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we are womenkind (with the gift of a stronger mind)

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it's been a year. less has changed than you anticipated. The new lab is bigger, cleaner. the team is bigger. curt still shows up to wreak havoc. There's one change, though.
tatiana visits . she sips coffee. she asks about the new tech - not just spy weapons and gadgets, but the big things that curt always found boring. tati listens and she remembers and she smiles at you

a few days after returning from Going Rogue™, curt had come to see you in the new lab. His eyes were eyes red. “Barb,” and hearing your name in his voice, so solemn, sounded like the end of something, “Barb, there's stuff i need to tell you. Owen and I,” he blinks, swallows, breathes deep, “We were in love. I like men.” he looks at you suddenly, nervousness in his eyes. “Tatiana said I should tell you. I trust you with my life, Barb, and I'm sorry - I don't know, I'm sorry. You deserve the best. I'm sorry. If you can still stand the sight of me, I want to be your friend.” he laughs hoarsely. you blink. he reaches, suddenly, squeezes your hand quick, walks away.

it makes sense, and you hate it. curt has never been good at hiding, you were just blind. you're so angry at yourself you could cry . you do cry. curt's your friend now - which, you suppose, is a step up from whatever he was before.

Tatiana brings you pirozhki for lunch once. you learn to make pirozhki. you get to a point where all you eat is pirozhki and tati and curt have to stage an intervention. it's fine.

sometimes you get so lonely you could scream.

it's a thursday in april when something shifts. you've been working on a tiny piece of code all week and it just !! will not!! fucking work!!!!! tatiana found you crying into your coffeepot and gently but firmly forced you to take a walk.
it's nice outside. you have a sandwich, tati's telling you about something her brothers did, and you're almost not thinking about work at all.

Tati pauses. “do you feel better?” god, she's always right. “Yes,” you admit. she reaches, so casually, and hugs you tight. you try not to drop your sandwich. you try not to let your heart beat too fast.

it's been a week since the hug. you fixed your code and finished the program. you and tatiana are at curt’s apartment. the three of you are drinking - not so much that curt gets messy and sad, just enough that tatiana starts telling russian jokes (and trying to explain them, and laughing uproariously even though curt and you don't quite understand).
it's a good level of tipsy. curt makes you pasta, eats a small mountain of it, and wanders off to bed. you and tati and lying on the carpet. you've got an elvis record on and she's frowning like she's trying to figure something out. you nudge your leg against hers. “what?” you ask her. she looks at you , smiles beatifically. “I do not understand elvis.” she's giggling now, she's looking in your eyes and you're laughing too now, and everything in this living room makes sense.

it's another week. it's sunday afternoon and you're making pancakes because arbitrary food rules be damned, pancakes should be eaten at any time of day. tatiana's on your sofa, some russian book open on her belly, eyes closed. you're not sure if she's asleep or not but you're quiet but in case. you settle down in the chair opposite her and begin to attack your pancakes. there's a beam of warm afternoon sunlight illuminating her like a soft domestic halo and you can't help but stare. she stirs . she opens her eyes. you're still staring. she smiles, suave and honest, and sits up. “hi,” she says. “ hi,” you whisper back. why are you still being quiet? she's standing up. she's walking toward you. she's gently taking your plate out of your hand, taking your hand. “hi,” she says again, and she's kissing you, and in a moment you're kissing her back, and it's warm and sweet and she tastes like sunshine and you're so alive.