling huh? I could get used to this. No no please continue how handsome and amazing I am,” he smiles, and you flip him a middle finger adoring how messy his hair is half asleep in the darkness of the room lit only by the screen or so it seemed.

“I’ll compliment you all you could ever want if you find a reason to get me back there faster. I am genuinely about to lose it.”

He considers this for a moment before dramatically slumping back onto the bed, the back of his hand pressed to his forehead like a fine oil painting. It helps he doesn’t have a shirt on right now, giving you a very nice view indeed as the covers dipped low. “I’m suddenly feeling so faint- doctor tell me it isn’t terma-termil-“ He stops and scowls at himself, ruining his own joke.

“Terminal?” You offer with a lovesick smile, gaze adoring at this fool of a man you called yours.

“That’s the one!” He points, sitting up again. You whistle appreciatively at the shirtlessness and he strikes a pose. “Another thing I miss,” you sigh wistfully. “Don’t make any plans the night I get back that ass is so mine.” He laughs, head thrown back and hair covering his eyes briefly and another twinge of adoration plays at your heartstrings. He laughs for some time, prompting you to join in and for a good minute, you both are laughing as if there wasn’t millions of light years between you. The mirth dies down after a time, and you look forlornly at the screen. Elliott notices this and sobers up, expression concerned.

“Hey… You really need some help? I can work something out, y’know.” You shake your head, wiping at your eyes absently despite there not being any tears anymore.

“No… I’m just. I hate being alone, without you. I miss everything about us and I can’t even touch you right now. Can’t kiss you, mess up your pretty boy hair-“ “Hey!” “-or just hang out. The connection is so bad even calls are patchy. Is it too needy of me to admit I hate being apart?”

He listens despite his protests, and shakes his head. “I miss you just the same. But just two more weeks left and a hefty pay day coming too. It’s worth what… Like 3 wins in the ring? I’ll treat you to something nice when you get back, you wait.” He promises, and you find another smile coming to your lips. “You better hold up to that promise,” you accuse and Mirage holds a hand to his chest. “I swear. Now- was anyone flirting with you? I need to know. For reasons- totally not because i’m going to beat their ass later but…” He pauses. “…No i’m absolutely going to beat them if they were. Continue,” he gestures, and for the first time in weeks, you manage to find it in you to genuinely laugh despite the situation you two were both in.

---

You’d been anxiously tapping your leg and bouncing in place the entire ride back to the main arena of the Apex Games. You hadn’t been able to sleep, not since you knew you were less than 24 hours away from seeing your beloved idiot boyfriend who wore neon yellow in a bloodsport. People must of sensed your snappishness and impatience and kept well clear to which you were thankful for that. You had never been so relieved to enter faster than light travel before in your entire life. You’d outright sprinted out the ship the moment it touched down, and lo’ and behold in the glorious light of the midday sun Mirage stood in full arena attire, ready to meet you.

You shamelessly admit you cried when you two finally collided, nearly bowling him over with the force you ran into the man and hugged him so tight as though he may disappear if you let go. When you finally removed your bawling face from his chest and neck your face was absolutely covered in butterfly kisses and twirling you around as though you weighed nothing to him. Mirage had definitely gained muscle since you’d last seen him, looking better than ever if that was even possible. And he was all yours, wiping tears from your face and rambling over and over how much he loved and missed you.

It was a stupendously cheesy moment, not wanting to let go of the other and you were sure someone was recording it to use for the news but you didn’t care. You had your stupid banana coloured suit wearing trickster back and you’d fight the world for him like he would for you.

“I’ve missed you so fucking much,” you practically sob, tears still flowing and he rubs your back, kissing away the tears with a smile so full of love you thought you might die on the spot. You kiss, forceful and passionate and god every second was perfect, missing the taste and the smell and the feel of everything that was Elliott Witt. Your hands tangle loosely around his neck and with a bit of heft he practically hoists you into his arms, carrying you off like a bride. Pressed close against his chest you had absolutely zero complaints, making up for lost time away from the cameras so you could reunite for real.

“Me too, babe. Me too…” He whispers, refusing to let go for a very long time.

Chapter Text

Never before had the hunter felt so alive, running for their life and straining to hear where you’d come from next.

You’d descended on their team before Bloodhound could notice something amiss and the newer players they’d been travelling with fell much like most did in your wake. You were an active hunter and now treated as a real threat whenever you were a competitor in the main Apex Games. Ever since your fantastical debut at 2nd place out of 20 squads you’d been making a name for yourself. Many were convinced it was just incredible beginners luck- the newbie making a fool of Bloodhound? Unheard of.

But the next match you’d placed 5th. The one after that 3rd. Your numbers of kills were always high and your appearance from seemingly out of nowhere became the talk of the entire Apex fan base. Nobody could figure it out and Bloodhound was getting the worst of it, the press wondering if the number one was soon to be number 2. Trends in stats certainly seemed for it to be the case and in this particular hunt Bloodhound was the prey, out of ammo, low on health and fleeing well placed grenades and arc stars.

The most annoying part was they couldn’t even see the map thanks to your infuriating ability.

You’d chased them all the way to the airbase, out onto the pier and runway with nowhere else to go but face you, every advantage yours. It was humiliating how easily Bloodhound had been toyed with this round, out of options. You’re set on finishing it though, ending it with your shortsword than a gun which the hunter viewed as a mistake. They were no newbie- but now neither were you. You had a name now in this ring and people had learnt to fear it and the silence you worked in.

Fitting.

The first strike belonged to Bloodhound, landing a kick square in your abdomen but you recovered quickly from the wind knocked out of your lungs. The purple blue armour did its job, absorbing the impact and letting you return the favour with a ruthless jab coming out of a slide, sliding Bloodhound’s side and drawing slick redness with the weapon you so favoured. The next attacks were danced around, the hunter on the defensive as their expressionless visage watched and learnt your patterns. What a pretty dance it was, light on your feet a thunderous buzz filled the hunter’s lungs and veins, taking in every detail as they felt what it was really like to be on the receiving end of your rapturous fury.

Shrouded in mystery yet to be unveiled, breath coming in bursts Bloodhound committed everything to memory. The thrill of the hunt unleashed, only enhancing the experience as your dodges flowed finer than the silks of an empress. There was something special about you and the only words that came to mind in the red filled haze of the hunting instinct was the word ‘valkyrie’, over and over and over. The maidens of battle, collectors of the honoured dead. Servants of the Allfather- much like Bloodhound.

This battle however ended with a sickening crunch as you’d come to lose your patience with the hunter and kicked high enough for your boot to make contact with their mask. The hunter’s stance shrank, posture sagging and unable to stop the momentum they’d been hit with they rolled on the floor they collided with- and promptly off the large drop into the ocean waves below. The last sight Bloodhound gets to witness is the blurred form of you, watching them fall into the freezing cold abyss below, and the sudden fade to blackness.

---

No win, again.

You weren’t quite there yet, and it was growing frustrating. Another 3rd place despite the elimination of your rival who had been very obviously absent from the pick up when the match was finally over.

Despite your best efforts every team that saw you now knew to kill on sight and lacking your teammates at the time whos banners you were on the way to resurrect you’d been shot across the way from a Kraber. No confirmation yet on who did it but whoever it was they were staying pretty quiet. The reassurance of finding out later was enough for you but for now you needed to learn more and get better. You weren’t good enough yet for number one or so fate was telling you and you were intent on proving that weave of fate wrong.

You spent that evening at the firing range, running simulation after simulation on the hardest difficulty with every weapon you could get your hands on. You were exhausted by the end of it, body protesting from the extreme strain seated on the floor in the middle of the room with sweat pouring off your body and forehead. The sound of quiet slow clapping causes you to lift your head in its direction lazily, at this point not caring who was there.

Until you saw Bloodhound standing there, looking at you on the floor and casually walking closer. You stumble to your knees, but seeing you try to get up they stop.

“You will burn yourself out pushing so hard, Félagi.” They murmur as you stand looking very wobbly, panting and horridly overworked. You glare, mouth upturned in response. “What I do in my time is my business. Why are you here?”

The demand doesn’t surprise them, their arms crossing.

“To stop you from destroying yourself. You are already on your way to what you wish to achieve vinur,” they gesture to you, pointing to your slumped form. Your scowl only deepens. “You preach pretty, but you’re the one who died earlier.”

The conversation falls silent after that, tension in both forms as either one refused to back down. In the end, Bloodhound only had to push you firmly to send you to the floor with a knife in their hand and a grip tight on your throat. In your state there was no real resistance, only strangled vocals as the blade was pressed to your chest like a promise and the unbreakable pin their form had on you. Kicking did nothing, muscles too weak to give any real effort. They held you there until you stopped resisting, not moving or saying a word but also silencing your struggles with their grip to your throat. A harsh sigh exits their gas mask, and you wonder for a moment if they really are angry at you.

The soft words that reach your adrenaline filled hearing say otherwise.

“You see? You are unable to fight me now. No fighter is invincible and pride is a fatal flaw. You will only injure your own future battles, persevering like this.” You listen, eyes flicking down to the knife to your chest and catching the message its removed slowly. Carefully, they allow more oxygen into your lungs as though eyeing a volatile snake with its fangs bared. They weren’t wrong, you would strike if they made any wrong moves pinning you beneath them like this. You shift carefully, knee coming up to nudge their bulk off your side and with a quiet apology they move allowing you a sigh in relief.

“I was shot there earlier,” you inform them with a soft growl, to which they huff. “I know,” they help you up and with a searching look you accept it. Admitting defeat you call it quits, signing out of the system. Bloodhound nods approvingly, walking with you out of the room and ready to stop you if you changed your mind. Noting that they hadn’t left yet you spoke up again, tone less hostile for now.

“…So. Why’d you come find me again? Better yet, how’d you even know I was here? I don’t exactly make an emphasis on telling people where i’m going when I want to train.”

Bloodhound hums in amusement, deciding to walk with you for now or so you guessed. “You have habits, vinur. Every match is followed by a visit to the training room eventually.” You stop, frowning at them in mild concern. “Anyone tell you you’re really creepy? And that you’re also a stalker? Because you are and it’s super weird. I’ll unmask you on TV if you keep keeping tabs on me like that.”

The threat doesn’t hold any real weight to it considering you hold the door open for them instinctively when you walk out of the training centre together, your sporty attire a touch too revealing for the colder air of the dusky sky but it was a relief in ways. The cold made the hot burning strain ease ever so slightly, and the uncomfortable sweat clinging to you cool your overtaxed frame faster.

“I have been told such things, yes. You are not subtle with your routine vinur,” they laugh softly. It catches your attention, having never heard them so casual before. The most you’d seen of Bloodhound was in battle or the training rooms, occasionally taking you up on your offer to spar together. A huff escapes your lips before you can stop it. “I wasn’t expecting to have a stalker on the premises, but I’ll take your advice into consideration. Weirdo,” you accuse again, only earning another laugh. It was so strange, gentle and yet so warm. It caught you off guard and tripped up your line of thought, not even minding that they seemed to know the route you were going to take by holding open the door this time.

“Thanks,” You mutter bitterly, unsure if now you really should be concerned or not. They seemed OK so far… Minus the knife and strangling part. That was kinda hot though but you’d never admit it out loud. Any other time? All over that like a squirrel up a tree, but with Bloodhound? They were unpredictable. You’d pass for now though you had your curiosities on occasion.

“You are welcome,” they nod and awkwardly you point at the direction you lived as you both walked into the Champion’s compound where all of the 60 combatants of the main Apex Games were housed. “Uh… I hope you haven’t followed me home too but i’m going this way. You can stop following me now, i’m not going to go running off to the ‘rooms again,” you ask drily and now they really do laugh, a gloved hand going to their stomach padded by armour and a thick coat likely made of quality hide. The sound is actually… Really really nice. You find yourself cursing internally as more curiosity stabs at your heart.

“No. That would be rude. I only followed you today to thank you for the game, and wish you a swift recovery. You will need it, Félagi fighter,” they reply with an underlying tone of mirth, before turning and bidding you a good night. The entire exchange leaves you disorientated, and wondering what just happened.

You pretend later that you aren’t imagining how their body felt on yours late in the night, and how easily they’d incapacitated you with a knife hovering over your heart. You pretend that you weren’t dreaming about the chase, what it was like to be both the hunter and prey in the heat of battle and how it could change in a second. But most of all, you pretend that Bloodhound’s namesake wasn’t on your tongue when you reach your high in the deep darks of the night, cresting on a high that faded all too quickly.

Chapter Text

He was lucky the blast wasn’t fatal.

Standing so close to a grenade in any other circumstance would of killed him but in this instance, Octavio had been at least smart enough to not be directly on it when getting a running jump start. He didn’t remember much else other than the blast- the searing intense pain hidden behind his mask and goggles…

Darkness as the screams of awe that faded into horror faded away. Then waking up in agony, nurses flanking either side as he cried out for pain relief and they hurriedly reassured him as morphine was administered in a large dose. It didn’t help, not when his blurred vision saw the state of his legs and his screaming started anew, hyperventilating until more doctors were called over to help deal with the situation-

Octane bolts up with a start, you gently shaking him awake with a deep look of concern. He’s trembling under the touch, eyes wide and very visibly shaken. His breath is quick, lips dry and it doesn’t take too much of a genius to realise that he’d been stuck in the grips of a nightmare. Sucking in a deep breath Octane tries to relax, releasing the breath shakily as he nigh collapses onto the mattress below again. Your hands retreat reluctantly, expression never changing as a hand comes up to his forehead to wipe away the sweat that had gathered.

“Octane?” You ask softly, reaching out for his hand that was cast to his side now. His gaze flickers to you in the dimness of the room, and in those sharp viridian eyes of his you can see fragments of pain dancing, mingled with guilt and regret. “…You good?” You finish lamely, and after a long few seconds that seemed to stretch out forever he nods, brushing his hair from his brow now in tussled messy clumps compared to the soft wisps it usually formed.

“…Yeah. Sorry for waking you up, mi amor. go back to sleep,” Octane whispers, attempting to turn over but you don’t let him, shifting close and slipping into his arms all that you can. More silence as he carefully moves to accommodate you, the sound of sheets the only thing audible in the quietness of dark room. You can make out his face semi-clearly now, the light of the planet’s moon casting a subtle light that slipped through the curtains mostly drawn. He’s reluctant to admit anything but the coldness of his form welcomes your unrelenting gentle warmth, subconsciously seeking reassurance and comfort in your smaller form. You say nothing as he buries his head against your neck and you feel tears soak your shirt, the shaking never leaving his grip.

It isn’t often the nightmares get him anymore, but they come, usually closer to the anniversary of the gauntlet incident.

Octane tries to ignore the date usually, and play off the pain especially when the phantom pains come with the dreams. He hates it when they come because he wakes up shouting and screaming every time. It’s never the images of the gauntlet that get him- it’s the doctors and nurses afterwards. The feeling of hands holding him down as the sight of his newly amputated legs leave him with a raw throat and an urge to punch the nearest wall. What he hated most though was having these moments when you slept peacefully next to him, seeing the legendary, untouchable ‘Octane’ in such a vulnerable state. Reduced to sobbing from nothing but old memories and old pains knocking on his door.

You stroke his hair comfortingly, letting your boyfriend grieve in peace for awhile and giving him the anchoring point he needed right now. A kiss is pressed to the top of his head, and you try to be strong for the both of you. “Do you need your medication?” Your voice is so quiet you have to repeat yourself when the daredevil doesn’t respond.

The slow nod against your shoulder is heartbreaking, and moving away gradually you can see the bloodshot and tired look on their face. Dark circles rest heavy around their eyes making the runner seem even more gaunt than usual. “Stay still,” you murmur as you get up, rifling through the lowest drawer blindly, groping for a familiar box and tube in the inky blackness. The coldness of the tube reaches you first and you smile at your memory coming through for you while the other is a bit more of a fight. The bedside light is clicked on and you glance up, realising that Octane had done it.

“I had it,” you state with a wry smile as you grab the final thing and a ghost of a laugh echos in the hollow of his chest.

“You were too slow…” The faux complaint dies as you squirm back into place, Octane claiming all the warmth they could in seconds. They were so very cold. How had they not warmed up yet? You press kisses to their cheek, handing over their painkillers. You prepare the gel to not be so cold, the numbing cream leaving your hands numb but you could deal with that for him. “And you are too cold. Didn’t want to wear anything tonight?” You question lightly as you gesture to the lack of shirt or shorts, just boxers again. “Not that i’m complaining- it’s a very nice view.”

A warmer laugh is your reward this time, shifting away enough to get at what remained of his legs properly. He takes the tablets dry, not even bothering to chew before sitting up to accommodate you better. You’d done this enough times now that Octane trusted you implicitly. It still didn’t stop his mild disgust looking at the scars though, as your gentle fingers ran over the worst of the damage.

“You don’t have to lie for my sake, amigo. These legs… They aren’t made for walking.” He tries to joke lamely, the punchline playing off his normal comments but it leaves you gazing up at him It twists your heart so much to see him deflate, face closed off and with a soft “hey,” he looks at you again. Your hands never leave the stumps where the stitching scars are, a soft smile your expression.

“You’re stunning, prosthetics or not. You think i’m going to be turned away by this?”

You press kisses where your hands were feeling the gel numb your lips, kneeling to do so and you can tell the action has conflicting responses. Good- maybe it would provide enough of a distraction. Calloused hands reach out for you, Octane pulling you close against his chest. You huff a laugh, stealing a kiss where you can and with great care, straddle his waist as he lies down with you. Beneath you, he gazes up in wonder, eyes full of emotions you can’t name with how they bleed into each other.

“Octane or Octavio. You’re both mine, aren’t you?” You smile. He flinches at his old name and you cup his cheek gently, not ignoring the way he instinctually nuzzles into it. “So… I’m not lying. You are lying by saying you are fine. You want to talk about it?” You question, and he tries to avoid the question for awhile before sighing. He’s not escaping now. He nudges you gently to move and you do, shifting positions so he can cosy back into your side and seek precious warmth under the covers now his pain is under control. The trembling is there… But it’s subsided now, enough where it doesn’t feel like a panic attack imminent.

Gently, slowly, like a lazy stream the confessions pour out from the runner and all of the weight he’d been carrying since the dream lifts as though something physical had been lifted. You listen, to every grisly detail and thought. All the things you knew and didn’t know swirling in your mind as he grips tighter at your shirt in certain points to the tale, and your response is to only hold him closer.

“…My parents refused to pay for my new legs. They thought it would be the chance to finally turn me into their ideal well behaved child- malditos bastardos,” Octane swears with a sound of hatred and bitterness in his tone. You share the sentiment, not knowing fully what he said but you can guess. “I knew I was only a means to an end in their business as their heir, I’d known it for years. The day they tried to make a deal with me on my hospital bed missing both legs, lawyer presenting a document for me to sign my life away? It confirmed it and made it all worse. Worse than what I had done to myself.”

His gaze darkened, angrily scrubbing at the corners of his eyes. “I told them to stick their corporate bullshit up their ass, that i’d never need their help and asked the doctors to kick them out. I guess I was right- but I owe Ajay everything. I still feel guilty,” Octane admits, a grimace covering his handsome face. “I’d wanted to die, being told I would never walk again. Confined to a chair for the rest of my life? I couldn’t fucking take that. I cried more that entire week than in the entirety of my life- what was the point in living? I was just going to be that lonely kid again, with nobody really caring about them. Just a burden.”

He bites his lip, hesitating.

“They put me on suicide watch after I tried to overdose the first time,” he looks down at his hands, small scars covering the knuckles. “It took a month of therapy and convincing me that life could improve- but Ajay gave me something better. I’ll always be in debt to her.”

“You know the rest, compadre. I got new metal legs and came all the way out here- where I met you. If I made something of myself, live for the rush while proving my familia wrong? That was just a bonus, along with the fans.”

You’d stayed quiet the entire time, but the moment Octane concludes his story you can’t help but lean down and kiss them. Slow and full of every emotion from empathy to anger at their parents, searching for something you didn’t know yet. He melts into it, hands fisting into your shirt and hair and urging you closer so he can take more. Mouth slanted just right it pulls a soft whimper from your throat and for the first time since Octane woke up you can feel a real smile against the softness of his lips.

“You’re stupid,” you get out when you have to catch your breath. “Reckless, idiotic, and obsessed at times- but you aren’t a bad person. You didn’t deserve to be treated like the means to an end, and you did the right thing.” You confess, bunching up the covers more so you could rest your head better. He hums idly, doing the same as he wraps himself around you as much as his limbs would allow. “…But thank you for telling me. I love you deeply, y’know? You’re so much more than the five seconds before the finish line or the means to a company’s success- no matter what your mind and logic tell you. Now sleep love… You’ll need it tomorrow.”

You can feel him look up at you, but you’re already half asleep, eyes closed and filled with relief as his body finally starts to feel semi warm and not like a corpse. Either he was too tired or didn’t notice the confession, because the last sentence you hear before sleep claims you is a very quiet;

“…Gracias. Eres mi todo.”

Chapter Text

He tried to ignore the flaming hot strikes that burnt his very core every time someone else got the kill on your team and you in all your warmth congratulated them on a job well done. Always bright, even in the darkest of times, you found the light in places nobody else thought to check leaving them to gather dust until they were altogether forgotten.

Mirage wasn’t someone that dwelled on the negative or so he told himself. He was Mirage, adored by millions and a big time player in the Apex Games. The infamous bloodsport everyone wanted to watch but denied ever having seen it unless you were particularly shameless or it really was just that common in the system as a pastime. He lived for the spotlight, charming the masses and revelling in the attention it got him.

Then there was you.

Nothing flashy at first, and nobody in the competition batted an eyelid as you entered the fray for the first time but you’d remained optimistic even in the worst of fights. Shrugging playfully when you gave up your last shield to your squad mate, and smiling whenever someone stated what you were doing was suicide. It was- but it worked out for you.

Then you were placed on Mirage’s team and for the first half of the match he’d thought you were just another rookie looking for some easy fame, nothing special. Then you’d come through in a tough spot, bringing the squad back from the cusp of elimination in the wake of the Bloodhound gang. You’d laughed at the trickster’s quips, welcomed him back with a radiant smile and cover fire that had even Gibraltar running with the sheer ferocity of it. The genuine enthusiasm to be there, helping however you could struck Mirage like a slap to the face and for a moment the grip on his health stim faltered. If you’d noticed the blunder, you were kind enough to not tease him about it.

Mirage however was certain that this was all an act, put on for the cameras to gain popularity but then he’d started coming across you outside of the ring too. You were just as obnoxiously pleasant, welcoming all that came near and damnit… Whenever he started caring for you he wasn’t sure.

Too many times Mirage felt like a moth to a flame, seeking out conversation and someone who appreciated him outside of his act. You’d known it was an act- of course you did. Somehow it didn’t escape your steady and methodical gaze, picking the holographic tricker apart but choosing not to scorn what you found there despite all the hairline cracks threatening to break at any moment. If anything, you provided the much needed glue to hold him together again.

But that was when you’d noticed Mirage shooting looks behind people’s backs whenever you were kind to others. A quiet resentful intent settling on others no matter what you did, even if it was just a simple thank you. You’d decided enough was enough when he’d made a particularly hurtful quip to himself when killing an enemy in the arena.

---

“…Elliott?” You speak up slowly from the quietness of the workshop, searching for him in the various places he usually was. No sign of him in the electronic storage, nor the bandsaws and various metal working machines. A cocky voice calls out behind you, sounding rather pleased with himself.

“Don’t you know better than to not watch your back? You’ve seen me in action,” Mirage grins as you turn around. He’s dressed in messier clothes than normal- a mechanics overall covering his legs and waist before being tied off. A white vest covers his torso, marred by oil and dirt likely accumulated from tinkering with the various machines here. Thick gloves were pulled off, wiping the sweat that had gathered on his brow and laughing to himself as he brushed the hair from his eyes. “Soooo… What’s up? Not often I see you wanderin’ around here trying to find me- but I know, I know. You couldn’t resist.”

The familiar banter makes you laugh in return and his gaze lights up, sighing as he leans against a nearby bench. The outfit looks good on him despite it being entirely practical. He still has his orange tinted visor on his head though, barely half covered by his tightly curled hair.

“Well, I wanted to speak to you, actually. Are you busy? I don’t want to interrupt with something that can wait until later.” You hum idly, coming to rest by his side. You don’t resist the arm that wraps around your shoulder, glancing over at him as he looks back innocently. He shrugs.

“…Well now you have my atten- attenti-“ A breath. “…Attention. You have it,” Mirage finishes with a quiet huff, still occasionally stumbling over his words. “I’m not busy. Not for you- so what’s up?”

You almost feel bad with what you had to say next, mouth pulling downwards into a frown.

---

“You’re kidding right? Tell me you’re kidding? I’m not jealous,” Mirage defends himself, his posture becoming taut and mildly aggressive. You sigh, knowing this would happen.

“You glare at everyone I talk to when you think I can’t see. You look away every time I’m laughing at someone else’s joke and make a point of showing off and making everyone else seem worse than you or making horrid comments. If you aren’t jealous, then what is it?” You reply, crossing your arms with a harsh look. He flinches from that, and struggles to grasp for words that wouldn’t quite form. The sight almost makes you feel bad but you stand firm on your grounds. Mirage needed to learn.

There was a few tense moments that you thought he was going to fight back against you, arguing with you but the tension slowly began to slip away bit by bit, leaving him almost sinking into the table behind him as the weight of your words pressed down harder than you’d intended. His eyes darken, shadows hanging over his sharp brows and giving him the appearance of someone far older than 30. A hand comes up to wipe at his face tiredly, not meeting your gaze deliberately.

He speaks up quietly, sounding far more broken than he’d ever admitted before.

“…I…” Mirage starts. “It’s because… You made everything seem ok. Like i’m not the last child of four my mother has- and everything isn’t ok but I have to pretend it is.”

He turns around, fussing with whatever was on the bench, putting things away with more force than intended.

“You make me feel wanted. Help me forget what waits whenever I call home and find out mom isn’t doing too well again. Sickness and stress from work- and damnit I don’t mean to use you as an escape. There is so much shit in the world and no amount of fans is going to overshadow that but you-“ he stops, hands slamming on the desk when they shake too much and his voice cracks more than he meant it too.

“You make it bearable. And I love you, fucking god do I love you but i’m way out of your league for you to even consider a wreck like me,” Mirage continues rambling, long past the point of stopping. “So I get a lil’ jealous yeah. Because I can only dream of being the person you find home in, like I do with you. I hate that I’m not the person you come to when you need help for once, and I can’t do shit when the time really matters to show you how much you mean to me.”

“…So uh… Glad I got that off my chest,” he jokes lamely, finally turning around. You aren’t glaring at him or left already, so that was a good sign. Whatever fire that had been burning in Mirage’s chest was gone now, leaving him exposed and vulnerable under your gaze. The rawness of his words hurt himself in the process and for the first time since the behaviour had started you saw just how many cracks his armour had. Bending and bowing under the stress of survivors guilt and the legacy of a family generation nearly eliminated by war- and here he was running around in a death game. You reach out to him, persisting even when he flinches away from the hands that come to touch either side of his face, gazing down at you in confusion. You sigh, pressing a gentle kiss to his forehead.

Tears fall unbidden from Elliott’s eyes, expression contorting into anger at himself for letting the mask slip but you hold on, persisting with your grasp and not letting him look away.

“…I didn’t know the extent of your struggles, and for that I am sorry. Your burden isn’t something anyone should have to carry, and you have my condolences. What I won’t accept however is your treatment of others.” He processes everything you say slowly, analysing it excessively.

“You’re an idiot, frankly. All the time you spent envious of others, you missed the most blatant thing right in front of you, despite all your brilliant talents and achievements.” You tell them and for a moment his brow creases more. It’s a tense moment before you continue. “All this time i’ve been listening, helping you live in the Arena, watching you make your mother proud in your own way. Supporting you, having your back with every fire fight when the odds seemed impossible to win. You are the biggest, densest idiot I have ever met in my entire life. Not even Octane with his infinite wisdom of grenade jumping for a hobby compares to you for noticing that I have loved you this entire time. Hoping you’d notice, despite everything you carried on your shoulders like a second armour.”

When had you started crying? You didn’t know, but you could feel tears welling and falling with every sentence. Your voice wobbled, but you contined anyway with no more care for what he thought.

“I love you, you fucking idiot. So stop acting like you’re the worst being in the universe, and do something useful for a change, and say that phrase back to me. Before I change my mind, and regret falling for you hopelessly and irrevocably.”

He was so stunned into silence that he tried to speak multiple times only to open and close his mouth uselessly.

 

Then you hear them- and a choked sob escapes your throat.

Chapter Text

In the pleasant warmth of the early morning, cocooned in blankets and pillows you wake gently. Awareness finding you slowly as though the world was carefully coaxing you to consciousness. The morning itself was somewhat cold, causing you so shuffle and cling tighter to the covers and a quiet grunt from the movement gives you pause. An arm curls around you a little tighter as though fearing you might slip away at any moment. Octane.

You open both eyes slowly and smile at the sight of him still tucked against your back, not moved once since the two of you had nigh collapsed after the match yesterday. You’d lost but not by much but the Arena had been gruelling this time around, the weather type having shifted to rain and in some places it made traversing open landscapes even more dangerous in case you were stuck in the mud. Octane himself had hated the entire experience, organic matter and debris causing his mechanical joints in his legs to cease up or stop working entirely. More than once it had happened in a fight, Gibraltar coming to the rescue with his shield. The end of the match left both of you in need of an urgent shower, another bath after that then sleep.

At least you had 3 weeks off now with the season concluded, preparing for the next one was ways off just yet. You could relax just a little, and today especially both of you needed the T.L.C. He shifts in his sleep, a slow and steady sigh building up as he nestles into the comfortable blankets you’d bought months ago by now. It was adorable, the Spaniard looking so much less troubled when asleep and the circles around his eyes didn’t seem so hollow. The rugged stubble could use a shave but he always had some no matter how good the razor. The gauntness of his cheekbones made shaves particularly uncomfortable, and you don’t blame him for not trying overly hard. Octane’s splash of neon green and black Mohawk was tussled from rest, and in that moment you swore life couldn’t get much better as you reach up a hand to softly move it from in front of his face.

He chooses that moment to open one eye, a lazy smirk stretching out onto his features.

“Can’t keep away from me, eh?” A low chuckle and you roll your eyes, tilting your head back to press a kiss to the underside of his jaw. “I liked you better when you were sleeping,” you reply getting even more of a laugh. Shifting sides, you turn to face him and with a smile you let yourself be pulled face to face, foreheads resting against one another.

“...Yesterday was kind of loco huh? I still feel the dirt stuck to me,” your lover whines, trying to disappear beneath the massive bed sheets. He was already half hidden by the pillows you’d gotten for his side of the bed, knowing how much he appreciated them when limb pains came knocking. Most of the time however, he just sprawled out on them like a cat napping from the most energetic case of ‘zoomies’ with a lazy smile. You had more than a few pictures of ‘Catane’ tucked away on your phone, never to be shown to your at times absolutely ridiculous boyfriend. He’d only try to delete them or worse, get revenge.

You however hum in amusement, fingers deftly de-tangling the mess that was his hair right now. You didn’t miss the way he butted into the palm of your hand, only adding to the ‘catlike tenancies’ he had on occasion. At some point you were just going to outright adopt a cat and see if he’d love them endlessly or hate it. Your nails scratch delicately against his scalp, as the last few knots slip loose and a groan escapes his throat. Definitely a cat.

“It was a rough day. We got through though- even if we didn’t win this time around we have our spots on the Champion squad next season. For now though...” You lean down and this time claim a kiss on the lips which Octane is greedy for. He’ll take any attention he can get from you, especially on lazy days where he finally slowed down just enough to let himself rest right before kicking it off again the day after. You liked making the most of those lazy days, and you had a sneaking feeling he did too.

“...We need breakfast.” You finish, laughing as he protested. “Nooo... Food can wait I don’t want to get up miel.”

Octavio all but clings to your waist but he isn’t persistent enough to keep his grip and soon enough you’re up and walking to the door, the pile of blankets already absorbed by the daredevil. You can just about see the very tippy top of his head, the signature green poking out but otherwise it’s a blob of comfort and warmth, with a grumpy Spaniard inside commenting how he was most certainly not getting up yet. You roll your eyes at his antics, and decide to meander into the kitchen anyway.

“Babe did you move everything around again?” You half ask half shout from the kitchen as you look through cupboards. Everything was empty, not a single can or item of food to be found. Huffing at the lack of response you tried the fridge instead, not a whole lot of options in this sparse living arrangement you had. Every champion had a simple but nice place to say. Clean, some furnishings but all of it was very impersonal. Out of all the Champion’s homes you’d been invited to, Octane’s was the only one that felt truly unlived in still. It lacked personal items or touches, everything bare bones. You wondered if he simply hadn’t had time, or really didn’t care.

Either way, you saw nothing in the fridge either minus a couple of eggs, the last few slices of cheese in a wedge and some steak left over from the restaurant you’d gone a day ago with him to celebrate the anniversary of your relationship. You were surprised that was even there, Octane had a habit of snacking late at night and devouring anything in the fridge- which often included hundreds of creds in sushi rolls if they were still there. He didn’t even have the shame to show for it either, he’d just shrugged with that shit-eating smile he had and stated that they were in his fridge. You couldn’t wait until the day he left something at yours, especially if it was his jacket. He wouldn’t get that shit back unless he begged for it.

It wasn’t a whole lot to work with... But you could make it work.

With no sign of Octane you took it as him getting in an extra hour or two so you took your time working with what you had, adding oil to the pan, cracking the eggs and grating the cheese down into one mixture before finally adding the now chopped up meat. A simple steak and cheese omelette it would be, with whatever toppings that still existed in this ghost town of a kitchen. Thankfully salt and pepper were one of them, adding some as you flipped it over and beamed at the perfectly cooked golden brown deliciousness you’d just created. Even Gibraltar would be pleased with that, and that man was sinful with his cooking. You were hesitant to accept invites for dinner because he was just too good at it. You’d be spoiled for life, and you quite liked thinking you were OK at things until he inevitably showed you he was better. In the nicest way possible too- it was impossible to hate the damn guy, he was just too friendly.

With just enough for two somewhat thin platefuls of delicious omelette, you served them up and sighed as you had absolutely no kind of drinks in other than water. No wonder your idiot boyfriend was so skinny, his calorie intake was probably stupidly low- you were about ready to cram doughnuts into his stupid pretty face just to give him a little less of a skeletal appearance until you heard said idiot calling out for you for some reason.

You put the plates in the oven at a very low heat, just enough to keep things warm while you went to see what was up, peering in casually.

What greeted you was a very dishevelled, shirtless and half awake but unfairly attractive Octavio, lower half covered but just barely by the sheets that slipped just below his waistline. “W-“ You pause, unable to help staring at his pretty self and you steel yourself, clearing your throat. “What’s up?” You ask and you immediately regret it. He knows exactly where your gaze just went because he’s shamelessly draping himself back, sheets threatening to uncover absolutely everything and he knows how sexy he is to you in that moment.

“Don’t you try that tactic you fuck, I've lived with your antics for a year,” you accuse and his smirk only grows. “Oh? I recall it working too. Come back to bed- it’s too early even for me, and it’s never hard to get me up in the-.”

You raise both hands up in the air in exasperation, and Octavio know’s hes won when you flee from the room bright red. His laughter is heard all the way from the other room as you flip him off as you go. Sexual innuendos always won and you’d never be immune to them- not from him, unfortunately.

“I’m eating your fucking omelette!” You finally shout out and with the swearing in Spanish (mostly to himself) that follows you gather that he’s finally making an effort to put himself together from the nest he’d built. Probably literally as well as figuratively. It was something he’d always prefer doing himself no matter how well you knew him and how comfortable he got. His prosthetics were his burden, and he drew that line very clearly. It was a curious thing to get specific and strict over... But you weren’t going to question why. It was likely a touchy subject he would never feel like discussing with anyone, much less himself.

You set out the plates again with glasses of water, cleaning up the pans while you wait and finally a sparsely dressed Octane struts into the room in loose fitting shorts, a rugged band shirt with the sleeves cut off and a pair of his lightweight casual prosthetics on. You spot a hint of eye-shadow, meaning he’d at least made some kind of effort to get ready. You however were having none of his flirty nonsense and grabbed a fistful of his shirt as the speedster approached, yanking him down to your level for a bruising kiss. He didn’t falter at all, arms reaching around you and lifting you up onto the counter as his tongue brushed against your lip for permission.

It was granted immediately, lips slanting and breaths harsh as the kiss became intense, the taste of Octane on your tongue and surrounded by his scent. You tug his hair back, forcing him to relinquish control and relished the moan that was tore from his throat as you did it. His piercing green eyes gaze up at you from your perch with a mix of lust and adoration, hands slipping beneath your shirt and gods he made it hard to say no sometimes.

“Your foods going cold,” you smirk and his expression takes on a sly tone. “Maybe i’m hungry for something else?” his thigh nudges between yours pointedly and through half lidded eyes he takes a kiss for himself, slower but just as forceful. Your lips feel puffy and swollen from the nips and bites he gave, cackling as you felt your position of power crumbling to make way for him again. The fact that he’d turned your position against you, grinding against you in the most perfect way caused you to swear and drape your arms around his neck.

“You better eat that damn omelette, I made it with love,” you demanded half playfully and he nods, breaking character for a moment.

“I will- but I’m about to do something else with that love.”

You groan, pinching your brow.

“Really? That line was terrible!” you swat his upper arm and he’s cackling even more now but you nudge him off with a leg. “Nope, no, change gone. You killed it- your stupid one liners need so much work even after a full year. God why did I agree to this?” you groan with a playful look and Octane concedes, grabbing one last chaste kiss before backing off, if a little reluctantly. You figured out why, pointedly not looking down.

“Hey you loved them the other night,” he points out and you hide the soft flush that covers your face. You did love his stupid lines, no matter how cheesy but you couldn’t let him know that. You’d never hear the end of it.

“Mmm. Keep telling yourself that, babe. Now eat up because your fucking kitchen is awful. How’d you let it get this empty? We’re going shopping for some damn basics otherwise next time we sleep at my place. Damn heathen,” you mutter, finally getting the chance to snatch up your omelette and enjoy. It was surprisingly fucking good. The steak and decent quality cheese likely had something to do with it.

He’s mid mouthful when he shrugs, half hiding his lower half, half hunched over his breakfast like an animal starved. “No idea- just never have the time amigo. When you’re off running all the time, home is a place to crash.” With how he practically inhales his portion, you give half of your meal to him which he hesitates in taking. You push it towards him with a nod, mentioning how you’d already had enough. A shrug, and he finishes your half, a little slower this time.

“Well... As much as I understand, I end up coming over a lot these days so... I’d like to get a couple things. Make sure you have things waiting if you ever need something quick. I know how impatient you get,” you kiss Octavio’s forehead as he gets up to clean the dishes, and you start to wander off to catch a shower and something else to wear. Pyjamas in public? Not your style. You’d bet good money though that Mirage probably has done that once though. He seems the type to forget what day it was after tinkering with his hologram tech. The pleased hum that comes from the Spaniard though leaves you in good spirits, getting ready fairly quickly to face the day. You don’t miss the chance to slap his glorious ass though and run off to the showers before he could properly retaliate.
“Ey! Ese es mi culo!”
You cackle all the way into the shower, even when he decides to turn the hot water off. Absolutely worth it after his antics this morning.

Chapter Text

“Ughh… höfuðið mitt…”

Bloodhound stirs slowly, coming to uneasily only to realise they weren’t in the boggy marshes of their most recent hunting grounds. Nor were they in the heavy padded armour that they had come to feel at home in during the long nights of the chase. In fact, most of their layers had been removed leaving only the loose shirts and bottoms they wore underneath everything for simple warmth and convenience. The padded armour was for protection, not warmth. It takes everything in them to calm down, and assess the situation. They weren’t dead for a start- and the place Bloodhound found themselves was pleasantly warm. It smelt of incense and fresh flowers, clean but homely.

The hunter took stock of themselves. Their gloves were on, and so was their mask. Their body was intact- nothing lost then. Carefully, as to not make a sound they sat up, realising they were on some kind of futon like bed, a pillow cushioning the back of their head awkwardly. The visor like helm attached to the mask the hunter wore clacked softly, wooden beads shifting with the movement.

This was a living room. Quaint, on the poorer side but it was easy to see they were a gatherer whoever owned this place. Herbs dried in large swaths, hung above the fireplace not far from where the hunter sat. Wicca furniture padded with woven blankets and cushions decorated the place and hand embroidered pieces framed and hung proudly decorated the walls every so often. The floors were an old wood, likely belonging to this planet as they were a rich copper colour laced with silver in the grain. The walls were a soft yellow, somehow not overwhelming in the room of warm colours and earthy tones.

The window contained an excessive amount of potted and flowering plants, and so did the corners. The larger ones were more leafy than flowery, but beautiful all the same. A far cry from the horrid marsh they had been walking through prior to apparently being knocked unconscious. Just beyond the window- a beautiful garden waited, wild but lush. Whoever lived here had quite the green thumb…

They spent so long examining the surroundings that Bloodhound didn’t realise until too late their side had been stitched up. A deep grunt leaves their throat as their weight shifts to the opposite side to inspect. The wound must of been a deep one- it pierced through all the layers Bloodhound had on and further still into the hunter’s side. The stitches were neat and well done, the wound looking like it had been cleaned and well cared for. The healing suggested at least two days had transpired since the obtaining of the gash- but what had caused it? It still wasn’t very clear.

The sound of footsteps approaching makes Bloodhound try to stand but fail, instead going for the knife holster kept on their thigh. The weapon had not been removed at least, giving them at least something to defend themselves with as the door opened and a woman stops mid step, holding a very familiar looking coat.

The pause stretches out, before finally they speak up.

“Oh! I- I guess you’re awake? I’m sorry if I startled you,” the newcomer speaks softly, movements significantly slower as though expecting the guest in her home to attack if provoked. She wasn’t too wrong in this case. “…I brought you back your things. I washed and repaired what I could but… Not a whole lot I can do for destroyed armour. I’m coming closer now ok? So I can hand you your coat,” she explains patiently and Bloodhound sensing that this person meant no danger was enough to lower the knife and for now return it to their thigh.

“My apologies- but where am I? Who are you?” Bloodhound begins asking, gladly accepting their coat back and quietly inspecting it for something before hurriedly putting it on. It was comforting to have it back, but they’d never admit it. The careful and even colour matched stitching where the coat had been torn was something to marvel at. It was nearly impossible to tell there had ever been damage there to begin with. The stranger took no offence to it, moving to sit on one of the pieces of furniture. Bloodhound carefully moved to sitting cross legged, feeling slightly uneasy that this lady had the height advantage now.

“You’re on Handoore- a wild colony planet in the frontier firstly,” she explains matter of factly. “Buuuut if you were asking for specifics? ‘Here’ is on the outskirts of the wild gardens. Not too far from the big settlement which is the only source of anything from the other worlds,” you shrug with a sigh. “But I haven’t really ventured that far often. Only once or twice to trade. Your second answer is i’m (r/n). I’m what you would call a survivalist in these parts… With a love and talent for plants.”

Bloodhound takes all the information in, nodding where appropriate before looking down at the wound. (r/n) seems to catch the drift.

“That? A razorboar got you. I’d bet it’s the work of Simfur- that old bastard. He’s the big tough boar further into the wilderness that I guess you could say is ‘top dog’… Or top boar I guess. He makes life difficult for a lot of folk like me, which makes me wonder why you were out that far anyway. You’re lucky I heard what was going on and blasted that thing with an irritant arrow or you’d either be dead or missing a goooood chunk of yourself. One or the other,” (r/n) divulges, chewing on their lip the entire time. A sign of concern bloodhound noted, their body language reading honestly and openness. Slowly Bloodhound relaxed, knowing this person truly meant well. You never got anywhere in the outer worlds if you didn’t know how to read people very well.

“…Simfur. What does he look like?” The hunter asked politely, accent clipping through on certain syllables. A wry smile comes to the woman’s face, asking them to wait for a moment. “I got a picture somewhere- pretty sure I picked it up from a poster I saw warning the local populace not to venture out too far.”

And a poster it was, hurriedly found in a bookcase from another room. The paper was yellowed from acid in the pulp over time, light-fastness unique to low quality printouts but the picture itself was a titan of a beast. Crooked tusks marred from years of fights- or whatever time metric was used here. Matted fur with bold distinct patterns; the boar if felled could easily feed a village of 50 for a week. This was no generic alpha, this was a monstrous nightmare of a creature left to grow and impose for far too long. Bloodhound however knew from the first glance. This was the beast they were hunting- and apparently this time around it had bested them. Caught the hunter somehow unawares or with bare brute strength… The details are still fuzzy. Whatever occurred must of given them a blow to the skull, as every attempt to recall the fight only left them with brief fuzzy glimpses as to what really transpired. Nothing particularly helpful.

Noticing that the hunter had gone quiet, (r/n) lets them think for a moment before coming closer. “May I see the stitches? I want to ensure infection isn’t growing.” The intention was innocent, but the reluctance to let just about anyone near, especially a stranger requesting to see what little skin they were showing was an uncomfortable feeling. Bloodhound hesitates.

“…If it will please you,” they finally relent, allowing this person close and carefully moving the coat out of the way. Her touch is gentle when her slender fingers run over the stitches, a breath hitched in the hunter’s throat at the gesture. “Does it hurt too much?” she enquires gently and at the shake of Bloodhound’s head they relent. The woman’s curiosity satisfied.

“You should be able to properly walk around regularly within the week. I’d recommend against strenuous activity for the next 3, if possible. Those stitches are dissolvable but your movement is going to be highly restricted until they do dissolve and even then, you’ll be prone to hernias and blood clots without the right medication. It nicked just shy of your gallbladder.” (r/n) explains carefully, assessing their masked and mysterious guest with a searching look. Whatever they were looking for, Bloodhound was unsure if they found it or not. “I left your mask and gloves on in case you needed them for medical reasons, so you should consider that too if it is the case.”

Surprisingly, the hunter was a receptive and attentive individual when you explained the medical care needed. The hunter was polite and was treated respectfully- and the same courtesy was extended back. They could tell she was just as skilled in surviving as they were, merely looking around and how they handled situations. The company was… Nice. Not once did she pry, and apparently didn’t even try to see behind the mask even when the hunter was unconscious. When they fetched herbal tea to assist in providing Bloodhound with natural occurring anti inflammatory and medical properties they’d find valuable, they looked away, both palms covering her eyes. A rare individual indeed, bringing a smile to Bloodhound’s face every time she did it.

“I tried to carry you upstairs but after pulling you from the marsh and sledding you this far, I wasn’t sure if it would damage more than it would help. I hope you don’t mind I put you here to rest while I waited for you to come to,” the woman confesses after the apparently midday sun faded towards late afternoon, concern colouring her face.

It was touching to be worried over, even as a stranger. When was the last time anyone was so genuine to them? Without ulterior motives? Allfather had blessed his hunter indeed when they fell, for such a kind individual to be their saviour.

Bloodhound waves the apology off, shaking their head. The wooden beads jingle in place, fading into the background ambience of the homely room. “vinsamlegast- it’s fine. You saved my life, and owe you a debt I will repay when I heal.” It was her turn to wave off the sentiment.

“Please, no need to do that. Around here we all look out for each other- even if you’d rather leave someone to Simfur, not that the bastard needs the extra meal. I don’t know what your plans are next, but if you’re looking for a place to stay while you recover I can offer the spare room upstairs. It gets a touch cold at night but beyond that… It’s clean and always ready. I would ask if you stay though that you help a bit with the garden- gathering things, catching simple game. Maybe helping organise, that kind of thing, really. It’s simple but it’s honest work and makes a big difference. You’d also have to give me your name- you forgot to mention that,” She smiles.

They listen quietly and nod, a quiet chuckle filtering through the air.

“In that case, I would be able to do such a thing. My name is Bloth Hundr, but you may call me Bloodhound.”

Chapter Text

Funny how no matter how careful you are, things always find a way to go wrong. Murphy’s law in action was amusing to watch when it was inflicted upon other but when it came knocking at Caustic’s humble abode... Well it was less amusing and more infuriating. This particular case just happened to be more severe than the others, as it concerned that annoying little brat the scientist had become... Somewhat fond of, when Octane wasn’t talking nonsense.

The jump from the ship was smooth, straight down to the airbase and lurking around the docks for supplies. They’d been fortunate that no other teams were brave enough to make the immediate drop down as the ship passed on over, and with enough supplies to make an attempt on the Bunker and nearby settlement not too far away to the east things were looking up. Octane was charging forwards with reckless abandon as always, not a care in the world as he looted a supply bin tucked away behind a wall. With a huff, the scientist checked his map, the useless no name that had been assigned to their team lagging too far behind.

“We’re spread too thin, time to reconvene,” Caustic points out with a not-so-subtle accusatory tone to his voice, setting a ping for the town. It was a smaller place than Skulltown, but the loot there could be invaluable if they were going to wander so blindly into a place like the Bunker. By now, it was guaranteed to be teeming with traps and squads. Octane laughs over the radio, making his way quickly to the next position and acting as the scout of the group. He must of used his stims already, the strange sound of his filtration pumps working overtime to ensure his blood remained clean from the highly potent drug with every rapid step forwards. The sound faded out as the daredevil disappeared into a window, sliding through with a perfectly timed jump. Eventually, Caustic caught up, finding some decent armour along the way as the newbie arrived just in time for the squad veterans to start moving on to the bunker. By now, he’d already written off the no name as an inevitable liability and casualty in the battles to come. Just before they left, Octane lingered close to the older man, an unusual display considering the daredevil liked to be at least 25 metres ahead of the group at all times. Caustic glances over as Octane speaks up, comm link muted so only the scientist could hear.

“Not looking good for us eh compadre? The newbie is taking too long.” They idle, jumping up and down in place as they normally did when stopping to look about. Both of them kept an ear out for signs of activity outside of their disappointing third. Caustic casts a long withering glance over towards where the no name was looting, grunting. “Hgn. An unfortunate situation- but they have uses, like a lamb for the wolves.”

The Spanish man finally stops jumping in place and looks curiously towards his teammate. The thoughts slowly turning in their head. “...You’re a sick man, sometimes. You know that right?” Octane expresses but the tone of his voice suggests amusement instead of disgust. Their body posture tilted back, open with arms swinging by his sides. They didn’t seem opposed to the idea of using their teammate as bait, which pleased the scientist to note at the back of their mind. A rare smirk stretches across Caustic’s face, eyes creasing in dark amusement as a low chuckle rolls through his throat. “My methods are only controversial to those who lack imagination.”

It earns a genuine laugh from Octane, something equally rare if not induced by his jumppad antics until they realise the poor unsuspecting fool was finally done gearing up in this place. Getting ready to move, the Spaniard subtly wiggles the outline of an arc star at the scientist before jerking his head at the teammate who’d ran ahead, a plan proposed. Another quiet laugh. “Acknowledged,” Caustic mutters just soft enough for the daredevil to hear, gaze turning to the Bunker not 600 metres away.

---

Everything went to plan.

The dim-witted teammate entered the Bunker ahead of everyone else and just before they left their line of sight, three arc stars were impaled into their back armour. Before they could realise what had happened, they were running into enemy fire and rapidly their health dropped along with the shattering of their shields. The sound of explosions going off put a smile on Octane’s face as he quickly followed up the assault, Caustic not far behind as they turned the corner. A full squad of nobodies were camped, guns pointed directly at both of them but the tactic had done its job. They were too sluggish to get the first shots off, and the daredevil made quick work of one before the others caught up.

It was laughable how easy it was, throwing a Nox grenade in the centre of the witless group forcing them to scramble back with alarmed expressions. In such a narrow hallway, the gas got to work quickly creeping into their lungs and depriving them of oxygen with startling efficiency. Octane’s improvements had been quite helpful in that regard, slowing the team’s reactions even further. Caustic only watched, retrieving a notepad from one of the taped on pockets to his vestment and noted things down, absently paying attention to where his only worthwhile teammate was. The sound of choking and blood filled rasps as each of them fell was a sound of progress and victory to him, reassured that Octane would have his back should anything come knocking. What Caustic wasn’t counting on however was being followed into the Bunker by another, much stealthier squad.

Murphy’s law in action.

He had just finished a sentence depicting the effects of the gas on the eyes of one patient in particular, who’s eyes had began to bleed in seemingly an allergic reaction to the compound when the sound of a grenade begin pulled sailed past Caustic, and right beneath the currently not looking Spaniard guarding the opposite direction from the stairs.

Time slowed for a second, watching the arch of the throw before knowing in an instant that would kill Octane at where it would land. His body moved slower than the scientist would of liked, but it moved all the same ignoring the hail of bullets accompanying, lost in the Nox gas still filling the space. Wisps of green trailed after each flash, another missed strike. There was no real time to get out a warning, the Spaniard only realising just before the blast and a flash of horror ceased them in place- right before they were kicked in the chest by an adrenaline filled scientist.

The impact of the kick knocked all the air from Octane’s chest, and straight down the stairs with a painful clatter and crunch against his back- vision a blur and for a moment the sound of an explosion going off deafens them too. The entire experience is unpleasant, knowing for a fact the impact on the metal had likely fractured a rib and he was going to be super bruised later- but he had no real time to think. Only pull into a side room before he was spotted and jab a healing stim into his wrist, praying the enemy squad was too distracted with looting to realise someone was still alive down here in the lower rooms of the Bunker. Octane could hear footsteps and jeers, making comments how easy it had been to eliminate a ‘so called legend’.

...Caustic?

Glancing around the scientist was nowhere to be found and the fragments of information came together all at once as he finished recharging his shield cell. Glancing down at the display on his wrist, both teammates were down. The newbie bled out long ago and their banner destroyed (and they’d likely be pissed about it too), but Caustic had been sent straight to banner collection mode. No bleedouts, just an immediate elimination. The stab of impatience and annoyance at this new squad thinking they were hot shit made Octane scoff, getting ready to do what he did best. Be fast, and win. They’d never know what hit them.

The door was thrown open, and the battle began anew.

---

Caustic came to with a start, memories of the grenade searing his whole body still fresh in his mind. Considering the medics were urging him to get up and get ready to jump, the match was still in progress and Octane had lived long enough to reach a respawn beacon. A flash of pride at the hasty decision resulting in a successful outcome filled Caustic, knowing he’d chosen well when picking out Octane specifically to be his partner in the recent matches. More than once, their unmatched speed had been a boon to situations abound. Jump pack attached with steady haste, the ship came to a slow halt, the doors opening and with it the blast of air causing the scientist to take a brief step back as the seal was broken.

“I return to the fight,” he murmurs more to himself than anyone listening and steps off the platform, feeling the thrilling sensation of the ground rising up to meet him as the thrusters kicked in, and he could land securely in the most guarded beacon possibly on the whole map. It wasn’t very far from the Bunker, further east across the lazy river located next to the Cascades and the Bridges. Large cliff like masses guarded the drop from immediate view, and lo and behold Octane waited with a cocky posture.

“Welcome back from your nap amigo, have a nice rest?” He’s teasing, but already throwing down some supplies for the scientist to have which were sorely needed. A Shotgun, ammo, basic armour. Caustic directs a dark look at them but is otherwise thankful for the gifts- most didn’t bother doing such a thing, leaving their teammate to fend for themselves once the respawn was complete. It seems they weren’t done goading though, continuing on with their monologue. “For someone so set on observing death, you don’t strike me as the one rushing towards it, like me,” Octane crosses his arms, unfolding them again immediately afterwards. “but instead you kicked me down metal stairs and took the blast instead.” Caustic scowls, now fully armed with his shotgun and cocks it threateningly. The Spaniard isn’t phased, which is even more infuriating.

“I feel most alive when rapidly approaching my death- and you have no business inspecting the reasons behind my actions.”

The quiet around them amplifies the quiet fury in the scientist’s tone, but beneath the mask and goggles it was impossible to tell what expression Octane had- relying entirely on body language which was strangely absent from the daredevil at this moment. That alone was enough to cause concern considering the man could usually never sit still or was in some way subconsciously emoting. Caustic is the first to back down, not wanting to linger any further than they already had. With a frustrated sigh their gaze snaps away, venturing instead towards the location of the next circle which was a few minutes run from where they were currently located. A soft snicker from the Spaniard is audible followed by a condescending pat against his forearm, causing the scientist to grind his teeth angrily.

“Whatever you say, compadre. You’re welcome for the respawn. Now let’s go- we’re moving too slow and I need a good run.”

The smugness could be felt rolling off Octane in waves the rest of the match, but no further comments were made. It seems even he had some common sense when it came to dealing with Caustic.

Chapter Text

Calloused fingers finished typing out a description for the last upload of the day, Octane focused intently on ensuring everything was exactly the way he wanted it as quiet low music provided ambience to the room. His eyes flicked back and forth, checking for mistakes or missing links as the video rendered with the thumbnail attached last, hunched over his laptop on the couch in the cosy atmosphere of his living room. It had taken some work and a bit of convincing to get him to finally decorate the home in which he lived when the Apex Games were in session but now it was less a stonework husk, and more of a minimalistic abode. Tasteful with its pale colours contrasted by warmer fabrics, and easy to maintain. In the end he had been thankful for the help from (reader), their input shedding light on things Octavio hadn’t even considered he might need during the day. Praise be for the massive city they happened to be the main stars of the show for, anything they needed? They could get it.

In particular the low down coffee table had been invaluable when Prosthetics weren’t an option. Being able to sit at a table comfortably surrounded by blankets and pillows? The best thing ever. It almost made the pains worth it when his missing limbs decided to act up and send his previously productive day into disarray.

(r/n) was currently in the kitchen, brewing up coffee with the new machine they’d just bought a week ago, and already it was seeing a lot of use and love. Gibraltar had been exceptionally helpful on that front, recommending all the best places to get such a thing. The man was incredible and a lifesaver both in the ring, and outside of it. At some point (r/n) planned on getting him a thank you gift for everything, because he was such a sweetheart.

Coffee brewed and saucers retrieved, two cups of steaming hot mocha were on their way, carried with attentive care and set beside the currently occupied speedster still frowning at his entries with an intense expression and fingers now interlinked under his chin. Disturbed by (r/n)’s appearance, Octane accepts the drink thankfully and finally breaks out of his tense posture with a subtle groan and a stretch with arms high above his head. His gaze flickers over to you with a fond smile taking over the previously stoic face he had on.

“Gracias,” Octane sighs with bliss as he waits for the drink to cool down. (R/n) takes their spot by him, a hand running over their back with a gentle smile and resting their head against his shoulder. The daredevil responds in kind, snaking an arm around their waist and encouraging them to sit a little closer as their own coffee is set next to his. It’s a cute scene, having matching coffee cups and saucers.

“Working hard on those video edits?” His lover asks with a hum, looking over the laptop screen lazily then back to Octane. He nods slowly, eyes drifting back to his work.

“Si, just adding the last to the upload schedule. Then the next few days are free!” He sighs dramatically, flopping backwards and pulling you with him with a squeal. He chuckles, shameless in his actions and grinning all the while. “Mira- Mirage might hate me for awhile- that livestream I edited down to just the highlights? oh man- the fans are gonna love it. You will too,” Octane comments with a hint of mischief in his tone as he gestures to the screen. (r/n) knows exactly what they are referring to just by saying ‘that livestream’. It was hard to not know, there were so many posts going around online about it.

(r/n) laughs, burying their face in Octane’s chest. “You’re so fucking evil sometimes! I almost feel bad for the man. He even invited us out for a double date earlier, I got a text from Elliott saying he and Wraith were planning on going the East Side of Apex City. You know the one,” they say muffled against the fabric. The mention of the East Side however has Octane perking up as though he had used one of his stims, the possibility of any kind of asian cuisine having the same general effect. It was an adorable thing to witness.

“Por favour, you told him yes, right? Tell me you did,” Octane almost demands with a look of excitement already glinting in his piercingly green eyes, imagining the delicious sushi that awaited. (r/n) only laughs and nods.

“Yeah I said yes, but you better clean yourself up, you are NOT going in a ripped up band shirt again. We got so many looks last time. Put on something at least kinda classy or i’m going solo and telling Mirage and Wraith i’m also a part of their date tonight. I’ve always thought Wraith was quite hot- I wonder if she likes girls too?”

The dialogue is entirely to wind up their boyfriend and it works, closing the laptop with a huff and reaching for his coffee to distract his idle hands while the videos upload. There was only so much fiddling with the descriptions and formatting he could do, and he’d been debating on things for the past half hour now. He takes a hasty sip and immediately regrets it, biting back a small swear and you try not to laugh. Patting him on the shoulder you pick up your own, pointedly blowing on it and wiggling your eyebrows with a smirk at Octane. It only earns an exasperated expression but a small smile afterwards.

“If you think I’m letting anyone else take you on a date but me, you’d be sorely mistaken Cariño. You’re mine and I’m not one to share,” Octane points out with a semi serious look. A small smirk pulls at the corners of his mouth a few moments afterwards. “…I wouldn’t be against watching you kiss Wraith though. That would be kind of hot to watch two girls-“

(r/n) stares with a look of their own, unimpressed, coffee half lowered back to its saucer.

“I’m taking Wraith home tonight out of spite, fuck you.”

---

“Heyyyy! Love birds finally got here,” Mirage pipes up as he spots you in the mild crowd that had formed in the East districts towards the evening. Once the sun began to set on this planet, the staff and crews involved with the productions of keeping the Apex Games up and running in all departments left work and travelled out to the various places around the city to either go home or unwind. Apex City was a gloriously diverse place, as expected for somewhere in the heart of the Outlands being the only capital city to speak of for any of the planets. If it wasn’t for the now outrageously popular Games that took place here, none of this would exist. Heavily defended and looked after, it was a beacon of civilisation in an otherwise underpopulated region of deep space.

Wraith is close by Mirage, dressed in a very her version of smart casual. The trickster himself is a bit more spiffy looking, his usually smart beard looking extra sharp tonight. Thankfully Octane had heeded the warnings of (r/n) and submitted to dressing nicely. Vaguely punk rock but still smart with form fitting attire, a simple black t-shirt framed by a light weight leather jacket custom designed by one of the fans he had commissioned some time ago now. A green Oni is depicted on the back in a very stylised manner, line accents running down the sleeves and chest pockets. Shorts tailored to match the loosely cyberpunk styled outfit cover the majority of his upper legs, the lower part tonight Octane’s more casual pair of prosthetics. Simple, but sleek. He’d even taken the time to style his Mohawk a little more than usual, making his already sharp gaunt face look stunning with how it drew attention to his eyes and piercings as it formed a lazy point in the centre.

Wraith quietly waves instead of the rambunctious greeting her own boyfriend offers, smile soft but there all the same. “Glad you could make it- the tables were pretty booked up, but we found a spot,” she explains as the conversation flows naturally between you all, not being the first time you’d all gone on a double date. Hell, most nights you all went out for casual drinks after the most boring of days. Such was the life of an Apex Champion. You had the money to spare, so why not enjoy life? Death was always around the corner after all, and even with the resurrections coming back was never a 100% sure thing. Vices were embraced, and most of the time encouraged.

“You kidding? Octane practically jumped up and did laps around me when I mentioned where we were going earlier,” (r/n) mentions with a laugh and Mirage snickers along with them. The one in question protests the accusation, and for awhile (r/n) and Wraith had some time to catch up while the two men bickered back and forth over various aspects. What it was they were in arms about you couldn’t say, but you had your suspicions it involved a certain prank war that was currently going on.

Wraith herself was a quiet and composed individual, preferring to keep her distance from people. It had taken a significant amount of time to coax the enigmatic woman to feel comfortable in your presence, but the conversations (r/n) had had with them were always a treat. Deeply insightful in ways they could never of guessed, Wraith became a close friend and ally both in the ring and out of it, much like Gibraltar. In the same vain, (r/n) had become a source for advice in most normal things she had little to no experience in. Fights? No problem. Being a regular functioning human? That was still a mystery to her, and sometimes the small things left a great deal of stress which aggravated the voices to unbearable levels. Helping out with the smaller things? (r/n) was happy to do that.

Arriving at the restaurant in question, Octane was buzzing in place even in the flow of the crowd still walking the streets in this section of the city. It earned him more than a few looks but by now he’d become accustomed to it, seeking your (r/n)’s and squeezing it playfully as they waited in line together. When a waiter took them all to the table for 4, he was almost jumping in place.

Octane’s enthusiasm for anything sushi related was outright adorable, and (r/n) had more than a few videos already of the night, ready to be sent when the next daily vlog was due. Something they’d started doing more often after watching how genuinely enthusiastic the daredevil was when making such content. The restaurant itself was very high class, the aesthetic of Japan combining with a futuristic aspect making it a very unique experience. Paper walls and wooden floors combined with coloured neon lights and large screen displays somehow blended together to create something not found anywhere else. The staff was a 50/50 split between very unique MRVN units and humans, the waiter in particular delivering orders for their group a very pristine and well kept robot. Everything about this place exuded class and sophistication, and so did the price- unfortunately.

“Dios mío I’m gonna order 3 platters of sashimi or something. I’m starving!” He declares with a look that meant he was likely serious. Octane rarely joked about such things when it came to his favourite food. Wraith laughs, shaking her head. “They aren’t take home platters. Good luck finishing it all,” she points at the portion sizes but he isn’t deterred in the slightest. (r/n) just shrugs. “He’s also a walking black hole for any kind of seafood. Regret might be the mood later but he’ll do it,” you warn them and the whole table joins in the laughter, jokes exchanged and playful insults fired off.

For such an odd ragtag bunch of individuals, you really looked out for each other, team or no team. Octane covered the longer names Elliott stuttered on, Mirage distracted when someone would stare too long at the maskless Octane, hints of insecurity showing beneath the bravado he put on despite it all. (r/n) assisted with the orders where the void warrior fell sort with communication skills and Wraith ensured the general public weren’t too nosy when around their table. Small things, but it showed how deep the collective group cared for one another, naturally filling in when weaknesses came to the forefront.

“So… You still thinking of taking Wraith home?” Octane murmurs into (r/n)’s ear with a subtle grin, but underneath there is a quiet layer of insecurity building. The long term exposure to the open public is making him antsy, and it’s his way of showing he needs a distraction without making the others worry. They’re distracted with each other right now anyway, glancing at their phones and planning what the next round of orders will be for drinks and platters. (r/n) gladly provides a much needed distraction, claiming the daredevil’s hand under the table and interlinking fingers with their thumb joint running over his. The quietly vulnerable smile and look in Octane’s eyes says everything, heart softly breaking at how raw his emotions could be at times. Despite everything, there was still a clear cut between the two people he played on a daily basis. ‘Octane’, his stage persona everyone else saw, and ‘Octavio’. Something reserved and hidden away for a very small group of people.

Right now, Octavio was starting to make an appearance.

“Maybe. Was hoping for that kiss first though, this being a date and all,” (r/n) jokes back and the smile on his face turns a fraction more genuine. They place a kiss on his cheek, leaning their head against his shoulder and talking in tones low enough the other two of the group couldn’t hear from behind their menus. Or maybe they had noticed what was happening, and played the part of being too distracted to pay attention. Either way, the lack of attention was appreciated.

“I got a way more attractive person in mind though,” (r/n) continues, eyes trailing up to meet Octane’s gaze.

“Oh? Tell me about this individual,” they reply, tone reserved yet at the same time sounding vaguely strained with the ongoing pressure he felt from eyes all around.

(r/n) does, drawing in his focus away from everyone else and bit by bit, they can see the tense posture he’d adopted in defense sloooooowly ease away. “He’s a bit of a wildcard, i’ll give him that. Heart of gold though, even if he doesn’t think so- maybe one day he’ll believe me when I say it.” Octane snorts at the description but (r/n) carries on regardless. “He makes me laugh without effort, something which is rare. Far too handsome for his own good. Disgustingly so, he’s so photogenic it annoys me,” (r/n) confesses with a playful glare and it pulls a quiet laugh from the speedster next to them. “…Most of all though he’s always been there for me. I wanna be there for him, as much as I can. As much as he’ll let me be. As much as you’ll let me.” (r/n) finishes, and for a long moment Octane’s gaze is harsh before it softens… And gives in. An arm pulls (r/n) close, sighing at the contact and closing his eyes for a moment.

“You do more than enough for me, Cariño.”

The sound of a camera shutter going off has both of them suddenly alert, only to discover Mirage with his phone out, recording the entire thing.

“Oh man. This is going STRAIGHT to youtube. Helloooooo million views!”

Insecurities forgotten and for now the orders too, Octane spent the remainder of the double date threatening to break Mirage’s arms if he posted it online with some rather colourful phrases and language sprinkled in, some of it not in English. Wraith and (r/n) merely exchange glances with rolled eyes and fond shakes of their heads.

---

It had been a wonderful night despite everything, waving goodbye to the other couple and promising to text when you were both back securely. They were going to stay out a little longer, but Octane’s brief stint of anxiety hadn’t quite gone as unnoticed as he’d hoped. Holding hands the entire way home, (r/n) could tell their lover felt guilty about not being able to stay out longer but with a huff and a smile they’d peppered kisses all over his face and demanded he stop sulking immediately.

“You didn’t ruin anything, dummy. Shit happens, and i’d never be mad at you for that,” (r/n) reassures them. “Besides as much as I love the food and extra company… I prefer dates where I get to be shamelessly sappy and spoil you without the others there. Even if my wallet disagrees.” He looks away, vaguely flustered at that. It was a cute look, the usually smug and cocky Octane reduced to not even being able to maintain eye contact. The gentle bump into (r/n)’s side though told them everything they needed to know in the quiet of the walk back to the Champion’s compound, hand squeezing gently in thanks.

“You are ridiculous,” the daredevil finally replies after a few minutes of silence in the semi lit road. (r/n) only hums in response. “loco, ridículo… But you’re mine.” Octane looks down at you, expression sincere. His lover leans in close, heart feeling light with overwhelming adoration.

“All yours,” they confirm, savouring the genuine moment of happiness that pierces through the mask of ‘Octane’ and reveals the real person underneath, usually so afraid to let the mask slip. It was a wonderful moment, one that would be held onto for quite some time. “Now c’mon. Let’s get home. I’m exhausted of crowds for the night and just want to relax- breaking Mirage’s arms can wait until tomorrow.”

Octane didn’t argue with that, eager to get away from any further form of human interaction without his masks on.

Chapter Text

The evening was a cold and hazy one like the whisky against your lips, neat against the single piece of ice that bit into your tongue and stung with the temperature difference. You were the only source of real noise in the bar, old second hand guitar covered in haggard stickers providing the focus to your slower songs crooned on the makeshift stage they had fashioned. Plucking a sweet melody it carried an odd feeling of heartbreak that didn’t exist until you heard it, prying attention gently to your open mic performance and drawing a crowd like the pull of the tide crashing against the shore. Wearing away stones and smoothing them with the embrace of your sound, raw in every sense but cathartic in ways people didn’t know they needed.

You didn’t pay any mind, pausing only to take sips of whiskey every so often from your glass, and a long pull from a cigarette misting your side of the bar. The patrons didn’t care, it was a small price to pay for the experience of hearing you play. The hot burn inside your chest gave you a sign you were still alive, and you liked that. Some were smoking themselves, occasionally leaving tips or ordering you drinks when a new song required a different tune. It brought intrigue to the somewhat shoddy, rundown bar in the outskirts of the city where a singer showed up every few nights with their guitar and ordered the same thing every time.

Neat whiskey, one piece of ice. Taking to the stage with no announcement or fuss, just setting up and opening up your heart and playing away the hours until the bar was close to closing. It was almost an unspoken rule now, not to interrupt your performance and at the end of the night you paid your tab and walked away. Nobody really knowing who you were, as you vanished into the night without a real conversation with anybody. Sometimes people recorded you but otherwise they kept to themselves, listening to songs that couldn’t be heard anywhere else in the universe.

Until tonight.

You were mid drag of your cigarette, finishing off your first of the night until someone stumbled in with a hunched posture, soaked to the bone despite their coat and looking like they had better days from what you saw in the fraction they were visible. You paid no real mind, finishing off your minute long break with a nice long sip of your drink.

Fingers running along the worn strings, you begin spinning another tune, this one slow and hazy like the smoke that lurked around your side of the room in a subtle mist. Words accompanied with your usual raw emotions tingeing every word like a stab to the heart as a tale of betrayal and grief unfolded with every verse. It was a new song this time you’d finished writing a week ago, and at once the crowd of regulars perked up when the change in routine had them glancing over. Chords came to you naturally like second nature, eyes closed as you laid down vocals adventurous even for you- a new style which sent a few impressed murmurs scattering around the bar before too quickly the piece was over, and the bar was left quiet again.

A singular source of muted clapping caught your ears, and for the first time that night you looked up from your place on the stage and out into the crowd of patrons.

A man in his older 20s sat towards the middle of the bar at one of the rickety tables, eyes wide at the sight of you illuminated in the lights of the makeshift stage and clearly something about your song had hit them somewhere painful. Perhaps too painfully, as the hurt in their eyes seemed to pierce right through you and speak directly to your soul. You knew about pain- it fuelled your writings and lyrics when you had a free moment which in turned fuelled your songs you came to perform here. His sopping wet coat had long since been shed revealing what would of once been something smart and classy, a dark long sleeved shirt now looking a little too uncomfortable as the damp fabric clung to their body. Dark circles around his eyes from what little you could see behind their swath of curly hair mostly brushed to one side.

Just looking at them formed a line in your head unbidden, filing it away for later.

Instead though you leant forward, lips close to the mic and for the first time since coming to this small rundown place you smiled softly at your audience. “Thank you,” you murmured, almost idly. “Thank you very much.”

The next song started not long after that and much like the first since the stranger had arrived each piece was accompanied by clapping and eventually- others joined in too. It was strange watching the unexpected show of gratitude catch on but you didn’t complain, quietly amused at how into your work this person was. It was about the time you began to pack up for the night that they finally were brave enough to step forward, the lingering hurt that surrounded them like a miasma earlier now temporarily cured. What cured it? You didn’t know.

“H-hey uh… Great set? Set? Is that what it’s called? I’m not that familiar with live music and… Well it seems like you are but anyway- I wanted to say…” You stand slowly off the stage, guitar in its scuffed and worn down case looking at them properly. The man seems taken aback again by something but finds the nerve to continue eventually.

“…I wanted to say thank you. I was having a rough night and your music made it better. Do you- have a CD or something? A mixtape? Is that what the cool kids are doing these days?” He rambled on and a quiet laugh bubbles up from your throat. You could see the insecurity written all over this one like a heart on a sleeve. You didn’t mind though, it was refreshing to see someone so beautifully honest. Shaking your head, you answer their question.

“I don’t, sorry. I just play here every other night when I can. If you want to record the next time i’m around though, the folks are pretty quiet. You could probably get a nice video to listen to and rip the audio off.” You shrug and slide the case onto your back, straps in place and ready to go, you finish the last of your whisky and wander over to pay your tab. The barkeep waves you off, causing you to frown. “I haven’t paid yet though,” You half ask half state, to which they gesture to the gentleman still at your heels. “He paid it for you. Said it was on him tonight for the music.”

Turning around, he was trying his best to play it cool but clearly failing much to the amusement of a few others watching the activity. He eventually shrugs. “Like I said… I’m really grateful. You uh… You free after this? Whatever this is?” He asks politely.

It takes everything in you not to laugh outright. This one was too cute, like a lost puppy. “Maybe I am,” you hum in appreciation. “What did you have in mind?”

---

Oh god, he was adorable.

He stuttered over long words, acted like a dork, bailed on jokes that would of been good if he got to the punchline… He was pretty much perfect. Beneath all that misery lurking in his eyes, he was damn attractive too. Mirage is his name- or so he says. Mirage is a bit of an odd name to have but you weren’t one to judge at this point. Walking the streets together you’d found a nice spot to eat at, conversing over an evening meal like you were old friends.

Something about you two just clicked, like you’d known each other for much longer. And Mirage? Gods you wanted to punch whoever made him this sad. He seemed like a genuine guy not sure where to go from here right now- something you’d experienced before after losing something very dear.

Shoulder to shoulder, you smiled up at the trickster gently.

“So, what’s your name?” Mirage asks conversationally, as though they hadn’t just been talking about something extremely heavy seconds before. You can’t help it, it pulls a laugh from you to which it makes him grin in turn. He’s pretty when he grins, another lyric weaving itself in your head. You could write an entire song from meeting this man for one evening. Something about him screamed to be heard, scratching at the creative parts of your brain.

“I don’t have one,” you reply, expression not changing from the playful smile. He looks baffled by this.

“You don’t have a name?” Mirage asks, frown wrinkling up his pretty brow, making him look older than he was. You nod, nudging against his side with a smirk.

“Not everyone is gifted a name around these parts. Not after the Frontier war- most consider ourselves lucky to be alive. Names are a luxury, so we are given a number.” Mirage looks more and more concerned as the conversation progresses. “What- what’s your number then? Can I ask that?” You nod again, shrugging non-comitically.

“Twenty-five. Though people with a marginal sense of wit call me fives, since I am technically five fives if you think about it in multiples.” The conversation from there is mostly about your origins. You just continue to shrug and state that most people here used to be under a corrupt rule, and thusly experimented on. When they were drove out, the way society functioned was tore out with it and from there attempts to rebuild were done, but it was still questionable. Numbers instead of names were still used, and nobody was quite sure why anymore. The more Mirage heard, the sadder his expression became.

“Why still live here?”

You glance over, a odd twinkle to your eye.

“Maybe i’m just looking for a good excuse to leave.”

Chapter Text

“You’re really just gonna say nothing after that?” Mirage shouted through the heavy downpour of rain, sopping wet from the thunderstorm that had rolled in steadily over the past hour. What little intense sunshine had ended quickly after the match had come to its dramatic conclusion and left both teammates and crew members stunned, the audience whipped into frenzy after the final strategy which had netted the win securely in your hold. Rolling thunder echoes across the skies, rippling in its intensity in dull roaring waves only adding to the intensity of the moment as electrically charged air filled the space between you and the trickster.

You hadn’t discussed what you had planned; only that Mirage was in danger and you needed to protect him no matter the cost. So caught up in his own bravado he didn’t notice Bloodhound tracing their steps quietly, blade ready to slit his throat until you’d intercepted with a grenade pin pulled before you could truly think about the situation and grabbing onto the hunter you wrenched them off the bridge into the water below. You looked up just before being fully submerged in icy cold river water to see Mirage shouting after you, arm outstretched beyond the bridge and an expression of horror as you fell.

The water hit you and sent your breathing and circulatory system into shock- the grenade however even with Bloodhound having stabbed your side during the fall? That did much worse. You remember nothing once you hit the water other than blistering agonising pain.

Then the jumpscare awake as adrenaline was pumped into your system to resurrect your previously lifeless body, the sensation much like sleeping but the sudden panic of falling waking you in a flash not far from what nightmares were like. The check over from medics, tests- then the news you had won the match for them. A sigh. Bloodhound must of been the last one left... Likely why they had adopted such sneaky tactics in the first place, but if you hadn’t caught them sneaking up on Mirage in time...

Then all of that had lead to this. Mirage was less than pleased at being the damsel you had saved but that was nothing compared to the outright fury that rested on his face when he’d pointed a finger at your face when confronting you outside on the platform that descended into the city from the massive Apex headquarters. His whole frame trembled, seeming so much more menacing when his joker personality was left behind.

“I watched you jump off the bridge with Bloodhound which is bad enough- but you suicided right in front of me! With a fucking grenade!” He takes a step forwards when he sees you’ve come to a stop at last, no longer trying to walk away from this inevitable argument. You half turn, showing you were at least listening.

“And then you try and walk away from that? Expecting me to be fine with it? Oh no no no,” Mirage seethes, hands clenched tightly, releasing only briefly to shove the strands of his curly hair out of his eyes. “I’ve lost so many people from thinking they know better and trying to protect me, SO MANY!” A pause, barely a second long. “I’ve had brothers die in wars I never got to see the bodies of, and they died prot- protect- protecting. What little I had. Christ, (r/n)! It’s never 100% certain we come back from death- i’m still waiting for the day someone else I know gets unlucky and I swear to god I will never let another person I care about slip through my fingers. Not right in front of me,” Mirage starts to ramble, and bit by bit you feel guilt slip into your heart.

You knew of his brothers- he only liked to talk about them when piss drunk and barely awake. He never mentioned any of them sober, not unless he was in a really bad place. 3 of them had fought in the Frontier war effort, and 3 of them had never been found, formally being classified as M.I.A but everyone knew it was the respectful way of saying killed in action until a certain amount of time had elapsed. He and his mother had never quite gotten over that loss, and for the longest time it had stopped Mirage from coming sooner to the Apex Games. He didn’t want to leave his mother childless- no parent should have to experience the loss of a single child before their own inevitable end. 3? You couldn’t imagine the grief that hung on both Mirage’s and his mother’s shoulders. Then there were other losses besides that, which came from knowing people and fighting a war together.

You turn fully now, wanting to reach out to your boyfriend, chilled to the bone and thoroughly soaked from the unrelenting downpour the storms had seen fit to send down upon the city. Another louder peel of thunder rips through the heavy black clouds above, lightning threatening to start soon.

“I’d be deva-de-devio-...” He trails off, hands coming up to frustratedly pull at his hair with a strained shout. “Very upset! I’d be super upset if I lost you too, ok? I can’t lose more! I’ve already lost more or less everything- ‘cept my ma... She’s really cool and I love her a bunch; I should really visit again soon but back to the point! You fucking died for me, and i’m not ok with that! I’m not! Alright? I just... AGHH!!!” He spins on one foot, so intensely aggravated he wasn’t quite sure where to direct his anger anymore. Everything was stressful and nothing was ok-

You run to him, closing the gap rapidly and much like the fight with Bloodhound you didn’t quite think, only reacting on instinct. It had saved Mirage once already getting you into this mess, and with a pinch of luck it would get you out.

Pulling down Mirage closer to your height your lips collide with an awkward initial fumble. It’s cold and slow and for a second you fear you made the wrong decision until strong arms wrap around you like a lifeline in the storm that surrounded you both, anchoring you to a line of hope. The sting of something warm hitting your face makes you break away briefly, just a few centimetres apart only to realise he was crying. Honest to god tears, only adding to the heartbreak that both of you felt.

“...Please don’t make me watch you die again,” he gets out, a strangled sob of a whisper. You can only nod, your own tears quick to follow as the cold forces you both to begin to shiver, clutching at the other desperately. “I’m so sorry.”

He only shakes his head to accept your apology and kisses yours with a look that seemed like he was trying to comfort himself more than you. You didn’t take offense, knowing full well the demons that lurked on his shoulders weighing him down far more than any physical weight could. “...Me too. We both are. Just... Please.” He whispers against your neck, gripping you almost too tightly, a wet sniffle accompanying his words.

“Please.”

Chapter Text

It was no secret that Caustic was a sociopath.

He prided himself on keeping emotional distance from everything, friend or enemy. Information was the only true thing of value to be found and the scientist sought it often at any cost, with notebook in hand as foes fell to his noxious gas, he scribbled furiously the symptoms of his subjects which fuelled his grotesque experiments. Bloodhound stayed far from the man when they entered the state of tunnel vision, so involved with their work he often forgot the entire match was broadcast for millions to see across the Frontier and beyond. Whether Caustic cared or not? That was still up for debate.

Today however was slightly different- a new variable had entered the ring rendering the toxic green miasma inert when exposed to the elements. Something that even with all the technology in the work was near impossible to stop when it was such a planet wide phenomenon.

Rain.

The match had begun in scorching sunshine, no different to the normal routine until vast clouds from a tropical storm smothered the sky so quickly it was hard to tell where they had come from. Fat droplets of water soaked all they touched, leaving the scientist’s abilities sadly out of commission, starting the red haze that clouded his vision slowly. Bloodhound and the nobody they had been forced to pair with could see the fuming anger in Caustic’s stance- it was hard to miss with the ferocity they engaged the competition despite the slick mud and difficult terrain. The usually cautious and precise man was charging in regardless of strategy, seeming more like a personal vendetta than a disconnected observation and afterthought. With this new persona their kills rose faster than either one of the squadmates could keep up with, entire enemy teams eradicated before the newbie could even catch up to the seasoned veterans.

It was on the very outskirts of the map within the swamps though that Caustic finally snapped.

The hunter could smell the frustration and hatred coming off them in waves but what triggered it was one person in particular getting off a lucky sniper shot that shattered the level 1 helm he had looted from the Wetlands just North of their position. Recoiling in shock and the urge to get to cover taking over for a moment, it took 5 seconds in total to realise their face felt wet. Not the cold kind of wet from the seemingly never ending slew of rain that covered the ground like a sheet and made the usually unpleasant Swamp even less pleasant- this slick covering the scientist’s face was warm. Once safe from the incoming fire a single gloved hand reaches up to their face beneath one of the towering buildings on stilts, just barely covered from the downpour only to come away a deep crimson diluted with the water still dripping from his hair.

A large gash had been cut across their temple and tip of the left ear, starting to hinder their vision as it had shattered their visor entirely, leaving nothing but dangerous broken shards behind and the respirator. If it was storming already, Caustic had become a hurricane of a scale nobody had seen before. His path? Straight towards the direction of the sniper, with a shotgun in hand and fury visible in their walk.

Bloodhound was swift enough to catch up, running along the rickety bridges that spanned from tree to tree in the great mess of the Swamp and managing to catch up to the scientist just as they began their spree. It turned out there were actually 2 squads forming a truce, actively hunting down others to get the upper hand but their mistake was picking a fight with two very angry veterans in who happened to be on the same squad.

Two were sent straight to banner state with shotgun blasts near point blank to the chest painting the room a grisly red. The third proved a bit trickier, dancing out of the way from the immediate range and instead throwing arc stars which Bloodhound warned of before they could find purchase on their body. Leaping down into the fray from the upstairs region of the house they had converged to, 2 more were dealt with quickly with high precision shots to the chest and head while their third fled, the hunter’s wingman clicking empty to their surprise as they lined up for the last survivor of the other squad. Taken off guard and Bloodhound’s concentration shaken the person takes the chance to run forward and attempt to melee with their fists, only to be tackled to the ground by Caustic.

The crunch of bones against the wall wasn’t pleasant to hear but he didn’t stop there, going for a finisher and smashing their face in like a rotten pumpkin. By the third strike the fist came away bloody, and the fifth it didn’t really resemble a face anymore. Bloodhound bore witness and stepping forward with a harsh breath pulled the feral scientist off the now corpse, deathbox long since appeared. They had no fear in doing so, having dealt with wilder, much more dangerous beasts.

“Heimskur, that is enough! Have some honour for the living and respect for the dead.” Bloodhound’s voice is sharp, piercing through the addled haze that settled in Caustic’s vision like a blood-soaked fog, the now quiet of the room only broken by the quiet hiss of rain against the roof shingles, haphazardly leaking every so often. The heavy heaving of breath slowed as seconds passed, shaking his head slowly as the pain registered in their knuckles and arms. A finger or two had been dislocated with the punches, knuckles underneath the gloves split and bloody. The sensation of hot blood compressed under gloves was not a pleasant one.
Splatters of crimson that wasn’t Caustic’s dripped lazily from his digits, a deep raspy sigh escaping their throat as reality clarified for them finally, realising what had transpired.

“Are you aware of yourself now?” The hunter asks, voice dripping with an edge that cut into the scientist’s mindfulness despite their obvious lack of regret. They only seemed relieved rather than guilty. Nodding, he moves slowly to pick up the shotgun from where it was dropped in the ensuing fight, not looking towards the mangled body Caustic had left behind.

Perhaps there was shame in their actions.

“...My thanks for your assistance.” They speak up finally, lingering between staying and talking more about what had happened or leaving and ensuring their pride stayed intact. Bloodhound relieves them of the choice, stepping forwards towards the door leading back into the torrential downpour that had started such blood hungry madness.

“We will speak of this later. Now is the time to move, the circle approaches.”

Caustic seems relieved and doesn’t argue when the squad begins to move out, and the newbie previously looting another building finally rejoins the group. The rest of the match, Bloodhound kept their squad in check.

Chapter Text

It was the weekly meet up for drinks and dinner to celebrate another well played match, and Octane and (y/n) had agreed to make an appearance. Most nights they were far too busy to go out drinking but when the group got together... They made an exception. Eager to go out and spend some time with the others Octane was bouncing in place, practically charging towards the group the moment the time was set to meet up. (y/n) could only laugh and allow themselves to be pulled along. Finally all together as a group of 7, you made your way inside the bar of choice for tonight. The very same you had visited a month ago, and had fond memories of.

Stepping through the threshold of the bar, the atmospheric difference from the outside of the establishment to the inside was significant. Outside it was a somewhat cold night, the ground still wet from recent rain fall earlier in the day and large puddles had formed where the ground still dipped below the high water table of the earth. The sky had long since dimmed towards the darker colour spectrum, marigolds and crimsons leaking into deep pthalo blues illuminated by the local star systems and nebulae. If you lingered long enough, you could see puffs of breath as the temperature dipped more and more towards freezing. The only light in the packed streets came from the various people in the busy finding their own enjoyment for the night and the stores and bars that came alive in the later hours of the evening. Neon LEDs cast vivid halos in the street, greens and pinks and blues all vying for attention as you wandered along the mostly well lit muddy streets that sprawled along the outer reaches of the Apex City.

Inside however the lighting was warm and welcoming, enticing those who would step inside to grab a chair and enjoy the various comforts the bar offered. The smell inside has of a heady ale or spirit but mixed in the smells of old wood and the dampness of drying coats. It wasn’t unpleasant by any means, but easily the first thing that finds you. Large for a bar this far from the city centre, the tables were packed with groups rowdily but merrily drinking as food steadily found its way to the table served by the in house staff. Music played from somewhere, speakers likely hidden in corners to keep the mood lively and light as people continued to order drink after drink. A few groups caught attention playing drinking games or recounting lively stories but ultimately the attention on them faded as more faces entered the bar or left.

In this case, the group that entered easily caught the attention of most who bothered to look.

The 7 came wandering in, sure in their step and despite trying to act casual there was a subtle lull that followed their arrival and as they tried to find seats somewhere closer to the back where there was still a little free space. These 7 were all Apex Champions- and not just newbies, they were the real deal. All established veterans in their own right, causing whispers hidden behind hands and eyes to follow in their wake. In particular though, most eyes were trained on just one.

Bloodhound had been invited to the weekly meet up this time, (y/n) having been the one to suggest it and ask when the others agreed. Bangalore in particular was interested to see if they would agree, and only grinned when the hunter had donned something a little less battle worthy to join them on their drinking. A padded jacket, trousers and a less obvious mask, hood pulled up and mostly inconspicuous. Still fully covered, but they could pass for a regular person just trying to hide scars if people weren’t fully aware of the group. Wraith made it a point to glare at any who stared too long at the hunter, which made the curious eyes and glances quickly go away.

The rest of the group, (r/n), Mirage, Octane and Gibraltar were much more friendly when entering the bar, nodding and grinning to any who recognised them and occasionally exchanging handshakes with a laugh before continuing on their way. Gibraltar in particular seemed to know the most people, his booming laugh audible across the entire bar which only added to the light atmosphere the establishment offered. Anywhere the gentle giant went, people seemed to speak well of them.

“Looks like we’re in luck!” Mirage grins to the others as they spy two empty tables they proceed to pull together and quickly claim, chairs scavenged from empty places and quickly the legends sat comfortably. Everyone seemed to be in high spirits already, drinks being ordered and conversation bubbling up as jokes were exchanged and the group settled in for the night.

“...So this idiota comes running in, Bangalore destroys his shields and in seconds the entire squad was gone! HA you should have been there! Entire squad ate our dust.” Octane is in the middle of bragging, recounting the latest tale of his from inside the ring peppered with hoots of laughter and Bangalore from her seat on the other side of the table helpfully fills in details where his mind conveniently slips on details. He’s wearing the goggles and mask still; lifting it just enough to take a sip of his beer every so often but you can feel the playful glare across the table. Instead of rising to the bait however, he merely drapes an arm around (y/n)’s chair, and raises his beer to the soldier as if to say ‘we still won though’. She shrugs at that, letting the point go in favour of sipping her own drink.

Gibraltar listens with a grin the entire time, occasionally asking questions but ultimately just enjoying the stories that were told from everyone’s perspective. Mirage had been wiped out early and later respawned by Wraith, so everyone was making jokes on their behalf tonight. Mirage on one side and Octane the other, the conversation was particularly animated on (y/n)’s side.

“Well at least I wasn’t taken down by a shot to the head with a Mozambique,” Mirage murmurs bitterly, crossing his arms and mock glaring which is quickly dispelled by Octane’s peals of laughter.

“Wait a moment who died that way? Seriously?” He’s looking around eagerly and Wraith rolls her eyes, used to their antics by now. It’s a full hour before everyone is finally comfortable enough to talk in pairs while the group waits for another round of drinks, Octane taking a step back from his energetic persona to finally check on (r/n).

“Having fun?” He murmurs quietly with a fond nudge to their side and they return it, resting their head on his shoulder with a smile. There was a nice buzz running through their systems already from all the drinks, and the background ambience of dozens of conversations provided a pleasant atmosphere to be in. Quite the change from sitting at home and tinkering with gear. “Yeah. It’s nice so far. I forgot what it was like to go out and actually be social for once. What about you? Feeling alright so far?”
Octane nods and rests his head on theirs, sighing quietly. “I’m having a blast, actually. Having the mask on helps but... I’m feeling comfortable, if that is what you’re asking.”

Pleased with the answer (y/n) only hums, and rejoins a conversation part way though.

“-So you think you can best me eh?” Gibraltar is fully turned to face Bangalore now, a row of shots already lined up for each a dark brackish colour which didn’t look easy on the stomach. (y/n) nudges Octane to pay attention and with a curious look realises what’s about to transpire. He giggles to himself, rubbing his hands together. “Whoooo this is gonna be good. My money’s on the big guy,” he cackles and starts filiming with his phone, while (y/n) can only watch on in mild horror. They’d tried to win against Gibraltar in the past- it didn’t end well. Octane still had the footage somewhere from the last time, they were pretty sure of that. They knew from experience just one shot was bad enough, multiple in a short round? That was enough to fuck up even the strongest of drinkers. Whatever the barkeep put in them, it wasn’t clear but when Octane asked for a round of shots that would fuck people up for a drinking game they sure delivered.

“I prefer to say I can beat you,” Bangalore fires back, smug as ever and cocksure. A round of “ohhhhhs” resounds at that and unperturbed the fortress of a man only shrugs. Bloodhound crosses their arms from beside Gibraltar, clearly amused by their huffed laugh.

“If this is what happens on a weekly basis, perhaps I should start attending more often,” they mention in passing, shifting aside to give the two space as they got ready for the drinking challenge. (Y/n) laughs at the hunter’s comment, making zoom for the other Champions that need to move over a bit more. Mirage is already cheering on Gibraltar, Bloodhound showing quiet support for their teammate while Wraith and yourself encouraged Bangalore, eager to see just who would win.

“Ey Bangalore you better not lose!” Octane throws in, (y/n) standing and deciding to play judge since the others were occupied choosing sides. “We’ll replace you on the squad otherwise!”

“Alright the first to down all 10 shots. There is no time limit and the shots have to be entirely gone to count, passing out or throwing up counts as an automatic fail and the victory goes to whoever is still standing afterwards.” Looking at both, (y/n) ensures they are both listening before continuing. “On the count of three, the contest begins. one,” Everyone scoots their chairs in closer with exception to Bloodhound, preferring to remain at the back for this but still intently fixed on the duel of constitutions. “two...” People not involved on the group seemed to pick up something was going on from the group and began paying attention.

“Three!”

Both were quick on the draw, downing the first with a suppressed grimace and reaching for the next in seconds, drinking this one just a touch slower. Loud rambunctious cheering rose up for either side, each one making their way with the pauses between each drink stretching out as the impact of the alcohol began to make itself known. Bangalore in particular wasn’t looking extremely well after the 6th, but Gibraltar wasn’t terribly far behind.

By the 7th drink the solider was pulling ahead, forcing herself to slam it back with groan at the disgusting acrid taste that lingered far too long. (y/n) took that moment to ask each drinker whether they’d like to quit to which both shook their heads, if somewhat unsteadily.

The 8th was worse, neither looking great but refusing to give in. Gibraltar caught up, taking his first with a raised fist for the small victory. Bangalore took hers with a look of resentment at the liquid before following suit. It was the 9th that Bangalore finally gave in, and gave Gibraltar the victory. Cheers and boos rose up around the table, the winning team proudly pointing to their new ‘Apex drinking Champion’. Bangalore was far too wasted to care, groaning from her spot face down on the table.

---

It was later in the evening now, and while there had been a few more drinking games most had been with sips of beer this time instead of the ‘party shots’ Octane ordered. Everyone was steadily getting more and more drunk, and by now even the most reserved had become a little more bold. Bloodhound recounted tales of brutal hunts, aweing their audience with stories of kills and survival while Octane recounted stunts in the past that had failed and sympathised with the hunter on things gone wrong.

Choosing to mostly stay sober if only to get the daredevil home safely later, you laughed and slowly nursed your much weaker drink, patting Mirage as he started to be rather cuddly to anyone nearby and Wraith reluctantly allowed them to cling to her arm. Gibraltar wasn’t that much different than normal- incredibly friendly and fun to be around.

Octane however as he became more drunk gravitated more and more towards (y/n), growing quieter but much like Mirage clingy and affectionate. It was adorable frankly, and many of the legends decided the night was finally worth winding down to continue the next week. Thanking everyone for the wonderful evening and paying the tab, one by one the group of 7 filtered outside with a slight stumble to their steps and rather quickly Octane and their partner found themselves gravitating towards home.

It wasn’t until he was safely home that the speedster finally started speaking openly, draping themselves in (y/n)’s lap and snaking his arms around their waist, prosthetics still needing to be removed.

“Someone’s cuddly,” they joke in passing and he laughs in response, giddy and slow. His mask and goggles are thrown off to the side in a quick motion, impatient to be properly face to face with their lover.

“Well...You know I can’t resist you, mi amor. I’ve been waiting all night.” He’s swaying slightly and clearly unsteady but it doesn’t stop him from smiling down at (y/n) with such love in his eyes it almost hurt, seeing how love stricken they were. A moment passes to regain the breath that was stolen from their lungs at the sight of Octane gazing to intently at them but they don’t have a chance to reply. The moment is snatched away instead by Octavio pressing his lips against theirs, soft and startlingly gentle in contrast to the fire that his gaze held seconds before.

It’s so gentle it steals a whimper from (y/n)’s throat, prompting him to deepen it which is met with no resistance. The tip of his tongue traces their lip slowly, and given permission a harsh breath escapes the two before they meet again, lips slanted to better accommodate the moment.

It’s still so fragile but it says so much more than words could, even in his drunken haze treating (y/n) like something to be cherished. Only when they have to pull back for breath does Octane finally relent, curling close around their form and letting on just how touch starved he could be. Still out of breath, (y/n) can only hold on, tasting the liquor on their tongue from whatever Octavio had been drinking. Somewhat sweet- cider maybe?

“I love you, so much. You know that, right?” He murmurs against their shirt, half buried against their form. It’s so endearing (y/n) can feel their heart melt instantly, giving in to the hold and wrapping both arms tightly around the Spaniard. For a moment they can only listen to the soft breaths and heartbeat between them in the quiet of the bedroom they shared.

“Yeah. I love you too, ‘Tavi. Now c’mon. You’ll injure yourself if you sleep in those legs, lemme help-“ He stops them, moving back to gaze at them seriously. His speech slurs, accent heavy on his tongue but the meaning is clear enough despite the heavy heartbreak that comes with it.

“Will you still love me without them? If I wasn’t... Me? Octane?”

Taken off guard, you can only nod, and whisper the quietest of replies.

“Of course, baby. I’d have you no other way.”

Chapter Text

Months apart advertising the games had left you with a nice pay check but a hole in your heart Mirage was meant to fill.

Stepping off the drop ship had been a dream, running to his waiting arms and being carried home like the queen he treated you as, and you ate up every bit of attention he gave you. Kisses, hugs, holding hands. It felt like beginning the relationship all over again, relearning habits and natural rhythms. Routines slowly slotting back together day by day.

You felt so inexperienced all of a sudden, anxious about things you’d never even thought about before. What if they didn’t love you the same as before? You’d been gone a quarter of an earthen year and for people constantly busy like you both were, that was a very long time to be away for. The amount you’d missed must be colossal… You hadn’t even had time to ask, still feeling fresh off the transport back to Apex City and recovering from the intense ‘jet lag’ interplanetary travel inflicted on passengers. Adapting to planetary time zones so much had left you exhausted, in serious need of recovery time. Mirage thankfully, was very understanding.

…Mostly.

You stirred awake slowly, the sensation of movement next to you and an arm curling around your waist making you nearly jerk awake in reflex but the quiet hushing of Elliott’s voice soothed whatever quick movements you were about to perform. The smell of his cologne and natural musk is soothing, melting into his touch and seeking him out even if your eyes were still closed in the early hours of the day.

“…Hey baby,” He murmurs softly with a low voice, his own fatigue colouring his tone. It twists your heart into knots without fail, burying your face against his neck and not even trying to pretend you weren’t desperately glad for his presence. You were- after so long of just voice calls and static laced video conferences… This was heaven. Tired, sleepy, blissful heaven.

He’d pulled you into a hug now, both arms circling your chest with a yawn.“…Hey Elliott,” you whisper back, causing his hold around you to tighten briefly. A hand combs idly through your hair, causing you to lean into it. “Did you just come to bed?”

He smiles and presses a kiss to the top of your head, a hint of guilt lingering in his voice. “I… Yeah. I had some uh- tinkering to do on the ol’ holotech y’know? You looked so tired I didn’t want to disturb you. Did I disturb you?” You shake your head slowly, voice muffled against your place against his neck you were reluctant to give up. It was grounding you right now, still reeling from freshly arriving home and soothing the ache you’d felt in your heart for him ever since you were parted for work reasons. You move back just enough to gaze at him lovingly, before leaning forwards just enough to press a tentative, searching kiss to his lips.

He doesn’t even try to resist it, welcoming your touch as though it were the first thaw of spring after a particularly harsh winter. Its gentle and sweet and it erases so many worries with just a simple gesture that it makes you feel foolish for fearing he’d ever reject you in the first place. It ends far too quickly and you feel silly for the tears that spring to your eyes unbidden, making you wipe them away harshly.

“No- no. You didn’t i’m just-“ You sniffle wetly before furiously scrubbing at more tears. Mirage’s eyes soften and he catches your wrists before you can do anything else with a slow gait, moving instead to kiss away each tear with a smile that has you choking back broken sobs. His thumbs trace soothing circles against your wrists, expression so genuinely in love it hurts your heart to see. “I’ve just really missed you. I hated being away for so long and i’ve been so worried you found someone better and-”

“-Babe,” the trickster cuts you off carefully, expression sobering into something more serious. “I could never find someone better than you. I know I joke around a lot and call myself great but- well, you’re the best thing that happened in this place. I wouldn’t trade you for anything and I really mean that. I really do,” he insists, sitting up just enough to gaze at you properly. You can’t help the tears that continue to fall, fingers reaching out to grip at his shirt to assure yourself this is all real. That this isn’t another malicious dream showing you things that were light-years away in another star system entirely. “Come here…” Mirage chuckles in the darkness of the room, tugging your form closer and capturing you in another hug. It’s eagerly accepted, a soothing hand running down your back that tames the choked cries that still wanted to escape from your throat.

You both stay like that for awhile, listening to the beat of each other’s hearts so close together after so long. Breathing deep, Mirage softly laughs after awhile.

“…I’m still getting used to having you back. Coming home to an empty house felt… Alien, for a long time. You’d think i’d be used to it by now, after how much I did it in the past before you but. No.” You look up, and he had tears now, despite the steady voice he had. It surprises you, having so rarely seen your lover break down in front of you. Only when nights were really bad did he ever show just how broken he felt inside at the loss of so much family, drunk and hating himself for what he was. That he couldn’t do more or bring back his brothers.

“It feels like a dream I never want to wake up from, having you here again. You’re here to stay now right? Not going off on another trip any time soon? Because I really don’t think I could handle being so far apart another time,” he asks with a feverish worry in his voice that only triggers your own tears again. You nod vigorously, moving to pull him down to your level and rest your forehead against his, eyes clamped shut.

“I’m not going anywhere and they can’t fucking make me. I feel so out of touch having missed so much- nothing they pay me is worth the distance between us. Not ever again,” You swear with a righteous fury that burns away the sadness with determination instead. “I missed you, and gods nothing can compare to this. Holding you in my arms, having you right here beside me to kiss and hug and say ‘I love you’ to in person; not through a phone screen. I feel guilty enough acting so touch starved and insecure- and I don’t ever want to leave again. Not when you’re the person I’m leaving behind… I just can’t do it. Not to you.”

He says nothing in reply, only clutching tighter around your form and you can feel the slight shake in his grasp. You realise that perhaps you weren’t the only one that had felt so lonely and insecure during this entire incident.

“I love you, Elliott. I love you so very deeply and I’m an absolute wreck right now but… I’m so very glad to have you in my life.”

That breaks him in the sweetest of ways, warm wet tears streaming down against your shoulder and chest as they fall and you don’t say anything, your own falling just as much. The moment is cathartic, releasing so many thoughts that had built up and keep tucked away so neatly in your chest until they couldn’t be contained anymore and came bursting out like a flood gate that had finally been opened. The both of you were swept away by this tidal wave of emotion but with every tear that fell, you felt your bond growing ever stronger, like an obstacle that had been obscuring your path had been removed after the longest time. Who fell asleep first, you weren’t sure, but when you did fall asleep- it was finally back in the arms of the man you loved so very dearly.

That alone was medicine to a heart that no tablet or syringe could fix.

Chapter Text

People mistook Caustic for someone obsessed with only one thing.

While that was true most days, they weren’t around to see the more human side of the scientist, passionate about his macabre work but still so very mortal in every way. He liked keeping his home life completely separate from the prying eyes of other champions and the press- the vultures that they were. So to come home to his much more private accommodation in the Apex City and hear the clatter of his partner rummaging around the kitchen and already working on an evening meal had him pausing in his motions to remove his heavy lab gear. A quiet swear as something clanged loudly filled the atmosphere, something delicious cooking.

The harsh lines that often decorated the edges his eyes softened, listening in before continuing to remove his attire.

Moving silently as he did so, his usual notes were carefully stashed in the locked study; clothes swapped for something much more civilian like- though perhaps a tad old fashioned. A simple dress shirt with a waistcoat and slacks, hair brushed back proudly, Alexander looked quite the distinguished gentleman when not holed up in his laboratory.

The noises in the kitchen however were calling him and with an ease of movement one wouldn’t expect for someone so tall in stature leant in the doorway as their significant other continued to work away at what they were cooking.

It was an adorable sight, them being 5ft 2” and barely up to Caustic’s chest and more heavy set in shape, still dressed comfortably from waking up late and humming away to a nameless tune that had entered their head. Chopping away at vegetables and seasoning what looked like some kind of stew, they were completely oblivious to the mountain of a man gazing at them with a lingering fondness many thought impossible on him. Such moments were astoundingly rare, and guarded fiercely like a dragon their hoard. Nobody else was allowed to see- and they were ok with that.

It was mid way through adding in a few extra things to the stew that their lover finally noticed, turning their face beet red and a mortified expression crosses their features.

“OH! Uh- I wasn’t expecting you home so soon Alexander- you normally stay so late. Nothing is quite ready yet,” they try to recover from the evident fluster across their face but he only chuckles, low and deep as he moves forwards and joins them at the stove. An arm curls around them, kiss pressed gently to the top of their head as he leant down. “Did things go well today? I saw your victory on the TV,” they hum quietly, leaning into the scientist’s side with a smile, letting them take over with the cooking. He was surprisingly adept at it, and a quick learner too.

“It did- though hardly a true challenge. What are insects to me, after all? Being fundamentally better.. sours the taste of victory.” He muses with a look that tugged at the corners of his mouth. (Y/n) only huffs, squinting.
“You say that, but I saw what happened. Show me your hands,” they demand quietly, and with a raised eyebrow he lets go of the ladle still in the stew, offering out his hands slowly to his smaller lover. Each of Caustic’s knuckles were bruised and scrapped up- likely previously bloody but had scabbed over and been treated before being left and forgotten about. (Y/n) was familiar with that type of damage, earning him a half hearted glare.

“Insects indeed. That must of been some furious fly swatting- c’mere. Let me treat this before it aches tomorrow- you need for hands for fine tuning chemistry work.”

Alexander is only amused at the exchange, a quiet huff of a laugh escaping his throat before the stew is set on low heat, and he allows himself to be carefully dragged to sit down at the table and have what cuts still lingered treated. It stung, bruises dabbed with healing balms to accelerate the process before finally being wrapped in a thin sticky gauze that stayed in place surprisingly well. It was not the first time Caustic had received this treatment and it wouldn’t be the last by a long shot, knowing far too well that the games were bloody and called for excessive violence on occasion. It brought in more viewers the bloodier the execution which meant more sponsors- and a side effect of his particular 3 punch finisher was he knew whenever it happened his lover would be there later scolding and treating his bloody knuckles.

Caustic was also very aware of how attractive they found his signature finisher too- something he smirked about after every single one when the cameras were no longer watching.

It was a win-win scenario as far as he was concerned, though he would never admit to enjoying the careful methodical approach of their care. Having someone so invested in his health for genuinely innocent reasons were a rare novelty he planned on enjoying as long as possible, it didn’t happen every day after all and he certainly wouldn’t get this lucky twice over. The odds of such a thing were astronomically unlikely.

“Satisfied?” He asks with a devilish smile, which earns him a soft swat against his forearm. “For now. I swear you do this on purpose,” they continue to huff, packing away the small stash of medical supplies bit by bit. His lack of guilt or regret tells (y/n) everything they needed to know.

“...You figured I was watching didn’t you?” They cross their arms with a stern expression, Alexander can see straight through their facade with ease. He only chuckles, moving to stand and as a result tower over his smaller lover.

“Perhaps. The notion did not escape me when fighting for my life,” he points out with the barest hints of a smile. He can only chuckle as they throw their arms up in the air, and storm back to the kitchen murmuring something about the meal burning. They’d forgive him later, that much he was certain of.

Chapter Text

“Mira- it’s just a scratch,” Octane tries to reason, but you hold your ground firmly, fixing him with a harsh glare which withers his resolve to argue.

The cut in question was actually a large gash on his forearm he had attempted to hide, which certainly didn’t fly with you knowing full well he liked to play off damages.

A soft sigh passes his lips and giving in, Octane lets you sit him down and open up the medkit you had on hand for if he fell. Which he did.
Again.

The speedster legend had been practicing parkour and gymnastics recently, trying to make himself more nimble to stick difficult landings with his prosthetics to aid his fights in the ring. So far he’d progressed a lot considering he had never done gymnastics before, focusing more on running and other sports that were more competitively based. That also meant though there were plenty of sprained wrists trying to recover from bad landings, cuts and bruises from when he insisted on ‘trying it out in the field’ before he was ready.

You were there though every time, ensuring the idiot didn’t get into too much trouble. This particular incident just happened to be the most recent and serious, crimson trailing down his arm where something metal had caught his flesh on the way down from a particularly high jump in the practice ring. The first call of order was to clean away the blood and sterilise the site, causing him to grunt and hiss in reaction to the sting of the antiseptic wipes. When glancing up though, he put on a stoic face acting as though this was nothing, Octane pretending to be just fine. Taking it as a sign to continue, the nanite gel was next. It wasn’t worth using a stim for, knowing he’d only abuse it if he could instantly get back on his feet outside of the ring as well as in.

“Hold still...” You murmur quietly as a tube is retrieved from the red box, the nozzle for the thin applicator opened and squeezed gently, the cold nanite gel carefully applied where the flesh needed to knit back together again. The process wasn’t instant, but the blood still blooming there in fat droplets or streams coagulated on contact, easing the exposed and damaged nerves as they entered recovery mode.

A harsh breath of relief escapes Octane’s throat and glancing up again you frown, mouth upturned. “You know you can tell me if things hurt right? I’m not going to judge- god I’d be complaining like a little bitch right now if I was in your position.”

The words seem to surprise the racer, eyes widening however minutely before softening into a more vulnerable gaze as bandages were fished from the medical kit and slowly wound around the injury now that the gel was put to work. Nanites were incredible, healing things ever so quickly- even if scars were left behind, however faint. Slowly, words find him, maskless and open for you to see every look and expression which was something you cherished very dearly. It showed just how far he’d come in his battle to remember that even without the goggles, he was still Octane. Still a champion of the ring- but also still human.

“...It hurts like hell- but in the ring we don’t have time to complain,” he admonishes wryly, quietly marvelling at your deft fingers weaving the wrapping around his arm so professionally. You chuckle idly, not quite thinking much of it. “Its get hit and keep going or die, and i’m not that fond of dying,” Octane confesses with a hint of playful sarcasm but the words ring true. The ring was a brutal place, and even if one was shot point blank if it wasn’t a lethal shot it was fight or the second shot really would kill you. Pain was an inconvenience, just like the burn of your muscles when running. Things people don’t think about until it’s already happening like every situational problem.

“Even so,” you retort with a firm tug of the wrappings, making him wince just a bit which you respond with an apologetic look. “You don’t have to put on a brave face. You can say something hurts bad and you hate that it hurts,” the bandages are tied off, and with a satisfied nod you release his arm from your hold. He lingers however, shuffling a little closer while you were both sat on the floor and had a moment alone in the middle of the training arena. “If you don’t tell anyone how will it get better, y’know? You might be now immune to the true pain that is standing on a lego when you didn’t see it on the floor but god nobody would fault you for bitching outside of the battlezone. I certainly wouldn’t- I kinda learned first aid so I could help with everything, actually.” You confess with a bashful trail off to your sentence.

Next to you, Octane only chuckles quietly and trails callused fingers over where the blood had tinted the previously pristine wrappings. It wasn’t enough to leave a splotch yet but it was only a matter of time. Even with the nanite solution coating the wound, movements would still cause fresh blood to speck the site of injury until the flesh began properly reforming in its place.

“...I guess I never thought about it that way before. Never had time. Was always running to the next place I didn’t have much of a chance to focus on myself, or if I was comfortable.” The fingers trail away, and instead move to wrap around your side, gazing at the sun sinking below the tall walls of the dome like arena. Massive red banners displayed the recent games stats, yourself and Octane featured on the Champion squad together along with a teammate, an impressive number of kills between you. Your newfound medical skills had been incredibly clutch, getting Octane up in the nick of time to evade a grenade that had been hurtled right towards your position. Dashing behind cover, he had barely finished getting off a phoenix cell regen before he was hurriedly pulling down his mask, pressing a kiss to your cheek and dashing off with an R-99 in hand ready to lay waste to any in his sights with a battle cry on his lips.

“There is always time for yourself,” you reply quietly, shifting just enough in his hold to look directly at his piercing green eyes that still stopped you in place even now with their intensity. So much was held behind those eyes, so much left unsaid and secrets yet untold to the world. He was an enigma at times and the easiest book to read at others. It kept you off guard, unsteady and unsure what to expect.

The same low chuckle rolls lazily through his chest, a warm glint resting firmly in Octane’s gaze as he spoke again. “I’ll be sure to keep that in mind, amiga. Now let’s get going- I heard they’re announcing a new trailer for Cyberpunk 3077 later and we’re defs’ gonna want to be there!”

It’s your turn to laugh now, pulling him up from the floor and poking him in the exposed ribs which he gasps at in surprise before doing it right back. It’s cute knowing he’s ticklish, cackling as he swats away another attempt and this time goes in for the kill on you- which you see coming from a mile off. Even if he’s fast, his body language is broadcast like a beacon from space and you have just enough time to evade and start running, making it to a zipline in the training grounds before he can realise he missed.

A grave mistake.

With a wild holler, you can hear his legs working overtime to make up for lost ground, rapidly falling behind as the zipline carried you far away towards the entrance of the faux arena. The rush of wind fills your ears but you can hear your ‘companion’ catching up, the sound of a second person attaching to the zipline catching your attention right as you reach the end and keep going. Quite literally hitting the ground running, dust was kicked up in your wake as not even a blessing would save you now. Octane lived for a few things. Adrenaline, chases, and you.

This was all three things combined into one- and you were his prey apparently as he shouted from behind; “’c’yeah you better run! Make it interesting!”

Chapter Text

You broke into a dead sprint the moment you hit the ground from the zipline, muscles tensing and relaxing with every movement like a well oiled machine. Breath settling into a sharp and rapid pace you could feel the tension and anticipation building in your veins. Octane was 10 seconds behind you, but you more than anyone knew that was not much time at all when it came to the speedster. He was lightning fast even without his stims, always using a sprinters run despite it only being good for short distances. Nobody quite knew how he kept it up so long, chalking it up to incredibly stamina and his lack of leg muscles to worry about for the lower half. Behind you a short distance back you heard metallic impacts of feet hitting the dirt, coming after you with an intensity you hadn’t seen before as you risked a glance behind.

“’C’yeah you better run! Make it interesting!” He had his goggles down, eyes covered and mask up showing he was dead serious about this impromptu race. Unable to read his expression you could only see the tense posture Octane demonstrated, leant further forward than usual for his sprint.

You snapped your vision back to the path ahead, knowing that if you wanted to evade capture from the daredevil himself you’d have to get very creative and fast. The training arena had a plethora of surfaces, ziplines and platforms to get to from just about anywhere but he was also familiar with your fighting style. Anything that would work on other squads he’d adjust to and beat you there before you could even plan it yourself...

The pounding of footsteps against the earth behind you getting ever closer forces you into a snap decision, veering wildly to the left towards one of the sniper towers with various platforms along the structure, ziplines leading off in various directions. You weren’t winded yet but you would be shortly, using your strength advantage to launch yourself off a crate discarded by the metal beams that towered upwards and catching hold of a the first platform you could. From there you continued climbing, going off the intended track entirely and clamouring your own way up the structure in an unpredictable way that left no real opportunity for Octane to know just where you were going to stop. Occasionally ziplines got in the way and you had to adjust diagonally, but for the most part the metal gridded surface made finding handholds easy.

The sudden lack of seemingly thunderous sprinting in the quiet of the training arena makes you glance down, looking around for where your current pursuer could of gone until you hear it- the very familiar sound of a jump pad being deployed and the run up to it .

You swear and brace yourself, turning just in time to see Octane shooting through the air much higher than you were and rapidly gaining. Half way up the first part of the tower you have 3 seconds to assess where to go before you place your bet on dropping, waiting until he got just close enough before releasing your hold entirely and plummeting to the floor while he had expected you to climb higher. You can hear his “tsh!” of frustration, following where you go as he scrambles to latch on to the wall. You had been unexpectedly blessed by your previous climbing obstacles, a zipline leading to the complete other side of the ring like building hanging beneath you as you fall.

The rope-like cord approaches rapidly and twisting to catch it pulls at your arms as your full weight plus the momentum strains at your muscles, nearly enough to make you drop before you can latch yourself in place from the device all champions had strapped to their waist and let the motorised mechanism do the rest. The pulley rocketed you along and for a second you forgot you were mid chase, laughing wildly as the wind rushed past and the ground below zoomed by at an alarming rate stinging your face and reddening your cheeks. Your arms and legs at least were grateful for the temporary rest before a jolt at the other side of the zipline (where you had left from) clued you in on just where Octane was. Right.

The chase.

You were both so far committed to this game of cat and mouse you’d forgotten how it started and what exactly losing entailed- or even how to win. That look in Octane’s eyes however when the chase began... You could imagine what he had planned. You took that moment to break off the rope to the ground below, landing with an audible thud and instead running towards the high ground where elements of the landscape had formed a faux cliff face trailing up to unused buildings above. Buildings were an excellent place to fight Octane, since it forced him into intricate surroundings he couldn’t race through without risking knocking himself off balance. It was a sound plan, giving the option to also hide until he gave up and announced you the winner. At least it was until you heard the sound of stims being used, causing you to shout out how that was cheating. Whether or not he heard you, you weren’t particularly sure but he did shout something in return.
“You better speed up compadre! You won’t get away from me like this!”

---

Fuck those stims and fuck Octane’s stupidly high energy and FUCK HIM IN PARTICULAR.

That was the general line of thought as you currently remained hid inside the nearest building, having lost him for now but you could hear him close by, running circles around the buildings and at times getting uncomfortably too close to your position, hidden in the rafters of the shoddy house. His footsteps thanks to their metallic composition were very loud and easy to track, so softening your own and effectively keeping out of his line of sight had been fairly easy the moment you found a gaggle of buildings to carefully stalk around.

He knew this was an environment you had the edge in too, fully aware at just how good you were crawling into small shadowy corners and making yourself nigh impossible to see. You could hear the growing frustration in his voice, an impatient growl growing in his throat the longer you evaded his sight.
“I know you’re here, better come out before I start tearing the place apart (y/n),” Octane’s voice carries, muffled but audible through the building opposite he’s currently prowling through. He’d caught up so fast before using his stims you’d barely had time to dive into a building and climb out through a hole in the roof before he was bursting through the doors sounding mighty pleased with himself.

Now though, he’d changed to throwing things around in frustration, getting huffy and irritated that you may very well of escaped his grasp and won this round. That was, until your comm line activated carrying Mirage’s voice through the building exceptionally loudly- or so it felt like.

“Hey! Don’t know what you’re doing hot shot but me and the gang are heading out tonight; wanted to ask if you’re in! Gimme a ping on back if you’re down but gotta go. Bangalore keeps kicking my ass at this new training regime and I am not going to lose-“

You shut it off with a quiet curse directed at Mirage and yourself and the entirety of your surroundings falls exceptionally silent compared to the loud pacing and shuffling previous to the call. Octane had to of heard you, knowing where you were but now you no longer knew where he was and even just the idea of that was so very dangerous.

Not knowing where Octane was in any kind of chase, whether he was on your team or not, was a very bad thing.

Your only hope was to remain perfectly still, and listen for some kind of cue to clue you in on where this enigmatic runner had gotten off to, still hunting for you in the sprawling mess of buildings of the training arena. Steadying your breathing not moving a muscle you strain to hear just where he was-

Until you scream in surprise at the wall opposite to you splintering open, and Octane dashing face first right towards your location.

Chapter Text

You knew the houses you had been hiding in were flimsy and just about ready to fall down, but witnessing Octane burst through the wall itself and charge right at you was a sight you’d never expected to see. Splinters showered the room, large chunks of wood rotted and flimsy covering the floor and you had barely 2 seconds before he was upon you, eyes glowing behind his goggle lenses from stim use. Arm outstretched towards your form to try and grab you yelped and rolled out of the way just in time, all manner of subtlety and stealth abandoned in favour of evading this neon green threat.

“I got you now!” Octane exclaims, recovering from the miss and tracking your movements with another attempt to grab your smaller and much more agile form. You just know behind the mask and goggles, he’s grinning nigh manically at this game of cat and mouse. Not many could force him to slow down just to find people but you could and it was a unique aspect to the chase that nobody else offered even in the arena when it really was life or death.

The movements come so much faster than expected, the stims still active in his veins and it takes everything you have to swerve just enough to miss his grapple, passing by your neck by mere inches. Adrenaline pumping from both the scare and now officially being in combat you are tied between running and fighting, knowing well you could take on Octane in a fist fight but unsure just how far he was willing to go to win this round. You find out when his leg sweeps out catching you off guard and successfully making you stumble backwards, your balance no longer there to defend yourself. He jeers with a laugh, dashing forwards to get the pin but continuing with the fall you let gravity take you, waiting for the moment where the speedster gets too close and

CRACK

Arms braced to spring yourself back up your legs kick outwards and connect with Octane’s chest who had been so boldly confident in his ability to secure the pin. It sends him reeling back a good few feet with a loud grunt, air forcefully ejected from his lungs from the impact staggering him long enough for you to recover and get yourself on guard again. There is a pause before anything further happens, and from the sound of it the stim he’d injected finally ran dry. Coughing once, twice... The empty stim is pulled from a port on Octane’s arm and thrown behind him some ways, the container clinking against old flooring.

Slowly, you began to circle one another. Back and forth, you both stood light on your feet, arms raised ready to defend incoming blows and cautious of any move the other could pull.

To flee now would only mean a clear advantage for the other fighter, both on edge and searching for a sign of the next move. You make the first strike, aiming for another kick to the chest but it’s blocked with alarming ease, a calloused hand catching the base of your foot before any harm can be caused prompting you to hop carefully trying to pull yourself back before Octane and turn the momentum to his own advantage. You’re a little too slow and instead you’re sent stumbling into a wall from being pulled, his strength surprising you as you went from standing on one foot to impacting against the same place you’d been hiding not moments before with a cry. You have to duck, a fist aiming for one of your pressure points around your clavicle which instead collide with the wood behind you splintering the wooden panel with a sickly wet crunch. Looking would be pointless, you know he hurt something doing that but his posture doesn’t show it. He tries again, making a grab for you while you were low but you prove to be more slippery than him still reeling from the impact of his fist to solid wood. Instead of running though, you circle back and with a leap off of one of the walls aim one last kick at the speedster who had just started to run at you.

The sound the collision makes when Octane isn’t fast enough to realise what you’d planned would be horrifying if you weren’t currently fighting and too dazed by both the adrenaline in your body and the blood rushing in your ears to hear it. Your foot this time impacts their face, sending their goggles flying off onto the ground some 10 metres away while you two are both sent sprawling to the ground, a lense likely cracked if not shattered. Octane hits it not as hard as you, using your upwards momentum to cause damage but the yowl of pain is enough to bring yourself quickly to your feet, still in fight or flight mode.

Octane however is hunched over on one arm, legs slowly bringing him to a somewhat kneeling position on his side. You almost feel bad, wanting to approach and ask if this had gone too far but this isn’t the first ‘game’ you’d played together. You knew the rules, and so did he. No guns, no knives, only environmental damage and hand to hand combat. Whoever got caught first lost. You could catch him right now. It would be so easy while he’s down. You take a step forwards as your mind races, urging you to take your victory while Octane was still down because he was never down for long-

The smouldering intensity of emotion his eyes when he turned onto his other side on the floor freezes you in place, blood trickling from where you’d cut the very edge of his brow and centre forehead. It’s a look you’d only seen once before, and it was never directed at you. It was a look of pure unbridled and unhinged determination, frustration lacing the edges of his mouth.

You undid your step forwards, not looking away as you took more steps back, hurriedly walking backwards until you finally turned and sprinted from the houses. You were done hiding now, when Octane got like that he was ready to do just about anything to win.

A hint of terror creeps up the back of your neck as you start running now, a dead sprint away from the cluster of houses you had previously been joyously been leading Octane around and teasing him with how well you could stay away from his line of sight. Now it was far safer to have him in your sights but that was no longer an option. You could only run and skid down slopes, jumping off the faux cliff the village sat near and rolling with the impact to lessen the damage, ears desperately listening out for any clue how far he was away. It was only a matter of time now before the runner caught up and exacted his revenge on you for such a move.

Then you hear the dreaded sound of a jump pad in the distance, encouraging you to run faster if you could but you were already getting tired and sore from running so long on adrenaline while Octane lived on it. He was used to the constant pushing of limits, running marathons and never even breaking a sweat.

You didn’t have time to turn around and look where he was going to land, only move forward and maybe make it to the zipline tower like before but all possible thought of doing that was ripped from your head when this time you are sent to the floor as a body impacts from behind and for a moment white hot pain fills your senses then- darkness.

The darkness is numb, unfeeling, but it only lasts for a moment.

When you come to, Octane is straddling your waist, both arms pinned above your head triumphantly despite the now dirt covered mess of blood on his face and eyes still smouldering but now with an immense satisfaction. You blink groggily, ears ringing and pain ricocheting down your body in angry waves starting at your back outwards but you can hear his next words clear as day despite your current disposition. He laughs softly, a sharp contrast to his current smug and arrogant expression hovering above you, filling your vision.

“Heh. I win, you lose.”

The sound of sirens fill the arena, signalling your time was coming to an end, and to leave the arena promptly so the next group who had booked it could enter and use it for practice. Octane however only casts a glance to the blaring noise, before his gaze flickers back down to you, still pinned beneath him and panting heavily. A lazy triumphant smirk tugs at his lips, before he leans down and presses a kiss to yours. It’s more like a claim than a kiss, pulling away with a huff as he gets up and releases his hold.

“Maybe next time amigo- looks like our time has come to an end.”

Chapter Text

You’re still stuck thinking back to the arena and what transpired only hours ago.

The chase from out of nowhere, the intense race to escape or hide long enough that Octane finally gave up, the ensuing fight in the building and the look he gaze you when you finally knocked him down long enough for him to stay still.

Waking up from being knocked unconscious, pinned underneath him.

He’d left before you could say anything properly and by the time you’d gotten up from the dirt you’d been kicked into and half walked half limped after Octane, he was long gone from the training rooms. You don’t even know if he got his goggles back from the floor, too busy running for your life to notice details at the time. A quiet sigh passes your lips, finally exiting the threshold of the training grounds arena. Bloodhound and their squad pass by as you exit, nodding silently in respect while Gibraltar and Lifeline greet you enthusiastically, stopping long enough to hold a short conversation despite being fully decked out in their battle gear.

“Well well- looks like someone had a fun time training. What got’ch so messed up (y/n)?” The giant of a man begins and despite your odd mood, a smile comes to your face. Gibraltar made it so easy to smile around him, it was a gift. “Eh- games of cat and mouse, practicing running away from squads who are really fast and persistant. Got a little too carried away this time but I think they ended up worse off than me,” You confess with a lopsided shrug, idly noticing that Bloodhound had slowed their gait to a standstill at the mouth of the arena. They were listening in.

Lifeline rolls her eyes, crossing her arms and shaking her head- you already knew a scolding was coming. You beat her to it though with palms raised in defence. “Hey I didn’t start it! Octane was the one who decided to kick me in the back- though I did kinda kick him in the face first. I suppose I deserved it but y’know... He came at me first. Fucker jumpscared me by smashing through a wall.”

“Still. Ya both idiots- we have training drones for a reason,” Ajay moves to poke you in the chest, and from her side pouch DOC chirps curiously at the mention of drones. The little robotic optic peers out from the bag, gazing curiously up at you both.

“Not chu’ sugar. Back to sleep now,” she pats the little octagonal drone gently, who churrs quietly and obeys the request powering down. The sight is sweet enough to make yourself and Gibraltar grin, forgetting how hurt you were in the moment. “Where even is that boy anyway? I bet he got so ‘caught up in his rush’ again he forgot pain exists,” Ajay mumbles bitterly at the end, gazing around with a glare.

“Not sure. He left before I could say anything- kinda up and vanished before I could get myself off the floor so... Either he’s at a medic fixing his cut face or he’s maaaaybe sulking. Could be anywhere in that case...” You shrug, to which you swear you hear a soft laugh carry on the wind from the mysterious hunter who absolutely isn’t listening, only gazing stoically into the training grounds with their back turned. Sighing with a smile, Gibraltar pats your shoulder which causes a wince, earning an apologetic look and a softer pat to your head.

“He’ll come around. You get the call from Mirage too by the way? We’re all going, thought you might want to come too- to get your mind off this?” His laugh once again is infectious, spreading to the whole group. You can tell by the way Bloodhound shifts that even their spirits are lifted by this man who seemed to be sunshine incarnate.

“Sure, I don’t see why not. Best let Mirage know I’m gonna kick his ass first though, his stupid call is the reason I got found in the first place!”

---

Showered, bandaged in places where wood had managed to get splinters in your skin from the floor of the hut and looking significantly better than the filthy mud smeared mess from the training grounds you rocked up to the regular meet up spot of choice. ‘Tanma’s Bar and Grill,’ where even legends were regular people and the food was only half the entertainment. The other half was the regular drinking contests, live music and various talent acts they had every night performing. Never was it a dull moment in the place and as such it had become one of the favourite places to be for all of the more social legends.

Rumour has it, even Caustic had visited once.

Now though, most of the regular suspects were crowded round a booth booked for the evening. Bangalore and Mirage were still bickering like children and Wraith was quietly enjoying her drink, waiting for the hot griddle in the centre of the midsized table to finish cooking her slices of steak. Gibraltar was mid way through another boisterous story with Wattson and Lifeline as his avid audience. Only Bloodhound was on your side of the table, still dressed in their signature mask and helm though their clothes were much more casual- even if padded. It was a nice evening and drinks were flowing, conversation even more so but your mind kept drifting, dipping out of conversations which someone else easily filled in.

The hunter leans in gently, so subtly nobody else even notices their soft words to you.

“You are distracted. Did something happen between you two?”

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out just who Bloodhound meant. You had only mentioned Octane earlier after all and they had not gotten so famous for being only mysterious. They were wickedly clever and observant, knowing what was going on long before any other. Slowly you nod, a soft sigh escaping you before you can stop yourself from releasing it. Slowly and very softly, you lean against their side and talk as you both pretend to pay attention to what’s going on. Mirage and Gibraltar were talking excitedly about something, likely the new round of things to grill that just arrived on a platter but that was filtered out so you were only paying attention to the soft ventilations of Bloodhound’s respirator.

“...Octane and I had one of our ‘games’ earlier, though this time it was less a game and more of a hunt. I’m not sure what caused it to be so different but... I caught him in the face with a flying kick while we were in close range. Knocked his goggles clean off and I guess something in him just flipped?” You idly shrug, reaching forward just enough to snag a piece of the newly delivered food and Bloodhound follows suit, placing a small grilled kebab onto their plate stuffed with vegetables and meat alike.

You won’t lie, this stuff looked delicious. Even when distressed, food was a universal temptation. Taking a quite bite, you continue to pay attention to the hunter as they speak up again.

“So tell me, did you win this... Hunt of yours?” They enquire casually, turning away to take a bite of their own meal by lifting the mask just enough. Everyone pointedly looks away, even if it’s in the corner of their vision. “You didn’t seem pleased about the results, regardless of what happened.” Pausing, you consider your next sentence carefully. The way the hunter worded their statement left you curious as to why they were asking such a thing.

“...I didn’t. Octane won by knocking me out for a few seconds by getting me in the back- must have hit the ground hard because when I came to I was pinned down and I have no memory of being moved.”

A soft chuckle is the only audible response, tilting their head slightly so the ominous lenses of Bloodhound’s mask peeked over their shoulder.

“Perhaps you should go find them. To the victors of the hunt, a tribute should be paid- and by the sound of it, you have yet to pay yours.”

Bloodhound said nothing more after that on the subject despite confused looks directed your way, but you were pulled back into the conversation by Natalie who insisted on sharing a drink with you that Mirage had made and was way too strong for a single person to drink. The night progressed and despite Octane not returning texts you found yourself relaxing into the warm atmosphere, forgetting temporarily the things that plagued your mind. You were slightly tipsy by the time the tab was paid and everyone filtered out and into the streets, reluctantly parting ways as the evening was getting a little late for you all.

You wander home slowly, mind remembering the words of the hunter, and just what exactly they meant by ‘pay tribute’. You figured you’d find out soon enough.

Chapter Text

“Looks like… What, 2 whole squads? No big deal!”

Mirage brushes off the fire fight 200 metres in front of his squad. His own slightly nervous tone kills the delivery of such a sentence, the slight tremor in his voice and strain from being pinned inside a tiny building just outside of Skulltown betraying the trickster. Wraith can only look at him critically, eyes darting from her teammate to the chaos outside as an artillery strike started up right as the ring began closing in. They had the benefit, but likely not for long. The ring was a fickle creature, and nothing was on their side for too long in the arena.

“3, actually,” Wraith adds not-so-helpfully as another group arrives from the direction of the market. A terse breath rips itself from his lips and a hand rakes through his hair, biting at the corner of his mouth in thought for just a moment. “…Alright… I have an idea. We both have vanishing acts right? Disappear from view?”

She looks him up and down, ducking as a bullet ricochet through the window and just barely manages to clip the edges of her shield causing a quiet swear. “Yes- but what’s the plan? We have nowhere to go and we’d only get followed. Path is just a banner in my pocket and the respawn beacons are on the other side of this mess,” Wraith points forcefully to the continuous gunfire and explosions gradually getting closer.

The nearest beacon was through the Bunker and out the other side and just across the way into the maze of cliffs and pathways.

Mirage only pulls out a pair of headphones and a small music player, worn from use over time and in need of some extra caretaking but otherwise functional. Wraith’s expression turns into a glare more deadly than the ongoing fighting outside. “Are you serious? Music?” She hisses, Wingman hefted ready to dash out the door as footsteps begin to get painfully close. By the sound of it, Bangalore was close.

“Hey- every great escape needs a great soundtrack! ‘Sides, we’ll make it. See you on the other side of Bunker,” Mirage grins, sounding for once more confident than he feels with a two finger salute. They don’t have much longer to focus on each other, the doors opening forcefully as the headphones are put on and a cluster of decoys fill the tight space.

Wraith warps from the room, while Mirage sneaks right on by Bangalore while cloaked, music already blaring in his ears causing the trickster to truly focus up and pay sharp attention to his surroundings. He was down one sense but it heightened everything else, his usually keen eyes working overtime to compensate for the lack of useful audio input.

As long as there wasn’t a Bloodhound around, Mirage felt the music boosting his confidence and chances as a spare glance was cast towards the mini map. They’d artfully woven their way in between the vast majority of squads and headed back towards the Bunker, lyrics punctuating every movement to the beat of his feet against the ground.

‘don’t you know
i’m still standing?’

More than a few shots had come close to catching him once he was visible to the naked eye again, snipers from 400 metres away or more sending bullets the Mirage’s way despite the vast distance between them. He only skirted out of the way, a small smirk finding its way onto his face with every step. Wraith had already reached the entrance, opening the giant metal doors to their salvation. Wraith is half way through the structure when the voices in her head are a second late on the warning, gas traps going off right as she reached the bottom of the stairs. In seconds she’s down, another enemy squad taking the moment to move in for the kill from the front entrance of the Bunker. A quiet curse leaves Elliot’s lips, reloading his light pistol and hurrying towards his destination.

‘I’m still standing-
After all this time’

Wraith wasn’t lucky enough to escape, the chime of her going into banner state forcing him to move even faster than before. Some say it might be foolish to run into such situations, but Mirage?

Luck was shining down on him today, the reverb of footsteps sensed as he entered the building only a minute after Wraith had. Moving forwards with weapons at the ready he was able to spot the traps before setting them off, a single bullet to the base of each canister enough to defuse them with little more issue. The resulting hail of bullets though had an arc star sent sailing down the metal steps right into the cluster of a squad waiting for the backup of the teammate they had just finished off. The resounding crunch of shields being broken was enough to bring back the cocky smirk on his face, launching himself from the hiding spot in a side room and down into the fray.

‘No I’m still standing!
Better than I ever did.
Lookin’ like a true survivor’

The solid recoil of a magazine being emptied was all the feedback he needed to know his shots had hit the mark, reloading with practised ease as the enemies had a small window to fire back, hitting only decoys as Mirage charged through and finished off the last one. Of course it was Caustic- sadistic bastard took far to much joy in watching people suffer from his traps.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we got em’!” Mirage congratulates himself with a laugh, pausing only long enough to snag some better armour from a tempting purple deathbox before going. He had still a ways to go. “Only one last push across the river now and we’re golden! …Aaaaand now i’m talking to myself. Great.”

Hesitating for just a moment, Mirage sprinted forwards and out into the open, leaving the relative temporary safety of the Bunker and into the exposure of the Cascades and riverbank. With everyone else still on the eastern side of the map though, it was a straight shot to respawn his teammates.

‘I’m still standing,
yeah yeah yeah.’

He wouldn’t admit it, but a sigh of relief leaves his lungs the moment the dropship warps into view, Wraith and Pathfinder rejoining the battle once again; even if they had no equipment currently. He fixes them with a lopsided smile, arms open wide as if to say ‘I did it, didn’t I?’ Wraith only fixes him with a withering glance but accepts the pistol offered out to her, Pathfinder already happily looting the few containers still lying around despite only 5 squads being left. While passing by, she pulls out an earphone, clipping Mirage’s ear with a tut of her tongue. “If that was for plan for an escape, i’m not looking forward to you plan for winning.” She scolds, glare lingering but the blare of horridly cheesy music makes the look wobble and despite her best attempts form a smile.

“Hey, we’re still standing right? At this point, we can do anything! I got us this far,” the holographic trickster boasts with his usual swagger, headphones carefully put back in. He completely misses the eyeroll Wraith gives him, Pathfinder tilting his helm curiously at the gesture.

“We got this. Easy.”

Chapter Text

“Hey... Stay with me tonight...?”

Octane’s eyes seem to glow in the darkness- though whether it was the trick of the light or something was causing them to actually glow, who knew. His voice however was impossibly gentle, cold hands reaching out for yours to stop you from leaving as you got up from the couch you had been watching a film together on. Fingers entwined, guiding you back to where you had just left slowly as you couldn’t find it in yourself to refuse such a quiet request. It’s almost heartbreaking how quick Octane is to reclaim his spot against you, eagerly wrapping his arms around your waist and taking in the heat you gave off.

It wasn’t anything special- some random action film you’d both had fun heckling and making fun of until it had come to an end and you’d realised the time. Tomorrow was another match, and you were both on different teams this time. Something either party was not enthusiastic about but it was something every person had to face at some point during the Apex Games.

“...Sure. Though we need rest soon, otherwise we’ll get killed in two seconds down in the ring.” You murmur softly, leaning back to gaze at the speedster properly. It had taken some getting used to, all the cybertronics and modifications Octane had now. Reaching out to cup his wave fingertips traced lines where flexible metals and mesh made up his skin, causing him to hum softly and lean into it. He was always cold now, never quite warm despite the intricate machinery that worked to keep him alive just beneath the surface.

After what happened, he was more mecha than human- just another thing to adapt to, after...

“I’m not afraid of death,” Octane starts to smirk and now you know for sure his eyes are glowing, a dim orange in the steady quiet darkness of his living room. You can feel the vibrations as the runner speaks, reassuring you he isn’t just a shell. He’s still who he was before. The words strike a little too painfully and before you can hide the saddened squint to your eyes his expression turns to one of regret.

“...M’ sorry. I forget you were there to see what happened. lo siento,” he apologises again, and the gentle touch of fingertips against his face turns into a palm resting against his cheek. If metal could be called that. Your back against his chest felt colder than ever, never seeming to adjust to the ambient temperature of the room.

“It’s... It’s fine. Just- I worry. I know you live for the rush, it’s how you’ve always been. You don’t care if you get hurt and i’ve supported you thus far but... Can’t I be a little selfish and hope that eventually you’ll get your fill of it? You pull yourself apart for an emotional high and you might think that life isn’t worth living without it but is it really? Before it was your legs, and now...” You pull away from his grasp slowly and when he doesn’t resist you worry you’ve said too much. Octane was someone who knew what he wanted no matter the cost but you often wondered where you stood in the cocktail of emotions he juggled on a daily basis. What kind of rush were you to him? A dull roar? Or something much weaker? You twist around, facing him properly now and you can see the regret heavy in his eyes- or are they optics now? What little skin and organic tissue remained looked scarred and pale in comparison to the pristine cybernetics that kept him alive. His hair covered one side of his face, getting a little too long now and needing a cut compared to the usual Mohawk he had ever since you’d known him.

What most clued you in however, was the subtle tremble in his fists, mechanisms straining to remain still and not give away just what he was feeling- but underneath everything it was still a human controlling a machine.

“You think I want to be addicted to this high?”

The words are whispered, but in the silence of the room they seem so loud. The LEDs built into Octane’s implants and metallic plating pulse erratically, causing your eyebrows to knit together in concern. “I never wanted any of this- to be bored. To lose my legs- my body. You think i’d be here if I could just stop? I’ve tried! I’ve tried for so long and nothing works- now i’m this... Freak. Always cold, always reminded i’m not human. No better than MRVNs people kick over as a joke- I can’t even bleed anymore!” Octane shouts in a frustration that ends in bitter anguish, eyes searching yours for some kind of answer to a question you didn’t know.

“I thought to myself- things couldn’t get any worse. May as well join the Apex Games. I’ve already become a cripple in the eyes of my parents, the only thing worth chasing is that stupid addiction. At least it made me feel something!” He continues, this time the chill that lances through your core having nothing to do with his temperature. The next sentence is so quiet it hardly passes his lips, gaze turning away from yours in shame.

“Dios mío... I had so much more to lose. And you and Ajay were there to see it happen. I can’t even find it in me to be sorry.”
His expression contorts slowly, almost neutral twisting into something that wasn’t anger but instead wretched sobs with no tears. He couldn’t cry, not anymore. The sight is something that puts every nerve in your body on edge in the most horrifying way, anxiety rising in such a wave that it’s hard to fight down- Octane never cried. He laughed at pain, welcomed misfortune and turned it into something positive. He wasn’t someone that just broke down like this- or maybe you never really knew him at all? How long had he been keeping this information to himself, you dreaded to think, hands reaching out without thought to brace themselves on either of his shoulders and trying to ignore the icy coldness that seeped through even his shirt.

Octane buries his face into your top, metallic fingers gripping at the flimsy fabric in fistfuls and it’s all you can do from letting your own tears fall, a pit of dread forming in your stomach. Your free hand laces through the strands of his hair- one of the few remaining human features left on the speedster.

What could you say to that? To any of it? You couldn’t relate because you’d never been in such a situation. Never had an addition so intense it took over everything despite genuinely trying to escape. How long you stay there for, you aren’t certain but it’s a haunting sight, to see one of the most vibrant people you know fall apart on your lap.

“...You aren’t a freak,” you say lamely, grasping for something to try and help the situation. The choked sob sounds far too dry, another reminder that he was more machine than human but you continue despite the shake to your voice.

“You aren’t. I... I still... Love you, despite everything. I knew what I agreed to when I asked you out, and metal or not- you’re still Octane aren’t you?” you ask, unsure whether you were reassuring him, or yourself. “My Octane. Octavio Silva- the man I said i’d give everything to. Aren’t you?” The question is repeated, hoping for a response. Something to show he was listening.

It takes a full minute before the shaking that wracked his slender frame slow, and another before he finally looks up at you from where he had taken to hiding his haunted face. The darkness around his eyes was permanent these days. Instead of an answer with words, he cups your face with either hand and presses a kiss to your lips, feverish and lost, needing guidance. It’s full of heartbreak and words unsaid that he can’t bring himself to voice into being yet and you wonder if you could bear to hear them even if he did. The sting of your heart only adds to that sentiment, whimpering into the melancholy touches laced with the desperation of a man unsure of his own existence.

“I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry,” he pleads against your alive, warmer lips and you can only smile sadly.

“You aren’t. You never will be,” the words come out one by one, laced with a morbid acceptance that this is the way things are, and you had come to accept that. You’d always known you supposed- this was no horrid surprise when you truly thought about it. It was just a truth you hadn’t wanted to consider until now.

“You’ll never be sorry about any of it- but I knew all this from the beginning. But I still hope one day you might be.”

The grip of his hold against your face tightens just a fraction, reminding you his strength was inhuman now- one of many things about his new upgrades. Then it loosens, and Octane’s eyes crease just slightly in a smile despite it never touching his mouth.

“Come on. No more words- I said i’d stay the night, and you are freezing. Time to go to sleep.”

He didn’t say anything else that night, clinging to your side as though fearing you would disappear the moment he closed his eyes.

Chapter Text

“You’ll be tired in the morning if you don’t sleep,” you murmur quietly to the aloof hunter, still awake by the campfire they had kept going even when the rest had retired to their tents. By the look of the good collection of firewood gathered next to the stones circling the pit itself, they were intending on keeping the fire going until dawn. Not a bad decision, considering just how dangerous camping could be on this planet if unprepared.

The path that had led you here was a long and winding one, and you yourself weren’t even sure how it had happened. Though if one were to pin the blame on someone entirely, it was likely on Mirage. Elliott had overheard your plans for venturing out into the wilderness for some camping, trail walking and hunting small game- promptly inviting himself and a few others as well. Then Bloodhound had mentioned in passing that they were planning the same thing though whether they were also inviting themselves or it really was true coincidence you weren’t sure. Either way, it was rather comical watching everyone else over prepare with large bulky tents in comparison to the two actual hunters of the group.

Yourself... And Bloodhound.

The words you had uttered drew only a slight movement of their helm, so subtle it was easily missed if you weren’t used to the slight body language. Slowly they turn to gaze at you, the mask’s lenses glinting in the warm light of the fire. Even now when you were so well acquainted, their figure didn’t seem to get any less imposing. Always vigilant and watching Bloodhound was a person not to be messed with, a knife never far from their side. You would know, having been on the receiving end of it a few times in the Apex Games. Right now though, they merely nodded to the empty spot on the log next to them as a gesture to come hither and join them. You wasted no time doing so, treading softly in the quiet clearing you had all made home for now.

“...I am used to remaining alert at such an hour. It is you that should rest,” the hunter finally replies, posture previously tense now easing as you came to reside next to them. You don’t miss the subtle lean in to your side Bloodhound does, and if they took offense to you silently closing the distance left between you they say nothing.

You can only huff, eyes rolling fondly.

“So you say, mighty hunter but I saw you resting against that tree earlier during Elliott’s insisted ‘short rest’. Is that strong posturing you do just to disguise whenever you’re actually napping out in the field?” You start to grin and you know you’ve hit a mark somewhere because Bloodhound refuses to reply, their helm dipping so you can’t see where their eyes would be. A rare display of bashfulness. Preening victoriously you say nothing more, letting them recover their thoughts for a moment which they take gratefully. “You really should rest more though, I know you live for the hunt but this isn’t a life or death trip. It’s to relax- or it was until the others came along and realised they knew nothing about survival skills... Except Ajay. And Makoa. Regardless,” you gesture your hand to the yet to be used tent Bloodhound had set up, just outside of the circle of everyone else’s tents.

“You deserve to catch some sleep. I can keep watch if it will help you relax enough to actually do so,” your voice dips quiet enough that anyone previously listening would no longer be able to hear, leaning over just enough so that only they could catch your sentence.

For a long while they don’t respond, gaze cast to the murky blackness of the forest before you. This was no kind of forest you’d find on Terra (A.K.A.... Earth), it was full of massive trees that stretched hundreds of feet into the sky, with dense brush and agile wildlife that kept you on your toes. Even though most of it was mostly harmless (like that spider looking thing Octane had claimed was totally dangerous and tried to chase Lifeline with), there was a fair amount of bigger creatures that would and could kill you out here if you didn’t act smart. Then, a soft voice picks up in your ear, so quiet you have to strain to hear Bloodhound even though they are sat right next to you.

“I am... Not used to being in a group in the wilds. I belong here, I am confident in my own abilities. Often my hunts depend on endurance and being watchful so having the chance to truly rest- it is alien to me.” They confess, gaze still cast towards the darkness. “To be truthful, I came here to watch you hunt. We are scarce in the face of developing worlds on the Frontier- so to find another skilled hunter in the Apex Games was a surprise... But a welcome one.” They finally turn to face you and somehow you can feel warmth in their stare despite being completely unable to see their eyes. It was a strange sensation but one you had come to know well over the past months.

“I will rest as you bid me. I trust your watch will be as safe as my own,” Bloodhound murmurs, gloved hand reaching out to take yours and gently squeeze. It’s reassuring and honestly touching the hunter the gods themselves had sent trusted your watch enough to sleep. It was something you would not take lightly, knowing how prideful they were in their own work. “Wake me before the sun rises ástin mín?” They ask gently as the hunter moves to stand, pushing off the log and your shoulder to their full height.

“Of course. Though one day i’m going to get people to translate what on earth you’re calling me since you clearly won’t,” you poke their leg, causing a grunt while they were in the middle of stretching. It’s such a human reaction it causes you to laugh, grin still present when they gaze back down at you, still poking at their leg playfully.

“Cease that. And you may try- goodnight, (y/n). Safe watch,” they bid you with an amused huff of their own before walking back to their own tent. The quiet sounds of ruffling feathers and muted squawks lets you know Arthur had joined their hunter in rest, likely shuffling off the pillow they had to make way for their adored Bloodhound and nest in the crook of their neck. You’d seen it a few times before and it never got any less adorable, wanting to badly to pat that bird. You hadn’t gotten close enough just yet but one day...

You sigh, quietly placing another log onto the fire and settled in to endure the rest of the night. When dawn came you’d switch back, and hopefully get in one more hour before the rest were up and about.

Chapter Text

“Stay still- help is on the way,” Wraith reassures Wattson, pinned beneath rubble and trying to not stare in horror at the shrapnel that had clearly pierced the abdomen of the electrician. Her pained face twisted in a grotesque expression of agony was harsh enough- the skirmisher didn’t dare listen to the voices when they offered to show her glimpses into the outcome of this situation. Natalie for her part was trying her best to stay quiet, stifling whimpers when the tide of pain grew too much to fully contain in her throat. With everyone out of medical supplies and (y/n) doing their best out in the field to find someone able to do more, Wraith couldn’t do anything more than dig away at what little rubble remained movable and grip at Natalie’s hand.

In hindsight the attack had arrived from nowhere. Faceless squads that didn’t belong to the Apex Games dropping in and taking down anyone they found, bombs being detonated on main landmarks across Kings Canyon.

It was absolute chaos and nobody truly knew what was happening other than someone was targeting the legends and making a fierce effort to take down the Apex Games.

Wattson had been caught in the blast, the rubble of the Artillery centre building collapsing and showering her in heavy metals and stonework. It had been a miracle she hadn’t been murdered outright by the hail, instead only having her right side crushed. (Y/n) and Wraith had been away at the time, looking through other places none the wiser about the incoming blasts until the terrified screams of Wattson came in through the comm lines and a deafening explosion rocked the very earth beneath the two champions. The voices that usually buzzed in the back of the skirmisher’s skull went eerily silent as the tinnitus cleared- then the squads moved in. 3 groups of 5 swarmed the Artillery heavily armed and all wearing the same uniform. All at once, the voices returned with an angry fury, seemingly triggered by memories that still smothered her mind like heavy fog as the crackles of interdimensional energy rippled about her form. Every voice that fought for attention in Wraith’s mind unanimously agreed on a single word, screaming it with such intensity that Wraith herself found her throat hoarse from screaming it too;

FIGHT!

The gunfire that followed wasn’t pretty. It was every second of it teeth gritting and frustrating, using every grenade in her inventory to siphon off individuals around the remnants of the buildings and take them out strategically.

The steady and reliable recoil of the Flatline in her hands cut down 2 in quick succession, their gore spread against the walls they hid behind as a new kind of energy Wraith had never quite felt before pulsed through her system and forced her to go faster, blink in and out of worlds faster than the human eye could track. One rift there- another 10 metres away, living to her title as a void skirmisher as rapid fire battles were fought across the Artillery. Somewhere in the distance on the other side, she could hear (Y/n) fighting too, getting ever closer as the teams clearly not used to dealing with individuals with such powers were slowly whittled away over time.

Divide and conquer was the concept in play, and with short bursts of fights coming from anywhere they didn’t expect it left all of the attackers twitchy and disorganised. Perfect pickings for someone with midrange and long range capabilities. Someone much like...

The sound of sniper fire being laid down all around Wraith was a comforting thing where on top of the Artillery wall she could see the vague outline of you, Triple Take in hand and sniper shelter deployed. The splatter of blood as another was taken down shouldn’t of been so reassuring as it was, a head sundered across the floor which the void jumper had not seen coming, too distracted by the assistance of someone who was actually friendly in this fight.

“Sorry for the wait voidbug! Got your back now though- one of them got me pretty bad.” (Y/n) voices over the comms, a pleasant crackle in Wraith’s ears as she resumed the fight. Only 7 were left now at last count and they were making themselves easy prey with overly aggressive pushes into territory they hadn’t spent years of their lives fighting on. Grounds they hadn’t died on over and over to the point where you forgot which match led to what end.

“As long as you’re still with me, it’s better now than never,” Wraith replies with a grim smile to herself, working in tandem with her eye in the sky. Wherever she warped to, the accompaniment of cover fire followed until they were all but gone. The last kill going to Wraith and her heirloom knife, slitting the throat of the last enemy who collapsed to the floor with a gurgling rasp. She could only grimace at the mess, wiping it idly on a piece of stone as she passed.

“First the relay tower- now this. Wattson’s gonna be pissed. Where is Wattson by the way? I haven’t seen her,” (Y/n) voices with a nervous tone as they switch to observing the area beyond the artillery, swearing at the smoke rising up from multiple locations. Fliers were everywhere in swarms, circling and swooping down after something in particular and by the look of it the giant Leviathans were on the move again to boot. Rosie in particular was making progress across the expanse of the recovering forest lands towards swamp.

“Not sure- but i’m going to find out. Keep watch for me, i’m going in to where she last was,” Wraith replies, the undercurrent of dread biting at the back of her neck and forming a heavy knot of worry in her stomach. What she had found was enough to audibly cause the spectre to gasp, rushing to the side of Natalie who was barely conscious and a bloody mess. She shouted for (Y/n) to help, only to discover that even together lifting the rubble from their teammate was near impossible.

(Y/n) made the call to find others who could possibly assist- Gibraltar in particular if they were still alive and not already evacuated while Wraith stayed behind and waited for possible evacuation and to protect the steadily fading life of Wattson.

Every second that passed was far too many, not liking the direction this dimension was heading. The voices whispered too loudly, urging Wraith to go find help like (Y/n) but the temptation to stay was too great. Fingernails raked through dark hair in frustration, biting at her lips until the bitter taste of iron found Wraith’s tongue.

“Thank you,” Natalie gets out from her position, tears still beading her eyes but somehow through all of the horror that surrounded the two, she was smiling.

“For what? I can’t do anything right now, you’re still trapped and we have no real idea what’s going on,” Wraith states in confusion, a genuine frown knitting her brows together.

Wattson only continues to smile, a soft cough bringing spittle and blood to her lips staining them red.

Her face twists into a grimace once again before it settles back into the soft look directed at Wraith, the only hand that escaped being crushed reaching out and capturing the void walker’s in a gentle squeeze. It was so weak and fragile it brought fresh tears to Wraith’s eyes, never one to cry in front of just about anybody. Not even when the voices were so loud for hours on end that it seemed easier to knock herself out than endure the endless mental assault.

“For trying. Being here for me- when I get out of here... I owe you both a great deal,” Natalie confesses, a sigh escaping her lungs as her eyes fluttered closed for just a moment. It was long enough to startle the shorter woman, surging to Wattson’s side in an instant.

“Keep your eyes open, I need you to stay conscious ok?” Wraith demands, hands coming to press down where the metal was still embedded. Anything to help stop or slow the flow of such precious life force. “No more talking unless it’s to a medic- you need all your energy.”

The electrician could only nod carefully, wincing from the movement but otherwise complying. For 15 more minutes the two waited silently and patiently until the telltale crackle of a teammate coming back into range with the squad communication lines, the rushed and exhausted voice of (Y/n) bringing the first piece of hope Wraith had felt all day. “Hey in there! The cavalry has arrived and then some!!!” They shout across the comms, the sound of footsteps loud around them. Whoever they had found, it seemed they were just as eager to help in this dire situation. “What’s the situation? Wattson still alive?”

Wraith breathes a sigh of relief, leaning down so even Natalie could hear the link- hers broken in the destruction that had befallen her unwittingly. “Yeah. Yeah she’s alive... Though losing too much blood and in need of urgent medical care- who’d you find?”

The sound of a small crowd pouring into the Artillery front gates answers the skirmisher’s question before her teammate can. Shouts of Lifeline and Gibraltar rise up above the fray, urging themselves to the front of the group as the sniper guided them to the scene of the attack and now where Wattson lay crushed. Wraith moved to take a step back, making way for the professionals but was stopped in her tracks but the person in question still gripping onto her hand so weakly.

“...Stay with me?” She whispered, Lifeline already getting to work while Gibraltar directed the rest of his and another squad around to assist in lifting the rubble. It was so quiet it caused Wraith’s heart to clench painfully, kneeling by Lifeline’s side and holding on to Wattson’s hand, never letting go.

"...Ok. Just hold on, I got you- we all have," she breathes, sighing in relief that her squadmate had been so successful. Bloodhound was keeping watch by the door, ensuring no others with more malicious intent had followed the to the location.

Never had Wraith been so grateful in her life to see a piece of rock lifted from the ground and heaved to a different location.

Chapter Text

(Y/n) considered themselves lucky, watching on as Caustic dominated yet another squad with their gas, falling to their knees and choking on the deadly miasma even you stayed clear from- and you were a poisons expert. The scientist himself was methodical, patient and horridly calculating the longer you stayed around the man. Watching him work made you ever thankful that the noxious trapper was on your team… And not the other side. His skill was admirable and the two of you got along well both in and out of the ring, but sometimes you wondered if you too were just another variable in his research with how easy it would be to ‘accidentally’ get caught in his gas and suffer the same fate your enemies.

Caustic lurked in quiet zones, laying traps for the unsuspecting and taking great pride in his work as each was placed perfectly just out of view. The Bunker was his favourite location, but anywhere that consisted of rooms or narrow metal hallways funnelling poor fools into scientist’s playground was fair game. The morbid fascination the man displayed as the current group lay writhing on the ground clutching at their throats and trying to claw at their faces in some attempt to stop the blistering pain was nigh bloodcurdling. Every symptom of their chemically induced agony was noted ferociously, disappointment lingering palpably when the ‘subjects’ finally expired. While you enjoyed your kills; it never quite got to this extent. You only stopped yourself from finishing the poor bastards because of a pre-match agreement you and Caustic always shared. Those who ran into Caustic’s gas were his to observe, the rest was unimportant as long as he was protected during the victims final moments.

In ways you were similar, both testing your chemicals and toxins in the Apex Games, but in others you were so very different. Caustic savoured death, while (Y/n) was keen to accelerate it as fast as possible.

“Another squad deceased… One step closer towards victory,” the man in question rasps, keen eyes darting to the nearest exits of the Bunker now that his moment of observation was over. (Y/n) flanks around them, moving towards the death boxes now left behind after the trails of deathly mist had disintegrated over time. Even still, they remain wary of any lingering gas, recovering better armour in the process. If he minds about you taking first look at the 3 boxes, he doesn’t speak up, instead joining you while the third on the squad continued to remain observant outside of the Bunker to the West. There were still 10 squads left, and (Y/n) wasn’t quite keen on facing another group so soon. This one had come perilously close to triggering the gas traps right next to you, dancing out of the way just in time for Caustic to enter the fray and end what you had begun.

Wordlessly you offered out shield batteries to the trapper, gesturing for him to take it before standing and gearing up to move out. The action was regarded coolly, never one for excessive dialogue in or out of the ring before they were accepted and Caustic followed suit. Sooner than later another squad would come, and the entire unit needed to be ready. Hiding in the Bunker forever would only hinder (Y/n)’s chances, and they weren’t overly fond of that idea. Wins had been sparse lately and the entire team was hungry for some victory.

Checking the mini-map, you set a ping for Containment further North than the squad’s current location, hardly waiting to see if the teammates agreed before you were already dashing out of the doors and on your way towards the distant sound of gunfire. This match had been far too quiet, despite the grisly murders you and Caustic had already partook in. Judging by the sound of heavy footfalls behind you, (Y/n)’s fellow partner was in keen agreement.

The match headed south incredibly quickly. A team on the hill just North of the Bunker were sniping at the squad, forcing everyone to swerve and zigzag in unpredictable directions to avoid having your heads deleted from existence. (Y/n) heralded the charge, bursts of rapid fire bullets forcing the attackers to duck behind cover lest they have their own shields depleted but more than once the enemies had managed to clip their shield.

With the assistance of arc stars and grenades your squad pushed up the hill successfully only to be greeted with direct assaults from another squad who had been sneaking up the opposite side, taking advantage of the distraction. You had no choice but to dart inside, Caustic throwing down traps as he went in an effort to discourage any who followed. It was only a brief reprieve, teeth gritted as shield cells were used and thrown to the ground, the metal shells becoming useless once their purpose was dispensed.

“Two above, one outside fighting the other three,” (Y/n) had time to shout before running up to push the individuals still holding the second story above. It was pure chaos, the sounds of gunfire coming from all sides and not having a clear shot on anybody made matters worse. Where the third teammate was at this point was unknown, lost in the cacophony of noise that followed the combat. You made the choice to scale the stairs despite the obvious ambush, knowing full well it was a terrible idea but at this moment there were no better options. The blast of Peacekeepers outside sounded far less appealing than the potential death-trap that lurked upstairs.

Sprinting up the flight of metal, your shields were quickly depleted the moment you came into view but despite this (Y/n) soldiered on, R-99 snapped to the direction of the movement and a full clip emptied into walls and people alike. It was not a weapon known used for accuracy, only how fast it could empty damage into people and intimidate those who fought against it. It would of worked to, if there was only one upstairs. You found yourself unable to dodge in the small space of the room already cramped by the enemy team. (Y/n) hits the ground before they do, crawling on hands and knees blood dripping from where bullets had finally pierced through holographic armour. You expected the end to come soon after, the muzzle of a barrel pointed at your forehead that not even a knockdown shield could stop when the sound of something metallic clanged on the ground nearby.

Then the sound of beeping, horridly familiar and all too slowly you tried to crawl away only to be caught in the green noxious gas you had been keeping away from the entire match previous. It fills your lungs and in seconds you are suffocating, choking on the thick blanket of toxic fog and hacking up blood that previously only dotted (Y/n)’s lips. A cruel low chuckle makes its way to your ears through all of the blinding pain, the wet thuds of bodies collapsing almost covering the sound.

What happened next was unclear.

The only things that stood out was the pain that increased with every breath, and the vague shape of Caustic approaching, the figure of the scientist emerging from his gas now looming over what death and misery he had wrought. Even in the vague blurry detail (Y/n)’s eyes could make out, he was eagerly note taking and coated in red, observing every second of pain from the teams he had exterminated—

Until his gaze fell to you. Downed, vulnerable.

Dying.

What could have been a gurgle for help or a mercy killing rose from your throat- you weren’t quite sure, but it broke the man from his fascinated daze. The last thing you clearly remember is Caustic reaching for your form…

Then abrupt awareness, awaking on the roof with the fire fight now over. A needle was in (Y/n)’s neck, fresh air reaching battered and nearly collapsed lungs. It took you a full 5 seconds to realise this wasn’t an adrenaline needle. Those jolted life back into you, causing a full body shudder as emergency nanites rebuilt your body from the cellular level. No, this was something slower, soothing almost.

Eyes open to meet the same looming figure as before, his hold stalwart on your significantly smaller body to ensure you wouldn’t move.

“You are fortunate we are on the same team,” Caustic points out almost pleasantly, despite the chilling implication. “You are also fortunate you hold greater worth than the other,” the scientist continues, the meaning slipping your hazy mind, still slowed from the previous encounter. A quiet cough fills the brief silence. “He is not so important to the future victory.”

Slowly, things slip into place.

This wasn’t a stim. This was an anti-venom, something you were very familiar with after testing similar things on yourself over your long history with poisons. The warm sensation of healing slipped into your very bones, along with the jarring realisation that you were worth curing to Caustic. Prior to this very moment, you weren’t even sure if the man had anti-venom to his gas after hearing of its origins based on a spider from his home world. The second realisation came when you were finally released from his iron grip, needle leaving (Y/n)’s neck with a wince. The third teammate was nothing but a banner waiting to be delivered to a respawn beacon, the entire span of the building you had all been fighting in covered in death boxes.

“Heal up. We move out in 5 minutes,” Caustic warns sternly, this time moving in to take the first dibs on loot himself. You can only nod silently as you fumble for a med-kit, quietly aghast at just what your partnership had become between the scientist and yourself, and what had been implied.

Quietly, you thanked whatever gods were watching that you at least meant enough to the man to know you wouldn’t be another anecdote in Caustic’s research.

Yet.

Chapter Text

“Stimmed up and ready to burn- damn it feels good,” (R/n) hears across the battlefield, Octane running at inhuman speeds through the Hydro Dam and down towards the Swamps to the west to catch up to the squad. Anyone else (R/n) would have concerns letting them lag so far behind but the runner had proven himself time and time again with how capable he was. They only had to check the map to see his blip rapidly zooming towards their location at breakneck speeds and an enthusiasm so few could match.

(R/n) was mid way through looting one of the shacks found in the Swamp itself when they could already feel his presence prickling down their spine as he appears behind them without making a single noise. An arm wraps around their waist from behind and for a second (R/n) fumbles for their weapon, panicking that they’d let their guard down too much until the familiar warm chuckle relaxes the death drip they had moments before. Octane was deceptively strong for having a runner’s body, built for lightweight and fast movements with plenty of stamina to spare, not grappling and winning close combat.

“An Alternator? Nice choice- a fast one like me.” He teases, grinning through his mask and for the first time in the match it registers he’s wearing his more regal themed skin. Red horns, oriental armour- every bit the devil he was. (R/n) just slaps his arm and they are released with a laugh, Octane’s posture full of cocky self assurance and flirty confidence.

“You are insatiable. Get your mind in the game.” They scold, scowling before reloading to ensure a full clip for the next battle. How he moved so quietly they’d never know. Relenting for now, the runner waves a hand and readies the weapon from his holster, a Havoc gleaming with his own custom skin painted over the top. The devil’s R-99 gleams from its holster at his side, ready for action at a moment’s notice. “I’m heading up towards Wetlands once the next circle starts the countdown so get ready. It looks to be a Relay game.” You murmur a touch quieter, snapping back into combat mode which encourages Octane to follow suit. Not seeing him in his usual neon green attire was strange- but you supposed he must get a kick out of parading what he really was in plain sight and nobody the wiser.

He nods in response, quieting his own movements just enough to listen for foreign noises not from your teammate now far towards the northern side of the Swamp. The sound of crickets, frogs croaking and local fauna fill the air, along with the sounds of distant gunshots in the thick heat of the day. The humidity is nigh unbearable but the loot in this place made it far too good an opportunity to pass up when so few ever came here due to the difficult terrain and it being on the extreme outskirts of the map. When the two were certain nothing was nearby, (r/n) stands from their crouched position nearby a window and starts moving towards the door.

“Let’s go- time is wasting and the ring isn’t far now.”

---

Not two steps outside of the hut a group of snipers opened fire from the top of the Hydro Dam.

You happened to be lucky and have ziplines leading from the building but the shots raining down from the vantage point the enemy squad had made it hard to do much else other than run for your life. Being the slowest of the two you lagged behind, Octane darting ahead with the same speed he had become known for throughout his time in the games. It also meant once he was out of range you were the prime target if they weren’t already descending down and chasing after your squad.

More than one got lucky and hit an arm or leg, forcing you to run faster and get clever with your cover.

Your shields shattered just as you crested up the hill towards the Wetlands and onwards towards the Relay station, Octane waiting there with his sights scanning the path behind you in case you were still being followed. It’s a wordless exchange of glances and breathless nods, diving behind a stray boulder long enough to patch up your shields to full.

“This is a fun game, huh?” You get out, heart still racing from the adrenaline fuelled dash across the swamp. Octane chuckles, HAVOC trained in for any movements from the Swampland, crouched and itching to move again. You can almost see the disturbance of air where his tail should be, swishing back and forth with a spade like tip to it.

“My kind of fun yes- yours? Eh, not so much,” He cackles, casting his gaze to you now. The speedster tilts his head, strange demon-like mask gleaming in what little light the shadows of this hideaway provided. It was small and compact, but just large enough to hide away in. “Though I did get a great view watching you run through the Swamp-“ Reaching out you slap his arm only causing him to laugh more, motioning a hand in surrender. “But seriously- I didn’t see any of them running. I think they’ve already moved ahead. Mira- see up ahead?” He gestures over to the upcoming wastelands, a finger moving to tap the scope of your sniper rifle. “A squad of three, though best let them run ahead.”

You follow his mark, his hands ghosting over yours as you positioned yourself from the comfort of your hidey hole to guide your gaze and reveal there were indeed a full squad charging through the ruined wastes of the charcoaled forest. It’s oddly intimate, and despite the contact Octane doesn’t say anything. The warmth of his hands barely recognisable with the gloves on but you could feel him so close, breaths steadying as you closed one eye and observed the landscape. Your 8x scope picks out the details; a group of nobodies who had gotten lucky with good gear- one in particular was running around with a Kraber.

One good headshot from that and even purple armour was toast...

“They’re well equipped by the look of it, nobody like Bloodhound though so as long as we’re smart...” You relay the information, trailing off towards the end.

“They don’t stand a chance,” The runner smirks underneath his mask and you don’t even need to see his face to know the smile was there. He was so self assured and confident that honestly it was contagious. How he managed it was a whole other thing but that was filed away to ask another time. Right now you were on the battlefield and your squadmate was still scouting ahead trying to find out if there were any traps up ahead. “It’s about time. Line’s silent so... Shall we?” He asks with a hint of mischief colouring his tone and now you can feel his tail brushing against your lower arm, so subtle it would of been easy to mistake it for a blade of grass in the hideaway you had created.

“We shall,” you find yourself smirking back, standing from the steady crouch and reluctantly away from the demon runner. He wasn’t far behind, watching your back the entire time.

---

“A bit more excitement than I’d like Oct!” you shout over the comm line, snapping the rotor to the zipline and sailing away across the waterfalls below.

“Tsh Yeah! Maybe a bad idea to come here compadre!”

The circle had indeed ended on the Relay and just about every remaining squad was there, gunshots in every direction and the action not looking like it would stop any time soon. The dash to the Relay had been extremely perilous, a squad already comfortably camped out in the small settlement and tower while two other teams happened to arrive the same time as you. Somewhere amidst the mass of bullets firing and shouted warnings you, your squadmate and Octane had managed to use the speedster’s jumppad to sail clear across to the western side of the Relay and the compound it held. All of you desperately needed a moment to charge shields or heal, running from the moment you landed to slide behind any semblance of cover before the madness picked up where it had left off. “I’ll provide cover fire! Heal up before I change my mind!”

You run from cover before they can protest, Alternator pulled from its holster and brandished proudly as your favourite weapon should. Fast but steady, it had gotten you killleader multiple times before and had always served you faithfully, earning its rightful place on your ideal load out during a match.

It didn’t take long for other squads to follow the path Octane had blazed for your team, landing and running in the direction of your currently recovering squad. Taking aim, you draw attention with a volley of thermite, bursts of bullets causing them to scatter and search for the assailant. Locking eyes with you, you slide to dodge out the way from the incoming fire when you hear the signature whoop of pure untamed excitement as Octane dives right back into the action. His R-99 makes short work of the one nearest still focused in on taking you down and with the other teammate providing heavier support with his assault rifle two are knocked down in seconds. “Hell yeah! I’m the new killleader!” He proclaims with a valiant heft of his weapon as the third runs, sprinting away and out of the compound on the western side of the Relay station towards the tower- only to be gunned down by a third party not involved in the previous fire fight. You’d taken only a few steps after the nobody but it was enough to see just who did it. Gibraltar.

Wherever Gibraltar was...

“OCT THE CHAMPIONS ARE HERE-“ you manage to get out before they’re already upon you and you have no choice but to run the opposite direction, needing distance between yourself and the full roster of Champions. Gibraltar meant Bloodhound was never far behind, and despite being confident in your abilities in the ring Bloodhound was on a whole other level to just about everybody. To fight them without a well formulated plan was to invite death to your front door and right now this entire match was chaos theory in action. You needed time you didn’t have, especially not with the previous champions now chasing you all.

The sound of your squadmate falling has you running faster, unable to do much more than blind fire backwards and hurry towards the opposite side until---

You don’t remember anything else.

The vague shadow of something appearing maybe and the beginnings of a feral roar but you’re eliminated faster than you can comprehend, sent straight into banner state and for a long time you’re left floating in the blackness of death. The time stretched onwards for what feels like forever, though nobody can really tell if it’s just a second or hours when killed in the games until you feel jolted back down, and you’re sucking in a breath with lungs that previously had been lifeless.

---

The familiar ache of muscles stitching themselves back together sent pain lacing down your spine. A soft groan escapes your lips and with a quiet swear that sounds far too accented to be a medic Octane is already by your side which is unusual even for him.

When your eyes flutter open, his masked visage fills your vision, blurry but gradually focusing and the high pitched whine still ringing in your ears fades when his hand cups your face ever so gently. Warmth lingers from the contact of what you realise is his now un-gloved hands and the usually unbearable symptoms of resurrection seemed to trickle away, abated by the heartbreakingly gentle touch of the usually energetic and boisterous runner. Energy pulsates and very quickly, you find strength returning as very carefully you sit up. It’s... Strange. You’d never felt this before and before you can think on it too long he’s already talking, glancing around the room to ensure nobody is watching.

“Hey,” he greets you softly, encouraging you to lean on him as he shifts his weight to better support you. “Welcome back to the living, amor. Ready to kick some ass still?” You frown slowly, thoughts cloudy but the longer you feel the warmth echoing through your body the more things become clearer until...

It’s that moment where it hits you all at once. You were killed by Bloodhound who had cut off the group, Gibraltar acting as a force to push you towards the hunter... Octane had been behind you and seen you go down-

You were still in the arena.

You jolt forwards out of Octane’s grasp and scrambling for a weapon, glancing around frantically. The demon who had been there when you awoke however only cast glances to the windows, checking the mini map for the next ring. Your entire inventory was still on you, weapons next to where you were on the floor and with panicked reloads, you take the second to calm down and assess the situation.

“W-What happened? How am I back?” You start, training kicking in and systematically rejoining your last remaining squadmember. You were on the western side of the Relay still, in one of the smaller buildings just outside the relay in the upstairs rooms. The ring had shrunk since you last were awake and now there was barely enough space to cover both sides. Thankfully, the tower itself had long since been consumed by the plasma walls of the ring leaving no vantage point for snipers. All was eerily quiet. “I remember dying... There aren’t any respawn beacons here either.” You bite your lip, risking a glance towards your partner. “Octane?”

“Tell you everything later; the important part is you’re back, and they’re still alive across the waterfall in that house,” he points out with a ping, the red diamond marking the enemy location. “They are also down one at least though I can’t take credit for that,” Octane sounds bitter about that, but you don’t intend to discuss reasoning now. You weren’t keen on the idea of dying again.

“We have ring advantage but not for long- any plans?” You ask quietly in the silence of the hut. Octane half shrugs half nods.

“Well... I wouldn’t call it a plan...” He wiggles arc stars at you, stims ready in his other hand.

You balk, not believing the runner’s stupidity at times as it certainly wasn’t the first time he had suggested such a plan. “You’re gonna chaos theory this NOW?” You whisper harshly, shaking your head and reaching out to touch his shoulder. “This is a terrible idea in regular situations but against the champion squad with Bloodhound on it? I get you aren’t exactly...” You trail off, sighing but you can tell Octane has already made up his mind. Once he gets an idea he wanted to run with (sometimes literally) there was absolutely no stopping him short of Wattson and Lifeline collectively scolding him and holding him back. Impulse control was non-existent with this one.

“I told you it wasn’t a plan!” He jokes back, but you can tell there’s an underlying excitement and feral anticipation in the rapidly upcoming battle. Octane was unpredictable even to you and even with your now mysteriously fully recovered energy and resurrection (?), you found yourself lagging behind in your mental processing of his ‘idea’.

“Well you’re right. It’s more like a suicide plot. How are you even getting over there?”

You can only sigh when you spot the jumppad just outside the door he turns to point out, hidden from view of others by a conveniently placed fence. “You’re a fucking idiot. I love you- but you’re an idiot and this is terrible.”

“Si- but i’m your idiot. Now get ready and throw these on me, the circle’s about to close and they’re about to get quite the surprise dropping in from the skies!”

---

It’s hours later by now and the energy you’d gained since waking on the arena floor long since left your system. You were running on empty, but still were being swarmed by questions and enthusiastic congratulations on the miraculous win your team had pulled off. You deflected most, claiming your squad had done most of the work and slathering praise on your lover who basked in it all, demon mask hiding just how much he preened from the positive attention. The new attire had drawn a few questions, but he answered them well and with ease, savouring the spotlight almost as much as mirage.

When the interviews and press time was finally over you could only sag against Octane, the nobody on your squad clearly experiencing his first real victory and all the perks that came with it. It would of been cute if he wasn’t talking too much, thanking you both enthusiastically before finally dashing off to go find the regular team he was usually on no doubt and brag about it. A collective breath of relief was had the moment you had privacy at last, holding up in the armour and weapons lockers, locking the door so nobody could interrupt the first real moment alone. An arm wraps around your waist, the Oni armour gone and instead replaced with something you were a little more familiar with. A simple white vest and grey undershirt, pants and much more casual prosthetics that weren’t caked in mud from the arena. The mask and goggles however, were nowhere to be seen- and nor was his glamour.

Curved and pointed horns on full display, demonic markings decorating his face and arms Octane let his true demonic side peer through the normally human visage he maintained throughout the day and in matches, pointed teeth poking past his lips. Slits pupils take the place of normal pupils along with pointed tips to his ears, long tail swaying lazily from side to side as the runner’s head gently butts against your neck taking in your scent with a slow breath. Comfortable silence fills the air, broken by you after a minute of closeness.

“Today was... Pretty insane huh?” You begin slowly, leaning into the demon’s side. Octane only hums in agreement, a low rumbling purr starting in his chest was you traced the markings on his left arm. “You gonna explain how I was brought back without a beacon?”
A low rolling laugh tickles the skin against your neck, the brush of sharp teeth grazing the skin there.

“A death ward I placed on you. You think I was messing around at the start of the match?” He murmurs smugly, tail wrapping around the lower part of your leg and the familiar sensation of warmth fills you again, restoring your energy. You realise now that was his abilities at work- the insane stamina and regeneration he had being transferred and applied to you. The other realisation was he didn’t just grab you at the beginning of the match to flirt- he was literally taking precautions for the future in case you died- which you did.

“...You snuck up on me in the Swamp,” you recall slowly. “You grabbed my waist- and again when we got out of there towards the wetlands... You were healing me?” He grins and nods, all teeth and sharp angles and for a moment you feel your heart stutter, blown away by his forethought and dedication to keeping you safe. “Was that you I heard when I dropped? I don’t remember much other than getting blasted with a shotgun and a loud roar.”

He nods again, but this time leans down to steal a kiss. It’s somewhat possessive, as if seeking reassurance you were still alive and real in his grasp. You were only too eager to return it, humming pleasantly and melting into the demon’s touch. “It was- but i’ll tell you more another time. We won! And since we won... We’re celebrating tonight as champions should.” You squint at him suspiciously, to which he gazes back innocently.

“I swear if you make a joke about me being your dessert again, i’m going to chop your tail off.”

“...How about the main course then?”

Chapter Text

The most recent season of the Apex Games had come to an end, and with it brought a great celebration from both staff and fans alike. The end of the season meant the Apex spotlights and recap- a large party similar to film awards, where the best and most successful of this particular set of 3 months were celebrated and hailed as true champions. It came with all the trimmings, red carpet, interviews, paparazzi, and more often than not plenty of alcohol. Famous bands and performers from the Frontier were invited to perform to pad views on the transmission of the awards, lifting spirits and brightening the atmosphere as many enjoyed the night.

This particular season was (y/n)’s second, though due to injury had previously been unable to attend the celebration itself. This time around they were eager to witness the opulence first hand, still bitter they missed the awards the last time they had come to pass. What they weren’t aware of was the time and thought put into outfits for the awards, everyone showing up in formal attire despite the bloodsport the games originated from. You’d tried your best with the help of Wraith and Anita playing ‘wingman’, managing to find something that actually worked despite your inexperience with dressing so finely. It had been a merry game of ‘find the outfit’ though, traversing across every worthwhile store and spending the time catching up now that the season was over.

It was only 3 weeks off- but 3 weeks was a long time when you played in a bloodsport.

Arriving on the red carpet itself to be assaulted with camera flashes and dazzling lights was a completely new experience. Fans cheered and screamed from beyond the barricade, clamouring for attention while cameras recorded every second. So this was what it was like to be famous?

You find yourself frozen in the moment, unsure what to do without the cool collected friends you normally stuck around with until-

“Hey there, wasn’t expecting you to steal my spotlight tonight but as long as it’s just you... I’m alright with sharing it,” Mirage appears beside you all charm and perfect smiles, and arm already around your waist and waving enthusiastically to all of the fans and cameras now absolutely bolted to the both of you. If they had been excited to see a lesser legend (or so it felt) like yourself, they went manic for a true veteran like Elliott. Still unsure what to do you follow his lead, waving to people as you pass and finding the attention somewhat overwhelming. Almost like he knew, Mirage leant close to whisper something.

“First time walking the carpet?”

You nod accordingly, your steps guided, the reassuring arm around your waist giving you an anchoring point. “...Yeah. I was expecting a show but not quite... This.”

”I was spooked by it too once. Just copy me and it’ll be over pretty quick- Name’s Mirage by the way... I-In case you didn’t know,” he gets out, sounding perfectly confident until the very end of his sentence. It’s an odd contrast catching you off guard but the sureness of his stride never falters, leading the way in the eyes of the cameras currently live-streaming the entire event. You can see the others now, people you’ve fought with or against posing for photographs and signing things for fans. Lifeline was the most noticeable, eagerly chatting to people at the barricade and signing whatever was held her direction while Octane was recording the whole thing himself, not that much in formal wear like the rest but to be honest? That was expected of the daredevil. Despite the overwhelming nature of this entire event seeing friends brought a growing smile to your face, which didn’t go unnoticed by your social saviour.

“There it is! See now you’re gettin’ it! Just gotta focus on what matters, which for me? Well, being this handsome, obviously.” Elliott continues to banter, a sly wink directed down at (Y/n) before he went straight back to posing for the fans. If anyone was made for the cameras, it was Mirage. Perhaps not the best dressed but classy and definitely good looking in his own right, his natural showmanship had everyone noticing when he made an appearance off the battlefield or on it. It also helped that he was a pretty good guy despite his occasional bout of snarky comments.

The entire walk down the carpet and inside to where the tables and seating was set before the stage, Mirage ensured you weren’t bothered by the lights and noise. Checking every so often, making jokes and deflecting attention from you when it all became too much. (Y/n) was endlessly thankful for it all, making a note to find him later when the awards ceremony was finally over. Perhaps it was a good thing you missed the event and ceremony last time around?

This much attention was far far too overwhelming to handle alone.

---

The moment everyone was seated, the performances began and the general public was let in to the stands a fair distance from any of the legends seated up close to the stage. Mirage was nowhere to be seen now but you took a small comfort in knowing that both Octane and Pathfinder were your row buddies for the night, giving you equally enthusiastic thumbs up as you smiled at them under the pulsing neon lights of the performance still going on.

The show passed by shockingly quick once the nervousness that had struck (Y/n) earlier fled the scene, leaving only excitement and anticipation. The bands and singers were really impressive, rounds of applause before finally, the actual award ceremony began. Watching Octane nearly bounce out of his chair in boredom was entertainment in of itself, half paying attention to what was being said and half laughing as the daredevil found different ways to amuse himself. It was mostly answering questions in the livestream chat he had going, giving an exclusive ‘legend’s point of view’ from the group around him. At this point, everyone didn’t ask questions and was very very used to his shenanigans.

All kinds of awards were given out- fan favourite squad, longest distance kill across the season, most memorable moment, highest kill count. Some earned multiple, others earned one including Octane, who was excited just to get out of his chair. All was fair in the eyes of the arena, but your attention finally snapped from watching Octane answer if he had seen Caustic’s face before without the mask to the stage when a familiar figure from the red carpet paraded on stage in the most over the top fashion you had ever seen.

Mirage jaunted up to the podium, accepting an award for... Something- what it was for you weren’t sure, but his genuine grin and enthusiasm was outright adorable. You found yourself smiling along with him, watching him take a moment to stare at the small statue in his hands before thanking his fans, and waving hi to his mother. Whether that was another joke, (Y/n) wasn’t quite sure but the cheering from the stands deafened over whatever else he actually said into the mic. The entire ceremony felt like it was over far too soon, the event coming to a close as the public filtered out, a few stray individuals lingering for a few extra minutes to try and strain to catch pictures before they too were ushered out.

While most of the legends were planning on going to after parties and the big dinner afterwards- you’d decided you’d had your fair share of the limelight tonight. No awards in the repertoire just yet but that was to be expected. You were still new, and in the eyes of the fans still lacking slightly before you’d truly make it to the big leagues.

(Y/n)’s exit nearly went unnoticed too, if it wasn’t for Mirage actively looking for you in the flock of legends being guided towards the booked out restaurant and bar courtesy of the games themselves.

He caught them steps away from the fire exit, tired sigh still lingering on their lips.

“Not a spotlight kinda person then? That’s cool, we can’t all be.” Elliot pipes up with a self satisfied smile when you whip around to see him standing there, the short hallway to the fire exit now completely empty of anybody else. For the first time that entire evening, it was quiet. Your hand slowly reaches for the door, still on the way out.

“Oh! Uh- You could say that. I missed everything last time but now I almost regret coming... Everything’s so...” Your hands gesture around you, to the outfit you’re wearing and the direction of the stage you had all just left. He chuckles, crossing his arms as he leant against the wall using just his shoulder.

“Extra?”

“Yes! Extra. It took me by surprise. Oh uh- I forgot to say. Thank you for earlier... For everything honestly. You didn’t have to do that, and you saved me from looking like an idiot on the holonet so, I probably owe you at least coffee. Or dinner, whatever works.” (Y/n) finds themselves rambling a bit but the smile on Mirage’s face never quite fades. It lingers, eyes glinting with genuine mirth. The door is finally opened, and stepping outside the air is blissfully cold, not realising just how suffocating the concert hall and stage area had been in terms of body temperature. Breathing in near frigid air is a small blessing, another sigh of relief released as Mirage follows along and joins you.

A moment of quiet follows, the door shutting on its own as the two of you take in the neon sights of the Apex City, glowing in excess all around you. The distant sounds of hovercrafts flying in the distance and vehicles shuttling past on roads provides an ambience, towering skylines in every direction pulsing with decorative screens and lights. Somewhere, the faint traces of music could be heard drifting through the air, upbeat and playful. Mirage turns to you with another smile.

“Sooooo... Got any plans now? I uh- I guessed you weren’t heading to that dinner and wanted to ask if you were free tonight. Maybe catch a movie or something, I don’t know,” he shrugs, though for the first time you catch a hint of nervousness making it through his cleverly crafted veneer. The way his voice warbles, the shrug of his shoulders while still dashing in his suit, give the suggestion of bashfulness. It’s... Sweet. Charming even, in his own way.

The dashing performer did have a vulnerable side after all.

You take the moment to smile back, reaching the corners of your eyes as you come to loop your arm around his. “Well... I wouldn’t say a plan, but when have those ever been useful? I was just going to go home honestly. Probably enjoy some time off but how can I say no to my hero of the hour?” The playful tease has him balking slightly, almost as though in disbelief of his luck. Another crack in the facade he maintained- right as it began to rain.

“On second thought, home sounds great. Let’s go yours, yeah? Yeah.” Elliott stammers out, scowling at the sudden bad weather and you can only laugh, your pace turning into a jog as you both skittered into the night and towards the nearest taxi stand. Clamouring in together you found yourselves laughing, clothes damp and hair frizzy now but pulling up to the compound and your apartment in particular was well worth the sudden change in plans.

You supposed you could give him bonus points when he so graciously used his suit jacket to cover you from the now full downpour that beat vigorously down as you unlocked the door. You could also give him bonus points from how much of a dork he looked running to find a towel the moment you were both inside.

Chapter Text

The scent of iron was thick in the air and heavy on your tongue, dizzying with its intensity. It was only made worse by the already existing light-headedness that persisted right after being launched down the stairs, kicked in the abdomen with considerable force and in a cacophony of noise landed against the sterile metal plating of the Containment zone. You were too stunned to move, the force knocked out of you along with any air in your lungs but you could still hear the approach of overly confident footsteps slowly making their way towards you. The annoying whine of a peacekeeper charging up with its choke attachment filled the air and with it your heart drops into the pit of your stomach, a great effort made heaving onto your side to at least witness your end at last. Even with a golden revive shield, there is no point when your doom is staring you right in the face.

The cold metal of the barrel muzzle touches your forehead, sending an infinitely colder chill down your spine when the assailant’s eyes connect with yours, a maddening gleam of bloodlust rolling through their pinprick sized pupils. Satisfaction hangs heavy in their tone when they finally do speak up, wanting to savour this victory in earnest.

“Nowhere to hide this time,” the pride turns immediately to vitriol, the barrel pressed harder to your skull. “No one left... Just you and I.” His final word is drawn out, spoken through clenched teeth, leaning down to nearly your height on the ground to get the point across with just how outrageously furious you’d made this individual.

The metallic taste in your mouth forms your final act of disrespect, deciding to at least go out with defiance than miserable compliance to your killer as you spit in his face. It’s unexpected, causing him to recoil in shock before snarling at the red spittle now covering his face. It only assured this would be more painful now... But seeing that expression sour? Worth the imminent execution via shotgun to the brain point blank.

The man rears up, finger gliding towards the trigger but a bullet never fires from his barrel.

A shot fires out from 200 metres away and flinching from the sound alone you expect that to be the last you hear from this match, eyes screwed shut and waiting for the follow up but instead all you hear is the sound of a disintegrated shield and the slow collapse of your would-be assailant sinking to the floor from standing to kneeling.

You can hear the horrid rasping as the man’s lungs begin to collapse, once so full of life now a hairs breadth from coming unwound from his mortal coil. Hate was replaced with fear, skirting backwards on hands and knees with another gold knockdown shield guarding him from harm. ‘Of course he would have one,’ (Y/n) muses with a bitter look, mind growing evermore fuzzy from the trauma. You could see the bloodtrail as he crawled, desperately trying to reach for cover in the jumbled sprawl of buildings around them. Only, he wouldn’t get far.

More footsteps, these much more methodical in the approach. Heavier set, and far more familiar. You knew exactly who it was without looking, and decided to take your chances. If you were to die, you’d do it to someone of your own skill level. Activating the emergency failsafe on the shield, nanites flooded your bloodstream, giving you the temporary boost needed to halt the blood flow of your own wounds and reach for the stim every legend carried on your person. You knew it was pointless getting to cover with him here; you were both so hopelessly out in the open.

There was no boastful comment as much as a closing statement to a funeral as Caustic drew nearer, no blind overconfidence in their composure- only the slow gait of a predator that had so neatly secured its kill and was taking the time to observe before finishing the job completely.

“There is a process to everything, and also a conclusion...” The chemical scientist murmurs almost pleasantly with his guns holstered, fists balled and looming impossibly tall over the now cowering figure on the floor. You can only watch as he rears back, fist impacting with the man’s skull twice in quick succession. The sound of splintering bone and cranium can only be described as sickening with the wet crunch accompanying the second hit, the last blow delivered with such force that it snapped the victim’s neck and sent them heaping to the floor in a wet pile of flesh that only somewhat resembled a face anymore. Blood seeped from the caved in head, lingering for far too long until the body vanished in place of a deathbox. “...This is yours.” Caustic looked only somewhat disappointed with the encounter as the chime signalling the whole squad dealt with fills the air surrounding, slick crimson coating their hands.

The subtle sound of your revive completing has his gaze snapping up from his latest kill to your location not 10 ft away, needle in your chest and healed just enough to stagger to your feet. The rush to get your weapon first was perhaps the second most adrenaline inducing thing to happen all day, beaten only by the match long chase you’d had with the previous fellow since landing. He’d off’d your squad, but not you.

Caustic was a second too slow, your Wingman pulled from its holster and fired. The first shot veered wide but the second struck deep in the chemical trapper’s shoulder earning a furious grunt but with no shields and no health to speak of, the return volley had you right back down on the floor in seconds. There was no winning this, only one last Hail Mary before The End arrived for you. You must of struck true for the one attack that landed because you can see a thin trickle of blood beginning to form against bright yellow lab attire, his walk no longer a stride but more of a stagger. A morbid sense of déjà vu fills your mind as you gaze up at the mountain of a man, grim smile on your face and accepting that there was no escape now. Caustic must of picked up on it as he kneels in front of you, taking the Wingman from where it had clattered onto the ground.

“You made an attempt on my life, brave perhaps.. But ill conceived,” he begins, eyeing the wounds he had inflicted casually as though this entire scenario was normal. Your breaths become ragged, hand clutching at your chest. He’d caught a vital artery, and bleeding out was so much faster this time around. The blood still on his fists is wiped away on his side, gas canisters somewhat smeared with red now. “I mentioned once that it was fortunate you were on the same team as I, but it seems that fortune has run dry.”

“A shame. Perhaps if I wasn't one of the variables your outcome would've been different,” Caustic looks you in the eyes, any real hint of regret not there, only indifference as the gun barrel once again is placed against your forehead, a low tired sigh whistling from your lips.

“This match is mine.”

You aren’t sure what happened first. The gunshot, or you dying to blood loss. You aren’t sure if you want to find out which afterwards when you come to on a medical gurney, IVs feeding essential fluids directly into your veins. The other part of you is just relieved you didn’t die to the asshole chasing you the entire match, even as your teammates find you later and apologise for dying so early. You decide to skip lab work that night, opting instead to recover at home. Working with the man was entirely different to bearing witness to him fighting against you, and you’d accidentally been caught in his gas before. You wondered absently just how this past match would affect the working partnership you shared moving forwards knowing he had been the one to cause your end.

Chapter Text

Everything didn’t quite seem to make sense today no matter how hard you tried to focus, words readable on their own but long sentences became incoherent. Pulling a late night shift at the communal lab might of had something to do with it but something in general was making you feel tired, fatigued. A little slow to respond. Perhaps it was the effects of the last matches end? The symptoms seemed to persist even longer than usual and when brought up to the doctors and physicians responsible for keeping the legends in tip-top shape, the general consensus was it was due to the long term adrenaline and stress your body had endured just to keep fighting for so long. In the match you’d been chased the entire way from the moment you touched down to the final 3.

A 1 v 1 v 1, which was riveting for the fans to watch but deeply exhausting for your body.

In the end Caustic had won, your gold knockdown shield giving him the satisfaction of pointing a gun barrel to your head right before you bled out. He hadn’t needed to pull the trigger in the end- the clips played back the moment that had been circling the Apex Games highlights on the news. You’d seen it one night after going with Mirage for drinks- his way of taking your mind off the whole mess. You’d been grateful at the time but watching the clip as it came on the big screen the bar offered to customers gave you a whole lot more questions than answers. Caustic never hesitated and never lingered on moments unless he was observing death. The entire situation only added to the general caution most legends exercised around the scientist, Mirage patting you on the shoulder sadly.

“You’ll get ‘em next time. Freak like that? Probably already has an even bigger target on his back now,” the trickster sympathised with a low whistle as he watched it back with you. You couldn’t find it in yourself to agree, seeing the moment as something entirely different to everyone else in the room.

That wasn’t suffering- he knew you were going to die one way or the other. He’d given you mercy in his own twisted way. A bullet to the skull was a lot harder to recover from than bleeding out. Bleeding out meant only some lingering fatigue; a bullet to the head was long term migraines and therapy to ensure nothing had been compromised in the regeneration process.

So when you found yourself lapsing in and out of consciousness in your seat at your personal desk you decided to call it quits, the laptop at your fingertips was carefully closed and a low winded sigh escapes your throat. At this time everyone else had more or less left the large lab, the only lights still on in your station. Technically you should still be on bed rest for the lingering fatigue but ever since the match you’d been keen to take your mind off it and work. Caustic himself seemed to have made himself scarce ever since the fight and chosen to conduct his ‘research’ elsewhere. Where that was you weren’t sure, but it was likely a secret. Despite being one of the only people Caustic could tolerate in the Apex Games along with Wattson, he still kept an emotional distance that he was never likely to cross with just about anybody. It was easier to coolly observer than to become emotionally attached and ruin the entire experiment- or so you theorised.

Standing with a quiet groan, aching joints were stretched out and finally- you departed from the laboratory. The night sky and air was decidedly crisp, a few temperature degrees above comfortable and into the too-warm category, but you didn’t mind. It was an excuse to throw on the air conditioning when finally home and nap longer than usual like the doctor had demanded you do from the very beginning. Just as a precaution though... Perhaps Lifeline was able to give you her professional opinion tomorrow?

You departed right as a certain toxic scientist made his way inside- all the while gazing after where you had went, completely unaware to your audience of one.

---

“Ya’ haven’t been sleepin’ right have you?” Lifeline levels you with one of her infamous looks and you know she’s onto your act immediately. You shrug with a tight smile and rub a hand at the back of your neck, trying to hide the yawns that threatened to escape even now. No point trying to fend off the inevitable with this one.

“...No. Not really. That last match I was in, well... You saw what happened. I just can’t seem to get decent sleep, even when i’m absolutely drained of energy,” you inform Ajay quietly. Gaze sunken low, and only now does she realise just how bad you looked. Dark circles, pale complexion a stark comparison to the usually sun kissed hue everyone in the games carried due to the intensity of the sunlight high above. The back of her hand presses gently against your forehead, a scrutinising look covering her face with lips pursed until she spoke up again.

“Seems like the stress of the match got to ya. Ya probably gettin’ sick because of it, and your body is still trying to fight it off,” the combat medic diagnoses with a heavy sigh and pauses to root around in the bag she always carried on her side. A few moments pass then she emerges with a little white box of what looks like tablets. “S’ not much, but it’ll do for now. Sleepin’ pills,” Ajay explains with a finger pointing to the writing on the side. “Two before bed with a big glass o’ water? Ya be out before ya know it,” the precious box is pressed into (y/n)’s hands, a sympathetic look much the same as Mirage had given you a day earlier at the bar. You can only hug the field medic, murmuring thanks and gratitude all the while which you could tell just by the tone of her voice she was smiling.

“Go on now, get back home. Rest up and let me know how it works out, ok?”

Ajay released you with a pat on the back for your troubles, sending you on your way with a cheery ‘bleep bleep!’ from D.O.C as you went. You waved with another tired but hopeful smile and trudged back to the labs, resolving to pick up the laptop you’d left behind before you’d called up Lifeline and dropped by in the middle of some basic maintenance on her happy little drone and shield for the games. Then finally? Some sleep.

You didn’t even care it was the middle of the day anymore. You’d take a messed up sleep schedule over no sleep any day.